Architectural theory arises from building, when the mind considers its symbolic relations to its own constructions. The intent of this essay is to discuss the intellectual causes that precede building and precede theory. It considers certain fundamental dualities in our thinking about architecture—such as image and word; type and model; imitation and invention—and the role they play in its making, its perfection as an art, and the eventual elaboration of its tenets into a theory. At a time when theories of (...) architecture proliferate as expressions of ‘personal philosophies,’ a careful and incisive philosophical approach to if, how, and when does theory become formative of building, may ensure that architecture remain faithful to its intrinsic purposes. (shrink)
This essay assesses the opposition of pluralism and monism with respect to politics and architecture, developing the argument within three general areas: the spurious association between political intentions and architectural character, the distinctions and commonalties between political freedom and artistic freedom, and the adverse effect of inappropriate associations between political content and artistic form in general and, in particular, the perceptual impairment of the processes by which buildings come to be endowed with their suitable character.
I discuss two subjects in Samir Okasha’s excellent book, Evolution and the Levels of Selection. In consonance with Okasha’s critique of the conventionalist view of the units of selection problem, I argue that conventionalists have not attended to what realists mean by group, individual, and genic selection. In connection with Okasha’s discussion of the Price equation and contextual analysis, I discuss whether the existence of these two quantitative frameworks is a challenge to realism.
After a thorough examination of the claim that "the underdetermination of theory by evidence forces us to seek sociological explanations of scientists' cognitive choices", Samir Okasha concludes that the only significant problem with this argument is that the thesis of underdetermination is not adequately supported. Against Okasha, I argue (1) that there is a very good reason to question the inference from the underdetermination of a theory to a sociological account of that theory's acceptance, and (2) that Okasha's own (...) objection to the argument is too weak. (shrink)
The debate about the levels of selection has been one of the most controversial both in evolutionary biology and in philosophy of science. Okasha’s book makes the sort of contribution that simply will not be able to be ignored by anyone interested in this field for many years to come. However, my interest here is in highlighting some examples of how Okasha goes about discussing his material to suggest that his book is part of an increasingly interesting trend that sees (...) scientists and philosophers coming together to build a broadened concept of “theory” through a combination of standard mathematical treatments and conceptual analyses. Given the often contentious history of the relationship between philosophy and science, such trend cannot but be welcome. (shrink)
Does natural selection act primarily on individual organisms, on groups, on genes, or on whole species? The question of levels of selection - on which biologists and philosophers have long disagreed - is central to evolutionary theory and to the philosophy of biology. Samir Okasha's comprehensive analysis gives a clear account of the philosophical issues at stake in the current debate.
Modeling in biology and economics Content Type Journal Article Pages 613-615 DOI 10.1007/s10539-011-9271-5 Authors Michael Weisberg, Department of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania, 433, Cohen Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6304, USA Samir Okasha, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1TB UK Uskali Mäki, Department of Political and Economic Studies / Philosophy, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland Journal Biology and Philosophy Online ISSN 1572-8404 Print ISSN 0169-3867 Journal Volume Volume 26 Journal Issue Volume 26, Number 5.
What is science? Is there a real difference between science and myth? Is science objective? Can science explain everything? This Very Short Introduction provides a concise overview of the main themes of contemporary philosophy of science. Beginning with a short history of science to set the scene, Samir Okasha goes on to investigate the nature of scientific reasoning, scientific explanation, revolutions in science, and theories such as realism and anti-realism. He also looks at philosophical issues in particular sciences, including (...) the problem of classification in biology, and the nature of space and time in physics. The final chapter touches on the conflicts between science and religion, and explores whether science is ultimately a good thing. (shrink)
Wynne-Edwards and the history of group selection Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9613-6 Authors Samir Okasha, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1TB UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Here, for the first time, development studies encounters the set of ideas popularly known as 'Chaos Theory'. Samir Rihani applies to the processes of economic development, ideas from complex adaptive systems like uncertainty, complexity, and unpredictability. Rihani examines various aspects of the development process - including the World Bank, debt, and the struggle against poverty - and demonstrates the limitations of fundamentally linear thinking in an essentially non-linear world.
Samir Amin depicts a world in which NATO has taken over the role of the United Nations, in which US hegemony is more or less complete, in which millions are condemned to die in order to preserve the social order of the US, Europe and Japan. Amin's analyses of the Gulf War, the wars in former Yugoslavia and the war in Central Asia reveal the scope of US strategic aims. He argues that the political and military dimension of US (...) dominance is as significant as US economic preponderance in determining the future of capitalist development. (shrink)
Biologists and philosophers of biology typically regard essentialism about speciesas incompatible with modern Darwinian theory. Analytic metaphysicians such asKripke, Putnam and Wiggins, on the other hand, believe that their essentialist thesesare applicable to biological kinds. I explore this tension. I show that standard anti-essentialist considerations only show that species do not have intrinsic essential properties. I argue that while Putnam and Kripke do make assumptions that contradict received biological opinion, their model of natural kinds, suitably modified, is partially applicable to (...) biological species. However, Wiggins'' thesis that organisms belong essentially to their species is untenable, given modern species concepts. I suggest that Putnam''s, Kripke''s and Wiggins'' errors stem from adopting an account of the point of scientific classification which implies that relationally-defined kinds are likely to be of little value, an account which is inapplicable to biology. (shrink)
Advocates of the "strong programme" in the sociology of knowledge have argued that, because scientific theories are "underdetermined" by data, sociological factors must be invoked to explain why scientists believe the theories they do. I examine this argument, and the responses to it by J.R. Brown (1989) and L. Laudan (1996). I distinguish between a number of different versions of the underdetermination thesis, some trivial, some substantive. I show that Brown's and Laudan's attempts to refute the sociologists' argument fail. Nonetheless, (...) the sociologists' argument falls to a different criticism, for the version of the underdetermination thesis that the argument requires, has not been shown to be true. (shrink)
Philosophy of biology is a vibrant and growing field. From initial roots in the metaphysics of species (Ghiselin, Hull), questions about whether biology has laws of nature akin to those of physics (Ruse, Hull), and discussions of teleology and function (Grene 1974, Brandon 1981), the field has grown since the 1970s to include a vast range of topics. Over the last few decades, philosophy has had an important impact on biology, partly through following the model of engagement with science that (...) was set by first-wave philosophers of biology like Marjorie Grene, Morton Beckner, David Hull, William Wimsatt and others. Today some parts of philosophy of biology are indistinguishable from theoretical biology. This is due in part to the impetus provided by second-wave philosophers of biology like James Griesemer, John Beatty, William Bechtel, Robert Brandon, Elisabeth Lloyd, and Elliott Sober. Indeed, philosophers have been instrumental in establishing theoretical biology as a field by collaborating with scientists, publishing in science journals, and by taking up conceptual questions at the heart of the biological enterprise. (shrink)
Crispin Wright has given an explanation of how a first time warrant can fall short of transmitting across a known entailment. Formal epistemologists have struggled to turn Wright’s informal explanation into cogent Bayesian reasoning. In this paper, I analyse two Bayesian models of Wright’s account respectively proposed by Samir Okasha and Jake Chandler. I argue that both formalizations are unsatisfactory for different reasons, and I lay down a third Bayesian model that appears to me to capture the valid kernel (...) of Wright’s explanation. After this, I consider a recent development in Wright’s account of transmission failure. Wright suggests that his condition sufficient for transmission failure of first time warrant also suffices for transmission failure of supplementary warrant. I propose an interpretation of Wright’s suggestion that shield it from objections. I then lay down a fourth Bayesian framework that provides a simplified model of the unified explanation of transmission failure envisaged by Wright. (shrink)
This paper examines how experimental scientists choose theoretical frameworks as well as their experimental systems for doing research. I start out with Kuhn's claim that there are no (single) algorithms that could determine the choices made by individual scientists. Samir Okasha has recently provided an argument for this claim in terms of social choice theory, which I briefly discuss. Then, I show why this problem is not relevant in an experimental science. There are social mechanisms in place that make (...) sure the community chooses the best framework and a matching experimental system. As historical evidence for this claim, I present the case of classical genetics. (shrink)
This essay engages in a comparative analysis of Theodor W. Adorno and Hannah Arendt. It does so by situating both thinkers in terms of their respective Auseinandersetzungen with the fundamental ontology of Martin Heidegger. While Heidegger seeks to engage in a Destruktion of the opposition between time and being, Adorno and Arendt seek to understand this relation critically in terms of the concept of natural history. For both, a reading of Kants Third Critique becomes the indispensable means by which it (...) is possible to locate a path pointing beyond the chiasmic structure of natural history. Key Words: Adorno aesthetic experience Arendt Heidegger history inter-subjectivity judgement phenomenology politics writing. (shrink)
The group selection controversy is about whether natural selection ever operates at the level of groups, rather than at the level of individual organisms. Traditionally, group selection has been invoked to explain the existence of altruistic behaviour in nature. However, most contemporary evolutionary biologists are highly sceptical of the hypothesis of group selection, which they regard as biologically implausible and not needed to explain the evolution of altruism anyway. But in their recent book, Elliot Sober and David Sloan Wilson  (...) argue that the widespread opposition to group selection is founded on conceptual confusion. The theories that have been propounded as alternatives to group selection are actually group selection in disguise, they maintain. I examine their arguments for this claim, and John Maynard Smith's arguments against it. I argue that Sober and Wilson arrive at a correct position by faulty reasoning. In the final section, I examine the issue of how to apply the principle of natural selection at different levels of the biological hierarchy, which underlies the dispute between Sober and Wilson and Maynard Smith. (shrink)
Crispin Wright’s discussion of the notion of ‘transmission-failure’ promises to have important philosophical ramifications, both in epistemology and beyond. This paper offers a precise, formal characterisation of the concept within a Bayesian framework. The interpretation given avoids the serious shortcomings of a recent alternative proposal due to Samir Okasha.
In models of multi-level selection, the property of Darwinian fitness is attributed to entities at more than one level of the biological hierarchy, e.g. individuals and groups. However, the relation between individual and group fitness is a controversial matter. Theorists disagree about whether group fitness should always, or ever, be defined as total (or average) individual fitness. This paper tries to shed light on the issue by drawing on work in social choice theory, and pursuing an analogy between fitness and (...) utility. Social choice theorists have long been interested in the relation between individual and social utility, and have identified conditions under which social utility equals total (or average) individual utility. These ideas are used to shed light on the biological problem. (shrink)
Group selection is one acknowledged mechanism for the evolution of altruism. It is well known that for altruism to spread by natural selection, interactions must be correlated; that is, altruists must tend to associate with one another. But does group selection itself require correlated interactions? Two possible arguments for answering this question affirmatively are explored. The first is a bad argument, for it rests on a product/process confusion. The second is a more subtle argument, whose validity (or otherwise) turns on (...) issues concerning the meaning of multi-level selection and how it should be modelled. A cautious defence of the second argument is offered. Introduction Multi-level selection and the evolution of altruism Price's equation and multi-level selection Contextual analysis and multi-level selection The neighbour approach Recapitulation and conclusion. (shrink)
Elliott Sober and Ken Waters both raise interesting and difficult challenges for various aspects of the position I set out in Evolution and the Levels of the Selection. I am grateful to them for their penetrating criticisms of my work, and find myself in agreement with many of their points.
In their recent book, Elliott Sober and David Wilson (1998) argue that evolutionary biologists have wrongly regarded kinship as the exclusive means by which altruistic behavior can evolve, at the expense of other mechanisms. I argue that Sober and Wilson overlook certain genetical considerations which suggest that kinship is likely to be a more powerful means for generating complex altruistic adaptations than the alternative mechanisms they propose.
It is widely agreed that Hume's description of human inductive reasoning is inadequate. But many philosophers think that this inadequacy in no way affects the force of Hume's argument for the unjustifiability of inductive reasoning. I argue that this constellation of opinions contains a serious tension, given that Hume was not merely pointing out that induction is fallible. I then explore a recent diagnosis of where Hume's sceptical argument goes wrong, due to Elliott Sober. Sober argues that Hume committed a (...) quantifier-shift fallacy, i.e. inferred a statement of ?? form from one of ?? form. The implications of this diagnosis for the traditional problem of induction are briefly examined. (shrink)
We consider the question: under what circumstances can the concept of adaptation be applied to groups, rather than individuals? Gardner and Grafen (2009, J. Evol. Biol.22: 659–671) develop a novel approach to this question, building on Grafen's ‘formal Darwinism’ project, which defines adaptation in terms of links between evolutionary dynamics and optimization. They conclude that only clonal groups, and to a lesser extent groups in which reproductive competition is repressed, can be considered as adaptive units. We re-examine the conditions under (...) which the selection–optimization links hold at the group level. We focus on an important distinction between two ways of understanding the links, which have different implications regarding group adaptationism. We show how the formal Darwinism approach can be reconciled with G.C. Williams’ famous analysis of group adaptation, and we consider the relationships between group adaptation, the Price equation approach to multi-level selection, and the alternative approach based on contextual analysis. (shrink)
We review Evolution and the Levels of Selection by Samir Okasha. This important book provides a cohesive philosophical framework for understanding levels-of-selections problems in biology. Concerning evolutionary transitions, Okasha proposes that three stages characterize the shift from a lower level of selection to a higher one. We discuss the application of Okasha’s three-stage concept to the evolutionary transition from unicellularity to multicellularity in the volvocine green algae. Okasha’s concepts are a provocative step towards a more general understanding of the (...) major evolutionary transitions; however, the application of certain ideas to the volvocine model system is not straightforward. (shrink)
I examine the argument that scientific theories are typically 'underdetermined' by the data, an argument which has often been used to combat scientific realism. I deal with two objections to the underdetermination argument: (i) that the argument conflicts with the holistic nature of confirmation, and (ii) that the argument rests on an untenable theory/data dualism. I discuss possible responses to both objections, and argue that in both cases the proponent of underdetermination can respond in ways which are individually plausible, but (...) that the best response to the first objection conflicts with the best response to the second. Consequently underdetermination poses less of a problem for scientific realism than has often been thought. (shrink)
Andrew Bourke’s Principles of Social Evolution identifies three stages that characterize an evolutionary transition in individuality and deploys inclusive fitness theory to explain each stage. The third stage, social group transformation, has hitherto received relatively little attention from inclusive fitness theorists. In this review, I first discuss Bourke’s “virtual dominance” hypothesis for the evolution of the germ line. I then contrast Bourke’s inclusive fitness approach to the major transitions with the multi-level approach developed by Richard Michod, Samir Okasha and (...) others. I suggest that, rather than choosing between these approaches, we should exploit the strengths of both. Finally, I stress the need for a firmer conceptual grasp of the nature of social group transformation. (shrink)
Derrida argued at great length early on in his career that texts live on in the absence of their author. The question remains, however, of precisely how this survival takes place. In this paper I argue that the life of Derrida's own oeuvre is sustained through his particular practice of self-inheritance. I justify this claim by focusing on one moment in the text Rogues: Two Essays on Reason, in which Derrida inherits from himself through self-citation. In citing himself while at (...) the same time modifying his citation, Derrida sets into motion a deconstruction of his own text that he does not seem to anticipate. It is this movement of deconstruction that enables Derrida's text to live on. (shrink)
John Harsanyi and John Rawls both used the veil of ignorance thought experiment to study the problem of choosing between alternative social arrangements. With his , Harsanyi tried to show that the veil of ignorance argument leads inevitably to utilitarianism, an argument criticized by Sen, Weymark and others. A quite different use of the veil-of-ignorance concept is found in evolutionary biology. In the cell-division process called meiosis, in which sexually reproducing organisms produce gametes, the chromosome number is halved; when meiosis (...) is fair, each gene has only a fifty percent chance of making it into any gamete. This creates a Mendelian veil of ignorance, which has the effect of aligning the interests of all the genes in an organism. This paper shows how Harsanyi's version of the veil-of-ignorance argument can shed light on Mendelian genetics. There turns out to be an intriguing biological analogue of the impartial observer theorem that is immune from the Sen/Weymark objections to Harsanyi's original. (shrink)
The “free” in “free software” refers to a cluster of four specific freedoms identified by the Free Software Definition. The first freedom, termed “Freedom Zero,” intends to protect the right of the user to deploy software in whatever fashion, towards whatever end, he or she sees fit. But software may be used to achieve ethically questionable ends. This highlights a tension in the provision of software freedoms: while the definition explicitly forbids direct restrictions on users’ freedoms, it does not address (...) other means by which software may indirectly restrict freedoms. In particular, ethically-inflected debate has featured prominently in the discussion of restrictions on digital rights management and privacy-violating code in version 3 of the GPL (GPLv3). The discussion of this proposed language revealed the spectrum of ethical positions and valuations held by members of the free software community. In our analysis, we will provide arguments for upholding Freedom Zero; we embed the problem of possible uses of software in the broader context of the uses of scientific knowledge, and go on to argue that the provision of Freedom Zero mitigates against too great a moral burden—of anticipating possible uses of software—being placed on the programmer and that, most importantly, it facilitates deliberative discourse in the free software community. (shrink)
Many philosophers argue that Bayesian epistemology cannot help us with the traditional Humean problem of induction. I argue that this view is partially but not wholly correct. It is true that Bayesianism does not solve Hume’s problem, in the way that the classical and logical theories of probability aimed to do. However I argue that in one important respect, Hume’s sceptical challenge cannot simply be transposed to a probabilistic context, where beliefs come in degrees, rather than being a yes/no matter.
One controversy about the existence of so called evolutionary forces such as natural selection and random genetic drift concerns the sense in which such “forces” can be said to interact. In this paper I explain how natural selection and random drift can interact. In particular, I show how population-level probabilities can be derived from individual-level probabilities, and explain the sense in which natural selection and drift are embodied in these population-level probabilities. I argue that whatever causal character the individual-level probabilities (...) have is then shared by the population-level probabilities, and that natural selection and random drift then have that same causal character. Moreover, natural selection and drift can then be viewed as two aspects of probability distributions over frequencies in populations of organisms. My characterization of population-level probabilities is largely neutral about what interpretation of probability is required, allowing my approach to support various positions on biological probabilities, including those which give biological probabilities one or another sort of causal character. ‡This paper has benefited from feedback on and discussions of this and earlier work. I want to thank André Ariew, Matt Barker, Lindley Darden, Patrick Forber, Nancy Hall, Mohan Matthen, Samir Okasha, Jeremy Pober, Robert Richardson, Alex Rosenberg, Eric Seidel, Denis Walsh, and Bill Wimsatt. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Alabama at Birmingham, HB 414A, 900 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294-1260; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
This paper provides a philosophical analysis of the ongoing controversy surrounding R.A. Fisher's famous fundamental theorem of natural selection. The difference between the traditional and modern interpretations of the theorem is explained. I argue that proponents of the modern interpretation have captured Fisher's intended meaning correctly and shown that the theorem is mathematically correct, pace the traditional consensus. However, whether the theorem has any real biological significance remains an unresolved issue. I argue that the answer depends on whether we accept (...) Fisher's non-standard notion of environmental change, on which the theorem rests; arguments for and against this notion are explored. I suggest that there is a close link between Fisher's fundamental theorem and the modern gene's eye view of evolution. Introduction What Does the Fundamental Theorem Say? Key Concepts Explained Alleged Significance of the FTNS Traditional versus Modern Interpretations of the FTNS The Modern Interpretation Illustrated Fisher's Concept of Environmental Change Causality and the Modern Interpretation The Significance of the FTNS Re-considered Appendix CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The levels of selection problem was central to Maynard Smith’s work throughout his career. This paper traces Maynard Smith’s views on the levels of selection, from his objections to group selection in the 1960s to his concern with the major evolutionary transitions in the 1990s. The relations between Maynard Smith’s position and those of Hamilton and G.C. Williams are explored, as is Maynard Smith’s dislike of the Price equation approach to multi-level selection. Maynard Smith’s account of the ‘core Darwinian principles’ (...) is discussed, as is his debate with Sober and Wilson (1998) over the status of trait-group models, and his attitude to the currently fashionable concept of pluralism about the levels of selection. (shrink)
This paper compares two well-known arguments in the units of selection literature, one due to , the other due to . Both arguments concern the legitimacy of averaging fitness values across contexts and making inferences about the level of selection on that basis. The first three sections of the paper shows that the two arguments are incompatible if taken at face value, their apparent similarity notwithstanding. If we accept Sober and Lewontin's criterion for when averaging genic fitnesses across diploid genotypes (...) is illegitmate, we cannot accept Sober and Wilson's criterion for when averaging individual fitnesses across groups is illegitimate, and vice versa. The final section suggests a possible way of reconciling the two arguments, by invoking an ambiguity in the concept of genic selection. (shrink)
Marc Lange has criticized my assertion that relative to a Bayesian conception of inductive reasoning, Hume's argument for inductive scepticism cannot be run. I reply that the way in which Lange suggests one should run the Humean argument in a Bayesian framework ignores the fact that in Bayesian models of learning from experience, the domain of an agent's probability measure is exogenously determined. I also show that Lange is incorrect to equate probability distributions which 'support inductive inferences' with probability distributions (...) which assign probability to contingent propositions/events. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore Larry Laudan's and Jarrett Leplin's recent claim that empirically equivalent theories may be differentially confirmed. I show that their attempt to prise apart empirical equivalence and epistemic parity commits them to two principles of confirmation that Hempel demonstrated to be incompatible.
A number of recent biologists have used multi-level selection theory to help explain the major transitions in evolution. I argue that in doing so, they have shifted from a ‘synchronic’ to a ‘diachronic’ formulation of the levels of selection question. The implications of this shift in perspective are explored, in relation to an ambiguity in the meaning of multi-level selection. Though the ambiguity is well-known, it has never before been discussed in the context of the major transitions.
Verificationism has often seemed attractive to philosophers because of its apparent abilityto deliver us from scepticism. However, I argue that purely epistemological considerationsprovide insufficient reason for embracing verificationism over realism. I distinguish twotypes of sceptical problem: those that stem from underdetermination by the actual data,and those that stem from underdetermination by all possible data. Verificationismevades problems of the second sort, but is powerless in the face of problems of the firstsort. But problems of the first sort are equally pressing. Furthermore, (...) there is some reasonto think that the two types of problem have a common origin. Thus the desire to avoidscepticism provides insufficient reason for adopting verificationism. (shrink)
Software is much more than sequences of instructions for a computing machine: it can be an enabler (or disabler) of political imperatives and policies. Hence, it is subject to the same assessment in a normative dimension as other political and social phenomena. The core distinction between free software and its proprietary counterpart is that free software makes available to its user the knowledge and innovation contributed by the creator(s) of the software, in the form of the created source code. From (...) an ethical perspective, one of the most pressing questions raised by this form of collaboration is the question of the rights, and the restrictions on them, that are passed on to users and collaborators by the creators of programs. That is, what freedoms do software users deserve, and how can they best be protected? In this study we analyze free software licensing schemes in order to determine which most effectively protects such freedoms. We conclude that so-called copyleft licensing schemes are the morally superior alternative. (shrink)
At its beginning, the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) did not include measures to guide farmers in preserving ecosystems. At the same time, the social context on the 1960s and 1970s did not encourage environmental care to become a priority. Since the 1980s, new social concern expressed alarm over ecology, recognizing that agriculture can pollute. These social changes moved the CAP to add measures that linked agriculture and environment. In order to study if the EU decision-makers have designed a (...) CAP which responds to a new ethic that incorporates environmental care and social demands, two questions rise: whether the social image of agriculture as a polluting activity has changed; and whether farming performs the environmental functions demanded by society. To answer the previous questions, we have reviewed the environmental aspects added to the CAP, then a poll has been conducted and cluster method and classification tree models have been used to group respondents according to their opinions. The results show that the society ascribes great relevance to the environment for the future sustainability of the region, but they are not satisfied with the role of agriculture in producing environmental outputs. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the meaning of birth in the work of Agamben, Esposito, and Derrida, paying particular attention to how it operates in their analyses of citizenship and national belonging. I show that Agamben views birth as negative, Esposito proposes a positive conception, and Derrida's writings imply an understanding that is ambivalent. Then, by focusing on the phenomenon of multiple citizenship, I argue for the value of the Derridean view.
In a recent paper replying to the inductive sceptic, Samir Okasha says that the Humean argument for inductive scepticism depends on mistakenly construing inductive reasoning as based on a principle of the uniformity of nature. I dispute Okasha's argument that we are entitled to the background beliefs on which (he says) inductive reasoning depends. Furthermore, I argue that the sorts of theoretically impoverished contexts to which a uniformity-of-nature principle has traditionally been restricted are exactly the contexts relevant to the (...) inductive sceptic's argument, and (pace Okasha) are not at all remote from actual scientific practice. I discuss several scientific examples involving such contexts. (shrink)
A number of recent philosophers, including Michael Williams, Barry Stroud and Donald Davidson, have argued that scepticism about the external world stems from the foundationalist assumption that sensory experience supplies the data for our beliefs about the world. In order to assess this thesis, I offer abrief characterisation of the logical form of sceptical arguments. I suggest that sceptical arguments rely on the idea that many of our beliefs about the world are ‘underdetermined’ by the evidence on which they are (...) based. Drawing on this characterisation of scepticism, I argue that Williams, Stroud andDavidson are right to see the foundationalist assumption as essential to the sceptic’s argument, but wrong to think that scepticism is inevitable once that assumption is in place. By pursuing an analogy with some recent debates in the philosophy of science, I try to locate the additional assumptions which the sceptic must make, in order to derive her conclusion. (shrink)
An evolutionary basis for Bayesian rationality is suggested, by consid- ering how natural selection would operate on an organism's `policy' for choosing an action depending on an environmental signal. It is shown that the evolutionarily optimal policy, as judged by the criterion of maximal expected reproductive output, is the policy which for each signal, chooses an action that maximizes conditional expected output given that signal. An organism using such a policy is behaving as if it were a Bayesian agent with (...) probabilistic beliefs about the states of nature, that it updates by conditionalization, and whose choice behaviour obeys expected util- ity maximization. This suggests a possible route by which Bayes-rational creatures might have evolved. (shrink)
We present a framework that provides a logic for science by generalizing the notion of logical (Tarskian) consequence. This framework will introduce hierarchies of logical consequences, the first level of each of which is identified with deduction. We argue for identification of the second level of the hierarchies with inductive inference. The notion of induction presented here has some resonance with Popper's notion of scientific discovery by refutation. Our framework rests on the assumption of a restricted class of structures in (...) contrast to the permissibility of classical first-order logic. We make a distinction between deductive and inductive inference via the notions of compactness and weak compactness. Connections with the arithmetical hierarchy and formal learning theory are explored. For the latter, we argue against the identification of inductive inference with the notion of learnable in the limit. Several results highlighting desirable properties of these hierarchies of generalized logical consequence are also presented. (shrink)
Two alternative statistical approaches to modelling multi-level selection in nature, both found in the contemporary biological literature, are contrasted. The simple covariance approach partitions the total selection differential on a phenotypic character into within-group and between-group components, and identifies the change due to group selection with the latter. The contextual approach partitions the total selection differential into different components, using multivariate regression analysis. The two approaches have different implications for the question of what constitutes group selection and what does not. (...) I argue that the contextual approach is theoretically preferable. This has important implications for a number of issues in the philosophical debate about the levels of selection. Introduction Group selection and the covariance formulation of selection The contextual approach A modification of the simple covariance approach Consequences: frameshifting and additivity 5.1 Frameshifting 5.2 Additivity Conclusion. (shrink)
This paper investigates the role of the concept of group heritability in group selection theory, in relation to the well-known distinction between type 1 and type 2 group selection (GS1 and GS2). I argue that group heritability is required for the operation of GS1 but not GS2, despite what a number of authors have claimed. I offer a numerical example of the evolution of altruism in a multi-group population which demonstrates that a group heritability coefficient of zero is perfectly compatible (...) with the successful operation of group selection in the GS2 sense. A diagnosis of why group heritability has wrongly been regarded as necessary for GS2 is suggested. (shrink)
We propose a new relevance sensitive model for representing and revising belief structures, which relies on a notion of partial language splitting and tolerates some amount of inconsistency while retaining classical logic. The model preserves an agent's ability to answer queries in a coherent way using Belnap's four-valued logic. Axioms analogous to the AGM axioms hold for this new model. The distinction between implicit and explicit beliefs is represented and psychologically plausible, computationally tractable procedures for query answering and belief..
Stanovich & West (S&W) are wrong to think that all “reject-the-norm” theorists simply wish to reduce the normative/descriptive gap. They have misunderstood Issac Levi's reasons for rejecting Tversky and Kahneman's normative assumptions in the “base-rate” experiments. In their discussion of the taxicab experiment, (S&W) erroneously claim that subjects' responses indicate whether they have reasoned in accordance with Bayesian principles or not.
It's surprising that contemporary moral philosophers have not thought more about food. The rapidly expanding industrialized landscape of modern western agribusiness raises moral concerns about large-scale livestock production, the increased usage of genetically modified crops, and the effects these now common practices may have on long-term environmental and human health. Here Pence argues that biotechnology is more helpful than harmful, on the ground that it will abate world hunger. Positioning himself as an "impartialbioethicist" he sets about the task of sorting (...) through the extremism he thinks drives all environ- mental movements' opposition to genetically modified (GM) crops. His argu- ment is simple: the claim that GM foods are unsafe is the product of alarmism, not sound reason. Discarding what environmentalists have called the Precau- tionary Principle, he argues that GM foods are safe because they have not been proven unsafe. And GM foods have been tested more than many food products now on the market. (shrink)
Consider sentences like (1): 1. Null Complement Containing Sentences a. Aryn followed b. Marie-Odile promised c. Corinne left d. Samir found out at midnight e. I applied f. They already know g. He volunteered h. Abdiwahid insisted i. I suppose j. Paul gave to Amnesty International These illustrate the phenomenon of null complements -- also called ‘pragmatically controlled zero anaphora’, ‘understood arguments’, and ‘linguistically unrealized arguments’. In each case, a complement is (phonologically) omitted, yet (a) the sentence is well-formed (...) and (b) the meaning effect is as if a complement were present. This contrasts on the one hand with structures that lack complements, but are ill-formed as a result – e.g., (2a-c) – and, on the other hand, with structures that lack overt complements, are well-formed, but do not exhibit the meaning effect of a complement – e.g., sentences (3a-b). 2. Contrast with Ill-formed Structures.. (shrink)
The idea that clades might be units of selection, defended by a number of biologists and philosophers of biology, is critically examined. I argue that only entities which reproduce, i.e. leave offspring, can be units of selection, and that a necessary condition of reproduction is that the offspring entity be able, in principle, to outlive its parental entity. Given that clades are monophlyetic by definition, it follows that clades do not reproduce, so it makes no sense to talk about a (...) clade's fitness, so clade selection is impossible. Three possible responses to this argument are examined and found wanting. (shrink)
We provide a formal study of belief retraction operators that do not necessarily satisfy the (Inclusion) postulate. Our intuition is that a rational description of belief change must do justice to cases in which dropping a belief can lead to the inclusion, or ‘liberation’, of others in an agent's corpus. We provide two models of liberation via retraction operators: ρ-liberation and linear liberation. We show that the class of ρ-liberation operators is included in the class of linear ones and provide (...) axiomatic characterisations for each class. We show how any retraction operator (including the liberation operators) can be ‘converted’ into either a withdrawal operator (i.e., satisfying (Inclusion)) or a revision operator via (a slight variant of) the Harper Identity and the Levi Identity respectively. (shrink)
validity of attributes that have been suggested as pointers of personand obligations on behalf of his household; his wife and children hood, and conclude that they will take their place within a broader were only indirectly the subject of legal rights and his slaves were matrix of pragmatic, philosophical and extra-legal concepts.
We present a model for ﬁrst-order belief revision that is characterized by an underlying relevance-like relation and a background proof system. The model is extremely general in order to allow for a wide variety in these characterizing parameters. It allows some weakenings of beliefs which were initially implicit to become explicit and survive the revision process. The effects of revision are localized to the part of the theory that is inﬂuenced by the the new information. Iterated revision in this model (...) is handled trivially since the revision operator is constructive by deﬁnition. The usage of deductively limited proof systems permits an inconsistency tolerant model. The notion of a part of a theory capable of being inﬂuenced by new information (designed to accomodate the speciﬁc character of ﬁrst-order languages) is shown to satisfy some intuitive and desirable properties. We show that for particular parametrizations, standard revision schemes can be embedded into our paradigm. (shrink)
The axiom of recovery, while capturing a central intuition regarding belief change, has been the source of much controversy. We argue briefly against putative counterexamples to the axiom—while agreeing that some of their insight deserves to be preserved—and present additional recovery-like axioms in a framework that uses epistemic states, which encode preferences, as the object of revisions. This makes iterated revision possible and renders explicit the connection between iterated belief change and the axiom of recovery. We provide a representation theorem (...) that connects the semantic conditions we impose on iterated revision and our additional syntactical properties. We show interesting similarities between our framework and that of Darwiche–Pearl (Artificial Intelligence 89:1–29 1997). In particular, we show that intuitions underlying the controversial (C2) postulate are captured by the recovery axiom and our recovery-like postulates (the latter can be seen as weakenings of (C2)). We present postulates for contraction, in the same spirit as the Darwiche–Pearl postulates for revision, and provide a theorem that connects our syntactic postulates with a set of semantic conditions. Lastly, we show a connection between the contraction postulates and a generalisation of the recovery axiom. (shrink)
Sustainable agriculture refers to farming systems with economic, social, and environmental viability that must respond to citizens’ interests and concerns. However, European citizens are not satisfied with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) due to misinterpretation of their preferences. Because of this, the European agricultural model’s long-term viability is being questioned, especially after the European Commission’s CAP proposals in 2011. This paper examines European agriculture’s potential sustainability with regard to citizens’ preferences. First, focus groups and the Analytic Hierarchy Process are used (...) to identify and quantify southern Spanish citizens’ preferences for farming. Second, socio-demographic features and opinions that determine preferences towards agriculture are studied by a multinomial logit model and a cluster analysis. A comparison is made between citizens’ preferences and the CAP aims because the CAP aims address all European farming. The main results indicate that agricultural economic, environmental, and social functions are equally important to the respondents in our study, even though the CAP prioritizes the economic ones. However, some citizen groups agree with the agricultural model designed by the CAP. (shrink)
Samir Okasha argues that clade selection is an incoherent concept, because the relation that constitutes clades is such that it renders parent-offspring (reproduction) relations between clades impossible. He reasons that since clades cannot reproduce, it is not coherent to speak of natural selection operating at the clade level. We argue, however, that when species-level lineages and clade-level lineages are treated consistently according to standard cladist commitments, clade reproduction is indeed possible and clade selection is coherent if certain conditions obtain. (...) Despite clade selection’s logical coherence, however, we share some of Okasha’s pessimism. Whether or not clades are a unit of selection is ultimately a question of empirical support and theoretical import, but we offer reasons to be skeptical about clade selection as a research programme. (shrink)
Samir Okasha argues that clade selection is an incoherent concept, because the relation that constitutes clades is such that it renders parent-offspring (reproduction) relations between clades impossible. He reasons that since clades cannot reproduce, it is not coherent to speak of natural selection operating at the clade level. We argue, however, that when species-level lineages and clade-level lineages are treated consistently according to standard cladist commitments, clade reproduction is indeed possible and clade selection is coherent if certain conditions obtain. (...) Despite clade selection's logical coherence, however, we share some of Okasha's pessimism. Whether or not clades are a unit of selection is ultimately a question of empirical support and theoretical import. (shrink)
I argue that population-level selection does not necessarily have to be invoked to explain the polymorphism at the MHC locus. I argue that the authors' attempt to model operant conditioning in Darwinian terms faces a serious problem. Depending on how many operant responses we take to comprise a sequence, different conclusions about whether or not evolution is occurring in an operant lineage will be reached.
RESUMEN: En el actual contexto científico que forma la concepción darwiniana de las especies aún persisten las interpretaciones esencialistas de los conceptos de especie. ¿Se trata aquí sólo de la ignorancia de la teoría biológica? O, más bien, ¿es posible comprender la persistencia de los enfoques esencialistas sobre la base de la potencialidad de estos enfoques para explicar el logro de ciertos valores epistémicos de los actuales conceptos de especie? Me propongo responder afirmativamente a esta última pregunta. En la sección (...) 1 argumento que Samir Okasha (2002) no logra mostrar que hay otras razones, distintas a la de la ignorancia de la biología, que motivan el error de Kripke y de Putnam acerca de las especies. En la sección 2 propongo mi respuesta a la pregunta inicial en términos de algunos valores epistémicos que comparten las ideas esencialistas acerca de las especies y algunos de los actuales conceptos de especie.ABSTRACT: In the current scientific context that forms Darwinian conception of species, essentialist interpretations of the species concept persist. Is this only because of an ignorance of the biological theory? Or rather, is it possible to understand the persistence of essentialist approaches on the basis of the potentiality of these approaches to account for the achievement of certain epistemic values of the current species concepts? I intend to give a positive answer to this second question. In Section 1, I argue that Samir Okasha (2002) does not succeed in demonstrating that there are other reasons, which are different from that one regarding the ignorance about biology, which cause Kripke and Putnam to be mistaken about the species. In Section 2, I put forward my answer to the initial question in terms of some epistemic values sharing the essentialist ideas about the species and some of the current species concepts. (shrink)