In Baumann (American Philosophical Quarterly 42: 71–79, 2005) I argued that reflections on a variation of the Monty Hall problem throws a very general skeptical light on the idea of single-case probabilities. Levy (Synthese, forthcoming, 2007) puts forward some interesting objections which I answer here.
Hájek has recently presented the following paradox. You are certain that a cable guy will visit you tomorrow between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. but you have no further information about when. And you agree to a bet on whether he will come in the morning interval (8, 12] or in the afternoon interval (12, 4). At first, you have no reason to prefer one possibility rather than the other. But you soon realise that there will definitely be a future (...) time at which you will (rationally) assign higher probability to an afternoon arrival than a morning one, due to time elapsing. You are also sure there may not be a future time at which you will (rationally) assign a higher probability to a morning arrival than an afternoon one. It would therefore appear that you ought to bet on an afternoon arrival. The paradox is based on the apparent incompatibility of the principle of expected utility and principles of diachronic rationality which are prima facie plausible. Hájek concludes that the latter are false, but doesn't provide a clear diagnosis as to why. We endeavour to further our understanding of the paradox by providing such a diagnosis. (shrink)
Epistemological contextualism - the claim that the truth-value of knowledge-attributions can vary with the context of the attributor - has recently faced a whole series of objections. The most serious one, however, has not been discussed much so far: the factivity objection. In this paper, I explain what the objection is and present three different versions of the objection. I then show that there is a good way out for the contextualist. However, in order to solve the problem the contextualist (...) has to accept a relationalist version of contextualism. (shrink)
Classical empiricism leads to notorious problems having to do with the (at least prima facie) lack of an acceptable empiricist justification of empiricism itself. Bas van Fraassen claims that his idea of the “empirical stance” can deal with such problems. I argue, however, that this view entails a very problematic form of voluntarism which comes with the threat of latent irrationality and normative inadequacy. However, there is also a certain element of truth in such a voluntarism. The main difficulty consists (...) in finding an acceptable form of voluntarism. (shrink)
A widely accepted thesis in the philosophy of language is that natural language proper names are rigid designators, and that they are so de jure, or as a matter of the “semantic rules of the language.” This paper questions this claim, arguing that rigidity cannot be plausibly construed as a property of name types and that the alternative, rigidity construed as a property of tokens, means that they cannot be considered rigid de jure; rigidity in this case must be viewed (...) as a pragmatic and not a semantic property. (shrink)
One of the most recent trends in epistemology is contrastivism. It can be characterized as the thesis that knowledge is a ternary relation between a subject, a proposition known and a contrast proposition. According to contrastivism, knowledge attributions have the form “S knows that p, rather than q”. In this paper I raise several problems for contrastivism: it lacks plausibility for many cases of knowledge, is too narrow concerning the third relatum, and overlooks a further relativity of the knowledge relation.
Christoph Jäger (2004) argues that Dretske’s information theory of knowledge raises a serious problem for his denial of closure of knowledge under known entailment: Information is closed under known entailment (even under entailment simpliciter); given that Dretske explains the concept of knowledge in terms of “information”, it is hard to stick with his denial of closure for knowledge. Thus, one of the two basic claims of Dretske would have to go. Since giving up the denial of closure would commit Dretske (...) to skepticism, it would most probably be better to rather give up the information-theoretic account of knowledge. But that means that one of the best externalist views of knowledge has to be given up. I argue here that Jäger is mistaken and that there is no problem for Dretske. There is a rather easy way out of Jäger’s problem. (shrink)
Current epistemological orthodoxy has it that knowledge is incompatible with luck. More precisely: Knowledge is incompatible with epistemic luck (of a certain, interesting kind). This is often treated as a truism which is not even in need of argumentative support. In this paper, I argue that there is lucky knowledge. In the first part, I use an intuitive and not very developed notion of luck to show that there are cases of knowledge which are “lucky” in that sense. In the (...) second part, I look at philosophical conceptions of luck (modal and probabilistic ones) and come to the conclusion that knowledge can be lucky in those senses, too. I also turns out that a probabilistic notion of luck can help us see in what ways a particular piece of knowledge or belief can be lucky or not lucky. (shrink)
The core argument of this article is that Adorno adopts the distinction between an abstract and a concrete universal from Hegel and criticizes Hegel, on that basis, as abstract. The first two parts of the article outline that both thinkers take the abstract universal to be the form of a false type of knowledge and society, and the concrete universal to be a positive aim. However, as the third part argues, Adorno rejects how the concrete universal is understood in Hegel’s (...) philosophy and formulates a different conception of it. The fourth part questions if Adorno manages to overcome the problems he identifies in Hegel or whether they are inherent to the programme of dialectics both endorse. (shrink)
There is a sceptical puzzle according to which knowledge appears to license an unacceptable kind of dogmatism. Here is a version of the corresponding sceptical argument: (1) If a subject S knows a proposition p, then it is OK for S to ignore all evidence against p as misleading; (2) It is never OK for any subject to ignore any evidence against their beliefs as misleading; (3) Hence, nobody knows anything.I distinguish between different versions of the puzzle (mainly a ‘permissibility’ (...) version and a ‘closure’ version) and offer a solution for one version (the permissibility version) of the problem. No matter how much a subject knows, knowledge never gives one a license to ignore evidence against a proposition. Premise (1) of the argument is false and the puzzle can thus be resolved. (shrink)
In his recent book Moral Skepticisms Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argues in great detail for contrastivism with respect to justified moral belief and moral knowledge. I raise three questions concerning this view. First, how would Sinnott-Armstrong account for constraints on admissible contrast classes? Secondly, how would he deal with notorious problems concerning relevant reference classes? Finally, how can he account for basic features of moral agency? It turns out that the last problem is the most serious one for his account.
This paper presents a puzzle about moral responsibility. The problem is based upon the indeterminacy of relevant reference classes as applied to action. After discussing and rejecting a very tempting response I propose moral contextualism instead, that is, the idea that the truth value of judgments of the form S is morally responsible for x depends on and varies with the context of the attributor who makes that judgment. Even if this reply should not do all the expected work it (...) is a first step. (shrink)
Suppose someone hears a loud noise and at the same time sees a yellow flash. It seems hard to deny that the person can experience loudness and yellowness together. However, since loudness is experienced by the auditory sense whereas yellowness is experienced by the visual sense it also seems hard to explain how.
This paper discusses two versions of reliabilism: modal and probabilistic reliabilism. Modal reliabilism faces the problem of the missing closeness metric for possible worlds while probalistic reliabilism faces the problem of the relevant reference class. Despite the severity of these problems, reliabilism is still very plausible (also for independent reasons). I propose to stick with reliabilism, propose a contextualist (or, alternatively, harmlessly relativist) solution to the above problems and suggest that probabilistic reliabilism has the advantage over modal reliabilism.
Most contextualists agree that contexts differ with respect to relevant epistemic standards. In this paper, I discuss the idea that the difference between more modest and stricter standards should be explained in terms of the closeness or remoteness of relevant possible worlds. I argue that there are serious problems with this version of contextualism. In the second part of the paper, I argue for another form of contextualism that has little to do with standards and a lot with the well-known (...) problem of the reference class. This paper also illustrates the fact that contextualism comes in many varieties. (shrink)
Abstract One of the most popular objections against epistemic contextualism is the so-called ?warranted assertability? objection. The objection is based on the possibility of a ?warranted assertability manoeuvre?, also known as a WAM. I argue here that WAMs are of very limited scope and importance. An important class of cases cannot be dealt with by WAMs. No analogue of WAMs is available for these cases. One should thus not take WAMs too seriously in the debate about epistemic contextualism.
Abstract: We discuss the role that transnational corporations (TNCs) should play in developing global governance, creating a framework of rules and regulations for the global economy. The central issue is whether TNCs should provide global rules and guarantee individual citizenship rights, or instead focus on maximizing profits. First, we describe the problems arising from the globalization process that affect the relationship between public rules and private firms. Next we consider the position of economic and management theories in relation to (...) the social responsibility of the firm. We argue that instrumental stakeholder theory and business and society research can only partially solve the global governance issue, and that more recent concepts of corporate citizenship and republican business ethics deliver theoretically and practically helpful, fresh insights. However, even these need further development, especially with regard to the legitimacy of corporate political activity. (shrink)
There are many ordinary propositions we think we know. Almost every ordinary proposition entails some lottery proposition which we think we do not know but to which we assign a high probability of being true (for instance:I will never be a multi-millionaire entails I will not win this lottery). How is this possible – given that some closure principle is true? This problem, also known as the Lottery puzzle, has recently provoked a lot of discussion. In this paper I discuss (...) one of the most promising answers to the problem: Stewart Cohens contextualist solution, which is based on ideas about the salience of chances of error. After presenting some objections to it I sketch an alternative solution which is still contextualist in spirit. (shrink)
Philip Kitcher recently argued for a reconstruction in philosophy. According to him, the contemporary mainstream of philosophy (in the English-speaking world, at least) has deteriorated into something that is of relevance only to a few specialists who communicate with each other in a language nobody else understands. Kitcher proposes to reconstruct philosophy along two axes: a knowledge axis (with a focus on the sciences) and a value axis. The present article discusses Kitcher's diagnosis as well as his proposal of a (...) therapy. It argues that there are problems with both, and it ends with an alternative view of what some core problems of the profession currently are. (shrink)
Practical conflicts pervade human life. Agents have many different desires, goals, and commitments, all of which can come into conflict with each other. How can practical reasoning help to resolve these practical conflicts? In this collection of new essays a distinguished roster of philosophers analyze the diverse forms of practical conflict. Their aim is to establish an understanding of the sources of these conflicts, to investigate the challenge they pose to an adequate conception of practical reasoning, and to assess the (...) degree to which that challenge can be met. These essays will serve as a major resource for students of philosophy but will also interest students and professionals in related fields of the social sciences such as psychology, political science, sociology and economics. (shrink)
Human dignity seems very important to us. At the same time, the concept ‘human dignity’ is extrordinarily elusive. A good way to approach the questions “What is it?” and “Why is it important?” is to raise another question first: In virtue of what do human beings have dignity? Speciesism - the idea that human beings have a particular dignity because they are humans - does not seem very convincing. A better answer says that human beings have dignity because and insofar (...) as they are persons. I discuss several versions of this idea as well as several objections against it. The most promising line of analysis says that human beings cannot survive psychologically without a very basic form of recognition and respect by others. The idea that humans have a very special dignity is the idea that they owe each other this kind of respect. All this also suggests that human dignity is inherently social. Non-social beings do not have dignity - nor do they lack it. It is because we are social animals of a certain kind that we have dignity - not so much because we are rational animals. (shrink)
To fulfill their crucial duty of relieving suffering in their patients, physicians may have to administer palliative sedation when they implement treatment-limitation decisions such as the withdrawal of life-supporting interventions in patients with poor prognosis chronic severe brain injury. The issue of palliative sedation deserves particular attention in adults with serious brain injuries and in neonates with severe and irreversible brain lesions, who are unable to express pain or to state their wishes. In France, treatment limitation decisions for these patients (...) are left to the physicians. Treatment-limitation decisions are made collegially, based on the presence of irreversible brain lesions responsible for chronic severe disorders of consciousness. Before these decisions are implemented, they are communicated to the relatives. Because the presence and severity of pain cannot be assessed in these patients, palliative analgesia and/or sedation should be administered. However, palliative sedation is a complex strategy that requires safeguards to prevent a drift toward hastening death or performing covert euthanasia. In addition to the law on patients' rights at the end of life passed in France on April 22, 2005, a recent revision of Article 37 of the French code of medical ethics both acknowledges that treatment-limitation decisions and palliative sedation may be required in patients with severe brain injuries and provides legal and ethical safeguards against a shift towards euthanasia. This legislation may hold value as a model for other countries where euthanasia is illegal and for countries such as Belgium and Netherlands where euthanasia is legal but not allowed in patients incapable of asking for euthanasia but in whom a treatment limitation decision has been made. (shrink)
We discuss the role that transnational corporations (TNCs) should play in developing global governance, creating a frameworkof rules and regulations for the global economy. The central issue is whether TNCs should provide global rules and guarantee individual citizenship rights, or instead focus on maximizing profits. First, we describe the problems arising from the globalization process that affect the relationship between public rules and private firms. Next we consider the position of economic and management theories in relation to the social responsibility (...) of the firm. We argue that instrumental stakeholder theory and business and society research can only partially solve the global governance issue, and that more recent concepts of corporate citizenship and republican business ethics deliver theoretically and practically helpful, fresh insights. However, even these need further development, especially with regard to the legitimacy of corporate political activity. (shrink)
We present a computational model capable of predicting—above human accuracy—the degree of trust a person has toward their novel partner by observing the trust-related nonverbal cues expressed in their social interaction. We summarize our prior work, in which we identify nonverbal cues that signal untrustworthy behavior and also demonstrate the human mind’s readiness to interpret those cues to assess the trustworthiness of a social robot. We demonstrate that domain knowledge gained from our prior work using human-subjects experiments, when incorporated into (...) the feature engineering process, permits a computational model to outperform both human predictions and a baseline model built in naivete' of this domain knowledge. We then present the construction of hidden Markov models to incorporate temporal relationships among the trust-related nonverbal cues. By interpreting the resulting learned structure, we observe that models built to emulate different levels of trust exhibit different sequences of nonverbal cues. From this observation, we derived sequence-based temporal features that further improve the accuracy of our computational model. Our multi-step research process presented in this paper combines the strength of experimental manipulation and machine learning to not only design a computational trust model but also to further our understanding of the dynamics of interpersonal trust. (shrink)
This paper has two purposes: the first is to critically examine Kripke’s well-known arguments against Descriptivism and suggest that they are not as decisive as many have thought; the second is to argue that proper names do encode descriptive information of various kinds, that such information may be truth-conditionally significant, and hence that a name’s truth-conditional contribution is not limited to its referent.
The chronic worldwide lack of organs for transplantation and the continuing improvement of strategies for in situ organ preservation have led to renewed interest in elective non-therapeutic ventilation of potential organ donors. Two types of situation may be eligible for elective intensive care: patients definitely evolving towards brain death and patients suitable as controlled non-heart beating organ donors after life-supporting therapies have been assessed as futile and withdrawn. Assessment of the ethical acceptability and the risks of these strategies is essential. (...) We here offer such an ethical assessment using the four principles of medical ethics of Beauchamp and Childress applying them in their broadest sense so as to include patients and their families, their caregivers, other potential recipients of intensive care, and indeed society as a whole. The main ethical problems emerging are the definition of beneficence for the potential organ donor, the dilemma between the duty to respect a dying patient's autonomy and the duty not to harm him/her, and the possible psychological and social harm for families, caregivers other potential recipients of therapeutic intensive care, and society more generally. Caution is expressed about the ethical acceptability of elective non-therapeutic ventilation, along with some proposals for precautionary measures to be taken if it is to be implemented. (shrink)