The standpoint of realism has been widely used to argue in favour of, or against, particular physical theories. An analysis is made of the adequacy of such arguments, taking an argument by Einstein as a starting point.Some reflexions are given on relativism and invariance. Invariances can be seen as generators of both regularity and paradox in physics.
This comment on Sven Ove Hansson's article on the history of the journal Theoria elaborates and corrects Hansson's characterisation of the political standpoint of the Finnish philosopher Eino Kaila as "sympathetic towards the German regime". Although not an easy question, particularly considering Kaila's unfortunate publications during the Second World War, it is argued that the characterisation is plainly wrong if it refers to the mid-1930s.
The book under review is a collection of thirteen essays on the nature phenomenal concepts and the ways in which phenomenal concepts figure in debates over physicalism. Phenomenal concepts are of special interest in a number of ways. First, they refer to phenomenal experiences, and the qualitative character of those experiences (aka “qualia”) whose metaphysical status is hotly debated. There are recent arguments, originating in Descartes’ famous conceivability argument, that purport to show that phenomenal experience is irreducibly non-physical. Second, phenomenal (...) concepts are widely thought to be special and unique among concepts. Both the anti-physicalist arguments and physicalist replies to these arguments turn on views about the nature of phenomenal concepts. In this review I survey the many ways in which the essays in this volume are engaged (pro or con) with anti-physicalist arguments and the role phenomenal concepts play in these arguments. (shrink)
We propose to model preference change as the change of an agent’s preference state in response to the agent accepting a preference affect. The preference state of an agent is ruled by various inferential commitments. Accepting a preference affect will likely bring the preference state into inconsistency. The model shows how the preference state needs to be adjusted to restore consistency. In particular, it shows which path restoration will take, conditional on the previous preference state and the available dynamic information, (...) and it determines how the ensuing preference state will look like. (shrink)
Précis of memory: a philosophical study Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11098-010-9639-4 Authors Sven Bernecker, Department of Philosophy, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-4555, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
As part of the conference commemorating Theoria's 75th anniversary, a round table discussion on philosophy publishing was held in Bergendal, Sollentuna, Sweden, on 1 October 2010. Bengt Hansson was the chair, and the other participants were eight editors-in-chief of philosophy journals: Hans van Ditmarsch (Journal of Philosophical Logic), Pascal Engel (Dialectica), Sven Ove Hansson (Theoria), Vincent Hendricks (Synthese), Søren Holm (Journal of Medical Ethics), Pauline Jacobson (Linguistics and Philosophy), Anthonie Meijers (Philosophical Explorations), Henry S. Richardson (Ethics) and Hans Rott (...) (Erkenntnis). (shrink)
Formal representations of values and norms are employed in several academic disciplines and specialties, such as economics, jurisprudence, decision theory, and social choice theory. Sven Ove Hansson closely examines such foundational issues as the values of wholes and the values of their parts, the connections between values and norms, how values can be decision-guiding and the structure of normative codes with formal precision. Models of change in both preferences and norms are offered, as well as a new method to (...) base the logic of norms on that of preferences. Hansson has developed a unified formal representation of values and norms that reflects both their static and their dynamic properties. This formalized treatment, carried out in terms of both informal value theory and precise logical detail, will contribute to the clarification of certain issues in the basic philosophical theory of values and norms. (shrink)
Should Probabilistic Design Replace Safety Factors? Content Type Journal Article Pages 151-168 DOI 10.1007/s13347-010-0003-6 Authors Neelke Doorn, Department of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, PO Box 5015, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands Sven Ove Hansson, Department of Philosophy and the History of Technology, Royal Institute of Technology, Teknikringen 78 B, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden Journal Philosophy & Technology Online ISSN 2210-5441 Print ISSN 2210-5433 Journal Volume Volume 24 Journal Issue Volume 24, Number 2.
In this anthology, distinguished editors Sven Bernecker and Fred Dretske offer the most comprehensive review available of contemporary epistemology. They bring together the most important and influential writings in the field, including frequently neglected topics such as dominant responses to skepticism, introspection, memory, and testimony. Knowledge is divided into fifteen subject areas and includes forty-one readings by eminent contributors. An accessible introduction to each subject area outlines the problems discussed in the essays that follow so that students can focus (...) on analyzing them. (shrink)
What is the nature of consciousness? How is consciousness related to brain processes? This volume collects thirteen new papers on these topics: twelve by leading and respected philosophers and one by a leading color-vision scientist. All focus on consciousness in the "phenomenal" sense: on what it's like to have an experience. Consciousness has long been regarded as the biggest stumbling block for physicalism, the view that the mind is physical. The controversy has gained focus over the last few decades, and (...) phenomenal knowledge and phenomenal concepts--knowledge of consciousness and the associated concepts--have come to play increasingly prominent roles in this debate. Consider Frank Jackson's famous case of Mary, the super-scientist who learns all the physical information while confined in a black-and-white room. According to Jackson, if physicalism is true, then Mary's physical knowledge should allow her to deduce what it's like to see in color. Yet it seems intuitively clear that she learns something when she leaves the room. But then how can consciousness be physical? Arguably, whether this sort of reasoning is sound depends on how phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge are construed. For example, some argue that the Mary case reveals something about phenomenal concepts but has no implications for the nature of consciousness itself. Are responses along these lines adequate? Or does the problem arise again at the level of phenomenal concepts? The papers in this volume engage with the latest developments in this debate. The authors' perspectives range widely. For example, Daniel Dennett argues that anti-physicalist arguments such as the knowledge argument are simply confused; David Papineau grants that such arguments at least reveal important features of phenomenal concepts; and David Chalmers defends the anti-physicalist arguments, arguing that the "phenomenal concept strategy" cannot succeed. (shrink)
Among the many topics covered in Sven Bernecker’s impressive study of memory is the relation between memory and personal identity. Bernecker uses his grammatical taxonomy of memory and causal account to defend the claim that memory does not logically presuppose personal identity and hence that circularity objections to memory-based accounts of personal identity are misplaced. In my comment I investigate these claims, suggesting that the relation between personal identity and memory is more complicated than Bernecker’s analysis suggests. In particular, (...) I argue (1) that while he shows that some memories do not presuppose personal identity he fails to show that those that are appealed to in memory-based accounts of personal identity do not, and (2) that the features of his view that allow him to define memory without reference to personal identity also obscure important features of memory that must be part of a complete account. (shrink)
How can mental properties bring about physical effects, as they seem to do, given that the physical realizers of the mental goings-on are already sufficient to cause these effects? This question gives rise to the problem of mental causation (MC) and its associated threats of causal overdetermination, mental causal exclusion, and mental causal irrelevance. Some (e.g., Cynthia and Graham Macdonald, and Stephen Yablo) have suggested that understanding mental-physical realization in terms of the determinable/determinate relation (henceforth, 'determination') provides the key to (...) solving the problem of MC: if mental properties are determinables of their physical realizers, then (since determinables and determinates are distinct, yet don't causally compete) all three threats may be avoided. Not everyone agrees that determination can do this good work, however. Some (e.g., Douglas Ehring, Eric Funkhauser, and Sven Walter) object that mental-physical realization can't be determination, since such realization lacks one or other characteristic feature of determination. I argue that on a proper understanding of the features of determination key to solving the problem of MC, these arguments can be resisted. (shrink)
This paper argues that for someone to know proposition p inferentially it is not enough that his belief in p and his justification for believing p covary with the truth of p through a sphere of possibilities. A further condition on inferential knowledge is that p's truth-maker is identical with, or causally related to, the state of affairs the justification is grounded in. This position is dubbed ‘identificationism.’.
This article tries to create a bridge of understanding between cognitive scientists and phenomenologists who work on attention. In light of a phenomenology of attention and current psychological and neuropsychological literature on attention, I translate and interpret into phenomenological terms 20 key cognitive science concepts as examined in the laboratory and used in leading journals. As a preface to the lexicon, I outline a phenomenology of attention, especially as a dynamic three-part structure, which I have freely amended from the work (...) of phenomenologist and Gestalt philosopher Aron Gurwitsch (1901â1973). As a conclusion, I discuss the nature of subjectivity in attention and attention research, and whether attention might be the same as consciousness. (shrink)
Attentional character is a way of thinking about what is relevant in a human life, what is meaningful and how it becomes so. This paper introduces the concept of attentional character through a redefinition of attentional capture as achievement. It looks freshly at the attentional capture debate in the current cognitive sciences literature through the lens of Aron Gurwitsch’s gestalt-phenomenology. Attentional character is defined as an initially limited capacity for attending in a given environment and is located within the sphere (...) of attention, primarily as an irrelevant centering in attending. (shrink)
A conceptual analysis of falsificationism is performed, in which the central falsificationist thesis is divided into several components. Furthermore, an empirical study of falsification in science is reported, based on the 70 scientific contributions that were published as articles in Nature in 2000. Only one of these articles conformed to the falsificationist recipe for successful science, namely the falsification of a hypothesis that is more accessible to falsification than to verification. It is argued that falsificationism relies on an incorrect view (...) of the nature of scientific inquiry and that it is, therefore, not a tenable research methodology. (shrink)
This paper criticizes the widespread view whereby a second-order judgment of the form ‘I believe that p ’ qualifies as self-knowledge only if the embedded content, p , is of the same type as the content of the intentional state reflected upon and the self-ascribed attitude, belief, is of the same type as the attitude the subject takes towards p . Rather than requiring identity of contents across levels of cognition self-knowledge requires only that the embedded content of the second-order (...) thought be an entailment of the content of the intentional state reflected upon. And rather than demanding identity of attitudes across levels of cognition self-knowledge demands only that the attitude of the intentional state reflected upon and the attitude the subject self-attributes share certain features such as direction of fit and polarity. (shrink)
This is a response to three critical discussions of my book Memory: A Philosophical Study (Oxford University Press 2010): Marya Schechtman, Memory and Identity , Fred Adams, Husker Du? , and Sanford Goldberg The Metasemantics of Memory.
Content externalism about memory says that the individuation of memory contents depends on relations the subject bears to his past environment. I defend externalism about memory by arguing that neither philosophical nor psychological considerations stand in the way of accepting the context dependency of memory that follows from externalism.
This paper addresses the question whetherintrospection plus externalism about mental contentwarrant an a priori refutation of external-worldskepticism and ontological solipsism. The suggestionis that if thought content is partly determined byaffairs in the environment and if we can havenon-empirical knowledge of our current thoughtcontents, we can, just by reflection, know about theworld around us â we can know that our environment ispopulated with content-determining entities. Afterexamining this type of transcendental argument anddiscussing various objections found in the literature,I argue that the notion (...) of privileged self-knowledgeunderlying this argument presupposes that we canlearn, via introspection, that our so-called thoughtsare propositional attitudes rather than contentlessstates. If, however, externalism is correct andthought content consists in the systematic dependencyof internal states on relational properties, we cannotknow non-empirically whether or not we havepropositional attitudes. Self-knowledge (apropositional attitude) is consistent with us lackingthe ability to rule out, via introspection, thepossibility that we don't have any propositionalattitudes. Self-knowledge provides us with knowledgeof what is in our minds, but not that we haveminds. Hence, the combination of externalism with thedoctrine of privileged self-knowledge does not allowfor an a priori refutation of skepticism and istherefore unproblematic. (shrink)
New technologies and practices, such as drug testing, genetic testing, and electronic surveillance infringe upon the privacy of workers on workplaces. We argue that employees have a prima facie right to privacy, but this right can be overridden by competing moral principles that follow, explicitly or implicitly, from the contract of employment. We propose a set of criteria for when intrusions into an employee''s privacy are justified. Three types of justification are specified, namely those that refer to the employer''s interests, (...) to the interests of the employee her- or himself, and to the interests of third parties such as customers and fellow workers. For each of these three types, sub-criteria are proposed that can be used to determine whether a particular infringement into an employee''s privacy is morally justified or not. (shrink)
Within certain philosophical debates, most notably those concerning the limits of our knowledge, agnosticism seems a plausible, and potentially the right, stance to take. Yet, in order to qualify as a proper stance, and not just the refusal to adopt any, agnosticism must be shown to be in opposition to both endorsement and denial and to be answerable to future evidence. This paper explicates and defends the thesis that agnosticism may indeed define such a third stance that is weaker than (...) scepticism and hence offers a genuine alternative to realism and anti-realism about our cognitive limits. (shrink)
This paper examines Jaegwon Kim's Supervenience Argument (SA) against nonreductive physicalism, concentrating on Kim's response to two of the most important objections against the SA: First, the Overdetermination Argument, according to which Kim has no convincing argument against the possibility that mental causation might be a case of genuine or systematic overdetermination; second, the Generalization Argument, according to which the SA would entail that causation at any level gives way to causation at the next lower level, thereby leading to an (...) untenable all-encompassing epiphenomenalism. It is argued that as of yet, Kim has failed to develop a coherent overall position, since various moves he makes in response to these criticisms are strangely at odds with other parts of his philosophical position. (shrink)
Several people have helped us to write this essay. Our greatest debt is to Wlodek Rabinowicz, who has been an excellent supervisor of the project. He spent a lot of time and energy reading drafts of the essay. Without his painstaking criticism and helpful comments this essay would lack in precision, relevance, and logical correctness. Earlier drafts of the essay were discussed in Sven Danielsson and Wlodek Rabinowicz's seminar at the Department of Philosophy, University of Uppsala. The participants of (...) the seminar contributed with helpful criticisms. Apart from Sven and Wlodek, we would like to thank Thomas Anderberg, Erik Carlson, Tomasz Pol, Peter Ryman, Rysiek Sliwinski, and Jan Österberg. We are especially grateful to Erik Carlson. His critical eye detected many flaws in earlier versions of our theory. (shrink)
Incompatibilism is the view that privileged knowledge of our own mental states cannot be reconciled with externalism regarding the content of mental states. Davidson has recently developed two arguments that are supposed to disprove incompatibilism and establish the consistency of privileged access and externalism. One argument criticizes incompatibilism for assuming that externalism conflicts with the mind?body identity theory. Since mental states supervene on neurological events, Davidson argues, they are partly ?in the head? and are knowable just by reflection. Another argument (...) rejects incompatibilism by repudiating the object perception model of introspection. Once extemalism is freed from the internalist idea that thoughts take objects which are inner epistemological intermediaries, Davidson maintains, it poses no threat to privileged self?knowledge. It is argued that neither of these arguments is successful, since both disprove assumptions irrelevant to incompatibilism. Moreover, it is indicated how Davidson would have to go about defending his positive account of privileged self?knowledge against the principal incompatibilist arguments. (shrink)
The purpose of this presentation is to introduce both the concept of risk and the precautionary principle, that is a major policy principle in present-day risk management. Since risk has been the subject of many misconceptions I will do this in large part by criticizing seven views on risk that I believe to have caused considerable confusion both among scientists and policy-makers. But before looking at the seven myths of risk, let us begin with the basic issue of defining “risk”. (...) The word “risk” often refers, rather vaguely, to situations in which it is possible but not certain that some undesirable event will occur. In addition, the word has several more specialized meanings. Let me illustrate this by making a few statements about the single most important preventable health hazard in non-starving countries. First: “Lung cancer is one of the major risks that affect smokers.” Here, we use “risk” in the following sense: (1) risk = an unwanted event which may or may not occur. 1 (15). (shrink)
In a recent contribution to this journal, Andrew Fenton and Sheri Alpert have argued that the so-called “extended mind hypothesis” allows us to understand why Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) have the potential to change the self of patients suffering from Locked-in syndrome (LIS) by extending their minds beyond their bodies. I deny that this can shed any light on the theoretical, or philosophical, underpinnings of BCIs as a tool for enabling communication with, or bodily action by, patients with LIS: BCIs (...) are not a case of cognitive extension. I argue that Fenton and Alpert’s claim to the contrary is the result of a widespread confusion about some related, but significantly different, approaches to cognition that all fall under the heading of “situated cognition.” I first provide a short taxonomy of various situated approaches to cognition, highlighting (some of) their important commonalities and differences, which should dissolve some of the confusions surrounding them. Then I show why the extended mind hypothesis is unsuitable as a model of BCI enhancements of LIS patients’ capacity to interact with their surroundings, and I argue that the situated approach with obvious bearings on the sort of questions that were driving Fenton and Alpert is not the idea that cognition is extended , but the idea that cognition is enacted. (shrink)
According to T. M. Scanlon's 'buck-passing' analysis of value, x is good means that x has properties that provide reasons to take up positive attitudes vis-à-vis x. Some authors have claimed that this idea can be traced back to Franz Brentano, who said in 1889 that the judgement that x is good is the judgement that a positive attitude to x is correct ('richtig'). The most discussed problem in the recent literature on buckpassing is known as the 'wrong kind of (...) reason' problem (the WKR problem): it seems quite possible that there is sometimes reason to favour an object although that object is not good and possibly very evil. The problem is to delineate exactly what distinguishes reasons of the right kind from reasons of the wrong kind. In this paper we offer a Brentano-style solution. We also note that one version of the WKR problem was put forward by G. E. Moore in his review of the English translation of Brentano's Vom Ursprung sittlicher Erkenntnis. Before getting to how our Brentano-style approach might offer a way out for Brentano and the buck-passers, we briefly consider and reject an interesting attempt to solve the WKR problem recently proposed by John Skorupski. (shrink)
There is a considerable amount of research being done on attention by cognitive psychologists. I claim that in the process of measuring and mapping consciousness, these researchers have missed important phenomenological findings. After a synopsis and illustration of the nature of attention as described by Aron Gurwitsch, I critique the assumptions of current psychological research on this topic. Included is discussion of the metaphor of attention as a beam or spotlight, the concept of selective attention as the standard accomplishment, and (...) the cognitive bestowal of organization on otherwise unorganized data. It is concluded that cognitive psychologists and others working on attention can benefit from Gurwitsch's work, and that a credible account of attention is crucial to the success of any comprehensive statement on the nature of consciousness. (shrink)
Contributing Authors: Lilli Alanen & Frans Svensson, David Alm, Gustaf Arrhenius, Gunnar Björnsson, Luc Bovens, Richard Bradley, Geoffrey Brennan & Nicholas Southwood, John Broome, Linus Broström & Mats Johansson, Johan Brännmark, Krister Bykvist, John Cantwell, Erik Carlson, David Copp, Roger Crisp, Sven Danielsson, Dan Egonsson, Fred Feldman, Roger Fjellström, Marc Fleurbaey, Margaret Gilbert, Olav Gjelsvik, Kathrin Glüer & Peter Pagin, Ebba Gullberg & Sten Lindström, Peter Gärdenfors, Sven Ove Hansson, Jana Holsanova, Nils Holtug, Victoria Höög, Magnus Jiborn, Karsten (...) Klint Jensen, Sigurður Kristinsson, Isaac Levi, Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, David Makinson, Anna-Sofia Maurin, Philippe Mongin, Kevin Mulligan, Lennart Nordenfelt, Jonas Olson, Erik J. Olsson, Ingmar Persson, Johannes Persson, Björn Petersson, Philip Pettit, Hans Rott, Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen, Krister Segerberg, John Skorupski, Howard Sobel, Fredrik Stjernberg, Fred Stoutland, Caj Strandberg, Pär Sundström, Folke Tersman, Torbjörn Tännsjö, Peter Vallentyne, Bruno Verbeek, Stella Villarmea, and Michael J. Zimmerman. (shrink)
Mainstream moral theories deal with situations in which the outcome of each possible action is well-determined and knowable. In order to make ethics relevant for problems of risk and uncertainty, moral theories have to be extended so that they cover actions whose outcomes are not determinable beforehand. One approach to this extension problem is to develop methods for appraising probabilistic combinations of outcomes. This approach is investigated and shown not to solve the problem. An alternative approach is then developed. Its (...) starting-point is that everyone has a prima facie moral right not to be exposed to risk. However, this right can be overridden if the risk-exposure is part of an equitable system for risk-taking that works to the advantage of the individual risk-exposed person. (shrink)
Abstract: This paper develops a novel interpretation of Kant's argument from incongruent counterparts to the effect that the representations of space and time are intuitions rather than concepts. When properly understood, the argument anticipates the contemporary position whereby the meaning of indexicals cannot be captured by descriptive contents.
A general theory of coherence is proposed, in which systemic and relational coherence are shown to be interdefinable. When this theory is applied to sets of sentences, it turns out that logical closure obscures the distinctions that are needed for a meaningful analysis of coherence. It is concluded that references to “all beliefs” in coherentist phrases such as “all beliefs support each other” have to be modified so that merely derived beliefs are excluded. Therefore, in order to avoid absurd conclusions, (...) coherentists have to accept a weak version of epistemic priority, that sorts out merely derived beliefs. Furthermore, it is shown that in belief revision theory, coherence cannot be adequately represented by logical closure, but has to be represented separately. (shrink)
It is widely thought that if knowledge requires sensitivity, knowledge is not closed because sensitivity is not closed. This paper argues that there is no valid argument from sensitivity failure to non-closure of knowledge. Sensitivity does not imply non-closure of knowledge. Closure considerations cannot be used to adjudicate between safety and sensitivity accounts of knowledge.
The paper introduces ten open problems in belief revision theory, related to the representation of the belief state, to different notions of degrees of belief, and to the nature of change operations. It is argued that these problems are all issues in philosopical logic, in the strong sense of requiring inputs from both logic and philosophy for their solution.
In non-technical contexts, the word “risk” refers, often rather vaguely, to situations in which it is possible but not certain that some undesirable event will occur. In technical contexts, the word has many uses and specialized meanings. The most common ones are the following.
This text is a non-technical overview of modern decision theory. It is intended for university students with no previous acquaintance with the subject, and was primarily written for the participants of a course on risk analysis at Uppsala University in 1994.
This paper contributes to the current debate about radical scepticism and the structure of warrant. After a presentation of the standard version of the radical sceptic’s challenge, both in its barest and its more refined form, three anti-sceptical responses, and their respective commitments, are being identified: the Dogmatist response, the Conservativist response and the Dretskean response. It is then argued that both the Dretskean and the Conservativist are right that the anti-sceptical hypothesis cannot inherit any perceptual warrants from ordinary propositions (...) about the environment—and so the Dogmatist response founders. However, if this is so Epistemic Closure lacks any clear rationale. There is therefore good reason to agree with both the Dretskean and the Dogmatist that perceptual warrants for ordinary propositions about the environment are enough in order for those propositions to enjoy a positive epistemic status—and so the Conservativist response founders. However, the Conservativist is nonetheless right that a warrant for the anti-sceptical hypothesis is needed. For contrary to what much of the recent literature suggests, the radical sceptic need not appeal to Epistemic Closure in order to cast doubt on the legitimacy of our beliefs in ordinary propositions about the environment: there is a Pyrrhonian version of scepticism that, though equally radical, is consistent with failure of Epistemic Closure. For this reason, the Dretskean response is insufficient to answer scepticism. (shrink)
The realization relation that allegedly holds between mental and physical properties plays a crucial role for so-called non-reductive physicalism because it is supposed to secure both the ontological autonomy of mental properties and, despite their irreducibility, their ability to make a causal difference to the course of the causally closed physical world. For a long time however, the nature of realization has largely been ignored in the philosophy of mind until a couple of years ago authors like Carl Gillett, Derk (...) Pereboom, or Sydney Shoemaker proposed accounts according to which realization is understood against the background of the so-called ‘causal theory of properties’. At least partially, the hope was to solve the problem of mental causation, in particular the kind of causal exclusion reasoning made famous by Jaegwon Kim, in a way acceptable to non-reductive physicalists. The paper asks whether a proper explication of the realization relation can indeed help explain how physically realized mental properties can be causally efficacious in the causally closed physical world and argues for a negative answer: it is important for the non-reductive physicalist to understand what exactly the realization relation amounts to, but it does not solve the problem of mental causation. (shrink)
This paper argues that Sosa’s virtue perspectivism fails to combine satisfactorily internalist and externalist features in a single theory. Internalism and externalism are reconciled at the price of creating a Gettier problem at the level of “reflective” or second-order knowledge. The general lesson to be learned from the critique of virtue perspectivism is that internalism and externalism cannot be combined by bifurcating justification and knowledge into an object-level and a meta-level and assigning externalism and internalism to different levels.
In the last half century, decision theory has had a deep influence on moral theory. Its impact has largely been beneficial. However, it has also given rise to some problems, two of which are discussed here. First, issues such as risk-taking and risk imposition have been left out of ethics since they are believed to belong to decision theory, and consequently the ethical aspects of these issues have not been treated in either discipline. Secondly, ethics has adopted the decision-theoretical idea (...) that action-guidance has to be based on cause–effect or means–ends relationships between an individual action and its possible outcomes. This is problematic since the morally relevant connections between an action and future events are not fully covered by such relationships. In response to the first problem it is proposed that moral theory should deal directly and extensively with issues such as risk-taking and risk imposition, thereby intruding unabashedly into the traditional territory of decision theory. As a partial response to the second problem it is proposed that moral theorizing should release itself from the decision-theoretical requirement that the moral status of an action has to be derivable from the consequences (or other properties) that are assignable to that action alone. In particular, the effects that an action can have in combination with other actions by the same or other agents are valid arguments in an action-guiding moral discourse, even if its contribution to these combined consequences cannot be isolated and evaluated separately. (shrink)
This article argues that, contrary to the received view, prioritarianism and egalitarianism are not jointly incompatible theories in normative ethics. By introducing a distinction between weighing and aggregating, the authors show that the seemingly conflicting intuitions underlying prioritarianism and egalitarianism are consistent. The upshot is a combined position, equality-prioritarianism, which takes both prioritarian and egalitarian considerations into account in a technically precise manner. On this view, the moral value of a distribution of well-being is a product of two factors: the (...) sum of all individuals' priority-adjusted well-being, and a measure of the equality of the distribution in question. Some implications of equality-prioritarianism are considered. (shrink)
Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit have defended a non-reductive account of causal relevance known as the ‘program explanation account’. Allegedly, irreducible mental properties can be causally relevant in virtue of figuring in non-redundant program explanations which convey information not conveyed by explanations in terms of the physical properties that actually do the ‘causal work’. I argue that none of the possible ways to spell out the intuitively plausible idea of a program explanation serves its purpose, viz., defends non-reductive physicalism against (...) Jaegwon Kim’s Causal Exclusion Argument according to which non-reductive physicalism is committed to epiphenomenalism because irreducible mental properties are ‘screened off’ from causal relevance by their physical realizers. Jackson and Pettit’s most promising explication of a program explanation appeals to the idea of invariance of effect under variation of realization , but I show that invariance of effect under variation of realization is neither necessary nor sufficient for causal relevance. (shrink)
Mainstream risk analysis deviates in at least two important respects from the rationality ideal of mainstream economics. First, expected utility maximization is not applied in a consistent way. It is applied to endodoxastic uncertainty, i.e. the uncertainty (or risk) expressed in a risk assessment, but in many cases not to metadoxastic uncertainty, i.e. uncertainty about which of several competing assessments is correct. Instead, a common approach to metadoxastic uncertainty is to only take the most plausible assessment into account. This will (...) typically lead to risk-prone deviations from risk-neutrality. Secondly, risks and benefits for different persons are added to form a total value of risk. Such calculations are used to support the view that one should accept being exposed to a risk if it brings greater benefits for others. This is in stark contrast to modern Paretian welfare economics, that refrains from interindividual comparisons and does not require people to accept a disadvantage because it brings a larger advantage for others. (Published Online July 11 2006). (shrink)
We conceive of many general terms we use as having satisfaction conditions that are objective in that the thought that something meets them neither entails nor is entailed by the thought that we are currently in a position in which we are ready, or warranted, to apply those terms to it. How do we manage to use a given term in such a way that it is thereby endowed, and conceived to be endowed, with satisfaction conditions that are objective in (...) this sense? In the first half of the paper, I present a number of interrelated problems for some extant metasemantical accounts of how use determines objective satisfaction conditions. In the second half, I then propose a novel account that avoids all of these problems. (shrink)
In 'Jackson on physical information and qualia'(1984) Terry Horgan defended physicalism against Frank Jackson's Knowledge Argument by raising what later has been called the 'mode of presentation reply'- arguingthatthe Knowledge Argumentis fallacious because itsubtly equivocates on two different readings of 'physical information'. In 'Mary, Mary, quite contrary' (2000) however, George Graham and Terry Horgan maintain that none of the replies against Jackson has yet been successful, not even Horgan's own 1984 rejoinder.Tosubstantiate their claim, they present an allegedly improved version of (...) the Knowledge Argument, the 'Mary Mary Argument' whose default moral is property-dualism. In section 1, I will set the scene by making some clarifying remarks regarding Jackson's original argument. In section 2, I will consider several objections to the most promising physicalist rejoinder to the Knowledge Argument, the mode of presentation reply. In section 3 I will discuss the Mary Mary Argument and propose the indexical account of consciousness that, as it happens, is based on Horgan's own 1984 account as a possible solution. Finally,in section 4, I will argue that to the extent that the Mary Mary Argument exceeds the force of Jackson's original challenge it coincides with Joe Levine's Explanatory Gap Argument. (shrink)
Sven Bernecker develops a theory of propositional memory that is at odds with the received epistemic theory of memory. On Bernecker’s account the belief that is remembered must be true, but it need not constitute knowledge, nor even have been true at the time it was acquired. I examine his reasons for thinking the epistemic theory of memory is false and mount a defense of the epistemic theory.
In Sven Bernecker’s excellent new book, Memory, he proposes an account of what we might call the metasemantics of memory: the conditions that determine the contents of the mental representations employed in memory. Bernecker endorses a pastist externalist view, according to which the content of a memory-constituting representation is fixed, in part, by the external conditions prevalent at the (past) time of the tokening of the original representation (the one from which the memory-constituting one is causally derived). Bernecker argues (...) that the best version of a pastist externalism about memory contents will have the result that there can be semantically-induced memory losses in cases involving unwitting world-switching . The burden of this paper is to show that Bernecker’s argument for this conclusion does not succeed. My arguments on this score have implications for our picture of mind-world relations, as these are reflected in a subject’s attempts to recall her past thoughts. (shrink)
This article is an attempt at a systematic account of decision making under greater uncertainty than what traditional, mathematically oriented decision theory can cope with. Four components of great uncertainty are distinguished: (1) the identity of the options is not well determined (uncertainty of demarcation) ; (2) the consequences of at least some option are unknown (uncertainty of consequences); (3) it is not clear whether information obtained from others, such as experts, can be relied on (uncertainty of reliance); and (4) (...) the values relevant for the decision are not determined with sufficient precision (uncertainty of values). Some possible strategy types are proposed for each of these components. Decisions related to environmental issues are used to illustrate the proposals. (shrink)
I will discuss two possible options how a defender of the type identity-theory with respect to mental properties can avoid the conclusion of Putnam's Multiple Realizability Argument. I begin by offering a rigorous formulation of Putnam's argument, which has been lacking so far in the literature (section 2). This rigorous formulation shows that there are basically two possible options for avoiding the argument's conclusion. Contrary to current mainstream, I reject the first option?Kim's 'local reductionism'?as untenable (section 3). I endorse the (...) second option, which has been brought into discredit by being too closely associated with disjunctive properties. I first show that many of the criticisms of disjunctive properties miss their target or beg the question against their opponent view (sections 4 & 5). Then I argue that it is not necessary to tie the second option closely to disjunctive properties. Hence, even if we deny the legitimacy of disjunctive properties, the identity-theorist still need not accept the conclusion of the Multiple Realizability Argument since there is an alternative, though related, way to spell out the second response (section 6). (shrink)
Clear-cut cases of decision-making under risk (known probabilities) are unusual in real life. The gambler’s decisions at the roulette table are as close as we can get to this type of decision-making. In contrast, decision-making under uncertainty (unknown probabilities) can be exemplified by a decision whether to enter a jungle that may contain unknown dangers. Life is usually more like an expedition into an unknown jungle than a visit to the casino. Nevertheless, it is common in decision-supporting disciplines to proceed (...) as if reasonably reliable probability estimates were available for all possible outcomes, i.e. as if the prevailing epistemic conditions were analogous to those of gambling at the roulette table. This mistake can be called the tuxedo fallacy . It is argued that traditional engineering practices such as safety factors and multiple safety barriers avoid this fallacy and that they therefore manage uncertainty better than probabilistic risk analysis (PRA). PRA is a useful tool, but it must be supplemented with other methods in order not to limit the analysis to dangers that can be assigned meaningful probability estimates. (shrink)
Cost–benefit analysis (CBA) is much more philosophically interesting than has in general been recognized. Since it is the only well-developed form of applied consequentialism, it is a testing-ground for consequentialism and for the counterfactual analysis that it requires. Ten classes of philosophical problems that affect the practical performance of cost–benefit analysis are investigated: topic selection, dependence on the decision perspective, dangers of super synopticism and undue centralization, prediction problems, the indeterminateness of our control over future decisions, the need to exclude (...) certain consequences for moral reasons, bias in the delimitation of consequences, incommensurability of consequences, difficulties in defending the essential requirement of transferability across contexts, and the normatively questionable but equally essential assumption of interpersonal compensability. (Published Online July 31 2007). (shrink)
In economic analysis, it is usually assumed that each individuals well-being (mental welfare) depends on her or his own resources (material welfare). A typology is provided of the ways in which one persons well-being may depend on the material resources of other persons. When such dependencies are taken into account, standard Paretian analysis of welfare needs to be modified. Pareto efficiency on the level of material resources need not coincide with Pareto efficiency on the level of well-being. A change in (...) economic conditions that is Pareto efficient in the standard sense, i.e., with respect to material resources, may nevertheless sacrifice one persons well-being to that of another. It is shown that under plausible assumptions, Pareto efficiency on the level of well-being may require the reduction of inequality on the level of material resources. (shrink)
discussions of risk contain logical and argumentative fallacies that are specific to the subject-matter. Ten such fallacies are identified, that can commonly be found in public debates on risk. They are named as follows: the sheer size fallacy, the converse sheer size fallacy, the fallacy of naturalness, the ostrich's fallacy, the proof-seeking fallacy, the delay fallacy, the technocratic fallacy, the consensus fallacy, the fallacy of pricing, and the infallability fallacy.