Intelligent design advocate William Dembski has introduced a measure of information called “complex specified information”, or CSI. He claims that CSI is a reliable marker of design by intelligent agents. He puts forth a “Law of Conservation of Information” which states that chance and natural laws are incapable of generating CSI. In particular, CSI cannot be generated by evolutionary computation. Dembski asserts that CSI is present in intelligent causes and in the flagellum of Escherichia coli , and concludes that neither (...) have natural explanations. In this paper, we examine Dembski’s claims, point out significant errors in his reasoning, and conclude that there is no reason to accept his assertions. (shrink)
Intelligent design theorist William Dembski has proposed an ``explanatory filter'' for distinguishing between events due to chance,lawful regularity or design. We show that if Dembski's filter were adopted as a scientific heuristic, some classical developments in science would not be rational, and that Dembski's assertion that the filter reliably identifies rarefied design requires ignoring the state of background knowledge. If background information changes even slightly, the filter's conclusion will vary wildly. Dembski fails to overcome Hume's objections to arguments from design.
The behavior of individuals currently living will generally have long-term consequences that affect the well-being of those who will come to live in the future. Intergenerational interdependencies of this nature raise difficult moral issues because only the current generation is in a position to decide on actions that will determine the nature of the world in which future generations will live. Although most are willing to attach some weight to the interests of future generations, many would argue that it is (...) not necessary to treat these interests as equivalent to those of the current generation. A common approach in this context is to use a system of discounting to evaluate future benefits and harms. This paper assesses the logic of discounting drawing on the writings of economists and philosophers. Much of the economic literature concerns the choice of an appropriate social discount rate. The social discount rate can be taken to reflect beliefs about the rights of future generations, a subject that has been extensively debated in the phioosophic literature. The writings of both economists and philosophers concerned with the weight to attach to the interests of future generations are reviewed and evaluated in this paper and the implications for environmental policy are discussed. (shrink)
The Kyoto Protocol on global warming has provoked great controversy in part because it calls for heavier burdens on wealthy countries than on developing countries in the effort to control climate change. The U.S. Senate voted unanimously to oppose any agreement that does not require emissions reductions in low-income countries. The ethics of this position are examined in this paper which shows that there are good moral reasons for supporting the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol. Such a conclusion follows easily (...) from considerations of distributive justice but can also be supported by more narrowly self-interested arguments. (shrink)
1. Bd. Die Relativitätstheorie fällt : physikalische, philosophische, wissenschaftssoziologische und allgemeinverständliche Korrektur : hundert Jahre Kultus des Irrtums sind genug -- 3. Bd. Die Urknalltheorie fällt.
Talk delivered at CSICOP's Fourth World Skeptics Conference in Burbank, California, 21 June 2002, at a discussionÂ titled "Evolution and Intelligent Design." The participants included ID proponents William Dembski and Paul Nelson as well as evolutionists WesleyElsberry and Kenneth Miller. Massimo Pigliucci moderated the discussion.
This paper examines Wesley Salmon's "process" theory of causality, arguing in particular that there are four areas of inadequacy. These are that the theory is circular, that it is too vague at a crucial point, that statistical forks do not serve their intended purpose, and that Salmon has not adequately demonstrated that the theory avoids Hume's strictures about "hidden powers". A new theory is suggested, based on "conserved quantities", which fulfills Salmon's broad objectives, and which avoids the problems discussed.
Earlier in this volume, Wesley Salmon has given a characteristically clear and trenchant critique of the account of non-demonstrative reasoning known by the slogan `Inference to the Best Explanation'. As a long-time fan of the idea that explanatory considerations are a guide to inference, I was delighted by the suggestion that Wes and I might work together on a discussion of the issues. In the event, this project has exceeded my high expectations, for in addition to the intellectual gain (...) that comes from the careful study of his essay, I have benefited enormously from the stream of illuminating emails and faxes that Wes has sent me during our collaboration. Doing philosophy together has been an education and a pleasure. Salmon's essay would place Inference to the Best Explanation beyond the pale of acceptable philosophical accounts of inference. According to Salmon, Inference to the Best Explanation has serious internal difficulties and compares very unfavourably with Bayesian approaches to these matters. My aim in the following remarks is irenic. I hope to show that a number of the claimed difficulties either are not really difficulties or are avoidable. In some cases, the avoidance will require a mild reinterpretation of the account that lies behind the slogan `Inference to the Best Explanation'; in others, it will require admitting limits to the scope of the account. For I accept at the outset that Inference to the Best Explanation cannot possibly be the whole story about the assessment of scientific hypotheses. For me, the interesting idea is simply that we sometimes decide how likely a hypothesis is to be correct in part by considering how good an explanation it would provide, if it were correct. This is the idea of explanatory considerations providing a guide to inference, and this is the idea that I will here promote. (shrink)
Wesley Salmon provided three classic criteria of adequacy for satisfactory interpretations of probability. A fourth criterion is suggested here. A distinction is drawn between frequency‐driven probability models and theory‐driven probability models and it is argued that single case accounts of chance are superior to frequency accounts at least for the latter. Finally it is suggested that theories of chance should be required only to be contingently true, a position which is a natural extension of Salmon's ontic account of probabilistic (...) causality and his own later views on propensities. (shrink)
In his later years, Wesley Salmon believed that the two dominant models of scientific explanation (his own causal-mechanical model and the unificationist model) were reconcilable. Salmon envisaged a 'new consensus' about explanation: he suggested that the two models represent two 'complementary' types of explanation, which may 'peacefully coexist' because they illuminate different aspects of scientific understanding. This paper traces the development of Salmon's ideas and presents a critical analysis of his complementarity thesis. Salmon's thesis is rejected on the basis (...) of two objections, and an alternative view of the relation between different types of explanation is proposed. (shrink)
In this response to essays by Barbara J. King, Gregory R. Peterson, Wesley J. Wildman, and Nancy R. Howell, I present arguments to counter some of the exciting and challenging questions from my colleagues. I take the opportunity to restate my argument for an interdisciplinary public theology, and by further developing the notion of transversality I argue for the specificity of the emerging theological dialogue with paleoanthropology and primatology. By arguing for a hermeneutics of the body, I respond (...) to criticism of my notion of human uniqueness and argue for strong evolutionary continuities, as well as significant discontinuities, between primates, humans, and other hominids. In addition, I answer critical questions about theological methodology and argue how the notion of human uniqueness, theologically restated as the image of God, is enriched by transversally appropriating scientific notions of species specificity and embodied personhood. (shrink)
Wesley Wildman: Religious philosophy as multidisciplinary comparative inquiry: envisioning a future for the philosophy of religion Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11153-012-9339-4 Authors Jeppe Sinding Jensen, Department of Culture and Society, Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University, Tasingegade 3, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark Journal International Journal for Philosophy of Religion Online ISSN 1572-8684 Print ISSN 0020-7047.
This is a response to Wesley J. Wildman’s “Behind, Between, and Beyond Anthropomorphic Models of Ultimate Reality.” While I agree with much of what Wildman writes, I raise questions concerning standards for evaluating models of ultimate reality and the plausibility of ranking such models. This paper was delivered during the APA Pacific 2007 Mini-Conference on Models of God.
Wesley Salmon is renowned for his seminal contributions to the philosophy of science. He has powerfully and permanently shaped discussion of such issues as lawlike and probabilistic explanation and the interrelation of explanatory notions to causal notions. This unique volume brings together twenty-six of his essays on subjects related to causality and explanation, written over the period 1971-1995. Six of the essays have never been published before and many others have only appeared in obscure venues. The volume includes a (...) section of accessible introductory pieces, as well as more advanced and technical pieces, and will make essential work in the philosophy of science readily available to both scholars and students. (shrink)
This volume of articles (most published, some new) is a follow-up to the late Wesley C. Salmon's widely read collection Causality And Explanation (OUP 1998). It contains both published and unpublished articles, and focuses on two related areas of inquiry: First, is science a rational enterprise? Secondly, does science yield objective information about our world, even the aspects that we cannot observe directly? Salmon's own take is that objective knowledge of the world is possible, and his work in these (...) articles centers around proving that this can be so. Salmon's influential standing in the field ensures that this volume will be of interest to both undergraduates and professional philosophers, primarily in the philosophy of science. (shrink)
In the latter half of the twentieth century, there has been a sharp decline in confidence in sentencing principles, due to a questioning of the efficacy of punishment. It has been very difficult to develop consistent, fair, and humane criteria for evaluating legislative, judicial and correctional advancements. The Practice of Punishment offers a comprehensive study of punishment that identifies the principles of sentencing and corrections on which modern correctional systems should be built. The theory of punishment that emerges is built (...) on the view that the central function of the law is to reduce the need to use force in the resolutions of disputes. In this text, Wesley Cragg argues that the proper role of sentencing and sentence administration, as well as policing and adjudication, is to sustain public confidence in the capacity of the law to fulfill that function. Cragg believes that sentencing and corrections should be guided by principles of restorative justice, and he contends that inflicting punishment is in itself not a legitimate objective of criminal law. The Practice of Punishment is a philosophical account of punishment, sentencing, and correction which draws strongly on first-hand experience of penal practices, diverse recent studies, government reports, position papers, crime surveys, and victim concerns. It will be of special interest to applied ethicists, those concerned with the theory and practice of punishment and policing, and criminal justice scholars and lawyers. (shrink)
Causalists about explanation claim that to explain an event is to provide information about the causal history of that event. Some causalists also endorse a proportionality claim, namely that one explanation is better than another insofar as it provides a greater amount of causal information. In this chapter I consider various challenges to these causalist claims. There is a common and influential formulation of the causalist requirement – the ‘Causal Process Requirement’ – that does appear vulnerable to these anti-causalist challenges, (...) but I argue that they do not give us reason to reject causalism entirely. Instead, these challenges lead us to articulate the causalist requirement in an alternative way. This alternative articulation incorporates some of the important anti-causalist insights without abandoning the explanatory necessity of causal information. For example, proponents of the ‘equilibrium challenge’ argue that the best available explanations of the behaviour of certain dynamical systems do not appear to provide any causal information. I respond that, contrary to appearances, these equilibrium explanations are fundamentally causal, and I provide a formulation of the causalist thesis that is immune to the equilibrium challenge. I then show how this formulation is also immune to the ‘epistemic challenge’ – thus vindicating (a properly formulated version of) the causalist thesis. (shrink)
Smith, Wesley J The growth in policies that force healthcare workers to participate in activities that are deemed both immoral and unprofessional as against the sanctity of human life has given rise to the need for bringing about conscience in health care. The need for fashioning proper conscience clauses and challenges faced in its implementation are highlighted.
In recent years, there has been much concern expressed about the under-representation of women in academic philosophy. Our goal in this paper is to call attention to a cluster of phenomena that may be contributing to this gender gap. The findings we review indicate that when women and men with little or no philosophical training are presented with standard philosophical thought experiments, in many cases their intuitions about these cases are significantly different. In section 1 we review some of the (...) data on the under-representation of women in academic philosophy. In section 2 we explain how we use the term 'intuition,' and offer a brief account of how intuitions are invoked in philosophical argument and philosophical theory building. In the third section we set out the evidence for gender differences in philosophical intuition and mention some evidence about gender differences in decisions and behaviors that are (or should be) of considerable interest to philosophers. In the fourth section, our focus changes from facts to hypotheses. In that section we explain how differences in philosophical intuition might be an important part of the explanation for the gender gap in philosophy. The fifth section is a brief conclusion. (shrink)
If intuitions are associated with gender this might help to explain the fact that while the gender gap has disappeared in many other learned clubs, women are still seriously under-represented in the Philosophers Club. Since people who don’t have the intuitions that most club members share have a harder time getting into the club, and since the majority of Philosophers are now and always have been men, perhaps the under-representation of women is due, in part, to a selection effect.
According to a prominent claim in recent epistemology, people are less likely to ascribe knowledge to a high stakes subject for whom the practical consequences of error are severe, than to a low stakes subject for whom the practical consequences of error are slight. We offer an opinionated "state of the art" on experimental research about the role of stakes in knowledge judgments. We draw on a first wave of empirical studies--due to Feltz & Zarpentine (2010), May et al (2010), (...) and Buckwalter (2010)--which cast doubt on folk stakes sensitivity, and a second wave of empirical studies--due to Pinillos (2012) and Sripada & Stanley (2012)--said to vindicate it, as well as new studies of our own. We conclude that the balance of evidence to date best supports Folk stakes insensitivity, or that all else equal, stakes do not affect knowledge ascription. (shrink)
Recently psychologists and experimental philosophers have reported findings showing that in some cases ordinary people's moral intuitions are affected by factors of dubious relevance to the truth of the content of the intuition. Some defend the use of intuition as evidence in ethics by arguing that philosophers are the experts in this area, and philosophers' moral intuitions are both different from those of ordinary people and more reliable. We conducted two experiments indicating that philosophers and non-philosophers do indeed sometimes have (...) different moral intuitions, but challenging the notion that philosophers have better or more reliable intuitions. (shrink)
Recent theories of epistemic contextualism have challenged traditional invariantist positions in epistemology by claiming that the truth conditions of knowledge attributions fluctuate between conversational contexts. Contextualists often garner support for this view by appealing to folk intuitions regarding ordinary knowledge practices. Proposed is an experiment designed to test the descriptive conditions upon which these types of contextualist defenses rely. In the cases tested, the folk pattern of knowledge attribution runs contrary to what contextualism predicts. While preliminary, these data inspire prima (...) facie skepticism for the contextualist hypothesis regarding folk knowledge claims, as well as challenge certain predictions made by recent theories of subject-sensitive invariantism. It is further argued that such results raise methodological questions concerning the practice of relying on an assumption of intuitions, with respect to ordinary language practices, as evidence for philosophical conclusions regarding knowledge. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy is a new interdisciplinary field that uses methods normally associated with psychology to investigate questions normally associated with philosophy. The present review focuses on research in experimental philosophy on four central questions. First, why is it that people's moral judgments appear to influence their intuitions about seemingly nonmoral questions? Second, do people think that moral questions have objective answers, or do they see morality as fundamentally relative? Third, do people believe in free will, and do they see free (...) will as compatible with determinism? Fourth, how do people determine whether an entity is conscious? (shrink)
One recent trend in contemporary epistemology is to study the way in which the concept of knowledge is actually applied in everyday settings. This approach has inspired an exciting new spirit of collaboration between experimental philosophers and traditional epistemologists, who have begun using the techniques of the social sciences to investigate the factors that influence ordinary judgments about knowledge attribution. This paper provides an overview of some of the results these researchers have uncovered, suggesting that in addition to traditionally considered (...) factors like evidence and justification, a number of important non-truth-conducive factors play significant roles in determining when people ascribe knowledge. The present review focuses on four non-traditional factors: pragmatic load (in relation to contextualism and interest-relative invariantism), moral judgment, performance errors, and demographic variation. (shrink)
Knobe (2003a, 2003b, 2004b) and others have demonstrated the surprising fact that the valence of a side-effect action can affect intuitions about whether that action was performed intentionally. Here we report the results of an experiment that extends these findings by testing for an analogous effect regarding knowledge attributions. Our results suggest that subjects are less likely to find that an agent knows an action will bring about a side-effect when the effect is good than when it is bad. It (...) is further argued that these findings, while preliminary, have important implications for recent debates within epistemology about the relationship between knowledge and action. (shrink)
Carl G. Hempel has often stated that inductive-statistical explanations, as he conceives them, are inductive arguments. This discussion note raises the question of whether such arguments are to be understood as (1) arguments of the traditional sort, containing premises and conclusions, governed by some sort of inductive "acceptance rules," or (2) something more closely akin to Carnap's degree of confirmation statements which occur in an inductive logic which entirely eschews inductive "acceptance rules." Hempel's writings do not seem unequivocal on this (...) issue. It is suggested that adoption of construal (2) would remove the need for Hempel's high probability requirement on I-S explanations. (shrink)
This paper argues that widely accepted understanding of the respective responsibilities of business and government in the post war industrialized world can be traced back to a tacit social contract that emerged following the second world war. The effect of this contract was to assign responsibility for generating wealth to business and responsibility for ensuring the equitable sharing of wealth to governments. Without question, this arrangement has resulted in substantial improvements in the quality of life in the industrialized world in (...) the intervening period. I argue that with advance of economic globalization and the growing power and influence of multi national corporations, this division of responsibilities is not longer viable or defensible. What is needed, fifty years after the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, is a new social contract that shares responsibilities for human rights and related ethical responsibilities in a manner more in keeping with the vision captured by the post war Declaration. I conclude by suggesting some reasons for thinking that a new social contract may be emerging. (shrink)
Nearly all philosophers agree that only true things can be known. One way to justify the truth condition in an analysis of knowledge is by appeal to the linguistic thesis that the word 'know' is factive. But does this principle reflect actual usage? Several examples in ordinary language seem to show that non-philosophers sometimes use 'know' in what appear to be non-factive ways, suggesting that the folk concept of knowledge is nonfactive. Presented here however, is a rival explanatory hypothesis for (...) these linguistic practices. The results of four experiments utilizing explicit paraphrasing tasks suggest that many seemingly non-factive uses of 'know' are better explained by a factive concept--together with a phenomenon known as protagonist projection--than by an ordinary concept that allows for knowledge under false belief. Thus it is argued that armchair philosophical orthodoxy regarding the factivity of knowledge withstands current empirical scrutiny. (shrink)
Philosophers of mind typically group experiential states together and distinguish these from intentional states on the basis of their purportedly obvious phenomenal character. Sytsma and Machery (2010) challenge this dichotomy by presenting evidence that non-philosophers do not classify subjective experiences relative to a state's phenomenological character, but rather by its valence. However we argue that S&M's results do not speak to folk beliefs about the nature of experiential states, but rather to folk beliefs about the entity to which those experiential (...) states are attributed. In two experiments, we demonstrate that ordinary attributions of subjective experience (of smell and felt emotions) to a simple robot are not sensitive to valence, but instead respond to functional assumptions about the entity to which the states are (or are not) attributed. (shrink)
This paper discusses several distinct process theories of causality offered in recent years by Phil Dowe and me. It addresses problems concerning the explication of causal process, causal interaction, and causal transmission, whether given in terms of transmission of marks, transmission of invariant or conserved quantities, or mere possession of conserved quantities. Renouncing the mark-transmission and invariant quantity criteria, I accept a conserved quantity theory similar to Dowe's--differing basically with respect to causal transmission. This paper also responds to several fundamental (...) constructive criticisms contained in Christopher Hitchcock's discussion of both the mark-transmission and the conserved quantity theories. (shrink)
Causal explanation proceeds by citing the causes of the explanandum. Any model of causal explanation requires a specification of the relation between cause and effect in virtue of which citing the cause explains the effect. In particular, it requires a specification of what it is for the explanandum to be causally dependent on the explanans and what types of things (broadly understood) the explanans are. There have been a number of such models. For the benefit of the unfamiliar reader, here (...) is a brief statement of some major views. On David Lewis’s account, c causally explains e if c is connected to e with a network of causal chains. For him, causal explanation consists in presenting portions of explanatory information captured by the causal network. On Wesley Salmon’s reading, c causally explains e if c is connected with e by a suitable continuous causal (i.e., capable of transmitting a mark) process. On the standard deductive-nomological reading of causal explanation, for c to causally explain e, c must be a nomologically sufficient condition for e. And for John Mackie, for c to causally explain e there must be event-types C and E such that C is an inus-condition for E.53 In a series of papers and a book, James Woodward (1997, 2000, 2002, 2003a, 2003b) has put forward a ‘manipulationist’ account of causal explanation. Briefly put, c causally explains e if e causally depends on c, where the notion of causal dependence is understood in terms of relevant (interventionist) counterfactual, that is counterfactuals that describe the outcomes of interventions. A bit more accurately, c causally explains e if, were c to be (actually or counterfactually) manipulated, e would change too. This model ties causal explanation to actual and counterfactual experiments that show how manipulation of factors mentioned in the explanans would alter the explanandum. It also stresses the role of invariant relationships, as opposed to strict laws, in causal explanation. Explanation in this model consists in answering a network of “what-if-things-had-been-different questions”, thereby placing the explanandum within a pattern of counterfactual dependencies (cf. Woodward 2003a, p.. (shrink)
The story of how Perrin’s experimental work established the reality of atoms and molecules has been a staple in (realist) philosophy of science writings (Wesley Salmon, Clark Glymour, Peter Achinstein, Penelope Maddy, …). I’ll argue that how this story is told distorts both what the work was and its significance, and draw morals for the understanding of how theories can be or fail to be empirically grounded.
This paper presents a drastically revised version of the theory of causality, based on analyses of causal processes and causal interactions, advocated in Salmon (1984). Relying heavily on modified versions of proposals by P. Dowe, this article answers penetrating objections by Dowe and P. Kitcher to the earlier theory. It shows how the new theory circumvents a host of difficulties that have been raised in the literature. The result is, I hope, a more satisfactory analysis of physical causality.
We distinguish between two categories of belief--thin belief and thick belief--and provide evidence that they approximate genuinely distinct categories within folk psychology. We use the distinction to make informative predictions about how laypeople view the relationship between knowledge and belief. More specifically, we show that if the distinction is genuine, then we can make sense of otherwise extremely puzzling recent experimental findings on the entailment thesis (i.e. the widely held philosophical thesis that knowledge entails belief).
Previous research in experimental philosophy has suggested that moral judgments can influence the ordinary application of a number of different concepts, including attributions of knowledge. But should epistemologists care? The present set of studies demonstrate that this basic effect can be extended to overturn intuitions in some of the most theoretically central experiments in contemporary epistemology: Gettier cases. Furthermore, experiment three shows that this effect is unlikely mediated by a simple desire to blame, suggesting that a correct psychological account of (...) ordinary knowledge attribution may include moral judgment. (shrink)
A critique of inferences from 'is' to 'ought' plays a central role in Elqayam and Evans' defense of descriptivism. However, the reflective equilibrium strategy described by Goodman and embraced by Rawls, Cohen and many others poses an important challenge to that critique. Dual system theories may help respond to that challenge.
This paper presents an attempt to integrate theories of causal processes—of the kind developed by Wesley Salmon and Phil Dowe—into a theory of causal models using Bayesian networks. We suggest that arcs in causal models must correspond to possible causal processes. Moreover, we suggest that when processes are rendered physically impossible by what occurs on distinct paths, the original model must be restricted by removing the relevant arc. These two techniques suffice to explain cases of late preëmption and other (...) cases that have proved problematic for causal models. (shrink)
Research in experimental epistemology has revealed a great, yet unsolved mystery: why do ordinary evaluations of knowledge ascribing sentences involving stakes and error appear to diverge so systematically from the predictions professional epistemologists make about them? Two recent solutions to this mystery by Keith DeRose (2011) and N. Ángel Pinillos (2012) argue that these differences arise due to specific problems with the designs of past experimental studies. This paper presents two new experiments to directly test these responses. Results vindicate previous (...) findings by suggesting that (i) the solution to the mystery is not likely to be based on the empirical features these theorists identify, and (ii) that the salience of ascriber error continues to make the difference in folk ratings of third-person knowledge ascribing sentences. (shrink)
Alexander Bird and Darrell Rowbottom have argued for two competing accounts of the concept of scientific progress. For Bird, progress consists in the accumulation of scientific knowledge. For Rowbottom, progress consists in the accumulation of true scientific beliefs. Both appeal to intuitions elicited by thought experiments in support of their views, and it seems fair to say that the debate has reached an impasse. In an attempt to avoid this stalemate, we conduct a systematic study of the factors that underlie (...) judgments about scientific progress. Our results suggest that (internal) justification plays an important role in intuitive judgments about progress, questioning the intuitive support for the claim that the concept of scientific progress is best explained in terms of the accumulation of true scientific belief. (shrink)