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Profile: William F Harms (Seattle Central Community College)
  1.  20
    William F. Harms (2004). Information and Meaning in Evolutionary Processes. Cambridge University Press.
    The most significant legacy of philosophical skepticism is the realization that our concepts, beliefs and theories are social constructs. This belief has led to epistemological relativism, or the thesis that since there is no ultimate truth about the world, theory preferences are only a matter of opinion. In this book, William Harms seeks to develop the conceptual foundations and tools for a science of knowledge through the application of evolutionary theory, thus allowing us to acknowledge the legacy of skepticism while (...)
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  2.  68
    William F. Harms (2000). Adaptation and Moral Realism. Biology and Philosophy 15 (5):699-712.
    Conventional wisdom has it that evolution makes a sham of morality, even if morality is an adaptation. I disagree. I argue that our best current adaptationist theory of meaning offers objective truth conditionsfor signaling systems of all sorts. The objectivity is, however, relative to species – specifically to the adaptive history of the signaling system in question. While evolution may not provide the kind of species independent objective standards that (e.g.) Kantians desire, this should be enough for the practical work (...)
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  3.  67
    William F. Harms (1998). The Use of Information Theory in Epistemology. Philosophy of Science 65 (3):472-501.
    Information theory offers a measure of "mutual information" which provides an appropriate measure of tracking efficiency for the naturalistic epistemologist. The statistical entropy on which it is based is arguably the best way of characterizing the uncertainty associated with the behavior of a system, and it is ontologically neutral. Though not appropriate for the naturalization of meaning, mutual information can serve as a measure of epistemic success independent of semantic maps and payoff structures. While not containing payoffs as terms, mutual (...)
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    William F. Harms (2006). What Is Information? Three Concepts. Biological Theory 1 (3):230-242.
    The concept of information tempts us as a theoretical primitive, partly because of the respectability lent to it by highly successful applications of Shannon’s information theory, partly because of its broad range of applicability in various domains, partly because of its neutrality with respect to what basic sorts of things there are. This versatility, however, is the very reason why information cannot be the theoretical primitive we might like it to be. “Information,” as it is variously used, is systematically ambiguous (...)
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  5.  41
    William F. Harms (2010). Determining Truth Conditions in Signaling Games. Philosophical Studies 147 (1):23 - 35.
    Evolving signaling systems can be said to induce partitions on the space of world states as they approach equilibrium. Formalizing this claim provides a general framework for understanding what it means for language to “cut nature at its seams”. In order to avoid taking our current best science as providing the adaptive target for all evolving systems, the state space of the world must be characterized exclusively in terms of the coincidence of stimuli and payoffs that drives the evolution of (...)
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  6. William F. Harms (1996). Population Epistemology: Information Flow in Evolutionary Processes. Dissertation, University of California, Irvine
    Evolutionary theory offers the possibility of building an epistemology that requires neither a theory of truth nor a definition of knowledge, thus bypassing some of the more notable difficulties with standard approaches to epistemology. Following a critique of one of the most popular approaches to thinking about cultural evolution I argue for a frequentist approach to evolutionary epistemology, and that cultural transmission should be understood as coordinated phenotypic variability within groups of closely related organisms. I construct a formal system which (...)
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  7.  8
    William F. Harms (2006). Naturalizing Epistemology: Prospectus 2006. Biological Theory 1 (1):23-24.
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  8.  1
    William F. Harms (2012). Ken Binmore , Natural Justice . Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 32 (2):86-88.