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William Harms [11]William F. Harms [7]
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Profile: William F Harms (Seattle Central Community College)
  1. William Harms & Brian Skyrms, Evolution of Moral Norms.
    Moral norms are the rules of morality, those that people actually follow, and those that we feel people ought to follow, even when they don’t. Historically, the social sciences have been primarily concerned with describing the many forms that moral norms take in various cultures, with the emerging implication that moral norms are mere arbitrary products of culture. Philosophers, on the other hand, have been more concerned with trying to understand the nature and source of rules that all cultures ought (...)
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  2. William Harms, Papers.
    Telenomic Agency: Towards a proper functions theory of normativity (pdf) is a recent paper on the biological basis of normativity. This paper attempts to show that the notion of biological function/malfunction has more to offer our understanding of genuine agency than is usually acknowledged. It is suggested that moral and rational normativity attach to signals in very specific biological regulatory systems, and that the complexity of these systems accounts for much of the phenomenological richness of agency, as well as showing (...)
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  3. William Harms, Pre-Established Harmony: Information Flow in Evolutionary Processes.
    Part II: Modeling Chapter 3: Single Populations Chapter 4: Multiple Populations Chapter 5: Information [ “The Use of Information Theory in Epistemology”, Philosophy of Science ...] Chapter 6: A two level model for Bacterial Epistemology Chapter 7: A three level model for Bumblebee Epistemology [ “Reliability and Novelty”.
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  4. William Harms, The Evolution of Normative Systems.
    Philosophers spend a lot of time worrying about rules. We worry about how one ought to live, about the rules of justification for beliefs and actions, about what it would be like if the rules of reason were rigorously followed, about what the rules are for scientific enquiry, about which rules govern the meaning of signs and the intentions of agents, and so on. Sometimes, we argue that there are no such rules as most of us want to believe there (...)
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  5. William Harms (2012). What Does a Naturalistic Epistemologist Do? Metascience 21 (1):203-206.
    What does a naturalistic epistemologist do? Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9531-7 Authors William F. Harms, Humanities and Social Sciences, Seattle Central Community College, 1701 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122-9905, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
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  6. William F. Harms (2012). Ken Binmore , Natural Justice . Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 32 (2):86-88.
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  7. 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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  8. William F. Harms (2006). Naturalizing Epistemology: Prospectus 2006. Biological Theory 1 (1):23-24.
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  9. William F. Harms (2006). What Is Information? Three Concepts. Biological Theory 1 (3):230-242.
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  10. 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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  11. William Harms (2000). The Evolution of Cooperation in Hostile Environments. Journal of Consciousness Studies 7 (1-2):1-2.
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  12. 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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  13. William Harms (1999). Biological Altruism in Hostile Environments. Complexity 5 (2):23-28.
    The evolution of economic altruism is one of the most vigorous areas of study at the intersection of biology, economics, and philosophy. The basic problem is easily understood. Biological organisms, be they people or paramecia, have ample opportunity to confer benefits on others at relatively low cost to themselves. If conferring such benefits becomes common, the overall productivity of the population in which it occurs is increased. Presumably, there is no advantage to refusing such benefits, but it is also the (...)
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  14. William Harms (1998). Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach, Dan Sperber. Blackwell Publishers, 1996, Vii + 175 Pages. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 14 (01):177-.
  15. 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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  16. William Harms (1997). Evolution and Ultimatum Bargaining. Theory and Decision 42 (2):147-175.
    Empirical research has discovered that experimental subjects in ultimatum bargaining situations generally fail to play the decision-theoretic optimum strategy, and instead play something between that strategy and a fair split. In evolutionary dynamics, fair division and nearly fair division strategies often go to fixation and weakly dominated strategies can do quite well. Computer simulations were done using three different ultimatum bargaining games as determinates of fitness. (1) No tendency toward the elimination of weakly dominated strategies was observed, with or without (...)
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  17. William Harms (1997). Reliability and Novelty: Information Gain in Multi-Level Selection Systems. [REVIEW] Erkenntnis 46 (3):335-363.
    Information about the environment is captured in human biological systems on a variety of interacting levels – in distributions of genes, linguistic particulars, concepts, methods, theories, preferences, and overt behaviors. I investigate some of the basic principles which govern such a hierarchy by constructing a comparatively simple three-level selection model of bee foraging preferences and behaviors. The information-theoretic notion of ''''mutual information'''' is employed as a measure of efficiency in tracking a changing environment, and its appropriateness in epistemological applications is (...)
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  18. William Harms (1996). Cultural Evolution and the Variable Phenotype. Biology and Philosophy 11 (3):357-375.
    It is common in attempts to extend the theory of evolution to culture to generalize from the causal basis of biological evolution, so that evolutionary theory becomes the theory of copying processes. Generalizing from the formal dynamics of evolution allows greater leeway in what kinds of things cultural entities can be, if they are to evolve. By understanding the phenomenon of cultural transmission in terms of coordinated phenotypic variability, we can have a theory of cultural evolution which allows us to (...)
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