When making decisions, humans can observe many kinds of information about others' activities, but their effects on performance are not well understood. We investigated social learning strategies using a simple problem-solving task in which participants search a complex space, and each can view and imitate others' solutions. Results showed that participants combined multiple sources of information to guide learning, including payoffs of peers' solutions, popularity of solution elements among peers, similarity of peers' solutions to their own, and relative payoffs from (...) individual exploration. Furthermore, performance was positively associated with imitation rates at both the individual and group levels. When peers' payoffs were hidden, popularity and similarity biases reversed, participants searched more broadly and randomly, and both quality and equity of exploration suffered. We conclude that when peers' solutions can be effectively compared, imitation does not simply permit scrounging, but it can also facilitate propagation of good solutions for further cumulative exploration. (shrink)
In a recent issue of this journal, Jorn Sonderholm presents two main criticisms of my 2008 case for a diachronic view of base property exemplification in metaethics. This essay contends that neither of Sonderholm’s criticisms hit their mark, and that there are additional reasons to adopt a diachronic view of base property exemplification. Thus, the case for a diachronic view of base property exemplification in metaethics is stronger than previously thought.
Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons have recently provided an updated presentation and defense of a metaethical view that they call cognitivist expressivism. Expressivists claim that moral judgments express propositional attitudes that do not represent or describe the external world. Horgan and Timmons agree with this claim, but they also deny the traditional expressivist claim that moral judgments do not express beliefs. On their view, moral judgments are genuine, truth-apt beliefs, thus making their form of expressivism a cognitivist one. In this (...) essay, I argue that Horgan and Timmons have failed to demonstrate that moral judgments express sui generis, nondescriptive content by showing that at least some moral content is descriptive. In addition, I show how the descriptivist can account for those properties that Horgan and Timmons consider distinctive of moral belief. In doing so, I remove one of the expressivist's most important lines of motivation for positing nondescriptive moral content in the first place. At the end of the essay, I briefly sketch a view that I call partial or modest moral realism. (shrink)
In this essay I distinguish between a synchronic view of base property exemplification and a diachronic one. I argue that only a diachronic view of base property exemplification can substantiate a ban on morally mixed worlds. I then argue that one of Robert Mabrito’s recent criticisms of Russ Shafer-Landau’s moral realism fails on either a synchronic or a diachronic view.
The schema, or theoretical framework, holism, is concerned with the essence of society as a whole. Though undermined by Popper, it cannot be refuted ? nor proved. The extreme alternative is individualism. Several forms, due to Freud, Wittgenstein, and phenomenology, make presuppositions that require the individualist interpretation of society to be reopened at a new point. Popper's ? or Weber's ? is the sturdiest; its units being individual actions plus their unintended by?products. The Weber?Popper schema can provide a framework for (...) many satisfactory societal explanations. But individualism misses the holistic possibility of dynamic societal forces; the individualist fails to produce any dynamic laws. A dynamic bipolar schema could put both schemata to work without prescribing which would predominate. Empirical investigation would determine the more fruitful for a given problem. This schema would be ?justified? by fostering a satisfactory empirical social theory. The present investigation also reveals where the real controversies about schemata lie. (shrink)
Some twenty different background approaches, or schemata, permeate the social sciences. Most of their exponents regard their choice as excluding the rest. This paper is concerned to show that all such conflict is merely disputatious since virtually all the schemata require one another. Taking the individual's need to act as starting-point, certain restrictions limiting his freedom of action are identified as factors of the overt societal situation. These, however, fail to explain all aspects of his powerlessness, to account for which (...) he then seeks such deeper constraints as unseen powers or human conspiracies. Social scientists for their part develop theories or interpretations of the societal situation. The paper turns to the first of three groups of interpretations, concentrating on one constituent of the group, functionalism, which is a mirror-image of another constituent, 'conflict theory'. The complementarity of these two is claimed to apply to virtually all the schemata considered. (The second and third groups are deferred to the sequel.) The Appendix deals with the way in which explanatory factors can be combined. Having removed the unreal contentions associated with various schemata, the way is clear to treatment of the one substantive issue among them - to do with holism - in the sequel. (shrink)
Gasking, D. A. T. The philosophy of John Wisdom.--Thomson, J. J. Moore's technique revisited.--Yalden-Thomson, D. C. The Virginia lectures.--Dilman, I. Paradoxes and discoveries.--Ayers, M. R. Reason and psycholinguistics.--Roberts, G. W. Incorrigibility, behaviourism and predictionism.--Hinton, J. M. "This is visual sensation."--Gunderson, K. The texture of mentality.--Newell, R. W. John Wisdom and the problem of other minds.--Lyon, A. The relevance of Wisdom's work for the philosophy of science.--Morris, H. Shared guilt.--Bambrough, R. Literature and philosophy.--Chronological list of published writings of John Wisdom, 1928-1972 (...) (p. -300). (shrink)
Instrumentalism is an approach to science that treats a theory as a tool and only as a tool for computation; it dispenses with the concept of truth.Conventionalism treats a theory as true by convention if it forms a pattern of observations from which correct predictions can be made.Operationalism denies meaning to the concepts of a theory unless they can be defined operationally. It is argued in this paper that truth-value is indispensable to science, because a theory can be rejected only (...) if an empirical consequence is false and if falsity of a conclusion entails falsity of a premise. This undermines the above positions. The fourth interpretation isinduction. Induction, by contrast, uses the notion of truth-value. What is focused on here is its reliance on the ultimacy ofobservation. The present thesis is that instrumentalism, conventionalism, and induction are different attempts to handle observations. The common problem is the gap between data and theory.All these interpretations share a philosophy of observationalism. The aim of this paper is to show that the several orthodox interpretations of science all fail to solve the problem of the data-theory gap, and to show that they all presuppose a philosophy of observation. (shrink)