This article argues, against contemporary experimentalist criticism, that conceptual analysis has epistemic value, with a structure that encourages the development of interesting hypotheses which are of the right form to be valuable in diverse areas of philosophy. The article shows, by analysis of the Gettier programme, that conceptual analysis shares the proofs and refutations form Lakatos identified in mathematics. Upon discovery of a counterexample, this structure aids the search for a replacement hypothesis. The search is guided by heuristics. The heuristics (...) of conceptual analysis are similar to those in other interesting areas of scholarship, and so hypotheses generated by it are of the right form to be applicable to diverse areas. The article shows that the explanationist criterion in epistemology was developed and applied in this way. The epistemic value of conceptual analysis is oblique because it contributes not towards the main purpose of conceptual analysis but towards the reliable development of epistemically valuable hypotheses in philosophy and scholarship. (shrink)
Physicalism is the default position in science and in the philosophy of mind, but it should not be, I argue, because of two errors. By its epistemological error, physicalism gives physics priority over the evidence of first person experience. Only what I experience in first person is certain, so observation is prior to any theory. Physics itself is based on observation, avoiding the epistemological error, and then physics can progress, even changing its own ontology. However, physicalism imposes the ontology of (...) physics on every science, and in physics everything is causal. By its ontological error, physicalism tries to explain causally what is intentional. And it happens that causality and intentionality are mutually exclusive, showing that the ontology of physics is insufficient wherever intentions are present. This ontological insufficiency prevents that physicalism can repeat the success of physics with any science where intentions play a rôle, and thus it is blocking the advance of both the social sciences and the philosophy of mind. To overcome this obstacle, I propose to go back to the essentials: we should consider again the transcendental problem raised by Descartes and its solutions by Hume and Kant. On top of this subjectivist solution, we should take advantage of Darwin and Turing, and we should extend our ontology beyond causality to include intentionality, and here my proposal is problem solving. Then you could join our Post-Kantian subjectivism and say with me: The world is not a huge machine, as physicalism proposes, but an enigmatic problem. (shrink)
Biosemiotics and Semiotics have similarities and differences. Both deal with signal and meaning. One difference is that Biosemiotics covers a domain (life) that is less complex that the one addressed by Semiotics (human). We believe that this difference can be used to have Biosemiotics bringing added value to Semiotics. This belief is based on the fact that a theory of meaning is easier to build up for living elements than for humans, and that the results obtained for life can make (...) available some tools for a higher level of complexity. Semiotic has been encountering some difficulties to deliver a scientific theory of meaning that can be efficient at the level of human mind. The obstacles come from our ignorance on the nature of human. As it is true that we do not understand the nature of human mind on a scientific basis. On the other hand, the nature and properties of life are better understood. And we can propose a modelization for a generation of meaningful information in the field of elementary life. Once such a modelization is established, it is possible to look at extending it to the domain of human life. Such an approach on a theory of meaning (begininig in Biosemiotics and aiming at Semiotics), is what we present in this paper. Taking an elementary living element as reference, we introduce the bases of a systemic theory of meaning. Using a simple living system submitted to a constraint, we define a meaningful information, a meaning generator system and some elements related to meaningful information transmission. We then try to identify the hypothesis that need to be taken into account so the results obtained for living elements can be extended to human. (shrink)
One of the mains challenges of biosemiotics is ‘to attempt to naturalize biological meaning’ [Sharov & all 2015]. That challenge brings to look at a possible evolutionary thread for biosemiotics based on meaning generation for internal constraint satisfaction, starting with a pre-biotic entity emerging from a material universe. Such perspective complements and extends previous works that used a model of meaning generation for internal constraint satisfaction (the Meaning Generator System) [Menant 2003a, b; 2011]. We propose to look at such an (...) evolutionary thread for biosemiotics in three steps. The first step presents the proposed emergence of a pre-biotic entity as a far from thermodynamic equilibrium volume constrained to maintains its status [Menant 2015]. Such constraint dependence introduces natural links with teleology and with meaning generation. It also introduces perspectives for evolutionary origins of agency, self, and autonomy, coming in addition to other biosemiotic perspectives [Tønnessen, 2015]. The next step recalls the MGS as being a system approach linking the agent containing it to its environment and bringing to the agent a control from within. We apply the MGS to animal life. Relations with the Umwelt, with constructivism and with the Peircean triadic approach are highlighted. The last step of the thread brings the evolution of life up to humans where specificities related to human mind have to be taken into account. Among them is self-consciousness for which an existing evolutionary scenario introduces anxiety management as a foundational human constraint [Menant, 2014]. We link that scenario to the evolutionary thread because it introduces specific human constraints and is based on the evolution of meaningful representations. A conclusion summarizes the steps of the proposed evolutionary thread. More work is needed on that subject. Possible continuations are introduced. (shrink)
Justificationism is the epistemology that enjoins us to choose our beliefs according to this principle: choose all and only those beliefs and at an appropriate degree of confidence that one can justify, either by an intellectual certificate or empirical warrant. My article argues that most forms of justificationism require the truth of doxastic voluntarism, the doctrine that one may choose ones specific beliefs. However, since belief is involuntary, justificationism is severely undermined. Justificationism as stated couldn’t be practised; since believing is (...) not something we can do at will as a basic action. Although devastating to any subjectivist justificationism, it does not undermine our ability to cultivate, through long-term choices, the most rational attitude in the search for truth and the growth of knowledge. A major rival of subjective justiticationism (SJ) is critical rationalism (CR). CR is the doctrine that progress in the growth of knowledge occurs through the unrelenting criticism of competing unjustified conjectural attempts to solve problems. The objective methods and standards involved in CR are unaffected because following (or not) an objective method is something we can do at will. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine Plantinga’s (1993, 2000, 2011) Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN). While there has been much discussion about Plantinga’s use of probabilities in the argument, I contend that insufficient attention has been paid to the question of how we are to interpret those probabilities. In this paper, I argue that views Plantinga defends elsewhere limit the range of interpretations available to him here. The upshot is that the EAAN is more limited in its applicability than Plantinga alleges.
Matthew Braddock’s argument from false god beliefs (AFG) is one of the most significant debunking arguments to emerge from the growing literature on Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR). This argument aims to produce a defeater for any basic theistic belief. In this essay, I reply to AFG by defending a counter-example to AFG’s crucial premise. In particular, I argue that the cognitive mechanisms posited by CSR do not “significantly contribute” to perceptually based theistic belief formation in the way that AFG (...) claims. As a result, a large class of basic theistic beliefs remains undefeated in the face of AFG. (shrink)
Errors in the history of economic analysis often remain uncorrected for long periods due to positive epistemic costs (PEC) involved in allocating time to going back over what older generations wrote. In order to demonstrate this in a case study, the economists’ practice of the “Coase Theorem” is reconsidered from a PEC point of view.
Lakatos’ (Lakatos, 1976) model of mathematical conceptual change has been criticized for neglecting the diversity of dynamics exhibited by mathematical concepts. In this work, I will propose a pluralist approach to mathematical change that re-conceptualizes Lakatos’ model of proofs and refutations as an ideal dynamic that mathematical concepts can exhibit to different degrees with respect to multiple dimensions. Drawing inspiration from Godfrey-Smith’s (Godfrey-Smith, 2009) population-based Darwinism, my proposal will be structured around the notion of a conceptual population, the opposition between (...) Lakatosian and Euclidean populations, and the spatial tools of the Lakatosian space. I will show how my approach is able to account for the variety of dynamics exhibited by mathematical concepts with the help of three case studies. (shrink)
I introduce the key ideas of foundationalist, coherentist and pragmatist theories of knowledge. I then use these ideas as background for presenting the work on knowledge and perception in this part, work by Grace Andrus de Laguna and Marie Collins Swabey. We will see that these authors critique the idea of sense data that was central to the foundationalist theories of knowledge of Bertrand Russel and other early analytic thinkers, though de Laguna’s critique leads to perspectivism about perception and knowledge (...) while Swabey rejects perspectivism. So too, we will see that de Laguna and Swabey develop epistemologies with strong coherentist elements, much as did their idealist teacher James Edwin Creighton. De Laguna’s, developed jointly with her husband, Theodore de Laguna, is a sophisticated form of naturalism that is built on a critique of pragmatist naturalism and is similar to the one made famous later by Willard V. Quine. Swabey rejects all forms of naturalism, arguing that knowledge requires an a priori foundation in reason. (shrink)
Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in evolutionary debunking arguments directed against certain types of belief, particularly moral and religious beliefs. According to those arguments, the evolutionary origins of the cognitive mechanisms that produce the targeted beliefs render these beliefs epistemically unjustified. The reason is that natural selection cares for reproduction and survival rather than truth, and false beliefs can in principle be as evolutionarily advantageous as true beliefs. The present volume brings together fourteen essays that examine evolutionary (...) debunking arguments not only in ethics and philosophy of religion, but also in philosophy of mathematics, metaphysics, and epistemology. The essays move forward research on those arguments by shedding fresh light on old problems and proposing new lines of inquiry. The book will appeal to scholars and graduate students interested in the possible skeptical implications of evolutionary theory in any of the above domains. (shrink)
In this essay, I consider an evolutionary debunking argument (EDA) that purports to undermine the epistemic justification of the belief in the reliability of our belief-forming processes, and an evolutionary vindicating argument (EVA) that seeks to establish that such a belief is epistemically justified. Whereas the EDA in question seems to fall prey to crippling self-defeat, the EVA under consideration seems to fall prey to vicious circularity. My interest in those arguments and the problems they face lies in what they (...) might tell us about the possibly aporetic nature of reason. For, if we take the EDA and the EVA in question to consist of true or plausible premises and valid inferences at which we arrive through a meticulous use of reason, then their falling victim to either crippling self-defeat or vicious circularity might be regarded as a sign that, when we push rational reflection on the reliability, or lack thereof, of our belief-forming capacities to the limit, we end up in a situation of aporia from which there seems to be no escape. (shrink)
This chapter explores global debunking arguments, debunking arguments that aim to give one a global defeater. I defend Alvin Plantinga’s view that global defeaters are possible and, once gained, are impossible to escape by reasoning. They thereby must be extinguished by other means: epistemically propitious actions, luck, or grace. I then distinguish between three types of global defeater—pure-undercutters, undercutters-because-rebutters, and undercutters-while-rebutters—and systematically consider how one can deflect such defeaters. Lastly, since I draw insights from the literature on perhaps the most (...) widely discussed global debunking argument in the literature, Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism, I end up responding to many potential problems for it. This includes the so-called conditionalization problem, as well as those raised by Bergmann (2002), Law (2012), Deem (2018), Hendricks and Anderson (2020), and Wielenberg (in Craig and Wielenberg (2021)). (shrink)
There are two main approaches to evolutionary epistemology: the analogical or Spencerian approach, and the literal or Darwinian approach. The analogical approach claims that the process of the development of culture – particularly the development of science – is purely like that of living creatures and is based on natural selection. Michael Ruse calls this approach the “traditional approach” or the “analogical approach”, and sometimes calls it the “Spencerian approach.” In the latter approach, which this essay is going to consider (...) from the viewpoint of Michael Ruse, the claim is that not only the development and evolution of animal bodies but also the development of the structures of their mind is a product of natural selection. The proponents of these approaches are divided into two groups: first, theorists like Lorenz, Reidl, and Wuketits, who believe that evolutionary epistemology is complementary to the critical philosophy of Kant. Second, theorists like Clark link evolutionary epistemology to Humean skepticism. Ruse, like Clark, believes that evolutionary epistemology is complementary to Humean philosophy and that the human mind isn’t a blank slate, but it is provided with innate capacities or secondary epigenetic rules. So, Ruse like Quine, believes that there isn’t any difference between analytic and synthetic propositions and that they all are synthetic propositions and posteriori. The difference is that Quine appeals to philosophical reasons, and Ruse appeals to biological ones. Moreover, there isn’t any necessity in knowledge according to Quine but rather, a pragmatic necessity; while Ruse believes that there is a type of necessity, that is, according to the present framework of our minds, based on our evolutionary history, we are condemned to think causally and mathematically, but we may lose this framework in the evolutionary process. It seems that Ruse’s viewpoint corresponds more with our common sense than that of Quine because we always put up resistance against those who believe that the principles of mathematics and logic are contingent. The viewpoint of Ruse was criticized, and he responds to his critics. We believe that some of his answers aren’t plausible.One of the most important criticisms against Ruse’s evolutionary epistemology is that it is self-contradictory, that is, what is important for evolutionary epistemologists is success in survival and reproduction, and the truth doesn’t matter to him, so he should accept that we need to believe that the principles of evolution itself can possibly be false. Ruse, responds to this criticism by distinguishing between the reality of common sense and metaphysical reality.We show in this essay that this solution doesn’t work because Ruse doesn’t suggest any criterion for distinguishing between beliefs based on common sense and beliefs based on metaphysical reality so we can express doubts about the examples he gives for common-sense beliefs. Furthermore, even if it were to be accepted that common-sense beliefs are infallible the problem still exists because natural selection isn’t a common-sense belief, so according to this, all of our beliefs might be mistaken, including the natural selection mechanism itself, and applying it to human knowledge. (shrink)
The article approaches the epistemological question on the concept of time from an anthropological psychology perspective. The differentiation between imminent perceptions and existence beyond imminent perception has been the earliest conceptualization of time found so far in the traces of human civilizations. The research differentiated psychological time from modern physics and astronomy as the basic hypothesis in the inquiries on the concept of time in physics and modern astronomy – is the physical unit of time an ontological existence of things (...) or an inter-subjective concept? The research adopts transcendental philosophy in the questioning of unconsciousness in the sociology of knowledge with a dissection between psychological time and physical units of time. With further questioning into the physics of time, and the nonphysical nature of time, I second with the primordial graviton background’s pragmatic approach, despite of the falsifiability of the Big Bang theory and inflation. (shrink)
During the first quarter of the twentieth century, the French philosopher Henri Bergson became an international celebrity, profoundly influencing contemporary intellectual and artistic currents. While Bergsonism was fashionable, L. Susan Stebbing, Bertrand Russell, Moritz Schlick, and Rudolf Carnap launched different critical attacks against some of Bergson’s views. This book examines this series of critical responses to Bergsonism early in the history of analytic philosophy. Analytic criticisms of Bergsonism were influenced by William James, who saw Bergson as an ‘anti-intellectualist’ ally of (...) American Pragmatism, and Max Scheler, who saw him as a prophet of Lebensphilosophie. Some of the main analytic objections to Bergson are answered in the work of Karin Costelloe-Stephen. Analytic anti-Bergsonism accompanied the earlier refutations of idealism by Russell and Moore, and later influenced the Vienna Circle’s critique of metaphysics. It eventually contributed to the formation of the view that ‘analytic’ philosophy is divided from its ‘continental’ counterpart. (shrink)
Applied Evolutionary Epistemology is a scientific-philosophical theory that defines evolution as the set of phenomena whereby units evolve at levels of ontological hierarchies by mechanisms and processes. This theory also provides a methodology to study evolution, namely, studying evolution involves identifying the units that evolve, the levels at which they evolve, and the mechanisms and processes whereby they evolve. Identifying units and levels of evolution in turn requires the development of ontological hierarchy theories, and examining mechanisms and processes necessitates theorizing (...) about causality. Together, hierarchy and causality theories explain how biorealities form and diversify with time. This paper analyzes how Applied EE redefines both hierarchy and causality theories in the light of the recent explosion of network approaches to causal reasoning associated with studies on reticulate and macroevolution. Causality theories have often been framed from within a rigid, ladder-like hierarchy theory where the rungs of the ladder represent the different levels, and the elements on the rungs represent the evolving units. Causality then is either defined reductionistically as an upward movement along the strands of a singular hierarchy, or holistically as a downward movement along that same hierarchy. Upward causation theories thereby analyze causal processes in time, i.e. over the course of natural history or phylogenetically, as Darwin and the founders of the Modern Synthesis intended. Downward causation theories analyze causal processes in space, ontogenetically or ecologically, as the current eco-evo-devo schools are evidencing. This work demonstrates how macroevolution and reticulate evolution theories add to the complexity by examining reticulate causal processes in space–time, and the interactional hierarchies that such studies bring forth introduce a new form of causation that is here called reticulate causation. Reticulate causation occurs between units and levels belonging to different as well as to the same ontological hierarchies. This article concludes that beyond recognizing the existence of multiple units, levels, and mechanisms or processes of evolution, also the existence of multiple kinds of evolutionary causation as well as the existence of multiple evolutionary hierarchies needs to be acknowledged. This furthermore implies that evolution is a pluralistic process divisible into different kinds. (shrink)
This special issue for the Journal for General Philosophy of Science is devoted to exploring the impact and many ramifications of current research in evolutionary epistemology. Evolutionary epistemology is an inter- and multidisciplinary area of research that can be divided into two ever-inclusive research avenues. One research avenue expands on the EEM program and investigates the epistemology of evolution. The other research avenue builds on the EET program and researches the evolution of epistemology. Since its conception, EE has developed three (...) schools of thought: adaptationist, non-adaptationist, and applied EE. Although diverse in outlook and theoretical background, these research avenues and schools share the same agenda of understanding how knowledge evolves, and how it relates to the world. In this paper, we first explain wherefrom evolutionary epistemological schools of thought developed, and then we highlight current debates in EE by briefly reviewing the papers that form part of this special issue. (shrink)
Both biosemiotics and evolutionary epistemology are concerned with how knowledge evolves. (Applied) Evolutionary Epistemology thereby focuses on identifying the units, levels, and mechanisms or processes that underlie the evolutionary development of knowing and knowledge, while biosemiotics places emphasis on the study of how signs underlie the development of meaning. We compare the two schools of thought and analyze how in delineating their research program, biosemiotics runs into several problems that are overcome by evolutionary epistemologists. For one, by emphasizing signs, biosemiotics (...) needs to delineate a semiotic threshold, which is a problem not encountered by evolutionary epistemologists. Instead, the latter recognizes that all organisms are knowers that evolve knowledge, which they recognize to extend toward phenomena produced by organisms such as behavior, cognition, language, culture, science, and technology. Secondly, biosemiotics attempts at continuing adaptationist notions on how organisms relate to their environment, while especially Applied Evolutionary Epistemology comes to redefine the nature of the organism–environment relationship in such a way that it recognizes the spatiotemporal boundedness of existence, which in turn makes adaptationist accounts obsolete. (shrink)
Disagreement and debunking arguments threaten religious belief. In this paper, I draw attention to two types of propositions and show how they reveal new ways to respond to debunking arguments and disagreement. The first type of proposition is the epistemically self-promoting proposition, which, when justifiedly believed, gives one a reason to think that one reliably believes it. Such a proposition plays a key role in my argument that some religious believers can permissibly wield an epistemically circular argument in response to (...) certain debunking arguments. The second type of proposition is the epistemically others-demoting proposition, which, when justifiedly believed, gives one a reason to think that others are unreliable with respect to it. Such a proposition plays a key role in my argument that some religious believers can permissibly wield a question-begging argument to respond to certain types of disagreement. (shrink)
This paper proposes a biosemiotic conception of theories, as non-intentional organic theories, which is based on an analysis and comparison of philosopher Norwood Russell Hanson’s account of theories and zoologist Jakob von Uexküll’s theory of organisms. It is argued that Hanson’s proposals about scientific theories and their relation to observation are semiotic in nature and that there exists a correspondence between Hanson’s depiction of the relationship between theories, observation, and reality and von Uexküll’s views on the relationship between organisms and (...) their environments. This correspondence supports an account of theories that depicts them as organic extensions of our perceptual physiology. Among the epistemological consequences of this account are the following: The kind of correspondence that is established through theories between a subject and reality is related rather to a subject’s actions than to a faithful representation of every aspect of the world, it suggests a strong emphasis on the creative aspects of knowledge acquisition, and it urges a reassessment of the evolutionary epistemology of theories. (shrink)
The article proposes to further develop the ideas of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis by including into evolutionary research an analysis of phenomena that occur above the organismal level. We demonstrate that the current Extended Synthesis is focused more on individual traits (genetically or non-genetically inherited) and less on community system traits (synergetic/organizational traits) that characterize transgenerational biological, ecological, social, and cultural systems. In this regard, we will consider various communities that are made up of interacting populations, and for which the (...) individual members can belong to the same or to different species. Examples of communities include biofilms, ant colonies, symbiotic associations resulting in holobiont formation, and human societies. The proposed model of evolution at the level of communities revises classic theorizing on the major transitions in evolution by analyzing the interplay between community/social traits and individual traits, and how this brings forth ideas of top-down regulations of bottom-up evolutionary processes (collaboration of downward and upward causation). The work demonstrates that such interplay also includes reticulate interactions and reticulate causation. In this regard, we exemplify how community systems provide various non-genetic ‘scaffoldings’, ‘constraints’, and ‘affordances’ for individual and sociocultural evolutionary development. Such research complements prevailing models that focus on the vertical transmission of heritable information, from parent to offspring, with research that instead focusses on horizontal, oblique and even reverse information transmission, going from offspring to parent. We call this reversed information transfer the ‘offspring effect’ to contrast it from the ‘parental effect’. We argue that the proposed approach to inheritance is effective for modelling cumulative and distributed developmental process and for explaining the biological origins and evolution of language. (shrink)
In his earliest philosophical work, Moritz Schlick developed a proposal for rendering aesthetics into a field of empirical science. His 1908 book Lebensweisheit developed an evolutionary account of the emergence of both scientific knowledge and aesthetic feelings from play. This constitutes the framework of Schlick’s evolutionary psychological methodology for examining the origins of the aesthetic feeling of the beautiful he proposed in 1909. He defends his methodology by objecting to both experimental psychological and Darwinian reductionist accounts of aesthetics. Having countered (...) these approaches, Schlick applies Külpe’s psychological distinction between stimulus-feelings and idea-feelings to collapse the traditional philosophical opposition between the agreeable and the beautiful. Both types of feeling, Schlick argues, result from humans’ adaptation to their environment. Because of this adaptation, feelings that were once only stimuli for action can come to be enjoyed for their own sake. This thesis underlies Schlick’s 1908 argument that art, qua mimesis, is necessarily inferior to aesthetic feelings directed towards the environment. Part of Schlick’s justification for this view is that humans are, through a long evolutionary process, better adapted to their environment than to artworks. Schlick nevertheless concedes that mimetic art can involve ways of abstracting from the objects it copies to produce idealised regularities that are not found in the original. Schlick thus concludes that art teaches its audience how to perceive the world in this abstract and idealised manner. This type of environmental aesthetics constitutes a means for reaching Schlick’s utopian ecological vision of a future in which culture will become harmonised with nature. (shrink)
We are concerned here with how structural properties of language may come to reflect features of the world in which it evolves. As a concrete example, we will consider how a simple term language might evolve to support the principle of indifference over state descriptions in that language. The point is not that one is justified in applying the principle of indifference to state descriptions in natural language. Instead, it is that one should expect a language that has evolved in (...) the context of facilitating successful action to reflect probabilistic features of the world in which it evolved. (shrink)
In this chapter I zoom in on a topic in climate ethics that has not previously received academic scrutiny: the intersection between evolutionary ethics and climate change. I argue that in the context of climate discourse, an evolutionary perspective can be illuminating, but may also invite moral corruption and reasoning fallacies. Relating my discussion to the general theme of the book, I argue that academic philosophy is well-positioned to fulfil a specific societal role, which is particularly important in the age (...) of popular science: to raise awareness of the ethical predicaments to which scientific findings can give rise, and to highlight the normative assumptions implicit in the reasoning of science communicators. (shrink)
Abstract -/- The objective of this article is to understand, in the Phenomenology of the spirit, how the dialectical movement that occurs in consciousness takes place as soon as it is recognized as self-consciousness. For this, it is of vital importance to re-visit the first whole movement that makes consciousness, in Phenomenology, in order to understand how it is capable of recognizing itself as a self-consciousness. -/- .
La teleosemántica es una teoría teleológica de las representaciones mentales, propugnada por David Papineau, que tiene como propósito ofrecer una explicación naturalista y evolucionista de dichas representaciones, en particular de las creencias. Mi objetivo será analizar las creencias y su relación con la verdad en la obra de Papineau. Según Papineau, los contenidos y las representaciones mentales, específicamente las creencias, cumplen funciones derivadas de la evolución biológica de la especie, y correlativamente, la finalidad de las creencias y los contenidos proviene (...) de las funciones biológicas que cada una de ellas tiene. De acuerdo a Papineau, para que las creencias cumplan sus funciones biológicas deben ser verdaderas, es decir, corresponder con la realidad. Defenderé la idea de que, a diferencia de lo que plantea la teleosemántica, la verdad y la falsedad, o más específicamente, los enunciados verdaderos y falsos son doxásticos, es decir, son enunciados que expresan creencias. Las creencias no tienen que ser verdaderas, sino más bien útiles, de manera que el que sean verdaderas o no es un producto secundario de la creencia. (shrink)
In this work, we will try to state the opposition between two approaches to the problem of the overall reliability of human knowing capacities, and a possible solution to that conflict. On the one hand, as we will point out, there exist a number of approaches that fall under the broad term of “evolutionary reliabilism” and according to which the reasons that we have for believing in the reliability of human cognition are empirical in character. Namely, the adaptive success of (...) our species in a biological environment characterised by the survival of the fittest provides us with a reason to believe that our belief-forming mechanisms are truth-tracking; if they were not, we would have gone extinct. On the other hand, nevertheless, we find analyses—of which we will focus on the case of Ernest Sosa—according to which the tenet that our knowing capacities are reliable cannot be empirically based, and thus contingent; on the contrary, they point out that we need to presuppose—without need of a proof—that such capacities are trustworthy. Given this conflict between an “empirical” defence and a defence “in principle” of our knowing capacities, we will consider two possible objections against Sosa’s proposal and try to answer them. (shrink)
The development of synthetic biology calls for accurate understanding of the critical functions that allow construction and operation of a living cell. Besides coding for ubiquitous structures, minimal genomes encode a wealth of functions that dissipate energy in an unanticipated way. Analysis of these functions shows that they are meant to manage information under conditions when discrimination of substrates in a noisy background is preferred over a simple recognition process. We show here that many of these functions, including transporters and (...) the ribosome construction machinery, behave as would behave a material implementation of the informationmanaging agent theorized by Maxwell almost 150 years ago and commonly known as Maxwell’s demon (MxD). A core gene set encoding these functions belongs to the minimal genome required to allow the construction of an autonomous cell. These MxDs allow the cell to perform computations in an energy-efficient way that is vastly better than our contemporary computers. (shrink)
Revisionary ontologies seem to go against our common sense convictions about which material objects exist. These views face the so-called Problem of Reasonableness: they have to explain why reasonable people don’t seem to accept the true ontology. Most approaches to this problem treat the mismatch between the ontological truth and ordinary belief as superficial or not even real. By contrast, I propose what I call the “uncompromising solution”. First, I argue that our beliefs about material objects were influenced by evolutionary (...) forces that were independent of the ontological truth. Second, I draw an analogy between the Problem of Reasonableness and the New Evil Demon Problem and argue that the revisionary ontologist can always find a positive epistemic status to characterize ordinary people’s beliefs about material objects. Finally, I address the worry that the evolutionary component of my story also threatens to undermine the best arguments for revisionary ontologies. (shrink)
Evolution Science and Ethics in the Third Millennium is one of the most lucid academic texts on the subject of evolutionary morality to be published in the last decade. While the book does have some problematic aspects, discussed below, it nonetheless provides what is none other than a comprehensive and rational basis to substantiate the notion that evolutionary science can provide a foundation for the understanding of morality. Cliquet and Avramov take a wholly interdisciplinary approach, encroaching within and forming connections (...) between philosophy, biology, anthropology and sociology among others in their exploration of a rationalized and humanistic approach to moral universalism. They not only take a meta-ethical approach to the investigation of morality in evolutionary science, but they provide a thorough speculative project on potential beneficial future pathways that thinkers and policymakers can employ in making decisions; which is something that is typically sidelined in a topic text such as this. (shrink)
The debate about scientific realism is concerned with the relation between our scientific theories and the world. Scientific realists argue that our best theories or components of those theories correspond to the world. Anti-realists deny such a correspondence. Traditionally, this central issue in the philosophy of science has been approached by focusing on the theories themselves (e.g., by looking at theory change or the underlying experimental context). I propose a relatively unexplored way to approach this old debate. In addition to (...) focusing on the theory, we should focus on the theorizer. More precisely, in order to determine on which component of a theory we should hinge a realist commitment, we should analyze the cognitive processes underlying scientific theorizing. In this paper I do just that. Drawing from recent developments in the cognitive sciences and evolutionary epistemology, I formulate some tentative conclusions. The aim of this paper is not so much to defend a particular position in the debate on scientific realism but to showcase the value of taking a cognitive perspective in the debate. (shrink)
How we feel is as vital to our survival as how we think. This claim, based on the premise that emotions are largely adaptive, serves as the organizing theme of Why We Need Religion. This book is a novel pathway in a well-trodden field of religious studies and philosophy of religion. Stephen Asma argues that, like art, religion has direct access to our emotional lives in ways that science does not. Yes, science can give us emotional feelings of wonder and (...) the sublime--we can feel the sacred depths of nature--but there are many forms of human suffering and vulnerability that are beyond the reach of help from science. Different emotional stresses require different kinds of rescue. Unlike secular authors who praise religion's ethical and civilizing function, Asma argues that its core value lies in its emotionally therapeutic power. No theorist of religion has failed to notice the importance of emotions in spiritual and ritual life, but truly systematic research has only recently delivered concrete data on the neurology, psychology, and anthropology of the emotional systems. This very recent "affective turn" has begun to map out a powerful territory of embodied cognition. Why We Need Religion incorporates new data from these affective sciences into the philosophy of religion. It goes on to describe the way in which religion manages those systems--rage, play, lust, care, grief, and so on. Finally, it argues that religion is still the best cultural apparatus for doing this adaptive work. In short, the book is a Darwinian defense of religious emotions and the cultural systems that manage them. (shrink)
The theory of evolution of complex, including the humans system and algorithm for its constructing are a synthesis of evolutionary epistemology, philosophical anthropology and concrete scientific empirical basis in modern science,. In other words, natural philosophy is regaining the status bar element theoretical science in the era of technology-driven evolution. The co-evolutionary concept of 3-modal stable evolutionary strategy of Homo sapiens is developed. The concept based on the principle of evolutionary complementarity of anthropogenesis: value of evolutionary risk and evolutionary path (...) of human evolution are defined by descriptive (evolutionary efficiency) and creative-teleological (evolutionary correctly) parameters simultaneously, that cannot be instrumental reduced to others ones. Resulting volume of both parameters define the vectors of biological, social, cultural and techno-rationalistic human evolution by two gear mechanism ˗ genetic and cultural co-evolution and techno-humanitarian balance. The resultant each of them can estimated by the ratio of socio-psychological predispositions of humanization/dehumanization in mentality. Explanatory model and methodology of evaluation of creatively teleological evolutionary risk component of NBIC technological complex is proposed. Integral part of the model is evolutionary semantics (time-varying semantic code, the compliance of the biological, socio-cultural and techno-rationalist adaptive modules of human stable evolutionary strategy). (shrink)
Evolutionary reliabilism is the view that natural selection likely favoured reliable cognitive faculties in humans. While ER enjoys some plausibility, Stephen Stich and Alvin Plantinga have presented well-known challenges to the view. Their arguments rely on a common premiss; namely, that natural selection is indifferent to truth. This article shows that this premiss is both imprecise and too weak to support their conclusions and, therefore, that their challenges to ER fail.
This chapter critically analyzes evolutionary epistemology as a theoretical framework for the study of science as a historical and cultural phenomenon. As spelled out by Campbell in the 1970s, evolutionary epistemology has an ambitious goal: it aims at understanding the complex relations between bio- logical evolution, especially the biological evolution of human cognition, and the cultural evolution of scientific knowledge. It eventually aims at forming an integrated causal theory of the evolution of science, starting with the evo- lution of human (...) cognition. In this chapter, the author considers Campbell’s project and specifies why it is still today a worthwhile project for explain- ing the evolution of science as a specific case of cultural evolution. But he also criticizes Campbell’s evolutionary epistemology for assuming that blind variation and selective retention are the processes through which science evolves. This assumption, the author argues, is at odds with much of what we know about scientific cognition and the history of science. He advocates (1) dropping the methodological constraint of looking for processes of blind variation and selective retention at the expense of other constructive processes and mechanisms of knowledge production; but (2) retaining the integrative point of evolutionary epistemology, which implies taking seriously the results of evolutionary psychology; and (3) retaining the populational framework for explaining the history of science, which means questioning why some scientific beliefs and practices eventually spread and stabilize in a scientific community. We end up with an updated research program for evolutionary epistemology, which faces new challenges. (shrink)
Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer have recently provided an evolutionary argument for utilitarianism. They argue that most of our deontological beliefs were shaped by evolution, from which they conclude that these beliefs are unjustified. By contrast, they maintain that the utilitarian belief that everyone’s well-being matters equally is immune to such debunking arguments because it wasn’t similarly influenced. However, Guy Kahane remarks that this belief lacks substantial content unless it is paired with an account of well-being, and he adds (...) that utilitarian beliefs about wellbeing—e.g. the belief that pleasure is good and pain is bad—were probably shaped by evolution. Logically, de Lazari-Radek and Singer should therefore reject these beliefs along with the deontological beliefs that evolved. The present paper is a defense of their argument. After considering a number of unsuccessful replies to Kahane’s objection, I put forward a more promising solution: de Lazari-Radek and Singer should combine their objectivist view in metaethics with a subjectivist account of well-being, such as the desire theory. Such a hybrid account would tackle Kahane’s challenge because subjective accounts of value are immune from evolutionary debunking arguments. And it would be compatible with utilitarianism, which doesn’t fit very well with metaethical subjectivism. Before concluding, I deal with two concerns that this solution might raise: I argue that the desire theory is actually subjective enough to escape Kahane’s objection, and I deny that retreating to the combination of ethical objectivism and prudential subjectivism is ad hoc. (shrink)
Beliefs have genealogies. Can tracing a belief’s genealogy illuminate the epistemic quality of the belief? This paper sets out a general epistemology of genealogies. As it turns out, genealogies for beliefs come in two sorts: those that trace a belief to some mental event that doubles as evidence for the belief and those that do not. The former have the potential to undercut the belief, rebut the belief, or—importantly—both. The latter have the potential to reinforce the belief or rebut the (...) belief but—importantly—not undercut it. The ultimate conclusion is that there is a role for genealogies in the epistemic appraisal of our beliefs, but this role will be circumscribed by the availability of clear and compelling genealogies. (shrink)
Imagination, like other higher cognition, is often thought to arise after the evolution of language. Stephen Asma argues instead that imagination is much older and forms a kind of early cognition --harvesting sensory, motor and affective impressions, and generating novel generate-and-test information.
Guided by neuroscience, animal behavior, evolution, philosophy, and psychology, Asma burrows deep into the human psyche to look right at the enigmatic but powerful engine that is our improvisational creativity—the source, he argues, of our remarkable imaginational capacity. How is it, he asks, that a story can evoke a whole world inside of us? How are we able to rehearse a skill, a speech, or even an entire scenario simply by thinking about it? How does creativity go beyond experience and (...) help us make something completely new? And how does our moral imagination help us sculpt a better society? As he shows, we live in a world that is only partly happening in reality. Huge swaths of our cognitive experiences are made up by “what-ifs,” “almosts,” and “maybes,” an imagined terrain that churns out one of the most overlooked but necessary resources for our flourishing: possibilities. Considering everything from how imagination works in our physical bodies to the ways we make images, from the mechanics of language and our ability to tell stories to the creative composition of self-consciousness, Asma expands our personal and day-to-day forms of imagination into a grand scale: as one of the decisive evolutionary forces that has guided human development from the Paleolithic era to today. The result is an inspiring look at the rich relationships among improvisation, imagination, and culture, and a privileged glimpse into the unique nature of our evolved minds. (shrink)
I argue that recent attempts to deflect Access Problems for realism about a priori domains such as mathematics, logic, morality, and modality using arguments from evolution result in two kinds of explanatory overkill: the Access Problem is eliminated for contentious domains, and realist belief becomes viciously immune to arguments from dispensability, and to non-rebutting counter-arguments more generally.
The chapter defends an evolutionary explanation of modal knowledge from knowledge of counterfactual conditionals. Knowledge of counterfactuals is evolutionarily useful, as it enables us to learn from mistakes. Given the standard semantics for counterfactuals, there are several equivalences between modal claims and claims involving counterfactuals that can be used to explain modal knowledge. Timothy Williamson has suggested an explanation of modal knowledge that draws on the equivalence of ‘Necessarily p’ with ‘If p were false, a contradiction would be the case’. (...) He postulates a cognitive process that draws on this equivalence and that is supposed to underlie our modal judgements. The existence of this cognitive process would, however, have consequences that conflict with results from empirical psychology. The chapter argues that the equivalence of ‘Necessarily p’ with ‘For all q, if q were true then p would be true’ should instead be used to explain knowledge of necessity. This explanation requires giving an account of how we know truths of the form ‘For all q, if q were true then p would be true’. In order to provide such an account, the chapter draws on a different suggestion by Williamson about knowledge of generalizations. According to this suggestion, we come to know truths of the form ‘All Fs are G’ by imagining a generic F and judging that it is G. Applied to our case, the suggestion would be that we come to know that p is counterfactually implied by all propositions (and hence that p is necessary) by entertaining a generic proposition and judging that it counterfactually implies p. It would even suffice to entertain a generic possible proposition and judge that it counterfactually implies p, for it can be shown that the claim ‘For all possible q, if q were true then p would be true’ is equivalent to the original claim ‘For all q, if q were true then p would be true’ and hence is equivalent to ‘Necessarily p’. It might seem that, from an evolutionary perspective, probabilistic reasoning is just as useful as reasoning involving counterfactuals. The chapter argues, however, that this would not undermine the envisaged explanation of modal knowledge. The chapter concludes by suggesting avenues of empirical research that might shed light on the cognitive processes that actually underlie our evaluations of modal claims and on the relation between these processes and those involved in counterfactual reasoning. The results of such empirical research would be highly relevant epistemologically, since they will ultimately determine which (if any) equivalence between modal claims and claims involving counterfactuals should be used to explain our modal knowledge. (shrink)
This paper explores evolutionary debunking arguments as they arise in metaethics against moral realism and in philosophy of religion against naturalism. Both literatures have independently grappled with the question of which beliefs one may use to respond to a potential defeater. In this paper, I show how the literature on the argument against naturalism can help clarify and bring progress to the literature on moral realism with respect to this question. Of note, it will become clear that the objection that (...) the moral realist begs the question, when appealing to the truth of some of her moral beliefs, is unsuccessful. (shrink)
Does science move toward truths? Are present scientific theories (approximately) true? Should we invoke truths to explain the success of science? Do our cognitive faculties track truths? Some philosophers say yes, while others say no, to these questions. Interestingly, both groups use the same scientific theory, viz., evolutionary theory, to defend their positions. I argue that it begs the question for the former group to do so because their positive answers imply that evolutionary theory is warranted, whereas it is self-defeating (...) for the latter group to do so because their negative answers imply that evolutionary theory is unwarranted. (shrink)
``People say again and again that philosophy doesn´t really progress, that we are still occupied with the same philosophical problems as were the Greeks. But the people who say this don´t understand why is has to be so. It is because our language has remained the same and keeps seducing us into asking the same questions. As long as there continues to be a verb´to be´that looks as if it functions in the same way as´to eatánd´to drink´, as long as (...) we still have the adjectives´identical´,´true´,´false´,´possible´, as long as we continue to talk of a river of time, of an expanse of space, etc., etc., people will keep stumbling over the same puzzling difficulties and find themselves staring at something which no explanation seems capable of clearing up. And what´s more, this satisfies a longing for the transcendent, because, insofar as people think they can seèthe limits of human understanding´, they believe of course that they can see beyond these.`` ´ This quote is from Ludwig Wittgenstein who redefined philosophy some 70 years ago (but most people have yet to find this out). Dennett, though he has been a philosopher for some 40 years, is one them. It is also curious that both he and his prime antagonist, John Searle, studied under famous Wittgensteinians (Searle with John Austin, Dennett with Gilbert Ryle) but Searle got the point and Dennett did not. Dennett is a hard determinist (though he trys to sneak reality in the back door), and perhaps this is due to Ryle, whose famous book´The Concept of Mind´(1949) continues to be reprinted. That book did a great job of exorcising the ghost but it left the machine. Dennett enjoys making the mistakes Wittgenstein, Ryle (and many others since) have exposed in detail. Our use of the words consciousness, choice, freedom, intention, particle, thinking, determines, wave, cause, happened, event(and so on endlessly) are rarely a source of confusion but as soon as we leave normal life and enter philosophy(and any discussion detached from the environment in which language evolved) chaos reigns. Like most Dennet lacks a coherent framework-which Searle has called the logical structure of rationality. I have expanded on this considerably since I wrote this review and my recent articles show in detail what is wrong with Dennet's approach to philosophy. Let me end with another quote from Wittgenstein--´Ambition is the death of thought´. -/- Those wishing a comprehensive up to date account of Wittgenstein, Searle and their analysis of behavior from the modern two systems view may consult my article The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language as Revealed in Wittgenstein and Searle (2016). Those interested in all my writings in their most recent versions may download from this site my e-book ‘Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization Michael Starks (2016)- Articles and Reviews 2006-2016’ by Michael Starks First Ed. 662p (2016). -/- All of my papers and books have now been published in revised versions both in ebooks and in printed books. -/- Talking Monkeys: Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet - Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 (2017) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071HVC7YP. -/- The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle--Articles and Reviews 2006-2016 (2017) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071P1RP1B. -/- Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st century: Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization - Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 (2017) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0711R5LGX . (shrink)
This book is the result of Searle's stay in the Munster University Philosophy Dept in 2009 and all the papers except his introductory one and his final response are from persons associated with Munster. However all the papers were written or revised later and so are one of the most up to date looks at his views available as of mid 2013. S has in my view made more fundamental contributions to higher order descriptive psychology (philosophy) than anyone since Wittgenstein (...) and has been writing world class material for over 50 years. He is also (like W before him) regarded as the best standup philosopher alive and has taught and lectured worldwide. He is also one of the clearest and most careful writers in the field so one would think that every philosopher writing an article on his work would have an up to date and accurate understanding of his ideas. Unfortunately this book shows that this is far from true. All the 11 articles make major mistakes regarding his views and regarding what he (and I) would regard as an accurate description of behavior. -/- Searle's obliviousness (which he shares with most philosophers) to the modern two systems framework and to the full implications of W’s “radical” epistemology as stated most dramatically in his last work ‘On Certainty’, is most unfortunate (as I have noted in many reviews). It was Wittgenstein who did the first and best job of describing the two systems (though nobody else has noticed) and OC represents a major event in intellectual history. Not only is Searle unaware of the fact that his framework is a straightforward continuation of W, but everyone else is too, which accounts for the lack of any significant reference to W in this book. As usual one also notes no apparent acquaintance with Evolutionary Psychology, which can enlighten all discussions of behavior by providing the real ultimate evolutionary and biological explanations rather than the superficial proximate cultural ones. -/- However, his comment on p212 is right on the money—the ultimate explanation (or as W insists the description) can only be a naturalized one which describes how mind, will, self, intention work and cannot meaningfully eliminate them as ‘real’ phenomena. Recall Searle’s famous review of Dennett’s ‘Conscious Explained’ entitled “Consciousness explained away”. And this makes it all the more bizarre that Searle should repeatedly state that we don’t know for sure if we have free will and that we have to ‘postulate’ a self (p218-219). As he notes “The neuro-biological processes and the mental phenomena are the same event, described at different levels” and “How can conscious intentions cause bodily movement?…How can the hammer move the nail in virtue of being solid? …If you analyze what solidity is causally…if you analyze what intention-in-action is causally, you see analogously there is no philosophical problem left over.” -/- Also I would state “The heart of my argument is that our linguistic practices, as commonly understood, presuppose a reality that exists independently of our representations.” (p223) as “Our life shows a world that does not depend on our existence and cannot be intelligibly challenged.” This book is valuable principally as a recent synopsis of the work of one the greatest philosophers of recent times. But there is also value in analyzing his responses to the many basic confusions manifested in the articles by others. Since this review I have written many articles extending the framework of the logical structure of rationality and commenting in depth on Searle and Wittgenstein which are all readily available on the net. -/- Those wishing a comprehensive up to date account of Wittgenstein, Searle and their analysis of behavior from the modern two systems view may consult my article The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language as Revealed in Wittgenstein and Searle (2016). Those interested in all my writings in their most recent versions may download from this site my e-book ‘Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization Michael Starks (2016)- Articles and Reviews 2006-2016’ by Michael Starks First Ed. 662p (2016). -/- All of my papers and books have now been published in revised versions both in ebooks and in printed books. -/- Talking Monkeys: Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet - Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 (2017) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071HVC7YP. -/- The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle--Articles and Reviews 2006-2016 (2017) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071P1RP1B. -/- Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st century: Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization - Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 (2017) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0711R5LGX . (shrink)