Conditionals are central to inference. Before people can draw inferences about a natural language conditional, they must interpret its meaning. We investigated interpretation of uncertain conditionals using a probabilistic truth table task, focussing on (i) conditional event, (ii) material conditional, and (iii) conjunction interpretations. The order of object (shape) and feature (color) in each conditional's antecedent and consequent was varied between participants. The conditional event was the dominant interpretation, followed by conjunction, and took longer to process than conjunction (mean di (...) erence 500 ms). Material conditional responses were rare. The proportion of conditional event responses increased from around 40% at the beginning of the task to nearly 80% at the end, with 55% of participants showing a qualitative shift of interpretation. Shifts to the conditional event occurred later in the feature-object order than in the object-feature order. We discuss the results in terms of insight and suggest implications for theories of interpretation. (shrink)
(2013). Statistical models as cognitive models of individual differences in reasoning. Argument & Computation: Vol. 4, Formal Models of Reasoning in Cognitive Psychology, pp. 89-102. doi: 10.1080/19462166.2012.674061.
ABSTRACTTo build a process model of the understanding of conditionals we extract a common core of three semantics of if-then sentences: the conditional event interpretation in the coherencebased probability logic, the discourse processingtheory of Hans Kamp, and the game-theoretical approach of Jaakko Hintikka. The empirical part reports three experiments in which each participant assessed the probability of 52 if-then sentencesin a truth table task. Each experiment included a second task: An n-back task relating the interpretation of conditionals to working memory, (...) a Bayesian bookbag and poker chip task relating the interpretation of conditionals to probability updating, and a probabilistic modus ponens task relating the interpretation of conditionals to a classical inference task. Data analysis shows that the way in which the conditionals are interpreted correlates with each of the supplementary tasks. The results are discussed within the process model proposed in the introduction. (shrink)
It is neither desirable nor possible to eliminate normative concerns from the psychology of reasoning. Norms define the most fundamental psychological questions: What are people trying to do, and how? Even if no one system of reasoning can be the norm, pure descriptivism is as undesirable and unobtainable in the psychology of reasoning as elsewhere in science.
We investigated how people interpret conditionals and how stable their interpretation is over a long series of trials. Participants were shown the colored patterns on each side of a six-sided die, and were asked how sure they were that a conditional holds of the side landing upwards when the die is randomly thrown. Participants were presented with 71 trials consisting of all combinations of binary dimensions of shape (e.g., circles and squares) and color (e.g., blue and red) painted onto the (...) sides of each die. In two experiments (N1 = 66, N2 = 65), the conditional event was the dominant interpretation, followed by conjunction, and material conditional responses were negligible. In both experiments, the percentage of participants giving a conditional event response increased from around 40% at the beginning of the task to nearly 80% at the end, with most participants shifting from a conjunction interpretation. The shift was moderated by the order of shape and color in each conditional’s antecedent and consequent: participants were more likely to shift if the antecedent referred to a color. In Experiment 2 we collected response times: conditional event interpretations took longer to process than conjunction interpretations (mean diﬀerence 500 ms). We discuss implications of our results for mental models theory and probabilistic theories of reasoning. (shrink)
In his paper, ‘A critique of religious fictionalism’, Benjamin Cordry raises a series of objections to a fictionalist form of religious non-realism that I proposed in my earlier paper, ‘Can an atheist believe in God?’. They fall into two main categories: those alleging that an atheist would be unjustified in adopting fictionalism, and those alleging that fictionalism could not be successfully implemented, or practised communally. I argue that these objections can be met.
In this essay I describe how contractarianism might approach interspecies welfare conflicts. I start by discussing a contractarian account of the moral status of nonhuman animals. I argue that contractors can agree to norms that would acknowledge the “moral standing” of some animals. I then discuss how the norms emerging from contractarian agreement might constrain any comparison of welfare between humans and animals. Contractarian agreement is likely to express some partiality to humans in a way that discounts the welfare of (...) some or all animals. While the norms emerging from the contract might be silent or inconsistent in some tragic or catastrophic cases, in most ordinary conflicts of welfare, contractors will agree to norms that produce some determinate resolution. What the agreement says can evolve depending upon how the contractors or the circumstances change. I close with some remarks on contractarian indeterminacy. (shrink)
According to probabilistic theories of reasoning in psychology, people's degree of belief in an indicative conditional `if A, then B' is given by the conditional probability, P(B|A). The role of language pragmatics is relatively unexplored in the new probabilistic paradigm. We investigated how consequent relevance a ects participants' degrees of belief in conditionals about a randomly chosen card. The set of events referred to by the consequent was either a strict superset or a strict subset of the set of events (...) referred to by the antecedent. We manipulated whether the superset was expressed using a disjunction or a hypernym. We also manipulated the source of the dependency, whether in long-term memory or in the stimulus. For subset-consequent conditionals, patterns of responses were mostly conditional probability followed by conjunction. For superset-consequent conditionals, conditional probability responses were most common for hypernym dependencies and least common for disjunction dependencies, which were replaced with responses indicating inferred consequent irrelevance. Conditional probability responses were also more common for knowledge-based than stimulus-based dependencies. We suggest. (shrink)
This paper suffers from a disconcerting generality. I need an excuse for wandering from Wittgenstein's Tractatus to Picasso's drawing of a Weeping Woman, via the philosophy of science and the theory of sense data. The thesis of the paper is that I have such an excuse. These are all areas where the concept of representation either exists in its own right, or has been found to be illuminating by philosophers. An important question is whether it could be the same concept (...) in all these cases. I wish to claim that there is an illuminating common concept, even though to find it may require some fairly drastic modifications of some of the philosophical theses that are involved. (shrink)
By what steps, historically, did morality emerge? Our remote ancestors evolved into social animals. Sociality requires, among other things, restraints on disruptive sexual, hostile, aggressive, vengeful, and acquisitive behavior. Since we are innately social and not social by convention, we can assume the biological evolution of the emotional equipment – numerous predispositions to want, fear, feel anxious or secure – required for social living, just as we can assume cultural evolution of various means to control antisocial behavior and reinforce the (...) prosocial kind. Small clans consisting, say, of several extended families whose members cooperated in hunting, gathering, defense, and child-rearing could not exist without a combination of innate and social restraints on individual behavior. I shall argue for a naturalistic theory of morality, by which I do not mean the definitional claims G.E. Moore sought to refute, but a broader and more complex theory that maintains that a sufficient understanding of human nature, history, and culture can fully explain morality; that nothing is left hanging. A theory that coherently brings together the needed biological, psychological, and cultural facts I shall call a philosophical anthropology; it is a theory that: 1) takes the good for humans – both an ultimate good and other important goods – to depend on human nature; 2) argues that a rudimentary but improving scientific and philosophical theory of human nature now exists, and thus denies that people are “essenceless”; 3) takes this theory to be evolutionary and historical, making the question “How did morality originate?” pivotal for ethical theory, but leaves open the empirical question of the relative importance of biological and cultural evolution; and 4) takes the origin of the moral ideas to be explainable in terms of human nature and history. (shrink)
This important collection of essays by Andrew Feenberg presents his critical theory of technology, an innovative approach to philosophy and sociology of technology based on a synthesis of ideas drawn from STS and Frankfurt School Critical Theory. The volume includes chapters on citizenship, modernity, and Heidegger and Marcuse.
Ushenko's speculative vision opened on the problem of time and its relation to logic. Profoundly concerned about the theme of time--the theme that intrinsically defines romantic irrationalism--he yet endeavored to vindicate within the bounds of temporality the sovereignty of logic so essential to the continuance of classical philosophy. The dual preoccupation with time and logic urged him into the fields of symbolic logic and relativity physics. From the flux of unrepeatable events he disengaged the laws of logic and the propositions (...) of scientific discourse, while at the same time he sought to keep both orders of entity united without injury to either. He ventured into nature as disclosed by contemporary physics and selected the category of event to supplant substance. He undertook to expound a metaphysics of events, grappled with the problem of the unity not only of nature but of the singular events that make up nature, and fixed upon the overarching structure of the space-time of relativity physics to resolve the problem. But this did not suffice. The metaphysical vision at work in these early books glimpsed at moments a principle beyond time, beyond propositions, beyond events--the principle of power. Power and Events: An Essay on Dynamics in Philosophy focused on the principle of power, integrating the other themes in terms of it. As the mature work of a significant and original thinker, Power and Events posed the principle of power as the central idea for the future course of philosophical investigation. In pursuit of its implications Ushenko embarked upon the philosophy of art in his last book Dynamics of Art and in a consistent yet startling fashion advanced the thesis that the substance of art is in effect a dynamic equilibrium of powers. (shrink)
Andrew Collier is the boldest defender of objectivity - in science, knowledge, thought, action, politics, morality and religion. In this tribute and acknowledgement of the influence his work has had on a wide readership, his colleagues show that they have been stimulated by his thinking and offer challenging responses. This wide-ranging book covers key areas with which defenders of objectivity often have to engage. Sections are devoted to the following: 'objectivity of value', 'objectivity and everyday knowledge', 'objectivity in political (...) economy', 'objectivity and reflexivity', 'objectivity, postmodernism and feminism', 'objectivity and nature'. The diverse contributions range from social and political thought to philosophy, reflecting the central themes of Collier's work. (shrink)
Ushenko presented his philosophy of logic in vehement opposition to "the postulationist theory." In the endeavor to amputate logic from philosophy and absorb it within mathematics, the postulationists viewed logic as an isolated object-logic to be discussed in meta-logic and construed its symbolic formulas as a game played according to arbitrarily established rules. The objections Ushenko raised are no longer novel, but twenty years ago the entire controversy was new. Above all, he stressed the numerous difficulties entangling the meta-logic. He (...) scored the menace of an infinite regress of meta-logics, and insisted that the consequences of Gödel's work necessarily frustrate the initial great expectations of the postulationists. No purely formal system can be internally proved to be self-consistent and certainly no formal language can ever become as comprehensive as English, though the price of such comprehensiveness is the inevitable occurrence of contradictory sentences. Moreover, he argued that, despite the postulationists' pretense that rules like the principle of non-contradiction were mere conventions for playing the game of logic, these rules proved ubiquitous by trespassing from the object-logic and intruding into the ultimate reaches of the meta-logic. (shrink)
In 1929 Ernst Cassirer and Martin Heidegger participated in a momentous debate in Davos, Switzerland, which is widely held to have marked an important division in twentieth-century European thought. Peter E. Gordon’s recent book, Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos, centers on this debate between these two philosophical adversaries. In his book Gordon examines the background of the debate, the issues that distinguished the respective positions of Cassirer and Heidegger, and the legacy of the debate for later decades. Throughout the work, (...) Gordon concisely portrays the source of disagreement between the two adversaries in terms of a difference between Cassirer’s philosophy of spontaneity and Heidegger’s philosophy of receptivity, or of “thrownness” , into a situation that finite human beings can never hope to master. Although it recognizes that this work provides an important contribution to our understanding of the Davos debate and to twentieth-century European thought, this review essay subjects Gordon’s manner of interpreting the distinction between Cassirer and Heidegger to critical scrutiny. Its purpose is to examine the possibility that important aspects of the debate, which do not conform to the grid imposed by Gordon’s interpretation, might have been set aside in the context of his analysis. (shrink)
I argue that Adam Smith does more than providing an account of competitive behavior loosely linked to an underlying psychology since the joint between the complex psychology of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and the invisible hand pages in The Wealth of Nations explains why some of the basest affections, greed and ambition, prevail over other tendencies in certain social groups, namely merchants and manufacturers, in a commercial and urban society.
_Utilitarianism_ is a classic work of ethical theory, arguably the most persuasive and comprehensible presentation of this widely inﬂuential position. Mill argues that it is pleasure and pain that ought to guide our decision-making&and not the pleasure and pain of any one person or group, but the summative experience of all who are affected by our actions. While he didn’t invent utilitarianism, Mill offered its clearest expression and strongest defense, and expanded the theory to account for the variety in quality (...) that we ﬁnd among speciﬁc pleasures and pains. Today, Mill’s version of the “Greatest Happiness Principle” is a standard premise in many moral arguments within the academy and in practical ethical and political deliberation. The complete text of the 1871 edition of _Utilitarianism_ is presented here, with footnote annotations added to clarify unfamiliar references and terminology for the student reader. A detailed introduction by the editor is divided into brief digestible parts discussing the context of the text and offering guidelines on how to read it accurately and critically. This edition has its origin in the acclaimed _Broadview Anthology of Social and Political Thought_ and adheres to the anthology’s format and high standard of accuracy and accessibility. (shrink)
Book Symposium on Andrew Feenberg’s Between Reason and Experience: Essays in Technology and Modernity Content Type Journal Article Pages 203-226 DOI 10.1007/s13347-011-0017-8 Authors Inmaculada de Melo-Martín, Division of Medical Ethics, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10065, USA David B. Ingram, Loyola University Chicago, 6525 North Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60626, USA Sally Wyatt, e-Humanities Group, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) & Maastricht University, Cruquiusweg 31, 1019 AT Amsterdam, The Netherlands Yoko Arisaka, Forschungsinstitut für Philosophie (...) Hannover, Gerberstrasse 26, 30169 Hannover, Germany Andrew Feenberg, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University at Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3, Canada Journal Philosophy & Technology Online ISSN 2210-5441 Print ISSN 2210-5433 Journal Volume Volume 24 Journal Issue Volume 24, Number 2. (shrink)
Responding to my claims in ‘Schleiermacher and Otto on religion’, A. D. Smith has argued that there is ‘nothing to distinguish’ Schleiermacher and Otto on the topics of the naturalistic explanation of religion and divine intervention in the natural order. There are respects in which Smith seems not to have understood my arguments, and his most significant challenge to my claims about Schleiermacher rests on a conflation of two different questions at issue in Schleiermacher's discussion of the incarnation. Further, Smith's (...) correct observation that I have misinterpreted Otto on an important matter is itself coupled with a similar misreading on his part. Smith's arguments prompt me to revise my view of Otto, but not to abandon the idea that he and Schleiermacher assumed different positions on the topics at issue. (shrink)
In his essay On the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany, of 1834, Heinrich Heine suggested to his French audience that the German propensity for ‘metaphysical abstractions’ had led many people to condemn philosophy for its failure to have a practical effect, Germany having only had its revolution in thought, while France had its in reality. Heine, albeit somewhat ironically, refuses to join those who condemn philosophy: ‘German philosophy is an important matter, which concerns the whole of humanity, and (...) only the last grandchildren will be able to judge whether we should be blamed or praised for working out our philosophy before our revolution.’ He then makes the following prognosis: the German revolution will not be more mild and more gentle because it was preceded by Kantian critique, Fichtean transcendental idealism and even philosophy of nature. Revolutionary forces have developed via these doctrines which are just waiting for the day when they can break out and fill the world with horror and admiration. … Don't smile at my advice, the advice of a dreamer who warns you about Kantians, Fichteans and philosophers of nature. Don't smile at the fantast who expects the same revolution in the realm of appearance as took place in the realm of spirit. … A play will be performed in Germany in comparison with which the French Revolution could appear just as a harmless idyll. (shrink)
The Constitution of the United States was constructed by men influenced by fundamental ideas of what a republic should be. These ideas hark back to the ancient philosophers and historians, and were further articulated and developed in modern times. From time to time scholars have sought to collect and reprint selections from the classical, biblical, and modern sources upon which the Founding Fathers fed. Remarkably, however, the best anthology of these sources to understand the republican idea that undergirds the Federal (...) Constitution was prepared on the eve of the Constitutional Convention by John Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, then in London as American envoy to Great Britain and eventually the second President of the United States. I refer to Adams' A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, against the attack of M. Turgot, in his letter to Dr. Price, 22 March, 1778. (shrink)