This paper defends a key aspect of the Peircean conception of truth—the idea that truth is in some sense epistemically-constrained. It does so by exploring parallels between Peirce’s epistemology of inquiry and that of Wittgenstein in On Certainty. The central argument defends a Peircean claim about truth by appeal to a view shared by Peirce and Wittgenstein about the structure of reasons. This view relies on the idea that certain claims have a special epistemic status, or function as what are (...) popularly called ‘hinge propositions’. (shrink)
What is the function of cognition? On one influential account, cognition evolved to co-ordinate behaviour with environmental change or complexity. Liberal interpretations of this view ascribe cognition to an extraordinarily broad set of biological systems—even bacteria, which modulate their activity in response to salient external cues, would seem to qualify as cognitive agents. However, equating cognition with adaptive flexibility per se glosses over important distinctions in the way biological organisms deal with environmental complexity. Drawing on contemporary advances in theoretical biology (...) and computational neuroscience, we cash these distinctions out in terms of different kinds of generative models, and the representational and uncertainty-resolving capacities they afford. This analysis leads us to propose a formal criterion for delineating cognition from other, more pervasive forms of adaptive plasticity. On this view, biological cognition is rooted in a particular kind of functional organisation; namely, that which enables the agent to detach from the present and engage in counterfactual inference. (shrink)
Circumscribed delusional beliefs can follow brain injury. We suggest that these involve anomalous perceptual experiences created by a deficit to the person's perceptual system, and misinterpretation of these experiences due to biased reasoning. We use the Capgras delusion (the claim that one or more of one's close relatives has been replaced by an exact replica or impostor) to illustrate this argument. Our account maintains that people voicing this delusion suffer an impairment that leads to faces being perceived as drained of (...) their normal affective significance, and an additional reasoning bias that leads them to put greater weight on forming beliefs that are observationally adequate rather than beliefs that are a conservative extension of their existing stock. We show how this position can integrate issues involved in the philosophy and psychology of belief, and examine the scope for mutually beneficial interaction. (shrink)
There is wide agreement that the derivation and use of human embryonic stem cells from embryos remaining after infertility treatment morally require the informed consent of the IVF patients who undertook the treatment. However, there continues to be controversy over whether hESC research involving leftover embryos created with eggs or sperm from third-party donors requires the consent of these donors. In the United States, the lack of consensus on this issue manifests itself in a conflict between two entities that play (...) an important role in hESC research policy: the National Institutes of Health, which federally funds the research, and the National Academy of Sciences, which has produced.. (shrink)
Human coalitions frequently persist through multiple, overlapping membership generations, requiring new members to cooperate and coordinate with veteran members. Does the mind contain psychological adaptations for interacting within these intergenerational coalitions? In this paper, we examine whether the mind spontaneously treats newcomers as a motivationally privileged category. Newcomers—though capable of benefiting coalitions—may also impose considerable costs (e.g., they may free ride on other members, they may be poor at completing group tasks). In three experiments we show (1) that the mind (...) categorizes coalition members by tenure, including newcomers; (2) that tenure categorization persists in the presence of orthogonal and salient social dimensions; and (3) that newcomers elicit a pattern of impressions consistent with their probable ancestral costs. These results provide preliminary evidence for a specialized component of human coalitional psychology: an evolved concept of newcomer. (shrink)
Introduction Understanding the views of the public is essential if generally acceptable policies are to be devised that balance research access to general practice patient records with protection of patients' privacy. However, few large studies have been conducted about public attitudes to research access to personal health information. Methods A mixed methods study was performed. Informed by focus groups and literature review, a questionnaire was designed which assessed attitudes to research access to personal health information and factors that influence these. (...) A postal survey was conducted of an electoral roll-based sample of the adult population of Ireland. Results Completed questionnaires were returned by 1575 (40.6%). Among the respondents, 67.5% were unwilling to allow GPs to decide when researchers could access identifiable personal health information. However, 89.5% said they would agree to ongoing consent arrangements, allowing the sharing by GPs of anonymous personal health information with researchers without the need for consent on a study-by-study basis. Increasing age (by each 10-year increment), being retired and primary level education only were significantly associated with an increased likelihood of agreeing that any personal health information could be shared on an ongoing basis: OR 1.39 (95% CI 1.18 to 1.63), 2.00 (95% CI 1.22 to 3.29) and 3.91 (95% CI 1.95 to 7.85), respectively. Conclusions Although survey data can be prone to response biases, this study suggests that prior consent agreements allowing the supply by GPs of anonymous personal health information to researchers may be widely supported, and that populations willing to opt in to such arrangements may be sufficiently representative to facilitate valid and robust consent-dependent observational research. (shrink)
In his influential book Truth, Paul Horwich deploys a philosophical method focused on linguistic usage, that is, on the function(s) the concept of truth serves in actual discourse. In doing so Horwich eschews abstract metaphysics, arguing that metaphysical or ontological conceptions of truth rest on basic misconceptions. From this description, one might reasonably expect Horwich's book to have drawn inspiration from, or even embodied philosophical pragmatism of some kind. Unfortunately Horwich relies upon Russell's tired caricature of pragmatism about truth (''p' (...) is true if and only if it is useful to believe p' (Ibid., p. 34, p. 47)), and as a result underestimates the challenge it poses to Minimalism. This paper develops a pragmatist critique of minimalism that focuses on the seemingly central, plausibly constitutive role played by the concept of truth in the speech-act of assertion. The critique suggests that Horwich's Minimalism does not and cannot accomplish its stated goal of explaining all of the facts involving truth. Indeed, the kind of thorough-going deflationism sought by Horwich and others (including pragmatist sympathizer Bob Brandom) is incompatible with an adequate account of assertion, and perhaps other concepts (like belief, judgement and inquiry) as well. (shrink)
Foucault on Politics, Society and War interrogates Foucault's controversial genealogy of modern biopolitics. By insisting on 'life' as the key referent of power in the modern age, Foucault argues that politics grounds society in war, specifically race war, in ways that come to threaten the very human existence it is pledged to promote. These essays situate Foucault's arguments, clarify the correlation of sovereign- and bio-power and examine the relation of bios, nomos and race in relation to modern war.
How do we talk meaningfully about the sacred in contexts where conventional religious expression has so often lost its power? Inspired by the influential work of David Jasper, this important volume builds on his thinking to identify sacrality in a world where the old religious and secular debates have exhausted themselves and theology struggles for a new language in their wake. Distinguished writers explore here the idea of the sacred as one that exists, paradoxically, in a space that is both (...) possible and impossible: profoundly theological on the one hand, but also deeply this-worldly and irreligious on the other. This is a sacredness that is simultaneously 'present' and 'absent': one which encompasses – as Jasper himself characterises it – 'the impossible possibility of an absolute vision'. The book teaches us that the sacred assumes a renewed potency when fully engaged with the creativity that happens across religion, literature, philosophy and the arts. (shrink)
This paper explores a distinction between two types of response- dependence (RD) account (shallow vs. deep). This distinction is inherent in much of the existing literature, however it is neither widely nor well understood, and has never been drawn explicitly. The distinction is often taken to be a metaphysical, or ‘realism-relevant’ one—i.e. deep RD accounts entail qualified realism (or perhaps anti-realism), while shallow RD accounts are metaphysically neutral. I argue that the distinction is not reliably realism-relevant. I formulate a weaker (...) version of the distinction that may help prevent some common and understandable confusion about RD biconditionals and their relationship to realism. The weaker distinction rests on the different roles assigned to RD biconditionals by the two types of account. (shrink)
Majority-Minority electoral districts, while increasing the number of minorities in legislatures, work to deepen divisions among racial groups, to exacerbate the systematic disadvantages of some individuals, and to impede effective representation. I examine another form of race-conscious districting that will increase marginalized minority presence in legislatures while avoiding these problems.
Between inventing the concept of a universal computer in 1936 and breaking the German Enigma code during World War II, Alan Turing, the British founder of computer science and artificial intelligence, came to Princeton University to study mathematical logic. Some of the greatest logicians in the world--including Alonzo Church, Kurt Gödel, John von Neumann, and Stephen Kleene--were at Princeton in the 1930s, and they were working on ideas that would lay the groundwork for what would become known as computer science. (...) Though less well known than his other work, Turing's 1938 Princeton PhD thesis, "Systems of Logic Based on Ordinals," which includes his notion of an oracle machine, has had a lasting influence on computer science and mathematics. This book presents a facsimile of the original typescript of the thesis along with essays by Andrew Appel and Solomon Feferman that explain its still-unfolding significance. A work of philosophy as well as mathematics, Turing's thesis envisions a practical goal--a logical system to formalize mathematical proofs so they can be checked mechanically. If every step of a theorem could be verified mechanically, the burden on intuition would be limited to the axioms. Turing's point, as Appel writes, is that "mathematical reasoning can be done, and should be done, in mechanizable formal logic." Turing's vision of "constructive systems of logic for practical use" has become reality: in the twenty-first century, automated "formal methods" are now routine. Presented here in its original form, this fascinating thesis is one of the key documents in the history of mathematics and computer science. (shrink)
Many philosophers who support a four-dimensionalist metaphysics of things also conceive of experience as a state of a mind having temporal extension or existing as a momentary feature of the dimension of time. This essay shows that such a strict four-dimensionalism — suggested in works by D. M. Armstrong, Mark Heller, and David Lewis — cannot be correct, since it cannot allow for the passing of time that is essential to awareness. The argument demonstrates that the positing of any temporal (...) process at all must compromise the strict four-dimensionalist view of the temporality of experience. This is not to say that the traditional endurantist view is left wholeheartedly endorsed. As I point out, this traditional view makes several questionable claims of its own that must be carefully scrutinized. Still, the criticism of the strict four-dimensionalist ontology indicates a direction to be followed in developing a successful metaphysics of experience. (shrink)
This essay argues against David Carr’s relativism by clarifying the in principle requirements appropriate to non-relative truths and showing that de facto differences of conceptual frameworks threaten none of them. Non-relative truths are not threatened by history. This defense of non-relative truth belongs to a larger defense of Husserlian “science” that shows how essences, even those “delivered” by history, have a universal “governance” and can be affirmed in nonrelative truths-as such science requires. If history also allows the other qualities of (...) Husserlian science to obtain, then, the essay concludes, such science can exist even as a “situated science.”. (shrink)
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