Boris Kment takes a new approach to the study of modality that emphasises the origin of modal notions in everyday thought. He argues that the concepts of necessity and possibility originate in counterfactual reasoning, which allows us to investigate explanatory connections. Contrary to accepted views, explanation is more fundamental than modality.
Starting from the idea that functions are formally similar to actions in that they are described and explained in a similar way, so that both admit of an accordion effect, I turn to Anscombe’s insight that the point of practical reasoning is to render explicit the relation between the different descriptions of an action generated by the accordion effect. The upshot is, roughly, that an item has a function if what it does can be accounted for by functional reasoning. Put (...) differently, a part of a system has a function if what it does is a functional part of what the system does. (shrink)
During the last quarter of a century, a number of philosophers have become attracted to the idea that necessity can be analyzed in terms of a hyperintensional notion of essence. One challenge for proponents of this view is to give a plausible explanation of our modal knowledge. The goal of this paper is to develop a strategy for meeting this challenge. My approach rests on an account of modality that I developed in previous work, and which analyzes modal properties in (...) terms of the notion of a metaphysical law. I discuss what information about the metaphysical laws is required for modal knowledge. Moreover, I describe two ways in which we might be able to acquire this information. The first way employs inference to the best explanation. The metaphysical laws, including the essential truths, play a crucial role in causal and grounding explanations and we can gain knowledge of these laws by abductive inferences from facts of which we have perceptual or a priori knowledge. The second way of gaining information about the metaphysical laws rests on knowledge that is partly constitutive of competence with the concepts that are needed to express the relevant information. Finally, I consider how knowledge of the metaphysical laws can be used to establish modal claims, paying special attention to the much-discussed connection between conceiving and possibility. (shrink)
In this article I assess the Invariance Principle, which states that only quantities that are invariant under the symmetries of our theories are physically real. I argue, contrary to current orthodoxy, that the variance of a quantity under a theory’s symmetries is not a sufficient basis for interpreting that theory as being uncommitted to the reality of that quantity. Rather, I argue, the variance of a quantity under symmetries only ever serves as a motivation to refrain from any commitment to (...) the quantity in question. (shrink)
I propose a general alethic theory of epistemic risk according to which the riskiness of an agent’s credence function encodes her relative sensitivity to different types of graded error. After motivating and mathematically developing this approach, I show that the epistemic risk function is a scaled reflection of expected inaccuracy. This duality between risk and information enables us to explore the relationship between attitudes to epistemic risk, the choice of scoring rules in epistemic utility theory, and the selection of priors (...) in Bayesian epistemology more generally. (shrink)
Businesses that rely heavily on cash transactions have been found to be particularly susceptible to low tax ethics. Recent research indicates that cash is a highly powerful and tempting reward, which elicits a strong emotional response. In this article, we investigate how emotions affect tax ethics in a series of experimental studies. Specifically, we show that affective priming and the ease with which tax information is retrieved moderate tax ethics. We also show that the relative effectiveness of deterrence, such as (...) audit probabilities and tax fines, is moderated by affect. These results point toward a complex picture of tax ethics, requiring a multifaceted policy approach that emphasizes not only enforcement, but also cognitive and affective aspects of human behavior. (shrink)
The concept ‘hereditary breast cancer’ is commonly used to delineate a group of people genetically at risk for breast cancer—all of whom also having risk for other cancers. People carrying pathogenic variants of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are often referred to as those having predisposition for ‘hereditary breast cancer’. The two genes, however, are when altered, associated with different risks for and dying from breast cancer. The main risk for dying for carriers of both genes is from ovarian cancer. (...) These biological facts are of philosophical interest, because they are the facts underlying the public debate on BRCA1/2 genetic testing as a model for the discussion of how to implement genetic knowledge and technologies in personalized medicine. A contribution to this public debate describing inherited breast cancer as ‘biological citizenship’ recently printed in Med Health Care and Philos illustrated how fragmented and detached from the biological and socio-political facts this debate sometimes is. We here briefly summarize some of the biological facts and how they are implemented in today’s healthcare based on agreed philosophical, ethical and moral principles. The suggestion of a ‘biological citizenship’ defined by hereditary breast cancer is incorrect and ill-advised. ‘Identity politics’ focusing hereditary breast cancer patients as a group based on a bundle of ill-defined negative arguments is well known, but is supported neither by scientific nor philosophical arguments. To those born with the genetic variants described, the philosophical rule of not doing harm is violated by unbalanced negative arguments. (shrink)
We construct and study structures imitating the field of complex numbers with exponentiation. We give a natural, albeit non first-order, axiomatisation for the corresponding class of structures and prove that the class has a unique model in every uncountable cardinality. This gives grounds to conjecture that the unique model of cardinality continuum is isomorphic to the field of complex numbers with exponentiation.
There exists a common view that for theories related by a ‘duality’, dual models typically may be taken ab initio to represent the same physical state of affairs, i.e. to correspond to the same possible world. We question this view, by drawing a parallel with the distinction between ‘interpretational’ and ‘motivational’ approaches to symmetries.
On the received view, counterfactuals are analysed using the concept of closeness between possible worlds: the counterfactual 'If it had been the case that p, then it would have been the case that q' is true at a world w just in case q is true at all the possible p-worlds closest to w. The degree of closeness between two worlds is usually thought to be determined by weighting different respects of similarity between them. The question I consider in the (...) paper is which weights attach to different respects of similarity. I start by considering Lewis's answer to the question and argue against it by presenting several counterexamples. I use the same examples to motivate a general principle about closeness: if a fact obtains in both of two worlds, then this similarity is relevant to the closeness between them if and only if the fact has the same explanation in the two worlds. I use this principle and some ideas of Lewis's to formulate a general account of counterfactuals, and I argue that this account can explain the asymmetry of counterfactual dependence. The paper concludes with a discussion of some examples that cannot be accommodated by the present version of the account and therefore necessitate further work on the details. (shrink)
We further investigate a divisibility relation on the set of BN ultrafilters on the set of natural numbers. We single out prime ultrafilters (divisible only by 1 and themselves) and establish a hierarchy in which a position of every ultrafilter depends on the set of prime ultrafilters it is divisible by. We also construct ultrafilters with many immediate successors in this hierarchy and find positions of products of ultrafilters.
If definitive evidence concerning treatment effectiveness becomes available from an ongoing randomized clinical trial, then the trial could be stopped early, with the public release of results benefiting current and future patients. However, stopping an ongoing trial based on accruing outcome data requires methodological rigor to preserve validity of the trial conclusions. This has led to the use of formal interim monitoring procedures, which include inefficacy monitoring that will stop a trial early when the experimental treatment appears not to be (...) working. For participants, inefficacy monitoring is especially important as it ensures that they are not being treated worse than if they had not enrolled on the trial. We discuss the importance of reporting with trial results the formal interim inefficacy monitoring guidelines that were utilized, and, if none were used, the reasons for their absence. A survey of two leading medical journals suggests that this is not current practice. (shrink)
In this paper, we reflect on the connection between the notions of organism and organisation, with a specific interest in how this bears upon the issue of the reality of the organism. We do this by presenting the case of Buffon, who developed complex views about the relation between the notions of “organised” and “organic” matter. We argue that, contrary to what some interpreters have suggested, these notions are not orthogonal in his thought. Also, we argue that Buffon has a (...) view in which organisation is not just ubiquitous, but basic and fundamental in nature, and hence also fully natural. We suggest that he can hold this view because of his anti-mathematicism. Buffon’s case is interesting, in our view, because he can regard organisation, and organisms, as perfectly natural, and can admit their reality without invoking problematic supernaturalist views, and because he allows organisation and the organismal to come in kinds and degrees. Thus, his view tries to do justice to two cautionary notes for the debate on the reality of the organism: the need for a commitment to a broadly naturalist perspective, and the need to acknowledge the interesting features of organisms through which we make sense of them. (shrink)
Medicines regulators have generally adopted a scientistic view of medicines evaluation, which they present as an exercise that should—and indeed can—be purely “objective,” based only on knowledge produced through validated research protocols. The growing body of social science literature analyzing the regulation of medicines has questioned this pretense of objectivity and underlined the socio-political construction of evidence on the risks and benefits of medicines. But while the European Medicines Agency has become the dominant regulatory body in Europe and a key (...) player at world level, very few studies have investigated its actual practices. Based on interviews with European regulators, but also on direct observations of several meetings of the European Medicines Agency’s main expert committee, this article aims to analyze how regulatory knowledge is defined and then transformed into regulatory decisions. First, it describes the main characteristics of European medicines regulation and the historical definition of what can count as “objective” evidence on the safety and efficacy of medicines. Second, it demonstrates that experts use many different types of knowledge in building their opinions: the results of studies, but also knowledge about firms’ past and present strategies, about patients’ needs and future behavior, about the state of research and clinical practices, and about legal and policy-making issues. Third, it explains why, in spite of the various forms of knowledge involved, experts manage to produce consensual opinions on medicines and why these opinions are considered genuine decisions in the sector. (shrink)
In this paper, I make a contribution to a naturalistically-minded theory of truthmakers by proposing a solution to the nasty problem of truthmakers for negative truths. After formulating the difficulty, I consider and reject a number of solutions to the problem, including Armstrong's states of affairs of totality, incompatibility accounts, and JC Beall 's polarity view. I then defend the position that absences of truthmakers are real and are responsible for making negative truths true. According to the positive account of (...) absences I offer, absences of contingent states of affairs are causally relevant mind-independent features of the physical world, located within space and time, and capable of being discovered by scientific inquiry. Recognition of the reality of absences strengthens truthmaker theory as a naturalistic metaphysics, as truth and falsity of each and every contingent proposition finds an ontological grounding in some region of the physical universe. (shrink)
This paper’s core concern is Boris Groys’ theory of the total art of Stalinism, which is devoted to rewriting Soviet art history and reinterpreting Socialist Realism from the perspective of the equal rights between political and artistic Art Power. The aim of this article is to decode Groys and the total art of Stalinism, based on answering the following three questions: 1) why did Groys want to rewrite Soviet art history? 2) How did Groys re-narrate Soviet art history? 3) (...) What are the pros and cons of his reordering of the total art of Stalinism? Groys offers an effective paradigm that could rethink two theoretical genres: a) other Socialist Realisms inside or outside the Soviet bloc, during or after the Soviet era; b) the aesthetical rights of political artworks before, during and after the Cold War, and the historical debates about art, especially about art for art’s sake, or art for political propaganda. However, Groys’ total art of Stalinism and its core theory of the Socialist Realism frame hides some dangers of aestheticizing Stalin and Stalinism. (shrink)
I will argue that Aristotle’s fourfold division of four causes naturally arises from a combination of two distinctions (a) between things and changes, and (b) between that which potentially is something and what it potentially is. Within this scheme, what is usually called the “efficient cause” is something that potentially is a certain natural change, and the “final cause” is, at least in a basic sense, what the efficient cause potentially is. I will further argue that the essences of things (...) and changes are not features or attributes of them, but paradigms that set the standards according to which these things and changes may be judged to be natural or typical. The “formal cause” of a natural thing will be shown to be its essence in this sense: it sets the standards of typicality that apply to instances of its kind. The final cause will be shown to set the standard of typicality for natural changes. When we understand Aristotle’s doctrine of the four causes in this way, it becomes clear on what basis he could convincingly argue that final causality is operative in the whole of nature. (shrink)
Drawing from cognitive learning theories we hypothesize that exposure to nationalistic appeals that suggest consumers should shun foreign brands for moral reasons increases the general belief in consumers that buying foreign brands is morally wrong. In parallel, drawing from the theory of psychological reactance we posit that such appeals may, against their communication goal, increase the reputation of foreign luxury brands. We term the juxtaposition of these apparently contradictory effects the “Ambivalence Hypothesis.” Further, drawing from prior research on source-similarity effects (...) we posit that foreign luxury brands that communicate cultural proximity to target consumers reinforce psychological reactance. We test these hypotheses experimentally in the context of luxury car brand advertising in China, a market that is heavily dominated by foreign brands, and therefore provides a breeding ground for ambivalent consumer reactions. Results show that exposure to nationalistic appeals enhances consumers’ national identity dispositions, which results in higher levels of consumer ethnocentrism. Further, nationalistic appeals enhance the social responsibility associations that consumers hold for foreign luxury brands and their countries of origin, which results in a higher brand reputation. Finally, effects of nationalistic appeals on foreign luxury brand reputation are positively stronger for brands using a local vs. a foreign or a global positioning. These findings suggest that nationalistic appeals are a double-edged sword with important implications for ethics in political communication and luxury brand marketing. (shrink)
Although Descartes is often said to have coined the modern notion of 'consciousness', he nowhere defines the according Latin term (conscientia), neither explicitly nor implicitly. This may either imply that he used the word in a sense that he did not make sufficiently clear, that he was not the first to use 'conscientia' in its modern psychological sense, or that he still used it in its traditional sense. I argue for the third assumption: Descartes used 'conscientia' according to the traditional (...) meaning that we also find in the writings of St. Paul, Augustine, Aquinas and later scholastics. Thus for Descartes, conscientia is not a kind of speculative self-knowledge, inner observation or reflexive awareness. Rather, it is a kind of practical knowledge. This is a bold claim. I will argue for it (1) by closely examining the key passages in the Cartesian writings and (2) by re-evaluating the traditional use of the Latin 'conscientia'. Then I will (3) draw some consequences. 1. Descartes makes rather clear what consciousness (conscientia) is not. To take only the most likely candidates. Consciousness is not a thought (cogitatio), since every thought must be accompanied by consciousness. Further, it is not a disposition. Descartes claims that the object of our consciousness never is a possible, but always must be an actual thought. It would be difficult to see how a disposition could be about an actual thought rather than a possible one. But consciousness is also not an attribute of a thought, since Descartes always ascribes it to the thinker herself. 2. In classical and mediaeval Latin, 'conscientia' did not mean 'consciousness', but also not exactly the same as 'moral conscience'. Three aspects are involved in the traditional meaning of the term. First, conscientia is shared knowledge. At least since Augustine, this knowledge is said to be shared between particular human agents and God. Second, conscientia concerns the specific (moral) value of an action. Even more, as Aquinas maintains, actions acquire their rationality and normativity only by being subject to conscientia. On this basis, later scholastics thirdly defined conscientia as a kind of practical knowledge. As such, conscientia is in some sense the cause of what it understands. Put in late scholastic terms, it is the formal cause of its moral being (esse morale). This account of the meaning of 'conscientia' will be shown to be largely compatible with the Cartesian use of the term; the only change to be made being that it deals with thoughts (cogitationes) and their specific value rather than with actions. Hence for Descartes, consciousness is a kind of practical knowledge about thoughts that is shared with an ideal observer (God) and that causes the specific value of the thought that is its object. 3. This reading has several important implications. For instance, it provides us with a reason for the claim that the consciousness is not itself a thought of the thinker who has it. Our the consciousness turns something into a thought by taking it as its object and thereby endowing it with the specific value that it has as a thought. This value might be truth, correctness, adequacy or something along these lines. Now every particular judgment of value can itself be false, incorrect, or inadequate. Hence, every particular reflexive thought would itself be subject to a further consciousness. The only conscientia that can stop this regress is Gods knowledge of our thoughts. This knowledge cannot be wrong. As a consequence, the suggested reading directs us away from the assumption that the mind contains only incorporeal thoughts that are privately known to the thinker. As for the first, Descartes himself claims that most of our thoughts depend on the body. The object of our consciousness may then be some event happening in our brain. Consciousness turns this event into something that is also in some respect incorporeal by endowing it with a value. As thought, it is then not a mere corporeal thing. (The modern reader may add: as thought, but not as bodily event, it is equivalent with other brain events.) As for the second part of the above claim, the Cartesian mind must be radically public, since we always share our conscientia with an ideal observer. Finally, we come to see why Descartes proceeds so easily from his cogito, sum to a proof of the existence of God. Since every thought must be subject to a conscientia, there must always have been an ideal observer. God's existence can be shown because it must already have been presupposed. In fact, the Cartesian meditator was never alone. (shrink)
The bibliography provides a list of Boris Uspenskij’s publications in English, including works written in co-authorship and various reprints/reissues. For the most part, Uspenskij’s publications in English are translations of his books and articles originally written in Russian and previously published in the Soviet Union/Russia. The first English-language publication of his work, the monograph Principles of Structural Typology appeared in 1968; the current bibliography consists of 65 entries from a period spanning from 1968 till today.
The complete system of knowledge is a standard trope of science fiction, a techno-utopian dream and an aesthetic ideal. It is Solomon’s House, the Encyclopaedia and the Museum. It is also an ideology – of Enlightenment, High Modernism and absolute governance. Far from ending the dream of a total archive, 20th-century positivist rationality brought it ever closer. From Paul Otlet’s ‘Mundaneum’ to Mass-Observation, from the Unity of Science movement to Wikipedia, the dream of universal knowledge dies hard. As a political (...) tool, the total archive encompasses population statistics, gross domestic product, indices of the Standard of Living and the international ideology of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the World Health Organization, the free market and, most recently, Big Data. Questions of the total archive engage key issues in the philosophy of classification, the poetics of the universal, the ideology of surveillance and the technologies of information retrieval. What are the social structures and political dynamics required to sustain total archives, and what are the temporalities implied by such projects? This introduction and the articles that follow describe and place in historical context a series of concrete instances of totality. Our analysis is arranged according to four central themes: the relationship between the Archive and archives ; the image of the archive and the aesthetics of totality; pathologies of accumulation; and the specific historical trajectory of the total archive in the 19th and 20th centuries. (shrink)
Standard theories of expected utility require that preferences are complete, and/or Archimedean. We present in this paper a theory of decision under uncertainty for both incomplete and non-Archimedean preferences. Without continuity assumptions, incomplete preferences on a lottery space reduce to an order-extension problem. It is well known that incomplete preferences can be extended to complete preferences in the full generality, but this result does not necessarily hold for incomplete preferences which satisfy the independence axiom, since it may obviously happen that (...) the extension does not satisfy the independence axiom. We show, for incomplete preferences on a mixture space, that an extension which satisfies the independence axiom exists. We find necessary and sufficient conditions for a preorder on a finite lottery space to be representable by a family of lexicographic von Neumann–Morgenstern Expected Utility functions. (shrink)
Neuroscience is a multidisciplinary effort to understand the structures and functions of the brain and brain-mind relations. This effort results in an increasing amount of data, generated by sophisticated technologies. However, these data enhance our descriptive knowledge, rather than improve our understanding of brain functions. This is caused by methodological gaps both within and between subdisciplines constituting neuroscience, and the atomistic approach that limits the study of macro- and mesoscopic issues. Whole-brain measurement technologies do not resolve these issues, but rather (...) aggravate them by the complexity problem. The present article is devoted to methodological and epistemic problems that obstruct the development of human neuroscience. We neither discuss ontological questions nor review data, except when it is necessary to demonstrate a methodological issue. As regards intradisciplinary methodological problems, we concentrate on those within neurobiology and psychology. As regards interdisciplinary problems, we suggest that core disciplines of neuroscience can be integrated using systemic concepts that also entail human-environment relations. We emphasize the necessity of a meta-discussion that should entail a closer cooperation with philosophy as a discipline of systematic reflection. The atomistic reduction should be complemented by the explicit consideration of the embodiedness of the brain and the embeddedness of humans. The discussion is aimed at the development of an explicit methodology of integrative human neuroscience, which will not only link different fields and levels, but also help in understanding clinical phenomena. (shrink)
In recent years the term ‘recognition’ has been used in ever more variegated theoretical contexts. This article contributes to the discussion of how the concept(s) expressed by this term in different debates should be explicated and understood. For the most part it takes the concept itself as its topic rather than making theoretical use of it. Drawing on important work by Ikäheimo and Laitinen and taking Honneth’s tripartite distinction of recognition into love, respect, and esteem as a starting point it (...) introduces the conceptual distinction between recognitive attitudes, recognitive relations, and recognitive acts, discusses Brandom’s attempt at explaining self-consciousness in terms of reflexive recognition mediated by intersubjective recognitive relations and suggests some critical points on how Butler puts the concept of recognition to work in her conception of ethics. (shrink)
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