19 found
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  1. David Lewis in the Lab: Experimental Results on the Emergence of Meaning.Justin Bruner, Cailin O’Connor, Hannah Rubin & Simon M. Huttegger - 2018 - Synthese 195 (2):603-621.
    In this paper we use an experimental approach to investigate how linguistic conventions can emerge in a society without explicit agreement. As a starting point we consider the signaling game introduced by Lewis. We find that in experimental settings, small groups can quickly develop conventions of signal meaning in these games. We also investigate versions of the game where the theoretical literature indicates that meaning will be less likely to arise—when there are more than two states for actors to transfer (...)
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    Dynamics and Diversity in Epistemic Communities.Cailin O’Connor & Justin Bruner - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (1):101-119.
    Bruner shows that in cultural interactions, members of minority groups will learn to interact with members of majority groups more quickly—minorities tend to meet majorities more often as a brute fact of their respective numbers—and, as a result, may come to be disadvantaged in situations where they divide resources. In this paper, we discuss the implications of this effect for epistemic communities. We use evolutionary game theoretic methods to show that minority groups can end up disadvantaged in academic interactions like (...)
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  3.  35
    Dynamics and Diversity in Epistemic Communities.Cailin O’Connor & Justin Bruner - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (1):101-119.
    Bruner shows that in cultural interactions, members of minority groups will learn to interact with members of majority groups more quickly—minorities tend to meet majorities more often as a brute fact of their respective numbers—and, as a result, may come to be disadvantaged in situations where they divide resources. In this paper, we discuss the implications of this effect for epistemic communities. We use evolutionary game theoretic methods to show that minority groups can end up disadvantaged in academic interactions like (...)
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  4. Scientific Polarization.Cailin O’Connor & James Owen Weatherall - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (3):855-875.
    Contemporary societies are often “polarized”, in the sense that sub-groups within these societies hold stably opposing beliefs, even when there is a fact of the matter. Extant models of polarization do not capture the idea that some beliefs are true and others false. Here we present a model, based on the network epistemology framework of Bala and Goyal, 784–811 1998), in which polarization emerges even though agents gather evidence about their beliefs, and true belief yields a pay-off advantage. As we (...)
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  5. Evolving Perceptual Categories.Cailin O’Connor - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (5):110-121.
    This article uses sim-max games to model perceptual categorization with the goal of answering the following question: To what degree should we expect the perceptual categories of biological actors to track properties of the world around them? I argue that an analysis of these games suggests that the relationship between real-world structure and evolved perceptual categories is mediated by successful action in the sense that organisms evolve to categorize together states of nature for which similar actions lead to similar results. (...)
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  6.  13
    Conformity in Scientific Networks.James Owen Weatherall & Cailin O’Connor - 2018 - Synthese:1-22.
    Scientists are generally subject to social pressures, including pressures to conform with others in their communities, that affect achievement of their epistemic goals. Here we analyze a network epistemology model in which agents, all else being equal, prefer to take actions that conform with those of their neighbors. This preference for conformity interacts with the agents’ beliefs about which of two possible actions yields the better result. We find a range of possible outcomes, including stable polarization in belief and action. (...)
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  7.  46
    How to Beat Science and Influence People: Policymakers and Propaganda in Epistemic Networks.James Owen Weatherall, Cailin O’Connor & Justin P. Bruner - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (4):1157-1186.
    In their recent book, Oreskes and Conway describe the ‘tobacco strategy’, which was used by the tobacco industry to influence policymakers regarding the health risks of tobacco products. The strategy involved two parts, consisting of promoting and sharing independent research supporting the industry’s preferred position and funding additional research, but selectively publishing the results. We introduce a model of the tobacco strategy, and use it to argue that both prongs of the strategy can be extremely effective—even when policymakers rationally update (...)
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  8.  32
    Discrimination and Collaboration in Science.Hannah Rubin & Cailin O’Connor - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (3):380-402.
    We use game theoretic models to take an in-depth look at the dynamics of discrimination and academic collaboration. We find that in collaboration networks, small minority groups may be more likely to end up being discriminated against while collaborating. We also find that discrimination can lead members of different social groups to mostly collaborate with in-group members, decreasing the effective diversity of the social network. Drawing on previous work, we discuss how decreases in the diversity of scientific collaborations might negatively (...)
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  9. Evolving to Generalize: Trading Precision for Speed.Cailin O’Connor - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2).
    Biologists and philosophers of biology have argued that learning rules that do not lead organisms to play evolutionarily stable strategies (ESSes) in games will not be stable and thus not evolutionarily successful. This claim, however, stands at odds with the fact that learning generalization---a behavior that cannot lead to ESSes when modeled in games---is observed throughout the animal kingdom. In this paper, I use learning generalization to illustrate how previous analyses of the evolution of learning have gone wrong. It has (...)
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  10.  24
    Evolving Perceptual Categories.Cailin O’Connor - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (5):840-851.
    This paper uses sim-max games to model perceptual categorization with the goal of answering the following question: to what degree should we expect the perceptual categories of biological actors to track properties of the world around them? I will argue that an analysis of these games suggests that the relationship between real-world structure and evolved perceptual categories is mediated by successful action in the sense that organisms evolve to categorize together states of nature for which similar actions lead to similar (...)
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  11.  18
    Games and Kinds.Cailin O’Connor - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axx027.
    In response to those who argue for ‘property cluster’ views of natural kinds, I use evolutionary models of sim-max games to assess the claim that linguistic terms will appropriately track sets of objects that cluster in property spaces. As I show, there are two sorts of ways this can fail to happen. First, evolved terms that do respect property structure in some senses can be conventional nonetheless. Second, and more crucially, because the function of linguistic terms is to facilitate successful (...)
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  12.  33
    Inequality and Inequity in the Emergence of Conventions.Calvin Cochran & Cailin O’Connor - 2019 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 18 (3):264-281.
    Many societies have norms of equity – that those who make symmetric social contributions deserve symmetric rewards. Despite this, there are widespread patterns of social inequity, especially along gender and racial lines. It is often the case that members of certain social groups receive greater rewards per contribution than others. In this article, we draw on evolutionary game theory to show that the emergence of this sort of convention is far from surprising. In simple cultural evolutionary models, inequity is much (...)
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  13.  24
    Book Review Peter Godfrey-Smith , Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection . Oxford: Oxford University Press (2009), Viii+207 Pp., $55.00 (Cloth). [REVIEW]Cailin O’Connor - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (4):589-593.
  14. Review: Peter Godfrey-Smith. Philosophy of Biology. [REVIEW]Cailin O’Connor - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (4):731-733.
    Review of Peter Godfrey-Smith's Philosophy of Biology.
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    Games and Kinds.Cailin O’Connor - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):719-745.
    In response to those who argue for ‘property cluster’ views of natural kinds, I use evolutionary models of similarity-maximizing games to assess the claim that linguistic terms appropriately track sets of objects that cluster in property spaces. As I show, there are two sorts of ways this can fail to happen. First, evolved terms that do respect property structure in some senses can be conventional nonetheless. Second, and more crucially, because the function of linguistic terms is to facilitate successful action (...)
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    Peter Godfrey-Smith, Philosophy of Biology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press , 200 Pp., $29.95. [REVIEW]Cailin O’Connor - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (4):731-733.
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  17.  3
    Samir Okasha. Agents and Goals in Evolution.Cailin O’Connor - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (1):181-184.
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  18. The Evolution of Vagueness.Cailin O’Connor - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (Suppl 4):707-727.
    Vague predicates, those that exhibit borderline cases, pose a persistent problem for philosophers and logicians. Although they are ubiquitous in natural language, when used in a logical context, vague predicates lead to contradiction. This paper will address a question that is intimately related to this problem. Given their inherent imprecision, why do vague predicates arise in the first place? I discuss a variation of the signaling game where the state space is treated as contiguous, i.e., endowed with a metric that (...)
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  19.  26
    Endogenous epistemic factionalization.James Owen Weatherall & Cailin O’Connor - forthcoming - Synthese:1-22.
    Why do people who disagree about one subject tend to disagree about other subjects as well? In this paper, we introduce a model to explore this phenomenon of ‘epistemic factionization’. Agents attempt to discover the truth about multiple propositions by testing the world and sharing evidence gathered. But agents tend to mistrust evidence shared by those who do not hold similar beliefs. This mistrust leads to the endogenous emergence of factions of agents with multiple, highly correlated, polarized beliefs.
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