This book, published in 2000, is a clear account of causation based firmly in contemporary science. Dowe discusses in a systematic way, a positive account of causation: the conserved quantities account of causal processes which he has been developing over the last ten years. The book describes causal processes and interactions in terms of conserved quantities: a causal process is the worldline of an object which possesses a conserved quantity, and a causal interaction involves the exchange of conserved quantities. Further, (...) things that are properly called cause and effect are appropriately connected by a set of causal processes and interactions. The distinction between cause and effect is explained in terms of a version of the fork theory: the direction of a certain kind of ordered pattern of events in the world. This particular version has the virtue that it allows for the possibility of backwards causation, and therefore time travel. (shrink)
Although arguments for and against competing theories of vagueness often appeal to claims about the use of vague predicates by ordinary speakers, such claims are rarely tested. An exception is Bonini et al. (1999), who report empirical results on the use of vague predicates by Italian speakers, and take the results to count in favor of epistemicism. Yet several methodological difficulties mar their experiments; we outline these problems and devise revised experiments that do not show the same results. We then (...) describe three additional empirical studies that investigate further claims in the literature on vagueness: the hypothesis that speakers confuse ‘P’ with ‘definitely P’, the relative persuasiveness of different formulations of the inductive premise of the Sorites, and the interaction of vague predicates with three different forms of negation. (shrink)
Santa Barbara County exhibits some of the highest rates of food insecurity in California, as well as in the United States. Through ethnographic research of three low-income, predominantly Latino communities in Santa Barbara County, this study examined the degree to which households had been experiencing heightened levels of food insecurity since the economic recession and ensuing coping strategies, including gender-specific repercussions and coping strategies. Methods included administering a survey with 150 households and conducting observation and unstructured interviews at various local (...) food-centered venues. Results indicated that households from the three communities were experiencing heightened levels of food insecurity and that all three communities were employing diversification of procurement, adjustments to a reduced or limited food budget, reliance on food assistance, and revitalization of the home as a site of domestic food production and preparation as coping strategies. The results also suggested that women suffered disproportionately higher psychological and physical costs associated with compounding crises. In conclusion, the experiences narrated by low-income households reflect a form of citizenship that appears compromised by a host of variables perceived to exist outside the realm of local control. Shifting toward an operational framework of food sovereignty may allow these communities to become more resilient in the face of future political, environmental, social, and economic stressors. (shrink)
We argue that the counterfactual representations of popular culture, like their religious cognates, are shaped by cognitive constraints that become visible when considered in aggregate. In particular, we argue that comic-book literature embodies core intuitions about sociality and its maintenance that are activated by the cognitive problem of living in large groups. This leads to four predictions: comic-book enforcers should be punitively prosocial, be quasi-omniscient, exhibit kin-signalling proxies and be minimally counterintuitive. We gauge these predictions against a large sample of (...) 19,877 characters that were derived from 72,611 comics using data scraping techniques. Our results corroborate the view that cognitive constraints exercise a selective effect on the transmission of popular culture. (shrink)
This paper examines Wesley Salmon's "process" theory of causality, arguing in particular that there are four areas of inadequacy. These are that the theory is circular, that it is too vague at a crucial point, that statistical forks do not serve their intended purpose, and that Salmon has not adequately demonstrated that the theory avoids Hume's strictures about "hidden powers". A new theory is suggested, based on "conserved quantities", which fulfills Salmon's broad objectives, and which avoids the problems discussed.
This paper discusses the significance of gender-based conflicts for thefailure of Gambian irrigated rice projects. In particular, it illustrateshow resource control of a gendered crop, rice, shifts from females to maleswith the development of pump-irrigated rice projects. Irrigation imposes aradically different labor regime on household producers, demanding thatthey intensify labor for year-round cultivation. Yet, the Gambian farmingsystem evolved for a five month agricultural calendar, in which women wereaccorded specific land and labor rights. The need to restructure familylabor, specifically skilled female (...) labor, to meet the cultivation demandsof pump irrigation is crucial for understanding the pattern of gender-basedconflicts in Gambian rice schemes. The case study illustrates thatirrigation involves more than technology transfer. Appropriate irrigationdemands sensitivity to the social structure of household production systems. The paper concludes by emphasizing the centrality of gender issuesfor improving food security in sub-Saharan Africa. (shrink)
There is, no doubt, a temptation to treat preventions, such as ‘the father’s grabbing the child prevented the accident’, and cases of ‘causation’ by omission, such as ‘the father’s inattention was the cause of the child’s accident’, as cases of genuine causation. I think they are not, and in this paper I defend a theory of what they are. More specifically, the counterfactual theory defended here is that a claim about prevention or ‘causation’ by omission should be understood not as (...) being directly about actual genuine causation but primarily as a counterfactual claim about genuine causation.1 The relation between actual causation and the mere possibility of causation allows my theory to explain both the difference and the similarity between the two notions (causation and prevention/omission). Further, the difference explains certain intuitions we have and the similarity justifies and explains the fact that for practical purposes we usually treat preventions and omissions as if they were genuine causation. Finally, the fact that this counterfactual theory of prevention and omission takes causation as primitive suggests that it is consistent with any theory of causation. This allows us to construct two arguments against what I will call genuinism, the view that cases of prevention and ‘causation’ by omission really are cases of genuine causation. In section II I show that genuinism does not account for the so-called intuition of difference. In section III I outline a number of problems that various theories of causation have with preventions and ‘causation’ by omission. These problems are ipso facto problems for genuinism, whereas I show in section V how the counterfactual theory solves those problems. Further, I answer a genuinist argument based on another type of intuition—the genuinist intuition—by showing why we have that intuition and how it should be handled (section VI). (shrink)
Aristotle holds that individual substances are ontologically independent from nonsubstances and universal substances but that non-substances and universal substances are ontologically dependent on substances. There is then an asymmetry between individual substances and other kinds of beings with respect to ontological dependence. Under what could plausibly be called the standard interpretation, the ontological independence ascribed to individual substances and denied of non-substances and universal substances is a capacity for independent existence. There is, however, a tension between this interpretation and the (...) asymmetry between individual substances and the other kinds of entities with respect to ontological independence. I will propose an alternative interpretation: to weaken the relevant notion of ontological independence from a capacity for independent existence to the independent possession of a certain ontological status. (shrink)
In this article we argue that nanotechnology represents an extraordinary opportunity to build in a robust role for the social sciences in a technology that remains at an early, and hence undetermined, stage of development. We examine policy dynamics in both the United States and United Kingdom aimed at both opening up, and closing down, the role of the social sciences in nanotechnologies. We then set out a prospective agenda for the social sciences and its potential in the future shaping (...) of nanotechnology research and innovation processes. The emergent, undetermined nature of nanotechnologies calls for an open, experimental, and interdisciplinary model of social science research. (shrink)
“Scaling-up” is the next hurdle facing the local food movement. In order to effect broader systemic impacts, local food systems (LFS) will have to grow, and engage either more or larger consumers and producers. Encouraging the involvement of mid-sized farms looks to be an elegant solution, by broadening the accessibility of local food while providing alternative revenue streams for troubled family farms. Logistical, structural and regulatory barriers to increased scale in LFS are well known. Less is understood about the way (...) in which scale developments affect the perception and legitimacy of LFS. This value-added opportunity begs the question: Is the value that adheres to local food scalable? Many familiar with local food discourse might suggest that important pieces of added value within LFS are generated by the reconnection of producer and consumer, the direct exchange through which this occurs, and the shared goals and values that provide the basis for reconnection. However, these assertions are based on tenuous assumptions about how interactions within the direct exchange produce value, and how LFS are governed. Examination shows that existing assumptions do not properly acknowledge the hybridity, diversity, and flexibility inherent in LFS. A clear analysis of the potential of scale in LFS will depend on understanding both how value is determined within LFS, and the processes through which these systems are governed. Such an analysis shows that, while scaled-up LFS will be challenged to maintain legitimacy and an identity as “alternative”, the establishment of an open governance process—based on a “negotiation of accommodations”—is likely to enhance their viability. (shrink)
One of the more compelling features of Denis Dutton’s The Art Instinct is its theoretical parsimony. Utilizing what essentially amounts to one explanatory principle—that of Darwinian selection—Dutton advances a theory of aesthetics that is at once general enough to account for cross-cultural variations in artistic production and sufficiently nuanced to promote insights into individual artworks. In doing this, Dutton’s work could not offer a greater contrast to some of the more vocal trends in contemporary aesthetic theory, where ponderous theorizing and (...) rebarbative jargons have violently opposed the idea—otherwise so modest—that aesthetic activities might draw on the evolved capacities of the human imagination. On .. (shrink)
In a recent paper (1994) Wesley Salmon has replied to criticisms (e.g., Dowe 1992c, Kitcher 1989) of his (1984) theory of causality, and has offered a revised theory which, he argues, is not open to those criticisms. The key change concerns the characterization of causal processes, where Salmon has traded "the capacity for mark transmission" for "the transmission of an invariant quantity." Salmon argues against the view presented in Dowe (1992c), namely that the concept of "possession of a conserved quantity" (...) is sufficient to account for the difference between causal and pseudo processes. Here that view is defended, and important questions are raised about the notion of transmission and about gerrymandered aggregates. (shrink)
Philosophers have long been fascinated by the connection between cause and effect: are 'causes' things we can experience, or are they concepts provided by our minds? The study of causation goes back to Aristotle, but resurged with David Hume and Immanuel Kant, and is now one of the most important topics in metaphysics. Most of the recent work done in this area has attempted to place causation in a deterministic, scientific, worldview. But what about the unpredictable and chancey world we (...) actually live in: can one theory of causation cover all instances of cause and effect? _Cause and Chance: Causation in an Indeterministic World _is a collection of specially written papers by world-class metaphysicians. Its focus is the problem facing the 'reductionist' approach to causation: the attempt to cover all types of causation, deterministic and indeterministic, with one basic theory. Contributors: Stephen Barker, Helen Beebee, Phil Dowe, Dorothy Edgington, Doug Ehring, Chris Hitchcock, Igal Kwart, Paul Noordhof, Murali Ramachandran and Michael Tooley. (shrink)
Considerable attention has focussed on the potential of indigenous agricultural knowledge for sustainable development. Drawing upon fieldwork on the soil and water management principles of rice farming systems in Senegambia, this paper examines the potential of the traditional system for a sustainable food security strategy. Problems with pumpirrigation are reviewed as well as previous efforts in swamp rice development. It is argued that sustainability depends on more than ecological factors and in particular, requires sensitivity to socio-economic parameters such as the (...) labor demands of the food security strategy, the sexual division of labor, and food pricing policies. (shrink)
Having lost 73% of its purchasing power and 42% of it gross national product since the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba faces a crisis with the modern agricultural system it had developed over the past 30 years. The response has been to put an alternative model into practice. The successes and problems associated with this model are discussed.
Experimental methods and conceptual confusion : philosophy, science, and what emotions really are -- To 'make our voices resonate' or 'to be silent'? : shame as fundamental ontology -- Emotion, cognition, and world -- Shame and world.
This chapter argues that dual-use emerging technologies are distributing unprecedented offensive capabilities to nonstate actors. To counteract this trend, some scholars have proposed that states become a little “less liberal” by implementing large-scale surveillance policies to monitor the actions of citizens. This is problematic, though, because the distribution of offensive capabilities is also undermining states’ capacity to enforce the rule of law. I will suggest that the only plausible escape from this conundrum, at least from our present vantage point, is (...) the creation of a “supersingleton” run by a friendly superintelligence, founded upon a “post-singularity social contract.” In making this argument, the present chapter offers a novel reason for prioritizing the “control problem,” i.e., the problem of ensuring that a greaterthan-human-level AI will positively enhance human well-being. (shrink)
The relation of ontological dependence or grounding, expressed by the terminology of separation and priority in substance, plays a central role in Aristotle’s Categories, Metaphysics, De Anima and elsewhere. The article discusses three current interpretations of this terminology. These are drawn along the lines of, respectively, modal-existential ontological dependence, essential ontological dependence, and grounding or metaphysical explanation. I provide an opinionated introduction to the topic, raising the main interpretative questions, laying out a few of the exegetical and philosophical options that (...) influence one’s reading, and locating questions of Aristotle scholarship within the discussion of ontological dependence and grounding in contemporary metaphysics. (shrink)
Individual substances are the ground of Aristotle’s ontology. Taking a liberal approach to existence, Aristotle accepts among existents entities in such categories other than substance as quality, quantity and relation; and, within each category, individuals and universals. As I will argue, individual substances are ontologically independent from all these other entities, while all other entities are ontologically dependent on individual substances. The association of substance with independence has a long history and several contemporary metaphysicians have pursued the connection. In this (...) chapter, I will discuss the intersection of these notions of substance and ontological dependence in Aristotle. I will canvass a few contemporary formulations of ontological dependence and discuss some of the interpretative difficulties in ascribing any of these formulations to Aristotle’s characterization of individual substances as ontologically independent. My aim is not to resolve fully these difficulties but to locate the topics of substance and independence relative to certain other controversies in Aristotle studies. However, I will sketch a position. In particular, elsewhere I have speculated that Aristotle is both a primitivist and a pluralist with respect to ontological dependence, and I will develop this line of interpretation a bit further later in the chapter. (shrink)
Both literalism, the view that mathematical objects simply exist in the empirical world, and fictionalism, the view that mathematical objects do not exist but are rather harmless fictions, have been both ascribed to Aristotle. The ascription of literalism to Aristotle, however, commits Aristotle to the unattractive view that mathematics studies but a small fragment of the physical world; and there is evidence that Aristotle would deny the literalist position that mathematical objects are perceivable. The ascription of fictionalism also faces a (...) difficult challenge: there is evidence that Aristotle would deny the fictionalist position that mathematics is false. I argue that, in Aristotle's view, the fiction of mathematics is not to treat what does not exist as if existing but to treat mathematical objects with an ontological status they lack. This form of fictionalism is consistent with holding that mathematics is true. (shrink)
The greatest existential threats to humanity stem from increasingly powerful advanced technologies. Yet the “risk potential” of such tools can only be realized when coupled with a suitable agent who; through error or terror; could use the tool to bring about an existential catastrophe. While the existential risk literature has provided many accounts of how advanced technologies might be misused and abused to cause unprecedented harm; no scholar has yet explored the other half of the agent-tool coupling; namely the agent. (...) This paper aims to correct this failure by offering a comprehensive overview of what we could call “agential riskology.” Only by studying the unique properties of different agential risk types can one acquire an accurate picture of the existential danger before us. (shrink)
A predicate logic typically has a heterogeneous semantic theory. Subjects and predicates have distinct semantic roles: subjects refer; predicates characterize. A sentence expresses a truth if the object to which the subject refers is correctly characterized by the predicate. Traditional term logic, by contrast, has a homogeneous theory: both subjects and predicates refer; and a sentence is true if the subject and predicate name one and the same thing. In this paper, I will examine evidence for ascribing to Aristotle the (...) view that subjects and predicates refer. If this is correct, then it seems that Aristotle, like the traditional term logician, problematically conflates predication and identity claims. I will argue that we can ascribe to Aristotle the view that both subjects and predicates refer, while holding that he would deny that a sentence is true just in case the subject and predicate name one and the same thing. In particular, I will argue that Aristotle's core semantic notion is not identity but the weaker relation of constitution. For example, the predication ‘All men are mortal’ expresses a true thought, in Aristotle's view, just in case the mereological sum of humans is a part of the mereological sum of mortals. (shrink)
Gordon Baker in his last decade published a series of papers (now collected in Baker 2004), which are revolutionary in their proposals for understanding of later Wittgenstein. Taking our lead from the first of those papers, on "perspicuous presentations," we offer new criticisms of 'elucidatory' readers of later Wittgenstein, such as Peter Hacker: we argue that their readings fail to connect with the radically therapeutic intent of the 'perspicuous presentation' concept, as an achievement-term, rather than a kind of 'objective' mapping (...) of a 'conceptual landscape.' Baker's Wittgenstein, far from being a 'language policeman' of the kind that often fails to influence mainstream philosophy, offers an alternative to the latent scientism of Wittgenstein's influential 'elucidatory' readers. (shrink)
This paper contributes towards a lay ethics of nanotechnology through an analysis of talk from focus groups designed to examine how laypeople grapple with the meaning of a technology ‘in-the-making’. We describe the content of lay ethical concerns before suggesting that this content can be understood as being structured by five archetypal narratives which underpin talk. These we term: ‘the rich get richer and the poor get poorer’; ‘kept in the dark’; ‘opening Pandora’s box’; ‘messing with nature’; and ‘be careful (...) what you wish for’. We further suggest that these narratives can be understood as sharing an emphasis on the ‘giftedness’ of life, and that together they are used to resist dominant technoscientific and Enlightenment narratives of control and mastery which are encapsulated by nanotechnology. (shrink)