Normal 0 0 1 85 487 UBC 4 1 598 11.773 0 0 0 Under what conditions is the failure to have evidence that p evidence that p is false? Absent evidence reasoning is common in many sciences, including astronomy, archeology, biology and medicine. An often-repeated epistemological motto is that “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Analysis of absent evidence reasoning usually takes place in a deductive or frequentist hypothesis-testing framework. Instead, I develop a Bayesian analysis of (...) this motto and prove that, under plausible assumptions about the nature of evidence, the absence of evidence is evidence of absence. (shrink)
In the remainder of this article, we will disarm an important motivation for epistemic contextualism and interest-relative invariantism. We will accomplish this by presenting a stringent test of whether there is a stakes effect on ordinary knowledge ascription. Having shown that, even on a stringent way of testing, stakes fail to impact ordinary knowledge ascription, we will conclude that we should take another look at classical invariantism. Here is how we will proceed. Section 1 lays out some limitations of previous (...) research on stakes. Section 2 presents our study and concludes that there is little evidence for a substantial stakes effect. Section 3 responds to objections. The conclusion clears the way for classical invariantism. (shrink)
Does the Ship of Theseus present a genuine puzzle about persistence due to conflicting intuitions based on “continuity of form” and “continuity of matter” pulling in opposite directions? Philosophers are divided. Some claim that it presents a genuine puzzle but disagree over whether there is a solution. Others claim that there is no puzzle at all since the case has an obvious solution. To assess these proposals, we conducted a cross-cultural study involving nearly 3,000 people across twenty-two countries, speaking eighteen (...) different languages. Our results speak against the proposal that there is no puzzle at all and against the proposal that there is a puzzle but one that has no solution. Our results suggest that there are two criteria—“continuity of form” and “continuity of matter”— that constitute our concept of persistence and these two criteria receive different weightings in settling matters concerning persistence. (shrink)
Recently, several philosophers have challenged the view that evolutionary theory is usefully understood by way of an analogy with Newtonian mechanics. Instead, they argue that evolutionary theory is merely a statistical theory. According to this alternate approach, natural selection and random genetic drift are not even causes, much less forces. I argue that, properly understood, the Newtonian analogy is unproblematic and illuminating. I defend the view that selection and drift are causes in part by attending to a pair of important (...) distinctions—that between process and product and that between natural selection and fitness. (shrink)
As every philosopher knows, “the design argument” concludes that God exists from premisses that cite the adaptive complexity of organisms or the lawfulness and orderliness of the whole universe. Since 1859, it has formed the intellectual heart of creationist opposition to the Darwinian hypothesis that organisms evolved their adaptive features by the mindless process of natural selection. Although the design argument developed as a defense of theism, the logic of the argument in fact encompasses a larger set of issues. William (...) Paley saw clearly that we sometimes have an excellent reason to postulate the existence of an intelligent designer. If we find a watch on the heath, we reasonably infer that it was produced by an intelligent watchmaker. This design argument makes perfect sense. Why is it any different to claim that the eye was produced by an intelligent designer? Both critics and defenders of the design argument need to understand what the ground rules are for inferring that an intelligent designer is the unseen cause of an observed effect. (shrink)
This article examines whether people share the Gettier intuition in 24 sites, located in 23 countries and across 17 languages. We also consider the possible influence of gender and personality on this intuition with a very large sample size. Finally, we examine whether the Gettier intuition varies across people as a function of their disposition to engage in “reflective” thinking.
Several philosophers have argued that natural selection will favor reliable belief formation; others have been more skeptical. These traditional approaches to the evolution of rationality have been either too sketchy or else have assumed that phenotypic plasticity can be equated with having a mind. Here I develop a new model to explore the functional utility of belief and desire formation mechanisms, and defend the claim that natural selection favors reliable inference methods in a broad, but not universal, range of circumstances.
In various places we have defended the position that a new human organism, that is, an individual member of the human species, comes to be at fertilization, the union of the spermatozoon and the oocyte. This individual organism, during the ordinary course of embryological development, remains the same individual and does not undergo any further substantial change, unless monozygotic twinning, or some form of chimerism occurs. Recently, in this Journal Jason Morris has challenged our position, claiming that recent findings in (...) reproductive and stem cell biology have falsified our view. He objects to our claim that a discernible substantial change occurs at conception, giving rise to the existence of a new individual of the human species. In addition, he objects to our claim that the embryo is an individual, a unified whole that persists through various changes, and thus something other than a mere aggregate of cells. Morris raises a number of objections to these claims. However, we will show that his arguments overlook key data and confuse biological, metaphysical, and ethical questions. As a result, his attempts to rebut our arguments fail. (shrink)
Since at least Hume and Kant, philosophers working on the nature of aesthetic judgment have generally agreed that common sense does not treat aesthetic judgments in the same way as typical expressions of subjective preferences—rather, it endows them with intersubjective validity, the property of being right or wrong regardless of disagreement. Moreover, this apparent intersubjective validity has been taken to constitute one of the main explananda for philosophical accounts of aesthetic judgment. But is it really the case that most people (...) spontaneously treat aesthetic judgments as having intersubjective validity? In this paper, we report the results of a cross‐cultural study with over 2,000 respondents spanning 19 countries. Despite significant geographical variations, these results suggest that most people do not treat their own aesthetic judgments as having intersubjective validity. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for theories of aesthetic judgment and the purpose of aesthetics in general. (shrink)
Biologists rely extensively on the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma game to model reciprocal altruism. After examining the informal conditions necessary for reciprocal altruism, I argue that formal games besides the standard iterated Prisoner's Dilemma meet these conditions. One alternate representation, the modified Prisoner's Dilemma game, removes a standard but unnecessary condition; the other game is what I call a Cook's Dilemma. We should explore these new models of reciprocal altruism because they predict different stability characteristics for various strategies; for instance, I (...) show that strategies such as Tit-for-Tat have different stability dynamics in these alternate models. (shrink)
Ernst Fehr and his collaborators have argued that traditional explanations of human cooperation cannot account for strong reciprocity. They provide substantial empirical evidence that strong reciprocity is an important phenomenon that cannot be explained by the traditional models of kin selection or reciprocal altruism. In this note, however, I argue that it will be di cult to test speci c adaptive explanations of strong reciprocity because it is apparently unique to humans. Consequently, it is di cult to employ the comparative (...) method, which is one of biology's best tools for testing adaptationist claims. (shrink)
This paper will argue for a conception of intrinsic value which, it is hoped, will do justice to the following issues: that Nature need not and should not be understood to refer only to what exists on this planet, Earth; that an environmental ethics informed by features unique to Earth may be misleading and prove inadequate as technology increasingly threatens to invade and colonize other planets in the solar system; that a comprehensive environmental ethics must encompass not only our attitude (...) to Earth, but to other planets as well—in other words, it must not simply be an Earthbound but virtually an astronomically bounded ethics. (shrink)
The following brief memoir of Wittgenstein needs a few preliminary words of explanation. Among those who attended his lectures and discussions in the years it covers was D. G. James, who later became Professor of English at Bristol University and then Vice-Chancellor of Southampton University. I met him both in Bristol and Southampton, and on one occasion suggested to him that some of us who had known Wittgenstein, but who had not become professional philosophers, might write down our recollections of (...) him, and that he and I should start. What prompted the suggestion was, I think, the publication of Norman Malcolm's book, and a feeling that the non-professionals might have something to contribute to the assessment of Wittgenstein, particularly as a person. I wrote a preliminary draft and sent it to James; but he never responded, there was much else to do, I let the matter rest, and now James is dead. I wrote in about the year 1960 on holiday and away from any books of reference and from my own notes of Wittgenstein's lectures and conversations. I have shown the typescript to a few interested people, but because of its preliminary and unfinished nature have not previously thought of publication. It has recently been suggested to me that it might be of more general interest, and I publish it now as it was written, with one or two trifling alterations. I am well aware of its limitations. It was intended to give an impression of Wittgenstein as a person rather than as a philosopher, and the rather miscellaneous collection of remarks in section 3 have that in view rather than any more strictly ‘philosophical’ intention. Others may well question some of the detail and disagree with some of the opinions expressed. And there are some things which I might put rather differently today. But if the memoir has any interest it is best left as it was written. (shrink)
More than 2,200 years have passed since a group of sober people gathered in a covered colonnade, or stoa, in the marketplace of Athens to discuss the good life – a life of virtue and honor. They became known as Stoics, and their ancient creed is enjoying a renaissance today in, of all things, popular culture.
I have argued that substance ontology cannot be used to determine the moral status of embryos. Patrick Lee, Christopher Tollefsen, and Robert George wrote a Reply to those arguments in this Journal. In that Reply, Lee, Tollefsen, and George defended and clarified their position that their substance ontology arguments prove that the zygote and the adult into which it develops are the same entity that share the same essence. Here, I show the following: Even using the substance ontology framework (...) to which Lee, Tollefsen, and George subscribe, we cannot know when in development substance changes cease. Substance ontology cannot therefore be used to assign moral status to embryos. The Lee, Tollefsen, and George substance ontology framework should not be applied to the study of development or to biological discourse in general, because this framework depends on premises that do not apply. (shrink)