Did you know that insects could be tried for criminal acts in pre-industrial Europe, that the dead could be executed, that statues could be subjected to public humiliation, or that it was widely accepted that corpses could return to life? What made reasonable, educated men and women behave in ways that seem utterly nonsensical to us today? Strange Histories presents for the first time a serious account of some of the most extraordinary occurrences of European history. Throughout the ages, people (...) have held ideas and events have taken place which have baffled later societies. Religious disbelievers were thought deserving of death, insects were occasionally excommunicated, studying the biology of angels was a legitimate activity, and the pursuit of personal happiness was considered rather misguided as a life strategy. Using case studies from the Middle Ages and the early modern period with some from the more recent past, this book provides fascinating insights into the world-view through the ages, and shows how such goings-on fitted in quite naturally with the "common sense" of the time. Explanations of these phenomena, riveting and ultimately rational, encourage further reflection on what really shapes our beliefs. In the light of history, can we be sure of the validity of our own ideas? How many of our own beliefs might no longer "make sense" a few centuries from now? (shrink)
Contemporary emphasis on creating culturally relevant and context specific knowledge increasingly drives researchers to conduct their work in settings outside their home country. This often requires researchers to build relationships with various stakeholders who may have a vested interest in the research. This case study examines the tension between relationship development with stakeholders and maintaining study integrity, in the context of potential harms, data credibility and cultural sensitivity. We describe an ethical breach in the conduct of global health research by (...) a arising from the ad-hoc participation of a community stakeholder external to the visiting research group. A framework for reflection is developed from a careful examination of underlying factors and presented with a discussion of consequences and mitigation measures. This framework aims to present lessons learned for researchers working abroad who might face similar situations in their work. (shrink)
During the past fifteen years, the relationship between literature and medical ethics has evolved from the occasional use of stories as a substitute for the traditional case study in medical ethics to the emergence of a narrative approach to ethical analysis and decision making. Thus far, literary theory has been more important to narrative medical ethics than have works of literature themselves. Perri Klass's novel Other Women's Children deserves special scrutiny, however, because an analysis of it demonstrates ways that a (...) narrative approach could enhance traditional philosophical and legal approaches to resolving ethical dilemmas in medicine. (shrink)
Recent years have witnessed a renewed interest in utopianism within educational theory. In this essay, Darren Webb explores the utopian pedagogy of Paulo Freire in the context of what one commentator has dubbed “the educational comeback of utopia.” Webb argues that Freire's significance lies in the way he embraced both “utopia as process” and “utopia as system.” This is significant because the contemporary rejuvenation of utopianism has extended only so far, embracing utopia conceived as an open‐ended process of becoming (...) but shying away from utopia conceived as the delineation of a normative vision to be struggled for and won. Webb outlines the pedagogical operation of utopia as process, cognitive‐affective orientation, and system, and he argues that Freire was right in insisting that each is constitutive of effective educational practice. (shrink)
What if you could, like a diamond forged through heat and pressure, transform every painful, scary, and stressful experience in your life into one that is meaningful, courageous, and inspiring? What if you were provided with the tools that allow you to tap and manifest the true power that exists within you--the power to shine? Are you ready to discover your path to peace? In this fascinating book, Dr. Darren Weissman shares ancient spiritual wisdom fused with a modern-day understanding (...) of the mind's relationship to biology and behavior that has implications not only for your health, but for the well-being of the entire planet. You'll learn how to use The LifeLine Technique Ô --a philosophy and technology for awakening your infinite potential for healing and wholeness--and share the experiences of scores of people whose lives have been forever changed as a result. Conscious visionaries pronounced more than 40 years ago that the road to peace is paved with the power of love. Dr. Weissman's book provides the steps you can use to learn to walk that path, and it will help you understand why it is your moral imperative to choose love over fear. (shrink)
Many who take a dismissive attitude towards metaphysics trace their view back to Carnap’s ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’. But the reason Carnap takes a dismissive attitude to metaphysics is a matter of controversy. I will argue that no reason is given in ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’, and this is because his reason for rejecting metaphysical debates was given in ‘Pseudo-Problems in Philosophy’. The argument there assumes verificationism, but I will argue that his argument survives the rejection of verificationism. The root (...) of his argument is the claim that metaphysical statements cannot be justified; the point is epistemic, not semantic. I will argue that this remains a powerful challenge to metaphysics that has yet to be adequately answered. (shrink)
Sometimes we learn what the world is like, and sometimes we learn where in the world we are. Are there any interesting differences between the two kinds of cases? The main aim of this article is to argue that learning where we are in the world brings into view the same kind of observation selection effects that operate when sampling from a population. I will first explain what observation selection effects are ( Section 1 ) and how they are relevant (...) to learning where we are in the world ( Section 2 ). I will show how measurements in the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics can be understood as learning where you are in the world via some observation selection effect ( Section 3 ). I will apply a similar argument to the Sleeping Beauty Problem ( Section 4 ) and explain what I take the significance of the analogy to be ( Section 5 ). Finally, I will defend the Restricted Principle of Indifference on which some of my arguments depend ( Section 6 ). (shrink)
How do temporal and eternal beliefs interact? I argue that acquiring a temporal belief should have no effect on eternal beliefs for an important range of cases. Thus, I oppose the popular view that new norms of belief change must be introduced for cases where the only change is the passing of time. I defend this position from the purported counter-examples of the Prisoner and Sleeping Beauty. I distinguish two importantly different ways in which temporal beliefs can be acquired and (...) draw some general conclusions about their impact on eternal beliefs. (shrink)
If an agent believes that the probability of E being true is 1/2, should she accept a bet on E at even odds or better? Yes, but only given certain conditions. This paper is about what those conditions are. In particular, we think that there is a condition that has been overlooked so far in the literature. We discovered it in response to a paper by Hitchcock (2004) in which he argues for the 1/3 answer to the Sleeping Beauty problem. (...) Hitchcock argues that this credence follows from calculating her fair betting odds, plus the assumption that Sleeping Beauty’s credences should track her fair betting odds. We will show that this last assumption is false. Sleeping Beauty’s credences should not follow her fair betting odds due to a peculiar feature of her epistemic situation. (shrink)
The independence problems for functionalism stem from the worry that if functional properties are defined in terms of their causes and effects then such functional properties seem to be too intimately connected to these purported causes and effects. I distinguish three different ways the independence problems can be filled out – in terms of necessary connections, analytic connections and vacuous explanations. I argue that none of these present serious problems. Instead, they bring out some important and over-looked features of functionalism.
We investigate the performance and risk of Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) equity funds in the Australian market and find no significant difference between the returns of SRI and conventional funds. In an extension to prior literature, we examine the impact of the number of positive, negative and total screens funds impose on performance and risk. We find little evidence of positive or negative screening impacting total return, but find weak evidence that funds with more screens overall provide better risk-adjusted performance. (...) Positive screening significantly reduces funds’ risk. However, negative screening significantly increases risk and reduces funds’ abilities to form diversified portfolios. (shrink)
Sober and Elgin defend the claim that there are a priori causal laws in biology. Lange and Rosenberg take issue with this on Humean grounds, among others. I will argue that Sober and Elgin don’t go far enough – there are a priori causal laws in many sciences. Furthermore, I will argue that this thesis is compatible with a Humean metaphysics and an empiricist epistemology.
The fine-tuning argument can be used to support the Many Universe hypothesis. The Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy objection seeks to undercut the support for the Many Universe hypothesis. The objection is that although the evidence that there is life somewhere confirms Many Universes, the specific evidence that there is life in this universe does not. I will argue that the Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy is not committed by the fine-tuning argument. The key issue is the procedure by which the universe with life (...) is selected for observation. Once we take account of the procedure, we find that the support for the Many Universe hypothesis remains. (shrink)
Darren Bradley has recently appealed to observation selection effects to argue that conditionalization presents no special problem for Everettian quantum mechanics, and to defend the ‘halfer’ answer to the puzzle of Sleeping Beauty. I assess Bradley’s arguments and conclude that while he is right about confirmation in Everettian quantum mechanics, he is wrong about Sleeping Beauty. This result is doubly good news for Everettians: they can endorse Bayesian confirmation theory without qualification, but they are not thereby compelled to adopt (...) the unpopular ‘halfer’ answer in Sleeping Beauty. These considerations suggest that objective chance is playing an important and under-appreciated role in Sleeping Beauty. 1 Introduction2 Confirmation in Everettian Quantum Mechanics3 Sleeping Beauty4 The Selection Model5 Bradley’s Argument6 The Right Route to ⅓7 The Breakdown of the Analogy8 Alternative Diagnoses9 God’s Gambling Game10 Non-chancy Sleeping Beauty Cases11 Conclusion. (shrink)
The dream-lag effect refers to there being, after the frequent incorporation of memory elements from the previous day into dreams , a lower incorporation of memory elements from 2 to 4 days before the dream, but then an increased incorporation of memory elements from 5 to 7 days before the dream. Participants kept a daily diary and a dream diary for 14 days and then rated the level of matching between every dream report and every daily diary record. Baseline matching (...) was assessed by comparing all dream reports to all diary records for days that occurred after the dream. A significant dream-lag effect for the 5–7 day period, compared to baseline and compared to the 2–4 day period, was found. This may indicate a memory processing function for sleep, which the dream content may reflect. Participants’ and three independent judges’ mean ratings also confirmed a significant day-residue effect. (shrink)
Carrie Jenkins (2005, 2008) has developed a theory of the a priori that she claims solves the problem of how justification regarding our concepts can give us justification regarding the world. She claims that concepts themselves can be justified, and that beliefs formed by examining such concepts can be justified a priori. I object that we can have a priori justified beliefs with unjustified concepts if those beliefs have no existential import. I then argue that only beliefs without existential import (...) can be justified a priori on the widely held conceptual approach. This limits the scope of the a priori and undermines arguments for essentialism. (shrink)
Jonathan Weisberg (2010 ) argues that, given that life exists, the fact that the universe is fine-tuned for life does not confirm the design hypothesis. And if the fact that life exists confirms the design hypothesis, fine-tuning is irrelevant. So either way, fine-tuning has nothing to do with it. I will defend a design argument that survives Weisberg’s critique — the fact that life exists supports the design hypothesis, but it only does so given fine-tuning.
Published in Darren Tofts, Annemarie Jonson, and Alessio Cavallaro (eds), _Prefiguring Cyberculture: an intellectual history_ (MIT Press and Power Publications, December 2002). Please do send comments: email me. Back to my main publications page . Back to my home page.
We give an analysis of the Monty Hall problem purely in terms of confirmation, without making any lottery assumptions about priors. Along the way, we show the Monty Hall problem is structurally identical to the Doomsday Argument.
Decision theory is concerned with how agents should act when the consequences of their actions are uncertain. The central principle of contemporary decision theory is that the rational choice is the choice that maximizes subjective expected utility. This entry explains what this means, and discusses the philosophical motivations and consequences of the theory. The entry will consider some of the main problems and paradoxes that decision theory faces, and some of responses that can be given. Finally the entry will briefly (...) consider how decision theory applies to choices involving more than one agent. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that whether or not a computer can be built that passes the Turing test is a central question in the philosophy of mind. Then I show that the possibility of building such a computer depends on open questions in the philosophy of computer science: the physical Church-Turing thesis and the extended Church-Turing thesis. I use the link between the issues identified in philosophy of mind and philosophy of computer science to respond to a prominent argument (...) against the possibility of building a machine that passes the Turing test. Finally, I respond to objections against the proposed link between questions in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of computer science. (shrink)
Colin Howson (1995 ) offers a counter-example to the rule of conditionalization. I will argue that the counter-example doesn't hit its target. The problem is that Howson mis-describes the total evidence the agent has. In particular, Howson overlooks how the restriction that the agent learn 'E and nothing else' interacts with the de se evidence 'I have learnt E'.
In Bradley, I offered an analysis of Sleeping Beauty and the Everettian interpretation of quantum mechanics. I argued that one can avoid a kind of easy confirmation of EQM by paying attention to observation selection effects, that halfers are right about Sleeping Beauty, and that thirders cannot avoid easy confirmation for the truth of EQM. Wilson agrees with my analysis of observation selection effects in EQM, but goes on to, first, defend Elga’s thirder argument on Sleeping Beauty and, second, argue (...) that the analogy I draw between Sleeping Beauty and EQM fails. I will argue that neither point succeeds. 1 Introduction2 Background3 Wilson’s Argument for ⅓ in Sleeping Beauty4 Reply: Explaining Away the Crazy5 Wilson's Argument for the Breakdown of the Analogy6 Reply: The Irrelevance of Chance7 Conclusion. (shrink)
The paper examines the ethics of electronic monitoring for advertising purposes and the implications for Internet user privacy using as a backdrop DoubleClick Incs recent controversy over matching previously anonymous user profiles with personally identifiable information. It explores various ethical theories that are applicable to understand privacy issues in electronic monitoring. It is argued that, despite the fact that electronic monitoring always constitutes an invasion of privacy, it can still be ethically justified on both Utilitarian and Kantian grounds. From a (...) Utilitarian perspective the emphasis must be on minimizing potential harms. From a Kantian perspective the emphasis must be on giving users complete information so that they can make informed decisions as to whether they are willing to be monitored. Considering the Internet advertising industrys current actions, computer users and government regulators would be well advised, both practically and ethically, to move to a user control model in electronic monitoring. (shrink)
It is widely acknowledged that hoping is an integral part of what it is to be human. The present article strives to make sense of the myriad competing conceptions of hope that have emerged over the past half-century. Two problems with the literature are highlighted. First, discussions of hope tend to take place within rather than between disciplines. Second, hope is often taken to be an undifferentiated experience. In order to address the first problem, the article takes an interdisciplinary approach, (...) drawing on research from the fields of philosophy, anthropology, psychology, theology and politics. In order to address the second problem, the article proposes that hope be regarded as a human universal that can be experienced in different modes. A variety of theories and models of hope are discussed, including those offered by Marcel, Dauenhauer, Bloch, Moltmann, Bovens, Pettit, Snyder, Rorty and Gutiérrez. While many of these claim to have identified the characteristics of hope, it is argued that each captures something about a particular mode of hoping. The theories and models are integrated into a framework comprising five modes of hoping: patient, critical, estimative, resolute and utopian. Examining hope in this way, as a human universal that can be experienced in different modes, may help us see the varying conceptions that presently exist within the human sciences not as conflicting, nor even as competing, but rather as complementary. (shrink)
The complex global business environment has created a host of problems for managers, none of which is more difficult to address than bullying in the workplace. The rapid rate of change and the everincreasing complexity of organizational environments of business throughout the world have increased the opportunity for bullying to occur more frequently. This article addresses the foundations of bullying by examining the nature' (i.e., bullying behavior influenced by the innate genetic make-up of an individual) and the nurture' (i.e., individuals (...) learn to be bullies and environments allow the behavior to perpetuate) arguments for the occurrence of bullying behavior. In addition, guidelines are presented for managers in global organizations to use in assessing and monitoring bullying activities in global organizations. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Turing’s responses to the mathematical objection are straightforward, despite recent claims to the contrary. I then go on to show that by understanding the importance of learning machines for Turing as related not to the mathematical objection, but to Lady Lovelace’s objection, we can better understand Turing’s response to Lady Lovelace’s objection. Finally, I argue that by understanding Turing’s responses to these objections more clearly, we discover a hitherto unrecognized, substantive thesis in his philosophical (...) thinking about the nature of mind. (shrink)
The main argument given for relevant alternatives theories of knowledge has been that they answer scepticism about the external world. I will argue that relevant alternatives also solve two other problems that have been much discussed in recent years, a) the bootstrapping problem and b) the apparent conflict between semantic externalism and armchair self-knowledge. Furthermore, I will argue that scepticism and Mooreanism can be embedded within the relevant alternatives framework.
Interpreting the world through a social lens is a central characteristic of human cognition. Humans ascribe intentions to the behaviors of other individuals and groups. Humans also make inferences about others’ emotional and mental states. This capacity for social attribution underlies many of the concepts at the core of legal and political systems. The developing scientific understanding of the neural mechanisms used in social attribution may alter many earlier suppositions. However, just as often, these new methods will lead back to (...) old conundrums. Cognitive neuroscience will not dispel the hard problems of social judgment. (shrink)