: While thought experiments play an important role in contemporary analytic philosophy, much remains unclear about thought experiments. In particular, it is still unclear whether the judgments elicited by thought experiments can provide evidence for the premises of philosophical arguments. This article argues that, if an influential and promising view about the nature of the judgments elicited by thought experiments is correct, then many thought experiments in philosophy fail to provide any evidence for the premises of philosophical arguments.
Over recent years, the psychology of concepts has been rejuvenated by new work on prototypes, inventive ideas on causal cognition, the development of neo-empiricist theories of concepts, and the inputs of the budding neuropsychology of concepts. But our empirical knowledge about concepts has yet to be organized in a coherent framework. -/- In Doing without Concepts, Edouard Machery argues that the dominant psychological theories of concepts fail to provide such a framework and that drastic conceptual changes are required to (...) make sense of the research on concepts in psychology and neuropsychology. Machery shows that the class of concepts divides into several distinct kinds that have little in common with one another and that for this very reason, it is a mistake to attempt to encompass all known phenomena within a single theory of concepts. In brief, concepts are not a natural kind. Machery concludes that the theoretical notion of concept should be eliminated from the theoretical apparatus of contemporary psychology and should be replaced with theoretical notions that are more appropriate for fulfilling psychologists' goals. The notion of concept has encouraged psychologists to believe that a single theory of concepts could be developed, leading to useless theoretical controversies between the dominant paradigms of concepts. Keeping this notion would slow down, and maybe prevent, the development of a more adequate classification and would overshadow the theoretical and empirical issues that are raised by this more adequate classification. Anyone interested in cognitive science's emerging view of the mind will find Machery's provocative ideas of interest. (shrink)
In Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds, Edouard Machery argues that resolving many traditional and contemporary philosophical issues is beyond our epistemic reach and that philosophy should re-orient itself toward more humble, but ultimately more important intellectual endeavors, such as the analysis of concepts.
Recent experimental ﬁ ndings by Knobe and others ( Knobe, 2003; Nadelhoffer, 2006b; Nichols and Ulatowski, 2007 ) have been at the center of a controversy about the nature of the folk concept of intentional action. I argue that the signiﬁ cance of these ﬁ ndings has been overstated. My discussion is two-pronged. First, I contend that barring a consensual theory of conceptual competence, the signiﬁ cance of these experimental ﬁ ndings for the nature of the concept of intentional action (...) cannot be determined. Unfortunately, the lack of progress in the philosophy of concepts casts doubt on whether such a consensual theory will be found. Second, I propose a new, deﬂ ationary interpretation of these experimental ﬁ ndings, ‘ the trade-off hypothesis ’ , and I present several new experimental ﬁ ndings that support this interpretation. (shrink)
Purpose. The purpose of the study is to outline the links between individual and collective dimensions of the human worldview. This purpose requires solving two tasks: to update philosophical ideas formed by reflection on human and community worldview; to identify and generalize the relationship of singular and general in the context of the problem of human worldview. Theoretical basis. The study is based on philosophical reflections about manifestations of singular and general worldviews. Such reflections appeared in European philosophy quite a (...) long time ago. Ukrainian and foreign philosophical discourse considers both measures of the worldview. And a role of the carrier of worldview plays either human or society. We can see that in researches of S. Krymskyi, I. Nadolniy, V. Popov, N. Rozhanska, V. Tabachkovskyi, V. Shynkaruk, V. Poythress, D. Rousseau, D. Billingham, C. Gianolla and others. However the links between individual and collective dimensions of worldview are not clearly outlined. It is possible to note the research of V. Popov who focuses on the problem of socio-collective and individual dimensions of worldview. But the scientist focuses more on the use of the concept of worldview in these two meanings. Human as a social being interacts with worldviews of other individuals. That is why we can speak of two dimensions of the worldview function: individual and collective. This problem became topical due to acuteness of the links between human and society in modern life. Originality. The author outlined key links between individual and collective dimensions of human worldview functioning. The study identified a role of human as a carrier of the worldview in formation of collective worldview. Conclusions. Human as a worldview carrier plays a key role in formation of collective worldview. In philosophical discourse thoughts about links between individual and collective worldviews are different and sometimes conflicting. We have a discussion problem of uniformity and diversity of collective worldview. Collective worldview is showed as a circulation of different ideas and views of individuals. But collective worldview is showed as a whole system of individual views too. Collective worldview manifests as integrated phenomenon because it is based on common worldviews of individuals. At the same time the human is influenced by collective worldview in particularly as a past generation heritage. (shrink)
Many philosophers hold that experts’ semantic intuitions are more reliable and provide better evidence than lay people’s intuitions—a thesis commonly called “the Expertise Defense.” Focusing on the intuitions about the reference of proper names, this article critically assesses the Expertise Defense.
Experimental philosophy is one of the most active and exciting areas in philosophy today. In Current Controversies in Experimental Philosophy, Elizabeth O’Neill and Edouard Machery have brought together twelve leading philosophers to debate four topics central to recent research in experimental philosophy. The result is an important and enticing contribution to contemporary philosophy which thoroughly reframes traditional philosophical questions in light of experimental philosophers’ use of empirical research methods, and brings to light the lively debates within experimental philosophers’ intellectual (...) community. Two papers are dedicated to the following four topics:
Language (Edouard Machery & Genoveva Martí)
Consciousness (Brian Fala, Adam Arico, and Shaun Nicols & Justin Sytsma)
Free Will and Responsibility (Joshua Knobe & Eddy Nahmias and Morgan Thompson)
Epistemology and the Reliability of Intuitions (Kenneth Boyd and Jennifer Nagel & Joshua Alexander and Jonathan Weinberg).
Preliminary descriptions of each chapter, annotated bibliographies for each controversy, and a supplemental guide to further controversies in experimental philosophy (with bibliographies) help provide clearer and richer views of these live controversies for all readers.
Reverse inference is the most commonly used inferential strategy for bringing images of brain activation to bear on psychological hypotheses, but its inductive validity has recently been questioned. In this article, I show that, when it is analyzed in likelihoodist terms, reverse inference does not suffer from the problems highlighted in the recent literature, and I defend the appropriateness of treating reverse inference in these terms. 1 Introduction2 Reverse Inference3 Reverse Inference Defended3.1 Typical reverse inferences are fallacious3.2 No quick and (...) easy fix3.3 A likelihoodist defense of reverse inference3.4 An example4 Appropriateness of the Likelihoodist Approach4.1 Likelihoodist reverse inference is not applicable4.2 Cognitive neuroscientists are not interested in comparative conclusions4.3 Reverse inference and negative hypotheses4.4 Likelihoodist reverse inference may confuse cognitive neuroscientists4.5 Bayesian reverse inferences should be preferred to likelihoodist reverse inferences5 Conclusion. (shrink)
We have recently presented evidence for cross-cultural variation in semantic intuitions and explored the implications of such variation for philosophical arguments that appeal to some theory of reference as a premise. Devitt (2011) and Ichikawa and colleagues (forthcoming) offer critical discussions of the experiment and the conclusions that can be drawn from it. In this response, we reiterate and clarify what we are really arguing for, and we show that most of Devitt’s and Ichikawa and colleagues’ criticisms fail to address (...) our concerns. (shrink)
The title and blurb suggest that this book makes a case for eliminating concepts. The suggestion is misleading, however. What Machery really does is multiply them.Here is his characterization of what concepts are. He says that a concept is ‘a body of knowledge about x that is stored in long-term memory and that is used by default in the processes underlying most, if not all, higher cognitive competences when these processes result in judgements about x’. He holds that people represent (...) categories through exemplars, prototypes and theories, that these types of representations really exist, and that they all count as concepts according to the above characterization.Machery offers an interesting new take on the concept research undertaken by cognitive psychologists over the past three or four decades. Psychology textbooks tend to classify the main theories of concepts as follows. They draw a contrast between the ‘classical definition’ theory and late 20th century ‘probabilistic’ theories. They distinguish, within the probabilistic camp, between ‘prototype-based’ theories and ‘exemplar-based’ theories, and they admit a further family of ‘theory–theories’, according to which a concept of x is a mini-theory about x. Within each camp, different specific …. (shrink)
Theories of reference have been central to analytic philosophy, and two views, the descriptivist view of reference and the causal-historical view of reference, have dominated the field. In this research tradition, theories of reference are assessed by consulting one’s intuitions about the reference of terms in hypothetical situations. However, recent work in cultural psychology (e.g., Nisbett et al. 2001) has shown systematic cognitive differences between East Asians and Westerners, and some work indicates that this extends to intuitions about philosophical cases (...) (Weinberg et al. 2001). In light of these findings on cultural differences, two experiments were conducted which explored intuitions about reference in Westerners and East Asians. Both experiments indicate that, for certain central cases, Westerners are more likely than East Asians to report intuitions that are consistent with the causal-historical view. These results constitute prima facie evidence that semantic intuitions vary from culture to culture, and the paper argues that this fact raises questions about the nature of the philosophical enterprise of developing a theory of reference. (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)
In The Architecture of the Mind, Carruthers proposes a new and detailed explanation for how human cognition could be both flexible and massively modular. The combinatorial nature of our linguistic faculty and our capacity to engage in inner speech are the cornerstones of this new explanation. Despite the ingenuity of this proposal, I argue that Carruthers has failed to explain how a massively modular mind could display the flexibility that is characteristic of human thought.
In this article, I argue that philosophers’ intuitions about reference are not more reliable than lay people’s and that intuitions about the reference of proper names and uses of proper names provide equally good evidence for theories of reference.
Although cognitive scientists have learned a lot about concepts, their findings have yet to be organized in a coherent theoretical framework. In addition, after twenty years of controversy, there is little sign that philosophers and psychologists are converging toward an agreement about the very nature of concepts. Doing without Concepts (Machery 2009) attempts to remedy this state of affairs. In this article, I review the main points and arguments developed at greater length in Doing without Concepts.
In this article, we present evidence that in four different cultural groups that speak quite different languages there are cases of justified true beliefs that are not judged to be cases of knowledge. We hypothesize that this intuitive judgment, which we call “the Gettier intuition,” may be a reflection of an underlying innate and universal core folk epistemology, and we highlight the philosophical significance of its universality.
A permissivist framework is developed to include images in the reconstruction of the evidential base and of the theoretical content. The paper uses Newton’s optical theory as a case study to discuss mathematical idealizations and depictions of experiments, together with textual correlates of diagrams. Instead of assuming some specific type of theoretical content, focus is on novel traits that are delineable when studying the carriers of a theory. The framework is developed to trace elliptic and ambiguous message design, and utilizes (...) variegated acceptance as an asset. Newton’s resources allowed for various framing modes and reconstructions, entailing various judgements concerning the theoretical content, the evidence base, and Newton’s use of mathematics. Elliptic presentation of the theory’s proof-structure and ambiguities influenced uptake, contributed to the process of opinion-polarization, and the acceptance/rejection of the theory. The study suggests that the analysed carriers of theoretical content have an argumentative function, and one of their uses is to adjust the burden of proof. (shrink)
This book puts forward a new role for mathematics in the natural sciences. In the traditional understanding, a strong viewpoint is advocated, on the one hand, according to which mathematics is used for truthfully expressing laws of nature and thus for rendering the rational structure of the world. In a weaker understanding, many deny that these fundamental laws are of an essentially mathematical character, and suggest that mathematics is merely a convenient tool for systematizing observational knowledge. The position developed in (...) this volume combines features of both the strong and the weak viewpoint. In accordance with the former, mathematics is assigned an active and even shaping role in the sciences, but at the same time, employing mathematics as a tool is taken to be independent from the possible mathematical structure of the objects under consideration. Hence the tool perspective is contextual rather than ontological. Furthermore, tool-use has to respect conditions like suitability, efficacy, optimality, and others. There is a spectrum of means that will normally differ in how well they serve particular purposes. The tool perspective underlines the inevitably provisional validity of mathematics: any tool can be adjusted, improved, or lose its adequacy upon changing practical conditions. (shrink)
This article critically examines the contemporary resurgence of empiricism (or “neo-empiricism”) in philosophy, psychology, neuropsychology, and artificial intelligence. This resurgence is an important and positive development. It is the first time that this centuries-old empiricist approach to cognition is precisely formulated in the context of cognitive science and neuroscience. Moreover, neo-empiricists have made several findings that challenge amodal theories of concepts and higher cognition. It is argued, however, that the theoretical foundations of and the empirical evidence for neo-empiricism are not (...) as strong as is usually claimed by its proponents. The empirical evidence for and against neo-empiricism is discussed in detail. (shrink)
Theories of reference have been central to analytic philosophy, and two views, the descriptivist view of reference and the causal-historical view of reference, have dominated the field. In this research tradition, theories of reference are assessed by consulting one's intuitions about the reference of terms in hypothetical situations. However, recent work in cultural psychology has shown systematic differences between East Asians and Westerners, and some work indicates that this extends to intuitions about philosophical cases. In light of these findings on (...) cultural differences, two experiments were conducted which explored intuitions about reference in Westerners and East Asians. Both experiments indicate that, for certain central cases, Westerners are more likely than East Asians to report intuitions that are consistent with the causal-historical view. These results constitute prima facie evidence that semantic intuitions vary from culture to culture, and that paper argues that this fact raises questions about the nature of the philosophical enterprise of developing a theory of reference. (shrink)
We examined the affective consequences of everyday attention lapses and memory failures. Significant associations were found between self-report measures of attention lapses , attention-related cognitive errors , and memory failures , on the one hand, and boredom and depression , on the other. Regression analyses confirmed previous findings that the ARCES partially mediates the relation between the MAAS-LO and MFS. Further regression analyses also indicated that the association between the ARCES and BPS was entirely accounted for by the MAAS-LO and (...) MFS, as was that between the ARCES and BDI-II. Structural modeling revealed the associations to be optimally explained by the MAAS-LO and MFS influencing the BPS and BDI-II, contrary to current conceptions of attention and memory problems as consequences of affective dysfunction. A lack of conscious awareness of one’s actions, signaled by the propensity to experience brief lapses of attention and related memory failures, is thus seen as having significant consequences in terms of long-term affective well-being. (shrink)
In several disciplines within science—evolutionary biology, molecular biology, astrobiology, synthetic biology, artificial life—and outside science—primarily ethics—efforts to define life have recently multiplied. However, no consensus has emerged. In this article, I argue that this is no accident. I propose a dilemma showing that the project of defining life is either impossible or pointless. The notion of life at stake in this project is either the folk concept of life or a scientific concept. In the former case, empirical evidence shows that (...) life cannot be defined. In the latter case, I argue that, although defining life may be possible, it is pointless. I conclude that scientists, philosophers, and ethicists should discard the project of defining life. (shrink)
I am grateful for Joshua Alexander and Jonathan Weinberg’s, Avner Baz’s and Max Deutsch’s insightful comments on Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds. I have learned a lot thinking about them, identifying points of convergence and places where differences remain unbridgeable and trying to address the most pressing criticisms. In what follows, I will engage their commentaries in turn.
Moral philosophers and psychologists often assume that people judge morally lucky and morally unlucky agents differently, an assumption that stands at the heart of the Puzzle of Moral Luck. We examine whether the asymmetry is found for reflective intuitions regarding wrongness, blame, permissibility, and punishment judg- ments, whether people’s concrete, case-based judgments align with their explicit, abstract principles regarding moral luck, and what psychological mechanisms might drive the effect. Our experiments produce three findings: First, in within-subjects experiments favorable to reflective (...) deliberation, the vast majority of people judge a lucky and an unlucky agent as equally blameworthy, and their actions as equally wrong and permissible. The philosophical Puzzle of Moral Luck, and the challenge to the very possibility of systematic ethics it is frequently taken to engender, thus simply do not arise. Second, punishment judgments are significantly more outcome- dependent than wrongness, blame, and permissibility judgments. While this constitutes evidence in favor of current Dual Process Theories of moral judgment, the latter need to be qualified: punishment and blame judgments do not seem to be driven by the same process, as is commonly argued in the literature. Third, in between-subjects experiments, outcome has an effect on all four types of moral judgments. This effect is mediated by negligence ascriptions and can ultimately be explained as due to differing probability ascriptions across cases. (shrink)
It is common in various quarters of philosophy to derive philosophically significant conclusions from theories of reference. In this paper, we argue that philosophers should give up on such 'arguments from reference.' Intuitions play a central role in establishing theories of reference, and recent cross-cultural work suggests that intuitions about reference vary across cultures and between individuals within a culture (Machery et al. 2004). We argue that accommodating this variation within a theory of reference undermines arguments from reference.
Do philosophers and ordinary people conceive of subjective experience in the same way? In this article, we argue that they do not and that the philosophical concept of phenomenal consciousness does not coincide with the folk conception. We first offer experimental support for the hypothesis that philosophers and ordinary people conceive of subjective experience in markedly different ways. We then explore experimentally the folk conception, proposing that for the folk, subjective experience is closely linked to valence. We conclude by considering (...) the implications of our findings for a central issue in the philosophy of mind, the hard problem of consciousness. (shrink)
Machery et al. (2004) reported some preliminary evidence that intuitions about reference vary within and across cultures, and they argued that if real, such variation would have significant philosophical implications (see also Mallon et al. 2009). In a recent article, Genoveva Martı´ (2009) argues that the type of intuitions examined by Machery and colleagues (‘metalin- 10 guistic intuitions’) is evidentially irrelevant for identifying the correct theory of reference, and she concludes that the variation in the relevant intuitions about reference within (...) and across cultures has not been established. (shrink)
This article examines whether people share the Gettier intuition (viz. that someone who has a true justified belief that p may nonetheless fail to know that p) in 24 sites, located in 23 countries (counting Hong-Kong as a distinct country) 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. (shrink)
The proposal that the concept of innateness expresses a 'folk biological' theory of the 'inner natures' of organisms was tested by examining the response of biologically naive participants to a series of realistic scenarios concerning the development of birdsong. Our results explain the intuitive appeal of existing philosophical analyses of the innateness concept. They simultaneously explain why these analyses are subject to compelling counterexamples. We argue that this explanation undermines the appeal of these analyses, whether understood as analyses of the (...) vernacular concept or as explications of that concept for the purposes of science. (shrink)
Abstract It is argued that psychological explanations involve psychological generalizations that exhibit the same features as laws of physics. On the basis of the ?systematic theory of lawhood?, characteristic features of laws of nature are elaborated. Investigating some examples of explanations taken from cognitive psychology shows that these features can also be identified in psychological generalizations. Particular attention is devoted to the notion of ?ccteris?paribus laws?. It is argued that laws of psychology are indeed ceteris?paribus laws. However, this feature does (...) not distinguish them from the laws of physics, because such laws are found in physics as well. Moreover, the laws invoked in psychological explanations are genuine laws of psychology; they are not laws of other disciplines that are brought to bear on psychological problems. The conclusion is that if there are laws of physics then laws of psychology exist as well. (shrink)
Ah, emojis ☺. Some enthusiastically speak of them as a new universal language. In 2015, the Oxford English dictionary crowned one of them as its word of the year. Sixty million are exchanged daily on Facebook. Along with emoticons and various other smileys, emojis are now part of daily communications. Visual add-ons or superscript, they are meant to indicate intent or add emotions to written messages, which do not benefit from the tone or body language of the interlocutor. As such, (...) they present themselves as tools for clarification, but one can wonder if they do not, too, introduce uncertainty in language. Aimed at barristers as well as jurilinguists, this paper seeks to underline some design and perception biases that can hinder communication, with a focus on rules of evidence and legal methodology. Empirically rooted in Canadian case law, the findings resonate in other jurisdictions, as emojis, indeed, are a global phenomenon. (shrink)
Machery et al. reported some preliminary evidence that intuitions about reference vary within and across cultures, and they argued that if real, such variation would have significant philosophical implications. In a recent article, Genoveva Martí argues that the type of intuitions examined by Machery and colleagues is evidentially irrelevant for identifying the correct theory of reference, and she concludes that the variation in the relevant intuitions about reference within and across cultures has not been established.To substantiate this criticism, Martí draws (...) a distinction between two types of intuitions: metalinguistic intuitions and what we will call ‘linguistic’ intuitions. Metalinguistic intuitions are judgements about the semantic properties of mentioned words, while, if we understand Martí correctly, linguistic intuitions are judgements about the individuals described in the actual and possible cases used by philosophers of language. These judgements would be expressed by sentences using words rather than mentioning them. An example might clarify this distinction. In Kripke's Gödel case, the judgement that the proper name ‘Gödel’ refers to Gödel and not to Schmidt is a metalinguistic intuition, since it is about the reference of the proper name ‘Gödel’; by contrast, the judgement that in this case Gödel should not have claimed credit for the incompleteness theorem is a linguistic intuition. Because Martí holds that only linguistic intuitions provide evidence for determining how reference is fixed and because Machery and colleagues used a question that elicited metalinguistic intuitions, she concludes that the variation in the relevant intuitions about reference …. (shrink)
Grau and Pury (Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 5, 155–168, 2014) reported that people’s views about love are related to their views about reference. This surprising effect was however not replicated in Cova et al.’s (in press) replication study. In this article, we show that the replication failure is probably due to the replication’s low power and that a metaanalytic reanalysis of the result in Cova et al. suggests that the effect reported in Grau and Pury is real. We then (...) report a large, highly powered replication that successfully replicates Grau and Pury 2014. This successful replication is a case study in the challenges involved in replicating scientific work, and our article contributes to the discussion of these challenges. (shrink)
Philosophers of biology, such as David Hull and Michael Ghiselin, have argued that the notion of human nature is incompatible with modern evolutionary biology and they have recommended rejecting this notion. In this article, I rebut this argument: I show that an important notion of human nature is compatible with modern evolutionary biology.