The recent, influential Social Intuitionist Model of moral judgment (Haidt, Psychological Review 108, 814–834, 2001) proposes a primary role for fast, automatic and affectively charged moral intuitions in the formation of moral judgments. Haidt’s research challenges our normative conception of ourselves as agents capable of grasping and responding to reasons. We argue that there can be no ‘real’ moral judgments in the absence of a capacity for reflective shaping and endorsement of moral judgments. However, we suggest that the empirical literature (...) indicates a complex interplay between automatic and deliberative mental processes in moral judgment formation, with the latter constraining the expression and influence of moral intuitions. We therefore conclude that the psychological literature supports a normative conception of agency. (shrink)
According to Haidt's (2001) social intuitionist model (SIM), an individual's moral judgment normally arises from automatic 'moral intuitions'. Private moral reasoning - when it occurs - is biased and post hoc, serving to justify the moral judgment determined by the individual's intuitions. It is argued here, however, that moral reasoning is not inevitably subserviant to moral intuitions in the formation of moral judgments. Social cognitive research shows that moral reasoning may sometimes disrupt the automatic process of judgment formation described by (...) the SIM. Furthermore, it seems that automatic judgments may reflect the 'automatization' of judgment goals based on prior moral reasoning. In line with this role for private moral reasoning in judgment formation, it is argued that moral reasoning can, under the right circumstances, be sufficiently unbiased to effectively challenge an individual's moral beliefs. Thus the social cognitive literature indicates a greater and more direct role for private moral reasoning than the SIM allows. (shrink)
We have argued here that to attribute criminal responsibility to psychopathic individuals is to ignore substantial and growing evidence that psychopathic individuals are significantly impaired in moral understanding. They do not appear to know why moral transgressions are wrong in the full sense required by the law. As morally blameless offenders, punishment as a basis for detention cannot be justified. Moreover, as there are currently no successful treatment programs for psychopathy, nor can detention be justified on grounds of treatment. Instead, (...) we argue detention on the grounds of self- defence, due to the severe and continuing threat posed by the psychopathic criminal. (shrink)
The neuroscientific investigation of sex differences has an unsavoury past, in which scientific claims reinforced and legitimated gender roles in ways that were not scientifically justified. Feminist critics have recently argued that the current use of functional neuroimaging technology in sex differences research largely follows that tradition. These charges of ‘neurosexism’ have been countered with arguments that the research being done is informative and valuable and that an over-emphasis on the perils, rather than the promise, of such research threatens to (...) hinder scientific progress. To investigate the validity of these contrasting concerns, recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) investigations of sex differences and citation practices were systematically examined. In line with the notion of neurosexism, the research was found to support the influence of false-positive claims of sex differences in the brain, to enable the proliferation of untested, stereotype-consistent functional interpretations, and to pay insufficient attention to the potential plasticity of sex differences in both brain and mind. This, it is argued, creates a literature biased toward the presentation of sex differences in the brain as extensive, functionally significant, and fixed—and therefore implicitly supportive of a gender essentialist perspective. It is suggested that taking feminist criticisms into account would bring about substantial improvement in the quality of the science, as well as a reduction in socially harmful consequences. (shrink)
In this article I flesh out support for observations that scientific accounts of social groups can influence the very groups and mental phenomena under investigation. The controversial hypothesis that there are hardwired differences between the brains of males and females that contribute to sex differences in gender-typed behaviour is common in both the scientific and popular media. Here I present evidence that such claims, quite independently of their scientific validity, have scope to sustain the very sex differences they seek to (...) explain. I argue that, while further research is required, such claims can have self-fulfilling effects via their influence on social perception, behaviour and attitudes. The real effects of the products of scientists’ research on our minds and society, together with the fact that all scientific hypotheses are subject to dispute and disconfirmation, point to a need for scientists to consider the ethical implications of their work. (shrink)
A number of recent popular books about gender differences have drawn on the neuroscientific literature to support the claim that certain psychological differences between the sexes are ‘hard-wired’. This article highlights some of the ethical implications that arise from both factual and conceptual errors propagated by such books.
The gendered marketing of children’s toys is under considerable scrutiny, as reflected by numerous consumer-led campaigns and vigorous media debates. This article seeks to assist stakeholders to better understand the ethical and scientific assumptions that underlie the two opposing positions in this debate, and assess their relative strength. There is apparent consensus in the underlying ethical foundations of the debate, with all commentators seeming to endorse the values of corporate social responsibility and gender equality. However, the debate splits over three (...) critical points of empirical disagreement: whether gendered toy marketing influences children’s toy preferences or simply reflects boys’ and girls’ fundamentally different interests; whether the effects of gendered toy marketing are negative, neutral or beneficial; and whether a shift to gender-neutral marketing would be economically viable. We assess the three points of disagreement against the available evidence and shared ethical principles underlying the debate, and conclude that current defences of gendered toy marketing fail. (shrink)
Mathematics has been the most successful and is the most mature of the sciences. Its first great master work – Euclid's ‘Elements’ – which helped to establish the field and demonstrate the power of its methods, was written about 2400 years ago; and it served as a standard text in the mathematics curriculum well into the twentieth century. By contrast, the first comparable master work of physics – Newton's Principia – was written 300 odd years ago. And the juvenile science (...) of biology only got its first master work – Darwin's ‘On the Origin of Species’ – a mere 150 years ago. The development of the subject has also been extraordinarily fertile, particularly in the last three centuries, and it is perhaps only in the last century that the other sciences have begun to approach mathematics in the steady accumulation of knowledge that it has been able to offer. There has, moreover, been almost universal agreement on its methods and how they are to be applied. What we require is proof; and, in practice, there is very little disagreement over whether or not we have it. The other sciences, by contrast, tend to get mired in controversy over the significance of this or that experimental finding or over whether one theory is to be preferred to another. (shrink)
“Mathematical objects are not exactly of our own making, but we actually have to do something to get them. There’s something out there which we prod, but there’s the prodding that’s also required. Numbers are not exactly out there or in us, but somehow in between.”.
Introducing a new and ambitious position in the field, Kit Fine’s _Semantic Relationism_ is a major contribution to the philosophy of language. Written by one of today’s most respected philosophers Argues for a fundamentally new approach to the study of representation in language and thought Proposes that there may be representational relationships between expressions or elements of thought that are not grounded in the intrinsic representational features of the expressions or elements themselves Forms part of the prestigious new _Blackwell/Brown (...) Lectures in Philosophy_ series, based on an ongoing series of lectures by today’s leading philosophers. (shrink)
In this new edition, Arthur Fine looks at Einstein's philosophy of science and develops his own views on realism. A new Afterword discusses the reaction to Fine's own theory. "What really led Einstein . . . to renounce the new quantum order? For those interested in this question, this book is compulsory reading."--Harvey R. Brown, American Journal of Physics "Fine has successfully combined a historical account of Einstein's philosophical views on quantum mechanics and a discussion of some (...) of the philosophical problems associated with the interpretation of quantum theory with a discussion of some of the contemporary questions concerning realism and antirealism. . . . Clear, thoughtful, [and] well-written."--Allan Franklin, Annals of Science "Attempts, from Einstein's published works and unpublished correspondence, to piece together a coherent picture of 'Einstein realism.' Especially illuminating are the letters between Einstein and fellow realist Schrodinger, as the latter was composing his famous 'Schrodinger-Cat' paper."--Nick Herbert, New Scientist "Beautifully clear. . . . Fine's analysis is penetrating, his own results original and important. . . . The book is a splendid combination of new ways to think about quantum mechanics, about realism, and about Einstein's views of both."--Nancy Cartwright, Isis. (shrink)
Kit Fine develops a Fregean theory of abstraction, and suggests that it may yield a new philosophical foundation for mathematics, one that can account for both our reference to various mathematical objects and our knowledge of various mathematical truths. The Limits ofion breaks new ground both technically and philosophically.
Meno's Paradox from Socrates to Sextus Gail Fine. sense that they consider the issues it raises; and they argue, against its conclusion, that inquiry is possible. Like Plato and Aristotle, they also explain what makes inquiry possible; and they do ...
Plato on Knowledge and Forms brings together a set of connected essays by Gail Fine, in her main area of research since the late 1970s: Plato's metaphysics and epistemology. She discusses central issues in Plato's metaphysics and epistemology, issues concerning the nature and extent of knowledge, and its relation to perception, sensibles, and forms; and issues concerning the nature of forms, such as whether they are universals or particulars, separate or immanent, and whether they are causes. A specially written (...) introduction draws together the themes of the volume, which will reward the attention of anyone interested in Plato or in ancient metaphysics and epistemology. (shrink)
Economics has become a monolithic science, variously described as formalistic and autistic with neoclassical orthodoxy reigning supreme. So argue Dimitris Milonakis and Ben Fine in this new major work of critical recollection. The authors show how economics was once rich, diverse, multidimensional and pluralistic, and unravel the processes that lead to orthodoxy’s current predicament. The book details how political economy became economics through the desocialisation and the dehistoricisation of the dismal science, accompanied by the separation of economics from the (...) other social sciences, especially economic history and sociology. It is argued that recent attempts from within economics to address the social and the historical have failed to acknowledge long standing debates amongst economists, historians and other social scientists. This has resulted in an impoverished historical and social content within mainstream economics. The book ranges over the shifting role of the historical and the social in economic theory, the shifting boundaries between the economic and the non-economic, all within a methodological context. Schools of thought and individuals, that have been neglected or marginalised, are treated in full, including classical political economy and Marx, the German and British historical schools, American institutionalism, Weber and Schumpeter and their programme of Socialökonomik, and the Austrian school. At the same time, developments within the mainstream tradition from marginalism through Marshall and Keynes to general equilibrium theory are also scrutinised, and the clashes between the various camps from the famous Methodenstreit to the fierce debates of the 1930s and beyond brought to the fore. The prime rationale underpinning this account drawn from the past is to put the case for political economy back on the agenda. This is done by treating economics as a social science once again, rather than as a positive science, as has been the inclination since the time of Jevons and Walras. It involves transcending the boundaries of the social sciences, but in a particular way that is in exactly the opposite direction now being taken by "economics imperialism". Drawing on the rich traditions of the past, the reintroduction and full incorporation of the social and the historical into the main corpus of political economy will be possible in the future. (shrink)
Ben Fine traces the origins of social capital through the work of Becker, Bourdieu and Coleman and comprehensively reviews the literature across the social sciences. The text is uniquely critical of social capital, explaining how it avoids a proper confrontation with political economy and has become chaotic. This highly topical text addresses some major themes, including the shifting relationship between economics and other social sciences, the 'publish or perish' concept currently burdening scholarly integrity, and how a social science interdisciplinarity (...) requires a place for political economy together with cultural and social theory. (shrink)
The Peri ide^on is the only work in which Aristotle systematically sets out and criticizes arguments for the existence of Platonic forms. Gail Fine presents the first full-length treatment in English of this important but neglected work. She asks how, and how well, Aristotle understands Plato's theory of forms, and why and with what justification he favors an alternative metaphysical scheme. She examines the significance of the Peri ide^on for some central questions about Plato's theory of forms--whether, for example, (...) there are forms corresponding to every property or only to some, and if only to some, then to which ones; whether forms are universals, particulars or both; and whether they are meanings, properties or both. Fine also provides a general discussion of Plato's theory of forms, and of our evidence about the Peri ide^on and its date, scope, and aims. While she pays careful attention to the details of the text, she also relates it to contemporary philosophical concerns. The book will be valuable for anyone interested in metaphysics ancient or modern. (shrink)
Drawn from the translations and editorial aids of Irwin and Fine's Aristotle, _Selections_, this anthology will be most useful to instructors who must try to do justice to Aristotle in a semester-long ancient-philosophy survey, but it will also be appropriate for a variety of introductory-level courses. _Introductory Readings_ provides accurate, readable, and integrated translations that allow the reader to follow Aristotle's use of crucial technical terms and to grasp the details of his argument. Included are adaptations of the glossary (...) and notes that helped make its parent volume a singularly useful aid to the study of Aristotle. (shrink)
“Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence” is a slogan that is popular among scientists and nonscientists alike. This article assesses its truth by using a probabilistic tool, the Law of Likelihood. Qualitative questions (“Is E evidence about H ?”) and quantitative questions (“How much evidence does E provide about H ?”) are both considered. The article discusses the example of fossil intermediates. If finding a fossil that is phenotypically intermediate between two extant species provides evidence that those species have (...) a common ancestor, does failing to find such a fossil constitute evidence that there was no common ancestor? Or should the failure merely be chalked up to the imperfection of the fossil record? The transitivity of the evidence relation in simple causal chains provides a broader context, which leads to discussion of the fine-tuning argument, the anthropic principle, and observation selection effects. (shrink)
Fine (2005, 2006) has presented a ‘trilemma’ concerning the tense-realist idea that reality is constituted by tensed facts. According to Fine, there are only three ways out of the trilemma, consisting in what he takes to be the three main families of tense-realism: ‘presentism’, ‘(external) relativism’, and ‘fragmentalism’. Importantly, although Fine characterises tense-realism as the thesis that reality is constituted (at least in part) by tensed facts, he explicitly claims that tense realists are not committed to their (...) fundamental existence. Recently, Correia and Rosenkranz (2011, 2012) have claimed that Fine’s tripartite map of tense realism is incomplete as it misses a fourth position they call ‘dynamic absolutism’. In this paper, I will argue that dynamic absolutists are committed to the irreducible existence of tensed facts and that, for this reason, they face a similar trilemma concerning the notion of fact-content. I will thus conclude that a generalised version of Fine’s trilemma, concerning both fact-constitution and fact-content, is indeed inescapable. (shrink)
Kit Fine, the leading proponent of the metaphysical project of grounding theory, has offered a number of potentially devastating objections to truthmaker theory, the branch of metaphysics dedicated to exploring the ontological grounds for truths. In this paper I show what presuppositions about truthmaker theory Fine’s objections are based upon, and why they are false. I discuss four objections that Fine raises, and demonstrate how truthmaker theorists may respond to them. I then showcase the positive contribution that (...) truthmaker theory can make to metaphysics, including its ability to speak to a core metaphysical topic (the ontological grounds for truths) that Fine’s approach to grounding must ultimately remain silent on. I conclude by exploring what I take to be the best option when it comes to understanding how truthmaking and grounding fit together. (shrink)
It is commonplace in discussions of modern cosmology to assert that the early universe began in a special state. Conventionally, cosmologists characterize this fine-tuning in terms of the horizon and flatness problems. I argue that the fine-tuning is real, but these problems aren't the best way to think about it: causal disconnection of separated regions isn't the real problem, and flatness isn't a problem at all. Fine-tuning is better understood in terms of a measure on the space (...) of trajectories: given reasonable conditions in the late universe, the fraction of cosmological histories that were smooth at early times is incredibly tiny. This discussion helps clarify what is required by a complete theory of cosmological initial conditions. (shrink)
In this paper I will present three arguments (based on the notions of constitution, metaphysical reality, and truth, respectively) with the aim of shedding some new light on the structure of Fine’s (2005, 2006) ‘McTaggartian’ arguments against the reality of tense. Along the way, I will also (i) draw a novel map of the main realist positions about tense, (ii) unearth a previously unnoticed but potentially interesting form of external relativism (which I will label ‘hyper-presentism’) and (iii) sketch a (...) novel interpretation of Fine’s fragmentalism (which I contrast with Lipman’s 2015, 2016b, forthcoming). (shrink)
According to the Fine-Tuning Argument, the existence of life in our universe confirms the Multiverse Hypothesis. A standard objection to FTA is that it violates the Requirement of Total Evidence. I argue that RTE should be rejected in favor of the Predesignation Requirement, according to which, in assessing the outcome of a probabilistic process, we should only use evidence characterizable in a manner available before observing the outcome. This produces the right verdicts in some simple cases in which RTE (...) leads us astray, and, when applied to FTA, it shows that our evidence does confirm HM. (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.
In this paper, I propose that, in addition to the multiverse hypothesis, which is commonly taken to be an alternative explanation for fine-tuning, other than the design hypothesis, the simulation hypothesis is another explanation for fine-tuning. I then argue that the simulation hypothesis undercuts the alleged evidential connection between ‘designer’ and ‘supernatural designer of immense power and knowledge’ in much the same way that the multiverse hypothesis undercuts the alleged evidential connection between ‘fine-tuning’ and ‘fine-tuner’ (or (...) ‘designer’). If this is correct, then the fine-tuning argument is a weak argument for the existence of God. (shrink)
Fine-tuning arguments are a frequent find in the literature on quantum field theory. They are based on naturalness—an aesthetic criterion that was given a precise definition in the debates on the Higgs mechanism. We follow the history of such definitions and of their application at the scale of electroweak symmetry breaking. They give rise to a special interpretation of probability, which we call Gedankenfrequency. Finally, we show that the argument from naturalness has been extended to comparing different models of (...) the physics beyond the Standard Model and that naturalness in this case can at best be understood a socio-historic heuristic. (shrink)
I argue that the standard way of formalizing the fine-tuning argument for design is flawed, and I present an alternative formalization. On the alternative formalization, the existence of life is not treated as the evidence that confirms design; instead it is treated as part of the background knowledge, while the fact that fine tuning is required for life serves as the evidence. I argue that the alternative better captures the informal line of thought that gives the fine-tuning (...) argument its intuitive plausibility, and I show that the alternative formalization avoids all of the most prominent objections to the fine-tuning argument, including the objection from observation selection effects, the problem of old evidence, the problem of non-normalizable probability measures and a further objection due to Monton. I conclude that the alternative formalization is the one that attention should be focused on. (shrink)
According to the premises of the fine-tuning argument, most nomologically possible universes lack intelligent life; and the fact that ours has intelligent life is best explained by supposing it was created. However, if our universe was created, then the creator chose the laws of nature, and hence chose in favor of lifeless universes. In other words, the fine-tuning argument shows that God prefers universes without intelligent life; and the fact that our universe has intelligent life provides no new (...) evidence for God's existence. (shrink)
Jan Greben criticized fine-tuning by taking seriously the idea that “nature is quantum mechanical”. I argue that this quantum view is limited, and that fine-tuning is real, in the sense that our current physical models require fine-tuning. Second, I examine and clarify many difficult and fundamental issues raised by Rüdiger Vaas’ comments on Cosmological Artificial Selection.
The judgment that a given event is epistemically improbable is necessary but insufficient for us to conclude that the event is surprising. Paul Horwich has argued that surprising events are, in addition, more probable given alternative background assumptions that are not themselves extremely improbable. I argue that Horwich’s definition fails to capture important features of surprises and offer an alternative definition that accords better with intuition. An important application of Horwich’s analysis has arisen in discussions of fine-tuning arguments. In (...) the second part of the paper I consider the implications for this argument of employing my definition of surprise. I argue that advocates of fine-tuning arguments are not justified in attaching significance to the fact that we are surprised by examples of fine-tuning. (shrink)
In the Nicomachean Ethics, one of Aristotle’s most frequent characterizations of the virtuous agent is that she acts for the sake of the fine (to kalon). In IX.8, this pursuit of the fine receives a more specific description; virtuous agents maximally assign the fine to themselves. In this paper, I answer the question of how we are to understand the fine as individually and maximally acquirable. I analyze Nicomachean Ethics IX.7, where Aristotle highlights virtuous activity (energeia) (...) as central to the fine, and argue that when virtuous agents pursue the fine, what they are pursuing is virtuous activity. I then address various problems, like how virtuous people can maximize virtuous activity yet sacrifice their lives, which would seem to amount to sacrificing future opportunities to virtuous activity and therefore not maximizing it. I also eliminate alternative interpretations that do not take virtuous activity as necessary to the fine, for example the common good interpretation, whereby virtuous agents pursuing the fine amounts to their pursuing the common good. (shrink)
Could God have created a better universe? Well, the fundamental scientific laws and parameters of the universe have to be within a certain miniscule range, for a life-sustaining universe to develop: the universe must be ‘Fine Tuned’. Therefore the ‘embryonic universe’ that came into existence with the ‘big bang’ had to be either exactly as it was or within a certain tiny range, for there to develop a life-sustaining universe. If it is better that there exist a life-sustaining universe (...) than not, then it was better that the embryonic universe was one of this small set of very similar embryonic universes than that it was not. Furthermore, there are no firm grounds for claiming that of this small set of very similar embryonic universes, there is one which would have developed into a universe better than ours. Therefore there are no firm grounds for claiming that God could have created a better universe than ours. (shrink)
Collins (The Blackwell companion to natural theology, 2009) presents an argument he calls the ‘core fine-tuning argument’. In this paper, I show that Collins’ argument is flawed in at least two ways. First, the structure, depending on likelihoods, fails to establish anything about the posterior probability of God’s existence given fine-tuning. As an argument for God’s existence, this is a serious failing. Second, his analysis of what is appropriately restricted background knowledge, combined with the credences of a specially (...) chosen ‘alien’, do not allow him to establish the premise \( \Pr (LPU \mid NSU~ \& ~k') \ll 1\). (shrink)
The objective of this paper is analyzing to which extent the multiverse hypothesis provides a real explanation of the peculiarities of the laws and constants in our universe. First we argue in favor of the thesis that all multiverses except Tegmark’s “mathematical multiverse” are too small to explain the fine tuning, so that they merely shift the problem up one level. But the “mathematical multiverse" is surely too large. To prove this assessment, we have performed a number of experiments (...) with cellular automata of complex behavior, which can be considered as universes in the mathematical multiverse. The analogy between what happens in some automata (in particular Conway’s “Game of Life") and the real world is very strong. But if the results of our experiments can be extrapolated to our universe, we should expect to inhabit—in the context of the multiverse—a world in which at least some of the laws and constants of nature should show a certain time dependence. Actually, the probability of our existence in a world such as ours would be mathematically equal to zero. In consequence, the results presented in this paper can be considered as an inkling that the hypothesis of the multiverse, whatever its type, does not offer an adequate explanation for the peculiarities of the physical laws in our world. (shrink)
Roger White (God and design, Routledge, London, 2003) claims that while the fine-tuning of our universe, $\alpha $ , may count as evidence for a designer, it cannot count as evidence for a multiverse. First, I will argue that his considerations are only correct, if at all, for a limited set of multiverses that have particular features. As a result, I will argue that his claim cannot be generalised as a statement about all multiverses. This failure to generalise, I (...) will argue, is also a feature of design hypotheses. That is, design hypotheses can likewise be made insensitive or sensitive to the evidence of fine-tuning as we please. Second, I will argue that White is mistaken about the role that this evidence plays in fine-tuning discussions. That is, even if the evidence of fine-tuning appears to support one particular hypothesis more strongly than another, this does not always help us in deciding which hypothesis to prefer. (shrink)