Georges Bataille is one of the most influential thinkers to have seriously considered the work of Donatien Alphonse François, the Marquis de Sade. What is undeniable is that the two thinkers share a number of thematic and theoretical commonalities, in particular on the subject of human nature and sexuality. However, there are serious theoretical divergences between the two, a fact generally overlooked in the secondary literature. Rather than being a mere precursor to Bataille, as himself implies, I suggest that Sade (...) is a very different thinker, a fact that Bataille does not fully acknowledge. (shrink)
Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, in Dialectic of Enlightenment [Dialektik der Aufklärung, first published in 1944], argue that Donatien-Alphonse-François, the Marquis de Sade (1740–1814), and Friedrich Nietzsche have brought the Enlightenment project of grounding morality in reason to an end. For Adorno and Horkheimer, Sade has revealed philosophy’s moral impotency, in particular “the impossibility of deriving from reason any fundamental argument against murder [...].”1 Marcel Hénaff, Susan Neiman, and Annie Le Brun have similarly suggested that Sade has demonstrated that morality (...) is no more philosophically justified than immorality.2 There is no doubt that there is much discussion of moral philosophy in Sade’s surviving works. But are these extraordinary claims of Sade’s sceptical powers justified? To answer this question, this paper sets out to identify the moral and meta- ethical claims made in Sade’s works, and to assess his arguments for those claims. (shrink)
When economists pay homage to the wisdom of the distant past it is more likely that a work two decades old is being admired than one two centuries old. Economics is a science, and the sciences are noteworthy for their digestion and assimilation of the work of previous generations. Contributions remain only as accretions to the accepted body of knowledge; the writings and the writers disappear almost without trace. A conspicuous exception to this rule of professional cannibalization is Adam Smith. (...) Since 1776 he has not lacked for honors that have escaped even his most illustrious peers. Who, after all, wears a David Ricardo necktie? So to the author of The Wealth of Nations, all praise! (shrink)
I argue elsewhere (Roche 2014) that evidence of evidence is evidence under screening-off. Tal and Comesaña (2017) argue that my appeal to screening-off is subject to two objections. They then propose an evidence of evidence thesis involving the notion of a defeater. There is much to learn from their very careful discussion. I argue, though, that their objections fail and that their evidence of evidence thesis is open to counterexample.
In the world of philosophy of science, the dominant theory of confirmation is Bayesian. In the wider philosophical world, the idea of inference to the best explanation exerts a considerable influence. Here we place the two worlds in collision, using Bayesian confirmation theory to argue that explanatoriness is evidentially irrelevant.
An important question in the current debate on the epistemic significance of peer disagreement is whether evidence of evidence is evidence. Fitelson argues that, at least on some renderings of the thesis that evidence of evidence is evidence, there are cases where evidence of evidence is not evidence. I introduce a condition and show that under this condition evidence of evidence is evidence.
The application of evolutionary ideas to socioeconomic systems has been an increasingly prominent theme in the work of Friedrich Hayek, and the motif has become dominant in his recent book. In an earlier issue of this journal, Viktor Vanberg raises two substantive criticisms of Friedrich Hayek' theory of cultural evolution that invoke some important questions concerning use of the evolutionary analogy in social science.
This case study discusses the economic, legal, and ethical considerations for conducting clinical trials in a controversial context. In 2010, pharmaceutical giant Roche received a shame award by the Swiss non-governmental organization Berne Declaration and Greenpeace for conducting clinical trials with organs taken from executed prisoners in China. The company respected local regulations and industry ethical standards. However, medical associations condemned organs from executed prisoners on moral grounds. Human rights organizations demanded that Roche ended its clinical trials in (...) China immediately. Students are expected to review the economic and ethical issues regarding the outsourcing of clinical trials to controversial human rights contexts, and discuss how to make business decisions when there are conflicts between making profit and ethical considerations. Was Roche complicit in the human rights violations that were related to its clinical trials? Future patients might benefit from these clinical trials. Do profit and the greater good, in general, trump morals? (shrink)
We show that as a chain of confirmation becomes longer, confirmation dwindles under screening-off. For example, if E confirms H1, H1 confirms H2, and H1 screens off E from H2, then the degree to which E confirms H2 is less than the degree to which E confirms H1. Although there are many measures of confirmation, our result holds on any measure that satisfies the Weak Law of Likelihood. We apply our result to testimony cases, relate it to the Data-Processing Inequality (...) in information theory, and extend it in two respects so that it covers a broader range of cases. (shrink)
Probabilistic support is not transitive. There are cases in which x probabilistically supports y , i.e., Pr( y | x ) > Pr( y ), y , in turn, probabilistically supports z , and yet it is not the case that x probabilistically supports z . Tomoji Shogenji, though, establishes a condition for transitivity in probabilistic support, that is, a condition such that, for any x , y , and z , if Pr( y | x ) > Pr( y (...) ), Pr( z | y ) > Pr( z ), and the condition in question is satisfied, then Pr( z | x ) > Pr( z ). I argue for a second and weaker condition for transitivity in probabilistic support. This condition, or the principle involving it, makes it easier (than does the condition Shogenji provides) to establish claims of probabilistic support, and has the potential to play an important role in at least some areas of philosophy. (shrink)
It is well known that the probabilistic relation of confirmation is not transitive in that even if E confirms H1 and H1 confirms H2, E may not confirm H2. In this paper we distinguish four senses of confirmation and examine additional conditions under which confirmation in different senses becomes transitive. We conduct this examination both in the general case where H1 confirms H2 and in the special case where H1 also logically entails H2. Based on these analyses, we argue that (...) the Screening-Off Condition is the most important condition for transitivity in confirmation because of its generality and ease of application. We illustrate our point with the example of Moore’s “proof” of the existence of a material world, where H1 logically entails H2, the Screening-Off Condition holds, and confirmation in all four senses turns out to be transitive. (shrink)
Igor Douven establishes several new intransitivity results concerning evidential support. I add to Douven’s very instructive discussion by establishing two further intransitivity results and a transitivity result.
We argue elsewhere that explanatoriness is evidentially irrelevant . Let H be some hypothesis, O some observation, and E the proposition that H would explain O if H and O were true. Then O screens-off E from H: Pr = Pr. This thesis, hereafter “SOT” , is defended by appeal to a representative case. The case concerns smoking and lung cancer. McCain and Poston grant that SOT holds in cases, like our case concerning smoking and lung cancer, that involve frequency (...) data. However, McCain and Poston contend that there is a wider sense of evidential relevance—wider than the sense at play in SOT—on which explanatoriness is evidentially relevant even in cases involving frequency data. This is their main point, but they also contend that SOT does not hold in certain cases not involving frequency data. We reply to each of these points and conclude with some general remarks on screening-off as a test of evidential relevance. (shrink)
This article proposes a new interpretation of mutual information. We examine three extant interpretations of MI by reduction in doubt, by reduction in uncertainty, and by divergence. We argue that the first two are inconsistent with the epistemic value of information assumed in many applications of MI: the greater is the amount of information we acquire, the better is our epistemic position, other things being equal. The third interpretation is consistent with EVI, but it is faced with the problem of (...) measure sensitivity and fails to justify the use of MI in giving definitive answers to questions of information. We propose a fourth interpretation of MI by reduction in expected inaccuracy, where inaccuracy is measured by a strictly proper monotonic scoring rule. It is shown that the answers to questions of information given by MI are definitive whenever this interpretation is appropriate, and that it is appropriate in a wide range of applications with epistemic implications. _1_ Introduction _2_ Formal Analyses of the Three Interpretations _2.1_ Reduction in doubt _2.2_ Reduction in uncertainty _2.3_ Divergence _3_ Inconsistency with Epistemic Value of Information _4_ Problem of Measure Sensitivity _5_ Reduction in Expected Inaccuracy _6_ Resolution of the Problem of Measure Sensitivity _6.1_ Alternative measures of inaccuracy _6.2_ Resolution by strict propriety _6.3_ Range of applications _7_ Global Scoring Rules _8_ Conclusion. (shrink)
Is evidential support transitive? The answer is negative when evidential support is understood as confirmation so that X evidentially supports Y if and only if p(Y | X) > p(Y). I call evidential support so understood “support” (for short) and set out three alternative ways of understanding evidential support: support-t (support plus a sufficiently high probability), support-t* (support plus a substantial degree of support), and support-tt* (support plus both a sufficiently high probability and a substantial degree of support). I also (...) set out two screening-off conditions (under which support is transitive): SOC1 and SOC2. It has already been shown that support-t is non-transitive in the general case (where it is not required that SOC1 holds and it is not required that SOC2 holds), in the special case where SOC1 holds, and in the special case where SOC2 holds. I introduce two rather weak adequacy conditions on support measures and argue that on any support measure meeting those conditions it follows that neither support-t* nor support-tt* is transitive in the general case, in the special case where SOC1 holds, or in the special case where SOC2 holds. I then relate some of the results to Douven’s evidential support theory of conditionals along with a few rival theories. (shrink)
It is well known that the probabilistic relation of confirmation is not transitive in that even if E confirms H1 and H1 confirms H2, E may not confirm H2. In this paper we distinguish four senses of confirmation and examine additional conditions under which confirmation in different senses becomes transitive. We conduct this examination both in the general case where H1 confirms H2 and in the special case where H1 also logically entails H2. Based on these analyses, we argue that (...) the Screening-Off Condition is the most important condition for transitivity in confirmation because of its generality and ease of application. We illustrate our point with the example of Moore’s ‘‘proof’’ of the existence of a material world, where H1 logically entails H2, the Screening-Off Condition holds, and confirmation in all four senses turns out to be transitive. (shrink)
There is a plethora of confirmation measures in the literature. Zalabardo considers four such measures: PD, PR, LD, and LR. He argues for LR and against each of PD, PR, and LD. First, he argues that PR is the better of the two probability measures. Next, he argues that LR is the better of the two likelihood measures. Finally, he argues that LR is superior to PR. I set aside LD and focus on the trio of PD, PR, and LR. (...) The question I address is whether Zalabardo succeeds in showing that LR is superior to each of PD and PR. I argue that the answer is negative. I also argue, though, that measures such as PD and PR, on one hand, and measures such as LR, on the other hand, are naturally understood as explications of distinct senses of confirmation. (shrink)
We argued that explanatoriness is evidentially irrelevant in the following sense: Let H be a hypothesis, O an observation, and E the proposition that H would explain O if H and O were true. Then our claim is that Pr = Pr. We defended this screening-off thesis by discussing an example concerning smoking and cancer. Climenhaga argues that SOT is mistaken because it delivers the wrong verdict about a slightly different smoking-and-cancer case. He also considers a variant of SOT, called (...) “SOT*”, and contends that it too gives the wrong result. We here reply to Climenhaga’s arguments and suggest that SOT provides a criticism of the widely held theory of inference called “inference to the best explanation”. (shrink)
Andrew Cling presents a new version of the epistemic regress problem, and argues that intuitionist foundationalism, social contextualism, holistic coherentism, and infinitism fail to solve it. Cling’s discussion is quite instructive, and deserving of careful consideration. But, I argue, Cling’s discussion is not in all respects decisive. I argue that Cling’s dilemma argument against holistic coherentism fails.
Jaegwon Kim’s influential exclusion argument attempts to demonstrate the inconsistency of nonreductive materialism in the philosophy of mind. Kim’s argument begins by showing that the three main theses of nonreductive materialism, plus two additional considerations, lead to a specific and familiar picture of mental causation. The exclusion argument can succeed only if, as Kim claims, this picture is not one of genuine causal overdetermination. Accordingly, one can resist Kim’s conclusion by denying this claim, maintaining instead that the effects of the (...) mental are always causally overdetermined. I call this strategy the ‘ overdetermination challenge’. One of the main aims of this paper is to show that the overdetermination challenge is the most appropriate response to Kim’s exclusion argument, at least in its latest form. I argue that Kim fails to adequately respond to the overdetermination challenge, thus failing to prevent his opponents from reasonably maintaining that the effects of the mental are always causally overdetermined. Interestingly, this discussion reveals a curious dialectical feature of Kim’s latest response to the overdetermination challenge: if it succeeds, then a new, simpler and more compact version of the exclusion argument is available. While I argue against the consequent of this conditional, thereby also rejecting the antecedent, this dialectical feature should be of interest to philosophers on either side of this debate. (shrink)
I argue that coherence is truth-conducive in that coherence implies an increase in the probability of truth. Central to my argument is a certain principle for transitivity in probabilistic support. I then address a question concerning the truth-conduciveness of coherence as it relates to (something else I argue for) the truth-conduciveness of consistency, and consider how the truth-conduciveness of coherence bears on coherentist theories of justification.
How many serious mistakes can a brilliant philosopher make in a single paragraph? Many think that Mill answers this question by example—in the third paragraph of Chapter IV of Utilitarianism. Here is the notorious paragraph: The only proof capable of being given that an object is visible, is that people actually see it. The only proof that a sound is audible, is that people hear it: and so of the other sources of our experience. In like manner, I apprehend, the (...) sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people do actually desire it. If the end which the utilitarian doctrine proposes to itself were not, in theory and in practice, acknowledged to be an end, nothing could ever convince any person that it was so. No reason can be given why the general happiness is desirable, except that each person, so far as he believes it to be attainable, desires his own happiness. This, however, being a fact, we have not only all the proof which the case admits of, but all which it is possible to require, that happiness is a good: that each person's happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness, therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons. Happiness has made out its title as one of the ends of conduct, and consequently one of the criteria of morality. (shrink)
Coherentists on epistemic justification claim that all justification is inferential, and that beliefs, when justified, get their justification together (not in isolation) as members of a coherent belief system. Some recent work in formal epistemology shows that “individual credibility” is needed for “witness agreement” to increase the probability of truth and generate a high probability of truth. It can seem that, from this result in formal epistemology, it follows that coherentist justification is not truth-conducive, that it is not the case (...) that, under the requisite conditions, coherentist justification increases the probability of truth and generates a high probability of truth. I argue that this does not follow. (shrink)
Some recent work in formal epistemology shows that “witness agreement” by itself implies neither an increase in the probability of truth nor a high probability of truth—the witnesses need to have some “individual credibility.” It can seem that, from this formal epistemological result, it follows that coherentist justification (i.e., doxastic coherence) is not truth-conducive. I argue that this does not follow. Central to my argument is the thesis that, though coherentists deny that there can be noninferential justification, coherentists do not (...) deny that there can be individual credibility. (shrink)
This is an excellent collection of essays on introspection and consciousness. There are fifteen essays in total (all new except for Sydney Shoemaker’s essay). There is also an introduction where the editors explain the impetus for the collection and provide a helpful overview. The essays contain a wealth of new and challenging material sure to excite specialists and shape future research. Below we extract a skeptical argument from Fred Dretske’s essay and relate the remaining essays to that argument. Due to (...) space limitations we focus in detail on just a few of the essays. We regret that we cannot give them all the attention they merit. (shrink)
Dretske’s theory of self-knowledge is interesting but peculiar and can seem implausible. He denies that we can know by introspection that we have thoughts, feelings, and experiences. But he allows that we can know by introspection what we think, feel, and experience. We consider two puzzles. The first puzzle, PUZZLE 1, is interpretive. Is there a way of understanding Dretske’s theory on which the knowledge affirmed by its positive side is different than the knowledge denied by its negative side? The (...) second puzzle, PUZZLE 2, is substantive. Each of the following theses has some prima facie plausibility: there is introspective knowledge of thoughts, knowledge requires evidence, and there are no experiences of thoughts. It is unclear, though, that these claims form a consistent set. These puzzles are not unrelated. Dretske’s theory of self-knowledge is a potential solution to PUZZLE 2 in that Dretske’s theory is meant to show how,, and can all be true. We provide a solution to PUZZLE 1 by appeal to Dretske’s early work in the philosophy of language on contrastive focus. We then distinguish between “Closure” and “Transmissibility”, and raise and answer a worry to the effect that Dretske’s theory of self-knowledge runs counter to Transmissibility. These results help to secure Dretske’s theory as a viable solution to PUZZLE 2. (shrink)
Bayesian confirmation theory is rife with confirmation measures. Many of them differ from each other in important respects. It turns out, though, that all the standard confirmation measures in the literature run counter to the so-called “Reverse Matthew Effect” (“RME” for short). Suppose, to illustrate, that H1 and H2 are equally successful in predicting E in that p(E | H1)/p(E) = p(E | H2)/p(E) > 1. Suppose, further, that initially H1 is less probable than H2 in that p(H1) < p(H2). (...) Then by RME it follows that the degree to which E confirms H1 is greater than the degree to which it confirms H2. But by all the standard confirmation measures in the literature, in contrast, it follows that the degree to which E confirms H1 is less than or equal to the degree to which it confirms H2. It might seem, then, that RME should be rejected as implausible. Festa (2012), however, argues that there are scientific contexts in which RME holds. If Festa’s argument is sound, it follows that there are scientific contexts in which none of the standard confirmation measures in the literature is adequate. Festa’s argument is thus interesting, important, and deserving of careful examination. I consider five distinct respects in which E can be related to H, use them to construct five distinct ways of understanding confirmation measures, which I call “Increase in Probability”, “Partial Dependence”, “Partial Entailment”, “Partial Discrimination”, and “Popper Corroboration”, and argue that each such way runs counter to RME. The result is that it is not at all clear that there is a place in Bayesian confirmation theory for RME. (shrink)
Recently there have been several attempts in formal epistemology to develop an adequate probabilistic measure of coherence. There is much to recommend probabilistic measures of coherence. They are quantitative and render formally precise a notion—coherence—notorious for its elusiveness. Further, some of them do very well, intuitively, on a variety of test cases. Siebel, however, argues that there can be no adequate probabilistic measure of coherence. Take some set of propositions A, some probabilistic measure of coherence, and a probability distribution such (...) that all the probabilities on which A’s degree of coherence depends (according to the measure in question) are defined. Then, the argument goes, the degree to which A is coherent depends solely on the details of the distribution in question and not at all on the explanatory relations, if any, standing between the propositions in A. This is problematic, the argument continues, because, first, explanation matters for coherence, and, second, explanation cannot be adequately captured solely in terms of probability. We argue that Siebel’s argument falls short. (shrink)
The central fact about the problem of personal identity is that it is a problem posed by an apparent dichotomy: the dichotomy between the objective, third-person viewpoint on the one hand and the subjective perspective provided by the first-person viewpoint on the other. Everyone understands that the mind/body problem is precisely the problem of what to do about another apparent dichotomy, the duality comprising states of consciousness on the one hand and physical states of the body on the other. By (...) contrast, contemporary discussions of the problem of personal identity generally display little or no recognition of the divide which to my mind is at the heart of the problem. As a consequence, there has been a relentlessly third-personal approach to the issue, and the consequent proposal of solutions which stand no chance at all of working. I think the idea that the problem is to be clarified by an appeal to the idea of a human being is the latest manifestation of this mistaken approach. I am thinking in particular of the claim that what ought to govern our thinking on this issue is the fact that human beings constitute a natural kind, and that standard members of this kind can be said to have some sort of essence. Related to this is the idea that ‘person’, while not itself a natural kind term, is not a notion which can be framed in entire independence of this natural kind. (shrink)
The disjunction problem and the distality problem each presents a challenge that any theory of mental content must address. Here we consider their bearing on purely probabilistic causal theories. In addition to considering these problems separately, we consider a third challenge—that a theory must solve both. We call this “the hard problem.” We consider 8 basic ppc theories along with 240 hybrids of them, and show that some can handle the disjunction problem and some can handle the distality problem, but (...) none can handle the hard problem. This is our main result. We then discuss three possible responses to that result, and argue that though the first two fail, the third has some promise. (shrink)
The paper explores the main competing interpretations of Aristotle's view of the relation between happiness and external goods in the Nicomachean Ethics. On the basis of a careful analysis of what Aristotle says in the Nicomachean Ethics (and other works such as the Eudemian Ethics, Politics, Rhetoric, etc.) it is argued that it is likely that Aristotle takes at least some external goods to be actual constituents of happiness provided that (1) they are accompanied by virtuous activity and (2) the (...) agent enjoying and using those external goods does so in ways compatible with the continuous aim of acting virtuously. (shrink)
This book looks at two ‘revolutions’ in philosophy – phenomenology and conceptual analysis which have been influential in sociology and psychology. It discusses humanistic psychiatry and sociological approaches to the specific area of mental illness, which counter the ultimately reductionist implications of Freudian psycho-analytic theory. The book, originally published in 1973, concludes by stating the broad underlying themes of the two forms of humanistic philosophy and indicating how they relate to the problems of theory and method in sociology.
There are many scientific and everyday cases where each of Pr and Pr is high and it seems that Pr is high. But high probability is not transitive and so it might be in such cases that each of Pr and Pr is high and in fact Pr is not high. There is no issue in the special case where the following condition, which I call “C1”, holds: H 1 entails H 2. This condition is sufficient for transitivity in high (...) probability. But many of the scientific and everyday cases referred to above are cases where it is not the case that H 1 entails H 2. I consider whether there are additional conditions sufficient for transitivity in high probability. I consider three candidate conditions. I call them “C2”, “C3”, and “C2&3”. I argue that C2&3, but neither C2 nor C3, is sufficient for transitivity in high probability. I then set out some further results and relate the discussion to the Bayesian requirement of coherence. (shrink)
I develop a probabilistic account of coherence, and argue that at least in certain respects it is preferable to (at least some of) the main extant probabilistic accounts of coherence: (i) Igor Douven and Wouter Meijs’s account, (ii) Branden Fitelson’s account, (iii) Erik Olsson’s account, and (iv) Tomoji Shogenji’s account. Further, I relate the account to an important, but little discussed, problem for standard varieties of coherentism, viz., the “Problem of Justified Inconsistent Beliefs.”.
This paper proposes a new interpretation of mutual information (MI). We examine three extant interpretations of MI by reduction in doubt, by reduction in uncertainty, and by divergence. We argue that the first two are inconsistent with the epistemic value of information (EVI) assumed in many applications of MI: the greater is the amount of information we acquire, the better is our epistemic position, other things being equal. The third interpretation is consistent with EVI, but it is faced with the (...) problem of measure sensitivity and fails to justify the use of MI in giving definitive answers to questions of information. We propose a fourth interpretation of MI by reduction in expected inaccuracy, where inaccuracy is measured by a strictly proper monotonic scoring rule. It is shown that the answers to questions of information given by MI are definitive whenever this interpretation is appropriate, and that it is appropriate in a wide range of applications with epistemic implications. (shrink)
We seem to enjoy a special kind of access to our beliefs. We seem able to know about them via a distinctively first-personal method, and such knowledge seems epistemically superior to any knowledge that others might attain of our beliefs. This paper defends a novel account of this access. The account is extrospective in that it explains this access in terms of our ability to think about the (non-mental) world. Moreover, it does not require the contentious claim that judging that (...) p suffices for coming to believe that p. This is a significant strength of the account. (shrink)
Lucy Allais argues that we can better understand Kant's transcendental idealism by taking seriously the analogy of appearances to secondary qualities that Kant offers in the Prolegomena. A proper appreciation of this analogy, Allais claims, yields a reading of transcendental idealism according to which all properties that can appear to us in experience are mind-dependent relational properties that inhere in mind-independent objects. In section 1 of my paper, I articulate Allais's position and its benefits, not least of which is its (...) elegant explanation of how the features of objects that appear to us are transcendentally ideal while still being ‘empirically’ real. In section 2, I contend that there are elements of Allais's account that are problematic, yet also inessential, to what I view to be the core contribution of her analysis. These elements are the views that the properties that appear to human beings are not really distinct from properties that things have ‘in themselves’ and that Kant embraced a relational account of perception. In section 3, I return to the core of Allais's reading and argue that, despite its multiple virtues, it cannot make sense of key features of Kant's idealism. (shrink)
It is standard practice, when distinguishing between the foundationalist and the coherentist, to construe the coherentist as an internalist. The coherentist, the construal goes, says that justification is solely a matter of coherence, and that coherence, in turn, is solely a matter of internal relations between beliefs. The coherentist, so construed, is an internalist (in the sense I have in mind) in that the coherentist, so construed, says that whether a belief is justified hinges solely on what the subject is (...) like mentally. I argue that this practice is fundamentally misguided, by arguing that the foundationalism / coherentism debate and the internalism / externalism debate are about two very different things, so that there is nothing, qua coherentist, precluding the coherentist from siding with the externalist. I then argue that this spells trouble for two of the three most pressing and widely known objections to coherentism: the Alternative-Systems Objection and the Isolation Objection. (shrink)