A case situation arising in a normal interaction among people is the baseline for discussing properties of the theory of viewpoints. In particular we consider how to ensure agreement on the meaning of certain utterances by agents who have different perspectives on the situation, while maintaning other knowledge as private. We argue that communication should be modeled as adding facts to the common knowledge of agents. We introduce the principle of ''referent sharing'' in communications and argue that common knowledge resulting (...) from communication should only use constants whose referent is manifest to the parties involved. (shrink)
The importance of contextual reasoning is emphasized by various researchers in AI. (A partial list includes John McCarthy and his group, R. V. Guha, Yoav Shoham, GiuseppeAttardi and Maria Simi, and Fausto Giunchiglia and his group.) Here, we survey the problem of formalizing context and explore what is needed for an acceptable account of this abstract notion.
Recently the complexity of discursive practices has been widely acknowledged by the humanities and social sciences. In fact, to know anything is to know in terms of one or more discourse. The "discursive turn" in psychology may be considered as a new paradigm oriented to a correct study of (wo)man only if it is able to grasp the semiotical ground of psychic experience both as an "effort after meaning" and as a "struggle over meaning." In this sense the notion of (...) "diatext" has been proposed as a contribution in working out a psychosemiotical approach to understand how the discursive practices assign subject-positions to the agents of each interlocution scenario. (shrink)
Open futurism is the indeterministic position according to which the future is ‘open’, i.e., there is now no fact of the matter as to what future contingent events will actually obtain. Many open futurists hold a branching conception of time, in which a variety of possible futures exist. This paper introduces two challenges to branching-time open futurism, which are similar in spirit to a challenge posed by Fine to tense realism. The paper argues that, to address the new challenges, open (...) futurists must adopt an objective, non-perspectival notion of actuality and subscribe to an A-theoretic, dynamic conception of reality. Moreover, given a natural understanding of “actual future”, it is perfectly sensible for open futurists to hold that a unique, objectively actual future exists, contrary to a common assumption in the current debate. The paper also contends that recognising the existence of a unique actual future helps open futurists to avoid potential misconceptions. (shrink)
Accidents involving autonomous vehicles raise difficult ethical dilemmas and legal issues. It has been argued that self-driving cars should be programmed to kill, that is, they should be equipped with pre-programmed approaches to the choice of what lives to sacrifice when losses are inevitable. Here we shall explore a different approach, namely, giving the user/passenger the task of deciding what ethical approach should be taken by AVs in unavoidable accident scenarios. We thus assume that AVs are equipped with what we (...) call an “Ethical Knob”, a device enabling passengers to ethically customise their AVs, namely, to choose between different settings corresponding to different moral approaches or principles. Accordingly, AVs would be entrusted with implementing users’ ethical choices, while manufacturers/programmers would be tasked with enabling the user’s choice and ensuring implementation by the AV. (shrink)
Artefacts do not always do what they are supposed to, due to a variety of reasons, including manufacturing problems, poor maintenance, and normal wear-and-tear. Since software is an artefact, it should be subject to malfunctioning in the same sense in which other artefacts can malfunction. Yet, whether software is on a par with other artefacts when it comes to malfunctioning crucially depends on the abstraction used in the analysis. We distinguish between “negative” and “positive” notions of malfunction. A negative malfunction, (...) or dysfunction, occurs when an artefact token either does not or cannot do what it is supposed to. A positive malfunction, or misfunction, occurs when an artefact token may do what is supposed to but, at least occasionally, it also yields some unintended and undesirable effects. We argue that software, understood as type, may misfunction in some limited sense, but cannot dysfunction. Accordingly, one should distinguish software from other technical artefacts, in view of their design that makes dysfunction impossible for the former, while possible for the latter. (shrink)
Computing, today more than ever before, is a multi-faceted discipline which collates several methodologies, areas of interest, and approaches: mathematics, engineering, programming, and applications. Given its enormous impact on everyday life, it is essential that its debated origins are understood, and that its different foundations are explained. On the Foundations of Computing offers a comprehensive and critical overview of the birth and evolution of computing, and it presents some of the most important technical results and philosophical problems of the discipline, (...) combining both historical and systematic analyses. -/- The debates this text surveys are among the latest and most urgent ones: the crisis of foundations in mathematics and the birth of the decision problem, the nature of algorithms, the debates on computational artefacts and malfunctioning, and the analysis of computational experiments. By covering these topics, On the Foundations of Computing provides a much-needed resource to contextualize these foundational issues. -/- For practitioners, researchers, and students alike, a historical and philosophical approach such as what this volume offers becomes essential to understand the past of the discipline and to figure out the challenges of its future. (shrink)
So-called Locke's thesis is the view that no two things of the same kind may coincide, that is, may be completely in the same place at the same time. A number of counter-examples to this view have been proposed. In this paper, some new and arguably more convincing counter-examples to Locke's thesis are presented. In these counter-examples, a particular entity (a string, a rope, a net, or similar) is interwoven to obtain what appears to be a distinct, thicker entity of (...) the same kind. It is argued that anyone who subscribes to certain standard metaphysical arguments, which are generally taken for granted in the debate about Locke's thesis, is virtually compelled to accept the counter-examples. (shrink)
The time marked by the clock hands, the so-called “objective time,” is deeply different from the one perceived by the individual. Starting from this hypothesis, directly connected to the subjective modality of “living” the time and defined as time perspective, we will try to understand how much it affects the various domains of people's lives, attitudes, and experiences. Therefore, the research investigates whether all our decisions can be influenced by one or more time perspectives beyond our awareness. Last, but not (...) least, we will try to understand if some time perspectives in specific contexts are more functional and adaptive than others. (shrink)
Notwithstanding the recent prominence of the term “problem” in the humanities, few scholars have analysed its history. This essay tries to partially fill that lack, principally covering the period from late modernity through to the 1960s, in order to understand the role that the term plays in “Continental” philosophy, with special emphasis on the writings of Gilles Deleuze. This analysis focuses on the strategies employed by different agents to define “philosophical” problems, or “philosophical” ways of posing problems. The term, originally (...) used in antiquity by knowledge-producers located in an autonomous position, implied an idea of cognition oscillating between production and reproduction. Once the term escaped the context of geometry, it was involved in symbolic struggles that radicalized during modernity. The Kantians placed “philosophy” in a supposedly neutral position of science treating “the problem of all the problems” and invented a new genre, the “history of philosophy,” focusing on the analysis of “philosophical problems.” This approach had great institutional success in the German and French universities and clashed, during the twentieth century, with another usage of philosophy as a practice of “dissolution of problems,” developed in the United Kingdom and the Austro-Habsburg Empire. (shrink)
This article reflects on a survey carried out at a non-profit organization that deals with health care for oncological terminally ill in order to find out for those who are involved in this project each worker's time projection and well-being class. The survey has pointed out each single team member's time perspective and well-being class and allowed building a pedagogical path for work orientation that has involved the same team members.
The dependence on history of both present and future dynamics of life is a common intuition in biology and in humanities. Historicity will be understood in terms of changes of the space of possibilities as well as by the role of diversity in life’s structural stability and of rare events in history formation. We hint to a rigorous analysis of “path dependence” in terms of invariants and invariance preserving transformations, as it may be found also in physics, while departing from (...) the physico-mathematical analyses. The idea is that the invariant traces of the past under organismal or ecosystemic transformations contribute to the understanding of present and future states of affairs. This yields a peculiar form of unpredictability in biology, at the core of novelty formation: the changes of observables and pertinent parameters may depend also on past events. In particular, in relation to the properties of synchronic measurement in physics, the relevance of diachronic measurement in biology is highlighted. This analysis may a fortiori apply to cognitive and historical human dynamics, while allowing to investigate some general properties of historicity in biology. (shrink)
Retracing the primary common aspects between anthropological and psychoanalytic thought, in this article, we will further discuss the main common points between the notions of the unconscious according to Carl Gustav Jung and Claude Lévi-Strauss, taking into account the thought of Erich Neumann. On the basis of very simple elementary logic considerations centered around the basic notion of the separation of opposites, our observations might be useful for speculations on the possible origins of rational thought and hence on the origins (...) of consciousness. (shrink)
This article presents an historical and conceptual overview on different approaches to logical abstraction. Two main trends concerning abstraction in the history of logic are highlighted, starting from the logical notions of concept and function. This analysis strictly relates to the philosophical discussion on the nature of abstract objects. I develop this issue further with respect to the procedure of abstraction involved by (typed) λ-systems, focusing on the crucial change about meaning and predicability. In particular, the analysis of the nature (...) of logical types in the context of Constructive Type Theory allows elucidation of the role of the previously introduced notions. Finally, the connection to the analysis of abstraction in computer science is drawn, and the methodological contribution provided by the notion of information is considered, showing its conceptual and technical relevance. Future research shall focus on the notion of information in distributed systems, analysing the paradigm of information hiding in dependent type theories. (shrink)
We analyze the results from three different risk attitude elicitation methods. First, the broadly used test by Holt and Laury, HL, second, the lottery-panel task by Sabater-Grande and Georgantzis, SG, and third, responses to a survey question on self-assessment of general attitude towards risk. The first and the second task are implemented with real monetary incentives, while the third concerns all domains in life in general. Like in previous studies, the correlation of decisions across tasks is low and usually statistically (...) non-significant. However, when we consider only subjects whose behavior across the panels of the SG task is compatible with constant relative risk aversion, the correlation between HL and self-assessed risk attitude becomes significant. Furthermore, the correlation between HL and SG also increases for CRRA-compatible subjects, although it remains statistically non-significant. (shrink)
The human attempts to access, measure and organize physical phenomena have led to a manifold construction of mathematical and physical spaces. We will survey the evolution of geometries from Euclid to the Algebraic Geometry of the 20th century. The role of Persian/Arabic Algebra in this transition and its Western symbolic development is emphasized. In this relation, we will also discuss changes in the ontological attitudes toward mathematics and its applications. Historically, the encounter of geometric and algebraic perspectives enriched the mathematical (...) practices and their foundations. Yet, the collapse of Euclidean certitudes, of over 2300 years, and the crisis in the mathematical analysis of the 19th century, led to the exclusion of “geometric judgments” from the foundations of Mathematics. After the success and the limits of the logico-formal analysis, it is necessary to broaden our foundational tools and re-examine the interactions with natural sciences. In particular, the way the geometric and algebraic approaches organize knowledge is analyzed as a cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural issue and will be examined in Mathematical Physics and Biology. We finally discuss how the current notions of mathematical (phase) “space” should be revisited for the purposes of life sciences. (shrink)
This paper presents a systematic discussion, mainly for non-economists, on economic approaches to the concept of sustainable development. As a first step, the concept of sustainability is extensively discussed. As a second step, the argument that it is not possible to consider sustainability only from an economic or ecological point of view is defended; issues such as economic-ecological integration, inter-generational and intra-generational equity are considered of fundamental importance. Two different economic approaches to environmental issues, i.e. neo-classical environmental economics and ecological (...) economics, are compared. Some key differences such as weak versus strong sustainability, commensurability versus incommensurability and ethical neutrality versus different values acceptance are pointed out. (shrink)
Symmetries play a major role in physics, in particular since the work by E. Noether and H. Weyl in the first half of last century. Herein, we briefly review their role by recalling how symmetry changes allow to conceptually move from classical to relativistic and quantum physics. We then introduce our ongoing theoretical analysis in biology and show that symmetries play a radically different role in this discipline, when compared to those in current physics. By this comparison, we stress that (...) symmetries must be understood in relation to conservation and stability properties, as represented in the theories. We posit that the dynamics of biological organisms, in their various levels of organization, are not just processes, but permanent (extended, in our terminology) critical transitions and, thus, symmetry changes. Within the limits of a relative structural stability (or interval of viability), variability is at the core of these transitions. (shrink)
In one of his last writings, Life: Experience and Science, Michel Foucault argued that twentieth-century French philosophy could be read as dividing itself into two divergent lines: on the one hand, we have a philosophical stream which takes individual experience as its point of departure, conceiving it as irreducible to science. On the other hand, we have an analysis of knowledge which takes into account the concrete productions of the mind, as are found in science and human practices. In order (...) to account for this division, Foucault opposed epistemologists such as Cavaillès and Canguilhem to phenomenologists such as Merleau-Ponty and Sartre but, also, and more particularly, he opposed Poincaré to Bergson. The latter was presented by Foucault as being the key-figure of the ?philosophy of experience? at the beginning of the twentieth century. Fifteen years later, in his Deleuze and in the Logics of Worlds, Alain Badiou again uses this dual structure in his interpretation of the past hundred years of French thought. He employs a series of oppositional couples: himself and Deleuze, Lautmann and Sartre, and, finally, Brunschvicg and Bergson. On the one hand a ?mathematical Platonism? and on the other a ?philosophy of vital interiority.? This Manichean reading of philosophy, and the strategic use of the figure of Bergson has, itself, a long tradition. It was also proposed by Althusser who, following Bachelard, opposed his standpoint to any form of ?empiricism.? Althusser developed his thought from a tradition of Marxist thinkers and ideologists, which included Politzer's and Nizan's critique of bourgeois philosophy and, even before that, neo-Kantians such as the philosophers of the Revue de métaphysique et de morale. The aim of this essay is to deconstruct and to put into its precise context of production this series of genealogies which entails the mobilization of Bergsonism and of the name ?Bergson.? By doing so, I hope to weight the importance of Bergsonism in twentieth-century French philosophy, in both its ?positive? and its ?negative? aspect. The essay will proceed regressively, taking into account figures such as Althusser, Badiou, Deleuze, Foucault, Canguilhem, Cavaillès, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, but also Polizer, Brunschvicg and Alain. The conclusion of the essay is an attempt at reading the ?Bergson renaissance? in the light of new discoveries in genetics and the cognitive sciences and to tie it to the renewal of studies in the history of French philosophy. (shrink)
This paper proposes a critical analysis of that interpretation of the Nāgārjunian doctrine of the two truths as summarized—by both Mark Siderits and Jay L. Garfield—in the formula: “the ultimate truth is that there is no ultimate truth”. This ‘semantic reading’ of Nāgārjuna’s theory, despite its importance as a criticism of the ‘metaphysical interpretations’, would in itself be defective and improbable. Indeed, firstly, semantic interpretation presents a formal defect: it fails to clearly and explicitly express that which it contains logically; (...) the previously mentioned formula must necessarily be completed by: “the conventional truth is that nothing is conventional truth”. Secondly, after having recognized what Siderits’ and Garfield’s analyses contain implicitly, other logical and philological defects in their position emerge: the existence of the ‘conventional’ would appear—despite the efforts of semantic interpreters to demonstrate quite the contrary—definitively inconceivable without the presupposition of something ‘real’; moreover, the number of verses in Nāgārjuna that are in opposition to the semantic interpretation (even if we grant semantic interpreters that these verses do not justify a metaphysical reconstruction of Nagarjuna’s doctrine) would seem too great and significant to be ignored. (shrink)
This study investigates the acquisition of integrated object manipulation and categorization abilities through a series of experiments in which human adults and artificial agents were asked to learn to manipulate two-dimensional objects that varied in shape, color, weight, and color intensity. The analysis of the obtained results and the comparison of the behavior displayed by human and artificial agents allowed us to identify the key role played by features affecting the agent/environment interaction, the relation between category and action development, and (...) the role of cognitive biases originating from previous knowledge. (shrink)
In his classic introduction to the subject, Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders, Aaron Beck observes that “the philosophical underpinnings” of cognitive therapy’s (CT) approach to the emotional disorders “go back thousands of years, certainly to the time of the Stoics, who considered man’s conceptions (or misconceptions) of events rather than the events themselves as the key to his emotional upsets” (Beck 1976, 3). But beyond acknowledging that the stoics anticipated the central insight of CT, Beck has very little to (...) say about the philosophical underpinnings of CT, content it would seem for it to be an empirically grounded system of psychological principles and therapeutic methods. Yet even this little .. (shrink)
We provide a full characterization of computational error states for information systems. The class of errors considered is general enough to include human rational processes, logical reasoning, scientific progress and data processing in some functional programming languages. The aim is to reach a full taxonomy of error states by analysing the recovery and processing of data. We conclude by presenting machine-readable checking and resolve algorithms.
Coherent-ambiguity aversion is defined within the smooth-ambiguity model as the combination of choice-ambiguity and value-ambiguity aversion. Five ambiguous decision tasks are analyzed theoretically, where an individual faces two-stage lotteries with binomial, uniform, or unknown second-order probabilities. Theoretical predictions are then tested through a 10-task experiment. In tasks 1–5, risk aversion is elicited through both a portfolio choice method and a BDM mechanism. In tasks 6–10, choice-ambiguity aversion is elicited through the portfolio choice method, while value-ambiguity aversion comes about through the (...) BDM mechanism. The behavior of over 75 % of classified subjects is in line with the KMM model in all tasks 6–10, independent of their degree of risk aversion. Furthermore, the percentage of coherent-ambiguity-averse subjects is lower in the binomial than in the uniform and in the unknown treatments, with only the latter difference being significant. The most part of coherent-ambiguity-loving subjects show a high risk aversion. (shrink)
The verb ‘to know’ can be used both in ascriptions of propositional knowledge and ascriptions of knowledge of acquaintance. In the formal epistemology literature, the former use of ‘know’ has attracted considerable attention, while the latter is typically regarded as derivative. This attitude may be unsatisfactory for those philosophers who, like Russell, are not willing to think of knowledge of acquaintance as a subsidiary or dependent kind of knowledge. In this paper we outline a logic of knowledge of acquaintance in (...) which ascriptions like ‘Mary knows Smith’ are regarded as formally interesting in their own right, remaining neutral on their relation to ascriptions of propositional knowledge. The resulting logical framework, which is based on Hintikka’s modal approach to epistemic logic, provides a fresh perspective on various issues and notions at play in the philosophical debate on acquaintance. (shrink)
This personal, yet scientific, letter to Alan Turing, reflects on Turing's personality in order to better understand his scientific quest. It then focuses on the impact of his work today. By joining human attitude and particular scientific method, Turing is able to “immerse himself” into the phenomena on which he works. This peculiar blend justifies the epistolary style. Turing makes himself a “human computer”, he lives the dramatic quest for an undetectable imitation of a man, a woman, a machine. He (...) makes us see the continuous deformations of a material action/reaction/diffusion dynamics of hardware with no software. Each of these investigations opens the way to new scientific paths with major consequences for contemporary live and for knowledge. The uses and the effects of these investigations will be discussed: the passage from classical AI to today's neural nets, the relevance of non-linearity in biological dynamics, but also their abuses, such as the myth of a computational world, from a Turing-machine like universe to an encoded homunculus in the DNA. It is shown that these latter ideas, which are sometimes even made in Turing's name, contradict his views. (shrink)
This book provides a general survey of the main concepts, questions and results that have been developed in the recent interactions between quantum information, quantum computation and logic. Divided into 10 chapters, the books starts with an introduction of the main concepts of the quantum-theoretic formalism used in quantum information. It then gives a synthetic presentation of the main “mathematical characters” of the quantum computational game: qubits, quregisters, mixtures of quregisters, quantum logical gates. Next, the book investigates the puzzling entanglement-phenomena (...) and logically analyses the Einstein–Podolsky–Rosen paradox and introduces the reader to quantum computational logics, and new forms of quantum logic. The middle chapters investigate the possibility of a quantum computational semantics for a language that can express sentences like “Alice knows that everybody knows that she is pretty”, explore the mathematical concept of quantum Turing machine, and illustrate some characteristic examples that arise in the framework of musical languages. The book concludes with an analysis of recent discussions, and contains a Mathematical Appendix which is a survey of the definitions of all main mathematical concepts used in the book. (shrink)
We offer a formal treatment of the semantics of both complete and incomplete mistrustful or distrustful information transmissions. The semantics of such relations is analysed in view of rules that define the behaviour of a receiving agent. We justify this approach in view of human agent communications and secure system design. We further specify some properties of such relations.