The principle of indifference (hereafter ‘Poi’) says that if one has no more reason to believe A than B (and vice versa ), then one ought not to believe A more than B (nor vice versa ). Many think it’s demonstrably false despite its intuitive plausibility, because of a particular style of thought experiment that generates counterexamples. Roger White ( 2008 ) defends Poi by arguing that its antecedent is false in these thought experiments. Like White I believe Poi, but (...) I find his defense unsatisfactory for two reasons: it appeals to false premises, and it saves Poi only at the expense of something that Poi’s believers likely find just as important. So in this essay I defend Poi by arguing that its antecedent does hold in the relevant thought experiments, and that the further propositions needed to reject Poi are false. I play only defense in this essay; I don’t argue that Poi is true (even though I think it is), but rather that one popular refutation is faulty. In showing this, I also note something that has to my knowledge gone unnoticed: given some innocuous-looking assumptions the denial of Poi is equivalent to a version of epistemic permissivism , and Poi itself is equivalent to a version of epistemic uniqueness. (shrink)
The Variety of Evidence Thesis (VET) says that (ceteris paribus) the more diverse (or varied) of two bodies of evidence is the more confirmatory of a hypothesis H. Two recent types of Bayesian explication of VET account for the intuitive force of VET by defining variety as some function of the probabilities of the propositions which collectively constitute a body of evidence. I show that these two accounts of VET are not tracking a meaningful property of bodies of evidence, but (...) rather are tracking artifacts of how those bodies of evidence are described. According to each account, whether a body of evidence is more varied than another depends on how the bodies are split into parts. Furthermore, for each type of account there exists a way to redescribe the total evidence such that any two totalities are equally varied. ‡I would like to thank Elliott Sober for comments on multiple drafts of this paper, and Malcolm Forster, John Koolage, and Joel Velasco for comments on a verbal delivery. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 5185 Helen C. White Hall, 600 North Park Street, Madison, WI 53706; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
I give an account of proof terms for derivations in a sequent calculus for classical propositional logic. The term for a derivation δ of a sequent Σ≻Δ encodes how the premises Σ and conclusions Δ are related in δ. This encoding is many–to–one in the sense that different derivations can have the same proof term, since different derivations may be different ways of representing the same underlying connection between premises and conclusions. However, not all proof terms for a sequent Σ≻Δ (...) are the same. There may be different ways to connect those premises and conclusions. -/- Proof terms can be simplified in a process corresponding to the elimination of cut inferences in sequent derivations. However, unlike cut elimination in the sequent calculus, each proof term has a unique normal form (from which all cuts have been eliminated) and it is straightforward to show that term reduction is strongly normalising—every reduction process terminates in that unique normal form. Further- more, proof terms are invariants for sequent derivations in a strong sense—two derivations δ1 and δ2 have the same proof term if and only if some permutation of derivation steps sends δ1 to δ2 (given a relatively natural class of permutations of derivations in the sequent calculus). Since not every derivation of a sequent can be permuted into every other derivation of that sequent, proof terms provide a non-trivial account of the identity of proofs, independent of the syntactic representation of those proofs. (shrink)
Major theories of history from the Greeks to Marxism.--The long view of history.--From Lenin to Castro; the role of individual in history making.--Uneven and combined development in world history.--The uneven development of the world revolutionary process.--Hybrid formations and the permanent revolution in Latin America.--Notes (bibliographical: p. 160).
In an underappreciated tract by George Novack, Pragmatism versus Marxism, the American Trotskyite and union organizer launched a vicious attack on John Dewey's career as a professional philosopher. He alleged that Deweys ideas were inaccessible to all but a small community of fellow academicians. While Novack concedes that Deweys philosophical inquiries had a cross-pollinating influence on other academic fields, he doubts that the beneficial products of those inquiries traveled far beyond the walls of the so-called ivory tower. Larry (...) Hickman understands Dewey's claim in Experience and Nature that philosophy serves as a liaison officer to mean that philosophers should provide a common lexicon that translates between distinct disciplinary discourses. Philosophy's role, in other words, is to facilitate interdisciplinarity. According to my thesis, both Novack and Hickman are mistaken, though in different degrees and for different reasons. The problem is that Novacks challenge is perfectly compatible with Hickmans interpretation of Deweys liaison officer claim. While Hickmans account is more warranted than Novacks, it still offers an interpretation of Dewey's expansive view of philosophy's function that is far too limited to overcome challenges resembling Novacks, or so I argue. (shrink)
A.P. Martinich's interpretation that in Leviathan Thomas Hobbes believed that the laws of nature are the commands of God and that he did not rely on the Bible to prove this has been criticized by Greg Forster in this journal (2003). Forster uses these criticisms to develop his own view that Hobbes was insincere when he professed religious beliefs. We argue that Forster misrepresents Martinich's view, is mistaken about what evidence is relevant to interpreting whether Hobbes was sincere or (...) not, and is mistaken about some of Hobbes's central doctrines. Forster's criticisms are worth discussing at length for at least three reasons. He takes the debate about Hobbes's sincerity to a new level of sophistication; his misinterpretations of Hobbes may become accepted as correct; and his criticisms raise issues about the proper method of interpreting historical texts. (shrink)
BOOK REVIEW Extract: Integrity, it seems, is a matter of remaining true to oneself, or rather, it is a matter of remaining true to what one reasonably judges to be the best of oneself. In Integrity and the Virtues of Reason, Greg Scherkoske seeks to overturn this piece of conventional wisdom. It is a fine book and I learned a lot from it. Scherkoske elaborates and defends the idea that integrity is an epistemic virtue; that it is not fundamentally (...) a matter of being true to oneself but of being a good and responsible epistemic agent. What is wrong with the conventional picture, Scherkoske thinks, is that it invites moral danger. The moral danger Scherkoske has in mind takes two forms. One is self-indulgence. When faced with demands from others, fidelity to one's own commitments just because they are one's own can easily lead to a promotion of one's own interests over the interests of others. The second danger is blind allegiance. "Even if a person's commitments cannot be construed as self-indulgent or egoistic, an individual's belief that something is a matter of integrity might be taken to foreclose the possibility of challenge and revision". (shrink)
I was quite excited when I first read Restall and Russell’s (2010) paper. For two reasons. First, because the paper provides rigorous formulations and formal proofs of implication barrier the- ses, namely “theses [which] deny that one can derive sentences of one type from sentences of another”. Second (and primarily), because the paper proves a general theorem, the Barrier Con- struction Theorem, which unifies implication barrier theses concerning four topics: generality, necessity, time, and normativity. After thinking about the paper, I (...) am satisfied with its treatment of the first three topics, namely generality, necessity, and time. But I am not satisfied with its treatment of normativity, so my comments are exclusively on that topic. (shrink)