Realism is an enlightening story, a tale which enriches our experience and makes it more intelligible. Yet this wonderful picture of humanity's best efforts at knowledge has been badly bruised by numerous critics. James Robert Brown in _Smoke and Mirrors_ fights back against figures such as Richard Rorty, Bruno Latour, Michael Ruse and Hilary Putnam who have attacked realist accounts of science. But this volume is not wholly devoted to combating Rorty and others who blow smoke in our (...) eyes; the second half is concerned with arguing that there are some amazing ways in which science mirrors the world. The role of abstraction, abstract objects and _a priori_ ways of getting at reality are all explored in showing how science reflects reality. _Smoke and Mirrors_ is a defence of science and knowledge in general as well as a defence of a particular way of understanding science. It is of interest to all those who wish or need to know how science works. (shrink)
For decisions between many alternatives, the benchmark result is Hick's Law: that response time increases log-linearly with the number of choice alternatives. Even when Hick's Law is observed for response times, divergent results have been observed for error rates—sometimes error rates increase with the number of choice alternatives, and sometimes they are constant. We provide evidence from two experiments that error rates are mostly independent of the number of choice alternatives, unless context effects induce participants to trade speed for accuracy (...) across conditions. Error rate data have previously been used to discriminate between competing theoretical accounts of Hick's Law, and our results question the validity of those conclusions. We show that a previously dismissed optimal observer model might provide a parsimonious account of both response time and error rate data. The model suggests that people approximate Bayesian inference in multi-alternative choice, except for some perceptual limitations. (shrink)
Discrete choice experiments—selecting the best and/or worst from a set of options—are increasingly used to provide more efficient and valid measurement of attitudes or preferences than conventional methods such as Likert scales. Discrete choice data have traditionally been analyzed with random utility models that have good measurement properties but provide limited insight into cognitive processes. We extend a well-established cognitive model, which has successfully explained both choices and response times for simple decision tasks, to complex, multi-attribute discrete choice data. The (...) fits, and parameters, of the extended model for two sets of choice data (involving patient preferences for dermatology appointments, and consumer attitudes toward mobile phones) agree with those of standard choice models. The extended model also accounts for choice and response time data in a perceptual judgment task designed in a manner analogous to best–worst discrete choice experiments. We conclude that several research fields might benefit from discrete choice experiments, and that the particular accumulator-based models of decision making used in response time research can also provide process-level instantiations for random utility models. (shrink)
El filósofo francés Alain Guy (La Rochelle, 1918 - Narbonne, 1998) dedicó por entero su vida al estudio de la filosofía española e hispanoamericana, dándola a conocer no sólo en el extranjero sino también en nuestro país.
If classical Western theism is correct that God's timeless omniscience is compatible with human free will, then it is incoherent to hold that this God can in any strict sense be immutable and a se as well as omniscient. That is my thesis. ‘Classical theism’ shall refer here to the tradition of philosophical theology centring on such mainstream authors as Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. ‘Divine omniscience’ shall mean that the eternal God knows all events as a timeless observer of them. (...) ‘Human free will’ shall mean that human beings are, at least sometimes, self-determining agents who make choices not decisively caused to be what they are by external or internal factors other than the free willing itself – choices that these agents have the capacity and the freedom to make differently than they do. Except where stipulated otherwise, ‘divine immutability’ shall ‘mean that God is neither subject to, nor capable of, change in being, knowing, or willing, since God is immune to external influences, and without internal needs, of the sorts that might give rise to such change. Finally, ‘aseity’ shall be used to underline the divine immunity to external influences, since a being that is wholly a se or self-caused , cannot be open to such influences, cannot be made to be what or how it is by anything other than itself. (shrink)
That the legacy of Berkeley's philosophy has been a largely sceptical one is perhaps rather surprising. For he himself took it as one of his objectives to undermine scepticism. He roundly denied that there were ‘any principles more opposite to Scepticism than those we have laid down’. Yet Hume was to write of Berkeley that ‘most of the writings of that very ingenious author form the best lessons of scepticism, Bayle not excepted’. And it has become something of a commonplace (...) to say that Berkeley's philosophy is sceptical in direction, if not in intention. He is represented as a half-hearted sceptic, applying radical empiricist principles in his treatment of matter but baulking at their implications when he came to consider spirits. Hume is credited with being the more thoroughgoing of the two. Berkeley had denied the substantiality of extended things. Hume felt obliged, by parity of reasoning, to deny the substantiality of the self. On his account of the mind there is ‘properly no simplicity in it at one time, nor identity in different’. It is commonly supposed that Berkeley, in maintaining the quite contrary view that we know ourselves to be simple, undivided beings, showed a lack of rigour or consistency. (shrink)
As my title implies, I think the verifiability criterion is indeed a criterion of something. I do not intend, therefore, merely to commemorate it. On the other hand I am not sure that those who put it forward in its more liberal forms as a criterion of ‘factual significance’ or ‘literal meaningfulness’ were right in what they identified as the consequence of a sentence's failing to satisfy it. What I want to argue for, in a somewhat reductionist spirit, is a (...) resurrected version of the ‘weak’ verifiability criterion. My resurrected version will certainly appear more rarefied, in so far as it is independent of empiricism. It will, I hope, also be purified of some of the mortal blemishes from which the criterion, as construed by members of the Vienna Circle, seems not to have recovered. (shrink)
Psychological egoism is, I suppose, regarded by most philosophers as one of the more simple-minded fallacies in the history of philosophy, and dangerous and seductive too, contriving as it does to combine cynicism about human ideals and a vague sense of scientific method, both of which make the ordinary reader feel sophisticated, with conceptual confusion, which he cannot resist. For all of these reasons it springs eternal, in one form or another, in the breasts of first-year students, and offers excellent (...) material for their philosophy instructors, who like nothing better than an edifice of sturdy appearance but with rotten foundations on which to display their skill as demolition experts. (shrink)
Generally, I find gatherings of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness more interesting and congenial than the Tucson conferences. There are at least two reasons for this, the first one obvious: the former is smaller. Less crowds, more chances to participate in discussions . The second reason reflects my predispositions, and of course those of the ASSC: the talks, research, and speculation are closely data-driven. I find it highly refreshing to attend talks on consciousness which are reporting experiments (...) done by groups employing stringent quality controls, and to hear speculation which is carefully restrained to inferences that closely and clearly follow from consensually verified data. I find it hopeful that researchers have not abandoned lines of inquiry which have decades of experiments to back them up merely because they have not yet found answers to some particular questions. But hey, these are my own biases; I'm someone who thinks the Skeptical Inquirer is a valuable resource. (shrink)
To many Western students of India, svarāj and mokṣa have often seemed to represent two very different ideals of freedom, the former social, political, and modern; the latter individual, spiritual, and traditional. It is not surprising that the Hindu ideal of spiritual freedom is most commonly known by the term mokṣa , for it is this word that is usually listed as the fourth and supreme goal in the famous four ends of man . The first three ends, desire , (...) success , and morality , find their fulfillment within society, while mokṣa , it is generally said, takes one beyond society. It is pertinent to note, as Ingalls and others have pointed out, that mokṣa is a relatively late term, which came to be added to the older, first three goals of man. As a noun, mokṣa does not appear until the latest of the Upanisads, and then only three times, in Śvetāśvatara 6.16 and Maitrī 6.20 and 30. In addition, some orthodox schools did not accept the ideal of mokṣa for several more centuries, the Mīmāṁsā denying it until the eighth century A.D. (shrink)
Applied ethics work seems to me to be of three main kinds. There is participatory work, where a person whose specialism is ethics participates in a process leading to ethical judgments or decisions. And there are two kinds of teaching work where the teaching objective is to make learners better placed to participate in such processes; one kind of teaching work relates to matters which are specific to the future occupation of the learner, the other kind relates to matters which (...) are not specific to it. (shrink)
In what sense can we not help thinking that every event has a cause? One answer is, that this begs the question: we can think of events as uncaused. Well, we can think of events in isolation from causes, and we can formulate the proposition that some events have no cause, or that no event needs a cause. But the first of these does not constitute thinking of an event as not caused , but thinking of an event not-as-caused ; (...) while the implications of the second, forming anti-causal propositions, are obscure. I can verbally formulate the proposition ‘some events are uncaused’; the question is, whether it makes sense to affirm it. Now I can verbally formulate the proposition ‘some triangles are quadrilateral’, and we must not say that this does not make sense ; for I know the criteria for being a triangle, and I know the criteria for being quadrilateral; and the proposition simply asserts that there are some figures which satisfy both sets of criteria. That this is logically impossible is true, but it is not unintelligible. It does not, however, make sense to affirm a logical impossibility, simply because I cannot meaningfully affirm what I do not understand and believe to be possible , and if I understand what it means to be both triangular and quadrilateral, I cannot also believe it to be possible, since to understand what it means for a plane figure to have three sides is to understand that this excludes its having any other number of sides, e.g. four. But ‘some events are not caused’ is not logically incoherent in this way, or not apparently so; for in thinking of an event I am by definition thinking of a happening in isolation from any cause; I am thinking of it not as caused . Thus ‘some events are uncaused’ is not incoherent ex vi terminorum. (shrink)
In Better Never to Have Been, David Benatar argues that existence is always a harm. His argument, in brief, is that this follows from a theory of personal good which we ought to accept because it best explains several???asymmetries???. I shall argue here that Benatar's theory suffers from a defect which was already widely known to afflict similar theories, and that the main asymmetry he discusses is better explained in a way which allows that existence is often not a harm.