A growing body of empirical literature challenges philosophers’ reliance on intuitions as evidence based on the fact that intuitions vary according to factors such as cultural and educational background, and socio-economic status. Our research extends this challenge, investigating Lehrer’s appeal to the Truetemp Case as evidence against reliabilism. We found that intuitions in response to this case vary according to whether, and which, other thought experiments are considered first. Our results show that compared to subjects who receive the Truetemp Case (...) first, subjects first presented with a clear case of knowledge are less willing to attribute knowledge in the Truetemp Case, and subjects first presented with a clear case of nonknowledge are more willing to attribute knowledge in the Truetemp Case. We contend that this instability undermines the supposed evidential status of these intuitions, such that philosophers who deal in intuitions can no longer rest comfortably in their armchairs. (shrink)
Recent experimental philosophy arguments have raised trouble for philosophers' reliance on armchair intuitions. One popular line of response has been the expertise defense: philosophers are highly-trained experts, whereas the subjects in the experimental philosophy studies have generally been ordinary undergraduates, and so there's no reason to think philosophers will make the same mistakes. But this deploys a substantive empirical claim, that philosophers' training indeed inculcates sufficient protection from such mistakes. We canvass the psychological literature on expertise, which indicates that people (...) are not generally very good at reckoning who will develop expertise under what circumstances. We consider three promising hypotheses concerning what philosophical expertise might consist in: (i) better conceptual schemata; (ii) mastery of entrenched theories; and (iii) general practical know-how with the entertaining of hypotheticals. On inspection, none seem to provide us with good reason to endorse this key empirical premise of the expertise defense. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy uses experimental research methods from psychology and cognitive science in order to investigate both philosophical and metaphilosophical questions. It explores philosophical questions about the nature of the psychological world - the very structure or meaning of our concepts of things, and about the nature of the non-psychological world - the things themselves. It also explores metaphilosophical questions about the nature of philosophical inquiry and its proper methodology. This book provides a detailed and provocative introduction to this innovative field, (...) focusing on the relationship between experimental philosophy and the aims and methods of more traditional analytic philosophy. Special attention is paid to carefully examining experimental philosophy's quite different philosophical programs, their individual strengths and weaknesses, and the different kinds of contributions that they can make to our philosophical understanding. Clear and accessible throughout, it situates experimental philosophy within both a contemporary and historical context, explains its aims and methods, examines and critically evaluates its most significant claims and arguments, and engages with its critics. (shrink)
It has been standard philosophical practice in analytic philosophy to employ intuitions generated in response to thought-experiments as evidence in the evaluation of philosophical claims. In part as a response to this practice, an exciting new movement—experimental philosophy—has recently emerged. This movement is unified behind both a common methodology and a common aim: the application of methods of experimental psychology to the study of the nature of intuitions. In this paper, we will introduce two different views concerning the relationship that (...) holds between experimental philosophy and the future of standard philosophical practice (what we call, the proper foundation view and the restrictionist view), discuss some of the more interesting and important results obtained by proponents of both views, and examine the pressure these results put on analytic philosophers to reform standard philosophical practice. We will also defend experimental philosophy from some recent objections, suggest future directions for work in experimental philosophy, and suggest what future lines of epistemological response might be available to those wishing to defend analytic epistemology from the challenges posed by experimental philosophy. (shrink)
In recent years, a number of philosophers have conducted empirical studies that survey people's intuitions about various subject matters in philosophy. Some have found that intuitions vary accordingly to seemingly irrelevant facts: facts about who is considering the hypothetical case, the presence or absence of certain kinds of content, or the context in which the hypothetical case is being considered. Our research applies this experimental philosophical methodology to Judith Jarvis Thomson's famous Loop Case, which she used to call into question (...) the validity of the intuitively plausible Doctrine of Double Effect. We found that intuitions about the Loop Case vary according to the context in which the case is considered. We contend that this undermines the supposed evidential status of intuitions about the Loop Case. We conclude by considering the implications of our findings for philosophers who rely on the Loop Case to make philosophical arguments and for philosophers who use intuitions in general. (shrink)
This article examines two questions about scientists’ search for knowledge. First, which search strategies generate discoveries effectively? Second, is it advantageous to diversify search strategies? We argue pace Weisberg and Muldoon, “Epistemic Landscapes and the Division of Cognitive Labor”, that, on the first question, a search strategy that deliberately seeks novel research approaches need not be optimal. On the second question, we argue they have not shown epistemic reasons exist for the division of cognitive labor, identifying the errors that led (...) to their conclusions. Furthermore, we generalize the epistemic landscape model, showing that one should be skeptical about the benefits of social learning in epistemically complex environments. (shrink)
Our interest in this paper is to drive a wedge of contention between two different programs that fall under the umbrella of “experimental philosophy”. In particular, we argue that experimental philosophy’s “negative program” presents almost as significant a challenge to its “positive program” as it does to more traditional analytic philosophy.
From its very beginnings, the social study of culture has been polarized between structuralist theories that treat meaning as a text and investigate the patterning that provides relative autonomy and pragmatist theories that treat meaning as emerging from the contingencies of individual and collective action-so-called practices-and that analyze cultural patterns as reflections of power and material interest. In this article, I present a theory of cultural pragmatics that transcends this division, bringing meaning structures, contingency, power, and materiality together in a (...) new way. My argument is that the materiality of practices should be replaced by the more multidimensional concept of performances. Drawing on the new field of performance studies, cultural pragmatics demonstrates how social performances, whether individual or collective, can be analogized systematically to theatrical ones. After defining the elements of social performance, I suggest that these elements have become "de-fused" as societies have become more complex. Performances are successful only insofar as they can "re-fuse" these increasingly disentangled elements. In a fused performance, audiences identify with actors, and cultural scripts achieve verisimilitude through effective mise-en-scène. Performances fail when this relinking process is incomplete: the elements of performance remain apart, and social action seems inauthentic and artificial, failing to persuade. Refusion, by contrast, allows actors to communicate the meanings of their actions successfully and thus to pursue their interests effectively. (shrink)
It has become increasingly popular to respond to experimental philosophy by suggesting that experimental philosophers haven’t been studying the right kind of thing. One version of this kind of response, which we call the reflection defense, involves suggesting both that philosophers are interested only in intuitions that are the product of careful reflection on the details of hypothetical cases and the key concepts involved in those cases, and that these kinds of philosophical intuitions haven’t yet been adequately studied by experimental (...) philosophers. Of course, as a defensivemove, thisworks only if reflective intuitions are immune from the kinds of problematic effects that form the basis of recent experimental challenges to philosophy’s intuition-deploying practices. If they are not immune to these kinds of effects, then the fact that experimental philosophers have not had the right kind of thing in their sights would provide little comfort to folks invested in philosophy’s intuition-deploying practices. Here we provide reasons to worry that even reflective intuitions can display sensitivity to the same kinds of problematic effects, although possibly in slightly different ways. As it turns out, being reflective might sometimes just mean being wrong in a different way. (shrink)
Jennifer Nagel (2010) has recently proposed a fascinating account of the decreased tendency to attribute knowledge in conversational contexts in which unrealized possibilities of error have been mentioned. Her account appeals to epistemic egocentrism, or what is sometimes called the curse of knowledge, an egocentric bias to attribute our own mental states to other people (and sometimes our own future and past selves). Our aim in this paper is to investigate the empirical merits of Nagel’s hypothesis about the psychology involved (...) in knowledge attribution. (shrink)
Philosophical discussions often involve appeals to verdicts about particular cases, sometimes actual, more often hypothetical, and usually with little or no substantive argument in their defense. Philosophers — on both sides of debates over the standing of this practice — have often called the basis for such appeals ‘intuitions’. But, what might such ‘intuitions’ be, such that they could legitimately serve these purposes? Answers vary, ranging from ‘thin’ conceptions that identify intuitions as merely instances of some fairly generic and epistemologically (...) uncontroversial category of mental states or episodes to ‘thick’ conceptions that add to this thin base certain semantic, phenomenological, etiological, or methodological conditions. As this chapter discusses, thick conceptions turn out to have their own methodological problems; some may even leave philosophers in the methodologically untenable position of being unable to determine when anyone is doing philosophy correctly. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy has emerged as a very specific kind of response to an equally specific way of thinking about philosophy, one typically associated with philosophical analysis and according to which philosophical claims are measured, at least in part, by our intuitions. Since experimental philosophy has emerged as a response to this way of thinking about philosophy, its philosophical significance depends, in no small part, on how significant the practice of appealing to intuitions is to philosophy. In this paper, I defend (...) the significance of experimental philosophy by defending the significance of intuitions—in particular, by defending their significance from a recent challenge advanced by Timothy Williamson. (shrink)
Disagreement is a hot topic right now in epistemology, where there is spirited debate between epistemologists who argue that we should be moved by the fact that we disagree and those who argue that we need not. Both sides to this debate often use what is commonly called “the method of cases,” designing hypothetical cases involving peer disagreement and using what we think about those cases as evidence that specific normative theories are true or false, and as reasons for believing (...) as such. With so much weight being given in the epistemology of disagreement to what people think about cases of peer disagreement, our goal in this paper is to examine what kinds of things might shape how people think about these kinds of cases. We will show that two different kinds of framing effect shape how people think about cases of peer disagreement, and examine both what this means for how the method of cases is used in the epistemology of disagreement and what this might tell us about the role that motivated cognition is playing in debates about which normative positions about peer disagreement are right and wrong. (shrink)
Amodel for inventing newsignals is introduced in the context of sender–receiver games with reinforcement learning. If the invention parameter is set to zero, it reduces to basic Roth–Erev learning applied to acts rather than strategies, as in Argiento et al.. If every act is uniformly reinforced in every state it reduces to the Chinese Restaurant Process—also known as the Hoppe–Pólya urn—applied to each act. The dynamics can move players from one signaling game to another during the learning process. Invention helps (...) agents avoid pooling and partial pooling equilibria. (shrink)
There are two ways of understanding experimental philosophy's process of appealing to intuitions as evidence for or against philosophical claims: the positive and negative programs. This chapter deals with how the positivist method of conceptual analysis is affected by the results of the negative program. It begins by describing direct extramentalism, semantic mentalism, conceptual mentalism, and mechanist mentalism, all of which argue that intuitions are credible sources of evidence and will therefore be shared. The negative program challenges this view by (...) questioning if there can be in fact a shared intuition about a specific hypothetical case, as conflicting intuitions are as likely to arise. The chapter then discusses other issues raised by the negativists such as the limits of surveys and the proper domain problem. (shrink)
Multiarm bandit problems have been used to model the selection of competing scientific theories by boundedly rational agents. In this paper, I define a variable-arm bandit problem, which allows the set of scientific theories to vary over time. I show that Roth-Erev reinforcement learning, which solves multiarm bandit problems in the limit, cannot solve this problem in a reasonable time. However, social learning via preferential attachment combined with individual reinforcement learning which discounts the past, does.
Social theory between progress and apocalypse -- Autonomy and domination: Weber's cage -- Barbarism and modernity: Eisenstadt's regret -- Integration and justice: Parsons' utopia -- Despising others: Simmel's stranger -- Meaning evil -- De-civilizing the civil sphere -- Psychotherapy as central institution -- The frictions of modernity and their possible repair.
Evolutionary game theoretic accounts of justice attempt to explain our willingness to follow certain principles of justice by appealing to robustness properties possessed by those principles. Skyrms (1996) offers one sketch of how such an account might go for divide-the-dollar, the simplest version of the Nash bargaining game, using the replicator dynamics of Taylor and Jonker (1978). In a recent article, D'Arms et al. (1998) criticize his account and describe a model which, they allege, undermines his theory. I sketch a (...) theory of evolutionary explanations of justice which avoids their methodological criticisms, and develop a spatial model of divide-the-dollar with more robust convergence properties than the models of Skyrms (1996) and D'Arms et al. (1998). (shrink)
This article suggests an iconic turn in cultural sociology. Icons can be seen, it is argued, as symbolic condensations that root social meanings in material form, allowing the abstractions of cognition and morality to be subsumed, to be made invisible, by aesthetic shape. Meaning is made iconically visible, in other words, by the beautiful, sublime, ugly, or simply by the mundane materiality of everyday life. But it is via the senses that iconic power is made. This new approach to meaning (...) is compared with others — with materialism, semiotics, aestheticism, moralism, realism, and spiritualism. (shrink)
After introducing a perspective on terrorism as postpolitical and after establishing the criteria for success that are immanent in this form of antipolitical action, this essay interprets September 11, 2001, and its aftermath inside a cultural-sociological perspective. After introducing a macro-model of social performance that combines structural and semiotic with pragmatic and power-oriented dimensions, I show how the terrorist attack on New York City and the counterattacks that immediately occurred in response can be viewed as an iteration of the performance/counterperformance (...) dialectic that began decades, indeed centuries, ago in terms of the relation of Western expansion and Arab-Muslim reaction. I pay careful attention to the manner in which the counterperformance of New Yorkers and Americans develops an idealized, liminal alternative that inspired self-defense and outrage, leading to exactly the opposite performance results from those the al-Qaeda terrorists had intended. (shrink)
Decision theory faces a number of problematic gambles which challenge it to say what value an ideal rational agent should assign to the gamble, and why. Yet little attention has been devoted to the question of what an ideal rational agent is, and in what sense decision theory may be said to apply to one. I show that, given one arguably natural set of constraints on the preferences of an idealized rational agent, such an agent is forced to be indifferent (...) among entire families of goods, and hence cannot choose among them. This result illustrates the dangers of speaking of the choices of an ?ideal rational agent? when one does not make precise the exact nature of the idealizing assumptions. The result may also be viewed as providing an upper bound on the kinds of idealizing assumptions which can be made for rational agents, beyond which the very concept of choice becomes attenuated. (shrink)
This article examines a key question emerging from the strong program in cultural sociology — can art provide a window into social life? An examination of Giacometti's Standing Woman shows that art attempts to express cultural structures via immersion into and through the material surfaces of aesthetic form. Through an analysis of the iconic significance of family photos, furniture and celebrities, the article goes on to suggest that such iconic experience remains at the basis of contemporary social life. It explains (...) how we feel part of our surroundings, how we experience the ties that bind us to the people we know and how we develop a feeling for cultural hierarchy. (shrink)
Sender–receiver games, first introduced by David Lewis (), have received increased attention in recent years as a formal model for the emergence of communication. Skyrms () showed that simple models of reinforcement learning often succeed in forming efficient, albeit not necessarily minimal, signalling systems for a large family of games. Later, Alexander et al. () showed that reinforcement learning, combined with forgetting, frequently produced both efficient and minimal signalling systems. In this article, I define a ‘dynamic’ sender–receiver game in which (...) the state–action pairs are not held constant over time and show that neither of these two models of learning learn to signal in this environment. However, a model of reinforcement learning with discounting of the past does learn to signal; it also gives rise to the phenomenon of linguistic drift. 1 Introduction2 Dynamic Signalling Games with Reinforcement Learning2.1 Introducing new states2.2 Swapping state–action pairs3 Discounting the Past3.1 Learning to signal in a dynamic world3.2 An unexpected outcome: linguistic drift4 ConclusionAppendix: A Markov Chain Analysis. (shrink)
The Pasadena game is an example of a decision problem which lacks an expected value, as traditionally conceived. Easwaran (2008) has shown that, if we distinguish between two different kinds of expectations, which he calls ‘strong’ and ‘weak’, the Pasadena game lacks a strong expectation but has a weak expectation. Furthermore, he argues that we should use the weak expectation as providing a measure of the value of an individual play of the Pasadena game. By considering a modified version of (...) the Pasadena game, I argue that weak expectations may provide a very poor measure of the value of an individual play of the game, and hence should not be used to value individual plays unless further information is taken into consideration. (shrink)
One of the most important contributions of the Parsonian tradition has been its conceptualization of the relative autonomy and mutual interpenetration of culture and social systems. The first part of this chapter defines three ideal types of empirical relationships between culture and society: specification, refraction, and columnization. Each is related to different configurations of social structure and culture and, in turn, to different degrees of social conflict. The second part of the chapter uses this typology to illuminate critical aspects of (...) the relationship between conflict and integration in the Watergate crisis in the U.S. (shrink)
Cultural trauma occurs when members of a collectivity feel they have been subjected to a horrendous event that leaves indelible marks upon their group consciousness, marking their memories forever and changing their future identity in fundamental and irrevocable ways. While this new scientific concept clarifies causal relationships between previously unrelated events, structures, perceptions, and actions, it also illuminates a neglected domain of social responsibility and political action. By constructing cultural traumas, social groups, national societies, and sometimes even entire civilizations, not (...) only cognitively identify the existence and source of human suffering, but may also take on board some significant moral responsibility for it. Insofar as they identify the cause of trauma in a manner that assumes such moral responsibility, members of collectivities define their solidary relationships that allow them to share the suffering of others. Is the suffering of others also our own? In thinking that it might in fact be, societies expand the circle of the ‘we’ and create the possibility for repairing societies to prevent the trauma from happening again. By the same token, social groups can, and often do, refuse to recognize the existence of others’ suffering, or place the responsibility for it on people other than themselves. Empirically, this article extensively considers trauma construction in the case of the Holocaust – the mass murder of Jews by the German Nazis – but also examines trauma processes in relation to African-Americans, indigenous peoples, colonial victims of Western and Japanese imperialism, the Nanjing Massacre, and victims of the early communist regimes in Soviet Russia and Maoist China. (shrink)
In the course of history, many individuals have the dubious honor of being remembered primarily for an eponym of which they would disapprove. How many are aware that Joseph-Ignace Guillotin actually opposed the death penalty? Another notable case is that of Maria Agnesi, an Italian woman of privileged, but not noble, birth who excelled at mathematics and philosophy during the eighteenth century. In her treatise of 1748, Instituzioni Analitiche, she provided a comprehensive summary of the current state of knowledge concerning (...) both integral calculus and differential equations. Later in life she was elected to the Bologna Academy of Sciences and, in 1762, was consulted by the University of Turin for an opinion on the work of an up-and-coming mathematician named Joseph-Louis Lagrange. (shrink)
If we define tradition too hastily we leave to one side the question of what the relevance of tradition is for us. Here the concept of tradition is opened up by considering the different views of it taken by Hannah Arendt, Michael Oakeshott and Alasdair MacIntyre. We see that each has put tradition into a fully developed picture of what our predicament is in modernity; and that each has differed in their assessment of what our relation to tradition is or (...) should be. Arendt sees tradition as something which no longer conditions action, Oakeshott sees tradition as something which conditions all action, and MacIntyre sees tradition as something which should condition right action. In each case, the view of tradition is clearly one element in an attempt to see how the most important constituent elements of human existence – variously called the human condition, human conduct, or human virtue – should be understood in a modernity which is ours because it has put the traditional concept of tradition into question. (shrink)
Recent years have seen increased interest in the question of whether it is possible to provide an evolutionary game-theoretic explanation for certain kinds of social norms. I sketch a proof of a general representation theorem for a large class of evolutionary game-theoretic models played on a social network, in hope that this will contribute to a greater understanding of the long-term evolutionary dynamics of such models, and hence the evolution of social norms.
While dominant management thinking is steered by profit maximisation, this paper proposes that sustained organisational growth can best be stimulated by attention to the common good and the capacity of corporate leaders to create commitment to the common good. The leadership thinking of Kautilya and Ashoka embodies this principle. Both offer a common good approach, emphasising the leader's moral and legal responsibility for people's welfare, the robust interaction between the business community and the state, and the importance of moral training (...) of leaders in identifying and promoting the common good. We argue that the complex process of re-orientating corporate priorities towards the common good requires alertness and concerted effort if both business and society are to truly benefit. As Ashoka said: ‘A good deed is a difficult thing’. (shrink)
In the age of the `return to the empirical' in which the theoretical disputes of an earlier era seem to have fallen silent, we seek to excavate the intellectual conditions for reviving theoretical debate, for it is upon this recovery that deeper understanding of the nature and purpose of empirical social science depends. We argue against the all too frequent turn to ontology, whereby critical realists have sought an epistemological guarantor of sociological validity. We seek, to the contrary, to crystallize (...) a culturally-based, hermeneutic account of a rational social science. Derived from disputes within the sociology of culture, on the one hand, and the long-standing concerns of interpretive philosophy, on the other, we offer a cultural-sociological approach to epistemology. We view the production of truth in social science as a reading of a meaningful social world, and as a performance of truth-claims that is constrained by evidence, but whose success depends on other contextual factors. We conclude that the rationality of social science can be achieved only by forgoing ontology. Theories are abstractions of investigators' meanings that allow the interpretation of social meanings in turn, whether those are actions, relations, or structures. Successful explanations are those that intertwine these meaning structures of investigators and actors in an effective way. (shrink)