Newton's bucket, Einstein's elevator, Schrödinger's cat – these are some of the best-known examples of thought experiments in the natural sciences. But what function do these experiments perform? Are they really experiments at all? Can they help us gain a greater understanding of the natural world? How is it possible that we can learn new things just by thinking? In this revised and updated new edition of his classic text _The Laboratory of the Mind_, James Robert Brown continues to defend (...) apriorism in the physical world. This edition features two new chapters, one on “counter thought experiments” and another on the development of inertial motion. With plenty of illustrations and updated coverage of the debate between Platonic rationalism and classic empiricism, this is a lively and engaging contribution to the field of philosophy of science. (shrink)
Contextualists such as Cohen and DeRose claim that the truth conditions of knowledge attributions vary contextually, in particular that the strength of epistemic position required for one to be truly ascribed knowledge depends on features of the attributor's context. Contextualists support their view by appeal to our intuitions about when it's correct (or incorrect) to ascribe knowledge. Someone might argue that some of these intuitions merely reflect when it is conversationally appropriate to ascribe knowledge, not when knowledge is truly ascribed, (...) and so try to accommodate these intuitions even on an invariantist view. DeRose (Blackwell Guide to Epistemology, 1998; Philosophical Review, 2002) argues that any such 'warranted assertibility manoeuvre', or 'WAM', against contextualism is unlikely to succeed. Here, I argue that his objections to a WAM against contextualism are not persuasive and offer a pragmatic account of the data about ascriptions of knowledge. (shrink)
Knowledge ascriptions are a central topic of research in both philosophy and science. In this collection of new essays on knowledge ascriptions, world class philosophers offer novel approaches to this long standing topic.
Stanley and Williamson have defended the intellectualist thesis that knowing-how is a subspecies of knowing-that by appeal to the syntax and semantics of ascriptions of knowing-how. Critics have objected that this way of defending intellectualism places undue weight on linguistic considerations and fails to give sufficient attention to empirical considerations from the scientific study of the mind. In this paper, I examine and reject Stanley's recent attempt to answer the critics.
It has become recently popular to suggest that knowledge is the epistemic norm of practical reasoning and that this provides an important constraint on the correct account of knowledge, one which favours subject-sensitive invariantism over contextualism and classic invariantism. I argue that there are putative counterexamples to both directions of the knowledge norm. Even if the knowledge norm can be defended against these counterexamples, I argue that it is a delicate issue whether it is true, one which relies on fine (...) distinctions among a variety of relevant notions of propriety which our intuitions may reflect. These notions variously apply to the agent herself, her character traits, her beliefs, her reasoning and any resultant action. Given the delicacy of these issues, I argue that the knowledge norm is not a fixed point from which to defend substantive and controversial views in epistemology. Rather, these views need to be defended on other grounds. (shrink)
1. Introduction : the mathematical image -- 2. Platonism -- 3. Picture-proofs and Platonism -- 4. What is applied mathematics? -- 5. Hilbert and Gödel -- 6. Knots and notation -- 7. What is a definition? -- 8. Constructive approaches -- 9. Proofs, pictures and procedures in Wittgenstein -- 10. Computation, proof and conjecture -- 11. How to refute the continuum hypothesis -- 12. Calling the bluff.
ABSTRACT:Global multi-stakeholder initiatives are important instruments that have the potential to improve the social and environmental sustainability of global supply chains. However, they often fail to comprehensively address the needs and interests of various supply-chain participants. While voluntary in nature, MSIs have most often been implemented through coercive approaches, resulting in friction among their participants and in systemic problems with decoupling. Additionally, in those cases in which deliberation was constrained between and amongst participants, collaborative approaches have often failed to materialize. (...) Our framework focuses on two key aspects of these breakdowns: assumptions about the orientation of MSI participants, and the deliberation processes that participants use to engage with each other to create these initiatives and sustain them over time. Drawing from stakeholder and deliberation theories, we revisit the concept of MSIs and show how their deliberative capacity may be enhanced in order to encourage participants to collaborate voluntarily. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend McKinsey's argument (Analysis 1991) that Burge's antiindividualist position is incompatible with privileged access, viz. the claim that each subject can know his own thought contents just by reflection and without having undertaken an empirical investigation. I argue that Burge thinks that there are certain necessary conditions for a subject to have thoughts involving certain sorts of concepts; these conditions are appropriately different for thoughts involving natural kind concepts and thoughts involving non-natural kind concepts. I use (...) Burge's commitment to these entailments to show that his antiindividualist position is incompatible with privileged access. (shrink)
This study addresses a central theme in current philosophy: Platonism vs Naturalism and provides accounts of both approaches to mathematics, crucially discussing Quine, Maddy, Kitcher, Lakoff, Colyvan, and many others. Beginning with accounts of both approaches, Brown defends Platonism by arguing that only a Platonistic approach can account for concept acquisition in a number of special cases in the sciences. He also argues for a particular view of applied mathematics, a view that supports Platonism against Naturalist alternatives. Not only does (...) this engaging book present the Platonist-Naturalist debate over mathematics in a comprehensive fashion, but it also sheds considerable light on non-mathematical aspects of a dispute that is central to contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
When subjects violate epistemic standards or norms, we sometimes judge them blameworthy rather than blameless. For instance, we might judge a subject blameworthy for dogmatically continuing to believe a claim even after receiving evidence which undermines it. Indeed, the idea that one may be blameworthy for belief is appealed to throughout the contemporary epistemic literature. In some cases, a subject seems blameworthy for believing as she does even though it seems prima facie implausible that she is morally blameworthy or professionally (...) blameworthy. Such cases raise the question of whether one can be blameworthy for a belief in a specifically epistemic sense rather than in some already recognised sense, such as being morally or professionally blameworthy. A number of authors have recently argued that there is a moral or social sense in which one ought to conform one’s beliefs to the evidence. In this paper, I argue that even while accepting that there are moral and social norms governing belief, there are cases in which a subject is blameworthy for a belief but isn’t plausibly morally or socially blameworthy. If this latter view is correct, then we may need to develop a new account of blame which can be applied to beliefs which are not morally or socially blameworthy. (shrink)
I consider but reject one broad strategy for answering the threshold problem for fallibilist accounts of knowledge, namely what fixes the degree of probability required for one to know? According to the impurist strategy to be considered, the required degree of probability is fixed by one's practical reasoning situation. I distinguish two different ways to implement the suggested impurist strategy. According to the Relevance Approach, the threshold for a subject to know a proposition at a time is determined by the (...) practical reasoning situations she is then in to which that particular proposition is relevant. According to the Unity Approach, the threshold for a subject to know any proposition whatsoever at a time is determined by a privileged practical reasoning situation she then faces, most plausibly the highest stakes practical reasoning situation she is then in. I argue that neither way of implementing the impurist strategy succeeds and so impurism does not offer a satisfactory response to the threshold problem. (shrink)
Poor working conditions remain a serious problem in supplier facilities in developing countries. While previous research has explored this from the developed buyers’ side, we examine this phenomenon from the perspective of developing countries’ suppliers and subcontractors. Utilizing qualitative data from a major knitwear exporting cluster in India and a stakeholder management lens, we develop a framework that shows how the assumptions of conventional, buyer-driven voluntary governance break down in the dilution of buyer power and in the web of factors (...) rooted in suppliers’ traditions, beliefs, local demands and resource dependency. We reveal out how success in governing collaborative global supply chains often falls short within the subcontracting stage, where a stakeholder management mindset is elusive to most participants. We suggest that success in governing collaborative global supply chains is dependent on concepts of stakeholder utility and the presence of shared value that is often at odds with the realities of power, information asymmetry and compliance/reward systems inherent in the non-market coordination of global supply chains. Our findings offer important insights for delineating the concepts of value creation from CSR concepts and practices, and for modifying the basic assumptions of conventional supply chain governance. (shrink)
I will ask the conditional question: if folk attributions of "know" are not sensitive to the stakes and/or the salience of error, does this cast doubt on contextualism or subject-sensitive invariantism (SSI)? I argue that if it should turn out that folk attributions of knowledge are insensitive to such factors, then this undermines contextualism, but not SSI. That is not to say that SSI is invulnerable to empirical work of any kind. Rather, I defend the more modest claim that leading (...) versions of SSI are not undermined by one particular kind of experimental result, namely the recent suggestion that knowledge attributions are insensitive to the stakes. (shrink)
In the past two decades, reinforcement learning has become a popular framework for understanding brain function. A key component of RL models, prediction error, has been associated with neural signals throughout the brain, including subcortical nuclei, primary sensory cortices, and prefrontal cortex. Depending on the location in which activity is observed, the functional interpretation of prediction error may change: Prediction errors may reflect a discrepancy in the anticipated and actual value of reward, a signal indicating the salience or novelty of (...) a stimulus, and many other interpretations. Anterior cingulate cortex has long been recognized as a region involved in processing behavioral error, and recent computational models of the region have expanded this interpretation to include a more general role for the region in predicting likely events, broadly construed, and signaling deviations between expected and observed events. Ongoing modeling work investigating the interaction between ACC and additional regions involved in cognitive control suggests an even broader role for cingulate in computing a hierarchically structured surprise signal critical for learning models of the environment. The result is a predictive coding model of the frontal lobes, suggesting that predictive coding may be a unifying computational principle across the neocortex. (shrink)
The main contribution of this paper is a new account of how a community may introduce a term for a natural kind in advance of knowing the correct scientific account of that kind. The account is motivated by the inadequacy of the currently dominant accounts of how a community may do this, namely those proposed by Kripke and by Putman. Their accounts fail to deal satisfactorily with the facts that (1) typically, an item that instantiates one natural kind instantiates several (...) - 'the higher-level natural kinds problem', and (2) natural kinds often occur in nature in impure form - 'the composition problem' .On the account I propose, a term for a natural kind gains its reference by being associated with a recognitional capacity for that kind. I show how members of a scientifically ignorant community could have a recognitional capacity for a natural kind, say gold, as opposed to a certain kind of appearance, for instance the appearance that gold actually has. I argue that members of such a community can have recognitional capacities for particular natural kinds despite the actual or possible existence of duplicate kinds, e.g. water. After developing the account in detail, I show how it can deal with the two problems faced by Kripke's and Putnam's problem. The case of natural kind terms is crucial to the central debate in the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind about whether we can refer non-descriptively to objects and kinds in the world. I take the account I propose to be a non-descriptive account of linguistic reference to natural kinds that can be used to support externalism in the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
_Philosophy of Mathematics_ is an excellent introductory text. This student friendly book discusses the great philosophers and the importance of mathematics to their thought. It includes the following topics: * the mathematical image * platonism * picture-proofs * applied mathematics * Hilbert and Godel * knots and nations * definitions * picture-proofs and Wittgenstein * computation, proof and conjecture. The book is ideal for courses on philosophy of mathematics and logic.
Contextualists support their view by appeal to cases which show that whether an attribution of knowledge seems correct depends on attributor factors. Contextualists conclude that the truth-conditions of knowledge attributions depend on the attributor's context. Invariantists respond that these cases show only that the warranted assertability-conditions of knowledge attributions depend on the attributor's context. I examine DeRose's recent argument against the possibility of such an invariantist response, an argument which appeals to the knowledge account of assertion and the context-sensitivity of (...) assertion. I argue that DeRose's new argument does not rule out either of the two forms of invariantism, classic and subject-sensitive invariantism. Further, I argue against DeRose that an invariantist can explain the context-sensitivity of assertion. (shrink)
The idea that one can blamelessly violate a norm is central to ethics and epistemology. The paper examines the prospects for an account of blameless norm violation applicable both to norms governing action and norms governing belief. In doing so, I remain neutral on just what are the norms governing action and belief. I examine three leading suggestions for understanding blameless violation of a norm which is not overridden by another norm: doxastic accounts; epistemic accounts; and appeal to expected value. (...) We see that all of these accounts face problems when understood as accounts of blameless norm violation applicable to both belief and action. This leaves a variety of options including seeking an alternative account of blameless norm violation common to belief and action; concluding that we cannot determine the correct account of blameless norm violation independently of what are the norms of belief; and abandoning the project of finding a common account of blameless norm violation common to ethics and epistemology. (shrink)
In Smoke and Mirrors , James Robert Brown fights back against figures such as Richard Rorty, Bruno Latour, Michael Ruse and Hilary Putnam who have attacked realistic accounts of science. This enlightening work also demonstrates that science mirrors the world in amazing ways. The metaphysics and epistemology of science, the role of abstraction, abstract objects, and a priori ways of getting at reality are all examined in this fascinating exploration of how science reflects reality. Both a defense of science and (...) knowledge in general and a defense of a particular way of understanding science, Smoke and Mirrors will be provocative and lively reading for all those who have an interest in how science works. (shrink)
What is the nature of the evidence provided by thought experiments in philosophy? For instance, what evidence is provided by the Gettier thought experiment against the JTB theory of knowledge? According to one view, it provides as evidence only a certain psychological proposition, e.g. that it seems to one that the subject in the Gettier case lacks knowledge. On an alternative, nonpsychological view, the Gettier thought experiment provides as evidence the nonpsychological proposition that the subject in the Gettier case lacks (...) knowledge (e.g., Williamson 2007). Given the centrality of thought experiments to philosophical enquiry, the correct account of thought experiment evidence is important for understanding the nature of philosophical methodology. Further, Williamson argues that a misguided adherence to the psychological view of thought experiment evidence encourages scepticism about philosophy since it opens a gap between our evidence and the nonpsychological subject matter of philosophy. The main aim of this paper is to defend the psychological view against recent objections. In particular, I argue that even if thought experiment evidence is psychological, it can still provide justification for non-psychological claims which are the subject matter of philosophy. (shrink)
The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has been the subject of intense interest as a locus of cognitive control. Several computational models have been proposed to account for a range of effects, including error detection, conflict monitoring, error likelihood prediction, and numerous other effects observed with single-unit neurophysiology, fMRI, and lesion studies. Here, we review the state of computational models of cognitive control and offer a new theoretical synthesis of the mPFC as signaling response–outcome predictions. This new synthesis has two interacting (...) components. The first component learns to predict the various possible outcomes of a planned action, and the second component detects discrepancies between the actual and intended responses; the detected discrepancies in turn update the outcome predictions. This single construct is consistent with a wide array of performance monitoring effects in mPFC and suggests a unifying account of the cognitive role of medial PFC in performance monitoring. (shrink)
Is there a link between how a firm manages its internal and external stakeholders? More specifically, are firms that give employees stock ownership and more say in running the enterprise more likely to engage with external stakeholders? This study seeks to answer these questions by elaborating on mechanisms that link employees to external stakeholders, such as the community, suppliers, and the environment. It tests these relationships using a sample of 347 private, mostly small-to-medium size firms, which completed a stakeholder impact (...) assessment organized by the non-profit B Lab. The results support the hypotheses that both employee ownership and employee involvement are positively associated with external stakeholder engagement. Further, we found that certification plays a role, as employee ownership contributes to external stakeholder engagement only in certified B Corporations, and not in firms that merely completed the B Lab Impact assessment. Our findings have import for stakeholder engagement frameworks, as we show that there is interplay between internal employee stakeholders and external stakeholders that may be important to overall firm–stakeholder management. (shrink)
Everyone appreciates a clever mathematical picture, but the prevailing attitude is one of scepticism: diagrams, illustrations, and pictures prove nothing; they are psychologically important and heuristically useful, but only a traditional verbal/symbolic proof provides genuine evidence for a purported theorem. Like some other recent writers (Barwise and Etchemendy ; Shin ; and Giaquinto ) I take a different view and argue, from historical considerations and some striking examples, for a positive evidential role for pictures in mathematics.
Examples of classic thought experiments are presented and some morals drawn. The views of my fellow symposiasts, Tamar Gendler, John Norton, and James McAllister, are evaluated. An account of thought experiments along a priori and Platonistic lines is given. I also cite the related example of proving theorems in mathematics with pictures and diagrams. To illustrate the power of these methods, a possible refutation of the continuum hypothesis using a thought experiment is sketched.
According to one contemporary formulation of infallibilism, probability 1 infallibilism, if a subject knows that p, then the probability of p on her evidence is 1. To avoid an implausible scepticism about knowledge, probability 1 infallibilism needs to allow that, in a wide range of cases, a proposition can be evidence for itself. However, such infallibilism needs to explain why it is typically infelicitous to cite p as evidence for p itself. I argue that probability 1 infallibilism has no explanation (...) of this infelicity and should be rejected. (shrink)