This book presents a comprehensive overview of what the criminal law would look like if organised around the principle that those who deserve punishment should receive punishment commensurate with, but no greater than, that which they deserve. Larry Alexander and Kimberly Kessler Ferzan argue that desert is a function of the actor's culpability, and that culpability is a function of the risks of harm to protected interests that the actor believes he is imposing and his reasons for acting in (...) the face of those risks. The authors deny that resultant harms, as well as unperceived risks, affect the actor's desert. They thus reject punishment for inadvertent negligence as well as for intentions or preparatory acts that are not risky. Alexander and Ferzan discuss the reasons for imposing risks that negate or mitigate culpability, the individuation of crimes, and omissions. (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)
Over the course of human history, the sciences, and biology in particular, have often been manipulated to cause immense human suffering. For example, biology has been used to justify eugenic programs, forced sterilization, human experimentation, and death camps—all in an attempt to support notions of racial superiority. By investigating the past, the contributors to _Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins_ hope to better prepare us to discern ideological abuse of science when it occurs in the future. Denis R. (...) class='Hi'>Alexander and Ronald L. Numbers bring together fourteen experts to examine the varied ways science has been used and abused for nonscientific purposes from the fifteenth century to the present day. Featuring an essay on eugenics from Edward J. Larson and an examination of the progress of evolution by Michael J. Ruse, _Biology and Ideology_ examines uses both benign and sinister, ultimately reminding us that ideological extrapolation continues today. An accessible survey, this collection will enlighten historians of science, their students, practicing scientists, and anyone interested in the relationship between science and culture. (shrink)
By pointing out parallels between Kierkegaard's thought and that of the eighteenth century "Dunkers," the author seeks to offer a case for twentieth century "Neo-Sectarianism." As he points out, "S. K. would be listened to where Menno Simons and Alexander Mock would not." Eller leaves no doubt of his devotion to Kierkegaard studies, pointing out on the dedication page that he has named one of his sons Enten Eller--a phrase which in Danish means "Either/or" and which was the title (...) of Kierkegaard's masterwork, Enten-Eller.--J. T. (shrink)
The paper promotes a cultural sociological analysis of one of the most significant and hard-to-explain events in American history when the initial act of breaking and entering into the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel first didn't attract any substantial attention of contemporaries but later initiated a widespread political crisis. J. Alexander considers the dynamics, mechanisms and consequences of the event and its public resonance, building an explanatory model based on his cultural sociological theory. This model allows to (...) reconstruct in detail the development and maintenance of the social consensus at the different levels of cultural structures and to explain its connection to the main elements of social and political context, public rituals and performances. (shrink)
At the very end of the 19th century, Gabriele Tarde wrote that all society was a product of imitation and innovation. This view regarding the development of society has, to a large extent, fallen out of favour, and especially so in those areas where the rational actor model looms large. I argue that this is unfortunate, as models of imitative learning, in some cases, agree better with what people actually do than more sophisticated models of learning. In this paper, I (...) contrast the behaviour of imitative learning with two more sophisticated learning rules in the context of social deliberation problems. I show for two social deliberation problems, the Centipede game and a simple Lewis sender-receiver game, that imitative learning provides better agreement with what people actually do, thus partially vindicating Tarde. (shrink)
This paper argues that higher-order doubt generates an epistemic dilemma. One has a higher-order doubt with regards to P insofar as one justifiably withholds belief as to what attitude towards P is justified. That is, one justifiably withholds belief as to whether one is justified in believing, disbelieving, or withholding belief in P. Using the resources provided by Richard Feldman’s recent discussion of how to respect one’s evidence, I argue that if one has a higher-order doubt with regards to P, (...) then one is not justified in having any attitude towards P. Otherwise put: No attitude towards the doubted proposition respects one’s higher-order doubt. I argue that the most promising response to this problem is to hold that when one has a higher-order doubt about P, the best one can do to respect such a doubt is to simply have no attitude towards P. Higher-order doubt is thus much more rationally corrosive than non-higher-order doubt, as it undermines the possibility of justifiably having any attitude towards the doubted proposition. (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.
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)
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)
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)
Cheap talk has often been thought incapable of supporting the emergence of cooperation because costless signals, easily faked, are unlikely to be reliable. I show how, in a social network model of cheap talk with reinforcement learning, cheap talk does enable the emergence of cooperation, provided that individuals also temporally discount the past. This establishes one mechanism that suffices for moving a population of initially uncooperative individuals to a state of mutually beneficial cooperation even in the absence of formal institutions.
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.
Objective Adolescents have had very limited access to research on biomedical prevention interventions despite high rates of HIV acquisition. One concern is that adolescents are a vulnerable population, and trials carry a possibility of harm, requiring investigators to take additional precautions. Of particular concern is preventive misconception, or the overestimation of personal protection that is afforded by enrolment in a prevention intervention trial. Methods As part of a larger study of preventive misconception in adolescent HIV vaccine trials, we interviewed 33 (...) male and female 16–19-year-olds who have sex with men. Participants underwent a simulated HIV vaccine trial consent process, and then completed a semistructured interview about their understanding and opinions related to enrolment in a HIV vaccine trial. A grounded theory analysis looked for shared concepts, and focused on the content and process of adolescent participants’ understanding of HIV vaccination and the components of preventive misconception, including experiment, placebo and randomisation. Results Across interviews, adolescents demonstrated active processing of information, in which they questioned the interviewer, verbally worked out their answers based upon information provided, and corrected themselves. We observed a wide variety of understanding of research concepts. While most understood experiment and placebo, fewer understood randomisation. All understood the need for safer sex even if they did not understand the more basic concepts. Conclusions Education about basic concepts related to clinical trials, time to absorb materials and assessment of understanding may be necessary in future biomedical prevention trials. (shrink)
Consider the problem of allocating a scarce resource to people. A fair decision procedure is one where each person has an equal chance of receiving the resource. An unfair decision procedure is one where the chances are not equal. Normally we think that, in an unfair decision procedure, that the correct way to redress the injustice is by rerunning the allocation using a fair decision procedure. In this paper, I show that this actually creates an overall bias favouring one person, (...) and solutions to this problem are counterintuitive, in that they typically involve introducing additional unfair elements into the situation. (shrink)