Jake Kosek. Understories: The Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9341-3 Authors Caroline Felix Oliveira, Iowa State University, 403 East Hall, Ames, IA 50011, USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
[What It’s Like, or What It’s About? The Place of Consciousness in the Material World] Summary: The book is both a survey of the contemporary debate and a defense of a distinctive position. Most philosophers nowadays assume that the focus of the philosophy of consciousness, its shared explanandum, is a certain property of experience variously called “phenomenal character,” “qualitative character,” “qualia” or “phenomenology,” understood in terms of what it is like to undergo the experience in question. Consciousness as defined in (...) terms of its phenomenal aspect is often called “phenomenal consciousness.” The major issue that occupies most thinkers is whether this phenomenal character happens to be a physical property, or whether it is rather sui generis. Those who believe the former are materialists; those who conclude the latter are dualists. As the currently dominant metaphysic is materialism – also sometimes called physicalism – the challenge appears to be to slot phenomenal properties among the physical properties that ultimately make up the world. David Chalmers argued powerfully that we can go very far in situating many mental properties in the physical world – namely, the properties that can be understood in functional terms – but that phenomenal properties resist such a treatment. Chalmers calls this “the hard problem” of consciousness. But there are also some quite powerful positive arguments for dualism. The two most influential ones are the modal argument, also offered by Chalmers, and the knowledge argument invented by Frank Jackson. Chalmers invites us to conceive of creatures that are exactly like human beings – physically, functionally, behaviorally – only bereft of phenomenal consciousness. If such creatures are conceivable, says Chalmers, they are metaphysically possible. And if they are metaphysically possible, materialism is false. Jackson, for his part, suggests we imagine Mary who has spent her entire life inside a black-and-white room and has seen the world through a black-and-white TV screen. But she also happens to know everything there is to know about the physics of color. And yet, Jackson suggests that once Mary is finally released from her room and sees a lawn outside, she learns something new: that this is what it is like to experience green color. The current work on consciousness is by and large characterized by attempts to answer these two dualistic arguments. I try to make sense of the positions within the domain of philosophy of consciousness by means of two major distinctions that mutually intersect. First, there is a distinction between dualism and materialism. An apparent third alternative currently on offer, the so-called Russellian monism, is unstable, collapsing into either dualism (panpsychism) or materialism (Russellian physicalism). Materialism comes in two main flavors: either the a posteriori physicalism, which detects an epistemic gap between phenomenal and physical truths, hence denying that the former could be derived from the latter; or the a priori physicalism, which does not acknowledge any such obstacle. The second major distinction is between phenomenism and representationalism. It’s true that Ned Block, who introduced this contrast, meant to distinguish between two kinds of materialism. But I believe that the distinction actually intersects the one between materialism and dualism. We thus arrive at a table with six slots, representing six main positions in the philosophy of consciousness: (1) dualist phenomenism (Chalmers, the early Jackson, and Tyler Burge); (2) dualist representationalism (René Descartes); (3) aposteriori materialist phenomenism (Block); (4) a posteriori materialist representationalism (Michael Tye, Fred Dretske, David Rosenthal); (5) a priori materialist phenomenism (David Lewis); and (6) a priori materialist representationalism (Daniel Dennett, Derk Pereboom). However, this scheme is in fact somewhat misleading. It is true that Dennett is usually classified as an apriori materialist (or, more precisely an apriori materialist representationalist), but I believe that needs to be corrected. In order to understand why, I first analyze varieties of materialist representationalism in detail, in particular various construals of phenomenal character in terms of representation, or intentionality, which includes a discussion of the identity of its content (the issue of externalism). By contrast, Dennett rejects the concept of phenomenal character. Consciousness has no intrinsic, publicly inaccessible properties. On that ground, Dennett builds an empirical, fully functionalist theory of consciousness, which he also tries to integrate within a general Darwinian framework. From that point of view, one can contrast Dennettian and representationalist views on the issue of animal consciousness. In addition to his rejection of phenomenal character, Dennett also abstains from the regular metaphysical departure point of regular materialism. He does not so much ask how an enigmatic property of consciousness fits an antecedently characterized world, but rather how far we can investigate all aspects of the world, including consciousness, using the scientific method. He is thus a methodological naturalist, rather than a metaphysical materialist. While this approach removes obstacles to the science of consciousness, it does not solve what might be called “the hardest problem” – of intentionality, not phenomenal consciousness. The hardest problem consists in the fact that our intentional discourse involves conflicting commitments that prevent a coherent metaphysic of representational states. However, it does not follow that we should give up on this discourse as a theoretical means of reduction as well as a practical tool of explanation. But it might be that intentional discourse is a somewhat pseudo one. (shrink)
[Précis of What It’s Like, or What It’s About? The Place of Consciousness in the Material World] The paper provides a summary of my recent Czech-language book, WHAT IT'S LIKE, OR WHAT IT'S ABOUT? THE PLACE OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD (2017). As suggested by the subtitle, the topic of the book is philosophy of consciousness. In the contemporary literature, most participants have in mind the so-called phenomenal characters, and the main issue debated between dualists and materialists is whether (...) these characters are material properties. Even the Russellian monists, who otherwise present themselves as an alternative to both dualism and materialism, accept the concept of phenomenal character. I express doubts about this concept in chapter six of my book; accordingly, I allot most space in the paper to the material from this chapter. Despite the majority opinion, I believe that no agreement has in fact been reached concerning the content of this concept. Similarly to Daniel Dennett, I recommend trying to develop a philosophy of consciousness without the concept of phenomenal character. As is well known, Dennett – to some extent similarly to the aforementioned materialists – proposes a reduction of consciousness in terms of representation. However, I wound up rather more skeptical than Dennett, since following up on my previous book, THE METAPHYSICS OF ANTI-INDIVIDUALISMU (2008), I claim that a naturalistic theory of representation is incoherent. (shrink)
In November 1916, John Dewey’s address to the National Education Association, entitled “Nationalizing Education,” appeared in the Journal of Education. Dewey’s fervent plea called upon educators to support American public education and one of its primary goals, that “every pupil recognizes all of the factors which have gone into our [national] being.”1 He cautioned against the alternative, stating: “In short, unless our education is nationalized in a way that recognizes the peculiarity of our nationalism in its internationalism, we shall breed (...) enmity and division in our frantic efforts to secure unity.”2 Perhaps coincidentally, the doors of Schenley High School, located in the Oakland neighborhood of... (shrink)
A progressive and uncompromising work that merges fiction and theory to create an intense yet gloriously deviant look at the world through the eyes of controversial Brit-artist, Jake Chapman (of the Chapman Brothers). With protagonists who -- like his mutated Nike-wearing child mannequins -- exhibit similar aberrations, Chapman engages with Freudian theory, genetic engineering and consumerism, to create a highly original and intellectually stimulating work that is as challenging and confrontational as any of his acclaimed works of art.
Innovative practice occurs when a clinician provides something new, untested, or nonstandard to a patient in the course of clinical care, rather than as part of a research study. Commentators have noted that patients engaged in innovative practice are at significant risk of suffering harm, exploitation, or autonomy violations. By creating a pathway for harmful or nonbeneficial interventions to spread within medical practice without being subjected to rigorous scientific evaluation, innovative practice poses similar risks to the wider community of patients (...) and society as a whole. Given these concerns, how should we control and oversee innovative practice, and in particular, how should we coordinate innovative practice and clinical research? In this article, I argue that an ethical approach overseeing innovative practice must encourage the early transition to rigorous clinical research without delaying or deferring the development of beneficial innovations or violating the autonomy rights of clinicians and... (shrink)
Introductory students regularly endorse naïve skepticism—unsupported or uncritical doubt about the existence and universality of truth—for a variety of reasons. Though some of the reasons for students’ skepticism can be traced back to the student—for example, a desire to avoid engaging with controversial material or a desire to avoid offense—naïve skepticism is also the result of how introductory courses are taught, deemphasizing truth to promote students’ abilities to develop basic disciplinary skills. While this strategy has a number of pedagogical benefits, (...) it prevents students in early stages of intellectual development from understanding truth as a threshold concept. Using philosophy as a case study, I argue that we can make progress against naïve skepticism by clearly discussing how metadisciplinary aims differ at the disciplinary and course levels in a way that is meaningful, reinforced, and accessible. (shrink)
Philosophy as a way of life (PWOL) places investigations of value, meaning, and the good life at the center of philosophical investigation, especially of one’s own life. I argue PWOL is compatible with general introductory philosophy courses, further arguing that PWOL-based general introductions have several philosophical and pedagogical benefits. These include the ease with which high impact practices, situated skill development, and students’ ability to ‘think like a disciplinarian’ may be incorporated into such courses, relative to more traditional introductory courses, (...) as well as the demonstration of philosophy’s value to students by explicitly tying philosophical investigation to students own lives. (shrink)
Perceptual systems respond to proximal stimuli by forming mental representations of distal stimuli. A central goal for the philosophy of perception is to characterize the representations delivered by perceptual systems. It may be that all perceptual representations are in some way proprietarily perceptual and differ from the representational format of thought (Dretske 1981; Carey 2009; Burge 2010; Block ms.). Or it may instead be that perception and cognition always trade in the same code (Prinz 2002; Pylyshyn 2003). This paper rejects (...) both approaches in favor of perceptual pluralism, the thesis that perception delivers a multiplicity of representational formats, some proprietary and some shared with cognition. The argument for perceptual pluralism marshals a wide array of empirical evidence in favor of iconic (i.e., image-like, analog) representations in perception as well as discursive (i.e., language-like, digital) perceptual object representations. (shrink)
Progressive stacking is a strategy for prioritizing in-class contributions that allows marginalized students to speak before non-marginalized students. I argue that this strategy is both pedagogically and ethically defensible. Pedagogically, it provides benefits to all students (e.g., expanded in-class discourse) while providing special benefits (e.g., increased self-efficacy) to marginalized students, helping to address historic educational inequalities. Ethically, I argue that neither marginalized nor non-marginalized students are wronged by such a policy. First, I present a strategy for self-disclosure that reduces the (...) risk of inadvertent, unwanted disclosure while respecting marginalized student autonomy in a manner analogous to accommodations provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Second, I argue that non-marginalized students are not wronged because such students are not silenced during discussion and because non-marginalized students benefit from the prioritization of marginalized voices. (shrink)
‘Fake news’ has become an increasingly common refrain in public discourse, though the term itself has several uses, at least one of which constitutes Frankfurtian bullshit. After examining what sorts of fake news appeals do and do not count as bullshit, I discuss strategies for overcoming our openness to such bullshit. I do so by drawing a parallel between openness to bullshit and naïve skepticism—one’s willingness to reject the concept of truth on unsupported or ill-considered grounds—and suggest that this parallel (...) indicates three principles for how we ought to combat our openness to fake news and other bullshit. First, the root causes of bullshit openness are not monolithic; we should adopt anti-bullshit strategies in recognition of this fact. Second, our efforts to overcome bullshit openness should be collaborative efforts to create an environment that allows for sustained interrogation of our bullshit openness, rather than a confrontational provision of contrary evidence, despite the fact that such strategies are more time-intensive. Third, social media is unlikely to be a fertile ground on which we will make meaningful progress in the fight against bullshit because of the inherent nature of social media platforms as spaces for short, declarative, confrontational claims. (shrink)
Unconscious logical inference seems to rely on the syntactic structures of mental representations (Quilty-Dunn & Mandelbaum 2018). Other transitions, such as transitions using iconic representations and associative transitions, are harder to assimilate to syntax-based theories. Here we tackle these difficulties head on in the interest of a fuller taxonomy of mental transitions. Along the way we discuss how icons can be compositional without having constituent structure, and expand and defend the “symmetry condition” on Associationism (the idea that associative links and (...) transitions are perfectly symmetric). In the end, we show how a BIT (“bare inferential transition”) theory can cohabitate with these other non-inferential mental transitions. (shrink)
Short‐term memory in vision is typically thought to divide into at least two memory stores: a short, fragile, high‐capacity store known as iconic memory, and a longer, durable, capacity‐limited store known as visual working memory (VWM). This paper argues that iconic memory stores icons, i.e., image‐like perceptual representations. The iconicity of iconic memory has significant consequences for understanding consciousness, nonconceptual content, and the perception–cognition border. Steven Gross and Jonathan Flombaum have recently challenged the division between iconic memory and VWM by (...) arguing against the idea of capacity limits in favor of a flexible resource‐based model of short‐term memory. I argue that, while VWM capacity is probably governed by flexible resources rather than a sharp limit, the two memory stores should still be distinguished by their representational formats. Iconic memory stores icons, while VWM stores discursive (i.e., language‐like) representations. I conclude by arguing that this format‐based distinction between memory stores entails that prominent views about consciousness and the perception–cognition border will likely have to be revised. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis paper provides a naturalistic account of inference. We posit that the core of inference is constituted by bare inferential transitions, transitions between discursive mental representations guided by rules built into the architecture of cognitive systems. In further developing the concept of BITs, we provide an account of what Boghossian  calls ‘taking’—that is, the appreciation of the rule that guides an inferential transition. We argue that BITs are sufficient for implicit taking, and then, to analyse explicit taking, we posit (...) rich inferential transitions, which are transitions that the subject is disposed to endorse. (shrink)
Contrary to political and philosophical consensus, we argue that the threats posed by climate change justify population engineering, the intentional manipulation of the size and structure of human populations. Specifically, we defend three types of policies aimed at reducing fertility rates: choice enhancement, preference adjustment, and incentivization. While few object to the first type of policy, the latter two are generally rejected because of their potential for coercion or morally objectionable manipulation. We argue that forms of each policy type are (...) pragmatically and morally justified tools for preventing the harms of global climate change. (shrink)
Dispositionalism about belief has had a recent resurgence. In this paper we critically evaluate a popular dispositionalist program pursued by Eric Schwitzgebel. Then we present an alternative: a psychofunctional, representational theory of belief. This theory of belief has two main pillars: that beliefs are relations to structured mental representations, and that the relations are determined by the generalizations under which beliefs are acquired, stored, and changed. We end by describing some of the generalizations regarding belief acquisition, storage, and change.
The notion of an object file figures prominently in recent work in philosophy and cognitive science. Object files play a role in theories of singular reference, object individuation, perceptual memory, and the development of cognitive capacities. However, the philosophical literature lacks a detailed, empirically informed theory of object files. In this paper, we articulate and defend the multiple-slots view, which specifies both the format and architecture of object files. We argue that object files represent in a non-iconic, propositional format that (...) incorporates discrete symbols for separate features. Moreover, we argue that features of separate categories are stored in separate memory slots within an object file. We supplement this view with a computational framework that characterizes how information about objects is stored and retrieved. (shrink)
It is well known that classical, aka ‘sharp’, Bayesian decision theory, which models belief states as single probability functions, faces a number of serious difficulties with respect to its handling of agnosticism. These difficulties have led to the increasing popularity of so-called ‘imprecise’ models of decision-making, which represent belief states as sets of probability functions. In a recent paper, however, Adam Elga has argued in favour of a putative normative principle of sequential choice that he claims to be borne out (...) by the sharp model but not by any promising incarnation of its imprecise counterpart. After first pointing out that Elga has fallen short of establishing that his principle is indeed uniquely borne out by the sharp model, I cast aspersions on its plausibility. I show that a slight weakening of the principle is satisfied by at least one, but interestingly not all, varieties of the imprecise model and point out that Elga has failed to motivate his stronger commitment. (shrink)
According to one important proposal, the difference between perception and cognition consists in the representational formats used in the two systems (Carey, 2009; Burge, 2010; Block, 2014). In particular, it is claimed that perceptual representations are iconic, or image-like, while cognitive representations are discursive, or language-like. Taking object perception as a test case, this paper argues on empirical grounds that it requires discursive label-like representations. These representations segment the perceptual field, continuously pick out objects despite changes in their features, and (...) abstractly represent high-level features, none of which appears possible for purely iconic representations. (shrink)
The question of whether perception is encapsulated from cognition has been a major topic in the study of perception in the past decade. One locus of debate concerns the role of attention. Some theorists argue that attention is a vehicle for widespread violations of encapsulation; others argue that certain forms of cognitively driven attention are compatible with encapsulation, especially if attention only modulates inputs. This paper argues for an extreme thesis: no effect of attention, whether on the inputs to perception (...) or on perceptual processing itself, constitutes a violation of the encapsulation of perception. (shrink)
It is an orthodoxy in cognitive science that perception can occur unconsciously. Recently, Hakwan Lau, Megan Peters and Ian Phillips have argued that this orthodoxy may be mistaken. They argue that many purported cases of unconscious perception fail to rule out low degrees of conscious awareness while others fail to establish genuine perception. This paper presents a case of unconscious perception that avoids these problems. It also advances a general principle of ‘phenomenal coherence’ that can insulate some forms of evidence (...) for unconscious perception from the methodological critiques of Lau, Peters and Phillips. (shrink)
According to a classic but nowadays discarded philosophical theory, perceptual experience is a complex of nonconceptual sensory states and full-blown propositional beliefs. This classical dual-component theory of experience is often taken to be obsolete. In particular, there seem to be cases in which perceptual experience and belief conflict: cases of known illusions, wherein subjects have beliefs contrary to the contents of their experiences. Modern dual-component theories reject the belief requirement and instead hold that perceptual experience is a complex of nonconceptual (...) sensory states and some other sort of conceptual state. The most popular modern dual-component theory appeals to sui generis propositional attitudes called ‘perceptual seemings’. This article argues that the classical dual-component theory has the resources to explain known illusions without giving up the claim that the conceptual components of experience are beliefs. The classical dual-component view, though often viewed as outdated and implausible, should be regarded as a serious contender in contemporary debates about the nature of perceptual experience. (shrink)
Crispin Wright has given an explanation of how a first time warrant can fall short of transmitting across a known entailment. Formal epistemologists have struggled to turn Wright’s informal explanation into cogent Bayesian reasoning. In this paper, I analyse two Bayesian models of Wright’s account respectively proposed by Samir Okasha and Jake Chandler. I argue that both formalizations are unsatisfactory for different reasons, and I lay down a third Bayesian model that appears to me to capture the valid kernel (...) of Wright’s explanation. After this, I consider a recent development in Wright’s account of transmission failure. Wright suggests that his condition sufficient for transmission failure of first time warrant also suffices for transmission failure of supplementary warrant. I propose an interpretation of Wright’s suggestion that shield it from objections. I then lay down a fourth Bayesian framework that provides a simplified model of the unified explanation of transmission failure envisaged by Wright. (shrink)
This manuscript discusses the author’s experience implementing a secularized version of Lectio Divina, a medieval monastic contemplative reading practice, in an introductory philosophy classroom. Following brief discussion of Lectio Divina’s history and a description of how the practice was modified for the classroom, I discuss three benefits (increased attention to cognitive and noncognitive reactions to the text, willingness to engage with the material in novel ways, and the opportunity to engage in independent disciplinary practice) and three potential challenges (the time (...) required, student engagement, and the practice’s perceived religiosity) arising from the exercise. Following this, I discuss potential modifications to the exercise that instructors may wish to consider, namely strategies for addressing students’ status as novice meditators, focusing textual selections on course materials, and having students engage in some aspects of the practice as homework. (shrink)
After a number of decades of research into the dynamics of rational belief, the belief revision theory community remains split on the appropriate handling of sequences of changes in view, the issue of so-called iterated revision. It has long been suggested that the matter is at least partly settled by facts pertaining to the results of various single revisions of one’s initial state of belief. Recent work has pushed this thesis further, offering various strong principles that ultimately result in a (...) wholesale reduction of iterated to one-shot revision. The present paper offers grounds to hold that these principles should be significantly weakened and that the reductionist thesis should ultimately be rejected. Furthermore, the considerations provided suggest a close connection between the logic of iterated belief change and the logic of evidential relevance. (shrink)
Buddhism originated and developed in an Indian cultural context that featured many first-person practices for producing and exploring states of consciousness through the systematic training of attention. In contrast, the dominant methods of investigating the mind in Western cognitive science have emphasized third-person observation of the brain and behavior. In this chapter, we explore how these two different projects might prove mutually beneficial. We lay the groundwork for a cross-cultural cognitive science by using one traditional Buddhist model of the mind (...) – that of the five aggregates – as a lens for examining contemporary cognitive science conceptions of consciousness. (shrink)
I explore what BernardWilliams means by regarding one’s action ‘purely externally, as one might regard anyone else’s action’, and how it links to regret and agent-regret. I suggest some ways that we might understand the external view: as a failure to recognize what one has done, in terms of Williams’s distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic luck, and as akin to Thomas Nagel’s distinction between an internal and external view. I argue that none of these captures what Williams was getting at (...) because they do not allow one to take a view on one’s action. I offer two alternative accounts. One turns around what we identify with, the other concerns what we care about. Both accounts capture how I might regret, rather than agent-regret, my own action. I demonstrate that these accounts can explain the relationship between an insurance payout and the external view, and they can explain the agent-relativity of agent-regret. (shrink)
In a recent article, Douven and Williamson offer both (i) a rebuttal of various recent suggested sufficient conditions for rational acceptability and (ii) an alleged ‘generalization’ of this rebuttal, which, they claim, tells against a much broader class of potential suggestions. However, not only is the result mentioned in (ii) not a generalization of the findings referred to in (i), but in contrast to the latter, it fails to have the probative force advertised. Their paper does however, if unwittingly, bring (...) us a step closer to a precise characterization of an important class of rationally unacceptable propositions—the class of lottery propositions for equiprobable lotteries. This helps pave the way to the construction of a genuinely lottery-paradox-proof alternative to the suggestions criticized in (i). (shrink)
On what basis should we judge whether a parent’s medical decision for their child is morally acceptable? In a recent article, Johan Bester attempts to answer this question by defending a version of the Best Interest Standard for parental decision making. The purpose of this paper is to identify a number of problems faced by Bester’s version of BIS and to suggest ways to redress these problems. Accordingly, we intend to advance the project of formulating a method for guiding parents’ (...) medical decision making for their children. We argue that Bester’s standard fails to accommodate the autonomy of the child and that his criteria for assessing the reasonableness of the parents’ argument for their decision is too weak. We conclude that properly addressing these worries renders his test otiose and that it ought to be replaced with the three commonly held principles of bioethics—the principles of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence—and a standard of reasonableness. (shrink)
By nature we are all addicted to love... meaning we want it, seek it and have a hard time not thinking about it. We need attachment to survive and we instinctively seek connection, especially romantic connection. [But] there is nothing dysfunctional about wanting love.Throughout the ages, love has been rendered as an excruciating passion. Ovid was the first to proclaim: “I can’t live with or without you”—a locution made famous to modern ears by the Irish band U2. Contemporary film expresses (...) a similar sentiment: as Jake Gyllenhaal’s character famously says in Brokeback Mountain, “I wish I knew how to quit you.” And everyday speech, too, is rife with such expressions as “I need you” and “I’m addicted to you.”... (shrink)
Crispin Wright’s discussion of the notion of ‘transmission-failure’ promises to have important philosophical ramifications, both in epistemology and beyond. This paper offers a precise, formal characterisation of the concept within a Bayesian framework. The interpretation given avoids the serious shortcomings of a recent alternative proposal due to Samir Okasha.
A survey of the recent literature suggests that physicians should engage religious patients on religious grounds when the patient cites religious considerations for a medical decision. We offer two arguments that physicians ought to avoid engaging patients in this manner. The first is the Public Reason Argument. We explain why physicians are relevantly akin to public officials. This suggests that it is not the physician’s proper role to engage in religious deliberation. This is because the public character of a physician’s (...) role binds him/her to public reason, which precludes the use of religious considerations. The second argument is the Fiduciary Argument. We show that the patient-physician relationship is a fiduciary relationship, which suggests that the patient has the clinical expectation that physicians limit themselves to medical considerations. Since engaging in religious deliberations lies outside this set of considerations, such engagement undermines trust and therefore damages the patient-physician relationship. (shrink)
This article provides a discussion of the principle of transmission of evidential support across entailment from the perspective of belief revision theory in the AGM tradition. After outlining and briefly defending a small number of basic principles of belief change, which include a number of belief contraction analogues of the Darwiche-Pearl postulates for iterated revision, a proposal is then made concerning the connection between evidential beliefs and belief change policies in rational agents. This proposal is found to be suffcient to (...) establish the truth of a much-discussed intuition regarding transmission failure. (shrink)
As the ongoing literature on the paradoxes of the Lottery and the Preface reminds us, the nature of the relation between probability and rational acceptability remains far from settled. This article provides a novel perspective on the matter by exploiting a recently noted structural parallel with the problem of judgment aggregation. After offering a number of general desiderata on the relation between finite probability models and sets of accepted sentences in a Boolean sentential language, it is noted that a number (...) of these constraints will be satisfied if and only if acceptable sentences are true under all valuations in a distinguished non-empty set W. Drawing inspiration from distance-based aggregation procedures, various scoring rule based membership conditions for W are discussed and a possible point of contact with ranking theory is considered. The paper closes with various suggestions for further research. (shrink)
In this paper I examine John Rawls’s understanding of desert. Against Samuel Scheffler, I maintain that the reasons underlying Rawls’s rejection of the traditional view of distributive desert in A Theory of Justice also commit him to rejecting the traditional view of retributive desert. Unlike Rawls’s critics, however, I view this commitment in a positive light. I also argue that Rawls’s later work commits him to rejecting retributivism as a public justification for punishment.
I outline four competing probabilistic accounts of contrastive evidential support and consider various considerations that might help arbitrate between these. The upshot of the discussion is that the so-called 'Law of Likelihood' is to be preferred to any of the alternatives considered.