Hierarchical Bayesian models (HBMs) provide an account of Bayesian inference in a hierarchically structured hypothesis space. Scientific theories are plausibly regarded as organized into hierarchies in many cases, with higher levels sometimes called ‘paradigms’ and lower levels encoding more specific or concrete hypotheses. Therefore, HBMs provide a useful model for scientific theory change, showing how higher‐level theory change may be driven by the impact of evidence on lower levels. HBMs capture features described in the Kuhnian tradition, particularly the idea that (...) higher‐level theories guide learning at lower levels. In addition, they help resolve certain issues for Bayesians, such as scientific preference for simplicity and the problem of new theories. *Received July 2009; revised October 2009. †To contact the authors, please write to: Leah Henderson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, 32D‐808, Cambridge, MA 02139; e‐mail: [email protected] (shrink)
This paper provides a restatement and defense of the data/ phenomena distinction introduced by Jim Bogen and me several decades ago (e.g., Bogen and Woodward, The Philosophical Review, 303–352, 1988). Additional motivation for the distinction is introduced, ideas surrounding the distinction are clarified, and an attempt is made to respond to several criticisms.
We argue that Koch’s postulates are best understood within an interventionist account of causation, in the sense described in Woodward. We show how this treatment helps to resolve interpretive puzzles associated with Koch’s work and how it clarifies the different roles the postulates play in providing useful, yet not universal criteria for disease causation. Our paper is an effort at rational reconstruction; we attempt to show how Koch’s postulates and reasoning make sense and are normatively justified within an interventionist framework (...) and more difficult to understand within alternative frameworks for thinking about causation. (shrink)
How do people judge the degree of causal responsibility that an agent has for the outcomes of her actions? We show that a relatively unexplored factor -- the robustness of the causal chain linking the agent’s action and the outcome -- influences judgments of causal responsibility of the agent. In three experiments, we vary robustness by manipulating the number of background circumstances under which the action causes the effect, and find that causal responsibility judgments increase with robustness. In the first (...) experiment, the robustness manipulation also raises the probability of the effect given the action. Experiments 2 and 3 control for probability-raising, and show that robustness still affects judgments of causal responsibility. In particular, Experiment 3 introduces an Ellsberg type of scenario to manipulate robustness, while keeping the conditional probability and the skill deployed in the action fixed. Experiment 4, replicates the results of Experiment 3, while contrasting between judgments of causal strength and of causal responsibility. The results show that in all cases, the perceived degree of responsibility increases with the robustness of the action-outcome causal chain. (shrink)
The question of the cause of inertial reaction forces and the validity of “Mach's principle” are investigated. A recent claim that the cause of inertial reaction forces can be attributed to an interaction of the electrical charge of elementary particles with the hypothetical quantum mechanical “zero-point” fluctuation electromagnetic field is shown to be untenable. It fails to correspond to reality because the coupling of electric charge to the electromagnetic field cannot be made to mimic plausibly the universal coupling of gravity (...) and inertia to the stress-energy-momentum (i.e., matter) tensor. The gravitational explanation of the origin of inertial forces is then briefly laid out, and various important features of it explored in the last half-century are addressed. (shrink)
It is noted that Popper separates the creation of concepts, conjectures, hypotheses and theories—the context of invention—from the testing thereof—the context of justification—arguing that only the latter is susceptible of rigorous logical analysis. Efforts on the part of others to shift or eradicate the demarcation established by this distinction are discussed and the relationship of these considerations to the claims of “strong artificial intelligence” is pointed out. It is argued that the mode of education of scientists, as well as reports (...) of celebrated scientists, support Popper's judgement in this matter. An historical episode from Faraday's later career is used to illustrate the historiographical strength of Lakatos' “methodology of research programs.”. (shrink)
The explanation of inertia based on “Mach's principle” is briefly revisited and an experiment whereby the gravitational origin of inertia can be tested is described. The test consists of detecting a small stationary force with a sensitive force sensor. The force is presumably induced when a periodic transient Mach effect mass fluctuation is driven in high voltage, high energy density capacitors that are subjected to 50 kHz, 1.3 kV amplitude voltage signal, and threaded by an alternating magnetic flux of the (...) same frequency. An effect of the sort predicted is shown to be present in the device tested. It has the expected magnitude and depends on the relative phase of the Mach effect mass fluctuation and the alternating magnetic flux as expected. The observed effect also displays scaling behaviors that are unique to Mach effects. Other tests for spurious signals suggest that the observed effect is real. (shrink)
The Faradayan hypothesis of inductive coupling of the electromagnetic and gravitational fields is briefly discussed. An experiment designed to test the hypothesis wherein samples are spun to see if any electrogravitational charge is induced is described. Results of the experiment are reported. They imply the induction of a charge density ρ* for spinning samples that behaves as ρ*=βρma, where ρm is the mass density of an element of matter experiencing an acceleration a, and β is the coupling coefficient for the (...) hypothetical electrogravitational induction effect. In this experiment, β is found to have the value(9.6±3.3)×10 −13 statcoulombs/dyne. Tests that seem to rule out explanations of the observed charges in terms of conventional charging mechanisms are considered. (shrink)
An experiment designed to test the highly speculative hypothesis of photon consciousness was executed. It was found that, within the accuracy attainable with the apparatus, there is no empirical justification for the hypothesis.
Over the past several years Haisch, Rueda, and others have made the claim that the origin of inertial reaction forces can be explained as the interaction of electrically charged elementary particles with the vacuum electromagnetic zero-point field expected on the basis of quantum field theory. After pointing out that this claim, in light of the fact that the inertial masses of the hadrons reside in the electrically chargeless, photon-like gluons that bind their constituent quarks, is untenable, the question of the (...) role of quantum zero-point fields generally in the origin of inertia is explored. It is shown that, although non-gravitational zero-point fields might be the cause of the gravitational properties of normal matter, the action of non-gravitational zero-point fields cannot be the cause of inertial reaction forces. The gravitational origin of inertial reaction forces is then briefly revisited. Recent claims critical of the gravitational origin of inertial reaction forces by Haisch and his collaborators are then shown to be without merit. (shrink)
The Schuster-Blackett (S-B) conjecture, which supposes the relationshipM/J=βG 1/2 /2c between the magnetic dipole moments (M) of celestial objects and their angular momenta (J), where G is the Newtonian constant of gravitation, c the speed of light, and β a dimensionless constant of order unity, is examined in the context of the evolution of pulsar gyromagnetic ratios. It is demonstrated that the evolution of pulsar gyromagnetic ratios is not consistent with the strong form of the S-B conjecture where β is (...) taken to be a constant. The pulsar evidence, which shows evolution withM/J constant for individual short-period pulsars, however, does admit the validity of a weaker form of the S-B conjecture, where β is allowed to take on a range of values. It is also shown that the only conventional explanation of the origin of pulsar magnetic fields that produces evolution where the gyromagnetic ratio remains constant for individual pulsars which generates magnetic fields of sufficient strength, the thermally driven Hall-field-limited battery effect, may not convincingly account for the observed behavior of pulsars. A few of the implications of the S-B conjecture and the pulsar evidence are explored. (shrink)