Belief polarization is said to occur when two people respond to the same evidence by updating their beliefs in opposite directions. This response is considered to be “irrational” because it involves contrary updating, a form of belief updating that appears to violate normatively optimal responding, as for example dictated by Bayes' theorem. In light of much evidence that people are capable of normatively optimal behavior, belief polarization presents a puzzling exception. We show that Bayesian networks, or Bayes nets, can simulate (...) rational belief updating. When fit to experimental data, Bayes nets can help identify the factors that contribute to polarization. We present a study into belief updating concerning the reality of climate change in response to information about the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming. The study used representative samples of Australian and U.S. participants. Among Australians, consensus information partially neutralized the influence of worldview, with free-market supporters showing a greater increase in acceptance of human-caused global warming relative to free-market opponents. In contrast, while consensus information overall had a positive effect on perceived consensus among U.S. participants, there was a reduction in perceived consensus and acceptance of human-caused global warming for strong supporters of unregulated free markets. Fitting a Bayes net model to the data indicated that under a Bayesian framework, free-market support is a significant driver of beliefs about climate change and trust in climate scientists. Further, active distrust of climate scientists among a small number of U.S. conservatives drives contrary updating in response to consensus information among this particular group. (shrink)
Science strives for coherence. For example, the findings from climate science form a highly coherent body of knowledge that is supported by many independent lines of evidence: greenhouse gas emissions from human economic activities are causing the global climate to warm and unless GHG emissions are drastically reduced in the near future, the risks from climate change will continue to grow and major adverse consequences will become unavoidable. People who oppose this scientific body of knowledge because the implications of cutting (...) GHG emissions—such as regulation or increased taxation—threaten their worldview or livelihood cannot provide an alternative view that is coherent by the standards of conventional scientific thinking. Instead, we suggest that people who reject the fact that the Earth’s climate is changing due to greenhouse gas emissions oppose whatever inconvenient finding they are confronting in piece-meal fashion, rather than systematically, and without considering the implications of this rejection to the rest of the relevant scientific theory and findings. Hence, claims that the globe “is cooling” can coexist with claims that the “observed warming is natural” and that “the human influence does not matter because warming is good for us.” Coherence between these mutually contradictory opinions can only be achieved at a highly abstract level, namely that “something must be wrong” with the scientific evidence in order to justify a political position against climate change mitigation. This high-level coherence accompanied by contradictory subordinate propositions is a known attribute of conspiracist ideation, and conspiracism may be implicated when people reject well-established scientific propositions. (shrink)
The scholars who defend or dispute moral relativism, the idea that a moral principle cannot be applied to people whose culture does not accept it, have concerned themselves with either the philosophical or anthropological aspects of relativism. This study, shows that in order to arrive at a definitive appraisal of moral relativism, it is necessary to understand and investigate both its anthropological and philosophical aspects. Carefully examining the arguments for and against moral relativism, Cook exposes not only that anthropologists have (...) failed in their attempt to support relativism with evidence of cultural differences, but that moral absolutists have been equally unsuccessful in their attempts to refute it. He argues that these conflicting positions are both guilty of an artificial and unrealistic view of morality and proposes a more subtle and complex account of morality. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: In his recent collection of essays, Language, Truth and History, Donald Davidson appears to endorse a philosophy of language which gives primary importance to the notion of the speaker’s communicative intentions, a perspective on language not too dissimilar from that of Paul Grice. If that is right, then this would mark a major shift from the formal semanticist approach articulated and defended by Davidson in his Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation. In this paper, I argue that although there are (...) many similarities between these two thinkers, Davidson has not abandoned his earlier views on languageRÉSUMÉ : Dans son récent recueil d’articles Language, Truth and History, Donald Davidson semble pencher en faveur d’une philosophie du langage mettant l’accent sur la notion de l’intention communicative du sujet parlant; en quoi il se rapproche du point de vue de Paul Grice. Si cela est juste, la pensée de Davidson se serait dégagée de l’approche sémantique formelle qu’il soutenait dans ses Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation. Dans cet article, je soutiens que, bien qu’il y ait beaucoup de similitudes entre ces deux penseurs, Davidson n’a pas abandonné ses précédentes vues sur le langage. (shrink)
Practitioners and advocates of community food security (CFS) envision food systems that are decentralized, environmentally-sound over a long time-frame, supportive of collective rather than only individual needs, effective in assuring equitable food access, and created by democratic decision-making. These themes are loosely connected in literature about CFS, with no logical linkages among them. Clear articulation in a theoretical framework is needed for CFS to be effective as a guide for policy and action. CFS theory should delimit the level of analysis (...) (i.e., what are the boundaries of “community”); show how CFS relates to individual, household, and national food security and explain emergent properties, which are important at the community level of analysis; point to the best indicators of CFS or its lack; clarify the determinants of CFS; and clarify the stages of movement toward CFS. This theoretical base would allow researchers to develop valid and reliable measures, and allow practitioners to weigh alternative options to create strategic plans. A theoretical base also would help establish common ground with potential partners by making the connections to anti-hunger work, sustainable agriculture, and community development clear. (shrink)
Which famous twentieth-century philosopher instigated a revolution in philosophy, arguing that the philosopher’s business is not to advance general theories about reality, but rather to help release our thinking from the intellectual cramps produced by a misunderstanding of the forms of language? Wittgenstein? Wrong! according to John W. Cook. This revolution in philosophy actually had no author. Apparently, it arose through a misinterpretation of Wittgenstein’s later writings. In fact, Cook implies, Wittgenstein himself was not genuinely engaged in a struggle with (...) philosophical puzzles, but rather had an ontological theory up his sleeve: he was a conventional empiricist in the tradition of Berkeley, Ernst Mach, and Russell, though he happened to express himself so obscurely that some philosophers, believing themselves inspired by his writings, dreamed up the whole revolution by mistake, as it were. However, Cook is not arguing that the revolution should be canceled; rather he looks at Wittgenstein’s work from the standpoint of that accidental revolution, berating Wittgenstein, as it were, for not having thought to be a Wittgensteinian himself. (shrink)
Wittgenstein's Metaphysics offers a radical new interpretation of the fundamental ideas of Ludwig Wittgenstein. It takes issue with the conventional view that after 1930 Wittgenstein rejected the philosophy of the Tractatus and developed a wholly new conception of philosophy. By tracing the evolution of Wittgenstein's ideas Cook shows that they are neither as original nor as difficult as is often supposed. Wittgenstein was essentially an empiricist, and the difference between his early views (as set forth in the Tractatus) and the (...) later views (as expounded in the Philosophical Investigations) lies chiefly in the fact that after 1930 he replaced his version of reductionism with something subtler. Nevertheless, he ended where he began, as an empiricist armed with a theory of meaning. (shrink)
It is argued that Wittgenstein was a greatly misunderstood philosopher, both as regards his own philosophical views and his ideas about philosophical method. O. K. Bouwsma's interpretation of Wittgenstein is used to illustrate the most common misunderstandings.
Wittgenstein wrote ‘While thinking philosophically we see problems in places where there are none. It is for philosophy to show that there are no problems’. He meant that the ‘problems’ philosophers grapple with are of their own making. In a related remark he said: ‘This is the essence of a philosophical problem. The question itself is the result of a muddle. And when the question is removed, this is not by answering it’. Even more explicitly he said: ‘All that philosophy (...) can do is to destroy idols’. As he understood his job, it was not to produce or construct something; his job was entirely destructive. This is how Wittgenstein thought of philosophy when he thought about it in the abstract, and I share this view of philosophy. I believe that when we see how to dispose of all philosophical categories, our job is finished. For example, in epistemology our job is not to argue that it is possible to know such-and-such because so-and-so ; rather, we undermine all those ideas that make it seem as though we could not know such-and-such. Undermining philosophical ideas takes the form: When we philosophise, we are tempted to think so-and-so, but if we consider that idea, and do so while remaining free of all philosophical jargon, we find that we cannot make sense of it. (shrink)
Wittgenstein made numerous pronouncements about philosophical method. But did he practice what he preached? Cook addresses this question by studying Wittgenstein’s treatment of the problem of other minds, tracing a line of argument that runs through his writings and lectures from the early 1930s to the 1950s. Cook finds that there is an inconsistency between Wittgenstein’s methodological advice and his actual practice. Instead of bringing words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use, he allows himself to use uncritically words (...) whose provenance is clearly metaphysical. (Published Online September 19 2006). (shrink)
This provocative study exposes the ways in which Wittgenstein's philosophical views have been misunderstood, including the failure to recognize the reductionist character of Wittgenstein's work. Author John Cook provides well-documented proof that Wittgenstein did not hold views commonly attributed to him, arguing that Wittgenstein's later work was mistakenly seen as a development of G. E. Moore's philosophy--which Wittgenstein in fact vigorously attacked. He also points to an underestimation of Russell's influence on Wittgenstein's thinking. Cook goes on to show how these (...) misunderstandings have had grave consequences for philosophy at large, and proposes that a more subtle appreciation of linguistic philosophy can yield valuable results. (shrink)
Misinformation can have significant societal consequences. For example, misinformation about climate change has confused the public and stalled support for mitigation policies. When people lack the expertise and skill to evaluate the science behind a claim, they typically rely on heuristics such as substituting judgment about something complex (i.e. climate science) with judgment about something simple (i.e. the character of people who speak about climate science) and are therefore vulnerable to misleading information. Inoculation theory offers one approach to effectively neutralize (...) the influence of misinformation. Typically, inoculations convey resistance by providing people with information that counters misinformation. In contrast, we propose inoculating against misinformation by explaining the fallacious reasoning within misleading denialist claims. We offer a strategy based on critical thinking methods to analyse and detect poor reasoning within denialist claims. This strategy includes detailing argument structure, determining the truth of the premises, and checking for validity, hidden premises, or ambiguous language. Focusing on argument structure also facilitates the identification of reasoning fallacies by locating them in the reasoning process. Because this reason-based form of inoculation is based on general critical thinking methods, it offers the distinct advantage of being accessible to those who lack expertise in climate science. We applied this approach to 42 common denialist claims and find that they all demonstrate fallacious reasoning and fail to refute the scientific consensus regarding anthropogenic global warming. This comprehensive deconstruction and refutation of the most common denialist claims about climate change is designed to act as a resource for communicators and educators who teach climate science and/or critical thinking. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 193 - 207 Julian, in a Syriac fragment of his _Contra Galilaeos_, attacked the resurrection narratives in Matthew and Mark, because they were inconsistent with each other concerning the time of the arrival of the women to the tomb, the nature of the being they met in the tomb, and the women’s subsequent actions. Other texts in Syriac and Latin indicate the probability that Julian took over the substance of his argument from Porphyry.
In recent years there has been a tendency in some quarters to see an affinity between the views of Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein on the subject of religious belief. It seems to me that this is a mistake, that Kierkegaard's views were fundamentally at odds with Wittgenstein's. That this fact is not generally recognized is, I suspect, owing to the obscurity of Kierkegaard's most fundamental assumptions. My aim here is to make those assumptions explicit and to show how they differ from (...) Wittgenstein's. (shrink)
This paper reviews some of the arguments put forward by some psychologists in which they come to the conclusion that autistic individuals suffer from mindblindness, and also looks at one particular implication these sorts of individuals pose for Donald Davidson’s theory of radical interpretation. It has been claimed that a particular manifestation of mindblindness in autistic people serves as a counter example to claims Davidson has made about the relation between belief and intention in linguistic competence.
This paper seeks to explore the relationship between Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin’s theoretical apparatus and ideas of the immediate precursors of the Jena Romantik school of German Romanticism: Johann Georg Hamann (1730–1788) and Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803). In doing so, it examines the themes and treatments that are common to these two thinkers and Bakhtin, tracing the tradition of anti-systematic thought through Hamann, Nietzsche and Bakhtin, and the transmission of Herder’s philosophy of Bildung through the Russian cultural milieu and Goethe. Initially, (...) the paper briefly outlines the early German Romantic ‘school’ of philosophy as a prelude to a more detailed examination of the ways in which Bakhtin assimilated German philosophy in general. The paper’s section on Hamann commences with a review of his background, using this as a basis for establishing connections between Hamann’s approach to communication and that of Bakhtin, based on a common epistemology focused on the self. The section on Herder is centred on his concept of Bildung and his historicist approach to literature, both of which interests Bakhtin shared. The paper then examines a number of conduits for Herder’s thought to Bakhtin, including Kant and Goethe. The paper concludes by examining Isaiah Berlin’s notion of the ‘Counter-Enlightenment’—in which movement he includes both Hamann and Herder—and the extent to which Bakhtin could be said to form part of this tradition. (shrink)
Porphyry wrote the Contra Christianos during the time of the persecutions, and later several Christian rulers consigned it to the flames. In that work Porphyry included a penetrating critique of Christian allegory. Parts of his argument reappeared in the Protestant Reformers and subsequently in modern biblical research. Scholarship on Porphyry's text often is dominated by the historical problems that beset the fragment. Such problems can be temporarily put aside to carefully study the key terms in Porphyry's argument. The net gain (...) of such an approach is to understand the power of the argument and its structure in a clearer light. (shrink)
Language, Truth, and History is an excellent volume of essays coming from one of the most important philosophers in the last fifty years. It would be of interest to anyone interested in the ways Davidson's philosophy evolved after the publication of the first two volumes, and it is essential reading for anyone working in philosophy of language or philosophy of mind.
Doris Olin's Paradox is a very helpful book for those who want to be introduced to the philosophical treatment of paradoxes, or for those who already have knowledge of the general area and would like to have a helpful resource book.