According to the free energy principle biological agents resist a tendency to disorder in their interactions with a dynamically changing environment by keeping themselves in sensory and physiological states that are expected given their embodiment and the niche they inhabit :127–138, 2010. doi: 10.1038/nrn2787). Why would a biological agent that aims at minimising uncertainty in its encounters with the world ever be motivated to seek out novelty? Novelty for such an agent would arrive in the form of sensory and physiological (...) states that are unexpected. Such an agent ought therefore to avoid novel and surprising interactions with the world one might think. Yet humans and many other animals find play and other forms of novelty-seeking and exploration hugely rewarding. How can this be understood in frameworks for studying the mind that emphasise prediction error minimisation? This problem has been taken up in recent research concerned with epistemic action—actions an agent engages in to reduce uncertainty. However that work leaves two questions unanswered, which it is the aim of our paper to address. First, no account has been given yet of why it should feel good to the agent to engage the world playfully and with curiosity. Second an appeal is made to precision-estimation to explain epistemic action, yet it remains unclear how precision-weighting works in action more generally, or active inference. We argue that an answer to both questions may lie in the bodily states of an agent that track the rate at which free energy is being reduced. The recent literature on the predictive brain has connected the valence of emotional experiences to the rate of change in the reduction of prediction error :e1003094, 2013. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003094; Van de Cruys, in Metzinger and Wiese Philosophy and predictive processing, vol 24, MIND Group, Frankfurt am Main, 2017. doi: 10.15502/9783958573253). In this literature valenced emotional experiences are hypothesised to be identical with changes in the rate at which prediction error is reduced. Experiences are negatively valenced when overall prediction error increases and are positively valenced when the sum of prediction errors decrease. We offer an ecological-enactive interpretation of the concept of valence and its connection to rate of change of prediction error. We show how rate of change should be understood in terms of embodied states of affordance-related action readiness. We then go on to apply this ecological-enactive account of error dynamics to provide an answer to the first question we have raised: It may explain why it should feel good to an agent to be curious and playful. Our ecological-enactive account also allows us to show how error dynamics may provide an answer to the second question we have raised regarding how precision-weighting works in active inference. An agent that is sensitive to rates of error reduction can tune precision on the fly. We show how this ability to tune precision on the go can allow agents to develop skills for adapting better and better to the unexpected, and search out opportunities for resolving uncertainty and progressing in its learning. (shrink)
Julian Wuerth offers a radically new interpretation of major themes in Kant's philosophy. He explores Kant's ontology of the mind, his transcendental idealism, his account of the mind's powers, and his theory of action, and goes on to develop an original, moral realist account of Kant's ethics.
Theoretical ethics includes both metaethics (the meaning of moral terms) and normative ethics (ethical theories and principles). Practical ethics involves making decisions about every day real ethical problems, like decisions about euthanasia, what we should eat, climate change, treatment of animals, and how we should live. It utilizes ethical theories, like utilitarianism and Kantianism, and principles, but more broadly a process of reflective equilibrium and consistency to decide how to act and be.
In this beautifully written account, Julian Young provides the most comprehensive biography available today of the life and philosophy of the nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Young deals with the many puzzles created by the conjunction of Nietzsche's personal history and his work: why the son of a Lutheran pastor developed into the self-styled 'Antichrist'; why this archetypical Prussian came to loath Bismarck's Prussia; and why this enemy of feminism preferred the company of feminist women. Setting Nietzsche's thought in (...) the context of his times - the rise of Prussian militarism, anti-Semitism, Darwinian science, the 'Youth' and emancipationist movements, as well as the 'death of God' - Young emphasises the decisive influence of Plato and of Richard Wagner on Nietzsche's attempted reform of Western culture. (shrink)
Philosophy of Economics: A Contemporary Introduction is the first systematic textbook in the philosophy of economics. It introduces the epistemological, metaphysical and ethical problems that arise in economics, and presents detailed discussions of the solutions that have been offered. Throughout, philosophical issues are illustrated by and analysed in the context of concrete cases drawn from contemporary economics, the history of economic ideas, and actual economic events. This demonstrates the relevance of philosophy of economics both for the science of economics and (...) for the economy. This text will provide an excellent introduction to the philosophy of economics for students and interested general readers alike. (shrink)
Heidegger's later philosophy has often been regarded as a lapse into unintelligible mysticism. While not ignoring its deep and difficult complexities, Julian Young's book explains in simple and straightforward language just what it is all about. It examines Heidegger's identification of loss of 'the gods', the violence of technology, and humanity's 'homelessness' as symptoms of the destitution of modernity, and his notion that overcoming 'oblivion of Being' is the essence of a turning to a post-destitute, genuinely post-modern existence. Young (...) argues that Heidegger's conception of such an overcoming is profoundly fruitful with respect to the ancient quest to discover the nature of the good life. His book will be an invaluable resource for both students and scholars of Heidegger's works. (shrink)
This book argues that correspondence theories of truth fail because the relation that holds between a true thought and a fact is that of identity, not correspondence. Facts are not complexes of worldly entities which make thoughts true they are merely true thoughts. According to Julian Dodd, the resulting modest identity theory, while not defining truth, correctly diagnoses the failure of correspondence theories, and thereby prepares the ground for a defensible deflation of the concept of truth.
A recent movement in the social sciences and philosophy of the social sciences focuses on mechanisms as a central analytical unit. Starting from a pluralist perspective on the aims of the social sciences, I argue that there are a number of important aims to which knowledge about mechanismswhatever their virtues relative to other aimscontributes very little at best and that investigating mechanisms is therefore a methodological strategy with fairly limited applicability. Key Words: social science mechanisms explanation critical (...) realism methodology. (shrink)
The smooth integration of the natural sciences with everyday lived experience is an important ambition of radical embodied cognitive science. In this paper we start from Koffka’s recommendation in his Principles of Gestalt Psychology that to realize this ambition psychology should be a “science of molar behaviour”. Molar behavior refers to the purposeful behaviour of the whole organism directed at an environment that is meaningfully structured for the animal. Koffka made a sharp distinction between the “behavioural environment” and the “geographical (...) environment”. We show how this distinction picks out the difference between the environment as perceived by an individual organism, and the shared publicly available environment. The ecological psychologist James Gibson was later critical of Koffka for inserting a private phenomenal reality in between animals and the shared environment. Gibson tried to make do with just the concept of affordances in his explanation of molar behaviour. We argue however that psychology as a science of molar behaviour will need to make appeal both to the concepts of shared publicly available affordances, and of the multiplicity of relevant affordances that invite an individual to act. A version of Koffka’s distinction between the two environments remains alive today in a distinction we have made between the field and landscape of affordances. Having distinguished the two environments, we go on to provide an account of how the two environments are related. Koffka suggested that the behavioural environment forms out of the causal interaction of the individual with a pre-existing, ready-made geographical environment. We argue that such an account of the relation between the two environments fails to do justice to the complex entanglement of the social with the material aspects of the geographical environment. To better account for this sociomaterial reality of the geographical environment, we propose a process-perspective on our distinction between the landscape and field of affordances. While the two environments can be conceptually distinguished, we argue they should also be viewed as standing in a relation of reciprocal and mutual dependence. (shrink)
Introduction -- The type/token theory introduced -- Motivating the type/token theory : repeatability -- Nominalist approaches to the ontology of music -- Musical anti-realism -- The type/token theory elaborated -- Types I : abstract, unstructured, unchanging -- Types introduced and nominalism repelled -- Types as abstracta -- Types as unstructured entities -- Types as fixed and unchanging -- Types II : platonism -- Introduction : eternal existence and timelessness -- Types and properties -- The eternal existence of properties reconsidered -- (...) Types and patterns -- Defending the type/token theory I -- Unstructuredness and analogical predication -- Musical works as fixed and unchanging -- Abstractness and audibility (again) -- Works and interpretations -- Conclusion and resumé -- Defending the type/token theory II : musical platonism -- Platonism it is : replies to Anderson and Levinson -- The existence conditions of works of music -- Composition as creative discovery -- The nature of the compositional process : replies to objections -- Composition and aesthetic appraisal : a reply to Levinson -- Composition and aesthetic appraisal : understanding, interpretation, and correctness -- Musical works as continuants : a theory rejected -- A theory introduced -- Explicating and motivating the continuant view -- The continuant view and repeatability -- Further objections to the continuant view -- Musical works as compositional actions : a critique -- Currie's action-type hypothesis -- Davies's performance theory -- Sonicism I : against instrumentalism -- Sonicism introduced -- Sonicism motivated : moderate empiricism -- Instrumentation : timbral sonicism introduced -- Scores -- Instrumentation, artistic properties, and aesthetic content -- Levinson's rejoinder -- Sonicism II : against contextualism -- Introduction : formulating contextualism -- Contextualist ontological proposals -- Levinson's doppelgänger thought-experiments -- Artistic, representational, and object-directed expressive properties -- Aesthetic and non-object-directed expressive properties -- Conclusion : the place of context. (shrink)
One way to make philosophy of science more socially relevant is to attend to specific scientific practises that affect society to a great extent. One such practise is biomedical research. This paper looks at contemporary U.S. biomedical research in particular and argues that it suffers from important epistemic, moral and socioeconomic failings. It then discusses and criticises existing approaches to improve on the status quo, most prominently by Thomas Pogge (a political philosopher), Joseph Stiglitz (a Nobel-prize winning economist) and James (...) Robert Brown (a philosopher of science). Finally, it sketches an alternative proposal and argues for its superiority. The proposal has four components: changing the intellectual property regime; instituting independent clinical research; aligning innovators' and patients' interests; and enacting additional regulation. (shrink)
What is the correct concept behind measures of inflation? Does money cause business activity or is it the other way around? Shall we stimulate growth by raising aggregate demand or rather by lowering taxes and thereby providing incentives to produce? Policy-relevant questions such as these are of immediate and obvious importance to the welfare of societies. The standard approach in dealing with them is to build a model, based on economic theory, answer the question for the model world and then (...) apply the results to economic phenomena outside. Data come in, if at all, only in testing a limited number of the model's consequences. Despite some critical voices, economic methodology too has by and large subscribed to a "theory first" approach to applied economics. Error in Economics systematically develops an alternative to the theory-based orthodoxy. It places the methodical study of evidence at the centre of the scientific enterprise and thus provides a foundation for a methodology of evidence-based economics. But the book does not stop at the truism that claims should be based on the best available evidence. Rather, detailed studies in the areas of measurement, causal inference and policy analysis show what it means for a claim to be evidence-based in the context of a concrete case. The examples discussed concern topics as diverse as consumer price indices, radio spectrum auctions, the transmission mechanism, natural experiments on minimum wages and the evaluation of counterfactuals for policy. Error in Economics is essential reading for economic methodologists, philosophers of science and anyone interested in how claims about socio-economic matters are validated. (shrink)
This paper examines mathematical models in economics and observes that three mutually inconsistent hypotheses concerning models and explanation are widely held: (1) economic models are false; (2) economic models are nevertheless explanatory; and (3) only true accounts explain. Commentators have typically resolved the paradox by rejecting either one of these hypotheses. I will argue that none of the proposed resolutions work and conclude that therefore the paradox is genuine and likely to stay.
ABSTRACTTaking some controversial claims philosopher Jason Brennan makes in his book Against Democracy as a starting point, this paper argues in favour of two theses: There is No Such Thing as Superior Political Judgement; There Is No Such Thing as Uncontroversial Social Scientific Knowledge. I conclude that social science experts need to be kept in check, not given more power.
Arthur Schopenhauer was one of the greatest writers and German philosophers of the nineteenth century. His work influenced figures as diverse as Wagner, Freud and Nietzsche. Best known as a pessimist, he was one of the few philosophers read and admired by Wittgenstein. In this comprehensive introduction, Julian Young covers all the main aspects of Schopenhauer's philosophy. Beginning with an overview of Schopenhauer's life and work, he introduces the central aspects of his metaphysics fundamental to understanding his work as (...) a whole: his philosophical idealism and debt to the philosophy of Kant; his attempt to answer the question of what the world is; his account of science; and in particular his idea that 'will' is the essence of all things. Julian Young then introduces and assesses Schopenhauer's aesthetics, which occupy a central place in his philosophy. He carefully examines Schopenhauer's theories of the sublime, artistic genius and music, before assessing his ethics of compassion, his arguments for pessimism and his account of 'salvation'. In the final chapter, he considers Schopenhauer's legacy and his influence on the thought of Nietzsche and Wittgenstein, making this an ideal starting point for those coming to Schopenhauer for the first time. (shrink)
It may soon be possible to generate human organs inside of human-pig chimeras via a process called interspecies blastocyst complementation. This paper discusses what arguably the central ethical concern is raised by this potential source of transplantable organs: that farming human-pig chimeras for their organs risks perpetrating a serious moral wrong because the moral status of human-pig chimeras is uncertain, and potentially significant. Those who raise this concern usually take it to be unique to the creation of chimeric animals with (...) ‘humanised’ brains. In this paper, we show how that the same style of argument can be used to critique current uses of non-chimeric pigs in agriculture. This reveals an important tension between two common moral views: that farming human-pig chimeras for their organs is ethically concerning, and that farming non-chimeric pigs for food or research is ethically benign. At least one of these views stands in need of revision. (shrink)
Following a brief reconstruction of Hutto & Satne’s paper we focus our critical comments on two issues. First we take up H&S’s claim that a non-representational form of ur-intentionality exists that performs essential work in setting the scene for content-involving forms of intentionality. We will take issue with the characterisation that H&S give of this non-representational form of intentionality. Part of our commentary will therefore be aimed at motivating an alternative account of how there can be intentionality without mental content, (...) which we have called skilled intentionality. Skilled intentionality is the individual’s selective openness and responsiveness to a rich landscape of affordances.A second issue we take up concerns the distinction between ur-intentionality and content-involving intentionality. We will argue that our notion of skilled intentionality as it is found in humans cuts across these two categories. Instead of distinguishing between different forms of intentionality we recommend focusing on how skilled intentionality takes different forms in different forms of life. (shrink)
This paper argues that a consideration of the problem of providing truthmakers for negative truths undermines truthmaker theory. Truthmaker theorists are presented with an uncomfortable dilemma. Either they must take up the challenge of providing truthmakers for negative truths, or else they must explain why negative truths are exceptions to the principle that every truth must have a truthmaker. The first horn is unattractive since the prospects of providing truthmakers for negative truths do not look good neither absences, nor totality (...) states of affairs, nor Graham Priest and J.C. Beall’s ‘polarities’ (Beall, 2000; Priest, 2000) are up to the job. The second horn, meanwhile, is problematic because restricting the truthmaker principle to atomic truths, or weakening it to the thesis that truth supervenes on being, undercuts truthmaker theory’s original motivation. The paper ends by arguing that truthmaker theory is, in any case, an under-motivated doctrine because the groundedness of truth can be explained without appeal to the truthmaker principle. This leaves us free to give the ommonsensical and deflationary explanation of negative truths that common-sense suggests. (shrink)
This impressive volume of essays that includes contributions from Herbert Dreyfus, Sean Kelly, Mike Wheeler, Dan Zahavi, and Shaun Gallagher reflects an emerging trend in cognitive science, and explores this new approach to cognitive science informed by Heidegger's thoughts on human existence.
What is the meaning of life? In the post-modern, post-religious scientific world, this question is becoming a preoccupation. But it also has a long history: many major figures in philosophy had something to say on the subject, as Julian Young so vividly illustrates in this thought-provoking book. Part One of the book presents an historical overview of philosophers from Plato to Hegel and Marx who have believed in some sort of meaning of life, either in some supposed 'other' world (...) or in the future of this world. Part Two looks at what happened when the traditional structures that provided life with meaning ceased to be believed. With nothing to take their place, these structures gave way to the threat of nihilism, to the appearance that life is meaningless. Julian Young looks at the responses to this threat in the work of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, Foucault and Derrida. This compelling and highly engaging exploration of fundamental values will captivate anyone who's ever asked themselves where life's meaning really lies. It also makes a perfect historical introduction to philosophy. (shrink)
Julian of Norwich emphasizes God’s eternal and unchanging love for humankind. Her visions show how God is not angry with our sins and so has no need to forgive us. God does not shame or blame us but excuses us and plans how to reward and compensate us for sin. In relation to Mother Jesus, we remain dear lovely children who need help, correction, and education. Although these remarks suggest to some that Julian must be soft on sin, (...) that she has no adequate appreciation of the worthiness of God or the dignity of human nature, I argue that this is far from the case. On the contrary, she makes Divine worthiness axiomatic and urges readers to live into it. She relocates human dignity not in its intrinsic value but in our centrality to God’s plan. She measures the seriousness of sin in terms of the real hard work it takes to rear us up out of it: crucifixion for Christ, the hell of being a sinner and the crucifixion of life-long penance for us. Nevertheless, the brightness of her visions dominates with her assurance that despite the sin-produced sufferings of this present life, all will be well. (shrink)
According to the free energy principle all living systems aim to minimise free energy in their sensory exchanges with the environment. Processes of free energy minimisation are thus ubiquitous in the biological world. Indeed it has been argued that even plants engage in free energy minimisation. Not all living things however feel alive. How then did the feeling of being alive get started? In line with the arguments of the phenomenologists, I will claim that every feeling must be felt by (...) someone. It must have mineness built into it if it is to feel a particular way. The question I take up in this paper asks how mineness might have arisen out of processes of free energy minimisation, given that many systems that keep themselves alive lack mineness. The hypothesis I develop in this paper is that the life of an organism can be seen as an inferential process. Every living system embodies a probability distribution conditioned on a model of the sensory, physiological, and morphological states that are highly probably given the life it leads and the niche it inhabits. I argue for an ecological and enactive interpretation of free energy. I show how once the life of an organism reaches a certain level of complexity mineness emerges as an intrinsic part of the process of life itself. (shrink)
We offer an argument for the extended mind based on considerations from brain development. We argue that our brains develop to function in partnership with cognitive resources located in our external environments. Through our cultural upbringing we are trained to use artefacts in problem solving that become factored into the cognitive routines our brains support. Our brains literally grow to work in close partnership with resources we regularly and reliably interact with. We take this argument to be in line with (...) complementarity or “second-wave” defences of the extended mind that stress the functional differences between biological elements and external, environmental resources in putative cases of extended cognition. Complementarity defences argue that many of the kinds of cognition humans excel at can only be accomplished by brains working together with a body that directly manipulates and acts on the world [Rowlands (1999); Menary (2007); Sutton (2010)]. We argue that complementarity and functionalist defences of the extended mind aren’t opposed, but that complementarity considerations can provide much needed and hitherto under exploited leverage in defending EMT. Moreover, the developmental work we will describe adds extra weight to the complementarity case for EMT. (shrink)
This paper presents arguments that challenge what I call the fact/value separability thesis: the idea, roughly, that factual judgements can be made independently of judgements of value. I will look at arguments to the effect that facts and values are entangled in the following areas of the scientific process in economics: theory development, economic concept formation, economic modelling, hypothesis testing, and hypothesis acceptance.
Advocates of paid living kidney donation frequently argue that kidney sellers would benefit from paid donation under a properly regulated kidney market. The poor outcomes experienced by participants in existing markets are often entirely attributed to harmful black-market practices. This article reviews the medical and anthropological literature on the physical, psychological, social, and financial harms experienced by vendors under Iran's regulated system of donor compensation and black markets throughout the world and argues that this body of research not only documents (...) significant harms to vendors, but also provides reasons to believe that such harms would persist under a regulated system. This does not settle the question of whether or not a regulated market should be introduced, but it does strengthen the case against markets in kidneys while suggesting that those advocating such a system cannot appeal to the purported benefits to vendors to support their case. (shrink)
Extant research suggests that individuals employ traditional moral heuristics to support their observed altruistic behavior; yet findings have largely been limited to inductive extrapolation and rely on relatively few traditional frames in so doing, namely, deontology in organizational behavior and virtue theory in law and economics. Given that these and competing moral frames such as utilitarianism can manifest as identical behavior, we develop a moral framing instrument—the Philosophical Moral-Framing Measure (PMFM)—to expand and distinguish traditional frames associated and disassociated with observed (...) altruistic behavior. The validation of our instrument based on 1015 subjects in 3 separate real stakes scenarios indicates that heuristic forms of deontology, virtue-theory, and utilitarianism are strongly related to such behavior, and that egoism is an inhibitor. It also suggests that deontic and virtue-theoretical frames may be commonly perceived as intertwined and opens the door for new research on self-abnegation, namely, a perceived moral obligation toward suffering and self-denial. These findings hold the potential to inform ongoing conversations regarding organizational citizenship and moral crowding out, namely, how financial incentives can undermine altruistic behavior. (shrink)
There is growing concern that a global economic system fueled predominately by financial incentives may not maximize human flourishing and social welfare externalities. If so, this presents a challenge of how to get economic actors to adopt a more virtuous motivational mindset. Relying on historical, psychological, and philosophical research, we show how such a mindset can be instilled. First, we demonstrate that historically, financial self-interest has never in fact been the only guiding motive behind free markets, but that markets themselves (...) are representations of our individual and collective moral identities. Building on this understanding, we review the research on how economic incentives crowd out virtue-oriented concerns. We then introduce the concept of moral self-awareness (MSA), an evolving mindset informed by reflection on moral identity, namely what one’s actions say about oneself given the impacts on others or society that one’s action may effect. MSA comprises three fundamental aspects of virtue-oriented reasoning: pride, shame, and guilt. Finally, we offer a four-stage model anchored in systems theory, yielding ever more refined motivating strategies for maximizing human flourishing and social welfare externalities. (shrink)
Brain organoid research raises ethical challenges not seen in other forms of stem cell research. Given that brain organoids partially recapitulate the development of the human brain, it is plausible that brain organoids could one day attain consciousness and perhaps even higher cognitive abilities. Brain organoid research therefore raises difficult questions about these organoids' moral status – questions that currently fall outside the scope of existing regulations and guidelines. This paper shows how these gaps can be addressed. We outline a (...) moral framework for brain organoid research that can address the relevant ethical concerns without unduly impeding this important area of research. (shrink)
The publication of the first study to use gene editing techniques in human embryos (Liang et al., 2015) has drawn outrage from many in the scientific community. The prestigious scientific journals Nature and Science have published commentaries which call for this research to be strongly discouraged or halted all together (Lanphier et al., 2015; Baltimore et al., 2015). We believe this should be questioned. There is a moral imperative to continue this research.
Da Capo -- Pforta -- Bonn -- Leipzig -- Schopenhauer -- Basel -- Richard Wagner and the birth of The birth of tragedy -- War and aftermath -- Anal philology -- Untimely meditations -- Aimez-vous Brahms? -- Auf Wiedersehen Bayreuth -- Sorrento -- Human, all-too-human -- The wanderer and his shadow -- Dawn -- The gay science -- The Salomé affair -- Zarathustra -- Nietzsche's circle of women -- Beyond good and evil -- Clearing the decks -- The genealogy of (...) morals -- 1888 -- Catastrophe -- The rise and fall of The will to power -- The end -- Nietzsche's madness. (shrink)
Francesco Guala once wrote that ‘The problem of extrapolation is a minor scandal in the philosophy of science’. This paper agrees with the statement, but for reasons different from Guala’s. The scandal is not, or not any longer, that the problem has been ignored in the philosophy of science. The scandal is that framing the problem as one of external validity encourages poor evidential reasoning. The aim of this paper is to propose an alternative—an alternative which constitutes much better evidential (...) reasoning about target systems of interest, and which makes do without consideration of external validity. (shrink)