We combine state-of-the-art techniques from computational linguisticsand theorem proving to build an engine for playing text adventures,computer games with which the player interacts purely through naturallanguage. The system employs a parser for dependency grammar and ageneration system based on TAG, and has components for resolving andgenerating referring expressions. Most of these modules make heavy useof inferences offered by a modern theorem prover for descriptionlogic. Our game engine solves some problems inherent in classical textadventures, and is an interesting test case for (...) the interactionbetween natural language processing and inference. (shrink)
Two decades have passed since the first attempts were made to establish systematic ethical review of human research in the Baltic States. Legally and institutionally much has changed. In this paper we provide an historical and structural overview of ethical review of human research and identify some problems related to the role of ethical review in establishing quality research environment in these countries. Problems connected to (a) public availability of information, (b) management of conflicts of interest, (c) REC composition and (...) motivation of REC members, and (d) differing levels of stringency of ethical review for different types of studies, are identified. Recommendations are made to strengthen cooperation among the Baltic RECs. (shrink)
Review of Kristina Stoeckl, Ingeborg Gabriel, Aristotle Papanikolau, eds., Political Theologies in Orthodox Christianity. Common Challenges – Divergent Positions,, Edinburgh: T&T Clark and Bloomberg, 2017.
Collected and edited by Noah Levin -/- Table of Contents: -/- UNIT ONE: INTRODUCTION TO CONTEMPORARY ETHICS: TECHNOLOGY, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, AND IMMIGRATION 1 The “Trolley Problem” and Self-Driving Cars: Your Car’s Moral Settings (Noah Levin) 2 What is Ethics and What Makes Something a Problem for Morality? (David Svolba) 3 Letter from the Birmingham City Jail (Martin Luther King, Jr) 4 A Defense of Affirmative Action (Noah Levin) 5 The Moral Issues of Immigration (B.M. Wooldridge) 6 The Ethics of our (...) Digital Selves (Noah Levin) -/- UNIT TWO: TORTURE, DEATH, AND THE “GREATER GOOD” 7 The Ethics of Torture (Martine Berenpas) 8 What Moral Obligations do we have (or not have) to Impoverished Peoples? (B.M. Wooldridge) 9 Euthanasia, or Mercy Killing (Nathan Nobis) 10 An Argument Against Capital Punishment (Noah Levin) 11 Common Arguments about Abortion (Nathan Nobis & Kristina Grob) 12 Better (Philosophical) Arguments about Abortion (Nathan Nobis & Kristina Grob) -/- UNIT THREE: PERSONS, AUTONOMY, THE ENVIRONMENT, AND RIGHTS 13 Animal Rights (Eduardo Salazar) 14 John Rawls and the “Veil of Ignorance” (Ben Davies) 15 Environmental Ethics: Climate Change (Jonathan Spelman) 16 Rape, Date Rape, and the “Affirmative Consent” Law in California (Noah Levin) 17 The Ethics of Pornography: Deliberating on a Modern Harm (Eduardo Salazar) 18 The Social Contract (Thomas Hobbes) -/- UNIT FOUR: HAPPINESS 19 Is Pleasure all that Matters? Thoughts on the “Experience Machine” (Prabhpal Singh) 20 Utilitarianism (J.S. Mill) 21 Utilitarianism: Pros and Cons (B.M. Wooldridge) 22 Existentialism, Genetic Engineering, and the Meaning of Life: The Fifths (Noah Levin) 23 The Solitude of the Self (Elizabeth Cady Stanton) 24 Game Theory, the Nash Equilibrium, and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (Douglas E. Hill) -/- UNIT FIVE: RELIGION, LAW, AND ABSOLUTE MORALITY 25 The Myth of Gyges and The Crito (Plato) 26 God, Morality, and Religion (Kristin Seemuth Whaley) 27 The Categorical Imperative (Immanuel Kant) 28 The Virtues (Aristotle) 29 Beyond Good and Evil (Friedrich Nietzsche) 30 Other Moral Theories: Subjectivism, Relativism, Emotivism, Intuitionism, etc. (Jan F. Jacko). (shrink)
In this book, Kristina Musholt offers a novel theory of self-consciousness, understood as the ability to think about oneself. Traditionally, self-consciousness has been central to many philosophical theories. More recently, it has become the focus of empirical investigation in psychology and neuroscience. Musholt draws both on philosophical considerations and on insights from the empirical sciences to offer a new account of self-consciousness—the ability to think about ourselves that is at the core of what makes us human. -/- Examining theories (...) of nonconceptual content developed in recent work in the philosophy of cognition, Musholt proposes a model for the gradual transition from self-related information implicit in the nonconceptual content of perception and other forms of experience to the explicit representation of the self in conceptual thought. A crucial part of this model is an analysis of the relationship between self-consciousness and intersubjectivity. Self-consciousness and awareness of others, Musholt argues, are two sides of the same coin. -/- After surveying the philosophical problem of self-consciousness, the notion of nonconceptual content, and various proposals for the existence of nonconceptual self-consciousness, Musholt argues for a non-self-representationalist theory, according to which the self is not part of the representational content of perception and bodily awareness but part of the mode of presentation. She distinguishes between implicitly self-related information and explicit self-representation, and describes the transitions from the former to the latter as arising from a complex process of self–other differentiation. By this account, both self-consciousness and intersubjectivity develop in parallel. (shrink)
Two chapters -- "Common Arguments about Abortion" and "Better (Philosophical) Arguments About Abortion" -- in one file, from the open access textbook "Introduction to Ethics: An Open Educational Resource" edited by Noah Levin. -/- Adults, children and babies are arguably wrong to kill, fundamentally, because we are conscious, aware and have feelings. Since early fetuses entirely lack these characteristics, we argue that they are not inherently wrong to kill and so most abortions are not morally wrong, since most abortions are (...) done early in pregnancy before consciousness and feeling develop in the fetus. Furthermore, since the right to life is not the right to someone else’s body, fetuses might not have the right to the pregnant woman’s body, and so she has the right to not allow the fetus use of her body; this further justifies abortion, at least, until technology allows for the removal of fetuses to other wombs. Since morally permissible actions should be legal, abortions should be legal. -/- In the course of arguing for these claims, we: -/- discuss how to best define abortion; dismiss many common “question-begging” arguments that merely assume their conclusion, instead of giving genuine reasons for them; refute some often-heard “everyday arguments” about abortion; explain why some influential philosophical arguments against abortion are unsuccessful; provide some positive arguments that at least early abortions are not wrong; briefly discuss the ethics and legality of later abortions, and more. -/- Little of this discussion should be taken as absolute “proof” of anything, as this is merely a reasoned introduction to the issues: much more needs to be discussed, always. (shrink)
An introductory chapter on abortion that (1) reviews some common DEFINITIONS of abortion and argues that one definition is better than the others, (2) reviews and critiques some common QUESTION-BEGGING ARGUMENTS, on both sides of the issue, that have premises that merely assume the conclusion they are intended to support and (3) reviews and critiques many "EVERYDAY ARGUMENTS" on abortion, that is arguments that people without strong philosophical backgrounds give every day on the issues yet are poor good arguments. This (...) introductory chapter positions readers to better engage philosophical readings and arguments on the issues since it covers many background issues and concerns that are often not addressed in those readings. (shrink)
In recent years, the number of studies examining mind wandering has increased considerably, and research on the topic has spread widely across various domains of psychological research. Although the term “mind wandering” has been used to refer to various cognitive states, researchers typically operationalize mind wandering in terms of “task-unrelated thought” (TUT). Research on TUT has shed light on the various task features that require people’s attention, and on the consequences of task inattention. Important methodological and conceptual complications do persist, (...) however, in current investigations of TUT. As we argue, these complications may be dampening the development of a more nuanced scientific account of TUT. Here, we outline three of the more prominent methodological and conceptual complications in the literature on TUT, and we discuss potential directions for researchers to take as they move forward in their investigations of TUT. (shrink)
In this chapter I explain Spinoza's concept of "infinite modes". After some brief background on Spinoza's thoughts on infinity, I provide reasons to think that Immediate Infinite Modes are identical to the attributes, and that Mediate Infinite Modes are merely totalities of finite modes. I conclude with some considerations against the alternative view that infinite modes are laws of nature.
Arguments are nowadays often presented as soundbites: as slogans, tweets, memes and even gifs. Arguments developed in detail often meet the response TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read). This is unfortunate—especially when tackling the topic of abortion. Soundbites make many pro-life arguments seem stronger than they really are, while the complexities of pro-choice arguments can’t be readily reduced to soundbites.
Part of a symposium on John Rawls: Reticent Socialist by William Edmundson . In Edmundson’s account, pure procedural justice functions as a kind of limit to Rawls’s socialism, the point at which a socialist can find common ground with a critic of government and a defender of free markets like Hayek. Though I agree with much of what Edmundson says, I want to urge a reading of pure procedural justice that would bring Rawls more in line with Marx and further (...) from Hayek. (shrink)
This book introduces readers to the many arguments and controversies concerning abortion. While it argues for ethical and legal positions on the issues, it focuses on how to think about the issues, not just what to think about them. It is an ideal resource to improve your understanding of what people think, why they think that and whether their (and your) arguments are good or bad, and why. It's ideal for classroom use, discussion groups, organizational learning, and personal reading. -/- (...) From the Preface -/- To many people, abortion is an issue for which discussions and debates are frustrating and fruitless: it seems like no progress will ever be made towards any understanding, much less resolution or even compromise. -/- Judgments like these, however, are premature because some basic techniques from critical thinking, such as carefully defining words and testing definitions, stating the full structure of arguments so each step of the reasoning can be examined, and comparing the strengths and weaknesses of different explanations can help us make progress towards these goals. -/- When emotions run high, we sometimes need to step back and use a passion for calm, cool, critical thinking. This helps us better understand the positions and arguments of people who see things differently from us, as well as our own positions and arguments. And we can use critical thinking skills help to try to figure out which positions are best, in terms of being supported by good arguments: after all, we might have much to learn from other people, sometimes that our own views should change, for the better. -/- Here we use basic critical thinking skills to argue that abortion is typically not morally wrong. We begin with less morally-controversial claims: adults, children and babies are wrong to kill and wrong to kill, fundamentally, because they, we, are conscious, aware and have feelings. We argue that since early fetuses entirely lack these characteristics, they are not inherently wrong to kill and so most abortions are not morally wrong, since most abortions are done early in pregnancy, before consciousness and feeling develop in the fetus. -/- Furthermore, since the right to life is not the right to someone else’s body, fetuses might not have the right to the pregnant woman’s body—which she has the right to—and so she has the right to not allow the fetus use of her body. This further justifies abortion, at least, until technology allows for the removal of fetuses to other wombs. Since morally permissible actions should be legal, abortions should be legal: it is an injustice to criminalizing actions that are not wrong. -/- In the course of arguing for these claims, we: 1. discuss how to best define abortion; 2. dismiss many common “question-begging” arguments that merely assume their conclusions, instead of giving genuine reasons for them; 3. refute some often-heard “everyday arguments” about abortion, on all sides; explain why the most influential philosophical arguments against abortion are unsuccessful; 4. provide some positive arguments that at least early abortions are not wrong; 5. briefly discuss the ethics and legality of later abortions, and more. -/- This essay is not a “how to win an argument” piece or a tract or any kind of apologetics. It is not designed to help anyone “win” debates: everybody “wins” on this issue when we calmly and respectfully engage arguments with care, charity, honesty and humility. This book is merely a reasoned, systematic introduction to the issues that we hope models these skills and virtues. Its discussion should not be taken as absolute “proof” of anything: much more needs to be understood and carefully discussed—always. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes between implicit self-related information and explicit self-representation and argues that the latter is required for self-consciousness. It is further argued that self-consciousness requires an awareness of other minds and that this awareness develops over the course of an increasingly complex perspectival differentiation, during which information about self and other that is implicit in early forms of social interaction becomes redescribed into an explicit format.
What effect does witnessing other students cheat have on one's own cheating behavior? What roles do moral attitudes and neutralizing attitudes (justifications for behavior) play when deciding to cheat? The present research proposes a model of academic dishonesty which takes into account each of these variables. Findings from experimental (vignette) and survey methods determined that seeing others cheat increases cheating behavior by causing students to judge the behavior less morally reprehensible, not by making rationalization easier. Witnessing cheating also has unique (...) effects, controlling for other variables. (shrink)
Self-consciousness can be defined as the ability to think 'I'-thoughts. Recently, it has been suggested that self-consciousness in this sense can (and should) be accounted for in terms of nonconceptual forms of self-representation. Here, I will argue that while theories of nonconceptual self-consciousness do provide us with important insights regarding the essential genetic and epistemic features of self-conscious thought, they can only deliver part of the full story that is required to understand the phenomenon of self-consciousness. I will provide two (...) arguments to this effect, drawing on insights from the philosophy of language and on structural differences between conceptual and nonconceptual forms of representation. Both arguments rest on the intuition that while self-consciousness requires explicit self-representation, nonconceptual content can at best provide implicit self-related information. I will conclude that in order to explain the emergence of self-conscious thought out of more basic forms of representations one has to explain the transition between implicit self-related information and explicit self-representation. (shrink)
There is widespread agreement among both supporters and opponents that affirmative action either must not violate any principle of equal opportunity or procedural justice, or if it does, it may do so only given current extenuating circumstances. Many believe that affirmative action is morally problematic, only justified to the extent that it brings us closer to the time when we will no longer need it. In other words, those that support affirmative action believe it is acceptable in nonideal theory, but (...) not ideal theory. This paper argues that affirmative action is entirely compatible with equal opportunity and procedural justice and would be even in an ideal world. I defend a new analysis of Rawlsian procedural justice according to which it is permissible to interfere in the outcomes of procedures, and thus I show that affirmative action is not morally problematic in the way that many have supposed. (shrink)
Sandra Harding's feminist standpoint epistemology makes two claims. The thesis of epistemic privilege claims that unprivileged social positions are likely to generate perspectives that are “less partial and less distorted” than perspectives generated by other social positions. The situated knowledge thesis claims that all scientific knowledge is socially situated. The bias paradox is the tension between these two claims. Whereas the thesis of epistemic privilege relies on the assumption that a standard of impartiality enables one to judge some perspectives as (...) better than others, the situated knowledge thesis seems to undermine this assumption by suggesting that all knowledge is partial. I argue that a contextualist theory of epistemic justification provides a solution to the bias paradox. Moreover, contextualism enables me to give empirical content to the thesis of epistemic privilege, thereby making it into a testable hypothesis. (shrink)
Adults apply ownership not only to objects but also to ideas. But do people come to apply principles of ownership to ideas because of being taught about intellectual property and copyrights? Here, we investigate whether children apply rules from physical property ownership to ideas. Studies 1a and 1b show that children (6–8 years old) determine ownership of both objects and ideas based on who first establishes possession of the object or idea. Study 2 shows that children use another principle of (...) object ownership, control of permission—an ability to restrict others’ access to the entity in question—to determine idea ownership. In Study 3, we replicate these findings with different idea types. In Study 4, we determine that children will not apply ownership to every entity, demonstrating that they do not apply ownership to a common word. Taken together, these results suggest that, like adults, children as young as 6 years old apply rules from ownership not only to objects but to ideas as well. (shrink)
Much of the literature on values in science is limited in its perspective because it focuses on the role of values in individual scientists’ decision making, thereby ignoring the context of scientific collaboration. I examine the epistemic structure of scientific collaboration and argue that it gives rise to two arguments showing that moral and social values can legitimately play a role in scientists’ decision to accept something as scientific knowledge. In the case of scientific collaboration some moral and social values (...) are properly understood to be extrinsic epistemic values, that is, values that promote the attainment of scientific knowledge. (shrink)
An analysis of group justification enables us to understand what it means to say that a research group is justified in making a claim on the basis of evidence. I defend Frederick Schmitt's (1994) joint account of group justification by arguing against a simple summative account of group justification. Also, I respond to two objections to the joint account, one claiming that social epistemologists should always prefer the epistemic value of making true judgments to the epistemic value of maintaining consistency, (...) and another one claiming that the notion of joint commitment implicit in the joint account is epistemically unacceptable. (shrink)
Corpus surveys have shown that the exact forms with which idioms are realized are subject to variation. We report a rating experiment showing that such alternative realizations have varying degrees of acceptability. Idiom variation challenges processing theories associating idioms with fixed multi-word form units, fixed configurations of words, or fixed superlemmas, as they do not explain how it can be that speakers produce variant forms that listeners can still make sense of. A computational model simulating comprehension with naive discriminative learning (...) is introduced that provides an explanation for the different degrees of acceptability of several idiom variant types. Implications for multi-word units in general are discussed. (shrink)
Amartya Sen argues that Rawls’s theory is not only unnecessary in the pursuit of justice, but it may even be an impediment to justice in so far as it has discouraged more useful work. Against what he considers the dominance of transcendental theory, Sen calls for a more realistic and practical ‘comparative’ theory of justice. Sen’s negative point has been widely discussed, but here I develop a reconstruction of Sen’s positive theory (a combination of Adam Smith’s Impartial Spectator, Social Choice (...) Theory, and the Capabilities Approach) in order to evaluate it on its own terms. I find that the theory is technocratic, despite Sen’s insistence to the contrary. (shrink)
Partee (2009) conjectures a formal semantics for natural language (hereafter, single-type semantics) that interprets CPs and referential DPs in the same semantic type: properties of situations. Partee’s semantics contrasts with Montague semantics and its recent contenders (dubbed dual- or multi-type semantics) which assume distinct basic types for the semantic values of referential DPs (i.e. individuals) and CPs (i.e. propositions, truth-values, or sets of assignment functions). Partee’s conjecture is motivated by results in event semantics and discourse representation theory, which support the (...) indirect uni-directional shiftability between propositions and individuals. However, none of these results supports the identity of the types for individuals and propositions. Our paper improves upon the strength and scope of Partee’s support for single-type semantics. In particular, it identifies a number of new arguments for the adoption of single-type semantics which display this semantics’ greater unificatory and explanatory power. These arguments are based on the ability of single-type semantics to provide a uniform account of the distributional similarities between DPs and CPs, to explain the truth-evaluability of DP fragments, and to capture semantic inclusion relations between CPs and referential DPs. To further support single-type semantics, we defend it against a number of objections. (shrink)
Spinoza scholars have claimed that we are faced with a dilemma: either Spinoza's definitions in his Ethics are real, in spite of indications to the contrary, or the definitions are nominal and the propositions derived from them are false. I argue that Spinoza did not recognize the distinction between real and nominal definitions. Rather, Spinoza classified definitions according to whether they require a priori or a posteriori justification, which is a classification distinct from either the real/nominal or the intensional/extensional classification. (...) I argue that Spinoza uses both a priori and a posteriori definitions in the Ethics and that recognizing both types of definitions allows us to understand Spinoza's geometric method in a new way. We can now understand the geometric method as two methods, one resulting in propositions that Spinoza considers to be absolutely certain and another resulting in propositions that Spinoza does not consider certain. The latter method makes use of a posteriori definitions and postulates, whereas the former method uses only a priori definitions and axioms. (shrink)
It is a widely accepted assumption within the philosophy of mind and psychology that our ability for complex social interaction is based on the mastery of a common folk psychology, that is to say that social cognition consists in reasoning about the mental states of others in order to predict and explain their behavior. This, in turn, requires the possession of mental-state concepts, such as the concepts belief and desire. In recent years, this standard conception of social cognition has been (...) called into question by proponents of so-called ‘direct-perception’ approaches to social cognition and by those who argue that the ‘received view’ implies a degree of computational complexity that is implausible. In response, it has been argued that these attacks on the classical view of social cognition have no bite at the subpersonal level of explanation, and that it is the latter which is at issue in the debate in question. In this paper, I critically examine this response by considering in more detail the distinction between personal and subpersonal level explanations. There are two main ways in which the distinction has been developed. I will argue that on either of these, the response proposed by defenders of the received view is unconvincing. This shows that the dispute between the standard conception and alternative approaches to mindreading is a dispute concerning personal-level explanations - what is at stake in the debate between proponents of the classical view of social cognition and their critics is how we, as persons, navigate our social world. I will conclude by proposing a pluralistic approach to social cognition, which is better able to do justice to the multi-faceted nature of our social interactions as well as being able to account for recent empirical findings regarding the social cognitive abilities of young infants. (shrink)
Judith Butler is often referred to as a thinker who disputes the positive view of recognition shared by many social and political philosophers today and advances a more "ambivalent" account of recognition. While I agree with this general characterization of Butler’s account, I think that it is not yet adequately understood what precisely makes recognition ambivalent for Butler. Usually, Butler is read as providing an ethical critique of recognition. According to this reading, Butler believes that it is important for persons (...) to be recognized but that recognition is at the same time experienced as oppressive and hence is ethically ambivalent. Against this reading, I advance the view that Butler does not develop an ethical critique but rather an ideology critique of recognition. What makes recognition ambivalent for Butler is, as I will argue, that it can serve social functions behind the backs of the participants and be implicated in the reproduction of problematic social orders. I elaborate this argument by drawing on Butler’s analyses of the violent exclusion of genders that are not unambiguously male or female from the social realm, which, on my reading, is directly connected to the recognition of persons as male or female in everyday life. (shrink)
: It is now recognized that relations of trust play an epistemic role in science. The contested issue is under what conditions trust in scientific testimony is warranted. I argue that John Hardwig's view of trustworthy scientific testimony is inadequate because it does not take into account the possibility that credibility does not reliably reflect trustworthiness, and because it does not appreciate the role communities have in guaranteeing the trustworthiness of scientific testimony.
The aim of this paper is twofold. First, we clarify the notion of immunity to error through misidentification with respect to the first-person pronoun. In particular, we set out to dispel the view that for a judgment to be IEM it must contain a token of a certain class of predicates. Rather, the importance of the IEM status of certain judgments is that it teaches us about privileged ways of coming to know about ourselves. We then turn to examine how (...) perception, as a state with nonconceptual content, can give rise to judgments that are IEM. On one view, the ‘inheritance model’ of immunity, perception gives rise to such judgments because perception itself is IEM. We argue that this model is misguided, and, instead, suggest and elucidate an alternative view: perception gives rise to judgments that are IEM by virtue of containing implicitly self-related or self-concerning information. (shrink)
For millennia, human beings have believed that it is morally wrong to judge others by the fortuitous or unfortunate events that befall them or by the actions of another person. Rather, an individual’s own intended, deliberate actions should be the basis of his or her evaluation, reward, and punishment. In a series of studies, the authors investigated whether such rules guide the judgments of children. The first 3 studies demonstrated that children view lucky others as more likely than unlucky others (...) to perform intentional good actions. Children similarly assess the siblings of lucky others as more likely to perform intentional good actions than the siblings of unlucky others. The next 3 studies demonstrated that children as young as 3 years believe that lucky people are nicer than unlucky people. The final 2 studies found that Japanese children also demonstrate a robust preference for the lucky and their associates. These findings are discussed in relation to M. J. Lerner’s (1980) just-world theory and J. Piaget’s (1932/1965) immanent-justice research and in relation to the development of intergroup attitudes. (shrink)