The quality of potential symmetries of the similarity structure of the Basic Colour Terms has been assessed. The assessment was made on the basis of a database of similarity judgements, made by subjects in response to linguistically expressed questions. All potential symmetries can be statistically rejected, although the well-known and some novel interpretable symmetries are shown to be approximately correct.
Recent years have seen fresh impetus brought to debates about the proper role of statistical evidence in the law. Recent work largely centres on a set of puzzles known as the ‘proof paradox’. While these puzzles may initially seem academic, they have important ramifications for the law: raising key conceptual questions about legal proof, and practical questions about DNA evidence. This article introduces the proof paradox, why we should care about it, and new work attempting to resolve it.
Despite playing an important role in epistemology, philosophy of science, and more recently in moral philosophy and aesthetics, the nature of understanding is still much contested. One attractive framework attempts to reduce understanding to other familiar epistemic states. This paper explores and develops a methodology for testing such reductionist theories before offering a counterexample to a recently defended variant on which understanding reduces to what an agent knows.
A question, long discussed by legal scholars, has recently provoked a considerable amount of philosophical attention: ‘Is it ever appropriate to base a legal verdict on statistical evidence alone?’ Many philosophers who have considered this question reject legal reliance on bare statistics, even when the odds of error are extremely low. This paper develops a puzzle for the dominant theories concerning why we should eschew bare statistics. Namely, there seem to be compelling scenarios in which there are multiple sources of (...) incriminating statistical evidence. As we conjoin together different types of statistical evidence, it becomes increasingly incredible to suppose that a positive verdict would be impermissible. I suggest that none of the dominant views in the literature can easily accommodate such cases, and close by offering a diagnosis of my own. (shrink)
Recent work takes both philosophical and scientific progress to consist in acquiring factive epistemic states such as knowledge. However, much of this work leaves unclear what entity is the subject of these epistemic states. Furthermore, by focusing only on states like knowledge, we overlook progress in intermediate cases between ignorance and knowledge—for example, many now celebrated theories were initially so controversial that they were not known. -/- This paper develops an improved framework for thinking about intellectual progress. Firstly, I argue (...) that we should think of progress relative to the epistemic position of an intellectual community rather than individual inquirers. Secondly, I show how focusing on the extended process of inquiry (rather than the mere presence or absence of states like knowledge) provides a better evaluation of different types of progress. This includes progress through formulating worthwhile questions, acquiring new evidence, and increasing credence on the right answers to these questions. I close by considering the ramifications for philosophical progress, suggesting that my account supports rejecting the most negative views while allowing us to articulate different varieties of optimism and pessimism. (shrink)
In his new book, Lewis D. Sargentich shows how two different kinds of legal argument - rule-based reasoning and reasoning based on principles and policies - share a surprising kinship and serve the same aspiration. He starts with the study of the rule of law in life, a condition of law that serves liberty - here called liberal legality. In pursuit of liberal legality, courts work to uphold people's legal entitlements and to confer evenhanded legal justice. Judges try to (...) achieve the control of reason in law, which is manifest in law's coherence, and to avoid forms of arbitrariness, such as personal moral judgment. Sargentich offers a unified theory of the diverse ways of doing law, and shows that they all arise from the same root, which is a commitment to liberal legality. (shrink)
Traditional views on which beliefs are subject only to purely epistemic assessment can reject demographic profiling, even when based on seemingly robust evidence. This is because the moral failures involved in demographic profiling can be located in the decision not to suspend judgement, rather than supposing that beliefs themselves are a locus of moral evaluation. A key moral reason to suspend judgement when faced with adverse demographic evidence is to promote social equality—this explains why positive profiling is dubious in addition (...) to more familiar cases of negative profiling and why profiling is suspect even when no particular action is at stake. My suspension-based view, while compatible with revisionary normative positions, does not presuppose them. Philosophers of all stripes can reject demographic profiling both in thought and deed. (shrink)
Since Erik Erikson's clinical and psychohistorical writings of the 1950s and 1960s, the notion of identity has served as a bridge between formulations of personality development and the psychosocial aspects of cultural cohesiveness. More recently, under the influence of a postmodern perspective, clinical writers have questioned the notion of a stable, integrative identity or self as an organizing agent in human behavior. In the area of gender identity, particularly, feminist theorists have criticized the construction of polarized gender identities both for (...) their psychological inadequacy and their cultural bias.A parallel line of criticism has developed at the cultural or historical level. Writers such as Benedict Anderson and Ernest Gellner have effectively contrasted the shallow ideological and historical roots of nationalism with the effort to base national identity on the appeal to tradition and continuity. Other writers have emphasized the heterogeneous condition of the contemporary nation in a postcolonial world. They contrast a static concept of cultural or national identity to a more fluid notion which incorporates the ongoing process of displacement that, they argue, characterizes national discourse. The identity structures that emerge from this critique, both within a clinical and a historical setting, are more ambiguous and unstable, and reflect the heterogeneous experience of contemporary culture.World historians such as William McNeill and Theodore von Laue have cited the boundedness of historians within their own cultural identities as a significant obstacle to the development of an intercultural approach to world history. These postmodern reformulations of identity theory challenge the notion of cultural boundedness by emphasizing the discontinuities endemic to modern life and the inescapably plural character of contemporary identity. (shrink)
What should we do about low conviction rates for sexual offences? Much of the discussion focuses on the problem of prosecution: i.e. too few accusations of sexual assault make their way to court. Here, I want to consider the problem from a different angle—namely, what should we do if prosecution rates rise, but conviction rates do not? After all, prosecutions are not an end in themselves. The problem is that too few people who are guilty of sexual assault are being (...) punished. So, what steps, if any, should be taken if conviction rates fail to rise along with prosecution rates? (shrink)