We claim that adjustable parameters play a crucial role in building and applying simulation models. We analyze that role and illustrate our findings using examples from equations of state in thermodynamics. In building simulation models, two types of experiments, namely, simulation and classical experiments, interact in a feedback loop, in which model parameters are adjusted. A critical discussion of how adjustable parameters function shows that they are boon and bane of simulation. They help to enlarge the scope of simulation far (...) beyond what can be determined by theoretical knowledge, but at the same time undercut the epistemic value of simulation models. (shrink)
This is part II in a series of papers outlining Abstraction Theory, a theory that I propose provides a solution to the characterisation or epistemological problem of induction. Logic is built from first principles severed from language such that there is one universal logic independent of specific logical languages. A theory of (non-linguistic) meaning is developed which provides the basis for the dissolution of the `grue' problem and problems of the non-uniqueness of probabilities in inductive logics. The problem of counterfactual (...) conditionals is generalised to a problem of truth conditions of hypotheses and this general problem is then solved by the notion of abstractions. The probability calculus is developed with examples given. In future parts of the series the full decision theory is developed and its properties explored. (shrink)
In this article I propose that a postphenomenological approach to science and technology can open new analytical understandings of how material artifacts, embodiment and social agency co-produce learned perceptions of objects. In particle physics, physicists work in huge groups of scientists from many cultural backgrounds. Communication to some extent depends on material hermeneutics of flowcharts, models and other visual presentations. As it appears in an examination of physicists’ scrutiny of visual renderings of different parts of a detector, perceptions vary in (...) relation to social and bodily experiences. Vision in physics has seemingly allowed an objective perception at a convenient distance of the body. This article challenges this view and proposes that the variations can be analysed as cultural at two echelons with the help of a postphenomenological approach combined with cultural psychological theory of artifacts. A third echelon presumably constitutes the phenomenological limit to culture in science. Even this last resort of subjectivity can be embraced by a postphenomenological approach. The process of culturalization in physics can be defined as a process of situating knowledge in a body whose continuous learning of micro-and macro perceptions makes scientific renderings unstable. Taken together postphenomenology, following the distinctions between body one and body two, and combined with cultural psychological learning theory, enables new insight into what constitutes culture in science. (shrink)
Albertus Magnus favours the Aristotelian definition of the soul as the first actuality or perfection of a natural body having life potentially. But he interprets Aristotle's vocabulary in a way that it becomes compatible with the separability of the soul from the body. The term “perfectio” is understood as referring to the soul's activity only, not to its essence. The term “forma” is avoided as inadequate for defining the soul's essence. The soul is understood as a substance which exists independently (...) of its actions and its body. The article shows that Albertus' terminological decisions continue a tradition reaching from the Greek commentators, and John Philoponos in particular, to Avicenna. Albertus' position on another important issue is also influenced by Arabic sources. His defense of the unity of the soul's vegetative, animal and rational parts rests on arguments from Avicenna and Averroes. It is shown that Averroes' position on the problem is not clearcut: he advocates the unity thesis, but also teaches the plurality of the generic and individual forms in man. This double stance is visible in the Latin reception of Averroes' works, and also in Albertus, who presents Averroes both as supporter and opponent of the plurality thesis. (shrink)
I present a solution to the epistemological or characterisation problem of induction. In part I, Bayesian Confirmation Theory (BCT) is discussed as a good contender for such a solution but with a fundamental explanatory gap (along with other well discussed problems); useful assigned probabilities like priors require substantive degrees of belief about the world. I assert that one does not have such substantive information about the world. Consequently, an explanation is needed for how one can be licensed to act as (...) if one has substantive information about the world when one does not. I sketch the outlines of a solution in part I, showing how it differs from others, with full details to follow in subsequent parts. The solution is pragmatic in sentiment (though differs in specifics to arguments from, for example, William James); the conceptions we use to guide our actions are and should be at least partly determined by preferences. This is cashed out in a reformulation of decision theory motivated by a non-reductive formulation of hypotheses and logic. A distinction emerges between initial assumptions--that can be non-dogmatic--and effective assumptions that can simultaneously be substantive. An explanation is provided for the plausibility arguments used to explain assigned probabilities in BCT. -/- In subsequent parts, logic is constructed from principles independent of language and mind. In particular, propositions are defined to not have form. Probabilities are logical and uniquely determined by assumptions. The problems considered fatal to logical probabilities--Goodman's `grue' problem and the uniqueness of priors problem are dissolved due to the particular formulation of logic used. Other problems such as the zero-prior problem are also solved. -/- A universal theory of (non-linguistic) meaning is developed. Problems with counterfactual conditionals are solved by developing concepts of abstractions and corresponding pictures that make up hypotheses. Spaces of hypotheses and the version of Bayes' theorem that utilises them emerge from first principles. -/- Theoretical virtues for hypotheses emerge from the theory. Explanatory force is explicated. The significance of effective assumptions is partly determined by combinatoric factors relating to the structure of hypotheses. I conjecture that this is the origin of simplicity. (shrink)
Earthcare: Readings and Cases in Environmental Ethics presents a diverse collection of writings from a variety of authors on environmental ethics, environmental science, and the environmental movement overall. Exploring a broad range of world views, religions and philosophies, David W. Clowney and Patricia Mosto bring together insightful thoughts on the ethical issues arising in various areas of environmental concern.
What is the strength of anthropological fieldwork when we want to understand human technologies? In this article we argue that anthropological fieldwork can be understood as a process of gaining insight into different contextualisations in practiced places that will open up new understandings of technologies in use, e.g., technologies as multistable ontologies. The argument builds on an empirical study of robots at a Danish rehabilitation centre. Ethnographic methods combined with anthropological learning processes open up new way for exploring how robots (...) enter into professional practices and change values, social relations and materialities. Though substantial funding has been invested in developing health service robots, few studies have been undertaken that explore human-robot interactions as they play out in everyday practice. We argue that the complex learning processes involve not only so-called end-users but also staff, management, doings and discourse in a complex amalgamation of materials and values. (shrink)
This article discusses the complex space of the city as an urban milieu of vitality. On the skin of the city, a permanent change of its physical and physiognomic appearance takes place. The alternation of urban “faces” is constituted situationally in the structures and wrinkles of the skin. However, characteristic features of urban quarters do not only appear visually; they become bodily felt and are perceptible as holistic impressions, emanating from atmospheric “vital qualities”. Therefore, lively urban districts are discussed as (...) “body islands” in urban space. Seen from this vitalistic perspective, the city is not only a world of rational actors—as it is common ground in the social sciences—but also an unpredictable space of performativity. (shrink)
Will robots ever be able to learn like humans? To answer that question, one first needs to ask: what is learning? Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus had a point when they claimed that computers and robots would never be able to learn like humans because human learning, after an initial phase of rule-based learning, is uncertain, context sensitive and intuitive under contract F49620-C-0063 with the University of California) Berkeley, February 1980.. Washington, DC: Storming Media. https://www.stormingmedia.us/15/1554/A155480.html. Accessed 10 Oct 2017, 1980). I (...) would add that learning also builds on prior learning, and that from the outset, human learning is a socio-cultural materially grounded collective epistemology. This posthuman acknowledgement shifts the focus from the individual learner to learning within collective phenomena. Dreyfus and Dreyfus do not seem to emphasise the essentially social and cultural nature of the human condition. Learning theory, new materialism and postphenomenology have emphasised in different ways the materially based socio-cultural nature of human learning. They thereby point towards a ‘posthuman’ learning that is far from the machine-like or enhanced creature envisioned by singularists. Until robots are essentially social and ground their epistemologies in socio-cultural materiality, I suggest that human-like AI is not possible. (shrink)
The recent interest of cognitive- and neuro-scientists in the topic of consciousness (and the dissatisfaction with the present state of knowledge) has revealed deep conceptual differences with Humanists, who have dealt with issues of consciousness for centuries. O'Regan & Noë have attempted (unsuccessfully) to bridge those differences.
Robots are simultaneously real machines and technical images that challenge our sense of self. I discuss the movie Ex Machina by director Alex Garland. The robot Ava, played by Alicia Vikander, is a rare portrait of what could be interpreted as a feminist robot. Though she apparently is created as the dream of the ‘perfect woman’, sexy and beautiful, she also develops and urges to free herself from the slavery of her creator, Nathan Bateman. She is a robot created along (...) the perfect dimensions as a Vitruvian robot but is also a creature which could be interpreted as a human being. However, the point I want to raise is not whether Ava’s reaction to robot slavery is justified or not but how her portrait raises questions about the blurred lines between reality and fiction when we discuss our robotic future. A real version of Ava would not last long in a human world because she is basically a solipsist, who does not really care about humans. She cannot co-create the line humans walk along. The robots created as ‘perfect women’ today are very far from the ideal image of Ava. They are sexist, primitively normative and clearly ‘wax-doll machines’. So though Ava’s dimensions are perfect she, like the Vitruvian Man, remains a fiction. In real life, however, we may have to deal with an increasing solipsism stemming from people engaging with machines like sex robots. In this case, it is human and not robotic solipsism we need to worry about. (shrink)