There is a longstanding debate between those who think that cognition extends into the external environment and those who think it is located squarely within the individual. Recently, a new actor has emerged on the scene, one that looks to play kingmaker. Predictive processing says that the mind/brain is fundamentally engaged in a process of minimising the difference between what is predicted about the world and how the world actually is, what is known as ‘prediction error minimisation’. The goal of (...) this paper is to articulate a novel approach to extended cognition using the resources of PP. After outlining two recent proposals from Constant et al. and Kirchhoff and Kiverstein, I argue that the case for extended cognition can be further developed by interpreting certain elements of the PP story as a “mark of the cognitive”. The suggestion is that when construed at an ‘algorithmic level’ PEM offers a direct route to thinking about extended systems as genuine cognitive systems. On route to articulating the proposal, I lay out the core argument, defend the proposal’s novelty, and point to several of the advantages of the formulation. Finally, I conclude by taking up two challenges raised by Hohwy about the prospects of using PEM to argue for extended cognition. (shrink)
Call it the Skynet hypothesis, Artificial General Intelligence, or the advent of the Singularity — for years, AI experts and non-experts alike have fretted (and, for a small group, celebrated) the idea that artificial intelligence may one day become smarter than humans. -/- According to the theory, advances in AI — specifically of the machine learning type that’s able to take on new information and rewrite its code accordingly — will eventually catch up with the wetware of the biological brain. (...) In this interpretation of events, every AI advance from Jeopardy-winning IBM machines to the massive AI language model GPT-3 is taking humanity one step closer to an existential threat. We’re literally building our soon-to-be-sentient successors. -/- Except that it will never happen. At least, according to the authors of the new book Why Machines Will Never Rule the World: Artificial Intelligence without Fear. (shrink)
This book explores a neglected philosophical question: How do groups of interacting minds relate to singular minds? Could several of us, by organizing ourselves the right way, constitute a single conscious mind that contains our minds as parts? And could each of us have been, all along, a group of mental parts in close cooperation? Scientific progress seems to be slowly revealing that all the different physical objects around us are, at root, just a matter of the right parts put (...) together in the right ways: How far could the same be true of minds? This book argues that we are too used to seeing the mind as an indivisible unity and that understanding our place in nature requires being willing to see minds as composite systems, simultaneously one conscious whole and many conscious parts. In thinking through the implications of such a shift of perspective, the book relates the question of mental combination to a range of different theories of the mind (in particular panpsychism, functionalism, and Neo-Lockeanism about personal identity) and identifies, clarifies, and addresses a wide array of philosophical objections (concerning personal identity, the unity of consciousness, the privacy of experience, and other issues) that have been raised against the idea of composite minds. The result is an account of the metaphysics of composition and consciousness that can illuminate many different debates in philosophy of mind, concerning split brains, collective intentionality, and the combination problem, among others. (shrink)
A paradox, according to the OED, is ‘a statement seemingly self-contradictory or absurd, though possibly well-founded or essentially true’. In this article I shall try to show that the classical orthodox Marxist view of morality is a paradox. I shall seek to resolve the paradox by trying to show that it is only seemingly self-contradictory or absurd. But I shall not claim the standard Marxist view of morality to be well-founded or essentially true. On the contrary, I shall suggest that, (...) though coherent, it is ill-founded and illusory. (shrink)
A new formulation of the Fine-Tuning Argument (FTA) for the existence of God is offered, which avoids a number of commonly raised objections. I argue that we can and should focus on the fundamental constants and initial conditions of the universe, and show how physics itself provides the probabilities that are needed by the argument. I explain how this formulation avoids a number of common objections, specifically the possibility of deeper physical laws, the multiverse, normalisability, whether God would fine-tune at (...) all, whether the universe is too fine-tuned, and whether the likelihood of God creating a life-permitting universe is inscrutable. (shrink)
I argue that there are non-trivial objective chances (that is, objective chances other than 0 and 1) even in deterministic worlds. The argument is straightforward. I observe that there are probabilistic special scientific laws even in deterministic worlds. These laws project non-trivial probabilities for the events that they concern. And these probabilities play the chance role and so should be regarded as chances as opposed, for example, to epistemic probabilities or credences. The supposition of non-trivial deterministic chances might seem to (...) land us in contradiction. The fundamental laws of deterministic worlds project trivial probabilities for the very same events that are assigned non-trivial probabilities by the special scientific laws. I argue that any appearance of tension is dissolved by recognition of the level-relativity of chances. There is therefore no obstacle to accepting non-trivial chance-role-playing deterministic probabilities as genuine chances. (shrink)
Bullying is a serious problem in today’s workplace, in that, a large percentage of employees have either been bullied or knows someone who has. There are a variety of ethical concerns dealing with bullying—that is, courses of action to manage the bullying contain serious ethical/legal concerns. The inadequacies of legal protections for bullying in the U.S. workplace also compound the approaches available to deal ethically with bullying. While Schumann (2001, Human Resource Management Review 11, 93–111) does not explicitly examine bullying, (...) the five moral principles that he advocates can be applied to judge the ethics of bullying in the workplace. A possible limitation of this model is that, it is designed to be normative (judgmental), and while it does take into consideration the relationships among the victim, the perpetrator, the groups in the organization, and the organization itself in judging the ethics of bullying, it does not explicitly consider the process by which bullying might develop and persist. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of this process, Nijhof and Rietdijk (1999, Journal of Business Ethics 20(1), 39–50)) suggest applying an A–B–C (antecedents, behaviors, and consequences) model to help understand the dynamics of bullying in the workplace. Formal propositions are offered to guide both academics and practitioners to an enriched understanding of the ethics of workplace bullying. (shrink)
The unity of consciousness has so far been studied only as a relation holding among the many experiences of a single subject. I investigate whether this relation could hold between the experiences of distinct subjects, considering three major arguments against the possibility of such ‘between-subjects unity’. The first argument, based on the popular idea that unity implies subsumption by a composite experience, can be deflected by allowing for limited forms of ‘experience-sharing’, in which the same token experience belongs to more (...) than one subject. The second argument, based on the phenomenological claim that unified experiences have interdependent phenomenal characters, I show to rest on an equivocation. Finally, the third argument accuses between-subjects unity of being unimaginable, or more broadly a formal possibility corresponding to nothing we can make sense of. I argue that the familiar experience of perceptual co-presentation gives us an adequate phenomenological grasp on what between-subjects unity might be like. (shrink)
When asked to describe wartime atrocities, terrorist acts, and serial killers, many of us reach for the word 'evil'. But what does it really mean? Luke Russell defends a new account of the nature of evil action and persons. Although the concept of evil is extreme and often misused, it has a legitimate place in contemporary secular moral thought.
John Broome has argued that value incommensurability is vagueness, by appeal to a controversial about comparative indeterminacy. I offer a new counterexample to the collapsing principle. That principle allows us to derive an outright contradiction from the claim that some object is a borderline case of some predicate. But if there are no borderline cases, then the principle is empty. The collapsing principle is either false or empty.
Two options are ‘incommensurate’ when neither is better than the other, but they are not equally good. Typically, we will say that one option is better in some ways, and the other in others, but neither is better ‘all things considered’. It is tempting to think that incommensurability is vagueness—that it is indeterminate which is better—but this ‘vagueness view’ of incommensurability has not proven popular. I set out the vagueness view and its implications in more detail, and argue that it (...) can explain most of the puzzling features of incommensurability. This argument proceeds without appeal to John Broome’s ‘collapsing principle’. (shrink)
Fine-tuning in physics and cosmology is often used as evidence that a theory is incomplete. For example, the parameters of the standard model of particle physics are “unnaturally” small, which has driven much of the search for physics beyond the standard model. Of particular interest is the fine-tuning of the universe for life, which suggests that our universe’s ability to create physical life forms is improbable and in need of explanation, perhaps by a multiverse. This claim has been challenged on (...) the grounds that the relevant probability measure cannot be justified because it cannot be normalized, and so small probabilities cannot be inferred. We show how fine-tuning can be formulated within the context of Bayesian theory testing in the physical sciences. The normalizability problem is seen to be a general problem for testing any theory with free parameters, and not a unique problem for fine-tuning. Physical theories in fact avoid such problems in one of two ways. Dimensional parameters are bounded by the Planck scale, avoiding troublesome infinities, and we are not compelled to assume that dimensionless parameters are distributed uniformly, which avoids non-normalizability. (shrink)
David DeGrazia’s stated purposes for Taking Animals Seriously are to apply a coherentist methodology to animal ethics, to do the philosophical work necessary for discussing animal minds, and to fill in some of the gaps in the existing literature on animal ethics.
Polyamory is a form of consensual non-monogamy. To render it palatable to critics, activists and theorists often accentuate its similarity to monogamy. I argue that this strategy conceals the distinctive character of polyamorous intimacy. A more discriminating account of polyamory helps me answer objections to the lifestyle whilst noting some of its unique pitfalls. I define polyamory, and explain why people pursue this lifestyle. Many think polyamory is an inferior form of intimacy; I describe four of their main objections. I (...) explain how commitment to ‘the polyamorous possibility’ prompts one to viscerally experience personal, practical, and social constraints. Unlike monogamous dynamics, these confrontations are mediated by third parties who destabilise the familiar dynamics of coupled life. Polyamory can be emotionally challenging but, as I outline in the article, it is sustained by interpersonal emotional work that helps people feel and understand their emotions, communicate without confrontation, and contain the difficult emotions of others. This work is qualitatively and quantitatively intensified in polyamory. Finally, I rebut objections to polyamory whilst also acknowledging the ways polyamory has its own pitfalls. (shrink)
Philosophical exploration of individualism and externalism in the cognitive sciences most recently has been focused on general evaluations of these two views (Adams & Aizawa 2008, Rupert 2008, Wilson 2004, Clark 2008). Here we return to broaden an earlier phase of the debate between individualists and externalists about cognition, one that considered in detail particular theories, such as those in developmental psychology (Patterson 1991) and the computational theory of vision (Burge 1986, Segal 1989). Music cognition is an area in the (...) cognitive sciences that has received little attention from philosophers, though it has relatively recently been thrown into the externalist spotlight (Cochrane 2008, Kruger 2014, Kersten forthcoming). Given that individualism can be thought of as a kind of paradigm for research on cognition, we provide a brief overview of the field of music cognition and individualistic tendencies within the field (sections 2 and 3) before turning to consider externalist alternatives to individualistic paradigms (section 4-5) and then arguing for a qualified form of externalism about music cognition (section 6). (shrink)
I discuss the apparent discrepancy between the qualitative diversity of consciousness and the relative qualitative homogeneity of the brain's basic constituents, a discrepancy that has been raised as a problem for identity theorists by Maxwell and Lockwood (as one element of the ‘grain problem’), and more recently as a problem for panpsychists (under the heading of ‘the palette problem’). The challenge posed to panpsychists by this discrepancy is to make sense of how a relatively small ‘palette’ of basic qualities could (...) give rise to the bewildering diversity of qualities we, and presumably other creatures, experience. I argue that panpsychists can meet this challenge, though it requires taking contentious stands on certain phenomenological questions, in particular on whether any familiar qualities are actual examples of ‘phenomenal blending’, and whether any other familiar qualities have a positive ‘phenomenologically simple character’. Moreover, it requires accepting an eventual theory most elements of which are in a certain explicable sense unimaginable, though not for that reason inconceivable. Nevertheless, I conclude that there are no conclusive reasons to reject such a theory, and so philosophers whose prior commitments motivate them to adopt it can do so without major theoretical cost. (shrink)
Why does institutional police brutality continue so brazenly? Criminologists and other social scientists typically theorize about the causes of such violence, but less attention is given to normative questions regarding the demands of justice. Some philosophers have taken a teleological approach, arguing that social institutions such as the police exist to realize collective ends and goods based upon the idea of collective moral responsibility. Others have approached normative questions in policing from a more explicit social-contract perspective, suggesting that legitimacy is (...) derived by adhering to (limited) authority. This article examines methodologies within political philosophy for analyzing police injustice. The methodological inquiry leads to an account of how justice constrains the police through both special (or positional) moral requirements that officers assume voluntarily, as well as general moral requirements in virtue of a polity’s commitment to moral, political and legal values beyond law enforcement and crime reduction. The upshot is a conception of a police role that is constrained by justice from multiple foundational stances. (shrink)
I argue that the Ruth Chang’s Chaining Argument for her parity view of value incomparability trades illicitly on the vagueness of the predicate ‘is comparable with’. Chang is alert to this danger and argues that the predicate is not vague, but this defense does not succeed. The Chaining Argument also faces a dilemma. The predicate is either vague or precise. If it is vague, then the argument is most plausibly a sorites. If it is precise, then the argument is either (...) question begging or dialectically ineffective. I argue that no chaining-type argument can succeed. (shrink)
Although healthcare workers play a crucial role in helping curb the hazardous health impact of coronavirus disease 2019, their lives and major functioning have been greatly affected by the pandemic. This study examined the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the quality of life of Malaysian healthcare workers and its predictive factors. An online sample of 389 university-based healthcare workers completed questionnaires on demographics, clinical features, COVID-19-related stressors, psychological experiences, and perceived social support after the movement lockdown was lifted. All (...) domains of QoL were within the norms of the general population except for social relationship QoL, which was lower than the norm. Multiple linear regression analysis indicated that COVID-19-related stressors and psychological sequelae predicted lower QoL. Conversely, greater perceived social support from friends and significant others predicted higher QoL. Clinical and demographic characteristics predicted QoL to a lesser extent: A history of pre-existing medical illness was associated only with lower physical health QoL, whereas older age and being single, divorced, or widowed were only predictive of higher environmental QoL. Efforts to enhance QoL among healthcare workers in response to the pandemic should focus on mitigating COVID-19-related stressors and psychological sequelae and facilitating social support. (shrink)
Compersion is an important concept for non-monogamous people. Often described as jealousy's opposite, compersion labels positive feelings toward the intimacy of a beloved with other people. Since many people think jealousy is ordinary, intransigent, and even appropriate, compersion can seem psychologically and ethically dubious. I make the case for compersion, arguing it focuses on the flourishing of others and is thus not akin to pride, vicarious enjoyment, or masochistic pleasure. People cultivate compersion by softening their propensity to be jealous and (...) by attending to the flourishing of others, which requires them to tackle entitlement and temper vulnerability. I argue that jealousy is not a valuable emotional disposition; its instrumental benefits are minor, unstable, and have to be traded against the harms of aggression. Arguments that conclude that jealousy is a virtue rest on contentious premises and overlook the practical question as to whether jealousy and compersion could be cultivated together. (shrink)
We often have some reason to do actions insofar as they promote outcomes or states of affairs, such as the satisfaction of a desire. But what is it to promote an outcome? I defend a new version of 'probabilism about promotion'. According to Minimal Probabilistic Promotion, we promote some outcome when we make that outcome more likely than it would have been if we had done something else. This makes promotion easy and reasons cheap.
Are there absolute truths that can be gradually approached over time through rational processes? Or are all modes and systems of thought equally valid if viewed from within their own internally consistent frames of reference? Are there universal forms of reasoning and understanding that enable us to distinguish between rational beliefs and those that are demonstrably false, or is everything relative?These central questions are addressed and debated by the distinguished contributors to this lively book. Some of them - Hollis, Lukes, (...) Robin Horton, and Ernest Gellner - discuss new directions in their thinking since their earlier articles appeared in 1970 in the seminal volume Rationality. They are now joined in the debate by Ian Hacking, W. Newton-Smith, Charles Taylor, Jon Elster, Dan Sperber, and, in the jointly authored lead article, by Barry Barnes and David Bloor.Emerging from the debate are a variety of supportable interpretations and conclusions rather than a single, distinct "truth." The contributors represent the complete spectrum of positions between a relativism that challenges the very concept of a single world and the idea that there are ascertainable, objective universals. (shrink)
Extended cognition holds that cognitive processes sometimes leak into the world (Dawson, 2013). A recent trend among proponents of extended cognition has been to put pressure on phenomena thought to be safe havens for internalists (Sneddon, 2011; Wilson, 2010; Wilson & Lenart, 2014). This paper attempts to continue this trend by arguing that music perception is an extended phenomenon. It is claimed that because music perception involves the detection of musical invariants within an “acoustic array”, the interaction between the auditory (...) system and the musical invariants can be characterized as an extended computational cognitive system. In articulating this view, the work of J. J. Gibson (1966, 1986) and Robert Wilson (1994, 1995, 2004) is drawn on. The view is defended from several objections and its implications outlined. The paper concludes with a comparison to Krueger’s (2014) view of the “musically extended emotional mind”. (shrink)
Sergio Tenenbaum and Diana Raffman contend that ‘vague projects’ motivate radical revisions to orthodox, utility-maximising rational choice theory. Their argument cannot succeed if such projects merely ground instances of the paradox of the sorites, or heap. Tenenbaum and Raffman are not blind to this, and argue that Warren Quinn’s Puzzle of the Self-Torturer does not rest on the sorites. I argue that their argument both fails to generalise to most vague projects, and is ineffective in the case of the Self-Torturer (...) itself. (shrink)
The conceptions of jealousy used by philosophical writers are various, and, this paper suggests, largely inadequate. In particular, the difference between jealousy and envy has not yet been plausibly specified. This paper surveys some past analyses of this distinction and addresses problems with them, before proposing its own positive account of jealousy, developed from an idea of Leila Tov-Ruach(a.k.a. A. O. Rorty). Three conditions for being jealous are proposed and it is shownhow each of them helps to tell the emotion (...) apart from some distinct species of envy.It is acknowledged that the referents of the two terms are, to some extent, overlapping,but shown how this overlap is justified by the psychologies of the respective emotions. (shrink)
This thesis explores the possibility of composite consciousness: phenomenally conscious states belonging to a composite being in virtue of the consciousness of, and relations among, its parts. We have no trouble accepting that a composite being has physical properties entirely in virtue of the physical properties of, and relations among, its parts. But a longstanding intuition holds that consciousness is different: my consciousness cannot be understood as a complex of interacting component consciousnesses belonging to parts of me. I ask why: (...) what is it about consciousness that makes us think it so different from matter? And should we accept this apparent difference? (shrink)
Studies of animal culture have not normally included a consideration of cetaceans. However, with several long-term field studies now maturing, this situation should change. Animal culture is generally studied by either investigating transmission mechanisms experimentally, or observing patterns of behavioural variation in wild populations that cannot be explained by either genetic or environmental factors. Taking this second, ethnographic, approach, there is good evidence for cultural transmission in several cetacean species. However, only the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops) has been shown experimentally to (...) possess sophisticated social learning abilities, including vocal and motor imitation; other species have not been studied. There is observational evidence for imitation and teaching in killer whales. For cetaceans and other large, wide-ranging animals, excessive reliance on experimental data for evidence of culture is not productive; we favour the ethnographic approach. The complex and stable vocal and behavioural cultures of sympatric groups of killer whales (Orcinus orca) appear to have no parallel outside humans, and represent an independent evolution of cultural faculties. The wide movements of cetaceans, the greater variability of the marine environment over large temporal scales relative to that on land, and the stable matrilineal social groups of some species are potentially important factors in the evolution of cetacean culture. There have been suggestions of gene-culture coevolution in cetaceans, and culture may be implicated in some unusual behavioural and life-history traits of whales and dolphins. We hope to stimulate discussion and research on culture in these animals. (shrink)
The starting point in the development of probabilistic analyses of token causation has usually been the naïve intuition that, in some relevant sense, a cause raises the probability of its effect. But there are well-known examples both of non-probability-raising causation and of probability-raising non-causation. Sophisticated extant probabilistic analyses treat many such cases correctly, but only at the cost of excluding the possibilities of direct non-probability-raising causation, failures of causal transitivity, action-at-a-distance, prevention, and causation by absence and omission. I show that (...) an examination of the structure of these problem cases suggests a different treatment, one which avoids the costs of extant probabilistic analyses. (shrink)
Some philosophical theories of consciousness imply consciousness in things we would never intuitively think are conscious—most notably, panpsychism implies that consciousness is pervasive, even outside complex brains. Is this a reductio ab absurdum for such theories, or does it show that we should reject our original intuitions? To understand the stakes of this question as clearly as possible, we analyse the structured pattern of intuitions that panpsychism conflicts with. We consider a variety of ways that the tension between this intuition (...) and panpsychism could be resolved, ranging from complete rejection of the theory to complete dismissal of the intuition, but argue in favour of more nuanced approaches which try to reconcile the two. (shrink)
Two main types of philosophical arguments have been given in support of the claim that the citizens of affluent societies have stringent moral duties to aid the global poor: “positive duty” arguments based on the notion of beneficence and “negative duty” arguments based on noninterference. Peter Singer’s positive duty argument and Thomas Pogge’s negative duty argument are among the most prominent examples. Philosophers have made speculative claims about the relative effectiveness of these arguments in promoting attitudes and behaviors that could (...) lead to the alleviation of poverty. In this article we present the results of two empirical studies that evaluate these claims, and suggest that both arguments have a modest effect on people’s attitudes and behaviors regarding global poverty. In a replication of the second study, the negative duty argument, in particular, had a statistically significant effect on donations. We discuss the theoretical and practical significance of these results and suggest directions for further research on the role that philosophical arguments can play in engendering concern and action on pressing moral problems. (shrink)
Adam Morton, Stephen de Wijze, Hillel Steiner, and Eve Garrard have defended the view that evil action is qualitatively distinct from ordinary wrongdoing. By this, they do not that mean that evil actions feel different to ordinary wrongs, but that they have motives or effects that are not possessed to any degree by ordinary wrongs. Despite their professed intentions, Morton and de Wijze both offer accounts of evil action that fail to identify a clear qualitative difference between evil and ordinary (...) wrongdoing. In contrast, both Steiner's and Garrard's accounts of evil do point to qualitative distinctions between kinds of action, but it is implausible that either account correctly characterizes evil. The most plausible accounts maintain that evil actions have a necessary connection to extreme harms, and this suggests that evil is not qualitatively distinct from ordinary wrongdoing. (shrink)