The Westermarck Effect posits that intimate association during childhood promotes human incest avoidance. In previous work, I articulated and defended a version of the Westermarck Effect by developing a phylogenetic argument that has purchase within primatology but that has had more limited appeal for cultural anthropologists due to their commitment to conventionalist or culture-first accounts of incest avoidance. Here I look to advance the discussion of incest and incest avoidance beyond culture-first accounts in two ways. First, I shall dig deeper (...) into the disciplinary grooves within cultural anthropology that make attractive the view that incest has a naturalness to it that is countered only or primarily by explicit social rules, such as taboos. Second, I further explore the emerging, post-conventionalist view of incest avoidance in a more positive vein by elaborating on the nature of the Westermarckian mechanism and how it relates to such explicit social rules and our innate biological endowments. One general aim here is to overcome the bifurcation between perspectives that are seen as biological and those seen as cultural, preempting or countering the claim that rejecting culture-first accounts entails a form of biological reductionism, a general aim I have pursued in related publications on bioessentialism about kinship. (shrink)
How secular is contemporary society? Are pockets of sectarianism embedded in societies of developed countries? This timely book examines the interweaving of politics and religion, and of tradition and innovation in a variety of cultural settings. Eminent scholars from four continents examine here current turmoil in religious beliefs, practices, and organization--not only in the Western world, but in South America, Africa, South Asia, New Zealand, and Japan. They scrutinize evidence of religious change, decline, and revival; investigate challenges posed by new (...) religious movements; and locate religious change and conflict in the context of broader shifts in consciousness and culture. Contributors include Richard Fenn, Phillip E. Hammond, David Martin, Philip Rieff, Roland Robertson, and Mark Schibley. With its focus on the interplay of secularization, rationalism, and sectarianism, this work offers a fitting tribute to Bryan Wilson, who has made so many contributions to the sociological understanding of these phenomena. (shrink)
Motivated by the seeming structure of the sciences, metaphysical emergence combines broadly synchronic dependence coupled with some degree of ontological and causal autonomy. Reflecting the diverse, frequently incompatible interpretations of the notions of dependence and autonomy, however, accounts of emergence diverge into a bewildering variety. Here I argue that much of this apparent diversity is superficial. I first argue, by attention to the problem of higher-level causation, that two and only two strategies for addressing this problem accommodate the genuine emergence (...) of special science entities. These strategies in turn suggest two distinct schema for metaphysical emergence---'Weak' and 'Strong' emergence, respectively. Each schema imposes a condition on the powers of entities taken to be emergent: Strong emergence requires that higher-level features have more token powers than their dependence base features, whereas Weak emergence requires that higher-level features have a proper subset of the token powers of their dependence base features. Importantly, the notion of “power” at issue here is metaphysically neutral, primarily reﬂecting commitment just to the plausible thesis that what causes an entity may bring about are associated with how the entity is---that is, with its features. (shrink)
Margaret Wilson, who died last year, has been described as the most eminent English-language historian of early modern philosophy of her generation. She was President of the Leibniz Society of North America for four years, from 1986 to 1990. Within this organization she is remembered both for her contributions to Leibniz-studies and for her attention to and support of younger researchers and her governing role in the Society. Her Harvard Ph.D. dissertation on “Leibniz’s Doctrine of Necessary Truth,” written under (...) the supervision of Morton White, was completed in 1965, and she went on to write a number of papers on Leibniz in the late 1960s and early-to-mid 1970s, including “Leibniz and Materialism,” “Confused Ideas” and “Leibniz’s Dynamics and Contingency in Nature,” returning to Leibniz in the late 1980s and early 1990s with such articles as “Compossibility and Law” and “The Phenomenalisms of Leibniz and Berkeley. ” Over the course of her career, Wilson published two books, her dissertation, which appeared in a series issued by Garland in 1990, and Descartes, published by Routledge and Kegan Paul in 1978, as well as more than thirty papers on seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophy, nearly all of which are included in the recent volume from Princeton University Press, Ideas and Mechanism. She held a number of research awards and honorary fellowships, including a Fellowship in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to which she was elected in 1992. (shrink)
Essentialism is widely regarded as a mistaken view of biological kinds, such as species. After recounting why (sections 2-3), we provide a brief survey of the chief responses to the “death of essentialism” in the philosophy of biology (section 4). We then develop one of these responses, the claim that biological kinds are homeostatic property clusters (sections 5-6) illustrating this view with several novel examples (section 7). Although this view was first expressed 20 years ago, and has received recent discussion (...) and critique, it remains underdeveloped and is often misrepresented by its critics (section 8). (shrink)
In the latter half of the twentieth century, philosophers of science have argued (implicitly and explicitly) that epistemically rational individuals might compose epistemically irrational groups and that, conversely, epistemically rational groups might be composed of epistemically irrational individuals. We call the conjunction of these two claims the Independence Thesis, as they together imply that methodological prescriptions for scientific communities and those for individual scientists might be logically independent of one another. We develop a formal model of scientific inquiry, define four (...) criteria for individual and group epistemic rationality, and then prove that the four definitions diverge, in the sense that individuals will be judged rational when groups are not and vice versa. We conclude by explaining implications of the inconsistency thesis for (i) descriptive history and sociology of science and (ii) normative prescriptions for scientific communities. (shrink)
In their book Unto Others, Sober and Wilson argue that various evolutionary considerations (based on the logic of natural selection) lend support to the truth of psychological altruism. However, recently, Stephen Stich has raised a number of challenges to their reasoning: in particular, he claims that three out of the four evolutionary arguments they give are internally unconvincing, and that the one that is initially plausible fails to take into account recent findings from cognitive science and thus leaves open (...) a number of egoistic responses. These challenges make it necessary to reassess the plausibility of Sober & Wilson’s evolutionary account—which is what I aim to do in this paper. In particular, I try to show that, as a matter of fact, Sober & Wilson’s case remains compelling, as some of Stich’s concerns rest on a confusion, and those that do not are not sufficiently strong to establish all the conclusions he is after. The upshot is that no reason has been given to abandon the view that evolutionary theory has advanced the debate surrounding psychological altruism. (shrink)
Jim Joyce argues for two amendments to probabilism. The first is the doctrine that credences are rational, or not, in virtue of their accuracy or “closeness to the truth” (1998). The second is a shift from a numerically precise model of belief to an imprecise model represented by a set of probability functions (2010). We argue that both amendments cannot be satisfied simultaneously. To do so, we employ a (slightly-generalized) impossibility theorem of Seidenfeld, Schervish, and Kadane (2012), who show that (...) there is no strictly proper scoring rule for imprecise probabilities. -/- The question then is what should give way. Joyce, who is well aware of this no-go result, thinks that a quantifiability constraint on epistemic accuracy should be relaxed to accommodate imprecision. We argue instead that another Joycean assumption — called strict immodesty— should be rejected, and we prove a representation theorem that characterizes all “mildly” immodest measures of inaccuracy. (shrink)
WilsonMark. _ Innovation and Certainty. _ Cambridge Elements in the Philosophy of Mathematics. Cambridge University Press, 2020. Pp. 74. ISBN: 978-1-108-74229-0 ; 978-1-108-59290-1. doi.org/10.1017/9781108592901.
Reviews evidence which suggests that there may be little or no direct introspective access to higher order cognitive processes. Ss are sometimes unaware of the existence of a stimulus that importantly influenced a response, unaware of the existence of the response, and unaware that the stimulus has affected the response. It is proposed that when people attempt to report on their cognitive processes, that is, on the processes mediating the effects of a stimulus on a response, they do not do (...) so on the basis of any true introspection. Instead, their reports are based on a priori, implicit causal theories, or judgments about the extent to which a particular stimulus is a plausible cause of a given response. This suggests that though people may not be able to observe directly their cognitive processes, they will sometimes be able to report accurately about them. Accurate reports will occur when influential stimuli are salient and are plausible causes of the responses they produce, and will not occur when stimuli are not salient or are not plausible causes. (shrink)
In this paper I assess the prospects for combining contemporary Everettian quantum mechanics (EQM) with branching-time semantics in the tradition of Kripke, Prior, Thomason and Belnap. I begin by outlining the salient features of ‘decoherence-based’ EQM, and of the ‘consistent histories’ formalism that is particularly apt for conceptual discussions in EQM. This formalism permits of both ‘branching worlds’ and ‘parallel worlds’ interpretations; the metaphysics of EQM is in this sense underdetermined by the physics. A prominent argument due to Lewis (On (...) the Plurality of Worlds, 1986 ) supports the non-branching interpretation. Belnap et al. (Facing the Future: Agents and Choices in Our Indeterministic World, 2001 ) refer to Lewis’ argument as the ‘Assertion problem’, and propose a pragmatic response to it. I argue that their response is unattractively ad hoc and complex, and that it prevents an Everettian who adopts branching-time semantics from making clear sense of objective probability. The upshot is that Everettians are better off without branching-time semantics. I conclude by discussing and rejecting an alternative possible motivation for branching time. (shrink)
Several current debates in the epistemology of testimony are implicitly motivated by concerns about the reliability of rules for changing one’s beliefs in light of others’ claims. Call such rules testimonial norms (tns). To date, epistemologists have neither (i) characterized those features of communities that influence the reliability of tns, nor (ii) evaluated the reliability of tns as those features vary. These are the aims of this paper. I focus on scientific communities, where the transmission of highly specialized information is (...) both ubiquitous and critically important. Employing a formal model of scientific inquiry, I argue that miscommunication and the “communicative structure” of science strongly influence the reliability of tns, where reliability is made precise in three ways. (shrink)
In this lucid, deep, and entertaining book, John Perry supposes that type-identity physicalism is antecedently plausible, and that rejecting this thesis requires good reason. He aims to show that experience gap arguments, as given by Jackson, Kripke, and Chalmers, fail to provide such reason, and moreover that each failure stems from an overly restrictive conception of the content of thought.
Intellectual property typically involves claims of ownership of types, rather than particulars. In this article I argue that this difference in ontology makes an important moral difference. In particular I argue that there cannot be an intrinsic moral right to own intellectual property. I begin by establishing a necessary condition for the justification of intrinsic moral rights claims, which I call the Rights Justification Principle. Briefly, this holds that if we want to claim that there is an intrinsic moral right (...) to φ, we must be able to show that (a) violating this right would typically result in either a wrongful harm or other significant wrong to the holder of the right, and (b) the wrongful harm or other wrong in question is independent of the existence of the intrinsic right we are trying to justify. I then argue that merely creating a new instance of a type is not the kind of action which can wrongfully harm the creator of that type. Insofar as there do seem to be wrongs involved in copying a published poem or computer program, these wrongs presuppose the existence of an intrinsic right to own intellectual property, and so cannot be used to justify it. I conclude that there cannot be an intrinsic right to own intellectual property. (shrink)
This paper criticizes Kent Wilson's (`Circular Arguments', 1988) arguments against the analysis of the fallacy of begging the question in epistemic terms and against the division of the fallacy into equivalence and dependency types. It is argued that Wilson does not succeed in showing that the epistemic attitude to the fallacy analysis should be given up. Further, it is argued that Wilson's arguments against the division of the fallacy into two types can be overcome by altering the (...) accounts he criticizes (David Sanford (1971, 1984, 1988) and John Biro (1977, 1984)): fallacy analysis should concentrate on externalized arguments, but this does not mean that either the epistemic attitude or the dependency conception should be given up. (shrink)
This is a comprehensive discussion of determinables, determinates, and their relation ('determination', for short), covering the historical development of these notions, the theoretical options for understanding them, and certain of their contemporary applications.
We evaluate the asymptotic performance of boundedly-rational strategies in multi-armed bandit problems, where performance is measured in terms of the tendency (in the limit) to play optimal actions in either (i) isolation or (ii) networks of other learners. We show that, for many strategies commonly employed in economics, psychology, and machine learning, performance in isolation and performance in networks are essentially unrelated. Our results suggest that the appropriateness of various, common boundedly-rational strategies depends crucially upon the social context (if any) (...) in which such strategies are to be employed. (shrink)
Epistemic decision theory (EDT) employs the mathematical tools of rational choice theory to justify epistemic norms, including probabilism, conditionalization, and the Principal Principle, among others. Practitioners of EDT endorse two theses: (1) epistemic value is distinct from subjective preference, and (2) belief and epistemic value can be numerically quantified. We argue the first thesis, which we call epistemic puritanism, undermines the second.
The primary outcome of natural selection is adaptation to an environment. The primary concern of epistemology is the acquistion of knowledge. Evolutionary epistemology must therefore draw a fundamental connection between adaptation and knowledge. Existing frameworks in evolutionary epistemology do this in two ways; (a) by treating adaptation as a form of knowledge, and (b) by treating the ability to acquire knowledge as a biologically evolved adaptation. I criticize both frameworks for failing to appreciate that mental representations can motivate behaviors that (...) are adaptive in the real world without themselves directly corresponding to the real world. I suggest a third framework in which mental representations are to reality as species are to ecosystems. This is a many-to-one relationship that predicts a diversity of adaptive representations in the minds of interacting people. As “species of thought”, mental representations share a number of properties with biological species, including isolating mechanisms that prevent them from blending with other representations. Species of thought also are amenable to the empirical methods that evolutionists use to study adaptation in biological species. Empirical studies of mental representations in everyday life might even be necessary for science to succeed as a normative “truth-seeking” discipline. (shrink)
Mark Wilson presents a highly original and broad-ranging investigation of the way we get to grips with the world conceptually, and the way that philosophical problems commonly arise from this. He combines traditional philosophical concerns about human conceptual thinking with illuminating data derived from a large variety of fields including physics and applied mathematics, cognitive psychology, and linguistics. Wandering Significance offers abundant new insights and perspectives for philosophers of language, mind, and science, and will also reward the interest of (...) psychologists, linguists, and anyone curious about the mysterious ways in which useful language obtains its practical applicability. (shrink)
This article explores what it means to flourish in and through education and why we should position such flourishing as an issue of morality. We draw on the capabilities approach advanced by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum and locate the argument in the practical context of higher education in unequal societies. We use qualitative data from year one of a three-year longitudinal study exploring student agency and well-being at a South African university to consider flourishing in and through education. Using (...) the CA concepts of well-being, agency, practical reason and affiliation, we argue that the CA provides a philosophical grounding that takes account of both personal and relational flourishing and morality. Flourishing in education requires consideration of the well-being and agency of students. Flourishing through education draws attention to the role of education in promoting well-being and flourishing beyond its walls by fostering a social and moral consciousness among students. (shrink)
A dynamical system is called chaotic if small changes to its initial conditions can create large changes in its behavior. By analogy, we call a dynamical system structurally chaotic if small changes to the equations describing the evolution of the system produce large changes in its behavior. Although there are many definitions of “chaos,” there are few mathematically precise candidate definitions of “structural chaos.” I propose a definition, and I explain two new theorems that show that a set of models (...) is structurally chaotic if it contains a chaotic function. I conclude by discussing the relationship between structural chaos and structural stability. (shrink)
McCawley supplements his earlier book—which covers such topics as presuppositional logic, the logic of mass terms and nonstandard quantifiers, and fuzzy logic—with new material on the logic of conditional sentences, linguistic applications of type theory, Anil Gupta's work on principles of identity, and the generalized quantifier approach to the logical properties of determiners.
Colleges are experiencing an increase in requests for Emotional Support Animals to live on campus. However, misconceptions about policies pertaining to ESAs are pervasive. No formal, published study has yet examined the opinions of those who are most impacted—faculty and students. In the present study, 45 faculty and 228 students were surveyed about their understanding of ESAs and ESA-related policies. Participants were asked about the perceived benefits and disadvantages of having an ESA at college. Results indicate that the majority of (...) faculty and students are supportive of ESAs on campus generally. However, opinions about permitting ESAs into academic spaces are considerably more mixed. Among both faculty and students, there is much confusion about the rules which govern their presence on campus. The survey also revealed support for increased accountability measures for ESAs in the form of training qualifications and welfare considerations. (shrink)