Suppose that groups have reasons to act. Do the members of a group “inherit” the group’s reason? Alexander Dietz has recently argued that they do so in some circumstances. Dietz considers two principles. The first one – which I call the “Simple Principle” – claims that the members of a group always inherit the group’s reason. The second one – which I call “Dietz’s Principle,” which is the one Dietz advocates – claims that the members of a group inherit the (...) group’s reason when they cooperate. Although Dietz thinks that the Simple Principle is intuitively appealing he argues that it has to be rejected because it has – in contrast to his own principle – counterintuitive implications. In this article, I shall try to show that Dietz’s Principle also has counterintuitive implications. Furthermore, I shall consider some revisions of Dietz’s Principle, but conclude that they are unattractive. Finally, I shall suggest that Dietz’s Principle is ad hoc. (shrink)
The no-miracles argument and the pessimistic induction are arguably the main considerations for and against scientific realism. Recently these arguments have been accused of embodying a familiar, seductive fallacy. In each case, we are tricked by a base rate fallacy, one much-discussed in the psychological literature. In this paper we consider this accusation and use it as an explanation for why the two most prominent `wholesale' arguments in the literature seem irresolvable. Framed probabilistically, we can see very clearly why realists (...) and anti-realists have been talking past one another. We then formulate a dilemma for advocates of either argument, answer potential objections to our criticism, discuss what remains (if anything) of these two major arguments, and then speculate about a future philosophy of science freed from these two arguments. In so doing, we connect the point about base rates to the wholesale/retail distinction; we believe it hints at an answer of how to distinguish profitable from unprofitable realism debates. In short, we offer a probabilistic analysis of the feeling of ennui afflicting contemporary philosophy of science. (shrink)
Whistleblowing on organizational wrongdoing is becoming increasingly prevalent. What aspects of the person, the context, and the transgression relate to whistleblowing intentions and to actual whistleblowing on corporate wrongdoing? Which aspects relate to retaliation against whistleblowers? Can we draw conclusions about the whistleblowing process by assessing whistleblowing intentions? Meta-analytic examination of 193 correlations obtained from 26 samples (N = 18,781) reveals differences in the correlates of whistleblowing intentions and actions. Stronger relationships were found between personal, contextual, and wrongdoing characteristics and (...) whistleblowing intent than with actual whistleblowing. Retaliation might best be predicted using contextual variables. Implications for research and practice are discussed. (shrink)
Some scientific categories seem to correspond to genuine features of the world and are indispensable for successful science in some domain; in short, they are natural kinds. This book gives a general account of what it is to be a natural kind and puts the account to work illuminating numerous specific examples.
The Homeostatic Property Cluster (HPC) account of natural kinds has become popular since it was proposed by Richard Boyd in the late 1980s. Although it is often taken as a defining natural kinds as such, it is easy enough to see that something's being a natural kind is neither necessary nor sufficient for its being an HPC. This paper argues that it is better not to understand HPCs as defining what it is to be a natural kind but instead as (...) providing the ontological realization of (some) natural kinds. (shrink)
When we ask what natural kinds are, there are two different things we might have in mind. The first, which I’ll call the taxonomy question, is what distinguishes a category which is a natural kind from an arbitrary class. The second, which I’ll call the ontology question, is what manner of stuff there is that realizes the category. Many philosophers have systematically conflated the two questions. The confusion is exhibited both by essentialists and by philosophers who pose their accounts in (...) terms of similarity. It also leads to misreading philosophers who do make the distinction. Distinguishing the questions allows for a more subtle understanding of both natural kinds and their underlying metaphysics. (shrink)
Kyle Stanford has recently claimed to offer a new challenge to scientific realism. Taking his inspiration from the familiar Pessimistic Induction (PI), Stanford proposes a New Induction (NI). Contra Anjan Chakravartty’s suggestion that the NI is a ‘red herring’, I argue that it reveals something deep and important about science. The Problem of Unconceived Alternatives, which lies at the heart of the NI, yields a richer anti-realism than the PI. It explains why science falls short when it falls short, and (...) so it might figure in the most coherent account of scientific practice. However, this best account will be antirealist in some respects and about some theories. It will not be a sweeping antirealism about all or most of science. (shrink)
There are two senses of ‘what scientists know’: An individual sense (the separate opinions of individual scientists) and a collective sense (the state of the discipline). The latter is what matters for policy and planning, but it is not something that can be directly observed or reported. A function can be defined to map individual judgments onto an aggregate judgment. I argue that such a function cannot effectively capture community opinion, especially in cases that matter to us.
Homeostatic property clusters (HPCs) are offered as a way of understanding natural kinds, especially biological species. I review the HPC approach and then discuss an objection by Ereshefsky and Matthen, to the effect that an HPC qua cluster seems ill-fitted as a description of a polymorphic species. The standard response by champions of the HPC approach is to say that all members of a polymorphic species have things in common, namely dispositions or conditional properties. I argue that this response fails. (...) Instances of an HPC kind need not all be similar in their exhibited properties. Instead, HPCs should instead be understood as unified by the underlying causal mechanism that maintains them. The causal mechanism can both produce and explain some systematic differences between a kind’s members. An HPC kind is best understood not as a single cluster of properties maintained in stasis by causal forces, but as a complex of related property clusters kept in relation by an underlying causal process. This approach requires recognizing that taxonomic systems serve both explanatory and inductive purposes. (shrink)
forall x: Calgary is a full-featured textbook on formal logic. It covers key notions of logic such as consequence and validity of arguments, the syntax of truth-functional propositional logic TFL and truth-table semantics, the syntax of first-order (predicate) logic FOL with identity (first-order interpretations), translating (formalizing) English in TFL and FOL, and Fitch-style natural deduction proof systems for both TFL and FOL. It also deals with some advanced topics such as truth-functional completeness and modal logic. Exercises with solutions are available. (...) It is provided in PDF (for screen reading, printing, and a special version for dyslexics) and in LaTeX source code. (shrink)
The problem of underdetermination is thought to hold important lessons for philosophy of science. Yet, as Kyle Stanford has recently argued, typical treatments of it offer only restatements of familiar philosophical problems. Following suggestions in Duhem and Sklar, Stanford calls for a New Induction from the history of science. It will provide proof, he thinks, of "the kind of underdetermination that the history of science reveals to be a distinctive and genuine threat to even our best scientific theories" . This (...) paper examines Stanford's New Induction and argues that it -- like the other forms of underdetermination that he criticizes -- merely recapitulates familiar philosophical conundra. (shrink)
The accepted narrative treats John Stuart Mill’s Kinds as the historical prototype for our natural kinds, but Mill actually employs two separate notions: Kinds and natural groups. Considering these, along with the accounts of Mill’s nineteenth-century interlocutors, forces us to recognize two distinct questions. First, what marks a natural kind as worthy of inclusion in taxonomy? Second, what exists in the world that makes a category meet that criterion? Mill’s two notions offer separate answers to the two questions: natural groups (...) for taxonomy and Kinds for ontology. This distinction is ignored in many contemporary debates about natural kinds and is obscured by the standard narrative that treats our natural kinds just as a development of Mill’s Kinds. (shrink)
This collection of essays fairly exhibits the diversity of opinions about and approaches to the study of Nietzsche within the contemporary academy’s influential and far flung Nietzsche establishment. Notwithstanding the absence of feminist interpretations of Nietzsche and despite the omission of chapters that take seriously Nietzsche’s debt to the ancients, critique of the spirit of democracy, defense of a rank order of desires and souls, recurring articulations of an aristocratic politics, attack on the morally and politically debilitating effects of professional (...) scholarship, and persistent celebration of the philosopher as the highest human type, this book will prove useful to amateurs and professionals alike. (shrink)
The underdetermination of theory by evidence is supposed to be a reason to rethink science. It is not. Many authors claim that underdetermination has momentous consequences for the status of scientific claims, but such claims are hidden in an umbra of obscurity and a penumbra of equivocation. So many various phenomena pass for `underdetermination' that it's tempting to think that it is no unified phenomenon at all, so I begin by providing a framework within which all these worries can be (...) seen as species of one genus: A claim of underdetermination involves (at least implicitly) a set of rival theories, a standard of responsible judgment, and a scope of circumstances in which responsible choice between the rivals is impossible. Within this framework, I show that one variety of underdetermination motivated modern scepticism and thus is a familiar problem at the heart of epistemology. I survey arguments that infer from underdetermination to some reëvaluation of science: top-down arguments infer a priori from the ubiquity of underdetermination to some conclusion about science; bottom-up arguments infer from specific instances of underdetermination, to the claim that underdetermination is widespread, and then to some conclusion about science. The top-down arguments either fail to deliver underdetermination of any great significance or (as with modern scepticism) deliver some well-worn epistemic concern. The bottom-up arguments must rely on cases. I consider several promising cases and find them to either be so specialized that they cannot underwrite conclusions about science in general or not be underdetermined at all. Neither top-down nor bottom-up arguments can motivate any deep reconsideration of science. (shrink)
It is now commonly held that values play a role in scientific judgment, but many arguments for that conclusion are limited. First, many arguments do not show that values are, strictly speaking, indispensable. The role of values could in principle be filled by a random or arbitrary decision. Second, many arguments concern scientific theories and concepts which have obvious practical consequences, thus suggesting or at least leaving open the possibility that abstruse sciences without such a connection could be value-free. Third, (...) many arguments concern the role values play in inferring from evidence, thus taking evidence as given. This paper argues that these limitations do not hold in general. There are values involved in every scientific judgment. They cannot even conceivably be replaced by a coin toss, they arise as much for exotic as for practical sciences, and they are at issue as much for observation as for explicit inference. (shrink)
Given the fact that many people use Wikipedia, we should ask: Can we trust it? The empirical evidence suggests that Wikipedia articles are sometimes quite good but that they vary a great deal. As such, it is wrong to ask for a monolithic verdict on Wikipedia. Interacting with Wikipedia involves assessing where it is likely to be reliable and where not. I identify five strategies that we use to assess claims from other sources and argue that, to a greater of (...) lesser degree, Wikipedia frustrates all of them. Interacting responsibly with something like Wikipedia requires new epistemic methods and strategies. (shrink)
In aggressive interactions, animals often use a discrete set of signals, while the properties being signalled are likely to be continuous, for example fighting ability or value of victory. Here we investigate a particular model of fighting which allows for conventional signalling of subjective resource value to occur. The result shows that neither perfect nor no signalling are evolutionarily stable strategies in the model. Instead, we find ESSs in which partial information is communicated, with discrete displays signalling a range of (...) values rather than a precise one. The result also indicates that communication should be more precise in conflicts over small resources. Signalling strategies can exist in fighting because of the common interest in avoiding injuries, but communication is likely to be limited because of the fundamental conflict over the resource. Our results reflect a compromise between these two factors. Data allowing for a thorough test of the model are lacking; however, existing data seem consistent with the obtained theoretical results. (shrink)
In this editorial preface, the editors briefly introduce the reasoning for publishing a volume on Karl Marx and situates it within the ongoing boom in Marx and Marxist scholarship. A brief biographical sketch of Marx is also provided as well as a description of the content of the volume.
Do we violate human rights when we cooperate with and impose a global institutional order that engenders extreme poverty? Thomas Pogge argues that by shaping and enforcing the social conditions that foreseeably and avoidably cause global poverty we are violating the negative duty not to cooperate in the imposition of a coercive institutional order that avoidably leaves human rights unfulfilled. This article argues that Pogge's argument fails to distinguish between harms caused by the global institutions themselves and harms caused by (...) the domestic policies of particular states and collective action problems for which collective responsibility cannot be assigned. The article also argues that his position relies on questionable factual and theoretical claims about the impact of global institutions on poverty, and about the benefits and harms of certain features of these institutions. Participation in, and benefit from, global institutions is unlikely to constitute a violation of our negative duties towards the poor. Key Words: justice international regimes institutions human rights trade. (shrink)
This paper offers a general characterization of underdetermination and gives a prima facie case for the underdetermination of the topology of the universe. A survey of several philosophical approaches to the problem fails to resolve the issue: the case involves the possibility of massive reduplication, but Strawson on massive reduplication provides no help here; it is not obvious that any of the rival theories are to be preferred on grounds of simplicity; and the usual talk of empirically equivalent theories misses (...) the point entirely. (If the choice is underdetermined, then the theories are not empirically equivalent!) Yet the thought experiment is analogous to a live scientific possibility, and actual astronomy faces underdetermination of this kind. This paper concludes by suggesting how the matter can be resolved, either by localizing the underdetermination or by defeating it entirely. Introduction A brief preliminary Around the universe in 80 days Some attempts at resolving the problem 4.1 Indexicality 4.2 Simplicity 4.3 Empirical equivalence 4.4 Is this just a philosophers' fantasy? Move along... ...nothing to see here 6.1 Rules of repetition 6.2 Some possible replies Conclusion. (shrink)
The virtue of humility is often considered to be at odds with common business practice. In recent years, however, scholars within business ethics and leadership have shown an increasing interest in humility. Despite such attention, the argument for the relevance of humility in business could be expanded. Unlike extant research that focuses on humility as a character-building virtue or instrumentally useful leadership trait, this article argues that humility reflects the interdependent nature of business. Through such an approach, the article gives (...) an extrinsic motivation of the relevance of humility in business, and, from a theoretical point of view, links the intra-personal and intra-organizational perspective on humility to an inter-organizational one. The article contextualizes the virtue of humility by relating it to the economic, cognitive, and moral aspects of business practice and managerial work. It claims that the assumption of self-sufficiency in business is a grave misrepresentation of what business is—a practice characterized by interdependency. Potential links between virtue ethics, leadership, and contextually oriented theories of business, such as stakeholder theory, network theories, and resource dependence theory, are also identified. (shrink)
According to the standard narrative, natural kind is a technical notion that was introduced by John Stuart Mill in the 1840s and the recent craze for natural kinds, launched by Putnam and Kripke, is a continuation of that tradition. I argue that the standard narrative is mistaken. The Millian tradition of kinds was not particularly influential in the 20th-century, and the Putnam-Kripke revolution did not clearly engage with even the remnants that were left of it. The presently active tradition of (...) natural kinds is less than half a century old. Recognizing this might help us better appreciate both Mill and natural kinds. (shrink)
In this article, interviewing from a descriptive, phenomenological, human scientific perspective is examined. Methodological issues are raised in relation to evaluative criteria as well as reflective matters that concern the phenomenological researcher. The data collection issues covered are 1) the selection of participants, 2) the number of participants in a study, 3) the interviewer and the questions, and 4) data collection procedures. Certain conclusions were drawn indicating that phenomenological research methods cannot be evaluated on the basis of an empiricist theory (...) of science, but must be critiqued from within a phenomenological theory of science. Some reflective matters, experienced by the phenomenological researcher, are also elaborated upon. (shrink)
Cover versions form a loose but identifiable category of tracks and performances. We distinguish four kinds of covers and argue that they mark important differences in the modes of evaluation that are possible or appropriate for each: mimic covers, which aim merely to echo the canonical track; rendition covers, which change the sound of the canonical track; transformative covers, which diverge so much as to instantiate a distinct, albeit derivative song; and referential covers, which not only instantiate a distinct song, (...) but for which the new song is in part about the original song. In order to allow for the very possibility of transformative and referential covers, we argue that a cover is characterized by relation to a canonical track rather than merely by being a new instance of a song that had been recorded previously. (shrink)
The transportation and translocation of species beyond their natural habitats is considered to be one of the major causes of biodiversity loss these days. Concerns are growing also about urbanization and the resulting destruction of natural habitats. At the same time, the integration of urban environments into nature protection efforts has brought along the intent to apply the ecological alien species paradigm in cities. Yet, as the practices of urban landscaping demonstrate, this objective has not been achieved. In this article, (...) we propose that the reasons behind it are largely related to the specifics of the city as a semiotic system. Multiplicity of codes and subjects of various origins is contested by the ecological alien species paradigm, yet characteristic of the urban semiotic environment. The city often serves the function of a cultural model, embodying the principles of setting the borders between Self and the Other. Also in this case, the ecological alien species paradigm has to face a different complex of meanings attributed to the Other. We demonstrate how two different models of the city are expressed in the interpretations of alien trees by using pyramid oaks and poplars in Estonia as an example. (shrink)
There are many kinds of clinical trials. The regulatory framework within which most drug development takes place appears to be the one that is to be applied to the development of novel stem cell-based clinical trials. In the standard drug development model, appropriate pre-clinical research is conducted, and investigators or research sponsors submit an investigational new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration.If approved, typical clinical trials start with Phase I, which is usually a trial to determine the maximum (...) tolerable dose of a drug. Phase I trials are often referred to as “safety studies” because the primary goal of Phase I research is to determine if an intervention is safe. (shrink)
In late 2014, the jazz combo Mostly Other People Do the Killing released Blue—an album that is a note-for-note remake of Miles Davis's 1959 landmark album Kind of Blue. This is a thought experiment made concrete, raising metaphysical puzzles familiar from discussion of indiscernible counterparts. It is an actual album, rather than merely a concept, and so poses the aesthetic puzzle of why one would ever actually listen to it.
Philip Kitcher develops the Galilean Strategy to defend realism against its many opponents. I explore the structure of the Galilean Strategy and consider it specifically as an instrument against constructive empiricism. Kitcher claims that the Galilean Strategy underwrites an inference from success to truth. We should resist that conclusion, I argue, but the Galilean Strategy should lead us by other routes to believe in many things about which the empiricist would rather remain agnostic. 1 Target: empiricism 2 The Galilean Strategy (...) 3 Strengthening the argument 4 Success and truth 5 Conclusion. (shrink)
According to many philosophers, psychological explanation canlegitimately be given in terms of belief and desire, but not in termsof knowledge. To explain why someone does what they do (so the common wisdom holds) you can appeal to what they think or what they want, but not what they know. Timothy Williamson has recently argued against this view. Knowledge, Williamson insists, plays an essential role in ordinary psychological explanation.Williamson's argument works on two fronts.First, he argues against the claim that, unlike knowledge, (...) belief is``composite'' (representable as a conjunction of a narrow and a broadcondition). Belief's failure to be composite, Williamson thinks, undermines the usual motivations for psychological explanation in terms of belief rather than knowledge.Unfortunately, we claim, the motivations Williamson argues against donot depend on the claim that belief is composite, so what he saysleaves the case for a psychology of belief unscathed.Second, Williamson argues that knowledge can sometimes provide abetter explanation of action than belief can.We argue that, in the cases considered, explanations that cite beliefs(but not knowledge) are no less successful than explanations that citeknowledge. Thus, we conclude that Williamson's arguments fail both coming andgoing: they fail to undermine a psychology of belief, and they fail tomotivate a psychology of knowledge. (shrink)
Corporate responsibility (CR) communication has risen dramatically in recent years, following increased demands for transparency. One tendency noted in the literature is that CR communication is organised and structured. Corporations tend to professionalise CR communication in the sense that they provide information that corresponds to demands for transparency that are voiced by certain stakeholders. This also means that experts within the firm tend to communicate with professional stakeholders outside the firm. In this article, a particular aspect of the organisation of (...) CR communication is examined, a phenomenon that we refer to as the ' filtration effect'. By comparing CR communication in parent companies and their subsidiaries, we show empirically that there is considerably less CR communication on the subsidiary level compared to the parent level. We see filtration as a sign of conscious organising of CR communication that implies particular attention to certain stakeholder groups with clearly defined demands and expectations on companies. The strong filtration effect noted in the study suggests that CR communication does not seem to be very much adapted to customers, which may be problematic both from a communicative and ethical perspective. The study covers Sweden's 206 largest retail firms. (shrink)
There are two ways that we might respond to the underdetermination of theory by data. One response, which we can call the agnostic response, is to suspend judgment: "Where scientific standards cannot guide us, we should believe nothing". Another response, which we can call the fideist response, is to believe whatever we would like to believe: "If science cannot speak to the question, then we may believe anything without science ever contradicting us". C.S. Peirce recognized these options and suggested evading (...) the dilemma. It is a Logical Maxim, he suggests, that there could be no genuine underdetermination. This is no longer a viable option in the wake of developments in modern physics, so we must face the dilemma head on. The agnostic and fideist responses to underdetermination represent fundamentally different epistemic viewpoints. Nevertheless, the choice between them is not an unresolvable struggle between incommensurable worldviews. There are legitimate considerations tugging in each direction. Given the balance of these considerations, there should be a modest presumption of agnosticism. This may conflict with Peirce's Logical Maxim, but it preserves all that we can preserve of the Peircean motivation. (shrink)
If two theory formulations are merely different expressions of the same theory, then any problem of choosing between them cannot be due to the underdetermination of theories by data. So one might suspect that we need to be able to tell distinct theories from mere alternate formulations before we can say anything substantive about underdetermination, that we need to solve the problem of identical rivals before addressing the problem of underdetermination. Here I consider two possible solutions: Quine proposes that we (...) call two theories identical if they are equivalent under a reconstrual of predicates, but this would mishandle important cases. Another proposal is to defer to the particular judgements of actual scientists. Consideration of an historical episodethe alleged equivalence of wave and matrix mechanicsshows that this second proposal also fails. Nevertheless, I suggest, the original suspicion is wrong; there are ways to enquire into underdetermination without having solved the problem of identical rivals. (shrink)
Judith Butler's Kritik der ethischen Gewalt represents a significant refinement of her position on the relationship between the construction of the subject and her social subjection. While Butler's earlier texts reflect a somewhat restricted notion of agency, her Adorno Lectures formulate a notion of agency that extends beyond mere resistance. This essay traces the development of Butler's account of agency and evaluates it in light of feminist projects of social transformation.
In recent years, much work has been done on the role of images in Hobbes. But there is an unsolved riddle with regard to the famous frontispiece of Leviathan (1651). Why is there nothing monstrous in the sovereign body depicted, despite the fact that it is named for a Biblical sea monster? In this article it is argued that there is a monster just barely hidden in the image and that the iconographical tradition helps us rediscover this creature. We argue (...) that this monstrosity serves a theoretical and political purpose pertaining to fear and imagery within Hobbes’s overall project and in the political context of his time. Moreover, we argue that the discovery of the hitherto unknown monster should make political theory and intellectual history sensitive to the role played by physical images in Hobbes as well as in political thought at large. (shrink)
Peter Baumann offers the tantalizing suggestion that Thomas Reid is almost, but not quite, a pragmatist. He motivates this claim by posing a dilemma for common sense philosophy: Will it be dogmatism or scepticism? Baumann claims that Reid points to but does not embrace a pragmatist third way between these unsavory options. If we understand `pragmatism' differently than Baumann does, however, we need not be so equivocal in attributing it to Reid. Reid makes what we could call an argument from (...) practical commitment, and this is plausibly an instance of what William James calls the pragmatic method. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore and defend the idea that musical works are historical individuals. Guy Rohrbaugh (2003) proposes this for works of art in general. Julian Dodd (2007) objects that the whole idea is outré metaphysics, that it is too far beyond the pale to be taken seriously. Their disagreement could be seen as a skirmish in the broader war between revisionists and reactionaries, a conflict about which of metaphysics and art should trump the other when there is a (...) conflict. That dispute is a matter of philosophical methodology as much as it is a dispute about art. I argue that the ontology of works as individuals need not be dunked in that morass. My primary strategy is to show, contra Dodd's accusation, that historical individuals are familiar parts of the world. Although the ontological details are open to debate, it is the standard opinion of biologists is that biological species are historical individuals. So there is no conflict here between fidelity to art and respectable metaphysics. What suits species will fit musical work as well. (shrink)
Based on interviews with guide dog users from Sweden, Estonia and Germany and participatory observation of the teams’ work, the article discusses three kinds of semiotic challenges encountered by the guide dog teams: perceptual, sociocultural and communicative challenges. Perceptual challenges stem from a mismatch between affordances of the urban environment and perceptual and motoric abilities of the team. Sociocultural challenges pertain to the conflicting meanings that are attributed to dogs in different social contexts and to incompatible social norms. Challenges related (...) to intrateam communication and interpretation of the other counterpart’s behavior are mostly tied to the difficulties of placing the other’s activities in the right context. Germany, Estonia and Sweden differ in their history of guide dog institutions and the organisation of guide dog work, but the challenges of the guide dog users appear to be fairly similar. However, differences appear in the stress laid on one or another type of challenge as well as in the explanations provided by the informants for the background of the challenges. The challenges, as analysed in the article, reflect not only the existing problems of guide dog users, but also their expectations for a social and physical environment, in which the teams would feel welcome. (shrink)
It seems obvious that a community of one thousand scientists working together to make discoveries and solve puzzles should arrange itself differently than would one thousand scientist-hermits working independently. Because of limited time, resources, and attention, an independent scientist can explore only some of the possible approaches to a problem. Working alone, each hermit would explore the most promising approaches. They would needlessly duplicate the work of others and would be unlikely to develop approaches which look unpromising but really have (...) tremendous potential. Contrariwise, a large community can more rigorously explore the space of possible approaches. Most scientists should work on the most promising approaches, but a smaller number can be committed to approaches that initially look less promising. Exploratory work can reveal if one of those initially unpromising approaches has unrealized potential, and more scientists can adopt it once its potential becomes more apparent. (shrink)
Background theories in science are used both to prove and to disprove that theory choice is underdetermined by data. The alleged proof appeals to the fact that experiments to decide between theories typically require auxiliary assumptions from other theories. If this generates a kind of underdetermination, it shows that standards of scientific inference are fallible and must be appropriately contextualized. The alleged disproof appeals to the possibility of suitable background theories to show that no theory choice can be timelessly or (...) noncontextually underdetermined: Foreground theories might be distinguished against different backgrounds. Philosophers have often replied to such a disproof by focussing their attention not on theories but on Total Sciences. If empirically equivalent Total Sciences were at stake, then there would be no background against which they could be differentiated. I offer several reasons to think that Total Science is a philosophers' fiction. No respectable underdetermination can be based on it. (shrink)
Thomas Reid is often misread as defending common sense, if at all, only by relying on illicit premises about God or our natural faculties. On these theological or reliabilist misreadings, Reid makes common sense assertions where he cannot give arguments. This paper attempts to untangle Reid's defense of common sense by distinguishing four arguments: (a) the argument from madness, (b) the argument from natural faculties, (c) the argument from impotence, and (d) the argument from practical commitment. Of these, (a) and (...) (c) do rely on problematic premises that are no more secure than claims of common sense itself. Yet (b) and (d) do not. This conclusion can be established directly by considering the arguments informally, but one might still worry that there is an implicit premise in them. In order to address this concern, I reconstruct the arguments in the framework of subjective Bayesianism. The worry becomes this: Do the arguments rely on specific values for the prior probability of some premises? Reid's appeals to our prior cognitive and practical commitments do not. Rather than relying on specific probability assignments, they draw on things that are part of the Bayesian framework itself, such as the nature of observation and the connection between belief and action. Contra the theological or reliabilist readings, the defense of common sense does not require indefensible premises. (shrink)