The criticisms of Falk et al. are addressed, and the question of whether claims made by Falk et al. are valid is revisited. This rebuttal contends that Falk et al. misconstrue Popper’s role in philosophy of science and hence do not provide a strong test of their hypothesis. Falk et al. claim that they never made causal statements about the impact of zoo and aquarium visits in their 2007 study. Yet, this commentary shows that Falk et al. draw several unsupported, (...) strong causal conclusions. The criticism that primary documents were not used in Marino et al. is also addressed, as this refutation demonstrates that the analysis was based on all available documents. Finally, this commentary aims, through its criticisms of Falk et al. , to catalyze better-quality research on the effects of zoo and aquarium visits. (shrink)
Moral diversity is a fundamental reality of today’s world, but moral theorists have difficulty responding to it. Some take it as evidence for skepticism – the view that there are no moral truths. Others, associating moral reasoning with the search for overarching principles and unifying values, see it as the result of error. In the former case, moral reasoning is useless, since values express individual preferences; in the latter, our reasoning process is dramatically at odds with our lived experience. Moral (...) Reasoning in a Pluralistic World takes a different approach, proposing an alternative way of thinking about moral reasoning and progress by showing how diversity and disagreement are compatible with theorizing and justification. Patricia Marino demonstrates that, instead of being evidence for skepticism and error, moral disagreements often arise because we value things pluralistically. This means that although people share multiple values such as fairness, honesty, loyalty, and benevolence, we interpret and prioritize those values in various ways. Given this pluralistic evaluation process, preferences for unified single-principle theories are not justified. Focusing on finding moral compromises, prioritizing conflicting values, and judging consistently from one case to another, Marino elaborates her ideas in terms of real-life dilemmas, arguing that the moral complexity and conflict we so often encounter can be part of fruitful and logical moral reflection. Aiming to draw new connections and bridge the gap between theoretical ethics and applied ethics, Moral Reasoning in a Pluralistic World offers a sophisticated set of philosophical arguments on moral reasoning and pluralism with real world applications. (shrink)
Theory change is a central concern in contemporary epistemology and philosophy of science. In this paper, we investigate the relationships between two ongoing research programs providing formal treatments of theory change: the (post-Popperian) approach to verisimilitude and the AGM theory of belief change. We show that appropriately construed accounts emerging from those two lines of epistemological research do yield convergences relative to a specified kind of theories, here labeled “conjunctive”. In this domain, a set of plausible conditions are identified which (...) demonstrably capture the verisimilitudinarian effectiveness of AGM belief change, i.e., its effectiveness in tracking truth approximation. We conclude by indicating some further developments and open issues arising from our results. (shrink)
We explore the grammar of Bayesian confirmation by focusing on some likelihood principles, including the Weak Law of Likelihood. We show that none of the likelihood principles proposed so far is satisfied by all incremental measures of confirmation, and we argue that some of these measures indeed obey new, prima facie strange, antilikelihood principles. To prove this, we introduce a new measure that violates the Weak Law of Likelihood while satisfying a strong antilikelihood condition. We conclude by hinting at some (...) relevant links between the likelihood principles considered here and other properties of Bayesian confirmation recently explored in the literature. (shrink)
Confirmation of a hypothesis by evidence can be measured by one of the so far known incremental measures of confirmation. As we show, incremental measures can be formally defined as the measures of confirmation satisfying a certain small set of basic conditions. Moreover, several kinds of incremental measure may be characterized on the basis of appropriate structural properties. In particular, we focus on the so-called Matthew properties: we introduce a family of six Matthew properties including the reverse Matthew effect; we (...) further prove that incremental measures endowed with reverse Matthew effect are possible; finally, we shortly consider the problem of the plausibility of Matthew properties. (shrink)
In this paper, we address the problem of truth approximation through theory change, asking whether revising our theories by newly acquired data leads us closer to the truth about a given domain. More particularly, we focus on “nomic conjunctive theories”, i.e., theories expressed as conjunctions of logically independent statements concerning the physical or, more generally, nomic possibilities and impossibilities of the domain under inquiry. We define both a comparative and a quantitative notion of the verisimilitude of such theories, and identify (...) suitable conditions concerning the (partial) correctness of acquired data, under which revising our theories by data leads us closer to “the nomic truth”, construed as the target of scientific inquiry. We conclude by indicating some further developments, generalizations, and open issues arising from our results. (shrink)
We provide a 'verisimilitudinarian' analysis of the well-known Linda paradox or conjunction fallacy, i.e., the fact that most people judge the probability of the conjunctive statement "Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement" (B & F) as more probable than the isolated statement "Linda is a bank teller" (B), contrary to an uncontroversial principle of probability theory. The basic idea is that experimental participants may judge B & F a better hypothesis about Linda as compared (...) to B because they evaluate B & F as more verisimilar than B. In fact, the hypothesis "feminist bank teller", while less likely to be true than "bank teller", may well be a better approximation to the truth about Linda. (shrink)
Is there anything irrational, or self-undermining, about having "inconsistent" attitudes of caring or valuing? In this paper, I argue that, contra suggestions of Harry Frankfurt and Charles Taylor, the answer is "No." Here I focus on "valuations," which are endorsed desires or attitudes. The proper characterization of what I call "valuational inconsistency" I claim, involves not logical form (valuing A and not-A), but rather the co-possibility of what is valued; valuations are inconsistent when there is no possible world in which (...) what is valued can co-exist. Essentially conflicting valuations, I show, are no worse for an agent than contingently conflicting ones, which are common and no threat to rationality or well-being. Partly based on reflections about a conflicted mother, who values staying at home and also having a career, I argue that valuational inconsistency does not render a person unable to act, does not make a person's actions ineffective because of vacillation, does not undermine a person's autonomy, and need not make a person dissatisfied with himself. I defend my characterization of inconsistency as an apt one; I offer some reasons to value inconsistency itself; and I draw out some implications for coherence thinking in moral philosophy. (shrink)
This paper is a critical discussion of Simon Blackburn’s recent work on lust. Blackburn develops a view on which lust is decent only when part of a pure mutuality in sex, and is best left alone—we ought not tamper with its “freedom of flow.” I argue that this treatment, which I believe reflects commonly held views, fails in several ways. First, it does not square with the fact that we pursue lust as a good in itself. Second, pure mutuality is (...) hard to come by and almost impossible to recognize, so Blackburn’s account is more restrictive than it may seem. Third, on such a view, masturbation is morally sanctioned only insofar as it mimics real sex; this doesn’t seem right. Finally, such a perspective fits ill with some recent research on the biology of lust in women. (shrink)
This is the introductory essay to the Italian translation of Matt Ridley's "The origins of virtue", surveying the game-theoretic and evolutionary approaches to the emergence and evolution of cooperation and altruism.
Epistemic limitations concerning prediction and explanation of the behaviour of robots that learn from experience are selectively examined by reference to machine learning methods and computational theories of supervised inductive learning. Moral responsibility and liability ascription problems concerning damages caused by learning robot actions are discussed in the light of these epistemic limitations. In shaping responsibility ascription policies one has to take into account the fact that robots and softbots - by combining learning with autonomy, pro-activity, reasoning, and planning - (...) can enter cognitive interactions that human beings have not experienced with any other non-human system. (shrink)
Ruth Marcus has offered an account of moral dilemmas in which the presence of dilemmas acts as a motivating force, pushing us to try to minimize predicaments of moral conflict. In this paper, I defend a Marcus-style account of dilemmas against two objections: first, that if dilemmas are real, we are forced to blame those who have done their best, and second, that in some cases, even a stripped down version of blame seems inappropriate. My account highlights the importance of (...) collective responsibility in understanding dilemmas, and I suggest that it sheds light on understanding moral progress. (shrink)
Theo AF Kuipers THE THREEFOLD EVALUATION OF THEORIES A SYNOPSIS OF FROM INSTRUMENTALISM TO CONSTRUCTIVE REALISM. ON SOME RELATIONS BETWEEN CONFIRMATION, EMPIRICAL PROGRESS, AND TRUTH APPROXIMATION (2000) ABSTRACT.
It is now a platitude that sexual objectification is wrong. As is often pointed out, however, some objectification seems morally permissible and even quite appealing—as when lovers are so inflamed by passion that they temporarily fail to attend to the complexity and humanity of their partners. Some, such as Nussbaum, have argued that what renders objectification benign is the right sort of relationship between the participants; symmetry, mutuality, and intimacy render objectification less troubling. On this line of thought, pornography, prostitution, (...) and some kinds of casual sex are inherently morally suspect. I argue against this view: what matters is simply respect for autonomy, and whether the objectification is consensual. Intimacy, I explain, can make objectification more morally worrisome rather than less, and symmetry and mutuality are not relevant. The proper political and social context, however, is crucial, since only in its presence can consent be genuine. I defend the consent account against the objection that there is something paradoxical in consenting to objectification, and I conclude that given the right background conditions, there is nothing wrong with anonymous, one-sided, or just-for-pleasure kinds of sexual objectification. (shrink)
The Linda paradox is a key topic in current debates on the rationality of human reasoning and its limitations. We present a novel analysis of this paradox, based on the notion of verisimilitude as studied in the philosophy of science. The comparison with an alternative analysis based on probabilistic confirmation suggests how to overcome some problems of our account by introducing an adequately defined notion of verisimilitudinarian confirmation.
On an expressivist view, ethical claims are understood as expressions of our attitudes, desires, and feelings. A famous puzzle for this view concerns the use of logic in ethical reasoning, and two standard treatments try to solve the puzzle by explaining logical inconsistency in terms of conflicting attitudes. I argue, however, that this general strategy fails: because we can reason effectively even in the presence of conflicting moral attitudes – in cases of moral dilemmas – avoiding these conflicts cannot be (...) a ground for correct moral reasoning. The result is a dilemma for expressivists: if they take all kinds of attitudes to be under consideration, then conflict cannot play the required role, since attitudes can fail to be compatible in cases of moral conflict. If they restrict attention to ‘all-in attitudes’ or to intentions or plans, then there is an important notion of obligation, used in standard arguments – one for which conflicts are allowed – that they fail to capture. I explain why expressivists should be especially tolerant of conflicting attitudes, and I conclude that they should pursue a different strategy for grounding logical normativity. (shrink)
Sex raises fundamental philosophical questions about topics such as personal identity and well-being, the relationship between emotion and reason, the nature of autonomy and consent, and the dual nature of persons as individuals but also social beings. This article serves as an overview of the philosophy of sex in the English-speaking philosophical tradition and explicates philosophical debate in several specific areas: sexual objectification, rape and consent, sex work, sexual identities and queer theory, the medicalization of sexuality, and polyamory. It situates (...) these topics in a framework of shifting cultural attitudes and argues for the importance of the philosophy of sex. It ends with some suggestions about future research, particularly with regard to the changing nature of pornography and sexual justice in legal theory. (shrink)
In this paper it is argued that qualitative theories (Q-theories) can be used to describe the statistical structure of cross classified populations and that the notion of verisimilitude provides an appropriate tool for measuring the statistical adequacy of Q-theories. First of all, a short outline of the post-Popperian approaches to verisimilitude and of the related verisimilitudinarian non-falsificationist methodologies (VNF-methodologies) is given. Secondly, the notion of Q-theory is explicated, and the qualitative verisimilitude of Q-theories is defined. Afterwards, appropriate measures for the (...) statistical verisimilitude of Q-theories are introduced, so to obtain a clear formulation of the intuitive idea that the statistical truth about cross classified populations can be approached by falsified Q-theories. Finally, it is argued that some basic intuitions underlying VNF-methodologies are shared by the so-called prediction logic, developed by the statisticians and social scientists David K. Hildebrand, James D. Laing and Howard Rosenthal. (shrink)
The import of computational learning theories and techniques on the ethics of human-robot interaction is explored in the context of recent developments of personal robotics. An epistemological reflection enables one to isolate a variety of background hypotheses that are needed to achieve successful learning from experience in autonomous personal robots. The conjectural character of these background hypotheses brings out theoretical and practical limitations in our ability to predict and control the behaviour of learning robots in their interactions with humans. Responsibility (...) ascription problems, which concern damages caused by learning robot actions, are analyzed in the light of these epistemic limitations. Finally, a broad framework is outlined for ethically motivated scientific inquiries, which aim at improving our capability to understand, anticipate, and selectively cope with harmful errors by learning robots. (shrink)
Modern-day zoos and aquariums market themselves as places of education and conservation. A recent study conducted by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association is being widely heralded as the first direct evidence that visits to zoos and aquariums produce long-term positive effects on people’s attitudes toward other animals. In this paper, we address whether this conclusion is warranted by analyzing the study’s methodological soundness. We conclude that Falk et al. contains at least six major threats to methodological validity that undermine (...) the authors’ conclusions. There remains no compelling evidence for the claim that zoos and aquariums promote attitude change, education, or interest in conservation in visitors, although further investigation of this possibility using methodologically sophisticated designs is warranted. (shrink)
An important problem in inductive probability theory is the design of exchangeable analogical methods, i.e., of exchangeable inductive methods that take into account certain considerations of analogy by similarity for predictive inferences. Here a precise reformulation of the problem of predictive analogy is given and a new family of exchangeable analogical methods is introduced.Firstly, it is proved that the exchangeable analogical method introduced by Skyrms (1993) does not satisfy the best known general principles of predictive analogy. Secondly, Skyrms's approach — (...) consisting of the usage of particular hyper-Carnapian methods, i.e., mixtures of Carnapian inductive methods — is adopted in the design of a new family of exchangeable analogical methods. Lastly, it is proved that such methods satisfy an interesting general principle of predictive analogy. (shrink)
On an expressivist view, ethical claims are not fact stating; instead they serve the alternative function of expressing our feelings, attitudes and values. On a deflationary view, truth is not a property with a nature to be analyzed, but merely a grammatical device to aid us in endorsing sentences. Views on the relationship between expressivism and deflationism vary widely: they are compatible; they are incompatible; they are a natural pair; they doom one another. Here I explain some of these views, (...) extract some necessary distinctions, and put these to use for understanding expressivism. I argue that contrary to the opinions of some, deflationism doesnt help with problems of objectivity, knowledge and reasoning in ethics. I suggest alternative expressivist treatments of these problems, and show how expressivism as a metaethical view must have consequences for our ethical lives and beliefs. In particular it must affect the way we deal with ethical consistencywhen norms or beliefs conflictand ethical incompletenesswhen ethical questions have no right answer. (shrink)
Each volume of this series of Companions to major philosophers contains specially-commissioned essays by an international team of scholars, together with a substantial bibliography, and will serve as a reference work for students and non-specialists. The contributors to this Companion probe the full depth of Kierkegaard's thought revealing its distinctive subtlety. The topics covered include Kierkegaard's views on art and religion, ethics and psychology, theology and politics, and knowledge and virtue. Much attention is devoted to the pervasive influence of Kierkegaard (...) in twentieth-century philosophy. New readers will find this the a convenient and accessible guide to Kierkegaard. Advanced students and specialists will find a conspectus of recent developments in the interpretation of Kierkegaard. (shrink)
This paper addresses the question of what value pluralism tells us about the pursuit of moral coherence as a method of moral reasoning. I focus on the status of the norm of ‘systematicity,’ or the demand that our principles be as few and as simple as possible. I argue that, given certain descriptive facts about the pluralistic ways we value, epistemic ways of supporting a systematicity norm do not succeed. Because it is sometimes suggested that coherence functions in moral reasoning (...) as it does in scientific reasoning, my argument considers analogies and disanalogies between moral reasoning and scientific reasoning. (shrink)
This paper concerns the normative status of coherence of desires, in the context of moral rationalism. I argue that 'desiderative coherence' is not tied to rationality, but is rather of pragmatic, instrumental, and sometimes moral value. This means that desire-based views cannot rely on coherence to support non-agent-relative accounts of moral reasons. For example, on Michael Smith's neo-rationalist view, you have 'normative reason' to do whatever your maximally coherent and fully informed self would want you to do, whether you want (...) to do it or not. For these reasons to be non-agent-relative, coherence would have to be grounded in rationality, but I argue that it is not. I analyze, and reject, various strategies for establishing a coherence-rationality connection, considering in detail a purported analogy between desires and a priori beliefs, with particular attention to the case of mathematics. (shrink)
Bayesian epistemology postulates a probabilistic analysis of many sorts of ordinary and scientific reasoning. Huber () has provided a novel criticism of Bayesianism, whose core argument involves a challenging issue: confirmation by uncertain evidence. In this paper, we argue that under a properly defined Bayesian account of confirmation by uncertain evidence, Huber's criticism fails. By contrast, our discussion will highlight what we take as some new and appealing features of Bayesian confirmation theory.
It is sometimes argued that having inconsistent desires is irrational or otherwise bad for an agent. If so, if agents seem to want a and not-a, then either their attitudes are being misdescribed – what they really want is some aspect x of a and some aspect y of not-a – or those desires are somehow 'inconsistent' and thus inappropriate. I argue first that the proper characterization of inconsistency here does not involve logical form, that is, whether the desires involved (...) have the form 'a and not-a', but rather the possibility of fulfilling all one's desires; and secondly, that the 'essential' conflicts involved in such inconsistencies are quite common and no worse for an agent than contingent conflicts. I draw implications concerning moral epistemology, moral realism and the logic of attitudes. (shrink)
In 2006, based on the advice of 50 international experts, the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society and the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology issued a consensus statement on the nomenclature and management of children who have a phenotype that is neither typical male nor female (Lee et al. 2006). Responding to a decade of criticism over the terminology that had been in place, including such terms as intersex, hermaphrodite, or pseudohermaphrodite, they proposed to call those conditions in which the patient (...) does not have the typical male or female gonads, chromosomes, or anatomy "disorders of sexual development."While this proposed change in nomenclature is helpful, in order to truly effect a .. (shrink)
The problem of distance from the truth, and more generally distance between hypotheses, is considered here with respect to the case of quantitative hypotheses concerning the value of a given scientific quantity.Our main goal consists in the explication of the concept of distance D(I, ) between an interval hypothesis I and a point hypothesis . In particular, we attempt to give an axiomatic foundation of this notion on the basis of a small number of adequacy conditions.
Correspondence theories are frequently charged with being either implausible—metaphysically troubling and overly general—or trivial—collapsing into deflationism's “‘P’ is true iff P.” Philip Kitcher argues for a “modest” correspondence theory, on which reference relations are causal relations, but there is no general theory of denotation. In this article, I start by showing that, understood this way, “modest” theories are open to charges of triviality. I then offer a refinement of modesty, and take the first steps toward articulating a modest correspondence theory, (...) giving a particular account of the relation between predicates, properties, and extensions. Finally, I argue that my account does not collapse into a deflationary one. (shrink)