McDowell recently renounced the assumption that the content of any knowledgeable, perceptual judgement must be included in the content of the knowledge grounding experience. We argue that McDowell’s introduction of a new category of non-inferential, perceptual knowledge is incompatible with the main line of argument in favour of conceptualism as presented in Mind and World [McDowell, John. 1996. Mind and World. 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press]. We reconstruct the original line of argument and show that it rests on (...) the assumption that a specific model of justification, the Comparison Model, must apply to all cases of non-inferential, perceptual knowledge. We then show that the Comparison Model cannot be applied to McDowell’s new category of non-inferential, perceptual knowledge. As a consequence, McDowell is in need of an alternative model of justification and an alternative argument for conceptualism. We propose such an alternative model of justification based on McDowell’s reading of Sellars, but argue that the model only serves to make the need for an alternative motivation for conceptualism more urgent. (shrink)
Carleton B. Christensen, Self and World: From Analytic Philosophy to Phenomenology Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s10743-010-9078-2 Authors Morten S. Thaning, Department of Philosophy, Politics, and Management, Copenhagen Business School, Solbjerg Plads 3, 2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark Journal Husserl Studies Online ISSN 1572-8501 Print ISSN 0167-9848 Journal Volume Volume 26 Journal Issue Volume 26, Number 3.
Authority qua empowerment is the weak reading of authority in Hans Kelsen's writings. On the one hand, this reading appears to be unresponsive to the problem of authority as we know it from the tradition. On the other hand, it squares with legal positivism. Is Kelsen a legal positivist?Not without qualification. For he defends a normativity thesis along with the separation thesis, and it is at any rate arguable that the normativity thesis mandates a stronger reading of authority than that (...) modelled on empowerment. I offer, in the paper, a prima facie case on behalf of a stronger reading of authority in Kelsen. I go on to argue, however, that the textual evidence weighs heavily in favour of the weak reading. Both nomostatics and nomodynamics are pervasive points of view in the Pure Theory of Law, and both reflect species of empowerment as the endpoint of Kelsen's reconstructions. (shrink)
Published within weeks of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, Isabelle Duncan's Pre-Adamite Man (1860) is the first full-length treatment of preadamism by an evangelical. Intended as a reconciliation of Genesis and geology, Duncan's work gained immediacy when it was published shortly after the September 1859 revelations that men had walked among the mammoths. Written in the tradition of evangelical 'Christian philosophy', Pre-Adamite Man deploys innovative biblical hermeneutics and recent trends in geology to set out both a biblical preadamite theory, and (...) an unorthodox angelology. Duncan responded to contemporary secular interpretations of geology by pushing evangelical concordist strategies to new frontiers, filling out an acceptance of an ancient earth with new biblically informed catastrophist proposals and extensions of salvation history, while simultaneously retaining a firm commitment to plenary inspiration. The product is a highly readable book that operates both as an accessible treatment of geology and a theological discourse. Running through six printings between 1860 and 1866, the book was reviewed by many of the period's leading journals and created a minor controversy among evangelicals. This study both brings to life this previously neglected episode in scriptural geology, and adds to recent work on Victorian popular science writing. (shrink)
There is a simple technique, due to Dragalin, for proving strong cut-elimination for intuitionistic sequent calculus, but the technique is constrained to certain choices of reduction rules, preventing equally natural alternatives. We consider such a natural, alternative set of reduction rules and show that the classical technique is inapplicable. Instead we develop another approach combining two of our favorite tools—Klop’s ι-translation and perpetual reductions. These tools are of independent interest and have proved useful in a variety of settings; it is (...) therefore natural to investigate, as we do here, what they have to offer the field of sequent calculus. (shrink)
There is a simple technique, due to Dragalin, for proving strong cut-elimination for intuitionistic sequent calculus, but the technique is constrained to certain choices of reduction rules, preventing equally natural alternatives. We consider such a natural, alternative set of reduction rules and show that the classical technique is inapplicable. Instead we develop another approach combining two of our favorite tools—Klop's l-translation and perpetual reductions. These tools are of independent interest and have proved useful in a variety of settings; it is (...) therefore natural to investigate, as we do here, what they have to offer the field of sequent calculus. (shrink)
Uexküll’s 1917 critique of what he calls the “English morality”, written during World War I, points the contemporary reader toward important implications of the translation of descriptive scientific models to normative ethical theories. A key figure motivating biosemiotics, Uexküll presents here a darker side: one where his Umwelt theory seems to motivate a bio-cultural hierarchy of value and worth, where some human beings are worth more than others precisely because of the constraints of their Umwelten. The first English translation of (...) this essay, introduced here, gives scholars access to Uexküll’s lines of thought, historical context, and normative interpretations. It is particularly pertinent for contemporary attempts to develop a biosemiotic ethics based, among other things, on the Umwelt theory. (shrink)
By way of a case story, two common presuppositions in the academic debate on conscientious objection in healthcare are challenged. First, the debate typically presupposes a sharp division between conscience-based refusals based on personal core moral beliefs and refusals based on professional reasons. Only the former might involve the moral gravity to warrant accommodation. The case story challenges this division, and it is argued that just as much might sometimes be at stake morally in refusals based on professional reasons. The (...) objector's moral integrity might be equally threatened in objections based on professional reasons as in objections based on personal beliefs. Second, the literature on conscientious objection typically presupposes that conflicts of conscience pertain to well-circumscribed and typical situations which can be identified as controversial without attention to individualising features of the concrete situation. However, the case shows that conflicts of conscience can sometimes be more particular, born from concrete features of the actual situation, and difficult, if not impossible, to predict before they arise. Guidelines should be updated to address such ‘situation-based’ conscientious refusals explicitly. (shrink)
Conscientious objection has spurred impassioned debate in many Western countries. Some Norwegian general practitioners (GPs) refuse to refer for abortion. Little is know about how the GPs carry out their refusals in practice, how they perceive their refusal to fit with their role as professionals, and how refusals impact patients. Empirical data can inform subsequent normative analysis.
We agree with Caplan & Waters that there are problems with the single-resource theory of sentence comprehension. However, we challenge their dual-resource alternative on theoretical and empirical grounds and point to a more coherent solution that abandons the notion of working memory resources.
: C. S. Peirce had no theory of metaphor and provided only few remarks concerning the trope. Yet, some of these remarks seem to suggest that Peirce saw metaphor as fundamental to consciousness and thought. In this article we sketch a possible connection between metaphor and cognition; we understand Peircean metaphor as rooted in abduction; it is part of an intricate relation between experience, body, sign and guessing instinct as a semeiotic mechanism which can convey new insights.
This essay – a collection of contributions from 10 scholars working in the field of biosemiotics and the humanities – considers nature in culture. It frames this by asking the question ‘Why does biosemiotics need the humanities?’. Each author writes from the background of their own disciplinary perspective in order to throw light upon their interdisciplinary engagement with biosemiotics. We start with Donald Favareau, whose originary disciplinary home is ethnomethodology and linguistics, and then move on to Paul Cobley’s contribution on (...) general semiotics and Kalevi Kull’s on biosemiotics. This is followed by Cobley with Frederick Stjernfelt who contribute on biosemiotics and learning, then Gerald Ostdiek from philosophy, and Morten Tønnessen focusing upon ethics in particular. Myrdene Anderson writes from anthropology, while Timo Maran and Louise Westling provide a view from literary study. The essay closes with Wendy Wheeler reflecting on the movement of biosemiotics as a challenge, often via the ecological humanities, to the kind of so-called ‘postmodern’ thinking that has dominated humanities critical thought in the universities for the past 40 years. Virtually all the matters gestured to in outline above are discussed in much more satisfying detail in the topics which follow. (shrink)
The Duhem?Quine thesis asserts that any empirical evaluation of a theory is in fact a composite test of several interconnected hypotheses. Recalcitrant evidence signals falsity within the conjunction of hypotheses, but logic alone cannot pinpoint the individual element(s) inside the theoretical cluster responsible for a false prediction. This paper considers the relevance of the Duhem?Quine thesis for experimental economics. A starting point is to detail how laboratory evaluations of economic hypotheses constitute composite tests. Another aim is to scrutinize the strategy (...) of conducting a series of experiments in order to hem in the source(s) of disconfirmative evidence. A Bayesian approach is employed to argue that reproducing experiments may be useful in terms of identifying plausible causes of recalcitrant data. (shrink)
Some commentators have condemned Kant’s moral project from a feminist perspective based on Kant’s apparently dim view of women as being innately morally deﬁcient. Here I will argue that although his remarks concerning women are unsettling at ﬁrst glance, a more detailed and closer examination shows that Kant’s view of women is actually far more complex and less unsettling than that attributed to him by various feminist critics. My argument, then, undercuts the justiﬁcation for the severe feminist critique of Kant’s (...) moral project. (shrink)
We make the case that the Prisoner’s Dilemma, notwithstanding its fame and the quantity of intellectual resources devoted to it, has largely failed to explain any phenomena of social scientific or biological interest. In the heart of the paper we examine in detail a famous purported example of Prisoner’s Dilemma empirical success, namely Axelrod’s analysis of WWI trench warfare, and argue that this success is greatly overstated. Further, we explain why this negative verdict is likely true generally and not just (...) in our case study. We also address some possible defenses of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. (shrink)
This article presents an overview of the current debate on Kant's doctrine of idealism, focussing on the metaphysical interpretations of Ameriks, Allais, Friebe, Langton, Van Cleve and Westphal, and also on Guyer's recent reassessment of Allison's latest views.
Judith Jarvis Thomson's Loop Case is particularly significant in normative ethics because it questions the validity of the intuitively plausible Doctrine of Double Effect, according to which there is a significant difference between harm that is intended and harm that is merely foreseen and not intended. Recently, Frances Kamm has argued that what she calls the Doctrine of Triple Effect, which draws a distinction between acting because-of and acting in-order-to, can account for our judgment about the Loop Case. In this (...) paper, I first argue that even if the distinction drawn by DTE can be sustained, it does not seem to apply to the Loop Case. Moreover, I question whether this distinction has any normative significance. The upshot is that I am skeptical that DTE can explain our judgment about the Loop Case. (shrink)
The article uses Zeno’s metrical paradox of extension, or Zeno’s fundamental paradox, as a thought-model for the mind-body problem. With the help of this model, the distinction contained between mental and physical phenomena can be formulated as sharply as possible. I formulate Zeno’s fundamental paradox and give a sketch of four different solutions to it. Then I construct a mind-body paradox corresponding to the fundamental paradox. Through that, it becomes possible to copy the solutions to the fundamental paradox on the (...) mind-body paradox. Three of them fail. But one of them – the Aristotelian one – gives us an interesting hint. Finally, this hint is pursued somewhat further and through comparison with Zeno’s fundamental paradox, the impossibility of a solution to the mind-body problem is shown again. The main new point of this article is the comparison of the mind-body problem with Zeno’s fundamental paradox. The article is a revised version of an article published in: Méthexis, Revista Internacional de Filosofia Antigua/International Journal for Ancient Philosophy, 13, 2000, 139-151. (shrink)
Fifty years after the publication of Bell's theorem, there remains some controversy regarding what the theorem is telling us about quantum mechanics, and what the experimental violations of Bell inequalities are telling us about the world. This chapter represents my best attempt to be clear about what I think the lessons are. In brief: there is some sort of nonlocality inherent in any quantum theory, and, moreover, in any theory that reproduces, even approximately, the quantum probabilities for the outcomes of (...) experiments. But not all forms of nonlocality are the same; there is a distinction to be made between action at a distance and other forms of nonlocality, and I will argue that the nonlocality required to violate the Bell inequalities need not involve action at a distance. Furthermore, the distinction between forms of nonlocality makes a difference when it comes to compatibility with relativistic causal structure. (shrink)
This work runs counter to the traditional interpretations of Peirce's philosophy by eliciting an inherent strand of pragmatic pluralism that is embedded in the very core of his thought and that weaves his various doctrines into a systematic ...
A surprising fact in the historiography of the Hispanic philosophy of this century is its almost total opacity towards the American philosophy, in spite of the real affinity between the central questions of American pragmatism and the topics addressed by the most relevant Hispanic thinkers of the century: Unamuno, Ortega y Gasset, d'Ors, Vaz Ferreira. In this paper that situation is studied, paying special attention to Charles S. Peirce, his personal connections with the Hispanic world, the reception of his texts (...) in Spanish, and some of the connections that lie almost hidden under the mutual ignorance which divides the two traditions. -/- . (shrink)
There are three questions associated with Simpson’s Paradox (SP): (i) Why is SP paradoxical? (ii) What conditions generate SP?, and (iii) What should be done about SP? By developing a logic-based account of SP, it is argued that (i) and (ii) must be divorced from (iii). This account shows that (i) and (ii) have nothing to do with causality, which plays a role only in addressing (iii). A counterexample is also presented against the causal account. Finally, the causal and logic-based (...) approaches are compared by means of an experiment to show that SP is not basically causal. (shrink)
In 2009, Scott S. Reuben was convicted of fabricating data, which lead to 25 of his publications being retracted. Although it is clear that the perpetuation of retracted articles negatively effects the appraisal of evidence, the extent to which retracted literature is cited had not previously been investigated. In this study, to better understand the perpetuation of discredited research, we examine the number of citations of Reuben’s articles within 5 years of their retraction. Citations of Reuben’s retracted articles were assessed (...) using the Web of Science Core Collection. All citing articles were screened to discriminate between articles in which Reuben’s work was quoted as retracted, and articles in which his data was wrongly cited without any note of the retraction status. Twenty of Reuben’s publications had been cited 274 times between 2009 and 1024. In 2014, 45 % of the retracted articles had been cited at least once. In only 25.8 % of citing articles was it clearly stated that Reuben’s work had been retracted. Annual citations decreased from 108 in 2009 to 18 in 2014; however, the percentage of publications correctly indicating the retraction status also declined. The percentage of citations in top-25 %-journals, as well as the percentage of citations in journals from Reuben’s research area, declined sharply after 2009. Our data show that even 5 years after their retraction, nearly half of Reuben’s articles are still being quoted and the retraction status is correctly mentioned in only one quarter of the citations. (shrink)
Any great new theoretical framework has an epistemological and an ontological aspect to its philosophy as well as an axiological one, and one needs to understand all three aspects in order to grasp the deep aspiration and idea of the theoretical framework. Presently, there is a widespread effort to understand C. S. Peirce's (1837–1914) pragmaticistic semeiotics, and to develop it by integrating the results of modern science and evolutionary thinking; first, producing a biosemiotics and, second, by integrating it with the (...) progress in cybernetics, information science, and system theory to create a cybersemiotics. In this paper, we focus on the understanding of the evolution of the universe that Peirce produced as an alternative to the mechanistic view underlying classical physics and try to place man in an evolving universe as a creative, aesthetical agent. It is true that modern non-equilibrium physics has made a modern foundation for a profound physical understanding of the basic evolutionary processes in the universe. But science still has not produced a theory that can explain how the creativity of the universe could produce signification, interpretation, and first-person consciousness. To this end, Peirce's thoughts on agapastic evolution coupled with the aesthetically influence of the growth of ideas and reasonableness on man could make a contribution. (shrink)
Wittgenstein’s interpreters are undivided that the method plays a central role in his philosophy. This would be no surprise if we have in mind the Tractarian dictum: “philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity” (4.112). After 1929, Wittgenstein’s method evolved further. In its final form, articulated in Philosophical Investigations, it was formulated as different kinds of therapies of specific philosophical problems that torment our life (§§ 133, 255, 593). In this paper we follow the changes in Wittgenstein’s (...) thinking in four subsequent phases and in three dimensions: (i) in logic and ontology; (ii) in method proper; (iii) in style. (shrink)
Where has the Western attraction to the study and practice of shamanic techniques brought us? Where might it take us? In what ways have our Western biases and philosophical underpinnings influenced and changed how shamanism is practiced, both in the West and in the traditional cultures out of which they emerged? Is it time to stop using the umbrella term “shamanism” to refer to such diverse cross-cultural practices? What are our responsibilities, both as researchers and as spiritual seekers? In this (...) conversation, researcher-authors Stephan Beyer, Stanley Krippner, and Hillary S. Webb discuss their work in field and consider some of the ramifications of the Western world's intellectual and spiritual fascination with shamanic practices. Special attention is paid to the language used to describe these techniques and their practitioners, the developing relationship between researchers and cultural participants, and the ethical implications of merging what are often very distinct worldviews. (shrink)
After qualifying in which sense ‘realism’ can be applied to eighteenth- century views about morality, I argue that while Kant shares with traditional moral realists several fundamental claims about morality, he holds that those claims must be argued for in a radically different way. Drawing on his diagnosis of the serious weaknesses of traditional moral realism, Kant proposes a novel approach that revolves around a hybrid view about moral obligation. Since his solution to that central issue combines elements of realism (...) with elements of voluntarist assent, Kant’s position can be characterized as an idealist version of moral realism or, more specifically, as the combination of a strong realism about the moral law with an idealist account of moral obligation. (shrink)
In this paper I examine parallels between C.S. Peirce's most mature account of signs and contemporary philosophy of language. I do this by first introducing a summary of Peirce's final account of Signs. I then use that account of signs to reconstruct Peircian answers to two puzzles of reference: The Problem of Cognitive Significance, or Frege's Puzzle; and The Same-Saying Phenomenon for Indexicals. Finally, a comparison of these Peircian answers with both Fregean and Direct Referentialist approaches to the puzzles highlights (...) interesting parallels and important differences between Peirce's final account of signs, and the concepts used in analytic philosophy of language. (shrink)
This paper examines the complexity and fluidity of maternal identity through an examination of narratives about "real motherhood" found in children's literature. Focusing on the multiplicity of mothers in adoption, I question standard views of maternity in which gestational, genetic and social mothering all coincide in a single person. The shortcomings of traditional notions of motherhood are overcome by developing a fluid and inclusive conception of maternal reality as authored by a child's own perceptions.
Some contemporary intepreters of Kant maintain that on Kant's view fulfilling duties of virtue require doing so from the motive of duty. I argue that there are interpretive and doctinal reasons for rejecting this interpretation. However, I argue that for Kant motives can be deontically relevant; one's motives can affect the deontic status of actions.
(Also titled "A Place for Peirce's Categories?"in Meaning without Analyticity.) This book arose from the author’s recent dissertation written under the Gerhard Schönrich at Munich. It focuses on Peirce’s theory of categories and his epistemology. According to Baltzer, what is distinctive in Peirce’s theory of knowledge is that he reconstrues objects as “knots in networks of relations.” The phrase may ring a bell. It suggests a structuralist interpretation of Peirce, influenced by the Munich environs. The study aims to shows how (...) Peirce’s theory of categories supports his theory of knowledge and how “question concerning a priori structures of knowledge” are transformed within this relational framework. A chief critical target is David Savan’s semiotics, specifically the idea that “the multiplicity of development of the categories” is “conditioned by nothing but the indefiniteness of the categories.” But in contrast with this, if there is any indefiniteness in the categories, they cannot fully direct their own application, and this is to say regarding them “that our knowledge is never absolute but always swims, as it were, in a continuum...” If the doctrine of continuity applies to the categories, they also have a continuum to swim in. (shrink)
Research is a global enterprise requiring participation of both genders for generalizable knowledge; advancement of science and evidence based medical treatment. Participation of women in research is necessary to reduce the current bias that most empirical evidence is obtained from studies with men to inform health care and related policy interventions. Various factors are assumed to limit autonomy amongst the Yoruba women of western Nigeria. This paper seeks to explore the experience and understanding of autonomy by the Yoruba women in (...) relation to research participation. Focus is on factors that affect women's autonomous decision making in research participation. An exploratory qualitative approach comprising four focus group discussions, 42 in-depth interviews and 14 key informant interviews was used. The study permits a significant amount of triangulation, as opinions of husbands and religious leaders are also explored. Interviews and discussions were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Content analysis was employed for data analysis. Findings show that concepts of autonomy varied amongst the Yoruba women. Patriarchy, religion and culture are conceived to have negative impact on the autonomy of women in respect to research participation. Among the important findings are: 1) male dominance is strongly emphasized by religious leaders who should teach equality, 2) while men feel that by making decisions for women, they are protecting them, the women on the other hand see this protection as a way of limiting their autonomy. We recommend further studies to develop culturally appropriate and workable recruitment methods to increase women's participation in research. (shrink)
This paper attempts to shed light on Kant’s notion of autonomy in his moral philosophy by considering Kant’s critique of the rationalist theories of morality that Kant discussed in his lectures on practical philosophy from the 1760s to the time of the Groundwork. The paper first explains Kant’s taxonomy of moral theories. Second, it considers Kant's arguments against the two main variants of ‘rationalism’ as he construes it, that is, perfectionism and theological voluntarism, pointing out the similarities to previous criticisms. (...) Third, the paper argues that Kant’s discussion of the 'rationalist' views does not amount to an unqualified dismissal, but to an attempt at working out a novel rationalist position. Kant’s criticisms of rationalist views suggest that his project emerges from the failures of previous rationalism, with the aim to work out a rationalist view that can account for moral obligation by integrating insights from the theological conception. The combination of perfectionism and theological views yields the basic outline of the idea of autonomy, consisting in the lawgiving function of a rational will as a key to the legislation of a necessary law. (shrink)
Shoemaker argues that a satisfactory resolution of Moore's paradox requires a _self-intimation thesis that posits a "constitutive relation between belief and believing that one believes." He claims that such a thesis is needed to explain the crucial fact that the assent conditions for '_P' entail those for '_I believe that P'. This paper argues for an alternative resolution of Moore's paradox that provides for an adequate explanation of the crucial fact without relying on the kind of necessary connection between first (...) and second-order beliefs that is posited by Shoemaker's self-intimation thesis. (shrink)
The problem of the irreversibility’s origin in thermodynamic processes occupies a distinguished place among many and lasting attempts by researchers to derive irreversibility from molecular-mechanical principles. However, this problem is still open and no universally accepted solution may be given during any course. In this paper, I shall try to show that the examining of Maxwell’s demon thought experiment may provide insight into the difficulties that emerge, looking for this origin because: (i) it is connected with the notion of irreversibility, (...) and (ii) one of its functions is that of the “reversibility objection.” In order to illustrate this point, I study Boltzmann’s approach to the problem of a molecular-mechanical interpretation of irreversibility and I show that an auxiliary assumption (the selected direction of time) is responsible for producing irreversibility. But this result is accordant with the predictions of Maxwell’s demon thought experiment: the assumptions of this kind are not dictated by molecular-mechanical principles but are separate input in the model-systems used. (shrink)
Nugayev’s book is one of the first Soviet monographs treating the theory change problem. The gist of epistemological model consists in consequent account of intertheoretical relations. His book is based on the works of Soviet authors, as well as on Western studies (K.R. Popper, T.S. Kuhn, I. Lakatos, P. Feyerabend et al.) Key words: epistemological model, Soviet philosophy, Western studies .
Intensive professional testing of children with disabilities is becoming increasingly prominent within the field of children’s rehabilitation. In this paper we question the high quality ascribed to standardized assessment procedures. We explore testing practices using a hermeneutic-phenomenological approach analyzing data from interviews and participant observations among 20 children with disabilities and their parents. All the participating children have extensive experience from being tested. This study reveals that the practices of testing have certain limitations when confronted with the lived experience of (...) those who are being tested. Testing seems to transmit the experts’ view of what is important, correct and admirable, and the way in which an individual child fulfills such requirements and fits in with the predetermined standard. Regular testing may result in insecurity on the part of the tested individual, and possibly to a lack of confidence in their body and the way it functions. For the individual being tested the meaning of testing is primarily related to passing or not passing the test requirements. Given the meaning of testing, children with disabilities may experience repeated testing as an ordeal that they are expected to put up with. By illuminating the experiences of the ones exposed to testing, this paper offers new insight for professionals to gauge more accurately the quality of contemporary testing practice. (shrink)
Zeno’s paradoxes of motion, allegedly denying motion, have been conceived to reinforce the Parmenidean vision of an immutable world. The aim of this article is to demonstrate that these famous logical paradoxes should be seen instead as paradoxes of immobility. From this new point of view, motion is therefore no longer logically problematic, while immobility is. This is convenient since it is easy to conceive that immobility can actually conceal motion, and thus the proposition “immobility is mere illusion of the (...) senses” is much more credible than the reverse thesis supported by Parmenides. Moreover, this proposition is also supported by modern depiction of material bodies: the existence of a ceaseless random motion of atoms—the ‘thermal agitation’—in the scope of contemporary atomic theory, can offer a rational explanation of this ‘illusion of immobility’. Our new approach to Zeno’s paradoxes therefore leads to presenting the novel concept of ‘impermobility’, which we think is a more adequate description of physical reality. (shrink)
Hume's Dictum (HD) says, roughly and typically, that there are no metaphysically necessary connections between distinct, intrinsically typed, entities. HD plays an influential role in metaphysical debate, both in constructing theories and in assessing them. One should ask of such an influential thesis: why believe it? Proponents do not accept Hume's arguments for his dictum, nor do they provide their own; however, some have suggested either that HD is analytic or that it is synthetic a priori (that is: motivated by (...) intuitions we have no good reason to question). Here I explore whether belief in HD is directly justified on either grounds. I motivate and present more formal characterizations of HD; I show that there are good prima facie cases to be made for HD's being analytic and for its being synthetic a priori; I argue that each of the prima facie cases fails, some things considered. I close by offering two suggestions for how belief in HD might be indirectly justified on argumentative grounds. (shrink)
In an incendiary 2010 Nature article, M. A. Nowak, C. E. Tarnita, and E. O. Wilson present a savage critique of the best-known and most widely used framework for the study of social evolution, W. D. Hamilton’s theory of kin selection. More than a hundred biologists have since rallied to the theory’s defence, but Nowak et al. maintain that their arguments ‘stand unrefuted’. Here I consider the most contentious claim Nowak et al. defend: that Hamilton’s rule, the core explanatory principle (...) of kin selection theory, ‘almost never holds’. I first distinguish two versions of Hamilton’s rule in contemporary theory: a special version (HRS) that requires restrictive assumptions, and a general version (HRG) that does not. I then show that Nowak et al. are most charitably construed as arguing that HRS almost never holds, while HRG buys its generality at the expense of explanatory power. While their arguments against HRS are fairly uncontroversial, their arguments against HRG are more contentious, yet these have been largely overlooked in the ensuing furore. I consider the arguments for and against the explanatory value of HRG, with a view to assessing what exactly is at stake in the debate. I suggest that the debate hinges on issues concerning the causal interpretability of regression coefficients, and concerning the explanatory function Hamilton’s rule is intended to serve. (shrink)