Responding to recent concerns about the reliability of the published literature in psychology and other disciplines, we formed the X-Phi Replicability Project to estimate the reproducibility of experimental philosophy. Drawing on a representative sample of 40 x-phi studies published between 2003 and 2015, we enlisted 20 research teams across 8 countries to conduct a high-quality replication of each study in order to compare the results to the original published findings. We found that x-phi studies – as represented in our sample (...) – successfully replicated about 70% of the time. We discuss possible reasons for this relatively high replication rate in the field of experimental philosophy and offer suggestions for best research practices going forward. (shrink)
In the last decade, many problematic cases of scientific conduct have been diagnosed; some of which involve outright fraud others are more subtle. These and similar problems can be interpreted as caused by lack of scientific objectivity. The current philosophical theories of objectivity do not provide scientists with conceptualizations that can be effectively put into practice in remedying these issues. We propose a novel way of thinking about objectivity for individual scientists; a negative and dynamic approach.We provide a philosophical conceptualization (...) of objectivity that is informed by empirical research. In particular, it is our intention to take the first steps in providing an empirically and methodologically informed inventory of factors that impair the scientific practice. The inventory will be compiled into a negative conceptualization, which could in principle be used by individual scientists to assess objectivity of scientific practice. We propose a preliminary outline of a usable and testable instrument for indicating the objectivity of scientific practice. (shrink)
The finding that intuitions about the reference of proper names vary cross-culturally was one of the early milestones in experimental philosophy. Many follow-up studies investigated the scope and magnitude of such cross-cultural effects, but our paper provides the first systematic meta-analysis of studies replicating. In the light of our results, we assess the existence and significance of cross-cultural effects for intuitions about the reference of proper names.
'Holographic' relations between theories have become a main theme in quantum gravity research. These relations entail that a theory without gravity is equivalent to a gravitational theory with an extra spatial dimension. The idea of holography was first proposed in 1993 by Gerard 't Hooft on the basis of his studies of evaporating black holes. Soon afterwards the holographic 'AdS/CFT' duality was introduced, which since has been heavily studied in the string theory community and beyond. Recently, Erik Verlinde has proposed (...) that even Newton's law of gravitation can be related holographically to the thermodynamics of information on screens. We discuss inter-theoretical relations in these scenarios: what is the status of the holographic relation in them and in what sense is gravity, or spacetime, emergent? (shrink)
Why did Einstein tirelessly study unified field theory for more than 30 years? In this book, the author argues that Einstein believed he could find a unified theory of all of nature's forces by repeating the methods he used when he formulated general relativity. The book discusses Einstein's route to the general theory of relativity, focusing on the philosophical lessons that he learnt. It then addresses his quest for a unified theory for electromagnetism and gravity, discussing in detail his efforts (...) with Kaluza-Klein and, surprisingly, the theory of spinors. From these perspectives, Einstein's critical stance towards the quantum theory comes to stand in a new light. This book will be of interest to physicists, historians and philosophers of science. (shrink)
This article discusses new material, published in volume 12 of the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, that addresses Einstein’s knowledge of the Michelson–Morley experiment prior to 1905: in a lecture in Chicago in 1921, Einstein referred to the experiment, mentioned when he came upon it and hinted at its influence. Arguments are presented to explain the contrast with Einstein’s later pronouncements on the role of the experiment.
Een van de hoekstenen van het idee dat de wetenschap een eenheid is, wordt gevormd door de overtuiging dat er in haar rijk één taal wordt gesproken: de taal van de feiten. Natuurlijk zijn er tussen de wetenschappen ook grote verschillen, maar die betreffen volgens deze overtuiging het gebied van de theorieën. De data waarop deze zich baseren, zouden neutraal geformuleerd kunnen worden. Als dit niet zo zou zijn, wordt ons het angstbeeld van een grote spraakverwarring voorgehouden.
William James was zo'n veelzijdig denker dat hij lezers met de meest uiteenlopende achtergronden wist te bereiken. Een opstel als ‘Is life worth living’ uit The Will to Believe spreekt waarschijnlijk andere lezers aan dan de discussies over het pragmatische waarheidsbegrip uit The meaning of truth. De auteur die fameuze passages leverde over ‘de theorie van de automaat’ is ook de schrijver die probeerde om bezwaren tegen een leven na de dood te pareren, en het is moeilijk om je een (...) hedendaagse lezer voor te stellen die beide thema's even serieus neemt. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis article reviews Zhu Xueqin’s writings on Jean-Jacques Rousseau against the background of the reception of Rousseau in China since the late nineteenth century. Rousseau was both an advocate and critic of the Enlightenment, and his work hence appealed to many Chinese intellectuals who struggled with the conundrum of how to modernize. During the late nineteenth century, Chinese supporters of Rousseau drew on his work to defend the viability of revolution. During the 1990s, following the tragedy of Tiananmen and the (...) decline of socialism, Rousseau served to reflect on China’s twentieth-century trajectory and the disastrous political consequences of collective moral idealism. For Zhu Xueqin, a key question was: Why were the French Revolution and the Cultural Revolution so similar? (shrink)
During World War II, Niels Bohr realized that the nature of war had changed irrevocably due to the introduction of the atomic bomb. This, in his opinion, meant that nation states had to be open about nuclear knowledge and negotiate toward peace. The bomb presented a threat, yet at the same time, an opportunity, as Bohr would argue in his characteristic way. It is not too difficult to point to the epistemological origin of Bohr’s argument: One easily identifies resonances with (...) his ideas on “complementarity” from quantum mechanics. According to Bohr’s doctrine of complementarity, a quantum mechanical object shows certain qualities depending on the experimental perspective from which it is studied; and these qualities may be mutually exclusive. However, they should in fact be looked upon as “complementary” properties that together make up the full picture of the object under investigation.Initially, Bohr could express his ideas to the highest circles of power. This would soon change, howe .. (shrink)
This slender and interesting volume by three Dutch philosophers examines the manner in which eight prominent philosophers dealt with ostensibly paranormal experiences arising both spontaneously and also as the result of hypnosis. Hans Gerding covers both Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer; Rico Sneller discusses Friedrich Joseph Schelling, Hans Driesch, and Gabriel Marcel; and Hein van Dongen considers William James, Henri Bergson, and Jacques Derrida. My guess is that JSE readers might already know about Kant’s apparent ambivalence about Swedenborg’s vision (...) of a Stockholm fire, as well as William James’s investigations of mental mediumship and his experiments with altered states. Nevertheless, I expect they will find much that they didn’t already know in those chapters, as well as in the others of course. (shrink)
Behavioural and neuroscientific research has provided evidence for a strong functional link between the neural motor system and lexical?semantic processing of action-related language. It remains unclear, however, whether the impact of motor actions is restricted to online language comprehension or whether sensorimotor codes are also important in the formation and consolidation of persisting memory representations of the word's referents. The current study now demonstrates that recognition performance for action words is modulated by motor actions performed during the retention interval. Specifically, (...) participants were required to learn words denoting objects that were associated with either a pressing or a twisting action (e.g., piano, screwdriver) and words that were not associated to actions. During a 6?8-minute retention phase, participants performed an intervening task that required the execution of pressing or twisting responses. A subsequent recognition task revealed a better memory for words that denoted objects for which the functional use was congruent with the action performed during the retention interval (e.g., pepper mill?twisting action, doorbell?pressing action) than for words that denoted objects for which the functional use was incongruent. In further experiments, we were able to generalize this effect of selective memory enhancement of words by performing congruent motor actions to an implicit perceptual (Experiment 2) and implicit semantic memory test (Experiment 3). Our findings suggest that a reactivation of motor codes affects the process of memory consolidation and emphasizes therefore the important role of sensorimotor codes in establishing enduring semantic representations. The authors thank Pascal de Water and Gerard van Oijen for technical support and Markus van Ackeren for help in creating stimulus material. The authors would also like to thank Eelco van Dongen, Michael Masson, Art Glenberg, and Diane Pecher for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. The study was supported by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research NWO-VICI grant (453-05-001) to the third author and NWO-VENI grant (016-094-053) to the last author. (shrink)
Common sense philosophy holds that widely and deeply held beliefs are justified in the absence of defeaters. While this tradition has always had its philosophical detractors who have defended various forms of skepticism or have sought to develop rival epistemological views, recent advances in several scientific disciplines claim to have debunked the reliability of the faculties that produce our common sense beliefs. At the same time, however, it seems reasonable that we cannot do without common sense beliefs entirely. Arguably, science (...) and the scientific method are built on, and continue to depend on, common sense. This collection of essays debates the tenability of common sense in the face of recent challenges from the empirical sciences. It explores to what extent scientific considerations--rather than philosophical considerations--put pressure on common sense philosophy. The book is structured in a way that promotes dialogue between philosophers and scientists. Noah Lemos, one of the most influential contemporary advocates of the common sense tradition, begins with an overview of the nature and scope of common sense beliefs, and examines philosophical objections to common sense and its relationship to scientific beliefs. Then, the volume features essays by scientists and philosophers of science who discuss various proposed conflicts between commonsensical and scientific beliefs: the reality of space and time, about the nature of human beings, about free will and identity, about rationality, about morality, and about religious belief. Notable philosophers who embrace the common sense tradition respond to these essays to explore the connection between common sense philosophy and contemporary debates in evolutionary biology, neuroscience, physics, and psychology. (shrink)
Presentations of black hole complementarity by van Dongen and de Haro, as well as by 't Hooft, suffer from a mistaken claim that interactions between matter falling into a black hole and the emitted Hawking-like radiation should lead to a failure of commutativity between space-like-related observables localized inside and outside the black hole. I show that this conclusion is not supported by our standard understanding of quantum interactions. We have no reason to believe that near-horizon interactions will threaten microcausality. (...) If these interactions reliably transfer information to the outgoing radiation, then this response to Hawking's information loss argument should amount to a version of the bleaching scenario. I argue that the challenge facing black hole complementarity is that of reconciling this commitment to bleaching with the expectation that the event horizon will be locally unremarkable. This challenge is most promisingly met by proposals that postulate a consistent account of the limitations of our local semi-classical theories, but no support is added to these postulates by appeals to verificationism or to the interactions considered by 't Hooft. (shrink)
Collected and edited by Noah Levin -/- Table of Contents: -/- UNIT ONE: INTRODUCTION TO CONTEMPORARY ETHICS: TECHNOLOGY, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, AND IMMIGRATION 1 The “Trolley Problem” and Self-Driving Cars: Your Car’s Moral Settings (Noah Levin) 2 What is Ethics and What Makes Something a Problem for Morality? (David Svolba) 3 Letter from the Birmingham City Jail (Martin Luther King, Jr) 4 A Defense of Affirmative Action (Noah Levin) 5 The Moral Issues of Immigration (B.M. Wooldridge) 6 The (...) Ethics of our Digital Selves (Noah Levin) -/- UNIT TWO: TORTURE, DEATH, AND THE “GREATER GOOD” 7 The Ethics of Torture (Martine Berenpas) 8 What Moral Obligations do we have (or not have) to Impoverished Peoples? (B.M. Wooldridge) 9 Euthanasia, or Mercy Killing (Nathan Nobis) 10 An Argument Against Capital Punishment (Noah Levin) 11 Common Arguments about Abortion (Nathan Nobis & Kristina Grob) 12 Better (Philosophical) Arguments about Abortion (Nathan Nobis & Kristina Grob) -/- UNIT THREE: PERSONS, AUTONOMY, THE ENVIRONMENT, AND RIGHTS 13 Animal Rights (Eduardo Salazar) 14 John Rawls and the “Veil of Ignorance” (Ben Davies) 15 Environmental Ethics: Climate Change (Jonathan Spelman) 16 Rape, Date Rape, and the “Affirmative Consent” Law in California (Noah Levin) 17 The Ethics of Pornography: Deliberating on a Modern Harm (Eduardo Salazar) 18 The Social Contract (Thomas Hobbes) -/- UNIT FOUR: HAPPINESS 19 Is Pleasure all that Matters? Thoughts on the “Experience Machine” (Prabhpal Singh) 20 Utilitarianism (J.S. Mill) 21 Utilitarianism: Pros and Cons (B.M. Wooldridge) 22 Existentialism, Genetic Engineering, and the Meaning of Life: The Fifths (Noah Levin) 23 The Solitude of the Self (Elizabeth Cady Stanton) 24 Game Theory, the Nash Equilibrium, and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (Douglas E. Hill) -/- UNIT FIVE: RELIGION, LAW, AND ABSOLUTE MORALITY 25 The Myth of Gyges and The Crito (Plato) 26 God, Morality, and Religion (Kristin Seemuth Whaley) 27 The Categorical Imperative (Immanuel Kant) 28 The Virtues (Aristotle) 29 Beyond Good and Evil (Friedrich Nietzsche) 30 Other Moral Theories: Subjectivism, Relativism, Emotivism, Intuitionism, etc. (Jan F. Jacko). (shrink)
Psillos has recently argued that van Fraassen’s arguments against abduction fail. Moreover, he claimed that, if successful, these arguments would equally undermine van Fraassen’s own constructive empiricism, for, Psillos thinks, it is only by appeal to abduction that constructive empiricism can be saved from issuing in a bald scepticism. We show that Psillos’ criticisms are misguided, and that they are mostly based on misinterpretations of van Fraassen’s arguments. Furthermore, we argue that Psillos’ arguments for his claim that constructive empiricism itself (...) needs abduction point up to his failure to recognize the importance of van Fraassen’s broader epistemology for constructive empiricism. Towards the end of our paper we discuss the suspected relationship between constructive empiricism and scepticism in the light of this broader epistemology, and from a somewhat more general perspective. (shrink)
Is language understanding a special case of social cognition? To help evaluate this view, we can formalize it as the rational speech-act theory: Listeners assume that speakers choose their utterances approximately optimally, and listeners interpret an utterance by using Bayesian inference to “invert” this model of the speaker. We apply this framework to model scalar implicature (“some” implies “not all,” and “N” implies “not more than N”). This model predicts an interaction between the speaker's knowledge state and the listener's interpretation. (...) We test these predictions in two experiments and find good fit between model predictions and human judgments. (shrink)
This book addresses some basic questions about intrinsic value: What is it? What has it? What justifies our beliefs about it? In the first six chapters the author defends the existence of a plurality of intrinsic goods, the thesis of organic unities, the view that some goods are 'higher' than others, and the view that intrinsic value can be explicated in terms of 'fitting' emotional attitudes. The final three chapters explore the justification of our beliefs about intrinsic value, including coherence (...) theories and the idea that some value beliefs are warranted on the basis of emotional experience. Professor Lemos defends the view that some value beliefs enjoy 'modest' a priori justification. The book is intended primarily for professional philosophers and their graduate students working in ethics, value theory and epistemology. (shrink)