"Why should we care about having true beliefs? And why do demonstrably false beliefs persist and spread despite consequences for the people who hold them? Philosophers of science Cailin O’Connor and James Weatherall argue that social factors, rather than individual psychology, are what’s essential to understanding the spread and persistence of false belief. It might seem that there’s an obvious reason that true beliefs matter: false beliefs will hurt you. But if that’s right, then why is it irrelevant to many (...) people whether they believe true things or not? In an age riven by "fake news," "alternative facts," and disputes over the validity of everything from climate change to the size of inauguration crowds, the authors argue that social factors, not individual psychology, are what’s essential to understanding the persistence of false belief and that we must know how those social forces work in order to fight misinformation effectively."–Publisher’s description. (shrink)
This provocative book refurbishes the traditional account of freedom of will as reasons-guided "agent" causation, situating its account within a general metaphysics. O'Connor's discussion of the general concept of causation and of ontological reductionism v. emergence will specially interest metaphysicians and philosophers of mind.
Bruner shows that in cultural interactions, members of minority groups will learn to interact with members of majority groups more quickly—minorities tend to meet majorities more often as a brute fact of their respective numbers—and, as a result, may come to be disadvantaged in situations where they divide resources. In this paper, we discuss the implications of this effect for epistemic communities. We use evolutionary game theoretic methods to show that minority groups can end up disadvantaged in academic interactions like (...) bargaining and collaboration as a result of this effect. These outcomes are more likely, in our models, the smaller the minority group. They occur despite assumptions that majority and minority groups do not differ with respect to skill level, personality, preference, or competence of any sort. Furthermore, as we will argue, these disadvantaged outcomes for minority groups may negatively impact the progress of epistemic communities. (shrink)
An expansive, yet succinct, analysis of the Philosophy of Religion – from metaphysics through theology. Organized into two sections, the text first examines truths concerning what is possible and what is necessary. These chapters lay the foundation for the book’s second part – the search for a metaphysical framework that permits the possibility of an ultimate explanation that is correct and complete. A cutting-edge scholarly work which engages with the traditional metaphysician’s quest for a true ultimate explanation of the most (...) general features of the world we inhabit Develops an original view concerning the epistemology and metaphysics of modality, or truths concerning what is possible or necessary Applies this framework to a re-examination of the cosmological argument for theism Defends a novel version of the Leibnizian cosmological argument. (shrink)
Theodor W. Adorno was one of the foremost philosophers and social theorists of the post-war period. Crucial to the development of Critical Theory, his highly original and distinctive but often difficult writings not only advance questions of fundamental philosophical significance, but provide deep-reaching analyses of literature, art, music sociology and political theory. In this comprehensive introduction, Brian O’Connor explains Adorno’s philosophy for those coming to his work for the first time, through original new lines of interpretation. Beginning with an overview (...) of Adorno’s life and key philosophical views and influences, which contextualizes the intellectual environment in which he worked, O’Connor assesses the central elements of Adorno’s philosophy. He carefully examines Adorno’s distinctive style of analysis and shows how much of his work is a critical response to the various forms of identity thinking that have underpinned the destructive forces of modernity. He goes on to discuss the main areas of Adorno’s philosophy: social theory, the philosophy of experience, metaphysics, morality and aesthetics; setting out detailed accounts of Adorno’s notions of the dialectic of Enlightenment, reification, totality, mediation, identity, nonidentity, experience, negative dialectics, immanence, freedom, autonomy, imitation and autonomy in art. The final chapter considers Adorno’s philosophical legacy and importance today. Including a chronology, glossary, chapter summaries, and suggestions for further reading, _Adorno_ is an ideal introduction to this demanding but important thinker, and essential reading for students of philosophy, literature, sociology and cultural studies. (shrink)
Many philosophers are persuaded by familiar arguments that free will is incompatible with causal determinism. Yet, notoriously, past attempts to articulate how the right type of indeterminism might secure the capacity for autonomous action have generally been regarded as either demonstrably inadequate or irremediably obscure. This volume gathers together the most significant recent discussions concerning the prospects for devising a satisfactory indeterministic account of freedom of action. These essays give greater precision to traditional formulations of the problems associated with indeterministic (...) accounts and to the range of theoretical avenues for pursuing resolutions. The first four essays set out different challenges (from both compatibilists and those skeptical of the possibility of free will) to the adequacy of standard indeterministic theories. The next seven essays meet one or more of these challenges. Each of the fundamental types of approach--simple indeterminism, causal indeterminism, and agent causation--is represented in these novel and sophisticated proposals. The collection finishes with two essays that debate whether compatibilism entails that freedom of choice is a comparatively rare phenomenon within an individual's life. Eloquently presenting some of the most compelling and accessible arguments surrounding this central philosophical issue, Agents, Causes, and Events makes a valuable contribution to courses in free will/action theory and metaphysics. (shrink)
This work aims to clarify the nature of the philosophy of education, intending to indicate both the limits and the uses of philosophical criticism of educational aims and concepts. It is based upon the fact that education is a subject full of unexamined presumptions.
A good deal of attention has been given in recent philosophy of religion to the question of whether we can sensibly attribute to God a form of knowledge which the 16th-century Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina termed "middle knowledge". Interest in the doctrine has been spurred by a recognition of its intimate connection to certain conceptions of providence, prophecy, and response to petitionary prayer. According to defenders of the doctrine, which I will call "Molinism", the objects of middle knowledge are (...) all the true counterfactuals of the form, 'If C were to occur, then S would freely do A', where C specifies a particular set of circumstances. (Such propositions are usually referred to as "counterfactuals of freedom" - hereafter "CFs".)' I will try to assess the current status of two distinct questions: (1) Are there true CFs? and (2) Could God know true CFs if there are any? Obviously, Molinism must answer both questions affirmatively. Most of the discussion has focused on the first question. I hope to show that this approach has been a dialectical mistake on the part of critics of Molinism, for the difficulties of giving an affirmative answer to question (2) are, I believe, far easier to state clearly and convincingly. (shrink)
David O’Connor has criticized my arguments for the conclusion that God’s existence is compatible with genuinely gratuitous natural evil. In this reply, I show that his own arguments fail to achieve their objective; in addition, I point out several respects in which he has misstated my position.
I distinguish restrictive and permissive multiverse solutions to the problems of evil and no best world. Restrictive multiverses do not admit a single instance of gratuitous evil and they are not improvable. I show that restrictive multiverses unacceptably entail that all modal distinctions collapse. I consider Timothy O’Connor’s permissive multiverse. I show that a perfect creator minimizes aggregative suffering in permissive multiverses only if the actual universe is not included in any actualizable multiverse. I conclude that permissive multiverses do not (...) offer a credible solution to the problems of evil and no best world. (shrink)
Collaboration is increasingly popular across academia. Collaborative work raises certain ethical questions, however. How will the fruits of collaboration be divided? How will the work for the collaborative project be split? In this paper, we consider the following question in particular. Are there ways in which these divisions systematically disadvantage certain groups? -/- We use evolutionary game theoretic models to address this question. First, we discuss results from O'Connor and Bruner (unpublished). In this paper, we show that underrepresented groups (...) in academia can be disadvantaged in such situations by dint of their small numbers. Second, we present novel results exploring how the hierarchical structure of academia can lead to bargaining disadvantage. We investigate models where one actor has a higher baseline of academic success, less to lose if collaboration goes south, or greater rewards for non-collaborative work. We show that in these situations, the less powerful partner is disadvantaged in bargaining over collaboration. (shrink)
_Philosophy of Mind: Contemporary Readings_ is a comprehensive anthology that draws together leading philosophers writing on the major topics within philosophy of mind. Robb and O'Connor have carefully chosen articles under the following headings: *Substance Dualism and Idealism *Materialism *Mind and Representation *Consciousness Each section is prefaced by an introductory essay by the editors which guides the student gently into the topic in which leading philosophers are included. The book is highly accessible and user-friendly and provides a broad-ranging exploration (...) of the subject. Ideal for any philosophy student, this book will prove essential reading for any philosophy of mind course. The readings are designed to complement John Heil's _Philosophy of Mind: A Contemporary Introduction, Second edition _, although the anthology can also be used as a stand-alone volume. (shrink)
Throughout the 1990s, Jaegwon Kim developed a line of argument that what purport to be nonreductive forms of physicalism are ultimately untenable, since they cannot accommodate the causal efficacy of mental states. We argue that, while the argument needs some tweaking, its basic thrust is sound. In what follows, we lay out our preferred version of the argument and highlight its essential dependence on a causal-powers metaphysic, a dependence that Kim does not acknowledge in his official presentations of the argument. (...) We then discuss two recent physicalist strategies for preserving the causal efficacy of the mental in the face of this sort of challenge, strategies that (ostensibly) endorse a causal powers metaphysics of properties while offering distinctive accounts of the physical realization of mental properties. We argue that neither picture can be satisfactorily worked out, and that seeing why they fail strongly suggests that nonreductive physicalism and a causal powers metaphysic are not compatible, as our original argument contends. Since we also believe that robust realism concerning mental causation should not be abandoned, we take the argument of this paper to strongly motivate an account on which the mental is unrealized by and ontologically emergent from the physical. In a final section, we sketch what an ontologically emergentist account of the mental might look like. (shrink)
In this paper we use an experimental approach to investigate how linguistic conventions can emerge in a society without explicit agreement. As a starting point we consider the signaling game introduced by Lewis. We find that in experimental settings, small groups can quickly develop conventions of signal meaning in these games. We also investigate versions of the game where the theoretical literature indicates that meaning will be less likely to arise—when there are more than two states for actors to transfer (...) meaning about and when some states are more likely than others. In these cases, we find that actors are less likely to arrive at strategies where signals have clear conventional meaning. We conclude with a proposal for extending the use of the methodology of experimental economics in experimental philosophy. (shrink)
A Companion to the Philosophy of Action offers a comprehensive overview of the issues and problems central to the philosophy of action. The first volume to survey the entire field of philosophy of action (the central issues and processes relating to human actions). Brings together specially commissioned chapters from international experts. Discusses a range of ideas and doctrines, including rationality, free will and determinism, virtuous action, criminal responsibility, Attribution Theory, and rational agency in evolutionary perspective. Individual chapters also cover prominent (...) historic figures from Plato to Ricoeur. Can be approached as a complete narrative, but also serves as a work of reference. Offers rich insights into an area of philosophical thought that has attracted thinkers since the time of the ancient Greeks. (shrink)
We show that previous results from epistemic network models showing the benefits of decreased connectivity in epistemic networks are not robust across changes in parameter values. Our findings motivate discussion about whether and how such models can inform real-world epistemic communities. As we argue, only robust results from epistemic network models should be used to generate advice for the real-world, and, in particular, decreasing connectivity is a robustly poor recommendation.
In almost every human society some people get more and others get less. Why is inequity the rule in human societies? Philosopher Cailin O'Connor reveals how cultural evolution works on social categories such as race and gender to generate unfairness.
In this new book, Alessandra Tanesini demonstrates that feminist thought has a lot to offer to the study of Wittgenstein's philosophical work, and that -at the same time-that work can inspire feminist reflection in new directions. In Wittgenstein, Tanesini offers a highly original interpretation of several themes in Wittgenstein's philosophy. She argues that when we look at his work through feminist eyes we discover that he is not primarily concerned with providing solutions to technical problems in the philosophy of mind, (...) mathematics, and language. Instead, his remarks on these topics are intended to offer insights about human finitude, the loneliness of the modern autonomous self, and our relations to other human beings. Thus, the modern conception of the individual emerges as the critical target of Wittgenstein's philosophical work, both early and late. This conception has also been one of the dominant concerns of contemporary feminist philosophy. In this book, Wittgenstein's insights are deployed to further feminist debates on issues such as identity, difference, the masculine character of the modern self. (shrink)
“Free Will” is a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives. Which sort is the free will sort is what all the fuss is about. (And what a fuss it has been: philosophers have debated this question for over two millenia, and just about every major philosopher has had something to say about it.) Most philosophers suppose that the concept of free will is very (...) closely connected to the concept of moral responsibility. Acting with free will, on such views, is just to satisfy the metaphysical requirement on being responsible for one's action. (Clearly, there will also be epistemic conditions on responsibility as well, such as being aware—or failing that, being culpably unaware—of relevant alternatives to one's action and of the alternatives' moral significance.) But the significance of free will is not exhausted by its connection to moral responsibility. Free will also appears to be a condition on desert for one's accomplishments (why sustained effort and creative work are praiseworthy); on the autonomy and dignity of persons; and on the value we accord to love and friendship. (See Kane 1996, 81ff. and Clarke 2003, Ch.1.). (shrink)
Collaboration is increasingly popular across academia. Collaborative work raises certain ethical questions, however. How will the fruits of collaboration be divided? How will the work for the collaborative project be split? In this paper, we consider the following question in particular. Are there ways in which these divisions systematically disadvantage certain groups? We use evolutionary game theoretic models to address this question. First, we discuss results from O'Connor and Bruner showing that underrepresented groups in academia can be disadvantaged in (...) collaboration and bargaining by dint of their small numbers. Second, we present novel results exploring how the hierarchical structure of academia can lead to bargaining disadvantage. We investigate models where one actor has a higher baseline of academic success, less to lose if collaboration goes south, or greater rewards for non-collaborative work. We show that in these situations, the less powerful partner can be disadvantaged in bargaining over collaboration. (shrink)
In their recent book, Oreskes and Conway describe the ‘tobacco strategy’, which was used by the tobacco industry to influence policymakers regarding the health risks of tobacco products. The strategy involved two parts, consisting of promoting and sharing independent research supporting the industry’s preferred position and funding additional research, but selectively publishing the results. We introduce a model of the tobacco strategy, and use it to argue that both prongs of the strategy can be extremely effective—even when policymakers rationally update (...) on all evidence available to them. As we elaborate, this model helps illustrate the conditions under which the tobacco strategy is particularly successful. In addition, we show how journalists engaged in ‘fair’ reporting can inadvertently mimic the effects of industry on public belief. 1Introduction2Epistemic Network Models3Selective Sharing4Biased Production5Journalists as Unwitting Propagandists6ConclusionAppendix. (shrink)
Scientists are generally subject to social pressures, including pressures to conform with others in their communities, that affect achievement of their epistemic goals. Here we analyze a network epistemology model in which agents, all else being equal, prefer to take actions that conform with those of their neighbors. This preference for conformity interacts with the agents’ beliefs about which of two possible actions yields the better result. We find a range of possible outcomes, including stable polarization in belief and action. (...) The model results are sensitive to network structure. In general, though, conformity has a negative effect on a community’s ability to reach accurate consensus about the world. (shrink)
Freedom and moral responsibility have one foot in the practical realm of human affairs and the other in the esoteric realm of fundamental metaphysics—or so we believe. This has been denied, especially in the metaphysics-bashing era occupying the first two-thirds or so of the twentieth century, traces of which linger in the present day. But the reasons for this denial seem to us quite implausible. Certainly, the argument for the general bankruptcy of metaphysics has been soundly discredited. Arguments from Strawson (...) and others that our moral practices are too deeply embedded in human life to rest on anything as tenuous as a metaphysical doctrine far from the thoughts of ordinary people would seem to prove too much: we can easily imagine fantastic scenarios far from the thoughts of ordinary people—involving, say, alien manipulation or massive deception—that, if true, would clearly undermine claims to freedom and responsibility. For still other philosophers, the separation of the moral life from (some) metaphysical issues is prescriptive, not descriptive: it is a recommendation that we revise ordinary moral thought by severing its allegedly problematic links to metaphysics. (Some philosophers appear to hover undecided between such a prescriptive project and a Strawsonian descriptive claim.) We suspect that the prospects of retaining the binding force of ordinary moral thought, were such a reconceived moral practice widely embraced, are bleak. A transition to something closer to moral nihilism seems at least as likely. In any case, our interest here is in descriptive metaphysics, not revisionary. -/- To say as we do that freedom and moral responsibility have a partly metaphysical character is not to suggest that they can be had only if some highly specific version of a particular metaphysical framework is correct. Instead, we suggest in what follows, it is a broadly neo-Humean metaphysics that is not hospitable to freedom (for reasons distinctive to the metaphysics), while a broadly neo-Aristotelian metaphysics is. But we also think (and it is the main aim of our paper to show) that different versions of the neo- Aristotelian metaphysics lead to rather different metaphysical accounts of free and responsible action. Specifically, we will argue that (1) the most satisfactory account of human freedom within the broadly neo-Aristotelian metaphysics is agent-causal, but that (2) two different versions of the general metaphysics will lead to important differences in the agent-causal account of freedom. Adjust the details of your general metaphysics, and the details of your account of freedom are transformed in significant ways. Action theory cannot properly be pursued in isolation from general metaphysics. (shrink)
We use game theoretic models to take an in-depth look at the dynamics of discrimination and academic collaboration. We find that in collaboration networks, small minority groups may be more likely to end up being discriminated against while collaborating. We also find that discrimination can lead members of different social groups to mostly collaborate with in-group members, decreasing the effective diversity of the social network. Drawing on previous work, we discuss how decreases in the diversity of scientific collaborations might negatively (...) affect the progress of epistemic communities. (shrink)
Two experiments employed experience sampling to examine the factors associated with a prospective and retrospective focus during mind wandering. Experiment One explored the contribution of working memory and indicated that participants generally prospect when the task does not require continuous monitoring. Experiment Two demonstrated that in the context of reading, interest in what was read suppressed both past and future-related task-unrelated-thought. Moreover, in disinterested individuals the temporal focus during mind wandering depended on the amount of experience with the topic matter—less (...) experienced individuals tended to prospect, while more experienced individuals tended to retrospect. Together these results suggest that during mind wandering participants’ are inclined to prospect as long as the task does not require their undivided attention and raise the intriguing possibility that autobiographical associations with the current task environment have the potential to cue the disinterested mind. (shrink)
Is religious faith consistent with being an intellectually virtuous thinker? In seeking to answer this question, one quickly finds others, each of which has been the focus of recent renewed attention by epistemologists: What is it to be an intellectually virtuous thinker? Must all reasonable belief be grounded in public evidence? Under what circumstances is a person rationally justified in believing something on trust, on the testimony of another, or because of the conclusions drawn by an intellectual authority? Can it (...) be reasonable to hold a belief on a topic over which there is significant, entrenched disagreement among informed inquirers, or should such disagreement lead all parties to modify or suspend their own judgments? Is there anything about faith that exempts it from measurement against such epistemic norms? And if we would so evaluate it, how exactly should we understand the intellectual commitments faith requires? The volume's introduction provides a roadmap of the central issues and controversies as currently discussed by philosophers. In fourteen new essays written to engage nonspecialists as well as philosophers working in religion and epistemology, a diverse and distinguished group of thinkers then consider the place of intellectual virtue in religious faith, exploring one or more of the specific issues noted above. (shrink)
All organised bodies are composed of parts, similar to those composing inorganic nature, and which have even themselves existed in an inorganic state; but the phenomena of life, which result from the juxtaposition of those parts in a certain manner, bear no analogy to any of the effects which would be produced by the action of the component substances considered as mere physical agents. To whatever degree we might imagine our knowledge of the properties of the several ingredients of a (...) living body to be extended and perfected, it is certain that no mere summing up of the separate actions of those elements will ever amount to the action of the living body itself. (shrink)
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