A paper by Schulz (Philos Stud 149:367–386, 2010) describes how the suppositional view of indicative conditionals can be supplemented with a derived view of epistemic modals. In a recent criticism of this paper, Willer (Philos Stud 153:365–375, 2011) argues that the resulting account of conditionals and epistemic modals cannot do justice to the validity of certain inference patterns involving modalised conditionals. In the present response, I analyse Willer’s argument, identify an implicit presupposition which can plausibly be denied and show (...) that accepting it would blur the difference between plain assumptions and their epistemic necessitations. (shrink)
Understanding causal structure is a central task of human cognition. Causal learning underpins the development of our concepts and categories, our intuitive theories, and our capacities for planning, imagination and inference. During the last few years, there has been an interdisciplinary revolution in our understanding of learning and reasoning: Researchers in philosophy, psychology, and computation have discovered new mechanisms for learning the causal structure of the world. This new work provides a rigorous, formal basis for theory theories of concepts and (...) cognitive development, and moreover, the causal learning mechanisms it has uncovered go dramatically beyond the traditional mechanisms of both nativist theories, such as modularity theories, and empiricist ones, such as association or connectionism. (shrink)
We propose that children employ specialized cognitive systems that allow them to recover an accurate “causal map” of the world: an abstract, coherent, learned representation of the causal relations among events. This kind of knowledge can be perspicuously understood in terms of the formalism of directed graphical causal models, or “Bayes nets”. Children’s causal learning and inference may involve computations similar to those for learning causal Bayes nets and for predicting with them. Experimental results suggest that 2- to 4-year-old children (...) construct new causal maps and that their learning is consistent with the Bayes net formalism. (shrink)
In terms of Groenendijk and Stokhofs (1984) formalization of exhaustive interpretation, many conversational implicatures can be accounted for. In this paper we justify and generalize this approach. Our justification proceeds by relating their account via Halpern and Moses (1984) non-monotonic theory of only knowing to the Gricean maxims of Quality and the first sub-maxim of Quantity. The approach of Groenendijk and Stokhof (1984) is generalized such that it can also account for implicatures that are triggered in subclauses not entailed by (...) the whole complex sentence. (shrink)
In their book Unto Others, Sober and Wilson argue that various evolutionary considerations (based on the logic of natural selection) lend support to the truth of psychological altruism. However, recently, Stephen Stich has raised a number of challenges to their reasoning: in particular, he claims that three out of the four evolutionary arguments they give are internally unconvincing, and that the one that is initially plausible fails to take into account recent findings from cognitive science and thus leaves open a (...) number of egoistic responses. These challenges make it necessary to reassess the plausibility of Sober & Wilson’s evolutionary account—which is what I aim to do in this paper. In particular, I try to show that, as a matter of fact, Sober & Wilson’s case remains compelling, as some of Stich’s concerns rest on a confusion, and those that do not are not sufficiently strong to establish all the conclusions he is after. The upshot is that no reason has been given to abandon the view that evolutionary theory has advanced the debate surrounding psychological altruism. (shrink)
This paper argues that the exclusion problem for mental causation can be solved by a variant of non-reductive physicalism that takes the mental not merely to supervene on, but to be grounded in, the physical. A grounding relation between events can be used to establish a principle that links the causal relations of grounded events to those of grounding events. Given this principle, mental events and their physical grounds either do not count as overdetermining physical effects, or they do so (...) in a way that is not objectionable. (shrink)
Previous studies suggest in line with dual process models that interoceptive skills affect controlled decisions via automatic or implicit processing. The “framing effect” is considered to capture implicit effects of task-irrelevant emotional stimuli on decision-making. We hypothesized that cardiac awareness, as a measure of interoceptive skills, is positively associated with susceptibility to the framing effect. Forty volunteers performed a risky-choice framing task in which the effect of loss versus gain frames on decisions based on identical information was assessed. The results (...) show a positive association between cardiac awareness and the framing effect, accounting for 24% of the variance in the framing effect. These findings demonstrate that good interoceptive skills are linked to poorer performance in risky choices based on ambivalent information when implicit bias is induced by task-irrelevant emotional information. These findings support a dual process perspective on decision-making and suggest that interoceptive skills mediate effects of implicit bias on decisions. (shrink)
Finding out why we have beliefs and desires is important for a thorough understanding of the nature of our minds (and those of other animals). It is therefore unsurprising that several accounts have been presented that are meant to answer this question. At least in the philosophical literature, the most widely accepted of these are due to Kim Sterelny and Peter Godfrey-Smith, who argue that beliefs and desires evolved due to their enabling us to be behaviourally flexible in a way (...) that reflexes do not—which, they claim, is beneficial in epistemically complex environments. However, as I try to make clear in this paper, upon closer consideration, this kind of account turns out to be theoretically implausible. In the main, this is because it fails to give due credit to the powers of reflex-driven organisms, which can in fact be just as flexible in their behaviour as ones that are belief/desire-driven. In order to improve on this account, I therefore propose that beliefs and desires evolved, not due to their enabling us to do something completely different from what reflexive organisms can do, but rather due to their enabling us to do the same things better. Specifically, I argue that beliefs and desires evolved for making the generation of behaviour more efficient, since they can simplify the necessary cognitive labour considerably. I end by considering various implications of this account. (shrink)
I critically assess two widely cited evolutionary biological arguments for two versions of the ‘Extended Mind Thesis’ (EMT): namely, an argument appealing to Dawkins’s ‘Extended Phenotype Thesis’ (EPT) and an argument appealing to ‘Developmental Systems Theory’ (DST). Specifically, I argue that, firstly, appealing to the EPT is not useful for supporting the EMT (in either version), as it is structured and motivated too differently from the latter to be able to corroborate or elucidate it. Secondly, I extend and defend Rupert’s (...) argument that DST also fails to support or elucidate the EMT (in either version) by showing that the considerations in favour of the former theory have no bearing on the truth of the latter. I conclude by noting that the relevance of this discussion goes beyond the debate surrounding the EMT, as it brings out some of the difficulties of introducing evolutionary biological considerations into debates in psychology and philosophy more generally. (shrink)
In this paper, a pragmatic approach to the phenomenon of free choice permission is proposed. Free choice permission is explained as due to taking the speaker (i) to obey certain Gricean maxims of conversation and (ii) to be competent on the deontic options, i.e. to know the valid obligations and permissions. The approach differs from other pragmatic approaches to free choice permission in giving a formally precise description of the class of inferences that can be derived based on these two (...) assumptions. This formalization builds on work of Halpern and Moses (1984) on the concept of ‘only knowing’, generalized by Hoek et al., (1999, 2000), and Zimmermann’s (2000) approach to competence. (shrink)
Indexical beliefs pose a special problem for standard theories of Bayesian updating. Sometimes we are uncertain about our location in time and space. How are we to update our beliefs in situations like these? In a stepwise fashion, I develop a constraint on the dynamics of indexical belief. As an application, the suggested constraint is brought to bear on the Sleeping Beauty problem.
In this paper, I argue that a natural selection-based perspective gives reasons for thinking that the core of the ability to mindread cognitively complex mental states is subserved by a simulationist process—that is, that it relies on nonspecialised mechanisms in the attributer's cognitive architecture whose primary function is the generation of her own decisions and inferences. In more detail, I try to establish three conclusions. First, I try to make clearer what the dispute between simulationist and non-simulationist theories of mindreading (...) fundamentally is about. Second, I try to make more precise an argument that is sometimes hinted at in support of the former: this 'argument from simplicity' suggests that, since natural selection disfavours building extra cognitive systems where this can be avoided, simulationist theories of mindreading are more in line with natural selection than their competitors. As stated, though, this argument overlooks the fact that building extra cognitive systems can also yield benefits: in particular, it can allow for the parallel processing of multiple problems and it makes for the existence of backups for important elements of the organism's mind. I therefore try to make this argument more precise by investigating whether these benefits also apply to the present case—and conclude negatively. My third aim in this paper is to use this discussion of mindreading as a means for exploring the promises and difficulties of evolutionary arguments in philosophy and psychology more generally. (shrink)
This paper deals with the truth conditions of conditional sentences. It focuses on a particular class of problematic examples for semantic theories for these sentences. I will argue that the examples show the need to refer to dynamic, in particular causal laws in an approach to their truth conditions. More particularly, I will claim that we need a causal notion of consequence. The proposal subsequently made uses a representation of causal dependencies as proposed in Pearl (2000) to formalize a causal (...) notion of consequence. This notion inserted in premise semantics for counterfactuals in the style of Veltman (1976) and Kratzer (1979) will provide a new interpretation rule for conditionals. I will illustrate how this approach overcomes problems of previous proposals and end with some remarks on remaining questions. (shrink)
The article is an extended comment on Strawson’s neglected paper ‘Maybes and Might Have Beens’, in which he suggests that both statements about what may be the case and statements about what might have been the case can be understood epistemically. We argue that Strawson is right about the first sort of statements but wrong about the second. Finally, we discuss some of Strawson’s claims which are related to positions of Origin Essentialism.
The pattern of credences we are inclined to assign to counterfactuals challenges standard accounts of counterfactuals. In response to this problem, the paper develops a semantics of counterfactuals in terms of the epsilon-operator. The proposed semantics stays close to the standard account: the epsilon-operator substitutes the universal quantifier present in standard semantics by arbitrarily binding the open world-variable. Various applications of the suggested semantics are explored including, in particular, an explanation of how the puzzling credences in counterfactuals come about.
This paper explores the possibility of supplementing the suppositional view of indicative conditionals with a corresponding view of epistemic modals. The most striking feature of the suppositional view consists in its claim that indicative conditionals are to be evaluated by conditional probabilities. On the basis of a natural link between indicative conditionals and epistemic modals, a corresponding thesis about the probabilities of statements governed by epistemic modals can be derived. The paper proceeds by deriving further consequences of this thesis, in (...) particular, the logic of epistemic modals and their logical interaction with indicative conditionals are studied. (shrink)
A number of scholars have recently defended the claim that there is a close connection between the evolutionary biological notion of fitness and the economic notion of utility: both are said to refer to an organism’s success in dealing with its environment, and both are said to play the same theoretical roles in their respective sciences. However, an analysis of two seemingly disparate but in fact structurally related phenomena—‘niche construction’ (the case where organisms change their environment to make it fit (...) to their needs) and ‘adaptive preferences’ (the case where agents change their wants to make them fit to what the world has given them)—shows that one needs to be very careful about the postulation of this sort of fitness–utility connection. Specifically, I here use the analysis of these two phenomena to establish when connecting fitness and utility is and is not possible. (shrink)
A key component of much current research in behavioral ecology, cognitive science, and economics is a model of the mind at least partly based on beliefs and desires. However, despite this prevalence, there are still many open questions concerning both the structure and the applicability of this model. This is especially so when it comes to its ‘desire’ part: in particular, it is not yet entirely clear when and why we should expect organisms to be desire-based—understood so as to imply (...) that they consult explicit tokenings of what they ought to do—as opposed to being drive-based—understood so as to imply that they react to the world using behavioral reflexes. In this paper, I present the beginnings of an answer to this question. To do this, I start by showing that an influential recent attempt to address these issues—due to Kim Sterelny—fails to be fully successful, as it does not make sufficiently clear what the relative benefits and disadvantages of drive-based and desire-based cognitive architectures are. I then present an alternative account of this matter based on the idea that organisms that can follow explicit behavioral rules avoid having to memorize a large set of state of the world–action connections—which can be adaptive. Finally, I apply this account to the question of what the cognitive value of mental representations should be seen to be; here, I conclude that—contrary to some recent claims—relying on mental representations can make decision making easier, not harder, but also that—in line with these recent claims—whether it does so depends on the details of the case. (shrink)
A possible event always seems to be more probable than an impossible event. Although this constraint, usually alluded to as regularity , is prima facie very attractive, it cannot hold for standard probabilities. Moreover, in a recent paper Timothy Williamson has challenged even the idea that regularity can be integrated into a comparative conception of probability by showing that the standard comparative axioms conflict with certain cases if regularity is assumed. In this note, we suggest that there is a natural (...) weakening of the standard comparative axioms. It is shown that these axioms are consistent both with the regularity condition and with the essential feature of Williamson’s example. (shrink)
Recently, Yalcin (Epistemic modals. Mind, 116 , 983–1026, 2007) put forward a novel account of epistemic modals. It is based on the observation that sentences of the form ‘ & Might ’ do not embed under ‘suppose’ and ‘if’. Yalcin concludes that such sentences must be contradictory and develops a notion of informational consequence which validates this idea. I will show that informational consequence is inadequate as an account of the logic of epistemic modals: it cannot deal with reasoning from (...) uncertain premises. Finally, I offer an alternative way of explaining the relevant linguistic data. (shrink)
The desideratum of semantic interoperability has been intensively discussed in medical informatics circles in recent years. Originally, experts assumed that this issue could be sufficiently addressed by insisting simply on the application of shared clinical terminologies or clinical information models. However, the use of the term ‘ontology’ has been steadily increasing more recently. We discuss criteria for distinguishing clinical ontologies from clinical terminologies and information models. Then, we briefly present the role clinical ontologies play in two multicentric research projects. Finally, (...) we discuss the interactions between these different kinds of knowledge representation artifacts and the stakeholders involved in developing interoperational real-world clinical applications. We provide ontology engineering examples from two EU-funded projects. (shrink)