This paper argues against evidential decision-theory, by showing that the newest responses to its biggest current problem – the medical Newcomb problems – don’t work. The latest approach is described, and the arguments of two main proponents of it – Huw Price and CR Hitchcock – clearly distinguished and examined. It is argued that since neither new defence is successful, causation remains essential to understanding means-end agency.
Plural predication is a pervasive part of ordinary language. We can say that some people are fifty in number, are surrounding a building, come from many countries, and are classmates. These predicates can be true of some people without being true of any one of them; they are non-distributive predications. However, the apparatus of modern logic does not allow a place for them. Thomas McKay here explores the enrichment of logic with non-distributive plural predication and quantification. His book will (...) be of great interest to philosophers of language, linguists, metaphysicians, and logicians. (shrink)
McKay & Dennett (M&D) suggest that some positive illusions are adaptive. But there is a bidirectional link between memory and positive illusions: Biased autobiographical memories filter incoming information, and self-enhancing information is preferentially attended and used to update memory. Extending M&D's approach, I ask if certain false memories might be adaptive, defending a broad view of the psychosocial functions of remembering.
Most human beliefs are acquired through communication, and so are most misbeliefs. Just like the misbeliefs discussed by McKay & Dennett (M&D), culturally transmitted misbeliefs tend to result from limitations rather than malfunctions of the mechanisms that produce them, and few if any can be argued to be adaptations. However, the mechanisms involved, the contents, and the hypothetical adaptive value tend to be specific to the cultural case.
Inducing religious thoughts increases prosocial behavior among strangers in anonymous contexts. These effects can be explained both by behavioral priming processes as well as by reputational mechanisms. We examine whether belief in moralizing supernatural agents supplies a case for what McKay & Dennett (M&D) call evolved misbelief, concluding that they might be more persuasively seen as an example of culturally evolved misbelief.
McKay & Dennett's (M&D's) description of beliefs, and misbeliefs in particular, is a commendable contribution to the literature; but we argue that referring to beliefs as adaptive or maladaptive can cause conceptual confusion. is inconsistently defined in the article, which adds to confusion and renders it difficult to evaluate the claims, particularly the possibility of.
From an evolutionary standpoint, a default presumption is that true beliefs are adaptive and misbeliefs maladaptive. But if humans are biologically engineered to appraise the world accurately and to form true beliefs, how are we to explain the routine exceptions to this rule? How can we account for mistaken beliefs, bizarre delusions, and instances of self-deception? We explore this question in some detail. We begin by articulating a distinction between two general types of misbelief: those resulting from a breakdown in (...) the normal functioning of the belief formation system (e.g., delusions) and those arising in the normal course of that system's operations (e.g., beliefs based on incomplete or inaccurate information). The former are instances of biological dysfunction or pathology, reflecting limitations of evolutionary design. Although the latter category includes undesirable (but tolerable) by-products of limited design, our quarry is a contentious subclass of this category: misbeliefs best conceived as design features. Such misbeliefs, unlike occasional lucky falsehoods, would have been systematically adaptive in the evolutionary past. Such misbeliefs, furthermore, would not be reducible to judicious action policies. Finally, such misbeliefs would have been adaptive in themselves, constituting more than mere by-products of adaptively biased misbelief-producing systems. We explore a range of potential candidates for evolved misbelief, and conclude that, of those surveyed, only positive illusions meet our criteria. (shrink)
Does the formation of delusions involve abnormal reasoning? According to the prominent ‘two-factor’ theory of delusions (e.g. Coltheart, 2007), the answer is yes. The second factor in this theory is supposed to affect a deluded individual's ability to evaluate candidates for belief. However, most published accounts of the two-factor theory have not said much about the nature of this second factor. In an effort to remedy this shortcoming, Coltheart, Menzies and Sutton (2010) recently put forward a Bayesian account of inference (...) in delusions. I outline some criticisms of this important account, and sketch an alternative account of delusional inference that, I argue, avoids these criticisms. Specifically, I argue that the second factor in delusion formation involves a systematic deviation from Bayesian updating, a deviation that may be characterized as a bias towards ‘explanatory adequacy’. I present a numerical model of this idea and show that my alternative account is broadly consistent with prominent prediction error models of delusion formation (e.g. Corlett, Murray et al., 2007). (shrink)
Von Hippel & Trivers (VH&T) propose that self-deception has evolved to facilitate the deception of others. However, they ignore the subjective moral costs of deception and the crucial issue of credibility in self-deceptive speech. A self-signaling interpretation can account for the ritualistic quality of some self-deceptive affirmations and for the often-noted gap between what self-deceivers say and what they truly believe.
Young and colleagues . Betwixt life and death: case studies of the Cotard delusion. In P. W. Halligan & J. C. Marshall , Method in madness: Case studies in cognitive neuropsychiatry. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.) have suggested that cases of the Cotard delusion result when a particular perceptual anomaly occurs in the context of an internalising attributional style. This hypothesis has not previously been tested directly. We report here an investigation of attributional style in a 24-year-old woman with Cotard (...) delusion . LU’s attributional style was assessed using the Internal, Personal and Situational Attributions Questionnaire . A new measure of causal locus: the internal, personal and situational attributions questionnaire. Personality and Individual Differences, 20, 261–264.). LU showed a significantly greater proportion of internalising attributions than the control group, both overall and for negative events specifically. The results obtained thus support an association of Cotard delusion with an internalising attributional style, and are therefore consistent with the account of Young and colleagues. The potential brain basis of Cotard delusion is discussed. (shrink)
Efforts to identify antecedents of employee turnover are likely to offer value to organizations through money saved on recruitment and new-hire training. The authors utilized the stakeholder perspective to corporate social responsibility to examine the effects of a perceived climate for ethics on the relationship between diversity climate and voluntary turnover intentions. Specifically, they examined how ethics climate (employees' perceptions that their organization values and enforces ethically correct behavior) affected the diversity climate-turnover intentions relationship. Results indicated that ethics climate moderated (...) the diversity climateturnover intentions relationship. Turnover intentions were lowest among workers perceiving both a prodiversity and highly ethical climate. These results reinforce the need to communicate both diversity values and ethical standards to employees. (shrink)
Anyone who admits the existence of composite objects allows a certain kind of coincidence, coincidence of a thing with its parts. I argue here that a similar sort of coincidence, coincidence of a thing with the stuff that constitutes it, should be equally acceptable. Acknowledgement of this is enough to solve the traditional problem of the coincidence of a statue and the clay or bronze it is made of. In support of this, I offer some principles for the persistence of (...) stuff that are general, not relying on the particular features of a kind of stuff in the way that principles for the persistence for a thing would. This provides a non-arbitrary grounding for stuff that is independent of the conditions on the nature and persistence of things the stuff composes. The principles also provide a general basis for responding to other questions about coincident stuff. (shrink)
This paper discusses the ecological case for epistemic innocence: does biased cognition have evolutionary benefits, and if so, does that exculpate human reasoners from irrationality? Proponents of ‘ecological rationality’ have challenged the bleak view of human reasoning emerging from research on biases and fallacies. If we approach the human mind as an adaptive toolbox, tailored to the structure of the environment, many alleged biases and fallacies turn out to be artefacts of narrow norms and artificial set-ups. However, we argue that (...) putative demonstrations of ecological rationality involve subtle locus shifts in attributions of rationality, conflating the adaptive rationale of heuristics with our own epistemic credentials. By contrast, other cases also involve an ecological reframing of human reason, but do not involve such problematic locus shifts. We discuss the difference between these cases, bringing clarity to the rationality debate. (shrink)
The impact of our desires and preferences upon our ordinary, everyday beliefs is well-documented [Gilovich, T. . How we know what isn’t so: The fallibility of human reason in everyday life. New York: The Free Press.]. The influence of such motivational factors on delusions, which are instances of pathological misbelief, has tended however to be neglected by certain prevailing models of delusion formation and maintenance. This paper explores a distinction between two general classes of theoretical explanation for delusions; the motivational (...) and the deficit. Motivational approaches view delusions as extreme instances of self-deception; as defensive attempts to relieve pain and distress. Deficit approaches, in contrast, view delusions as the consequence of defects in the normal functioning of belief mechanisms, underpinned by neuroanatomical or neurophysiological abnormalities. It is argued that although there are good reasons to be sceptical of motivational theories , recent experiments confirm that motives are important causal forces where delusions are concerned. It is therefore concluded that the most comprehensive account of delusions will involve a theoretical unification of both motivational and deficit approaches. (shrink)
A large amount of research in cognitive psychology is focused on memory distortions, understood as deviations from various (largely implicit) standards. Many alleged distortions actually suggest a highly functional system that balances the cost of acquiring new information with the benefit of relevant, contextually appropriate decision-making. In this sense many memories may be examples of functionally adaptive misbelief.
In the light of increasing public mistrust, there is an urgent need to clarify the moral status of the medical profession and of the relationship of the clinician to his/her patients. In addressing this question, I first establish the coherence, within moral philosophy generally, of the concept of supererogation . I adopt the notion of an act of “unqualified” supererogation as one that is non-derivatively good, praiseworthy, and freely undertaken for others' benefit at the risk of some cost to the (...) agent. I then argue that committing oneself to the profession of clinical medicine is an act of this kind. This is the case, not because the aim of medicine is to help patients, but because of the open ended commitment of time and the vulnerability to the consequences of failure that the clinician must accept. (shrink)
Mesoudi et al. overlook an illuminating parallel between cultural and biological evolution, namely, the existence in each realm of a continuum from intelligent, mindful evolution through to oblivious, mindless evolution. In addition, they underplay the independence of cultural fitness from biological fitness. The assumption that successful cultural traits enhance genetic fitness must be sidelined, as must the assumption that such traits will at least be considered worth having. (Published Online November 9 2006).
This paper examines ethical concerns of the utilitarian paradigm, the greatest good for the greatest number, advocated by many proponents and consultants in siting landfills. The implications of the consequentialist utilitarian approach are considered through the examination of a landfill-site-search case study in Ontario, Canada. Limitations to such an approach, in terms of differing values, equal consideration, equitable participation, distributive justice and the emphasis on non-quantifiable factors are discussed. Recommendations to improve the process are made based on the ethical analysis (...) of the case study. (shrink)
I argue that contemporary philosophy of language in the analytic tradition rests on two fundamentally wrong assumptions: empiricism and externalism. After I show why these two assumptions are incorrect, I turn my attention to biological rationalism. Biological rationalism—a research program inspired by the work of Noam Chomsky—is committed to nativism and internalism. I believe biological rationalism provides the best framework to achieve a genuine understanding of language. I try to show this by considering the biological rationalist answers to major problems (...) in philosophy of language. (shrink)
Astrobiologists are aware that extraterrestrial life might differ from known life, and considerable thought has been given to possible signatures associated with weird forms of life on other planets. So far, however, very little attention has been paid to the possibility that our own planet might also host communities of weird life. If life arises readily in Earth-like conditions, as many astrobiologists contend, then it may well have formed many times on Earth itself, which raises the question whether one or (...) more shadow biospheres have existed in the past or still exist today. In this paper, we discuss possible signatures of weird life and outline some simple strategies for seeking evidence of a shadow biosphere. Key Words: Weird life—Multiple origins of life—Biogenesis—Biomarkers—Extremophiles—Alternative biochemistry. Astrobiology 9, 241–249. (shrink)
Public access to the commons is often restricted, thus leading to implicit regulations. This is relevant toward spatial systems, as an important geographical issue is access to various sites over space, and this paper presents varying degrees of accessibility in different places. There is a dialectic struggle to enhance access to the commons as a fundamental right of the public, with the need to balance tourism and recreational uses of coastal resources with conservation and preservation eff orts. This paper will (...) aid policy makers and those concerned with beach access in Connecticut better understand the nature and complexity of how citizens and officials within coastal municipalities have come to perceive, in a collective sense, their beaches/ municipal parks as common property resources to be utilized for recreational purposes while balancing environmental conservation efforts simultaneously. Various legal frameworks, as well as federal and state efforts in coastal zones in key states, in addition to historically recent court cases in Connecticut resulting in legal enhancements toward increasing public access to nonresidents of specific municipalities, have shaped who can and who cannot access the commons. (shrink)
The radical evolutionary step that divides human decision-making from that of nonhumans is the ability to excite the reward process for its own sake, in imagination. Combined with hyperbolic over-valuation of the present, this ability is a potential threat to both the individual's long term survival and the natural selection of high intelligence. Human belief is intrinsically or under-founded, which may or may not be adaptive.
This paper mentions several different sorts of "essentialism," and examines various senses in which quantified modal logic is "committed to" the most troublesome kind of essentialism. It is argued that essentialism is neither provable, Nor entailed by any contingently true non-Modal sentence. But quantified modal logic is committed to the meaningfulness of essentialism. This sort of commitment may be made innocuous by requiring that essentialism simply be made logically false; some of the consequences of taking this line are explored.