A number of recent authors (Galles and Pearl, Found Sci 3 (1):151–182, 1998; Hiddleston, Noûs 39 (4):232–257, 2005; Halpern, J Artif Intell Res 12:317–337, 2000) advocate a causal modeling semantics for counterfactuals. But the precise logical significance of the causal modeling semantics remains murky. Particularly important, yet particularly under-explored, is its relationship to the similarity-based semantics for counterfactuals developed by Lewis (Counterfactuals. Harvard University Press, 1973b). The causal modeling semantics is both an account of the truth conditions of counterfactuals, and (...) an account of which inferences involving counterfactuals are valid. As an account of truth conditions, it is incomplete. While Lewis's similarity semantics lets us evaluate counterfactuals with arbitrarily complex antecedents and consequents, the causal modeling semantics makes it hard to ascertain the truth conditions of all but a highly restricted class of counterfactuals. I explain how to extend the causal modeling language to encompass a wider range of sentences, and provide a sound and complete axiomatization for the extended language. Extending the truth conditions for counterfactuals has serious consequences concerning valid inference. The extended language is unlike any logic of Lewis's: modus ponens is invalid, and classical logical equivalents cannot be freely substituted in the antecedents of conditionals. (shrink)
Diachronic Dutch book arguments seem to support both conditionalization and Bas van Fraassen's Reflection principle. But the Reflection principle is vulnerable to numerous counterexamples. This essay addresses two questions: first, under what circumstances should an agent obey Reflection, and second, should the counterexamples to Reflection make us doubt the Dutch book for conditionalization? In response to the first question, this essay formulates a new "Qualified Reflection" principle, which states that an agent should obey Reflection only if he or she is (...) certain that he or she will conditionalize on veridical evidence in the future. Qualified Reflection follows from the probability calculus together with a few idealizing assumptions. The essay then formulates a "Distorted Reflection" principle that approximates Reflection even in cases where the agent is not quite certain that he or she will conditionalize on veridical evidence. In response to the second question, the essay argues that contrary to a common misconception, not all Dutch books dramatize incoherence—some dramatize a less blameworthy sort of epistemic frailty that the essay calls "self-doubt." The distinction between Dutch books that dramatize incoherence and those that dramatize self-doubt cross-cuts the distinction between synchronic and diachronic Dutch books. The essay explains why the Dutch book for conditionalization reveals true incoherence, whereas the Dutch book for Reflection reveals only self-doubt. (shrink)
Growing-Block theorists hold that past and present things are real, while future things do not yet exist. This generates a puzzle: how can Growing-Block theorists explain the fact that some sentences about the future appear to be true? Briggs and Forbes develop a modal ersatzist framework, on which the concrete actual world is associated with a branching-time structure of ersatz possible worlds. They then show how this branching structure might be used to determine the truth values of future contingents. They (...) point out three different ways of interpreting the logical connectives, which give rise to three different logics of the open future: one supervaluationist, one corresponding to Lukasiewicz's strong Kleene logic, and one intuitionist. (shrink)
Risk-weighted expected utility theory permits preferences which violate the Sure-Thing Principle. But preferences that violate the STP can lead to bad decisions in sequential choice problems. In particular, they can lead decision-makers to adopt a strategy that is dominated – i.e. a strategy such that some available alternative leads to a better outcome in every possible state of the world.
It is a platitude among decision theorists that agents should choose their actions so as to maximize expected value. But exactly how to define expected value is contentious. Evidential decision theory (henceforth EDT), causal decision theory (henceforth CDT), and a theory proposed by Ralph Wedgwood that this essay will call benchmark theory (BT) all advise agents to maximize different types of expected value. Consequently, their verdicts sometimes conflict. In certain famous cases of conflict—medical Newcomb problems—CDT and BT seem to get (...) things right, while EDT seems to get things wrong. In other cases of conflict, including some recent examples suggested by Andy Egan, EDT and BT seem to get things right, while CDT seems to get things wrong. In still other cases, EDT and CDT seems to get things right, while BT gets things wrong. It's no accident, this essay claims, that all three decision theories are subject to counterexamples. Decision rules can be reinterpreted as voting rules, where the voters are the agent's possible future selves. The problematic examples have the structure of voting paradoxes. Just as voting paradoxes show that no voting rule can do everything we want, decision-theoretic paradoxes show that no decision rule can do everything we want. Luckily, the so-called “tickle defense” establishes that EDT, CDT, and BT will do everything we want in a wide range of situations. Most decision situations, this essay argues, are analogues of voting situations in which the voters unanimously adopt the same set of preferences. In such situations, all plausible voting rules and all plausible decision rules agree. (shrink)
I propose an account truthmaking that provides truthmakers for negative truths. The account replaces Truthmaker Necessitarianism with a "Duplication Principle", according to which a suitable entity T is a truthmaker for a proposition P just in case the existence of an appropriate counterpart of T entails the truth of P, where the counterpart relation is cashed out in terms of qualitative duplication. My account captures an intuitive notion of truthmakers as "things the way they are", validates two appealing principles about (...) entailment and containment proposed by David Armstrong, and invalidates the controversial Disjunction Thesis. (shrink)
Tracking accounts of knowledge formulated in terms of counterfactuals suffer from well known problems. Examples are provided, and it is shown that moving to a dispositional tracking theory of knowledge avoids three of these problems.
I consider an old problem for preference satisfaction theories of wellbeing: that they have trouble answering questions about interpersonal comparisons, such as whether I am better off than you are, or whether a particular policy benefits me more than it benefits you. I argue that a similar problem arises for intrapersonal comparisons in cases of transformative experience. I survey possible solutions to the problem, and point out some subtle disanalogies between the problem involving interpersonal comparisons and the problem involving transformative (...) experience. (shrink)
This article surveys several interrelated issues in the metaphysics of chance. First, what is the relationship between the probabilities associated with types of trials (for instance, the chance that a twenty‐eight‐year old develops diabetes before age thirty) and the probabilities associated with individual token trials (for instance, the chance that I develop diabetes before age thirty)? Second, which features of the the world fix the chances: are there objective chances at all, and if so, are there non‐chancy facts on which (...) they supervene? Third, can chance be reconciled with determinism, and if so, how? (shrink)
The foundations of probability are viewed through the lens of the subjectivist interpretation. This article surveys conditional probability, arguments for probabilism, probability dynamics, and the evidential and subjective interpretations of probability.
David Lewis’s ‘Humean Supervenience’ (henceforth ‘HS’) combines realism about laws, chances, and dispositions with a sparse ontology according to which everything supervenes on the overall spatiotemporal distribution of non-dispositional properties (Lewis 1986a, Philosophical papers: Volume II, pp. ix–xvii, New York: Oxford Univesity Press, 1994, Mind 103:473–490). HS faces a serious problem—a “big bad bug” (Lewis 1986a, p. xiv): it contradicts the Principal Principle, a seemingly obvious norm of rational credence. Two authors have tried to rescue Lewis’s ontology from the ‘big (...) bad bug’ (henceforth ‘the Bug’) by rejecting realism about laws, chances, and dispositions (Halpin 1994, Aust J Phil 72:317–338, 1998, Phil Sci 65:349–360; Ward 2005, Phil Sci 71:241–261). I will argue that this strategy cannot possibly work: it is the ontology, not the realist thesis, that lies at the root of the problem. (shrink)
Philosophers often talk about the things we say, or believe, or think, or mean. The things are often called ‘propositions’. A proposition is what one believes, or thinks, or means when one believes, thinks, or means something. Talk about propositions is ubiquitous when philosophers turn their gaze to language, meaning and thought. But what are propositions? Is there a single class of things that serve as the objects of belief, the bearers of truth, and the meanings of utterances? How do (...) our utterances express propositions? Under what conditions do two speakers say the same thing, and what (if anything) does this tell us about the nature of propositions? There is no consensus on these questions—or even on whether propositions should be treated as things at all. During the second Propositions and Same-Saying workshop, which took place on July 19–21 2010 at the University of Sydney, philosophers debated these (and related) questions. The workshop covered topics in the philosophy of language, perception, and metaphysics. The present volume contains revised and expanded versions of the papers presented at the workshop. (shrink)
One of the standard approaches to the metaphysics of personal identity has some counter‐intuitive ethical consequences when combined with maximising consequentialism and a plausible (though not uncontroversial) doctrine about aggregation of consequences. This metaphysical doctrine is the so‐called ‘multiple occupancy’ approach to puzzles about fission and fusion. It gives rise to a new version of the ‘utility monster’ problem, particularly difficult problems about infinite utility, and a new version of a Parfit‐style ‘repugnant conclusion’. While the article focuses on maximising consequentialism (...) for simplicity, the problems demonstrated apply more widely to a range of ethical views, especially flavours of consequentialism. This article demonstrates how these problems arise, and discusses a number of options available in the light of these problems for a consequentialist tempted by a multiple occupancy metaphysics. (shrink)
David Lewis claimed that deterministic chance was impossible. But deterministic chance seems ubiquitous in casinos, in statistical mechanics, and in evolutionary theory. It would be best for Lewis's metaphysics if, in spite of what he says, we could reconcile his core views with deterministic chance. In this chapter, the author briefly rebuts two Lewisian objections to deterministic chance. The first is that our world is indeterministic at the quantum level, and this lower‐level indeterminism translates to indeterminism at higher levels. The (...) chapter explains how deterministic chances are possible on a broadly Lewisian theory. It also explains how there can be deterministic chances that function as nomological magnitudes, guide credence, and arise in objectively chancy situations. It is true that the author's deterministic chances are not time‐indexed. It is also true that they do not exactly satisfy principles, proposed by Lewis and others in a broadly Lewisian tradition, that presuppose time‐indexing. (shrink)
We reply to recent papers by John Turri and Ben Bronner, who criticise the dispositionalised Nozickian tracking account we discuss in “Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know.” We argue that the account we suggested can handle the problems raised by Turri and Bronner. In the course of responding to Turri and Bronner’s objections, we draw three general lessons for theories of epistemic dispositions: that epistemic dispositions are to some extent extrinsic, that epistemic dispositions can have manifestation conditions concerning circumstances where (...) their bearers fail to exist, and that contrast is relevant to disposition attributions. (shrink)