We propose a novel interpretation of natural-language questions using a modal predicate logic of knowledge. Our approach brings standard model-theoretic and proof-theoretic techniques from modal logic to bear on questions. Using the former, we show that our interpretation preserves Groenendijk and Stokhof's answerhood relation, yet allows an extensional interpretation. Using the latter, we get a sound and complete proof procedure for the logic for free. Our approach is more expressive; for example, it easily treats complex questions with operators that scope (...) over questions. We suggest a semantic criterion that restricts what natural-language questions can express. We integrate and generalize much previous work on the semantics of questions, including Beck and Sharvit's families of subquestions, non-exhaustive questions, and multi-party conversations. (shrink)
In this paper we reexamine the question of whether questions areinherently intensional entities. We do so by proposing a novelextensional theory of questions, based on a re-interpretation of thedomain of t as a bilattice rather than the usual booleaninterpretation. We discuss the adequacy of our theory with respect tothe adequacy criteria imposed on the semantics of questionsby (Groenendijk and Stokhof 1997). We show that the theory is able to account in astraightforward manner for some complex issues in the semantics ofquestions (...) including coordinated questions, combined indicative andinterrogative sentences, questions with quantifiers, and theimpossibility of negating questions. (shrink)
The analysis in Partee (1984) of quantified sentences, introduced by a temporal connective, gives the wrong truth conditions when the connective is before or after. In this paper, we show how splitting the different roles of Reichenbach's reference time may be used in order to solve this problem. We further enhance the analogy between pronominal and temporal anaphora, by proposing an analog of plural NP-anaphora in the form of temporal anaphora involving multiple event antecedents and an analog of an E-type (...) analysis of pronouns in the analysis of quantified narrative discourse. (shrink)
Can we do justice in an unjust world? The obvious reply is that it is only because of injustice that we need to seek justice. But what about the way existing structures of injustice can also condition the results of our interventions? The attempt here to say something useful about this difficult question will focus on the progress achieved so far by the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. Is the use of such human rights instruments (...) in the fight against human trafficking a way of moving toward more global justice? Or is it another example of how many struggles against injustice are undone by continuing social, economic and political inequalities which, at best, this sort of approach is unable to tackle, and, at worst, actually help to reinforce? (shrink)
A "reading" of archival material on the Rani of Sirmur shows the soldiers and administrators of the East India Company constructing the object of representations that becomes the reality of India. The Rani emerges only when she is needed in the space of imperial production. Caught between the patriarchy of her husband, the Raja of Sirmur, and the imperialism of the British who deposed him, she is in an almost allegorical position. Both patriarchal subj ect- formation and imperialist (...) object-constitution efface the dubious place of the free will of the sexed subject as female. In the cracks between the production of the archives and indigenous patriarchy, today distanced by the waves of hegemonic "feminism," there is no "real Rani" to be found. (shrink)
In this book, Mumford and Anjum advance a theory of causation based on a metaphysics of powers. The book is for the most part lucidly written, and contains some interesting contributions: in particular on the necessary connection between cause and effect and on the perceivability of the causal relation. I do, however, have reservations about some of the book’s central theses: in particular, that cause and effect are simultaneous, and that causes can fruitfully be represented as vectors.
Causation is everywhere in the world: it features in every science and technology. But how much do we understand it? Mumford and Anjum develop a new theory of causation based on an ontology of real powers or dispositions. They provide the first detailed outline of a thoroughly dispositional approach, and explore its surprising features.
Evidence based medicine (EBM) is under critical debate, and person centered healthcare (PCH) has been proposed as an improvement. But is PCH offered as a supplement or as a replacement of EBM? Prima facie PCH only concerns the practice of medicine, while the contended features of EBM also include methods and medical model. I here argue that there are good philosophical reasons to see PCH as a radical alternative to the existing medical paradigm of EBM, since the two seem committed (...) to conflicting ontologies. This paper aims to make explicit some of the most fundamental assumptions that motivate EBM and PCH, respectively, in order to show that the choice between them ultimately comes down to ontological preference. While EBM has a solid foundation in positivism, or what I here call Humeanism, PCH is more consistent with causal dispositionalism. I conclude that if there is a paradigmatic revolution on the way in medicine, it is first of all one of ontology. (shrink)
We claim that if a complete philosophy of evidence-based practice is intended, then attention to the nature of causation in health science is necessary. We identify how health science currently conceptualises causation by the way it prioritises some research methods over others. We then show how the current understanding of what causation is serves to constrain scientific progress. An alternative account of causation is offered. This is one of dispositionalism. We claim that by understanding causation from a dispositionalist stance, many (...) of the processes within an evidence-based practice framework are better accounted for. Further, some of the problems associated with the health research, e.g. external validity of causal findings, dissolve. (shrink)
Hume thought that if you believed in powers, you believed in necessary connections in nature. He was then able to argue that there were none such because anything could follow anything else. But Hume wrong-footed his opponents. A power does not necessitate its manifestations: rather, it disposes towards them in a way that is less than necessary but more than purely contingent. -/- In this paper a dispositional theory of causation is offered. Causes dispose towards their effects and often produce (...) them. But a set of causes, even though they may succeed in producing an effect, cannot necessitate it since the effect could have been counteracted by some additional power. This would require a separation of our concepts of causal production and causal necessitation. The most conspicuous cases of causation are those where powers accumulate and pass a requisite threshold for an effect to occur. -/- We develop a model for representing powers as constituent vectors within an n-dimensional quality space, where composition of causes appears as vector addition. Even our resultant vector, however, has to be understood as having dispositional force only. This model throws new light on causal modality and cases of prevention, causation by absence and probabilistic causation. (shrink)
There has been much discussion of powers or real dispositions in the past decade, but there remains an issue that has been inadequately treated. This concerns the precise modal value that comes with dispositionality. We contend in this paper that dispositionality involves a non-alethic, sui generis, irreducible modality. Dispositions only tend towards their manifestations; they do not necessitate them. Tendency is, of course, a dispositional term itself, so this last statement offers little by way of illumination. But given our thesis (...) on the irreducible nature of dispositionality, we maintain that it cannot be explicated correctly in non-dispositional terms. Nevertheless, we all have experience of dispositionality at work, through the exercise or our own powers and the action of other powers upon us. The notion of dispositionality that we acquire is one that involves a modality stronger than pure contingency but weaker than necessity. The recognition of this distinct modal value for dispositionality is one of the biggest oversights in the growing literature in the area. Yet it is there for all to see in even the most mundane example. (shrink)
A standard way of representing causation is with neuron diagrams. This has become popular since the influential work of David Lewis. But it should not be assumed that such representations are metaphysically neutral and amenable to any theory of causation. On the contrary, this way of representing causation already makes several Humean assumptions about what causation is, and which suit Lewis’s programme of Humean Supervenience. An alternative of a vector diagram is better suited for a powers ontology. Causation should be (...) understood as connecting property types and tokens where there are dispositions towards some properties rather than others. Such a model illustrates how an effect is typically polygenous: caused by many powers acting with each other, and sometimes against each other. It models causation as a tendency towards an effect which can be counteracted. The model can represent cases of causal complexity, interference, over-determination and causation of absence (equilibrium). (shrink)
If one’s solution to the free will problem is in terms of real causal powers of agents then one ought to be an incompatibilist. Some premises are contentious but the following new argument for incompatibilism is advanced: 1. If causal determinism is true, all events are necessitated2. If all events are necessitated, then there are no powers3. Free will consists in the exercise of an agent’s powersTherefore, if causal determinism is true, there is no free will; which is to say (...) that free will is incompatible with determinism, so compatibilism is false. (shrink)
Medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) remain recalcitrant to the medical profession, proving less suitable for homogenic treatment with respect to their aetiology, taxonomy and diagnosis. While the majority of existing medical research methods are designed for large scale population data and sufficiently homogenous groups, MUS are characterised by their heterogenic and complex nature. As a result, MUS seem to resist medical scrutiny in a way that other conditions do not. This paper approaches the problem of MUS from a philosophical point of (...) view. The aim is to first consider the epistemological problem of MUS in a wider ontological and phenomenological context, particularly in relation to causation. Second, the paper links current medical practice to certain ontological assumptions. Finally, the outlines of an alternative ontology of causation are offered which place characteristic features of MUS, such as genuine complexity, context-sensitivity, holism and medical uniqueness at the centre of any causal set-up, and not only for MUS. This alternative ontology provides a framework in which to better understand complex medical conditions in relation to both their nature and their associated research activity. (shrink)
Does A cause B simply if A prevents what would have prevented B? Such a case is known as double prevention: where we have the prevention of a prevention. One theory of causation is that A causes B when B counterfactually depends on A and, as there is such a dependence, proponents of the view must rule that double prevention is causation.<br><br>However, if double prevention is causation, it means that causation can be an extrinsic matter, that the cause and effect (...) need not be connected by a continuous chain of events, that there can be causation by absence, and that there can be causation at a distance. All of these implications jar with strong intuitions we have about the nature of causation. There is, on the other hand, a theory of causation based on an ontology of real dispositions, where causation involves the passing around of powers. This theory in contrast entails that double prevention is not causation and, on this issue, it can claim a victory over the counterfactual dependence account. (shrink)
The material interpretation of conditionals is commonly recognized as involving some paradoxical results. I here argue that the truth functional approach to natural language is the reason for the inadequacy of this material interpretation, since the truth or falsity of some pair of statements ‘p’ and ‘q’ cannot per se be decisive for the truth or falsity of a conditional relation ‘if p then q’. This inadequacy also affects the ability of the overall formal system to establish whether or not (...) arguments involving conditionals are valid. I also demonstrate that the Paradox of Indicative Conditionals does not actually involve a paradox, but instead contains some paralogistic elements that make it appear to be a paradox. The discussion of the paradox in this paper further reveals that the material interpretation of conditionals adversely affects the treatment of disjunctions. -/- Much has been said about these matters in the literature that point in the same direction. However, there seems to be some reluctance against fully complying with the arguments against the truth functional account of conditionals, since many of the alternative accounts rely on the material conditional, or at least on an understanding of the conditional as a function of antecedent and consequent in a similar sense as the material conditional. My argument against truth functionality indicates that it may in general involve similar problems to treat conditionals as such functions, whether one deals with theories of truth, assertability or probability. (shrink)
Grice argues that indicative conditionals ‘if p then q’ have conventional, truth conditional meaning according to the material conditional ‘p q’. In order to explain away the known paradoxes with this interpretation, he distinguishes between truth conditions and assertion conditions, attempting to demonstrate that the assumed connection between ‘p’ and ‘q’ (the Indirectness Condition) is a conversational implicature; hence a matter only relevant for the assertion conditions of a conditional. This paper argues that Grice fails to demonstrate i) that (...) the Indirectness Condition is cancellable, hence a conversational implicature, ii) that the Indirectness Condition is not part of the conventional, truth-relevant meaning of ‘if’, and accordingly, iii) semantic or logical equivalence between indicative and material conditionals. (shrink)
The results of sport would not interest us if either they were necessitated or they were a matter of pure chance. And if either case were true, the playing of sport would seem to make no sense either. This poses a dilemma. But there is something between these two options, namely the dispositional modality. Sporting prowess can be understood as a disposition towards victory and sporting liabilities a disposition towards defeat. The sporting contest then pits these net prowesses against each (...) other. The stronger will tend to beat the weaker but no more than tend. This makes sense of the sporting contest in which the weaker knows they still can win. The stronger team can lose though they do not tend to do so. The dilemma is thus escaped. (shrink)
This paper argues that the technical notion of conditional probability, as given by the ratio analysis, is unsuitable for dealing with our pretheoretical and intuitive understanding of both conditionality and probability. This is an ontological account of conditionals that include an irreducible dispositional connection between the antecedent and consequent conditions and where the conditional has to be treated as an indivisible whole rather than compositional. The relevant type of conditionality is found in some well-defined group of conditional statements. As an (...) alternative, therefore, we briefly offer grounds for what we would call an ontological reading: for both conditionality and conditional probability in general. It is not offered as a fully developed theory of conditionality but can be used, we claim, to explain why calculations according to the RATIO scheme does not coincide with our intuitive notion of conditional probability. What it shows us is that for an understanding of the whole range of conditionals we will need what John Heil (2003), in response to Quine (1953), calls an ontological point of view. (shrink)
The truth functional account of conditional statements ‘if A then B’ is not only inadequate; it eliminates the very conditionality expressed by ‘if’. Focusing only on the truth-values of the statements ‘A’ and ‘B’ and different combinations of these, one is bound to miss out on the conditional relation expressed between them. All approaches that treat conditionals as functions of their antecedents and consequents will end up in some sort of logical atomism where causal matters simply are reduced to the (...) joint occurrence of A and B. (shrink)
Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum have recently attacked causal necessitarianism – the doctrine that causes necessitate their effects – on the grounds that causation does not survive what they describe as the test of antecedent strengthening. This article shows that there are credible conditional logics which do not sanction this test, thereby providing an escape route for proponents of causal necessitarianism from Mumford and Anjum's argument.
In this paper a dispositional account of meaning is offered. Words might dispose towards a particular or ‘literal’ meaning, but whether this meaning is actually conveyed when expressed will depend on a number of factors, such as speaker’s intentions, the context of the utterance and the background knowledge of the hearer. It is thus argued that no meaning is guaranteed or necessitated by the words used.