Stefano Predelli explores the relationships between semantic notions of meaning and truth. He develops a 'Theory of Bias' in order to approach notorious semantic problems, offers a solution to Quine's 'Giorgione' puzzle and a new version of the demonstrative theory quotation, and defends a bare-boned approach to demonstratives and demonstrations.
This essay examines the French reception of the Carl Schmitt's thought, specifically its Hegelian strand. Beginning with the early readings of Schmitt's thought by Alexandre Kojève and Georges Bataille during the mid-1930s, it attends to the partial adoption of Schmitt's friend/enemy distinction and his theories of sovereignty and neutralization in Kojève and Bataille's Hegelian writings, as well as to their critical responses. The essay then turns to examine the reading of Kojève by the Jesuit Hegelian résistant Gaston Fessard during the (...) war, a reading specifically intended to delegitimate Vichy as a “slave-prince,” resistance to whom would be legitimate. The final section returns to Bataille and his 1948 book The Accursed Share in order to propose that his Maussian understanding of the Marshall Plan suggested an overcoming of the friend/enemy distinction, a suggestion that was later made explicit in a 1957 talk by Kojève at Düsseldorf before Schmitt and a group of his supporters. At stake throughout are both the thoroughly critical reception of Schmitt, the particular political inflection of Hegel carried out by and in Kojève's reading, and certain methodological links between conceptual history and the reception history. (shrink)
Stefano Predelli comes to the defense of the traditional "formal" approach to natural-language semantics, arguing that it has been misrepresented not only by its critics, but also by its foremost defenders. In Contexts he offers a fundamental reappraisal, with particular attention to the treatment of indexicality and other forms of contextual dependence which have been the focus of much recent controversy. In the process, he presents original approaches to a number of important semantic issues, including the relationship between validity (...) and indexicality, the limits of token-reflexive systems, the significance of contextualist arguments, and the interpretation of attitude reports. Contexts will make invigorating reading for all philosophers of language and many linguists. (shrink)
This book explores what it means to exist in virtual worlds. Chiefly drawing on the philosophical traditions of existentialism, it articulates the idea that — by means of our technical equipment and coordinated practices — human beings disclose contexts or worlds in which they can perceive, feel, act, and think. More specifically, this book discusses how virtual worlds allow human beings to take new perspectives on their values and beliefs, and explore previously unexperienced ways of being. Virtual Existentialism will be (...) useful for scholars working in the fields of philosophy, anthropology, media studies, and digital game studies. (shrink)
In current philosophical discussions on evidence in the medical sciences, epidemiology has been used to exemplify a specific version of evidential pluralism. According to this view, known as the Russo–Williamson Thesis, evidence of both difference-making and mechanisms is produced to make causal claims in the health sciences. In this paper, I present an analysis of data and evidence in epidemiological practice, with a special focus on research on the exposome, and I cast doubt on the extent to which evidential pluralism (...) holds in this case. I start by focusing on the claim that molecular data allows for the production of mechanistic evidence. On the basis of a close look at the ways in which molecular data is used in exposome research, I caution against interpretations in terms of mechanistic evidence. Secondly, I expand my critical remarks on the thesis by addressing the conditions under which data is categorised as evidence in exposome research. I argue that these show that the classification of a dataset as a type of evidence is dependent on the ways in which the data is used. This is in contrast with the approach of evidential pluralism, where evidence is classified in different types on the basis of its intrinsic properties. Finally, I come back to what I consider the core of the thesis and suggest that the epidemiological research analysed in the paper indicates different interpretations of evidential pluralism and its applicability in the health sciences. (shrink)
Stefano Predelli defends a semantics of proper names which has simplicity and common sense in its favour: proper names are non-indexical devices of rigid and direct reference. He grounds this view in accounts of the shape and form of names, and of their introduction within language use, and he responds to widespread misconceptions and objections.
Trail-And-Error machines have been proposed by Hintikka and Mutanen as an alternative formulation of the notion of computation. These machines extend the capabilities of the Turing machine and widen the theory of computation.
Believing that the enterprise of constructing "artificial intelligence" transcends the bounds of any one discipline, the editors of Mechanical Bodies, Computational Minds have brought together researchers in AI and scholars in the humanities to reexamine the fundamental assumptions of both areas. The AI community, for example, could benefit from explorations of human intelligence and creativity by philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists, literary critics, and others, while analysis of AI's theoretical struggles and technical advances could yield insights into such traditional humanist concerns as (...) the nature of rationality and the mind-body dichotomy.The contributions include a continuation of the famous Hubert Dreyfus-Daniel Dennett debate over Kasparov's defeat by IBM's Deep Blue; Philip Agre's tracing of difficulties in AI research to the inherited tensions of Cartesian dualism; Evelyn Fox Keller's examination of the development of computer technology in relation to biology; Douglas Hofstadter's argument that thinking is more than the theorem-solving activities of AI; and Alison Adam's discussion of the implicitly male universal subject used in AI. (shrink)
The book brings into relief the variety of approaches and disciplines that have informed the quest for a theory of cognition. The center of interest are the historical, geographical, and theoretical peripheries of classic AI's mainstream research program. The twelve chapters bring back into focus the variety of strategies and theoretical questions that researchers explored while working toward a scientific theory of cognition and pre-cognition.The volume is organized in four parts, each one including three essays. The first one deals with (...) cybernetics, the approach that may be considered as the most important periphery of classic AI research. The second part focuses on the geographical periphery of AI research. It examines how the theories and techniques developed on AI's home ground were translated into countries with different cultures and traditions: Italy, France, and the Soviet Union. The third part focuses on AI's periphery understood in the cultural and historical meaning of the term. It contains essays that locate some of the central concepts of AI, like representation and computability, within a broader philosophical and technical background . The fourth and final part of the volume is focused directly on the limitation of Turing's classic computability theory and its possible alternatives, some of which were studied in the early years of AI's research , while others have been intensely studied in recent times. (shrink)
In this paper, we analyse the relation between the use of environmental data in contemporary health sciences and related conceptualisations and operationalisations of the notion of environment. We consider three case studies that exemplify a different selection of environmental data and mode of data integration in data-intensive epidemiology. We argue that the diversiﬁcation of data sources, their increase in scale and scope, and the application of novel analytic tools have brought about three signiﬁcant conceptual shifts. First, we discuss the EXPOsOMICS (...) project, an attempt to integrate genomic and environmental data which suggests a reframing of the boundaries between external and internal environments. Second, we explore the MEDMI platform, whose efforts to combine health, environmental and climate data instantiate a reframing and expansion of environmental exposure. Third, we illustrate how extracting epidemiological insights from extensive social data collected by the CIDACS institute yields innovative attributions of causal power to environmental factors. Identifying these shifts highlights the beneﬁts and opportunities of new environmental data, as well as the challenges that such tools bring to understanding and fostering health. It also emphasises the constraints that data selection and accessibility pose to scientiﬁc imagination, including how researchers frame key concepts in health-related research. (shrink)
This article explores whether and under which circumstances it is ethically viable to include artificial beings worthy of moral consideration in virtual environments. In particular, the article focuses on virtual environments such as those in digital games and training simulations – interactive and persistent digital artifacts designed to fulfill specific purposes, such as entertainment, education, training, or persuasion. The article introduces the criteria for moral consideration that serve as a framework for this analysis. Adopting this framework, the article tackles the (...) question of whether including artificial intelligences that are entitled to moral consideration in virtual environments constitutes an immoral action on the part of human creators. To address this problem, the article draws on three conceptual lenses from the philosophical branch of ethics: the problem of parenthood and procreation, the question concerning the moral status of animals, and the classical problem of evil. Using a thought experiment, the concluding section proposes a contractualist answer to the question posed in this article. The same section also emphasizes the potential need to reframe our understanding of the design of virtual environments and their future stakeholders. (shrink)
The book presents a reconstruction of the development of Kant’s ethical thought from the 1760s till the "Metaphysics of Morals" of 1797 with a focus on the evolution of Kant’s overall project in practical philosophy. The main steps in the development of his practical philosophy are interpreted as successive attempts to connect normative ethics with an innovative preliminary descriptive inquiry. The book reconstructs the different ways in which Kant focuses this plan, stressing both the unity and the breaks in Kant’s (...) development. I thus distinguish three main phases, characterised by a different systematic project. The first part is devoted to Kant’s work on moral theory up to 1769. The second part examines Kant’s new ethical project from 1770 to 1785, while the third part considers the further developments from the second "Critique" to the "Metaphysics of Morals". (shrink)
Kant's Notion of "Transcendental Truth". [English] The aim of this work is to elucidate the notion of “transcendental truth” and to show its role in the Kantian system. I will argue that this notion is in line with the traditional definition of truth, i.e., that it consists in the correspondence between knowledge and object. I will also argue that criteria of transcendental truth are provided by transcendental logic, and that it is this notion of truth what makes it possible to (...) establish the truth of a priori knowledge and delimitate the field of empirical truth. [Español] El objetivo de este trabajo es dilucidar la noción de “verdad trascendental” y mostrar su lugar en el sistema kantiano. Se defenderá que la verdad trascendental consiste, en línea con la definición tradicional de verdad, en un sentido de correspondencia entre conocimiento y objeto, que la lógica trascendental establece criterios de verdad trascendental, y que es esta noción de verdad la que permite establecer la verdad del conocimiento a priori y delimitar el territorio de la verdad empírica. (shrink)
Recently, it has been argued that the use of Big Data transforms the sciences, making data-driven research possible and studying causality redundant. In this paper, I focus on the claim on causal knowledge by examining the Big Data project EXPOsOMICS, whose research is funded by the European Commission and considered capable of improving our understanding of the relation between exposure and disease. While EXPOsOMICS may seem the perfect exemplification of the data-driven view, I show how causal knowledge is necessary for (...) the project, both as a source for handling complexity and as an output for meeting the project’s goals. Consequently, I argue that data-driven claims about causality are fundamentally flawed and causal knowledge should be considered a necessary aspect of Big Data science. In addition, I present the consequences of this result on other data-driven claims, concerning the role of theoretical considerations. I argue that the importance of causal knowledge and other kinds of theoretical engagement in EXPOsOMICS undermine theory-free accounts and suggest alternative ways of framing science based on Big Data. (shrink)
The System of Ethics was published at the height of Fichte's academic career and marks the culmination of his philosophical development in Jena. Much more than a treatise on ethics narrowly construed, the System of Ethics presents a unified synthesis of Fichte's core philosophical ideas, including the principle I-hood, self-activity and self-consciousness, and also contains his most detailed treatment of action and agency. This volume brings together an international group of leading scholars on Fichte, and is the first of its (...) kind in English to offer critical and interpretive perspectives on this work, covering topics such as normativity, belief, justification, desire, duty, and the ethical life. It will be an essential guide for scholars wanting to deepen their understanding of Fichte's ethical thought, as well as for those interested in the history of ethics more broadly. (shrink)
This paper investigates the effects of Buddhist ethics on consumers’ materialism, that is, the propensity to attach a fundamental role to possessions. The literature shows that religion and religiosity influence various attitudes and behaviors of consumers, including their ethical beliefs and ethical decisions. However, most studies focus on general religiosity rather than on the specific doctrinal ethical tenets of religions. The current research focuses on Buddhism and argues that it can tame materialism directly, similar to other religions, and through the (...) specific Buddhist ethical doctrines of the Four Immeasurables: compassion, loving kindness, empathetic joy, and equanimity. The empirical results show the following: (1) Buddhism reduces materialism directly and through some of the Four Immeasurables, and (2) despite the doctrine of non-existence of the self, positive emotions toward the self are still present, and the self absorbs the effects of Buddhist ethics on materialism. The latter finding suggests a “resistance of the self” that is coherent with the idea of a consumer who leverages the self to go beyond it. (shrink)
Autonomy is one of the central concepts of contemporary moral thought, and Kant is often credited with being the inventor of individual moral autonomy. But how and why did Kant develop this notion? The Emergence of Autonomy in Kant's Moral Philosophy is the first essay collection exclusively devoted to this topic. It traces the emergence of autonomy from Kant's earliest writings to the changes that he made to the concept in his mature works. The essays offer a close historical and (...) philosophical analysis of what prompted Kant to develop his conception of autonomy, charting the historical background which prompted his search, and thoroughly analysing different stages of his writings in order to see which element of autonomy was introduced at which point. The resulting volume will be of interest to both scholars and students of Kantian moral philosophy, as well as to anyone interested in the subject of autonomy. (shrink)
How is scientific data used to represent phenomena and as evidence for claims about phenomena? In this paper, I propose that a specific type of claims – evidential claims – is involved in data practices to define and restrict the representational and evidential content of a dataset. I present an account of data practices in the epidemiology of the exposome based on the notion of evidential claims, which helps unpack the approaches, assumptions and warrants that connect different stages of research. (...) I identify three different strategies to generate different types of evidential claims in this case. The macro strategy, which individuates the dataset that serves as the initial evidential space for research. The micro strategy, which is used to generate evidential claims about the microscopic and individual component of target phenomena. The association strategy, that uses evidence from the other strategies to identify a dataset as representation of the different levels and relations of exposure and disease. Differentiating between these strategies sheds light on the multi-faceted landscape of biomedical research on environment and health; and the roles of data and evidence in the process of inquiry. (shrink)
This essay focuses on a little-understood phase of Franco Moretti’s work that spans 1976 to 1986. My aim is to shed light on Moretti’s cultural background as it was formed in that period and to account for the transition from the Trotskyist, politically-militant stance of his first book, Literature and Ideologies in England in the 1930s, to the idiosyncratic, seemingly disengaged character of Signs Taken for Wonders and The Way of the World. Adorno’s concept of ‘unrestrained individuation’ plays a crucial (...) role in the argument. Following a personal political crisis, Moretti opted to enact a form of critical individuation, encoding the explicit social antagonism of the earlier years within a highly personal style and a new theoretical eclecticism. In this way, by disguising it as an alluring form of individualism, Moretti managed to smuggle an antagonistic critical discourse into an increasingly neoliberal world that would soon prove hostile toward it. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIn this paper, I will establish a conversation between Rorty and the recent proposal of post-critical pedagogy. The assumption is that through this dialogue some tenets of the latter could find a Rortyan redescription that avoids the risk of ‘metaphysical’ formulations, whereas Rorty’s ideas can increase in their relevance with respect to education thanks to the post-critical perspective. In particular, the conversation will develop by focusing on the shared attitude towards the critical-negative attitude of poststructuralist thought, the significance of the (...) subject-matter in education and an interpretation of pedagogical hermeneutics through the lens of the Rortyan idea of edification. In the conclusion, by distinguishing two views of hope – an eventist and a transitionalist – it is argued that it is precisely in this theme, which seems to be a privileged meeting ground for Rorty and post-critical pedagogy, that there may lie a major fault line. (shrink)
This is the first book to explore the epistemology and ethics of advanced imaging tests, in order to improve the critical understanding of the nature of knowledge they provide and the practical consequences of their utilization in healthcare. Advanced medical imaging tests, such as PET and MRI, have gained center stage in medical research and in patients’ care. They also increasingly raise questions that pertain to philosophy: What is required to be an expert in reading images? How are standards for (...) interpretation to be fixed? Is there a problem of overutilization of such tests? How should uncertainty be communicated to patients? How to cope with incidental findings? This book is of interest and importance to scholars of philosophy of medicine at all levels, from undergraduates to researchers, to medical researchers and practitioners (radiologists and nuclear physicians) interested in a critical appraisal of the methodology of their discipline and in the ethical principles and consequences of their work. -/- . (shrink)
Advanced medical imaging, such as CT, fMRI and PET, has undergone enormous progress in recent years, both in accuracy and utilization. Such techniques often bring with them an illusion of immediacy, the idea that the body and its diseases can be directly inspected. In this paper we target this illusion and address the issue of the reliability of advanced imaging tests as knowledge procedures, taking positron emission tomography in oncology as paradigmatic case study. After individuating a suitable notion of reliability, (...) we argue that PET is a highly theory-laden and non-immediate knowledge procedure, in spite of the photographic-like quality of the images it delivers; the diagnostic conclusions based on the interpretation of PET images are population-dependent; PET images require interpretation, which is inherently observer-dependent and therefore variable. We conclude with a three-step methodological proposal for enhancing the reliability of advanced medical imaging. (shrink)
A relatively common approach in game studies understands gameworlds as constituting an existential situation for the player. Taking that stance, which is rooted in the European philosophical tradition of Existentialism, in this chapter we investigate the relationships and similarities between our existence within and without gameworlds. To do so, we first provide a review of existing literature in ‘existential ludology’ - work in game studies which considers our engagement with gameworlds from an existential perspective. In the second part of the (...) chapter, we then engage with some of the most notable ideas of the Norwegian philosopher Peter Wessel Zapffe. Zapffe understood human life as inherently meaningless and identified four ways in which human beings typically protect themselves from the existential panic that accompanies the awareness of that meaninglessness: isolation, anchoring, distraction, and sublimation. These four categories are used as the foundation for an examination of gameworlds as technologies for repressing existential panic. (shrink)