It is often claimed that the debate between presentism and eternalism is merely verbal, because when we use tensed, detensed or tenseless notions of existence, there is no difference in the accepted metaphysical statements between the adherents of both views. On the contrary, it is shown in this paper that when we express their positions making use, in accordance with intentions of the presentists and the eternalists, of the tensed notion of existence (in the case of the presentists) and the (...) detensed or tenseless notion (in the case of the eternalists), the controversy remains deep and very important for us, because both ontological claims express a different attitude to the existence of the flow of time. It is shown that not only does the proposed approach to presentism and eternalism exactly express the intentions of the adherents of both views but it also offers a better understanding of them joining together seemingly different theses maintained by the presentists and the eternalists, and explaining at the same time the dynamism of the presentists' ontology. The paper takes for granted that we should assess metaphysical theories in a similar way as we assess scientific theories, that is on the basis of their explanatory value. (shrink)
Moral contextualism is the view that claims like ‘A ought to X’ are implicitly relative to some (contextually variable) standard. This leads to a problem: what are fundamental moral claims like ‘You ought to maximize happiness’ relative to? If this claim is relative to a utilitarian standard, then its truth conditions are trivial: ‘Relative to utilitarianism, you ought to maximize happiness’. But it certainly doesn’t seem trivial that you ought to maximize happiness (utilitarianism is a highly controversial position). Some (...) people believe this problem is a reason to prefer a realist or error theoretic semantics of morals. I argue two things: first, that plausible versions of all these theories are afflicted by the problem equally, and second, that any solution available to the realist and error theorist is also available to the contextualist. So the problem of triviality does not favour noncontextualist views of moral language. (shrink)
The “brain in a vat” thought experiment is presented and refuted by appeal to the intuitiveness of what the author informally calls “the eye for an eye principle”, namely: Conscious mental states typically involved in sensory processes can conceivably successfully be brought about by direct stimulation of the brain, and in all such cases the utilized stimulus field will be in the relevant sense equivalent to the actual PNS or part of it thereof. In the second section, four classic problems (...) of Functionalism are given novel solutions based on the inclusion of peripheral nervous processes as constituents of mental states: The mad pain problem, the problem of pseudo-normal vision, the China-brain problem, and the trivialityproblem. (shrink)
As anyone who has flown out of a cloud knows, the boundaries of a cloud are a lot less sharp up close than they can appear on the ground. Even when it seems clearly true that there is one, sharply bounded, cloud up there, really there are thousands of water droplets that are neither determinately part of the cloud, nor determinately outside it. Consider any object that consists of the core of the cloud, plus an arbitrary selection of these droplets. (...) It will look like a cloud, and circumstances permitting rain like a cloud, and generally has as good a claim to be a cloud as any other object in that part of the sky. But we cannot say every such object is a cloud, else there would be millions of clouds where it seemed like there was one. And what holds for clouds holds for anything whose boundaries look less clear the closer you look at it. And that includes just about every kind of object we normally think about, including humans. Although this seems to be a merely technical puzzle, even a triviality, a surprising range of proposed solutions has emerged, many of them mutually inconsistent. It is not even settled whether a solution should come from metaphysics, or from philosophy of language, or from logic. Here we survey the options, and provide several links to the many topics related to the Problem. (shrink)
Presentism is usually understood as the thesis that only the present exists whereas the rival theory of eternalism is usually understood as the thesis that past, present, and future things are all equally real. The significance of this debate has been threatened by the so-called triviality objection, which allegedly shows that the presentist thesis is either trivially true or obviously false: Presentism is trivially true if it is read as saying that everything that exists now is present, and it (...) is obviously false if read as saying that everything that has existed, exits or will exist is present. If eternalism is taken as the negation of presentism, it is also either trivially false or obviously true. In this paper, I try to respond to the triviality objection on behalf of presentism. In second section, I will examine how the argument proceeds. In third section, I will reflect on three possible ways to respond but will argue that none of them succeeds in giving a satisfactory solution. I will then try to clarify the core idea of presentism and to suggest that if we characterise presentism accurately, the problem will disappear. In fourth section, I will offer a plausible definition of presentism and will show how it can avoid the triviality objection and demonstrate why it is advantageous to accept the version of presentism I offer. (shrink)
This paper discusses and relates two puzzles for indicative conditionals: a puzzle about indeterminacy and a puzzle about triviality. Both puzzles arise because of Ramsey's Observation, which states that the probability of a conditional is equal to the conditional probability of its consequent given its antecedent. The puzzle of indeterminacy is the problem of reconciling this fact about conditionals with the fact that they seem to lack truth values at worlds where their antecedents are false. The puzzle of (...)triviality is the problem of reconciling Ramsey's Observation with various triviality proofs which establish that Ramsey's Observation cannot hold in full generality. In the paper, I argue for a solution to the indeterminacy puzzle and then apply the resulting theory to the triviality puzzle. On the theory I defend, the truth conditions of indicative conditionals are highly context dependent and such that an indicative conditional may be indeterminate in truth value at each possible world throughout some region of logical space and yet still have a nonzero probability throughout that region. (shrink)
Much of the literature on "ceteris paribus" laws is based on a misguided egalitarianism about the sciences. For example, it is commonly held that the special sciences are riddled with ceteris paribus laws; from this many commentators conclude that if the special sciences are not to be accorded a second class status, it must be ceteris paribus all the way down to fundamental physics. We argue that the (purported) laws of fundamental physics are not hedged by ceteris paribus clauses and (...) provisos. Furthermore, we show that not only is there no persuasive analysis of the truth conditions for ceteris paribus laws, there is not even an acceptable account of how they are to be saved from triviality or how they are to be melded with standard scientific methodology. Our way out of this unsatisfactory situation to reject the widespread notion that the achievements and the scientific status of the special sciences must be understood in terms of ceteris paribus laws. (shrink)
The classical theory of semantic information (ESI), as formulated by Bar-Hillel and Carnap in 1952, does not give a satisfactory account of the problem of what information, if any, analytically and/or logically true sentences have to offer. According to ESI, analytically true sentences lack informational content, and any two analytically equivalent sentences convey the same piece of information. This problem is connected with Cohen and Nagel's paradox of inference: Since the conclusion of a valid argument is contained in (...) the premises, it fails to provide any novel information. Again, ESI does not give a satisfactory account of the paradox. In this paper I propose a solution based on the distinction between empirical information and analytic information. Declarative sentences are informative due to their meanings. I construe meanings as structured hyperintensions, modelled in Transparent Intensional Logic as so-called constructions. These are abstract, algorithmically structured procedures whose constituents are sub-procedures. My main thesis is that constructions are the vehicles of information. Hence, although analytically true sentences provide no empirical information about the state of the world, they convey analytic information, in the shape of constructions prescribing how to arrive at the truths in question. Moreover, even though analytically equivalent sentences have equal empirical content, their analytic content may be different. Finally, though the empirical content of the conclusion of a valid argument is contained in the premises, its analytic content may be different from the analytic content of the premises and thus convey a new piece of information. (shrink)
I defend a formulation of the Ramsey Test with a condition for accepting negations of conditionals. It is implicit in the assumptions of the triviality theorems of Gärdenfors, Harper, and Lewis; and it allows for a unified proof of those theorems, from weaker assumptions about belief revision. This leads to a proof of McGee’s thesis that iterated conditionals do not obey modus ponens. †To contact the author, please write to: Institute of Philosophy, University of Leuven, Kardinaal Mercierplein 2, B‐3000 (...) Leuven, Belgium; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
"THE central problem in moral philosophy is commonly known as the is-ought problem." So runs the opening sentence of the introduction to a recent volume of readings on this issue.  Taken as a statement about the preoccupations of moral philosophers of the present century, we can accept this assertion. The problem of how statements of fact are related to moral judgments has dominated recent moral philosophy. Associated with this problem is another, which has also been (...) given considerable attention - the question of how morality is to be defined. The two issues are linked, since some definitions of morality allow us to move from statements of fact to moral judgments, while others do not. In this article I shall take the two issues together, and try to show that they do not merit the amount of attention they have been given. I shall argue that the differences between the contending parties are terminological, and that there are various possible terminologies, none of which has, on balance, any great advantage over any other terminology. So instead of continuing to regard these issues as central, moral philosophers could, I believe, "agree to disagree" about the "is-ought" problem, and about the definition of morality, provided only that everyone was careful to stipulate how he was using the term "moral" and was aware of the implications and limitations of the definition he was using. Moral philosophers could then move on to consider more important issues. (shrink)
Much of the literature on "ceteris paribus" laws is based on a misguided egalitarianism about the sciences. For example, it is commonly held that the special sciences are riddled with ceteris paribus laws; from this many commentators conclude that if the special sciences are not to be accorded a second class status, it must be ceteris paribus all the way down to fundamental physics. We argue that the laws of fundamental physics are not hedged by ceteris paribus clauses and provisos. (...) Furthermore, we show that not only is there no persuasive analysis of the truth conditions for ceteris paribus laws, there is not even an acceptable account of how they are to be saved from triviality or how they are to be melded with standard scientific methodology. Our way out of this unsatisfactory situation to reject the widespread notion that the achievements and the scientific status of the special sciences must be understood in terms of ceteris paribus laws. (shrink)
According to physicalism, everything is physical, namely there are no entities (or no more restricted sorts of entities) that are not physical. In this paper, I shall examine the truth of this thesis by presenting a triviality objection against physicalism that is somehow similar to the one advanced against presentism. Firstly, I shall distinguish between two different definitions of the physical (roughly, every entity is physical-1 iff it has some feature F, such as impenetrability or exact spatio-temporal location, while (...) every entity is physical-2 iff it is accepted by some ideal, true and complete physical theory) and between unrestricted and restricted versions of physicalism (according to the former ones, physicalism is true for every entity while, according to the latter ones, it is true only with regard to some restricted domain of entities). Secondly, I shall argue that physicalists have to deal with six different problems: the triviality of some versions of physicalism, the content-indeterminacy of the physical and the justification of the “faith” according to which we will formulate some ideal, true and complete physical theory (given the definition of the physical-2), the restricted domain problem (so that restricted versions of physicalism seem not to exclude the existence of seemingly non-physical entities), the (possible and plausible) incompatibility between the two different definitions of the physical, the extension of the physical investigation problem. (shrink)
The aim of the paper is to critically assess the idea that reasons for action are provided by desires. I start from the claim that the most often employed meta-ethical background for the Model is ethical naturalism; I then argue against the Model through its naturalist background. For the latter purpose I make use of two objections that are both intended to refute naturalism per se. One is G.E. Moore’s Open Question Argument, the other is Derek Parfit’s Triviality Objection. (...) I show that naturalists might be able to avoid both objections if they can vindicate the reduction proposed. This, however, leads to further conditions whose fulfillment is necessary for the success of the vindication. I deal with one such condition, which I borrow from Peter Railton and Mark Schroeder:the demand that naturalist reductions must be tolerably revisionist. In the remainder of the paper I argue that the most influential versions of the Model are intolerably revisionist. The first problem concerns the picture of reasons that many recent formulations of the Model advocate. By using an objection from Michael Bedke, I show that on this interpretation obvious reasons won’t be accounted for by the Model. The second problem concerns the idealization that is also often part of the Model. Invoking an argument of Connie Rosati’s, I show that the best form of idealization, the ideal advisor account, is inadequate. Hence, though not the knock down arguments they were intended to be, OQA and TO do pose a serious threat to the Model. (shrink)
The “demarcation problem,” the issue of how to separate science from pseu- doscience, has been around since fall 1919—at least according to Karl Pop- per’s (1957) recollection of when he first started thinking about it. In Popper’s mind, the demarcation problem was intimately linked with one of the most vexing issues in philosophy of science, David Hume’s problem of induction (Vickers 2010) and, in particular, Hume’s contention that induction cannot be logically justified by appealing to the fact (...) that “it works,” as that in itself is an inductive argument, thereby potentially plunging the philosopher straight into the abyss of a viciously circular argument. (shrink)
Ever since Socrates, philosophers have been in the business of asking ques- tions of the type “What is X?” The point has not always been to actually find out what X is, but rather to explore how we think about X, to bring up to the surface wrong ways of thinking about it, and hopefully in the process to achieve an increasingly better understanding of the matter at hand. In the early part of the twentieth century one of the most (...) ambitious philosophers of sci- ence, Karl Popper, asked that very question in the specific case in which X = science. Popper termed this the “demarcation problem,” the quest for what distinguishes science from nonscience and pseudoscience (and, presumably, also the latter two from each other). (shrink)
One of the reasons why most of us feel puzzled about the problem of abortion is that we want, and do not want, to allow to the unborn child the rights that belong to adults and children. When we think of a baby about to be born it seems absurd to think that the next few minutes or even hours could make so radical a difference to its status; yet as we go back in the life of the fetus (...) we are more and more reluctant to say that this is a human being and must be treated as such. No doubt this is the deepest source of our dilemma, but it is not the only one. For we are also confused about the general question of what we may and may not do where the interests of human beings conflict. We have strong intuitions about certain cases; saying, for instance, that it is all right to raise the level of education in our country, though statistics allow us to predict that a rise in the suicide rate will follow, while it is not all right to kill the feeble-minded to aid cancer research. It is not easy, however, to see the principles involved, and one way of throwing light on the abortion issue will be by setting up parallels involving adults or children once born. So we will be able to isolate the “equal rights” issue and should be able to make some advance... (shrink)
J.L. Mackie’s version of the logical problem of evil is a failure, as even he came to recognize. Contrary to current mythology, however, its failure was not established by Alvin Plantinga’s Free Will Defense. That’s because a defense is successful only if it is not reasonable to refrain from believing any of the claims that constitute it, but it is reasonable to refrain from believing the central claim of Plantinga’s Free Will Defense, namely the claim that, possibly, every essence (...) suffers from transworld depravity. (shrink)
I resolve the major challenge to an Expressivist theory of the meaning of normative discourse: the Frege–Geach Problem. Drawing on considerations from the semantics of directive language (e.g., imperatives), I argue that, although certain forms of Expressivism (like Gibbard’s) do run into at least one version of the Problem, it is reasonably clear that there is a version of Expressivism that does not.
This is an opinionated overview of the Frege-Geach problem, in both its historical and contemporary guises. Covers Higher-order Attitude approaches, Tree-tying, Gibbard-style solutions, and Schroeder's recent A-type expressivist solution.
I present two Triviality results for Kratzer's standard “restrictor” analysis of indicative conditionals. I both refine and undermine the common claim that problems of Triviality do not arise for Kratzer conditionals since they are not strictly conditionals at all.
The philosophical study of consciousness is chock full of thought experiments: John Searle’s Chinese Room, David Chalmers’ Philosophical Zombies, Frank Jackson’s Mary’s Room, and Thomas Nagel’s ‘What is it like to be a bat?’ among others. Many of these experiments and the endless discussions that follow them are predicated on what Chalmers famously referred as the ‘hard’ problem of consciousness: for him, it is ‘easy’ to figure out how the brain is capable of perception, information integration, attention, reporting on (...) mental states, etc, even though this is far from being accomplished at the moment. What is ‘hard’, claims the man of the p-zombies, is to account for phenomenal experience, or what philosophers usually call ‘qualia’: the ‘what is it like’, first-person quality of consciousness. (shrink)
We can classify theories of consciousness along two dimensions. First, a theory might be physicalist or dualist. Second, a theory might endorse any of these three views regarding causal relations between phenomenal properties (properties that characterize states of our consciousness) and physical properties: nomism (the two kinds of property interact through deterministic laws), acausalism (they do not causally interact), and anomalism (they interact but not through deterministic laws). In this paper, I explore anomalous dualism, a combination of views that has (...) not previously been explored (as far as I know). I suggest that a kind of anomalous dualism, nonreductive anomalous panpsychism, promises to offer the best overall answer to two pressing issues for dualist views, the problem of mental causation and the mapping problem (the problem of predicting mind-body associations). (shrink)
My primary aim is to defend a nonreductive solution to the problem of action. I argue that when you are performing an overt bodily action, you are playing an irreducible causal role in bringing about, sustaining, and controlling the movements of your body, a causal role best understood as an instance of agent causation. Thus, the solution that I defend employs a notion of agent causation, though emphatically not in defence of an account of free will, as most theories (...) of agent causation are. Rather, I argue that the notion of agent causation introduced here best explains how it is that you are making your body move during an action, thereby providing a satisfactory solution to the problem of action. (shrink)
Here I discuss some theistic responses to the problem of animal pain and suffering with special attention to Michael Murray’s presentation in Nature Red in Tooth and Claw. The neo-Cartesian defenses he describes are reviewed, along with the appeal to nomic regularity and Murray’s emphasis on the progression of the universe from chaos to order. It is argued that despite these efforts to prove otherwise the problem of animal suffering remains a serious threat to the belief that an (...) all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good creator exists. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that there is a kind of evil, namely, the unequal distribution of natural endowments, or natural inequality, which presents theists with a new evidential problem of evil. The problem of natural inequality is a new evidential problem of evil not only because, to the best of my knowledge, it has not yet been discussed in the literature, but also because available theodicies, such the free will defense and the soul-making defense, are not (...) adequate responses in the face of this particular evil, or so I argue. (shrink)
The main goal of this paper is to investigate what explanatory resources Robert Brandom’s distinction between acknowledged and consequential commitments affords in relation to the problem of logical omniscience. With this distinction the importance of the doxastic perspective under consideration for the relationship between logic and norms of reasoning is emphasized, and it becomes possible to handle a number of problematic cases discussed in the literature without thereby incurring a commitment to revisionism about logic. One such case in particular (...) is the preface paradox, which will receive an extensive treatment. As we shall see, the problem of logical omniscience not only arises within theories based on deductive logic; but also within the recent paradigm shift in psychology of reasoning. So dealing with this problem is important not only for philosophical purposes but also from a psychological perspective. (shrink)
Philosophers and cognitive scientists have worried that research on animal mind-reading faces a ‘logical problem’: the difficulty of experimentally determining whether animals represent mental states (e.g. seeing) or merely the observable evidence (e.g. line-of-gaze) for those mental states. The most impressive attempt to confront this problem has been mounted recently by Robert Lurz. However, Lurz' approach faces its own logical problem, revealing this challenge to be a special case of the more general problem of distal content. (...) Moreover, participants in this debate do not agree on criteria for representation. As such, future debate should either abandon the representational idiom or confront underlying semantic disagreements. (shrink)
Moral non-cognitivists hope to explain the nature of moral agreement and disagreement as agreement and disagreement in non-cognitive attitudes. In doing so, they take on the task of identifying the relevant attitudes, distinguishing the non-cognitive attitudes corresponding to judgements of moral wrongness, for example, from attitudes involved in aesthetic disapproval or the sports fan’s disapproval of her team’s performance. We begin this paper by showing that there is a simple recipe for generating apparent counterexamples to any informative specification of the (...) moral attitudes. This may appear to be a lethal objection to non-cognitivism, but a similar recipe challenges attempts by non-cognitivism’s competitors to specify the conditions underwriting the contrast between genuine and merely apparent moral disagreement. Because of its generality, this specification problem requires a systematic response, which, we argue, is most easily available for the non-cognitivist. Building on premisses congenial to the non-cognitivist tradition, we make the following claims: (1) In paradigmatic cases, wrongness-judgements constitute a certain complex but functionally unified state, and paradigmatic wrongness-judgements form a functional kind, preserved by homeostatic mechanisms. (2) Because of the practical function of such judgements, we should expect judges’ intuitive understanding of agreement and disagreement to be accommodating, treating states departing from the paradigm in various ways as wrongness-judgements. (3) This explains the intuitive judgements required by the counterexample-generating recipe, and more generally why various kinds of amoralists are seen as making genuine wrongness-judgements. (shrink)
The reference class problem arises when we want to assign a probability to a proposition (or sentence, or event) X, which may be classified in various ways, yet its probability can change depending on how it is classified. The problem is usually regarded as one specifically for the frequentist interpretation of probability and is often considered fatal to it. I argue that versions of the classical, logical, propensity and subjectivist interpretations also fall prey to their own variants of (...) the reference class problem. Other versions of these interpretations apparently evade the problem. But I contend that they are all “no-theory” theories of probability - accounts that leave quite obscure why probability should function as a guide to life, a suitable basis for rational inference and action. The reference class problem besets those theories that are genuinely informative and that plausibly constrain our inductive reasonings and decisions. I distinguish a “metaphysical” and an “epistemological” reference class problem. I submit that we can dissolve the former problem by recognizing that probability is fundamentally a two-place notion: conditional probability is the proper primitive of probability theory. However, I concede that the epistemological problem remains. (shrink)
Many of us agree that we ought not to wrong future people, but there remains disagreement about which of our actions can wrong them. Can we wrong individuals whose lives are worth living by taking actions that result in their very existence? The problem of justifying an answer to this question has come to be known as the non-identity problem. While the literature contains an array of strategies for solving the problem, in this paper I will take (...) what I call the harm-based approach, and I will defend an account of harming—which I call the existence account of harming—that can vindicate this approach. -/- Roughly put, the harm-based approach holds that, by acting in ways that result in the existence of individuals whose lives are worth living, we can harm and thereby wrong those individuals. An initially plausible way to try to justify this approach is to endorse the non-comparative account of harming, which holds that an event harms an individual just in case it causes her to be in a bad state, such that the state’s badness does not derive from a comparison between that state and some alternative state that the individual would or could have been in. However, many philosophers argue that the non-comparative account of harming is inadequate, and one might be tempted to infer from this that any harm-based approach to the non-identity problem will fail. My proposal, which I call the existence account of harming, will show that this inference is faulty: we can vindicate the harm-based approach without relying on the non-comparative account of harming. (shrink)
Barnett and Block (J Bus Ethics 18(2):179–194, 2011 ) argue that one cannot distinguish between deposits and loans due to the continuum problem of maturities and because future goods do not exist—both essential characteristics that distinguish deposit from loan contracts. In a similar way but leading to opposite conclusions (Cachanosky, forthcoming) maintains that both maturity mismatching and fractional reserve banking are ethically justified as these contracts are equivalent. We argue herein that the economic and legal differences between genuine deposit (...) and loan contracts are clear. This implies different legal obligations for these contracts, a necessary step in assessing the ethics of both fractional reserve banking and maturity mismatching. While the former is economically, legally, and perhaps most importantly ethically problematic, there are no such troubles with the latter. (shrink)
Explaining the mind by building machines with minds runs into the other-minds problem: How can we tell whether any body other than our own has a mind when the only way to know is by being the other body? In practice we all use some form of Turing Test: If it can do everything a body with a mind can do such that we can't tell them apart, we have no basis for doubting it has a mind. But what (...) is "everything" a body with a mind can do? Turing's original "pen-pal" version (the TT) only tested linguistic capacity, but Searle has shown that a mindless symbol-manipulator could pass the TT undetected. The Total Turing Test (TTT) calls for all of our linguistic and robotic capacities; immune to Searle's argument, it suggests how to ground a symbol manipulating system in the capacity to pick out the objects its symbols refer to. No Turing Test, however, can guarantee that a body has a mind. Worse, nothing in the explanation of its successful performance requires a model to have a mind at all. Minds are hence very different from the unobservables of physics (e.g., superstrings); and Turing Testing, though essential for machine-modeling the mind, can really only yield an explanation of the body. (shrink)
In opposition to mainstream theory of mind approaches, some contemporary perceptual accounts of social cognition do not consider the central question of social cognition to be the problem of access to other minds. These perceptual accounts draw heavily on phenomenological philosophy and propose that others' mental states are “directly” given in the perception of the others' expressive behavior. Furthermore, these accounts contend that phenomenological insights into the nature of social perception lead to the dissolution of the access problem. (...) We argue, on the contrary, that the access problem is a genuine problem that must be addressed by any account of social cognition, perceptual or non-perceptual, because we cannot cast the access problem as a false problem without violating certain fundamental intuitions about other minds. We elaborate the fundamental intuitions as three constraints on any theory of social perception: the Immediacy constraint; the Transcendence constraint; and the Accessibility constraint. We conclude with an outline of an account of perceiving other minds that meets the three constraints. (shrink)
Many current popular views in epistemology require a belief to be the result of a reliable process (aka ‘method of belief formation’ or ‘cognitive capacity’) in order to count as knowledge. This means that the generality problem rears its head, i.e. the kind of process in question has to be spelt out, and this looks difficult to do without being either over or under-general. In response to this problem, I propose that we should adopt a more fine-grained account (...) of the epistemic basing relation, at which point the generality problem becomes easy to solve. (shrink)
This paper explores the relationship between scepticism and epistemic relativism in the context of recent history and philosophy of science. More specifically, it seeks to show that significant treatments of epistemic relativism by influential figures in the history and philosophy of science draw upon the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion. The paper begins with a presentation of the problem of the criterion as it occurs in the work of Sextus Empiricus. It is then shown that significant treatments of (...) epistemic relativism in recent history and philosophy of science (critical rationalism, historical philosophy of science and the strong programme) draw upon the problem of the criterion. It is briefly suggested that a particularist response to the problem of the criterion may be put to good use against epistemic relativism. (shrink)
Expressivists, such as Blackburn, analyse sentences such as 'S thinks that it ought to be the case that p' as S hoorays that p'. A problem is that the former sentence can be negated in three different ways, but the latter in only two. The distinction between refusing to accept a moral judgement and accepting its negation therefore cannot be accounted for. This is shown to undermine Blackburn's solution to the Frege-Geach problem.
I extend my direct virtue epistemology to explain how a knowledge-first framework can account for two kinds of positive epistemic standing, one tracked by externalists, who claim that the virtuous duplicate lacks justification, the other tracked by internalists, who claim that the virtuous duplicate has justification, and moreover that such justification is not enjoyed by the vicious duplicate. It also explains what these kinds of epistemic standing have to do with each other. I argue that all justified beliefs are good (...) candidates for knowledge, and are such because they are exercises of competences to know. However, there are two importantly different senses in which a belief may be a good candidate for knowledge, one corresponding to an externalist kind of justification and the other corresponding to an internalist one. I show how the account solves the new evil demon problem in a more satisfactory way than existing accounts. We end up with a view of knowledge, justification, and rationality that is plausible, motivated, and theoretically unified. (shrink)
Engineering ethics entails three frames of reference: individual, professional, and social. “Microethics” considers individuals and internal relations of the engineering profession; “macroethics” applies to the collective social responsibility of the profession and to societal decisions about technology. Most research and teaching in engineering ethics, including online resources, has had a “micro” focus. Mechanisms for incorporating macroethical perspectives include: integrating engineering ethics and science, technology and society (STS); closer integration of engineering ethics and computer ethics; and consideration of the influence of (...) professional engineering societies and corporate social responsiblity programs on ethical engineering practice. Integrating macroethical issues and concerns in engineering ethics involves broadening the context of ethical problem solving. This in turn implies: developing courses emphasizing both micro and macro perspectives, providing faculty development that includes training in both STS and practical ethics; and revision of curriculum materials, including online resources. Multidisciplinary collaboration is recommended 1) to create online case studies emphasizing ethical decision making in individual, professional, and societal contexts; 2) to leverage existing online computer ethics resources with relevance to engineering education and practice; and 3) to create transparent linkages between public policy positions advocated by professional societies and codes of ethics. (shrink)
I argue that medieval solutions to the limit decision problem imply four-dimensionalism, i.e. the view according to which substances that persist through time are extended through time as well as through space, and have different temporal parts at different times.
In this paper, it is argued that there are (at least) two different kinds of ‘epistemic normativity’ in epistemology, which can be scrutinized and revealed by some comparison with some naturalistic studies of ethics. The first kind of epistemic normativity can be naturalized, but the other not. The doctrines of Quine’s naturalized epistemology is firstly introduced; then Kim’s critique of Quine’s proposal is examined. It is argued that Quine’s naturalized epistemology is able to save some room for the concept of (...) epistemic normativity and therefore his doctrine can be protected against Kim’s critique. But, it is the first kind of epistemic normativity that can be naturalized in epistemology. With the assistance of Goldman’s fake barn case, it is shown that the concept of epistemic normativity that is involved in the concept of knowing, which cannot be fully naturalized. The Gettier problem indicates that Quine only gets partially right idea concerning whether epistemology can (and should) be natualized. (shrink)
Elaborating on the notions that humans possess different modalities of decision-making and that these are often influenced by moral considerations, we conducted an experimental investigation of the Trolley Problem. We presented the participants with two standard scenarios (‹lever’ and ‹stranger’) either in the usual or in reversed order. We observe that responses to the lever scenario, which result from (moral) reasoning, are affected by our manipulation; whereas responses to the stranger scenario, triggered by moral emotions, are unaffected. Furthermore, when (...) asked to express general moral opinions on the themes of the Trolley Problem, about half of the participants reveal some inconsistency with the responses they had previously given. (shrink)
In his paper The Opposite of Human Enhancement: Nanotechnology and the Blind Chicken problem (Nanoethics 2:305–316, 2008) Paul Thompson argues that the possibility of disenhancing animals in order to improve animal welfare poses a philosophical conundrum. Although many people intuitively think such disenhancement would be morally impermissible, it’s difficult to find good arguments to support such intuitions. In this brief response to Thompson, I accept that there’s a conundrum here. But I argue that if we seriously consider whether creating (...) beings can harm or benefit them, and introduce the non-identity problem to discussions of animal disehancement, the conundrum is even deeper than Thompson suggests. (shrink)
A difficulty is exposed in Allan Gibbard's solution to the embedding/Frege-Geach problem, namely that the difference between refusing to accept a normative judgement and accepting its negation is ignored. This is shown to undermine the whole solution.
This paper proposes a view on epistemic relativism that arises from the problem of the criterion, keeping in consideration that the assessment of criterion standards always occurs in a certain context. The main idea is that the epistemic value of the assertion “S knows that p” depends not only on the criterion adopted within an epistemic framework and the relationship between said criterion and a meta-criterion, but also from the collaboration with other subjects who share the same standards. Thus, (...) one can choose between particularist and methodist criteria according to the context of assessment. This position has the advantage of presenting a new perspective concerning both the criterion problem and the problem of inter-contextuality in the evaluation of different epistemic frameworks. (shrink)
What is a problem? What is problematic about any problem whatsoever, philosophical or otherwise? As the origin of assertion and apodeiction, the problematic suspends the categories of necessity and contingency, possibility and impossibility. And it is this suspension that is the essence of the problem, which is why it is so suspenseful. But then, how is the problem problematic? Only if what is suspended neither comes to presence, nor simply goes out into absence, that is, if (...) the suspension continues, which continues the problem. But what is problematic about suspension? As a consideration of language shows, the problem of suspension is the problem of implication. If being, for example, is merely implied, neither present nor absent, then it is the suspension of both, at least insofar as it is problematic. And this not only says something about language; rather, it has ontological implications as well — it speaks of being, and the being of anything whatsoever. For if being is implied, if that is the problem of being, it is because being is an implication. Then the being of things like problems is implied as well; or being is in things by implication. But what does it mean for being to be neither presence nor absence, but an implication? It means that being is implied in a way that is problematic — before it is necessary, or even possible. For being’s way of being is characterized by suspension — which has implications for thinking and speaking about being, and about things like problems, even about anything whatsoever. And this has implications for what being implies, namely, unity and time and aspect. (shrink)