The UniquenessThesis holds, roughly speaking, that there is a unique rational response to any particular body of evidence. We first sketch some varieties of Uniqueness that appear in the literature. We then discuss some popular views that conflict with Uniqueness and others that require Uniqueness to be true. We then examine some arguments that have been presented in its favor and discuss why permissivists find them unconvincing. Last, we present some purported counterexamples that have (...) been raised against Uniqueness and discuss some possible reasons why proponents of Uniqueness might find these similarly unconvincing. (shrink)
In this paper, I offer two counterexamples to the so-called ‘UniquenessThesis.’ As one of these examples rely on the thesis that it is possible for a justified belief to be based on an inconsistent body of evidence, I also offer reasons for this further thesis. On the assumption that doxastic justification entails propositional justification, the counterexamples seem to work.
In recent years, permissivism—the claim that a body of evidence can rationalize more than one response—has enjoyed somewhat of a revival. But it is once again being threatened, this time by a host of new and interesting arguments that, at their core, are challenging the permissivist to explain why rationality matters. A version of the challenge that I am especially interested in is this: if permissivism is true, why should we expect the rational credences to be more accurate than the (...) irrational ones? My aim is to turn this challenge on its head and argue that, actually, those who deny permissivism will have a harder time responding to such a challenge than those who accept it. (shrink)
I reinforce my defense of permissivism about the rationality of doxastic attitudes on the face of a certain body of evidence against criticism published in this journal by Anantharaman. After making some conceptual clarifications, I manage to show that at least one of my original arguments pro-permissivism is left unscathed by Anantharaman's points.
The UniquenessThesis, or rational uniqueness, claims that a body of evidence severely constrains one’s doxastic options. In particular, it claims that for any body of evidence E and proposition P, E justifies at most one doxastic attitude toward P. In this paper I defend this formulation of the uniquenessthesis and examine the case for its truth. I begin by clarifying my formulation of the UniquenessThesis and examining its close relationship to (...) evidentialism. I proceed to give some motivation for this strong epistemic claim and to defend it from several recent objections in the literature. In particular I look at objections to the UniquenessThesis coming from considerations of rational disagreement (can’t reasonable people disagree?), the breadth of doxastic attitudes(can’t what is justified by the evidence encompass more than one doxastic attitude?), borderline cases and caution (can’t it be rational to be cautious and suspend judgment even when the evidence slightly supports belief?), vagueness (doesn’t the vagueness of justification spell trouble for the UniquenessThesis?), and degrees of belief (doesn’t a finegrained doxastic picture present additional problems for the UniquenessThesis?). (shrink)
I defend Conciliationism: rationality requires belief revision of epistemic peers who find themselves in disagreement and lack dispute-independent reason to suspect each other of error. (Kelly 2010) argues that Conciliationists are committed to the UniquenessThesis: a given body of evidence rationalizes a unique degree of confidence for a given proposition. (Ballantyne & Coffman 2012) cogently critique Kelly's argument and propose an improved version. I contend that their version of the argument is unsound, and I offer some friendly (...) amendments. But I show that even this amended argument threatens only extreme versions of Conciliationism. (shrink)
Pascal Engel (2008) has insisted that a number of notable strategies for rejecting the knowledge norm of assertion are put forward on the basis of the wrong kinds of reasons. A central aim of this paper will be to establish the contrast point: I argue that one very familiar strategy for defending the knowledge norm of assertion—viz., that it is claimed to do better in various respects than its competitors (e.g. the justification and the truth norms)— relies on a presupposition (...) that is shown to be ultimately under motivated. That presupposition is the uniquenessthesis—that there is a unique epistemic rule for assertion, and that such a rule will govern assertions uniformly. In particular, the strategy I shall take here will be to challenge the sufficiency leg of the knowledge norm in a way that at the same time counts against Williamson’s (2000) own rationale for the uniquenessthesis. However, rather than to challenge the sufficiency leg of the knowledge norm via the familiar style of ‘expert opinion’ and, more generally, ‘second-hand knowledge’ cases (e.g. Lackey (2008)), a strategy that has recently been called into question by Benton (2014), I’ll instead advance a very different line of argument against the sufficiency thesis, one which turns on a phenomenon I call epistemic hypocrisy. (shrink)
Two theses figure centrally in work on the epistemology of disagreement: Equal Weight (‘EW’) and Uniqueness (‘U’). According to EW, you should give precisely as much weight to the attitude of a disagreeing epistemic peer as you give to your own attitude. U has it that, for any given proposition and total body of evidence, some doxastic attitude is the one the evidence makes rational (justifies) toward that proposition. Although EW has received considerable discussion, the case for U has (...) not been critically evaluated. Endorsing U, we argue, commits one to the highly controversial thesis that whatever fixes your rational attitudes can do so only by fixing what evidence you have. This commitment imposes a relatively demanding requirement on justified belief in U, one that we argue is not satisfied by what is currently the strongest available case for U, due to Roger White . Our challenge to U makes more trouble for its proponents than do the worries about U expressed by Gideon Rosen  and Thomas Kelly . Moreover, if Kelly  is correct in thinking that EW “carries with it a commitment to” U—a claim which we accept for reasons similar to Kelly’s but is beyond this paper’s scope (but see Ballantyne and Coffman [forthcoming])—then our challenge to U bears importantly on EW: to the extent that our challenge to U succeeds, EW also suffers. (shrink)
The purpose of this essay is to determinewhat exactly is meant by the claimcomputer ethics is unique, a position thatwill henceforth be referred to as the CEIUthesis. A brief sketch of the CEIU debate is provided,and an empirical case involving a recentincident of cyberstalking is briefly consideredin order to illustrate some controversialpoints of contention in that debate. To gain aclearer understanding of what exactly isasserted in the various claims about theuniqueness of computer ethics, and to avoidmany of the confusions currently (...) associatedwith the term ``unique'', a precise definition ofthat term is proposed. We then differentiatetwo distinct and radically differentinterpretations of the CEIU thesis, based onarguments that can be found in the relevantcomputer ethics literature. The twointerpretations are critically analyzed andboth are shown to be inadequate in establishingthe CEIU thesis. We then examine and reject twoassumptions implicit in arguments advanced bothby CEIU advocates and their opponents. Inexposing and rejecting these assumptions, wesee why it is not necessary to accept theconclusions reached by either side in thisdebate. Finally, we defend the view thatcomputer ethics issues are both philosophicallyinteresting and deserving of our attention,regardless of whether those issues might alsohappen to be unique ethical issues. (shrink)
White, Christensen, and Feldman have recently endorsed uniqueness, the thesis that given the same total evidence, two rational subjects cannot hold different views. Kelly, Schoenfield, and Meacham argue that White and others have at best only supported the weaker, merely intrapersonal view that, given the total evidence, there are no two views which a single rational agent could take. Here, we give a new argument for uniqueness, an argument with deliberate focus on the interpersonal element of the (...)thesis. Our argument is that the best explanation of the value of promoting rationality is an explanation that entails uniqueness. (shrink)
I present an argument against the thesis of Uniqueness and in favour of Permissivism. Counterexamples to Uniqueness are provided, based on ‘Safespot’ propositions – i.e. a proposition that is guaranteed to be true provided the subject adopts a certain attitude towards it. The argument relies on a plausible principle: (roughly stated) If S knows that her believing p would be a true belief, then it is rationally permitted for S to believe p. One motivation for denying this (...) principle – viz. opposition to ‘epistemic consequentialism’ – is briefly discussed. The principle is extended to cover degrees of belief and compared with a couple of other well-known constraints on rational degrees of belief. (shrink)
A response is given here to Benacerraf's (1965) non-uniqueness (or multiple-reductions) objection to mathematical platonism. It is argued that non-uniqueness is simply not a problem for platonism; more specifically, it is argued that platonists can simply embrace non-uniqueness—i.e., that one can endorse the thesis that our mathematical theories truly describe collections of abstract mathematical objects while rejecting the thesis that such theories truly describe unique collections of such objects. I also argue that part of the (...) motivation for this stance is that it dovetails with the correct response to Benacerraf's other objection to platonism, i.e., his (1973) epistemological objection. (shrink)
I argue that an evolutionary adaptation for bodily mimesis, the volitional use of the body as a representational devise, is the “small difference” that gave rise to unique and yet pre-linguistic features of humanity such as imitation, pedagogy, intentional communication and the possibility of a cumulative, representational culture. Furthermore, it is this that made the evolution of language possible. In support for the thesis that speech evolved atop bodily mimesis and a transitional multimodal protolanguage, I review evidence for the (...) extensive presence of sound-symbolism in modern languages, for its psychological reality in adults, and for its contribution to language acquisition in children. On a meta-level, the argument is that dividing human cognitive-semiotic evolution into a sequence of stages is crucial for resolving classical dichotomies concerning human nature and language, which are both natural and cultural, both continuous with and discontinuous from those of animals. (shrink)
The paper questions the extent to which MacIntyre’s current ethical and political outlook should be traced to a pro ject begun in After Virtue. It is argued that, instead, a critical break comes in 1985 with his adoption of a ‘Thomistic Aristotelian’ standpoint. After Virtue’s ‘positive thesis’, by contrast, is a distinct position in MacIntyre’s intellectual journey, and the standpoint of After Virtue embodies substantial commitments not only in conflict with, but antithetical to, MacIntyre’s later worldview—mostly clearly illustrated in (...) the contrasting positions on moral conflict and tragedy. (shrink)
In this paper, I offer a defense of what I dub “religious rationality pluralism”—that is, that people of various religions can be rational in holding a variety of religious perspectives. I distinguish two arguments against this position: the Uniqueness argument and the Disagreement argument. The aims of this essay are to argue that the Uniquenessthesis is ambiguous between two readings, that while one version of the thesis is quite plausible, it cannot be successfully used to (...) argue against rationality pluralism, and the version of the thesis that would support the argument is false. (shrink)
In Why We Cooperate, Tomasello addresses the problem of human uniqueness, which has become the focus for a lot of recent research at the frontier between the Humanities and the Life Sciences. Being both a developmental psychologist and a primatologist, Tomasello is especially well suited to tackle the subject, and the present book is the most recent one in a series of books and papers by himself and his colleagues. Tomasello’s basic position is squarely a dual-inheritance account, in which (...) human uniqueness is explained both through genetics and through culture. The main idea is that the phylogenetic specificity of humankind rests in its species-specific adaptation for sociability. The account offered by Tomasello contrasts human cooperation and altruism with nonhuman primate competition, and proposes that human altruism leads to shared intentionality. The evolutionary explanation Tomasello offers is that human ancestors were led through some kind of selection pressure to common foraging leading to collaboration and sharing. After outlining Tomasello’s position as it is described in the book, as well as the comments by Dweck, Spelke, Silk, and Skyrms which follow, I discuss Tomasello’s thesis, noting a few problems with his approach. These criticisms are based on his own work and on a number of his own other books and papers, as well as on other relevant work in the domain. (shrink)
In Why We Cooperate, Tomasello addresses the problem of human uniqueness, which has become the focus for a lot of recent research at the frontier between the Humanities and the Life Sciences. Being both a developmental psychologist and a primatologist, Tomasello is especially well suited to tackle the subject, and the present book is the most recent one in a series of books and papers by himself and his colleagues. Tomasello's basic position is squarely a dual-inheritance account, in which (...) human uniqueness is explained both through genetics and through culture. The main idea is that the phylogenetic specificity of humankind rests in its species-specific adaptation for sociability. The account offered by Tomasello contrasts human cooperation and altruism with nonhuman primate competition, and proposes that human altruism leads to shared intentionality. The evolutionary explanation Tomasello offers is that human ancestors were led through some kind of selection pressure to common foraging leading to collaboration and sharing. After outlining Tomasello's position as it is described in the book, as well as the comments by Dweck, Spelke, Silk, and Skyrms which follow, I discuss Tomasello's thesis, noting a few problems with his approach. These criticisms are based on his own work and on a number of his own other books and papers, as well as on other relevant work in the domain. (shrink)
Here is a philosophical examination of some themes presented by Milan Kundera in The Art of the Novel, as well as in his novels Immortality and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The discussions of the first-personal perspectives of the novel’s author, both as appearing in and as contrasted with that of a character in the novel, as these unfold in implicit subtle comic, social-political contexts, prescind from these contexts and dwell instead on fictional renditions of the senses of personhood and (...) its individuality especially as embodied in the face and as implied in relations of love. Of special interest is Kundera’s thesis that the irreplaceable uniqueness of the individual is one of Europe’s finest illusions. (shrink)
Abstract. Richard Feldman’s UniquenessThesis holds that “a body of evidence justifies at most one proposition out of a competing set of proposi- tions”. The opposing position, permissivism, allows distinct rational agents to adopt differing attitudes towards a proposition given the same body of evidence. We assess various motivations that have been offered for Uniqueness, including: concerns about achieving consensus, a strong form of evidentialism, worries about epistemically arbitrary influences on belief, a focus on truth-conduciveness, and consequences (...) for peer disagreement. We argue that each of these motivations either misunderstands the commitments of permissivism or is question-begging. Better understanding permissivism makes it a much more plausible position. (shrink)
A central claim by Hoerl & McCormack is that the temporal reasoning system is uniquely human. But why exactly? This commentary evaluates two possible options to justify the thesis that temporal reasoning is uniquely human, one based on considerations regarding agency and the other based on language. The commentary raises problems for both of these options.
Ontogeny, specifically the role of language in the human family now and in prehistory, is central to Locke & Bogin's (L&B's) thesis in a compelling way. The unique life-history stages of childhood and adolescence, however, must be interpreted not only against an exceptionally “high quality” human infancy but also in light of the evolution of co-constructed, emotionally based communication in ape, hominid, and human infancy.
This paper provides a defence of the thesis that responsible belief is permissible rather than obliged belief. On the UniquenessThesis (UT), our evidence is always such that there is a unique doxastic attitude that we are obliged to have given that evidence, whereas the Permissibility Thesis (PT) denies this. After distinguishing several varieties of UT and PT, we argue that the main arguments that have been levied against PT fail. Next, two arguments in favour of (...) PT are provided. Finally, two motivations for PT are put forward by showing that PT is entailed by two views that are quite popular among theorists working on doxastic responsibility. If the arguments in this paper are successful, we not only have good reasons to prefer PT over UT, but also good reasons to think that the gap between the ways in which we are meant to normatively assess belief and action may not be as wide as has been thought. (shrink)
In this paper I argue for a version of the Total Evidence view according to which the rational response to disagreement depends upon one's total evidence. I argue that perceptual evidence of a certain kind is significantly weightier than many other types of evidence, including testimonial. Furthermore, what is generally called "The UniquenessThesis" is actually a conflation of two distinct principles that I dub "Evidential Uniqueness" and "Rationality Uniqueness." The former principle is likely true but (...) the latter almost certainly false. Seeing why the Rationality Uniqueness fails opens the door to seeing how mutual reasonable disagreement is possible even among those who share the same evidence. (shrink)
The Uniquenessthesis says that any body of evidence E uniquely determines which doxastic attitude is rationally permissible regarding some proposition P. Permissivists deny Uniqueness. They are charged with arbitrarily favouring one doxastic attitude out of the set of attitudes they regard as rationally permissible. Simpson claims that an appeal to differences in cognitive abilities can remove the arbitrariness. I argue that it can't. Impermissivists face a challenge of their own: The problem of fine distinctions. I suggest (...) that meeting this challenge requires impermissivists to loosen up at higher levels – when comparing belief-forming systems that differ in the fineness of their doxastic outputs. This more relaxed take on Uniqueness is a kind of ‘intraspecies impermissivism’. (shrink)
The uniquenessthesis states that for any body of evidence and any proposition, there is at most one rational doxastic attitude that an epistemic agent can take toward that proposition. Permissivism is the denial of uniqueness. Perhaps the most popular form of permissivism is what I call the Epistemic Standard View, since it relies on the concept of epistemic standards. Roughly speaking, epistemic standards encode particular ways of responding to any possible body of evidence. Since different epistemic (...) standards may rationalize different doxastic states on the same body of evidence, this view gives us a form of permissivism if different agents can have different epistemic standards. Defenders of the ESV, however, have not paid sufficient attention to what it means to have a particular epistemic standard. I argue that any theory of epistemic standard possession must satisfy two criteria to adequately address the broader needs of the ESV. The first criterion is the normative criterion: a theory of standard-possession should explain why agents are rationally required to form beliefs in accordance with their own epistemic standard, rather than any other standard. The second criterion is the applicability criterion: a theory of standard-possession should rule that agents have the epistemic standards we intuitively think they have. I then argue that no extant theories of standard-possession can satisfy both these criteria. I conclude by diagnosing why these criteria are so hard to jointly satisfy. Defenders of the ESV are thus left with a serious obstacle to forming a complete and plausible version of their view. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to challenge what is often called the “Uniqueness” thesis. According to this thesis, given one’s total evidence, there is a unique rational doxastic attitude that one can take to any proposition. It is sensible for defenders of Uniqueness to commit to an accompanying principle that: when some agent A has equal epistemic reason both to believe that p and to believe that not p, the unique epistemically rational doxastic attitude for (...) A to adopt with respect to whether p is the suspension of judgment. In this paper, I offer a case wherein the agent has equal epistemic reason both to believe that p and to believe that not p, but the agent is not epistemically required to suspend judgment about whether p. Furthermore, the case is such that there seems to be no uniquely rational attitude for the agent to adopt. (shrink)
Recently, a number of epistemologists (notably Feldman ,  and White , ) have argued for the rational uniquenessthesis, the principle that any set of evidence permits only one rationally acceptable attitude toward a given proposition. In contrast, this paper argues for extreme rational permissivism, the view that two agents with the same evidence may sometimes arrive at contradictory beliefs rationally. This paper identifies different versions of uniqueness and permissivism that vary in strength and range, argues (...) that evidential peers with different interests need not rationally endorse all the same hypotheses, argues that evidential peers who weigh the theoretic virtues differently can sometimes rationally endorse contradictory conclusions, and finally defends the permissivist appeal to standards against objections in the works of Feldman and White. (shrink)
Though there is a wide and varied literature on ethical supererogation, there has been almost nothing written about its epistemic counterpart, despite an intuitive analogy between the two fields. This paper seeks to change this state of affairs. I will begin by showing that there are examples which intuitively feature epistemically supererogatory doxastic states. Next, I will present a positive theory of epistemic supererogation that can vindicate our intuitions in these examples, in an explanation that parallels a popular theory of (...) ethical supererogation. Roughly, I will argue that a specific type of epistemic virtue—the ability to creatively think up plausible hypotheses given a body of evidence—is not required of epistemic agents. Thus, certain exercises of this virtue can result in supererogatory doxastic states. In presenting this theory, I will also show how thinking about epistemic supererogation can provide us a new way forward in the debate about the uniquenessthesis for epistemic rationality. (shrink)
Permissivism is the thesis that, for some body of evidence and a proposition p, there is more than one rational doxastic attitude any agent with that evidence can take toward p. Proponents of uniqueness deny permissivism, maintaining that every body of evidence always determines a single rational doxastic attitude. In this paper, we explore the debate between permissivism and uniqueness about evidence, outlining some of the major arguments on each side. We then consider how permissivism can be (...) understood as an underdetermination thesis, and show how this moves the debate forward in fruitful ways: in distinguishing between different types of permissivism, in dispelling classic objections to permissivism, and in shedding light on the relationship between permissivism and evidentialism. (shrink)
This paper claims that there is no such thing as the correct answer to the question of what is logical form: two significantly different notions of logical form are needed to fulfil two major theoretical roles that pertain respectively to logic and semantics. The first part of the paper outlines the thesis that a unique notion of logical form fulfils both roles, and argues that the alleged best candidate for making it true is unsuited for one of the two (...) roles. The second part spells out a considerably different notion which is free from that problem, although it does not fit the other role. As it will be suggested, each of the two notions suits at most one role, so the uniquenessthesis is ungrounded. (shrink)
Robert Aumann presents his Agreement Theorem as the key conditional: “if two people have the same priors and their posteriors for an event A are common knowledge, then these posteriors are equal” (Aumann, 1976, p. 1236). This paper focuses on four assumptions which are used in Aumann’s proof but are not explicit in the key conditional: (1) that agents commonly know, of some prior μ, that it is the common prior; (2) that agents commonly know that each of them updates (...) on the prior by conditionalization; (3) that agents commonly know that if an agent knows a proposition, she knows that she knows that proposition (the “K K” principle); (4) that agents commonly know that they each update only on true propositions. It is shown that natural weakenings of any one of these strong assumptions can lead to countermodels to Aumann’s key conditional. Examples are given in which agents who have a common prior and commonly know what probability they each assign to a proposition nevertheless assign that proposition unequal probabilities. To alter Aumann’s famous slogan: people can “agree to disagree”, even if they share a common prior. The epistemological significance of these examples is presented in terms of their role in a defense of the UniquenessThesis: If an agent whose total evidence is E is fully rational in taking doxastic attitude D to P, then necessarily, any subject with total evidence E who takes a different attitude to P is less than fully rational. (shrink)
Jim Joyce argues for two amendments to probabilism. The first is the doctrine that credences are rational, or not, in virtue of their accuracy or “closeness to the truth” (1998). The second is a shift from a numerically precise model of belief to an imprecise model represented by a set of probability functions (2010). We argue that both amendments cannot be satisfied simultaneously. To do so, we employ a (slightly-generalized) impossibility theorem of Seidenfeld, Schervish, and Kadane (2012), who show that (...) there is no strictly proper scoring rule for imprecise probabilities. -/- The question then is what should give way. Joyce, who is well aware of this no-go result, thinks that a quantifiability constraint on epistemic accuracy should be relaxed to accommodate imprecision. We argue instead that another Joycean assumption — called strict immodesty— should be rejected, and we prove a representation theorem that characterizes all “mildly” immodest measures of inaccuracy. (shrink)
If the reliability of a source of testimony is open to question, it seems epistemically illegitimate to verify the source’s reliability by appealing to that source’s own testimony. Is this because it is illegitimate to trust a questionable source’s testimony on any matter whatsoever? Or is there a distinctive problem with appealing to the source’s testimony on the matter of that source’s own reliability? After distinguishing between two kinds of epistemically illegitimate circularity—bootstrapping and self-verification—I argue for a qualified version of (...) the claim that there is nothing especially illegitimate about using a questionable source to evaluate its own reliability. Instead, it is illegitimate to appeal to a questionable source’s testimony on any matter whatsoever, with the matter of the source’s own reliability serving only as a special case. (shrink)
Moral reasoning traditionally distinguishes two types of evil:moral (ME) and natural (NE). The standard view is that ME is theproduct of human agency and so includes phenomena such as war,torture and psychological cruelty; that NE is the product ofnonhuman agency, and so includes natural disasters such asearthquakes, floods, disease and famine; and finally, that morecomplex cases are appropriately analysed as a combination of MEand NE. Recently, as a result of developments in autonomousagents in cyberspace, a new class of interesting and (...) importantexamples of hybrid evil has come to light. In this paper, it iscalled artificial evil (AE) and a case is made for considering itto complement ME and NE to produce a more adequate taxonomy. Byisolating the features that have led to the appearance of AE,cyberspace is characterised as a self-contained environment thatforms the essential component in any foundation of the emergingfield of Computer Ethics (CE). It is argued that this goes someway towards providing a methodological explanation of whycyberspace is central to so many of CE's concerns; and it isshown how notions of good and evil can be formulated incyberspace. Of considerable interest is how the propensity for anagent's action to be morally good or evil can be determined evenin the absence of biologically sentient participants and thusallows artificial agents not only to perpetrate evil (and forthat matter good) but conversely to `receive' or `suffer from'it. The thesis defended is that the notion of entropy structure,which encapsulates human value judgement concerning cyberspace ina formal mathematical definition, is sufficient to achieve thispurpose and, moreover, that the concept of AE can be determinedformally, by mathematical methods. A consequence of this approachis that the debate on whether CE should be considered unique, andhence developed as a Macroethics, may be viewed, constructively,in an alternative manner. The case is made that whilst CE issuesare not uncontroversially unique, they are sufficiently novel torender inadequate the approach of standard Macroethics such asUtilitarianism and Deontologism and hence to prompt the searchfor a robust ethical theory that can deal with them successfully.The name Information Ethics (IE) is proposed for that theory. Itis argued that the uniqueness of IE is justified by its beingnon-biologically biased and patient-oriented: IE is anEnvironmental Macroethics based on the concept of data entityrather than life. It follows that the novelty of CE issues suchas AE can be appreciated properly because IE provides a newperspective (though not vice versa). In light of the discussionprovided in this paper, it is concluded that Computer Ethics isworthy of independent study because it requires its ownapplication-specific knowledge and is capable of supporting amethodological foundation, Information Ethics. (shrink)
I argue that information is a goal-relative concept for Bayesians. More precisely, I argue that how much information is provided by a piece of evidence depends on whether the goal is to learn the truth or to rank actions by their expected utility, and that different confirmation measures should therefore be used in different contexts. I then show how information measures may reasonably be derived from confirmation measures, and I show how to derive goal-relative non-informative and informative priors given background (...) information. Finally, I argue that my arguments have important implications for both objective and subjective Bayesianism. In particular, the UniquenessThesis is either false or must be modified. Moreover, objective Bayesians must concede that pragmatic factors systematically influence which priors are rational, and subjective Bayesians must concede that pragmatic factors sometimes partly determine which prior distribution most accurately represents an agent's epistemic state. (shrink)
I argue that information is a goal-relative concept for Bayesians. More precisely, I argue that how much information is provided by a piece of evidence depends on whether the goal is to learn the truth or to rank actions by their expected utility, and that different confirmation measures should therefore be used in different contexts. I then show how information measures may reasonably be derived from confirmation measures, and I show how to derive goal-relative non-informative and informative priors given background (...) information. Finally, I argue that my arguments have important implications for both objective and subjective Bayesianism. In particular, the UniquenessThesis is either false or must be modified. Moreover, objective Bayesians must concede that pragmatic factors systematically influence which priors are rational, and subjective Bayesians must concede that pragmatic factors sometimes partly determine which prior distribution most accurately represents an agent’s epistemic state. (shrink)
The contemporary problem of disagreement has two prominent solutions. The Conciliationists think that after discovering a case of disagreement one should be less certain of one’s original position. Those who favor Conciliatory views tend to think that disagreement is epistemically significant because it causes problems for one’s rationality. The Steadfasters, on the other hand, think that one should maintain one’s belief in the face of a disagreement; thus, disagreement appears a less epistemically significant problem to them. But neither of these (...) solutions address the actual problem of disagreements: that the very same faculties which cause me to trust myself provide you a differing opinion. Therefore, we need a solution for disagreement that responds to the issues it presents to one’s self-trust rather than secondary factors, like the likelihood of peerhood or the truth of the UniquenessThesis. Such an account ought to be regulative in nature. That is, it should offer insight to epistemic agents. The best of the regulative accounts can be found in virtue epistemology, because its practical nature is grounded in a holistic appraisal of epistemic agents. In cases of disagreement, to be epistemically virtuous, an agent needs to balance her intellectual fortitude with her intellectual humility and open-mindedness. But in order to balance these virtues when they appear to be in conflict, we need another resource that is able to govern them. For this purpose, I introduce intellectual phronesis. Like its moral counterpart, intellectual phronesis can help one to discern the particularity of situations in order to determine the appropriate response. Accordingly, intellectual phronesis is the ideal tool to adjudicate which intellectual virtue is appropriate for a particular disagreement. (shrink)
The thesis of the empirical underdetermination of theories (U-thesis) maintains that there are incompatible theories which are empirically equivalent. Whether this is an interesting thesis depends on how the term incompatible is understood. In this paper a structural explication is proposed. More precisely, the U-thesis is studied in the framework of the model theoretic or emantic approach according to which theories are not to be taken as linguistic entities, but rather as families of mathematical structures. Theories (...) of similarity structures are studied as a paradigmatic case. The structural approach further reveals that the U-thesis is related to problems of uniqueness in the representational theory of measurement, questions of geometric conventionalism, and problems of structural underdetermination in mathematics. (shrink)
In this paper, I engage William Rowe’s “Friendly Atheism” to illuminate the discussion of religious disagreement. I argue that his view gives way to an epistemic principle about how two “intellectual peers” might remain steadfast in what they believe their total available evidence supports and thereby reasonably disagree about their religious beliefs. I consider a key objection from Uniquenessthesis proponents and show how there are additional epistemic considerations to help fix the proposed problem.
A variant of realizability for Heyting arithmetic which validates Church’s thesis with uniqueness condition, but not the general form of Church’s thesis, was introduced by Lifschitz (Proc Am Math Soc 73:101–106, 1979). A Lifschitz counterpart to Kleene’s realizability for functions (in Baire space) was developed by van Oosten (J Symb Log 55:805–821, 1990). In that paper he also extended Lifschitz’ realizability to second order arithmetic. The objective here is to extend it to full intuitionistic Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory, (...) IZF. The machinery would also work for extensions of IZF with large set axioms. In addition to separating Church’s thesis with uniqueness condition from its general form in intuitionistic set theory, we also obtain several interesting corollaries. The interpretation repudiates a weak form of countable choice, AC ω,ω , asserting that a countable family of inhabited sets of natural numbers has a choice function. AC ω,ω is validated by ordinary Kleene realizability and is of course provable in ZF. On the other hand, a pivotal consequence of AC ω,ω , namely that the sets of Cauchy reals and Dedekind reals are isomorphic, remains valid in this interpretation. Another interesting aspect of this realizability is that it validates the lesser limited principle of omniscience. (shrink)
This paper considers whether an analogy between distance and dissimilarlity supports the thesis that degree of dissimilarity is distance in a metric space. A straightforward way to justify the thesis would be to define degree of dissimilarity as a function of number of properties in common and not in common. But, infamously, this approach has problems with infinity. An alternative approach would be to prove representation and uniqueness theorems, according to which if comparative dissimilarity meets certain qualitative (...) conditions, then it is representable by distance in a metric space. I will argue that this approach faces equally severe problems with infinity. (shrink)
According to the Constitution View of persons, a human person is wholly constituted by (but not identical to) a human organism. This view does justice both to our similarities to other animals and to our uniqueness. As a proponent of the Constitution View, I defend the thesis that the coming-into-existence of a human person is not simply a matter of the coming-into-existence of an organism, even if that organism ultimately comes to constitute a person. Marshalling some support from (...) developmental psychology, I give a broadly materialistic account of the coming-into-existence of a human person. I argue for the metaphysical superiority of the Constitution View to Biological Animalism, Thomistic Animalism, and other forms of Substance Dualism. I conclude by discussing the single implication of the Constitution View for thinking about abortion. Footnotesa Thanks to Gareth Matthews and Catherine E. Rudder for comments. I am also grateful to other contributors to this volume, especially Robert A. Wilson, Marya Schechtman, David Oderberg, Stephen Braude, and John Finnis. (shrink)
This thesis starts from the point of departure of asking why Aesthetic Theory is difficult to read. In answering this question it is argued that the difficulty of the work is a function of the unusual claims Adorno makes about the relation between art and philosophy, and that the presentation of these arguments exemplifies these claims. This complimentary relation between form and content has implications for the way Adorno can be understood as engaging the idea of mimesis. Aesthetic Theory (...) should be understood as a theory of mimesis in modern art and as a mimetic work itself. Given this idea, the question of the readability of the work emerges as inseparable from the explicit claims Adorno makes for mimesis. If the work ultimately cannot be understood because Adorno does not define his concepts, or it is unexplainable for any other reason, then mimesis will be shown to be untenable. The issue of the readability of Aesthetic Theory is explored in the Introduction through a discussion of issues arising from the recent history of Adorno's reception. Particular attention is paid to the differences between critics who have emphasised the significance of the particular claims Adorno makes against those who emphasise his method. Chapter I rejects this distinction while it argues that the character of Adorno's writing is uneven, that is to say, Aesthetic Theory cannot usefully be read in a uniform way. Chapter I considers different aspects of this lack of uniformity and argues that the identity of Aesthetic Theory as 'philosophy' is often tenuous as it moves in and out of other modes of argument. Chapters 2 and 3 look at different aspects of the identity of Aesthetic Theory as philosophy. Chapter 2 explains the strategic significance of the work as a continuation of a tradition of philosophy from Hegel onwards. This tradition, it is argued, has explicitly understood the problem of philosophy as recognising itself as experience while it attempts to describe experience. Chapter 3 extends this theme into a consideration of philosophical form. If philosophy is understood as a mode of experience then its form as well as its content is significant. Through a consideration of Heidegger and Derrida, Chapter 3 examines the uniqueness of the philosophical form of Aesthetic Theory. Having made this distinction. Chapter 4 reads Aesthetic Theory as philosophical form, describing aspects of it as mimetic. Chapters 5 and 6 then give detailed readings of parts of Aesthetic Theory which are particularly relevant for an understanding of Adorno's theory of the mimetic potential of modern art. The concluding chapter argues that the internal consistency of Aesthetic Theory in its practice and definition of the crisis of mimesis in modernism has significant implications for the practice of art history and criticism of twentieth-century art. (shrink)
Roger’s official statement of the thesis that he defends reads as follows: Uniqueness : If an agent whose total evidence is E is fully rational in taking doxastic attitude D to P, then necessarily, any subject with total evidence E who takes a different attitude to P is less than fully rational. Following Roger, I’ll call someone who denies Uniqueness a Permissivist . In what follows, I’ll argue against Uniqueness and defend Permissivism.
Quine's thesis of holism is justly regarded as the cornerstone of his naturalized epistemology. It is, to use Quine's own image, the crucial milestone in the development of post-Humean empiricism. Quine's holism constitutes a transition from the individual sentence to the organized system of sentences as the basic unit of empirical meaning. This system-centered approach allows him to dispense with theoretical reductions by dispensing not with the empiricist rejection of non-empirical facts, but with traditional assumptions concerning uniqueness and (...) determinacy in matters of scientific theory. It allows the holist to affirm, rather than abandon, the empiricist commitment to science without having to secure this position on some a priori, neutral foundation. (shrink)
The discourse on CRS began late in Spain. Its permeation into political institutions also began later than in many Western countries. The Spanish government neither contributed nor reacted to the green paper Corporate social responsibility. A business contribution sustainable development, published by the European Commission in 2002. However, the publication of this document gave the definitive impulse for the start of the Spanish debate on CSR. After this initial impulse, the debate rapidly developed into a consolidated field of discourse. This (...) field is the object of the present paper. Here, we seek to elaborate on a concept of corporate social citizenship viewed as a "field of discourse", which is being produced by an epistemic community, at Spanish yet also at a global level. Thus, we seek to depict the contours of the Spanish discourse on CSR, researching its evolution over the last 5 years. We focus on its main actors, the central topics on its agendas, the conflicts that are appearing, and how they are being dealt with. In order to in to achieve these objectives, we focus primarily on the transcription of 61 speeches made by different stakeholders at the Spanish Parliament during 2005. This initiative of the Spanish Parliament is unique of its kind. A special sub-commission was created to discuss the role that Spanish public institutions should play regarding corporate social responsibility. Sixty-one experts from different areas (academia, business, trade unions, and NGOs) were invited to present their views on CSR. Members of the sub-commission had the opportunity to discuss with these experts the nature, limits, results and evolution of CSR, seeking with special interest their opinions on the role that the Spanish Government should play in the consolidation of CSR in Spain. The thesis of this paper is that through an exhaustive analysis of the transcriptions of these interventions at the Spanish Parliament, we can identify who constitutes the Spanish epistemic community on CSR. We can also trace the main contours of this field of discourse, to identify the main actors in its development (particularly, of course, on the binding point between CRS and government) and the main issues discussed, as well as the "hot topics". The presentation will also locate the uniqueness of this debate generated in parliament within the context of the wider Spanish debate on CSR. (shrink)
According to the standard view of particularity, an entity is a particular just in case it necessarily has a unique spatial location at any time of its existence. That the basic entities of the world we speak about in common sense and science are particular entities in this sense is the thesis of “foundational particularism,” a theoretical intuition that has guided Western ontological research from its beginnings to the present day. The main aim of this paper is to review (...) the notion of particularity and its role in ontology. I proceed in four steps. First, I offer a brief reconstruction of the tasks of ontology as “theory of categorial inference in L”. An ontological theory states which (combinations of) entity types or categories make true L-sentences true; the features of the stipulated categories explain why L-speakers are entitled to draw certain material inferences from the classificatory expressions of L. Second, I draw attention to the fact that since Aristotle this theoretical program typically has been implemented with peculiar restrictions prescribing certain combinations of category features, e.g., the combination of particularity, concreteness, individuality, and subjecthood. I briefly sketch how these restrictions of the “substance paradigm” or “myth of substance” are reinforced by the standard readings of predicate-logical constants, viz. the existential quantifier and the identity sign. Third, I argue that in the context of the substance paradigm foundational particularism is incoherent. I discuss the current standard conceptions of particulars as developed in the debate about individuation (bare particulars, nude particulars, tropes) and show that their main difficulties derive from the traditional restriction that particulars are so also logical subjects and/or individuals. Fourth, to show that the traditional linkages of category features are not conceptual necessities, I sketch the outlines of an ontology (General Process Theory) based on non-particular individuals. For ontologists in computer science working with description logic this monocategoreal ontology based on more or less generic ‘dynamics’ may hold special interest. As General Process Theory documents, ontologists may well abandon the notion of particularity: in common sense and science we do reason about items that have a unique spatial location at any time, but the uniqueness of their location can be taken to be a contingent affair. (shrink)