Scholarly Works - Philosophy


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 110
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    On Dualities and Equivalences Between Physical Theories
    (PhilSci-Archive, 2018-06-02) Butterfield, Jeremy Nicholas; Butterfield, Jeremy Nicholas [0000-0002-0215-5802]
    The main aim of this paper is to make a remark about the relation between (i) dualities between theories, as `duality' is understood in physics and (ii) equivalence of theories, as `equivalence' is understood in logic and philosophy. The remark is that in physics, two theories can be dual, and accordingly get called `the same theory', though we interpret them as disagreeing---so that they are certainly not equivalent, as `equivalent' is normally understood. So the remark is simple: but, I shall argue, worth stressing---since often neglected. My argument for this is based on the account of duality developed by De Haro: which is illustrated here with several examples, from both elementary physics and string theory. Thus I argue that in some examples, including in string theory, two dual theories disagree in their claims about the world. I also spell out how this remark implies a limitation of proposals (both traditional and recent) to understand theoretical equivalence as either logical equivalence or a weakening of it.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    (Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2018-12) OLIVER, ALEX; SMILEY, TIMOTHY
    AbstractAlmost all set theorists pay at least lip service to Cantor’s definition of a set as a collection of many things into one whole; but empty and singleton sets do not fit with it. Adapting Dana Scott’s axiomatization of the cumulative theory of types, we present a ‘Cantorian’ system which excludes these anomalous sets. We investigate the consequences of their omission, examining their claim to a place on grounds of convenience, and asking whether their absence is an obstacle to the theory’s ability to represent ordered pairs or to support the arithmetization of analysis or the development of the theory of cardinals and ordinals.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    Decision-Theoretic Pluralism
    (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2018-10-01) Bales, Adam; Bales, Adam [0000-0002-9629-0318]
    A prominent philosophical debate concerns whether we should accept causal decision theory (CDT) or evidential decision theory (EDT) as our best theory of rational choice. However, instead of accepting one of these theories at the expense of the other, an alternative would be to accept that both theories play a partial role in the true account of rational choice. In this paper, I defend a pluralist account of this sort. In particular, I argue that rational permissibility is an indeterminate notion, with EDT and CDT each corresponding to one sharpening of this notion.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    AI and Data-driven Targeting
    (2018-06) Vold, KV; Whittlestone, Jessica; Bahanda, Anunya; Cave, Stephen; Vold, Karina Vergobbi [0000-0002-0768-7517]; Whittlestone, Jess [0000-0002-1252-718X]; Cave, Stephen [0000-0002-0764-0874]
    Thinkpiece on 'AI and Data-driven Targeting' for the UK Government's Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    Reasonable Disagreement and the Neutralist Dilemma: Abortion and circumcision in Matthew Kramer’s Liberalism with Excellence
    (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2018-06-01) Chambers, Clare; Chambers, Clare [0000-0002-0843-2313]
    This paper starts by investigating the idea of reasonable disagreement. It then considers Matthew Kramer’s argument that there is no neutral solution available to the disagreement over abortion. The paper argues that Kramer’s account has wider application, and identifies a neutralist dilemma. The neutralist dilemma applies when, of two policy options available to the state, one is unreasonable. It follows that the state should enact only the reasonable policy. However, in a neutralist dilemma the fact of reasonable disagreement due to the burdens of judgment means that it is not possible for the state to act at all, whether legislating or not, without deviating from neutrality. The paper develops the concept of the neutralist dilemma and then applies it to another case discussed by Kramer: infant circumcision. The paper argues that the debate over infant circumcision can be framed as a neutralist dilemma, but that the most plausible resolution of the dilemma results in an argument in favour of the legal prohibition of the practice. This is a surprising result, since most liberal states do not restrict circumcision and since prohibition of circumcision might initially appear to be non-neutral or even illiberal; however it is consistent with the tenets of neutralist liberalism.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    Review of Stephan Blatti and Paul Snowdon (eds.) Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals and Identity
    Moran, AP; Moran, Alex [0000-0002-9007-9968]
    First Paragraph:This volume is the first of its kind: a collection of articles focusing specifically on the Animalist theory of personal identity. This view has gained prominence in recent years, having been previously neglected by personal identity theorists, so it is refreshing to finally see a collection wherein Animalism is the main focus. Animalism may not be true—it is too early in the day to say—but it is well worthy of serious discussion. What the essays in this collection do so well is prove just how fruitful serious discussion of Animalism can be.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    Kind-Dependent Grounding
    Moran, AP; Moran, Alex [0000-0002-9007-9968]
    Abstract. Are grounding claims fully general in character? If a is F in virtue of being G, does it follow that anything that’s G has to be F for that reason? According to the thesis of Weak Formality, the answer is ‘yes’. In this paper, however, I argue that there is philosophical utility in rejecting this thesis. More exactly, I argue that two outstanding problems in contemporary metaphysics can be dealt with if we maintain that there can be cases of ‘kind-dependent grounding’, and, moreover, that once we allow for the possibility of such cases (in order to solve these problems), we must also hold that Weak Formality is false. The paper turns crucially on two main ideas, viz. (a) that each object instantiates a fundamental kind, which can determine certain of the properties it can have, and (b) that grounding relations can hold conditionally. As we will see, it is only in light of these two ideas that we can make sense of the notion of kind-dependent grounding that is central to this paper.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    Naive Realism, Seeing Stars, and Perceiving the Past
    (Wiley-Blackwell) Moran, AP; Moran, Alex [0000-0002-9007-9968]
    Abstract. It seems possible to see a star that no longer exists. Yet it also seems right to say that what no longer exists cannot be seen. We therefore face a puzzle, the traditional answer to which involves abandoning naïve realism in favour of a sense datum view. In this paper, however, I offer a novel exploration of the puzzle within a naïve realist framework. As will emerge, the best option for naïve realists is to embrace an eternalist view of time, and claim that in the relevant case, one sees a still existent star-stage located somewhere in the distant past.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Predictive coding and thought
    (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020) Williams, D; Williams, D [0000-0002-9774-2910]
    Predictive processing has recently been advanced as a global cognitive architecture for the brain. I argue that its commitments concerning the nature and format of cognitive representation are inadequate to account for two basic characteristics of conceptual thought: first, its generality--the fact that we can think and flexibly reason about phenomena at any level of spatial and temporal scale and abstraction; second, its rich compositionality--the specific way in which concepts productively combine to yield our thoughts. I consider two strategies for avoiding these objections and I argue that both confront formidable challenges.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    Hierarchical Bayesian models of delusion.
    (Elsevier BV, 2018-05) Williams, Daniel; Williams, Daniel [0000-0002-9774-2910]
    Researchers in the field of computational psychiatry have recently sought to model the formation and retention of delusions in terms of dysfunctions in a process of hierarchical Bayesian inference. I present a systematic review of such models and raise two challenges that have not received sufficient attention in the literature. First, the characteristic that is supposed to most sharply distinguish hierarchical Bayesian models from their competitors is their abandonment of the distinction between perception and cognition in favour of a unified inferential hierarchy. Standard ways of characterising this hierarchy, however, are inconsistent with the range of phenomena that delusions can represent. Second, there is little evidence that belief fixation in the healthy population is Bayesian, and an apparent abundance of evidence that it is not. As such, attempts to model delusions in terms of dysfunctions in a process of Bayesian inference are of dubious theoretical value.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    Rage Inside the Machine: Defending the Place of Anger in Democratic Speech
    (SAGE) Lepoutre, M; Lepoutre, Maxime [0000-0001-7573-8585]
    According to an influential objection, which Martha Nussbaum has powerfully restated, expressing anger in democratic public discourse is counterproductive from the standpoint of justice. To resist this challenge, this paper articulates a crucial yet underappreciated sense in which angry discourse is epistemically productive. Drawing on recent developments in the philosophy of emotion, which emphasize the distinctive phenomenology of emotion, I argue that conveying anger to one’s listeners is epistemically valuable in two respects: first, it can direct listeners’ attention to elusive morally relevant features of the situation; second, it enables them to register injustices that their existing evaluative categories are not yet suited to capturing. Thus, when employed skillfully, angry speech promotes a greater understanding of existing injustices. This epistemic role is indispensable in highly divided societies, where the injustices endured by some groups are often invisible to, or misunderstood by, other groups. Finally, I defuse the most forceful objections to this defense—that anger is likely to be manipulated, that it is epistemically misleading, and that my defense presupposes unrealistic levels of trust—partly by showing that they overlook the systemic character of democratic discourse.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    From symbols to icons: the return of resemblance in the cognitive neuroscience revolution
    (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2018) Williams, D; Colling, L; Williams, D [0000-0002-9774-2910]
    We argue that one important aspect of the "cognitive neuroscience revolution" identified by Boone and Piccinini (2015) is a dramatic shift away from thinking of cognitive representations as arbitrary symbols towards thinking of them as icons that replicate structural characteristics of their targets. We argue that this shift has been driven both "from below" and "from above" - that is, from a greater appreciation of what mechanistic explanation of information-processing systems involves ("from below"), and from a greater appreciation of the problems solved by bio-cognitive systems, chiefly regulation and prediction ("from above"). We illustrate these arguments by reference to examples from cognitive neuroscience, principally representational similarity analysis and the emergence of (predictive) dynamical models as a central postulate in neurocognitive research.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    Naive Realism, Causation and Hallucination: A New Response to the Screening Off Argument
    (Taylor & Francis, 2019-04-03) Moran, AP; Moran, Alex [0000-0002-9007-9968]
    ABSTRACT. This paper sets out a novel response to the ‘screening off’ problem for naïve realism. The aim is to resist the claim (which many naïve realists accept) that the kind of experience involved in hallucinating also occurs during perception, by arguing that there are causal constraints that must be met if an hallucinatory experience is to occur; constraints that are never met in cases of perception. Notably, given this response, it turns out that, contra current orthodoxy, naïve realists need not adopt any particular view about the psychological nature of hallucinatory experience to handle the screening off problem. Consequently, room opens up for naïve realists to endorse whatever theory of hallucinatory experience seems to best capture the distinctive nature of such episodes.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    Permanent Underdetermination from Approximate Empirical Equivalence in Field Theory: Massless and Massive Scalar Gravity, Neutrino, Electromagnetic, Yang–Mills and Gravitational Theories
    (Oxford University Press, 2011-06-01) Pitts, JB; Pitts, Brian [0000-0002-7299-5137]
    Classical and quantum field theory provide not only realistic examples of extant notions of empirical equivalence, but also new notions of empirical equivalence, both modal and occurrent. A simple but modern gravitational case goes back to the 1890s, but there has been apparently total neglect of the simplest relativistic analog, with the result that an erroneous claim has taken root that Special Relativity could not have accommodated gravity even if there were no bending of light. The fairly recent acceptance of nonzero neutrino masses shows that widely neglected possibilities for nonzero particle masses have sometimes been vindicated. In the electromagnetic case, there is permanent underdetermination at the classical and quantum levels between Maxwell's theory and the one-parameter family of Proca's electromagnetisms with massive photons, which approximate Maxwell's theory in the limit of zero photon mass. While Yang–Mills theories display similar approximate equivalence classically, quantization typically breaks this equivalence. A possible exception, including unified electroweak theory, might permit a mass term for the photons but not the Yang–Mills vector bosons. Underdetermination between massive and massless (Einstein) gravity even at the classical level is subject to contemporary controversy.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    A simpler and more realistic subjective decision theory
    (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2018) Gaifman, H; Liu, Y; Liu, Y [0000-0001-8865-4647]
    In his classic book Savage develops a formal system of rational decision making. It is based on (i) a set of possible states of the world, (ii) a set of consequences, (iii) a set of acts, which are functions from states to consequences, and (iv) a preference relation over the acts, which represents the preferences of an idealized rational agent. The goal and the culmination of the enterprise is a representation theorem: Any preference relation that satisfies certain arguably acceptable postulates determines a (finitely additive) probability distribution over the states and a utility assignment to the consequences, such that the preferences among acts are determined by their expected utilities. Additional problematic assumptions are however required in Savage's proofs. First, there is a Boolean algebra of events (sets of states) which determines the richness of the set of acts. The probabilities are assigned to members of this algebra. Savage's proof requires that this be a $\sigma$-algebra (i.e., closed under infinite countable unions and intersections), which makes for an extremely rich preference relation. On Savage's view we should \textit{not} require subjective probabilities to be $\sigma$-additive. He therefore finds the insistence on a $\sigma$-algebra peculiar and is unhappy with it. But he sees no way of avoiding it. Second, the assignment of utilities requires the \textit{constant act assumption}: for every consequence there is a constant act, which produces that consequence in every state. This assumption is known to be highly counterintuitive. The present work contains two mathematical results. The first, and the more difficult one, shows that the $\sigma$-algebra assumption can be dropped. The second states that, as long as utilities are assigned to finite gambles only, the constant act assumption can be replaced by the more plausible and much weaker assumption that there are at least two non-equivalent constant acts. The second result also employs a novel way of deriving utilities in Savage-style systems -- without appealing to von Neumann-Morgenstern lotteries. The paper discusses the notion of ``idealized agent" that underlies Savage's approach, and argues that the simplified system, which is adequate for all the actual purposes for which the system is designed, involves a more realistic notion of an idealized agent.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    Is the Norm on Belief Evaluative? A Response to McHugh
    (Wiley, 2017-12) Greenberg, Alexander; Cowie, Christopher; Greenberg, Alexander [0000-0002-2501-878X]
    We respond to Conor McHugh's claim that an evaluative account of the normative relation between belief and truth is preferable to a prescriptive account. We claim that his arguments fail to establish this. We then draw a more general sceptical conclusion: we take our arguments to put pressure on any attempt to show that an evaluative account will fare better than a prescriptive account. We briefly express scepticism about whether McHugh's more recent ‘fitting attitude’ account fares better.
  • ItemAccepted versionOpen Access
    The paradox of decrease and dependent parts
    (Wiley, 2018-09) Moran, A; Moran, A [0000-0002-9007-9968]
    AbstractThis paper is concerned with the paradox of decrease. Its aim is to defend the answer to this puzzle that was propounded by its originator, namely, the Stoic philosopher Chrysippus. The main trouble with this answer to the paradox is that it has the seemingly problematic implication that a material thing could perish due merely to extrinsic change. (For, intuitively, it is not possible for a mere extrinsic change to cause a material thing to cease to be.) It follows that in order to defend Chrysippus’ answer to the paradox, one has to explain how it could be that Theon is destroyed by the amputation without changing intrinsically. In this paper, I shall answer this challenge by appealing to the broadly Aristotelian idea that at least some of the proper parts of a material substance are ontologically dependent on that substance. I will also appeal to this idea in order to offer a new solution to the structurally similar paradox of increase. In this way, we will end up with a unified solution to two structurally similar paradoxes.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Pragmatism and the predictive mind
    (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2018) Williams, D; Williams, D [0000-0002-9774-2910]
    Predictive processing and its apparent commitment to explaining cognition in terms of Bayesian inference over hierarchical generative models seems to flatly contradict the pragmatist conception of mind and experience. Against this, I argue that this appearance results from philosophical overlays at odd with the science itself, and that the two frameworks are in fact well-positioned for mutually beneficial theoretical exchange. Specifically, I argue: first, that predictive processing illuminates pragmatism’s commitment to both the primacy of pragmatic coping in accounts of the mind and the profound organism-relativity of experience; second, that this pragmatic, “narcissistic” character of prediction error minimization undermines its ability to explain the distinctive normativity of intentionality; and third, that predictive processing therefore mandates an extra-neural account of intentional content of exactly the sort that pragmatism’s communitarian vision of human thought can provide.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Classes, why and how
    (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-02) Schindler, T; Schindler, T [0000-0002-2978-5409]
    This paper presents a new approach to the class-theoretic paradoxes. In the first part of the paper, I will distinguish classes from sets, describe the function of class talk, and present several reasons for postulating type- free classes. This involves applications to the problem of unrestricted quantification, reduction of properties, natural language semantics, and the epistemology of mathematics. In the second part of the paper, I will present some axioms for type-free classes. My approach is loosely based on the Gödel-Russell idea of limited ranges of significance. It is shown how to derive the second-order Dedekind-Peano axioms within that theory. I conclude by discussing whether the theory can be used as a solution to the problem of unrestricted quantification. In an appendix, I prove the consistency of the class theory relative to Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Solving the Problem of Creeping Minimalism
    (Taylor & Francis, 2017-12-14) Simpson, M
    In this paper I discuss the so-called problem of creeping minimalism, the problem of distinguishing metaethical expressivism from its rivals once expressivists start accepting minimalist theories about truth, representation, belief, and similar concepts. I argue that Dreier's 'explanation' explanation is almost correct, but by critically examining it we not only get a better solution, but also draw out some interesting results about expressivism and non-representationalist theories of meaning more generally.