Volume 16 (2016)
November 2016, vol. 16, no. 19, pp. 1-24
Modal realists face a puzzle. For modal realism to be justified, modal realists need to be able to give a successful reduction of modality. A simple argument, however, appears to show that the reduction they propose fails. In order to defend the claim that modal realism is justified, modal realists therefore need to either show that this argument fails, or show that modal realists can give another reduction of modality that is successful. I argue that modal realists cannot do either of these things and that, as a result, modal realism is unjustified and should be rejected.
David John Baker
November 2016, vol. 16, no. 18, pp. 1-15
It is sometimes claimed that string theory posits a fundamental ontology including extended mereological simples, in the form either of minimum-sized regions of space or of the strings themselves. But there is very little in the actual theory to support this claim, and much that suggests it is false. Extant string theories treat space as a continuum, and strings do not behave like simples.
September 2016, vol. 16, no. 17, pp. 1-18
Both advocates and opponents of the animalist view that we are fundamentally biological organisms have typically assumed that animalism is incompatible with intuitive verdicts about cerebrum isolation and transplantation. It is argued here that this assumption is a mistake. Animalism, developed in a natural way, in fact strongly supports these intuitive verdicts. The availability of this attractive resolution of a central puzzle in the personal identity debate has been obscured by a range of factors, including the prevalence in contemporary metaphysics of a certain conception of the nature of organisms. I end by explaining how the animalist can use intuitive verdicts, usually thought to present a difficulty for the view, as positive evidence for claims about the persistence conditions of the relevant kind of organism.
Helen De Cruz
August 2016, vol. 16, no. 16, pp. 1-13
Humans and other animals have an evolved ability to detect discrete magnitudes (numerosities) in their environment. Does this observation support evolutionary debunking arguments against mathematical realism, as has been recently argued by Clarke-Doane, or does it bolster mathematical realism, as authors such as Joyce and Sinnott-Armstrong have assumed? To find out, we need to pay closer attention to the features of evolved numerical cognition. I provide a detailed examination of the functional properties of evolved numerical cognition, and propose that they prima facie favor a realist account of numbers.
August 2016, vol. 16, no. 15, pp. 1-15
This paper argues from the rationality of nostalgia, affirmation, and regret to a principle of ‘specificity’: it can be rational to respond more strongly to facts that provide us with reasons than to the fact that such reasons exist.
July 2016, vol. 16, no. 14, pp. 1-20
In this paper I argue that there is a preface paradox for intention. The preface paradox for intention shows that intentions do not obey an agglomeration norm, requiring one to intend conjunctions of whatever else one intends. But what norms do intentions obey? I will argue that intentions come in degrees. These partial intentions are governed by the norms of the probability calculus. First, I will give a dispositional theory of partial intention, on which degrees of intention are the degrees to which one possesses the dispositions characteristic of full intention. I will use this dispositional theory to defend probabilism about intention. Next, I will offer a more general argument for probabilism about intention. To do so, I will generalize recent decision theoretic arguments for probabilism from the case of belief to the case of intention.
Toby Meadows and Zach Weber
August 2016, vol. 16, no. 13, pp. 1-17
The Church-Turing Thesis is widely regarded as true, because of evidence that there is only one genuine notion of computation. By contrast, there are nowadays many different formal logics, and different corresponding foundational frameworks. Which ones can deliver a theory of computability? This question sets up a difficult challenge: the meanings of basic mathematical terms (like "set", "function", and "number") are not stable across frameworks. While it is easy to compare what different frameworks say, it is not so easy to compare what they mean. We argue for some minimal conditions that must be met if two frameworks are to be compared; if frameworks are radical enough, comparison becomes hopeless. Our aim is to clarify the dialectical situation in this bourgeoning area of research, shedding light on the nature of non-classical logic and the notion of computation alike.
June 2016, vol. 16, no. 12, pp. 1-25
There may be two and a half bagels on the table. When there are two and a half, it is false that there are exactly two. As obvious as these claims are, they can’t be accounted for on the most straightforward and familiar views of counting and the semantics of number words. I develop a view on which counting is a type of measuring. In particular, counting involves a specific measure function. I then analyze that function and show how it can account for the cases in which counting is sensitive to partiality, e.g. partial bagels.
Kenny Easwaran, Luke Fenton-Glynn, Christopher Hitchcock, and Joel D. Velasco
June 2016, vol. 16, no. 11, pp. 1-39
We introduce a family of rules for adjusting one’s credences in response to learning the credences of others. These rules have a number of desirable features. 1. They yield the posterior credences that would result from updating by standard Bayesian conditionalization on one’s peers’ reported credences if one’s likelihood function takes a particular simple form. 2. In the simplest form, they are symmetric among the agents in the group. 3. They map neatly onto the familiar Condorcet voting results. 4. They preserve shared agreement about independence in a wide range of cases. 5. They commute with conditionalization and with multiple peer updates. Importantly, these rules have a surprising property that we call synergy — peer testimony of credences can provide mutually supporting evidence raising an individual’s credence higher than any peer’s initial prior report. At first, this may seem to be a strike against them. We argue, however, that synergy is actually a desirable feature and the failure of other updating rules to yield synergy is a strike against them.
Emanuel Viebahn and Barbara Vetter
June 2016, vol. 16, no. 10, pp. 1-26
The standard Kratzerian analysis of modal auxiliaries, such as ‘may’ and ‘can’, takes them to be univocal and context-sensitive. Our first aim is to argue for an alternative view, on which such expressions are polysemous. Our second aim is to thereby shed light on the distinction between semantic context-sensitivity and polysemy. To achieve these aims, we examine the mechanisms of polysemy and context-sensitivity and provide criteria with which they can be held apart. We apply the criteria to modal auxiliaries and show that the default hypothesis should be that they are polysemous, and not merely context-sensitive. We then respond to arguments against modal ambiguity (and thus against polysemy). Finally, we show why modal polysemy has significant philosophical implications.
June 2016, vol. 16, no. 9, pp. 1-14
Contemporary philosophical attitudes toward beauty are hard to reconcile with its importance in the history of philosophy. Philosophers used to allow it a starring role in their theories of autonomy, morality, or the good life. But today, if beauty is discussed at all, it is often explicitly denied any such importance. This is due, in part, to the thought that beauty is the object of “disinterested pleasure”. In this paper I clarify the notion of disinterest and develop two general strategies for resisting the emphasis on it, in the hopes of getting a clearer view of beauty’s significance. I present and discuss several literary depictions of the encounter with beauty that motivate both strategies. These depictions illustrate the ways in which aesthetic experience can be personally transformative. I argue that they present difficulties for disinterest theories and suggest we abandon the concept of disinterest to focus instead on the special kind of interest beauty fuels. I propose a closer look at the Platonic thought that beauty is the object of love.
May 2016, vol. 16, no. 8, pp. 1-11
Many philosophers, especially in the wake of the 17th century, have favored an inegalitarian view of shape and color, according to which shape is mind-independent while color is mind-dependent. In this essay, I advance a novel argument against inegalitarianism. The argument begins with an intuition about the modal dependence of color on shape, namely: it is impossible for something to have a color without having a shape (i.e. without having some sort of spatial extension, or at least spatial location). I then argue that, given reasonable assumptions, inegalitarianism contradicts this modal-dependence principle. Given the plausibility of the latter, I conclude that we should reject inegalitarianism in favor of some form of egalitarianism—either a subjective egalitarianism on which both shape and color are mind-dependent or an objective egalitarianism on which both shape and color are mind-independent.
May 2016, vol. 16, no. 7, pp. 1-22
Frequentist statistical methods continue to predominate in many areas of science despite prominent calls for "statistical reform." They do so in part because their main rivals, Bayesian methods, appeal to prior probability distributions that arguably lack an objective justification in typical cases. Some methodologists find a third approach called likelihoodism attractive because it avoids important objections to frequentism without appealing to prior probabilities. However, likelihoodist methods do not provide guidance for belief or action, but only assessments of data as evidence. I argue that there is no good way to use those assessments to guide beliefs or actions without appealing to prior probabilities, and that as a result likelihoodism is not a viable alternative to frequentism and Bayesianism for statistical reform efforts in science.
Morgan Thompson, Toni Adleberg, Sam Sims, Eddy Nahmias
March 2016, vol. 16, no. 6, pp. 1-36
Although recent research suggests that women are underrepresented in philosophy after initial philosophy courses, there have been relatively few empirical investigations into the factors that lead to this early drop-off in women’s representation. In this paper, we present the results of empirical investigations at a large American public university that explore various factors contributing to women’s underrepresentation in philosophy at the undergraduate level. We administered climate surveys to hundreds of students completing their Introduction to Philosophy course and examined differences in women’s and men’s feelings of belonging, comfort, and confidence in the philosophy classroom. We present findings suggesting various factors that contribute to women’s lower willingness to continue in philosophy compared to men’s, including perceptions about intuition-based methods in philosophy, the usefulness of the philosophy major, philosophy as a male discipline, and philosophical abilities as innate talents. We conclude by providing some suggestions for improving undergraduate philosophy courses in ways that would increase women’s willingness to continue in philosophy and may improve the courses for all students.
Kenneth L. Pearce
February 2016, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 1-17
According to Leibniz's late metaphysics, sensory perception represents to us as extended, colored, textured, etc., a world which fundamentally consists only of non-spatial, colorless entities, the monads. It is a short step from here to the conclusion that sensory perception radically misleads us about the true nature of reality. In this paper, I argue that this oft-repeated claim is false. Leibniz holds that in typical cases of body perception the bodies perceived really exist and have the qualities, both primary and secondary, they are perceived to have. At the same time, Leibniz holds that our perceptions of these bodies are accurate representations of the monads from which the bodies result. The contrary thesis — that our body perceptions are misrepresentations of the monads — stems from a misunderstanding of Leibniz's theory of confused concepts and his phenomenalist account of the nature of body. Clarifying these issues will have important consequences for our understanding of Leibniz's idealistic metaphysics and the manner in which that metaphysical theory is meant to support mechanistic science.
February 2016, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 1-20
Aristotle's cognitive ideal is a form of understanding that requires a sophisticated grasp of scientific first principles. At the end of the Analytics, Aristotle tells us that we learn these principles by induction (epagôgê). But on the whole, commentators have found this an implausible claim: induction seems far too basic a process to yield the sort of knowledge Aristotle's account requires. In this paper I argue that this criticism is misguided. I defend a broader reading of Aristotelian induction, on which there's good sense to be made of the claim that we come to grasp first principles inductively, and show that this reading is a natural one given Aristotle's broader views on scientific learning.
Robin A. Dembroff
January 2016, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 1-27
Ordinary discourse is filled with discussions about ‘sexual orientation’. This discourse might suggest a common understanding of what sexual orientation is. But even a cursory search turns up vastly differing, conflicting, and sometimes ethically troubling characterizations of sexual orientation. The conceptual jumble surrounding sexual orientation suggests that the topic is overripe for philosophical exploration. This paper lays the groundwork for such an exploration. In it, I offer an account of sexual orientation – called ‘Bidimensional Dispositionalism’ – according to which sexual orientation concerns what sex[es] and gender[s] of persons one is disposed to sexually engage, and makes no reference to one’s own sex and gender.
January 2016, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 1-10
Cases in which we find ourselves irrationally worried about whether we have done something we habitually do (such as turning off the stove) are familiar to most people, but they have received surprisingly little attention in the philosophical literature. In this paper, I argue that available accounts designed to explain superficially similar mismatches between agents’ behavior and their beliefs fail to explain these cases. In the kinds of cases which have served as paradigms for extant accounts, contents are poised to drive behavior in a belief-like way. But the contents of these irrational worries are not poised in a belief-like way. Nor do they cause behavior due to a deficit of rational scrutiny. Rather, these representations cause behavior deviantly: by generating anxiety, which in turn motivates actions aimed at assuaging it.
January 2016, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 1-40
This paper presents an account of what it is for a property or relation (or ‘attribute’ for short) to be logically simple. Based on this account, it is shown, among other things, that the logically simple attributes are in at least one important way sparse. This in turn lends support to the view that the concept of a logically simple attribute can be regarded as a promising substitute for Lewis’s concept of a perfectly natural attribute. At least in part, the advantage of using the former concept lies in the fact that it is amenable to analysis, where that analysis—i. e., the account put forward in this paper—requires the adoption neither of an Armstrongian theory of universals nor of a primitive notion of naturalness, fundamentality, or grounding.