Volume 19 (2019)
Adrian Currie and Avin Shahar
April 2019, vol. 19, no. 13, pp. 1-22
Pluralism about scientific method is more-or-less accepted, but the consequences have yet to be drawn out. Scientists adopt different methods in response to different epistemic situations: depending on the system they are interested in, the resources at their disposal, and so forth. If it is right that different methods are appropriate in different situations, then mismatches between methods and situations are possible. This is most likely to occur due to method bias: when we prefer a particular kind of method, despite that method clashing with evidential context or our aims. To explore these ideas, we sketch a kind of method pluralism which turns on two properties of evidence, before using agent-based models to examine the relationship between methods, epistemic situations, and bias. Based on our results, we suggest that although method bias can undermine the efficiency of a scientific community, it can also be productive through preserving a diversity of evidence. We consider circumstances where method bias could be particularly egregious, and those where it is a potential virtue, and argue that consideration of method bias reveals that community standards deserve a central place in the epistemology of science.
April 2019, vol. 19, no. 12, pp. 1-19
This paper explores an apparent tension between two widely held views about logic: that logic is normative and that there are multiple equally legitimate logics. The tension is this. If logic is normative, it tells us something about how we ought to reason. If, as the pluralist would have it, there are several correct logics, those logics make incompatible recommendations as to how we ought to reason. But then which of these logics should we look to for normative guidance? I argue that inasmuch as pluralism draws its motivation from its ability to defuse logical disputes---that is, disputes between advocates of rival logics---it is unable to provide an answer: pluralism collapses into monism with respect to either the strongest or the weakest admissible logic.
April 2019, vol. 19, no. 11, pp. 1-19
Nihilism is one of Nietzsche’s foremost philosophical concerns. But characterizing it proves elusive. Nihilists, antecedently, might seem to be those who have lost their sense that anything matters and fallen into existential despair. But for Nietzsche, Christianity itself is also a thoroughly nihilistic outlook, and it involves no such despair. Or take another example: It might seem that nihilists are life-negating, condemning the world and wanting, in some sense, to escape it. But what of the “last man,” utterly satisfied with the comforts of this world? This broad condition of nihilism comes in markedly different psychological guises, ranging from fervor, to contentment, to despair. What ties them together? Nihilism, on the view I elaborate here, centrally involves one’s being unmoored from the most important values, namely those values that confer a higher meaning on existence. Yet not just any values will do here, even among those (such as the values of Christianity) purporting to confer such a meaning. The values in question need (at least by Nietzsche’s lights) to be the right values, conferring the right meaning—values celebrating existence, not condemning it, and celebrating its higher aspects, not mere animal contentment and satisfaction. The unifying thread of Nietzschean nihilism, on my reading, in fact turns out to be structurally similar to the familiar idea of it that we get in a number of other 19th century thinkers and authors. Nihilism, for them, is a crisis involving coming unmoored from the most important values that give meaning to human life. Where Nietzsche differs from them is not in his account of what nihilism fundamentally is, but rather in his evaluative outlook, and the most important values he sees nihilists as having come unmoored from.
April 2019, vol. 19, no. 10, pp. 1-27
This paper develops a new challenge for moral noncognitivism. In brief, the challenge is this: Beliefs — both moral and non-moral — are epistemically evaluable, whereas desires are not. It is tempting to explain this difference in terms of differences in the functional roles of beliefs and desires. However, this explanation stands in tension with noncognitivism, which maintains that moral beliefs have a desire-like functional role. After critically reviewing some initial responses to the challenge, I suggest a solution, which involves rethinking the functional relationship between desire and belief.