Volume 19 (2019)

    Discrimination-Conduciveness and Observation Selection Effects

    William Roche and Elliott Sober

    September 2019, vol. 19, no. 40, pp. 1-26

    We conceptualize observation selection effects (OSEs) by considering how a shift from one process of observation to another affects discrimination-conduciveness, by which we mean the degree to which possible observations discriminate between hypotheses, given the observation process at work. OSEs in this sense come in degrees and are causal, where the cause is the shift in process, and the effect is a change in degree of discrimination-conduciveness. We contrast our understanding of OSEs with others that have appeared in the literature. After describing conditions of adequacy that an acceptable measure of degree of discrimination-conduciveness must satisfy, we use those conditions of adequacy to evaluate several possible measures. We also discuss how the effect of shifting from one observation process to another might be measured. We apply our framework to several examples, including the ravens paradox and the phenomenon of publication bias.

    Epistemic Diversity and Editor Decisions: A Statistical Matthew Effect

    Remco Heesen and Jan-Willem Romeijn

    September 2019, vol. 19, no. 39, pp. 1-20

    This paper offers a new angle on the common idea that the process of science does not support epistemic diversity. Under minimal assumptions on the nature of journal editing, we prove that editorial procedures, even when impartial in themselves, disadvantage less prominent research programs. This purely statistical bias in article selection further skews existing differences in the success rate and hence attractiveness of research programs, and exacerbates the reputation difference between the programs. After a discussion of the modeling assumptions, the paper ends with a number of recommendations that may help promote scientific diversity through editorial decision making.

    Self-Conscious Emotions Without a Self

    Monima Chadha and Shaun Nichols

    September 2019, vol. 19, no. 38, pp. 1-16

    Recent discussions of emotions in Buddhism suggest that one of the canonical self-conscious emotions, shame (the received translation of the Pāli term ‘hiri’), is an emotion to be endorsed and indeed cultivated. The canonical texts in the Abhidharma Buddhist tradition, endorse hiri as one of the wholesome (kusala) factors “always found in all good minds” and as one of “the guardians of the world”. Shame is widely taken to be a self-conscious emotion, and so if hiri counts as shame, this seems to be in tension with the central Buddhist claim that we should rid ourselves of the idea that there is a self. Buddhist moral education seems to promote an emotion that fundamentally presupposes something that Buddhist metaphysics fundamentally rejects: a self. This puzzle provides the motivation for our paper, and we will argue for a new understanding of hiri that also has implications for how we should think about one important “self-conscious” moral emotion, guilt. This puzzle about the Buddhist tradition also raises a basic philosophical question: What kinds of moral emotions are theoretically consistent with the denial of a self? We argue that anticipatory guilt might be such an emotion, and that it provides a plausible interpretation of hiri in key Buddhist texts.

    Two Conceptions of Phenomenology

    Ori Beck

    August 2019, vol. 19, no. 37, pp. 1-17

    The phenomenal particularity thesis says that if a mind-independent particular is consciously perceived in a given perception, that particular is among the constituents of the perception’s phenomenology. Martin, Campbell, Gomes and French and others defend this thesis. Against them are Mehta, Montague, Schellenberg and others, who have produced strong arguments that the phenomenal particularity thesis is false. Unfortunately, neither side has persuaded the other, and it seems that the debate between them is now at an impasse. This paper aims to break through this impasse. It argues that we have reached the impasse because two distinct conceptions of phenomenology—a “narrow” conception and a “broad” conception—are compatible with our what-it-is-like characterizations of phenomenology. It also suggests that each of these two conceptions has its own theoretical value and use. Therefore, the paper recommends a pluralistic position, on which we acknowledge that there are two kinds of phenomenology: narrow phenomenology (an entity conceived according to the narrow conception) and broad phenomenology (an entity conceived according to the broad conception). The phenomenal particularity thesis is true only with respect to the latter.

    Dispelling the Disjunction Objection to Explanatory Inference

    Kevin McCain and Ted Poston

    August 2019, vol. 19, no. 36, pp. 1-8

    Although inference to the best explanation (IBE) is ubiquitous in science and our everyday lives, there are numerous objections to the viability of IBE. Many of these objections have been thoroughly discussed, however, at least one objection to IBE has not received adequate treatment. We term this objection the “Disjunction Objection”. This objection challenges IBE on the grounds that it seems that even if H is the best explanation, it could be that the disjunction of its rivals is more likely to be true. As a result, IBE appears to license accepting a hypothesis that is more likely than not to be false. Despite these initial appearances, we argue that the Disjunction Objection fails to impugn IBE.

    An Essentialist Theory of the Meaning of Slurs

    Eleonore Neufeld

    August 2019, vol. 19, no. 35, pp. 1-29

    In this paper, I develop an essentialist model of the semantics of slurs. I defend the view that slurs are a species of kind terms: Slur concepts encode mini-theories which represent an essence-like element that is causally connected to a set of negatively-valenced stereotypical features of a social group. The truth-conditional contribution of slur nouns can then be captured by the following schema: For a given slur S of a social group G and a person P, S is true of P iff P bears the “essence” of G—whatever this essence is—which is causally responsible for stereotypical negative features associated with G and predicted of P. Since there is no essence that is causally responsible for stereotypical negative features of a social group, slurs have null-extension, and consequently, many sentences containing them are either meaningless or false. After giving a detailed outline of my theory, I show that it receives strong linguistic support. In particular, it can account for a wide range of linguistic cases that are regarded as challenging, central data for any theory of slurs. Finally, I show that my theory also receives convergent support from cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics.

    Coming Soon

    Slurs Are Directives

    Cameron Domenico Kirk-Giannini

    Is Leibniz's Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles Necessary or Contingent?

    Sebastian Bender

    Amo on the Heterogeneity Problem

    Julie Walsh