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24 When Obstinacy is a Better (Cognitive) Policy

For epistemic subjects like us, updating our credences incurs epistemic costs. Expending our limited processing power and working memory to properly update our credences by some information can come at the cost of not responding to other available information. It is thus desirable to flesh out and compare alternative ways of taking information into account in light of cognitive shortcomings like our own. This paper is a preliminary attempt to do so. I argue that it is better, in a range of circumstances and from the point of view of expected credal accuracy, for epistemic subjects like us not to update on available information that bears on propositions for which substantial evidence has been gathered than it is to update on information as it presents itself. In order to clarify the argument, and enable comparisons between information-response policies more generally, I develop a queue-theoretic model of learning for subjects with cognitive limitations. The model characterizes how policies for responding to information interact with a subject’s limitations to yield confidences. Finally, I discuss implications of the discussion for work on confidence, outright belief, and the relationship between those two states. The comparison of information-response policies helps to (i) explain how some of the “biases” revealed by psychological research might be cognitively valuable, (ii) clarify views that take outright belief to be a kind of epistemic plan that resists reconsideration, and (iii) assuage certain “demandingness” worries for the hypothesis that we are credal reasoners.

Justin Dallmann vol. 17 December 2017
22 Promising by Right

When you offer your promise you expect to be taken at your word. In this paper I shift focus away from more familiar questions about the ground of promissory obligation, concentrating instead on the familiar way that making a promise involves claiming another’s trust. Borrowing an idea from Nietzsche, I suggest that we understand this in terms of a “right to make promises” – that is, a right to “stand security for ourselves,” held and exercised by those who possess the foresight and self-control to make only promises they can keep, and the strength of will required to keep the promises they make. Others recognize a person's right to promise precisely by taking her at her word i.e. by treating her promise itself as a sound and sufficient basis for the belief that she will do as promised. The main aim of the paper is to explicate and defend these ideas. At the end of the paper, I suggest how focusing on this aspect of promising brings to the fore some neglected problems of social justice, concerning the actual distribution of the right to give one’s word in our society.

Jorah Dannenberg vol. 17 November 2017
20 On the Plurality of Grounds

This paper argues that ground is irreducibly plural: a group of facts can be grounded together, as a collective, even though no member of the group has a ground on its own. This kind of plural grounding is applied to the metaphysics of individuals and quantities, yielding a “structuralist” view in each case. Some more general implications of plural grounding are also discussed.

Shamik Dasgupta vol. 14 June 2014
16 Numerical cognition and mathematical realism

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.

Helen De Cruz vol. 16 August 2016
07 PSR

This paper presents an argument for the Principle of Sufficient Reason, the PSR, the principle according to which each thing that exists has an explanation. I begin with several widespread and extremely plausible arguments that I call explicability arguments in which a certain situation is rejected precisely because it would be arbitrary. Building on these plausible cases, I construct a series of explicability arguments that culminates in an explicability argument concerning existence itself. This argument amounts to the claim that the PSR is true. The plausibility of the initial cases in the series provides the basis of an argument for the PSR, an argument that can be rebutted only by drawing a line between the plausible early cases in the series and the apparently unacceptable later cases. I argue that no principled reason for drawing this line has been found and that one cannot draw an unprincipled or arbitrary line without begging the question. The paper concludes that, therefore, this defense of the PSR remains unrebutted and that we have a powerful, new reason to embrace the PSR.

Michael Della Rocca vol. 10 July 2010
09 Beyond Binary: Genderqueer as Critical Gender Kind

We want to know what gender is. But metaphysical approaches to this question have focused on the binary gender kinds men and women. By overlooking those who identify outside of the binary--the group I call 'genderqueer'--we are left without tools for understanding these new and quickly growing gender identifications. This metaphysical gap in turn creates a conceptual lacuna that contributes to systematic misunderstanding of genderqueer persons. In this paper, I argue that to better understand genderqueer identities, we must recognize a new type of gender kind: critical gender kinds, or kinds whose members collectively destabilize one or more pieces of dominant gender ideology. After developing a model of critical gender kinds, I suggest that genderqueer is best modeled as a critical gender kind that destabilizes the 'binary axis', or the piece of dominant gender ideology that says that the only possible genders are the binary, discrete, exclusive, and exhaustive kinds men and women.

Robin Dembroff vol. 20 2020
03 What Is Sexual Orientation?

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.

Robin A. Dembroff vol. 16 January 2016
07 Grounding Explanations

A compelling idea holds that reality has a layered structure. We often disagree about what inhabits the bottom layer (or even if there is one), but we agree that higher up we find chemical, biological, geological, psychological, sociological, economic, etc., entities: molecules, human beings, diamonds, mental states, cities, interest rates, and so on. How is this intuitive talk of a layered structure of entities to be understood? Traditionally, philosophers have proposed to understand layered structure in terms of either reduction or supervenience. But these traditional views face well-known problems. A plausible alternative is that layered structure is to be explicated by appeal to explanations of a certain sort, termed grounding explanations. Grounding explanations tell us what obtains in virtue of what. Unfortunately, the use of grounding explanations to articulate the layered conception faces a problem, which I call the collapse. The collapse turns on the question of how to ground the facts stated by the explanations themselves. In this paper I make a suggestion about how to ground explanations that avoids the collapse. Briefly, the suggestion is that the fact stated by a grounding explanation is grounded in its explanans.

Louis deRosset vol. 13 April 2013
02 Purity of Methods

Throughout history, mathematicians have expressed preference for solutions to problems that avoid introducing concepts that are in one sense or another “foreign” or “alien” to the problem under investigation. This preference for “purity” (which German writers commonly referred to as “methoden Reinheit”) has taken various forms. It has also been persistent. This notwithstanding, it has not been analyzed at even a basic philosophical level. In this paper we give a basic analysis of one conception of purity—what we call topical purity—and discuss its epistemological significance.

Michael Detlefsen; Andrew Arana vol. 11 January 2011
09 Wanting Things You Don't Want: The Case for an Imaginative Analogue of Desire

We argue that beside belief, desire, and imagination, a novel mental state, i-desire, is needed to explain pretend behavior and emotional responses to things you are imagining.

Tyler Doggett; Andy Egan vol. 7 December 2007
11 Rational Credence Through Reasoning

Whereas Bayesians have proposed norms such as probabilism, which requires immediate and permanent certainty in all logical truths, I propose a framework on which credences, including credences in logical truths, are rational because they are based on reasoning that follows plausible rules for the adoption of credences. I argue that my proposed framework has many virtues. In particular, it resolves the problem of logical omniscience.

Sinan Dogramaci vol. 18 May 2018
30 Future-Bias and Practical Reason

Nearly everyone prefers pain to be in the past rather than the future. This seems like a rationally permissible preference. But I argue that appearances are misleading, and that future-biased preferences are in fact irrational. My argument appeals to trade-offs between hedonic experiences and other goods. I argue that we are rationally required to adopt an exchange rate between a hedonic experience and another type of good that stays fixed, regardless of whether the hedonic experience is in the past or future.

Tom Dougherty vol. 15 December 2015
14 A Flexible Contextualist Account of Epistemic Modals

On Angelika Kratzer’s canonical account, modal expressions are represented semantically as quantifiers over possibilities whose domains are contextually restricted. Recently, the canon’s neat story has come under attack. The challenge cases involve the epistemic use of a modal sentence for which no single resolution of its contextual parameter appears capable of accommodating all our intuitions. According to these revisionists, such cases show that the canonical story needs to be amended in some way that makes multiple bodies of information relevant to the assessment of such statements. Here I show that how the right canonical, flexibly contextualist account of modals can accommodate the full range of challenge cases. The key will be to extend Kratzer’s formal semantic account with an account of how context selects values for a modal’s parameters. The strategy here is a broadly Gricean one; on this view, a context must be capable of publicly manifesting a speaker’s parameter-value determining intentions. I argue that all of the challenge cases can be explained in a contextualist-friendly way by appeal to the failure of this publicity constraint on contexts.

J.L. Dowell vol. 11 November 2011
04 "The Unity of Time's Measure": Kant's Reply to Locke

In a crucial passage of the second-edition Transcendental Deduction, Kant claims that the concept of motion is central to our understanding of change and temporal order. I show that this seemingly idle claim is really integral to the Deduction, understood as a replacement for Locke's "physiological " epistemology (cf. A86-7/B119). Béatrice Longuenesse has shown that Kant's notion of distinctively inner receptivity derives from Locke. To explain the a priori application of concepts such as succession to this mode of sensibility, Kant construes the mind as receptive to its own activity. As Longuenesse understands Kant's response to Locke, "motion " becomes little more than a metaphor for the action of understanding on inner sense. For Michael Friedman, in contrast, this passage evidences Kant's deep concern with the foundations of Newtonian science. He reads it as a reference to inertial motion, the standard by which temporal intervals are measured. I show that Longuenesse's and Friedman's interpretations are in fact complementary. Both Locke and Kant are deeply concerned with the quantification of time. So Longuenesse is right that §24 is meant to supplant Locke's account, and Friedman correctly takes it as the foundation of Kant's account of the application of quantitative concepts to time. Kant aims, specifically, to explain cognition of time as continuous magnitude. However, Longuenesse leaves Kant without an answer to Locke's challenge that continuous magnitude cannot be understood on the basis of discrete magnitude. And on Friedman's view Kant's account of the understanding's activity presupposes, and thus cannot explain, the achievements of the mathematical sciences (such as the representation of temporal continuity). On my reading, Kant's key contention is that we must regard the segregation of temporally ordered representation into units as the work of the understanding, rather than (as Locke views it) of sensibility. By giving the understanding this role, Kant succeeds where he takes Locke to fail. I show how the power to unify temporal representation can be ascribed to the understanding on the basis, not of assumed mathematical or scientific knowledge, but of its characterization as the power of judgment.

Katherine Dunlop vol. 9 June 2009