Browse by Author
On the Open-Endedness of Logical Space
Modal logicism is the view that a metaphysical possibility is just a non-absurd way for the world to be. I argue that modal logicists should see metaphysical possibility as "open ended'': any given possibilities can be used to characterize further possibilities. I then develop a formal framework for modal languages that is a good fit for the modal logicist and show that it delivers some attractive results.
|Agustín Rayo||vol. 20||2020|
On the Interest in Beauty and Disinterest
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.
|Nick Riggle||vol. 16||June 2016|
A Decision Theory for Imprecise Probabilities
Those who model doxastic states with a set of probability functions, rather than a single function, face a pressing challenge: can they provide a plausible decision theory compatible with their view? Adam Elga (2010) and others claim that they cannot, and that the set of functions model should be rejected for this reason. This paper aims to answer this challenge. The key insight is that the set of functions model can be seen as an instance of the supervaluationist approach to vagueness more generally. We can then generate our decision theory by applying the general supervaluationist semantics to decision-theoretic claims. The result: if an action is permissible according to all functions in the set, it’s determinately permissible; if impermissible according to all, determinately impermissible; and – crucially – if permissible according to some, but not all, it’s indeterminate whether it’s permissible. This proposal handles with ease some difficult cases (including one from Elga (2010)) on which alternative decision theories falter. One reason this view has been overlooked in the literature thus far is that all parties to the debate presuppose that an acceptable decision theory must classify each action as either permissible or impermissible. But I will argue that this thought is misguided. Seeing the set of functions model as an instance of supervaluationism provides a compelling motivation for the claim that there can be indeterminacy in the rationality of some actions.
|Susanna Rinard||vol. 15||February 2015|
Abortion, Ultrasound, and Moral Persuasion
We ought to treat others’ moral views with respect, even when we disagree. But what does that mean? This paper articulates a moral obligation to make ourselves open to sincere moral persuasion by others. Doing so allows us to participate in valuable relationships of reciprocal respect for agency. Yet this proposal can sound tritely agreeable. To explore its full implications, the paper applies the general obligation to one of the most challenging topics of moral disagreement: the morality of abortion. I consider and reject arguments that abortion decisions have special features exempting them from the obligation to be open to moral persuasion. Further, I argue that viewing fetal ultrasound images can accomplish morally persuasion. Accordingly, in at least some cases a woman seeking abortion has an obligation to view fetal ultrasound images as a means of being open to moral persuasion. However, this conclusion does not support recent laws compelling women seeking abortion to view ultrasound images; such laws are in fact incompatible with the respect for agency that underwrites the obligation to be open to persuasion.
|Regina Rini||vol. 18||2018|
Revising Up: Strengthening Classical Logic in the Face of Paradox
This paper provides a defense of the full strength of classical logic, in a certain form, against those who would appeal to semantic paradox or vagueness in an argument for a weaker logic. I will not argue that these paradoxes are based on mistaken principles; the approach I recommend will extend a familiar formulation of classical logic by including a fully transparent truth predicate and fully tolerant vague predicates. It has been claimed that these principles are not compatible with classical logic; I will argue, by both drawing on previous work and presenting new work in the same vein, that this is not so. We can combine classical logic with these intuitive principles, so long as we allow the result to be nontransitive. In the end, I hope the paper will help us to handle familiar paradoxes within classical logic; along the way, I hope to shed some light on what classical logic might be for.
|David Ripley||vol. 13||April 2013|
Norms of Belief and Norms of Assertion in Aesthetics
Why is it that we cannot legitimately make certain aesthetic assertions – for instance that ‘Guernica is harrowing’ or that ‘The Rite of Spring is strangely beautiful’ – on the basis of testimony alone? In this paper I consider a species of argument intended to demonstrate that the best explanation for the impermissibility of such assertions is that a particular view of the norms of aesthetic belief – pessimism concerning aesthetic testimony – is correct. I begin by outlining the strongest instance of such ‘arguments from assertion’ and demonstrating that it presents a powerful motivation for embracing pessimism; the view that it is illegitimate to form aesthetic beliefs on the basis of testimony alone. I then go on to argue that, appearances notwithstanding, the pessimist’s opponents – optimists concerning aesthetic testimony – are able to provide an explanation for the impermissibility of these assertions which is at least as good as, and in some respects better than, that offered by their pessimist. The explanation I propose draws on some important work on signalling in aesthetics, by Denis Dutton and others, to argue that the problem with such assertions is closely parallel to the problem Dutton claims is generated by forgeries. Those making such assertions misrepresent a piece of aesthetic labour (in this case a critical judgement) as their own, when, in fact, it is the work of another. I also explore the wider implications of this view for debates in aesthetic epistemology and beyond.
|Jon Robson||vol. 15||February 2015|
Discrimination-Conduciveness and Observation Selection Effects
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.
|William Roche; Elliott Sober||vol. 19||2019|