Matching Items (17)

Carnap and Conventionality

Description

One of the central ideas in Rudolf Carnap's philosophy is that of convention. For Carnap, conventionality holds as long as there is some latitude of choice for which theoretical reasoning (correctness vs. incorrectness with regard to the facts) is insufficient

One of the central ideas in Rudolf Carnap's philosophy is that of convention. For Carnap, conventionality holds as long as there is some latitude of choice for which theoretical reasoning (correctness vs. incorrectness with regard to the facts) is insufficient and practical reasoning is needed to decide between the alternatives. Carnap uses this understanding of convention to show how one can circumvent the problem of justification for areas such as physical geometry and logic, and he also uses it to propose a new paradigm for philosophy, namely his proposal of the Principle of Tolerance. I maintain that such an understanding of conventionality is helpful and that it ought to be more widely adopted. I also believe that it would be difficult to apply this understanding of conventionality to the realm of religion, but it can be easily and helpfully applied to the realm of politics.

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2016-05

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Problem Class Dominance in Predictive Dilemmas

Description

One decision procedure dominates a given one if it performs well on the entire class of problems the given decision procedure performs well on, and then goes on to perform well on other problems that the given decision procedure does

One decision procedure dominates a given one if it performs well on the entire class of problems the given decision procedure performs well on, and then goes on to perform well on other problems that the given decision procedure does badly on. Performing well will be defined as generating higher expected utility before entering a problem. In this paper it will be argued that the timeless decision procedure dominates the causal
and evidential decision procedures. It will also be argued in turn that the updateless decision procedure dominates the timeless decision procedure. The difficulties of formalizing a modern variant of the ”smoking gene” problem will then be briefly examined.

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2014-05

Perspectives on Inductive Inference

Description

There is no doubt that inductive logic and inductive arguments are vital to the formation of scientific theories. This thesis questions the use of inductive inferences within the sciences. Specifically, it will examine various perspectives on David Hume's famed "problem

There is no doubt that inductive logic and inductive arguments are vital to the formation of scientific theories. This thesis questions the use of inductive inferences within the sciences. Specifically, it will examine various perspectives on David Hume's famed "problem of induction". Hume proposes that inductive inferences cannot be logically justified. Here we will explore several assessments of Hume's ideas and inductive logic in general. We will examine the views of philosophers and logicians: Karl Popper, Nelson Goodman, Larry Laudan, and Wesley Salmon. By comparing the radically different views of these philosophers it is possible to gain insight into the complex nature of making inductive inferences. First, Popper agrees with Hume that inductive inferences can never be logically justified. He maintains that the only way around the problem of induction is to rid science of inductive logic altogether. Goodman, on the other hand, believes induction can be justified in much the same way as deduction is justified. Goodman sets up a logical schema in which the rules of induction justify the particular inductive inferences. These general rules are then in turn justified by correct inferences. In this way, Goodman sets up an explication of inductive logic. Laudan and Salmon go on to provide more specific details about how the particular rules of induction should be constructed. Though both Laudan and Salmon are completing the logic schema of Goodman, their approaches are quite different. Laudan takes a more qualitative approach while Salmon uses the quantitative rules of probability to explicate induction. In the end, it can be concluded that it seems quite possible to justify inductive inferences, though there may be more than one possible set of rules of induction.

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2016-05

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Is interactive computation a superset of Turing computation?

Description

Modern computers interact with the external environment in complex ways — for instance, they interact with human users via keyboards, mouses, monitors, etc., and with other computers via networking. Existing models of computation — Turing machines, λ-calculus functions, etc. —

Modern computers interact with the external environment in complex ways — for instance, they interact with human users via keyboards, mouses, monitors, etc., and with other computers via networking. Existing models of computation — Turing machines, λ-calculus functions, etc. — cannot model these behaviors completely. Some additional conceptual apparatus is required in order to model processes of interactive computation.

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2013-05

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The Genesis Mechanism: an explorative undertaking across academic disciplines in the effort to synthesize a more comprehensive understanding of complexity and the role it has served in the gensis of life

Description

The field of biologic research is particularly concerned with understanding nature's complex dynamics. From deducing anatomical structures to studying behavioral patterns, evolutionary theory has developed greatly beyond the simple notions proposed by Charles Darwin. However, because it rarely considers the

The field of biologic research is particularly concerned with understanding nature's complex dynamics. From deducing anatomical structures to studying behavioral patterns, evolutionary theory has developed greatly beyond the simple notions proposed by Charles Darwin. However, because it rarely considers the concept of complexity, modern evolutionary theory retains some descriptive weakness. This project represents an explorative approach for considering complexity and whether it plays an active role in the development of biotic systems. A novel theoretical framework, titled the Genesis Mechanism, was formulated reconsidering the major tenets of evolutionary theory to include complexity as a universal tendency. Within this framework, a phenomenon, referred to as "social transitioning," occurs between higher orders of complexity. Several potential properties of social transitions were proposed and analyzed in order to validate the theoretical concepts proposed within the Genesis Mechanism. The successful results obtained through this project's completion help demonstrate the scientific necessity for understanding complexity from a more fundamental, biologic standpoint.

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2013-05

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Environmental values, objectivity, and advocacy: a sociological study of academic environmental scientists

Description

Professional environmental scientists are increasingly under pressure to inform and even shape policy. Scientists engage policy effectively when they act within the bounds of objectivity, credibility, and authority, yet significant portions of the scientific community condemn such acts as advocacy.

Professional environmental scientists are increasingly under pressure to inform and even shape policy. Scientists engage policy effectively when they act within the bounds of objectivity, credibility, and authority, yet significant portions of the scientific community condemn such acts as advocacy. They argue that it is nonobjective, that it risks damaging the credibility of science, and that it is an abuse of authority. This means objectivity, credibility, and authority deserve direct attention before the policy advocacy quagmire can be reasonably understood. I investigate the meaning of objectivity in science and that necessarily brings the roles of values in science into question. This thesis is a sociological study of the roles environmental values play in the decisions of environmental scientists working in the institution of academia. I argue that the gridlocked nature of the environmental policy advocacy debates can be traced to what seems to be a deep tension and perhaps confusion among these scientists. I provide empirical evidence of this tension and confusion through the use of in depth semi-structured interviews among a sampling of academic environmental scientists (AES). I show that there is a struggle for these AES to reconcile their support for environmentalist values and goals with their commitment to scientific objectivity and their concerns about being credible scientists in the academy. Additionally, I supplemented my data collection with environmental sociology and history, plus philosophy and sociology of science literatures. With this, I developed a system for understanding values in science (of which environmental values are a subset) with respect to the limits of my sample and study. This examination of respondent behavior provides support that it is possible for AES to act on their environmental values without compromising their objectivity, credibility, and authority. These scientists were not likely to practice this in conversations with colleagues and policy-makers, but were likely to behave this way with students. The legitimate extension of this behavior is a viable route for continuing to integrate the human and social dimensions of environmental science into its practice, its training, and its relationship with policy.

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2012

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Cornering the truth: a defense of scientific realism

Description

This is a study of scientific realism, and of the extent to which it is undermined by objections that have been raised by advocates of various forms of antirealism. I seek to develop and present a version of scientific realism

This is a study of scientific realism, and of the extent to which it is undermined by objections that have been raised by advocates of various forms of antirealism. I seek to develop and present a version of scientific realism that improves on past formulations, and then to show that standard antirealist arguments against it do not succeed. In this paper, I will first present my formulation of scientific realism, which conceives of theories as model-based and as fundamentally non-linguistic. I advocate an epistemic position that accords with indirect realism, and I review and assess the threat posed by theses of underdetermination. Next, I review and discuss three important views: the antirealist constructivist view of Thomas Kuhn, the realist view of Norwood Hanson, and the antirealist constructive empiricist view of Bas van Fraassen. I find merits and flaws in all three views. In the course of those discussions, I develop the theme that antirealists' arguments generally depend on assumptions that are open to question, especially from the perspective of the version of realism I advocate. I further argue that these antirealist views are undermined by their own tacit appeals to realism.

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2013

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Analytic functionalism as a foundation for the contention that a non-biological machine (Android) can be viewed as both a legal and a moral person

Description

This Thesis contends that if the designer of a non-biological machine (android) can establish that the machine exhibits certain specified behaviors or characteristics, then there is no principled reason to deny that the machine can be considered a legal person.

This Thesis contends that if the designer of a non-biological machine (android) can establish that the machine exhibits certain specified behaviors or characteristics, then there is no principled reason to deny that the machine can be considered a legal person. The thesis also states that given a related but not necessarily identical set of characteristics, there is no principled reason to deny that the non-biological machine can make a claim to a level of moral personhood. It is the purpose of my analysis to delineate some of the specified behaviors required for each of these conditions so as to provide guidance and understanding to designers seeking to establish criteria for creation of such machines. Implicit in the stated thesis are assumptions concerning what is meant by a non-biological machine. I use analytic functionalism as a mechanism to establish a framework within which to operate. In order to develop this framework it is necessary to provide an analysis of what currently constitutes the attributes of a legal person, and to likewise examine what are the roots of the claim to moral personhood. This analysis consists of a treatment of the concept of legal personhood starting with the Greek and Roman views and tracing the line of development through the modern era. This examination then explores at a more abstract level what it means to be a person. Next, I examine law's role as a normative system, placing it within the context of the previous discussions. Then, criteria such as autonomy and intentionality are discussed in detail and are related to the over all analysis of the thesis. Following this, moral personhood is examined using the animal rights movement of the last thirty years as an argument by analogy to the question posed by the thesis. Finally, all of the above concepts are combined in a way that will provide a basis for analyzing and testing future assertions that a non-biological entity has a plausible claim for legal or moral personhood. If such an entity exhibits the type of intentionality and autonomy which humans view as the foundation of practical reason, in combination with other indicia of sentience described by "folk psychology", analytic functionalism suggests that there is no principled reason to deny the android's claim to rights.

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2011

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Three perspectives on multilevel selection: an experimental, historical, and synthetic analysis of group-level selection

Description

During the 1960s, the long-standing idea that traits or behaviors could be

explained by natural selection acting on traits that persisted "for the good of the group" prompted a series of debates about group-level selection and the effectiveness with which natural

During the 1960s, the long-standing idea that traits or behaviors could be

explained by natural selection acting on traits that persisted "for the good of the group" prompted a series of debates about group-level selection and the effectiveness with which natural selection could act at or across multiple levels of biological organization. For some this topic remains contentious, while others consider the debate settled, even while disagreeing about when and how resolution occurred, raising the question: "Why have these debates continued?"

Here I explore the biology, history, and philosophy of the possibility of natural selection operating at levels of biological organization other than the organism by focusing on debates about group-level selection that have occurred since the 1960s. In particular, I use experimental, historical, and synthetic methods to review how the debates have changed, and whether different uses of the same words and concepts can lead to different interpretations of the same experimental data.

I begin with the results of a group-selection experiment I conducted using the parasitoid wasp Nasonia, and discuss how the interpretation depends on how one conceives of and defines a "group." Then I review the history of the group selection controversy and argue that this history is best interpreted as multiple, interrelated debates rather than a single continuous debate. Furthermore, I show how the aspects of these debates that have changed the most are related to theoretical content and empirical data, while disputes related to methods remain largely unchanged. Synthesizing this material, I distinguish four different "approaches" to the study of multilevel selection based on the questions and methods used by researchers, and I use the results of the Nasonia experiment to discuss how each approach can lead to different interpretations of the same experimental data. I argue that this realization can help to explain why debates about group and multilevel selection have persisted for nearly sixty years. Finally, the conclusions of this dissertation apply beyond evolutionary biology by providing an illustration of how key concepts can change over time, and how failing to appreciate this fact can lead to ongoing controversy within a scientific field.

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2014

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The conceptual span and plausibility of emergence applied to the problem of mental causation

Description

This thesis explores the conceptual span and plausibility of emergence and its applicability to the problem of mental causation. The early parts of the project explicate a distinction between weak and strong emergence as described by Jaegwon Kim. They also

This thesis explores the conceptual span and plausibility of emergence and its applicability to the problem of mental causation. The early parts of the project explicate a distinction between weak and strong emergence as described by Jaegwon Kim. They also consider Kim's objections regarding the conceptual incoherence of strong emergence and the otiose nature of weak emergence. The paper then explores Mark Bedau's in-between conception of emergence and ultimately finds that middle conception to be both coherent and useful. With these three emergence distinctions in hand, the thesis goes on to explore Evan Thompson's recent work - Mind in Life (2010). In that work, Thompson advances a strong emergence approach to mind, whereby he concludes the incipient stages of cognition are found at the most basic levels of life, namely - biologic cells. Along the way, Thompson embraces holism and a nonfundamental
onhierarchical physics in order to counter Jaegwon Kim's objections to the notion of downward causation needed for strong emergence. The thesis presents arguments against Thompson's holism and nonfundamental physics, while supporting his assertion regarding the incipient stages of cognition. It then combines an important distinction between mental causation and the experience of mental causation with Thompson's notion of incipient cognition to arrive at a dual realms approach to understanding mental causation.

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2013