rss_2.0Disputatio FeedSciendo RSS Feed for Disputatio Feed’s Notion of Deduction<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Aristotle’s notion of deduction (syllogism) differs from the conception of logical consequence in classical logic in two essential features, which are required by Aristotle’s definition of syllogism and are incorporated into his formalisation of deduction: in addition to the standard necessary truth-preservation, Aristotle requires relevance of premises for the conclusion and non-repetition of premises in the conclusion. These requirements, together with Aristotle’s conception of simple propositions, lead to the result that valid deductive steps (syllogisms) must have very specific forms, namely the well-known syllogistic shape. All other kinds of deduction lacking this shape, such as “syllogisms based on a hypothesis”, can be considered “syllogisms” only in a relative sense: they are based on an assumption of the existence of genuine syllogistic deductions in the syllogistic shape. Aristotle’s demands should cover all kinds of deduction: all valid deduction must be relevant and non-repetitive. This brings Aristotle’s definition much closer to the intuition associated with the notion of logical consequence.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue of Commitments<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In this paper, I examine Brandom’s notion of a <italic>de re</italic> reading of a tradition and question its legitimacy under certain circumstances. Specifically, I argue that within the language game of giving and asking for reasons, commitments should be ascribed to the utterer within reasonable limits, with the utterer only responsible for intentional or negligent breaches of duty. Even if we were to include an ideal speaker who knows all facts available at the time of her utterance, she cannot be held accountable for ignorance of things that do not yet exist. Therefore, I further argue that the time of the utterance must be taken into consideration when ascribing commitments and keeping score in the game of giving and asking for reasons. This temporal aspect is suppressed by Brandom’s notion of <italic>de re</italic> reading for pragmatic reasons, as he seeks to tell an inferentialist story of the philosophical tradition. Nevertheless, I argue that legitimacy poses a problem even for this approach because Brandom formulates his account in terms of rules, responsibility and sanctions. I offer a critical perspective on Brandom’s <italic>de re</italic> reading and the broader implications of his inferentialist framework.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Powers or a Power of the Self?<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>One argument against epiphenomenalism arises from the theory of evolution. A particularly powerful form of this argument was developed by William James. James argued against epiphenomenalism on the grounds that, if it were correct, it would be inexplicable why the things that we find pleasurable are mostly beneficial to us while the things we find painful are mostly harmful. The aim of the present paper is to defend and extend James’s argument. James’s argument is here defended against criticisms due to Karl Popper, John Eccles and William Robinson. Recently, an argument similar to James’s has been developed by Hedda Hassel Mørch. Mørch argues that the phenomena to which James drew our attention can be explained if we say pleasure and pain have phenomenal powers. In the present paper it is argued that, as it stands, the argument developed by Mørch is not satisfactory. It is argued that Mørch’s account needs to be supplemented with the thesis that the self has certain causal powers. A similar addition, it is argued, needs to be made to a position defended by Bradford Saad. The paper argues that, supplemented with the appropriate attributions of causal powers to the self, James’s argument against epiphenomenalism is effective.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue There Basic Knowledge of Necessary Truth?<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Following Kant, Frege took the idea that there is such a thing as <italic>bona fide a priori</italic> knowledge of a large range of necessary propositions for granted. In particular he assumed that such is the character of our knowledge of basic logic and arithmetic. This view is no longer orthodoxy. The idea that pure (for Frege, logical) intellection can provide for substantial knowledge of necessary features of the world is widely regarded with suspicion. However it is fair to say that most recent scepticism about it has been driven either by abstract background theoretical commitments—for instance, by a thoroughgoing empiricism, as in Mill and Quine, or by epistemological externalism1—or by the conviction that the concept of <italic>a priori</italic> justification allows of no stable, theoretically interesting characterisation.2 The present discussion focuses on the example of elementary arithmetic to develop and explore a different, relatively neglected and, it may be suggested, more fundamental kind of sceptical challenge, one prefigured in the writings on mathematics of the later Wittgenstein but independent of the discussion of following a rule to which his generally deflationary or conventionalist cast of thinking about mathematical knowledge is, after Kripkenstein,<sup>3</sup> nowadays usually attributed. Elementary arithmetical truths are normally taken to be justifiable <italic>a priori</italic> if any truths are. They are also normally taken to be both necessary and substantial—essentially applicable to our dealings with the world and empirically predictive, yet good for counterfactual reasoning about however far-fetched and exotic scenarios. Yet, I will argue, scrutiny of the kind of methods—simple informal cognitive routines involving counting and pictures—whereby such judgements are initially apt to win our confidence serves to make it puzzling how they can <italic>justify</italic> what they are supposed to at all: how such procedures can merit either the very high levels of confidence we standardly place in the judgements they lead to, or the modal (counterfactual) significance we standardly attach to those judgements. The present discussion elaborates these apparent shortfalls (§§2–4) and reviews four proposals (§§5–8) for redressing them, arguing that each is ineffective. The sceptical challenge accordingly stands unanswered. §9 elaborates its relation to one strand in the <italic>Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics</italic>. §10 summarises the resulting dialectical position. The upshot, I believe, is a deepened understanding of an important aspect of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy and a major intellectual challenge to those—possibly still a majority—who incline to side with Frege’s view of the epistemological status of arithmetic.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Intentionality and the Temporal Shape of Experience<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This paper argues for the claim that the mental ontology required for what has been called the “Phenomenal Intentionality Theory” (PIT) should be understood in terms of mental events or episodes, not mental states that instantiate phenomenal properties because the former but not the latter has a kind of temporal shape. I begin by laying out the basic commitments of PIT. I then introduce the notion of “temporal shape” and defend the following simple but powerful argument: (1) If conscious experiences are phenomenal mental states that instantiate phenomenal properties, then the phenomenal character of these experiences will lack a temporal shape. (2) The phenomenal character of conscious experience typically has a temporal shape. (3) Therefore, conscious experiences are not mental states that instantiate phenomenal properties.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue we prevent preventable evils?<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In <italic>Practical Ethics</italic> Peter Singer argues for an ‘obligation to assist’:</p> <p><italic>First premise:</italic> If we can prevent something bad without sacrificing anything of comparable significance, we ought to do it.</p> <p><italic>Second premise:</italic> Absolute poverty is bad.</p> <p><italic>Third premise:</italic> There is some absolute poverty we can prevent without sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance.</p> <p><italic>Conclusion:</italic> We ought to prevent some absolute poverty.</p> <p>This paper is dedicated to a criticism of four readings of the first premise and an undesirable link the first premise has with the third. The paper ends by offering a alternative formulation of an ‘obligation to assist,’ which suffers from none of these problems.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue in a Branching Universe<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In most cases, we think that what settles what act it is right to perform is sensitive to what we take the facts about the world to be. But those facts include many controversial metaphysical claims about the world. I argue that depending on what metaphysical model we take to be correct, we will have very different views about what the right actions are. In particular, I argue that if a particular metaphysical model — the branching universe model — is correct, then many of our ethical intuitions are false. We need to think carefully about the relation between ethical and metaphysical intuitions, and ethical and metaphysical theories.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Notice Defending the Martian Argument<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The Chomskian holds that the grammars that linguists produce are about human psycholinguistic structures, i.e. our mastery of a grammar, our linguistic competence. But if we encountered Martians whose psycho-linguistic processes differed from ours, but who nevertheless produced sentences that are extensionally equivalent to the set of sentences in our English and shared our judgements on the grammaticality of various English sentences, then we would count them as being competent in English. A grammar of English is about what the Martians and we share. In this note, I argue that a recent attack on the Martian Argument by Laurence fails to mitigate its force.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Review: , ed. by Brian Leiter Reviews: , by Robert Audi; , by Earl Conee and Richard Feldman, Excluded Reasons and Moral Conflict<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>As a legitimate authoritative directive is a second-order reason, it defeats conflicting reasons by a process of exclusion. Nonetheless, a legitimate authoritative directive can be defeated by more weighty reasons, including, as I argue in this paper, the more weighty reasons it excludes. This is part of a value pluralist conception of authority, according to which there is no general rule for the resolution of conflicting reasons. And I advance this argument in response to the work of Joseph Raz. Although Raz is a value pluralist, he posits a general rule for the resolution of some conflicts: namely, that an exclusionary reason cannot be defeated by a (more weighty) reason it excludes. This represents a weak version of value pluralism. My argument is that Raz does not succeed in his efforts to show that this general rule either better ensures conformity with reason or that it is justified by commitment to autonomy.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Integration Challenge to Strong Representationalism<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>By “strong representationalism” (“SR” hereafter), I mean a version of naturalistic philosophy of mind which first naturalizes intentionality by identifying it with causation to physical properties and then naturalizes phenomenology by identifying it with intentionality or making them co-supervene on each other (Montague [2010]). Most specifically, SR will be taken as the conjunction of causal-function semantics and the intentionality-phenomenology identity thesis, the latter of which entails what I call “converse intentionalism”, the principle that experiential content supervenes on phenomenology. Because of this identity thesis, SR enjoys some phenomenological plausibility which is absent from traditional physicalism of mind. However, in this paper, I shall raise an <italic>integration challenge</italic> to SR by arguing that its foundational principles do not integrate easily. I will also explore some strategies open to SR for addressing my challenge, and argue that by invoking those strategies, SR either loses its phenomenological plausibility or undermines causal-function semantics. I conclude that if my argument is correct, it provides us reason to search for new principles to replace SR’s foundations.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Is Afraid of the Logical Problem in Meta-Ethics?<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Expressivism, as applied to a certain class of statements, evaluative ones, for instance, is constituted by two doctrines, only the first of which will concern me in this paper. Evaluative statements, according to this doctrine, aren’t propositional (susceptible of truth or falsity). In this paper, I will argue that one of the vexing problems (that I label the “logical problem”) this doctrine engenders for the expressivist is equally pressing for some cognitivists (who think evaluative statements <italic>do</italic> have a truth-value). I will present the difficulty and argue that some constructivists, who <italic>are</italic> cognitivists, cannot contend with it at all, and others must resort to more complex ways than the one available to other cognitivists.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Observation Sentences<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>I argue that <italic>pace</italic> Quine, indeterminacy of translation affects observation sentences. I illustrate this indeterminacy with examples and show how it is tied to the indeterminacy affecting the analytical status of observation categoricals. I propose my own construal of the thesis of indeterminacy of translation, according to which indeterminacy is based on the inextricability of meaning and belief. I explain why this construal should be favored over Quine’s.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue Governing of Opinions<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Thomas Hobbes’s most important recommendations for a sovereign reader concerned the governing of opinion. Due to the spread of false doctrines and their powerful champions, Hobbes was afraid that subjects would have opinions contrary to the maintenance of peace. His solution comprehended a combination of civic education and censorship. This text explains how Hobbes justifies his recommendations from the perspective of individual deliberation. It argues that Hobbes conceived censoring circulating doctrines as a way of keeping subjects’ minds like clean paper, ready for the sovereign to imprint civil doctrine in them through teaching, thereby increasing the chances of influencing subjects’ (free) deliberation, and thus of producing obedience.</p> </abstract>ARTICLEtrue a Causal Interpretation of the Common Factor Model<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Psychological constructs such as personality dimensions or cognitive traits are typically unobserved and are therefore measured by observing so-called indicators of the latent construct (e.g., responses to questionnaire items or observed behavior). The Common Factor Model (CFM) models the relations between the observed indicators and the latent variable. In this article we argue in favor of interpreting the CFM as a causal model rather than merely a statistical model, in which common factors are only descriptions of the indicators. When there is sufficient reason to hypothesize that the underlying causal structure of the data is a common cause structure, a causal interpretation of the CFM has several benefits over a merely statistical interpretation of the model. We argue that (1) a causal interpretation conforms with most research questions in which the goal is to <italic>explain</italic> the correlations between indicators rather than merely summarizing them; (2) a causal interpretation of the factor model legitimizes the focus on <italic>shared</italic>, rather than unique variance of the indicators; and (3) a causal interpretation of the factor model legitimizes the assumption of local independence.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Patterns and Biological Explanation<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Turing patterns are a class of minimal mathematical models that have been used to discover and conceptualize certain abstract features of early biological development. This paper examines a range of these minimal models in order to articulate and elaborate a philosophical analysis of their epistemic uses. It is argued that minimal mathematical models aid in structuring the epistemic practices of biology by providing precise descriptions of the quantitative relations between various features of the complex systems, generating novel predictions that can be compared with experimental data, promoting theory exploration, and acting as constitutive parts of empirically adequate explanations of naturally occurring phenomena, such as biological pattern formation. Focusing on the roles that minimal model explanations play in science motivates the adoption of a broader diachronic view of scientific explanation.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue Metabolic Syndrome: Which Kind of Causality, if any, is Required?<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>The definition of metabolic syndrome (MetS) has been, and still is, extremely controversial. My purpose is not to give a solution to the associated debate but to argue that the controversy is at least partially due to the different ‘causal content’ of the various definitions: their theoretical validity and practical utility can be evaluated by reconstructing or making explicit the underlying causal structure. I will therefore propose to distinguish the alternative definitions according to the kinds of causal content they carry: (1) definitions grounded on associations, (2) definitions presupposing a causal model built upon statistical associations, and (3) definitions grounded on underlying mechanisms. I suggest that analysing definitions according to their causal content can be helpful in evaluating alternative definitions of some diseases. I want to show how the controversy over MetS suggests a distinction among three kinds of definitions based on how explicitly they characterise the syndrome in causal terms, and on the type of causality involved. I will call ‘type 1 definitions’ those definitions that are purely associative; ‘type 2 definitions’ the definitions based on statistical associations, plus generic medical and causal knowledge; and ‘type 3 definitions’ the definitions based on (hypotheses about) mechanisms. These kinds of definitions, although different, can be related to each other. A definition with more specific causal content may be useful in the evaluation of definitions characterised by a lower degree of causal specificity. Moreover, the identification of the type of causality involved is of help to constitute a good criterion for choosing among different definitions of a pathological entity.</p><p>In section (1) I introduce the controversy about MetS, in section (2) I propose some remarks about medical definitions and their ‘causal import’, and in section (3) I suggest that the different attitudes towards the definition of MetS are relevant to evaluate their explicative power.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue and Modelling in the Sciences: Introduction<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>The advantage of examining causality from the perspective of modelling is thus that it puts us naturally closer to the practice of the sciences. This means being able to set up an interdisciplinary dialogue that contrasts and compares modelling practices in different fields, say economics and biology, medicine and statistics, climate change and physics. It also means that it helps philosophers looking for questions that go beyond the narrow ‘what-is-causality’ or ‘what-are-relata’ and thus puts causality right at the centre of a complex crossroad: epistemology/methodology, metaphysics, politics/ethics. This special issue collects nine papers that touch upon various scientific fields, from system biology to medicine to quantum mechanics to economics, and different questions, from explanation and prediction to the role of both true and false assumptions in modelling.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue in Systems Medicine<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Systems medicine is a promising new paradigm for discovering associations, causal relationships and mechanisms in medicine. But it faces some tough challenges that arise from the use of big data: in particular, the problem of how to integrate evidence and the problem of how to structure the development of models. I argue that objective Bayesian models offer one way of tackling the evidence integration problem. I also offer a general methodology for structuring the development of models, within which the objective Bayesian approach fits rather naturally.</p></abstract>ARTICLEtrue