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 Erkenntnis    [13 followers]  Follow        Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)      ISSN (Print) 1572-8420 - ISSN (Online) 0165-0106      Published by Springer-Verlag  [2210 journals]   [SJR: 0.62]   [H-I: 14]
• Ceteris Paribus Laws in Physics
• Abstract: Abstract Earman and Roberts (in Synthese 118:439–478, 1999) claim that there is neither a persuasive account of the truth-conditions of ceteris paribus laws, nor of how such laws can be confirmed or disconfirmed. I will give an account of the truth conditions of ceteris paribus laws in physics in terms of dispositions. It will meet the objections standardly raised against such an account. Furthermore I will elucidate how ceteris paribus laws can be tested in physics. The essential point is that physics provides methodologies for dealing with disturbing factors. For this reason disturbing factors need not be listed explicitly in law-statements. In virtue of the methodologies it is possible to test how systems would behave if the disturbing factors were absent. I will argue that this suffices to establish the tenability of the dispositional account of ceteris paribus laws.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Do Statistical Laws Solve the ‘Problem of Provisos’?
• Abstract: Abstract In their influential paper “Ceteris Paribus, There is No Problem of Provisos”, Earman and Roberts (Synthese 118:439–478, 1999) propose to interpret the non-strict generalizations of the special sciences as statistical generalizations about correlations. I call this view the “statistical account”. Earman and Roberts claim that statistical generalizations are not qualified by “non-lazy” ceteris paribus conditions. The statistical account is an attractive view, since it looks exactly like what everybody wants: it is a simple and intelligible theory of special science laws without the need for mysterious ceteris paribus conditions. I present two challenges to the statistical account. According to the first challenge, the statistical account does not get rid of so-called “non-lazy” ceteris paribus conditions. This result undermines one of the alleged and central advantages of the statistical account. The second challenge is that the statistical account, qua general theory of special science laws, is weakened by the fact that idealized law statements resist a purely statistical interpretation.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Ceteris Paribus Laws Need Machines to Generate Them
• Abstract: Abstract Most of the regularities that get represented as ‘laws’ in our sciences arise from, and are to be found regularly associated with, the successful operation of a nomological machine. Reference to the nomological machine must be included in the cp-clause of a cp-law if the entire cp-claim is to be true. We agree, for example, ‘ceteris paribus aspirins cure headaches’, but insist that they can only do so when swallowed by someone with the right physiological makeup and a headache. Besides providing a necessary condition on the truth of the cp-law claim, recognising the nomological machine has great practical importance. Referring to the nomological machine makes explicit where the regularities are to be found, which is of central importance to the use of cp-laws for prediction and manipulation. Equally important, bringing the nomological machine to the fore brings into focus the make-up of the machine—its parts, their powers and their arrangements—and its context case-by-case.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• CP-Law Statements as Vague, Self-Referential, Self-Locating, Statistical,
and Perfectly in Order
• Abstract: Abstract I propose understanding CP-law statements as statements that assert the existence of vague statistical laws, not by fully specifying the contents of those laws, but by picking them out via a description that is both self-referential and self-locating. I argue that this proposal validates many common assumptions about CP-laws and correctly classifies many examples of putative CP-laws. It does this while avoiding the most serious worries that motivate some philosophers to be skeptical of CP-laws, namely the worry that they lack non-trivial truth conditions and that it is impossible for empirical evidence to disconfirm them.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Thinking about Non-Universal Laws
• Abstract: Abstract What are ceteris paribus (cp) laws? Which disciplines appeal to cp laws and which semantics, metaphysical underpinning, and epistemological dimensions do cp law statements have? Firstly, we give a short overview of the recent discussion on cp laws, which addresses these questions. Secondly, we suggest that given the rich and diverse literature on cp laws a broad conception of cp laws should be endorsed which takes into account the different ways in which laws can be non-universal (by being "non-strict", "inexact", "exception-ridden", "idealized" and so forth). Finally, we provide an overview of the special issue on that basis and describe the individual contributions to the special issue according to the issues they address: (a) the range of applications of cp laws as well as the (b) semantics, (c) metaphysics, and (d) epistemology pertaining to cp law statements.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• The Role of Kinds in the Semantics of Ceteris Paribus Laws
• Abstract: Abstract This paper investigates the interaction between semantic theories for cp-laws (roughly, laws that hold “all things equal”) and metaphysical theories of kinds in the special sciences. Its central conclusion is that cp-laws concerning kinds behave differently from cp-laws concerning non-kinds: “ravens are black” which concerns the kind corvus corax, behaves differently from from “albino ravens are white” which concerns the non-kind grouping of albino ravens. I argue that this difference is in the first instance logical: the two sorts of cp-laws give rise to different inferential patterns. I draw two further conclusions. The difference in logical behavior poses a severe problem for extant semantic theories of cp-laws, and: we cannot elucidate the distinction between kinds and non-kinds by suggesting that only kinds can appear in laws.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Do Ceteris Paribus Laws Exist? A Regularity-Based Best System Analysis
• Abstract: Abstract This paper argues that ceteris paribus (cp) laws exist based on a Lewisian best system analysis of lawhood (BSA). Furthermore, it shows that a BSA faces a second trivialization problem besides the one identified by Lewis. The first point concerns an argument against cp laws by Earman and Roberts. The second point aims to help making some assumptions of the BSA explicit. To address the second trivialization problem, a restriction in terms of natural logical constants is proposed that allows one to describe regularities, as specified by basic generics (e.g. ‘birds can fly’) and universals (e.g. ‘all birds can fly’). It is argued that cp laws rather than strict laws might be a part of the the best system of such a regularity-based BSA, since sets of cp laws can be both (a) simpler and (b) stronger when reconstructed as generic non-material conditionals. Yet, if sets of cp laws might be a part of the best system of a BSA and thus qualify as proper laws of nature, it seems reasonable to conclude that at least some cp laws qualify as proper laws of nature.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• High-Level Exceptions Explained
• Abstract: Abstract Why are causal generalizations in the higher-level sciences “inexact”? That is, why do they have apparent exceptions? This paper offers one explanation: many causal generalizations cite as their antecedent—the $$F$$ in $$Fs\,\, {\textit{are}}\,\, G$$ —a property that is not causally relevant to the consequent, but which is rather “entangled” with a causally relevant property. Entanglement is a relation that may exist for many reasons, and that allows of exceptions. Causal generalizations that specify entangled but causally irrelevant antecedents therefore tolerate exceptions.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Better Best Systems and the Issue of CP-Laws
• Abstract: Abstract This paper combines two ideas: (1) That the Lewisian best system analysis of lawhood (BSA) can cope with laws that have exceptions (cf. Braddon-Mitchell in Noûs 35(2):260–277, 2001; Schrenk in The metaphysics of ceteris paribus laws. Ontos, Frankfurt, 2007). (2) That a BSA can be executed not only on the mosaic of perfectly natural properties but also on any set of special science properties (cf., inter alia, Schrenk 2007, Selected papers contributed to the sections of GAP.6, 6th international congress of the society for analytical philosophy. Mentis, Paderborn/Münster, 2008; Cohen and Callender in Philos Stud 145:1–34, 2009, Erkenntnis 73:427–447, 2010). Bringing together (1) and (2) results in an analysis of special science ceteris paribus laws.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Perceptual Learning and the Contents of Perception
• Abstract: Abstract Suppose you have recently gained a disposition for recognizing a high-level kind property, like the property of being a wren. Wrens might look different to you now. According to the Phenomenal Contrast Argument, such cases of perceptual learning show that the contents of perception can include high-level kind properties such as the property of being a wren. I detail an alternative explanation for the different look of the wren: a shift in one’s attentional pattern onto other low-level properties. Philosophers have alluded to this alternative before, but I provide a comprehensive account of the view, show how my account significantly differs from past claims, and offer a novel argument for the view. Finally, I show that my account puts us in a position to provide a new objection to the Phenomenal Contrast Argument.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Know Your Rights: On Warranted Assertion and Truth
• Abstract: Abstract A standard objection to the suggestion that the fundamental norm of assertion is the truth norm (i.e., one must not assert p unless p) is that this norm cannot explain why warrant requires knowledge-level evidence. In a recent paper, Whiting has defended the truth-first approach to the norms of assertion by appeal to a distinction between the warrant there is to assert and the warrant one has to assert. I shall argue that this latest defensive strategy is unsuccessful.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Types of Uncertainty
• Abstract: Abstract We distinguish three qualitatively different types of uncertainty—ethical, option and state space uncertainty—that are distinct from state uncertainty, the empirical uncertainty that is typically measured by a probability function on states of the world. Ethical uncertainty arises if the agent cannot assign precise utilities to consequences. Option uncertainty arises when the agent does not know what precise consequence an act has at every state. Finally, state space uncertainty exists when the agent is unsure how to construct an exhaustive state space. These types of uncertainty are characterised along three dimensions—nature, object and severity—and the relationship between them is examined. We conclude that these different forms of uncertainty cannot be reduced to empirical uncertainty about the state of the world without inducing an increase in its severity.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• How Uncertain Do We Need to Be?
• Abstract: Abstract Expert probability forecasts can be useful for decision making (Sect. 1). But levels of uncertainty escalate: however the forecaster expresses the uncertainty that attaches to a forecast, there are good reasons for her to express a further level of uncertainty, in the shape of either imprecision or higher order uncertainty (Sect. 2). Bayesian epistemology provides the means to halt this escalator, by tying expressions of uncertainty to the propositions expressible in an agent’s language (Sect. 3). But Bayesian epistemology comes in three main varieties. Strictly subjective Bayesianism and empirically-based subjective Bayesianism have difficulty in justifying the use of a forecaster’s probabilities for decision making (Sect. 4). On the other hand, objective Bayesianism can justify the use of these probabilities, at least when the probabilities are consistent with the agent’s evidence (Sect. 5). Hence objective Bayesianism offers the most promise overall for explaining how testimony of uncertainty can be useful for decision making. Interestingly, the objective Bayesian analysis provided in Sect. 5 can also be used to justify a version of the Principle of Reflection (Sect. 6).
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Function Ascription and Explanation: Elaborating an Explanatory Utility
Desideratum for Ascriptions of Technical Functions
• Abstract: Abstract Current philosophical theorizing about technical functions is mainly focused on specifying conditions under which agents are justified in ascribing functions to technical artifacts. Yet, assessing the precise explanatory relevance of such function ascriptions is, by and large, a neglected topic in the philosophy of technical artifacts and technical functions. We assess the explanatory utility of ascriptions of technical functions in the following three explanation-seeking contexts: (i) why was artifact x produced?, (ii) why does artifact x not have the expected capacity to ϕ?, (iii) how does artifact x realize its capacity to ϕ? We argue that while function ascriptions serve a mere heuristic role in the first context, they have substantial explanatory leverage in the second and third context. In addition, we assess the relevance of function ascriptions in the context of engineering redesign. Here, function ascriptions also play a relevant role: (iv) they enable normative statements of the sort that component b functions better than component a. We unpack these claims by considering philosophical theories of technical functions, in particular the ICE theory, and engineering work on function ascription and explanation. We close the paper by relating our analysis to current debates on the explanatory power of mechanistic vis-à-vis functional explanations.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Demystifying Dilation
• Abstract: Abstract Dilation occurs when an interval probability estimate of some event E is properly included in the interval probability estimate of E conditional on every event F of some partition, which means that one’s initial estimate of E becomes less precise no matter how an experiment turns out. Critics maintain that dilation is a pathological feature of imprecise probability models, while others have thought the problem is with Bayesian updating. However, two points are often overlooked: (1) knowing that E is stochastically independent of F (for all F in a partition of the underlying state space) is sufficient to avoid dilation, but (2) stochastic independence is not the only independence concept at play within imprecise probability models. In this paper we give a simple characterization of dilation formulated in terms of deviation from stochastic independence, propose a measure of dilation, and distinguish between proper and improper dilation. Through this we revisit the most sensational examples of dilation, which play up independence between dilator and dilatee, and find the sensationalism undermined by either fallacious reasoning with imprecise probabilities or improperly constructed imprecise probability models.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Subjective Probabilities Need Not be Sharp
• Abstract: Abstract It is well known that classical, aka ‘sharp’, Bayesian decision theory, which models belief states as single probability functions, faces a number of serious difficulties with respect to its handling of agnosticism. These difficulties have led to the increasing popularity of so-called ‘imprecise’ models of decision-making, which represent belief states as sets of probability functions. In a recent paper, however, Adam Elga has argued in favour of a putative normative principle of sequential choice that he claims to be borne out by the sharp model but not by any promising incarnation of its imprecise counterpart. After first pointing out that Elga has fallen short of establishing that his principle is indeed uniquely borne out by the sharp model, I cast aspersions on its plausibility. I show that a slight weakening of the principle is satisfied by at least one, but interestingly not all, varieties of the imprecise model and point out that Elga has failed to motivate his stronger commitment.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Charles R. Pigden (Ed.): Hume on Is and Ought
• PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Description and the Problem of Priors
• Abstract: Abstract Belief-revision models of knowledge describe how to update one’s degrees of belief associated with hypotheses as one considers new evidence, but they typically do not say how probabilities become associated with meaningful hypotheses in the first place. Here we consider a variety of Skyrms–Lewis signaling game (Lewis in Convention. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1969; Skyrms in Signals evolution, learning, & information. Oxford University Press, New York, 2010) where simple descriptive language and predictive practice and associated basic expectations coevolve. Rather than assigning prior probabilities to hypotheses in a fixed language then conditioning on new evidence, the agents begin with no meaningful language or expectations then evolve to have expectations conditional on their descriptions as they evolve to have meaningful descriptions for the purpose of successful prediction. The model, then, provides a simple but concrete example of how the process of evolving a descriptive language suitable for inquiry might also provide agents with conditional expectations that reflect the type and degree of predictive success in fact afforded by their evolved predictive practice. This illustrates one way in which the traditional problem of priors may simply fail to apply to one’s model of evolving inquiry.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Humean Supervenience and Multidimensional Semantics
• Abstract: Abstract What distinguishes indicative conditionals from subjunctive conditionals, according to one popular view, is that the so-called Adams’ thesis holds for the former kind of conditionals but the so-called Skyrms’ thesis for the latter. According to a plausible metaphysical view, both conditionals and chances supervene on non-modal facts. But since chances do not supervene on facts about particular events but facts about event-types, the past as well as the future is chancy. Some philosophers have worried that this metaphysical view is incompatible with the aforementioned view on the probability of conditionals. This paper however shows that there is no need to worry, as these views can all be simultaneously satisfied within the so-called Multidimensional Possible World Semantics for conditionals.
PubDate: 2014-12-01

• Radical Uncertainty: Beyond Probabilistic Models of Belief
• PubDate: 2014-10-16

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