Scholarly Works, Philosophy

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Research articles, presentations, and other scholarship


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Now showing 1 - 20 of 38
  • Anti-Metaphysical Arguments in the Anticipations of Perception
    Patton, Lydia K. (Editura Academiei Romane/Publishing House of the Romanian Academy, 2022-12-22)
    In the Anticipations, Kant defends the claim that all sensations must register on a purely subjective scale of response to stimuli, in order for sensation to be a possible source of knowledge. In this paper, I argue that Kant defends this claim in response to “scholasticism” or transcendental realism about sensation. The fact that all sensations are measurable on a subjec- tive scale is the a priori content of the principle of the Anticipations, and, according to Kant, is a necessary condition for building any systematic analysis of sensation. The anti-metaphysical arguments in the “Anticipations of Perception” are key building blocks of Kant’s transcendental idealism.
  • Million dollar questions: why deliberation is more than information pooling
    Hoek, Daniel; Bradley, Richard (Springer, 2022-03-29)
    Models of collective deliberation often assume that the chief aim of a deliberative exchange is the sharing of information. In this paper, we argue that an equally important role of deliberation is to draw participants’ attention to pertinent questions, which can aid the assembly and processing of distributed information by drawing deliberators’ attention to new issues. The assumption of logical omniscience renders classical models of agents' informational states unsuitable for modelling this role of deliberation. Building on recent insights from psychology, linguistics and philosophy about the role of questions in speech and thought, we propose a different model in which beliefs are treated as answers directed at specific questions. Here, questions are formally represented as partitions of the space of possibilities and individuals’ information states as sets of questions and corresponding partial answers to them. The state of conversation is then characterised by individuals’ information together with the questions under discussion, which can be steered by various deliberative inputs. Using this model, deliberation is then shown to shape collective decisions in ways that classical models cannot capture, allowing for novel explanations of how group consensus is achieved.
  • Forced Changes Only: A New Take on the Law of Inertia
    Hoek, Daniel (Cambridge University Press, 2022-02-10)
    Newton’s First Law of Motion is typically understood to govern only the motion of force-free bodies. This paper argues on textual and conceptual grounds that the law is in fact a stronger, more general principle. The First Law limits the extent to which any body can change its state of motion—even if that body is subject to impressed forces. The misunderstanding can be traced back to an error in the first English translation of Newton’s Principia, which was published a few years after Newton’s death.
  • Reichenbach’s empirical axiomatization of relativity
    Eisenthal, Joshua; Patton, Lydia K. (Springer, 2022-12-01)
    A well known conception of axiomatization has it that an axiomatized theory must be interpreted, or otherwise coordinated with reality, in order to acquire empirical content. An early version of this account is often ascribed to key figures in the logical empiricist movement, and to central figures in the early “formalist” tradition in mathematics as well. In this context, Reichenbach’s “coordinative definitions” are regarded as investing abstract propositions with empirical significance. We argue that over-emphasis on the abstract elements of this approach fails to appreciate a rich tradition of empirical axiomatization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, evident in particular in the work of Moritz Pasch, Heinrich Hertz, David Hilbert, and Reichenbach himself. We claim that such over-emphasis leads to a misunderstanding of the role of empirical facts in Reichenbach’s approach to the axiomatization of a physical theory, and of the role of Reichenbach’s coordinative definitions in particular.
  • A new well-being atomism
    Hersch, Gil; Weltman, Daniel (Wiley, 2022-06)
    Many philosophers reject the view that well-being over a lifetime is simply an aggregation of well-being at every moment of one's life, and thus they reject theories of well-being like hedonism and concurrentist desire satisfactionism. They raise concerns that such a view misses the importance of the relationships between moments in a person's life or the role narratives play in a person's well-being. In this article, we develop an atomist meta-theory of well-being, according to which the prudential value of a life depends solely on the prudential value of each moment of that life. This is a general account of momentary well-being that can capture different features of well-being that standard atomistic accounts fail to capture, thus allowing for the possibility of an atomism that is compatible with a variety of well-being theories. Contrary to many criticisms leveled against momentary well-being, this well-being atomism captures all of the important features of well-being.
  • Statistical significance and its critics: practicing damaging science, or damaging scientific practice?
    Mayo, Deborah G.; Hand, David (Springer, 2022-05-12)
    While the common procedure of statistical significance testing and its accompanying concept of p-values have long been surrounded by controversy, renewed concern has been triggered by the replication crisis in science. Many blame statistical significance tests themselves, and some regard them as sufficiently damaging to scientific practice as to warrant being abandoned. We take a contrary position, arguing that the central criticisms arise from misunderstanding and misusing the statistical tools, and that in fact the purported remedies themselves risk damaging science. We argue that banning the use of p-value thresholds in interpreting data does not diminish but rather exacerbates data-dredging and biasing selection effects. If an account cannot specify outcomes that will not be allowed to count as evidence for a claim-if all thresholds are abandoned-then there is no test of that claim. The contributions of this paper are: To explain the rival statistical philosophies underlying the ongoing controversy; To elucidate and reinterpret statistical significance tests, and explain how this reinterpretation ameliorates common misuses and misinterpretations; To argue why recent recommendations to replace, abandon, or retire statistical significance undermine a central function of statistics in science: to test whether observed patterns in the data are genuine or due to background variability.
  • Questions in Action
    Hoek, Daniel (Journal of Philosophy, 2022-03-31)
    Choices confront us with questions. How we act depends on our answers to those questions. So the way our beliefs guide our choices is not just a function of their informational content, but also depends systematically on the questions those beliefs address. This paper gives a precise account of the interplay between choices, questions and beliefs, and harnesses this account to obtain a principled approach to the problem of deduction. The result is a novel theory of belief-guided action that explains and predicts the decisions of agents who, like ourselves, fail to be logically omniscient: that is, of agents whose beliefs may not be deductively closed, or even consistent.
  • Editor’s note
    Patton, Lydia K. (University of Chicago Press, 2021-09-01)
  • Editor’s note
    Patton, Lydia K. (University of Chicago Press, 2021-09-01)
  • Forced Changes Only: A New Take on the Law of Inertia
    Hoek, Daniel (2021-12-04)
    Newton's First Law of Motion is typically understood to govern only the motion of force-free bodies. This paper argues on textual and conceptual grounds that it is in fact a stronger, more general principle. The First Law limits the extent to which any body can change its state of motion -- even if that body is subject to impressed forces. The misunderstanding can be traced back to an error in the first English translation of Newton's Principia, which was published a few years after Newton's death.
  • Chance and the Continuum Hypothesis
    Hoek, Daniel (2021-12-06)
    This paper presents and defends an argument that the continuum hypothesis is false, based on considerations about objective chance and an old theorem due to Banach and Kuratowski. More specifically, I argue that the probabilistic inductive methods standardly used in science presuppose that every proposition about the outcome of a chancy process has a certain chance between 0 and 1. I also argue in favour of the standard view that chances are countably additive. Since it is possible to randomly pick out a point on a continuum, for instance using a roulette wheel or by flipping a countable infinity of fair coins, it follows, given the axioms of ZFC, that there are many different cardinalities between countable infinity and the cardinality of the continuum.
  • Scientific Variables
    Jantzen, Benjamin C. (MDPI, 2021-12-13)
    Despite their centrality to the scientific enterprise, both the nature of scientific variables and their relation to inductive inference remain obscure. I suggest that scientific variables should be viewed as equivalence classes of sets of physical states mapped to representations (often real numbers) in a structure preserving fashion, and argue that most scientific variables introduced to expand the degrees of freedom in terms of which we describe the world can be seen as products of an algorithmic inductive inference first identified by William W. Rozeboom. This inference algorithm depends upon a notion of natural kind previously left unexplicated. By appealing to dynamical kinds—equivalence classes of causal system characterized by the interventions which commute with their time evolution—to fill this gap, we attain a complete algorithm. I demonstrate the efficacy of this algorithm in a series of experiments involving the percolation of water through granular soils that result in the induction of three novel variables. Finally, I argue that variables obtained through this sort of inductive inference are guaranteed to satisfy a variety of norms that in turn suit them for use in further scientific inferences.
  • Loose Talk, Scale Presuppositions and QUD
    Hoek, Daniel (2019-12-19)
    I present a new pragmatic theory of loose talk, focussing on the loose use of numbers and measurement expressions. The account explains loose readings as arising from a pragmatic mechanism aimed at restoring relevance to the question under discussion (QUD), appealing to Krifka’s notion of a measurement scale (Krifka 2002). The core motivating observation is that the loose reading of a claim need not be weaker than its literal content, as almost all pragmatic treatments of loose talk have assumed (e.g. Lasersohn 1999). The loosening mechanism described here can be applied to a range of other linguistic phenomena as well.
  • A General Metric for the Similarity of Both Stochastic and Deterministic System Dynamics
    Shea-Blymyer, Colin; Roy, Subhradeep; Jantzen, Benjamin C. (MDPI, 2021-09-09)
    Many problems in the study of dynamical systems—including identification of effective order, detection of nonlinearity or chaos, and change detection—can be reframed in terms of assessing the similarity between dynamical systems or between a given dynamical system and a reference. We introduce a general metric of dynamical similarity that is well posed for both stochastic and deterministic systems and is informative of the aforementioned dynamical features even when only partial information about the system is available. We describe methods for estimating this metric in a range of scenarios that differ in respect to contol over the systems under study, the deterministic or stochastic nature of the underlying dynamics, and whether or not a fully informative set of variables is available. Through numerical simulation, we demonstrate the sensitivity of the proposed metric to a range of dynamical properties, its utility in mapping the dynamical properties of parameter space for a given model, and its power for detecting structural changes through time series data.
  • Data models, representation and adequacy-for-purpose
    Bokulich, Alisa; Parker, Wendy (2021-03)
    We critically engage two traditional views of scientific data and outline a novel philosophical view that we call the pragmatic-representational (PR) view of data. On the PR view, data are representations that are the product of a process of inquiry, and they should be evaluated in terms of their adequacy or fitness for particular purposes. Some important implications of the PR view for data assessment, related to misrepresentation, context-sensitivity, and complementary use, are highlighted. The PR view provides insight into the common but little-discussed practices of iteratively reusing and repurposing data, which result in many datasets' having a phylogeny-an origin and complex evolutionary history-that is relevant to their evaluation and future use. We relate these insights to the open-data and data-rescue movements, and highlight several future avenues of research that build on the PR view of data.
  • Expanding theory testing in general relativity: LIGO and parametrized theories
    Patton, Lydia K. (2020-02)
    The multiple detections of gravitational waves by LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), operated by Caltech and MIT, have been acclaimed as confirming Einstein's prediction, a century ago, that gravitational waves propagating as ripples in spacetime would be detected. Yunes and Pretorius (2009) investigate whether LIGO's template-based searches encode fundamental assumptions, especially the assumption that the background theory of general relativity is an accurate description of the phenomena detected in the search. They construct the parametrized post-Einsteinian (ppE) framework in response, which broadens those assumptions and allows for wider testing under more flexible assumptions. Their methods are consistent with work on confirmation and testing found in Carnap (1936), Hempel (1969), and Stein (1992, 1994), with the following principles in common: that confirmation is distinct from testing, and that, counterintuitively, revising a theory's formal basis can make it more broadly empirically testable. These views encourage a method according to which theories can be made abstract, to define families of general structures for the purpose of testing. With the development of the ppE framework and related approaches, multi-messenger astronomy is a catalyst for deep reasoning about the limits and potential of the theoretical framework of general relativity.
  • Egalitarianism under Severe Uncertainty
    Rowe, Thomas; Voorhoeve, Alex (2018-06)
  • Restoring the Fallen Blue Sky: Management Issues and Environmental Legislation for Lake Sevan, Armenia
    Lind, Douglas; Taslakyan, Lusine (UC Davis School of Law, 2005)
    Armenia is a small, landlocked country in the Southern Caucasus Mountains. It is one of the world's oldest civilizations,¹ yet a very young country. It was formed as one of the Newly Independent States (NIS) following the 1991 breakup 'of the Soviet Union. Armenia's landscape ranges from rugged, impassible volcanic peaks in the Caucasus that reach nearly 3,600 meters above sea level, to highly fertile land in the Ararat Valley, the principal agricultural region of the country. Lake Sevan, the "Heart-of Armenia,"² at one time encompassed nearly five percent of the country's surface area. Lake Sevan is one of the oldest, largest, and highest alpine lakes in the world. It is the lake heralded by Maxim Gorky as a glorious piece of fallen blue sky.³ The size, depth, and high mountain location of Lake Sevan has made it an important ecological and cultural focus for the people of Armenia over many centuries. Yet these features also turned the lake into one of the most misguided and ecologically catastrophic engineering follies of the twentieth century. Beginning in the 1930s, the government of the Soviet Union undertook a series of management'decisions to divert a substantial quantity of Lake Sevan's waters to the Hrazdan River for irrigation in the Ararat Valley and for hydroelectric power generation.⁴ The Soviet plan called for decreasing the lake's surface area, thereby decreasing water loss from evaporation and increasing the amount available each year for agricultural and hydroelectric purposes.⁵ Water was taken from the lake at rates significantly above the natural inflow, which decreased its volume by over forty percent and lowered its level by roughly nineteen meters over a span of forty years.⁶ The lake's surface area has diminished from 1,416 square kilometers to about 1,240 square kilometers.⁷ This decrease in water level, together with increased pollution loads from point and non-point sources, has significantly destabilized Lake Sevan's hydrology and ecology, resulting in an accelerated eutrophication process (algae growth) and substantial adverse impacts on the lake and its basin's flora and fauna.⁸ Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, restoration of Lake Sevan has become a matter of high priority within the newly independent Armenia, and has drawn the interest of the international environmental community.⁹ Organizations outside Armenia, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the Ramsar Convention, and USAID have brought international attention to the lake, adopting management plans and position statements designed to increase protection, conservation, and restoration of the lake. Armenia, in turn, has responded by enacting a number of environmental laws that bear upon management of the lake and its surrounding region, including a series of laws that address only Lake Sevan. This article examines the ecological problems plaguing Lake Sevan as a result of the lake's decreased water level during the Soviet era and the legal efforts taken to address them. Part I presents an overview of the lake's limnology, comparing its original natural conditions with those found in the current wake of the level lowering project. Part II canvasses the laws enacted over the years to address the Sevan problem. This review begins at the political source of the problem-the philosophy of Soviet Marxism, the Stalinist policy to transform nature, and the few legal initiatives taken near the end of the Soviet era to address water resource issues throughout the USSR. The article then covers the post-Soviet era during which the independent Republic of Armenia enacted laws designed to address the environment in general and Lake Sevan in particular. This section reviews the international agreements and action plans that hold significance for Sevan. Finally, Part III undertakes an assessment of the various laws and management plans that impact the lake's iestoration and future health. The article concludes that while the laws and plans derive from well-meaning intent, there is little reason to expect meaningful restoration. So long as the Armenian economy remains depressed and dependent upon the exploitation of Sevan's dwindling resources, and until the laws affecting the lake's health become more pragmatic in approach and better endowed with enforcement provisions that are carried out with force, the lake's health will likely continue to decline.
  • Environmental Remediation to Address Childhood Lead Poisoning Epidemic due to Artisanal Gold Mining in Zamfara, Nigeria
    Tirima, Simba; Bartrem, Casey; von Lindern, Ian; von Braun, Margrit; Lind, Douglas; Anka, Shehu Mohammed; Abdullahi, Aishat (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 2016-09)
    Background: From 2010 through 2013, integrated health and environmental responses addressed an unprecedented epidemic lead poisoning in Zamfara State, northern Nigeria. Artisanal gold mining caused widespread contamination resulting in the deaths of > 400 children. Socioeconomic, logistic, and security challenges required remediation and medical protocols within the context of local resources, labor practices, and cultural traditions. Objectives: Our aim was to implement emergency environmental remediation to abate exposures to 17,000 lead poisoned villagers, to facilitate chelation treatment of children ≤ 5 years old, and to establish local technical capacity and lead health advocacy programs to prevent future disasters. Methods: U.S. hazardous waste removal protocols were modified to accommodate local agricultural practices. Remediation was conducted over 4 years in three phases, progressing from an emergency response by international personnel to comprehensive cleanup funded and accomplished by the Nigerian government. Results: More than 27,000 m³ of contaminated soils and mining waste were removed from 820 residences and ore processing areas in eight villages, largely by hand labor, and disposed in constructed landfills. Excavated areas were capped with clean soils (≤ 25 mg/kg lead), decreasing soil lead concentrations by 89%, and 2,349 children received chelation treatment. Pre-chelation geometric mean blood lead levels for children ≤ 5 years old decreased from 149 μg/dL to 15 μg/dL over the 4-year remedial program. Conclusions: The unprecedented outbreak and response demonstrate that, given sufficient political will and modest investment, the world’s most challenging environmental health crises can be addressed by adapting proven response protocols to the capabilities of host countries. Citation: Tirima S, Bartrem C, von Lindern I, von Braun M, Lind D, Anka SM, Abdullahi A. 2016. Environmental remediation to address childhood lead poisoning epidemic due to artisanal gold mining in Zamfara, Nigeria. Environ Health Perspect 124:1471–1478; http://dx.doi. org/10.1289/ehp.1510145