2011-12

September 21, 2011, 6-7:30 PM in 234 Moses Hall

Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (UC Santa Cruz)

Interweaving Categories in the Philosophy of Science: Styles, Paradigms, and Models

Analytical categories of scientific cultures have typically been used both exclusively and universally. For instance, when styles of scientific research are employed in attempts to understand and narrate science, styles alone are usually employed. This article is a thought experiment in interweaving categories. What would happen if rather than employ a single category, we instead investigated several categories simultaneously? What would we learn about the practices and theories, the agents and materials, and the political-technological impact of science if we analyzed and applied styles (à la Hacking and Crombie), paradigms (à la Kuhn), and models (à la van Fraassen and Cartwright) simultaneously? I address these questions in general and for a specific case study: a brief history of systematics.

The draft of the paper can be downloaded here. You will be asked your Cal ID and pass phrase and then be directed to “Resources”; scroll and find the paper under “Winther’s paper” in the ‘General access papers’ category.

November 09, 2011, 6-7:30 PM in 234 Moses Hall

Paul Teller and Bernard Molyneux (UC Davis)

A model for de se belief and action

We develop an approach to the problem of de se belief (What does the shopper with the leaky sugar bag have to learn to know that HE is the one making the mess?) We note that, although ultimately all action must involve some kind of de se element, the cases like that of the messy shopper really involve not only a special kind of belief but a kind of dual in a special kind of action. We then develop an approach to be found in Perry () – the spirit of our development arises from thinking how a robot might be designed to exhibit de se like behavior. The resulting model handles de se belief and its dual de se action together. This model is far too simple to have any claim to showing how the de se works for humans, but it shows, by illustration, that nothing mysteriously “subjective” need be involved and, helps, again by illustration, to understand the functionality involved in the de se.

March 07, 2012, 6-7:30 PM in 234 Moses Hall

Sinan Dogramaci (University of Texas at Austin)

Conventionalism about Basic Rules of Deductive Reasoning

March 21, 2012, 6-7:30 PM in 234 Moses Hall

Alan Hajek (Australian National University)

Staying Regular

Regularity conditions provide nice bridges between the various box/diamond modalities and various notions of probability. Schematically, they have the form:

If X is possible, then the probability of X is positive

(or equivalents). Of special interest are the conditions we get when possible is understood doxastically (i.e. in terms of binary belief), and probability is understood subjectively (i.e. in terms of degrees of belief). I characterize these senses of regularityone for each agentin terms of a certain internal harmony of the agents probability space <W, F, P>. I distinguish three grades of probabilistic involvement. A set of possibilities may be recognized by such a probability space by being a subset of W; by being an element of F; and by receiving positive probability from P. These are non-decreasingly committal ways in which the agent may countenance a proposition. An agents space is regular if these three grades collapse into one.

I briefly review several of the main arguments for regularity as a rationality norm, due especially to Lewis and Skyrms. There are two ways an agent could violate this norm: by assigning probability zero to some doxastic possibility, and by failing to assign probability altogether to some doxastic possibility. Authors such as Williamson have argued for the rationality of the former kind of violation, and I give an argument of my own. So I think that the second and third grades of probabilistic involvement may come apart for a rational agent. I then argue for the latter kind of violation: the first and second grades may also come apart for such an agent.

Both kinds of violations of regularity have serious consequences for traditional Bayesian epistemology. I consider especially their ramifications for:

  • conditional probability

  • conditionalization

  • probabilistic independence

  • decision theory

Text of the paper

April 30, 2012, 6-7:30 PM in 234 Moses Hall

Branden Fitelson (Rutgers University)

Accuracy, Coherence, and Evidence

I will begin by rehearsing the traditional story about the relationship between accuracy norms (i.e., the truth norm), coherence norms (i.e., the deductive consistency norm), and evidential norms (i.e., a weak Lockean evidentialist thesis) for full belief. Then, I will discuss Ramsey-style reasons for being skeptical about an analogous story about partial belief (viz., credence). Next, I will describe an alternative story about the relationship between accuracy norms and coherence norms for credences (due to de Finetti, Joyce, and others). Finally, I will explain how an analogous story about full belief leads to an interesting new family of coherence norms that are weaker than deductive consistency, but much more intimately connected with evidential norms. Time permitting, various implications and applications of this new approach will be discussed. This is joint work with Kenny Easwaran.

May 02, 2012, 6-7:30 PM Joint event with OHST in 470 Stevens Hall

Mark Wilson (University of Pittsburgh)

Is There Life in Possible Worlds?

The great advances in reasoning capacity due to the so-called “finite element revolution” in modern computing rely upon a subtle reallocation of descriptive content amongst the traditional formulas of engineering practice. This altered distribution of linguistic labor requires the salient “possibilities” of a modeling effort to coordinate amongst themselves in a careful and controlled manner. In this talk we shall explore the wider implications that such constructions suggest for “semantic thinking” about language employment in general.