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Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

Science And Rationality For One And All, P.D. Magnus Nov 2014

Science And Rationality For One And All, P.D. Magnus

Philosophy Faculty Scholarship

A successful scientific community might require different scientists to form different beliefs even when faced with the same evidence. The standard line is that this would create a conflict between the demands of collective rationality which scientists face as members of the community and the demands of individual rationality which they face as epistemic agents. This is expressed both by philosophers of science (working on the distribution of cognitive labor) and by epistemologists (working on the epistemology of disagreement). The standard line fails to take into account the relation between rational belief and various epistemic risks, values of which are ...


Hobbes, Definitions, And Simplest Conceptions, Marcus P. Adams Jan 2014

Hobbes, Definitions, And Simplest Conceptions, Marcus P. Adams

Philosophy Faculty Scholarship

Several recent commentators argue that Thomas Hobbes’s account of the nature of science is conventionalist. Engaging in scientific practice on a conventionalist account is more a matter of making sure one connects one term to another properly rather than checking one’s claims, e.g., by experiment. In this paper, I argue that the conventionalist interpretation of Hobbesian science accords neither with Hobbes’s theoretical account in De corpore and Leviathan nor with Hobbes’s scientific practice in De homine and elsewhere. Closely tied to the conventionalist interpretation is the deductivist interpretation, on which it is claimed that Hobbes ...


Friends With Benefits! Distributed Cognition Hooks Up Cognitive And Social Conceptions Of Science, P.D. Magnus, Ron Mcclamrock Jan 2014

Friends With Benefits! Distributed Cognition Hooks Up Cognitive And Social Conceptions Of Science, P.D. Magnus, Ron Mcclamrock

Philosophy Faculty Scholarship

One approach to science treats science as a cognitive accomplishment of individuals and so defines a scientific community as an aggregate of individual enquirers. Another treats science as a fundamentally collective endeavor and so defines a scientist as a member of a scientific community. Distributed cognition has been offered as a framework that could be used to reconcile these two approaches. Adam Toon has recently asked if the cognitive and the social can be friends at last. He answers that they probably cannot, posing objections to the would-be rapprochement. We clarify both the animosity and the tonic proposed to resolve ...


State Of The Field: Why Novel Prediction Matters, P.D. Magnus, Heather Douglas Dec 2013

State Of The Field: Why Novel Prediction Matters, P.D. Magnus, Heather Douglas

Philosophy Faculty Scholarship

It has become commonplace to say that novel predictive success is not epistemically special. Its value over accommodation, if it has any, is taken to be superficial or derivative. We argue that the value of predictive success is indeed instrumental. Nevertheless, it is a powerful instrument that provides significant epistemic assurances at many different levels. Even though these assurances are in principle dispensable, real science is rarely (if ever) in the position to confidently obtain them in other ways. So we argue for a pluralist instrumental predictivism: novel predictive success is important for inferences from data to phenomena, from phenomena ...


What Scientists Know Is Not A Function Of What Scientists Know, P.D. Magnus Dec 2013

What Scientists Know Is Not A Function Of What Scientists Know, P.D. Magnus

Philosophy Faculty Scholarship

There are two senses of ‘what scientists know’: An individual sense (the separate opinions of individual scientists) and a collective sense (the state of the discipline). The latter is what matters for policy and planning, but it is not something that can be directly observed or reported. A function can be defined to map individual judgments onto an aggregate judgment. I argue that such a function cannot effectively capture community opinion, especially in cases that matter to us.


Modularity, Theory Of Mind, And Autism Spectrum Disorder, Marcus P. Adams Dec 2011

Modularity, Theory Of Mind, And Autism Spectrum Disorder, Marcus P. Adams

Philosophy Faculty Scholarship

The theory of mind (ToM) deficit associated with autism spectrum disorder has been a central topic in the debate about the modularity of the mind. In a series of papers, Philip Gerrans and Valerie Stone argue that positing a ToM module does not best explain the deficits exhibited by individuals with autism. In this article, I first criticize Gerrans and Stone’s account. Second, I discuss various studies of individuals with autism and argue that they are best explained by positing a higher-level, domain-specific ToM module.


Inductions, Red Herrings, And The Best Explanation For The Mixed Record Of Science, P.D. Magnus Jun 2010

Inductions, Red Herrings, And The Best Explanation For The Mixed Record Of Science, P.D. Magnus

Philosophy Faculty Scholarship

Kyle Stanford has recently claimed to offer a new challenge to scientific realism. Taking his inspiration from the familiar Pessimistic Induction (PI), Stanford proposes a New Induction (NI). Contra Anjan Chakravartty’s suggestion that the NI is a ‘red herring’, I argue that it reveals something deep and important about science. The Problem of Unconceived Alternatives, which lies at the heart of the NI, yields a richer anti-realism than the PI. It explains why science falls short when it falls short, and so it might figure in the most coherent account of scientific practice. However, this best account will be ...


The Identical Rivals Response To Underdetermination, P.D. Magnus, Greg Frost-Arnold Jan 2010

The Identical Rivals Response To Underdetermination, P.D. Magnus, Greg Frost-Arnold

Philosophy Faculty Scholarship

The underdetermination of theory by data obtains when, inescapably, evidence is insufficient to allow scientists to decide responsibly between rival theories. One response to would-be underdetermination is to deny that the rival theories are distinct theories at all, insisting instead that they are just different formulations of the same underlying theory; we call this the identical rivals response. An argument adapted from John Norton suggests that the response is presumptively always appropriate, while another from Larry Laudan and Jarrett Leplin suggests that the response is never appropriate. Arguments from Einstein for the special and general theories of relativity may fruitfully ...


Reckoning The Shape Of Everything: Underdetermination And Cosmotopology, P.D. Magnus Jul 2005

Reckoning The Shape Of Everything: Underdetermination And Cosmotopology, P.D. Magnus

Philosophy Faculty Scholarship

This paper offers a general characterization of underdetermination and gives a prima facie case for the underdetermination of the topology of the universe. A survey of several philosophical approaches to the problem fails to resolve the issue: the case involves the possibility of massive reduplication, but Strawson on massive reduplication provides no help here; it is not obvious that any of the rival theories are to be preferred on grounds of simplicity; and the usual talk of empirically equivalent theories misses the point entirely. (If the choice is underdetermined, then the theories are not empirically equivalent!) Yet the thought experiment ...


Realist Ennui And The Base Rate Fallacy, P.D. Magnus, Craig Callender Jul 2004

Realist Ennui And The Base Rate Fallacy, P.D. Magnus, Craig Callender

Philosophy Faculty Scholarship

The no‐miracles argument and the pessimistic induction are arguably the main considerations for and against scientific realism. Recently these arguments have been accused of embodying a familiar, seductive fallacy. In each case, we are tricked by a base rate fallacy, one much‐discussed in the psychological literature. In this paper we consider this accusation and use it as an explanation for why the two most prominent ‘wholesale’ arguments in the literature seem irresolvable. Framed probabilistically, we can see very clearly why realists and anti‐realists have been talking past one another. We then formulate a dilemma for advocates of ...