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Employing Robots

Abstract

In this paper, I am concerned with what automation—widely considered to be the “future of work”—holds for the artificially intelligent agents we aim to employ. My guiding question is whether it is normatively problematic to employ artificially intelligent agents like, for example, autonomous robots as workers. The answer I propose is the following. There is nothing inherently normatively problematic about employing autonomous robots as workers. Still, we must not put them to perform just any work, if we want to avoid blame. This might not sound like much of a limitation. Interestingly, however, we can argue for this claim based on metaphysically and normatively parsimonious grounds. Namely, all I rely on when arguing for my claim is that the robots we aim to employ exhibit a kind of autonomy.

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Agnosticism, Inquiry, and Unanswerable Questions

Abstract

In her paper “Why Suspend Judging?” Jane Friedman has argued that being agnostic about some question entails that one has an inquiring attitude towards that question. Call this the agnostic-as-inquirer thesis. I argue that the agnostic-as-inquirer thesis is implausible. Specifically, I maintain that the agnostic-as-inquirer thesis requires that we deny the existence of a kind of agent that plausibly exists; namely, one who is both agnostic about Q because they regard their available evidence as insufficient for answering Q and who decides not to inquire into Q because they believe Q to be unanswerable. I claim that it is not only possible for such an agent to exist, but that such an agent is also epistemically permissible.

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Necessity and Color Incompatibility

Abstract

A traditional view is that all necessary truths are analytic. A frequent objection is that certain claims of color incompatibility – e.g., ‘Nothing is both red and green all over’ – are necessarily true but not analytic. I argue that this objection to the traditional view fails because such color incompatibility claims are either analytic or contingent.

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The irreducibility of consciousness

Abstract

In this paper, by analyzing the Chalmers-Searle debate about Chalmers’ zombie thought experiment, I attempt to determine the implications that the irreducibility of consciousness has for the truth of materialism. While Chalmers claims that the irreducibility of consciousness forces us to embrace dualism, Searle claims that it has no deep metaphysical import and, in particular, that it is fully consistent with his materialist theory of mind. I argue that this disagreement hinges on the notion of physical identity in play in the discussion. Clarifying this notion in turn helps to clarify what it means to claim that consciousness is irreducible, and provides insight into the implications that the truth of this claim would have for the dualism-materialism debate. Ultimately, I suggest that the sort of irreducibility that can be motivated by the zombie thought experiment is not sufficient to require the rejection of materialism.

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Pragmatism and Semantic Particularism

Abstract

Pragmatist views inspired by Peirce characterize the content of claims in terms of their practical consequences. The content of a claim is, on these views, determined by what actions are rationally recommended or supported by that claim. In this paper I examine the defeasibility of these relations of rational support. I will argue that such defeasibility introduces a particularist, occasion-sensitive dimension in pragmatist theories of content. More precisely, my conclusion will be that, in the sort of framework naturally derived from Peirce’s pragmatist maxim, grasping conceptual contents is not merely a question of mastering general rules or principles codifying the practical import of claims, but decisively involves being sensitive to surrounding features of the particular situation at hand.

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Why are Events, Facts, and States of Affairs Different?

Abstract

This article claims that events, facts and states of affairs need to be differentiated. It takes as a starting point Chisholm’s (1976) claim that only his ontology of states of affairs explains effectively thirteen sentences related to propositions and events. He does this by reducing propositions and events to states of affairs. We argue that our ontology also solves those problems. We defend a hierarchized Platonist ontology that has concrete entities (objects and events) and abstract entities (properties, facts and states of affairs). The distinctions we propose allow us to explain the pre-analytic data analyzed by Chisholm without reducing entities. We claim that our ontology provides a different way of explaining that data, and is, thus, promissory.

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Space Emergence in Contemporary Physics: Why We Do Not Need Fundamentality, Layers of Reality and Emergence

Abstract

‘Space does not exist fundamentally: it emerges from a more fundamental non-spatial structure.’ This intriguing claim appears in various research programs in contemporary physics. Philosophers of physics tend to believe that this claim entails either that spacetime does not exist, or that it is derivatively real. In this article, I introduce and defend a third metaphysical interpretation of the claim: reductionism about space. I argue that, as a result, there is no need to subscribe to fundamentality, layers of reality and emergence in order to analyse the constitution of space by non-spatial entities. It follows that space constitution, if borne out, does not provide empirical evidence in favour of a stratified, Aristotelian in spirit, metaphysics. The view will be described in relation to two particular research programs in contemporary physics: wave function realism and loop quantum gravity.

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Names of Attitudes and Norms for Attitudes

Abstract

Fictionalists claim that instead of believing certain controversial propositions they accept them nonseriously, as useful make-believe. In this way they present themselves as having an austere ontology despite the apparent ontological commitments of their discourse. Some philosophers object that this plays on a distinction without a difference: the fictionalist’s would-be nonserious acceptance is the most we can do for the relevant content acceptance-wise, hence such acceptance is no different from what we ordinarily call ‘belief’ and should be so called. They conclude that it is subject to the norms applicable to paradigmatic empirical beliefs, and hence, pace fictionalists, ontological commitments must be taken seriously. I disentangle three strands in the objector’s thought: the ‘What more can you ask for?’ intuition, a linguistic/conceptual claim, and a claim about norms. I argue that the former two are compatible with ontological deflationism, and therefore do not entail applicability of the norms. Nevertheless, if indeed there is no more robust acceptance with which to contrast the supposed nonserious acceptance, then the fictionalist’s claim to austere ontology must be abandoned. Is there a reason to suppose there is any merit to the distinction-without-a-difference charge? I argue that there is, clarify it, and defend against objections, focusing on Daly 2008.

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Context-sensitivity and (Indicative) Conditionals

Abstract

Conditionals (in particular indicatives) give rise to stand-offs that have become well known from Gibbard’s initial Sly Pete example. The stand-offs can be seen as evidence for the context-sensitivity of (indicative) conditionals and arguably do not involve disagreement. I claim that the latter feature lends credibility to an indexical treatment of indicatives.

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On the Truth-Conditional Relevance of Modes of Presentation

Abstract

Anne Bezuidenhout 1996 presents an argument for the claim that modes of presentation associated with referential terms are truth-conditionally relevant. I argue that her argument is flawed in light of the very same view on the interplay between reference and pragmatics she endorses.

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