Constructing Practical Reasons
Oxford University Press, 2020
Some things are reasons for us to perform certain actions. That it will spare you great pain in the future, for example, is a reason for you to go to the dentist now, and that you are already late for work is a reason for you not to read the next article in the morning paper. Why are such considerations reasons for or against certain actions? Constructivism offers an intriguing answer to this question. Its basic idea is often encapsulated in the slogan that reasons are not discovered but made by us. This book elaborates the constructivist idea into a fully fledged account of practical reasons, makes its theoretical commitments explicit, and defends it against some well-known objections. It begins with an examination of the distinctive role that reason judgements play in the process of practical reasoning. This provides the resources for an anti-representationalist conception of the nature of those judgements, according to which they are true, if they are true, not because they accurately represent certain normative facts, but because of their role in sound reasoning. On the resulting view, a consideration owes its status as a reason to the truth of the corresponding reason judgement and thus, ultimately, to the soundness of a certain episode of reasoning. Consequently, our practical reasons exhibit a kind of mind-dependence, but this does not force us to deny their objectivity.
Mit Philosophie die Welt verändern. In Bildung und Öffentlichkeit.
Georg Brun, Claus Beisbart (Hrsg.)
Philosophie kann dazu beitragen, dass wir vernünftiger mit den Problemen umgehen, die unsere Gesellschaft und ihr Selbstverständnis herausfordern. Dazu muss die Philosophie sich aber öffentlich einmischen und verstärkt in die Bildung Einzug halten – diese Position vertritt vorliegender Band. Die Beiträge von Anne Burkard, Rainer Hegselmann, Romy Jaster und Markus Wild zeigen einerseits auf, welche Rolle die Philosophie in öffentlichen Debatten spielen kann und soll. Andererseits analysieren sie, welchen Beitrag Philosophie zur schulischen und universitären Bildung liefert.
Understanding climate change with statistical downscaling and machine learning
Julie Jebeile, Vincent Lam, Tim Räz
Machine learning methods have recently created high expectations in the climate modelling context in view of addressing climate change, but they are often considered as non-physics-based ‘black boxes’ that may not provide any understanding. However, in many ways, understanding seems indispensable to appropriately evaluate climate models and to build confidence in climate projections. Relying on two case studies, we compare how machine learning and standard statistical techniques affect our ability to understand the climate system. For that purpose, we put five evaluative criteria of understanding to work: intelligibility, representational accuracy, empirical accuracy, coherence with background knowledge, and assessment of the domain of validity. We argue that the two families of methods are part of the same continuum where these various criteria of understanding come in degrees, and that therefore machine learning methods do not necessarily constitute a radical departure from standard statistical tools, as far as understanding is concerned.
Aristotle on Enkratic Ignorance
Journal of the History of Philosophy 58.4, 2020
A question widely discussed in the scholarship is why Aristotle thinks that a lack of character-virtue entails the absence of practical wisdom. I argue that attempts thus far to answer this question have been unsuccessful, and offer a new suggestion: falling short in character virtue entails an insufficient grasp of the "starting-points" (ἀρχαί) of practical reasoning, which is a distinctly rational failing that necessarily deprives one of practical wisdom. This insufficiency constitutes a flaw in knowledge and rational motivation, and can be attributed not only to vicious and un-self-controlled persons, but also to those who possess self-control.
Super-Humeanism and physics: A merry relationship?
Humeanism started life as a metaphysical program that could turn out to be false if our best physical theories were to postulate ontological features at odds with Humean ones. However, even if this has arguably already happened, Humeanism is still considered one of the strongest and most appealing metaphysical theories for describing the physical world. What is even more surprising is that a radical Humean thesis—Super-Humeanism—which posits an extremely parsimonious ontology including nothing more than propertyless matter points and their distance relations, is said by its proponents to follow from an attentive reading of our best physical theories. Given its close relationship with physics, Super-Humeans argue that their doctrine (i) conforms to Scientific Realism, (ii) offers the ontology that best explains physics’ empirical evidence, and (iii) is a naturalistic theory. This paper investigates the strategies that Super-Humeans have adopted to defend these three claims and, more generally, its alleged closeness to physics. I will show that, contrary to what advocates of Super-Humeanism claim, some of its commitments have inevitably created a gap between itself and physics that is difficult to overcome. While it is laudable that Super-Humeans have adopted various strategies to close this gap, no strategy has yet fully succeeded.
Contingent Objects, Contingent Propositions, and Essentialism.
Trevor Teitel (2017) has recently argued that combining the assumption that modality reduces to essence with the assumption that possibly some objects contingently exist leads to problems if one wishes to uphold that the logic of metaphysical modality is S5. In this paper I will argue that there is a way for the essentialist to evade the problem described by Teitel. The proposed solution crucially involves the assumption that some propositions possibly fail to exist. I will show how this assumption affords a motivated contingentist response to Teitel’s argument.