Probabilistic knowledge

Traditional philosophical discussions of knowledge have focused on the epistemic status of full beliefs. Sarah Moss argues that in addition to full beliefs, credences can constitute knowledge. For instance, your 0.4 credence that it is raining outside can constitute knowledge, in just the same way that your full beliefs can. In addition, you can know that it might be raining, and that if it is raining then it is probably cloudy, where this knowledge is not knowledge of propositions, but of probabilistic contents.

The notion of probabilistic content introduced in this book plays a central role not only in epistemology, but in the philosophy of mind and language as well. Just as tradition holds that you believe and assert propositions, you can believe and assert probabilistic contents. Accepting that we can believe, assert, and know probabilistic contents has significant consequences for many philosophical debates, including debates about the relationship between full belief and credence, the semantics of epistemic modals and conditionals, the contents of perceptual experience, peer disagreement, pragmatic encroachment, perceptual dogmatism, and transformative experience. In addition, accepting probabilistic knowledge can help us discredit negative evaluations of female speech, explain why merely statistical evidence is insufficient for legal proof, and identify epistemic norms violated by acts of racial profiling. Hence the central theses of this book not only help us better understand the nature of our own mental states, but also help us better understand the nature of our responsibilities to each other.

Read

Read also: Probabilistic knowledge

Advertisements
Posted in knowledge, Philosophy | Tagged ,

Philosophy and Climate Science

Eric Winsberg’s book is timely and ambitious. One of his explicit goals is to make “a plea for a proper appreciation of the richness and complexity of climate science” aimed at philosophers of science, so that we might “appreciate the degree to which the conceptual, methodological, and epistemological issues that perennially preoccupy philosophers of science come to life in various interesting and novel ways in climate science” (227). Winsberg largely succeeds in this goal — there are a number of places in the book where I thought “there’s a good paper or three that could be written about that!” — and that alone makes his book significant for the field.

But Winsberg’s ambitions for the book are multifarious. Other members of his audience include “climate ethicists” who could “benefit from a philosophically informed presentation of the foundations of climate science” (4), as well as “students,” “a wider general audience,” “people studying general philosophy of science who prefer to see that material presented with real living examples,” and “climate scientists curious about what philosophers think about their work” (5). I can’t speak much to that last group, but I have some reservations about how fitting this book is for the others

Read

Read also: Philosophy and Climate Science

Posted in Climate, Philosophy | Tagged ,

Theoretical Virtues in Science: Uncovering Reality through Theory

Samuel Schindler’s book is an impressive achievement: it presents four interlocking arguments for scientific realism — one central, the other three supporting — that taken together are novel, interesting, and worth serious study. So if you are interested in new ideas in the scientific realism debates, I recommend reading it. Additionally, it will be useful to those who want an overview of the current state of the realism debates, because Schindler’s explanations of the state of the art are clear and accurate. As his title signals, his arguments for realism all involve the theoretical virtues, such as empirical accuracy, simplicity, and fertility. Thus anyone working on, or even just appealing to, the theoretical virtues could also profit from the book, for Chapter 1 provides a good summary of them. In particular, Schindler offers extended treatments of the virtues of fertility (Ch.4) and of being non-ad hoc (Ch. 5) (the discussion of which has unfortunately languished somewhat since (Leplin 1997)). There are also novel ideas about the history of science’s evidential relationship to philosophy of science (Ch. 7): how should historical scientists’ actual activities bear on theorizing about norms of scientific reasoning? So anyone interested in these topics — realism, the theoretical virtues (particular ones, or in general), or the methodological significance of science’s history for its philosophy — should find Schindler’s book a source of new and provocative ideas.

Read

Read also: Theoretical Virtues in Science: Uncovering Reality through Theory

Posted in Philosophy, science | Tagged ,

The Brain Is the Screen: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Cinema

The first broad-ranging collection on Deleuze’s essential works on cinema. In the nearly twenty years since their publication, Gilles Deleuze’s books about cinema have proven as daunting as they are enticing—a new aesthetics of film, one equally at home with Henri Bergson and Wim Wenders, Friedrich Nietzsche and Orson Welles, that also takes its place in the philosopher’s immense and difficult oeuvre. With this collection, the first to focus solely and extensively on Deleuze’s cinematic work, the nature and reach of that work finally become clear. Composed of a substantial introduction, twelve original essays produced for this volume, and a new English translation of a personal, intriguing, and little-known interview with Deleuze on his cinema books, The Brain Is the Screen is a sustained engagement with Deleuze’s cinematic philosophy that leads to a new view of the larger confrontation of philosophy with cinematic images. Contributors: Éric Alliez, U of Vienna; Dudley Andrew, U of Iowa; Peter Canning; Tom Conley, Harvard U; András Bálint Kovács, ELTE U, Budapest; Gregg Lambert, Syracuse U; Laura U. Marks, Carleton U; Jean-Clet Martin, Collége International de Philosophie, Paris; Angelo Restivo; Martin Schwab, U of Michigan; François Zourabichvili, Collége International de Philosophie.Gregory Flaxman is a doctoral student in the Program of Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania.

Read

Posted in Deleuze | Tagged

Gilles Deleuze: Cinema and Philosophy

In recent years, the recognition of Gilles Deleuze as one of the major philosophers of the twentieth century has heightened attention to his brilliant and complex writings on film. What is the place of Cinema 1 and Cinema 2 in the corpus of his philosophy? How and why does Deleuze consider cinema as a singular object of philosophical attention, a specific mode of thought? How does his philosophy of film combine and further his approaches to time, movement, and perception, and how does it produce an escape from subjectivity and a plunge into the immanence of images? How does it recode and utilize Henri Bergson’s thought and André Bazin’s film theory? What does it tell us about perceiving a world in images—indeed about our relation to the world?

These are the central questions addressed in Paola Marrati’s powerful and clear elucidation of Deleuze’s philosophy of film. Humanities, film studies, and social science scholars will find this book a valuable contribution to the philosophical literature on cinema and its pertinence in contemporary life.

Read

Posted in Deleuze | Tagged

The Implicit Mind: Cognitive Architecture, the Self, and Ethics

The past decade has seen growing philosophical interest in implicit bias: that is (roughly), in biases against members of historically disadvantaged groups that people often appear to have but which they may disavow and struggle to control. Through a series of journal articles, and through the two-volume collection of papers he edited with Jennifer Saul (Brownstein and Saul 2016a; 2016b), Michael Brownstein has established himself as one of the foremost voices on the topic. This book goes significantly beyond those journal articles, presenting the first comprehensive overview of the nature of implicit bias, and its importance for our self-understanding and for morality.

Read

Read also: The Implicit Mind: Cognitive Architecture, the Self, and Ethic

Posted in mind | Tagged

Hegel and Resistance: History, Politics and Dialectics

Bart Zantvoort begins his introduction to this collection by reminding us that “the history of modern philosophy can be read as a history of resistance to Hegel.” (p. 1). Such resistance is encountered in the founders of the analytical tradition, Moore and Russell, as well as in the “post-metaphysical and anti-totality critiques running from Heidegger to Levinas, Derrida and Deleuze”. As Zantvoort recognizes, however, much of this resistance is based on an “overly simplistic” interpretation of Hegel as a totalizing thinker who absorbs whatever appears to be other than reason into reason itself (p. 2). The refreshing aim of this collection is to consider a different issue: the place of resistance in Hegel’s philosophy itself. The essays examine Hegel’s understanding of resistance in its various forms, and also the role that resistance plays in his thought whether or not he is aware of it. They all are interesting and well written; as will become clear below, however, some are based on interpretations of Hegel’s thought that I find it hard to share.

Read

Read also: Hegel and Resistance: History, Politics and Dialectics

Posted in Hegel | Tagged

A meaningful life

In positive psychology, a meaningful life is a construct having to do with the purpose, significance, fulfillment, and satisfaction of life. While specific theories vary, there are two common aspects: a global schema to understand one’s life and the belief that life itself is meaningful. Meaning can be defined as the connection linking two presumably independent entities together; a meaningful life links the biological reality of life to a symbolic interpretation or meaning. Those possessing a sense of meaning are generally found to be happier, to have lower levels of negative emotions, and to have lower risk of mental illness.

Read

Read also: The meaning of life

Posted in life, meaning, purpose | Tagged , ,

Philosophical anthropology

Philosophical anthropology, sometimes called anthropological philosophy,[1][2] is a discipline dealing with questions of metaphysics and phenomenology of the human person, and interpersonal relationships.

Since its development in the 1920s, in the milieu of Germany Weimar culture, philosophical anthropology has been turned into a philosophical discipline, competing with the other traditional sub-disciplines of epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, aesthetics.[23] It is the attempt to unify disparate ways of understanding behaviour of humans as both creatures of their social environments and creators of their own values. Although the majority of philosophers throughout the history of philosophy can be said to have a distinctive “anthropology” that undergirds their thought, philosophical anthropology itself, as a specific discipline in philosophy, arose within the later modern period as an outgrowth from developing methods in philosophy, such as phenomenology and existentialism. The former, which draws its energy from methodical reflection on human experience (first person perspective) as from the philosopher’s own personal experience, naturally aided the emergence of philosophical explorations of human nature and the human condition.

Read

Posted in Philosophical anthropology | Tagged

On Michel Foucault’s “What is an Author?”

I’m teaching a Foucault seminar this term, and one of the things I’m trying to do is get better on the doxography of his essays. That led me to a discovery about “What is an Author” that I’m going to share on the (hopefully not hubristic) assumption that other folks didn’t know it either. The essay has been of interest to me for a while, largely because of my work on intellectual property. There, the link between copyright and the juridico-political function of authorship Foucault identifies is fairly clear, and has been ably explored in the context of trademark by Laura Heymann.

Read

Read also:  Michel Foucault’s What is an Author?

Posted in Foucault | Tagged