Synthese

http://link.springer.com/journal/11229

List of Papers (Total 426)

Back to the actual future

The purpose of the paper is to rethink the role of actuality in the branching model of possibilities. We investigate the idea that the model should be enriched with an additional factor—the so-called Thin Red Line—which is supposed to represent the single possible course of events that gets actualized in time. We believe that this idea was often misconceived which prompted some...

What does it take to be a brain disorder?

In this paper, I address the question whether mental disorders should be understood to be brain disorders and what conditions need to be met for a disorder to be rightly described as a brain disorder. I defend the view that mental disorders are autonomous and that a condition can be a mental disorder without at the same time being a brain disorder. I then show the consequences of...

Medical knowledge in a social world: Introduction to the special issue

Philosophy of medicine has traditionally examined two issues: the scientific ontology for medicine and the epistemic significance of the types of evidence used in medical research. In answering each question, philosophers have typically brought to bear tools from traditional analytic philosophy. In contrast, this volume explores medical knowledge from the perspective offered by...

The C account of assertion: a negative result

According to what Williamson labels ‘the C account of assertion’, there is one and only one rule that is constitutive of assertion. This rule, the so-called ‘C Rule’, states that one must assert p only if p has property C. This paper argues that the C account of assertion is incompatible with any live proposal for C in the literature.

Agents necessitating effects in newtonian time and space: from power and opportunity to effectivity

We extend stit logic by adding a spatial dimension. This enables us to distinguish between powers and opportunities of agents. Powers are agent-specific and do not depend on an agent’s location. Opportunities do depend on locations, and are the same for every agent. The central idea is to define the real possibility to see to the truth of a condition in space and time as the...

Predictive coding and thought

Predictive processing has recently been advanced as a global cognitive architecture for the brain. I argue that its commitments concerning the nature and format of cognitive representation are inadequate to account for two basic characteristics of conceptual thought: first, its generality—the fact that we can think and flexibly reason about phenomena at any level of spatial and...

Situationism, virtue epistemology, and self-determination theory

Situationists (e.g., Doris in Lack of character: personality and moral behavior, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2002; Harman in Proc Aristot Soc 99:315–331, 1999.  https://doi.org/10.2307/4545312), with reference to empirical work in psychology, have called into question the predictive and explanatory power of character traits and on this basis have criticized the...

Causal powers and social ontology

Over the last few decades, philosophers and social scientists have applied the so-called powers ontology to the social domain. I argue that this application is highly problematic: many of the alleged powers in the social realm violate the intrinsicality condition, and those that can be coherently taken to be intrinsic to their bearers are arguably causally redundant. I end the...

Refined nomic truth approximation by revising models and postulates

Assuming that the target of theory oriented empirical science in general and of nomic truth approximation in particular is to characterize the boundary or demarcation between nomic possibilities and nomic impossibilities, I have presented, in my article entitled “Models, postulates, and generalized nomic truth approximation” (Kuipers in Synthese 193(10):3057–3077, 2016.  https...

Genuine Modal Realism, the Humean thesis and advanced modalizing

The paper argues that Lewis’ Genuine Modal Realism, in taking the plurality of worlds to be necessarily the way it is, implies the existence of necessary connections of the sort that contradicts the Humean thesis that Lewis endorses. By endorsing, pace Divers, a non-redundancy interpretation of advanced modalizing, we gain the means to exactly state what these connections amount to.

Philosophical expertise under the microscope

Recent experimental studies indicate that epistemically irrelevant factors can skew our intuitions, and that some degree of scepticism about appealing to intuition in philosophy is warranted. In response, some have claimed that philosophers are experts in such a way as to vindicate their reliance on intuitions—this has become known as the ‘expertise defence’. This paper explores...

Enactment and construction of the cognitive niche: toward an ontology of the mind-world connection

The paper discusses the concept of the cognitive niche and distinguishes the latter from the metabolic niche. By using these posits I unpack certain ideas that are crucial for the enactivist movement, especially for its original formulation proposed by Varela, Thompson and Rosh. Drawing on the ontology of location, boundaries, and parthood, I argue that enacting the world can be...

Taming the runabout imagination ticket

The ‘puzzle of imaginative use’ (Kind and Kung in Knowledge through imagination, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016) asks: given that imagination is arbitrary escape from reality, how can it have any epistemic value? In particular, imagination seems to be logically anarchic, like a runabout inference ticket: one who imagines A may also imagine whatever B pops to one’s mind by...

Essence and definition by abstraction

We may define words or concepts, and we may also, as Aristotle and others have thought, define the things for which words stand and of which concepts are concepts. Definitions of words or concepts may be explicit or implicit, and may seek to report preexisting synonymies, as Quine put it, but they may instead be wholly or partly stipulative. Definition by abstraction, of which...

Carnapian explication and ameliorative analysis: a systematic comparison

A distinction often drawn is one between conservative versus revisionary conceptions of philosophical analysis with respect to commonsensical beliefs and intuitions. This paper offers a comparative investigation of two revisionary methods: Carnapian explication and ameliorative analysis as developed by S. Haslanger. It is argued that they have a number of common features, and in...

General ecological information supports engagement with affordances for ‘higher’ cognition

In this paper, we address the question of how an agent can guide its behavior with respect to aspects of the sociomaterial environment that are not sensorily present. A simple example is how an animal can relate to a food source while only sensing a pheromone, or how an agent can relate to beer, while only the refrigerator is directly sensorily present. Certain cases in which...

Predictive processing and foundationalism about perception

Predictive processing accounts of perception (PP) assume that perception does not work in a purely bottom-up fashion but also uses acquired knowledge to make top-down predictions about the incoming sensory signals. This provides a challenge for foundationalist accounts of perception according to which perceptual beliefs are epistemically basic, that is, epistemically independent...

The heuristic function of duality

I conceptualise the role of dualities in quantum gravity, in terms of their functions for theory construction. I distinguish between two functions of duality in physical practice: namely, discovering and describing ‘equivalent physics’, versus suggesting ‘new physics’. I dub these the ‘theoretical’ versus the ‘heuristic’ functions of dualities. The distinction seems to have gone...

(Once again) Lewis on the analysis of modality

We propose a novel interpretation of Lewis on the analysis of modality that is constructed from primary sources, comprehensive and unprecedented (in toto). Our guiding precepts are to distinguish semantics from metaphysics, while respecting the inter-relations between them, and to discern whatever may be special, semantically or metaphysically, about the modal case. Following...

Can parts cause their wholes?

Part–whole causation (PWC) is the thesis that some causes are part of their effects. PWC has been objected to because of its incompatibility with the criterion that causes not be spatially included within their effects and the criterion that causes and effects are ontologically distinct in some sense. This paper serves to undermine the sufficiency of these ways of objecting to...

Equivalence: an attempt at a history of the idea

This paper proposes a reading of the history of equivalence in mathematics. The paper has two main parts. The first part focuses on a relatively short historical period when the notion of equivalence is about to be decontextualized, but yet, has no commonly agreed-upon name. The method for this part is rather straightforward: following the clues left by the others for the ‘first...

The genealogical method in epistemology

In 1990 Edward Craig published a book called Knowledge and the State of Nature in which he introduced and defended a genealogical approach to epistemology. In recent years Craig’s book has attracted a lot of attention, and his distinctive approach has been put to a wide range of uses including anti-realist metaepistemology, contextualism, relativism, anti-luck virtue epistemology...