Synthese

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

List of Papers (Total 518)

Absence perception and the philosophy of zero

Zero provides a challenge for philosophers of mathematics with realist inclinations. On the one hand it is a bona fide cardinal number, yet on the other it is linked to ideas of nothingness and non-being. This paper provides an analysis of the epistemology and metaphysics of zero. We develop several constraints and then argue that a satisfactory account of zero can be obtained by...

Error possibility, contextualism, and bias

A central theoretical motivation for epistemic contextualism is that it can explain something that invariantism cannot. Specifically, contextualism claims that judgments about “knowledge” are sensitive to the salience of error possibilities and that this is explained by the fact that salience shifts the evidential standard required to truthfully say someone “knows” something when...

The where of bodily awareness

In bodily awareness body parts are felt to occupy locations relative to the rest of the body. Bodily sensations are felt to be, in Brian O’Shaughnessy’s terms ‘in-a-certain-body-part-at-a-position-in-body-relative-physical-space’. In this paper I put forward a dispositional account of the structure of the spatial content of bodily awareness, which takes inspiration from Gareth...

The Platonic conception of intellectual virtues: its significance for virtue epistemology

Several contemporary virtue scholars (e.g. Zagzebski in Virtues of the mind: an inquiry into the nature of virtue and the ethical foundations of knowledge, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1996; Kvanvig in The intellectual virtues and the life of the mind, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, 1992) trace the origin of the concept of intellectual virtues back to Aristotle. In...

Natural kinds and dispositions: a causal analysis

Objects have dispositions. Dispositions are normally analyzed by providing a meaning to disposition ascriptions like ‘This piece of salt is soluble’. Philosophers like Carnap, Goodman, Quine, Lewis and many others have proposed analyses of such disposition ascriptions. In this paper we will argue with Quine (‘Natural Kinds’, 1970) that the proper analysis of ascriptions of the...

The field and landscape of affordances: Koffka’s two environments revisited

The smooth integration of the natural sciences with everyday lived experience is an important ambition of radical embodied cognitive science. In this paper we start from Koffka’s recommendation in his Principles of Gestalt Psychology that to realize this ambition psychology should be a “science of molar behaviour”. Molar behavior refers to the purposeful behaviour of the whole...

The C-word, the P-word, and realism in epidemiology

This paper considers an important recent (May 2018) contribution by Miguel Hernán to the ongoing debate about causal inference in epidemiology. Hernán rejects the idea that there is an in-principle epistemic distinction between the results of randomized controlled trials and observational studies: both produce associations which we may be more or less confident interpreting as...

Austrian economics without extreme apriorism: construing the fundamental axiom of praxeology as analytic

Current debates between behavioural and orthodox economists indicate that the role and epistemological status of first principles is a particularly pressing problem in economics. As an alleged paragon of extreme apriorism, the methodology of Austrian economics in Mises’ tradition is often dismissed as untenable in the light of modern philosophy. In particular, the defence of the...

Epistemic norms, closure, and No-Belief hinge epistemology

Recent views in hinge epistemology rely on doxastic normativism to argue that our attitudes towards hinge propositions are not beliefs. This paper has two aims; the first is positive: it discusses the general normative credentials of this move. The second is negative: it delivers two negative results for No-Belief hinge epistemology such construed. The first concerns the...

Is self-identity essential to objects?

A common view is that self-identity is essential to objects if anything is. Itself a substantive metaphysical view, this is a position of some import in wider debates, particularly (but not exclusively) in connection with such problems as physicalism and personal identity. In this article I challenge the view. I distinguish between two accounts of essence, the modal and the...

Modelling deep indeterminacy

This paper constructs a model of metaphysical indeterminacy that can accommodate a kind of ‘deep’ worldly indeterminacy that arguably arises in quantum mechanics via the Kochen–Specker theorem, and that is incompatible with prominent theories of metaphysical indeterminacy such as that in Barnes and Williams (Oxf Stud Metaphys 6:103–148, 2011). We construct a variant of Barnes and...

Closure, credence and rationality: a problem for non-belief hinge epistemology

Duncan Pritchard’s Epistemic Angst promises a novel solution to the closure-based sceptical problem that, unlike more traditional solutions, does not entail revising our fundamental epistemological commitments. In order to do this, it appeals to a Wittgensteinian account of rational evaluation, the overarching theme of which is that it neither makes sense to doubt nor to believe...

Epidemiology is ecosystem science

This paper primarily argues that Epidemiology is Ecosystem Science. It will not only explore this notion in detail but will also relate it to the argument that Classical Chinese Medicine was/is Ecosystem Science. Ecosystem Science (as instantiated by Epidemiology) and Ecosystem Science (as instantiated by Classical Chinese Medicine) share these characteristics: (a) they do not...

Approval-directed agency and the decision theory of Newcomb-like problems

Decision theorists disagree about how instrumentally rational agents, i.e., agents trying to achieve some goal, should behave in so-called Newcomb-like problems, with the main contenders being causal and evidential decision theory. Since the main goal of artificial intelligence research is to create machines that make instrumentally rational decisions, the disagreement pertains...

Multiscale integration: beyond internalism and externalism

We present a multiscale integrationist interpretation of the boundaries of cognitive systems, using the Markov blanket formalism of the variational free energy principle. This interpretation is intended as a corrective for the philosophical debate over internalist and externalist interpretations of cognitive boundaries; we stake out a compromise position. We first survey key...

Information elaboration and epistemic effects of diversity

We suggest that philosophical accounts of epistemic effects of diversity have given insufficient attention to the relationship between demographic diversity and information elaboration (IE), the process whereby knowledge dispersed in a group is elicited and examined. We propose an analysis of IE that clarifies hypotheses proposed in the empirical literature and their relationship...

Generalizing empirical adequacy II: partial structures

I show that extant attempts to capture and generalize empirical adequacy in terms of partial structures fail. Indeed, the motivations for the generalizations in the partial structures approach are better met by the generalizations via approximation sets developed in “Generalizing Empirical Adequacy I” (Lutz in Synthese 191:3195–3225, 2014b.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-014...

Enactivism, other minds, and mental disorders

Although enactive approaches to cognition vary in terms of their character and scope, all endorse several core claims. The first is that cognition is tied to action. The second is that cognition is composed of more than just in-the-head processes; cognitive activities are (at least partially) externalized via features of our embodiment and in our ecological dealings with the...

Fixed-point solutions to the regress problem in normative uncertainty

When we are faced with a choice among acts, but are uncertain about the true state of the world, we may be uncertain about the acts’ “choiceworthiness”. Decision theories guide our choice by making normative claims about how we should respond to this uncertainty. If we are unsure which decision theory is correct, however, we may remain unsure of what we ought to do. Given this...

Vertical versus horizontal: What is really at issue in the exclusion problem?

I outline two ways of reading what is at issue in the exclusion problem faced by non-reductive physicalism, the “vertical” versus “horizontal”, and argue that the vertical reading is to be preferred to the horizontal. I discuss the implications: that those who have pursued solutions to the horizontal reading of the problem have taken a wrong turn.

Extended mathematical cognition: external representations with non-derived content

Vehicle externalism maintains that the vehicles of our mental representations can be located outside of the head, that is, they need not be instantiated by neurons located inside the brain of the cogniser. But some disagree, insisting that ‘non-derived’, or ‘original’, content is the mark of the cognitive and that only biologically instantiated representational vehicles can have...

The nonclassical mereology of olfactory experiences

While there is a growing philosophical interest in analysing olfactory experiences, the mereological structure of odours considered in respect of how they are perceptually experienced has not yet been extensively investigated. The paper argues that odours are perceptually experienced as having a mereological structure, but this structure is significantly different from the...

Experimental ordinary language philosophy: a cross-linguistic study of defeasible default inferences

This paper provides new tools for philosophical argument analysis and fresh empirical foundations for ‘critical’ ordinary language philosophy. Language comprehension routinely involves stereotypical inferences with contextual defeaters. J.L. Austin’s Sense and Sensibilia first mooted the idea that contextually inappropriate stereotypical inferences from verbal case-descriptions...

Safety, domination, and differential support

In a recent paper “Safety, Sensitivity, and Differential Support” (Synthese, December 2017), Jose Zalabardo argues that (contra Sosa in Philos Perspect 33(13):141–153, 1999) sensitivity can be differentially supported as the correct requirement for propositional knowledge. Zalabardo argues that safety fails to dominate sensitivity; specifically: some cases of knowledge failure...

Infinite idealizations in science: an introduction

We offer a framework for organizing the literature regarding the debates revolving around infinite idealizations in science, and a short summary of the contributions to this special issue.