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  • What’s the Matter with Super-Humeanism?
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2020-06-01
    William M R Simpson

    Esfeld has proposed a minimalist ontology of nature called ‘super-Humeanism’ that purports to accommodate quantum phenomena and avoid standard objections to neo-Humean metaphysics. I argue that Esfeld’s sparse ontology has counterintuitive consequences and generates two self-undermining dilemmas concerning the nature of time and space. Contrary to Esfeld, I deny that super-Humeanism supports an ontology

  • Epistemic Irrationality in the Bayesian Brain
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2020-05-16
    Daniel Williams

    A large body of research in cognitive psychology and neuroscience draws on Bayesian statistics to model information processing within the brain. Many theorists have noted that this research seems to be in tension with a large body of experimental results purportedly documenting systematic deviations from Bayesian updating in human belief formation. In response, proponents of the Bayesian brain hypothesis

  • Against Computational Perspectivalism
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2020-05-16
    Dimitri Coelho Mollo

    Computational perspectivalism has been recently proposed as an alternative to mainstream accounts of physical computation, and especially to the teleologically-based mechanistic view. It takes physical computation to be partly dependent on explanatory perspectives and eschews appeal to teleology in helping individuate computational systems. I assess several varieties of computational perspectivalism

  • Is Peer Review a Good Idea?
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2020-05-16
    Remco Heesen; Liam Kofi Bright

    Prepublication peer review should be abolished. We consider the effects that such a change will have on the social structure of science, paying particular attention to the changed incentive structure and the likely effects on the behaviour of individual scientists. We evaluate these changes from the perspective of epistemic consequentialism. We find that where the effects of abolishing prepublication

  • Are Synthetic Genomes Parts of a Genetic Lineage?
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2020-05-03
    Gunnar Babcock

    Biologists are nearing the creation of the first fully synthetic eukaryotic genome. Does this mean that we still soon be able to create genomes that are parts of an existing genetic lineage? If so, it might be possible to bring back extinct species. But do genomes that are synthetically assembled, no matter how similar they are to native genomes, really belong to the genetic lineage on which they were

  • The Problem of State-Dependent Utility: A Reappraisal
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2020-05-03
    Jean Baccelli

    State-dependent utility is a problem for the behavioural branch of decision theory under uncertainty. It questions the very possibility that beliefs be revealed by choice data. According to the current literature, all models of beliefs are equally exposed to the problem. Moreover, the problem is solvable only when the decision-maker can influence the resolution of uncertainty. This article gives grounds

  • Blind Cooperation: The Evolution of Redundancy via Ignorance
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2020-05-03
    Makmiller Pedroso

    One curious phenomenon of several social groups is that they are ‘redundant’ in the sense that they contain more cooperators than strictly needed to complete certain group tasks, such as foraging. Redundancy is puzzling because redundant groups are particularly susceptible to invasion by defectors. Yet, redundancy can be found in groups formed by a wide range of organisms, including insects and microbes

  • Epistemic Justification and Methodological Luck in Inflationary Cosmology.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2019-11-20
    C D McCoy

    I present a recent historical case from cosmology-the story of inflationary cosmology-and on its basis argue that solving explanatory problems is a reliable method for making progress in science. In particular, I claim that the success of inflationary theory at solving its predecessor's explanatory problems justified the theory epistemically, even in advance of the development of novel predictions

  • The Confounding Question of Confounding Causes in Randomized Trials.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2019-08-14
    Jonathan Fuller

    It is sometimes thought that randomized study group allocation is uniquely proficient at producing comparison groups that are evenly balanced for all confounding causes. Philosophers have argued that in real randomized controlled trials this balance assumption typically fails. But is the balance assumption an important ideal? I run a thought experiment, the CONFOUND study, to answer this question.

  • Health as a Secondary Property.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2019-05-16
    Alex Broadbent

    In the literature on health, naturalism and normativism are typically characterized as espousing and rejecting, respectively, the view that health is objective and value-free. This article points out that there are two distinct dimensions of disagreement, regarding objectivity and value-ladenness, and thus arranges naturalism and normativism as diagonal opposites on a two-by-two matrix of possible

  • Decoding the Brain: Neural Representation and the Limits of Multivariate Pattern Analysis in Cognitive Neuroscience.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2019-05-16
    J Brendan Ritchie,David Michael Kaplan,Colin Klein

    Since its introduction, multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA), or 'neural decoding', has transformed the field of cognitive neuroscience. Underlying its influence is a crucial inference, which we call the decoder's dictum: if information can be decoded from patterns of neural activity, then this provides strong evidence about what information those patterns represent. Although the dictum is a widely

  • Content in Simple Signalling Systems.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-11-18
    Nicholas Shea,Peter Godfrey-Smith,Rosa Cao

    Our understanding of communication and its evolution has advanced significantly through the study of simple models involving interacting senders and receivers of signals. Many theorists have thought that the resources of mathematical information theory are all that are needed to capture the meaning or content that is being communicated in these systems. However, the way theorists routinely talk about

  • Infinitesimal Probabilities.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-07-07
    Vieri Benci,Leon Horsten,Sylvia Wenmackers

    Non-Archimedean probability functions allow us to combine regularity with perfect additivity. We discuss the philosophical motivation for a particular choice of axioms for a non-Archimedean probability theory and answer some philosophical objections that have been raised against infinitesimal probabilities in general. 1 Introduction2 The Limits of Classical Probability Theory  2.1 Classical probability

  • Model-Selection Theory: The Need for a More Nuanced Picture of Use-Novelty and Double-Counting.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-05-22
    Katie Steele,Charlotte Werndl

    This article argues that common intuitions regarding (a) the specialness of 'use-novel' data for confirmation and (b) that this specialness implies the 'no-double-counting rule', which says that data used in 'constructing' (calibrating) a model cannot also play a role in confirming the model's predictions, are too crude. The intuitions in question are pertinent in all the sciences, but we appeal to

  • A Proposed Probabilistic Extension of the Halpern and Pearl Definition of 'Actual Cause'.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-03-30
    Luke Fenton-Glynn

    Joseph Halpern and Judea Pearl ([2005]) draw upon structural equation models to develop an attractive analysis of 'actual cause'. Their analysis is designed for the case of deterministic causation. I show that their account can be naturally extended to provide an elegant treatment of probabilistic causation. 1Introduction2Preemption3Structural Equation Models4The Halpern and Pearl Definition of 'Actual

  • Counterfactual Desirability.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2017-06-01
    Richard Bradley,H Orri Stefánsson

    The desirability of what actually occurs is often influenced by what could have been. Preferences based on such value dependencies between actual and counterfactual outcomes generate a class of problems for orthodox decision theory, the best-known perhaps being the so-called Allais paradox. In this article we solve these problems by extending Richard Jeffrey's decision theory to counterfactual prospects

  • Epistemic Benefits of Elaborated and Systematized Delusions in Schizophrenia.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2016-12-08
    Lisa Bortolotti

    In this article I ask whether elaborated and systematized delusions emerging in the context of schizophrenia have the potential for epistemic innocence. Cognitions are epistemically innocent if they have significant epistemic benefits that could not be attained otherwise. In particular, I propose that a cognition is epistemically innocent if it delivers some significant epistemic benefit to a given

  • 'Genetic Coding' Reconsidered: An Analysis of Actual Usage.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2016-12-08
    Ulrich E Stegmann

    This article reconsiders the theoretical role of the genetic code. By drawing on published and unpublished sources from the 1950s, I analyse how the code metaphor was actually employed by the scientists who first promoted its use. The analysis shows that the term 'code' picked out mechanism sketches, consisting of more or less detailed descriptions of ordinary molecular components, processes, and structural

  • Inherited Representations are Read in Development.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2013-03-26
    Nicholas Shea

    Recent theoretical work has identified a tightly constrained sense in which genes carry representational content. Representational properties of the genome are founded in the transmission of DNA over phylogenetic time and its role in natural selection. However, genetic representation is not just relevant to questions of selection and evolution. This article goes beyond existing treatments and argues

  • The Vegetative State and the Science of Consciousness.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2010-09-01
    Nicholas Shea,Tim Bayne

    Consciousness in experimental subjects is typically inferred from reports and other forms of voluntary behaviour. A wealth of everyday experience confirms that healthy subjects do not ordinarily behave in these ways unless they are conscious. Investigation of consciousness in vegetative state patients has been based on the search for neural evidence that such broad functional capacities are preserved

  • Sameness of age cohorts in the mathematics of population growth.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 1994-01-01
    A Akkerman

    "Considering age groups as part of cohorts, implicit in LLM [a Leslie-Lotka finitist model], causes difficulty, manifested by the extensionality paradox. The proposition made here was that cohorts are empirical temporal entities, while age groups are theoretical entities, references only. Cohort is a multitude of persons born at the same time interval, throughout the totality of their lives. Age group

  • The Complementarity of Psychometrics and the Representational Theory of Measurement
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2019-07-09
    Elina Vessonen

    Psychometrics and the representational theory of measurement (RTM) are widely used in social scientific measurement. They are currently pursued largely in isolation from one another. I argue that despite their separation in practice, RTM and psychometrics are complementary approaches, because they can contribute in complementary ways to the establishment of what I argue is a crucial measurement property

  • Constitutive Relevance in Interlevel Experiments
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-08-10
    Maria Serban; Sune Holm

    One reason for the popularity of Craver’s mutual manipulability (MM) account of constitutive relevance is that it seems to make good sense of the experimental practices and constitutive reasoning in the life sciences. Two recent papers (Baumgartner and Gebharter [2016]; Baumgartner and Casini [2017]) propose a theoretical alternative to (MM) in light of several important conceptual objections. Their

  • Explanatory Abstraction and the Goldilocks Problem: Interventionism Gets Things Just Right
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-07-14
    Thomas Blanchard

    Theories of explanation need to account for a puzzling feature of our explanatory practices: the fact that we prefer explanations that are relatively abstract but only moderately so. Contra Franklin-Hall ([2016]), I argue that the interventionist account of explanation provides a natural and elegant explanation of this fact. By striking the right balance between specificity and generality, moderately

  • The Principal Principle Does Not Imply the Principle of Indifference
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-07-04
    Richard Pettigrew

    In a recent paper in this journal, James Hawthorne, Jürgen Landes, Christian Wallmann, and Jon Williamson (henceforth HLWW) argue that the principal principle entails the principle of indifference. In this article, I argue that it does not. Lewis’s version of the principal principle notoriously depends on a notion of admissibility, which Lewis uses to restrict its application. HLWW base their argument

  • Does IBE Require a ‘Model’ of Explanation?
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-06-29
    Frank Cabrera

    In this article, I consider an important challenge to the popular theory of scientific inference commonly known as ‘inference to the best explanation’ (IBE), one that has received scant attention.1 The problem is that there exists a wide array of rival models of explanation, thus leaving IBE objectionably indeterminate. First, I briefly introduce IBE. Then, I motivate the problem and offer three potential

  • The Real Problem with Perturbative Quantum Field Theory
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-06-28
    James D Fraser

    The perturbative approach to quantum field theory (QFT) has long been viewed with suspicion by philosophers of science. This article offers a diagnosis of its conceptual problems. Drawing on Norton’s ([2012]) discussion of the notion of approximation I argue that perturbative QFT ought to be understood as producing approximations without specifying an underlying QFT model. This analysis leads to a

  • Getting Serious about Shared Features.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-06-28
    Donal Khosrowi

    In Simulation and Similarity, Michael Weisberg offers a similarity-based account of the model–world relation, which is the relation in virtue of which successful models are successful. Weisberg’s main idea is that models are similar to targets in virtue of sharing features. An important concern about Weisberg’s account is that it remains silent on what it means for models and targets to share features

  • Asymmetry, Abstraction, and Autonomy: Justifying Coarse-Graining in Statistical Mechanics.
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-06-26
    Katie Robertson

    While the fundamental laws of physics are time-reversal invariant, most macroscopic processes are irreversible. Given that the fundamental laws are taken to underpin all other processes, how can the fundamental time-symmetry be reconciled with the asymmetry manifest elsewhere? In statistical mechanics (SM), progress can be made with this question. What I dub the ‘Zwanzig–Zeh–Wallace framework’ can

  • Why Surplus Structure Is Not Superfluous
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-03-28
    James Nguyen; Nicholas J Teh; Laura Wells

    The idea that gauge theory has ‘surplus’ structure poses a puzzle: in one much discussed sense, this structure is redundant; but on the other hand, it is also widely held to play an essential role in the theory. In this article, we employ category-theoretic tools to illuminate an aspect of this puzzle. We precisify what is meant by surplus structure by means of functorial comparisons with equivalence

  • ‘Models of’ and ‘Models for’: On the Relation between Mechanistic Models and Experimental Strategies in Molecular Biology
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-03-15
    Emanuele Ratti

    Molecular biologists exploit information conveyed by mechanistic models for experimental purposes. In this article, I make sense of this aspect of biological practice by developing Keller’s idea of the distinction between ‘models of’ and ‘models for’. ‘Models of (phenomena)’ should be understood as models representing phenomena and are valuable if they explain phenomena. ‘Models for (manipulating phenomena)’

  • The Sense of Time
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-03-14
    Gerardo Viera

    It’s often claimed in the philosophical and scientific literature on temporal representation that there is no such thing as a genuine sensory system for time. In this article, I argue for the opposite—many animals, including all mammals, possess a genuine sensory system for time based in the circadian system. In arguing for this conclusion, I develop a semantics and meta-semantics for explaining how

  • The Principal Principle Does Not Imply the Principle of Indifference, Because Conditioning on Biconditionals Is Counterintuitive
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-01-16
    Michael G Titelbaum; Casey Hart

    Roger White ([2010]) argued for a principle of indifference. Hart and Titelbaum ([2015]) showed that White’s argument relied on an intuition about conditioning on biconditionals that, while widely shared, is incorrect. Hawthorne, Landes, Wallmann, and Williamson ([2017]) argue for a principle of indifference. Remarkably, their argument relies on the same faulty intuition. We explain their intuition

  • Mathematical Explanation beyond Explanatory Proof
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-01-16
    William D’Alessandro

    Much recent work on mathematical explanation has presupposed that the phenomenon involves explanatory proofs in an essential way. I argue that this view, ‘proof chauvinism’, is false. I then look in some detail at the explanation of the solvability of polynomial equations provided by Galois theory, which has often been thought to revolve around an explanatory proof. The article concludes with some

  • Generalism and the Metaphysics of Ontic Structural Realism
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2018-01-16
    David Glick

    Ontic structural realism (OSR) claims that all there is to the world is structure. But how can this slogan be turned into a worked-out metaphysics? Here I consider one potential answer: a metaphysical framework known as ‘generalism’ (Dasgupta [2009], [2016]). According to the generalist, the most fundamental description of the world is not given in terms of individuals bearing properties, but rather

  • Structuralism in the Idiom of Determination
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2017-12-07
    Kerry McKenzie

    Ontic structural realism (OSR) is a thesis of fundamentality metaphysics: the thesis that structure, not objects, has fundamental status. Claimed as the metaphysic most befitting of modern physics, OSR first emerged as an entreaty to eliminate objects from the metaphysics of fundamental physics. Such elimination was urged by Steven French and James Ladyman on the grounds that only it could resolve

  • Signalling under Uncertainty: Interpretative Alignment without a Common Prior
    Br. J. Philos. Sci. (IF 2.605) Pub Date : 2017-11-28
    Thomas Brochhagen

    Communication involves a great deal of uncertainty. Prima facie, it is therefore surprising that biological communication systems—from cellular to human—exhibit a high degree of ambiguity and often leave its resolution to contextual cues. This puzzle deepens once we consider that contextual information may diverge between individuals. In the following we lay out a model of ambiguous communication in

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