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Epiphenomenalism  the Do’s and the Don’ts
"... When philosophers defend epiphenomenalist doctrines, they often do so by way of a priori arguments. Here we suggest an empirical approach that is modeled on August Weismann’s experimental arguments against the inheritance of acquired characters. This conception of how epiphenomenalism ought to be ..."
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When philosophers defend epiphenomenalist doctrines, they often do so by way of a priori arguments. Here we suggest an empirical approach that is modeled on August Weismann’s experimental arguments against the inheritance of acquired characters. This conception of how epiphenomenalism ought to be developed helps clarify some mistakes in two recent epiphenomenalist positions – Jaegwon Kim’s (1993) arguments against mental causation, and the arguments developed by Walsh (2000), Walsh, Lewens, and Ariew (2002), and Matthen and Ariew (2002) that natural selection and drift are not causes of evolution. A manipulationist account of causation (Woodward 2003) leads naturally to an account of how macro and microcausation are related and to an understanding of how epiphenomenalism at different levels of organization should be understood.
Probability Out Of Determinism
 Probabilities in Physics
, 2011
"... This paper offers a metaphysics of physical probability in (or if you prefer, truth conditions for probabilistic claims about) deterministic systems based on an approach to the explanation of probabilistic patterns in deterministic systems called the method of arbitrary functions. Much of the appeal ..."
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This paper offers a metaphysics of physical probability in (or if you prefer, truth conditions for probabilistic claims about) deterministic systems based on an approach to the explanation of probabilistic patterns in deterministic systems called the method of arbitrary functions. Much of the appeal of the method is its promise to provide an account of physical probability on which probability assignments have the ability to support counterfactuals about frequencies. It is argued that the eponymous arbitrary functions are of little philosophical use, but that they can be substituted for facts about frequencies without losing the ability to provide counterfactual support. The result is an account of probability in deterministic systems that has a “propensitylike” look and feel, yet which requires no supplement to the standard modern empiricist tool kit of particular matters of fact and principles of physical dynamics.
Evolution without Naturalism
 STUDIES IN PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION
"... Does evolutionary theory have implications about the existence of supernatural entities? This question concerns the logical relationships that hold between the theory of evolution and different bits of metaphysics. There is a distinct question that I also want to address; it is epistemological in ch ..."
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Does evolutionary theory have implications about the existence of supernatural entities? This question concerns the logical relationships that hold between the theory of evolution and different bits of metaphysics. There is a distinct question that I also want to address; it is epistemological in character. Does the evidence we have for evolutionary theory also provide evidence concerning the existence of supernatural entities? An affirmative answer to the logical question would entail an affirmative answer to the epistemological question if the principle in confirmation theory that Hempel (1965, p. 31) called the special consequence condition were true: The special consequence condition: If an observation report confirms a hypothesis H, then it also confirms every consequence of H. According to this principle, if evolutionary theory has metaphysical implications, then whatever confirms evolutionary theory also must confirm those metaphysical implications. But the special consequence is false. Here‟s a simple example that illustrates why. You are playing poker and would dearly like to know whether the card you are about to be dealt will be the Jack of Hearts. The dealer is a bit careless and so you catch a glimpse of the card on top of the deck before it is dealt to you. You see that it is red. The fact that it is red confirms the hypothesis that the card is the Jack of Hearts, and the hypothesis that it is the Jack of Hearts entails that the card will be a Jack. However, the fact that the card is red does not confirm the hypothesis that the card will be a Jack. 2 Bayesians gloss these facts by understanding confirmation in terms of probability raising: The Bayesian theory of confirmation: O confirms H if and only if Pr(H│O)> Pr(H). The general reason why Bayesianism is incompatible with the special consequence
Probabilism is committed to two theses: What Are Degrees of Belief?
"... 1) Opinion comes in degrees—call them degrees of belief, or credences. 2) The degrees of belief of a rational agent obey the probability calculus. Correspondingly, a natural way to argue for probabilism is: i) to give an account of what degrees of belief are, and then ii) to show that those things s ..."
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1) Opinion comes in degrees—call them degrees of belief, or credences. 2) The degrees of belief of a rational agent obey the probability calculus. Correspondingly, a natural way to argue for probabilism is: i) to give an account of what degrees of belief are, and then ii) to show that those things should be probabilities, on pain of irrationality. Most of the action in the literature concerns stage ii). Assuming that stage i) has been adequately discharged, various authors move on to stage ii) with varied and ingenious arguments. But an unsatisfactory response at stage i) clearly undermines any gains that might be accrued at stage ii) as far as probabilism is concerned: if those things are not degrees of belief, then it is irrelevant to probabilism whether they should be probabilities or not. We would like to take a step back and scrutinize the state of play regarding stage i). Indeed, we find it surprising that it hasn’t been given more scrutiny than it has. Surprising, because ‘degree of belief ’ is the central notion in subjective probability
Statistical Inference Without Frequentist Justifications
, 2008
"... Statistical inference is often justified by longrun properties of the sampling distributions, such as the repeated sampling rationale. These are frequentist justifications of statistical inference. I argue, in line with existing philosophical literature, but against a widespread image in empirical ..."
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Statistical inference is often justified by longrun properties of the sampling distributions, such as the repeated sampling rationale. These are frequentist justifications of statistical inference. I argue, in line with existing philosophical literature, but against a widespread image in empirical science, that these justifications are flawed. Then I propose a novel interpretation of probability in statistics, the artefactual interpretation. I believe that this interpretation is able to bridge the gap between statistical probability calculations and rational decisions on the basis of observed data. The artefactual interpretation is able to justify statistical inference without making any assumptions about probability in the material world. 1 Frequentist Statistics and Frequentists Justifications In modern science, inductive inference often amounts to statistical inference. Statistical techniques have steadily conquered terrain over the last decades and extended their scope of application to more and more disciplines. Explanations
www.elsevier.com/locate/shpsb Probability in GRW theory
"... GRW theory postulates a stochastic mechanism assuring that every so often the wave function of a quantum system is ‘hit’, which leaves it in a localised state. How are we to interpret the probabilities built into this mechanism? GRW theory is a firmly realist proposal and it is therefore clear that ..."
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GRW theory postulates a stochastic mechanism assuring that every so often the wave function of a quantum system is ‘hit’, which leaves it in a localised state. How are we to interpret the probabilities built into this mechanism? GRW theory is a firmly realist proposal and it is therefore clear that these probabilities are objective probabilities (i.e. chances). A discussion of the major theories of chance leads us to the conclusion that GRW probabilities can be understood only as either single case propensities or Humean objective chances. Although single case propensities have some intuitive appeal in the context of GRW theory, on balance it seems that Humean objective chances are preferable on conceptual grounds.
Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 110 (2012) 5e10 Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology
"... journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/pbiomolbio ..."
How Do Natural Selection and Random Drift Interact?
, 2006
"... One controversy about the existence of so called evolutionary forces such as natural selection and random genetic drift concerns the sense in which such “forces ” can be said to interact. In this paper I explain how natural selection and random drift can interact. In particular, I show how populat ..."
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One controversy about the existence of so called evolutionary forces such as natural selection and random genetic drift concerns the sense in which such “forces ” can be said to interact. In this paper I explain how natural selection and random drift can interact. In particular, I show how populationlevel probabilities can be derived from individuallevel probabilities, and explain the sense in which natural selection and drift are embodied in these populationlevel probabilities. I argue that whatever causal character the individuallevel probabilities have is then shared by the populationlevel probabilities, and that natural selection and random drift then have that same causal character. Moreover, natural selection and drift can then be viewed as two aspects of probability distributions over frequencies in populations of organisms. My characterization of populationlevel probabilities is largely neutral about what interpretation of probability is required, allowing my approach to support various positions on biological probabilities, including those which give biological probabilities one or another sort of causal character. 1
Probability in GRW Theory Forthcoming in Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
, 2007
"... 1 GRW Theory postulates a stochastic mechanism assuring that every so often the wave function of a quantum system is ‘hit’, which leaves it in a localised state. How are we to interpret the probabilities built into this mechanism? GRW theory is a firmly realist proposal and it is therefore clear tha ..."
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1 GRW Theory postulates a stochastic mechanism assuring that every so often the wave function of a quantum system is ‘hit’, which leaves it in a localised state. How are we to interpret the probabilities built into this mechanism? GRW theory is a firmly realist proposal and it is therefore clear that these probabilities are objective probabilities (i.e. chances). A discussion of the major theories of chance leads us to the conclusion that GRW probabilities can be understood only as either single case propensities or Humean objective chances. Although single case propensities have some intuitive appeal in the context of GRW theory, on balance it seems that Humean objective chances are preferable on conceptual grounds because single case propensities suffer from various well know problems such as unlimited frequency tolerance and lack of a rationalisation of the principal principle. Contents