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Causal pluralism versus epistemic causality
, 2007
"... It is tempting to analyse causality in terms of just one of the indicators of causal relationships, e.g., mechanisms, probabilistic dependencies or independencies, counterfactual conditionals or agency considerations. While such an analysis will surely shed light on some aspect of our concept of cau ..."
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It is tempting to analyse causality in terms of just one of the indicators of causal relationships, e.g., mechanisms, probabilistic dependencies or independencies, counterfactual conditionals or agency considerations. While such an analysis will surely shed light on some aspect of our concept of cause, it will fail to capture the whole, rather multifarious, notion. So one might instead plump for pluralism: a different analysis for a different occasion. But we do not seem to have lots of different kinds of cause—just one eclectic notion. The resolution of this conundrum, I think, requires us to accept that our causal beliefs are generated by a wide variety of indicators, but to deny that this variety of indicators yields a variety of concepts of cause. This focus on the relation between evidence and causal beliefs leads to what I call epistemic causality. Under this view, certain causal beliefs are appropriate or rational on the basis of observed evidence; our notion of cause can be understood purely in terms of these rational
Reflections on Skolem's Paradox
"... In 1922, Thoraf Skolem published a paper titled "Some remarks on Axiomatized Set Theory". The paper presents a new proof of... This dissertation focuses almost exclusively on the first half of this project  i.e., the half which tries to expose an initial tension between Cantor's the ..."
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Cited by 4 (2 self)
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In 1922, Thoraf Skolem published a paper titled "Some remarks on Axiomatized Set Theory". The paper presents a new proof of... This dissertation focuses almost exclusively on the first half of this project  i.e., the half which tries to expose an initial tension between Cantor's theorem and the LöwenheimSkolem theorem. I argue that, even on quite naive understandings of set theory and model theory, there is no such tension. Hence, Skolem's Paradox is not a genuine paradox, and there is very little reason to worry about (or even to investigate) the more extreme consequences that are supposed to follow from this paradox. The heart of my...
Some Limitations to the Psychological Orientation, in Semantic Theory
, 1995
"... This paper was begun in the mid 1980's  I will try to find out exactly when sometime. The last time that I worked at all on the text was in 1988. This is essentially the 1988 draft, with some minor formatting changes. I have never published the paper because it seems to me to need more though ..."
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This paper was begun in the mid 1980's  I will try to find out exactly when sometime. The last time that I worked at all on the text was in 1988. This is essentially the 1988 draft, with some minor formatting changes. I have never published the paper because it seems to me to need more thought.
How in the world
 University of Arkansas
, 1996
"... ....the final proof of God's omnipotence [is] that he need not exist in order to save us. Peter DeVries, The Mackerel Plaza Is it just me, or do philosophers have a way of bringing existence in where it is not wanted? All of the most popular analyses, it seems, take notions that are not overtly ..."
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....the final proof of God's omnipotence [is] that he need not exist in order to save us. Peter DeVries, The Mackerel Plaza Is it just me, or do philosophers have a way of bringing existence in where it is not wanted? All of the most popular analyses, it seems, take notions that are not overtly existenceinvolving and connect them up with notions that are existenceinvolving up to their teeth. An inference is valid or invalid according to whether or not there exists a countermodel to it; the Fs are equinumerous with the Gs iff there exists a onetoone function between them; it will rain iff there exists a future time at which it does rain; and, of course, such and such is possible iff there exists a world at which such and such is the case. The problem with these analyses is not just the unwelcome ontology; it is more the ontology's intuitive irrelevance to the notions being analyzed. Even someone not especially opposed to functions, to1 take that example, is still liable to feel uneasy about putting facts of
1 PYTHAGOREAN POWERS or A CHALLENGE TO PLATONISM
"... I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. Bertrand Russell, Autobiography, vol. 1, Prologue. The Quine/Putnam indispensability argument is regarded by many as the chief argument for the existence of platonic objects. We argue that this argument cannot ..."
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I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. Bertrand Russell, Autobiography, vol. 1, Prologue. The Quine/Putnam indispensability argument is regarded by many as the chief argument for the existence of platonic objects. We argue that this argument cannot establish what its proponents intend. The form of our argument is simple. Suppose indispensability to science is the only good reason for believing in the existence of platonic objects. Either the dispensability of mathematical objects to science can be demonstrated and, hence, there is no good reason for believing in the existence of platonic objects, or their dispensability cannot be demonstrated and, hence, there is no good reason for believing in the existence of mathematical objects which are genuinely platonic. Therefore, indispensability, whether true or false, does not support platonism. Mathematical platonists claim that at least some of the objects
Absolute Infinity ∗
, 2012
"... This article is concerned with reflection principles in the context of Cantor’s conception of the set theoretic universe. We argue that within a Cantorian conception of the set theoretic universe reflection principles can be formulated that confer intrinsic plausibility to strong axioms of infinity. ..."
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This article is concerned with reflection principles in the context of Cantor’s conception of the set theoretic universe. We argue that within a Cantorian conception of the set theoretic universe reflection principles can be formulated that confer intrinsic plausibility to strong axioms of infinity. How can I talk to you, I have no words... Virgin Prunes, I am God 1
Absolute Generality Reconsidered
"... Years ago, when I was young and reckless, I believed that there was such a thing as an allinclusive domain. 1 Now I have come to see the error of my ways. The source of my mistake was a view that might be labeled ‘Tractarianism’. Tractarians believe that language is subject to a metaphysical constra ..."
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Years ago, when I was young and reckless, I believed that there was such a thing as an allinclusive domain. 1 Now I have come to see the error of my ways. The source of my mistake was a view that might be labeled ‘Tractarianism’. Tractarians believe that language is subject to a metaphysical constraint. In order for an atomic sentence to be true, there needs to be a certain kind of correspondence between the semantic structure of the sentence and the ‘metaphysical structure ’ of reality. The purpose of this paper is to explain why I think Tractarianism is mistaken, and what I think an antiTractarian should say about absolutely general quantification. 1
ELLERY EELLS OBJECTIVE PROBABILITY THEORY THEO
"... ABSTRACT. I argue that to the extent to which philosophical theories of objective probability have offered theoretically adequate conceptions of objective probability (in connection with such desiderata as causal and explanatory significance, applicability to single cases, etc.), they have failed to ..."
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ABSTRACT. I argue that to the extent to which philosophical theories of objective probability have offered theoretically adequate conceptions of objective probability (in connection with such desiderata as causal and explanatory significance, applicability to single cases, etc.), they have failed to satisfy a methodological standard roughly, a requirement to the effect that the conception offered be specified with the precision appropriate for a physical interpretation of an abstract formal calculus and be fully explicated in terms of concepts, objects or phenomena understood independently of the idea of physical probability. The significance of this, and of the suggested methodological standard, is then briefly discussed. 1. Philosophical discussions on the topic of probability have mainly focused on two kinds of issues, the first having to do with the concept of probability and the second having to do with methodological standards which an interpretation of probability (Le., a philosophical theory about the nature of probability) itself must satisfy if it is to be an adequate
Mathematical symbols as epistemic actions
"... Recent experimental evidence from developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience indicates that humans are equipped with unlearned elementary mathematical skills. However, formal mathematics has properties that cannot be reduced to these elementary cognitive capacities. The question then arises ..."
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Recent experimental evidence from developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience indicates that humans are equipped with unlearned elementary mathematical skills. However, formal mathematics has properties that cannot be reduced to these elementary cognitive capacities. The question then arises how human beings cognitively deal with more advanced mathematical ideas. This paper draws on the extended mind thesis to suggest that mathematical symbols enable us to delegate some mathematical operations to the external environment. In this view, mathematical symbols are not only used to express mathematical concepts—they are constitutive of the mathematical concepts themselves. Mathematical symbols are epistemic actions, because they enable us to represent concepts that are literally unthinkable with our bare brains. Using casestudies from the history of mathematics and from educational psychology, we argue for an intimate relationship between mathematical symbols and mathematical cognition. This paper is the draft prior to peer review. The definitive version can be found in the Online first edition of Synthese at the following