Science & Logic

A way forward on the normalizability problem for the Fine-Tuning Argument

The Fine-Tuning Argument claims that the life-permitting ranges of various parameters are so narrow that, absent theism, we should be surprised that the parameters fall into those ranges. ¶ The normalizability objection is that if a parameter ξ can take any real value, then any finite life-permitting range of values of ξ counts as a “narrow range”, since every finite range is an infinitesimal portion of the full range from −∞ to ∞. Another way to put the problem is that there is no uniform probability distribution on the set of real numbers. ¶ There is, however, a natural probability distribution on the set of real numbers that makes sense as a prior probability distribution. It is related to the Solomonoff priors, but rather different. ¶ Start with a language L with a finite symbol set usable for describing mathematical objects. Proceed as follows. Randomly generate finite strings of symbols in L (say, by picking independently and uniformly randomly from the set of symbols in L plus an “end of string” symbol until you generate an end of string symbol). Conditionalize on the string constituting a unique description of a probability measure on the Lebesgue measurable subsets of the real numbers. If you do get a unique description of a probability measure, then choose a real number according to this distribution. ¶ The result is a very natural probability measure PL (a countable weighted sum of probability measures on the same σ-algebra with weights adding to unity is a... -

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A plan for philosophy of social science circa 1976

image: Imre LakatosMy Ph.D. dissertation in philosophy was written between 1974 and 1977 and was accepted in 1977. The topic was Marx's theory of science as embodied in Capital, and it was one of the early attempts to join an analytical philosophical perspective with careful study of Marx's ideas. The title of the dissertation was Marx's Capital: A Study in the Philosophy of Social Science. The dissertation proposed a different way of attempting to understand Marx, and it also proposed a different approach to developing the philosophy of social science -- an approach that gives greater attention to the details and history of social-science research. This part of the introduction to the dissertation describes the view I then had of the purposes and current deficiencies... -

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What’s Wrong With Listening to Michael Jackson?

¶ ¶ Blog post here. -

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Hilbert’s Program

[Revised entry by Richard Zach on May 24, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] In the early 1920s, the German mathematician David Hilbert (1862 - 1943) put forward a new proposal for the foundation of classical mathematics which has come to be known as Hilbert's Program. It calls for a... -

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What’s Wrong With Listening to Michael Jackson? Blog post here. What's Wrong? -


Linear Logic [Revised entry by Roberto Di Cosmo and Dale Miller on May 24, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Linear logic is a refinement of classical and intuitionistic logic. Instead of emphasizing truth, as in classical logic, or proof, as in intuitionistic logic, linear logic emphasizes the role of formulas as resources. To achieve this focus, linear logic does not allow the usual structural rules of contraction and weakening to apply to all formulas but only... Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy -


A way forward on the normalizability problem for the Fine-Tuning Argument The Fine-Tuning Argument claims that the life-permitting ranges of various parameters are so narrow that, absent theism, we should be surprised that the parameters fall into those ranges. The normalizability objection is that if a parameter ξ can take any real value, then any finite life-permitting range of values of ξ counts as a “narrow range”, since every finite range is an infinitesimal portion of the full range from −∞ to ∞. Another way to... Alexander Pruss -


Why Fiction Trumps Truth We humans know more truths than any species on earth. Yet we also believe the most falsehoods. The Stone -


Hilbert’s Program [Revised entry by Richard Zach on May 24, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] In the early 1920s, the German mathematician David Hilbert (1862 - 1943) put forward a new proposal for the foundation of classical mathematics which has come to be known as Hilbert's Program. It calls for a formalization of all of mathematics in axiomatic form, together with a proof that this axiomatization of mathematics is consistent. The consistency proof itself was to... Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy -


Improving on Solomonoff priors Let’s say that we want prior probabilities for data that can be encoded as a countably infinite binary sequence. Generalized Solomonoff priors work as follows: We have a language L (in the original setting, it’ll be based on Turing machines) and we generate random descriptions in L in a canonical way (e.g., add an end-of-string symbol to L and randomly and independently generate symbols until you hit the end-of-string symbol, and then conditionalize on the... Alexander Pruss -


A Neurophilosophy of International Relations: The Case for Symbiotic Realism, Multi-Sum Security, and Just Power by Nayef Al-Rodhan   International Relations (IR) developed as a distinct discipline after World War II but its theoretical and philosophical foundations predate the 20th century. ... Read more... Blog of the APA -


Holes [Revised entry by Roberto Casati and Achille Varzi on May 23, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Holes are an interesting case study for ontologists and epistemologists. Naive, untutored descriptions of the world treat holes as objects of reference, on a par with ordinary material objects. ('There are as many holes in the cheese as there are cookies in the tin.') And we often appeal to holes to account for causal interactions, or to explain... Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy -


How to serve two epistemic masters In "this 2018 paper, J. Dmitri Gallow shows that it is difficult to combine multiple deference principles. The argument is a little complicated, but the basic idea is surprisingly simple. Suppose A and B are two weather forecasters. Let r be the proposition that it will rain tomorrow, let A=x be the proposition that A assigns probability x to r; similarly for B=x. Here are two deference principles you might like to follow: (1) Cr(r... Wo’s Weblog -


Who Shall We Invite? Improving Department Research Seminar Invitation Practices by Ian James Kidd and Matthew Duncombe Most departments have regular research seminars, usually weekly during term-time with an invited speaker, who talks for about ... Read more... Blog of the APA -


Don’t Go Near Them Said Grandpa They’re not like us.  Most of them don’t know about human life or human love.  Some of them know a little about human life but nothing about human love.  Some of them know a little about human love, but nothing about human life.  Steer clear of them. They’re the worst. On the branch, the shape of a fourteen year old girl was sitting, brambles in her hair, and beckoning. Eric Linus Kaplan -


Kant workshop on May 24, Friday in Bogazici University (second update) 14:00 Anita Leirfal (University of Bergen), On the perception of forces: Some Kantian reflections; 15:45 Lucas Thorpe (BU), Kant on character and calculus; 17:30 Ken Westphal (BU), Kant’s Two Models of Human Actions; the talks will be in John Freely 507 Hesperous is Bosperous -


Kant workshop on May 24, Friday in Bogazici University (update) 14:00, Anita Leirfal (University of Bergen), On the perception of forces: Some Kantian reflections; 16:00, Lucas Thorpe (BU), Kant on character and calculus; 17:45, Ken Westphal (BU), TBD; All three talks are in John Freely 507 Hesperous is Bosperous -


Kant workshop on May 24, Friday in Bogazici 14:00, Ken Westphal (BU), TBD; 15:30, Lucas Thorpe (BU), Kant on character and calculus; 17:00 Anita Leirfall (University of Bergen), On the perception of forces: Some Kantian reflections; All three talks are in John Freely 507 Hesperous is Bosperous -


Logical Constructions [Revised entry by Bernard Linsky on May 21, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The term "logical construction" was used by Bertrand Russell to describe a series of similar philosophical theories beginning with the 1901 "Frege-Russell" definition of numbers as classes and continuing through his "construction" of the notions of space, time and matter after 1914. Philosophers since the 1920s have argued about the significance of "logical construction" as a method in analytic philosophy and... Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy -


Church’s Type Theory [Revised entry by Christoph Benzmüller and Peter Andrews on May 21, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Church's type theory, aka simple type theory, is a formal logical language which includes classical first-order and propositional logic, but is more expressive in a practical sense. It is used, with some modifications and enhancements, in most modern applications of type theory. It is particularly well suited to the formalization of mathematics and other disciplines and to... Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy -


Walter Veit’s talk in Bogazici “From Scaffolding to Natural Selection”; May 23, Thursday at 17h; John Freely Building Room #’s 507 and 508; Abstract: Darwin provided us with a powerful tool to explain the evolution of living systems: the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Traditional approaches, however, merely relying on natural selection have proven insufficient to explain the emergence of new levels of selection, i.e. the major transitions. The problem is one of circularity for evolutionary explanations: how to... Hesperous is Bosperous -


Superstitious Confabulations In this post, Anna Ichino, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Milan, working primarily in the philosophy of mind and philosophical psychology, continues our series of research posts on the special issue in Topoi, introducing her paper "Superstitious confabulations".  Confabulation is a heterogenous phenomenon, which varies across a number of dimensions – including content, mode of elicitation, aetiology, and more. While acknowledging this heterogeneity, recent philosophical discussions have focussed mostly on some particular kinds of confabulation:... Imperfect Cognitions -


“Beyond Presence?” I’m part of a symposium on the question of “presence” in Heidegger that was published today, HERE. Object Oriented Philosophy -


The G&T Ceremony alcoholcocktailsgin and tonic Man Without Qualities -