2009 Fall Proseminar Class Notes

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I will post some notes on our readings to this page and I invite you to contribute text, questions, and comments about the issues under discussion. You can either enter text or links directly into the Class notes page or use the "discussion" tab, which is also set up by class date.

Alfino 15:16, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

Return to Philosophy Proseminar


This was our introductory class. We made introductions, went over the course goals, the course website, and wiki. We brought up a wide range of topics for use in class.




Dennett's general argument in Ch. 2:

IC/P. Darwin's theory of natural selection establishes a process by which variation and species can be explained as a result of incremental change.

IC/P. The features of the process of natural selection are also the features of algorithms (substrate neutrality, mindlessness, guaranteed results).

C. Natural selection may an instance of a broader algorithmic process which explains the emergence of order in natural systems.

Dennett's general argument in Ch. 3:

The following claims are argued for, but also occur as premises in the larger argument of the book.

IC/P. Darwin's algorithm allows for explanations of order without reference to telos.

IC/P. Explanations of order without reference to telos undermine traditional views of the role of mind in order.

IC/P. The algorithm of selection can be thought of as operating within a "design space." A good trick, such as "reinforcement learning" may give an organism a way of creating order in its phenotype, not just accumulating design in its genotype.

IC/P. Using the algorithm of selection in this way involves an acceptable reduction.

Alfino 17:14, 22 September 2009 (UTC)


Some notes on readings:


124: "Foucault is often classified as a cultural historian, but he preferred the designation "archaeologist of knowledge."
127: "Of the universals that reason claims to know, none is more crucial in the modern era than what we call "human nature." In his analysis of this concept, Foucault avoids such abstract questions as "What is human nature?" and "Does human nature exist?" Instead he asks, "How has the concept of human nature functioned in our society?" Framing the question in this manner opens the way for his program of undermining the Enlightenment self. "
128: "All of this is to say that Foucault moves us beyond structuralism to "post-structuralism." He moves us over the boundary between modernism from postmodernism (although he himself does not use the term).25 Postmoderns like Foucault no longer engage in a quest for an independent self, a given reaUty governed by lawlike regvdarities. They tend to be engaged in something more like interpreting texts. And in this endeavor, they assume not that every text has a single unifying Structure but, to the contrary, that texts are almost infinitely complex. In short, the postmodern paradigm, as exemplified by Foucault, celebrates complexity?-^ "
132: "Knowledge inescapably linked to power."


139: "He was coming to what seemed to him the inescapable conclusion that philosophy is a literary genre. "
140: "In a sense, Derrida begins where Kant leaves off. He raises the question "What foundation can we offer for our use of reason?"2 But he questions the modern trust in reason chiefly by undertaking a ruthless exploration of the nature of language and its relation to the world. In this enterprise, Derrida offers a critique of the so-called "realist" understanding of language — the view that our statements are representations of the world as it actually is apart" from human activity. Derrida denies that language has a fixed meaning connected to a fixed ality or that it unveils definitive truth. He wants to divest us of thi modern concept and open us up to the "hermeneutical" possibilities of the written word, the possibilities that arise as we engage in an ongoing conversation with texts.7"
142: [Important to appreciate Husserl's position: "Husserl renews the perennial modern attempt to provide an indisputable foundation for reason and language. Reminiscent of Descartes, he sets out to discover the primordial structures of thought and perception. He is convinced that this is facilitated by elevating knowledge that arises from authentic "self-presence" above knowledge based on memory, anticipation, or traces of an absent experience. This differentiation, in turn, requires a demarcation between the "now," where the subject is located, and the receding horizons of past and future. "
144: "Derrida concludes that in the end language is merely "selfreferential. ... But how do we account for our experience of existing as a self in the "now"? Derrida suggests that the experience of a singular, objective present" is an illusion. What we experience in the present is actually the result of a complex web of meanings that is constantly changing. Through language and concepts, we impose the sense of objective meaning on the flux of experience."
148: "Derrida's primary goal is to divest us of logocentrism by showing the impossibility of dravmig a clear line between reality and our linguistic representations. His chief focus, of course, is written language texts. He wants to wean us from too quickly assuming that we can discover the meaning inherent in a text, and he does this by demonstrating the difficulties of any theory that defines meaning in a univocal way, whether by appeal to what the author intends, what literary conventions determine, or even what a reader experiences. 102 Afi 102 After aU our theorizing, there still remains "the free play of meaning," which is the result of what Derrida calls "the play of the world." The text always provides further connections, correlations, and contexts and hence always has the potential to yield further meanings. "


151: "The<Pragmatist Outlook At the heart of the pragmatist tradition pragmatism is the abandonment nf-x iA^^ 4-u^+ v,ac reianed in philosophy pragmatism is the abandonment of a idea that has reigned in philosophy since the Enlightenment — namely, that the mind is the "mirror of nature."
152: "The pragmatist view of truth is nonrealist rather than realist. ist. The alist works from the assumption that we have direct access to the world independent of language and that our language follows from our observations of this objective, given worid.... The nonrealist, in contrast, begins with the assumption that our iccess to the world is mediated by language. "
153 "Because it is nonrealist, nonessentialist, and nonrepresentationalist, the pragmatist view of truth elevates coherence rather than correspondence. The modem epistemological project is grounded m the correspondence theory of truth. Rorty characterizes the goal of this theory as penetrating the veil of appearances in order to glimpse things as they are in themselves. Measured by the correspondence criterion, statements always have a clear truth value: they are either true or false. And we can discover the veracity of an assertion by checking whether or not it corresponds to the reality it purports to describe. ... Rorty credits Dewey for pointing us in a morrhelpful direction. In place of the assumption that beliefs represent reality, Dewey substitutes the idea that beliefs are tools for dealing with reality; they are maxims that dictate the behavior of the one that holds them."

156 "First, Rorty joins the postmodern assault on the modern concept of the self. He rejects Descartes's view of the self as an autonomous thinking substance, characterizing it instead as a centerless and everchanging web of beliefs and desires that produces action. 134
157: "But rather than bemoaning the loss of a transcendental vantage point, Rorty welcomes the new situation. It is beneficial, he says, because it builds our sense of community."

Alfino 17:04, 29 September 2009 (UTC)


Range of positions on faith and reason

1. Faith is no less rational and susceptible to demonstration than science.

2. Faith and Science have distinct forms of rationality, language games, validity criteria, etc. (persons/bodies)

3. Faith involves commitments of individuals to communities on the basis of shared experience and belief. Faith doesn't just involve a distinct kind of rationality, but it focuses on distinct objects of knowledge, such as our relationship to totality. Scientific investigation asks fundamentally different questions in fundamentally different ways.

4. Faith is experiential; reason is theoretical. Reason comes late to faith. (evidence from sociology of religion on conversion, history of christianity).

Quotes from Fides et Ratio

"Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth"
establishes the authority of reason through philosophy but indicates that a reason for talking about faith and reason is that modernity has abandoned the search for transcent truth, focusing instead on human subjectivity.
"For the inspired writer, as we see, the desire for knowledge is characteristic of all people. Intelligence enables everyone, believer and non-believer, to reach "the deep waters" of knowledge (cf. Prov 20:5). It is true that ancient Israel did not come to knowledge of the worid and its phenomena by way of abstraction, as did the Greek philosopher or the Egyptian sage. Still less did the good Israelite understand knowledge in the way of the modem world which tends more to distinguish different kinds of knowing. Nonetheless, the biblical world has made its own distinctive contribution to the theory of knowledge. "
pars 37-39 -- good discussion of Catholic adoption of philosophy and wariness about it.
43: "More radically, Thomas recognized that nature, philosophy's proper concern, could contribute to the understanding of divine Revelation. Faith therefore has no fear of reason, but seeks it out and has trust in it."
46: "5t. It is not too much to claim that the development of a good part of modem philosophy has seen it move further and further away from Christian Revelation, to the point of setting itself quite explicitly in opposition. This process reached its apogee in the last century."
48: "48. This rapid survey of the history of philosophy, then, reveals a growing separation between faith and philosophical reason.
Calls for a recovery of the unity of faith and reason. Claims Modern Philosophy has made "wrong turns".
54 "Later, in his Encyclical Letter Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII warned against mistaken interpretations linked to evolutionism, existentialism and historicism. He made it clear that these theories had not been proposed and developed by theologians, but had their origins outside the sheepfold of Christ".^ He added, however, that errors of this kind should not simply be rejected but should be examined critically: "Catholic theologians and philosophers, whose grave duty it is to defend natural and supernatural tmth and instill it in human hearts. cannot afford to ignore these more or less erroneous opinions. Rather they must come to understand these theories well, not only because diseases are properly treated only if rightly diagnosed and because even in these false theories some tmth is found at times, but because in the end these theories provoke a more discriminating discussion and evaluation of philosophical and theological tmths".^ "
74ff "75. As appears from this brief sketch of the history of the relationship between faith and philosophy, one can distinguish different stances of philosophy with regard to Christian faith. first, there is a philosophy completely independent of the Gospel's Revelation: t\ ...76. A second stance adopted by philosophy is often designated as Christian philosophy. The term seeks rather to indicate a Christian way of philosophizing, a philosophical speculation conceived in dynamic union with faith."
82: "A radically phenomenalist or relativist philosophy would be ill-adapted to help in the deeper exploration of the riches found in the word of God."
seems to expect philosophy to be metaphysical. "If I insist so strongly on the metaphysical element, it is because I am convinced that it is the path to be taken in order to move beyond the crisis pervading large sectors of philosophy at the moment, and thus to correct certain mistaken modes of behaviour now widespread in our society. " [Arguably, using this commitment to a prior conclusion about philosophy could involve some circularity in the argument.]
dangers: eclecticism (87), scientism (88) -- not a great characterization, pragmatism (89), postmodernism (91)

Michael Tkacz on Gould and the Catholic Tradition

Gold's NOMA hypothesis [1] recognizes that moral and religious values might be established by different kinds of authority and argument than strictly scientific questions.
Tkacz tries to equate Gould with Fideism. In one sense this is a reasonable comparison. If rationality is one thing and fideist believe in a sharp separation of faith and reason, then it makes sense that fideists would regard faith as non-rational (or irrational). But that is not Gould's position. I think he would deny that NOMA implies the nonrationality or subjectivity of non-scientific questions. In any case, one could argue that faith and reason operate differently within a normal rational individual without committing yourself to the existence of the object of faith beliefs. That's a variant of NOMA, but it should show you some of the theoretical room you have here.
Thesis: "At the same time, the order of learning shows that theology is as much a science as are the sciences of physical being; that is, the religious beliefs which theology investigates and articulates as knowledge are no less rational and objective than are the beliefs about the physical world investigated and established in the natural sciences. This is because the same intellectual capacity which allows for human knowledge of the objects of the natural sciences is also that by which human beings know the object of theology."

Barrett, Cognitive Science of Religion

1:"Rather than specify what religion is and try to explain it in whole, scholars in this field have generally chosen to approach 'religion' in an incremental, piecemeal fashion, identifying human thought or behavioral patterns that might count as 'religious' and then trying to explain why those patterns are cross-culturally recurrent."
2:CSR "seeks to detail the basic cognitive structure of thought and action that might be deemed religious and invites historians, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists and other religion scholars to fiU in the hows and whys of particular religious phenomena."
":...through the course of development in any cultural context, human mind/brains exhibit a number of functional regularities regarding how they process information. These functional regularities are also known as domain-specific inference systems or 'mental tools'.^ Foi For instance, one mental tool concerns language. Humans (especially pre-pubescent humans) readily acquire and use natural languages but are not facile with non-natural symbolic communication systems such as binary code."
TC - Theological Correctness -- studies involving online/offline tasks
MCI - Minimally Counterintuitive Ideas -- 4 " Compare the idea of a barking dog that is brown on the other side of the fence to a barking dog that is able to pass through solid objects on the other side of the fence. The first dog is wholly intuitive and excites litde interest. The second dog is slightly or minimally counterintuitive and is, consequently, more attention demanding but without overloading on-line conceptual systems. The idea of a dog that passes through soUd objects is made of metal parts, gives birth to chickens, experiences time backwards, can read minds, and vanishes whenever you look at it would amount to a massively counterintuitive concept - if it is a coherent concept at all."
-transmission advantages for MCI's?
Older research -- Guthrie "Faces in the Clouds" - evolution would favor false positives in "agency detection". This may explain hyperactive agency detection. HADD
6: "Additional motivation to talk about and believe in gods may come firom their ability to account for striking events that otherwise have no intuitive explanation."
Born Believers:
promiscuous believers -- studies on children.
Theory of Mind
Whitehouse's "modes of religiosity" theory
Costly Signal Theory --
Alfino 23:53, 6 October 2009 (UTC)


Here are some reading notes on Thompson. In places you will find they need to be filled in a bit. Please add to these notes on the basis of your reading.




Basic questions in game theory

Let's fill in these study questions on game theory for our class on Tuesday.

1. Why is Hobbes credited with anticipating the kind of thinking in game theory?

Hobbes is credited as being an early user of the kind of thinking involved in game theory because of the reasoning that he uses to come to conclusion that tyranny, the Leviathan, is the best form of government. He points out that humanity's life in the state of nature is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short;" that is, that every person's best interest is in cheating and killing others to get what she wants and so is in danger of all other people doing that to her. This means that once the individual in the state of nature realizes that it is in her best interest as well as everyone else's best interest to act in this manner, then she will not trust anyone (live alone) and so will not cooperate with others (and so be able to gain wealth), must in fact preemptively and decisively attack all others for defense (nasty and brutish), and will most likely quickly succumb to this type of interpersonal violence (short life). Because people will act this way, according to Hobbes, having a tyrant to ruthlessly enforce agreements, to allow trust between people (resulting in wealth and safety), is most favorable form of government. This reasoning, of predicting what people will do based on what the individual thinks is best for her, is what game theory is all about, making Hobbes' reasoning a sort of proto-game theory (since "game theory" was invented by Neumann and Morgenstern in 1944). --DTuckerman 04:55, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Hobbes' work in "Leviathan" anticipates some of the aspects of Game Theory: namely, logic in which the aspect of the environment that is most important in regards to the agents' desired outcomes is the set of expectations and possible reactions to their strategies by other agents. For example, In the state of nature-where agents are free to do what they please-if one wishes to bring out a desired outcome by cooperation with another because it is impossible to do it alone; a reaction to this strategy by an amoral person would be to reap all the benefits from cooperation without returning them. In the state of nature where one is free to do as one pleases this is not an irrational expectation. This puts agents in a state of constant fear and renders the benefits of cooperation unrealized. For Hobbes, tyranny is the only form of government that would work in the state of nature, The strategic interaction leaves the agents with anarchy or tyranny. The rational agents will choose tyranny as the best between two evils.
Hobbes articulated the political theory of the social contract. In this theory the goal is to achieve maximum freedom for the individual. Obviously the unlimited freedom, found in anarchy, is presumably less desirable than giving up some individual freedoms. If each person (in complete lack of any sort of law) enters into an agreement with another individual and one upholds the deal (while the conniving individual does not) there is a certain line of reasoning that occurs between those involved in the contract. The line of “reasoning” may occur as follows: if he does not follow through with his end of the deal, I will kill him…and presumably the dishonest person will anticipate this and decide to kill the “sucker” after his end of the agreement is complete, and so the head games go…this is an anticipation of Game Theory. (Taylor Wilkinson)

2. What is the distinction between parametric and non-parametric considerations?

Parametric considerations have to do with passivity while non-parametric considerations have to do with anticipation. The example given in the article is kicking a rock down a hill. Your concerns deal with the force of the blow to your foot or the steepness or lack there of of the slope. Non-parametric would be attempting to kick a person down a hill. In this case you will have to anticipate how you will go about achieving your goal. You might have to disguise yourself or trick the person into going to the edge of the slope. Non-parametric considerations are much more complex than parametric ones.
It seems that Parametric considerations (since they are passive) deal with unbendable laws. In other words, there is a 100% chance that a certain outcome will occur since the reaction occurs by natural law, and not a rational being capable of counteracting (through reasoning) the initial cause of the event. Is this fair to say? That parametric considerations could only possibly be applied to natural (non-human or non-animal) events? (Taylor Wilkinson)
I'm a little unsure about calling parametric generally "passive." I thought it had more to do with whether my perception of utility was influence by agents that might anticipate my behavior. But maybe that's too specific? Alfino 00:35, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

3. What is utility in game theory? Why do ordinal rankings matter more than absolute preferences?

Utility is basically the satisfaction that comes from a desired/preferred object. In order to assess the utility of multi-variable situations, utility may be described ordinally, that is, through a ranking system. Ordinal utility takes only into account the utility of objects in a situation, without regard to preferences. Even if someone has a strong preference to do x it might be in the best interest for that person and whatever group they are in to do y based upon the ordinal ranking of utility.--Cpickett 04:37, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Utility “refers to the amount of ‘welfare’ an agent derives from an object or an event. By ‘welfare’ we refer to some normative index of relative well-being, justified by reference to some background framework” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

4. What is the Prisoner's Dilemma? What does it show?

The Prisoner's Dilemma: "Suppose that the police have arrested two people whom they know have committed an armed robbery together. Unfortunately, they lack enough admissible evidence to get a jury to convict. They do, however, have enough evidence to send each prisoner away for two years for theft of the getaway car. The chief inspector now makes the following offer to each prisoner: If you will confess to the robbery, implicating your partner, and she does not also confess, then you'll go free and she'll get ten years. If you both confess, you'll each get 5 years. If neither of you confess, then you'll each get two years for the auto theft" (Stanford Encyclopedia).
It seems to show how two people would act simultaniously in a place where there can be no communication between them. Each person would naturally choose that option which results in less time being spent in jail, while anticipating the other's actions. In the Prisoner's Dilemma though, it seems that both criminals are acting only with themselves in mind. That is looking for that option which will lead them to going free. But because each of them confess, they recieve 5 years in prison. It becomes obvious that they should have stayed silent. Also, it shows that human nature tends to turn to the survival of the person; almost like being back in the State of Nature. While this isn't a typical game, it shows how two players in a game of survival would act. Each trying to sabotage the other, while trying to get off the hook completely. In the Prisoner's Dilemma though, this seems to have backfired as they each recieve a longer prison sentence. --Mbalcheva 22:53, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

5. What is a Nash equilibrium?

A Nash equilibrium is essentially where players' dominant strategies overlap. A dominant strategy is the best strategy for a player to follow regardless of the strategy chosen by the opponent. "Wherever one action for a player is superior to her other actions for each possible action by the opponent, we say that the first action strictly dominates the second one" Stanford Encyclopedia). In the instance of the Prisoners Dilemma, the Nash Eq. is where both parties defect and confess. (Sean)

6. What are some characteristics and strategies of repeated games?

7. How is game theory applied to evolutionary contexts?

In game theory, as it was originally conceived, rationale agents were responsible for choosing moves based on particular strategies. Within the evolutionary context, the agents are considered as having an inherent, hard-wired strategy. Essentially it is the strategy the agents embody that is being test and success is determined by fitness - the relative amount of agents left by a certain strategy in the next generation perpetuating the manifestation of the strategy in question. This variation of game theory has been used to explain the development of contemporary conceptions of notions such as justice and ethics by examining the fitness of various strategies (i.e. conceptions of the notions in question) over the course of multiple generations.


Basics of Phenomenological Method

1. Background to the epistemological enterprise

Descartes (1596-1650) Discourse on Mehtod 1637
Hume, (1711-1776) Enquiry into Human Understanding (1748), Scottish Enlightenment
Kant, (1724-1804) Critique of Pure Reason (1787)
Intentionality - from Brentano -
"Every mental phenomenon is characterized by what the Scholastics of the Middle Ages called the intentional (or mental) inexistence of an object, and what we might call, though not wholly unambiguously, reference to a content, direction towards an object (which is not to be understood here as meaning a thing), or immanent objectivity. Every mental phenomenon includes something as object within itself, although they do not all do so in the same way. In presentation something is presented, in judgement something is affirmed or denied, in love loved, in hate hated, in desire desired and so on. This intentional in-existence is characteristic exclusively of mental phenomena. No physical phenomenon exhibits anything like it. We could, therefore, define mental phenomena by saying that they are those phenomena which contain an object intentionally within themselves.

-- Franz Brentano, Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint, edited by Linda L. McAlister (London: Routledge, 1995), p. 88-89." cited on Brentano wiki page

Legacy of Modern Philosophy -- Two strategies for science. Induction and new efforts at foundations.

2. Husserl's philosophical rational psychology

The problem of the natural attitude
Noesis and Noema, the structure of the intentional act, intentionality, and the intentional object.
Finding ideality within the act of consciousness. (example of color from Ch. 1, p. 16) Are these the metaphysical structures that science depends upon?
Husserl's realism.
Phenomenology Describes . . .

3. Reading Notes from Husserl's Basic Problems of Phenomenology, Chapters 1 and 2

lectures given in 1910-1911
Chapter 1
Introduction of concepts like spatialization and location of the "I":
Begins by contrasting phenomenology to the natural attitude. Phenomenology "is found in a new dimension and demands an essentially different attitude from that of psychology as well as of any science of spatial—temporal existence." 2
How the I experiences itself in the natural attitude: "The I itself is not an experience, but the one experiencing, not an act but that which performs the act, not a character-trait 5 but the one having the character-trait as a property, etc. Further, the I finds itself and its I-experiences and dispositions in time. And thereby it knows itself, not only as a being at the present time which has this and that, but also as having memories, and it finds itself in remembering as the same one which "just before" and at an earlier time had such and such determinate experiences." 2
Localization of the I not spatial: "In addition, everyone relates his I-experiences and, in general, his specific I-possessions to the lived body. Thus, he localizes them in the body, sometimes on the basis of direct "experience," in an immediate intuition, sometimes in the mode of an indirect experiential or analogizing knowing. This localization is completely generis; it is completely different from that kind of localization that intuitively given parts and moments of a thing have with respect to that thing, whether it be a case of sense-intuitive or theoretical - physical determinations. Joy and sorrow are not in the heart as blood is in the heart. Sensations of touch are not in the skin as pieces of organic tissue are. Thus it is according to the original meaning-giving presentation of localization of the psychical, that is, according to what 0 direct or indirect experience teaches about these matters. "5
The Problem with the Natural Attitude
Everything we experience in the natural attitude is experienced as "posted," as having Being. "is. Everyone knows that "experience can deceive." Everyone knows, indeed, everyone has the right, upon pursuing the evidence, to assert what is experienced. Nevertheless, everyone knows that what is experienced "may not really be the case." 11
Psychology can only disclose the I as an object with pscychological states that appear as data.
Experience discloses the "natural concept of the world" "Is. Experience knows only one world, insofar as souls are souls of lived bodies, and insofar as the world is the world of experience, which, as such, refers back to I's, which in turn, like all Other I's, experientially fit into the world. "
So what else is there? Husserl's opening in section 9 is helpful:
"What kind of new attitude is now possible with regard to the just described natural apprehension of the world where nature or world becomes a visible and knowable field? Does not nature encompass all real being (wirkliche Sein). Certainly that is true, if we understand by "real" that which exists in space and time. It is not true, however, if we consider that correct judging and insightful knowing aim at objects which have no such existence. Thus, pure geometry speaks of geometric figures; pure arithmetic speaks of numbers, etc. The figures of pure geometry, as possible formations of pure space, the numbers of arithmetic, as the pure numbers of numerical series, are not things and are not in any sense facts of nature. " 16
Example with color and tone: p. 16 grasping the experience vs. the ideality of the experience.
"The natural sciences, in the usual empirical sense, are related to nature as Fact; the pure natural sciences are related to nature as Idea. This yields the sciences of the ideas, which are constitutive of the idea of nature: geometry, pure theory of time, pure theory of motions and possible deformations of what is of the nature of things as such — this latter would correspond to Kant's idea of pure natural science. Let us classify these disciplines that correspond to the idea of nature under the title of ontology of nature."
Chapter 2
Our experiences are always referred to a lived body. "But the lived body as a thing is primarily integrated in objective time and in objective space as well."
So, we need to try to separate the empirical connection between "res extensa" and "res cogitans" 33
"Again, in the essence of sensation of color and sound, in the essence of lived experiences of perceiving, judging, desiring, questioning, etc., there is no essential relation to a thing, as if, as if being joined to a thing was essentially necessary for the being of such cogitationes." 34 So we can separate the two.
Empirical Being or Perception vs. Phenomenological Being or Perception (also "phenomenological intuition or perception ofthe pure lived expeirence")
"In this manner, we now can proceed with regard to all experiences. We can assume for ourselves a new kind of attitude that disengages every empirical transcendent attitude. Thus, from now on we accept no object which is posited in the empirical attitude as reality; we do not allow ourselves to be presented with any object given in the empirical attitude. We no longer "realize" any empirical attitude; we realize no natural, naive positing of things, of nature in the widest sense. We put in brackets, as it were, every empirical act, which may rush forward, so to speak, or which we enacted a short while ago. In no way do we accept what any empirical act presents to us as being. Instead of living in its achievement, and instead of clinging naively to its positing with its sense after its achievement, we rather turn to the act itself and make it itself, plus what in it may present itself to us, an object. This object is not at all natural, and it no longer contains any positing of nature. In this way, we appropriate all experiences. " .... "The attitude we have described here is called, in opposition to the natural attitude, thephenomenological attitude. "39-40
phenomenological reduction
Descartes engaged in phenomenological reduction - -

4. Practical Questions for Introductory Exploration of Phenomenology

1. Does phenomenology disclose a distinctive aspect of our experience of the world?
2. Could the methods of phenomenology "discover" or disclose basic structures and aspects of the "ideality" of knowledge that a psychology or conventionalist view of mathematics cannot account for?
3. Could a phenomenology of knowledge ground science and fulfill an aspiration of philosophy for certainty?


Jonathan Haidt, Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives

-responses to the David -interest vs. embarassment.

-critical of "blank slate" views. First draft of the moral mind is inate, includes readiness to engage:

1. Harm / Care 2. Fairness / Reciprocity 3. Ingroup / Loyalty 4. Authority / Respect 5. Purity / Sanctity

-these are also sources of intuitions and emotions


-Chart at 8:40 -- conservatives diverse from liberals on their higher ranking of 3-5.

-Studies showing relationship between cooperation and punishment.

-Religion could function to promote cooperation.

-Cites Eastern ideas suggesting importance of unification of opposites, yet concludes that our minds are designed to:

  1. Unite us into teams.
  2. Divide us against other teams.
  3. Blind us to the truth.

-yet optimistic conclusion.

David Papineau, Physicalism


-seems odd that thoughts are physical, but if not how can they interact with the world?


everything is physical, applied to mind as well

-How can things not physical have effects? Not incoherent for non-physical to have effect, but last 200 years of science suggests this principle.

-Isn't this an assumption of science? No, science used to allow, forces of contact, gravitation, vital forces, mental forces. Some of these look non-physical to us.

-conservation of energy and study of bodies made the difference.

-Possible that something non-physical is there, just lots of evidence against.

-epiphenomenolism - mind not physical, just there for the ride.

What about qualia? They don't seem reducible. Mary's Room thought experiment. Jackson: Mary gains new knowledge with first experience of color. Additional fact must be non-physical. Physicalism is false.

Response: Mary had a new experience. New brain process. No problem there, but problem if she knows something new. Papineau's approach: Mary is changed, but her new knowledge is something she new under scientific description. She acquires a new concept of seeing something red.

-Importance of openness in Newtonian thought to non-physical forces. At that time, most scientists were dualists. Late 19th evidence tips. Dualist "on the back foot"

Papineau's voice?

Penelope Maddy, Second Philosophy

Maddy uses the backdrop of Descartes' quest for epistemic certainty to introduce the philosophical temperament of a "naturalized" philosopher, a "Second Philosopher" who has given up the project of "First Philosophy" (which includes the goal of establishing a foundation for knowledge). The second philosopher,

"Our inquirer will agree that many of her childhood beliefs were false, and that the judgements of common sense often need tempering or adjustment in light of further investigation, but she will hardly see these as reasons to suspend her use of the very methods that allowed her to uncover those errors and make the required corrections! It's hard to sec why the meditator feels differently. "

Stroud's Descartes is a version of Descartes that grounds a more serious kind of scepticism. "jt the trouble, says Stroud's Descartes, is that I might be dreaming diat I distinctly see where the paper in my hand came from, I might be dreaming that my current perception of my hand is connected with the rest of my life without a break, and so on. If I think there is some test I can apply to determine whether or not my current experience is or isn't a dream, 1 might be dreaming that the test is satisfied—I might even be dreaming that this test is effective!" 82

The second philosopher replies that we do have practical methods for determining whether we are dreaming or not, even though there may be no way to rule out the deeper possibility that we are being deceived when we use these methods.

Stroud grants a distinction between pragmatic and theoretical criteria of certainty. "In ordinary life, then, under good perceptual conditions, it's reasonable for me to risk asserting that there is a hand before me, and so, to claim to know that there is a hand before me. But the knowledge claim is just a loose way of speaking, for practical purposes. In a theoretical context -- one without practical time pressures, with no limit on the amount of 'effort and ingenuity* (op. cit., p. 66) we can bring to bear on the question of the truth of our claims — in such a context, free of practical restrictions, we have no excuse for speaking loosely and we shouldn't claim to know until we have ruled out every possibility that would preclude our knowing—in particular, we must rule out the possibility that we are dreaming. So Stroud's Descartes hasn't changed the subject; he's simply working with the usual notion of knowledge in an unrestricted or theoretical context." 85

The second philosopher is ok with a sliding scale of stringency of criteria (for knowledge) but can't make sense of the extreme end of the scale since there's no way to satisfy those criteria and maybe it doesn't matter.

"In other words, I'm to set aside all my hard-won methods, all my carefully checked and double-chedced beliefs, and then explain... Well, the Second Philosopher will hardly care what she's now asked to explain; the demand that she explain anything without using any of her best methods seems barmy. " 88

93-100 -- Van Fraassen and the argument about the existence of atoms

Maddy uses Van Fraassen's skepticism about our ability to know the existence of atoms (as "unobservables") again to bring into relief the attitude of the second philosopher. Like Stroud's Descartes, Van Fraassen sets unattainable conditions for concluding that unobservables exist.