•  5675
    There are three slogans in the history of Socialism that are very close in wording, viz. the famous Cabet-Blanc-Marx slogan: "From each according to his ability; To each according to his needs"; the earlier Saint-Simon-Pecqueur slogan: "To each according to his ability; To each according to his works"; and the later slogan in Stalin’s Soviet Constitution: "From each according to his ability; To each according to his work." We will consider the following questions regarding these slogans: a) What…Read more
  •  4455
    The Ethics of Nudge
    In Mats J. Hansson & Till Grüne-Yanoff (eds.), Preference Change: Approaches from Philosophy, Economics and Psychology., Springer, Theory and Decision Library a. pp. 207-20. 2008.
    In their recently published book Nudge (2008) Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein (T&S) defend a position labelled as ‘libertarian paternalism’. Their thinking appeals to both the right and the left of the political spectrum, as evidenced by the bedfellows they keep on either side of the Atlantic. In the US, they have advised Barack Obama, while, in the UK, they were welcomed with open arms by the David Cameron's camp (Chakrabortty 2008). I will consider the following questions. What is Nudge…Read more
  •  768
    Nancy Cartwright is one of the most distinguished and influential contemporary philosophers of science. Despite the profound impact of her work, there is neither a systematic exposition of Cartwright’s philosophy of science nor a collection of articles that contains in-depth discussions of the major themes of her philosophy. This book is devoted to a critical assessment of Cartwright’s philosophy of science and contains contributions from Cartwright's champions and critics. Broken into three par…Read more
  •  617
    Bayesian Coherence Theory of Justification or, for short, Bayesian Coherentism, is characterized by two theses, viz. (i) that our degree of confidence in the content of a set of propositions is positively affected by the coherence of the set, and (ii) that coherence can be characterized in probabilistic terms. There has been a longstanding question of how to construct a measure of coherence. We will show that Bayesian Coherentism cannot rest on a single measure of coherence, but requires a vecto…Read more
  •  599
    In “Judy Benjamin is a Sleeping Beauty” (2010) Bovens recognises a certain similarity between the Sleeping Beauty (SB) and the Judy Benjamin (JB). But he does not recognise the dissimilarity between underlying protocols (as spelled out in Shafer (1985). Protocols are expressed in conditional probability tables that spell out the probability of coming to learn various propositions conditional on the actual state of the world. The principle of total evidence requires that we not update on the cont…Read more
  •  563
    Child euthanasia: should we just not talk about it?
    Journal of Medical Ethics 41 (8): 630-634. 2015.
    Belgium has recently extended its euthanasia legislation to minors, making it the first legislation in the world that does not specify any age limit. I consider two strands in the opposition to this legislation. First, I identify five arguments in the public debate to the effect that euthanasia for minors is somehow worse than euthanasia for adults—viz. arguments from weightiness, capability of discernment, pressure, sensitivity and sufficient palliative care—and show that these arguments are wa…Read more
  •  518
    The value of hope
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (3): 667-681. 1999.
    Hope obeys Aristotle's doctrine of the mean: one should neither hope too much, nor too little. But what determines what constitutes too much and what constitutes too little for a particular person at a particular time? The sceptic presents an argument to the effect that it is never rational to hope. An attempt to answer the sceptic leads us in different directions. Decision-theoretic and preference-theoretic arguments support the instrumental value of hope. An investigation into the nature of ho…Read more
  •  437
    Solving the Riddle of Coherence
    Mind 112 (448): 601-634. 2003.
    A coherent story is a story that fits together well. This notion plays a central role in the coherence theory of justification and has been proposed as a criterion for scientific theory choice. Many attempts have been made to give a probabilistic account of this notion. A proper account of coherence must not start from some partial intuitions, but should pay attention to the role that this notion is supposed to play within a particular context. Coherence is a property of an information set that …Read more
  •  426
    A Lockean Defense of Grandfathering Emission Rights
    In Denis G. Arnold (ed.), The Ethics of Global Climate Change, Cambridge University Press. pp. 124-144. 2011.
    I investigate whether any plausible moral arguments can be made for ‘grandfathering’ emission rights (that is, for setting emission targets for developed countries in line with their present or past emission levels) on the basis of a Lockean theory of property rights.
  •  419
    Evaluating risky prospects: the distribution view
    Analysis 75 (2): 243-253. 2015.
    Risky prospects represent policies that impose different types of risks on multiple people. I present an example from food safety. A utilitarian following Harsanyi's Aggregation Theorem ranks such prospects according to their mean expected utility or the expectation of the social utility. Such a ranking is not sensitive to any of four types of distributional concerns. I develop a model that lets the policy analyst rank prospects relative to the distributional concerns that she considers fitting …Read more
  •  361
    Bayesian Networks and the Problem of Unreliable Instruments
    Philosophy of Science 69 (1): 29-72. 2002.
    We appeal to the theory of Bayesian Networks to model different strategies for obtaining confirmation for a hypothesis from experimental test results provided by less than fully reliable instruments. In particular, we consider (i) repeated measurements of a single test consequence of the hypothesis, (ii) measurements of multiple test consequences of the hypothesis, (iii) theoretical support for the reliability of the instrument, and (iv) calibration procedures. We evaluate these strategies on th…Read more
  •  285
    Bayesian Epistemology
    with Stephan Hartmann
    Oxford University Press. 2003.
    Probabilistic models have much to offer to philosophy. We continually receive information from a variety of sources: from our senses, from witnesses, from scientific instruments. When considering whether we should believe this information, we assess whether the sources are independent, how reliable they are, and how plausible and coherent the information is. Bovens and Hartmann provide a systematic Bayesian account of these features of reasoning. Simple Bayesian Networks allow us to model alter…Read more
  •  267
    Choice often proceeds in two stages: We construct a shortlist on the basis of limited and uncertain information about the options and then reduce this uncertainty by examining the shortlist in greater detail. The goal is to do well when making a final choice from the option set. I argue that we cannot realise this goal by constructing a ranking over the options at shortlisting stage which determines of each option whether it is more or less worthy of being included in a shortlist. This is releva…Read more
  •  262
    The Ethics of Making Risky Decisions for Others
    In Mark D. White (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Ethics and Economics, Oxford University Press. pp. 446-473. 2019.
    Utilitarianism, it has been said, is not sensitive to the distribution of welfare. In making risky decisions for others there are multiple sensitivities at work. I present examples of risky decision-making involving drug allocations, charitable giving, breast-cancer screening and C-sections. In each of these examples there is a different sensitivity at work that pulls away from the utilitarian prescription. Instances of saving fewer people at a greater risk to many is more complex because there …Read more
  •  232
    The two faces of akratics Anonymous
    Analysis 59 (4). 1999.
    I argue that by constructing an identity of Bohemian whim and spontaneity one can make what was previously an akratic action into a fully rational action, since in performing the action, one asserts one identity.
  •  226
    Book Review of Luc Bovens and Stephan Hartmann *Bayesian Epistemology* by Branden Fitelson
  •  221
    Apologies
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 108 (1pt3): 219-239. 2008.
    There is a cognitive, an affective, a conative, and an attitudinal component to a genuine apology. In discussing these components, I address the following questions. Might apologies be due for non-culpable actions? Might apologies be due for choices in moral dilemmas? What is the link between sympathy, remorse and making amends? Is it meaningful for resilient akratics to apologize? How much moral renewal is required when one apologizes? Why should apologies be offered in a humble manner? And is …Read more
  •  211
    Democratic Answers to Complex Questions – An Epistemic Perspective
    with Wlodek Rabinowicz
    Synthese 150 (1): 131-153. 2006.
    This paper addresses a problem for theories of epistemic democracy. In a decision on a complex issue which can be decomposed into several parts, a collective can use different voting procedures: Either its members vote on each sub-question and the answers that gain majority support are used as premises for the conclusion on the main issue, or the vote is conducted on the main issue itself. The two procedures can lead to different results. We investigate which of these procedures is better as a t…Read more
  •  203
    The Tragedy of the Commons as a Voting Game
    In Martin Peterson (ed.), The Prisoner’s Dilemma. Classic philosophical arguments., Cambridge University Press. pp. 156-176. 2015.
    The Tragedy of the Commons is often associated with an n-person Prisoner’s Dilemma. But it can also have the structure of an n-person Game of Chicken, an Assurance Game, or of a Voting Games (or a Three-in-a-Boat Game). I present three historical stories that document tragedies of the commons, as presented in Aristotle, Mahanarayan and Hume and argue that the descriptions of these historical cases align better with Voting Games than with any other games.
  •  199
    Behavioural public policies and charitable giving
    Behavioural Public Policy 2 (2): 168-173. 2018.
    Some of the challenges in Sanders et al. (this issue) can be aptly illustrated by means of charity nudges, that is, nudges designed to increase charitable donations. These nudges raise many ethical questions. First, Oxfam’s triptychs with suggested donations are designed to increase giving. If successful, do our actions match ex ante or ex post preferences? Does this make a difference to the autonomy of the donor? Second, the Behavioural Insights Team conducted experiments using social networks …Read more
  •  186
    Concerns for the poorly off in ordering risky prospects
    Economics and Philosophy 31 (3): 397-429. 2015.
    The Distribution View provides a model that integrates four distributional concerns in the evaluation of risky prospects. Starting from these concerns, we can generate an ordering over a set of risky prospects, or, starting from an ordering, we can extract a characterization of the underlying distributional concerns. Separability of States and/or Persons for multiple-person risky prospects, for single-person risky prospects and for multiple-person certain prospects are discussed within the model…Read more
  •  180
    There are two curious features about the backward induction argument (BIA) to the effect that repeated non-cooperation is the rational solution to the finite iterated prisoner’s dilemma (FIPD). First, however compelling the argument may seem, one remains hesitant either to recommend this solu- tion to players who are about to engage in cooperation or to explain cooperation as a deviation from rational play in real-life FIPD’s. Second, there seems to be a similarity between t…Read more
  •  180
    John Locke proposed a straightforward relationship between qualitative and quantitative doxastic notions: belief corresponds to a sufficiently high degree of confidence. Richard Foley has further developed this Lockean thesis and applied it to an analysis of the preface and lottery paradoxes. Following Foley's lead, we exploit various versions of these paradoxes to chart a precise relationship between belief and probabilistic degrees of confidence. The resolutions of these paradoxes emphasize di…Read more
  •  179
    An Impossibility Result for Coherence Rankings
    Philosophical Studies 128 (1): 77-91. 2006.
    If we receive information from multiple independent and partially reliable information sources, then whether we are justified to believe these information items is affected by how reliable the sources are, by how well the information coheres with our background beliefs and by how internally coherent the information is. We consider the following question. Is coherence a separable determinant of our degree of belief, i.e. is it the case that the more coherent the new information is, the more justi…Read more
  •  173
    Too Odd (Not) to Be True? A Reply to Olsson
    with Branden Fitelson, Stephan Hartmann, and Josh Snyder
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (4): 539-563. 2002.
    Corroborating Testimony, Probability and Surprise’, Erik J. Olsson ascribes to L. Jonathan Cohen the claims that if two witnesses provide us with the same information, then the less probable the information is, the more confident we may be that the information is true (C), and the stronger the information is corroborated (C*). We question whether Cohen intends anything like claims (C) and (C*). Furthermore, he discusses the concurrence of witness reports within a context of independent witnesses…Read more
  •  155
    Judy Benjamin is a Sleeping Beauty
    Analysis 70 (1): 23-26. 2010.
    I argue that van Fraassen's Judy Benjamin Problem and Elga's Sleeping Beauty Problem have the same structure.
  •  151
    The Puzzle of the Hats is a puzzle in social epistemology. It describes a situation in which a group of rational agents with common priors and common goals seems vulnerable to a Dutch book if they are exposed to different information and make decisions independently. Situations in which this happens involve violations of what might be called the Group-Reflection Principle. As it turns out, the Dutch book is flawed. It is based on the betting interpretation of the subjective probabilities, but ig…Read more
  •  149
    Many religions offer hope for a life that transcends death and believers find great comfort in this. Non-believers typically do not have such hopes. In the face of death, they may find consolation in feeling contented with the life they have lived. But do they have hopes? I will identify a range of distinctly secular hopes at the end of life. Nothing stops religious people from sharing these secular hopes, in addition to their hope for eternal life. I will distinguish between hopes about one’s l…Read more
  •  148
    I argue in this paper that there are two considerations which govern the dynamics of a two-person bargaining game, viz. relative proportionate utility loss from conceding to one's opponent's proposal and relative non-proportionate utility loss from not conceding to one's opponent's proposal, if she were not to concede as well. The first consideration can adequately be captured by the information contained in vNM utilities. The second requires measures of utility which allow for an interpersonal …Read more