•  450
    Two Conceptions of Fundamentality
    Philosophy of the Social Sciences 41 (2): 151-177. 2011.
    This article aims to show that fundamentality is construed differently in the two most prominent strategies of analysis we find in physical science and engineering today: (1) atomistic, reductive analysis and (2) Systems analysis. Correspondingly, atomism is the conception according to which the simplest (smallest) indivisible entity of a certain kind is most fundamental; while systemism , as will be articulated here, is the conception according to which the bonds that structure wholes are most …Read more
  •  109
    Against conditionalization
    with F. Bacchus and H. E. Kyburg
    Synthese 85 (3). 1990.
  •  97
    Capitalization in the St. Petersburg game Why statistical distributions matter
    with Oliver Richardson
    Politics, Philosophy and Economics 13 (3): 292-313. 2014.
    In spite of its infinite expectation value, the St. Petersburg game is not only a gamble without supply in the real world, but also one without demand at apparently very reasonable asking prices. We offer a rationalizing explanation of why the St. Petersburg bargain is unattractive on both sides (to both house and player) in the mid-range of prices (finite but upwards of about $4). Our analysis – featuring (1) the already-established fact that the average of finite ensembles of the St. Petersbur…Read more
  •  90
    The Reduction of Causal Processes
    Synthese 131 (1): 99-128. 2002.
    The principle that causes always render their effects more likely is fundamental to the enterprise of reducing facts of causation to facts about (objective) chances. This reductionist enterprise faces famous difficulties in accommodating common-sense intuitions about causal processes, if it insists on cashing out causal processes in terms of streams of events in which every event that belongs to the stream is a cause of the adjoining event downstream of it. I shall propose modifications to this …Read more
  •  80
    From Paradox to Judgment: towards a metaphysics of expression
    Australasian Journal of Logic 3 76-107. 2005.
    The Liar sentence is a singularly important piece of philosophical evidence. It is an instrument for investigating the metaphysics of expressing truths and falsehoods. And an instrument too for investigating the varieties of conflict that can give rise to paradox. It shall serve as perhaps the most important clue to the shape of human judgment, as well as to the nature of the dependence of judgment upon language use
  •  74
    Systems
    The Monist 92 (3): 452-478. 2009.
    Dynamical-systems analysis is nowadays ubiquitous. From engineering (its point of origin and natural home) to physiology, and from psychology to ecology, it enjoys surprisingly wide application. Sometimes the analysis rings decisively false—as, for example, when adopted in certain treatments of historical narrative;1 other times it is provocativeandcontroversial,aswhenappliedtothephenomenaofmind and cognition.2 Dynamical systems analysis (or “Systems” with a capital “S,” as I shall sometimes ref…Read more
  •  72
    I shall endeavor to show that every physical theory since Newton explainswithout drawing attention to causes–that, in other words, physical theories as physical theories aspire to explain under an ideal quite distinctfrom that of causal explanation. If I am right, then even if sometimes theexplanations achieved by a physical theory are not in violation ofthe standard of causal explanation, this is purely an accident. For physicaltheories, as I will show, do not, as such, aim at accommodating the…Read more
  •  65
    Nonreductive Physics
    Synthese 149 (1): 133-178. 2006.
    This paper documents a wide range of nonreductive scientific treatments of phenomena in the domain of physics. These treatments strongly resist characterization as explanations of macrobehavior exclusively in terms of behavior of microconstituents. For they are treatments in which macroquantities are cast in the role of genuine and irreducible degrees of freedom. One is driven into reductionism when one is not cultivated to possess an array of distinctions rich enough to let things be what they …Read more
  •  65
    Self-interest, autonomy, and the presuppositions of decision theory
    American Philosophical Quarterly 34 (2). 1997.
    the voluntary actions of such beings cannot be covered by causal laws. Decision theorists, accepting the premise of this argument, appeal instead to noncausal laws predicated on principles of success—oriented action, and use these laws to produce substantive and testable predictions about large—scale human behavior. The primary directive of success-oriented action is maximization of some valuable quantity. Many economists and social scientists use the principles of decision theory to explain soc…Read more
  •  58
    Degrees of Freedom: An Essay on Competitions between Micro and Macro in Mechanics
    Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 59 (1): 1-39. 1999.
    This paper argues that the doctrines of determinism and supervenience, while logically independent, are importantly linked in physical mechanics-and quite interestingly so. For it is possible to formulate classical mechanics in such a way as to take advantage of the existence of mathematical devices that represent the advance of time-and which are such as to inspire confidence in the truth of determinism-in order to prevent violation of supervenience. It is also possible to formulate classical m…Read more
  •  57
    Molecule-for-Molecule Duplication
    Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 27 (3): 103-114. 2008.
  •  57
    Journal Name: SATS Issue: Ahead of print
  •  49
    Sense and Sensibility
    with Chrisoula Andreou
    American Philosophical Quarterly 44 (1). 2007.
    We consider two versions of the view that the person of good sense has good sensibility and argue that at least one version of the view is correct. The version we defend is weaker than the version defended by contemporary Aristotelians; it can be consistently accepted even by those who find the contemporary Aristotelian version completely implausible. According to the version we defend, the person of good sense can be relied on to act soundly in part because, with the guidance of a fine-tuned a…Read more
  •  49
    Of Human Bonding: An Essay on the Natural History of Agency
    with Chrisoula Andreou
    Public Reason 1 (2). 2009.
  •  48
    From Human Nature to Moral Philosophy
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 32 (Supplement): 85-127. 2002.
  •  43
    Towards a Theory of Freedom
    Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 60 (134): 1-25. 2013.
  •  42
    Units of decision
    Philosophy of Science 66 (3): 338. 1999.
    I shall introduce the units 0f decision problem in thc theory of decision, which as I shall explain is 21 sibling t0 thc units 0f selection problem in cvolutionary thcory. And I shall present an argument to thc cffcct that, contrary to Bayesian wisdom on the subject, undertaking decision in group settings (in multi-individual units) violates no precepts of rationality.
  •  39
    Solidarity: A Motivational Conception
    Philosophical Papers 41 (1): 57-95. 2012.
    Abstract This essay offers a motivational conception of solidarity that can be employed across the entire range of sciences and humanities, while also filling a gap in the motivational spectrum conceived by decision theorists and economists?and expanding the two-part division between altruistic and selfish motivations into a tripartite analysis that suggests a spectrum instead. According to the present proposal, solidarity is a condition of action-readiness on behalf of a group or its interests.…Read more
  •  37
    The difficulties of justifying a recipe for scientific inquiry that calls for sensory experience and logic as sole ingredients can hardly be overestimated. Resolving the riddles of induction, steadily mounting against empiricism since Hume, has come to seem like an exercise in making bricks without straw. To be forgiven the debt of solving these riddles, whether by feminists or others, would come as a great relief. But such relief, I shall argue, can come only at the very high price of removing …Read more
  •  36
    Two Dogmas of Naturalized Epistemology
    Dialectica 53 (2): 111-138. 1999.
    This essay is not concerned exclusively with procedure. In addition to developing and promoting an alternative methodology, I will also be utilizing it to defend, systematically, an unfashionable proposition nowadays. This is the proposition that the question of how a particular judgment, on a particular occasion, is to be justified, is independent of the question of how that judgment comes to be formed by the individual who forms it. This thesis, which I shall call j‐in‐dependence, is deplored …Read more
  •  33
    THOMAS SCHELLING taught us that in ordinary human affairs, con¯ict and common interest are ubiquitously intertwined.1 For when it comes to variety, the occasion of pure con¯ict (known to some of its friends as the zerosum game) is as under-represented in human affairs as the occasion of undiluted common interest (known as the pure coordination game). The undiluted extremes are the exceptions, when it comes to counting kinds, while the mixed-motive kind of occasion is the rule. Things look a bit …Read more
  •  33
    Two conceptions of collectivity
    Journal of the Philosophy of History 2 (1): 83-104. 2008.
    This paper distinguishes two conceptions of collectivity, each of which tracks the targets of classification according to their aetiology. Collectivities falling under the first conception are founded on (more-or-less) explicit negotiations amongst the members who are known to one another personally. Collectivities falling under the second (philosophically neglected) conception are founded - at least initially - purely upon a shared conception of "we", very often in the absence of prior acquaint…Read more
  •  26
    Against Conditionalization
    with Fahiem Bacchus and Henry E. Kyburg Jr
    Synthese 85 (3). 1990.
  •  26
    Knowledge in an Age of Individual Economy
    Journal of Philosophical Research 24 169-191. 1999.
    This essay identifies foundational questions, all metaphysical in character, which must be answered before the enterprise of epistemology proper can begin to prosper, and in the process draws attention to fundamental conflicts between the demands of epistemology and the demands of prudence. It concludes that knowledge is not, as such, a directive of prudence, and thus that the enterprise of knowledge does not fall under the category of what is practically required
  •  24
    Conflict and co-ordination in the aftermath of oracular statements
    Philosophical Quarterly 47 (187): 212-226. 1997.
    Can victims of the oracle paradox, which is known primarily through its unexpected hanging and surprise examination versions, extricate themselves from their difficulties of reasoning? No. For they do not, contrary to recent opinion, commit errors of fallacious elimination. As I shall argue, the difficulties of reasoning faced by these victims do not originate in the domain of concepts, propositions and their entailment relations; nor do they result from misapprehensions about limitations on wha…Read more
  •  24
    A venerable tradition in the metaphysics of science commends ontological reduction: the practice of analysis of theoretical entities into further and further proper parts, with the understanding that the original entity is nothing but the sum of these. This tradition implicitly subscribes to the principle that all the real action of the universe (also referred to as its "causation") happens at the smallest scales-at the scale of microphysics. A vast majority of metaphysicians and philosophers of…Read more
  •  23
    Imitative Reasoning
    Social Epistemology 23 (3): 381-405. 2009.
    On the classical instrumental view, practical reason is an all-things-considered enterprise, concerned not merely with identifying and evaluating appropriate means to the realization of ends construed as uncriticizable, but also with coordinating achievement of their sum. The concept of a totality of ranked concerns is the cornerstone of the theory of utility. This paper discusses some of the ways that practical reasoning, on the ground, is not instrumental in this sense. The paper will demonstr…Read more
  •  23
    “Searle’s Foole: How a Constructionist Account of Society Cannot Substitute for a Causal One”
    American Journal of Economics and Sociology 62 (1): 105-122. 2003.
    In The Construction of Social Reality, John Searle promises a causal account of how social facts are constructed by human acts of intention, but specifically disavows a special theoretical space in that account for human motivation. This paper argues that such a story as Searle tells cannot serve as a causal account of society. A causal account must illuminate motivations, because doing so illuminates the aims and interests lacking which we cannot explain why these social practices come to be and…Read more
  •  21
    Probability is the Very Guide of Life: The Philosophical Uses of Chance (edited book)
    with Kyburg Jr and E. Henry
    Open Court. 2003.
    This collection represents the best recent work on the subject and includes essays by Clark Glymour, James H. Fetzer, and Wesley C. Salmon.