•  86
    Mereological Composition in Analytic and Buddhist Perspective
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association 7 (2): 173-194. 2021.
    Comparing Buddhist and contemporary analytic views about mereological composition reveals significant dissimilarities about the purposes that constrain successful answers to mereological questions, the kinds of considerations taken to be probative in justifying those answers, and the value of mereological inquiry. I develop these dissimilarities by examining three questions relevant to those who deny the existence of composite wholes. The first is a question of justification: What justifies deny…Read more
  •  117
    An Account of Generous Action and Esteem in Pāli Buddhism
    International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture 30 (2): 195-225. 2020.
    I propose an account of generous action in the Pāli Buddhist tradition, whereby generous actions are instances of giving in which the donor has esteem for the recipient of their giving. The account differs from recent Anglophone accounts of generous action. These tend to construe generous actions as instances of a donor freely offering a gift to the recipient for the sake of benefiting the recipient. Unlike the Buddhist account I propose, these accounts do not require donors to esteem their reci…Read more
  •  208
    Race, Technology, and Posthumanism
    with Holly Flint Jones
    In Mads Rosenthal Thomsen & Jacob Wamberg (eds.), The Bloomsbury Handbook of Posthumanism, Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 161-170. 2020.
    This chapter briefly reviews the role of race (as a concept) in the history of theorizing the posthuman, engages with existing discussions of race as technology, and explores the significance of understanding race as technology for the field of posthumanism. Our aim is to engage existing literature that posits racialized individuals as posthumans and to consider how studying race might inform theories of the posthuman.
  •  26
    A Russellian Analysis of Buddhist Catuskoti
    Comparative Philosophy 11 (2): 63-89. 2020.
    Names name, but there are no individuals who are named by names. This is the key to an elegant and ideologically parsimonious strategy for analyzing the Buddhist catuṣkoṭi. The strategy is ideologically parsimonious, because it appeals to no analytic resources beyond those of standard predicate logic. The strategy is elegant, because it is, in effect, an application of Bertrand Russell's theory of definite descriptions to Buddhist contexts. The strategy imposes some minor adjustments upon Russel…Read more
  •  32
    The architecture of Fazang’s six characteristics
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 27 (3): 468-491. 2019.
    This paper examines the Huayan teaching of the six characteristics as presented in the Rafter Dialogue from Fazang's Treatise on the Five Teachings. The goal is to make the teaching accessible to those with minimal training in Buddhist philosophy, and especially for those who aim to engage with the extensive question-and-answer section of the Rafter Dialogue. The method for achieving this goal is threefold: first, contextualizing Fazang's account of the characteristics with earlier Buddhist atte…Read more
  •  15
    Huayan Numismatics as Metaphysics: Explicating Fazang's Coin-Counting Metaphor
    Philosophy East and West 68 (4): 1155-1177. 2019.
    This paper explicates the counting ten coins metaphor as it appears in Fazang’s Treatise on the Five Teachings of Huayan. The goal is to transform Fazang’s inexact and obscure mentions of the metaphor into something that is clearer and more precise. The method for achieving this goal is threefold: first, presenting Fazang’s version of the metaphor as improving upon prior efforts by Zhiyan and Ŭisang to interpret a brief stanza in the Avataṁsaka sutra; second, providing textual evidence to suppor…Read more
  •  77
    Strategies of Explanatory Abstraction in Molecular Systems Biology
    Philosophy of Science 85 (5): 955-968. 2018.
    I consider three explanatory strategies from recent systems biology that are driven by mathematics as much as mechanistic detail. Analysis of differential equations drives the first strategy; topological analysis of network motifs drives the second; mathematical theorems from control engineering drive the third. I also distinguish three abstraction types: aggregations, which simplify by condensing information; generalizations, which simplify by generalizing information; and structurations, which…Read more
  •  29
    Critical Epistemology for Analysis of Competing Hypotheses
    Intelligence and National Security 33 (2): 273-289. 2018.
    Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH) promises a relatively objective and tractable methodology for ranking the plausibility of competing hypotheses. Unlike Bayesianism, it is computationally modest. Unlike explanationism, it appeals to minimally subjective judgments about relations between hypotheses and evidence. Yet the canonical procedures for ACH allow a certain kind of instability in applications of the methodology, by virtue of supporting competing rankings despite common evidential base…Read more
  •  202
    Race as Technology: From Posthuman Cyborg to Human Industry
    with Holly Jones
    Ilha Do Desterro 70 (2): 39-51. 2017.
    Cyborg and prosthetic technologies frame prominent posthumanist approaches to understanding the nature of race. But these frameworks struggle to accommodate the phenomena of racial passing and racial travel, and their posthumanist orientation blurs useful distinctions between racialized humans and their social contexts. We advocate, instead, a humanist approach to race, understanding racial hierarchy as an industrial technology. Our approach accommodates racial passing and travel. It integrates …Read more
  •  1165
    Nyāya-vaiśesika inherence, buddhist reduction, and huayan total power
    Journal of Chinese Philosophy 37 (2): 215-230. 2010.
    This paper elaborates upon various responses to the Problem of the One over the Many, in the service of two central goals. The first is to situate Huayan's mereology within the context of Buddhism's historical development, showing its continuity with a broader tradition of philosophizing about part-whole relations. The second goal is to highlight the way in which Huayan's mereology combines the virtues of the Nyāya-Vaisheshika and Indian Buddhist solutions to the Problem of the One over the Ma…Read more
  •  92
    In this reply to Gregory Peterson 's essay "Maintaining Respectability," which itself is a response to my "Is Theology Respectable as Metaphysics?" I elaborate upon my claims that theology treats God's existence as an absolute certainty immune to refutation and that modern science constitutes the canons of respectable reasoning for metaphysical disciplines. I conclude with some comments on Peterson 's "In Praise of Folly? Theology and the University."
  •  883
    In his _Treatise on the Golden Lion_, Fazang says that wholes are _in_ each of their parts and that each part of a whole _is_ every other part of the whole. In this paper, I offer an interpretation of these remarks according to which they are not obviously false, and I use this interpretation in order to rigorously reconstruct Fazang's arguments for his claims. On the interpretation I favor, Fazang means that the presence of a whole's part suffices for the presence of the whole and that the pres…Read more
  •  487
    Is theology respectable as metaphysics?
    Zygon 43 (3): 579-592. 2008.
    Theology involves inquiry into God's nature, God's purposes, and whether certain experiences or pronouncements come From God. These inquiries are metaphysical, part of theology's concern with the veridicality of signs and realities that are independent from humans. Several research programs concerned with the relation between theology and science aim to secure theology's intellectual standing as a metaphysical discipline by showing that it satisfies criteria that make modern science reputable, o…Read more
  •  586
    Correlative Reasoning about Water in Mengzi 6A2
    Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 15 (2): 193-207. 2016.
    Mengzi 孟子 6A2 contains the famous water analogy for the innate goodness of human nature. Some evaluate Mengzi’s reasoning as strong and sophisticated; others, as weak or sophistical. I urge for more nuance in our evaluation. Mengzi’s reasoning fares poorly when judged by contemporary standards of analogical strength. However, if we evaluate the analogy as an instance of correlative thinking within a yin-yang 陰陽 cosmology, his reasoning fares well. That cosmology provides good reason to assert th…Read more
  •  1810
    An Atheistic Argument from Ugliness
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7 (1): 209-217. 2015.
    The theistic argument from beauty has what we call an 'evil twin', the argument from ugliness. The argument yields either what we call 'atheist win', or, when faced with aesthetic theodicies, 'agnostic tie' with the argument from beauty.
  •  13
  •  83
    When do data provide good evidence for a hypothesis, evidence that warrants an inference to the hypothesis? Standard answers either reject the legitimacy of induction or else allow warranted inference from data to hypothesis when there are suitable relationships between and among the data and hypotheses. The severity account rejects all of these, maintaining instead that the good evidence relation concerns not only relations between data and hypotheses but also the methods for obtaining the data…Read more
  •  49
    Life scientists increasingly rely upon abstraction-based modeling and reasoning strategies for understanding biological phenomena. We introduce the notion of constraint-based reasoning as a fruitful tool for conceptualizing some of these developments. One important role of mathematical abstractions is to impose formal constraints on a search space for possible hypotheses and thereby guide the search for plausible causal models. Formal constraints are, however, not only tools for biological expla…Read more
  •  81
    Inference to the More Robust Explanation
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1): 75-102. 2018.
    ABSTRACT There is a new argument form within theoretical biology. This form takes as input competing explanatory models; it yields as output the conclusion that one of these models is more plausible than the others. The driving force for this argument form is an analysis showing that one model exhibits more parametric robustness than its competitors. This article examines these inferences to the more robust explanation, analysing them as variants of inference to the best explanation. The article…Read more
  •  252
    Diagrams as locality aids for explanation and model construction in cell biology
    with Olaf Wolkenhauer
    Biology and Philosophy 27 (5): 705-721. 2012.
    Using as case studies two early diagrams that represent mechanisms of the cell division cycle, we aim to extend prior philosophical analyses of the roles of diagrams in scientific reasoning, and specifically their role in biological reasoning. The diagrams we discuss are, in practice, integral and indispensible elements of reasoning from experimental data about the cell division cycle to mathematical models of the cycle’s molecular mechanisms. In accordance with prior analyses, the diagrams prov…Read more
  •  287
    According to conciliatory views about the epistemology of disagreement, when epistemic peers have conflicting doxastic attitudes toward a proposition and fully disclose to one another the reasons for their attitudes toward that proposition (and neither has independent reason to believe the other to be mistaken), each peer should always change his attitude toward that proposition to one that is closer to the attitudes of those peers with which there is disagreement. According to pure higher-ord…Read more
  •  80
    The logic of soku in the kyoto school
    Philosophy East and West 54 (3): 302-321. 2004.
    Can contradictions be meaningful? How can one assert 'P soku not-P' or 'P and yet not-P' without sacrificing intelligibility? Expanding on previous attempts, mainly by Dilworth and Heisig, to demystify the soku connective, a formal system is presented here for the logic of soku. Through a formal distinction between internal and external negation, grammatical features of the soku connective are shown to be logically irrelevant, and the principle of non-contradiction is preserved. Disparities with…Read more
  •  117
    General relativity and the standard model: Why evidence for one does not disconfirm the other
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 40 (2): 124-132. 2008.
    General Relativity and the Standard Model often are touted as the most rigorously and extensively confirmed scientific hypotheses of all time. Nonetheless, these theories appear to have consequences that are inconsistent with evidence about phenomena for which, respectively, quantum effects and gravity matter. This paper suggests an explanation for why the theories are not disconfirmed by such evidence. The key to this explanation is an approach to scientific hypotheses that allows their actual …Read more
  •  59
    The increasing application of network models to interpret biological systems raises a number of important methodological and epistemological questions. What novel insights can network analysis provide in biology? Are network approaches an extension of or in conflict with mechanistic research strategies? When and how can network and mechanistic approaches interact in productive ways? In this paper we address these questions by focusing on how biological networks are represented and analyzed in a …Read more
  •  75
    Mereological heuristics for huayan buddhism
    Philosophy East and West 60 (3): 355-368. 2010.
    This is an attempt to explain, in a way familiar to contemporary ways of thinking about mereology, why someone might accept some prima facie puzzling remarks by Fazang, such as his claims that the eye of a lion is its ear and that a rafter of a building is identical to the building itself. These claims are corollaries of the Huayan Buddhist thesis that everything is part of everything else, and it is intended here to show that there is a rational basis for this thesis that involves a nonstandard…Read more
  •  239
    Don’t Blame the Idealizations
    Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 44 (1): 85-100. 2013.
    Idealizing conditions are scapegoats for scientific hypotheses, too often blamed for falsehood better attributed to less obvious sources. But while the tendency to blame idealizations is common among both philosophers of science and scientists themselves, the blame is misplaced. Attention to the nature of idealizing conditions, the content of idealized hypotheses, and scientists’ attitudes toward those hypotheses shows that idealizing conditions are blameless when hypotheses misrepresent. These …Read more
  •  13
    A Principles-based Model of Ethical Considerations in Military Decision Making
    with Gregory Reed, Mikel Petty, Anthony Morris, John Ballenger, and Harry Delugach
    Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation 13 (2): 195-211. 2016.
    When comparing alternative courses of action, modern military decision makers often must consider both the military effectiveness and the ethical consequences of the available alternatives. The basis, design, calibration, and performance of a principles-based computational model of ethical considerations in military decision making are reported in this article. The relative ethical violation (REV) model comparatively evaluates alternative military actions based upon the degree to which they viol…Read more
  •  495
    One recent priority of the U.S. government is developing autonomous robotic systems. The U.S. Army has funded research to design a metric of evil to support military commanders with ethical decision-making and, in the future, allow robotic military systems to make autonomous ethical judgments. We use this particular project as a case study for efforts that seek to frame morality in quantitative terms. We report preliminary results from this research, describing the assumptions and limitations of…Read more
  •  135
    Is All Abstracting Idealizing?
    The Reasoner 2 (4): 4-5. 2008.
    I defend a distinction between abstraction and idealization. Idealizations distort; abstractions do not.
  •  351
    While mechanistic explanation and, to a lesser extent, nomological explanation are well-explored topics in the philosophy of biology, topological explanation is not. Nor is the role of diagrams in topological explanations. These explanations do not appeal to the operation of mechanisms or laws, and extant accounts of the role of diagrams in biological science explain neither why scientists might prefer diagrammatic representations of topological information to sentential equivalents nor how such…Read more