Saturday, February 05, 2005

Philosophers' Carnival IX

The 9th Philosophers' Carnival is now available for your viewing pleasure at Studi Galileiani. As usual, there are several good posts.

The post on decision making at Melbourne Philosopher, for instance, hints at some interesting issues in modeling the unconscious and conscious aspects of decision-making processes. I, for one, wouldn't make hard distinctions between preconceptions, faith, and knowledge, or between intuition and reason, as I think all of these things tend to bleed together in everyday cognition, and our experience of confidence in a belief is often uncorrelated with the amount of justification we have for holding that belief, or with the role that the belief plays in our reasoning and decision-making.

Richard has a good post on moral relativism, and as is often the case at Richard's blog, the discussion in the comments section is interesting as well. I think Richard's conception of "value, on which he bases his objective moral relativist position, as desire fulfilment is interesting, because it fits with some cognitive conceptions of value, in which value (though not necessary moral value, but I suppose it could work there too) is related to our present goals (along with long-term goals) and the evaluative valences of objects (which are usually conceptualized in terms of approach and avoidance, in accordance with Lewin's still-influential theory).

I also liked the post at Wo's Weblog on "Counterpart Theory," and the post on fiction at Fake Barn Country. It never ceases to amaze me how difficult fiction is for analytic epistemology and ontology, given how easily and intuitively we are able to represent and understand it as fiction. This may be another area where an understanding of how people conceptualize fiction could benefit philosophers, though I haven't really thought out how that would work.

Oh, and I almost forgot, because I'd already read it, the really nice post on falsificationism at Studi Galileiani. One of the things I like about falsification is that, in practice, it serves as a good heuristic for evaluating theories. One of the problems we run into in cognitive psychology, which is probably due to its youthfulness, is that many of the theories and models are too powerful, and thus can account for pretty much any possible data set. For that reason, models that account for empirically derived data, and which are falsifiable (i.e., there are possible data sets which they couldn't handle) are preferred. Still, as a method of distinguishing science from non-science, falsification is filled with problems, and the post does a nice job of detailing these.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't understand your comment, I'm afraid. How does falsification "[serve] as a good heuristic for evaluating theories"? The point of my discussion was to explain that it does not. 

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