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Emergent Chance

Philosophical Review 124 (1):119-152 (2015)

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  1. Blocking an Argument for Emergent Chance.David Kinney - 2021 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (5):1057-1077.
    Several authors have argued that non-extreme probabilities used in special sciences such as chemistry and biology can be objective chances, even if the true microphysical description of the world is deterministic. This article examines an influential version of this argument and shows that it depends on a particular methodology for defining the relationship between coarse-grained and fine-grained events. An alternative methodology for coarse-graining is proposed. This alternative methodology blocks this argument for the existence of emergent chances, and makes better sense (...)
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  • Power Emergentism and the Collapse Problem.Elanor Taylor - 2022 - Philosophy of Science 89 (2):302-318.
    Strong emergentism is the position that certain higher-level properties display a kind of metaphysical autonomy from the lower-level properties in which they are grounded. The prospect of collapse is a problem for strong emergentism. According to those who press the collapse problem any purportedly strongly emergent feature inheres in the emergence base and so is not genuinely autonomous from that base. Umut Baysan and Jessica Wilson argue that power emergentism avoids the collapse problem. In this paper, I challenge the claim (...)
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  • Infinite Frequency Principles of Direct Inference.Lennart B. Ackermans - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2).
    According to an infinite frequency principle, it is rational, under certain conditions, to set your credence in an outcome to the limiting frequency of that outcome if the experiment were repeated indefinitely. I argue that most infinite frequency principles are undesirable in at least one of the following ways: accepting the principle would lead you to accept bets with sure losses, the principle gives no guidance in the case of deterministic experiments like coin tosses and the principle relies on a (...)
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  • The Naturalistic Case for Free Will.Christian List - forthcoming - In Stavros Ioannidis, Gal Vishne, Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker (eds.), Levels of Reality in Science and Philosophy. Cham: Springer.
    The aim of this expository paper is to give an informal overview of a plausible naturalistic case for free will. I will describe what I take to be the main naturalistically motivated challenges for free will and respond to them by presenting an indispensability argument for free will. The argument supports the reality of free will as an emergent higher-level phenomenon. I will also explain why the resulting picture of free will does not conflict with the possibility that the fundamental (...)
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  • Causal Emergence From Effective Information: Neither Causal nor Emergent?Joe Dewhurst - 2021 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 10 (3):158-168.
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  • Levels: Descriptive, Explanatory, and Ontological.Christian List - 2019 - Noûs 53 (4):852-883.
    Scientists and philosophers frequently speak about levels of description, levels of explanation, and ontological levels. In this paper, I propose a unified framework for modelling levels. I give a general definition of a system of levels and show that it can accommodate descriptive, explanatory, and ontological notions of levels. I further illustrate the usefulness of this framework by applying it to some salient philosophical questions: (1) Is there a linear hierarchy of levels, with a fundamental level at the bottom? And (...)
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  • Flat Physicalism.Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker - forthcoming - Theoria.
    This paper describes a version of type identity physicalism, which we call Flat Physicalism, and shows how it meets several objections often raised against identity theories. This identity theory is informed by recent results in the conceptual foundations of physics, and in particular clar- ifies the notion of ‘physical kinds’ in light of a conceptual analysis of the paradigmatic case of reducing thermody- namics to statistical mechanics. We show how Flat Physi- calism is compatible with the appearance of multiple realisation (...)
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  • On the Foundations of the Problem of Free Will.Paolo Galeazzi & Rasmus K. Rendsvig - forthcoming - Episteme:1-19.
    In a recent paper, Christian List has argued for the compatibilism of free will and determinism. Drawing on a distinction between physical possibility and agential possibility, List constructs a formal two-level model in which the two concepts are consistent. This paper's first contribution is to show that though List's model is formally consistent, philosophically it falls short of establishing a satisfactory compatibilist position. Ensuingly, an analysis of the shortcomings of the model leads to the identification of a controversial epistemological assumption (...)
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  • Good Reasons for Losers: Lottery Justification and Social Risk.Kai Spiekermann - 2022 - Economics and Philosophy 38 (1):108-131.
    Many goods are distributed by processes that involve randomness. In lotteries, randomness is used to promote fairness. When taking social risks, randomness is a feature of the process. The losers of such decisions ought to be given a reason why they should accept the outcome. Surprisingly, good reasons demand more than merely equal ex ante chances. What is also required is a true statement of the form: ‘the result could easily have gone the other way and you could have been (...)
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  • Introduction: Levels of Reality.Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker - 2022 - The Monist 105 (2):147-155.
    We give a general background describing how the notion of levels of reality comes about in contemporary nonreductive approaches to the special sciences, what the notion of levels means in these approaches, its role in our scientific outlook of the world, and why it is important.
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  • Special-Science Counterfactuals.Christian List - 2022 - The Monist 105 (2):194–213.
    On the standard analysis, a counterfactual conditional such as “If P had been the case, then Q would have been the case” is true in the actual world if, in all nearest possible worlds in which its antecedent (P) is true, its consequent (Q) is also true. Despite its elegance, this analysis faces a difficulty if the laws of nature are deterministic. Then the antecedent could not have been true, given prior conditions. So, it is unclear what the relevant “nearest (...)
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  • Aggregating Causal Judgments.Richard Bradley, Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (4):491-515.
    Decision-making typically requires judgments about causal relations: we need to know the causal effects of our actions and the causal relevance of various environmental factors. We investigate how several individuals' causal judgments can be aggregated into collective causal judgments. First, we consider the aggregation of causal judgments via the aggregation of probabilistic judgments, and identify the limitations of this approach. We then explore the possibility of aggregating causal judgments independently of probabilistic ones. Formally, we introduce the problem of causal-network aggregation. (...)
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  • Chance and Necessity.Daniel Nolan - 2016 - Philosophical Perspectives 30 (1):294-308.
    A principle endorsed by many theories of objective chance, and practically forced on us by the standard interpretation of the Kolmogorov semantics for chance, is the principle that when a proposition P has a chance, any proposition Q that is necessarily equivalent to P will have the same chance as P. Call this principle SUB (for the substitution of necessary equivalents into chance ascriptions). I will present some problems for a theory of chance, and will argue that the best way (...)
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  • Simple Probabilistic Promotion.Eden Lin - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (2):360-379.
    Many believe that normative reasons for action are necessarily connected with the promotion of certain states of affairs: on Humean views, for example, there is a reason for you to do something if and only if it would promote the object of one of your desires. But although promotion is widely invoked in discussions of reasons, its nature is a matter of controversy. I propose a simple account: to promote a state of affairs is to make it more likely to (...)
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  • Dynamic and Stochastic Systems as a Framework for Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science.Christian List & Marcus Pivato - 2019 - Synthese 198 (3):2551-2612.
    Scientists often think of the world as a dynamical system, a stochastic process, or a generalization of such a system. Prominent examples of systems are the system of planets orbiting the sun or any other classical mechanical system, a hydrogen atom or any other quantum–mechanical system, and the earth’s atmosphere or any other statistical mechanical system. We introduce a general and unified framework for describing such systems and show how it can be used to examine some familiar philosophical questions, including (...)
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  • Dynamic and Stochastic Systems as a Framework for Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science.Christian List & Marcus Pivato - 2021 - Synthese 198 (3):2551-2612.
    Scientists often think of the world as a dynamical system, a stochastic process, or a generalization of such a system. Prominent examples of systems are the system of planets orbiting the sun or any other classical mechanical system, a hydrogen atom or any other quantum–mechanical system, and the earth’s atmosphere or any other statistical mechanical system. We introduce a general and unified framework for describing such systems and show how it can be used to examine some familiar philosophical questions, including (...)
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  • Autonomy Generalised; or, Why Doesn’T Physics Matter More?Katie Robertson - forthcoming - Ergo.
    In what sense are the special sciences autonomous of fundamental physics? Autonomy is an enduring theme in discussions of the relationship between the special sciences and fundamental physics or, more generally, between higher and lower-level facts. Discussion of ‘autonomy’ often fails to recognise that autonomy admits of degrees; consequently, autonomy is either taken to require full independence, or risk relegation to mere apparent autonomy. In addition, the definition of autonomy used by Fodor, the most famous proponent of the autonomy of (...)
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  • Chancy Covariance and The Mind-Body Problem.Benjamin Eva - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Mind.
    Most agree that mental properties depend in some way on physical properties. While phys- icalists describe this dependence in terms of deterministic synchronic relations like identity or supervenience, some dualists prefer to think of it in terms of indeterministic dynamic relations, like causation. I’m going to develop a third conception of the dependence of the mental on the physical that falls somewhere between the deterministic synchronic dependence relations of the physicalist and the indeterministic diachronic dependence relations advocated by some dualists. (...)
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  • Objective Consequentialism and the Plurality of Chances.Leszek Wroński - 2021 - Synthese 198 (12):12089-12105.
    I claim that objective consequentialism faces a problem stemming from the existence in some situations of a plurality of chances relevant to the outcomes of an agent’s acts. I suggest that this phenomenon bears structural resemblance to the well-known Reference Class problem. I outline a few ways in which one could attempt to deal with the issue, suggesting that it is the higher-level chance that should be employed by OC.
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  • Degrees of Freedom.Pieter Thyssen & Sylvia Wenmackers - forthcoming - Synthese 198 (11):10207-10235.
    Human freedom is in tension with nomological determinism and with statistical determinism. The goal of this paper is to answer both challenges. Four contributions are made to the free-will debate. First, we propose a classification of scientific theories based on how much freedom they allow. We take into account that indeterminism comes in different degrees and that both the laws and the auxiliary conditions can place constraints. A scientific worldview pulls towards one end of this classification, while libertarianism pulls towards (...)
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  • Outlook-Based Semantics.Elizabeth Coppock - 2018 - Linguistics and Philosophy 41 (2):125-164.
    This paper presents and advocates an approach to the semantics of opinion statements, including matters of personal taste and moral claims. In this framework, ‘outlook-based semantics’, the circumstances of evaluation are not composed of a possible world and a judge ; rather, outlooks replace possible worlds in the role of circumstance of evaluation. Outlooks are refinements of worlds that settle not only matters of fact but also matters of opinion. Several virtues of the framework and advantages over existing implementations of (...)
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  • Indeterminism in the Brain.Bryce Gessell - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (6):1205-1223.
    Does the brain behave indeterministically? I argue that accounting for ion channels, key functional units in the brain, requires indeterministic models. These models are probabilistic, so the brain does behave indeterministically in a weak sense. I explore the implications of this point for a stronger sense of indeterminism. Ultimately I argue that it is not possible, either empirically or through philosophical argument, to show that the brain is indeterministic in that stronger sense.
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  • A dynamical systems approach to causation.Peter Fazekas, Balazs Gyenis, Gábor Hofer-Szabó & Gergely Kertesz - 2019 - Synthese 198 (7):6065-6087.
    Our approach aims at accounting for causal claims in terms of how the physical states of the underlying dynamical system evolve with time. Causal claims assert connections between two sets of physicals states—their truth depends on whether the two sets in question are genuinely connected by time evolution such that physical states from one set evolve with time into the states of the other set. We demonstrate the virtues of our approach by showing how it is able to account for (...)
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  • Contractualism, Complaints, and Risk.Bastian Steuwer - 2021 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 19 (2).
    How should contractualists assess the permissibility of risky actions? Both main views on the question, ex ante and ex post, fail to distinguish between different kinds of risk. In this article, I argue that this overlooks a third alternative that I call “objective ex ante contractualism”. Objective ex ante substitutes discounting complaints by epistemic risk in favor of discounting by objective risk. I further argue in favor of this new view. Objective ex ante contractualism provides the best model of justifiability (...)
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  • Why Functionalism Is a Form of ‘Token-Dualism’.Meir Hemmo & Orly R. Shenker - unknown
    We present a novel reductive theory of type-identity physicalism, which is inspired by the foundations of statistical mechanics as a general theory of natural kinds. We show that all the claims mounted against type-identity physicalism in the literature don’t apply to Flat Physicalism, and moreover that this reductive theory solves many of the problems faced by the various non-reductive approaches including functionalism. In particular, we show that Flat Physicalism can account for the appearance of multiple realizability in the special sciences, (...)
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  • One-by-One: Moral Theory for Separate Persons.Bastian Steuwer - 2020 - Dissertation, London School of Economics
    You and I lead different lives. While we share a society and a world, our existence is separate from one another. You and I matter individually, by ourselves. My dissertation is about this simple thought. I argue that this simple insight, the separateness of persons, tells us something fundamental about morality. My dissertation seeks to answer how the separateness of persons matters. I develop a precise view of the demands of the separateness of persons. The separateness of persons imposes both (...)
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  • Sources of Evolutionary Contingency: Chance Variation and Genetic Drift.T. Y. William Wong - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (4):1-33.
    Contingency-theorists have gestured to a series of phenomena such as random mutations or rare Armageddon-like events as that which accounts for evolutionary contingency. These phenomena constitute a class, which may be aptly called the ‘sources of contingency’. In this paper, I offer a probabilistic conception of what it is to be a source of contingency and then examine two major candidates: chance variation and genetic drift, both of which have historically been taken to be ‘chancy’ in a number of different (...)
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  • Two Kinds of High-Level Probability.Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker - 2019 - The Monist 102 (4):458-477.
    According to influential views the probabilities in classical statistical mechanics and other special sciences are objective chances, although the underlying mechanical theory is deterministic, since the deterministic low level is inadmissible or unavailable from the high level. Here two intuitions pull in opposite directions: One intuition is that if the world is deterministic, probability can only express subjective ignorance. The other intuition is that probability of high-level phenomena, especially thermodynamic ones, is dictated by the state of affairs in the world. (...)
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  • Bayesian Variations: Essays on the Structure, Object, and Dynamics of Credence.Aron Vallinder - 2018 - Dissertation, London School of Economics
    According to the traditional Bayesian view of credence, its structure is that of precise probability, its objects are descriptive propositions about the empirical world, and its dynamics are given by conditionalization. Each of the three essays that make up this thesis deals with a different variation on this traditional picture. The first variation replaces precise probability with sets of probabilities. The resulting imprecise Bayesianism is sometimes motivated on the grounds that our beliefs should not be more precise than the evidence (...)
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  • A Proposed Probabilistic Extension of the Halpern and Pearl Definition of ‘Actual Cause’.Luke Fenton-Glynn - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (4):1061-1164.
    In their article 'Causes and Explanations: A Structural-Model Approach. Part I: Causes', Joseph Halpern and Judea Pearl draw upon structural equation models to develop an attractive analysis of 'actual cause'. Their analysis is designed for the case of deterministic causation. I show that their account can be naturally extended to provide an elegant treatment of probabilistic causation.
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  • Agency as Difference-Making: Causal Foundations of Moral Responsibility.Johannes Himmelreich - 2015 - Dissertation, London School of Economics and Political Science
    We are responsible for some things but not for others. In this thesis, I investigate what it takes for an entity to be responsible for something. This question has two components: agents and actions. I argue for a permissive view about agents. Entities such as groups or artificially intelligent systems may be agents in the sense required for responsibility. With respect to actions, I argue for a causal view. The relation in virtue of which agents are responsible for actions is (...)
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  • Levels: Descriptive, Explanatory, and Ontological.Christian List - 2017
    Scientists and philosophers frequently speak about levels of description, levels of explanation, and ontological levels. This paper presents a framework for studying levels. I give a general definition of a system of levels and discuss several applications, some of which refer to descriptive or explanatory levels while others refer to ontological levels. I illustrate the usefulness of this framework by bringing it to bear on some familiar philosophical questions. Is there a hierarchy of levels, with a fundamental level at the (...)
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  • A Proposed Probabilistic Extension of the Halpern and Pearl Definition of ‘Actual Cause’.Luke Fenton-Glynn - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (4):1061-1124.
    ABSTRACT Joseph Halpern and Judea Pearl draw upon structural equation models to develop an attractive analysis of ‘actual cause’. Their analysis is designed for the case of deterministic causation. I show that their account can be naturally extended to provide an elegant treatment of probabilistic causation. 1Introduction 2Preemption 3Structural Equation Models 4The Halpern and Pearl Definition of ‘Actual Cause’ 5Preemption Again 6The Probabilistic Case 7Probabilistic Causal Models 8A Proposed Probabilistic Extension of Halpern and Pearl’s Definition 9Twardy and Korb’s Account 10Probabilistic (...)
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  • Asymmetry, Abstraction, and Autonomy: Justifying Coarse-Graining in Statistical Mechanics.Katie Robertson - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (2):547-579.
    While the fundamental laws of physics are time-reversal invariant, most macroscopic processes are irreversible. Given that the fundamental laws are taken to underpin all other processes, how can the fundamental time-symmetry be reconciled with the asymmetry manifest elsewhere? In statistical mechanics, progress can be made with this question. What I dub the ‘Zwanzig–Zeh–Wallace framework’ can be used to construct the irreversible equations of SM from the underlying microdynamics. Yet this framework uses coarse-graining, a procedure that has faced much criticism. I (...)
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  • When to Defer to Supermajority Testimony — and When Not.Christian List - 2014 - In Jennifer Lackey (ed.), Essays in Collective Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 240-249.
    Pettit (2006) argues that deferring to majority testimony is not generally rational: it may lead to inconsistent beliefs. He suggests that “another ... approach will do better”: deferring to supermajority testimony. But this approach may also lead to inconsistencies. In this paper, I describe conditions under which deference to supermajority testimony ensures consistency, and conditions under which it does not. I also introduce the concept of “consistency of degree k”, which is weaker than full consistency by ruling out only “blatant” (...)
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  • Imprecise Bayesian Networks as Causal Models.David Kinney - 2018 - Information 9 (9):211.
    This article considers the extent to which Bayesian networks with imprecise probabilities, which are used in statistics and computer science for predictive purposes, can be used to represent causal structure. It is argued that the adequacy conditions for causal representation in the precise context—the Causal Markov Condition and Minimality—do not readily translate into the imprecise context. Crucial to this argument is the fact that the independence relation between random variables can be understood in several different ways when the joint probability (...)
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  • Justifying Lewis’s Kinematics of Chance.Patryk Dziurosz-Serafinowicz - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (2):439-463.
    In his ‘A Subjectivist’s Guide to Objective Chance’, Lewis argued that a particular kinematical model for chances follows from his principal principle. According to this model, any later chance function is equal to an earlier chance function conditional on the complete intervening history of non-modal facts. This article first investigates the conditions that any kinematical model for chance needs to satisfy to count as Lewis’s kinematics of chance. Second, it presents Lewis’s justification for his kinematics of chance and explains why (...)
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  • Free Will and the Cross-Level Consequence Argument.Jonathan Birch - 2020
    Christian List has recently constructed a novel formal framework for representing the relationship between free will and determinism. At its core is a distinction between physical and agential levels of description. List has argued that, since the consequence argument cannot be reconstructed within this framework, the consequence argument rests on a ‘category mistake’: an illicit conflation of the physical and agential levels. I show that an expanded version of List’s framework allows the construction of a cross-level consequence argument.
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  • The Principal Principle Does Not Imply the Principle of Indifference.Richard Pettigrew - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (2):605-619.
    In a recent paper in this journal, James Hawthorne, Jürgen Landes, Christian Wallmann, and Jon Williamson argue that the principal principle entails the principle of indifference. In this article, I argue that it does not. Lewis’s version of the principal principle notoriously depends on a notion of admissibility, which Lewis uses to restrict its application. HLWW base their argument on certain intuitions concerning when one proposition is admissible for another: Conditions 1 and 2. There are two ways of reading their (...)
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  • The Principal Principle Does Not Imply the Principle of Indifference.Richard Pettigrew - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axx060.
    In a recent paper in this journal, James Hawthorne, Jürgen Landes, Christian Wallmann, and Jon Williamson argue that the principal principle entails the principle of indifference. In this paper, I argue that it does not. Lewis’s version of the principal principle notoriously depends on a notion of admissibility, which Lewis uses to restrict its application. HLWW base their argument on certain intuitions concerning when one proposition is admissible for another: Conditions 1 and 2. There are two ways of reading their (...)
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  • What’s Wrong with the Consequence Argument: A Compatibilist Libertarian Response.Christian List - 2019 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 119 (3):253-274.
    The most prominent argument for the incompatibility of free will and determinism is Peter van Inwagen’s consequence argument. I offer a new diagnosis of what is wrong with this argument. Proponents and critics typically accept the way the argument is framed, and only disagree on whether the premisses and rules of inference are true. I suggest that the argument involves a category mistake: it conflates two different levels of description, namely, the physical level at which we describe the world from (...)
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  • Chance, Determinism, and Unsettledness.Antony Eagle - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (3):781-802.
    A previously unrecognised argument against deterministic chance is introduced. The argument rests on the twin ideas that determined outcomes are settled, while chancy outcomes are unsettled, thus making cases of determined but chancy outcomes impossible. Closer attention to tacit assumptions about settledness makes available some principled lines of resistance to the argument for compatibilists about chance and determinism. Yet the costs of maintaining compatibilism may be higher with respect to this argument than with respect to existing incompatibilist arguments.
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