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Emily Sullivan
Eindhoven University of Technology
Emily Sullivan
Saginaw Valley State University
  1. Understanding From Machine Learning Models.Emily Sullivan - 2022 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 73 (1):109-133.
    Simple idealized models seem to provide more understanding than opaque, complex, and hyper-realistic models. However, an increasing number of scientists are going in the opposite direction by utilizing opaque machine learning models to make predictions and draw inferences, suggesting that scientists are opting for models that have less potential for understanding. Are scientists trading understanding for some other epistemic or pragmatic good when they choose a machine learning model? Or are the assumptions behind why minimal models provide understanding misguided? In (...)
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  2. Vulnerability in Social Epistemic Networks.Emily Sullivan, Max Sondag, Ignaz Rutter, Wouter Meulemans, Scott Cunningham, Bettina Speckmann & Mark Alfano - 2020 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 28 (5):1-23.
    Social epistemologists should be well-equipped to explain and evaluate the growing vulnerabilities associated with filter bubbles, echo chambers, and group polarization in social media. However, almost all social epistemology has been built for social contexts that involve merely a speaker-hearer dyad. Filter bubbles, echo chambers, and group polarization all presuppose much larger and more complex network structures. In this paper, we lay the groundwork for a properly social epistemology that gives the role and structure of networks their due. In particular, (...)
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  3. Negative Epistemic Exemplars.Mark Alfano & Emily Sullivan - 2019 - In Benjamin Sherman & Stacey Goguen (eds.), Overcoming Epistemic Injustice: Social and Psychological Perspectives. Rowman & Littlefield.
    In this chapter, we address the roles that exemplars might play in a comprehensive response to epistemic injustice. Fricker defines epistemic injustices as harms people suffer specifically in their capacity as (potential) knowers. We focus on testimonial epistemic injustice, which occurs when someone’s assertoric speech acts are systematically met with either too little or too much credence by a biased audience. Fricker recommends a virtue­theoretic response: people who do not suffer from biases should try to maintain their disposition towards naive (...)
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  4. Universality Caused: The Case of Renormalization Group Explanation.Emily Sullivan - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (3):36.
    Recently, many have argued that there are certain kinds of abstract mathematical explanations that are noncausal. In particular, the irrelevancy approach suggests that abstracting away irrelevant causal details can leave us with a noncausal explanation. In this paper, I argue that the common example of Renormalization Group explanations of universality used to motivate the irrelevancy approach deserves more critical attention. I argue that the reasons given by those who hold up RG as noncausal do not stand up to critical scrutiny. (...)
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  5. Inductive Risk, Understanding, and Opaque Machine Learning Models.Emily Sullivan - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-13.
    Under what conditions does machine learning (ML) model opacity inhibit the possibility of explaining and understanding phenomena? In this paper, I argue that non-epistemic values give shape to the ML opacity problem even if we keep researcher interests fixed. Treating ML models as an instance of doing model-based science to explain and understand phenomena reveals that there is (i) an external opacity problem, where the presence of inductive risk imposes higher standards on externally validating models, and (ii) an internal opacity (...)
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  6. Vectors of Epistemic Insecurity.Emily Sullivan & Mark Alfano - 2020 - In Ian James Kidd, Heather Battaly & Quassim Cassam (eds.), Vice Epistemology: Theory and Practice. Routledge.
    Epistemologists have addressed a variety of modal epistemic standings, such as sensitivity, safety, risk, and epistemic virtue. These concepts mark out the ways that beliefs can fail to track the truth, articulate the conditions needed for knowledge, and indicate ways to become a better epistemic agent. However, it is our contention that current ways of carving up epistemic modality ignore the complexities that emerge when individuals are embedded within a community and listening to a variety of sources, some of whom (...)
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  7.  67
    From Explanation to Recommendation: Ethical Standards for Algorithmic Recourse.Emily Sullivan & Philippe Verreault-Julien - forthcoming - Proceedings of the 2022 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society (AIES’22).
    People are increasingly subject to algorithmic decisions, and it is generally agreed that end-users should be provided an explanation or rationale for these decisions. There are different purposes that explanations can have, such as increasing user trust in the system or allowing users to contest the decision. One specific purpose that is gaining more traction is algorithmic recourse. We first pro- pose that recourse should be viewed as a recommendation problem, not an explanation problem. Then, we argue that the capability (...)
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  8.  88
    Motivated Numeracy and Active Reasoning in a Western European Sample.Paul Connor, Emily Sullivan, Mark Alfano & Nava Tintarev - 2020 - Behavioral Public Policy 1.
    Recent work by Kahan et al. (2017) on the psychology of motivated numeracy in the context of intracultural disagreement suggests that people are less likely to employ their capabilities when the evidence runs contrary to their political ideology. This research has so far been carried out primarily in the USA regarding the liberal–conservative divide over gun control regulation. In this paper, we present the results of a modified replication that included an active reasoning intervention with Western European participants regarding both (...)
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  9.  39
    The Wisdom-of-Crowds: An Efficient, Philosophically-Validated, Social Epistemological Network Profiling Toolkit.Colin Klein, Marc Cheong, Marinus Ferreira, Emily Sullivan & Mark Alfano - forthcoming - In Hocine Cherifi, Rosario Nunzio Mantegna, Luis M. Rocha, Chantal Cherifi & Salvatore Micciche (eds.), Complex Networks & Their Applications XI: Proceedings of The Eleventh International Conference on Complex Networks and their Applications: COMPLEX NETWORKS 2022 - Volume 1. Springer.
    The epistemic position of an agent often depends on their position in a larger network of other agents who provide them with information. In general, agents are better off if they have diverse and independent sources. Sullivan et al. [19] developed a method for quantitatively characterizing the epistemic position of individuals in a network that takes into account both diversity and independence; and presented a proof-of-concept, closed-source implementation on a small graph derived from Twitter data [19]. This paper reports on (...)
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  10. Can Real Social Epistemic Networks Deliver the Wisdom of Crowds?Emily Sullivan, Max Sondag, Ignaz Rutter, Wouter Meulemans, Scott Cunningham, Bettina Speckmann & Mark Alfano - forthcoming - In Tania Lombrozo, Joshua Knobe & Shaun Nichols (eds.), Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy, Volume 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    In this paper, we explain and showcase the promising methodology of testimonial network analysis and visualization for experimental epistemology, arguing that it can be used to gain insights and answer philosophical questions in social epistemology. Our use case is the epistemic community that discusses vaccine safety primarily in English on Twitter. In two studies, we show, using both statistical analysis and exploratory data visualization, that there is almost no neutral or ambivalent discussion of vaccine safety on Twitter. Roughly half the (...)
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  11. Humility in Networks.Mark Alfano & Emily Sullivan - forthcoming - In Alessandra Tanesini, Michael Lynch & Mark Alfano (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Humility. Routledge.
    What do humility, intellectual humility, and open-mindedness mean in the context of inter-group conflict? We spend most of our time with ingroup members, such as family, friends, and colleagues. Yet our biggest disagreements —— about practical, moral, and epistemic matters —— are likely to be with those who do not belong to our ingroup. An attitude of humility towards the former might be difficult to integrate with a corresponding attitude of humility towards the latter, leading to smug tribalism that masquerades (...)
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  12. A Normative Framework for Sharing Information Online.Emily Sullivan & Mark Alfano - 2021 - In Carissa Veliz (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Digital Ethics. Oxford University Press.
    People have always shared information through chains and networks of testimony. It’s arguably part of what makes us human and enables us to live in cooperative communities with populations greater than the Dunbar number. The invention of the Internet and the rise of social media have turbo-charged our ability to share information. In this chapter, we develop a normative framework for sharing information online. This framework takes into account both ethical and epistemic considerations that are intertwined in typical cases of (...)
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  13. Ethical Pitfalls for Natural Language Processing in Psychology.Mark Alfano, Emily Sullivan & Amir Ebrahimi Fard - forthcoming - In Morteza Dehghani & Ryan Boyd (eds.), The Atlas of Language Analysis in Psychology. Guilford Press.
    Knowledge is power. Knowledge about human psychology is increasingly being produced using natural language processing (NLP) and related techniques. The power that accompanies and harnesses this knowledge should be subject to ethical controls and oversight. In this chapter, we address the ethical pitfalls that are likely to be encountered in the context of such research. These pitfalls occur at various stages of the NLP pipeline, including data acquisition, enrichment, analysis, storage, and sharing. We also address secondary uses of the results (...)
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