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Matthew Kopec
Northeastern University
  1. When Rational Reasoners Reason Differently.Michael G. Titelbaum & Matthew Kopec - manuscript
    Different people reason differently, which means that sometimes they reach different conclusions from the same evidence. We maintain that this is not only natural, but rational. In this essay we explore the epistemology of that state of affairs. First we will canvass arguments for and against the claim that rational methods of reasoning must always reach the same conclusions from the same evidence. Then we will consider whether the acknowledgment that people have divergent rational reasoning methods should undermine one’s confidence (...)
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  2. Plausible Permissivism.Michael G. Titelbaum & Matthew Kopec - manuscript
    Abstract. Richard Feldman’s Uniqueness Thesis holds that “a body of evidence justifies at most one proposition out of a competing set of proposi- tions”. The opposing position, permissivism, allows distinct rational agents to adopt differing attitudes towards a proposition given the same body of evidence. We assess various motivations that have been offered for Uniqueness, including: concerns about achieving consensus, a strong form of evidentialism, worries about epistemically arbitrary influences on belief, a focus on truth-conduciveness, and consequences for peer disagreement. (...)
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  3. Clines, Clusters, and Clades in the Race Debate.Matthew Kopec - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (5):1053-1065.
    Although there once was a general consensus among race scholars that applying race categories to humans is biologically illegitimate, this consensus has been erased over the past decade. This is largely due to advances in population genetics that allow biologists to pick out genetic population clusters that approximate some of our common sense racial categories. In this paper, I argue that this new ability really ought not undermine our confidence in the biological illegitimacy of the human races. Unfortunately, the claim (...)
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  4. A More Fulfilling (and Frustrating) Take on Reflexive Predictions.Matthew Kopec - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (5):1249-1259.
    Even though social scientists continue to discuss the problems posed by self-fulfilling and self-frustrating predictions, philosophers of science have ignored the topic since the 1970s. Back then, the prevailing view was that the methodological problems posed by reflexive predictions are either minor or easily avoided. I believe that this consensus was premature, ultimately relying on an overly narrow understanding of the phenomenon. I present an improved way to understand reflexive predictions (framed in probabilistic terms) and show that, once such predictions (...)
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  5. Game Theory and the Self-Fulfilling Climate Tragedy.Matthew Kopec - 2017 - Environmental Values 26 (2):203-221.
    Game theorists tend to model climate negotiations as a so-called ‘tragedy of the commons’. This is rather worrisome, since the conditions under which such commons problems have historically been solved are almost entirely absent in the case of international greenhouse gas emissions. In this paper, I will argue that the predictive accuracy of the tragedy model might not stem from the model’s inherent match with reality but rather from the model’s ability to make self-fulfilling predictions. I then sketch some possible (...)
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  6. No Harm Done? An Experimental Approach to the Non-Identity Problem.Matthew Kopec & Justin P. Bruner - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
    Discussions of the non-identity problem presuppose a widely shared intuition that actions or policies that change who comes into existence don't, thereby, become morally unproblematic. We hypothesize that this intuition isn’t generally shared by the public, which could have widespread implications concerning how to generate support for large-scale, identity-affecting policies relating to matters like climate change. To test this, we ran a version of the well-known dictator game designed to mimic the public's behavior over identity-affecting choices. We found the public (...)
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  7.  49
    Informational Quality Labeling on Social Media: In Defense of a Social Epistemology Strategy.John P. Wihbey, Matthew Kopec & Ronald Sandler - manuscript
    Social media platforms have been rapidly increasing the number of informational labels they are appending to user-generated content in order to indicate the disputed nature of messages or to provide context. The rise of this practice constitutes an important new chapter in social media governance, as companies are often choosing this new “middle way” between a laissez-faire approach and more drastic remedies such as removing or downranking content. Yet information labeling as a practice has, thus far, been mostly tactical, reactive, (...)
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