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P. D. Magnus
State University of New York, Albany
  1. Realist Ennui and the Base Rate Fallacy.P. D. Magnus & Craig Callender - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (3):320-338.
    The no-miracles argument and the pessimistic induction are arguably the main considerations for and against scientific realism. Recently these arguments have been accused of embodying a familiar, seductive fallacy. In each case, we are tricked by a base rate fallacy, one much-discussed in the psychological literature. In this paper we consider this accusation and use it as an explanation for why the two most prominent `wholesale' arguments in the literature seem irresolvable. Framed probabilistically, we can see very clearly why realists (...)
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  2.  57
    NK≠HPC.P. D. Magnus - 2014 - Philosophical Quarterly 64 (256):471-477.
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  3.  80
    What Scientists Know Is Not a Function of What Scientists Know.P. D. Magnus - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (5):840-849.
    There are two senses of ‘what scientists know’: An individual sense (the separate opinions of individual scientists) and a collective sense (the state of the discipline). The latter is what matters for policy and planning, but it is not something that can be directly observed or reported. A function can be defined to map individual judgments onto an aggregate judgment. I argue that such a function cannot effectively capture community opinion, especially in cases that matter to us.
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  4.  52
    Drakes, Seadevils, and Similarity Fetishism.P. D. Magnus - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (6):857-870.
    Homeostatic property clusters (HPCs) are offered as a way of understanding natural kinds, especially biological species. I review the HPC approach and then discuss an objection by Ereshefsky and Matthen, to the effect that an HPC qua cluster seems ill-fitted as a description of a polymorphic species. The standard response by champions of the HPC approach is to say that all members of a polymorphic species have things in common, namely dispositions or conditional properties. I argue that this response fails. (...)
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  5.  33
    Science, Values, and the Priority of Evidence.P. D. Magnus - 2018 - Logos and Episteme 9 (4):413-431.
    It is now commonly held that values play a role in scientific judgment, but many arguments for that conclusion are limited. First, many arguments do not show that values are, strictly speaking, indispensable. The role of values could in principle be filled by a random or arbitrary decision. Second, many arguments concern scientific theories and concepts which have obvious practical consequences, thus suggesting or at least leaving open the possibility that abstruse sciences without such a connection could be value-free. Third, (...)
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  6. Inductions, Red Herrings, and the Best Explanation for the Mixed Record of Science.P. D. Magnus - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (4):803-819.
    Kyle Stanford has recently claimed to offer a new challenge to scientific realism. Taking his inspiration from the familiar Pessimistic Induction (PI), Stanford proposes a New Induction (NI). Contra Anjan Chakravartty’s suggestion that the NI is a ‘red herring’, I argue that it reveals something deep and important about science. The Problem of Unconceived Alternatives, which lies at the heart of the NI, yields a richer anti-realism than the PI. It explains why science falls short when it falls short, and (...)
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  7. What’s New About the New Induction?P. D. Magnus - 2006 - Synthese 148 (2):295-301.
    The problem of underdetermination is thought to hold important lessons for philosophy of science. Yet, as Kyle Stanford has recently argued, typical treatments of it offer only restatements of familiar philosophical problems. Following suggestions in Duhem and Sklar, Stanford calls for a New Induction from the history of science. It will provide proof, he thinks, of "the kind of underdetermination that the history of science reveals to be a distinctive and genuine threat to even our best scientific theories" . This (...)
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  8. Scientific Enquiry and Natural Kinds: From Planets to Mallards.P. D. Magnus - 2012 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    Some scientific categories seem to correspond to genuine features of the world and are indispensable for successful science in some domain; in short, they are natural kinds. This book gives a general account of what it is to be a natural kind and puts the account to work illuminating numerous specific examples.
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  9.  28
    That Some of Sol Lewitt's Later Wall Drawings Aren't Wall Drawings.P. D. Magnus - 2018 - Contemporary Aesthetics 16 (1).
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  10.  75
    State of the Field: Why Novel Prediction Matters.Heather Douglas & P. D. Magnus - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (4):580-589.
    There is considerable disagreement about the epistemic value of novel predictive success, i.e. when a scientist predicts an unexpected phenomenon, experiments are conducted, and the prediction proves to be accurate. We survey the field on this question, noting both fully articulated views such as weak and strong predictivism, and more nascent views, such as pluralist reasons for the instrumental value of prediction. By examining the various reasons offered for the value of prediction across a range of inferential contexts , we (...)
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  11. Art Concept Pluralism.Christy Mag Uidhir & P. D. Magnus - 2011 - Metaphilosophy 42 (1-2):83-97.
    Abstract: There is a long tradition of trying to analyze art either by providing a definition (essentialism) or by tracing its contours as an indefinable, open concept (anti-essentialism). Both art essentialists and art anti-essentialists share an implicit assumption of art concept monism. This article argues that this assumption is a mistake. Species concept pluralism—a well-explored position in philosophy of biology—provides a model for art concept pluralism. The article explores the conditions under which concept pluralism is appropriate, and argues that they (...)
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  12. John Stuart Mill on Taxonomy and Natural Kinds.P. D. Magnus - 2015 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5 (2):269-280.
    The accepted narrative treats John Stuart Mill’s Kinds as the historical prototype for our natural kinds, but Mill actually employs two separate notions: Kinds and natural groups. Considering these, along with the accounts of Mill’s nineteenth-century interlocutors, forces us to recognize two distinct questions. First, what marks a natural kind as worthy of inclusion in taxonomy? Second, what exists in the world that makes a category meet that criterion? Mill’s two notions offer separate answers to the two questions: natural groups (...)
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  13.  62
    Underdetermination and the Claims of Science.P. D. Magnus - 2003 - Dissertation, University of California, San Diego
    The underdetermination of theory by evidence is supposed to be a reason to rethink science. It is not. Many authors claim that underdetermination has momentous consequences for the status of scientific claims, but such claims are hidden in an umbra of obscurity and a penumbra of equivocation. So many various phenomena pass for `underdetermination' that it's tempting to think that it is no unified phenomenon at all, so I begin by providing a framework within which all these worries can be (...)
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  14.  33
    Distributed Cognition and the Task of Science.P. D. Magnus - 2007 - Social Studies of Science 37 (2):297--310.
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  15. On Trusting Wikipedia.P. D. Magnus - 2009 - Episteme 6 (1):74-90.
    Given the fact that many people use Wikipedia, we should ask: Can we trust it? The empirical evidence suggests that Wikipedia articles are sometimes quite good but that they vary a great deal. As such, it is wrong to ask for a monolithic verdict on Wikipedia. Interacting with Wikipedia involves assessing where it is likely to be reliable and where not. I identify five strategies that we use to assess claims from other sources and argue that, to a greater of (...)
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  16. Are Digital Images Allographic?Jason D'cruz & P. D. Magnus - 2014 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 72 (4):417-427.
    Nelson Goodman's distinction between autographic and allographic arts is appealing, we suggest, because it promises to resolve several prima facie puzzles. We consider and rebut a recent argument that alleges that digital images explode the autographic/allographic distinction. Regardless, there is another familiar problem with the distinction, especially as Goodman formulates it: it seems to entirely ignore an important sense in which all artworks are historical. We note in reply that some artworks can be considered both as historical products and as (...)
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  17.  23
    No Grist for Mill on Natural Kinds.P. D. Magnus - 2014 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 2 (4).
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  18.  77
    Judging Covers.P. D. Magnus, Cristyn Magnus & Christy Mag Uidhir - 2013 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 71 (4):361-370.
    Cover versions form a loose but identifiable category of tracks and performances. We distinguish four kinds of covers and argue that they mark important differences in the modes of evaluation that are possible or appropriate for each: mimic covers, which aim merely to echo the canonical track; rendition covers, which change the sound of the canonical track; transformative covers, which diverge so much as to instantiate a distinct, albeit derivative song; and referential covers, which not only instantiate a distinct song, (...)
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  19. Reckoning the Shape of Everything: Underdetermination and Cosmotopology.P. D. Magnus - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (3):541-557.
    This paper offers a general characterization of underdetermination and gives a prima facie case for the underdetermination of the topology of the universe. A survey of several philosophical approaches to the problem fails to resolve the issue: the case involves the possibility of massive reduplication, but Strawson on massive reduplication provides no help here; it is not obvious that any of the rival theories are to be preferred on grounds of simplicity; and the usual talk of empirically equivalent theories misses (...)
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  20. Williamson on Knowledge and Psychological Explanation.P. D. Magnus & Jonathan Cohen - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 116 (1):37-52.
    According to many philosophers, psychological explanation canlegitimately be given in terms of belief and desire, but not in termsof knowledge. To explain why someone does what they do (so the common wisdom holds) you can appeal to what they think or what they want, but not what they know. Timothy Williamson has recently argued against this view. Knowledge, Williamson insists, plays an essential role in ordinary psychological explanation.Williamson's argument works on two fronts.First, he argues against the claim that, unlike knowledge, (...)
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  21.  53
    Kind of Borrowed, Kind of Blue.P. D. Magnus - 2016 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 74 (2):179-185.
    In late 2014, the jazz combo Mostly Other People Do the Killing released Blue—an album that is a note-for-note remake of Miles Davis's 1959 landmark album Kind of Blue. This is a thought experiment made concrete, raising metaphysical puzzles familiar from discussion of indiscernible counterparts. It is an actual album, rather than merely a concept, and so poses the aesthetic puzzle of why one would ever actually listen to it.
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  22.  50
    Success, Truth and the Galilean Strategy.P. D. Magnus - 2003 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (3):465-474.
    Philip Kitcher develops the Galilean Strategy to defend realism against its many opponents. I explore the structure of the Galilean Strategy and consider it specifically as an instrument against constructive empiricism. Kitcher claims that the Galilean Strategy underwrites an inference from success to truth. We should resist that conclusion, I argue, but the Galilean Strategy should lead us by other routes to believe in many things about which the empiricist would rather remain agnostic. 1 Target: empiricism 2 The Galilean Strategy (...)
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  23. The Identical Rivals Response to Underdetermination.Greg Frost-Arnold & P. D. Magnus - 2009 - In P. D. Magnus Jacob Busch (ed.), New Waves in Philosophy of Science. Palgrave-Macmillan.
    The underdetermination of theory by data obtains when, inescapably, evidence is insufficient to allow scientists to decide responsibly between rival theories. One response to would-be underdetermination is to deny that the rival theories are distinct theories at all, insisting instead that they are just different formulations of the same underlying theory; we call this the identical rivals response. An argument adapted from John Norton suggests that the response is presumptively always appropriate, while another from Larry Laudan and Jarrett Leplin suggests (...)
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  24.  80
    Demonstrative Induction and the Skeleton of Inference.P. D. Magnus - 2008 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 22 (3):303-315.
    It has been common wisdom for centuries that scientific inference cannot be deductive; if it is inference at all, it must be a distinctive kind of inductive inference. According to demonstrative theories of induction, however, important scientific inferences are not inductive in the sense of requiring ampliative inference rules at all. Rather, they are deductive inferences with sufficiently strong premises. General considerations about inferences suffice to show that there is no difference in justification between an inference construed demonstratively or ampliatively. (...)
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  25.  49
    Reid's Dilemma and the Uses of Pragmatism.P. D. Magnus - 2004 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 2 (1):69-72.
    Peter Baumann offers the tantalizing suggestion that Thomas Reid is almost, but not quite, a pragmatist. He motivates this claim by posing a dilemma for common sense philosophy: Will it be dogmatism or scepticism? Baumann claims that Reid points to but does not embrace a pragmatist third way between these unsavory options. If we understand `pragmatism' differently than Baumann does, however, we need not be so equivocal in attributing it to Reid. Reid makes what we could call an argument from (...)
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  26. Background Theories and Total Science.P. D. Magnus - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1064-1075.
    Background theories in science are used both to prove and to disprove that theory choice is underdetermined by data. The alleged proof appeals to the fact that experiments to decide between theories typically require auxiliary assumptions from other theories. If this generates a kind of underdetermination, it shows that standards of scientific inference are fallible and must be appropriately contextualized. The alleged disproof appeals to the possibility of suitable background theories to show that no theory choice can be timelessly or (...)
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  27.  60
    What Kind of Is-Ought Gap is There and What Kind Ought There Be?P. D. Magnus & Jon Mandle - 2017 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (4):373-393.
    Some philosophers think that there is a gap between is and ought which necessarily makes normative enquiry a different kind of thing than empirical science. This position gains support from our ability to explicate our inferential practices in a way that makes it impermissible to move from descriptive premises to a normative conclusion. But we can also explicate them in a way that allows such moves. So there is no categorical answer as to whether there is or is not a (...)
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  28.  38
    Friends with Benefits! Distributed Cognition Hooks Up Cognitive and Social Conceptions of Science.P. D. Magnus & Ron McClamrock - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (8):1114-1127.
    One approach to science treats science as a cognitive accomplishment of individuals and defines a scientific community as an aggregate of individual inquirers. Another treats science as a fundamentally collective endeavor and defines a scientist as a member of a scientific community. Distributed cognition has been offered as a framework that could be used to reconcile these two approaches. Adam Toon has recently asked if the cognitive and the social can be friends at last. He answers that they probably cannot, (...)
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  29.  80
    Underdetermination and the Problem of Identical Rivals.P. D. Magnus - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1256-1264.
    If two theory formulations are merely different expressions of the same theory, then any problem of choosing between them cannot be due to the underdetermination of theories by data. So one might suspect that we need to be able to tell distinct theories from mere alternate formulations before we can say anything substantive about underdetermination, that we need to solve the problem of identical rivals before addressing the problem of underdetermination. Here I consider two possible solutions: Quine proposes that we (...)
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  30. Reid's Defense of Common Sense.P. D. Magnus - 2008 - Philosophers' Imprint 8:1-14.
    Thomas Reid is often misread as defending common sense, if at all, only by relying on illicit premises about God or our natural faculties. On these theological or reliabilist misreadings, Reid makes common sense assertions where he cannot give arguments. This paper attempts to untangle Reid's defense of common sense by distinguishing four arguments: (a) the argument from madness, (b) the argument from natural faculties, (c) the argument from impotence, and (d) the argument from practical commitment. Of these, (a) and (...)
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  31. Peirce: Underdetermination, Agnosticism, and Related Mistakes.P. D. Magnus - 2005 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 48 (1):26 – 37.
    There are two ways that we might respond to the underdetermination of theory by data. One response, which we can call the agnostic response, is to suspend judgment: "Where scientific standards cannot guide us, we should believe nothing". Another response, which we can call the fideist response, is to believe whatever we would like to believe: "If science cannot speak to the question, then we may believe anything without science ever contradicting us". C.S. Peirce recognized these options and suggested evading (...)
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  32.  34
    Science and Rationality for One and All.P. D. Magnus - 2014 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 1.
    It seems obvious that a community of one thousand scientists working together to make discoveries and solve puzzles should arrange itself differently than would one thousand scientist-hermits working independently. Because of limited time, resources, and attention, an independent scientist can explore only some of the possible approaches to a problem. Working alone, each hermit would explore the most promising approaches. They would needlessly duplicate the work of others and would be unlikely to develop approaches which look unpromising but really have (...)
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  33.  57
    Hormone Research as an Exemplar of Underdetermination.P. D. Magnus - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (3):559-567.
    Debates about the underdetermination of theory by data often turn on specific examples. Cases invoked often enough become familiar, even well worn. Since Helen Longino’s discussion of the case, the connection between prenatal hormone levels and gender-linked childhood behaviour has become one of these stock examples. However, as I argue here, the case is not genuinely underdetermined. We can easily imagine a possible experiment to decide the question. The fact that we would not perform this experiment is a moral, rather (...)
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  34.  70
    Regarding Scientific Significance.P. D. Magnus - manuscript
    A discussion and qualified defense of Philip Kitcher on scientific significance and ‘well-ordered science.’ (Qualified because I argue that Kitcher’s position is made unstable by his reliance on the largely unanalyzed notion of natural curiosity.).
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  35.  51
    What SPECIES Can Teach Us About THEORY.P. D. Magnus - manuscript
    This paper argues against the common, often implicit view that theories are some specific kind of thing. Instead, I argue for theory concept pluralism: There are multiple distinct theory concepts which we legitimately use in different domains and for different purposes, and we should not expect this to change. The argument goes by analogy with species concept pluralism, a familiar position in philosophy of biology. I conclude by considering some consequences for philosophy of science if theory concept pluralism is correct.
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  36.  59
    The Price of Insisting That Quantum Mechanics is Complete.P. D. Magnus - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2):257-267.
    The Bare Theory was offered by David Albert as a way of standing by the completeness of quantum mechanics in the face of the measurement problem. This paper surveys objections to the Bare Theory that recur in the literature: what will here be called the oddity objection, the coherence objection, and the context-of-the-universe objection. Critics usually take the Bare Theory to have unacceptably bizarre consequences, but to be free from internal contradiction. Bizarre consequences need not be decisive against the Bare (...)
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  37.  30
    Mag Uidhir on Performance.P. D. Magnus - 2008 - British Journal of Aesthetics 48 (3):338-345.
    Christy Mag Uidhir has recently argued (a) that there is no in principle aesthetic difference between a live performance and a recording of that performance, and (b) that the proper aesthetic object is a type which is instantiated by the performance and potentially repeatable when recordings are played back. This paper considers several objections to (a) and finds them lacking. I then consider improvised music, a subject that Mag Uidhir explicitly brackets in his discussion. Improvisation reveals problems with (b), because (...)
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  38.  22
    Miracles, Trust, and Ennui in Barnes’ Predictivism.P. D. Magnus - 2011 - Logos and Episteme 2 (1):103-114.
    Eric Barnes’ The Paradox of Predictivism is concerned primarily with two facts: predictivism and pluralism. In the middle part of the book, he peers through these two lenses at the tired realist scarecrow of the no-miracles argument. He attempts to reanimate this weatherworn realist argument, contra suggestions by people like me that it should be abandoned. In this paper, I want to get clear on Barnes’ contribution to the debate. He focuses on what he calls the miraculous endorsement argument, which (...)
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  39.  69
    Reality, Sex, and Cyberspace.P. D. Magnus - 2000 - In MacHack conference proceedings.
    Typical discussions of virtual reality (VR) fixate on technology for providing sensory stimulation of a certain kind. They thus fail to understand reality as the place wherein we live and work, misunderstanding it instead as merely a sort of presentation. The first half of the paper examines popular conceptions of VR. The most common conception is a shallow one according to which VR is a matter of simulating appearances. Yet there is, even in popular depictions, a second, more subtle conception (...)
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  40.  29
    Preserving the Autographic/Allographic Distinction.Jason D'Cruz & P. D. Magnus - 2015 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 73 (4):453-457.
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  41.  14
    Epistemic Categories and Causal Kinds.P. D. Magnus - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48:263-266.
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  42.  16
    Historical Individuals Like Anas Platyrhynchos and 'Classical Gas'.P. D. Magnus - 2013 - In Christy Mag Uidhir (ed.), Art and Abstract Objects. Oxford University Press. pp. 108.
    In this paper, I explore and defend the idea that musical works are historical individuals. Guy Rohrbaugh (2003) proposes this for works of art in general. Julian Dodd (2007) objects that the whole idea is outré metaphysics, that it is too far beyond the pale to be taken seriously. Their disagreement could be seen as a skirmish in the broader war between revisionists and reactionaries, a conflict about which of metaphysics and art should trump the other when there is a (...)
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  43.  19
    Forall X: Calgary Remix.P. D. Magnus, Tim Button, Aaron Thomas-Bolduc & Richard Zach - 2018 - CreateSpace.
    Introduction to truth-functional and first-order logic.
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  44. Forall X: An Introduction to Formal Logic.P. D. Magnus - 2005
    An introduction to sentential logic and first-order predicate logic with identity, logical systems that significantly influenced twentieth-century analytic philosophy. After working through the material in this book, a student should be able to understand most quantified expressions that arise in their philosophical reading. -/- This books treats symbolization, formal semantics, and proof theory for each language. The discussion of formal semantics is more direct than in many introductory texts. Although forall x does not contain proofs of soundness and completeness, it (...)
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  45. Forall X (UBC Edition).P. D. Magnus & Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa - 2019 - Creative Commons: Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.
    This is an open-access introductory logic textbook, prepared by Jonathan Ichikawa, based on P.D. Magnus's forallx. This (v1.1, February 2019) is intended as a stable, ready-for-teaching edition.
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