46 episodes

Mathematical Philosophy - the application of logical and mathematical methods in philosophy - is about to experience a tremendous boom in various areas of philosophy. At the new Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, which is funded mostly by the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, philosophical research will be carried out mathematically, that is, by means of methods that are very close to those used by the scientists.
The purpose of doing philosophy in this way is not to reduce philosophy to mathematics or to natural science in any sense; rather mathematics is applied in order to derive philosophical conclusions from philosophical assumptions, just as in physics mathematical methods are used to derive physical predictions from physical laws.
Nor is the idea of mathematical philosophy to dismiss any of the ancient questions of philosophy as irrelevant or senseless: although modern mathematical philosophy owes a lot to the heritage of the Vienna and Berlin Circles of Logical Empiricism, unlike the Logical Empiricists most mathematical philosophers today are driven by the same traditional questions about truth, knowledge, rationality, the nature of objects, morality, and the like, which were driving the classical philosophers, and no area of traditional philosophy is taken to be intrinsically misguided or confused anymore. It is just that some of the traditional questions of philosophy can be made much clearer and much more precise in logical-mathematical terms, for some of these questions answers can be given by means of mathematical proofs or models, and on this basis new and more concrete philosophical questions emerge. This may then lead to philosophical progress, and ultimately that is the goal of the Center.

MCMP – Epistemology Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

    • Philosophy

Mathematical Philosophy - the application of logical and mathematical methods in philosophy - is about to experience a tremendous boom in various areas of philosophy. At the new Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, which is funded mostly by the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, philosophical research will be carried out mathematically, that is, by means of methods that are very close to those used by the scientists.
The purpose of doing philosophy in this way is not to reduce philosophy to mathematics or to natural science in any sense; rather mathematics is applied in order to derive philosophical conclusions from philosophical assumptions, just as in physics mathematical methods are used to derive physical predictions from physical laws.
Nor is the idea of mathematical philosophy to dismiss any of the ancient questions of philosophy as irrelevant or senseless: although modern mathematical philosophy owes a lot to the heritage of the Vienna and Berlin Circles of Logical Empiricism, unlike the Logical Empiricists most mathematical philosophers today are driven by the same traditional questions about truth, knowledge, rationality, the nature of objects, morality, and the like, which were driving the classical philosophers, and no area of traditional philosophy is taken to be intrinsically misguided or confused anymore. It is just that some of the traditional questions of philosophy can be made much clearer and much more precise in logical-mathematical terms, for some of these questions answers can be given by means of mathematical proofs or models, and on this basis new and more concrete philosophical questions emerge. This may then lead to philosophical progress, and ultimately that is the goal of the Center.

    • video
    Reasoning biases and non-monotonic logics

    Reasoning biases and non-monotonic logics

    Catarina Dutilh Novaes (Groningen) gives a talk at the MCMP Colloquium (24 January, 2013) titled "Reasoning biases and non-monotonic logics". Abstract: Stenning and van Lambalgen (2008) have argued that much of what is described in the psychology of reasoning literature as `reasoning biases' can more accurately be accounted for by means of the concept of defeasible, non-monotonic reasoning. They rely on the AI framework of closed-world reasoning as the formal background for their investigations. In my talk, I give continuation to the project of reassessing reasoning biases from a non-monotonic point of view, but use instead the semantic approach to non-monotonic logics presented in Shoham (1987), known as preferential semantics. I focus in particular on the so-called belief-bias effect and the Modus Ponens-Modus Tollens asymmetry. The ease with which these reasoning patterns are accounted for from a defeasible reasoning point of view lends support to the claim that (untrained) human reasoning has a strong component of defeasibility. I conclude with some remarks on Marr’s ‘three levels of analysis’ and the role of formal frameworks for the empirical investigation of human reasoning.

    • 59 min
    • video
    Reasons to Believe and Reasons to not

    Reasons to Believe and Reasons to not

    Jake Chandler (Leuven) gives a talk at the MCMP Colloquium (6 February, 2013) titled "Reasons to Believe and Reasons to not." Abstract: The provision of a precise, formal treatment of the relation of evidential relevance–i.e. of providing a reason to hold or to withhold a belief–has arguably constituted the principal selling point of Bayesian modeling in contemporary epistemology and philosophy of science. By the same token, the lack of an analogous proposal in so-called AGM belief revision theory, a powerful and elegant qualitative alternative to the Bayesian framework, is likely to have significantly contributed to its relatively marginal status in the philosophical mainstream.

    In the present talk, I sketch out a corrective to this deficiency, offering a suggestion, within the context of belief revision theory, concerning the relation between beliefs about evidential relevance and commitments to certain policies of belief change. Aside from shedding light on the status of various important evidential ‘transmission’ principles, this proposal also constitutes a promising basis for the elaboration of a logic of so-called epistemic defeaters.

    • 58 min
    • video
    Garber and Field Conditionalization

    Garber and Field Conditionalization

    Benjamin Bewersdorf (Konstanz) gives a talk at the MCMP Colloquium (23 January, 2013) titled "Garber and Field Conditionalization ". Abstract: The most influential formal account on rational belief change is Jeffrey conditionalization. Given a plausible assumption on the role of experiences for belief change, Jeffrey conditionalization turns out to be incomplete. Field tried to complete Jeffrey conditionalization by adding an input law to it. But, as Garber has pointed out, the resulting theory has a serious weakness. In the following, I will both generalize Garber's objection against Field's account and show how Field's account can be modified to avoid it.

    • 48 min
    • video
    How to be a truthy psychologist about evidence

    How to be a truthy psychologist about evidence

    Veli Mitova (Vienna) gives a talk at the MCMP Colloquium (6 June, 2013) titled "How to be a truthy psychologist about evidence". Abstract: I defend the view that the only things that count as evidence for belief are factive tokens of psychological states. I first assume that the evidence for p can sometimes be a good reason to believe that p. I then argue, with some help from metaethics 101, that a reason is a beast of two burdens: it must be capable of being both a good reason and a motive. I then show that truthy psychologism is the only position that can honour The Beast of Two Burdens Thesis, without ruffling our pre-101 intuitions about good reasons, motives, and explanations.

    • 53 min
    • video
    Structure Induction in Diagnostic Causal Reasoning

    Structure Induction in Diagnostic Causal Reasoning

    Michael R. Waldmann (Göttingen) gives a talk at the MCMP Colloquium (23 April, 2014) titled "Structure Induction in Diagnostic Causal Reasoning". Abstract: Our research examines the normative and descriptive adequacy of alternative computational models of diagnostic reasoning from single effects to single causes. Many theories of diagnostic reasoning are based on the normative assumption that inferences from an effect to its cause should reflect solely the empirically observed conditional probability of cause given effect. We argue against this assumption, as it neglects alternative causal structures that may have generated the sample data. Our structure induction model of diagnostic reasoning takes into account the uncertainty regarding the underlying causal structure. A key prediction of the model is that diagnostic judgments should not only reflect the empirical probability of cause given effect but should also depend on the reasoner’s beliefs about the existence and strength of the link between cause and effect. We confirmed this prediction in two studies and showed that our theory better accounts for human judgments than alternative theories of diagnostic reasoning. Overall, our findings support the view that in diagnostic reasoning people go “beyond the information given” and use the available data to make inferences on the (unobserved) causal, rather than on the (observed) data level.

    • 59 min
    • video
    Epistemically Detrimental Dissent and the Milian Argument against the Freedom of Inquiry

    Epistemically Detrimental Dissent and the Milian Argument against the Freedom of Inquiry

    Anna Leuschner (KIT) gives a talk at the MCMP Colloquium (9 April, 2014) titled "Epistemically Detrimental Dissent and the Milian Argument against the Freedom of Inquiry". Abstract: I'll present a joint work that I have been conducting with Justin Biddle. The idea of epistemically problematic dissent is counterintuitive at first glance; as Mill argues, even misguided dissent from a consensus position can be epistemically fruitful as it can lead to a deeper understanding of consensus positions. Yet, focusing on climate science we argue that dissent can be epistemically problematic when it leads to a distortion of risk assessment in mainstream science. I'll examine the conditions under which dissent in science is epistemically detrimental, provide empirical support for this finding, and conclude with a discussion on normative consequences of these findings by considering Philip Kitcher’s "Millian argument against the freedom of inquiry".

    • 41 min

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