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  • 1.
    Angere, Staffan
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
    The defeasible nature of coherentist justification2007In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 157, no 3, p. 321-335Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The impossibility results of Bovens and Hartmann (2003, Bayesian epistemology. Oxford: Clarendon Press) and Olsson (2005, Against coherence: Truth, probability and justification. Oxford: Oxford University Press.) show that the link between coherence and probability is not as strong as some have supposed. This paper is an attempt to bring out a way in which coherence reasoning nevertheless can be justified, based on the idea that, even if it does not provide an infallible guide to probability, it can give us an indication thereof. It is further shown that this actually is the case, for several of the coherence measures discussed in the literature so far. We also discuss how this affects the possibility to use coherence as a means of epistemic justification.

  • 2.
    Cantwell, John
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
    Conditionals in causal decision theory2013In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 190, no 4, p. 661-679Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper explores the possibility that causal decision theory can be formulated in terms of probabilities of conditionals. It is argued that a generalized Stalnaker semantics in combination with an underlying branching time structure not only provides the basis for a plausible account of the semantics of indicative conditionals, but also that the resulting conditionals have properties that make them well-suited as a basis for formulating causal decision theory. Decision theory (at least if we omit the frills) is not an esoteric science, however unfamiliar it may seem to an outsider. Rather it is a systematic exposition of the consequences of certain well-chosen platitudes about belief, desire, preference and choice. It is the very core of our common-sense theory of persons, dissected out and elegantly systematized. (David Lewis, Synthese 23:331-344, 1974, p. 337). A small distortion in the analysis of the conditional may create spurious problems with the analysis of other concepts. So if the facts about usage favor one among a number of subtly different theories, it may be important to determine which one it is.

  • 3.
    Cantwell, John
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy.
    Conditionals in reasoning2009In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 171, no 1, p. 47-75Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The paper presents a non-monotonic inference relation on a language containing a conditional that satisfies the Ramsey Test. The logic is a weakening of classical logic and preserves many of the 'paradoxes of implication' associated with the material implication. It is argued, however, that once one makes the proper distinction between supposing that something is the case and accepting that it is the case, these 'paradoxes' cease to be counterintuitive. A representation theorem is provided where conditionals are given a non-bivalent semantics and epistemic states are represented via preferential models.

  • 4.
    Cantwell, John
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy.
    On an alleged counter-example to causal decision theory2010In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 173, no 2, p. 127-152Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    An alleged counterexample to causal decision theory, put forward by Andy Egan, is studied in some detail. It is argued that Egan rejects the evaluation of causal decision theory on the basis of a description of the decision situation that is different from-indeed inconsistent with-the description on which causal decision theory makes its evaluation. So the example is not a counterexample to causal decision theory. Nevertheless, the example shows that causal decision theory can recommend unratifiable acts (acts that once decided upon appear sub-optimal) which presents a problem in the dynamics of intentions (as a decision is the forming of an intention to act). It is argued that we can defuse this problem if we hold that decision theory is a theory of rational decision making rather than a theory of rational acts. It is shown how decisions can have epistemic side-effects that are not mediated by the act and that there are cases where one can only bring oneself to perform the best act by updating by imaging rather than by conditioning. This provides a pragmatic argument for updating by imaging rather than by conditioning in these cases.

  • 5.
    Clausen Mork, Jonas
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
    Uncertainty, credal sets and second order probability2013In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 190, no 3, p. 353-378Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The last 20 years or so has seen an intense search carried out within Dempster–Shafer theory, with the aim of finding a generalization of the Shannon entropy for belief functions. In that time, there has also been much progress made in credal set theory—another generalization of the traditional Bayesian epistemic representation—albeit not in this particular area. In credal set theory, sets of probability functions are utilized to represent the epistemic state of rational agents instead of the single probability function of traditional Bayesian theory. The Shannon entropy has been shown to uniquely capture certain highly intuitive properties of uncertainty, and can thus be considered a measure of that quantity. This article presents two measures developed with the purpose of generalizing the Shannon entropy for (1) unordered convex credal sets and (2) possibly non-convex credal sets ordered by second order probability, thereby providing uncertainty measures for such epistemic representations. There is also a comparison with the results of the measure AU developed within Dempster–Shafer theory in a few instances where unordered convex credal set theory and Dempster–Shafer theory overlap.

  • 6. Espinoza, Nicolas
    The small improvement argument2008In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 65, no 1, p. 127-139Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

     It is commonly assumed that moral deliberation requires that the alternatives available in a choice situation are evaluatively comparable. This comparability assumption is threatened by claims of incomparability, which is often established by means of the small improvement argument (SIA). In this paper I argue that SIA does not establish incomparability in a stricter sense. The reason is that it fails to distinguish incomparability from a kind of evaluative indeterminacy which may arise due to the vagueness of the evaluative comparatives 'better than,' 'worse than,' and 'equally as good as'.

  • 7.
    Grüne-Yanoff, Till
    Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki.
    Preference Change and Conservatism: comparing the Bayesian and the AGM models of preference revision2012In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 190, no 14, p. 2623-2641Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Richard Bradley's Bayesian model of preference kinematics is compared with Sven Ove Hansson's AGM-style model of preference revision. Both seek to model the revision of preference orders as a consequence of retaining consistency when some preferences change. Both models are often interpreted normatively, as giving advice on how an agent should revise her preferences. I raise four criticisms of the Bayesian model: it is unrealistic; it neglects an important change mechanism; it disregards endogenous information relevant to preference change, in particular about similarity and incompleteness; and its representational framework, when expanded with similarity comparisons, may give misleading advice. These criticisms are based on a principle of conservatism, and on two proposals of similarity metrics for the Bayesian model. The performance of the Bayesian model, with and without the similarity metrics, is then tested in three different cases of preference change, and compared to the performance of the AGM model.

  • 8.
    Grüne-Yanoff, Till
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
    The Explanatory Potential of Artificial Societies2001In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 169, p. 539-555Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 9.
    Gustafsson, Johan E.
    et al.
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
    Peterson, Martin
    A computer simulation of the argument from disagreement2012In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 184, no 3, p. 387-405Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper we shed new light on the Argument from Disagreement by putting it to test in a computer simulation. According to this argument widespread and persistent disagreement on ethical issues indicates that our moral opinions are not influenced by any moral facts, either because no such facts exist or because they are epistemically inaccessible or inefficacious for some other reason. Our simulation shows that if our moral opinions were influenced at least a little bit by moral facts, we would quickly have reached consensus, even if our moral opinions were affected by factors such as false authorities, external political shifts, and random processes. Therefore, since no such consensus has been reached, the simulation gives us increased reason to take seriously the Argument from Disagreement. Our conclusion is however not conclusive; the simulation also indicates what assumptions one has to make in order to reject the Argument from Disagreement. The simulation algorithm we use builds on the work of Hegselmann and Krause (J Artif Soc Social Simul 5(3); 2002, J Artif Soc Social Simul 9(3), 2006).

  • 10.
    Hansson, Sven Ove
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy.
    Category-specified value statements2006In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 148, no 2, p. 425-432Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    A value statement such as she is a good teacher is categoryspecified, i.e., the criteria of evaluation are specified as those that are applicable to a given category, in this case the category of teachers. In this study of categoryspecified value statements, certain categories are identified that cannot be used to specify value aspects. Special attention is paid to categories that are constituted by functional characteristics. The logical properties of value statements that refer to such categories are shown to differ significantly from the corresponding properties in social choice theory.

  • 11.
    Hansson, Sven Ove
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
    From the casino to the jungle: Dealing with uncertainty in technological risk management2009In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 168, no 3, p. 423-432Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Clear-cut cases of decision-making under risk (known probabilities) are unusual in real life. The gambler's decisions at the roulette table are as close as we can get to this type of decision-making. In contrast, decision-making under uncertainty (unknown probabilities) can be exemplified by a decision whether to enter a jungle that may contain unknown dangers. Life is usually more like an expedition into an unknown jungle than a visit to the casino. Nevertheless, it is common in decision-supporting disciplines to proceed as if reasonably reliable probability estimates were available for all possible outcomes, i.e. as if the prevailing epistemic conditions were analogous to those of gambling at the roulette table. This mistake can be called the tuxedo fallacy. It is argued that traditional engineering practices such as safety factors and multiple safety barriers avoid this fallacy and that they therefore manage uncertainty better than probabilistic risk analysis (PRA). PRA is a useful tool, but it must be supplemented with other methods in order not to limit the analysis to dangers that can be assigned meaningful probability estimates.

  • 12.
    Hansson, Sven Ove
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
    Maximal and perimaximal contraction2013In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 190, no 16, p. 3325-3348Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Generalizations of partial meet contraction are introduced that start out from the observation that only some of the logically closed subsets of the original belief set are at all viable as contraction outcomes. Belief contraction should proceed by selection among these viable options. Several contraction operators that are based on such selection mechanisms are introduced and then axiomatically characterized. These constructions are more general than the belief base approach. It is shown that partial meet contraction is exactly characterized by adding to one of these constructions the condition that all logically closed subsets of the belief set can be obtained as the outcome of a single (multiple) contraction. Examples are provided showing the counter-intuitive consequences of that condition, thus confirming the credibility of the proposed generalization of the AGM framework.

  • 13.
    Hansson, Sven Ove
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy.
    Multiple and iterated contraction reduced to single-step single-sentence contraction2010In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 173, no 2, p. 153-177Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Multiple contraction (simultaneous contraction by several sentences) and iterated contraction are investigated in the framework of specified meet contraction (s.m.c.) that is extended for this purpose. Multiple contraction is axiomatized, and so is finitely multiple contraction (contraction by a finite set of sentences). Two ways to reduce finitely multiple contraction to contraction by single sentences are introduced. The reduced operations are axiomatically characterized and their properties are investigated. Furthermore, it is shown how iterated contraction can be reduced to single-step, single-sentence contraction. However, in this framework the outcome of iterated contraction depends unavoidably on the order in which the inputs are received. This order-dependence makes it impossible to treat two inputs on an equal footing. Therefore it is often preferable to perform changes involving several pieces of information as multiple rather than iterated change.

  • 14.
    Hansson, Sven Ove
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy.
    Preference-based choice functions: a generalized approach2009In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 171, no 2, p. 257-269Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Although choice and preference are distinct categories, it may in some contexts be a useful idealization to treat choices as fully determined by preferences. In order to construct a general model of such preference-based choice, a method to derive choices from preferences is needed that yields reasonable outcomes for all preference relations, even those that are incomplete and contain cycles. A generalized choice function is introduced for this purpose. It is axiomatically characterized and is shown to compare favourably with alternative constructions.

  • 15.
    Hansson, Sven Ove
    et al.
    KTH, Superseded Departments, History of Science and Technology.
    Helgesson, G.
    What is stability?2003In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 136, no 2, p. 219-235Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Although stability is a central notion in several academic disciplines, the parallels remain unexplored since previous discussions of the concept have been almost exclusively subject-specific. In the literature we have found three basic concepts of stability, that we call constancy, robustness, and resilience. They are all found in both the natural and the social sciences. To analyze the three concepts we introduce a general formal framework in which stability relates to transitions between states. It can then be shown that robustness is a limiting case of resilience, whereas neither constancy nor resilience can be defined in terms of the other. Hence, there are two basic concepts of stability, both of which are used in both the social and the natural sciences. This congruence in the concepts of stability is of particular interest for endeavours to construct models that represent both natural and social phenomena.

  • 16.
    Lundgren, Björn
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
    Does Semantic Information Need to be Truthful?2017In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The concept of information has well-known difficulties. Among the many issues that have been discussed is the alethic nature of a semantic conception of information. Floridi (Minds Mach 14(2):197–222, 2004; Philos Phenomenol Res 70:351–370, 2005; EUJAP 3(1):31–41, 2007; The philosophy of information, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011) argued that semantic information must be truthful. In this article, arguments will be presented in favor of an alethically neutral conception of semantic information and it will be shown that such a conception can withstand Floridi’s criticism. In particular, it is argued that an alethically neutral conception of semantic information can manage the so-called Bar-Hillel Carnap paradox, according to which contradictions have maximum informational content. This issue, as well as some of Floridi’s other arguments, is resolved by disentangling the property of being information from the property of being informative. The essay’s final conclusion is that although semantic information is alethically neutral, a veridical conception of semantic information can, and should, be retained as a subconcept of semantic information (i.e., as veridical semantic information), as it is essential for the analysis of informativity, which, unlike the property of being information, depends on truth.

  • 17.
    Lundgren, Björn
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
    Does semantic information need to be truthful?2019In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 196, no 7, p. 2885-2906Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The concept of information has well-known difficulties. Among the many issues that have been discussed is the alethic nature of a semantic conception of information. Floridi (Minds Mach 14(2):197-222, 2004; Philos Phenomenol Res 70:351-370, 2005; EUJAP 3(1):31-41, 2007; The philosophy of information, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011) argued that semantic information must be truthful. In this article, arguments will be presented in favor of an alethically neutral conception of semantic information and it will be shown that such a conception can withstand Floridi's criticism. In particular, it is argued that an alethically neutral conception of semantic information can manage the so-called Bar-Hillel Carnap paradox, according to which contradictions have maximum informational content. This issue, as well as some of Floridi's other arguments, is resolved by disentangling the property of being information from the property of being informative. The essay's final conclusion is that although semantic information is alethically neutral, a veridical conception of semantic information can, and should, be retained as a subconcept of semantic information (i.e., as veridical semantic information), as it is essential for the analysis of informativity, which, unlike the property of being information, depends on truth.

  • 18.
    Peterson, Martin
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Infrastructure.
    Transformative decision rules, permutability, and non-sequential framing of decision problems2004In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 139, no 3, p. 387-403Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The concept of transformative decision rules provides a useful tool for analyzing what is often referred to as the 'framing', or 'problem specification', or 'editing' phase of decision making. In the present study we analyze a fundamental aspect of transformative decision rules, viz. permutability. A set of transformative decision rules is, roughly put, permutable just in case it does not matter in which order the rules are applied. It is argued that in order to be normatively reasonable, sets of transformative decision rules have to satisfy a number of structural conditions that together imply permutability. This formal result gives support to a non-sequential theory of framing, i.e., a theory which prescribes no uniform order in which different steps in the framing process have to be performed.

  • 19.
    Pettersson, Martin
    et al.
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
    Hansson, Sven Ove
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
    Order-independent transformative decision rules2005In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 147, no 2, p. 323-342Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    A transformative decision rule alters the representation of a decision problem, either by changing the set of alternative acts or the set of states of the world taken into consideration, or by modifying the probability or value assignments. A set of transformative decision rules is order-independent in case the order in which the rules are applied is irrelevant. The main result of this paper is an axiomatic characterization of order-independent transformative decision rules, based on a single axiom. It is shown that the proposed axiomatization resolves a problem observed by Teddy Seidenfeld in a previous axiomatization by Peterson.

  • 20.
    Sandqvist, Tor
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
    Acceptance, inference, and the multiple-conclusion sequent2012In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 187, no 3, p. 913-924Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper offers an interpretation of multiple-conclusion sequents as a kind of meta-inference rule: just as single-conclusion sequents represent inferences from sentences to sentences, so multiple-conclusion sequents represent a certain kind of inference from single-conclusion sequents to single-conclusion sequents. The semantics renders sound and complete the standard structural rules of reflexivity, monotonicity (or thinning), and transitivity (or cut). The paper is not the first one to attempt to account for multiple-conclusion sequents without invoking notions of truth or falsity-but unlike earlier such efforts, which have typically helped themselves to primitive notions of both acceptance and rejection, the present one makes do with the former alone. For technical reasons, the treatment is limited to sequents with non-empty succedents.

  • 21.
    Sjölin Wirling, Ylwa
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy.
    An Integrative Design? How Liberalised Modal Empiricism Fails the Integration ChallengeIn: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The idea that justified modal belief can be accounted for in terms of empirically justified, non-modal belief is enjoying increasing popularity in the epistemology of modality. One alleged reason to prefer modal empiricism over more traditional, rationalist modal epistemologies is that empiricism avoids the problem with the integration challenge that arise for rationalism, assuming that we want to be realists about modal metaphysics. In this paper, I argue that given two very reasonable constraints on what it means to meet the integration challenge for modality, empiricism is currently at best on a par with, but potentially worse off than, rationalist alternatives, with respect to the integration challenge.

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