Philosophy Research Works

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    On Quantum Collapse as a Basis for the Second Law of Thermodynamics
    (MDPI, 2017-03-09) Kastner, Ruth E.
    It was first suggested by David Z. Albert that the existence of a real, physical non-unitary process (i.e., “collapse”) at the quantum level would yield a complete explanation for the Second Law of Thermodynamics (i.e., the increase in entropy over time). The contribution of such a process would be to provide a physical basis for the ontological indeterminacy needed to derive the irreversible Second Law against a backdrop of otherwise reversible, deterministic physical laws. An alternative understanding of the source of this possible quantum “collapse” or non-unitarity is presented herein, in terms of the Transactional Interpretation (TI). The present model provides a specific physical justification for Boltzmann’s often-criticized assumption of molecular randomness (Stosszahlansatz), thereby changing its status from an ad hoc postulate to a theoretically grounded result, without requiring any change to the basic quantum theory. In addition, it is argued that TI provides an elegant way of reconciling, via indeterministic collapse, the time-reversible Liouville evolution with the time-irreversible evolution inherent in so-called “master equations” that specify the changes in occupation of the various possible states in terms of the transition rates between them. The present model is contrasted with the Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber (GRW) “spontaneous collapse” theory previously suggested for this purpose by Albert.
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    What's the coincidence in debunking?
    (Wiley, 2022-07-19) Bhogal, Harjit
    Many moral debunking arguments are driven by the idea that the correlation between our moral beliefs and the moral truths is a big coincidence, given a robustly realist conception of morality. One influential response is that the correlation is not a coincidence because there is a common explainer of our moral beliefs and the moral truths. For example, the reason that I believe that I should feed my child is because feeding my child helps them to survive, and natural selection instills in me beliefs and dispositions that help my children survive since that is conductive to my genes continuing through the generations. Similarly, the reason that it's morally good to feed my child is because it helps them to survive, and survival is morally valuable. But if we look at some cases from scientific practice, and from everyday life, we can see, I argue, why this response fails. A correlation can be coincidental even if there is a common explainer. I give an account of the nature of coincidence that draws upon recent literature on scientific explanation and argue that the correlation between moral belief and moral truth is a coincidence, even given such common explainers. And I use this to defend a certain form of debunking argument.
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    The importance of self-knowledge for free action
    (Wiley, 2022-07-03) Gurrola, Joseph
    Much has been made about the ways that implicit biases and other apparently unreflective attitudes can affect our actions and judgments in ways that negatively affect our ability to do right. What has been discussed less is that these attitudes negatively affect our freedom. In this paper, I argue that implicit biases pose a problem for free will. My analysis focuses on the compatibilist notion of free will according to which acting freely consists in acting in accordance with our reflectively endorsed beliefs and desires. Though bias presents a problem for free action, I argue that there are steps agents can take to regain their freedom. One such strategy is for agents to cultivate better self-knowledge of the ways that their freedom depends on the relationship between their conscious and unconscious attitudes, and the way these work together to inform action and judgment. This knowledge can act as an important catalyst for agents to seek out and implement short- and long-term strategies for reducing the influence of bias, and I offer four proposals along these lines. The upshot is that though bias is a powerful influence on our actions, we need not resign ourselves to its negative effects for freedom.
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    Dignity, Dementia and Death
    (Cambridge University Press, 2023-03-30) Kerstein, Samuel J
    According to Kant’s ethics, at least on one common interpretation, persons have a special worth or dignity that demands respect. But personhood is not coextensive with human life; for example, individuals can live in severe dementia after losing the capacities constitutive of personhood. Some philosophers, including David Velleman and Dennis Cooley, have suggested that individuals living after the loss of their personhood might offend against the Kantian dignity the individuals once possessed. Cooley has even argued that it is morally required on Kantian grounds for those who realize that they will lose their personhood as a result of dementia (e.g. Alzheimer’s) to hasten their deaths (e.g. commit suicide). This article specifies circumstances in which post-personhood living might indeed involve an affront to the Kantian dignity of a person who once was. However, the article contends, Kant implies that it is neither morally required nor even morally permissible for someone in an early stage of Alzheimer’s to hasten their death to avoid such an affront, even if they have autonomously chosen to do so. The article adds an ethical perspective to debate on physician-assisted dying, in particular on the moral permissibility of the soon-to-be-demented ending their lives.
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    Cell maps on the human genome
    (Springer Nature, 2019-03-20) Cherniak, Christopher; Rodriguez-Esteban, Raul
    We have previously described evidence for a statistically significant, global, supra-chromosomal representation of the human body that appears to stretch over the entire genome. Here, we extend the genome mapping model, zooming down to the typical individual animal cell. Its cellular organization appears to be significantly mapped onto the human genome: Evidence is reported for a “cellunculus” — on the model of a homunculus, on the H. sapiens genome.