Archive for February 2012
Turning the Tables on Truth: An Objection to Williamson’s Proof of Necessary Existence
Aviv Hoffmann (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
I’ve been involved in discussion of the latest Hendricks scandal at the NewAPPS blog. (For those who have not followed this, information and discussion can be found here, here, here, here and here). And so I’ve been thinking a bit about gender and the profession. In the USA and UK there seems to be a quite significant gender imbalance in academic philosophy. So, for example, in many philosophy departments it seems that only between 20-30% of graduate applications for philosophy are from women. (See here. Other interesting discussions and data can be found here, here and here).
Based on personal experience of having taught in two philosophy departments here in Turkey, however, there does not seem to be the same gender imbalance in philosophy here in Turkey as in the US and UK. My experience of teaching here is that the majority of philosophy students are female. Here are the statistics for current philosophy students and faculty at Bogazici.
Undergrad: women 91, men 55.
Grad (MA and Phd): women 30, men 29.
Faculty: Women 6, men 8.
C.G. Hempel’s “Raven Paradox” involves derivation of the intuitively unpalatable conclusion that observation of things like a white shoe or a rainbow confirms the raven hypothesis: “All ravens are black.” Here’s how it goes. An earlier author Jean Nicod had put forward the following criteria for confirmation of hypotheses of the form “All A’s are B’s”:
Observation of an object which has the property of being an A and also the property of being a B confirms “All A’s are B’s.”
Observation of an object which has the property of being an A but not the property of being a B disconfirms “All A’s are B’s.”
Observation of an object which does not have the property of being an A neither confirms nor disconfirms “All A’s are B’s.”
Add to these criteria the following highly plausible claim, which Hempel called “the equivalence condition”:
If an hypothesis H1 is logically equivalent to another hypothesis H2, then, if an observation O confirms H1, then O also confirms H2.
The equivalence condition sounds perfectly true, because to say that H1 and H2 are logically equivalent is to say that H1 and H2 make exactly the same claims about the world. Thus if a piece of evidence confirms one of the hypotheses, it must equally confirm the other one.
The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the official classification manual developed for use in clinical, educational, and research settings; it is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and is regularly revised. The fifth edition (DSM-5) is expected to appear in May 2013. In the DSM’s current edition (DSM-IV), feelings of sadness and associated symptoms (e.g., insomnia, poor appetite, and weight loss), following the death of a loved one are excluded from the criteria for a Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), but a cautionary clause states that if these symptoms continue beyond two months and impair the individual’s psychological, social and occupational functioning, she may be given an MDD diagnosis.
The DSM-5 Working Group for the Mood Disorders has recently proposed the removal of the bereavement exclusion from the diagnostic criteria for a Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), arguing that the available evidence does not support distinguishing bereavement from other stressors that underlie MDD.
This proposal has led to a controversial debate on the advantages and disadvantages of distinguishing between the cases that involve individuals who develop major depression in response to bereavement and those who develop depression following other severe stressors. For instance, Allen Frances, the lead editor of DSM-IV, is concerned that removing the bereavement exclusion will result in over-diagnosing and over-treating non-pathological grief by labelling it MDD.
This article by Evan Selinger provides an accessible discussion of debates around external memory and memory modification, including ethical work and theoretical work from both philosophy and psychology.
Those working in this area might want to submit a poster to this interesting conference in Grenoble, which aims to bring together philosophical and psychological perspectives on episodic memory. (Unfortunately, I won’t be able to submit, in part due to the fact that the dates of the conference coincide exactly with those of the philosophy of mind conference organized by my colleague István Aranyosi at Bilkent, about which I’m sure István will post later.) They might also consider submitting for the special issue of Review of Philosophy and Psychology on distributed cognition and memory research that I’m co-editing with John Sutton.
(Incidentally, I gave a talk on this theme at Boğaziçi recently; hopefully, the paper will soon be forthcoming, but if anyone’s curious, they can e-mail for a draft in the meantime.)