Notiser Årgång 5, Nr 1, Maj 2018
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Thought Experiment as an Interdisciplinary Pedagogy
The thesis of this paper is that thought experiments provide an
especially powerful way to frame a class discussion. They work for
students for the same reason that they have worked for great geniuses
(such as Einstein) through the ages-namely, because they are interdisciplinary.
Competing rationalist and empiricist accounts of how thought experiments
work suggest that they will engage both rationally- and empirically-minded
students. Examples of student responses to thought experiments confirm
that they bring out interestingly diverse ways of thinking. Concern
that interdisciplinary pedagogy makes genuine communication impossible
has led some theorists to insist on a methodological pluralism that
refuses to privilege any one approach. I argue however, that interdisciplinary
instructors must ultimately ask students to incorporate their diverse
perspectives into the discourse of the instructor's discipline in
order to ensure that their work is judged in accordance with a time-tested
criterion of excellence.
On Fischer and Frankfurt-style Cases
Almost everyone believes that moral responsibility requires control;
however, philosophers disagree about whether this control is compatible
with universal causal determinism. Many philosophers argue that
it is not, and to illustrate this intuition they turn to the principle
of alternate possibilities (PAP) to demonstrate this incompatibility.
According to PAP, for an agent to be morally responsible for her
action, she must have been able to do otherwise. If our actions
are causally necessitated by circumstances that occurred long
before we were ever born, it wouldn't make sense to say we are
responsible because we lack both alternate possibilities and control.
Recently, compatibilists - starting with Harry Frankfurt - have
attempted to construct counter-examples to PAP - Frankfurt-style
cases - in which an agent is said to be morally responsible while
lacking alternate possibilities. In "The Frankfurt Cases: The
Moral of the Stories," John Martin Fischer defends Frankfurt-style
cases from what he calls "The Dilemma Defense." Here I argue Fischer's
There is no Arrow of Time
Instead of the linear temporal description of reality, I illustrate
an alternative model which eradicates the concepts of direction
and entropy from that of time. Time, intended as a Relationist
measure of change, has only the possibility to pass positively
or to stay still: the unidimensional mathematical metaphor is
misleading, it is not possible to live or experience reality backwards.
In light of that, I provide a different reading of the time-reversal
invariance of the fundamental laws of physics.
Defusing the Miners Paradox
This paper presents a case for the claim that the infamous miners
paradox is not a paradox. This contention is based on some important
observations about the nature of ignorance with respect to both
disjunctions and conditional obligations and their modal features.
The gist of the argument is that given the uncertainty about the
location of the miners in the story and the nature of obligations,
the apparent obligation to block either mine shaft is cancelled.