Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for May 1st, 2018

Has Israel Stopped Sharing Intel With the Trump Administration?

leave a comment »

Kevin Drum notes one major change:

Last night I noted in passing that Donald Trump had casually blabbed about intelligence from overseas allies on two occasions last year. The most important one was when he regaled the Russian ambassador about the intel that led to an alert concerning a potential laptop bomb being smuggled onto an airline. A reader writes to tell me that as bad as this episode was, it was actually far worse:

The US obtained this intelligence from Israel. What is now known to the general public is that Israel had succeeded in placing a listening device in an ISIS safe house deep in Syria, at great risk, and was listening in on everything ISIS was planning from that location. Trump revealed this intelligence to Kislyak and Lavarov during that infamous Oval Office meeting in which he also bragged about firing James Comey the day before. His revelation essentially blew the intelligence operation; the listening device the Israelis had placed went dead shortly after.

A few weeks ago I heard Ronen Bergman speak to a group of about 50 people, mostly Israelis. He is Israel’s leading national security journalist, and recently published an incredible book called Rise and Kill First, a history of the Israeli security services. He wouldn’t get into details about what Trump told the Russians during that Oval Office meeting, but he said it was “much worse” than what is “publicly” known, and that Trump essentially revealed the “crown jewels” of Israeli intelligence operational methods in Syria. He said the Israeli intelligence community is absolutely livid; has come to the conclusion that the administration is “chaotic” and absolutely cannot be trusted with any sensitive information; and will not reveal to the Americans any information unless it doesn’t care whether such information is publicly known. He said this is an absolute sea change from all past administrations both Republican and Democratic. Before this, Israel has always shared without hesitation intelligence information with the US that it doesn’t share with any other country.

When my right-wing Republican Jewish Coalition friends tell me how great Trump is for Israel, it absolutely makes my blood boil, because it’s so demonstrably untrue. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 May 2018 at 10:03 pm

Trump Caves on Tariffs Again

leave a comment »

Kevin Drum has a good post at Mother Jones:

From the New York Times:

The Trump administration said on Monday that it would delay a decision to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada and Mexico for another 30 days, giving key allies a reprieve as the White House tries to extract concessions from trading partners who have resisted those demands.

That Trump is quite the steely-eyed negotiator, isn’t he? Check out the timeline here:

  • Despite the fact that even Trump’s hardnosed China hawks are urging some caution on tariffs, Trump gets tired of being hemmed in by “arguments” and “facts.” So he bulls ahead on his own and announces whopping steel and aluminum tariffs out of the blue.
  • Of course, it turns out that China isn’t really a big supplier of either steel or aluminum to the United States. The tariffs mostly hit Canada, Europe, Mexico, and other friends and allies.
  • So Trump caves and announces a 30-day exemption for countries he likes.
  • After the 30 days are up, everyone is still pissed. So he announces another 30-day exemption. Now everyone’s confused and has no idea what to expect next.

And that brings us up to date. So what does Trump do next? Just keep announcing 30-day exemptions? Quietly drop the whole thing on some day when there’s other big news happening? Go into a temper tantrum about something or other and just let the tariffs hit everyone, friendly or not? Who knows?

Do you remember back when conservatives were all over Obama about how our allies couldn’t trust us anymore? (I never totally understood that except in the case where “allies” equals “Israel,” but never mind. That’s what they were saying back then.) Well, how about Trump? He blew up the TPP on his first day in office. He blew up the Paris Treaty. He keeps threatening to blow up the Iran treaty. And NAFTA. He’s taken considerable pleasure in hinting that he doesn’t think much of NATO. He’s idiotically leaked intel from Britain and passed along Israeli intel to the Russian amabassador. He’s pissed off Mexico by continuing to insist that they pay for his wall. He’s pissed off Australia by trying to wriggle out of a refugee deal. On a momentary whim, he announced walloping tariffs on some of our very closest allies. Then he confused everyone by temporarily delaying the tariffs—but pointedly refusing to exempt Japan. There’s hardly a friendly country in the world who knows where we stand anymore or whether we care one whit about them.

Can we please have this talk about how America treats its allies again? This time I think we really need it.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 May 2018 at 6:47 pm

The Spy Who Came Home: Why an expert in counterterrorism became a beat cop.

leave a comment »

Ben Taub writes in the New Yorker:

Shortly after an evening nap, Patrick Skinner drove to the police station in the Third Precinct in Savannah, Georgia, wearing ill-fitting body armor. It was late December, and bitterly cold, and he figured that the weather would bring fewer shootings than usual but more cases of domestic abuse. “Summertime is the murder time,” he said. He had come to work early to tape together his body camera, because the clasp was broken.

The shift supervisor—a tall corporal with a slight paunch—stood at a lectern. “Good mornin’, mornin’, mornin’,” he said. It was 10:31 p.m. Speaking through a wad of tobacco, he delivered a briefing on criminal activities from earlier in the day, then listed vehicles that had been reported stolen. “Look out for a cooter-colored truck,” he said.

The walls of the briefing room were sparsely decorated. There was a map of each beat within the precinct—an area, more than half the size of Manhattan, that includes Savannah’s most violent neighborhoods—along with a display case of various drug samples and a whiteboard listing police cars that were out of commission. One had overheated, two had been wrecked in accidents, and two others had broken headlights. A sixth car was labelled “unsafe for road.”

“What does ‘unsafe for road’ mean?” a cop asked.

“That’s all our cars,” another said.

Most patrol officers drive old Ford Crown Victorias, several of which are approaching two hundred thousand miles on the odometer—“and those are cop miles, where we’re flooring it at least twice an hour,” Skinner told me. Officers complain about worn tires, dodgy brakes, and holes in the seats where guns and batons have rubbed impressions into the fabric. Many cars run twenty-four hours a day.

Skinner, who is forty-seven, is short and bald, with a trim beard, Arctic-blue eyes, and a magnetic social energy that has the effect of putting people around him at ease. He wears humor and extroversion as a kind of shield; most of his colleagues know almost nothing about his life leading up to the moment they met.

At around 3 a.m., a call came in: a “strange vehicle” was idling in someone’s driveway, in the Summerside neighborhood. The caller gave no address and no description of the car.

Though Skinner had completed his training just two months earlier, he already knew every road in the Third Precinct. On slow nights, he tried to memorize the locations of Savannah’s traffic lights and stop signs, so that he could visualize the quickest route to any call. Darren Bradley, who went through training with Skinner, said, “When they gave us the sheets with police signals and codes”—a list of nearly two hundred radio call signs—“he looked it over once and had it in his head.”

As Skinner approached Summerside, a white Camaro with tinted windows pulled out and came toward him. Cars registered in Georgia don’t have license plates on the front, but, as the Camaro zoomed past, Skinner glanced into his side mirror, memorized the rear-plate number from its backward reflection, and called it in.

Skinner sped north, picturing the Camaro’s likely escape route, and how to cut the driver off. “If he’s an idiot, he’ll turn right on Fifty-second Street and end up behind me at the next light,” Skinner said. Two minutes later, the Camaro rounded a bend and pulled up behind Skinner. He smiled.

In Savannah, several cars are stolen every day—often for use in other crimes. The Camaro driver made some evasive maneuvers, but, to Skinner, this behavior did not qualify as probable cause for a traffic stop. When the dispatcher ran a check on the license plate, it came back clean. Skinner continued on his patrol.

Georgia’s law-enforcement-training program does not teach recruits to memorize license plates backward in mirrors. Like many of Skinner’s abilities, that skill was honed in the C.I.A. He joined the agency during the early days of America’s war on terror, one of the darkest periods in its history, and spent almost a decade running assets in Afghanistan, Jordan, and Iraq. He shook hands with lawmakers, C.I.A. directors, the King of Jordan, the Emir of Qatar, the Prime Minister of Singapore, and Presidents of Afghanistan and the United States. “I became the Forrest Gump of counterterrorism and law enforcement,” he said, stumbling in and out of the margins of history. But over the years he came to believe that counterterrorism was creating more problems than it solved, fuelling illiberalism and hysteria, destroying communities overseas, and diverting attention and resources from essential problems in the United States.

Meanwhile, American police forces were adopting some of the militarized tactics that Skinner had seen give rise to insurgencies abroad. “We have to stop treating people like we’re in Fallujah,” he told me. “It doesn’t work. Just look what happened in Fallujah.” In time, he came to believe that the most meaningful application of his training and expertise—the only way to exemplify his beliefs about American security, at home and abroad—was to become a community police officer in Savannah, where he grew up.

“We write these strategic white papers, saying things like ‘Get the local Sunni population on our side,’ ” Skinner said. “Cool. Got it. But, then, if I say, ‘Get the people who live at Thirty-eighth and Bulloch on our side,’ you realize, man, that’s fucking hard—and it’s just a city block. It sounds so stupid when you apply the rhetoric over here. Who’s the leader of the white community in Live Oak neighborhood? Or the poor community?” Skinner shook his head. “ ‘Leader of the Iraqi community.’ What the fuck does that mean?”

No military force can end terrorism, just as firefighters can’t end fire and cops can’t end crime. But there are ways to build a resilient society. “It can’t be on a government contract that says ‘In six months, show us these results,’ ” Skinner said. “It has to be ‘I live here. This is my job forever.’ ” He compared his situation to that of Voltaire’s Candide, who, after enduring a litany of absurd horrors in a society plagued by fanaticism and incompetence, concludes that the only truly worthwhile activity is tending his garden. “Except my garden is the Third Precinct,” Skinner said.

“I’ve never been a senior anything,” Skinner said. “Always a rookie.” In 1991, when he was nineteen, he joined the Coast Guard; he spent two years carrying out search-and-rescue operations, followed by three years working on an icebreaker in the Hudson River.

He met his wife, Theresa, in the Coast Guard, and in 1999 she was assigned to a position at headquarters, in Washington, D.C. Skinner, who had spent the past couple of years working as a waiter and a flight attendant while finishing his college degree, joined the Capitol Police, but his graduation ceremony was interrupted by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Before the debris settled, Skinner had faxed an application to the C.I.A. In the following weeks, the agency received more than a hundred thousand applications; it took months to sift through the pile.

The Capitol Police temporarily assigned Skinner to plainclothes duty in the Senate. On January 29, 2002, he accompanied Mayor Michael Bloomberg to President George W. Bush’s first State of the Union address. They sat together as Bush spoke of an “axis of evil” made up of rogue states “and their terrorist allies,” setting the stage for the invasion of Iraq.

Later that year, Skinner left the Capitol Police and became an air marshal. One day, he got a call from a blocked number. “You applied to work for the government?” the caller asked.

“I already work for the government,” Skinner replied.

“Yeah, but I mean the government.”

The caller was a recruiter for the C.I.A. “He asked me some rapid-fire questions—‘Is the Indus River north or south of Kashmir?’ ‘What was the date of Partition?’ ‘Name five towns in the occupied West Bank’—basically to cross me off his list,” Skinner said. “But I knew all the answers, because I had sat on airplanes for the past six months, doing nothing but reading newspapers and The Economist.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s more to the story and also audio at the link. And it’s well worth reading.


Written by LeisureGuy

1 May 2018 at 6:26 pm

Island Lizards Shift to Evolutionary Fast-Track after Invasive Goats and Rats Are Eradicated

leave a comment »

Geoffrey Giller writes in Scientific American:

A year ago when I arrived here by helicopter with researchers Colin Donihue and Anthony Herrel, this small Caribbean island was a moonscape. A mile long, Redonda is a rock nub protruding up from the sea; its steep, windy cliffs dropping into the sapphire water below.

Accounts from various explorers indicate that over the last century its surface had been gradually eaten bare of vegetation by invasive goats. Guano miners in the 1800s may have brought the animals as a source of fresh meat, although there’s mention of goats as early as 1745. The island we saw was also overrun with rats, likely survivors of shipwrecks, which would eat just about anything the goats didn’t—including at least two of the three species of lizards found only here.

But thanks to a concerted effort between the government of Antigua and Barbuda (of which Redonda is part), along with several local and international nonprofit organizations, this island has been reborn. Over the course of several months last year officials led the removal of about 50 goats, most flown to Antigua, where they are valued for their supposed ability to survive drought. Conservationists and rock climbers dispensed rat poison in bait stations across the island to clear out the rodents, too.

Today the landscape is covered in green grasses, tree saplings and flowering plants—all able, for the first time in decades, to flourish. The quick recovery was a surprise for us during our return trip in March 2018, but has apparently been an even greater delight for the lizards—they are flourishing. And their bodies seem to be changing in short order.

Donihue, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, and Herrel, based at France’s National Museum of Natural History, are the first to study how endemic species like lizards change in real time as an island recovers after the eradication of invasive mammals. Donihue says that after just a year he has witnessed some unexpected changes.

Of course, the number of lizards has risen sharply now that more plants support more insects for them to eat—and fewer rats are eating them. Last year during several surveys around the island, Herrel counted an average of 67 so-called tree lizards, a species of anole named Anolis nubilis. A year later, almost to the day, the number had jumped to 169.

The number of ground lizards, Pholidoscelis atratus—shiny, jet-black and with incredibly long tails—had likewise risen from 92 to 136. Using another population estimation method, which involves catching lizards, marking them and then catching in the same area a few days later to see what appears, the estimated number of anoles in one spot went from 12 in 2017 to 41 in 2018. The prevalence of the third species, a pygmy gecko that looks like a yellow rubber fishing lure, does not appear to have changed much.

In the absence of trees the anoles had been using boulders to sun themselves and to display in search of mates. As trees begin to prosper again, Donihue expects to see the various gray, green and brown-colored anoles thrive. “They have the name Redonda tree lizard for a reason,” he says.

The ground lizards have provided the greatest surprise. On three different occasions during our March visit we saw a ground lizard chase down and catch an anole, running off with its prize to devour it elsewhere, like a dog that had grabbed a juicy hunk of meat. We had never seen such behavior before. “There’s a new resource, and they’re just going for it,” Herrel says. “There’s a lot of really high-quality food that wasn’t really available before,” Donihue adds. Now that the rats are gone, the ground lizards may be reclaiming their rightful place at the top of the food web. Donihue and Herrel also saw an adult ground lizard catch and start to eat a juvenile of its own species. That behavior represents not only a change in the type of prey the lizards are seeking, but in their ability to actually catch it.

It also appears the ground lizards have had shifts in some body measurements—specifically in . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 May 2018 at 6:18 pm

Bank of Internet, Which Had Been Under Federal Investigation, Appears In Multiple Kushner Deals

leave a comment »

Justin Elliott reports in ProPublica:

A bank that had been under federal investigation until last year has played a role in two recent real estate transactions involving Kushner Companies, Jared Kushner’s family company.

Earlier this month, BofI Federal took over a mortgage previously owned by the Kushner Companies for a development in Brooklyn, New York City real estate filings show. The previously unreported transaction involves a loan on a development project in the historically industrial, now gentrifying Bushwick neighborhood. Kushner Companies had made a loan of roughly $30 million to the project at 215 Moore Street in late 2016. Jared Kushner remains a senior adviser to President Donald Trump.

BofI, which was previously known as Bank of Internet USA, said in a statement to ProPublica that it “has no exposure or relationship with Mr. Kushner or his company with respect to 215 Moore St.” The bank likened the transaction to a routine refinancing.

In another transaction last October, the Kushner Companies got a $57 million loan on one of its own projects in New Jersey. BofI Federal provided much of the money behind that loan, Bloomberg reported last week.

BofI Federal Bank faced a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into its lending practices and conflict of interest policies until last year. After multiple subpoenas in 2016, the SEC closed the investigation in late June 2017.

Kushner stepped away from the management of his family real estate company to join the Trump White House but held onto many of his family company’s assets, including the Bushwick project debt. Ethics experts have criticized the arrangement, saying it could create conflicts of interest if Kushner Companies business partners have business before the government.

Based in San Diego, the publicly traded BofI Federal does most of its real estate lending in California, and has only a small presence in the New York market. It has attracted attention from short-selling investors, who question the bank’s business model and practices. The company has said the investors have purveyed misleading information.

In November 2016, shortly after the presidential election, Kushner Companies announced it was pursuing a new line of business in lending money to other developers’ projects.

That month, the company made a loan of at least $33 million to a well-known New York developer, Toby Moskovits, for a project in Brooklyn. The developers have dubbed the project at 215 Moore Street and several adjacent lots the “Bushwick Generator.” The project is targeting what they describe as “the job-generating tech and creative firms that are repowering Brooklyn’s economy.” On a recent visit, the project was still under construction. Most of the rundown former industrial building was still open to the sky, except for a central open-plan office area where a vintage Singer sewing machine table acts as a front desk.

In a transaction inked in early April, the Kushner Companies debt was transferred to BofI, which is now the lender on the project, real estate filingsshow. Public records don’t reveal the terms of the BofI transaction and whether Kushner Companies made money or otherwise benefitted.

In a statement, BofI said that it had no relationship with Kushner regarding the Bushwick property. The bank said the owner of the Bushwick project was a pre-existing customer. BofI “decided, after carefully underwriting the transaction, to provide financing to one of our prior customers,” the bank said in a statement.

A Kushner Companies spokeswoman said that the owners of the project exited from the loan and “repaid the Kushner lending arm.” She declined to elaborate on the terms.

BofI also played a role in an earlier Kushner Companies transaction in Jersey City, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Bloomberg reported that BofI provided much of the money for a $57 million October 2017 loan to the One Journal Square development.

The Jersey City loan was issued by Fortress Investment Group and BofI purchased an interest in the loan from Fortress. In its statement, BofI said the terms of that deal are confidential. “Banks routinely purchase participation interests in loans made by other institutional investors,” the statement said.

In the hunt for funding for the same Jersey City project, Kushner’s sister drew negative attention last year when she pitched Chinese investors using a controversial program that gives visas to foreigners who invest in the U.S.

The SEC investigation of BofI was  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 May 2018 at 6:08 pm

Out of the armchair: Experimental philosophy (aka x-phi)

leave a comment »

Stephanie Wykstra writes in Aeon:

Conducting thought experiments from the armchair has long been an accepted method in analytic philosophy. What do thought experiments from the armchair look like? Philosophers think about real and imagined scenarios involving knowledge, morality, free will and other matters. They then use those scenarios to elicit their own reactions (‘intuitions’), which serve as fodder for arguments.

One well-known kind of thought experiment is called a ‘Gettier case’. Named after the American philosopher Edmund Gettier, these are scenarios used to question a particular notion of knowledge, and are based on a range of examples he provided in a journal article in 1963. One might plausibly think of knowledge as a belief that is both true and justified (ie, based on evidence). But Gettier suggested some counterexamples to this definition, by telling stories in each of which there’s a true, justified belief that he claimed isn’t a case of knowledge. For example, imagine that at noon you look at a stopped clock that happens to have stopped at noon. Your belief that it’s noon is true, and arguably it’s also justified. The question is: do you thereby know that it’s noon, or do you merely believe it? While this example and others might seem frivolous – other cases involve fake zebras and imitation barns – they are intended to make headway in analysing knowledge.

In the late 1990s, the philosophers Jonathan Weinberg, Shaun Nichols and Stephen Stich started raising questions about this methodology of eliciting ‘our’ intuitions. Their question: who does ‘we’ refer to here? They wondered if philosophers – at least in analytic philosophy, a particularly Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic bunch, aka ‘WEIRD’ – might have intuitions that people in other demographic groups wouldn’t share. (They’d been inspired to raise this question by work on cross-cultural differences by psychologists such as Richard Nisbett and Jonathan Haidt.)

Rather than just speculate about whether differences existed, Stich and colleagues decided to do some real-world experiments. In their initial research, they focused on common thought-experiments in epistemology (a subfield of philosophy that studies topics such as justified belief and knowledge). They recruited people of East Asian and Western descent, as well as people of Indian-subcontinent descent, and asked them to read and think about some classic vignettes in epistemology. In their 2001 paper, they claimed that among their most interesting findings was something unexpected: while most people of Western descent in their experiment deemed that particular Gettier cases are not instances of knowledge, people of East Asian and of Indian descent often thought the opposite.

Stich and colleagues argued that this kind of variation in intuitions should cause a big shift in the way that analytic philosophy is practised. Until this point, most philosophers had traditionally thought it was fine to sit in their armchairs and consider their own intuitions. It was the way that philosophy was done. But experimental evidence, they claimed, undermined this traditional practice. If such differences of intuition existed, they wrote: ‘Why should we privilege our intuitions rather than the intuitions of some other group?’ If different groups had different intuitions, it wasn’t enough to say that ‘our’ intuition about justice or knowledge or free will is such-and-such. Rather, the philosopher must at the very least specify whose intuition is relevant, and why that intuition should matter rather than another one.

Over subsequent decades, experimental philosophy (x-phi for short) grew significantly. Some philosophers followed Stich et al’s lead, in testing intuitions of participants who varied in gender, age, native language and other categories. They also looked at variation in intuitions based on irrelevant factors such as the order in which cases are presented. Beyond that, some x-phi practitioners also found significant sources of funding. Stich and his fellow philosopher Edouard Machery, together with the anthropologist H Clark Barrett, received a grant of more than $2.5 million from the John Templeton Foundation to embark on a series of experiments on knowledge, understanding and wisdom across 10 countries, with a goal of better understanding these philosophical concepts as they appear across a large swathe of cultures.

It’s important to note that arguably the biggest factor in x-phi’s growth has been the result of some philosophers heading off into a new direction. According to a recent survey of the field conducted by Joshua Knobe, not too many philosophers kept up experiments on demographic differences with the aim of showing that traditional philosophy is ill-grounded (this came to be known as ‘the negative programme’ in x-phi). Instead, another class of experiments (with a ‘positive programme’) sprang up.

Knobe, a professor of psychology, philosophy and linguistics at Yale University and well-known in the field for his experimental work, which he’s been doing since the early 2000s, describes one kind of ‘positive programme’ as very similar to cognitive science. Conducting experiments uncovers interesting effects, and researchers then hypothesise about mechanisms that might explain these effects. A well-known example of this kind of work is Knobe’s own finding, called the ‘side-effect effect’ or just the ‘Knobe effect’. In a nutshell, this is the finding that people judge a side-effect to be intentionally caused much more often when that side-effect is negative than when it’s positive.

For example, in Knobe’s original experiment, participants were given this vignette:

The vice-president of a company went to the chairman of the board and said: ‘We are thinking of starting a new programme. It will help us increase profits, but it will also harm the environment.’ The chairman of the board answered: ‘I don’t care at all about harming the environment. I just want to make as much profit as I can. Let’s start the new programme.’ They started the new programme. Sure enough, the environment was harmed.

Other study participants saw the exact same story, except that the word ‘harmed’ was replaced with the word ‘helped’. The striking result was that, in most cases (82 per cent), participants said that the chairman brought about the harmful side-effect intentionally, but only 33 per cent of participants said that he intentionally brought about the helpful side-effect.

Since then, many philosophers have conducted hundreds of these kinds of experiments. Some of them involve repeating and extending the Knobe effect, and many others venture into new directions to run experiments involving questions about moral responsibility, free will, causation, personal identity and other topics. In their ‘Experimental Philosophy Manifesto’ (2007), Knobe and Nichols described the allure of experimental philosophy’s positive programme by writing: ‘Many find it an exciting new way to approach the basic philosophical concerns that attracted them to philosophy in the first place.’ But while x-phi has expanded over the years, not everyone in philosophy has been a fan.

First, as the positive programme in x-phi shades into psychology and vice versa, some have asked: is experimental philosophy really philosophy? Knobe and some of his colleagues argue that it is. They describe the work as continuous with a long tradition of philosophers trying to understand the human mind, and point to the likes of Aristotle, David Hume and Friedrich Nietzsche as precedents. In their manifesto, Knobe and Nichols write:

It used to be a commonplace that the discipline of philosophy was deeply concerned with questions about the human condition. Philosophers thought about human beings and how their minds worked … On this traditional conception, it wasn’t particularly important to keep philosophy clearly distinct from psychology, history or political science … The new movement of experimental philosophy seeks to return to this traditional vision.

Some philosophers, even those who identify as part of the x-phi movement, disagree with this viewpoint. Machery, a fellow x-phi advocate, argues that even if, historically, philosophers used to engage in a huge range of intellectual endeavours, it doesn’t mean that studying all those things should now count as philosophy. There’s something lost, Machery thinks, if experimental philosophers start to resemble cognitive scientists more and more, and lose their focus on what has been of central interest in philosophy: analysing concepts. (According to Knobe’s recent analysis, only around 10 per cent of x-phi experiments over a period of five years were directly about conceptual analysis, as opposed to revealing new cognitive effects and discussing potential cognitive processes underlying them.) Machery concurs with Stich and other ‘negative programmers’ that trying to analyse concepts from the armchair is a poor method, because of the experimental evidence that judgments vary by demographic group. Instead, he argues in his bookPhilosophy Within Its Proper Bounds (2017), philosophers should make use of experiments as a way of clarifying and assessing important philosophical ideas.

Asecond kind of response comes from those who question the usefulness of eliciting intuitions from people outside of philosophy. For example, in his book Relativism and the Foundations of Philosophy (2009), Stephen Hales writes: ‘[I]ntuitions of professional philosophers are much more reliable than either those of inexperienced students or the “folk”.’ This response, dubbed the ‘expertise defence’, is generally made in response to the ‘negative programme’ in x-phi. The philosopher Jennifer Nado characterises the defence as insisting that experimental philosophy’s reliance on the conflicting intuitions of non-philosophers is ‘fundamentally misguided’, since ‘the intuitions of such persons are irrelevant’. There’s often an analogy drawn to other fields: we wouldn’t take the conflicting opinions of non-experts as a challenge to most scientific and mathematical claims. On the other hand, some philosophers – responding to the expertise defence – have questioned that analogy by asking what ‘philosophical expertise’ amounts to, and how we can tell that professional philosophers have it. (In some cases, philosophers have even run experiments on fellow philosophers, claiming that they are susceptible to various kinds of bias in their intuitions.)

A third response to . . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 May 2018 at 5:06 pm

Posted in Daily life

Tagged with

Twitch played Go

leave a comment »

Pretty cool. Take a look.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 May 2018 at 4:01 pm

Posted in Go

%d bloggers like this: