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Open accessResearch is a public enterprise. Its costs are huge and unaffordable for most of the private subjects – with the few exceptions of big companies. Still, access to the outcome of research is defended by severe guardians, i.e., publishing companies, who make profit from exploiting their function of making the product of scientific research available to the scientific community.

I do not see any problem with the fact that a company earns money because of its activity, as every enterprise that improves the quality of its traded good, e.g., knowledge. However, most of the work necessary for the publication of scientific contribuitions is voluntary and unpaid. In particular:

  • Researchers write their papers with the (ideal) goal of extending human knowledge. Their salary is paid by universities and research councils, which are mostly funded by national governments. Publishing houses do not spend one cent to have the objects of their trade.
  • Most of the review work in scientific journals is done by academic peers, who are normally interested into the topic and for the sake of academic prestige. Only a small part of the people who collaborate with a journal is paid for the review process.
  • Text editing (article formatting, proof checking, etc.) is more and more automatised and expected to be done by the very author, which reduces expenses.
  • Scientific journals are more and more sold in digital format so that many costs related to the physical distribution are now avoided.

Despite of this, university libraries’ prices to access journals are increasing, and authors’ access to the very content of their own research is limited by publishing companies. Until when should researchers, who are the real producers, users, and consumers of scientific knowledge, keep tolerating such a system? Until when should national goverments keep paying merely to see their financed research been shared by the scientific community?

Here is the link to a very nice short video on this issue.

PollutionI am getting more and more interested in anti-naturalism about the mind. This novel interest is the outcome of two converging lines of thought.

The first concerns the role of the social/conversational/linguistic (?) context in shaping truth and meaningfulness when talking about some domain. To a certain extent, it seems that kinds derive their identity conditions from the conversational context in which we talk about them. Indeed, many concepts are defined by everyday conversation without that we check for their physical identity conditions, and for many concepts (e.g., money) physical identity conditions are certainly not sufficient to define them. But if kinds can derive their identity conditions from the conversational context in which we talk about them, then referring to the physical constitution of the world does not seem, at least apparently, a privileged strategy to define what we can talk about. There are certainly many things we can talk about—and we can talk about consistently—that maybe do not match the domain of physical entities. If mental concepts belong to this set of entities, then we have some reasons to doubt about both the possibility and the need to identify them in some material/physical way.

The other line of thought depends on a criticism to the nomological-deductive model of scientific theories. An important reason to be naturalist about the mental, it seems, is that, if we accept the principle of causal closure of the world, then nothing can have causal efficacy without also being physical. From this it is derived that the mental must be either eliminated or identified with the physical basis on which it supervenes. Since physics (and the other natural sciences—but I will not consider them here for the sake of simplicity) is the language that we have to describe the physical world, it also follows that the mental needs to be re-described in terms of the language of physics… and here lies the mistake. The assumption beyond this reduction of the mental to the physical is that there is a strict correspondance between the language of physics and the structure of reality so that, if something is real, then it must be possible to describe it, at least in the very last end, with the language of physics. The practice of science tells us, however, that such a strict correspondance between language and the world is only presupposed by the nomological-deductive model of scientific explanation, and that this model is by now problematic. We do not have privileged way to talk about reality, we can only build different models that—we hope—clarify different parts of it. If this is the case, there is no a priori reason why the language of mental concepts must be reduced to the language of physics. Maybe, these two languages construct different models of reality, each of them being equally useful and predictive in its own context.

I post herein some links about readings related to these two issues, hoping later to expand the list, and my research on this list… stay tuned then! Of course, this list does not want to be exaustive or representative: I am just collecting reading that may be relevant for the topic.

1. Pragmatic definition of mental kinds

2. Scientific theories, models, and explanations

Website online!

eegHi  guys! The website is finally online! And so is the blog… I hope we all will enjoy much philosophical discussion. See you on these pages!

Marco