In this paper I present a formal language in which complex predicates stand for properties and relations, and assignments of denotations to complex predicates and assignments of extensions to the properties and relations they denote are both homomorphisms. This system affords a fresh perspective on several important philosophical topics, highlighting the algebraic features of properties and clarifying the sense in which properties can be represented by their extensions. It also suggests a natural modification of current logics of properties, one in (...) which some complex predicates stand for properties while others do not. (shrink)
It is argued that a number of important, and seemingly disparate, types of representation are species of a single relation, here called structural representation, that can be described in detail and studied in a way that is of considerable philosophical interest. A structural representation depends on the existence of a common structure between a representation and that which it represents, and it is important because it allows us to reason directly about the representation in order to draw conclusions about the (...) phenomenon that it depicts. The present goal is to give a general and precise account of structural representation, then to use that account to illuminate several problems of current philosophical interest — including some that do not initially seem to involve representation at all. In particular, it is argued that ontological reductions (like that of the natural numbers to sets), compositional accounts of semantics, several important sorts of mental representation, and (perhaps) possible worlds semantics for intensional logics are all species of structural representation and are fruitfully studied in the framework developed here. (shrink)
That laws of nature play a vital role in explanation, prediction, and inductive inference is far clearer than the nature of the laws themselves. My hope here is to shed some light on the nature of natural laws by developing and defending the view that they involve genuine relations between properties. Such a position is suggested by Plato, and more recent versions have been sketched by several writers.~ But I am not happy with any of these accounts, not so much (...) because they lack detail or engender minor difficulties, though they do, but because they share a quite fundamental defect. My goal here is to make this defect clear and, more importantly, to present a rather different version of this general conception of laws that avoids it. I begin by considering several features of natural laws and argue that these are best explained by the view that laws involve properties, that this involvement takes the form of a genuine relation between properties, and, finally, that the relation is a metaphysically necessary one. In the second section I start at the other end, and by reflecting on the nature of properties arrive at a similar account of natural laws. In the final section I develop this account in more detail, with emphasis on the nature of the relation between properties it invokes. Along the way several natural objections to the account are answered. (shrink)
The early, largely automatic stages of human visual processing involve things like feature detectors (e.g., edge detectors) that do not involve our concepts or beliefs. These stages are called data-driven or bottom up aspects of perceptual information processing. But in the later stages of processing perception often is affected by our concepts, beliefs, and expectations. Such processes are said to be hypothesis-driven or expectation-driven; they are also known as..
Many linguists, including Noam Chomsky, contend that language in the sense we ordinary think of it, in the sense that people in Germany speak German, is a historical or social or political notion, rather than a scientific one. For example, German and Dutch are much closer to one another than various dialects of Chinese are. But the rough, commonsense divisions between languages will suffice for our purposes.