Ben Blumson National University of Singapore
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  • Faculty, National University of Singapore
  • PhD, Australian National University, 2007.

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  1. Ben Blumson, 'Metaphorically'.
    Not every metaphor can be literally paraphrased by a corresponding simile – the metaphorical meaning of ‘Juliet is the sun’, for example, is not the literal meaning of ‘Juliet is like the sun’. But every metaphor can be literally paraphrased, since if ‘metaphorically’ is prefixed to a metaphor, the result says literally what the metaphor says figuratively – the metaphorical meaning of ‘Juliet is the sun’, for example, is the literal meaning of ‘metaphorically, Juliet is the sun’.
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  2. Ben Blumson, Story Size.
    The shortest stories are zero words long. There is no maximum length.
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  3. Ben Blumson, The Metaphysical Significance of the Ugly-Duckling Theorem.
    According to Satosi Watanabe's "theorem of the ugly duckling", the number of (possible) predicates satisfied by any two different particulars is a constant, which does not depend on the choice of the two particulars. If the number of (possible) predicates satisfied by two particulars is their number of properties in common, and the degree of resemblance between two particulars is a function of their number of properties in common, then it follows that the degree of resemblance between any two different (...)
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  4. Ben Blumson (2014). A Never-Ending Story. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 14 (40).
    Take a strip of paper with 'once upon a time there'‚ written on one side and 'was a story that began'‚ on the other. Twisting the paper and joining the ends produces John Barth’s story Frame-Tale, which prefixes 'once upon a time there was a story that began'‚ to itself. I argue that the ability to understand this sentence cannot be explained by tacit knowledge of a recursive theory of truth in English.
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  5. Ben Blumson (2014). Interpreting Images. In Resemblance and Representation. Open Book Publishers. 118-138.
    Just as it’s possible to understand novel sentences without having heard them before, it’s possible to understand novel pictures without having seen them before. But these possibilities are often supposed to have totally different explanations: whereas the ability to understand novel sentences is supposed to be explained by tacit knowledge of a compositional theory of meaning for their language, the ability to understand novel pictures is supposed to be explained differently. In this paper I argue against this disanalogy: insofar as (...)
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  6. Ben Blumson (2014). Depiction and Composition. In Resemblance and Representation. Open Book Publishers. 99-116.
    Traditionally, the structure of a language is revealed by constructing an appropriate theory of meaning for that language, which exhibits how – and whether – the meaning of sentences in the language depends upon the meaning of their parts. In this paper, I argue that whether – and how – what pictures represent depends on what their parts represent should likewise by revealed by the construction of appropriate theories of representation for the symbol system of those pictures. This generalisation, I (...)
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  7. Ben Blumson (2014). Depiction and Intention. In Resemblance and Representation. Open Book Publishers. 51-66.
  8. Ben Blumson (2014). Pictures and Properties. In Resemblance and Representation. Open Book Publishers. 179-198.
    It’s a platitude that a picture is realistic to the degree to which it resembles what it represents (in relevant respects). But if properties are abundant and degrees of resemblance are proportions of properties in common, then the degree of resemblance between different particulars is constant (or undefined), which is inconsonant with the platitude. This paper argues this problem should be resolved by revising the analysis of degrees of resemblance in terms of proportion of properties in common, and not by (...)
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  9. Ben Blumson (2014). Resemblance and Representation. Open Book Publishers.
    It’s a platitude – which only a philosopher would dream of denying – that whereas words are connected to what they represent merely by arbitrary conventions, pictures are connected to what they represent by resemblance. The most important difference between my portrait and my name, for example, is that whereas my portrait and I are connected by my portrait’s resemblance to me, my name and I are connected merely by an arbitrary convention. The first aim of this book is to (...)
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  10. Ben Blumson (2014). Symbol Systems. In Resemblance and Representation. Open Book Publishers. 85-98.
  11. Ben Blumson (2012). Mental Maps. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (2):413-434.
    It's often hypothesized that the structure of mental representation is map-like rather than language-like. The possibility arises as a counterexample to the argument from the best explanation of productivity and systematicity to the language of thought hypothesis—the hypothesis that mental structure is compositional and recursive. In this paper, I argue that the analogy with maps does not undermine the argument, because maps and language have the same kind of compositional and recursive structure.
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  12. Ben Blumson (2012). Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (1):187 - 189.
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Volume 90, Issue 1, Page 187-189, March 2012.
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  13. Ben Blumson (2011). Depictive Structure? Philosophical Papers 40 (1):1-25.
    This paper argues against definitions of depiction in terms of the syntactic and semantic properties of symbol systems. In particular, it is argued that John Kulvicki's definition of depictive symbol systems in terms of relative repleteness, semantic richness, syntactic sensitivity and transparency is susceptible to similar counterexamples as Nelson Goodman's in terms of syntactic density, semantic density and relative repleteness. The general moral drawn is that defining depiction requires attention not merely to descriptive questions about syntax and semantics, but also (...)
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  14. Ben Blumson (2010). Maps and Meaning. Journal of Philosophical Research 35:123-128.
    It's possible to understand an infinite number of novel maps. I argue that Roberto Casati and Achille Varzi's compositional semantics of maps cannot explain this possibility, because it requires an infinite number of semantic primitives. So the semantics of maps is puzzlingly different from the semantics of language.
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  15. Ben Blumson (2010). Pictures, Perspective and Possibility. Philosophical Studies 149 (2):135 - 151.
    This paper argues for a possible worlds theory of the content of pictures, with three complications: depictive content is centred, two-dimensional and structured. The paper argues that this theory supports a strong analogy between depictive and other kinds of representation and the platitude that depiction is mediated by resemblance.
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  16. Ben Blumson (2009). Defining Depiction. British Journal of Aesthetics 49 (2):143-157.
    It is a platitude that whereas language is mediated by convention, depiction is mediated by resemblance. But this platitude may be attacked on the grounds that resemblance is either insufficient for or incidental to depictive representation. I defend common sense from this attack by using Grice's analysis of meaning to specify the non-incidental role of resemblance in depictive representation.
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  17. Ben Blumson (2009). Images, Intentionality and Inexistence. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3):522-538.
    The possibilities of depicting non-existents, depicting non-particulars and depictive misrepresentation are frequently cited as grounds for denying the platitude that depiction is mediated by resemblance. I first argue that these problems are really a manifestation of the more general problem of intentionality. I then show how there is a plausible solution to the general problem of intentionality which is consonant with the platitude.
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  18. Ben Blumson (2008). Depiction and Convention. Dialectica 62 (3):335-348.
    By defining both depictive and linguistic representation as kinds of symbol system, Nelson Goodman attempts to undermine the platitude that, whereas linguistic representation is mediated by convention, depiction is mediated by resemblance. I argue that Goodman is right to draw a strong analogy between the two kinds of representation, but wrong to draw the counterintuitive conclusion that depiction is not mediated by resemblance.
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