I critically discuss two claims which Hannah Ginsborg makes on behalf of her account of meaning in terms of ‘primitive normativity’(2011; 2012): first, that it avoids the sceptical regress articulated by Kripke's Wittgenstein; second, that it makes sense of the thought—central to Kripke's Wittgenstein—that ‘meaning is normative’, in a way which shows this thought not only to be immune from recent criticisms but also to undermine reductively naturalistic theories of content. In the course of the discussion, I consider and attempt (...) to shed light on a number of issues: the structure of the sceptical regress; the content of the thought that ‘meaning is normative’, and its force against reductive theories; the connection between meaning and justification; and the notion of ‘primitive normativity’. (shrink)
John McDowell's conception of perceptual knowledge commits him to the claim that if I perceive that P then I am in a position to know that I perceive that P. In the first part of this essay, I present some reasons to be suspicious of this claim - reasons which derive from a general argument against 'luminosity' - and suggest that McDowell can reject this claim, while holding on to almost all of the rest of his conception of perceptual knowledge, (...) by supplementing his existing disjunctive conception of experience with a new disjunctive conception of perceiving. In the second part of the essay, I present some reasons for thinking that one's justification, in cases of perceptual knowledge, consists not in the fact that one perceives that P but in the fact that one perceives such-and-such. I end by suggesting that the disjunctive conception of perceiving should be understood as a disjunctive conception of perceiving such-and-such. (shrink)
Wilfrid Sellars employs the metaphor of the space of reasons to express a certain conception of knowledge: “in characterising an episode or state as that of knowing … one is placing it in the logical space of reasons, of justifying and being able to justify what one says”.1 A growing number of philosophers employ the same metaphor to express a conception of at least some (other) mental states: in characterising a state as that of belief, or intention, one is placing (...) it in the same logical space.2 The burden of Alan Millar’s characteristically careful and thought-provoking book is to tell us what this conception amounts to, and to argue for its truth. Its central claim is that the concepts of belief and intention, and what they are concepts of, are (in a sense to be explained) normative. Chapter four – “the heart of the book”, in Millar’s view3 – is devoted to explaining, and defending this claim. (shrink)
First paragraph: I want to discuss the place of naturalism in the philosophy of John McDowell. There are some people who think McDowell is a naturalist in name only.1 But I think there is an aspect of his thinking which merits the title. And I think it is an aspect he could well do without, in light of his recent attempt to understand his own philosophy as a Hegelian radicalization of Kantian themes.
Recent epistemology has reflected a growing interest in issues about the value of knowledge and the values informing epistemic appraisal. Is knowledge more valuable that merely true belief or even justified true belief? Is truth the central value informing epistemic appraisal or do other values enter the picture? Epistemic Value is a collection of previously unpublished articles on such issues by leading philosophers in the field. It will stimulate discussion of the nature of knowledge and of directions that might be (...) taken by the theory of knowledge. The contributors are Jason Baehr, Michael Brady, Berit Brogaard, Michael DePaul, Pascal Engel, Catherine Elgin, Alvin Goldman, John Greco, Stephen Grimm, Ward Jones, Martin Kusch, Jonathan Kvanvig, Michael Lynch, Erik Olsson, Wayne Riggs and Matthew Weiner. (shrink)
Arthur C. Danto’s Analytical Philosophy of History has a Kantian ambition: to state the conditions that make historical knowledge possible and to show “the unhappy destiny” that attends attempts to extend modes of representation beyond these conditions. Even though Danto’s book fails to achieve this ambition, it succeeds in making a number of important—if neglected—suggestions in the course of its attempt. One concerns the significance of the progressive tense for our thinking about human agency. Another concerns the way agency can (...) impact negatively on the possibility of foreknowledge. (shrink)
John McDowell espouses a certain conception of the thinking subject: as an embodied, living, finite being, with a capacity for experience that can take in the world, and stand in relations of warrant to subjects' beliefs. McDowell presents this conception of the subject as requiring a related conception of the world: as not located outside the conceptual sphere. In this latter conception, idealism and common-sense realism are supposed to coincide. But I suggest that McDowell's conception of the subject scuppers this (...) intended coincidence. The upshot is a dilemma: McDowell can retain his conception of the subject, but lose the coincidence; or he can keep the coincidence, but abandon his conception of the subject. (shrink)
Inspired by the writings of J. M. Hinton (1967a, 1967b, 1973), but ushered into the mainstream by Paul Snowdon (1980–1, 1990–1), John McDowell (1982, 1986), and M. G. F. Martin (2002, 2004, 2006), disjunctivism is currently discussed, advocated, and opposed in the philosophy of perception, the theory of knowledge, the theory of practical reason, and the philosophy of action. But what is disjunctivism?
Jennifer Hornsby's account of human action frees us from the temptation to think of the person who acts as 'doing' the events that are her actions, and thereby removes much of the allure of 'agent causation'. But her account is spoiled by the claim that physical actions are 'tryings' that cause bodily movements. It would be better to think of physical actions and bodily movements as identical; but Hornsby refuses to do this, seemingly because she thinks that to do so (...) would be to endorse the so-called 'standard causal story'. But Hornsby misses a possibility here, for we can insist on this identity claim without endorsing the standard story if we embrace an account which parallels the disjunctive account in the philosophy of perception. This will leave us with a picture of physical action that saves the insights of Hornsby's account without succumbing to its distortions. (shrink)
This article seeks to answer the following questions: is Quentin Skinner right to claim that actions in the past should not be described by means of concepts not available at the time those actions occurred? And is Ian Hacking right to claim that such descriptions do not merely describe but actually change the past? The author begins by arguing that it is not clear precisely what Skinner is claiming and shows how, under the pressure of criticism, his methodological strictures collapse (...) into trivialities. The author then argues that, although Hacking has given us no reason to accept his claim, we can make sense of it by appealing to the idea of a "Cambridge change." The author concludes by suggesting that as long as we are exercising the right kind of concepts, a suitably modified version of Hacking 's conclusion can be retained. Key Words: action history changes in the past Quentin Skinner Ian Hacking. (shrink)