This paper contains replies to comments on the author's paper "A Priori Knowledge and the Scope of Philosophy." Several points in the argument of that paper are given further clarification: the notion of our standard justificatory procedure, the notion of a basic source of evidence, and the doctrine of modal reliabilism. The reliability of intuition is then defended against Lycan's skepticism and a response is given to Lycan's claim that the scope of a priori knowledge does not include philosophically central (...) topics such as the nature of consciousness. Next a counterfactual account of intuitions proposed by Sosa is criticized. Finally, in response to certain questions raised by Sosa, the explanation of the evidential status of intuition offered in the original paper receives further elaboration. (shrink)
In the history of philosophy, especially its recent history, a number of definitions of necessity have been ventured. Most people, however, find these definitions either circular or subject to counterexamples. I will show that, given a broadly Fregean conception of properties, necessity does indeed have a noncircular counterexample-free definition.
Modal intuitions are the primary source of modal knowledge but also of modal error. According to the theory of modal error in this paper, modal intuitions retain their evidential force in spite of their fallibility, and erroneous modal intuitions are in principle identifiable and eliminable by subjecting our intuitions to a priori dialectic. After an inventory of standard sources of modal error, two further sources are examined in detail. The first source - namely, the failure to distinguish between metaphysical possibility (...) and various kinds of epistemic possibility - turns out to be comparatively easy to untangle and poses little threat to intuition-driven philosophical investigation. The second source is the local (i.e., temporary) misunderstanding of one's concepts (as opposed to outright Burgean misunderstanding). This pathology may be understood on analogy with a patient who is given a clean bill of health at his annual check-up, despite his having a cold at the time of the check-up: although the patient's health is locally (temporarily) disrupted, his overall health is sufficiently good to enable him to overcome the cold without external intervention. Even when our understanding of certain pivotal concepts has lapsed locally, our larger body of intuitions is sufficiently reliable to allow us, without intervention, to ferret out the modal errors resulting from this lapse of understanding by means of dialectic and/or a process of a priori reflection. This source of modal error, and our capacity to overcome it, has wide-ranging implications for philosophical method - including, in particular, its promise for disarming skepticism about the classical method of intuition-driven investigation itself. Indeed, it is shown that skeptical accounts of modal error (e.g., the accounts given by Hill, Levin, and several others) are ultimately self-defeating. (shrink)
The paper begins with a clarification of the notions of intuition (and, in particular, modal intuition), modal error, conceivability, metaphysical possibility, and epistemic possibility. It is argued that two-dimensionalism is the wrong framework for modal epistemology and that a certain nonreductionist approach to the theory of concepts and propositions is required instead. Finally, there is an examination of moderate rationalism.
Ontological functionalism's defining tenet is that mental properties canbe defined wholly in terms of the general pattern of interaction ofontologically prior realizations. Ideological (or nonreductive)functionalism's defining tenet is that mental properties can only bedefined nonreductively, in terms of the general pattern of theirinteraction with one another. My Self-consciousness Argumentestablishes: (1) ontological functionalism is mistaken because itsproposed definitions wrongly admit realizations (vs. mentalproperties) into the contents of self-consciousness; (2)ideological (nonreductive) functionalism is the only viable alternativefor functionalists. Michael Tooley's critique misses the (...) target:he offers no criticism of (1) – except for an incidental, andincorrect, attack on certain self-intimation principles – and,since he himself proposes a certain form of nonreductive definition, hetacitly accepts (2). Finally, as with all other nonreductivedefinitions, Tooley's proposal can be shown to undermine functionalism'sultimate goal: its celebrated materialist solution to theMind-Body Problem. The explanation of these points will require adiscussion of: Frege-Russell disagreements regarding intensionalcontexts; the relationship between self-consciousness and thetraditional doctrine of acquaintance; the role of self-intimationprinciples in functionalist psychology; and the Kripke-Lewiscontroversy over the nature of theoretical terms. (shrink)
This paper has three parts. First, a discussion of our use of intuitions as evidence (reasons) in logic, mathematics, philosophy (hereafter, “the a priori disciplines”). Second, an explanation of why intuitions are evidence. The explanation is provided by modal reliabilism—the doctrine that there is a certain kind of qualified modal tie between intuitions and the truth. Third, an explanation of why there should be such a tie between intuitions and the truth. This tie is a consequence of what, by definition, (...) it is to possess the concepts involved in our intuitions. These three parts form the basis of a unified account of a priori evidence and, in turn, a priori knowledge. (shrink)
The topic of a priori knowledge is approached through the theory of evidence. A shortcoming in traditional formulations of moderate rationalism and moderate empiricism is that they fail to explain why rational intuition and phenomenal experience count as basic sources of evidence. This explanatory gap is filled by modal reliabilism -- the theory that there is a qualified modal tie between basic sources of evidence and the truth. This tie to the truth is then explained by the theory of concept (...) possession: this tie is a consequence of what, by definition, it is to possess (i.e., to understand) one’s concepts. A corollary of the overall account is that the a priori disciplines (logic, mathematics, philosophy) can be largely autonomous from the empirical sciences. (shrink)
1. In Critique of Pure Reason Kant introduced the term ‘analytic’ for judgments whose truth is guaranteed by a certain relation of ‘containment’ between the constituent concepts, and ‘synthetic’ for judgments which are not like this. Closely related terms were found in earlier writings of Locke, Hume and Leibniz. In Kant’s definition, an analytic judgment is one in which ‘the predicate B belongs to the subject A, as something which is (covertly) contained in this concept A’ ([1781/1787] 1965: 48). Kant (...) called such judgments ‘explicative’, contrasting them with synthetic judgments which are ‘ampliative’. A paradigmatic analyticity would be: bachelors are unmarried. Kant assumed that knowledge of analytic necessities has a uniquely transparent sort of explanation. In the succeeding two centuries the terms ‘analytic’ and ‘synthetic’ have been used in a variety of closely related but not strictly equivalent ways. In the early 1950s Morton White (1950) and W.V. Quine (1951) argued that the terms were fundamentally unclear and should be eschewed. Although a number of prominent philosophers have rejected their arguments, there prevails a scepticism about ‘analytic’ and the idea that there is an associated category of necessary truths having privileged epistemic status. (shrink)
Recent work in philosophy of language has raised significant problems for the traditional theory of propositions, engendering serious skepticism about its general workability. These problems are, I believe, tied to fundamental misconceptions about how the theory should be developed. The goal of this paper is to show how to develop the traditional theory in a way which solves the problems and puts this skepticism to rest. The problems fall into two groups. The first has to do with reductionism, specifically attempts (...) to reduce propositions to extensional entities-either extensional functions or sets. The second group concerns problems of fine grained content-both traditional 'Cicero'/'Tully' puzzles and recent variations on them which confront scientific essentialism. After characterizing the problems, I outline a non-reductionist approach-the algebraic approach-which avoids the problems associated with reductionism. I then go on to show how the theory can incorporate non-Platonic (as well as Platonic) modes of presentation. When these are implemented nondescriptively, they yield the sort of fine-grained distinctions which have been eluding us. The paper closes by applying the theory to a cluster of remaining puzzles, including a pair of new puzzles facing scientific essentialism. (shrink)
This paper summarizes and extends the transmodal argument for the existence of universals (developed in full detail in "Universals"). This argument establishes not only the existence of universals, but also that they exist necessarily, thereby confirming the ante rem view against the post rem and in re views (and also anti-existentialism against existentialism). Once summarized, the argument is extended to refute the trope theory of properties and is also shown to succeed even if possibilism is assumed. A nonreductionist theory of (...) universals and properties is then outlined, and it is sketched how to reap the benefits of possibilism and Meinongianism in an actualist setting. (shrink)
Self-consciousness constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to functionalism. Either the standard functional definitions of mental relations wrongly require the contents of self-consciousness to be propositions involving.
This paper provides a defense of two traditional theses: the Autonomy of Philosophy and the Authority of Philosophy. The first step is a defense of the evidential status of intuitions (intellectual seemings). Rival views (such as radical empiricism), which reject the evidential status of intuitions, are shown to be epistemically self-defeating. It is then argued that the only way to explain the evidential status of intuitions is to invoke modal reliabilism. This theory requires that intuitions have a certain qualified modal (...) tie to the truth. This result is then used as the basis of the defense of the Autonomy and Authority theses. The paper closes with a defense of the two theses against a potential threat from scientific essentialism. (shrink)
After a brief history of Brentano's thesis of intentionality, it is argued that intentionality presents a serious problem for materialism. First, it is shown that, if no general materialist analysis (or reduction) of intentionality is possible, then intentional phenomena would have in common at least one nonphysical property, namely, their intentionality. A general analysis of intentionality is then suggested. Finally, it is argued that any satisfactory general analysis of intentionality must share with this analysis a feature which entails the existence (...) of a nonphysical "level of organization". (shrink)
It is argued that, because of scientific essentialism, two currently popular arguments against the mind-body identity thesis -- the multiple-realizability argument and the Nagel-Jackson knowledge argument -- are unsatisfactory as they stand and that their problems are incurable. It is then argued that a refutation of the identity thesis in its full generality can be achieved by weaving together two traditional Cartesian arguments -- the modal argument and the certainty argument. This argument establishes, not just the falsity of the identity (...) thesis, but also the metaphysical possibility of disembodiment. (shrink)
This paper provides a new approach to a family of outstanding logical and semantical puzzles, the most famous being Frege's puzzle. The three main reductionist theories of propositions (the possible-worlds theory, the propositional-function theory, the propositional-complex theory) are shown to be vulnerable to Benacerraf-style problems, difficulties involving modality, and other problems. The nonreductionist algebraic theory avoids these problems and allows us to identify the elusive nondescriptive, non-metalinguistic, necessary propositions responsible for the indicated family of puzzles. The algebraic approach is also (...) used to defend antiexistentialism against existentialist prejudices. The paper closes with a suggestion about how this theory of content might enable us to give purely semantic (as opposed to pragmatic) solutions to the puzzles based on a novel formulation of the principle of compositionality. (shrink)
Presented here is an argument for the existence of universals. Like Church's translation-test argument, the argument turns on considerations from intensional logic. But whereas Church's argument turns on the fine-grained informational content of intensional sentences, this argument turns on the distinctive logical features of 'that'-clauses embedded within modal contexts. And unlike Church's argument, this argument applies against truth-conditions nominalism and also against conceptualism and in re realism (the doctrine that universals are ontologically dependent upon the existence of instances). So (...) if the argument is successful, it serves as a defense of full ante rem realism (the doctrine that universals exist independently of the existence of instances). The argument emphasizes the need for a unified treatment of intensional statements -- modal statements as well as statements of assertion and belief. The larger philosophical moral will be that ante rem universals are uniquely suited to carry a certain kind of modal information. Linguistic entities, mind-dependent universals, and instance-dependent universals are incapable of serving that function. (shrink)
Radical empiricism is the view that a person's experiences (sensory and introspective), or a person's observations, constitute the person's evidence. This view leads to epistemic self-defeat. There are three arguments, concerning respectively: (1) epistemic starting points; (2) epistemic norms; (3) terms of epistemic appraisal. The source of self-defeat is traced to the fact that empiricism does not count a priori intuition as evidence (where a priori intuition is not a form of belief but rather a form of seeming, specifically intellectual (...) as opposed to sensory). Moderate rationalism, by contrast, avoids self-defeat. (shrink)
Arguments are given against the thesis that properties and propositional functions are identical. The first shows that the familiar extensional treatment of propositional functions -- that, for all x, if f(x) = g(x), then f = g -- must be abandoned. Second, given the usual assumptions of propositional-function semantics, various propositional functions (e.g., constant functions) are shown not to be properties. Third, novel examples are given to show that, if properties were identified with propositional functions, crucial fine-grained intensional distinctions would (...) be lost. (shrink)
Scientific essentialism is the view that some necessities (e.g., water = H2O) can be known only with the aid of empirical science. The thesis of the paper is that scientific essentialism does not extend to the central questions of philosophy and that these questions can be answered a priori. The argument is that the evidence required for the defense of scientific essentialism (e.g., twin earth intuitions) is reliable only if the intuitions required by philosophy to answer its central questions is (...) also reliable. Included is an outline of a modal reliabilist theory of basic evidence and a concept-possession account of the reliability of a priori intuition. (shrink)
Higher-order theories of properties, relations, and propositions are known to be essentially incomplete relative to their standard notions of validity. It turns out that the first-order theory of PRPs that results when first-order logic is supplemented with a generalized intensional abstraction operation is complete. The construction involves the development of an intensional algebraic semantic method that does not appeal to possible worlds, but rather takes PRPs as primitive entities. This allows for a satisfactory treatment of both the modalities and the (...) propositional attitudes, and it suggests a general strategy for developing a comprehensive treatment of intensional logic. (shrink)
This study provides a unified theory of properties, relations, and propositions (PRPs). Two conceptions of PRPs have emerged in the history of philosophy. The author explores both of these traditional conceptions and shows how they can be captured by a single theory.
This is the only complete logic for properties, relations, and propositions (PRPS) that has been formulated to date. First, an intensional abstraction operation is adjoined to first-order quantifier logic, Then, a new algebraic semantic method is developed. The heuristic used is not that of possible worlds but rather that of PRPS taken at face value. Unlike the possible worlds approach to intensional logic, this approach yields a logic for intentional (psychological) matters, as well as modal matters. At the close of (...) the paper, the origin of incompleteness in logic is investigated. The culprit is found to be the predication relation, a relation on properties and relations that is expressed in natural language by the copula. (shrink)