There are two competing views of knowledge-how: Intellectualism and anti-intellectualism. According to the reductionist varieties of intellectualism defended by Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson (2001) and Berit Brogaard (2007, 2008, 2009), knowledge-how simply reduces to knowledge-that. To a first approximation, s knows how to A iff there is a w such that s knows that w is a way to A. For example, John knows how to ride a bicycle if and only if there is a way w such (...) that John knows that w is a way to ride a bicycle. John Bengson and Marc Moffett (2007) defend an anti-reductionist version of intellectualism which takes knowledge-how to require, in addition, that s understand the concepts involved in her belief. According to the anti-intellectualist accounts originally defended by Gilbert Ryle (1946) and many others after him, knowledge-how requires the possession of a practical ability and so knowing that w (for some w) is a way to A does not suffice for knowing-how. For example, John knows how to ride a bicycle only if John has the ability to ride it; if John merely knows that w (for some w) is a way to ride a bicycle, John does not know how to ride a bicycle. Here I will argue for a conciliatory position that is compatible with the reductionist variety of intellectualism: knowledge-how is reducible to knowledge-that. But, I argue, there are knowledge states which are not justification-entailing and knowledge states which are not belief-entailing. Both kinds of knowledge state require the possession of practical abilities. I conclude by arguing that the view defended naturally leads to a disjunctive conception of abilities as either essentially involving mental states or as not essentially involving mental states. Only the former kind of ability is a kind of knowledge-state, viz. a knowledge-how state. (shrink)
Are conscious states conscious in virtue of representing themselves? Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-8 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9762-x Authors Berit Brogaard, Department of Philosophy, University of Missouri, St. Louis, 599 Lucas Hall, One University Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63121-4400, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Perspectivalism is a semantic theory according to which the contents of utterances and mental states (perhaps of a particular kind) have a truth-value only relative to a particular perspective (or standard) determined by the context of the speaker or bearer of the mental state. I have defended this view for epistemic terms, moral terms and predicates of personal taste elsewhere (Brogaard 2008a, 2008b, forthcoming). The main aim of this paper is to defend perspectivalism about color perception and color discourse. (...) The content of color perception and color discourse, I will argue, has a truth-value only relative to a centered world containing an appropriate viewing condition and the perceiver, or a perceiver that is deferred to. (shrink)
Perspectivalism is a semantic theory according to which the contents of utterances and mental states (perhaps of a particular kind) have a truth-value only relative to a particular perspective (or standard) determined by the context of the speaker, assessor, or bearer of the mental state. I have defended this view for epistemic terms, moral terms and predicates of personal taste elsewhere (Brogaard 2008a, 2008b, forthcoming a). The main aim of this paper is to defend perspectivalism about color perception and (...) color discourse. The content of color perception and color discourse, I will argue, has a truth-value only relative to an appropriate viewing condition and the perceiver, or a perceiver deferred to. (shrink)
Lewis/Stalnaker semantics has it that all counterpossibles (i.e., counterfactual conditionals with impossible antecedents) are vacuously true. Non-vacuism, by contrast, says the truth-values of counterpossibles are affected by the truth-values of the consequents. Some counterpossibles are true, some false. Williamson objects to non-vacuism. He asks us to consider someone who answered ‘11’ to ‘What is 5 + 7?’ but who mistakenly believes that he answered ‘13’. For the non-vacuist, (1) is false, (2) true: (1) If 5 + 7 were 13, x (...) would have got that sum right (2) If 5 + 7 were 13, x would have got that sum wrong Williamson is not persuaded by the initial intuitiveness of such examples: ... they tend to fall apart when thought through. For example, if 5 + 7 were 13 then 5 + 6 would be 12, and so (by another eleven steps) 0 would be 1, so if the number of right answers I gave were 0, the number of right answers I gave would be 1. (2006) That’s the whole argument—much of it implicit. Alan Baker’s critique (2007) of Brogaard and Salerno (2007) prompts us to say something less abbreviated about a less abbreviated form of Wiliamson’s argument. Then we further develop our (2007) counterfactual analysis of essense. (shrink)
In a recent response paper to Brogaard (2011a), Morten Overgaard and Thor Grünbaum argue that my case for the claim that blindsight subjects are not visually conscious of the stimuli they correctly identify rests on a mistaken necessary criterion for determining whether a conscious experience is visual or non-visual. Here I elaborate on the earlier argu- ment while conceding that the question of whether blindsight subjects are visually con- scious of the visual stimuli they correctly identify largely is an (...) empirical question. I conclude by sketching a method for testing whether blindsight subjects have visual con- sciousness of stimuli presented to them in their blind ﬁeld. (shrink)
Moral relativism provides a compelling explanation of linguistic data involving ordinary moral expressions like 'right' and 'wrong'. But it is a very radical view. Because relativism relativizes sentence truth to contexts of assessment it forces us to revise standard linguistic theory. If, however, no competing theory explains all of the evidence, perhaps it is time for a paradigm shift. However, I argue that a version of moral contextualism can account for the same data as relativism without relativizing sentence truth to (...) contexts of assessment. This version of moral contextualism is thus preferable to relativism on methodological grounds. (shrink)
The contextualist epistemological theories proposed by David Lewis and othersoffer a view of knowledge which awards a central role to the contexts ofknowledge attributions. Such contexts are held to determine how strong anepistemic position must be in order to count as knowledge. Lewis has suggestedthat contextualism so construed can be used both to ward off the skeptic and tosolve the Gettier problem. A person knows P, he says, just in case her evidenceeliminates every possibility that not-P, where the domain of (...) `every' is determinedby the context. Lewis provides a list of rules that can tell us, for a given context,which not-P possibilities must be eliminated and which can properly be ignored.But his account entails, counterintuitively, that knowledge can truly be attributedeven to a person in a Gettier situation provided only that the attributor is ignorantof the fact that the person is gettiered. It has been criticized on those grounds byS. Cohen. In this paper I shall argue that most other forms of contextualism sufferthe same fate as Lewis's. The allies of contextualism haven't yet shown us whethercontextualism can succeed in maintaining a notion of ordinary knowledge whileresisting the absurdity that knowledge can be a matter of sheer good luck. At theend of the paper I shall suggest a possible solution to the problem by showing howCohen's line of criticism leads to a modified conception of what sort of justificationa belief must have to count as knowledge in ordinary contexts. (shrink)
Since the publication of David Lewis’ Counterfactuals, the standard line on subjunctive conditionals with impossible antecedents (or counterpossibles) has been that they are vacuously true. That is, a conditional of the form ‘If p were the case, q would be the case’ is trivially true whenever the antecedent, p, is impossible. The primary justification is that Lewis’ semantics best approximates the English subjunctive conditional, and that a vacuous treatment of counterpossibles is a consequence of that very elegant theory. Another justification (...) derives from the classical lore than if an impossibility were true, then anything goes. In this paper we defend non-vacuism, the view that counterpossibles are sometimes non-vacuously true and sometimes non-vacuously false. We do so while retaining a Lewisian semantics, which is to say, the approach we favor does not require us to abandon classical logic or a similarity semantics. It does however require us to countenance impossible worlds. An impossible worlds treatment of counterpossibles is suggested (but not defended) by Lewis (Counterfactuals. Blackwell, Oxford, 1973), and developed by Nolan (Notre Dame J Formal Logic 38:325–527, 1997), Kment (Mind 115:261–310, 2006a: Philos Perspect 20:237–302, 2006b), and Vander Laan (In: Jackson F, Priest G (eds) Lewisian themes. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004). We follow this tradition, and develop an account of comparative similarity for impossible worlds. (shrink)
Naive realism is one of the oldest theories of perception. To a first approximation, naive realism is the view that perception is a direct relation between a subject and an object. Many historical philosophers (from Locke to Russell) argued that naive realism must be rejected on the grounds that hallucinations are perceptual experiences without an object. Contemporary philosophers have resurrected the theory by insisting that genuine cases of perception have a different structure or a different metaphysical status than non-genuine ones. (...) This version of naive realism has come to be known as ‘disjunctivism’. Epistemological disjunctivism and disjunctivism about phenomenal belief, or what I shall call ‘Epistemological disjunctivism’, have also gained popularity in recent years. More recently disjunctivist accounts of bodily movements, abilities and reasons for action have entered the philosophical scene. This entry focuses on the contemporary debate about disjunctivism: its characterization, its motivation and its potential shortcomings. (shrink)
Relativism offers a nifty way of accommodating most of our intuitions about epistemic modals, predicates of personal taste, color expressions, future contingents, and conditionals. But in spite of its manifest merits relativism is squarely at odds with epistemic value monism: the view that truth is the highest epistemic goal. I will call the argument from relativism to epistemic value pluralism the trivial argument for epistemic value pluralism. After formulating the argument, I will look at three possible ways to refute it. (...) I will then argue that two of these are unsuccessful, and defend the third, which involves denying that there are any genuinely relative truths. (shrink)
Kit Fine (1994. “Essence and Modality”, Philosophical Perspectives 8: 1-16) argues that the standard modal account of essence as de re modality is ‘fundamentally misguided’ (p. 3). We agree with his critique and suggest an alternative counterfactual analysis of essence. As a corollary, our counterfactual account lends support to non-vacuism the thesis that counterpossibles (i.e., counterfactual conditionals with impossible antecedents) are not always vacuously true.
The so-called Meno problem is one of the recent trendy topics in epistemology.1 In a nutshell, the Meno problem is that of explaining why we value knowledge more than true belief. In his recent book The Value of Knowledge and the Pursuit of Understanding Jon Kvanvig argues quite convincingly that no existing account of knowledge can accommodate the intuition that the value of knowledge exceeds the value of true belief.
0. Relativistic Content In standard semantics, propositional content, whether it be the content of utterances or mental states, has a truth-value relative only to a possible world. For example, the content of my utterance of ‘Jim is sitting now’ is true just in case Jim is sitting at the time of utterance in the actual world, and the content of my belief that Alice will give a talk tomorrow is true just in case Alice will give a talk on the (...) day following the occurrence of my belief state in the actual world. Let us call propositional content which has a truth-value relative only to a possible world ‘non-relativistic content’. Non-relativistic content can be treated as either structured or unstructured. On the unstructured-content view, non-relativistic content is a set of possible worlds and bears the truth-value true just in case the actual world is a member of that set. For example, the content of my utterance of ‘Jim is working now’ at time t is the set of worlds in which Jim is working at t, and this content is true just in case the actual world is among those worlds. On the structured-content view, non-relativistic content is a set or conglomeration of properties and/or objects, where properties are features which objects possess regardless of who considers or observes them and regardless of when they are being considered or observed. Such properties are said to be (or represent) functions from possible worlds to extensions. Relative to a possible world they determine a set of objects instantiating the property. For example, relative to the actual world the property of being human determines the set of actual humans. Not all content is non-relativistic. Let us say that propositional content is relativistic just in case it possesses a truth-value only relative to a centered world. A centered world is a possible world in which an individual and a time are marked, where the marked individual.. (shrink)
A meaningful life, we shall argue, is a life upon which a certain sort of valuable pattern has been imposed by the person in question?a pattern which involves in serious ways the person having an effect upon the world. Meaningfulness is thus a special kind of value which a human life can bear. Two interrelated difficulties face ths proposal. One concerns responsiblity: how are we to account for the fact that a life that satisfies the above criteria can have more (...) meaning than a life with the same positive outcomes but which lacks responsiblity on the part of the agent? The other turns on these outcomes themselves: how can the meaningfulness engendered by actions you perform now be affected by what those actions go on to produce in the future, perhaps even after your death? We provide a response to both of these difficulties. (shrink)
The assumption that the future is open makes well known problems for traditional semantics. According to a commonly held intuition, today's occurrence of the sentence 'There will be a sea battle tomorrow', while truth-valueless today, will have a determinate truth-value by tomorrow night. Yet given traditional semantics, sentences that are truth-valueless now cannot later 'become' true. Relativistic semantics has been claimed to do a better job of accommodating intuitions about future contingents than non-relativistic semantics does. However, intuitions about future contingents (...) cannot by themselves give good reasons for shifting to a new paradigm, for despite the initial appearances, standard non-relativistic semantics (plus an account of truth-value gaps) can accommodate both intuitions about future contingents. (shrink)
I respond to three arguments aimed at establishing that natural kind properties occur in the experiential content of visual experience: the argument from phenomenal difference, the argument from mandatory seeing, and the argument from associative agnosia. I conclude with a simple argument against the view that natural kind properties occur in the experiential content of visual experience.
There are two doctrines for which Quine is particularly well known: the doctrine of ontological commitment and the inscrutability thesis—the thesis that reference and quantification are inscrutable. At first glance, the two doctrines are squarely at odds. If there is no fact of the matter as to what our expressions refer to, then it would appear that no determinate commitments can be read off of our best theories. We argue here that the appearance of a clash between the two doctrines (...) is illusory. The reason that there is no real conflict is not simply that in determining our theories’ ontological commitments we naturally rely on our home language but also (and more importantly) that ontological commitment is not intimately tied to objectual quantification and a reference-first approach to language. Or so we will argue. We conclude with a new inscrutability argument which rests on the observation that the notion of objectual quantification, when properly cashed out, deflates. (shrink)
I argue that McDowell-style disjunctivism, as the position is often cashed out, goes wrong because it takes the good epistemic standing of veridical perception to be grounded in “manifest” facts which do not necessarily satisfy any epistemic constraints. A better form of disjunctivism explains the difference between good and bad cases in terms of epistemic constraints that the states satisfy. This view allows us to preserve McDowell’s thesis that good cases make facts manifest, as long as manifest facts must satisfy (...) epistemic constraints. (shrink)
David Milner and Melvyn Goodale’s dissociation hypothesis is commonly taken to state that there are two functionally specialized cortical streams of visual processing originating in striate (V1) cortex: a dorsal, action-related “unconscious” stream and a ventral, perception-related “conscious” stream. As Milner and Goodale acknowledge, findings from blindsight studies suggest a more sophisticated picture that replaces the distinction between unconscious vision for action and conscious vision for perception with a tripartite division between unconscious vision for action, conscious vision for perception, and (...) unconscious vision for perception. The combination excluded by the tripartite division is the possibility of conscious vision for action. But are there good grounds for concluding that there is no conscious vision for action? There is now overwhelming evidence that illusions and perceived size can have a significant effect on action (Bruno & Franz, 2009; Dassonville & Bala, 2004; Franz & Gegenfurtner, 2008; McIntosh & Lashley, 2008). There is also suggestive evidence that any sophisticated visual behavior requires collaboration between the two visual streams at every stage of the process (Schenk & McIntosh, 2010). I nonetheless want to make a case for the tripartite division between unconscious vision for action, conscious vision for perception, and unconscious vision for perception. My aim here is not to refute the evidence showing that conscious vision can affect action but rather to argue (a) that we cannot gain cognitive access to action-guiding dorsal stream representations, and (b) that these representations do not correlate with phenomenal consciousness. This vindicates the semi-conservative view that the dissociation hypothesis is best understood as a tripartite division. (shrink)
Reductionists about knowledge-wh hold that "s knows-wh" (e.g. "John knows who stole his car") is reducible to "there is a proposition p such that s knows that p, and p answers the indirect question of the wh-clause." Anti-reductionists hold that "s knows-wh" is reducible to "s knows that p, as the true answer to the indirect question of the wh-clause." I argue that both of these positions are defective. I then offer a new analysis of knowledge-wh as a special kind (...) of de re knowledge. (shrink)
Virtue reliabilism appears to have a major advantage over generic reliabilism: only the former has the resources to explain the intuition that knowledge is more valuable than mere true belief. I argue that this appearance is illusory. It is sustained only by the misguided assumption that a principled distinction can be drawn between those belief-forming methods that are grounded in the agent’s intellectual virtues, and those that are not. A further problem for virtue reliabilism is that of explaining why knowledge (...) is more valuable than mere justified true belief. I argue that virtue reliabilism lacks the resources to explain this value difference. I conclude by considering what it would take for a theory to explain the extra value of knowledge over mere justified true belief. (shrink)
I. Non-Trivial Counterpossibles On Lewis’ account, a subjunctive of the form ‘if it were the case that p, it would be the case that q’ (represented as ‘p → q’) is to be given the following rough meta-linguistic truth-conditions1.
The truthmaker theory rests on the thesis that the link between a true judgment and that in the world to which it corresponds is not a one-to-one but rather a one-to-many relation. An analogous thesis in relation to the link between a singular term and that in the world to which it refers is already widely accepted. This is the thesis to the effect that singular reference is marked by vagueness of a sort that is best understood in supervaluationist terms. (...) In what follows we show that the supervaluationist approach to singular reference, when wedded to the truthmaker idea, yields a framework of surprising power, which offers a uniform set of solutions to a range of problems regarding identity, reference and knowledge, problems which have hitherto been dealt with on an ad hoc basis. (shrink)
It is sometimes said that no living philosopher is a genuine modal realist. This is no doubt an exaggeration. But at least this much is true: while we all partake of possible world talk when philosophizing, most of us regard this talk as incurring no commitment to a plurality of concrete worlds.
With the aid of some results from current linguistic theory I examine a recent anti-Fregean line with respect to hybrid talk of numbers and ordinary things, such as ‘the number of moons of Jupiter is four’. I conclude that the anti-Fregean line with respect to these sentences is indefensible.
The nature of the colors—what they are like, whether they are instantiated by objects or are projected by our minds, whether their nature is revealed to us in color perception, and whether there could be alien colors (e.g. reddish-green)—has been one of the central topics in philosophy for centuries. This entry focuses on the contemporary philosophical debate about the nature of the colors.
Roderick Chisholm argued that ‘look’ can be used in three different ways: epistemically, comparatively and non-comparatively. Chisholm’s non-comparative sense of ‘look’ played an important role in Frank Jackson’s argument for the sense-datum theory. The question remains..
Attitude reports are reports about people’s states of mind. They are reports about what people think, believe, know, know a priori, imagine, hate, wish, fear, and the like. So, for example, I might report that s knows p, or that she imagines p, or that she hates p, where p specifies the content to which s is purportedly related. One lively current debate centers around the question of what sort of specification is involved when such attitude reports are successful. Some (...) hold that it is specification of the precise content of a mental state; others hold that it is specification of the content of a mental state only relative to a mode of presentation; yet others hold that it is merely a description or characterization of the content of a mental state. After providing a brief introduction to the traditional debate on attitude reports, this entry argues that for certain kinds of knowledge reports and for so-called de re attitude reports, descriptive theories emerge as the most plausible. The entry concludes with a discussion of how the characterizing relation between attitude reports and mental states might be construed. (shrink)
It is widely agreed that contraposition, strengthening the antecedent and hypothetical syllogism fail for subjunctive conditionals. The following putative counter-examples are frequently cited, respectively.
I will begin with a brief presentation of C & H’s arguments against nonindexical contextualism, temporalism, and relativism. I will then offer a general argument against the monadic truth package. Finally, I will offer arguments in favor of nonindexical contextualism and temporalism.
I argue that strong representationalism, the view that for a perceptual experience to have a certain phenomenal character just is for it to have a certain representational content (perhaps represented in the right sort of way), encounters two problems: the dual looks problem and the duplication problem. The dual looks problem is this: strong representationalism predicts that how things phenomenally look to the subject reflects the content of the experience. But some objects phenomenally look to both have and not have (...) certain properties, for example, my bracelet may phenomenally look to be circular-shaped and oval-shaped (and hence non-circularshaped). So, if strong representationalism is true, then the content of my experience ought to represent my bracelet as being both circular-shaped and non-circular-shaped. Yet, intuitively, the content of my experience does not represent my bracelet as being both circular-shaped and non-circular-shaped. The duplication problem is this. On a standard conception of content, spatio-temporally distinct experiences and experiences had by distinct subjects may differ in content despite the fact that they are phenomenally indistinguishable. But this undermines the thesis that phenomenal character determines content. I argue that the two problems can be solved by applying a version of an idea from David Chalmers, which is to recognize the existence of genuinely centered properties in the content of perceptual experience. (shrink)
We have a strong intuition that a person’s moral standing should not be affected by luck, but the fact is that we do blame a morally unfortunate person more than her fortunate counterpart. This is the problem of moral luck. I argue that the problem arises because account is not taken of the fact that the extension of the term ‘blame’ is contextually determined. Loosely speaking, the more likely an act is to have an undesirable consequence, the more its agent (...) is to blame. But how likely a consequence is depends on which possibilities of harm we take to be relevant. (shrink)
When does a human being begin to exist? We argue that it is possible, through a combination of biological fact and philosophical analysis, to provide a definitive answer to this question. We lay down a set of conditions for being a human being, and we determine when, in the course of normal fetal development, these conditions are first satisfied. Issues dealt with along the way include: modes of substance-formation, twinning, the nature of the intra-uterine environment, and the nature of the (...) relation between fetus and mother (connection, parthood, dependence). (shrink)
Knobe argues that people’s judgments of the moral status of a side-effect of action influence their assessment of whether the side-effect is intentional. We tested this hypothesis using vignettes akin to Knobe’s but involving economically or eudaimonistically (wellness-related) negative side-effects. Our results show that it is people’s sense of what agents deserve and not the moral status of side-effects that drives intuition.
Blindsight, the ability to blindly discriminate wavelength and other aspects of stimuli in a blind field, sometimes occurs in people with lesions to striate (V1) cortex. There is currently no consensus on whether qualitative color information of the sort that is normally computed by double opponent cells in striate cortex is indeed computed in blindsight but doesn?t reach awareness, perhaps owing to abnormal neuron responsiveness in striate or extra-striate cortical areas, or is not computed at all. The existence of primesight, (...) the experience of colored afterimages in blindsight, has been taken to suggest that qualitative color information is computed either in pre-striate or striate cortical areas but is not broadcast to working memory. I argue here that a recent study in which color phosphenes were induced in a blindsighter using bilateral transcranial magnetic stimulation indicates that computations necessary for conscious color vision are lost in blindsight. Owing to this loss, the neural responsiveness in extrastriate cortical areas is abnormal and hence is unable to give rise to color awareness. Blindsight is thus degraded vision in which the computations necessary for conscious color vision have been lost. (shrink)
Russell’s new theory of denoting phrases introduced in “On Denoting” in Mind 1905 is now a paradigm of analytic philosophy. The main argument for Russell’s new theory is the so-called ‘Gray’s Elegy’ argument, which purports to show that the theory of denoting concepts (analogous to Frege’s theory of senses) promoted by Russell in the 1903 Principles of Mathematics is incoherent. The ‘Gray’s Elegy’ argument rests on the premise that if a denoting concept occurs in a proposition, then the proposition is (...) not about the concept. I argue that the premise is false. The ‘Gray’s Elegy’ argument does not exhaust Russell’s ammunition against the theory of denoting concepts. Another reason Russell rejects the theory is, as he says, that it cannot provide an adequate account of non-uniquely denoting concepts. In the last section of the paper, I argue that even though Russell was right in thinking that the theory of denoting concepts cannot provide an adequate account of non-uniquely denoting concepts, Russell’s new theory does not succeed in eliminating the occurrence of all denoting concepts, as it requires a commitment to the existence of variables that indirectly denote their values. However, the view that variables are denoting concepts is unproblematic once the ‘Gray’s Elegy’ argument is blocked. (shrink)
Relativism offers an ingenious way of accommodating most of our intuitions about 'know': the truth-value of sentences containing 'know' is a function of parameters determined by a context of use and a context of assessment. This sort of double-indexing provides a more adequate account of the linguistic data involving 'know' than does standard contextualism. However, relativism has come under recent attack: it supposedly cannot account for the factivity of 'know', and it entails, counterintuitively, that circumstances of evaluation have features that (...) cannot be shifted by any intensional operator. I offer replies to these objections on behalf of the relativist. I then argue that a version of contextualism can account for the same data as relativism without relativizing sentence truth to contexts of assessment. This version of contextualism is thus preferable to relativism on methodological grounds. (shrink)
Let’s say that a philosophical theory is white just in case it treats the perspective of the white (perhaps Western male) as objective.1 The potential dangers of proposing or defending white theories are two-fold. First, if not all of reality is objective, a fact which I take to be established beyond doubt,2 then white theories could well turn out to be false.3 A white theory is unwarranted (and indeed false) when it treats nonobjective reality as objective. Second, by proposing or (...) defending unwarranted white theories one thereby treats the perspective of the non-white as faulty, and this in turn serves to perpetuate the distorted representation of whites as superior to non-whites. As David Owen puts it, [whiteness] serves to underwrite perceptions, understandings, justifications and explanations of the social order that perpetuate distortions in the social system that are a legacy of our nation’s history …what is associated with whiteness becomes defined as natural, normal or mainstream.4 In this chapter I will focus on a particular class of philosophical theories, viz. philosophical theories of color. I argue that realist theories of the objectivist variety.. (shrink)
The paper argues that the assumption that there are property designators, together with two theoretically innocent claims, leads to a puzzle, whose solution requires us to reject the position that all (canonical) property designators are rigid. But if we deny that all (canonical) property designators are rigid, then the natural next step is to reject an abundant conception of properties and with it the suggestion that properties are the semantic values of predicates.
Determiner phrases embedded under a propositional attitude verb have traditionally been taken to denote answers to implicit questions. For example, 'the capital of Vermont' as it occurs in 'John knows the capital of Vermont' has been thought to denote the proposition which answers the implicit question 'what is the capital of Vermont?' Thus, where 'know' is treated as a propositional attitude verb rather than an acquaintance verb, 'John knows the capital of Vermont' is true iff John knows that Montpelier is (...) the capital of Vermont. The traditional view lost its popularity long ago, because it was thought to rest on the controversial assumption that determiner phases embedded under a propositional attitude verb function semantically in the same way as the corresponding wh -clauses. Here we defend the traditional assumption against objections. We then argue that wh -clauses are not to be given a uniform treatment as indirect questions. When occurring under a propositional attitude verb, wh -clauses are better treated as having a predicate-type semantic value. We conclude by considering some possible objections to the predicate view. (shrink)
The paradox of knowability is a logical result suggesting that, necessarily, if all truths are knowable in principle then all truths are in fact known. The contrapositive of the result says, necessarily, if in fact there is an unknown truth, then there is a truth that couldn't possibly be known. More specifically, if p is a truth that is never known then it is unknowable that p is a truth that is never known. The proof has been used to argue (...) against versions of anti-realism committed to the thesis that all truths are knowable. For clearly there are unknown truths; individually and collectively we are non-omniscient. So, by the main result, it is false that all truths are knowable. The result has also been used to draw more general lessons about the limits of human knowledge. Still others have taken the proof to be fallacious, since it collapses an apparently moderate brand of anti-realism into an obviously implausible and naive idealism. (shrink)
Douglas Patterson argues that the best way to respond to the semantic paradoxes that arise in natural language is to take natural language semantics to be (explosively) inconsistent. According to Patterson, to understand a natural language is to share with others cognition of a false semantic theory. Patterson’s main argument runs as follows. English is expressively rich. So, the first sentence occurring in this review could be.
Mereotopology faces problems when its methods are extended to deal with time and change. We offer a new solution to these problems, based on a theory of partitions of reality which allows us to simulate (and also to generalize) aspects of set theory within a mereotopological framework. This theory is extended to a theory of coarse- and ﬁne-grained histories (or ﬁnite sequences of partitions evolving over time), drawing on machinery developed within the framework of the socalled ‘consistent histories’ interpretation of (...) quantum mechanics. (shrink)
Descriptions are phrases of the form ‘an F’, ‘the F’, ‘Fs’, ‘the Fs’ and NP's F (e.g. ‘John's mother’). They can be indefinite (e.g., ‘an F’ and ‘Fs’), definite (e.g. ‘the F’ and ‘the Fs’), singular (e.g., ‘an F’, ‘the F’) or plural (e.g., ‘the Fs’, ‘Fs’). In English plural indefinite descriptions lack an article and are for that reason also known as ‘bare plurals’. How to account for the semantics and pragmatics of descriptions has been one of the central (...) topics in philosophy for centuries. This entry focuses on the historical and contemporary philosophical debate about Bertrand Russell’s theory of descriptions and the theories that developed as responses to this theory. (shrink)