In what follows, I argue that the disturbing effect of the explanatory gap arises from an illusion, an implicit expectation that all “direct grasps of the essence” of a property are achieved by a homogeneous concept-forming faculty. But there is no such faculty. The truth is that our concepts form a mixed bag, drawing on experiential states, verbal conceptions, theoretical conceptual roles, and other concept-making factors. It should not be too surprising then if some pairs of concepts, even when they (...) directly capture the same essence, are not conceptually convertible. That would place conceptual—psychological—limits on explanation. (shrink)
Two naturalistic explications of propositional attitudes and their contents are distinguished: the language of thought based theory, on which beliefs are relations to sentences in the language of thought; and the propositional attitude based theory, on which beliefs are functional states of a functional system that does not imply a language of thought, although consistent with it. The latter theory depends on interpersonally ascribable conceptual roles; if these are not available, the language of thought theory has the advantage. But the (...) propositional attitude based theory explains intentionality and conceptual structure as well as the language of thought based theory, and it has two further advantages. First, it does not make the existence of beliefs and desires depend on the language of thought hypothesis. Secondly, its employment of interpersonally ascribable conceptual roles permits a theory of truth conditions to meet certain desiderata, such as a social basis for truth conditions, and a realist conception of truth. (shrink)
Is linguistic meaning to be accounted for independently of the states of mind of language users, or can it only be explained in terms of them? If the latter, what account of the mental states in question avoids circularity? In this book Brian Loar offers a subtle and comprehensive theory which both preserves the natural priority of the mind in explanations of meaning, and gives an independent characterisation of its features. It is a commonplace that in making decisions agents often (...) have to juggle competing values, and that no available choice Will maximise satisfaction of all of them. Prevailing accounts of rational decision making in such contexts asume that, once all factors are taken into consideration, the decision maker will reach a single ranking of his values, resolving the conflict between them. (shrink)
Frege and quine notwithstanding, Some singular terms in belief contexts have normal reference but do not admit truth-Preserving substitution of co-Referential terms. The conditions of a sentence's being true of a sequence of referents may be partially determined by its singular terms; substitution may change those conditions, While preserving genuine reference. On one reading, 'n believes that f is g' is true iff n believes of the f that it is the f and is g.