This volume is a collective exploration of major themes in the work of Crispin Wright, one of today's leading philosophers. These newly commissioned papers are divided into four sections, preceded by a substantial Introduction, which places them in the context of the development of Wright's ideas. The distinguished contributors address issues such as the rule-following problem, knowledge of our meanings and minds, truth, realism, anti-realism and relativism, as well as the nature of perceptual justification, the cogency of arguments (...) such as G. E. Moore's celebrated proof of an external world, and skepticism about the material world. Some papers explore the relationship of Wright's ideas with those of Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose influence has always been a prominent aspect of Wright's philosophy. The essays collectively testify to the enormous interest and relevance of Wright's seminal contributions for present-day debates in areas as diverse as the philosophy of language and mind, metaphysics, and epistemology, and significantly advance research in these areas. The volume also contains Wright's substantial responses to his critics, which offer the most up-to-date versions of his ideas and a vigorous defense of his philosophy. (shrink)
In the philosophy of perception, typically, everything is illuminated. Discussions of perceptual experience primarily focus on subjects situated in illuminated environs. Rarely do we see treatment of putative perceptual experience involving darkness. In this paper, I will carefully canvas and characterize the nature of experiences of darkness, marking a substantive distinction between two such kinds of experiences. Crucially, I give an account of the distinctive phenomenology of experiences of darkness, and show that neither of the two broad kinds of experiences (...) of darkness requires, as Roy Sorensen has recently suggested, the reification of unfamiliar entities to serve as objects of perceptual awareness. I will also offer potential candidates for the proper representational contents of experiences of darkness. This exploration not only reveals that such experiences pose no threat to a view like representationalism, but also demonstrates how experiences of darkness can be given their rightful place in a naturalistic theory of perceptual awareness. Atlast, darkness will be brought out from the shadows. A dungeon horrible, on all sides round, As one great furnace flamed, yet from those flames No light; but rather darkness visible ? ?John Milton, Paradise Lost. (shrink)
"Dogmatism" is a term renovated by James Pryor  to stand for a certain kind of neo-Moorean response to Scepticism and an associated conception of the architecture of basic perceptual warrant. Pryor runs the response only for (some kinds of) perceptual knowledge but here I will be concerned with its general structure and potential as a possible global anti-sceptical strategy. Something like it is arguably also present in recent writings of Burge 1 and Peacocke.2 If the global strategy could succeed, (...) (...) it would pre-empt any role in the diagnosis and treatment of sceptical paradoxes for the kind of notion of entitlement (rational, non-evidential warrant) I have proposed elsewhere [Wright 2004]. But my overarching contention will be that Dogmatism is, generally and locally, too problematic a stance to be helpful in that project. (shrink)
The pain of rejection, the sweetness of revenge Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-12 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9794-2 Authors Crispin Wright, Department of Philosophy, New York University, 5 Washington Place, New York, NY, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Comment on Paul Boghossian, “The nature of inference” Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-11 DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9892-9 Authors Crispin Wright, New York University, New York, NY, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Growing-Block theorists hold that past and present things are real, while future things do not yet exist. This generates a puzzle: how can Growing-Block theorists explain the fact that some sentences about the future appear to be true? Briggs and Forbes develop a modal ersatzist framework, on which the concrete actual world is associated with a branching-time structure of ersatz possible worlds. They then show how this branching structure might be used to determine the truth values of future contingents. (...) They point out three different ways of interpreting the logical connectives, which give rise to three different logics of the open future: one supervaluationist, one corresponding to Lukasiewicz's strong Kleene logic, and one intuitionist. (shrink)
[Crispin Wright] Two kinds of epistemological sceptical paradox are reviewed and a shared assumption, that warrant to accept a proposition has to be the same thing as having evidence for its truth, is noted. 'Entitlement', as used here, denotes a kind of rational warrant that counter-exemplifies that identification. The paper pursues the thought that there are various kinds of entitlement and explores the possibility that the sceptical paradoxes might receive a uniform solution if entitlement can be made to reach (...) sufficiently far. Three kinds of entitlement are characterised and given prima facie support, and a fourth is canvassed. Certain foreseeable limitations of the suggested anti-sceptical strategy are noted. The discussion is grounded, overall, in a conception of the sceptical paradoxes not as directly challenging our having any warrant for large classes of our beliefs but as crises of intellectual conscience for one who wants to claim that we do. /// [Martin Davies] Wright's account of sceptical arguments and his use of the idea of epistemic entitlement are reviewed. His notion of non-transmission of epistemic warrant is explained and a concern about his notion of entitlement is developed. An epistemological framework different from Wright's is described and several notions of entitlement are introduced. One of these, negative entitlement, is selected for more detailed comparison with Wright's notion. Thereafter, the paper shows how the two notions of entitlement have contrasting consequences for non-transmission of warrant and how they go naturally with two conceptions of the presuppositions of epistemic projects. Problems for negative entitlement are explained and solutions are proposed. (shrink)
Two and a half thousand years ago Greek philosophers "looked up at the sky and formed a theory of everything." Though their solutions are little credited today, the questions remain fresh. Early Greek thinkers struggled to come to terms with and explain the totality of their surroundings, to identitify an original substance from which the universe was compounded, and to reconcile the presence of balance and proportion with the apparent disorder of the cosmos. M. R. Wright examines cosmological theories (...) of the "natural philosophers" from Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes to Plato, the Stoics and the NeoPlatonists. The importance of Babylonian and Egyptian forerunners is also emphasized. Cosmology in Antiquity is a comprehensive introduction to the cosmological thought in ancient times. (shrink)
Abstract Can the wise person be fooled? The Stoics take a very strong view on this question, holding that the wise person (or sage) is never deceived and never believes anything that is false. This seems to be an implausibly strong claim, but it follows directly from some basic tenets of the Stoic cognitive and psychological world-view. In developing an account of what wisdom really requires, I will explore the tenets of the Stoic view that lead to this infallibilism about (...) wisdom, and show that many of the elements of the Stoic picture can be preserved in a more plausible fallibilist approach. Specifically, I propose to develop a Stoic fallibilist virtue epistemology that is based on the Stoic model of the moral virtues. This model of the intellectual virtues will show that (in keeping with a folk distinction) the wise person is never befooled, though that person might be fooled. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-14 DOI 10.1007/s12136-012-0158-0 Authors Sarah Wright, Department of Philosophy, University of Georgia, 107 Peabody Hall, Athens, GA 30602, USA Journal Acta Analytica Online ISSN 1874-6349 Print ISSN 0353-5150. (shrink)
This is a 5 page summary with three diagrams of the main objectives and some work in progress at the University of Birmingham Cognition and Affect project. involving: Professor Glyn Humphreys (School of Psychology), and Luc Beaudoin, Chris Paterson, Tim Read, Edmund Shing, Ian Wright, Ahmed El-Shafei, and (from October 1994) Chris Complin (research students). The project is concerned with "global" design requirements for coping simultaneously with coexisting but possibly unrelated goals, desires, preferences, intentions, and other kinds of motivators, (...) all at different stages of processing. Our work builds on and extends seminal ideas of H.A.Simon (1967). We are exploring "broad and shallow" architectures combining varied capabilities most of which are not implemented in great depth. The poster summarises some ideas about management and meta-management processes, attention filtering, and the relevance to emotional states involved "perturbances", where there is partial loss of control of attention. (shrink)
Wright, Ken France's state school system has a long tradition of freedom from religion. It owes a great debt to Jules Ferry who was Minister for Public Instruction from 1879 to 1885, and to Ferdinand Buisson, his Director of Primary Education. A law of 28 March 1882 removed the teaching of religion from all primary schools, to be replaced by ethics and civics (l'instruction morale et civique).
Preferences are an important object of study in economic theory. Their logico-mathematical study has become prominent with the raise of modern decision theory and with the new conceptions of utility-functions and personalistic probabilities. The ‘basic logic’ at the foundation of the more advanced theories of preference, however, has been relatively little investigated. The pioneer work is Hallden's The Logic of ‘Better’ of the year 1957, followed by von Wright's The Logic of Preference in 1963. The topic has turned out (...) unexpectedly problematic and there is as yet little consensus among logicians about the basic laws of preferring. A reason for this is apparently that there exist several concepts of preference which must be disentangled and kept apart in a logical theory. How this is to be done is discussed in the introductory sections (1–5) of the present paper.In Section 8 is sketched a logic for an asymmetric and connected preference-relation which holds between ‘possible worlds’ within a subject's ‘preference-horizon’ (Section 7). Preferences between states of affairs generally are called holistic when they hold ceteris paribus, i.e., when there is a corresponding preference-relation between any pairs of possible worlds which differ only in those two states and in no others. (Section 6.) Holistic preferences between states are asymmetrical and transitive but they do not form a linear preference order. (Section 9.) Failure to notice this, the author maintains, is responsible for much confusion in the traditional treatment of the subject.In the concluding sections (10–12) the author discusses the mutual relations of the value-absolutes, the good and the bad. Can they be defined in the terms of the relative notion of betterness or preference (and logical constants) alone? The definition which says that the goodness of a state is the holistic preference of it over its contradictory, answers the question affirmatively but conflicts with several deep-rooted axiological intuitions of ours. A more satisfying definition of the value-absolutes requires the additional notion of a value-less state (world) with which all the other states may be compared. In this connection some ideas of G. E. Moore about the notion of an ‘empty’ world can be interestingly exploited. (shrink)
Due to the wide array of phenomena that are of interest to them, psychologists offer highly diverse and heterogeneous types of explanations. Initially, this suggests that the question "What is psychological explanation?" has no single answer. To provide appreciation of this diversity, we begin by noting some of the more common types of explanations that psychologists provide, with particular focus on classical examples of explanations advanced in three different areas of psychology: psychophysics, physiological psychology, and information-processing psychology. To analyze what (...) is involved in these types of explanations, we consider the ways in which law-like representations of regularities and representations of mechanisms factor in psychological explanations. This consideration directs us to certain fundamental questions, e.g., "To what extent are laws necessary for psychological explanations?" and "What do psychologists have in mind when they appeal to mechanisms in explanation?" In answering such questions, it appears that laws do play important roles in psychological explanations, although most explanations in psychology appeal to accounts of mechanisms. Consequently, we provide a unifying account of what psychological explanation is. (shrink)
This is a short, and therefore necessarily very incomplete discussion of one of the great questions of modern philosophy. I return to a station at which an interpretative train of thought of mine came to a halt in a paper written almost 20 years ago, about Wittgenstein and Chomsky, hoping to advance a little bit further down the track. The rule-following passages in the Investigations and Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics in fact raise a number of distinct (though connected) (...) issues about rules, meaning, objectivity, and reasons, whose conflation is encouraged by the standard caption, "the Rule-following Considerations". So, let me begin by explaining my focus here. (shrink)
The setting of relativistic ideas about truth in the general style of semantic-theoretic apparatus pioneered by Lewis, Kaplan and others has persuaded many that they should at least be taken seriously as competition in the space of explanatory linguistic theory, a type of view which properly formulated, may offer an at least coherent — and indeed, in the view of some, a superior —account of certain salient linguistic data manifest in, for example, discourse about epistemic modals, about knowledge and about (...) matters of taste and value, and may also offer the prospect of a coherent regimentation of the Aristotelian "Open Future" (along with, perhaps, the Dummettian ’anti-real’ past.) My main purpose here to enter a reminder of certain underlying philosophical issues about relativism — about its metaphysical coherence, its metasemantic obligations, and the apparent limitations of the kind of local linguistic evidence which contemporary proponents have adduced in its favour —of which there is a risk that its apparent rehabilitation in rigorous semantic dress may encourage neglect. (shrink)
As much as assumptions about mechanisms and mechanistic explanation have deeply affected psychology, they have received disproportionately little analysis in philosophy. After a historical survey of the influences of mechanistic approaches to explanation of psychological phenomena, we specify the nature of mechanisms and mechanistic explanation. Contrary to some treatments of mechanistic explanation, we maintain that explanation is an epistemic activity that involves representing and reasoning about mechanisms. We discuss the manner in which mechanistic approaches serve to bridge levels rather than (...) reduce them, as well as the different ways in which mechanisms are discovered. Finally, we offer a more detailed example of an important psychological phenomenon for which mechanistic explanation has provided the main source of scientific understanding. (shrink)
David Lewis’s ‘Humean Supervenience’ (henceforth ‘HS’) combines realism about laws, chances, and dispositions with a sparse ontology according to which everything supervenes on the overall spatiotemporal distribution of non-dispositional properties (Lewis 1986a, Philosophical papers: Volume II, pp. ix–xvii, New York: Oxford Univesity Press, 1994, Mind 103:473–490). HS faces a serious problem—a “big bad bug” (Lewis 1986a, p. xiv): it contradicts the Principal Principle, a seemingly obvious norm of rational credence. Two authors have tried to rescue Lewis’s ontology from the ‘big (...) bad bug’ (henceforth ‘the Bug’) by rejecting realism about laws, chances, and dispositions (Halpin 1994, Aust J Phil 72:317–338, 1998, Phil Sci 65:349–360; Ward 2005, Phil Sci 71:241–261). I will argue that this strategy cannot possibly work: it is the ontology, not the realist thesis, that lies at the root of the problem. (shrink)
§1 To many in or on the edges of the Academy, ”Relativism” is a word with overtones of sinister iconoclasm, representing a kind of intellectual and ethical free-for-all in which the traditional investigative virtues of clarity, rigour, objectivity, consistency and the unbiased pursuit of truth are dismissed as illusory and the great scientific constructions of the last two hundred years, together with our deepest moral convictions, rated merely as ‘our way of seeing’ the world, more elaborate and organised but otherwise (...) on all fours with the cosmology and customs of primitive tribes. In his short book, Paul Boghossian aims to address, and to expose as bankrupt, the idea that there is even a coherent, let alone defensible philosophical stance about truth and knowledge that can underwrite these ‘pluralist’, or ‘postmodernist’ tendencies. But since it is crucial to his project that his style of discussion make it available to non-specialists, much of the recent more technical, less emotional debate within analytical philosophy about relativism’s renaissance as a particular form of semantic theory is passed over unmentioned. Part of my aim in what follows is to illustrate how Boghossian's discussion connects quite straightforwardly with relativism in its contemporary analytical philosophical livery—what I have elsewhere called New Age relativism1— and how some of his critical arguments may be presented in that setting. My main contentions will be, first, that when relativism about epistemic justification, and about morals, are couched in the currently canonical sort of form, they still remain in range of artillery that Boghossian positions in chapter 6 of his book; second, that there is evasive action that they can.. (shrink)
What I am calling New Age Relativism is usually proposed as a thesis about the truth-conditions of utterances, where an utterance is an actual historic voicing or inscription of a sentence of a certain type. Roughly, it is the view that, for certain discourses, whether an utterance is true depends not just on the context of its making—when, where, to whom, by whom, in what language, and so on—and the “circumstances of evaluation”—the state of the world in relevant respects—but also (...) on an additional parameter: a context of assessment. Vary the latter and the truth-value of the utterance can vary, even though the context of its making and the associated state of the world remain fixed. (shrink)
This paper argues that the form of explanation at issue in the hard problem of consciousness is scientifically irrelevant, despite appearances to the contrary. In particular, it is argued that the 'sense of understanding' that plays a critical role in the form of explanation implicated in the hard problem provides neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition on satisfactory scientific explanation. Considerations of the actual tools and methods available to scientists are used to make the case against it being a (...) necessary condition, and work by J.D. Trout that exploits psychological research on the hindsight and overconfidence biases is used to show that it is not a sufficient condition. It is argued, however, that certain intellectual and moral concerns give us good reason to still try to meet the hard problem's explanatory challenge, despite its extrascientific nature. (shrink)
Psychoneural reductionists sometimes claim that sufficient amounts of lower-level explanatory achievement preclude further contributions from higher-level psychological research. Ostensibly, with nothing left to do, the effect of such preclusion on psychological explanation is extinction. Reductionist arguments for preclusion have recently involved a reorientation within the philosophical foundations of neuroscience---namely, away from the philosophical foundations and toward the neuroscience. In this chapter, I review a successful reductive explanation of an aspect of reward function in terms of dopaminergic operations of the mesocorticolimbic (...) system in order to demonstrate why preclusion/extinction claims are dubious. (shrink)
Attention to the conversational role of alethic terms seems to dominate, and even sometimes exhaust, many contemporary analyses of the nature of truth. Yet, because truth plays a role in judgment and assertion regardless of whether alethic terms are expressly used, such analyses cannot be comprehensive or fully adequate. A more general analysis of the nature of truth is therefore required – one which continues to explain the significance of truth independently of the role alethic terms play in discourse. We (...) undertake such an analysis in this paper; in particular, we start with certain elements from Kant and Frege, and develop a construct of truth as a normative modality of cognitive acts (e.g., thought, judgment, assertion). Using the various biconditional T-schemas to sanction the general passage from assertions to (equivalent) assertions of truth, we then suggest that an illocutionary analysis of truth can contribute to its locutionary analysis as well, including the analysis of diverse constructions involving alethic terms that have been largely overlooked in the philosophical literature. Finally, we briefly indicate the importance of distinguishing between alethic and epistemic modalities. (shrink)
In the Begriffschrift Frege drew no distinction—or anyway signalled no importance to the distinction—between quantifying into positions occupied by what he called eigennamen—singular terms—in a sentence and quantification into predicate position or, more generally, quantification into open sentences—into what remains of a sentence when one or more occurrences of singular terms are removed. He seems to have conceived of both alike as perfectly legitimate forms of generalisation, each properly belonging to logic. More accurately: he seems to have conceived of quantification (...) as such as an operation of pure logic, and in effect to have drawn no distinction between first-order, second-order and higherorder quantification in general. (shrink)
It has been claimed that the attempt to analyze know-how in terms of propositional knowledge over-intellectualizes the mind. Exploiting the methods of so-called “experimental philosophy”, we show that the charge of over-intellectualization is baseless. Contra neo-Ryleans, who analyze know-how in terms of ability, the concrete-case judgments of ordinary folk are most consistent with the view that there exists a set of correct necessary and sufficient conditions for know-how that does not invoke ability, but rather a certain sort of propositional knowledge. (...) To the extent that one’s considered judgments agree with those of the folk (or to the extent that one is unwilling to contravene widespread judgments), this constitutes a strong prima facie case against neo-Ryleanism. (shrink)