So-called 'dynamic' semantic theories such as Kamp's discourse representation theory and Heim's file change semantics account for such phenomena as cross-sentential anaphora, donkey anaphora, and the novelty condition on indefinites, but compare unfavorably with Montague semantics in some important respects (clarity and simplicity of mathematical foundations, compositionality, handling of quantification and coordination). Preliminary efforts have been made by Muskens and by de Groote to revise and extend Montague semantics to cover dynamic phenomena. We present a new higher-order theory of discourse (...) semantics which improves on their accounts by incorporating a more articulated notion of context inspired by ideas due to David Lewis and to Craige Roberts. On our account, a context consists of a common ground of mutually accepted propositions together with a set of discourse referents preordered by relative salience. Employing a richer notion of contexts enables us to extend our coverage beyond pronominal anaphora to a wider range of presuppositional phenomena, such as the factivity of certain sentential-complement verbs, resolution of anaphora associated with arbitrarily complex definite descriptions, presupposition 'holes' such as negation, and the independence condition on the antecedents of conditionals. Formally, our theory is expressed within a higher-order logic with natural number type, separation-style subtyping, and dependent coproducts parameterized by the natural numbers. The system of semantic types builds on proposals due to Thomason and to Pollard in which the type of propositions (static meanings of sentential utterances) is taken as basic and worlds are constructed from propositions (rather than the other way around as in standard Montague semantics). (shrink)
It is well-known that feature structures (Rounds and Kasper 1986) can be fruitfully viewed as forming a Scott domain (Moshier 1988). Once a linguistically motivated notion of set value in feature structures is countenanced, however, this is no longer possible inasmuch as unification of set values in general fails to yield a unique result. In Pollard and Moshier 1990 it was shown that, while falling short of forming a Scott domain, the set of feature structures possibly containing (...) set values satisfies the weaker condition of forming a 2/3 SFP domain when equipped with an appropriate notion of subsumption: that is, for any finite setS of feature structures, there is a finite setM of minimal upper bounds ofS such that any upper bound ofS is approximated by a member ofM. Unfortunately, the 2/3 SFP domains are not as pleasant to work with as Scott domains since they are not closed under all the familiar domain constructions; and the question has remained open whether the feature structure domain satisfies the added condition of profiniteness. (The profinite -algebraic domains with least elements are a subclass of the 2/3 SFP domains which enjoy the pleasant property of being the largest full subcategory of -algebraic domains that is closed under the usual domain constructions.) In this paper we resolve this question in the affirmative. (shrink)
Pollard, Brian The extreme difficulties in attempting to make safe euthanasia law, with an argument of treatment in case of patients who can ask for death to escape from pain and patients who are not in a position to ask, are documented. Published findings of five large inquiries into the issue show that it would not be possible to make such law without endangering the lives of some of those who did not want to die.
Given the Sellarsian distinction between the space of causes and the space of reasons, the naturalist seeks to articulate how these two spaces are unproblematically related. In Mind and World (1996) John McDowell suggests that such a naturalism can be achieved by pointing out that we work our way into the space of reasons by the process of upbringing he calls Bildung. 'The resulting habits of thought and action', writes McDowell, 'are second nature' (p. 84). In this paper I expose (...) one implication of this remark, namely, that Bildung naturalism requires a conception of a type of action which is at once rational and habitual. Current orthodoxies in the philosophy of action prevent these two features from easily co-existing. Whilst various reconciliations are possible, I argue that only one keeps Bildung naturalism intact. This, however, commits the naturalist to a conception of reasons more radically external than any to be found in current literature, according to which the agent need have no conception of what her reasons are at the time of acting. This is what I call acting in the dark of reasons. One upshot for McDowell is that this conception of reasons may be in tension with some of his other claims. (shrink)
From time to time we explain what people do by referring to their habits. We explain somebody’s putting the kettle on in the morning as done through “force of habit”. We explain somebody’s missing a turning by saying that she carried straight on “out of habit”. And we explain somebody’s biting her nails as a manifestation of “a bad habit”. These are all examples of what will be referred to here as habit explanations. Roughly speaking, they explain by referring to (...) a pattern of a particular kind of behaviour which is regularly performed in characteristic circumstances, and has become automatic for that agent due to this repetition. (shrink)
Ruling Passions is Simon Blackburn’s latest attempt to defend a theory of practical reason which he calls “expressivism”.2 In the first three chapters Blackburn outlines an account of how we should understand statements of right, good and virtue, as well as their negative counterparts (“the Ethical [or Moral] Proposition”, as he terms this amalgam). This he calls “quasi-realism”. I shall describe what this position entails in the first section. Secondly I shall consider the opposition to this view advanced by McDowell (...) (1987), who in turn takes his inspiration from Wiggins (1976a, 1976b). Finally I shall assess Blackburn’s reply to McDowell and Wiggins (found in Chapter 4 of RP), and argue that it is inadequate. (shrink)
Hans Vaihinger tried to explain how mathematical theories can be useful without being true or even coherent, arguing that mathematicians employ a special kind of fictional or "as if" reasoning that reliably extracts truths from absurdities. Moritz Pasch insisted that Vaihinger was wrong about the incoherence of core mathematical theories, but right about the utility of fictional discourse in mathematics. This essay explores this area of agreement between Pasch and Vaihinger. Pasch's position raises questions about structuralist interpretations of mathematics.
We are creatures of habit. Familiar ways of doing things in familiar contexts become automatic for us. That is to say, when we acquire a habit we can act without thinking about it at all. Habits free our minds to think about other things. Without this capacity for habitual action our daily lives would be impossible. Our minds would be crowded with innumerable mundane considerations and decisions. Habitual actions are not always mundane. Aristotle famously said that acting morally is a (...) matter of exercising the right habits.2 For him, a lack of conscious thought is no bar on an action’s moral status. Habits are involved in our most prized activities. Of course our natural capacity for acquiring habits is sometimes a nuisance, and we acquire bad habits all too easily. But we nevertheless could not do without a vast array of habits which are not like this, and we can’t help but exercise them in our daily lives. It does not seem too strong to say that we spend much more of our time acting habitually than we do acting in the light of conscious thought. We are also rational creatures. It is because of our rationality that we naturally think that most human actions are different in kind from the behaviour of other animals. This difference is manifest in the fact that we hold rational creatures personally responsible for what they do, in ways that would make no sense for nonrational creatures. Our rationality, then, appears to give our actions a unique quality. (shrink)
Virtuous actions seem to be both habitual and rational. But if we combine an intuitive understanding of habituality with the currently predominant paradigm of rational action, these two features of virtuous actions are hard to reconcile. Intuitively, acting habitually is acting as one has before in similar contexts, and automatically, that is, without thinking about it. Meanwhile, contemporary philosophers tend to assume the truth of what I call the reasons theory of rational action, which states that all rational actions are (...) actions for reasons. Whilst interpretations of this phrase are disputed, I argue that neither of the two leading views – which I call reasons internalism and reasons externalism – makes room for habitual actions to count as actions for reasons; by the reasons theory, they cannot be rational either. I suggest one way of effecting the reconciliation which, whilst it allows us to keep the reasons theory, requires us to conceive of reasons as even more radically external than current externalists believe them to be. (shrink)
This note examines the mereological component of Geoffrey Hellman's most recent version of modal structuralism. There are plausible forms of agnosticism that benefit only a little from Hellman's mereological turn.
In this paper I offer a critique of the view made popular by Davidson that rationalization is a species of causal explanation, and propose instead that in many cases the explanatory relation is constitutive. Given Davidson’s conception of rationalization, which allows that a huge range of states gathered under the heading ‘pro attitude’ could rationalize an action, I argue that whilst the causal thesis may have some merit for some such ‘attitudes’, it has none for others. The problematic ‘attitudes’ (...) are those which can be attributed to the agent only on the basis of her history of doing this sort of thing. In other words, they are among the agent’s habits. I argue that such temporally extended states cannot be the causes of any present occurrence. Instead, I suggest we should think of the present action as partly constituting the state in question, and give a corresponding interpretation of the explanatory relation. Such explanations invite us to abandon a conception of agency narrowly based on psychology, in favour of an enriched one which takes an agent’s habits to partly constitute the agent. (shrink)
• Life sciences: Father was Macedonian court doctor; ¼ of surviving work on biology • Alienation: spent most of life as an exile in Athens; can’t be assumed to be naïve defender of status quo. • Plato: Worked with Plato at the Academy in Athens for 20 years; later formed the..
We mathematical animals should be grateful that mathematics is instrumentally useful. We should not, however, forget its other contributions to human happiness. Bertrand Russell and John Dewey offer timely reminders that provide insight into the role of non-mathematicians in the evaluation of mathematics.
Zusammenfassung Es soll die These begrÃ¼ndet werden, daÃ die Suche nach Wahrheitskriterien als philosophische Anstrengung sinnlos ist, weil einerseits mit Wahrheit ein Absolutheitsanspruch der Erkenntnis erhoben werden muÃ, andererseits aber ein solcher Anspruch mit Hilfe von Wahrheitskriterien nicht eingelÃ¶st werden kann. Die BegrÃ¼ndung faÃt den spezifischen Geltungscharakter des Wahrheitsanspruchs (I) und einen unausweichlichen RegreÃ bei Wahrheitsfragen (II) als geeignete Hinweise auf, daÃ und wieso Wahrheitskriterien logisch unmÃ¶glich sind; daÃ und wieso die Erkenntnispraxis darunter keinen Schaden erleidet; daÃ und wieso Wahrheit (...) als die regulative Rolle verstanden werden soll, welche der Wahrheitsanspruch in der Erkenntnis hat (III). (shrink)
Competent speakers of natural languages can borrow reference from one another. You can arrange for your utterances of ‘Kirksville’ to refer to the same thing as my utterances of ‘Kirksville’. We can then talk about the same thing when we discuss Kirksville. In cases like this, you borrow “aboutness” from me by borrowing reference. Now suppose I wish to initiate a line of reasoning applicable to any prime number. I might signal my intention by saying, “Let p be any (...) prime.” In this context, I will be using the term ‘p’ to reason about the primes. Although ‘p’ helps me secure the aboutness of my discourse, it may seem wrong to say that ‘p’ refers to anything. Be that as it may, this paper explores what mathematical discourse would be like if mathematicians were able to borrow freely from one another not just the reference of terms that clearly refer, but, more generally, the sort of aboutness present in a line of reasoning leading up to a universal generalization. The paper also gives reasons for believing that aboutness of this sort really is freely transferable. A key implication will be that the concept “set of natural numbers” suffers from no mathematically significant indeterminacy that can be coherently discussed. (shrink)
This essay defends the following two claims: (1) liraitation-of-size reasoning yields enough sets to meet the needs of most mathematicians; (2) set formation and mereological fusion share enough logical features to justify placing both in the genus composition (even when the components of a set are taken to be its members rather than its subsets).
New concepts may prove necessary to profit from the avalanche of sequence data on the genome, transcriptome, proteome and interactome and to relate this information to cell physiology. Here, we focus on the concept of large activity-based structures, or hyperstructures, in which a variety of types of molecules are brought together to perform a function. We review the evidence for the existence of hyperstructures responsible for the initiation of DNA replication, the sequestration of newly replicated origins of replication, cell division (...) and for metabolism. The processes responsible for hyperstructure formation include changes in enzyme affinities due to metabolite-induction, lipid-protein affinities, elevated local concentrations of proteins and their binding sites on DNA and RNA, and transertion. Experimental techniques exist that can be used to study hyperstructures and we review some of the ones less familiar to biologists. Finally, we speculate on how a variety of in silico approaches involving cellular automata and multi-agent systems could be combined to develop new concepts in the form of an Integrated cell (I-cell) which would undergo selection for growth and survival in a world of artificial microbiology. (shrink)
The article gives an overview on arguments typically used within discussions on the ethical aspects of abortion. Five types of argument especially are analyzed more closely. Only one type withstands critical scrutiny: so-called interest-arguments, arguments referring to whether or when being killed (as involved in abortion) is against the interest of the fetus. In critical revision of a proposal due to Peter Singer the result is that abortion should be seen as morally neutral up to four months of pregnancy.
A recent article from Archives of Disease in Childhood outlined problems with the act of gaining child assent for research participation. However the arguments used in the article are incomplete or misguided. Rather than being harmful, assent should be seen as an ethically-appropriate way in which we can engage with the child about his participation in research. While additional clarification of the concept of assent is needed, the child's family context can provide us with a valuable guide to the way (...) we involve him in the decision-making process. (shrink)
• Historical: Adam Smith, Thomas Reid; Kant; Bentham and Mill • Contemporary: Normative ethics: indirect influence through Utilitarian theory; Meta-ethics: “Humean” theories of moral motivation (Smith, Blackburn), (also influences accounts of rational action in general). Non-cognitivism (Mackie, Blackburn, Gibbard).
Health and beauty are the most important physical ideals. This paper seeks to compare and contrast these ideals, based on a value theory of human abilities. Health is comprehended as a potential ability to act grounded in bodily functions. Beauty is explained as a symbolising reference to happiness, physical beauty as a combination of organic orientation to purpose and virtuous orientation to action. Physical beauty is the implicit symbolic expression of mental and physical health. This teleological theory is tested and (...) exemplified using current stereotypes such as youthfulness, slimness and shapeliness. (shrink)
Arecent paper by George Boolos suggests that it is philosophically respectable to use monadic second order logic in one’s explication of the iterative concept of set. I shall here give a partial indication of the new range of theories of the iterative hierarchy which are thus madeavailable to philosophers of set theory.
The paper presents Property Theory with Curry Typing (PTCT) where the language of terms and well-formed formulæ are joined by a language of types. In addition to supporting ﬁne-grained intensionality, the basic theory is essentially ﬁrst-order, so that implementations using the theory can apply standard ﬁrst-order theorem proving techniques. The paper sketches a system of tableau rules that implement the theory. Some extensions to the type theory are discussed, including type polymorphism, which provides a useful analysis of conjunctive terms. (...) Such terms can be given a single polymorphic type that expresses the fact that they can conjoin phrases of any one type, yielding an expression of the same type. (shrink)