Moral luck poses a problem for out conception of responsibility because it highlights a tension between morality and lack of control. Michael Slote’s common-sense virtue ethics claims to avoid this problem. However there are a number of objections to this claim. Firstly, it is not clear that Slote fully appreciates the problem posed by moral luck. Secondly, Slote’s move from the moral to the ethical is problematic. Thirdly it is not clear why we should want to abandon judgements (...) of moral blame in favour of judgements of ethical deplorability. Finally this paper defends an alternative solution to the problem of moral luck, which focuses on judgements of probability, but which has been rejected by Slote. (shrink)
On the question of precisely what role commonsense (or related datum like folk psychology, trust in pre-theoretic/intuitive judgments, etc.) should have in reigning in the possible excesses of our philosophical methods, the so-called ‘continental’ answer to this question, for the vast majority, would be “as little as possible”, whereas the analytic answer for the vast majority would be “a reasonably central one”. While this difference at the level of both rhetoric and meta-philosophy is sometimes – perhaps often (...) – problematised by the actual philosophical practices of representative philosophers of either tradition, I will argue that this norm (and its absence) nonetheless continues to play an important justificatory role in relation to the use of some rather different methodological practices. In particular, many analytic philosophers not only explicitly invoke the value of commonsense, but they also implicitly value it via techniques like conceptual analysis that want to explicate folk psychology and/or lay bare what is already embedded in the linguistic norms of a given culture, the widespread use of thought experiments and the way they function as ‘intuition pumps’, as well as the general aim to achieve ‘reflective equilibrium’ between our intuitions and reflective judgments in epistemology and political philosophy. Such methods, I will argue, enshrine a conservative, or, more positively, a modest understanding of the philosophical project in that it is invested in cohering with both a given body of knowledge and commonsense. These methods are notably less perspicuous in continental philosophy. To bring some of the reasons why this might be so to the fore, this paper considers Deleuze’s sustained attack on both good and commonsense, which he argues are fundamental to the prevalence of a dogmatic image of thought. If Deleuze is right about this, and if the analytic tradition distils and perfects certain methods that are closely associated with this image of thought, then we have here a rather stark methodological contrast that calls for elaboration and evaluation. (shrink)
This paper presents a response to the question of the relationship between science and reality. It rejects the anti-realist claim that we are unable to acquire knowledge of reality in favour of the realist view that science yields knowledge of the external world. But what world is that? Some argue that science leads to the overthrow of our commonsense view of the world. Commonsense is “stone-age metaphysics” to be rejected as the false theory of our primitive ancestors. (...) Against such eliminativists about commonsense, it is argued that science both preserves and explains commonsense experience of the world. Though science may lead to the overthrow of deeply held beliefs, commonsense reflects a more basic and durable level of experience. Commonsense beliefs are well-confirmed beliefs which are vindicated by their role in successful practical action each and every day. Commonsense provides a firm basis on which to establish the realist approach to science. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the circumstances in which it would be right to revise a common-sense psychological categorisation -- such as the common-sense categorisation of emotions -- in the light of the results of empirical investigation. I argue that an answer to that question, familiar from eliminitivist arguments, should be rejected, and suggest that the issue turns on the ontological commitments of the explanations that common-sense psychological states enter into.
Noah Lemos defends the commonsense tradition--the view that permits us to justify the philosophical inquiry of many of the things we ordinarily think we know. He discusses the main features of this tradition as expounded by Thomas Reid, G.E. Moore and Roderick Chisholm in a text that will appeal to students and philosophers in epistemology and ethics.
The contributors to this volume examine current controversies about the importance of commonsense psychology for our understanding of the human mind. Commonsense provides a familiar and friendly psychological scheme by which to talk about the mind. Its categories (belief, desire, intention, consciousness, emotion, and so on) tend to portray the mind as quite different from the rest of nature, and thus irreducible to physical matters and its laws. In this volume a variety of positions (...) on commonsense psychology from critical to supportive, from exegetical to speculative, are represented. Among the questions posed are: Is commonsense psychology an empirical theory, a body of analytic knowledge, a practice, or a strategy? If it is a legitimate enterprise can it be naturalized or not? If it is not legitimate can it be eliminated? Is its fate tied to our understanding of consciousness? Should we approach its concepts and generalizations from the standpoint of conceptual analysis or from the philosophy of science? (shrink)
In part one I present a positive argument for the claim that philosophical argument can rationally overturn commonsense. It is widely agreed that science can overturn commonsense. But every scientific argument, I argue, relies on philosophical assumptions. If the scientific argument succeeds, then its philosophical assumptions must be more worthy of belief than the commonsense proposition under attack. But this means there could be a philosophical argument against commonsense, (...) each of whose premises is just as worthy of belief as the scientist’s philosophical assumptions. If so, then the purely philosophical argument will also succeed. In part two I consider three motivations, each of which comprises a distinct philosophical methodology, for the opposing view: (1) the Moorean idea that commonsense enjoys greater plausibility than philosophy; (2) case judgments should trump general principles; (3) reflective equilibrium and conservatism. I argue that all three motivations fail. (shrink)
Can there be a theory-free experience? And what would be the object of such an experience. Drawing on ideas set out by Husserl in the “Crisis” and in the second book of his “Ideas”, the paper presents answers to these questions in such a way as to provide a systematic survey of the content and ontology of commonsense. In the second part of the paper Husserl’s ideas on the relationship between the common-sense world (what he (...) called the ‘life-world’) and the world of physical theory are subjected to a critical evaluation. The relation of Husserl’s ideas to current work in folk psychology and naive physics and to the direct realism of J. J. Gibson are also treated. (shrink)
Integration of ontologies begins with establishing mappings between their concept entries. We map categories from the largest manually-built ontology, Cyc, onto Wikipedia articles describing corresponding concepts. Our method draws both on Wikipedia’s rich but chaotic hyperlink structure and Cyc’s carefully defined taxonomic and common-sense knowledge. On 9,333 manual alignments by one person, we achieve an F-measure of 90%; on 100 alignments by six human subjects the average agreement of the method with the subject is close to their agreement (...) with each other. We cover 62.8% of Cyc categories relating to common-sense knowledge and discuss what further information might be added to Cyc given this substantial new alignment. (shrink)
The problem of reconciling the philosophical denial of ontological vagueness with common-sense beliefs positing vague objects, properties and relations is addressed. This project arises for any view denying ontological vagueness but is especially pressing for transvaluationism, which claims that ontological vagueness is impossible. The idea that truth, for vague discourse and vague thought-content, is an indirect form of language-thought correspondence is invoked and applied. It is pointed out that supervaluationism provides one way, but not necessarily the only way, (...) of implementing the idea of indirect correspondence. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen and Colin McGinn hold that there are strong arguments for strict incompatibilism, i.e. for the claim that the free will thesis (F) is inconsistent not just with determinism but with the negation of determinism as well. Interestingly, both authors deny that these arguments are apt to justify the claim that (F) is false. I argue that van Inwagen and McGinn are right in taking the fact that epistemic commitment to (F) is deeply rooted in common (...) class='Hi'>sense to cast doubt on arguments to the conclusion that (F) is false. However, instead of declaring free will to be a mystery (van Inwagen) or claiming that the problem of free will amounts to a problem whose correct solution is cognitively closed to human intellect (McGinn), I propose to simply view the problem of free will as a hard problem – its hardness being due to the fact that it involves a large variety of concepts whose correct explication is philosophically moot. (shrink)
CommonSense and Logic in Jan Smedslund's 'Psycho-logic'. This paper is about the efforts the norwegian psychologist Jan Smedslund made in analyzing and checking philosophically his theory called 'Psycho-logic'. I am going to reconstruct and discuss the debates between Smedslund and several critics, which have been going on since about 1978, mainly in the "Scandinavian Journal of Psychology". A result will be that the kind of modal logics Smedslund uses - a type with realistic semantics and epistemology - (...) is not the proper one for the analysis of 'Psycho-logic'. (shrink)
Is it a good time to be alive? Is ours a good society to be alive in? Is it possible to have a good life in our time? And finally, does a good life consist of having a good time? Are happiness and “a good life” interchangeable? These are the questions that Mortimer Adler addresses himself to. The heart of the book lies in its conception of the good life for man, which provides the standard for measuring a century, a (...) society, or a culture: for upon that turns the meaning of each man’s primary moral right – his right to the pursuit of happiness. The moral philosophy that Dr. Adler expounds in terms of this conception he calls “the ethics of commonsense,” because it is as a defense and development of the common-sense answer to the question “can I really make a good life for myself?”. (shrink)
What is commonsense? -- Back in time -- How does commonsense work -- Understanding commonsense -- More than commonsense -- Commonsense and mistakes -- Animal commonsense -- More than commonsense -- Commonsense nonsense -- Commonsense test.
The new situation in Europe, as exemplified in Germany, calls for a common consciousness, one traditionally characterized as sensus communis or commonsense. Kant organized his ruminations on commonsense — specifically, the logical commonsense — around three maxims: enlightenment, the extended way of thinking and the consistent way of thinking. These are here described with an eye to their consequences for the issues of identity, community and pedagogy.
This essay attempts to retrieve the notion of ‘commonsense’ within the writings of Descartes and Montaigne. I suggest that both writers represent distinct traditions in which the notion is employed. Descartes represents a modernist tradition in which commonsense is understood to be a cognitive faculty, while Montaigne represents a humanist tradition in which commonsense is understood as a political virtue. I also suggest that both writers work with the notion as a (...) way of responding to diversity in the world. The paper concludes with a discussion of how the notion of commonsense employed by Descartes and Montaigne emerges out of the scholastic tradition and the assertion that both writers are responding to the educational consequences of scholasticism. I also discuss how the reconstruction of Descartes in this paper can provide some ground for raising new questions about the Cartesian project and educational philosophy. Finally, I gesture toward the idea that the humanist tradition with its understanding of commonsense as political virtue can provide benefit for contemporary responses to diversity. (shrink)
In this paper I set out to solve the problem of how the world as we experience it, full of colours and other sensory qualities, and our inner experiences, can be reconciled with physics. I discuss and reject the views of J. J. C. Smart and Rom Harré. I argue that physics is concerned only to describe a selected aspect of all that there is – the causal aspect which determines how events evolve. Colours and other sensory qualities, lacking causal (...) efficacy, are ignored by physics and cannot be predicted by physical theory. Even though physics is silent about sensory qualities, they nevertheless exist objectively in the world – in one sense of “objective” at least. (shrink)
Introspective reports are used as sources of information about other minds, in both everyday life and science. Many scientists and philosophers consider this practice unjustified, while others have made the untestable assumption that introspection is a truthful method of private observation. I argue that neither skepticism nor faith concerning introspective reports are warranted. As an alternative, I consider our everyday, commonsensical reliance on each other’s introspective reports. When we hear people talk about their minds, we neither refuse to learn from (...) nor blindly accept what they say. Sometimes we accept what we are told, other times we reject it, and still other times we take the report, revise it in light of what we believe, then accept the modified version. Whatever we do, we have (implicit) reasons for it. In developing a sound methodology for the scientific use of introspective reports, we can take our commonsense treatment of introspective reports and make it more explicit and rigorous. We can discover what to infer from introspective reports in a way similar to how we do it every day, but with extra knowledge, methodological care, and precision. Sorting out the use of introspective reports as sources of data is going to be a painstaking, piecemeal task, but it promises to enhance our science of the mind and brain. (shrink)
A lógica, considerada como uma disciplina técnica iniciada por Aristóteles e tipicamente representada pela variedade de cálculos lógicos modernos, constitui um esclarecimento e refinamento de uma convicção e prática presentes no senso comum, ou seja, o fato de que os seres humanos crêem que a verdade pode ser adquirida não apenas por evidência imediata, mas também por meio de argumentos. Como uma primeira aproximação, a lógica pode ser vista como um registro “descritivo” das principais formas de argumento presentes no senso (...) comum, mas o fato de que alguns desses padrões possam realmente permitir a derivação de consequências falsas a partir de premissas verdadeiras impõe a tarefa de tornar explícitos que padrões correspondem a um “raciocínio correto” e quais não. Nesse ponto, a lógica (que contém a apresentação de tais padrões) parece ser dotada de uma característica “normativa”. Isso equivale a dizer se pretende que os cálculos lógicos espelhem adequadamente a noção intuitiva de “consequência lógica” e que nesse sentido eles não podem ser totalmente arbitrários ou convencionais, mas devem satisfazer certos requisitos básicos tais como as condições de correção e (tanto quanto possível) de completude semântica. Em tal forma eles são “julgados” de acordo com os requisitos fundamentais presentes no nível do senso comum e aparecem como “idealizações” das espécies de raciocínio praticadas no senso comum. Por essa razão também vários tipos de cálculos lógicos são inteiramente justificados uma vez que tornam explícitos, de uma forma idealizada, os modos concretos de raciocinar que são impostos pelo particular domínio de referência da disciplina na qual são usados e que são basicamente reconhecidos no senso comum. DOI: 10.5007/1808-1711.2011v15n1p15. (shrink)
This paper is about the efforts the norwegian psychologist Jan Smedslund made in analyzing and checking philosophically his theory called ‘Psycho-logic’. I am going to reconstruct and discuss the debates between Smedslund and several critics, which have been going on since about 1978, mainly in the “Scandinavian Journal of Psychology”. A result will be that the kind of modal logics Smedslund uses — a type with realistic semantics and epistemology — is not the proper one for the analysis of ‘Psycho-logic’.
I. The framework. 1, Aristotle's project and methods. 2, The perceptual capacity of the soul. 3, The sensory apparatus. 4, The commonsense and the related capacities -- II. The terminology. 1, Overlooked occurrences of the phrase 'commonsense'. 2, De anima III.1 425a27. 3, De partibus animalium IV.10 686a31. 4, De memoria et reminiscentia 1 450a10. 5, De anima III.7 431b5. 6, Conclusions on the terminology -- III. Functions of the commonsense. 1, (...) Simultaneous perception and cross-modal binding. 2, Perceptual discrimination. 3, Waking, sleep, and control of the senses. 4, Perceiving that what we see and hear, and monitoring of the senses. 5, Other roles of the commonsense -- Conclusion. (shrink)
Two main claims are defended in this paper: first, that typical disputes in the literature about the ontology of physical objects are merely verbal; second, that the proper way to resolve these disputes is by appealing to commonsense or ordinary language. A verbal dispute is characterized not in terms of private idiolects, but in terms of different linguistic communities representing different positions. If we imagine a community that makes Chisholm's mereological essentialist assertions, and another community that makes (...) Lewis's four-dimensionalist assertions, the members of each community speak the truth in their respective languages. This follows from an application of the principle of interpretive charity to the two communities. (shrink)
The priority monist holds that the cosmos is the only fundamental object, of which every other concrete object is a dependent part. One major argument against monism goes back to Russell, who claimed that pluralism is favoured by commonsense. However, Jonathan Schaffer turns this argument on its head and uses it to defend priority monism. He suggests that commonsense holds that the cosmos is a whole, of which ordinary physical objects are arbitrary portions, and (...) that arbitrary portions depend for their existence on the existence of the whole. In this paper, we challenge Schaffer’s claim that the parts of the cosmos are all arbitrary portions. We suggest that there is a way of carving up the universe such that at least some of its parts are not arbitrary. We offer two arguments in support of this claim. First, we shall outline semantic reasons in its favour: in order to accept that empirical judgements are made true or false by the way the world is, one must accept that the cosmos includes parts whose existence is not arbitrary. Second, we offer an ontological argument: in order for macro-physical phenomena to exist, there must be some micro-physical order which they depend upon, and this order must itself be non-arbitrary. We conclude that Schaffer’s commonsense argument for monism cannot be made to work. (shrink)
There has been some recent optimism that addressing the question of how we distinguish sensory modalities will help us consider whether there are limits on a scientific understanding of perceptual states. For example, Block has suggested that the way we distinguish sensory modalities indicates that perceptual states have qualia which at least resist scientific characterization. At another extreme, Keeley argues that our common-sense way of distinguishing the senses in terms of qualitative properties is misguided, and offers a scientific (...) eliminativism about common-sense modalities which avoids appeal to qualitative properties altogether. I’ll argue contrary to Keeley that qualitative properties are necessary for distinguishing senses, and contrary to Block that our common-sense distinction doesn’t indicate that perceptual states have qualia. A non-qualitative characterization of perceptual states isn’t needed to avoid the potential limit on scientific understanding imposed by qualia. (shrink)
In a series of publications, Eli Hirsch has presented a sustained defense of common-sense ontology. Hirsch's argument relies crucially on a meta-ontological position sometimes known as ‘superficialism’. Hirsch's argument from superficialism to common-sense ontology is typically resisted on the grounds that superficialism is implausible. In this paper, I present an alternative argument for common-sense ontology, one that relies on (what I argue is) a much more plausible meta-ontological position, which I call ‘constructivism’. Note well: (...) I will not quite argue that constructivism is true; merely that it is significantly more plausible than superficialism, and consequently affords a safer route to common-sense ontology. Thus my main goal in the paper is not quite to establish common-sense ontology, nor for that matter to refute Hirsch's argument for it. My goal is, in a way, more expressive than argumentative: I wish to articulate a novel meta-ontological position, one that I take to be in no way obviously less plausible than already familiar positions, and to point out that the position probably leads to common-sense ontology. I open, in section 1, with a discussion of Hirsch's argument and the main objection to it. I then develop, in section 2, a sketch of the alternative meta-ontology I have in mind. I close, in section 3, with the argument that this alternative meta-ontology, too, leads to common-sense ontology. (shrink)
Aside from brute force, there are several philosophically respectable ways of eliminating the mental. In recent years the most popular elimination strategy has been directed against our commonsense or folk psychological understanding of the mental. The strategy goes by the name of eliminative materialism (or eliminativism, in short). The motivation behind this strategy seems to be the following. If commonsense psychology can be construed as the principled theory of the mental, whose vocabulary and principles (...) implicitly define what counts as mental, then eliminating the theory is eliminating its subject matter. If the theory is shown to be false, then its subject matter does not exist. If, in other words, commonsense psychology can be shown to describe and explain nothing real in human cognition, then the mental itself is a fiction. (shrink)