The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of various forms of alethic pluralism. Along the way we will draw a number of distinctions that, hopefully, will be useful in mapping the pluralist landscape. Finally, we will argue that a commitment to alethic disjunctivism, a certain brand of pluralism, might be difficult to avoid for adherents of the other pluralist views to be discussed. We will proceed as follows: Section 1 introduces alethic monism and alethic pluralism. Section 2 (...) presents a distinction between strong and moderate versions of monism and pluralism, understood as theses about the existence of truth properties. Section 3 introduces four pluralist positions: strong alethic pluralism, alethic disjunctivism, second-order functionalism and manifestation functionalism. These positions are classified using the basic framework from Section 2, and a further distinction between pure and mixed versions of pluralism is drawn. Interestingly, alethic disjunctivism and the two kinds of functionalism—i.e. three out of four positions— have a mixed character. They incorporate a monist thesis. The only pure form of pluralism is strong alethic pluralism. Section 4 adds another distinction to the stock: one-level and two-level views. Each of the mixed positions operates with two levels, locating certain “alethically potent”—or grounding—properties at a lower level and others at a higher level. We briefly discuss the nature of grounding. In Section 5, we answer a question about mixed, two-level views, viz. whether they are as much monist as pluralist in nature, or more. They are not. Section 6 is devoted to the task of arguing that the strong pluralist, the second-order functionalist, and the manifestation functionalist will find it hard to deny a commitment to alethic disjunctivism. (shrink)
The relative merits and demerits of historically prominent views such as the correspondence theory, coherentism, pragmatism, verificationism, and instrumentalism have been subject to much attention in the truth literature and have fueled the long-lived debate over which of these views is the most plausible one. While diverging in their specific philosophical commitments, adherents of these historically prominent views agree in at least one fundamental respect. They are all alethic monists. They all endorse the thesis that there is only one property (...) in virtue of which propositions can be true, and so, in this sense, take truth to be one. The truth pluralist, on the other hand, rejects this idea. There are several properties in virtue of which propositions can be true. The literature on truth pluralism has been growing steadily for the past twenty years. This volume, however, is the first of its kind—the first collection of papers focused specifically on pluralism about truth. Part I is dedicated to the development, investigation, and critical discussion of different forms of pluralism. An additional reason to look at truth pluralism with interest is the significant connections it bears to other debates in the truth literature—the debates concerning traditional theories of truth and the deflationism/inflationism divide being cases in hand. Parts II and III of the volume connect truth pluralism to these two debates. (shrink)
Many cognitive scientists, having discovered that some computational-level characterization f of a cognitive capacity φ is intractable, invoke heuristics as algorithmic-level explanations of how cognizers compute f. We argue that such explanations are actually dysfunctional, and rebut five possible objections. We then propose computational-level theory revision as a principled and workable alternative.
Although it’s sometimes thought that pluralism about truth is unstable---or, worse, just a non-starter---it’s surprisingly difficult to locate collapsing arguments that conclusively demonstrate either its instability or its inability to get started. This paper exemplifies the point by examining three recent arguments to that effect. However, it ends with a cautionary tale; for pluralism may not be any better off than other traditional theories that face various technical objections, and may be worse off in facing them all.
The ontic conception of scientific explanation has been constructed and motivated on the basis of a putative lexical ambiguity in the term explanation. I raise a puzzle for this ambiguity claim, and then give a deflationary solution under which all ontically-rendered talk of explanation is merely elliptical; what it is elliptical for is a view of scientific explanation that altogether avoids the ontic conception. This result has revisionary consequences for New Mechanists and other philosophers of science, many of whom have (...) assimilated their conception of explanation to the ontic conception. (shrink)
Functionalists about truth employ Ramsification to produce an implicit definition of the theoretical term _true_, but doing so requires determining that the theory introducing that term is itself true. A variety of putative dissolutions to this problem of epistemic circularity are shown to be unsatisfactory. One solution is offered on functionalists' behalf, though it has the upshot that they must tread on their anti-pluralist commitments.
New Waves in Truth offers eighteen new and original research papers on truth and other alethic phenomena by twenty of the most promising young scholars working on truth today. Contributions to the volume span truth ascriptions, deflationism, realism and the correspondence theory, the value of truth, and kinds of truth and truth-apt discourse. The research programs of the contributors are beginning to reset that agenda, and each is positioned to make new waves throughout the subject.
When talking about truth, we ordinarily take ourselves to be talking about one-and-the-same thing. Alethic monists suggest that theorizing about truth ought to begin with this default or pre-reflective stance, and, subsequently, parlay it into a set of theoretical principles that are aptly summarized by the thesis that truth is one. Foremost among them is the invariance principle.
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)
Embodied Cognition is the kind of view that is all trees, no forest. Mounting experimental evidence gives it momentum in fleshing out the theoretical problems inherent in Cognitivists’ separation of mind and body. But the more its proponents compile such evidence, the more the fundamental concepts of Embodied Cognition remain in the dark. This conundrum is nicely exemplified by Pecher and Zwaan’s (2005) book, Grounding Cognition, which is a programmatic attempt to rally together an array of empirical results and linguistic (...) data, and its successes in this endeavor nicely epitomize current directions among the various research provinces of Embodied Cognition. The untoward drawback, however, is that such successes are symptomatic of the growing imbalance between experimental progress and theoretical interrogation. In particular, one of the theoretical cornerstones of Embodied Cognition—namely, the very concept of grounding under investigation here—continues to go unilluminated. Hence, the advent of this volume indicates that—now more than ever—the concept of grounding is in dire need of some plain old-fashioned conceptual analysis. In that sense, Embodied Cognition is grounded until further notice. (shrink)
We argue that the concepts of mechanism and autonomy appear to be antagonistic when autonomy is conflated with agency. Once these concepts are disentangled, it becomes clearer how autonomy emerges from complex forms of control. Subsequently, current biomimetic strategies tend to focus on homeostatic regulatory systems; we propose that research in AI and robotics would do well to incorporate biomimetic strategies that instead invoke models of allostatic mechanisms as a way of understanding how to enhance autonomy in artificial systems.
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)
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)
What is it to explain a psychological phenomenon (e.g., a person remembering a nanie, navigating through campus, untlerstanding huntor) In philoÂ»ophy, a traditional answer is that to explain a phenomenon is toÂ»how it to be the expectecl result of prior circumstances given a scientific law. Influenced by thiÂ» perspective. behaviorists directed psychology toward the search for the laws of learning that explained all behavior as the consequence of particular conditioning regiinens. Although discussion of laws remains comiiionplace in philosophical accounts of..
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)
Traditional inflationary approaches that specify the nature of truth are attractive in certain ways; yet, while many of these theories successfully explain why propositions in certain domains of discourse are true, they fail to adequately specify the nature of truth because they run up against counterexamples when attempting to generalize across all domains. One popular consequence is skepticism about the efficaciousness of inﬂationary approaches altogether. Yet, by recognizing that the failure to explain the truth of disparate propositions often stems from (...) inflationary approaches' allegiance to alethic monism, pluralist approaches are able to avoid this explanatory inadequacy and the resulting skepticism, though at the cost of inviting other conceptual difficulties. A novel approach, alethic functionalism, attempts to circumvent the problems faced by pluralist approaches while preserving their main insights. Unfortunately, it too generates additional problems---namely, with its suspect appropriation of the multiple realizability paradigm and its platitude-based strategy---that need to be dissolved before it can constitute an adequate inflationary approach to the nature of truth. (shrink)
"New wave" reductionism aims at advancing a kind of reduction that is stronger than unilateral dependency of the mental on the physical. It revolves around the idea that reduction between theoretical levels is a matter of degree, and can be laid out on a continuum between a "smooth" pole (theoretical identity) and a "bumpy" pole (extremely revisionary). It also entails that both higher and lower levels of the reductive relationship sustain some degree of explanatory autonomy. The new wave predicts that (...) reductions of folk psychology to neuroscience will be located in the middle of this continuum; as neuroscientific evidence about mental states checks in, theoretical folk psychology will therefore be moderately revised. However, the model has conceptual problems which preclude its success in reviving reductionism, and its commitment to a syntactic approach wrecks its attempt to rescue folk psychology. Moreover, the architecture of the continuum operates on a category mistake that sneaks in an eliminativist conclusion. I argue that new wave reductionism therefore tends to be eliminativism in disguise. (shrink)