The sceptical problem of Kripkenstein pertains to both the notions of content of thought and linguistic meaning in such a way that if the sceptical solution allowed us to conclude that language is essentially public, then we should also be able to conclude that thought is essentially public. But, when addressing the question of the way in which one could, under this hypothesis, reach the conclusion that thought is essentially public, there would seem to be two possible types of answers. (...) The first one is that this follows from the fact that language is a necessary condition of thought, thus: there is no thought without language, but there can be no language without there being more than one speaker, hence there can be no thought without there being more than one thinker. The second answer (which does not exclude the first) is that we should then be able to formulate a version of the sceptical solution which applies directly to the question of knowing under which conditions one is justified in judging that someone has a certain thought, and that that thought is correct. But if an answer of this second type were possible, it would perhaps no longer be necessary to rely on the sceptical solution in order to conclude that language is public, for in all likelihood, this conclusion would follow from the fact that thought is public, together with the idea that thought is a necessary condition of language, thus: there is no language without thought, but there can be no thought without there being more than one thinker, hence there can be no language without there being more than one speaker. Hence, there seems to be at least three different ways in which one could try to reach the two desired conclusions. However, the foregoing remarks hide a few difficulties that can partly be disclosed by stating more precisely what the publicity of language and thought is supposed to consists in. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to offer an account of what an agent's being rational to do or think something might amount to, which doesn't reduce to saying that it consists in this agent's doing or thinking something that is rational for him. In the first section, I call attention to the fact that such a distinction between agent rationality and action or belief rationality is widely admitted, I reject the idea that it could be interpreted as a distinction (...) between the rationality of tokens and the rationality of types, and I suggest one natural way in which a notion of objective agent rationality could be informally characterized in terms of action or belief rationality. But this first, rough, characterization depends on further uses of the notion of rationality which I try to make sense of in the second section, at least in a preliminary way. The burden of this second section is then to determine whether the intuition behind the informal proposal introduced in the first can be substantiated, i.e., whether a substantial and coherent notion of agent rationality can be worked out, and at what cost. In the concluding section, I try to "deflate" some of the worries that could be raised by the account of agent rationality I end up with. (shrink)
In a recent article (2011), Steglich-Petersen claims to be able to provide a teleological account of the nature of epistemic reasons which (i) avoids the standard objections to this kind of approach and (ii) is compatible with the evidentialist claim that epistemic reasons always trump non-epistemic reasons (assuming there are such reasons). I argue that his proposal is unable to do justice to the idea that epistemic reasons are constituted by the evidence, and more generally, that it is incoherent to (...) hold at once that epistemic reasons are instrumental, that believing the true and not believing the false is what has epistemic value and that epistemic reasons are evidential in nature. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: I explain and rebut four objections to the claim that attributions of intentional attitudes are normative judgments, all stemming, directly or indirectly, from the widespread assumption that the normative supervenes on the non-normative.
ABSTRACT: I offer a refutation of the standard argument according to which we have no doxastic obligation because we do not have the kind of voluntary control over our beliefs required for having obligations. I then propose an interpretation of the distinction between epistemic and practical reasons for belief which can be generalised to other attitudes such as intention, and seems to imply (i) that mental acts such as judgements and decisions never count as intentional actions, and (ii) that these (...) two sorts of reasons are incommensurable. (shrink)
This paper asks whether Brandom (1994) has provided a sufficiently clear account of the basic normative concepts of commitment and entitlement, on which his normative inferentialism seems to rest, and of how they contribute to explain the inferential articulation of conceptual contents. I show that Brandom's claim that these concepts are analogous to the concepts of obligation and permission cannot be right, and argue that the normative character of the concept of commitment is dubious. This leads me to replace Brandom's (...) conception of inferential relations as relations between deontic statuses with one according to which they are to be seen as relations between entitlements and acknowledgements of commitments. (shrink)
Brandom (1994) claims to have succeeded in showing how certain kinds of social practices can institute objective deontic statuses and confer objective conceptual contents on certain performances. This paper proposes a reconstruction of how, on Brandom’s views, this is supposed to come about, and a critical examination of the explicit arguments offered in support for this claim.
The aim of this article is to show that the prospects for intentional irrealism are much brighter than it is generally thought. In the first section, I provide a general haracterization of some of the various forms that the realism/irrealism debates might take. In the second, I ask whether there is any defensible form of realism about intentional states. I show that most candidates are nearly trivially false, and that the only form of intentional realism which is not, is a (...) restricted one which is prima facie no more plausible than the corresponding form of irrealism. In the third and last section, I defend my interpretation of what intentional irrealism amounts to against some possible misunderstandings, give some reasons why it should be taken seriously and argue that it could plausibly be attributed to Davidson. (shrink)
I give a rough outline of Brandom¿s scorekeeping account of conceptual content. The account is meant to be phenomenalist, normativist, expressively complete and non-circular; the question is how and to what extent it succeeds in meeting these goals.
I clarify in what sense one might want to claim that thought or language are public. I distinguish among four forms that each of these claims might take, and two general ways of establishing them that might be contemplated. The first infers the public character of thought from the public character of language, and the second infers the latter from the former. I show that neither of these stategies seems to be able to dispense with the claim that thought and (...) language are interdependent, and that the second strategy raises more difficulties than the first. I then examine the reasoning by which Davidson means to establish that thought depends on language. I claim that this reasoning is not conclusive, and that it can be adapted in such a way as to establish aversion of the thesis that thought is public which does not presuppose that language is public, and aversion of the thesis that language is public which does not imply that thought depends on language. I conclude with the suggestion that despite appearances to the contrary Davidson’s doctrine is defensible only if it implies at least the conceivability of intentional systems that would lack language altogether. (shrink)
The question to be discussed is whether the distinction between the conceptual and the nonconceptual is best understood as pertaining primarily to intentional contents or to intentional states or attitudes. Some authors have suggested that it must be understood in the second way, in order to make the claim that experiences are nonconceptual compatible with the idea that one can also believe what one experiences. I argue that there is no need to do so, and that a conceptual content can (...) be understood as being simply one which is composed of concepts, without compromising this intuitive view of the relation between beliefs and experiences. (shrink)
The solution to the paradox which Kripke attibutes to Wittgenstein is supposed to lead to the conclusion that there is a sense in which thought and language are essentially social phenomena. In the following, I argue that both the and the character of this solution can be questioned, though without having to agree with Davidson, according to whom the solution to this paradox does not depend on any notion of a common language.
The theory of radical interpretation, as based on the principle of charity, sets a priori limits on the possibility that different agents have different beliefs, and on the possibility that one has false beliefs. David Papineau put forward a teleological approach to intentional states which, he claims, doesn’t have these unacceptable consequences. Having distinguished half a dozen of different forms that the problem of radical interpretation might take, I show that Papineau’s approach is not radically different from those based on (...) the principle of charity. Finally, I suggest that the consequences of the principle of charity with respect to the problems of error and divergence are in fact both unavoidable and acceptable. (shrink)
The view that in radical interpretation, the interpreter should aim at optimizing the rationality of agents is defended. A distinction and a parallel is drawn between linguistic interpretation and psychological interpretation. Both can be taken to be governed, in part, and in somewhat different ways, by a principle of rationality. Such approaches have been criticised on the ground that they make it impossible for a speaker or an agent to have wildly irrational or false beliefs. It is argued that the (...) so-called principle of simulation isn't a serious altemative, and that the counter-intuitiveness of the optimization-based approaches has been exaggerated. (shrink)