For non-analytic ethical naturalists, externalism about moral motivation is an attractive option: it allows naturalists to embrace a Humean theory of motivation while holding that moral properties are real, natural properties. However, Michael Smith has mounted an important objection to this view. Smith observes that virtuous agents must have non-derivative motivation to pursue specific ends that they believe to be morally right; he then argues that this externalist view ascribes to the virtuous agent only a direct de dicto desire (...) to do what is morally right, but not a direct motivation to be kind, help those in need, et. I first clarify this “fetishism objection”; I then show how the non-analytical naturalist can provide an understanding of virtuous motivation that is immune to this objection. (shrink)
The content of the externalist thesis about the mind depends crucially on how we define the distinction between the internal and the external. According to the usual understanding, the boundary between the internal and the external is the skull or the skin of the subject. In this paper I argue that the usual understanding is inadequate, and that only the new understanding of the external/internal distinction I suggest helps us to understand the issue of the compatibility of externalism and (...) privileged access. (shrink)
We distinguish and discuss two different accounts of the subject matter of theories of reference, meta-externalism and meta-internalism. We argue that a form of the meta- internalist view, “moderate meta-internalism”, is the most plausible account of the subject matter of theories of reference. In the second part of the paper we explain how this account also helps to answer the questions of what kind of concept reference is, and what role intuitions have in the study of the reference relation.
In this paper, I credit Quine with having implicitly held a view I had long urged on him: externalism. Quine was the first fully to recognize that all there is to meaning is what we learn or absorb from observed usage. This entails the possibility of indeterminacy, thus destroying the myth of meanings. It also entails a powerful form of externalism. There is, of course, a counter-current in Quine's work of the mid century: the idea of stimulus meaning. (...) Attractive as this choice of empirical base is compared to such options as sense data, appearances, and percepts, it has serious difficulties. In general, an externalism which ties the contents of observation sentences and perceptual beliefs directly to the sorts of situations that usually make them true is superior to those forms of empiricism which introduce intermediaries between word and object. (shrink)
Semantic externalism in contemporary philosophy of language typically – and often tacitly – combines two supervenience claims about idiolectical meaning (i.e., meaning in the language system of an individual speaker). The first claim is that the meaning of a word in a speaker’s idiolect may vary without any variation in her intrinsic, physical properties. The second is that the meaning of a word in a speaker’s idiolect may vary without any variation in her understanding of its use. I here (...) show that a conception of idiolectical meaning is possible that accepts the “anti-internalism” of the first claim while rejecting (what I shall refer to as) the “anti-individualism” of the second. According to this conception, externally constituted idiolectical meaning supervenes on idiolectical understanding. (shrink)
John McDowell has suggested recently that there is a route from his favoured solution to Kripke's Wittgenstein's "sceptical paradox" about rule-following to a particular form of cognitive externalism. In this paper, I argue that this is not the case: even granting McDowell his solution to the rule-following paradox, his preferred version of cognitive externalism does not follow.
Most content externalists concede that even if externalism is compatible with the thesis that one has authoritative self-knowledge of thought contents, it is incompatible with the stronger claim that one is always able to tell by introspection whether two of one’s thought tokens have the same, or different, content. If one lacks such authoritative discriminative self-knowledge of thought contents, it would seem that brute logical error – non-culpable logical error – is possible. Some philosophers, such as Paul Boghossian, have (...) argued that this would present a big problem for externalism, forcing the externalist to overhaul our norms of rationality. I consider several externalist strategies to block this possibly unhappy epistemological consequence, but I argue that they all fail. (shrink)
Controversy continues to attach to the question whether an externalism about mental content is compatible with a traditional doctrine of privileged self-knowledge. By an externalism about mental content, I mean the view that what concepts our thoughts involve may depend not only on facts that are internal to us, but on facts about our environment. It is worth emphasizing, if only because it is still occasionally misperceived, that this thesis is supposed to apply at the level of sense (...) and not merely at that of reference: what concepts we think in terms of -- and not just what they happen to pick out -- is said by the externalist to depend upon environmental facts. By a traditional doctrine of privileged self-knowledge, I mean the view that we are able to know, without the benefit of empirical investigation, what our thoughts are in our own case. Suppose I entertain a thought that I would express with the sentence `Water is wet'. According to the traditional doctrine, I can know without empirical investigation (a) that I am entertaining a thought; (b) that it has a particular conceptual content, and (c) that its content is that water is wet. (shrink)
Several authors have argued that, assuming we have apriori knowledge of our own thought-contents, semantic externalism implies that we can know apriori contingent facts about the empirical world. After presenting the argument, I shall respond by resisting the premise that an externalist can know apriori: If s/he has the concept water, then water exists. In particular, Boghossian's Dry Earth example suggests that such thought-experiments do not provide such apriori knowledge. Boghossian himself rejects the Dry Earth experiment, however, since it (...) would imply that externalism is true of empty concepts as well as non-empty concepts. Yet in this paper I respond by defending empty-concept externalism, from criticisms suggested by Boghossian and Brown, and recently developed further by Besson. My contention is that an externalist can give a non-ad hoc descriptivist account of empty concepts. Accordingly, apriori self-knowledge does not enable an externalist to know contingent features of the external world. (shrink)
In this paper I consider a recent argument of Timothy Williamson’s that epistemic internalism and content externalism are indeed incompatible, and since he takes content externalism to be above reproach, so much the worse for epistemic internalism. However, I argue that epistemic internalism, properly understood, remains substantially unaffected no matter which view of content turns out to be correct. What is key to the New Evil Genius thought experiment is that, given everything of which the inhabitants are consciously (...) aware, the two worlds are subjectively indistinguishable for them, which is what matters on internalist accounts of epistemic justification. I argue that even if a standard moral of the New Evil Genius intuition is untenable due to considerations arising from content externalism, the case can be understood as supporting epistemic internalism in a way that is wholly compatible with content externalism. In short, epistemic internalism is committed to sameness of justificatory status between subjectively indistinguishable counterparts, not sameness of content of their justifiers. (shrink)
Recent discussion of Vogel-style “bootstrapping” scenarios suggests that they provide counterexamples to a wide variety of epistemological theories. Yet it remains unclear why it’s bad for a theory to permit bootstrapping, or even exactly what counts as a bootstrapping case. Going back to Vogel's original bootstrapping example, I note that an agent who could gain justification through the method Vogel describes would have available a “no-lose investigation”: an investigation that can justify a proposition but has no possibility of undermining it. (...) The main suggestion of this article is that an epistemological theory should not permit no-lose investigations. I identify necessary and sufficient conditions for such investigations, then explore epistemological theories that rule them out. If we want to avoid both skepticism and no-lose investigations, we must eschew either Closure or epistemic externalism. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that internalism about moral judgments and motivation faces a dilemma. On the one hand, a strong version of internalism is able to explain our conception of the connection between moral language and motivation, but fails to account for the notion that people who suffer from certain mental conditions need not be accordingly motivated. On the other hand, a weaker form of internalism avoids this difficulty, but fails to explain the mentioned conception concerning moral language and (...) motivation. Moreover, I argue that externalism in conjunction with a pragmatic claim which employs Grice’s concept of generalized conversational implicature is able to account for both these conceptions and that it consequently avoids the internalist dilemma. Thus, there is reason to think that this view is preferable to internalism. (shrink)
It is argued that Husserl was an “externalist” in at least one sense. For it is argued that Husserl held that genuinely perceptual experiences—that is to say, experiences that are of some real object in the world—differ intrinsically, essentially and as a kind from any hallucinatory experiences. There is, therefore, no neutral “content” that such perceptual experiences share with hallucinations, differing from them only over whether some additional non-psychological condition holds or not. In short, it is argued that Husserl was (...) a “disjunctivist”. In addition, it is argued that Husserl held that the individual object of any experience, perceptual or hallucinatory, is essential to and partly constitutive of that experience. The argument focuses on three aspects of Husserl’s thought: his account of intentional objects, his notion of horizon, and his account of reality. (shrink)
Semantic externalism about a class of expressions is often thought to make conceptual analysis about members of that class impossible. In particular, since externalism about natural kind terms makes the essences of natural kinds empirically discoverable, it seems that mere reflection on one's natural kind concept will not be able to tell one anything substantial about what it is for something to fall under one's natural kind concepts. Many hold the further view that one cannot even know anything (...) substantial about the reference-fixers of one's natural kind concepts by armchair reflection. In this paper I want to question this latter view and claim that, because of the way our standard methodology of doing theories of reference relies on semantic intuitions, typical externalists in fact presuppose that one can know the reference-fixers of one's natural kind concepts by mere armchair reflection. The more interesting question is how substantial such knowledge can be. I also take some steps toward answering this question. (shrink)
One of the chief aims of Donald Davidson's later work was to show that participation in a certain causal nexus involving two creatures and a shared environment–Davidson calls this nexus “triangulation”–is a metaphysically necessary condition for the acquisition of thought. This doctrine, I suggest, is aptly regarded as a form of what I call transcendental externalism. I extract two arguments for the transcendental-externalist doctrine from Davidson's writings, and argue that neither succeeds. A central interpretive claim is that the arguments (...) are primarily funded by a particular conception of the nature of non-human animal life. This conception turns out to be insupportable. The failure of Davidson's arguments presses the question of whether we could ever hope to arrive at far-reaching claims about the conditions for thought if we deny, as does Davidson, the legitimacy of the naturalistic project in the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Some worry that semantic externalism is incompatible with knowing by introspection what content your thoughts have. In this paper, I examine one primary argument for this incompatibilist worry, the slow-switch argument. Following Goldberg (2006), I construe the argument as attacking the conjunction of externalism and skeptic-proof knowledge of content, where such knowledge would be immune to skeptical doubt. Goldberg, following Burge (1988), attempts to reclaim such knowledge for the externalist; however, I contend that all Burge-style accounts (at best) (...) vindicate that a subject can introspectively know that she is thinking that “water is wet.” They do not yet show how a subject can introspectively know what she is thinking—which is the distinctive type of knowing at issue in the slow-switch argument. Nonetheless, I subsequently amend the Burge-style view to illustrate how an externalist can introspectively “know what” content her thought has, and know it in a skeptic-proof manner, despite what the slow-switch argument may suggest. For one, I emphasize that “knowing what” is intensional (one can know what a water-thought is sans familiarity with H2O-thoughts). Second, I exploit the fact that such knowledge can be ontologically non-committal (so that knowing your thought is about water does not require knowing that water exists). Finally, following Boër and Lycan (1986), I point out that “knowing what” is purpose-relative—and for at least some purposes, I suggest it is possible for the externalist to “know what” content her thought has, even when skeptical hypotheses about XYZ are entertained. (shrink)
Interpretive charity is an important principle in devising the content of propositional attitudes and their expression. I want to argue that it does not square well with externalism about content. Although my argument clearly also applies to a principle of maximizing truth (as it requires only the true belief - component of knowledge), I will focus my attention to Timothy Williamson’s more intriguing recent proposal of maximizing knowledge.
Content externalism about memory says that the individuation of memory contents depends on relations the subject bears to his past environment. I defend externalism about memory by arguing that neither philosophical nor psychological considerations stand in the way of accepting the context dependency of memory that follows from externalism.
The Life of the Mind presents an original and striking conception of the mind and its place in nature. In a spirited and rigorous attack on most of the orthodox positions in contemporary philosophy of mind, McCulloch connects three of the orthodoxy's central themes-- externalism, phenomenology and the relation between science and commonsense psychology in a defense of a thoroughly anti-Cartesian conception of mental life. McCulloch argues that the life of the mind will never be understood until we properly (...) understand the subject's essential embodiment and immersion in the world, until we give up the idea that an understanding of the mind must be "scientific," and until we give up the idea that intentionality and phenomenology must be understood separately. (shrink)
Whereas a number of recent articles have focussed upon whether the thesis of content externalism is compatible with a certain sort of knowledge that is gained via first-person authority,1 far less attention has been given to the relationship that this thesis bears to the possession of knowledge in general and, in particular, its relation to internalist and externalist epistemologies. Nevertheless, although very few actual arguments have been presented to this end, there does seem to be a shared suspicion that (...) content externalism must be incompatible with epistemic internalism. In a recent and influential paper, however, James Chase has challenged this conventional wisdom by offering a subtle defence of the view that content externalism and epistemic internalism are, in fact, compatible after all.2 Our aim here is twofold. First, to show that Chase is only able to achieve this result because he focuses upon the internalist conception of justification, rather than knowledge. Second, to formulate one prima facie argument which shows that an internalist conception of knowledge is incompatible with an externalist conception of content, an argument which, moreover, is not touched by Chase. (shrink)
Virtually all philosophers agree that for a belief to be epistemically justified, it must satisfy certain conditions. Perhaps it must be supported by evidence. Or perhaps it must be reliably formed. Or perhaps there are some other "good-making" features it must have. But does a belief's justification also require some sort of awareness of its good-making features? The answer to this question has been hotly contested in contemporary epistemology, creating a deep divide among its practitioners. Internalists, who tend to focus (...) on scientific or theoretical beliefs as the ideal, insist that such awareness is required for justification. Externalists, who think children's ordinary beliefs in obvious facts are paradigm cases of justified belief, say it isn't required. Michael Bergmann's book offers a decisive refutation of internalism and a sustained defense of externalism. (shrink)
Externalism holds, and internalism denies, that the individuation of many of an individual's mental states (e.g., thoughts about the physical world) depends necessarily on relations that individual bears to the physical and/or social environment. Many philosophers, externalists and internalists alike, believe that introspection yields knowledge of the contents of our thoughts that is direct and authoritative. It is not obvious, however, that the metaphysical claims of externalism are compatible with this epistemological thesis. Some (e.g., Burge, 1988; Falvey and (...) Owens (F&O), 1994) have sought to dispel the worry that there is a conflict, though they admit that if such a conflict exists, it spells trouble for externalism (see, e.g., F&O, 1994, p. 108). Boghossian has argued that there is indeed a conflict between externalism and introspective knowledge of content. Surprisingly, however, he also argues that there is a conflict between internalism and introspective knowledge of content. I will defend Boghossian's claim that there is a conflict between externalism and knowledge of content, but criticize his claim that there is a conflict between internalism and knowledge of content. (shrink)
It is widely held that the meaning of certain types of terms, such as natural kind terms, is individuated externalistically, in terms of the individual's external environment. Recently a more radical thesis has emerged, a thesis we dub 'a posteriori semantics.' The suggestion is that not only does a term's meaning depend on the external environment, but so does its semantics. One motivation for this is the aim to account for cases where a putative natural kind term fails to pick (...) out a natural kind: The term may have a standard externalist semantics (if it picks out a natural kind) or a more descriptivist one (if it does not). Knowing which semantics applies will therefore require detailed empirical knowledge. This move has also been employed in cases where a singular term, such as a name, fails to have a reference. We argue that a posteriori semantics is inherently implausible, since the type of semantics common terms should be given ought not to be conditional on details of chemistry or physics. A number of difficulties for the position—'metaphysical,' epistemological, and methodological—are articulated. Finally, we suggest that a posteriori semantics misconstrues the way in which semantics is empirical. (shrink)
Some experimental studies have recently claimed to undermine semantic externalism about natural kind terms. However, it is unclear how philosophical accounts of reference can be experimentally tested. We present two externalistic adaptations of psychological placeholder essentialism, a strict externalist and a hybrid externalist view, which are experimentally testable. We examine Braisby's et al. (1996) study which claims to undermine externalism, and argue that the study fails in its aims. We conducted two experiments, the results of which undermine internalism (...) and the hybrid theory, and support strict externalism. Our conclusion is that lay speakers' natural kind concepts involve a belief in an external category essence, which determines reference. (shrink)
Davidson has attempted to integrate externalism into his account of meaning and understanding. He contends that what words mean is fixed in part by the circumstances in which they were learnt, in which the basic connection between words and things is established. This connection is allegedly established by causal interaction between people and the world. Words and sentences derive their meanings from the objects and circumstances in which they were learnt, which.
I claim that there are four major strands of argument for externalism and set out to discuss three of them. The four are: (A) That referential thoughts are object-dependent. This I do not discuss. (B) That the semantics of natural kind terms is externalist. (C) That all semantic content, even of descriptive terms, stems from the causal relations of representations to the things or properties they designate in the external world. (D) That, because meaning is a social product and (...) no individual can capture the whole social practice that defines a concept, what the speaker means always outruns what he can know.I briefiy discuss (C) and (D) and conclude that they cannot be correct, because, if they were, the content of every thought would permanently transcend the refiective grasp of all thinkers. Then I discuss (B) and conclude that, though Putnam shows something interesting about natural kind terms -- namely that a real verbal definition requires science -- this has none of the consequences for philosophy of mind that it is normally supposed to have. (shrink)
If you want a philosophically diligent exposition of a theory, something that has got through review by conventional peers, go elsewhere (Honderich, 2004). If you want an understanding made more immediate by brevity and informality, read on. The theory is a Radical Externalism about the nature of consciousness. If it is not a complete departure from the cranialism of most of the philosophy and science of consciousness, it is a fundamental departure.
The aim of this paper is to show what sorts of logics are required by externalist and internalist accounts of the meanings of natural kind nouns. These logics give us a new perspective from which to evaluate the respective positions in the externalist-internalist debate about the meanings of such nouns. The two main claims of the paper are the following: first, that adequate logics for internalism and externalism about natural kind nouns are second-order logics; second, that an internalist second-order (...) logic is a free logic—a second order logic free of existential commitments for natural kind nouns, while an externalist second-order logic is not free of existential commitments for natural kind nouns—it is existentially committed. (shrink)
Incompatibilism is the view that privileged knowledge of our own mental states cannot be reconciled with externalism regarding the content of mental states. Davidson has recently developed two arguments that are supposed to disprove incompatibilism and establish the consistency of privileged access and externalism. One argument criticizes incompatibilism for assuming that externalism conflicts with the mind?body identity theory. Since mental states supervene on neurological events, Davidson argues, they are partly ?in the head? and are knowable just by (...) reflection. Another argument rejects incompatibilism by repudiating the object perception model of introspection. Once extemalism is freed from the internalist idea that thoughts take objects which are inner epistemological intermediaries, Davidson maintains, it poses no threat to privileged self?knowledge. It is argued that neither of these arguments is successful, since both disprove assumptions irrelevant to incompatibilism. Moreover, it is indicated how Davidson would have to go about defending his positive account of privileged self?knowledge against the principal incompatibilist arguments. (shrink)
[FIRST PARAGRAPHS]The role of Professor McLaughlin's sceptic is to introduce certain 'sceptical hypotheses', hypotheses which imply the falsity of most of what we believe about the world. Professor McLaughlin asks whether these hypotheses are coherent and thus whether they can tell us anything about what are entitled to believe, or to claim to know. He concludes that, semantic externalism notwithstanding, these hypotheses are both coherent and threatening. I shall not question this conclusion but I do wonder whether the fate (...) of scepticism hangs entirely on the coherence of the sceptical hypotheses. I shall maintain that the root of scepticism, at least as we find it in Descartes and Hume, is the demand for certainty. Recent writers are likely to dismiss this demand for certainty: in their view, inconclusive evidence is quite sufficient both to justify belief and to give us knowledge (should the proposition in question turn out to be true). Like Professor McLaughlin, recent debate focuses rather on the possibility that we might have no evidence at all for our beliefs, that our belief-forming processes might be completely unreliable, undermining both knowledge and justification. It is the sceptical hypotheses which generate this worry - ordinary error does not - and so it is they alone, not the prosaic fact of our fallibility, which provide grounds for a real sceptical doubt. Descartes and Hume are standard reference points for discussion of the sceptical hypotheses. Yet, I shall argue, in both Descartes and Hume, the sceptical hypotheses are secondary; what is really doing the work is their demand for certainty. Furthermore Descartes, at least, suggests a way in which this demand might be motivated. Both philosophers do indeed raise 'the problem of the external world' but this is only one aspect of their scepticism; we can't dispatch either the Cartesian or the Humean sceptic just by demonstrating that thought or experience presupposes the existence of an external world. Their sceptical problem is more than the problem posed by the sceptical hypotheses. (shrink)
To sum up, then, both kinds of Putnam's arguments established externalism, though they suffer from several defects. Yet, I think Searle's discussion of these arguments contributes to our understanding of what makes externalism true, and forces us to accept a moderate version of externalism. Searle's own account of the TE story shows us, within a solipsistic outline, how two identical mental states can be directed towards different objects, and further, that the content-determination of indexical thoughts does not (...) necessarily involve external factors. We are thus led to search elsewhere (i.e., not in the nature of indexical thoughts nor in the mere fact of there being identical thoughts with different intentionalities) for what makes the thoughts in question ‘external’. Searle formulates the thesis that intension determines extension as asserting that intension sets certain conditions that anything has to meet in order to fall under its extension. I showed that this is a trivial and implausible understanding of that thesis. Yet, it leads us to distinguish between an intension's setting conditions for falling under its extension and its fully determining such conditions, and thus to see in what sense externalism is true: in the sense that there are intensions that do not fully determine the conditions for falling under their extensions. Rather, they leave indeterminacies. This version of externalism is a moderate one, since though the intensions do not fully determine extensions, they, so to speak, determine their indeterminacies, by specifying the possible external facts that can complete the determination of extension. (The intensions, as I said, function like open sentences, and can be viewed as narrow contents.) So what's in the head plays a much more important role in determining content than Putnam takes it to play. Searle's pointing out that Hilary's concepts ‘elm’ and ‘beech’ are different also contributes to seeing this phenomenon: we realize that in that case the difference between the concepts is what is responsible for the fact that the completions of the extension-determinations are different. I think that this way of viewing the facts shows that ‘the externalist turn’ is not a great revolution, and that with the help of the concept of narrow content we can accept it without abandoning the traditional views about the mind as the source of content, and without being embarrassed by the very idea of (realistic) belief-desire psychology. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that what underlies internalism about justification is a rationalist conception of justification, not a deontological conception of justification, and I argue for the plausibility of this rationalist conception of justification. The rationalist conception of justification is the view that a justified belief is a belief that is held in a rational way; since we exercise our rationality through conscious deliberation, the rationalist conception holds that a belief is justified iff a relevant possible instance of conscious (...) deliberation would endorse the belief. The importance of conscious deliberation stems from its role in guiding us in acquiring true beliefs: whereas the externalist holds that if we wish to acquire true beliefs, we have to begin by assuming that some of our usual methods of belief formation generally provide us with true beliefs, the internalist holds that if we form beliefs by conscious deliberation, we can be conscious of reasons for thinking that our beliefs are true. Conscious deliberation can make us conscious of reasons because it proceeds via rational intuitions. I argue that despite the fallibility of rational intuition, rational intuitions do enable us to become conscious of reasons for belief. (shrink)
Putnam and Burge have been viewed as launching a joint attack on individualism, the view that the content of one's psychological state is determined by what is in the head . Putnam argues that meanings are not in the head while Burge argues that beliefs are not in the head either, and both have come up with convincing arguments against individualism. It is generally conceived that Putnam's view is a version of physical externalism, which argues that factors in the (...) physical environment play a role in determining the meanings of natural kind terms. Burge, on the other hand, is regarded as following up Putnam's argument to bring in factors in the social environment for the determination of belief. Burge's view has been commonly referred to as 'social externalism.' The general consensus in the field is that physical externalism and social externalism are compatible views. Furthermore, both Putnam and Burge seem to endorse each other’s position for the most part. In this paper, however, I shall argue against this general view to show that the two theories are deep down incompatible. (shrink)
Temporal externalism (TE) is the thesis (defended by Jackman (1999)) that the contents of some of an individual’s thoughts and utterances at time t may be determined by linguistic developments subsequent to t. TE has received little discussion so far, Brown 2000 and Stoneham 2002 being exceptions. I defend TE by arguing that it solves several related problems concerning the extension of natural kind terms in scientifically ignorant communities. Gary Ebbs (2000) argues that no theory can reconcile our ordinary, (...) practical judgments of sameness of extension over time with the claim that linguistic usage determines word extensions. I argue that Ebbs shows at most that no theory other than TE can effect this reconciliation. Furthermore, while Ebbs’ argument undermines Jessica Brown’s solutions to two closely related problems about natural kind term extensions (Brown 1998), TE can solve both problems without difficulty. Some criticisms of TE are briefly addressed as well. (shrink)
The argument known as the 'McKinsey Recipe' tries to establish the incompatibility of semantic externalism (about natural kind concepts in particular) and _a priori _self- knowledge about thoughts and concepts by deriving from the conjunction of these theses an absurd conclusion, such as that we could know _a priori _that water exists. One reply to this argument is to distinguish two different readings of 'natural kind concept': (i) a concept which _in fact _denotes a natural kind, and (ii) a (...) concept which _aims_ to denote a natural kind. Paul Boghossian has argued, using a _Dry Earth _scenario, that this response fails, claiming that the externalist cannot make sense of a concept aiming, but failing, to denote a natural kind. In this paper I argue that Boghossian's argument is flawed. Borrowing machinery from two-dimensional semantics, using the notion of 'considering a possible world as actual', I claim that we can give a determinate answer to Boghossian's question: which concept would 'water' express on Dry Earth? (shrink)
Externalism holds that the individuation of mental content depends on factors external to the subject. This doctrine appears to undermine both the claim that there is a priori self-knowledge, and the view that individuals have privileged access to their thoughts. Tyler Burge’s inﬂuential inclusion theory of self-knowledge purports to reconcile externalism with authoritative self-knowledge. I ﬁrst consider Paul Boghossian’s claim that the inclusion theory is internally inconsistent. I reject one line of response to this charge, but I endorse (...) another. I next suggest, however, that the inclusion theory has little explanatory value. (shrink)
: Although Externalism is widely accepted as a thesis about belief, as a thesis about experience it is both controversial and unpopular. One potential explanation of this difference involves the phenomenality of perceptual experience—perhaps there is something about how perceptual experiences seem that straightforwardly speaks against Externalist accounts of their individuation conditions. In this paper, I investigate this idea by exploring the role that the phenomenality of color experience plays in a prominent argument against Phenomenal Externalism: Ned Block’s (...) Inverted Earth Argument. In the course of carrying out this investigation, I will show that challenging Phenomenal Externalism on phenomenological grounds is not as straightforward a task as it is commonly assumed to be. -/- . (shrink)
Vehicle externalists hold that the physical substrate of mental states can sometimes extend beyond the brain into the body and environment. In a particular variation on vehicle externalism, Susan Hurley (1998) and Alva Noë (2004) have argued that perceptual states, states with phenomenal qualities, are among the mental states that can sometimes spread beyond the brain. Their vehicle externalism about perceptual states will be the main topic of this article. In particular, I will address three strong objections to (...) their vehicle externalism, objections by Ned Block (2005), Jesse Prinz (2006), and Fred Adams & Ken Aizawa (2008). Though in some ways these objections appear disparate, I will argue that all of them depend on a crucial presupposition, one which Hurley, Noë, and their sympathizers should reject. This presupposition is that perceptual character is fixed by an instantaneous snapshot of neural states, a view that Hurley dubbed ‘temporal atomism.’ To put the presupposition in more familiar terms, all three objections are implicitly committed to something like Dennett’s Cartesian Theater (1991). -/- In the first part of the article, I will discuss Hurley and Noë’s views, and include reasons why their views entail the rejection of the Cartesian Theater. In the next part of the article I will introduce the three objections and show how they presuppose something like a Cartesian Theater. I will also show that, if the Cartesian Theater is rejected, the objections all vanish. In the final part of the article I address the charge that Noë and Hurley confuse causation with constitution. This charge reveals a lack of appreciation for the way in which dynamical explanation motivates Hurley’s externalism. (shrink)
I look at incompatibilist arguments aimed at showing that the conjunction of the thesis that a subject has privileged, a priori access to the contents of her own thoughts, on the one hand, and of semantic externalism, on the other, lead to a putatively absurd conclusion, namely, a priori knowledge of the external world. I focus on arguments involving a variety of externalism resulting from the singularity or object-dependence of certain terms such as the demonstrative ‘that’. McKinsey argues (...) that incompatibilist arguments employing such externalist theses are at their strongest, and conclusively show that privileged access must be rejected. While I agree on the truth of the relevant externalist theses, I show that all plausible versions of the incompatibilist reductio argument as applied to such theses are fundamentally flawed, for these versions of the argument must make assumptions that lead to putatively absurd knowledge of the external world independently of the thesis of privileged access. (shrink)
In his fetishist argument, Michael Smith raises an important question: What is the content of the motivational states that constitute moral motivation? Although the argument has been widely discussed, this question has not received the attention it deserves. In the present paper, I use Smith’s argument as a point of departure for a discussion of how advocates of externalism as regards moral judgements can account for moral motivation. More precisely, I explore various explanations of moral motivation that externalists can (...) employ to answer the question Smith poses. (shrink)
Sarah Sawyer has challenged my claim that social externalism depends on the assumption that individuals have an incomplete grasp of their own concepts. Sawyer denies that Burge's later sofa thought-experiment relies on this assumption: the unifying principle behind the thought-experiments supporting social externalism, she argues, is just that referents play a role in the individuation of concepts. I argue that Sawyer fails to show that social externalism need not rely on the assumption of incomplete understanding. To establish (...) the content externalist conclusions, further considerations are required, and these do commit the externalist to the assumption of incomplete understanding. (shrink)
A kind of intellectual project characteristic of Ernest Sosa is to resolve an apparently flat-out dispute by showing that it is not after all a zero-sum game. His irenic goal is to do justice to both sides and give each of them most of what it wants. In his subtle paper ‘Abilities, Concepts, and Externalism’ he applies this strategy to the dispute between internalism and externalism in the philosophy of mind. It is a pleasure to engage in discussion (...) with a philosopher of Sosa’s fair-mindedness and analytical skills. (shrink)
A central premise in Tyler Burge's argument for social externalism says that an incomplete understanding can be sufficient for concept possession. Burge claims that this premise is grounded in ordinary practices of giving psychological explanations. On the basis of an extended version of Burge's 'arthritis' case Donald Davidson has argued that this claim is false. The paper argues that Davidson's argument is unconvincing. A closer analysis of Davidson's extended 'arthritis' case shows that the belief ascriptions Davidson focuses on actually (...) support social externalism. (shrink)
In ‘Mental Events’ Donald Davidson argued for the anomalism of the mental on the basis of the operation of incompatible constitutive principles in the mental and physical domains. Many years later, he has suggested that externalism provides further support for the anomalism of the mental. I examine the basis for that claim. The answer to the question in the title will be a qualiﬁed ‘Yes’. That is an important result in the metaphysics of mind and an interesting consequence of (...)externalism. (shrink)
At first pass, internalism about justification is the view that there is no justificatory difference without an internal difference. Externalism about mental content is the view that there are differences in mental content without an internal difference. Assuming (complete) mental contents are the primary bearers of justificatory features, the two views are in obvious tension. The goal of this paper is to determine how the tension is best resolved. The paper proceeds as follows. In §1 I explain the threat (...) to justificatory internalism from content externalism in more detail. In §2 I present Earl Conee and Richard Feldman’s “counterpart propositions” reply to the problem of content externalism. §3 criticizes the counterpart propositions reply. §4 presents a view in the metaphysics of belief that is widely adopted by content externalists: one that appeals to vehicles of content, modes of presentation of content, or ways of believing propositions. §5 exploits this metaphysics of belief in order to better accommodate justificatory internalist insights in light of content externalism. §6 shows how the new view (‘the Vehicle View’) can be used to address problems that face Conee and Feldman’s account. Finally, §7 provides a new argument from the Vehicle View for the language of thought hypothesis. (shrink)
Our aim is to provide a topography of the relevant philosophical terrain with regard to the possible ways in which knowledge can be conceived of as extended. We begin by charting the different types of internalist and externalist proposals within epistemology, and we critically examine the different formulations of the epistemic internalism/externalism debate they lead to. Next, we turn to the internalism/externalism distinction within philosophy of mind and cognitive science. In light of the above dividing lines, we then (...) examine first the extent to which content externalism is compatible with epistemic externalism; second, whether active externalism entails epistemic externalism; and third whether there are varieties of epistemic externalism that are better suited to accommodate active externalism. Finally, we examine whether the combination of epistemic and cognitive externalism is necessary for epistemology and we comment on the potential ramifications of this move for social epistemology and philosophy of science. (shrink)