A person skeptical about other minds supposes it is possible in principle that there are no minds other than his. A person skeptical about an external world thinks it is possible there is no world external to him. Some philosophers think a person can refute the skeptic and prove that his world is not the solitary scenario the skeptic supposes might be realized. In this paper I examine one argument that some people think refutes solipsism. The argument, from Wittgenstein, is (...) grounded in a thesis about language. Some people believe that in using language a person necessarily is linked to persons other than himself. Some people think a person can use the ‘communalist’ principle to refute forms of solipsism. I show that people do not refute solipsism with the Wittgensteinian, language-necessarily-is-shared principle. (shrink)
Orthodox neural materialists think mental states are neural events or orthodox material properties of neutral events. Orthodox material properties are defining properties of the “physical”. A “defining property” of the physical is a type of property that provides a necessary condition for something’s being correctly termed “physical”. In this paper I give an argument against orthodox neural materialism. If successful, the argument would show at least some properties of some mental states are not orthodox material properties of neural events. Opposing (...) philosophical orthodoxy, I show there are no posteriori identities -- identities that cannot be known of a priori. (shrink)
Pleasure is one of the strongest candidates for an occurrence that might be good, in some respect, unconditionally. Malicious pleasure is one of the most often cited alleged counter-examples to pleasure’s being an unconditional good. Correctly evaluating malicious pleasure is more complex than people realize. I defend pleasure’s unconditionally good status from critics of malicious pleasure.
Many philosophers sharply distinguish emotions from feelings. Emotions are not feelings, and having an emotion does not necessitate having some feeling, they think. In this paper I reply to a set of arguments people use sharply to distinguish emotions from feelings. In response to these people, I endorse and defend a hedonic theory of emotion that avoids various anti-feeling objections. Proponents of this hedonic theory analyze an emotion by reference to forms of cognition (e.g., thought, belief, judgment) and a pleasant (...) or an unpleasant feeling. Given this theory,emotions are feelings in some important sense of "feelings", and these feelings are identified as particular emotions by reference to their hedonic character and the cognitive state that causes the hedonic feelings. (shrink)
People support ethical antirealism with various arguments. Gilbert Harman thinks if a property of goodness existed, it would have detectable effects on objects that have it. However, Harman reasons, the good has no such detectable effects. Internalists think if good objects had some goodness property, that property would bond to desire and action in a way inconsistent with ethical realism. I defend ethical realism from the two arguments. I explain how good can both name a property and how objects with (...) that property might dispose people to seek them. This explanation of the good's magnetism provides a reply to Harman. (shrink)
By what types of properties do we specify twinges, toothaches, and other kinds of mental states? Wittgenstein considers two methods. Procedure one, direct, private acquaintance: A person connects a word to the sensation it specifies through noticing what that sensation is like in his own experience. Procedure two, outward signs: A person pins his use of a word to outward, pre-verbal signs of the sensation. I identify and explain a third procedure and show we in fact specify many kinds of (...) mental states in this way. (shrink)
People see five kinds of views in epistemology and ontology as hinging on there being words a person can learn only by private ostensive definitions, through direct acquaintance with his own sensations: skepticism about other minds, 2. skepticism about an external world, 3. foundationalism, 4. dualism, and 5. phenomenalism. People think Wittgenstein refuted these views by showing, they believe, no word is learnable only by private ostensive definition. I defend these five views from Wittgenstein’s attack.
Functionalists think an event's causes and effects, its 'causal role', determines whether it is a mental state and, if so, which kind. Functionalists see this causal role principle as supporting their orthodox materialism, their commitment to the neuroscientist's ontology. I examine and refute the functionalist's causal principle and the orthodox materialism that attends that principle.
That all pleasure is good and all pain bad in itself is an eternally true ethical principle. The common claim that some pleasure is not good, or some pain not bad, is mistaken. Strict particularism (ethical decisions must be made case by case; there are no sound universal normative principles) and relativism (all good and bad are relative to society) are among the ethical theories we may refute through an appeal to pleasure and pain. Daniel Dennett, Philippa Foot, R M (...) Hare, Gilbert Harman, Immanuel Kant, J. L. Mackie, and Jean-Paul Sartre are among the many philosophers addressed. (shrink)
Hedonic pluralism is the thesis that 'pleasure' cannot be given a single, all-embracing definition. In this paper I criticize the reasoning people use to support this thesis and suggest some plausible all-encompassing analyses that easily avoid the kinds of objections people raise to all-encompassing analyses.
That every sensation type be marked by a distinctive outward sign is not a prerequisite for having names for different kinds of sensations. The paper is part of a challenge to the widely accepted Wittgensteinian thesis that it is a requirement for our having names for mental states that we tie psychological words to outward signs of the mental states.
Explaining the "intentional object" some people assign pleasure, I argue that a person is pleased about something when his thoughts about that thing cause him to feel pleasure. Bernard Williams, Gilbert Ryle, and Irving Thalberg, who reject this analysis, are discussed. Being pleased (or distressed) about something is a compound of pleasure (pain) and some thought or belief. Pleasure in itself does not have an "intentional object".
Against Hume and Epicurus I argue that our selection of pleasure, pain and other objects as our ultimate ends is guided by reason. There are two parts to the explanation of our attraction to pleasure, our aversion to pain, and our consequent preference of pleasure to pain: 1. Pleasure presents us with reason to seek it, pain presents us reason to avoid it, and 2. Being intelligent, human beings (and to a degree, many animals) are disposed to be guided by (...) reason, and hence by what there is reason to choose, seek, and prefer, when they act. (shrink)