Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity , (CIS), Cambridge University Press, (Cambridge and New York; 1989), pp. 201+xvi ____________, Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth , (ORT), Philosophical Papers Volume 1, Cambridge University Press, (Cambridge and New York; 1991), pp. 226+x. ____________, Essays on Heidegger and Others , (EHO), Philosophical Papers Volume 2, Cambridge UniversityPress, (Cambridge and New York; 1991), pp. 202+x. Alan R. Malachowski, ed., Reading Rorty , (RR), Basil Blackwell, (Oxford and Cambridge, MA; 1990), pp. 384+xiv.
Remarks such as 'I am in pain' and 'I think that it's raining' present opportunity for reflection and theory. Ostensibly such remarks report what one feels or thinks. But we do not in conversation treat these remarks as we do ordinary reports. If I ask you about the weather and you say, "I think it's raining," I can't complain that you told me just about your thoughts, and not about the weather. It is often held, moreover, when we do take (...) such remarks as revealing the speaker's mental states, those remarks are not subject to the kind of challenges that are in place with ordinary reports. Indeed, such remarks are often taken to exhibit some kind of epistemic privilege, and some have even maintained that one cannot be wrong when one says such things. (shrink)
Culturally, America is well overdue for a Second Enlightenment, but since the dominant majority of its citizens are regrettably both symbol-minded and star-craving mad, and since the mass media are generally inaccessible to us, the chance that contemporary philosophers could contribute to such a thing, much less help instigate it, is near vanishingly small. As educators, in contrast, we can perhaps make ourselves useful by beginning to clear the extensive muck out of at least some of our students’ minds. In (...) any event, the discipline of philosophy as such is in serious need of renewal, but that, should it unexpectedly happen, will be matter of luck rather than a result of deliberate action. (shrink)
Wilfrid Sellars' conclusion in "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind" that "the Given" is a "Myth" quickly elicited philosophical opposition and remains contentious fifty years later. William Alston has challenged that conclusion on several occasions by attempting to devise an acceptable account of perception committed to the givenness of perceived objects. His most recent challenge advances a "Theory of Appearing" which posits irreducible non-conceptual relations, ostensibly overlooked by Sellars, e.g., of "looking red", between the subject and the object perceived, that (...) can playa justificatory role vis-à-vis the corresponding beliefs, e.g., that the object is red. I argue that Alston undermines his positive plausibility arguments by first blurring and then ignoring crucial differencesamong various looks-concepts, and that his own putative "phenomenal" looks-concept demonstrably cannot play the justificatory role that he envisions for it. Both his critique of Sellars' arguments and his own alternative proposal thus fail on all fronts. (shrink)
Jay Rosenberg introduces Immanuel Kant's masterwork, the Critique of Pure Reason, from a "relaxed" problem-oriented perspective which treats Kant as an especially insightful practicing philosopher, from whom we still have much to learn, intelligently and creatively responding to significant questions that transcend his work's historical setting. Rosenberg's main project is to command a clear view of how Kant understands various perennial problems, how he attempts to resolve them, and to what extent he succeeds. At the same time the book is (...) an introduction to the challenges of reading the text of Kant's work and, to that end, selectively adopts a more rigorous historical and exegetical stance. Accessing Kant will be an invaluable resource for advanced students and for any scholar seeking Rosenberg's own distinctive insights into Kant's work. (shrink)
Jay Rosenberg offers a systematic philosophical theory of knowledge which is specifically responsive to the fact that we always engage the world from a particular perspective within it. It consequently calls into question in a fundamental way many received understandings regarding the relationships among the concepts of knowledge, belief, justification, and truth.
According to Hume, the idea of a persisting, self-identical object, distinct from our impressions of it, and the idea of a duration of time, the mere passage of time without change, are mutually supporting "fictions". Each rests upon a "mistake", the commingling of "qualities of the imagination" or "impressions of reflection" with "external" impressions (perceptions), and, strictly speaking, we are conceptually and epistemically entitled to neither. Among Kant's aims in the First Critique is the securing of precisely these entitlements. Like (...) Hume, he acknowledges the correlativity of the notions of temporal duration and persisting self-identical objects (i.e., continuant substances). Unlike Hume, however, he undertakes to establish the legitimacy or objective validity of the schematized category of substance and, correspondingly, of the representation of time as a formal unity with duration as one of its modes. (shrink)
Philosophy is by its nature systematic in intent. In Wilfrid Sellars’ words, it aims “to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term.” Philosophical systematicity is thus a matter of both scope and structure. The purview of a philosophical inquiry may encompass more or less of what is of rational concern to us, and such structure as its outcome has will constituted by the fundamental globalcommitments that inform (...) it—realism, nominalism, expressivism, naturalism, pragmatism, or the like. Lack of systematic vision arguably subverts philosophical reflection, but genuine systematicity turns out to be surprisingly difficult to achieve. I offer three brief case studies, which illustrate different, but significantly related, ways of failing to achieve it. (shrink)
The argument of Kant's Second Analogy provides only for causal connections between successive appearances, but, as Kant himself immediately notes, in many cases cause and effect are simultaneous. This essay examines Kant's solution to the resulting problem of simultaneous causation. I argue that there are, in fact, at least two distinct problems falling together under the rubric 'simultaneous causation', both reflecting significant features of paradigmatic causal-explanatory scenarios within Newtonian mechanics - a problem about the 'persisting simultaneity' of a continuous or (...) sustaining cause with its effect, and a problem about the 'instantaneous simultaneity' of what Kant calls the causality of a cause with the onset of its effect. An exploration of the ingenious conceptual resources which Kant brings to bear on these problems turns out to yield interesting and important insights regarding his philosophy of mathematics as well. (shrink)
I begin by tracing some of the confusions regarding levels and reduction to a failure to distinguish two different principles according to which theories can be viewed as hierarchically arranged — epistemic authority and ontological constitution. I then argue that the notion of levels relevant to the debate between symbolic and connectionist paradigms of mental activity answers to neither of these models, but is rather correlative to the hierarchy of functional decompositions of cognitive tasks characteristic of homuncular functionalism. Finally, I (...) suggest that the incommensurability of the intentional and extensional vocabularies constitutes a strongprima facie reason to conclude that there is little likelihood of filling in the story of Bechtel''s missing level in such a way as to bridge the gap between such homuncular functionalism and his own model of mechanistic explanation. (shrink)
Beginning with Descartes' caution not “imprudently” to “take some other object in place of myself”, I consider first the problems of self-identification confronted by various amnesiacs , both ordinary and Cartesian. Noting that cogitationes as such do not individuate, I proceed to examine conclusions drawn from certain sorts of “body-switching” thought experiments. This, in turn, gives rise to a general critique of “psychological connectedness” or “unity of consciousness” as a candidate criterion of personal identity. I conclude that our ability to (...) apply any notion of personal identity is parasitic upon the existence of a conceptual apparatus for individuating, identifying, and reidentifying objects. Finally, I argue that, if ‘person’ is a proper sortal predicate to begin with, Descartes' res cogitans cannot be understood as a species of the (metaphysical) genus res , distinct from res extensa and only problematically in “interaction” with it. Cartesian dualism is a multiply untenable doctrine. (shrink)