Abstract: Recent experimental research on the 'Knobe effect' suggests, somewhat surprisingly, that there is a bi-directional relation between attributions of intentional action and evaluative considerations. We defend a novel account of this phenomenon that exploits two factors: (i) an intuitive asymmetry in judgments of responsibility (e.g. praise/blame) and (ii) the fact that intentionality commonly connects the evaluative status of actions to the responsibility of actors. We present the results of several new studies that provide empirical evidence in support of this (...) account while disconfirming various currently prominent alternative accounts. We end by discussing some implications of this account for folk psychology. (shrink)
Sunstein's characterization of moral blunders jointly indicts an intuitive process and the structure of heuristics. But intuitions need not lead to error, and the problems with moral heuristics apply also to moral principles. Accordingly, moral development may well involve more, rather than less, intuitive responsiveness. This suggests a novel trajectory for future research into the development of appropriate moral judgments.
It has often been suggested that people's ordinary understanding of morality involves a belief in objective moral truths and a rejection of moral relativism. The results of six studies call this claim into question. Participants did offer apparently objectivist moral intuitions when considering individuals from their own culture, but they offered increasingly relativist intuitions considering individuals from increasingly different cultures or ways of life. The authors hypothesize that people do not have a fixed commitment to moral objectivism but instead tend (...) to adopt different views depending on the degree to which they consider radically different perspectives on moral questions. (shrink)
It has been claimed that the attempt to analyze know-how in terms of propositional knowledge over-intellectualizes the mind. Exploiting the methods of so-called “experimental philosophy”, we show that the charge of over-intellectualization is baseless. Contra neo-Ryleans, who analyze know-how in terms of ability, the concrete-case judgments of ordinary folk are most consistent with the view that there exists a set of correct necessary and sufficient conditions for know-how that does not invoke ability, but rather a certain sort of propositional knowledge. (...) To the extent that one’s considered judgments agree with those of the folk (or to the extent that one is unwilling to contravene widespread judgments), this constitutes a strong prima facie case against neo-Ryleanism. (shrink)
Recent scholarship (Goodwin & Darley, 2008) on the meta-ethical debate between objectivism and relativism has found people to be mixed: they are objectivists about some issues, but relativists about others. The studies discussed here sought to explore this further. Study 1 explored whether giving people the ability to identify moral issues for themselves would reveal them to be more globally objectivist. Study 2 explored people's meta-ethical commitments more deeply, asking them to provide verbal explanations for their judgments. This revealed that (...) while people think they are relativists, this may not always be the case. The explanations people gave were sometimes rated by outside (blind) coders as being objective, even when given a relativist response. Nonetheless, people remained meta-ethical pluralists. Why this might be is discussed. (shrink)
Skepticism about the epistemic value of intuition in theoretical and philosophical inquiry fueled by the empirical discovery of irrational bias (e.g., the order effect) in people's judgments has recently been challenged by research suggesting that people can introspectively track intuitional instability. The two studies reported here build upon this, the first by demonstrating that people are able to introspectively track instability that was experimentally induced by introducing conflicting expert opinion about certain cases, and the second by demonstrating that it was (...) the presence of instability?not merely the presence of conflicting information?that resulted in changes in the relevant attitudinal states (i.e., confidence and belief strength). The paper closes with the suggestion that perhaps the best explanation for these (and other) findings may be that intuitional instability is not actually ?intuitional.? (shrink)
Skepticism about the epistemic value of intuition in theoretical and philosophical inquiry has recently been bolstered by empirical research suggesting that people’s concrete-case intuitions are vulnerable to irrational biases (e.g., the order effect). What is more, skeptics argue that we have no way to ‘‘calibrate” our intuitions against these biases and no way of anticipating intuitional instability. This paper challenges the skeptical position, introducing data from two studies that suggest not only that people’s concrete-case intuitions are often stable, but also (...) that people have introspective awareness of this stability, providing a promising means by which to assess the epistemic value of our intuitions. (shrink)
We use the format of a hypothetical case study to review issues related to pharmaceutical product approval and physician prescribing practices. In this case, a new FDA-approved drug is recommended for a patient who subsequently experiences an adverse event that may or may not be related to the prescription. This case raises a number of ethical and legal considerations physicians routinely face when deciding whether to recommend such drugs for their patients. Despite the need for ongoing observation by the regulatory (...) apparatus, physicians should be cognizant of the limitations of the drug approval system and the post-approval prescription drug surveillance system. We discuss physicians’ ethical obligations when faced with a newly approved drug, including seeking out independent sources of learning, reporting adverse effects, and notifying patients about limitations in available knowledge about therapeutic recommendations. (shrink)
When education is jointly managed by a workplace and academia, causal mechanisms in the culture, structure and agency of these two contexts may unintentionally generate discourse that conveys conflicting messages for learners regarding some of the priorities of the profession. Using the concepts of culture, structure and agency as they are used in critical realism to analyse the discourse generated in two teaching and learning contexts (a radiography division in a university and a radiography workplace in a large state tertiary (...) academic hospital), this paper attempts (i) to identify possible causal mechanisms that generated discourse concerning the role and value of writing competency for radiographers, such that this discourse possibly influenced learners not to be motivated to improve their writing competency to their lecturers’ satisfaction; and (ii) to suggest what practices and influences might successfully generate an alternative emancipatory discourse. Drawing on Margaret Archer’s (1995) morphogenetic approach, the paper argues that the radiography lecturers have the primary agency to address this unsatisfactory situation, as it is through their interaction – both as a team and with other relevant stakeholders – that an alternative emancipatory discourse may be generated. (shrink)
"Dogmatism" is a term renovated by James Pryor  to stand for a certain kind of neo-Moorean response to Scepticism and an associated conception of the architecture of basic perceptual warrant. Pryor runs the response only for (some kinds of) perceptual knowledge but here I will be concerned with its general structure and potential as a possible global anti-sceptical strategy. Something like it is arguably also present in recent writings of Burge 1 and Peacocke.2 If the global strategy could succeed, (...) (...) it would pre-empt any role in the diagnosis and treatment of sceptical paradoxes for the kind of notion of entitlement (rational, non-evidential warrant) I have proposed elsewhere [Wright 2004]. But my overarching contention will be that Dogmatism is, generally and locally, too problematic a stance to be helpful in that project. (shrink)
The pain of rejection, the sweetness of revenge Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-12 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9794-2 Authors Crispin Wright, Department of Philosophy, New York University, 5 Washington Place, New York, NY, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Comment on Paul Boghossian, “The nature of inference” Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-11 DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9892-9 Authors Crispin Wright, New York University, New York, NY, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Preprint of Cole, Sacks, and Waterman. 2000. "On the immunity principle: A view from a robot." Trends in Cognitive Science 4 (5): 167, a response to Shaun Gallagher, S. 2000. "Philosophical conceptions of the self: implications for cognitive science," Trends in Cognitive Science 4 (1):14-21. Also see Shaun Gallagher, Reply to Cole, Sacks, and Waterman Trends in Cognitive Science 4, No. 5 (2000): 167-68.
In a majority of situations the normal adult maintains posture or moves without consciously monitoring motor activity. Posture and movement are usually close to automatic; they tend to take care of themselves, outside of attentive regard. One's body, in such cases, effaces itself as one is geared into a particular intentional goal. This effacement is possible because of the normal functioning of a body schema. Body schema can be defined as a system of preconscious, subpersonal processes that play a dynamic (...) role in governing posture and movement (Head, 1920). There is an important and often overlooked conceptual difference between the subpersonal body schema and what is usually called body image . The latter is most often defined as a conscious idea or mental representation that one has of one's own body (for example, Adame, Radell, Johnson, and Cole, 1991; Gardner and Moncrieff, 1988; Schilder, 1935). Despite the conceptual difference many researchers use the terms interchangeably, leading to both a terminological and conceptual confusion. (shrink)
Jerry Fodor, LOT 2: The Language of Thought Revisited , New York: Oxford University Press, 2008, x+228, $37.95, ISBN 978-0-119-954877-4 Content Type Journal Article Pages 439-443 DOI 10.1007/s11023-009-9164-4 Authors David Cole, University of Minnesota-Duluth Department of Philosophy 369 A B Anderson Hall Duluth MN 55812 USA Journal Minds and Machines Online ISSN 1572-8641 Print ISSN 0924-6495 Journal Volume Volume 19 Journal Issue Volume 19, Number 3.
[Crispin Wright] Two kinds of epistemological sceptical paradox are reviewed and a shared assumption, that warrant to accept a proposition has to be the same thing as having evidence for its truth, is noted. 'Entitlement', as used here, denotes a kind of rational warrant that counter-exemplifies that identification. The paper pursues the thought that there are various kinds of entitlement and explores the possibility that the sceptical paradoxes might receive a uniform solution if entitlement can be made to reach (...) sufficiently far. Three kinds of entitlement are characterised and given prima facie support, and a fourth is canvassed. Certain foreseeable limitations of the suggested anti-sceptical strategy are noted. The discussion is grounded, overall, in a conception of the sceptical paradoxes not as directly challenging our having any warrant for large classes of our beliefs but as crises of intellectual conscience for one who wants to claim that we do. /// [Martin Davies] Wright's account of sceptical arguments and his use of the idea of epistemic entitlement are reviewed. His notion of non-transmission of epistemic warrant is explained and a concern about his notion of entitlement is developed. An epistemological framework different from Wright's is described and several notions of entitlement are introduced. One of these, negative entitlement, is selected for more detailed comparison with Wright's notion. Thereafter, the paper shows how the two notions of entitlement have contrasting consequences for non-transmission of warrant and how they go naturally with two conceptions of the presuppositions of epistemic projects. Problems for negative entitlement are explained and solutions are proposed. (shrink)
Two and a half thousand years ago Greek philosophers "looked up at the sky and formed a theory of everything." Though their solutions are little credited today, the questions remain fresh. Early Greek thinkers struggled to come to terms with and explain the totality of their surroundings, to identitify an original substance from which the universe was compounded, and to reconcile the presence of balance and proportion with the apparent disorder of the cosmos. M. R. Wright examines cosmological theories (...) of the "natural philosophers" from Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes to Plato, the Stoics and the NeoPlatonists. The importance of Babylonian and Egyptian forerunners is also emphasized. Cosmology in Antiquity is a comprehensive introduction to the cosmological thought in ancient times. (shrink)
Abstract Can the wise person be fooled? The Stoics take a very strong view on this question, holding that the wise person (or sage) is never deceived and never believes anything that is false. This seems to be an implausibly strong claim, but it follows directly from some basic tenets of the Stoic cognitive and psychological world-view. In developing an account of what wisdom really requires, I will explore the tenets of the Stoic view that lead to this infallibilism about (...) wisdom, and show that many of the elements of the Stoic picture can be preserved in a more plausible fallibilist approach. Specifically, I propose to develop a Stoic fallibilist virtue epistemology that is based on the Stoic model of the moral virtues. This model of the intellectual virtues will show that (in keeping with a folk distinction) the wise person is never befooled, though that person might be fooled. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-14 DOI 10.1007/s12136-012-0158-0 Authors Sarah Wright, Department of Philosophy, University of Georgia, 107 Peabody Hall, Athens, GA 30602, USA Journal Acta Analytica Online ISSN 1874-6349 Print ISSN 0353-5150. (shrink)
Welcome to the world of cutting-edge math, physics, and neuroscience, where the search for the ultimate vacuum, the point of nothingness, ground zero of theory, has rendered the universe deep, rich, and juicy. "Modern physics has animated the void," says K. C. Cole in her entrancing journey into the heart of Nothing. Every time scientists and mathematicians think they have reached the ultimate void, new stuff appears: a black hole, an undulating string, an additional dimension of space or time, (...) repulsive anti-gravity, universes that breed like bunnies. Cole's exploration at the edge of everything is as animated and exciting as the void itself. Take Cole's hand on this adventure into the unknown, and you'll come back informed, amused, and excited. (shrink)
Do states have the right to prevent potential immigrants from crossing their borders, or should people have the freedom to migrate and settle wherever they wish? Christopher Heath Wellman and Phillip Cole develop and defend opposing answers to this timely and important question. Appealing to the right to freedom of association, Wellman contends that legitimate states have broad discretion to exclude potential immigrants, even those who desperately seek to enter. Against this, Cole argues that the commitment to the (...) moral equality of all human beings - which legitimate states can be expected to hold - means national borders must be open: equal respect requires equal access, both to territory and membership; and that the idea of open borders is less radical than it seems when we consider how many territorial and community boundaries have this open nature. In addition to engaging with each other's arguments, Wellman and Cole address a range of central questions and prominent positions on this topic. The authors therefore provide a critical overview of the major contributions to the ethics of migration, as well as developing original, provocative positions of their own. (shrink)
Bryan S. Turner: Can We Live Forever? A Social and Moral Inquiry Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 301-303 DOI 10.1007/s12376-009-0024-6 Authors Thomas R. Cole, University of Texas-Houston School of Medicine McGovern Center for Health, Humanities, and the Human Spirit Houston TX 77030 USA Journal Medicine Studies Online ISSN 1876-4541 Print ISSN 1876-4533 Journal Volume Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume 1, Number 3.
This is a 5 page summary with three diagrams of the main objectives and some work in progress at the University of Birmingham Cognition and Affect project. involving: Professor Glyn Humphreys (School of Psychology), and Luc Beaudoin, Chris Paterson, Tim Read, Edmund Shing, Ian Wright, Ahmed El-Shafei, and (from October 1994) Chris Complin (research students). The project is concerned with "global" design requirements for coping simultaneously with coexisting but possibly unrelated goals, desires, preferences, intentions, and other kinds of motivators, (...) all at different stages of processing. Our work builds on and extends seminal ideas of H.A.Simon (1967). We are exploring "broad and shallow" architectures combining varied capabilities most of which are not implemented in great depth. The poster summarises some ideas about management and meta-management processes, attention filtering, and the relevance to emotional states involved "perturbances", where there is partial loss of control of attention. (shrink)
The setting of relativistic ideas about truth in the general style of semantic-theoretic apparatus pioneered by Lewis, Kaplan and others has persuaded many that they should at least be taken seriously as competition in the space of explanatory linguistic theory, a type of view which properly formulated, may offer an at least coherent — and indeed, in the view of some, a superior —account of certain salient linguistic data manifest in, for example, discourse about epistemic modals, about knowledge and about (...) matters of taste and value, and may also offer the prospect of a coherent regimentation of the Aristotelian "Open Future" (along with, perhaps, the Dummettian ’anti-real’ past.) My main purpose here to enter a reminder of certain underlying philosophical issues about relativism — about its metaphysical coherence, its metasemantic obligations, and the apparent limitations of the kind of local linguistic evidence which contemporary proponents have adduced in its favour —of which there is a risk that its apparent rehabilitation in rigorous semantic dress may encourage neglect. (shrink)
This is a short, and therefore necessarily very incomplete discussion of one of the great questions of modern philosophy. I return to a station at which an interpretative train of thought of mine came to a halt in a paper written almost 20 years ago, about Wittgenstein and Chomsky, hoping to advance a little bit further down the track. The rule-following passages in the Investigations and Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics in fact raise a number of distinct (though connected) (...) issues about rules, meaning, objectivity, and reasons, whose conflation is encouraged by the standard caption, "the Rule-following Considerations". So, let me begin by explaining my focus here. (shrink)
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)
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)
What I am calling New Age Relativism is usually proposed as a thesis about the truth-conditions of utterances, where an utterance is an actual historic voicing or inscription of a sentence of a certain type. Roughly, it is the view that, for certain discourses, whether an utterance is true depends not just on the context of its making—when, where, to whom, by whom, in what language, and so on—and the “circumstances of evaluation”—the state of the world in relevant respects—but also (...) on an additional parameter: a context of assessment. Vary the latter and the truth-value of the utterance can vary, even though the context of its making and the associated state of the world remain fixed. (shrink)
Considerations of personal identity bear on John Searle's Chinese Room argument, and on the opposed position that a computer itself could really understand a natural language. In this paper I develop the notion of a virtual person, modelled on the concept of virtual machines familiar in computer science. I show how Searle's argument, and J. Maloney's attempt to defend it, fail. I conclude that Searle is correct in holding that no digital machine could understand language, but wrong in holding that (...) artificial minds are impossible: minds and persons are not the same as the machines, biological or electronic, that realize them. (shrink)
This paper argues that the form of explanation at issue in the hard problem of consciousness is scientifically irrelevant, despite appearances to the contrary. In particular, it is argued that the 'sense of understanding' that plays a critical role in the form of explanation implicated in the hard problem provides neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition on satisfactory scientific explanation. Considerations of the actual tools and methods available to scientists are used to make the case against it being a (...) necessary condition, and work by J.D. Trout that exploits psychological research on the hindsight and overconfidence biases is used to show that it is not a sufficient condition. It is argued, however, that certain intellectual and moral concerns give us good reason to still try to meet the hard problem's explanatory challenge, despite its extrascientific nature. (shrink)
In the Begriffschrift Frege drew no distinction—or anyway signalled no importance to the distinction—between quantifying into positions occupied by what he called eigennamen—singular terms—in a sentence and quantification into predicate position or, more generally, quantification into open sentences—into what remains of a sentence when one or more occurrences of singular terms are removed. He seems to have conceived of both alike as perfectly legitimate forms of generalisation, each properly belonging to logic. More accurately: he seems to have conceived of quantification (...) as such as an operation of pure logic, and in effect to have drawn no distinction between first-order, second-order and higherorder quantification in general. (shrink)
Formerly a spectral apparition that haunted behaviorism and provided a puzzle about our knowledge of other minds, the inverted spectrum possibility has emerged as an important challenge to functionalist accounts of qualia. The inverted spectrum hypothesis raises the possibility that two individuals might think and behave in the same way yet have different qualia. The traditional supposition is of an individual who has a subjective color spectrum that is inverted with regard to that had by other individuals. When he looks (...) at red objects, this individual has the qualia normally produced in others by blue objects. And when presented with a blue object, this individual experiences qualia that most persons experience only when presented with red objects. And so forth - the Invert's color spectrum is the inverse of normal; there are systematic inter-subjective differences in qualia. (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)
In view of the excellent arguments that have been put forth recently in favour of qualia, internal sensory presentations, it would strike an impartial observer - one could imagine a future historian of philosophy - as extremely odd why so many philosophers who are opposed to qualia, that is, sensory experiences internal to the brain, have largely ignored those arguments in their own. There has been a fashionable assumption that any theory of perception which espouses qualia has long since been (...) overcome by a number of 'formidable' objections, in particular, the Homunculus/Infinite Regress Objection, the Solipsism Objection, Austin's Illusion/Delusion Objection, the Ludicrousness-of-Colours-in-the-Brain Objection, the Indirect-Realist-has-to-assume-Direct-Realism Objection, the Impossibility-of-Comparing-Internal-with-External Objection, the Impossibility of Intrinsic Experience, and several more minor varieties of these. It is uncanny how they continue to be repeated, indeed, with a kind of automatism, evidenced by the fact that none of those who repeat them appear to have taken note of the answers to the objections. Indeed, they only appear to refer to those philosophers with whom they agree: it has long been insisted upon in the study of rhetoric that one of the weakest things to do in an argument is to ignore the main points made by one's opponent:
[it is] the wisest plan _to state Objections in their full force_ ; at least, wherever there does exist a satisfactory answer to them; otherwise, those who hear them stated more strongly than by the uncandid advocate who had undertaken to repel them, will naturally enough conclude that they are unanswerable. It is but a momentary and ineffective triumph that can be obtained by man. (shrink)
In giving an account of the content of perceptual experience, several authors, including Fred Dretske, Gareth Evans, Christopher Peacocke, and Michael Tye, have employed the notion of nonconceptual representational content..
"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)
This paper proposes a subjectivist approach to color within the framework of an externalist form of representationalism about phenomenal consciousness. Motivations are presented for accepting both representationalism and color subjectivism, and an argument is offered against the case made by Michael Tye on behalf of the claim that colors are objective, physical properties of objects. In the face of the considerable difficulties associated with finding a workable realist theory of color, the alternative account of color experience set out, projectivist representationalism, (...) claims that the color properties we encounter in experience exist only in the representational contents of our experiences. Color experiences are caused by the physical structure of objects, but objects are never actually colored and color experiences systematically misrepresent objects as colored. However, despite being an error theory of color, projectivist representationalism does not do violence to our everyday use and understanding of color concepts and terms, nor does it undermine the role of color experience in aiding the perceiving subject in navigating through the world. (shrink)
Functionalism, a philosophical theory, has empirical consequences. Functionalism predicts that where systematic transformations of sensory input occur and are followed by behavioral accommodation in which normal function of the organism is restored such that the causes and effects of the subject's psychological states return to those of the period prior to the transformation, there will be a return of qualia or subjective experiences to those present prior to the transform. A transformation of this type that has long been of philosophical (...) interest is the possibility of an inverted spectrum. Hilary Putnam argues that the physical possibility of acquired spectrum inversion refutes functionalism. I argue, however, that in the absence of empirical results no a priori arguments against functionalism, such as Putnam's, can be cogent. I sketch an experimental situation which would produce acquired spectrum inversion. The mere existence of qualia inversion would constitute no refutation of functionalism; only its persistence after behavioral accommodation to the inversion would properly count against functionalism. The cumulative empirical evidence from experiments on image inversion suggests that the results of actual spectrum inversion would confirm rather than refute functionalism. (shrink)
There is now a widespread accord among philosophers that the vagueness of natural language gives rise to some particularly deep and perplexing problems and paradoxes. It was not always so. For most of the first century of analytical philosophy, vagueness was generally regarded as a marginal, slightly irritating phenomenon, —receiving some attention, to be sure, in parts of the Philosophical Investigations and in the amateur linguistics enjoyed by philosophers in Oxford in the 1950s, but best idealised away in any serious (...) theoretical treatment of meaning, understanding and valid inference. Frege, as is well known, had come to be thoroughly mistrustful of vagueness, supposing that a language fit for the purpose of articulating scientific and mathematical knowledge would have to be purified of it. Later trends in philosophical logic and semantics followed his lead, not indeed in setting about the (futile) task of expurgating vagueness from natural language but by largely restricting theoretical attention to artificial languages in whose workings vagueness was assigned no role. (shrink)
Dretske’s Naturalizing the Mind sets out the case for holding that mental states in general are natural representers of reality. Mental states have functions; for many states the function is to indicate what is going on in the world. Among such indicator states are beliefs. The content of these states is given by what they are supposed to represent. So if a state is supposed to indicate that it’s dark, then “it’s dark” is the content of the state. Thus we (...) can characterize how the organism takes things to be, its subjectivity, by noting first what physical (neural) state it is in, and second what the biological indicator function of that state is. Thus the mind and meaning are naturalized. (shrink)
In “Double Vision Two Questions about the Neo-Fregean Programme”, John MacFarlane’s raises two main questions: (1) Why is it so important to neo-Fregeans to treat expressions of the form ‘the number of Fs’ as a species of singular term? What would be lost, if anything, if they were analysed instead as a type of quantifier-phrase, as on Russell’s Theory of Definite Descriptions? and (2) Granting—at least for the sake of argument—that Hume’s Principle may be used as a means of implicitly (...) defining the number operator, what advantage, if any, does adopting this course possess over a direct stipulation of the Dedekind-Peano axioms? This paper attempts to answer them. In response to the first, we spell out the links between the recognition of numerical terms as vehicles of singular reference and the conception of numbers as possible objects of singular, or object-directed, thought, and the role of the acknowledgement of numbers as objects in the neo-Fregean attempt to justify the basic laws of arithmetic. In response to the second, we argue that the crucial issue concerns the capacity of either stipulation—of Hume’s Principle, or of the Dedekind-Peano axioms—to found knowledge of the principles involved, and that in this regard there are crucial differences which explain why the former stipulation can, but the latter cannot, play the required foundational role. (shrink)
Stephen Pinker sets out over a dozen arguments in The language instinct (Morrow, New York, 1994) for his widely shared view that natural language is inadequate as a medium for thought. Thus he argues we must suppose that the primary medium of thought and inference is an innate propositional representation system, mentalese. I reply to the various arguments and so defend the view that some thought essentially involves natural language. I argue mentalese doesn't solve any of the problems Pinker cites (...) for the view that we think in natural language. So I don't think I think the way he thinks I think. (shrink)
In the face of pluralism, moral constructivists attempt to salvage cognitivism by separating moral and ethical issues. Divergence over ethical issues, which concern the good life, would not threaten moral cognitivism, which is based on identifying generalizable interests as worthy of defending, using reason. Yet this approach falters given the inability of the constructivist to provide us a sure path by which to discern generalizable interests in difficult cases. Still, even if this approach to constructivism fails, cognitivist aspirations may not (...) be defeated if we can continue discursively in a project of identifying and appreciating the interests of others. Grasping the interests of others may require a transformation of moral sensibility such that agents recognize values they have not acknowledged before. This view calls for external moral discourse—that is, moral discourse that makes no appeal to an agent's present interests or desires but rather engages in description of the moral situation in hopes of bringing about a change in moral sensibility. (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)
A sensory receptor, in any organism anywhere, is sensitive through time to some distribution - energy, motion, molecular shape - indeed, anything that can produce an effect. The sensitivity is rarely direct: for example, it may track changes in relative variation rather than the absolute change of state (as when the skin responds to colder and hotter instead of to cold and hot as such); it may track differing variations under different conditions (the eyes' dark-adaptation; adaptation to sound frequencies can (...) lower the difference threshold; the kinesthetic sense will shut down if a limb is held in a stationary position too long - the limb 'going to sleep'); it may be subject to distortion of the input from overloading (dazzle producing strong-after-images); it may not be confined to one channel of sensitivity (the retina is sensitive to pressure; the hands can feel some strong sound-vibrations, the tympanum of the ear records touch). Strictly speaking there is no limit as to what intensities and what ranges receptors could be sensitive. Sharks are sensitive to electrostatic fields, homing pigeons to magnetic fields; snakes to infra-red rays; bacteria to acid concentrations; perhaps there has even been a mutant organism sensitive to the passage of cosmic rays, even though that would hardly have bestowed any conceivable survival value. What is irrefutable is that individual receptors differ markedly from organism to organism, between different members of the species (one dog being better at tracing smells than another; one person being able to sense light-waves of 375 nanometres, another not; children able to hear 20,000 Hz, older persons not), and between receptors of the same kind within one organism (one eye being sensitive to 765 nm and the other not; one ear deaf to 15,000 Hz and over, the other not). There are also just-noticeable-differences (JND's), in that one person can see two shades of a colour where another sees only one; similarly with sounds. (shrink)
"Mantras were not viewed as the only means of expressing truth, however. Thought, which was defined as internalized speech, offered yet another aspect of truth. And if words and thoughts designated different aspects of truth, or reality, then there had to be an underlying unity behind all phenomena" (S. A. Nigosian 1994: World Faiths, p. 84).
The Way of Ideas died an ignoble death, committed to the flames by behaviorist empiricists. Ideas, pictures in the head, perished with the Way. By the time those empiricists were supplanted at the helm by functionalists and causal theorists, a revolution had taken place in linguistics and the last thing anyone wanted to do was revive images as the medium of thought. Currently, some but not all cognitive scientists think that there probably are mental images - experiments in cognitive psychology (...) (e.g. Shepard and Metzler 1971) have shown it to be plausible to posit mental images. Even so, the phenomenon of mental imagery has been largely regarded as peripheral in cognition, perhaps even epiphenomenal. Images cannot fix the content of thought (intentions, rules), the Wittgenstein story went. The central processes of thought, so the post-Wittgenstein story goes, require a propositional representation system, a language of thought, universal and modeled on the machine languages of computers. The language of thought is compositional, productive, and, leading advocates argue, has a causal semantics. Images lack all of these essential qualities and so are hopeless as key players in thinking. (shrink)
In Book II of the _Essay_, at the beginning of his discussion of language in Chapter II ("Of the Signification of Words"), John Locke writes that we humans have a variety of thoughts which might profit others, but that unfortunately these thoughts lie invisible and hidden from others. And so we use language to communicate these thoughts. As a result, "words, in their primary or immediate signification,stand for nothing but _the ideas in the mind of him that uses them_.
It is the purpose of this article to explicate the logical implications of a television analogy for perception, first suggested by John R. Smythies (1956). It aims to show not only that one cannot escape the postulation of qualia that have an evolutionary purpose not accounted for within a strong functionalist theory, but also that it undermines other anti-representationalist arguments as well as some representationalist ones.
This paper develops and draws the consequences of an etiological analysis of goal-directedness modeled on one that functions centrally in Charles Taylor's work on action. The author first presents, criticizes, and modifies Taylor's formulation, and then shows his modified formulation accounts easily for much of the fine-structure of teleological concepts and conceptualizations. Throughout, the author is at pains to show that teleological explanations are orthodox from an empiricist's point of view: they require nothing novel methodologically.
This is a multi-disciplinary exploration of the history of understanding of the human mind or soul and its relationship to the body, through the course of more than two thousand years. Thirteen specially commissioned chapters, each written by a recognized expert, discuss such figures as the doctors Hippocrates and Galen, the theologians St Paul, Augustine, and Aquinas, and philosophers from Plato to Leibniz.
Studies of perception have focussed on sensation, though more recently the perception of action has, once more, become the subject of investigation. These studies have looked at acute experimental situations. The present paper discusses the subjective experience of those with either clinical syndromes of loss of movement or sensation (spinal cord injury, sensory neuronopathy syndrome or motor stroke), or with experimental paralysis or sensory loss. The differing phenomenology of these is explored and their effects on intention and agency discussed. It (...) is shown that sensory loss can have effects on the focussing of motor command and that for some a sense of agency can return despite paralysis. (shrink)
Surely one of the most interesting problems in the study of mind concerns the nature of sentience. How is it that there are sensations, rather than merely sensings? What is it like to be a bat -- or why is it like anything at all? Why aren't we automata or responding but unfeeling Zombies? How does neural activity give rise to subjective experience? As Leibniz put the problem (Monadology section 17):
_It must be confessed, however, that Perception_ [consciousness?]_, and (...) that which depends upon it, are_ _inexplicable by mechanical means, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a_ _machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perceptions, we could conceive of it as increased_ _in its interior size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a_ _mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find_
_anything to explain Perception._ [Montgomery trans.]. (shrink)
Lucas and Penrose have contended that, by displaying how any characterisation of arithmetical proof programmable into a machine allows of diagonalisation, generating a humanly recognisable proof which eludes that characterisation, Gödel's incompleteness theorem rules out any purely mechanical model of the human intellect. The main criticisms of this argument have been that the proof generated by diagonalisation (i) will not be humanly recognisable unless humans can grasp the specification of the object-system (Benacerraf); and (ii) counts as a proof only on (...) the (unproven) hypothesis that the object system is consistent (Putnam). The present paper argues that criticism (ii) may be met head-on by an intuitionistic proponent of the anti-mechanist argument; and that criticism (i) is simply mistaken. However the paper concludes by questioning the sufficiency of the situation for an interesting anti-mechanist conclusion. (shrink)
thought and problem solving in persons lacking natural language altogether would be a decisive challenge, but there is no clear evidence of any abstract thinking capabilities similar to those evinced by the scientists. Pinker cites languageless persons rebuilding broken locks - this is evidence of perhaps visual imagery, but not mentalese (at least not without quite a bit more detail and argument than we are given). Spiders, e.g., build marvelous things, but no inference to spiderese appears to be warranted. There (...) simply is much we don. (shrink)
Consider the much-discussed case of the distracted driver, who is alleged to successfully navigate his car for miles despite being completely oblivious to his visual states. Perhaps he is deeply engrossed in the music playing over the radio or in philosophical reflection, and as a result he goes about unaware of the scene unfolding before him on the road. That the distracted driver has visual experiences of which he is not aware is a possibility that first-order representationalists (FOR) happily accept, (...) but higher-order representationalists (HOR) steadfastly deny. HOR claims that perceptual states become conscious only as the object of higher-order states; perceptual states are not intrinsically conscious. According to HOR, since the driver is supposed to be completely distracted by other cognitive tasks, he cannot form higher-order representations of his visual states, with the result that those states are disqualified as experiences.1 HOR theories have come in two flavors, those that claim that the relevant higher-order representations are thought-like (HOT) and those that that rely on an inner perception-like mechanism that is directed toward one. (shrink)
This paper examines the status of unattended visual stimuli in the light of recent work on the role of attention in visual perception. Although the question of whether attention is required for visual experience seems very interesting, this paper argues that there currently is no good reason to take a stand on the issue. Moreover, it is argued that much of the allure of that question stems from a continued attachment to the defective ‘inner picture view’ of experience and a (...) mistaken notion that the ultimate goal of vision is to produce visual experience. The paper considers a promising general account of the content and structure of vision and presents reasons for not taking that account to be committed to any substantive claims about the experiential status of unattended visual stimuli. Also addressed are the active nature of vision and the role of vision in enabling our ecological success. These considerations highlight that visual experience is not the whole of vision and that a much more important question about unattended visual stimuli than whether they are consciously experienced is what contribution they make to how we interact with the world. (shrink)
This volume contains an array of essays that reflect, and reflect upon, the recent revival of scholarly interest in the self and consciousness. Various relevant issues are addressed in conceptually challenging ways, such as how consciousness and different forms of self-relevant experience develop in infancy and childhood and are related to the acquisition of skill; the role of the self in social development; the phenomenology of being conscious and its metapsychological implications; and the cultural foundations of conceptualizations of consciousness. Written (...) by notable scholars in several areas of psychology, philosophy, cognitive neuroscience, and anthropology, the essays are of interest to readers from a variety of disciplines concerned with central, substantive questions in contemporary social science, and the humanities. (shrink)