Seneca was a man of many facets: statesman, dramatist, philosopher, prose stylist. His life was marked by extremes of fortune - extremes that are reflected in much of his writing, and in the vicissitudes of his reputation in later centuries. This volume brings together some outstanding essays written about him over the past four decades, and illustrates the diversity of approaches by which modern critics have attempted to understand this multifaceted figure. Just as Seneca's writings often reflect his times, so (...) current critical approaches often reflect issues in contemporary thought and society. Several of the essays have been revised by their authors for this volume, and two of them are translated for the first time. A new introduction places the articles within the context of recent academic thought and criticism. All Latin has been translated. (shrink)
I will focus on what seems to be a problem for Kripke’s position with respect to certain necessary a posteriori truths and true negative existentials. I shall tentatively suggest that within Kripke’s work a solution to the problem in question can be found provided one is willing to distinguish statements from propositions.
A number of authors have noted that the key steps in Fitch’s argument are not intuitionistically valid, and some have proposed this as a reason for an anti-realist to accept intuitionistic logic (e.g. Williamson 1982, 1988). This line of reasoning rests upon two assumptions. The first is that the premises of Fitch’s argument make sense from an anti-realist point of view – and in particular, that an anti-realist can and should maintain the principle that all truths are knowable. (...) The second is that we have some independent reason for thinking that classical logic is not appropriate in this area. This paper explores these two assumptions in the context of Michael Dummett’s version of anti-realism, with particular reference to the argument from indefinite extensibility developed at various points in Dummett’s writings (e.g. Dummett 1991 Ch. 24). -/- Dummett argues that certain concepts, the indefinitely extensible concepts, are such that we cannot form a clear and determinate conception of all the objects that fall under them. The most familiar examples of indefinitely extensible concepts are mathematical. Dummett discusses the concepts ordinal number, real number, and natural number, which are indefinitely extensible because any conception that one might form of their complete extension can be extended to a more inclusive conception (as, for example, in Cantor’s proof of the non-denumerability of the set of real numbers). This paper argues that the concept of a truth is indefinitely extensible. This gives a Dummettian anti-realist an independent motivation for rejecting the classical understanding of the quantifiers in this area. At the same time, however, it places in doubt the admissibility of the knowability principle, which seems to involve quantification over the “totality” of truths. As Dummett is at pains to point out (1991: 316), some sentences that purport to quantify over the extension of an indefinitely extensible concept plainly have a truth-value (we can truly say, for example, that every ordinal number has a successor, even though when we say that we are not quantifying over the set of all ordinals). But is the knowability principle one of these sentences? (shrink)
Reminiscences of Peter, by P. Oppenheim.--Natural kinds, by W. V. Quine.--Inductive independence and the paradoxes of confirmation, by J. Hintikka.--Partial entailment as a basis for inductive logic, by W. C. Salmon.--Are there non-deductive logics?, by W. Sellars.--Statistical explanation vs. statistical inference, by R. C. Jeffre--Newcomb's problem and two principles of choice, by R. Nozick.--The meaning of time, by A. Grünbaum.--Lawfulness as mind-dependent, by N. Rescher.--Events and their descriptions: some considerations, by J. Kim.--The individuation of events, by D. Davidson.--On properties, by (...) H. Putnam.--A method for avoiding the Curry paradox, by F. B. Fitch.--Publications (1934-1969) by Carl G. Hempel (p. -270). (shrink)
Some of the most interesting recent work in philosophy of language and metaphysics is focused on questions about propositions, the abstract, truth-bearing contents of sentences and beliefs. The aim of this guide is to give instructors and students a road map for some significant work on propositions since the mid-1990s. This work falls roughly into two areas: challenges to the existence of propositions and theories about the nature and structure of propositions. The former includes both a widely discussed puzzle about (...) propositional designators as well as direct and indirect arguments against the existence of propositions. The latter is dominated by what is currently the central debate about the metaphysics of propositions, i.e. whether they are structured, composite entities or unstructured ontological simples. This issue has eclipsed older debates about whether propositions can be identified with sets of possible worlds or other kinds of sentence intensions. Author Recommends 1. Soames, Scott. 'Direct Reference, Propositional Attitudes, and Semantic Content.' Philosophical Topics 15 (1987): 47–87. Reprinted in Propositions and Attitudes . Eds. N. Salmon and S. Soames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. 197–239. Essential groundwork for more recent work on propositions. Soames gives a careful and exacting presentation of the case against identifying propositions with sets of possible worlds or other truth-supporting circumstances. Also contains a detailed statement of the Russellian conception of propositions on which propositions are ordered sets of objects, properties and relations. 2. King, Jeffrey. 'Designating Propositions.' The Philosophical Review 111 (2002): 341–71. Sometimes substituting a definite description for a corresponding 'that'-clause can lead to bizarre changes in truth-conditions: compare 'Bill fears that Hillary will be president' with 'Bill fears the proposition that Hillary will be president'. This puzzle about propositional designators threatens the relational analysis of propositional attitude reports, the view that 'believes' expresses a relation to the proposition designated by its 'that'-clause, and thereby poses an indirect threat to the existence of propositions. King's solution posits an ambiguity in verbs like 'fear' that embed both 'that'-clauses and definite descriptions. 3. Jubien, Michael. 'Propositions and the Objects of Thought.' Philosophical Studies 104 (2001): 47–62. A direct attack on the existence of propositions. Jubien deploys an analogue of the problem that Paul Benacerraf raised for set-theoretical reductions of numbers against metaphysical reductions of propositions. Just as numbers can be reduced to sets in many different ways, any reduction of propositions brings with it equally good variants, thus making any such reduction arbitrary and unmotivated. The only alternative is to treat propositions as abstract metaphysical primitives. As Jubien argues, however, abstract primitive entities are incapable of doing what propositions must do, i.e. represent objects and states of affairs on their own, without the input of thinking subjects. The upshot is the propositions cannot be reduced and they cannot be primitive, and so they must not exist. 4. Hanks, Peter. 'How Wittgenstein Defeated Russell's Multiple Relation Theory of Judgment.' Synthese 154 (2007): 121–46. Scepticism about propositions has recently led some philosophers, Jubien included, to resuscitate Russell's multiple relation theory of judgment, the idea that judgment is a many-place relation to objects, properties and relations. This paper explains why Russell himself abandoned that theory, and why the theory is still refuted by an objection due to Wittgenstein. 5. Hofweber, Thomas. 'Inexpressible Properties and Propositions.' Oxford Studies in Metaphysics . 2 vols. Ed. D. Zimmerman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 155–206. An indirect attack on the existence of propositions. Hofweber argues that sentences like 'Bill believes something that Hillary asserted' do not commit us to the existence of propositions. His view is that propositional quantification is an instance of what he calls 'internal' or 'inferential role' quantification, a kind of quantification that carries no ontological implications. 6. Schiffer, Stephen. The Things We Mean . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. esp. chs 1–2. Schiffer defends his theory of pleonastic propositions, on which propositions are unstructured, have no parts, and are very finely grained. 7. Bealer, George. 'Propositions.' Mind 107 (1998): 1–32. Bealer defends his algebraic theory of propositions, which, like Schiffer's pleonastic account, treats propositions as unstructured metaphysical simples. 8. King, Jeffrey. The Nature of and Structure of Content . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. The best developed current theory of the structure in structured propositions. King identifies propositions with certain kinds of facts in which objects, properties and relations are bound together by amalgams of syntactic and semantic relations. 9. Hanks, Peter. 'Recent Work on Propositions.' Philosophy Compass 4 (2009): 1–18. A survey of work on propositions since the mid-1990s that complements this teaching and learning guide. Contains responses to Jubien's and Hofweber's arguments against propositions and critical discussions of Schiffer's pleonastic propositions and King's theory of propositional structure. Online Resources 1. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions/ Propositions (Matthew McGrath) 2. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions-structured/ Structured Propositions (Jeffrey King) 3. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions-singular/ Singular Propositions (Greg Fitch) Sample Partial Syllabus The following partial syllabus can be used as a unit on recent work on propositions in graduate level courses in philosophy of language or metaphysics. Week 1: A Substitution Puzzle About Propositional Designators King, Jeffrey. 'Designating Propositions'. Moltmann, Friederike. 'Propositional Attitudes Without Propositions.' Synthese 135 (2003): 77–118. Week 2: The Benacerraf Problem and Propositional Representation Benacerraf, Paul. 'What Numbers Could Not Be.' Philosophical Review 74 (1965): 47–73. Jubien, Michael. 'Propositions and the Objects of Thought.' Week 3: Propositional Quantification Hofweber, Thomas. 'Inexpressible Properties and Propositions'. Hofweber, Thomas. 'A Puzzle about Ontology.' Noûs 39 (2005): 256–83. Week 4: Schiffer on Pleonastic Propositions Schiffer, Stephen. 'Language-Created Language-Independent Entities.' Philosophical Topics 24 (1996): 149–67. Schiffer, Stephen. The Things We Mean , chs 1–2. Week 5: King on Structured Propositions King, Jeffrey. 'Structured Propositions and Complex Predicates.' Noûs , 29 (1995): 516–35. King, Jeffrey. The Nature and Structure of Content , chs 1–3. Focus Questions 1. Why does identifying propositions with sentence intensions, e.g. sets of possible worlds, 'require the attitudes to have a particular sort of closure under logical consequence, which they clearly don't have' (Mark Richard)? 2. How does the difference between (a) and (b) pose a threat to the existence of propositions? (a) Bill fears that Hillary will be president. (b) Bill fears the proposition that Hillary will be president. 3. What is the Benacerraf problem for metaphysical reductions of propositions? 4. Why must a proposition represent 'on its own cuff' (Michael Jubien)? Why is this a problem for the view that propositions are primitive abstract entities? 5. What does it mean to say that propositions are structured ? Give two different accounts of what propositional structure might be. (shrink)
Church and Fitch have argued that from the verificationationist thesis “for every proposition, if this proposition is true, then it is possible to know it” we can derive that for every truth there is someone who knows that truth. Moreover, Humberstone has shown that from the latter proposition we can derive that someone knows every truth, hence that there is an omniscient being. In his article “Omnificence”, John Bigelow adapted these arguments in order to argue that from the (...) assumption "every contingent proposition is such that if it is true something brought it about that it is true" we can derive that there is an omnificent being: a being that brings it about that every true contingent proposition is true. In my reply to his article, I show that Bigelow’s argument is flawed because there is some formal property that the knowledge operator has but that the bringing about operator lacks. This is the property of distributing over conjunctions. I explain why what brings it about that some conjunctive proposition is true need not bring it about that its conjuncts are true. (shrink)
We examine the question of which aspects of language are uniquely human and uniquely linguistic in light of recent suggestions by Hauser, Chomsky, and Fitch that the only such aspect is syntactic recursion, the rest of language being either speciﬁc to humans but not to language (e.g. words and concepts) or not speciﬁc to humans (e.g. speech perception). We ﬁnd the hypothesis problematic. It ignores the many aspects of grammar that are not recursive, such as phonology, morphology, case, agreement, (...) and many properties of words. It is inconsistent with the anatomy and neural control of the human vocal tract. And it is weakened by experiments suggesting that speech perception cannot be reduced to primate audition, that word learning cannot be reduced to fact learning, and that at least one gene involved in speech and language was evolutionarily selected in the human lineage but is not speciﬁc to recursion. The recursion-only claim, we suggest, is motivated by Chomsky’s recent approach to syntax, the Minimalist Program, which de-emphasizes the same aspects of language. The approach, however, is sufﬁciently problematic that it cannot be used to support claims about evolution. We contest related arguments that language is not an adaptation, namely that it is “perfect,” non-redundant, unusable in any partial form, and badly designed for.. (shrink)
The so-called knowability paradox results from Fitch's argument that if there are any unknown truths, then there are unknowable truths. This threatens recent versions of semantical antirealism, the central thesis of which is that truth is epistemic. When this is taken to mean that all truths are knowable, antirealism is thus committed to the conclusion that no truths are unknown. The correct antirealistic response to the paradox should be to deny that the fundamental thesis of the epistemic nature of (...) truth entails the knowability of all truths. Correctly understood, the antirealistic conditions on a proposition's truth do not require that the proposition possess a verification-procedure which, when executed under the given conditions, issues in an agent's recognition of truth, but merely that there be a verification-procedure which, under these conditions, takes the value true . The knowability paradox and the related idealism problem (that antirealism seems, but is not, committed to the necessary existence of an epistemic agent) draw attention to the fact that certain propositions, those that are about verification-procedures themselves, may under certain conditions take the value true despite their unperformability under these circumstances. Thus these propositions' procedures can only be performed when the propositions are false, and they gain the appearance of antirealistic impossibility (e.g., that there is an unknown truth). This differs from the unperformability that antirealists object to, pertaining merely to matters of execution rather than to the logical structure of the procedures themselves. The force of antirealism's notion of epistemic truth is piecemeal, rather than consisting in a blanket characterization of truth as knowable. (shrink)
We examine the question of which aspects of language are uniquely human and uniquely linguistic in light of recent suggestions by Hauser, Chomsky, and Fitch that the only such aspect is syntactic recursion, the rest of language being either specific to humans but not to language (e.g. words and concepts) or not specific to humans (e.g. speech perception). We find the hypothesis problematic. It ignores the many aspects of grammar that are not recursive, such as phonology, morphology, case, agreement, (...) and many properties of words. It is inconsistent with the anatomy and neural control of the human vocal tract. And it is weakened by experiments suggesting that speech perception cannot be reduced to primate audition, that word learning cannot be reduced to fact learning, and that at least one gene involved in speech and language was evolutionarily selected in the human lineage but is not specific to recursion. The recursion-only claim, we suggest, is motivated by Chomsky’s recent approach to syntax, the Minimalist Program, which de-emphasizes the same aspects of language. The approach, however, is sufficiently problematic that it cannot be used to support claims about evolution. We contest related arguments that language is not an adaptation, namely that it is “perfect,” non-redundant, unusable in any partial form, and badly designed for.. (shrink)
The following two theses constitute the theoretical core of all epistemic conceptions of truth: (1) The concept of truth can be explicated in epistemic terms (e.g. in terms of justified assertability under ideal epistemic conditions, ideal coherence, ideal consensus etc.). (2) The assumption that there could be truths which cannot, in principle, be known to be true is false or even absurd. The book scrutinizes theses (1) and (2). It contains discussions of the truth-theoretical approaches of Peirce, Putnam, Dummett, C. (...) Wright, Apel, Habermas and others, offers an account of the speech act of assertion, a critique of deflationism about truth, an analysis of the concept of fallibility and a discussion of Fitch's paradox of knowability. Im Zentrum epistemischer Wahrheitskonzeptionen stehen die folgenden beiden Thesen: (1) Der Wahrheitsbegriff kann durch epistemische Konzepte idealer Begründbarkeit, Behauptbarkeit, Kohärenz oder Konsensfähigkeit expliziert werden. (2) Die Annahme, es könnte wahre Aussagen geben, die prinzipiell nicht als wahr erkennbar oder doch begründbar sind, ist falsch oder sogar sinnlos. "Wahrheit, Begründbarkeit und Fallibilität" unterzieht diese Thesen einer kritischen Prüfung. Neben der Diskussion wahrheitstheoretischer Ansätze von Peirce, Putnam, Wright, Apel und anderen enthält dieses Buch eine Bestimmung der normativen Relevanz des Wahrheitsbegriffs für Behauptungshandlungen, eine Kritik des Deflationismus, eine Analyse des Konzepts der Fallibilität sowie eine Diskussion des Paradox of Knowability. (shrink)
That there is an edge at all is, of course, philosophically controversial; it would be denied by anti-realists of a veriﬁcationist stripe. However, we accept, since G¨odel, that there are true propositions of elementary arithmetic that are unprovable in arithmetic; just so, we should accept—by analogy—that there are true statements that are unknowable. An argument called the Fitch Argument tells us that it is so. Williamson has long argued that the Fitch Argument cannot by itself refute antirealism—because the (...) anti-realist is already committed to the denial of some of the principles of classical logic required to derive the anti-realist conclusion. The point is well made.1 In Knowledge and its Limits, however, Williamson looks at what the Fitch argument tells us if we adhere to classical logic: and that is that there are unknowable truths. (shrink)
Fitch & Denenberg provide excellent evidence for the existence of dynamically complex interactions between the structural and functional development of the nervous system. They are to be congratulated for showing how subtle social variables (e.g., handling) may not only influence hormonal “cascade effects” on the developing nervous system, but may also alter the structure of brain tissue, such as the corpus callosum.