Roderick Chisholm contrasts semantic theories that presuppose “the primacy of the intentional” with those that presuppose “the primacy of the linguistic”. In The First Person he attempts to develop an analysis of first person singular reference that presupposes the primacy of the intentional. In this paper I attempt to develop a semantics of first person singular reference (what I call ‘I-reference’) that presupposes the primacy of the linguistic. I do three things in the paper. First, I criticize Chisholm’s (and Frege’s) (...) account. Second, I attempt to answer the general criticism that is commonly leveled against an analysis of ‘I’ that presupposes the primacy of the linguistic. Third and finally, building upon insights of David Kaplan, I present an interpretation of meaning-rule under which ‘I’ operates in its first person use. (shrink)
Philosophical logicians proposing theories of rational belief revision have had little to say about whether their proposals assist or impede the agent's ability to reliably arrive at the truth as his beliefs change through time. On the other hand, reliability is the central concern of formal learning theory. In this paper we investigate the belief revision theory of Alchourron, Gardenfors and Makinson from a learning theoretic point of view.
We argue that uncomputability and classical scepticism are both re ections of inductive underdetermination, so that Church's thesis and Hume's problem ought to receive equal emphasis in a balanced approach to the philosophy of induction. As an illustration of such an approach, we investigate how uncomputable the predictions of a hypothesis can be if the hypothesis is to be reliably investigated by a computable scienti c method.
Through discussion of phenomenological and analytic traditions such as the philosophical problems of perceptual content, the content of demonstrative thoughts and the unity of proposition, Kelly explains that these concepts are not as alien to one another as most people believe.
Although philosophers have characteristically taken the view that art is a vehicle of some universal meaning or truth, art historians emphasize the concrete, historical location of the individual work of art. Is aesthetics capable of sustaining these two approaches? Or, as Michael Kelly argues: Is art actually determined by its historical particularity? His book covers the views of four philosophers--Heidegger, Adorno, Derrida, and Danto--ultimately iconoclasts, despite their significant philosophical engagement with the arts.
Fitz-Herbert, John; Kelly, Gerard The 'pastoral care of the sick' is one of the important responses to the gospel that occurs in almost every parish. Faithful Sunday parishioners visit other parishioners week-in and week-out. They put into deed the concern of the believing community for the one who is unable to gather with the Sunday community for eucharist. They bring holy communion as well as friendship and their pastoral concern to the person being visited. Sometimes it happens that this (...) may be the only visitor the one who is housebound welcomes into their home during the week. A truly terrifying thought in this age that proclaims to value connectedness and being linked into one or more networks! (shrink)
Drawing extensively on Bentham's unpublished civil and distributive law writings, classical and recent Bentham scholarship, and contemporary work in moral and political philosophy, Kelly here presents the first full-length exposition and sympathetic defense of Bentham's unique utilitarian theory of justice. Kelly shows how Bentham developed a moderate welfare-state liberal theory of justice with egalitarian leanings, the aim of which was to secure the material and political conditions of each citizen's pursuit of the good life in cooperation with each (...) other. A striking and original addition to the growing literature on Bentham's legal and political thought, this incisive study also makes a valuable contribution to contemporary political philosophy. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to develop and defend a novel answer to a question that has recently generated a considerable amount of controversy. The question concerns the normative significance of peer disagreement. Suppose that you and I have been exposed to the same evidence and arguments that bear on some proposition: there is no relevant consideration which is available to you but not to me, or vice versa. For the sake of concreteness, we might picture.
Looking back on it, it seems almost incredible that so many equally educated, equally sincere compatriots and contemporaries, all drawing from the same limited stock of evidence, should have reached so many totally different conclusions---and always with complete certainty.
Suppose that you and I disagree about some non-straightforward matter of fact (say, about whether capital punishment tends to have a deterrent effect on crime). Psychologists have demonstrated the following striking phenomenon: if you and I are subsequently exposed to a mixed body of evidence that bears on the question, doing so tends to increase the extent of our initial disagreement. That is, in response to exactly the same evidence, each of us grows increasingly confident of his or her original (...) view; we thus become increasingly polarized as our common evidence increases. I consider several alternative models of how people reason about newly-acquired evidence which seems to disconfirm their prior beliefs. I then explore the normative implications of these models for the phenomenon in question. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore the relationship between epistemic rationality and instrumental rationality, and I attempt to delineate their respective roles in typical instances of theoretical reasoning. My primary concern is with the instrumentalist conception of epistemic rationality: the view that epistemic rationality is simply a species of instrumental rationality, viz. instrumental rationality in the service of one's cognitive or epistemic goals. After sketching the relevance of the instrumentalist conception to debates over naturalism and 'the ethics of belief', I argue (...) that, despite enjoying considerable popularity among both epistemologists and philosophers of science, it is ultimately indefensible. Having thus argued for the distinctness of epistemic and instrumental rationality, I attempt to clarify the role played by each in typical instances of theoretical reasoning. I suggest that being theoretically rational--that is, being proficient with respect to theoretical reasoning--is best construed as a hybrid virtue, inasmuch as it involves manifesting sensitivity to two very different kinds of reasons. (shrink)
The passage above comes from the opening pages of Merleau-Ponty’s essay on Edmund Husserl. It proposes a risky interpretive principle. The main feature of this principle is that the seminal aspects of a thinker’s work are so close to him that he is incapable of articulating them himself. Nevertheless, these aspects pervade the work, give it its style, its sense and its direction, and therefore belong to it essentially. As Martin Heidegger writes, in a passage quoted by Merleau-Ponty:
The (...) greater the work of a thinker – which in no way coincides with the breadth and number of writings – the richer is what is un-thought in this work, which means, that which emerges in and through this work as having not yet been thought.2
The goal of Merleau-Ponty’s essay, he says, is “to evoke this un-thought-of element in Husserl’s thought”.3. (shrink)
There you are at the opera house. The soprano has just hit her high note – a glassshattering high C that fills the hall – and she holds it. She holds it. She holds it. She holds it. She holds it. She holds the note for such a long time that after a while a funny thing happens: you no longer seem only to hear it, the note as it is currently sounding, that glass-shattering high C that is loud and (...) high and pure. In addition, you also seem to hear something more. It is difficult to express precisely what this extra feature is. One is tempted to say, however, that the note now sounds like it has been going on for a very long time. Perhaps it even sounds like a note that has been going on for too long. In any event, what you hear no longer seems to be limited to the pitch, timbre, loudness, and other strictly audible qualities of the note. You seem in addition to experience, even to hear, something about its temporal extent. (shrink)
I begin by examining a recent debate between John McDowell and Christopher Peacocke over whether the content of perceptual experience is non-conceptual. Although I am sympathetic to Peacocke's claim that perceptual content is non-conceptual, I suggest a number of ways in which his arguments fail to make that case. This failure stems from an over-emphasis on the "fine-grainedness" of perceptual content - a feature that is relatively unimportant to its non-conceptual structure. I go on to describe two other features of (...) perceptual experience that are more likely to be relevant to the claim that perceptual content is non-conceptual. These features are 1) the dependence of a perceived object on the perceptual context in which it is perceived and 2) the dependence of a perceived property on the object it is perceived to be a property of. (shrink)
Both cognitive science and phenomenology accept the primacy of the organism-environment system and recognize that cognition should be understood in terms of an embodied agent situated in its environment. How embodiment is seen to shape our world, however, is fundamentally different in these two disciplines. Embodiment, as understood in cognitive science, reduces to a discussion of the consequences of having a body like ours interacting with our environment and the relationship is one of contingent causality. Embodiment, as understood phenomenologically, represents (...) the condition of intelligibility of certain terms in our experience and, as such, refers to one aspect of that background which presupposes our understanding of the world. The goals and approach to modeling an embodied agent in its environment are also fundamentally different dependent on which relationship is addressed. These differences are highlighted and are used to support our phenomenologically based approach to organism-environment interaction and its relationship to brain function. (shrink)
We argue that heterophenomenology both over- and under-populates the intentional realm. For example, when one is involved in coping, one’s mind does not contain beliefs. Since the heterophenomenologist interprets all intentional commitment as belief, he necessarily overgenerates the belief contents of the mind. Since beliefs cannot capture the normative aspect of coping and perceiving, any method, such as heterophenomenology, that allows for only beliefs is guaranteed not only to overgenerate beliefs but also to undergenerate other kinds of intentional phenomena.
In this paper, I explore the question of whether the expected consequences of holding a belief can affect the rationality of doing so. Special attention is given to various ways in which one might attempt to exert some measure of control over what one believes and the normative status of the beliefs that result from the successful execution of such projects. I argue that the lessons which emerge from thinking about the case ofbelief have important implications for the way we (...) should think about the rationality of a number of other propositional attitudes,such as regret, desire, and fear. Finally,I suggest that a lack of clarity with respect to the relevant issues has given rise to a number of rather serious philosophical mistakes. (shrink)
I am very much in sympathy with the overall approach of John Campbell’s paper, “Reference as Attention”. My sympathy extends to a variety of its features. I think he is right to suppose, for instance, that neuropsychological cases provide important clues about how we should treat some traditional philosophical problems concerning perception and reference. I also think he is right to suppose that there are subtle but important relations between the phenomena of perception, action, consciousness, attention, and reference. I even (...) think that there is probably something importantly right about the main claim of the paper. I take this to be the claim that there is a tight connection – of some sort at any rate – between our capacity to refer demonstratively to perceptually presented objects and our capacity to attend to those objects in our conscious awareness of them. What precisely this connection consists in, however, remains a mystery to me. My goal in these comments is to clarify this result. I will begin, in section 2, with a fairly general statement of the problem I take Campbell to have set himself. Following this, in section 3, I will focus more particularly on what kind of relation Campbell takes to exist, or does exist, or perhaps could exist between attention and demonstrative reference. I examine four options, the first three of which seem to admit of clear counterexamples, and the fourth of which is too weak to be of any real interest. (shrink)
A Moorean fact, in the words of the late David Lewis, is ‘one of those things that we know better than we know the premises of any philosophical argument to the contrary’. Lewis opens his seminal paper ‘Elusive Knowledge’ with the following declaration.
Abstract: Many astrologers attribute a successful birth-chart reading to what they call intuition or psychic ability,where the birth chart acts like a crystal ball. As in shamanism,they relate consciousness to a transcendent reality that,if true, might require are-assessment of present biological theories of consciousness.In Western countries roughly 1 person in 10,000 is practising or seriously studying astrology, so their total number is substantial. Many tests of astrologers have been made since the 1950s but only recently has a coherent review been (...) possible. A large-scale test of persons born less than five minutes apart found no hint of the similarities predicted by astrology. Meta-analysis of more than forty controlled studies suggests that astrologers are unable to perform significantly better than chance even on the more basic tasks such as predicting extraversion. More specifically,astrologers who claim to use psychic ability perform no better than those who do not. The possibility that astrology might be relevant to consciousness and psi is not denied, but such influences, if they exist in astrology,would seem to be very weak or very rare. -/- . (shrink)
Those familiar with contemporary continental philosophy know well the defenses Husserlians have offered of Husserl’s theory of inner time-consciousness against post-modernism’s deconstructive criticisms. As post-modernism gives way to Deleuzean post-structuralism, Deleuze’s Le bergsonisme has grown into the movement of Bergsonism. This movement, designed to present an alternative to phenomenology, challenges Husserlian phenomenology by criticizing the most “important… of all phenomenological problems.” Arguing that Husserl’s theory of time-consciousness detailed a linear succession of iterable instants in which the now internal to consciousness (...) receives prejudicial favor, Bergsonism concludes that Husserl derived the past from the present and cannot account for the sense of the past, which differs in kind from the present. Consequently, everything on Husserl’s account remains present and his theory cannot accommodate for time’s passage. In this paper, I renew the Husserlian defense of Husserl’s theory of time-consciousness in response to the recent movement of Deleuzean Bergsonism. Section one presents Bergsonism’s notion of the past in general and its critique of Husserl’s theory of time-consciousness. Section two presents a rejoinder to Bergsonism’s critique of Husserl, questioning (1) its understanding of the living-present as linearly extended, (2) its conflation of the living-present with Husserl’s early schema-apprehension interpretation, and (3) its failure to grasp Husserl’s revised understanding of primary memory as a result of (2). In conclusion, I suggest that Husserl’s theory of retention might articulate a notion of the past more consistent with Bergson than Bergsonism itself. (shrink)
The work of Alan Cowey and Petra Stoerig is often taken to have shown that, following lesions analogous to those that cause blindsight in humans, there is blindsight in monkeys. The present paper reveals a problem in Cowey and Stoerig's case for blindsight in monkeys. The problem is that Cowey and Stoerig's results would only provide good evidence for blindsight if there is no difference between their two experimental paradigms with regard to the sorts of stimuli that are likely to (...) come to consciousness. We show that the paradigms could differ in this respect, given the connections that have been shown to exist between working memory, perceptual load, attention, and consciousness. (shrink)
Current cognitive science models of perception and action assume that the objects that we move toward and perceive are represented as determinate in our experience of them. A proper phenomenology of perception and action, however, shows that we experience objects indeterminately when we are perceiving them or moving toward them. This indeterminacy, as it relates to simple movement and perception, is captured in the proposed phenomenologically based recurrent network models of brain function. These models provide a possible foundation from which (...) predicative structures may arise as an emergent phenomenon without the positing of a representing subject. These models go some way in addressing the dual constraints of phenomenological accuracy and neurophysiological plausibility that ought to guide all projects devoted to discovering the physical basis of human experience. (shrink)
According to one view about the rationality of belief, such rationality is ultimately nothing other than the rationality that one exhibits in taking the means to one’s ends. On this view, epistemic rationality is really a species or special case of instrumental rationality. In particular, epistemic rationality is instrumental rationality in the service of one’s distinctively cognitive or epistemic goals (perhaps: one’s goal of holding true rather than false beliefs). In my (2003), I dubbed this view the instrumentalist conception of (...) epistemic rationality. (shrink)
One of the crucial intellectual and social challenges facing corporation leaders is to foster a new way of thinking about business and society which recognizes the multinational corporation as a key player in society's responsibility to support and maintain fairness in the global reorganization of markets. In order to establish a sound global social economy, we are in need of the organizing and directing principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. Both of these principles speak to the need of transforming our public (...) and private institutions in such a way that all persons are placed in positions whereby they can share in the benefits of the newly-formed global economy. (shrink)
Many recent attacks on consequentialism and several defenses of pluralism have relied on arguments for the incommensurability of value. Such arguments have, generally, turned on empirical appeals to aspects of our everyday experience of value conflict. My intention, largely, is to bypass these arguments and turn instead to a discussion of the conceptual apparatus needed to make the claim that values are incommensurable. After delineating what it would mean for values to be incommensurable, I give an a priori argument that (...) such is impossible. It is widely accepted that value is conceptually tied to desire. I argue that, more specifically, it is proportional to merited desire strength. This connection gives one a metric of all value if there is any such thing. This metric entails that value is a complete ordering over all states of affairs, or, in other words, that value is commensurable. (shrink)
 In _What Computers Can't Do_ (1972), Hubert Dreyfus identified several basic assumptions about the nature of human knowledge which grounded contemporary research in cognitive science. Contemporary artificial intelligence, he argued, relied on an unjustified belief that the mind functions like a digital computer using symbolic manipulations ("the psychological assumption") (Dreyfus 1992: 163ff), or at least that computer programs could be understood as formalizing human thought ("the epistemological assumption") (Dreyfus 1992: 189). In addition, the project depended upon an assumption about (...) the data about the human world which we employ in thought - namely, that it consists of discrete, determinate, and explicit pieces which can be processed heuristically ("the ontological assumption") (Dreyfus 1992: 206). (shrink)
1. The philosophical problem of what we see My topic revolves around what is apparently a very basic question. Stripped of all additions and in its leanest, most economical form, this is the question: "What do we see?" But in this most basic form the question admits of at least three different interpretations. In the first place, one might understand it to be an epistemological question, perhaps one with skeptical overtones. "What do we see?", on this reading, is short for (...) something like "What things in the world are we justified in believing we see, given the possibility of evil demon scenarios and all the other impedimenta to genuine sight that have become the working tools of epistemologists over the last 350 years?" I shall not be concerned with the question in this skeptical sense. I intend the parenthetical addition to the question, "What do we see (when we do)?", along with the bald-faced assumption that the condition so specified at least sometimes obtains, to rule out discussion along these sorts of epistemological lines, at least for the purposes of this paper. Whether or not this condition in fact obtains, of course, will not effect the position I'm defending. (shrink)
Scientific methods may be viewed as procedures for converging to the true answer to a given empirical question. Typically, such methods converge to the truth only if certain empirical presuppositions are satisfied, which raises the question whether the presuppositions are satisfied. Another scientific method can be applied to this empirical question, and so forth, occasioning an empirical regress. So there is an obvious question about the point of such a regress. This paper explains how to assess the methodological worth of (...) a methodological regress by solving for the strongest sense of single-method performance that can be achieved given that such a regress exists. Several types of regresses are. (shrink)
Belief revision theory concerns methods for reformulating an agent's epistemic state when the agent's beliefs are refuted by new information. The usual guiding principle in the design of such methods is to preserve as much of the agent's epistemic state as possible when the state is revised. Learning theoretic research focuses, instead, on a learning method's reliability or ability to converge to true, informative beliefs over a wide range of possible environments. This paper bridges the two perspectives by assessing the (...) reliability of several proposed belief revision operators. Stringent conceptions of minimal change are shown to occasion a limitation called inductive amnesia: they can predict the future only if they cannot remember the past. Avoidance of inductive amnesia can therefore function as a plausible and hitherto unrecognized constraint on the design of belief revision operators. (shrink)
One construal of convergent realism is that for each clear question, scientific inquiry eventually answers it. In this paper we adapt the techniques of formal learning theory to determine in a precise manner the circumstances under which this ideal is achievable. In particular, we define two criteria of convergence to the truth on the basis of evidence. The first, which we call EA convergence, demands that the theorist converge to the complete truth "all at once". The second, which we call (...) AE convergence, demands only that for every sentence in the theorist's language, there is a time at which the theorist settles the status of the sentence. The relative difficulties of these criteria are compared for effective and ineffective agents. We then examine in detail how the enrichment of an agent's hypothesis language makes the task of converging to the truth more difficult. In particular, we parametrize first-order languages by predicate and function symbol arity, presence or absence of identity, and quantifier prefix complexity. For nearly each choice of values of these parameters, we determine the senses in which effective and ineffective agents can converge to the complete truth on an arbitrary structure for the language. Finally, we sketch directions in which our learning theoretic setting can be generalized or made more realistic. (shrink)
I propose that empirical procedures, like computational procedures, are justified in terms of truth-finding efficiency. I contrast the idea with more standard philosophies of science and illustrate it by deriving Ockham's razor from the aim of minimizing dramatic changes of opinion en route to the truth.
Although John Stuart Mill places considerable emphasis on three information signalling devices – debate, votes and prices – he remains curiously sceptical about the prospects of institutional or social epistemology. In this paper, I explore Mill's modest scepticism about institutional epistemolog y and compare and contrast that with the attitudes of liberal theorists such as F. A. Hayek and John Dewey who are much more enthusiastic about the prospects of social epistemology as part of their defences of liberalism. The paper (...) examines the extent to which Hayek and Dewey ignore concerns originally raised by Mill. I conclude that Mill's modest scepticism is reflected in the epistemological abstinence of contemporary liberal philosophers such as John Rawls, and that his elevation of philosophy over democracy remains a challenge to contemporary defenders of the political value of social or institutional epistemology. (shrink)
Those who favor externalist accounts of knowledge and justification often accuse their internalist opponents of playing into the hands of skeptic. According to this line of thought, internalists characteristically set overly demanding requirements for knowledge and justification, requirements which ordinary believers infrequently satisfy: the internalist is thus committed by his or her own theory to a massive and implausible revisionism about the extent of what we know and justifiably believe. For reasons that I explore, the version of internalist foundationalism developed (...) by BonJour might seem particularly vulnerable to this charge. Given this, one of the most striking and provocative claims of the present work is BonJour's insistence that his theory fares no worse than--and indeed, compares favorably with--Sosa's externalist virtue theory with respect to the issue of skepticism. My primary concern in this short paper is to evaluate BonJour's claim. (shrink)
This paper places formal learning theory in a broader philosophical context and provides a glimpse of what the philosophy of induction looks like from a learning-theoretic point of view. Formal learning theory is compared with other standard approaches to the philosophy of induction. Thereafter, we present some results and examples indicating its unique character and philosophical interest, with special attention to its unified perspective on inductive uncertainty and uncomputability.
The consistent sentencing of white collar criminals does not exist in today's judicial system. Guidelines for sentencing individuals and corporations have already been developed by the U.S. Sentencing Commission but have not yet been implemented in the courts. Pros and cons of the guidelines are given, as is the extent and form of sentencing deemed appropriate for the individual or corporation. The activities of the sentencing commission are depicted by a timeline.
Over the past few decades the pace of change in the business environment has been rapid, as the effects of electronic innovations and the acceptance of the globalisation mind-set have occurred. Communism has collapsed and the power of corporations has grown in the global community that has developed. It has become imperative that business decision-makers become aware that their decisions may limit the choices of future generations by irretrievably destroying the currently existing physical and social environment. Decision-making in today's business (...) environment will have a profound affect on human well-being in general and specifically on the breadth of options that are provided to the business decision-makers of tomorrow. Against this background it is argued that senior managers should adopt a new paradigm through which to view the world and assess the import of their decisions. Managers need to consider the effects of their decisions not only on the economy but also on the environment and the social world, which the economy is meant to serve. Managers must ensure their ways of doing business are sustainable. (shrink)
Managerial reasoning is characteristic of a care-relationship ethics:1. If a corporation provides certain community values to corporate members not reducible to their self-interested economic or professional objectives; 2. If such values are generated by a division of labor based on interdependence, reciprocity and concern for another's self-realization; 3. If it's based on promoting an ethical corporate self independent of its economic value. Such an ethic is appropriate, given employees' tremendous personal contributions, the unique position of private industry to provide distinctive (...) resources without committing extensive social resources, and due to its potential for reducing managerial moral fragmentation and hypocrisy. (shrink)
Convergent realists desire scientific methods that converge reliably to informative, true theories over a wide range of theoretical possibilities. Much attention has been paid to the problem of induction from quantifier-free data. In this paper, we employ the techniques of formal learning theory and model theory to explore the reliable inference of theories from data containing alternating quantifiers. We obtain a hierarchy of inductive problems depending on the quantifier prefix complexity of the formulas that constitute the data, and we provide (...) bounds relating the quantifier prefix complexity of the data to the quantifier prefix complexity of the theories that can be reliably inferred from such data without background knowledge. We also examine the question whether there are theories with mixed quantifiers that can be reliably inferred with closed, universal formulas in the data, but not without. (shrink)
There is renewed interest in the logic of discovery as well as in the position that there is no reason for philosophers to bother with it. This essay shows that the traditional, philosophical arguments for the latter position are bankrupt. Moreover, no interesting defense of the philosophical irrelevance or impossibility of the logic of discovery can be formulated or defended in isolation from computation-theoretic considerations.
the world. 1 Whereas the content of our beliefs, thoughts, and judgements necessarily involves "conceptualization" or "concept application", the content of our perceptual experiences is, according to Evans, "non-conceptual". Because Evans takes it for granted that we are often able to entertain thoughts about an object in virtue of having perceived it, a central problem in.
The title of Andy Clark's book is, among other things, a reference to one of the central terms in Martin Heidegger's early work: "Dasein" (being there) is the word that Heidegger uses to refer to beings like ourselves. Clark is no Heidegger scholar, but the reference is deliberate; among the predecessors to his book he lists not only Heidegger himself, but also the American Heidegger scholar Hubert Dreyfus and the French Heideggerean phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty. This triumvirate has played an increasingly (...) important role in recent years among the "alternative" cognitive science set, owing largely to the influence of Dreyfus's 1979 book What Computers Can't Do (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1979), which enlisted Heideggerian and Merleau-Pontean arguments in the fight against classical symbolic processing approaches to artificial intelligence. Clark's book fits squarely in this "alternative" tradition, and it is an important contribution to the existing literature. It surveys a large array of results in cognitive scientifically oriented fields ranging from robotics to developmental psychology, and it argues convincingly that these results should encourage us to embrace a radical new research paradigm in the cognitive sciences. The central claim is that mainstream cognitive scientists should, like their more revolutionary colleagues, learn to substitute for "the disembodied, atemporal intellectualist vision of mind ... the image of mind as a controller of embodied action" (p. 7). As a clear and brightly written account of this alternative movement in cognitive science, and perhaps even as a kind of mission statement for the new paradigm, Clark's book is one of the finest I have read. It is limited, however, by the fact that the interesting and well-described empirical work that forms the center of his presentation does not always provide sufficient resources for addressing the equally important philosophical problems lurking. (shrink)
Wilkinson (1991) suggests that the problems of polarity decisions and homoplasy in a cladistic analysis may be solved if cladists simply accept plesiomorphy as a reliable indicator of monophyly. Here we argue that: (1) Wilkinson's argument is based on misapprehension of synapomorphy and the problem of homoplasy; (2) His proposed methodology fails to consider the full ramifications of rooting, polarity, and parsimony; and (3) His method does not solve the problems he raises. We demonstrate the limitations of this methodology by (...) using Wilkinson's practical example. We find no justification for the assertion that plesiomorphy may reliably delimit monophyly and recommend against Wilkinson's suggested methodological revisions. (shrink)
Suppose that one is at least a minimal realist about a given domain, in that one thinks that that domain contains truths that are not in any interesting sense of our own making. Given such an understanding, what can be said for and against the method of reflective equilibrium as a procedure for investigating the domain? One fact that lends this question some interest is that many philosophers do combine commitments to minimal realism and a reflective equilibrium methodology. Here, for (...) example, is David Lewis on philosophy: Our “intuitions” are simply opinions: our philosophical theories are the same. Some are commonsensical, some are sophisticated; some are particular; some general; some are more firmly held, some less. But they are all opinions, and a reasonable goal for a philosopher is to bring them into equilibrium. Our common task it to find out what equilibria there are that can withstand examination, but it remains for each of us to come to rest at one or another of them… Once the menu of well-worked out theories is before us, philosophy is a matter of opinion. Is that to say that there is no truth to be had? Or that the truth is of our own making, and different ones of us can make it differently? Not at all! If you say flatly that there is no god, and I say that there are countless gods but none of them are our worldmates, then it may be that neither of us is making any mistake of method. We may each be bringing our opinions to equilibrium in the most careful possible way, taking account of all the arguments, distinctions, and counterexamples. But one of us, at least, is making a mistake of fact. Which one is wrong depends on what there is (1983: x-xi). In addition to philosophy in general, the method of reflective equilibrium has also been endorsed as the appropriate procedure for investigating various other subject.. (shrink)
I argue that the recent debate about the role disgust deserves in ethical thought has been impoverished by an inadequate understanding of the emotion itself. After considering Kass and Nussbaum’s respective positions in that debate, and the implausible views of the nature of disgust on which their arguments rest, I describe my own view, which makes sense of the wealth of recent, often puzzling, empirical work done on the emotion. This view sees disgust as being primarily responsible for protecting against (...) toxins and infectious diseases, but as also having been recruited to play auxiliary roles in the cognition of social norms and group boundaries. I argue that this view provides new and more plausible foundations for skepticism about the idea that disgust deserves some kind of special epistemic credit or moral authority, that the emotion is a trustworthy guide to justifiable moral judgments, or that there is any deep wisdom in repugnance. (shrink)
1. The philosophical problem of what we see My topic revolves around what is apparently a very basic question. Stripped of all additions and in its leanest, most economical form, this is the question: "What do we see?" But in this most basic form the question admits of at least three different interpretations. In the first place, one might understand it to be an epistemological question, perhaps one with skeptical overtones. "What do we see?", on this reading, is short for (...) something like "What things in the world are we justified in believing we see, given the possibility of evil demon scenarios and all the other impedimenta to genuine sight that have become the working tools of epistemologists over the last 350 years?" I shall not be concerned with the question in this skeptical sense. I intend the parenthetical addition to the question, "What do we see (when we do)?", along with the bald-faced assumption that the condition so specified at least sometimes obtains, to rule out discussion along these sorts of epistemological lines, at least for the purposes of this paper. Whether or not this condition in fact obtains, of course, will not effect the position I’m defending. (shrink)
I begin by examining a recent debate between John McDowell and Christopher Peacocke over whether the content of perceptual experience is non-conceptual. Although I am sympathetic to Peacocke’s claim that perceptual content is non-conceptual, I suggest a number of ways in which his arguments fail to make that case. This failure stems from an over-emphasis on the “fine-grainedness” of perceptual content – a feature that is relatively unimportant to its non-conceptual structure. I go on to describe two other features of (...) perceptual experience that are more likely to be relevant to the claim that perceptual content is non-conceptual. These features are 1) the dependence of a perceived object on the perceptual context in which it is perceived and 2) the dependence of a perceived property on the object it is perceived to be a property of. (shrink)
phenomenology and logical analysis. John Searle and Bert Dreyfus are for me two of the paradigm figures of contemporary philosophy, so I am extremely proud to have been offered the opportunity to engage with their work. The editors of The Harvard Review of Philosophy, it seems to me, have shown a keen sense of what is deep and important in our discipline by publishing extended interviews with these two influential thinkers. At the same time, writing this article meant entering into (...) a debate between Searle and Dreyfus about the priority of their respective philosophical methodologies, and this, I am afraid, is at best a no-win situation. My strategy, therefore, has been to try to engage as sympathetically as possible with the programs of each philosopher, and to draw from their work lessons that seem to me important for any philosophical account of intentionality and social reality. I have not shied away from criticism; indeed the whole paper is an extended series of criticisms of the work of both philosophers. But I hope they will recognize this for what it is: an engagement with the work of each that is based on the deepest respect and admiration. Before I jump into the fray, I should mention that I owe a personal debt of gratitude to Searle and Dreyfus as well. They were not only my two advisors in graduate school, but were the two main reasons I entered philosophy. Having become dissatisfied with the formal worlds of mathematics and computer science, their respective critiques of artificial intelligence and cognitivism showed me the rich possibilities of philosophy and struck me as a reason to become a philosopher. It is a difficult discipline, sometimes unforgiving; but I am glad I followed them into it. (shrink)
The French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty claims that there are two distinct ways in which we can understand the place of an object when we are visually apprehending it. The first involves an intentional relation to the object that is essentially cognitive or can serve as the input to cognitive processes; the second irreducibly involves a bodily set or preparation to deal with the object. Because of its essential bodily component, Merleau-Ponty calls this second kind of understanding ‘motor intentional’. In this (...) paper I consider some phenomenological, conceptual, and cognitive neuro-scientific results that help to elucidate and defend the distinction between intentional and motor intentional activity. I go on to argue that motor intentional activity has a logical structure that is essentially distinct from that of the more canonical kinds of intentional states. In particular, the characteristic logical distinction between the content and the attitude of an intentional state does not carry over to the motor intentional case. (shrink)
We discuss the implications of the findings reported in the target article for moral theory, and argue that they represent a clear and genuine case of fundamental moral disagreement. As such, the findings support a moderate form of moral anti-realism – the position that, for some moral issues, there is no fact of the matter about what is right and wrong.
The concept of evidence is among the central concerns of epistemology broadly construed. As such, it has long engaged the intellectual energies of both philosophers of science and epistemologists of a more traditional variety. Here I briefly survey some of the more important ideas to have emerged from this tradition of reflection. I then look somewhat more closely at an issue that has recently come to the fore, largely as a result of Williamson's Knowledge and Its Limits: that of whether (...) one's evidence supervenes on one's non-factive mental states. (shrink)
We first describe recent empirical research on racial cognition, particularly work on implicit racial biases that suggests they are widespread, that they can coexist with explicitly avowed anti-racist and tolerant attitudes, and that they influence behavior in a variety of subtle but troubling ways. We then consider a cluster of questions that the existence and character of implicit racial biases raise for moral theory. First, is it morally condemnable to harbor an implicit racial bias? Second, ought each of us to (...) suspect ourselves of racial bias, and therefore correct for it in ordinary activity, such as grading student papers? (shrink)