Prof. Wójcicki calls his position ‘radically pragmatist’. I will argue, however, that it is not nearly pragmatic enough. In particular, I will argue that his view is not pragmatist enough in three vital respects - even though it greatly improves upon how these issues have been traditionally dealt with.
I will put forward a short, simple argument for a pair of realist claims: metaphysical realism and what I will refer to as epistemological realism. The argument will rely upon nothing more than our apparent memories. Having presented the argument, I will go on to consider possible objections to it, of which there will be a number but none of which will do more than complicate the matter. The argument I present borrows from Peirce’s view that the world’s capacity to (...) surprise us plays a vital role in guiding us toward truth, and from the argument to the best explanation. However, it combines the two views in a way I have not seen done previously. (shrink)
Famously, Pascal described human beings as ‘thinking reeds’, weak in flesh but magnificent in mind. While it is a poetic image, it is also an ambivalent one and may suggest an inappropriately dualist view of human nature. It is important to realise that not only are we thinking reeds but that we are thinking because we are reeds. In fact – while being every bit the marvel that Pascal wondered at – rationality is reed-like itself, very much of a kind (...) with the rest of human nature. (shrink)
Sellars’ argument against The Given has set the scene for much of the discussion of the role of experience in justification. Susan Haack tries to avoid the objection presented by Sellars and to give experience a role in the justification of beliefs. Her approach is to put forward a double aspect theory of justification consisting of a logical/evaluative aspect and a causal aspect. Like other double aspect theories, her approach is led astray by the possibility of deviant causal chains. Her (...) argument’s shortcomings, however, only help to underscore the false assumption behind Sellars’ original argument – that justification is purely logical in character. But, rather than arguing that justification is logical and causal, we are led toward to a view that the character of justification, while essentially normative, is much richer than can be modelled by logic. (shrink)
Communication is an essentially cooperative activity. However, cooperation only makes sense in a particular kind of environment – one in which cooperation leads to shared benefits. This can be seen once we take Grice’s Cooperative Principle and consider its implications in the general context of game theory. The effect is that something like metaphysical realism underpins normal human discourse, such discourse becoming impossible without that presumption.
Naturalism is currently the most vibrantly developing approach to philosophy, with naturalised methodologies being applied across all the philosophical disciplines. One of the areas naturalism has been focussing upon is the mind, traditionally viewed as a topic hard to reconcile with the naturalistic worldview. A number of questions have been pursued in this context. What is the place of the mind in the world? How should we study the mind as a natural phenomenon? What is the significance of cognitive science (...) research for philosophical debates? In this book, philosophical questions about the mind are asked in the context of recent developments in cognitive science, evolutionary theory, psychology, and the project of the naturalisation. Much of the focus is upon what we have learned by studying natural mental mechanisms as well as designing artificial ones. In the case of natural mental mechanisms, this includes consideration of such issues as the significance of deficits in these mechanisms for psychiatry. The significance of the evolutionary context for mental mechanisms as well as questions regarding rationality and wisdom is also explored. Mechanistic and functional models of the mind are used to throw new light on discussions regarding issues of explanation, reduction and the realisation of mental phenomena. Finally, naturalistic approaches are used to look anew at such traditional philosophical issues as the correspondence of mind to world and presuppositions of scientific research. (shrink)
Religious beliefs, it has been noted, are often hard to disprove. While this would be a shortcoming for beliefs whose utility was connected to their accuracy, it is actually necessary in the case of beliefs whose function bears no connection to how accurate they are. In the case of religions and other ideologies that serve to promote prosocial behaviour this leads to the need to protect belief systems against potentially disruptive counterevidence while maintaining their relevance. Religions turn out to be (...) particularly adept at this because of the use they make of existing cognitive by-products to make them plausible without exposingthem overly to investigation. (shrink)
The contributors to this volume engage with issues of normativity within naturalised philosophy. The issues are critical to naturalism as most traditional notions in philosophy, such as knowledge, justification or representation, are said to involve normativity. Some of the contributors pursue the question of the correct place of normativity within a naturalised ontology, with emergentist and eliminativist answers offered on neighbouring pages. Others seek to justify particular norms within a naturalised framework, the more surprising ones including naturalist takes on the (...) a priori and intuitions. Finally, yet others examine concrete examples of the application of norms within particular epistemic endeavours, such as psychopathology and design. The overall picture is that of an intimate engagement with issues of normativity on the part of naturalist philosophers – questioning some of the fundamentals at the same time as they try to work out many of the details. (shrink)
Formal pragmatics plays an important, though secondary, role in modern analytical philosophy of language: its aim is to explain how context can affect the meaning of certain special kinds of utterances. During recent years, the adequacy of formal tools has come under attack, often leading to one or another form of relativism or antirealism. Our aim will be to extend the critique to formal pragmatics while showing that sceptical conclusions can be avoided by developing a different approach to the issues. (...) In particular, we will show that formal pragmatics cannot provide a complete account of how context affects the meaning of utterances, both on its own terms and when faced with evidence of important aspects of natural languages. The focal issue is the relevant kind of context in which pragmatics should examine utterances. Our contention will be that the relevant context of an utterance is determined by the function of that utterance, this function being dependent upon the primary function of language – to convey information. We will argue that the functions of utterances and of language are too broad to be caught by the tools of formal pragmatics of the sort advocated by Montague (1968, 1974), which are an extension the methods of traditional model-theoretic semantics. The particular formal approach we will use as the main example is David Kaplan’s position (1979, 1989), an extension of Montague’s program. (shrink)
To account for a perceived distinction it is necessary to postulate a real distinction. Our process of experiencing the world is one of, mostly unconscious, interpretation of observed distinctions to provide us with a partial world-picture that is sufficient to guide action. The distinctions, themselves, are acorrigible (they do not have a truth value), directly perceived, structured, and capable of being interpreted. Interpreted experience is corrigible, representational and capable of guiding action. Since interpretation is carried out mostly unconsciously and in (...) real time, the two aspects are present in experience together so that it is difficult to separate them out. (shrink)