A central question, if not the central question, of philosophy of perception is whether sensory states have a nature similar to thoughts about the world, whether they are essentially representational. According to the content view, at least some of our sensory states are, at their core, representations with contents that are either accurate or inaccurate. Tyler Burge’s Origins of Objectivity is the most sustained and sophisticated defense of the content view to date. His defense of the view is problematic in (...) several ways. The most significant problem is that his approach does not sit well with mainstream perceptual psychology. (shrink)
The question of whether externalism about mental content is compatible with privileged access is a question of ongoing concern within philosophy of mind. Some philosophers think that Tyler Burge's early work on what he calls "basic self-knowledge" shows that externalism and privileged access are compatible. I critically assess this claim, arguing that Burge's work does not establish the compatbility thesis.
Tyler Burge says that first-person authority can be reconciled with anti-individualism about the intentional by denying part of the "Cartesian conception" of authority, which claims that I am actually authoritative about my intentional attitudes in counterfactual situations. This clause, he says, wrongly conflates the evaluation-conditions for sceptical doubts about the "external" world with the conditions for classifying intentional attitudes in counterfactual situations. This paper argues that the kind of possibility needed to understand external-world scepticism justifies the conflation and that Burge (...) can reject the Cartesian conception only if he rejects either metaphysical realism or anti-individualism. (shrink)
Burge's thesis is the thesis that certain second-order self-ascriptions are self-verifying in virtue of their self-referential form. The thesis has recently come under attack on the grounds that it does not yield a theory of self-knowledge consistent with semantic externalism, and also on the grounds that it is false. In this paper I defend Burge's thesis against both charges, in particular against the arguments of Bernecker, Gallois and Goldberg. The alleged counterexamples they provide are merely apparent counterexamples, and the thesis (...) is adequate to its proper task. To think otherwise is simply to misunderstand the thesis. (shrink)
In Burge 2005, Tyler Burge reads disjunctivism as the denial that there are explanatorily relevant states in common between veridical perceptions and corresponding illusions. He rejects the position as plainly inconsistent with what is known about perception. I describe a disjunctive approach to perceptual experience that is immune to Burge's attack. The main positive moral concerns how to think about fallibility.
In Origins of Objectivity, Burge presents three arguments against what he calls ‘deflationism’: the project of explaining the representational function in terms of the notion of biological function. I evaluate these arguments and argue that they are not convincing.
Tyler Burge argues on the basis of an account of memory that the notion of quasimemory cannot be used to answer the circularity objection to psychological accounts of personal identity. His account implies the impossibility of the "Parfit people," creatures psychologically like us who undergo amoeba-like fission at the age of twenty-one, with only one offshoot allowed to survive, and who have "quareers," made up of the career of the original person and the career of the sole survivor, that exhibit (...) the same sort of psychological continuity that characterizes normal human careers, and are such that epistemic warrant is preserved across the episodes of fission and often involves quasimemories that are not memories. But what he says about memory does not support the denial that such creatures are possible. Where he thinks de se attitudes are necessary, de se * attitudes, indexed to quareers instead of to careers, would serve equally well. It is further argued that the circularity objection to psychological accounts can be answered without appeal to the notion of quasi-memory. Because of the internal relations between the causal profiles of mental states and the persistence conditions of their possessors, in principle there can be a "package deal" definition that simultaneously defines both. (shrink)
Tyler Burge has recently argued that quasi-memory-based psychological reductionist accounts of diachronic personal identity are deeply problematic. According to Burge, these accounts either fail to include appropriately de se elements or presuppose facts about diachronic personal identity—facts of the very kind that the accounts are supposed to explain. Neither of these objections is compelling. The first is based in confusion about the version of reductionism to which it putatively applies. The second loses its force when we recognize that reductionism is (...) a metaphysical thesis, not an epistemological one. (shrink)
Frege is celebrated as an arch-Platonist and arch-realist. He is renowned for claiming that truths of arithmetic are eternally true and independent of us, our judgments and our thoughts; that there is a third realm containing nonphysical objects that are not ideas. Until recently, there were few attempts to explicate these renowned claims, for most philosophers thought the clarity of Frege's prose rendered explication unnecessary. But the last ten years have seen the publication of several revisionist interpretations of Frege's writings (...) — interpretations on which these claims receive a very different reading. In Frege on Knowing the Third Realm, Tyler Burge attempts to undermine this trend. Burge argues that Frege is the very Platonist most have thought him — that revisionist interpretations of Frege's Platonism, mine among them, run afoul of the words on Frege's pages. This paper is a response to Burge's criticisms. I argue that my interpretation is more faithful than Burge's to Frege's texts. (shrink)
This article is concerned with the question of the nature of the epistemic liaison between experience and belief. The problem, often known as the problem of nondoxastic justification, is to see how a causal transition between experience and belief could assume a normative dimension, that is, how perceptual experience serves to justify beliefs about the world. Currently a number of theories have been proposed to resolve this problem. The article considers a particular solution offered by Tyler Burge which, among other (...) things, introduces a new type of positive epistemic status or warrant, namely, entitlement. It contends that Burge's notion of entitlement cannot be of any help in resolving the problem of nondoxastic justification. Burge's account is compared and contrasted with other, similar, approaches to the problem of nondoxastic justification. (shrink)
Burge proposes the Acceptance Principle"", which states that it is apriori that a hearer may properly accept what she is told in the absence of defeaters, since any giver of testimony is a rational agent, and as such one can presume she is a ""source of truth"". It is claimed that Burge's Principle is not intuitively compelling, so that a suasive, not merely an explanatory justification for it is needed.
In the early 1990s there emerged a growing interest with the concept of epistemic entitlement. Philosophers who acknowledge the existence of entitlements maintain that there are beliefs or judgments unsupported by evidence available to the subject, but which the subject nonetheless is justified in believing, that is, has the epistemic right to hold. Some of these may include beliefs non-inferentially sourced in perception, memory, introspection, testimony, and the a priori. Unlike the traditional notion of justification, entitlement is often characterized as (...) an externalist type of epistemic warrant, in the sense that a subject’s being entitled is determined by facts and circumstances that are independent of any reasoning capacities she may or may not have, and which the subject herself need not understand or be able to recognize. One key motivation for this view is that the inclusion of entitlement in epistemology can account for the commonly held intuition that largely unreflective individuals, such as children and non-human animals, possess warrant and basic knowledge about the world. It also paves the way for a tenable foundationalist epistemology, according to which there exist warranted beliefs which are not themselves warranted or justified by any further beliefs. This article explores theories of entitlement as presented by four prominent philosophers: Fred Dretske, Tyler Burge, Crispin Wright, and Christopher Peacocke. (shrink)
This paper evaluates the prospects of harnessing “anti-individualism” about the contents of perceptual states to give an account of the epistemology of perception, making special reference to Tyler Burge’s ( 2003 ) paper, “Perceptual Entitlement”. I start by clarifying what kind of warrant is provided by perceptual experience, and I go on to survey different ways one might explain the warrant provided by perceptual experience in terms of anti-individualist views about the individuation of perceptual states. I close by motivating accounts (...) which instead give a more prominent role to consciousness. (shrink)
The greatest chasm in the philosophy of mind--maybe even all of philosophy-- divides two perspectives on consciousness. The two perspectives differ on whether there is anything in the phenomenal character of conscious experience that goes beyond the intentional, the cognitive and the functional. A convenient terminological handle on the dispute is whether there are.
Some worry that semantic externalism is incompatible with knowing by introspection what content your thoughts have. In this paper, I examine one primary argument for this incompatibilist worry, the slow-switch argument. Following Goldberg (2006), I construe the argument as attacking the conjunction of externalism and skeptic-proof knowledge of content, where such knowledge would be immune to skeptical doubt. Goldberg, following Burge (1988), attempts to reclaim such knowledge for the externalist; however, I contend that all Burge-style accounts (at best) vindicate that (...) a subject can introspectively know that she is thinking that “water is wet.” They do not yet show how a subject can introspectively know what she is thinking—which is the distinctive type of knowing at issue in the slow-switch argument. Nonetheless, I subsequently amend the Burge-style view to illustrate how an externalist can introspectively “know what” content her thought has, and know it in a skeptic-proof manner, despite what the slow-switch argument may suggest. For one, I emphasize that “knowing what” is intensional (one can know what a water-thought is sans familiarity with H2O-thoughts). Second, I exploit the fact that such knowledge can be ontologically non-committal (so that knowing your thought is about water does not require knowing that water exists). Finally, following Boër and Lycan (1986), I point out that “knowing what” is purpose-relative—and for at least some purposes, I suggest it is possible for the externalist to “know what” content her thought has, even when skeptical hypotheses about XYZ are entertained. (shrink)
Following Burge, many anti-individualists suppose that a subject can possess a concept even if she incompletely understands it. While agreeing that this is possible, I argue that there is a limit on the extent to which a subject can incompletely understand the set of concepts she thinks with. This limit derives from our conception of our ability to reflectively evaluate our own thoughts or, as Burge puts it, our ability to engage in critical reasoning. The paper extends Burge's own work (...) on critical reasoning. He argued that critical reasoning imposes a limit on the extent to which we can be mistaken about what thoughts we are having; in general, we can know non-empirically what we are thinking (Burge, "Our Entitlement to Self-Knowledge", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society XCVI, 1996). He does not explicitly consider whether critical reasoning also imposes a limit on incomplete understanding of thoughts. (shrink)
Putnam and Burge have been viewed as launching a joint attack on individualism, the view that the content of one's psychological state is determined by what is in the head . Putnam argues that meanings are not in the head while Burge argues that beliefs are not in the head either, and both have come up with convincing arguments against individualism. It is generally conceived that Putnam's view is a version of physical externalism, which argues that factors in the physical (...) environment play a role in determining the meanings of natural kind terms. Burge, on the other hand, is regarded as following up Putnam's argument to bring in factors in the social environment for the determination of belief. Burge's view has been commonly referred to as 'social externalism.' The general consensus in the field is that physical externalism and social externalism are compatible views. Furthermore, both Putnam and Burge seem to endorse each other’s position for the most part. In this paper, however, I shall argue against this general view to show that the two theories are deep down incompatible. (shrink)
Sarah Sawyer has challenged my claim that social externalism depends on the assumption that individuals have an incomplete grasp of their own concepts. Sawyer denies that Burge's later sofa thought-experiment relies on this assumption: the unifying principle behind the thought-experiments supporting social externalism, she argues, is just that referents play a role in the individuation of concepts. I argue that Sawyer fails to show that social externalism need not rely on the assumption of incomplete understanding. To establish the content externalist (...) conclusions, further considerations are required, and these do commit the externalist to the assumption of incomplete understanding. (shrink)
Tyler Burge defends the idea that memory preserves beliefswith their justifications, so that memory's role in inferenceadds no new justificatory demands. Against Burge's view,Christensen and Kornblith argue that memory is reconstructiveand so introduces an element of a posteriori justificationinto every inference. I argue that Burge is right,memory does preserve content, but to defend this viewwe need to specify a preservative mechanism. Toward thatend, I develop the idea that there is something worthcalling anaphoric thinking, which preserves content inBurge's sense of ``content (...) preservation.'' I providea model on which anaphoric thought is a fundamentalfeature of cognitive architecture, consequentlyrejecting the idea that there are mental pronounsin a Language of Thought. Since preservativememory is a matter of anaphoric thinking, thereare limits on the analogy of memory and testimony. (shrink)
Ever since Putnam and Burge launched their respective attacks on individualist accounts of meaning the individualist has felt squeezed for space.1 Very little maneuvering room, it seems, is left for the philosopher who wants to deny that meaning and mental content depend on the speaker's social environment. One option, popular amongst individualists, is to grant that reference is socially determined but argue that there is nevertheless a notion of meaning or content that can be understood individualistically. That is, the individualist (...) can opt for a. (shrink)
In this paper I will discuss Kims powerful explanatory exclusion argument against the causal efficacy of mental properties. Baker and Burge misconstrue Kims challenge if they understand it as being based on a purely metaphysical understanding of causation that has no grounding in an epistemological analysis of our successful scientific practices. As I will show, the emphasis on explanatory practices can only be effective in answering Kim if it is understood as being part of the dual-explanandum strategy. Furthermore, a fundamental (...) problem of the contemporary debate about mental causation consists in the fact that all sides take very different examples to be paradigmatic for the relation between psychological and neurobiological explanations. Even if we should expect some alignment in the explanatory scope of neurobiology and psychology/folk-psychology, there is no reason to expect that all mental explanations are exempted by physical explanations, since they do not in general explain the same phenomena. (shrink)
The main aim of this paper is to show that there is one version of supervenience of the mental on the physical which is entailed by token-token identity (I call this version change-supervenience); and to establish that of the other better known versions of supervenience in the literature (which I call difference-supervenience), none are so entailed. One consequence of this is that Burge's thought experiments while successful in refuting difference-supervenience cannot in themselves refute identity thesis. However, the introduction of change (...) supervenience leads me to devise an analogous thought experiment against change-supervenience, thus refuting identity thesis as well. (shrink)
The paper offers some preliminary and rather unsystematic reflections about the question: Do Beliefs Have Their Contents Essentially? The question looks like it ought to be important, yet it is rarely discussed. Maybe thatâs because content essentialism, i.e., the view that beliefs do have their contents essentially, is simply too obviously and trivially true to deserve much discussion. I sketch a common-sense argument that might be taken to show that content essentialism is indeed utterly obvious and/or trivial. Somewhat against this, (...) I then point out that a sexy conclusion that is sometimes drawn from Putnam-Burge-style externalist arguments, namely that our mental states are not in our heads, presupposes content essentialism â which suggests that the view is not entirely trivial. Moreover, it seems intuitively that physicalists should reject the view: If beliefs are physical states, how could they have their propositional contents essentially? I distinguish three readings of the title question. Content essentialism does seem fairly obvious on the first two, but not so on the third. I argue that the common-sense argument mentioned earlier presupposes one of the first two readings but fails to apply to the third, on which âbeliefâ refers to belief-state tokens. Thatâs because ordinary belief individuation is silent about belief-state tokens. Token physicalists, I suggest, should indeed reject content essentialism about belief-state tokens. What about token dualists? One might think they ought to embrace content essentialism about belief-state tokens. I end with puzzling why this should be so. (shrink)
Tyler Burge has argued that one has an a priori prima facie entitlement to believe in the truth of what one takes to have been presented as true by an interlocutor. This thesis, however, is problematic, since the alleged a priori prima facie entitlement to believe in the truth of our seeming understanding of things presented as true to us, rests on the possibility of determining assertoric force on a purely intellectual basis. This thesis is not plausible and Burge's analogy (...) from memory does not support it. Two routes for defending Burge's thesis of the a priori prima facie entitlement to believe in the truth of what has been asserted can be identified: the Transcendental Route and the Intrinsic Rationality Route. David Lewis' account of linguistic convention would serve as a transcendental argument for the a priori prima facie entitlement to believe in the truth of what has been asserted, but flaws in Lewis' theory leave us deprived of any good transcendental argument for such an entitlement. The Intrinsic Rationality Route is in better standing, but we have yet to see an argument for why we should resort to that measure. (shrink)
Fear of public disclosure that will add to the humiliation of rape or other sexual assault is real for victims. In discussing this issue, cases for concealment and for disclosure are examined and suggestions are made for determining whether to publish names of victims.
I outline Brandom’s theory of de re and de dicto belief ascriptions, which plays a central role in Brandom’s overall theory of linguistic communication, and show that this theory offers a surprising, new response to Burge’s (Midwest Stud 6:73–121, 1979) argument for social externalism. However, while this response is in principle available from the perspective of Brandom’s theory of belief ascription in abstraction from his wider theoretical enterprise, it ceases to be available from this perspective in the wider context of (...) his inferential role semantics and his doctrines of scorekeeping and of the expressive role of belief ascriptions in discourse. In this wider context, Brandom’s theory of belief ascriptions implies that Burge’s argument trivially fails to have the disquieting implications for psychological explanations that it is widely taken to have. Yet since this is not trivially so, Brandom’s theory apparently provides a false picture of our practice of interpreting belief ascriptions. I then argue that Brandom might as well accept the alternative picture of interpreting belief ascriptions that Burge’s argument presupposes: even in the context of his overall project, Brandom’s take on our practice of interpreting them does not afford belief ascriptions with the discursive significance Brandom claims they have. (shrink)
The anti?Cartesian idea that a person's thoughts are not entirely fixed by what goes on inside that person's head is suggested by Hegel, and echoed in Wittgenstein and Frege. An argument for the view has recently been given by Tyler Burge. This paper claims that Burge's data can be explained better by an individualistic theory. The basic idea is that an individual's thoughts are specified analogically, in ordinary discourse, through the model of a language. Though the modelling?sentences are public, the (...) thoughts of the individual are inner states whose identity does not depend upon those sentences. They have content naturally, whether or not content happens to be ascribed to them. (shrink)
Tyler Burge presents a collection of his seminal essays on Gottlob Frege (1848-1925), who has a strong claim to be seen as the founder of modern analytic philosophy, and whose work remains at the centre of philosophical debate today. Truth, Thought, Reason gathers some of Burge's most influential work from the last twenty-five years, and also features important new material, including a substantial introduction and postscripts to four of the ten papers. It will be an essential resource for any historian (...) of modern philosophy, and for anyone working on philosophy of language, epistemology, or philosophical logic. (shrink)
Several authors have argued that, assuming we have apriori knowledge of our own thought-contents, semantic externalism implies that we can know apriori contingent facts about the empirical world. After presenting the argument, I shall respond by resisting the premise that an externalist can know apriori: If s/he has the concept water, then water exists. In particular, Boghossian's Dry Earth example suggests that such thought-experiments do not provide such apriori knowledge. Boghossian himself rejects the Dry Earth experiment, however, since it would (...) imply that externalism is true of empty concepts as well as non-empty concepts. Yet in this paper I respond by defending empty-concept externalism, from criticisms suggested by Boghossian and Brown, and recently developed further by Besson. My contention is that an externalist can give a non-ad hoc descriptivist account of empty concepts. Accordingly, apriori self-knowledge does not enable an externalist to know contingent features of the external world. (shrink)
The crucial point of the mind-body-problem appears to be that mental phenome- na (events, properties, states) seem to have features which at first sight make it impossible to integrate these phenomena into a naturalistic world view, i.e. to identify them with, or to reduce them to, physical phenomena.1 In the contemp- orary discussion, there are mainly two critical features which are important in this context. The first of these is the feature of intentional states, e.g. beliefs and desires, to have (...) a representational or semantic content. The problem of the naturalization of these states I will call the problem of intentionality. The second critical feature is the property of other mental states, e.g. perceptions and sensations, to have a qualitative aspect, i.e. that it is somehow, or feels in a characteristic way, to be in one of those states. The problem of the naturalization of these states is generally called the qualia-problem. (shrink)
According to the expressive theory of communication, the primary function of language is to enable speakers to convey the content of their thoughts to hearers. According to Tyler Burge's social externalism, the content of a person's thought is relative to the way words are used in his or her surrounding linguistic community. This paper argues that Burge's social externalism refutes the expressive theory of communication.
The present piece is a reply to G. Hoffmann on my infallibilist view of self-knowledge. Contra Hoffmann, it is argued that the view does not preclude a Quinean view where every belief is vulnerable to empirical revision.