Modality, morality and belief are among the most controversial topics in philosophy today, and few philosophers have shaped these debates as deeply as Ruth Barcan Marcus. Inspired by her work, a distinguished group of philosophers explore these issues, refine and sharpen arguments and develop new positions on such topics as possible worlds, moral dilemmas, essentialism, and the explanation of actions by beliefs. This 'state of the art' collection honours one of the most rigorous and iconoclastic of philosophical pioneers.
Marcus argues that moral dilemmas are real, but that they are not the result of inconsistent moral principles. Moral principles are consistent just in case there is some world where all principles are 'obeyable.' They are inconsistent just in case there is no world where all are 'obeyable.' What this logical point is meant to show is that moral dilemmas do not make moral codes inconsistent. She also discusses guilt, and argues that guilt is still appropriate even in cases (...) of conflict, even when the agent thinks the right thing to do is clear. (shrink)
Based on her earlier ground-breaking axiomatization of quantified modal logic, the papers collected here by the distinguished philosopher Ruth Barcan Marcus cover much ground in the development of her thought, spanning from 1961 to 1990. The first essay here introduces themes initially viewed as iconoclastic, such as the necessity of identity, the directly referential role of proper names as "tags", the Barcan Formula about the interplay of possibility and existence, and alternative interpretations of quantification. Marcus also addresses the (...) putative puzzles about substitutivity and about essentialism. The collection also includes influential essays on moral conflict, on belief and rationality, and on some historical figures. Many of her views have been incorporated into current theories, while others remain part of a continuing debate. (shrink)
Metaphysics and language: Quine, W. V. O. On the individuation of attributes. Körner, S. On some relations between logic and metaphysics. Marcus, R. B. Does the principle of substitutivity rest on a mistake? Van Fraassen, B. C. Platonism's pyrrhic victory. Martin, R. M. On some prepositional relations. Kearns, J. T. Sentences and propositions.--Basic and combinatorial logic: Orgass, R. J. Extended basic logic and ordinal numbers. Curry, H. B. Representation of Markov algorithms by combinators.--Implication and consistency: Anderson, A. R. Fitch (...) on consistency. Belnap, N. D., Jr. Grammatical propaedeutic. Thomason, R. H. Decidability in the logic of conditionals. Myhill, J. Levels of implication.--Deontic, epistemic, and erotetic logic: Bacon, J. Belief as relative knowledge. Wu, K. J. Believing and disbelieving. Kordig, C. R. Relativized deontic modalities. Harrah, D. A system for erotetic sentences. (shrink)
I argue that zombies are inconceivable. More precisely, I argue that the conceivability-intuition that is used to demonstrate their possibility has been misconstrued. Thought experiments alleged to feature zombies founder on the fact that, on the one hand, they _must_ involve first-person imagining, and yet, on the other hand, _cannot_. Philosophers who take themselves to have imagined zombies have unwittingly conflated imagining a creature who lacks consciousness with imagining a creature without also imagining the consciousness it may or may not (...) possess. (shrink)
Wittgenstein gives voice to an aspiration that is central to his later philosophy, well before he becomes later Wittgenstein, when he writes in §4.112 of the Tractatus that philosophy is not a matter of putting forward a doctrine or a theory, but consists rather in the practice of an activity – an activity he goes on to characterize as one of elucidation or clarification – an activity which he says does not result in philosophische Sätze, in propositions of philosophy, but (...) rather in das Klarwerden von Sätzen, in our attaining clarity in our relation to the sentences of our language that we call upon to express our thoughts.1 To say that early Wittgenstein already aspired to such a conception of philosophy is not to gainsay that to aspire to practice philosophy in such a manner and to succeed in doing so are not the same thing. It is therefore not to deny that, by Wittgenstein’s later lights, the Tractatus is to be judged a work that is marked by forms of failure tied to its having failed fully to live up to such an aspiration. But if it is thus to be judged, then it is to some degree a failure even by Wittgenstein’s own earlier lights. This means that if one wants to understand the fundamental turn in Wittgenstein’s thinking as he moves from his earlier to his later philosophy, and why it is that he wanted the Tractatus to be published and read together with Philosophical Investigations, one needs to understand what sort of failure this is – and that requires coming to terms with the Tractatus’s own understanding of what sort of work it was trying to be. We think that readers of the Tractatus – be they admirers or detractors of Wittgenstein – have, on the whole, failed to do this. (shrink)
This paper comes in three parts. In the first part, I explore the question of the relation between the philosophies of the early and the later Wittgenstein as they are standardly distinguished, with the aim of raising some questions about whether that standard distinction might not obstruct our view of certain significant aspects of the development of Wittgenstein’s thought. In the second part, drawing on the work of Marie McGinn and Warren Goldfarb, I distinguish two senses in which these two (...) commentators have been moved to call upon the expression ‘piecemeal’ in their respective attempts to characterize an important feature of Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophical method. In the third part, I draw upon this distinction to help bring into focus a significant shift in Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophical method which occurs fully within the so-called “later” period—a shift which has in no small part remained invisible due to the manner in which the opposition between an early and a later Wittgenstein has hitherto been conceived. (shrink)
Wittgenstein is usually taken to have held that the use of a term is not mentally constrained. That is utterly wrong. A use of language unconstrained by meaning is attributed by him to "meaning-blind" or "aspect-blind" creatures, not to us. We observe meaning when an aspect dawns on us; meaning is the impression (Eindruck) of a term as fitting something; hence, unlike pain, it cannot stand alone. That is a mentalistic theory of meaning: use is determined by images (Vorstellungen) that (...) play semantic roles in virtue of their aesthetic properties. Although a term may be arbitrarily interpreted, aesthetic reasons determine which interpretation be seen as right for it. (shrink)
Abstract: It is generally accepted that the most serious threat to the possibility of mental causation is posed by the causal self-sufficiency of physical causal processes. I argue, however, that this feature of the world, which I articulate in principle I call Completeness, in fact poses no genuine threat to mental causation. Some find Completeness threatening to mental causation because they confuse it with a stronger principle, which I call Closure. Others do not simply conflate Completeness and Closure, but (...) hold that Completeness, together with certain plausible assumptions, _entails_ Closure. I refute the most fully worked-out version of such an argument. Finally, some find Completeness all by itself threatening to mental causation. I argue that one will only find Completeness threatening if one operates with a philosophically distorted conception of mental causation. I thereby defend what I call naïve realism about mental causation. (shrink)
The document before you is by a member of a fanatical sect of heretical Ludwig scholars. Through a twist of fate it has fallen into my hands. I hesitate to make it public, since its circulation may do more harm than good. What speaks against publication is that it has the power to corrupt young minds. I do not take a light view of the dangers it poses in this regard. What speaks in favor of publication is the fact that (...) these people must be stopped. Through their pamphlets and brochures they continue to attract more converts everyday. The importance of this document lies in the fact that it brings to light some of the more esoteric doctrines of the sect, revealing the vulnerable theological underbelly of their creed. It also speaks of quar- relling within the inﬁdel camp. There are even suggestions that the author fears that he himself may be excommunicated by an up-and-coming generation of zealots. He pleads here for a mild interpretation of their creed. (Oblivious to the stench of his own blasphemies, he even imagines entering into dialogue with mainstream Ludwig scholars!) My main aim in making this text generally available is that more learned men than I may make a study of it. A sound theological thrashing of the author’s own (according to him, mild!) version of the creed is devoutly to be wished. But my fondest hope is that, in the hands of one of our ﬁner Ludwig scholars, it might become a weapon that can be turned against the inﬁdel camp. I have a Trojan horse maneuver in mind here. A cunningly crafted pseudonymous publication, addressing some of the niceties of their more peculiar doctrines, under the pretence of attempting to heal the looming schism in their sect, ought to be able to bust it wide open. One particularly confusing feature of the document is that the author occasionally adopts a heavily ironical tone, actually going so far as to refer to himself as an inﬁdel, etc., though without apparently the least appreciation of the fact that the heavier he allows his irony to become, the closer he comes ﬁnally to speaking the truth.. (shrink)
As we have seen, the crucial step in Nietzsche’s argument for his early doctrine is summed by in the following remark: ‘If we are forced to comprehend all things only under these forms, then it ceases to be amazing that in all things we actually comprehend nothing but these forms’ (1979, pp. 87–8). Before eventually learning to be suspicious of it, Nietzsche spends a good deal of time wondering instead what it would mean to live with the conclusion that (what (...) he calls) “the Kantian philosophy” apparently thus forces upon one, if one allows oneself to take this step. The different ways of living with its implications that Nietzsche goes on to distinguish in his early writings play an important role in his own subsequent retrospective understanding of the stations of the dialectic through which his thought had to traverse in its movement towards his mature perspectivism. Nietzsche contrasts these, in turn, with different possible versions of stage-two perspectivism. It is these finer discriminations that Nietzsche makes among the possible ways of occupying the second and third stages of the dialectic that will briefly concern us in this part of the paper. (shrink)
If someone believes himself to have discovered the solution to the problem of life … then in order to refute himself he need only reflect that there was a time when this ‘solution’ had not been discovered; but it must have been possible to live then too…. And that is the position in which we find ourselves in logic. If there comes to seem to be a ‘solution’ to logical (philosophical) problems, we should need only to caution ourselves that there (...) was a time when they had not been solved (and even at that time people must have been able to live and think). (shrink)
There has been much written in recent years about whether a pair of subjects could have visual experiences that represented the colors of objects in their environment in precisely the same way, despite differing significantly in what it was like to undergo them, differing that is, in their qualitative character. The possibility of spectrum inversion has been so much debated1 in large part because of the threat that it would pose to the more general doctrine of Intentionalism, according to which (...) the representational content of an experience fixes what it. (shrink)
Philosophers ... always demand that we should think of an eye that is completely unthinkable, an eye turned in no particular direction, in which the active and interpreting forces, through which alone seeing becomes seeing something, are supposed to be lacking; they always demand of the eye an absurdity and a nonsense.
Why worry about Wittgenstein’s Tractatus? Did not Wittgenstein himself come to think it was largely a mistaken work? Is not Wittgenstein’s important work his later work? And does not his later work consist in a rejection of his earlier views? So does not the interest of the Tractatus mostly lie in its capacity to furnish a particularly vivid exemplar of the sort of philosophy that the mature Wittgenstein was most concerned to reject? So is it not true that the only (...) real reason to worry about the Tractatus is to become clear about what sort of thing it was that the later Wittgenstein was most against in philosophy? Is the interest of the book therefore not largely exhausted by its capacity to show us what the later Wittgenstein did not think? Much of the secondary literature on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, either implicitly or explicitly, answers these questions largely in the affirmative. The aim of this paper is to suggest that the manner in which it has done so has done much to obstruct the possibility of an understanding of Wittgenstein’s philosophy – both early and late. The aim is not to suggest that these questions should be answered instead in the negative, but rather to furnish a prolegomenon to the possibility of a proper understanding of what – and how much – ought to be affirmed in answering them in the affirmative. As the present volume makes evident, there is currently a debate underway about how to read (and how not to read) Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. This paper will not attempt a direct contribution to that debate,2 it will attempt instead to bring out some of what might be at stake in that debate. It is natural to think that all that ought to be at stake is a fairly parochial question concerning the proper interpretation of Wittgenstein’s work during a single, relatively early phase of his philosophical development. Thus it is natural to conclude that, whatever differences may divide the parties to this debate concerning how to read the Tractatus, nonetheless, au fond these interpreters of Wittgenstein may be in broad agreement about how to read most of the rest of Wittgenstein’s work – or, at least, whatever their disagreements may be about the early work, they are ones that can be independently adjudicated, without substantial cost to anyone’s prior.... (shrink)
Alternative readings of quantification are considered. The absence of an unequivocal translation into ordinary speech is noted. Some examples are cited which, in the opinion of the author, are a result of equivocal readings of quantification, or unnecessarily restrictive readings which obscure its primary function.
One of the most influential contemporary philosophers, Hilary Putnam's involvement in philosophy spans philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, ontology and epistemology and logic. This edited volume explores Putnam's contribution to the contemporary realist and pragmatist debate and includes Putnam's comments on each issue raised.
The thesis that mental states are physical states enjoys widespread popularity. After the abandonment of typeidentity theories, however, this thesis has typically been framed in terms of state tokens. I argue that token states are a philosopher’s fiction, and that debates about the identity of mental and physical state tokens thus rest on a mistake.
Numbers without Science opposes the Quine-Putnam indispensability argument, seeking to undermine the argument and reduce its profound influence. Philosophers rely on indispensability to justify mathematical knowledge using only empiricist epistemology. I argue that we need an independent account of our knowledge of mathematics. The indispensability argument, in broad form, consists of two premises. The major premise alleges that we are committed to mathematical objects if science requires them. The minor premise alleges that science in fact requires mathematical objects. The most (...) common rejection of the argument denies its minor premise by introducing scientific theories which do not refer to mathematical objects. Hartry Field has shown how we can reformulate some physical theories without mathematical commitments. I argue that Field’s preference for intrinsic explanation, which underlies his reformulation, is ill-motivated, and that his resultant fictionalism suffers unacceptable consequences. I attack the major premise instead. I argue that Quine provides a mistaken criterion for ontic commitment. Our uses of mathematics in scientific theory are instrumental and do not commit us to mathematical objects. Furthermore, even if we accept Quine’s criterion for ontic commitment, the indispensability argument justifies only an anemic version of mathematics, and does not yield traditional mathematical objects. The first two chapters of the dissertation develop these results for Quine’s indispensability argument. In the third chapter, I apply my findings to other contemporary indispensabilists, specifically the structuralists Michael Resnik and Stewart Shapiro. In the fourth chapter, I show that indispensability arguments which do not rely on Quine’s holism, like that of Putnam, are even less successful. Also in Chapter 4, I show how Putnam’s work in the philosophy of mathematics is unified around the indispensability argument. In the last chapter of the dissertation, I conclude that we need an account of mathematical knowledge which does not appeal to empirical science and which does not succumb to mysticism and speculation. Briefly, my strategy is to argue that any defensible solution to the demarcation problem of separating good scientific theories from bad ones will find mathematics to be good, if not empirical, science. (shrink)
If, as the title of this book suggests, the state of Tractatus commentary has at times recently resembled something close to a state of war, then it has most of all resembled a war of attrition. Against this background, Roger White's "Throwing the Baby Out with the Ladder" makes for refreshing reading. To be sure, White repeats some of the familiar misconceptions of what resolute readers do or must claim that have marred the debate over the adequacies or inadequacies of (...) such an approach to the Tractatus (TLP). But he also introduces some novel and interesting lines of criticism that merit serious attention. Foremost among the latter is White's treatment (in Section III of his paper) of three engaging examples that he sees as making trouble for resolute readers, and for their opposition to the standard idea that the lesson of the Tractatrrs could consist in its communicating, and our grasping, ineffable insights by way of its nonsense-sentences. (shrink)
In this paper I will sketch three different ways of reading Austin. In order to have some bit of Austin before us to show that it can be and has been read in each of these three different ways, let us begin with a characteristic passage from Austin. In A Plea for Excuses, Austin writes: Modification without aberration. When it is stated that X did A, there is a temptation to suppose that given some, indeed perhaps any, expression modifying the (...) verb we shall be entitled to insert either it or its opposite or negation in our statement: that is, we shall be entitled to ask, typically, “Did X do Mly or not Mly?” (“Did X murder Y voluntarily or involuntarily”), and to answer one or the other. Or as a minimum it is supposed that if X did A there must be at least one modifying expression that we could, justifiably and informatively, insert with the verb. In the great majority of the cases of the use of the great majority of verbs (“murder” perhaps is not one of the majority) such suppositions are quite unjustified. The natural economy of language dictates that for the standard case covered by any normal verb—not, perhaps, a verb of omen such as “murder”, but a verb like “eat” or “kick” or “croquet” – no modifying expression is required or even permissible. Only if we do the action named in some special way or circumstances, different from those in which such an act is naturally done (and of course both the normal and the abnormal differ according to what verb is in question) is a modifying expression called for or even in order. I sit in my chair, in the usual way – I am not in a daze or influenced by threats or the like: here, it will not do to say either that I sat in it intentionally or that I did not sit in it intentionally, nor yet that I sat in it automatically or from habit or what you will.. (shrink)
In recent decades, a view of identity I call Sortalism has gained popularity. According to this view, if a is identical to b, then there is some sortal S such that a is the same S as b. Sortalism has typically been discussed with respect to the identity of objects. I argue that the motivations for Sortalism about object-identity apply equally well to event-identity. But Sortalism about event-identity poses a serious threat to the view that mental events are token identical (...) to physical events: A particular mental event m is identical with a particular physical event p only if there is a sortal S such that m and p are both Ss. If there is no such sortal, the doctrine of token-identity is not true. I argue here that we have no good reason for thinking that there is any such sortal. (shrink)
Philosophy of mathematics for the last half-century has been dominated in one way or another by Quine’s indispensability argument. The argument alleges that our best scientific theory quantifies over, and thus commits us to, mathematical objects. In this paper, I present new considerations which undermine the most serious challenge to Quine’s argument, Hartry Field’s reformulation of Newtonian Gravitational Theory.
Although regular polysemy [e.g. producer for product (John read Dickens) or container for contents (John drank the bottle)] has been extensively studied, there has been little work on why certain polysemy patterns are more acceptable than others. We take an empirical approach to the question, in particular evaluating an account based on rules against a gradient account of polysemy that is based on various radical pragmatic theories (Fauconnier 1985; Nunberg 1995). Under the gradient approach, possible senses become more acceptable as (...) they become more closely related to a word’s default meaning, and the apparent regularity of polysemy is an artefact of having many similarly structured concepts. Using methods for measuring conceptual structure drawn from cognitive psychology, Study 1 demonstrates that a variety of metrics along which possible senses can be related to a default meaning, including conceptual centrality, cue validity and similarity, are surprisingly poor predictors of whether shifts to those senses are acceptable. Instead, sense acceptability was better explained by rule-based approaches to polysemy (e.g. Copestake & Briscoe 1995). Study 2 replicated this finding using novel word meanings in which the relatedness of possible senses was varied. However, while individual word senses were better predicted by polysemy rules than conceptual metrics, our data suggested that rules (like producer for product) had themselves arisen to mark senses that, aggregated over many similar words, were particularly closely related. (shrink)
Rogers & McClelland's (R&M's) précis represents an important effort to address key issues in concepts and categorization, but few of the simulations deliver what is promised. We argue that the models are seriously underconstrained, importantly incomplete, and psychologically implausible; more broadly, R&M dwell too heavily on the apparent successes without comparable concern for limitations already noted in the literature.