According to alethic functionalism, truth is a higher-order multiply realizable property of propositions. After briefly presenting the view’s main principles and motivations, I defend alethic functionalism from recent criticisms raised against it by Cory Wright. Wright argues that alethic functionalism will collapse either into deflationism or into a view which takes “true” as simply ambiguous. I reject both claims.
Contemporary expressivists typically deny that all true judgments must represent reality. Many instead adopt truth minimalism, according to which there is no substantive property of judgments in virtue of which they are true. In this article, I suggest that expressivists would be better suited to adopt truth pluralism, or the view that there is more than one substantive property of judgments in virtue of which judgments are true. My point is not that an expressivism that takes this form is true, (...) but that it more readily accommodates the motivations that typically lead expressivists to their view in the first place. (shrink)
What does truth have to do with freedom? That is, what is the relationship between our political and epistemic principles? In this paper, I grapple and reject Rorty's reasons for thinking that the former can't be based on the latter, but offer an alternative argument that supports his over-all conclusion that our epistemic and political values are ultimately intertwined.
Like William James before him, Huw Price has influentially argued that truth has a normative role to play in our thought and talk. I agree. But Price also thinks that we should regard truth-conceived of as property of our beliefs-as something like a metaphysical myth. Here I disagree. In this paper, I argue that reflection on truth's values pushes us in a slightly different direction, one that opens the door to certain metaphysical possibilities that even a Pricean pragmatist can love.
Can we give objective reasons for our most basic standards of reason-- our fundamental epistemic principles? I argue, against several forms of skepticism about reason, that we can, but that the reasons we can give for epistemic principles are ultimately practical, not epistemic.
In this paper, I make two points about Richard’s truth relativism. First, I argue his truth relativism is at odds with his account of truth-aptness. Second, I argue that his truth relativism commits him to a form of pluralism about truth.
In this essay, I present a new argument for the imposszbility of defining truth by specifying the underlying structural property all and only true propositions have in common. The set of considerations. I use to support this claim take as their inspiration Alston's recent argument that it is impossible to define truth epistemically—in terms of justification or warrant. According to what Alston calls the "intensional argument", epistemic definitions are inconsistent with the T-schema or the principle that it is true that (...) p if, and only if, p. Since the T-schema has great intuitive appeal, this is a powerful indictment of epistemic theories. But the basic argument that Alston employs, and the constellation of considerations which prosecute that argument, work against a much broader range of views than he considers. While this implies that a traditional conceptual analysis of truth rnay be impossible, it opens the door to a pluralist approach to truth. (shrink)
Moral relativism is an attractive position, but also one that it is difficult to formulate. In this paper, we propose an alternative way of formulating moral relativism that locates the relativity of morality in the property that makes moral claims true. Such an approach, we believe, has significant advantages over other possible ways of formulating moral relativism. We conclude by considering a few problems such a position might face.
What is truth? Michael Lynch defends a bold new answer to this question. Traditional theories of truth hold that truth has only a single uniform nature. All truths are true in the same way. More recent deflationary theories claim that truth has no nature at all; the concept of truth is of no real philosophical importance. In this concise and clearly written book, Lynch argues that we should reject both these extremes and hold that truth is a functional property. To (...) understand truth we must understand what it does, its function in our cognitive economy. Once we understand that, we'll see that this function can be performed in more than one way. And that in turn opens the door to an appealing pluralism: beliefs about the concrete physical world needn't be true in the same way as our thoughts about matters -- like morality -- where the human stain is deepest. (shrink)
Is truth objective or relative? What exists independently of our minds? The essays in this book debate these two questions, which are among the oldest of philosophical issues and have vexed almost every major philosopher, from Plato, to Kant, to Wittgenstein. Fifteen eminent contributors bring fresh perspectives, renewed energy, and original answers to debates of great interest both within philosophy and in the culture at large.
A prevailing view in contemporary philosophy of mind is that zombies are logically possible. I argue, via a thought experiment, that if this prevailing view is correct, then I could be transformed into a zombie. If I could be transformed into a zombie, then surprisingly, I am not certain that I am conscious. Regrettably, this is not just an idiosyncratic fact about my psychology; I think you are in the same position. This means that we must revise or replace some (...) important positions in the philosophy of mind. We could embrace radical skepticism about our own consciousness, or maintain the complete and total infallibility of our beliefs about our own phenomenal experiences. I argue that we should actually reject the logical possibility of zombies. (shrink)
This paper analyses the topic of representation since the point of view of ethnomethodology and sociology of scientific knowledge. It starts out by discussing the “standard image of representation” and the constructivist proposition of that image. Then, a case of study is presented to suggest how practices for collecting and analyzing forensic evidence in criminal law, can contribute to understand representational adequacy. The aim of this paper is to think differently about representantion considering how it is produced, managed and deconstructed. (...) Since this point of view, the propositions is to consider representation not only as a problematic epistemological concept but also as a practical accomplishment in specific epistemic cultures. (shrink)
This paper examines the English case, Regina v Adams in which the difference between "scientific reason" and "common sense" was explicitly at stake in the use of DNA evidence. In its decision the Appellate Court reinstated a boundary between "scientific" and "common sense" evidence, arguing that this boundary was necessary to preserve the jury's role as trier of fact. The paper's discussion of the court's work of demarcation addresses the unresolved problems with the place of probability estimates in jury trials.
Pluralism about truth is the view that there is more than one way for a proposition to be true. When taken to imply that there is more than one concept and property of truth, this position faces a number of troubling objections. I argue that we can overcome these objections, and yet retain pluralism's key insight, by taking truth to be a multiply realizable property of propositions.
In a series of papers written over the last two decades, Terence Horgan has articulated a radical position on truth and metaphysics that he calls contextual semantics. According to Horgan, we can abandon referentialism – or the idea that truth is always and everywhere understood in terms of the referential relations between words and world – while still sensibly believing in a mind-independent world. The centerpiece of contextual semantics is that it allows for some flexibility about truth: statements of different (...) sorts can be true in different ways depending on the degree to which they correspond to the world. In this paper, I explore the consequences of this position.While I believe that contextual semantics has significant advantages, there is a deep tension between Horgan'stolerance of more than one kind of truth and his belief in one type of reality – a tension that threatens to undermine the entire position. (shrink)
This paper discusses recent neuroscientific research that indicates a solution for what we label the ''causal problem'' of pain qualia, the problem of how the brain generates pain qualia. In particular, the data suggest that pain qualia naturally supervene on activity in a specific brain region: the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). The first section of this paper discusses several philosophical concerns regarding the nature of pain qualia. The second section overviews the current state of knowledge regarding the neuroanatomy and physiology (...) of pain processing. The third section highlights the recent research by Rainville et al. [(1997) Pain affect encoded in human anterior cingulate but not somatosensory cortex, Science, 277, 968-971], which suggests that pain affect is encoded in the ACC. The final section of the paper spells out exactly how these data affect the causal problem of pain qualia. (shrink)
Ethnomethodologists (or at least many of them) have been reticent about their theoretical sources and methodological principles. It frequently falls to others to make such matters explicit. In this paper I discuss this silence about theory, but rather than entering the breach by specifying a set of implicit assumptions and principles, I suggest that the reticence is consistent with ethnomethodology's distinctive research 'program'. The main part of the paper describes the pedagogical exercises and forms of apprenticeship through which Garfinkel and (...) Sacks aimed to develop ethnomethodology as a practice. These efforts were not entirely successful, partly because ethnomethodological 'practice' required an engagement with other fully-fledged practices. Aside from the difficulties of mastering such practices, it was unclear what an ethnomethodological study would add to, or take from, them. Whether successful or not, ethnomethodological research points to the specificity of discourse and action in any given practice which a general theory is bound to misconstrue. Current disputes about cultural constructivist versions of natural science illustrate the problems that arise when the terms of a general theory are used to describe and evaluate specific domains of practice. The paper concludes by recommending ethnomethodology as a way to dissolve an unbridgeable gap between cultural theories and socially located practices. (shrink)
Despite widespread confusion over its meaning, the notion of a conceptual scheme is pervasive in Anglo-American philosophy, particularly amongst those who call themselves 'conceptual relativists'. In this paper, I identify three different ways to understand conceptual schemes. I argue that the two most common models, deriving from Kant and Quine, are flawed, and, in addition, useless for the relativist. Instead, I urge adoption of a 'neo-Kantian', broadly Wittgensteinian model, which, it is ' argued, is immune from Davidsonian objections to the (...) very idea of a scheme. (shrink)
A recurrent theme in ethnomethodological research is that of instructed actions. Contrary to the classic traditions in the social and cognitive sciences, which attribute logical priority or causal primacy to instructions, rules, and structures of action, ethnomethodologists investigate the situated production of actions which enable such formulations to stand as adequate accounts. Consequently, a recitation of formal structures can not count as an adequate sociological description, when no account is given of the local production ofwhat those structures describe. The natural (...) sciences can be described as a domain of practical action in whichthe use of methods enables the intersubjective reproduction of naturalistic observations and experiments. As numerous sociological studies of laboratory practices have shown, the achievement of intersubjective order cannot be reduced to formal methods; instead, it arises from the work of custom-fitting relevant methods to the local circumstances of the research. In this paper we discuss a possible extension of this idea to cover two intertwined aspects of molecular biology: (1) the work of following instructions on how to perform routine laboratory procedures, and (2) the relationship between cellular orders and the encoded instructions contained in the DNA molecule. We suggest that a classic conception of scientific action is implied by the way formal instructions are treated as a primary basis, both for molecular biologists' actions and the cellular functions they study, and we envision an ethnomethodological alternative to those conceptions of social and biological order. (shrink)
Philosophers, historians, and sociologists of science have grown interested in the daily practices of scientists. Recent studies have drawn linkages between scientific innovations and more ordinary procedures, craft skills, and sources of sponsorship. These studies dispute the idea that science is the application of a unified method or the outgrowth of a progressive history of ideas. This book critically reviews arguments and empirical studies in two areas of sociology that have played a significant role in the 'sociological turn' in science (...) studies: ethnomethodology (the study of ordinary practical reasoning) and the sociology of scientific knowledge. In both fields, efforts to study scientific practices have led to intractable difficulties and debates, due in part to scientistic and foundationalist commitments that remain entrenched with social-scientific research policies and descriptive language. The central purpose of this book is to explore the possibility of an empirical approach to the epistemic contents of science that avoids the pitfalls of scientism and foundationalism. (shrink)
This paper builds upon ethnomethodological and social constructivist studies of representation in the natural sciences to examine sociological theory, a field that is much closer to home. An analysis of diagrams and related illustrations in theory texts shows that labels, geometric boundaries, vectors, and symmetries often are used to convey a sense of orderly flows of causal influences in a homogeneous field. These graphic elements make up what I call a "rhetorical mathematics" that conveys an impression of rationality. Although theory (...) pictures rarely show much beyond what a text already says in its writing, they simulate a hermeneutic passage from written ideas to an independent representational or mathematical space. The paper discusses two modes of textual disruption of the rhetorical mathematics of theory pictures: parody and deconstruction. Parody makes ironic use of graphic devices in order to expose the rationalistic associations that come with the territory. Deconstruction displaces (and, if taken far enough, dissolves entirely) the Flatland of pictorial rationality. These negative maneuvers raise the possibility of using figural space for alternative modes of sociological inquiry. (shrink)
Sociologists, philosophers and historians of science are gradually recognizing the importance of visual representation. This is part of a more general movement away from a theory-centric view of science and towards an interest in practical aspects of observation and experimentation. Rather than treating science as a matter of demonstrating the logical connection between theoretical and empirical statements, an increasing number of investigations are examining how scientists compose and use diagrams, graphs, photographs, micrographs, maps, charts, and related visual displays. This paper (...) focuses on diagrams in biology, and tries to demonstrate how diagrams are an integral part of the production of scientific knowledge. In order to disclose some of the distinctive practical and analytical uses of diagrams, the paper contrasts the way diagrams and photographs are used in biological texts. Both diagrams and photographs are shown to be “constructions” that separately and together mediate the investigation of scientific phenoman. (shrink)
For a writing to be a writing it must continue to "act" and to be readable even when what is called the author of the writing no longer answers for what he has written, for what he seems to have signed, be it because of a temporary absence, because he is dead or, more generally, because he has not employed his absolutely actual and present intention or attention, the plenitude of his desire to say what he means, in order to (...) sustain what seems to be written "in his name" (Derrida 1988, p. 8). Ein Buch ist ein spiegel; wenn ein Affe hineinguckt, so kann freilich kein Apostel heraussehen (A book is a mirror; if an ape peers into it an apostle will never peer out.) (Lichtenberg 1949, p. 297). (shrink)
This paper was presented at a session on "Three views of experiment: Atomic parity violations," in which Allan Franklin's study of an episode in the recent history of particle physics was discussed and criticized. Franklin argues in favor of what he calls "the evidence model," a general claim to the effect that physicists' theory choices are based on valid experimental evidence. He contrasts his position to that of the social constructivists, who, according to him, insist that social and cognitive interests, (...) and not the evidence, explains physicists' practical and theoretical judgments. My paper argues that Franklin miscasts the debate between experimental realism and social constructivism, because constructivists do not insist that evidence has no role whatsoever in experimental practice. My position draws lessons from Wittgenstein's later philosophy and ethnomethodological studies of scientific practices. The paper does not aim to support social constructivism against Franklin's arguments, so much as to suggest that the terms of the realist-constructivist debate provide a poor context for the examination of the temporal production of experiments and observations. (shrink)