When an agent performs an action because she takes something as a reason to do so, does she take it as a normative reason for the action or as an explanatory reason? In Reasons Without Rationalism, Setiya criticizes the normative view and advances a version of the explanatory view. I defend a version of the normative view against Setiya's criticisms and show that Setiya's explanatory account has two major flaws: it raises questions that it cannot answer about the occurrence of (...) one motivational ?because? within the scope of another; and it cannot accommodate the fact that, if an agent can φ for the reason that p, then she could take p as a reason to φ without φ-ing. (shrink)
This essay is a reflection on the idea of truth-making and its applications. I respond to a critique of my 1986 paper on truth-making and discuss some key principles at play in the Truth-maker Program as it has emerged over the past 25 years, paying special attention to negative and general truths. I maintain my opposition to negative and general facts, but give an improved account of how to do without them. In the end, I accept Truth-maker Maximalism and a (...) weakened form of Truth-maker Necessitarianism, reject the assumption that truth-makers must be entities, and urge that the idea of a truth-maker be broadened and loosened so that it applies to anti-realistic as well as realistic truths. (shrink)
Abstract. Expressivism can make space for normative objectivity by treating normative stances as pro or con attitudes that can be correct or incorrect. And it can answer the logical challenges that bedevil it by treating a simple normative assertion not merely as an expression of a normative stance, but as an expression of the endorsement of a proposition that is true if and only if that normative stance is correct. Although this position has superficial similarities to normative realism, it does (...) full justice to the core expressivist thesis that, at bottom, a normative assertion expresses a normative stance rather than a factual belief. (shrink)
In order to establish that judgments about practical reasons can be objective, it is necessary to show that the applicable standards provide an adequate account of truth and error. This in turn requires that these standards yield an extensive set of substantive, publicly accessible judgments that are presumptively true. This output requirement is not satisfied by the standards of universalizability, consistency, coherence, and caution alone. But it is satisfied if we supplement them with the principle that desire is a source (...) of minimal reasons. This principle is justified despite currently fashionable arguments against the claims of desire. (shrink)
This article defends the view that nonlinguistic animals could be capable of thought (in the sense in which the mere possession of beliefs and desires is sufficient for thought). It is easy to identify flaws in Davidson's arguments for the thesis that thought depends upon language if one is open to the idea that some nonlinguistic animals have beliefs. It is, however, necessary to do more than this if one wishes to engage with the deeper challenge underlying Davidson's reasoning, viz., (...) that of providing a principled account of what it takes for a representer to qualify as a thinker. Heil attempts to construct a Davidsonian account on the basis of the hypothesis that the semantic opacity essential to thought is rooted in second-order representation (which Davidson ties to language), but it can be shown that second-order representation is neither necessary nor sufficient for opacity. A reasonable non-Davidsonian account of thought in terms of which sufficiently sophisticated nonlinguistic animals qualify as thinkers is, however, possible. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.21(3) 2002: 200-218. (shrink)
Traditional Marxists hold that capitalist modes of production are unjustly exploitative. In 'Self-Ownership, Freedom and Equality' G. A. Cohen argues that this ``exploitation charge'' commits traditional Marxists to the thesis that people own themselves (``self-ownership''). If so, then traditional Marxism is vulnerable to a libertarian challenge to its commitment to equality. Cohen, therefore, recommends that Marxists abandon the exploitation charge. This paper undermines Cohen's case for the alleged link between the exploitation charge and self-ownership primarily by defending an account of (...) the exploitation charge that does not involve self-ownership or compromise the Marxist commitment to equality. (shrink)
McDowell and Putnam are right to insist that objective knowledge is possible only because we are open to the world in perception, but neither of them offers an adequate account of the relationship between perception and perceptual judgments (which are at the core of our most fundamental knowledge of the world). This paper, intended as a contribution to the development of a sophisticated commonsense realism, proposes an account in terms of which perceptions acquire the status of perceptual judgments to the (...) extent that they are imbedded in and engaged with the high-level patterns of consciousness and reasoning characteristic of judgments. This in turn explains how the contents of perceptual judgments which are to be understood as refinements of contents of the relevant perceptions apply to a world that is largely independent of the perceiver and knower. (shrink)
A number of philosophers are committed to the view that sense experiences, in so far as they have contents, have propositional contents, but this is more often tacitly accepted than argued for in the literature. This paper explains the propositional account and presents a basic case in support of it in a simple and straightforward way which does not involve commitment to any specific philosophical theory of perception.