An approach is offered to the prediction and explanation of quantity implicata (implicata whose calculation depends upon adversion to Grices maxim of Quantity) that, unlike the majority of approaches available, does not construe Quantity as requiring speakers to make the strongest claim that their evidence permits. Central to the treatment offered is an elaboration of the notion of what a conversation requires as appealed to in the Cooperative Principle and in the Quantity maxim. What conversations require is construed as depending, (...) at any given point, upon (i) the aim(s) of the conversation taking place, (ii) the conversational record, which includes such features as common ground and salience relations among objects, and (iii) any proffered illocution calling for a reply. In accounting for this third dimension a partial characterization is provided of the speech acts of assertion and interrogation in terms of their role in constraining the progress of the conversation in which they occur. (shrink)
Frege’s celebrated distinction between judgments and their contents invites the Tractarian denigration of his assertion sign as merely indicating the holding or putting forth as true of a thought, for whatever its other merits the marking of such an event seems of little relevance to a thought’s inferential significance. However, in light of (a) Frege’s conception of a logically correct language serving inter alia as an organon for the acquisition or reconstruction of knowledge, and (b) his epistemic conception of inference, (...) it is argued that the sign of assertion is a device for distinguishing from all others those thoughts lying on the path of discovery. The drawing of such a distinction is then shown to be of inferential significance by elucidating Frege’s conception of inference as involving the acquisition or reconstruction of knowledge. Frege’s view of inference rules as codifying justificatory relations among judgments is then given an interpretation as making no undue use of psychological notions, and his denial that the assertion sign can have semantic content is shown to be mistaken but not in such a way as to frustrate the aim with which it is introduced. (shrink)
Purporting to show how Frege's contributions to philosophy of language and philosophical logic were developed with the aim of furthering his logicist programme, the author construes him as more systematic than is often recognized. Centrally, the notion of sense as espoused in Frege's monumental articles of the Nineties had only an ostensible justification as an account of the informativeness of a posteriori identity statements. In fact its rationale was to help articulate the thesis that arithmetical truth is analytic, since, it (...) is maintained, to sustain such a thesis the two sides of the identities at the heart of the logicist reconstruction must be shown to have the same sense. Yet the notion of sense required for the analyticity thesis was not, and could not have been, successfully deployed on behalf of Frege's logicism. For Frege also held that many arithmetical propositions, including, apparently, identities, are informative. But no proposition can be at once informative and analytic. Although systematic, Frege's work harbored a crucial internal tension. (shrink)
From the point of view of ethics, truthtelling is not a matter of speaking the truth but is rather a matter of speaking what one believes to be the truth. So too liars do not necessarily say what is false; they say what they believe to be false. Further, one can mislead without lying. An executive answering in the affirmative the question whether some employees are in excessive danger on the job will mislead if he knows that in fact most (...) employees are but does not say so. Yet he does not lie. Similarly there is no lie in an advertisement suggesting that those who use a certain product will win garner wealth and power. This article deals with the ethical and practical dimensions of truthtelling and lying only. (shrink)
This articles gives an overview of the main themes and arguments of _Self-Expression_ (OUP,2007; paper, 2011), and responds to some recent publications in which that book is discussed. In the process of these responses, the article provides refinements and elaborations on some of the book's central claims.
G. E. Moore famously observed that to assert ‘I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I do not believe that I did’ would be ‘absurd’. Moore calls it a ‘paradox’ that this absurdity persists despite the fact that what I say about myself might be true. Krista Lawlor and John Perry have proposed an explanation of the absurdity that confines itself to semantic notions while eschewing pragmatic ones. We argue that this explanation faces four objections. We give a better (...) explanation of the absurdity both in assertion and in belief that avoids our four objections. (shrink)
I argue that it is possible literally to perceive the emotions of others. This account depends upon the possibility of perceiving a whole by perceiving one or more of its parts, and upon the view that emotions are complexes. After developing this account, I expound and reply to Rowland Stout's challenge to it. Stout is nevertheless sympathetic with the perceivability-of-emotions view. I thus scrutinize Stout's suggestion for a better defence of that view than I have provided, and offer a refinement (...) of my own proposal that incorporates some of his insights. (shrink)
Speech acts are a staple of everyday communicative life, but only became a topic of sustained investigation, at least in the English-speaking world, in the middle of the Twentieth Century. Since that time “speech act theory” has been influential not only within philosophy, but also in linguistics, psychology, legal theory, artificial intelligence, literary theory and many other scholarly disciplines. Recognition of the importance of speech acts has illuminated the ability of language to do other things than describe reality. In the (...) process the boundaries among the philosophy of language, the philosophy of action, the philosophy of mind and even ethics have become less sharp. In addition, an appreciation of speech acts has helped lay bare an implicit normative structure within linguistic practice, including even that part of this practice concerned with describing reality. Much recent research aims at an accurate characterization of this normative structure underlying linguistic practice. (shrink)
I reply to the main criticisms and suggestions for further clarification made by the contributors to this symposium on my book, Self-Expression . These replies are organized into the following sections: (1) What's in the name?, (2) Showing, expressing and indicating, (3) Expressing and signaling, (4) Perceiving emotions, (5) Voluntary/involuntary, (6) Expression and handicaps, (7) Expression and aesthetics, and (8) Looking ahead.
Abstract: One oft-cited feature of speech acts is their expressive character: Assertion expresses belief, apology regret, promise intention. Yet expression, or at least sincere expression, is as I argue a form of showing: A sincere expression shows whatever is the state that is the sincerity condition of the expressive act. How, then, can a speech act show a speaker's state of thought or feeling? To answer this question I consider three varieties of showing, and argue that only one of them (...) is suited to help us answer our question. I also argue that concepts from the evolutionary biology of communication provide one source of insight into how speech acts enable one to show, and thereby express, a psychological state. (shrink)
This essay offers a constructive criticism of Part I of Davis’ Meaning, Expression and Thought. After a brief exposition, in Sect. 2, of the main points of the theory that will concern us, I raise a challenge in Sect. 3 for the characterization of expression that is so central to his program. I argue first of all that a sincere expression of a thought, feeling, or mood shows it. Yet attention to this fact reveals that it does not go without (...) saying how it is possible to show such things as thoughts, feelings or moods; we need an account of how this is possible, and I offer a partial such account in Sect. 4. Second, much of the attraction of Davis’ program depends on its ability to explain how linguistic meaning can be arrived at without covertly presupposing linguistic conventions. This in turn depends, in Davis’ hands, upon the claim that it is possible to express any of a wide range of ideas in the absence of conventions. I argue in Sect. 5 that the account of showing at which we will by then have arrived makes clear that Davis needs, and lacks, an explanation of how it is possible to do this. (shrink)
Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the University of Virginia and at Texas A&M University. I thank audiences at both institutions for their insightful comments. Special thanks to John Williams for his illuminating comments on an earlier draft. Research for this paper was supported in part by a Summer Grant from the Vice Provost for Research and Public Service at the University of Virginia. That support is here gratefully acknowledged.
Angle Grinder Man removes wheel locks from cars in London.1 He is something of a folk hero, saving drivers from enormous parking and towing ﬁ nes, and has succeeded thus far in eluding the authorities. In spite of his cape and lamé tights, he is no ﬁ ction; he’s a real person. By contrast, Pegasus, Zeus and the like are ﬁ ctions. None of them is real. In fact, not only is each of them different from the others, all differ (...) from Angle Grinder Man. After all, Zeus throws thunderbolts but doesn’t remove boots from cars; unlike Superman, Angle Grinder Man couldn’t leap over a parked Mini, and all sightings suggest that he is a human being, not a horse. According to the charmingly austere theory of Direct Reference, a proper name’s meaning is simply its referent.2 Two proper names with.. (shrink)
Angle Grinder Man removes wheel locks from cars in London.1 He is something of a folk hero, saving drivers from enormous parking and towing ﬁ nes, and has succeeded thus far in eluding the authorities. In spite of his cape and lamé tights, he is no ﬁ ction; he’s a real person. By contrast, Pegasus, Zeus and the like are ﬁ ctions. None of them is real. In fact, not only is each of them different from the others, all differ (...) from Angle Grinder Man. After all, Zeus throws thunderbolts but doesn’t remove boots from cars; unlike Superman, Angle Grinder Man couldn’t leap over a parked Mini, and all sightings suggest that he is a human being, not a horse. (shrink)
Mitchell S. Green presents a systematic philosophical study of self-expression - a pervasive phenomenon of the everyday life of humans and other species, which has received scant attention in its own right. He explores the ways in which self-expression reveals our states of thought, feeling, and experience, and he defends striking new theses concerning a wide range of fascinating topics: our ability to perceive emotion in others, artistic expression, empathy, expressive language, meaning, facial expression, and speech acts. He draws on (...) insights from evolutionary game theory, ethology, the philosophy of language, social psychology, pragmatics, aesthetics, and neuroscience to present a stimulating and accessible interdisciplinary work. (shrink)
G. E. Moore observed that to assert, 'I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don't believe that I did' would be 'absurd'. Over half a century later, such sayings continue to perplex philosophers. In the definitive treatment of the famous paradox, Green and Williams explain its history and relevance and present new essays by leading thinkers in the area.
This brief book introduces students and general readers to philosophy through core questions and topics -- particularly those involving ethics, the existence of God, free will, the relation of mind and body, and what it is to be a person. It also features a chapter on reasoning, both theoretical and practical, that develops an account of both cogent logical reasoning and rational decision-making. Throughout, the emphasis is on initiating newcomers to philosophy through rigorous yet lively consideration of some of the (...) most fundamental questions a thinking person can ask. (publisher, edited). (shrink)
A major theme in rap lyrics is that the only way to survive is to use your head, be aware, know what’s going on around you. That simple idea packs a lot of background. The most obvious ideas about knowledge turn out if you look at them close up to be pretty questionable. For example: How do we get knowledge about the world? A natural and ancient answer to this question is that much if not all of our knowledge comes (...) from our senses. So for example the nose gives us knowledge of what things smell like, and if all goes well, also indicates whether the thing we’re smelling is healthy, tasty, or noxious. Likewise, the eyes tell us the color and shape of things, and thereby give us information about whether those things are useful, dangerous, and so on. Like everybody else, rappers know all this. Or do they? Maybe some rappers know that this isn’t really so. I’m not talking about Extra-Sensory Perception, channeling, auras, or about what.. (shrink)
A major theme in rap lyrics is that the only way to survive is to use your head, be aware, know whats going on around you. That simple idea packs a lot of background. The most obvious ideas about knowledge turn out if you look at them close up to be pretty questionable. For example: How do we get knowledge about the world? A natural and ancient answer to this question is that much if not all of our knowledge comes (...) from our senses. So for example the nose gives us knowledge of what things smell like, and if all goes well, also indicates whether the thing were smelling is healthy, tasty, or noxious. Likewise, the eyes tell us the color and shape of things, and thereby give us information about whether those things are useful, dangerous, and so on. Like everybody else, rappers know all this. Or do they? Maybe some rappers know that this isnt really so. (shrink)
Williams and the many studies she considers appear to assume that voluntary amplification in facial expression of pain implies dissimulation. In fact, the behavioral ecology model of pain expression is consistent with amplification when subjects in pain are in the presence of others disposed to render aid, and that amplification may well be voluntary.
According to many forms of Externalism now popular in the Philosophy of Mind, the contents of our thoughts depend in part upon our physical or social milieu.1 These forms of Externalism leave unchallenged the thesis that the ~non-factive! attitudes we bear towards these contents are independent of physical or social milieu. This paper challenges that thesis. It is argued here that publicly forwarding a content as a supposition for the sake of argument is, under conditions not themselves guaranteeing the existence (...) of that state, sufficient for occupancy of the intentional state of supposing that content. Because a saying may literally create an intentional state, whether one is in such a state does not depend solely upon how things are within one’s skin. Rather, even leaving content fixed, the attitude borne toward that content depends in part upon what norms are in force in one’s milieu. (shrink)
The relation between two systems of attitude ascription that capture all the empirically significant aspects of an agents thought and speech may be analogous to that between two systems of magnitude ascription that are equivalent relative to a transformation of scale. If so, just as an objects weighing eight pounds doesnt relate that object to the number eight (for a different but equally good scale would use a different number), similarly an agents believing that P need not relate her to (...) P (for a different but equally adequate interpretive scheme could use a different proposition). In either case the only reality picked out by any system of ascription is what is common to all equivalent rivals. By emphasizing some contrasts between decision theory and belief-desire psychology, it is argued that if attitude ascription is appropriately analogous to measurement then not only is being related to a proposition an artifact of the system of representation chosen, so are belief and desire. (shrink)
Over the last two decades J.N. Williams has developed an account of the absurdity of such utterances as Its raining but I dont believe it that is both intuitively plausible and applicable to a wide variety of forms that this so-called Moorean absurdity can take. His approach is also noteworthy for making only minimal appeal to principles of epistemic or doxastic logic in its account of such absurdity. We first show that Williams places undue emphasis upon assertion and belief: It (...) is similarly absurd for a person to accept a proposition P as a supposition for the sake of argument while denying that her state of mind is one of supposing P, yet Williams has no account of this. Williams approach is then modified to account for such a case. That modification employs a principle of doxastic logic that is at least plausible as the one on which Williams relies, while being unlike his principle in applying to cases other than belief. (shrink)
On some formulations of Direct Reference the semantic value, relative to a context of utterance, of a rigid singular term is just its referent. In response to the apparent possibility of a difference in truth value of two sentences just alike save for containing distinct but coreferential rigid singular terms, some proponents of Direct Reference have held that any two such sentences differ only pragmatically. Some have also held, more specifically, that two such sentences differ by conveying distinct conversational implicata, (...) and that a conflation of implicatum with semantic content leads speakers to judge such sentences capable of differing in truth value. It is argued here that this latter defense of Direct Reference employs false explanans, on the ground that speakers conflate semantic content with implicatum only in quite special cases, and we have independent grounds for thinking that sentences reporting speech acts and attitudes are not cases of this sort. (shrink)
Frege and many following him, such as Dummett, Geach, Stenius and Hare, have envisaged a role for illocutionary force indicators in a logically perpspicuous notation. Davidson has denied that such expressions are even possible on the ground that any putative force indicator would be used by actors and jokers to heighten the drama of their performances. Davidson infers from this objection a Thesis of the Autonomy of Linguistic Meaning: symbolic representation necessarily breaks any close tie with extra-linguistic purpose. A modified (...) version of Frege's ideal is here propounded according to which all expression is a force indicator just in case it indicates force in any speech act in which it occurs. It is shown that attainment of such an ideal would not have deprived Frege of what he desired of a perspicuous notation. In elaborating this ideal we also espouse an illocutionary conception of validity and argue that the ideal is one to which English conforms: parenthetical speech act verbs in the first person present indicative active are force indicators in the modified sense. But the mere possibility of force indicators in the modified sense is enough to show Davidson's Autonomy Thesis to be at best at half-truth. (shrink)
Grice's Quantity maxims have been widely misinterpreted as enjoining a speaker to make the strongest claim that she can, while respecting the other conversational maxims. Although many writers on the topic of conversational implicature interpret the Quantity maxims as enjoining such volubility, so construed the Quantity maxims are unreasonable norms for conversation. Appreciating this calls for attending more closely to the notion of what a conversation requires. When we do so, we see that eschewing an injunction to maximal informativeness need (...) not deprive us of any ability to predict or explain genuine cases of implicature. Crucial to this explanation is an appreciation of how what a conversation, or a given stage of a conversation, requires, depends upon what kind of conversation is taking place. I close with an outline of this dependence relation that distinguishes among three importantly distinct types of conversation. (shrink)
In Belief and the Will, van Fraassen employed a diachronic Dutch Book argument to support a counterintuitive principle called Reflection. There and subsequently van Fraassen has put forth Reflection as a linchpin for his views in epistemology and the philosophy of science, and for the voluntarism (first-person reports of subjective probability are undertakings of commitments) that he espouses as an alternative to descriptivism (first-person reports of subjective probability are merely self-descriptions). Christensen and others have attacked Reflection, taking it to have (...) unpalatable consequences. We prescind from the question of the cogency of diachronic Dutch Book arguments, and focus on Reflection's proper interpretation. We argue that Reflection is not as counterintuitive as it appears — that once interpreted properly the status of the counterexamples given by Christensen and others is left open. We show also that descriptivism can make sense of Reflection, while voluntarism is not especially well suited to do so. (shrink)