Reason is precariously positioned in the Critique of Pure Reason. The Transcendental Analytic leaves no entry for reason in the cognitive process, and the Transcendental Dialectic restricts reason to noncognitive roles. Yet, in the Appendix to the Transcendental Dialectic, Kant contends that the ideas of reason can be used in empirical investigation and eventually knowledge acquisition. Given what Kant has said, how is this possible? Kant attempts to answer this in A663–A666/B691–B694 in the Appendix, where he argues that principles of (...) reason “have objective but indeterminate validity.” In Part I of this paper, I explain the full motivation behind this section. In Part II, I provide an exegesis of it. In particular, to reach his conclusion that principles of reason have objective but indeterminate validity, I interpret Kant as making three arguments from analogy. Finally, in Part III, I show that the first and third arguments fail—and what this means for Kant’s project. (shrink)
W. V. Quine famously argues that though all knowledge is empirical, mathematics is entrenched relative to physics and the special sciences. Further, entrenchment accounts for the necessity of mathematics relative to these other disciplines. Michael Friedman challenges Quine’s view by appealing to historicism, the thesis that the nature of science is illuminated by taking into account its historical development. Friedman argues on historicist grounds that mathematical claims serve as principles constitutive of languages within which empirical claims in physics and the (...) special sciences can be formulated and tested, where these mathematical claims are themselves not empirical but conventional. For Friedman, their conventional, constitutive status accounts for the necessity of mathematics relative to these other disciplines. Here I evaluate Friedman’s challenge to Quine and Quine’s likely response. I then show that though we have reason to find Friedman’s challenge successful, his positive project requires further development before we can endorse it. (shrink)
Some opponents of the incommensurability thesis, such as Davidson and Rorty, have argued that the very idea of incommensurability is incoherent and that the existence of alternative and incommensurable conceptual schemes is a conceptual impossibility. If true, this refutes Kuhnian relativism and Kantian scepticism in one fell swoop. For Kuhnian relativism depends on the possibility of alternative, humanly accessible conceptual schemes that are incommensurable with one another, and the Kantian notion of a realm of unknowable things-in-themselves gives rise to the (...) possibility of humanly inaccessible schemes that are incommensurable with even our best current or future science. In what follows we argue that the possibility of incommensurability of either the Kuhnian or the Kantian variety is inescapable and that this conclusion is forced upon us by a simple consideration of what is involved in acquiring a concept. It turns out that the threats from relativism and scepticism are real, and that anyone, including Davidson himself, who has ever defended an account of concept acquisition is committed to one or the other of these two possibilities.1. (shrink)
Donald Davidson used triangulation to do everything from explicate psychological and semantic externalism, to attack relativism and skepticism, to propose conditions necessary for thought and talk. At one point Davidson tried to bring order to these remarks by identifying three kinds of triangulation, each operative in a different situation. Here I take seriously Davidson’s talk of triangular situations and extend it. I start by describing Davidson’s situations. Next I establish the surprising result that considerations from one situation entail the possibility (...) that at any one time one language is partially untranslatable into another. Because the possibility is time-indexed, it need not conflict with Davidson’s own argument against the possibility of untranslatability. I derive the result, not to indict Davidson, but to propose a new kind of triangulation, the reconciliation of untranslatability, which I investigate. Insofar as triangulation is central to Davidson’s views, getting a handle on his various triangular situations is key to getting a handle on his contributions to philosophy. Insofar as those contributions have enriched our understanding of how language, thought, and reality interrelate, extending Davidson’s model promises to extend our understanding too. (shrink)
The recent publication of a third anthology of Donald Davidson’s articles, and anticipated publication of two more, encourages a consideration of themes binding together Davidson’s lifetime of research. One such theme is the principle of charity (PC). In light of the mileage Davidson gets out of PC, I propose a careful examination of PC itself. In Part 1, I consider some ways in which Davidson articulates PC. In Part 2, I show that the articulation that Davidson requires in his work (...) on epistemology is untenable given what Davidson says in his work on semanties. I conclude that Davidson can use PC only in his work on semantics or not at all.La parution récente du troisième recueil d’articles de Donald Davidson, lequel devrait être suivi de deux autres, incite à examiner les thèmes qui traversent tous ses travaux. Parmi ces thèmes se trouve le principe de charité (PC). Considérant tout le parti que Davidson a tiré du PC, je me propose d’en faire un examen attentif. Dans la première partie, j’examine diverses formulations du PC par Davidson. Dansla seconde partie, je montre que la formulation qu’exigent ses travaux d’épistémologie est intenable étant donné ce qu’ll en dit dans ses travaux de sémantique. De là, je conclus que Davidson ne peut se servir du PC que dans ses travaux de sémantique ou pas du tout. (shrink)
The publication of Davidson 2001, anthologizing articles from the 1980s and 1990s, encourages reconsidering arguments contained in them. One such argument is Davidsonâs omniscient-interpreter argument (âOIAâ) in Davidson 1983. The OIA allegedly establishes that it is necessary that most beliefs are true. Thus the omniscient interpreter, revived in 2001 and now 20 years old, was born to answer the skeptic. In Part I of this paper, I consider charges that the OIA establishes only that it is possible that most beliefs (...) are true; if correct, then it is also possibly the case that most beliefs are falseâthe skepticâs very position. Next, I consider two responses on Davidsonâs behalf, showing that each fails. In Part II, I show that the OIA establishes neither that it is necessarily merely possibly but actually the case that most beliefs are true. I then conclude that this is enough to answer the skeptic. (shrink)
The idea that there are conceptual schemes, relative to which we conceptualize experience, and empirical content, the “raw” data of experience that get conceptualized through our conceptual schemes into beliefs or sentences, is not new. The idea that there are neither conceptual schemes nor empirical content, however, is. Moreover, it is so new, that only four arguments have so far been given against this dualism, with Donald Davidson himself presenting versions of all four. In this paper, I show that in (...) both the general and Davidson’s specific form the first three arguments against scheme-content dualism rely on the fourth. From many there is just one. Then I show that the fate of the first three arguments against scheme-content dualism hangs on that of the fourth. Finally I present four reasons why the fourth argument fails. For the sake of the dualism’s detractors, therefore, one can only hope that forthcoming arguments against scheme-content dualism fare better than those given so far. (shrink)
Abstract Thomas Kuhn is the most famous historian and philosopher of science of the last century. He is also among the most controversial. Since Kuhn?s death, his corpus has been interpreted, systematized, and defended. Here I add to this endeavor in a novel way by arguing that Kuhn can be interpreted as a global response-dependence theorist. He can be understood as connecting all concepts and terms in an a priori manner to responses of suitably situated subjects to objects in the (...) world. Further, I claim, this interpretation is useful for three reasons. First, it allows us to systematize and defend Kuhn?s views. We can therefore better appreciate him as a thinker in his own right. Second, it deepens our understanding of both the uniqueness of Kuhn?s views and the continuity of those views with those of others. We can therefore better appreciate his place in history. And third, as I explain in the paper, my interpretation affords us the only example of an ethnocentric global response-dependence theory. We can therefore better appreciate the versatility of response-dependence itself. (shrink)
Happy accidents happen even in philosophy. Sometimes our arguments yield insights despite missing their target, though when they do others can often spot it more easily. Consider the work of Donald Davidson. Few did more to explore connections among mind, language, and world. Now that we have critical distance from his views, however, we can see that Davidson’s accomplishments are not quite what they seem. First, while Davidson attacked the dualism of conceptual scheme and empirical content, he in fact illustrated (...) a way to hold it. Second, while Davidson used the principle of charity to argue against the dualism, his argument in effect treats the principle as constitutive of a conceptual scheme. And third, while Davidson asserted that he cannot define what truth ultimately is—and while I do not disagree—his work nonetheless allows us to saymore about truth than Davidson himself does. -/- I aim to establish these three claims. Doing so enriches our understanding of issues central to the history of philosophy concerning how, if at all, to divvy up the mental or linguistic contribution, and the worldly contribution, to knowledge. As we see below, Davidson was right in taking his work to be one stage of a dialectic begun by Immanuel Kant.1 He was just wrong about what that stage is. Reconsidering Davidson’s views also moves the current debate forward, as they reveal a previously unrecognized yet intuitive notion of truth—even if Davidson himself remained largely unaware of it. We begin however with scheme/content dualism and Davidson’s argument against it. (shrink)
Philosophers disagree about how meaning connects with history. Donald Davidson, who helped deepen our understanding of meaning, even disagreed with himself. As Ernest Lepore and Kirk Ludwig note, Davidson’s account of radical interpretation treats meaning as ahistorical; his Swampman thought experiment treats it as historical. Here I show that while Lepore and Ludwig are right that Davidson’s views are in tension, they are wrong about its extent. Unbeknownst to them, Davidson’s account of radical interpretation and Swampman thought experiment both rely—in (...) different ways—on the same model of triangulation.I revise one of those ways to resolve the tension within Davidson’s views. I close by detailing what role history should play in Davidson’s views overall. (shrink)
Contemporary discussions on the nature of time begin with McTaggart, who introduces the distinction between what he takes to be the only two possible realist theories of time: the A-theory, maintaining that past, present, and future are absolute; and the B-theory, maintaining that they are relative. McTaggart argues against both theories to conclude that time is not real. In this paper, I reconstruct his argument against the A-theory. Then, I show that this argument is flawed. Finally, I draw a lesson (...) for those engaged in contemporary discussions on the nature of time. (shrink)
In this paper I illustrate how a basic kind of universal rationality can be profitably combined with undeniable instances of relativism. I do so by engaging Michael Friedman’s recent response to a challenge from Thomas Kuhn.
In Relying on others [Goldberg, S. 2010a. Relying on others: An essay in epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press], I argued that, from the perspective of an interest in epistemic assessment, the testimonial belief-forming process should be regarded as interpersonally extended. At the same time, I explicitly rejected the extendedness model for beliefs formed through reliance on a mere mechanism, such as a clock. In this paper, I try to bolster my defense of this asymmetric treatment. I argue that a (...) crucial assumption lying behind the argument I used to establish interpersonal extendedness in testimony cases does not apply to beliefs formed through reliance on instruments. In this respect, at least, there appears to be something epistemically distinctive about relying on another epistemic agent. (shrink)
Sanford Goldberg argues that a proper account of the communication of knowledge through speech has anti-individualistic implications for both epistemology and the philosophy of mind and language. In Part 1 he offers a novel argument for anti-individualism about mind and language, the view that the contents of one's thoughts and the meanings of one's words depend for their individuation on one's social and natural environment. In Part 2 he discusses the epistemic dimension of knowledge communication, arguing that the epistemic (...) characteristics of communication-based beliefs depend on features of the cognitive and linguistic acts of the subject's social peers. In acknowledging an ineliminable social dimension to mind, language, and the epistemic categories of knowledge, justification, and rationality, his book develops fundamental links between externalism in the philosophy of mind and language, on the one hand, and externalism is epistemology, on the other. (shrink)
Within the Judeo-Christian tradition, Sodom and Gomorrah represent locales in which threats to national formation are couched in sexual terms. The biblical narrative insists on a particular social invisibility for those sexual activities not blessed by the bonds of matrimony. Reclaiming Sodom surveys a number of institutions that have had an interest in perpetuating these views: the police, the state, the church and the law. The collection ranges through biblical scholarship, an investigation of the Founding Fathers' beliefs, the legal mobilization (...) towards the category of sodomy in 18th and 19th century England, and the US Supreme Court's 1986 Bowers vs. Hardwick decision. Analysis is provided of the ways in which the Judeo-Christian tradition has shaped anthropological accounts of the same-sex practices of non-Western people, as well as essays on how colonial gestures have marked lesbian identity in the Carribean, and derformed narratives about the racial geography of AIDS. Reclaiming Sodom explores alternatives to the force of the Sodomitic biblical narrative in Islamic, non-western, and western traditions, and discusses the ways in which sodomy calls into question normative definitions of sexuality and gender. The collection pursues the "pleasures and dangers" of these alternatives, and takes on Proust's refusal to imagine a social movement founded on the "stigma" of Sodom. The collection examines the relations between sex/gender identities and sexual acts in important and provocative ways, and argues for the political use and usefulness of both Sodom and sodomy. Reclaiming Sodom makes an important and controversial contribution to the literature on sexuality and gender, as well as the nature of sex in our culture. Contributors: Dorothy Allison, Robert Alter, Neil Bartlett, Leo Bersani, Gerald Creed, Marc Daniel, Lee Edelman, Janet E. Halley, Jonathan Ned Katz, Pierre Klossowski, Rocky O'Donovan, Guy Hocquenghem, Cindy Patton, Marquis de Sade, David Shannon, Makeda Silver, Jonathan Goldberg. (shrink)
We tend to take the phenomenon of humour for granted, seeing it for the most part as something innately and fundamentally human. However we might go even further than this, and say that the phenomenon of humour is perceived as an essential part of what makes us human. In this respect, philosophers and theorists as wide apart as Aristotle and the French, feminist Julia Kristeva (1980; also see Goldberg, 1999a) have regarded a baby's ability to laugh as one of (...) the earliest signs of the separation of 'self' from 'other', a reciprocal process deemed to be crucial to the formation of a separate identity. However, although the general importance of humour might be agreed amongst researchers, what theoretical position one takes will have a profound effect on how one approaches and analyses humour. In much psychological research the focus tends to be on how humour works, i.e., syntax, semantic categories, sex differences, personality types, etc., and one finds a frustrating neglect of what is actually meant by the term 'humour' in terms of history and emergences. Consequently, an important question tends to go unchallenged: Is humour some unproblematic innate human ability, or, a socially defined concept that has changed and mutated alongside our understanding of what is means to be person ? In an attempt to grapple with this question, the following genealogical account is less concerned with fathoming out how humour works than with relating it to notions of human subjectivity, or how theories of humor have informed and reflected social constructs of what it means to be a 'subject'. (shrink)
The following three propositions appear to be individually defensible but jointly inconsistent: (1) reliability is a necessary condition on epistemic justification; (2) on contested matters in philosophy, my beliefs are not reliably formed; (3) some of these beliefs are epistemically justified. I explore the nature and scope of the problem, examine and reject some candidate solutions, compare the issue with ones arising in discussions about disagreement, and offer a brief assessment of our predicament.
Two classes of argument, logical and moral, are usually offered for the general assumption that racism is inherently irrational. The logical arguments involve accusations concerning stereotyping (category mistakes and empirical errors resulting from overgeneralization) as well as inconsistencies between attitudes and behavior and inconsistencies in beliefs. Moral arguments claim that racism fails as means to well-defined ends, or that racist acts achieve ends other than moral ones. Based on a rationality-neutral definition of racism, it is argued in this article that (...) none of these arguments establish exhaustively that racism is inherently irrational. Ways are suggested to proceed in condemning racism(s) as morally and socially unacceptable, independent of the irrationality claim. (shrink)
Miranda Fricker's Epistemic Injustice is a wide-ranging and important book on a much-neglected topic: the injustice involved in cases in which distrust arises out of prejudice. Fricker has some important things to say about this sort of injustice: its nature, how it arises, what sustains it, and the unhappy outcomes associated with it for the victim and the society in which it takes place. In the course of developing this account, Fricker also develops an account of the epistemology of testimony. (...) Focusing my attention on that account, my central claims are two. First, at least some of Fricker's arguments against existing (inferentialist and non-inferentialist) views in the epistemology of testimony are less than fully persuasive, and the (non-inferentialist) view she ends up endorsing is not all that different from the views she criticizes. Second, her reasons for harboring doubts regarding the role of a principle of default entitlement within a non-inferentialist account are not persuasive. Neither of these claims affects the overall argument Fricker is trying to run. Rather, they suggest that Fricker may have picked more fights than she needed to in the epistemology of testimony. If so, we have reason to detach Fricker's important work on epistemic injustice from some of the details of the story she tells regarding the epistemology of testimony. (shrink)
In this paper I argue, first, that the most influential (and perhaps only acceptable) account of the epistemology of self-knowledge, developed and defended at great length in Wright (1989b) and (1989c) (among other places), leaves unanswered a question about the psychology of self-knowledge; second, that without an answer to this question about the psychology of self-knowledge, the epistemic account cannot be considered acceptable; and third, that neither Wright's own answer, nor an interpretation-based answer (based on a proposal from Jacobsen (1997)), (...) will suffice as an acceptable answer to the psychological question. My general ambition is thus to establish that more work is needed if we are to have a full account of self-knowledge in both its epistemological and psychological aspects. I conclude by suggesting how my thesis bears on those who aim to provide an empirical account of the cognition involved in self-knowledge. (shrink)
This commentary aims to highlight what exactly is controversial about the traditional Universal Grammar (UG) hypothesis and what is not. There is widespread agreement that we are not born that language universals exist, that grammar exists, and that adults have domain-specific representations of language. The point of contention is whether we should assume that there exist unlearned syntactic universals that are arbitrary and specific to Language.
In this paper I characterize the problem of first-person authority as it confronts the proponent of the belief box conception of belief, and I develop the groundwork for a belief box account of that authority. If acceptable, the belief box account calls into question (by undermining a popular motivation for) the thesis that first-person authority is not to be traced to a truth-tracking relation between first-person opinions themselves and the beliefs which they are about.
In Sven Bernecker’s excellent new book, Memory, he proposes an account of what we might call the metasemantics of memory: the conditions that determine the contents of the mental representations employed in memory. Bernecker endorses a pastist externalist view, according to which the content of a memory-constituting representation is fixed, in part, by the external conditions prevalent at the (past) time of the tokening of the original representation (the one from which the memory-constituting one is causally derived). Bernecker argues that (...) the best version of a pastist externalism about memory contents will have the result that there can be semantically-induced memory losses in cases involving unwitting world-switching . The burden of this paper is to show that Bernecker’s argument for this conclusion does not succeed. My arguments on this score have implications for our picture of mind-world relations, as these are reflected in a subject’s attempts to recall her past thoughts. (shrink)
Most explorations of the epistemic implications of Semantic Anti- Individualism (SAI) focus on issues of self-knowledge (first-person au- thority) and/or external-world skepticism. Less explored has been SAIs implications forthe epistemology of reasoning. In this paperI argue that SAI has some nontrivial implications on this score. I bring these out by reflecting on a problem first raised by Boghossian (1992). Whereas Boghos- sians main interest was in establishing the incompatibility of SAI and the a priority of logical abilities (Boghossian 1992: 22), (...) I argue that Boghossians argument is better interpreted as pointing to SAIs implications for the na- ture of discursive justification. (shrink)
Do computers have beliefs? I argue that anyone who answers in the affirmative holds a view that is incompatible with what I shall call the commonsense approach to the propositional attitudes. My claims shall be two. First,the commonsense view places important constraints on what can be acknowledged as a case of having a belief. Second, computers – at least those for which having a belief would be conceived as having a sentence in a belief box – fail to satisfy some (...) of these constraints. This second claim can best be brought out in the context of an examination of the idea of computer self-knowledge and self-deception, but the conclusion is perfectly general: the idea that computers are believers, like the idea that computers could have self-knowledge or be self-deceived, is incompatible with the commonsense view. The significance of the argument lies in the choice it forces on us: whether to revise our notion of belief so as to accommodate the claim that computers are believers, or to give up on that claim so as to preserve our pretheoretic notion of the attitudes. We cannot have it both ways. (shrink)
Given anti-individualism, a subjectmight have a priori (non-empirical)knowledge that she herself is thinking thatp, have complete and exhaustiveexplicational knowledge of all of the conceptscomposing the content that p, and yetstill need empirical information (e.g.regarding her embedding conditions and history)prior to being in a position to apply herexhaustive conceptual knowledge in aknowledgeable way to the thought that p. This result should be welcomed byanti-individualists: it squares with everythingthat compatibilist-minded anti-individualistshave said regarding e.g. the compatibility ofanti-individualism and basic self-knowledge;and more importantly it (...) contains the crux of aresponse to McKinsey-style arguments againstanti-individualism. (shrink)
In her recent book Anti-Individualism and Knowledge, Jessica Brown has presented a novel answer to the self-knowledge achievement problem facing the proponent of anti-individualism. She argues that her answer is to be preferred to the traditional answer (based on Burge, 1988a). Here I present three objections to the claim that her proposed answer is to be preferred. The significance of these objections lies in what they tell us about the nature of the sort of knowledge that is in dispute. Perhaps (...) the most important lesson I draw from this discussion is that, given the nature of knowledge of one's own thoughts, discriminability (from relevant alternatives) is not a condition on knowledge as such. (shrink)
Several authors (Boghossian 1998; Segal 2000) allege that 'empty' would-be natural kind terms are a problem for anti-individualistic semantics. In this paper I rebut the charge by providing an anti-individualistic semantics for such terms.
In this paper I argue that RadicalInterpretation (RI), taken to be a methodological doctrine regarding the conditions under which an interpretation of an utterance is both warranted and correct, has unacceptable implications for the conditions on (ascriptions of) understanding. The notion of understanding at play is that which underwrites the testimonial transmission of knowledge. After developing this notion I argue that, on the assumption of RI, hearers will fail to have such understanding in situations in which we should want to (...) maintain otherwise. The overall effect of the argument is to provide a heretofore unexamined source of motivation for anti-individualistic approaches to the semantics of utterances. (shrink)
Many epistemologists agree that even very young children sometimes acquire knowledge through testimony. In this paper I address two challenges facing this view. The first (building on a point made in Lackey (2005)) is the defeater challenge, which is to square the hypothesis that very young children acquire testimonial knowledge with the fact that children (whose cognitive immaturity prevents them from having or appreciating reasons) cannot be said to satisfy the No-Defeaters condition on knowledge. The second is the extension challenge, (...) which is to give a motivated, extensionally-adequate account of the conditions on testimonial knowledge in early childhood. Neither challenge can be met merely by endorsing externalism about knowledge; but we can meet both by reconceiving the process that eventuates in the child’s consumption of testimony. My central thesis is that this process should be seen as implicating features of the child's social environment. The result is a novel anti-individualistic externalism about knowledge. (shrink)
Frank is a writer with a strange habit. Every morning, at precisely 7:30 a.m., he wakes up and dumps out whatever is left of the pint of milk he purchased the day before, but places the empty carton back in the fridge until noon. Then, throughout the interval from 7:30 to noon, he always remains in the kitchen, as that is where he writes every morning like clockwork. Finally, at exactly noon, he takes the now-empty milk carton out of the (...) fridge and throws it away – an act which to him symbolizes the end of his day’s writing. Now Mary is unaware of Frank’s milk- dumping practice. One morning, having spent the prior evening at Frank’s house with Frank and her son Sonny, she awakens at 7:40 and goes to the kitchen with Sonny. Upon entering (Frank is already there) she imme- diately goes to the fridge for a glass of OJ, and as she reaches for the OJ she casually observes a small carton of milk. She goes on to tell Sonny (who always has cereal with milk for breakfast) that there is milk in the fridge. As luck would have it, there is indeed milk in the carton on this day (Frank failed to remember that he had bought milk yesterday). When Frank observes Mary’s testimony, he realizes that he forgot to dump the milk; when Sonny observes her testimony, he forms the belief that there is milk in the fridge. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the tendency to defer in matters semantic is rationalized by our reliance on the say-so of others for much of what we know about the world. The result, I contend, is a new and distinctly epistemic source of support for the doctrine of attitude anti-individualism.
Frege’s ‘differential dubitability’ test is a test for differences in cognitive value: if one can rationally believe that p while simultaneously doubting that q, then the contents p and q amount to different ‘cognitive values’. If subject S is rational, does her simultaneous adoption of different attitudes towards p and q require that the difference between p and q (as cognitive values) be transparent to her? It is natural to think so. But I argue that, if attitude anti-individualism is true, (...) then rational differential dubitability does not presuppose that differences in cognitive value are transparent. The significance of this argument lies in what it tells us, both about the notion of cognitive value and its relation to the differential dubitability test, but also about the prospects for a Burge-type position which aims to combine attitude anti-individualism with a (qualified) reliance on the differential dubitability test. (shrink)