In this chapter, I produce counterexamples to Presuppositional Epistemic Contextualism (PEC), a view about the semantics of ‘knowledge’-ascriptions that I have argued for elsewhere. According to PEC, the semantic content of the predicate ‘know’ at a context C is partly determined by the speakers’ pragmatic presuppositions at C. The problem for the view that I shall be concerned with here arises from the fact that pragmatic presuppositions are sometimes known to be true by the speakers who make them: (...) hence the Problem of Known Presuppositions. After discussing several unsuccessful ways to solve the problem, I propose the addition of a new Lewisian rule of proper ignoring to the semantics of PEC--namely, the Rule of Evidence-Based Ignoring. If the proposed account succeeds, the Problem of Known Presuppositions has a straightforward solution within the framework of PEC. (shrink)
The central idea behind this paper is that presuppositions of soft triggers arise from the way our attention structures the informational content of a sentence. Some aspects of the information conveyed are such that we pay attention to them by default, even in the absence of contextual information. On the other hand, contextual cues or conversational goals can divert attention to types of information that we would not pay attention to by default. Either way, whatever we do not pay (...) attention to, be it by default, or in context, is what ends up presupposed by soft triggers. This paper attempts to predict what information in the sentence is likely to end up being the main point (i.e. what we pay attention to) and what information is independent from this, and therefore likely presupposed. It is proposed that this can be calculated by making reference to event times. The notion of aboutness used to calculate independence is based on that of Demolombe and Fariñas del Cerro (In: Holdobler S (ed) Intellectics and computational logic: papers in honor of Wolfgang Bibel, 2000). (shrink)
I provide a novel semantic analysis of proper names and indexicals, combining insights from the competing traditions of referentialism, championed by Kripke and Kaplan, and descriptivism, introduced by Frege and Russell, and more recently resurrected by Geurts and Elbourne, among others. From the referentialist tradition, I borrow the proof that names and indexicals are not synonymous to any definite description but pick their referent from the context directly. From the descriptivist tradition, I take the observation that names, and to some (...) extent indexicals, have uses that are best understood by analogy with anaphora and definite descriptions, that is, following Geurts, in terms of presupposition projection. The hybrid analysis that I propose is couched in Layered Discourse Representation Theory. Proper names and indexicals trigger presuppositions in a dedicated layer, which is semantically interpreted as providing a contextual anchor for the interpretation of the other layers. For the proper resolution of DRSs with layered presuppositions, I add two constraints to van der Sandt's algorithm. The resulting proposal accounts for both the classic philosophical examples and the new linguistic data, preserving a unified account of the preferred rigid interpretation of both names and indexicals, while leaving room for non-referential readings under contextual pressure. (shrink)
In ‘The Presuppositions of Religious Pluralism and the Need for Natural Theology’ I argue that there are four important presuppositions behind John Hick’s form of religious pluralism that successfully support it against what I call fideistic exclusivism. These are i) the ought/can principle, ii) the universality of religious experience, iii) the universality of redemptive change, and iv) a view of how God (the Eternal) would do things. I then argue that if these are more fully developed they support (...) a different kind of exclusivism, what I call rational exclusivism, and become defeaters for pluralism. In order to explain rational exclusivism and its dependence on these presuppositions I consider philosophers J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, and Alvin Plantinga, who offer arguments for their forms of exclusivism but I maintain that they continue to rely on fideism at important points. I then give an example of how knowledge of the Eternal can be achieved. (shrink)
A Mug's Game? Solving the Problem of Induction with Metaphysical Presuppositions Nicholas Maxwell Emeritus Reader in Philosophy of Science at University College London Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.nick-maxwell.demon.co.uk Abstract This paper argues that a view of science, expounded and defended elsewhere, solves the problem of induction. The view holds that we need to see science as accepting a hierarchy of metaphysical theses concerning the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe, these theses asserting less and less as we go up the (...) hierarchy. It may seem that this view must suffer from vicious circularity, in so far as accepting physical theories is justified by an appeal to metaphysical theses in turn justified by the success of science. But this is rebutted. A thesis high up in the hierarchy asserts that the universe is such that the element of circularity, just indicated, is legitimate and justified, and not vicious. Acceptance of the thesis is in turn justified without appeal to the success of science. It may seem that the practical problem of induction can only be solved along these lines if there is a justification of the truth of the metaphysical theses in question. It is argued that this demand must be rejected as it stems from an irrational conception of science. (shrink)
This article argues that toleration understood as the principled restraint from the use of force is an instance of RG. Collingwood's 'ideal of civility' towards which liberalism as the process of civilisation aspires. In the first part of this article, Toleration as Civility, I draw on Collingwood's philosophy to provide an account of toleration as an instance of civility embodying self-respect, historical consciousness, and complete freedom of the will. Accordingly, the limits of toleration are conceived as necessarily informed by the (...) level of civilisation in society, and relativism in such limits in society is part of the dynamic of the process of civilisation towards a universal ideal, and not an end state in itself. In the second part, Toleration and 'Absolute Presuppositions', it will be shown that Collingwood's theory of atonement and his assertion of the Christian roots of liberalism supports a view of toleration as a moral 'attitude' which captures the elements of atonement (those being punishment, forgiveness, love and hope), and highlights the relevance of Collingwood's theory of 'absolute presuppositions' to contemporary issues in political philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper, I will argue for a new account of presuppositions which is based on double indexing as well as minimal representational contexts providing antecedent material for anaphoric presuppositions, rather than notions of context defined in terms of the interlocutors’ pragmatic presuppositions or the information accumulated from the preceding discourse. This account applies in particular to new phenomena concerning the presupposition of quantifier domains. But it is also intended to be an account of presuppositions in (...) general. The account differs from the Satisfaction Theory and the Binding Theory of presuppositions in that it can be viewed as a conservative extension of traditional static semantics and in that it does not involve the notion of pragmatic presupposition. (shrink)
Potts (2005, 2007) has argued that expressives such as honky must be analyzed using an entirely new dimension of meaning. We explore a more conservative theory in which expressives are presuppositional expressions [Macià 2002] that are indexical and attitudinal (and sometimes shiftable): they predicate something of the mental state of the agent of the context (and this need not always be the agent of the actual context). Following Stalnaker’s recent work on informative presuppositions (2002), we argue that the (...) class='Hi'>presuppositions triggered by expressives are automatically satisfied (= ’self-fulfilling’), hence the impression that they are not standard presupposition triggers. (shrink)
I pursue an answer to the psychological question “what is it for S to presuppose that p?” I will not attempt a general answer. Rather, I will explore a particular kind of presuppositions that are constituted by the mental act of reasoning: Inferential presuppositions. Indeed, I will consider a specific kind of inferential presuppositions—one that is constituted by a specific reasoning competence: The univocality competence. Roughly, this is the competence that reliably governs the univocal thought-components’ operation as (...) univocal in a line of reasoning. I will argue that the exercise of this reasoning competence constitutes certain inferential presuppositions. More specifically, I outline a conception of an inferential presupposition as a non-attitudinal but genuinely psychological and rationally committing relation that holds between a reasoner and a proposition. Thus, inferential presuppositions may be distinguished from tacit or standing attitudes that function as premise-beliefs in reasoning. Likewise inferential presuppositions may be distinguished from other kinds of presuppositions. In conclusion, I note some features of inferential presuppositions that bear on the epistemology of inference. (shrink)
Abstract Utterances of counterfactual conditionals are typically attended by the information that their antecedents are false. But there is as yet no account of the source of this information that is both detailed and complete. This paper describes the problem of counterfactual antecedent falsity and argues that the problem can be addressed by appeal to an adequate account of the presuppositions of various competing conditional constructions. It argues that indicative conditionals presuppose that their antecedents are epistemically possible, while subjunctive (...) conditionals bear no presupposition. Given this arrangement, utterance of the counterfactual results in an antipresupposition, that is, a scalar implicature generated from the presuppositions of competing alternatives rather than from the at-issue content of competing alternatives. The content of the antipresupposition is the negation of the presupposition of the competing indicative, i.e., that the antecedent of the conditional is known to be false by the speaker. (shrink)
Some presuppositions seem to be weaker than others in the sense that they can be more easily neutralized in some contexts. For example some factive verbs, most notably epistemic factives like know, be aware, and discover, are known to shed their factivity fairly easily in contexts such as are found in (1). (1) a. …if anyone discovers that the method is also wombat-proof, I’d really like to know! b. Mrs. London is not aware that there have ever been signs (...) erected to stop use of the route… c. Perhaps God knows that we will never reach the stars…. (The examples in (1) are all naturally occurring ones, discovered by David Beaver with the aid of Google; cf. Beaver 2002, exx. 32, 43, and 51, respectively.) On the other hand some other factives, e.g. regret, matter, and be surprised, do not exhibit the same type of behavior: (2) a. If any of the students regrets behaving badly, they’ll let us know. b. It doesn’t matter that the chimpanzees escaped. c. Was Bill surprised that spinach was included? Unlike the examples in (1), those in (2) could not be used appropriately in contexts where the speaker was not assuming that the complement clause was true. Our main concern will be trying to find the cause of this difference. However, before we get to that, we will look more closely at the concept “presupposition” itself, as well as its close neighbor in the linguistic literature, “conventional implicature” (section 2), and also at various ways of getting rid of presuppositions (section 3). In section 4 we will investigate two possible explanations for differences in presupposition triggering – the “lexical alternative” approach of Abusch (2002, 2005), and a suggestion of Ladusaw’s involving detachability of presuppositions. The final section contains concluding remarks. (shrink)
The current literature on presupposition focuses almost exclusively on the projection problem: the question of how and why the presuppositions of atomic clauses are projected to complex sentences which embed them. Very little attention has been paid to the question of how and why these presuppositions arise at all. As Kay (1992, p.335) observes, “treatments of the presupposition inheritance problem almost never deal with the reasons that individual words and constructions give rise, in the first place, to the (...) particular presuppositions that they do.”1 This is the question on which this paper will focus. (shrink)
Caitlin Smith Gilson, The metaphysical presuppositions of being-in-the-World: a confrontation between St. Thomas Aquinas and Martin Heidegger Content Type Journal Article Pages 157-161 DOI 10.1007/s11153-010-9263-4 Authors Christine Sorrell Dinkins, Department of Philosophy, Wofford College, 429 N. Church St., Spartanburg, SC 29303, USA Journal International Journal for Philosophy of Religion Online ISSN 1572-8684 Print ISSN 0020-7047 Journal Volume Volume 71 Journal Issue Volume 71, Number 2.
This paper consists of two main parts and a coda. In the first part I present the ''binding theory'' of presupposition projection, which is the framework that I adopt in this paper (Section 1.1). I outline the main problems that arise in the interplay between presuppositions and anaphors on the one hand and attitude reports on the other (Section 1.2), and discuss Heim''s theory of presuppositions in attitude contexts (Section 1.3).In the second part of the paper I present (...) my own proposal. To begin with, I define an extension of DRT in which attitude reports can be represented (Sections 2.1–2.2). I then argue that the verb believe triggers a certain presupposition and that, given the binding theory, this presupposition determines the projection behaviour of the verb (Section 2.3). This analysis yields predictions which are incomplete in the sense that they do not fully account for speakers'' intuitions about presuppositions and anaphors in belief contexts. In Section 2.4 I suggest that this is as it should be because we may assume on independent grounds that there is a class of plausibility inferences which complement the predictions of the presupposition theory. Finally, the analysis is extended to the verb want (Section 2.5). (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to use an anaphoric notion of presupposition for solving the problem of zero argument anaphora. Since Shopen (1973) it has been known that many missing arguments have an anaphoric interpretation, but it has not been known how this interpretation arises. I argue that these arguments are involved in presuppositions. On an anaphoric account of presuppositions as in van der Sandt (1992) or Kamp and Roßdeutscher (1992), it can be shown that the zero (...) arguments acquire an anaphoric interpretation through the presuppositions. The analysis rests on the principle that the Discourse Representation Structure for the presupposition is proper, so that the discourse referents for the zero arguments are in its universe and must be anchored to discourse referents in the context. (shrink)
Metaphysical presuppositions are important for guiding scientific practices and research. The success of twentieth-century biology, for instance, is largely attributable to presupposing that complex biological processes are reducible to elementary components. However, some biologists have challenged the sufficiency of reductionism for investigating complex biological phenomena and have proposed alternative presuppositions like organicism. In this article, contemporary cancer research is used as a case study to explore the importance of metaphysical presuppositions for guiding research. The predominant paradigm directing (...) cancer research is the somatic mutation theory, in which mutated genes are presumed to be ultimately responsible for explaining carcinogenesis. This reductionistic approach to cancer has been criticised recently, and an organistic approach has been proposed. The article concludes with a discussion of the reciprocal interaction of metaphysical presuppositions and scientific practices for investigating cancer's complex nature. (shrink)
Reflection is an ambiguous buzzword in contemporary educational and professional settings. Work has been done to clarify the concept theoretically, but a gap remains between such clarifications and actual reflective activities in educational and work-related practices. Reflective activities embody epistemological presuppositions about the nature of competence, knowledge, and learning, and about the relation between thinking, communicating, and acting. In this article, Nina Bonderup Dohn identifies the epistemological presuppositions of two paradigm cases of reflection (“solitaire reflection” and “communicative reflection”) (...) and assesses these against a view of knowledge, competence, learning, and action inspired by the Scandinavian interpretation of Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophy as well as by insights from phenomenology and situated learning. The outcome of Dohn's assessment is that the presuppositions of the paradigm cases are misguided and, therefore, so are the reflective activities. The problems and pitfalls that result from this situation are identified and illustrated with empirical examples. Dohn concludes by suggesting an alternative paradigm: “situated reflection.”. (shrink)
This paper 1) examines Husserl’s critique of presuppositions, a critique that realizes a desideratum of the Western philosophical tradition precisely by clarifying and grounding the latter’s own tacit presuppositions; 2) surveys Husserl’s descriptions of the apperceptions whose operative efficacy make tradition itself effective, holding good at both the individual and the generative levels; 3) identifies the need for a further critique of the psychophysical apperception in particular; and 4) offers a phenomenologically grounded alternative to the latter way of (...) understanding and experiencing embodiment. (shrink)
Collingwood's theory of presuppositions has never been taken very seriously. But critics have completely overlooked its significance as a theory or model of inquiry intimately tied to certain aspects of discourse in a context of investigation. Viewed this way, Collingwood's theory is on very strong ground, especially when it is reconstructed with the aid of a formal language. The reconstruction shows what is essential to the theory and what is not, allowing us to disregard those of Collingwood's extravagant claims (...) which have frustrated an understanding of his theory's real strength. The reconstruction also provides a general framework within which recent discussion of presuppositions can be unified. (shrink)
Positivists identify science and certainty and in the name of the utter rationality of science deny that it rests on speculative presuppositions. The Logical Positivists took a step further and tried to show such presuppositions really no presuppositions at all but rather poorly worded sentences. Rules of sentence formation, however, rest on the presuppositions about the nature of language. This makes us unable to determine the status of mathematics, which is these days particularly irksome since this (...) question is now-since Abraham Robinson-one that mathematicians cannot ignore. Since mathematics is the paradigm of a logical discourse, logic must offer a system adequate enough to serve mathematics. This fact makes it difficult to avoid making question-begging moves in both mathematics and logic. We must therefore view the rationality of logic as partial and hope it is stepwise improvable. The theory of rationality thus turns to be the major presupposition of logic, and one which has ample metaphysical background to it. The very supposition, basic to all logic, that language is divisible into form andcontent is under suspicion-mathematics perhaps belongs to neither. (shrink)
In this volume, Geurts takes discourse representation theory (DRT), and turns it into a unified account of anaphora and presupposition, which he applies not only to the standard problem cases but also to the interpretation of modal expressions, attitude reports, and proper names. The resulting theory, for all its simplicity, is without doubt the most comprehensive of its kind to date. The central idea underlying Geurts' 'binding theory' of presupposition is that anaphora is just a special case of presupposition projection. (...) But this is only one of the ways in which the concept of presupposition is taken beyond its traditional limits. Geurts shows, furthermore, that presupposition projection is crucially involved in several phenomena that are not usually viewed in presuppositional terms, such as modal subordination, de re readings of attitude reports, and rigid designation. While making his case for DRT and the binding theory, Geurts also presents an incisive analysis of what is probably still the most influential account of presupposition, viz. the satisfaction theory, demonstrating that there are fundamental problems not only with this theory but with the very framework in which it is couched. (shrink)
Since Kripke introduced rigid designation as an alternative to the Frege/Russell analysis of referential terms as definite descriptions, there has been an ongoing debate between 'descriptivists' and 'referentialists', mostly focusing on the semantics of proper names. Nowadays descriptivists can draw on a much richer set of linguistic data (including bound and accommodated proper names in discourse) as well as new semantic machinery (E-type syntax/semantics, DRT, presupposition-as-anaphora) to strengthen their case. After reviewing the current state of the debate, I argue for (...) a referentialist semantics that incorporates some modern insights from the side of the descriptivists in order to account for the new data in a principled fashion. (shrink)
According to relativism, these appearances of faultless disagreement are to be endorsed. According to moderate relativism, this can be done within the general Kaplan-Lewis-Stalnaker two-dimensional framework, in which the basic semantic notion is that of a sentence s being true at a context c at the index i: it may in effect be the case that s is true at c (at its index ic) but false at c∗ (at ic∗). According to indexical (moderate) relativism, this is so in virtue (...) of the content of sentence s at c being diﬀerent from that of s at c∗. (shrink)
A Russellian theory of (definite) descriptions takes an utterance of the form ‘The F is G’ to express a purely general proposition that affirms the existence of a (contextually) unique F: there is exactly one F [which is C] and it is G. Strawson, by contrast, takes the utterer to presuppose in some sense that there is exactly one salient F, but this is not part of what is asserted; rather, when the presupposition is not met, the utterance simply fails (...) to express a (true or false) proposition. A defender of Strawson’s approach, however, must square up to what appear to be straightforward counterexamples to the presupposition thesis, and must also provide an account of certain linguistic phenomena that supposedly demand treating descriptions as quantifiers, as the Russellian theory does. In this paper I propose fresh considerations in favour of Strawson’s approach. I shift attention from what the utterer presupposes to preconditions for the use of descriptions, and distinguish between referring and predicative uses of descriptions (not to be confused with referential and attributive uses); importantly, the referring and predicative uses have different preconditions, I argue, and these provide some satisfactory responses to the aforementioned challenges facing the Strawsonian. (shrink)
This paper presents problems for Stalnaker’s common ground theory of presupposition. Stalnaker (Linguist and Philos 25:701–721, 2002) proposes a 2-stage process of utterance interpretation: presupposed content is added to the common ground prior to acceptance/rejection of the utterance as a whole. But this revision makes presupposition difficult to distinguish from assertion. A more fundamental problem is that the common ground theory rests on a faulty theory of assertion—that the essence of assertion is to present the content of an utterance as (...) new information. Many examples are presented of utterances which are felicitous but not informative in this way. (shrink)
This paper discusses the apparent scope ambiguities between definite descriptions and modal operators. I argue that we need the theory of presupposition to explain why these ambiguities are not always present, and that once that theory is in hand, Kripke’s modal argument loses much of its force.
Recent semantic research has made increasing use of a principle, Maximize Presupposition, which requires that under certain circumstances the strongest possible presupposition be marked. This principle is generally taken to be irreducible to standard Gricean reasoning because the forms that are in competition have the same assertive content. We suggest, however, that Maximize Presupposition might be reducible to the theory of scalar implicatures. (i)First, we consider a special case: the speaker utters a sentence with a presupposition p which is not (...) initially taken for granted by the addressee, but the latter takes the speaker to be an authority on the matter. Signaling the presupposition provides new information to the addressee; but it also follows from the logic of presupposition qua common belief that the presupposition is thereby satisfied (Stalnaker, Ling Philos 25(5–6):701–721, 2002). (ii) Second, we generalize this solution to other cases. We assume that even when p is common belief, there is a very small chance that the addressee might forget it (‘Fallibility’); in such cases, marking a presupposition will turn out to generate new information by re-establishing part of the original context. We also adopt from Raj Singh (Nat Lang Semantics 19(2):149–168, 2011) the hypothesis that presupposition maximization is computed relative to local contexts—and we assume that these too are subject to Fallibility; this accounts for cases in which the information that justifies the presupposition is linguistically provided. (iii) Finally, we suggest that our assumptions have benefits in the domain of implicatures: they make it possible to reinterpret Magri’s ‘blind’ (i.e. context-insensitive) implicatures as context-sensitive implicatures which just happen to be misleading. (shrink)
In the last thirty years, the problem of presupposition projection has been taken to provide a decisive argument for a dynamic approach to meaning, one in which expressions are not evaluated with respect to the ‘global’ context of utterance, but rather with respect to a ‘local context’ obtained by updating the global one with expressions that occur earlier in the sentence. The computation of local contexts is taken by dynamic analyses to follow from a generalization of the notion of belief (...) update. I argue that the dynamic approach is faced with a dilemma: in its pragmatic incarnation (Stalnaker), it is explanatory but not general; in its semantic incarnation (Karttunen and Heim), it is general but not explanatory. I suggest that the dilemma stems for a faulty understanding of ‘local contexts’, and I offer a new reconstruction of this notion which eschews belief update but offers a general and fully precise solution to the projection problem. (shrink)
Argues that the intuition of a truth value gap in cases of presupposition failure depends on the discourse information state, and in particular whether sufficient information is in the common ground to preclude the truth of the sentence on independent grounds; formalizes this analysis in a semantics using data lattices.
There are three ways to refer to a fact from the complement of afactive verb: (1) Via abstract object anaphoric reference, or, witha full sentential complement that will be interpreted either (2) asa bound presupposition or (3) as triggering a presupposition of afact that will have to be accommodated. Spoken corpus examplesreveal that these three possibilities differ in relation to thetype of information they tend to contribute, and this has twoeffects. First, the information status of the fact and its role (...) inthe discourse seem to affect the preference for one constructionover another in a particular context. Second, presupposed factivecomplements that need to be accommodated tend to be hearer-new andthe focus of the utterance, meaning that information structureseems to contribute to the felicity of accommodation ofpresupposed facts. (shrink)
The paper explicates a new way to model the context-sensitivity of 'knows', namely a way that suggests a close connection between the content of 'knows' in a context C and what is pragmatically presupposed in C. After explicating my new approach in the first half of the paper and arguing that it is explanatorily superior to standard accounts of epistemic contextualism, the paper points, in its second half, to some interesting new features of the emerging account, such as its compatibility (...) with the intuitions of Moorean dogmatists. Finally, the paper shows that the account defended is not subject to the most prominent and familiar philosophical objections to epistemic contextualism discussed in the recent literature. (shrink)
Last year (2005) marked the 100th anniversary of the publication of Russell’s classic ‘On denoting’. It should not cast any shadow on that great work to note that the problems it provided solutions to are still the subject of controversy. Two of those problems involved noun phrases (NPs) which fail to denote. Russell’s examples (1a) and (1b) (1) a. The king of France is bald. b. The king of France is not bald. are puzzling because they have the form of (...) simple contradictories, and yet we are not inclined to say either one is true. Example (2) (2) Pegasus does not exist. is even more problematic; the lack of denotation for Pegasus, which makes the sentence true, also seems to rob it of a meaningful constituent. Once the king of France is unpacked according to Russell’s analysis, (1b) is revealed to be ambiguous. It’s logical forms are given in (3). (3) a. ∃x[Kx ∧ ∀y[Ky ↔ y=x] ∧ ¬Bx] b. ¬∃x[Kx ∧ ∀y[Ky ↔ y=x] ∧ Bx] (3a) says that there is a unique (French) king who is not bald (obviously false), but (3b), the logical contradictory of (1a) says that it is not the case that there is a unique king who is bald (which is true). We can apply the analysis to sentence (2) once we recognize Pegasus as a concealed definite description, e.g. the winged horse of Greek mythology. (2) can then be unpacked as (4) (4) ¬∃x[Wx ∧ ∀y[Wy ↔ y=x]] which seems both meaningful and true, as required. Problems solved. Well, not quite. Strawson (1950) challenged the first solution above, arguing that neither (1a) nor (1b) could be used to assert the existence of a king of France. Rather, use of such sentences presupposes the existence of a king of France, and failing that existence, neither of (1a) or (1b) could be used to make either a true or a false statement – in Strawson’s words, “the question of whether it’s true or false simply doesn’t arise” (Strawson 1950, 330).1 In an extended series of essays, and one book, Jay Atlas (1977, 1978, 1979, 1989, 2004) has taken issue with the work of both Russell and Strawson.. (shrink)
The paper attempts to explicate and justify the position I call `Agency Incompatibilism'- that is to say, the view that agency itself is incompatible with determinism. The most important part of this task is the characterisation of the conception of agency on which the position depends; for unless this is understood, the rationale for the position is likely to be missed. The paper accordingly proceeds by setting out the orthodox philosophical position concerning what it takes for agency to exist, before (...) going on to explain why and how that orthodoxy should be challenged. The relations between my own views and those of others writing on the issues of free will and moral responsibility, in three crucial and inter-connected areas are then explored. These are (1) the question how animals should figure in the philosophy of action; (2) the question what the lesson is of `Frankfurt-style' examples; and (3) the distinction between so-called `leeway' incompatibilism and `source' incompatibilism. The paper moves on to consider and respond to various objections to Agency Incompatibilism, including the claim that to embrace the conception of agency that makes incompatibilism plausible is to beg the question against the compatibilist, and also the worry that determinism is an empirical thesis which ought not to be straightforwardly falsifiable by such a priori reasoning as Agency Incompatibilism appears to involve. I also try to rebut the worry that Agency Incompatibilism is committed to the existence of an unintelligible and/or naturalistically impossible variety of irreducible agent causation. (shrink)
Philosophers like to talk about propositions. There are many reasons for this. Perhaps the most common is that philosophers are sometimes more interested in the content of a thought or utterance than in the particular sentence or utterance that might express it on some occasion. Propositions are offered as these contents.
In his discussion of the paradox of the ravens,1 Mark Sainsbury takes the paradox to show the falsity of the following principle: G1. A generalisation is confirmed by any of its instances. The other possibilities, he argues, are to accept the paradoxical conclusion, or to reject the other principle involved.
The project of chemistry to classify substances and develop techniques for their transformation into other substances rests on assumptions about the means by which compounds are constituted and reconstituted. Robert Boyle not only proposed empirical tests for a metaphysics of material corpuscules, but also a principle for designing experimental procedures in line with that metaphysics. Later chemists added activity concepts to the repertoire. The logic of activity explanations in modern times involves hierarchies of activity concepts, transitions between levels through non-dispositional (...) groundings. Such hierarchies terminate in powerful particulars, such as elementary charged particles. Do these have a fundamental place in the most recent accounts of molecular architecture, stabilities and transformations? However, a close study of the contemporary chemistry of substances transforming reactions discloses a hybrid metaphysics, making use of both the Boylean corpuscles and Faradayan fields. This is illustrated by an analysis of the metaphysics inherent in John Polanyi’s use of “chemoluminescence” to follow the formation of products in chemical reactions. A brief sketch of a resolution of the tension between the two metaphysical schemes is drawn from Niels Bohr’s radical metaphysics extended from the quantum realm proper to chemistry (and perhaps beyond). (shrink)
the voluntary actions of such beings cannot be covered by causal laws. Decision theorists, accepting the premise of this argument, appeal instead to noncausal laws predicated on principles of success—oriented action, and use these laws to produce substantive and testable predictions about large—scale human behavior. The primary directive of success-oriented action is maximization of some valuable quantity. Many economists and social scientists use the principles of decision theory to explain social and economic phenomena, while many political philosophers use them to (...) make recommendations on questions of.. (shrink)
ABSTRACT. May scientists rely on substantive, a priori presuppositions? Quinean naturalists say "no," but Michael Friedman and others claim that such a view cannot be squared with the actual history of science. To make his case, Friedman offers Newton's universal law of gravitation and Einstein's theory of relativity as examples of admired theories that both employ presuppositions (usually of a mathematical nature), presuppositions that do not face empirical evidence directly. In fact, Friedman claims that the use of (...) such presuppositions is a hallmark of "science as we know it." But what should we say about the special sciences, which typically do not rely on the abstruse formalisms one finds in the exact sciences? I identify a type of a priori presupposition that plays an especially striking role in the development of empirical psychology. These are ontological presuppositions about the type of object a given science purports to study. I show how such presuppositions can be both a priori and rational by investigating their role in an early flap over psychology's contested status as a natural science. The flap focused on one of the field's earliest textbooks, William James's Principles of Psychology. The work was attacked precisely for its reliance on a priori presuppositions about what James had called the "mental state," psychology's (alleged) proper object. I argue that the specific presuppositions James packed into his definition of the "mental state" were not directly responsible to empirical evidence, and so in that sense were a priori; but the presuppositions were rational in that they were crafted to help overcome philosophical objections (championed by neo-Hegelians) to the very idea that there can be a genuine science of mind. Thus, my case study gives an example of substantive, a priori presuppositions being put to use—to rational use—in the special sciences. In addition to evaluating James's use of presuppositions, my paper also offers historical reflections on two different strands of pragmatist philosophy of science. One strand, tracing back through Quine to C. S. Peirce, is more naturalistic, eschewing the use of a priori elements in science. The other strand, tracing back through Kuhn and C. I. Lewis to James, is more friendly to such presuppositions, and to that extent bears affinity with the positivist tradition Friedman occupies. (shrink)
This paper discusses Jean van Heijenoort’s (1967) and Jaakko and Merrill B. Hintikka’s (1986, 1997) distinction between logic as auniversal language and logic as a calculus, and its applicability to Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology. Although it is argued that Husserl’s phenomenology shares characteristics with both sides, his view of logic is closer to the model-theoretical, logic-as-calculus view. However, Husserl’s philosophy as transcendental philosophy is closer to the universalist view. This paper suggests that Husserl’s position shows that holding a model-theoretical view of (...) logic does not necessarily imply a calculus view about the relations between language and the world. The situation calls for reflection about the distinction: It will be suggested that the applicability of the van Heijenoort and the Hintikkas distinction either has to be restricted to a particular philosopher’s views about logic, in which case no implications about his or her more general philosophical views should be inferred from it; or the distinction turns into a question of whether our human predicament is inescapable or whether it is possible, presumably by means of model theory, to obtain neutral answers to philosophical questions. Thus the distinction ultimately turns into a question about the correct method for doing philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper I will argue that Professor Goodman was correct in thinking that there is a problem concerning counterfactual conditionals, but that it is somewhat different from the problem he thought it to be, and is one that is even more basic. I will also try to show that this problem is distinct from Hume's "problem" of induction, and that additional assumptions have to be made for counterfactual induction beyond those required for other kinds of induction.
A carpet vendor has to measure her customer's living room for some new broadloom. She has forgotten her tape measure, but does have a meterstick. She lays the meterstick on the floor, snug up against the wall, with the left edge of the stick in one corner of the room. She then makes a pencil mark at the right edge. Next she shifts the stick right until the left edge of the stick is at her mark, and again marks the (...) right edge. She does this three times, but then finds that less than a full length remains to be measured. She turns the stick around so that the zero is now at the right side and lays it in the right corner and notes that her last pencil mark is at 70 cm. She concludes that the wall she is measuring is 3.7 meters in length. She then measures the opposite wall and concludes that it, too, is 3.7 meters in length. She then repeats the process for the remaining two opposite walls, and finds that they each measure 4.1 meters. To see if the room is rectangular, she runs a piece of twine from one corner to its opposite, pulls the twine taut and then cuts it to fit exactly. She then uses the same piece of twine on the other two corners to see if they are the same distance apart as the first two. The twine fits exactly. On the basis of these measurements, she.. (shrink)
This article notes differences in legislation in Germany and Great Britain regarding human embryo research and looks for an explanation in their divergent intellectual traditions. Whereas the German Stem Cell Act invokes an anthropological concept of human dignity to ground its ban on using embryos for research, there is no definition of what it means to be human in either the British Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act or in the advisory Warnock-Report. After studying the differences and providing some philosophical background, (...) the essay distinguishes two notions that are significant for understanding human dignity. It then proposes from a theological point of view a basic understanding within a relational anthropology, and comes to the conclusion that because of continuity in development and their relational constitution, humans embryos should be accepted as human from the moment of conception. (shrink)
Recall Grice’s well-worn example from Logic and Conversation about Smith, his girlfriend, and his trips to New York: (1) A: Smith doesn’t seem to have a girlfriend these days. B: He has been paying a lot of visits to NY recently. Grice says that in this dialogue, B implicates that Smith has, or may have, a girlfriend in New York. But in saying this, Grice under-describes his own example. For this proposition alone does not suffice to satisfy the requirements of (...) Relation, the maxim presumed to be operative in this case. Grice says that “[B] implicates that which he must be assumed to believe in order to preserve the assumption that he is observing the maxim of Relation.” But the assumption that B thinks that Smith might have a girlfriend in NY is not in itself sufficient to render B’s utterance relevant. An additional assumption is required, one which explicitly links the issue of having girlfriends to the issue of travel to NY: perhaps, the proposition that a person who has a girlfriend somewhere travels there frequently; or that many people have long-distance relationships, and these involve frequent trips to the same place. If A can work out that B is making this supposition, then she can immediately see the relevance of B’s response to her remark. Without it, relevance cannot be established. So this general background assumption must be implicated by the utterance.1 Now, this background assumption is not enough by itself to guarantee relevance. Suppose that B believes the background assumption, but does not believe that Smith might be traveling to NY to visit a girlfriend. Then his utterance is still in violation of Relation. B should invoke the background assumption only if it is relevant itself. (shrink)