The paper explores the defence by the early sociologist of science Ludwik Fleck against the charge of relativism. It is shown that there are crucial and hitherto unnoticed similarities between Fleck’s strategy and the attempt by his contemporary Karl Mannheim to distinguish between an incoherent relativism and a consistent relationism. Both authors seek to revise epistemology fundamentally by reinterpreting the concept of objectivity in two ways: as inner- and inter-style objectivity. The argument for the latter concept shows the genuine (...) political background and intent of Fleck’s sociology of science and its ambition to relieve the cultural struggles of his time. (shrink)
In his book Semantic Relationism, Kit Fine propounds an original and sophisticated semantic theory called ‘semantic relationism’ or ‘relational semantics’, whose peculiarity is the enrichment of Kaplan’s, Salmon’s and Soames’ Russellian semantics (more specifically, the semantic content of simple sentences and the truth-conditions of belief reports) with coordination, “the very strongest relation of synonymy or being semantically the same”. In this paper, my goal is to shed light on an undesirable result of semantic relationism: a report like (...) “Tom believes that Cicero is bald and Tom does not believe that Tully is bald” is correct according to Fine’s provided truth-conditions of belief reports, but its semantic content is (very likely) a contradiction. As I will argue in the paper, even the resort to the notion of token proposition, introduced in Fine’s recent article “Comments on Scott Soames’ ‘Coordination Problems’”, does not suffice to convincingly eliminate the contradiction; moreover, it raises new difficulties. (shrink)
I compare a ‘realist’ with a ‘social–relational’ perspective on our judgments of the moral status of artificial agents (AAs). I develop a realist position according to which the moral status of a being—particularly in relation to moral patiency attribution—is closely bound up with that being’s ability to experience states of conscious satisfaction or suffering (CSS). For a realist, both moral status and experiential capacity are objective properties of agents. A social relationist denies the existence of any such objective properties in (...) the case of either moral status or consciousness, suggesting that the determination of such properties rests solely upon social attribution or consensus. A wide variety of social interactions between us and various kinds of artificial agent will no doubt proliferate in future generations, and the social–relational view may well be right that the appearance of CSS features in such artificial beings will make moral role attribution socially prevalent in human–AA relations. But there is still the question of what actual CSS states a given AA is capable of undergoing, independently of the appearances. This is not just a matter of changes in the structure of social existence that seem inevitable as human–AA interaction becomes more prevalent. The social world is itself enabled and constrained by the physical world, and by the biological features of living social participants. Properties analogous to certain key features in biological CSS are what need to be present for nonbiological CSS. Working out the details of such features will be an objective scientific inquiry. (shrink)
Abstract: There are two traditionally rival views about the nature of time: substantivalism that takes time to be a substance that exists independently of events located in it, and relationism that takes time to be constructed out of events. In this paper, first, I want to make some progress with respect to the debate between these two views, and I do this mainly by examining the strategies they use to face the possibilities of ‘empty time’ and ‘time without change’. (...) As we shall see, the two allegedly very different rival views are much less different than has been thought: their structure is extremely similar, their strategies are extremely similar, and they can both face the possibilities of ‘empty time’ and ‘time without change’ in the same way. Thus, I argue in favour of a certain kind of equivalence between the two views; I discuss a Strong and a Weak version of this claim; and I provide reasons for endorsing the former. I also discuss the parallel between this pair of views about the nature of time and another analogous pair of views: the bundle theory and the substratum theory about the nature of material objects, with respect to the problem with Identity of Indiscernibles. (shrink)
Introducing a new and ambitious position in the field, Kit Fine’s Semantic Relationism is a major contribution to the philosophy of language. Written by one of today’s most respected philosophers Argues for a fundamentally new approach to the study of representation in language and thought Proposes that there may be representational relationships between expressions or elements of thought that are not grounded in the intrinsic representational features of the expressions or elements themselves Forms part of the prestigious new Blackwell/Brown (...) Lectures in Philosophy series, based on an ongoing series of lectures by today’s leading philosophers. (shrink)
In a companion paper (Pooley & Brown 2001) it is argued that Julian Barbour's Machian approach to dynamics provides a genuinely relational interpretation of Newtonian dynamics and that it is more explanatory than the conventional, substantival interpretation. In this paper the extension of the approach to relativistic physics is considered. General relativity, it turns out, can be reinterpreted as a perfectly Machian theory. However, there are difficulties with viewing the Machian interpretation as more fundamental than the conventional, spacetime interpretation. Moreover, (...) this state of affairs provides little solace for the relationist for, even when interpreted along Machian lines, general relativity is a substantival theory although the basic entity is space, not spacetime. (shrink)
Kant's argument from incongruent counterparts for substantival space is examined; it is concluded that the argument has no force against a relationist. The argument does suggest that a relationist cannot give an account of enantiomorphism, incongruent counterparts and orientability. The prospects for a relationist account of these notions are assessed, and it is found that they are good provided the relationist is some kind of modal relationist. An illustration and interpretation of these modal commitments is given.
I argue that there is natural relationist interpretation of Newtonian and relativistic non-quantum physics. Although relationist, this interpretation does not fall prey to the traditional objections based on the existence of inertial effects.
The paper defends two claims;(1) Viewed from the perspective of the substantivalism/relationism debate, structural spacetime realism (i.e., the view that spacetime is exemplified structure) is a form of relationism; (2) However, if we managed to reinforce Rynasiewicz’s (1996) point that the general theory of relativity makes the substantivalism/relationism dispute “outdated”, the re-elaboration of Stein’s 1967 version of structural spacetime realism to be proposed here proves to be a good, antimetaphysical solution to the problem of the ontological (...) status of spacetime. (shrink)
This paper investigates the question of, and the degree to which, Newton’s theory of space constitutes a third-way between the traditional substantivalist and relationist ontologies, i.e., that Newton judged that space is neither a type of substance/entity nor purely a relation among such substances. A non-substantivalist reading of Newton has been famously defended by Howard Stein, among others; but, as will be demonstrated, these claims are problematic on various grounds, especially as regards Newton’s alleged rejection of the traditional substance/accident (...) dichotomy concerning space. Nevertheless, our analysis of the metaphysical foundations of Newton’s spatial theory will strive to uncover its unique and innovative characteristics, most notably, the distinctive role that Newton’s “immaterialist” spatial ontology plays in his dynamics. (shrink)
This essay examines the metaphysical foundation of Leibniz’s theory of space against the backdrop of the subtantivalism/relationism debate and at the ontological level of material bodies and properties. As will be demonstrated, the details of Leibniz’ theory defy a straightforward categorization employing the standard relationism often attributed to his views. Rather, a more careful analysis of his metaphysical doctrines related to bodies and space will reveal the importance of a host of concepts, such as the foundational role of (...) God, the holism of both geometry and the material world’s interconnections, and the viability and adequacy of a property theory in characterizing his natural philosophy of space. (shrink)
The traditional absolutist-relationist controversy about space and time conflates four distinct issues: existence, abstraction, relationality and relativity. Terms which are relational, relative or abstract may denote items which possess contingent properties. Possession of such properties, including topological and geometrical properties, is therefore no indication of logical type. To fail to recognise the possibility of spaces, times and space-times of various logical types is to risk conflating two distinct ontological issues: a metaphysical issue concerning the existence of abstract objects and a (...) question of physics concerning the existence of causally efficacious sub-strata which may or may not be needed to explain the contingent properties of the abstract objects. * Thanks are due to an anonymous fereree whose comments enabled me to improve an earlier version of this essay. (shrink)
Mundy (1983) presented the formal apparatus of certain relationist theories of space and space-time taking quantitative relations as primitive. The present paper discusses the philosophical and physical interpretation of such theories, and replies to some objections to such theories and to relationism in general raised in Field (1985). Under an appropriate second-order naturalistic Platonist interpretation of the formalism, quantitative relationist theories are seen to be entirely comparable to spatialist ones in respect of the issues raised by Field. Moreover, it (...) appears that even if accepted as sound, Field's general line of criticism would not diminish the significance of relationism for philosophy of science, since this derives primarily from its connection to physical rather than to mathematical or philosophical ontology. (shrink)
Relationism claims that our physical theory does not commit us to spacetime points. I consider how a relationist might rewrite physical theories without referring to spacetime points, by appealing to possible objects and possible configurations of objects. I argue that a number of difficulties confront this project. I also argue that a relationist need not be Machian in the sense of claiming that objects' spatiotemporal relations determine whether any object is accelerating.
Relationist theories of space or space-time based on embedding of a physical relational system A into a corresponding geometrical system B raise problems associated with the degree of uniqueness of the embedding. Such uniqueness problems are familiar in the representational theory of measurement (RTM), and are dealt with by imposing a condition of uniqueness of embeddings up to composition with an "admissible transformation" of the space B. Friedman (1983) presents an alternative treatment of the uniqueness problem for embedding relationist theories, (...) developed independently of RTM. Friedman's approach differs from that of RTM in securing uniqueness by adding new primitives to the physical system A in contrast to the RTM approach which adds new axioms. Friedman's proposal has recently been developed and defended by Catton and Solomon (1988). This method of solving the uniqueness problem is here argued to be substantially inferior to the RTM method, both in practice and in principle. In practice we find that in none of the concrete examples offered to illustrate the method is the uniqueness problem actually solved in general. Moreover we find that in the most interesting case (addition to the system A of a finite number of relations of finite degree) the method is in principle incapable of success for mathematical reasons. In addition to these technical difficulties there are compelling methodological reasons for preferring the RTM method to the method of adding primitives. (shrink)
Debates about the ontological implications of the general theory of relativity have long oscillated between spacetime substantivalism and relationism. I evaluate such debates by claiming that we need a third option, which I refer to as “structural spacetime realism.” Such a tertium quid sides with the relationists in defending the relational nature of the spacetime structure, but joins the substantivalists in arguing that spacetime exists, at least in part, independently of particular physical objects and events, the degree of “independence” (...) being given by the extent to which geometrical laws exist “over and above” physical events exemplifying them. By showing that structural spacetime realism is the natural outcome of a semantic, model-theoretic approach to the nature of scientific theories, I conclude by arguing that the notion of partial isomorphic representation is the most plausible candidate to connect spacetime models with reality. (shrink)
Pekka Lahti is a prominent exponent of the renaissance of foundational studies in quantum mechanics that has taken place during the last few decades. Among other things, he and coworkers have drawn renewed attention to, and have analyzed with fresh mathematical rigor, the threat of inconsistency at the basis of quantum theory: ordinary measurement interactions, described within the mathematical formalism by Schrödinger-type equations of motion, seem to be unable to lead to the occurrence of definite measurement outcomes, whereas the same (...) formalism is interpreted in terms of probabilities of precisely such definite outcomes. Of course, it is essential here to be explicit about how definite measurement results (or definite properties in general) should be represented in the formalism. To this end Lahti et al. have introduced their objectification requirement that says that a system can be taken to possess a definite property if it is certain (in the sense of probability 1) that this property will be found upon measurement. As they have gone on to demonstrate, this requirement entails that in general definite outcomes cannot arise in unitary measuring processes.In this paper we investigate whether it is possible to escape from this deadlock. As we shall argue, there is a way out in which the objectification requirement is fully maintained. The key idea is to adapt the notion of objectivity itself, by introducing relational or perspectival properties. It seems that such a “relational perspective” offers prospects of overcoming some of the long-standing problems in the interpretation of quantum mechanics. (shrink)
I interpret the anti-idealist manoeuverings of the second half of Moore's 'The refutation of idealism', material as widely cited for its discussion of 'transparency' and 'diaphanousness' as it is deeply obscure. The centerpiece of these manoeuverings is a phenomenological argument for a relational view of perceptual phenomenal character, on which, roughly, 'that which makes the sensation of blue a mental fact' is a non-intentional relation of conscious awareness, a view close to the opposite of the most characteristic contemporary view going (...) under the transparency rubric. The discussion of transparency and diaphanousness is a sidelight, its principal purpose to shore up the main line of argumentation against criticism; in those passages all Moore argues is that the relation of conscious awareness is not transparent, while acknowledging that it can seem to be. (shrink)
In his “Space, supervenience and substantivalism”, Le Poidevin proposes a substantivalism in which space is discrete, implying that there are unmediated spatial relations between neighboring primitive points. This proposition is motivated by his concern that relationism suffers from an explanatory lacuna and that substantivalism gives rise to a vicious regress. Le Poidevin implicitly requires that the relationist be committed to the “only x and y ” principle regarding spatial relations. It is not obvious that the relationist is committed to (...) this principle in such a context. An additional motivation for Le Poidevin's argument, that space should be considered to be discrete, is that he believes that substantivalists are committed to a vicious regress. I show that the regress is in fact not of the vicious variety. These two main arguments show that Le Poidevin's suggestion that we drop the density postulate for space is unnecessary. (shrink)
Julian Barbour's approach to dynamics is reviewed. With a particular focus on questions of explanation and confirmation, the approach is contrasted with standard formulations of dynamics. This paper expands upon my commentary on Lawrence Sklar's paper at the Philosophy of Time Society meeting at the APA's Central Division meeting in Chicago, April 2004. Although a commentary, the current paper is comprehensible without reference to Sklar's paper.
Moderate relativism -- The framework -- The distribution of content -- Radical vs. moderate relativism -- Two levels of content -- Branch points for moderate relativism -- The debate over temporalism (1) : do we need temporal propositions? -- Modal vs. extensional treatments of tense -- What is at stake? -- Modal and temporal innocence -- Temporal operators and temporal propositions in an extensional framework -- The debate over temporalism (2) : can we believe temporal propositions? -- An epistemic argument (...) against temporalism -- Rebutting Richard's argument -- Relativistic disagreement -- Relativization and indexicality -- Index, context, and content -- The two-stage picture : Lewis vs. Kaplan and Stalnaker -- Rescuing the two-stage picture -- Content, character, and cognitive significance -- Experience and subjectivity -- Content and mode -- Duality and the fallacy of misplaced information -- The content of perceptual judgements -- Episodic memory -- Immunity to error through misidentification -- Implicit self-reference -- Weak and strong immunity -- Quasi-perception and quasi-memory -- Reflexive states -- Relativization and reflexivity -- The (alleged) reflexivity of de se thoughts -- Reflexivity : internal or external? -- What is wrong with reflexivism -- The first person point of view -- De se thoughts and subjectivity -- Memory and the imagination -- Imagination and the self-- Imagination, empathy, and the quasi-de se -- Egocentricity and beyond -- Unarticulated constituents in the lekton? -- The context-dependence of the lekton : how far can we go? -- Unarticulatedness and the 'concerning' relation -- Three (alleged) arguments for the externality principle -- Invariance -- Self-relative thoughts -- The problem of the essential indexical -- Perry against relativized propositions -- Context-relativity -- Implicit and explicit de se thoughts -- Shiftability -- The generalized reflexive constraint -- Parametric invariance and m-shiftability -- Free shiftability -- The anaphoric mode : a Bühlerian perspective. (shrink)
There is no adequate understanding of contemporary Jewish and Christian theology without reference to Martin Buber. Buber wrote numerous books during his lifetime (1878-1965) and is best known for I and Thouand Good and Evil. Buber has influenced important Protestant theologians like Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Paul Tillich, and Reinhold Niebuhr. His appeal is vast--not only is he renowned for his translations of the Hebrew Bible but also for his interpretation of Hasidism, his role in Zionism, and his writings in (...) psychotherapy and political philosophy. In addition to a general introduction, each chapter is individually introduced, illuminating the historical and philosophical context of the readings. Footnotes explain difficult concepts, providing the reader with necessary references, plus a selective bibliography and subject index. (shrink)
The twofold world -- Three relational realms -- What is "genuine community" -- Who is the "real I"? -- Glimpsing the "eternal thou" -- The way of "turning" -- Postscript -- Frequently asked questions -- The way of "inclusion".
The paper focuses on one central aspect of Karl Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge: his exemption of the contents of mathematics and the natural sciences from sociological investigations. After emphasizing the importance of Mannheim’s contribution and his exemption-thesis to the history and development of the field and the problem of relativism, I survey several interpretations of the thesis – especially those put forward by proponents of the so-called ‘Strong Programme’. I argue that these interpretations do not get the philosophical background and (...) impetus of Mannheim’s contribution right. By distinguishing between naturalistic and anti-naturalistic strands in Mannheim’s work I propose a new reading on which Mannheim did not exempt the contents of the areas in question principally or because of a lack of nerve and will. It is argued that Mannheim’s exemption-thesis rather is a consequence of his own sketchy sociological investigations of ‘the paradigm of the natural sciences’. (shrink)
Fine (2007) argues that Frege’s puzzle and its relatives demonstrate a need for a basic reorientation of the field of semantics. According to this reorientation, the domain of semantic facts would be closed not under the classical consequence relation but only under a stronger relation Fine calls “manifest consequence.” I examine Fine’s informally sketched analyses of manifest consequence, showing that each can be amended to determine a class of strong consequence relations. A best candidate relation emerges from each of the (...) two classes, and I prove that the two candidates extensionally coincide. The resulting consequence relation is of independent interest, for it might be held to constitute a cogent standard of reasoning that proceeds under a deficient grasp on the identity of objects. (shrink)
Instead of accepting instants of time as metaphysically basic entities, many philosophers regard them as abstractions from something else. There is the Russell-Whitehead view that times are maximal classes of simultaneous events; the linguistic ersatzer's proposal that times are maximally consistent sets of sentences or propositions; and the view that times are made up of temporal parts of material objects. This paper discusses the advantages and disadvantages of these various proposals and concludes in favor of a particular version of linguistic (...) ersatzism about time. (shrink)
Our thought and talk are situated. They do not take place in a vacuum but always in a context, and they always concern an external situation relative to which they are to be evaluated. Since that is so, François Recanati argues, our linguistic and mental representations alike must be assigned two layers of content: the explicit content, or lekton, is relative and perspectival, while the complete content, which is absolute, involves contextual factors in addition to what is explicitly represented. Far (...) from reducing to the context-independent meaning of the sentence-type or, in the psychological realm, to the 'narrow' content of mental representations, the lekton is a level intermediate between context-invariant meaning and full propositional content. Recognition of that intermediate level is the key to a proper understanding of context-dependence in language and thought. Going beyond the usual discussions of indexicality and unarticulated constituents in the philosophy of language, Recanati turns to the philosophy of mind for decisive arguments in favour of his approach. He shows, first, that the lekton is the notion of content we need if we are to properly understand the relations between perception, memory, and the imagination, and second, that the psychological 'mode' is what determines the situation the lekton is relative to. In this framework he provides a detailed account of de se thought and the first person point of view. In the last part of the book, Recanati discusses the special freedom we have, in discourse and thought, to shift the situation of evaluation. He traces that freedom to a special mode - the anaphoric mode - which enables us to go beyond the egocentric stage of pre-human thought. (shrink)
This paper sketches a taxonomy of forms of substantivalism and relationism concerning space and time, and of the traditional arguments for these positions. Several natural sorts of relationism are able to account for Newton's bucket experiment. Conversely, appropriately constructed substantivalism can survive Leibniz's critique, a fact which has been obscured by the conflation of two of Leibniz's arguments. The form of relationism appropriate to the Special Theory of Relativity is also able to evade the problems raised by (...) Field. I survey the effect of the General Theory of Relativity and of plenism on these considerations. (shrink)