Causal analyses of one’s knowing that p have recently emphasized the involvement of cognitive virtues in coming to believe that p. John Greco suggests that in order to deal with Gettier-type cases, a virtue analysis of knowing should include a requirement that one’s knowing does not in a certain way involve abnormality. Yet Greco’s emphasis on statistical abnormality either renders his analysis subject to a generality problem or to objections regarding certain Gettier-type cases. When (...) we instead consider abnormality in the sense of a causally differentiating factor in relation to a causal contrast situation, the account remains unclear concerning its application to an interesting non-Gettier-type case concerning chance. The exploration of these shortcomings casts doubt on the epistemological usefulness of the schema, ‘If you know, then there is no abnormality in your being right.’. (shrink)
When employing causal terminology in analyzing intentional action, and sometimes in analyzing additional phenomena, philosophers have required that relevant causal chains be free of what they call causal deviance or waywardness. But there is a wider type of deviance that needs to be excluded, of which causal deviance is only a species. Carl Ginet’s On Action considers examples of both types of deviance. A criticism of his treatment of such examples leads to a more satisfactory general analysis of nondeviant chains (...) in terms of the manifestations of powers and the occasions for such manifestations. (shrink)
Causal processes that are technically called deviant or wayward causal chains must be ruled out when analyzing various phenomena, including intentional action, perception, and the operation of causal mechanisms involved in the manifesting of causal powers. Irving Thalberg is incorrect in arguing that this problem does not arise when analyzing intentional action. After criticizing solutions proposed by Christopher Peacocke and David Lewis, I provide a general analysis of non-deviance. In application to intentional action, the account is seen to be preferable (...) to that of Michael H. Robins, and proves to be adequate to rule out what Alfred R. Mele calls cases of tertiary waywardness. (shrink)
Having an intention can be analyzed in terms of certain causal powers possessed by an instance of one’s having a thought of a certain state of affairs, where a certain preference is what causes those powers to be present. A suitable understanding of such a prcference emerges from a discussion of Wayne A. Davis’ analysis of intending. However, Davis’ emphasis on belief and desire rather than on instances of having a thought leads to difficulties for his analysis of intending. After (...) supplementing my own analysis with a sufficient condition of intentional action, I defend my approach by relating it to D.F. Gustafson’s Intention and Agency. (shrink)
A complex theory concerning powers, natures, and causal necessity has emerged from the writings of P. H. Hare, E. H. Madden, and R. Harré. In the course of rebutting objections that other critics have raised to the power account of causation, I correct three of its genuine difficulties: its attempt to analyze power attributions in terms of conditional statements; its characterization of the relation between something's powers and its nature; and its doctrines concerning conceptual necessity. The resulting interpretation of causal (...) modalities is then subsumed under a more general power account of modality, related at a number of points to considerations concerning powers, and further illustrating their philosophical importance. (shrink)
Richard Rorty's eliminative materialism is an attack on dualism that has frequently been misrepresented and incorrectly criticized. By taking account of the mistakes that philosophers have made concerning eliminative materialism, a proper definition of the doctrine and a clarification of its relation to traditional materialism will emerge, as well as an understanding of its true strengths and weaknesses. The discussion centers around the original manner in which Rorty defended eliminative materialism by means of analogies to the elimination of talk about (...) demons and talk about macroscopic physical objects. (shrink)
In order to assess the tenacity of psychoanalysts in continuing to use a concept of psychic energy, it is advisable to consider whether, as they sometimes claim, the concepts of energy, force, and work in psychoanalysis are akin to those in the natural sciences. Strong disanalogies suggest that the psychoanalytic concepts are quite different and used equivocally even within psychoanalysis. However, they may not be subject to the objections which certain critical psychoanalysts have raised.
Psychoanalysis regards many previously inexplicable phenomena as wish?fulfilments, which have meaning inasmuch as they express the person's wishes or affects. This might appear to make such psychoanalytic explanations rather like ordinary explanations of conduct and to enlarge the area of intentional and possibly that of responsible behavior. But a critique of these psychoanalytic accounts will show that they are very unlike accounts in terms of ordinary notions of fulfilling or expressing wishes and that the psychoanalytic concept of wish?fulfilment differs sufficiently (...) from the ordinary one for it to be difficult to determine how to test psychoanalytic hypotheses concerning wish?fulfilment by merely considering the way in which we assess claims utilizing the ordinary notion. In fact, such a critique will show that for a certain type of claim regarding wish?fulfilments, psychoanalysts have not indicated ways of confirming or disconfirming such claims ? in the sense that they have not shown how to find any evidence which would support these claims to a higher degree than contrary or contradictory claims. After offering the first part of this critique, which is a comparison of psychoanalytic and ordinary notions of fulfilling and expressing wishes, some considerations concerning a second part of the critique are presented regarding the connection between the construct of psychic energy and that of wish?fulfilment. (shrink)