Elsewhere I have argued that standard theories of linguistic competence are committed to taking seriously talk of “representations of” standard linguistic entities (“SLEs”), such as NPs, VPs, morphemes, phonemes, syntactic and phonetic features. However, it is very doubtful there are tokens of these “things” in space and time. Moreover, even if were, their existence would be completely inessential to the needs of either communication or serious linguistic theory. Their existence is an illusion: an extremely stable perceptual state we regularly enter (...) as a result of being stimulated by the wave forms we regularly produce when we execute our intentions to utter such tokens (a view I call “Folieism”). In his Ignorance of Language, Michael Devitt objects to this view, arguing that, “On Rey’s view, communication seems to rest on miraculous guesses.” I argue here that my view is not prey to his objections, and actually affords a scientifically more plausible view than his “empiricist” alternative. Specifically, I reply to his objections that my view couldn’t explain the conventionality of language and success of communication (§2.1), that I am faced with intractable difficulties surrounding the identity of intentional inexistents (§2.2), and that, contrary to my view, SLEs can be relationally defined (§2.3). Not only can Folieism survive Devitt’s objections, but (§3) it also provides a more satisfactory account of the role of linguistic intuitions than the “empirical” account on which he insists. (shrink)
Wittgenstein’s views invite a modest, functionalist account of mental states and regularities, or more specifically a causal/computational, representational theory of the mind (CRTT). It is only by understandingWittgenstein’s remarks in the context of a theory like CRTT that his insights have any real force; and it is only by recognizing those insights that CRTT can begin to account for sensations and our thoughts about them. For instance, Wittgenstein’s (in)famous remark that “an inner process stands in need of outward criteria” (PI:§580), (...) so implausible read behaviorally, is entirely plausible if the “outward” is allowed to include computational facts about our brains. But what is especially penetrating about Wittgenstein’s discussion is his unique diagnosis of our puzzlement in this area, in particular, his suggestion that it is due to our captivation by “pictures” whose application to reality is left crucially under-specified. It is only by understanding. What sustains the naive picture is not a captivation by language, but, at least in part, our largely involuntary reactions to things that look and act like our conspecifics. We project a property into them correlative to that reaction in ourselves, and are, indeed, unwilling to project it into things that do not induce that reaction. (shrink)
A common view is that ceteris paribus clauses render lawlike statements vacuous, unless such clauses can be explicitly reformulated as antecedents of ?real? laws that face no counterinstances. But such reformulations are rare; and they are not, we argue, to be expected in general. So we defend an alternative sufficient condition for the non-vacuity of ceteris paribus laws: roughly, any counterinstance of the law must be independently explicable, in a sense we make explicit. Ceteris paribus laws will carry a plethora (...) of explanatory commitments; and claims that such commitments are satisfied will be as (dis) confirmable as other empirical claims. (shrink)
Throughout his discussion, Clark speaks constantly of phenomenal and qualitative properties. But properties, like any other posited entities, ought to earn their explanatory keep, and this I don't think Clark's phenomenal or qualitative properties actually do. I argue that all the work he enlists for them could be done better by purely intentional contents of our sentient states; that is, they could better be regarded as mere intentional properties, not real ones. Clark eschews such intentionalism, but I see no reason (...) for him to resist a properly deflated version of it that I sketch. Moreover, such intentionalism seems to me to stand a better chance than Clark's reliance on properties in explaining the peculiar ways in which experience appears to us that so concern the qualiaphile. (shrink)
Supplements externalist "locking" theories of content with an account of internal "conceptions" by which thoughts lock onto environmental kinds, with that aid of dthat operators, thus solving various philosophical problems.
The present article articulates the strategy of much of my work to date, which has been concerned to understand how we can possibly come to have any objective understanding of the mind. Generally, I align myself with those who think the best prospect of such an understanding lies in a causal/computational/representational theory of thought (CRTT). However, there is a tendency in recent developments of this and related philosophical views to burden the crucial property of intentionality with what I call Strong (...) Externalism, a state’s intentional content being determined by some real external phenomenon to which the state is causally related. I argue against this tendency, drawing attention to the crucial role in cognitive scientific explanations of empty concepts, such as [angel], and the “intentional inexistents” that such concepts “represent.” This obliges me to take a brief excursion into what I hope is a minimal metaphysics, defending a methodology I call the “LEXX” strategy that treats phenomena as real only insofar as they are needed in genuine explanations. After a brief discussion of the need for greater patience generally regarding a theory of intentionality, I deploy this strategy with regard to many phenomena that are the purported objects of mental states, e.g. triangles, cones, words, sentences, colors, mental images and qualia. I argue that these phenomena do not actually exist: they are mere intentional inexistents, unreal projections of the intentional content of various mental states, and not themselves needed in any genuine explanations. In a concluding section, I summarize my suggestions about how a CRTT can explain the various illusions we have in this regard, particularly those concerning consciousness and qualia. (shrink)
I argue that, pace Chomsky (2000, 2003), standard theories of linguistic competence are committed to taking talk of representations seriously, in particular, to recognizing that the “of x” clause that invariably follows “representation” is a way of specifying that representation’s intentional content. One reason to insist upon intentional content in such cases is that the “x” in “of x” may not exist (as in "of Zeus"). This issue is especially relevant to linguistics since, recapitulating considerations raised by many linguists, I (...) go on to argue that most of the SLEs themselves seldom, if ever exist: it is doubtful there are many, if any, tokens of them in space and time; indeed, their existence is by and large inessential to the needs of either communication or serious linguistic theory. All that linguistic theory requires to be real in this regard are the representations, presumably entokened in people’s brains, understood, however, in terms of their intentional contents. (shrink)
The article gives a graphical interpretation of the concept of risk vulnerability. It shows that in a specific context of binary lotteries the assumption of risk vulnerability adds to prudence what the assumption of decreasing absolute risk aversion adds to risk aversion. We end the presentation showing that results can be extended to the concept of multiplicative risk vulnerability.
“Intentional content,” as I understand it, is whatever serves as the object of “propositional” attitude verbs, such as “think,” “judge,” “represent,” “prefer” (whether or not these objects are “propositions”). These verbs are standardly used to pick out the intentional states invoked to explain the states and behavior of people and many animals. I shall take the “normativity of the intentional,” or “Normativism,” to be the claim that any adequate theory of intentional states involves considerations of value not essentially involved in (...) the natural sciences. Thus, according to Normativism, whether or not someone thinks that fish sleep, or even can represent fish at all, depends upon making a judgment about the person’s goodness or rationality, of a sort that would not be involved in merely determining whether or not fish in fact sleep. (shrink)
According to the “Folieism” I have been recently defending, communication is a kind of folie à deux in which speakers and hearers enjoy a stable and innocuous illusion of producing and hearing standard linguistic entities (“SLE”s) that are seldom if ever actually produced. In the present paper, after summarizing the main points of the view, I defend it against efforts of Barber, Devitt and Miščević to rescue SLEs in terms of social, response-dependent proposals. I argue that their underlying error is (...) a failure to appreciate the important shift of the explanatory locus in modern linguistics, from external objects to internal conceptions. I go on to show how (i) pace Devitt, this shift is entirely compatible with there being conventional aspects to language, and also serves to distinguish the ease of natural language from the waggle dance of the bees; and (ii) pace Barber and Smith, it is compatible with an appearance / reality distinction, and with reliance on testimony in epistemology. I conclude with further arguments about why, pace Collins and Matthews, intentionality is a crucial feature of linguistic explanation, even if it is ultimately spelt out largely in terms of computational role. (shrink)
This paper discusses theoretical issues concerning Vygotsky’s work that have remained unaddressed in the dominant interpretations of his work, either in the former Soviet psychology or in the dominant Western interpretations. This paper builds on interpretations of Vygotsky’s concepts oriented by the unity of emotional and cognitive processes and focused on the search for new psychical unities on which to build a systemic representation of the human mind. Because Vygotsky did not provide a definite position on such questions, I have (...) centered on the analysis of the consequences of his legacy for the development of a definition of subjectivity from a cultural-historical standpoint. (shrink)
This paper discusses theoretical issues concerning the topic of subjectivity as it has been recently developed within a cultural – historical framework. This provides a new theoretical and epistemological basis to this issue that does not lead to the misinterpretations of subjectivity found in the modern philosophical approaches to theorizing consciousness. This paper builds on interpretations related to Vygotsky’s theory of consciousness that do not follow the current dominant interpretations in Western Psychology. The analyses take departure in the concept of (...) ‘sense’ introduced by Vygotsky at the end of his work and proceeds to propose the concept of subjective sense as the corner stone for the study of subjectivity. The concept of subjective configuration is discussed and finally, the concept of social subjectivity is introduced understood as those symbolic processes and subjective senses that characterize social scenarios and institutions. (shrink)
Fodor and LePore's attack on conceptual role semantics relies on Quine's attack on the traditional analytic/synthetic and a priori/a posteriori distinctions, which in turn consists of four arguments: an attack on truth by convention; an appeal to revisability; a claim of confirmation holism; and a charge of explanatory vacuity. Once the different merits of these arguments are sorted out, their proper target can be seen to be not the Traditional Distinctions, but an implicit assumption about their superficial availability that we (...) have abundant reason to reject. Once we reject it, we can see how issues of the absorbtion of conventions, the revisability of belief, and confirmation holism are compatible with the Traditional Distinctions, and that Quine's discussion only serves to camouflage the question of whether some confirmation relations are constitutive of meaning and knowable a priori. (shrink)
This note examines the theory of optimal insurance purchasing in the presence of a nonpecuniary background risk. The occurrence of the qualitative uninsurable background loss can increase, decrease or can leave the marginal utility of wealth unchanged, whereas a financial background loss (as in Doherty and Schlesinger, 1883a) always increases it. Existing theorems on the optimal level of insurance and the optimal form of insurance contracts are shown to hold only under restrictive assumptions on the correlation level between risks. The (...) paper shows that sufficient conditions for the validity of the theorems depend not only on the correlation between the insurable and noninsurable losses, but also on the variation of the marginal utility of wealth with respect to the nonpecuniary variable. (shrink)