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Profile: T. Parent (Virginia Tech)
  1. T. Parent, An Objection to the Laplacean Chalmers.
    I discuss David Chalmers’ “scrutability thesis,” roughly that a Laplacean intellect could know every truth about the universe from a “compact class” of basic truths. It is argued that despite Chalmers’ remarks to the contrary, the thesis is problematic owing to quantum indeterminacy. Chalmers attempts to “frontload” various principles into the compact class to help out. But though frontloading may succeed in principle, Chalmers does not frontload enough to avoid the problem.
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  2. T. Parent, A Puzzle About Kinds and Kind Terms.
    The term ‘kind’ denotes kinds. Yet many generics are thought to denote kinds also, like the subject-terms in ‘Dinosaurs are extinct’, ‘Water is a liquid’, and ‘The mosquito carries malaria’. This may be an adequate view for the linguist’s purposes--however, it raises a puzzle for the ontologist. The problem is that what is often claimed about kinds is never claimed about dinosaurs, water, and the mosquito. Thus, kinds are sometimes claimed to be abstract objects, immanent universals, nominal essences, etc. But (...)
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  3. T. Parent, Content Externalism and Quine's Criterion Are Incompatible.
    Externalism holds that the content of our utterances and thoughts are determined partly by the environment. Here, I offer an argument which suggests that externalism is incompatible with a natural view about ontological commitment--namely, the Quinean view that such commitments are fixed by the range of the variables in your theory. The idea in brief is that if Oscar mistakenly believes that water = XYZ, the externalist ontologically commits Oscar to two waterish kinds, whereas the Quinean commits him to one (...)
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  4. T. Parent, Conservative Meinongianism.
    This paper defends the Meinongian thesis that “there are objects of which it is true that there are no such objects,” re: fictitious and illusory objects. I first formulate the problem of negative existentials in a novel way, and discuss why this new version is more forceful against anti-Meinongians. Additional data is then raised to vex anti-Meinongians—e.g., the truth of ‘Pegasus is imaginary’, and a reading of ‘There actually are illusory objects’ where it comes out true. The Meinongian, in contrast, (...)
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  5. T. Parent, Externalism and "Knowing What" You Think.
    Some worry that semantic externalism is incompatible with knowing by introspection what content your thoughts have. In this paper, I examine one primary argument for this incompatibilist worry, the slow-switch argument. Following Goldberg (2006), I construe the argument as attacking the conjunction of externalism and skeptic-proof knowledge of content, where such knowledge would be immune to skeptical doubt. Goldberg, following Burge (1988), attempts to reclaim such knowledge for the externalist; however, I contend that all Burge-style accounts (at best) vindicate that (...)
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  6. T. Parent, Infallibilism About Self-Knowledge II: Paratactic Judging.
    This paper defends a strong infallibilism about a type of second-order judgment. The claim is that in a specified set of instances, “I am judging that I am judging that p” semantically entails “I am judging that p.” The paper begins by reviewing a weaker, Burge-style infallibilism; this serves to introduce nine caveats which are carried over to the stronger infallibility thesis. Next, a paratactic account of second-order judging is developed, where the second-order judgment takes the form of “I am (...)
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  7. T. Parent, Modal Realism and the Meaning of 'Exist'.
    Here I first raise an argument purporting to show that Lewis’ Modal Realism ends up being completely trivial. But although I reject this line, the argument reveals how difficult it is to interpret Lewis’ thesis that possibilia “exist.” Four natural interpretations are considered, yet upon reflection, none appear entirely adequate. In particular, under the three different “concretist” interpretations of ‘exist’, Modal Realism looks insufficient for genuine ontological commitment. Whereas under the “multiverse” interpretation, Modal Realism ends up being a theory of (...)
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  8. T. Parent, On the PROVER9 Ontological Argument.
    Oppenheimer & Zalta have re-devised their non-modal version of the ontological argument, with the help of their impressive automated reasoning engine, PROVER9. The authors end up rejecting the new argument; however, the theist has a rejoinder worth considering. But after presenting this rejoinder, I highlight that the conceivability of the being does not imply its possibility. One lesson is that even non-modal ontological arguments must engage modal matters concerning God. Another lesson is that if PROVER9 derives a conclusion from fewer (...)
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  9. T. Parent, Paradox with Just Self-Reference.
    If a semantically open language allows self-reference, one can show there is a predicate which is both satisfied and unsatisfied by a self-referring term. The argument requires something akin to diagonalization on substitution instances of a definition-scheme (*): ‘x is Lagadonian iff, in the g(t)th substitution instance of (*), x = t’. (Given a substitution instance of (*), let t be the term replacing 'x' and let g(t) be the Godel code for t.) Assuming an appropriate enumeration of the instances, (...)
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  10. T. Parent, Rule Following and Meta-Ontology.
    Wittgenstein’s rule-following argument indicates that linguistic understanding does not consist in knowing interpretations, whereas Kripkenstein’s version suggests that meaning cannot be metaphysically fixed by interpretations. In the present paper, rule-following considerations are used to suggest that certain ontological questions cannot be answered by interpretations. Specifically, if the aim is to specify the ontology of a language, an interpretation cannot answer what object an expression of L denotes, if the interpretations are themselves L-expressions. Briefly, that’s because the ontology of such interpretations, (...)
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  11. T. Parent, Self-Reference is Sufficient for Paradox.
    This is a much less technical argument for the same conclusion from my “Paradox with just Self-Reference,” viz., that if self-reference is unconstrained, paradox will result. I first show that in classical logic, expressions must be seen as linguistic types rather than tokens. (Otherwise, ‘this very term = this very term’ is a false instance of the Law of Identity.) But then, one can derive a contradiction from the premise ‘This sentence is not derived’, or from the premise ‘ ‘this (...)
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  12. T. Parent, A New Modal Liar.
    Montague's modal liar is thought to show that 'necessarily' cannot be treated as a predicate of sentences. However, if 'necessarily' is treated as an operator on propositions (as is standard), we can also generate paradox (and without Montague's contentious use of the necessitation rule). The reasoning of the new modal liar is not immediately obvious--however, assuming that accessibility is reflexive, one can derive a contradiction from the proposition: This very proposition is not necessary. Thus the key advantage of the operator (...)
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  13. T. Parent, The Modal Ontological Argument Meets Modal Fictionalism.
    This paper attacks the modal ontological argument, as advocated by Plantinga among others. Whereas other criticisms in the literature reject one of its premises, the present line is that the argument is invalid. This becomes apparent once we run the argument assuming fictionalism about possible worlds. Broadly speaking, the problem is that if one defines “x” as something that exists, it does not follow that there is anything satisfying the definition. Yet unlike non-modal ontological arguments, the modal argument commits this (...)
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  14. T. Parent, Self-Knowledge and Externalism About Empty Concepts.
    Several authors have argued that, assuming we have apriori knowledge of our own thought-contents, semantic externalism implies that we can know apriori contingent facts about the empirical world. After presenting the argument, I shall respond by resisting the premise that an externalist can know apriori: If s/he has the concept water, then water exists. In particular, Boghossian's Dry Earth example suggests that such thought-experiments do not provide such apriori knowledge. Boghossian himself rejects the Dry Earth experiment, however, since it would (...)
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  15. T. Parent (forthcoming). Theory Dualism and the Metalogic of Mind-Body Problems. In Christopher Daly (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook to Philosophical Method. Palgrave.
    The paper defends the philosophical method of "regimentation" by example, especially in relation to the theory of mind. The starting point is the Place-Smart after-image argument: A green after-image will not be located outside the skull, but if we cracked open your skull, we won't find anything green in there either. (If we did, you'd have some disturbing medical news.) So the after-image seems not to be in physical space, suggesting that it is non-physical. In response, I argue that the (...)
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  16. T. Parent (2014). Knowing‐Wh and Embedded Questions. Philosophy Compass 9 (2):81-95.
    Do you know who you are? If the question seems unclear, it might owe to the notion of ‘knowing-wh’ (knowing-who, knowing-what, knowing-when, etc.). Such knowledge contrasts with ‘knowing-that’, the more familiar topic of epistemologists. But these days, knowing-wh is receiving more attention than ever, and here we will survey three current debates on the nature of knowing-wh. These debates concern, respectively, (1) whether all knowing-wh is reducible to knowing-that (‘generalized intellectualism’), (2) whether all knowing-wh is relativized to a contrast proposition (...)
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  17. T. Parent (2013). Infallibility Naturalized: Reply to Hoffmann. Dialectica 67 (3):353-358.
    The present piece is a reply to G. Hoffmann on my infallibilist view of self-knowledge. Contra Hoffmann, it is argued that the view does not preclude a Quinean epistemology, wherein every belief is subject to empirical revision.
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  18. T. Parent (2013). Externalism and Self-Knowledge. In Ed Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Entry on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. A summary of the literature on whether externalism about thought content precludes non-empirical knowledge of one's own thoughts.
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  19. T. Parent (2013). In the Mental Fiction, Mental Fictionalism is Fictitious. The Monist 96 (4):605-621.
    Here I explore the prospects for fictionalism about the mental, modeled after fictionalism about possible worlds. Mental fictionalism holds that the mental states posited by folk psychology do not exist, yet that some sentences of folk psychological discourse are true. This is accomplished by construing truths of folk psychology as “truths according to the mentalistic fiction.” After formulating the view, I identify five ways that the view appears self-refuting. Moreover, I argue that this cannot be fixed by semantic ascent or (...)
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  20. T. Parent (2013). Note on Induction. Think 12 (33):37-39.
    Research Articles Ted Parent, Think , FirstView Article(s).
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  21. T. Parent (2013). Ontic Terms and Metaontology, Or: On What There Actually Is. Philosophical Studies:1-16.
    Terms such as ‘exist’, ‘actual’, etc., (hereafter, “ontic terms”) are recognized as having uses that are not ontologically committing, in addition to the usual commissive uses. (Consider, e.g., the Platonic and the neutral readings of ‘There is an even prime’.) In this paper, I identify five different noncommissive uses for ontic terms, and (by a kind of via negativa) attempt to define the commissive use, focusing on ‘actual’ as my example. The problem, however, is that the resulting definiens for the (...)
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  22. T. Parent (2012). Modal Metaphysics. In J. Feiser & B. Dowden (eds.), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This summarizes of some prominent views about the metaphysics of possible worlds.
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  23. T. Parent (2008). Quine and Logical Truth. Erkenntnis 68 (1):103 - 112.
    It is a consequence of Quine’s confirmation holism that the logical laws are in principle revisable. Some have worried this is at odds with another dictum in Quine, viz., that any translation which construes speakers as systematically illogical is ipso facto inadequate. In this paper, I try to formulate exactly what the problem is here, and offer a solution to it by (1) disambiguating the term ‘logic,’ and (2) appealing to a Quinean understanding of ‘necessity.’ The result is that the (...)
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  24. T. Parent (2007). Infallibilism About Self-Knowledge. Philosophical Studies 133 (3):411-424.
    Descartes held the view that a subject has infallible beliefs about the contents of her thoughts. Here, I first examine a popular contermporary defense of this claim, given by Burge, and find it lacking. I then offer my own defense appealing to a minimal thesis about the compositionality of thoughts. The argument has the virtue of refraining from claims about whether thoughts are “in the head;” thus, it is congenial to both internalists and externalists. The considerations here also illuminate how (...)
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