The Linguistic Turn is the title of an influential anthology edited by Richard Rorty, published in 1967. In his introduction, Rorty explained: The purpose of the present volume is to provide materials for reflection on the most recent philosophical revolution, that of linguistic philosophy. I shall mean by “linguistic philosophy” the view that philosophical problems are problems which may be solved (or dissolved) either by reforming language, or by understanding more about the language we presently use. (1967: 3) ‘The linguistic (...) turn’ has subsequently become a standard vague phrase for a diffuse event — some regard it as the event — in twentieth century philosophy, one not confined to signed-up linguistic philosophers in Rorty’s sense. For those who took the turn, language was somehow the central theme of philosophy. There is an increasingly widespread sense that the linguistic turn is past. In this essay I ask how far the turn has been, or should be, reversed. (shrink)
1. As John Hawthorne and Maria Lasonen-Aarnio appreciate, some of the central issues raised in their ‘Knowledge and Objective Chance’ arise for all but the most extreme theories of knowledge. In a wide range of cases, according to very plausible everyday judgments, we know something about the future, even though, according to quantum mechanics, our belief has a small but nonzero chance (objective probability) of being untrue. In easily constructed examples, we are in that position simultaneously with respect to many (...) different propositions about the future that are equiprobable and probabilistically independent of each other, at least to a reasonable approximation. (shrink)
Some systems of modal logic, such as S5, which are often used as epistemic logics with the ‘necessity’ operator read as ‘the agent knows that’, are problematic as general epistemic logics for agents whose computational capacity does not exceed that of a Turing machine because they impose unwarranted constraints on the agent’s theory of non-epistemic aspects of the world, for example by requiring the theory to be decidable rather than merely recursively axiomatizable. To generalize this idea, two constraints on an (...) epistemic logic are formulated: r.e. conservativeness, that any recursively enumerable theory R in the sublanguage without the epistemic operator is conservatively extended by some recursively enumerable theory in the language with the epistemic operator which is permitted by the logic to be the agent’s overall theory; the weaker requirement of r.e. quasi-conservativeness is similar except for applying only when R is consistent. The logic S5 is not even r.e. quasiconservative; this result is generalized to many other modal logics. However, it is also proved that the modal logics S4, Grz and KDE are r.e. quasi-conservative and that K4, KE and the provability logic GLS are r.e. conservative. Finally, r.e. conservativeness and r.e. quasiconservativeness are compared with related non-computational constraints. (shrink)
Audi explains what he means by ‘normative’ in the case of belief: cognitive (epistemic) normativity is a matter of what ought to be believed, where the force of the “ought” is in part to attribute liability to criticism and negative (disapproving) attitudes toward the person(s) in question.
Second-order logic and modal logic are both, separately, major topics of philosophical discussion. Although both have been criticized by Quine and others, increasingly many philosophers find their strictures uncompelling, and regard both branches of logic as valuable resources for the articulation and investigation of significant issues in logical metaphysics and elsewhere. One might therefore expect some combination of the two sorts of logic to constitute a natural and more comprehensive background logic for metaphysics. So it is somewhat surprising to find (...) that philosophical discussion of secondorder modal logic is almost totally absent, despite the pioneering contribution of Barcan.. (shrink)
The paper is a critique of the widespread conception of logic as a neutral arbiter between metaphysical theories, one that makes no `substantive’ claims of its own (David Kaplan and John Etchemendy are two recent examples). A familiar observation is that virtually every putatively fundamental principle of logic has been challenged over the last century on broadly metaphysical grounds (however mistaken), with a consequent proliferation of alternative logics. However, this apparent contentiousness of logic is often treated as though it were (...) neutralized by the possibility of studying all these alternative logics within an agreed metalogical framework, typically that of first-order logic with set theory. In effect, metalogic is given the role of neutral arbiter. The paper will consider a variety of examples in which deep logical disputes re-emerge at the meta-level. One case is quantified modal logic, where some varieties of actualism require a modal meta-language (as opposed to the usual non-modal language of possible worlds model theory) in order not to make their denial of the Barcan formula self-defeating. Similarly, on some views the intended model theory for second-order logic can only be given in a second-order metalanguage—this may be needed to avoid versions of Russell’s paradox when the first-order quantifiers are read as absolutely unrestricted. It can be shown that the phenomenon of higher-order vagueness eventually forces fuzzy logical treatments of vagueness to use a fuzzy metalanguage, with consequent repercussions for what first-order principles are validated. The difficulty of proving the completeness of first-order intuitionistic logic on its intended interpretation by intuitionistically rather than just classically valid means is a more familiar example. These case studies will be discussed in some detail to reveal a variety of ways in which even metalogic is metaphysically contested, substantial and non-neutral. (shrink)
The possibility of justified true belief without knowledge is normally motivated by informally classified examples. This paper shows that it can also be motivated more formally, by a natural class of epistemic models in which both knowledge and justified belief (in the relevant sense) are represented. The models involve a distinction between appearance and reality. Gettier cases arise because the agent's ignorance increases as the gap between appearance and reality widens. The models also exhibit an epistemic asymmetry between good and (...) bad cases that sceptics seem to ignore or deny. (shrink)
The five commentators on my paper ‘Gettier Cases in Epistemic Logic’ (GCEL) demonstrate how fruitful the topic can be. Especially in Brian Weatherson's contribution, and to some extent in those of Jennifer Nagel and Jeremy Goodman, much of the material constitutes valuable development and refinement of ideas in GCEL, rather than criticism. In response, I draw some threads together, and answer objections, mainly those in the papers by Stewart Cohen and Juan Comesaña and by Goodman.
Contributors to this volume approach Rawls's idea from a number of perspectives: its philosophical foundations, institutional implications, and possible connections to the future of left-of-center politics.
Property-Owning Democracy: Rawls and Beyond features a collection of original essays that represent the first extended treatment of political philosopher John Rawls' idea of a property-owning democracy. Offers new and essential insights into Rawls's idea of "property-owning democracy" Addresses the proposed political and economic institutions and policies which Rawls's theory would require Considers radical alternatives to existing forms of capitalism Provides a major contribution to debates among progressive policymakers and activists about the programmatic direction progressive politics should take in the (...) near future. (shrink)
In response to Paul Boghossian's objections in ‘Inferentialism and the epistemology of logic’, this paper defends counterexamples offered by Paolo Casalegno and the author to an inferentialist account of what it is to understand a logical constant, on which Boghossian had relied in his explanation of our entitlement to reason according to basic logical principles. The importance for understanding is stressed of non-inferential aspects of the use of logical constants. Boghossian's criteria for individuating concepts are also queried.
In Crispin Wright's ‘Meaning and Assertibility’, the main point of disagreement with Paolo Casalegno's critique of verificationist semantics in ‘The Problem of Non-conclusiveness’ concerns Wright's diagnosis of one of Casalegno's arguments as depending on an over-estimation of the proper explanatory task of a semantic theory. The present note argues that there is no such dependence.
Can we turn the screw on counter-examples to the KK principle (that if one knows that P, one knows that one knows that P)? The idea is to construct cases in which one knows that P, but the epistemic status for one of the proposition that one knows that P is much worse than just one’s not knowing it. Of course, since knowledge is factive, there can’t be cases in which one knows that P and knows that one doesn’t know (...) that P (we can’t strengthen ¬KKp to K¬Kp)! If we can construct such cases, we may be able to use them to understand some puzzling epistemic phenomena. (shrink)
Abstract: Some proponents of “experimental philosophy” criticize philosophers' use of thought experiments on the basis of evidence that the verdicts vary with truth-independent factors. However, their data concern the verdicts of philosophically untrained subjects. According to the expertise defence, what matters are the verdicts of trained philosophers, who are more likely to pay careful attention to the details of the scenario and track their relevance. In a recent article, Jonathan M. Weinberg and others reply to the expertise defence that there (...) is no evidence for such expertise. They now receive a reply in this article, which argues that they have misconstrued the dialectical situation. Since they have produced no evidence that philosophical training is less efficacious for thought experimentation than for other cognitive tasks for which they acknowledge that it produces genuine expertise, such as informal argumentation, they have produced no evidence for treating the former more sceptically than the latter. (shrink)
Mental competence, or ‘mental capacity’ as it is referred to in recent legislation in the UK, is a concept that is expanding rapidly as a common currency in health and social care services. Neelke Doorn’s “Anthropological Reflection on the Concept of Competence” makes for fascinating and highly relevant reading and the legal and ethical discussions she describes taking place in the Netherlands would appear to echo many of those that have occurred in the UK over the last 5 to 10 (...) years, but with some significant differences. However, Doorn’s new conceptualization of mental competence causes some concerns, particularly if it was to be applied in services currently provided to people where their mental capacity may be .. (shrink)
Necessitism is the view that necessarily everything is necessarily something; contingentism is the negation of necessitism. The dispute between them is reminiscent of, but clearer than, the more familiar one between possibilism and actualism. A mapping often used to ‘translate’ actualist discourse into possibilist discourse is adapted to map every sentence of a first-order modal language to a sentence the contingentist (but not the necessitist) may regard as equivalent to it but which is neutral in the dispute. This mapping enables (...) the necessitist to extract a ‘cash value’ from what the contingentist says. Similarly, a mapping often used to ‘translate’ possibilist discourse into actualist discourse is adapted to map every sentence of the language to a sentence the necessitist (but not the contingentist) may regard as equivalent to it but which is neutral in the dispute. This mapping enables the contingentist to extract a ‘cash value’ from what the necessitist says. Neither mapping is a translation in the usual sense, since necessitists and contingentists use the same language with the same meanings. The former mapping is extended to a second-order modal language under a plural interpretation of the second-order variables. It is proved that the latter mapping cannot be. Thus although the necessitist can extract a ‘cash value’ from what the contingentist says in the second-order language, the contingentist cannot extract a ‘cash value’ from some of what the necessitist says, even when it raises significant questions. This poses contingentism a serious challenge. (shrink)
Second-order logic and modal logic are both, separately, major topics of philosophical discussion. Although both have been criticized by Quine and others, increasingly many philosophers find their strictures uncompelling, and regard both branches of logic as valuable resources for the articulation and investigation of significant issues in logical metaphysics and elsewhere. One might therefore expect some combination of the two sorts of logic to constitute a natural and more comprehensive background logic for metaphysics. So it is somewhat surprising to find (...) that philosophical discussion of secondorder modal logic is almost totally absent, despite the pioneering contribution of Barcan. (shrink)
John Rawls is arguably the most important political philosopher of the past century. His theory of justice has set the agenda for debate in mainstream political philosophy for the past forty years, and has had an important influence in economics, law, sociology, and other disciplines. However, despite the importance and popularity of Rawls's work, there is no clear picture of what a society that met Rawls's principles of justice would actually look like. This article sets out to explore that question.
It is known that indicative and subjunctive conditionals interact differently with a rigidifying "actually" operator. The paper studies this difference in an abstract setting. It does not assume the framework of possible world semantics, characterizing "actually" instead by the type of logically valid formulas to which it gives rise. It is proved that in a language with such features all sentential contexts that are congruential (in the sense that they preserve logical equivalence) are extensional (in the sense that they preserve (...) material equivalence). For a subjunctive conditional, the natural conclusion to draw is that it is non-congruential. It is much harder to defend the claim that an indicative conditional is non-congruential. The pressure to treat the indicative conditional as truth-functional is correspondingly greater. The implications of these results for attempts to interpret the indicative conditional as an epistemic or doxastic operator are assessed. (shrink)
Two opposing tendencies in the philosophy of language go by the names of ‘referentialism’ and ‘inferentialism’ respectively. In the crudest version of the contrast, the referentialist account of meaning gives centre stage to the referential semantics for a language, which is then used to explain the inference rules for the language, perhaps as those which preserve truth on that semantics (since a referential semantics for a language determines the truth-conditions of its sentences). By contrast, the inferentialist account of meaning gives (...) centre stage to the inference rules for the language, which are then used to explain its referential semantics, perhaps as the semantics on which the rules preserve truth. On pain of circularity, we cannot combine both directions of explanation. (shrink)
First, some reminiscences. In the years 1973-80, when I was an undergraduate and then graduate student at Oxford, Michael Dummett’s formidable and creative philosophical presence made his arguments impossible to ignore. In consequence, one pole of discussion was always a form of anti-realism. It endorsed something like the replacement of truth-conditional semantics by verification-conditional semantics and of classical logic by intuitionistic logic, and the principle that all truths are knowable. It did not endorse the principle that all truths are known. (...) Nor did it mention the now celebrated argument, first published by Frederic Fitch (1963), that if all truths are knowable then all truths are known. (shrink)
Operational epistemology is, to a first approximation, the attempt to provide cognitive rules such that one is in principle always in a position to know whether one is complying with them. In Knowledge and its Limits, I argue that the only such rules are trivial ones. In this paper, I generalize the argument in several ways to more thoroughly probabilistic settings, in order to show that it does not merely demonstrate some oddity of the folk epistemological conception of knowledge. Some (...) of the generalizations involve a formal semantic framework for treating epistemic probabilities of epistemic probabilities and expectations of expectations. The upshot is that operational epistemology cannot work, and that knowledge-based epistemology has the right characteristics to avoid its problems. (shrink)
In conversations between native speakers, words such as ‘same’ and ‘identical’ do not usually cause much difficulty. We take it for granted that others use them with the same sense as we do. If it is unclear whether numerical or qualitative identity is intended, a brief gloss such as ‘one thing not two’ for the former or ‘exactly alike’ for the latter removes the unclarity. In this paper, numerical identity is intended. A particularly conscientious and logically aware speaker might explain (...) what ‘identical’ means in her.. (shrink)
Roy Sorensen's criticism of my use of margin for error principles to explain ignorance in borderline cases fails because it misidentifies the relevant margin for error principles. His alternative explanation in terms of truth-maker gaps is briefly criticized.
Metaphysical modalities are definable from counterfactual conditionals, and the epistemology of the former is a special case of the epistemology of the latter. In particular, the role of conceivability and inconceivability in assessing claims of possibility and impossibility can be explained as a special case of the pervasive role of the imagination in assessing counterfactual conditionals, an account of which is sketched. Thus scepticism about metaphysical modality entails a more far-reaching scepticism about counterfactuals. The account is used to question the (...) significance of the distinction between a priori and a posteriori knowledge. (shrink)
The second volume in the Blackwell Brown Lectures in Philosophy, this volume offers an original and provocative take on the nature and methodology of philosophy. Based on public lectures at Brown University, given by the pre-eminent philosopher, Timothy Williamson Rejects the ideology of the 'linguistic turn', the most distinctive trend of 20th century philosophy Explains the method of philosophy as a development from non-philosophical ways of thinking Suggests new ways of understanding what contemporary and past philosophers are doing.