The eleven original essays in this collection competently cover a wide range of Robert Stalnaker’s philosophical work, and Stalnaker’s replies to them are clear, well-thought out, and informative. Anyone interested in Stalnaker’s philosophy or the areas covered in this volume is well advised to read it.
I discuss two independent topics concerning Michael Devitt's Coming To Our Senses. My discussion of the first topic, naturalism, is brief. My discussion of the second topic, analyticity, is divided into four subsections, the first of which examines the definition of analyticity and is by far the longest.
On the first day of the class for Introduction to Philosophy, your professor tells you that if you keep perfect attendance, complete every homework satisfactorily, participate in class discussion actively, and score 100% in every examination, you will certainly get an A+ for the course. You work hard and by the end of the semester, you think you have accomplished all these things. You are pleased. Why? Because you think as follows: “I have kept perfect attendance, completed every homework satisfactorily, (...) participated in class discussion actively, and scored 100% in every exam. This means I get an A+ for the course because, as the professor said, if I keep perfect attendance, complete every homework satisfactorily, participate in class discussion actively, and score 100% in every exam, I get an A+ for the course.”. (shrink)
Deep theorizing about possibility requires theorizing about possible objects. One popular approach regards the notion of a possible object as intertwined with the notion of a possible world. There are two widely discussed types of theory concerning the nature of possible worlds: actualist representationism and possibilist realism. They support two opposing views about possible objects. Examination of the ways in which they do so reveals difficulties on both sides. There is another popular approach, which has been influenced by the philosophy (...) of Alexius Meinong. The Meinongian approach is relevant to theorizing about possible objects because it attempts to construct a general theory of objects other than ordinary concrete existing objects. Independently of the debate about the nature of possible worlds or about Meinongianism, it is not always as straightforward as it may at first appear to determine whether putative possible objects are indeed possible. Another category of object similar to that of a possible object is the category of a fictional object. Although initially attractive, the idea that fictional objects are possible objects should not be accepted blindly. An important instance of theoretical usefulness of possible objects is their central role in the validation of two controversial theorems of a simple quantified modal logic. (shrink)
When I assertively utter the sentence `Spot is a cat', the sentence I utter expresses a proposition. The truth condition of the proposition so expressed is determined by the semantic values of the singular term, `Spot', and the predicate, `is a cat'. If `Spot' refers to a certain particular entity E and `is a cat' expresses a certain particular property P, then the proposition in question is true if and only if E has P. Such is the theoretical cash value (...) of reference. The referent of a given singular term generally figures in this manner in the truth condition of the proposition expressed by any sentence containing the singular term outside direct quotations and other referentially opaque contexts.1 Given this understanding of the notion of reference, I wish to address an important question: How is the reference of a proper name determined? (shrink)
In my book, Worlds and Individuals, Possible and Otherwise , I use the novel idea of modal tense to respond to a number of arguments against modal realism. Peter van Inwagen’s million-carat-diamond objection is one of them. It targets the version of modal realism by David Lewis and exploits the fact that Lewis accepts absolutely unrestricted quantification. The crux of my response is to use modal tense to neutralize absolutely unrestricted quantification. Seahwa Kim says that even when equipped with modal (...) tense, I am unsuccessful, given my view of reality and the proper use of modal tense in speaking of reality. I counter her attempt at resurrecting van Inwagen’s objection and clarify how we should use modal tense and how we should talk about reality. (shrink)
Modal realism -- Time, space, world -- Existence -- Actuality -- Modal realism and modal tense -- Transworld individuals and their identity -- Existensionalism -- Impossibility -- Proposition and relief -- Fictional worlds -- Epistemology.
Modal realists should fashion their theory by postulating\nand taking seriously the modal equivalent of tense, or\n_modal tense_. This will give them a uniform way to\nrespond to five different objections, one each by Skyrms,\nQuine, and Peacocke, and two by van Inwagen, and suggest a\nnon-Lewisian path to modal realism.
It may appear that in order to be any way at all, a thing must exist. A possible – worlds version of this claim goes as follows: (E) For every x, for every possible world w, Fx at w only if x exists at w. Here and later in (R), the letter ‘F’ is used as a schematic letter to be replaced with a one – place predicate. There are two arguments against (E). The first is by analogy. Socrates is (...) widely admired now but he does not exist now. So, it is not the case that for every x, for every time t, Fx at t only if x exists at t. Possible worlds are analogous to times. Therefore, (E) is false (cf., Kaplan 1973: 503 – 05 and Salmon 1981: 36 – 40). For the second argument, replace ‘F’ with ‘does not exist’. (E) then says that for every x, for every possible world w, x does not exist at w only if x exists at w. This is obviously false. Therefore (E) is false (cf., Kaplan 1977: 498). Despite their considerable appeal, these arguments are not unassailable. The first argument suffers from the weakness inherent in any argument from analogy; the analogy it rests on may not.. (shrink)
Modal Dimensionalism is a metaphysical theory about possible worlds that is naturally suggested by the often-noted parallelism between modal logic and tense logic. It says that the universe spreads out not only in spatiotemporal dimensions but also in a modal dimension. It regards worlds as nothing more or less than indices in the modal dimension in the way analogous to the way in which Temporal Dimensionalism regards temporal points and intervals as indices in the temporal dimension. Despite its naturalness and (...) intuitive appeal. Modal Dimensionalism has been largely ignored while the debates between David Lewis and his critics have dominated the discourse on the nature of possible worlds. It is high time that we took Modal Dimensionalism seriously as a viable alternative. (shrink)
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional individual. So is his favorite pipe. Our pre-theoretical intuition says that neither of them is real. It says that neither of them really, or actually, exists. It also says that there is a sense in which they do exist, namely, a sense in which they exist “in the world of” the Sherlock Holmes stories. Our pre-theoretical intuition says in general of any fictional individual that it does not actually exist but exists “in the world of” (...) the relevant fiction. I wish to defend this pretheoretical intuition. To do so, I need to defend two claims: that fictional individuals do not actually exist, and that they exist “in the world of” the relevant fiction. The aim of this paper is to defend the first claim. (shrink)
Approximately thirty years ago, Barbara H. Partee tried to think of counterexamples to David Lewis’s observation that no intransitive verbs appeared to have intensional subject positions. She came up with such verbs as ‘rise,’ ‘change,’ and ‘increase.’ Lewis agreed that they were indeed counterexamples to his observation. He mentioned it to Richard Montague, who incorporated these verbs into his now famous grammatical theory for English.
Consider the following sentence schemata: (1) The proposition that P is F; (2) The property of being Q is F; (3) The relation of being R is F, where `P' is a schematic letter for a sentence, `Q' and `F' are schematic letters for a nonrelational predicate, and `R' is a schematic letter for a relational predicate. For example, if we substitute `Snow is white' for `P', `famous' for `F' in (1), `round' for `Q', `instantiated' for `F' in (2), `a (...) father of' for `R', and `asymmetric' for `F' in (3), then we obtain the following particular sentences. (shrink)
Let us call a sentential context semantically transparent if and only if all synonymous expressions are substitutable for one another in it salva veritate. A sentential context is semantically opaque if and only if it is not semantically transparent. Nathan Salmon has boldly advanced a refreshingly crisp theory according to which belief contexts are semantically transparent.1 If he is right, belief contexts are much better behaved than widely suspected.2 Impressive as it is, I do not believe that Salmon's theory is (...) completely satisfactory. I shall not try to refute his theory, however. My aim is more modest. It is to show that his theory, in conjunction with a number of auxiliary but important claims he makes to buttress the theory, seems to lead to semantic opacity of belief contexts. (shrink)
Meaning Solipsism says that it is possible for there to be a meaningful state without any other meaningful state. The meaning of such a solo meaningful state should be non-natural. The best strategy for establishing Meaning Solipsism is to argue for the determination of the meaning of a possible solo meaningful state via the set of entities the meaning of the state fits. Embracing merely possible and impossible entities is the most straightforward way to do so. Also, a good way (...) to honor analayticities the meaning of a solo meaningful state gives rise to is to insist on certain facts about impossible entities as non-negotiable brute facts. (shrink)
Those who object to David Lewis' modal realism express qualms about philosophical respectability of the Lewisian notion of a possible world and its correlate notion of an inhabitant of a possible world. The resulting impression is that these two notions either stand together or fall together. I argue that the Lewisian notion of a possible world is otiose even for a good Lewisian modal realist, and that one can carry out a good Lewisian semantics for modal discourse without Lewisian possible (...) worls. I do so by generalizing Lewis' own idea that restrictions on quantification come and go with the pragmatic wind and relativizing possible worlds as shifting domains of discourse. I then suggest a way to soften the infamous incredulous stare. (shrink)