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Profile: Thomas Bontly (University of Connecticut)
  1. Thomas D. Bontly (2009). The Nature and Structure of Content • by Jeffrey C. King. Analysis 69 (2):365-367.
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  2. Thomas D. Bontly (2006). What is an Empirical Analysis of Causation? Synthese 151 (2):177 - 200.
    Philosophical accounts of causation have traditionally been framed as attempts to analyze the concept of a cause. In recent years, however, a number of philosophers have proposed instead that causation be empirically reduced to some relation uncovered by the natural sciences: e.g., a relation of energy transfer. This paper argues that the project of empirical analysis lacks a clearly defined methodology, leaving it uncertain how such views are to be evaluated. It proposes several possible accounts of empirical analysis and argues (...)
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  3. Thomas D. Bontly (2005). Conversational Implicature and the Referential Use of Descriptions. Philosophical Studies 125 (1):1 - 25.
    This paper enters the continuing fray over the semantic significance of Donnellan’s referential/attributive distinction. Some holdthat the distinction is at bottom a pragmatic one: i.e., that the difference between the referential use and the attributive use arises at the level of speaker’s meaning rather the level of sentence-or utterance-meaning. This view has recently been challenged byMarga Reimer andMichael Devitt, both of whom argue that the fact that descriptions are regularly, that is standardly, usedto refer defeats the pragmatic approach. The present (...)
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  4. Thomas D. Bontly (2005). Exclusion, Overdetermination, and the Nature of Causation. Journal of Philosophical Research 30:261-282.
    A typical thesis of contemporary materialism holds that mental properties and events supervene on, without being reducible to, physical properties and events. Many philosophers have grown skeptical about the causal efficacy of irreducibly supervenient properties, however, and one of the main reasons is an assumption about causation which Jaegwon Kim calls the causal exclusion principle. I argue here that this principle runs afoul of cases of genuine causal overdetermination.Many would argue that causal overdetermination is impossible anyway, but a careful analysis (...)
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  5. Thomas D. Bontly (2005). Modified Occam's Razor: Parsimony, Pragmatics, and the Acquisition of Word Meaning. Mind and Language 20 (3):288–312.
    Advocates of linguistic pragmatics often appeal to a principle which Paul Grice called Modified Occam's Razor: 'Senses are not to be multiplied beyond necessity'. Superficially, Grice's principle seems a routine application of the principle of parsimony ('Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity'). But parsimony arguments, though common in science, are notoriously problematic, and their use by Griceans faces numerous objections. This paper argues that Modified Occam's Razor makes considerably more sense in light of certain assumptions about the processes (...)
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  6. Thomas D. Bontly (2005). Proportionality, Causation, and Exclusion. Philosophia 32 (1-4):331-348.
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  7. Thomas D. Bontly (2005). The Things We Mean. Review of Metaphysics 58 (4):916-917.
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  8. Thomas D. Bontly (2002). The Supervenience Argument Generalizes. Philosophical Studies 109 (1):75-96.
    In his recent book, Jaegwon Kim argues thatpsychophysical supervenience withoutpsychophysical reduction renders mentalcausation `unintelligible'. He also claimsthat, contrary to popular opinion, his argumentagainst supervenient mental causation cannot begeneralized so as to threaten the causalefficacy of other `higher-level' properties:e.g., the properties of special sciences likebiology. In this paper, I argue that none ofthe considerations Kim advances are sufficientto keep the supervenience argument fromgeneralizing to all higher-level properties,and that Kim's position in fact entails thatonly the properties of fundamental physicalparticles are causally efficacious.
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  9. Thomas D. Bontly (2001). Should Intentionality Be Naturalized? In D. Walsh (ed.), Evolution, Naturalism and Mind. Cambridge University Press. 43-60.
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  10. Thomas D. Bontly (1998). Individualism and the Nature of Syntactic States. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49 (4):557-574.
    It is widely assumed that the explanatory states of scientific psychology are type-individuated by their semantic or intentional properties. First, I argue that this assumption is implausible for theories like David Marr's [1982] that seek to provide computational or syntactic explanations of psychological processes. Second, I examine the implications of this conclusion for the debate over psychological individualism. While most philosophers suppose that syntactic states supervene on the intrinsic physical states of information-processing systems, I contend they may not. Syntatic descriptions (...)
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