The meaning of 'most' can be described in many ways. We offer a framework for distinguishing semantic descriptions, interpreted as psychological hypotheses that go beyond claims about sentential truth conditions, and an experiment that tells against an attractive idea: 'most' is understood in terms of one-to-one correspondence. Adults evaluated 'Most of the dots are yellow', as true or false, on many trials in which yellow dots and blue dots were displayed for 200 ms. Displays manipulated the ease of using a (...) 'one-to-one with remainder' strategy, and a strategy of using the Approximate Number System to compare of (approximations of) cardinalities. Interpreting such data requires care in thinking about how meaning is related to verification. But the results suggest that 'most' is understood in terms of cardinality comparison, even when counting is impossible. (shrink)
Kaplanian, two-dimensional theories secure rigidity for indexicals by positing special contexts and semantic mechanisms reserved only for indexicals. The result is a deep and unexplained chasm between expressions that depend on the extra-linguistic context and expressions that depend on the discourse context. Theories that treat indexicals as anaphoric, presuppositional expressions (e.g., Zeevat 1999; Roberts 2002; Hunter & Asher 2005; Maier 2006, 2009) have the potential to be more minimal and general than Kaplanian, two-dimensional theories—the mechanism of presupposition, unlike that (...) of Kaplanian character, is useful for the semantics of a great many expressions. Maier (2006, 2009), however, has argued that presuppositional theories of indexicals must be supplemented with a two-dimensional semantics in order to secure rigidity for indexicals. If this is right, then presuppositional theories of indexicals will suffer from the limitations of Kaplan's system. This article argues that Maier is not right on this point: presuppositions can completely replace Kaplanian characters. A presuppositional theory can secure rigidity for indexicals without positing two independent dimensions of meaning that can never interact; in particular, it can do so without positing that indexicals have a special kind of meaning that by its nature can never interact with the kind of meaning that Kaplan called ‘content’. The result is a more general, minimal and flexible theory that better handles the data on indexicals. (shrink)
Critiques of Knowing explores what happens to science and computing when we think of them as texts. Lynette Hunter elegantly weaves together such vast areas of thought as rhetoric, politics, AI, computing, feminism, science studies, aesthetics and epistemology. This book shows us that what we need is a radical shake-up of approaches to the arts if the critiques of science and computing are to come to any fruition.
Rival Enlightenments is a major reinterpretation of early modern German intellectual history. Ian Hunter treats the civil philosophy of Pufendorf and Thomasius and the metaphysical philosophy of Leibniz and Kant as rival intellectual cultures or paideia, thereby challenging all histories premised on Kant's supposed reconciliation and transcendence of the field. This landmark study argues that the marginalization of civil philosophy in post-Kantian philosophical history may itself illustrate the continuing struggle between the rival enlightenments. Combining careful scholarship with vivid polemic, (...)Hunter presents penetrating insights for philosophers and historians alike. (shrink)
In this paper, I try to make sense of the idea that true knowledge attributions characterize something that is more valuable than true belief and that survives even if, as Contextualism implies, contextual changes make it no longer identifiable by a knowledge attribution. I begin by sketching a familiar, pragmatic picture of assertion that helps us to understand and predict how the words “S knows that P” can be used to draw different epistemic distinctions in different contexts. I then argue (...) that the examples provided by Cohen and DeRose meant to illustrate Contextualism fail to do so, and I construct an example that does. I conclude by considering the response that an objective assessment of skepticism depends, not on what we might use sentences of the form “S knows that P” to say, but on what such sentences themselves say—on their literal, context-invariant meanings. I argue that there is little reason to believe that our words have such context-invariant meanings, and I suggest that the pragmatic picture of assertion can secure a rich enough conception of objectivity to address the skeptic. (shrink)
I argue that entertaining a proposition is not an action. Such events do not have intentional explanations and cannot be evaluated as rational or not. In these respects they contrast with assertions and compare well with perceptual events. One can control what one thinks by doing something, most familiarly by reciting a sentence. But even then the event of entertaining the proposition is not an action, though it is an event one has caused to happen, much as one might cause (...) oneself to see a book by looking at it. I also discuss how this may support the view that thinking about the world is a source of information about it. (shrink)
In their development of causal decision theory, Allan Gibbard and William Harper advocate a particular method for calculating the expected utility of an action, a method based upon the probabilities of certain counterfactuals. Gibbard and Harper then employ their method to support a two-box solution to Newcomb’s paradox. This paper argues against some of Gibbard and Harper’s key claims concerning the truth-values and probabilities of counterfactuals involved in expected utility calculations, thereby disputing their analysis of Newcomb’s Paradox. If we are (...) right, then Gibbard and Harper’s method of calculating expected utility does not adequately represent rational choice. (shrink)
Widescopism, as I call it, holds that names are synonymous with descriptions that are required to take wide scope over modal adverbs. Scott Soames has recently argued that Widescopism is false. He identifies an argument that is valid but which, he claims, a defender of Widescopism must say has true premises and a false conclusion. I argue, first, that a defender of Widescopism need not in fact say that the target arguments conclusion is false. Soames argument that she must confuses, (...) I claim, modal adverbs and modal predicates. I then argue that even if she did reject the conclusion, she could nonetheless hold that the target arguments first premise is ambiguous as between a true reading, on which the argument is invalid, and a false reading, on which the argument is valid. I conclude that Soames argument against Widescopism fails. (shrink)
This paper is about what is distinctive about first-person beliefs. I discuss several sets of puzzling cases of first-person belief. The first focus on the relation between belief and action, while the second focus on the relation of belief to subjectivity. I argue that in the absence of an explanation of the dispositional difference, individuating such beliefs more finely than truth conditions merely marks the difference. I argue that the puzzles reveal a difference in the ways that I am disposed (...) to revise my beliefs about myself. This point develops the insight that Anscombe and others had that those of an agent's beliefs about himself that manifest that special self-consciousness are not based on observation, testimony or inference. The puzzles show that this kind of self-consciousness involves, not a special kind of belief or even a special kind of self-reference, but a special kind of belief revision policy. (shrink)
The common ground in an inquiry consists of what the participants agree on, at least for the sake of the inquiry. The relations between the factual and linguistic components of common ground are notoriously difficult to trace. I clarify them by exploring how modal disagreements – disagreements about how things might be – interact with the linguistic and the factual common ground. I argue that modal agreement is essential to common ground of any kind.
What I wish to consider here is how understanding something is related to the justiﬁcation of beliefs about what it means. Suppose, for instance, that S understands the name “Clinton” and has a justiﬁed belief that it names Clinton. How is S’s understanding related to that belief’s justiﬁcation? Or suppose that S understands the sentence “Clinton is President”, or Jones’ assertive utterance of it, and has a justiﬁed belief that that sentence expresses the proposition that Clinton is President, or that (...) Jones said that Clinton is President. How is S’s understanding related to the justiﬁcations of these beliefs? (shrink)
Some philosophical proposals seem to die hard. In a recent paper, Jason Stanley has worked to resurrect the description theory of reference, at least as it might apply to natural kind terms like ‘elm’ (Stanley, 1999). The theory’s founding idea is that to understand ‘elm’ one must know a uniquely identifying truth about elms. Famously, Hilary Putnam showed that ordinary users of ‘elm’ may understand it while lacking such knowledge, and may even be unable to distinguish elms from beeches (Putnam, (...) 1975). In response, Stanley claims that linguistic understanding in the case of natural kind terms comes in levels, and that only those at the top level need have the knowledge in question. The description theory, in Stanley’s hands, applies only to those with top level understanding and it is their understanding that ﬁxes the term’s reference. To use the term successfully, those with inferior understanding need only be defer- ential to those at the top. However, Stanley’s appeal to expert knowledge fails to revive the description theory. (shrink)
The article is an interpretation of about the first half of chapter xi of part ii of "philosophical investigations". Wittgenstein is treated as having the single aim of arguing down the massive temptation to suppose that the expression 'to see...As...', And such similar expressions as 'to recognize', Record the occurrence of an experience distinct from the experience of simply seeing the object seen as or recognized. Ways are suggested of making a kind of sense of most of the very perplexing (...) remarks in this stretch of the "investigations". (shrink)
This is a critical examination of Quine's "Two Dogmas" that leaves nothing much of Quine's paper still standing. It concludes with a short study of a bit of bad work in philosophy that results from following the doctrines of "Two Dogmas".
The Human Tissue Act 2004 in the United Kingdom clearly represents not a principled approach but instead a compromise, a pragmatic approach which balances several different ethical considerations against each other. In regards to the use of tissue in research it has left much of the more difficult decisions to be made by research ethics committees on a case by case basis. In particular it is now the role of research ethics committees to decide whether research can be carried out (...) using human tissue where no consent was given for the use of this tissue in research. Likewise research ethics committees are now charged with approving of human tissue banks which then need no further ethical approval to carry out research solely using tissue from that bank. There has however been little guidance in regards to the decisions these committees must make. This paper aims to delineate these decisions and offer some philosophical guidance to research ethics committees in making these decisions. (shrink)
Coordination problems, problems in which each agent's expected utility depends upon what other agents do, pose a problem for act utilitarianism. When the agents are act utilitarians and know of each other that they are so, they seem unable to achieve optimal outcomes in certain coordination problems. I examine various ways the act utilitarian might attempt to solve this problem, where act utilitarianism is interpreted within the framework of subjective expected utility theory. In particular, a new method for computing expected (...) utility,dynamic deliberation, deserves examination as a possible act utilitarian solution to coordination problems. I argue that even dynamic deliberation fails to give the act utilitarian what he needs in coordination problems, and that the failure of act utilitarianism for such problems suggests the need for an alternative theory of moral choice along rule utilitarian lines. (shrink)
Working retrospectively in an uncertain field of knowledge, physicians are engaged in an interpretive practice that is guided by couterweighted, competing, sometimes paradoxical maxims. When you hear hoofbeats, don't think zebras, is the chief of these, the epitome of medicine's practical wisdom, its hermeneutic rule. The accumulated and contradictory wisdom distilled in clinical maxims arises necessarily from the case-based nature of medical practice and the narrative rationality that good practice requires. That these maxims all have their opposites enforces in students (...) and physicians a practical skepticism that encourages them to question their expectations, interrupt patterns, and adjust to new developments as a case unfolds. Yet medicine resolutely ignores both the maxims and the tension between the practical reasoning they represent and the claim that medicine is a science. Indeed, resolute epistemological naivete is part of medicine's accommodation to uncertainty; counterweighted, competing, apparently paradoxical (but always situational) rules enable physicians simultaneously to express and to ignore the practical reason that characterizes their practice. (shrink)
Oxford Approaches to Classical Literature (Series Editors: Kathleen Coleman and Richard Rutherford) introduces individual works of Greek and Latin literature to readers who are approaching them for the first time. Each volume sets the work in its literary and historical context, and aims to offer a balanced and engaging assessment of its content, artistry, and purpose. A brief survey of the influence of the work upon subsequent generations is included to demonstrate its enduring relevance and power. All quotations from the (...) original are translated into English. Plato's Symposium tells of a dinner party at a crucial point in Athenian history at which the guests decide that they will each in turn deliver a speech in praise of love. The humorous and brilliant work that follows points the way towards all Western thinking about love. The Symposium is also one of Plato's most sophisticated meditations on the practice of philosophy. This book introduces the literary and historical context of Plato's work, surveys and explains the arguments, and considers why Plato has cast this work in a highly unusual narrative form. A final chapter traces the influence of the Symposium from antiquity to the modern day. (shrink)
This paper demolishes the Churchlands' arguments for their Eliminative Materialism and casts doubt on the logical possibility of their thesis. In passing, the paper draws attention to a mistake in history of science made in one of the arguments.
A natural view is that linguistic understanding is a source of justification or evidence: that beliefs about the meaning of a text or speech act are prima facie justified when based on states of understanding. Neglect of this view is largely due to the widely held assumption that understanding a text or speech act consists in knowledge or belief. It is argued that this assumption rests, in part, on confusing occurrent states of understanding and dispositions to understand. It is then (...) argued that occurrent states of understanding are not states of belief of knowledge since a subject may fail to believe that a text or speech act means what she understands it to mean if she doubts the reliability or truth- fulness of that understanding. States of understanding, it is maintained, belong in the same epistemic category as states of perception and memory. (shrink)
In this groundbreaking collection of essays the history of philosophy appears in a new light, not as reason's progressive discovery of its universal conditions, but as a series of unreconciled disputes over the proper way to conduct oneself as a philosopher. By shifting focus from the philosopher as proxy for the universal subject of reason to the philosopher as a special persona arising from rival forms of self-cultivation, philosophy is approached in terms of the social office and intellectual deportment of (...) the philosopher, as a personage with a definite moral physiognomy and institutional setting. In so doing, this collection of essays by leading figures in the fields of both philosophy and the history of ideas provides access to key early modern disputes over what it meant to be a philosopher, and to the institutional and larger political and religious contexts in which such disputes took place. (shrink)
The Mind-Body problem is the problem of saying how a person’s mental states and events relate to his bodily ones. How does Oscar’s believing that water is cold relate to the states of his body? Is it itself a bodily state, perhaps a state of his brain or nervous system? If not, does it nonetheless depend on such states? Or is his believing that water is cold independent of his bodily states? And, crucially, what are the notions of dependence and (...) independence at issue here? (shrink)
Spinoza is supposed to have denied the existence of miracles. I argue that instead of denying them he offers his readers a way of understanding miracles within his own metaphysical system in which God and nature are identified. I then offer some historical conjectures as to why his view has been misunderstood so often and for so long.
Research involving human subjects is much more stringently regulated than many other nonresearch activities that appear to be at least as risky. A number of prominent figures now argue that research is overregulated. We argue that the reasons typically offered to justify the present system of research regulation fail to show that research should be subject to more stringent regulation than other equally risky activities. However, there are three often overlooked reasons for thinking that research should be treated as a (...) special case. First, research typically involves the imposition of risk on people who do not benefit from this risk imposition. Second, research depends on public trust. Third, the complexity of the moral decision making required favors ethics committees as a regulative solution for research. (shrink)
This is a review essay of printed editions of the correspondence of John Flamsteed, Jan Jonston and John Wallis, and of the CD-ROM edition of the Hartlib Papers. It raises various issues concerning the relationship between editions of correspondence and their archival base, and about the criteria used to decide what is appropriate to include as 'correspondence'. It also addresses the rationale of the electronic edition of the Hartlib Papers, particularly the second edition, which extends its remit from the main (...) archive at Sheffield to include a selection of ancillary material from other collections, questioning whether the effort involved would have been better employed in improving the basic resource. It then considers the use of electronic media in editing more generally, using the edition of Galileo's notes on motion to illustrate the potential for intensive editorial intervention in a text, in contrast to the more extensive method used in the Hartlib edition, and thereby drawing attention to some of the attitudes that electronic editing is prone to induce. (shrink)
forthcoming in Journal of Philosophical Research. This paper argues against David Armstrong’s view that singular beliefs are not dispositions. It also begins to develop the view that self-conscious belief is a matter of belief revision.