Jonathan Weinberg (2007) has argued that we should not appeal to intuition as evidence because it cannot be externally corroborated. This paper argues for the normative claim that Weinberg’s demand for external corroboration is misguided. The idea is that Weinberg goes wrong in treating philosophical appeal to intuition analogous to the appeal to evidence in the sciences. Traditional practice is defended against Weinberg’s critique with the argument that some intuitions are true simply in virtue of being intuited by the majority (...) of people. The argument proceeds by way of examining a paradigm case, Putnam’s TwinEarth. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against Twin-Earth externalism. The mistake that TwinEarth arguments rest on is the failure to appreciate the force of the following dilemma. Some features of things around us do matter for the purposes of conceptual classification, and others do not. The most plausible way to draw this distinction is to see whether a certain feature enters the cognitive perspective of the experiencing subject in relation to the kind in question or not. (...) If it does, we can trace conceptual differences to internal differences. If it doesn’t, we do not have a case of conceptual difference. Neither case supports TwinEarth externalism. (shrink)
A number of philosophers defend naturalistic moral realism by appeal to an externalist semantics for moral predicates. The application of semantic externalism to moral predicates has been attacked by Terence Horgan and Mark Timmons in a series of papers that make use of their “Moral TwinEarth” thought experiment. In response, several defenders of naturalistic moral realism have claimed that the Moral TwinEarth thought experiment is misleading and yields distorted and inaccurate semantic intuitions. If they (...) are right, the intuitions generated by Moral TwinEarth cannot be appealed to in arguments against externalist moral semantics. The most developed case against the Moral TwinEarth argument that follows this strategy is found in a paper by Stephen Laurence, Eric Margolis and Angus Dawson. Here I argue that their attack on the Moral TwinEarth thought experiment fails. Laurence, Margolis and Dawson have not shown that we have reason to distrust the semantic intuitions it generates. (shrink)
In order to rebut G. E. Moore’s open question argument, ethical naturalists adopt a theory of direct reference for our moral terms. T. Horgan and M. Timmons have argued that this theory cannot be applied to moral terms, on the ground that it clashes with competent speakers’ linguistic intuitions. While Putnam’s TwinEarth thought experiment shows that our linguistic intuitions confirm the theory of direct reference, as applied to ‘water’, Horgan and Timmons devise a parallel thought experiment about (...) moral terms, in order to show that this theory runs against our linguistic intuitions about such terms. My claim is that the Horgan–Timmons argument does not work. I concede that their thought experiment is a good way to test the applicability of the theory of direct reference to moral terms, and argue that the upshot of their experiment is not what they claim it is: our linguistic intuitions about Moral TwinEarth are parallel to, not different from, our intuitions about TwinEarth. (shrink)
This article is concerned with Mark Timmons and Terence Horgan's influential twin-earth argument against the semantic views of that school of thought in metaethics that has come to be known as “Cornell realism”. The semantic views of Cornell realism have been developed in greatest detail by Richard Boyd, and it is Boyd's view that is targeted by Timmons and Horgan. In the first part of the article, the twin-earth argument is introduced and two versions of it (...) are disentangled. Thereafter, a defensive strategy is developed against the most powerful version of the argument. The conclusion of the article is that Timmons and Horgan's argument does not succeed in showing that the semantic views associated with Cornell realism are false. (shrink)
Terence Horgan and Mark Timmons's Moral TwinEarth thought experiment poses a serious challenge for an influential kind of moral realism. It presents us with a case in which it is intuitive that two speakers are expressing a substantive disagreement with one another. However, the meta-semantics associated with this relevant form of moral realism entails that the speakers' moral predicates express different semantic contents, and thus, the moral sentences they utter do not express conflicting propositions. Consequently, this variety (...) of moral realism implies, wrongly, that the speakers do not express substantive disagreement after all. Some philosophers have objected to the Moral TwinEarth argument on the grounds that is possible for two speakers to express disagreement with one another, even if the moral sentences they utter do not express conflicting propositions. Heimer Geirsson supports this claim by appeal to the distinction between semantic reference and speaker reference. David Merli supports the same claim by noting that speakers whose moral sentences do not express conflicting propositions may nevertheless express a non-moral, practical disagreement over what to do. In this article, I argue that neither Geirsson nor Merli provides moral realists with a satisfying response to the Moral TwinEarth argument. (shrink)
Intentional states represent. Belief represents how we take things to be; desire represents how we would like things to be; and so on. To represent is to make a division among possibilities; it is to divide the possibilities into those that are consistent with how things are being represented to be and those that are not. I will call the possibilities consistent with how some intentional state represents things to be, its content. There is no suggestion that this is the (...) only legitimate notion of content, but for anyone who takes seriously the representational nature of intentional states, it must be one legitimate and central notion of content. To discover that DNA has a double helix structure is to make a selection from the various possible structures. (shrink)
In Chapters 4 and 5 of his 1998 book From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defence of Conceptual Analysis, Frank Jackson propounds and defends a form of moral realism that he calls both ‘moral functionalism’ and ‘analytical descriptivism’. Here we argue that this metaethical position, which we will henceforth call ‘analytical moral functionalism’, is untenable. We do so by applying a generic thought-experimental deconstructive recipe that we have used before against other views that posit moral properties and identify them with certain (...) natural properties, a recipe that we believe is applicable to virtually any metaphysically naturalist version of moral realism. The recipe deploys a scenario we call Moral TwinEarth. (shrink)
"Twim earth" examples have motivated a number of proposals for the lexicography of kind terms in natural languages. it is argued that these proposals create unacceptable difficulties for the analysis of de dicto propositional attitudes. a conservative solution of the twinearth problems is then proposed according to which they reflect pragmatic features of language use rather than semantic features of lexical content.
It is widely believed that Twin-Earth-style thought experiments show that the contents of a person's thoughts fail to supervene on her intrinsic properties. Several recent philosophers have made the further claim that Twin-Earth-style thought experiments produce metaphysically necessary conditions for the possession of certain concepts. I argue that the latter view is false, and produce counterexamples to several proposed conditions. My thesis is of particular interest because it undermines some attempts to show that externalism is incompatible (...) with privileged access. (shrink)
I say that it’s philosophically inexpensive because I think it is more convincing than any other Twin-Earth thought experiment in that it sidesteps many of the standard objections to the usual thought experiments. I also briefly discuss narrow contents and give an analysis of Putnam’s original argument.
In a series of articles, Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons have argued that Richard Boyd’s defence of moral realism, utilizing a causal theory of reference, fails. Horgan and Timmons construct a twinEarth-style thought experiment which, they claim, generates intuitions inconsistent with the realist account. In their thought experiment, the use of (allegedly) moral terms at a world is causally regulated by some property distinct from that regulating their use here on Earth; nevertheless, Horgan and Timmons claim, (...) it is intuitive that the inhabitants of this world disagree with us in their moral claims. Since any disagreement would be merely verbal were the alleged moral facts identical to or constituted by different natural facts, the identity or constitution claim must be false. I argue that their argument fails. Horgan and Timmons’ thought experiment is underdescribed; when we fill out the details, I claim, we shall see that the challenge to moral realism fades away. I sketch two possible interpretations of the (apparently) moral claims of the inhabitants of moral TwinEarth. On one interpretation, they fail to disagree with us because they actually agree with us; on the other, they fail to disagree with us because they are not moralizers at all. Which interpretation is true, I argue, will depend on the facts that explain the differences between us and the inhabitants of moral twinEarth. (shrink)
In "Milk, Honey, and the Good Life on Moral TwinEarth", David Copp explores some ways in which a defender of synthetic moral naturalism might attempt to get around our Moral TwinEarth argument. Copp nicely brings out the force of our argument, not only through his exposition of it, but through his attempt to defeat it, since his efforts, we think, only help to make manifest the deep difficulties the Moral TwinEarth argument (...) poses for the synthetic moral naturalist. (shrink)
A popular form of virtue epistemology—defended by such figures as Ernest Sosa, Linda Zagzebski and John Greco—holds that knowledge can be exclusively understood in virtue-theoretic terms. In particular, it holds that there isn't any need for an additional epistemic condition to deal with the problem posed by knowledge-undermining epistemic luck. It is argued that the sustainability of such a proposal is called into question by the possibility of epistemic twinearth cases. In particular, it is argued that such (...) cases demonstrate the need for virtue-theoretic accounts of knowledge to appeal to an independent epistemic condition which excludes knowledge-undermining epistemic luck. (shrink)
Hilary Putnam's TwinEarth thought experiment has come to have an enormous impact on contemporary philosophical thought. But while most of the discussion has taken place within the context of the philosophy of mind and language, Terence Horgan and Mark Timmons (H8cT) have defended the intriguing suggestion that a variation on the original thought experiment has important consequences for ethics.' In a series of papers, they' ve developed the idea of a Moral TwinEarth and have (...) argued that its significance is that it has the resources to undermine naturalistic versions of moral realism.' H8t T don't hold back in their assessment. "Moral Twin.. (shrink)
Making sense of twinearth intuitions with an information-theoretic account of content: information depends on relations in normal conditions, which are extrinsic. With remarks on the context-sensitivity of content-attribution.
Terence Horgan and Mark Timmons's 'moral twinearth argument' raises doubts about the naturalistic realist's ability to make sense of genuine disagreement. I offer three arguments the realist's behalf. First, I argue that the example at the heart of their argument is underdescribed; when fully developed, it loses its intuitive force. Second, I suggest that taking the stipulations of the Horgan-Timmons example seriously gives us reason to revise our initial judgments. Third, I propose combining naturalistic realism about moral (...) judgments with expressivism about the last ought before action in order to preserve the conflict between moralists and twin-moralists. (shrink)
Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons’s “Moral TwinEarth” thought experiment allegedly undercuts virtually any form of naturalist moral realism. I argue that a neo-Aristotelian conception of moral properties defeats Moral TwinEarth. Developing themes in the work of Peter Geach, Philippa Foot, and Rosalind Hursthouse, I sketch an Aristotelian moral semantics that is unique in construing terms like ‘right’ and ‘good’ exclusively as attributive adjectives that denote relational properties. On this view, moral goodness is a relational (...) property predicated of those human beings that satisfy kind-relative criteria of goodness; i.e., morally good human beings are good qua human being. The reference of moral terms is therefore fixed by the natural properties of human beings. This account ensures that moral facts cannot differ across worlds in which the relevant natural facts do not differ and thus defeats Moral TwinEarth. (shrink)
This paper is structured as follows. First, it offers a brief presentation of the TwinEarth thought experiment. Second, it offers an interpretation of Putnam'santi-realism. Third, it argues for the incompatibility of anti-realism and the semantic role of extension that TwinEarth is supposed to establish.
In his recent book Physicalism, Daniel Stoljar argues that there is no version of physicalism that is both true and deserving of the name. His argument employs a variation of Hilary Putnam’s famous twin-earth story, which Stoljar calls “the twin-physics world.” In this paper, I challenge Stoljar’s use of the twin-physics world. The upshot of that challenge, I argue, is that Stoljar fails to show, concerning the versions of physicalism for which he grants the possibility of (...) being true, that none of them is deserving of the name. (shrink)
Suppose that you had always had a physical twin, Chris, who on a different planet went through life having physical characteristics, sensory experiences, utterances, and brain processes exactly the same as yours in every physical and sensory respect. Chris.
Scientific essentialism is the view that some necessities (e.g., water = H2O) can be known only with the aid of empirical science. The thesis of the paper is that scientific essentialism does not extend to the central questions of philosophy and that these questions can be answered a priori. The argument is that the evidence required for the defense of scientific essentialism (e.g., twinearth intuitions) is reliable only if the intuitions required by philosophy to answer its central (...) questions is also reliable. Included is an outline of a modal reliabilist theory of basic evidence and a concept-possession account of the reliability of a priori intuition. (shrink)
J. L. Mackie argued that if there were objective moral properties or facts, then the supervenience relation linking the nonmoral to the moral would be metaphysically queer. Moral realists reply that objective supervenience relations are ubiquitous according to contemporary versions of metaphysical naturalism and, hence, that there is nothing especially queer about moral supervenience. In this paper we revive Mackie's challenge to moral realism. We argue: (i) that objective supervenience relations of any kind, moral or otherwise, should be explainable rather (...) than sui generis; (ii) that this explanatory burden can be successfully met vis-à-vis the supervenience of the mental upon the physical, and in other related cases; and (iii) that the burden cannot be met for (putative) objective moral supervenience relations. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to assess the relationship between anti-physicalist arguments in the philosophy of mind and anti-naturalist arguments in metaethics, and to show how the literature on the mind-body problem can inform metaethics. Among the questions we will consider are: (1) whether a moral parallel of the knowledge argument can be constructed to create trouble for naturalists, (2) the relationship between such a "Moral Knowledge Argument" and the familiar Open Question Argument, and (3) how naturalists can respond (...) to the Moral TwinEarth argument. We will give particular attention to recent arguments in the philosophy of mind that aim to show that anti-physicalist arguments can be defused by acknowledging a distinctive kind of conceptual dualism between the phenomenal and the physical. This tactic for evading anti-physicalist arguments has come to be known as the Phenomenal Concept Strategy. We will propose a metaethical version of this strategy, which we shall call the `Moral Concept Strategy'. We suggest that the Moral Concept Strategy offers the most promising way out of these anti-naturalist arguments, though significant challenges remain. (shrink)
In "The Meaning of 'Meaning'" Putnam argues, among other things, that "'meanings' just ain't in the head". Putnam's central arguments in favor of this conclusion are unsound. The arguments in question are the famous intra-world TwinEarth arguments, given on pages 223-227 of the article in question. Each of these arguments relies on a premise to the effect that this or that TwinEarth scenario is both logically possible and one in which certain individuals are in (...) the same overall "psychological [state] in the narrow sense". The problem is that none of the scenarios are as advertised; that is, none of them are logically possible situations in which the relevant individuals are in the same overall "psychological [state] in the narrow sense". (shrink)
There have been times in the history of ethical theory, especially in this century, when moral realism was down, but it was never out. The appeal of this doctrine for many moral philosophers is apparently so strong that there are always supporters in its corner who seek to resuscitate the view. The attraction is obvious: moral realism purports to provide a precious philosophical good, viz., objectivity and all that this involves, including right answers to (most) moral questions, and the possibility (...) of knowing those answers. In the last decade, moral realism has re-entered the philosophical ring in powerful-looking naturalistic form. ln this paper we provide a dialectical overview: we situate the new wave position itself, and also our objections to it, in the context of the evolving program of philosophical naturalism in 20th century analytic philosophy. We seek to show that although this new contender might initially look like championship material, it succumbs to punches surprisingly similar to those that knocked out the old-fashioned versions of naturalist moral realism. (shrink)
Many still seem confident that the kind of semantic theory Putnam once proposed for natural kind terms is right. This paper seeks to show that this confidence is misplaced because the general idea underlying the theory is incoherent. Consequently, the theory must be rejected prior to any consideration of its epistemological, ontological or metaphysical acceptability. Part I sets the stage by showing that falsehoods, indeed absurdities, follow from the theory when one deliberately suspends certain devices Putnam built into it , (...) presumably in order to block such entailments. Part II then raises the decisive issue of at what cost these devices do the job they need to do. It argues that - apart from possessing no other motivation than their capacity to block the consequences derived in Part I - they only fulfil this blocking function if they render the theory unable to deal with fiction and related 'make-believe' activities. Part III indicates the affinity Putnam's account has with the classically 'denotative' view of meaning, and thus how its weaknesses may be seen as a variant of the classical weakness of 'denotative' approaches. It concludes that the theory is a conceptual muddle. (shrink)
Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons have recently presented a series of papers in which they argue against what has come to be called the ‘new wave’ moral realism and moral semantics of David Brink, Richard Boyd, Peter Railton, and a number of other philosophers. The central idea behind Horgan and Timmons’s criticism of these ‘new wave’ theories has been extended by Sean Holland to include the sort of realism that drops out of response-dependent accounts that make use of an analogy (...) between moral properties and secondary qualities. This paper argues that Holland’s extension depends crucially on the fact that his target is a direct response-dependent account of moral value. His argument does not work against such accounts of more basic normative notions such as ‘harm’ or ‘benefit’. And these more basic notions may then serve as the basic normative building blocks for an indirectly response-dependent moral theory. (shrink)
At the beginning of the twentieth century, G. E. Moore’s open question argument convinced many philosophers that moral statements were not equivalent to statements made using non-moral or descriptive terms. For any non-moral description of an object or object it seemed that competent speakers could without confusion doubt that the action or object was appropriately characterized using moral terms such as ‘good’ or ‘right’. The question of whether the action or object so described was good or right was always open, (...) even to competent speakers. In the absence of any systematic theory to explain the possibility of synthetic as opposed to analytic identities, many were convinced this demonstrated that moral properties could not be identified with any natural (or supernatural) properties. Thus Moore and others concluded that moral properties such as goodness were irreducible sui generis properties, not identical to natural.. (shrink)
Mark Timmons and Terry Horgan have argued that the new moral realism, which rests on the causal theory of reference, is untenable. While I do agree that the new moral realism is untenable, I do not think that Timmons and Horgan have succeeded in showing that it is. I will lay out the case for new moral realism and Horgan and Timmons’ argument against it, and then argue that their argument fails. Further, I will discuss Boyd’s semantic theory as well (...) as attempts to improve upon it, raise serious problems for these semantic accounts, and suggest an alternative view that accounts for our use of moral terms. (shrink)
The contemporary popularity of semantic externalism has arisen from so-called TwinEarth thought experiments which suggest that the representational content of a natural kind term cannot be wholly determined by processes within a speaker's body. Such arguments depend on the intuition that the extensions of natural kind terms cannot have changed as the result of the scientific investigation of natural kinds' constitutions. I demonstrate that this externalist intuition depends on an assumption about the mentality of isomorphic doppelgangers which (...) has never been questioned but which is nonetheless arguably false. I develop an alternative view of the instantiation of mind which entails a revision of our understanding of the constitution of environmental objects. The picture seems to be fully coherent despite its oddity and I can find no good reason to reject it. The conclusion must be that the case for semantic externalism is thus less compelling than is often supposed. (shrink)
In this article I offer a naturalistic defence of semantic externalism. I argue against the following: (1) arguments for externalism rest mainly on conceptual analysis; (2) the community conceptual norms relevant to individuation of propositional attitudes are quasi-analytic; (3) externalism raises serious questions about knowledge of propositional attitudes; and (4) externalism might be OK for “folk psychology” but not for cognitive science. The naturalist alternatives are as follows. (1) Community norms are not anything like a priori; sometimes they are incoherent. (...) (2) Often propositional attitudes lack determinate content: we do not know the content of thoughts or sentences because there is no fully definite content to be known. (3) Often achieving determinate content is a major socially mediated cognitive achievement that depends on just the factors of social and environmental embedding posited as individuative by externalists, so (4) externalism explains how people can, sometimes, come to have, and to know, determinate attitude contents. (5) Reference and content, for both thought and language, are determined by complex and messy dialectical relations involving many such environmental and social factors; consequently, determinate reference, truth-conditions, etc., are somewhat uncommon outcomes. (6) The basic semantic relation is (typically imperfect) socially mediated accommodation between perceptual, cognitive, linguistic, classificatory and inferential dispositions and relevant causal structures in the environment. (7) This accommodation explains how concepts, language, taxonomies, etc., contribute to individuals' rational inductive, explanatory and practical achievements. (8) So externally individuated propositional attitudes are required for cognitive science explanations of individual human rationality and its inductive and explanatory achievements. “Individual rationality ain't (entirely) in the individual head.”. (shrink)
In his book Elements of mind Tim Crane has developed some resources in order to answer the TwinEarth mental experiment, invented by Hilary Putnam. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that Crane’s strategy is ineffective because he misunderstands that argument. We intend to examine in detail the reconstruction of the argument that Crane offers to detect its problems. A tighter version of it is also proposed, more consistent with Putnam intentions.
A content of a subject's mental state is narrow when it is determined by the subject's intrinsic properties: that is, when any possible intrinsic duplicate of the subject has a corresponding mental state with the same content. A content of a subject's mental state is..