After a critical discussion of Putnam's early work on the analytic–synthetic distinction, this article discusses seven contributions that Putnam has made to the philosophy of language. These contributions are (1) to understanding the role of definitions in science and in ordinary discourse; (2) to recognizing the role of stereotypes in explaining meaning; (3) to acknowledging the minimal role of explicative understanding in having linguistic competence with natural kind words; (4) to distinguishing sharply between identifying natural kinds and determining their more (...) fundamental natures; (5) to exploring a division of linguistic labour – a role for social interaction in determining reference, especially of natural kind terms; (6) to establishing a broadly unified causal account of the reference of ordinary natural kind terms and scientific physical magnitude terms; and (7) to reviving a conception of scientific language that allows for trans-theoretical reference and one sort of trans-theoretical meaning. (shrink)
Tyler Burge presents a substantial, original study of what it is for individuals to represent the physical world with the most primitive sort of objectivity. By reflecting on the science of perception and related psychological and biological sciences, he gives an account of constitutive conditions for perceiving the physical world, and thus aims to locate origins of representational mind. Origins of Objectivity illuminates several long-standing, central issues in philosophy, and provides a wide-ranging account of relations between human and animal psychologies.
I shall propose five theses on de re states and attitudes. To be a de re state or attitude is to bear a peculiarly direct epistemic and representational relation to a particular referent in perception or thought. I will not dress this bare statement here. The fifth thesis tries to be less coarse. The first four explicate and restrict context- bound, singular, empirical representation, which constitutes a significant and central type of de re state or attitude.
A central preoccupation of philosophy in the twentieth century was to determine constitutive conditions under which accurate (objective) empirical representation of the macrophysical environment is possible. A view that dominated attitudes on this project maintained that an individual cannot empirically represent a physical subject matter as having specific physical characteristics unless the individual can represent some constitutive conditions under which such representation is possible. The version of this view that dominated the century's second half maintained that objective empirical representation of (...) the physical environment requires the individual to be able to supplement this representation with representation of general constitutive features of objectivity. This essay criticizes instances of this version in P. F. Strawson and Quine. It maintains that all versions of the position postulate conditions on objective empirical representation that are more intellectual than are warranted. Such views leave it doubtful that animals and human infants perceptually represent elements in the physical environment. By appeal to common sense and to empirical perceptual psychology, this essay argues that unaided perception yields objective representation of the macrophysical environment. It does so in prelinguistic animals, even in animals that almost surely lack propositional attitudes. The essay concludes with explications of nondeflationary conceptions of representation and perception. It distinguishes nonperceptual sensing from perceptual representation and explicates perceptual representation as a type of objective sensory representation. Objectivity is marked by perceptual constancies. Representation is marked by a nontrivial role for veridicality conditions in explanations of the relevant states. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us Digg Reddit Technorati What's this? (shrink)
This essay is a long one. It is not meant to be read in a single sitting. Its structure is as follows. In section I, I explicate perceptual anti-individualism. Section II centers on the two aspects of the representational content of perceptual states. Sections III and IV concern the nature of the empirical psychology of vision, and its bearing on the individuation of perceptual states. Section V shows how what is known from empirical psychology undermines disjunctivism and hence certain further (...) views that entail it, including naive realism. In Section VI, I raise a further point against disjunctivism. Section VII indicates how general reflection on perceptual perspective and epistemic ability supports the constraints from empirical psychology. It also explains how reflection on veridicality conditions, psychological explanation, and cognitive ability conspire to force recognition of the two kinds of representation mentioned in the preceding paragraph. In the Appendix, I criticize attempts to support disjunctivism. (shrink)
Tyler Burge presents a collection of his seminal essays on Gottlob Frege (1848-1925), who has a strong claim to be seen as the founder of modern analytic philosophy, and whose work remains at the centre of philosophical debate today. Truth, Thought, Reason gathers some of Burge's most influential work from the last twenty-five years, and also features important new material, including a substantial introduction and postscripts to four of the ten papers. It will be an essential resource for any historian (...) of modern philosophy, and for anyone working on philosophy of language, epistemology, or philosophical logic. (shrink)
The view that logic is true independently of a subject matter is criticized—enlarging on Quine's criticisms and adding further ones. It is then argued apriori that full reflective understanding of logic and deductive reasoning requires substantial commitment to mathematical entities. It is emphasized that the objectively apriori connections between deductive reasoning and commitment to mathematics need not be accepted by or even comprehensible to a given deductive reasoner. The relevant connections emerged only slowly in the history of logic. But they (...) can be recognized retrospectively as implicit in logic and deductive reasoning. The paper concludes with discussion of the relevance of its main argument to Kant's question—how is apriori knowledge of a subject matter possible? (shrink)
The article is an overview of some central philosophical problems associated with perception. It discusses what distinguishes perception from other sensory capacities and from conception. It discusses anti-individualism, a view according to which the nature of a perceptual state is dependent not just causally but for its identity or 'essence' on relations to a normal environment in which systems containing that state were formed. It discusses different views about epistemic warrant. By emphasising the deep ways in which human and animal (...) perceptual systems, especially visual systems, are similar, it criticises a dominant view of the last century, in both philosophy and large parts of psychology, according to which a range of sophisticated supplementary abilities have to be learned before a child can perceive objective features of the physical world. (shrink)
The paper develops a conception of epistemic warrant as applied to perceptual belief, called entitlement, that does not require the warranted individual to be capable of understanding the warrant. The conception is situated within an account of animal perception and unsophisticated perceptual belief. It characterizes entitlement as fulfillment of an epistemic norm that is apriori associated with a certain representational function that can be known apriori to be a function of perception. The paper connects anti-individualism, a thesis about the nature (...) of mental states, and perceptual entitlement. It presents an argument that explains the objectivity and validity of perceptual entitlement partly in terms of the nature of perceptual states-hence the nature of perceptual beliefs, which are constitutively associated with perceptual states. The paper discusses ways that an individual can be entitled to perceptual belief through its connection to perception, and ways that entitlement to perceptual belief can be undermined. (shrink)
The paper scrutinizes Frege's Euclideanism - his view of arithmetic and geometry as resting on a small number of self-evident axioms from which non-self-evident theorems can be proved. Frege's notions of self-evidence and axiom are discussed in some detail. Elements in Frege's position that are in apparent tension with his Euclideanism are considered - his introduction of axioms in The Basic Laws of Arithmetic through argument, his fallibilism about mathematical understanding, and his view that understanding is closely associated with inferential (...) abilities. The resolution of the tensions indicates that Frege maintained a sophisticated and challenging form of rationalism, one relevant to current epistemology and parts of the philosophy of mathematics. (shrink)
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