These books will prove valuable to philosophy teachers and their students as well as to other readers who share a general interest in philosophy. -/- What is art? Must art be beautiful? Must art be politically or culturally significant? How does art differ from other products of human activity? Joseph Margolis has spent decades thinking through these and related questions. In this book, he introduces his reader to the field of Aesthetics by thinking through the most fundamental philosophical questions (...) about art in a way that is engaging and accessible. This book could be used alongside a textbook of classic readings in Aesthetics, or as a stand-alone text in Aesthetics. THE WADSWORTH PHILOSOPHICAL TOPICS SERIES presents readers with concise, timely, and insightful introductions to a variety of traditional and contemporary philosophical subjects. With this series, students of philosophy will be able to discover the richness of philosophical inquiry across a wide array of concepts, including hallmark philosophical themes and themes typically underrepresented in mainstream philosophy publishing. Written by a distinguished list of scholars who have garnered particular recognition for their excellence in teaching, this series presents the vast sweep of today's philosophical exploration in highly accessible and affordable volumes. These books will prove valuable to philosophy teachers and their students as well as to other readers who share a general interest in philosophy. (shrink)
The Regress Argument is supposed to show that the language of thought hypothesis results in an infinite regress in its explanation of such things as learning, meaning, and understanding. Earlier (in Laurence & Margolis 1997) we argued that the Regress Argument doesn’t work and that even the language of thought’s supporters have given the Regress Argument far too much credit. In this paper, we respond to a critique of our earlier discussion.
Noam Chomsky's Poverty of the Stimulus Argument is one of the most famous and controversial arguments in the study of language and the mind. Though widely endorsed by linguists, the argument has met with much resistance in philosophy. Unfortunately, philosophical critics have often failed to fully appreciate the power of the argument. In this paper, we provide a systematic presentation of the Poverty of the Stimulus Argument, clarifying its structure, content, and evidential base. We defend the argument against a variety (...) of philosophical criticisms, new and old, and argue that the Poverty of the Stimulus Argument continues to deserve its guiding role in the study of language and the mind. (shrink)
Conceptual analysis is undergoing a revival in philosophy, and much of the credit goes to Frank Jackson. Jackson argues that conceptual analysis is needed as an integral component of so-called serious metaphysics and that it also does explanatory work in accounting for such phenomena as categorization, meaning change, communication, and linguistic understanding. He even goes so far as to argue that opponents of concep- tual analysis are implicitly committed to it in practice. We show that he is wrong on all (...) of these points and that his case for conceptual analysis doesn. (shrink)
What is a concept? Philosophers have given many different answers to this question, reflecting a wide variety of approaches to the study of mind and language. Nonetheless, at the most general level, there are two dominant frameworks in contemporary philosophy. One proposes that concepts are mental representations, while the other proposes that they are abstract objects. This paper looks at the differences between these two approaches, the prospects for combining them, and the issues that are involved in the dispute. We (...) argue that powerful motivations have been offered in support of both frameworks. This suggests the possibility of combining the two. Unlike Frege, we hold that the resulting position is perfectly coherent and well worth considering. Nonetheless, we argue that it should be rejected along with the view that concepts are abstract objects. (shrink)
In LOT 2: The Language of Thought Revisited, Jerry Fodor argues that concept learning of any kind—even for complex concepts—is simply impossible. In order to avoid the conclusion that all concepts, primitive and complex, are innate, he argues that concept acquisition depends on purely noncognitive biological processes. In this paper, we show (1) that Fodor fails to establish that concept learning is impossible, (2) that his own biological account of concept acquisition is unworkable, and (3) that there are in fact (...) many promising general models for explaining how concepts are learned. (shrink)
This entry provides an overview of theories of concepts that is organized around five philosophical issues: (1) the ontology of concepts, (2) the structure of concepts, (3) empiricism and nativism about concepts, (4) concepts and natural language, and (5) concepts and conceptual analysis.
This chapter provides a critical overview of ten central arguments that philosophers have given in support of a distinction between the conceptual and the nonconceptual. We use these arguments to examine the question of whether (and in what sense) perceptual states might be deemed nonconceptual and also whether (and in what sense) animals and infants might be deemed to lack concepts. We argue that philosophers have implicitly relied on a wide variety of different ways to draw the conceptual/nonconceptual distinction and (...) that all ten of the arguments we discuss face considerable difficulties. (shrink)
In this paper, I develop a novel account of concept acquisition for an atomistic theory of concepts. Conceptual atomism is rarely explored in cognitive science because of the feeling that atomistic treatments of concepts are inherently nativistic. My model illustrates, on the contrary, that atomism does not preclude the learning of a concept.
Given the fundamental role that concepts play in theories of cognition, philosophers and cognitive scientists have a common interest in concepts. Nonetheless, there is a great deal of controversy regarding what kinds of things concepts are, how they are structured, and how they are acquired. This chapter offers a detailed high-level overview and critical evaluation of the main theories of concepts and their motivations. Taking into account the various challenges that each theory faces, the chapter also presents a novel approach (...) to concepts that is organized around two ideas. The first is a pluralistic view of differing types of conceptual structure. The second is a model that treats concepts as atomic representations that are linked to various types of conceptual structures. (shrink)
I show the sense in which the concept of history as a human science affects our theory of the natural sciences and, therefore, our theory of the unity of the physical and human sciences. The argument proceeds by way of reviewing the effect of the Darwinian contribution regarding teleologism and of post-Darwinian paleonanthropology on the transformation of the primate members of Homo sapiens into societies of historied selves. The strategy provides a novel way of recovering the unity of the sciences: (...) by construing the physical sciences themselves as human sciences - and, therefore, as themselves historied. (shrink)
Radical concept nativism is the thesis that virtually all lexical concepts are innate. Notoriously endorsed by Jerry Fodor (1975, 1981), radical concept nativism has had few supporters. However, it has proven difficult to say exactly what’s wrong with Fodor’s argument. We show that previous responses are inadequate on a number of grounds. Chief among these is that they typically do not achieve sufficient distance from Fodor’s dialectic, and, as a result, they do not illuminate the central question of how new (...) primitive concepts are acquired. To achieve a fully satisfactory response to Fodor’s argument, one has to juxtapose questions about conceptual content with questions about cognitive development. To this end, we formulate a general schema for thinking about how concepts are acquired and then present a detailed illustration. (shrink)
There is a considerable effort in current theorizing about psychological phenomena to eliminate minds and selves as a vestige of folk theories. The pertinent strategies are quite varied and may focus on experience, cognition, interests, responsibility, behavior and the scientific explanation of these phenomena or what they purport to identify. The minimal function of the notion of self is to assign experience to a suitable entity and to fix such ascription in a possessive as well as a predicative way. It (...) is usually argued that Hume formulated an empiricist account of experience that obviated the need for reference to selves; and recent arguments mustered by Derek Parfit claim to show how to preserve experience, interest, responsibility usually assigned selves and persons without invoking any such entities. The argument here advanced demonstrates that Hume actually concedes the minimal use of the notion of self, that there appear to be no convincing grounds for eliminating it, that there are critical uses for the notion that render it ineliminable, that admission is neutral regarding the nature of selves, and that Parfit''s arguments in particular fail. There appear, therefore, to be no empiricist or materialist grounds for the eliminative move. A large recent literature that favors various eliminative strategies is canvassed and shown to be inadequate to its task and unlikely (for principled reasons) to be able to achieve its eliminative objective. (shrink)
At least since W. V. O. Quine's famous critique of the analytic/synthetic distinction, philosophers have been deeply divided over whether there are any analytic truths. One line of thought suggests that the simple fact that people have 'intuitions of analyticity' might provide an independent argument for analyticities. If defenders of analyticity can explain these intuitions and opponents cannot, then perhaps there are analyticities after all. We argue that opponents of analyticity have some unexpected resources for explaining these intuitions and that, (...) accordingly, the argument from intuition fails. (shrink)
The Language of Thought Hypothesis is often taken to have the fatal flaw that it generates an explanatory regress. The language of thought is invoked to explain certain features of natural language (e.g., that it is learned, understood, and is meaningful), but, according to the regress argument, the language of thought itself has these same features and hence no explanatory progress has been made. We argue that such arguments rely on the tacit assumption that the entire motivation for the language (...) of thought consists in explaining the explanandum that allegedly generates the regress. But this tacit assumption is simply false. The Language of Thought Hypothesis is a cogent view and one with considerable explanatory advantages. (shrink)
In an important recent discussion of analyticity, Paul Boghossian (1997)1 argues for the following three claims: (i) While Quine’s well-known arguments against analyticity do undermine one type of analyticity (what Boghossian calls metaphysical analyticity), they fail to undermine another type (what he calls epistemic analyticity). (ii) Epistemic analyticity explains the a prioricity of logic and perhaps even the a prioricity of conceptual truths.
Strong nativist views about numerical concepts claim that human beings have at least some innate precise numerical representations. Weak nativist views claim only that humans, like other animals, possess an innate system for representing approximate numerical quantity. We present a new strong nativist model of the origins of numerical concepts and defend the strong nativist approach against recent cross-cultural studies that have been interpreted to show that precise numerical concepts are dependent on language and that they are restricted to speakers (...) of languages with the right kind of structure. (shrink)
: Peirce's fallibilism is shown to be the "linchpin" of his mature philosophy. In passing, objections regarding a seemingly serious paradox, a textual discrepancy, and the plausibility of an alternative approach to Peirce are answered. Peirce's fallibilism is indeed a puzzling thesis, particularly in that it appears to violate familiar finitist, practical, "here and now" (pragmatist) constraints. But that's precisely where Peirce's ingenuity takes its most interesting form. The solution provided shows the paradox and aporias of Peirce's account to be (...) no more than apparent, the textual infelicity of what would otherwise be a contradiction to be part of Peirce's rhetorical strategy (in combating the effects of James' misreading of his theory of truth), the doctrine of the continuum to be already entailed by Peirce's fallibilism, and the ultimate reconciliation between the infinite limit of inquiry and its finite phases to be essential to Peirce's theory of science cast in terms of what may be described as a Hegelianized reading of Kantian Hope—in effect, a reading of abduction as an original pragmatist version of what may be saved in the sparest way within the post-Kantian tradition. (shrink)
I begin with a kind of phenomenological reporting of the recent war between Israel and the Hezbollah in Lebanon, in order to explain the meaning of the thesis that "historicity is predication" - meaning by that to clarify the sense in which predication is a kind of political act (for good and sufficient philosophical reasons) and how the "objective" description of an evolving war illuminates such a philosophical reading of history.
I May, at a gathering, notice that Peter is sitting very stiffly in his chair. I say to myself, “Perhaps he has a pain. Yes, I think he has some sort of pain.” I have inferred a feeling of some sort from bodily behavior. It is not an impossible thing to do, to infer sometimes a feeling from bodily behavior. But it is a puzzling thing to do, at least in a philosophieal sense. Because we ordinarily hold that we cannot (...) “observe” the feelings of another, that we can never directly confront these feelings, that feelings as actually felt are private to each of us. There may be interesting ways of challenging this sort of remark—for instance, by way of telepathy. But there is an advantage in puzzling over the kind of inference indicated, without the challenge of telepathy or similar abilities. (shrink)
Conceptual structures are commonly likened to scientific theories, yet the content and motivation of the theory analogy are rarely discussed. Gregory Murphy and Douglas Medin's The Role of Theories in Conceptual Coherence is a notable exception and has become an authoritative exposition of the utility of the theory analogy. For Murphy and Medin, the theory analogy solves what they call the problem of conceptual coherence or the problem of conceptual glue. I argue that they conflate a number of issues under (...) these rubrics and that in each case either the problem to be solved isn't subject to a general solution or the theory analogy is of little use. The issues I consider are: (1) what makes a concept efficient, useful, and informative, (2) what makes a concept refer to what it does, (3) what makes a set of objects form a single category, and (4) what makes concepts combine in one way rather than another. (shrink)
One of the most important abilities we have as humans is the ability to think about number. In this chapter, we examine the question of whether there is an essential connection between language and number. We provide a careful examination of two prominent theories according to which concepts of the positive integers are dependent on language. The first of these claims that language creates the positive integers on the basis of an innate capacity to represent real numbers. The second claims (...) that language’s function is to integrate contents from modules that humans share with other animals. We argue that neither model is successful. (shrink)
s effort to examine the prospects of inferentialism (inspired by Wilfrid Sellars work) is examined in terms of the uncertainties of contemporary philosophy and Brandoms reading of selected prominent figures in the history of philosophy. The very idea of there being anything like a set of rules governing non-deductive inference (inferentialism) is problematic; so is Brandoms reading of the figures he has selected in order to illuminate his own proposal along historical lines. We never quite learn how inferentialism bears on (...) the trajectory of Eurocentric philosophy and what the corrective is that Brandom advocates. Key Words: concept history inferentialism postmodernism pragmatism rule. (shrink)
Edo Pivčević's The Reason Why is a thoroughly admirable book: absolutely straightforward and simple in argument, charmingly written, uncompromisingly legible but widely and tactfully informed, bent on asking and answering a single fundamental question usually cast as "metaphysical" or (after Kant) "epistemological", but, in Pivčević's hands, skillfully turned in what must be called a "pragmatist" direction. Careful readers may find (as I do) that the general lines of the argument are notably congruent with some of Charles Peirce's earliest accounts of (...) the pragmatist treatment of "belief" or "believing-true" meant to displace the entire strategy of "proofs of truth" in the "metaphysical sense of proof" (24) that have been stalemated by the "skeptic's" countermeasures. (shrink)
The so-called post-Wittgensteinian Oxford philosophers are often criticized not only for failing to provide for the causal explanation of human behavior and psychological states, but also for failing to recognize that psychological explanations require appeal to sub-personal or molecular processes. Three strategies accommodating this criticism appear in so-called homunculus theories and include: (1) that the sub-systems be assigned intentional or informational content purely heuristically; (2) that the intentional or informational content of molar states be analyzed without remainder in terms of (...) molecular processing; (3) that the entire or salient range of mental or informational molar states be accessible at the molecular level, or vice versa. Option (2) proves to be the most radical and is favored by Dennett. (1) relevantly requires a reduction of the intentional. (3) is illustrated in various ways by the views of Freud, Chomsky, Fodor. (2) is shown to depend on (1) or to be idle; and (3) embraces at least in part an appeal to molar-level explanation. The argument developed attempts to show the sense in which discourse about molar and molecular-level phenomena in the psychological context is fundamentally different from macroscopic and microtheoretical-level discourse about physical phenomena. The conclusion drawn is that neither a molar nor a sub-personal level theory is suitably explanatory in the psychological sense: a psychological theory is committed rather to a set of sub-personal components of such systems, that serve to explain molar phenomena. (shrink)
This article is a commentary on Machery (2009) Doing without Concepts. Concepts are mental symbols that have semantic structure and processing structure. This approach (1) allows for different disciplines to converge on a common subject matter; (2) it promotes theoretical unification; and (3) it accommodates the varied processes that preoccupy Machery. It also avoids problems that go with his eliminativism, including the explanation of how fundamentally different types of concepts can be co-referential.
The views of linguistic analysts and objectivists are explored with regard to the question of interactionism. It is argued that the admission of a logical difference between explanation by cause and explanation by motive cannot disqualify causal explanations of human action, cannot be construed as challenging the competence of science, and cannot count against interactionism. It is also argued that objectivist programs for eliminating mentalistic concepts either implicitly admit interactionism or cannot distinguish relevantly between interactionism and parallelism.
A Companion to Pragmatism, comprised of 38 newly commissioned essays, provides comprehensive coverage of one of the most vibrant and exciting fields of philosophy today. Unique in depth and coverage of classical figures and their philosophies as well as pragmatism as a living force in philosophy. Chapters include discussions on philosophers such as John Dewey, Jürgen Habermas and Hilary Putnam.
The 2003 National Business Ethics Survey, conducted by the Ethics Resource Center, found that respondents who were both young and had short organizational tenure were substantially less likely than other respondents to report misconduct that they observed in the workplace to an authority. We propose that the life-course model of deviance can help account for this attenuation of acquiescence in misbehavior. As employees learn to perceive informal prosocial control during their socialization into the workforce, we hypothesize that they will become (...) more willing to blow the whistle on misconduct. Analysis of the 2003 NBES (n = 1,417, with a subset of 314 who observed misconduct) reveals that young and short-tenured employees do perceive less informal prosocial control, and that informal prosocial control does boost whistle-blowing; however, tests for mediation of the relationship between youth and short-tenure and whistle-blowing by informal social control were largely negative, suggesting that other explanations are still needed. (shrink)
The definition of the human -- Perceiving paintings as paintings I -- Perceiving paintings as paintings II -- "One and only one correct interpretation" -- Toward a phenomenology of painting and literature -- "Seeing-in," "make-believe," transfiguration" : the perception of pictorial representation -- Beauty and truth and the passing of transcendental philosophy.
We examine a proposal of Eric Lormand's for dealing with perhaps the chief difficulty facing holistic theories of meaning—meaning instability. The problem is that, given a robust holism, small changes in a representational system are likely to lead to meaning changes throughout the system. Consequently, different individuals are likely never to mean the same thing. Lormand suggests that holists can avoid this problem—and even secure more stability than non-holists—by positing that symbols have multiple meanings. We argue that the proposal doesn't (...) work, however, since multiple meanings are unstable for much the same reason that single meanings are. (shrink)
If we presume an organizational ontology of complex, dynamic change, then what role remains for strategic intent? If managerial action is said to consist of adaptive responsiveness, then what are the foundations of value on the basis of which strategic decisions can be made? In this essay, we respond to these questions and extend the existing strategy process literature by turning to the Aristotelian concept of prudence, or practical wisdom. According to Aristotle, practical wisdom involves the virtuous capacity to make (...) decisions and take actions that promote the "good life" for the "polis". We explore contemporary interpretations of this concept in literature streams adjacent to strategy and determine that practical wisdom can be developed by engaging in interpretative dialogue and aesthetically-rich experience. With these elements in view, we re-frame strategy processes as occasions to develop the human capacity for practical wisdom. (shrink)
Theories of number concepts often suppose that the natural numbers are acquired as children learn to count and as they draw an induction based on their interpretation of the ﬁrst few count words. In a bold critique of this general approach, Rips, Asmuth, Bloomﬁeld [Rips, L., Asmuth, J. & Bloomﬁeld, A. (2006). Giving the boot to the bootstrap: How not to learn the natural numbers. Cognition, 101, B51–B60.] argue that such an inductive inference is consistent with a representational system that (...) clearly does not express the natural numbers and that possession of the natural numbers requires further principles that make the inductive inference superﬂuous. We argue that their critique is unsuccessful. Provided that children have access to a suitable initial system of representation, the sort of inductive inference that Rips et al. call into question can in fact facilitate the acquisition of larger integer concepts without the addition of any further principles. Ó 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. (shrink)
Peter Hare took a belle-lettriste pleasure in hopping from one philosophical topic to another. Not carelessly but lightheartedly enough. I mean by that, not that there is no deeper interlocking linkage among his many papers—there is—but rather that the center of gravity of each piece rests with the special patience and affection Peter spends on the specific topic some chanced-upon author or authors bring into view. He pursues each such topic intensively in a deliberately narrow-gauged way, testing its best possibilities (...) in its own terms seconded by his own wider reading, as if he were loyal to opposed doctrines. He usually runs through a rather tight, well-informed set of occasional readings and reflections .. (shrink)
The Language of Thought Hypothesis (LOT) is at the centre of a number of the most fundamental debates about the mind. Yet many philosophers want to reject LOT out of hand on the grounds that it is essentially a recid- ivistic doctrine, one that has long since been refuted. According to these philosophers, LOT is subject to a devastating regress argument. There are several versions of the argument, but the basic idea is as follows. (1) Natu- ral language has some (...) important feature, X.<sup>1</sup> (2) Defenders of LOT appeal to an internal system of representation in order to explain this feature of natural language. (3) Yet the hypothesized language of thought also has X. (4) This raises the following dilemma: If we offer an analogous explanation of the language of thought. (shrink)
The philosophy of cognitive science is concerned with fundamental philosophical and theoretical questions connected to the sciences of the mind. How does the brain give rise to conscious experience? Does speaking a language change how we think? Is a genuinely intelligent computer possible? What features of the mind are innate? Advances in cognitive science have given philosophers important tools for addressing these sorts of questions; and cognitive scientists have, in turn, found themselves drawing upon insights from philosophy--insights that have often (...) taken their research in novel directions. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science brings together twenty-one newly commissioned chapters by leading researchers in this rich and fast-growing area of philosophy. It is an indispensible resource for anyone who seeks to understand the implications of cognitive science for philosophy, and the role of philosophy within cognitive science. (shrink)
This article is a commentary on Carey (2009) The Origin of Concepts. Carey rightly rejects the building blocks model of concept acquisition on the grounds that new primitive concepts can be learned via the process of bootstrapping. But new primitives can be learned by other acquisition processes that do not involve bootstrapping, and bootstrapping itself is not a unitary process. Nonetheless, the processes associated with bootstrapping provide important insights into conceptual change.
The argument proceeds from a sense of imminent danger; 9/11 and its sequel challenge our deepest pretensions regarding the universality and self-evidence of moral/political conviction. The intransigence of such convictions is now an important source of international conflict and terror. It also signifies that the resolution of the disorder that now confronts the international community requires a transformation in our conception of morality itself. In this regard, philosophy has an important task to address. The discussion explores a radical change in (...) our understanding of just war, the distinction between war and peace, the logic of conflict, and similar topics. (shrink)