Davidson made a strikingly distinctive and valuable contribution to the practice of ontology. It was a species of argument for the existence of things of one kind or another. It was inspired by Quine’s doctrine that “To be is to be the value of a bound variable,” but it combined that with Davidson’s own apparently antiQuinean views on semantics and logical form in natural language. Roughly: Suppose truth-conditional analysis of certain English sentences assigns them logical forms containing characteristic quantifiers, and (...) the quantifiers’ domains include entities of a certain sort. Then, assuming that some of the relevant sentences are true, it follows that there exist entities of that sort. (shrink)
Lycan (1985, 1988) defended a “Principle of Credulity”: “Accept at the outset each of those things that seem to be true” (1988, p. 165). Though that takes the form of a rule rather than a thesis, it does not seem very different from Huemer’s (2001, 2006, 2007) doctrine of phenomenal conservatism (PC): “If it seems to S that p , then, in the absence of defeaters, S thereby has at least some degree of justification for believing that p ” (2007, (...) p. 30). My Principle was differently motivated and put to uses different from Huemer’s. In this paper I shall explore some of the differences. (shrink)
Second, there is a form of ampliative inference that has come to be called ‘inference to the best explanation,’ or more briefly ‘explanatory inference.’ Roughly: From the fact that a certain hypothesis would explain the data at hand better than any other available hypothesis, we infer with some degree of confidence that that leading hypothesis is correct. There is no question but that this inference is often performed. Arguably, every human being performs it many times in a day, perhaps without (...) letup. (shrink)
Written work Four short papers (@ 1000 words) during the semester, due on September 21, October 12, November 9, and December 7. There will be some exercises along the way, required but ungraded. I am required to give a final examination, but its weight will be up to you individually.
1.Competition between philosophical theories of linguistic meaning is sometimes specious. For example, suppose Ned believes that an utterance’s meaning is its truth-condition, while Ted insists that the utterance’s meaning is constituted by the speaker’s communicative intentions à la Grice.Here one wants to distinguish explananda:What Ned is after is really the utterance’s (“timeless”) sentence-meaning; Ted is focusing on speaker-meaning, which is not the same, and the two theories are perfectly compatible, indeed mutually complementary, accounts of distinct phenomena.
A friend of mine whom I’ll call “Barry” has a four-year-old son, Seth. Barry treasures Seth and loves him very much. But their family circumstances are pretty bad, and Seth is having a very rough childhood. At the time Seth was conceived, Barry had had no reason to suppose that the circumstances would turn out as they have, but: There has since been a very nasty divorce; there are protracted custody disputes, geographical dislocations, and severe financial difficulties; the boy has (...) fairly serious health problems that are exacerbated by the others; and more. As it’s turned out, it was not good for Barry to have fathered a child at that time, and Barry regrets that he did so. Knowing what he knows now, he would not do it again. In fact, he fervently wishes he had not brought Seth into the world. (shrink)
For purposes of this paper, a conscious state is a mental state whose subject is directly or at least nonevidentially aware of being in it. (The state does not count as conscious if the subject has only been told about it by a cognitive scientist or psychologist; introspectively would be better, but no one should say that a state is conscious only if its subject actively introspects it.). N.b., this usage is only one among several quite different though of course (...) not competing ones; the phrase has been used in at least two other senses, as by, respectively, Dretske (1993, 1995) and Block (1995).1 My definition is stipulative, but not brutely so; it settles on one thing that is often meant by conscious state cf. a conscious memory, a conscious desire, a conscious intention, a conscious decision. According to higher-order (HO) theories of consciousness in this sense of consciousness, what makes a mental state a conscious one is that it is represented by another of the subject’s mental states, that in virtue of which s/he is aware of it. Some practitioners follow Locke in taking the higher-order state to be quasi-perceptual (Armstrong, 1968, 1980, Lycan 1991, 1996); others say it may be merely a thought about the original state (Rosenthal, 1986, 1990).2 There is an alleged objection to such theories, that originated with Goldman (1993)Error: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMap3 and has since been voiced and discussed by others (Dretske 1995, Stubenberg 1998, Van Gulick 2000, 2005, Gennaro 2005, Kriegel 2009). I say alleged, because. (shrink)
For Quine, a paradox is an apparently successful argument having as its conclusion a statement or proposition that seems obviously false or absurd. That conclusion he calls the proposition of the paradox in question. What is paradoxical is of course that if the argument is indeed successful as it seems to be, its conclusion must be true. On this view, to resolve the paradox is (1) to show either that (and why) despite appearances the conclusion is true after all, or (...) that the argument is fallacious, and (2) if the former, to explain away the deceptive appearances. Quine divides paradoxes into three groups. A veridical paradox is one whose proposition or conclusion is in fact true despite its air of absurdity. We decide that a paradox is veridical when we look carefully at the argument and it convinces us, i.e., it manages to show us how it is that the conclusion is true after all and appearances to the contrary were misleading. Quine’s two main examples of this are the puzzle of Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance (who has reachError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMaped the age of twenty-one after passing only five birthdays), and the Barber Paradox, which Quine considers simply a sound proof that there can be no such barber as is described.1 A falsidical paradox is one whose proposition or conclusion is indeed obviously false or self-contradictory, but which contains a fallacy that is detectably responsible for delivering the absurd conclusion. We decide that a paradox is falsidical when we look carefully at the argument and spot the fallacy. Quine’s leading example here is De Morgan’s trick argument for the proposition that 2 = 1. (shrink)
It is no surprise that 20th-century noncognitivism about metaphor began with the Logical Positivists. Prosecuting their verification theory of meaning, the Positivists disdained figurative language entirely. Although some metaphorical sentences are empirically verifiable or falsifiable on their literal readings (Bette Midler can be directly observed not to have wings, much less wings with anyone being the wind beneath them, and it is easily checked that many real men do eat quiche), some are not so (“How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon (...) this bank!”). Much more to the point, most metaphorical sentences on their metaphorical readings are not verifiable in the ordinary empirical way (“But thought’s the slave of life, and life’s time’s fool”<. (shrink)
It is widely thought that mind–body substance dualism is implausible at best, though mere “property” dualism is defensible and even flourishing. This paper argues that substance dualism is no less plausible than property dualism and even has two advantages over it.
This paper addresses each of two of Gutting's three main contentions: that like anyone else, philosophers are entitled to begin with what they find obvious and that philosophy has produced a distinctive body of knowledge. I emphatically agree with the first contention and expand on it, defending a stronger claim. The second contention I dispute, in spirit if not in letter, on each of several grounds.
The semantic paradoxes arise when the range of the quantifiers in the object language is too generous in certain ways. But it is not really clear how unfair to Urdu or to Hindi it would be to view the range of their quantifiers as insufficient to yield an explicit definition of ‗true-in-Urdu‘ or ‗true-in- Hindi‘. Or, to put the matter in another, if not more serious, way, there may in the nature of the case always be something we grasp in (...) understanding the language of another (the concept of truth) that we cannot communicate to him. In any case, most of the problems of general philosophical interest arise within a fragment of the relevant natural language that may be conceived as containing very little set theory. Of course these comments do not meet the claim that natural languages are universal. But it seems to me this claim, now that we know such universality leads to paradox, is suspect. –―Truth and Meaning‖. (shrink)
An explanatory coherence theory of justification is sketched and then defended against a number of recent objections: conservatism and relativism; wild and crazy beliefs; reliability; warranted necessary falsehoods; basing; distant, unknown coherences; Sosa's “self- and present-abstracts”; and Bayesian impossibility results.
The truth-condition theory of meaning is, naturally, thought of an as explanatory theory whose explananda are the meaning facts. But there are at least two deductive arguments that purport to establish the truth of the theory irrespective of its explanatory virtues. This paper examines those arguments and concludes that they succeed.
Despite the current resurgence of modest forms of mind?body dualism, traditional Cartesian immaterial-substance dualism has few, if any, defenders. This paper argues that no convincing case has been made against substance dualism, and that standard objections to it can be credibly answered.
There is now a considerable literature that goes under the heading of “phenomenal intentionality.” But it features a number of distinct issues. What they have in common is the claim that intentionality bears a closer relation to phenomenology than had previously been recognized. There is a basic thesis, which is controversial, and there are further arguments attempting to draw more exciting morals from the basic thesis. My purpose in this paper is to survey these issues, see what may be at (...) stake, and adjudicate. (shrink)
This paper is about a certain family of philosophical positions on the mind-body problem. The positions are dualist, but only in a minimal sense of that term employed by philosophers: according to the positions in question, mental entities are immaterial and distinct from all physical things.
Now under what circumstances is a conditional true? Even to raise this question is to depart from everyday attitudes. An affirmation of the form ‘if p then q’ is commonly felt less as an affirmation of a conditional than as a conditional affirmation of the consequent…. If, after we have made such an affirmation, the antecedent turns out true, then we consider ourselves committed to the consequent, and are ready to acknowledge error if it proves false. If on the other (...) hand the antecedent turns out to have been false, our conditional affirmation is as if it had never been made. (shrink)
WATER. …I. The liquid of which seas, lakes, and rivers are composed, and which falls as rain and issues from springs. When pure, it is transparent, colourless (except as seen in large quantity, when it has a blue tint), tasteless, and inodorous. --Oxford English Dictionary …the fact that an English speaker in 1750 might have called XYZ ‘water,’ whereas he or his successors would not have called XYZ water in 1800 or 1850 does not mean that the ‘meaning’ of ‘water’ (...) changed for the average speaker in the interval. (shrink)
Though Noë is concerned to emphasize that perceptual experiences are not per se internal representations, he does not really say why, and he is fairly quiet about what he takes intentionality and representation themselves to be. Drawing on a subsequent paper (Noë (forthcoming)), I bring out and criticize his in fact radically negative view of those fundamental mental capacities.
The 1960s saw heated discussion of Eliminative Materialism in regard to sensations and their phenomenal features. Thus directed, Eliminative Materialism is materialism or physicalism plus the distinctive and truly radical thesis that there have never occurred any sensations; no one has ever experienced a sensation. This view attracted few adherents(!), though to this day some philosophers are Eliminativists with respect to various alleged phenomenal features of sensations.
What is consciousness?Â—to coin a question. According to Â“higher-order representationÂ” (HOR) theories of consciousness, a mental state or event is a conscious state or event just in case it (itself) is the intentional object of one of the subjectÂ’s mental representations. That may sound odd, perhaps crazy. In fact, because of the richly diverse uses of the word Â“consciousÂ” in contemporary philosophy of mind, it is bound to sound odd to many people. So I must begin by specifying what I (...) here mean by Â“conscious state or eventÂ” (hereafter just Â“state,Â” for convenience). (shrink)
(3) A compatibilist needs to explain how free will can co-exist with determinism, paradigmatically by offering an analysis of ‘free’ action that is demonstrably compatible with determinism. (Here is the late Roderick Chisholm, in defense of irreducible or libertarian agent-causation: ‘Now if you can analyze such statements as “Jones killed his uncle” into event-causation statements, then you may have earned the right to make jokes about the agent as cause. But if you haven’t done this, and if all the same (...) you do believe such things as that I raised my arm and that Jolns [sic] killed his uncle, and if moreover you still think it’s a joke to talk about the agent as cause, then, I’m afraid, the joke is entirely on you.’). (shrink)
‘[I]ntrospection’ is just a convenient word to describe our way of knowing what is going on in our own mind, and anyone convinced that we know—at least sometimes—what is going on in our own mind and therefore, that we have a mind and, therefore, that we are not zombies, must believe that introspection is the answer we are looking for. I, too, believe in introspection.
Charles Siewert's _The Significance of Consciousness_ contends that most philosophers and psychologists who have written about "consciousness" have neglected a crucial type or aspect that Siewert calls "phenomenal consciousness" and tries carefully to define. The present article argues that some philosophers, at least, have not neglected phenomenal consciousness and have offered tenable theories of it.