I oppose the popular view that the phenomenal character of perceptual experience consists in the subject's representing the (putative) perceived object as being so-and-so. The account of perceptual experience I favor instead is a version of the "Theory of Appearing" that takes it to be a matter of the perceived object's appearing to one as so-and-so, where this does not mean that the subject takes or believes it to be so-and-so. This plays no part in my criticisms of Representationalism. I (...) mention it only to be up front as to where I stand. My criticism of the Representationalist position is in sections. (1) There is no sufficient reason for positing a representative function for perceptual experience. It doesn't seem on the face of it to be that, and nothing serves in place of such seeming. (2) Even if it did have such a function, it doesn't have the conceptual resources to represent a state of affairs. (3) Even if it did, it is not suited to represent, e.g., a physical property of color. (4) Finally, even if I am wrong about the first three points, it is still impossible for the phenomenal character of the perceptual experience to consist in it's representing what it does. My central argument for this central claim of the paper is that it is metaphysically, de re possible that one have a certain perceptual experience without it's presenting any state of affairs. And since all identities hold necessarily, this identity claim fails. (shrink)
Sellars is well known for his critique of the "myth of the given" in his "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind". That text does not make it unambiguous just how he understands the "myth". Here I take it that whatever else may be involved, his critique is incompatible with the view that there is a nonconceptual mode of "presentation" or "givenness" of particulars that is the heart of sense perception and what is most distinctive of perception as a type of (...) cognition. A critical examination of Sellars' arguments, particularly those directed at the Theory of Appearing, results in the conclusion that he has failed to eliminate the above view of perception. Moreover, though Sellars is clearly opposed to the view that perceptual experience cannot provide justification for beliefs about perceived objects, I argue that Sellars has failed to shake the intuitive plausibility of that view. (shrink)
Receptivity to Christian or other religious proclamations is powerfully influenced by one’s value orientations. I distinguish five contrasts in such orientations that illustrate this point. 1. Finding “worldly” values most deeply satisfying vs. a sense that something that transcends those would be most fulfilling. 2. Extreme stress on human autonomy vs. a positive evaluation of deference to God, if such there be. 3. A sense of thorough sinfulness vs. a thoroughly positive self image. 4. A willingness to accept outside help (...) to transform oneself vs. a sense of the unworthiness of such dependence. 5. A readiness to treat others’ well being as important as one’s own vs. an exclusive focus on looking out for number one. The above reflects the deeper fact that value commihnents are an essential part of Christian belief, treatments of which must take account of this. (shrink)
In what follows, I discuss the extent to which the epistemology of religious belief differs from the epistemology of other areas of our belief, as well as the extent to which it is similar. There will be important similarities: for example, the standards for the application of terms of epistemic assessment like ‘justified’, ‘warranted’,and ‘rational’. But in this essay, I concentrate on delineating some important differences between religious and non-religious epistemology.
This is a response to Hick’s comments on my approach to the problem of religious diversity in Perceiving God. Before unearthing the bones I have to pick with him, let me fully acknowledge that I have not provided a fully satisfactory solution to the problem. At most I have done the best that can be done given the constraints within which I was working. But this best, if such it be, is not as bad as Hick makes it appear. To (...) show this I need to make several corrections in Hick’s depiction of the situation. (shrink)
P. T. Geach, notoriously, holds the Relative Identity Thesis, according to which a meaningful judgment of identity is always, implicitly or explicitly, relative to some general term. ‘The same’ is a fragmentary expression, and has no significance unless we say or mean ‘the same X’, where ‘X’ represents a general term (what Frege calls a Begriffswort or Begriffsausdruck). (P. T. Geach, Mental Acts (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957), p. 69. I maintain that it makes no sense to judge whether (...) things are ‘the same’, or remain ‘the same’, unless we add or understand some general term - ‘the same F’. (P. T. Geach, Reference and Generality, third Edition (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1980), pp. 63f. I am arguing for the thesis that identity is relative. When one says ‘x is identical with y’, this, I hold, is an incomplete expression; it is short for ‘x is the same A as y’, where ‘A’ represents some count noun understood from the context of utterance - or else, it is just a vague expression of a half-formed thought. (P. T. Geach, ‘Identity,’ Review of Metaphysics 21 (1967-8), p. 3.) One of the ways Geach seeks to support this is by tying it to the well nigh universally admired Fregean thesis about cardinality. (shrink)
Immediate knowledge is here construed as true belief that does not owe its status as knowledge to support by other knowledge (or justified belief) of the same subject. The bulk of the paper is devoted to a criticism of attempts to show the impossibility of immediate knowledge. I concentrate on attempts by Wilfrid Sellars and Laurence Bonjour to show that putative immediate knowledge really depends on higher-level knowledge or justified belief about the status of the beliefs involved in the putative (...) immediate knowledge. It is concluded that their arguments are lacking in cogency. (shrink)
On the critical side it is argued that, contrary to a widespread view, the explanation of particular facts does not play a central role in pure science and hence that philosophers of science are misguided in supposing that the understanding of such explanations is one of the central tasks of the philosophy of science. It is suggested that the view being attacked may stem in part from an impression that the establishing of a general law is tantamount to the explanation (...) of particular facts that "fall under" the law. This suggestion effects a bridge to the more positive part of the paper, which consists of an exploration of the complexities exhibited by the relation between the two activities. More specifically, I point out a number of disabilities, any one of which could prevent us from being able to explain particular facts that fall under a given law even after having established the law. Some of these have to do with the form of the law, and some have to do with our powers of detection vis-a-vis the particular facts in question. The former sort have to do with the ways in which laws may deviate from the strict-necessary-and-sufficient-condition ideal. The latter include the following points. (1) The individual explanatory factors may lie beyond our present powers of detection. (2) The complexity of such factors may be too great for us to be able to interrelate them. (3) We may be unable to apply concepts used in the law to facts in this area (although they are in fact applicable). (shrink)