In Mumford’s Dispositions, the reader will find an extended treatment of the recent debate about dispositions from Ryle and Geach to the present. Along the way, Mumford presents his own views on several key points, though we found the book much more thorough in its assessment of opposing views than in the development of a positive account. As we’ll try to make clear, some of the ideas endorsed in Dispositions are certainly worth pursuing; others are not. Following Mackie, Shoemaker, and (...) others,1 Mumford stresses that it’s one thing to distinguish between dispositional and categorical ascriptions and quite another to draw an ontological line between dispositional and categorical properties. The book itself can be divided roughly into those chapters that deal with the relationship between dispositional ascriptions and corresponding conditionals (like ‘is fragile’ and ‘would break if struck’); and those chapters that deal with the relationship between dispositions and their categorical bases (like fragility and having internal structure XYZ). We shall examine each cluster of issues in turn. (shrink)
Seth Yalcin has pointed out some puzzling facts about the behaviour of epistemic modals in certain embedded contexts. For example, conditionals that begin ‘If it is raining and it might not be raining, …’ sound unacceptable, unlike conditionals that begin ‘If it is raining and I don’t know it, …’. These facts pose a prima facie problem for an orthodox treatment of epistemic modals, according to which they express propositions about the knowledge of some contextually specified individual or group. This (...) paper develops an explanation of the puzzling facts about embedding within an orthodox framework, using broadly Gricean resources. (shrink)
Lewis's notion of a "natural" property has proved divisive: some have taken to the notion with enthusiasm, while others have been sceptical. However, it is far from obvious what the enthusiasts and the sceptics are disagreeing about. This paper attempts to articulate what is at stake in this debate.
What ought one to do, epistemically speaking, when faced with a disagreement? Faced with this question, one naturally hopes for an answer that is principled, general, and intuitively satisfying. We want to argue that this is a vain hope. Our claim is that a satisfying answer will prove elusive because of non-transparency: that there is no condition such that we are always in a position to know whether it obtains. When we take seriously that there is nothing, including our own (...) minds, to which we have assured access, the familiar project of formulating epistemic norms is destabilized. In this paper, we will show how this plays out in the special case of disagreement. But we believe that a larger lesson can ultimately be extracted from our discussion: namely, that non-transparency threatens our hope for fully satisfying epistemic norms in general. (shrink)
Claims of the form 'I know P and it might be that not-P' tend to sound odd. One natural explanation of this oddity is that the conjuncts are semantically incompatible: in its core epistemic use, 'Might P' is true in a speaker's mouth only if the speaker does not know that not-P. In this paper I defend this view against an alternative proposal that has been advocated by Trent Dougherty and Patrick Rysiew and elaborated upon in Jeremy Fantl and Matthew (...) McGrath's recent Knowledge in an Uncertain World. (shrink)
This discussion piece critically examines some of the key ideology that figures in Elizabeth Fricker's ‘Stating and Insinuating’(2012), raises a number of queries about the details of Fricker's argumentation, and develops some ideas about the normative structure of testimony that relate to the themes of that paper.
This book critically examines some widespread views about the semantic phenomenon of reference and the cognitive phenomenon of singular thought. It begins with a defense of the view that neither is tied to a special relation of causal or epistemic acquaintance. It then challenges the alleged semantic rift between definite and indefinite descriptions on the one hand, and names and demonstratives on the other—a division that has been motivated in part by appeals to considerations of acquaintance. Drawing on recent work (...) in semantics, the book explores a more unified account of all four types of expression, according to which none of them paradigmatically fits the profile of a referential term. On the proposed framework, all four involve existential quantification but admit of uses that exhibit many of the traits associated with reference—a phenomenon that is due to the presence of what we call a ‘singular restriction’ on the existentially quantified domain. The book concludes by drawing out some implications of the proposed semantic picture for the traditional categories of reference and singular thought. (shrink)
One of Weatherson's main goals is to drive home a methodological point: We shouldn't be looking for deductive arguments for or against relativism – we should instead be evaluating inductive arguments designed to show that either relativism or some alternative offers the best explanation of some data. Our focus in Chapter Two on diagnostics for shared content allegedly encourages the search for deductive arguments and so does more harm than good. We have no methodological slogan of our own to offer. (...) Part of what we were trying to do was to clearly articulate what the relevant issues even are. Often relativism is characterized in a way that is offhand and sloppy. The relativist, we are told, accepts 'disquotational truth' for various kinds of claims but denies that they are 'true simpliciter'. What exactly is going on here? Do the relevant distinctions even make sense? Before engaging in various abductive manoevers we need to get much clearer about what it is that we are trying to argue for and against. That said we are perfectly happy with the kind of inductive enterprise that Weatherson sketches. For our part, we were fully aware (and indeed explicit) that the 'agreement' diagnostic does not ‘deductively’ settle all of the relevant disputes. A significant part of Chapter Four is dedicated to something in the vicinity of Weatherson's project. Note, indeed, that our diagnostics are even stated using the ideology of 'providing evidence' – hardly the basis for a straightforwardly deductive argument for or against relativism. Finally, though, we should point out that we are not hostile to deductive arguments against relativism. A philosopher's evidence is theory-laden and in part owes itself to epistemic powers that his or her opponents may not acknowledge. In short, their evidence may not always have the hallmarks of 'evidence neutrality' --- evidence that their opponents would recognize as such. We are perfectly open to there being compelling deductive arguments against relativism from such evidence.. (shrink)
In Hawthorne and Magidor 2009, we presented an argument against Stalnaker’s meta-semantic framework. In this paper we address two critical responses to our paper: Stalnaker 2009, and Almotahari and Glick 2010. Sections 1–4 are devoted to addressing Stalnaker’s response and sections 5–8 to addressing Almotahari and Glick’s. We pay special attention (Sect. 2) to an interesting argument that Stalnaker offers to bolster the transparency of presupposition (an argument that, if successful, could also form the basis of a defence of the (...) KK principle). (shrink)
Oxford Studies in Epistemology is a biennial publicaton which offers a regular snapshot of state-of-the-art work in this important field. Under the guidance of a distinguished editorial board composed of leading philosophers in North America, Europe and Australasia, it publishes exemplary papers in epistemology, broadly construed. Topics within its purview include: *traditional epistemological questions concerning the nature of belief, justification, and knowledge, the status of scepticism, the nature of the a priori, etc; *new developments in epistemology, including movements such as (...) naturalized epistemology, feminist epistemology, social epistemology, and virtue epistemology, and approaches such as contextualism; *foundational questions in decision-theory; *confirmation theory and other branches of philosophy of science that bear on traditional issues in epistemology; *topics in the philosophy of perception relevant to epistemology; *topics in cognitive science, computer science, developmental, cognitive, and social psychology that bear directly on traditional epistemological questions; and *work that examines connections between epistemology and other branches of philosophy, including work on testimony and the ethics of belief. Anyone wanting to understand the latest developments at the leading edge of the discipline can start here. (shrink)
Relativism has dominated many intellectual circles, past and present, but the twentieth century saw it banished to the fringes of mainstream analytic philosophy. Of late, however, it is making something of a comeback within that loosely configured tradition, a comeback that attempts to capitalize on some important ideas in foundational semantics. Relativism and Monadic Truth aims not merely to combat analytic relativism but also to combat the foundational ideas in semantics that led to its revival. Doing so requires a proper (...) understanding of the significance of possible worlds semantics, an examination of the relation between truth and the flow of time, an account of putatively relevant data from attitude and speech act reporting, and a careful treatment of various operators. Throughout, Herman Cappelen and John Hawthorne contrast relativism with a view according to which the contents of thought and talk are propositions that instantiate the fundamental monadic properties of truth simpliciter and falsity simpliciter. Such propositions, they argue, are the semantic values of sentences (relative to context), the objects of illocutionary acts, and, unsurprisingly, the objects of propositional attitudes. (shrink)
We think we have lots of substantial knowledge about the future. But contemporary wisdom has it that indeterminism prevails in such a way that just about any proposition about the future has a non-zero objective chance of being false.2, 3 What should one do about this? One, pessimistic, reaction is scepticism about knowledge of the future. We think this should be something of a last resort, especially since this scepticism is likely to infect alleged knowledge of the present and past. (...) One anti-sceptical strategy is to pin our hopes on determinism, conceding that knowledge of the future is unavailable in an indeterministic world. This is not satisfying either: we would rather not be hostage to empirical fortune in the way that this strategy recommends. A final strategy, one that we shall explore in this paper, is one of reconciliation: knowledge of a proposition is compatible with a subject’s belief having a non-zero objective chance of error.4 Following Williamson, we are interested in tying knowledge to the presence or absence of error in close cases, and so we shall explore the connections between knowledge and objective chance within such a framework. We don’t want to get tangled up here in complications involved in attempting to formulate a necessary and sufficient condition for knowledge in terms of safety. Instead, we will assume the following rough and ready necessary condition: a subject knows P only if she could not easily have falsely believed P.5 Assuming that easiness is to be spelt.. (shrink)
In his seminal paper 'Assertion', Robert Stalnaker distinguishes between the semantic content of a sentence on an occasion of use and the content asserted by an utterance of that sentence on that occasion. While in general the assertoric content of an utterance is simply its semantic content, the mechanisms of conversation sometimes force the two apart. Of special interest in this connection is one of the principles governing assertoric content in the framework, one according to which the asserted content ought (...) to be identical at each world in the context set (the Uniformity principle). In this paper, we present a problem for Stalnaker's meta-semantic framework, by challenging the plausibility of the Uniformity principle. We argue that the interaction of the framework with facts about epistemic accessibility--in particular, failures of epistemic transparency--cause problems for the Uniformity principle and thus for Stalnaker's framework more generally. (shrink)
The expression ‘Like’ has a wide variety of uses among English and American speakers. It may describe preference, as in (1) She likes mint chip ice cream. It may be used as a vehicle of comparison, as in (2) Trieste is like Minsk on steroids.
Judging by our folk appraisals, then, knowledge and action are intimately related. The theories of rational action with which we are familiar leave this unexplained. Moreover, discussions of knowledge are frequently silent about this connection. This is a shame, since if there is such a connection it would seem to constitute one of the most fundamental roles for knowledge. Our purpose in this paper is to rectify this lacuna, by exploring ways in which knowing something is related to rationally acting (...) upon it, defending one particular proposal against anticipated objections. (shrink)
In a series of thought-provoking and original essays, eighteen leading philosophers engage in head-to-head debates of nine of the most cutting edge topics in contemporary metaphysics. Explores the fundamental questions in contemporary metaphysics in a series of eighteen original essays - 16 of which are newly commissioned for this volume Features an introductory essay by the editors on the nature of metaphysics to prepare the reader for ongoing discussions Offers readers the unique opportunity to observe leading philosophers engage in head-to-head (...) debate on cutting-edge metaphysical topics Provides valuable insights into the flourishing field of contemporary metaphysics. (shrink)
It is natural to think that the relationship between ‘rain’ and the location of rain is different from the relationship between ‘dance’ and the location of dancing. Utterances of (1) are typically interpreted as, in some sense, being about a location in which it rains. (2) is, typically, not interpreted as being about a location in which the dancing takes place.
Oxford Studies in Epistemology is a biennial publicaton which offers a regular snapshot of state-of-the-art work in this important field. Under the guidance of a distinguished editorial board composed of leading philosophers in North America, Europe and Australasia, it will publish exemplary papers in epistemology, broadly construed. Topics within its purview include: *traditional epistemological questions concerning the nature of belief, justification, and knowledge, the status of scepticism, the nature of the a priori, etc; *new developments in epistemology, including movements such (...) as naturalized epistemology, feminist epistemology, social epistemology, and virtue epistemology, and approaches such as contextualism; *foundational questions in decision-theory; *confirmation theory and other branches of philosophy of science that bear on traditional issues in epistemology; *topics in the philosophy of perception relevant to epistemology; *topics in cognitive science, computer science, developmental, cognitive, and social psychology that bear directly on traditional epistemological questions; and *work that examines connections between epistemology and other branches of philosophy, including work on testimony and the ethics of belief. Anyone wanting to understand the latest developments at the leading edge of the discipline can start here. (shrink)
In this short paper, I shall examine some key structural features of Descartes’s metaphysics, as it relates to mind–body dualism. The style of presentation will partly be one of rational reconstruction, designed to present the Cartesian system in a way that will be of maximal interest to contemporary metaphysicians. Section 1 focuses on ﬁve key Cartesian theses about principal attributes. Sections 2 and 3 examine how those theses play themselves out in Descartes’s discussion of mind–body dualism.
In the last few years there has been an explosion of philosophical interest in perception; after decades of neglect, it is now one of the most fertile areas for new work. Perceptual Experience presents new work by fifteen of the world's leading philosophers. All papers are written specially for this volume, and they cover a broad range of topics dealing with sensation and representation, consciousness and awareness, and the connections between perception and knowledge and between perception and action. This will (...) be the book on the philosophy of perception, a fascinating resource for philosophers and psychologists. (shrink)
John Hawthorne is widely regarded as one of the finest philosophers working today. He is perhaps best known for his contributions to metaphysics, and this volume collects his most notable papers in this field. Hawthorne offers original treatments of fundamental topics in philosophy, including identity, ontology, vagueness, and causation. Six of the essays appear here for the first time, and there is a valuable introduction to guide the reader through the selection.
[John Hawthorne] We examine some well-known disjunctivist projects in the philosophy of perception, mainly in a critical vein. Our discussion is divided into four parts. Following some introductory remarks, we examine in part two the link between object-dependent contents and disjunctivism. In part three, we explore the disjunctivist's use of discriminability facts as a basis for understanding experience. In part four, we examine an interesting argument for disjunctivism that has been offered by Michael Martin. /// [Scott Sturgeon] The paper aims (...) to do five things: sketch the backbone of disjunctivism about visual experience, explore the view of our title, defend a version of that view from two objections, press two more objections of my own, and sketch a more radical variety of disjunctivism which avoids much of the bother. (shrink)
As is well known, Aristotelian natural philosophy, and many other systems of natural philosophy since, have relied heavily on teleology and teleological causation. Somehow, the purpose or end of an obj ect can be used to predict and explain what that object does: once you know that the end of an acorn is to become an oak, and a few things about what sorts of circumstances are conducive to the attainment of this end, you can predict a lot about the (...) sprouting of the acorn and the subsequent behaviour of the piece of vegetation that results. Once you know that a rock seeks to move towards the centre of the Earth, you gain some insight into why it falls when released, and why it deforms the carpet or foot that it lands on. Once you know that the rabbit seeks to preserve itself, you can predict it will run from the fox. And so on. There are at least three features of Aristotle’s teleology, and more generally of an Aristotelian frame of mind about teleology, that may induce suspicion. One is that an end can serve as a "cause": as well as the sort of causation we all recognize, efficient causation, there are other forms, one of which is teleological causation. However, this can look less odd if we think of causes as things that figure in "because" answers to "why" questions. Whether or not self-preservation, or the rabbit’s continued existence, or something similar, causes the rabbit to run, the reply "because it seeks to continue in existence" certainly makes sense as an answer, or part of an answer, to a question about why it ran from the fox. (At present we are only. (shrink)
A very simple contextualist treatment of a sentence containing an epistemic modal, e.g. a might be F, is that it is true iff for all the contextually salient community knows, a is F. It is widely agreed that the simple theory will not work in some cases, but the counterexamples produced so far seem amenable to a more complicated contextualist theory. We argue, however, that no contextualist theory can capture the evaluations speakers naturally make of sentences containing epistemic modals. If (...) we want to respect these evaluations, our best option is a relativist theory of epistemic modals. On a relativist theory, an utterance of a might be F can be true relative to one context of evaluation and false relative to another. We argue that such a theory does better than any rival approach at capturing all the behaviour of epistemic modals. (shrink)