***NOTE: April 2013 version contains discussion of whether Grounding is needed to fix direction of priority between non-fundamental goings-on.*** It has recently been suggested that a distinctive relation or relations of "Grounding" is ultimately at issue in contexts where some goings-on are claimed to, e.g., hold "in virtue of"" or be "less fundamental than", "metaphysically dependent on", or "nothing over and above" some others (see Fine 2001, Schaffer 2009, and Rosen 2010). Grounding is supposed to do good (...) work (better than merely modal notions, in particular) in illuminating metaphysical dependence. I argue that Grounding is also too coarse-grained to do this work, eliding important differences in such dependence. There is no avoiding the need for specific metaphysical relations capable of making more fine-grained discriminations, since one cannot assess relative dependence relations without having some idea of whether the dependent goings-on are reducible to the base goings-on, are efficacious vis-a-vis the latter, and so on. Once the specific relations are on the scene, however, there is no need for Grounding. Nor, I argue, is Grounding needed as a metaphysical, terminological or formal unifier of the specific grounding relations. Even if there were such unity, that in itself wouldn't motivate the posit of a distinctive (much less primitive) Grounding relation; moreover, there is little such unity. (shrink)
The primary goal of this chapter is to set out and clarify some of the central issues and disputes concerning grounding (alternatively, the in virtue of relation, priority, metaphysical explanation, and so on). I begin by introducing a taxonomy of positions that proceeds upon a cluster of related issues including, for example, whether our talk of grounding in philosophical discourse is univocal. Then I consider the logical form of grounding statements as well as the structural principles that (...) govern grounding. Next, I take up the matter of how the notions of grounding, modality, and reduction interact. I close with a brief discussion of the grounds for true grounding claims. (shrink)
A compelling idea holds that reality has a layered structure. We often disagree about what inhabits the bottom layer (or even if there is one), but we agree that higher up we find chemical, biological, geological, psychological, sociological, economic, /etc./, entities: molecules, human beings, diamonds, mental states, cities, interest rates, and so on. How is this intuitive talk of a layered structure of entities to be understood? Traditionally, philosophers have proposed to understand layered structure in terms of either reduction or (...) supervenience. But these traditional views face well-known problems. A plausible alternative is that layered structure is to be explicated by appeal to explanations of a certain sort, termed /grounding explanations/. Grounding explanations tell us what obtains in virtue of what. Unfortunately, the use of grounding explanations to articulate the layered conception faces a problem, which I call /the collapse/. The collapse turns on the question of how to ground the facts stated by the explanations themselves. In this paper I make a suggestion about how to ground explanations that avoids the collapse. Briefly, the suggestion is that the fact stated by a grounding explanation is grounded in its /explanans/. (shrink)
A philosophical standard in the debates concerning material constitution is the case of a statue and a lump of clay, Lumpl and Goliath respectively. According to the story, Lumpl and Goliath are coincident throughout their respective careers. Monists hold that they are identical; pluralists that they are distinct. This paper is concerned with a particular objection to pluralism, the Grounding Problem . The objection is roughly that the pluralist faces a legitimate explanatory demand to explain various differences she alleges (...) between Lumpl and Goliath, but that the pluralistâ€™s theory lacks the resources to give any such explanation. In this paper, I explore the question of whether there really is any problem of this sort. I argue (i) that explanatory demands that are clearly legitimate are easy for the pluralist to meet; (ii) that even in cases of explanatory demands whose legitimacy is questionable the pluralist has some overlooked resources; and (iii) there is some reason for optimism about the pluralistâ€™s prospects for meeting every legitimate explanatory demand. In short, no clearly adequate statement of a Grounding Problem is extant, and there is some reason to believe that the pluralist can overcome any Grounding Problem that we havenâ€™t thought of yet. (shrink)
It has often been argued that Humean accounts of natural law cannot account for the role played by laws in scientific explanations. Loewer (Philosophical Studies 2012) has offered a new reply to this argument on behalf of Humean accounts—a reply that distinguishes between grounding (which Loewer portrays as underwriting a kind of metaphysical explanation) and scientific explanation. I will argue that Loewer’s reply fails because it cannot accommodate the relation between metaphysical and scientific explanation. This relation also resolves a (...) puzzle about scientific explanation that Hempel and Oppenheim (Philosophy of Science 15:135–75, 1948) encountered. (shrink)
Recent interest in the nature of grounding is due in part to the idea that purely modal notions are too coarse-grained to capture what we have in mind when we say that one thing is grounded in another. Grounding not being purely modal in character, however, is compatible with it having modal consequences. Is grounding a necessary relation? In this paper I argue that the answer is ‘yes’ in the sense that propositions corresponding to full grounds modally (...) entail propositions corresponding to what they ground. The argument proceeds upon two substantive principles: the first is that there is a broadly epistemic constraint on grounding, while the second links this constraint with Fine’s Aristotelian notion of essence. Many think grounding is necessary in something like the sense specified above, but just why it’s necessary is an issue that hasn’t been carefully addressed. If my argument is successful, we now know why grounding is necessary. (shrink)
This paper concerns non-causal normative explanations such as "This act is wrong because/in virtue of ___" (where the blank is often filled out in non-normative terms, such as "it causes pain"). The familiar intuition that normative facts aren't brute or ungrounded but anchored in non-normative facts seems to be in tension with the equally familiar idea that no normative fact can be fully explained in purely non-normative terms. I ask whether the tension could be resolved by treating the explanatory relation (...) in normative explanations as the sort of "grounding" relation that receives extensive discussion in recent metaphysics. I argue that this would help only under controversial assumptions about the nature of normative facts, and perhaps not even then. I won't try to resolve the tension, but draw a distinction between two different sorts of normative explanations (one concerning "bearers", the other concerning "sources", of normativity) which helps to identify constraints on a resolution. One distinctive constraint on normative explanations in particular might be that they should be able to play a role in normative justification. (shrink)
The paper presents a paradoxical feature of computational systems that suggests that computationalism cannot explain symbol grounding. If the mind is a digital computer, as computationalism claims, then it can be computing either over meaningful symbols or over meaningless symbols. If it is computing over meaningful symbols its functioning presupposes the existence of meaningful symbols in the system, i.e. it implies semantic nativism. If the mind is computing over meaningless symbols, no intentional cognitive processes are available prior to symbol (...)grounding. In this case, no symbol grounding could take place since any grounding presupposes intentional cognitive processes. So, whether computing in the mind is over meaningless or over meaningful symbols, computationalism implies semantic nativism. (shrink)
Dennis Whitcomb argues that there is no God on the grounds that (i) God is omniscient, yet (ii) nothing could be omniscient due to the nature of grounding. We give a formally identical argument that concludes that one of the present co-authors does not exist. Since he does exist, Whitcomb’s argument is unsound. But why is it unsound? That is a difficult question. We venture two answers. First, one of the grounding principles that the argument relies on is (...) false. Second, the argument equivocates between two kinds of grounding: instance-grounding and quasi-mereological grounding. Happily, the equivocation can be avoided; unhappily, avoidance comes at the price of a false premise. (shrink)
Are a statue and the lump of clay that constitutes it one object or two? Many philosophers have answered ‘two’ because the lump seems to have properties, such as the property of being able to survive flattening, that the statue lacks. This answer faces a serious problem: it seems that nothing grounds the difference in properties between colocated objects. The statue and lump are in the same environment and inherit properties from the same composing parts. But it seems that differences (...) in properties should be grounded. For this reason, philosophers including Mark Heller, Dean Zimmerman, Theodore Sider, Trenton Merricks, and Eric Olson have rejected the answer ‘two’. -/- I offer a solution to the grounding problem, in order to revive the traditional account. I argue that extrinsic relations contribute to the supervenience base of many kinds or sorts, and these extrinsic relations ground differences between colocated objects, such as statues and lumps of clay, human beings and lumps of tissue, and planets and masses of matter. The same collection of parts can stand in more than one extrinsic relation, with each relation grounding the composition of a distinct kind of object. In cases in which this happens, the properties of each object differ from the properties of other objects that share the same parts. (shrink)
The claim that the having of aesthetic properties supervenes on the having of non-aesthetic properties has been widely discussed and, in various ways, defended. In this paper, I will show that even if it is sometimes true that a supervenience relation holds between aesthetic properties and the 'subvenient' non-aesthetic ones, it is not the interesting relation in the neighbourhood. As we shall see, a richer, asymmetric and irreflexive relation is required, and I shall defend the claim that the more-and-more-popular relation (...) of grounding does a much better job than supervenience. (shrink)
It is unlikely that the systematic, compositional properties of formal symbol systems -- i.e., of computation -- play no role at all in cognition. However, it is equally unlikely that cognition is just computation, because of the symbol grounding problem (Harnad 1990): The symbols in a symbol system are systematically interpretable, by external interpreters, as meaning something, and that is a remarkable and powerful property of symbol systems. Cognition (i.e., thinking), has this property too: Our thoughts are systematically interpretable (...) by external interpreters as meaning something. However, unlike symbols in symbol systems, thoughts mean what they mean autonomously: Their meaning does not consist of or depend on anyone making or being able to make any external interpretations of them at all. When I think "the cat is on the mat," the meaning of that thought is autonomous; it does not depend on YOUR being able to interpret it as meaning that (even though you could interpret it that way, and you would be right). (shrink)
In virtue of what is something a reason for action? That is, what makes a consideration a reason to act? This is a metaphysical or meta-normative question about the grounding of reasons for action. The answer to the grounding question has been traditionally given in ‘pure’, univocal terms. This paper argues that there is good reason to understand the ground of practical normativity as a hybrid of traditional ‘pure’ views. The paper 1) surveys the three leading ‘pure’ answers (...) to the question of a normative ground, 2) examines one or two of the most difficult problems for each, proposing along the way a new objection to one, and 3) argues that a particular hybrid view about normative grounds –‘hybrid voluntarism’ – avoids each of the main problems faced by the three leading ‘pure’ views. (shrink)
There is currently an explosion of interest in grounding. In this article we provide an overview of the debate so far. We begin by introducing the concept of grounding, before discussing several kinds of scepticism about the topic. We then identify a range of central questions in the theory of grounding and discuss competing answers to them that have emerged in the debate. We close by raising some questions that have been relatively neglected but which warrant further (...) attention. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that truth is grounded: True propositions depend for their truth on the world. Some philosophers believe that truth’s grounding has implications for our ontology of time. If truth is grounded, then truth supervenes on being. But if truth supervenes on being, then presentism is false since, on presentism, e.g., that there were dinosaurs fails to supervene on the whole of being plus the instantiation pattern of properties and relations. Call this the grounding argument against presentism. (...) Many presentists claim that the grounding argument fails because, despite appearances, supervenience is compatible with presentism. In this paper, I claim that the grounding argument fails because, despite appearances, truth’s grounding gives the presentist no compelling reason to adopt the sort of supervenience principle at work in the grounding argument. I begin by giving two precisifications of the grounding principle: truthmaking and supervenience. In Sect. 2, I give the grounding argument against presentism. In Sect. 3, I argue that we should distinguish between eternalist and presentist notions of grounding; once this distinction is in hand, the grounding argument is undercut. In Sect. 4, I show how the presentist’s notion of grounding leads to presentist-friendly truthmaking and supervenience principles. In Sect. 5, I address some potential objections. (shrink)
Grounding is something like metaphysical causation. Roughly speaking, just as causation links the world across time, grounding links the world across levels. Grounding connects the more fundamental to the less fundamental, and thereby backs a certain form of explanation. Thus the right sort of physical system can support a biological organism such as a cat, and one way to answer the question of why there is a cat afoot is to describe the underlying physical system.
A lot of people believe that distinct objectscan occupy precisely the same place for theentire time during which they exist. Suchpeople have to provide an answer to the`grounding problem' – they have to explain howsuch things, alike in so many ways, nonethelessmanage to fall under different sortals, or havedifferent modal properties. I argue in detailthat they cannot say that there is anything invirtue of which spatio-temporally coincidentthings have those properties. However, I alsoargue that this may not be as bad (...) as it looks,and that there is a way to make sense of theclaim that such properties are primitive. (shrink)
Embodied Cognition is the kind of view that is all trees, no forest. Mounting experimental evidence gives it momentum in fleshing out the theoretical problems inherent in Cognitivists’ separation of mind and body. But the more its proponents compile such evidence, the more the fundamental concepts of Embodied Cognition remain in the dark. This conundrum is nicely exemplified by Pecher and Zwaan’s (2005) book, Grounding Cognition, which is a programmatic attempt to rally together an array of empirical results and (...) linguistic data, and its successes in this endeavor nicely epitomize current directions among the various research provinces of Embodied Cognition. The untoward drawback, however, is that such successes are symptomatic of the growing imbalance between experimental progress and theoretical interrogation. In particular, one of the theoretical cornerstones of Embodied Cognition—namely, the very concept of grounding under investigation here—continues to go unilluminated. Hence, the advent of this volume indicates that—now more than ever—the concept of grounding is in dire need of some plain old-fashioned conceptual analysis. In that sense, Embodied Cognition is grounded until further notice. (shrink)
There has been much discussion recently about the scope and limits of purely symbolic models of the mind and about the proper role of connectionism in cognitive modeling. This paper describes the symbol grounding problem: How can the semantic interpretation of a formal symbol system be made intrinsic to the system, rather than just parasitic on the meanings in our heads? How can the meanings of the meaningless symbol tokens, manipulated solely on the basis of their (arbitrary) shapes, be (...) grounded in anything but other meaningless symbols? The problem is analogous to trying to learn Chinese from a Chinese/Chinese dictionary alone. A candidate solution is sketched: Symbolic representations must be grounded bottom-up in nonsymbolic representations of two kinds: (1) iconic representations, which are analogs of the proximal sensory projections of distal objects and events, and (2) categorical representations, which are learned and innate feature-detectors that pick out the invariant features of object and event categories from their sensory projections. Elementary symbols are the names of these object and event categories, assigned on the basis of their (nonsymbolic) categorical representations. Higher-order (3) symbolic representations, grounded in these elementary symbols, consist of symbol strings describing category membership relations (e.g., An X is a Y that is Z). Connectionism is one natural candidate for the mechanism that learns the invariant features underlying categorical representations, thereby connecting names to the proximal projections of the distal objects they stand for. In this way connectionism can be seen as a complementary component in a hybrid nonsymbolic/symbolic model of the mind, rather than a rival to purely symbolic modeling. Such a hybrid model would not have an autonomous symbolic module, however; the symbolic functions would emerge as an intrinsically dedicated symbol system as a consequence of the bottom-up grounding of categories' names in their sensory representations. Symbol manipulation would be governed not just by the arbitrary shapes of the symbol tokens, but by the nonarbitrary shapes of the icons and category invariants in which they are grounded. (shrink)
I’m going to argue that omniscience is impossible and therefore that there is no God. The argument turns on the notion of grounding. After illustrating and clarifying that notion, I’ll start the argument in earnest. The first step will be to lay out five claims, one of which is the claim that there is an omniscient being, and the other four of which are claims about grounding. I’ll prove that these five claims are jointly inconsistent. Then I’ll argue (...) for the truth of each of them except the claim that there is an omniscient being. From these arguments it follows that there are no omniscient beings and thus that there is no God. (shrink)
Opponents of presentism have often argued that the presentist has difficulty in accounting for what makes (presently) true past-tensed propositions (TptP) true in a way that is compatible with her metaphysical view of time and reality. The problem is quite general and concerns not only strong truth-maker principles, but also the requirement that truth be grounded in reality. In order to meet the challenge, presentists have proposed many peculiar present aspects of the world as grounds for truths concerning the past, (...) such as uninstantiated haecceities, Meinongian non-existents, ersatz times, and dispositional and distributional properties. The main problem with all such solutions is that any explanation of what grounds a TptP that involves the past is eo ipso a better explanation than any that involves only the present. Thus, the quest for an account of grounding for TptP that is compatible with the presentist ontology and ideology is doomed to be explanatorily deficient with respect to eternalism. In a recent article, Ben Caplan and David Sanson have claimed that presentists should change their strategy and, rather than seeking for exotic grounds for TptP, should adopt a more liberal view of explanation. That is, they should allow themselves to resort to “past directed” explanations, even if they do not accept the past in their ontology and ideology. I argue that such a proposal is not compatible with the tenet that there is a substantial distinction between the ideology of such a version of presentism and that of eternalism. Therefore, the presentist cannot endorse such “deflationist” explanations as an easy way out to the problem of the grounding of TptP. (shrink)
In this paper, I seek to undermine G.A. <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span>’s polemical use of a metaethical claim he makes in his article, ‘Facts and Principles’, by arguing that that use requires an unsustainable equivocation between epistemic and logical grounding. I begin by distinguishing three theses that <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span> has offered during the course of his critique of Rawls and contractualism more generally, the foundationalism about grounding thesis, the justice as non-regulative thesis, and the justice as all-encompassing thesis, and briefly (...) argue that they are analytically independent of each other. I then offer an outline of the foundationalism about grounding thesis, characterising it, as <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span> does, as a demand of logic. That thesis claims that whenever a normative principle is dependent on a fact, it is so dependent in virtue of some other principle. I then argue that although this is true as a matter of logic, it, as <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span> admits, cannot be true of actual justifications, since logic cannot tell us anything about the truth as opposed to the validity of arguments. Facts about a justification cannot then be decisive for whether or not a given argument violates the foundationalism about grounding thesis. As long as, independently of actual justifications, theorists can point to plausible logically grounding principles, as I argue contractualists can, <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span>’s thesis lacks critical bite. (shrink)
The Molinist doctrine that God has middle knowledge requires that God knows the truth-values of counterfactuals of freedom, propositions about what free agents would do in hypothetical circumstances. A well-known objection to middle knowledge, the grounding objection, contends that counterfactuals of freedom have no truth-value because there is no fact to the matter as to what an agent with libertarian freedom would do in counterfactual circumstances. Molinists, however, have offered responses to the grounding objection that they believe are (...) adequate for maintaining the coherence of middle knowledge. I argue that these responses to the grounding objection are not adequate, and that what I call the ‘generic grounding objection’ still poses a serious challenge to middle knowledge. (shrink)
"Symbol Grounding" is beginning to mean too many things to too many people. My own construal has always been simple: Cognition cannot be just computation, because computation is just the systematically interpretable manipulation of meaningless symbols, whereas the meanings of my thoughts don't depend on their interpretability or interpretation by someone else. On pain of infinite regress, then, symbol meanings must be grounded in something other than just their interpretability if they are to be candidates for what is going (...) on in our heads. Neural nets may be one way to ground the names of concrete objects and events in the capacity to categorize them (by learning the invariants in their sensorimotor projections). These grounded elementary symbols could then be combined into symbol strings expressing propositions about more abstract categories. Grounding does not equal meaning, however, and does not solve any philosophical problems. (shrink)
This paper focuses on two key issues in Nicholas Wolterstorff's Justice: Rights and Wrongs . It argues that Wolterstorff's theistic grounding of inherent rights is not successful. It also argues that Wolterstorff does not provide adequate criteria for determining what exactly these natural inherent rights are or criteria that can help us to evaluate competing and contradictory claims about these rights. However, most of Wolterstorff's book is not concerned with the theistic grounding of inherent rights. Instead, it is (...) devoted to a detailed and rigorous articulation of the meaning and defense of a theory of justice as consisting of inherent rights and with showing why this theory of justice is superior to the alternative right order theories that Wolterstorff criticizes. The paper concludes that these accomplishments are not diminished even if Wolterstorff has failed to provide us with a satisfactory theistic grounding of his theory. (shrink)
The Chinese room argument has presented a persistent headache in the search for Artificial Intelligence. Since it first appeared in the literature, various interpretations have been made, attempting to understand the problems posed by this thought experiment. Throughout all this time, some researchers in the Artificial Intelligence community have seen Symbol Grounding as proposed by Harnad as a solution to the Chinese room argument. The main thesis in this paper is that although related, these two issues present different problems (...) in the framework presented by Harnad himself. The work presented here attempts to shed some light on the relationship between John Searle’s intentionality notion and Harnad’s Symbol Grounding Problem. (shrink)
This article is the second step in our research into the Symbol Grounding Problem (SGP). In a previous work, we defined the main condition that must be satisfied by any strategy in order to provide a valid solution to the SGP, namely the zero semantic commitment condition (Z condition). We then showed that all the main strategies proposed so far fail to satisfy the Z condition, although they provide several important lessons to be followed by any new proposal. Here, (...) we develop a new solution of the SGP. It is called praxical in order to stress the key role played by the interactions between the agents and their environment. It is based on a new theory of meaning—Action-based Semantics (AbS)—and on a new kind of artificial agents, called two-machine artificial agents (AM²). Thanks to their architecture, AM2s implement AbS, and this allows them to ground their symbols semantically and to develop some fairly advanced semantic abilities, including the development of semantically grounded communication and the elaboration of representations, while still respecting the Z condition. (shrink)
In this paper we discuss an approach called grounded action cognition , which aims to provide a theory of the interdependencies between motor control and action-related cognitive processes, like perceiving an action or thinking about an action. The theory contrasts with traditional views in cognitive science in that it motivates an understanding of cognition as embodied , through application of Barsalou’s general idea of grounded cognition . To guide further research towards an appropriate theory of grounded action cognition we distinguish (...) between grounding qua acquisition and grounding qua constitution. On this basis, we distinguish three possible theoretical conceptions of grounded action cognition. In addition to these methodological and conceptual analyses, we draw on recent empirical evidence to motivate our inclination towards a particular theory. According to this theory certain representations are involved in action cognition and action perception that are not modality-specific as usually proposed by advocates of grounded cognition. Further, the evidence is in favor of our more specific theory stating that for some cognitive abilities, some motor abilites are constitutive. (shrink)
In this commentary on Harnad's "Grounding Symbols in the Analog World with Neural Nets: A Hybrid Model," the issues of symbol grounding and analog (continuous) computation are separated, it is argued that symbol graounding is as important an issue for analog cognitive models as for digital (discrete) models. The similarities and differences between continuous and discrete computation are discussed, as well as the grounding of continuous representations. A continuous analog of the Chinese Room is presented.
Transcendental philosophy has traditionally sought to provide non-contingent grounds for (a 'rational' account of) certain aspects of cognitive, moral, and social life. Further, it has made a claim to being 'ultimately' grounded in the sense that its account of experience should provide a non-dogmatic account of its own possibility. Most current approaches to transcendental philosophy seek to do justice to these twin aspects of the project by making an 'intersubjective turn', taking the structure of dialogue or social practice rather than (...) the 'I think' or consciousness as the locus of ultimate grounds. After examining the recent debate over transcendental arguments in order to illuminate the relations between two important versions of transcendental philosophy- the neo-Kantian version oriented toward justification of principles and the phenomenological version oriented toward clarification of meaning- this paper criticizes internally connected aspects of the intersubjective turn in K. O. Apel, Bernhard Waldenfels, and a recent 'practical' interpretation of Husserl. It is shown that the twin demands of the project can be redeemed only if ultimate grounding is seen first of all not as an epistemological or ontological question but (as Levinas suggests) as an ethical one. This requires modification of the appeal to intersubjectivity and a qualified return to the first-person perspective. (shrink)
In a recent book C.S. Jenkins proposes a theory of arithmetical knowledge which reconciles realism about arithmetic with the a priori character of our knowledge of it. Her basic idea is that arithmetical concepts are grounded in experience and it is through experience that they are connected to reality. I argue that the account fails because Jenkins’s central concept, the concept for grounding, is inadequate. Grounding as she defines it does not suffice for realism, and by revising the (...) definition we would abandon the idea that grounding is experiential. Her account falls prey to a problem of which Locke, whom she regards as a source of inspiration was aware and which he avoided by choosing anti-realism about mathematics. (shrink)
The concept of supervenience and a regimented concept of grounding are often taken to provide rival explications of pre-theoretical concepts of dependence and determination. Friends of grounding typically point out that supervenience claims do not entail corresponding grounding claims. Every fact supervenes on itself, but is not grounded in itself, and the fact that a thing exists supervenes on the fact that its singleton exists, but is not grounded in it. Common lore has it, though, that (...) class='Hi'>grounding claims do entail corresponding supervenience claims. In this article, I show that this assumption is problematic. On one way of understanding it, the corresponding supervenience claim is just an entailment claim under a different name. On another way of understanding it, the corresponding claim is a distinctive supervenience claim, but its specification gives rise to what I call the "reference type problem": to associate the classes of facts that are the relata of grounding with the types of facts that are the relata of supervenience. However it is understood, supervenience rules out prima facie possibilities: alien realizers, blockers, heterogeneous realizers, floaters, and heterogeneous blockers. Instead of being rival explications of one and the same pre-theoretical concept, grounding and supervenience may be complementary concepts capturing different aspects of determination and dependence. (shrink)
Recent Christian reflection on the relation of religion and ethics has focused a great deal on establishing a conception of ethics in which God plays a central role. The numerous attempts to respond to Plato's "Euthyphro Dilemma" and the various defenses of the divine command theory provide two examples of this phenomenon. But much of this ethical reflection has gone on in a way that is largely “defensive.” That is, those engaged in such discussions typically describe an ethical theory which (...) provides God with a central role, and then seek to deflect potentially fatal objections. While there is surely a place for this sort of defensive reflection, these discussions fail to address a deeper and perhaps more pressing question, namely: what positive reasons are there for preferring a religiously grounded ethical theory to the non-religious competitors. Are there argument or considerations, we might wonder, that can explain just why grounding an ethical theory in theism is superior to grounding it non-theistically? And if there are, what would such arguments or considerations look like? (shrink)
Kant's attempts to provide a foundation for morality are examined, with particular focus upon the fact of reason proof in the second Critique. The reconstructions proposed by Allison and Korsgaard are analysed in detail. Although analogous in many ways, they ultimately differ in their understanding of the relation between this proof and that presented in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. A synthesis of the two reconstructions is proposed which amounts to combining Korsgaard's awareness of the issue of agent-situatedness, (...) with Allison's emphasis upon the pivotal role of the notion of transcendental freedom. The reconstructed proof relies upon a teleological assumption about human agency, and thus does not provide an unconditional grounding for the moral law. After a brief examination of contemporary approaches to the grounding of a universal morality in the broadly Kantian tradition, the paper concludes with a suggestion as to how the value of freedom can form the core of an adequate response to reason's demand for such a ground. (shrink)
This essay gives an extensive treatment of Heidegger's confrontation (Auseinander-setzung) with Nietzsche' thought. It argues that Heidegger's confrontation entails situating what Heidegger calls Nietzsche's "transformed" understanding of the sensuous outside the metaphysics of both Plato and Platonism. The essay establishes, by the end of the second section, that Heidegger's confrontation with Nietzsche's thought culminates with the insight that for Nietzsche sensuousness is metaphysical. The third section of the essay takes as its point of departure Heidegger's intimation at the conclusion of (...) The Will to Power as Art, where he advances the inference that Nietzsche's new grounding of the metaphysical in sensuousness brings along with it "readiness for the gods." The essay offers explicit support for Heidegger's intimation through an analysis of three essential steps, outlined by Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy, in which sensuousness proves to be indicative of a way of access to the gods, the dual gods, Apollo and Dionysus, at the origin of Greek tragedy. (shrink)
This article reviews eight proposed strategies for solving the Symbol Grounding Problem (SGP), which was given its classic formulation in Harnad (1990). After a concise introduction, we provide an analysis of the requirement that must be satisfied by any hypothesis seeking to solve the SGP, the zero semantical commitment condition. We then use it to assess the eight strategies, which are organised into three main approaches: representationalism, semi-representationalism and non-representationalism. The conclusion is that all the strategies are semantically committed (...) and hence that none of them provides a valid solution to the SGP, which remains an open problem. (shrink)
While I agree in general with Stevan Harnad's symbol grounding proposal, I do not believe "transduction" (or "analog process") PER SE is useful in distinguishing between what might best be described as different "degrees" of grounding and, hence, for determining whether a particular system might be capable of cognition. By 'degrees of grounding' I mean whether the effects of grounding go "all the way through" or not. Why is transduction limited in this regard? Because transduction is (...) a physical process which does not speak to the issue of representation, and, therefore, does not explain HOW the informational aspects of signals impinging on sensory surfaces become embodied as symbols or HOW those symbols subsequently cause behavior, both of which, I believe, are important to grounding and to a system's cognitive capacity. Immunity to Searle's Chinese Room (CR) argument does not ensure that a particular system is cognitive, and whether or not a particular degree of groundedness enables a system to pass the Total Turing Test (TTT) may never be determined. (shrink)
Taking Per Martin-Löf’s constructive type theory as a starting-point a theory of assertion is developed, which is able to account for the epistemic aspects of the speech act of assertion, and in which it is shown that assertion is not a wide genus. From a constructivist point of view, one is entitled to assert, for example, that a proposition A is true, only if one has constructed a proof object a for A in an act of demonstration. One thereby has (...) grounded the assertion by an act of demonstration, and a grounding account of assertion therefore suits constructive type theory. Because the act of demonstration in which such a proof object is constructed results in knowledge that A is true, the constructivist account of assertion has to ward off some of the criticism directed against knowledge accounts of assertion. It is especially the internal relation between a judgement being grounded and its being known that makes it possible to do so. The grounding account of assertion can be considered as a justification account of assertion, but it also differs from justification accounts recently proposed, namely in the treatment of selfless assertions, that is, assertions which are grounded, but are not accompanied by belief. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine to what extent can a more or less uncontroversial list of human rights ground a liberal notion of toleration that would have as its object nonliberal states. Although it is sometimes taken for granted that respect for human rights should draw the limits of toleration, I argue that the Rawlsian argument for it does not fully work. More exactly, I defend the idea that, although he tries to warrant positive toleration for non-liberal peoples, the concept (...) of human rights can provide an argument only for a negative type of toleration. According to his reasoning, positive toleration would require an argument from the 'primacy of peoples', which unfortunately is implausible. Last but not least, I raise the question regarding the grounding of human rights as a vindicating tool for toleration. Here I argue that such an argument is necessary and propose one to the effect that human rights proper can justify toleration in the same way the harm principle does. Since the harm principle can justify non-interference only, the notion of human rights can ground a negative type of toleration. (shrink)
A method of reflective equilibrium is adumbrated and then used to test the adequacy of moral conceptions appealing to fundamental human rights against Nietzschean conceptions of morality which would reject such an appeal. There is an attempt here both to articulate and critically probe a distinctive moral methodology (the method of reflective equilibrium) and to examine skeptical challenges to a foundationalism which would ground morality in fundamental rights claims. I attempt a partial testing of such a moral methodology by examining (...) its ability to meet such skeptical challenges to the rational grounding of human rights, and I assess (and this is plainly a reciprocal process) the depth of such skeptical challenges by the ability of such challenges to survive such an application of a method of reflective equilibrium. If that method is applied with discrimination and understanding, is it sufficient to defuse skeptical challenges to the pervasive belief that either rationality or the very taking of the moral point of view requires the acceptance of the belief that the design of morally acceptable social institutions and practices must be such that they aim at achieving a state of affairs in which all human beings are to be afforded equal consideration? Can a method of reflective equilibrium establish that a good society must embody such a commitment to an equality of human rights? (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga’s reply to the grounding objection to propositions now called counterfactuals of freedom, originally made by Robert Adams, can be interpretedas follows: if, for the sake of argument, we require counterfactuals of freedom to be grounded in something that makes them true, we can simply (and trivially) say that there are corresponding counterfactual facts that ground them. I argue that such facts, together with the facts about the situations in which moral agents find themselves, would ontologically determine that (...) the agents perform their acts, rendering these acts unfree. Thus, I maintain that, contrary to Plantinga’s intent, allowing the grounding facts into the divine creation situation entails the falsity of Molinism. If there is no other way that God can know what free creatures would do than through counterfactuals of freedom, divine foreknowledge of human acts is inconsistent with human freedom and moral responsibility. (shrink)
1.1 The predominant approach to cognitive modeling is still what has come to be called "computationalism" (Dietrich 1990, Harnad 1990b), the hypothesis that cognition is computation. The more recent rival approach is "connectionism" (Hanson & Burr 1990, McClelland & Rumelhart 1986), the hypothesis that cognition is a dynamic pattern of connections and activations in a "neural net." Are computationalism and connectionism really deeply different from one another, and if so, should they compete for cognitive hegemony, or should they collaborate? These (...) questions will be addressed here, in the context of an obstacle that is faced by computationalism (as well as by connectionism if it is either computational or seeks cognitive hegemony on its own): The symbol grounding problem (Harnad 1990). (shrink)
Grounding Concepts tackles the issue of arithmetical knowledge, developing a new position which respects three intuitions which have appeared impossible to satisfy simultaneously: a priorism, mind-independence realism, and empiricism. -/- Drawing on a wide range of philosophical influences, but avoiding unnecessary technicality, a view is developed whereby arithmetic can be known through the examination of empirically grounded concepts. These are concepts which, owing to their relationship to sensory input, are non-accidentally accurate representations of the mind-independent world. Examination of such (...) concepts is an armchair activity, but enables us to recover information which has been encoded in the way our concepts represent. Emphasis on the key role of the senses in securing this coding relationship means that the view respects empiricism, but without undermining the mind-independence of arithmetic or the fact that it is knowable by means of a special armchair method called conceptual examination. -/- A wealth of related issues are covered during the course of the book, including definitions of realism, conditions on knowledge, the problems with extant empiricist approaches to the a priori, mathematical explanation, mathematical indispensability, pragmatism, conventionalism, empiricist criteria for meaningfulness, epistemic externalism and foundationalism. The discussion encompasses themes from the work of Locke, Kant, Ayer, Wittgenstein, Quine, McDowell, Field, Peacocke, Boghossian, and many others. (shrink)
Cognitive theories based on a fixed feature set suffer from frame and symbol grounding problems. Flexible features and other empirically acquired constraints (e.g., analog-to-analog mappings) provide a framework for letting extrinsic relations influence symbol manipulation. By offering a biologically plausible basis for feature learning, nonorthogonal multiresolution analysis and dimensionality reduction, informed by functional constraints, may contribute to a solution to the symbol grounding problem.
Recent perspectival interpretations of Kant suggest a way of relating his epistemology to empirical science that makes it plausible to regard Einstein’stheory of relativity as having a Kantian grounding. This first of two articles exploring this topic focuses on how the foregoing hypothesis accounts for variousresonances between Kant’s philosophy and Einstein’s science. The great attention young Einstein paid to Kant in his early intellectual development demonstrates the plausibility of this hypothesis, while certain features of Einstein’s cultural-political context account for (...) his reluctance to acknowledge Kant’s influence, even though contemporary philosophers who regarded themselves as Kantians urged him to do so. The sequel argues that this Kantian grounding probably had a formative influence not only on Einstein’s discovery of the theory of relativity and his view of the nature of science, but also on his quasi-mystical, religious disposition. (shrink)
The issue of symbol grounding is not essentially different in analog and digital computation. The principal difference between the two is that in analog computers continuous variables change continuously, whereas in digital computers discrete variables change in discrete steps (at the relevant level of analysis). Interpretations are imposed on analog computations just as on digital computations: by attaching meanings to the variables and the processes defined over them. As Harnad (2001) claims, states acquire intrinsic meaning through their relation to (...) the real (physical) environment, for example, through transduction. However, this is independent of the question of the continuity or discreteness of the variables or the transduction processes. (shrink)
In this paper we consider the importance of using a humanoid physical form for a certain proposed kind of robotics, that of theory grounding. Theory grounding involves grounding the theory skills and knowledge of an embodied artificially intelligent (AI) system by developing theory skills and knowledge from the bottom up. Theory grounding can potentially occur in a variety of domains, and the particular domain considered here is that of language. Language is taken (...) to be another problem space in which a system can explore and discover solutions. We argue that because theory grounding necessitates robots experiencing domain information, certain behavioral-form aspects, such as abilities to socially smile, point, follow gaze, and generate manual gestures, are necessary for robots grounding a humanoid theory of language. (shrink)
This paper defends a conceptualist answer to the question how objects come by their modal properties. It isolates the controversial metaphysical assumptions that are needed to get ontological conceptualism off the ground, outlines the conceptualist answer to the question and shows that conceptualism is not in as bad a shape as some critics have maintained.
Several philosophers of science and metaphysicians claim that the dispositional properties of fundamental particles, such as the mass, charge, and spin of electrons, are ungrounded in any further properties. It is assumed by those making this argument that such properties are intrinsic, and thus if they are grounded at all they must be grounded intrinsically. However, this paper advances an argument, with one empirical premise and one metaphysical premise, for the claim that mass is extrinsically grounded and is thus an (...) extrinsic disposition. Although the argument concerns mass characterized as a disposition, it applies equally well whether mass is a categorical or dispositional property; however, the dispositional nature of mass is relevant to some important objections and implications discussed. (shrink)
What language allows us to do is to "steal" categories quickly and effortlessly through hearsay instead of having to earn them the hard way, through risky and time-consuming sensorimotor "toil" (trial-and-error learning, guided by corrective feedback from the consequences of miscategorisation). To make such linguistic "theft" possible, however, some, at least, of the denoting symbols of language must first be grounded in categories that have been earned through sensorimotor toil (or else in categories that have already been "prepared" for us (...) through Darwinian theft by the genes of our ancestors); it cannot be linguistic theft all the way down. The symbols that denote categories must be grounded in the capacity to sort, label and interact with the proximal sensorimotor projections of their distal category-members in a way that coheres systematically with their semantic interpretations, both for individual symbols, and for symbols strung together to express truth-value-bearing propositions. (shrink)
The language of rights is increasingly used to regulate access to health care and allocation of resources in the health care field. The right to health has been grounded on different theories of justice. Scholars within the liberal tradition have grounded the right to health care on Rawls's two principles of justice. Thus, the right to health care has been justified as being one of the basic liberties, as enabling equality of opportunity, or as being justified by the maximin principle. (...) In this article, Filc analyzes—from a radical egalitarian standpoint—the limitations of the different attempts to ground an equal right to health on Rawls's theory of justice and offers a first approximation to a radical egalitarian formulation of the right to health. (shrink)
Symbols should be grounded, as has been argued before. But we insist that they should be grounded not only in subsymbolic activities, but also in the interaction between the agent and the world. The point is that concepts are not formed in isolation (from the world), in abstraction, or "objectively." They are formed in relation to the experience of agents, through their perceptual/motor apparatuses, in their world and linked to their goals and actions. This paper takes a detailed look at (...) this relatively old issue, with a new perspective, aided by our work of computational cognitive model development. To further our understanding, we also go back in time to link up with earlier philosophical theories related to this issue. The result is an account that extends from computational mechanisms to philosophical abstractions. (shrink)
This paper examines the idea of human rights, and how they should be justified. It begins by reviewing Peter Jones?s claim that the purpose of human rights is to allow people from different cultural backgrounds to live together as equals, and suggests that this by itself provides too slender a basis. Instead it proposes that human rights should be grounded on human needs. Three difficulties with this proposal are considered. The first is the problem of whether needs are sufficiently objective (...) for this purpose, to which it responds by drawing a distinction between human needs proper and societal needs. The second is the problem of overshoot: human needs are more expansive than human rights. It responds to this by arguing that where needs conflict, we make trade-offs before specifying the optimum set of human rights. The third is the problem of undershoot: needs cannot be used to ground civil and political rights. Here it suggests that some of these rights can be grounded directly in needs, others can be justified instrumentally, and yet others grounded in the human need for recognition. Finally the paper returns to Jones, and asks which approach to human rights is better able to justify them within both liberal and non-liberal cultures. (shrink)
In recent years there has been an increasing awareness that a comprehensive understanding of language, cognitive and affective processes, and social and interpersonal phenomena cannot be achieved without understanding the ways these processes are grounded in bodily states. The term ‘embodiment’ captures the common denominator of these developments, which come from several disciplinary perspectives ranging from neuroscience, cognitive science, social psychology, and affective sciences. For the first time, this volume brings together these varied developments under one umbrella and furnishes a (...) comprehensive overview of this intellectual movement in the cognitive-behavioral sciences. (shrink)
Metatheoretical codifications of the sociological writings of George H. Mead, Jose Ortega y Gasset, and Alfred Schutz highlight the importance of the idea of life and of a commitment to a realist perspective. The authors turn common concern with the life concept in three directions: evolutionary emergence, historical rationality, and phenomenological analysis. In spite of differences, these directions share an empirically grounded starting point in the situated individual and its environment, and end with suggestions for a universalist rationality. Preliminary metatheoretical (...) principles from these authors offer a start toward a vital realist sociology fitted to the universal conditions of social life. (shrink)
While poststructuralist feminist theorists have clarified our understanding of the gendered subject as produced through a matrix of language, culture, and psycho-sexual affects, they have found agency difficult to ground. I argue that this is because in these theories the body has served primarily as an inscribed surface. In response to this surface body, particular to this age, I have turned to Merleau-Ponty's concept of depth which allows us to theorize the agency crucial to feminist politics. While the poststructuralists' rejection (...) of depth is largely due to its roots in Cartesian rationality, depth is much more than this. Rather than allowing for the impossibility of political action, depth means that as bodily moving and acting subjects we are part of Being, and thus part of the questions raised in this age, even if it is a mark of this age that this tends to be forgotten. (shrink)
Harnad's main argument can be roughly summarised as follows: due to Searle's Chinese Room argument, symbol systems by themselves are insufficient to exhibit cognition, because the symbols are not grounded in the real world, hence without meaning. However, a symbol system that is connected to the real world through transducers receiving sensory data, with neural nets translating these data into sensory categories, would not be subject to the Chinese Room argument. Harnad's article is not only the starting point for the (...) present debate, but is also a contribution to a longlasting discussion about such questions as: Can a computer think? If yes, would this be solely by virtue of its program? Is the Turing Test appropriate for deciding whether a computer thinks? (shrink)
In this paper we examine attempts to reframe the ethics of nature-society relations. We trace a postmodern turn which reflects a distrust of overarching moral codes and narratives and points towards a more nuanced understanding of how personal moral impulses are embedded within, and inter-subjectively constituted by, contextual configurations of self and other. We also trace an ethical turn which reflects a critique of anthropocentrism and points towards moves to non-anthropocentric frames in which the othernesses and ethics of difference are (...) shaped by an acknowledgement that human and non-human agency are relationally bound and assembled in networks and places. These turns suggest the need for a more sensitive 'ethical mindfulness' which is grounded in particular space-time contexts. Throughout the paper we draw on research we have conducted on the interconnections between trees and places, and in particular we describe three specific tree-places - an urban square, an urban cemetery and an orchard - which provide grounded contexts of encounter and potential for ethical mindedness. We conclude that notions of intrinsicality, otherness, enchantment and hybridity are helpful in configuring the search for grounded ethical mindfulness, both for and in nature. (shrink)
A common objection to the Molinist account of divine providence states that counterfactuals of creaturely freedom (CCFs) lack grounds. Some Molinists appeal to brute counterfactual facts about the subject of the CCF in order to ground CCFs. Others argue that CCFs are grounded by the subject's actions in nearby worlds. In this article, I argue that Open Theism's account of divine providence employs would-probably conditionals that are most plausibly grounded by either brute facts about the subject of these conditionals or (...) non-actual entities. As a result, Open Theism's revision of the traditional notion of divine providence is unmotivated. The Molinist can ground CCFs just as easily as the Openist can ground would-probably conditionals but the Molinist has the advantage of maintaining a robust account of divine providence. (shrink)
Mark Johnson’s work The Meaning of the Body presents John Dewey’s pragmatism and pragmatist aesthetics as the forerunners of the anti-Cartesian embodied enactive approach to human experience and meaning. He rejects the Kantian noncognitive character of aesthetics and emphasizes that aesthetics is the study of the human capacity to experience the bodily conditions of meaning constitution that grows from our bodily conditions of life. Using Mark Johnson’s view as a starting-point, this paper offers the beginning of an enactive approach to (...) aesthetic preference contributing to bringing human aesthetic behavior research closer to the enactive approach to human experience. Following enactive studies on bodily sense-making and embodied emotions, I identify the bodily conditions of meaning constitution in which aesthetic preference is grounded with the subject’s self-regulatory visceral embodied constitution of viable degrees of value of the environmental factors according to her bodily structure. Unlike mainstream aesthetic preference research in empirical aesthetics, I claim that the subject’s aesthetic preference constitution requires the lived experience of the bodily conditions of meaning constitution through the conscious experience of the subjectively aroused lived body. The implausibility of the mind/body dichotomy of current aesthetic preference research is highlighted. (shrink)
After people learn to sort objects into categories they see them differently. Members of the same category look more alike and members of different categories look more different. This phenomenon of within-category compression and between-category separation in similarity space is called categorical perception (CP). It is exhibited by human subjects, animals and neural net models. In backpropagation nets trained first to auto-associate 12 stimuli varying along a onedimensional continuum and then to sort them into 3 categories, CP arises as a (...) natural side-effect because of four factors: (1) Maximal interstimulus separation in hidden-unit space during autoassociation learning, (2) movement toward linear separability during categorization learning, (3) inverse-distance repulsive force exerted by the between-category boundary, and (4) the modulating effects of input iconicity, especially in interpolating CP to untrained regions of the continuum. Once similarity space has been "warped" in this way, the compressed and separated "chunks" have symbolic labels which could then be combined into symbol strings that constitute propositions about objects. The meanings of such symbolic representations would be "grounded" in the system's capacity to pick out from their sensory projections the object categories that the propositions were about. (shrink)
Stakeholder theory, as a method of management based on morals and behavior, must be grounded by a theory of ethics. However, traditional ethics of justice and rights cannot completely ground the theory. Following and expanding on the work of Wicks, Gilbert, and Freeman (1994), we believe that feminist ethics, invoking principles of caring, provides the missing element that allows moral theory to ground the stakeholder approach to management. Examples are given to support the suggested general principle for making business decisions (...) under feminist moral theory. (shrink)
Some of the most eminent and enduring philosophical questions concern matters of priority: what is prior to what? What 'grounds' what? Is, for instance, matter prior to mind? Recently, a vivid debate has arisen about how such questions have to be understood. Can the relevant notion or notions of priority be spelled out? And how do they relate to other metaphysical notions, such as modality, truth-making or essence? This volume of new essays, by leading figures in contemporary metaphysics, is the (...) first to address and investigate the metaphysical idea that certain facts are grounded in other facts. An introduction introduces and surveys the debate, examining its history as well as its central systematic aspects. The volume will be of wide interest to students and scholars of metaphysics. (shrink)
Pragmatism of Peirce and James overcomed traditional dualism between mind and matter, sense data and conceptions, and the severe differentiation between philosophy, science, art and religion. They made three types of synthesis- epistemological, metaphysical and religious, based on relations between belief, thought, and action. Within the framework of these the problem of relation between science and religion is solved. Peirce founded science on essentially religious metaphysics in such context in which knowledge and thought are grounded and become meaningful. Science exists (...) as a part of evolution of the universe not as end in itself. Without solving the metaphysical problems scientific knowledge is fallible and incomplete. Religious belief is another sort of knowledge for the evolution and in the future it would converge with science. -/- . (shrink)
This essay interprets Hölderlin’s prose fragment On Religion as an extension of and response to The Oldest System Program of German Idealism. After a brief discussion of the historical reasons for considering these fragments in this relation, I argue that On Religion demonstrates Hölderlin’s sympathy to the goals of the System Program, but that it also provides a more satisfactory account of how Hölderlin planned to make good on the goals presented in the System Program. I argue that On Religion (...) develops a conception of freedom that can only be ‘grounded’ through mythic, poetic discourse. I then explore the political implications of this point and claim that On Religion considers the creation of mythology as a public, communal event, in which the poet plays the role of giving measure and form, but not content, to the creation of mythology. (shrink)
Given their physical realization, what causal work is left for functional properties to do? Humean solutions to the exclusion problem (e.g. overdetermination and difference-making) typically appeal to counterfactual and/or nomic relations between functional property-instances and behavioural effects, tacitly assuming that such relations suffice for causal work. Clarification of the notion of causal work, I argue, shows not only that such solutions don't work, but also reveals a novel solution to the exclusion problem based on the relations between dispositional properties at (...) different levels of mechanism, which involves three central claims: (i) the causal work of properties consists in grounding dispositions, (ii) functional properties are dispositions, and (iii) the dispositions of mechanisms are grounded in the dispositions of their components. Treating functional mental properties as dispositions of components in psychological mechanisms, I argue that such properties do the causal work of grounding agent-level dispositions. These dispositions, while ultimately grounded in the physical realizers of mental properties, are indirectly so grounded, through a hierarchy of grounding relations that extends upwards, of necessity, through the mental domain. (shrink)
Aristotle talks about 'the first philosophy' throughout the Metaphysics – and it is metaphysics that Aristotle considers to be the first philosophy – but he never makes it entirely clear what first philosophy consists of. What he does make clear is that the first philosophy is not to be understood as a collection of topics that should be studied in advance of any other topics. In fact, Aristotle seems to have thought that the topics of Metaphysics are to be studied (...) after those in Physics. In what sense could metaphysics be the first philosophy in the context of contemporary metaphysics? This is the question examined in this essay. Contemporary topics such as fundamentality, grounding, and ontological dependence are considered as possible ways to understand the idea of first philosophy, but I will argue that the best way to understand it is in terms of essence. (shrink)
This essay examines arguments offered in support of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) by Leibniz and his followers as well as Hume's critique of the PSR. It is shown that Leibniz has a defensible argument for the PSR, whereas the arguments of his self-proclaimed followers are weak. Thus, Hume's challenge is met by Leibniz, by Wolff and Baumgarten not so much.
My goal in this article is to provide support for the claim that moral flaws can be detrimental to an artwork's aesthetic value. I argue that moral flaws can become aesthetic flaws when they defeat the operation of good-making aesthetic properties. I do not defend a new theory of aesthetic properties or aesthetic value; instead, I attempt to show that on both the response-dependence and the supervenience account of aesthetic properties, moral flaws with an artwork are relevant to what aesthetic (...) properties obtain. I provide a description of the main features of both theories of aesthetic properties, and then explain how moral flaws can become aesthetic flaws on either account. I address several objections to moralism about art including the "moralistic fallacy.". (shrink)
I will say something on two or three related but distinct topics. First, something on the grounding of normative beliefs, a topic – as I see it – in moral epistemology, and then after a brief remark on explanation, something against a certain understanding of basic principles. My observations were prompted by reflection on Jerry’s desire to rescue justice from the facts.
The usual way to try to ground knowing according to contemporary theory of knowledge is: We know something if (1) it’s true, (2) we believe it, and (3) we believe it for the “right” reasons. Floridi proposes a better way. His grounding is based partly on probability theory, and partly on a question/answer network of verbal and behavioural interactions evolving in time. This is rather like modeling the data-exchange between a data-seeker who needs to know which button to press (...) on a food-dispenser and a data-knower who already knows the correct number. The success criterion, hence the grounding, is whether the seeker’s probability of lunch is indeed increasing (hence uncertainty is decreasing) as a result of the interaction. Floridi also suggests that his philosophy of information casts some light on the problem of consciousness. I’m not so sure. (shrink)
It is always great good fortune for an author to have his writings meet with a receptive circle of readers who take them up in their own work and clarify them further. Indeed, it may even be the secret of all theoretical productivity that one reaches an opportune point in one's own creative process when others' queries, suggestions, and criticisms give one no peace, until one has been forced to come up with new answers and solutions. The four essays collected (...) here, in any event, jointly represent an ideal form of such a challenge: I am now compelled to make further theoretical developments and clarifications that lead me to a whole new stage of my own endeavours, well beyond what I initially had in mind in The Struggle for Recognition . For this reason, I will not concentrate here on interpretative issues regarding my earlier work but will instead take up the problems and challenges that have occasioned several revisions on my part. For this reason, it makes sense to begin (in section I) with the points that Carl-Göran Heidegren makes, in terms of a history of social theory, regarding my proposed theory of recognition. The issues that still motivate me today can best be expressed via an engagement with the conscientious interpretations he offers. The core of this rejoinder is based on Heikki Ikäheimo's and Arto Laitinen's suggestions and corrections, which they have used to develop my initial approach further, to the point where the theoretical outlines of a precise and general concept of recognition come into view. It is primarily these two contributions that helped me develop a productive elaboration of my originally vague intuitions (section II). By way of conclusion (in section III), I take up the penetrating questions raised by Antti Kauppinen regarding the use of the concept of recognition in the broader context of social criticism; he has compelled me to take on several extremely helpful clarifications, and they give me the opportunity, in conclusion, to summarize my overarching intentions. (shrink)
My response addresses general commentary themes such as my neglect of the forebrain contribution to human consciousness, the bearing of blindsight on consciousness theory, the definition of wakefulness, the significance of emotion and pain perception for consciousness theory, and concerns regarding remnant cortex in children with hydranencephaly. Further specific topics, such as phenomenal and phylogenetic aspects of mesodiencephalic-thalamocortical relations, are also discussed. (Published Online May 1 2007).
We propose a view of embodied representations that is alternative to both symbolic/linguistic approaches and purely sensorimotor views of cognition, and can account for procedural and declarative knowledge manipulation. In accordance with recent evidence in cognitive neuroscience and psychology, we argue that anticipatory and simulative mechanisms, which arose during evolution for action control and not for cognition, determined the first form of representational content and were exapted for increasingly sophisticated cognitive uses. In particular, procedural and declarative forms of knowledge can (...) be explained, respectively, in terms of on-line sensorimotor anticipation and off-line simulations of potential actions, which can give access to tacit knowledge and make it explicit. That is, mechanisms that evolved for the on-line prediction of the consequences of one's own actions (i.e. forward models) determine a (procedural) form of representation, and became exapted for off-line use. They can therefore be used to produce (declarative) knowledge of the world, by running a simulation of the action that would produce the relevant information. We conclude by discussing how embodied representations afford a form of internal manipulation that can be described as internalized situated action. (shrink)
C. S. Jenkins has recently proposed an account of arithmetical knowledge designed to be realist, empiricist, and apriorist: realist in that what’s the case in arithmetic doesn’t rely on us being any particular way; empiricist in that arithmetic knowledge crucially depends on the senses; and apriorist in that it accommodates the time-honored judgment that there is something special about arithmetical knowledge, something we have historically labeled with ‘a priori’. I’m here concerned with the prospects for extending Jenkins’s account beyond arithmetic—in (...) particular, to set theory. After setting out the central elements of Jenkins’s account and entertaining challenges to extending it to set theory, I conclude that a satisfactory such extension is unlikely. (shrink)
Given the centrality of arguments from vicious infinite regress to our philosophical reasoning, it is little wonder that they should also appear on the catalogue of arguments offered in defense of theses that pertain to the fundamental structure of reality. In particular, the metaphysical foundationalist will argue that, on pain of vicious infinite regress, there must be something fundamental. But why think that infinite regresses of grounds are vicious? I explore existing proposed accounts of viciousness cast in terms of contradictions, (...) dependence, failed reductive theories and parsimony. I argue that no one of these accounts adequately captures the conditions under which an infinite regress - any infinite regress - is vicious as opposed to benign. In their place, I suggest an account of viciousness in terms of explanatory failure. If this account is correct, infinite grounding regresses are not necessarily vicious; and we must be much more careful employing such arguments to the conclusion that there has to be something fundamental. (shrink)
In this article I seek to explain Hegel’s significance to contemporary meta-ethics, in particular to Kantian constructivism. I argue that in the master–slave dialectic in the Phenomenology of Spirit , Hegel shows that self-consciousness and intersubjectivity arise at the same time. This point, I argue, shows that there is no problem with taking other people’s reasons to motivate us since reflection on our aims is necessarily also reflection on the needs of those around us. I further explore Hegel’s contribution to (...) the debate about internal and external reasons. I end by arguing that we should understand reasons as historically constructed in the sense that who counts as an intrinsic bearer of value changes over time. I thus argue that the struggle for recognition is in fact the beginning of the long march toward the idea of recognition and the Kantian kingdom of ends. This march, however, is driven by the need to overcome injustice as it is instantiated at the beginning of history by the master’s absolute domination of the slave. (shrink)
Recent scholarship (Goodwin & Darley, 2008) on the meta-ethical debate between objectivism and relativism has found people to be mixed: they are objectivists about some issues, but relativists about others. The studies discussed here sought to explore this further. Study 1 explored whether giving people the ability to identify moral issues for themselves would reveal them to be more globally objectivist. Study 2 explored people's meta-ethical commitments more deeply, asking them to provide verbal explanations for their judgments. This revealed that (...) while people think they are relativists, this may not always be the case. The explanations people gave were sometimes rated by outside (blind) coders as being objective, even when given a relativist response. Nonetheless, people remained meta-ethical pluralists. Why this might be is discussed. (shrink)
Focusing on the mirror system and imitation, I examine the role of metaphor and projection in evolutionary neurolinguistics. I suggest that the key to language evolution in hominid might be an ability to project one's thoughts and feelings onto another agent or object, to see and feel things from another perspective, and to be able to empathize with another agent.
This paper defends a social practiceconception of moral rights possession againstwhat many of its critics take to be a decisiveobjection, namely that such a conceptionprevents us from using moral rights forcritical purposes.
Scholars studying the origins and evolution of language are also interested in the general issue of the evolution of cognition. Language is not an isolated capability of the individual, but has intrinsic relationships with many other behavioral, cognitive, and social abilities. By understanding the mechanisms underlying the evolution of linguistic abilities, it is possible to understand the evolution of cognitive abilities. Cognitivism, one of the current approaches in psychology and cognitive science, proposes that symbol systems capture mental phenomena, and attributes (...) cognitive validity to them. Therefore, in the same way that language is considered the prototype of cognitive abilities, a symbol system has become the prototype for studying language and cognitive systems. Symbol systems are advantageous as they are easily studied through computer simulation (a computer program is a symbol system itself), and this is why language is often studied using computational models. (shrink)
Some computer programs are expert at some games. Other programs can recognize some words. Yet other programs are highly competent at solving certain technical problems. However, each of those programs is specialized, and no existing program today shows the common sense or resourcefulness of a typical two-year-old child—and certainly, no program can yet understand a typical sentence from a child’s first-grade storybook. Nor can any program today can look around a room and then identify the things that meet its eyes.