Though Nietzsche traditionally often used to be interpreted as a nihilist, a range of possible metaethical interpretations, including varieties of realism, subjectivism and fictionalism, have emerged in the secondary literature. Recently the possibility that Nietzsche is a non-cognitivist has been broached. If one sees Hume as a central non-cognitivist figure, as recent non-cognitivists such as Simon Blackburn have, then the similarities between Nietzsche and Hume can make this reading seem plausible. This paper assesses the general plausibility of interpreting Nietzsche as (...) a non-cognitivist. Non-cognitivism can mean various things and so some attempt is made to lay out the various kinds of non-cognitivism one might ascribe to Nietzsche. As part of the overall assessment of the plausibility of a non-cognitivist Nietzsche, the paper considers in detail the arguments of Maudemarie Clark and David Dudrick on behalf of a non-cognitivist reading. It argues, however, that there is insufficient evidence to justify the interpretation and that the analogy to Hume is unhelpful. (shrink)
Non-cognitivists claim that thick concepts can be disentangled into distinct descriptive and evaluative components and that since thick concepts have descriptive shape they can be mastered independently of evaluation. In Non-Cognitivism and Rule-Following, John McDowell uses Wittgenstein’s rule-following considerations to show that such a non-cognitivist view is untenable. In this paper I do several things. I describe the non-cognitivist position in its various forms and explain its driving motivations. I then explain McDowell’s argument against non-cognitivism and the Wittgensteinian (...) considerations upon which it relies, because this has been sufficiently misunderstood by critics and rarely articulated by commentators. After clarifying McDowell’s argument against non-cognitivism, I extend the analysis to show that commentators of McDowell have failed to appreciate his argument and that critical responses have been weak. I argue against three challenges posed to McDowell, and show that the case of thick concepts should lead us to reject non-cognitivism. (shrink)
Moral non-cognitivists hope to explain the nature of moral agreement and disagreement as agreement and disagreement in non-cognitive attitudes. In doing so, they take on the task of identifying the relevant attitudes, distinguishing the non-cognitive attitudes corresponding to judgments of moral wrongness, for example from attitudes involved in aesthetic disapproval or the sports fan’s disapproval of her team’s performance. We begin this paper by showing that there is a simple recipe for generating apparent counterexamples to any informative specification of the (...) moral attitudes. This may appear to be a lethal objection to non-cognitivism, but a similar recipe challenges attempts by non-cognitivism’s competitors to specify the conditions underwriting the contrast between genuine and merely apparent moral disagreement. Because of its generality, this specification problem requires a systematic response, which, we argue, is most easily available for the non-cognitivist. Building on premisses congenial to the non-cognitivist tradition, we make the following claims: (1) In paradigmatic cases, wrongness-judgements constitute a certain complex but functionally unified state, and paradigmatic wrongness-judgments form a functional kind, preserved by homeostatic mechanisms. (2) Because of the practical function of such judgements, we should expect judges’ intuitive understanding of agreement and disagreement to be accommodating, treating states departing from the paradigm in various ways as wrongness-judgements. (3) This explains the intuitive judgements required by the counterexample-generating recipe, and more generally why various kinds of amoralists are seen as making genuine wrongness-judgements. (shrink)
This paper investigates the linguistic basis for moral non-cognitivism, the view that sentences containing moral predicates do not have truth conditions. It offers a new argument against this view by pointing out that the view is incompatible with our best empirical theories about the grammatical encoding of illocutionary force potentials. Given that my arguments are based on very general assumptions about the relations between the grammar of natural languages and a sentence's illocutionary function, my arguments are broader in scope (...) than the familiar semantic objections to non-cognitivism relating to the so-called Frege-Geach problem: even if a solution to the Frege-Geach problem has been found, my arguments still stand. (shrink)
Even if non-cognitivists about some subject-matter can meet Geach’s challenge to explain how there can be valid implications involving sentences which express non-cognitive attitudes, they face a further problem. I argue that a non-cognitivist cannot explain how, given a valid argument whose conclusion expresses a belief and at least one of whose premises expresses a non-cognitive attitude, it could be reasonable to infer the conclusion from the premises.
In sum, the non-cognitivist account of motivation is far from unproblematic. The non-cognitivist has trouble telling us what moral attitudes are in a way that is consistent with the phenomenon of variable motivation. Given that the cognitivist has an easy explanation of variable motivation, it seems that cognitivism is preferable to non-cognitivism on the score of motivation, which is a reversal of the way the issue is usually perceived.
In recent years it has become more and more difficult to distinguish between metaethical cognitivism and non-cognitivism. For example, proponents of the minimalist theory of truth hold that moral claims need not express beliefs in order to be (minimally) truth-apt, and yet some of these proponents still reject the traditional cognitivist analysis of moral language and thought. Thus, the dispute in metaethics between cognitivists and non-cognitivists has come to be seen as a dispute over the correct way to characterize (...) our psychology: are moral judgments beliefs, or a kind of pro-attitude? In this paper, I argue that this distinction, too, is difficult to maintain in the light of a reasonable skepticism about folk psychology. I conclude by suggesting some new possibilities for the analysis of moral language that look beyond this distinction. I begin by briefly reviewing some contemporary positions in metaethics on cognitivism and non-cognitivism, that are intended to emphasize the supposed psychological differences between the two views. I show that the appearance of a clear difference between these views depends on one's having a very strong commitment to the context-independence and completeness of certain concepts of folk psychology. I then argue for a moderate skepticism about folk psychology. I conclude that folk concepts like ?belief? are not sufficiently well-defined to settle this metaethical dispute. (shrink)
Non-cognitivism might seem to offer a plausible account of evaluative judgments, at least on the assumption that there is a satisfactory solution to the Frege–Geach problem. However, Cian Dorr has argued that non-cognitivism remains implausible even assuming that the Frege–Geach problem can be solved, on the grounds that non-cognitivism still has to classify some paradigmatically rational inferences as irrational. Dorr’s argument is ingenious and at first glance seems decisive. However, in this paper I will show that Dorr’s (...) argument equivocates between two different notions of evidence , and that once this equivocation is noted there is no reason to doubt that non-cognitivism is consistent with the rationality of such inferences, at least if it is assumed that the Frege–Geach problem can be solved. In particular, I will show that non-cognitivists can endorse the same explanation of the rationality of such inferences that cognitivists should endorse, and that there is thus no need for non-cognitivists to offer any sort of idiosyncratic account of the epistemology of such cases, in contrast to what other commentators on Dorr’s argument have thought. (shrink)
Frank Snare had a puzzle. He construed Hume as a non-cognitivist, indeed, as the non-cognitivist, the fount and origin of contemporary non-cognitivism. Taking Hume to be a non-cognitivist, Snare devoted a great deal of time and effort to the Motivation Argument, or as he called it, the Influence Argument, which he took to be the chief weapon in Hume.
The later Wittgenstein advanced a revolutionary but puzzling conception of how philosophy ought to be practised: Philosophical problems are not to be coped with by establishing substantive claims or devising explanations or theories. Instead, philosophical questions ought to be treated ‘like an illness’. Even though this ‘non-cognitivism’ about philosophy has become a focus of debate, the specifically ‘therapeutic’ aims and ‘non-theoretical’ methods constitutive of it remain ill understood. They are motivated by Wittgenstein’s view that the problems he addresses result (...) from misinterpretation, driven by ‘urges to misunderstand’. The present paper clarifies this neglected concept and analyses how such ‘urges’ give rise to pseudo-problems of one particular, hitherto little understood, kind. This will reveal ‘therapeutic’ aims reasonable and ‘non-theoretical’ methods necessary, in one clearly delineated and important part of philosophy. I.e.: By developing a novel account of nature and genesis of one important class of philosophical problems, the paper explains and vindicates a revolutionary reorientation of philosophical work, at the level of both aims and methods. (shrink)
This essay offers a defence of the non-cognitivist approach to the interpretation of moral judgments as disguised imperatives corresponding to social rules. It addresses the body of criticism that faced R. M. Hare, and that currently faces moral anti-realists, on two levels, by providing a full semantic analysis of evaluative judgments and by arguing that anti-realism is compatible with moral aspiration despite the non-existence of obligations as the externalist imagines them. A moral judgment consists of separate descriptive and prescriptive components (...) and is to be understood as a declarative statement prefaced by an 'ideality operator'. Moral beliefs are genuinely representational, but their truth conditions can only be stated with reference to imaginary ideal worlds. Moral judgments are neither confirmed nor verified, but alternative moral positions are preferentially endorsed and adopted by individual agents on the basis of their perceived all-things-considered optimality. High aspiration moralities are normally very costly to agents in terms of their prudential and aesthetic interests, but they are theoretically as eligible as the adoption of other, less demanding sets of rules. (shrink)
Abstracts The aim of the paper is to propose an alternative model to realist and non-cognitive explanations of the rule-guided use of thick ethical concepts and to examine the implications that may be drawn from this and similar cases for our general understanding of rule-following and the relation between criteria of application, truth and correctness. It addresses McDowell’s non-cognitivism critique and challenges his defence of the entanglement thesis for thick ethical concepts. Contrary to non-cognitivists, however, I propose to view (...) the relation between the two terms of the entanglement as resulting from the satisfaction of a previously applied moral function. This is what I call a “Three-Fold Model”. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine the presumption that Mill endorses a form of metaethical non-cognitivism. I argue that the evidence traditionally cited for this interpretation is not convincing, and suggest that we should instead remain open to a cognitivist reading. I begin, in Section I, by laying out the ‘received view’ of Mill on the status of practical norms, as given by Alan Ryan in the 1970s. There is, I claim in Sections II and III, no firm textual evidence (...) for this reading of Mill: his remarks on ‘art’ and ‘science’ do not show the metaethical commitments they have been taken to. Neither is there firm textual evidence for a cognitivist reading. However, I suggest in Section IV, a non-cognitivist interpretation suffers from the fault of anachronism, and is difficult to reconcile with a clear commitment in Utilitarianism IV.3 to the possibility of evidence being given for the desirability of pleasure. A cognitivist reading would not suffer from these faults, and on that basis, I conclude that we should think further about what a cognitivist reading of Mill might amount to. (shrink)
This is acknowledged by moral realists and non-cognitivists alike, but, for obvious reasons, they relate differently to this resemblance. For realists, it provides arguments, and for non-cognitivists, it provides potential trouble. Realists claim that the various points of resemblance between moral and factual discourse indicate that moral discourse simply is a kind of factual discourse.1 However, in recent years a number of interesting attempts have been made in trying to show that the realist appearance of moral discourse can after all (...) be accommodated within a noncognitivist view. (shrink)
I argue for cognitivism about some normative judgements. I begin with the issues of realism and cognitivism as they manifest themselves in moral philosophy. I then proceed to issues of realism and cognitivism about normative judgements more generally. I describe the norm of consistency in normative judgement, and I argue that this norm means that we must be cognitivist about some normative judgements.
Critics argue that non-cognitivism cannot adequately account for the existence and nature of some thick moral concepts. They use the existence of thick concepts as a lever in an argument against non-cognitivism, here called the Thick Concept Argument (TCA). While TCA is frequently invoked, it is unfortunately rarely articulated. In this paper, TCA is first reconstructed on the basis of John McDowell’s formulation of the argument (from 1981), and then evaluated in the light of several possible non-cognitivist responses. (...) In general, TCA assumes too much about what a non-cognitivist is (or must be) committed to. There are several non-cognitivist theories, and only some fit the view attacked by TCA. Furthermore, TCA rests on a contestable intuition about a thought experiment, here called the External Standpoint Experiment (ESE). It is concluded that TCA is remarkably weak, given how frequently the argument is invoked. (shrink)
The maturing of metaethics has been accompanied by widespread, but relatively unarticulated, discontent that mainstream metaethics is fundamentally on the wrong track. The malcontents we have in mind do not simply champion a competitor to the likes of noncognitivism or realism; they disapprove of the supposed presuppositions of the existing debate. Their aim is not to generate a new theory within metaethics, but to go beyond metaethics and to transcend the distinctions it draws between metaethics and normative ethics and between (...) cognitivism and non-cognitivism. In our experience, the differences with traditional metaethics go deep enough that it can feel as if two different paradigms are talking past each other. We attempt to bring clarity and focus to this rather inchoate debate by simultaneously articulating the general issues involved and engaging in a detailed case study of one of the prominent representatives of this discontent, Christine Korsgaard. We argue that Korsgaard fails to go beyond metaethics–indeed, fails even to provide a theory within metaethics. Our strategy for showing this is to argue that her claims are compatible with both cognitivism and non-cognitivism. We have argued elsewhere that her distinctive claims are compatible with realism. Here we focus on the crucial role that claims about agency and the will seem to play her in work and, according to our interpretation, in her attempts to go beyond mainstream metaethics. We show in detail that these claims are actually compatible with non-cognitivism. Though our discussion often focuses on her work in particular, it has clear implications for other attempts to obviate the debates of traditional metaethics. (shrink)
Normative judgments involve two gradable features. First, the judgments themselves can come in degrees; second, the strength of reasons represented in the judgments can come in degrees. Michael Smith has argued that non-cognitivism cannot accommodate both of these gradable dimensions. The degrees of a non-cognitive state can stand in for degrees of judgment, or degrees of reason strength represented in judgment, but not both. I argue that (a) there are brands of noncognitivism that can surmount Smith’s challenge, and (b) (...) any brand of non-cognitivism that has even a chance of solving the Frege–Geach Problem and some related problems involving probabilistic consistency can also thereby solve Smith’s problem. Because only versions of non-cognitivism that can solve the Frege–Geach Problem are otherwise plausible, all otherwise plausible versions of noncognitivism can meet Smith’s challenge. (shrink)
Is non-cognitivism compatible with minimalism about truth? A contemporary argument claims not, and therefore that moral realists, for example, should take heart from the popularity of semantic minimalism. The same is said to apply to cognitivism about other topics—conditionals, for example—for the argument depends only on the fact that ordinary usage applies the notions of truth and falsity to utterances of the kind in question. Given this much, minimalism about truth is said to leave no room for the view (...) that the utterances concerned are non-cognitive in nature. (shrink)
Non-cognitivists claim to be able to represent normative judgment, and especially moral judgment, as an expression of a non-cognitive attitude. There is some reason to worry whether their treatment can incorporate agent centred theories, including much of common sense morality. In this paper I investigate the prospects for a non-cognitivist explanation of what is going on when we subscribe to agent centred theories or norms. The first section frames the issue by focusing on a particularly simple and clear agent centred (...) theory, egoism. The second section poses the difficulty faced by non-cognitivist analyses of such theories and norms, and runs briefly through a couple of abortive attempts to solve it. The third section offers a solution and explains it. The fourth section uses the account developed in the third section to show in what way agent centred judgments are universalizable and in what way they are not. (shrink)
One of the most prevalent and influential assumptions in metaethics is that our conception of the relation between moral language and motivation provides strong support to internalism about moral judgments. In the present paper, I argue that this supposition is unfounded. Our responses to the type of thought experiments that internalists employ do not lend confirmation to this view to the extent they are assumed to do. In particular, they are as readily explained by an externalist view according to which (...) there is a pragmatic and standardized connection between moral utterances and motivation. The pragmatic account I propose states that a person’s utterance of a sentence according to which she ought to ϕ conveys two things: the sentence expresses, in virtue of its conventional meaning, the belief that she ought to ϕ, and her utterance carries a generalized conversational implicature to the effect that she is motivated to ϕ. This view also makes it possible to defend cognitivism against a well-known internalist argument. (shrink)
This paper explores a variety of kinds of apparent disagreement of which it may be held that they involve failure to disagree in that, at least in some broad sense, the disputants use the same words to express different meanings or concepts. It is argued that it is hard to rebut the claim that some apparent disagreements about personal identity fall into a particular sub-category of this broad type. I conclude both that a "constrained" relativism which I call "quasi-relativism" is (...) appropriate in regard to some central personal-identity debates, and also that, in order to avoid the lamentable conclusion that there is no real disagreement at all in these debates, we should embrace the idea that there is a non-cognitive element in personal identity claims, in virtue of the tight conceptual relations between personal identity claims and value claims of various kinds. (shrink)
It is commonly thought that the prevalence of moral dissent poses a problem for the moral cognitivist, forcing her to diagnose either a lot of misunderstanding, or a lot of unexplained observational error. Since mere misunderstanding can be ruled out in most cases of moral dissent, and since the diagnosis of widespread unexplained error is interpretively unstable, prevalent dissent has pushed many philosophers towards non-cognitivism. In this essay, I argue that once a diachronic, pragmatist theory of language along the (...) lines of the latest Wittgenstein is employed, a third interpretive option becomes available to the cognitivist. Besides the diagnostic options of misunderstanding and factual disagreement, she can argue that a given case of moral dissent is an instance of grammatical tension. This interpretation not only saves moral cognitivism, it also has some attractive theoretical implications. Among other things, it yields an elegant way of solving the current debate around moral particularism. (shrink)
Philosophers should consider a hybrid meta-ethical theory that includes elements of both moral expressivism and moral error theory. Proponents of such an expressivist-error theory hold that all moral utterances are either expressions of attitudes or expressions of false beliefs. Such a hybrid theory has two advantages over pure expressivism, because hybrid theorists can offer a more plausible account of the moral utterances that seem to be used to express beliefs, and hybrid theorists can provide a simpler solution to the Frege-Geach (...) problem. The hybrid theory has three advantages over pure error theory, because hybrid theorists can offer a more plausible account of the moral utterances that seem to be used to express attitudes, hybrid theorists can more easily explain moral motivation, and hybrid theorists can avoid the implausible claim that all moral discourse is radically mistaken. Accordingly, such a hybrid theory should be more attractive than pure expressivism or pure error theory to philosophers who are skeptical about moral facts and truth. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the work of the unorthodox Stoic Posidonius - as reported to us by Galen - can be seen as making an interesting contribution to contemporary debates about the nature of emotion. Richard Sorabji has already argued that Posidonius' contribution highlights the weaknesses in some well-known contemporary forms of cognitivism. Here I argue that Posidonius might be seen as advocating a theory of the emotions which sees them as being, in at least some cases, two-level (...) intentional phenomena. One level involves judgments, just as the orthodox Stoic account does. But Posidonius thinks that emotions must also include an element sometimes translated as an "irrational tug". I suggest that we see the "irrational tug" as involving a second level of intentional, but non-conceptual representation. This view satisfies two desiderata: it is a view which would have been available to Posidonius and which is compatible with the views reported to us; and it is a view which is independently attractive. It also makes Posidonius' position less far removed from that of orthodox Stoics than it might otherwise do, while remaining genuinely innovative. (shrink)
Cognitivist motivational internalism is the thesis that, if one believes that 'It is right to ϕ', then one will be motivated to ϕ. This thesis—which captures the practical nature of morality—is in tension with a Humean constraint on belief: belief cannot motivate action without the assistance of a conceptually independent desire. When defending cognitivist motivational internalism it is tempting to either argue that the Humean constraint only applies to non-moral beliefs or that moral beliefs only motivate ceteris paribus . But (...) succumbing to the first temptation places one under a burden to justify what is motivationally exceptional about moral beliefs and succumbing to the second temptation saddles one with a thesis that fails to do justice to the practicality intuition that cognitivist motivational internalism is suppose to capture. In this paper, I offer a way of defending cognitivist motivational internalism, which does not require accepting that there is anything motivationally unusual about moral beliefs. I argue that no belief satisfies the Humean constraint: all beliefs are capable of motivating without the assistance of a conceptually independent desire. (shrink)
Motivational externalists and internalists of various sorts disagree about the circumstances under which it is conceptually possible to have moral opinions but lack moral motivation. Typically, the evidence referred to are intuitions about whether people in certain scenarios who lack moral motivation count as having moral opinions. People’s intuitions about such scenarios diverge, however. I argue that the nature of this diversity is such that, for each of the internalist and externalist theses, there is a strong prima facie reason to (...) reject it. That much might not be very controversial. But I argue further, that it also gives us a strong prima facie reason to reject all of these theses. This is possible since there is an overlooked alternative option to accepting any of them: moral motivation pluralism , the view that different internalist and externalist theses correctly accounts for different people’s concepts of moral opinions, respectively. I end the paper with a discussion of methodological issues relevant to the argument for moral motivation pluralism and of the consequences of this view for theories about the nature of moral opinions, such as cognitivism and non-cognitivism. (shrink)
Introduction. Whatever its underlying causes, even the description of the phenomenon of thought insertion, of the content of the delusion, presents difficulty. It may seem that the best hope of a description comes from a broadly cognitivist approach to the mind which construes content-laden mental states as internal mental representations within what is literally an inner space: the space of the brain or nervous system. Such an approach objectifies thoughts in a way which might seem to hold out the prospect (...) of describing the ''alienated'' relation to one's own thoughts that seems to be present in thought insertion.1 Method. Firstly, I examine the general structure of cognitivist accounts of intentional or content-laden mental states. I raise the general difficulty of explaining how free-standing, and thus world-independent, inner states can still have bearing on the outer world. Secondly, I briefly examine Frith's model for explaining thought insertion and other passivity phenomena by postulating a failure of an internal monitoring mechanism of inner states. I question what account can be given of non-pathological cases and raise two specific objects. Results. Cognitivist accounts of the mind face a general, and possibly insuperable, challenge: explaining the intentionality of mental states in non-intentional, non- question-begging terms. There have so far been no satisfactory solutions. Cognitivist accounts of passivity phenomena in terms of a failure of internal monitoring face two objections. Firstly, accounting for non-pathological cases generates an infinite regress. Secondly, no account can be given of the paradoxical nature of utterances of the form of Moore's paradox: ''it is raining but I do not believe it''. Conclusions. A cognitivist approach presents an alienated account of thought in normal, non-pathological cases and is no help in accounting for thought insertion. (shrink)
This paper considers whether eudaimonism is necessarily an idealizing approach to ethics. I argue, contrary to what is implied by Christine Swanton, that it is not, and I suggest that a non-ideal eudaimonistic virtue ethics can be useful for feminist and critical race theorists. For eudaimonist theorists in the Aristotelian tradition, the claim that one should aim to live virtuously assumes that there will typically be good enough background conditions so that an exercise of the virtues, in conjunction with these (...) favorable external conditions, will suffice for someone to flourish both in the sense of living virtuously and in the sense of living well or living the good life. However, under some forms of oppression the background conditions will not be good enough, and thus an exercise of the virtues will often be insufficient to constitute a flourishing life. It may seem that eudaimonism, with its foregrounding of the concept of flourishing and its assumption of a tight connection between living virtuously and living well, may function as a form of ideology that elides the ways in which non-ideal and oppressive conditions can separate virtue from well-being and can make the state of flourishing (in its dual senses) unattainable. I point out that eudaimonism can be revised to incorporate the claim that virtue and flourishing may typically be unlinked, and I advocate retaining flourishing as an unattainable end, exercising the virtues even with a sense of their absurdity, and confronting the existential states of frustration and disappointment that may result. (shrink)
The goals of this paper are two-fold: I wish to clarify the Aristotelian conception of the law of non-contradiction as a metaphysical rather than a semantic or logical principle, and to defend the truth of the principle in this sense. First I will explain what it in fact means that the law of non-contradiction is a metaphysical principle. The core idea is that the law of non-contradiction is a general principle derived from how things are in the world. For example, (...) there are certain constraints as to what kind of properties an object can have, and especially: some of these properties are mutually exclusive. Given this characterisation, I will advance to examine what kind of challenges the law of non-contradiction faces; the main opponent here is Graham Priest. I will consider these challenges and conclude that they do not threaten the truth of the law of non-contradiction understood as a metaphysical principle. (shrink)
In this chapter I seek to examine the credibility of Finnis’s basic stance on Aquinas that while many neo-Thomists are meta-ethically naturalistic in their understanding of natural law theory (for example, Heinrich Rommen, Henry Veatch, Ralph McInerny, Russell Hittinger, Benedict Ashley and Anthony Lisska), Aquinas’s own meta-ethical framework avoids the “pitfall” of naturalism. On examination, the short of it is that I find Finnis’s account (while adroit) wanting in the interpretation stakes vis-à-vis other accounts of Aquinas’s meta-ethical foundationalism. I think (...) that the neo-Thomists are basically right to argue that for Aquinas we cannot really understand objective truths about moral standards unless we derive them from our intellective knowledge of natural facts as given to us by the essential human nature that we have. While I find Finnis’s interpretative position on Aquinas wanting, I go on to argue that his own attachment to non-naturalism is justified and should not be jettisoned. Because I think non-naturalism important to the future tenability of a viable natural law ethics (an ethics that is both cognitive and objectivist), I argue that Finnis should, so to speak, “beef up” his “fundamental option” for non-naturalism and more fully avail himself of certain argumentative strategies available in its defense, argumentative strategies that are inspired by the analytical philosophy of G.E. Moore. (shrink)
Proponents of non-conceptual content have recruited it for various philosophical jobs. Some epistemologists have suggested that it may play the role of “the given” that Sellars is supposed to have exorcised from philosophy. Some philosophers of mind (e.g., Dretske) have suggested that it plays an important role in the project of naturalizing semantics as a kind of halfway between merely information bearing and possessing conceptual content. Here I will focus on a recent proposal by Jerry Fodor. In a recent paper (...) he characterizes non-conceptual content in a particular way and argues that it is plausible that it plays an explanatory role in accounting for certain auditory and visual phenomena. So he thinks that there is reason to believe that there is non-conceptual content. On the other hand, Fodor thinks that non-conceptual content has a limited role. It occurs only in the very early stages of perceptual processing prior to conscious awareness. My paper is examines Fodor’s characterization of non-conceptual content and his claims for its explanatory importance. I also discuss if Fodor has made a case for limiting non-conceptual content to non-conscious, sub-personal mental states. (shrink)
A number of authors have objected to the application of non-classical logic to problems in philosophy on the basis that these non-classical logics are usually characterised by a classical metatheory. In many cases the problem amounts to more than just a discrepancy; the very phenomena responsible for non-classicality occur in the field of semantics as much as they do elsewhere. The phenomena of higher order vagueness and the revenge liar are just two such examples. The aim of this paper is (...) to show that a large class of non-classical logics are strong enough to formulate their own model theory in a corresponding non-classical set theory. Specifically I show that adequate definitions of validity can be given for the propositional calculus in such a way that the metatheory proves, in the specified logic, that every theorem of the propositional fragment of that logic is validated. It is shown that in some cases it may fail to be a classical matter whether a given sentence is valid or not. One surprising conclusion for non-classical accounts of vagueness is drawn: there can be no axiomatic, and therefore precise, system which is determinately sound and complete. (shrink)
Intuitively, the knowledge of one’s own intentional actions is different from the knowledge of actions of other sorts, including those of other people and unintentional actions of one's own. But how are we to understand this phenomenon? Does it pertain to all actions, under every description under which they are known? If so, then how is this possible? If not, then how should we think about cases that are exceptions to this principle? This paper is a critical survey of recent (...) attempts to answer these questions. I consider views under three headings: "special source" views, which hold that the knowledge of one's intentional actions has a non-perceptual source; "special domain" views, which hold that some but not all aspects of one's intentional actions are known in a special way; and "special character" views, which hold that the knowledge of intentional actions is special not because of where it comes from, but because of some other respect in which it is different in kind from the knowledge of other things. (shrink)
Inspired by Kant's account of intuition and concepts, John McDowell has forcefully argued that the relation between sensible content and concepts is such that sensible content does not severally contribute to cognition but always only in conjunction with concepts. This view is known as conceptualism. Recently, Robert Hanna and Lucy Allais, among others, have brought against this view the charge that it neglects the possibility of the existence of essentially non-conceptual content that is not conceptualized or subject to conceptualization. Their (...) defense against McDowell amounts to non-conceptualism. Both views believe that intuition is synthesized content in Kant's sense. In this article, I am particularly interested in how their views are true to Kant. I argue that although McDowell is right that intuition is only epistemically relevant in conjunction with concepts, I also believe that Hanna and Allais are right with regard to the existence of essentially non-conceptual content, but that they are wrong with regard to intuition being synthesized content in Kant's sense. I also point out the common failure to take account of the modal nature of Kant's argument for the relation between intuition and concept. [the article is written in Dutch]. (shrink)
This paper discusses the interrelations between three aspects of human emotions: their intentionality, their expressivity and their moral significance. It distinguishes three kinds of philosophical views of emotions: the cognitivist (classically held by the Stoics), the emotivist which reduces emotions to non-intentional bodily sensations and physiological states, and the moral phenomenologist, the latter being held by Annette Baier, whose work is the focus of the discussion. Her view, which represents an original development of ideas found in Descartes and Hume, avoids (...) the reductionism of congitivist and emotivist accounts. The paper gives special attention to her notion of 'deep' objects of emotions and to her account of the expressivity of emotions, arguing that while the first is problematic, the second is a significant contribution to our understanding of the role of emotions in our moral lives. (shrink)
I present a high-level account of the semantical distinction between count nouns and non-count nouns (concrete non-count nouns sometimes being dubbed 'mass nouns'). The basic idea is that count nouns are semantically either singular (one-one semantic correlation) or plural (one-many semantic correlation) and non-count nouns (one-much semantic correlation) are neither.
Some claim that Non-reductive Physicalism (NRP) is an unstable position, on grounds that NRP either collapses into reductive physicalism (contra Non-reduction ), or expands into emergentism of a robust or ‘strong’ variety (contra Physicalism ). I argue that this claim is unfounded, by attention to the notion of a degree of freedom—roughly, an independent parameter needed to characterize an entity as being in a state functionally relevant to its law-governed properties and behavior. I start by distinguishing three relations that may (...) hold between the degrees of freedom needed to characterize certain special science entities, and those needed to characterize (systems consisting of) their composing physical (or physically acceptable) entities; these correspond to what I call ‘reductions’, ‘restrictions’, and ‘eliminations’ in degrees of freedom. I then argue that eliminations in degrees of freedom, in particular—when strictly fewer degrees of freedom are required to characterize certain special science entities than are required to characterize (systems consisting of) their composing physical (or physically acceptable) entities—provide a basis for making sense of how certain special science entities can be both physically acceptable and ontologically irreducible to physical entities. (shrink)
I argue that an adequate account of non-reductive realization must guarantee satisfaction of a certain condition on the token causal powers associated with (instances of) realized and realizing entities---namely, what I call the 'Subset Condition on Causal Powers' (first introduced in Wilson 1999). In terms of states, the condition requires that the token powers had by a realized state on a given occasion be a proper subset of the token powers had by the state that realizes it on that occasion. (...) Accounts of non-reductive realization conforming to this condition are implementing what I call 'the powers-based subset strategy'. I focus on the crucial case involving mental and brain states; the results may be generalized, as appropriate. I ﬁrst situate and motivate the strategy by attention to the problem of mental causation; I make the case, in schematic terms, that implementation of the strategy makes room (contra Kim 1989, 1993, 1998, and elsewhere) for mental states to be ontologically and causally autonomous from their realizing physical states, without inducing problematic causal overdetermination, and compatible with both Physicalism and Non-reduction; and I show that several contemporary accounts of non-reductive realization (in terms of functional realization, parthood, and the determinable/determinate relation) are plausibly seen as implementing the strategy. As I also show, implementation of the powers-based strategy does not require endorsement of any particular accounts of either properties or causation---indeed, a categoricalist contingentist Humean can implement the strategy. The schematic location of the strategy in the space of available responses to the problem of mental (more generally, higher-level) causation, as well as the fact that the schema may be metaphysically instantiated, strongly suggests that the strategy is, appropriately generalized and instantiated, sufficient and moreover necessary for non-reductive realization. I go on to defend the sufficiency and necessity claims against a variety of objections, considering, along the way, how the powers-based subset strategy fares against competing accounts of purportedly non-reductive realization in terms of supervenience, token identity, and constitution. (shrink)
We propose an alternative approach to probability theory closely related to the framework of numerosity theory: non-Archimedean probability (NAP). In our approach, unlike in classical probability theory, all subsets of an infinite sample space are measurable and only the empty set gets assigned probability zero (in other words: the probability functions are regular). We use a non-Archimedean field as the range of the probability function. As a result, the property of countable additivity in Kolmogorov’s axiomatization of probability is replaced by (...) a different type of infinite additivity. (shrink)
In recent times, Evans’ idea that mental states could have non-conceptual contents has been attacked. McDowell (Mind and World, 1994) and Brewer (Perception and reason, 1999) have both argued that that notion does not have any epistemological role because notions such as justification or evidential support, that might relate mental contents to each other, must be framed in conceptual terms. On his side, Brewer has argued that instead of non-conceptual content we should consider demonstrative concepts that have the same fine (...) grainess of non-conceptual contents while having conceptual structure. In what follows I will argue that, first, that the notion of demonstrative concept is not viable and, second, that there is an epistemological role for non-conceptual content. (shrink)
Embodied social cognition (ESC) aims to explicate how our embodiment shapes our knowledge of others, and in what this knowledge of others consists. Although there is much diversity amongst ESC accounts, common to all these accounts is the idea that our normal everyday interactions consist in non-mentalistic embodied engagements. In recent years, several theorists have developed and defended innovative and controversial accounts of ESC. These accounts challenge, and offer deflationary alternatives to, the standard cognitivist accounts of social cognition. As ESC (...) accounts grow in number and prominence, the time has come for a dedicated, sustained debate on ESC and its most controversial and innovative elements. The goal of this special issue is to host such a debate with the aim of bringing clarity to the discussion of social cognition. (shrink)
Recently theorists have demonstrated a growing interest in the ethical aspects of resource allocation in international non-governmental humanitarian, development and human rights organizations (INGOs). This article provides an analysis of Thomas Pogge's proposal for how international human rights organizations ought to choose which projects to fund. Pogge's allocation principle states that ?an INGO should govern its decision making about candidate projects by such rules and procedures as are expected to maximize its long-run cost-effectiveness, defined as the expected aggregate moral value (...) of the projects it undertakes divided by the expected aggregate cost of these projects? (2007. Moral priorities for international human rights NGOs. In Ethics in action, ed. D. Bell and J. Coicaud, 218?56. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 241). I critique Pogge's argument on two fronts: (1) I demonstrate that his view is problematic on his own terms, even if we accept the cost-effectiveness framework he employs. (2) I take issue with his overall approach because it generates results which can undermine the integrity of INGOs. Further, his approach mis-characterizes the nature of INGOs, and this mistake is at the root of his problematic view of INGO priority-setting. Ultimately, I argue for a conception of INGOs in which they are understood as ?organizations of principle?, in the sense that they are independent moral agents and so should be permitted a fairly wide sphere of autonomy within reasonable moral constraints. (shrink)
This essay in the comparative metaphysic of nothingness begins by pondering why Leibniz thought of the converse question as the preeminent one. In Eastern philosophical thought, like the numeral 'zero' (śūnya) that Indian mathematicians first discovered, nothingness as non-being looms large and serves as the first quiver on the imponderables they seem to have encountered (e.g., 'In the beginning was neither non-being nor being: what was there, bottomless deep?' RgVeda X.129). The concept of non-being and its permutations of nothing, negation, (...) nullity, etc., receive more sophisticated treatment in the works of grammarians, ritual hermeneuticians, logicians, and their dialectical adversaries variously across Jaina and Buddhist schools. The present analysis follows the function of negation/the negative copula, nãn, and dialetheia in grammar and logic, then moves onto ontologies of non-existence and extinction and further suggestive tropes that tend to arrest rather than affirm the inexorable being-there of something. After a discussion of interests in being (existence), non-being and nothingness in contemporary metaphysics, the article examines Heidegger’s extensive treatment of nothingness in his 1929 inaugural Freiburg lecture, 'Was ist Metaphysik?', published later as 'What is Metaphysics?' The essay however distances itself from any pretensions toward a doctrine of Metaphysical Nihilism. (shrink)
Many people in the developing world access essential health services either partially or primarily through programs run by international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). Given that such programs are typically designed and run by Westerners, and funded by Western countries and their citizens, it is not surprising that such programs are regarded by many as vehicles for Western cultural imperialism. In this chapter, I consider this phenomenon as it emerges in the context of development and humanitarian aid programs, particularly those delivering medical (...) treatment, nutrition and access to clean water. I argue that in order to avoid contributing to cultural imperialism, INGOs have a duty to ensure that they do not offer services in a way that requires their beneficiaries to choose between accessing essential health services and violating or otherwise undermining traditional norms and practices which have significance for their beneficiaries. Following Onora O'Neill, I argue that offers requiring such a choice are effectively “unrefuseable” and so coercive. INGOs therefore, must avoid making such offers, and can accomplish this by means of an iterated process of reciprocal negotiation under conditions of equality, in which both the INGOs’ and the beneficiaries’ deep values and concerns play a role. In essence, I claim that employing such a process is a requirement of procedural justice, given the non-ideal conditions in which INGOs must operate. (shrink)
Some argue that Candrakīrti is committed to rejecting all theories of perception in virtue of the rejection of the foundationalisms of the Nyāya and the Pramāṇika. Others argue that Candrakīrti endorses the Nyāya theory of perception. In this paper, I will propose an alternative non-foundationalist theory of perception for Candrakīriti. I will show that Candrakrti’s works provide us sufficient evidence to defend a typical Prāsagika’s account of perception that, I argue, complements his core non-foundationalist ontology.
In recent years, the debate on the problem of causal exclusion has seen an ‘interventionist turn’. Numerous non-reductive physicalists (e.g. Shapiro and Sober 2007) have argued that Woodward's (2003) interventionist theory of causation provides a means to empirically establish the existence of non-reducible mental-to-physical causation. By contrast, Baumgartner (2010) has presented an interventionist exclusion argument showing that interventionism is in fact incompatible with non-reductive physicalism. In response, a number of revised versions of interventionism have been suggested that are compatible with (...) non-reductive physicalism. The first part of this paper reconstructs the definitional details of these modified interventionist theories. The second part investigates whether the modification proposed in Woodward (2011) is not only compatible with, but moreover supports non-reductive physicalism. In particular, it is examined whether that newest variant of interventionism allows for empirically resolving the problem of causal exclusion as envisaged by Shapiro, Sober and others. (shrink)
Sartre's concept of ‘non-thetic awareness’ must be understood as equivalent to the concept of ‘nonconceptual content’ currently discussed in anglophone epistemology and philosophy of mind, since it could not otherwise play the role in the structure of ‘bad faith’, or self-deception, that Sartre ascribes to it. This understanding of the term makes sense of some otherwise puzzling features of Sartre's early philosophy, and has implications for understanding certain areas of his thought.
In this book a non-realist philosophy of mathematics is presented. Two ideas are essential to its conception. These ideas are (i) that pure mathematics--taken in isolation from the use of mathematical signs in empirical judgement--is an activity for which a formalist account is roughly correct, and (ii) that mathematical signs nonetheless have a sense, but only in and through belonging to a system of signs with empirical application. This conception is argued by the two authors and is critically discussed by (...) three philosophers of mathematics. (shrink)
In formulating procreative principles, it makes sense to begin by thinking about whose interests ought to matter to us. Obviously, we care about those who exist. Less obviously, but still uncontroversially, we care about those who will exist. Ought we to care about those who might possibly, but will not actually, exist?Recently, unusual positions have been taken regarding merely possible people and the non-identity problem. David Velleman argues that what might have happened to you – an existent person – often (...) doesn't merit moral consideration since the alternative person one would have been had what might have happened actually happened is a merely possible person about whom one has no reason to care. He argues that his way of thinking can eliminate the non-identity problem. Caspar Hare argues that merely possible people have interests and are morally relevant. He argues that we can solve the non-identity problem by rejecting the view that merely possible people are morally irrelevant. Both Hare and Velleman argue that focusing on one's de dicto rather than on one's de re children can help us avoid the non-identity problem.I analyze the role that merely possible, nonexistent hypothetical entities ought to play in our moral reasoning, especially with regard to procreation. I refute both Velleman's and Hare's views and demonstrate the difficulties we encounter when we try to apply their views to common non-identity cases. I conclude with the common-sense view regarding who matters, morally: only those who do, did, or will exist. (shrink)
We argue that non-epistemic values, including moral ones, play an important role in the construction and choice of models in science and engineering. Our main claim is that non-epistemic values are not only “secondary values” that become important just in case epistemic values leave some issues open. Our point is, on the contrary, that non-epistemic values are as important as epistemic ones when engineers seek to develop the best model of a process or problem. The upshot is that models are (...) neither value-free, nor depend exclusively on epistemic values or use non-epistemic values as tie-breakers. (shrink)
Political liberalism, conceived of as a response to the diversity of conceptions of the good in multicultural societies, aims to put forward a proposal for how to organize political institutions that is acceptable to a wide range of citizens. It does so by remaining neutral between reasonable conceptions of the good while giving all citizens a fair opportunity to access the offices and positions which enable them to pursue their own conception of the good. Public educational institutions are at the (...) center of the state’s attempt to foster both of these commitments. I argue that recent empirical research on the role that non-cognitive dispositions (such as assertiveness) play in enabling students to have access to two important primary goods – opportunities for higher education and desirable jobs – creates a distinctive challenge for a liberal egalitarian education in remaining neutral with respect to conceptions of the good while promoting equal opportunity. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is threefold. Firstly, it aims to present, in an educational and non-technical fashion, the main ideas at the basis of Aerts’ creation-discovery view and hidden measurement approach : a fundamental explanatory framework whose importance, in this author’s view, has been seriously underappreciated by the physics community, despite its success in clarifying many conceptual challenges of quantum physics. Secondly, it aims to introduce a new quantum machine—that we call the δ quantum machine —which is able to (...) reproduce the transmission and reflection probabilities of a one-dimensional quantum scattering process by a Dirac delta-function potential. The machine is used not only to demonstrate the pertinence of the above mentioned explanatory framework, in the general description of physical systems, but also to illustrate (in the spirit of Aerts’ ∊-model) the origin of classical and quantum structures, by revealing the existence of processes which are neither classical nor quantum, but irreducibly intermediate. We do this by explicitly introducing what we call the k-model and by proving that its processes cannot be modelized by a classical or quantum scattering system. The third purpose of this work is to exploit the powerful metaphor provided by our quantum machine, to investigate the intimate relation between the concept of potentiality and the notion of non-spatiality , that we characterize in precise terms, introducing for this the new concept of process-actuality. (shrink)
Linguistic dependencies between non-adjacent words have been shown to cause comprehension difficulty, compared with local dependencies. According to one class of sentence comprehension accounts, non-local dependencies are difficult because they require the retrieval of the first dependent from memory when the second dependent is encountered. According to these memory-based accounts, making the first dependent accessible at the time when the second dependent is encountered should help alleviate the difficulty associated with the processing of non-local dependencies. In a dual-task paradigm, participants (...) read sentences that did or did not contain a non-local dependency (i.e., object- and subject-extracted cleft constructions) while simultaneously remembering a word. The memory task was aimed at making the word held in memory accessible throughout the sentence. In an object-extracted cleft (e.g., It was Ellen whom John consulted…), the object (Ellen) must be retrieved from memory when consulted is encountered. In the critical manipulation, the memory word was identical to the verb's object (ELLEN). In these conditions, the extraction effect was reduced in the comprehension accuracy data and eliminated in the reading time data. These results add to the body of evidence supporting memory-based accounts of syntactic complexity. (shrink)
According to the “deprivation approach,” a person’s death is bad for her to the extent that it deprives her of goods. This approach faces the Lucretian problem that prenatal non-existence deprives us of goods just as much as death does, but does not seem bad at all. The two most prominent responses to this challenge—one of which is provided by Frederik Kaufman (inspired by Thomas Nagel) and the other by Anthony Brueckner and John Martin Fischer—claim that prenatal non-existence is relevantly (...) different from death. This paper criticizes these responses. (shrink)
Radical non-dispositionalism is the view according to which the actual causal/nomic roles of natural properties are totally irrelevant to their de re modal representation. The major difficulty besetting all forms of radical non-dispositionalism is that the latter allegedly allows the metaphysical possibility of two natural properties swapping their actual causal/nomic roles. The aim of this paper is to provide a plausible solution to that problem. To this end, I describe the necessary steps that a proponent of the view may take (...) to respond to it. I argue that those steps include the rejection of the transworld existence of natural properties and the adoption of a counterpart-theoretic framework for their de re modal representation. I, finally, present two versions of the property-counterpart framework which are consistent with the radical non-dispositionalism. (shrink)
We use a simple relational framework to develop the key notions and results on hidden variables and non-locality. The extensive literature on these topics in the foundations of quantum mechanics is couched in terms of probabilistic models, and properties such as locality and no-signalling are formulated probabilistically. We show that to a remarkable extent, the main structure of the theory, through the major No-Go theorems and beyond, survives intact under the replacement of probability distributions by mere relations.
Background Non-therapeutic trials in which terminally ill cancer patients are asked to undergo procedures such as biopsies or venipunctures for research purposes, have become increasingly important to learn more about how cancer cells work and to realize the full potential of clinical research. Considering that implementing non-therapeutic studies is not likely to result in direct benefits for the patient, some authors are concerned that involving patients in such research may be exploitive of vulnerable patients and should not occur at all, (...) or should be greatly restricted, while some proponents doubt whether such restrictions are appropriate. Our objective was to explore clinician-researcher attitudes and concerns when recruiting patients who are in advanced stages of cancer into non-therapeutic research. Methods We conducted a qualitative exploratory study by carrying out open-ended interviews with health professionals, including physicians, research nurses, and study coordinators. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Analysis was carried out using grounded theory. Results The analysis of the interviews unveiled three prominent themes: 1) ethical considerations; 2) patient-centered issues; 3) health professional issues. Respondents identified ethical issues surrounding autonomy, respect for persons, beneficence, non-maleficence, discrimination, and confidentiality; bringing to light that patients contribute to science because of a sense of altruism and that they want reassurance before consenting. Several patient-centered and health professional issues are having an impact on the recruitment of patients for non-therapeutic research. Facilitators were most commonly associated with patient-centered issues enhancing communication, whereas barriers in non-therapeutic research were most often professionally based, including the doctor-patient relationship, time constraints, and a lack of education and training in research. Conclusions This paper aims to contribute to debates on the overall challenges of recruiting patients to non-therapeutic research. This exploratory study identified general awareness of key ethical issues, as well as key facilitators and barriers to the recruitment of patients to non-therapeutic studies. Due to the important role played by clinicians and clinician-researchers in the recruitment of patients, it is essential to facilitate a greater understanding of the challenges faced; to promote effective communication; and to encourage educational research training programs. (shrink)
In this article I investigate several possibilities to define the concept of “temporal non-locality” within the standard framework of quantum theory. In particular, I analyze the notions of “temporally non-local states”, “temporally non-local events” and “temporally non-local observables”. The idea of temporally non-local events is already inherent in the standard formalism of quantum mechanics, and Basil Hiley recently defined an operator in order to measure the degree of such a temporal non-locality. The concept of temporally non-local states enters as soon (...) as “clock-representing states” are introduced in the context of special and general relativity. It is discussed in which way temporally non-local measurements may find an interesting application for experiments which test temporal versions of Bell inequalities. (shrink)
The desire to defend a state against attacks by a non-state actor requires thinking about counter-attacking without violating the sovereign equality of the territorial state because targeting a non-state actor on the territory of that state may violate its sovereignty. This paper evaluates the main views on self-defense by states against non-state actors by studying the Just War Theory and argues that self-defense against a non-state actor is allowed if the counter-attack complies with the principle of sovereign equality. Sovereign equality (...) is the prohibition of states from dominion over other states because states are equal to one another. This principle can be respected by allowing self-defense against non-state actors to occur only if the state consented to the use of force on its territory or if that state is incapable of controlling or unwilling to control the non-state actor. (shrink)
Abstract: Those who endorse the Psychological Continuity Approach (PCA) to analyzing personal identity need to impose a non-branching constraint to get the intuitively correct result that in the case of fission, one person becomes two. With the help of Brueckner's (2005) discussion, it is shown here that the sort of non-branching clause that allows proponents of PCA to provide sufficient conditions for being the same person actually runs contrary to the very spirit of their theory. The problem is first presented (...) in connection with perdurantist versions of PCA. The difficulty is then shown to apply to endurantist versions as well. -/- . (shrink)
We show that there are continuum many different non-Fregean sentential logics that have adequate models. The proof is based on the construction of a special class of models of the power of the continuum.
In his book Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language (Kripke 1982), Saul Kripke develops a famous argument that purports to show that there are no facts about what we mean by the expressions of our language: ascriptions of meaning, such as “Jones means addition by ‘+’” or “Smith means green by ‘green’”, are according to Kripke’s Wittgenstein neither true nor false. Kripke’s Wittgenstein thus argues for a form of non- factualism about ascriptions of meaning: ascriptions of meaning do not (...) purport to state facts.1 Define semantic realism to be the view that ascriptions of meaning are apt to be assessed in terms of truth and falsity, and are, at least in some instances, true. Semantic realism, thus defined, is a form of cognitivism about semantic judgement, according to which judgements ascribing meaning express beliefs, states apt for assessment in terms of truth and falsity. Kripke’s Wittgenstein thus argues against semantic realism, and in favour of a form of semantic non-cognitivism. However, another form of opposition to semantic realism accepts that semantic judgements express beliefs but asserts that those beliefs are systematically and uniformly false.2 This cognitivist form of opposition to semantic realism is similar to the error-theoretic form of opposition to moral realism mooted by J.L. Mackie in the first chapter of his Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (Mackie 1977). In this paper I will investigate whether there is a plausible analogue of Mackie’s “argument from queerness” that can be used to make a case for an error-theory of semantic judgement. In §2 I set out what I take to be Mackie’s argument from queerness against moral realism. In §3 I argue that there is no straightforward and plausible analogue of that argument that would justify an error theory about ascriptions of meaning. In §4 and §5 I defend the argument of §3 against an objection developed in a recent paper by Daniel Whiting. (shrink)
Many philosophers think that moral objectivism is supported by stable features of moral discourse and thinking. When engaged in moral reasoning and discourse, people behave ‘as if’ objectivism were correct, and the seemingly most straightforward way of making sense of this is to assume that objectivism is correct; this is how we think that such behavior is explained in paradigmatically objectivist domains. By comparison, relativist, error-theoretic or non-cognitivist accounts of this behavior seem contrived and ad hoc. After explaining why this (...) argument should be taken seriously (recent arguments notwithstanding), I argue that it is nevertheless undermined by considerations of moral disagreement. Even if the metaphysical, epistemic and semantic commitments of objectivism provide little or no evidence against it, and even if the alternative explanations of ‘objectivist’ traits of moral discourse and thinking are speculative or contrived, objectivism is itself incapable of making straightforward sense of these traits. Deep and widespread moral disagreement or, rather, the mere appearance of such disagreement, strongly suggests that the explanations operative in paradigmatically objective discourse fail to carry over to the moral case. Since objectivism, no less than relativism, non-cognitivism and error-theories, needs non-trivial explanations of why we behave ‘as if’ objectivism were correct, such behavior does not presently provide reason to accept objectivism. (shrink)
This paper is a reply to Simon Blackburn's 'Is Objective Moral Justification Possible on a Quasi-realist Foundation?' Inquiry 42 (1999), pp. 213-28. Blackburn attempts to show how his version of non-cognitivism - quasi-realist projectivism - can evade the threat of ethical relativism, the thought that all ways of living are as ethically good as each other and every ethical judgment is as ethically true as any other. He further attempts to show that his position is superior in this (...) respect to, amongst other accounts, sensibility theory (or 'secondary quality' theory). According to Blackburn, sensibility theory succumbs easily to the relativistic challenge because it depends on some 'substantive' notion of truth. It is agreed with Blackburn that the threat of relativism is less of a threat to him than at first appears, although I think that it retains some menace, but not agreed that sensibility theorists cannot also counter the threat of relativism (although, again, ethical relativism retains some menace in the face of the sensibility theorist's reply). The point is that the threat of ethical relativism depends less on truth than Blackburn supposes. Thus sensibility theorists can counter ethical relativism in much the same way that quasi-realist projectivists can. (shrink)
We argue that Parfit's "Triviality Objection" against some naturalistic views of normativity is not compelling. We think that once one accepts, as one should, that identity statements can be informative in virtue of their pragmatics and not only in virtue of their semantics, Parfit's case against naturalism can be overcome.
Michael Smith has recently argued that non-cognitivists are unable to accommodate crucial structural features of moral belief, and in particular that non-cognitivists have trouble accounting for subjects' certitude with respect to their moral beliefs. James Lenman and Michael Ridge have independently constructed 'ecumenical' versions of non-cognitivism, intended to block this objection. We argue that these responses do not work. If ecumenical non-cognitivism, a hybrid view which incorporates both non-cognitivist and cognitivist elements, fails to meet Smith's challenge, it is (...) unlikely that 'purer' and more familiar versions of non-cognitivism will succeed. (shrink)
The main aim of this thesis is to defend moral realism. In chapter 1, I argue that moral realism is best understood as the view that (1) moral sentences have truth-value (cognitivism), (2) there are moral properties that make some moral sentences true (success-theory), and (3) moral properties are not reducible to non-moral properties (non-reductionism). Realism is contrasted with non-cognitivism, error-theory and reductionism, which, in brief, deny (1), (2) and (3), respectively. In the introductory chapter, it is also argued (...) that there are some prima facie reasons to assume that non-cognitivism and error-theory are erroneous. In chapters 2 and 3, I suggest that the two main forms of reductionism, analytic and synthetic reductionism, are mistaken. In chapter 4, I argue that the considerations in the previous chapters in relation to non-cognitivism, error-theory and reductionism provide support to moral realism. It is also suggested that these considerations make it plausible to hypothesise that moral properties depend on non-moral properties in a way I refer to as ‘the realist formula’. The realist formula confirms moral realism since it implies that moral properties are not reducible to non-moral properties. In chapters 5, 6 and 7, I argue that moral realism, much owing to the realist formula, is able to explain significant meta-ethical issues regarding moral disagreement, moral reason and moral motivation. Among other things, externalism concerning moral motivation is defended. The explanatory value of moral realism in relation to these meta-ethical issues is taken to suggest that this view is preferable to non-cognitivism, error-theory and reductionism. Some of the meta-ethical issues discussed in these chapters, particularly moral disagreement and motivation, have been thought to provide support to non-cognitivism and error-theory. I maintain that since realism, unlike reductionism, is able to counter these arguments, it justifies us in upholding the view that moral sentences have truth-value and the view that there are moral properties. In chapter 8, various objections against realism with regard to the dependence of moral properties on non-moral properties are responded to. In chapter 9, I consider an influential argument to the effect that moral properties are not involved in causal explanations. I maintain that this argument fails and that it therefore is reasonable to assume that moral properties are natural properties. However, the discussions in chapters 8 and 9 also suggest that moral realism might face problems that cannot be thoroughly discussed in this thesis. (shrink)
The emotions were a neglected topic in philosophy twenty or so years ago, but things have now changed. It is now appreciated how important it is to understand the emotions as an independent aspect of our mental economy – one that has to be properly taken into account in any worthwhile philosophising in ethics or moral psychology, in epistemology, in aesthetics, and generally in philosophical issues surrounding value and how the mind engages with value in the world. There is now (...) a wide range of philosophical theories of emotion 'on the market', and whilst this Guide and the related Article are not the place to argue for one or the other of these, anyone working in areas which overlap with emotion research ought to be aware of what these theories are, and ought to consider what the implications of their own views are in order not to be committed to an ultimately untenable account of the emotions, and of their place in our lives. Author Recommends Ronald de Sousa, The Rationality of Emotion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987). This is a classic, full of fascinating insights. Best not read straight through; use it selectively, depending on where your research is going. Robert Solomon, The Passions: Emotions and the Meaning of Life (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1976). Another classic. Solomon was one of the pioneers to resurrect emotion to its rightful place in philosophy. Solomon was greatly influenced by the existentialists, and he argued not only that emotions are rational, but also that we choose our emotions. Since then, Solomon has nuanced his position considerably, but this early work merits close study. Robert Solomon, ed., Thinking about Feeling: Contemporary Philosophers on Emotion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). This collection contains 17 chapters on emotion from contemporary philosophers, plus an Introduction by Solomon. It gives an excellent feeling for the central issues in the current debates. John Deigh, 'Cognitivism in the Theory of Emotions', Ethics 104 (1994): 824–54. Deigh argues for a cognitive theory of the emotions, and considers how such a theory can accommodate emotions in non-human animals and in babies. William James, 'What is an Emotion?', Mind 9 (1884): 188–205. This article, and the related (and later) discussion in his The Principles of Psychology (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981, ch. 25), has had an enormous influence on psychologists, and on philosophers who argue for various versions of non-cognitivism in the emotions. It merits reading in the original. Robert Zajonc, 'On the Primacy of Affect', American Psychologist 39 (1984): 117–23. This article, 100 years after James, has also been enormously influential on non-cognitivists. Jesse Prinz, Gut Reactions: A Perceptual Theory of Emotion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). Prinz is one of the proponents of non-cognitivism, and the influence of James and Zajonc will be clear. Peter Goldie, 'Emotion', Philosophy Compass 2/6 (2007): 928–38, doi: [DOI link]. My own survey of the current literature. Online Materials: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/emotion/ de Sousa on Emotion in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy: An excellent survey of the current literature. Sample Syllabus: Week 1: Cognitive-rationalist theories of emotion R. Solomon, 'The Rationality of emotions', Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 8 (1977): 105–14. G. Taylor, 'Justifying the Emotions', Mind 84 (1975): 390–402. M. Nussbaum, 'Emotions as Judgements of Value and Importance', in Thinking about Feeling, ed. R. Solomon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 183–99. Week 2: Non-cognitive feeling theories of emotion W. James, 'What is an Emotion?', Mind 9 (1884): 188–205. J. Prinz, 'Embodied Appraisals', in Thinking about Feeling, ed. R. Solomon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 44–60. Week 3: Perceptual and sui generis theories of emotion Robert Roberts, Emotion: An Aid in Moral Psychology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), ch. 2, sections 2.1–2.4. Ronald de Sousa, The Rationality of Emotion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987), ch. 6. Peter Goldie, The Emotions: A Philosophical Exploration (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), ch. 3. Week 4: Expression of emotion Michael Smith, 'The Humean Theory of Motivation', Mind 96 (1987): 36–61. Rosalind Hursthouse, 'Arational Actions', Journal of Philosophy 88 (1991): 57–68. Peter Goldie, The Emotions: A Philosophical Exploration (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), ch. 5. Week 5: Emotional sincerity and authenticity Mikko Salmela, "What is Emotional Authenticity?", Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 35.3 (2005): 209–39. David Pugmire, Sound Sentiments (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), ch. 2 and 7 especially. Week 6: Morality and the emotions A. J. Ayer, 'Critique of Ethics and Theology', Language, Truth and Logic (London: Penguin, 1936), chapter VI. Bernard Williams, 'Morality and the Emotions', Problems of the Self (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 207–229. Simon Blackburn, Spreading the Word (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), chapter 6. Focus Questions1. What element of truth is there in the idea that emotions are judgements? How can such a theory allow for the possibility of conflict between emotion and judgement?2. James argues that feelings are essential to emotion: no feeling, then no emotion. How does a non-cognitive theory of emotion seek to account for this, and is such a theory the only way of doing so?3. Roberts argues that emotions are a kind of perception (a concern-based construal); de Sousa argues rather that there is only an analogy between emotion and perception and that emotion is an irreducible psychological category; Goldie argues that emotional feelings are sui generis'feelings towards'. How might one decide which of these more accurately captures the nature of emotion?4. Hursthouse argues that our expressions of emotion (kicking the chair in anger for example) are arational. What are her arguments for this, and are they sound?5. We often speak of someone's anger, for example, as not being sincere, or of her generosity as not being authentic. What do these claims mean, and how are the notions of sincerity and authenticity of emotion related conceptually?6. What is the role of emotion in our moral thought and talk? (shrink)
Geach's problem, the problem of accounting for the fact that judgements expressed using moral terms function logically like other judgements, stands in the way of most noncognitive analyses of moral judgements. The non-cognitivist must offer a plausible interpretation of such terms when they appear in conditionals that also explains their logical interaction with straightforward moral assertions. Blackburn and Gibbard have offered a series of accounts each of which interprets such conditionals as expressing higher order commitments. Each then invokes norms for (...) the coherent acceptance of attitudes to explain why we hold certain combinations inconsistent. Against these accounts the paper presses two related objections: (1) The norms needed to do the explanatory work cannot be strong enough to do that work without also ruling clearly consistent attitudes inconsistent. And (2), the norms of rational attitude acceptance do not neatly track the distinction between consistent and inconsistent attitudes. (shrink)
In his 1982 book Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, Saul Kripke develops a famous argument that purports to show that there are no facts about what we mean by the expressions of our language: ascriptions of meaning, such as “Jones means addition by ‘+’” or Smith means green by ‘green’”, are according to Kripke’s Wittgenstein neither true nor false. Kripke’s Wittgenstein thus argues for a form of non-factualism about ascriptions of meaning: ascriptions of meaning do not purport to state (...) facts. Define semantic realism to be the view that ascriptions of meaning are apt to be assessed in terms of truth and falsity, and are, at least in some instances, true. Semantic realism, thus defined, is a form of cognitivism about semantic judgement, according to which judgements ascribing meaning express beliefs, states apt for assessment in terms of truth and falsity. Kripke’s Wittgenstein thus argues against semantic realism, and in favour of a form of semantic non-cognitivism.1 En route to semantic non-cognitivism, Kripke’s Wittgenstein argues against dispositionalist theories of meaning, which hold something roughly along the lines of the following: Jones means magpie by “magpie” if and only if Jones is disposed to apply “magpie” to magpies in ideal conditions (where the ideal conditions can be specified in terms that don’t presuppose the notion of meaning, and are such that in those conditions Jones applies “magpie” to a thing if and only if that thing is a magpie). (shrink)