Traditional inflationary approaches that specify the nature of truth are attractive in certain ways; yet, while many of these theories successfully explain why propositions in certain domains of discourse are true, they fail to adequately specify the nature of truth because they run up against counterexamples when attempting to generalize across all domains. One popular consequence is skepticism about the efficaciousness of inﬂationary approaches altogether. Yet, by recognizing that the failure to explain the truth of disparate propositions often stems from (...) inflationary approaches' allegiance to alethic monism, pluralist approaches are able to avoid this explanatory inadequacy and the resulting skepticism, though at the cost of inviting other conceptual difficulties. A novel approach, alethic functionalism, attempts to circumvent the problems faced by pluralist approaches while preserving their main insights. Unfortunately, it too generates additional problems---namely, with its suspect appropriation of the multiple realizability paradigm and its platitude-based strategy---that need to be dissolved before it can constitute an adequate inflationary approach to the nature of truth. (shrink)
This is a concise and readable study of five intertwined themes at the heart of Wittgenstein's thought, written by one of his most eminent interpreters. David Pears offers penetrating investigations and lucid explications of some of the most influential and yet puzzling writings of twentieth-century philosophy. He focuses on the idea of language as a picture of the world; the phenomenon of linguistic regularity; the famous "private language argument"; logical necessity; and ego and the self.
One increasingly popular technique in philosophy might be called the "platitudes analysis": a set of widely accepted claims about a given subject matter are collected, adjustments are made to the body of claims, and this is taken to specify a “role” for the phenomenon in question. (Perhaps the best-known example is analytic functionalism about mental states, where platitudes about belief, desire, intention etc. are together taken to give us a "role" for states to fill if they are to count as (...) mental states.) We then look to our best theory of the world to see where this role is satisfied, if at all. Unfortunately, the platitudes analysis, so characterised, does not seem to help when we are doing fundamental metaphysics—when we want to know what, at base, our world is like (and not merely where things like e.g. the mental would be found in an already-specified ontology). Nevertheless, I will argue that the platitudes analysis, properly understood, does have the materials to help us answer questions in fundamental metaphysics as well. I will explore three different ways it can do so. (shrink)
We present a strategy to dissolve semantic paradoxes which proceeds from an explanation of why paradoxical sentences or their definitions are semantically defective. This explanation is compatible with the acceptability of impredicative definitions, self-referential sentences and semantically closed languages and leaves the status of the so-called truth-teller sentence unaffected. It is based on platitudes which encode innocuous constraints on successful definition and successful expression of propositional content. We show that the construction of liar paradoxes and of certain versions of Curry’s (...) paradox rests on presuppositions that violate these innocuous constraints. Other versions of Curry’s paradox are shown not to be paradoxical at all once their presuppositions are made explicit. Part of what we say rehearses a proposal originally made by Laurence Goldstein in 1985. Like Goldstein we dispose of certain paradoxes by rejecting some of the premises from which they must be taken to proceed. However, we disagree with his more recent view that the premises to be rejected are neither true nor false. (shrink)
The article considers some of the methodological commitments - specifically, what Brandom calls Gadamerian platitudes - defended in Tales of the Mighty Dead . I argue that, given his commitment to Gadamers model of dialogue and Vorgriff der Vollkommenheit (anticipation of completeness), Brandom should also accept Habermas position on the ineliminability of the second-person or performative perspective concerning our interpretive claims. Key Words: first person Hans Georg Gadamer Jürgen Habermas hermeneutics inferential semantics performative pragmatics (...) second person third person. (shrink)
We have looked at worries about expressivism and other forms of noncognitivism. The externalist solution may also seem to be a solution of last resort, because it may seem to deny the platitude that moral judgments are motivationally efficacious. For this reason, we might look seriously at rationalist theories of moral motivation, because they promise to represent moral judgments as intrinsically motivational without giving up cognitivism.
It is now a platitude that sexual objectification is wrong. As is often pointed out, however, some objectification seems morally permissible and even quite appealing—as when lovers are so inflamed by passion that they temporarily fail to attend to the complexity and humanity of their partners. Some, such as Nussbaum, have argued that what renders objectification benign is the right sort of relationship between the participants; symmetry, mutuality, and intimacy render objectification less troubling. On this line of thought, pornography, (...) prostitution, and some kinds of casual sex are inherently morally suspect. I argue against this view: what matters is simply respect for autonomy, and whether the objectification is consensual. Intimacy, I explain, can make objectification more morally worrisome rather than less, and symmetry and mutuality are not relevant. The proper political and social context, however, is crucial, since only in its presence can consent be genuine. I defend the consent account against the objection that there is something paradoxical in consenting to objectification, and I conclude that given the right background conditions, there is nothing wrong with anonymous, one-sided, or just-for-pleasure kinds of sexual objectification. (shrink)
One thing nearly all epistemologists agree upon is that Gettier cases are decisive counterexamples to the tripartite analysis of knowledge; whatever else is true of knowledge, it is not merely belief that is both justified and true. They now agree that knowledge is not justified true belief because this is consistent with there being too much luck present in the cases, and that knowledge excludes such luck. This is to endorse what has become known as the 'anti-luck platitude'. <br (...) /><br />But what if generations of philosophers have been mistaken about this, blinded at least partially by a deeply entrenched professional bias? There has been another, albeit minority, response to Gettier: to deny that the cases are counterexamples at all. <br /><br />Stephen Hetherington, a principal and vocal proponent of this view, advances what he calls the 'Knowing Luckily Proposal'. If Hetherington is correct, this would call for a major re-evaluation and re-orientation of post-Gettier analytic epistemology, since much of it assumes the anti-luck platitude both in elucidating the concept of knowledge, and in the application of such accounts to central philosophical problems. It is therefore imperative that the Knowing Luckily Proposal be considered and evaluated in detail. <br /><br />In this paper I critically assess the Knowing Luckily Proposal. I argue that while it draws our attention to certain important features of knowledge, ultimately it fails, and the anti-luck platitude emerges unscathed. Whatever else is true of knowledge, therefore, it is non-lucky true belief. For a proposition to count as knowledge, we cannot arrive at its truth accidentally or for the wrong reason. (shrink)
Perceptual experiences justify beliefs—that much seems obvious. As Brewer puts it, “sense experiential states provide reasons for empirical beliefs” (this volume, xx). In Mind and World McDowell argues that we can get from this apparent platitude to the controversial claim that perceptual experiences have conceptual content: [W]e can coherently credit experiences with rational relations to judgement and belief, but only if we take it that spontaneity is already implicated in receptivity; that is, only if we take it that experiences (...) have conceptual content. (1994, 162) Brewer agrees. Their view is sometimes called conceptualism; nonconceptualism is the rival position, that experiences have nonconceptual content. One initial obstacle is understanding what the issue is. What is conceptual content, and how is it different from nonconceptual content? Section 1 of this paper explains two versions of each of the rival positions: state (non)conceptualism and content (non)conceptualism; the latter pair is the locus of the relevant dispute. Two prominent arguments for content nonconceptualism—the richness argument and the continuity argument—both fail (section 2). McDowell’s and Brewer’s epistemological defenses of content conceptualism are also faulty (section 3). Section 4 gives a more simple-minded case for conceptualism; finally, some reasons are given for rejecting the claim—on one natural interpretation—that experiences justify beliefs. (shrink)
I sketch a new constraint on chance, which connects chance ascriptions closely with ascriptions of ability, and more specifically with ‘can’-claims. This connection between chance and ability has some claim to be a platitude; moreover, it exposes the debate over deterministic chance to the extensive literature on (in)compatibilism about free will. The upshot is that a prima facie case for the tenability of deterministic chance can be made. But the main thrust of the paper is to draw attention to (...) the connection between the truth conditions of sentences involving ‘can’ and ‘chance’, and argue for the context sensitivity of each term. Awareness of this context sensitivity has consequences for the evaluation of particular philosophical arguments for (in)compatibilism when they are presented in particular contexts. (shrink)
In reworking a variety of biological concepts, Developmental Systems Theory (DST) has made frequent use of parity of reasoning. We have done this to show, for instance, that factors that have similar sorts of impact on a developing organism tend nevertheless to be invested with quite different causal importance. We have made similar arguments about evolutionary processes. Together, these analyses have allowed DST not only to cut through some age-old muddles about the nature of development, but also to effect a (...) long-delayed reintegration of development into evolutionary theory. Our penchant for causal symmetry, however (or 'causal democracy', as it has recently been termed), has sometimes been misunderstood. This paper shows that causal symmetry is neither a platitude about multiple influences nor a denial of useful distinctions, but a powerful way of exposing hidden assumptions and opening up traditional formulations to fruitful change. (shrink)
According to Normativism, linguistic meaning is intrinsically normative (I shall explore what this amounts to below). One, though not the only, reason for Normativism’s importance is that it bears on the prospects of providing an account of meaning in the terms available to the natural sciences. In turn, since linguistic behaviour is inextricably bound up with both non linguistic behaviour and the psychological attitudes informing it, Normativism might (if true) pose a serious challenge to the project of accommodating creatures such (...) as ourselves within the worldview the natural sciences afford. In this paper, I shall not focus on such heady themes but rather on the prior issue of whether or not one should accept Normativism. Though certainly in circulation beforehand, it is fair to say that Saul Kripke’s (1982) was largely responsible for bringing the thesis to the philosophical forefront.1 In the years following its publication, Normativism looked close to achieving the status of orthodoxy. At one stage, Crispin Wright felt able to remark assuredly that the view ‘strike[s] most people now as a harmless platitude’ (1993: 247).2 In recent years. (shrink)
That truth provides the standard for believing appears to be a platitude, one which dovetails with the idea that in some sense belief aims only at the truth. In recent years, however, an increasing number of prominent philosophers have suggested that knowledge provides the standard for believing, and so that belief aims only at knowledge. In this paper, I examine the considerations which have been put forward in support of this suggestion, considerations relating to lottery beliefs, Moorean beliefs, the (...) criticism and defence of belief, and the value of knowledge. I argue that those considerations do not give us reason to give up the truth view in favour of the knowledge view and, moreover, that reflection on those considerations gives us some reason to reject the knowledge view. Thus, I conclude, we can continue to the take the apparent platitude at face value. (shrink)
It is a platitude that whereas language is mediated by convention, depiction is mediated by resemblance. But this platitude may be attacked on the grounds that resemblance is either insufficient for or incidental to depictive representation. I defend common sense from this attack by using Grice's analysis of meaning to specify the non-incidental role of resemblance in depictive representation.
In a 2002 paper for this journal, Richard Joyce presents three new arguments against the Divine Command Theory. In this comment, I attempt to show that each of these arguments is either unpersuasive or uninteresting. Two of Joyce’s arguments are unpersuasive because they rely on an implausible principle or an implausible claim about what counts as a platitude governing use of the term “wrong.” Joyce’s other argument is uninteresting because it is persuasive only if Joyce’s formulation of the Euthyphro (...) Problem is persuasive. However, Joyce argues that the Euthyphro Problem is not persuasive. Therefore, if Joyce is correct about this, then his own objection to the Divine Command Theory is not persuasive either. (shrink)
All sorts of things are context-dependent in one way or another. What it is appropriate to wear, to give, or to reveal depends on the context. Whether or not it is all right to lie, harm, or even kill depends on the context. If you google the phrase ‘depends on the context’, you’ll get several hundred million results. This chapter aims to narrow that down. In this context the topic is context dependence in language and its use. It is commonly (...) observed that the same sentence can be used to convey different things in different contexts. That is why people complain when something they say is ‘taken out of context’ and insist that it be ‘put into context’, because ‘context makes it clear’ what they meant. Indeed, it is practically a platitude that what a speaker means in uttering a certain sentence, as well as how her audience understands her, ‘depends on the context’. But just what does that amount to, and to what extent is it true? (shrink)
It is a platitude in epistemology to say that knowledge excludes luck. Indeed, if one can show that an epistemological theory allows ‘lucky’ knowledge, then that usually suffices to warrant one in straightforwardly rejecting the view. Even despite the prevalence of this intuition, however, very few commentators have explored what it means to say that knowledge is incompatible with luck. In particular, no commentator, so far as I am aware, has offered an account of what luck is and on (...) this basis identified what it means for a true belief to be non-lucky. It is just such a view that I propose, however, and I hope to give a flavour of what this strategy involves here. In particular, I have two goals in this paper. The first is to outline the general contours of the position and show how such a view can account for the attraction of adducing a safety condition on knowledge, with all the epistemic benefits that this principle holds. Relatedly, I will also explain how an anti-luck epistemology can assist us in determining the best formulation of this principle. The second goal of the paper is to show anti-luck epistemology in action by highlighting how such a view can deal with the various problems posed by lottery-style examples. (shrink)
The possibilities of depicting non-existents, depicting non-particulars and depictive misrepresentation are frequently cited as grounds for denying the platitude that depiction is mediated by resemblance. I first argue that these problems are really a manifestation of the more general problem of intentionality. I then show how there is a plausible solution to the general problem of intentionality which is consonant with the platitude.
This paper argues for a possible worlds theory of the content of pictures, with three complications: depictive content is centred, two-dimensional and structured. The paper argues that this theory supports a strong analogy between depictive and other kinds of representation and the platitude that depiction is mediated by resemblance.
A platitude questioned by many Buddhist thinkers in India and Tibet is the existence of the world. We might be tempted to insert some modifier here, such as “substantial,” “self-existent,” or “intrinsically existent,” for, one might argue, these thinkers did not want to question the existence of the world tout court but only that of a substantial, self-existent, or otherwise suitably qualified world. But perhaps these modifiers are not as important as is generally thought, for the understanding of the (...) world questioned is very much the understanding of the world everybody has. It is the understanding that there is a world out there —independent of our minds — and that when we speak and think about this world we mostly get it right. But the Madhyamaka thinkers under discussion here deny that there is a world out there and claim that our opinions about it are to the greatest part fundamentally and dangerously wrong. (shrink)
By defining both depictive and linguistic representation as kinds of symbol system, Nelson Goodman attempts to undermine the platitude that, whereas linguistic representation is mediated by convention, depiction is mediated by resemblance. I argue that Goodman is right to draw a strong analogy between the two kinds of representation, but wrong to draw the counterintuitive conclusion that depiction is not mediated by resemblance.
There is a long tradition of thinking of language as conventional in its nature, dating back at least to Aristotle De Interpretatione ). By appealing to the role of conventions, it is thought, we can distinguish linguistic signs, the meaningful use of words, from mere natural ‘signs’. During the last century the thesis that language is essentially conventional has played a central role within philosophy of language, and has even been called a platitude (Lewis 1969). More recently, the focus (...) has been less on the conventional nature of language than on the claim that meaning is essentially normative in a wider sense, leaving it open whether the normativity in question should be understood in terms of conventions or not (Kripke 1982). (shrink)
Once upon a time it was assumed that speaking literally and directly is the norm and that speaking nonliterally or indirectly is the exception. The assumption was that normally what a speaker means can be read off of the meaning of the sentence he utters, and that departures from this, if not uncommon, are at least easily distinguished from normal utterances and explainable along Gricean lines. The departures were thought to be limited to obvious cases like figurative speech and conversational (...) implicature. However, people have come to appreciate that the meaning of a typical sentence, at least one we are at all likely to use, is impoverished, at least relative to what we are likely to mean in uttering it. In other words, what a speaker normally means in uttering a sentence, even without speaking figuratively or obliquely, is an enriched version of what could be predicted from the meaning of the sentence alone. This can be because the sentence expresses a “minimal” (or “skeletal”) proposition or even because it fails to express a complete proposition at all.1 Indeed, it is now a platitude that linguistic meaning generally underdetermines speaker meaning. That is, generally what a speaker means in uttering a sentence, even if the sentence is devoid of ambiguity, vagueness, or indexicality, goes beyond what the sentence means. The question is what to make of this Contextualist Platitude, as I’ll call it. It may be a truism, but does it require a radical revision of the older conception of the relation between what sentences mean and what speakers mean in uttering them? Does it lead to a major modification, or perhaps even outright rejection, of the semantic-pragmatic distinction? I think.. (shrink)
The last few decades have witnessed the birth and growth of both virtue epistemology and the situationist challenge to virtue ethics. It seems only natural that eventually we would see the situationist challenge to virtue epistemology. This article articulates one aspect of that new challenge by spelling out an argument against the responsibilist brand of virtue epistemology. The trouble can be framed as an inconsistent triad: (non-skepticism) many people know quite a bit; (responsibilism) knowledge is true belief acquired and retained (...) through the exercise of intellectual virtue; (epistemic situationism) most people do not possess the intellectual virtues countenanced by responsibilism. Non-skepticism is a Moorean platitude we should aim to preserve at most if not all costs. I muster evidence from cognitive and social psychology to argue for epistemic situationism. If my argument is correct, responsibilism must be revised or rejected, and reliabilists should avoid incorporating responsibilist components into their theories. (shrink)
Here is the liar paradox. We have a sentence, (L), which somehow says of itself that it is false. Suppose (L) is true. Then things are as (L) says they are. (For it would appear to be a mere platitude that if a sentence is true, then things are as the sentence says they are.) (L) says that (L) is false. So, (L) is false. Since the supposition that (L) is true leads to contradiction, we can assert that (L) (...) is false. But since this is just what (L) says, (L) is then true. (For it would appear to be a mere platitude that if things are as a given sentence says they are, the sentence is true.) So (L) is true. So (L) is both true and false. Contradiction. (shrink)
Anti-luck epistemology is an approach to analyzing knowledge that takes as a starting point the widely-held assumption that knowledge must exclude luck. Call this the anti-luck platitude. As Duncan Pritchard (2005) has suggested, there are three stages constituent of anti-luck epistemology, each which specifies a different philosophical requirement: these stages call for us to first give an account of luck; second, specify the sense in which knowledge is incompatible with luck; and finally, show what conditions must be satisfied in (...) order to block the kind of luck with which knowledge was argued to be incompatible. What Iâll show here is that the modal account of luck offers a plausible story at the first stage and leads naturally to equally plausible lines to take at the second and third stages, at which a safety condition on knowledge is squarely motivated. There are, however, recent challengesâadvanced by Jonathan Kvanvig (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 77: 272â281, 2008); Kelly Becker (2007); and Jennifer Lackey (Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86(2):255â267, 2008), among othersâto the plausibility of the safety-based anti-luck project Iâve sketched here at each of its three stages of development. Once Iâve made precise the challenges, Iâll show why none implies that we abandon the commitments of the safety-based anti-luck project at any of its stages. What we should conclude, then, is that a safety-condition on knowledge is motivated by independently defensible accounts of (1) what luck is; and (2) just how knowledge should be thought incompatible with it. (shrink)
Robustness is a common platitude: hypotheses are better supported with evidence generated by multiple techniques that rely on different background assumptions. Robustness has been put to numerous epistemic tasks, including the demarcation of artifacts from real entities, countering the “experimenter’s regress,” and resolving evidential discordance. Despite the frequency of appeals to robustness, the notion itself has received scant critique. Arguments based on robustness can give incorrect conclusions. More worrying is that although robustness may be valuable in ideal evidential circumstances (...) (i.e., when evidence is concordant), often when a variety of evidence is available from multiple techniques, the evidence is discordant. †To contact the author, please write to: Jacob Stegenga, Department of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
Informational semantics were first developed as an interpretation of the model-theory of substructural (and especially relevant) logics. In this paper we argue that such a semantics is of independent value and that it should be considered as a genuine alternative explication of the notion of logical consequence alongside the traditional model-theoretical and the proof-theoretical accounts. Our starting point is the content-nonexpansion platitude which stipulates that an argument is valid iff the content of the conclusion does not exceed the combined (...) content of the premises. We show that this basic platitude can be used to characterise the extension of classical as well as non-classical consequence relations. The distinctive trait of an informational semantics is that truth-conditions are replaced by information-conditions. The latter leads to an inversion of the usual order of explanation: Considerations about logical discrimination (how finely propositions are individuated) are conceptually prior to considerations about deductive strength. Because this allows us to bypass considerations about truth, an informational semantics provides an attractive and metaphysically unencumbered account of logical consequence, non-classical logics, logical rivalry and pluralism about logical consequence. (shrink)
It is a platitude that morality is normative, but a substantive and interesting question whether morality is normative in a robust and important way; and although it is often assumed that morality is indeed robustly normative, that view is by no means uncontroversial, and a compelling argument for it is conspicuously lacking. In this paper, I provide such an argument. I argue, based on plausible claims about the relationship between moral wrongs and moral criticizability, and the relationship between criticizability (...) and normative reasons, that moral facts necessarily confer normative reasons upon moral agents. (shrink)
At the start of Convention (1969) Lewis says that it is "a platitude that language is ruled by convention" and that he proposes to give us "an analysis of convention in its full generality, including tacit convention not created by agreement." Almost no clause, however, of Lewis's analysis has withstood the barrage of counter examples over the years,1 and a glance at the big dictionary suggests why, for there are a dozen different senses listed there. Left unfettered, convention wanders (...) freely from conventional wisdom through conventional medicine, conventions of art and "conventions of morality" to conventions of bidding in bridge.2 Surely it is unwise to try to fell these all with a single stone. Lewis's original goal, however, pursued further in (Lewis 1975), was to describe the conventionality of language, and this may be a more reasonable target. (shrink)
It seems to be a platitude of common sense that distinct ordinary things cannot coincide, that they cannot ﬁt into the same place nor be composed of the same parts at the same time. The paradoxes of coincidence are instances of a breakdown of this platitude in light of counter-examples that are licensed by innocuous assumptions about particular sorts of ordinary thing. Since both the anti-coincidence principle and the assumptions driving the counterexamples ﬂow from the folk conception of (...) ordinary things, the paradoxes threaten this conception with inconsistency. (shrink)
The senses, or sensory modalities, constitute the different ways we have of perceiving the world, such as seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. But how many senses are there? How many could there be? What makes the senses different? What interaction takes place between the senses? This book is a guide to thinking about these questions. Together with an extensive introduction to the topic, the book contains the key classic papers on this subject together with nine newly commissioned essays. -/- (...) One reason that these questions are important is that we are receiving a huge influx of new information from the sciences that challenges some traditional philosophical views about the senses. This information needs to be incorporated into our view of the senses and perception. Can we do this whilst retaining our pre-existing concepts of the senses and of perception or do we need to revise our concepts? If they need to be revised, then in what way should that be done? Research in diverse areas, such as the nature of human perception, varieties of non-human animal perception, the interaction between different sensory modalities, perceptual disorders, and possible treatments for them, calls into question the platitude that there are five senses, as well as the pre-supposition that we know what we are counting when we count them as five (or more). -/- This book will serve as an inspiring introduction to the topic and as a basis from which further new research will grow. -/- This volume is the first on the philosophy of the non-visual senses. -/- It combines older, hard-to-find essays on the non-visual senses with contemporary essays by well-known philosophers in the field. -/- Macpherson's introduction to the volume traces the philosophy of the senses throughout history and points towards new directions in its future. -/- Readership: The market will be scholars in philosophy of mind, as well as students particularly in graduate seminars. (shrink)
In reply to Geach's objection against expressivism, some have claimed that there is a plurality of truth predicates. I raise a difficulty for this claim: valid inferences can involve sentences assessable by any truth predicate, corresponding to 'lightweight' truth as well as to 'heavyweight' truth. To account for this, some unique truth predicate must apply to all sentences that can appear in inferences. Mixed inferences remind us of a central platitude about truth: truth is what is preserved in valid (...) inferences. The question is why we should postulate truth predicates that do not satisfy this platitude. (shrink)
In matters of distributive justice, we assume that it is important how benefits and burdens are distributed among different people. But what, precisely, is important about this? In particular, what, from the point of view of justice, is ultimately at stake in what distributions come about? T. M. Scanlon has been coy about what his contractualist moral theory might imply for justice.[ii] Yet his conception of morality bears directly on this question of stakes. The significance of distribution then depends (...) on independently valuable relations of recognition. Distribution has no fundamental importance per se. This in turn has significant implications for how philosophical reasoning about justice in distribution must proceed. In recent years, many egalitarians (e.g. many luck egalitarians) have proceeded as though a distribution (of goods, resources, opportunities, capabilities, or welfare) can be just (or fair) by its very nature, in and of itself. The basic aim of the theory of distributive justice is to say what this intrinsically just distribution is (equality? priority for the worse off? everyone having enough? something else?).[iii] What is ultimately at stake in matters of distributive justice, it is suggested, is whether or not a certain intrinsically valuable distributional pattern comes about. Scanlon’s theory implies that this cannot be right: a distribution, taken as such, cannot be owed, and so cannot be justice. Or at least this follows given the platitude about justice, due to Aristotle, that justice is, by nature, giving each his or her due.[iv] The platitude tells us that to distribute justly is simply to give to each individual what he or she is due or owed, as determined by an independent conception of what this is. According to Scanlon’s independent conception of “what we owe to each other,” no individual can be owed a distribution across persons, as such. We are at most each owed our respective shares—only what we can reasonably ask for on our own behalf.. (shrink)
It’s a platitude that a picture is realistic to the degree to which it resembles what it represents (in relevant respects). But if properties are abundant and degrees of resemblance are proportions of properties in common, then the degree of resemblance between different particulars is constant (or undefined), which is inconsonant with the platitude. This paper argues this problem should be resolved by revising the analysis of degrees of resemblance in terms of proportion of properties in common, and (...) not by accepting a sparse theory of properties or by denying that degree of realism is degree of resemblance (in relevant respects). (shrink)
It is taken to be platitude that I can be responsible only for my own actions. Many have taken this to entail the slogan that responsibility presupposes personal identity. In this paper, I show that even if we grant the platitude, the slogan is not entailed and is at any rate false. I then suggest what the relevant non-identity relation grounding the ownership of actions consists in instead.
Despite the platitude that analytic philosophy is deeply concerned with language, philosophers of science have paid little attention to methodological issues that arise within historical linguistics. I broach this topic by arguing that many inferences in historical linguistics conform to Reichenbach's common cause principle (CCP). Although the scope of CCP is narrower than many have thought, inferences about the genealogies of languages are particularly apt for reconstruction using CCP. Quantitative approaches to language comparison are readily understood as methods for (...) detecting the correlations that serve as premises for common cause inferences, and potential sources of error in historical linguistics correspond to well-known limitations of CCP. (shrink)
The claim that conceptual systems change is a platitude. That our conceptual systems are theory-laden is no less platitudinous. Given evolutionary theory, biologists are led to divide up the living world into genes, organisms, species, etc. in a particular way. No theory-neutral individuation of individuals or partitioning of these individuals into natural kinds is possible. Parallel observations should hold for philosophical theories about scientific theories. In this paper I summarize a theory of scientific change which I set out in (...) considerable detail in a book that I shall publish in the near future. Just as few scientists were willing to entertain the view that species evolve in the absence of a mechanism capable of explaining this change, so philosophers should be just as reticent about accepting a parallel view of conceptual systems in science evolving in the absence of a mechanism to explain this evolution. In this paper I set out such a mechanism. One reason that this task has seemed so formidable in the past is that we have all construed conceptual systems inappropriately. If we are to understand the evolution of conceptual systems in science, we must interpret them as forming lineages related by descent. In my theory, the notion of a family resemblance is taken literally, not metaphorically. In my book, I set out data to show that the mechanism which I propose is actually operative. In this paper, such data is assumed. (shrink)
The idea that logic and reasoning are somehow related goes back to antiquity. It clearly underlies much of the work in logic, as witnessed by the development of computability, and formal and mechanical deductive systems, for example. On the other hand, a platitude is that logic is the study of correct reasoning; and reasoning is cognitive if anything Is. Thus, the relationship between logic, computation, and correct reasoning makes an interesting and historically central case study for mechanism. The purpose (...) of this article is to begin the articulation of this relationship, pointing out its sources and its limitations. (shrink)
According to Jackson, Pettit & Smith (2000), “restricted particularism” is not affected by their supervenience-based consideration against particularism but, they claim, suffer from a different difficulty, roughly that it would violate the platitude about moral argument that, in debating controversial moral issues, a central role is played by various similarity claims. I present a defense of “restricted particularism” from this objection, which accommodates the platitudinous character of the claim that ordinary participants in conversations concerning the evaluative are committed to (...) descriptive similarities and differences being relevant in the way described by Jackson, Pettit and Smith, to moral similarities and differences. My defense exploits a presuppositional component congenial to response-dependent proposals such as Lewis’s (1989). (shrink)
Moral particularism, on some interpretations, is committed to a shapeless thesis: the moral is shapeless with respect to the natural. (Call this version of moral particularism ‘shapeless moral particularism’). In more detail, the shapeless thesis is that the actions a moral concept or predicate can be correctly applied to have no natural commonality (or shape) amongst them. Jackson, Smith and Pettit (2000) argue, however, that the shapeless thesis violates the platitude ‘predication supervenes on nature’—predicates or concepts apply because of (...) how things are, and therefore ought to be rejected. I defend shapeless moral particularism by arguing that Jackson et al’s contention is less compelling than it firstly appears. My defense is limited in the sense that it does not prove shapeless moral particularism to be right and it leaves open the possibility that shapeless moral particularism might attract criticisms different from the ones advanced by Jackson et al. But at the very least, I hope to say enough to undermine Jackson et al’s powerful attack against it. The plan of this paper is as follows. Section 1 glosses the view of moral particularism and why it is taken to be essentially committed to the shapeless thesis. Section 2 examines a Wittgensteinian argument for the shapeless thesis. I shall argue that the Canberrans’ counter-arguments against it on grounds of disjunctive commonality and conceptual competence do not succeed. Section 3 explicates Canberrans’ predication supervenience argument against the shapeless thesis. Section 4 offers my criticisms of the Canberrans’ predication supervenience argument. In view of the above discussions, in section 5, I conclude that there is no compelling argument (from the Canberrans) to believe that the shapeless thesis fails (as I have argued in section 4). In fact, there is some good reason for us to believe it (as I have argued in section 2). If so, I contend that moral particularism, when construed as essentially committed to the shapeless thesis, still remains as a live option. -/- . (shrink)
Traditional theories of truth – such as the correspondence theory – are monist in character. All propositions, regardless of subject-matter, are true in the same way (if true). Recently, this view has been called into question by alethic pluralists (most notably Crispin Wright and Michael Lynch). According to the pluralist, the nature of truth varies across domains. Pluralists try to motivate their position by appealing to the following principle: for any domains D1 and D2, if the metaphysical constitutions of respectively (...) D1 and D2 differ, then D1-propositions and D2-propositions are true in different ways (if true). The aim of the paper isto present a monist challenge to this principle. The gist of the challenge is this: even if metaphysical pluralism (i.e. the antecedent) is granted, truth can be given a uniform account within a correspondence framework. The basic argument is this: every domain that the alethic pluralist is interested in is truth-apt. But any domain that deals in truth-apt propositions likewise deals in facts – after all, it seems a mere platitude that facts are what makes propositions true (if true). Once facts are admitted, the monist can argue as follows: a proposition is true if, and only if, it corresponds to reality. Now, a proposition corresponds to reality if, and only if, it represents reality correctly – and a proposition represents reality correctly if, and only if, what is says is a fact, or is the case. However, since the notion of fact is available for any truth-apt domain, a proposition – whatever its (truth-apt) domain – can be taken to be true if, and only if, it corresponds to reality. Thus, metaphysical pluralism does not imply alethic pluralism. (shrink)
Since we explain behavior by ascribing intentional states to the agent, many philosophers have assumed that some guiding principle of folk psychology like [Intentional States and Actions] must be true. [Intentional States and Actions]: If A and B are different actions, then the agents performing them must differ in their intentional states at the time they are performed. Recent results in the physiology of vision present a prima facie problem for this principle. These results show that some visual information that (...) guides spatial manipulation and fine motor control is unavailable for verbal report. Plausibly, this information is not consciously available to the agent, and as such, not available to inform the content of intentional states. Thus, it is hard to see how every difference in action is subject to intentional explanation, as [Intentional States and Actions] requires. I articulate the prima facie problem and argue that the most plausible solution requires us to reject [Intentional States and Actions]. (shrink)
Consider the platitude, ?all people are basically (i.e. emotionally) the same?. How would we know? Observing people in a culture very different from our own, it would seem that we have to presuppose some such universality, just in order to understand them, but then we beg the very thesis in question. This essay considers one case study of other people's emotions, a study of Eskimos in Jean L. Briggs's Never in Anger. The problems surrounding the method of ?empathy? are (...) discussed and an alternative methodology suggested for cross?cultural observation of emotions which are not subject to these problems. (shrink)
This paper responds to a claim by Christopher Hookway, that Fumerton’s Principle of Inferential Justification (PIJ) is a platitude, and that skeptical arguments that deploy it depend essentially on a substantive thesis about the nature of epistemic kinds. This paper argues that, contrary to Hookway, the thesis about epistemic kinds is not necessary to generate skeptical results, and PIJ is sufficient to do so.
In philosophy, it is almost a platitude to argue that fact and value intertwine. However, in empirically oriented educational research, it is not. Hence, there is some affinity between logical positivism, which is no longer tenable in philosophy, and empirically based contemporary educational research in terms of assumptions each makes about “the given.” In this essay, Koichiro Misawa casts light on how fact and value intertwine by invoking the notion of “second nature” that John McDowell has reanimated. This will (...) in turn prompt us to see the relation between nature and nurture, as well as between mind and world, quite differently and to discern two senses of “the given”: one is illusory; the other educational. Misawa concludes that the philosophy of education should and can take the lead in forming rigorous interdisciplinary studies of the human future with a certain sensitivity to the tight and complex interweaving between the empirical and the conceptual, or between the factual and the normative. (shrink)
I argue that Moorean theories of value have a difficult time accommodating the resonance requirement, that is, the platitude that we should value what’s valuable, while a sophisticated reflective endorsement theory of value and the resonance requirement are perfectly consistent. To this extent, a sophisticated reflective endorsement theory has a significant advantage over the Moorean approach. The reflective endorsement theory that I endorse emphasizes systematic exposure to possible sources of satisfaction, as well as a similarity principle of practical rationality.
There is one truth, but many truths: i.e., one unambiguous, non-relative truth-concept, but many and various propositions that are true. One truth-concept: to say that a proposition is true is to say (not that anyone, or everyone, believes it, but) that things are as it says; but many truths: particular empirical claims, scientific theories, historical propositions, mathematical theorems, logical principles, textual interpretations, statements about what a person wants or believes or intends, about grammatical and legal rules, etc., etc. But, as (...) Frank Ramsey once said, “There is no platitude so obvious that eminent philosophers have not denied it”; and as soon as you ask why anyone would deny that there is one truth-concept, or that there are many true propositions, it becomes apparent that my initial, simple formula disguises many complexities. (shrink)
Author of "Truth of analytic statements in a radically empiricist theory of meaning" answers to a critical essay written by Maciej Witek. He clarifies the metaphysical assumptions and implications of proposed conception, dealing with such issues as: sense/reference distinction; methodological versus realistic approach to theory of meaning; inferential/causal relations among meaningful items; mental aspect of meanings. Next, he makes explicit a view on the concept of truth to which this theory is committed. In addition, he formulates ways of sociolinguistic operationalization (...) of concepts of 'platitude' and 'meaning'. (shrink)
All humans have an equal basic moral status. They possess the same fundamental rights, and the comparable interests of each person should count the same in calculations that determine social policy. Neither supposed racial differences, nor skin color, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, intelligence, nor any other differences among humans negate their fundamental equal worth and dignity. These platitudes are virtually universally affirmed. A white supremacist racist or an admirer of Adolf Hitler who denies them is rightly regarded as beyond the (...) pale of civilized dialogue.2 However, a very simple line of argument developed by Peter Singer challenges our understanding of these platitudes and forces us to rethink the basis and nature of the moral equality of all humans.3 One might try to explain the equal moral status of humans by appeal to our common humanity—all humans are all equally human, after all. But mere species membership is not a sufficient basis for picking out some beings as entitled to greater moral consideration than other beings. If we were to encounter alien beings from another planet, something that looks like green slime but engages in complex behaviors, we would not be justified in failing to extend respectful treatment to the aliens merely on the ground that they belong to another species. If they proved to be like humans in morally relevant respects, then they should be treated the same as humans. Very roughly speaking, if the aliens showed a capacity for rational, autonomous agency, we would be required to include them within the scope of our moral principles. This thought experiment suggests a justification for our current practice of according all and only human beings a special moral status and relegating all nonhuman animals to a lower moral status. There is some intellectual capacity or set of intellectual capacities, call it X, that entitles the possessor of X to treatment as an equal member of the class of persons, to whom special moral principles apply.. (shrink)
Gödel argued that intuition has an important role to play in mathematical epistemology, and despite the infamy of his own position, this opinion still has much to recommend it. Intuitions and folk platitudes play a central role in philosophical enquiry too, and have recently been elevated to a central position in one project for understanding philosophical methodology: the so-called ‘Canberra Plan’. This philosophical role for intuitions suggests an analogous epistemology for some fundamental parts of mathematics, which casts a number of (...) themes in recent philosophy of mathematics (concerning a priority and fictionalism, for example) in revealing new light. (shrink)
My comments have two parts. I begin by laying out the argument that seems to me to be at the core of Olson’s thinking about human persons; and I suggest a problem with his reasons for accepting one of its premises. The premise is warranted by its platitudinous or commonsensical status; but Olson’s arguments lead him to conclusions that undermine the family of platitudes to which it belongs. Then I’ll raise a question about how Olson should construe the vagueness that (...) would seem to infect the boundaries of human animals. (shrink)
What is true and what is not depends upon how the world is: that there are no white ravens is true because there are no white ravens. That much, Trenton Merricks accepts. But he denies that principles about truthmaking can do any heavy lifting in metaphysics, and he provides powerful, sophisticated arguments for this denial. The hunt for individual truthmakers for specific truths is doomed once we consider negative existentials, and, on the other side of that coin, universal claims. But (...) the weaker claim that truth supervenes upon being either collapses into the platitudes about dependence that even Merricks accepts, or else collapses into the fruitless search for individual truthmakers. The reasoning is complex, yet elegant and clear, and from now on anyone wishing to use truthmaker principles to establish substantive positions in metaphysics will need to grapple with this critique. (shrink)
There seems to be a prevailing belief among public relations professionals that ethical problems can easily be solved by either reference to a simplified code or citation of a few well-worn platitudes. However, the route to a more complete understanding of questions of ethics is circuitous and often painstaking. By applying a number of ethical theories to a public relations problem, both the skilled public relations technician and the public relations professional may arrive at similar conclusions concerning moral obligations; however, (...) the professional is in the most favorable position to effect change. (shrink)
There is an apparent tension between two familiar platitudes about the meaning of life: (i) that 'meaning' in this context means 'value', and (ii) that such meaning might be ineffable. I suggest a way of trying to bring these two claims together by focusing on an ideal of a meaningful life that fuses both the axiological and semantic senses of 'significant'. This in turn allows for the possibility that the full significance of a life might be ineffable not because its (...) axiological significance is ineffable, but because its semantic significance is ineffable in virtue of the signification relation itself being unsignifiable. I then explore to what degree this claim about signification can be adequately defended. (shrink)
In the first part of this paper, I discuss the different kinds of objectivity; general and legal objectivity more specifically. In the second part, I endeavour to explain the two main views that have been advanced to answer four core questions on legal objectivity. The first is whether moral and legal values are objective. Second, what is the nature of the relationship between legal and moral values? The third is whether, due to the specific nature of law, we should consider (...) a domainspecific conception of objectivity for legal values. The fourth concerns whether there is a correspondence between legal values and legal facts. What is the explanation of the platitudes about the nature of law such as that law is reasongiving, normative or authoritative in character? In other words, do legal facts have a place in our 'disenchanted' or naturalistic (in the scientific sense) understanding of the world. In the final section of this paper, I evaluate naturalism and nonnaturalism in law and consider the future of the debate and its relevance for understanding the connection between law, morality and legal normativity. (shrink)
Contextualists about knowledge ascriptions perceive an analogy between the semantics they posit for “know(s)” and the semantics of comparative terms like “tall” and “flat”. Jason Stanley has recently raised a number of objections to this view. This paper offers a response by way of an alternative analogy with modified comparatives, which resolves most of Stanley’s objections. Rather than being ad hoc, this new analogy in fact fits better with platitudes about knowledge and facilitates a better understanding of the semantics of (...) gradability, such that an explanation of most of Stanley’s disanalogies becomes available. In addition, I argue that there are reasons to doubt Stanley’s claim that “knows(s)” cannot switch its content within a discourse, due to what may happen when we ascribe knowledge of more than one proposition. (shrink)
Marian David defends the correspondence theory of truth against the disquotational theory of truth, its current major rival. The correspondence theory asserts that truth is a philosophically rich and profound notion in need of serious explanation. Disquotationalists offer a radically deflationary account inspired by Tarski and propagated by Quine and others. They reject the correspondence theory, insist truth is anemic, and advance an "anti-theory" of truth that is essentially a collection of platitudes: "Snow is white" is true if and only (...) if snow is white; "Grass is green" is true if and only if grass is green. According to disquotationalists the only profound insight about truth is that it lacks profundity. David contrasts the correspondence theory with disquotationalism and then develops the latter position in rich detail--more than has been available in previous literature--to show its faults. He demonstrates that disquotationalism is not a tenable theory of truth, as it has too many absurd consequences. (shrink)
What happens to a person in a case of ﬁssion? Does it survive? Does it go out of existence? Or is the outcome indeterminate? Since each description of ﬁssion based on the persistence conditions associated with our ordinary concept of a person seems to clash with one or more platitudes of common sense about the spatiotemporal proﬁle of macroscopic objects, ﬁssion threatens the common-sense conception of persons with inconsistency. Standard responses to this paradox agree that the common-sense conception of persons (...) is unstable, diﬀering over which part of the conception requires revision. I will show that this entrenched view of ﬁssion is not compulsory. I will develop a solution to the paradox that maintains the consistency of the common-sense conception of persons on the basis of an ontology of persons and other ordinary objects as double-layered compounds. Each of various descriptions of the outcome of personal ﬁssion is compatible with principles about the spatiotemporal proﬁle of persons, because the descriptions and the principles manifest diﬀerent perspectives on persons and are made true or false by diﬀerent ontological components of the latter. What holds for the ﬁssion of persons, holds for the ﬁssion of other kinds of objects. (shrink)
Frank Jackson often writes as if his descriptivist account of public language meanings were just plain common sense. How else are we to explain how different speakers manage to communicate using a public language? And how else can we explain how individuals arrive at confident judgments about the reference of their words in hypothetical scenarios? Our aim in this paper is to show just how controversial the psychological assumptions behind in Jackson’s semantic theory really are. First, we explain how Jackson’s (...) theory goes well beyond the commonsense platitudes he cites in its defence. Second, we sketch an alternative explanation of those platitudes, the jazz model of meaning, which we argue is more psychologically realistic. We conclude that the psychological picture presupposed by Jackson’s semantic theory stands in need of a much more substantial defence than he has so far offered. (shrink)
Context: The current situation in philosophy of science includes central, ongoing debates about realism and anti-realism. The same question has been central to the theorising of radical constructivism and, in particular, to its implications for educational theory. However the constructivist literature does not make significant contact with the most important, mainstream philosophical discussions. Problem: Despite its overwhelming influence among educationalists, I suggest that the “radical constructivism” of Ernst Glasersfeld is an example of fashionable but thoroughly problematic doctrines that can have (...) little benefit for practical pedagogy or teacher education. My critique has a positive goal: it is important to understand why constructivism has generated such severe polarization and disputation. A symptom of the problem is the concern with the most abstruse and obdurate problems of philosophy that have no conceivable bearing on educational practice or anything else, for that matter. The diagnosis is confirmed by those pedagogical recommendations that are allegedly derived from radical constructivism that are touted as revolutionary but are platitudes of common sense. I suggest that, ironically, this observation itself provides some pedagogical insight. Method: The approach adopted for the topic is critical, philosophical analysis of the various claims and theses of radical constructivism in the light of philosophy of science and psychology. Results: The findings of the paper are that central theoretical claims of constructivism are couched in an unclear and unnecessary jargon that obscures the implausibility or banality of these claims. Implications: The value of the paper lies in providing an analysis and critique of central, influential claims of radical constructivism both in relation to issues in epistemology and also in relation to the alleged bearing of these claims on pedagogy. It is suggested that, contrary to the claims of radical constructivists, there are few if any implications for practice and applications. (shrink)
The epistemic state of complete ignorance is not a probability distribution. In it, we assign the same, unique, ignorance degree of belief to any contingent outcome and each of its contingent, disjunctive parts. That this is the appropriate way to represent complete ignorance is established by two instruments, each individually strong enough to identify this state. They are the principle of indifference (PI) and the notion that ignorance is invariant under certain redescriptions of the outcome space, here developed into the (...) ‘principle of invariance of ignorance' (PII). Both instruments are so innocuous as almost to be platitudes. Yet the literature in probabilistic epistemology has misdiagnosed them as paradoxical or defective since they generate inconsistencies when conjoined with the assumption that an epistemic state must be a probability distribution. To underscore the need to drop this assumption, I express PII in its most defensible form as relating symmetric descriptions and show that paradoxes still arise if we assume the ignorance state to be a probability distribution. *Received February 2007; revised July 2007. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
What words mean plays a role in determining when they would be true; but not an exhaustive one. For that role leaves room for variation in truth conditions, with meanings fixed, from one speaking of words to another. What role meaning plays depends on what truth is; on what words, by virtue of meaning what they do are requied to have done (as spoken) in order to have said what is true. There is a deflationist position on what truth is: (...) the notion is exhausted by a given, specified, mass of 'platitudes', each to the effect that if words said (say) things to be thus, things must be that way. (The thought that thus-and-so is true iff thus-and-so.) These platitudes, and so deflationism, miss that aspect of truth that determines meaning's role. Truth requires words to have the uses which, given what they mean, they should have in the circumstances of their speaking. Through this link with use, when words would be true is a factor fixing what it is they said. (shrink)
In his book Tales of the Mighty Dead Brandom engages Gadamer’s hermeneutic conception of interpretation in order to show that his inferentialist approach to understanding conceptual content can explain and underwrite the main theses of Gadamer’s hermeneutics which he calls ‘the gadamerian hermeneutic platitudes’. In order to assess whether this claim is sound, I analyze the three types of philosophical interpretations that Brandom discusses: de re, de dicto, and de traditione, and argue that they commit him to an ‘ecumenical historicism’ (...) that is directly at odds with the hermeneutic approach. Although the variety of de re interpretation that Brandom denominates de traditione comes indeed very close to the Gadamerian approach, I conclude that if Brandomian scorekeepers were to adopt it, they could become Gadamerian hermeneuts, but once they did, they would not be able to go back to their scorekeeping practices as described by Brandom. (shrink)
This paper explores the possibility that causal decision theory can be formulated in terms of probabilities of conditionals. It is argued that a generalized Stalnaker semantics in combination with an underlying branching time structure not only provides the basis for a plausible account of the semantics of indicative conditionals, but also that the resulting conditionals have properties that make them well-suited as a basis for formulating causal decision theory. Decision theory (at least if we omit the frills) is not an (...) esoteric science, however unfamiliar it may seem to an outsider. Rather it is a systematic exposition of the consequences of certain well-chosen platitudes about belief, desire, preference and choice. It is the very core of our common-sense theory of persons, dissected out and elegantly systematized. (David Lewis, Synthese 23:331–344, 1974, p. 337). A small distortion in the analysis of the conditional may create spurious problems with the analysis of other concepts. So if the facts about usage favor one among a number of subtly different theories, it may be important to determine which one it is. (Robert Stalnaker, A Defense of Conditional Excluded Middle, pp. 87–104, 1980, p. 87). (shrink)
Michael Williams believes that scepticism about the externalworld seems compelling only because the considerations that underpin it are thoughtto be ``mere platitudes'''' about e.g., the nature and source of human knowledge, and hence,that if it shown through a ``theoretical diagnosis'''' that it does not rest upon suchplatitudes, but contentious theoretical considerations that we are no means bound toaccept, we can simply dismiss the absurd sceptical conclusion. Williams argues thatscepticism does presuppose two extremely contentious doctrines, however, he admits thatif (...) these doctrines are themselves motivated by ``platitudes'''' then scepticism follows. Iaddress Williams''s arguments for thinking scepticism must presuppose these doctrines,and argue that he overlooks a way that they can be seen as motivated by mere platitudes.Thus, I conclude that William''s novel rejection of scepticism fails. (shrink)
According to Wrights minimalism, a notion of truth neutral with respect to realism and antirealism can be built out of the notion of warranted assertibility and a set of a priori platitudes among which the Equivalence Schema has a prominent role. Wright believes that the debate about realism and antirealism will be properly and fruitfully developed if both parties accept the conceptual framework of minimalism. In this paper, I show that this conceptual framework commits the minimalist to the realist thesis (...) that there are mind-independent propositions; with the consequence that minimalism is not neutral to realism and antirealism. I suggest that Wright could avert this conclusion if he rejected the customary interpretation of the Equivalence Schema according to which this Schema applies to propositions. This would however render minimalism unpalatable to philosophers who welcome the traditional reading of the Equivalence Schema and believe that propositions are bearers of truth. (shrink)
This paper continues the work begun by Crispin Wright of identifying, articulating, and explaining the relations between various realist-relevant axes that emerge when it is conceded that any predicate capable of satisfying a small range of platitudes is syntactically and semantically adequate to count as a truth predicate for a discourse. I argue that the fact that a given discourse satisfies the three realist-relevant axes that remain if evidence-transcendent truth and reference to evidence-transcendent facts are ruled out by Dummettian meaning-theoretic (...) considerations is not sufficient for what I have elsewhere called “modest metaphysical realism.” I conclude that mind-independence marks yet another realist-relevant axis and explore the relationships between the proposed mind-independence axis and the realist-relevant axes identified by Wright. (shrink)
Revisionary ontologists are making a comeback. Quasi-nihilists, like Peter van Inwagen and Trenton Merricks, insist that the only composite objects that exist are living things. Unrestriced universalists, like W.V.O. Quine, David Lewis, Mark Heller, and Hud Hudson, insist that any collection of objects composes something, no matter how scattered over time and space they may be. And there are more besides.1 The result, says Eli Hirsch, is that many commonsense judgments about the existence or identity of highly visible physical objects (...) are a priori necessarily false. In a “last ditch effort” to bring revisionary ontologists back to their senses, Hirsch marshalls what he calls the Argument from Charity.2 We can be sure that there are tables and chairs and that there are no fusions of Plato’s nose and the Eiffel Tower, says Hirsch, because these commonsense platitudes are a logical consequence of the well-known principle of interpretive charity applied to natural languages, like English. In what follows, I assess the Argument from Charity. My conclusion is that if this is the best we can do to save revisionary ontologists, they are surely lost forever. (shrink)
Crispin Wright champions the notion of superassertibility as providing a truth predicate that is congenial to antirealists in many debates in that it satisfies relevant platitudes concerning truth and does so in a very minimal way. He motivates such a claim by arguing that superassertibility can satisfy the equivalence schema: it is superassertible that P if and only if P. I argue that Wright’s attempted proof that superassertibility can satisfy this schema is unsuccessful, because it requires a premise that has (...) not been properly motivated and is prima facie implausible. I further argue that, even if the dubious premise is accepted, the resulting proof is intuitionistically invalid. This is problematic, because a proponent of superassertibility as a truth predicate has independent reasons to affect a logical revision in the direction of intuitionism. The resulting dilemma suggests that superassertibility may not be an adequate truth candidate for any significant ranges of discourse. (shrink)
Implication barrier theses deny that one can derive sentences of one type from sentences of another. Hume’s Law is an implication barrier thesis; it denies that one can derive an ‘ought’ (a normative sentence) from an ‘is’ (a descriptive sentence). Though Hume’s Law is controversial, some barrier theses are philosophical platitudes; in his Lectures on Logical Atomism, Bertrand Russell claims: You can never arrive at a general proposition by inference particular propositions alone. You will always have to have at least (...) one general proposition in your premises. (Russell, 1918, p. 206) We will refer to this claim—that one cannot derive general sentences from particular sentences—as Russell’s Law.1 A third barrier thesis claims that one cannot derive sentences about the future from sentences about the past or present. Hume’s endorsement of this barrier thesis is well-known: all inferences from experience suppose, as their foundation, that the future will resemble the past . . . if there be any suspicion that the course of nature may change, and that the past may be no rule for the future, all experience becomes useless, and can give rise to no inference or conclusion. It is impossible, therefore, that any argument from experience can prove this resemblance of the past to the future; since all these arguments are founded on the supposition of that resemblance. (Hume, EHU 4.21/37) We will refer to this barrier thesis as Hume’s Second Law. A fourth barrier thesis says that one cannot derive a necessary sentence from one about the actual world and we will refer to this last thesis Kant’s Law. Such implication barrier theses present a problem. (shrink)
Theories about value struggles with the problem how toaccount for the motivational force inherent to value judgments. Whereasthe exact role of motivation in evaluation is the subject of somecontroversy, it’s arguably a truism that value has something to do withmotivation. In this paper, I suggest that given that the role of motivationin ethical theory is left quite unspecific by the “truisms” or “platitudes”governing evaluative concepts, a scientific understanding of motivationcan provide a rich source of clues for how we might go (...) about developingan empirically responsible theory of value. More specifically, I argue that naturalist hedonists should be eager to join forces with motivational science: the role of pleasure in themotivational system is such that a sound case for hedonism can be builton it. (shrink)
This thesis addresses the problem of the analysis of knowledge. The persistent failure of analyses of knowledge in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions is used to motivate exploring alternative approaches to the analytical problem. In parallel to a similar development in the theory of truth, in which the persistent failure to provide a satisfactory answer to the question as to what the nature of truth is has led to the exploration of deflationary and minimalist approaches to the theory of (...) truth, the prospects for deflationary and minimalist approaches to the theory of knowledge are investigated. While it is argued that deflationary approaches are ultimately unsatisfactory, a minimalist approach to epistemology, which characterises the concept of knowledge by a set of platitudes about knowledge, is defended. The first version of a minimalist framework for the theory of knowledge is developed. Two more substantive developments of the minimalist framework are discussed. In the first development a safety condition on knowledge is derived from the minimalist framework. Problems for this development are discussed and solved. In the second development, an ability condition is derived from the minimalist framework. Reason is provided to believe that, arguably, the ability condition can avoid the problems that beset traditional analyses of knowledge. It is also shown that even if this argument fails, minimalist approaches to epistemology may serve to provide a functional definition of knowledge. Reason is thus provided to believe that minimalist approaches to epistemology can make progress towards addressing the problem of the analysis of knowledge. (shrink)
To move beyond vague platitudes about the importance of context in legal reasoning or natural language understanding, one must take account of ideas from artiﬁcial intelligence on how to represent context formally. Work on topics like prior probabilities, the theory-ladenness of observation, encyclopedic knowledge for disambiguation in language translation and pathology test diagnosis has produced a body of knowledge on how to represent context in artiﬁcial intelligence applications.
Despite the fact that most of us value integrity, and despite the fact that we readily understand one another when we talk and argue about it, integrity remains elusive to understand. Considerable scholarly attention has left troubling disagreement on fundamental issues: Is integrity in fact a virtue? If it is, what is it a virtue of? Why exactly should we value integrity? What is the appropriate way to have concern for one’s own integrity? Is having integrity compatible with having significant (...) moral flaws? After an overview of common ‘data points’ or platitudes concerning integrity, this article outlines six distinct views of integrity that have been defended and draws attention to problems each has accommodating these data points. (shrink)
It is popularly believed within sport's practice communities that a contest fails if the competitor who performs most skilfully in it does not win. The belief is rarely acknowledged explicitly, and therefore deserves to be considered ideological in a sense. In this paper I challenge that belief. For conceptual reasons, I confine the discussion to the purposive sports, e.g. football and tennis. The concept of skill is approached by articulation of a set of platitudes about skill in the purposive sports. (...) The first is the conceptual wedge between skill and success. The second is the distinction between skill and other performance-relevant qualities such as courage, strength and luck. The third is the fact that skill deficits can be compensated by sufficient amounts of the other performance relevant qualities. The fourth is the dispositional and dynamic character of skill. The relation between skill and final objectives in the purposive sports means that (i) qualities such as nerve and courage can trump the more skilful performance; and (ii) poor execution of a narrow range of skills can result in the competitive failure of the more skilful performance. There is no viable ideal of sport that would ground regret about the realisation of the immediately preceding possibilities. The inclination towards such regret might be partly motivated by the wish to take a gratifying view of ourselves. An end to this response, and a more inclusive, less hierarchical conception of sport skills, is worth recommending. (shrink)
This collection examines prevalent assumptions in moral reasoning which are often accepted uncritically in medical ethics. It introduces a range of perspectives from philosophy and medicine on the nature of moral reasoning and relates these to illustrative problems, such as New Reproductive Technologies, the treatment of sick children, the assessment of quality of life, genetics, involuntary psychiatric treatment and abortion. In each case, the contributors address the nature and worth of the moral theories involved in discussions of the relevant issues, (...) and focus on the types of reasoning which are employed. 'Medical ethics is in danger of becoming a subject kept afloat by a series of platitudes about respect for persons or the importance of autonomy. This book is a bold and imaginative attempt to break away from such rhetoric into genuine informative dialogue between philosophers and doctors, with no search after consensus.' Mary Warnock. (shrink)
entertainment and interest of Liberty’s readers, I intend to express in this article some conservative thoughts on the so called Woman Question. This I will do, not so much because of my desire to present my own views, but because it appears to me a good way of eliciting elaborate statement and clear explanation from those with whom I shall take the issue. The discussion (if such it may be called) of the Woman Question has so far been confined to (...) platitudes and trivial points, while it has been deemed one of the absolute requisites of an advanced, progressive, and liberal thinker to believe in equality of the sexes and to indulge in cheap talk about economic emancipation, equal rights, etc., of the “weaker sex.” Declining to repeat this talk in a parrot like fashion, I ask to be offered some solid arguments in support of the position which I now, with all my willingness, cannot consider well grounded. (shrink)
The author presents his own conception of semantic analyticity accounted for from a thoroughly empiricist perspective on (descriptive) meaning. This conception includes the following theses. Meanings as entities constituted in social interactions should be investigated empirically by sociolinguistic methods. Each meaning is determined by a cluster of platitudes, i.e. sentences held as true or known in a given form by all (or almost all) competent language users. Each such sentence can be equivalently expressed in a form of conditional inference, or (...) just possess this form. All these inferences are held, by competent language users, as connected to others, thus building a global semantic space. A sentence is accepted as meaningful only if it is inferentially connected to other sentences so that together they, at least hypothetically, relate to some determinate experiences. Hence all meaningful sentences are a posteriori true. Analyticity/syntheticity of proposition is relative to a degree and scope of being accepted or known in a given form of sentence expressing it. Evidently analyticity/syntheticity is a psycho-social matter. Sufficient degree of analyticity is called 'platitudiness'. Analytic/synthetic distinction comes in degrees, is not strict, and a sentence's being analytic/synthetic may change over time. There are many cases in which we cannot determine whether a sentence is more analytic than synthetic, or conversely. (shrink)
In this collection of reflections, Osho’s inspiring and loving stories go far beyond the usual chicken-soup fare. Life, Love, Laughter establishes a new genre of reflective and inspirational text stripped of all platitudes and cliche;s, and absolutely in tune with the realities of the 21st century. In this artful work, Osho mixes entertainment and inspiration, ancient Zen stories and contemporary jokes to help us to find love, laughter, and ultimately, happiness. Life, Love, Laughter includes an original talk by Osho on (...) DVD. This visual component enables the reader to experience the direct wisdom and humor of Osho straight from the source. (shrink)
Rational beings pursue and value truth (the true, along with the good and the beautiful). Intellectual conduct is to be judged, accordingly, by how well it aids our pursuit of that ideal. I ask whether these platitudes mean, and whether they are true.