A common view about Moore’s Proof of an ExternalWorld is that the argument fails because anyone who had doubts about its conclusion could not use the argument to rationally overcome those doubts. I agree that Moore’s Proof is—in that sense—dialectically ineffective at convincing an opponent or a doubter, but I defend that the argument (even when individuated taking into consideration the purpose of Moore’s arguing and, consequently, the preferred addressee of the Proof) does not (...) fail. The key to my defence is to conceive the Proof as addressed to subjects with a different epistemic condition. To sustain this view I formulate some hypothesis about the common general purpose of arguing and I defend that it can be fulfilled even when the addressee of an argument is not someone who disbelieves or doubts its conclusion. (shrink)
Moore’s proof consists of the inference of both “Two hands exist at this moment” and “At least two external objects exist at this moment” from the premise “Here is one hand and here is another.” The paper claims that the proof succeeds in refuting both idealism (“There are no external objects”) and skepticism (“Nobody knows that there are external objects”). The paper defends Moore’s proof against the following objections: Idealism does not deny that there (...) is an externalworld so Moore’s proof is beside the point; Moore may be mistaken about the premise; Moore has failed to prove the premise; Moore has failed to show how he knows the premise; the proof leads to an infinite regress; the proof begs the question because the premise assumes what needs to be proved; the premise depends upon a shaky inference; the premise rests upon evidence of the senses and thus begs the question; the proof fails to convince the skeptic. (shrink)
Moore's proof of an externalworld is a piece of reasoning whose premises, in context, are true and warranted and whose conclusion is perfectly acceptable, and yet immediately seems flawed. I argue that neither Wright's nor Pryor's readings of the proof can explain this paradox. Rather, one must take the proof as responding to a sceptical challenge to our right to claim to have warrant for our ordinary empirical beliefs, either for any particular empirical belief (...) we might have, or for belief in the existence of an externalworld itself. I show how Wright's and Pryor's positions are of interest when taken in connection with Humean scepticism, but that it is only linking it with Cartesian scepticism which can explain why the proof strikes us as an obvious failure. (shrink)
A critical discussion of selected chapters of the first volume of Scott Soames’s Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century. It is argued that this volume falls short of the minimal standards of scholarship appropriate to a work that advertises itself as a history, and, further, that Soames’s frequent heuristic simplifications and distortions, since they are only sporadically identified as such, are more likely confuse than to enlighten the student. These points are illustrated by reference to Soames’s discussions of Russell’s logical (...) system and the place of the theory of descriptions in his ontological development. It is then argued that Soames’s interpretation of the point of G.E. Moore’s famous “proof” of an externalworld, while not straightforwardly undermined by the textual evidence, is nonetheless questionable, and plausibly overlooks what is novel in Moore’s discussion. This, it is argued, in his attempt to offer a common sense “refutation of idealism”, rather than (as is more commonly supposed) an anti-skeptical argument “from differential certainty”. (shrink)
In Descartes's _Third Meditation, the mediator states that he may have unknown faculties that could cause his ideas of corporeal things. His proof of the externalworld in the _Sixth Meditation, however, clearly relies on the assumption that he does not have such unknown faculties. This paper examines Lex Newman's attempt to resolve this apparent inconsistency. I argue that the attempt is not altogether successful.
I argue that descartes' doubting of the externalworld does not rest on doubting the truth of clear and distinct ideas. in fact, he denies that we clearly and distinctly perceive the "existence" of material things. thus, their existence is not established through the validation of such ideas and we can understand why descartes' argument for their existence takes the form it does. i suggest that dreams lead him to conclude that the existence of material things is not (...) clearly perceived and to doubt their existence. (shrink)
This paper is a sympathetic critique of the argument that Reichenbach develops in Chap. 2 of Experience and Prediction for the thesis that sense experience justifies belief in the existence of an externalworld. After discussing his attack on the positivist theory of meaning, I describe the probability ideas that Reichenbach presents. I argue that Reichenbach begins with an argument grounded in the Law of Likelihood but that he then endorses a different argument that involves prior probabilities. I (...) try to show how this second step in Reichenbach's approach can be strengthened by using ideas that have been developed recently for understanding causation in terms of the idea of intervention. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophy is marked by a setting aside or dissolution of the traditional problems of modern philosophy. Thus the problem of our knowledge of the externalworld is widely believed to have been disposed of or dissolved by Wittgenstein and others. In this book, Bruce Aune challenges this assumption. In the first half of Knowledge of the ExternalWorld , Aune considers the history of the problem in the work of the great modern philosophers, Descartes, Locke, (...) Berkeley, Kant, and Mill. Then turning to current debates, he argues that the problem has re-emerged and that an entirely new approach is needed. By examining the attempted dissolutions, Aune shows that the fundamental problem remains as a serious intellectual issue: one concerning the nature of permissible experimental or `inductive' inference. To resolve this issue, he undertakes a revision of empiricist epistemology and the development of the required theory of inference. Knowledge of the ExternalWorld is an excellent historical systematic analysis of a central problem of philosophy and a fine introduction to the theory of knowledge. It will be essential reading for students of epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy. (shrink)
Shepard's approach is regarded as an attempt to rescue, within an evolutionary perspective, an empiricist theory of mind. Contrary to this, I argue that the structure of perceptual representations is essentially co-determined by internal aspects and cannot be understood if we confine our attention to the physical side of perception, however appropriately we have chosen our vocabulary for describing the externalworld. Furthermore, I argue that Kubovy and Epstein's “more modest interpretation” of Shepard's ideas on motion perception is (...) based on unjustified assumptions. [Kubovy & Epstein; Shepard]. (shrink)
In this paper, an argument of Alvin Plantinga's for the existence of abstract possible worlds is shown to be unsound. The argument is based on a principle Plantinga calls "Quasicompactness", due to its structural similarity to the notion of compactness in first-order logic. The principle is shown to be false.
Philosophy, from the earliest times, has made greater claims, and achieved fewer results, than any other branch of learning. In Our Knowledge of the ExternalWorld , Bertrand Russell illustrates instances where the claims of philosophers have been excessive, and examines why their achievements have not been greater.
The paralysis-by-analysis phenomenon, i.e., attending to the execution of one’s movement impairs performance, has gathered a lot of attention over recent years (see Wulf, 2007, for a review). Explanations of this phenomenon, e.g., the hypotheses of constrained action (Wulf and colleagues, e.g., McNevin et al., 2003) or of step-by-step execution (Beilock et al., 2002; Masters, 1992), however, do not refer to the level of underlying mechanisms on the level of sensorimotor control. For this purpose, a “nodal-point hypothesis” is presented here (...) with the core assumption that skilled motor behavior is internally based on sensorimotor chains of nodal points, that attending to intermediate nodal points leads to a muscular re-freezing of the motor system at exactly and exclusively these points in time, and that this re-freezing is accompanied by the disruption of compensatory processes, resulting in an overall decrease of motor performance. Two experiments, on lever sequencing and basketball free throws, respectively, are reported that successfully tested these time-referenced predictions, i.e., showing that muscular activity is selectively increased and compensatory variability selectively decreased at movement-related nodal points if these points are in the focus of attention. (shrink)
The present study investigated the enhancement effects of an external focus-of-attention (FOA) in the context of a manual-tracking task, in which participants tracked both visible and occluded targets. Three conditions were compared, which manipulated the distance of the FOA from the participant as well as the external/internal dimension. As expected, an external FOA resulted in lower tracking errors than an internal FOA. In addition, analyses of participants' movement patterns revealed a systematic shift toward higher-frequency movements in the (...)external FOA condition, consistent with the idea that an external FOA exploits the natural movement dynamics available during skilled action. Finally, target visibility did not influence the effect of focused attention on tracking performance, which provides evidence for the proposal that the mechanisms that underlie FOA do not depend directly on vision. (shrink)
In light of the complex notions ofidentity, this paper attempts to consider howto perceive the notion of world citizenship.The paper looks to discussions on the self andidentity; focusing on the writing of CharlesTaylor and Alasdair MacIntyre, with particularattention given to the notion of an integratedself.
The admissibility of Ackermann's rule γ is one of the most important problems in relevant logics. The admissibility of γ was first proved by an algebraic method. However, the development of Routley-Meyer semantics and metavaluational techniques makes it possible to prove the admissibility of γ using the method of normal models or the method using metavaluations, and the use of such methods is preferred. This paper discusses an algebraic proof of the admissibility of γ in relevant modal logics based (...) on modern algebraic models. (shrink)
Moore’s proof of an externalworld is a piece of reasoning whose premises, in context, are true and warranted and whose conclusion is perfectly acceptable, and yet immediately seems flawed. I argue that neither Wright’s nor Pryor’s readings of the proof can explain this paradox. Rather, one must take the proof as responding to a sceptical challenge to our right to claim to have warrant for our ordinary empirical beliefs, either for any particular empirical belief (...) we might have, or for belief in the existence of an externalworld itself. I show how Wright’s and Pryor’s positions are of interest when taken in connection with Humean scepticism, but that it is only linking it with Cartesian scepticism which can explain why the proof strikes us as an obvious failure. (shrink)
How does the mind attribute external causes to internal sensory experiences? Adam Smith addresses this question in his little known essay ‘Of the External Senses.’ I closely examine Smith's various formulations of this problem and then argue for an interpretation of his solution: that inborn perceptual mechanisms automatically generate external attributions of internal experiences. I conclude by speculating that these mechanisms are best understood to operate by simulating tactile environments.
Realism, defined as a justified belief in the existence of the externalworld, is jeopardized by ‘meaning rationalism,’ the classic theory of meaning that sees the extension of words as a function of the intensions of individual speakers, with no way to ensure that these intensions actually correspond to anything in the externalworld. To defend realism, Ruth Millikan ( 1984 , 1989a , b , 1993 , 2004 , 2005 ) offers a biological theory of (...) meaning called ‘teleosemantics’ in which words, without requiring any contribution from the speaker’s intensions, are supposedly matched directly with their extensions by external norms. But even if one granted as a theoretical possibility that word meaning might possibly be stabilized through an external process, nonetheless, realists who wish to appeal to teleosemantics for a semantic proof of the externalworld must be capable of identifying these external norms, something that Millikan describes as highly fallible. Furthermore, because they can be aware of these norms only as these are internally represented, it would also be necessary for realists to verify that these internal representations accurately reflect the norms as they occur in the externalworld. But given that this is virtually the same stumbling block to realism found in meaning rationalism, it is concluded that teleosemantics is not likely to restore faith in this worldview. (shrink)
The longstanding critical refrain that Virginia Woolf's fiction represents a turn "inward" to the vagaries of the inner life has more recently been countered with an "outward" approach emphasizing Woolf's interest in the material world, its everyday objects and their social and political significance. Yet one of the most curious and pervasive features of Woolf's oeuvre is that characters are so frequently wrong in their perceptions. This essay consolidates the inward and outward approaches by tracing the trope of misperception (...) in Woolf's fiction as well as in her conceptions of the work of author and reader. For Woolf, the modern literary experience derives from the nature of the faculties of perception, the tenuous points of connectionand disjunctionbetween the inner and the outer worlds. (shrink)
Recently, much work has been done on G.E. Moore's proof of an externalworld with the aim of diagnosing just where the Proof `goes wrong'. In the mainstream literature, the most widely discussed debate on this score stands between those who defend competing accounts of perceptual warrant known as dogmatism (i.e. Pryor and Davies) and conservativism (i.e. Wright). Each account implies a different verdict on Moore's Proof, though both share a commitment to supposing that an (...) examination of premise-conclusion dependence relations will sufficiently reveal what's wrong with the Proof. Parallel to this debate on Moore stands perhaps an equally interesting (though less discussed) debate within which the Proof is critiqued as it stands in the context of the skeptical debate. On this score, Michael Fara and Ernest Sosa have weighed in with a markedly different take on Moore's anti-skeptical ambitions and on the nature of skeptical challenges more generally. The aim of this paper will be to critically evaluate these two very distinct strands of recent work on Moore's Proof. Part I of the paper will focus on the mainstream debate, and in Part II of the paper, I'll focus on the parallel debate about skepticism. My critical discussion will be aimed throughout at showing how the various proposals I've taken as representative of these two parallel debates surrounding Moore's Proof ultimately fall short-each for different reasons-of what a satisfactory diagnosis of the Proof would require. (shrink)
The paper investigates the senses in which the world may be thought external, and argues that none of them supports doubt about the possibility of knowledge of the world. Scepticism sometimes depends on certain erroneous conceptions of perception, especially those which lead to belief in 'inner, representational states'. How we perceive things depends on the satisfaction of certain general conditions--on what concepts we have, on the kind of senses we have, and so on a kind of anthropocentricity; (...) but this does not prevent objectivity, even in the case of secondary qualities. (shrink)
Taking the individual human being as a point of reference, this paper examines the sustainability of oneself as a contribution to human society and the biosphere in an evolving world. The proactive role as inquirer/researcher alias designer leads to active inquiry and design of one's life with influential consequences on the lives of other human beings and planetary life forms. To sustain a tenable position between the constructive and destructive forces of contemporary existence, a conscientious and ethical stance becomes (...) central in one's self?understanding of life fulfillment and the pragmatic nature of one's actions in the world. (shrink)
The world appears causal in the sense that the result of a measurement may depend on the past history of the observed system, but not on what the experimenter will do with the system after the measurement. This raises the question whether noncausality at a macroscopic level would necessarily lead to an “unreasonable” world. The study of a model world with axiomatically well-specified properties shows that noncausal systems can be discussed in a logically consistent manner so that (...) noncausality might well exist in the real world as a weak, but so far overlooked, effect. (shrink)
A skeptic claims that I do not have knowledge of the externalworld. It has been thought that the skeptic reaches this conclusion because she employs unusually stringent standards for knowledge. But the skeptic does not employ unusually high standards for knowledge. Rather, she employs unusually restrictive standards of evidence. Thus, her claim that we lack knowledge of the externalworld is supported by considerations that would equally support the claim that we lack evidence for our (...) beliefs about the externalworld. These considerations do not threaten the truth of our ordinary attributions of evidence, however, for such attributions are context-sensitive in their semantics. It is argued that this solution to the problem of the externalworld enjoys all of the benefits, and suffers none of the problems, of other solutions to the problem of the externalworld. (shrink)
In a recent paper McCain (2012) argues that weak predictivism creates an important challenge for externalworld scepticism. McCain regards weak predictivism as uncontroversial and assumes the thesis within his argument. There is a sense in which the predictivist literature supports his conviction that weak predictivism is uncontroversial. This absence of controversy, however, is a product of significant plasticity within the thesis, which renders McCain’s argument worryingly vague. For McCain’s argument to work he either needs a stronger version (...) of weak predictivism than has been defended within the literature, or must commit to a more precise formulation of the thesis and argue that weak predictivism, so understood, creates the challenge to scepticism that he hopes to achieve. The difficulty with the former is that weak predictivism is not uncontroversial in the respect that McCain’s argument would require. I consider the prospects of saving McCain’s argument by committing to a particular version of weak predictivism, but find them unpromising for several reasons. (shrink)
The Principia Cybernetica Project was created to develop an integrated philosophy or world view, based on the theories of evolution, self-organization, systems and cybernetics. Its conceptual network has been implemented as an extensive website. The present paper reviews the assumptions behind the project, focusing on its rationale, its philosophical presuppositions, and its concrete methodology for computer-supported collaborative development. Principia Cybernetica starts from a process ontology, where a sequence of elementary actions produces ever more complex forms of organization through the (...) mechanism of variation and selection, and metasystem transition. Its epistemology is constructivist and evolutionary: models are constructed by subjects for their own purposes, but undergo selection by the environment. Its ethics takes fitness and the continuation of evolution as the basic value, and derives more concrete guidelines from this implicit purpose. Together, these postulates and their implications provide answers to a range of age-old philosophical questions. (shrink)
Philosophy of Mathematics is clear and engaging, and student friendly The book discusses the great philosophers and the importance of mathematics to their thought. Among topics discussed in the book are the mathematical image, platonism, picture-proofs, applied mathematics, Hilbert and Godel, knots and notation definitions, picture-proofs and Wittgenstein, computation, proof and conjecture.
We introduce an Automatic Theorem Prover (ATP) of a dual tableau system for a relational logic for order of magnitude qualitative reasoning, which allows us to deal with relations such as negligibility, non-closeness and distance. Dual tableau systems are validity checkers that can serve as a tool for verification of a variety of tasks in order of magnitude reasoning, such as the use of qualitative sum of some classes of numbers. In the design of our ATP, we have introduced some (...) heuristics, such as the so called phantom variables, which improve the efficiency of the selection of variables used un the proof. (shrink)
How are we to understand philosophical claims about sense perception being direct versus indirect? There are multiple relevant notions of perceptual directness, so I argue. Perception of external objects may be direct on some notions, while indirect on others. My interest is with the sense in which ideas count as perceptual mediators in the philosophy of Descartes and Locke. This paper has two broader aims. The first is to clarify four main notions of perceptual directness. The second is to (...) support my contention that in the texts characterizing ideas as immediate objects of perception, Descartes and Locke are invoking the notion of directness I call ‘objectual’. This notion is modeled on the way a picture mediates perception of the pictured object. The upshot of my account is that – with respect to the objectual notion of directness – Descartes and Locke each hold an indirect theory of perception. (shrink)
Juri Lotman. Mask in an artistic world of Gogol, and the masks of Anatoli Kaplan. The paper deals with an intersemiotic problem — how it is possible to represent a verbal image by the means of sculpture. It was written as an afterword for a German edition of N. Gogol’s Dead Souls (illustrated by photos on mask-sculpures by Anatoli Kaplan) thus using a style meant for general reader. However, it includes a deep analysis and several important conclusions about the (...) fancy worlds of Gogol and Kaplan, and about the possibilities to create connections between them. It is stressed that the very artistic illustration is possible only due to its independence, due to the subjective seeing of the author. (shrink)
In this essay I offer an interpretative reading of the first chapter in the two canonical works, the Zhuang-zi and the Lao-zi, and argue that there is an inner connection between the first chapters of the two books. My presupposition is that what Zhuang-zi has argued in "Xiao Yao You" is the theme of the relativity of the position of the human world, which is in accord with the mystery of Dao presented at the beginning of the Lao-zi. Therefore, (...) there are two opposite directions running in the Daoist philosophy in Lao-zi and Zhuang-zi: the first one is from this world (worlds) to Dao; the second one is from Dao to the worlds. While the first emphasizes the relativity of the point of views of the worldly beings, the second shows the mystery of Dao. This can be seen as a hermeneutical circle. (shrink)
In this paper I call attention to the fact that Lonergan gives two radically opposed accounts of how sense perception relates us to the externalworld and of how we know that this relation exists. I argue that the position that Lonergan characteristically adopts is not the one implied by what is most fundamental in his theory of cognition. I describe the initial epistemic position with regard to the problem of skepticism about the external material world (...) that is in fact implied by his theory of cognition, and I sort out some confusion about various forms of direct and representative perceptual realism. The paper concludes with a critique of Lonergan’s theory of description and explanation in empirical science that makes evident the difficulties into which he is led by lack of clarity in his theory of perception. (shrink)
One of the main challenges in the field of embodied artificial intelligence is the open-ended autonomous learning of complex behaviours. Our approach is to use task-independent, information-driven intrinsic motivation(s) to support task-dependent learning. The work presented here is a preliminary step in which we investigate the predictive information (the mutual information of the past and future of the sensor stream) as an intrinsic drive, ideally supporting any kind of task acquisition. Previous experiments have shown that the predictive information (PI) is (...) a good candidate to support autonomous, open-ended learning of complex behaviours, because a maximisation of the PI corresponds to an exploration of morphology- and environment-dependent behavioural regularities. The idea is that these regularities can then be exploited in order to solve any given task. Three different experiments are presented and their results lead to the conclusion that the linear combination of the one-step PI with an external reward function is not generally recommended in an episodic policy gradient setting. Only for hard tasks a great speed-up can be achieved at the cost of an asymptotic performance lost. (shrink)