This paper shows that Russell’s theory of descriptions gives the wrong semantics for definite descriptions occurring in questions and imperatives. Depending on how that theory is applied, it either assigns nonsense to perfectly meaningful questions and assertions or it assigns meanings that diverge from the actual semantics of such sentences, even after all pragmatic and contextual variables are allowed for. Given that Russell’s theory is wrong for questions and assertions, it must be wrong for assertoric (...) statements; for the semantics of ‘the phi’ obviously doesn’t vary depending on whether it occurs in a question or an assertion or a command. (shrink)
Carnap’s theory of descriptions was restricted in two ways. First, the descriptive conditions had to be non-modal. Second, only primitive predicates or the identity predicate could be used to predicate something of the descriptum . The motivating reasons for these two restrictions that can be found in the literature will be critically discussed. Both restrictions can be relaxed, but Carnap’s theory can still be blamed for not dealing adequately with improper descriptions.
In this article I construe Russell's definite description notation as a fragment of an "ideal language"– a language in which, as Russell puts it in the "Logical Atomism" lectures, "the words in a proposition correspond one by one with the components of the corresponding fact." Russell's notation – containing as it does variables, quantifiers and the identity sign – commits him to an ontology that is lavish indeed. It thus conflicts with the spirit of the theory of descriptions, (...) which is developed in the service of ontological frugality (the elimination of denoting concepts, senses and non-existent objects). I make use of arguments derived from the Tractatus to show that an ideal language need not contain logical signs. I thus defend the spirit of the theory of descriptions while departing from its letter. (shrink)
The proper statement and assessment of Russell's theory depends on one's semantic presuppositions. A semantic framework is provided, and Russell's theory formulated in terms of it. Referential uses of descriptions raise familiar problems for the theory, to which there are, at the most general level of abstraction, two possible Russellian responses. Both are considered, and both found wanting. The paper ends with a brief consideration of what the correct positive theory of definite descriptions might (...) be, if it is not the Russellian theory. (shrink)
The paper revisits Sharvy's theory of plural definite descriptions. An alternative account of plural definite descriptions building on the ideas of plural quantification and non-distributive plural predication is developed. Finally, the alternative is extrapolated to account for generic uses of definite descriptions.
What, from a semantic perspective, is the difference between singular indefinite and definite descriptions? Just over a century ago, Russell provided what has become the standard philosophical response. Descriptions are quantifier phrases, not referring expressions. As such, they differ with respect to the quantities they denote. Indefinite descriptions denote existential quantities; definite descriptions denote uniquely existential quantities. Now around the 1930s and 1940s, some linguists, working independently of philosophers, developed a radically different response. Descriptions, linguists (...) such as Jespersen held, were referring expressions, not quantifier phrases. Accordingly, descriptions differ with respect their rules of reference. Indefinite descriptions refer to „novel‟ items, definite descriptions to „familiar‟ ones. My dissertation serves as the first systematic effort to bridge the gap between these two seemingly incompatible responses. It provides a satisfactory answer to the above question which links the seemingly intractable divide between Russellians and familiarity theorists. This is achieved by utilizing two observations: Donnellan‟s observation that speakers use descriptions not only as devices of quantification but also as devices of reference, and Devitt‟s observation that these two uses, being regular, systematic, and cross-linguistic, have the status of convention in our language. Taken in conjunction, these two observations, I argue, require postulating that descriptions are semantically ambiguous. These observations compel the thoughtful theorist to maintain that descriptions have two distinct semantic functions, one quantificational and one referential. Accordingly, the semantic contrast between singular indefinite and definite descriptions is two-fold. Descriptions can contrast either quantificationally or with respect to the speaker‟s view of the audience‟s familiarity with the description‟s referent. (shrink)
I. Descriptions in Predicative Position The predicative analysis and Russell’s theory part company when it comes to the argument structure assigned to sentences like (1). (1) Washington is the greatest French soldier. On a standard Russellian analysis, (1) has the following (a) logical form and (b) truth conditions.
Around 1904 Meinong formulated his most famous idea: There are no empty (non-referential) singular terms. Each singular term refers to an object. Some of these objects do not exist but all of them enjoy status of Außersein. Russell also did not accept non-referential singular terms. But in his paper “On denoting” (1905) he claimed that all singular terms that are apparently empty could be reinterpreted as apparent singular terms. In short, Meinong expands his universe, while Russell narrows the category of (...) singular term. However, if we take a more careful look at both theories, we find many unexpected similarities. It is well known that Russell’s concept of a genuine proper name is very technical. Yet exactly the same holds for Meinong. Also according to him we can refer “directly” only to a very special category of ontologically simple objects. All reference to the common-sense individuals has to be mediated by Russellian descriptions. However, in the domain of Meinongian objects “beyond being and non-being” a plurality of objects always corresponds to each such Russellian description. Thus, if Meinong were right, there could be no definite descriptions. The only way we can get a definite description is to narrow the domain of reference by placing certain “extra-nuclear” (außerkonstitutorisch) predicates (“exists” or “possible”) in the scope of the description. If we narrow the domain of reference to existent objects, we can get a definite description in a simple Russellian way. We have only to specify a collection of predicates that is contingently satisfied by only one (existing) object. But if we operate in the domain of all possible objects, we have to specify all (absolute and relative) properties that are had by the object in question. It turns out that such a “Leibnizian” specification amounts to the complete description of a possible world. (shrink)
In this thesis I argue that the psychological study of concepts and categorisation, and the philosophical study of reference are deeply intertwined. I propose that semantic intuitions are a variety of categorisation judgements, determined by concepts, and that because of this, concepts determine reference. I defend a dual theory of natural kind concepts, according to which natural kind concepts have distinct semantic cores and non-semantic identification procedures. Drawing on psychological essentialism, I suggest that the cores consist of externalistic placeholder (...) essence beliefs. The identification procedures, in turn, consist of prototypes, sets of exemplars, or possibly also theory-structured beliefs. I argue that the dual theory is motivated both by experimental data and theoretical considerations. The thesis consists of three interrelated articles. Article I examines philosophical causal and description theories of natural kind term reference, and argues that they involve, or need to involve, certain psychological elements. I propose a unified theory of natural kind term reference, built on the psychology of concepts. Article II presents two semantic adaptations of psychological essentialism, one of which is a strict externalistic Kripkean-Putnamian theory, while the other is a hybrid account, according to which natural kind terms are ambiguous between internalistic and externalistic senses. We present two experiments, the results of which support the strict externalistic theory. Article III examines Fodor’s influential atomistic theory of concepts, according to which no psychological capacities associated with concepts constitute them, or are necessary for reference. I argue, contra Fodor, that the psychological mechanisms are necessary for reference. (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 external world, 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 the case of an actual proper name such as ‘Aristotle’ opinions as to the Sinn may differ. It might, for instance, be taken to be the following: the pupil of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. Anybody who does this will attach another Sinn to the sentence ‘Aristotle was born in Stagira’ than will a man who takes as the Sinn of the name: the teacher of Alexander the Great who was born in Stagira. So long as the (...) Bedeutung remains the same, such variations of Sinn may be tolerated, although they are to be avoided.. (shrink)
It would be an understatement to say that Russell was interested in Cantorian diagonal paradoxes. His discovery of the various versions of Russell’s paradox—the classes version, the predicates version, the propositional functions version—had a lasting effect on his views in philosophical logic. Similar Cantorian paradoxes regarding propositions—such as that discussed in §500 of The Principles of Mathematics—were surely among the reasons Russell eventually abandoned his ontology of propositions.1 However, Russell’s reasons for abandoning what he called “denoting concepts”, and his rejection (...) of similar “semantic dualisms” such as Frege’s theory of sense and reference—at least in “On Denoting”—made no explicit mention of any Cantorian paradox. My aim in this paper is to argue that such paradoxes do pose a problem for certain theories such as Frege’s, and early Russell’s, about how definite descriptions are meaningful. My first aim is simply to lay out the problem I have in mind. Next, I shall turn to arguing that the theories of descriptions endorsed by Frege and by Russell prior to “On Denoting” are susceptible to the problem. Finally, I explore what responses a.. (shrink)
In line with his theory of secularization according to which all significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts, Carl Schmitt argues in Constitutional Theory that people’s (Volk) constitution-making power in modern democracy is analogical to God’s potestas constituens in medieval theology. It is also undoubtedly possible to find a resemblance between Schmitt’s constitution-making power and God’s power as it is described in medieval theology. In the same sense as the constitution-making power (...) is absolutely free from all normative ties, God’s potestas constituens, or rather, God’s potentia absoluta is free from such ties. Yet, unlike the Schmittian constitution-making power, God’s potentia absoluta was not, in medieval theology, originally intended as a description of some form of divine action: the absolute power of God referred to the total possibilities initially open to God. However, when the canonists started to employ the term potentia absoluta in their speculations concerning the papal plenitude of power (plenitude potestatis) by the end of the thirteenth century, they used it in a different sense than the theologians previously. According to certain canonists, the pope, by his potentia absoluta, could grant de facto dispensations from divine and ecclesiastical laws. Later on, this notion became a theological notion as well, but given its origin in juridical discourse, the constitution-making power, rather than being a secularized theological notion, is a theologized juristic notion. (shrink)
To the extent, then, that we set our face against admitting the truth of Humeanism in the theory of motivation, to that extent we are probably going to feel that there is no such thing as the theory of motivation, so conceived, at all. And that will be the position that this paper is trying to defend, though not only for this reason. It might seem miraculous that so much can be extracted from the little distinction with which (...) we started, between the reasons why an action was right and the agent's reasons for doing it. It is not so much the distinction itself which is the culprit, however, as the account of it that sees motivating reasons as complexes of beliefs and desires, i.e. as complexes of psychological states of whatever sort, and sees justifying reasons as truths. It is this account, which puts into form the attempt to combine value realism with Humean philosophical psychology, that leads to the results I have outlined above. (shrink)
The theory of mind (ToM) deficit associated with autism spectrum disorder has been a central topic in the debate about the modularity of the mind. In a series of papers, Philip Gerrans and Valerie Stone argue that positing a ToM module does not best explain the deficits exhibited by individuals with autism (Gerrans 2002; Stone & Gerrans 2006a, 2006b; Gerrans & Stone 2008). In this paper, I first criticize Gerrans and Stone’s (2008) account. Second, I discuss various studies of (...) individuals with autism and argue that they are best explained by positing a higher-level, domain-specific ToM module. (shrink)
The function of a trait token is usually defined in terms of some properties of other (past, present, future) tokens of the same trait type. I argue that this strategy is problematic, as trait types are (at least partly) individuated by their functional properties, which would lead to circularity. In order to avoid this problem, I suggest a way to define the function of a trait token in terms of the properties of the very same trait token. To able to (...) allow for the possibility of malfunctioning, some of these properties need to be modal ones: a function of a trait is to do F just in case its doing F would contribute to the inclusive fitness of the organism whose trait it is. Function attributions have modal force. Finally, I explore whether and how this theory of biological function could be modified to cover artifact function. (shrink)
The pragmatic theory of truth (PTT) seeks to illuminate the concept of truth by focusing on concepts like usefulness or adaptivity. However, contrary to common opinion, PTT does not merely face a narrow band of (perhaps) rather artificial counterexamples (as in a case of empirically unfounded but life-extending optimism in a cancer patient); instead, PTT is faced with a fast psychological research literature which suggests that inaccurate beliefs are both (1) pervasive in human beings and, nonetheless, (2) fully adaptive (...) in many cases. Call this the "pervasive adaptive illusions" (PAI) objection to PTT. According to PAI, the kind of connection drawn by PTT between the beliefs that we (intuitively or pretheoretically) regard as "true" and the beliefs we regard as useful is undercut by hard-nosed empirical work in psychology -- work that no empirically minded pragmatist can ignore. According to PAI, the connection drawn between truth and utility by PTT is subject to a simply overwhelming set of counterexamples (drawn from psychological research, and reviewed below). Thus, PTT is a theory any sensible theorist of truth must reject. (shrink)
According to embodied cognition, the philosophical and empirical literature on theory of mind is misguided. Embodied cognition rejects the idea that social cognition requires theory of mind. It regards the intramural debate between the TheoryTheory and the Simulation Theory as irrelevant, and it dismisses the empirical studies on theory of mind as ill conceived and misleading. Embodied cognition provides a novel deflationary account of social cognition that does not depend on theory of (...) mind. In this chapter, l describe embodied cognition’s alternative to theory of mind and discuss three challenges it faces. (shrink)
Dealing with students who cheat can be one of the most stressful interactions that faculty encounter. This study focused on faculty responses to academic integrity violations and utilized the Theory of Planned Behaviour model to predict the target behaviour of whether faculty would speak face-to-face with a student suspected of cheating. After an elicitation phase to determine modal salient beliefs, a questionnaire was developed to measure the model’s variables. The respondent database contained 206 tenured and non-tenured faculty from two (...) large comprehensive universities. A stepwise multiple regression demonstrated the usefulness of the Theory of Planned Behaviour. Overall the model explained 43 % of the variance in predicting faculty members’ intention to speak face-to-face with a student suspected of cheating. The most significant contribution was made by subjective norms ( β = 0.39), followed by attitude ( β = 0.34), and perceived behavioural control ( β = 0.24). (shrink)
Abstract This paper sketches a Levinasian theory of action. It has often been pointed out that Levinas' ethics are incapable of providing principles of adjudication for guiding actions. However, a much more profound problem affects Levinas' metaphysical ethics and negates the possibility of adjudication and that is a patent lack of freedom from the yoke of the ethical. If ?ethics is primordial? indeed, then no act can be unethical in that there is no alternative possibility to the acceptance and (...) performance of the law. In this paper, I will argue that it is from the totalization of the acceptance and performance of law ?implicit in the subject's action? that alternative possibilities become visible. This is to say, it is through totalization that the subject demarcates the locus for the emergence of principles, which can permit adjudication among different acts without negating the radical primacy of ethics, which is probably Levinas? greatest contribution to the field. (shrink)
Having entered into the problem structuring methods, system dynamics (SD) is an approach, among systems’ methodologies, which claims to recognize the main structures of socio-economic behaviors. However, the concern for building or discovering strong philosophical underpinnings of SD, undoubtedly playing an important role in the modeling process, is a long-standing issue, in a way that there is a considerable debate about the assumptions or the philosophical foundations of it. In this paper, with a new perspective, we have explored theory (...) of knowledge in SD models and found strange similarities between classic epistemological concepts such as justification and truth, and the mechanism of obtaining knowledge in SD models. In this regard, we have discussed related theories of epistemology and based on this analysis, have suggested some implications for moderating common problems in the modeling process of SD. Furthermore, this research could be considered a reword of system dynamics modeling principles in terms of theory of knowledge. (shrink)
Advocates of the computational theory of mind claim that the mind is a computer whose operations can be implemented by various computational systems. According to these philosophers, the mind is multiply realisable because—as they claim—thinking involves the manipulation of syntactically structured mental representations. Since syntactically structured representations can be made of different kinds of material while performing the same calculation, mental processes can also be implemented by different kinds of material. From this perspective, consciousness plays a minor role in (...) mental activity. However, contemporary neuroscience provides experimental evidence suggesting that mental representations necessarily involve consciousness. Consciousness does not only enable individuals to become aware of their own thoughts, it also constantly changes the causal properties of these thoughts. In light of these empirical studies, mental representations appear to be intrinsically dependent on consciousness. This discovery represents an obstacle to any attempt to construct an artificial mind. (shrink)
The theory of mind (ToM) deficit associated with autism has been a central topic in the debate about the modularity of the mind. Most involved in the debate about the explanation of the ToM deficit have failed to notice that autism’s status as a spectrum disorder has implications about which explanation is more plausible. In this paper, I argue that the shift from viewing autism as a unified syndrome to a spectrum disorder increases the plausibility of the explanation of (...) the ToM deficit that appeals to a domain-specific, higher-level ToM module. First, I discuss what it means to consider autism as a spectrum rather than as a unified disorder. Second, I argue for the plausibility of the modular explanation on the basis that autism is better considered as a spectrum disorder. Third, I respond to a potential challenge to my account from Philip Gerrans and Valerie Stone’s recent work (Gerrans, Biol Philos 17:305–321, 2002; Stone and Gerrans, Trends Cogn Sci 10:3–4, 2006a; Soc Neurosci 1:309–319, 2006b; Gerrans and Stone, Br J Philos Sci 59:121–141, 2008). (shrink)
In this impressive second edition of Theory of Knowledge, Keith Lehrer introduces students to the major traditional and contemporary accounts of knowing. Beginning with the traditional definition of knowledge as justified true belief, Lehrer explores the truth, belief, and justification conditions on the way to a thorough examination of foundation theories of knowledge,the work of Platinga, externalism and naturalized epistemologies, internalism and modern coherence theories, contextualism, and recent reliabilist and causal theories. Lehrer gives all views careful examination and concludes (...) that external factors must be matched by appropriate internal factors to yield knowledge. This match of internal and external factors follows from Lehrer’s new coherence theory of undefeated justification. In addition to doing justice to the living epistemological traditions, the text smoothly integrates several new lines that will interest scholars. Also, a feature of special interest is Lehrer’s concept of a justification game.This second edition of Theory of Knowledge is a thoroughly revised and updated version that contains several completely new chapters. Written by a well-known scholar and contributor to modern epistemology, this text is distinguished by clarity of structure, accessible writing, and an elegant mix of traditional material, contemporary ideas, and well-motivated innovation. (shrink)
The human ability to represent, conceptualize, and reason about mind and behavior is one of the greatest achievements of human evolution and is made possible by a “folk theory of mind” — a sophisticated conceptual framework that relates different mental states to each other and connects them to behavior. This chapter examines the nature and elements of this framework and its central functions for social cognition. As a conceptual framework, the folk theory of mind operates prior to any (...) particular conscious or unconscious cognition and provides the “framing” or interpretation of that cognition. Central to this framing is the concept of intentionality, which distinguishes intentional action (caused by the agent’s intention and decision) from unintentional behavior (caused by internal or external events without the intervention of the agent’s decision). A second important distinction separates publicly observable from publicly unobservable (i.e., mental) events. Together, the two distinctions define the kinds of events in social interaction that people attend to, wonder about, and try to explain. A special focus of this chapter is the powerful tool of behavior explanation, which relies on the folk theory of mind but is also intimately tied to social demands and to the perceiver’s social goals. A full understanding of social cognition must consider the folk theory of mind as the conceptual underpinning of all (conscious and unconscious) perception and thinking about the social world. (shrink)
Epistemology or the theory of knowledge is one of the cornerstones of analytic philosophy, and this book provides a clear and accessible introduction to the subject. It discusses some of the main theories of justification, including foundationalism, coherentism, reliabilism, and virtue epistemology. Other topics include the Gettier problem, internalism and externalism, skepticism, the problem of epistemic circularity, the problem of the criterion, a priori knowledge, and naturalized epistemology. Intended primarily for students taking a first class in epistemology, this lucid (...) and well-written text would also provide an excellent introduction for anyone interested in knowing more about this important area of philosophy. (shrink)
According to Uriah Kriegel’s self-representational theory of consciousness, mental state M is conscious just in case it is a complex with suitably integrated proper parts, M1 and M2, such that M1 is a higher-order representation of lower-order representation M2. Kriegel claims that M thereby “indirectly” represents itself, and he attempts to motivate this claim by appealing to what he regards as intuitive cases of indirect perceptual and pictorial representation. For example, Kriegel claims that it’s natural to say that in (...) directly perceiving the front surface of an apple one thereby perceives the apple itself. Cases such as this are supposed to provide intuitive support for the principle that if X represents Y, and Y is highly integrated into complex object Z, then X indirectly represents Z. In this paper I provide counterexamples to Kriegel’s principle of indirect representation, before going on to argue that we can explain what is going on in those cases in which the subject seems to represent a complex whole by representing one its parts without positing indirect representations anyway. I then argue that my alternative approach is superior to Kriegel’s in a number of ways, thereby rendering his theory of consciousness implausible. (shrink)
This paper explores the idea that when dealing with certain kinds of narratives, ‘like it or not’, consumers of fiction will bring the same sorts of skills (or at least a subset of them) to bear that they use when dealing with actual minds. Let us call this the ‘Same Resources Thesis’. I believe the ‘Same Resources Thesis’ is true. But this is because I defend the view that engaging in narrative practices is the normal developmental route through which children (...) acquire the capacity to make sense of what it is to act for a reason. If so, narratives are what provide crucial resources for dealing with actual minds – at least those of a certain sophisticated sort. I argue however that to the extent that we mindread at all, it is likely that we – i.e. those with the appropriate linguistically scaffolded abilities to make mental attributions – rely on our basic mind minding capacities to do so. So theory only comes into play when we mind guess, but theory of mind doesn’t come into it at all, neither when we deal with actual or fictional minds. (shrink)
First published in 1984 as part of The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell , Theory of Knowledge represents an important addition to our knowledge of Russell's thought. In this work Russell attempts to flesh out the sketch implicit in The Problems of Philosophy . It was conceived by Russell as his next major project after Principia Mathematica and was intended to provide the epistemological foundations for his work. Russell's subsequent difficulties in presenting his theory of knowledge, brought on (...) by what he considered to be devastating criticisms of Wittgenstein, led to both his abandonment of this work and to a major transformation in his thought. Theory of Knowledge , now available for the first time in paperback, gives us a picture of one of the great minds of the twentieth century at work. It is possible to see the unsolved problems left without disguise or evasion. This second edition has retained the full scholarly introduction. The photographs of the manuscript, appendices, and notes on textual matters have been eliminated to provide a concise and accessible guide to understanding both Russell's own thought and his relationship with Wittgenstein. (shrink)
Empirical assessments of Cognitive Behavioral Theory and theoretical considerations raise questions about the fundamental theoretical tenet that psychological disturbances are mediated by consciously accessible cognitive structures. This paper considers this situation in light of emotion theory in philosophy. We argue that the “perceptual theory” of emotions, which underlines the parallels between emotions and sensory perceptions, suggests a conception of cognitive mediation that can accommodate the observed empirical anomalies and one that is consistent with the dual-processing models dominant (...) in cognitive psychology. (shrink)
An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge guides the reader through the key issues and debates in contemporary epistemology. Lucid, comprehensive and accessible, it is an ideal textbook for students who are new to the subject and for university undergraduates. The book is divided into five parts. Part I discusses the concept of knowledge and distinguishes between different types of knowledge. Part II surveys the sources of knowledge, considering both a priori and a posteriori knowledge. Parts III and IV (...) provide an in-depth discussion of justification and scepticism. The final part of the book examines our alleged knowledge of the past, other minds, morality and God. O'Brien uses engaging examples throughout the book, taking many from literature and the cinema. He explains complex issues, such as those concerning the private language argument, non-conceptual content, and the new riddle of induction, in a clear and accessible way. This textbook is an invaluable guide to contemporary epistemology. (shrink)
“Virtue jurisprudence” is a normative and explanatory theory of law that utilises the resources of virtue ethics to answer the central questions of legal theory. The main focus of this essay is the development of a virtue–centred theory of judging. The exposition of the theory begins with exploration of defects in judicial character, such as corruption and incompetence. Next, an account of judicial virtue is introduced. This includes judicial wisdom, a form of phronesis, or sound practical (...) judgement. A virtue–centred account of justice is defended against the argument that theories of fairness are prior to theories of justice. The centrality of virtue as a character trait can be drawn out by analysing the virtue of justice into constituent elements. These include judicial impartiality (even–handed sympathy for those affected by adjudication) and judicial integrity (respect for the law and concern for its coherence). The essay argues that a virtue–centred theory accounts for the role that virtuous practical judgement plays in the application of rules to particular fact situations. Moreover, it contends that a virtue–centred theory of judging can best account for the phenomenon of lawful judicial disagreement. Finally, a virtue–centred approach best accounts for the practice of equity, departure from the rules based on the judge’s appreciation of the particular characteristics of individual fact situations. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]. (shrink)
Can we know anything for certain? There are those who think we can (traditionally labeled the "dogmatists") and those who think we cannot (traditionally labeled the "skeptics"). The theory of knowledge, or epistemology, is the great debate between the two. This book is an introductory and historically-based survey of the debate. It sides for the most part with the skeptics. It also develops out of skepticism a third view, fallibilism or critical rationalism, which incorporates an uncompromising realism about perception, (...) science, and the nature of truth. (shrink)
Argument that Marx has a realist ontology and a correspondence theory of truth. His views are compared to both Hegel's and Kant's. This interpretation departs from more Hegelian, 'idealist' interpretations that often rely on misunderstanding some of the work of the early Marx. There is also a discussion and partial defence of Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.
Some argue that Candrakīrti is committed to rejecting all theories of perception in virtue of the rejection of the foundationalisms of the Nyāya and the Pramāṇika. Others argue that Candrakīrti endorses the Nyāya theory of perception. In this paper, I will propose an alternative non-foundationalist theory of perception for Candrakīriti. I will show that Candrakrti’s works provide us sufficient evidence to defend a typical Prāsagika’s account of perception that, I argue, complements his core non-foundationalist ontology.
It is argued that if there are truth-value gaps then the disquotational theory of truth is false. Secondly, it is argued that the same conclusion can be reached even without the assumption that there are truth-value gaps.
In his celebrated work, A Theory of Justice (1971), John Rawls argues that, from behind the veil of ignorance, parties in the original position will employ the maximin decision rule to reason to his two principles of justice. In this journal, Olatunji Oyeshile offers a brief and concise outline of some of the historical criticisms of that argument. Oyeshile offers two important criticisms of Rawls' argument. Both, however, are somewhat misplaced, as I shall show. First, he claims that decision (...)theory offers parties in the original position other decision procedures. In fact, none of the alternatives are suitable, given the situation. And second, parties in the original position would first guarantee some minimum of libertarian goods, and then seek additional profits. This objection demonstrates a misunderstanding of the place of the maximin decision rule, as I shall show. -/- I believe that both criticisms stem from a close and careful reading of Buchanan's essay on Rawls. Unfortunately, Buchanan himself seemed to have misunderstood Rawls' original arguments. I rely on problems in Buchanan's original work to defend Rawls' theory against Oyeshile's criticisms. (shrink)
This paper is about the reconstruction of the Darwinian Theory of Natural Selection. My aim here is to outline the fundamental law of this theory in an informal way from its applications in The Origin of Species and to make explicit its fundamental concepts. I will introduce the theory-nets of special laws that arise from the specialization of the fundamental law. I will assume the metatheoretical structuralist frame. I will also point out many consequences that my proposal (...) has about a few metatheoretical discussions around the theory and, finally, I will relate my propose to other reconstructions available. (shrink)
Embodiment and embeddedness define an attractive framework to the study of cognition. I discuss whether theory of mind, i.e. the ability to attribute mental states to others to predict and explain their behaviour, fits these two principles. In agreement with available evidence, embodied cognitive processes may underlie the earliest manifestations of social cognitive abilities such as infants’ selective behaviour in spontaneous-response false belief tasks. Instead, late theory-of-mind abilities, such as the capacity to pass the (elicited-response) false belief test (...) at age four, depend on children’s ability to explain people’s reasons to act in conversation with adults. Accordingly, rather than embodied, late theory-of-mind abilities are embedded in an external linguistic practice. (shrink)
Dewey and Russell's debate over the status of logic in the twentieth-century is, by now, well-trodden ground for scholarly inquiry. However, Dewey's novel theory of propositions, first articulated in his 1938 Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, has received comparatively less attention than the debate that touched upon it. The paucity of interest among philosophers of language is probably due to a variety of reasons, such as the theory's unorthodox character and, what at least appears to be, its (...) naive simplicity when compared to other more common (syntactic and pragmatic) theories of propositions. In this paper, I would like to examine the three most extensive treatments, one by the late H.S. Thayer, another by Tom Burke, and the most recent exposition by Larry Hickman, with the intention of reviving scholarly interest in Dewey's theory of propositional form. Another objective of the present project is to situate Dewey's theory relative to more contemporary theories and debates about propositional form in the philosophy of language literature. (shrink)
We begin by distinguishing computationalism from a number of other theses that are sometimes conflated with it. We also distinguish between several important kinds of computation: computation in a generic sense, digital computation, and analog computation. Then, we defend a weak version of computationalism—neural processes are computations in the generic sense. After that, we reject on empirical grounds the common assimilation of neural computation to either analog or digital computation, concluding that neural computation is sui generis. Analog computation requires continuous (...) signals; digital computation requires strings of digits. But current neuroscientific evidence indicates that typical neural signals, such as spike trains, are graded like continuous signals but are constituted by discrete functional elements (spikes); thus, typical neural signals are neither continuous signals nor strings of digits. It follows that neural computation is sui generis. Finally, we highlight three important consequences of a proper understanding of neural computation for the theory of cognition. First, understanding neural computation requires a specially designed mathematical theory (or theories) rather than the mathematical theories of analog or digital computation. Second, several popular views about neural computation turn out to be incorrect. Third, computational theories of cognition that rely on non-neural notions of computation ought to be replaced or reinterpreted in terms of neural computation. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker’s Causal Theory of Properties is an important starting place for some contemporary metaphysical perspectives concerning the nature of properties. In this paper I discuss the causal and intrinsic criteria that Shoemaker stipulates for the identity of genuine properties and relations, and address George Molnar’s criticism that holding both criteria presents an unbridgeable hypothesis in the Causal Theory of Properties. The causal criterion requires that properties and relations contribute to the causal powers of objects if they are (...) to be deemed genuine rather than ‘mere-Cambridge’. The intrinsic criterion requires that all genuine properties and relations be intrinsic. Molnar’s S-property argument says that these criteria conflict if one considers extrinsic spatiotemporal properties and relations to contribute causally. In this paper I argue that a solution to the contradiction that Molnar identifies involves a denial of discreteness between objects, leading to a Power Holist perspective and a resulting deflationary account of intrinsicality. -/- Keywords: Shoemaker, Molnar, Holism, genuine properties, powers, Causal Theory of Properties . (shrink)
My philosophical case study concerns textbook presentations of the theory of demand. Does this theory contain anything more than just a collection of tautologies? In order to determine its empirical content, it must be viewed holistically. But then, the theory implies false factual claims. We can avoid this result by embracing the theory’s normative character. The resulting consequences will be illuminated with the new autodetermination thesis recently proposed in the philosophy of physics by Oliver Timmer. Applying (...) his ideas to the theory of demand reveals that the statements of this discipline simultaneously concern both values and facts. (shrink)
This book is an accessible introduction to contemporary epistemology, the theory of knowledge. It introduces traditional topics in epistemology within the context of contemporary debates about the definition, sources, and limits of human knowledge. Rich in examples and written in an engaging style, it explains the field while avoiding technical detail. It relates epistemology to work in cognitive science and defends a plausible version of explanationism regarding epistemological method.
In “Mercier and Sperber’s Argumentative Theory of Reasoning: From Psychology of Reasoning to Argumentation Studies” (2012) Santibáñez Yañez offers constructive comments and criticisms of the argumentative theory of reasoning. The purpose of this reply is twofold. First, it seeks to clarify two points broached by Yanez: (1) the relation between reasoning (in this specific theory) and dual process accounts in general and (2) the benefits that can be derived from reasoning and argumentation (again, in this specific (...) class='Hi'>theory). Second, it suggests one domain—the categorization of arguments—in which argumentation studies and the argumentative theory of reasoning could usefully complement each other to yield a better understanding of the processes of argumentation. (shrink)
It is widely believed that people have privileged and authoritative access to their own thoughts, and many theories have been proposed to explain this supposed fact. The Opacity of Mind challenges the consensus view and subjects the theories in question to critical scrutiny, while showing that they are not protected against the findings of cognitive science by belonging to a separate 'explanatory space'. The book argues that our access to our own thoughts is almost always interpretive, grounded in perceptual awareness (...) of our own circumstances and behavior, together with our own sensory imagery (including inner speech). In fact our access to our own thoughts is no different in principle from our access to the thoughts of other people, utilizing the conceptual and inferential resources of the same 'mindreading' faculty, and relying on many of the same sources of evidence. Peter Carruthers proposes and defends the Interpretive Sensory-Access (ISA) theory of self-knowledge. This is supported through comprehensive examination of many different types of evidence from across cognitive science, integrating a diverse set of findings into a single well-articulated theory. One outcome is that there are hardly any kinds of conscious thought. Another is that there is no such thing as conscious agency. Written with Carruthers' usual clarity and directness, this book will be essential reading for philosophers interested in self-knowledge, consciousness, and related areas of philosophy. It will also be of vital interest to cognitive scientists, since it casts the existing data in a new theoretical light. Moreover, the ISA theory makes many new predictions while also suggesting constraints and controls that should be placed on future experimental investigations of self-knowledge. (shrink)
Developed in collaboration with the International Baccalaureate Organization, Oxford's Course Companions provide extra support for students taking IB Diploma Programme courses. They present a whole-course approach with a wide range of resources, and encourage a deep understanding of each subject by making connections to wider issues and providing opportunites for critical thinking. This companion stimulates students to think about learning and knowledge from their own and from others' perspectives in a way that crosses disciplines and cultures. It encourages reflection, discussion, (...) critical thinking, and awareness or the ways in which knowledge is constructed, and will students to recognize the implications of knowledge for issues of global concern. Places students at the center of the course, with lively material providing opportunities for questioning, discussion, and interaction Invites students to add their own voices to those in the book, which include students, teachers, and professionals in various areas of knowledge Encourages students to frame their own perspectives with international awareness and recognition of the impact of knowledge on the world Contains guidance for current assessment, with support for the Theory of Knowledge essay and class presentation Written by experienced teachers, authors, and examiners, including recent deputy and chief examiners of Theory of Knowledge. (shrink)
A Treatise of Human Nature was published between 1739 and 1740. Book I, entitled Of the Understanding, contains Hume's epistemology, i.e., his account of the manner in which we acquire knowledge in general, its justification (to the extent that he thought it could be justified), and its limits. Book II, entitled Of the Passions, expounds most of what could be called Hume's philosophy of psychology in general, and his moral psychology (including discussions of the problem of the freedom of the (...) will and the rationality of action) in particular. Book III, entitled Of Morals, is also divided into three parts. Part II of Book III, entitled Of justice and injustice, is the subject of the present volume. In it Hume attempts to give an empiricist theory of justice. He rejects the view, approximated to in varying degrees by Cumberland, Cudworth, Locke, Clarke, Wollaston, and Butler, that justice is something natural and part of the nature of things, and that its edicts are eternal and immutable, and discernible by reason. Hume maintains, on the contrary, as did Hobbes and Mandeville, that justice is a matter of observing rules or conventions which are of human invention, and that, in consequence, our acquiring a knowledge of justice is an empirical affair of ascertaining what these rules or conventions are. (shrink)
A brief historical comment on scientific knowledge as Socratic ignorance -- Some critical comments on the text of this book, particularly on the theory of truth Exposition  -- Problem of Induction (Experience and Hypothesis) -- Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge -- Formulation of the Problem -- The problem of induction and the problem of demarcation -- Deductivtsm and Inductivism -- Comments on how the solutions are reached and preliminary presentation of the solutions -- Rationalism (...) and empiricism-deductivism and inductivism -- The possibility of a deductivist psychology of knowledge -- The Problem of Induction -- The infinite regression (Hume's argument) --The inductivist positions -- The Normal-Statement Positions -- The normal-statement positions: naive inductivism, strict positivism and apriorism -- Critique of strict positivism - twofold transcendence of natural laws -- The transcendental method - presentation of apriorism -- Critique of apriorism -- Kant and Fries -- Supplement to the critique of apriorism. (Psychologism and transcendentalism in Kant and Fries.-On the question of the empirical basis.) -- Probability Positions -- The probability positions - subjective belief in probability -- Statements about the objective probability of events -- Probability as an objective degree of validity of universal empirical statements -- One way of more closely defining the concept of the probability of a hypothesis (primary and secondary probability of hypotheses). The concept of simplicity -- The concept of the corroboration of a hypothesis - positivist, pragmatist and probabilistic interpretations of the concept of corroboration -- The infinite regression of probability statements -- Pseudo-Statement Positions -- The pseudo-statement positions: new formulation of the problem -- Natural laws as "instructions for the formation of statements" -- "True - false" or "useful - useless"? Consistent pragmatism --Difficulties of consistent pragmatism -- Tool and schema as purely pragmatic constructs -- Natural laws as propositional functions -- Conventionalism -- The pseudo-statement positions will temporarily be put away: conventionalism -- The three interpretations of axiomatic systems. (The circle of problems surrounding conventionalism) -- Conventionalist implicit and explicit definitions Propositional function and propositional equation -- Conventionalist propositional equations as tautological general implications -- Can axiomatic-deductive systems also be understood as consequence classes of pure propositional functions (of pseudo-statements)? -- The coordinative definitions of empiricism: synthetic general implications -- Conventionalist and empiricist interpretations, illustrated by the example of applied geometry -- Strictly Universal Statements and Singular Statements -- Implication and general implication -- General implication and the distinction between strictly universal and singular statements -- Universal concept and individual concept-class and element -- Strictly universal statements-the problem of induction and the problem of universals -- Comments on the problem of universals -- Back to the Pseudo-Statement Positions -- Return to the discussion of the pseudo-statement positions -- Symmetry or asymmetry in the evaluation of natural laws? -- The negative evaluation of universal statements. Critique of the strictly symmetrical interpretation of pseudo-statements -- An infinite regression of pseudo-statements -- An apriorist pseudo-statement position -- Interpretation of the critique up to this point; comments on the unity of theory and practice -- A last chance for the pseudo-statement positions -- Pseudo-Statement Positions and the Concept of Meaning -- The concept of meaning and logical positivism -- The concept of meaning and the demarcation problem-the fundamental thesis of inductivism -- Critique of the inductivist dogma of meaning -- Fully decidable and partially decidable empirical statements-the antinomy of the knowability of the world. (Conclusion of the critique of the pseudo-statement positions.) -- The dialectical and the transcendental corroboration of the solution -- Is the problem of induction solved? (shrink)
Based on the belief that computational modeling (thinking in terms of representation and computations) can help to clarify controversial issues in emotion theory, this article examines emotional experience from the perspective of the Computational Belief–Desire Theory of Emotion (CBDTE), a computational explication of the belief–desire theory of emotion. It is argued that CBDTE provides plausible answers to central explanatory challenges posed by emotional experience, including: the phenomenal quality,intensity and object-directedness of emotional experience, the function of emotional experience (...) and its relation to cognition and motivation, and the relation between emotional experience and emotion. In addition, CBDTE avoids most objections that have been raised against cognitive theories of emotion. A remaining objection, that beliefs are not necessary for the emotions covered by CBDTE, is rejected as empirically unsupported. (shrink)
This comprehensive and accessible book is designed for use by students following the Theory of Knowledge course in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme. The book is also useful for students following other critical thinking courses. The fundamental question in Theory of Knowledge is 'How do you know? In exploring this question, the author encourages critical thinking across a range of subject areas and helps students to ask relevant questions, use language with care and precision, support ideas with (...) evidence, argue coherently and make sound judgements. All chapters include the following features: - preliminary quotations to prompt critical thinking - questions and exercises to encourage students to actively engage with the material - reading resources to explore some of the topics in greater depth - illustrations to support the text Richard van de Lagemaat has more than 20 years' experience in international education. (shrink)
Abstract Theories of descriptions tend to involve commitments about the ambiguity of descriptions. For example, sentences containing descriptions are widely taken to be ambiguous between de re , de dicto , and intermediate interpretations and are sometimes thought to be ambiguous between the former and directly referential interpretations. I provide arguments to suggest that none of these interpretations are due to ambiguities (or indexicality). On the other hand, I argue that descriptions are ambiguous between the above (...) family of interpretations and what may be called ‘institutional’ as well as generic interpretations. My arguments suggest that an adequate theory of descriptions may require considerable rethinking. Most contemporary theories of descriptions appear to be committed to one or more claims about the ambiguity of descriptions that I reject in this paper. I suggest that my observations provide a reason to renew efforts to develop a theory of descriptions within a representationalist theory of interpretation. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-16 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9759-5 Authors Philipp Koralus, Philosophy Department, Princeton University, 212 1879 Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116. (shrink)
Development of the shapes of living organisms and their parts is a field of science in which there are no generally accepted theoretical principles. What form these principles are likely to take, when they emerge, is a subject in which there is a wide gulf of disagreement between physical scientists and experimental biologists. This book contains both an extensive philosophical commentary on this dichotomy in views and an exposition of the type of theory most favoured by physical scientists. In (...) this theory living form is a manifestation of the dynamics of chemical change and physical transport or other physics of spatial communication. The reaction-diffusion theory, as initiated by Turing in 1952 and since elaborated by Prigogine and by Gierer and Meinhardt among others, is discussed in detail at a level that requires a good knowledge of a first course in calculus, but no more than that. The great growth of molecular biology has tended to overshadow the increase in our understanding of the nature of these kinetic processes. This book seeks to reawaken interest in dynamics in the hope that a better balance between the importance of things and the importance of actions may emerge in the biology of the 21st century. (shrink)
This essay lays out the leading principles of the theories of definite descriptions advocated by Frege, Russell, and Hilbert and Bernays, and discusses various difficulties, philosophical and otherwise, with each treatment, fixing especially on the treatment of singular existence claims. Then the leading principles of free (definite) description theory are presented and it is shown how it resolves difficulties confronting the more traditional approaches. Finally, a pair of technical problems in free (definite) description theory are addressed. They (...) help to show the fecundity of this treatment of definite descriptions. (shrink)
This paper attempts to define indexicality so as to semantically distinguish indexicals from proper names and definite descriptions. The widely-accepted approach that says that indexical reference is distinctive in being dependent on context of use is criticized. A reductive approach is proposed and defended that takes an indexical to be (roughly) an expression that either is or is equivalent to ‘here’ or ‘now’, or is such that a tokening of it refers by relating something to the place and/or time (...) that would have been referred to had ‘here’ and ‘now’ been tokened instead. Alternative reductive approaches are criticized. (shrink)
Rachael Briggs and Daniel Nolan attempt to improve on Nozick’s tracking theory of knowledge by providing a modified, dispositional tracking theory. The dispositional theory, however, faces more problems than those previously noted by John Turri. First, it is not simply that satisfaction of the theory’s conditions is unnecessary for knowledge – it is insufficient as well. Second, in one important respect, the dispositional theory is a step backwards relative to the original tracking theory: the (...) original but not the dispositional theory can avoid Gettier-style counterexamples. Future attempts to improve the tracking theory would be wise to bear these problems in mind. (shrink)
This paper will examine the implications of an extended “field theory of information,” suggested by Wolfhart Pannenberg, specifically in the Christian understanding of creation. The paper argues that the Holy Spirit created the world as field, a concept from physics, and the creation is directed by the logos utilizing information. Taking into account more recent developments of information theory, the essay further suggests that present creation has a causal impact upon the information utilized in creation. In order to (...) adequately address Pannenberg's hypothesis that the logos utilizes information at creation the essay will also include an introductory examination of Pannenberg's Christology which shifts from a strict “from below” Christology, to a more open “third way” of doing Christology beyond “above” and “below.” The essay concludes with a brief section relating the implications of an extended “field theory of information” to creative inspiration, as well as parallels with human inspiration. (shrink)
In his early work Feyerabend argues that certain theories are incommensurable due to semantic variance. In this paper it is argued that Feyerabend relies on a description theory of reference in the course of his argument for incommensurability and in his analysis of the relevant kind of semantic variance. Against this it is objected that such reliance on the description theory eliminates ostensive reference determination and obscures the presence of theoretical conflict.