This chapter revisits three key disagreements between Locke and Berkeley. The disagreements relate to abstraction, the idea of substance, and the status of the primary/secondary quality distinction. The goal of the chapter is to show that these disagreements are rooted in a more fundamental disagreement over the nature of ideas. For Berkeley, ideas are tied very closely to perceptual content. Locke adopts a less restrictive account of the nature of ideas. On his view, ideas are responsible for both perceptual content (...) and non-perceptual mental content. Recognizing this allows for the following analysis of their disputes. Berkeley often appeals to introspection to suggest that we do not have some particular idea. But Locke’s arguments that we have a particular idea often appeal to the functional role the idea has in our cognitive economy rather than to facts about our immediate phenomenology. (shrink)
Commentators have rightly focused on the reasons why Hume maintains that the conclusions of skeptical arguments cannot be believed, as well as on the role these arguments play in Hume’s justification of his account of the mind. Nevertheless, Hume’s interpreters should take more seriously the question of whether Hume holds that these arguments are demonstrations. Only if the arguments are demonstrations do they have the requisite status to prove Hume’s point—and justify his confidence—about the nature of the mind’s belief-generating faculties. (...) In this paper, I treat Hume’s argument against the primary/secondary quality distinction as my case study, and I argue that it is intended by Hume to be a demonstration of a special variety. (shrink)
I propose a reading of Berkeley's Essay towards a New Theory of Vision in which Molyneux-type questions are interpreted as thought experiments instead of arguments. First, I present the general argumentative strategy in the NTV, and provide grounds for the traditional reading. Second, I consider some roles of thought experiments, and classify Molyneux-type questions in the NTV as constructive conjectural thought experiments. Third, I argue that (i) there is no distinction between Weak and Strong Heterogeneity theses in the NTV; (ii) (...) that Strong Heterogeneity is the basis of Berkeley's theory; and (iii) that Molyneux-type questions act as illustrations of Strong Heterogeneity. (shrink)
In the First of the Three Dialogues, Berkeley’s Hylas, responding to Philonous’s question whether extension and motion are separable from secondary qualities, says: What! Is it not an easy matter, to consider extension and motion by themselves,... Pray how do the mathematicians treat of them?
Berkeley has made the bold claim on behalf of his theory that it is uniquely able to justify the claim that snow is white. But this claim, made most strikingly in the Third of his "Three Dialogues," has been held, most forcefully by Margaret Wilson, to conflict with Berkeley's argument in the First Dialogue that, because of various facts to do with perceptual variation, colors are merely apparent and hence, mind-dependent. This paper develops an alternative reading of the First Dialogue (...) arguments, in which their project is not to establish the mind-dependence of colors but instead to undermine the position that colors are also mind-independent. Under these circumstances, the coherence of the First and the Third Dialogue arguments is assured, just so long as the Third Dialogue claim to have established that snow is really white is not taken to mean that snow is mind-independently white, but instead, something like that our experiences of snow are stably and regularly white. (shrink)