This thesis investigates the distinction, or distinctions, between response-dependent and response-independent concepts or subject matters. I present and discuss the three most influential versions of the distinction: Crispin Wright’s, Mark Johnston’s, and Philip Pettit’s. I argue that the versions do not compete for a single job, but that they can supplement each other, and that a system of different distinctions is more useful than a single distinction. I distinguish two main paradigms of response-dependence: response-dependence of subject matter, and response-dependence of concepts only. I develop Pettit’s ‘ethocentric’ story of concept acquisition into an account of concept evolution that suggests answers to a range of hard questions about language, reality, and the relation between them. I argue that while response-dependence theses of subject matter can be motivated in very different ways, the resulting theses are less different than they might seem. I suggest that the traditional ways of distinguishing response-dependent subject matters from response-independent ones – in terms of a priori biconditionals connecting facts of the disputed class with responses in subjects in favourable conditions, and fulfilling some further conditions such as non-triviality and sometimes necessity – may not be the best approach. I also discuss two general problems for response-dependence theses: the problem of ‘finkish’ counterexamples, and the problem of specifying the ‘favourable conditions’ a priori, yet in a non-trivial way. The discussion of response-dependence is informed by a framework based on the idea that some realism disputes can be viewed as location disputes: disputes over the correct location of the disputed properties among several levels of candidate properties. The approach taken in this work is a charitable one: I try to make sense of response-dependence. The conclusion is the correspondingly optimistic one that the idea of response-dependence makes sense.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 56,988
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Conceptualising ‘Authority’.C. Naomi Osorio-Kupferblum - 2015 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 23 (2):223-236.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Pragmatism, Truth and Response-Dependence.Andrew Howat - 2005 - Facta Philosophica 7 (2):231-253.
Two Conceptions of Response-Dependence.Rafael De Clercq - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 107 (2):159-177.
The Essence of Response-Dependence.Ralph Wedgwood - 1997 - European Review of Philosophy 3:31-54.
Why Response-Dependence Theories of Morality Are False.Jeremy Randel Koons - 2003 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 6 (3):275-294.
How (Not) to Specify Normal Conditions for Response-Dependent Concepts.Jussi Haukioja - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):325 – 331.
Response-Dependence.Christine Tappolet & Roberto Casati - 1998 - European Review of Philosophy 3:227.
Acceptance-Dependence: A Social Kind of Response-Dependence.Frank A. Hindriks - 2006 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (4):481–498.


Added to PP index

Total views
39 ( #260,057 of 2,410,262 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #540,207 of 2,410,262 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes