This volume is a collective exploration of major themes in the work of Crispin Wright, one of today's leading philosophers. These newly commissioned papers are divided into four sections, preceded by a substantial Introduction, which places them in the context of the development of Wright's ideas. The distinguished contributors address issues such as the rule-following problem, knowledge of our meanings and minds, truth, realism, anti-realism and relativism, as well as the nature of perceptual justification, the cogency of arguments such as (...) G. E. Moore's celebrated proof of an external world, and skepticism about the material world. Some papers explore the relationship of Wright's ideas with those of Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose influence has always been a prominent aspect of Wright's philosophy. The essays collectively testify to the enormous interest and relevance of Wright's seminal contributions for present-day debates in areas as diverse as the philosophy of language and mind, metaphysics, and epistemology, and significantly advance research in these areas. The volume also contains Wright's substantial responses to his critics, which offer the most up-to-date versions of his ideas and a vigorous defense of his philosophy. (shrink)
In the contemporary expanding literature on transmission failure and its connections with issues such as the Closure principle, the nature of perceptual warrant, Moore’s proof of an external world and the effectiveness of Humean scepticism, it has often been assumed that there is just one kind of it: the one made familiar by the writings of Crispin Wright and Martin Davies. Although it might be thought that one kind of failure is more than enough, Davies has recently challenged this view: (...) apparently, there are more ways in heaven and earth that warrant can fail to transmit across valid inference from one (set of) belief(s) to another, than have been dreamt of in philosophy so far. More specifically, Davies thinks that a second kind of transmission failure has to be countenanced. He connects each kind of failure of transmission of warrant with two different kinds of epistemic project, respectively, and with the exploration of whether the current dispute between conservatives such as Wright, and liberals such as Jim Pryor, on the nature of perceptual warrant, would have a bearing on them. I point out why Davies’s second kind of transmission failure is indeed no such thing. I then move on to canvass another kind of transmission failure, different from the one studied by both Wright and Davies, and dependent on an alternative conception of the structure of empirical warrants, which I dub “moderatism”. I then consider how this alternative notion of transmission failure fares with respect to Moore’s proof, its relationship with Wright’s kind of transmission failure and with the Closure principle. In closing, I defend it from criticisms that can be elicited from Pryor’s recent work. (shrink)
Moore’s paradox is taken to be emblematic of peculiarities in the first person point of view, and to have significant implications for several issues in epistemology, in philosophy of language and mind. Yet, its nature remains elusive. In the first part of the paper, the main kinds of analysis of it hereto proposed in the literature are criticized. Furthermore, it is claimed that there are cases in which its content can be legitimately judged. Close inspection of those cases reveals that (...) they depend on self-ascriptions of beliefs as dispositions. These are kinds of belief that are not normative in nature. In the second part of the paper, it is argued that, in order to save the paradox, one must resort to a thoroughly normative notion of beliefs as first-personal commitments. Its bearing on the paradox is explored and, in closing, a defence of it from possible objections is presented. (shrink)
The paper reviews the grounds for relativist interpretations of Wittgenstein's later thought, especially in On Certainty . It distinguishes between factual and virtual forms of epistemic relativism and argues that, on closer inspection, Wittgenstein's notes don't support any form of relativism – let it be factual or virtual. In passing, it considers also so-called "naturalist" readings of On Certainty , which may lend support to a relativist interpretation of Wittgenstein's ideas, finds them wanting, and recommends to interpret his positive proposal (...) in On Certainty as a form of "internal rationalism.". (shrink)
John Campbell (1999) has recently maintained that the phenomenon of thought insertion as it is manifested in schizophrenic patients should be described as a case in which the subject is introspectively aware of a certain thought and yet she is wrong in identifying whose thought it is. Hence, according to Campbell, the phenomenon of thought insertion might be taken as a counterexample to the view that introspection-based mental selfascriptions are logically immune to error through misidentification (IEM, hereafter). Thus, if Campbell (...) is right, it would not be true that when the subject makes a mental self-ascription on the basis of introspective awareness of a given mental state, there is no possible world in which she could be wrong as to whether it is really she who has that mental state. Notice the interesting interdisciplinary implications of Campbell’s project: on the one hand, a fairly precise notion elaborated in philosophy such as IEM (and the related notion of error through misidentification, EM hereafter) is used to describe a characteristic symptom of schizophrenia.1 On the other hand, such a phenomenon, described in the way proposed, is taken to be a possible counterexample to a sort of “philosophical dogma” such as IEM of introspection-based non-inferential mental self-ascriptions. In the first section of the paper I will point out the characteristic features of EM and explain logical immunity to error through misidentification of introspection-based mental self-ascriptions; in the second section I will consider the case of thought insertion in more detail and show why, after all, it is not a counterexample to the view that introspectionbased mental self-ascriptions are logically IEM. Finally, I will offer a re-description of the phenomenon of thought insertion. (shrink)
Moore's proof of an external world 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 external world 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)
In the recent literature on Moore's Proof of an external world, it has emerged that different diagnoses of the argument's failure are prima facie defensible. As a result, there is a sense that the appropriateness of the different verdicts on it may depend on variation in the kinds of context in which the argument is taken to be a move, with different characteristic aims. In this spirit, Martin Davies has recently explored the use of the argument within two different epistemic (...) projects called respectively ?deciding what to believe? and ?settling the question?. Depending on which project is in hand, according to Davies, the diagnoses of its failure?if indeed it fails?will differ. I believe that, by introducing the idea that the effectiveness of a valid argument may be epistemic project-relative, Davies has pointed the way to an important reorientation of the debates about Moore's Proof. But I wish to take issue with much of the detail of his proposals. I argue that Davies's characterization of his two projects is misleading (?1), and his account of their distinction defective (?2). I then canvass some suggestions about how it may be improved upon and about how further relevant kinds of epistemic projects in which Moore's argument may be taken to be a move can be characterized, bringing out how each of these projects impinges differently on the issue of the Proof's failure and of its diagnosis (??3 and 4). In conclusion (?5) I offer an overview of the resulting terrain. (shrink)
The aim of the paper is to bring out exactly what makes first-personal contents special, by showing that they perform a distinctive cognitive function. Namely, they are stopping points of inquiry. First, I articulate this idea and then I use it to clear the ground from a troublesome conflation. That is, the conflation of this particular function all first-person thoughts have with the property of immunity to error through misidentification, which only some I-thoughts enjoy. Afterward, I show the implications of (...) this idea for a theory of first-person content and of immunity to error though misidentification. I then make some comparisons with Pryor’s notion of wh-misidentification and immunity thereof and with Cappelen and Dever’s position on immunity to error through misidentification and show why they are defective. (shrink)
In this paper I provide an outline of a new kind of constitutive account of self-knowledge. It is argued that in order for the model properly to explain transparency, a further category of propositional attitudes—called “commitments”—has to be countenanced. It is also maintained that constitutive theories can’t remain neutral on the issue of the possession of psychological concepts, and a proposal about the possession of the concept of belief is sketched. Finally, it is claimed that in order for a constitutive (...) account properly to explain authority, it has to take a rather dramatic constructivist turn, which makes it suitable as an explanation of self-knowledge only for a limited class of mental states. (shrink)
Extended Rationality: A Hinge Epistemology provides a novel account of the structure of epistemic justification. Its central claim builds upon Wittgenstein's idea in On Certainty that epistemic justifications hinge on some basic assumptions and that epistemic rationality extends to these very hinges. It exploits these ideas to address major problems in epistemology, such as the nature of perceptual justifications, external world skepticism, epistemic relativism, the epistemic status of basic logical laws, of the Principle of the Uniformity of Nature, of our (...) belief in the existence of the past and of other minds, and the nature of testimonial justification. Along the way, further technical issues, such as the scope of the Principle of Closure of epistemic operators under known entailment, the notion of transmission failure, and the existence of entitlements are addressed in new and illuminating ways. (shrink)
In the last few years there has been a resurgence of interest in Moore’s Proof of the existence of an external world, which is now often rendered as follows:1 (I) Here’s a hand (II) If there is a hand here, there is an external world Therefore (III) There is an external world The contemporary debate has been mostly triggered by Crispin Wright’s influential—conservative —“Facts and certainty” and further fostered by Jim Pryor’s recent—liberal—“What’s wrong with Moore’s argument?”.2 This debate is worth (...) surveying with care because—so I shall contend—it will help us see that, in fact, it allows for an important view that, so far, hasn’t been explicitly considered. The critical survey will be the task of the next two sections, while, in the remaining.. (shrink)
The thesis addresses the issues of error through misidentification and immunity to error through misidentification in relation to the problem of the first person. First, it provides an explanation of error through misidentification. Secondly, it shows that there are two possible ways of understanding immunity to error through misidentification. It is then argued that the first understanding of immunity to error through misidentification leads to what is labelled "the trilemma about the self". That is to say, either we provide an (...) explanation of immunity to error through misidentification, but we subscribe to two contentious metaphysical views about the self-the Cartesian and the Idealist; or else we hold the view that the self is identical with a human being, but we have no explanation of immunity to error through misidentification. It is then shown that in order to solve the trilemma, a different understanding of immunity to error through misidentification must be offered. After discussing various possible understandings of immunity to error through misidentification, a sound account of it is finally provided. Moreover, it is shown how non-inferential, introspection-based mental self-ascriptions can comply with it, in such a way that they turn out to be logically immune to error through misidentification. Finally, by drawing on Evans' and Peacocke's accounts of the possession conditions of the first person concept-in which IEM I-judgements play a central role-, it is shown that it is a concept of a human being who thinks of herself as such. Hence, our first person concept is firmly anti-Cartesian and anti-Idealist. As a consequence, it is maintained that not only is there no need to hold the Cartesian and the Idealist metaphysics of the self in order to explain why some I-judgements can be immune to error through misidentification, but it is also argued that one can no longer be either Cartesian or Idealist. For that would expose one to conceptual incoherence. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 217 - 234 The paper presents the key themes of my _Extended Rationality: A Hinge Epistemology_. It focuses, in particular, on the moderate account of perceptual justification, the constitutive response put forward against Humean skepticism, epistemic relativism, the closure principle, the transmission of warrant principle, as well as on the applications of the extended rationality view to the case of the principle of the uniformity of nature, testimony, and the justification of basic laws (...) of inference. (shrink)
The paper addresses the issue of human diagrammatic reasoning in the context of Euclidean geometry. It develops several philosophical categories which are useful for a description and an analysis of our experience while reasoning with diagrams. In particular, it draws the attention to the role of seeing-as; it analyzes its implications for proofs in Euclidean geometry and ventures the hypothesis that geometrical judgments are analytic and a priori, after all.
_ Source: _Volume 6, Issue 2-3, pp 79 - 96 The paper explores the idea of a “hinge epistemology,” considered as a theory about justification which gives center-stage to Wittgenstein’s notion of _hinges_. First, some basic methodological considerations regarding the relationship between merely exegetical work on Wittgenstein’s texts and more theoretically committed work are put forward. Then, the main problems raised in _On Certainty_ and the most influential interpretative lines it has given rise to so far are presented and discussed. (...) In light of the initial methodological considerations, some contemporary attempts at developing Wittgenstein’s ideas in an anti-skeptical direction, such as Crispin Wright’s and Michael Williams’s, are considered. Their intrinsic merits notwithstanding, it is argued that they fail to take proper measure of Wittgenstein’s own position. In closing, an alternative version of hinge epistemology is put forward and points of contact and disagreement with Wittgenstein’s own views are highlighted. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 6, Issue 2-3, pp 73 - 78 This introduction gives a summary of the content of the special issue _Hinge Epistemology_, grouping the papers in three sections: more exegetical accounts of Wittgenstein’s notion of hinge certainties and their bearing on a theory of justification and knowledge as well as on the topic of external world scepticism; papers critical of the very notion of hinge certainty; and papers that apply the notion to various areas of epistemology and compare (...) Wittgenstein’s views to those of other philosophers. (shrink)
The paper offers a critical review of Roberto Farnetiâs paper a minor philosophy. The state of the art of philosophical scholarship in Italy , recently published in Philosophia. It is argued that overall the status and interest of philosophy as practiced nowadays in Italy is less disappointing than Farneti makes out. It is also maintained that submitting papers to peer-refereed international journals can help cure the moral and sociological disease that besets the Italian academia, but that, as such, it is (...) less likely to improve the scientific quality of contributions in philosophy than Farneti claims. In passing, a few recommendations both to the philosophical community at large and to the Italian Government are put forward. (shrink)
In this paper I address the question of whether the fact that our colour experiences have a finer‐grained content than our ordinary colour concepts allow us to represent should be taken as a threat to theories of the conceptual content of experience. In particular, I consider and criticise McDowell's response to that argument and propose a possible development of it. As a consequence, I claim that the role of the argument from the finer‐grained content of experience has to be redefined. (...) In particular, I acknowledge that this problem is helpful in order to bring to the fore the issue of the proper characterisation of the constraints upon the possession conditions of perceptual demonstrative concepts. Yet, I contend that, in light of the foregoing discussion, it is neutral with respect to the dispute between conceptual and non‐conceptual theorists. For that dispute hinges on whether it is possible to have experiences with a certain content independently of having the concepts, which are needed for its canonical specification and not on whether those experiences are conceptualisable in all their finesse of grain. (shrink)
This paper deals with the question whether, and to what extent, perceptions can provide a justification for our empirical beliefs. In particular, it addresses the issue of whether they need to be conceptualized by a subject in order to play a justificatory role. It is argued that the conditions under which a subject can have perceptual representational contents and those under which those representational contents can play a justificatory role differ. The upshot is that perception can provide justification only for (...) the beliefs of those creatures who have a conceptual apparatus and are therefore in a position passively to exercise it in perception, even though also creatures devoid of concepts can and often do have perceptual representations. (shrink)
This Introduction to the special issue on “Skepticism and Justification” provides a background to the nine articles collected here and a detailed summary of each, which highlights their interconnections and relevance to the debate at the heart of the issue.
Moore’s proof of an external world 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 external world 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)
_ Source: _Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 281 - 295 The paper contains the replies to the comments made by Alan Millar, Yuval Avnur, Giorgio Volpe, and Maria Baghramian on my _Extended Rationality: A Hinge Epistemology_. It addresses, in particular, the nature of perceptual justification, the truth of hinges, my response to Humean skepticism and the issue of epistemic relativism.
It is a striking feature of philosophical reflection on the self that it often ends up being revisionary of our commonsensical intuition that it is identical to a living human being with, intrinsically, physical and psychological properties. As is well known, Descartes identified the self with a mental entity, Hume denied the existence of such an entity and Kant reduced it to a transcendental ego—to a mere condition of possibility for experience and thought. In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein followed Kant —or, (...) at any rate, the Kant made available to him through reading Schopenhauer—then, later, denied the existence of such an entity and proposed the no-reference view about at least some uses of “I”. Finally, Anscombe radicalized Wittgenstein’s views and claimed that no use of “I” is ever referential. It must be acknowledged that, despite the oddity of these views, philosophers have always arrived at their respective positions on the nature of the self through rational reflection: being impressed with some feature allegedly special to the use of “I” they have felt compelled to account for it by postulating a realm of super-entities which could explain such seeming peculiarities. Confronted with this tradition of revisionary accounts of the self, at least some contemporary theorists are now approaching the issue with a diagnostic eye, trying to identify the features that have led philosophers to embrace such positions, with the aim of offering a better understanding of them that could “give philosophy peace”. That is to say, that could make them compatible with the commonsensical view that selves are identical to living human beings and that “I”, either in speech or in thought, is a genuinely referential expression. So, for instance, Christopher Peacocke opens his influential and thought provoking “Self-knowledge and illusions of transcendence”1 with the following remarks. (shrink)