It has become standard to conceive of metalinguistic disagreement as motivated by a form of negotiation, aimed at reaching consensus because of the practical consequences of using a word with one content rather than another. This paper presents an alternative motive for expressing and pursuing metalinguistic disagreement. In using words with given criteria, we betray our location amongst social categories or groups. Because of this, metalinguistic disagreement can be used as a stage upon which to perform a social identity. The (...) ways in which metalinguistic disagreements motivated in this way diverge in character from metalinguistic negotiations are described, as are several consequences of the existence of metalinguistic disagreements motivated in this way. (shrink)
This is the English (and extended version) of an interview originally published in Estonian in October 2018. In the interview, Simpson summarizes a particular way of defending the practice of no-platforming. The varying appeal of different defences of the practice in different socio-historical contexts (i.e. the UK/US versus a post-Soviet country such as Estonia) is discussed also.
In the 1980s and 1990s, a series of attempts were made to put into U.S. law a civil rights ordinance that would make it possible to sue the makers and distributors of pornography for doing so (under certain conditions). One defence of such legislation has come to be called "the free speech argument against pornography." Philosophers Rae Langton, Jennifer Hornsby and Caroline West have supposed that this defence of the legislation can function as a liberal defence of the legislation: in (...) particular, a defence of the legislation based on the value of women's liberty. This would be somewhat unexpected given MacKinnon's own antipathy toward liberalism. In this paper, I argue that the free speech argument against pornography cannot be used as a liberal defence of the ordinances. The legislation is, to some extent, self-defeating insofar as it understood in terms acceptable to a fairly standard kind of liberal. This becomes apparent when we consider the value pornography can have for women, which we can see if we consider what female makers, distributors and consumers of pornography have to say about why they make, distribute and consume it. (shrink)
Infallibilism is commonly rejected because it is apparently subject to easy counter-examples. I describe a strategy that infallibilists can use to resist this objection. Because the sentences used in the counter-examples to express evidence and belief are context-sensitive, the infallibilist can insist that such counter-examples trade on a vacillation between different readings of these sentences. I describe what difficulties await those who try to produce counter-examples against which the proposed strategy is ineffective.
Epistemologists typically assume that the acquisition of knowledge from testimony is not threatened at the stage at which audiences interpret what proposition a speaker has asserted. Attention is instead typically paid to the epistemic status of a belief formed on the basis of testimony that it is assumed has the same content as the speaker’s assertion. Andrew Peet has pioneered an account of how linguistic context sensitivity can threaten the assumption. His account locates the threat in contexts in which an (...) audience’s evidence under-determines which proposition a speaker is asserting. I argue that Peet’s epistemic uncertainty account of the threat is mistaken and I propose an alternative. The alternative locates the threat in contexts that provide factors that give audiences a mistaken psychological certainty or confidence that a speaker has asserted a proposition she has not. (shrink)
Mark Richard argues for truth-relativism about claims made using gradable adjectives. He argues that truth-relativism is the best explanation of two kinds of linguistic data, which I call: true cross-contextual reports and infelicitous denials of conflict. Richard claims that such data are generated by an example that he discusses at length. However, the consensus is that these linguistic data are illusory because they vanish when elaborations are added to examples of the same kind as Richard’s original. In this paper I (...) defend the reality of Richard’s data. I show that, in trying to make their point, Richard’s critics have focused upon examples that are similar in some respects to Richard’s original but which lack a crucial feature of that original. When we ensure that this feature is in place, elaborations which make the data vanish are not possible. Richard’s critics therefore fail to show that the data generated by Richard’s original example are illusory. (shrink)
It's sometimes thought that context-invariant linguistic meaning must be a character (a function from context types to contents) i.e. that linguistic meaning must determine how the content of an expression is fixed in context. This is thought because if context-invariant linguistic meaning were not a character then communication would not be possible. In this paper, I explain how communication could proceed even if context-invariant linguistic meaning were not a character.
Several philosophers have recently claimed that if a proposition is cancellable from an uttered sentence then that proposition is not entailed by that uttered sentence. The claim should be a familiar one. It has become a standard device in the philosopher's tool-kit. I argue that this claim is false. There is a kind of entailment—which I call “modal entailment”—that is context-sensitive and, because of this, cancellable. So cancellability does not show that a proposition is not entailed by an uttered sentence. (...) I close the paper by describing an implication this has for a disagreement between J. L. Austin and Grice concerning the relation between felicity and truth. (shrink)
Anosognosia is literally ‘unawareness of or failure to acknowledge one’s hemi- plegia or other disability’ (OED). Etymology would suggest the meaning ‘lack of knowledge of disease’ so that anosognosia would include any denial of impairment, such as denial of blindness (Anton’s syndrome). But Babinski, who introduced the term in 1914, applied it only to patients with hemiplegia who fail to acknowledge their paralysis. Most commonly, this is failure to acknowledge paralysis of the left side of the body following damage to (...) the right hemisphere of the brain. In this paper, we shall mainly be concerned with anosognosia for hemiplegia. But we shall also use the term ‘anosognosia’ in an inclusive way to encompass lack of knowledge or acknowledgement of any impairment. Indeed, in the construction ‘anosognosia for X’, X might even be anosognosia for some Y. (shrink)
International research guidance has shifted towards an increasingly proactive inclusion of children and adolescents in health research in recognition of the need for more evidence-based treatment. Strong calls have been made for the active involvement of children and adolescents in developing research proposals and policies, including in decision-making about research participation. Much evidence and debate on this topic has focused on high-income settings, while the greatest health burdens and research gaps occur in low-middle income countries, highlighting the need to take (...) account of voices from more diverse contexts. Between January and March 2014, 56 community representatives and secondary school students were involved in eight group discussions to explore views on the acceptability of involving children and adolescents in research, and how these groups should be involved in decision-making about their own participation. Discussions were voice-recorded and transcriptions analyzed using Framework Analysis, combining deductive and inductive approaches. Across these discussions, the idea of involving children and adolescents in decision-making about research participation was strongly supported given similar levels of responsibility carried in everyday life; existing capacity that should be recognized; the opportunity for learning involved; varying levels of parental control; and generational shifts towards greater understanding of science for adolescents than their parents. Joint decision-making processes were supported for older children and adolescents, with parental control influenced by perceptions of the risks involved in participation. Moves towards more active involvement of children and adolescents in planning studies and in making decisions about their participation are supported by these findings from Kenya. Important emerging considerations include the need to take account of the nature of proposed studies and prevailing attitudes and understanding of research in identifying children’s and adolescents’ roles. More research is needed to expand diversity and develop approaches to joint assent and consent processes that would fairly represent children’s and adolescents’ wishes and interests, towards their long term benefit. (shrink)
The incommensurability of two theories seems to problematize theory comparisons, which allow for the selection of the better of the two theories. If so, it becomes puzzling how the quality of theories can improve with time, i.e. how science can progress across changes in incommensurable theories. I argue that in papers published in the 1990s, Kuhn provided a novel way to resolve this apparent tension between incommensurability and scientific progress. He put forward an account of their compatibility which worked not (...) by downplaying the negative consequences of incommensurability but instead by allowing them to reach their natural end: a process of specialisation. This development in Kuhn’s thought has yet to be properly recorded but it is also interesting in its own right. It shows how a robust version of incommensurability—one which really does have severe negative consequences for scientists’ capacity to perform comparative evaluations of incommensurable theories—need make no puzzle of the progress of science. (shrink)
The rubber hand paradigm is used to create the illusion of self-touch, by having the participant administer stimulation to a prosthetic hand while the Examiner, with an identical stimulus , administers stimulation to the participant’s hand. With synchronous stimulation, participants experience the compelling illusion that they are touching their own hand. In the current study, the robustness of this illusion was assessed using incongruent stimuli. The participant used the index finger of the right hand to administer stimulation to a prosthetic (...) hand while the Examiner used a paintbrush to administer stimulation to the participant’s left hand. The results indicate that this violation of tactile expectations does not diminish the illusion of self-touch. Participants experienced the illusion despite the use of incongruent stimuli, both when vision was precluded and when visual feedback provided clear evidence of the tactile mismatch. (shrink)
According to telling based views of testimony (TBVs), B has reason to believe that p when A tells B that p because A thereby takes public responsibility for B's subsequent belief that p. Andrew Peet presents a new argument against TBVs. He argues that insofar as A uses context-sensitive expressions to express p, A doesn't take public responsibility for B's belief that p. Since context-sensitivity is widespread, the kind of reason TBVs say we have to believe what we're told, is (...) not widespread. Peet doesn't identify any problem with his own argument though he does attempt to limit its sceptical potential by identifying special contexts in which TBVs stand a chance of success. A more general defence of TBVs can be provided by showing Peet's argument to be unsound. I argue that Peet's argument is unsound because it requires us to wrongly suppose that speakers do far less labour than their audiences in context-sensitive linguistic communication. I aim to show why—in the context of the epistemology of testimony and the philosophy of language—it's important to recognize the labour that speakers can do, and so can can be held responsible for not doing, in episodes of context-sensitive linguistic communication. (shrink)
Using a combination of semantic theory and findings from conversation analysis, this paper describes a way in which questions, which incorporate presuppositions that are false, when used in a courtroom cross-examination wherein there are certain turn-taking rules, rights and restrictions, stop a rape victim from expressing the content that she wants to express in that context. This kind of silencing contrasts with other kinds of silencing that consist in the disabling of a speech act's force, rather than precluding the expression (...) of certain contents. -/- Trigger warning: there are explicit descriptions of sexual violence in this paper. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThere is a growing body of literature describing conceptual frameworks for working with participatory visual methods. Through a global health lens, this paper examines some key themes within these frameworks. We reflect on our experiences of working with with an array of PVM to engage community members in Vietnam, Kenya, the Philippines and South Africa in biomedical research and public health. The participants that we have engaged in these processes live in under-resourced areas with high prevalence of communicable and non-communicable (...) diseases. Our paper describes some of the challenges that we have encountered while using PVM to foster knowledge exchange, build relationships and facilitate change among individuals and families, community members, health workers, biomedical scientists and researchers. We consider multiple ethical situations that have arisen through our work and discuss the ways in which we have navigated and negotiated them. We offer our reflections and learning from facil... (shrink)
This paper presents experimental evidence in support of the existence of metalinguistic moral encroachment: the influence of the moral consequences of using a word with a given content upon the content of that word. The evidence collected implies that the effect of moral factors upon content is weak. The implications of this for Esa Díaz-León’s recent attempt to show how Jennifer Saul can legitimately reject an empirical semantic hypothesis on political grounds are described. Directions for future research are also described.
For the last 25 years, human development has become part of official development discourses. It takes the normative position that the success of policies depends on whether they have expanded human flourishing, or expanded the 'freedoms' or 'capabilities' people have 'reason to value', as Amartya Sen would put it. It emphasises the importance of institutions to facilitate such expansion, and the agency of people to create such institutions. The ability of institutions to be conducive to human flourishing depends on the (...) nature of human interaction. When human interaction no longer has the flourishing of other persons as its aim, it can create structures which then constrain human agency. The article argues that the human development perspective could be enriched by theological insights such as structural sin and the contribution of religious narratives to public reasoning. It concentrates on the idea of justice of one biblical parable, and illustrates its argument with examples from the Argentine labour context. (shrink)
John MacFarlane argues against objectivism about “tasty”/”not tasty” in the following way. If objectivism were true then, given that speakers use “tasty”/”not tasty” in accordance with a rule, TP, speakers would be using an evidently unreliable method to form judgements and make claims about what is tasty. Since this is implausible, objectivism must be false. In this paper, I describe a context in which speakers deviate from TP. I argue that MacFarlane's argument against objectivism fails when applied to uses of (...) “not tasty” within this context. So objectivism about “not tasty” is still a viable position within this context. (shrink)
In the literature on linguistic context-sensitivity, a recurrent move has been made with the intention of attacking Charles Travis's occasion-sensitivity. The move is to provide a semantic analysis of the meaning of an expression which makes the content of that expression context sensitive but without providing any reason to think that the meaning of the expression is a character. I argue that this move is off-target. Such proposals are entirely consistent with occasion-sensitivity and so don't constitute an attack on it.
This is not a critical review of Travis' book. It's an attempt to summarize the key thesis (occasion-sensitivity) in a way that makes the book accessible and distinguishes it from similar looking theses (such as relevance theory and truth-conditional pragmatics).
Inattentional blindness studies have shown that an unexpected object may go unnoticed if it does not share the property specified in the task instructions. Our aim was to demonstrate that observers develop an attentional set for a property not specified in the task instructions if it allows easier performance of the primary task. Three experiments were conducted using a dynamic selective-looking paradigm. Stimuli comprised four black squares and four white diamonds, so that shape and colour varied together. Task instructions specified (...) shape but observers developed an attentional set for colour, because we made the black–white discrimination easier than the square–diamond discrimination. None of the observers instructed to count bounces by squares reported an unexpected white square, whereas two-thirds of observers instructed to count bounces by diamonds did report the white square. When attentional set departs from task instructions, you may fail to see what you were told to look for. (shrink)
This paper is about the shaping of student workload preferences by educational institution design, and how this creates distrust by staff in those preferences when staff are asked to use those preferences in re-designing the courses they teach. It is a case study of the construction of student workload preferences by the context of a particular higher education institution. In more detail: Failures to standardize the work required to receive equal credit points from different courses make credit points unfit for (...) their official purposes. Moreover, increasingly, institutions are found where students are required to take a high number of courses simultaneously. This study aimed to identify plausible hypotheses about how high course-loads and standardization failure interact by examining credit point standardization failure at an Estonian university where students are required to take twice as many courses as their peers at better performing universities. The hypotheses supported by the study are: the high course-load both made standardization failure useful to students seeking to manage the high course-load and contributed toward standardization failure because it rendered students’ assessments of workload untrustworthy to lecturers who regulate that workload. Existing advice on standardization of workloads within the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is criticized for its insensitivity to the constructive effects of course-load on student workload preferences. (shrink)
The rubber hand paradigm is used to create the illusion of self-touch, by having the participant administer stimulation to a prosthetic hand while the Examiner, with an identical stimulus, administers stimulation to the participant’s hand. With synchronous stimulation, participants experience the compelling illusion that they are touching their own hand. In the current study, the robustness of this illusion was assessed using incongruent stimuli. The participant used the index finger of the right hand to administer stimulation to a prosthetic hand (...) while the Examiner used a paintbrush to administer stimulation to the participant’s left hand. The results indicate that this violation of tactile expectations does not diminish the illusion of self-touch. Participants experienced the illusion despite the use of incongruent stimuli, both when vision was precluded and when visual feedback provided clear evidence of the tactile mismatch. (shrink)
This thesis has two parts. In Part I there is an argument for the conclusion that a linguistic phenomenon known as (radical) context-sensitivity is to be expected given the limitations of those who use language to reason about empirical states of affairs. The phenomenon arises as a consequence of a process that must be performed to use language to reason validly. In Part II it is explained why the phenomenon, understood in light of the discussion of Part I, does not (...) threaten the possibility of communication. Some potential readers might be interested to know that in Part I there's a fair amount of exegesis of arguments for the existence of (radical) context-sensitivity put forward by Charles Travis. Some potential readers might be interested to know that in Part II use is made of work by Erving Goffman and some conversation analysts. (shrink)
While fraught with ambiguities, support for greater public participation in environmental policy making is experiencing a renaissance amongst sections of government and academia, particularly within the field of land-use planning. There is concern within this cohort that the planning system silences public voices through its current mechanisms for community involvement. Proponents of participation often presuppose that more public participation will produce both 'better' decisions and environmental benefits, but to date research has focused on the front-end, or 'processes', of participation rather (...) than the 'products' that result. While procedural aspects of public participation are important it is imperative that critical consideration is also given to what emerges from the participation that is being exalted. This paper addresses this concern by focusing on the products of a public participation exercise conducted in Luton, South-east England in order to consider what it is that 'silence knows'. (shrink)
Successful prototype marine chronometers, developed by Harrison and others in the eighteenth century, stimulated a sector of the British watchmaking industry to supply Admiralty and commercial demand for this instrument. Chronometers, like other British-made timepieces, were constructed by an elaborate pre-industrial method of production. The instrument's static technology and extreme durability meant replacement demand was minimal, and new demand was low relative to existing stock and the industry's capacity. The First World War created a final surge of demand that left (...) supplies far in excess of peacetime needs; and a new technology—radio transmissions of time signals—offered an alternative method of determining Greenwich time, and thus longitude, at sea. (shrink)
One can attack a philosophical claim by identifying a misuse of the language used to state it. I distinguish between two varieties of this strategy: one belonging to Norman Malcolm and the other to Ludwig Wittgenstein. The former is flawed and easily dismissible as misled linguistic conservatism. It muddies the name of ordinary language philosophy. I argue that the latter avoids this flaw. To make perspicuous the kind of criticism of philosophical claims that the second variety makes available, I draw (...) a comparison between Wittgenstein’s recommendation that philosophers study ordinary language and Alfred Schütz’s recommendation that social scientists study the methods of the agents they study. Both do so in an attempt to sensitise philosophers and social scientists respectively to particular artefacts of method which can be easily mistaken for features of that which is studied. (shrink)
The search for a worldwide environmental ethic is linked to the increase in environmental concern since the 1960s, and the recognition that environmental problems can have a global impact. Numerous people and organizations have put forward their understanding of the necessary components of such an ethic and these have converged in a series of international statements. A small number of common elements have emerged. These can be expressed in 10 ‘premises’, which may form the basis for developing into an acceptable (...) worldwide ethic, along the lines called for in the revised World Conservation Strategy, Caring for the Earth, 1991. (shrink)