I argue that general constraints on how humans think about humans produce universal features of the concept of mind. Some of these constraints determine how we imagine other people's thinking and action through our own. I formulate this in opposition to what I call the "theory theory". I believe this was the first use of this terminology, and this work was an early version of what has come to be called the simulation theory.
I discuss a large number of emotions that are relevant to performance at epistemic tasks. My central concern is the possibility that it is not the emotions that are most relevant to success of these tasks but associated virtues. I present cases in which it does seem to be the emotions rather than the virtues that are doing the work. I end of the paper by mentioning the connections between desirable and undesirable epistemic emotions.
The claim of this paper is that the everyday functions of knowledge make most sense if we see knowledge as contrastive. That is, we can best understand how the concept does what it does by thinking in terms of a relation “a knows that p rather than q.” There is always a contrast with an alternative. Contrastive interpretations of knowledge, and objections to them, have become fairly common in recent philosophy. The version defended here is fairly mild in that there (...) is no suggestion that we cannot think in terms of a simpler not explicitly contrastive relation “a knows that p.” Some, for instance Schaffer (2005) and Karjalainen and Morton (2003), have hinted that this stronger possibility may be right. But all that I am arguing now is that facts that are easily expressed in contrastive terms are vital to understanding why we need the concept of knowledge. In a piece that is in some ways a companion to this one ("Contrastivism" in Duncan Pritchard and Sven Bernecker, eds. The Routledge Companion to Epistemology. Routledge 2010, 513-522), I give a general survey of theories of contrastive knowledge and the differences between them. (shrink)
An account of the virtues of limitation management: intellectual virtues of adapting to the fact that we cannot solve many of the problems that we can describe. I argue that the best response to many problems depends not on the most rationally promising solution, but on the most likely route to success. I argue against techniques that assume that one will fulfil ones intentions, and distinguish between failures of rationality and failures of intelligence. I describe the trap of supposing that (...) one will be capable of following the plan that would best exploit ones limited resources. (shrink)
I discussed the ways in which folk psychology is influenced by the need for small-scale cooperation between people. I argue that considerations about cooperation and mutual benefit can be found in the everyday concepts of belief, desire, and motivation. I describe what I call "solution thinking", where a person anticipates another person's actions by first determining the solution to the cooperative problem that the person faces and then reasoning backwards to a prediction of individual action.
I argue that on an understanding of imagination that relates it to an individual's environment rather than her mental contents imagination is essential to emotion, and brings together affective, cognitive, and representational aspects to emotion. My examples focus on morally important emotions, especially retrospective emotions such as shame, guilt, and remorse, which require that one imagine points of view on one's own actions. PUBLISHER'S BLURB: Recent years have seen an enormous amount of philosophical research into the emotions and the imagination, (...) but as yet little work has been done to connect the two. In his engaging and highly original new book, Adam Morton shows that all emotions require some form of imagination and goes on to fully explore the link between these two important concepts both within philosophy and in everyday life. We may take it for granted that complex emotions, such as hope and resentment, require a rich thinking and an engagement with the imagination, but Morton shows how more basic and responsive emotions such as fear and anger also require us to take account of possibilities and opportunities beyond the immediate situation. Interweaving a powerful tapestry of subtle argument with vivid detail, the book highlights that many emotions, more than we tend to suppose, require us to imagine a situation from a particular point of view and that this in itself can be the source of further emotional feeling. Morton goes on to demonstrate the important role that emotions play in our moral lives, throwing light on emotions such as self-respect, disapproval, and remorse, and the price we pay for having them. He explores the intricate nature of moral emotions and the challenges we face when integrating our thinking on morality and the emotions. This compelling and thought-provoking new book challenges many assumptions about the nature of emotion and imagination and will appeal to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the role that these concepts play in our lives. The book also has far reaching implications that will spark debate amongst scholars and students for some time to come. (shrink)
We describe the three place relation of contrastive knowledge, which holds between a person, a target proposition, and a contrasting proposition. The person knows that p rather than that q. We argue for three claims about this relation. (a) Many common sense and philosophical ascriptions of knowledge can be understood in terms of it. (b) Its application is subject to fewer complications than non-contrastive knowledge is. (c) It applies over a wide range of human and nonhuman cases.
I relate plural quantification, and predicate logic where predicates do not need a fixed number of argument places, to the part-whole relation. For more on these themes see later work by Boolos, Lewis, and Oliver & Smiley.
I try to differentiate evil from ordinary wrong-doing without succumbing to a demonic account of evilthat makes the motivation for awful actions different in kind to that for less awful ones. I argue that much - not all - evil is perpetrated by people disturbingly like the rest of us. I discuss the possibility that evil is a dangerous and self-perpetuating concept, licencing us to label people in ways that encourage atrocity. I allow that there is a lot to this (...) suggestion while also insisting that the distinction between wrong and evil is robust. I raise the possibility that evil and ordinary wrong are in some ways orthogonal, so that one act may be more wrong but less evil than another (and conversely.) I might add that my account has nothing to do with theodicy. In fact I think the traditional 'problem of evil' is a distraction from more important issues. (shrink)
Taking literally the concept of emotional truth requires breaking the monopoly on truth of belief-like states. To this end, I look to perceptions for a model of non-propositional states that might be true or false, and to desires for a model of propositional attitudes the norm of which is other than the semantic satisfaction of their propositional object. Those models inspire a conception of generic truth, which can admit of degrees for analogue representations such as emotions; belief-like states, by contrast, (...) are digital representations. I argue that the gravest problem-objectivity-is not insurmountable. /// [Adam Morton] It is accuracy rather than truth itself that is valuable. Emotional truth is a dubious though attractive notion, but emotional accuracy is much easier to make sense of. My approach to accuracy goes via an account of what makes a story accurate. Stories can be accurate but not true, and emotions can be accurate whether or not they are true. The capacity for emotional accuracy, for emotions that fit a person's situation, is an aspect of emotional intelligence, which is as important an aspect of rational human agency as the intelligent formation of beliefs and desires. (shrink)
This paper begins with a discussion the role of less-than-admirable epistemic emotions in our respectable, indeed admirable inquiries: nosiness, obsessiveness, wishful thinking, denial, partisanship. The explanation for their desirable effect is Mandevillian: because of the division of epistemic labour individual epistemic vices can lead to shared knowledge. In fact it is sometimes essential to it.
I argue that folk psychology does not serve the purpose of facilitating prediction of others' behaviour but if facilitating cooperative action. (See my subsequent book *The Importance of Being Understood*.
We give a general description of a class of contrastive constructions, intended to capture what is common to contrastive knowledge, belief, hope, fear, understanding and other cases where one expresses a propositional attitude in terms of “rather than”. The crucial element is the agent's incapacity to distinguish some possibilities from others. Contrastivity requires a course-graining of the set of possible worlds. As a result, contrastivity will usually cut across logical consequence, so that an agent can have an attitude to p (...) rather than q but not to r rather than q , where r is a logical consequence of p . We relate these ideas to some general issues about thought, such as the question of whether all possibilities that can be distinguished in emotion can be distinguished in belief. (shrink)
This is a reply to de Sousa's 'Emotional Truth', in which he argues that emotions can be objective, as propositional truths are. I say that it is better to distinguish between truth and accuracy, and agree with de Sousa to the extent of arguing that emotions can be more or less accurate, that is, based on the facts as they are.
I argue that considerations about computational complexity show that all finite agents need characteristics like those that have been called epistemic virtues. The necessity of these virtues follows in part from the nonexistence of shortcuts, or efficient ways of finding shortcuts, to cognitively expensive routines. It follows that agents must possess the capacities – metavirtues –of developing in advance the cognitive virtues they will need when time and memory are at a premium.
I discuss the possibility that there is no intrinsic unity to the capacities which are bundled under the label "folk psychology". Cooperative skills, attributional skills, and predictive skills may be scattered as parts of other non--psychological capacities. I discuss how some forms of social life bring these different skills together. I end with some remarks on how abilities that are not unified in their essential mechanisms may still form a rough practical unity. (Remark: the paper is conjectural. It describes a (...) possibility to take seriously rather than a conclusion of which I am convinced.). (shrink)
[Ronald de Sousa] Taking literally the concept of emotional truth requires breaking the monopoly on truth of belief-like states. To this end, I look to perceptions for a model of non-propositional states that might be true or false, and to desires for a model of propositional attitudes the norm of which is other than the semantic satisfaction of their propositional object. Those models inspire a conception of generic truth, which can admit of degrees for analogue representations such as emotions; belief-like (...) states, by contrast, are digital representations. I argue that the gravest problem-objectivity-is not insurmountable. /// [Adam Morton ] It is accuracy rather than truth itself that is valuable. Emotional truth is a dubious though attractive notion, but emotional accuracy is much easier to make sense of. My approach to accuracy goes via an account of what makes a story accurate. Stories can be accurate but not true, and emotions can be accurate whether or not they are true. The capacity for emotional accuracy, for emotions that fit a person's situation, is an aspect of emotional intelligence, which is as important an aspect of rational human agency as the intelligent formation of beliefs and desires. (shrink)
I compare our idioms for quantifying into belief contexts to our idioms for quantifying into intention contexts. The latter is complicated by the fact that there is always a discrepancy between the action as intended and the action as performed. The article contains - this is written long after it appeared - an early version of a tracking or sensitivity analysis of the relation between a thought and its object.
I discuss Quine's claim that anyone denying what we now take to be a logical truth would be using logical words in a novel way. I trace this to a confusions between outright denial and failure to assert, and assertion of a negation. (This abstract is written from memory decades after the article.).
This introduction to the translation of Henri Lefebvre's 1956 essay “The theory of ground rent and rural Sociology” moves through three stages. First, it suggests that Anglophone appropriations of Lefebvre have tended to focus too much on his urban writings, at the expense of understanding his early work on rural sociology, and failing to recognise how his urban focus emerged as a result of his interest in rural–urban transformation. Second, it provides a summary of his wider work on rural questions, (...) including his unfinished work on a major treatise of rural sociology; and outlines the key themes of the present essay in relation to these other projects. Third, it connects Lefebvre's issues to wider debates in political economy and geography about aspects of the rural, land and ground rent, not least including the work of Antonio Gramsci and José Carlos Mariátegui. (shrink)
I argue against the Ramsey test connecting indicative conditionals with conditional probability, by means of examples in which conditional probability is high but the conditional is intuitively implausible. At the end of the paper, I connect these issues to patterns of belief revision.
(for Adam Morton's half) I argue that if we take the values of persons to be ordered in a way that allows incomparability, then the problems Broome raises have easy solutions. In particular we can maintain that creating people is morally neutral while killing them has a negative value.
A critical exposition of plans to colonize other planets , especially Mars, and their costs. The final chapter links with issues about the value and future of human life. See the extended summary uploaded to this site.
I classify emotions in the family of regret, remorse, and so on, in such a way that it is easy to see how there can be further emotions in this family, for which we happened not to have names in English. I describe some of these emotions.
I give cases where the contrast between "if Shakespeare had not written Hamlet someone else would have" and "if Shakespeare did not write Hamlet and someone else did"is found in future tense sentences. This is often denied.
I argue that there is a blinkering effect to decency. Being a morally sensitive person, and having internalized a code of behavior that restricts the range of actions that one takes as live options for oneself, constrains one’s imagination. It becomes harder to identify imaginatively with mportant parts of human possibility. In particular—the part of the claim that I will argue for in this chapter—it limits one’s capacity to empathize with those who perform atrocious acts. They become alien to one. (...) This is an obstacle to understanding many important, if awful, human actions. But it also creates obstacles to understanding some very ordinary,relatively harmless, actions. It is a problem that decent people have to grapple with. (These themes are developed further in my book *Emotion and Imagination* Polity 2013.). (shrink)
Scale matters in morality, so that different factors occupy us at high and low scales. Different people are needed to be good neighbours in everyday life and moral heroes in crises. There is no reason to believe that the same traits are required for both. So there is no such thing as the all-round good person.
The third edition of this highly acclaimed text is ideal for introductory courses in epistemology. Assuming little or no philosophical knowledge, it guides beginning students through the landmarks in epistemology, covering historically important topics as well as current issues and debates.
I discuss Goodman's claim that when 'all As are Bs' is a law then the counterfactual 'if a were an A, it would be a B' is tue. I give counterexamples, and link the failure of the connection to the contrast between higher level and lower level laws.
Over the last forty years several historians have drawn attention to aspects of the activities of lecturers on natural philosophy in Britain in the eighteenth century. Hans and others looked at the part these lecturers played in the development of education, particularly adult education. Musson and Robinson considered the possible connection between the work of the lecturers and the growth of industry, and Inkster and others have explored the relationship between lecturers and the institutions set up to support science, especially (...) around 1800.4 More recently, Schaffer has pointed to the parallels between the performances of the lecturers on natural philosophy and other contemporary cultural activities. As a consequence of these studies we know much more about the work of the lecturers, its significance, and, to a lesser extent, their relationship to their audience. (shrink)
Is there such a thing as bounded rationality? I first try to make sense of the question, and then to suggest which of the disambiguated versions might have answers. We need an account of bounded rationality that takes account of detailed contingent facts about the ways in which human beings fail to perform as we might ideally want to. But we should not think in terms of rules or norms which define good responses to an individual's limitations, but rather in (...) terms of desiderata, situations that limited agents can hope to achieve, and corresponding virtues of achieving them. We should not take formal theories defining optimal behavior in watered-down bounded form, even though they can impose enormous computational or cognitive demands. (shrink)
I survey the previous 20 years work on the nature of folk psychology, with particular emphasis on the original debate between theory theorists and simulation theorists, and the positions that have emerged from this debate.
Mathematical models provide explanations of limited power of specific aspects of phenomena. One way of articulating their limits here, without denying their essential powers, is in terms of contrastive explanation.
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