It is widely agreed that sentences containing a non-denoting description embedded in the scope of a propositional attitude verb have true de dicto interpretations, and Russell's (1905) analysis of definite descriptions is often praised for its simple analysis of such cases, cf. e.g. Neale (1990). However, several people, incl. Elbourne (2005, 2009), Heim (1991), and Kripke (2005), have contested this by arguing that Russell's analysis yields incorrect predictions in non-doxastic attitude contexts. Heim and Elbourne have subsequently argued that once certain (...) facts about presupposition projection are fully appreciated, the Frege/Strawson analysis of definite descriptions has an explanatory advantage. In this paper, I argue that both Russell's analysis and the Frege/Strawson analysis face a serious problem when it comes to the interaction of attitude verbs and definite descriptions. I argue that the problem observed by Elbourne, Heim, and Kripke is much more general than standardly assumed and that a solution requires a revision of the semantics of definite and indefinite descriptions. I outline the conditions that are required to solve the problem and present an analysis couched in dynamic semantics which can provide a solution. I conclude by discussing some further issues related to propositional attitude verbs that complicate a fully general solution to the problem. (shrink)
The overarching topic of this dissertation is the semantics and pragmatics of definite descriptions. It focuses on the question whether sentences such as ‘the king of France is bald’ literally assert the existence of a unique king or simply presuppose the existence of such a king. One immediate obstacle to resolving this question is that immediate truth value judgments about such sentences are particularly unstable; some elicit a clear intuition of falsity whereas others simply seem awkward or strange. Because of (...) these variations, truth value judgments are generally considered unreliable. In the first chapter of the dissertation, an explanation of this phenomenon is developed. It is observed that when these types of sentences are considered in the context of a discourse, a systematic pattern in judgments emerges. This pattern, it is argued, should be explained in terms of certain pragmatic factors, e.g. whether a speaker’s utterance is interpreted as cooperative. A detailed and general explanation of the phenomenon is then presented which draws importantly on recent research in the semantics and pragmatics of questions and focus. It is shown that the behavior of these judgments can be systematically explained, that truth value judgments are not as unreliable as standardly assumed, and that the proposed explanation best supports the conclusion that definite descriptions presuppose rather than assert existence. In the second chapter, the following problem is investigated. If definite descriptions are assumed to literally assert existence, a sentence such as ‘Hans wants the ghost in his attic to be quiet’ is incorrectly predicted to be true only if Hans wants there to be a ghost in his attic. This prediction is often considered evidence against Russell’s quantificational analysis and evidence in favor of the referential analysis of Frege and Strawson. Against this claim, it is demonstrated that this problem is a general problem about the existence commitments of natural language determiners, i.e. not an argument in favor of a referential analysis. It is shown that in order to avoid these undesirable predictions, quite radical changes to the semantic framework are required. For example, it must be assumed that a sentence of the form ‘The F is G’ has the open sentence ‘x is G’ as its asserted content. A uniform quantificational and presuppositional analysis of definites and indefinites is outlined which by exploiting certain features of so-called dynamic semantics unproblematically assumes that the asserted contents indeed are open sentences. In view of the proposed quantificational/presuppositional analysis, the dissertation is concluded by a rejection of the argument put forward by Reimer and Devitt that definite descriptions are ambiguous between attributive and referential uses. Reimer and Devitt’s argument is based primarily on the assumption that definite descriptions are conventionally used to communicate singular thoughts and that the conventional meaning of a definite description therefore must be fundamentally indexical/directly referential. I argue that this argument relies crucially on tacit assumptions about semantic processing for which no empirical evidence is provided. I also argue that the argument is too general; if sound, it would be an argument for an indexical treatment of most, if not all, other determiners. I then conclude by demonstrating that the view does not explain any new data and thus has no clear motivation. In short, this dissertation provides a detailed pragmatic explanation of a long-standing puzzle about truth value judgments and then outlines a novel dynamic semantic analysis of definites and indefinites. This analysis solves a significant problem about existence commitments — a problem that neither Russell’s nor the Frege/Strawson analysis are equipped to handle. This analysis is then defended against the claim that definite descriptions are ambiguous. (shrink)
It is sometimes argued that certain sentences of natural language fail to express truth conditional contents. Standard examples include e.g. Tipper is ready and Steel is strong enough. In this paper, we provide a novel analysis of truth conditional meaning using the notion of a question under discussion. This account explains why these types of sentences are not, in fact, semantically underdetermined, provides a principled analysis of the process by which natural language sentences can come to have enriched meanings in (...) context, and shows why various alternative views, e.g. so-called Radical Contextualism, Moderate Contextualism, and Semantic Minimalism, are partially right in their respective analyses of the problem, but also all ultimately wrong. Our analysis achieves this result using a standard truth conditional and compositional semantics and without making any assumptions about enriched logical forms, i.e. logical forms containing phonologically null expressions. (shrink)
The orthodox view of proper names, Millianism, provides a very simple and elegant explanation of the semantic contribution of referential uses of names–names that occur as bare singulars and as the argument of a predicate. However, one problem for Millianism is that it cannot explain the semantic contribution of predicative uses of names. In recent years, an alternative view, so-called the-predicativism, has become increasingly popular. According to the-predicativists, names are uniformly count nouns. This straightforwardly explains why names can be used (...) predicatively, but is prima facie less congenial to an analysis of referential uses. To address this issue, the-predicativists argue that referential names are in fact complex determiner phrases consisting of a covert definite determiner and a count noun—and so, a referential name is a definite description. In this paper, I will argue that despite the appearance of increased theoretical complexity, the view that names are ambiguous between predicative and referential types is in fact superior to the unitary the-predicativist view. However, I will also argue that to see why this ambiguity view is better, we need to give up the standard Millian analysis. Consequently, I will first propose an alternative analysis of referential names that retains the virtues of Millianism, but provides an important explanatory connection to the predicative uses. Once this analysis of names is adopted, the explanation for why names are systematically ambiguous between referential and predicative types is both simple and elegant. Second, I will argue that the-predicativism has the appearance of being simpler than an ambiguity view, but is in fact unable to account for certain key properties of referential names without making ad hoc stipulations. (shrink)
Todd (2016) proposes an analysis of future-directed sentences, in particular sentences of the form 'will(φ)', that is based on the classic Russellian analysis of definite descriptions. Todd's analysis is supposed to vindicate the claim that the future is metaphysically open while retaining a simple Ockhamist semantics of future contingents and the principles of classical logic, i.e. bivalence and the law of excluded middle. Consequently, an open futurist can straightforwardly retain classical logic without appeal to supervaluations, determinacy operators, or any further (...) controversial semantical or metaphysical complication. In this paper, we will show that this quasi-Russellian analysis of 'will' both lacks linguistic motivation and faces a variety of significant problems. In particular, we show that the standard arguments for Russell's treatment of definite descriptions fail to apply to statements of the form 'will(φ)'. (shrink)
Since the famous debate between Russell (Mind 14: 479–493, 1905, Mind 66: 385–389, 1957) and Strawson (Mind 59: 320–344, 1950; Introduction to logical theory, 1952; Theoria, 30: 96–118, 1964) linguistic intuitions about truth values have been considered notoriously unreliable as a guide to the semantics of definite descriptions. As a result, most existing semantic analyses of definites leave a large number of intuitions unexplained. In this paper, I explore the nature of the relationship between truth value intuitions and non-referring definites. (...) Inspired by comments in Strawson (Introduction to logical theory, 1964), I argue that given certain systematic considerations, one can provide a structured explanation of conflicting intuitions. I show that the intuitions of falsity, which proponents of a Russellian analysis often appeal to, result from evaluating sentences in relation to specific questions in context. This is shown by developing a method for predicting when sentences containing non-referring definites elicit intuitions of falsity. My proposed analysis draws importantly on Roberts (in: Yoon & Kathol (eds.) OSU working papers in Linguistics: vol. 49: Papers in Semantics 1998; in: Horn & Ward (eds.) Handbook of pragmatics, 2004) and recent research in the semantics and pragmatics of focus. (shrink)
In recent years, a new argument in favor of Donnellan’s (Philos Rev 77: 281–304, 1966) semantic distinction between attributive and referential descriptions has been proposed by Michael Devitt and Marga Reimer. This argument is based on two empirical premises concerning regularity of use and processing ease. This paper is an attempt to demonstrate (a) that these empirical observations are dubious and fail to license the conclusion of the argument and (b) that if the argument were sound, it would severely overgenerate. (...) The general lesson of the paper is that empirical observations about (a) how frequent an expression E is used to mean M and (b) how easy and fast M is processed cannot be taken to provide reliable evidence about the lexically encoded semantic properties of E. (shrink)
The-Predicativism is the view that names are count nouns. For example, the meaning of the name ‘Louise’ is roughly the property of being called Louise. Moreover, proponents of this view maintain that names that are ostensibly in argument position of a predicate are covert definite descriptions. In recent years, The-Predicativism has acquired a number of new supporters, mainly Elbourne (), Matushansky (), and Fara (). And while it was pointed out by Kripke () that these kinds of views generally struggle (...) with capturing the rigidity of proper names, these new views are alleged to solve this problem. In this paper I argue that the more recent versions of the view continue to struggle. In particular, I show that the views fail to provide an explanatory and/or empirically adequate analysis of rigidity. My discussions of these views are then supplemented with a general diagnosis of the problem and an explanation of why it is unlikely to be solved by The-Predicativism. (shrink)
In 'The Reference Book' (2012), Hawthorne and Manley observe the following contrast between (1) and (2): -/- (1) In every race John won. (2) In every race, the colt won. -/- The name 'John' in (1) must intuitively refer to the same single individual for each race. However, the description 'the colt' in (2) has a co-varying reading, i.e. a reading where for each race it refers to a different colt. This observation is a prima facie problem for proponents of (...) so-called The-Predicativism which is the view that the name in (1) is really a covert definite description, viz. 'the John'. If the The-Predicativism is correct, (1) and (2) are therefore syntactically equivalent, but this makes it mysterious why only (2) would have a co-varying reading. In a recent paper, Fara (2015) argues that there is a simple and elegant way for proponents of The-Predicativism to explain this contrast. This explanation relies on discerning some subtle syntactic differences between (1) and (2) which in turn are based on assumptions about nominal restrictions a la Stanley and Szabó (2000). In this short paper, I demonstrate that Fara's proposed explanation has a variety of serious shortcomings and hence that the contrast between (1) and (2) remains a significant problem for Predicativism. (shrink)
In the twenty-second series of The Logic of Sense, Gilles Deleuze references a remarkable essay by Günther (Stern) Anders. Anders’ essay, translated here as ‘The Pathology of Freedom’, addresses the sickness and health of our negotiation with the negative anthropological condition of ‘not being cut out for the world’.
Anders, Rudi When I see a colourful sunset, my mind goes to a spectacular purple sunset I saw near the Mexican border many years ago. That memory stops me from being fully aware of the scene in front of me. No two sunsets are the same and my memory is stopping me from fully appreciating the spectacle before my eyes. Famous and spectacular places don't work for me because expectations and memories get in the way, but when I walk (...) alone in nature I find my mind stops chattering and I begin to effortlessly notice the shades of green in the foliage, the patterns in the bark on the trees and the sounds and fragrances. It sometimes feels as if am absorbed by the surroundings. When this happens I don't bother with the names of birds or flowers because even that distracts from direct experience. (shrink)
Anders, Rudi I enjoy mixing with people who hold different beliefs from mine. Belief is a very complex and rather odd thing. I am particularly interested in the psychology of belief. Sometimes belief is the cause of terrible conflict and suffering.
Anders, Rudi Mathematics is objective and unambiguous, but as soon as mathematics is applied to anything in the human world, human values complicate the issues. Two apples for two people equals one apple for each person, but compassion for a starving person, or other human values, can alter the outcome.
Anders, Rudi Mental conditioning is like gravity; it feels so normal and ever-present that it often goes unnoticed, but it influences much human behaviour. I am not free when I am not aware how my ideas and attitudes are absorbed from my culture, family, the media and peers. It takes courage to stand alone.
Anders, Rudi The articles in AH I like best are the ones with which I disagree to a greater or lesser degree, because they force me to re-think and clarify my position. One such article was by John Perkins, titled 'Let's admit that Islam is a problem'. Although the article is very well-written, and I admire John's fact-finding regarding Islam, I think he misses the elephant in the room. Namely, Christian Europe and North America killed far more people than (...) Islam ever did. Buddhist and Shinto Japan did shocking things in the last world war. Jews in Israel ignore the rights of Palestinians. The atheist communist Soviet Union was as bad as Christian Czarist Russia. There is gross injustice in Hindu India. I don't think Islam should be singled out as a problem. I agree that religion can be a problem but the many atheist dictators, for example: Napoleon Bonaparte, Mussolini and Stalin, are also a problem, so atheism as such is not a guarantee of justice. (shrink)
Anders, Rudi Sometimes it is nice to do something totally unconnected to the usual bustle of life, such as a walk in the park. This time I visit a German Lutheran church in Melbourne; I have never entered it before. The exterior and interior consistently retain the traditional design. The bluestone gives it a sense of permanence - timelessness. I rarely like modern churches; mixing modern and traditional never works for me. This church is not large and has an (...) intimate feel to it. The people are all smiles. I like people, regardless of their beliefs. Family groups look like they feel at home, and visitors like me are made welcome. I sit and admire the skill of the craftsmen who attended to every detail in the church. They didn't have the modern machines we take for granted. (shrink)
This article examines how private equity returns in Asia are related to levels of legal protection and corruption. We utilize a unique data set comprising over 750 returns to private equity transactions across 20 developing and developed countries in Asia. The data indicate that legal protections are an important determinant of private equity returns in Asia, but also that private equity managers are able to mitigate the potential for corruption. The quality of legal system (including legal protections) is positively related (...) to returns. Inefficient legal protections negatively impact transaction structures and economic certainty when exiting investments. We also find that private equity managers, irrespective of the quality of legal system they are operating within, can mitigate the potential impact of corruption. Private equity returns are higher in countries with higher levels of corruption, controlling for legal systems. This finding is consistent with the view that private equity managers bring about organizational change to alleviate the costs of corruption. Our findings are robust to inclusion of controls for Hofstede cultural variables, economic conditions, and transaction specific characteristics, as well as consideration of econometric sample selection methods for unexited investments. (shrink)
This article considers an international sample of venture capital and private equity funds to assess the role of law, corruption, and culture in setting fund manager fees. With better legal conditions, fixed fees are lower, carried interest fees are higher, clawbacks are less likely, and share distributions are more likely. Countries with lower levels of corruption have lower fixed fees and higher performance fees, and are less likely to have clawbacks and cash-only distributions. Hofstede's measure of power distance is negatively (...) related to fixed fees and the use of cash-only distributions, but positively related to performance fees and clawbacks. Overall, the data strongly indicate that corruption, culture, and legal settings are much more significant in determining fees than fund manager characteristics and/or market conditions. (shrink)
Many religiously minded materialist philosophers have attempted to understand the doctrine of the survival of death from within a physicalist approach. Their goal is not to show the doctrine false, but to explain how it can be true. One such approach has been developed by Peter van Inwagen. After explaining what I call the duplication objection, I present van Inwagen’s proposal and show how a proponent might attempt to solve the problem of duplication. I argue that the very features of (...) the view that aid the proponent in responding to the duplication objection entails the possibility of an impossible state of affairs—that two distinct persons can at the same time be identical with the same bundle of material simples. The religiously minded materialist is caught between the horns of a dilemma. One’s view regarding human persons must be robust enough to account for personal identity over time, and so not fall to the duplication objection. At the same time, the view must not entail the possibility of two persons temporarily having complete coincident existence. (shrink)
In this paper we argue that one-way quantum computation can be seen as a form of phase transition with the available information about the solution of the computation being the order parameter. We draw a number of striking analogies between standard thermodynamical quantities such as energy, temperature, work, and corresponding computational quantities such as the amount of entanglement, time, potential capacity for computation, respectively. Aside from being intuitively pleasing, this picture allows us to make novel conjectures, such as an estimate (...) of the necessary critical time to finish a computation and a proposal of suitable architectures for universal one-way computation in 1D. (shrink)
This chapter will examine two puzzles that percolate Husserl’s On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time (PITC). They concern: (1) whether or not memory is pictorial and (2) whether or not the temporal determinations (past, now, future, etc.) are categories. Considering these aporetic discussions helps us to understand the time diagrams Husserl uses, as well as some of the motivation behind Husserl’s talk of the two intentionalities of retention and his talk of the time-constituting flow. Moreover, this approach (...) to PITC helps to highlight the role that aporetic considerations play in phenomenological investigation more generally. (shrink)
Short abstract: this is a reply to Schoubye and Rabern's 2017 paper, in Mind, to my own 2016 paper, also in Mind, "Future Contingents are All False! On Behalf of a Russellian Open Future." -/- Long abstract: There is a familiar philosophical position – sometimes called the doctrine of the open future – according to which future contingents (claims about underdetermined aspects of the future) systematically fail to be true. For well over 2000 years, however, open futurists have been (...) accused of denying certain logical laws – bivalence, excluded middle, or both – for entirely ad hoc reasons, most notably, that their denials are required for the preservation of something we hold dear. In a recent paper, however, I sought to argue that this deeply entrenched narrative ought to be overturned. My thought was this: given a popular, plausible approach to the semantics of future contingents, we can reduce the question of their status to the Russell/Strawson debate concerning presupposition failure, definite descriptions, and bivalence. In that case, we will see that open futurists in fact needn’t deny bivalence (Russell), or, if they do, they will do so for perfectly general (Strawsonian) reasons – reasons for which we all must deny bivalence. Of course, the metaphysical objections to the open futurist’s model of the future will remain just as they were. However, the millennia-old “semantic” or “logical” objections to the doctrine would be answered. In developing this approach, however, I came in fact to see the deep attractions of what I saw as the Russellian approach to these questions, and in my paper, I sought to articulate and display those attractions. The principal advantage of the view I wished to defend is that it is simple (no determinacy operators, no supervaluations, no third truth values) and it is classical. The view I developed, however, has recently come in for criticism in a paper by AndersSchoubye and Brian Rabern. The aim of this paper is to defend this view against their criticisms. The result, I believe, is an improved version of the theory, and a renewed defense of a radical claim: future contingents are systematically false. (shrink)
More than four years ago, Anders Breivik launched his apocalyptic raid in Norway. His killing raid was not an action standing on its own but a statement to invite people to read his manifesto called 2083. A European Declaration of Independence. The highly despicable and disgusting mission of Anders Breivik addresses us whether we like it or not. Maybe there are good reasons to read and analyze Breivik’s ‘oration?’ He confronts us with many questions we cannot simply run (...) away from: What about the Islamization? How could this happen in secular Norway? What about the role of religion in European societies? In this article, I will argue that Breivik’s plea can only happen from within a secular society in which the homogeneity already has been lost, which allows him to deal with religion and politics on a very specific basis. In no way whatsoever, the context of our secular society forced Breivik to do what he did. However Breivik could only construct his actions and ideas within the (Christian) democratic context he lives in. I will analyze this with the writings of Hannah Arendt on political theology and the complex relationship between politics and religion and a late secular society. (shrink)
This book is the first to discuss, for an English-speaking audience, the ideas of the German-Jewish man of letters, thinker, and activist Günther Anders. Anders is one of few philosophers to deal intensely with the moral consequences of Auschwitz and Hiroshima. He can rightly be called the philosopher of the atomic age, and his thinking a philosophy of modern technology. In biting manifestoes, sharp aphorisms, and penetrating essays, in stirring diary notes and political fables, Anders strikes out (...) the age in which we live. As a twentieth-century visionary, he exposes the absence of the moral and social imaginations that is necessary to prevent our history from ending in a total catastrophe. In the gap between our technical creations and our utter inability to imagine their destructive potential lies the basis for the unstoppable activity of this practical philosopher. From every possible angle, he attempts to comprehend this modern schizophrenia in its roots and consequences. Anders is one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. He tried to describe and analyze the variety of manifestations of the “self-destructive progress of our technical civilization,” which makes humanity into an “anti-quated” sort. He diagnosed countless important problems, ranging from the world of media to the dictates of the world of machinery, and he investigated their social, political, and philosophical meaning. To read his writings is more than becoming acquainted with a rich and colorful philosopher. It is more than an encounter with a moving and passionate individual. It is ultimately a confrontation with oneself, with our own guilt and responsibility, with our personal hopes and fears, with our lack of imagination and with our need to recover it. (shrink)
It is well recognized how the modern social sciences, particularly in the United States, fed off and contributed to a nuclear state associated with the military-industrial complex. But it is less known that the thermonuclear revolution also constituted a productive moment for critical theories of techno-politics. In this article, we recover a strand of the latter by focusing on Günther Anders, a German philosopher of technology for whom thermonuclear weapons symbolized the self-destructive capacity embedded in a disenchanted modernity. We (...) stress the techno-political dimensions of Anders’ philosophy by approaching it through his concept and metaphor of metabolism. Anders sought to update Marxist thinking to the age of technology to reawaken his readers to the realities and power dynamics of the nuclear condition and the ways in which these were consistently obscured. He pondered the grotesque human ability to live with a monstrous and suicidal weapon, while highlighting the dynamics o... (shrink)
Günther Anders was a philosopher concerned with the political and social implications of power, both as expressed in the media and its tendency to elide the citizenry and thus the very possibility of democracy and the political implications of our participation in our own subjugation in the image of modern social media beginning with radio and television. Anders was particularly concerned with two bombs dropped on Japan at the end of World War II, and he was just as (...) concerned with the so-called ‘peaceful’ uses of nuclear power, what he named our apocalypse-blindness and the urgency of violence. To make this case I draw on Baudrillard on ‘speech without response’ and Gadamer on conversation. (shrink)
Johan Heyns was the moderator of the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church from 1986 to 1990. This church was known as a moral and theological supporter of apartheid until the 1980s. In 1980 Heyns was, for the first time, involved in public critique against the pro-apartheid stance of his church. He took an influential part in writing a new document that criticised apartheid and was accepted by the General Synod of 1986. Heyns was elected as moderator or (...) chairman of this synod. The years from 1986 to 1990 became the busiest of his life. He became the leader in his church's defence of the new document Church and Society in and beyond South Africa. In order to get back into the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and to stay on in the Reformed Ecumenical Synod, the Dutch Reformed Church decided to depart from its apartheid ways. Heyns' message on apartheid was shaped by his Reformed approach to life, in which he chose reform as the method for change. (shrink)
In Philosophia Reformata, Vol. 69, No. 1, Johan Stellingwerff published a challenging article1 on the need to rethink the philosophy of technology in reformational philosophy. Stellingwerff is not only critical about the work done by Van Riessen and Schuurman, but he also criticizes the Dual Nature of Technical Artifacts program at the Delft University of Technology.2 In this reply I want to take up particularly some of the points of criticism against the latter and see if they can be (...) upheld when taking a closer look at what has been published in this program so far. Although the article by Stellingwerff is in Dutch, I have decided to write my reply in English to enable a wider audience to take part in the debate. (shrink)