Ted Honderich's ‘Causes and If p, even if x, still q ’ contains many good points I shall not discuss. My discussion is restricted to some of the points Honderich makes about causal priority in the final two sections of his paper. He considers several proposals, new and old, for accounting for causal priority before he presents a tentativeproposal of his own. He thinks that some of these proposals, besides having difficulties peculiar to themselves, share the deficiency of lacking the (...) proper character. When we look for the difference between causal circumstances and causes, on the one hand, and their effects, on the other, he says, We are not pursuing any difference between these things. We arepursuing a difference of a certain character. What we are after has to do with what we say: that causes and causal circumstances make their effects happen , and not the other way on, and that causes and causal circumstances explain their effects , and not the other way on. (shrink)
I shall venture to affirm, as a general proposition which admits of no exception, that the knowledge of this relation is not, in any instance, attained by reasonings a priori, but arises entirely from experience, when we find that any particular objects are constantly conjoined with each other.
In this paper we present a summary review of recent psychological studies which make a contribution to an understanding of how quantifiers are used. Until relatively recently, the contribution which psychology has made has been somewhat restricted. For example, the approach which has enjoyed the greatest popularity in psychology is explaining quantifiers as expressions which have fuzzy or vague projections on to mental scales of amount. Following Moxey & Sanford (1993a), this view is questioned. Experimental work is summarized showing (...) that quantifiers may be differentiated in terms of the patterns of focus which they produce, which we take as a reflection of the patterns of inference which they induce. Other work suggests that when a speaker uses certain quantifiers it is possible for a listener to draw inferences about what the speaker’s prior expectations were, including what the speaker is taken to have believed the listener to expect. These findings are discussed in relation to how quantifiers are selected, and in terms of a possible psychological basis for certain logico-linguistic judgements about quantifiers. 10.1093/jos/11.3.153. (shrink)
This article answers John Biro's "Knowability, Believability, and Begging the Question: a Reply to Sanford" in "Metaphilosophy" 15 (1984). Biro and I agree that of two argument instances with the same form and content, one but not the other can beg the question, depending on other factors. These factors include actual beliefs, or so I maintain (against Biro) with the help of some analysed examples. Brief selections from Archbishop Whatley and J S Mill suggest that they also regard reference (...) to actual beliefs as essential to explaining begging the question. (shrink)
Yule (1982) has argued that examples from speech show that pronouns may be interpreted nonreferentially. In the present paper, it is argued that pronouns elicit procedures for the identification of referents which are in explicit focus (Sanford and Garrod, 1981). Three experiments are offered in support of this view. The discussion centres on the need for carefully assessing the knowledge-states of listeners when pronouns are used in the absence of antecedents. It is proposed that felicitous use of pronouns without (...) antecedents can occur only when listeners have particular things in mind which serve as ‘effective antecedents’. If the listeners do not have these in mind, then it is argued that such usage is infelicitous. It is also argued that speakers may have particular antecedents in mind even if listeners do not. (shrink)
Recent evidence has shown that certain quantifiers (few, only a few) and quantifying adverbs (seldom, rarely) when used tend to make people think of reasons for the small proportions or low frequencies which they denote. Other expressions single out small proportions or low frequences, but do not lead to a focus on reasons (e. g. a few; occasionally). In the present paper, these observations are applied to the attribution of cause in short two–line vignettes which make reference to situations, and (...) where subjects have to say what is special in bringing about the state of affairs depicted. The procedure is standard in the area of social psychology known as attribution theory, but the present experiment is concerned with the role of quantifying descriptions in the process. Two theories are contrasted. The first, the frequency signalling theory, ascribes the peculiarity of an action to the frequency of that action in an individual versus the frequency of it in the population at large. The second, the focus control account, says that contrasts are only important if one or more of the quantifiers focuses attention on cause (i. e. serves as a comment on the frequency or proportion which is denoted). The results support the second hypothesis, and suggest that frequency signalling alone is not enough to generate attributional patterns. Apart from indicating an important boundary condition on attributional effects, the results show the important consequences of the non truth–functional aspects of the meaning of quantifiers previously reported in Moxey and Sanford (1987). The attributional effects are clearly dependent upon linguistic phenomena, a point largely ignored by attribution theorists until recen. (shrink)
Naive mereology studies ordinary, common-sense beliefs about part and whole. Some of the speculations in this article on naive mereology do not bear directly on Peter van Inwagen's "Material Beings". The other topics, (1) and (2), both do. (1) Here is an example of Peter Unger's "Problem of the Many". How can a table be a collection of atoms when many collections of atoms have equally strong claims to be that table? Van Inwagen invokes fuzzy sets to solve this problem. (...) I claim that an alternative treatment of vagueness, supervaluations over many-value valuations, provides a better solution. (2) The Special Composition Question asks how parts compose a whole. One who rejects van Inwagen's answer in terms of constituting a life need not provide some alternative answer. Even if all answers to the Special Question fail, there are a multitude of less general composition questions that are not so difficult. (shrink)
Two fusions can be in the same place at the same time. So long as a house made of Tinkertoys is intact, the fusion of all its Tinkertoys parts coincides with the fusion of it walls and its roof. If none of the Tinkertoys is destroyed, their fusion persists through the complete disassembly of the house. (So the house is not a fusion of its Tinkertoy parts.) The fusion of the walls and roof does not persist through the complete disassembly (...) because the walls and the roof themselves do not persist. (So the walls and the roof are also not fusions of their Tinkertoy parts.). (shrink)
A primary purpose of argument is to increase the degree of reasonable confidence that one has in the truth of the conclusion. A question begging argument fails this purpose because it violates what W. E. Johnson called an epistemic condition of inference. Although an argument of the sort characterized by Robert Hoffman in his response (Analysis 32.2, Dec 71) to Richard Robinson (Analysis 31.4, March 71) begs the question in all circumstances, we usually understand the charge that an argument is (...) question begging with reference to the beliefs of the person, or the sort of person, to whom the argument is directed. (shrink)
I criticize and emend J L Mackie's account of causal priority by replacing ‘fixity’ in its central clause by 'x is a causal condition of y, but y is not a causal condition of x'. This replacement works only if 'is a causal condition of' is not a symmetric relation. Even apart from our desire to account for causal priority, it is desirable to have an account of nonsymmetric conditionship. Truth, for example, is a condition of knowledge, but knowledge is (...) not a condition of truth. My definitions of 'sufficient condition for' and 'necessary condition for' do not imply that p is a sufficient condition of q if and only if q is a necessary condition of p. (shrink)
Everything red is colored, and all squares are polygons. A square is distinguished from other polygons by being four-sided, equilateral, and equiangular. What distinguishes red things from other colored things? This has been understood as a conceptual rather than scientific question. Theories of wavelengths and reflectance and sensory processing are not considered. Given just our ordinary understanding of color, it seems that what differentiates red from other colors is only redness itself. The Cambridge logician W. E. Johnson introduced the terms (...) determinate and determinable to apply to examples such as red and colored. Chapter XI, of Johnson's Logic, Part I (1921), “The Determinate and the Determinable,” is the main text for discussion of this distinction. (shrink)
If two statements are contraries if and only if they cannot both be true, but can both be false, then some corresponding A and E categorical statements are not contraries, even on the presupposition that something exists which satisfies the subject term. For some such statements are necessarily true and thus cannot be false. There is a similar problem with subcontraries.
Myles Brand and Marshall Swain advocate the principle that if A is the set of conditions individually necessary and jointly sufficient for the occurrence of B, then if C is a set of conditions individually necessary for the occurrence of B, every member of C is a member of A. I agree with John Barker and Risto Hilpinen who each argue that this principle is not true for causal necessity and sufficiency, but I disagree with their claim that it is (...) true for logical necessity and sufficiency. The original appeal of the principle may be due to confusing two kinds of totality: to say that when every member of set A obtains, then every condition necessary for E obtains is not to say that every condition necessary for E is a member of A. All the authors mentioned believe that causal necessity precludes logical necessity. I deny this on the basis of an example from kinematics. Hume has not refuted definitions of causation in terms of logically necessary and sufficient conditions, nor have Brand and Swain. (shrink)
This paper concerns a neglected but potentially important aspect of natural language quantifiers. Certain quantifiers serve to identify various proportions of sets. Thus few, for example, identifies a smaller proportion of a set than many. However, different quantifiers may serve to identify similar proportions, yet produce somewhat different representations when they are used. The distinction between few and a few is considered in some detail, along with related expressions. It is claimed that these expressions serve to put into focus different (...) subsets of the supersets upon which they operate. It was suspected that while a few X do y puts emphasis on the small subset of X of which “do Y” is true (the “refset”), with few X do Y, emphasis is put on that large, complement, subset of which “do Y” is taken to be not true. This suspected difference in emphasis is revealed by considering the acceptability of pronominal reference in subsequent sentences to the set partitions which result from using these quantifiers. In order to test these tentative observations, a large number of subjects was examined using a sentence continuation procedure. This allowed for a detailed analysis of the preferred patterns of anaphoric reference to subsets partitioned by quantifiers. The major conclusions were that few, very few, and not many put emphasis on the complement set, while a few and only a few put emphasis on the refset. Furthermore, the pattern of continuation content was markedly different for these two groups. Additional results are described in which it is shown how connectives influence this picture. It is argued that quantifiers not only identify different proportions, but that they differentially emphasize the subsets which they generate, and can function as “comments” on these proportions. Possible theoretical relations with negativity and affectivity are discussed. (shrink)
There are four features to Aristotle’s account of courage that appear peculiar when compared to our own intuitions about this virtue: his account of courage seems not, on its surface, to fit a eudaimonist model, courage is restricted to a surprisingly small number of actions, this restriction, among other things, excludes women and non-combatant men from ever exercising this virtue, and courage is counted as virtuous because of its nobility and beauty. In this paper I explore Aristotle’s account of courage (...) while being attentive to these features, and conclude with a brief consideration of how one might, without ignoring the peculiarities of his own treatment, apply Aristotle’s account of courage to a wider range of actions and actors than he would allow by employing analogoussenses of the terms “life” and “death.”. (shrink)
Hume's arguments for the contention that causal necessity precludes logical necessity depend on the questionable principle that a cause must precede its effect. Hobbes' definition of entire cause, although it fails to account for causal priority, is not refuted by Hume. The objections of Myles Brand and Marshall Swain (Philosophical Studies, 1976) to my counterexample against Hume (Philosophical Studies, 1975) are ineffective. Their other objections to my criticisms of their argument against defining causation in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions (...) (Synthese, 1970) are also mostly ineffective. (shrink)
To accommodate vague statements and predicates, I propose an infinite-valued, non-truth-functional interpretation of logic on which the tautologies are exactly the tautologies of classical two-valued logic. iI introduce a determinacy operator, analogous to the necessity operator in alethic modal logic, to allow the definition of first-order and higher-order borderline cases. On the interpretation proposed for determinacy, every statement corresponding to a theorem of modal system T is a logical truth, and I conjecture that every logical truth on the interpretation corresponds (...) to a theorem of T. the interpretation is extended to predicate logic. A borderline case of a predicate 'F’ is neither determinately F nor determinately not-F. Traditional sorites arguments are seen to fall apart early in their gradual stepwise passage from truth to falsity. (shrink)
Many philosophic arguments concerned with infinite series depend on the mutual inconsistency of statements of the following five forms: (1) something exists which has R to something; (2) R is asymmetric; (3) R is transitive; (4) for any x which has R to something, there is something which has R to x; (5) only finitely many things are related by R. Such arguments are suspect if the two-place relation R in question involves any conceptual vagueness or inexactness. Traditional sorites arguments (...) show that a statement of form (4) can fail to be true even though it has no clear counter-example. Conceptual vagueness allows a finite series not to have any definite first member. I consider the speculative possibilities that there have been only finitely many non-overlapping hours although there has been no first hour and that space and time are only finitely divisible even though there are no smallest spatial or temporal intervals. (shrink)
The primary objects of hearing are sounds: everything we hear we hear by hearing a sound. (This claim differs from Berkeley’s that we hear only sounds and from Aristotle’s that we only hear sounds.) Colored regions are primary objects of sight, and pressure resistant regions are primary objects of perception by touch. By definition, the primary objects of perception are physical. The properties of the primary objects of perception are exactly the properties sense-datum theories attribute to sense-data. Indirect Realism holds (...) that awareness of sense-data (or something similar) mediates our perception of primary objects. Direct Realism denies this. The question when the perception of a primary object, such as parts of the surfaces of a hat and coat, is thereby the perception of a non-primary object, such as a person, is independent of the disagreement between Direct and Indirect Realism. (shrink)
Roderick Chisholm provides, in different places, two formulations of Brentano's thesis about the relation between the psychological and the intentional: (1) all and only psychological sentences are intentional; (2) no psychological intentional sentence is equivalent to a nonintentional sentence. Chisholm also presents several definitions of intentionality. Some of these allow that a sentence is intentional while its negation is nonintentional, which ruins the prospects of defending the more plausible and interesting thesis (2). A generalization of the notion of logical independence (...) to any number of mutually independent sentences permits a revision of Chisholm's criteria of intentionality that ensures that a sentence is intentional on a criterion exactly when its negation is as well. (shrink)
Unger claims that we can block sorites arguments for the conclusion that there are no ordinary things only by invoking some kind of miracle, but no such miracle is needed if we reject the principle that every statement has a truth value. Wheeler's argument for the nonexistence of ordinary things depends on the assumptions that if ordinary things exist, they comprise real kinds, and that if ordinary predicates really apply to things, the predicates refer to real properties. If we accept (...) Wheeler's criteria for the reality of kinds and properties, we have no good reason to accept these assumptions. (shrink)
The environmental degradation caused by industrial agriculture, as well as the resulting social and health consequences, creates an urgency to rethink food production by expanding the moral imagination to include agricultural practices. Agricultural practices presume human use of the earth and acknowledge human dependence on the biotic community, and these relations mean that agriculture presents a separate set of considerations in the broader field of environmental ethics. Many scholars and activists have argued persuasively that we need new stories to rethink (...) agricultural practice, however, the link—the story that does and can shape agricultural practice—has not yet been fully articulated in environmental discourse. My analysis explores how language has shaped existing agricultural models and, more important, the potential of story to influence agricultural practice. To do this, I draw upon cognitive theory to illustrate how metaphoric and narrative language structures thought and influences practice, beginning with my contention that industrial agriculture relies on a discourse of mechanistic relations between humans and a passive earth, language that has naturalized the chemically intensive monocultures prevalent in much of the American Midwest. However, alternative agricultures, including organic agriculture, agro-ecology, and ecological agriculture, emphasize qualities such as interdependence and reciprocity and do so as a deliberate response to the perceived inadequacies of industrial agriculture and its governing narrative. Exploring the different discourses of agricultural systems can help us think through different modalities for human relations with the biotic community and demonstrate story’s potential role in altering practice. (shrink)
This paper outlines an argument that the meaning of spatial terms depends critically upon our mental models of space. We argue that such models capture the functional geometry of spatial scenes to represent various control relations between the objects in the scene. The discussion centres around two analyses. First, an analysis of the spatial descriptions taken from task oriented dialogue, which seem to reflect a number of distinct mental models of the same visual scene, and secondly an analysis of simple (...) English spatial prepositions. We argue that these prepositions express control relations rather than simple spatial relations and depend for their interpretation on the model of space assumed by speaker and listener. This analysis suggests that mental models whould be seen as interfaces between the language and the world of discourse rather than simply surrogates for that world. (shrink)
To a cognitive psychologist discourse comprehension poses a number of interesting problems both in terms of mental representation and mental operations. In this paper we suggest that certain of these problems can be brought into clear focus by employing a procedural approach to discourse description. In line with this approach a general framework for the mental representation of discourse is discussed in which distinctions between different types of memory partitions are proposed. It is argued that one needs to distinguish both (...) between focussed representations available in immediate working memory and nonfocussed representations available in long-term memory and also between representations arising from the asserted information in the discourse and those arising from what is presupposed by it. In the second half of the paper a particular problem of anaphoric reference is discussed within the context of this framework. A general memory search procedure is outlined which contains three parameters for determining the search operation. We then attempt to describe certain anaphoric expressions such as personal pronouns and full definite noun phrases in terms of the execution of this search procedure, where distinctions arise from the parameter specification derived from the expressions.The cognitive psychology of discourse is concerned with the nature of the mental processes entailed in understanding what is written or spoken, and the problem of how these processes might be realised in the mind of the understander given the psychological constraints of limited attention and memory which we know to obtain. One very attractive line of attack is to view the many and various aspects of a discourse as having an instructional component, in the sense that the reader or listener is being instructed to assemble representations of the elements of discourse in a particular way. An example of this is to be found in a treatment of topic marking within the topic/comment distinction (Halliday, 1976): topic identification may be hought of as an instruction to implement a procedure in which the topic content is construed as an address in memory to which new (comment) information is to be affixed (e.g. Broadbent, 1973; Haviland & Clark, 1974).While any attempt at producing a process-model for comprehensioninevitably makes use of such a procedural view, it is also sensible to consider a text as having a content, which is more directly interpret-able as a set of statements. In the present paper, we shall first consider the question of text content. This immediately raises the problem of how to treat anaphoric reference, which is one of the key contributors to text cohesion. Finally, we shall attempt to illustrate how the instructional or procedural aspect of discourse interacts with the content aspect by reference to a specific problem of anaphoric reference. (shrink)
According to John A Barker, whether an argument begs the question is purely a matter of logical form. According to me, it is also a matter of epistemic conditions; some arguments which beg the question in some contexts need not beg the question in every context. I point out difficulties in Barker's treatment and defend my own views against some of his criticisms. In the concluding section, "Alleged difficulties with disjunctive syllogism," I defend the validity of disjunctive syllogism against the (...) views of Alan Ross Anderson and Nuel D Belnap, Jr., ask pointed questions about the notion of intensional disjunction, and suggest how my treatment of begging the question can be extended to deal with the so-called paradoxes of strict implication. (shrink)
Locke thought it was a necessary truth that no two material bodies could be in the same place at the same time. Leibniz wasn't so sure. This paper sides with Leibniz. I examine the arguments of David Wiggins in defense of Locke on this point (Philosophical Review, January 1968). Wiggins’ arguments are ineffective.
The central text of this article is Thomas Reid’s response to Berkeley’s argument for distinguishing tangible from visual shape. Reid is right to hold that shape words do not have different visual and tangible meanings. We might also perceive shape, moreover, with senses other than touch and sight. As Reid also suggests, the visual perception of shape does not require perception of hue or brightness. Contrary to treatments of the Molyneux problem by H. P. Grice and Judith Jarvis Thomson, I (...) argue that breakdowns of a certain kind between tangible and visible shape are conceivable. (shrink)
The contribution that a word makes to the meaning and interpretation of a sentence depends upon access to its meaning, and to general knowledge associated with the word. Evidence is presented to support the argument that accessing lexical meaning, as with general knowledge, is a graded affair. We argue that the contribution a word makes depends upon its relevance to the context, and to focus and related variables. Extensions of the argument are made to other aspects of language processing.
Philosophers have had difficulty in explaining the difference between disjunctive and non-disjunctive predicates. Purely syntactical criteria are ineffective, and mention of resemblance begs the question. I draw the distinction by reference to relations between borderline cases. The crucial point about the disjoint predicate 'red or green', for example, is that no borderline case of 'red' is a borderline case of 'green'. Other varieties of disjunctive predicates are: inclusively disjunctive (such as 'red or hard'), disconnected (such as 'grue' on the usual (...) definitions), and skew (such as 'grue' on an emended definition). 'Green' is not a disjunctive predicate. Nelson Goodman's new riddle of induction elicits yet another response. (shrink)
Although Aranyosi's claim that McTaggart's "set of parts" is a set rather than a fusion is correct, his attempt to restate McTaggart's conception needs revision. Aranyosi argues that "the fusion of cats is identical with the fusion of all cat-parts, 'regardless of whether all cat-parts are parts of cats or not.'" Fusions have unique decompositions into what David Lewis calls "nice parts." Cats are nice parts of cat fusions, as are maximal spatio-temporally connected parts. Part of Aranyosi's argument fails when (...) it deals with cats; part of it fails when it deals with maximal spatio-temporally connected parts. He does not identify one kind of nice part that allows his whole argument to go through. (shrink)
The cardinality of incompatible possibilities whose actuality requires at least N seconds exceeds the cardinality of disjoint intervals at least N seconds long. Therefore, not all logical possibilities can be actual in the long run, even if the long run is infinite.
Naive mereology studies ordinary conceptions of part and whole. Parts, unlike portions, have objective boundaries and many things, such as dances and sermons have temporal parts. In order to deal with Mark Heller's claim that temporal parts "are ontologically no more or less basic than the wholes that they compose," we retell the story of Laplace's Genius, here named "Swifty." Although Swifty processes lots of information very quickly, his conceptual repertoire need not extend beyond fundamental physics. So we attempt to (...) follow Swifty's progress in the acquisition of ordinary concepts such as 'table'. (Puzzles of precision and intrusion appear along the way.) Swifty has to understand what tables are before understanding what temporal portions of tables are. This is one reason for regarding tables as ontologically prior to table portions. intrusion appear along the way.). (shrink)
The following statement (A) is usually abbreviated with symbols: (A) There are items X and Y, each is F, X is not identical to Y, and everything F is identical to X or is identical to Y. (A) is neither necessary nor sufficient for the existence of exactly two distinct things that are F. Some things are neither identical nor distinct. The difference between distinctness and nonidentity makes a difference in asking questions about counting, constitution, and persistence.
In "Causes and "If P, Even If X, still Q," Philosophy 57 (July 1982), Ted Honderich cites my "The Direction of Causation and the Direction of Conditionship," journal of Philosophy 73 (April 22, 1976) as an example of an account of causal priority that lacks the proper character. After emending Honderich's description of the proper character, I argue that my attempt to account for one-way causation in terms of one-way causal conditionship does not totally lack it. Rather than emphasize the (...) singularity of an effect, as Honderich does, I emphasize the multiplicity of independent factors in a causal circumstance. (shrink)
Examples of sensory illusion show the failure of the attempt of traditional sense-datum theory to account for something's phenomenally appearing to be F by postulating the existence of a sense-datum that is actually F. the Muller-Lyer Illusion cannot be explained by postulating two sensibly presented lines that actually have the lengths the physical lines appear to have. Illusions due to color contrast cannot be explained by postulating sense-data that actually have the colors the physical samples appear to have.
Anastylosis is the reconstruction of a monument using the original fragments and filling in the missing parts with an easily distinguishable modern material. This long review of "The Fragmentation of Reason; Preface to a Pragmatic Theory of Cognitive Evaluation" (MIT, 1990) by Stephen P Stich reconstructs, while preserving their original shapes, the conceptions of reason, truth, and rationality that Stich attempts to shatter. The review agrees with Stich's Chapter 3 which is itself highly critical of some philosophical views about evolution (...) and rationality, and it disagrees with each of the other five chapters. Fanciful stories about food accompany and illustrate some of these disagreements. (shrink)
Fred Dretske holds that if one knows something, one need not eliminate every alternative to it but only the relevant alternatives. Besides defending this view in "The Pragmatic Dimension of Knowledge" ("Phil. Stud.", 40, 363-378, n 81), he makes some tentative suggestions about determining when an alternative is relevant. I discuss these suggestions and conclude that there are problems yet to be solved. I do not conclude that there are insoluble problems or that Dretske's approach is on the wrong track. (...) It is, I believe, on the right track. (shrink)