How do thought and language manage to be 'about' aspects of the world? J. Robert G. Williams investigates how representation arises out of a fundamentally non-representational world, showing the explanatory relations between the representational properties of language, of thought, and of perception and intention.
The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the perceptions related to ethics and cheating among a representative sample of primarily female undergraduate students, compared to trends reported in the literature. Focus groups were organized to discuss nine scripted questions. Transcripts and audiotapes were analyzed and four main themes emerged: demographics of those who cheat, students’ perceptions of cheating, the role of technology in cheating, and consequences of cheating, including students’ attitudes and behaviors related to reporting cheating incidents. Bandura’s (...) Social Cognitive Theory served as the theoretical framework to understand students’ varying perceptions of and justification for cheating, as well as the dynamics of honor code violations, via group discussion. Viewpoints on cheating were regularly discussed and contradictory views were identified related to frequency and justification for cheating. Utilizing the constant comparative method, students mentioned time limitations, and pressure from peers, parents, and professors as reasons to cheat. They also discussed pressures to achieve high grades for acceptance into graduate programs. Students were also reluctant to report their classmates for cheating incidents. Repeated and comprehensive education on ethical behavior is warranted. (shrink)
Decisions are made under uncertainty when there are distinct outcomes of a given action, and one is uncertain to which the act will lead. Decisions are made under indeterminacy when there are distinct outcomes of a given action, and it is indeterminate to which the act will lead. This paper develops a theory of (synchronic and diachronic) decision-making under indeterminacy that portrays the rational response to such situations as inconstant. Rational agents have to capriciously and randomly choose how to resolve (...) the indeterminacy relevant to a given choice-situation, but such capricious choices once made constrain how they will choose in the future. The account is illustrated by the case of self-interested action in situations where it is indeterminate whether you yourself will survive to benefit or suffer the consequences. The conclusion emphasizes some distinctive anti-hedging predictions of the account. (shrink)
Inscrutability arguments threaten to reduce interpretationist metasemantic theories to absurdity. Can we find some way to block the arguments? A highly influential proposal in this regard is David Lewis’ ‘ eligibility ’ response: some theories are better than others, not because they fit the data better, but because they are framed in terms of more natural properties. The purposes of this paper are to outline the nature of the eligibility proposal, making the case that it is not ad hoc, but (...) instead flows naturally from three independently motivated elements; and to show that severe limitations afflict the proposal. In conclusion, I pick out the element of the eligibility response that is responsible for the limitations: future work in this area should therefore concentrate on amending this aspect of the overall theory. (shrink)
Might it be that world itself, independently of what we know about it or how we represent it, is metaphysically indeterminate? This article tackles in turn a series of questions: In what sorts of cases might we posit metaphysical indeterminacy? What is it for a given case of indefiniteness to be 'metaphysical'? How does the phenomenon relate to 'ontic vagueness', the existence of 'vague objects', 'de re indeterminacy' and the like? How might the logic work? Are there reasons for postulating (...) this distinctive sort of indefiniteness? Conversely, are there reasons for denying that there is indefiniteness of this sort? (shrink)
Worlds where things divide forever ("gunk" worlds) are apparently conceivable. The conceivability of such scenarios has been used as an argument against "nihilist" or "near-nihilist" answers to the special composition question. I argue that the mereological nihilist has the resources to explain away the illusion that gunk is possible.
Lewis (1973) gave a short argument against conditional excluded middle, based on his treatment of ‘might’ counterfactuals. Bennett (2003), with much of the recent literature, gives an alternative take on ‘might’ counterfactuals. But Bennett claims the might-argument against CEM still goes through. This turns on a specific claim I call Bennett’s Hypothesis. I argue that independently of issues to do with the proper analysis of might-counterfactuals, Bennett’s Hypothesis is inconsistent with CEM. But Bennett’s Hypothesis is independently objectionable, so we should (...) resolve this tension by dropping the Hypothesis, not by dropping CEM. (shrink)
Many accounts of structural rationality give a special role to logic. This paper reviews the problem case of clear-eyed logical uncertainty. An account of rational norms on belief that does not give a special role to logic is developed: doxastic probabilism.
Joyce (1998) gives an argument for probabilism: the doctrine that rational credences should conform to the axioms of probability. In doing so, he provides a distinctive take on how the normative force of probabilism relates to the injunction to believe what is true. But Joyce presupposes that the truth values of the propositions over which credences are defined are classical. I generalize the core of Joyce’s argument to remove this presupposition. On the same assumptions as Joyce uses, the credences of (...) a rational agent should always be weighted averages of truth value assignments. In the special case where the truth values are classical, the weighted averages of truth value assignments are exactly the probability functions. But in the more general case, probabilistic axioms formulated in terms of classical logic are violated—but we will show that generalized versions of the axioms formulated in terms of non-classical logics are satisfied. (shrink)
Revisionary theories of logic or truth require revisionary theories of mind. This essay outlines nonclassically based theories of rational belief, desire, and decision making, singling out the supervaluational family for special attention. To see these nonclassical theories of mind in action, this essay examines a debate between David Lewis and Derek Parfit over what matters in survival. Lewis argued that indeterminacy in personal identity allows caring about psychological connectedness and caring about personal identity to amount to the same thing. The (...) essay argues that Lewis's treatment of two of Parfit's puzzle cases—degreed survival and fission—presuppose different nonclassical treatments of belief and desire. (shrink)
Jeff Paris proves a generalized Dutch Book theorem. If a belief state is not a generalized probability then one faces ‘sure loss’ books of bets. In Williams I showed that Joyce’s accuracy-domination theorem applies to the same set of generalized probabilities. What is the relationship between these two results? This note shows that both results are easy corollaries of the core result that Paris appeals to in proving his dutch book theorem. We see that every point of accuracy-domination deﬁnes a (...) dutch book, but we only have a partial converse. (shrink)
John Hawthorne in a recent paper takes issue with Lewisian accounts of counterfactuals, when relevant laws of nature are chancy. I respond to his arguments on behalf of the Lewisian, and conclude that while some can be rebutted, the case against the original Lewisian account is strong. I develop a neo-Lewisian account of what makes for closeness of worlds. I argue that my revised version avoids Hawthorne's challenges. I argue that this is closer to the spirit of Lewis's first (non-chancy) (...) proposal than is Lewis's own suggested modification. (shrink)
I outline and motivate a way of implementing a closest world theory of indicatives, appealing to Stalnaker's framework of open conversational possibilities. Stalnakerian conversational dynamics helps us resolve two outstanding puzzles for a such a theory of indicative conditionals. The first puzzle -- concerning so-called 'reverse Sobel sequences' -- can be resolved by conversation dynamics in a theoryneutral way: the explanation works as much for Lewisian counterfactuals as for the account of indicatives developed here. Resolving the second puzzle, by contrast, (...) relies on the interplay between the particular theory of indicative conditionals developed here and Stalnakerian dynamics. The upshot is an attractive resolution of the so-called "Gibbard phenomenon" for indicative conditionals. (shrink)
Some argue that theories of universals should incorporate structural universals, in order to allow for the metaphysical possibility of worlds of 'infinite descending complexity' ('onion worlds'). I argue that the possibility of such worlds does not establish the need for structural universals. So long as we admit the metaphysical possibility of emergent universals, there is an attractive alternative description of such cases.
There are advantages to thrift over honest toil. If we can make do without numbers we avoid challenging questions over the metaphysics and epistemology of such entities; and we have a good idea, I think, of what a nominalistic metaphysics should look like. But minimizing ontology brings its own problems; for it seems to lead to error theory— saying that large swathes of common-sense and best science are false. Should recherche philosophical arguments really convince us to give all this up? (...) Such Moorean considerations are explicitly part of the motivation for the recent resurgence of structured metaphysics, which allow a minimal (perhaps nominalistic) fundamental ontology, while avoiding error-theory by adopting a permissive stance towards ontology that can be argued to be grounded in the fundamental. This paper evaluates the Moorean arguments, identifying key epistemological assumptions. On the assumption that Moorean arguments can be used to rule out error-theory, I examine deflationary ‘representationalist’ rivals to the structured metaphysics reaction. Quinean paraphrase, fictionalist claims about syntax and semantics are considered and criticized. In the final section, a ‘direct’ deflationary strategy is outlined and the theoretical obligations that it faces are articulated. The position advocated may have us talking a lot like a friend of structured metaphysics—but with a very different conception of what we’re up to. (shrink)
Supervaluationism is often described as the most popular semantic treatment of indeterminacy. There???s little consensus, however, about how to fill out the bare-bones idea to include a characterization of logical consequence. The paper explores one methodology for choosing between the logics: pick a logic that norms belief as classical consequence is standardly thought to do. The main focus of the paper considers a variant of standard supervaluational, on which we can characterize degrees of determinacy. It applies the methodology above to (...) focus on degree logic. This is developed first in a basic, single-premise case; and then extended to the multipremise case, and to allow degrees of consequence. The metatheoretic properties of degree logic are set out. On the positive side, the logic is supraclassical???all classical valid sequents are degree logic valid. Strikingly, metarules such as cut and conjunction introduction fail. (shrink)
Abstract In this paper, I examine the plausibility of Embodied Accounts of Social Cognition by finding fault with the most detailed and convincing version of such an account, as articulated by Daniel Hutto ( 2008 ). I argue that this account fails to offer a plausible ontogeny for folk psychological abilities due to its inability to address recent evidence from implicit false belief tasks that suggest a radically different timeline for the development of these abilities. Content Type Journal Article Pages (...) 1-18 DOI 10.1007/s11097-011-9213-3 Authors J. Robert Thompson, Department of Philosophy and Religion, Mississippi State University, P.O. Box JS, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA Journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences Online ISSN 1572-8676 Print ISSN 1568-7759. (shrink)
: The current difference in attitude toward germ-line enhancement in humans and nonhumans is unjustified. Society should be more cautious in modifying the genes of nonhumans and more bold in thinking about modifying our own genome. I identify four classes of arguments pertaining to germ-line enhancement: safety arguments, justice arguments, trust arguments, and naturalness arguments. The first three types are compelling, but do not distinguish between human and nonhuman cases. The final class of argument would justify a distinction between human (...) and nonhuman germ-line enhancement; however, this type of argument fails and, therefore, the discrepancy in attitude toward human and nonhuman germ-line enhancement is unjustified. (shrink)
Recent evidence that young children seem to both understand false belief in one sense, but not in another, has led to two-systems theorizing about mindreading. By analyzing the most detailed two-systems approach in studying social cognition—the theory of mindreading defended by Ian Apperly and Stephen Butterfill—I argue that that even when dutifully constructed, two-systems approaches in social cognition struggle to adequately define the mindreading systems in terms of signature processing limits, an issue that becomes most apparent when investigating mindreading in (...) infancy. I end the article by developing several challenges that face any two-systems account of mindreading. (shrink)
In some sense, survival seems to be an intrinsic matter. Whether or not you survive some event seems to depend on what goes on with you yourself —what happens in the environment shouldn’t make a difference. Likewise, being a person at a time seems intrinsic. The principle that survival seems intrinsic is one factor which makes personal fission puzzles so awkward. Fission scenarios present cases where if survival is an intrinsic matter, it appears that an individual could survive twice over. (...) But it’s well known that standard notions of “intrinsicality” won’t do to articulate the sense in which survival is intrinsic, since ‘personhood’ appears to be a maximal property. We formulate a sense in which survival and personhood (and perhaps other maximal properties) may be almost intrinsic—a sense that would suffice, for example, to ground fission arguments. It turns out that this notion of almost-intrinsicality allows us to formulate a new version of the problem of the many. (shrink)
This essay takes a critical look at aesthetics as the basis for nature preservation, presenting three reasons why we should not rely on aesthetic foundations to justify the environmentalist program. First, a comparison to other kinds of aesthetic value shows that the aesthetic value of nature can provide weak reasons foraction atbest. Second, not everything environmentalists want to protect has positive aesthetic qualities. Attempts have been made to get around this problem by developing a reformist attitude towards natural aesthetics. I (...) argue that these approaches fail. Third, development can be as aesthetically positive as nature. If it is simply beauty we are looking for, why can't the beauty of a wellconstructed dam or a magnificent skyscraper suffice? (shrink)
This essay explores the thesis that for vague predicates, uncertainty over whether a borderline instance x of red/large/tall/good is to be understood as practical uncertainty over whether to treat x as red/large/tall/good. Expressivist and quasi-realist treatments of vague predicates due to John MacFarlane and Daniel Elstein provide the stalking-horse. It examines the notion of treating/counting a thing as F , and links a central question about our attitudes to vague predications to normative evaluation of plans to treat a thing as (...) F . The essay examines how the account applies to normatively defective or contested terms. The final section raises a puzzle about the mechanics of MacFarlane’s detailed implementation for the case of gradable adjectives. (shrink)
How are permutation arguments for the inscrutability of reference to be formulated in the context of a Davidsonian truth-theoretic semantics? Davidson takes these arguments to establish that there are no grounds for favouring a reference scheme that assigns London to “Londres”, rather than one that assigns Sydney to that name. We shall see, however, that it is far from clear whether permutation arguments work when set out in the context of the kind of truth-theoretic semantics which Davidson favours. The principle (...) required to make the argument work allows us to resurrect Foster problems against the Davidsonian position. The Foster problems and the permutation inscrutability problems stand or fall together: they are one puzzle, not two. (shrink)
I formulate a counterfactual version of the notorious ‘Ramsey Test’. Even in a weak form, this makes counterfactuals subject to the very argument that Lewis used to persuade the majority of the philosophical community that indicative conditionals were in hot water. I outline two reactions: to indicativize the debate on counterfactuals; or to counterfactualize the debate on indicatives.
In this article, I defend Neo-Gricean accounts of language and communication from an objection about linguistic development. According to this objection, children are incapable of understanding the minds of others in the way that Neo-Gricean accounts require until long after they learn the meanings of words, are able to produce meaningful utterances, and understand the meaningful utterances of others. In answering this challenge, I outline exactly what sorts of psychological states are required by Neo-Gricean accounts and conclude that there is (...) sufficient evidence that these types of psychological states are present in and capable of being understood by the children in question. (shrink)
In this paper, I lend novel support to H. P. Grice’s account of speaker meaning (GASM) by blunting the force of a significant objection. Stephen Schiffer has argued that in order to make GASM sufficient, one must add restrictions that are psychologically impossible to fulfill, thereby making GASM untenable. In what follows, I explain the elements of GASM that require it to invoke these psychologically unrealizable restrictions. I then accept Schiffer’s criticism, but modify its significance to GASM. I argue that (...) the problem that Schiffer notes is not a reason to reject GASM, but a reason to embrace it. GASM shows that meaning is best understood as an absolute concept—an unrealizable ideal limit. Taking some inspiration from contextualist theories of knowledge attribution, I argue that my version of GASM offers a useful contextualist account of meaning attribution. Hence, pragmatic theories of meaning and communication should not wholly exclude GASM from their theorizing, at least not for the reasons that are commonly given. (shrink)
In this paper, I outline evidence of Paul Grice’s enduring influence in Psycho-linguistics and the Philosophy of Language. I focus on two particular cases: the role of intentions within developmental psycholinguistics and the notion of what is said within current debates over the notion of semantic content and the semantic-pragmatic boundary. I end the paper with a brief discussion of a possible difficulty facing those who hope to square Grice’s stance on naturalism with this work.
In this paper, I compile some reasons for resisting Stainton's analysis of sub-sentential speech. My resistance stems from considerations about the intentions and expectations of those who communicate using sub-sentential speech. I challenge Stainton's reasons for thinking that some sub-sentential utterances have the status of full-fledged speech acts and argue that they turn out to be degenerate speech acts. After offering my own analysis of sub-sentential speech, I recommend that by revisiting the divide and conquer strategy Stainton dismisses for handling (...) the alleged cases of genuine sub-sentential speech, we can resist radical forms of contextualism suggested by his analysis. En este texto recopilo algunas razones para oponerse al análisis del habla suboracional que plantea Stainton. Mi oposición surge de consideraciones en torno a las intenciones y expectativas de quienes se comunican usando el habla suboracional. Pongo en duda las razones que aduce Stainton para pensar que algunas proferencias suboracionales tienen el estatus de actos de habla en toda la extensión de la palabra y arguyo que resultan ser actos de habla degenerados. Después de ofrecer mi propio análisis del habla suboracional, recomiendo que, retomando la estrategia "divide y vencerás" que Stainton descarta para manejar los presuntos casos de habla suboracional genuina, podemos oponernos a las formas radicales de contextualismo que su análisis sugiere. (shrink)
Chancy counterfactuals are a headache. Dylan Dodd (2009) presents an interesting argument against a certain general strategy for accounting for them, instances of which are found in the appendices to Lewis (1979) and in Williams (2008). I will argue (i) that Dodd’s understates the counterintuitiveness of the conclusions he can reach; (ii) that the counterintuitiveness can be thought of as an instance of more general oddities arising when we treat vagueness and indeterminacy in a classical setting; and (iii) the underlying (...) source of discontent which animates Dodd’s complains is to be found in a certain general constraint one might impose on conditionals—what I’ll call the counterfactual Ramsey bound. Unfortunately, the counterfactual Ramsey bound is just as problematic as its famous indicative cousin. The moral is that there’s no comfortable resting place in this area; for violations of the counterfactual Ramsey bound are going to lead to prima facie surprising results. (shrink)
Bryne & Hajek (1997) argue that Lewis’s (1988; 1996) objections to identifying desire with belief do not go through if our notion of desire is ‘causalized’ (characterized by causal, rather than evidential, decision theory). I argue that versions of the argument go through on certain assumptions about the formulation of decision theory. There is one version of causal decision theory where the original arguments cannot be formulated—the ‘imaging’ formulation that Joyce (1999) advocates. But I argue this formulation is independently objectionable. (...) If we want to maintain the desire as belief thesis, there’s no shortcut through causalization. (shrink)