That laws of nature play a vital role in explanation, prediction, and inductive inference is far clearer than the nature of the laws themselves. My hope here is to shed some light on the nature of natural laws by developing and defending the view that they involve genuine relations between properties. Such a position is suggested by Plato, and more recent versions have been sketched by several writers.~ But I am not happy with any of these accounts, not so much (...) because they lack detail or engender minor difficulties, though they do, but because they share a quite fundamental defect. My goal here is to make this defect clear and, more importantly, to present a rather different version of this general conception of laws that avoids it. I begin by considering several features of natural laws and argue that these are best explained by the view that laws involve properties, that this involvement takes the form of a genuine relation between properties, and, finally, that the relation is a metaphysically necessary one. In the second section I start at the other end, and by reflecting on the nature of properties arrive at a similar account of natural laws. In the final section I develop this account in more detail, with emphasis on the nature of the relation between properties it invokes. Along the way several natural objections to the account are answered. (shrink)
It is argued that a number of important, and seemingly disparate, types of representation are species of a single relation, here called structural representation, that can be described in detail and studied in a way that is of considerable philosophical interest. A structural representation depends on the existence of a common structure between a representation and that which it represents, and it is important because it allows us to reason directly about the representation in order to draw conclusions about the (...) phenomenon that it depicts. The present goal is to give a general and precise account of structural representation, then to use that account to illuminate several problems of current philosophical interest — including some that do not initially seem to involve representation at all. In particular, it is argued that ontological reductions (like that of the natural numbers to sets), compositional accounts of semantics, several important sorts of mental representation, and (perhaps) possible worlds semantics for intensional logics are all species of structural representation and are fruitfully studied in the framework developed here. (shrink)
My thesis is that there are good reasons for a philosophical account of measurement to deal primarily with the properties or magnitudes of objects measured, rather than with the objects themselves. The account I present here embodies both a realism about measurement and a realism about the existence of the properties involved in measurement. It thus provides an alternative to most current treatments of measurement, many of which are operationalistic or conventionalistic, and nearly all of which are nominalistic.1 This enables (...) the present account to give better explanations of a number of features of measurement and other aspects of science than competing accounts of measurement can, and to be more readily integrated into a realist account of natural laws and causation. It also illustrates a general strategy for combining a familiar and powerful approach to representation with intensional entities like properties, which I think can be useful for dealing with a number of philosophical problems. (shrink)
In this paper I present a formal language in which complex predicates stand for properties and relations, and assignments of denotations to complex predicates and assignments of extensions to the properties and relations they denote are both homomorphisms. This system affords a fresh perspective on several important philosophical topics, highlighting the algebraic features of properties and clarifying the sense in which properties can be represented by their extensions. It also suggests a natural modification of current logics of properties, one in (...) which some complex predicates stand for properties while others do not. (shrink)
In der vorliegenden Arbeit wird Leibniz' wahrscheinlich detailliertestes und ausgefeiltestes System untersucht: ein Kalkül der Einfügung und eine der Konjunktion ähnliche Operation, die er realis abjectio nennt. Das System soll hinreichend detailliert und mit hinreichender Präzision vorgestellt werden, um zu zeigen, daβ es ausgefeilt formal logisch ist und eine Anzahl originärer und wichtiger Züge aufweist. Neben seinem eigenständigen Interesse ist dieses System wichtig wegen seiner Auswirkungen auf andere Aspekte von Leibniz' Logik und Philosophie, und ein weiteres Ziel dieser Arbeit ist, (...) einige dieser Verbindungen aufzuspüren. (shrink)
The early, largely automatic stages of human visual processing involve things like feature detectors (e.g., edge detectors) that do not involve our concepts or beliefs. These stages are called data-driven or bottom up aspects of perceptual information processing. But in the later stages of processing perception often is affected by our concepts, beliefs, and expectations. Such processes are said to be hypothesis-driven or expectation-driven; they are also known as..
Although Kant's attempts in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals to derive statements of specific duties from the categorical imperative have received much attention, there is still disagreement over the strategies of particular derivations, the status of the auxiliary assumptions employed therein, and the principles at work in the derivations generally. Yet an understanding of these matters is indispensable for a proper understanding of the Groundwork and bears on a much wider class of ethical theories as well. My aim (...) here is to provide an account of the derivations and their auxiliary premises that explains both the strategy behind the derivations generally and the details of Kant's specific examples. In particular, I shall argue that the widespread view that the premises of the derivations are empirical is mistaken and that their conclusions are thus more general than is often supposed. (shrink)
“What kind of psychological theory could relate our use of words to sets of possible worlds?” So queries a recent author, but the question is rhetorical, the insinuation being that any analysis or explanation of semantical notions in terms of possible worlds will involve an account that won't square with a naturalistic view of language acquisition or use. Such feelings are widespread; my purpose here is to argue that they are unjustified.
Many linguists, including Noam Chomsky, contend that language in the sense we ordinary think of it, in the sense that people in Germany speak German, is a historical or social or political notion, rather than a scientific one. For example, German and Dutch are much closer to one another than various dialects of Chinese are. But the rough, commonsense divisions between languages will suffice for our purposes.
These books are part of Douglas Walton’s project to develop a new theoretical framework for informal logic. The first book, on his new dialectic, is extremely ambitious; the goal is nothing less than to construct a systematic and comprehensive theory of rationality that can provide the basis for the normative evaluation of real-life arguments in real-life settings. The second book, on ad hominem arguments, provides an extended application of the framework developed in the first book. Since the first, foundational, book (...) will probably be of greater interest to most readers of this journal, I will focus on it. (shrink)