Narrow mental content is a kind of mental content that does not depend on an individual's environment. Narrow content contrasts with “broad” or “wide” content, which depends on features of the individual's environment as well as on features of the individual. It is controversial whether there is any such thing as narrow content. Assuming that there is, it is also controversial what sort of content it is, what its relation to ordinary or “broad” content is, and how it is determined (...) by the individual's intrinsic properties. (shrink)
What we believe depends on more than the purely intrinsic facts about us: facts about our environment or context also help determine the contents of our beliefs. 1 This observation has led several writers to hope that beliefs can be divided, as it were, into two components: a "core" that depends only on the individual?s intrinsic properties; and a periphery that depends on the individual?s context, including his or her history, environment, and linguistic community. Thus Jaegwon Kim suggests that "within (...) each noninternal psychological state that enters into the explanation of some action or behavior we can locate an ?internal core state? which can assume the causal-explanatory role of the noninternal state."2 In the same vein, Stephen Stich writes that "nonautonomous" states, like belief, are best viewed as "conceptually complex hybrids" made up of an autonomous component together with historical and contextual features.3 John Perry, whose term I have adopted, distinguishes between belief states, which are determined by an individual?s intrinsic properties, and objects of belief, which are not.4 And Daniel Dennett makes use of the same notion when he asks:5. (shrink)
Idealism is an ontological view, a view about what sorts of things there are in the universe. Idealism holds that what there is depends on our own mental structure and activity. Berkeley of course held that everything was mental; Kant held the more complex view that there was an important distinction between the mental and the physical, but that the structure of the empirical world depended on the activities of minds. Despite radical differences, idealists like Berkeley and Kant share what (...) Ralph Barton Perry called "the cardinal principle of idealism," namely, the principle that "being is dependent on the knowing of it."1 I believe that Hilary Putnam intends his "internal realism" to be a version of idealism in this broad sense; although many of his arguments concern semantic notions like truth and reference, he takes these semantic arguments to have ontological consequences. This is strongly suggested, for instance, by his claim that "'objects' themselves are as much made as discovered, as much products of our conceptual invention as of the 'objective' factor in experience."2 Or again there is this rather Kantian metaphor: "the mind and the world jointly make up the mind and the world."3 But just what is Putnam's ontology? (shrink)
Belief states are only contingently connected with the objects of belief. Burge's examples show that the same belief state can be associated with different objects of belief. Kripke's puzzle shows that the same object of belief can be associated with different belief states. Nevertheless, belief states can best be characterized by a subset of the propositions one believes, namely those one directly or immediately believes. The rest of the things one believes are believed indirectly, by virtue of one's direct beliefs. (...) This distinction sheds light on Kripke's puzzle, the problem of the contingent a priori, and the problem of logical omniscience. (shrink)
The first thesis is that beliefs play a role in explaining behavior. This is reasonably uncontroversial, though it has been controverted. Why did I raise my arm? Because I wanted to emphasize a point, and believed that I could do so by raising my arm. The belief that I could emphasize a point by raising my arm is central to the most natural explanation of my action.
Some of Tichý's conclusions rest on an assumption about substitutivity which Kripke would not accept. If we grant the assumption, then Tichý successfully shows that we can discover true identity statements involving names a priori, but not that we can discover a priori what properties things have essentially. Many of Tichý's arguments require an implausible rejection of the possibility of indirect belief as described in Section III. 25Are there necessary a posteriori propositions? I have argued that we certainly can discover (...) necessary propositions a posteriori, but have left it an open question whether there are necessary propositions which we can only discover a posteriori.What effect do the considerations here presented have on the positivist doctrine that the a priori and the necessary coincide? My explanation of how we discover necessary propositions a posteriori involves our believing them indirectly, in virtue of believing contingent propositions. I would argue that Kripke's examples of the contingent a priori involve, similarly, our believing the contingent propositions in directly, in virtue of believing necessary propositions.This suggests that a reformulation of the positivist thesis along something like the following lines may well be correct. Let us say that someone directly believes a proposition just in case he could not fail to believe it without being in a different cognitive state. Then perhaps one can directly believe a proposition on the basis of a priori evidence only if it is necessary, and can directly believe a proposition on the basis of a posteriori evidence only if it is contingent. (shrink)
In recent years, a number of moral philosophers have held both that there are particular moral truths, and also that there are no general moral principles which explain these particular moral truths--either because there simply are no moral principles, or because moral principles are themselves explained by or derived from particular moral truths rather than vice versa. Often this combination of doctrines is held by philosophers interested in reviving an Aristotelean approach..
Mary Devereaux has suggested, in an overview of feminist aesthetics, that feminist aesthetics constitutes a revolutionary approach to the field: "aesthetics cannot simply 'add on' feminist theories as it might add new works by [ Nelson ] Goodman, Arthur Danto or George Dickie. To take feminism seriously involves rethinking our basic concepts and recasting the history of the discipline." In particular, feminist theory involves a rejection of "deeply entrenched assumptions about the universal value of art and aesthetic experience." Overthrowing these (...) assumptions "constitutes what art historian, Linda Nochlin, describes as a Kuhnian paradigm shift." Near the end of her essay, Devereaux returns to this theme: "If feminism constitutes a new paradigm, then we may wish to ponder how far the old model of aesthetics and the new are commensurable. Is traditional aesthetics contingently or necessarily associated with patriarchy? Can the 'gender-neutral' aesthetics of the traditional model be reformed or must it be rejected?". (shrink)
Can we believe things that could not possibly be true? The world seems full of examples. Mathematicians have "proven" theorems which in fact turn out to be false. People have believed that Hesperus is not Phosphorus, that they themselves are essentially incorporeal, that heat is not molecular motion--all propositions which have been claimed to be not just false, but necessarily false. Some have even seemed to pride themselves on believing the impossible; Hegel thought contradictions could be true, and Kierkegaard seems (...) to have thought that Christianity, in which he fervently believed, was impossible and absurd. (shrink)
David Chalmers has defended an account of what it is for a physical system to implement a computation. The account appeals to the idea of a “combinatorial-state automaton” or CSA. It is unclear whether Chalmers intends the CSA to be a computational model in the usual sense, or merely a convenient formalism into which instances of other models can be translated. I argue that the CSA is not a computational model in the usual sense because CSAs do not perspicuously represent (...) algorithms, are too powerful both in that they can perform any computation in a single step and in that without so far unspecified restrictions they can “compute” the uncomputable, and are too loosely related to physical implementations. (shrink)
Ruth Barcan Marcus has argued that, just as we cannot know what is false, we cannot believe what is impossible.1 I will offer an interpretation of her defense of this view. I will then argue, first, that if the defense succeeded it would also justify rejecting many, perhaps most, of our ordinary belief ascriptions; and second, that, luckily, the defense does not succeed. Finally, I suggest that despite its failure there is something correct and important in Marcus's argument.
Both David Lewis and Roderick Chisholm have proposed that beliefs are best understood, not as relations between people and the propositions they believe, but as relations between people and the properties they "directly attribute" to themselves or "self-ascribe." If this account is correct for belief, it seems that it ought to be possible to extend it to other "propositional attitudes" such as considering and wishing. But the most straightforward way of extending the account to such other attitudes faces difficulties, some (...) of which are discussed in a paper by Peter J. Markie. In this paper I will show how to apply the account to considering and wishing in a way that avoids such difficulties. (shrink)