A “slingshot” proof suggested by Kurt Gödel (1944) has been recast by Stephen Neale (1995) as a deductive argument showing that no non-truthfunctional sentence connective can permit the combined use, within its scope, of two truth-functionally valid inference principles involving deﬁ- nite descriptions. According to Neale, this result provides indirect support for Russell’s Theory of Descriptions and has broader philosophical repercussions because descriptions occur in non-truth-functional constructions used to motivate talk about (e.g.) necessity, time, probability, causation, obligation, facts, (...) states of affairs, and propositions. (shrink)
When philosophers talk about descriptions, usually they have in mind singular definite descriptions such as ‘the finest Greek poet’ or ‘the positive square root of nine’, phrases formed with the definite article ‘the’. English also contains indefinite descriptions such as ‘a fine Greek poet’ or ‘a square root of nine’, phrases formed with the indefinite article ‘a’ (or ‘an’); and demonstrative descriptions (also known as complex demonstratives) such as ‘this Greek poet’ and ‘that tall woman’, formed with the demonstrative articles (...) ‘this’ and ‘that’. Following the custom in philosophy, in this chapter often we use ‘description’ as short for ‘definite description’; and following the custom in linguistics, often we use ‘definite’, ‘indefinite’, and ‘demonstrative’ as shorthand nouns. For the most part we focus on definite and indefinites, although a few words about demonstratives are called for. At the centre of debates about descriptions is the matter of whether they are devices of reference or of predication (simple or higher-order), and much discussion focuses on how various proposals are to be incorporated into broader theories of the semantics of natural language. But philosophical interest goes beyond the confines of linguistics, logic, and the philosophy of language because choices made about the semantics of descriptions have repercussions elsewhere, particularly in epistemology and metaphysics. A simple match of form and meaning appears to fail.1 First, many occurrences of expressions of both forms ‘the φ’ and ‘a φ’ appear to be used to talk about particular individuals. Consider (1). (shrink)
The work of the late Paul Grice (1913–1988) exerts a powerful influence on the way philosophers, linguists, and cognitive scientists think about meaning and communication. With respect to a particular sentence φ and an “utterer” U, Grice stressed the philosophical importance of separating (i) what φ means, (ii) what U said on a given occasion by uttering φ, and (iii) what U meant by uttering φ on that occasion. Second, he provided systematic attempts to say precisely what meaning is by (...) providing a series of more refined analyses of utterer’s meaning, sentence meaning, and what is said. Third, Grice produced an account of how it is possible for what U says and what U means to diverge. Fourth, by characterizing a philosophically important distinction between the “genuinely semantic” and “merely pragmatic” implications of a statement, Grice clarified the relationship between classical logic and the semantics of natural language. Fifth, he provided some much needed philosophical ventilation by deploying his notion of “implicature” to devastating effect against certain overzealous strains of “Ordinary Language Philosophy,” without himself abandoning the view that philosophy must pay attention to the nuances of ordinary talk. Sixth, Grice undercut some of the most influential arguments for a philosophically significant notion of “presupposition.” Today, Grice’s work lies at the center of research on the semantics-pragmatics distinction and shapes much discussion of the relationship between language and mind. In a nutshell, Grice has forced philosophers and linguists to think very carefully about the sorts of facts a semantic theory is supposed to account for and to reflect upon the most central theoretical notions, notions that otherwise might be taken for granted or employed without due care and attention. To be sure, Grice’s own positive proposals have their weaknesses; but in the light of his work any theory of meaning that is to be taken at all seriously must now draw a sharp line between genuinely semantic facts and facts pertaining to the nature of human interaction.. (shrink)
Names, descriptions, and demonstratives raise well-known logical, ontological, and epistemological problems. Perhaps less well known, amongst philosophers at least, are the ways in which some of these problems not only recur with pronouns but also cross-cut further problems exposed by the study in generative linguistics of morpho-syntactic constraints on interpretation. These problems will be my primary concern here, but I want to address them within a general picture of interpretation that is required if wires are not to be crossed. That (...) picture will be sketched in sections 3 and 4; subsequent sections will focus on pronouns and binding, drawing heavily on what has preceded. (shrink)
The topic of moral repair in the aftermath of breaches of trust and harmdoing has grown in importance within the past few years. In this paper, we present the results of a qualitative study that offers insight into a series of key issues related to offender efforts to repair interpersonal harm in the workplace: What factors motivate offenders to make amends with those they have harmed? In what ways do offenders attempt to make amends? What outcomes emerge from attempts to (...) make amends? Drawing from the findings, we build an inductive model intended to guide future business ethics and management inquiry and research in this area. (shrink)
Views of fire in the contemporary physical sciences arguably accord with Heraclitus’ proposal that ‘all things are an exchange for fire, and fire for all things, as goods for gold and gold for goods.’ Fire is a media, as John Durham Peters has stated, a species of transformative biochemical reactions between the flammable gases found in air, such as oxygen, and those found in fuels, such as plants. Inspired by an ignition source, these materials react and transform themselves and their (...) surrounds into light and heat energy, carbon dioxide, water vapour, char and much else besides. Fire is conjunctural, durational and transformative. Fire is a dialectician, at once consuming living and dead organic matter and providing both the space and ingredients for new and renewed organic life. In this article, we draw upon our experience of combustible contexts—Australia, Canada and the Philippines—to consider the diverse ways in which fire is today framed as a social problem, an ecological process, an ancient tool, a natural disaster, a source of economic wealth and much more. In this way, we seek to explore the value and limits of ‘elemental thinking’ in relation to the planetary predicaments described by ‘the Anthropocene’. (shrink)
The idea that an utterance of a basic (nondeviant) declarative sentence expresses a single true-or-false proposition has dominated philosophical discussions of meaning in this century. Refinements aside, this idea is less of a substantive theses than it is a background assumption against which particular theories of meaning are evaluated. But there are phenomena (noted by Frege, Strawson, and Grice) that threaten at least the completeness of classical theories of meaning, which associate with an utterance of a simple sentence a truth-condition, (...) a Russellian proposition, or a Fregean thought. And it may well be the case that a framework within which utterances express sequences of propositions provides much of what is needed to account for the relevant phenomena, a better overall picture of the way language works, and an enticingly uniform perspective on a variety of semantic problems. I do not myself take to theories that multiply propositions by appealing to propositions “presupposed” or to pairs of Fregean and Russellian propositions, or theories that show no respect for a distinction between semantics and pragmatics— where the former is the study of propositions whose general form and character is determined by word meaning and syntax—or for theories that blithely abandon general principles of composition and semantic innocence. I would like to sketch a package based on four interconnected ideas: (i) the meaning of an individual word is a sequence of instructions for generating a sequence of propositions (in conjunction with compositional instructions (syntax) and elements of context); (ii) utterances themselves are not bearers of truth or falsity; (iii) judgements of truth, falsity, commitment, and conflict are shaped, in part, by the weights attached to individual 1 propositions that occur in sequences expressed by utterances, weights that may be set (and reset) by contextual considerations; (iv) Fregean senses are superfluous; propositions might as well be Russellian (Mont Blanc and all its snow fields will do as well as any mode of presentation).. (shrink)
We describe the ongoing citations to biomedical articles affected by scientific misconduct, and characterize the papers that cite these affected articles. The citations to 102 articles named in official findings of scientific misconduct during the period of 1993 and 2001 were identified through the Institute for Scientific Information Web of Science database. Using a stratified random sampling strategy, we performed a content analysis of 603 of the 5,393 citing papers to identify indications of awareness that the cited articles affected by (...) scientific misconduct had validity issues, and to examine how the citing papers referred to the affected articles. Fewer than 5% of citing papers indicated any awareness that the cited article was retracted or named in a finding of misconduct. We also tested the hypothesis that affected articles would have fewer citations than a comparison sample; this was not supported. Most articles affected by misconduct were published in basic science journals, and we found little cause for concern that such articles may have affected clinical equipoise or clinical care. (shrink)
This paper attempts to raise a question for the everyday view that language is a means of communication, a system of marks or sounds which we use to convey thoughts and describe the world. It first isolates the assumptions behind this everyday view before raising questions about them.
The purpose of this study was to identify and describe published research articles that were named in official findings of scientific misconduct and to investigate compliance with the administrative actions contained in these reports for corrections and retractions, as represented in PubMed. Between 1993 and 2001, 102 articles were named in either the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts (“Findings of Scientific Misconduct”) or the U.S. Office of Research Integrity annual reports as needing retraction or correction. In 2002, 98 of (...) the 102 articles were indexed in PubMed. Eighty-five of these 98 articles had indexed corrections: 47 were retracted; 26 had an erratum; 12 had a correction described in the “comment” field. Thirteen had no correction, but 10 were linked to the NIH Guide “Findings of Scientific Misconduct”, leaving only 3 articles with no indication of any sort of problem. As of May 2005, there were 5,393 citations to the 102 articles, with a median of 26 citations per article (range 0–592). Researchers should be alert to “Comments” linked to the NIH Guide as these are open access, and the “Findings of Scientific Misconduct’ reports are often more informative than the statements about the retraction or correction found in the journals. (shrink)
Despite the importance of extrapair copulation (EPC) in human evolution, almost nothing is known about the design features of EPC detection mechanisms. We tested for sex differences in EPC inference-making mechanisms in a sample of 203 young couples. Men made more accurate inferences (φmen = 0.66, φwomen = 0.46), and the ratio of positive errors to negative errors was higher for men than for women (1.22 vs. 0.18). Since some may have been reluctant to admit EPC behavior, we modeled how (...) underreporting could have influenced these results. These analyses indicated that it would take highly sex-differentiated levels of underreporting by subjects with trusting partners for there to be no real sex difference. Further analyses indicated that men may be less willing to harbor unresolved suspicions about their partners’ EPC behavior, which may explain the sex difference in accuracy. Finally, we estimated that women underreported their own EPC behavior (10%) more than men (0%). (shrink)
lt is widely held that entertaining a belief or forming a judgement involves the exercise of conceptual capacities; and to this extent the representational content of a belief or judgement is said to be "con— ceptual". According to Gareth Evans (1980), not all psychological states have conceptual content in this sense. In particular, perceptual states have non—conceptual content; it is not until one forms a judgement on the basis of a perceptual experience that one touches the realm of conceptual content.
Recently there has been increased attention paid to the behaviour of those who call themselves professionals. The idea of acceptable professional conduct incorporates the expectations of a number of groups affected by the activities of professionals. The framework of professional behaviour considered acceptable at a point in time is an equilibrium among these groups' expectations. This paper argues that shifts in the expectations of any of these groups will disturb this equilibrium. This process of disequilibrium and change leads to altered (...) views of professional behaviour. Professional misconduct or unprofessional behaviour, that is, the failure to meet expectations, is inherent in the underlying framework of a profession.The framework is applied to the public (chartered) accounting profession, where the interacting groups are accounting professionals, their clients and the general public. Current issues of debate about professional behaviour are identifiable as consequences of altered expectations about acceptable behaviour. Acceptable conduct has become misconduct (and vice versa) and written rules of conduct conflict with unwritten rules. (shrink)
This is a review of Patrick Meier’s 2015 book, Digital Humanitarians: How Big Data Is Changing the Face of Humanitarian Response. The book explores the role of technologies such as high-resolution satellite imagery, online social media, drones, and artificial intelligence in humanitarian responses during disasters such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake. In this analysis, the book is examined using a humanitarian health ethics perspective.
We suggest a fuller understanding of the obligation to respect patient autonomy can be gained by recognizing patients as historically and socially situated agents, whose values are developed, challenged, and changed, rather than merely applied, in their decision-making about their use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis or preimplantation genetic screening (PGD/PGS). We ground this discussion in empirical research on the patients experiences with PGD/PGS, and conclude by suggesting that promoting patients’ self-respect is a useful ethical standard for providers and practices to (...) recognize. (shrink)