ABSTRACTThis paper distinguishes between the theoretical scientific image and the practical scientific image. The popular idea that there is a conceptual clash between the scientific and manifest images of the world is revealed as largely illusory. From the perspective of a liberal naturalism, the placement problem for ‘problematic’ entities or truths is not solved but dissolved. Persons, say, are not posits of any explanatory science, but beings acknowledged as rational agencies in second-personal space. Core elements of the manifest image are (...) more deeply rooted in our conceptual scheme than any version of the scientific image. (shrink)
Normativity concerns what we ought to think or do and the evaluations we make. For example, we say that we ought to think consistently, we ought to keep our promises, or that Mozart is a better composer than Salieri. Yet what philosophical moral can we draw from the apparent absence of normativity in the scientific image of the world? For scientific naturalists, the moral is that the normative must be reduced to the nonnormative, while for nonnaturalists, the moral is that (...) there must be a transcendent realm of norms. _Naturalism and Normativity_ engages with both sides of this debate. Essays explore philosophical options for understanding normativity in the space between scientific naturalism and Platonic supernaturalism. They articulate a liberal conception of philosophy that is neither reducible to the sciences nor completely independent of themyet one that maintains the right to call itself naturalism. Contributors think in new ways about the relations among the scientific worldview, our experience of norms and values, and our movements in the space of reason. Detailed discussions include the relationship between philosophy and science, physicalism and ontological pluralism, the realm of the ordinary, objectivity and subjectivity, truth and justification, and the liberal naturalisms of Donald Davidson, John Dewey, John McDowell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. (shrink)
The critical concern of the present volume is contemporary naturalism, both in its scientific version and as represented by newly emerging hopes for another, philosophically more liberal, naturalism.1 The papers collected here are state-of-the-art discussions that question the appeal, rational motivations, and presuppositions of scientific naturalism across a broad range of philosophical topics. As an alternative to scientific naturalism, we offer the outlines of a new non- reductive form of naturalism and a more inclusive conception of nature than any provided (...) by the natural sciences. Our authors collectively believe that holding scientific naturalism up for philosophical scrutiny and challenging its misconceptions is of the first importance both for understanding ourselves and our place in the world; and, also, for the future direction of philosophy itself. (shrink)
Similarity and difference, patterns of variation, consistency and coherence: these are the reference points of the philosopher. Understanding experience, exploring ideas through particular instantiations, novel and innovative thinking: these are the reference points of the artist. However, at certain points in the proceedings of our Symposium titled, Next to Nothing: Art as Performance, this characterisation of philosopher and artist respectively might have been construed the other way around. The commentator/philosophers referenced their philosophical interests through the particular examples/instantiations created by the (...) artist and in virtue of which they were then able to engage with novel and innovative thinking. From the artists’ presentations, on the other hand, emerged a series of contrasts within which philosophical and artistic ideas resonated. This interface of philosopher-artist bore witness to the fact that just as art approaches philosophy in providing its own analysis, philosophy approaches art in being a co-creator of art’s meaning. In what follows, we discuss the conception of philosophy-art that emerged from the Symposium, and the methodological minimalism which we employed in order to achieve it. We conclude by drawing out an implication of the Symposium’s achievement which is that a counterpoint to Institutional theories of art may well be the point from which future directions will take hold, if philosophy-art gains traction. (shrink)
McDowell has argued that external world scepticism is a pressing problem only in so far as we accept, on the basis of the argument from illusion, the claim that perceiving that p and hallucinating that p involve a highest common factor.
This paper is a critical discussion of Quine’s naturalist credos: (1) physicalism; (2) there is no first philosophy; (3) philosophy is continuous with science; and (4) the only responsible theory of the world as a whole is scientific theory. The aim is to show that Quine’s formulations admit of two readings: a strong reading (often Quine’s own) which is compatible with reductive forms of naturalism but implausible; and a mild reading which is plausible but suggestive of more liberal forms of (...) naturalism. The paper ends by claiming that naturalism is a normative doctrine that is inconsistent by its own lights. (shrink)
There has always existed in the world, and there will always continue to exist, some kind of metaphysics, and with it the dialectic that is natural to pure reason. It is therefore the first and most important task of philosophy to deprive metaphysics, once and for all, of its injurious influence, by attacking its errors at their source. - Kant CPR:B xxxi..
Despite its oft-noted ambiguities, critical reception of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner ; Director's Cut ; Final Cut ) has tended to converge upon seeing it as a futuristic sci-fi film noir whose central concern is what it means to be human, a question that is fraught given the increasingly human-like replicants designed and manufactured by the Tyrell Corporation for human use on off-world colonies. Within the terms of this way of seeing things a great deal of discussion has been devoted (...) to putative criteria of being human and the question whether the once-retired blade runner, Rick Deckard, is or is not a replicant. I aim to explore a radically different course of interpretation, which sees the film in fundamentally moral and religious terms. Put in the starkest light, the film is not about what makes us human but whether we can be saved from ourselves, from our terrifying inhumanity, our moral blindness. (shrink)
Wittgenstein has been likened to a Pyrrhonian sceptic, one who employs dialectical skills to avoid rather than defend doctrine, but it is his role in exposing and excavating the sands upon which modern scepticisms have been built that is the subject of this new volume of largely original essays. The first three chapters, by Crispin Wright, Akeel Bilgrami and Michael Williams find inspiration in On Certainty for singling out key moves in the initial set-up of external world scepticism; the next (...) four chapters, by James Conant, Denis McManus, Ilham Dilman and Jane Heal involve discussions of external world (Cartesian) scepticism, semantic (Kantian) scepticism, scepticism about language (linguistic idealism) and the factuality of the mental that are either commentaries on, or discussions inspired by, Wittgenstein’s writings. The last five chapters focus on Stanley Cavell’s important and under-appreciated work on other minds scepticism—a form of scepticism that, on Cavell’s reading, is never far from the surface of Philosophical Investigations. Responses to modern scepticisms can be broadly divided into two categories: (1) Problem- Accepting Responses: those that regard the sceptical problem as legitimate and seek an answer that takes the form of an appropriate justification for (what the sceptic characterizes as) our ordinary knowledge or beliefs; and (2) Problem-Rejecting Reponses: those that regard the sceptical ‘problem’ as illegitimate (and so, not requiring an answer) because of hidden and contestable theoretical commitments or because it subtly transgresses conditions of sensemaking. This is a volume devoted entirely to the second of these categories, responses that are directed to, as McManus puts it, “a layer in which our philosophical questions are constituted”(p. (shrink)
Reviewing the state of play in the attempt to naturalise content a quarter of a century after John Haugeland’s survey paper “The Intentionality All-Stars”, Dan Hutto and Glenda Satne propose a new naturalistic account of content that supposedly synthesizes what is best in the three failed programs of neo-Cartesianism, neo-Behaviourism and neo-Pragmatism. They propose to appeal to a Relaxed Naturalism, a non-reductive genealogical form of explanation and a primitive notion of contentless ur-intentionality. In this paper I argue that the authors’ (...) Relaxed Naturalism is a broad form of Scientific Naturalism and, as such, it is unable to account for the problem of conceptual normativity that arises for any scientific naturalist attempt to explain content – whether reductive or not. This is based on the irreconcilability of the objective third-personal character of scientific inquiry and the intersubjective second-personal nature of the normativity of content. I suggest that the authors would do better to simply become neo-Pragmatists who, properly understood, are Liberal Naturalists who have the conceptual and methodological resources to acknowledge and do justice to conceptually normative content. (shrink)
Modern skepticism can be usefully divided into two camps: the Cartesian and the Humean.1 Cartesian skepticism is a matter of a theoretical doubt that has little or no practical import in our everyday lives. Its employment concerns whether or not we can achieve a special kind of certain knowledge – something Descartes calls “scientia” 2—that is far removed from our everyday aims or standards of epistemic appraisal. Alternatively, Humean skepticism engages the ancient skeptical concern with whether we have good reason, (...) or any reason at all, for our beliefs, including the common or garden beliefs that are presupposed in our ordinary practical affairs. On this traditional conception, philosophical doubt is a projection of everyday doubt and the lessons of the study are potentially lessons for the street. In this paper I shall focus on the Humean strain of skepticism whose focus concerns whether we have adequate reasons for our beliefs. Henceforth when I speak of skepticism it is this variety of skepticism that I am primarily referring to.3 I want to relate skepticism, so understood, to two kinds of self-knowledge. I shall argue that the failure of past solutions and dissolutions of skepticism to provide a satisfying response to the skeptic can be accounted for in terms of two stances that we can take towards our own.. (shrink)
In Renewing Philosophy (1992), having surveyed a number of metaphysical programs in contemporary analytic philosophy, including Bernard Williams’ appeal to an absolute conception of the world, Ruth Millikan’s attempt to reduce intentionality to biological function, and Nelson Goodman’s irrealism, Putnam concludes as follows: I have argued that the decision of a large part of contemporary analytic philosophy to become a form of metaphysics is a mistake. Indeed, contemporary analytic metaphysics is in many ways a parody of the great metaphysics of (...) the past. As Dewey pointed out, the metaphysics of previous epochs had a vital connection to the culture of those epochs, which is why it was able to change the lives of men and women, and not always for the worse. Contemporary analytic metaphysics has no connection with anything but the “intuitions” of a handful of philosophers. It lacks what Wittgenstein called “weight”. (Putnam 1992, p. 197) If contemporary analytic metaphysics is a mistake then is the point that we should try to revive traditional metaphysical programs? Or should we perhaps renovate metaphysics so that it will, once again, have “a vital connection” to culture? Or, more radically, is the renewal of philosophy that Putnam calls for a vision of a non-metaphysical form of philosophising – what we might call philosophising without philosophical “musts”? That would certainly fit with the invocation of Wittgenstein and Dewey1 whose therapeutic aims seem to stand in stark contrast to the program of constructive metaphysics. And it is undeniable that at least part of Putnam’s vision of what philosophy ought to be involves resisting the revisionist tendencies of substantial metaphysical programs in order to do justice to our everyday life-world. Philosophy, unlike contemporary analytic metaphysics, ought never to lose contact with the question of how we ought to live or with forms of thought that have ‘weight’ in our lives. The question I want to address in this paper is whether this vision spells the end of metaphysics as such or only of a particular kind of metaphysics of which the analytic version is an example? What is the fate of metaphysics on Putnam’s conception? Various features of his position might suggest an end of metaphysics reading in something like the spirit of logical positivism.. (shrink)
If Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato, then aesthetics is a series of footnotes to Kant. This is as true of the analytic tradition as of the Continental. But there has been an important change of emphasis in the object of inquiry of analytic aesthetics, which predominantly concerns theorising about the experience and criticism of works of art. Kant’s idea of aesthetics as primarily concerned with beauty, or heightened or intensified perceptual experiences of natural phenomena, has largely (...) been eclipsed (but not entirely: e.g., Mothersill 1984). Analytic aesthetics, once considered the neglected step-child of analytic philosophy, is beginning to gain confidence as a significant area of study with much to tell us about human experience, art, taste, expression, representation, interpretation, intention, imagination and reason. In the 1950s analytic philosophers complained of the barrenness of aesthetics, but today as analytic philosophy enters an intense period of self-searching and reassessment, it is to aesthetics that one might profitably turn to gain a better understanding of the complex Kantian origins of the discipline. The most significant Kantian legacy in the aesthetic domain has been the idea of the autonomy of the work of art and our experience of it from other theoretical, practical and sensory aspects of human life. To approach the topic of analytic aesthetics let us first ask, ‘What is analytic philosophy?’, before turning to the analytic approach to aesthetics, and the contribution of its Australasian practitioners. It is familiar that there is no dominant paradigm or practice of analysis engaged in by those who regard themselves as analytic philosophers. Analytic philosophy is closely aligned with the development and application of modern symbolic logic and with the attempt to adopt the methods of the natural sciences or to give them a certain metaphysical priority – which goes some way to explaining the lowly status aesthetics has been accorded in Anglo-American circles of philosophy for most of the twentieth century.. (shrink)
As a worldview, naturalism depends on a set of cognitive commitments from which ﬂow certain propositions about reality and human nature. These propositions in turn might have implications for how we live, for social policy, and for human ﬂourishing. But the presuppositions, basis, and implications of naturalism are not uncontested, and indeed there’s considerable debate about them among naturalists themselves.
The present paper challenges the narrow scientistic conception of Nature that underlies current projects of naturalization involving, say, evaluative or intentional discourse. It is more plausible to hold that science provides only a partial characterization of the natural world. I consider McDowell's articulation of a more liberal naturalism, one which recognizes autonomous normative facts about reasons, meanings and values, as genuine constituents of Nature on a more liberal conception of it. Several critics have claimed that this account is vitiated by (...) the threat of supernaturalism. Responsiveness to normative facts is, I argue, a phenomenological datum that we have good reason to take at face value. I trace the source of the supernaturalist objection to a misreading of McDowell's perceptual analogy with respect to value and a related failing to clearly distinguish physical and logical notions of an object. (shrink)
In his Dewey Lectures,1 Hilary Putnam argues that contemporary philosophy cannot solve nor see its way past the traditional problem of how language or thought hooks on to ‘external’ or mind-independent reality. This ‘antinomy of realism’ is generated, ultimately, by a broadly Cartesian picture of perception according to which, despite renouncing substance dualism for materialist monism, sense experience continues to be understood in terms of an interface between mind and world. At the interface there is supposed to be a ‘direct’ (...) awareness of mental representations that bear only a causal, not a cognitive, relation to the external world. In response, philosophy oscillates interminably back and forth between the equally unsatisfactory metaphysical options of realism and antirealism. Putnam urges that instead of thinking that we must choose one or other side of this philosophical debate, it is possible to step back and see that the whole problematic rests on a questionable presupposition about the nature of our cognitive relation to reality. We can see our way past this dilemma by coming to appreciate that ‘our cognitive powers . . . reach all the way to the objects themselves’ (1999, 10) both in perception and conception. A position Putnam refers to as ‘common sense realism’ (44) promises to provide a way of exorcising a false and widely popular picture of the mind, something that does not so much solve the traditional problems concerning realism as dissolve them. The present paper will concentrate on the perceptual aspect of this new form of realism which Putnam also calls, following William James, ‘the natural realism of the common man’ (15). This is a version of a ‘direct realist’ account of perception that is supposed to do justice to the cognitive or reason-giving character of experience and to echo the various efforts of Aristotle, James, Austin and Wittgenstein in their defence of the common-sense world against metaphysical mystery-mongering.. (shrink)
In Stanley Cavell’s ethical universe, no concept is of more moment than that of acknowledgement. In Cavell’s view, the question of acknowledgement is not a matter of choice but is at issue whenever we confront, or are confronted by, others. To acknowledge is to admit or confess or reveal to someone, typically another, those things about oneself and one’s relations to the world and others that one, being human, cannot fail to know – except that “nothing is more human than (...) to deny them”. The question of whether I acknowledge others and whether others acknowledge me and the character, depth or failures of our reciprocal acknowledgement, are central to Cavell’s articulation and exploration of the ethical... (shrink)
This paper offers a reading of The Awful Truth in order to meditate further on Stanley Cavell's articulation of the themes of the ordinary and perfectionist marriage as exemplified in the genre of films he calls the Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage in Cavell and . I explore different ways in which this film and the medium of film generally are capable of making the unseen visible: revealing the ordinary that is hidden behind its very familiarity; making available an awareness that (...) we are unseen by the projected reality of film; and, in this film in particular, showing that this divorcing couple - whose marriage and sexual life are essentially off-screen - are as if married all along even while they pursue other love interests. (shrink)
In the present paper I shall argue that the real problem here is the very idea that there is a dilemma that compels us to choose sides. We can hold both that the meditator's doubts are fully serious, and that they leave the perspective of common sense largely unscathed. The key to dissolving the dilemma is to see that the meditator observes a distinction between two levels of epistemic standards: the very demanding standards appropriate to certainty, understood in a rather (...) technical sense of that term; and the commonplace standards appropriate to reasonable belief. The significance of this levels distinction has not been widely appreciated but it has important consequences both for how we are to understand the skepticism about the senses that is at issue and for appreciating the extent to which Descartes acknowledges and retains our natural trust in the senses. I aim to show that the meditator’s skepticIsm about the senses specifically concerns the possibility of sensory certainties, and is quite serious. It is intended to lead one to a stable change of mind about what is most certain. But a skepticIsm about sense-based certainty leaves the matter of whether experience provides a reliable basis for belief untouched by reasonable doubt. Since the meditator's doubts presuppose very demanding standards they have no bearing on our assessments from within the common sense perspective. I defend this view by arguing that the methodological 'withdrawal of assent' from perceptual beliefs is a mere pretense that is compatible with continued endorsement. Despite the seriousness with which the method of doubt is pursued, there is an important sense in which the meditator never doubts the basic deliverances of his senses. This helps explain the practical insulation of perceptual beliefs from skepticism. With one minor qualification, the meditator retains his natural trust in the senses throughout - although Descartes’ rhetoric sometimes suggests otherwise. Note that I shall be exploring the skepticism about the senses as we find it in the First Meditation. This paper does not purport to discuss all of the skeptical doubts of the First Meditation, e.g., skepticism about mathematical truths, God's existence and reason. Instead I shall focus solely upon the ways in which the meditator's doubts bear on his perceptual beliefs. The rationale for this restriction is twofold: 1) in the first place Descartes describes the general aim of the skeptical doubts of the First Meditation m terms of 'freeing us from our preconceived opinions, and providing the easiest route by which the mind may be led away from the senses’. I am specifically concerned to qualify this ambition and argue that Descartes retains throughout his preconceived trust in the reliability of the senses; and 2) the Meditations has long been thought to provide the grounds for a radical form of external world skepticism which not only denies us knowledge of, but also any reason to believe in, the existence of an external world. My discussion of Descartes' perceptual doubts is intended to show just how distant any such skepticism is from Descartes' own thoughts and intentions. (shrink)
In contrast to the recent trend of taking external world skepticism as a narrow problem for a demanding conception of "objective" or "certain" knowledge about the world, my thesis offers a re-examination of the distinctively perceptual basis of the skeptical problem. On my view the skeptic challenges the very possibility of rationally justifying beliefs in so far as they are based on sense experience, a characterization that helps to explain the continuity into the modern period of the ancient skeptical challenge (...) to the pretensions of reason. What is newly radical in external world skepticism is the discovery of the inner realm of the mind, and hence, of inner states as a component of every sense experience. ;I argue that the skeptic relies upon a distinctive, intuitively compelling, conception of sense experience which I call the causal model of experience. This is the view that experience is constituted by self-standing subjective experiences and their external causes, where cause and effect are logically distinct existences. The causal model is not to be identified with a view of perception as epistemically mediated by a "veil of ideas", though it can lead one to embrace that doctrine. My aim is twofold: to understand the motivation for the skeptic's causal model of experience; and to show that, when thought through, this model can ultimately be shown to be incoherent. ;The causal model has its roots in 17th century scientific metaphysics and the idea that the world can be exhaustively explained in terms of mechanical interactions between primary-qualified corpuscles governed by mathematically describable laws. I argue that the perceptual relation is not a mere efficient causal relation and I show that the skeptic is in the incoherent position of wanting a "private" language to describe his subjective experiences despite insisting on conditions of autonomy that deprive his terms of the normativity that is a necessary condition of meaning. Thus I do not answer the skeptical problem so much as undercut the basis upon which it is posed in the first place. (shrink)