There has recently been a flurry of activity in the philosophy of language on how to best account for the unique features of epithets. One of these features is that epithets can be appropriated (that is, the offense-grounding potential of a term can be removed). We argue that attempts to appropriate an epithet fundamentally involve a violation of language-governing rules. We suggest that the other conditions that make something an attempt at appropriation are the same conditions that characterize acts of (...) civil disobedience. Accounting for attempts at appropriation is thus both a linguistic and socio-political endeavor. We demonstrate how these two facets of attempts at appropriation also help us understand the communicative features of civil disobedience. (shrink)
The theme of this year’s Spindel Conference was Social Ontologies of Race. This editorial introduction serves as both a general introduction to the topic of racial ontology and an introduction to this volume’s contributions. I will first explain some central ideas for discussions of ontology in general. I will then make some basic taxonomic distinctions common to discussions of racial ontology and suggest some clarifications. I will then go on to discuss the five contributions to this volume.
I argue that standard explanations of Du Bois' theory of race inappropriately characterize his view as attempting to provide descriptive criteria for races. Such an interpretation makes it both susceptible to Appiah's circularity objection and alienates it from Du Bois' central project of solidarity—which is the central point of “Conservation.” I propose that we should understand his theory as providing a normative account of race: an attempt to characterize what some races should be in terms of what other races are. (...) In providing such an account I will also show how my interpretation of Du Bois' criteria avoids the circularity objection by making the criteria central to the project of solidarity. Thus, this interpretation avoids what I take to be the two main problems with standard descriptive explanations of Du Bois' criteria. (shrink)
While many animals — pigeons, for example — have analogue magnitude states , it has recently been argued that certain discriminatory tasks provide evidence for the claim that these states are non-conceptual . These states are taken to be nonconceptual in that they cannot meet a test for concept possession such as Evans’s Generality Constraint. I argue that while such animals probably do not have numerical concepts, the evidence suggests that they could have numerical-ish concepts. On what I call ‘the (...) diffuse’ account of numerical-ish concepts, animals could have analogue magnitude states which represent amount and these states could meet the Generality Constraint . This account also avoids the problems faced by a ‘centred’ account of numerical-ish concepts which cannot meet the Generality Constraint. (shrink)
There has recently been emphasis put on providing two-factor accounts of monothematic delusions. Such accounts would explain (1) whether a delusional hypothesis (e.g. someone else is inserting thoughts into my mind) can be understood as a prima facie reasonable response to an experience and (2) why such a delusional hypothesis is believed and maintained given its implausibility and evidence against it. I argue that if we are to avoid obfuscating the cognitive mechanisms involved in monothematic delusion formation we should split (...) the first factor (1 above) into two factors: how abnormal experience can give rise to a delusional ‘proto-hypothesis’ and how a ‘proto-hypothesis’ in consort with normal experiences and background information, can be developed into a delusional hypothesis. In particular I will argue that a schizophrenic is faced with the unusual requirement of having to identify an introspectively accessible thought as one's own, and that this requirement of identification is the central experiential abnormality of thought insertion, auditory verbal hallucination, and alien control (i.e. passivity symptoms). Additionally, I will consider non-experiential factors which are required for the formation of a delusional hypothesis. (shrink)
Work on the conceptual amelioration of race concepts is usually negative or critical: it uncovers social features that contribute to racial hierarchies. Much less focus has been placed on how ameliorative accounts contribute to positive change. Using an account of race developed by Steve Biko during South African apartheid, I will argue that we can extract a novel account of positive amelioration in which racial categories can have normative or aspirational force, contributing to positive change.
The paper engages Christopher Boorse’s Bio-Statistical Theory. In its current form, BST runs into a significant challenge. For BST to account for its central tenet—that lower-level part-dysfunction is sufficient for higher-level pathology—it must provide criteria for how to decide which lower-level parts are the ones to be analyzed for health or pathology. As BST is a naturalistic theory, such choices must be based solely on naturalistic considerations. An argument is provided to show that, if BST is to be preserved, such (...) parthood choices are based on non-naturalistic considerations. We demonstrate that even when parthood choices are based on the best way to preserve BST, there are counterintuitive results which bring the central tenet of BST into question. (shrink)
Several philosophers have recently advanced the claim that the content of mental states has its own non-imagistic phenomenology. I show that if defenders of cognitive phenomenology are to account for the conscious experience of thoughts, they must actually commit themselves to two different kinds of cognitive phenomenology, which I refer to as ‘general’ and ‘specific.’ Once this distinction is made, we can see how arguments from experience for cognitive phenomenology depend on an ambiguity in ‘what it is like’ talk for (...) their success. Disambiguating this kind of talk into talk of either general or specific phenomenology shows that these arguments are either valid – but assume what they are trying to prove – or are not valid. (shrink)
David Rosenthal and Josh Weisberg have recently provided a counter argument to Ned Block’s argument that a Higher Order Thought theory of consciousness cannot accommodate the existence of hallucinatory conscious states . Their counter argument invokes the idea of mental appearances: a non-existent intentional object which is to aid in an account of subjective conscious awareness. I argue that if mental appearances are to do the work they are supposed to, we cannot draw a mental appearance/reality distinction. I provide an (...) alternative story that a HOT theorist can invoke to account for cases of conscious misrepresentation. Such a story will require denying the existence of hallucinatory conscious states while still accounting for conscious misrepresentation. This is a cost I believe the HOT theorist should be willing to pay. (shrink)
David Rosenthal and Josh Weisberg have recently provided a counter argument to Ned Block’s argument that a Higher Order Thought (HOT) theory of consciousness cannot accommodate the existence of hallucinatory conscious states (i.e. a conscious episode consisting of a HOT without the presence of a relevant lower order thought). Their counter argument invokes the idea of mental appearances: a non-existent intentional object which is to aid in an account of subjective conscious awareness. I argue that if mental appearances are to (...) do the work they are supposed to, we cannot draw a mental appearance/reality distinction. I provide an alternative story that a HOT theorist can invoke to account for cases of conscious misrepresentation. Such a story will require denying the existence of hallucinatory conscious states while still accounting for conscious misrepresentation. This is a cost I believe the HOT theorist should be willing to pay. (shrink)