In this paper we advance a new solution to Quinn’s puzzle of the self-torturer. The solution falls directly out of an application of the principle of instrumental reasoning to what we call “vague projects”, i.e., projects whose completion does not occur at any particular or definite point or moment. The resulting treatment of the puzzle extends our understanding of instrumental rationality to projects and ends that cannot be accommodated by orthodox theories of rational choice.
It is widely supposed that one family of sorites paradoxes, perhaps the most perplexing versions of the puzzle, owe at least in part to the nontransitivity of perceptual indiscriminability. To a first approximation, perceptual indiscriminability is the relationship obtaining among objects (stimuli) that appear identical in some perceptual respect—for example hue, or pitch, or texture. Indiscriminable objects look the same, or sound the same, or feel the same. Received wisdom has it that there are or could be series of objects (...) _o_1…_o_n in which _o_1 and _o_2 are indiscriminable, _o_2 and _o_3 are indiscriminable, etc., and _o_n-1 and_ o_n are indiscriminable, but _o_1 and _o_n are discriminably different. For example, there could be a series of colored patches so ordered that each patch looks the same in hue as its immediate neighbors but the whole progresses from a clear case of red to a clear case of orange. On the assumption that an observational word like ‘red’ applies to both if to either of a pair of perceptually indiscriminable items, the absurd conclusion of the sorites comes into view. Crispin Wright explains. (shrink)
This paper develops the treatment of vague predicates begun in my "Vagueness Without Paradox" (Philosophical Review 103, 1 ). In particular, I show how my account of vague words dissolves an "eternal" version of the sorites paradox, i.e., a version in which the paradox is generated independently of any particular run of judgments of the items in a sorites series. In so doing I refine the notion of an internal contest, introduced in the earlier paper, and draw a distinction within (...) the class of internal contexts between contexts of judgment and contexts of consideration. (shrink)
accounts in general, contrary to what he seems to think. Stanley’s discussion concerns the dynamic or ‘forced march’ version of the sorites, viz. the version framed in terms of the judgments that would be made by a competent speaker who proceeds step by step along a sorites series for a vague predicate ‘F’. According to Stanley, the contextualist treatment of the paradox is based on the idea that the speaker shifts the content of the predicate whenever necessary to make it (...) the case that each successive pair of adjacent items are category-identical – in other words, either both items satisfy ‘F’ or neither does. These adjustments allow the speaker to progress from a clear case for ‘F’ to a clear case for ‘not-F’ without breaking the seeming continuity of the series. (shrink)
It is generally agreed that vague predicates like ‘red’, ‘rich’, ‘tall’, and ‘bald’, have borderline cases of application. For instance, a cloth patch whose color lies midway between a definite red and a definite orange is a borderline case for ‘red’, and an American man five feet eleven inches in height is (arguably) a borderline case for ‘tall’. The proper analysis of borderline cases is a matter of dispute, but most theorists of vagueness agree at least in the thought that (...) borderline cases for vague predicate ‘ ’ are items whose satisfaction of ‘ ’ is in some sense unclear or problematic: it is unclear whether or not the patch is red, unclear whether or not the man is tall.1 For example, Lynda Burns cites a widespread view as holding that borderline cases “are not definitely within the positive or negative extension of the predicate. … Border- line cases are seen as falling within a gap between the cases of definite application of the predicate and cases of definite application of its negation” (1995, 30). Michael Tye writes that the “concept of a border- line case is the concept of a case that is neither definitely in nor defi- nitely out” (1994b, 18). (shrink)
In Unruly Words, Diana Raffman advances a new theory of vagueness which, unlike previous accounts, is genuinely semantic while preserving bivalence. According to this new approach, called the multiple range theory, vagueness consists essentially in a term's being applicable in multiple arbitrarily different, but equally competent, ways, even when contextual factors are fixed.
In their paper “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” , George Graham and Terence Horgan argue, contrary to a widespread view, that the socalled Knowledge Argument may after all pose a problem for certain materialist accounts of perceptual experience. I propose a reply to Graham and Horgan on the materialist’s behalf, making use of a distinction between knowing what it’s like to see something F and knowing how F things look.
Of the many families of words that are thought to be vague, so-called observational predicates may be both the most fascinating and the most confounding. Roughly, observational predicates are terms that apply to objects on the basis of how those objects appear to us perceptually speaking. ‘Red’, ‘loud’, ‘sweet’, ‘acrid’, and ‘smooth’ are good examples. Delia Graff explains that a “predicate is observational just in case its applicability to an object (given a fixed context of evaluation) depends only on the (...) way that object appears” (2001, 3). By the same token observational predicates are, as Crispin Wright observes, terms “whose senses are taught entirely by ostension” (1976). Like other vague predicates, observational words appear to generate sorites paradoxes. Consider for example a series of 20 colored patches progressing from a clearly red one to a clearly orange one, so ordered that each patch is just noticeably different in hue from the one before. The following argument then seems forced upon us: (1) Patch #1 is red. (2) Any patch that differs only slightly in hue from a red patch is itself red. (3) Therefore patch #20 is red. Premise (2) expresses what Wright has called the tolerance of ‘red’: the application of the predicate tolerates small changes in a decisive parameter (here, hue). Of course, most vague predicates, hence most versions of the sorites, are not observational. For instance, given a series of. (shrink)
Higher-order vagueness is widely thought to be a feature of vague predicates that any adequate theory of vagueness must accommodate. It takes a variety of forms. Perhaps the most familiar is the supposed existence, or at least possibility, of higher-order borderline cases—borderline borderline cases, borderline borderline borderline cases, and so forth. A second form of higherorder vagueness, what I will call ‘prescriptive’ higher-order vagueness, is thought to characterize complex predicates constructed from vague predicates by attaching operators having to do with (...) the predicates’ proper application. For example, the predicates ‘mandates application of “old”’ and ‘can competently be called “old”’ are prescriptively higher-order vague. Higher-order vagueness appears in other guises as well,1 but these two have been of particular interest to philosophers and will be my target here. I want to expose some misconceptions about them. If I am right, higher-order vagueness is less prevalent, and less important theoretically, than is usually supposed.2 In what follows I am going to assume that vagueness is a semantic feature of natural language. For the most part I won’t discuss epistemic or pragmatic views, and I will say nothing about so-called metaphysical vagueness. (shrink)
Representationalist solutions to the qualia problem are motivated by two fundamental ideas: first, that having an experience consists in tokening a mental representation1; second, that all one is aware of in having an experience is the intentional content of that representation. In particular, one is not aware of any intrinsic features of the representational vehicle itself. For example, when you visually experience a red object, you are aware only of the redness of the object, not any redness or red quale (...) of your experience. You are aware of outer red without being aware of inner red. According to the representationalist, the phenomenal character of your experience is just (an element of) the intentional content of your representation. In effect, inner red just is outer red. For her part, the defender of qualia, or anyway the defender of qualia who will figure in the present discussion, grants that experiencing a red object involves mentally representing it, and that when you have such an experience you are aware of its intentional content. But she denies that that intentional content exhausts your awareness. The defender of qualia (call her ‘Quale’) contends that your mental vehicle is itself mentally or phenomenally red, and that in addition to the outer redness of the object, you are aware of this inner redness, the intrinsic phenomenal character of your representational vehicle. Thus, contra the representationalist (call him ‘Rep’), you are not aware of the content of your representation without being aware of its intrinsic features. (shrink)
Worries about the artistic integrity (for lack of a better term) of twelve-tone music are not new. Critics, philosophers, musicians, even composers them- selves have assailed the idiom with a fervor usually reserved for individual artists or works. Just why it is supposed to be defective is not entirely clear, however. I want to revisit these questions by way of putting some insights from music history and theory together with some insights from the philosophy and psychology of music. To ﬁnd (...) out whether twelve-tone composition is defective we will need to reﬂect carefully upon our concepts of music and art in general, so if all goes well our conclusions should have some broader import. Because I will be pulling together considerations from several domains, I will need to lay a fair amount of groundwork at the beginning; but once that is done, we will have a vantage on the present issues that would not otherwise be open to us. (shrink)
David Papineau’s Thinking About Consciousness tells a skillful, inventive, and plausible story about why, given that the phenomenal character of conscious experience is an unproblematically physical property, we continue to suffer from “intuitions of dualism”. According to Papineau, we are misled by the peculiar structure of the phenomenal concepts we use to introspect upon that phenomenal character. Roughly: unlike physical concepts, phenomenal concepts exemplify the kind of experience they are concepts of; and this creates the mistaken impression that the physical (...) concepts leave something out. I find much of Papineau’s account congenial, though I have some questions about his characterization of phenomenal concepts. I will take up two of these questions here. On Papineau’s view, phenomenal concepts are mental terms that are formed by concatenating an experience operator, namely ‘the experience: —’, together with “an actual state of… perceptual classification” (115). The latter state, itself an experience, fills the blank in the experience operator; and the concept thus formed refers to the type of experience whose instances are relevantly similar to that perceptual filling.1 Papineau writes. (shrink)
Philosophers of music (and also music theorists) have recognized for a long time that research in the sciences, especially psychology, might have import for their own work. (Langer 1941 and Meyer 1956 are good examples.) However, while scientists had been interested in music as a subject of research (e.g., Helmholtz 1912, Seashore 1938), the discipline known as psychology of music, or more broadly cognitive science of music, came into its own only around 1980 with the publication of several landmark works. (...) Among the most important of these were The Psychol- ogy of Music (1980), a collection of papers edited by the psychologist Diana Deutsch, and A Generative Theory of Tonal Music (1983) by music theorist and composer Fred Lerdahl and linguist Ray Jackendoff. These works and others made possible the first attempts to apply scientific research to philosophical issues concerning music (e.g., Raffman 1993, DeBellis 1995). Since the 1980’s, of course, a great deal of research has been done in cognitive science, philosophy, and music. For philosophers, there are perhaps three topics with respect to which findings in the cognitive sciences are most likely to be germane—the nature of musical understanding, the role of emotions or feelings in music, and the evaluation of musical works. This brief overview will describe some of the scientific research that has been done on these topics, and then indicate how it might be philosophically significant. (shrink)
Modality, morality and belief are among the most controversial topics in philosophy today, and few philosophers have shaped these debates as deeply as Ruth Barcan Marcus. Inspired by her work, a distinguished group of philosophers explore these issues, refine and sharpen arguments and develop new positions on such topics as possible worlds, moral dilemmas, essentialism, and the explanation of actions by beliefs. This 'state of the art' collection honours one of the most rigorous and iconoclastic of philosophical pioneers.
The thesis develops a cognitivist account of the supposed ineffability of musical experience. It is contended that, when the ineffability is viewed as adhering to a certain kind of perceptual knowledge of a musical signal, its nature can be illuminated by the adoption of a recent cognitivist theory of perception in conjunction with a generative grammar for tonal music . On this two-headed view, music perception consists in a rule-governed process of computing a series of increasingly abstract mental representations of (...) a musical signal. In this framework the investigation of musical ineffability is recast as the search for a level of mental representation of whose content we are conscious but cannot make verbal report. Two types of report are distinguished--one consisting in so-called absolute identification, the other in comparative identification or discrimination. It turns out that certain features of the signal are likely to be computed at such superficial or "shallow" neuronal levels that they fail to be mentally categorized in the manner thought necessary for the learning of verbal labels and ipso facto for report of the first kind. Therein, on the present account, lies their ineffability, called 'perceptual ineffability'. These shallow features do, however, admit of comparative identification and ipso facto of the second kind of report. Hence a principal task of the thesis is to show how a kind of ineffability and a kind of report are compatible. ;The account of perceptual ineffability is then set against two well-known texts in contemporary philosophy of art in order to show that it squares with more standard approaches and makes good on its explanatory promises. It is hoped that, over and above its proposed solution to a longstanding problem in aesthetics, the present study may shed some light on the relationship between philosophical and scientific theorizing. (shrink)
Modality, morality and belief are among the most controversial topics in philosophy and few philosophers have shaped these debates as deeply as Ruth Barcan Marcus. Inspired by her work, a distinguished group of philosophers explore these issues, refine and sharpen arguments and develop fresh positions on such topics as possible worlds, moral dilemmas, essentialism and the explanation of actions by beliefs. This collection honours one of the most rigourous and iconoclastic of philosophical pioneers.