Bertrand Russell was neither the first nor the last philosopher to engage in serious theorizing about propositions. But his work between 1903, when he published The Principles of Mathematics, and 1919, when his final lectures on logical atomism were published, remains among the most important on the subject. And its importance is not merely historical. Russell’s rapidly evolving treatment of propositions during this period was driven by his engagement with – and discovery of – puzzles that either continue to shape (...) contemporary theorizing about propositions, or ought to do so. Russell’s creative responses to these puzzles also laid the foundation for many later accounts (most obviously, contemporary ‘Russellian’ accounts of propositions). In this entry we provide an opinionated overview of Russell’s influential treatment of propositions, with a focus on the evolution of his views from 1903 to 1919. A growing secondary literature is dedicated to Russell’s changing views during this period, and their often complex or opaque motivations. We do not intervene overmuch in this ongoing scholarly discussion. Instead, our aim is to trace some of the central motivations for Russell’s evolving views, and highlight the extent to which these motivations remain relevant to contemporary theorizing about propositions. (shrink)
Perception of a property (e.g. a colour, a shape, a size) can enable thought about the property, while at the same time misleading the subject as to what the property is like. This long-overlooked claim parallels a more familiar observation concerning perception-based thought about objects, namely that perception can enable a subject to think about an object while at the same time misleading her as to what the object is like. I defend the overlooked claim, and then use it to (...) generate a challenge for a standard way of thinking about the relationship between visual experience and rational belief formation. Put informally, that view holds that just as we can mislead others by saying something false, illusory experience misleads by misrepresenting how things stand in the world. I argue that we ought to abandon this view in favour of some radical alternative account of the relationship between visual experience and rational belief formation. (shrink)
Pautz has argued that the most prominent naive realist account of hallucination—negative epistemic disjunctivism—cannot explain how hallucinations enable us to form beliefs about perceptually presented properties. He takes this as grounds to reject both negative epistemic disjunctivism and naive realism. Our aims are two: First, to show that this objection is dialectically ineffective against naive realism, and second, to draw morals from the failure of this objection for the dispute over the nature of perceptual experience at large.
Our awareness of the boundedness of the spatial sensory field—a paradigmatic structural feature of visual experience—possesses a distinctive epistemic role. Properly understood, this result undermines a widely assumed picture of how visual experience permits us to learn about the world. This paper defends an alternative picture in which visual experience provides at least two kinds of non-inferential justification for beliefs about the external world. Accommodating this justification in turn requires recognising a new way for visual experience to encode information about (...) the world. Reflection upon the epistemic contribution of sensory experience's structural features thus forces us to revise our understanding of how perception, cognition, and the world fit together. (shrink)
This paper defends a version of the old empiricist claim that to think about unobservable physical properties a subject must be able to think perception-based thoughts about observable properties. The central argument builds upon foundations laid down by G. E. M. Anscombe and P. F. Strawson. It bridges the gap separating these foundations and the target claim by exploiting a neglected connection between thought about properties and our grasp of causation. This way of bridging the gap promises to introduce substantive (...) constraints on right accounts of perception and perception-based thought. (shrink)