Compiled by a leading scholar of Chinese poetry, _Clouds Thick, Whereabouts Unknown_ is the first collection of Chan poems to be situated within Chan thought and practice. Combined with exquisite paintings by Charles Chu, the anthology compellingly captures the ideological and literary nuances of works that were composed, paradoxically, to "say more by saying less," and creates an unparalleled experience for readers of all backgrounds. _Clouds Thick, Whereabouts Unknown_ includes verse composed by monk-poets of the eighth to the seventeenth centuries. (...) Their style ranges from the direct vernacular to the evocative and imagistic. Egan's faithful and elegant translations of poems by Han Shan, Guanxiu, and Qiji, among many others, do justice to their perceptions and insights, and his detailed notes and analyses unravel centuries of Chan metaphor and allusion. In these gems, monk-poets join mainstream ideas on poetic function to religious reflection and proselytizing, carving out a distinct genre that came to influence generations of poets, critics, and writers. The simplicity of Chan poetry belies its complex ideology and sophisticated language, elements Egan vividly explicates in his religious and literary critique. His interpretive strategies enable a richer understanding of Mahayana Buddhism, Chan philosophy, and the principles of Chinese poetry. (shrink)
David Egan offers an original comparative study of Wittgenstein and Heidegger, identifying a similar concern with authenticity in their work. By examining their divergent ideas on how to exist and philosophize authentically, Egan demonstrates Wittgenstein and Heidegger's continued relevance to contemporary thought in a novel way.
I think that there are good reasons to adopt a relativist semantics for epistemic modal claims such as ``the treasure might be under the palm tree'', according to which such utterances determine a truth value relative to something finer-grained than just a world (or a <world, time> pair). Anyone who is inclined to relativise truth to more than just worlds and times faces a problem about assertion. It's easy to be puzzled about just what purpose would be served by assertions (...) of this kind, and how to understand what we'd be up to in our use of sentences like ``the treasure might be under the palm tree'', if they have such peculiar truth conditions. After providing a very quick argument to motivate a relativist view of epistemic modals, I bring out and attempt to resolve this problem in making sense of the role of assertions with relativist truth conditions. Solving this problem should be helpful in two ways: first, it eliminates an apparently forceful objection to relativism, and second, spelling out the relativist account of assertion and communication will help to make clear just what the relativist position is, exactly, and why it's interesting. (shrink)
Introduction: representationalismMost theorists of cognition endorse some version of representationalism, which I will understand as the view that the human mind is an information-using system, and that human cognitive capacities are representational capacities. Of course, notions such as ‘representation’ and ‘information-using’ are terms of art that require explication. As a first pass, representations are “mediating states of an intelligent system that carry information” (Markman and Dietrich 2001, p. 471). They have two important features: (1) they are physically realized, and so (...) have causal powers; (2) they are intentional, in other words, they have meaning or representational content. This presumes a distinction between a representational vehicle—a physical state or structure that has causal powers and is responsible for producing behavior—and its content. Consider the following characterization of a device that computes the addition functionReaders will recognize the similarity t. (shrink)
A very simple contextualist treatment of a sentence containing an epistemic modal, e.g. a might be F, is that it is true iff for all the contextually salient community knows, a is F. It is widely agreed that the simple theory will not work in some cases, but the counterexamples produced so far seem amenable to a more complicated contextualist theory. We argue, however, that no contextualist theory can capture the evaluations speakers naturally make of sentences containing epistemic modals. If (...) we want to respect these evaluations, our best option is a relativist theory of epistemic modals. On a relativist theory, an utterance of a might be F can be true relative to one context of evaluation and false relative to another. We argue that such a theory does better than any rival approach at capturing all the behaviour of epistemic modals. (shrink)
“There’s no disputing about taste.” That’s got a nice ring to it, but it’s not quite the ring of truth. While there’s definitely something right about the aphorism – there’s a reason why it is, after all, an aphorism, and why its utterance tends to produce so much nodding of heads and muttering of “just so” and “yes, quite” – it’s surprisingly difficult to put one’s finger on just what the truth in the neighborhood is, exactly. One thing that’s pretty (...) clear is that what’s right about the aphorism, that there’s no disputing about taste, isn’t that there’s no disputing about taste. There’s heaps of disputing about taste. People engage in disputes about which movies, music, paintings, literature, meals, furniture, architectural styles, etc. are good, beautiful, tasty, fun, elegant, ugly, disgusting, etc. all the time. This is obvious to anyone who has watched dueling-movie-critics shows, read theater reviews, or negotiated with a group or partner about which movie or restaurant to go to, or which sofa or painting to put in the living room. It takes great care and good aim to fling a brick without hitting somebody who’s engaged in a dispute about taste. (shrink)
Very often, different people, with different constitutions and comic sensibilities, will make divergent, conflicting judgments about the comic properties of a given person, object, or event, on account of those differences in their constitutions and comic sensibilities. And in many such cases, while we are inclined to say that their comic judgments are in conflict, we are not inclined to say that anybody is in error. The comic looks like a poster domain for the phenomenon of faultless disagreement. I argue (...) that the kind of theory that does the best job of accounting for the appearance of faultless disagreement is a de se version of a response-dependence account, according to which thinking that x is funny is self-attributing a property of the type, being disposed to have R to x in C. (shrink)
Nicholas Shea offers Varitel Semantics as a naturalistic account of mental content. I argue that the account secures determinate content only by appeal to pragmatic considerations, and so it fails to respect naturalism. But that is fine, because representational content is not, strictly speaking, necessary for explanation in cognitive science. Even in Shea’s own account, content serves only a variety of heuristic functions.
There is a lot that we don't know. That means that there are a lot of possibilities that are, epistemically speaking, open. For instance, we don't know whether it rained in Seattle yesterday. So, for us at least, there is an epistemic possibility where it rained in Seattle yesterday, and one where it did not. What are these epistemic possibilities? They do not match up with metaphysical possibilities - there are various cases where something is epistemically possible but not metaphysically (...) possible, and vice versa. How do we understand the semantics of statements of epistemic modality? The ten new essays in this volume explore various answers to these questions, including those offered by contextualism, relativism, and expressivism. (shrink)
Many philosophers (myself included) have been converted to causal decision theory by something like the following line of argument: Evidential decision theory endorses irrational courses of action in a range of examples, and endorses “an irrational policy of managing the news”. These are fatal problems for evidential decision theory. Causal decision theory delivers the right results in the troublesome examples, and does not endorse this kind of irrational news-managing. So we should give up evidential decision theory, and be causal decision (...) theorists instead. Unfortunately, causal decision theory has its own family of problematic examples for which it endorses irrational courses of action, and its own irrational policy that it is committed to endorsing. These are, I think, fatal problems for causal decision theory. I wish that I had another theory to offer in its place. (shrink)
On many of the idealized models of human cognition and behavior in use by philosophers, agents are represented as having a single corpus of beliefs which (a) is consistent and deductively closed, and (b) guides all of their (rational, deliberate, intentional) actions all the time. In graded-belief frameworks, agents are represented as having a single, coherent distribution of credences, which guides all of their (rational, deliberate, intentional) actions all of the time. It's clear that actual human beings don't live up (...) to this idealization. The systems of belief that we in fact have are fragmented. Rather than having a single system of beliefs that guides all of our behavior all of the time, we have a number of distinct, compartmentalized systems of belief, different ones of which drive different aspects of our behavior in different contexts. It's tempting to think that, while of course people are fragmented, it would be better (from the perspective of rationality) if they weren't, and the only reason why our fragmentation is excusable is that we have limited cognitive resources, which prevents us from holding too much information before our minds at a time. Give us enough additional processing capacity, and there'd be no justification for any continued fragmentation. I argue that this is not so. There are good reasons to be fragmented rather than unified, independent of the limitations on our available processing power. In particular, there are ways our belief-forming mechanisms—including our perceptual systems—could be constructed that would make it better to be fragmented than to be unified. And there are reasons to think that some of our belief-forming mechanisms really are constructed that way. (shrink)
This paper argues that the problematic of rule following in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations and Heidegger's analysis of anxiety in Being and Time have analogous structures. Working through these analogies helps our interpretation of both of these authors. Contrasting sceptical and anti-sceptical readings of Wittgenstein helps us to resolve an interpretive puzzle about what an authentic response to anxiety looks like for Heidegger. And considering the importance of anxiety to Heidegger's conception of authenticity allows us to locate in Wittgenstein's later philosophy (...) a covert appeal to something resembling Heideggerian authenticity. (shrink)
You’re imagining, in the course of a different game of make-believe, that you’re a bank robber. You don’t believe that you’re a bank robber. You are moved to point your finger, gun-wise, at the person pretending to be the bank teller and say, “Stick ‘em up! This is a robbery!”.
In epistemology and philosophy of science, there has been substantial debate about truth’s relation to understanding. “Non-factivists” hold that radical departures from the truth are not always barriers to understanding; “quasi-factivists” demur. The most discussed example concerns scientists’ use of idealizations in certain derivations of the ideal gas law from statistical mechanics. Yet, these discussions have suffered from confusions about the relevant science, as well as conceptual confusions. Addressing this example, we shall argue that the ideal gas law is best (...) interpreted as favoring non-factivism about understanding, but only after delving a bit deeper into the statistical mechanics that has informed these arguments and stating more precisely what non-factivism entails. Along the way, we indicate where earlier discussions have gone astray, and highlight how a naturalistic approach furnishes more nuanced normative theses about the interaction of rationality, understanding, and epistemic value. (shrink)
Intentionalism is the view that the phenomenal character of an experience is wholly determined by its representational content is very attractive. Unfortunately, it is in conflict with some quite robust intuitions about the possibility of phenomenal spectrum inversion without misrepresentation. Faced with such a problem, there are the usual three options: reject intentionalism, discount the intuitions and deny that spectrum inversion without misrepresentation is possible, or find a way to reconcile the two by dissolving the apparent conflict. Sydney Shoemaker's (1994) (...) introduction of appearance properties is a particularly ingenious way of pursuing the third strategy, by maintaining that there is a representational difference between the phenomenally spectrum-inverted subjects.2 In introducing appearance properties, Shoemaker does two things: he identifies a theoretical role for some family of properties to play, and he suggests a family of properties as candidates to play that role. I'll argue that his proposed candidates do not play the role as well as we would like, suggest some new candidates, and argue that they do a better job. (shrink)
It's a presupposition of a very common way of thinking about contextsensitivity in language that the semantic contribution made by a bit of context-sensitive vocabulary is sensitive only to features of the speaker's situation at the time of utterance. I argue that this is false, and that we need a theory of context-dependence that allows for content to depend not just on the features of the utterance's origin, but also on features of its destination. There are cases in which a (...) single utterance semantically conveys different propositions to different members of its audience, which force us to say that what a sentence conveys depends not just on the context in which it is uttered, but also on the context in which it is received. (shrink)
Adopting a dispositional theory of value promises to deliver a lot of theoretical goodies. One recurring problem for dispositional theories of value, though, is a problem about nonconvergence. If being a value is being disposed to elicit response R in us, what should we say if it turns out that not everybody is disposed to have R to the same things? One horn of the problem here is a danger of the view collapsing into an error theory—of it turning out, (...) on account of the diversity of agents' relevant dispositions, that nothing is really a value, since nothing is disposed to elicit R in everybody. Alternatively, there is a danger of an objectionable fragmentation of value, according to which there is no such thing as a value simpliciter, but only valuesme and valuesyou, valuesus and valuesthem. I advocate a de se relativist version of a dispositional theory of value. If we go for this sort of de-se-ified dispositional theory, we get to keep our theoretical goodies, but we avoid the problem of nonconvergence that leads to a danger of either collapse into an error theory, or else talking-past, and a loss of common subject matter. (shrink)
The computational theory of mind construes the mind as an information-processor and cognitive capacities as essentially representational capacities. Proponents of the view claim a central role for representational content in computational models of these capacities. In this paper I argue that the standard view of the role of representational content in computational models is mistaken; I argue that representational content is to be understood as a gloss on the computational characterization of a cognitive process.Keywords: Computation; Representational content; Cognitive capacities; Explanation.
Much of computational cognitive science construes human cognitive capacities as representational capacities, or as involving representation in some way. Computational theories of vision, for example, typically posit structures that represent edges in the distal scene. Neurons are often said to represent elements of their receptive fields. Despite the ubiquity of representational talk in computational theorizing there is surprisingly little consensus about how such claims are to be understood. The point of this chapter is to sketch an account of the nature (...) and function of representation in computational cognitive models. (shrink)
The past decade has seen a protracted debate over the semantics of epistemic modals. According to contextualists, epistemic modals quantify over the possibilities compatible with some contextually determined group’s information. Relativists often object that contextualism fails to do justice to the way we assess utterances containing epistemic modals for truth or falsity. However, recent empirical work seems to cast doubt on the relativist’s claim, suggesting that ordinary speakers’ judgments about epistemic modals are more closely in line with contextualism than relativism (...) (Knobe & Yalcin 2014; Khoo 2015). This paper furthers the debate by reporting new empirical research revealing a previously overlooked dimension of speakers’ truth-value judgments concerning epistemic modals. Our results show that these judgments vary systematically with the question under discussion in the conversational context in which the utterance is being assessed. We argue that this ‘QUD effect’ is difficult to explain if contextualism is true, but is readily explained by a suitably flexible form of relativism. (shrink)
Colors aren't as real as shapes. Shapes are full?fledged qualities of things in themselves, independent of how they're perceived and by whom. Colors aren't. Colors are merely qualities of things as they are for us, and the colors of things depend on who is perceiving them. When we take the fully objective view of the world, things keep their shapes, but the colors fall away, revealed as the mere artifacts of our own subjective, parochial perspective on the world that they (...) are. (shrink)
A common first reaction to expressivist and quasi-realist theories is the thought that, if these theories are right, there's some objectionable sense in which we can't be wrong about morality. This worry turns out to be surprisingly difficult to make stick - an account of moral error as instability under improving changes provides the quasi-realist with the resources to explain many of our concerns about moral error. The story breaks down, though, in the case of fundamental moral error. This is (...) where the initial worry finally sticks - quasi-realism tells me that I can't be fundamentally wrong about morality, though others can. (shrink)
Subjects with delusions profess to believe some extremely peculiar things. Patients with Capgras delusion sincerely assert that, for example, their spouses have been replaced by impostors. Patients with Cotard’s delusion sincerely assert that they are dead. Many philosophers and psychologists are hesitant to say that delusional subjects genuinely believe the contents of their delusions.2 One way to reinterpret delusional subjects is to say that we’ve misidentified the content of the problematic belief. So for example, rather than believing that his wife (...) is has been replaced by an impostor, we might say that the victim of Capgras delusion believes that it is, in some respects, as if his wife has been replaced by an impostor. Another is to say that we’ve misidentified the attitude that the delusional subject bears to the content of their delusion. So for example, Gregory Currie and co-authors have suggested that rather than believing that his wife has been replaced by an impostor, we should say that the victim of Capgras delusion merely imagines that his wife has been replaced by an impostor.3. (shrink)
It is bad news to find out that one's cognitive or perceptual faculties are defective. Furthermore, it’s not always transparent how one ought to revise one's beliefs in light of such news. Two sorts of news should be distinguished. On the one hand, there is news that a faculty is unreliable -- that it doesn't track the truth particularly well. On the other hand, there is news that a faculty is anti-reliable -- that it tends to go positively wrong. These (...) two sorts of news call for extremely different responses. We provide accounts of these responses, and prove bounds on the degree to which one can reasonably count oneself as mistaken about a given subject matter. (shrink)
A common kind of explanation in cognitive neuroscience might be called functiontheoretic: with some target cognitive capacity in view, the theorist hypothesizes that the system computes a well-defined function (in the mathematical sense) and explains how computing this function constitutes (in the system’s normal environment) the exercise of the cognitive capacity. Recently, proponents of the so-called ‘new mechanist’ approach in philosophy of science have argued that a model of a cognitive capacity is explanatory only to the extent that it reveals (...) the causal structure of the mechanism underlying the capacity. If they are right, then a cognitive model that resists a transparent mapping to known neural mechanisms fails to be explanatory. I argue that a functiontheoretic characterization of a cognitive capacity can be genuinely explanatory even absent an account of how the capacity is realized in neural hardware. (shrink)
Idioms – expressions like kick the bucket and let the cat out of the bag – are strange. They behave in ways that ordinary multi-word expressions do not. One distinctive and troublesome feature of idioms is their unpredictability: The meanings of sentences in which idiomatic phrases occur are not the ones that we would get by applying the usual compositional rules to the usual meanings of their (apparent) constituents. This sort of behavior requires an explanation. I will argue that the (...) right explanation is that the sentences are being interpreted through a pretense. (What this means, exactly, will be explained in what follows.) This is a surprising claim, for two reasons. On the one hand, it seems that adopting a pretense account is overkill—it’s a far more radical move than is required to account for the phenomena. On the other hand, it seems that a pretense account is hopeless—that there is a fatal overgeneration problem for pretense accounts of idiom that causes them to fail, as Jason Stanley charges, “as badly as it is possible for an account of idiom to fail.” So I will have some work to do. (shrink)
Problems about the accidental properties of properties motivate us--force us, I think--not to identify properties with the sets of their instances. If we identify them instead with functions from worlds to extensions, we get a theory of properties that is neutral with respect to disputes over counterpart theory, and we avoid a problem for Lewis's theory of events. Similar problems about the temporary properties of properties motivate us--though this time they probably don't force us--to give up this theory as well, (...) and to identify properties with functions from world, time pairs to extensions. Again, the replacement theory is neutral with respect to a metaphysical dispute that the old theory (arguably) forces us to take a stand on--the dispute over whether objects have temporal parts. It also allows us to give a smoother semantics for predication, to better accommodate our intuitions about which objects temporary properties are properties of, and to make temporally self-locating beliefs genuinely self -locating. (shrink)
Among the cognitive capacities of evolved creatures is the capacity to represent. Theories in cognitive neuroscience typically explain our manifest representational capacities by positing internal representations, but there is little agreement about how these representations function, especially with the relatively recent proliferation of connectionist, dynamical, embodied, and enactive approaches to cognition. In this talk I sketch an account of the nature and function of representation in cognitive neuroscience that couples a realist construal of representational vehicles with a pragmatic account of (...) mental content. I call the resulting package a deflationary account of mental representation and I argue that it avoids the problems that afflict competing accounts. (shrink)
Mohan Matthen has failed to understand the position I develop and defend in “How to Think about Mental Content.” No doubt some of the fault lies with my exposition, though Matthen often misconstrues passages that are clear in context. He construes clarifications and elaborations of my argument to be “concessions.” Rather than dwell too much on specific misunderstandings of my explanatory project and its attendant claims, I will focus on the main points of disagreement.RepresentationalismMy project in the paper is to (...) argue for a particular construal of the role of representational content in computational models of cognition. The view is committed to two kinds of representational content—mathematical content, which characterizes the mathematical function computed by a device and subsumes both biological and artifactual computers, and cognitive content. The latter is determined in part by external, so-called ‘naturalistic’ factors (for example, visual mechanisms represent such distal pro. (shrink)
There is a strong pull to the idea that there is some metaphysically interesting distinction between the fully real, objective, observer-independent qualities of things as they are in themselves, and the less-than-fully-real, subjective, observer-dependent qualities of things as they are for us. Call this distinction the primary/secondary quality distinction. The distinction between primary and secondary qualities is philosophically interesting because it is often quite attractive to draw such a distinction, and incredibly hard to spell it out in any kind of (...) satisfying and sensible way. I attempt such a spelling-out after first trying to pin down in more detail what we want from the primary/secondary quality distinction, and saying a bit about why that is such a hard thingto get. (shrink)
Intentionalism—the view that the phenomenal character of an experience is wholly determined by its representational content—is very attractive. Unfortunately, it’s in conflict with some quite robust intuitions about the possibility of phenomenal spectrum inversion without misrepresentation. Faced with such a problem, there are the usual three options—reject intentionalism, discount the intuitions and deny that spectrum inversion without misrepresentation is possible, or find a way to reconcile the two by dissolving the apparent conflict. Sydney Shoemaker’s (1994) introduction of appearance properties is (...) a particularly ingenious way of pursuing the third strategy, by maintaining that there is a representational difference between the phenomenally spectrum-inverted subjects. In introducing appearance properties, Shoemaker does two things: he identifies a theoretical role for some family of properties to play, and he suggests a family of properties as candidates to play that role. I’ll argue that his proposed candidates do not play the role as well as we would like, suggest some new candidates, and argue that they do a better job of playing the role. The reason for the question mark in the title is that, if I’m right, it turns out that the best candidates to play the appearance property role aren’t properties. (shrink)
“Naturalistic” semantic theories attempt to specify, in nonintentional and nonsemantic terms, a sufficient condition for a mental representation’s having a particular meaning. Such theories have trouble accounting for the possibility of representational error. In his latest book, Robert Cummins traces the problem to the fact that the theories currently on offer identify the meaning of a representation with certain features of its use. Only a theory that takes meaning to be an intrinsic feature of a representation, Cummins argues, can both (...) accommodate representational error and play a genuinely explanatory role in an account of rational capacities. In the second half of the book he develops and defends a proposal that he calls the “picture theory of representation.”. (shrink)
Externalism about the mind holds that the explanation of our representational capacities requires appeal to mental states that are individuated by reference to features of the environment. Externalists claim that ‘narrow’ taxonomies cannot account for important features of psychological explanation. I argue that this claim is false, and offer a general argument for preferring narrow taxonomies in psychology.
The appeal to ordinary language is a central feature of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy: he reminds us that our words find meaning in the ordinary practices and forms of life in which they are used. This emphasis on the ordinary may seem to clash with Heidegger’s claim that average everyday understanding is marked by inauthenticity: is Wittgenstein’s emphasis on ordinary language fundamentally inauthentic? On the contrary, I argue, Wittgenstein’s emphasis on the ungroundedness of our ordinary practices parallels Heidegger’s discussion of anxiety (...) and uncanniness, suggesting that we can unearth something like a Heideggerian appeal to authenticity in Wittgenstein’s appeal to ordinary language. (shrink)
Primordial emotions are the subjective element of the instincts which are the genetically programmed behaviour patterns which contrive homeostasis. They include thirst, hunger for air, hunger for food, pain and hunger for specific minerals etc.There are two constituents of a primordial emotion—the specific sensation which when severe may be imperious, and the compelling intention for gratification by a consummatory act. They may dominate the stream of consciousness, and can have plenipotentiary power over behaviour.It is hypothesized that early in animal evolution (...) complex reflex mechanisms in the basal brain subserving homeostatic responses, in concert with elements of the reticular activating system subserving arousal, melded functionally with regions embodied in the progressive rostral development of the telencephalon. This included the emergent limbic and paralimbic areas, and the insula. This phylogenetically ancient organization subserved the origin of consciousness as the primordial emotion, which signalled that the organisms existence was immediately threatened. Neuroimaging confirms major activations in regions of the basal brain during primordial emotions in humans. The behaviour of decorticate humans and animals is discussed in relation to the possible existence of primitive awareness.Neuroimaging of the primordial emotions reveals that rapid gratification of intention by a consummatory act such as ingestion causes precipitate decline of both the initiating sensation and the intention. There is contemporaneous rapid disappearance of particular regions of brain activation which suggests they may be part of the jointly sufficient and severally necessary activations and deactivations which correlate with consciousness [Crick, F. & Koch, C. . A framework for consciousness. NatureNeuroscience,6, 119–126]. (shrink)
The word “picture” occurs pervasively in Wittgenstein's later philosophy. Not only does Wittgenstein often use literal pictures or the notion of mental pictures in his investigations, but he also frequently uses “picture” to speak about a way of conceiving of a matter (e.g. “A picture held us captive” at Philosophical Investigations§115). I argue that “picture” used in this conceptual sense is not a shorthand for an assumption or a set of propositions but is rather an expression of conceptual bedrock on (...) the model of an organising myth. This reading builds primarily on work by Gordon Baker and Stanley Cavell. (shrink)
Like works of literature, thought experiments present fictional narratives that prompt reflection in their readers. Because of these and other similarities, a number of philosophers have argued for a strong analogy between works of literary fiction and thought experiments, some going so far as to say that works of literary fiction are a species of thought experiment. These arguments are often used in defending a cognitivist position with regard to literature: thought experiments produce knowledge, so works of literary fiction can (...) too. This article concedes that works of literary fiction can be put to use in thought experiments, but not in a way that is helpful to the cognitivist. In particular, it draws three disanalogies in the ways we engage critically with thought experiments and with literary fictions. First, we use thought experiments to make arguments; second, we read thought experiments in strongly allegorical terms; and third, the terms of criticism we apply to thought experiments and to works of literature differ. Although these disanalogies present problems for the cognitivist position, they also give us a sharper picture of the distinctive educative potential of works of literary fiction. (shrink)
There is a lot that we don’t know. That means that there are a lot of possibilities that are, epistemically speaking, open. For instance, we don’t know whether it rained in Seattle yesterday. So, for us at least, there is an epistemic possibility where it rained in Seattle yesterday, and one where it did not. It’s tempting to give a very simple analysis of epistemic possibility: • A possibility is an epistemic possibility if we do not know that it does (...) not obtain. But this is problematic for a few reasons. One issue, one that we’ll come back to, concerns the first two words. The analysis appears to quantify over possibilities. But what are they? As we said, that will become a large issue pretty soon, so let’s set it aside for now. A more immediate problem is that it isn’t clear what it is to have de re attitudes towards possibilities, such that we know a particular possibility does or doesn’t obtain. Let’s try rephrasing our analysis so that it avoids this complication. (shrink)
Representationalism, in its most widely accepted form, is the view that the human mind is an information-using system, and that human cognitive capacities are to be understood as representational capacities. This chapter distinguishes several distinct theses that go by the name "representationalism," focusing on the view that is most prevalent in cogntive science. It also discusses some objections to the view and attempts to clarify the role that representational content plays in cognitive models that make use of the notion of (...) representation. (shrink)