A debate has been raging in the philosophy of mind for at least the past two decades. It concerns whether the mental can make a causal difference to the world. Suppose that I am reading the newspaper and it is getting dark. I switch on the light, and continue with my reading. One explanation of why my switching on of the light occurred is that a desiring with a particular content (that I continue reading), a noticing with a particular content (...) (that it is getting dark), and a believing with a particular content (that by switching on the light I could continue reading) occurred in me, and these events caused my switching on of the light. This explanation works by citing the intentional contents of mental phenomena as causes of that action. It is because the intentional causes have the contents that they do, and because those contents play a causal role in bringing about my action, that my action is causally explained. (shrink)
This volume provides an introduction to and review of key contemporary debates concerning connectionism, and the nature of explanation and methodology in cognitive psychology. The first debate centers on the question of whether human cognition is best modeled by classical or by connectionist architectures. The second centres on the question of the compatibility between folk, or commonsense, psychological explanation and explanations based on connectionist models of cognition. Each of the two sections includes a classic reading along with important responses, and (...) concludes with a specially commissioned reply by the main contributor. The editorial introductions provide a comprehensive survey and map through the debates. (shrink)
Teleosemantics seeks to explain meaning and other intentional phenomena in terms of their function in the life of the species. This volume of new essays from an impressive line-up of well-known contributors offers a valuable summary of the current state of the teleosemantics debate.
This paper argues that the non-reductive monist need not be concerned about the ‘problem’ of mental causation; one can accept both the irreducibility of mental properties to physical properties and the causal closure of the physical. More precisely, it is argued that instances of mental properties can be causally efficacious, and that there is no special barrier to seeing mental properties whose instances are causally efficacious as being causally relevant to the effects they help to bring about. It is then (...) shown that the causal relevance of mental properties is consistent with there being no downward causation, so the dilemma of ‘epiphenomenalism or reduction’ can be avoided. Non-reductive monism lives on as a viable position in the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
How did I raise my arm? The simple answer is that I raised it as a consequence of intending to raise it. A slightly more complicated response would mention the absence of any factors which would inhibit the execution of the intention- and a more complicated one still would specify the intention in terms of a goal (say, drinking a beer) which requires arm-raising as a means towards that end. Whatever the complications, the simple answer appears to be on the (...) right track. (shrink)
There is a 'philosophers' assumption that there is a problem with the very notion of an unconscious mental state.The paper begins by outlining how the problem is generated, and proceeds to argue that certain conditions need to be fulfilled if the unconscious is to qualify as mental. An explanation is required as to why we would ever expect these conditions to be fulfilled, and it is suggested that the Freudian concept of repression has an essential role to play in such (...) an explanation. Notoriously this concept brings with it a further puzzle: it looks as though repression serves a purpose, and so requires an agent to execute this purpose, a repressor. Paradox is avoided only if repression is viewed in biologicalfunctional terms.The result is that the notion of the unconscious is saved from the a priori objections often levelled at it by philosophers.This still leaves considerable theoretical work to be done by psychological science. (shrink)
Aim To ascertain the quantity and nature of gifts and items provided by the pharmaceutical industry in Australia to medical specialists and to consider whether these are appropriate in terms of justifiable ethical standards, empirical research and views expressed in the literature.
A. J. Ayer was one of the foremost analytical philosophers of the twentieth century, and was known as a brilliant and engaging speaker. In essays based on his influential Dewey Lectures, Ayer addresses some of the most critical and controversial questions in epistemology and the philosophy of science, examining the nature of inductive reasoning and grappling with the issues that most concerned him as a philosopher. This edition contains revised and expanded versions of the lectures and two additional essays. Ayer (...) begins by considering Hume's formulation of the problem of induction and then explores the inferences on which we base our beliefs in factual matters. In other essays, he defines the three kinds of probability that inform inductive reasoning and examines the various criteria for verifiability and falsifiability. In his extensive introduction, Graham Macdonald discusses the arguments in _Probability and Evidence_, how they relate to Ayer's other works, and their influence in contemporary philosophy. He also provides a brief biographical sketch of Ayer, and includes a bibliography of works about and in response to _Probability and Evidence_. (shrink)
Ross & Spurrett (R&S) argue that Kim's reductionism rests on a restricted account of supervenience and a misunderstanding about causality. I contend that broadening supervenience does nothing to avoid Kim's argument and that it is difficult to see how employing different notions of causality helps to avoid the problem. I end by sketching a different solution.
In his seminal The Poverty of Historicism Sir Karl Popper deployed a number of arguments to prick the pretensions of those who thought that they were, or could come to be, in possession of knowledge of the future. These ‘historicists’ assumed that they could lay bare the law of evolution of a society, and that their possession of knowledge of such a law justified political action which had the aim of removing obstacles to the progress of history. In arguing against (...) historicism Popper was clearly motivated by his interest in removing the intellectual backing for such revolutionary political practice. My first reading of PH was in the company of people who were extremely dismissive of the anti-revolutionary message, and who tended to argue that if that was the conclusion of Popper's theoretical argument, then obviously the argument was flawed. Within their context, that of the implementation of apartheid policy in South Africa, there was much to be said for this attitude. There is no doubt that Popper's message was insufficiently contextualised, or rather that he did not signpost very clearly whether he intended the anti-revolutionary political prescription to have limited or universal application. In this paper I want to reconsider some of these issues, particularly whether the truth of anti-historicism, in the sense intended by Popper, has such conservative consequences for political action. (shrink)
Alfred Jules Ayer was born in London and educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. He attended sessions of the logical positivist ‘Vienna Circle’ in 1932, and taught at Oxford from 1933 until joining the Army in 1940. His Language, Truth and Logic was published in 1936, and The Foundations of Empirical Knowledge in 1940. After war service he returned to Oxford in 1945, and became Grote Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Logic at University College, London, the following (...) year. The Problem of Knowledge was published in 1956. In 1959 he returned to Oxord as Wykeham Professor of Logic, a post he held until his retirement in 1977. He had been made a Fellow of the British Academy in 1952, and was knighted in 1970. Among his publications after he returned to Oxford are The Concept of a Person , Philosophical Essays , The Origins of Pragmatism , Metaphysics and Common Sense , Russell and Moore: the Analytical Heritage , Probability and Evidence , The Central Questions of Philosophy , and Philosophy in the Twentieth Century. (shrink)
One of the most original thinkers of the century, Karl Popper has inspired generations of philosophers, historians, and politicians. This collection of papers, specially written for this volume, offers fresh philosophical examination of key themes in Popper's philosophy, including philosophy of knowledge, science and political philosophy. Drawing from some of Popper's most important works, contributors address his solution to the problem of induction, his views on conventionalism and criticism in an open society, and his unique position in 20th century philosophy. (...) They also examine the current relevance of Popper to understanding liberal democracy, his critique of tribalism and his relationship with analytic philosophy in general - and with Wittgenstein in particular - as well as drawing on the studies of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein to assess Popper's conception of science. (shrink)