The connection between theories of truth and meaning is explored. Theories of truth and meaning are connected in a way such that differences in the conception of what it is for a sentence to be true are engendered by differences in the conception of how meanings depend on each other, and on a base of underlying facts. It is argued that this view is common ground between Davidson and Dummett, and that their dispute over realism is really a dispute in (...) the theory of meaning over holism and molecularism. The view offered is contrasted with influential pragmatist and modest views. (shrink)
Is understanding epistemic in nature? Does a correct account of what constitutes understanding of a concept mention epistemological notions such as knowledge, justification or epistemic rationality? We defend the view that understanding is epistemic in nature – we defend epistemological conceptions of understanding. We focus our discussion with a critical evaluation of Tim Williamson's challenges to epistemological conceptions of understanding in The Philosophy of Philosophy. Against Williamson, we distinguish three kinds of epistemological conceptions and argue that Williamson's arguments succeed against (...) only the most heavily committed kind, and leave the less heavily committed kinds untouched. Further, we argue that Williamson's elaboration of lessons from his arguments point in a direction opposite of his own conclusions and give vivid articulation and support to epistemological conceptions. We suggest also that skepticism about Williamson's larger metaphilosophical conclusions – according to which understanding plays no special role in the epistemology of philosophy – may be in order. (shrink)
Recently, philosophers have put forth views in the epistemology of disagreement that emphasize the epistemic relevance of the first-person perspective in disa- greement. In the first part of the paper, I attempt a rational reconstruction of these views. I construe these views as invoking the first-person perspective to explain why it is rational for parties to a disagreement to privilege their own opinions in the absence of independent explanations for doing so—to privilege without independent explanations. I reconstruct three ways privilege (...) might be thought to arise: by demotion, through self-trust, and through the epistemic immediacy in the first-person perspective. I argue that none of these ways, and none of the views that make use of them, clarify a compelling account of the epistemic relevance of the first-person perspective. In the second part of the paper, I try to discern some lessons and outline an alternative approach. According to this approach, the epistemic relevance of the first-person perspective is not to explain privilege without independent explanations but to explain the epistemic limits of intersubjective understanding. These limits are manifest in reflective disagreement and explain how other minds matter for one’s own mind in the pursuit of knowledge. The resulting view about the epistemology of disagreement is neither skeptical nor dogmatic, but dialectical, involving an active mental state that conceptualizes not only the subject matter but also one’s own and others’ minds in thinking and rational interaction at the epistemic limits of intersubjective understanding. (shrink)
Is knowledge of language a kind of knowledge-that or knowledge-how? Michael Devitt’s Ignorance of Language argues that knowledge of language is a kind of knowledge-how. Devitt’s account of knowledge of language is embedded in a more general account of the nature of language as grounded in thought. The paper argues that Devitt’s view is inconsistent when thought is understood in an externalist or anti-individualist way. A key phenomenon in externalist thought experiments is the possibility of incomplete or mistaken understanding, and (...) its correction. This phenomenon is exhibited in our knowledge of language. Expanding on some brief remarks by Chomsky, it is argued that speakers display incomplete understanding in making mistakes in linguistic judgrnents. These mistakes can be irnproved through reflection on cases. In this process of mistake, reflection, and correction, speakers’ knowledge of language remains stable despite the change in linguistic judgments. This stable knowledge of language cannot be understood as kind of knowledge-how, without making the rational efficacy of reflection a constitutive feature of knowledge-how. But to do this is to obliterate the distinction between knowledge-how and knowledge-that. The conclusion is that if externalism about thought is accepted, then the knowledge in language is a kind of knowledge-that. (shrink)
According to the Relational View of Propositional Attitude Reports (‘Relational View of Reports’, for short), attitude reports report thinkers as standing in cognitive relations to propositions. One difficult question for the view is: What is the nature of the cognitive relation(s) thinkers stand in to propositions in having propositional attitudes? One promise of The Measure Theory of Mind (sometimes, ‘The Measure Theory’ or ‘Measure Theory’ for short) is that it can avoid having to answer this question by allowing attitude reports (...) to be relational in form without taking the atti- tudes themselves to be relational, and a fortiori without taking propositional attitudes to involve any cognitive relation to propositions. This paper argues that if the propositional attitudes are conceived of in a robust way that emphasizes their normative and perspectival aspects, then this promise of The Measure Theory cannot be realized. If there is a viable Measure Theory for mind conceived of in these robust terms, it must incorporate, rather than dismiss, the notion of a cognitive relation to a proposition. (shrink)
What is the cognitive value of the concept of truth? What epistemic difference does the concept of truth make to those who grasp it? This paper employs a new perspective for thinking about the concept of truth and recent debates concerning it, organized around the question of the cognitive value of the concept of truth. The paper aims to defend a substantively correct and dialectically optimal account of the cognitive value of the concept of truth. This perspective is employed in (...) understanding the critical discussion around what Hartry Field has called “the incorporation model” for extending a deflationary view of truth to foreign sentences. Field's original intentions in discussing the incorporation model were to defend the deflationary view from some counterintuitive consequences concerning the understanding of truth attributions to foreign sentences. However, more recently, philosophers unencumbered by deflationary commitments have taken over the incorporation model for their own inflationary purposes. In particular, and in my terms, these philosophers can be understood as making what I argue is the ultimately too radical suggestion that the cognitive value of the concept of truth is to allow the incorporation not only of the linguistically foreign, but also of the conceptually alien. I clarify this dialectic en route to explaining and arguing for the cognitive inflationary view, according to which the cognitive value of the concept of truth is is to make possible the proprietary kind and quality of knowledge allowed by reflective clarity over the concepts and thoughts that one already has. (shrink)
Quine’s arguments in the final two sections of “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” bring semantic and epistemic concerns into spectacular collision. Many have thought that the arguments succeed in irreparably smashing a conception of a distinctively analytic and a priori philosophy to pieces. In Constructing the World, David Chalmers argues that much of this distinctively analytical and a priori conception of philosophy can be reconstructed, with Quine’s criticisms leaving little lasting damage. I agree with Chalmers that Quine’s arguments do not have (...) the lasting damage some take them to have. However, I do not think that Chalmers has succeeded in explaining why. The core of Chalmers’s error lies in the rational dispositionalism that forms the metasemantics of his Carnapian intensionalism. Responding to Quine requires recognizing conceptions of both concepts and epistemic normativity that go beyond the opposition between irrationality and conceptual change that Chalmers brings to bear on Quine. I explain this expanded conception of concepts and epistemic normativity in terms of another fundamental aim of Constructing the World, namely that of providing an account of Fregean sense, or more generally of defending what Chalmers calls epistemological semantics. (shrink)
My discussion of the prospects for a contemporary republicanism will revolve around, primarily, Philip Pettit’s Republicanism and, secondarily, Jürgen Habermas’s The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Pettit and Habermas may be understood as describing how the conceptions of certain central concepts in political philosophy, in particular, conceptions expressing ideals associated with the republican tradition, were transformed with the expansion of the citizenry in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Their interest in the matter is more than historical. For (...) both Pettit and Habermas, the pre-transformation world espoused attractive ideals which were lost in the post-transformation world, and indeed are lost in our contemporary world. Beyond their historical interest is a concern for the viability of reinstating republican conceptions of those ideals in our contemporary political culture. (shrink)
I defend the non-cognitivist outlook on knowledge of grammar from the criticisms levelled against it by Jonathan Knowles. The first part of the paper is largely critical. First, I argue that Knowles's argument against Christopher Peacocke and Martin Davies's non-cognitivist account of the psychological reality of grammar fails, and thus that no reason has been given to think that cognitivism is integral to an understanding of Chomskyan theoretical linguistics. Second, I argue that cognitivism is philosophically problematic. In particular, I argue (...) (a) that Knowles misunderstands Stephen Stich and Gareth Evans's points about inferential integration; and (b) that Knowles misunderstands the philosophical status and demands of Evans's Generality Constraint. In the final, non-critical part of the paper, I try to show that the Stich and Evans's constraints, together with a Self-Knowledge Constraint, are genuine constitutive constraints by showing how they have rationality as their underlying organizing principle. I argue further that recognizing the constitutive character of these constraints allows one to distinguish two kinds of psychological explanation; in this sense, the constraints mark a genuine boundary in our theorizing about the mind. (shrink)
: Significant issues remain for understanding and evaluating the Quinean critique of the analytic/synthetic distinction. These issues are highlighted in a puzzling mismatch between the common philosophical attitude toward the critique and its broader intellectual legacy. A discussion of this mismatch sets the larger context for criticism of a recent tradition of interpretation of the critique. I argue that this tradition confuses the roles and relative importance of indeterminacy, a priority, and analyticity in the Quinean critique.
This paper analyzes the concept of truth in terms of an account of Fregean sense as cognitive value. The account highlights the importance of understanding-based knowledge of co-reference for the individuation of senses. Explicit truth attributions, like involve an inter-level version of understanding-based knowledge of co-reference in the that-clause concepts of thoughts that they employ: one cannot understand the that-clause concept of the thought in the truth attribution without understanding the thought the that-clause concept is a concept of. This is (...) not a redundancy that eliminates or deflates cognitive value, but an exploitation, by the concept of truth, of the inter-level version of understanding-based knowledge of co-reference in critical reflective thinking. The cognitive value of the concept of truth is to combine semantically with explicit ways of thinking of thoughts to make critical reflective thinking possible. This account of the cognitive value of the concept of truth assigns cognitive value not by construing the concept of truth as a way of thinking about some thing, but by articulating its broader cognitive role. (shrink)
The connections between theories of concepts and issues of knowledge and epistemic normativity are complex and controversial. According to the general, broadly Fregean, view that stands in the background of this paper, these connections are taken not only to exist, but also to be fundamental to issues about the individuation of concepts. This kind of view fleshed out should clarify the nature and role of epistemic norms, and of different kinds of epistemic norms, in concept individuation. This paper takes up (...) an aspect of this general task and tries to make explicit the nature and role of intellectual norms, and to argue that extant paradigms for theorizing concepts fail because they fail to recognize the nature and individuative relevance of intellectual norms. (shrink)
The thought that truth is valuable for its own sake is obvious, yet difficult to explicate in a precise and vindicating way. The paper tries to explicate and vindicate this thought with an argument for the conclusion that truth is an epistemic value. Truth is an epistemic value in the sense that a commitment to the value of truth plays a role in the justification and explanation of a fundamental aspect of our epistemic practice, namely, critical reflection. The paper also (...) argues that this feature of truth is inconsistent with deflationary accounts of truth. The ideas are set against the backdrop of criticism of some recent work by Paul Horwich. (shrink)
A structural similarity between deflationism and a certain semantically excessive interpretation of the results of cognitive science is developed. Both views incorporate "two-worlds" accounts of the nature of representation. But two-worlds accounts are committed to what I call quasi-technically “the worst possible theory of truth”. This renders the semantically excessive interpretation committed to the worst possible theory of truth; but it renders deflationism internally inconsistent or incoherent.
These are exciting times for philosophical theorizing about propositions, with the last 15 years seeing the development of new approaches and the emergence of new theorists. Propositions have been invoked to explain thought and cognition, the nature and attribution of mental states, language and communication, and in philosophical treatments of truth, necessity and possibility. According to Frege and Russell, and their followers, propositions are structured mind- and language-independent abstract objects which have essential and intrinsic truth-conditions. Some recent theorizing doubts whether (...) propositions really exist and, if they do, asks how we can grasp, entertain and know them? But most of the doubt concerns whether the abstract approach to propositions can really explain them. Are propositions really structured, and if so where does their structure come from? How does this structure form a unity, and does it need to? Are the representational and structural properties of propositions really independent of those of thinking and language? What does it mean to say that an object occurs in or is a constituent of a proposition? The volume takes up these and other questions, both as they apply to the abstract object approach and also to the more recently developed approaches. While the volume as a whole does not definitively and unequivocally reject the abstract objection approach, for the most part, the papers explore new critical and constructive directions. This book was originally published as a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Philosophy. (shrink)
Fitch’s Paradox shows that if every truth is knowable, then every truth is known. Standard diagnoses identify the factivity/negative infallibility of the knowledge operator and Moorean contradictions as the root source of the result. This paper generalises Fitch’s result to show that such diagnoses are mistaken. In place of factivity/negative infallibility, the weaker assumption of any ‘level-bridging principle’ suffices. A consequence is that the result holds for some logics in which the “Moorean contradiction” commonly thought to underlie the result is (...) in fact consistent. This generalised result improves on the current understanding of Fitch’s result and widens the range of modalities of philosophical interest to which the result might be fruitfully applied. Along the way, we also consider a semantic explanation for Fitch’s result which answers a challenge raised by Kvanvig (2006). (shrink)
Many think that Pascal’s Wager is a hopeless failure. A primary reason for this is because a number of challenging objections have been raised to the wager, including the “many gods” objection and the “mixed strategy” objection. We argue that both objections are formal, but not substantive, problems for the wager, and that they both fail for the same reason. We then respond to additional objections to the wager. We show how a version of Pascalian reasoning succeeds, giving us a (...) reason to pay special attention to the infinite consequences of our actions. (shrink)
Some commentators have condemned Kant’s moral project from a feminist perspective based on Kant’s apparently dim view of women as being innately morally deﬁcient. Here I will argue that although his remarks concerning women are unsettling at ﬁrst glance, a more detailed and closer examination shows that Kant’s view of women is actually far more complex and less unsettling than that attributed to him by various feminist critics. My argument, then, undercuts the justiﬁcation for the severe feminist critique of Kant’s (...) moral project. (shrink)
We make the case that the Prisoner’s Dilemma, notwithstanding its fame and the quantity of intellectual resources devoted to it, has largely failed to explain any phenomena of social scientific or biological interest. In the heart of the paper we examine in detail a famous purported example of Prisoner’s Dilemma empirical success, namely Axelrod’s analysis of WWI trench warfare, and argue that this success is greatly overstated. Further, we explain why this negative verdict is likely true generally and not just (...) in our case study. We also address some possible defenses of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. (shrink)
I examine and resolve an exegetical dichotomy between two main interpretations of Peirce’s theory of abduction, namely, the Generative Interpretation and the Pursuitworthiness Interpretation. According to the former, abduction is the instinctive process of generating explanatory hypotheses through a mental faculty called insight. According to the latter, abduction is a rule-governed procedure for determining the relative pursuitworthiness of available hypotheses and adopting the worthiest one for further investigation—such as empirical tests—based on economic considerations. It is shown that the Generative Interpretation (...) is inconsistent with a fundamental fact of logic for Peirce—i.e., abduction is a kind of inference—and the Pursuitworthiness Interpretation is flawed and inconsistent with Peirce’s naturalistic explanation for the possibility of science and his view about the limitations of classical scientific method. Changing the exegetical locus classicus from the logical form of abduction to insight and economy of research, I argue for the Unified Interpretation according to which abduction includes both instinctive hypotheses-generation and rule-governed hypotheses-ranking. I show that the Unified Interpretation is immune to the objections raised successfully against the Generative and the Pursuitworthiness interpretations. (shrink)
In recent years there has been a revitalised interest in non-classical solutions to the semantic paradoxes. In this paper I show that a number of logics are susceptible to a strengthened version of Curry's paradox. This can be adapted to provide a proof theoretic analysis of the omega-inconsistency in Lukasiewicz's continuum valued logic, allowing us to better evaluate which logics are suitable for a naïve truth theory. On this basis I identify two natural subsystems of Lukasiewicz logic which individually, but (...) not jointly, lack the problematic feature. (shrink)
How does Aristotle view the production of females? The prevailing view is that Aristotle thinks female births are teleological failures of a process aiming to produce males. However, as I argue, that is not a view Aristotle ever expresses, and it blatantly contradicts what he does explicitly say about female births: Aristotle believes that females are and come to be for the sake of something, namely, reproduction. I argue that an alternative to that prevailing view, according to which the embryo’s (...) sex is determined solely by “non-teleological necessity,” also misrepresents Aristotle’s view. As I show, the explanation Aristotle gives is more sophisticated and less egalitarian than the alternative account allows: There is some sense in which males are, for Aristotle, the “default” result. I offer instead an interpretation that can accommodate the asymmetry between Aristotle’s biological account of the production of males and females, but which does not imply that females are thereby teleological failures. There is no doubt that Aristotle thinks females are inferior to males in many respects. However, if he thinks that inferiority is grounded in biological facts, it is not the fact that females are the results of a failure of form to be realized. (shrink)
This chapter argues for an interpretation of Kant's psychology of moral evil that accommodates the so-called excluded middle cases and allows for variations in the magnitude of evil. The strategy involves distinguishing Kant's transcendental psychology from his empirical psychology and arguing that Kant's character rigorism is restricted to the transcendental level. The chapter also explains how Kant's theory of moral evil accommodates 'the badass'; someone who does evil for evil's sake.
Pascal’s Wager does not exist in a Platonic world of possible gods, abstract probabilities and arbitrary payoffs. Real decision-makers, such as Pascal’s “man of the world” of 1660, face a range of religious options they take to be serious, with fixed probabilities grounded in their evidence, and with utilities that are fixed quantities in actual minds. The many ingenious objections to the Wager dreamed up by philosophers do not apply in such a real decision matrix. In the situation Pascal addresses, (...) the Wager is a good bet. In the situation of a modern Western intellectual, the reasoning of the Wager is still powerful, though the range of options and the actions indicated are not the same as in Pascal’s day. (shrink)
There are three questions associated with Simpson’s Paradox (SP): (i) Why is SP paradoxical? (ii) What conditions generate SP?, and (iii) What should be done about SP? By developing a logic-based account of SP, it is argued that (i) and (ii) must be divorced from (iii). This account shows that (i) and (ii) have nothing to do with causality, which plays a role only in addressing (iii). A counterexample is also presented against the causal account. Finally, the causal and logic-based (...) approaches are compared by means of an experiment to show that SP is not basically causal. (shrink)
In 2009, Scott S. Reuben was convicted of fabricating data, which lead to 25 of his publications being retracted. Although it is clear that the perpetuation of retracted articles negatively effects the appraisal of evidence, the extent to which retracted literature is cited had not previously been investigated. In this study, to better understand the perpetuation of discredited research, we examine the number of citations of Reuben’s articles within 5 years of their retraction. Citations of Reuben’s retracted articles were assessed (...) using the Web of Science Core Collection. All citing articles were screened to discriminate between articles in which Reuben’s work was quoted as retracted, and articles in which his data was wrongly cited without any note of the retraction status. Twenty of Reuben’s publications had been cited 274 times between 2009 and 1024. In 2014, 45 % of the retracted articles had been cited at least once. In only 25.8 % of citing articles was it clearly stated that Reuben’s work had been retracted. Annual citations decreased from 108 in 2009 to 18 in 2014; however, the percentage of publications correctly indicating the retraction status also declined. The percentage of citations in top-25 %-journals, as well as the percentage of citations in journals from Reuben’s research area, declined sharply after 2009. Our data show that even 5 years after their retraction, nearly half of Reuben’s articles are still being quoted and the retraction status is correctly mentioned in only one quarter of the citations. (shrink)
To vindicate morality against skeptical doubts, Kant must show that agents can be moved to act independently of their sensible desires. Kant must therefore answer a motivational question: how does an agent get from the cognition that she ought to act morally to acting morally? Affectivist interpretations of Kant hold that agents are moved to act by feelings, while intellectualists appeal to cognition alone. To overcome the significant shortcomings of each view, I develop a hybrid theory of motivation. My central (...) interpretive claim is that Kant is a special kind of motivational internalist: on his view, agents are moved to act by a feeling of intellectual pleasure at the prospect of accomplishing a task they have set for themselves, a feeling that originates in free choice. The resulting theory is immune to the challenges facing intellectualism and affectivism, thus strengthening the prospects of Kant’s justification of morality. (shrink)
The existence of singularities alerts that one of the highest priorities of a centennial perspective on general relativity should be a careful re-thinking of the validity domain of Einstein’s field equations. We address the problem of constructing distinguishable extensions of the smooth spacetime manifold model, which can incorporate singularities, while retaining the form of the field equations. The sheaf-theoretic formulation of this problem is tantamount to extending the algebra sheaf of smooth functions to a distribution-like algebra sheaf in which the (...) former may be embedded, satisfying the pertinent cohomological conditions required for the coordinatization of all of the tensorial physical quantities, such that the form of the field equations is preserved. We present in detail the construction of these distribution-like algebra sheaves in terms of residue classes of sequences of smooth functions modulo the information of singular loci encoded in suitable ideals. Finally, we consider the application of these distribution-like solution sheaves in geometrodynamics by modeling topologically-circular boundaries of singular loci in three-dimensional space in terms of topological links. It turns out that the Borromean link represents higher order wormhole solutions. (shrink)
This work runs counter to the traditional interpretations of Peirce's philosophy by eliciting an inherent strand of pragmatic pluralism that is embedded in the very core of his thought and that weaves his various doctrines into a systematic ...
This study asserts that W.V.O. Quine’s eliminative philosophical gaze into mereological composition affects inevitably his interpretations of composition theories of ontology. To investigate Quine’s property monism from the account of modal eliminativism, I applied to his solution for the paradoxes of de re modalities’ . Because of its vital role to figure out how dispositions are encountered by Quine, it was significantly noted that the realm of de re modalities doesn’t include contingent and impossible inferences about things. Therefore, for him, (...) all the intrinsic forces and elements of entities such as powers and causal or teleological dispositions for ontology demand to be seen necessarily as bound variables from a monist perspective. Although his denial of analyticity and the elimination of dispositional field of ontology, S. Mumford criticizes the monist perspective of Quine’s paradoxical approach to superveniences. Because superveniences create problems while determining type-type identities from a monist mereological perspective. It is observed that Quine faces with a reduction again in terms of his dispositional monism despite his critiques to repulse vagueness from the ontology in his well-known article Two Dogmas of Empiricism. -/- . (shrink)
This is a proposal for rethinking the main lines of Plato’s philosophy, including some of the conceptual tools he uses for building and maintaining it. Drawing on a new interpretive paradigm for Plato’s overall vision, the central focus is on the so-called Forms. Regarding the guiding paradigm, we propose replacing the dualism of a world of Forms separated from a world of particulars, with the monistic model of a hierarchically structured universe comprising interdependent levels of reality. Regarding the tools of (...) the trade, we distinguish between three constructs that have come, one and all, and largely indiscriminately, to be regarded as Forms: Ideal Forms, Conceptual Forms, and Relational Forms. This recalibration of what we know of Plato’s outlook, tools, and methods, together with a realignment of these with his general aims, will also help restore the philosopher’s emphasis on that which is good, a perspective often blurred in the structure of two worlds. (shrink)