Presenting a selection of thirteen essays on various topics at the foundations of philosophy--one previously unpublished and eight accompanied by substantial new postscripts--this book offers outstanding insight on truth, meaning, and propositional attitudes; semantic indeterminacy and other kinds of "factual defectiveness;" and issues concerning objectivity, especially in mathematics and in epistemology. It will reward the attention of any philosopher interested in language, epistemology, or mathematics.
Science Without Numbers caused a stir in 1980, with its bold nominalist approach to the philosophy of mathematics and science. It has been unavailable for twenty years and is now reissued in a revised edition with a substantial new preface presenting the author's current views and responses to the issues raised in subsequent debate.
The paper tries to spell out a connection between deductive logic and rationality, against Harman's arguments that there is no such connection, and also against the thought that any such connection would preclude rational change in logic. One might not need to connect logic to rationality if one could view logic as the science of what preserves truth by a certain kind of necessity (or by necessity plus logical form); but the paper points out a serious obstacle to any such (...) view. (shrink)
There are quite a few theses about logic that are in one way or another pluralist: they hold (i) that there is no uniquely correct logic, and (ii) that because of this, some or all debates about logic are illusory, or need to be somehow reconceived as not straightforwardly factual. Pluralist theses differ markedly over the reasons offered for there being no uniquely correct logic. Some such theses are more interesting than others, because they more radically affect how we are (...) initially inclined to understand debates about logic. Can one find a pluralist thesis that is high on the interest scale, and also true? (shrink)
The paper outlines a view of normativity that combines elements of relativism and expressivism, and applies it to normative concepts in epistemology. The result is a kind of epistemological anti-realism, which denies that epistemic norms can be (in any straightforward sense) correct or incorrect; it does allow some to be better than others, but takes this to be goal-relative and is skeptical of the existence of best norms. It discusses the circularity that arises from the fact that we need to (...) use epistemic norms to gather the facts with which to evaluate epistemic norms; relatedly, it discusses how epistemic norms can rationally evolve. It concludes with some discussion of the impact of this view on "ground level" epistemology. (shrink)
What are people who disagree about logic disagreeing about? The paper argues that (in a wide range of cases) they are primarily disagreeing about how to regulate their degrees of belief. An analogy is drawn between beliefs about validity and beliefs about chance: both sorts of belief serve primarily to regulate degrees of belief about other matters, but in both cases the concepts have a kind of objectivity nonetheless.
The paper presents a kind of normative anti-realist view of epistemology, in the same ballpark as recent versions of expressivism. But the primary focus of the paper is less on this meta-epistemological view itself than on how it should affect ground-level issues in epistemology: for instance, how it should deal with certain forms of skepticism, and how it allows for fundamental revision in epistemic practices. It is hoped that these methodological consequences will seem attractive independent of the normative anti-realism. Indeed, (...) some normative realists seem to embrace the view on skepticism, but it is argued that their position is unstable: the realism undermines the methodology. The general theme of the paper is that the issue of normative realism is deeply entwined with issues of methodology, in strong contrast to the common claim that meta-epistemological views in the tradition of expressivism have no first order impact. (shrink)
Are there questions for which 'there is no determinate fact of the matter' as to which answer is correct? Most of us think so, but there are serious difficulties in maintaining the view, and in explaining the idea of determinateness in a satisfactory manner. The paper argues that to overcome the difficulties, we need to reject the law of excluded middle; and it investigates the sense of 'rejection' that is involved. The paper also explores the logic that is required if (...) we reject excluded middle, with special emphasis on the conditional. There is also discussion of higher order indeterminacy (in several different senses) and of penumbral connections; and there is a suggested definition of determinateness in terms of the conditional and a discussion of the extent to which the notion of determinateness is objective. And there are suggestions about a unified treatment of vagueness and the semantic paradoxes. (shrink)
Restricted quantification poses a serious and under-appreciated challenge for nonclassical approaches to both vagueness and the semantic paradoxes. It is tempting to explain as ; but in the nonclassical logics typically used in dealing with vagueness and the semantic paradoxes (even those where thend expect. If we’re going to use a nonclassical logic, we need one that handles restricted quantification better.
Any theory of truth must find a way around Curry’s paradox, and there are well-known ways to do so. This paper concerns an apparently analogous paradox, about validity rather than truth, which JC Beall and Julien Murzi call the v-Curry. They argue that there are reasons to want a common solution to it and the standard Curry paradox, and that this rules out the solutions to the latter offered by most “naive truth theorists.” To this end they recommend a radical (...) solution to both paradoxes, involving a substructural logic, in particular, one without structural contraction. In this paper I argue that substructuralism is unnecessary. Diagnosing the “v-Curry” is complicated because of a multiplicity of readings of the principles it relies on. But these principles are not analogous to the principles of naive truth, and taken together, there is no reading of them that should have much appeal to anyone who has absorbed the morals of both the ordinary Curry paradox and the second incompleteness theorem. (shrink)
1. Of what use is the concept of causation? Bertrand Russell [1912-13] argued that it is not useful: it is “a relic of a bygone age, surviving, like the monarchy, only because it is erroneously supposed to do no harm.” His argument for this was that the kind of physical theories that we have come to regard as fundamental leave no place for the notion of causation: not only does the word ‘cause’ not appear in the advanced sciences, but the (...) laws that these sciences state are incompatible with causation as we normally understand it. But Nancy Cartwright has argued  that abandoning the concept of causation would cripple science; her conclusion was based not on fundamental physics, but on more ordinary science such as the search for the causes of cancer. She argues that Russell was right that the fundamental theories of modern physics say nothing, even implicitly, about causation, and concludes on this basis that such theories are incomplete. It is with this cluster of issues that I will begin my discussion. (shrink)
The paper distinguishes two approaches to understanding the representational content of sentences and intentional states, and its role in describing people, predicting and explaining their behavior, and so forth. It sets forth the case for one of these approaches, the “egocentric” one, initially on the basis of its ability to explain the near-indefeasibility of ascriptions of content to our own terms, but more generally on the basis of its providing an attractive overall picture of the descriptive and explanatory role of (...) representational content. In doing this, the paper relates the egocentric view to an “immanent” or “deflationary” view of reference and truth conditions, and also to the view of reference-talk and truth-talk as anaphoric devices. It discusses the indeterminacy of content ascriptions to those in communities with radically different theories, a phenomenon that is unsurprising on the egocentric approach, and connects this to the thesis of the normativity of meaning. (shrink)
If properties are to play a useful role in semantics, it is hard to avoid assuming the naïve theory of properties: for any predicate Θ(x), there is a property such that an object o has it if and only if Θ(o). Yet this appears to lead to various paradoxes. I show that no paradoxes arise as long as the logic is weakened appropriately; the main difficulty is finding a semantics that can handle a conditional obeying reasonable laws without engendering paradox. (...) I employ a semantics which is infinite-valued, with the values only partially ordered. Can the solution be adapted to naïve set theory? Probably not, but limiting naïve comprehension in set theory is perfectly satisfactory, whereas this is not so in a property theory used for semantics. (shrink)
Bayesian decision theory can be viewed as the core of psychological theory for idealized agents. To get a complete psychological theory for such agents, you have to supplement it with input and output laws. On a Bayesian theory that employs strict conditionalization, the input laws are easy to give. On a Bayesian theory that employs Jeffrey conditionalization, there appears to be a considerable problem with giving the input laws. However, Jeffrey conditionalization can be reformulated so that the problem disappears, and (...) in fact the reformulated version is more natural and easier to work with on independent grounds. (shrink)
The naive theory of properties states that for every condition there is a property instantiated by exactly the things which satisfy that condition. The naive theory of properties is inconsistent in classical logic, but there are many ways to obtain consistent naive theories of properties in nonclassical logics. The naive theory of classes adds to the naive theory of properties an extensionality rule or axiom, which states roughly that if two classes have exactly the same members, they are identical. In (...) this paper we examine the prospects for obtaining a satisfactory naive theory of classes. We start from a result by Ross Brady, which demonstrates the consistency of something resembling a naive theory of classes. We generalize Brady’s result somewhat and extend it to a recent system developed by Andrew Bacon. All of the theories we prove consistent contain an extensionality rule or axiom. But we argue that given the background logics, the relevant extensionality principles are too weak. For example, in some of these theories, there are universal classes which are not declared coextensive. We elucidate some very modest demands on extensionality, designed to rule out this kind of pathology. But we close by proving that even these modest demands cannot be jointly satisfied. In light of this new impossibility result, the prospects for a naive theory of classes are bleak. (shrink)
The paper shows how we can add a truth predicate to arithmetic (or formalized syntactic theory), and keep the usual truth schema Tr( ) ↔ A (understood as the conjunction of Tr( ) → A and A → Tr( )). We also keep the full intersubstitutivity of Tr(>A>)) with A in all contexts, even inside of an →. Keeping these things requires a weakening of classical logic; I suggest a logic based on the strong Kleene truth tables, but with → (...) as an additional connective, and where the effect of classical logic is preserved in the arithmetic or formal syntax itself. Section 1 is an introduction to the problem and some of the difficulties that must be faced, in particular as to the logic of the →; Section 2 gives a construction of an arithmetically standard model of a truth theory; Section 3 investigates the logical laws that result from this; and Section 4 provides some philosophical commentary. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with the debate between substantival and relational theories of space-time, and discusses two difficulties that beset the relationalist: a difficulty posed by field theories, and another difficulty called the problem of quantities. A main purpose of the paper is to argue that possibility can not always be used as a surrogate of ontology, and that in particular that there is no hope of using possibility to solve the problem of quantities.
A correspondence theory of truth explains truth in terms of various correspondence relations (e.G., Reference) between words and the extralinguistic world. What are the consequences of quine's doctrine of indeterminacy for correspondence theories? in "ontological relativity" quine implicitly claims that correspondence theories are impossible; that is what the doctrine of 'relative reference' amounts to. But quine's doctrine of relative reference is incoherent. Those who think the indeterminacy thesis valid should not try to relativize reference, They should abandon the relation and (...) replace it by certain more general correspondence relations between words and extralinguistic objects. Doing so will not interfere with the task of defining truth in terms of correspondence relations. (shrink)