"the incorrigibility thesis", The thesis that it is logically impossible to be mistaken about such things as whether I am now in pain or am seeing or seeming to see something red, Is very widely supposed to be false. I consider the arguments designed to show this, And argue that they all fail.
This chapter (from Routledge's forthcoming handbook on the philosophy of pain) considers the question of whether people are always correct when they judge themselves to be in pain, or not in pain. While I don't show sympathy for traditional routes to the conclusion that people are "incorrigible" in their pain judgments, I explore--and perhaps even advocate--a different route to such incorrigibility. On this low road to incorrigibility, a sensory state's being judged unpleasant is what makes it a pain (...) (or not). (shrink)
This paper constitutes a thoroughgoing critique of Rorty's interesting attempt to characterize the mental and its elimination within materialism in terms of the incorrigibility of mental reports. I elucidate, criticize, and improve the concept of incorrigibility his position requires. Then I argue: that although mental-state reports are as corrigible as physical reports, this reflects contingent matters which do not affect the boundary of the mental and the physical; that even if the familiar paradigm mental-event reports are incorrigible, there (...) are mental events for which our language does not provide descriptions plausibly considered as incorrigible; even the familiar mental-event reports are not incorrigible which I show through examples that explain how and why persons maintain false beliefs about their most simple sensations, thoughts, indeed anything, I then suggest that Rorty’s conception of the triumph of materialism is simplistic and inadequate in a number of respects. Finally, I attempt to show how difficult if not impossible it is to define or eliminate the mental without presupposing it; in trying to get the barest sense of Rorty's materialist world, the mental forces itself into our mind at every turn. (shrink)
Suppose you want to live a happy life. Who should you turn to for advice? We normally think that we know best about our own happiness. But recent work in psychology and neuroscience suggests that we are often mistaken about our own natures, and that sometimes scientists know us better than we know ourselves. Does this mean that to live a happy life we should ask scientists for advice rather than relying on our introspection? In what follows, we highlight ways (...) in which the science of happiness could help us live happy lives, but we also argue that, in other ways, our navel gazing will remain indispensable. (shrink)
The traditional point of view on analyticity implies that truth in virtue only of meaning entails a priori acceptability and vice versa. The argument for this claim is based on the idea that meaning as it concerns truth and meaning as it concerns competence are one and the same thing. In this paper I argue that the extensions of these notions do not coincide. I hold that truth in virtue of meaning— truth for semantic reasons—doesn't imply a priori acceptability, and (...) that a priori reflection based only on knowledge of meaning—in the sense of competence—doesn't necessitate true conclusions.The main consequence of this view concerns conceptual analysis, as it presupposes we have a privileged—incorrigible in the face of empirical evidence—access to non-trivial truths about the world on the basis of mere a priori reflection founded on meaning. If, as I argue, such access is not incorrigible the project of conceptual analysis loses its special epistemological status. (shrink)
The most resounding expression of the truly unprecedented mobilizations of migrants throughout the United States in 2006 was a mass proclamation of collective defiance: ¡Aquí Estamos, y No Nos Vamos! [Here we are, and we're not leaving!]. This same slogan was commonly accompanied by a still more forcefully incorrigible rejoinder: ¡Y Si Nos Sacan, Nos Regresamos! [... and if they throw us out, we'll come right back!]. It is quite striking and, as this essay contends, not merely provocative but genuinely (...) productive to note the affinity between the crucial articulation of this radically open-ended politics of migrant presence with the similarly abject and profoundly destabilizing politics of queer presence. In a manner remarkably analogous to the slogan, "We're here, we're queer, get used to it!", the dynamic enunciation of these phrases in the context of the mass mobilizations of migrants asserted an irreducible spirit of irreverence and disaffection for state power. Both gestures unreservedly and unapologetically assert not only their irreversible presence, furthermore, but also uphold the intractable challenge of their own intrinsic incorrigibility. (shrink)
In the keynote essay, David Chalmers proposes that we explain consciousness by a non-reductive theory of experience which adds new basic principles to the laws of nature. This essay endorses Chalmers’ proposal but argues -- contrary to Chalmers -- that the principles of such a theory interfere with purely physical laws, since the principles entail violations of physical conservation laws. The essay argues that the qualified incorrigibility of the mental nonetheless provides compelling reason to opt for a non-reductive theory.