Nevertheless, despite whatever optimism about the future unification of sciences is justified, there are now, as there have been for centuries, difficult problems confronting the materialist. Perhaps the crucial problem concerns the status of sensations, a problem clearly evident as far back as Hobbes who said that sense is "some internal motion in the sentient, generated by some internal motion, of the parts of the object, and propagated through all the media to the innermost part of the organ." Here Hobbes (...) reduces sense to physical motion. But he is also found to say that sense is not motion, but "in all cases, is nothing else but original fancy," or, he says elsewhere, "phantasms" caused by internal motions. He is then directly faced with the problem of reconciling appearances and sensations with his avowed materialism. Neither Hobbes nor any one else has solved this problem, although there have recently been some novel and instructive attempts to do so. (shrink)
One thing that would profit both the frustrated readers of Sellars and Sellars himself would be a careful attempt to explicate and evaluate critically the many interrelated theses stated and defended by Sellars. But, so far as I know, there has been little work of this kind done. I know only of two fine reviews by Keith Lehrer and Gilbert Harman, and a very helpful expository article by Richard Bernstein that deal directly and in some detail with Sellars' work. This (...) is not to mention, however, the many philosophers, including myself, who have been influenced by his work. What I believe would be most helpful at this point would be a critique of some central thesis in Sellars' work, that is, an attempt to raise objections to this thesis and to refute the replies that can be anticipated, based upon other of Sellars' claims. This is what I shall try to do in this paper. My hope is that it will further the understanding of his complex philosophy, and help carry forward discussion of the philosophical issues involved. (shrink)
Widely used by instructors who emphasize the logical structure of philosophical theories and the dialectical play of argument, this popular work provides clear, reliable, and up-to-date discussions of central philosophical debates. The fourth edition incorporates major revisions--the first since 1982--and features an extensive change in content. Every chapter has been reworked to improve its organization, to make it more accessible and engaging to the student, and to reflect recent discussions.
Certain philosophers have held the thesis of the unity of science. As often conceived, the thesis has two parts: the thesis of physicalism and the thesis of extensionality. For each of these two parts there is an outstanding problem, i.e. the problem of intentionality and the problem of intensionality respectively. The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to make explicit the nature of these two problems, and second, to show to what extent they can be said to be the (...) same problem. Thus I am not at all interested here either to defend or attack this thesis or either of its parts. (shrink)
Some materialists argue that we can eliminate mental entities such as sensations because, like electrons, they are theoretical entities postulated as parts of scientific explanations, but, unlike electrons, they are unnecessary for such explanations. As Quine says, any explanatory role of mental entities can be played by "correlative physiological states and events instead." But sensations are not postulated theoretical entities. This is shown by proposing definitions of the related terms, 'observation term,' and 'theoretical term,' and then classifying the term 'sensation.' (...) The result is that although 'sensation' is a theoretical term, it is also a reporting term because it is used to refer to phenomena we are aware of. Consequently sensations are not postulated and cannot be eliminated merely because they are unnecessary for explanation. (shrink)
Defining "directly perceive" is made hard enough by the confused and vague ways in which philosophers have used the term, but it is made even more difficult by the fact that it is used quite differently by different philosophers. Two philosophers whose philosophy depends upon a clear understanding of direct perception are Berkeley and Russell. Consider what they say that is relevant to an understanding of their uses of the term. Berkeley, through Philonous, asks Hylas, "Are those things only perceived (...) by the senses which are perceived immediately? Or may those things properly be said to be ’sensible’ which are perceived mediately, or not without the intervention of others?" Russell, in speaking of knowledge by acquaintance, says that "we have acquaintance with anything of which we are directly aware, without the intermediary of any process of inference or any knowledge of truths. Thus in the presence of my table I am acquainted with the sense-data that make up the appearance of my table." Another quite common interpretation is given by Norman Malcolm, who states the definition "A directly perceives x if and only if A’s assertion that he perceives x could not be mistaken.". (shrink)
I have been interested for quite some time in the relevance of reference to ontology. Another who has shown equal interest is W. V. Quine. Surprisingly, because of many other disagreements, there is a large area in which we agree about reference and ontology, namely, that there is some reason to think that both are “inscrutable.” Not so surprisingly, there is a crucial point where we disagree, namely, concerning the relativity of reference and ontology. Although it is not clear, it (...) seems that Quine holds that both reference and ontology are relative to what he calls a “background language” in a way that results in metaphysical questions, as I describe them, being senseless or meaningless. He argues for this relativity from inscrutability. I, however, explain it by postulating that ontological problems and certain referential problems are in a certain sense, “external.” In this paper I propose to lay out what I take to be the relevance of reference to ontological problems, show where Quine’s claims of inscrutability agree with my view, clarify Quine’s claims about relativity, and finally show that, given the inscrutability we both find acceptable, it is reasonable to reject the relativity only Quine accepts. (shrink)