Linguistic expressions must be decrypted if they are to transmit information. Thoughts need not be decrypted if they are to transmit information. Therefore thought-processes do not consist of linguistic expressions: thought is not linguistic. A consequence is that thought is not computational, given that a computation is the operationalization of a function that assigns one expression to some other expression (or sequence of expressions).
One cannot have the concept of a red object without having the concept of an extended object. But the word "red" doesn't contain the word "extended." In general, our concepts are interconnected in ways in which the corresponding words are not interconnected. This is not an accidental fact about the English language or about any other language: it is inherent in what a language is that the cognitive abilities corresponding to a person's abilities to use words cannot possibly be reflected (...) in semantic relations holding among those words. This fact in its turn is a consequence of the fact that expressions are, whereas concepts are not, digital structures, for which reason the ways in which cognitive abilities interact cannot possibly bear any significant resemblance to the ways in which expressions interact. Consequently, there is no truth to the contention that our thought-processes are identical with, or bear any resemblance to, the digital computations that mediate computer-activity. (shrink)
Hume's attempt to show that deduction is the only legitimate form of inference presupposes that enumerative induction is the only non-deductive form of inference. In actuality, enumerative induction is not even a form of inference: all supposed cases of enumerative induction are disguised cases of Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE), so far as they aren't simply cases of mentation of a purely associative kind and, consequently, of a kind that is non-inductive and otherwise non-inferential. The justification for IBE lies (...) in two truths, each analytic, viz. that good explanations eliminate anomalies and, second, that anomaly-elimination is identical with discontinuity-elimination. Given these truisms, along with the empirical data to which even skeptics must grant that we have access, it follows that induction is truth-conducive, a corrollary being that skepticism with regard to the veridicality of our senses is indefensible. Hume's erroneous beliefs about non-deductive inference are consequences of his belief that the world has a digital, as opposed to an analogue, structure--of, in other words, his belief that the spatiotemporal manifold decomposes into minimal units. This belief of his is not only false, but analytically so, and its negation has the consequence--for reasons additional to the one already given---that many forms of skepticism are non-starters. It also has the consequence, later given empirical confirmation by the (apparent) truth of Relativity Theory, that spatiotemporal relations are causal relations. Finally, it has the consequence that, contrary to what Hume argues, there are instances of causation. Additional reinforcemet for this claim is shown to lie in a fact first identified by Kant, viz. that we couldn't even ask whether or not there were instances of causation unless there were in fact such instances. Other, similarly 'transcendental' arguments of Kant's are put forth, sometimes in a modified form, so as to buttress the anti-skeptical positions advocated in thsi paper. (shrink)
In order to understand a sentence, one must know the relevant semantic rules. Those rules are not learned in a vacuum; they are given to one through one's senses. As a result, knowledge of semantic rules sometimes comes bundled with semantically irrelevant, but cognitively non-innocuous, knowledge of the circumstances in which those rules were learned. Thus, one must work through non-semantic information in order to know what is literally meant by a given sentence-token. A consequence is that one's knowledge of (...) what is literally meant by a given sentence-token is sometimes embedded in non-semantic knowledge, resulting in a cleavage between what that sentence-token literally means and what the auditor in question takes it to mean. Such deviations obviously have nothing to do with the principles put forth by Grice, since those principles only concern sentence-tokens that have already been understood---since, to put it another way, those principles only concern post-semantic implicature. The just-described deviations are appropriately described as being due to "pre-semantic implicature." Given the phenomenon of pre-semantic implicature, it is easily shown that Russell's Theory of Descriptions, if taken as a theory of literal meaning, is false. In the present volume, these rather elementary principles are entirely ignored, and all of the articles in it are sterile repetitions of the points made by Russell and Strawson. The blinkered approach to language embodied in this volume must be reconsidered in light of psychological principles relating to language-acquisition and language-use. Unfortunately, analytic philosophers shy away from such topics, as is made clear by the papers in this grim volume. (shrink)
"Jim would still be alive if he hadn't jumped" means that Jim's death was a consequence of his jumping. "x wouldn't be a triangle if it didn't have three sides" means that x's having a three sides is a consequence its being a triangle. Lewis takes the first sentence to mean that Jim is still alive in some alternative universe where he didn't jump, and he takes the second to mean that x is a non-triangle in every alternative universe where (...) it doesn't have three sides. Why did Lewis have such obviously wrong views? Because, like so many of his contemporaries, he failed to grasp the truth that it is the purpose of the present paper to demonstrate, to wit: No coherent doctrine assumes that statements about possible worlds are anything other than statements about the dependence-relations governing our world. The negation of this proposition has a number of obviously false consequences, for example: all true propositions are necessarily true (there is no modal difference between "2+2=4" and "Socrates was bald"); all modal terms (e.g. "possible," "necessary") are infinitely ambiguous; there is no difference between laws of nature (e.g. "metal expands when heated") and accidental generalizations (e.g. "all of the coins in my pocket are quarters"); and there is no difference between the belief that 1+1=2 and the belief that arithmetic is incomplete. Given that possible worlds are identical with mathematical models, it follows that the concept of model-theoretic entailment is useless in the way of understanding how inferences are drawn or how they should be drawn. Given that the concept of formal-entailment is equally useless in these respects, it follows that philosophers and mathematicians have simply failed to shed any light on the nature of the consequence-relation. Q's being either a formal or a model-theoretic consequence of P is parasitic on its bearing some third, still unidentified relation to P; and until this relation has been identified, the discipline of philosophical logic has yet to begin. (shrink)
On the basis of arguments put forth by (Kripke, 1977a) and (Kripke, 1980), it is widely held that one can sometimes rationally accept propositions of the form "P and not-P" and also that there are necessary a posteriori truths. We will find that Kripke's arguments for these views appear probative only so long as one fails to distinguish between semantics and presemantics—between the literal meanings of sentences, on the one hand, and the information on the basis of which one identifies (...) those literal meanings, on the other. This same failure, it will be argued, underlies the popular thesis that intersubstituting co-referring terms sometimes turns true sentences into false ones and vice versa. Though seemingly plausible, this thesis has a number of counterintuitive consequences, among them that the occurrence of “snow” in “it is true that snow is white” doesn’t refer to snow. An understanding of the distinction between semantics and presemantics suggests a way to develop a semantic system that doesn’t have these consequences and that, moreover, reconciles our intuitions concerning cognitive content with some powerfully argued theses of contemporary philosophy of language. Some of this paper's main contentions are anticipated by Andrzej Boguslawski in his 1994 paper “Sentential Complementation and Truth.”. (shrink)
According to the computational theory of mind , to think is to compute. But what is meant by the word 'compute'? The generally given answer is this: Every case of computing is a case of manipulating symbols, but not vice versa - a manipulation of symbols must be driven exclusively by the formal properties of those symbols if it is qualify as a computation. In this paper, I will present the following argument. Words like 'form' and 'formal' are ambiguous, as (...) they can refer to form in either the syntactic or the morphological sense. CTM fails on each disambiguation, and the arguments for CTM immediately cease to be compelling once we register that ambiguity. The terms 'mechanical' and 'automatic' are comparably ambiguous. Once these ambiguities are exposed, it turns out that there is no possibility of mechanizing thought, even if we confine ourselves to domains where all problems can be settled through decision-procedures. The impossibility of mechanizing thought thus has nothing to do with recherché mathematical theorems, such as those proven by Gödel and Rosser. A related point is that CTM involves, and is guilty of reinforcing, a misunderstanding of the concept of an algorithm. (shrink)
A consequence of Russell's Theory of Descriptions is that non-indicative sentences (questions and imperatives) either have meanings that are obviously distinct from their actual meanings, even after all pragmatic and contextual variables are allowed for, or are categorically non-sensical. Therefore, the Theory of Descriptions is false.
Ordinarily counterfactuals are seen as making statements about states of aﬀairs, albeit ones that hold in merely possible or alternative worlds. Thus analyzed, nearly all counterfactuals turn out to be incoherent. Any counterfactual, thus analyzed, requires that there be a metaphysically (not just epistemically) possible world w where the laws are the same as here, and where almost all of the facts are the same as here. (The factual diﬀerences relate to the antecedent and consequent of the counter-factual.) But, as (...) I show, this requirement typically involves the positing of worlds whose necessary non-existence can be shown by fairly elementary deductions. Further, the possible-worlds analysis of counterfactuals is guilty of covert circularity. For, thus analyzed, counterfactuals can only be understood in terms of laws of nature (the laws that apply here are assumed in the hypothetical world - except in the atypical case where the counterfactual is also a counter-nomic). But the concept of a law cannot itself be deﬁned except in terms of the notion of a counterfactual (a law is given by a counterfactual-supporting proposition). I give a purely epistemic analysis of counterfactuals, arguing that they are crypto-probability propositions. I also argue that the relevant kind of probability can be deﬁned wholly in terms of what has happened (not what would happen and not even what must happen in a nomic sense). So my analysis isn’t guilty of any kind of circularity. (shrink)
A series of representations must be semantics-driven if the members of that series are to combine into a single thought: where semantics is not operative, there is at most a series of disjoint representations that add up to nothing true or false, and therefore do not constitute a thought at all. A consequence is that there is necessarily a gulf between simulating thought, on the one hand, and actually thinking, on the other. A related point is that a popular doctrine (...) - the so-called 'computational theory of mind' (CTM) - is based on a confusion. CTM is the view that thought-processes consist in 'computations', where a computation is defined as a 'form-driven' operation on symbols. The expression 'form-driven operation' is ambiguous, as it may refer either to syntax-driven operations or to morphology-driven operations. Syntax-driven operations presuppose the existence of operations that are driven by semantic and extra-semantic knowledge. So CTM is false if the terms 'computation' and 'form-driven operation' are taken to refer to syntax-driven operations. Thus, if CTM is to work, those expressions must be taken to refer to morphology-driven operations. CTM therefore fails, given that an operation must be semantics-driven if it is to qualify as a thought. CTM therefore fails on each possible disambiguation of the expressions 'formal operation' and 'computation,' and it is therefore false. (shrink)
The semantic rules governing natural language quantifiers (e.g. "all," "some," "most") neither coincide with nor resemble the semantic rules governing the analogues of those expressions that occur in the artificial languages used by semanticists. Some semanticists, e.g. Peter Strawson, have put forth data-consistent hypotheses as to the identities of the semantic rules governing some natural-language quantifiers. But, despite their obvious merits, those hypotheses have been universally rejected. In this paper, it is shown that those hypotheses are indeed correct. Moreover, data-consistent (...) hypotheses are put forth as to the identities of the semantic rules governing the words "most" and "many," the semantic rules governing which semanticists have thus far been unable to identify. The points made in this paper are anticipated in a paper, published in the same issue of the Journal of Pragmatics, by Andrzej Boguslawski. (shrink)
Sense-perceptions do not have to be deciphered if their contents are to be uploaded, the reason being that they are presentations, not representations. Linguistic expressions do have to be deciphered if their contents are to be uploaded, the reason being that they are representations, not presentations. It is viciously regressive to suppose that information-bearing mental entities are categorically in the nature of representations, as opposed to presentations, and it is therefore incoherent to suppose that thought is mediated by expressions or, (...) therefore, by linguistic entities. Attempts to neutralize this criticism inevitably overextend the concept of what it is to be a linguistic symbol, the result being that such attempts eviscerate the very position that it is their purpose to defend. Also, it is inherent in the nature of such attempts that they assume the truth of the view that for a given mental entity to bear this as opposed to that information is for that entity to have this as opposed to that causal role. This view is demonstrably false, dooming to failure the just-mentioned attempts to defend the contention that thought is in all cases mediated by linguistic symbols. (shrink)
The meaning of morpheme (a minimal unit of linguistic significance) cannot diverge from what it is taken to mean. But the meaning of a complex expression can diverge without limit from what it is taken to mean, given that the meaning of such an expression is a logical consequence of the meanings of its parts, coupled with the fact that people are not infallible ratiocinators. Nonetheless, given Chomsky’s distinction between competence (ability) and performance (ability to deploy ability), what a complex (...) expression means does, after a fashion, coincide with what it is taken to mean: to the extent that speaker-performance approximates to speaker-competence---i.e. to the extent that people are able to operationalize their linguistic competence---what speakers take complex expressions to mean coincides with they in fact mean; and herein lies an answer to the question “what is linguistic meaning?” that holds with respect to both simple and complex expressions. (shrink)
According to a popular doctrine known as "intentionalism," two experiences must have different representational contents if they have different phenomenological contents, in other words, what they represent must differ if what they feel like differs. Were this position correct, the representational significance of a given affect (or 'quale'---plural 'qualia'--to use the preferred term), e.g. a tickle, would be fixed: what it represented would not be a function of the subject's beliefs, past experiences, or other facts about his past or present (...) psychological condition. To be sure, many a quale has a significance; but it is never a quale's intrinsic properties that assign it that significance, it being quale-external facts about the subject's psychological composition that do so. (An example of such a fact would be a belief on the subject's part to the effect that relevantly similar qualia are consistent with arthritis.). (shrink)
A person with one dollar is poor. If a person with n dollars is poor, then so is a person with n + 1 dollars. Therefore, a person with a billion dollars is poor. True premises, valid reasoning, a false a conclusion. This is an instance of the Sorites-paradox. (There are infinitely many such paradoxes. A man with an IQ of 1 is unintelligent. If a man with an IQ of n is unintelligent, so is a man with an IQ (...) of n+1. Therefore a man with an IQ of 200 is unintelligent.) Most attempts to solve this paradox reject some law of classical logic, usually the law of bivalence. I show that this paradox can be solved while holding on to all the laws of classical logic. Given any predicate that generates a Sorites-paradox, significant use of that predicate is actually elliptical for a relational statement: a significant token of "Bob is poor" means that Bob is poor compared to x, for some value of x. Once a value of x is supplied, a definite cutoff line between having and not having the paradox-generating predicate is supplied. This neutralizes the inductive step in the associated Sorites argument, and the would-be paradox is avoided. (shrink)
Kripke made a good case that “…the phi…” is not semantically ambiguous between referential and attributive meanings, and many semanticists agree with Kripke. Russell says that “…the phi…” is always to be analyzed attributively. Agreeing with Kripke that “…the phi…” is not ambiguous, many semanticists have tried to give a Russellian analysis of the referential-attributive distinction: the gross deviations between what is communicated by “…the phi..”, on the one hand, and what Russell’s theory says it literally means, on the other, (...) are chalked up to implicature. This paper shows that, when the phenomenon of implicature is scrutinized, there is overwhelming reason to doubt that a Russellian analysis can succeed. A positive, non-Russellian analysis is proposed: it is shown that, if deﬁnite descriptions are treated as referring expressions, it is easy to deal with the referential-attributive distinction. When “…the phi…” is functioning attributively, the deﬁnite description is seen as referring to some object described in an understood, antecedent existence claim. (shrink)
It is often said that (M) "mind is an emergent property of matter." M is ambiguous, the reason being that, for all x and y, "x is an emergent property of y" has two distinct and mutually opposed meanings, namely: (i) x is a product of y (in the sense in which a chair is the product of the activity of a furniture-maker); and (ii) y is either identical or constitutive of x, but, relative to the information available at a (...) given time t, x-statements are not analytic consequences of y-statements. If M is taken to mean that matter produces mind, then M is false, since biological activity obviously mediates mental activity and is therefore either identical with it or constitutive of it. If M is taken to mean that statements about mind are not analytic consequences of statements about matter, then M, though true with respect to the ontological relationship with between physical objects and the mental objects mediated thereby, says nothing about how statements about the physical bear on statements about the mental. This is a consequence of the fact that it is truths that are explained, not objects. (It is truths about trees, and not the tree per se, that are explained: one explains why the tree is tall, why the tree can't survive if the drought continues, etc.) So supposing that M is taken to mean that, relative to the information available at a given time, psychological truths are not derivable from non-psychological truths, then M is to the effect that, at that time, it isn't known how, or even whether, truths of the first kind bear on those of the second, in which case M is to the effect that it isn't known how to explain the mental in terms of the physical. Thus, depending on how it is disambiguated, M is either false or devoid of content. Further, as Hempel (1965) made clear, if M is taken to mean that, at a given time, statements about the mental cannot be deduced from statements about the physical, then it is ipso facto being left open whether, at some later time, relative to a more comprehensive data-set, statements about the mental are deducible from statements about the physical. A consequence of this, as Hempel stated, is that, if M is disambiguated in the second way, it is not to the effect that statements about the mental are incapable of being deduced from statements about the physical, and is instead to the effect that, at the time M is affirmed, it simply isn't known whether, or therefore how, such a deduction can be carried. And this establishes---what has already been established on independent grounds---that M is devoid of content if interpreted as a thesis concerning the way in which statements about the physical bear on---or, a fortiori, are explanatory of---statements about the mental. Thus, the statement that "mind is an emergent property of matter" is vacuous, so far as it isn't false. (shrink)
Ontologically, brains are more basic than mental representations. Epistemologically, mental representations are more basic than brains and, indeed, all other non-mental entities: it is, and must be, on the basis of mental representations that we know anything about non-mental entities. Since, consequently, mental representations are epistemically more fundamental than brains, the former cannot possibly be explained in terms of the latter, notwithstanding that the latter are ontologically more fundamental than the former. There is thus an explanatory gap, notwithstanding the presumptive (...) truth of materialism. (shrink)
If S is any well-formed and significant question or command having the form "...the phi...", Russell's Theory of Descriptions entails (i) that S is syntactically ambiguous, and (ii) that there is at least one disambiguation of S that is syntactically ill-formed. Given that each of (i) and (ii) is false, so is the Theory of Descriptions.
According to Russell, '... the phi ...' means: 'exactly one object has phi and ... that object ...'. Strawson pointed out that, if somebody asked how many kings of France there were, it would be deeply inappropriate to respond by saying '... the king of France ...': the respondent appears to be presupposing the very thing that, under the circumstances, he ought to be asserting. But it would seem that if Russell's theory were correct, the respondent would be asserting exactly (...) what he was asked to assert. So Russell's theory wrongly predicts that the respondent's answer will be appropriate. Russellians deal with this by saying that this anti-Russellian intuition embodies our reaction not to what is semantically encoded in the respondent's words, but to what is pragmatically imparted by them. So Russell's theory is correct: the fact that it appears wrong is due to the distorting effects of pragmatics. In this paper I show that pragmatic phenomena cannot possibly be responsible for the just mentioned anti-Russellian intuition. No matter how hard we try to put the blame on pragmatics, Russell's theory still falls short. It follows that defi nite descriptions really are what they appear to be: referring expressions. I argue that defi nite descriptions are complex demonstratives; and, within that framework, I deal with cases where defi nite descriptions appear to be functioning non-referentially. I also solve Frege's puzzle within the framework defi ned by my treatment of defi nite descriptions taken in conjunction with Kripke-Kaplan semantics. (shrink)
According to one point of view, emotions are recognitions of truths of a certain kind -- most probably valuative truths (truths to the effect that something is good or bad). After giving the standard arguments for this view, and also providing a new argument of my own for it, I set forth two arguments against it. First, this position makes all emotions be epistemically right or wrong. But this view is hard to sustain where certain emotions (especially desire) are concerned. (...) Second, this position is guilty of presupposing what it is meant to explain; for it makes emotions be a pre-requisite for the very value judgments with which emotions are supposed, according to that theory, to be identical. (shrink)
This paper puts forth two reasons to hold that at least some mental entities are not physical entities. First argument: Some mental entities (namely, pains and other qualia) cannot possibly differ from how they seem to be, and since this cannot possibly be true of any non-mental entity, it follows that some mental entities are not physical. Second argument: It is necessarily on theoretical grounds, as opposed to strictly experiential grounds, that mental entities are identified with physical entities. Water is (...) legitimately believed to consist of microparticles of a certain kind because there is independent reason to believe that entities relevantly similar to such particles, supposing them to exist, are relevantly similar to water, so far as the latter can be directly observed. It is not, nor could it possibly be, on the basis of some directly observed concomitance between molecule-activity and water-activity that we believe the former to constitute the latter. It obviously isn't on the basis of any directly observed concomitance between brain-activity and mental-activity that the former is believed to mediate the latter. At the same time, there cannot possibly be any other legitimate basis for that belief. The reason for this is that nothing relevantly similar to mental activity can possibly be observed to accompany anything relevantly similar to brain activity. And the reason for the latter fact is that, even if brain-activity and mental-activity occur in the same physical space, they occur in different data-spaces: when you experience a pain, it is not given to you as occurring in the same spatial manifold as the falling of a stone or any other physical event. In general, mental events, whether or not they in fact have spatial coordinates, cannot possibly be observed (experienced) as having such coordinates, and for this reason they cannot be observed as having the same coordinates as brain-events. Thus, there can be no reason to grant the existence of the concomitances whose existence is needed to legitimate the bridge principles on the basis of which the mental could legitimately be identified with the physical. Note on the second argument: This argument doesn't show that the mental is non-physical; it shows only that there cannot possibly be any justification for the belief that the mental to be physical or, at any rate, that, if there is such a justification, it isn't comparable to the justification for the belief that water consists of molecules. (shrink)
We are aware of truths (e.g. the truth that the shoes I'm now wearing are uncomfortably tight) and also of states of affairs (e.g. the uncomfortable tightness of said shoes). My awareness of the tightness of my shoes---not, be it emphasized, of the corresponding truth, but of the shoe-related mass-energy-distribution underlying that truth---is an instance, not of truth-awareness, but of fact-awareness or, as I prefer to put, object-awareness. The aforementioned truth-awareness corresponding to that object-awareness is the result of my conceptualizing (...) that object-awareness. The distinction between truth-awareness, which is conceptual, and object-awareness, which is non-conceptual, is often overlooked. Because self-knowledge originally consists of object-awarenesses, only later taking the form of truth-awarenesses, a failure to distinguish between object- and truth-awareness has led many to advocate the false contention that self-conscious creatures, such as ourselves, can be categorically mistaken as to what it is that they are consciously experiencing. In this paper, it is argued that, once the distinction between object- and truth-awareness is taken into account, the mistaken judgments that people make as to their conscious conditions embody erroneous conceptualizations of veridical awarenesses of said conditions. (shrink)
Kripke made a good case that “…the phi…“ is not semantically ambiguous between referential and attributive meanings. Russell says that “…the phi…“ is always to be analyzed attributively. Many semanticists, agreeing with Kripke that “…the phi…“ is not ambiguous, have tried to give a Russellian analysis of the referential-attributive distinction: the gross deviations between what is communicated by “…the phi..“, on the one hand, and what Russell's theory says it literally means, on the other, are chalked up to implicature. This (...) paper shows that, when the phenomenon of implicature is scrutinized, there is overwhelming reason to doubt that a Russellian analysis can succeed. A positive, non-Russellian analysis is proposed: it is shown that, if definite descriptions are treated as referring expressions, it is easy to deal with the referential-attributive distinction. When “…the phi…“ is functioning attributively, the definite description is seen as referring to some object described in an understood, antecedent existence claim. (shrink)
The modern age has not given rise to any new psychopathologies. But modern social configurations have withdrawn some of the constraints that in times past inhibited the development of latent psychopathology.
It is said what aggregative properties are and also what emergent properties are, and examples are given each of kind of property. It is also explained why, even though all emergent properties are aggregative properties, not all aggregative properties are emergent properties. It is further made clear that, strictly speaking, emergence is a property of one's knowledge of a given kind of aggregate, and not of such aggregates themselves, this being why a property that is emergent at one time will, (...) when additional information becomes available, cease to be emergent. And it is explained why, for this very reason, the right answer to the question 'why does X exist?' is never 'because X is an emergent property.'. (shrink)
This book answers three questions: (i) What is it for a statement to be analytically true? (ii) What is a priori knowledge? (How does it differ from inherited empirical knowledge? And how does it differ from acquired conceptual (non-empirical) knowledge, such as one's knowledge that not all continuous functions are differentiable?). (iii) Do we have a priori knowledge? It is shown that content-externalism is an 'epistemologicization' of the (logically, not psychologically) innocuous fact that, if a sentence S of natural language (...) expresses a multiply quantified generalization, S also expresses each quantified generalization obtained by permuting the quantifiers in it. It is also shown that, through judicious usage of Kaplan's dthat-operator, the shred of truth in content externalism can be reconciled with the datum that, in virtue of having a given representational content R, a mental state M has causal powers that it would not otherwise have. And it is thereby shown how to reconcile content-externalism, so far as the latter is true, with the legitimacy of individualist approaches to psychology. Finally, it is shown that content-externalism embodies a crude and false conception of the nature of the relationship between the literal meanings of linguistic expressions, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the contents of the thoughts underlying our usage of such expressions. More precisely, content-externalism presupposes that literal meaning and cognitive content are in lockstep with each other; which, it is shown, is not the case and---what is also shown---only appears to be the case because of a failure on the part of semanticists to know where to draw the line between semantics and pragmatics. (shrink)
According to David Hume, there is nothing to the mind other than the various fleeting events that it hosts. According to commonsense, this is false. But the commonsense view has never been meaningfully elaborated. This short work states an analysis of personal identity that combines Hume's position with the position, so far as there is one, of commonsense, thereby giving much needed substance to the latter.
Contemporary philosophy and theoretical psychology are dominated by an acceptance of content-externalism: the view that the contents of one's mental states are constitutively, as opposed to causally, dependent on facts about the external world. In the present work, it is shown that content-externalism involves a failure to distinguish between semantics and pre-semantics---between, on the one hand, the literal meanings of expressions and, on the other hand, the information that one must exploit in order to ascertain their literal meanings. It is (...) further shown that, given the falsity of content-externalism, the falsity of the Computational Theory of Mind (CTM) follows. It is also shown that CTM involves a misunderstanding of terms such as "computation," "syntax," "algorithm," and "formal truth." Novel analyses of the concepts expressed by these terms are put forth. These analyses yield clear, intuition-friendly, and extensionally correct answers to the questions "what are propositions?, "what is it for a proposition to be true?", and "what are the logical and psychological differences between conceptual (propositional) and non-conceptual (non-propositional) content?" Naively taking literal meaning to be in lockstep with cognitive content, Burge, Salmon, Falvey, and other semantic externalists have wrongly taken Kripke's correct semantic views to justify drastic and otherwise contraindicated revisions of commonsense. (Salmon: What is non-existent exists; at a given time, one can rationally accept a proposition and its negation. Burge: Somebody who is having a thought may be psychologically indistinguishable from somebody who is thinking nothing. Falvey: somebody who rightly believes himself to be thinking about water is psychologically indistinguishable from somebody who wrongly thinks himself to be doing so and who, indeed, isn't thinking about anything.) Given a few truisms concerning the differences between thought-borne and sentence-borne information, the data is easily modeled without conceding any legitimacy to any one of these rationality-dismantling atrocities. (It thus turns out, ironically, that no one has done more to undermine Kripke's correct semantic points than Kripke's own followers!). (shrink)
It is shown that moral relativism ('morality is culture-specific') and moral conventionalism ('moral laws are agreements among people as to how to behave') both presuppose the truth of moral realism and are therefore false. It is also shown that every attempt to trivialize moral truth or to prove its non-existence is inconsistent with the fact that moral statements have the same truth-conditions as biological statements.
Even though the world is governed by laws, human beings are able to be free. In fact, there is no difference between being genuinely free and having a distinctively human psychological architecture. But self-deception and rationalization can result in the replacement of actual beliefs with operational pseudo-beliefs. When this happens, the result is a sociopathic pseudo-person. The difference between a sociopath and a psychopath is that, whereas the sociopath once had a distinctively human psychological architecture, the psychopath never developed such (...) an architecture to begin with. Thus, whereas the sociopath's personality is that of an ossified human, the psychopath has no real personality to speak of. What the psychopath lacks in the way of an actual identity, he replaces with narratives, the primary function of which is to give a semblance of cohesiveness to his otherwise gelatinous psyche, and a secondary function of which is to defraud others. But the psychopath's tendency to defraud others is merely a way of providing external reinforcement for his flimsy narrative-based faux-identity. (shrink)
In this fictitious dialogue, it is shown that there are three kinds of freedom, each of which, though non-trivially different from the other two, is identical with the subject's being appropriately constitutive of a causally cohesive structure of some kind or other. Analogues of this point are proven to hold not just of personal freedom, but also of personal identity, and not just of personal identity, but also of objectual identity.
Alan Turing advocated a kind of functionalism: A machine M is a thinker provided that it responds in certain ways to certain inputs. Davidson argues that Turing’s functionalism is inconsistent with a cer-tain kind of epistemic externalism, and is therefore false. In Davidson’s view, concepts consist of causal liasons of a certain kind between subject and object. Turing’s machine doesn’t have the right kinds of causal li-asons to its environment. Therefore it doesn’t have concepts. Therefore it doesn’t think. I argue (...) that this reasoning is entirely fallacious. It is true that, in some cases, a causal liason between subject and object is part of one’s concept of that object. Consequently, to grasp certain propositions, one must have certain kids of causal ties to one’s environment. But this means that we must rethink some old views on what rationality is. It does not mean, pace Davidson, that a precondition for being rational is being causally embedded in one’s environment in a certain way. If Tur-ing’s machine isn’t capable of thinking, that has nothing to do with its lacking certain kinds of causal con-nections to the environment. The larger significance of our discussion is this: rationality consists either in one’s ability to see the bearing of purely existential propositions on one another or rationality is simply not to be understood as the ability see the bearing that propositions have on one another. (shrink)
This volume identifies the different ways in which one event can compel the occurrence of another event and on this basis identifies important facts about the nature of probability and probabilistic inference.