Psychological externalism is the thesis that the contents of many of a person's propositional mental states are determined in part by relations he bears to his natural and social environment. This thesis has recently been thrust into prominence in the philosophy of mind by a series of thought experiments due to Hilary Putnam and Tyler Burge. Externalism is a metaphysical thesis, but in this work I investigate its implications for the epistemology of the mental. I am primarily concerned with the (...) question whether externalism undermines the idea that a person typically knows the contents of her own thoughts, beliefs, and other propositional attitudes directly and authoritatively. I criticize arguments that have been advanced on behalf of a positive answer to this question, and argue that they rest on a faulty conception of the nature of first person authority, one which likens our access to our own minds to perception. An account of the basis of first person authority is sketched that locates our epistemic right to our self-ascriptions of propositional attitude not in our ability to discriminate among the various thought contents we might be thinking, but rather in our ability to express our thoughts, and to think with them in accordance with the norms of rationality. I consider also the question whether first person authority and externalism jointly make possible a refutation of certain forms of global skepticism, as has been famously argued by Putnam. I argue that Putnam's attempted refutation fails, because the crucial externalist claims that drive it are not knowable a priori. (shrink)
Chapter One THE PROBLEM OF BEING IN THE METAPHYSICS TO determine whether the notion of Being in Alexander of Hales is Aristotelian or Platonic, a recent historian seeks his criterion in "the gradual separation of the Aristotelian ...
I. An approach to the question of teleology in nature for Aristotle requires first of all a sufficiently clear understanding of the terms involved. In regard to the notion of teleology itself, there can hardly be any pertinent difficulty. The term is a modern one, and is quite definitely fixed in meaning by contemporary use. It seems to have been coined in eighteenth-century philosophical Latin to denote the study of final causes in nature. It became readily accepted in modern philosophical (...) vocabulary. Against this historical background it is commonly understood today to focus on “purposive or goal-directed activity.” In application to nature it assumes that purposive activity is present and asks how the activity is to be identified and described. The initial problem, accordingly, will lie not with the notion of teleology but rather with the other term, ‘nature’. (shrink)
My primary goal in this paper is to focus attention on a certain conception of internal access, on the Cartesian conception that a rational subject's capacity to determine sameness and difference in explicit propositional attitudes is independent of knowledge of the external world. This conception of introspection plays a crucial, if unacknowledged, role in numerous arguments and theoretical positions. In particular, it plays a large role in motivating psychological internalism. I argue in favor of rejecting this epistemology and the internalism (...) it supports. (shrink)
The relation between imagery and philosophy in the poem of Parmenides has occasioned much discussion in recent years. One item of particular import has been the direction taken by the journey that was so inspiringly pictured in the opening section. Is the travel upwards? Or is it downwards? Or is it rather cross-country, either aloft, or on the earth’s surface, or in the depths of the nether world? Further, if there is cross travel on any of these three levels, is (...) the direction from east to west, or from west to east? (shrink)
At a conference on ‘Leisure in Canada,’ held more than a decade ago at Montmorency in Quebec, a participant observed that ‘practically all writers on the subject take Aristotle as the point of departure in discussing leisure but seldom seem to move from that point.’ At first sight this statement may seem surprising. How is it to be understood? Certainly recent writers on leisure do in fact list Aristotle's conception as one of the significant positions on it.
There is a growing acceptance of the idea that the explanatory states of folk psychology do not supervene on the physical. Even Fodor (1987) seems to grant as much. He argues, however, that this cannot be true of theoretical psychology. Since theoretical psychology offers causal explanations, its explanatory states must be taxonomized in such a way as to supervene on the physical. I use this concession to invert his argument and cast doubt on the received model of folk psychological explanation (...) as causal explanation by intentionally individuated states. This in turn undermines the central model of cognitive theory--causal explanation by representational states. (shrink)
FIVE 'WAYS' TO PROVE THAT GOD EXISTS ARE OFFERED IN AQUINAS' "SUMMA OF THEOLOGY," ALL TAKEN FROM HISTORICALLY TRACEABLE SOURCES IN WHICH THEY DID NOT REACH THE CONCLUSION ENVISAGED BY HIM. 'WAYS' UP TO ELEVEN IN NUMBER ARE IN FACT USED IN HIS WORKS. ALL FUNCTION IN A STRICTLY METAPHYSICAL--NOT COSMOLOGICAL OR TELEOLOGICAL--FRAMEWORK THAT WAS DEVELOPED EARLY IN HIS CAREER. THE ANSELMIAN AND OTHER ARGUMENTS THAT CANNOT FIT INTO THAT FRAMEWORK ARE REJECTED OR LEFT UNNOTICED, WHILE THOSE THAT DO FIT (...) IN ARE ACCEPTED IN LINE WITH THE CONVENIENCE OF THE MOMENT. ACCORDINGLY THE NUMBER AND ORDER OF THE 'FIVE WAYS' MEAN NO MORE THAN A MOMENTARY CONVENIENCE OF THIS TYPE. (shrink)
DIFFICULTIES about existence have plagued Western thought since the time of Parmenides. The Eleatic sage had concentrated on what was most obvious and most incontrovertible to him, namely, that something exists. He made that tenet the way and the test of truth. From it he drew consequences that succeeding Greek thinkers from Empedocles to Plotinus accepted in part and rejected in part, intrigued by much of what he had stated but repelled by seeming enormities in some of his conclusions. Later, (...) the patristic acceptation of being as the most appropriate name for God gave additional complication to the issue. In modern times the Kantian and linguistic approaches have raised the questions how existence is a predicate and whether there is a concept of it, and if so, what kind of a concept. On the other hand, the impact of Heidegger has inspired renewed and often enthusiastic absorption in the important role played by existence in philosophical thought, and current contacts with Hindu philosophies are furthering this interest. (shrink)
These substances have been considered in recent times, as in traditional interpretation, to be identical with the immobile Movers of the Physics. Both Physics and Metaphysics refer to the same separate substances. On the other hand, the immobile Movers of the Physics have been identified with the immanent souls of the Heavens, and so sharply distinguished from the separate substances of the Metaphysics. Then in the opposite extreme, the Movers of the Metaphysics have been completely identified with the celestial souls. (...) Or again, the first only of the Movers has been declared separate, and the others identified with the different sphere-souls, among which is the first Mover of the Physics. In still another interpretation the first Mover alone is separate, but the other immobile Movers are held to be the divine thoughts, identical with the first Mover. Even the first Mover has been interpreted as a thought in the mind of some other Being, as merely an ideal or standard of goodness which does not imply--though it need not exclude--any corresponding existent reality in the Aristotelian universe. (shrink)
Explanation of cognition as a special way of being appears in Aristotle without traceable ancestry. Earlier, in Parmenides and in Empedocles, the notion that cognition is somehow equated with the physical constitution of the knower at any given moment had been put forward. But the now rather enigmatic fragments of those thinkers fail to show how this notion foreshadowed any new kind of being over and above the physical. In fact, would it not seem incongruous to use the term “being” (...) for something proposed by them in terms of change? ·. (shrink)
With its probative force drawn solely from premises accessible to the human mind's own inherent powers, Christian philosophy probes the divinely re- vealed truths under their naturally knowable aspects. From the apologetic or defensive angle, this type of philosophy is needed to meet rational queries- one's own or those of others-arising from religious doctrines, for instance from the tenets of creation, divine providence, immortality of the spiritual soul, or human destiny. On the positive side, Christian philosophy deepens the attraction of (...) revealed doctrines in a way comparable to the enhancement given them by architecture, music, art and poetry in actual Christian life. (shrink)