This is a review of Kathrin Gluer's Donald Davidson: A Short Introduction. A dispute about the grounding of the Principle of Charity is discussed, and some resources Davidson has for responding to a criticism of his theory of action.
ExcerptThis article compares two fairly recent autobiographical works about the experiences of two highly publicized global disasters: Josef Haslinger's Phi Phi Island: Ein Bericht (2004) and Kathrin Röggla's really ground zero: 11. september und folgendes (2001). Röggla was in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001. Haslinger was a victim of the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, where he vacationed with his family. Both tell stories that are at once intensely personal, relating threats to the narrator's very existence, and decidedly public, (...) as the events in question were broadcast around the world and subject to prolific media commentary and overwhelming visual representation. (shrink)
In this book, Kathrin Gl¨uer carefully outlines Donald Davidson's principal claims and arguments, and discusses them in some detail, providing a concise, systematic introduction to all the main elements of Davidson's philosophy.
Introduction to a collection of essays that celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Quine's paper "Two Dogmas of Empiricism". Contributor: Herbert Schnädelbach, Paul A. Boghossian, Kathrin Glüer, Verena Mayer, Christian Nimtz, Åsa Maria Wikforss, Hans-Johann Glock, Peter Pagin, Tyler Burge, Geert Keil und Donald Davidson.
Ce texte a déjà paru dans la revue Philosophique, 11 | 2008, 79-96 et mis en ligne ici. Nous remercions Kathrin H. Rosenfield de nous avoir autorisé à le reproduire sur RHUTHMOS. On sait qu'Hölderlin s'est délibérément opposé à la « conception régnante par rapport au monde Grec » et au classicisme de Weimar qui voit Sophocle comme le modèle de la mesure rationnelle. Déjà Hellingrath et Beissner ont signalé qu'il accentue « l'enthousiasme excentrique », c'est-à-dire, les - XVIIIe (...) siècle – Nouvel article. (shrink)
Literary Nonfiction. Philosophy. Winner of the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Award. Translated from the German by Michael Eskin. In this penetrating, thought-provoking, and deeply personal philosophical meditation on the death of the beloved other and the turmoil into which it throws those who were close to him, philosopher Kathrin Stengel opens hitherto unseen vistas onto one of the most painful human experiences. The author's ruthless clarity of observation, coupled with razor-sharp philosophical intuition and unflinching honesty of judgment, allows her (...) to pinpoint the personal and social complexities of life after death in a way that cannot but make us doubt some of our common practices in dealing with death and survival. Kathrin Stengel, Ph.D., is a philosopher residing in New York City with her husband and their three sons. Also available from SPD is the German language edition of this text, NOVEMBER-ROSE: EINE REDE UEBER DEN TOD. (shrink)
The objects we encounter in ordinary life and scientific practice - cars, trees, people, houses, molecules, galaxies, and the like - have long been a fruitful source of perplexity for metaphysicians. The Structure of Objects gives an original analysis of those material objects to which we take ourselves to be committed in our ordinary, scientifically informed discourse. Koslicki focuses on material objects in particular, or, as metaphysicians like to call them "concrete particulars", i.e., objects which occupy a single region of (...) space-time at each time at which they exist and which have a certain range of properties that go along with space-occupancy, such as weight, shape, color, texture, and temperature. The Structure of Objects focuses in particular on the question of how the parts of such objects, assuming that they have parts, are related to the wholes which they compose. (shrink)
As meaning's claim to normativity has grown increasingly suspect the normativity thesis has shifted to mental content. In this paper, we distinguish two versions of content normativism: 'CE normativism', according to which it is essential to content that certain 'oughts' can be derived from it, and 'CD normativism', according to which content is determined by norms in the first place. We argue that neither type of normativism withstands scrutiny. CE normativism appeals to the fact that there is an essential connection (...) between content and correctness conditions. But, we argue, this fact is by itself normatively innocent, and attempts to add a normative dimension via the normativity of belief ultimately fail. CD normativism, in turn, falls prey to the 'dilemma of regress and idleness': the appeal to rules either leads to some form of regress of rules, or the notion of rule-following is reduced to an idle label. We conclude by suggesting that our arguments do not support naturalism: it is a mistake to assume that normativism and naturalism are our only options. (shrink)
After many years of enduring the drought and famine of Quinean ontology and Carnapian meta-ontology, the notion of ground, with its distinctively philosophical flavor, finally promises to give metaphysicians something they can believe in again and around which they can rally: their very own metaphysical explanatory connection which apparently cannot be reduced to, or analyzed in terms of, other familiar idioms such as identity, modality, parthood, supervenience, realization, causation or counterfactual dependence. Often, phenomena such as the following are cited as (...) putative examples of grounding connections: systematic connections between entire realms of facts (mental/physical; moral/natural; etc.); truthmaking (e.g., the relation between the truth of the proposition that snow is white and snow’s being white); logical cases (e.g., the connection between conjunctive facts or disjunctive facts and their constituent facts); the determinate/determinable relation (e.g., the relation between something’s being maroon and its being red). I argue in this paper that classifying all of these phenomena as exhibiting grounding connections does not achieve much in the way of illumination. In fact, by treating a collection of phenomena which is in fact heterogeneous as though it were homogeneous, we have, if anything, taken a dialectical step backward. (shrink)
In my book Four-dimensionalism (chapter 4, section 9), I argued that fourdimensionalism – the doctrine of temporal parts – follows from several other premises, chief among which is the premise that existence is never vague. Kathrin Koslicki (preceding article) claims that the argument fails since its crucial premise is unsupported, and is dialectically inappropriate to assume in the context of arguing for four-dimensionalism. Since the relationship between four-dimensionalism and the non-vagueness of existence is not perfectly transparent, I think the (...) argument would retain some interest even if the premise were wholly unsupported; it would show that anyone who accepts that premise (which seems reasonable enough to me though perhaps not to others) must accept four-dimensionalism. Still, Koslicki is right that my defense of the premise was thin. So I will now try to do better. The new defense will have further premises, which could ultimately be rejected by opponents of four-dimensionalism, and so the argument retains the form: anyone who thinks certain things (which seem reasonable enough to me though perhaps not to others) must believe four-dimensionalism. But that’s metaphysics for you. I should also say that, in addition to the material on vague existence, there is more in Koslicki’s excellent paper which I cannot discuss here. I agree with much of it;1 and where we disagree there are formidable challenges, some of which I hope to address in the future. (shrink)
Today, many philosophers think that perceptual experiences are conscious mental states with representational content and phenomenal character. Subscribers to this view often go on to construe experience more precisely as a propositional attitude sui generis ascribing sensible properties to ordinary material objects. I argue that experience is better construed as a kind of belief ascribing 'phenomenal' properties to such objects. A belief theory of this kind deals as well with the traditional arguments against doxastic accounts as the sui generis view. (...) Moreover, in contrast to sui generis views, it can quite easily account for the rational or reason providing role of experience. (shrink)
In a recent article, I criticized Kathrin Glüer and Åsa Wikforss's so-called “no guidance argument” against the truth norm for belief, for conflating the conditions under which that norm recommends belief with the psychological state one must be in to apply the norm. In response, Glüer and Wikforss have offered a new formulation of the no guidance argument, which makes it apparent that no such conflation is made. However, their new formulation of the argument presupposes a much too narrow (...) understanding of what it takes for a norm to influence behaviour, and betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the point of the truth norm. Once this is taken into account, it becomes clear that the no guidance argument fails. (shrink)
A significant reorientation is currently under way in analytic metaphysics, away from an almost exclusive focus on questions of existence and towards a greater concentration on questions concerning the dependence of one type of phenomenon on another. Surprisingly, despite the central role dependence has played in philosophy since its inception, interest in a systematic study of this concept has only recently surged among contemporary metaphysicians. In this paper, I focus on a promising account of ontological dependence in terms of a (...) non-modal and sufficiently constrained conception of essence developed by Kit Fine. I argue that even this essentialist account is, as it stands, not fine-grained enough to recognize different varieties of dependence which ought to be distinguished even within the realm of ontology. In some cases, an entity may be ontologically dependent on its essential constituents out of which it is constructed; but in other cases, an entity may be ontologically dependent on another for a different reason. A framework which glosses over these differences does not offer a proper diagnosis of why one entity ontologically depends on another. (shrink)
There is a long tradition of thinking of language as conventional in its nature, dating back at least to Aristotle De Interpretatione ). By appealing to the role of conventions, it is thought, we can distinguish linguistic signs, the meaningful use of words, from mere natural ‘signs’. During the last century the thesis that language is essentially conventional has played a central role within philosophy of language, and has even been called a platitude (Lewis 1969). More recently, the focus has (...) been less on the conventional nature of language than on the claim that meaning is essentially normative in a wider sense, leaving it open whether the normativity in question should be understood in terms of conventions or not (Kripke 1982). (shrink)
The main goal of Sider’s book, Four-Dimensionalism: An Ontology of Persistence and Time, is to show why his version of four- dimensionalism, the stage-theory, on balance, should be preferred over its main competitors: it is, in his view, the theory which presents the best unified treatment of a wide range of central metaphysical puzzles; the theory which has, on balance, “the most important advantages and the least serious drawbacks” (ibid., p. 140). I argue in this paper that, when we add (...) up all the evidence for and against the stage-theory, a different assessment of the dialectical situation recommends itself. As it turns out, everything depends on the argument from vagueness, the dialectical fulcrum of Sider’s book. If it were not for the argument from vagueness (so I suggest in outline in Section 2 of this paper), the situation would be relatively even-handed between the three-dimensionalist and the four-dimensionalist. But the argument from vagueness (as I show in more detail in Section 3) suffers from a crucial, and arguably fatal, weakness: no independent, non-question-begging justification has been provided for its most controversial premise, the non-vagueness of mereological composition. (shrink)
Does the notion of ground, as it has recently been employed by metaphysicians, point to a single unified phenomenon? Jonathan Schaffer holds that the phenomenon of grounding exhibits the unity characteristic of a single genus. In defense of this hypothesis, Schaffer proposes to take seriously the analogy between causation and grounding. More specifically, Schaffer argues that both grounding and causation are best approached through a single formalism, viz., that utilized by structural equation models of causation. In this paper, I present (...) several concerns which suggest that the structural equation model does not transfer as smoothly from the case of causation to the case of grounding as Schaffer would have us believe. If it can in fact be shown that significant differences surface in how the formalism in question applies to the two types of phenomena in question, Schaffer’s attempt at establishing an analogy between grounding and causation has thereby been weakened and, as a result, the application of the Unity Hypothesis to the case of grounding once again stands in need of justification. (shrink)
Kathrin Glüer and Åsa Wikforss (2009) argue that any truth norm for belief, linking the correctness of believing p with the truth of p, is bound to be uninformative, since applying the norm to determine the correctness of a belief as to whether p, would itself require forming such a belief. I argue that this conflates the condition under which the norm deems beliefs correct, with the psychological state an agent must be in to apply the norm. I also (...) show that since the truth norm conflicts with other possible norms that clearly are informative, the truth norm must itself be informative. (shrink)
It is common to think of essence along modal lines: the essential truths, on this approach, are a subset of the necessary truths. But Aristotle conceives of the necessary truths as being distinct and derivative from the essential truths. Such a non-modal conception of essence also constitutes a central component of the neo-Aristotelian approach to metaphysics defended over the last several decades by Kit Fine. Both Aristotle and Fine rely on a distinction between what belongs to the essence proper of (...) an object and what merely follows from the essence proper of an object. In order for this type of approach to essence and modality to be successful, we must be able to identify an appropriate consequence relation which in fact generates the result that the necessary truths about objects follow from the essential truths. I discuss some proposals put forward by Fine and then turn to Aristotle’s account: Aristotle’s central idea, to trace the explanatory power of definitions to the causal power of essences has the potential to open the door to a philosophically satisfying response to the question of why certain things are relevant, while others are irrelevant, to the nature or essence of entities. If at all possible, it would be desirable for example to have something further to say by way of explanation to such questions as ‘Why is the number 2 completely irrelevant to the nature of camels?’. (shrink)
Following W.V. Quine’s lead, many metaphysicians consider ontology to be concerned primarily with existential questions of the form, “What is there?”. Moreover, if the position advanced by Rudolf Carnap, in his seminal essay, “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology ”, is correct, then many of these existential ontological questions ought to be classified as either trivially answerable or as “pseudo-questions”. One may justifiably wonder, however, whether the Quinean and Carnapian perspective on ontology really does justice to many of the most central concerns (...) of this discipline. This chapter argues, by considering a particular ontological dispute between two different kinds of trope theorists, that some of the most interesting and important debates which properly belong to the study of being, whether we call it “metaphysics” or “ ontology ”, do not concern existential questions at all; rather, such disputes in some cases focus on non-existential disagreements over questions of fundamentality. (shrink)
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 14850 firstname.lastname@example.orgWhat are motorcycles made of? Presumably the answer is something like ‘wheels, pistons, fuel lines …’ or perhaps ‘metal, leather, plastic …’. Whatever precisely the parts of a motorcycle are, surely they are all material. Kathrin Koslicki disagrees. She has recently argued that ordinary material objects like motorcycles not only have material proper parts, but also have formal proper parts . On her view, an accurate list of the proper parts of a motorcycle must (...) include something like motorcyclehood in addition to the sorts of things just listed. Although she remains neutral about what exactly such a formal part is , she is explicit about what it does. The formal part of an object dictates structure; it dictates how the material parts must be arranged. It is ‘a kind of recipe for how to build wholes of that particular kind’ . Koslicki claims that this recipe or structure is itself a proper part of every motorcycle. That is what she calls the Neo-Aristotelian Thesis . A strange claim! So let us examine Koslicki’s argument for it. She begins by asking us to consider a case in which an artist shapes a single lump of clay L, thereby creating a statue S. The argument then proceeds as follows : The argument for the Neo-Aristotelian Thesis:1.It is possible to make an object S from a single preexisting material ingredient L. 2.L is a proper part of S. 3.Weak Supplementation: anything that has a proper part has at least two non-overlapping proper parts. 4.S has a proper part Q that does not overlap L . 5.S has no material proper parts other than L 6.Q is a proper part, but not a material proper part, of S 7.S has …. (shrink)