Recent third person approaches to thought experiments and conceptual analysis through the method of surveys are motivated by and motivate skepticism about the traditional first person method. I argue that such surveys give no good ground for skepticism, that they have some utility, but that they do not represent a fundamentally new way of doing philosophy, that they are liable to considerable methodological difficulties, and that they cannot be substituted for the first person method, since the a priori knowledge which (...) is our object in conceptual analysis can be acquired only from the first person standpoint. (shrink)
Ernest Lepore and Kirk Ludwig present the definitive critical exposition of the philosophical system of Donald Davidson. Davidson 's ideas had a deep and broad influence in the central areas of philosophy; he presented them in brilliant essays over four decades, but never set out explicitly the overarching scheme in which they all have their place. Lepore's and Ludwig's book will therefore be the key work, besides Davidson 's own, for understanding one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century.
Kirk Ludwig develops a novel reductive account of plural discourse about collective action and shared intention. Part I develops the event analysis of action sentences, provides an account of the content of individual intentions, and on that basis an analysis of individual intentional action. Part II shows how to extend the account to collective action, intentional and unintentional, and shared intention, expressed in sentences with plural subjects. On the account developed, collective action is a matter of there being multiple agents (...) of an event and it requires no group agents per se. Shared intention is a matter of agents in a group each intending that they bring about some end in accordance with a shared plan. Thus their participatory intentions differ from individual intentions not in their mode but in their content. Joint intentional action then is a matter of a group of individuals successfully executing a shared intention. (shrink)
The work of Donald Davidson (1917-2003) transformed the study of meaning. Ernie Lepore and Kirk Ludwig, two of the world's leading authorities on Davidson's work, present the definitive study of his widely admired and influential program of truth-theoretic semantics for natural languages, giving an exposition and critical examination of its foundations and applications.
Among the entities that can be mentally or linguistically represented are mental and linguistic representations themselves. That is, we can think and talk about speech and thought. This phenomenon is known as metarepresentation. An example is "Authors believe that people read books." -/- In this book François Recanati discusses the structure of metarepresentation from a variety of perspectives. According to him, metarepresentations have a dual structure: their content includes the content of the object-representation (people reading books) as well as the (...) "meta" part (the authors' belief). Rejecting the view that the object representation is mentioned rather than used, Recanati claims that since metarepresentations carry the content of the object representation, they must be about whatever the object representation is about. Metarepresentations are fundamentally transparent because they work by simulating the representation they are about. -/- Topics covered in this wide-ranging work include the analysis of belief reports and talk about fiction, world shifting, opacity and substitutivity, quotation, the relation between direct and indirect discourse, context shifting, semantic pretense, and deference in language and thought. (shrink)
This paper gives an account of proxy agency in the context of collective action. It takes the case of a group announcing something by way of a spokesperson as an illustration. In proxy agency, it seems that one person or subgroup's doing something counts as or constitutes or is recognized as (tantamount to) another person or group's doing something. Proxy agency is pervasive in institutional action. It has been taken to be a straightforward counterexample to an appealing deflationary view of (...) collective action as a matter of all members of a group making a contribution to bringing about some event. I show that this is a mistake. I give a deflationary account of constitutive rules in terms of essentially collective action types. I then give an account of one form of constitutive agency in terms of constitutive rules. I next give an account of status functions—of which being a spokesperson is one—that also draws on the concept of a constitutive rule. I then show how these materials help us to see how proxy agency is an expression of the agency of all members of the group credited with doing something when the proxy acts. (shrink)
This paper offers an analysis of the logical form of plural action sentences that shows that collective actions so ascribed are a matter of all members of a group contributing to bringing some event about. It then uses this as the basis for a reductive account of the content of we-intentions according to which what distinguishes we-intentions from I-intentions is that we-intentions are directed about bringing it about that members of a group act in accordance with a shared plan.
The Routledge Handbook of Collective Intentionality is the first of its kind, synthesizing research from several disciplines for all students and professionals interested in better understanding the nature and structure of social reality. The contents of the volume are divided into eight sections, each of which begins with a short introduction: Collective Action and Intention Shared and Joint Attitudes Epistemology and Rationality in the Social Context Social Ontology Collectives and Responsibility Collective Intentionality and Social Institutions The Extent, Origins, and Development (...) of Collective Intentionality Semantics of Collectivity The eight sections contain a total of 40 accessible chapters, all written exclusively for this volume by a team of internationally recognized experts. Each chapter ends with a References and a Further Reading section as well as cross-references to other germane chapters in the volume. A longer General Introduction provides an initial overview of the history as well as the current issues and problems in collective intentionality, the range of topics and their interconnections, and the organization of the _Handbook_. Systematic in its approach and thorough and detailed in its coverage_, The Routledge Handbook of Collective Intentionality_ provides readers with a valuable reference to this rapidly growing, cross-disciplinary research area and a trailhead to its most promising future directions. (shrink)
In proxy assertion an individual or group asserts something through a spokesperson. The chapter explains proxy assertion as resting on the assignment of a status role to a person (that of spokesperson) whose utterances acts in virtue of that role have the status function of signaling that the principal is committed in a way analogous to an individual asserting that in his own voice. The chapter briefly explains how status functions and status roles are grounded and then treats, in turn, (...) the case of a spokesperson for an individual and a group and the differences in the significance of what the spokesperson does in each case. Finally, it reviews complications introduced by spokesperson autonomy, where the spokesperson is given leave to represent her principal’s views or positions in her own words and to respond to questions on his behalf. (shrink)
The main thesis of this paper is that, whereas an intention simpliciter is a commitment to a plan of action, a conditional intention is a commitment to a contingency plan, a commitment about what to do upon (learning of) a certain contingency relevant to one’s interests obtaining. In unconditional intending, our commitment to acting is not contingent on finding out that some condition obtains. In conditional intending, we intend to undertake an action on some condition, impinging on our interests, which (...) is as yet unsettled for us, but about which we can find out without undue cost. (shrink)
Complex demonstratives, expressions of the form 'That F', 'These Fs', etc., have traditionally been taken to be referring terms. Yet they exhibit many of the features of quantified noun phrases. This has led some philosophers to suggest that demonstrative determiners are a special kind of quantifier, which can be paraphrased using a context sensitive definite description. Both these views contain elements of the truth, though each is mistaken. We advance a novel account of the semantic form of complex demonstratives that (...) shows how to reconcile the view that they function like quantified noun phrases with the view that simple demonstratives function as context sensitive referring terms wherever they occur. If we are right, previous accounts of complex demonstratives have misconceived their semantic role; and philosophers relying on the majority view in employing complex demonstratives in analysis have proceeded on a false assumption. (shrink)
I address a criticism of the use of thought experiments in conceptual analysis advanced on the basis of the survey method of so-called experimental philosophy. The criticism holds that surveys show that intuitions are relative to cultures in a way that undermines the claim that intuition-based investigation yields any objective answer to philosophical questions. The crucial question is what intuitions are as philosophers have been interested in them. To answer this question we look at the role of intuitions in philosophical (...) inquiry. When we have done this, we can see that it is impossible for intuitions properly understood to be relative in the way that has been suggested as they are conceived of as expressions of competence in the concepts deployed in their contents. The remaining methodological issues, though not to be dismissed, present no in principle objection to the method of thought experiments. (shrink)
Kirk Ludwig presents a philosophical account of institutional action, such as action by corporations and nation states. He argues that it can be fully understood in terms of the agency of individuals, and concepts derived from our understanding of individual action. He thus argues for a strong form of methodological individualism.
Corporations have often been taken to be the paradigm of an organization whose agency is autonomous from that of the successive waves of people who occupy the pattern of roles that define its structure, which licenses saying that the corporation has attitudes, interests, goals, and beliefs which are not those of the role occupants. In this essay, I sketch a deflationary account of agency-discourse about corporations. I identify institutional roles with a special type of status function, a status role, in (...) which the collectively accepted function is expressed in part through its occupier’s intentional expression of her agency in that role. I identify institutions as systems of status roles and show how this is compatible with seeing the agency of institutions generally, even over time periods in which there is complete change in role occupiers, as a matter of the contributions only of individual agents. I explain how the reduction of the institution to its members is compatible with its potentially having had a completely different membership. I show in the case of the corporation in particular that, once we see its origins and function, the surface features of legal discourse about corporate agency are misleading and are compatible with a deflationary account of corporate agency. I show in connection with this that the corporation is to be identified with its shareholders, and that where a corporation separates ownership and control, its managers and employees are proxy agents of the shareholders doing business under the corporate form. Finally, I canvass the legitimate ways of construing ordinary talk about corporate intention, belief, and so on, in light of this, none of which support the attribution of genuine agency or intentionality to any group per se associated with the corporation. (shrink)
What is the ontology of collective action? I have in mind three connected questions. 1. Do the truth conditions of action sentences about groups require there to be group agents over and above individual agents? 2. Is there a difference, in this connection, between action sentences about informal groups that use plural noun phrases, such as ‘We pushed the car’ and ‘The women left the party early’, and action sentences about formal or institutional groups that use singular noun phrases, such (...) as ‘The United States declared war on Japan on December 8th, 1941’ and ‘The Supreme Court ruled that segregation is unconstitutional in 1954 in Brown vs. Board of Education’? 3. Under what conditions does it make sense to speak of a group doing something together, and what, if anything, is a collective action? In this paper, I argue that a) understanding action sentences about groups does not commit us to the existence of group agents per se, but only to the existence of individual agents; b) there is no difference in this regard between sentences which attribute actions to informal groups on the one hand and institutional groups on the other; c) collective action can be both intentional and unintentional; d) any random group of agents each of whom does something is also a group which does something together; e) while there is a sense in which groups per se perform no primitive collective actions, and therefore no actions at all, f) there is a sensible extension of talk of actions to groups, though it should be treated strictly speaking, like talk of group agents, as a façon de parler, for g) the only agents per se are individuals and the only actions are theirs. -/-. (shrink)
This paper clarifies Searle's account of we-intentions and then argues that it is subject to counterexamples, some of which are derived from examples Searle uses against other accounts. It then offers an alternative reductive account that is not subject to the counterexamples.
This paper argues for a deflationary account of trying on which ‘x tried to ϕ’ abbreviates ‘x did something with the intention of ϕ-ing’, where ‘did something’ is treated as a schematic verb. On this account, tryings are not a distinctive sort of episode present in some or all cases of acting. ‘x tried to ϕ’ simply relates some doing of x’s to a further aim x had, which may or may not have been achieved. Consequently, the analysis of ‘x (...) tried to ϕ’ adds nothing to our basic understanding of the nature of action or agency. The account handles examples of naked trying, trying without acting – for example, trying but failing to move when paralyzed – by construing ‘did something’ as a schematic verb for a broader class of purposive events than actions, subsuming inter alia the formation of intentions-in-action. It gives a technical sense to ‘doing with the intention of ϕ-ing’ so that it includes any doing that can be construed as for the purpose of executing the intention of ϕ-ing. This subsumes as a limiting case the formation of an intention-in-action to ϕ, which is for the purpose of executing that very intention. (shrink)
This paper shows that recent arguments from group problem solving and task performance to emergent group level cognition that rest on the social parity and related principles are invalid or question begging. The paper shows that standard attributions of problem solving or task performance to groups require only multiple agents of the outcome, not a group agent over and above its members, whether or not any individual member of the group could have accomplished the task independently.
Much of the recent movement organized under the heading “Experimental Philosophy” has been concerned with the empirical study of responses to thought experiments drawn from the literature on philosophical analysis. I consider what bearing these studies have on the traditional projects in which thought experiments have been used in philosophy. This will help to answer the question what the relation is between Experimental Philosophy and philosophy, whether it is an “exciting new style of [philosophical] research”, “a new interdisciplinary field that (...) uses methods normally associated with psychology to investigate questions normally associated with philosophy” (Knobe et al. 2012), or whether its relation to philosophy consists, as some have suggested, in no more than the word ‘philosophy’ appearing in its title, or whether the truth lies somewhere in between these two views. I first distinguishes different strands in Experimental Philosophy, negative and positive x-phi, and x-phi pursuing philosophy as opposed to x-phi as cognitive science. Next I review some ways in which Experimental Philosophy has been criticized. Finally, I consider what would have to be true for Experimental Philosophy to have one or another sort of relevance to philosophy, whether the assumptions required are true, how we could know it, and the ideal limits of the usefulness Experimental Philosophy to philosophy. I conclude x-phi cannot in principle be a replacement for traditional first person approaches because it yields the wrong kind of knowledge and that it can nonetheless be a practical aid in conducting philosophical thought experiments. n. (shrink)
Cooperation admits of degrees. When factory workers stage a slowdown, they do not cease to cooperate with management in the production of goods altogether, but they are not fully cooperative either. Full cooperation implies that participants in a joint action are committed to rendering appropriate contributions as needed toward their joint end so as to bring it about, consistently with the type of action and the generally agreed upon constraints within which they work, as efficiently as they can, where their (...) contributions are sensitive to information (where available) about how others are contributing in the sense that they adjust as needed their contributions in light of information about how others are contributing to ensure effective pursuit of their joint end, where this includes rendering aid to other participants if needed, insofar as they are able. Full cooperation entails those cooperating are engaged in a joint intentional action. Some prominent studies of joint intentional action focus exclusively on cases of full cooperation (notably that of Michael Bratman (2014)). But not all joint intentional action is fully cooperative. One example is the work slowdown. Another example is provided by competitive games like chess and football, or sports like boxing and wrestling, where participants are clearly not intending to contribute to the pursuit of all of the goals of the others engaged in the activity, even when those goals are internal to the type of activity in question, but instead intend actively to frustrate some of them. In this paper, I provide a taxonomy of forms of non-cooperative behavior within the context of behavior that is still to some degree cooperative, and I argue that the minimal conditions of joint intentional action define minimal cooperative behavior, that is, that minimally joint intentional action is per se minimally cooperative behavior. I define in precise terms what that comes to, and how it is possible in cases in which it seems that one or more participants are in one or more ways acting so as to frustrate the contributions of other participants to their joint action. (shrink)
Our aim in the present paper is to investigate, from the standpoint of truth-theoretic semantics, English tense, temporal designators and quantifiers, and other expressions we use to relate ourselves and other things to the temporal order. Truth-theoretic semantics provides a particularly illuminating standpoint from which to discuss issues about the semantics of tense, and their relation to thoughts at, and about, times. Tense, and temporal modifiers, contribute systematically to conditions under which sentences we utter are true or false. A Tarski-style (...) truth-theoretic semantics, by requiring explicitly represented truth conditions, helps to sharpen questions about the function of tense, and to deepen our insight into the contribution the tenses and temporal modifiers make to what we say by using them. (shrink)
In this paper, we outline an approach to giving extensional truth-theoretic semantics for what have traditionally been seen as opaque sentential contexts. We outline an approach to providing a compositional truth-theoretic semantics for opaque contexts which does not require quantifying over intensional entities of any kind, and meets standard objections to such accounts. The account we present aims to meet the following desiderata on a semantic theory T for opaque contexts: (D1) T can be formulated in a first-order extensional language; (...) (D2) T does not require quantification over intensional entitiesi.e., meanings, propositions, properties, relations, or the likein its treatment of opaque contexts; (D3) T captures the entailment relations that hold in virtue of form between sentences in the language for which it is a theory; (D4) T has a finite number of axioms. If the approach outlined here is correct, it resolves a longstanding complex of problems in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language. (shrink)
This chapter argues that while quotation marks are polysemous, the thread that runs through all uses of quotation marks that involve reference to expressions is pure quotation, in which an expression formed by enclosing another expression in quotation marks refers to that enclosed expression. We defend a version of the so-called disquotational theory of pure quotation and show how this device is used in direct discourse and attitude attributions, in exposition in scholarly contexts, and in so-called mixed quotation in indirect (...) discourse and attitude attributions. We argue that uses of quotation marks that extend beyond pure quotation have two features in common. First, the expressions appearing in quotation marks are intended to be understood, and that they are intended to be understood is essential to the function that such quotations play in communication, though this does not always involve the expressions contributing their extensional properties to fixing truth conditions for the sentences in which they appear. Second, they appeal to a relation to the expression appearing in quotation marks that plays a role in determining the truth conditions of the sentences in which they appear. (shrink)
In this paper, we defend Davidson's program in truth-theoretical semantics against recent criticisms by Scott Soames. We argue that Soames has misunderstood Davidson's project, that in consequence his criticisms miss the mark, that appeal to meanings as entities in the alternative approach that Soames favors does no work, and that the approach is no advance over truth-theoretic semantics.
Assertoric sentences are sentences which admit of truth or falsity. Non-assertoric sentences, imperatives and interrogatives, have long been a source of difficulty for the view that a theory of truth for a natural language can serve as the core of a theory of meaning. The trouble for truth-theoretic semantics posed by non-assertoric sentences is that, prima facie, it does not make sense to say that imperatives, such as 'Cut your hair', or interrogatives such as 'What time is it?', are truth (...) or false. Thus, the vehicle for giving the meaning of a sentence by using an interpretive truth theory, the T-sentence, is apparently unavailable for non-assertoric sentences. This paper shows how to incorporate non-assertoric sentences into a theory of meaning that gives central place to an interpretive truth theory for the language, without, however, reducing the non-assertorics to assertorics, or treating their utterances as semantically equivalent to one or more utterances of assertoric sentences. Four proposals for how to incorporate non-assertoric sentences into a broadly truth-theoretic semantics are reviewed. The proposals fall into two classes, those that attempt to explain the meaning of non-assertoric sentences solely by appeal to truth conditions, and those that attempt to explain the meaning of non-assertroic sentences by appeal to compliance conditions, which can be treated as one variety of fulfillment conditions for sentences of which truth conditions are another variety. The paper argues that none of the extant approaches is successful, but develops a version of the generalized fulfillment approach which avoids the difficulties of previous approaches and still exhibits a truth theory as the central component of a compositional meaning theory for all sentences of natural language. (shrink)
This paper attacks an old dogma in the philosophy of action: the idea that in order to intend to do something one must believe that there is at least some chance that one will succeed at what one intends. I think that this is a mistake, and that recognizing this will force us to rethink standard accounts of what it is to intend to do something and to do it intentionally.
This chapter is concerned with plural discourse in the grammatical sense. The goal of the chapter is to urge the value of the event analysis of the matrix of action sentences in thinking about logical form in plural discourse about action. Among the claims advanced are that: -/- 1. The ambiguity between distributive and collective readings of plural action sentences is not lexical ambiguity, either in the noun phrase (NP) or in the verb phrase (VP), but an ambiguity tracing to (...) the scope of the event quantifier introduced by the action verb. 2. This allows us to analyze collective action sentences in a way that commits us only to individual agents acting when we say that groups act, without denying that there are groups as such or that we talk about them as such. 3. Intermediate readings, that seem to be neither purely distributive nor purely collective, can be explained in terms of the same apparatus. (shrink)
(1) Content properties are nonrelational, that is, having a content property does not entail the existence of any contingent object not identical with the thinker or a part of the thinker.2 (2) We have noninferential knowledge of our conscious thoughts, that is, for any of our..
Legal norms are an invention. This paper advances a proposal about what kind of invention they are. The proposal is that legal norms derive from rules which specify role functions in a legal system. Legal rules attach to agents in virtue of their status within the system in which the rules operate. The point of legal rules or a legal system is to solve to large scale coordination problems, specifically the problem of organizing social and economic life among a group (...) of people and their successors, though not every legal rule pertains to a coordination problem. The framework for thinking about legal norms that I describe is a framework for thinking about institutions and policies more generally. The idea is to show that legal norms are a species of institutional norm. There are two central ideas. The first is the idea of a role in an institution. The second is the idea of proxy agency. Proxy agency involves one agent or group acting under the authorization of another agent or group (perhaps subsuming it) in a way that makes the actions of the proxy count as actions (under a description) of the individual or group for which it is a proxy. We get the characteristic structure of a legal system by conceiving of an institutional group, itself conceived of as a set of interlocking roles realized in individuals, as having one or more roles for proxy agents who are authorized by the group to make policy for the group. The set of rules governing the basic constitution of the group and spelling out the powers of the policy proxies determine fundamental norms for the group with specific role responsibilities attaching to particular positions in institutional arrangements. The policies determine further norms whose force derives from the fundamental norms. We must then say some further things to distinguish institutions and policies which we wish to designate as legal. (shrink)
We argue that there is a variety of convention, effective coordinating agreement, that has not been adequately identified in the literature. Its distinctive feature is that it is a structure of conditional we-intentions of parties, unlike more familiar varieties of convention, which are structures of expectations and preferences or obligations. We argue that status functions constitutively involve this variety of convention, and that what is special about it explains, and gives precise content to, the central feature of status functions, namely, (...) that objects with status functions can perform their functions only insofar as they have been collectively accepted as having them. (shrink)
This chapter argues that in cases in which a (non-institutional) group is collectively causally responsible and collectively morally responsible for some harm which is either (i) brought about intentionally or (ii) foreseen as the side effect of something brought about intentionally or (iii) unforeseen but a nonaggregative harm, each member of the group is equally and as fully responsible for the harm as if he or she had done it alone.
Bertrand Russell, in the second of his 1914 Lowell lectures, Our Knowledge of the External World, asserted famously that ‘every philosophical problem, when it is subjected to the necessary analysis and purification, is found either to be not really philosophical at all, or else to be, in the sense in which we are using the word, logical’ (Russell 1993, p. 42). He went on to characterize that portion of logic that concerned the study of forms of propositions, or, as he (...) called them, ‘logical forms’. This portion of logic he called ‘philosophical logic’. Russell asserted that ... some kind of knowledge of logical forms, though with most people it is not explicit, is involved in all understanding of discourse. It is the business of philosophical logic to extract this knowledge from its concrete integuments, and to render it explicit and pure. (p. 53) Perhaps no one still endorses quite this grand a view of the role of logic and the investigation of logical form in philosophy. But talk of logical form retains a central role in analytic philosophy. Given its widespread use in philosophy and linguistics, it is rather surprising that the concept of logical form has not received more attention by philosophers than it has. The concern of this paper is to say something about what talk of logical form comes to, in a tradition that stretches back to (and arguably beyond) Russell’s use of that expression. This will not be exactly Russell’s conception. For we do not endorse Russell’s view that propositions are the bearers of logical form, or that appeal to propositions adds anything to our understanding of what talk of logical form comes to. But we will be concerned to provide an account responsive to the interests expressed by Russell in the above quotations, though one clarified of extraneous elements, and expressed precisely. For this purpose, it is important to note that the concern expressed by Russell in the above passages, as the surrounding text makes clear, is a concern not just with logic conceived narrowly as the study of logical terms, but with propositional form more generally, which includes, e.g., such features as those that correspond to the number of argument places in a propositional function, and the categories of objects which propositional.... (shrink)
This article begins by distinguishing force and mood. Then it lays out desiderata on a successful account. It sketches as background the program of truth-theoretic semantics. Next, it surveys assimilation approaches and argues that they are inadequate. Then it shows how the fulfillment-conditional approach can be applied to imperatives, interrogatives, molecular sentences containing them, and quantification into mood markers. Next, it considers briefly the recent set of propositions approach to the semantics of interrogatives and exclamatives. Finally, it shows how to (...) integrate exclamatives and optatives into a framework similar to the fulfillment approach. (shrink)
A Companion to Donald Davidson presents newlycommissioned essays by leading figures within contemporaryphilosophy. Taken together, they provide a comprehensive overviewof Davidson’s work across its full range, and an assessmentof his many contributions to philosophy. Highlights the breadth of Davidson's work acrossphilosophy Demonstrates the continuing influence his work has on thephilosophical community Includes newly commissioned contributions from leading figuresin contemporary philosophy Provides an in-depth exposition and analysis of Davidson's workacross the range of areas to which he contributed, includingphilosophy of action, epistemology, (...) metaphysics, philosophy oflanguage, and philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Donald Davidson has argued that attention to the necessarily public character of language shows that we cannot be massively mistaken about the world around us, and that consequently skeptical doubts about empirical knowledge are misplaced. The arguments Davidson advances rely on taking as the fundamental methodological standpoint for investigating meaning and related concepts the standpoint of the interpreter of another speaker, on the grounds that it is from the interpreter’s standpoint that we discover what constraints are placed on meaning by (...) the public character of language. In this paper, I argue that although Davidson’s arguments reveal important conceptual connections between meaning and belief on the one hand, and truth and interpretation on the other, they do not show that it is impossible that we are massively mistaken about the external world. (shrink)
We sketch an account according to which the semantic concepts themselves are not pathological and the pathologies that attend the semantic predicates arise because of the intention to impose on them a role they cannot fulfill, that of expressing semantic concepts for a language that includes them. We provide a simplified model of the account and argue in its light that (i) a consequence is that our meaning intentions are unsuccessful, and such semantic predicates fail to express any concept, and (...) that (ii) in light of this it is incorrect to characterize the pathology simply as semantic inconsistency; a more nuanced view of the problem is needed. We also show that the defects of the semantic predicates need not undercut the use of a truth theory in a compositional semantics for a language containing them because the meaning theory per se need not involve commitment to the axioms of the truth theory it exploits. (shrink)
In The Mind Doesn’t Work that Way, Jerry Fodor argues that mental representations have context sensitive features relevant to cognition, and that, therefore, the Classical Computational Theory of Mind (CTM) is mistaken. We call this the Globality Argument. This is an in principle argument against CTM. We argue that it is self-defeating. We consider an alternative argument constructed from materials in the discussion, which avoids the pitfalls of the official argument. We argue that it is also unsound and that, while (...) it is an empirical issue whether context sensitive features of mental representations are relevant to cognition, it is empirically implausible. (shrink)
This paper defends the autonomy thesis, which holds that one can intend to do something even though one believes it to be impossible, against attacks by Fred Adams. Adams denies the autonomy thesis on the grounds that it cannot, but must, explain what makes a particular trying, a trying for the aim it has in view. If the autonomy thesis were true, it seems that I could try to fly across the Atlantic ocean merely by typing out this abstract, a (...) palpable absurdity. If we deny the autonomy thesis, we have an easy explanation: one simply cannot try to do something which one believes to be impossible. In response, I argue, first, by means of examples, that one clearly can try and intend to do what one believes to be impossible; and then l show how we can provide an answer to Adams’s challenge even so. (shrink)
A sorites argument is a symptom of the vagueness of the predicate with which it is constructed. A vague predicate admits of at least one dimension of variation (and typically more than one) in its intended range along which we are at a loss when to say the predicate ceases to apply, though we start out confident that it does. It is this feature of them that the sorites arguments exploit. Exactly how is part of the subject of this paper. (...) The majority of philosophers writing on vagueness take it to be a kind of semantic phenomenon. If we are right, they are correct in this assumption, which is surely the default position, but they have not so far provided a satisfactory account of the implications of this or a satisfactory diagnosis of the sorites arguments. Other philosophers have urged more exotic responses, which range from the view that the fault lies not in our language, but in the world, which they propose to be populated with vague objects which our semantics precisely reflects, to the view that the world and language are both perfectly in order, but that the fault lies with our knowledge of the properties of the words we use (epistemicism). In contrast to the exotica to which some philosophers have found themselves driven in an attempt to respond to the sorites puzzles, we undertake a defense of the commonsense view that vague terms are semantically vague. Our strategy is to take fresh look at the phenomenon of vagueness. Rather than attempting to adjudicate between different extant theories, we begin with certain pre-theoretic intuitions about vague terms, and a default position on classical logic. The aim is to see whether (i) a natural story can be told which will explain the vagueness phenomenon and the puzzling nature of soritical arguments, and, in the course of this, to see whether (ii) there arises any compelling pressure to give up the natural stance. We conclude that there is a simple and natural story to be told, and we tell it, and that there is no good reason to abandon our intuitively compelling starting point. The importance of the strategy lies in its dialectical structure. Not all positions on vagueness are on a par. Some are so incredible that even their defenders think of them as positions of last resort, positions to which we must be driven by the power of philosophical argument. We aim to show that there is no pressure to adopt these incredible positions, obviating the need to respond to them directly. If we are right, semantic vagueness is neither surprising, nor threatening. It provides no reason to suppose that the logic of natural languages is not classical or to give up any independently plausible principle of bivalence. Properly understood, it provides us with a satisfying diagnosis of the sorites argumentation. It would be rash to claim to have any completely novel view about a topic so well worked as vagueness. But we believe that the subject, though ancient, still retains its power to inform and challenge us. In particular, we will argue that taking seriously the central phenomenon of predicate vagueness—the “boundarylessness” of vague predicates—on the commonsense assumption that vagueness is semantic, leads ineluctably to the view that no sentences containing vague expressions (henceforth ‘vague sentences’) are truth-evaluable. This runs counter to much of the literature on vagueness, which commonly assumes that, though some applications of vague predicates to objects fail to be truth-evaluable, in clear positive and negative cases vague sentences are unproblematically true or false. It is clarity on this, and related points, that removes the puzzles associated with vagueness, and helps us to a satisfying diagnosis of why the sorites arguments both seem compelling and yet so obviously a bit of trickery. We give a proof that semantically vague predicates neither apply nor fail-to-apply to anything, and that consequently it is a mistake to diagnose sorites arguments, as is commonly done, by attempting to locate in them a false premise. Sorites arguments are not sound, but not unsound either. We offer an explanation of their appeal, and defend our position against a variety of worries that might arise about it. The plan of the paper is as follows. We first introduce an important distinction in terms of which we characterize what has gone wrong with vague predicates. We characterize what we believe to be our natural starting point in thinking about the phenomenon of vagueness, from which only a powerful argument should move us, and then trace out the consequences of accepting this starting point. We consider the charge that among the consequences of semantic vagueness are that we must give up classical logic and the principle of bivalence, which has figured prominently in arguments for epistemicism. We argue there are no such consequences of our view: neither the view that the logic of natural languages is classical, nor any plausible principle of bivalence, need be given up. Next, we offer a diagnosis of what has gone wrong in sorites arguments on the basis of our account. We then present an argument to show that our account must be accepted on pain of embracing (in one way or another) the epistemic view of “vagueness”, i.e., of denying that there are any semantically vague terms at all. Next, we discuss some worries that may arise about the intelligibility of our linguistic practices if our account is correct. We argue none of these worries should force us from our intuitive starting point. Finally, we cast a quick glance at other forms of semantic incompleteness. (shrink)
An important objection to sententialist theories of attitude reports is that they cannot accommodate the principle that one cannot know that someone believes that p without knowing what it is that he believes. This paper argues that a parallel problem arises for propositionalist accounts that has gone largely unnoticed, and that, furthermore, the usual resources for the propositionalist do not afford an adequate solution. While non-standard solutions are available for the propositionalist, it turns out that there are parallel solutions that (...) are available for the sententialist. Since the difficulties raised seem to show that the mechanism by which sentential complements serve to inform us about attitudes and about sentence meaning does not depend on their referring to propositions, this casts doubt on whether talk of propositions should retain a significant theoretical role in the enterprise of understanding thought, language and communication. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with a recent, clever, and novel argument for the need for genuine collectives in our ontology of agents to accommodate the kinds of normative judgments we make about them. The argument appears in a new paper by David Copp, "On the Agency of Certain Collective Entities: An Argument from 'Normative Autonomy'" (Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Shared Intentions and Collective Responsibility, XXX, 2006, pp. 194-221; henceforth ‘ACE’), and is developed in Copp’s paper for this special journal issue, (...) “The Collective Moral Autonomy Thesis” (henceforth ‘CAT’). The argument goes as follows. -/- (1) We correctly assign blame (or obligations) to collectives in circumstances in which it would be a mistake to assign any (relevantly related) blame (or obligations) to their members. (2) If (1), then collectives are genuine agents over and above their members. (3) Therefore, collectives are genuine agents over and above their members. -/- Following Copp, I call (1) the Collective Moral Autonomy Thesis (CMA). Copp argues for CMA primarily by appeal to cases, but also offers two general arguments for it. In the cases that Copp describes, we are to judge that a collective act is blameworthy, though each member of the group that acts is blameless because he is merely following procedures appropriate for his participation, or because there are excusing factors, or because of overriding personal duties. -/- I argue that the case for CMA has not been made. In particular, I argue that, in each case in which we feel inclined to hold a group responsible for something but not its members, it is because -/- 1. we have accepted a false dilemma, that when no one agent is fully responsible for the action of a group of which he is a member, the only entity that could be responsible is the group as such, or 2. we have directed our attention to the wrong individual or individuals, or 3. we have become confused about the commitments of the individuals, or 4. we have mistaken ameliorating for excusing factors, or 5. we have mistaken moral blameworthiness and all-in rational blameworthiness, or 6. a combination of these things. (shrink)
Olle Blomberg challenges three claims in my book From Individual to Plural Agency (Ludwig, Kirk (2016): From Individual to Plural Agency: Collective Action 1. Vols. 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press.). The first is that there are no collective actions in the sense in which there are individual actions. The second is that singular action sentences entail that there is no more than one agent of the event expressed by the action verb in the way required by that verb (the sole (...) agency requirement). The third, is that an individual intention, e.g. to build a boat, is not satisfied if you don’t do it yourself. On the first point, I grant that Blomberg identifies an important distinction between simple and composite actions the book did not take into account, but argue it doesn’t show that there are collective actions in the same sense there are individual actions. On the second point, I argue from examples that the collective reading of plural action sentences doesn’t entail the distributive reading, which requires the sole agency requirement on singular action sentences. This settles the third point, since it entails that if you intend to build a boat, you are successful only if you are the only agent of it in the sense required by the verb. (shrink)
Appeal to triangulation occurs in two different contexts in Davidson’s work. In the first, triangulation—in the trigonometric sense—is used as an analogy to help explain the central idea of a transcendental argument designed to show that we can have the concept of objective truth only in the context of communication with another speaker. In the second, the triangulation of two speakers responding to each other and to a common cause of similar responses is invoked as a solution to the problem (...) of underdetermination of thought and meaning by the patterns of causal relations we stand in to the environment. I examine both of these uses of the idea of triangulation. In section 2, I take up the use of triangulation as an analogy in connection with Davidson transcendental argument to establish that communication is essential for the concept of objectivity. I argue that it is unsuccessful because the case has not been made that scope for deploying the idea of contrasting perspectives, which is needed for the concept of objectivity, is available only in the context of communication. In section 3, I take up the idea that triangulation on a common cause of common responses of two creatures interacting with each other provides the additional constraint needed to assign objective content to our thoughts and words. I show that appeal to this sort of triangulation provides minimal help in responding to the problem it is intended to solve. Section 4 provides a brief summary and conclusion. (shrink)
Ludwig deals with the relations between language, thought, and rationality, and, especially, the role and status of assumptions about rationality in interpreting another’s speech and assigning contents to her psychological attitudes—her beliefs, desires, intentions, and so on. The chapter is organized around three questions: What is the relation between rationality and thought? What is the relation between rationality and language? What is the relation between thought and language? Ludwig argues that some large degree of rationality is required for thought and (...) consequently that same degree of rationality at least is required for language since language requires thought. Thought, however, does not require language. In answering questions and, Ludwig gives particular attention to Davidson’s arguments for the Principle of Charity, according to which it is constitutive of speakers that they are largely rational and largely right about the world, and to Davidson’s arguments for the thesis that without the power of speech we lack the power of thought. (shrink)
How are we able to perceive the world veridically? If we ask this question as a part of the scientific investigation of perception, then we are not asking for a transcendental guarantee that our perceptions are by and large veridical; we presuppose that they are. Unless we assumed that we perceived the world for the most part veridically, we would not be in a position to investigate our perceptual abilities empirically. We are interested, then, not in how it is possible (...) in general for us to perceive the world veridically, but instead in what the relation is between our environment and its properties, of which we have knowledge, on the one hand, and our perceptual mechanisms, on the other, that results in very many, even most of our perceptions being veridical in everyday life. (shrink)
We can perceive shapes visually and tactilely, and the information we gain about shapes through both sensory modalities is integrated smoothly into and functions in the same way in our behavior independently of whether we gain it by sight or touch. There seems to be no reason in principle we couldn't perceive shapes through other sensory modalities as well, although as a matter of fact we do not. While we can identify shapes through other sensory modalities—e.g., I may know by (...) smell (the scent of mango) that the object causing my sensory experience is round—this is not perceiving an object as shaped, but rather inferring from the character of one's sensory experience and collateral information that an object of a certain shape caused it. That it is possible to perceive shape by other modalities, however, is suggested by the case of bats and aquatic mammals like dolphins which navigate through their environment by a form of sonar. It is plausible that they have some form of auditory representation of space, and so of shape. These facts about shape perception raise important questions about the relation between those features of perceptual experience which are intrinsic to different sensory modalities and the nature of our perceptual representation of shapes, and, more generally, of the space within which we perceive shaped objects to be located. John Campbell's paper, "Molyneux's Problem" (see above), raises a number of interesting and important questions about the nature of our perception of shape properties, particularly the cross-modal nature of shape perception, and ties them to more general questions about the nature both of perceptual.. (shrink)