While perhaps best known for his Lives, Plutarch also wrote philosophical dialogues that constitute a major intellectual legacy from the first century A.D. This collection presents two important short works from his writings in moral philosophy. They reveal Plutarch at his best--informative, sympathetic, rich in narrative--and are accompanied by an extensive commentary that situates Plutarch and his views on marriage in their historical context.
According to Gupta and Belnap, the “extensional behavior” of ‘true’ matches that of a circularly defined predicate. Besides promising to explain semantic paradoxicality, their general theory of circular predicates significantly liberalizes the framework of truth-conditional semantics. The authors’ discussions of the rationale behind that liberalization invoke two distinct senses in which a circular predicate’s semantic behavior is explained by a “revision rule” carrying hypothetical information about its extension. Neither attempted explanation succeeds. Their theory may however be modified to employ a (...) relativized notion of extension. The resulting contextualist semantics for ‘true’ construes circularity as a pragmatic phenomenon. (shrink)
Deflationists about truth seek to undermine debates about the nature of truth by arguing that the truth predicate is merely a device that allows us to express a certain kind of generality. I argue that a parallel approach is available in the case of logical consequence. Just as deflationism about truth offers an alternative to accounts of truth's nature in terms of correspondence or justification, deflationism about consequence promises an alternative to model-theoretic or proof-theoretic accounts of consequence's nature. I then (...) argue, against considerations put forward by Field and Beall, that Curry's paradox no more rules out deflationism about consequence than the liar paradox rules out deflationism about truth. (shrink)
Reichenbach's Philosophy of Space and Time (1928) avoids most of the logical positivist pitfalls it is generally held to exemplify, notably both conventionalism and verificationism. To see why, we must appreciate that Reichenbach's interest lies in how mathematical structures can be used to describe reality, not in how words like 'distance' acquire meaning. Examination of his proposed "coordinative definition" of congruence shows that Reichenbach advocates a reductionist analysis of the relations figuring in physical geometry (contrary to common readings that attribute (...) to him a holistic conventionalism), while embracing a thoroughly holistic understanding of empirical confirmation (contrary to rival operationalist readings). (shrink)
This paper aims to call into question the customary division of logically revisionary responses to the truth-theoretic paradoxes into those that are “substructural” and those that are “ structural.” I proceed by examining, as a case study, Beall’s recent proposal based on the paraconsistent logic LP. Beall formulates his response to paradox in terms of a consequence relation that obeys all standard structural rules, though at the price of the language’s lacking a detaching conditional. I argue that the same response (...) to paradox can be given using a consequence relation that preserves detachment rules for a conditional, though at the price of restricting structural rules. The question “Is paradox being blocked by invoking a substructural consequence relation?” is thus ill-posed. The lesson of this example, I conclude, is that there is no useful explication of the idea of a substructural approach to paradox. (shrink)
Building on recent work, I present sequent systems for the non-classical logics LP, K3, and FDE with two main virtues. First, derivations closely resemble those in standard Gentzen-style systems. Second, the systems can be obtained by reformulating a classical system using nonstandard sequent structure and simply removing certain structural rules (relatives of exchange and contraction). I clarify two senses in which these logics count as “substructural.”.
Rejecting structural contraction has been proposed as a strategy for escaping semantic paradoxes. The challenge for its advocates has been to make intuitive sense of how contraction might fail. I offer a way of doing so, based on a “naive” interpretation of the relation between structure and logical vocabulary in a sequent proof system. The naive interpretation of structure motivates the most common way of blaming Curry-style paradoxes on illicit contraction. By contrast, the naive interpretation will not as easily motivate (...) one recent noncontractive approach to the Liar paradox. (shrink)
The collection presented here looks at two important short works from Plutarch's writings in moral philosophy; The Advice to the Bride and Groom and A Consolation to His Wife, in which he offers solace to his wife on the death of their infant son. The works reveal Plutarch at his best - informative, sympathetic, rich in narrative description - and are followed by commentaries by a number of experts, which situate Plutarch and his views on marriage in (...) their historical context. The Greek text is included. (shrink)
The revisionary approach to semantic paradox is commonly thought to have a somewhat uncomfortable corollary, viz. that, on pain of triviality, we cannot affirm that all valid arguments preserve truth (Beall2007, Beall2009, Field2008, Field2009). We show that the standard arguments for this conclusion all break down once (i) the structural rule of contraction is restricted and (ii) how the premises can be aggregated---so that they can be said to jointly entail a given conclusion---is appropriately understood. In addition, we briefly rehearse (...) some reasons for restricting structural contraction. (shrink)
According to commitment accounts of assertion, asserting is committing oneself to something’s being the case, where such commitment is understood in terms of norms governing a social practice. I elaborate and compare two version of such accounts, liability accounts (associated with C.S. Peirce) and dialectical norm accounts (associated with Robert Brandom), concluding that the latter are more defensible. I argue that both versions of commitment account possess a potential advantage over rival normative accounts of assertion in that they needn’t presuppose (...) any notion of an assertion’s correctness. Additionally, I show how dialectical norm accounts can explain relations between assertion and truth. After setting forth objections that have been raised against commitment accounts, I argue that responses are available on behalf of dialectical norm accounts. Finally, I propose that a liberalized dialectical norm account can illuminate phenomena sometimes seen as supporting truth relativism. (shrink)
Brandom's "inferentialism"—his theory that contentfulness consists in being governed by inferential norms—proves dubiously compatible with his own deflationary approach to intentional objectivity. This is because a deflationist argument, adapted from the case of truth to that of correct inference, undermines the criterion of adequacy Brandom employs in motivating inferentialism. Once that constraint is abandoned, moreover, the very constitutive-explanatory availability of Brandom's inferential norms becomes suspect. Yet Brandom intertwines inferentialism with a separate explanatory project, one that in explaining the pragmatic significance (...) of meaning-attributions does yield a convincing construal of the claim that the concept of meaning is normative. (shrink)
This book contributes to the 'rehabilitation' of Plutarch as a philosopher by focusing on an important aspect of his philosophical self: his work as a teacher, interpreter, and, eventually, historian of philosophy.
Innocence is a notion that can prove controversial. Claims of innocence typically support not imposing burdens on the innocent when their conduct is relevantly unobjectionable. This paper examines innocence in the context of violent conflict between states or groups. Many thinkers about the morality of such violence want to establish a principle that would protect innocent civilians. Yet the common view in just war theory does not affirm the moral innocence of civilians. Similarly, the common view that soldiers have an (...) equal right to kill does not affirm their equal moral culpability. (shrink)
Several authors have argued that a version of Curry's paradox involving validity motivates rejecting the structural rule of contraction. This paper criticizes two recently suggested alternative responses to “validity Curry.” There are three salient stages in a validity Curry derivation. Rejecting contraction blocks the first, while the alternative responses focus on the second and third. I show that a distinguishing feature of validity Curry, as contrasted with more familiar forms of Curry's paradox, is that paradox arises already at the first (...) stage. Accordingly, blocking the second or third stages won't suffice for resolving the paradox. (shrink)
Lionel Penrose (1898–1972) was an important leader during the mid-20th century decline of eugenics and the development of modern medical genetics. However, historians have paid little attention to his radical theoretical challenges to mainline eugenic concepts of mental disease. Working from a classification system developed with his colleague, E. O. Lewis, Penrose developed a statistically sophisticated and clinically grounded refutation of the popular position that low intelligence is inherently a disease state. In the early 1930s, Penrose advocated dividing “mental (...) defect” (low intelligence) into two categories: “pathological mental defect,” which is a disease state that can be traced to a distinct genetic or environmental cause, and “subcultural mental defect,” which is not an inherent disease state, but rather a statistically necessary manifestation of human variation in intelligence. I explore the historical context and theoretical import of this contribution, discussing its rejection of typological thinking and noting that it preceded Theodosius Dobzhansky’s better-known defense of human diversity. I illustrate the importance of Penrose’s contribution with a discussion of an analogous situation in contemporary medicine, the controversial practice of using human growth hormone injections to treat “idiopathic short stature” (mere diminutive height, with no distinct cause). I show how Penrose’s contributions to understanding human variation make such treatments appear quite misguided. (shrink)
There is a standard objection against purported explanations of how a language L can express the notion of being a true sentence of L. According to this objection, such explanations avoid one paradox (the Liar) only to succumb to another of the same kind. Even if L can contain its own truth predicate, we can identify another notion it cannot express, on pain of contradiction via Liar-like reasoning. This paper seeks to undermine such ‘revenge’ by arguing that it presupposes a (...) dubious assumption about the linguistic expression of concepts. Successful revenge would require that there be a notion other than truth that plays the same role with respect to concept-expression that truth is naturally thought to play before we are confronted with the Liar paradox. (shrink)
Locke's claims about the "inadequacy" of substance-ideas can only be understood once it is recognized that the "sort" represented by such an idea is not wholly determined by the idea's descriptive content. The key to his compromise between classificatory conventionalism and essentialism is his injunction to "perfect" the abstract ideas that serve as "nominal essences." This injunction promotes the pursuit of collections of perceptible qualities that approach ever closer to singling out things that possess some shared explanatory-level constitution. It is (...) in view of this norm regulating natural-historical inquiry that a substance-idea represents a sort for which some such constitution serves as the "real essence," i.e. as that on which all the sort's characteristic "properties" depend. (shrink)
This paper examines two explanations Sellars gives, at successive stages of his career, of how semantic vocabulary lets us relate linguistic expressions to extra-linguistic reality. Despite their differences, both explanations reveal a distinctive pragmatist approach. According to Sellars, we do not use semantic vocabulary to describe language-world relations. Rather, our taking language to relate to the world is implicit in the moves licensed by our semantic assertions. I argue that Sellars's discussions of the function of semantic vocabulary point to an (...) overlooked position regarding the relation between the concepts of meaning and truth. According to him, the function of meaning ascriptions cannot be explained independently of the function of truth ascriptions. That is because the function of meaning ascriptions essentially involves licensing claims about the world when combined with truth ascriptions. If he is right, this poses a challenge to deflationary accounts of the function of truth talk. (shrink)
Can we ever experimentally disentangle phenomenal consciousness from the cognitive accessibility inherent to conscious reports? In this commentary, we suggest that (1) Block's notion of phenomenal consciousness remains intractably entangled with the need to obtain subjective reports about it; and (2) many experimental paradigms suggest that the intuitive notion of a rich but non-reportable phenomenal world is, to a large extent illusory – in a sense that requires clarification.
: McDowell opposes the view that the intentionality of language and thought remains mysterious unless it can be understood ‘from outside the conceptual order’. While he thinks the demand for such a ‘sideways-on’ understanding can be the result of ‘scientistic prejudice’, he points to Sellars's thought as exhibiting a different source: a distortion of our perspective ‘from within the conceptual order’. The distortion involves a failure on Sellars's part to see how descriptions from within the conceptual order can present expressions (...) and mental acts as related to extra-conceptual objects (a failure in turn explained by his failure to see how such relations could have normative import). In this paper, I argue that Sellars's thought suffers from no such distortion. If that is right, McDowell's examination of Sellars has not uncovered a disorder whose treatment might help relieve the desire for a sideways-on view. (shrink)
It is generally assumed that Descartes invokes “objective being in the intellect” in order to explain or describe an idea’s status as being “of something.” I argue that this assumption is mistaken. As emerges in his discussion of “materially false ideas” in the Fourth Replies, Descartes recognizes two senses of ‘idea of’. One, a theoretical sense, is itself introduced in terms of objective being. Hence Descartes can’t be introducing objective being to explain or describe “ofness” understood in this sense. Descartes (...) also appeals to a pretheoretical sense of ‘idea of’. I will argue that the notion of objective being can’t serve to explain or describe this “ofness” either. I conclude by proposing an alternative explanation of the role of objective being, according to which Descartes introduces this notion to explain the mind’s ability to attain clear and distinct ideas. (shrink)
While compliments are usually intended to give credit and insults offense, the latter cannot simply be treated as opposites of the former. For example, a speaker can give credit to others as well as himself/herself. But while a speaker can offend others, it is less clear that a speaker can offend himself/herself. Understanding why this should be so provides us with a key insight into the nature of insults, namely, that it is predicated on the presumption that some dissimilarity exists (...) between the speaker and the target of the insult. Various interesting implications follow from this insight, allowing us to understand why competitive ritualized exchanges of insults are more commonly attested than are analogous competitions involving compliments; better appreciate the ideological bases of politically correct speech; and adjudicate on the relative merits of various theories of politeness, in particular, on claims concerning the relationship between politeness and face. (shrink)
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