In 1905, Bertrand Russell published 'On Denoting' in which he proposed and defended a quantificational account of definite descriptions. Forty-five years later, in 'On Referring', Peter Strawson claimed that Russell was mistaken: definite descriptions do not function as quantifiers but (paradigmatically) as referring expressions. Ever since, scores of theorists have attempted to adjudicate this debate. Others have gone beyond the question of the proper analysis of definite descriptions, focusing instead on the complex relations between definites, indefinites, and pronouns. These relations (...) are often examined with attention to the phenomena of scope and anaphora. This collection assembles nineteen new papers on definite descriptions and related topics. The contributors include both philosophers and linguists, many of whom have been active participants in the various debates concerning descriptions. The volume contains a brief general introduction and is divided into six sections, each of which is accompanied by a detailed introduction of its own. Several of the sections concern issues associated with the Russell/Strawson debate. These include the sections on incomplete descriptions, the referential/attributive distinction, and presupposition and truth value gaps. There is also a section on the representation of definites and indefinites in semantic theory, containing papers that reject certain core assumptions of the Russellian paradigm. Linguists interested in definites have traditionally been concerned with how such expressions interact with other expressions, including pronouns and indefinites. They have explored, and continue to explore, these interactions through the complex phenomena of scope and anaphora. In the section dealing with anaphoric pronouns and descriptions, indefinites and dynamic syntax/semantics, five linguists propose and defend their views on these and related issues. Finally, there is a section that concerns the relation between proper names and descriptions and, more particularly, the idea that some names, those introduced into the language by description, are semantically equivalent to definite descriptions. (shrink)
Psychopathy is often characterized in terms of what I call “the language of disorder.” I question whether such language is necessary for an accurate and precise characterization of psychopathy, and I consider the practical implications of how we characterize psychopathy—whether as a biological, or merely normative, disorder.
Metaphor has traditionally been construed as a linguistic phenomenon: as something produced and understood by speakers of natural language. So understood, metaphors are naturally viewed as linguistic expressions of a particular type, or as linguistic expressions used in a particular type of way. This linguistic conception of metaphor is adopted in this article. In doing so, the article does not intend to rule out the possibility of non-linguistic forms of metaphor. Many theorists think that non-linguistic objects or conceptual structures should (...) also be treated as metaphors. Indeed, the idea that metaphors are in the first instance conceptual phenomena, and linguistic devices only derivatively, is the dominant view in what is now the dominant area of metaphor research: cognitive science. In construing metaphor as linguistic, the article merely intends to impose appropriate constraints on a discussion whose focus is the understanding and analysis of metaphor within contemporary philosophy of language. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against Davidson's (1986) view that our ability to understand malapropisms forces us to re-think the standard construal of literal word meaning as conventional meaning. Specially, I contend that the standard construal is not only intuitive but also well-motivated, for appeal to conventional meaning is necessary to understand why speakers utter the particular words they do. I also contend that, contra Davidson, we can preserve the intuitive distinction between what a speaker means and what his words (...) mean, even while retaining the standard construal of literal word meaning as conventional. (shrink)
Three views of demonstrative reference are examined: contextual, intentional, and quasi-intentional. According to the first, such reference is determined entirely by certain publicly accessible features of the context. According to the second, speaker intentions are criterial in demonstrative reference. And according to the third, both contextual features and intentions come into play in the determination of demonstrative reference. The first two views (both of which enjoy current popularity) are rejected as implausible; the third (originally proposed by Kaplan in Dthat) is (...) argued to be highly plausible. (shrink)
In his classic paper, “Delusional thinking and perceptual disorder,” Brendan Maher (1974) argues that psychiatric delusions are hypotheses designed to explain anomalous experiences, and are “developed through the operation of normal cognitive processes.” Consider, for instance, the Capgras delusion. Patients suffering from this particular delusion believe that someone close to them—such as a spouse, a sibling, a parent, or a child—has been replaced by an impostor: by someone who bears a striking resemblance to the “original” and who (for reasons unknown) (...) is intent on passing herself off as that individual. On Maher's view, the “Impostor Hypothesis” is the response of a rational agent to the anomalous experience it is invoked to explain. Recently, a number of philosophers have argued that Maher's analysis of delusion doesn't work when applied to the Capgras delusion. In this paper, I defend Maher's analysis against these arguments. However, my aim is not merely to defend Maher's analysis, but also to draw attention to some of the methodological problems that have led to its hasty dismissal. (shrink)
Whether your scepticism is as absolute and sincere as you claim is something we shall learn later on, when we end this little meeting: we’ll then see whether you leave the room through the door or the window; and whether you really doubt that your body has gravity and can be injured by its fall—which is what people in general think on the basis of their fallacious senses and more fallacious experience. What Could Be more dissimilar than a well-argued philosophical (...) thesis and a psychiatric delusion? Compare, for instance, Hume’s (1739) view that the self is nothing more than a “bundle” of perceptions with the psychiatric patient’s view that the thoughts in his head belong to someone else. Or, compare the .. (shrink)
Standard attempts to defend Russell's Theory of Descriptions against the problem posed by incomplete descriptions, are discussed and dismissed as inadequate. It is then suggested that one such attempt, one which exploits the notion of a contextually delimited domain of quantification, may be applicable to incomplete quantifier expressions which are typically treated as quantificational: expressions of the form AllF's, NoF's, SomeF's, Exactly eightF's, etc. In this way, one is able to retain the plausible claim that such expressions ought to receive (...) their usual quantificational analyses. The conclusion tentatively drawn is that perhaps definite descriptions arenot amenable to a (Russellian) quantificational analysis. (shrink)
A number of philosophers have argued that psychiatric delusions threaten Donald Davidson's rationalist account of intentional agency. I argue that a careful look at both Davidson's account and psychiatric delusions shows that, in fact, the two are perfectly compatible. Indeed, a Davidsonian perspective on psychiatric delusions proves remarkably illuminating.
Kripke and Dummett disagree over whether or not there could have been unicorns. Kripke thinks that there could not have been; Dummett thinks otherwise. I argue that Kripke is correct: there are no counterfactual situations properly describable as ones in which there would have been unicorns. In attempting to establish this claim, I argue that Dummett's critique of an argument (reminiscent of an argument of Kripke's) to the conclusion that there could not have been unicorns, is vitiated by a conflation (...) of two superficially similar, though importantly different, claims. I then attempt to provide an account of the counter-intuitiveness of Kripke's position, arguing that the claim that there could not have been unicorns is best understood as a semantic, rather than metaphysical, claim. Finally, I provide a brief argument on behalf of the semantics of species terms that appears to underpin Kripke's position. (shrink)
take leave of one’s senses English, Verb. 1. (idiomatic) To go crazy; to stop behaving rationally A Chief concern in “Only a Philosopher or a Madman” was to draw attention to a number of striking yet underappreciated similarities between paradigm psychiatric delusions and standard philosophical doctrines, “nihilistic” as well as “common sense.” The similarities were presented as illuminating given their potential to inform the debate over whether psychiatric delusions are properly (or usefully) conceptualized as beliefs. The paper’s central argument might (...) be summarized as follows: Paradigm psychiatric delusions appear to differ, in particular ways, from ordinary beliefs. In essence, the .. (shrink)
My intention in this paper is to propose a conception of metaphorical meaning on which the meaning of a metaphor includes propositional as well as non-propositional features. I will make two general claims on behalf of the proposed account: first, it is intuitive; second, it is of theoretical value. In claiming that the proposed account is of theoretical value, I mean only that its adoption leads to an increased understanding of the nature of metaphor: of metaphorical thought and ofmetaphorical communication (...) in particular. (shrink)
Medical professionals, including mental health professionals, largely agree that moral judgment should be kept out of clinical settings. The rationale is simple: moral judgment has the capacity to impair clinical judgment in ways that could harm the patient. However, when the patient is suffering from a "Cluster B" personality disorder, keeping moral judgment out of the clinic might appear impossible, not only in practice but also in theory. For the diagnostic criteria associated with these particular disorders (Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic) (...) are expressed in overtly moral language. I consider three proposals for dealing with this problem. The first is to eliminate the Cluster B disorders from the DSM on the grounds that they are moral, rather than mental, disorders. The second is to replace the morally laden language of the diagnostic criteria with morally neutral language. The third is to disambiguate the notion of moral judgment so as to respect the distinction between having morally disvalued traits and having moral responsibility for those traits. Sensitivity to this distinction enables the clinician, at least in theory, to employ morally laden diagnostic criteria without adopting the sort of morally judgmental (and potentially harmful) attitude that results from the tacit presumption of moral responsibility. I argue against the first two proposals and in favor of the third. In doing so, I appeal to Grice's distinction between conventional and conversational implicature. I close with a few brief remarks on the irony of retaining overtly moral language in an ostensibly medical manual for the diagnosis of mental disorders. (shrink)