Hilary Putnam (1981) proposed an interesting and much discussed attempt to refute a skeptical argument that is based on one form of the brain-in-a-vat scenario. In turn, Putnam’s attempted refutation is based on content externalism (also known as semantic externalism). On this view, the referents and meanings of various types of singular and general terms, as well as the propositions expressed by sentences containing such terms, are determined by aspects of the speaker’s external environment. In this entry, we will consider (...) the basic features of and problems with Putnam’s original argument, and we will also present and discuss several of the most important attempts to reconstruct or improve upon that argument. (shrink)
In my 1991 paper, AAnti-Individualism and Privileged Access,@ I argued that externalism in the philosophy of mind is incompatible with the thesis that we have privileged , nonempirical access to the contents of our own thoughts.<sup>1</sup> One of the most interesting responses to my argument has been that of Martin Davies (1998, 2000, and Chapter _ above) and Crispin Wright (2000 and Chapter _ above), who describe several types of cases to show that warrant for a premise does not always (...) transmit to a known deductive consequence of that premise, and who contend that this fact under-mines my argument for incompatibilism. I will try to show here that the Davies/Wright point about transmission of warrant does not adversely affect my argument. (shrink)
There is a fairly general consensus that names are Millian (or Russellian) genuine terms, that is, are singular terms whose sole semantic function is to introduce a referent into the propositions expressed by sentences containing the term. This answers the question as to what sort of proposition is expressed by use of sentences containing names. But there is a second serious semantic problem about proper names, that of how the referents of proper names are determined. This is the question that (...) I will discuss in this paper. Various views consistent with Millianism have been proposed as to how the semantic referents of proper names are determined. These views can be classified into (1) description theories and (2) causal theories, but they can also be classified into (3) social practice theories, on which a name’s referent is determined by a social practice involving the referent, and (4) individualistic theories, on which the referent of the use of a name is determined by the speaker’s state of mind. Here I argue against social practice theories of the sorts proposed by Kripke and Evans and in favor of an individualistic approach to name reference. I argue that social practice is irrelevant to determining name reference and that, as a consequence, names have no meanings in natural languages. In the second part of the paper I motivate and propose a new form of individualistic theory which incorporates features of both description theories and Evans’s social practice theory. (shrink)
Abstract. On the Direct Reference thesis, proper names are what I call ‘genuine terms’, terms whose sole semantic contributions to the propositions expressed by their use are the terms’ semantic referents. But unless qualified, this thesis implies the false consequence that sentences containing names that fail to refer can never express true or false propositions. (Consider ‘The ancient Greeks worshipped Zeus’, for instance.) I suggest that while names are typically and fundamentally used as genuine terms, there is a small class (...) of names, which I call ‘descriptive names’, whose reference is fixed by commonly associated definite descriptions, and I also suggest that there is an idiom of natural language on which such names can be used as abbreviated definite descriptions in a limited set of sentential contexts, including (1) positive and negative existentials, (2) cognitive ascriptions, and (3) uses of names to talk about myth. Uses of empty descriptive names in such contexts can then be either true or false. Relying on Gregory Currie’s theory of truth in fiction, I also propose an idiom on which fictional names can be used as short for a certain type of description in talk about fiction. Along the way, I provide arguments that names are used as short for descriptions in substantive existential statements as well as in both metamythic and metafictive contexts. I also discuss and criticize alternative views of these matters, including the views of David Braun, Saul Kripke, Peter van Inwagen, and others. (shrink)
This is an anthology of ?fteen papers concerning various philosophical problems related to the topic of self-knowledge. All but one of the papers were previously unpublished, and all but two are descendants of presentations at a conference on self-knowledge held at the University of St Andrews in 1995. The collection.
1. The primary evidence and motivation for externalism in the philosophy of mind is provided by the semantic facts that support direct reference theories of names, indexi- cal pronouns, and natural kind terms. But many externalists have forgotten their sem- antic roots, or so I shall contend here. I have become convinced of this by a common reaction among externalists to the main argument of my 1991 paper AAnti-Individual- ism and Privileged Access.@ In that argument, I concluded that externalism is (...) incompat- ible with the principle that we can have privileged, non-empirical knowledge of the contents of our own thoughts. The reaction in question amounts to a dismissive denial of one of my argument=s main premises. This premise, which I defended at length in the paper, is that an externalist thesis regarding a cognitive property should hold that possession of the property by a person _logically_, or _conceptually_, implies the existence of objects external to that person. (shrink)
Searle has proposed a "presupposition-Theory" of proper names in which he maintains that names are not short for descriptions and which, He claims, Solves frege's puzzle as to how an identity-Sentence containing co-Referential names can be informative. Two possible interpretations of searle's view are proposed, And it is argued that neither interpretation can be used to solve frege's puzzle and that, On the most plausible interpretation of his view, Searle is committed to the thesis that names are short for descriptions (...) after all. (shrink)
According to grice, Semantic concepts like meaning and reference should be explicated in terms of the propositional attitudes. In this paper, I argue that grice's program is mistaken in principle. I first motivate a gricean strategy for defining denotation, Or semantic reference, In terms of rules that govern what speakers may refer to with the terms they use. I then express three paradigm gricean theories of denotation and introduce considerations which show that these theories are false.
Gareth evans has proposed a type of case which shows that kripke's sketch of a causal theory of proper names is in need of modification. Kripke has himself suggested a way in which the modification might proceed, But I argue that this suggestion leads in the wrong direction. I consider a development of kripke's view by michael devitt which may overcome evans' case, But which is shown false by a different sort of case. The latter kind of case also shows (...) that a view of names recently proposed by donnellan is in need of revision. (shrink)
Tyler Burge's (1979) famous thought experiment concerning 'arthritis' is commonly assumed to show that all ascriptions of content to beliefs and other attitudes are dependent for their truth upon facts about the agent's social and linguistic environment. It is also commonly claimed that Burge's argument shows that Putnam's (1975) result regarding natural kind terms applies to all general terms whatever, and hence shows that all such terms have wide meanings.1 But I wish to show here, first, that neither Burge's initial (...) thought experiment nor a second type of example that Burge describes supports either of these conclusions. Second, I will identify the proper conclusion to draw from Burge's discussion and show that this conclusion does not really pose a serious problem for individualism about the mental. And finally, I will argue that Burge's discussion does not in fact provide a conclusive reason for believing its proper conclusion. (shrink)