Expressivists, such as Blackburn, analyse sentences such as 'S thinks that it ought to be the case that p' as S hoorays that p'. A problem is that the former sentence can be negated in three different ways, but the latter in only two. The distinction between refusing to accept a moral judgement and accepting its negation therefore cannot be accounted for. This is shown to undermine Blackburn's solution to the Frege-Geach problem.
A difficulty is exposed in Allan Gibbard's solution to the embedding/Frege-Geach problem, namely that the difference between refusing to accept a normative judgement and accepting its negation is ignored. This is shown to undermine the whole solution.
The author argues that is not obvious what it means for our beliefs and assertions to be "truth-directed", and that we need to weaken our ordinary notion of a belief if we are to deal with radical scepticism without surrendering to idealism. Topics examined also include whether there could be alien conceptual schemes and what might happen to us if we abandoned genuine belief in place of mere pragmatic acceptance. A radically new "ecological" model of knowledge is defended.
It is argued that current solutions to the question of how to individuate events do not work. Jonathan Bennett's thesis that the indeterminacy here is only semantic, not ontological, is refuted. An alternative account of why events resemble facts (although their identity criteria are less fine-grained) is defended.
The question of whether it is permissible to quantify into a modal context is re-examined from an empiricist perspective. Following Wiggins, it is argued that an ontology of continuants implies essentialism, but it is also argued, against Wiggins, that the only conception of necessity that we need to start out with is that of analyticity. Essentialism, of a limited kind, can then be actually generated from this. An exceptionally fine-grained identity criterion for continuants is defended in this context. The debate (...) between Wiggins and Ayer over the legitimacy of de re modality is then examined in the light of these results, and it is argued that my position is consistent with Ayer’s minimalist assumptions. It is also argued that non-continuants will not sustain the essential/accidental distinction, thus giving some concessions to the sceptics. It is also shown that there are close connections between these issues and the more modern two-dimensionalist way of disentangling the necessary from the a posteriori, and that the latter needs to learn from the former. (shrink)
A major part of the mind–body problem is to explain why a given set of physical processes should give rise to qualia of one sort rather than another. Colour hues are the usual example considered here, and there is a lively debate between, for example, Hardin, Levine, Jackson, Clark and Chalmers as to whether the results of colour vision science can provide convincing explanations of why colours actually look the way they do. This paper examines carefully the type of explanation (...) that is needed here, and it is concluded that it does not have to be reductive to be effective. What needs to be explained more than anything is why inverted hue scenarios are more intuitive than other sensory inversions: and the issue of physicalism versus dualism is only of marginal relevance here. (shrink)
Properties and concepts are similar kinds of thing in so far as they are both typically understood to be whatever it is that predicates stand for. However, they are generally supposed to have different identity criteria: for example, heat is the same property as molecular kinetic energy, whereas the concept of heat is different from the concept of molecular kinetic energy. This paper examines whether this discrepancy is really defensible, and concludes that matters are more complex than is generally thought. (...) The distinction between canonical and non-canonical designators, as applied to such entities as propositions, properties and concepts, is examined, as are causal realist accounts of the semantics of such terms as ‘electricity’ and ‘mass’. (shrink)
Moral relativism is the doctrine that morality may vary from culture to culture. Given the difficulty of saying when two individuals belong to the same culture it can be taken in more or less radical forms. In its least radical form it means nothing more than that, although morality is fixed and universal for human beings, Martian morality may be different. In its most radical form it implies that each person has his own morality which may vary from one individual (...) to another and from one moment to the next. (shrink)
A line of argument, presented by David Lewis, to show that the correspondence theory of truth is not a real alternative to deflationism is developed. It is shown that truthmakers, construed as concrete events or states of affairs, are unsatisfactory entities, since we do not know how to individuate them or how to identify their essential qualities. Furthermore, the real work is usually done by supervenience relations, which have little to do with truth. It is argued that the Equivalence Schema (...) is quite sufficient to yield a unitary property of being true, and that this generates a weak, but non-trivial, version of the correspondence theory of truth. (shrink)
A major part of the mind–body problem is to explain why a given set of physical processes should give rise to perceptual qualities of one sort rather than another. Colour hues are the usual example considered here, and there is a lively debate as to whether the results of colour vision science can provide convincing explanations of why colours actually look the way they do. The internal phenomenological structure of colours is considered here in some detail, and a comparison is (...) drawn with sounds and their synthesis. This paper examines the type of explanation that is needed, and it is concluded that it does not have to be reductive to be effective. What needs to be explained more than anything is why inverted hue scenarios are more intuitive than other sensory inversions: and the issue of physicalism versus dualism is argued to be of only marginal relevance. (shrink)
An expressivist theory of consciousness is outlined. The suggestion that attributions of consciousness involve an essentially projective element is carefully examined, as is the view that ‘zombism’, defined as the thought that certain people are unconscious although physically normal, is a largely affective and not wholly cognitive (hypothetical) disorder. A comparison is drawn between ‘zombism’ and the Capgras delusion. The notion of supervenience is shown to be deeply problematic when applied to projected properties, as is the distinction between weak and (...) strong varieties. It is concluded that, contrary to most received opinion, consciousness and values are not all that different as far as these modal considerations are concerned. (shrink)
Deflationism is usually thought to differ from the correspondence theory over whether truth is a substantial property. However, I argue that this notion of a ‘substantial property’ is tendentious. I further argue that the Equivalence Schema alone is sufficient to lead to idealism when combined with a pragmatist theory of truth. Deflationism thus has more powerful metaphysical implications than is generally thought and itself amounts to a kind of correspondence theory.
Divine law theories of metaethics claim that moral rightness is grounded in God’s commands, wishes and so forth. Expressivist theories, by contrast, claim that to call something morally right is to express our own attitudes, not to report on God’s. Ostensibly, such views are incompatible. However, we shall argue that a rapprochement is possible and beneficial to both sides. Expressivists need to explain the difference between reporting and expressing an attitude, and to address the Frege-Geach problem. Divine law theorists need (...) to get past the Euthyphro dilemma, and to avoid moral externalism. This paper shows how a combined theory helps us to achieve this. (shrink)
It is often claimed, following Joseph Levine, that there is an ‘explanatory gap’ between ordinary physical facts and the way we perceive things, so that it is impossible to explain, among other things, why colours actually look the way they do. C.L. Hardin, by contrast, argues that there are sufficient asymmetries between colours to traverse this gap. This paper argues that the terms we use to characterize colours, such as ‘warm’ and ‘cool’, are not well understood, and that we need (...) to understand the neurological basis for such associations if we are even to understand what is fully meant by saying, for example, that red is a warm colour. This paper also speculates on how Hardin’s strategy can be generalized. A PowerPoint presentation that depicts inverted colour qualia is attached as an appendix. (shrink)
It is argued that it is very hard to analyse causation in such a way that prevents everything from causing everything else. This is particularly true if we assume that the causal relation is transitive, for it all too often happens that causal chains that we wish to keep separate pass through common intermediate events. It is also argued that treating causes as aspects of events, rather than the events themselves, will not solve this problem. This is because aspects have (...) to be highly disjunctive, and disjunctive conditions tend to undermine causal connections, a fact that is most clearly seen when causation is analysed in terms of INUS conditions. It is concluded that reductive analyses of causation do not work, and that transitivity can only be guaranteed in cases where the elements of the causal chain constitute an independently understood causal process. (shrink)