Donald Davidson is, arguably, the most important philosopher of mind and language in recent decades. His articulation of the position he called "anomalous monism" and his ideas for unifying the general theory of linguistic meaning with semantics for natural language both set new agendas in the field. _Interpreting Davidson_ collects original essays on his work by some of his leading contemporaries, with Davidson himself contributing a reply to each and an original paper of his own.
The paper explores the notion of communicative success as a match between the speaker's communicative intention and the audience's interpretation. The first part argues that it cannot be generalized to all kinds of communication. The second part characterizes various types of relations between the speaker's and the audience's beliefs on which this kind of communicative success can be based. It shows that the requirements concerning agreement between these beliefs are rather modest.
The author defends a combination of Strawson’s account of definite descriptions as devices of singular reference par excellence with the Russellian truth-evaluation of utterances of sentences with descriptions. The complex Russellian proposition is, according to the author’s view, introduced by such utterances into communication as a by-product of the instrumental side of an attempt to make a singular statement. This, precisely like the instrumental aspects of similar attempts exploiting names or demonstratives has to be reflected by analysis but should not (...) be confused with the communicative function of utterances. The success of all these attempts depends on the fulfilment of empirical conditions of various types, given by semantics of descriptions, names or demonstratives . But their communicative function does not consist in claiming that these conditions are fulfilled.The author agrees with Strawson that the first two conjuncts of the complex Russellian proposition are introduced into communication as presuppositions: but argues in favour of defining presupposition in normative, rather the intentional terms. (shrink)
The first part pleads for the Fregean account of definite descriptions as expressions referring to the objects which satisfy them. In particular, it attempts to give a clear sense to the idea of a descriptionś referentially contributing to the truth conditions of the complete utterance, even if the Russellian specification of truth-conditions is accepted. The second part examines a special case in which a description can be thought of as referring to an object which does not satisfy it. This leads (...) to the general question of the role of agreement between the speakerś and the audienceś beliefs in the determination of reference and utterance meaning. The question is discussed from the point of view of the Davidsonian account of utterance meaning as constituted by the match between speakerś actual communicative intentions and audienceś hypotheses about these intentions. The third part provides arguments in favour of an alternative account of utterance meaning as a set of the normative consequences of the utterance and shows that a corresponding question makes sense even there. (shrink)
The author confronts the common-sense realism with the linguistic constructivism . He argues that realism is compatible with the plurality of possible ways of speaking about the world, that it provides a good basis for the pragmatic account of language and passes the reflexivity test . On the contrary, constructivism fails in the last two respects. The confrontation of realism and constructivism on the epistemological level leads to analogical results. In his comments to Wrightś and Dummettś explications of the realist-antirealist (...) controversy, the author points out that the common-sense realism does not include committment to the non-epistemic notion of truth and to the bivalence-principle. (shrink)
In several papers, Petr Koťátko defends an “ontologically modest account of fictional characters”. Consider a position (which I have been defending) that is anything but ontologically restrained: positing fictional characters like Andrei Bolkonsky in War and Peace as abstract artifacts. I will argue, first, that such a position turns out to offer a nice fit with Petr Koťátko’s proposal about narrative fiction, one that fares better than an alternative pretense-based theory that doesn’t posit Bolkonsky as existing in any (...) sense. Second, I will explore a recent challenge by Jeffrey Goodman—which I will call the inadvertent creation challenge—that is originally posed for those who hold that fictional characters and mythical objects alike are abstract artifacts. The crux of the challenge is this: if we think that astronomers like Le Verrier, in mistakenly hypothesizing the planet Vulcan, inadvertently create an abstract artifact, then the inadvertent creation” element turns out to be inescapable yet theoretically unattractive. Third, based on considerations about actually existing concrete objects being featured in fictional works (as Napoleon is in War and Peace), I argue that regardless of where one stands on mythical objects, admitting fictional characters as abstract artifacts is enough to give rise to the inadvertent creation challenge; yet this very set of considerations serves to undermine the challenge, indicating that inadvertent creation is not nearly as worrisome after all as Goodman is suggesting. Taking fictional characters (and mythical objects) to be abstract artifacts therefore remains a viable option. -/- . (shrink)
The year is 1901. Two minor celebrities from opposite corners of the globe share an evening meal in Chicago. Both are politically left-leaning, both are evolutionists of a sort, both are concerned with the plight of the poor in the face of the escalation of the Industrial Revolution. The Russian man has been giving a series of lectures to the people of Chicago; he is staying at the American woman's settlement house-Hull House. They are Jane Addams, Chicago's activist social worker (...) and Petr Kropotkin, Russian nobleman by birth, anarchist in politics, and naturalist by inclination. Each awaits publication of their first full-length book concerning politics and moral development: Democracy and Social Ethics (1902) on .. (shrink)
In this article the most important text of twentieth-century Russian intellectual history, Landmarks (Vekhi) (1909) comes under reexamination. Looking at the rivalry of the volume''s two organizers, Mikhail Gershenzon and Petr Struve, Professor Brian Horowitz explains why Landmarks succeeded in offering such a biting critique of radical ideology, while lacking its own internal intellectual unity.
[Sensation, Causality, and Attention: Roger Bacon and Peter Olivi] This paper investigates what conditions are to be met for sensory perception to occur. It introduces two diff erent theories of perception that were held by two medieval Franciscan thinkers — namely, Roger Bacon (1214/1220–1292) and Peter Olivi (ca. 1248–1298). Bacon analyses especially the causal relation between the object and the sensory organ in his doctrine of the multiplication of species. In his view, a necessary condition of perception is the reception (...) of the species in a fully disposed sensory organ. On the contrary, Olivi stresses the active role of the sensory power. A necessary condition of sensation is the aspectus — i.e. the focus of our power’s attention on the object. Furthermore, the paper investigates whether and how each of the two thinkers can deal with the arguments proposed by his opponent — namely whether Bacon’s theory is able to explain attention and what the causal role of the object in Olivi’s theory is. (shrink)
[What is the Human Being? Peter Auriol and the Role of Cognitive Psychology in the Medieval Definition of the Human Being: ] This paper explores how medieval philosophers used cognitive psychology in defining what the human being is, paying special attention to the Franciscan thinker Peter Auriol (c. 1280 – 1322). First, I examine the motivations of Auriol’s claim that the property of being alive is bound to the property of being cognitive (i. e. being capable of cognition). Then, the (...) foundations of medieval faculty psychology and Auriol’s conception of cognition are introduced. I also argue that the emphasis which Auriol puts on the activity of soul’s faculties leads him to the conclusion (unusual in his days) that the distinction among these faculties is established from the first person perspective. Finally, Auriol’s cognitive definition of the human being is introduced – human beings are human beings precisely because their cognitive experience differs from the way the cognition works in animals on the one hand and in God on the other hand. Whereas animals have only sensory soul’s faculties, humans have the intellect in addition and, therefore, they are capable of universal cognition. Moreover, since humans have not only intellect but also the inner senses (particularly, the phantasy), the universals appear to the human intellect only as blended with the individual that the universal was abstracted from, and the human intellect is not capable of paying attention to no more than just one object at the same moment. Since God and angels have only intellect, these distinctively human features are absent from their cognitive experience. (shrink)
Centre and Periphery in the Historiography of Philosophy: Peter Olivi and Medieval Psychology The paper inquiries into the (historiographical) question what does it mean to be a “marginal thinker” in the context of the medieval philosophy. The question is investigated on the example of Franciscan philosopher and theologian Peter Olivi (1248/49–1298) and his philosophical psychology. First, a preliminary option is introduced: for a thinker, being “marginal” depends on his relation to who is considered to be canonical. Since the most famous (...) thinker of the Middle Ages is Thomas Aquinas (at least according to the traditional canon of medieval philosophy), Olivi’s positions in psychology are compared with these of Aquinas. It is revealed that Olivi’s psychology is very different from the Aquinas’ one. (E.g. Olivi stresses the activity of perception, proprioceptual nature of the sense of touch, and direct access of the intellect to its own acts.) Moreover, Olivi is very critical towards the Aristotelian philosophy as is done by some thinkers of his time. Nevertheless, it does not follow that Olivi is a marginal thinker only because of his dissimilarity from the more Aristotelian-minded ones. It is argued that “centre” and “periphery” in the history of medieval philosophy depends not on the canon (which is rather a historians’ construct and instrument), but rather on the tradition. Hence, although Olivi can be considered as a marginal thinker if we take into the account the Aristotelian tradition of medieval philosophy, he is definitely a central and important thinker, if considered as a member of the Augustinian tradition. (shrink)
I present and argue for twotheses: the first concerns the degree to whichChaadaev''s thought represents a breakthrough inthe development of Russian social philosophyand the second concerns the Hegelian characterof this thinking. I also show that Chaadaev''stheory retained an open character closely tiedto the crisis character of the social realityof his time and that it depended for itsjustification on the further course of thehistorical process, which is impossible topredict. All this leads to an interpretation ofChaadaev''s view according to which the standardopposition (...) of Chaadaev''s two best-known texts,The Philosophical Letters, with theirpredominantly pessimistic picture of Russia,and the Apology of a Madman, whichrefutes this evaluation, is rejected. (shrink)
Nová kniha Petra Koláře, Pravda a fakt (Filosofia, Praha, 2002) je věnována tématu, kterým se Kolář částečně zabýval již ve své předchozí knize: teoriím pravdivosti a zejména teorii korespondenční. Diskuse o tom, jak explikovat pojem pravdy či pravdivosti se analytickou filosofií táhnou od jejích počátků, a rozdmychány byly zejména výsledky Tarského matematických analýz tohoto pojmu1. Kolář v první části knihy probírá a srovnává hlavní kategorie těch teorií, které jsou výsledky těchto diskusí (některé z nich samozřejmě tak či onak existovaly dávno (...) před Tarskim): dělí je na korespondenční, koherenční, pragmatistické, minimalistické, redundanční a sémantické (tou poslední je de facto původní Tarského varianta). Způsobu, jak Kolář tyto teorie vykládá, lze, myslím, vytýkat skutečně pramálo: jeho výklad je systematický, jasný a názorný. Také shrnutí na koncích jednotlivých kapitol jsou velice užitečná a dokumentují autorovu pedagogickou pečlivost. Přesto bych si k této části dovolil mít dvě drobné a jednu zásadnější připomínku. Zaprvé se mi nezdá příliš adekvátní, jak Kolář používá termíny deflacionismus a minimalismus: za deflacionistickou prohlašuje každou teorii, která rezignuje na explikaci pojmu pravdy, takže mu do této kolonky spadne jak horwichovský minimalismus, tak davidsonovský názor, že pojem pravdy nelze explikovat ne proto, že by byl triviální, ale naopak proto, že je příliš fundamentální (tady se dere na jazyk termín maximalismus). To se ale těžko slučuje s Davidsonovým výslovným odmítáním deflacionismu2. Zdá se mi, že termín deflacionismus je spíše víceméně synonymní s termínem minimalismus a ty oba se mi zdají do velké míry krýt i s redundanční teorií. Druhou drobnou výhradou je, že mi připadá škoda, že Kolář v rámci pojednávání pragmatistických teoriích zcela pominul současný pragmatismus. Škoda to je pro to, že pragmatismus v současné době zažívá velký revival a i různé pragmatistické teorie pravdivosti se proto dostávají na pořad dne (včetně například kontextu matematiky). Za.... (shrink)