A paradox can be defined as an unacceptable conclusion derived by apparently acceptable reasoning from apparently acceptable premises. Unlike party puzzles or brain teasers, many paradoxes are serious in that they raise serious philosophical problems, and are associated with crises of thought and revolutionary advances. To grapple with them is not merely to engage in an intellectual game, but to come to grips with issues of real import. The second, revised edition of this intriguing book expands and updates the text (...) to take account of new work on the subject. It provides a valuable and accessible introduction to a range of paradoxes and their possible solutions, with questions designed to engage the reader with the arguments and full bibliographical references to both classic and current literature on the topic. (shrink)
Are fictional characters such as Sherlock Holmes real? What can fiction tell us about the nature of truth and reality? In this excellent introduction to the problem of fictionalism R. M. Sainsbury covers the following key topics: what is fiction? realism about fictional objects, including the arguments that fictional objects are real but non-existent; real but non-factual; real but non-concrete the relationship between fictional characters and non-actual worlds fictional entities as abstract artefacts fiction and intentionality and the problem of irrealism (...) fictionalism about possible worlds moral fictionalism. R. M. Sainsbury makes extensive use of examples from fiction, such as Sherlock Holmes, Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary and examines the work of philosophers who have made significant contributions to the topic, including Meinong, David Lewis, and Bas Van Fraassen. Additional features include chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary of technical terms, making _Fiction and Fictionalism_ ideal for those coming to the issue for the first time. (shrink)
In the early part of the paper, I attempt to explain a dispute between two parties who endorse the compositionality of language but disagree about its implications: Paul Horwich, and Jerry Fodor and Ernest Lepore. In the remainder of the paper, I challenge the thesis on which they are agreed, that compositionality can be taken for granted. I suggest that it is not clear what compositionality involves nor whether it obtains. I consider some kinds of apparent counterexamples, and compositionalist responses (...) to them in terms of covert indexicality and unspecific meanings. I argue that the last option is the best for most of the cases I consider. I conclude by stressing, as against Horwich and Fodor and Lepore, that the appropriate question concerns the extent to which compositionality obtains in a natural language, rather than whether it obtains or not, so that the answer is essentially messy, requiring detailed consideration of a wide range of examples. (shrink)
Sainsbury and Tye present a new theory, 'originalism', which provides natural, simple solutions to puzzles about thought that have troubled philosophers for centuries. They argue that concepts are to be individuated by their origin, rather than epistemically or semantically. Although thought is special, no special mystery attaches to its nature.
People use words and concepts to refer to things. There are agents who refer, there are acts of referring, and there are tools to refer with: words and concepts. Reference is a relation between people and things, and also between words or concepts and things, and perhaps it involves all three things at once. It is not just any relation between an action or word and a thing; the list of things which can refer, people, words and concepts, is probably (...) not complete ; and a complete account would need to speak of cases in which the reference relation seems to involve three terms in a different way from the one already mentioned. In the philosophy of language, it has been customary to think of reference as a two-place relation, with some object as the second term and a word or phrase as the first. (shrink)
We argue that thoughts are structures of concepts, and that concepts should be individuated by their origins, rather than in terms of their semantic or epistemic properties. Many features of cognition turn on the vehicles of content, thoughts, rather than on the nature of the contents they express. Originalism makes concepts available to explain, with no threat of circularity, puzzling cases concerning thought. In this paper, we mention Hesperus/Phosphorus puzzles, the Evans-Perry example of the ship seen through different windows, and (...) Mates cases, and we believe that there are many additional applications. (shrink)
Understanding has often been regarded as a kind of knowledge. This paper argues that this view is very implausible for understanding words. Instead, a proper account will be of the “analytic-genetic” variety: it will describe immersion in the practice of using a word in such a way that even those not previously equipped with the concepts the word expresses can become immersed. Meeting this condition requires attention to findings in developmental psychology. If you understand a declarative utterance, you thereby know (...) what the speaker said in uttering the words she did. The converse is close to true: if you come to know what a speaker of a declarative utterance has said, then normally you understand the utterance. An example of an abnormal situation would be one in which the speaker’s utterance is in a language you do not understand, but you are authoritatively informed, and so know, what the speaker said. The connection between understanding a whole utterance and knowing something can be preserved by alluding to the basis of the knowledge: it should arise from understanding the words in the utterance, and how they are put together. This leads to a fairly uncontroversial conditional equivalence: (1) If an utterer of an utterance, U, thereby says that p then: (X knows this, on the basis of understanding the words in U and how they are put together) iff (X understands U). The relevant knowledge has no mysteries: it is propositional, typically fully explicit, and is invoked in memory and in reports of speech. The question to be addressed in this paper is whether we can apply this kind of connection between understanding and knowledge to explain what is taken for granted in the equivalence 2 above, namely, the understanding of words. I will suggest that we cannot. Under some idealizations, one can formulate necessarily true equivalences between understanding a word and knowing something, but these equivalences are unilluminating. The knowledge is not of the straightforward kind invoked in connection with whole utterances, and it is mysterious how one might come to possess it. An account of understanding words requires an “analytic-genetic” story, an analysis which offers some philosophical illumination while being consistent with what is known about the genesis of participation in linguistic practices. (shrink)
This belongs to a symposium about Crispin Wright's Truth\nand Objectivity. Wright entertains the "possibility of a\npluralist view of truth." I suggest that this should not\nentail ambiguity in the word "true." For truth to amount to\ndifferent things for different kinds of subject matter no\nmore entails ambiguity than does the fact that existence\namounts to different things for different kinds of entity.\nTurning to cognitive command, I argue that it is trivially\nsatisfied: if I judge that p and you disagree, then under\nsuitable conditions I must (...) take it that something is wrong\nwith your cognitive mechanisms. (shrink)
Many theories provide semantics for English by proxy of semantics for the "logical form" of English sentences. The paper presents a dilemma: if there is no algorithm for moving between English and logical form, English itself has not been given a semantic theory. But if there is an algorithm, it can be incorporated in the theory, which would then apply directly to English. In the worst case, logical form is an obstacle to providing semantics for English. In the best case, (...) it is unnecessary. (shrink)
Logic ought to guide our thinking. It is better, more rational, more intelligent to think logically than to think illogically. Illogical thought leads to bad judgment and error. In any case, if logic had no role to play as a guide to thought, why should we bother with it? The somewhat naïve opinions of the previous paragraph are subject to attack from many sides. It may be objected that an activity does not count as thinking at all unless it is (...) at least minimally logical, so logic is constitutive of thought rather than a guide to it. Or it may be objected that whereas logic describes a system of timeless relations between propositions, thinking is a dynamic process involving revisions, and so could not use a merely static guide. Or again the objection may be that there is no such thing as logic, only a whole variety of different logics, not all of which could possibly be good guides. (shrink)
I argue against a standard conception of classification, according to which concepts classify by drawing boundaries. This conception cannot properly account for "higher-order vagueness." I discuss in detail claims by Crispin Wright about "definitely," and its connection with higher-order vagueness. Contrary to Wright, I argue that the line between definite cases of red and borderline ones is not sharp. I suggest a new conception of classification: many concepts classify without drawing boundaries; they are boundaryless. Within this picture, there are no (...) orders of vagueness, though the phenomena which suggest the description "higher-order vagueness" are real enough. (shrink)
This paper explores the idea that a name should be associated with a reference condition, rather than with a referent, just as a sentence should be associated with a truth condition, rather than with a truth value. The suggestion, to be coherent, needs to be set in a freelogical framework (following Burge). A prominent advantage of the proposal is that it gives a straight-forward semantics for empty names. A problem discussed in this paper is that of reconciling the rigidity of (...) names with seeming truths of the form “there might have been such a planet as Vulcan.”. (shrink)
How successful are Fregean theories compared with guise-theoretic Millian theories in dealing with a range of problematic propositional attitude ascriptions? The range considered is roughly that of Paderewski puzzles and their relatives. I argue that these fall into two categories: in one category, the Fregean theory looks to be under pressure from guise-theoretic rivals, though I argue that Fregeans can, to advantage, borrow some guise-theoretic machinery. Concerning the other category, which includes Kripke's two Paderewski puzzles, I argue that these puzzles (...) are neutral between Fregean and Millian approaches; more generally, they have no direct bearing on semantics. Their solution requires correct views about rationality, self-knowledge and transparency. (shrink)
In Russell's Problems of Philosophy , acquaintance is the basis of thought and also the basis of empirical knowledge. Thought is based on acquaintance, in that a thinker has to be acquainted with the basic constituents of his thoughts. Empirical knowledge is based on acquaintance, in that acquaintance is involved in perception, and perception is the ultimate source of all empirical knowledge.
[R. M. Sainsbury] Evans argued that most ordinary proper names were Russellian: to suppose that they have no bearer is to suppose that they have no meaning. The first part of this paper addresses Evans's arguments, and finds them wanting. Evans also claimed that the logical form of some negative existential sentences involves 'really' (e.g. 'Hamlet didn't really exist'). One might be tempted by the view, even if one did not accept its Russellian motivation. However, I suggest that Evans gives (...) no adequate account of 'really', and I point to unclarities in Wiggins's similar, but distinct, attempt to use 'really' in the logical form of true negative existentials. /// [David Wiggins] Evans was not wrong (I maintain) to say that the senses of genuine proper names invoke and require objects. Names in fiction or hypothesis mimic such names. Pace Evans, Sainsbury and free logicians, proper names are scopeless. (Evans's 'Julius' is not a name.) Names create a presumption of existential generalization. In sentences such as 'Vulcan does not really exist', that presumption is bracketed. The sentence specifies by reference to story or report a concept identical with Vulcan and declares it be really uninstantiated. (The sentence, which partakes of play, is a kind of palimpsest.) It is explained why this second level view of 'exists' is to be preferred. (shrink)