Every body cell of an animal or human being contains the same complete set of genes. In theory any of these cells can be used to start a new embryo. The technique has been employed in the case of frogs. The nucleus is taken out of a body cell of a frog and implanted in an enucleated frog's egg. The resulting egg cell is stimulated to develop into a normal frog, and will be an exact copy of that frog which (...) provided the nucleus with all the genetic information. In normal sexual reproduction, two parents each contribute half their genes, but in the case of cloning, one parent passes on all his or her genes. (shrink)
Sainsbury and Tye (2011) propose that, in the case of names and other simple extensional terms, we should substitute for Frege's second level of content—for his senses—a second level of meaning vehicle—words in the language of thought. I agree. They also offer a theory of atomic concept reference—their ‘originalist’ theory—which implies that people knowing the same word have the ‘same concept’. This I reject, arguing for a symmetrical rather than an originalist theory of concept reference, claiming that individual concepts are (...) possessed only by individual people. Concepts are classified rather than identified across different people. (shrink)
This collection of essays serves both as an introduction to Ruth Millikan’s much-discussed volume Language, Thought, and Other Biological Categories and as an extension and application of Millikan’s central themes, especially in the philosophy of psychology. The title essay discusses meaning rationalism and argues that rationality is not in the head, indeed, that there is no legitimate interpretation under which logical possibility and necessity are known a priori. In other essays, Millikan clarifies her views on the nature of mental (...) representation, explores whether human thought is a product of natural selection, examines the nature of behavior as studied by the behavioral sciences, and discusses the issues of individualism in psychology, psychological explanation, indexicality in thought, what knowledge is, and the realism/antirealism debate. Table of Contents Preface Acknowledgments Introduction 1 In Defense of Proper Functions 2 Propensities, Exaptations, and the Brain 3 Thoughts without Laws 4 Biosemantics 5 On Mentalese Orthography, Part 1 6 Compare and Contrast Dretske, Fodor, and Millikan on Teleosemantics 7 What Is Behavior? A Philosophical Essay on Ethology and Individualism in Psychology, Part 1 8 The Green Grass Growing All Around: A Philosophical Essay on Ethology and Individualism in Psychology, Part 2 9 Explanation in Biopsychology 10 Metaphysical Antirealism? 11 Truth Rules, Hoverflies, and the Kripke-Wittgenstein Paradox 12 Naturalist Reflections on Knowledge 13 The Myth of the Essential Indexical 14 White Queen Psychology; or, The Last Myth of the Given References Index. (shrink)
Modality, morality and belief are among the most controversial topics in philosophy today, and few philosophers have shaped these debates as deeply as Ruth Barcan Marcus. Inspired by her work, a distinguished group of philosophers explore these issues, refine and sharpen arguments and develop new positions on such topics as possible worlds, moral dilemmas, essentialism, and the explanation of actions by beliefs. This 'state of the art' collection honours one of the most rigorous and iconoclastic of philosophical pioneers.
I defend the historical definition of "function" originally given in my Language, Thought and Other Biological Categories (1984a). The definition was not offered in the spirit of conceptual analysis but is more akin to a theoretical definition of "function". A major theme is that nonhistorical analyses of "function" fail to deal adequately with items that are not capable of performing their functions.
Ruth Millikan is well known for having developed a strikingly original way for philosophers to seek understanding of mind and language, which she sees as biological phenomena. She now draws together a series of groundbreaking essays which set out her approach to language. Guiding the work of most linguists and philosophers of language today is the assumption that language is governed by prescriptive normative rules. Millikan offers a fundamentally different way of viewing the partial regularities that language displays, comparing (...) them to biological norms that emerge from natural selection. This yields novel and quite radical consequences for our understanding of the nature of public linguistic meaning, the process of language understanding, how children learn language, and the semantics/pragmatics distinction. (shrink)
This paper investigates two puzzles in practical reason and proposes a solution to them. First, sometimes, when we are practically certain that neither of two alternatives is better than or as good as the other with respect to what matters in the choice between them, it nevertheless seems perfectly rational to continue to deliberate, and sometimes the result of that deliberation is a conclusion that one alternative is better, where there is no error in one’s previous judgment. Second, there are (...) striking differences between rational agents – some rational agents have most reason to pursue careers on Wall Street while others have most reason to take up a career in teaching, or scuba diving, or working for political causes. These differences aren’t plausibly explained by ‘passive’ facts about our psychology or their causal interaction with our environment; instead, these facts seem in some sense to ‘express who we are’. But what is this sense? These puzzles disappear if we adopt a novel view about the source of the normativity of reasons – some reasons are given to us and others are reasons in virtue of an act of will. We make certain considerations reasons through an act of will and thus sometimes make it true through an act of agency that we have most reason to do one thing rather than another. (shrink)
Three experiments are reported which show that in certain contexts subjects reject instances of the valid modus ponens and modus tollens inference form in conditional arguments. For example, when a conditional premise, such as: If she meets her friend then she will go to a play, is accompanied by a conditional containing an additional requirement: If she has enough money then she will go to a play, subjects reject the inference from the categorical premise: She meets her friend, to the (...) conclusion: She will go to a play. Other contexts suppress the conditional fallacies. The first experiment demonstrates the effects of context on conditional reasoning. The second experiment shows that the inference suppression disappears when the categorical premise refers to both of the antecedents, such as: She meets her friend and she has enough money. In this case, subjects make both the valid inferences and the fallacies, regardless of the contextual information. The third experiment establishes that when subjects are given general information about the duration of a situation in which a conditional inducement was uttered, such as: If you shout then I will shoot you, they reject both the valid inferences and the fallacies. The results suggest that the interpretation of premises plays an even more central role in reasoning than has previously been admitted. Trois expériences montrent que dans certains contextes les sujets rejettent des instances valides de modus ponens et de modus tollens dans des énoncés conditionnels. Par exemple, quand une prémisse conditionnelle comme: Si elle rencontre son ami, alors elle ira jouer, est accompagnée par une phrase contenant une condition supplémentaire: Si elle a assez d'argent, alors elle ira jouer, les sujets rejettent l'inférence liant la prémisse catégorielle: Elle rencontre son ami, à la conclusion: Elle ira jouer. D'autres contextes éliminent également les inférences conditionnelles fallacieuses. La premiére expérience démontre l'effet du contexte sur la raisonnement conditionnel. La deuxiéme expérience montre que la suppression de l'inférence disparait quand la prémisse catégorielle fait référence aux deux antécédants, comme: Elle rencontre son ami et elle a assez d'argent. Dans ce cas, les sujets font aussi bien les inférences valides et fallacieuses, quelle que soit l'information contextuelle. La troisiéme expérience établit que quand l'on donne aux sujets des informations générales à propos de la durée d'une situation dans laquelle une conditionnelle a été prononcée, comme Si tu cries, alors je te tire dessus, ils rejettent autant les inférences valides que les inférences fallacieuses. Ces résultats suggèrent que l'interprétation des prémisses joue un rŏle encore plus central dans le raisonnement que l'on admettait auparavant. (shrink)
A controversial question among contemporary scholars is whether advanced industrial societies are still in modernity, or whether they are on the threshold of, or even have entered, a new postmodern order. In The Consequences of Modernity Anthony Giddens writes: ‘Beyond modernity, we can perceive a new and different order, which is “post-modern”, but this is quite distinct from what is at the moment called by many “post-modernity”’. However, he does recognize that there is something perceptibly different about the present, which (...) he characterizes as ‘late modernity’, an era in which the consequences of modernity are more radicalized and globalized than before. (shrink)
Written by one of today's most creative and innovative philosophers, Ruth Garrett Millikan, this book examines basic empirical concepts; how they are acquired, how they function, and how they have been misrepresented in the traditional philosophical literature. Millikan places cognitive psychology in an evolutionary context where human cognition is assumed to be an outgrowth of primitive forms of mentality, and assumed to have 'functions' in the biological sense. Of particular interest are her discussions of the nature of abilities as (...) different from dispositions, her detailed analysis of the psychological act of reidentifying substances, and her critique of the language of thought for mental representation. In a radical departure from current philosophical and psychological theories of concepts, this book provides the first in-depth discussion on the psychological act of reidentification. (shrink)
In liberal political theory, meaningful work is conceptualised as a preference in the market. Although this strategy avoids transgressing liberal neutrality, the subsequent constraint upon state intervention aimed at promoting the social and economic conditions for widespread meaningful work is normatively unsatisfactory. Instead, meaningful work can be understood to be a fundamental human need, which all persons require in order to satisfy their inescapable interests in freedom, autonomy, and dignity. To overcome the inadequate treatment of meaningful work by liberal political (...) theory, I situate the good of meaningful work within a liberal perfectionist framework, from which standpoint I develop a normative justification for making meaningful work the object of political action. To understand the content of meaningful work, I make use of Susan Wolf’s distinct value of meaningfulness, in which she brings together the dimensions of objectivity and subjectivity into the ‘bipartite value’ of meaningfulness (BVM) (Wolf, Meaning in life and why it matters, 2010). However, in order to be able to incorporate the BVM into our lives, we must become valuers, that is, co-creators of values and meanings. This demands that we acquire the relevant capabilities and status as co-authorities in the realm of value. I conclude that meaningful work is of first importance because it is a fundamental human need, and that society ought to be arranged to allow as many people as possible to experience their work as meaningful through the development of the relevant capabilities. (shrink)
This article explores the main similarities and differences between Derek Parfit’s notion of imprecise comparability and a related notion I have proposed of parity. I argue that the main difference between imprecise comparability and parity can be understood by reference to ‘the standard view’. The standard view claims that 1) differences between cardinally ranked items can always be measured by a scale of units of the relevant value, and 2) all rankings proceed in terms of the trichotomy of ‘better than’, (...) ‘worse than’, and ‘equally good’. Imprecise comparability, which can be understood in terms of the more familiar notions of cardinality and incommensurability, rejects only the first claim while parity rejects both claims of the standard view. -/- I then argue that insofar as those attracted to imprecise comparability assume that all rankings are trichotomous, as Parfit appears to, the view should be rejected. This is because imprecise equality is not a form of equality but is a sui generis ‘fourth’ basic way in which items can be ranked. We should, I argue, understand imprecise equality as parity, and imprecise comparability as entailing ‘tetrachotomy’ – that if two items are comparable, one must better than, worse than, equal to, or on a par with the other. Thus those attracted to the idea that cardinality can be imprecise should abandon trichotomy and accept parity and tetrachotomy instead. -/- Finally, I illustrate the difference between Parfit’s trichotomous notion of imprecise comparability and parity by examining how each notion might be employed in different solutions to the problem posed by the Repugnant Conclusion in population ethics. I suggest that parity provides the arguably more ecumenical solution to the problem. (shrink)
Ruth Garrett Millikan presents a strikingly original account of how we get to grips with the world in thought. Her question is Kant's 'How is knowledge possible?', answered from a contemporary naturalist standpoint. We begin with an understanding of what the world is like prior to cognition, then develop a theory of cognition within that world.
I defend the suggestion that the rational probability in the Sleeping Beauty paradox is one third. The reasoning in its favour is familiar: for every heads-waking, there are two tails-wakings. To complete the defense, I rebut the reasoning which purports to justify the competing suggestion – that the correct probability is half – by undermining its premise, that no new information has been received.
It is possible that a fair coin tossed infinitely many times will always land heads. So the probability of such a sequence of outcomes should, intuitively, be positive, albeit miniscule: 0 probability ought to be reserved for impossible events. And, furthermore, since the tosses are independent and the probability of heads (and tails) on a single toss is half, all sequences are equiprobable. But Williamson has adduced an argument that purports to show that our intuitions notwithstanding, the probability of an (...) infinite sequence is 0. In this paper, I rebut his argument.No Abstract. (shrink)
The positions of Brandom and Millikan are compared with respect to their common origins in the works of Wilfrid Sellars and Wittgenstein. Millikan takes more seriously the “picturing” themes from Sellars and Wittgenstein. Brandom follows Sellars more closely in deriving the normativity of language from social practice, although there are also hints of a possible derivation from evolutionary theory in Sellars. An important claim common to Brandom and Millikan is that there are no representations without function or “attitude”.
In this paper I adduce a new argument in support of the claim that IBE is an autonomous form of inference, based on a familiar, yet surprisingly, under-discussed, problem for Hume’s theory of induction. I then use some insights thereby gleaned to argue for the claim that induction is really IBE, and draw some normative conclusions.
This chapter argues that there is a particular kind of ‘internal’ commitment typically made in the context of romantic love relationships that has striking meta-normative implications for how we understand the role of the will in practical normativity. Internal commitments cannot plausibly explain the reasons we have in committed relationships on the usual model—as triggering reasons that are already there, in the way that making a promise triggers a reason via a pre-existing norm of the form ‘If you make a (...) promise to x, then you have a reason to x’. Instead, internal commitments are that in virtue of which one has the special reasons of committed relationships; they are the grounds of such reasons. In this way, the will is a source of practical normativity. (shrink)
According to conciliatory views about peer disagreement, both peers must accord their disagreeing peer some weight, and move towards him. Non‐conciliatory views allow one peer, the one who responded correctly to the evidence, to remain steadfast. In this paper, I consider the suggestion that it may be rational for both disagreeing peers to hold steadfastly to their opinion. To this end, I contend with arguments adduced against the permissiveness the supposition involves, and identify some ways in which different responses for (...) different agents to the evidence might be reasonable. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to show that Shaftesbury’s thinking about liberty is best understood in terms of self-mastery. To examine his understanding of liberty, I turn to a painting that he commissioned on the ancient theme of the choice of Hercules and the notes that he prepared for the artist. Questions of human choice are also present in the so-called story of an amour, which addresses the difficulties of controlling human passions. Jaffro distinguishes three notions of self-control that (...) are present in the story of an amour. Although I agree with many aspects of Jaffro’s interpretation, I question his conclusion that self- control in the Stoic sense is best reserved for ‘moral heroes.’ I propose an alternative developmental interpretation, according to which all human beings are on an intellectual journey aimed at personal and moral improvement. My interpretation takes seriously that for Shaftesbury philosophy is meant to be practical and help improve our lives. I end by arguing that rather than trying to situate Shaftesbury’s concept of liberty within debates among compatibilists and incompatibilists it is more promising to understand it in terms of self- mastery and thus regard it as a version of positive liberty. (shrink)
In virtue of what is something a reason for action? That is, what makes a consideration a reason to act? This is a metaphysical or meta-normative question about the grounding of reasons for action. The answer to the grounding question has been traditionally given in ‘pure’, univocal terms. This paper argues that there is good reason to understand the ground of practical normativity as a hybrid of traditional ‘pure’ views. The paper 1) surveys the three leading ‘pure’ answers to the (...) question of a normative ground, 2) examines one or two of the most difficult problems for each, proposing along the way a new objection to one, and 3) argues that a particular hybrid view about normative grounds –‘hybrid voluntarism’ – avoids each of the main problems faced by the three leading ‘pure’ views. (shrink)
" Biosemantics " was the title of a paper on mental representation originally printed in The Journal of Philosophy in 1989. It contained a much abbreviated version of the work on mental representation in Language Thought and Other Biological Categories. There I had presented a naturalist theory of intentional signs generally, including linguistic representations, graphs, charts and diagrams, road sign symbols, animal communications, the "chemical signals" that regulate the function of glands, and so forth. But the term " biosemantics " (...) has usually been applied only to the theory of mental representation. Let me first characterize a more general class of theories called "teleological theories of mental content" of which biosemantics is an example. Then I will discuss the details that distinguish biosemantics from other naturalistic teleological theories. (shrink)
Conflicts between morality and prudence are often thought to pose a special problem because the normativity of moral considerations derives from a distinctively moral point of view, while the normativity of prudential considerations derives from a distinctively prudential point of view, and there is no way to ‘put together’ the two points of view. I argue that talk of points of view is a red herring, and that for any ‘prumoral’ conflict there is some or other more comprehensive value – (...) often nameless – that accounts for the relative normative weight of conflicting moral and prudential considerations. The rational resolution of conflict is possible only in virtue of a more comprehensive value that includes the conflicting moral and prudential considerations as parts. (shrink)
In two curiously neglected papers, David Lewis claims to reduce to absurdity the supposition (commonly labeled DAB) that (some) desires are belief-like. My aim in this paper is to explain the significance of this claim and rebut the proof.
The objective of this paper is to understand from a sociological perspective how the moral question of euthanasia, framed as the “right to die”, emerges and is dealt with in society. It takes France and Germany as case studies, two countries in which euthanasia is prohibited and which have similar legislation on the issue. I presuppose that, and explore how, each society has its own specificities in terms of practical, social and political norms that affect the ways in which they (...) deal with these issues. The paper thus seeks to understand how requests for the “right to die” emerge in each society, through both the debate (analysis of daily newspapers, medical and philosophical literature, legal texts) and the practices (ethnographic work in three French and two German hospitals) that elucidate the phenomenon. It does so, however, without attempting to solve the moral question of euthanasia. In spite of the differences observed between these two countries, the central issue at stake in their respective debates is the question of the individual’s autonomy to choose the conditions in which he or she wishes to die; these conditions depend, amongst others, on the doctor-patient relationship, the organisation of end-of-life care in hospital settings, and more generally, on the way autonomy is defined and handled in the public debate. (shrink)
Do we really know the things we think we know? Are any of our beliefs reasonable? Scepticism gives a pessimistic reply to these important epistemological questions - we don't know anything; none of our beliefs are reasonable. But can such a seemingly paradoxical claim be more than an intellectual curiousity? And if it is, can it be refuted? Ruth Weintraub answers yes to both these questions. The sceptical challenge is a formidable one, and should be confronted, not dismissed. The (...) theoretical and practical difficulties it presents - in that the sceptical life cannot be lived, and the doctrine seems self-defeating - are in fact superficial, according to Ruth Weintraub. Her study looks at the sceptical arguments of Descartes, Hume and the ancient Greek sceptic, Sextus Empiricus. The author argues that by drawing on philosophy, rather than science, the sceptical challenge can be answered. _The Sceptical Challenge_ is a bold and original response to scepticism; it represents a new way of looking at the field for philosophers of epistemology. (shrink)
A list of groceries, Professor Anscombe once suggested, might be used as a shopping list, telling what to buy, or it might be used as an inventory list, telling what has been bought (Anscombe 1957). If used as a shopping list, the world is supposed to conform to the representation: if the list does not match what is in the grocery bag, it is what is in the bag that is at fault. But if used as an inventory list, the (...) representation is supposed to conform to the world: if the list does not match what is in the bag, it is the list that is at fault. The first kind of representation, where the world is supposed to conform to the list, can be called "directive"; it represents or directs what is to be done. The second, where the list is supposed to conform to the world, can be called "descriptive"; it represents or describes what is the case. I wish to propose that there exist representations that face both these ways at once. With apologies to Dr. Doolittle, I call them pushmi-pullyu representations or PPRs. (shrink)
This article examines the attempts by John Rawls in the works published after Political Liberalism to engage with some of the feminist responses to his work. Rawls goes a long way toward addressing some of the major feministliberal concerns. Yet this has the unintended consequence of pushing justice as fairness in the direction of a more comprehensive, rather than a strictly political, form of liberalism. This does not seem to be a problem peculiar to Rawls: rather, any form of liberalism (...) hospitable to feminist concerns must be, at the very least, a partly comprehensive, rather than a strictly political, doctrine. (shrink)
The paper has two aims. The first is to propose a general framework for organizing some central questions about normative practical reasons in a way that separates importantly distinct issues that are often run together. Setting out this framework provides a snapshot of the leading types of view about practical reasons as well as a deeper understanding of what are widely regarded to be some of their most serious difficulties. The second is to use the proposed framework to uncover and (...) diagnose what I believe is a structural problem that plagues the debate about practical reasons. A common move in the debate involves a proponent of one type of view offering what she and others proposing that type consider to be a devastating criticism of an opposing type of view, only to find that her criticism is shrugged off by her opponents as easy to answer, misguided, or having little significance for their view. This isn’t due to conceptual blindness or mere slavish devotion to a theory but something fundamental about the argumentative structure of a debate over genuinely shared issues. Hence, the debate about practical reasons suffers from argumentative gridlock. The proposed framework helps us to see why this is so, and what we might do to move beyond it. (shrink)
....a notion of 'common, public language' that remains mysterious...useless for any form of theoretical explanation....There is simply no way of making sense of this prong of the externalist theory of meaning and language, as far as I can see, or of any of the work in theory of meaning and philosophy of language that relies on such notions, a statement that is intended to cut rather a large swath. (Chomsky 1995, pp. 48-9) It is a striking fact that despite the (...) constant reliance on some notion of 'community language' or 'abstract language,' there is virtually no attempt to explain what it might be. (Chomsky 1993, p. 39) ....either we must deprive the notion communication of all significance, or else we must reject the view that the purpose of language is communication. ...It is difficult to say what 'the purpose' of language is, except, perhaps, the expression of thought, a rather empty formulation. The functions of language are various. (Chomsky 1980, p. 230) I have yet to see a formulation that makes any sense of the position that "the essence of language is communication." (Chomsky 1980, p. 80; see also 1992b, p 215). (shrink)
Marcus argues that moral dilemmas are real, but that they are not the result of inconsistent moral principles. Moral principles are consistent just in case there is some world where all principles are 'obeyable.' They are inconsistent just in case there is no world where all are 'obeyable.' What this logical point is meant to show is that moral dilemmas do not make moral codes inconsistent. She also discusses guilt, and argues that guilt is still appropriate even in cases of (...) conflict, even when the agent thinks the right thing to do is clear. (shrink)
There are no "special sciences" in Fodor's sense. There is a large group of sciences, "historical sciences," that differ fundamentally from the physical sciences because they quantify over a different kind of natural or real kind, nor are the generalizations supported by these kinds exceptionless. Heterogeneity, however, is not characteristic of these kinds. That there could be an univocal empirical science that ranged over multiple realizations of a functional property is quite problematic. If psychological predicates name multiply realized functionalist properties, (...) then there is no single science dealing with these: human psychology, ape psychology, Martian psychology and robot psychology are necessarily different sciences. (shrink)