‘That a corporeal substance, which hath absolute existence without the minds of spirits, should be produced out of nothing by the mere will of a spirit hath been looked upon as a thing so contrary to all reason, so impossible and absurd, that not only the most celebrated amongst the ancients, but even divers modern and Christian philosophers have thought matter co-eternal with the Deity.’.
Byrne's criteria for considering imagination rational do not accord with standard notions of rationality. A different criterion is offered and illustrated with recent work on possibility judgment. This analysis suggests that, although imagination can be put to rational purposes, imagination itself should not be considered rational.
Business ethicists should examine ethical issues that impinge on the perimeters of their specialized studies (Byrne 2011 ). This article addresses one peripheral issue that cries out for such consideration: the international resource privilege (IRP). After explaining briefly what the IRP involves I argue that it is unethical and should not be supported in international law. My argument is based on others’ findings as to the consequences of current IRP transactions and of their ethically indefensible historical precedents. In particular (...) I examine arguments from political philosophy for more equitable distribution of resources and appeals to property rights as a means of achieving this; business ethicists’ critiques of contemporary resource appropriations; and legal historians’ accounts of despoliation of aboriginal peoples, especially in what is now the United States, involving acquisition via conquest, asserted jurisdiction, and religious and racial preeminence. I also consider relevant human rights’ standards; supportive views of some theorists, especially early modern realists and current supporters of group rights and multidimensional rectification; some de facto incidences of substantive restitution; and proposals for effecting further rectification. (shrink)
This highly readable book offers a contemporary interpretation of the political thought of Edmund Burke, drawing on his experiences to illuminate and address fundamental questions of politics and society that are of particular interest today. For Burke, one’s imaginative context provides meaning and is central to judgment and behavior. Many of Burke’s ideas can be brought together around his concept of the “moral imagination,” which has received little systematic treatment in the context of Burke’s own experience. In _Edmund Burke for (...) Our Time_, Byrne asserts that Burke’s politics is reflective of unique and sophisticated ideas about how people think and learn and about determinants of political behavior. Burke’s thought is shown to offer much of contemporary value regarding the sources of order and meaning and the potential for a modern crisis if those sources are weakened or obscured. In addition to providing a re-interpretation of Burke’s response to a number of historical situations—including problems of colonial or imperial policy with regard to India, Ireland, and America—Byrne looks at the relationship between emotion and reason, and the role of culture in shaping political, social, and personal behaviors. To assist even readers with limited knowledge of Burke, the book includes biographical and historical information to provide needed context. Byrne’s important study will appeal to political philosophers, literature scholars, and those interested in addressing problems of politics and society in this late-modern age. (shrink)
Cohen begins by defining ‘Color Physicalism’ so that the position is incompatible with Color Relationalism (unlike Byrne and Hilbert 2003, 7, and note 18). Physicalism, in any event, is something of a distraction, since Cohen’s argument from perceptual variation is directed against any view on which minor color misperception is common (Byrne and Hilbert 2004). A typical color primitivist, for example, is equally vulnerable to the argument. Suppose that normal human observers S1 and S2 are viewing a chip (...) C, as in Cohen’s example. C looks unique green to S1, and bluish green to S2. The problem, as Cohen has it, is to explain “what could (metaphysically) make it the case” that S1, say, and not S2, is perceiving C correctly. He purports to find the explanation “extremely hard to imagine”, and so concludes that both S1 and S2 are perceiving C correctly. (That is not the only option, of course: Hardin concludes that neither is perceiving the chip correctly.). (shrink)
Philosophers have devoted a great deal of discussion to the question of whether an inverted spectrum thought experiment refutes functionalism. (For a review of the inverted spectrum and its many philosophical applications, see Byrne, 2004.) If Ho?man is correct the matter can be swiftly and conclusively settled, without appeal to any empirical data about color vision (or anything else). Assuming only that color experiences and functional relations can be mathematically represented, a simple mathematical result.
Hmm… Hill on the paradox of pain Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-8 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9811-5 Authors Alex Byrne, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT, 32-d808, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Why do humans imagine alternatives to reality? The experiments conducted by Byrne explain the mental mechanisms we use when we do just this – that is, imagine one, or more, alternative reality. But why do we do this? The general reason is to give ourselves an explanation of the world, to tell stories; at times to console ourselves, and at times to despair. A good story is not only based on a description of what happened, but also hints at, (...) or explains, what might have happened. Depending on our aim, we construct different kinds of counterfactuals. In all cases, however, we are faced with constraints. These constraints are specific to a given domain of beliefs and use of counterfactuals. (shrink)
Arguing About Language presents a comprehensive selection of key readings on fundamental issues in the philosophy of language. It offers a fresh and exciting introduction to the subject, addressing both perennial problems and emerging topics. Classic readings from Frege, Russell, Kripke, Chomsky, Quine, Grice, Lewis and Davidson appear alongside more recent pieces by philosophers or linguists such as Robyn Carston, Delia Graff Fara, Frank Jackson, Ernie Lepore & Jerry Fodor, Nathan Salmon, Zoltán Szabó, Timothy Williamson and Crispin Wright. Organised into (...) clear sections, readings have been chosen that engage with one another and often take opposing views on the same question, helping students to get to grips with the key areas of debate in the philosophy of language, including: sense and reference definite descriptions linguistic conventions language and behaviour descriptivism and rigidity contextualism vagueness rule-following and normativity fictional discourse. Each article selected is clear, thought-provoking and free from unnecessary jargon. The editors provide lucid introductions to each section in which they give an overview of the debate and outline the arguments of the papers. Arguing About Language is an ideal reader for students looking for a balanced yet up-to-date introduction to the philosophy of language. Darragh Byrne is lecturer in philosophy at the University of Birmingham, UK. Max Kölbel is ICREA Research Professor at the University of Barcelona, Spain. He is the author of Truth without Objectivity (Routledge, 2002) and co-editor of Wittgenstein's Lasting Significance (Routledge, 2004) with Bernhard Weiss, as well as Relative Truth (Oxford, 2008) with Manuel García-Carpintero. (shrink)
'Insight' is not a very popular word in psychology or biology. Popular terms-like "intelligence", "planning", "complexity" or "cognitive"- have a habit of sprawling out to include everyone's favourite interpretation, and end up with such vague meanings that each new writer has to redefine them for use. Insight remains in everyday usage: as a down-to-earth, lay term for a deep, shrewd or discerning kind of understanding. Insight is a good thing to have, so it's important to find out how it evolved, (...) and that's what this book is about. Coming 20 years after publication of Richard Byrne's seminal book The Thinking Ape, Evolving Insight develops a new theory of the evolutionary origins of human abilities to understand the world of objects and other people. Defining mental representation and computation as 'insight', it reviews the evidence for insight in the cognition of animals. (shrink)
In Religion in Secular Education Cathy Byrne explores the secular principle as a guiding compass for religions in state schools. Historical and contextual research and international comparisons explore the ideologies, policies, pedagogies and practices affecting national and individual religious identity.
The 'content view', in slogan form, is 'Perceptual experiences have representational content'. I explain why the content view should be reformulated to remove any reference to 'experiences'. I then argue, against Bill Brewer, Charles Travis and others, that the content view is true. One corollary of the discussion is that the content of perception is relatively thin (confined, in the visual case, to roughly the output of 'mid-level' vision). Finally, I argue (briefly) that the opponents of the content view are (...) partially vindicated, because perceptual error is due to false belief. (shrink)
The target article is an attempt to make some progress on the problem of color realism. Are objects colored? And what is the nature of the color properties? We defend the view that physical objects (for instance, tomatoes, radishes, and rubies) are colored, and that colors are physical properties, specifically types of reflectance. This is probably a minority opinion, at least among color scientists. Textbooks frequently claim that physical objects are not colored, and that the colors are "subjective" or "in (...) the mind." The article has two other purposes: first, to introduce an interdisciplinary audience to some distinctively philosophical tools that are useful in tackling the problem of color realism and, second, to clarify the various positions and central arguments in the debate. (shrink)
I know various contingent truths about my environment by perception. For example, by looking, I know that there is a computer before me; by hearing, I know that someone is talking in the corridor; by tasting, I know that the coffee has no sugar. I know these things because I have some built-in mechanisms specialized for detecting the state of my environment. One of these mechanisms, for instance, is presently transducing electromagnetic radiation (in a narrow band of wavelengths) coming from (...) the computer and the desk on which it sits. How that mechanism works is a complicated story—to put it mildly—and of course much remains unknown. But we can at least produce more-or- less plausible sketches of how the mechanism can start from retinal irradiation, and go on to deliver knowledge of my surroundings. Moreover, in the sort of world we inhabit, specialized detection mechanisms that are causally affected by the things they detect have no serious competition—seeing the computer by seeing an idea of the computer in the divine mind, for example, is not a feasible alternative. (shrink)
This paper elaborates and defends a familiar ‘transparent’ account of knowledge of one's own beliefs, inspired by some remarks of Gareth Evans, and makes a case that the account can be extended to mental states in general, in particular to knowledge of one's intentions.
Consciousness is the subject of many metaphors, and one of the most hardy perennials compares consciousness to a spotlight, illuminating certain mental goings-on, while leaving others to do their work in the dark. One way of elaborating the spotlight metaphor is this: mental events are loaded on to one end of a conveyer belt by the senses, and move with the belt.
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)
Perceptual experiences justify beliefs—that much seems obvious. As Brewer puts it, “sense experiential states provide reasons for empirical beliefs” (this volume, xx). In Mind and World McDowell argues that we can get from this apparent platitude to the controversial claim that perceptual experiences have conceptual content: [W]e can coherently credit experiences with rational relations to judgement and belief, but only if we take it that spontaneity is already implicated in receptivity; that is, only if we take it that experiences have (...) conceptual content. (1994, 162) Brewer agrees. Their view is sometimes called conceptualism; nonconceptualism is the rival position, that experiences have nonconceptual content. One initial obstacle is understanding what the issue is. What is conceptual content, and how is it different from nonconceptual content? Section 1 of this paper explains two versions of each of the rival positions: state (non)conceptualism and content (non)conceptualism; the latter pair is the locus of the relevant dispute. Two prominent arguments for content nonconceptualism—the richness argument and the continuity argument—both fail (section 2). McDowell’s and Brewer’s epistemological defenses of content conceptualism are also faulty (section 3). Section 4 gives a more simple-minded case for conceptualism; finally, some reasons are given for rejecting the claim—on one natural interpretation—that experiences justify beliefs. (shrink)
"Intelligence" has long been considered to be a feature unique to human beings, giving us the capacity to imagine, to think, to deceive, to make complex connections between cause and effect, to devise elaborate stategies for solving problems. However, like all our other features, intelligence is a product of evolutionary change. Until recently, it was difficult to obtain evidence of this process from the frail testimony of a few bones and stone tools. It has become clear in the last 15 (...) years that the origins of human intelligence can be investigated by the comparative study of primates, our closest non-human relatives, giving strong impetus to the case for an "evolutionary psychology", the scientific study of the mind. (shrink)
Qualia internalism is the thesis that qualia are intrinsic to their subjects: the experiences of intrinsic duplicates have the same qualia. Content externalism is the thesis that mental representation is an extrinsic matter, partly depending on what happens outside the head. 1 Intentionalism comes in strong and weak forms. In its weakest formulation, it is the thesis that representationally identical experiences of subjects have the same qualia. 2.
Remembering a cat sleeping (specifically, recollecting the way the cat looked), perceiving (specifically, seeing) a cat sleeping, and imagining (specifically, visualizing) a cat sleeping are of course importantly different. Nonetheless, from the first-person perspective they are palpably alike. Our first question is.
According to orthodoxy, perceptual beliefs are caused by perceptual experiences. The paper argues that this view makes it impossible to explain how experiences can be epistemically significant. A rival account, on which experiences in the “good case” are ways of knowing, is set out and defended.
Business ethicists should examine not only business practices but whether a particular type of business is even prima facie ethical. To illustrate how this might be done I here examine the contemporary U.S. defense industry. In the past the U.S. military has engaged in missions that arguably satisfied the just war self-defense rationale, thereby implying that its suppliers of equipment and services were ethical as well. Some recent U.S. military missions, however, arguably fail the self-defense rationale. At issue, then, is (...) whether a business supporting these latter missions may not be circumstantially unethical. No it is not, say defense industry advocates, for two principal reasons. For one, this business benefits society at large in numerous ways. And, for another, the organizer of these military missions is a superpower which by its very nature is not subject to the ethical constraints of the self-defense rationale. I dispute both reasons, argue against the second, and conclude that the U.S. military-industrial complex (MIC) is circumstantially unethical. (shrink)
Perception is a source of knowledge: by looking at a white cup on a desk, one can come to know that there is a white cup on a desk. Schellenberg’s character Percy is in such an agreeable situation, the “good case”. Her hapless Hallie, on the other hand, is in the “bad case”: she is hallucinating a white cup on a desk. We may suppose that Percy and Hallie share a very specific visual state that completely characterizes the character of (...) Hallie’s hallucinatory experience. We can think of Percy’s total visual state as entailing this specific visual state that he and Hallie share, as well as entailing the state of seeing a white cup, a state that Hallie of course is not in. Because of the shared state, Percy’s total visual state is indiscriminable from Hallie’s, in the following sense: a ordinary perceiver who starts off in one s. (shrink)
1. The “puzzle” Physical objects are coloured: roses are red, violets are blue, and so forth. In particular, physical objects have fine-grained shades of colour: a certain chip, we can suppose, is true blue (unique, or pure blue). The following sort of scenario is commonplace. The chip looks true blue to John; in the same (ordinary) viewing conditions it looks (slightly) greenish-blue to Jane. Both John and Jane are “normal” perceivers. Now, nothing can be both true blue and greenish-blue; since (...) the chip is true blue, it is not greenish-blue. Hence Jane, unlike John, is misperceiving the chip. Generalizing, the conclusion is that there is widespread misperception of fine-grained shades. According to Tye (2006), and Cohen, Hardin, and McLaughlin (2006), the previous paragraph amounts to a paradox: an apparently unacceptable conclusion has been drawn from apparently acceptable premises via apparently acceptable reasoning. (See also Hawthorne and Kovakovich 2006, 180-1.) Tye swallows the conclusion, aided by a dose of evolutionary speculation. Hardin (1988), on the other hand, rejects the first premise, and denies that physical objects are coloured. Cohen (2004) and McLaughlin (2003) claim that both Jane and John have the colour of the chip right. Our opening paragraph concealed a crucial parameter. In fact, the chip looks greenish-blue-relative-tocircumstances-C to Jane, and true-blue-relative-to-circumstances-C* to John, and the chip has both these relativized colours.1 All this ingenious philosophizing would be in vain, of course, if the conclusion of the opening paragraph were not puzzling or problematic. So, why is it supposed to be? According to Tye, the conclusion is puzzling because John and Jane are both “normal perceivers” (xx). He seems to think that it is (prima facie) plausible to assume.. (shrink)
The typical kind of color realism is reductive: the color properties are identified with properties specified in other terms (as ways of altering light, for instance). If no reductive analysis is available — if the colors are primitive sui generis properties — this is often taken to be a convincing argument for eliminativism. That is, realist primitivism is usually thought to be untenable. The realist preference for reductive theories of color over the last few decades is particularly striking in light (...) of the generally anti-reductionist mood of recent philosophy of mind. The parallels between the mind—body problem and the case of color are substantial enough that the difference in trajectory is surprising. While dualism and non-reductive physicalism are staples, realist primitivism is by and large a recent addition to the color literature. And it remains a minority position, although one that is perhaps gaining support. In this paper, we investigate whether it should be accepted, and conclude it should not be. (shrink)