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Sarah Sawyer
University of Sussex
  1. Truth and Objectivity in Conceptual Engineering.Sarah Sawyer - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Paradigm cases of conceptual engineering involve topic preservation through semantic change. The challenge (known as Strawson's challenge) is to explain how this is possible. In previous work, I have responded to the challenge by advocating an externalist metasemantic framework that distinguishes the linguistic meaning of a term from the concept the term expresses. In this paper I argue that the topics of interest to conceptual engineers are underpinned by objective properties and that in conceptual engineering we aim for truth. I (...)
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  2. The Importance of Concepts.Sarah Sawyer - 2018 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 118 (2):127-147.
    Words change meaning over time. Some meaning shift is accompanied by a corresponding change in subject matter; some meaning shift is not. In this paper I argue that an account of linguistic meaning can accommodate the first kind of case, but that a theory of concepts is required to accommodate the second. Where there is stability of subject matter through linguistic change, it is concepts that provide the stability. The stability provided by concepts allows for genuine disagreement and ameliorative change (...)
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  3. Talk and Thought.Sarah Sawyer - 2020 - In Alexis Burgess, Herman Cappelen & David Plunkett (eds.), Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 379-395.
    This paper provides an externalist account of talk and thought that clearly distinguishes the two. It is argued that linguistic meanings and concepts track different phenomena and have different explanatory roles. The distinction, understood along the lines proposed, brings theoretical gains in a cluster of related areas. It provides an account of meaning change which accommodates the phenomenon of contested meanings and the possibility of substantive disagreement across theoretical divides, and it explains the nature and value of conceptual engineering in (...)
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  4. The Role of Concepts in Fixing Language.Sarah Sawyer - forthcoming - Canadian Journal of Philosophy.
    This is a contribution to the symposium on Herman Cappelen’s Fixing Language. Cappelen proposes a metasemantic framework—the ‘Austerity Framework’—within which to understand the general phenomenon of conceptual engineering. The proposed framework is austere in the sense that it makes no reference to concepts. Conceptual engineering is then given a ‘worldly’ construal according to which conceptual engineering is a process that operates on the world. I argue, contra Cappelen, that an adequate theory of conceptual engineering must make reference to concepts. This (...)
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  5. Is There a Deductive Argument for Semantic Externalism? Reply to Yli-Vakkuri.Sarah Sawyer - 2018 - Analysis 78 (4):675-681.
    Juhani Yli-Vakkuri has argued that the Twin Earth thought experiments offered in favour of semantic externalism can be replaced by a straightforward deductive argument from premisses widely accepted by both internalists and externalists alike. The deductive argument depends, however, on premisses that, on standard formulations of internalism, cannot be satisfied by a single belief simultaneously. It does not therefore, constitute a proof of externalism. The aim of this article is to explain why.
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  6.  24
    Internalism and Externalism in Mind.Sarah Sawyer - 2011 - In James Garvey (ed.), The Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Mind. London, UK: pp. 133-150.
    This companion is aimed at specialists and non-specialists in the philosophy of mind and features 13 commissioned research articles on core topics by leading figures in the field. My contribution is on internalism and externalism in the philosophy of mind. I.
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  7. Narrow Content, by Juhani Yli-Vakkuri and John Hawthorne. [REVIEW]Sarah Sawyer - 2019 - Mind 128 (511):976-984.
    This is an extended review of Juhani Yli-Vakkuri & John Hawthorne's book: Narrow Content (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018)..
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  8. Cognitivism: A New Theory of Singular Thought?Sarah Sawyer - 2012 - Mind and Language 27 (3):264-283.
    In a series of recent articles, Robin Jeshion has developed a theory of singular thought which she calls ‘cognitivism’. According to Jeshion, cognitivism offers a middle path between acquaintance theories—which she takes to impose too strong a requirement on singular thought, and semantic instrumentalism—which she takes to impose too weak a requirement. In this article, I raise a series of concerns about Jeshion's theory, and suggest that the relevant data can be accommodated by a version of acquaintance theory that distinguishes (...)
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  9.  54
    The Modified Predicate Theory of Proper Names.Sarah Sawyer - 2009 - In New Waves in Philosophy of Language. London: Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 206--225.
    This is a defence of the claim that names are predicates with a demonstrative element in their singular use.
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  10. Contrastive Self-Knowledge.Sarah Sawyer - 2014 - Social Epistemology 28 (2):139-152.
    In this paper, I draw on a recent account of perceptual knowledge according to which knowledge is contrastive. I extend the contrastive account of perceptual knowledge to yield a contrastive account of self-knowledge. Along the way, I develop a contrastive account of the propositional attitudes (beliefs, desires, regrets and so on) and suggest that a contrastive account of the propositional attitudes implies an anti-individualist account of propositional attitude concepts (the concepts of belief, desire, regret, and so on).
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  11. Concepts, Conceptions and Self-Knowledge.Sarah Sawyer - 2019 - Erkenntnis (y).
    Content externalism implies first, that there is a distinction between concepts and conceptions, and second, that there is a distinction between thoughts and states of mind. In this paper, I argue for a novel theory of self-knowledge: the partial-representation theory of self-knowledge, according to which the self-ascription of a thought is authoritative when it is based on a con-scious, occurrent thought in virtue of which it partially represents an underlying state of mind.
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  12. Contrastive Self-Knowledge and the McKinsey Paradox.Sarah Sawyer - 2015 - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), Externalism, Self-Knowledge, and Skepticism: New Essays. Cambridge, UK: pp. 75-93.
    In this paper I argue first, that a contrastive account of self-knowledge and the propositional attitudes entails an anti-individualist account of propositional attitude concepts, second, that the final account provides a solution to the McKinsey paradox, and third, that the account has the resources to explain why certain anti-skeptical arguments fail.
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  13. There is No Viable Notion of Narrow Content.Sarah Sawyer - 2007 - In Brian P. McLaughlin & Jonathan D. Cohen (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 20-34.
    This is an attack on the very notion of narrow content. In particular, I argue against two-factor theories of mental content, Chalmers's epistemic two-dimensional account of narrow content and Segal's truth-conditional account of narrow content.
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  14. Entitlement, Opacity, and Connection.Brad Majors & Sarah Sawyer - 2007 - In Sanford C. Goldberg (ed.), Internalism and Externalism in Semantics and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 131.
    This paper looks at the debates between internalism and externalism in mind and epistemology. In each realm, internalists face what we call 'The Connection Problem', while externalists face what we call 'The Problem of Opacity'. We offer an integrated account of thought content and epistemic warrant that overcomes the problems. We then apply the framework to debates between internalists and externalists in metaethics.
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  15.  82
    The Epistemological Argument for Content Externalism.Brad Majors & Sarah Sawyer - 2005 - Philosophical Perspectives 19 (1):257-280.
    The aim of this paper is to show that the truth of content externalism can be grounded in purely epistemological considerations in which no appeal is made to Twin‐Earth style cases. Content externalism is required to provide an adequate account of perceptual warrant.
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  16. An Externalist Account of Introspective Knowledge.Sarah Sawyer - 1999 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 80 (4):358-378.
    The Content Skeptic argues that a subject could not have introspective knowledge of a thought whose content is individuated widely. This claim is incorrect, relying on the tacit assumption that introspective knowledge differs significantly from other species of knowledge. The paper proposes a reliabilist model for understanding introspective knowledge according to which introspective knowledge is simply another species of knowledge, and according to which claims to introspective knowledge are not, as suggested by the Content Skeptic, defeated by the mere possibility (...)
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  17. Privileged Access to the World.Sarah Sawyer - 1998 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (4):523-533.
    In this paper, I argue that content externalism and privileged access are compatible, but that one can, in a sense, have privileged access to the world. The supposedly absurd conclusion should be embraced.
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  18.  12
    The Importance of Fictional Properties.Sarah Sawyer - 2015 - In Stuart Brock & Anthony Everett (eds.), Fictional Objects. Oxford, UK: pp. 208-229.
    Semantic theories of fictional names generally presuppose, either explicitly or implicitly, that fictional predicates are guaranteed a referent. I argue that this presupposition is inconsistent with anti-realist theories of fictional characters and that it cannot be taken for granted by realist theories of fictional characters. The question of whether a fictional name refers to a fictional character cannot be addressed independently of the much-neglected question of whether a fictional predicate refers to a fictional property.
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  19.  16
    New Waves in Philosophy of Language.Sarah Sawyer (ed.) - 2009 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    A collection of papers to illustrate new waves in Philosophy of Language: -/- "Linguistic Puzzles and Semantic Pretence" by B. Armour-Garb & J. Woodbridge; "Minimal Semantics and the Nature of Psychological Evidence" by E. Borg; "A Naturalistic Approach to the Philosophy of Language" by J. Collins; "In Praise of our Linguistic Intuitions" by A. Everett; "Phenomenal Continua and Secondary Properties" by P. Greenough; "Semantic Oughts in Context" by A. Hattiangadi; "Content Force and Semantic Norms" by M. Kolbel; "Linguistic Competence and (...)
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  20.  89
    In Defence of Burge's Thesis.Sarah Sawyer - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 107 (2):109-128.
    Burge's thesis is the thesis that certain second-order self-ascriptions are self-verifying in virtue of their self-referential form. The thesis has recently come under attack on the grounds that it does not yield a theory of self-knowledge consistent with semantic externalism, and also on the grounds that it is false. In this paper I defend Burge's thesis against both charges, in particular against the arguments of Bernecker, Gallois and Goldberg. The alleged counterexamples they provide are merely apparent counterexamples, and the thesis (...)
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  21.  72
    The Nature of Content: A Critique of Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne.Sarah Sawyer - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    This is a contribution to the symposium on Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne's book, Narrow Content. I argue that the unified treatment of thought content advocated by Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne fails to capture the distinctively mental aspects of indexical thought and that the kinds of indexical examples to which Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne appeal can tell us nothing very interesting about mental states as such.
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  22. Minds and Morals.Sarah Sawyer - 2014 - Philosophical Issues 24 (1):393-408.
    In this paper, I argue that an externalist theory of thought content provides the means to resolve two debates in moral philosophy. The first—that between judgement internalism and judgement externalism—concerns the question of whether there is a conceptual connection between moral judgement and motivation. The second—that between reasons internalism and reasons externalism—concerns the relationship between moral reasons and an agent's subjective motivational set. The resolutions essentially stem from the externalist claim that concepts can be grasped partially, and a new moral (...)
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  23. Conceptual Errors and Social Externalism.Sarah Sawyer - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (211):265-273.
    Åsa Maria Wikforss has proposed a response to Burge's thought-experiments in favour of social externalism, one which allows the individualist to maintain that narrow content is truth-conditional without being idiosyncratic. The narrow aim of this paper is to show that Wikforss' argument against social externalism fails, and hence that the individualist position she endorses is inadequate. The more general aim is to attain clarity on the social externalist thesis. Social externalism need not rest, as is typically thought, on the possibility (...)
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  24.  66
    Belief and Knowledge: Mapping the Cognitive Landscape.Sarah Sawyer - 2001 - Mind 110 (438):546-549.
  25. My Language Disquotes.Sarah Sawyer - 1999 - Analysis 59 (3):206–211.
    This paper is a defence of Putnam's claim that the proposition expressed by the sentence 'I am a brain-in-a-vat' is necessarily false. In particular, the paper defends the anti-sceptical conclusion against an attack by Noonan.
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  26.  66
    Abstract Artifacts in Pretence.Sarah Sawyer - 2002 - Philosophical Papers 31 (2):183-198.
    Abstract In this paper I criticise a recent account of fictional discourse proposed by Nathan Salmon. Salmon invokes abstract artifacts as the referents of fictional names in both object- and meta-fictional discourse alike. He then invokes a theory of pretence to forge the requisite connection between object-fictional sentences and meta-fictional sentences, in virtue of which the latter can be assigned appropriate truth-values. I argue that Salmon's account of pretence renders his appeal to abstract artifacts as the referents of fictional names (...)
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  27.  48
    Subjective Externalism.Sarah Sawyer - 2018 - Theoria 84 (1):4-22.
    In this article I argue for a novel theory of representational content, which I call ‘subjective externalism’. The view combines an internal, subjective constraint on the attribution of thought content which traditionally underpins internalist theories of thought, and an external, objective constraint on the attribution of thought content which traditionally underpins externalist theories of thought. While internalism and externalism are mutually inconsistent, the constraints to which each theory is committed are not. It is this realization that opens up the conceptual (...)
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  28.  3
    Social Anti-Individualism and the Mental.Sarah Sawyer - 2013 - Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Social Sciences.
    This encyclopedia consists of short pieces on specific topics. My contribution concerns the nature of thought and its implications for the status of social sciences.
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  29.  1
    Empty Names.Sarah Sawyer - 2012 - In Delia Graff Fara & Gillian Russell (eds.), Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Language. London, UK: pp. 153-162.
    This is an entry on Empty Names for the Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Language, edited by Delia Graff Fara and Gillian Russell.
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  30.  54
    The Epistemic Divide.Sarah Sawyer - 2001 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 39 (3):385-401.
    This paper concerns content externalism and privileged access. I argue that externally-individuated concepts are not just subject to a causal constraint, but are also subject t an epistemic constraint. Their possession requires not merely that certain background presuppositions be true but, further, that the subject be in possession of true justified beliefs concerning their referents.
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  31.  9
    Externalism, Apriority and Transmission of Warrant.Sarah Sawyer - 2006 - In Tomáš Marvan (ed.), What Determines Content?: The Internalism/Externalism Dispute. Cambridge Scholars Press. pp. 142-153.
    In this paper, I defend the compatibility of externalism and privileged access and argue that the warrant transmission succeeds in cases of armchair knowledge, but that it does not have the anti-sceptical consequences that it is typically thought to have.
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  32.  2
    Contrastivism and Anti-Individualism Part II: A Further Reply to Aikin and Dabay.Sarah Sawyer - 2015 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective.
    This reply sets out an argument that demonstrates that a contrastive theory of self-knowledge is inconsistent with internalism in the philosophy of mind. It follows from my paper 'Contrastive Self-Knowledge', Social Epistemology, 2014, 28: 139-152.
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  33.  76
    Absences, Presences and Sufficient Conditions.Sarah Sawyer - 2004 - Analysis 64 (4):354-57.
    In this paper, I defend the claim that the determination conditions for thought must include absences.
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  34.  29
    Thinking About Morality.Sarah Sawyer - 2017 - The Forum For Philosophy: Essays.
    Sarah Sawyer on concepts and the objectivity of moral reasons.
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  35.  37
    Contrastivism and Anti-Individualism: A Response to Aikin and Dabay.Sarah Sawyer - 2014 - Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective.
    In this paper I clarify my argument for the claim that contrastive self-knowledge entails anti-individualism.
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  36.  78
    The Role of Object-Dependent Content in Psychological Explanation.Sarah Sawyer - 2006 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 25 (1):181-192.
    This is a defence of the role of object-dependent content in psychological action. I argue against the two-list argument against object-dependent content as articulated by Noonan.
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  37.  33
    Review of Jessica Brown, Anti-Individualism and Knowledge[REVIEW]Sarah Sawyer - 2005 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2005 (1).
    This is a review of Jessica Brown's book: Anti-Individualism and Knowledge.
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  38.  19
    Reflecting on Content Skepticism.Sarah Sawyer - 2002 - Southwest Philosophy Review 18 (2):89-94.
    In this paper I argue that content externalism does not imply a form of content skepticism. In particular, I defend content externalism against William Larkin's argument that it engenders a form of content skepticism.
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