Conceptual engineering is to be explained by appeal to the externalist distinction between concepts and conceptions. If concepts are determined by non-conceptual relations to objective properties rather than by associated conceptions (whether individual or communal), then topic preservation through semantic change will be possible. The requisite level of objectivity is guaranteed by the possibility of collective error and does not depend on a stronger level of objectivity, such as mind-independence or independence from linguistic or social practice more generally. This means (...) that the requisite level of objectivity is exhibited not only by natural kinds, but also by a wide range of philosophical kinds, social kinds and artefactual kinds. The alternative externalist accounts of conceptual engineering offered by Herman Cappelen and Derek Ball fall back into a kind of descriptivism which is antithetical to externalism and fails to recognise this basic level of objectivity. (shrink)
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 (...) a way that addresses recent prominent concerns. (shrink)
This is a contribution to the symposium on Herman Cappelen’s book 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 is because concepts are required to account for topic continuity, a phenomenon which lies at the heart of projects in conceptual engineering. I argue that Cappelen’s own account of topic continuity is inadequate as a result of the austerity of his metasemantic framework, and that his worldly construal of conceptual engineering is untenable. (shrink)
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 (...) in the context of conceptual engineering. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that an adequate meta-semantic framework capable of accommodating the range of projects currently identified as projects in conceptual engineering must be sensitive to the fact that concepts (and hence projects relating to them) fall into distinct kinds. Concepts can vary, I will argue, with respect to their direction of determination, their modal range, and their temporal range. Acknowledging such variations yields a preliminary taxonomy of concepts and generates a meta-semantic framework that allows us both to (...) accommodate the full range of cases and to identify a proper subset of concepts for special ameliorative consideration. Ignoring such variations, in contrast, leads to a restricted meta-semantic framework that accommodates only a subset of the particular projects while generating implausible accounts of others. (shrink)
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.
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 (...) unsuccessful thoughts of singular form from successful singular thoughts, and in addition allows for ‘trace-based’ acquaintance. (shrink)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 (...) of error. This way of understanding introspective knowledge affords a robust theory of privileged access consistent with semantic externalism. (shrink)
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.
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 (...) Propositional Knowledge" by G. Longworth; "Expressives and Beyond" by S. Predelli; "Analyticity in Externalist Languages" by G. Russell ; "Names as Predicates" by S. Sawyer; "The Epistemic Reading of Counterfactual Conditionals" by K. Schulz; "Introduction, Transmission, and the Foundations of Meaning" by J. Speaks. (shrink)
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 (...) is adequate to its proper task. To think otherwise is simply to misunderstand the thesis. (shrink)
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 (...) theory, which I call ‘moral externalism’, emerges. (shrink)
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 (...) of incomplete linguistic understanding or conceptual error. I identify the unifying principle that underlies the various externalist thought-experiments. (shrink)
In their book, Narrow Content, Juhani Yli-Vakkuri and John Hawthorne attempt to argue against the claim that there is a kind of thought content which is both narrow and theoretically significant. However, their failure to distinguish indexical from non-indexical thought renders their arguments ineffective; a large class of the arguments they present are in fact irrelevant to the question of whether thought content is narrow. The unified treatment of thought content they advocate fails to capture the distinctively mental aspects of (...) indexical thought, and the kinds of indexical examples to which they appeal can tell us nothing very interesting about mental states. (shrink)
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.
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.
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 (...) in object-fictional discourse explanatorily redundant. I further argue that his account is therefore no improvement over those he criticises, thus leaving his own account unmotivated. (shrink)
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.
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.
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.
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 (...) space for subjective externalism, according to which the correct attribution of thought content to an individual is essentially constrained by her nonrepresentational relations to objective manifest properties in her wider reality. (shrink)
This contribution to the volume explains predicativism, including reasons that favour it and different versions of it. What all predicativist theories have in common is the claim that a proper name is a general, predicative term, with a hidden determiner in its single use.
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.
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.
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.