The authors of Austere Realism describe and defend a provocative ontological-cum-semantic position, asserting that the right ontology is minimal or austere, in that it excludes numerous common-sense posits, and that statements employing such posits are nonetheless true, when truth is understood to be semantic correctness under contextually operative semantic standards. TerenceHorgan and Matjaz [hacek over z] Potrc [hacek over c] argue that austere realism emerges naturally from consideration of the deep problems within the naive common-sense approach to (...) truth and ontology. They offer an account of truth that confronts these deep internal problems and is independently plausible: contextual semantics, which asserts that truth is semantically correct affirmability. Under contextual semantics, much ordinary and scientific thought and discourse is true because its truth is indirect correspondence to the world. After offering further arguments for austere realism and addressing objections to it, Horgan and Potrc [hacek over c] consider various alternative austere ontologies. They advance a specific version they call "blobjectivism"--the view that the right ontology includes only one concrete particular, the entire cosmos, which, although it has enormous local spatiotemporal variability, does not have any proper parts. The arguments in Austere Realism are powerfully made and concisely and lucidly set out. The authors' contentions and their methodological approach--products of a decade-long collaboration--will generate lively debate among scholars in metaphysics, ontology, and philosophy. Terence E. Horgan is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona. Matjaz [hacek over z] Potrc [hacek over c] is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana. (shrink)
I invoked the notion of supervenience in my doctoral disseration, Microreduction and the Mind-Body Problem, completed at the University of Michigan in 1974 under the direction of Jaegwon Kim. I had been struck by the appeal to supervenience in Hare (1952), a classic work in twentieth century metaethics that I studied at Michigan in a course on metaethics taught by William Frankena; and I also had been struck by the brief appeal to supervenience in Davidson (1970). Kim was already, in (...) effect, construing the relation between physical and mental properties as a supervenience relation?although he was not yet using the word ?supervenience?. I assumed that a materialistic metaphysics was correct, and that integral to materialism is the idea that higher-level sciences (including psychology) are reducible to lower-level ones?ultimately to microphysics. One idea I pressed in the dissertation was that biconditional ?bridge laws? would not suffice for genuine intertheoretic reduction if these inter-level laws were additional fundamental laws of nature alongside those of the reducing science; they would be what Herbert Feigl and J.J. C. Smart, in their writings on the psychophysical identity theory, called ?nomological danglers.? I argued that the higher-level property in a bridge law should bear a relation of strict supervenience to its correlated lower-level property, rather than merely being nomically correlated with it. The basic idea was that there are no two physically possible worlds w1 and w2?where a physically possible world is, roughly, a world in which the laws of microphysics obtain and in which there are no nonphysical substances like entelechies or Cartesian souls?such that the actual-world bridge laws obtain in world w1 but not in world w2. (Thus, the bridge laws themselves are fixed relative to the fundamental physical facts and fundamental laws, rather than being fundamental laws themselves alongside those of microphysics.) Already when. (shrink)
Terry Horgan University of Memphis In this paper I address the problem of causal exclusion, specifically as it arises for mental properties (although the scope of the discussion is more general, being applicable to other kinds of putatively causal properties that are not identical to narrowly physical causal properties, i.e., causal properties posited by physics). I summarize my own current position on the matter, and I offer a defense of this position. I draw upon and synthesize relevant discussions in (...) various <blockquote>  </blockquote> other papers of mine (some collaborative) that bear on this topic. (shrink)
In the first post World War II identity theories (e.g., Place 1956, Smart 1962), mind brain identities were held to be contingent. However, in work beginning in the late 1960's, Saul Kripke (1971, 1980) convinced the philosophical community that true identity statements involving names and natural kind terms are necessarily true and furthermore, that many such necessary identities can only be known a posteriori. Kripke also offered an explanation of the a posteriori nature of ordinary theoretical identities such as that (...) water = H2O. We identify the kinds and substances involved in theoretical identities by certain of their contingent properties. What we discover when we discover a theoretical identity is the underlying nature of the kind that we identify by those contingent properties. Now, of course, it was being a posteriori, not being contingent, that mattered to the identity theorists anyway, so the necessity of identity is not, in itself, damaging to mind brain identity theories. However, Kripke also argued persuasively that the alleged mind brain identities could not be treated in the same way as ordinary theoretical identities. We "identify" pain by feeling it, and surely how it feels is an essential property of pain, not a contingent property. Thus, a mind body identity theory must provide a different explanation of why its identities are a posteriori. A new wave of materialists has appeared on the scene with a new strategy for explaining  the a posteriori nature of its alleged identities. The strategy is to locate the explanation for the a posteriori nature of mind body identities, not on the side of the world, but on the side of the mind -in different ways of thinking about or imagining, or in different concepts. Thus, on this new view, there is only one property—this brain process type, which is identical with this pain.. (shrink)
I invoke the conceptual machinery of contemporary possible-world semantics to provide an account of the metaphysical status of "bridge laws" in intertheoretic reductions. I argue that although bridge laws are not definitions, and although they do not necessarily reflect attribute-identities, they are supervenient. I.e., they are true in all possible worlds in which the reducing theory is true.
David Marr provided a useful framework for theorizing about cognition within classical, AI-style cognitive science, in terms of three levels of description: the levels of (i) cognitive function, (ii) algorithm and (iii) physical implementation. We generalize this framework: (i) cognitive state transitions, (ii) mathematical/functional design and (iii) physical implementation or realization. Specifying the middle, design level to be the theory of dynamical systems yields a nonclassical, alternative framework that suits (but is not committed to) connectionism. We consider how a brain's (...) (or a network's) being a dynamical system might be the key both to its realizing various essential features of cognition — productivity, systematicity, structure-sensitive processing, syntax — and also to a non-classical solution of (frame-type) problems plaguing classical cognitive science. (shrink)
Reliablists have argued that the important evaluative epistemic concept of being justified in holding a belief, at least to the extent that that concept is associated with knowledge, is best understood as concerned with the objective appropriateness of the processes by which a given belief is generated and sustained. In particular, they hold that a belief is justified only when it is fostered by processes that are reliable (at least minimally so) in the believer’s actual world. Of course, reliablists typically (...) recognize other concepts of justification--typically subjective notions--which are given a noncompeting sort of epistemic legitimacy. However, they have tended to focus on the epistemically central notion of "strong justification," and have come to settle on this familiar reliablist analysis, supposing that it pretty much exhausts what there is to say about "objective justification.". (shrink)
This is an overview of recent philosophical discussion about connectionism and the foundations of cognitive science. Connectionist modeling in cognitive science is described. Three broad conceptions of the mind are characterized, and their comparative strengths and weaknesses are discussed: (1) the classical computational conception in cognitive science; (2) a popular foundational interpretation of connectionism that John Tienson and I call “non-sentential computationalism”; and (3) an alternative interpretation of connectionism we call “dynamical cognition.” Also discussed are two recent philosophical attempts to (...) enlist connectionism in defense of eliminativism about folk psychology. (shrink)
How should the metaphysical hypothesis of materialism be formulated? What strategies look promising for defending this hypothesis? How good are the prospects for its successful defense, especially in light of the infamous “hard problem” of phenomenal consciousness? I will say something about each of these questions.
I argue for three principle claims. First, philosophers who seek to integrate the semantic and the intentional into a naturalistic metaphysical worldview need to address a task that they have thus far largely failed even to notice: explaining into- level connections between the physical and the intentional in a naturalistically acceptable way. Second, there are serious reasons to think that this task cannot be carried out in a way that would vindicate realism about intentionality. Third, there is much to be (...) said for an irrealist, non-eliminativist, naturalistic approach to intentionality that I call "preservative irrealism". (shrink)
Epistemology has recently come to more and more take the articulate form of an investigation into how we do, and perhaps might better, manage the cognitive chores of producing, modifying, and generally maintaining belief-sets with a view to having a true and systematic understanding of the world. While this approach has continuities with earlier philosophy, it admittedly makes a departure from the tradition of epistemology as first philosophy.
Folk psychological realism is the view that folk psychology is true and that people really do have propositional attitudes, whereas anti-realism is the view that folk psychology is false and people really do not have propositional attitudes. We argue that anti-realism is not worthy of acceptance and that realism is eminently worthy of acceptance. However, it is plainly epistemically possible to favor either of two forms of folk realism: scientific or non-scientific. We argue that non-scientific realism, while perhaps unpopular among (...) philosophers of mind, is a distinct form of realism from scientific realism, and that it is not yet knowable whether scientific or non-scientific realism is true. We also outline how adopting realism, but remaining neutral between scientific and non-scientific realism, offers fresh insights into such topics as instrumentalism, supervenience, the language of thought hypothesis, and elimin-ativism. (shrink)
I explain why, within the nonclassical framework for cognitive science we describe in the book, cognitive-state transitions can fail to be tractably computable even if they are subserved by a discrete dynamical system whose mathematical-state transitions are tractably computable. I distinguish two ways that cognitive processing might conform to programmable rules in which all operations that apply to representation-level structure are primitive, and two corresponding constraints on models of cognition. Although Litch is correct in maintaining that classical cognitive science is (...) not committed to the first constraint, it is committed to the second. This fact constitutes an illuminating gloss on our claim that one foundational assumption of classicism is that human cognition conforms to programmable, representation-level, rules. (shrink)
Reality and Humean Supervenience confronts the reader with central aspects in the philosophy of David Lewis, whose work in ontology, metaphysics, logic, probability, philosophy of mind, and language articulates a unique and systematic foundation for modern physicalism.
Human cognition is rich, varied, and complex. In this Chapter we argue that because of the richness of human cognition (and human mental life generally), there must be a syntax of cognitive states, but because of this very richness, cognitive processes cannot be describable by exceptionless rules. The argument for syntax, in Section 1, has to do with being able to get around in any number of possible environments in a complex world. Since nature did not know where in the (...) world humans would find themselves—nor within pretty broad limits what the world would be like —nature had to provide them with a means of “representing” a great deal of information about any of indefinitely many locations. We see no way that this could be done except by way of syntax— that is, by a systematic way of producing new, appropriate representations as needed. We discuss what being systematic must amount to, and what, in consequence, syntax should mean. We hold that syntax does not require a part/whole relationship. The argument for the claim that human cognitive processes cannot be described by exceptionless rules, in Section 2, appeals to the fact that there is no limit to the factors one might.. (shrink)
David Marr provided an influential account of levels of description in classical cognitive science. In this paper we contrast Marr'ent with some alternatives that are suggested by the recent emergence of connectionism. Marr's account is interesting and important both because of the levels of description it distinguishes, and because of the way his presentation reflects some of the most basic, foundational, assumptions of classical AI-style cognitive science . Thus, by focusing on levels of description, one can sharpen foundational differences between (...) classicism and potential non-classical conceptions of mentality that might emerge under the rubric of connectionism. (shrink)