There have been times in the history of ethical theory, especially in this century, when moral realism was down, but it was never out. The appeal of this doctrine for many moral philosophers is apparently so strong that there are always supporters in its corner who seek to resuscitate the view. The attraction is obvious: moral realism purports to provide a precious philosophical good, viz., objectivity and all that this involves, including right answers to moral questions, and the possibility of (...) knowing those answers. In the last decade, moral realism has re-entered the philosophical ring in powerful-looking naturalistic form. ln this paper we provide a dialectical overview: we situate the new wave position itself, and also our objections to it, in the context of the evolving program of philosophical naturalism in 20th century analytic philosophy. We seek to show that although this new contender might initially look like championship material, it succumbs to punches surprisingly similar to those that knocked out the old-fashioned versions of naturalist moral realism. (shrink)
J. L. Mackie argued that if there were objective moral properties or facts, then the supervenience relation linking the nonmoral to the moral would be metaphysically queer. Moral realists reply that objective supervenience relations are ubiquitous according to contemporary versions of metaphysical naturalism and, hence, that there is nothing especially queer about moral supervenience. In this paper we revive Mackie's challenge to moral realism. We argue: (i) that objective supervenience relations of any kind, moral or otherwise, should be explainable rather (...) than sui generis; (ii) that this explanatory burden can be successfully met vis-à-vis the supervenience of the mental upon the physical, and in other related cases; and (iii) that the burden cannot be met for (putative) objective moral supervenience relations. (shrink)
We argue that the letter of the Extended Mind hypothesis can be accommodated by a strongly internalist, broadly Cartesian conception of mind. The argument turns centrally on an unusual but highly plausible view on the mark of the mental.
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)
Henderson and Horgan set out a broad new approach to epistemology. They defend the roles of the a priori and conceptual analysis, but with an essential empirical dimension. 'Transglobal reliability' is the key to epistemic justification. The question of which cognitive processes are reliable depends on contingent facts about human capacities.
I distinguish two broad approaches to vagueness that I call "robust" and "wimpy". Wimpy construals explain vagueness as robust (i.e., does not manifest arbitrary precision); that standard approaches to vagueness, like supervaluationism or appeals to degrees of truth, wrongly treat vagueness as wimpy; that vagueness harbors an underlying logical incoherence; that vagueness in the world is therefore impossible; and that the kind of logical incoherence nascent in vague terms and concepts is benign rather than malignant. I describe some implications for (...) logic, semantics, and metaphysics. (shrink)
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. Terence Horgan 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)
In “Generalized Conditionalization and the Sleeping Beauty Problem,” Anna Mahtani and I offer a new argument for thirdism that relies on what we call “generalized conditionalization.” Generalized conditionalization goes beyond conventional conditionalization in two respects: first, by sometimes deploying a space of synchronic, essentially temporal, candidate-possibilities that are not “prior” possibilities; and second, by allowing for the use of preliminary probabilities that arise by first bracketing, and then conditionalizing upon, “old evidence.” In “Beauty and Conditionalization: Reply to Horgan and Mahtani,” (...) Joel Pust replies to the Horgan/Mahtani argument, raising several objections. In my view his objections do not undermine the argument, but they do reveal a need to provide several further elaborations of it—elaborations that I think are independently plausible. In this paper I will address his objections, by providing the elaborations that I think they prompt. (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)
I propose a metaphysical position I call 'limited metaphysical realism', and I link it to a position in the philosophy of language I call 'psychologistic semantics'. Limited metaphysical realism asserts that there is a mind-independent, discourse-independent world, but posits a sparse ontology. Psychologistic semantics construes truth not as direct word/world correspondence, and not as warranted assertibility (or Putnam's "ideal" warranted assertibility), but rather as 'correct assertibility'. I argue that virtues of this package deal over each of the two broad positions (...) that have recently dominated metaphysics and philosophy of language--positions I call package deal metaphysical realism, and package deal anti-realism. (shrink)
We will here describe a conception of truth that is robust rather than deflationist, and that differs in important ways from the most familiar robust conceptions.' We will argue that this approach to truth is intrinsically and intuitively plausible, and fares very well relative to other conceptions of truth in terms of comparative theoretical benefits and costs.
Transvaluationism makes two fundamental claims concerning vagueness. First, vagueness is logically incoherent in a certain way: vague discourse is governed by semantic standards that are mutually unsatisfiable. But second, vagueness is viable and legitimate nonetheless; its logical incoherence is benign.
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)