Philosophers of mind have long been interested in the relation between two ideas: that causality plays an essential role in our understanding of the mental; and that we can gain an understanding of belief and desire by considering the ascription of attitudes to people on the basis of what they say and do. Many have thought that those ideas are incompatible. William Child argues that there is in fact no tension between them, and that we should accept both. He shows (...) how we can have a causal understanding of the mental without having to see attitudes and experiences as internal, causally interacting entities and he defends this view against influential objections. The book offers detailed discussions of many of Donald Davidson's contributions to the philosophy of mind, and also considers the work of Dennett, Anscombe, McDowell, and Rorty, among others. Issues discussed include: the nature of intentional phenomena; causal explanation; the character of visual experience; psychological explanation; and the causal relevance of mental properties. (shrink)
Life and works -- The Tractatus, language and logic -- The Tractatus, reality and the limits of language -- From the Tractatus to philosophical investigations -- Intentionality and rule-following -- Mind and psychology -- Knowledge and certainty -- Religion and anthropology -- Legacy and influence.
What is the relation between meaning and use? This chapter first defends a non-reductionist understanding of Wittgenstein’s suggestion that ‘the meaning of a word is its use in the language’; facts about meaning cannot be reduced to, or explained in terms of, facts about use, characterized non-semantically. Nonetheless, it is contended, facts about meaning do supervene on non-semantic facts about use. That supervenience thesis is suggested by comments of Wittgenstein’s and is consistent with his view of meaning and rule-following. Semantic (...) supervenience is then defended against two criticisms: first, John McDowell’s suggestion that the supervenience thesis falsifies the epistemology of meaning and fails to accommodate common-sense truths about meaning; second, a series of counter-examples proposed by Stephen Kearns and Ofra Magidor, who argue that worlds may differ semantically without differing non-semantically. It is argued that neither criticism is convincing: we should accept the thesis that semantic facts supervene on non-semantic facts. (shrink)
It is natural to say that when we acquire a new concept or concepts, or grasp a new theory, or master a new practice, we come to see things in a new way: we perceive phenomena that we were not previously aware of; we come to see patterns or connections that we did not previously see. That natural idea has been applied in many areas, including the philosophy of science, the philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of language. And, in (...) reflecting on the character of philosophy itself, Wittgenstein himself associates the introduction of a new concept in philosophy with the discovery of a new way of looking at things (PI §401), and says that the point of presenting us with an imagined example may be to change our way of looking at things (PI §144). The paper considers four interrelated questions about this association between seeing-as and change, novelty, or innovation. 1. Is there an important difference between the case where the change in someone’s way of seeing things involves the invention or discovery of a completely new concept, a completely new theory etc., and the case where it involves the person’s coming to understand an existing concept or theory? 2. Is there a special connection between seeing-as and conceptual or theoretical change or creativity: a connection that does not obtain between seeing-as and using or applying a familiar theory or system of concepts? 3. In cases where seeing-as is associated with novelty or creativity, is there any sense in which the fact that someone sees things in a new way can help to explain their conceptual or theoretical creativity? 4. To the extent that there is some association between seeing-as and novelty or creativity, why if at all does it matter that one experiences things in a certain way? Would someone who was aspect-blind be any worse off with respect to creativity or innovation than the rest of us? And if so, why? (shrink)
A central theme in Wittgenstein’s post-Tractatus remarks on the limits of language is that we ‘cannot use language to get outside language’. One illustration of that idea is his comment that, once we have described the procedure of teaching and learning a rule, we have ‘said everything that can be said about acting correctly according to the rule’; ‘we can go no further’. That, it is argued, is an expression of anti-reductionism about meaning and rules. A framework is presented for (...) assessing the debate between reductionist and anti-reductionist readings of Wittgenstein’s views about meaning and use. It is argued that that debate cannot be settled merely by reference to Wittgenstein’s general opposition to reductionism. An important argument for anti-reductionism about rules and meaning, from Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, is discussed. Putative evidence of reductionism about meaning in the Brown Book is considered; an alternative reading is proposed. The nature of Wittgenstein’s anti-reductionism is examined. It is argued, first, that Wittgenstein accepts that semantic and normative facts supervene on non-semantic, non-normative facts and, second, that at many points his treatment of meaning and rules goes beyond the kind of pleonastic claim that is often taken to define non-reductionist, quietist, positions in philosophy. (shrink)
The paper considers three questions. First, what is the connection between economics and agency? It is argued that causation and explanation in economics fundamentally depend on agency. So a philosophical understanding of economic explanation must be sensitive to an understanding of agency. Second, what is the connection between agency and causation? A causal view of agency-involving explanation is defended against a number of arguments from the resurgent noncausalist tradition in the literature on agency and action-explanation. If agency is fundamental to (...) economic explanation, it is argued, then so is causation. Third, what is the connection between causal explanation and the natural sciences? It is argued that, though the explanations given in economics and other social sciences are causal explanations, they are different in kind from the causal explanations of the natural sciences. On the one hand, then, the causal explanations of the social sciences are irreducible to those found in the natural sciences. On the other hand, the causal relations described by the social sciences are not completely autonomous; they do not float free of, or operate independently from, the causal relations charted by the natural sciences. (shrink)
Is there a plausible middle position in the debate between realists and constructivists about categories or kinds? Such a position may seem to be contained in the account of triangulation that Donald Davidson develops in recent writings. On this account, the kinds we pick out are determined by an interaction between our shared similarity responses and causal relations between us and things in our environment. So kinds and categories are neither imposed on us by the nature of the world, nor (...) imposed by us on an intrinsically unstructured reality. But the picture derivable from Davidson's account of triangulation can be interpreted in either of two ways. On one interpretation, it collapses into constructivism. On the other, it turns out to be very close to the most plausible versions of realism. It is argued that Davidson's attempts to distinguish his view from Putnam's realism about natural kinds are unsuccessful. So Davidson's account of triangulation does indeed suggest a plausible view of kinds. But that view is a version of traditional realist views, not an alternative to them. (shrink)
Wittgenstein’s philosophy involves a general anti-platonism about properties or standards of similarity. On his view, what it is for one thing to have the same property as another is not dictated by reality itself; it depends on our classificatory practices and the standards of similarity they embody. Wittgenstein’s anti-platonism plays an important role in the private language sections and in his discussion of the conceptual problem of other minds. In sharp contrast to Wittgenstein’s views stands the contemporary doctrine of natural (...) properties, which holds that there is an objective hierarchy of naturalness amongst properties, a hierarchy that is completely independent of our concepts or practices. Some authors have appealed to the natural properties view to offer an explicitly anti-Wittgensteinian account of sensation concepts. The paper discusses these competing views of properties and sensation concepts. It is argued that, if our account of concepts of conscious states starts from a commitment to natural properties, we are bound to recognize that our actual classificatory practices also play a crucial role in determining which properties our concepts pick out. On the other hand, if we start from the anti-platonist position, we are bound to recognize that we also need a notion of sameness of property that extends beyond our limited capacity to recognize similarity or sameness of property. The correct view, it is concluded, must occupy a middle position between an extreme anti-realism about properties and an extreme version of the natural properties view. It is suggested that Wittgenstein’s own view does just that. (shrink)
Donald Davidson offers an explanation of first‐person authority that “traces the source of the authority to a necessary feature of the interpretation of speech.” His account is explained, and an interpretation is offered of its two key ingredients: the idea that by using the device of disquotation, a speaker can state the meanings of her words in a specially error‐free way, and the idea that a speaker cannot generally misuse her own words, because it is that use that gives her (...) words their meaning. The account is defended against misinterpretations and criticisms. But it is argued that Davidson does not explain what is most puzzling about our knowledge of the meanings of our words, or about the asymmetry between our knowledge of our own minds and our knowledge of others' minds. Finally, Davidson's argument for the compatibility of first person authority and semantic externalism is explained and defended. (shrink)
Part 1 of this paper sketches Wittgenstein’s opposition to scientism in general. Part 2 explores his opposition to scientism in philosophy focusing, in particular, on philosophy of mind; how must philosophy of mind proceed if it is to avoid the kind of scientism that Wittgenstein complains about? Part 3 examines a central anti-scientistic strand in Wittgenstein’s Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology volume II: his treatment of the ‘uncertainty’ of the relation between ‘outer’ behaviour and ‘inner’ experiences and mental (...) states. (shrink)
A stellar group of philosophers offer new works on themes from the great philosophy of Wittgenstein, honoring one of his most eminent interpreters David Pears. This collection covers both the early and the later work of Wittgenstein, relating it to current debates in philosophy. Topics discussed include solipsism, ostension, rules, necessity, privacy, and consciousness.
For the anti-realist, the truth about a subject's past thoughts and attitudes is determined by what he is subsequently disposed to judge about them. The argument for an anti-realist interpretation of Wittgenstein's view of past-tense statements seems plausible in three cases: dreams, calculating in the head, and thinking. Wittgenstein is indeed an anti-realist about dreaming. His account of calculating in the head suggests anti-realism about the past, but turns out to be essentially realistic. He does not endorse general anti-realism about (...) past thoughts; but his treatment does in some cases involve elements of anti-realism, unacceptable in some instances but possibly correct in others. (shrink)
The paper discusses two aspects of Wittgenstein’s middle-period discussions of the self and the use of ‘I’. First, it considers the distinction Wittgenstein draws in his 1933 Cambridge lectures between two ‘utterly different’ uses of the word ‘I’. It is shown that Wittgenstein’s discussion describes a number of different and non-equivalent distinctions between uses of ‘I’. It is argued that his claims about some of these distinctions are defensible but that his reasoning in other cases is unconvincing. Second, the paper (...) considers the distinction drawn in the Blue Book between the use of ‘I’ as subject and the use of ‘I’ as object. A number of commentators have contended that this Blue Book distinction between uses of ‘I’ is erroneous, that Wittgenstein soon realized that, and that he dropped the idea of such a distinction from his later work. Against those claims, it is argued that Wittgenstein’s distinction between the use of ‘I’ as subject and its use as object is correct and illuminating. And it is shown that, though we do not find the ‘as-subject’/’as-object’ terminology in Wittgenstein’s subsequent work, the essential point of the Blue Book distinction is not abandoned but remains in place in Philosophical Investigations. (shrink)
How should we understand our capacity to remember our past intentional states? And what can we learn from Wittgenstein's treatment of this topic? Three questions are considered. First, what is the relation between our past attitudes and our present beliefs about them? Realism about past attitudes is defended. Second, how should we understand Wittgenstein's view that self-ascriptions of past attitudes are a kind of "response" and that the "language-game" of reporting past attitudes is "the primary thing"? The epistemology and metaphysics (...) of past-tense self-ascription are examined in the light of those comments, and our acquisition of the concept of past attitudes is discussed. Third, does Wittgenstein give us reason to think that the identity of a past attitude may be constituted,not by anything that was true of the subject at the time, but by her retrospective tendency to self-ascribe it? It is argued that, contrary to some interpretations, he does not. (shrink)
Cora Diamond has claimed that Wittgenstein’s Tractatus contains an early ‘private language argument’: an argument that private objects in other people’s minds can play no role in the language I use for talking about their sensations. She further claims that the Tractatus contains an early version of the later idea that an inner process stands in need of outward criteria. The paper argues against these claims, on the grounds that they depend on an unwarranted construal of the Tractatus’s notion of (...) use. It is further argued that Diamond’s interpretation makes a mystery of the relation between the Tractatus and Wittgenstein’s 1929 account of sensation language, set out in Philosophical Remarks and elsewhere. Finally, the paper considers and defends Michael Dummett’s contention that the Tractatus is a paradigm of semantic realism, in the light of Diamond’s claim that the Tractatus in fact suggests a form of anti-realism about sensation language. (shrink)
How should we understand our capacity to remember our past intentional states? And what can we leam from Wittgenstein's treatment of this topic? Three questions are considered. First, what is the relation between our past attitudes and our present beliefs about them? Realism about past attitudes is defended. Second, how should we understand Wittgenstein's view that self‐ascriptions of past attitudes are a kind of “response” and that the “language‐game” of reporting past attitudes is “the primary thing”? The epistemology and metaphysics (...) of past‐tense self‐ascription are examined in the light of those comments, and our acquisition of the concept of past attitudes is discussed. Third, does Wittgenstein give us reason to think that the identity of a past attitude may be constituted, not by anything that was true of the subject at the time, but by her retrospective tendency to self‐ascribe it? It is argued that, contrary to some interpretations, he does not. (shrink)
This chapter distinguishes two uses of the terms “inner” and “outer” in Wittgenstein's writings on philosophy of mind. It discusses the inner‐outer picture by exploring Wittgenstein's account of the origin and appeal of the picture, his reasons for rejecting it, and his own very different way of thinking of common‐sense psychology. The chapter considers his account of our relation to our own experiences and attitudes, and discusses his suggestion that utterances like 'I'm in pain' or 'I want an apple' are (...) avowals or expressions of a person's experiences and attitudes. It discusses Wittgenstein's positive view of the relation between “inner” mental states and “outer” behavior. The inner–outer picture, as Wittgenstein describes it, has a metaphysical and an epistemic dimension. The inner–outer picture encourages the view that our use of language in self‐ascriptions of current experiences and attitudes is analogous to its use in talking about the non‐mental world. (shrink)
I have argued that Wittgenstein's treatment of dreaming involves a kind of anti-realism about the past: what makes "I dreamed p " true is, roughly, that I wake with the feeling or impression of having dreamed p . Richard Scheer raises three objections. First, that the texts do not support my interpretation. Second, that the anti-realist view of dreaming does not make sense, so cannot be Wittgenstein's view. Third, that the anti-realist view leaves it a mystery why someone who reports (...) having dreamed such-and-such is inclined to report what she does. The Reply defends my reading of Wittgenstein against these objections. (shrink)
What is the relation between interpreting a person's speech and actions, on the one hand, and interpreting a written text, on the other? That question is considered in connection with the theories of interpretation offered by Donald Davidson and Paul Ricoeur. There are some important similarities between those theories. However, it is argued that Davidson and Ricoeur are divided on fundamental questions about the relation between meaning and intention, about the reference of texts, about the relation between the meanings of (...) texts and the meanings of spoken words, and about the notion of correctness that applies to interpretation. On each of these points, it is contended, Davidson has the better of the dispute. (shrink)
Gerald Vision describes and defends a view of visual perception that combines a causal theory of vision with direct realism, and offers novel solutions to a number of traditional puzzles for causal theories. The book contains extensive discussions of the views of many writers—predominantly from the tradition of philosophical work on vision inaugurated by Grice and Strawson. The principal subjects of critical discussion include Searle, Sellars, Peacocke, Lewis, Jackson, Dretske, Armstrong, Heil and Pitcher.