In part one I present a positive argument for the claim that philosophical argument can rationally overturn commonsense. It is widely agreed that science can overturn commonsense. But every scientific argument, I argue, relies on philosophical assumptions. If the scientific argument succeeds, then its philosophical assumptions must be more worthy of belief than the commonsense proposition under attack. But this means there could be a philosophical argument against commonsense, (...) each of whose premises is just as worthy of belief as the scientist’s philosophical assumptions. If so, then the purely philosophical argument will also succeed. In part two I consider three motivations, each of which comprises a distinct philosophical methodology, for the opposing view: (1) the Moorean idea that commonsense enjoys greater plausibility than philosophy; (2) case judgments should trump general principles; (3) reflective equilibrium and conservatism. I argue that all three motivations fail. (shrink)
The contributors to this volume examine recent controversies about the importance of commonsense psychology for our understanding of the human mind. Commonsense provides a familiar and friendly psychological scheme by which to talk about the mind. Its categories tend to portray the mind as quite different from the rest of nature, and thus irreducible to physical matters and its laws. In this volume a variety of positions on commonsense psychology from critical (...) to supportive, from exegetical to speculative, are represented. Among the questions posed are: Is commonsense psychology an empirical theory, a body of analytic knowledge, a practice or a strategy? If it is a legitimate enterprise can it be naturalized or not? If it is not legitimate can it be eliminated? Is its fate tied to our understanding of consciousness? Should we approach its concepts and generalizations from the standpoint of conceptual analysis or from the philosophy of science? (shrink)
In addition to being a founder of American pragmatism, Charles Sanders Peirce was a scientist and an empiricist. A core aspect of his thoroughgoing empiricism was a mindset that treats all attitudes as revisable. His fallibilism seems to require us to constantly seek out new information, and to not be content holding any beliefs uncritically. At the same time, Peirce often states that commonsense has an important role to play in both scientific and vital inquiry, and that (...) there cannot be any “direct profit in going behind commonsense.” Our question is the following: alongside a scientific mindset and a commitment to the method of inquiry, where does commonsense fit in? Peirce does at times directly address commonsense; however, those explicit engagements are relatively infrequent. In this paper, we argue that getting a firm grip on the role of commonsense in Peirce’s philosophy requires a three-pronged investigation, targeting his treatment of commonsense alongside his more numerous remarks on intuition and instinct. By excavating and developing Peirce’s concepts of instinct and intuition, we show that his respect for commonsense coheres with his insistence on the methodological superiority of inquiry. We conclude that Peirce shows us the way to a distinctive epistemic position balancing fallibilism and anti-scepticism, a pragmatist commonsense position of considerable interest for contemporary epistemology given current interest in the relation of intuition and reason. (shrink)
In this article I pay attention to some of the reviews that Reason in CommonSense of George Santayana received from some of the most outstanding philosophers of his time: E. Albee, J. Dewey, A.W. Moore, G. E. Moore, C. S. Peirce and F. C S. Schiller. My paper is arranged in six sections: 1) Biographical circumstances of Reason in CommonSense; 2) Peirce’s reading of Santayana; 3) The reviews of John Dewey; 4) Other readers of (...) Reason in CommonSense; 5) Santayana returns on his book; and, finally, by way of conclusion, 6) Reading today Reason in CommonSense. (shrink)
The paper suggests a distinction between two dimensions of grasp of concepts within an inferentialist approach to conceptual content: a commonsense "minimum" version, where a simple speaker needs just a few inferences to grasp a concept C, and an expert version, where the specialist is able to master a wide range of inferential transitions involving C. This paper tries to defend this distinction and to explore some of its basic implications.
According to a widespread view, one of the most important roles of education is the nurturing of commonsense. In this article I turn to Gilles Deleuze’s concept of sense to develop a contrary view of education—one that views education as a radical challenge to commonsense. The discussion will centre on the relation of sense and commonsense to thinking. Although adherents of commonsense refer to it as the (...) basis of all thought and appeal to critical thinking as instrumental in eliminating its occasional errors, I shall argue, following Deleuze, that commonsense education in fact thwarts thinking, while only education which revolves around making sense may provoke thinking that goes beyond the self-evident. I demonstrate how making sense can become an educational encounter that breaks hierarchies and generates thinking independently of the thinker’s knowledge and place in the sociopolitical order. The present article attempts, therefore, to put some sense into Deleuzian education for thinking, and thereby shed new light on its radical-political, counter-commonsensical power. (shrink)
Philosophers from Plotinus to Paul Churchland have yielded to the temptation to embrace doctrines which contradict the core beliefs of commonsense. Philosophical realists have on the other hand sought to counter this temptation and to vindicate those core beliefs. The remarks which follow are to be understood as a further twist of the wheel in this never-ending battle. They pertain to the core beliefs of commonsense concerning the external reality that is given in everyday (...) experience -the beliefs of folk physics, as we might call them. Just as critics of Churchland et al. have argued that the folk-psychological ontology of beliefs, desires, etc. yields the best explanation we can have of the order of cognitive phenomena conceived from the perspective of first-person experience, so we shall argue that (1) the commonsensical ontology of folk physics yields the best explanation we can have of our externally directed cognitive experience and that (2) an ontology of mesoscopic things, events and processes must play a role, in particular, in our best scientific theory of human action. (shrink)
This paper considers the relationship between science and commonsense. It takes as its point of departure, Eddington’s distinction between the table of physics and the table of commonsense, as well as Eddington’s suggestion that science shows commonsense to be false. Against the suggestion that science shows commonsense to be false, it is argued that there is a form of commonsense, basic commonsense, which (...) is not typically overthrown by scientific research. Such basic commonsense is strongly confirmed by our everyday experience and may itself serve as the basic for scientific realism. (shrink)
Can there be a theory-free experience? And what would be the object of such an experience. Drawing on ideas set out by Husserl in the “Crisis” and in the second book of his “Ideas”, the paper presents answers to these questions in such a way as to provide a systematic survey of the content and ontology of commonsense. In the second part of the paper Husserl’s ideas on the relationship between the common-sense world (what he (...) called the ‘life-world’) and the world of physical theory are subjected to a critical evaluation. The relation of Husserl’s ideas to current work in folk psychology and naive physics and to the direct realism of J. J. Gibson are also treated. (shrink)
In this 2004 book, Noah Lemos presents a strong defense of the commonsense tradition, the view that we may take as data for philosophical inquiry many of the things we ordinarily think we know. He discusses the main features of that tradition as expounded by Thomas Reid, G. E. Moore and Roderick Chisholm. For a long time commonsense philosophers have been subject to two main objections: that they fail to give any non-circular argument for (...) the reliability of memory and perception; and that they pick out instances of knowledge without knowing a criterion for knowledge. Lemos defends the appeal to what we ordinarily think we know in both epistemology and ethics and thus rejects the charge that commonsense is dogmatic, unphilosophical or question-begging. Written in a clear and engaging style, this book will appeal to students and philosophers in epistemology and ethics. (shrink)
This paper approaches the question of the relations between laypeople and experts by examining the relations between commonsense and philosophy. The analysis of the philosophical discussions of the concept of commonsense reveals how it provides democratic politics with an egalitarian foundation, but also indicates how problematic this foundation can be. The egalitarian foundation is revealed by analyzing arguments for the validity of commonsense in the writings of Thomas Reid. However, a look (...) at three modern philosophers committed to the link between philosophy and commonsense – Descartes, Berkeley and, again, Reid – shows that each assigns very different contents to the concept. This raises the suspicion that modern commonsense is not only an egalitarian element, but also a rhetorical tool with which intellectuals attempt to shape the views of the lay masses. The last part suggests that the way out of the predicament is rejecting the supposition that commonsense is a unified, homogeneous whole. An alternative is sketched through Antonio Gramsci’s concept of commonsense. (shrink)
A review of: Manfred Kuehn. Scottish CommonSense in Germany, 1768-1800: A Contribution to the History of Critical Philosophy. (McGill-Queen's Studies in the History of Ideas.) xiv + 300 pp., app., bibl., index. Kingston, Ont./Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1987. $35.
Many moral philosophers tend to construe the aims of ethics as the interpretation and critique of ‘common-sense morality’. This approach is defended by Henry Sidgwick in his influential The Methods of Ethics and presented as a development of a basically Socratic idea of philosophical method. However, Sidgwick's focus on our general beliefs about right and wrong action drew attention away from the Socratic insistence on treating beliefs as one expression of our wider dispositions. -/- Understanding the historical contingency (...) of Sidgwick's approach to ethics can help us reflect on whether there are other ways in which modern ethics can be Socratic. (shrink)
In Psychoanalysis, its image and its public Moscovici introduced the theory of social representations and took further the project of rehabilitating commonsense. In this paper I examine this project through a consideration of the problem of cognitive polyphasia, and the continuity and discontinuity between different systems of knowing. Focusing on the relations between science and commonsense. I ask why, despite considerable evidence to the contrary, the scientific imagination tends to deny its relation to (...) class='Hi'>commonsense and believe that can displace it. I argue that the psychosocial dynamic between commonsense and science is revealing of how heavily they are entangled in, and indeed indebted to each other. Even more, this dynamic allows for a full appreciation of what the theory of social representations calls states of cognitive polyphasia. Different systems of thinking and knowing do not displace each other but live side by side, co-existing in a variety of ways, fulfilling different functions and answering different needs in social life. (shrink)
On the question of precisely what role commonsense (or related datum like folk psychology, trust in pre-theoretic/intuitive judgments, etc.) should have in reigning in the possible excesses of our philosophical methods, the so-called ‘continental’ answer to this question, for the vast majority, would be “as little as possible”, whereas the analytic answer for the vast majority would be “a reasonably central one”. While this difference at the level of both rhetoric and meta-philosophy is sometimes – perhaps often (...) – problematised by the actual philosophical practices of representative philosophers of either tradition, I will argue that this norm (and its absence) nonetheless continues to play an important justificatory role in relation to the use of some rather different methodological practices. In particular, many analytic philosophers not only explicitly invoke the value of commonsense, but they also implicitly value it via techniques like conceptual analysis that want to explicate folk psychology and/or lay bare what is already embedded in the linguistic norms of a given culture, the widespread use of thought experiments and the way they function as ‘intuition pumps’, as well as the general aim to achieve ‘reflective equilibrium’ between our intuitions and reflective judgments in epistemology and political philosophy. Such methods, I will argue, enshrine a conservative, or, more positively, a modest understanding of the philosophical project in that it is invested in cohering with both a given body of knowledge and commonsense. These methods are notably less perspicuous in continental philosophy. To bring some of the reasons why this might be so to the fore, this paper considers Deleuze’s sustained attack on both good and commonsense, which he argues are fundamental to the prevalence of a dogmatic image of thought. If Deleuze is right about this, and if the analytic tradition distils and perfects certain methods that are closely associated with this image of thought, then we have here a rather stark methodological contrast that calls for elaboration and evaluation. (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen endorses both common-sense realism — the view, roughly, that the ordinary macroscopic objects that we take to exist actually do exist — and constructive empiricism — the view, roughly, that the aim of science is truth about the observable world. But what happens if common-sense realism and science come into conflict? I argue that it is reasonable to think that they could come into conflict, by giving some motivation for a mental monist solution (...) to the measurement problem of quantum mechanics. I then consider whether, in a situation where science favors the mental monist interpretation, van Fraassen would want to give up common-sense realism or would want to give up science. (shrink)
The essay is a written version of a talk Nakamura Yūjirō gave at the Collège international de philosophie in Paris in 1983. In the talk Nakamura connects the issue of commonsense in his own work to that of place in Nishida Kitarō and the creative imagination in Miki Kiyoshi. He presents this connection between the notions of commonsense, imagination, and place as constituting one important thread in contemporary Japanese philosophy. He begins by discussing the (...) significance of place (basho) that is being rediscovered today in response to the shortcomings of the modern Western paradigm, and discusses it in its various senses, such as ontological ground or substratum, the body, symbolic space, and linguistic or discursive topos in ancient rhetoric. He then relates this issue to the philosophy of place Nishida developed in the late 1920s, and after providing an explication of Nishida’s theory, discusses it further in light of some linguistic and psychological theories. Nakamura goes on to discuss his own interest in the notion of commonsense traceable to Aristotle and its connection to the rhetorical concept of topos, and Miki’s development of the notion of the imagination in the 1930s in response to Nishida’s theory. And in doing so he ties all three—commonsense, place, and imagination—together as suggestive of an alternative to the modern Cartesian standpoint of the rational subject that has constituted the traditional paradigm of the modern West. (shrink)
The emphasis on God in American psychology of religion generates the problem of explaining divine-versus-natural causality in “spiritual experiences.” Especially “theistic psychology” champions divine involvement. However, its argument exposes a methodological error: to pit popular religious opinions against technical scientific conclusions. Countering such homogenizing “postmodern agnosticism,” Bernard Lonergan explained these two as different modes of thinking: “commonsense” and “theory”—which resolves the problem: When theoretical science is matched with theoretical theology, “the God-hypothesis” explains the existence of things whereas (...) science explains their natures; and, barring miracles, God is irrelevant to natural science. A review of the field shows that the problem is pervasive; attention to “miracles”—popularly so-named versus technically—focuses the claims of divine-versus-natural causality; and specifications of the meaning of spiritual, spirituality, science, worldview, and meaning itself offer further clarity. The problem is not naturalism versus theism, but commonsensical versus theoretical thinking. This solution demands “hard” social science. (shrink)
This is an essay on G. E. Moore’s argument in defense of commonsense against David Hume’s theory. However, the burden of essay is to show that, though Moore derived has argument from Thomas Reid, it was the latter who noted that the defense of commonsense required more than showing that Hume’s theory conflicted with commonsense. It required supplying a better theory than that of Hume’s of the operations of the human mind, (...) and especially, a better theory of the evidence and justification of commonsense beliefs. The essay is a formulation and defense of Reid’s theory of conception, conviction and evidence. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the circumstances in which it would be right to revise a common-sense psychological categorisation -- such as the common-sense categorisation of emotions -- in the light of the results of empirical investigation. I argue that an answer to that question, familiar from eliminitivist arguments, should be rejected, and suggest that the issue turns on the ontological commitments of the explanations that common-sense psychological states enter into.
Peter van Inwagen and Colin McGinn hold that there are strong arguments for strict incompatibilism, i.e. for the claim that the free will thesis (F) is inconsistent not just with determinism but with the negation of determinism as well. Interestingly, both authors deny that these arguments are apt to justify the claim that (F) is false. I argue that van Inwagen and McGinn are right in taking the fact that epistemic commitment to (F) is deeply rooted in common (...) class='Hi'>sense to cast doubt on arguments to the conclusion that (F) is false. However, instead of declaring free will to be a mystery (van Inwagen) or claiming that the problem of free will amounts to a problem whose correct solution is cognitively closed to human intellect (McGinn), I propose to simply view the problem of free will as a hard problem – its hardness being due to the fact that it involves a large variety of concepts whose correct explication is philosophically moot. (shrink)
Kant’s reputation for making absolutist claims about universal and necessary conditions for the possibility of experience are put here in the broader context of his goals for the Critical philosophy. It is shown that within that context, Kant’s claims can be seen as considerably more innocuous than they are traditionally regarded, underscoring his deep respect for “commonsense” and sharing surprisingly similar goals with Wittgenstein in terms of what philosophy can, and at least as importantly cannot, provide.
The unfinished nature of Beauchamp and Childress’s account of the common morality after 34 years and seven editions raises questions about what is lacking, specifically in the way they carry out their project, more generally in the presuppositions of the classical liberal tradition on which they rely. Their wide-ranging review of ethical theories has not provided a method by which to move beyond a hypothetical approach to justification or, on a practical level regarding values conflict, beyond a questionable appeal (...) to consensus. My major purpose in this paper is to introduce the thought of Bernard Lonergan as offering a way toward such a methodological breakthrough. In the first section, I consider Beauchamp and Childress’s defense of their theory of the common morality. In the second, I relate a persisting vacillation in their argument regarding the relative importance of reason and experience to a similar tension in classical liberal theory. In the third, I consider aspects of Lonergan’s generalized empirical method as a way to address problems that surface in the first two sections of the paper: (1) the structural relation of reason and experience in human action; and (2) the importance of theory for practice in terms of what Lonergan calls “commonsense” and “general bias.”. (shrink)
Confronted with the recent changes in South American politics, this article aims at providing a critical reflection upon the relation between state and commonsense. To this effect the work of Antonio Gramsci gains particular relevance. In fact, the intellectual and moral reform promoted by Gramsci supposes the critic of commonsense. This critic consists not of a massive refusal, but of a dialectical work, aimed at overcoming the tensions inherent to the phenomenon. This article identifies (...) these tensions with three distinguishable but nonetheless articulated problems: the disarrangement of theory and practice, the dissociation of the high and the low, and the confusion of the old and the new. This analytical approach to the Gramscian conception of commonsense allows to clarify the task of an intellectual and moral reform aimed at providing the ethical foundation of the state. On this basis, the article ends with some reflections on the use of the notions of "populism" and of the "national-popular" in current South American public debate. (shrink)
This collection of 17 articles offers an overview of the philosophical activities of a group of philosophers working at the Groningen University. The meta-methodological assumption which unifies the research of this group, holds that there is a way to do philosophy which is a middle course between abstract normative philosophy of science and descriptive social studies of science. On the one hand it is argued with social studies of science that philosophy should take notice of what scientists actually do. On (...) the other hand, however, it is claimed that philosophy can and should aim to reveal cognitive patterns in the processes and products of scientific and commonsense knowledge. Since it is thought that those patterns can function as guidelines in new research and/or in research in other disciplines, philosophy can nevertheless hold on to the normative aim which is characteristic of 'classical' philosophy of science. Compared to this common assumption, there is a diversity of subjects. Some papers deal with general problems of science, knowledge, cognition and argumentation, others with topics relating to foundational problems of particular sciences. Therefore this volume is of interest to philosophers of science, to philosophers of knowledge and argumentation in general, to philosophers of mind, as well as for scientists working in the physical and applied sciences, biology, psychology and economy who are interested in the foundations of their disciplines.After a foreword by Leszek Nowak and a general introduction by the editors, the book is divided into four parts, with special introductions. I: CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS IN SERVICE OF VARIOUS RESEARCH PROGRAMMES II: THE LOGIC OF THE EVALUATION OF ARGUMENTS, HYPOTHESES, DEFAULT RULES, AND INTERESTING THEOREMS III: THREE CHALLENGES TO THE TRUTH APPROXIMATION PROGRAMME IV: EXPLICATING PSYCHOLOGICAL INTUITIONS .The Groningen research group was recently qualified, by an official international assessment committee, as one of the best philosophy research groups in the Netherlands. (shrink)
Integration of ontologies begins with establishing mappings between their concept entries. We map categories from the largest manually-built ontology, Cyc, onto Wikipedia articles describing corresponding concepts. Our method draws both on Wikipedia’s rich but chaotic hyperlink structure and Cyc’s carefully defined taxonomic and common-sense knowledge. On 9,333 manual alignments by one person, we achieve an F-measure of 90%; on 100 alignments by six human subjects the average agreement of the method with the subject is close to their agreement (...) with each other. We cover 62.8% of Cyc categories relating to common-sense knowledge and discuss what further information might be added to Cyc given this substantial new alignment. (shrink)
This article focuses on the concept of commonsense in order to shed new light on the radical and pluralist democracy developed by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. It is argued that their move via Antonio Gramsci away from both Marxism and traditional liberal democracy cannot be fully understood without reference to the role commonsense plays in it. Focusing on commonsense reveals crucial aspects of the relations between (...) intellectuals and ordinary people in Laclau and Mouffe's political theory, and how they deal with problems of embedded hierarchy, characteristic of modern political thought. First I reconstruct Gramsci's concept of commonsense, trace its origins and analyze its egalitarian aspect. Next I present the concept's novelty with regard to other modern political theories and their presuppositions, and discuss Gramsci's eventual commitment to the latter. I then turn to discussing both the reasons why Laclau and Mouffe cannot accept the traditional concept of commonsense and why they assert that constructing some sort of commonsense is necessary for the formation of democratic hegemony. Finally, I argue that Laclau and Mouffe can be seen as having dealt with the problems that result from the need for commonsense and the inability to accept it only if we interpret their concept of commonsense as a development of Gramsci's, namely as a heterogeneous matrix of various incompatible "common senses". (shrink)
Is it a good time to be alive? Is ours a good society to be alive in? Is it possible to have a good life in our time? And finally, does a good life consist of having a good time? Are happiness and “a good life” interchangeable? These are the questions that Mortimer Adler addresses himself to. The heart of the book lies in its conception of the good life for man, which provides the standard for measuring a century, a (...) society, or a culture: for upon that turns the meaning of each man’s primary moral right – his right to the pursuit of happiness. The moral philosophy that Dr. Adler expounds in terms of this conception he calls “the ethics of commonsense,” because it is as a defense and development of the common-sense answer to the question “can I really make a good life for myself?”. (shrink)
CommonSense and Logic in Jan Smedslund's 'Psycho-logic'. This paper is about the efforts the norwegian psychologist Jan Smedslund made in analyzing and checking philosophically his theory called 'Psycho-logic'. I am going to reconstruct and discuss the debates between Smedslund and several critics, which have been going on since about 1978, mainly in the "Scandinavian Journal of Psychology". A result will be that the kind of modal logics Smedslund uses - a type with realistic semantics and epistemology - (...) is not the proper one for the analysis of 'Psycho-logic'. (shrink)
: According to Tim Crane, his version of psychologism is not based on the familiar opposition between conceptual analysis and empirical science. His point is not simply to consider phenomenological and empirical data in the science of the mind. Challenging the idea that investigation of the mind has to be understood “as an autonomous investigation solely into the concepts embodied in our psychological discourse”, Crane tries to argue for a more realistic picture of the mental. His rejection of “autonomous investigation”, (...) however, is based in the end on its impermeability to empirical evidence and on the consequent reduction of philosophy of mind to conceptual analysis of ordinary intentional vocabulary. This seems clear as far as conceptual analysis goes, but perhaps has some undesired consequences in terms of commonsense vocabulary. In fact, with respect to folk psychological discourse about the mind, all that Crane is saying is that — besides conceptual analysis — we have to take into consideration empirical evidence in order to reconsider commonsense discourse on the mind. This is not so different from the familiar contrast between conceptual analysis and empirical science. Keywords : Psychologism; -psycholosigm; Conceptual Analysis; CommonSense Knowledge; Folk-psychology La psicologizzazzione dello psicologico e il ritorno al senso comune Riassunto : Secondo Tim Crane, la sua idea di psicologismo non poggia sulla nota opposizione tra analisi concettuale e scienza empirica. Non si tratta semplicemente di tenere in considerazione i dati empirici e fenomenici all’interno della scienza della mente. Diversamente da quanti ritengono che l’indagine sulla mente debba essere intesa “come un’indagine autonoma che verte solo sui concetti incorporati nel nostro discorso psicologico”, Crane vorrebbe sostenere un’immagine più realistica del mentale. Il rifiuto del metodo della “indagine autonoma”, poggia in definitiva sull’impermeabilità all’evidenza empirica e sulla conseguente riduzione della filosofia della mente ad analisi concettuale del lessico intenzionale ordinario. Quanto pare chiaro circa l’analisi concettuale, ha forse tuttavia qualche conseguenza indesiderata sul lessico del senso comune. In effetti, se prendiamo in considerazione il discorso della psicologia del senso comune sulla mente, quanto Crane afferma è che – oltre l’analisi concettuale – dovremmo tener conto anche dell’evidenza empirica. Questo, tuttavia, non sembra tanto lontano dalla solita contrapposizione tra analisi concettuale e scienza empirica. Parole chiave : Psicologismo; -psicologismo; Analisi concettuale; Conoscenza di senso comune; Psicologia del senso comune. (shrink)
Education happens all the time, in all places, and during all our lives. We all know that. However, the moment we hear the word “education,” our minds wander back to school. Schools and other educational institutions offer formal education and thus formalize the concept, turning it into a quasi-technical term that goes well with “policy,” “criteria,” “evaluation forms,” and all the rest of the modern educational vocabulary. The growing formalization of concepts is in line with a verificationist ideology that thrives (...) in formal education: methods and outcomes need to be tested; we need a scientific language that measures what students learn in a scientific way; science is a priority anyway, for it informs us of what lies beyond our ordinary conception of the world. Among the goals of education after all is to teach us a more accurate way to describe the world, leaving vulgar commonsense behind. Drawing from Wittgenstein's arguments on rule following, I will argue against such temptations to attack commonsense. (shrink)
What is commonsense? -- Back in time -- How does commonsense work -- Understanding commonsense -- More than commonsense -- Commonsense and mistakes -- Animal commonsense -- More than commonsense -- Commonsense nonsense -- Commonsense test.
In this paper I set out to solve the problem of how the world as we experience it, full of colours and other sensory qualities, and our inner experiences, can be reconciled with physics. I discuss and reject the views of J. J. C. Smart and Rom Harré. I argue that physics is concerned only to describe a selected aspect of all that there is – the causal aspect which determines how events evolve. Colours and other sensory qualities, lacking causal (...) efficacy, are ignored by physics and cannot be predicted by physical theory. Even though physics is silent about sensory qualities, they nevertheless exist objectively in the world – in one sense of “objective” at least. (shrink)
Introspective reports are used as sources of information about other minds, in both everyday life and science. Many scientists and philosophers consider this practice unjustified, while others have made the untestable assumption that introspection is a truthful method of private observation. I argue that neither skepticism nor faith concerning introspective reports are warranted. As an alternative, I consider our everyday, commonsensical reliance on each other’s introspective reports. When we hear people talk about their minds, we neither refuse to learn from (...) nor blindly accept what they say. Sometimes we accept what we are told, other times we reject it, and still other times we take the report, revise it in light of what we believe, then accept the modified version. Whatever we do, we have (implicit) reasons for it. In developing a sound methodology for the scientific use of introspective reports, we can take our commonsense treatment of introspective reports and make it more explicit and rigorous. We can discover what to infer from introspective reports in a way similar to how we do it every day, but with extra knowledge, methodological care, and precision. Sorting out the use of introspective reports as sources of data is going to be a painstaking, piecemeal task, but it promises to enhance our science of the mind and brain. (shrink)
Information may be defined as the conceptual or communicable part of the content of mental acts. The content of mental acts includes sensory data as well as concepts, particular as well as general information. An information system is an external (non-mental) system designed to store such content. Information systems afford indirect transmission of content between people, some of whom may put information into the system and others who are among those who use the system. In order for communication to happen, (...) the conceptual systems of the originators and users of the information must be sufficiently similar. A formal conceptual framework that can provide the basis for exchange of information is termed an ontology. In its most fundamental form, ontology studies the most basic constituents of reality. Traditionally, ontology seeks to reflects structures that are independent of thought and cognition. The term ontology is used more broadly in artificial intelligence and software engineering, to refer to the conceptual basis for an information system. (shrink)
While contemporary philosophers have devoted vast amounts of attention to the language we use in describing and finding our way about the world of everyday experience, they have, with few exceptions, refused to see this world itself as a fitting object of theoretical concern. In what follows I shall seek to show how the commonsensical world might be treated ontologically as an object of investigation in its own right. At the same time I shall seek to establish how such a (...) treatment might help us better philosophically to understand the structures of both physical reality and cognition. (shrink)