In communities of user-generated content, systems for the management of content and/or their contributors are usually accepted without much protest. Not so, however, in the case of Wikipedia, in which the proposal to introduce a system of review for new edits (in order to counter vandalism) led to heated discussions. This debate is analysed, and arguments of both supporters and opponents (of English, German and French tongue) are extracted from Wikipedian archives. In order to better understand this division (...) of the minds, an analogy is drawn with theories of bureaucracy as developed for real-life organizations. From these it transpires that bureaucratic rules may be perceived as springing from either a control logic or an enabling logic. In Wikipedia, then, both perceptions were at work, depending on the underlying views of participants. Wikipedians either rejected the proposed scheme (because it is antithetical to their conception of Wikipedia as a community) or endorsed it (because it is consonant with their conception of Wikipedia as an organization with clearly defined boundaries). Are other open-content communities susceptible to the same kind of ‘essential contestation’? (shrink)
Advances in AI are powering increasingly precise and widespread computational propaganda, posing serious threats to national security. The military and intelligence communities are starting to discuss ways to engage in this space, but the path forward is still unclear. These developments raise pressing ethical questions, about which existing ethics frameworks are silent. Understanding these challenges through the lens of “cognitive security,” we argue, offers a promising approach.
In the opening chapter of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke explains that the self-understanding or self-measure of the human mind includes an account of the mind’s limits, and so the mind’s self-understanding can provide adequate grounds for intellectual self-moderation or self-control: “If we can find out, how far the Understanding can extend its view; how far it has Faculties to attain Certainty; and in what Cases it can only judge and guess, we may learn to content (...) our selves with what is attainable by us in this State.” Furthermore: “If we can find out those Measures, whereby a rational Creature put in that State, which Man is in, in this World, may, and ought to govern his Opinions, and Actions depending thereon, we need not be troubled, that some other things escape our Knowledge.” Compared to Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre may appear to exemplify the very opposite of intellectual modesty and self-control. Unlike Locke, Fichte argues that a true system of knowledge should not seek to limit or moderate itself by reference to what is allegedly unknowable outside of it. A true system of knowledge, writes Fichte, “. . . only has to agree with itself. It can be explained only by itself, and it can be proven - or refuted - only on its own terms.” Furthermore, Fichte suggests that an appreciation of his system of knowledge requires not modesty in his readers, but rather an implicit sense of superiority: “I wish to have nothing to do with those who, as a result of protracted spiritual servitude, have lost their own selves and, along with this loss of themselves, have lost any feeling for their own conviction . . .” In this essay, I shall seek to show that, contrary to initial impressions, it is Fichtean idealism, and not Lockean (or any similar) realism, that is truly modest. According to my account, Locke’s explicit declarations concerning the modesty and limitedness of his own project exhibit a certain ignorance concerning the genuine problems at issue. In his claim to be modest, the realist Locke professes to know more than he actually does, and thus manifests his own immodesty. By contrast, the idealist Fichte must refrain from such direct claims to modesty and must appear to be immodest, precisely because he has a greater understanding of how radically limited human knowledge always is. Like Plato’s Charmides, Fichte realizes that any explicit claim to self-limitation and self-moderation would actually give lie to itself. (shrink)
In The Women of Grub Street (1998), Paula McDowell highlighted the fact that the overwhelming majority of women’s texts in early modern England were polemical or religio-political in nature rather than literary in content. Since that time, the study of early modern women’s political ideas has dramatically increased, and there have been a number of recent anthologies, modern editions, and critical analyses of female political writings. As a result of Patricia Springborg’s research, Mary Astell (1668-1731) has risen to prominence (...) as one of the most astute female political commentators of her day. Springborg argues for Astell’s importance as one of the first systematic critics of the philosopher John Locke, and she interprets Astell’s political thought as a reaction to Lockean Whig politics in the early reign of Queen Anne. But some scholars claim that it is a mistake to think that Astell was chiefly preoccupied with Locke, and others suggest that reading Astell in relation to Locke alone can distort our understanding of her larger political theory. In this chapter, I argue that a more accurate picture of Astell’s political outlook emerges by examining a little studied essay, ‘A Prefatory Discourse to Dr D’Aveanant’ in her 1704 work Moderation Truly Stated. In this critique of Charles Davenant’s Essays upon Peace at Home, and War Abroad (1704), Astell provides a commentary on the political ruthlessness of Niccolo Machiavelli in his Discourses on Livy. Astell’s comments reveal that, in an age in which the political vocabulary was turning to the language of rights, property, and liberty, she still subscribed to the ancient world view, and the ethical-political language of virtue and the good. My intention is to show that these ethical dimensions of Astell’s political thought are consonant with her wider philosophy. (shrink)
In chapter four of Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Robert Nozick raised interesting questions about whether or not it is ever morally acceptable to act against what are agreed to be an individual's natural moral rights. The pursuit of these questions opens up issues concerning the specific content of these individual rights. This essay explores Nozick's questions by posing examples and using our considered responses to them to specify the shape of individual rights. The exploration provisionally concludes that a conception (...) of individual moral rights quite different from Nozick's looks attractive and merits further development. Footnotesa I thank Ellen Frankel Paul for helpful, constructive, and substantive comments on a prior draft of this essay. It goes without saying that her comments outstripped my ability to respond. (shrink)
In Context and Content Robert Stalnaker develops a philosophical picture of the nature of speech and thought and the relations between them. Two themes in particular run through these collected essays: the role that the context in which speech takes place plays in accounting for the way language is used to express thought, and the role of the external environment in determining the contents of our thoughts. Stalnaker argues against the widespread assumption of the priority of linguistic over mental (...) representation, which he suggests has had a distorting influence on our understanding. The first part of the book develops a framework for representing contexts and the way they interact with the interpretation of what is said in them. This framework is used to help to explain a range of linguistic phenomena concerning presupposition and assertion, conditional statements, the attribution of beliefs, and the use of names, descriptions, and pronouns to refer. Stalnaker then draws out the conception of thought and its content that is implicit in this framework. He defends externalism about thought--the assumption that our thoughts have the contents they have in virtue of the way we are situated in the world--and explores the role of linguistic action and linguistic structure in determining the contents of our thoughts. Context and Content offers philosophers and cognitive scientists a summation of Stalnaker's important and influential work in this area. His new introduction to the volume gives an overview of this work and offers a convenient way in for those who are new to it. The Oxford Cognitive Science series is a new forum for the best contemporary work in this flourishing field, where various disciplines--cognitive psychology, philosophy, linguistics, cognitive neuroscience, and computational theory--join forces in the investigation of thought, awareness, understanding, and associated workings of the mind. Each book constitutes an original contribution to its subject, but will be accessible beyond the ranks of specialists, so as to reach a broad interdisciplinary readership. The series will be carefully shaped and steered with the aim of representing the most important developments in the field and bringing together its constituent disciplines. (shrink)
An extended argument that cognitive phenomena—perceiving, imagining, remembering—can be best explained in terms of an interface between contentless and content-involving forms of cognition. -/- Evolving Enactivism argues that cognitive phenomena—perceiving, imagining, remembering—can be best explained in terms of an interface between contentless and content-involving forms of cognition. Building on their earlier book Radicalizing Enactivism, which proposes that there can be forms of cognition without content, Daniel Hutto and Erik Myin demonstrate the unique explanatory advantages of recognizing that (...) only some forms of cognition have content while others—the most elementary ones—do not. They offer an account of the mind in duplex terms, proposing a complex vision of mentality in which these basic contentless forms of cognition interact with content-involving ones. -/- Hutto and Myin argue that the most basic forms of cognition do not, contrary to a currently popular account of cognition, involve picking up and processing information that is then used, reused, stored, and represented in the brain. Rather, basic cognition is contentless—fundamentally interactive, dynamic, and relational. In advancing the case for a radically enactive account of cognition, Hutto and Myin propose crucial adjustments to our concept of cognition and offer theoretical support for their revolutionary rethinking, emphasizing its capacity to explain basic minds in naturalistic terms. They demonstrate the explanatory power of the duplex vision of cognition, showing how it offers powerful means for understanding quintessential cognitive phenomena without introducing scientifically intractable mysteries into the mix. (shrink)
Recently, the thesis that experience is fundamentally a matter of representing the world as being a certain way has been questioned by austere relationalists. I defend this thesis by developing a view of perceptual content that avoids their objections. I will argue that on a relational understanding of perceptual content, the fundamental insights of austere relationalism do not compete with perceptual experience being representational. As it will show that most objections to the thesis that experience has content (...) apply only to accounts of perceptual content on which perceptual relations to the world play no explanatory role. With austere relationalists, I will argue that perceptual experience is fundamentally relational. But against austere relationalists, I will argue that it is fundamentally both relational and representational. (shrink)
The senses present their content in the form of images, three-dimensional arrays of located sense features. Peacocke’s “scenario content” is one attempt to capture image content; here, a richer notion is presented, sensory images include located objects and features predicated of them. It is argued that our grasp of the meaning of these images implies that they have propositional content. Two problems concerning image content are explored. The first is that even on an enriched conception, (...) image content has certain expressive limitations. In particular, it cannot express absolute location and time (as opposed to spatiotemporal relations) or logical complexity. Yet, perceptual experience does seem to express certain absolute locations—namely, here and now. How can it do so? Secondly, image content cannot exhaust the significance of perceptual states. This is proved by noting that perception, memory, and anticipation can have the same image content. Yet they have different significance. These problems show that some of the significance of sensory states comes from outside the image. (shrink)
The phenomenal character of perceptual experience involves the representation of colour, shape and motion. Does it also involve the representation of high-level categories? Is the recognition of a tomato as a tomato contained within perceptual phenomenality? Proponents of a conservative view of the reach of phenomenal content say ’No’, whereas those who take a liberal view of perceptual phenomenality say ’Yes’. I clarify the debate between conservatives and liberals, and argue in favour of the liberal view that high-level (...) class='Hi'>content can directly inform the phenomenal character of perception. (shrink)
It is close to current orthodoxy that perceptual experience is to be characterized, at least in part, by its representational content, roughly, by the way it represents things as being in the world around the perceiver. Call this basic idea the content view.
We review the current state of play in the game of naturalizing content and analyse reasons why each of the main proposals, when taken in isolation, is unsatisfactory. Our diagnosis is that if there is to be progress two fundamental changes are necessary. First, the point of the game needs to be reconceived in terms of explaining the natural origins of content. Second, the pivotal assumption that intentionality is always and everywhere contentful must be abandoned. Reviving and updating (...) Haugeland’s baseball analogy in the light of these changes, we propose ways of redirecting the efforts of players on each base of his intentionality All-Star team, enabling them to start functioning effectively as a team. Only then is it likely that they will finally get their innings and maybe, just maybe, even win the game. (shrink)
This paper argues that, given a certain apparently inevitable thesis about content, we could not know our own minds. The thesis is that the content of a thought is determined by its relational properties.
We start this paper by arguing that causality should, in analogy with force in Newtonian physics, be understood as a theoretical concept that is not explicated by a single definition, but by the axioms of a theory. Such an understanding of causality implicitly underlies the well-known theory of causal nets and has been explicitly promoted by Glymour. In this paper we investigate the explanatory warrant and empirical content of TCN. We sketch how the assumption of directed cause–effect relations can (...) be philosophically justified by an inference to the best explanation. We then ask whether the explanations provided by TCN are merely post-facto or have independently testable empirical content. To answer this question we develop a fine-grained axiomatization of TCN, including a distinction of different kinds of faithfulness. A number of theorems show that although the core axioms of TCN are empirically empty, extended versions of TCN have successively increasing empirical content. (shrink)
Call the idea that states of perceptual awareness have intentional content, and in virtue of that aim at or represent ways the world might be, the ‘Content View.’ I argue that though Kant is widely interpreted as endorsing the Content View there are significant problems for any such interpretation. I further argue that given the problems associated with attributing the Content View to Kant, interpreters should instead consider him as endorsing a form of acquaintance theory. Though (...) perceptual acquaintance is controversial in itself and in attribution to Kant, it promises to make sense of central claims within his critical philosophy. (shrink)
This essay investigates whether or not we should think that the things we say are identical to the things our sentences mean. It is argued that these theoretical notions should be distinguished, since assertoric content does not respect the compositionality principle. As a paradigmatic example, Kaplan's formal language LD is shown to exemplify a failure of compositionality. It is demonstrated that by respecting the theoretical distinction between the objects of assertion and compositional values certain conflicts between compositionality and contextualism (...) are avoided. This includes the conflict between eternalism and the semantics of tense, the embedding problems for contextualism about epistemic modals and taste claims, and the conflict between direct reference and the semantics of bound pronouns (and monstrous operators). After presenting the theoretical picture which distinguishes assertoric content from compositional semantic value, some objections to the picture are addressed. In so doing, the objection from King (2003) stemming from apparent complications with the interaction of temporal expressions and attitude reports is assessed and shown to be non-threatening. (shrink)
Sentences in context have semantic contents determined by a range of factors both internal and external to speakers. I argue against the thesis that semantic content is transparent to speakers in the sense of being immediately accessible to speakers in virtue of their linguistic competence.
In the past twenty years, issues about the relationship between perception and thought have largely been framed in terms of the question of whether the contents of perception are nonconceptual. I argue that this debate has rested on an ambiguity in `nonconceptual content' and some false presuppositions about what is required for concept possession. Once these are cleared away, I argue that none of the arguments which have been advanced about nonconceptual content do much to threaten the natural (...) view that perception and thought are relations to the same kind of content. (shrink)
This paper sets out a view about the explanatory role of representational content and advocates one approach to naturalising content – to giving a naturalistic account of what makes an entity a representation and in virtue of what it has the content it does. It argues for pluralism about the metaphysics of content and suggests that a good strategy is to ask the content question with respect to a variety of predictively successful information processing models (...) in experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience; and hence that data from psychology and cognitive neuroscience should play a greater role in theorising about the nature of content. Finally, the contours of the view are illustrated by drawing out and defending a surprising consequence: that individuation of vehicles of content is partly externalist. (shrink)
The disjunction problem and the distality problem each presents a challenge that any theory of mental content must address. Here we consider their bearing on purely probabilistic causal (ppc) theories. In addition to considering these problems separately, we consider a third challenge – that a theory must solve both. We call this “the hard problem.” We consider 8 basic ppc theories along with 240 hybrids of them, and show that some can handle the disjunction problem and some can handle (...) the distality problem, but none can handle the hard problem. This is our main result. We then discuss three possible responses to that result, and argue that though the first two fail, the third has some promise. (shrink)
Perceptual experiences justify beliefs—that much seems obvious. As Brewer puts it, “sense experiential states provide reasons for empirical beliefs” (this volume, xx). In Mind and World McDowell argues that we can get from this apparent platitude to the controversial claim that perceptual experiences have conceptual content: [W]e can coherently credit experiences with rational relations to judgement and belief, but only if we take it that spontaneity is already implicated in receptivity; that is, only if we take it that experiences (...) have conceptual content. (1994, 162) Brewer agrees. Their view is sometimes called conceptualism; nonconceptualism is the rival position, that experiences have nonconceptual content. One initial obstacle is understanding what the issue is. What is conceptual content, and how is it different from nonconceptual content? Section 1 of this paper explains two versions of each of the rival positions: state (non)conceptualism and content (non)conceptualism; the latter pair is the locus of the relevant dispute. Two prominent arguments for content nonconceptualism—the richness argument and the continuity argument—both fail (section 2). McDowell’s and Brewer’s epistemological defenses of content conceptualism are also faulty (section 3). Section 4 gives a more simple-minded case for conceptualism; finally, some reasons are given for rejecting the claim—on one natural interpretation—that experiences justify beliefs. (shrink)
Some have claimed that people with very different beliefs literally see the world differently. Thus Thomas Kuhn: ‘what a man sees depends both upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual—conceptual experience has taught him to see’ (Kuhn 1970, p. ll3). This view — call it ‘Perceptual Relativism’ — entails that a scientist and a child may look at a cathode ray tube and, in a sense, the first will see it while the second won’t. The (...) claim is not, of course, that the child’s experience is ‘empty’; but that, unlike the scientist, it does not see the tube as a cathode ray tube. One way of supporting this claim is to say that one cannot see something as an F unless one has the concept F. Since the child plainly lacks the concept of a cathode ray tube, it cannot see it as a cathode ray tube. Although Perceptual Relativism is hard to believe, this supporting suggestion is not so implausible. After all, when we see (and more generally, perceive) the world, the world is presented to us in a particular way; so how can we see it as being that way unless we have some idea or conception of the way it is presented? We need not be committed to a representative theory of perception to think that perceptions in some sense represent the world. We can express this by saying that perceptions have content. Now it is a commonplace that the contents of beliefs and the other propositional attitudes involve concepts. The belief that this thing is a cathode ray tube involves, in some sense, the concept cathode ray tube. So the line of thought behind Perceptual Relativism may be expressed thus: seeing an F as an F is a state with content. (shrink)
I argue that perceptual content is always affected by the allocation of one’s attention. Perception attributes determinable and determinate properties to the perceived scene. Attention makes (or tries to make) our perceptual attribution of properties more determinate. Hence, a change in our attention changes the determinacy of the properties attributed to the perceived scene.
The aim of this paper is to argue that the phenomenal similarity between perceiving and visualizing can be explained by the similarity between the structure of the content of these two different mental states. And this puts important constraints on how we should think about perceptual content and the content of mental imagery.
Perceptions "present" objects as red, as round, etc.-- in general as possessing some property. This is the "perceptual content" of the title, And the article attempts to answer the following question: what is a materialistically adequate basis for assigning content to what are, after all, neurophysiological states of biological organisms? The thesis is that a state is a perception that presents its object as "F" if the "biological function" of the state is to detect the presence of objects (...) that are "F". The theory contrasts with causal/informational theories, and with internalist theories, for example those which assign content on the basis of introspected feel. Its advantages are that it permits perceptual error while at the same time allowing content to be expressed in terms of external properties. The argument of the paper is illustrated throughout by examples from biology and computational psychology. (shrink)
This paper argues that to account for group speech acts, we should adopt a representationalist account of mode / force. Individual and collective subjects do not only represent what they e.g. assert or order. By asserting or ordering they also indicate their theoretical or practical positions towards what they assert or order. The ‘Frege point’ cannot establish the received dichotomy of force and propositional content. On the contrary, only the representationalist account allows a satisfactory response to it. It also (...) allows us to give a more satisfactory analysis of the speech act of inviting a joint commitment and to answer two important questions Bernhard Schmid has raised about group speech acts, namely whether there are 1st person plural forms of Moore’s paradox and of 1st person authority. (shrink)
Our understanding of communication and its evolution has advanced significantly through the study of simple models involving interacting senders and receivers of signals. Many theorists have thought that the resources of mathematical information theory are all that are needed to capture the meaning or content that is being communicated in these systems. However, the way theorists routinely talk about the models implicitly draws on a conception of content that is richer than bare informational content, especially in contexts (...) where false content is important. This article shows that this concept can be made precise by defining a notion of functional content that captures the degree to which different states of the world are involved in stabilizing senders’ and receivers’ use of a signal at equilibrium. A series of case studies is used to contrast functional content with informational content, and to illustrate the explanatory role and limitations of this definition of functional content. _1_ Introduction _2_ Modelling Framework _3_ Two Kinds of Content _3.1_ Informational content _3.2_ Functional content _4_ Cases _4.1_ Case 1: Simplest case _4.2_ Case 2: Partial pooling _4.3_ Case 3: Bottleneck _4.4_ Case 4: Partial common interest _4.5_ Case 5: Deception _4.6_ Case 6: A further problem arising from divergent interests _5_ Discussion Appendix. (shrink)
Perception is our key to the world. It plays at least three different roles in our lives. It justifies beliefs and provides us with knowledge of our environment. It brings about conscious mental states. It converts informational input, such as light and sound waves, into representations of invariant features in our environment. Corresponding to these three roles, there are at least three fundamental questions that have motivated the study of perception. How does perception justify beliefs and yield knowledge of our (...) environment? How does perception bring about conscious mental states? How does a perceptual system accomplish the feat of converting varying informational input into mental representations of invariant features in our environment? -/- This book presents a unified account of the phenomenological and epistemological role of perception that is informed by empirical research. So it develops an account of perception that provides an answer to the first two questions, while being sensitive to scientific accounts that address the third question. The key idea is that perception is constituted by employing perceptual capacities - for example the capacity to discriminate instances of red from instances of blue. Perceptual content, consciousness, and evidence are each analyzed in terms of this basic property of perception. Employing perceptual capacities constitutes phenomenal character as well as perceptual content. The primacy of employing perceptual capacities in perception over their derivative employment in hallucination and illusion grounds the epistemic force of perceptual experience. In this way, the book provides a unified account of perceptual content, consciousness, and evidence. (shrink)
Those arguing for the existence of non-propositional content appeal to emotions for support, although there has been little engagement in those debates with developments in contemporary theory of emotion, specifically in connection with the kind of mental states that emotional experiences are. Relatedly, within emotion theory, one finds claims that emotional experiences per se have non-propositional content without detailed argument. This paper argues that the content of emotional experience is propositional in a weak sense, associated with aspectual (...) experience and correctness conditions. Furthermore, it provides an interpretation of purely-objectual emotional experiences which satisfies this weak view of propositional content. (shrink)
I argue that in order to solve the main difficulties confronted by the classical versions of the causal theory of action, it is necessary no just to make room for intentions, considered as irreducible to complexes of beliefs and desires, but also to distinguish among several types of intentions. I present a three-tiered theory of intentions that distinguishes among future-directed intentions, present-directed intentions and motor intentions. I characterize each kind of intention in terms of its functions, its type of (...) class='Hi'>content, its dynamics and the rationality and time constraints that bear on it. I then try to show how the difficulties encountered by the causal theory can be solved within this new framework. 1. (shrink)
Content-externalism is the view that a subject’s relations to a context can play a role in individuating the content of her mental states. According to social content-externalists, relations to a socio-linguistic context can play a fundamental individuating role. Åsa Wikforss has suggested that ‘social externalism depends on the assumption that individuals have an incomplete grasp of their own concepts’ (Wikforss 2004, p. 287). In this paper, I show that this isn’t so. I develop and defend an argument (...) for social content-externalism which does not depend on this assumption. The argument is animated by strands of thought in the later work of Wittgenstein. In addition to demonstrating that social externalists are not necessarily committed to thinking that a subject can have thoughts involving concepts which she incompletely understands, this argument is important insofar as it: (1) supports a form of content-externalism with extended scope; (2) avoids the controversy surrounding the claim that subjects can think with concepts which they incompletely understand; and (3) situates Wittgenstein’s later work with respect to contemporary debates about content-externalism. (shrink)
A n irrealist conception of a given region of discourse is the view that no real properties answer to the central predicates of the region in question. Any such conception emerges, invariably, as the result of the interaction of two forces. An account of the meaning of the central predicates, along with a conception of the sorts of property the world may contain, conspire to show that, if the predicates of the region are taken to express properties, their extensions would (...) have to be deemed uniformly empty. The question then becomes whether the predicates are best understood as expressing properties, and hence as founded on error, or whether they ought to be understood along non-factualist lines.z Historically, irrealist models were developed primarily in connection with evaluative discourse, although as physicalism has flourished and as reductionist programs have failed, their application has been extended to many other domains. Indeed, it is one of the more influential suggestions in contemporary philosophy of mind that they apply even to ordinary belief/desire psychology. A correct understanding of the semantics and metaphysics of content-based psychology leaves us, so the proponents of the in-. (shrink)
It is now 25 years since Gareth Evans introduced the distinction between conceptual and nonconceptual content in The Varieties of Reference. This is a fitting time to take stock of what has become a complex and extended debate both within philosophy and at the interface between philosophy and psychology. Unfortunately, the debate has become increasingly murky as it has become increasingly ramified. Much of the contemporary discussion does not do full justice to the powerful theoretical tool originally proposed by (...) Evans and subsequently refined by theorists in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s – most effectively, I think, by Christopher Peacocke (particularly in his 1992). Even worse, significant parts of the discussion are somewhat confused. This paper makes a start on clarifying what I think ought to be the central issues in debates about nonconceptual content. I begin in §1 by pointing out how narrowly focused contemporary discussion is relative to Evans’s original discussion. We are not making as much use as we should of nonconceptual content as a tool for understanding subpersonal information processing and the complexities of its status relative to perception and thought at the personal level. In §2 I turn to what is the central focus of contemporary discussion, namely, the content of perception and identify a “master argument” for nonconceptualism based on the relation between conceptual capacities and capacities for perceptual discrimination. The aim of §3 is to clarify the relation between the claim that perception has nonconceptual content and some superficially similar claims discussed by philosophers of perception. Finally, in §4 I explain why the attention recently focused on what is sometimes called the state version of the nonconceptualist thesis seems to me to be misdirected. (shrink)
Philosophers have often argued that ascriptions of content are appropriate only to the personal level states of folk psychology. Against this, this paper defends the view that the familiar propositional attitudes and states defined over them are part of a larger set of cognitive proceses that do not make constitutive reference to concept possession. It does this by showing that states with nonconceptual content exist both in perceptual experience and in subpersonal information-processing systems. What makes these states (...) class='Hi'>content-involving is their satisfaction of certain basic conditions deriving from a general account of representation-driven behaviour that is neutral on the question of concept possession. It is also argued that creatures can be in states with nonconceptual content even though they possess no conceptual abilities at all. (shrink)
In addition to the Frege point, Frege also argued for the force-content distinction from the fact that an affirmative answer to a yes-no question constitutes an assertion. I argue that this fact more readily supports the view that questions operate on and present assertions and other forceful acts themselves. Force is neither added to propositions as on the traditional view, nor is it cancelled as has recently been proposed. Rather higher level acts such as questioning, but also e.g. conditionalizing, (...) embed assertive or directive acts that are forceful and committal, while suspending commitment to them. The Frege point confounds different varieties of force and the question whether something is merely presented for consideration with the question what is so presented. Force is representational: through assertoric and directive force indicators subjects non-conceptually present positions of theoretical or practical knowledge, while interrogative acts indicate positions of wondering which strive for such knowledge. (shrink)
Skyrms, building on the work of Dretske, has recently developed a novel information-theoretic account of propositional content in simple signalling systems. Information-theoretic accounts of content traditionally struggle to accommodate the possibility of misrepresentation, and I show that Skyrms’s account is no exception. I proceed to argue, however, that a modified version of Skyrms’s account can overcome this problem. On my proposed account, the propositional content of a signal is determined not by the information that it actually carries, (...) but by the information that it would carry at the nearest separating equilibrium of the underlying evolutionary dynamics. I show that this amended account yields reasonable ascriptions of false propositional content in a well-known formal model of the evolution of communication , and close with a discussion of the serious but perhaps not insuperable difficulties we face in applying the account to examples of signalling in the real world. (shrink)
Representationalism is the position that the phenomenal character of an experience is either identical with, or supervenes on, the content of that experience. Many representationalists hold that the relevant content of experience is nonconceptual. I propose a counterexample to this form of representationalism that arises from the phenomenon of Gestalt switching, which occurs when viewing ambiguous figures. First, I argue that one does not need to appeal to the conceptual content of experience or to judgements to account (...) for Gestalt switching. I then argue that experiences of certain ambiguous figures are problematic because they have different phenomenal characters but that no difference in the nonconceptual content of these experiences can be identified. I consider three solutions to this problem that have been proposed by both philosophers and psychologists and conclude that none can account for all the ambiguous figures that pose the problem. I conclude that the onus is on representationalists to specify the relevant difference in content or to abandon their position. (shrink)
To what extent is the external world the way that it appears to us in perceptual experience? This perennial question in philosophy is no doubt ambiguous in many ways. For example, it might be taken as equivalent to the question of whether or not the external world is the way that it appears to be? This is a question about the epistemology of perception: Are our perceptual experiences by and large veridical representations of the external world? Alternatively, the question might (...) be taken as asking whether or not the external world is like its ways of appearing to us, where the expression “ways of appearing” is intended to pick out aspects of our perceptual experiences themselves. This is a metaphysical version of the question of the relationship between appearance and reality: What is the relationship between the phenomenal features that characterize perceptual experience, on the one hand, and the mind-independent features of the external objects of perception, on the other? There are some philosophers who might resist distinguishing between these two questions. For them, “ways of appearing” in the phenomenal sense just are the ways that things appear to be (let’s call the latter the “intentional sense” of “ways of appearing”).1 That is, the phenomenal character of an experience is nothing over and above its representational content. Phenomenal properties are represented properties—the properties that an experience attributes to the external objects of perception. The question of whether or not phenomenal properties can be identified with the represented properties of an experience mirrors traditional questions in the philosophy of perception. If they can be identified with each other, then in veridical perception we might be said to “directly grasp” features of the external world through perception. The properties that are present to the mind are the very same properties that belong to the external objects of perception. Such a view affords.... (shrink)
The standing tradition in theorizing about meaning, since at least Frege, identifies meaning with propositions, which are, or determine, the truth-conditions of a sentence in a context. But a recent trend has advocated a departure from this tradition: in particular, it has been argued that modal claims do not express standard propositional contents. This non-propositionalism has received different implementations in expressivist semantics and certain kinds of dynamic semantics. They maintain that the key aspect of interpretation of modal claims is the (...) characteristic dynamic effect they have on the context. I argue that pessimism about truth-conditions arises from an overly simplistic picture of content, context and their interaction. While I agree with the critics that an important aspect of modal meaning is the dynamic effect modals have on the context, I argue that they have mischaracterized the nature and the complexity of this effect. A more nuanced account of the interaction between modals and context shows that far from being incompatible with propositional meaning, the dynamic aspect of meaning is precisely what allows us to predict the correct propositional content of an utterance. (shrink)
I begin by examining a recent debate between John McDowell and Christopher Peacocke over whether the content of perceptual experience is non-conceptual. Although I am sympathetic to Peacocke’s claim that perceptual content is non-conceptual, I suggest a number of ways in which his arguments fail to make that case. This failure stems from an over-emphasis on the "fine-grainedness" of perceptual content - a feature that is relatively unimportant to its non-conceptual structure. I go on to describe two (...) other features of perceptual experience that are more likely to be relevant to the claim that perceptual content is non-conceptual. These features are 1) the dependence of a perceived object on the perceptual context in which it is perceived and 2) the dependence of a perceived property on the object it is perceived to be a property of. (shrink)
Corporate codes of conduct are a practical corporate social responsibility (CSR) instrument commonly used to govern employee behavior and establish a socially responsible organizational culture. The effectiveness of these codes has been widely discussed on theoretical grounds and empirically tested in numerous previous reports that directly compare companies with and without codes of conduct. Empirical research has yielded inconsistent results that may be explained by multiple ancillary factors, including the quality of code content and implementation, which are excluded from (...) analyses based solely on the presence or absence of codes.This study investigated the importance of code content in determining code effectiveness by examining the relationship between code of conduct quality and ethical performance. Companies maintaining high quality codes of conduct were significantly more represented among top CSR ranking systems for corporate citizenship, sustainability, ethical behavior, and public perception. Further, a significant relationship was observed between code quality and CSR performance, across a full range of ethical rankings. These findings suggest code quality may play a crucial role in the effectiveness of codes of conduct and their ability to transform organizational cultures.Future research efforts should transcend traditional comparisons based on the presence or absence of ethical codes and begin to examine the essential factors leading to the effective establishment of CSR policies and sustainable business practices in corporate culture. (shrink)
The paper presents an extended argument for the claim that mental content impacts the computational individuation of a cognitive system (section 2). The argument starts with the observation that a cognitive system may simultaneously implement a variety of different syntactic structures, but that the computational identity of a cognitive system is given by only one of these implemented syntactic structures. It is then asked what are the features that determine which of implemented syntactic structures is the computational structure of (...) the system, and it is contended that these features are certain aspects of mental content. The argument helps (section 3) to reassess the thesis known as computational externalism, namely, the thesis that computational theories of cognition make essential reference to features in the individual's environment. It is suggested that the familiar arguments for computational externalism?which rest on thought experiments and on exegesis of Marr's theories of vision?are unconvincing, but that they can be improved. A reconstruction of the visex/audex thought experiment is offered in section 3.1. An outline of a novel interpretation of Marr's theories of vision is presented in section 3.2. The corrected arguments support the claim that computational theories of cognition are intentional. Computational externalism is still pending, however, upon the thesis that psychological content is extrinsic. (shrink)
Today, more corporations disclose information about their environmental performance in response to stakeholder demands of environmental responsibility and accountability. What information do corporations disclose on their websites? This paper investigates the environmental management policies and practices of the 200 largest corporations in the world. Based on a content analysis of the environmental reports of Fortune’s Global 200 companies, this research analyzes the content of corporate environmental disclosures with respect to the following seven areas: environmental planning considerations, top management (...) support to the institutionalization of environmental concerns, environmental structures and organizing specifics, environmental leadership activities, environmental control, external validations or certifications of environmental programs, and forms of corporate environmental disclosures. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that even if the Hard Problem of Content, as identified by Hutto and Myin, is important, it was already solved in natu- ralized semantics, and satisfactory solutions to the problem do not rely merely on the notion of information as covariance. I point out that Hutto and Myin have double standards for linguistic and mental representation, which leads to a peculiar inconsistency. Were they to apply the same standards to basic and linguistic minds, they (...) would either have to embrace representationalism or turn to semantic nihilism, which is, as I argue, an unstable and unattractive position. Hence, I conclude, their book does not offer an alternative to representation- alism. At the same time, it reminds us that representational talk in cognitive science cannot be taken for granted and that information is different from men- tal representation. Although this claim is not new, Hutto and Myin defend it forcefully and elegantly. (shrink)
Both common sense and dominant traditions in art criticism and philosophical aesthetics have it that aesthetic features or properties are perceived. However, there is a cast of reasons to be sceptical of the thesis. This paper defends the thesis—that aesthetic properties are sometimes represented in perceptual experience—against one of those sceptical opponents. That opponent maintains that perception represents only low-level properties, and since all theorists agree that aesthetic properties are not low-level properties, perception does not represent aesthetic properties. I offer (...) a novel argument—what I call the argument from seeing-as—against that sceptic which moves from consideration of ambiguous figures to consideration of visual art. It concludes that aesthetic properties are sometimes perceived and delivers a general lesson for philosophy of perception. Contrary to extant theories of rich perceptual content, aesthetic properties are far better candidates for high-level perceptual contents than standardly theorized rich contents like natural kinds. (shrink)
For deductive reasoning to be justified, it must be guaranteed to preserve truth from premises to conclusion; and for it to be useful to us, it must be capable of informing us of something. How can we capture this notion of information content, whilst respecting the fact that the content of the premises, if true, already secures the truth of the conclusion? This is the problem I address here. I begin by considering and rejecting several accounts of informational (...)content. I then develop an account on which informational contents are indeterminate in their membership. This allows there to be cases in which it is indeterminate whether a given deduction is informative. Nevertheless, on the picture I present, there are determinate cases of informative (and determinate cases of uninformative) inferences. I argue that the model I offer is the best way for an account of content to respect the meaning of the logical constants and the inference rules associated with them without collapsing into a classical picture of content, unable to account for informative deductive inferences. (shrink)