In a 2019 paper, Hausmann raised a new and interesting problem for Kripke’s account of negative existentials. He argued that Kripke’s account leads to the absurd consequence that anybody who has good reasons to believe that there are no propositions also has good reasons to believe that he or she does not exist. In this paper I propose a modified Kripkean theory, which is invulnerable to a Hausmann-like argument. As will be seen, the modified theory can be squarely justified in (...) light of the key observations behind Kripke’s original proposal. (shrink)
Moti Mizrahi argues that Gettier cases are unsuccessful counterexamples to the traditional analysis of knowledge (TAK) because such cases inadequately reveal epistemic failures of justified true belief (JTB); and because Gettier cases merely demonstrate semantic inadequacy, the apparent epistemic force of Gettier cases is misleading. Although Mizrahi claims to have deflated the epistemic force of Gettier cases, I will argue that the presence of semantic deficiency in Gettier cases neither requires nor indicates the denial of the epistemic force of those (...) cases. I will provide an extracted version of Mizrahi’s argument, which I believe to be most charitable to his motivation. Then I will offer a counterexample to a pivotal premise in Mizrahi’s argument, ultimately rendering the argument unsound. Finally, upon the examination of a plausible objection, I conclude that Gettier cases are epistemically sustained. (shrink)
Combining new insights from cognitive science and speech act theory, Unnsteinsson develops a compelling theory of singular reference which avoids well-known puzzles. The theory, Edenic intentionalism, is grounded in a mechanistic perspective on explanation in cognitive science and a new Gricean account of speaker meaning and speaker reference.
Names name, but there are no individuals who are named by names. This is the key to an elegant and ideologically parsimonious strategy for analyzing the Buddhist catuṣkoṭi. The strategy is ideologically parsimonious, because it appeals to no analytic resources beyond those of standard predicate logic. The strategy is elegant, because it is, in effect, an application of Bertrand Russell's theory of definite descriptions to Buddhist contexts. The strategy imposes some minor adjustments upon Russell's theory. Attention to familiar catuṣkoṭi from (...) Vacchagotta and Nagarjuna as well as more obscure catuṣkoṭi from Khema, Zhi Yi, and Fa Zang motivates the adjustments. The result is a principled structural distinction between affirmative and negative catuṣkoṭi, as well as analyses for each that compare favorably to more recent efforts from Tillemans, Westerhoff, and Priest. (shrink)
How is it that words come to stand for the things they stand for? Is the thing that a word stands for - its reference - fully identified or described by conventions known to the users of the word? Or is there a more roundabout relation between the reference of a word and the conventions that determine or fix it? Do words like 'water', 'three', and 'red' refer to appropriate things, just as the word 'Aristotle' refers to Aristotle? If so, (...) which things are these, and how do they come to be referred to by those words? -/- In Roads to Reference, Mario Gómez-Torrente provides novel answers to these and other questions that have been of traditional interest in the theory of reference. The book introduces a number of cases of apparent indeterminacy of reference for proper names, demonstratives, and natural kind terms, which suggest that reference-fixing conventions for them adopt the form of lists of merely sufficient conditions for reference and reference failure. He then provides arguments for a new anti-descriptivist picture of those kinds of words, according to which the reference-fixing conventions for them do not describe their reference. This book also defends realist and objectivist accounts of the reference of ordinary natural kind nouns, numerals, and adjectives for sensible qualities. According to these accounts these words refer, respectively, to 'ordinary kinds', cardinality properties, and properties of membership in intervals of sensible dimensions, and these things are fixed in subtle ways by associated reference-fixing conventions. (shrink)
This work projects the later Wittgenstein as dissolving the unwanted cleavage between reference and description through a uniquely original route that also outgrows the traditional dichotomy between the descriptive and non-descriptive theories of reference. Following a nuanced track of arguments, the author argues that the supposed primacy of reference vis-à-vis the optional and indeterminate character of description (or meaning) virtually feeds on a containment model of space and time. Objects or referents lie smugly encased in neat space-time boundaries that serve (...) as static and irrevocable foundations-capable of receiving a vast range of alternative descriptions and withdrawals. The ontology of such pre-semantic referents throw up a parallel otology of actions-where the latter also come to be seen as brute physical events with a bare space-time outline over and above their various intentional or adverbial descriptions. -/- This work seeks to break through such uninspiring splits between reference and description by synthesizing Wittgenstein’s treatment of these notions with those of space, time and action. A systematically detailed exposition of Wittgenstein’s arguments against the inert and external character of space shows actions not as bare space-time extensions, but as richly qualitative blends of such putative physical events with their intentions and modalities. Overall this exercise presents a graphic depiction of actions as not being constrained by real lumps of objects in space, but as breaking, bending and fusing space-time into objects and their interrelations, thereby suturing description and reference together in a seamless complex. (shrink)
When unknowingly experiencing a perceptual hallucination, a subject can attempt to think specifically about what is, as far as he or she can tell, the perceived object. Is the subject then deceived about his or her cognitive situation? I answer negatively. Moreover, I argue that this answer is compatible with holding that thought specifically about a certain object – singular thought – is object-dependent. By contrast, both critics and advocates of the view that singular thought is object-dependent have assumed this (...) view to be committed to postulation of illusions of object-dependent thought in cases like that mentioned. The core ingredient in my illusion-free version of the view is a special form of disjunctivism. Alleged cases of illusion are not considered parasitic on ‘the good case’ where the object thought about is perceived. (shrink)
Speakers are confused about identity if they mistake one thing for two or two things for one. I present two plausible models of confusion, the Frege model and the Millikan model. I show how a prominent objection to Fregean models fails and argue that confusion consists in having false implicit beliefs involving the identity relation. Further, I argue that confused identity has characteristic corruptive effects on singular cognition and on the proper function of singular terms in linguistic communication.
Several authors have argued that, assuming we have apriori knowledge of our own thought-contents, semantic externalism implies that we can know apriori contingent facts about the empirical world. After presenting the argument, I shall respond by resisting the premise that an externalist can know apriori: If s/he has the concept water, then water exists. In particular, Boghossian's Dry Earth example suggests that such thought-experiments do not provide such apriori knowledge. Boghossian himself rejects the Dry Earth experiment, however, since it would (...) imply that externalism is true of empty concepts as well as non-empty concepts. Yet in this paper I respond by defending empty-concept externalism, from criticisms suggested by Boghossian and Brown, and recently developed further by Besson. My contention is that an externalist can give a non-ad hoc descriptivist account of empty concepts. Accordingly, apriori self-knowledge does not enable an externalist to know contingent features of the external world. (shrink)
In this paper I confront what I take to be the crucial challenge for fictional realism, i.e. the view that fictional characters exist. This is the problem of accounting for the intuition that corresponding negative existentials such as ‘Sherlock Holmes does not exist’ are true (when, given fictional realism, taken literally they seem false). I advance a novel and detailed form of the response according to which we take them to mean variants of such claims as: there is no concrete (...) x such that x is Sherlock Holmes. (shrink)
In ‘The Unsatisfied Paradox’ (The Reasoner 6(12), p.184-5), Peter Eldridge-Smith has argued that no unique solution for the logical paradoxes is likely to exist in the presence of the following two kinds of paradox: 1. The Unsatisfied kind. 2. The Satisfiable kind. We argue that both kinds of paradoxes typically contain some kind of self-reference used for an attempt of self-diagonalization, and that consequently they may solvable in the same way, namely, by the acknowledgement that no intensional object is available (...) to itself for reference or quantification. (shrink)
I argue that the idea of reference failure which is frequently mentioned and occasionally argued for in the recent philosophy of language literature is a misnomer at best and incoherent when taken seriously. In the first place, there is no such thing as an empty name or name that fails to name anything, where names are understood as not replaceable by descriptions. In the case of demonstrative reference, because the speaker‘s perception fixes the referent and the speaker‘s referential intention is (...) not formed prior to the fixation of the referent, reference is guaranteed. My argument is based on an analysis of the alleged cases of reference failure. (shrink)
Dummettian anti-realism–the refusal to endorse bivalence–is generally thought to be associated with idealism This paper argues that this is only true of the position developed by early Dummett. In a later manifestation Dummettian anti-realism is better thought of as providing the logic for anti-realisms of an error theoretic kind. Early on Dummett distinguished deep from shallow arguments for giving up bivalence: deep arguments followed a strong ‘sufficiency’ reading of Frege’s context principle, and made the sentence the primary vehicle of meaning. (...) Enriched by an account of truth in terms of verifiability, deep arguments implied a form of linguistic idealism. From within a perspective that had already made ontology relative to theory, it was natural for the difference between realism and idealism to hinge on the notion of truth for sentences. Having given up the distinction between deep and shallow arguments against bivalence, Dummett, post 1990, asserts that every rejection of bivalence leads to a form of anti-realism. In the intervening years, he has also come to cast doubt on the sufficiency reading of the context principle, particularly as developed by Crispin Wright. These doubts open the space for some more simple-minded criticisms of this strong version of the context principle, developed in the paper. Once the sufficiency reading of the context principle is given up, arguments for failing to assert bivalence come to hinge on beliefs about ‘genuine’ existence. These forms of anti-realism cannot be taken to imply idealism. Rather, in many cases they will be the expression of views of an error-theoretic kind, that are quite compatible with a thorough-going rejection of idealism. (shrink)
La position résolument extensionaliste de Quine a été appuyée par des arguments de nature différente, dans ses multiples articles destinés à rejeter le projet de logique modale. On peut classer ces arguments en trois catégories : un argument naturaliste, où l’auteur tente de baser le langage scientifique sur une notation tâchée de décrire la “structure ultime de la réalité” ; un argument esthétique, où Quine fait allusion à des raisons de clarté et d’efficacité démonstrative pour privilégier la théorie des fonctions (...) de vérité ; un argument pratique, dans la mesure où Quine défend la logique classique sur la base du “principe de mutilation minimum”. A travers une étude de ses écrits relatifs aux attitudes propositionnelles, nous montrerons que la philosophie de la logique de Quine a prolongé la partie épistémologique de son oeuvre, optant finalement pour une stratégie de réduction naturaliste des intensions, à l’image du mouvement engagé par Word and Object et prolongé par From Stimulus to Science. Ce projet se soldera par un échec relatif, et Quine résumera cette désillusion par un fossé entre les structures du langage et du monde : la thèse du “monisme anomal” de Davidson sera le dernier mot, amer, du défenseur acharné de la logique classique. (shrink)
That the existence of empty names poses a challenge for Kripke’s theories of proper names is well recognized, however, the strongest form of that challenge is not. I argue that the type of empty name posing the strongest challenge to Kripke’s theory are those drawn from works of fiction. More specifically, the challenge occurs when those names appear in sentences like this: Sherlock Holmes smokes.
Empty names vary in their referential features. Some of them, as Kripke argues, are necessarily empty -- those that are used to create works of fiction. Others appear to be contingently empty -- those which fail to refer at this world, but which do uniquely identify particular objects in other possible worlds. I argue against Kripke's metaphysical and semantic reasons for thinking that either some or all empty names are necessarily non-referring, because these reasons are either not the right reasons (...) for thinking that a name necessarily must fail to refer, or they are too broad -- they make every empty name necessarily non-referential. Plausibly, the explanation for the necessary non-reference of fictional names should be semantic, yet the explanation should not rule out a priori the contingent non-reference of certain other empty names. In light of this, I argue that a name's semantic value needs to carry information about its referential potential. I claim that names do so by encoding information about the way they were introduced into discourse. Names that are fictional will be marked as being non-referential -- they will fail to refer as a matter of their semantics. In contrast, names that are contingently empty will be marked as referential, but they will be failed referential names that could have been successful. The reason, then, for the non-referential status of a fictional name, will be semantic, as our intuitions suggest it should be. Likewise, the reason for the non-referential status of other empty names, those created by acts of failed attempts to refer, will be metaphysical, again, in keeping with our intuitions. (shrink)