The linguistic meaning of a word in a language is what fully competent speakers of the language have a grasp of merely in virtue of their semantic competence. The meanings of words sometimes change over time. 'Meat' used to mean 'solid food', but now means 'animal flesh eaten as food'. This type of meaning change comes with change of topic, what we’re talking about. Many people interested in conceptual engineering have claimed that there is also meaning change where topic is (...) retained. For example, they claim that the meanings of ‘fish’ and ‘pasta’ have undergone such change and that the meaning of 'marriage' would change this way after gay marriages become legal and widely accepted. In this paper I relate two sets of relatively independent literatures: mainstream philosophy of language and conceptual engineering to argue that on a plausible and widely accepted Minimalist view of meaning that is part and parcel of anti-descriptivism none of the above sorts of cases involve meaning change with topic retention. I do this by showing how to distinguish minimalism about meaning from the related theses of externalism and anti-individualism about intension and how to separate meaning from intension in a way that allows meaning and topic to remain the same despite changes in intension. The larger lesson is that much like we shouldn’t disregard the boundary between the narrowly meaning-related (“semantics”) and the more broadly communication-related (“pragmatics”), we shouldn’t disregard the boundary between the former and the more broadly thought-related, conceptual or cognitive (“cognition”). (shrink)
Internalism and externalism disagree about whether agents who are internally the same can differ in their mental states. But what is it for two agents to be internally the same? Standard formulations take agents to be internally the same in virtue of some metaphysical fact, for example, that they share intrinsic physical properties. Our aim in this chapter is to argue that such formulations should be rejected. We provide the outlines of an alternative formulation on which agents are internally the (...) same in virtue of facts about their epistemic capacities. The resulting formulation is one on which internalism and externalism are views about the extent to which an agent’s mental states can vary independently of the capacity for introspective discrimination. We suggest that this epistemic formulation of internalism and externalism picks out a substantive disagreement in philosophical theorizing about the nature of the mind. (shrink)
Destutt de Tracy zielt darauf ab, zu erklären, wie inter- und transsubjektive Prozesse auf das einzelne Individuum wirken und es gestalten. Dafür braucht er eine externalistische Sprachtheorie und eine sensualistische kognitive Architektur, nach der Denken Empfinden ist. Das Denken ist relational, aber wird nicht auf kognitiver Ebene durch sprachähnliche Strukturen – durch die Syntax und Semantik einer Mentalsprache – implementiert. Obwohl Externalismus und sensualistische Architektur in eine inkohärente Theorie zu münden scheinen, versucht Destutt de Tracy die Spannung durch seine Entwicklungsgeschichte (...) zu lösen, nach der Systematizität als assoziativ und symbolisch, aber nicht als sprachlich analysiert wird. Zum Denken ist eine Sprache notwendig, aber das Denken ist keine Mentalsprache. -/- „[Wir sind] fast gänzlich das Werk Der Umstände, die uns umgeben.“ [Ideenlehre I, 273/388]. (shrink)
Philosophical skepticism about the external world seeks to call into question our knowledge of the external world. Some kinds of philosophical skepticism employ skeptical hypotheses to prove that we cannot know anything about the external world. Putnam tried to refute this kind of skepticism by adopting semantic externalism; but, as is now generally accepted, Putnam’s argument is epistemically circular. Brueckner proposes some new, “simple” arguments that in his view are not circular. In this paper we evaluate Brueckner’s simple arguments for (...) refuting skepticism about the external world, and seek to demonstrate that they fail to prove that we can have knowledge about the external world. However, by appeal to the principle of privileged access, one of the Brueckner’s arguments does indeed succeed in showing that we can have justified beliefs about the external world. (shrink)
Agents can think using concepts they do not fully understand. This paper investigates the question “Under what conditions does a thinker fully understand, or have mastery of, a concept?” I lay out a gauntlet of problems and desiderata with which any theory of concept mastery must cope. I use these considerations to argue against three views of concept mastery, according to which mastery is a matter of holding certain beliefs, being disposed to make certain inferences, or having certain intuitions. None (...) of these attitudes is either necessary or sufficient for mastery. I propose and respond to objections to my own recognition view of the conditions under which a thinker has mastery of a concept. (shrink)
[The Metaphysics of Anti-Individualism] A detailed exploration of the implications of psychological externalism -- in particular Tyler Burge's variety, or what he calls "anti-individualism" -- for the mind-body problem. Based on his anti-individualism, Burge famously rejected materialism, but the ramifications of this argument were not properly examined. I show how he rejects the identity, supervenience, and realization forms of materialism, but that he leaves out the possibility of constitution. In fact, this is not the only option that he admits -- (...) others include eliminativism; a non-metaphysical view which I dub "explanatory pluralism;" and a certain version of dualism. I explore these options and find each of them lacking. However, I eventually consider a possibility that, given anti-individualism, our intentional discourse is ultimately incoherent (I take a clue here from Kripke's "A Puzzle about Belief"). Hence, there might be no satisfactory metaphysic of the mind. (shrink)
This edited book deepens the engagement between 21st century philosophy of mind and the emerging technologies which are transforming our environment. Many new technologies appear to have important implications for the human mind, the nature of our cognition, our sense of identity and even perhaps what we think human beings are. They prompt questions such as: Would an uploaded mind be 'me'? Does our reliance on smart phones, or wearable gadgets enhance or diminish the human mind? and: How does our (...) deep reliance upon ambient artificial intelligence change the shape of the human mind? Readers will discover the best philosophical analysis of what current and near future 21st technology means for the metaphysics of mind. Important questions are addressed on matters relating to the extended mind and the distributed self. Expert authors explore the role that the ubiquitous smart phone might have in creating new forms of self-knowledge. They consider machine consciousness, brain enhancement and smart ambient technology, and what they can tell us about phenomenal consciousness. While ideas of artificial general intelligence, cognitive enhancements and the smart environment are widely commented on, serious analysis of their philosophical implications is only getting started. These contributions from top scholars are therefore very timely, and are of particular relevance to students and scholars of the philosophy of mind, philosophy of technology, computer science and psychology. (shrink)
This chapter poses a challenge to the extended mind thesis that Andy Clark and David Chalmers propose for beliefs, upon which their thesis is largely based. Clark and Chalmers present two related theses in their exposition of the extended mind. First they present “active externalism,” which states that a cognitive system is achieved when humans are appropriately linked with external entities; second, they present “the extended mind thesis,” which states that some, if not all, of a subject’s mental phenomena are (...) constituted partly by features of that subject’s environment. The second view is the focus of this chapter, as it is the reasoning behind the notion that beliefs can be constituted partly by features of the environment, and that the mind therefore extends into the world. Arguments in this chapter are confined to beliefs and do not include other mental phenomena. (shrink)
In his critique of the extended mind hypothesis, Robert Rupert suggests that we have no reason to move from the claim that cognition is deeply embedded in the environment to the more radical claim that, in some cases, cognition itself extends into the environment. In this paper, I argue that we have strong normative reasons to prefer the more radical extended mind hypothesis to Rupert’s modest embedded mind hypothesis. I take an agnostic position on the metaphysical debate about the ultimate (...) nature and location of the mind, and instead argue in favor of the extended mind framework on the basis of its ability to better capture normative concerns about the way we evaluate the cognitive capacities of learning disabled individuals. In light of the commitments of the embedded and extended mind frameworks, defenders of the embedded mind framework are committed to conclusions about learning-disabled individuals that we have good normative reason to reject, whereas the extended mind framework avoids such problematic conclusions. Thus, if we find these normative concerns persuasive, we have good reason to prefer the extended mind position. (shrink)
Ruth Millikan and others advocate theories which attempt to naturalize wide mental content in terms of functions, where the latter are in turn based in part on facts concerning past natural selection. While I support basing content on functions which are constituted by facts about the past, I argue that it is a mistake to base content on selection. This dissertation works out an alternative concept of function which is a more appropriate basis for a theory of mental content. In (...) particular, I define a concept of function in terms of comparisons between certain past probabilities, and comparisons between fitnesses of certain ancestors, without regard to facts about selection. This account clearly requires naturalistic concepts of probability and fitness. Furthermore, fitness must not depend on selection. The propensity interpretation of fitness and its elaborations, which define fitness in terms of probability, in particular propensity, provide a framework for a naturalistic concept of fitness which does not depend on selection. But I argue that propensity is not a suitable basis for fitness. A large portion of the dissertation is devoted to a sketch of a fully naturalistic concept of higher-level objective probability, a concept which can provide a foundation for probability-based theories of fitness and other higher-level uses of probability. This concept of probability is defined in terms of the structures of mechanisms and in terms of very general facts about certain sets of actual events. This sort of probability has causal connections to observed relative frequency without being equivalent to relative frequency, and is consistent with lower level probabilities with arbitrary values. Although the focus of the dissertation is on objective probability, on the foundations of teleological theories of content, and on the foundations of a theory of teleology suitable for supporting such theories, my discussion has implications for more general issues concerning scientific realism and the foundations of evolutionary biology. (shrink)
Contemporary phenomenal externalists are motivated to a large extent by the transparency of experience and by the related doctrine of representationalism. On their own, however, transparency and representationalism do not suffice to establish externalism. Hence we should hesitate to dismiss phenomenal internalism, a view shared by many generations of competent philosophers. Rather, we should keep both our options open, internalism and externalism. It is hard, however, to see how to keep open the internalist option, for although transparency and representationalism have (...) not yet definitively established externalism, they have indeed made it quite intuitive. Internalism, by comparison, comes across at first sight as antiquated and ridden with difficulties. This is why I propose the Stained Glass model of consciousness. I do so with the following two aims: first, to make internalism intuitive in the age of transparency, and second, to show how to resist the many recent anti-internalist arguments. In particular, I argue that phenomenal internalism need not be epistemically worrisome, that it is compatible at once with transparency, representationalism, and content externalism, and that although it requires an error theory, this error theory is a harmless one. (shrink)
In my (1992, 1994), I argued that introspective accessibility of facts about sameness and difference ofthe concepts exercised in our thoughts plays a pivotal role in our most basic conceptions of rational agency and rational explanation. In particular, I argued that any theory of concepts that allows for such failures of (epistemic) transparency faces a serious difficulty: it seems committed to mis-describing the conditions underwhich agents are rational. ...
This paper starts from the familiar premise that psychological anti-individualism is incompatible with materialism. It attempts to state more clearly what this incompatibility consists in, and — rather than arguing in detail for any particular resolution — to inquire whether this incompatibility admits any resolution. However, the paper does offer a conditional argument concerning the possibility that the incompatibility is genuine and cannot be resolved. Provided that anti-individualism and materialism cannot be squared, and anti-individualism is correct, it follows that materialism (...) has to be abandoned. If so, the situation is not as disastrous as it might at first seem. We need not, in consequence of our inability to construe a coherent metaphysics of mind, give up on intentional vocabulary any more than we must stop, in consequence of our inability to make sense of induction, anticipating the future. (shrink)
Clark and Chalmers (1998) defend the hypothesis of an ‘Extended Mind’, maintaining that beliefs and other paradigmatic mental states can be implemented outside the central nervous system or body. Aspects of the problem of ‘language acquisition’ are considered in the light of the extended mind hypothesis. Rather than ‘language’ as typically understood, the object of study is something called ‘utterance-activity’, a term of art intended to refer to the full range of kinetic and prosodic features of the on-line behaviour of (...) interacting humans. It is argued that utterance activity is plausibly regarded as jointly controlled by the embodied activity of interacting people, and that it contributes to the control of their behaviour. By means of specific examples it is suggested that this complex joint control facilitates easier learning of at least some features of language. This in turn suggests a striking form of the extended mind, in which infants’ cognitive powers are augmented by those of the people with whom they interact. (shrink)
In this paper I distinguish two types of mental causation, called 'higher-level causation' and 'exploitation'. These notions superficially resemble the traditional problematic notions of supervenient causation and downward causation, but they are different in crucial respects. My new distinction is supported by a radically externalist competitor of the so-called Standard View of mental states, i.e. the view that mental states are brain states. I argue that on the Alternative View, the notions of 'higher-level causation' and 'exploitation' can in combination dissolve (...) the problem of mental causation as standardly discussed. (shrink)
Tyler Burge defends the idea that memory preserves beliefswith their justifications, so that memory's role in inferenceadds no new justificatory demands. Against Burge's view,Christensen and Kornblith argue that memory is reconstructiveand so introduces an element of a posteriori justificationinto every inference. I argue that Burge is right,memory does preserve content, but to defend this viewwe need to specify a preservative mechanism. Toward thatend, I develop the idea that there is something worthcalling anaphoric thinking, which preserves content inBurge's sense of ``content (...) preservation.'' I providea model on which anaphoric thought is a fundamentalfeature of cognitive architecture, consequentlyrejecting the idea that there are mental pronounsin a Language of Thought. Since preservativememory is a matter of anaphoric thinking, thereare limits on the analogy of memory and testimony. (shrink)
In his new book, Rowlands defines externalism roughly as the thesis that ‘not all mental things are exclusively located inside the head of the person or creature that has these things’ (2). The book has two distinctive features. One is that while philosophers’ discussions of externalism tend to be very technical, Rowlands presents his own discussion in an accessible manner. The second, more distinctive than the first, is that Rowlands treats the concept of externalism as a topic in both analytic (...) and continental traditions of philosophy. (shrink)
Hilary Putnam’s Realism with a Human Face began with a quotation from Rilke, exhorting us to ‘try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue’. Putnam followed this advice throughout his life. His love for the questions permanently changed how we understand them. In Naturalism, Realism, and Normativity – published only a few weeks after his death – Putnam continued to explore central questions concerning realism and perception, from the (...) perspective of ‘liberal naturalism’. The volume’s thirteen papers were written over the past fifteen years (only one paper is new), and they show a man who fully inhabited the questions he loved. And the main significance of this book is that it shows – implicitly, but very clearly – quite how much of Putnam’s contribution to his philosophy is continuous with his ‘The Meaning of “Meaning”’. (shrink)
David Chalmers has recently argued that Relativity Theory supports the notion that shapes are Twin-Earthable. In this paper this argument is challenged. I reconstruct the argument in five steps where the last step is the conclusion. I proceed to argue that one step in the argument can be interpreted in two different ways. The problem is that on the first interpretation of the step, the conclusion does not follow. And on the second interpretation of the step, it contradicts a previous (...) step in the argument. I conclude that Relativity Theory does not entail that phenomenal and functional twins could represent different shapes. (shrink)
This edited volume is a comprehensive presentation of views on the relations between metaphysics and logic from Aristotle through twentieth century philosophers who contributed to the return of metaphysics in the analytic tradition. The collection combines interest in logic and its history with interest in analytical metaphysics and the history of metaphysical thought. By so doing, it adds both to the historical understanding of metaphysical problems and to contemporary research in the field. Throughout the volume, essays focus on metaphysica generalis, (...) or the systematic study of the most general categories of being. Beginning with Aristotle and his Categories , the volume goes on to trace metaphyscis and logic through the late ancient and Arabic traditions, examining the views of Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and William Ockham. Moving into the early modern period, contributors engage with Leibniz's metaphysics, Kant's critique of metaphysics, the relation between logic and ontology in Hegel, and Bolzano's views. Subsequent chapters address: Charles S. Peirce's logic and metaphysics; the relevance of set-theory to metaphysics; Meinong's theory of objects; Husserl's formal ontology; early analytic philosophy; C.I. Lewis and his relation to Russell; and the relations between Frege, Carnap, and Heidegger. Surveying metaphysics through to the contemporary age, essays explore W.V. Quine's attitude towards metaphysics; Wilfrid Sellars's relation to antidescriptivism as it connects to Kripke's; the views of Putnam and Kaplan; Peter F. Strawson's and David M. Armstrong's metaphysics; Trope theory; and its relation to Popper's conception of three worlds. The volume ends with a chapter on transcendental philosophy as ontology. In each chapter, contributors approach their topics not merely in an historical and exegetical fashion, but also engage critically with the thought of the philosophers whose work they discuss, offering synthesis and original philosophical thought in the volume, in addition to very extensive and well-informed analysis and interpretation of important philosophical texts. The volume will serve as an essential reference for scholars of metaphysics and logic. (shrink)
In his 1975 paper “The Meaning of ‘Meaning’”, Hilary Putnam famously argued for semantic externalism. Little attention has been paid, however, to the fact that already in 1973, Putnam had presented the idea of the linguistic division of labor and the Twin Earth thought experiment in his comment on Wilfrid Sellars’s “Meaning as Functional Classification” at a conference, and Sellars had replied to Putnam from a broadly inferentialist perspective. The first half of this paper aims to trace the development of (...) Putnam’s semantic externalism, situate his debate with Sellars in it, and reconstruct the two arguments he presented against Sellars. The second half of this paper aims to reconstruct how Sellars replied to Putnam. I argue that Sellars not only accepts the social character of language but also suggests how inferentialists can accommodate the contribution of the world. Sellars’s key idea is that substance terms have a “promissory note aspect” which is to be cashed out in a successor conceptual framework. I reconstruct Sellars’s position as ideal successor externalism, and compare it with temporal externalism. (shrink)
The most popular and influential strategies used against semantic externalism and the causal theory of reference are critically examined. It is argued that upon closer scrutiny, none of them emerges as truly convincing.
The new externalist picture of natural kind terms due to Kripke, Putnam, and others has become quite popular in philosophy. Many philosophers of science have remained sceptical. Häggqvist and Wikforss have recently criticised this view severely. They contend it depends essentially on a micro-essentialist view of natural kinds that is widely rejected among philosophers of science, and that a scientifically reasonable metaphysics entails the resurrection of some version of descriptivism. It is argued in this paper that the situation is not (...) quite as dark for the new theory of reference as many critics suggest. There are several distinct questions here which should not be conflated and ought to be dealt with one by one. Descriptivism remains arguably problematic. (shrink)
This comment mainly examines Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne’s preferred framework for examining whether narrow content is viable, arguing that their framework is not well-suited to the task; once a more traditional framework is adopted, Y&H’s case against internalism is strengthened.
This book discusses the two main construals of the explanatory goals of semantic theories. The first, externalist conception, understands semantic theories in terms of a hermeneutic and interpretive explanatory project. The second, internalist conception, understands semantic theories in terms of the psychological mechanisms in virtue of which meanings are generated. It is argued that a fruitful scientific explanation is one that aims to uncover the underlying mechanisms in virtue of which the observable phenomena are made possible, and that a scientific (...) semantics should be doing just that. If this is the case, then a scientific semantics is unlikely to be externalist, for reasons having to do with the subject matter and form of externalist theories. It is argued that semantics construed hermeneutically is nevertheless a valuable explanatory project. (shrink)
This paper presents a framework for analysing perceptual Twin Earth thought experiments. Visual content normally has an analogue character, and it is argued in this paper that this sets certain constraints on the extent to which Twin Earth thought experiments can be successful. The argumentation in the paper is developed by using examples from visual spatial content. It is argued that visual spatial content can only be “twin-earthed” in a very limited way. Whereas the metrics of space can be twin-earthed, (...) visual experience has a structure that means that it can only be the vehicle for representing entities with geometrical structures. (shrink)
The object of this paper is to sketch an approach to propositions, meaning and names. The key ingredients are a Twin-Earth-inspired distinction between internal and external meaning, and a middle-Wittgenstein-inspired conception of internal meaning as role in language system. I show how the approach offers a promising solution to the problem of the meaning of proper names. This is a plea for a neglected way of thinking about these topics.
In the history of formal semantics, the successful joining of linguistic and philosophical work brought with it some difficult foundational questions concerning the nature of meaning and the nature of knowledge of language in the domain of semantics: questions in part about “what’s in the head” of a competent language-user. This paper, part of a project on the history of formal semantics, revisits the central issues of (Partee, 1979) in a historical context, as a clash between two traditions, Fregean and (...) Chomskyan, a clash that accompanied early work combining Montague’s semantics with Chomskyan syntax. Recent advances in philosophy of mind (from, e.g., Stalnaker and Burge) go a long way towards changing the framework of arguments about “psychological reality” and “competence”, challenging the suppositions on which the original dichotomy rested, thus largely defusing the tension. (shrink)
The classic thought experiments for Content Externalism have been motivated by consideration of intentional states with a mind-to-world direction of fit. In this paper, I argue that when these experiments are run on intentional states with a world-to-mind direction of fit, the thought experiments actually support Content Internalism. Because of this, I argue that the classic thought experiments alone cannot properly motivate Content Externalism. I do not show that Content Externalism is false in this paper, just that it cannot be (...) motivated by the classic thought experiments alone. I discuss various externalist responses to the argument I raise and show that they all fail. (shrink)
Externalism is the thesis that the contents of intentional states and speech acts are not determined by the way the subjects of those states or acts are internally. It is a widely accepted but not entirely uncontroversial thesis. Among such theses in philosophy, externalism is notable for owing the assent it commands almost entirely to thought experiments, especially to variants of Hilary Putnam's famous Twin Earth scenario. This paper presents a thought experiment-free argument for externalism. It shows that externalism is (...) a deductive consequence of a pair of widely accepted principles whose relevance to the issue has hitherto gone unnoticed. (shrink)
Externalism holds that the content of our utterances and thoughts are determined partly by the environment. Here, I offer an argument which suggests that externalism is incompatible with a natural view about ontological commitment--namely, the Quinean view that such commitments are fixed by the range of the variables in your theory. The idea in brief is that if Oscar mistakenly believes that water = XYZ, the externalist ontologically commits Oscar to two waterish kinds, whereas the Quinean commits him to one (...) such kind (albeit a metaphysically impossible kind). The penultimate section addresses a variety of objections to the argument. (shrink)
There has been recent dispute between Putnam and Searle over whether meanings are “in the head”. Putnam makes use of Twin-Earth thought experiments to show that our mental states alone cannot determine what we refer to (and thus “mean”) and that we rely also on external factors, which are not “in the head”. This suggests to me that we in some way mean more than we actually know. Searle on the other hand makes use of what he calls “Intentional contents”, (...) “conditions of satisfaction”, and “self-referentiality”, to show that meanings can be said to be in the head. It seems to me that an internalist account as we find it in Husserl or Searle is closer to what is going on when we mean something. (shrink)