Philosophers from Hume, Kant, and Wittgenstein to the recent realists and antirealists have sought to answer the question, What are concepts? This book provides a detailed, systematic, and accessible introduction to an original philosophical theory of concepts that Christopher Peacocke has developed in recent years to explain facts about the nature of thought, including its systematic character, its relations to truth and reference, and its normative dimension. Particular concepts are also treated within the general framework: perceptual concepts, logical concepts, and (...) the concept of belief are discussed in detail. The general theory is further applied in answering the question of how the ontology of concepts can be of use in classifying mental states, and in discussing the proper relation between philosophical and psychological theories of concepts. Finally, the theory of concepts is used to motivate a nonverificationist theory of the limits of intelligible thought. Peacocke treats content as broad rather than narrow, and his account is nonreductive and non-Quinean. Yet Peacocke also argues for an interactive relationship between philosophical and psychological theories of concepts, and he plots many connections with work in cognitive psychology. (shrink)
Being Known is a response to a philosophical challenge which arises for every area of thought: to reconcile a plausible account of what is involved in the truth of statements in a given area with a credible account of how we can know those statements. Christopher Peacocke presents a framework for addressing the challenge, a framework which links both the theory of knowledge and the theory of truth with the theory of concept-possession.
The Realm of Reason develops a new, general theory of what it is for a thinker to be entitled to form a given belief. The theory locates entitlement in the nexus of relations between truth, content, and understanding. Peacocke formulates three principles of rationalism that articulate this conception. The principles imply that all entitlement has a component that is justificationally independent of experience. The resulting position is thus a form of rationalism, generalized to all kinds of content. To show how (...) these principles are realized in specific domains, Peacocke applies the theory in detail to several classical problems of philosophy, including the nature of perceptual entitlement, induction, and the status of moral thought. These discussions involve an elaboration of the structure of entitlement in ways that have applications in many other areas of philosophy. He also relates the theory to classical and recent rationalist thought, and to current issues in the theory of meaning, reference and explanation. In the course of these discussions, he proposes a general theory of the a priori. The focus of the work lies in the intersection of epistemology, metaphysics, and the theory of meaning, and will be of interest both to students and researchers in these areas, and to anyone concerned with the idea of rationality. (shrink)
Christopher Peacocke presents a new theory of subjects of consciousness, together with a theory of the nature of first person representation. He identifies three sorts of self-consciousness--perspectival, reflective, and interpersonal--and argues that they are key to explaining features of our knowledge, social relations, and emotional lives.
A theory of understanding -- Truth's role in understanding -- Critique of justificationist and evidential accounts -- Do pragmatist views avoid this critique? -- A realistic account -- How evidence and truth are related -- Three grades of involvement of truth in theories of understanding -- Anchoring -- Next steps -- Reference and reasons -- The main thesis and its location -- Exposition and four argument-types -- Significance and consequences of the main thesis -- The first person as a case (...) study -- Fully self-conscious thought -- Immunity to error through misidentification relative to the first person -- Can a use of the first-person concept fail to refer? -- Some conceptual roles are distinctive but not fundamental -- Implicit conceptions -- Implicit conceptions : motivation and examples -- Deflationary readings rejected -- The phenomenon of new principles -- Explanation by implicit conceptions -- Rationalist aspects -- Consequences : rationality, justification, understanding -- Transitional -- Applications to mental concepts -- Conceiving of conscious states -- Understanding and identity in other cases -- Constraints on legitimate explanations in terms of identity -- Why is the subjective case different? -- Attractions of the interlocking account -- Tacit knowledge, and externalism about the internal -- Is this the myth of the given? -- Knowledge of others' conscious states -- Communicability : between Frege and Wittgenstein -- Conclusions and significance -- 'Another I' : representing perception and action -- The core rule -- Modal status and its significance -- Comparisons -- The possession-condition and some empirical phenomena -- The model generalized -- Wider issues -- Mental action -- The distinctive features of action-awareness -- The nature and range of mental actions -- The principal hypothesis and its grounds -- The principal hypothesis : distinctions and consequences -- How do we know about our own mental actions? -- Concepts of mental actions and their epistemological significance -- Is this account open to the same objections as perceptual models of introspection? -- Characterizing and unifying schizophrenic experience -- The first person in the self-ascription of action -- Rational agency and action-awareness -- Representing thoughts -- The puzzle -- A proposal -- How the solution treats the constraints that generate the puzzle -- Relation to single-level treatments -- An application : reconciling externalism with distinctive self-knowledge. (shrink)
What is the relation between the nature of the things you think about, and the ways you think about them? Christopher Peacocke argues that meaning is never prior to metaphysics - to the nature of the world. He shows that this view holds for a wide range of topics, including magnitudes, time, the self, and abstract objects such as numbers.
What is involved in the consciousness of a conscious, "occurrent" propositional attitude, such as a thought, a sudden conjecture or a conscious decision? And what is the relation of such consciousness to attention? I hope the intrinsic interest of these questions provides sufficient motivation to allow me to start by addressing them. We will not have a full understanding either of consciousness in general, nor of attention in general, until we have answers to these questions. I think there are constitutive (...) features of these states which can be identified by broadly philosophical investigation, and in the early part of this paper I will try to do some of that identification. -/- Beyond the intrinsic interest of the topic, the nature of such conscious attitudes is highly pertinent to a philosophical account of psychological self-knowledge. So I will also say something about the significance of the constitutive features of these conscious attitudes for a philosophical account of how it can be that a thinker has a distinctive kind of knowledge of some of his mental states. The general challenge in this area is to find anything intermediate between the unexceptionable but uninformative, on the one hand, and the absolutely unbelievable on the other. (shrink)
This paper is built around a single, simple idea. It is widely agreed that there is a distinctive kind of awareness each of us has of his own bodily actions. This action-awareness is different from any perceptual awareness a subject may have of his own actions; it can exist in the absence of such perceptual awareness. The single, simple idea around which this paper is built is that the distinctive awareness that subjects have of their own mental actions is a (...) form of action-awareness. Subjects’ awareness of their own mental actions is a species of the same genus that also includes the distinctive awareness of bodily actions. More specifically, I claim. (shrink)
I am going to argue for a robust realism about magnitudes, as irreducible elements in our ontology. This realistic attitude, I will argue, gives a better metaphysics than the alternatives. It suggests some new options in the philosophy of science. It also provides the materials for a better account of the mind’s relation to the world, in particular its perceptual relations.
This note aims to clarify which arguments do, and which arguments do not, tell against Conceptualism, the thesis that the representational content of experience is exclusively conceptual. Contrary to Sean Kelly’s position, conceptualism has no difficulty accommodating the phenomena of color constancy and of situation-dependence. Acknowledgment of nonconceptual content is also consistent with holding that experiences have nonrepresentational subjective features. The crucial arguments against conceptualism stem from animal perception, and from a distinction, elaborated in the final section of the paper, (...) between content which is objective and content which is also conceived of by its subject as objective. (shrink)
The subjective properties of an experience are those which specify what having the experience is like for its subject. The sensational properties of an experience are those of its subjective properties that it does not possess in virtue of features of the way the experience represents the world as being (its representational content). Perhaps no topic in the philosophy of mind has been more vigorously debated in the past quarter-century than whether there are any sensational properties, so conceived. The existence (...) or otherwise of sensational properties is pivotal in assessing functionalism, representationalism, and many other conceptions of mental states and the nature of our ability to think about them. Instead of engaging in extended sentence- by-sentence dissection of these many discussions, I hope that the theses I formulate will, taken together, comprise a positive conception of sensational properties that can be drawn upon in assessing those debates. My main aim is to articulate that conception. (shrink)
The openness of joint awareness between two or more subjects is a perceptual phenomenon. It involves a certain mutual awareness between the subjects, an awareness that makes reference to that very awareness itself. Properly characterized, such awareness can generate iterated awareness ‘x is aware that y is aware that x is aware...’ to whatever level the subjects can sustain. The openness should not be characterized in terms of Lewis–Schiffer common knowledge, the conditions for which are not met in many basic (...) cases of joint attention. A range of phenomena, including linguistic communication and other interpersonal relations, that have previously been described in terms of common knowledge should rather be seen as involving open joint awareness. An Appendix to this chapter discusses the relations of this approach to Barwise's discussions, and disputes the claim that these mental phenomena require the postulation of self-involving situations. (shrink)
We often know what we are judging, what we are deciding, what problem we are trying to solve. We know not only the contents of our judgements, decidings and tryings; we also know that it is judgement, decision and attempted problem-solving in which we are engaged. How do we know these things?
This note aims to clarify which arguments do, and which arguments do not, tell against Conceptualism, the thesis that the representational content of experience is exclusively conceptual. Contrary to Sean Kelly's position, conceptualism has no difficulty accommodating the phenomena of color constancy and of situation‐dependence. Acknowledgment of nonconceptual content is also consistent with holding that experiences have nonrepresentational subjective features. the crucial arguments against conceptualism stem from animal perception, and from a distinction, elaborated in the final section of the paper, (...) between content which is objective and content which is also conceived of by its subject as objective. (shrink)
This paper has five theses, which are intended to address the claims in Jerry Fodor's paper. (1) The question arises of the relation between the philosophical theory of concepts and epistemology. Neither is explanatorily prior to the other. Rather, each relies implicitly on distinctions drawn from the other. To explain what makes something knowledge, we need distinctions drawn from the theory of concepts. To explain the attitudes mentioned in a theory of concepts, we need to use the notion of knowledge. (...) (2) Concepts can have a normative dimension without their nature being interpretation‐dependent, and without their nature being mind‐dependent. The normative dimension traces back instead to the role of truth as a constitutive aim of judgement. (3) Conceptual combination is to be explained at the level of reference and semantic value. When we respect this fact, there is no difficulty in explaining compositionality for epistemically‐constrained concepts. (4) Epistemically‐constrained theories of concepts are committed to the applicability of the notion of the a priori. They are not committed to the applicability of the notion of analyticity, where this is construed as truth purely in virtue of meaning or the identity of concepts. (5) Possession of a concept has causal‐explanatory powers, whether given by a possession condition in the form presented in A Study of Concepts, or by possession of an implicit conception. A possession‐condition theory of concepts need not be a form of dispositionalism. (shrink)