The ontic conception of scientific explanation has been constructed and motivated on the basis of a putative lexical ambiguity in the term explanation. I raise a puzzle for this ambiguity claim, and then give a deflationary solution under which all ontically-rendered talk of explanation is merely elliptical; what it is elliptical for is a view of scientific explanation that altogether avoids the ontic conception. This result has revisionary consequences for New Mechanists and other philosophers of science, many of whom have (...) assimilated their conception of explanation to the ontic conception. (shrink)
Despite their success in describing and predicting cognitive behavior, the plausibility of so-called ‘rational explanations’ is often contested on the grounds of computational intractability. Several cognitive scientists have argued that such intractability is an orthogonal pseudoproblem, however, since rational explanations account for the ‘why’ of cognition but are agnostic about the ‘how’. Their central premise is that humans do not actually perform the rational calculations posited by their models, but only act as if they do. Whether or not the problem (...) of intractability is solved by recourse to ‘as if’ explanations critically depends, inter alia, on the semantics of the ‘as if’ connective. We examine the five most sensible explications in the literature, and conclude that none of them circumvents the problem. As a result, rational ‘as if’ explanations must obey the minimal computational constraint of tractability. (shrink)
The relative merits and demerits of historically prominent views such as the correspondence theory, coherentism, pragmatism, verificationism, and instrumentalism have been subject to much attention in the truth literature and have fueled the long-lived debate over which of these views is the most plausible one. While diverging in their specific philosophical commitments, adherents of these historically prominent views agree in at least one fundamental respect. They are all alethic monists. They all endorse the thesis that there is only one property (...) in virtue of which propositions can be true, and so, in this sense, take truth to be one. The truth pluralist, on the other hand, rejects this idea. There are several properties in virtue of which propositions can be true. The literature on truth pluralism has been growing steadily for the past twenty years. This volume, however, is the first of its kind—the first collection of papers focused specifically on pluralism about truth. Part I is dedicated to the development, investigation, and critical discussion of different forms of pluralism. An additional reason to look at truth pluralism with interest is the significant connections it bears to other debates in the truth literature—the debates concerning traditional theories of truth and the deflationism/inflationism divide being cases in hand. Parts II and III of the volume connect truth pluralism to these two debates. (shrink)
Traditional inflationary approaches that specify the nature of truth are attractive in certain ways; yet, while many of these theories successfully explain why propositions in certain domains of discourse are true, they fail to adequately specify the nature of truth because they run up against counterexamples when attempting to generalize across all domains. One popular consequence is skepticism about the efficaciousness of inﬂationary approaches altogether. Yet, by recognizing that the failure to explain the truth of disparate propositions often stems from (...) inflationary approaches' allegiance to alethic monism, pluralist approaches are able to avoid this explanatory inadequacy and the resulting skepticism, though at the cost of inviting other conceptual difficulties. A novel approach, alethic functionalism, attempts to circumvent the problems faced by pluralist approaches while preserving their main insights. Unfortunately, it too generates additional problems---namely, with its suspect appropriation of the multiple realizability paradigm and its platitude-based strategy---that need to be dissolved before it can constitute an adequate inflationary approach to the nature of truth. (shrink)
Functionalists about truth employ Ramsification to produce an implicit definition of the theoretical term _true_, but doing so requires determining that the theory introducing that term is itself true. A variety of putative dissolutions to this problem of epistemic circularity are shown to be unsatisfactory. One solution is offered on functionalists' behalf, though it has the upshot that they must tread on their anti-pluralist commitments.
Although it’s sometimes thought that pluralism about truth is unstable—or, worse, just a non-starter—it’s surprisingly difficult to locate collapsing arguments that conclusively demonstrate either its instability or its inability to get started. This paper exemplifies the point by examining three recent arguments to that effect. However, it ends with a cautionary tale; for pluralism may not be any better off than other traditional theories that face various technical objections, and may be worse off in facing them all.