A posteriori physicalism is the combination of two appealing views: physicalism (i.e. the view that all facts are either physical or entailed by the physical), and conceptual dualism (i.e. the view that phenomenal truths are not entailed a priori by physical truths). Recently, some philosophers such as Goff (2011), Levine (2007) and Nida-Rümelin (2007), among others, have suggested that a posteriori physicalism cannot explain how phenomenal concepts can reveal the nature of phenomenal properties. In this paper, I wish to defend (...) a posteriori physicalism from this new and interesting challenge, by arguing that a posteriori physicalists have the resources to explain how phenomenal concepts can reveal at least something of what it would take for the corresponding phenomenal property to be instantiated. (shrink)
What does woman mean? According to two competing views, it can be seen as a sex term or as a gender term. Recently, Jennifer Saul has put forward a contextualist view, according to which woman can have different meanings in different contexts. The main motivation for this view seems to involve moral and political considerations, namely, that this view can do justice to the claims of trans women. Unfortunately, Saul argues, on further reflection the contextualist view fails to do justice (...) to those moral and political claims that motivated the view in the first place. In this article I argue that there is a version of the contextualist view that can indeed capture those moral and political aims, and in addition, I use this case to illustrate an important and more general claim, namely, that moral and political considerations can be relevant to the descriptive project of finding out what certain politically significant terms actually mean. (shrink)
The inference from conceivability to possibility has been challenged in numerous ways. One of these ways is the so-called phenomenal concept strategy, which has become one of the main strategies against the conceivability argument against physicalism. However, David Chalmers has recently presented a dilemma for the phenomenal concept strategy, and he has argued that no version of the strategy can succeed. In this paper, I examine the dilemma, and I argue that there is a way out of it. I conclude (...) that Chalmers has not posed any serious problem for the phenomenal concept strategy to succeed in blocking the conceivability argument. In doing so, my aim is not only to show that Chalmers’s argument has not refuted the phenomenal concept strategy, but also to clarify what any version of the strategy should achieve in order to be successful. (shrink)
The combative metaphor of Oscience warsO has taken on a predominant position within the collective conscious, from being featured on the programs of scientific meetings to being splashed across the pages of leading national magazines and newspapers. Some in the scientific community perceive their profession to be under siege by members of the academic left, radical environmentalists, religious fundamentalists, eco-feminists, and others. This book, based on in-depth interviews with sixty members of groups with alleged Oanti-scienceO attitudes, examines how pervasive and (...) uniform these critiques are. The research is designed to examine two conflicting hypotheses: 1) that anti-science attitudes reflect a general cynicism about all major social institutions, and 2) that anti-science views are not broadly based but are reflective, instead , of the particular interests of a given social grouping. In the final analysis, Perrucci and Trachtman dig at the root of the so-called Oscience warsO by presenting evidence that the wars are not the product of an overarching suspicion of the institutions at the core of our society, but are instead the product of organized interest groups, which shape the attitudes and beliefs of their respective members. (shrink)
One of the main strategies against conceivability arguments is the so-called phenomenal concept strategy, which aims to explain the epistemic gap between physical and phenomenal truths in terms of the special features of phenomenal concepts. Daniel Stoljar has recently argued that the phenomenal concept strategy has failed to provide a successful explanation of this epistemic gap. In this paper my aim is to defend the phenomenal concept strategy from his criticisms. I argue that Stoljar has misrepresented the resources of the (...) strategy, which can indeed accomplish the required explanatory task, once it is properly understood. (shrink)
Even though disquotationalism is not correct as it is usually formulated, a deep insight lies behind it. Specifically, it can be argued that, modulo implicit commitment to reflection principles, all there is to the notion of truth is given by a simple, natural collection of truth-biconditionals.
The hard problem of consciousness is about how we could explain in physicalist terms why we are conscious. The meta-problem of consciousness is about how we could explain why we have a hard problem of consciousness. In this note I argue that the phenomenal concept strategy can in principle provide a satisfactory solution to the meta-problem.
Christopher Hom has recently argued that the best-overall account of the meaning of pejorative terms is a semantic account according to which pejoratives make a distinctive truth-conditional contribution, and in particular express complex, negative socially constructed properties. In addition, Hom supplements the semantic account with a pragmatic strategy to deal with the derogatory content of occurrences of pejorative terms in negations, conditionals, attitude reports, and so on, according to which those occurrences give rise to conversational implicatures to the effect that (...) the pejorative terms are non-empty, which explains the offensiveness of those occurrences. In this paper, I aim to defend this semantic strategy from several recent objections, and I will also present a novel objection, which in my view shows that we should understand the semantic account as a version of inferentialism, rather than radical externalism. (shrink)
This article explores ways in which the Revision Theory of Truth can be expressed in the object language. In particular, we investigate the extent to which semantic deficiency, stable truth, and nearly stable truth can be so expressed, and we study different axiomatic systems for the Revision Theory of Truth.
In this paper, I focus on an influential account of phenomenal concepts, the recognitional account, and defend it from some recent challenges. According to this account, phenomenal concepts are recognitional concepts that we use when we recognize experiences as “another one of those.” Michael Tye has argued that this account is viciously circular because the relevant recognitional abilities involve descriptions of the form “another experience of the same type,” which is also a phenomenal concept. Tye argues that we avoid the (...) circularity worry if we explain the reference-fixing of phenomenal concepts in terms of dispositions to re-identify tokens of the same type without appealing to any further phenomenal concepts. However, he argues, this account is incompatible with the intuitive claim that phenomenal concepts seem to involve rich modes of presentation of their referents. Philip Goff and others have similarly argued that a recognitional account of phenomenal concepts would make phenomenal concepts opaque, that is, unable to reveal anything about their referents, which seems problematic. In this paper, I present a new version of the recognitional account that avoids the circularity worry without entailing that phenomenal concepts are opaque. (shrink)
The metaphysics of gender and race is a growing area of concern in contemporary analytic metaphysics, with many different views about the nature of gender and race being submitted and discussed. But what are these debates about? What questions are these accounts trying to answer? And is there real disagreement between advocates of differ- ent views about race or gender? If so, what are they really disagreeing about? In this paper I want to develop a view about what the debates (...) in the metaphysics of gender and race are about, namely, a version of metaphysical deflationism, according to which these debates are about how we actually use or should use the terms ‘gender’ and ‘race’ (and other related terms), where moral and political considerations play a central role. I will also argue that my version of the view can overcome some recent and powerful objections to metaphysical deflationism of- fered by Elizabeth Barnes (2014, 2017). (shrink)
Sally Haslanger is concerned with the debate between social constructionists and error theorists about a given category, such as race or gender. For example, social constructionists about race claim that the term “race” refers to a social kind, whereas error theorists claim that the term “race” is an empty term, that is, nothing belongs to this category. It seems that this debate depends in part on the meaning of the corresponding expression, and this, according to some theorists, depends in turn (...) on our intuitions as competent speakers. But then, what should we say if competent users of the expressions “race” and “gender” understand the terms so that being a natural or biological property is a necessary condition in order to fall under the term? If that were the case, then it would seem that a social constructionist view would be out of the question. Haslanger has argued that a social constructionist view could still be defended in that situation. In order to argue for this, she draws on the classical arguments for semantic externalism, which show that the intuitions of competent speakers concerning the nature of a given category, and the objective type that actually unifies the instances of that category, may come apart. In this paper I will argue that the arguments for semantic externalism concerning natural kinds do not really offer support for Haslanger’s claim that ordinary intuitions concerning social kinds are not relevant. (shrink)
According to many philosophers, there is an explanatory gap between physical truths and phenomenal truths. Someone could know all the physical truths about the world, and in particular, all the physical information about the brain and the neurophysiology of vision, and still not know what it is like to see red (Jackson 1982, 1986). According to a similar example, someone could know all the physical truths about bats and still not know what it is like to be a bat (Nagel (...) 1974). We can conceive of an individual that is physically identical to me, molecule per molecule, but does not have any phenomenally conscious state whatsoever (Chalmers 1996). Some philosophers have argued that the explanatory gap shows that we cannot explain consciousness in physical terms (Levine 2001), or even that phenomenal consciousness is not physical and therefore physicalism is false (Chalmers 1996, 2002). (shrink)