Between the years 1643 and 1649, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia (1618–80) and Rene; Descartes (1596–1650) exchanged fifty-eight letters—thirty-two from Descartes and twenty-six from Elisabeth. Their correspondence contains the only known extant philosophical writings by Elisabeth, revealing her mastery of metaphysics, analytic geometry, and moral philosophy, as well as her keen interest in natural philosophy. The letters are essential reading for anyone interested in Descartes’s philosophy, in particular his account of the human being as a union of mind (...) and body, as well as his ethics. They also provide a unique insight into the character of their authors and the way ideas develop through intellectual collaboration. Philosophers have long been familiar with Descartes’s side of the correspondence. Now Elisabeth’s letters—never before available in translation in their entirety—emerge this volume, adding much-needed context and depth both to Descartes’s ideas and the legacy of the princess. Lisa Shapiro’s annotated edition—which also includes Elisabeth’s correspondence with the Quakers William Penn and Robert Barclay—will be heralded by students of philosophy, feminist theorists, and historians of the early modern period. (shrink)
Elisabeth Lloyd is an American philosopher of science whose work is centered in the field of philosophy of biology. The material in this archive documents her work in philosophy of biology. The materials extend over the whole of her career and include manuscript materials, working notes on articles and books in progress, professional correspondence, teaching materials, documents relating to work with professional organizations, talks given to professional audiences, as well as annotated books, manuscripts and preprints. Elisabeth Lloyd's publications (...) include both books and professional articles. (shrink)
Traditionally a scientific theory is viewed as based on universal laws of nature that serve as axioms for logical deduction. In analyzing the logical structure of evolutionary biology, Elisabeth Lloyd argues that the semantic account is more appropriate and powerful. This book will be of interest to biologists and philosophers alike.
Elisabeth was the first of Descartes' interlocutors to press concerns about mind-body union and interaction, and the only one to receive a detailed reply, unsatisfactory though she found it. Descartes took her tentative proposal `to concede matter and extension to the soul' for a confused version of his own view: `that is nothing but to conceive it united to the body. Contemporary commentators take Elisabeth for a materialist or at least a critic of dualism. I read her instead (...) as a dualist of a different variety from Descartes: a forerunner of twenty-first century naturalistic dualism which calls for empirical investigation of the psychological and its posits to be taken just as seriously as physics and its posits. -/- I argue that Elisabeth, a keen scholar of mechanistic physics, objected not to substance dualism per se but to the residual Scholasticism of Descartes' account of mind-body causality and his dogmatism about principal attributes. She queried Descartes' categorisation of the `action' of thought as mind's principal attribute, and his identification of it with the merely negative property of immateriality, holding instead that further philosophical and empirical investigation into the nature of the mind is necessary. I problematise the materialist interpretation of Elisabeth with reference to later letters where she dismissed the materialist Objections of Hobbes and Gassendi and continued to urge further clarifications to Cartesian dualism. I explore Elisabeth's contrasting of statements of mechanistic physics with statements about thought, and her call for further investigation into the properties of the mind, and argue they mark her out as a forerunner of contemporary naturalistic dualism which proposes substance dualism as a best interpretation of recent psychology and of the difference in logical form between current physics and current psychology. (shrink)
Most of us create and use a panoply of non-sentential representations throughout our ordinary lives: we regularly use maps to navigate, charts to keep track of complex patterns of data, and diagrams to visualize logical and causal relations among states of affairs. But philosophers typically pay little attention to such representations, focusing almost exclusively on language instead. In particular, when theorizing about the mind, many philosophers assume that there is a very tight mapping between language and thought. Some analyze utterances (...) as the outer vocalizations of inner thoughts (e.g. Grice 1957, Devitt 2005), while others treat thought as a form of inner speech (e.g. Sellars 1956/1997, Carruthers 2002). But even philosophers who take no stand on the relative priority of language and thought still tend to individuate mental states in terms of the sentences we use to ascribe them. Indeed, Dummett (1993) claims that it is constitutive of analytic philosophy that it approaches the mind by way of language. In many ways, this linguistic model is salutary. Our thoughts are often intimately intertwined with their linguistic expression, and public language does provide a comparatively tractable proxy for, and a window into, the messier realm of thought. However, an exclusive focus on thought as it is expressed in language threatens to leave other sorts of thought unexplained, or even to blind us to their possibility. In particular, many cognitive ethologists and psychologists find it useful to talk about humans, chimpanzees, birds, rats, and even bees as employing cognitive maps. We need to make sense of this way of talking about minds as well as more familiar sentential descriptions. In what follows, I investigate the theoretical and practical possibility of non-sentential thought. Ultimately, I am most interested in the contours of distinctively human thought: what forms does human thought take, and how do those different forms interact? How does human thought compare with that of other animals? In this essay, however, I focus on a narrower and more basic theoretical question: could thought occur in maps? Many philosophers are convinced that in some important sense, thought per se must be language-like.. (shrink)
After a long period of neglect, the phenomenology of action has recently regained its place in the agenda of philosophers and scientists alike. The recent explosion of interest in the topic highlights its complexity. The purpose of this paper is to propose a conceptual framework allowing for a more precise characterization of the many facets of the phenomenology of agency, of how they are related and of their possible sources. The key assumption guiding this attempt is that the processes through (...) which the phenomenology of action is generated and the processes involved in the specification and control of action are strongly interconnected. I argue in favor of a three-tiered dynamic model of intention, link it to an expanded version of the internal model theory of action control and specification, and use this theoretical framework to guide an analysis of the contents, possible sources and temporal course of complementary aspects of the phenomenology of action. (shrink)
Traditional theories of sarcasm treat it as a case of a speaker's meaning the opposite of what she says. Recently, 'expressivists' have argued that sarcasm is not a type of speaker meaning at all, but merely the expression of a dissociative attitude toward an evoked thought or perspective. I argue that we should analyze sarcasm in terms of meaning inversion, as the traditional theory does; but that we need to construe 'meaning' more broadly, to include illocutionary force and evaluative attitudes (...) as well as propositional content. I distinguish four subclasses of sarcasm, individuated in terms of the target of inversion. Three of these classes raise serious challenges for a standard implicature analysis. (shrink)
On a familiar and prima facie plausible view of metaphor, speakers who speak metaphorically say one thing in order to mean another. A variety of theorists have recently challenged this view; they offer criteria for distinguishing what is said from what is merely meant, and argue that these support classifying metaphor within 'what is said'. I consider four such criteria, and argue that when properly understood, they support the traditional classification instead. I conclude by sketching how we might extract a (...) workable notion of 'what is said' from ordinary intuitions about saying. (shrink)
I take up three puzzles about our emotional and evaluative responses to fiction. First, how can we even have emotional responses to characters and events that we know not to exist, if emotions are as intimately connected to belief and action as they seem to be? One solution to this puzzle claims that we merely imagine having such emotional responses. But this raises the puzzle of why we would ever refuse to follow an author’s instructions to imagine such responses, since (...) we happily imagine many other implausible things. A natural response to this second puzzle is that our responses to fiction are real, and so can’t just be conjured up in response to an author’s demands. However, this simple response is inadequate, because we often respond differently to people and events in fiction than we would if we encountered them in real life. Solving these three puzzles in a consistent way requires the notion of a “perspective” on a fictional world. I sketch an account of this intuitive but frustratingly amorphous notion: perspectives are tools for organizing our thinking, which can in turn alter our emotional and evaluative responses. Cultivating a perspective can be illuminating, entertaining, or corrupting — or all three at once. (shrink)
I argue that we can reconcile two seemingly incompatible traditions for thinking about concepts. On the one hand, many cognitive scientists assume that the systematic redeployment of representational abilities suffices for having concepts. On the other hand, a long philosophical tradition maintains that language is necessary for genuinely conceptual thought. I argue that on a theoretically useful and empirically plausible concept of 'concept', it is necessary and sufficient for conceptual thought that a thinker be able to entertain many of the (...) potential thoughts produced by recombining her representational abilities apart from a direct confrontation with the states of affairs being represented. Such representational abilities support a cognitive engagement with the world that is flexible, abstract, and active. (shrink)
Elisabeth Porter's guide to the development of feminist thought on ethics & moral agency surveys feminist debates on the nature of feminist ethics, intimate relationships, professional ethics, politics, sexual politics, abortion and reproductive choices.
Recently, philosophers have discovered that they have a lot to learn from, or at least to ponder about, fiction. Many metaphysicians are attracted to fiction as a model for our talk about purported objects and properties, such as numbers, morality, and possible worlds, without embracing a robust Platonist ontology. In addition, a growing group of philosophers of mind are interested in the implications of our engagement with fiction for our understanding of the mind and emotions: If I don’t believe that (...) Anna Karenina exists, can I really pity her, or hope or desire that she extricate herself from her tragic situation? And why is there no “morality fiction,” analogous to science fiction? I suspect that philosophers have been especially comfortable thinking about fiction because it seems, at least prima facie, to employ the imagination in a way that conforms to a standard model of the mind. Specifically, contemporary philosophers tend to think of imagination as a form of mental pretense. Mental pretense can take two main forms: a cognitive attitude of supposing a set of propositions to be true (make-believe) or else an experiential state of imaging a scenario as if it were before one (imaging). Much of our pretense intertwines the cognitive and experiential modalities, of course. But both share a crucial common feature: all of one’s imaginative effort is invested in pretending that certain contents obtain. In this sense, we can understand imagination as the “offline” simulation of actual beliefs and perceptions (and perhaps other attitudes as well), where we analyze these in the normal way, as states individuated by their attitude and representational content. While I share the burgeoning interest in fiction, I want to suggest that we also have a lot to learn from poetry, and in particular from poetic metaphor. I will argue.. (shrink)
Philosophers have traditionally inclined toward one of two opposite extremes when it comes to metaphor. On the one hand, partisans of metaphor have tended to believe that metaphors do something different in kind from literal utterances; it is a ‘heresy’, they think, either to deny that what metaphors do is genuinely cognitive, or to assume that it can be translated into literal terms. On the other hand, analytic philosophers have typically denied just this: they tend to assume that if metaphors (...) express any genuine content at all, then that content can in principle be paraphrased into literal terms. They often conclude on this basis that metaphor is theoretically dispensable, and so that it poses no special challenges and affords no distinctive insights for the philosophy of language and mind. (shrink)
The objective of this paper is to characterize the rich interplay between automatic and cognitive control processes that we propose is the hallmark of skill, in contrast to habit, and what accounts for its flexibility. We argue that this interplay isn't entirely hierarchical and static, but rather heterarchical and dynamic. We further argue that it crucially depends on the acquisition of detailed and well-structured action representations and internal models, as well as the concomitant development of metacontrol processes that can be (...) used to shape and balance it. (shrink)
Does thought precede language, or the other way around? How does having a language affect our thoughts? Who has a language, and who can think? These questions have traditionally been addressed by philosophers, especially by rationalists concerned to identify the essential difference between humans and other animals. More recently, theorists in cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and developmental psychology have been asking these questions in more empirically grounded ways. At its best, this confluence of philosophy and science promises to blend the (...) respective strengths of each discipline, bringing abstract theory to bear on reality in a principled and focused way. At its worst, it risks degenerating into a war of words, with each side employing key expressions in its own idiosyncratic way – or worse, contaminating empirical research with a priori dogmas inherited from outmoded philosophical worldviews. In Baboon Metaphysics (2007), Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth offer an analysis of baboon cognition that promises to exemplify the very best interaction of philosophical theory and empirical research. They argue that baboons have a language of thought: a language-like representational medium, which supports the sophisticated cognitive abilities required to negotiate their complex social environment. This claim is intended to be surprising in its own right, and also to shed light on the evolution of spoken language. Because our own ancestors likely lived in a similarly complex social environment, Cheney and Seyfarth propose that the earliest humans also developed language first as a cognitive medium, and that spoken language evolved as a means to express those thoughts. There are two potential difficulties here. First, ‘Language of Thought’ (LOT) is a term of art, with much associated theoretical baggage and often comparatively little careful exposition. Thus, evaluating the claim requires getting clearer about just what LOT implies in this context.. (shrink)
Drawing on existing theory in the fields of business ethics, entrepreneurship, and psychology, this research provides an initial empirical exploration of whether entrepreneurs use cognitive reasoning processes which reflect a higher level of moral development than the level of moral development that has been empirically observed either in middle-level managers or in the general adult population. The Defining Issues Test was used to measure the level of moral reasoning skill of the entrepreneurs in this study. Although the study was limited (...) by a small sample size and the inherent difficulty of making accurate comparisons across other empirical studies, the results of this study suggest that entrepreneurs may exhibit moral reasoning skills at a slightly higher level than middle-level managers or the general adult population. (shrink)
We should not admit categorial restrictions on the significance of syntactically well formed strings. Syntactically well formed but semantically absurd strings, such as ‘Life’s but a walking shadow’ and ‘Caesar is a prime number’, can express thoughts; and competent thinkers both are able to grasp these and ought to be able to. Gareth Evans’ generality constraint, though Evans himself restricted it, should be viewed as a fully general constraint on concept possession and propositional thought. For (a) even well formed but (...) semantically cross-categorial strings often do possess substantive inferential roles; (b) hearers exploit these inferential roles in interpreting such strings metaphorically; (c) there is no good reason to deny truth-conditions to strings with inferential roles. (shrink)
Philosophers have proposed accounts of shared intentions that aim at capturing what makes a joint action intentionally joint. On these accounts, having a shared intention typically presupposes cognitively and conceptually demanding theory of mind skills. Yet, young children engage in what appears to be intentional, cooperative joint action long before they master these skills. In this paper, I attempt to characterize a modest or ‘lite’ notion of shared intention, inspired by Michael Bacharach’s approach to team–agency theory in terms of framing, (...) group identification and team reasoning. I argue that the account of shared intentions this approach yields is less cognitively and conceptually demanding than other accounts and is thus applicable to the intentional joint actions performed by young children. I also argue that it has limitations of its own and that considering what these limitations are may help us understand why we sometimes need to take other routes to shared intentions. (shrink)
Metaphors are powerful communicative tools because they produce ”framing effects’. These effects are especially palpable when the metaphor is an insult that denigrates the hearer or someone he cares about. In such cases, just comprehending the metaphor produces a kind of ”complicity’ that cannot easily be undone by denying the speaker’s claim. Several theorists have taken this to show that metaphors are engaged in a different line of work from ordinary communication. Against this, I argue that metaphorical insults are rhetorically (...) powerful because they combine perspectives, presupposition, and pragmatics in the service of speech acts with assertoric force. (shrink)
: This paper focuses on Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia's philosophical views as exhibited in her early correspondence with René Descartes. Elisabeth's criticisms of Descartes's interactionism as well as her solution to the problem of mind-body interaction are examined in detail. The aim here is to develop a richer picture of Elisabeth as a philosophical thinker and to dispel the myth that she is simply a Cartesian muse.
I argue that in order to solve the main difficulties confronted by the classical versions of the causal theory of action, it is necessary no just to make room for intentions, considered as irreducible to complexes of beliefs and desires, but also to distinguish among several types of intentions. I present a three-tiered theory of intentions that distinguishes among future-directed intentions, present-directed intentions and motor intentions. I characterize each kind of intention in terms of its functions, its type of content, (...) its dynamics and the rationality and time constraints that bear on it. I then try to show how the difficulties encountered by the causal theory can be solved within this new framework. 1. (shrink)
Philosophers have often adopted a dismissive attitude toward metaphor. Hobbes (1651, ch. 8) advocated excluding metaphors from rational discourse because they “openly profess deceit,” while Locke (1690, Bk. 3, ch. 10) claimed that figurative uses of language serve only “to insinuate wrong ideas, move the passions, and thereby mislead the judgment; and so indeed are perfect cheats.” Later, logical positivists like Ayer and Carnap assumed that because metaphors like..
This paper on the phenomenology of joint agency proposes a foray into a little explored territory at the intersection of two very active domains of research: joint action and sense of agency. I explore two ways in which our experience of joint agency may differ from our experience of individual agency. First, the mechanisms of action specification and control involved in joint action are typically more complex than those present in individual actions, since it is crucial for joint action that (...) people coordinate their plans and actions. I discuss the implications that these coordination requirements might have for the strength of the sense of agency an agent may experience for a joint action. Second, engagement in joint action may involve a transformation of agentive identity and a partial or complete shift from a sense of self-agency to a sense of we-agency. I discuss several factors that may contribute to shaping our sense of agentive identity in joint action. (shrink)
Theorists often associate certain “poetic” qualities with metaphor – most especially, producing an open-ended, holistic perspective which is evocative, imagistic and affectively-laden. I argue that, on the one hand, non-cognitivists are wrong to claim that metaphors only produce such perspectives: like ordinary literal speech, they also serve to undertake claims and other speech acts with propositional content. On the other hand, contextualists are wrong to assimilate metaphor to literal loose talk: metaphors depend on using one thing as a perspective for (...) thinking about something else. I bring out the distinctive way that metaphor works by contrasting it with two other poetic uses of language, juxtapositions and “telling details,” that do fit the accounts of metaphor offered by non-cognitivists and contextualists, respectively. (shrink)
This article discusses various dangers that accompany the supposedly benign methods in behavioral evoltutionary biology and evolutionary psychology that fall under the framework of "methodological adaptationism." A "Logic of Research Questions" is proposed that aids in clarifying the reasoning problems that arise due to the framework under critique. The live, and widely practiced, " evolutionary factors" framework is offered as the key comparison and alternative. The article goes beyond the traditional critique of Stephen Jay Gould and Richard C. Lewontin, to (...) present problems such as the disappearance of evidence, the mishandling of the null hypothesis, and failures in scientific reasoning, exemplified by a case from human behavioral ecology. In conclusion the paper shows that "methodological adaptationism" does not deserve its benign reputation. (shrink)
Recent philosophical attention to climate models has highlighted their weaknesses and uncertainties. Here I address the ways that models gain support through observational data. I review examples of model ﬁt, variety of evidence, and independent support for aspects of the models, contrasting my analysis with that of other philosophers. I also investigate model robustness, which often emerges when comparing climate models simulating the same time period or set of conditions. Starting from Michael Weisberg’s analysis of robustness, I conclude that his (...) approach involves a version of reasoning from variety of evidence, enabling this robustness to be a conﬁrmatory virtue.. (shrink)
Kant’s brilliant original contributions to political thought cannot be understood without attention to his dynamic concept of provisional right, argues Elisabeth Ellis in this book—the first comprehensive interpretation of Kant’s political theory. Kant’s notion of provisional right applies to existing institutions and practices that are consistent with the possibility of progress. Ellis traces this idea through Kant’s works and demonstrates that the concept of provisional right can be used both to illuminate contemporary theoretical debates and to generate policy implications. (...) In this new interpretation, Kant’s provisionalism provides a broad standard for political right that remains deeply responsive to historical and geographical particulars, directing our attention to the dynamism between our world and our ideals. Ellis offers us Kant for our time—worldly, pragmatic, and intensely committed to the everyday pursuit of human freedom. (shrink)
Many philosophers have offered accounts of shared actions aimed at capturing what makes joint actions intentionally joint. I first discuss two leading accounts of shared intentions, proposed by Michael Bratman and Margaret Gilbert. I argue that Gilbert’s account imposes more normativity on shared intentions than is strictly needed and that Bratman’s account requires too much cognitive sophistication on the part of agents. I then turn to the team-agency theory developed by economists that I see as offering an alternative route to (...) shared intention. I concentrate on Michael Bacharach’s version of team-agency theory, according to which shared agency is a matter of team-reasoning, team-reasoning depends on group identification and group identification is the result of processes of self-framing. I argue that it can yield an account of shared intention that is less normatively loaded and less cognitively demanding. (shrink)
I propose a distinct type of robustness, which I suggest can support a confirmatory role in scientific reasoning, contrary to the usual philosophical claims. In model robustness, repeated production of the empirically successful model prediction or retrodiction against a background of independentlysupported and varying model constructions, within a group of models containing a shared causal factor, may suggest how confident we can be in the causal factor and predictions/retrodictions, especially once supported by a variety of evidence framework. I present climate (...) models of greenhouse gas global warming of the 20th Century as an example, and emphasize climate scientists’ discussions of robust models and causal aspects. The account is intended as applicable to a broad array of sciences that use complex modeling techniques. (shrink)
In this paper, I shall offer a sketch of a dynamic theory of intentions. I shall argue that several categories or forms of intentions should be distinguished based on their different (and complementary) functional roles and on the different contents or types of contents they involve. I shall further argue that an adequate account of the distinctive nature of actions and of their various grades of intentionality depends on a large part on a proper understanding of the dynamic transitions among (...) these different forms of intentions. I also hope to show that one further benefit of this approach is to open the way for a more perspicuous account of the phenomenology of action and of the role of conscious thought in the production of action. (shrink)
The now growing literature on the content and sources of the phenomenology of first-person agency highlights the multi-faceted character of the phenomenology of agency and makes it clear that the experience of agency includes many other experiences as components. This paper examines the possible relations between these components of our experience of acting and the processes involved in action specification and action control. After a brief discussion of our awareness of our goals and means of action, it will focus on (...) the sense of agency for a given action, understood as the sense the agent has that he or she is the author of that action. I argue that the sense of agency can be analyzed as a compound of more basic experiences, including the experience of intentional causation, the sense of initiation and the sense of control. I further argue that the sense of control may itself be analysed into a number of more specific, partially dissociable experiences. (shrink)
This chapter aims at investigating the phenomenology of joint action and at gaining a better understanding of (1) how the sense of agency one experiences when engaged in a joint action differs from the sense of agency one has for individual actions and (2) how the sense of agency one experiences when engaged in a joint action differs according to the type of joint action and to the role one plays in it.
In Spanish (and other Romance languages) certain predicates select the subjunctive mood in the embedded clause, while others select the indicative mood. In this paper, I present a new analysis for the predicates that select the subjunctive mood in Spanish that is based on a semantics of comparison. The main generalization proposed here is the following: in Spanish, a predicate selects the subjunctive mood in its embedded proposition if the proposition is compared to its contextual alternatives on a scale introduced (...) by the predicate. In this proposal, predicates that select the subjunctive mood are thus analyzed as gradable predicates. Furthermore, the subjunctive mood morpheme is claimed to make a semantic contribution, namely to evaluate the contextual alternatives that are compared by the predicate. In comparing this proposal to other approaches, I show that it can more straightforwardly account for a number of properties of these predicates (entailment relations, practical inferences, and contexts with more than two alternatives). New empirical evidence for two crucial properties of the predicates that select the subjunctive mood is provided: these predicates are focus sensitive and they are gradable, two properties that follow directly from the proposal developed here. In the vast literature on mood, the link between the appearance of the subjunctive mood and these important properties has never been made before. (shrink)
I discuss two types of evidential problems with the most widely touted experiments in evolutionary psychology, those performed by Leda Cosmides and interpreted by Cosmides and John Tooby. First, and despite Cosmides and Tooby's claims to the contrary, these experiments don't fulfil the standards of evidence of evolutionary biology. Second Cosmides and Tooby claim to have performed a crucial experiment, and to have eliminated rival approaches. Though they claim that their results are consistent with their theory but contradictory to the (...) leading non-evolutionary alternative, Pragmatic Reasoning Schemas theory, I argue that this claim is unsupported. In addition, some of Cosmides and Tooby's interpretations arise from misguided and simplistic understandings of evolutionary biology. While I endorse the incorporation of evolutionary approaches into psychology, I reject the claims of Cosmides and Tooby that a modular approach is the only one supported by evolutionary biology. Lewontin's critical examinations of the applications of adaptationist thinking provide a background of evidentiary standards against which to view the currently fashionable claims of evolutionary psychology. (shrink)