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Harvey Lederman
University of Texas at Austin
  1. Perspectivism.Jeremy Goodman & Harvey Lederman - 2021 - Noûs 55 (3):623-648.
    Consider the sentence “Lois knows that Superman flies, but she doesn’t know that Clark flies”. In this paper we defend a Millian contextualist semantics for propositional attitude ascriptions, according to which ordinary uses of this sentence are true but involve a mid-sentence shift in context. Absent any constraints on the relevant parameters of context sensitivity, such a semantics would be untenable: it would undermine the good standing of systematic theorizing about the propositional attitudes, trivializing many of the central questions of (...)
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  2. Uncommon Knowledge.Harvey Lederman - 2018 - Mind 127 (508):1069-1105.
    Some people commonly know a proposition just in case they all know it, they all know that they all know it, they all know that they all know that they all know it, and so on. They commonly believe a proposition just in case they all believe it, they all believe that they all believe it, they all believe that they all believe that they all believe it, and so on. A long tradition in economic theory, theoretical computer science, linguistics (...)
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  3. Classical Opacity.Michael Caie, Jeremy Goodman & Harvey Lederman - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (3):524-566.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  4. Closed Structure.Peter Fritz, Harvey Lederman & Gabriel Uzquiano - 2021 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (6):1249-1291.
    According to the structured theory of propositions, if two sentences express the same proposition, then they have the same syntactic structure, with corresponding syntactic constituents expressing the same entities. A number of philosophers have recently focused attention on a powerful argument against this theory, based on a result by Bertrand Russell, which shows that the theory of structured propositions is inconsistent in higher order-logic. This paper explores a response to this argument, which involves restricting the scope of the claim that (...)
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  5. Two Paradoxes of Common Knowledge: Coordinated Attack and Electronic Mail.Harvey Lederman - 2018 - Noûs 52 (4):921-945.
    The coordinated attack scenario and the electronic mail game are two paradoxes of common knowledge. In simple mathematical models of these scenarios, the agents represented by the models can coordinate only if they have common knowledge that they will. As a result, the models predict that the agents will not coordinate in situations where it would be rational to coordinate. I argue that we should resolve this conflict between the models and facts about what it would be rational to do (...)
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  6. People with Common Priors Can Agree to Disagree.Harvey Lederman - 2015 - Review of Symbolic Logic 8 (1):11-45.
    Robert Aumann presents his Agreement Theorem as the key conditional: “if two people have the same priors and their posteriors for an event A are common knowledge, then these posteriors are equal” (Aumann, 1976, p. 1236). This paper focuses on four assumptions which are used in Aumann’s proof but are not explicit in the key conditional: (1) that agents commonly know, of some prior μ, that it is the common prior; (2) that agents commonly know that each of them updates (...)
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  7. The Introspective Model of Genuine Knowledge in Wang Yangming.Harvey Lederman - 2022 - Philosophical Review 131 (2):169-213.
    This article presents a new interpretation of the great Ming dynasty philosopher Wang Yangming’s celebrated doctrine of the “unity of knowledge and action”. Wang held that action was not unified with all knowledge, but only with an elevated form of knowledge, which he sometimes called “genuine knowledge”. I argue for a new interpretation of this notion, according to which genuine knowledge requires freedom from a form of doxastic conflict. I propose that, in Wang’s view, a person is free from this (...)
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  8. Are Language Models More Like Libraries or Like Librarians? Bibliotechnism, the Novel Reference Problem, and the Attitudes of LLMs.Harvey Lederman & Kyle Mahowald - manuscript
    Are LLMs cultural technologies like photocopiers or printing presses, which transmit information but cannot create new content? A challenge for this idea, which we call "bibliotechnism", is that LLMs often do generate entirely novel text. We begin by defending bibliotechnism against this challenge, showing how novel text may be meaningful only in a derivative sense, so that the content of this generated text depends in an important sense on the content of original human text. We go on to present a (...)
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  9. Sense, reference and substitution.Jeremy Goodman & Harvey Lederman - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (4):947-952.
    We show that, contrary to conventional wisdom, Frege’s distinction between sense and reference does not reconcile a classical logic of identity with apparent counterexamples to it involving proper names embedded under propositional attitude verbs.
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  10. Conceptions of Genuine Knowledge in Wang Yangming.Harvey Lederman - 2023 - Oxford Studies in Epistemology 7.
    This paper studies one aspect of the great Ming dynasty philosopher Wang Yangming’s (王陽明 1472-1529) celebrated doctrine of the unity of knowledge and action (zhi xing he yi 知行合一). Wang states that his doctrine does not apply to all knowledge, but only to an elevated form of knowledge, which he sometimes calls “genuine knowledge” (zhen zhi 真知). But what is “genuine knowledge”? I develop and compare four different interpretations of this notion: the perceptual, practical, normative and introspective models. The main (...)
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  11. Share the Sugar.Christian Tarsney, Harvey Lederman & Dean Spears - manuscript
    We provide a general argument against value incomparability, based on a new style of impossibility result. In particular, we show that, against plausible background assumptions, value incomparability creates an incompatibility between two very plausible principles for ranking lotteries: a weak "negative dominance" principle (to the effect that Lottery 1 can be better than Lottery 2 only if some possible outcome of Lottery 1 is better than some possible outcome of Lottery 2) and a weak form of ex ante Pareto (to (...)
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  12. Fine-grained semantics for attitude reports.Harvey Lederman - 2021 - Semantics and Pragmatics 14 (1).
    I observe that the “concept-generator” theory of Percus and Sauerland (2003), Anand (2006), and Charlow and Sharvit (2014) does not predict an intuitive true interpretation of the sentence “Plato did not believe that Hesperus was Phosphorus”. In response, I present a simple theory of attitude reports which employs a fine-grained semantics for names, according to which names which intuitively name the same thing may have distinct compositional semantic values. This simple theory solves the problem with the concept-generator theory, but, as (...)
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  13. Revisionist reporting.Kyle Blumberg & Harvey Lederman - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (3):755-783.
    Several theorists have observed that attitude reports have what we call “revisionist” uses. For example, even if Pete has never met Ann and has no idea that she exists, Jane can still say to Jim ‘Pete believes Ann can learn to play tennis in ten lessons’ if Pete believes all 6-year-olds can learn to play tennis in ten lessons and it is part of Jane and Jim’s background knowledge that Ann is a 6-year-old. Jane’s assertion seems acceptable because the claim (...)
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  14. Common Knowledge.Harvey Lederman - 2018 - In Marija Jankovic & Kirk Ludwig (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Collective Intentionality. pp. 181-195.
    An opinionated introduction to philosophical issues connected to common knowledge.
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  15. Incompleteness, Independence, and Negative Dominance.Harvey Lederman - manuscript
    This paper introduces the axiom of Negative Dominance, stating that if a lottery f is strictly preferred to a lottery g, then some outcome in the support of f is strictly preferred to some outcome in the support of g. It is shown that if preferences are incomplete on a sufficiently rich domain, then this plausible axiom, which holds for complete preferences, is incompatible with an array of otherwise plausible axioms for choice under uncertainty. In particular, in this setting, Negative (...)
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  16. Extended Preferences and Interpersonal Comparisons of Well‐being.Hilary Greaves & Harvey Lederman - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (3):636-667.
    An important objection to preference-satisfaction theories of well-being is that these theories cannot make sense of interpersonal comparisons of well-being. A tradition dating back to Harsanyi () attempts to respond to this objection by appeal to so-called extended preferences: very roughly, preferences over situations whose description includes agents’ preferences. This paper examines the prospects for defending the preference-satisfaction theory via this extended preferences program. We argue that making conceptual sense of extended preferences is less problematic than others have supposed, but (...)
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  17. Prospects for a Naive Theory of Classes.Hartry Field, Harvey Lederman & Tore Fjetland Øgaard - 2017 - Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 58 (4):461-506.
    The naive theory of properties states that for every condition there is a property instantiated by exactly the things which satisfy that condition. The naive theory of properties is inconsistent in classical logic, but there are many ways to obtain consistent naive theories of properties in nonclassical logics. The naive theory of classes adds to the naive theory of properties an extensionality rule or axiom, which states roughly that if two classes have exactly the same members, they are identical. In (...)
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  18. Remarks in Panel Discussion at Academia Sinica’s “Language and Practice in East Asian Thought” Conference.Harvey Lederman - manuscript
    Remarks on method in the history of Chinese philosophy for analytic philosophy.
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  19. Aggregating extended preferences.Hilary Greaves & Harvey Lederman - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (5):1163-1190.
    An important objection to preference-satisfaction theories of well-being is that they cannot make sense of interpersonal comparisons. A tradition dating back to Harsanyi :434, 1953) attempts to solve this problem by appeal to people’s so-called extended preferences. This paper presents a new problem for the extended preferences program, related to Arrow’s celebrated impossibility theorem. We consider three ways in which the extended-preference theorist might avoid this problem, and recommend that she pursue one: developing aggregation rules that violate Arrow’s Independence of (...)
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  20. What Is the “Unity” in the “Unity of Knowledge and Action”?Harvey Lederman - 2022 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 21 (4):569-603.
    AbstractThis essay argues for a new interpretation of the notion of “unity” in Yangming’s 王陽明 famous doctrine of the “unity of knowledge and action” (zhi xing he yi 知行合一). I distinguish two parts of Wang’s doctrine: one concerning training (gong fu 工夫), and one concerning the “original natural condition” of knowledge and action (ben ti 本體). I focus on the latter aspect of the doctrine, and argue that Wang holds, roughly, that a person exhibits knowledge in its original natural condition (...)
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  21. Fregeanism, sententialism, and scope.Harvey Lederman - 2022 - Linguistics and Philosophy 45 (6):1235-1275.
    Among philosophers, Fregeanism and sententialism are widely considered two of the leading theories of the semantics of attitude reports. Among linguists, these approaches have received little recent sustained discussion. This paper aims to bridge this divide. I present a new formal implementation of Fregeanism and sententialism, with the goal of showing that these theories can be developed in sufficient detail and concreteness to be serious competitors to the theories which are more popular among semanticists. I develop a modern treatment of (...)
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  22. Trying without fail.Ben Holguín & Harvey Lederman - manuscript
    An action is agentially perfect if and only if, if a person tries to perform it, they succeed, and, if a person performs it, they try to. We argue that trying itself is agentially perfect: if a person tries to try to do something, they try to do it; and, if a person tries to do something, they try to try to do it. We show how this claim sheds new light on the logical structure of intentional action, on the (...)
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  23. “一念发动处,便即是行了”——王阳明心理行为论简议 (“If a Single Concern Arises, It Is Already Action” : A Note on Wang Yangming on Mental Action).Harvey Lederman - 2023 - 哲学分析 14 (80.04):191-195.
    I present a problem for an influential argument of Chen Lai's, and argue that Wang Yangming may have believed that all "motivating concerns" are actions. (The archived version is a Chinese preprint; the published Chinese version is available by the external link in the entry. An English version is available on my website.).
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  24. Standard State Space Models of Unawareness.Peter Fritz & Harvey Lederman - 2015 - Theoretical Aspects of Rationality and Knowledge 15.
    The impossibility theorem of Dekel, Lipman and Rustichini has been thought to demonstrate that standard state-space models cannot be used to represent unawareness. We first show that Dekel, Lipman and Rustichini do not establish this claim. We then distinguish three notions of awareness, and argue that although one of them may not be adequately modeled using standard state spaces, there is no reason to think that standard state spaces cannot provide models of the other two notions. In fact, standard space (...)
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  25. ho pote on esti and Coupled Entities: A Form of Explanation in Aristotle's Natural Philosophy.Harvey Lederman - 2014 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 46:109-64.
    The difficult phrase ὅ ποτε ὄν ἐστι (hereafter ‘OPO’), which occurs in key passages in Aristotle’s discussions of blood and of time, has long vexed interpreters of Aristotle. This paper proposes a new interpretation of OPO, which resolves some textual and interpretative problems about Aristotle’s theories of blood and of time. My interpretation will also shed light on more general issues in Aristotle’s metaphysics. In the passages I will discuss, Aristotle takes both blood and time to be examples of his (...)
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  26. Response to Ivanhoe, "The Introspective, Perceptual, and Spontaneous Response Models of Wang Yangming's Philosophy".Harvey Lederman - manuscript
    I respond to P. J. Ivanhoe's criticisms of my translation of a key passage in Wang Yangming.
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  27. Two Letters on the Unity of Knowledge and Action by Wang Yangming.Harvey Lederman - manuscript
    A translation of two untranslated epistolary exchanges of Wang Yangming, which provide a record of how he understood the doctrine of the unity of knowledge and action after 1521.
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  28. Higher-order metaphysics and propositional attitudes.Harvey Lederman - 2024 - In Peter Fritz & Nicholas K. Jones (eds.), Higher-Order Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.
    According to relationism, for Alice to believe that some rabbits can speak is for Alice to stand in a relation to a further entity, some rabbits can speak. But what could this further entity possibly be? Higher-order metaphysics seems to offer a simple, natural answer. On this view (roughly put), expressions in different syntactic categories (for instance: names, predicates, sentences) in general denote entities in correspondingly different ontological categories. Alice's belief can thus be understood to relate her to a sui (...)
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  29. Can modalities save naive set theory?Peter Fritz, Harvey Lederman, Tiankai Liu & Dana Scott - 2018 - Review of Symbolic Logic 11 (1):21-47.
  30. Agreement and Equilibrium with Minimal Introspection.Harvey Lederman - 2014 - Dissertation, Oxford University
    Standard models in epistemic game theory make strong assumptions about agents’ knowledge of their own beliefs. Agents are typically assumed to be introspectively omniscient: if an agent believes an event with probability p, she is certain that she believes it with probability p. This paper investigates the extent to which this assumption can be relaxed while preserving some standard epistemic results. Geanakoplos (1989) claims to provide an Agreement Theorem using the “truth” axiom, together with the property of balancedness, a significant (...)
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  31. A theory of common ground.Harvey Lederman - 2014 - Dissertation, Oxford University
    A theory of common ground is proposed and defended. This is Chapter 2 of my 2014 DPhil (PhD) thesis.
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