Record of papers given at a symposium held at the University of Texas at Austin, April 1967; includes; C.J. Fillmore - The case for case; E. Bach - Nouns and noun phrases; J.D. McCawley - The role of semantics in a grammar; P. Kiparsky Linguistic universals and linguistic change.
The book then discusses another group of issues ("whether it is, what it is, how and why it is"), which determined the argumentation, the axiomatic ordering of the sciences, and concludes with a demonstration on the basis of concrete ...
Confusion in terms inspires confusion in concepts. When a relevant distinction is not clearly marked or not marked at all, it is apt to be blurred or even missed altogether in our thinking. This is true in any area of inquiry, pragmatics in particular. No one disputes that there are various ways in which what is communicated in an utterance can go beyond sentence meaning. The problem is to catalog the ways. It is generally recognized that linguistic meaning underdetermines speaker (...) meaning because of the need for disambiguation and reference assignment and because people can speak figuratively or indirectly. But philosophers and linguists are coming to recognize that these are not the only ways. The situation may be described in Gricean terms: the distinction between what is said and what is implicated is not exhaustive. Charting the middle ground between the two will require attending to specific examples, noting their distinctive features, and articulating the relevant concepts. That is what I aim to do here. The basic idea will be to distinguish not only the implied from the explicit but the implicit from the implied. (shrink)
Grice’s distinction between what is said and what is implicated has greatly clarified our understanding of the boundary between semantics and pragmatics. Although border disputes still arise and there are certain difficulties with the distinction itself (see the end of §1), it is generally understood that what is said falls on the semantic side and what is implicated on the pragmatic side. But this applies only to what is..
Ontic structural realists hold that structure is all there is, or at least all there is fundamentally. This thesis has proved to be puzzling: What exactly does it say about the relationship between objects and structures? In this article, I look at different ways of articulating ontic structural realism in terms of the relation between structures and objects. I show that objects cannot be reduced to structure, and argue that ontological dependence cannot be used to establish strong forms of structural (...) realism. At the end, I show how a weaker, but controversial, form of structural realism can be articulated on the basis of ontological dependence. (shrink)
The traditional puzzles about belief reports puzzles rest on a certain seemingly innocuous assumption, that 'that'-clauses specify belief contents. The main theories of belief reports also rest on this "Specification Assumption", that for a belief report of the form 'A believes that p' to be true,' the proposition that p must be among the things A believes. I use Kripke's Paderewski case to call the Specification Assumption into question. Giving up that assumption offers prospects for an intuitively more plausible approach (...) to the semantics of belief reports. But this approach must confront a puzzle of its own: it turns out that every case is a Paderewski case, at least potentially. (shrink)
This paper offers a smattering of applications of pragmatics to epistemology. In most cases they concern recent epistemological claims that depend for their plausibility on mistaking something pragmatic for something semantic. After giving my formulation of the semantic/pragmatic distinction and explaining how seemingly semantic intuitions can be responsive to pragmatic factors, I take up the following topics: 1. Classic Examples of Confusing Meaning and Use 2. Pragmatic Implications of Hedging or Intensifying an Assertion 3. Belief Attributions 4. Knowledge-wh 5. The (...) Knowledge Rule on Assertion 6. Testimony 7. Asserting and Thinking of Possibilities 8. Concessive Knowledge Attributions 9. “Pragmatic Encroachment” 10. Epistemic Contextualism.. (shrink)
As the dust jacket proclaims, “this is surely Fodor’s most irritating book in years …. It should exasperate philosophers, linguists, cognitive psychologists, and cognitive neuroscientists alike.” Yes, Fodor is an equal-opportunity annoyer. He sees no job for conceptual analysts, no hope for lexical semanticists, and no need for prototype theorists. When it comes to shedding light on concepts, these luminaries have delivered nothing but moonshine. Fodor aims to remedy things, and not just with snake oil. He serves up plenty of (...) clever barbs, potshots, and one-liners, not to mention arguments, to promote his “informational atomism.” It states that there is a large class of concepts, namely lexical concepts, that are ontologically and semantically primitive: each such concept has no internal structure and has its content not in virtue of any relation it bears to other concepts but in virtue of a nomic relation it bears to some property. The property it is thus “locked to” is its content. (shrink)
MARGA REIMER has forcefully challenged David Kaplan's recent claim (, pp. 582-4) that demonstrative gestures, in connnection with uses of demonstrative expressions, are without semantic significance and function merely as 'aids to communication', and that speaker intentions are what determine the demonstratum. Against this Reimer argues that demonstrations can and do play an essential semantic role and that the role of intentions is marginal at best. That is, together with the linguistic meaning of the demonstrative phrase being used, an act (...) of demonstration determines what is said. I will argue that Kaplan's view is borne out if we consider the referential intentions specific to communication. Reimer may be correct about such intentions as she considers, but she overlooks specifically referential ones. When these are taken into account, we find that aalthough demonstrations contribute in a way to what is said, this does not make them semantically significant. (shrink)
In this paper I aim to answer two questions: Can spin be treated as a determinable? Can a treatment of spin as a determinable be used to understand quantum indeterminacy? In response to the first question I show that the relations among spin number, spin components and spin values cannot be captured by a single determination relation; instead we need to look at spin number and spin value separately. In response to the second question I discuss three ways in which (...) the determinables model might be modified to account for indeterminacy, and argue that none of them is fully successful in helping us to understand quantum indeterminacy. (shrink)
Once upon a time it was assumed that speaking literally and directly is the norm and that speaking nonliterally or indirectly is the exception. The assumption was that normally what a speaker means can be read off of the meaning of the sentence he utters, and that departures from this, if not uncommon, are at least easily distinguished from normal utterances and explainable along Gricean lines. The departures were thought to be limited to obvious cases like figurative speech and conversational (...) implicature. However, people have come to appreciate that the meaning of a typical sentence, at least one we are at all likely to use, is impoverished, at least relative to what we are likely to mean in uttering it. In other words, what a speaker normally means in uttering a sentence, even without speaking figuratively or obliquely, is an enriched version of what could be predicted from the meaning of the sentence alone. This can be because the sentence expresses a “minimal” (or “skeletal”) proposition or even because it fails to express a complete proposition at all.1 Indeed, it is now a platitude that linguistic meaning generally underdetermines speaker meaning. That is, generally what a speaker means in uttering a sentence, even if the sentence is devoid of ambiguity, vagueness, or indexicality, goes beyond what the sentence means. The question is what to make of this Contextualist Platitude, as I’ll call it. It may be a truism, but does it require a radical revision of the older conception of the relation between what sentences mean and what speakers mean in uttering them? Does it lead to a major modification, or perhaps even outright rejection, of the semantic-pragmatic distinction? I think.. (shrink)
In this chapter, the author offers another explanation of the variation in contents, which is explained by contextualism as being related to a variation in standards. The author’s explanation posits that the contents of knowledge attributions are invariant. The variation lies in what knowledge attributions we are willing to make or accept. Although not easy to acknowledge, what contextualism counts as knowledge varies with the context in which it is attributed. A new rival to contextualism, known as Subject-Sensitive Invariantism, goes (...) so far as to suggest that practical importance to the subject can affect the truth-value of a knowledge attribution. John MacFarlane puts forth another view in which the truth-value of a knowledge attribution is not absolute but relative. These two views raise interesting questions in their own right, but it is only contextualism which implies that the content of a knowledge attribution can vary with facts about the context in which it is made. (shrink)
Realists about science tend to hold that our scientific theories aim for the truth, that our successful theories are at least partly true, and that the entities referred to by the theoretical terms of these theories exist. Antirealists about science deny one or more of these claims. A sizable minority of philosophers of science prefers not to take sides: they believe the realism debate to be fundamentally mistaken and seek to abstain from it altogether. In analogy with other realism debates (...) I will call these philosophers quietists. In the philosophy of science quietism often takes a somewhat peculiar form, which I will call naturalistic quietism. In this paper I will characterize Maddy’s Second Philosophy as a form of naturalistic quietism, and show what the costs for making it feasible are. (shrink)
Proper names seem simple on the surface. Indeed, anyone unfamiliar with philosophical debates about them might wonder what the fuss could possibly be about. It seems obvious why we need them and what we do with them, and that is to talk about particular persons, places, and things. You don't have to be as smart as Mill to think that proper names are simply tags attached to individuals. But sometimes appearances are deceiving.
Freedom and the subject were guiding themes for Michel Foucault throughout his philosophical career. In this clear and comprehensive analysis of his thought, Johanna Oksala identifies the different interpretations of freedom in his philosophy and examines three major divisions of it: the archaeological, the genealogical, and the ethical. She shows convincingly that in order to appreciate Foucault's project fully we must understand his complex relationship to phenomenology, and she discusses Foucault's treatment of the body in relation to recent feminist (...) work on this topic. Her sophisticated but lucid book illuminates the possibilities that Foucault's philosophy opens up for us in thinking about freedom. (shrink)
The basic question of action theory, what it is to do something, invites the complementary question of what it is to fail to do something (and not merely not do it). At every moment there are zillions of things that you’re not doing but few if any that you’re failing to do. There seem to be four (partly overlapping) ways of failing to do something.
We hardly ever mean exactly what we say. I don’t mean that we generally speak figuratively or that we’re generally insincere. Rather, I mean that we generally speak loosely, omitting words that could have made what we meant more explicit and letting our audience fill in the gaps. Language works far more efficiently when we do that. Literalism can have its virtues, as when we’re drawing up a contract, programming a computer, or writing a philosophy paper, but we generally opt (...) for efficiency over explicitness. In.. (shrink)
There is a simple view of motivation on which desires are like pain-killers; they come in different strengths, and their strength determines their efficacy. That is, the stronger a desire the greater its motivational force and, when two desires conflict, the stronger one “wins out” over the weaker. This view makes it puzzling how anyone could ever exhibit “strength of will” and act on the weaker desire, even when it is a desire for something more highly valued than what is (...) more strongly desired. When the will, as the agent of reason, enters the fray, an explanation of what a person is motivated enough to do must reckon not only with competing desires and their motivational forces, but also with the will’s capacity to be affected by different ones in ways not proportional to their force. However, this complication sheds little light, for if the will must bestow its stamp of approval on a desire before the desire leads to action, then, it would seem, motivational force should be measured by strength of effect on the will. And if that’s the way to measure motivational force, then, since by that measure one always acts on the desire that affects one’s will most, there is no problem of strength of will after all. But the problem seems real, however inapt the label. (shrink)
The distinction between semantics and pragmatics is easier to apply than to explain. Explaining it is complicated by the fact that many conflicting formulations have been proposed over the past sixty years. This might suggest that there is no one way of drawing the distinction and that how to draw it is merely a terminological question, a matter of arbitrary stipulation. In my view, though, these diverse formulations, despite their conflicts, all shed light on the distinction as it is commonly (...) applied, in both linguistics and philosophy. Although it is generally clear what is at issue when people apply the distinction to specific linguistic phenomena, what is less clear, in some cases anyway, is whether a given phenomenon is semantic or pragmatic, or both. Fortunately, there are other phenomena that are uncontroversially semantic or, as the case may be, uncontroversially pragmatic. Their example will help us get clear on what the semantics-pragmatics distinction is. (shrink)
There are many mean and nasty things to say about mean and nasty talk, but I don't plan on saying any of them. There's a specific problem about slurring words that I want to address. This is a semantic problem. It's not very important compared to the real-world problems presented by bigotry, racism, discrimination, and worse. It's important only to linguistics and the philosophy of language.
This paper defends a purely semantic notion of what is said against various recent objections. The objections each cite some sort of linguistic, psychological, or epistemological fact that is supposed to show that on any viable notion of what a speaker says in uttering a sentence, there is pragmatic intrusion into what is said. Relying on a modified version of Grice's notion, on which what is said must be a projection of the syntax of the uttered sentence, I argue that (...) a purely semantic notion is needed to account for the linguistically determined input to the hearer's inference to what, if anything, the speaker intends to be conveying in uttering the sentence. (shrink)
Are laws of nature necessary, and if so, are all laws of nature necessary in the same way? This question has played an important role in recent discussion of laws of nature. I argue that not all laws of nature are necessary in the same way: conservation laws are perhaps to be regarded as metaphysically necessary. This sheds light on both the modal character of conservation laws and the relationship between different varieties of necessity.
Some scientists are happy to follow in the footsteps of others; some like to explore novel approaches. It is tempting to think that herein lies an epistemic division of labor conducive to overall scientific progress: the latter point the way to fruitful areas of research, and the former more fully explore those areas. Weisberg and Muldoon’s model, however, suggests that it would be best if all scientists explored novel approaches. I argue that this is due to implausible modeling choices, and (...) I present an alternative ‘epistemic landscape’ model that demonstrates the alleged benefits from division of labor, with one restriction. (shrink)
This article argues that Lara Buchak’s risk-weighted expected utility theory fails to offer a true alternative to expected utility theory. Under commonly held assumptions about dynamic choice and the framing of decision problems, rational agents are guided by their attitudes to temporally extended courses of action. If so, REU theory makes approximately the same recommendations as expected utility theory. Being more permissive about dynamic choice or framing, however, undermines the theory’s claim to capturing a steady choice disposition in the face (...) of risk. I argue that this poses a challenge to alternatives to expected utility theory more generally. (shrink)
When I examine contextualism there is much that I can doubt. I can doubt whether it is a cogent theory that I examining, and not a cleverly stated piece of whacks. I can doubt whether there is any real theory there at all. Perhaps what I took to be a theory was really some reflections; perhaps I am even the victim of some cognitive hallucination. One thing however I cannot doubt: that there exists a widely read pitch of a round (...) and somewhat bulgy shape. (shrink)
I am often asked to explain the difference between my notion of impliciture (Bach 1994) and the relevance theorists’ notion of explicature (Sperber and Wilson 1986; Carston 2002). Despite the differences between the theoretical frameworks within which they operate, the two notions seem very similar. Relevance theorists describe explicatures as “developments of logical forms,” whereas I think of implicitures as “expansions” or “completions” of semantic contents (depending on whether or not the sentence’s semantic content amounts to a proposition). That (...) is not much of a difference. We agree that implicitures/explicatures go beyond what is said (in a strict sense) and yet fall short of being implicatures. So, what is the difference, or is it just terminological? As we will see, the real differences emerge when the two notions are situated in their respective theoretical frameworks with their contrasting conceptions of what is involved in linguistic communication. (shrink)
Here's an old question in the philosophy of perception: here I am, looking at this pen [I hold up a pen in my hand]. Presumably I really am seeing this pen. Even so, I could be having an experience just like the one I am having without anything being there. So how can the experience I am having really involve direct awareness of the pen? It seems as though the presence of the pen is inessential to the way the experience (...) is. (shrink)
What bothers people about reliabilism as a theory of justified belief? It has yet to be formulated adequately, but most philosophical theories have that problem. People seem to be bothered by the very idea of reliabilism, with its apparent disregard for believers’ rationality and responsibility. Yet its supporters can’t seem to understand its opponents complaints. I believe that the conflict can be clarified, if not resolved, by drawing certain important distinctions.
This important new collection considers Jurgen Habermas's discourse theory from a variety of feminist vantage points. Feminist scholars have been drawn to Habermas's work because it reflects a tradition of emancipatory political thinking rooted in the Enlightenment and engages with the normative aims of emancipatory social movements. The essays in Feminists Read Habermas analyze various aspects of Habermas's work, ranging from his moral theory to political issues of identity and participation. The contributors share a conviction about the potential significance of (...) Habermas's work for feminist reflections on power, norms and subjectivity. (shrink)
Analogical cognition refers to the ability to detect, process, and learn from relational similarities. The study of analogical and similarity cognition is widely considered one of the ‘success stories’ of cognitive science, exhibiting convergence across many disciplines on foundational questions. Given the centrality of analogy to mind and knowledge, it would benefit philosophers investigating topics in epistemology and the philosophies of mind and language to become familiar with empirical models of analogical cognition. The goal of this essay is to describe (...) recent empirical work on analogical cognition as well as model applications to philosophical topics. Topics to be discussed include the epistemological distinction between implicit knowledge and explicit knowledge, the debate between empiricists and nativists, the frame problem, expertise, creativity and autism, cognitive architecture, and relational knowledge. Particular attention is given to Dedre Gentner and colleague’s structure-mapping theory – the most developed and widely accepted model of analogical cognition. (shrink)
This paper defends revealed preference theory against a pervasive line of criticism, according to which revealed preference methodology relies on appealing to some mental states, in particular an agent’s beliefs, rendering the project incoherent or unmotivated. I argue that all that is established by these arguments is that revealed preference theorists must accept a limited mentalism in their account of the options an agent should be modelled as choosing between. This is consistent both with an essentially behavioural interpretation of preference (...) and with standard revealed preference methodology. And it does not undermine the core motivations of revealed preference theory. (shrink)
No contemporary philosopher has tried harder to demystify the mind than Fred Dretske. But how to demystify it without eviscerating it? Can consciousness be explained? Many philosophers think that no matter how detailed and systematic our knowledge becomes of how the brain works and how it subserves mental functions, there will always remain an "explanatory gap." Call it a brute fact or call it a mystery, trying to explain consciousness, they think, is as futile as trying to explain why there (...) is something rather than nothing. Dretske is not exercised by the explanatory gap-he'd rather exorcise it. He thinks we can get all the explanation we need by understanding what consciousness does. Consciousness is at bottom sensory experience and what it does, essentially, is to represent the world. Explaining consciousness, therefore, comes down to understanding the representational character of experience. (shrink)
In some domains experts perform better than novices, and in other domains experts do not generally perform better than novices. According to empirical studies of expert performance, this is because the former but not the latter domains make available to training practitioners a direct form of learning feedback. Several philosophers resource this empirical literature to cast doubt on the quality of philosophical expertise. They claim that philosophy is like the dubious domains in that it does not make available the good, (...) direct kind of learning feedback, and thus there are empirical grounds for doubting the epistemic quality of philosophical expertise. I examine the empirical studies that are purportedly bad news for professional philosophers. On the basis of that examination, I provide three reasons why the empirical study of non-philosophical expertise does not undermine the status of philosophical expertise. First, the non-philosophical task-types from which the critics generalize are unrepresentative of relevant philosophical task-types. Second, empirical critiques of non-philosophical experts are often made relative to the performance of linear models—a comparison that is inapt in a philosophical context. Third, the critics fail to discuss findings from the empirical study of non-philosophical expertise that have more favorable implications for the epistemic status of philosophical expertise. In addition to discussing implications for philosophical expertise, this article makes progress in the philosophical analysis of the science of expertise and expert development. (shrink)
In 'How Should We Aggregate Competing Claims', Alex Voorhoeve suggests accommodating intuitions about duties in rescue cases by combining aggregative and non-aggregative elements into one theory. In this paper, I discuss two problems Voorhoeve’s theory faces as a result of requiring a cyclic pattern of choice, and argue that his attempt to solve them does not succeed.
This paper argues that instrumental rationality is more permissive than expected utility theory. The most compelling instrumentalist argument in favour of separability, its core requirement, is that agents with non-separable preferences end up badly off by their own lights in some dynamic choice problems. I argue that once we focus on the question of whether agents’ attitudes to uncertain prospects help define their ends in their own right, or instead only assign instrumental value in virtue of the outcomes they may (...) lead to, we see that the argument must fail. Either attitudes to prospects assign non-instrumental value in their own right, in which case we cannot establish the irrationality of the dynamic choice behaviour of agents with non-separable preferences. Or they don’t, in which case agents with non-separable preferences can avoid the problematic choice behaviour without adopting separable preferences. (shrink)