It is a received view of the post-Fregean predicate logic that a universal statement has no existential import and thus does not entail its particular (existential) counterpart. This paper takes issue with the view by discussing the trespasser case, which has widely been employed for supporting the view. The trespasser case in fact involves a shift of context. Properly understood, the case provides no support for the received view but rather suggests that we rethink the ‘quantity view’ of the existential (...) import of quantifiers. (shrink)
It has been claimed that computer-assisted proof utilizes empirical evidence in a manner unheard of in traditional mathematics and therefore its employment forces us to modify our conception of proof. This paper provides a critical survey of some arguments for this claim. It starts by revisiting a well known paper by Thomas Tymoczko on the computer proof of the Four-Color Theorem. Drawing on some ideas from the works of Tyler Burge and others, it then considers a way to see the (...) philosophical significance of computer proof that casts doubts on the claim. (shrink)
In 1996, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal of United States ruled that a Washington law banning physician-assisted suicide was unconstitutional. In the same year, the 2nd Circuit found a similar law in New York unconstitutional. One year later, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed both rulings, saying that there was no constitutional right to assisted suicide. However, the Court also made plain that they did not reject such a right in principle and that “citizens are free to press for permissive (...) reforms… through legislation or referendums” (Dworkin 1997: 6). (The unanimity of the vote was therefore, as Dworkin notes (1997:1), deceptive.) Oregon chose to do so and legalized physician-assisted suicide in 1997. Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Act” is one of the latest expressions of a medical and legal consensus that has gradually emerged in U.S. and some European countries over the past two decades, that is, the consensus that recognizes the right of terminally ill and competent patients to receive assistance with suicide. (shrink)
I thought the paper by Kai-yee Wong and Chris Fraser was fascinating and insightful. Two things I especially appreciated are the clarity with which they summarize my views. I think they are quite fair and accurate. Second, I appreciate their suggestion that the way to deal with the practical problem of weakness of will has much to do with the role of the Background in shaping our actions. I think they are especially on the right track when they say that (...) the improvement of Background skills may actually narrow the range of real options for action, (p. 21) nonetheless, they do not decrease freedom. As they say, “It is a process of strengthening the self, and the agent is likely to experience the concomitant restriction of ‘live’ options not as a limitation but as strength of character.” (p. 21). That seems to me very much on the right track. What they are suggesting, and it is a powerful addition to my own writings, is that we should not just think of the Background as facilitating languages, games and social practices generally, but for morality as well (p. 23). (shrink)
Through a series of writings, Frank Jackson has developed a new kind of descriptivism that he argues can resist all of the three major objections raised by the theorists of direct reference. In this article I articulate some doubts about Jackson’s replies to two of these objections, i.e., the modal argument and the semantic argument.
In Frege’s Puzzle, Nathan Salmon argues that his theory of singular propositions enables him to refute Saul Kripke’s claim that some identity statements are necessary and yet a posteriori. In this paper, through a critical examination of Salmon’s rejoinders to my earlier objections to his argument, I show what implications the theory of singular propositions has for the notion of apriority. I argue that Salmon’s handling of the ‘trivialization problem,’ which presents serious difficulties for his ‘absolute’ account of apriority, leaves (...) a great deal to be desired. I suggest, in conclusion, that the theorist of singular propositions should hold a relative view of apriority. (shrink)
Applying two-dimensional modal semantics, some philosophers, most recently Frank Jackson and David Chalmers among others, have sought to provide analyses of Kripke’s examples of the necessary a posteriori. Despite the massive amount of attention that two-dimensionalism has received of late, Robert Nozick’s recent accounting of Kripke’s examples, which bears striking similarities to these two-dimensionalist analyses but reached a different conclusion, has gone unnoticed. This paper argues that (a) underlying such a difference is a serious problem with the two-dimensionalist approach to (...) the necessary a posteriori and (b) thinking through this problem will go a long way towards a proper understanding, and thus assessment, of this approach. (shrink)
Over the past three decades or so, the teaching of critical thinking as an essential part of general education has exerted a significant influence on contemporary post secondary education. Critical thinking includes as a central part traditional logic but goes beyond it both in scope and in the conception of what the evaluation of arguments involves, or, to put it in another way, in the very conception of what constitutes the ability to reason well. Indeed one of the notable trends (...) that characterize recent developments in informal logic and critical thinking has been ‘a move toward a broad conception of argumentation which extends the analysis of argumentation beyond the analysis of premises and conclusions’ (Groarke 2002: section 1). An important sign of this trend is the increasing number of scholarly journals in the field of informal logic and theory of argumentation — e.g. (shrink)
This article aims to evaluate the purported empirical character of computer-assisted proof, as suggested by Thomas Tymoczko and others. Tymoczko famously argued that the proof of the Four-Color Theorem introduced a new, empirical method of proof, forcing us to modify the traditional conception of mathematical argument as a priori reasoning. Detlefsen and Luker contended that Tymoczko’s suggestion entailed that typically mathematical proofs were empirical. My chief interest is to raise some objections to a line of thought common to both of (...) these arguments, with a view to outlining an account of the a priori which allows thepossibility of a priori knowledge obtained by appeal to computers or through testimony. Drawing on some recent discussions by Tyler Burge, this account gives a broad construal of the non-justificatory, ‘enabling’ role that experience is held to play in knowledge and cognition, allowing us to argue that the purported empirical character of the appeal to computers pertains only to the role experience plays in enabling our access to the a priori warrant provided by computer proof. (shrink)
In contrast to standard possible worlds semantics, possible worlds in a two-dimensional semantic framework play two kinds of roles, rather than just one. This allows the framework to assign two kinds of intensions to expressions, rather than just one. Its fruitful use in explicating modal operators and the meanings of referential expressions like indexicals has led to two-dimensional accounts that seek to revive the Fregean conception of meaning, or more specifically the descriptivist view of reference, which has fallen into disrepute (...) due to intense criticisms, most famously, by Saul Kripk’s seminal work Naming and Necessity (1972). This entry provides a critical overview of the two most prominent of such accounts, proposed by Frank Jackson and David Chalmers. Unfortunately, there is not space to describe either account in detail, so I rely largely on brief descriptions and plenty of references to primary and secondary sources. More importantly, I rely on focusing on how the accounts explain the phenomenon of necessary a posteriori identity that Kripke’s well-known examples (such as ‘Hesperus is Phosphorus’) have brought to light. Focusing on and structuring our discussions around this phenomenon is by no means just an expository convenience. These cases are of central importance in themselves. They epitomize a large part of the contribution of Naming and Necessity to the theory of reference. This is why section 2 outlines Kripke’s critique of the Fregean theory of referential expressions and section 3 explains rigid designation and identity statements. Section 4 discusses rigidification and the notion of a world considered as actual, leading to the introduction of two-dimensional functions in Section 5. I discuss, finally, Frank Jackson’s and David Chalmers’ two-dimensionalism in Sections 6 and 7. Section 8 makes a few critical remarks on Jackson’s handling of the semantic argument. I conclude (Section 8) by discussing the important distinction between semantics and metasemantics. (shrink)
Arguments are movements of thought. From a logical point of view, such a movement is justifiable as it tends to preserve or transmit truth. To speak of such tendency is to abstract from particular movements of thought and to ascent to the forms of such movements. Thus logical theory is said to concern rules of validity or cogency that one may use to evaluate forms of arguments, forms as may be instantiated by particular sets of statements which we may use (...) to represent particular movements of thought. (shrink)
This essay applies John Searle’s account of weakness of will to explore the classical Chinese problem of weak-willed action. Searle’s discussion focuses on the shortcomings of the Western classical model of rationality in explaining weakness of will, so he naturally says little about the practical ethical problem of overcoming weak-willed action, the focus of the relevant Chinese texts. Yet his theory of action, specifically his notion of the Background, suggests a compelling approach to the practical issue, one that converges with (...) a plausible account of the classical Chinese conception of agency. On this approach, the practical problem is due to weaknesses of the self in carrying out intentions. The key to overcoming the problem lies not in restructuring the agent’s affective states, as suggested by prominent interpreters of Chinese thought such as David Nivison, but in strengthening the agent’s Background capacities, much as we do when mastering new skills. (shrink)
I understand (MR) as meaning that there is a way the world is that is independent of our minds or representations. One may also state (MR) in terms of ‘A description/language independent world/reality’ or ‘a conceptual scheme independent world/reality’. For our purposes, we need not distinguish these variants of formulation.