Recent third person approaches to thought experiments and conceptual analysis through the method of surveys are motivated by and motivate skepticism about the traditional first person method. I argue that such surveys give no good ground for skepticism, that they have some utility, but that they do not represent a fundamentally new way of doing philosophy, that they are liable to considerable methodological difficulties, and that they cannot be substituted for the first person method, since the a priori knowledge which (...) is our object in conceptual analysis can be acquired only from the first person standpoint. (shrink)
This paper argues for a deflationary account of trying on which ‘x tried to ϕ’ abbreviates ‘x did something with the intention of ϕ-ing’, where ‘did something’ is treated as a schematic verb. On this account, tryings are not a distinctive sort of episode present in some or all cases of acting. ‘x tried to ϕ’ simply relates some doing of x’s to a further aim x had, which may or may not have been achieved. Consequently, the analysis of ‘x (...) tried to ϕ’ adds nothing to our basic understanding of the nature of action or agency. The account handles examples of naked trying, trying without acting – for example, trying but failing to move when paralyzed – by construing ‘did something’ as a schematic verb for a broader class of purposive events than actions, subsuming inter alia the formation of intentions-in-action. It gives a technical sense to ‘doing with the intention of ϕ-ing’ so that it includes any doing that can be construed as for the purpose of executing the intention of ϕ-ing. This subsumes as a limiting case the formation of an intention-in-action to ϕ, which is for the purpose of executing that very intention. (shrink)
By definition zombies would be physically and behaviourally just like us, but not conscious. This currently very influential idea is a threat to all forms of physicalism, and has led some philosophers to give up physicalism and become dualists. It has also beguiled many physicalists, who feel forced to defend increasingly convoluted explanations of why the conceivability of zombies is compatible with their impossibility. Robert Kirk argues that the zombie idea depends on an incoherent view of the nature of (...) phenomenal consciousness.His book has two main aims. One is to demolish the zombie idea once and for all. There are plenty of objections to it in the literature, but they lack intuitive appeal. He offers a striking new argument which reveals fundamental confusions in the implied conception of consciousness. His other main contribution is to develop a fresh and original approach to the true nature of phenomenal consciousness. Kirk argues that a necessary condition is a 'basic package' of capacities. An important component of his argument is that the necessary cognitive capacities are not as sophisticated as is often assumed. By focusing on humbler creatures than ourselves he avoids some of the distracting complications of our sophisticated forms of cognition.The basic package does not seem to be sufficient for phenomenal consciousness. What is also needed is 'direct activity' - a special feature of the way the events which constitute incoming perceptual information affect the system. This is an integrated process, to be conceived of holistically, and contrasts sharply with what is often called the 'availability' or 'poisedness' of perceptual information.This original, penetrating, and highly readable book will be of interest to all who have a serious concern with the nature of consciousness: not only professional philosophers and students, but also many psychologists and neuroscientists. (shrink)
The main thesis of this paper is that, whereas an intention simpliciter is a commitment to a plan of action, a conditional intention is a commitment to a contingency plan, a commitment about what to do upon (learning of) a certain contingency relevant to one’s interests obtaining. In unconditional intending, our commitment to acting is not contingent on finding out that some condition obtains. In conditional intending, we intend to undertake an action on some condition, impinging on our interests, which (...) is as yet unsettled for us, but about which we can find out without undue cost. (shrink)
Among the entities that can be mentally or linguistically represented are mental and linguistic representations themselves. That is, we can think and talk about speech and thought. This phenomenon is known as metarepresentation. An example is "Authors believe that people read books." -/- In this book François Recanati discusses the structure of metarepresentation from a variety of perspectives. According to him, metarepresentations have a dual structure: their content includes the content of the object-representation (people reading books) as well as the (...) "meta" part (the authors' belief). Rejecting the view that the object representation is mentioned rather than used, Recanati claims that since metarepresentations carry the content of the object representation, they must be about whatever the object representation is about. Metarepresentations are fundamentally transparent because they work by simulating the representation they are about. -/- Topics covered in this wide-ranging work include the analysis of belief reports and talk about fiction, world shifting, opacity and substitutivity, quotation, the relation between direct and indirect discourse, context shifting, semantic pretense, and deference in language and thought. (shrink)
This paper offers an analysis of the logical form of plural action sentences that shows that collective actions so ascribed are a matter of all members of a group contributing to bringing some event about. It then uses this as the basis for a reductive account of the content of we-intentions according to which what distinguishes we-intentions from I-intentions is that we-intentions are directed about bringing it about that members of a group act in accordance with a shared plan.
This paper gives an account of proxy agency in the context of collective action. It takes the case of a group announcing something by way of a spokesperson as an illustration. In proxy agency, it seems that one person or subgroup's doing something counts as or constitutes or is recognized as (tantamount to) another person or group's doing something. Proxy agency is pervasive in institutional action. It has been taken to be a straightforward counterexample to an appealing deflationary view of (...) collective action as a matter of all members of a group making a contribution to bringing about some event. I show that this is a mistake. I give a deflationary account of constitutive rules in terms of essentially collective action types. I then give an account of one form of constitutive agency in terms of constitutive rules. I next give an account of status functions—of which being a spokesperson is one—that also draws on the concept of a constitutive rule. I then show how these materials help us to see how proxy agency is an expression of the agency of all members of the group credited with doing something when the proxy acts. (shrink)
How should we conceive of physicalism? Does it have to involve more than some kind of supervenience, or must it be reductionist or even eliminativist? Does it commit you to the psychophysical identity theory? Does it entail that all events are explicable in terms of physics? And what is to count as the physical—indeed, what is to count as physics? Jeffrey Poland offers well-argued answers to several of these questions, and a solidly constructed framework in terms of which we may (...) reasonably aim to answer the rest. His book is impressively systematic. He acknowledges debts to Post and to Hellman and Thompson, among others, but his conception of what physicalism should be is distinctive. I find it compelling. Anyone with an interest in physicalism, for or against, should read the book. (shrink)
Ernest Lepore and Kirk Ludwig present the definitive critical exposition of the philosophical system of Donald Davidson. Davidson 's ideas had a deep and broad influence in the central areas of philosophy; he presented them in brilliant essays over four decades, but never set out explicitly the overarching scheme in which they all have their place. Lepore's and Ludwig's book will therefore be the key work, besides Davidson 's own, for understanding one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth (...) century. (shrink)
Kirk Ludwig develops a novel reductive account of plural discourse about collective action and shared intention. Part I develops the event analysis of action sentences, provides an account of the content of individual intentions, and on that basis an analysis of individual intentional action. Part II shows how to extend the account to collective action, intentional and unintentional, and shared intention, expressed in sentences with plural subjects. On the account developed, collective action is a matter of there being multiple (...) agents of an event and it requires no group agents per se. Shared intention is a matter of agents in a group each intending that they bring about some end in accordance with a shared plan. Thus their participatory intentions differ from individual intentions not in their mode but in their content. Joint intentional action then is a matter of a group of individuals successfully executing a shared intention. (shrink)
Philosophers have recently wondered whether the value impact of the existence of God on the world would be positive, negative, or neutral. Thus far discussions have distinguished between the value God's impact would have overall, in certain respects, and/or for particular individuals. A commonality amongst the various positions that have been taken up is to focus on the goods and drawbacks associated with both theism and atheism. Goods associated with atheism include things like privacy, independence, and autonomy. I argue that (...) it is better overall and for everyone to prefer a hidden God to no God. This is because it is possible to experience many of the goods attributed to atheism if God is hidden even if they do not really obtain, while also gaining many of the additional goods connected to theism. This amounts to a new solution to the problem of divine hiddenness: God might hide in order to increase or maximize the axiological value of the world. (shrink)
The work of Donald Davidson (1917-2003) transformed the study of meaning. Ernie Lepore and Kirk Ludwig, two of the world's leading authorities on Davidson's work, present the definitive study of his widely admired and influential program of truth-theoretic semantics for natural languages, giving an exposition and critical examination of its foundations and applications.
Assertoric sentences are sentences which admit of truth or falsity. Non-assertoric sentences, imperatives and interrogatives, have long been a source of difficulty for the view that a theory of truth for a natural language can serve as the core of a theory of meaning. The trouble for truth-theoretic semantics posed by non-assertoric sentences is that, prima facie, it does not make sense to say that imperatives, such as 'Cut your hair', or interrogatives such as 'What time is it?', are truth (...) or false. Thus, the vehicle for giving the meaning of a sentence by using an interpretive truth theory, the T-sentence, is apparently unavailable for non-assertoric sentences. This paper shows how to incorporate non-assertoric sentences into a theory of meaning that gives central place to an interpretive truth theory for the language, without, however, reducing the non-assertorics to assertorics, or treating their utterances as semantically equivalent to one or more utterances of assertoric sentences. Four proposals for how to incorporate non-assertoric sentences into a broadly truth-theoretic semantics are reviewed. The proposals fall into two classes, those that attempt to explain the meaning of non-assertoric sentences solely by appeal to truth conditions, and those that attempt to explain the meaning of non-assertroic sentences by appeal to compliance conditions, which can be treated as one variety of fulfillment conditions for sentences of which truth conditions are another variety. The paper argues that none of the extant approaches is successful, but develops a version of the generalized fulfillment approach which avoids the difficulties of previous approaches and still exhibits a truth theory as the central component of a compositional meaning theory for all sentences of natural language. (shrink)
If zombies were conceivable in the sense relevant to the ‘conceivability argument’ against physicalism, a certain epiphenomenalistic conception of consciousness—the ‘e-qualia story’—would also be conceivable. But the e-qualia story is not conceivable because it involves a contradiction. The non-physical ‘e-qualia’ supposedly involved could not perform cognitive processing, which would therefore have to be performed by physical processes; and these could not put anyone into ‘epistemic contact’ with e-qualia, contrary to the e-qualia story. Interactionism does not enable zombists to escape these (...) conclusions. (shrink)
In this paper, we outline an approach to giving extensional truth-theoretic semantics for what have traditionally been seen as opaque sentential contexts. We outline an approach to providing a compositional truth-theoretic semantics for opaque contexts which does not require quantifying over intensional entities of any kind, and meets standard objections to such accounts. The account we present aims to meet the following desiderata on a semantic theory T for opaque contexts: (D1) T can be formulated in a first-order extensional language; (...) (D2) T does not require quantification over intensional entitiesi.e., meanings, propositions, properties, relations, or the likein its treatment of opaque contexts; (D3) T captures the entailment relations that hold in virtue of form between sentences in the language for which it is a theory; (D4) T has a finite number of axioms. If the approach outlined here is correct, it resolves a longstanding complex of problems in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language. (shrink)
This work provides a text and an extended study of those fragments of Heraclitus' philosophical utterances whose subject is the world as a whole rather than man and his part in it. Professor Kirk discusses fully the fragments which he finds genuine and treats in passing others that were generally accepted as genuine but here considered paraphrased or spurious. In securing his text, Professor Kirk has taken into account all the ancient testimonies, and in his critical work he (...) attached particular importance to the context in which each fragment is set. To each he gives a selective apparatus, a literal translation and and an extended commentary in which problems of textual and philosophical criticism are discussed. Ancient accounts of Heraclitus were inadequate and misleading, and as Kirk wrote, understanding was often hindered by excessive dogmatism and a selective use of the fragments. Professor Kirk's method is critical and objective, and his 1954 work marks a significant advance in the study of Presocratic thought. (shrink)
An important objection to sententialist theories of attitude reports is that they cannot accommodate the principle that one cannot know that someone believes that p without knowing what it is that he believes. This paper argues that a parallel problem arises for propositionalist accounts that has gone largely unnoticed, and that, furthermore, the usual resources for the propositionalist do not afford an adequate solution. While non-standard solutions are available for the propositionalist, it turns out that there are parallel solutions that (...) are available for the sententialist. Since the difficulties raised seem to show that the mechanism by which sentential complements serve to inform us about attitudes and about sentence meaning does not depend on their referring to propositions, this casts doubt on whether talk of propositions should retain a significant theoretical role in the enterprise of understanding thought, language and communication. (shrink)
The topic of the sublime is making a return to contemporary discourse on aesthetics and cognition. In Sublime Understanding, Kirk Pillow makes sublimity the center of an alternative conception of aesthetic response and interpretation. He draws an aesthetics of sublimity from Kant's Critique of Judgment, bolsters it with help from Hegel, and establishes its place in a broadened conception of human understanding. He argues that sublime reflection provides a model for an interpretive response to the uncanny Other outside our (...) conceptual grasp; it advances our sense-making pursuits but eschews unified, conceptual determination. Thus "sublime understanding" is the always partial, indeterminate grasping of contextual wholes through which we make sense of the uncanny particular in both art and the lived world.The book is divided into three parts. In the first two parts, Pillow presents insightful reinterpretations of Kant's and Hegel's aesthetics. In the third part he develops his own model of an aestheticized understanding, which illuminates contemporary discussions of metaphor and interpretation, while bridging Anglo-American and continental treatments of these issues. The presentation is a model of clear and well-crafted exposition, exemplifying the practice of aesthetically reflective sublime understanding that it articulates. (shrink)
(1) Content properties are nonrelational, that is, having a content property does not entail the existence of any contingent object not identical with the thinker or a part of the thinker.2 (2) We have noninferential knowledge of our conscious thoughts, that is, for any of our..
Kirk’s aim in this book is to bridge what he calls “the intelligibility gap,” expressed in the question, “How could complex patterns of neural firing amount to this?”. He defends a position that he describes as “broadly functionalist,” which consists of several theses. I will briefly review them.
Kirk Ludwig presents a philosophical account of institutional action, such as action by corporations and nation states. He argues that it can be fully understood in terms of the agency of individuals, and concepts derived from our understanding of individual action. He thus argues for a strong form of methodological individualism.
Can rational communication proceed when interlocutors are uncertain which contents utterances contribute to discourse? An influential negative answer to this question is embodied in the Stalnakerian principle of uniformity, which requires speakers to produce only utterances that express the same content in every possibility treated as live for the purposes of the conversation. The principle of uniformity enjoys considerable intuitive plausibility and, moreover, seems to follow from platitudes about assertion; nevertheless, it has recently proven controversial. In what follows, I defend (...) the principle by developing two arguments for it based on premises reflecting the central aims and assumptions of possibility-carving frameworks for modeling inquiry—that is, frameworks which describe the evolution of individuals’ attitudinal states in terms of set-theoretic operations defined over a domain of objects representing possibilities. (shrink)
This article begins by distinguishing force and mood. Then it lays out desiderata on a successful account. It sketches as background the program of truth-theoretic semantics. Next, it surveys assimilation approaches and argues that they are inadequate. Then it shows how the fulfillment-conditional approach can be applied to imperatives, interrogatives, molecular sentences containing them, and quantification into mood markers. Next, it considers briefly the recent set of propositions approach to the semantics of interrogatives and exclamatives. Finally, it shows how to (...) integrate exclamatives and optatives into a framework similar to the fulfillment approach. (shrink)
In the epistemology of disagreement literature an underdeveloped argument defending the claim that an agent need not conciliate when she becomes aware of epistemic peer disagreement is based on the idea that there are epistemic benefits to be gained from disagreement. Such benefits are unobtainable if an agent conciliates in the face of peer disagreement. I argue that there are good reasons to embrace this line of argument at least in inquiry-related contexts. In argumentation theory a deep disagreement occurs when (...) there is a disagreement between fundamental frameworks. According to Robert J. Fogelin disagreements between fundamental frameworks are not susceptible to rational resolution. Instead of evaluating this claim I argue that deep disagreements can lead to epistemic benefits, at least when inquiry is in view. Whether rational resolution is possible in cases of deep disagreements, their existence turns out to be epistemically beneficial. I conclude by examining whether this line of argument can be taken beyond research-related contexts.Dans la littérature sur l'épistémologie du désaccord, un argument sous-développé pour une approche non conciliatoire se fonde sur l'idée qu'il y a des bénéfices épistémiques à tirer du désaccord. De tels bénéfices sont impossibles à obtenir si un agent se concilie face au désaccord avec ses pairs, du moins dans les contextes liés à la recherche. Dans la théorie de l'argumentation, un désaccord profond se produit lorsqu'il y a un désaccord entre des propositions cadres. Je soutiens que des désaccords profonds peuvent mener à des avantages épistémiques, du moins dans le contexte de la recherche. Que la résolution rationnelle soit ou non possible en cas de désaccord profond, leur existence s'avère être bénéfique sur le plan épistémologique. (shrink)
In The Mind Doesn’t Work that Way, Jerry Fodor argues that mental representations have context sensitive features relevant to cognition, and that, therefore, the Classical Computational Theory of Mind (CTM) is mistaken. We call this the Globality Argument. This is an in principle argument against CTM. We argue that it is self-defeating. We consider an alternative argument constructed from materials in the discussion, which avoids the pitfalls of the official argument. We argue that it is also unsound and that, while (...) it is an empirical issue whether context sensitive features of mental representations are relevant to cognition, it is empirically implausible. (shrink)
History is composed of a web of innumerable interacting causal chains, many of which are composed of millions of discrete events. The complexity of history puts us in a position of having knowledge of only a minuscule portion of the consequences of any event, actual or proposed. Our almost complete lack of knowledge of the data necessary to know if an event is gratuitous makes it very likely that we would be mistaken about a very large number of events. The (...) complexity of history, therefore, poses a significant challenge to certain types of evidential arguments from evil that begin with our observations of evils that appear to be gratuitous. (shrink)
This book presents an original discussion and analysis of epistemic peer disagreement. It reviews a wide range of cases from the literature, and extends the definition of epistemic peerhood with respect to the current one, to account for the actual variability found in real-world examples. The book offers a number of arguments supporting the variability in the nature and in the range of disagreements, and outlines the main benefits of disagreement among peers i.e. what the author calls the benefits to (...) inquiry argument. (shrink)
This book explores the value impact that theist and other worldviews have on our world and its inhabitants. Providing an extended defense of anti-theism - the view that God’s existence would (or does) actually make the world worse in certain respects - Lougheed explores God’s impact on a broad range of concepts including privacy, understanding, dignity, and sacrifice. The second half of the book is dedicated to the expansion of the current debate beyond monotheism and naturalism, providing an analysis of (...) the axiological status of other worldviews such as pantheism, ultimism, and Buddhism. -/- A lucid exploration of contemporary and relevant questions about the value impact of God’s existence, this book is an invaluable resource for scholars interested in axiological questions in the philosophy of religion. (shrink)
A sorites argument is a symptom of the vagueness of the predicate with which it is constructed. A vague predicate admits of at least one dimension of variation (and typically more than one) in its intended range along which we are at a loss when to say the predicate ceases to apply, though we start out confident that it does. It is this feature of them that the sorites arguments exploit. Exactly how is part of the subject of this paper. (...) The majority of philosophers writing on vagueness take it to be a kind of semantic phenomenon. If we are right, they are correct in this assumption, which is surely the default position, but they have not so far provided a satisfactory account of the implications of this or a satisfactory diagnosis of the sorites arguments. Other philosophers have urged more exotic responses, which range from the view that the fault lies not in our language, but in the world, which they propose to be populated with vague objects which our semantics precisely reflects, to the view that the world and language are both perfectly in order, but that the fault lies with our knowledge of the properties of the words we use (epistemicism). In contrast to the exotica to which some philosophers have found themselves driven in an attempt to respond to the sorites puzzles, we undertake a defense of the commonsense view that vague terms are semantically vague. Our strategy is to take fresh look at the phenomenon of vagueness. Rather than attempting to adjudicate between different extant theories, we begin with certain pre-theoretic intuitions about vague terms, and a default position on classical logic. The aim is to see whether (i) a natural story can be told which will explain the vagueness phenomenon and the puzzling nature of soritical arguments, and, in the course of this, to see whether (ii) there arises any compelling pressure to give up the natural stance. We conclude that there is a simple and natural story to be told, and we tell it, and that there is no good reason to abandon our intuitively compelling starting point. The importance of the strategy lies in its dialectical structure. Not all positions on vagueness are on a par. Some are so incredible that even their defenders think of them as positions of last resort, positions to which we must be driven by the power of philosophical argument. We aim to show that there is no pressure to adopt these incredible positions, obviating the need to respond to them directly. If we are right, semantic vagueness is neither surprising, nor threatening. It provides no reason to suppose that the logic of natural languages is not classical or to give up any independently plausible principle of bivalence. Properly understood, it provides us with a satisfying diagnosis of the sorites argumentation. It would be rash to claim to have any completely novel view about a topic so well worked as vagueness. But we believe that the subject, though ancient, still retains its power to inform and challenge us. In particular, we will argue that taking seriously the central phenomenon of predicate vagueness—the “boundarylessness” of vague predicates—on the commonsense assumption that vagueness is semantic, leads ineluctably to the view that no sentences containing vague expressions (henceforth ‘vague sentences’) are truth-evaluable. This runs counter to much of the literature on vagueness, which commonly assumes that, though some applications of vague predicates to objects fail to be truth-evaluable, in clear positive and negative cases vague sentences are unproblematically true or false. It is clarity on this, and related points, that removes the puzzles associated with vagueness, and helps us to a satisfying diagnosis of why the sorites arguments both seem compelling and yet so obviously a bit of trickery. We give a proof that semantically vague predicates neither apply nor fail-to-apply to anything, and that consequently it is a mistake to diagnose sorites arguments, as is commonly done, by attempting to locate in them a false premise. Sorites arguments are not sound, but not unsound either. We offer an explanation of their appeal, and defend our position against a variety of worries that might arise about it. The plan of the paper is as follows. We first introduce an important distinction in terms of which we characterize what has gone wrong with vague predicates. We characterize what we believe to be our natural starting point in thinking about the phenomenon of vagueness, from which only a powerful argument should move us, and then trace out the consequences of accepting this starting point. We consider the charge that among the consequences of semantic vagueness are that we must give up classical logic and the principle of bivalence, which has figured prominently in arguments for epistemicism. We argue there are no such consequences of our view: neither the view that the logic of natural languages is classical, nor any plausible principle of bivalence, need be given up. Next, we offer a diagnosis of what has gone wrong in sorites arguments on the basis of our account. We then present an argument to show that our account must be accepted on pain of embracing (in one way or another) the epistemic view of “vagueness”, i.e., of denying that there are any semantically vague terms at all. Next, we discuss some worries that may arise about the intelligibility of our linguistic practices if our account is correct. We argue none of these worries should force us from our intuitive starting point. Finally, we cast a quick glance at other forms of semantic incompleteness. (shrink)
R kirk ("analysis", volume 33, 1973, pages 195-201) proposes an argument against quine's deduction of indeterminacy of translation from underdetermination of physical theory. the present paper is a reply to kirk, aimed primarily at showing that his argument is "ignoratio elenchi".
Ludwig deals with the relations between language, thought, and rationality, and, especially, the role and status of assumptions about rationality in interpreting another’s speech and assigning contents to her psychological attitudes—her beliefs, desires, intentions, and so on. The chapter is organized around three questions: What is the relation between rationality and thought? What is the relation between rationality and language? What is the relation between thought and language? Ludwig argues that some large degree of rationality is required for thought and (...) consequently that same degree of rationality at least is required for language since language requires thought. Thought, however, does not require language. In answering questions and, Ludwig gives particular attention to Davidson’s arguments for the Principle of Charity, according to which it is constitutive of speakers that they are largely rational and largely right about the world, and to Davidson’s arguments for the thesis that without the power of speech we lack the power of thought. (shrink)
I have argued that a strong kind of physicalism based on the strict implication thesis can consistently reject both eliminativism and reductionism (in any nontrivial sense). This piece defends that position against objections from Andrew Melnyk, who claims that either my formulation doesn't entail physicalism, or it must be interpreted in such a way that the mental is after all reducible to the physical. His alternatives depend on two interesting assumptions. I argue that both are mistaken, thereby, making this kind (...) of nonreductive physicalism clearer and more clearly defensible. (shrink)
This article argues that the movement of dogs from pounds to medical laboratories played a critically important role in debates over the use of animals in science and medicine in the United States in the twentieth century, not least by drawing the scientific community into every greater engagement with bureaucratic political governance. If we are to understand the unique characteristics of the American federal legislation that emerges in the 1960s, we need to understand the long and protracted debate over the (...) use of pound animals at the local municipal and state level between antivivisectionists, humane activists, and scientific and medical researchers. We argue that the Laboratory Animal Care Act of 1966 reflects the slow evolution of a strategy that proved most successful in local conflicts, and which would characterize a “new humanitarianism”: not the regulation of experimental practices but of the care and transportation of the animals being provided to the laboratory. Our analysis is consistent with, and draws upon, scholarship which has established the productive power of public agencies and civil society on the periphery of the American state. (shrink)