In some sentences, demonstratives can be substituted with definite descriptions without any change in meaning. In light of this, many have maintained that demonstratives are just a type of definite description. However, several theorists have drawn attention to a range of cases where definite descriptions are acceptable, but their demonstrative counterparts are not. Some have tried to account for this data by appealing to presupposition. I argue that such presuppositional approaches are problematic, and present a pragmatic account of the target (...) contrasts. On this approach, demonstratives take two arguments and generally require that the first, covert argument is non-redundant with respect to the second, overt argument. I derive this condition through an economy principle discussed by Schlenker (2005). (shrink)
In this paper, we propose a novel account of desire reports, i.e. sentences of the form 'S wants p'. Our theory is partly motivated by Phillips-Brown's (2021) observation that subjects can desire things even if those things aren't best by the subject's lights. That is, being best isn't necessary for being desired. We compare our proposal to existing theories, and show that it provides a neat account of the central phenomenon.
This paper defends a theory of fictional truth. According to this theory, there is a fact of the matter concerning the number of hairs on Sherlock Holmes' head, and likewise for any other meaningful question one could ask about what's true in a work of fiction. We argue that a theory of this form is needed to account for the patterns in our judgments about attitude reports that embed fictional claims. We contrast our view with one of the dominant approaches (...) to fictional truth, which originates with David Lewis. Along the way we explore the relationship between fiction, counterfactuals, and vagueness. (shrink)
The Ideal Worlds Account of Desire says that S wants p just in case all of S’s most highly preferred doxastic possibilities make p true. The account predicts that a desire report ⌜S wants p⌝ should be true so long as there is some doxastic p-possibility that is most preferred. But we present a novel argument showing that this prediction is incorrect. More positively, we take our examples to support alternative analyses of desire, and close by briefly considering what our (...) cases suggest about the logic of desire. (shrink)
This paper is about conjunctions and disjunctions in the scope of non-doxastic atti- tude verbs. These constructions generate a certain type of ignorance implicature. I argue that the best way to account for these implicatures is by appealing to a notion of contex- tual redundancy (Schlenker, 2008; Fox, 2008; Mayr and Romoli, 2016). This pragmatic approach to ignorance implicatures is contrasted with a semantic account of disjunctions under `wonder' that appeals to exhausti cation (Roelofsen and Uegaki, 2016). I argue that (...) exhausti cation-based theories cannot handle embedded conjunctions, so a pragmatic account of ignorance implicatures is superior. (shrink)
The analysis of desire ascriptions has been a central topic of research for philosophers of language and mind. This work has mostly focused on providing a theory of want reports, that is, sentences of the form ‘S wants p’. In this paper, we turn from want reports to a closely related but relatively understudied construction, namely hope reports, that is, sentences of the form ‘S hopes p’. We present two contrasts involving hope reports and show that existing approaches to desire (...) fail to explain these contrasts. We then develop a novel account that combines some of the central insights in the literature. We argue that our theory provides an elegant account of our contrasts and yields a promising analysis of hoping. (shrink)
In this paper, we present two puzzles involving desire reports concerning series of events. What does a person want to happen in the first event – is it the event with the highest expected return, or the event that is the initial part of the best series? We show that existing approaches fail to resolve the puzzles around this question and develop a novel account of our own. Our semantics is built around three ideas. First, we propose that desire ascriptions (...) are evaluated relative to a contextually supplied set of propositions, or alternatives. The semantic value of an ascription ‘S wants p’ is determined by S's preference ordering over these alternatives. Second, we propose that desire reports carry a requirement to the effect that the prejacent of the ascription must be suitably related to the background set of alternatives. Finally, we suggest that desire reports carry a dominance condition concerning the subject's ranking of the alternatives. Overall, we argue that our theory provides us with an elegant resolution of our puzzles, and yields a promising approach to desire. (shrink)
In this paper, I outline a novel approach to the semantics of natural language pronouns. On this account, which I call 'demonstrativism', pronouns are semantically equivalent to demonstratives. I begin by presenting some contrasts that provide support for demonstrativism. Then I try to explain these contrasts by developing a particular demonstrativist proposal. I build on the "hidden argument" theory of demonstratives. On this theory, demonstratives are semantically similar to definite descriptions, with one important difference: demonstratives take two arguments, rather than (...) one. Using these ideas, I propose that pronouns also take two (covert) arguments, and that the second argument needs to be sufficiently salient to members of the conversation in order for the use of a pronoun to be felicitous. As for the first argument, I maintain that its content is constrained by the process of noun-phrase deletion. Taken together, I argue that these constraints provide us with a satisfying account of the uses to which pronouns are put. (shrink)
This paper presents a puzzle involving embedded attitude reports. We resolve the puzzle by arguing that attitude verbs take restricted readings: in some environments the denotation of attitude verbs can be restricted by a given proposition. For example, when these verbs are embedded in the consequent of a conditional, they can be restricted by the proposition expressed by the conditional’s antecedent. We formulate and motivate two conditions on the availability of verb restrictions: a constraint that ties the content of restrictions (...) to the “dynamic effects” of sentential connectives and a constraint that limits the availability of restriction effects to present tense verbs with first-person subjects. However, we also present some cases that make trouble for these conditions, and outline some possible ways of modifying the view to account for the recalcitrant data. We conclude with a brief discussion of some of the connections between our semantics for attitude verbs and issues concerning epistemic modals and theories of knowledge. (shrink)
In this paper, I raise a problem for standard precisifications of the Relational Analysis of attitude reports. The problem I raise involves counterfactual attitude verbs. such as ‘wish’. In short, the trouble is this: there are true attitude reports ‘ S wishes that P ’ but there is no suitable referent for the term ‘that P ’. The problematic reports illustrate that the content of a subject’s wish is intimately related to the content of their beliefs. I capture this fact (...) by moving to a framework in which ‘wish’ relates subjects to sets of pairs of worlds, or paired propositions, rather than—as is standardly assumed—sets of worlds. Although other types of counterfactual attitude reports, for example those involving ‘imagine’, may be similarly problematic, at this stage it is unclear whether they can be handled the same way. (shrink)
In this paper, I draw attention to comparative preference claims, i.e. sentences of the form \S prefers p to q\. I show that preference claims exhibit interesting patterns, and try to develop a semantics that captures them. Then I use my account of preference to provide an analysis of desire. The resulting entry for desire ascriptions is independently motivated, and finds support from a wide range of phenomena.
This paper is about two requirements on wish reports whose interaction motivates a novel semantics for these ascriptions. The first requirement concerns the ambiguities that arise when determiner phrases, such as definite descriptions, interact with ‘wish’. More specifically, several theorists have recently argued that attitude ascriptions featuring counterfactual attitude verbs license interpretations on which the determiner phrase is interpreted relative to the subject’s beliefs. The second requirement involves the fact that desire reports in general require decision-theoretic notions for their analysis. (...) The current study is motivated by the fact that no existing account captures both of these aspects of wishing. I develop a semantics for wish reports that makes available belief-relative readings but also allows decision-theoretic notions to play a role in shaping the truth conditions of these ascriptions. The general idea is that we can analyze wishing in terms of a two-dimensional notion of expected utility. (shrink)
Schlenker (Semant Pragmat 2(3):1–78, 2009; Philos Stud 151(1):115–142, 2010a; Mind 119(474):377–391, 2010b) provides an algorithm for deriving the presupposition projection properties of an expression from that expression’s classical semantics. In this paper, we consider the predictions of Schlenker’s algorithm as applied to attitude verbs. More specifically, we compare Schlenker’s theory with a prominent view which maintains that attitudes exhibit belief projection, so that presupposition triggers in their scope imply that the attitude holder believes the presupposition (Karttunen in Theor Linguist 34(1):181, (...) 1974; Heim in J Semant 9(3):183–221, 1992; Sudo in The art and craft of semantics: a festschrift for Irene Heim, MIT Press, 2014). We show that Schlenker’s theory does not predict belief projection, and discuss several consequences of this result. (shrink)
Inheritance is the principle that deontic `ought' is closed under entailment. This paper is about a tension that arises in connection with Inheritance. More specifically, it is about two observations that pull in opposite directions. One of them raises questions about the validity of Inheritance, while the other appears to provide strong support for it. We argue that existing approaches to deontic modals fail to provide us with an adequate resolution of this tension. In response, we develop a positive analysis, (...) and show that this proposal provides a satisfying account of our intuitions. (shrink)
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 (...) she reports Pete as believing is entailed by Pete’s beliefs if they are revised in light of Jane and Jim’s background knowledge. We provide a semantic theory of revisionist reports based on this idea. We observe that the admissible “revisions” are limited in a striking way. Jane cannot say ‘Pete thinks Ann is a 6-year-old and can play tennis in ten lessons’ in the same context that she can say ‘Pete believes Ann can learn to play tennis ten lessons’, even though this too follows from Jane and Jim’s background knowledge together with what Pete believes. Our theory predicts the infelicity of these latter reports. It also has the resources to predict the truth of “exported” attitude reports and casts the relationship between these reports and “singular thought” in a new light. We conclude by discussing how revisionist reports make trouble for a simplistic view of the connection between the relations expressed by attitude verbs in natural language and the relations of most interest to philosophers of mind and cognitive science. (shrink)
Although much has been written about the truth-conditions of de re attitude reports, little attention has been paid to certain ‘ultra-liberal’ uses of those reports. We believe that if these uses are legitimate, then a number of interesting consequences for various theses in philosophical semantics follow. The majority of the paper involves describing these consequences. In short, we argue that, if true, ultra-liberal reports: bring counterexamples to a popular approach to de re attitude ascriptions, which we will call ‘descriptivism’; and (...) combine with independently plausible principles about the logic of belief to imply that subjects can achieve omniscience about what exists from the armchair. Although we are not committed to the view that ultra-liberal reports are false, in the final part of the paper we discuss the prospects of pursuing a line according to which the acceptability of such reports ought not be taken at face value. We conclude by arguing that those who are sympathetic with this move might have reason to doubt the truth of an even broader class of acceptable de re attitude reports, namely those that have been taken to undermine orthodox accounts of de re attitude ascriptions. (shrink)
One of the central topics in semantic theory over the last few decades concerns the nature of local contexts. Recently, theorists have tried to develop general, non-stipulative accounts of local contexts (Schlenker, 2009; Ingason, 2016; Mandelkern & Romoli, 2017a). In this paper, we contribute to this literature by drawing attention to the local contexts of subclausal expressions. More specifically, we focus on the local contexts of quantificational determiners, e.g. `all', `both', etc. Our central tool for probing the local contexts of (...) subclausal elements is the principle Maximize Presupposition! (Percus, 2006; Singh, 2011). The empirical basis of our investigation concerns some data discussed by Anvari (2018b), e.g. the fact that sentences such as `All of the two presidential candidates are crooked' are unacceptable. In order to explain this, we suggest that the local context of determiners needs to contain the information carried by their restrictor. However, no existing non-stipulative account predicts this. Consequently, we think that the local contexts of subclausal expressions will likely have to be stipulated. This result has important consequences for debates in semantics and pragmatics, e.g. those around the so-called "explanatory problem" for dynamic semantics (Soames, 1982; Heim, 1990; Schlenker, 2009). (shrink)
¡Presente! develops a lived theology of nonviolence through an extended case study of the movement to close the School of the Americas (also known as the SOA or WHINSEC). Specifically,it analyzes how the presence of the dead—a presence proclaimed at the annual vigil of the School of the Americas Watch—shapes a distinctive, transnational, nonviolent movement. Kyle B.T. Lambelet argues that such a messianic affirmation need not devolve into violence or sectarianism and, in fact, generates practical reasoning. By developing a (...) messianic political theology in dialogue with the SOA Watch movement, Lambelet's work contributes to Christian ethics as he explores the political implications of the resurrection of the dead. This book contributes to studies of strategic nonviolence and civil resistance by demonstrating how religious and moral dynamics remain an essential part of such struggles. (shrink)
Abstract In a 1967 article that is considered a classic of criminal justice scholarship, Abraham Blumberg portrayed defense attorneys for accused offenders as more responsive to the demands of the court entourage for smooth and expeditious functioning than to the needs of their clients for a stalwart representation. The article suggests that Blumberg's view, while provocative and with a considerable element of accuracy, may have reflected a somewhat jaundiced and overstated perspective when he was on the verge of (...) leaving law practice for academia. The article also speculates about the current accuracy of Blumberg's observations. (shrink)
A single mother is a person who is accountable for raising their children alone because they do not have a husband or live-in partner. Single mothers claim to have no co-parenting relationships at all, comparing single parents to those who are married, cohabiting, or without children, single parents experience the worst work-life balance. A single parent may feel overwhelmed by the demands of juggling child care, a career, paying bills, and maintaining household responsibilities. Single-parent households frequently deal with several extra (...) obligations and possible complications that other families would not. The study also emphasizes the difficulties and coping mechanisms faced by contractual single parents as well as their lived experiences. The study's findings, which were based on an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, were as follows: (1) Work-life balance can be difficult for single parents. They struggle to keep their jobs while taking care of their family because they are the only ones in charge of the children. (2) Single contractual mothers face particular difficulties due to a lack of resources for basic expenses. (3) Contractual single women lean on their kids, the good people in their lives, and their faith in God to get through problems. (shrink)
This paper is the introduction to a collection I guest-edited called 'Positive Duties to Wild Animals'. The collection contains single-authored contributions from Catia Faria, Josh Milburn, Eze Paez, and Jeff Sebo; and co-authored contributions from Mara-Daria Cojocaru and Alasdair Cochrane, and Oscar Horta and Dayrón Terán. It's forthcoming as a special issue of Ethics, Policy and Environment.
A growing number of epistemologists have endorsed the Ignorance Norm for Inquiry. Roughly, this norm says that one should not inquire into a question unless one is ignorant of its answer. I argue that, in addition to ignorance, proper inquiry requires a certain kind of knowledge. Roughly, one should not inquire into a question unless one knows it has a true answer. I call this the Knowledge Norm for Inquiry. Proper inquiry walks a fine line, holding knowledge that there is (...) an answer in the left hand and ignorance of the answer in the right. (shrink)
Ethics isn’t a conversation exclusive to philosophers. There is value, then, in not only understanding how laypeople think about issues in ethics, but also bringing their judgments into dialogue with those of philosophers in order to make sense of agreement, disagreement, and the consequences of each. Experimental philosophers facilitate this dialogue uniquely by capturing laypeople’s judgments and analyzing them in light of philosophical theory. They have done so almost exclusively by using face valid quantitative surveys about philosophically interesting thought experiments. (...) Based on high participant support for this or that response, researchers conclude that a given theory is more or less intuitive, and in some cases that it is or isn’t true. However, such conclusions can only be drawn from quantitative survey data if one assumes those data accurately reflect laypeople’s thinking on the issues of interest, an assumption that can’t be justified by the quantitative data itself since they are potentially opaque. This is the methodological problem of experimental philosophy: experimental philosophers who use quantitative methods alone can’t sufficiently demonstrate their data to be reflective of relevant judgments/intuitions. To better explore people’s judgments on issues in ethics and to determine whether experimental philosophers are or aren’t getting what they take themselves to be getting in surveys, I recreated part of an experiment by Chituc, Henne, Sinnott-Armstrong, and De Brigard on the Kantian principle that “ought implies can”, or that whenever an agent ought to do something then it is the case that she can, and added a layer of qualitative data to it by having participants think aloud while completing the surveys and conduct a follow-up interview. With similar quantitative results to those from Chituc et al., I argue that my qualitative results 1) cast doubt on Chituc et al.’s data being reflective of many people’s judgments, especially on the more interesting questions relating to moral obligation; 2) reveal unique insights into how people think about OIC; 3) generally speak to the value of experimental philosophers using triangulation of methods in better understanding laypeople’s complex and varied thinking about questions important to ethics and beyond. Supplemental documents: Appendices A, B, C, D, and E are surveys I used in my study. Appendices C and D are derived from Chituc et al.’s publication “Blame, Not Ability, Impacts Moral ‘Ought’ Judgments for Impossible Actions: Toward an Empirical Refutation of ‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can.’” Appendix F is the recruitment flyer I distributed for my study. Appendix H is the quantitative data from my study. (shrink)
Though many ethicists have the intuition that we should leave nature alone, Kyle Johannsen argues that we have a duty to research safe ways of providing large-scale assistance to wild animals. Using concepts from moral and political philosophy to analyze the issue of wild animal suffering (WAS), Johannsen explores how a collective, institutional obligation to assist wild animals should be understood. He claims that with enough research, genetic editing may one day give us the power to safely intervene without (...) perpetually interfering with wild animals’ liberties.---------------Questions addressed include: In what way is nature valuable and is interference compatible with that value? Is interference a requirement of justice? What are the implications of WAS for animal rights advocacy? What types of intervention are promising?---------------Expertly moving the debate about human relations with wild animals beyond its traditional confines, Wild Animal Ethics is essential reading for students and scholars of political philosophy and political theory studying animal ethics, environmental ethics, and environmental philosophy. (shrink)
In this chapter, Kyle Ferguson argues for an individualist account of Sellarsian we-intentions. According to the individualist account, we-intentions’ intersubjective form renders them shareable rather than requiring that they be shared. Contrary to collectivist accounts, one may we-intend independently of whether and without presupposing that one's community shares one's we-intentions. After providing textual support, Ferguson proposes and implements a strategy of reportorial ascent, which strengthens the case for the individualist account. Reportorial ascent involves reflecting on the sentences one would (...) use to report or self-ascribe we-intentions. As Ferguson argues, we-intention-reporting sentences have ‘I’ as their subjects, which reveals that their truth conditions, like the performance conditions of their expressive counterparts, are satisfied by the individual who reports or expresses those intentions rather than by the host community. We-intention-reporting sentences, which make explicit both dimensions of independence and shareability, also reveal that intersubjective form is a feature of we-intentions qua mental states rather than a feature of their contents. Ferguson concludes that although the individualist account needs further development, the sketch provided in this chapter is compelling enough to demand that individualism and independence be moved from the periphery to the core of our study of we-intentions in Sellars's practical philosophy. (shrink)
Explore the Resistance to Death, and Awaken More Fully to Life Death is simply one more aspect of being a human being, but in our culture, we've made it a taboo. As a result, most of us walk through life with conscious or unconscious fears that prevent us from experiencing true contentment. Embracing the End of Life invites you to lean into your beliefs and questions about death and dying, helping you release tense or fearful energy and awaken to a (...) more vital life now. Preparing mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for this inevitable transition provides improved clarity and strength. This book shares the idea of death as a journey of three steps—resistance, letting go, and transcendence. With dozens of exercises, practices, and meditations, author Patt Lind-Kyle helps you experience your truest, most expansive self. Exploring multiple aspects of life and death—with everything from chakras and the Enneagram to living wills and health care directives—this book is meant to help you unwind the challenge of death and discover the truth of your own path to inner freedom. Praise: "The fear of dying keeps countless people from living fully—as well as keeping countless others trapped in endless suffering. Embracing the End of Life will help all of us prepare joyously for the inevitable."—Christiane Northrup, MD, New York Times bestselling author of Goddesses Never Age Winner of a 2018 Gold IPPY Award. (shrink)
This paper defends a new norm of assertion: Assert that p only if you are in a position to know that p. We test the norm by judging its performance in explaining three phenomena that appear jointly inexplicable at first: Moorean paradoxes, lottery propositions, and selfless assertions. The norm succeeds by tethering unassertability to unknowability while untethering belief from assertion. The PtK‐norm foregrounds the public nature of assertion as a practice that can be other‐regarding, allowing asserters to act in the (...) best interests of their audience when psychological pressures would otherwise prevent them from communicating the knowable truth. (shrink)
Harry Chalmers argues that monogamy involves restricting one’s partner’s access to goods in a morally troubling way that is analogous to an agreement between partners to have no additional friends. Chalmers finds the traditional defenses of monogamy wanting, since they would also justify a friendship-restricting agreement. I show why three traditional defenses of monogamy hold up quite well and why they don’t, for the most part, also justify friendship-restricting agreements. In many cases, monogamy can be justified on grounds of practicality, (...) specialness, or jealousy. (shrink)
Digital and social media have transformed how much and how fast we communicate, but they have also altered the palette of expressive strategies: the cultural forms that shape how citizens, activists, and artists speak and interact. In A Theory of Assembly, Kyle Parry argues that one of the most powerful and pervasive cultural forms in the digital era is assembly.
For the first time, this book brings Kierkegaard into a dialogue with various postmodern forms of Christianity, on topics like revelation and the Bible, the atonement and moralism, and the church as an apologetic of witness.
Knowledge is good, ignorance is bad. So it seems, anyway. But in this dissertation, I argue that some ignorance is epistemically valuable. Sometimes, we should suspend judgment even though by believing we would achieve knowledge. In this apology for ignorance (ignorance, that is, of a certain kind), I defend the following four theses: 1) Sometimes, we should continue inquiry in ignorance, even though we are in a position to know the answer, in order to achieve more than mere knowledge (e.g. (...) understanding) while minimizing the effects of confirmation bias. 2) It’s false that we should believe every proposition such that we are guaranteed to be right about it (and even such that we are guaranteed to know it) if we believe it. 3) Being in a position to know is the norm of assertion: importantly, this does not require belief or (thereby) knowledge, and so proper assertion can survive speaker-ignorance. 4) It can be permissible and conversationally useful to tell audiences things that it is logically impossible for them to come to know: Proper assertion can survive (necessary) audience-side ignorance. Cumulatively, this project suggests that, properly understood, ignorance has an important role to play in the good epistemic life. (shrink)
This paper presents an account of akrasia, drawn from the work of William James, that sees akrasia as neither a rational failing (as with most philosophical accounts) nor a moral failing (as with early Christian accounts), but rather a necessary by-product of our status as biological beings. By examining James’s related accounts of motivation and action, I argue that akratic actions occur when an agent attempts to act against her settled habits, but fails to do so. This makes akrasia a (...) product of the agent’s practical failure to adequately structured her environment to bring about her desired action. Akratic action performs the vital function of revealing to the agent the exact point at which her cognitive effort was insufficient for bringing about her intended action. It also reveals that future improvement is within her control. As such, akratic action is the very foundation of James’s meliorism. (shrink)
A long line of epistemologists including Sosa (2021), Feldman (2002), and Chisholm (1977) have argued that, at least for a certain class of questions that we take up, we should (or should aim to) close inquiry iff by closing inquiry we would meet a unique epistemic standard. I argue that no epistemic norm of this general form is true: there is not a single epistemic standard that demarcates the boundary between inquiries we are forbidden and obligated to close. In short, (...) such norms are false because they are insensitive to the potentially ambitious epistemic goals that agents may permissibly bring to bear on an inquiry. Focusing particularly on knowledge-oriented versions of the norm, I argue that ignorance has a positive role to play in epistemic life by licensing prolonged inquiry into questions that we especially care about. (shrink)
Unlike first-person Moorean sentences, it’s not always awkward to assert, “p, but you don’t know that p.” This can seem puzzling: after all, one can never get one’s audience to know the asserted content by speaking thus. Nevertheless, such assertions can be conversationally useful, for instance, by helping speaker and addressee agree on where to disagree. I will argue that such assertions also make trouble for the growing family of views about the norm of assertion that what licenses proper assertion (...) is not the initiating epistemic position of the speaker but the resulting epistemic position of the audience. (shrink)
Indigenous peoples often embrace different versions of the concept of food sovereignty. Yet some of these concepts are seemingly based on impossible ideals of food self-sufficiency. I will suggest in this essay that for at least some North American Indigenous peoples, food sovereignty movements are not based on such ideals, even though they invoke concepts of cultural revitalization and political sovereignty. Instead, food sovereignty is a strategy of Indigenous resurgence that negotiates structures of settler colonialism that erase the ecological value (...) of certain foods for Indigenous peoples. (shrink)
Zipf famously stated that, if natural language lexicons are structured for efficient communication, the words that are used the most frequently should require the least effort. This observation explains the famous finding that the most frequent words in a language tend to be short. A related prediction is that, even within words of the same length, the most frequent word forms should be the ones that are easiest to produce and understand. Using orthographics as a proxy for phonetics, we test (...) this hypothesis using corpora of 96 languages from Wikipedia. We find that, across a variety of languages and language families and controlling for length, the most frequent forms in a language tend to be more orthographically well‐formed and have more orthographic neighbors than less frequent forms. We interpret this result as evidence that lexicons are structured by language usage pressures to facilitate efficient communication. (shrink)