Can normative words like "good," "ought," and "reason" be defined in non-normative terms? Stephen Finlay argues that they can, advancing a new theory of the meaning of this language and providing pragmatic explanations of the specially problematic features of its moral and deliberative uses which comprise the puzzles of metaethics.
Consumers are bombarded with labels and claims that are intended to address their concerns about how food products are produced, processed, and regulated. Among those are the natural or all-natural claims and the certified organic label. In this study, two focus groups were conducted to explore consumers’ attitudes toward all-natural and organic pork and to gather their reactions to the USDA organic standards for meat, and the policy for natural claims. Results indicated that participants had positive associations with the terms (...) “organic” and “all-natural” with exceptions regarding the trustworthiness of all-natural claims. Participants perceived the “no” labeling theme (no antibiotics, no hormones, no chemicals, etc.) often coupled with the all-natural label on pork products as identifying potential health and animal welfare risks. In response to the USDA standards and policies for labeling pork products as organic or all-natural, participants expressed confusion and had many unanswered questions. (shrink)
Speakers are confused about identity if they mistake one thing for two or two things for one. I present two plausible models of confusion, the Frege model and the Millikan model. I show how a prominent objection to Fregean models fails and argue that confusion consists in having false implicit beliefs involving the identity relation. Further, I argue that confused identity has characteristic corruptive effects on singular cognition and on the proper function of singular terms in linguistic communication.
Confused terms appear to signify more than one entity. Carnap maintained that any putative name that is associated with more than one object in a relevant universe of discourse fails to be a genuine name. Although many philosophers have agreed with Carnap, they have not always agreed among themselves about the truth-values of atomic sentences containing such terms. Some hold that such atomic sentences are always false, and others claim they are always truth-valueless. Field maintained that confused terms can still (...) refer, albeit partially, and offered a supervaluational account of their semantic properties on which some atomic sentences with confused terms can be true. After outlining many of the most important theoretical considerations for and against various semantic theories for such terms, we report the results of a study designed to investigate which of these accounts best accords with the truth-value judgments of ordinary language users about sentences containing these terms. We found that naïve participants view confused names as capable of successfully referring to one or more objects. Thus, semantic theories that judge them to involve total reference failure do not comport well with patterns of ordinary usage. (shrink)
The central point of this essay is to demonstrate the incommensurability of ‘Darwinian fitness’ with the numeric values associated with reproductive rates used in population genetics. While sometimes both are called ‘fitness’, they are distinct concepts coming from distinct explanatory schemes. Further, we try to outline a possible answer to the following question: from the natural properties of organisms and a knowledge of their environment, can we construct an algorithm for a particular kind of organismic life-history pattern that itself will (...) allow us to predict whether a type in the population will increase or decrease relative to other types? Introduction Darwinian fitness Reproductive fitness and genetical models of evolution The models of reproductive fitness 4.1 The Standard Viability Model 4.2 Frequency-dependent selection 4.3 Fertility models 4.4 Overlapping generations Fitness as outcome 5.1 Fitness as actual increase in type 5.2 Fitness as expected increase in type 5.2.1 Expected increase within a generation 5.2.2 Expected increase between generations 5.2.3 Postponed reproductive fitness effects The book-keeping problem Conclusion. (shrink)
Consciousness is a mongrel concept: there are a number of very different "consciousnesses." Phenomenal consciousness is experience; the phenomenally conscious aspect of a state is what it is like to be in that state. The mark of access-consciousness, by contrast, is availability for use in reasoning and rationally guiding speech and action. These concepts are often partly or totally conflated, with bad results. This target article uses as an example a form of reasoning about a function of "consciousness" based on (...) the phenomenon of blindsight. Some information about stimuli in the blind field is represented in the brains of blindsight patients, as shown by their correct "guesses," but they cannot harness this information in the service of action, and this is said to show that a function of phenomenal consciousness is somehow to enable information represented in the brain to guide action. But stimuli in the blind field are BOTH access-unconscious and phenomenally unconscious. The fallacy is: an obvious function of the machinery of access-consciousness is illicitly transferred to phenomenal consciousness. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “Lived Experience and Cognitive Science Reappraising Enactivism’s Jonasian Turn” by Mario Villalobos & Dave Ward. Upshot: I shall not address directly the article on which I am supposed to comment, and that I find very interesting, but I shall make four commentaries on the general subject of the confusion of domains in our reflection on biological and cultural phenomena.
Concessive knowledge attributions (CKAs) are knowledge attributions of the form ‘S knows p, but it’s possible that q’, where q obviously entails not-p (Rysiew, Nous (Detroit, Mich.) 35:477–514, 2001). The significance of CKAs has been widely discussed recently. It’s agreed by all that CKAs are infelicitous, at least typically. But the agreement ends there. Different writers have invoked them in their defenses of all sorts of philosophical theses; to name just a few: contextualism, invariantism, fallibilism, infallibilism, and that the knowledge (...) rules for assertion and practical reasoning are false. In fact, there is a lot of confusion about CKAs and their significance. I try to clear some of this confusion up, as well as show what their significance is with respect to the debate between fallibilists and infallibilists about knowledge in particular. (shrink)
l i ver Cromwell delivered history's most famous rebuke to the heroworshiping that irons all subtlety into flawless cardboard: Mr. Lely, I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at al l ; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it. Helena Cronin, in The Ant and the Peacock , displays a raw talent clearly equal (...) to that of our finest portraitists, but has placed herself into a position even worse than Mr. Lely's. Cromwell's painter at least faced the subject himself; Cronin has produced an uncritical gloss upon a false and simplistic view that never was more than a caricature of Darwinian theory. (shrink)
Bayesian probabilistic explication of inductive inference conflates neutrality of supporting evidence for some hypothesis H (“not supporting H”) with disfavoring evidence (“supporting not-H”). This expressive inadequacy leads to spurious results that are artifacts of a poor choice of inductive logic. I illustrate how such artifacts have arisen in simple inductive inferences in cosmology. In the inductive disjunctive fallacy, neutral support for many possibilities is spuriously converted into strong support for their disjunction. The Bayesian “doomsday argument” is shown to rely entirely (...) on a similar artifact, for the result disappears in a reanalysis that employs fragments of inductive logic able to represent evidential neutrality. Finally, the mere supposition of a multiverse is not yet enough to warrant the introduction of probabilities without some factual analog of a randomizer over the multiverses. (shrink)
Stephen Finlay’s Confusion of Tongues is a bold and sophisticated book. The overarching goal is metaphysical: to reductively analyze normative facts, properties, and relations in terms of non-normative facts, properties, and relations. But the method is linguistic: to first provide a reductive analysis of the corresponding bits of normative language, with a particular focus on ‘good’, ‘ought’, and ‘reason’. The gap between language and reality is then bridged by taking linguistic analysis as a guide to conceptual analysis, and conceptual (...) analysis as a guide to metaphysical analysis. In this review, I consider three challenges to Finlay’s project that deserve more attention than they receive in the book. The first concerns Finlay’s claim to have provided a *reductive* theory of normative language, the second concerns his claim to have provided a *unified* theory of normative language, and the third concerns his claim to have provided a *correct* theory of normative language. (shrink)
The extent of confusion between symbols and that which is symbolised is examined across five institutional spheres. Religion is the institution most marked by confusion of this type; indeed in some respects the symbolic mes- sage of religion may be the extent of the substantive reality. On the other hand, the very existence of the nation state may be judged to depend upon the exercise of the human imagination; hence providing a source of instability which may lead to (...) the excesses of nationalism. In regard to social status, the main problematical element is a certain circularity: it is necessary to get peo- ple to exhibit differences in behaviour which are then used to justify or con- stitute the status differences themselves. In politics, the symbolism of left and right threatens to strangle creative thinking, while in education the tendency on all sides to orient towards public systems of measurement and grading undermines the claim that what is really important is pupil and student learn- ing. A social cost is being paid for the failure to recognise and, where possible, address the issues identified. (shrink)
Everyone has mistaken one thing for another, such as a stranger for an acquaintance. A person who has mistaken two things, Joseph Camp argues, even on a massive scale, is still capable of logical thought. In order to make that idea precise, one needs a logic of confused thought that is blind to the distinction between the objects that have been confused. Confused thought and language cannot be characterized as true or false even though reasoning conducted in such language can (...) be classified as valid or invalid. To the extent that philosophers have addressed this issue at all, they take it for granted that confusion is a kind of ambiguity. Camp rejects this notion; his fundamental claim is that confusion is not a mental state. To attribute confusion to someone is to take up a paternalistic stance in evaluating his reasoning. Camp proposes a novel characterization of confusion, and then demonstrates its fruitfulness with several applications in the history of philosophy and the history of science. (shrink)
In this article, we discuss the notion of merely confused supposition as it arose in the medieval theory of suppositio personalis. The context of our analysis is our formalization of William of Ockham's theory of supposition sketched in Mind 86 (1977), 109-13. The present paper is, however, self-contained, although we assume a basic acquaintance with supposition theory. The detailed aims of the paper are: to look at the tasks that supposition theory took on itself and to use our formalization to (...) relate them to more modern ideas; to explain the notion of merely confused supposition and to defend it against certain criticisms; and to discuss two issues closely related to the idea of merely confused supposition which we could not broach in a shorter article: the mode of supposition of terms in intensional contexts, and the possible existence of a fourth mode, often called suppositio copulatim. (shrink)
Ruth Millikan has long argued that the phenomenon of confused thought requires us to abandon certain traditional programmes for mental semantics. On the one hand she argues that confused thought involves confused concepts, and on the other that Fregean senses, or modes of presentation, cannot be useful in theorizing about minds capable of confused thinking. I argue that while we might accept that concepts can be confused, we have no reason to abandon modes of presentation. Making sense of confused thought (...) requires recognizing modes of presentation. (shrink)
Twice in the 2020 term, in Bostock and Comcast, the Supreme Court doubled down on the reasoning of “but-for causation” to interpret antidiscrimination statutes. According to this reasoning, an outcome is discriminatory because of some status—say, sex or race—just in case the outcome would not have occurred “but-for” the plaintiff’s status. We think this reasoning embeds profound conceptual errors that render the decisions deeply confused. Furthermore, those conceptual errors tend to limit the reach of antidiscrimination law. In this essay, we (...) first unpack the ambiguity of this but-for causal reasoning. We then show that this reasoning arises from a misapplication of tort law principles within antidiscrimination law, and that, as a result, it is both conceptually and normatively indeterminate. (shrink)
Forthcoming in Philosophy of Science. Despite some recent advances, multiple realization remains a largely misunderstood thesis. Consider the dispute between Lawrence Shapiro and Carl Gillett over the application of Shapiro’s recipe for deciding when we have genuine cases of multiple realization. I argue that Gillett follows many philosophers in mistakenly supposing that multiple realization is absolute and transitive. Both of these are problematic. They are tempting only when we extract the question of multiple realization from the explanatory context in which (...) it is invoked. Anchoring multiple realizability in its theoretical context provides grounds for arbitrating disagreements. Doing so, I argue, favors the view advanced by Shapiro. (shrink)
In his criticism of my paper on the concept of race (Sesardic, 2010), Adam Hochman raises many issues that deserve further clarification. First, I will comment on Hochman’s claim that I attack a straw man version of racial constructionism. Second, I will try to correct what I see as a distorted historical picture of the debate between racial naturalists and racial constructionists. Third, I will point out the main weaknesses in Hochman’s own defense of constructionism about race. And fourth, I (...) will briefly comment on why I think that Hochman unjustifiably dismisses one of the potential sources of racial differentiation that were suggested in my paper. Before I start, though, a preliminary clarification is in order. Hochman kindly calls my article ‘‘one of the strongest defenses of racial naturalism in recent times’’, which might suggest to the reader that my goal was to offer a full-fledged biological explication of the concept of race. But in fact my ambition was more limited. As I explained: My aim in this paper was not to prove the biological reality of race. Rather, more modestly, I have tried to show that typical attempts to disconnect the concept of race from genetics have too quickly and too uncritically been accepted by many ‘‘race critics’’. (Sesardic, 2010, p. 160; italics added) I will continue defending the same position in this article. (shrink)
Written by one of today's most creative and innovative philosophers, Ruth Garrett Millikan, this book examines basic empirical concepts; how they are acquired, how they function, and how they have been misrepresented in the traditional philosophical literature. Millikan places cognitive psychology in an evolutionary context where human cognition is assumed to be an outgrowth of primitive forms of mentality, and assumed to have 'functions' in the biological sense. Of particular interest are her discussions of the nature of abilities as different (...) from dispositions, her detailed analysis of the psychological act of reidentifying substances, and her critique of the language of thought for mental representation. In a radical departure from current philosophical and psychological theories of concepts, this book provides the first in-depth discussion on the psychological act of reidentification. (shrink)
This article pursues the hypothesis that there is a structural affinity between the case study as a genre of writing and the question of gendered subjectivity. With John Forrester’s chapter ‘Inventing Gender Identity: The Case of Agnes’ as my starting point, I ask how the case of ‘Agnes’ continues to inform our understanding of different disciplinary approaches to theorizing gender. I establish a conversation between distinct, psychoanalytically informed feminisms to move from the mid-20th century to contemporary cultural debate.
Recently, Jakob Thraine Mainz and Rasmus Uhrenfeldt defended a control-based conception of a moral right to privacy —focusing on conceptualizing necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for a privacy right violation. This reply comments on a number of mistakes they make, which have long reverberated through the debate on the conceptions of privacy and the right to privacy and therefore deserve to be corrected. Moreover, the reply provides a sketch of a general response for defending the limited access conception of the (...) right to privacy against control-based intuitions. (shrink)
Two fusions can be in the same place at the same time. So long as a house made of Tinkertoys is intact, the fusion of all its Tinkertoys parts coincides with the fusion of it walls and its roof. If none of the Tinkertoys is destroyed, their fusion persists through the complete disassembly of the house. (So the house is not a fusion of its Tinkertoy parts.) The fusion of the walls and roof does not persist through the complete disassembly (...) because the walls and the roof themselves do not persist. (So the walls and the roof are also not fusions of their Tinkertoy parts.). (shrink)
Both Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin borrow from Freudian theory in their analyses of fetishism’s relation to the contemporary reception of cultural products. I will argue that both authors have confused the Marxian and Freudian theories of fetishism, resulting in mistaken conclusions about artistic reception. By disentangling the Marxian and Freudian elements in both authors’ positions, I want to show that 1) Adorno’s characterization of regressive listening implies, contrary to his intentions, that the current reception of artwork is in fact (...) antagonistic to fetishism, and that 2) his criticism of Benjamin’s optimism toward “reception in distraction” is nevertheless justified. If I am correct, it may be necessary to reassess Adorno’s demand for asceticism in advanced art. The current danger may not be “fetishism” at all, but rather the troublesome consequences of fetishism’s decline. (shrink)
Focusing particularly on the role of the clock in social life, this article explores the conventions we use to “tell the time.” I argue that although clock time generally appears to be an all-encompassing tool for social coordination, it is actually failing to coordinate us with some of the most pressing ecological changes currently taking place. Utilizing philosophical approaches to performativity to explore what might be going wrong, I then draw on Derrida’s and Haraway’s understandings of social change in order (...) to suggest a fairly unconventional, but perhaps more accurate, mode of reckoning time in the context of climate change, resource depletion, and mass extinctions. (shrink)
Fitness is a central concept in evolutionary theory. Just as it is central to biological evolution, so, it seems, it should be central to cultural evolutionary theory. But importing the biological fitness concept to CET is no straightforward task—there are many features unique to cultural evolution that make this difficult. This has led some theorists to argue that there are fundamental problems with cultural fitness that render it hopelessly confused. In this essay, we defend the coherency of cultural fitness against (...) those who call it into doubt. (shrink)
Feeling confused can sometimes lead us to give up on the task, frustrated. What is less emphasized is that confusion may also promote happy (epistemic) endings to our inquiries. It has recently been argued that confusion motivates effortful investigative behaviors which can help us acquire hard-to-get epistemic goods (DiLeo et al., 2019; D’Mello & Graesser, 2012). While the motivational power of confusion and its benefits for learning has been uncovered in recent years, the exact nature of the (...) phenomenon remains obscure. In this paper we attempt to shed light on the nature and epistemic value of an experience we are all familiar with: the experience of being confused at an object, a statement, etc. We first review the psychological literature on confusion, where it is most often considered to be an epistemic emotion. We then propose a refined account of confusion, by drawing on the literature on metacognitive or noetic feelings, both in psychology and in the philosophy of mind. In particular, we claim that confusion centrally involves the experience of the limits of one’s cognitive capacities, because it results from a monitoring of our cognitive activities as we encounter a cognitive obstacle while processing a given content. Finally we show how our account may explain findings about the role of the experience of confusion in motivating deeper inquiry into complex problems and bringing about epistemic success in these cases. (shrink)
It is said that when Socrates is made to ask questions like "What is the pious and what the impious?", "What is courage?", or "What is the beautiful?", he is asking for the definition of a universal. For the "average" Greek of his time, however, this is a radically new question about a radically new sort of object, and Socrates’ interlocutors do not understand it. They usually answer it as if it were a different, if related, question: they tend to (...) provide concrete instances of the universal in question rather than a definition, however inadequate, of the universal itself. Socrates always tries, but does not always succeed, to make himself clear: Meno, for example, is supposed never to get the point. (shrink)
Orr and Dentith argue that a recurrent problem in much of the wider academic literature on conspiracy theories is either conceptual confusion or a refusal to put theory before practice. Orr and Dentith show that a naive empiricism pervades much of the social science literature when it comes to these things called ‘conspiracy theories’ which not only runs at odds with the philosophical literature but also the general tenor of the social sciences over the latter part of the 20th (...) Century and beyond. Orr and Dentith argue that central to these confusions or refusals is not just a lack of philosophical rigour when it comes to defining and presenting views, but an active disinterest in such conceptual work. (shrink)
Commentators often claim that medical research subjects are coerced into participating in clinical studies. In recent years, such claims have appeared especially frequently in ethical discussions of research in developing countries. Medical research ethics is more important than ever as we move into the 21st century because worldwide the pharmaceutical industry has grown so much and shows no sign of slowing its growth. This means that more people are involved in medical research today than ever before, and in the future (...) even more will be involved. However, despite the pressing need for reflection on research ethics, it is important to carefully identify the concerns we have about research. Otherwise we run the risk that the moral language we use, and which we hear other people use, may do our moral thinking for us. We argue that many recent claims about the occurrence of coercion in medical research are misguided and misuse the word "coercion." We try to identify the real problems, and urge people to attend carefully to the implications of their descriptions of moral problems in research. (shrink)
Kant’s views on animals have received much attention in recent years. According to some, Kant attributed the capacity for objective perceptual awareness to non-human animals, even though he denied that they have concepts. This position is difficult to square with a conceptualist reading of Kant, according to which objective perceptual awareness requires concepts. Others take Kant’s views on animals to imply that the mental life of animals is a blooming, buzzing confusion. In this article I provide a historical reconstruction (...) of Kant’s views on animals, relating them to eighteenth-century debates on animal cognition. I reconstruct the views of Buffon and Reimarus and show that (i) both Buffon and Reimarus adopted a conceptualist position, according to which concepts structure the cognitive experience of adult humans, and (ii) that both described the mental life of animals as a blooming, buzzing confusion. Kant’s position, I argue, is virtually identical to that of Reimarus. Hence Kant’s views on animals support a conceptualist reading of Kant. The article further articulates the historical antecedents of the Kantian idea that concepts structure human cognitive experience and provides a novel account of how the ideas of similarity and difference were conceptualized in eighteenth-century debates on animal cognition. (shrink)
In this paper I defend, against Eric Scerri’s objections, the following theses: that Lavoisier and Mendeleev shared a ‘core conception’ of chemical element, and that this core conception underwrites referential continuity in the names of particular elements.Keywords: Antoine Lavoisier; Dmitri Mendeleev; Chemical elements; Substance; Natural kinds; Reference.
Priest argued in Fusion and Confusion (Priest in Topoi 34(1):55–61, 2015a) for a new concept of logical consequence over the relevant logic B, one where premises my be “confused” together. This paper develops Priest’s idea. Whereas Priest uses a substructural proof calculus, this paper provides a Hilbert proof calculus for it. Using this it is shown that Priest’s consequence relation is weaker than the standard Hilbert consequence relation for B, but strictly stronger than Anderson and Belnap’s original relevant notion (...) of consequence. Unlike the latter, however, Priest’s consequence relation does not satisfy a variant of the variable sharing property. This paper shows that how it can be modified so as to do so. Priest’s consequence relation turns out to be surprisingly weak in some respects. The prospects of strengthening it is raised and discussed in a broader philosophical context. (shrink)
In Phylogenetic Systematics (1966), Willi Hennig conflates the Linnaean hierarchy with what Hennig refers to as the divisional hierarchy. In doing so, he lays the foundations of that school of biological taxonomy known as cladism on a philosophically ambiguous basis. This paper compares and contrasts the two hierarchies and demonstrates that Hennig conflates them. It shows that Hennig's followers also conflate them. Finally, it illuminates five persistent problems in cladism by suggesting that they arise from Hennig's original confusion.
Leibniz’s mechanistic reduction of colors and other sensible qualities commits him to two theses about our knowledge of those qualities: first, that we can acquire ideas of sensible qualities apart from any direct acquaintance with the qualities themselves; second, that we can acquire distinct (i.e., non-confused) ideas of such qualities through the development of physical-theoretical accounts. According to some commentators, however, Leibniz frequently denies both claims. His views on the subject are muddled and incoherent, they say, both because he is (...) ambivalent about the nature of sensible qualities, and because he gets confused about confusion, losing sight of his own distinction between the confusion proper to perceptions and that proper to ideas. In opposition to this, I argue that the critics have misunderstood Leibniz’s views, which are both consistent over time and coherent. The key to understanding his position is to appreciate what he characterizes as a kind of redundancy in our ideas of sensible qualities, a crucial feature of his view overlooked by the critics. (shrink)
Veblen's concept of conspicuous consumption, although widely known and commonly invoked, has rarely been examined critically; the associated "theory" has never been tested. It is suggested that the reason for this lies in the difficulty of determining the criterion that defines the phenomenon, a difficulty that derives from Veblen's failure to integrate two contrasting conceptual formulations. These are, first, an interpretive or subjective version that conceives of conspicuous consumption as action marked by the presence of certain intentions, purposes, or motives, (...) and second, a functionalist formulation in which conspicuous consumption is viewed as a form of behavior characterized by particular end results or outcomes. Consideration of each of these strands reveals major difficulties that prevent the construction of an operational definition of conspicuous consumption and hence the extraction of a workable theory from Veblen's discussion. (shrink)
The hunt for a biologically respectable definition for the folk concept of innateness is still on. I defend Ariew’s Canalization account of innateness against the criticisms of Griffiths and Machery, but highlight the remaining flaws in this proposal. I develop a new analysis based on the notion of environmental induction. A trait is innate, I argue, iff it is not environmentally induced. I augment this definition with a novel analysis of environmental induction that draws on the contrastive nature of causal (...) explanation. Whether a trait is environmentally induced, I argue, depends on a context sensitive contrast class. I argue that a “Noninduction” analysis of innateness allows the concept an explanatory role in biology. I show how my proposal co-opts the successes of the Canalization account whilst avoiding its pitfalls, and I account for why biologists associate a range of disparate properties with innateness. (shrink)