Based on original translations of passages from the works of three major thinkers of the classical Indian school of Advaita, but addressing issues found in Descartes, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Wittgenstein and contemporary analytic philosophers, this book argues for a philosophical position it calls 'non-realism'. This is the view that an independent, external world must be assumed if the features of cognition are to be explained, but that it cannot be proved that there is such a world, independently of an appeal (...) to cognition itself. This position is constructed against idealist denials of externality, realist arguments for an independent world and the sceptical denial of the coherence of cognition. (shrink)
Recent work on analyticity distinguishes two kinds, metaphysical and epistemic. This paper argues that the distinction allows for a new view in the philosophy of logic according to which the claims of logic are metaphysically analytic and have distinctive modal profiles, even though their epistemology is holist and in many ways rather Quinean. It is argued that such a view combines some of the more attractive aspects of the Carnapian and Quinean approaches to logic, whilst avoiding some famous problems.
Phenomenal consciousness comprises both qualitative character and subjectivity. The former provides the proprietary contents of conscious experiences – determining what they are like – and the latter is that feature that renders those contents “for the subject”, so there is something it is like at all. I have developed a theory of consciousness as “acquaintance” which I dub the “Cartesian Theater” model, on which there is a fundamental psycho-physical law that takes the output of cognitive and perceptual systems as input (...) and yields overall conscious experience as output. This model entails epiphenomenalism regarding phenomenal properties, which, I argue, presents a specific problem regarding our epistemic position with respect to this very theory. I develop a line of thought that seeks to disarm this challenge, relying to a large extent on a certain way of understanding both subjectivity itself and also cognitive phenomenology. (shrink)
Most philosophers of mathematics try to show either that the sort of knowledge mathematicians have is similar to the sort of knowledge specialists in the empirical sciences have or that the kind of knowledge mathematicians have, although apparently about objects such as numbers, sets, and so on, isn't really about those sorts of things as well. Jody Azzouni argues that mathematical knowledge really is a special kind of knowledge with its own special means of gathering evidence. He analyses the linguistic (...) pitfalls and misperceptions philosophers in this field are often prone to, and explores the misapplications of epistemic principles from the empirical sciences to the exact sciences. What emerges is a picture of mathematics both sensitive to mathematical practice, and to the ontological and epistemological issues that concern philosophers. (shrink)
It is widely supposed that evolutionary debunking arguments against morality constitute a type of epistemological objection to our moral beliefs. In particular, the debunking force of such arguments is not supposed to depend on the metaphysical claim that moral facts do not exist. In this paper I argue that this standard epistemological construal of EDAs is highly misleading, if not mistaken. Specifically, I argue that the most widely discussed EDAs all make key and controversial metaphysical claims about the nature of (...) morality or the possibility of moral truth that belie their apparently epistemological character. I show that the debunking force of these EDAs derives largely from metaphysical claims about morality and their implications for the possibility of moral reduction, rather than from epistemological worries associated with the existence of an causal/non-moral explanation of our moral judgments. The paper briefly concludes with a dilemma that I believe confronts all EDAs such as those discussed in this paper: either such arguments are unsound, or else they prove too much, debunking our knowledge of science and the external world, as well as morality. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to show that (elementary) topology may be useful for dealing with problems of epistemology and metaphysics. More precisely, I want to show that the introduction of topological structures may elucidate the role of the spatial structures (in a broad sense) that underly logic and cognition. In some detail I’ll deal with “Cassirer’s problem” that may be characterized as an early forrunner of Goodman’s “grue-bleen” problem. On a larger scale, topology turns out to (...) be useful in elaborating the approach of conceptual spaces that in the last twenty years or so has found quite a few applications in cognitive science, psychology, and linguistics. In particular, topology may help distinguish “natural” from “not-so-natural” concepts. This classical problem that up to now has withstood all efforts to solve (or dissolve) it by purely logical methods. Finally, in order to show that a topological perspective may also offer a fresh look on classical metaphysical problems, it is shown that Leibniz’s famous principle of the identity of indiscernibles is closely related to some well-known topological separation axioms. More precisely, the topological perspective gives rise in a natural way to some novel variations of Leibniz’s principle. (shrink)
Many who take a dismissive attitude towards metaphysics trace their view back to Carnap’s ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’. But the reason Carnap takes a dismissive attitude to metaphysics is a matter of controversy. I will argue that no reason is given in ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’, and this is because his reason for rejecting metaphysical debates was given in ‘Pseudo-Problems in Philosophy’. The argument there assumes verificationism, but I will argue that his argument survives the rejection of verificationism. (...) The root of his argument is the claim that metaphysical statements cannot be justified; the point is epistemic, not semantic. I will argue that this remains a powerful challenge to metaphysics that has yet to be adequately answered. (shrink)
The paper outlines a view of normativity that combines elements of relativism and expressivism, and applies it to normative concepts in epistemology. The result is a kind of epistemological anti-realism, which denies that epistemic norms can be (in any straightforward sense) correct or incorrect; it does allow some to be better than others, but takes this to be goal-relative and is skeptical of the existence of best norms. It discusses the circularity that arises from the fact that we need (...) to use epistemic norms to gather the facts with which to evaluate epistemic norms; relatedly, it discusses how epistemic norms can rationally evolve. It concludes with some discussion of the impact of this view on "ground level" epistemology. (shrink)
Scholarly debates on the Critique of Pure Reason have largely been shaped by epistemological questions. Challenging this prevailing trend, Kant's Reform of Metaphysics is the first book-length study to interpret Kant's Critique in view of his efforts to turn Christian Wolff's highly influential metaphysics into a science. Karin de Boer situates Kant's pivotal work in the context of eighteenth-century German philosophy, traces the development of Kant's conception of critique, and offers fresh and in-depth analyses of key parts of (...) the Critique of Pure Reason, including the Transcendental Deduction, the Schematism Chapter, the Appendix to the Transcendental Analytic, and the Architectonic. The book not only brings out the coherence of Kant's project, but also reconstructs the outline of the 'system of pure reason' for which the Critique was to pave the way, but that never saw the light. (shrink)
This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps, and other notations in the work. This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may (...) freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity has a copyright on the body of the work. As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant. (shrink)
An overview of the epistemology of perception, covering the nature of justification, immediate justification, the relationship between the metaphysics of perceptual experience and its rational role, the rational role of attention, and cognitive penetrability. The published version will contain a smaller bibliography, due to space constraints in the volume.
Epistemology and metaphysics as described by Socrates is the crux of this article. Socrates here is all set to assess the wisdom of the candidates. He goes about arguing as to who is wiser and the various aspects of wisdom. He also elaborates on wisdom as a virtue. The article further harps on the idea of what counts as knowledge and also highlights the differences between Socratic Ignorance and Complete Ignorance.
Schuon starts out from the conviction that Knowledge exists and that is an adequation to the Real, which is inseparable from a sense of the sacred -- the ultimate reason for human existence. With a mathematical clarity and musical profundity, these essays address not only the metaphysical foundations of belief but the miracle of human theophany.
Problems in Epistemology and Metaphysics takes a pro and con approach to two central philosophical topics. Each chapter begins with a question: Can We Have Knowledge? How are Beliefs Justified? What is the mind? Contemporary philosophers with opposing viewpoints are then paired together to argue their position and raise problems with conflicting standpoints. Alongside an up-to-date introduction to a core philosophical stance, each contributor provides a critical response to their opponent and clear explanation of their view. Discussion questions (...) are included at the end of each chapter to guide further discussion. With chapters covering core questions surrounding religious beliefs, scientific knowledge, truth, being and reality, this is a comprehensive introduction to debates lying at the heart of what we know, how we know it and the nature of the world we live in. (shrink)
This work argues that Anselm was a Christian neoplatonist of the Augustinian variety, and that thus he was the inheritor of a powerful and systematic metaphysics and epistemology. The view that the world is an image of the divine mind and its ideas, a fragmented and temporal copy of of the perfect, eternal unity which is God, led Anselm to a strong exemplarism on the doctrine of the universals, and ultimately to a theistic idealism. This discussion concludes with (...) a neoplatonic interpretation and defence of his work, the Proslogion, proof for the existence of God. (shrink)
The epistemology of essence is a topic that has received relatively little attention, although there are signs that this is changing. The lack of literature engaging directly with the topic is probably partly due to the mystery surrounding the notion of essence itself, and partly due to the sheer difficulty of developing a plausible epistemology. The need for such an account is clear especially for those, like E.J. Lowe, who are committed to a broadly Aristotelian conception of essence, (...) whereby essence plays an important theoretical role. In this chapter, our epistemic access to essence is examined in terms of the a posteriori vs. a priori distinction. The two main accounts to be contrasted are those of David S. Oderberg and E.J. Lowe. (shrink)
The goal of this paper is to encourage a reconfiguration of the discussion about typology in biology away from the metaphysics of essentialism and toward the epistemology of classifying natural phenomena for the purposes of empirical inquiry. First, I briefly review arguments concerning ‘typological thinking’, essentialism, species, and natural kinds, highlighting their predominantly metaphysical nature. Second, I use a distinction between the aims, strategies, and tactics of science to suggest how a shift from metaphysics to epistemology (...) might be accomplished. Typological thinking can be understood as a scientific tactic that involves representing natural phenomena using idealizations and approximations, which facilitates explanation, investigation, and theorizing via abstraction and generalization. Third, a variety of typologies from different areas of biology are introduced to emphasize the diversity of this representational reasoning. One particular example is used to examine how there can be epistemological conflict between typology and evolutionary analysis. This demonstrates that alternative strategies of typological thinking arise due to the divergent explanatory goals of researchers working in different disciplines with disparate methodologies. I conclude with several research questions that emerge from an epistemological reconfiguration of typology. (shrink)
Reductionism about testimony holds that testimonial warrant or entitlement is just a species of inductive warrant. Anti-Reductionism holds that it is different from inductive but analogous to perceptual or memorial warrant. Perception receives much of its positive epistemic status from being reliably truthconducive in normal conditions. One reason to reject the epistemic analogy is that testimony involves agency – it goes through the will of the speaker – but perception does not. A speaker might always choose to lie or otherwise (...) deliberately mislead. It is argued that the force of this derives (in part) from Libertarianism about agency, and that Libertarianism, if it undermines the Anti-Reductionist explanation of why we are entitled to rely upon testimony, undermines the Reductionist explanation as.. (shrink)
Erik J. Wielenberg draws on recent work in analytic philosophy and empirical moral psychology to defend non-theistic robust normative realism, according to which there are objective ethical features of the universe that do not depend on God for their existence. He goes on to develop an empirically-grounded account of human moral knowledge.
Since the epistemological turn initiated by Descartes at the start of the modern period and subsequently cemented by Kant's Copernican revolution in epistemology, attention has focused more on the issue of criteria of truth than the essence of truth. This is especially true in respect of discussions in philosophy of truth in contemporary philosophy. While Bradley recognizes the importance of the issue of criteria as far as the problem of truth is concerned, he is nonetheless more concerned with the (...) question of the nature of truth in his engagement with the problem of truth. Bradley sees a fundamental continuity between both concerns, to the extent that in the final analysis truth cannot be divorced from reality, so that truth is not merely a property of propositions as many contemporary theories of truth maintain, but rather a feature of reality. Bradley's approach is peculiar, no doubt, but I argue that it helps to correct certain imbalances associated with contemporary philosophies of truth. (shrink)
This article deals with mechanisms conceived as composed of entities and activities. In response to many perplexities about the nature of activities, a number of arguments are developed concerning their epistemic and ontological status. Some questions concerning the relations between cause and causal explanation and mechanisms are also addressed.
This paper examines various philosophical arguments to do with time travel. It argues that time travel has not been shown to be logically impossible. It then considers whether time travel would give rise to improbable strings of coincidences, or closed causal loops. Finally, it considers whether we could ever be justified in believing someone who claimed to be a time traveller, or whether we would always be more justified in believing that the claimant was either deluded or trying to deceive (...) us. For this last issue the Terry Gilliam film ‘Twelve Monkeys’ is used as an example. (shrink)
From the perspective of world philosophy, one phenomenon of the 20th century is quite intriguing. Certain philosophers in China as well as in the West, finding the traditional conception of epistemology too narrow-minded, argued that its scope should be expanded. The Chinese way of expanding epistemology might be called the metaphysical approach, and the Western way the practical approach. In this article, I will first give an outline of both approaches and then try to demonstrate that a substantial (...) dialogue can be created between them. By focusing on the problem of the articulation of what we know, I will make the metaphysical approach and the practical approach engage each other and thus prove to be mutually complementary. (shrink)
This dissertation develops and defends a detailed realist, internalist account of qualia which is consistent with physicalism and which does not resurrect the epistemological 'myth of the Given.' In doing so it stakes out a position in the sparsely populated middle ground between the two major opposing factions on the problem of phenomenal consciousness: between those who think we have a priori reasons to believe that qualia are irreducible to the physical , and those who implicitly or explicitly treat qualia (...) as contentful but non-phenomenal physical properties . ;I present a minimal, non-question-begging definition of "qualia" and then use this definition in a reformulation of the argument from perceiver relativity which shows that qualia must, at least in humans, be properties of states of the central nervous system. That is, brain states do not simply indicate the colours of external objects---they instantiate phenomenal colours. Since brain states are not coloured in the same way as are external objects, I argue that to token phenomenal property F must be to be the first-person phenomenal sensation of F. I build on this position to argue that the phenomenal apprehension of qualia, is "given"---immediate, certain and private---but that qualia nevertheless do not provide an absolutely certain epistemological foundation since they do not constitute a set of indisputable propositions about facts. I then define what it would be for physicalism to be true of qualia, but argue that the main a priori arguments for and against qualia physicalism---including the logical possibility of zombies and the impossibility of epiphenomenalism---fail. Whether qualia are consistent with physicalism, I claim, is still an open question, answerable only when we discover in more detail how qualia depend upon the brain. ;Although strongly in sympathy with many commonsensical intuitions about qualia, this account stands in contrast to most influential extant theories of qualia, such as eliminativism , externalism , or property-dualism : I conclude the dissertation by using its results to argue explicitly against these three positions. (shrink)
David Hume's _Treatise on Human Nature_ and _Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding_ are amongst the most widely-studies texts on philosophy. _Hume's Epistemology and Metaphysics: An Introduction_ presents in a clear, concise and accessible manner the key themes of these texts. Georges Dicker clarifies Hume's views on meaning, knowledge, causality, and sense perception step by step and provides us with a sharp picture of how philosophical thinking has been influenced by Hume. Accessible to anyone coming to Hume for the first (...) time, _Hume's Epistemology and Metaphysics_ is an indispensible guide to Hume's philosophical thinking. (shrink)
This essay examines the manner in which Hume challenges the cognitivist and realist intuitions informing our ordinary experience of value by identifying values with mind-dependent feelings and by separating facts from values. However, through a process of interpretive rehearsal of Hume’s arguments in the first two parts of the paper we find that they come under increasing internal strain, which points, contrary to his initial argument about the irreducibly phenomenal aspects of value experience, to the motivational role of reason and (...) to the identification of values, not with mind-dependent feelings, but with dispositional properties of objects. The third and final part of the paper will offer a systematic reconstruction of his arguments with a view to suggesting one possible – descriptivist – alternative to Hume’s initial challenges, which can serve to satisfy the emerging cognitivist and realist needs of his arguments. (shrink)
Helen Steward accepts what I call the Separation Thesis, the main tenet of which is that the movements one’s body makes when one acts are the causal results of one’s actions. I claim that this threatens to generate a pair of epistemic shortfalls: first, our perception of others’ bodily movements may not reach to their actions themselves; and, second, our own ‘knowledge in intention’ may not reach to the actual bodily movements in which the efficacy of our actions consists. I (...) suggest we should adopt a slogan that Anscombe considered, and say ‘I do what happens’ when I am acting. Then the movements one’s body makes when one acts are seen simply to be one’s actions. (shrink)
In this paper I outline my conception of the epistemology of science, by reference to my published papers, showing how the ideas presented there fit together. In particular I discuss the aim of science, scientific progress, the nature of scientific evidence, the failings of empiricism, inference to the best (or only) explanation, and Kuhnian psychology of discovery. Throughout, I emphasize the significance of the concept of scientific knowledge.
The paper addresses the issues about grammatical intuitions in a programmatic sketch. The first part deals with epistemology of such intuitions and defends a moderate Voice-of-competence view in discussion with Michael Devitt, the ordinarist, who sees them as products of general intelligence or Central Processing Unit. The second part deals with the problem for their validity and offers a compromise solution: linguistic intuitions are valid because their object the standard linguistic entities, are production- and response-dependent. Competence does dictate what (...) is correct, and what is not, the order of determination goes from the internal to the external, or external-seeming language items. An external token string has linguistic properties because it would be interpreted as having them by the normal language-hearer and would be produced by a process that would form it respecting the nature of these properties. The solution is briefly situated on the map of general response-dependentism. (shrink)
ABSTRACTLadyman and Ross’s account of the metaphysical component of ontic structural realism was associated with a unificationist view of the connection between fundamental physics and special sciences. The aim of the present article is to assess the sense of unification that is at issue in Ladyman and Ross’s definition of metaphysics. Given the ontic core of Ladyman and Ross’s version of structural realism, it should be assumed that the unifying endeavour is worthwhile only if the connective links that underpin (...) unification are metaphysically significant. Ladyman and Ross employed information-theoretic notions, e.g. ‘projectibility’, to account for the significance of real patterns, which underpin unification. I build upon McAllister’s engagements with the same topic, to argue that these notions fail to accomplish this objective. (shrink)
The fourteen papers in this collection offer a variety of original contributions to the epistemology of modality. In seeking to explain our knowledge of possibility and necessity, they raise some novel questions, develop some unfamiliar theoretical perspectives, and make some intriguing proposals. In the Introduction (penultimate draft available for download), I give some general background about the contemporary literature in the area, by sketching a timeline of the main tendencies of the past twenty-five years or so, up to the (...) present debates. Next, I focus on four features that largely characterize the latest literature, and the papers in the present collection in particular: (i) an endorsement of the importance of essentialism; (ii) a shift to a “metaphysics-first” approach to modal epistemology; (iii) a focus on metaphysical modality as opposed to other kinds of modality; and (iv) a preference for non-uniform modal epistemology. Then I turn to present the individual papers in the volume, which are organized based on their topic around the following four chapters: (A) Skepticism & Deflationism; (B) Essentialism; (C) Non-Essentialist Accounts; (D) Applications. LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS: Francesco Berto; Stephen Biggs & Jessica Wilson; Justin Clark-Doane; Philip Goff; Bob Hale; Frank Jackson; Mark Jago; Boris Kment; Antonella Mallozzi; Graham Priest; Gabriel Rabin; Amie Thomasson; Anand Vaidya & Michael Wallner; Jennifer Wang. The volume is dedicated to the memory of Bob Hale. (shrink)
The fourteen papers in this collection offer a variety of original contributions to the epistemology of modality. In seeking to explain how we might account for our knowledge of possibility and necessity, they raise some novel questions, develop some unfamiliar theoretical perspectives, and make some intriguing proposals. Collectively, they advance our understanding of the field. In Part I of this Introduction, I give some general background about the contemporary literature in the area, by sketching a timeline of the main (...) tendencies of the past twenty-five years or so, up to the present debates. Next, I focus on four features that largely characterize the latest literature, and the papers in the present collection in particular: (i) an endorsement of the importance of essentialism; (ii) a shift to a “metaphysics-first” approach to modal epistemology; (iii) a focus on metaphysical modality as opposed to other kinds of modality; and (iv) a preference for non-uniform modal epistemology. In Part II, I present the individual papers in the volume. These are organized around the following four chapters, based on their topic: (A) Skepticism & Deflationism; (B) Essentialism; (C) Non-Essentialist Accounts; (D) Applications. -/- LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS: Francesco Berto; Stephen Biggs & Jessica Wilson; Justin Clark-Doane; Philip Goff; Bob Hale; Frank Jackson; Mark Jago; Boris Kment; Antonella Mallozzi; Graham Priest; Gabriel Rabin; Amie Thomasson; Anand Vaidya & Michael Wallner; Jennifer Wang. -/- The volume is dedicated to the memory of Bob Hale. -/- . (shrink)
Kant's account of space as an infinite given magnitude in the Critique of Pure Reason is paradoxical, since infinite magnitudes go beyond the limits of possible experience. Michael Friedman's and Charles Parsons's accounts make sense of geometrical construction, but I argue that they do not resolve the paradox. I argue that metaphysical space is based on the ability of the subject to generate distinctly oriented spatial magnitudes of invariant scalar quantity through translation or rotation. The set of determinately oriented, constructed (...) geometrical spaces is a proper subset of metaphysical space, thus, metaphysical space is infinite. Kant's paradoxical doctrine of metaphysical space is necessary to reconcile his empiricism with his transcendental idealism. (shrink)
Top-down synthetic biology makes partly synthetic cells by redesigning simple natural forms of life, and bottom-up synthetic biology aims to make fully synthetic cells using only entirely nonliving components. Within synthetic biology the notions of complexity and emergence are quite controversial, but the imprecision of key notions makes the discussion inconclusive. I employ a precise notion of weak emergent property, which is a robust characteristic of the behavior of complex bottom-up causal webs, where a complex causal web is one that (...) is incompressible and its behavior cannot be derived except by crawling through all of the gory details of the interactions in the web. The central thesis of this article is that synthetic biology centrally is the activity of engineering the desired weak emergent properties of synthetic cells. Synthetic biology has many different ways to engineer desired weak emergent properties of synthetic cells, including Edisonian trial and error, standardized parts, refactoring, and reprogramming synthetic genomes. The article ends by noting two philosophical consequences of engineering weak emergence. One is epistemological: synthesis is crucial for discovering weak emergent properties. The other is metaphysical: simple life forms are nothing but complex chemical mechanisms. (shrink)
We review some of the major accounts in the current epistemology of modality and identify some shared issues that plague all of them. In order to provide insight into the nature of modal statements in science, philosophy, and beyond, a satisfactory epistemology of modality would need to be suitably applicable to practical and theoretical contexts by limited beings. However, many epistemologies of modality seem to work only when we have access to the kind of knowledge that is at (...) least currently beyond our reach. Or, in the extreme case, it is argued that even if we knew all the relevant information about the respective domain – or even the entire state of the world – there would still remain a special class of modal truths that would be left unaccounted for. Neither picture bodes well for practical applicability, nor for the philosophical justification of these epistemologies. This is especially the case as we hold that one of the main motivations for modal inquiry typically arises in cases of imperfect information and limited cognitive resources. We close by providing a partial remedy to the situation by suggesting an overall framework of relative modality (RM) that can be used to both unify some existing modal epistemologies and, at the same time, make them more metaphysically modest. (shrink)
Group polarization—roughly, the tendency of groups to incline towards more extreme positions than initially held by their individual members— has been rigorously studied by social psychol- ogists, though in a way that has overlooked important philosophical questions about this phenomenon which remain unexplored. Two such salient questions are metaphysical and epistemological, respectively. From a metaphysical point of view, can group polarization, understood as an epistemic feature of a group, be reduced to epistemic features of its individual members? Relatedly, from an (...) epistemological point of view, is group polarization best understood as a kind of cognitive bias or rather in terms of intellectual vice? This book taxonomizes this possibility space by comparing four models which combine potential answers to the metaphysical and epistemological questions. The models we consider are: group polarization as a collective bias, a summation of individual epistemic vices; a summation of individual biases; and a collective epistemic vice. We defend a collective vice model of group polarization over the competing alternatives. (shrink)
In this article, I explore the consequences of two commonsensical premises in semantics and epistemology: (1) natural language is a complex system rooted in the communal life of human beings within a given environment; and (2) linguistic knowledge is essentially dependent on natural language. These premises lead me to emphasize the process-socio-environmental character of linguistic meaning and knowledge, from which I proceed to analyse a number of long-standing philosophical problems, attempting to throw new light upon them on these grounds. (...) In particular, I criticize the use of expressions such as ‘absolute truth’, ‘absolute existence’ and ‘the thing in itself’, arguing that they lead to what I call ‘the ultralinguistic paradox’ (a fatal antinomy). In the same way, I review a number of mainstream topics in philosophical semantics, epistemology and metaphysics, reformulating them in terms much more naturalistic – and less mysterious – than usual. (shrink)
Agustín Rayo’s The Construction of Logical Space offers an exciting and ambitious defense of a broadly Carnapian approach to metaphysics. This essay will focus on one of the main differences between Rayo’s and Carnap’s approaches. Carnap distinguished between analytic, a priori “meaning postulates”, and empirical claims, which were both synthetic and knowable only a posteriori. Like meaning postulates, they determine the boundaries of logical space. But Rayo is skeptical that the a priori/a posteriori or analytic/synthetic distinctions can do the (...) work Carnap wanted them to, so unlike meaning postulates, ‘just is’-statements aren’t assumed to be analytic or knowable a priori. This essay will concern the epistemology of ‘just is’-statements in Rayo’s picture. If not by a priori reflection, how can we determine which ones to accept? I’ll distinguish two competing strands in Rayo’s work. The less radical, Lewisian strand holds that the question of whether to accept a ‘just is’-statement can be addressed in a neutral, non-question-begging way, by a kind of cost-benefit analysis. The more radical, Kuhnian strand holds that there can be no ‘just is’-statement-independent, rational choice of which ‘just is’-statements to accept. I argue that Rayo faces strong internal pressure to adopt the Kuhnian picture. While it is possible for Rayo to resist these Kuhnian pressures, natural strategies for doing so leave his view more similar to Carnap’s than the above gloss suggested. (shrink)
The theory of mind that medieval philosophers inherit from Augustine is predicated on the thesis that the human mind is essentially self-reflexive. This paper examines Peter John Olivi's (1248-1298) distinctive development of this traditional Augustinian thesis. The aim of the paper is three-fold. The first is to establish that Olivi's theory of reflexive awareness amounts to a theory of phenomenal consciousness. The second is to show that, despite appearances, Olivi rejects a higher-order analysis of consciousness in favor of a same-order (...) theory. The third and final is to show that, on his view, consciousness is both self-intimating and infallible. (shrink)