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Linguistic Practice and Its Discontents: Quine and Davidson on the Source of Sense
A rich tradition in philosophy takes truths about meaning to be wholly determined by how language is used; meanings do not guide use of language from behind the scenes, but instead are fixed by such use. Linguistic practice, on this conception, exhausts the facts to which the project of understanding another must be faithful. But how is linguistic practice to be characterized? No one has addressed this question more seriously than W. V. Quine, who sought for many years to formulate a conception of use that makes sense of certain key features of meaning. The nature, development, and adequacy of his formulations are here explored. All are found to fall short of what he wanted to achieve. Donald Davidson has introduced significant variations on Quine's project. The resulting position is also examined, but likewise found to be problematic. Finally, a neo-Quinean conception is sketched, as are some of the problems such a view would have to surmount.
|Alexander George||PDF (458kb)|
Putting Form Before Function: Logical Grammar in Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein
The positions of Frege, Russell and Wittgenstein on the priority of complexes over (propositional) functions are sketched, challenging those who take the "judgment centered" aspects of the Tractatus to be inherited from Frege not Russell. Frege's views on the priority of judgments are problematic, and unlike Wittgenstein's. Russell's views on these matters, and their development, are discussed in detail, and shown to be more sophisticated than usually supposed. Certain misreadings of Russell, including those regarding the relationship between propositional functions and universals, are exposed. Wittgenstein's and Russell's views on logical grammar are shown to be very similar. Russell's type theory does not countenance types of genuine entities nor metaphysical truths that cannot be put into words, contrary to conventional wisdom. I relate this to the debate over "inexpressible truths" in the Tractatus. I lastly comment on the changes to Russell's views brought about by Wittgenstein's influence.
|Kevin C. Klement||PDF (594kb)|
Morality, Fiction, and Possibility
Authors have a lot of leeway with regard to what they can make true in their story. In general, if the author says that p is true in the fiction we're reading, we believe that p is true in that fiction. And if we're playing along with the fictional game, we imagine that, along with everything else in the story, p is true. But there are exceptions to these general principles. Many authors, most notably Kendall Walton and Tamar Szabó Gendler, have discussed apparent counterexamples when p is "morally deviant". Many other statements that are conceptually impossible also seem to be counterexamples. In this paper I do four things. I survey the range of counterexamples, or at least putative counterexamples, to the principles. Then I look to explanations of the counterexamples. I argue, following Gendler, that the explanation cannot simply be that morally deviant claims are impossible. I argue that the distinctive attitudes we have towards moral propositions cannot explain the counterexamples, since some of the examples don't involve moral concepts. And I put forward a proposed explanation that turns on the role of 'higher-level concepts', concepts that if they are satisfied are satisfied in virtue of more fundamental facts about the world, in fiction, and in imagination.
|Brian Weatherson||PDF (352kb)|