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Rigidity for Predicates and the Trivialization Problem
According to the simple proposal about rigidity for predicates, a predicate is rigid (roughly) if it signifies the same property across the relevant worlds. Recent critics claim that this suffers from a trivialization problem: any predicate whatsoever would turn out to be trivially rigid, according to the proposal. In this paper a corresponding "problem" for ordinary singular terms is considered. A natural solution is provided by intuitions concerning the actual truth-value of identity statements involving them. The simple proposal for predicates is then defended, by exploiting corresponding intuitions concerning statements involving their nominalizations, in an analogous manner.
|Dan López de Sa||PDF (393kb)|
The linchpin of Williamson (2000)'s radically externalist epistemological program is an argument for the claim that no non-trivial condition is luminous-that no non-trivial condition is such that whenever it obtains, one is in a position to know that it obtains. I argue that Williamson's anti-luminosity argument succeeds only if one assumes that, even in the limit of ideal reflection, the obtaining of the condition in question and one's beliefs about that condition can be radically disjoint from one another. However, no self-respecting defender of the luminosity of the mental would ever make such an assumption. Thus Williamson can only secure his controversial claims in epistemology by taking for granted certain equally controversial claims in the philosophy of mind. What emerges is that the best bet for defending an internalist epistemology against Williamson's attack is to take there to be a tight, intimate connection between (to take one example) our experiences and our beliefs upon reflection about the obtaining of those experiences, or between (to take another example) the rationality of our beliefs and our beliefs upon reflection about the rationality of those beliefs.
|Selim Berker||PDF (673kb)|
Reid's defense of common sense
Thomas Reid is often misread as defending common sense, if at all, only by relying on illicit premises about God or our natural faculties. On these theological or reliabilist misreadings, Reid makes common sense assertions where he cannot give arguments. This paper attempts to untangle Reid's defense of common sense by distinguishing four arguments: (a) the argument from madness, (b) the argument from natural faculties, (c) the argument from impotence, and (d) the argument from practical commitment. Of these, (a) and (c) do rely on problematic premises that are no more secure than claims of common sense itself. Yet (b) and (d) do not. This conclusion can be established directly by considering the arguments informally, but one might still worry that there is an implicit premise in them. In order to address this concern, I reconstruct the arguments in the framework of subjective Bayesianism. The worry becomes this: Do the arguments rely on specific values for the prior probability of some premises? Reid's appeals to our prior cognitive and practical commitments do not. Rather than relying on specific probability assignments, they draw on things that are part of the Bayesian framework itself, such as the nature of observation and the connection between belief and action. Contra the theological or reliabilist readings, the defense of common sense does not require indefensible premises.
|P.D. Magnus||PDF (390kb)|
Inner Sense, Self-Affection, and Temporal Consciousness in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason
In §24 of the Transcendental Deduction, Kant remarks that his account of the capacity of the understanding to spontaneously determine sensibility explains how empirical self-knowledge is possible through inner-sense. Although most commentators consider Kant's conception of empirical self-knowledge through inner sense to be either a failure or at least drastically under-developed, I argue that (just as Kant claims) his account of the capacity of the understanding to determine sensibility - the "productive imagination" - can ground an attractive account of self-knowledge. The account of inner sense I propose, however, may seem to conflict with some of Kant's views on time. I close the paper by arguing that the apparent conflict is not a fault specific to my account of inner sense, but rather indicative of a deeper tension, internal to Kant's views on time.
|Markos Valaris||PDF (503kb)|
How Action Governs Intention
Why can't deliberation conclude in an intention except by considering whether to perform the intended action? I argue that the answer to this question entails that reasons for intention are determined by reasons for action. Understanding this feature of practical deliberation thus allows us to solve the toxin puzzle.
|Nishi Shah||PDF (463kb)|
Metaethics and the Autonomy of Morality
Some philosophers have been attracted to the idea that morality is an autonomous domain. One version of this idea is the thesis that non-moral claims are irrelevant to the justification of fundamental normative ethical theories. However, this autonomy thesis appears to be in tension with a pair of apparent features of metaethical theorizing. On one hand, metaethics seemingly aims to explain how morality fits into our broader conception of the world. On the other, metaethical theorizing appears to have potential normative ethical implications. This apparent tension may help to explain some contemporary worries about metaethics as a philosophical project. This paper examines three responses to this tension. The first response seeks to resolve the tension by claiming that metaethical theories must be neutral between normative ethical theories. The second response seeks to eliminate the tension by appealing to a deep divide between practical and theoretical reasoning. I show that each of these responses would require a radical reconception of metaethics. I argue that such a reconception is not required in order to resolve the apparent tension between metaethics and the autonomy thesis. I show that this tension is merely apparent, and can be dissolved without casting doubt on metaethics as a project. I argue that on the picture that results, whether the autonomy thesis is true itself depends upon metaethical fact.
|Tristram McPherson||PDF (409kb)|
Can Contextualists Maintain Neutrality?
Several critics of contextualism claim that this view cannot consistently maintain its advertised neutrality between skepticism and anti-skepticism. Some critics contend that contextualists are forced to side with the skeptic, since any defense of contextualism unavoidably puts in place the skeptic's high requirements for knowledge; others hold that the contextualists' claim to have knowledge of what their own view entails forces them to reject the skeptic's knowledge denial. I show that these arguments misconstrue the role of context in contextualism, and explain how we are to understand the contextualist's proposed agreement with both the skeptic's knowledge denial and the anti-skeptic's knowledge attribution.
|Martin Montminy||PDF (345kb)|
Physically Contingent Laws and Counterfactual Support
The generalizations found in biology, psychology, sociology, and other high-level sciences are typically physically contingent. You might conclude that they play only a limited role in scientific investigation, on the grounds that physically contingent generalizations offer no or only feeble counterfactual support. But the link between contingency and counterfactual support is more complex than is commonly supposed. A certain class of physically contingent generalizations, comprising many, perhaps the vast majority, of those in the high-level sciences, provides strong counterfactual support of just the sort that appears to be scientifically important. This paper explains why.
|Michael Strevens||PDF (480kb)|
Contextualism about Justified Belief
This paper presents a new argument for a form of contextualism about 'justified belief', the argument being based on considerations concerning the nature of belief. It is then argued that this form of contextualism, although it is true, cannot help to answer the threat of scepticism. However, it can explain many other puzzling phenomena: it can give an account of the linguistic mechanisms that determine how the extension of 'justified belief' shifts with context; it can help to defuse some puzzles regarding the closure of justified belief under competent deduction; and it can give a plausible account of the role that practical concerns play in the thinking of a rational believer, allowing for a more plausible kind of "intellectualism" about justified belief.
|Ralph Wedgwood||PDF (557kb)|
Local and Global Relativity Principles
Local versions of the (special) principle of relativity say that if the same type of experiment is conducted in two isolated, unaccelerated laboratories, then the outcomes of those experiments must be the same. Global versions of the principle say that if you take a physically possible world and boost the entire material content of that world, you get another physically possible world. Some authors say that the local and the global principles are logically independent, and that the local version is more important. These authors are wrong. I argue that the global version entails the local version, and discuss why a counterexample to this entailment offered by Tim Budden fails.
|Bradford Skow||PDF (416kb)|
The Nature of Noise
There is a growing consensus in the philosophical literature that sounds differ rather profoundly from colors. Colors are qualities, while sounds are particulars of some sort or other, such as events or pressure waves. A key motivation for this is that sounds seem to be transient, to evolve over time, to begin and end, while colors seem like stable qualities of objects' surfaces. I argue that sounds are indeed, like colors, stable qualities of objects. Sounds are not transient, and they do not seem to be, even though they are typically perceived transiently. In particular, sounds are dispositions of objects to vibrate in response to being stimulated. This stable property view of sounds aligns nicely with, and owes an inspirational debt to, reflectance physicalist accounts of color. The upshot is a unified picture of colors, sounds, and the perception thereof.
|John Kulvicki||PDF (419kb)|
A Modal Argument against Vague Objects
There has been much discussion of whether there could be objects A and B that are "individuatively vague " in the following way: object A and object B neither determinately stand in the relation of identity to one another, nor do they determinately fail to stand in this relation. If there are objects of this type, then we would have a genuine case of metaphysical vagueness, or "vagueness-in-the-world. " The possibility of vague objects in this sense strikes many as incoherent. The possibility's very description not only seems to talk of two objects but, much worse, it seems to point to a feature that distinguishes them: unlike object A, object B is not determinately identical to object A. This suspicion of incoherence is voiced in the famous arguments given against the possibility by Gareth Evans and Nathan Salmon. But the status of those arguments and others is uncertain. Here I present a new argument against vague objects - or more precisely, against the possibility of individuatively vague objects that satisfy an important and common additional condition that I will call "Democracy. " Since my argument turns on a connection between what is indeterminate and what is possible, I call it "the modal argument. "
|Joseph G. Moore||PDF (496kb)|