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The (mostly harmless) Inconsistency of Knowledge Ascriptions
I argue for an alternative to invariantist, contextualist, and relativist semantics for 'know'. This is that our use of 'know' is inconsistent; it is governed by several mutually inconsistent inference principles. Yet this inconsistency does not prevent us from assigning an effective content to most individual knowledge ascriptions, and it leads to trouble only in exceptional circumstances. Accordingly, we have no reason to abandon our inconsistent knowledge-talk.
|Matt Weiner||PDF (719kb)|
Excusing Mistakes of Law
Whether we understand it descriptively or normatively, the slogan that ignorance of the law is no excuse is false. Our legal system sometimes excuses those who are ignorant of the law on those grounds and should. Still, the slogan contains a grain of truth; mistakes of law excuse less readily than mistakes of fact, and ought to. This paper explains the asymmetry by identifying a principle of excuse of the form "If defendant D has a false belief that p and _____, then D is excused ", which has the following feature: it is true frequently when p is a non-legal proposition, but it is false often when p is a proposition about the law. Under this principle of excuse, mistakes excuse by showing the agent to have acceptable commitments for recognizing, weighing, and responding to reasons. Many mistakes of fact show this; they show that the agent's deliberation led to objectionable action because of faulty inputs and not to fault in the deliberation itself. Mistakes of law, by contrast, frequently indicate that the agent has faulty commitments when it comes to legal reasons; they therefore do not provide excuse under the proposed principle of excuse. It is argued that this explanation of the asymmetry between mistakes of fact and law takes us a great distance towards explaining the relevance of mental state to responsibility, an issue of great importance to moral philosophy.
|Gideon Yaffe||PDF (502kb)|
Expressivism, Truth, and (Self-) Knowledge
In this paper, I consider the prospects of two different kinds of expressivism - ethical expressivism and avowal expressivism - in light of two common objections. The first objection stems from the fact that it is natural to think of ethical statements and avowals as at least potential manifestations of knowledge. The second objection stems from the fact that it is natural to treat ethical statements and avowals as truth-evaluable. I argue that, although a recent avowal expressivist attempt (Bar-On 2004) to meet the second objection may succeed, the related response to the first objection threatens to undermine the principal advantages of that view. Then, I argue that although recent ethical expressivist attempts (especially Blackburn 1998 and Gibbard 2003) to meet the first objection are successful, the related response to the second objection threatens to undermine the principal advantages of that view. This suggests a cross-pollination of defensive strategies, which I go on to explore in order to articulate the theoretical commitments one must take on to make either cross-pollinated position work in the face of both objections. In light of this, I suggest that the prospects for the resulting ethical expressivist position are considerably better than the prospects for the resulting avowal expressivist position, though both positions involve significant theoretical costs.
|Matthew Chrisman||PDF (467kb)|
"The Unity of Time's Measure": Kant's Reply to Locke
In a crucial passage of the second-edition Transcendental Deduction, Kant claims that the concept of motion is central to our understanding of change and temporal order. I show that this seemingly idle claim is really integral to the Deduction, understood as a replacement for Locke's "physiological " epistemology (cf. A86-7/B119). Béatrice Longuenesse has shown that Kant's notion of distinctively inner receptivity derives from Locke. To explain the a priori application of concepts such as succession to this mode of sensibility, Kant construes the mind as receptive to its own activity. As Longuenesse understands Kant's response to Locke, "motion " becomes little more than a metaphor for the action of understanding on inner sense. For Michael Friedman, in contrast, this passage evidences Kant's deep concern with the foundations of Newtonian science. He reads it as a reference to inertial motion, the standard by which temporal intervals are measured. I show that Longuenesse's and Friedman's interpretations are in fact complementary. Both Locke and Kant are deeply concerned with the quantification of time. So Longuenesse is right that §24 is meant to supplant Locke's account, and Friedman correctly takes it as the foundation of Kant's account of the application of quantitative concepts to time. Kant aims, specifically, to explain cognition of time as continuous magnitude. However, Longuenesse leaves Kant without an answer to Locke's challenge that continuous magnitude cannot be understood on the basis of discrete magnitude. And on Friedman's view Kant's account of the understanding's activity presupposes, and thus cannot explain, the achievements of the mathematical sciences (such as the representation of temporal continuity). On my reading, Kant's key contention is that we must regard the segregation of temporally ordered representation into units as the work of the understanding, rather than (as Locke views it) of sensibility. By giving the understanding this role, Kant succeeds where he takes Locke to fail. I show how the power to unify temporal representation can be ascribed to the understanding on the basis, not of assumed mathematical or scientific knowledge, but of its characterization as the power of judgment.
|Katherine Dunlop||PDF (582kb)|
Descartes on Sensation: A Defense of the Semantic-Causation Model
Descartes's lack of clarity about the causal connections between brain states and mental states has led many commentators to conclude that he has no coherent account of body-mind relations in sensation, or that he was simply confused about the issue. In this paper I develop what I take to be a coherent account that was available to Descartes, and argue that there are both textual and systematic reasons to think that it was his considered view. The account has brain states serving as occasions for the mind to produce in itself the sensations that it takes these brain states to signify. The relation between body and mind on this model is thus neither a standard efficient-causal relation, nor an occasionalist one, but rather a semantic-causal relation (i.e. a non-standard efficient causal relation that goes by way of natural signification). At the end of the paper I argue that the model does not undermine Descartes' commitment to the self-transparency of the mind.
|Andrew Chignell||PDF (480kb)|
A Theory of Wrongful Exploitation
My primary aims in this paper are to explain what exploitation is, when it's wrong, and what makes it wrong. I argue that exploitation is not always wrong, but that it can be, and that its wrongness cannot be fully explained with familiar moral constraints such as those against harming people, coercing them, or using them as a means, or with familiar moral obligations such as an obligation to rescue those in distress or not to take advantage of people's vulnerabilities. Its deepest wrongness, I argue, lies in our moral obligation not to extract excessive benefits from people who cannot, or cannot reasonably, refuse our offers.
|Mikhail Valdman||PDF (376kb)|
The Obscurity of Internal Reasons
This article suggests that the argument of Bernard Williams’ classic paper ‘Internal and External Reasons’ has been widely misunderstood. The first section sketches four variants of the Standard Argument, catalogs their weaknesses and observes the exegetical obstacles they face. The second section proposes an alternative reading immune to all these objections and better supported by the text and charity. On this interpretation, Williams gives one consistent argument that unites his central concerns with (i) the ‘explanatory dimension’ of reasons statements, (ii) their conceptual content, and (iii) the connection between reasons and deliberation. His argument is normally thought to be based on the common claim that reasons must be capable of motivating; I argue that it rather begins from a substantive analysis of the concept of a normative reason: that to believe that R is for you a reason for action just is to believe that R is an explanation of why you would act if you were to deliberate soundly.
|Stephen Finlay||PDF (527kb)|
Moral Community: Escaping the Ethical State of Nature
I attempt to vindicate our authority to create new practical reasons for others by making choices of our own. In The Doctrine of Right Kant argues that we have an obligation to leave the Juridical State of Nature and found the state. In a less familiar passage in Religion within the Bounds of Mere Reason he argues for an obligation to leave what he calls the Ethical State of Nature and join together in the Moral Community. I read both texts as addressing and trying to resolve a tension between our individual freedom and our authority to make claims on one another. I explicate the political argument, and then develop the view that Kant sketches in the Religion, arguing that regarding others as capable of making choices that give you reasons to act is a condition of the full exercise of your autonomy.
|Kyla Ebels-Duggan||PDF (391kb)|
First Person Data, Publicity and Self-Measurement
First-person data have been both condemned and hailed because of their alleged privacy. Critics argue that science must be based on public evidence: since first-person data are private, they should be banned from science. Apologists reply that first-person data are necessary for understanding the mind: since first-person data are private, scientists must be allowed to use private evidence. I argue that both views rest on a false premise. In psychology and neuroscience, the subjects issuing first-person reports and other sources of first-person data play the epistemic role of a (self-) measuring instrument. Data from measuring instruments are public and can be validated by public methods. Therefore, first-person data are as public as other scientific data: their use in science is legitimate, in accordance with standard scientific methodology.
|Gualtiero Piccinini||PDF (334kb)|
In this paper I develop a conception of joint practical deliberation as a special type of shared cooperative activity, through which co-deliberators jointly accept reasons as applying to them as a pair or group. I argue, moreover, that the aspiration to deliberative “pairhood” is distinguished by a special concern for mutuality that guides each deliberator’s readiness to accept a given consideration as a reason-for-us. It matters to each of us, as joint deliberators, that each party’s (individual) reasons for accepting something as a reason-for-us support a conception of our relationship as one characterized by mutual, non-instrumental concern for one another.
|Andrea C. Westlund||PDF (344kb)|
How We Know What We’re Doing
Abstract: G.E.M. Anscombe famously claimed that acting intentionally entails knowing "without observation" what one is doing. Among those that have taken her claim seriously, an influential response has been to suppose that in order to explain this fact, we should conclude that intentions are a species of belief. This paper argues that there are good reasons to reject this "cognitivist" view of intention in favor of the view that intentions are distinctively practical attitudes that are not beliefs and do not constitutively involve the belief that one will do what one intends. A theory is then proposed on behalf of Distinctive Practical Attitude views of intention to explain Anscombe's non-observational knowledge phenomenon. It is argued that intentions do not embody non-observational knowledge, but they do provide the evidential basis for it: we know without observation what we are doing by inferring from our intentions.
|Sarah K. Paul||PDF (414kb)|
Time and Tense in Perceptual Experience
We can not just see, hear or feel how things are at a time, but we also have perceptual experiences as of things moving or changing. I argue that such temporal experiences have a content that is tenseless, i.e. best characterized in terms of notions such as 'before' and 'after' (rather than, say, 'past', 'present' and 'future'), and that such experiences are essentially of the nature of a process that takes up time, viz., the same time as the process that is being experienced. Both claims have been made before, though usually separately from each other, and I don't believe the connection between them has been sufficiently recognized.
|Christoph Hoerl||PDF (377kb)|