Browse by Volume
Is Belief a Propositional Attitude?
According to proponents of the face-value account, a belief report of the form ‘S believes that p’ is true just in case the agent believes a proposition referred to by the that-clause. As against this familiar view, I argue that there are cases of true belief reports of the relevant form in which there is no proposition that the that-clause, or the speaker using the that-clause, can plausibly be taken as referring to. Moreover, I argue that given the distinctive way in which the face-value theory of belief-reports fails, there is pressure to give up the metaphysical thesis that belief is a propositional attitude. I conclude by suggesting that we allow non-propositional entities to be amongst the relata of the belief-relation, and make some speculative remarks concerning what such entities might be like.
|Ray Buchanan||PDF (507kb)|
Cartesian Consciousness Reconsidered
Descartes revolutionized our conception of the mind by identifying consciousness as the mark of the mental: all and only thoughts are conscious. Today the idea that all thoughts are conscious seems obviously wrong. Worse, however, Descartes himself seems to posit a whole host of unconscious thoughts. Something is not as it seems. Either Descartes is remarkably inconsistent, or his claim that all thought is conscious is more nuanced than it appears. In this paper I argue that while Descartes was indeed unwavering in his commitment to the conscious mark, he had the resources to distinguish different types and degrees of consciousness that make for a richer cognitive psychology than he is typically credited with.
|Alison Simmons||PDF (519kb)|
The Aesthetics of Actor-Character Race Matching in Film Fictions
Marguerite Clark as Topsy in Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1918). Charlton Heston as Ramon Miguel Vargas in Touch of Evil (1958). Mizuo Peck as Sacagawea in Night at the Museum (2006). From the early days of cinema to its classic-era through to the contemporary Hollywood age, the history of cinema is replete with films in which the racial (or ethnic) background of a principal character does not match the background of the actor or actress portraying that character. I call this actor-character race-mismatching. In this paper, I mainly explore whether a coherent and plausible account can be given of race-matching in terms of purely aesthetic considerations, i.e., an account that absent moral considerations can nevertheless coherently and productively answer the following questions: can race-mismatching itself ever be an aesthetic defect of a film, and if so, under what conditions can race-mismatching be such an aesthetic defect. I claim that once we have in place a precise account of the nature of race-matching, it becomes clear that films for which race-mismatching appears to constitute an aesthetic defect are actually films with which properly engaging requires audiences to satisfy inconsistent epistemic conditions. In such cases, I claim, race mismatching constitutes an aesthetic defect for the film-fiction because—in virtue of the inconsistency underwritten by the race-mismatching—that film-fiction undermines the very uptake it prescribes. I then argue that if what’s defective about race-mismatching aesthetically is predicated on something being defective about race-mismatching epistemically, then if there is nothing in principle defective about race-mismatching epistemically, then so too for mismatching aesthetically (and so too for mismatching morally). From this I conclude that reasons stemming only from race-matching/mismatching itself lack the normative force sufficient to warrant the claim that film-fictions ought not race-mismatch.
|Christy Mag Uidhir||PDF (448kb)|
Contemporary philosophers commonly suppose that any fundamental entities there may be are maximally determinate. More generally, they commonly suppose that, whether or not there are fundamental entities, any determinable entities there may be are grounded in, hence less fundamental than, more determinate entities. So, for example, Armstrong takes the physical objects constituting the presumed fundamental base to be “determinate in all respects” (1961, 59), and Lewis takes the properties characterizing things “completely and without redundancy” to be “highly specific” (1986, 60). Here I’ll look at the usually cited reasons for these suppositions as directed against the case of determinable properties, in particular, and argue that none is compelling (Sections 1 to 3). The discussion in Section 3 will moreover identify positive reason for taking some determinable properties to be part of a fundamental (or relatively fundamental) base. I’ll close (Section 4) by noting certain questions arising from the possibility of fundamental determinables, as directions for future research.
|Jessica Wilson||PDF (429kb)|
Touch Without Touching
In this paper, I argue that in touch, as in vision and audition, we can and often do perceive objects and properties even when we are not in direct or even apparent bodily contact with them. Unlike those senses, however, touch experiences require a special kind of mutually interactive connection between our sensory surfaces and the objects of our experience. I call this constraint the Connection Principle. This view has implications for the proper understanding of touch, and perceptual reference generally. In particular, spelling out the implications of this principle yields a rich and compelling picture of the spatial character of touch.
|Matthew Fulkerson||PDF (414kb)|
A Quinean Critique of Ostrich Nominalism
Ostrich nominalists often cite Quine’s criterion of ontological commitment in order to claim that their view is more parsimonious than rival positions in ontology such as realism. We show that Quine’s criterion, properly understood, does not support this claim. Indeed, we show that ostrich nominalism has a far more profligate ontology than realism.
|Bryan Pickel; Nicholas Mantegani||PDF (532kb)|
Manipulation and Moral Standing: An Argument for Incompatibilism
A prominent recent strategy for advancing the thesis that moral responsibility is incompatible with causal determinism has been to argue that agents who meet compatibilist conditions for responsibility could nevertheless be subject to certain sorts of deterministic manipulation, so that an agent could meet the compatibilist’s conditions for responsibility, but also be living a life the precise details of which someone else determined that she should live. According to the incompatibilist, however, once we became aware that agents had been manipulated or ‘set up’ in the relevant way, we should no longer judge that they are responsible for their behavior, nor should we hold them responsible for it by blaming them, in case what they did was wrong. In this paper, I aim to shift the debate to different terrain. The focus so far has been simply on what we may or may not permissibly say or do concerning manipulated agents. But I believe a powerful new incompatibilist argument can be mounted from considering whether the manipulators themselves can justifiably blame the agents they manipulate in compatibilist-friendly ways. It seems strikingly counterintuitive to suppose that they may do so. The argument of this paper, however, is that, given the right story, incompatibilism provides the best explanation for why this is so. In short, the compatibilist must say that, while such manipulated agents are still responsible, the manipulators lack the moral standing to blame them. But I argue that, on compatibilist assumptions, this explanation ultimately fails.
|Patrick Todd||PDF (445kb)|
Why Lewis’s analysis of modality succeeds in its reductive ambitions.
Some argue that Lewisian realism fails as a reduction of modality because in order to meet some criterion of success the account needs to invoke primitive modality. I defend Lewisian realism against this charge; in the process, I hope to shed some light on the conditions of success for a reduction. In §1 I detail the resources the Lewisian modal realist needs. In §2 I argue against Lycan and Shalkowski’s charge that Lewis needs a modal notion of ‘world’ to ensure that worlds correspond to possibilities. In §3 I respond to Divers and Melia’s objection that Lewis needs to invoke primitive modality to give a complete account of what worlds there are. In §4 I ask what it is for a notion to ‘involve’ modality. I conclude that the question is either in bad standing or at best offers little traction on the debate, and propose a different way of assessing when materials are appropriately included in a reductive base.
|Ross P. Cameron||PDF (480kb)|
Most solutions to the skeptical paradox about justified belief assume closure for justification, since the rejection of closure is widely regarded as a non-starter. I argue that the rejection of closure is not a non-starter, and that its problems are no greater than the problems associated with the more standard anti-skeptical strategies. I do this by sketching a simple version of the unpopular strategy and rebutting the three best objections to it. The general upshot for theories of justification is that it is not a constraint on such theories that we must somehow have justification to believe that we are not massively deceived.
|Yuval Avnur||PDF (439kb)|
Inner and Outer Truth
Kit Fine and Robert Adams have independently introduced a distinction between two ways in which a proposition might be true with respect to a world. A proposition is true at a world if it correctly represents the world. A proposition is true in a world, if it exists in that world and correctly represents it. In this paper, I clarify this distinction between outer and inner truth, defend it against recent charges of unintelligibly and argue that outer truth tracks counterfactual possibility while inner truth tracks counter-actual possibility. This connection allows us to clarify the relationship between possibility, possible actuality and the thesis of serious actualism, which is the thesis that nothing could have had a property without existing. I show that this undermines serious actualists' scruples against reading sentences like `Even if Socrates had not existed, he might have' as expressing true and genuinely de re propositions about Socrates. More generally, the connection I draw provides the serious actualist with a justification for treating actually existing but contingent objects differently from how he treats merely possible objects.
|Iris Einheuser||PDF (206kb)|
What do We Say When We Say How or What We Feel?
Discourse containing the verb ‘feel’, almost without exception, purports to describe inner experience. Though this much is evident, the question remains what exactly is conveyed when we talk about what and how we feel? Does discourse containing the word ‘feel’ actually succeed in describing the content and phenomenology of inner experience? If so, how does it reflect the phenomenology and content of the experience it describes? Here I offer a linguistic analysis of ‘feels’ reports and argue that a subset of ‘feels’ reports, when accurate, reflect the representational content of emotions, tactile experiences and bodily sensations. Because ‘feels’ reports may reflect the representational content of bodily experience, these types of report may be able to give us some insight into the structure of bodily experience. I argue that our descriptions of bodily experience, on the assumption that they are sometimes accurate, indicate that emotions and tactile experiences are experiences of bodily reactions to objects, whereas bodily sensations are partial descriptions of emotions and tactile experiences or other events of the body. At the end I address the concern that an adequate account of inner experience cannot be given in terms of an analysis of ordinary language.
|Berit Brogaard||PDF (590kb)|
Counterfactuals and the Epistemology of Modality
The paper provides an explanation of our knowledge of metaphysical modality, or modal knowledge, from our ability to evaluate counterfactual conditionals. The latter ability lends itself to an evolutionary explanation since it enables us to learn from mistakes. Different logical principles linking counterfactuals to metaphysical modality can be employed to extend this explanation to the epistemology of modality. While the epistemological use of some of these principles is either philosophically implausible or empirically inadequate, the equivalence of ‘Necessarily p’ with ‘For all q, if q were the case, p would be the case’ is a suitable starting-point for an explanation of modal knowledge.
|Thomas Kroedel||PDF (528kb)|
Functionalism and the Metaphysics of Causal Exclusion
Given their physical realization, what causal work is left for functional properties to do? Humean solutions to the exclusion problem (e.g., overdetermination and difference making) typically appeal to counterfactual and/or nomic relations between functional property-instances and behavioural effects, tacitly assuming that such relations suffice for causal work. Clarification of the notion of causal work, I argue, not only shows that such solutions don't work, but also reveals a novel solution to the exclusion problem based on the relations between dispositional properties at different levels of mechanism. The solution involves three central claims: (i) the causal work of properties consists in grounding dispositions, (ii) functional properties are dispositions, and (iii) the dispositions of mechanisms are grounded in the dispositions of their components. Treating functional mental properties as dispositions of components in psychological mechanisms, I argue that such properties do the causal work of grounding agent-level dispositions. These dispositions, while ultimately grounded in the physical realizers of mental properties, are indirectly so grounded, through a hierarchy of grounding relations that extends upwards, of necessity, through the mental domain.
|David Yates||PDF (588kb)|
The Open Instruction Theory of Attitude Reports and the Pragmatics of Answers
Reports on beliefs, desires, and other attitudes continue to raise foundational questions about linguistic meaning and the pragmatics of utterance interpretation. There is a strong intuition that an attitude report like ‘John believes that Mary smokes’ can simply convey the singular proposition that the individual Mary is believed by John to have the property of smoking. Yet, there is also a strong intuition that ‘Lois believes that Superman can fly’ can additionally convey how an individual is represented (viz. as a superhero not as a reporter). Cases of this sort can be generated with any name in a suitable context (Kripke 1979). It is far from settled how this should be explained. I propose the Open Instruction Theory (OIT), according to which the linguistic meaning of attitude report sentences consists in instructions to create mental models, where those instructions leave open, depending on the state of the discourse, the possibility of singular interpretations as well as of complex interpretations including information about ways of representing. The account makes precise the idea that attitude report sentences with proper names are semantically nonspecific (Soames 2004), rather than indexical (Schiffer 2000), yielding predictions about syntactic constraints on interpretation. On this view, linguistic meaning itself does not provide determinate propositions. Since Gricean pragmatics requires determinate propositions as input, I propose new principles of pragmatics for literal utterance interpretation that do not require them but remain strongly constrained by linguistic meaning. The core principle is “inference to the most responsive interpretation.” Roughly, among the range of literal interpretations allowed by linguistic meaning, the listener generates the one that most fully answers the background question she seeks to answer by engaging in discourse. The pragmatics of literal utterance interpretation is the pragmatics of interpreting potential answers, even if communicative intention may be more important for conversational implicature. The account predicts cases in which our interpretations differ from what we would take the speaker to have had in mind. Singular interpretations of attitude reports have a special status as default interpretations. I suggest some advantages of OIT over indexicalist, DRT, and free enrichment theories. I argue that to the extent that we have to go beyond a strict principle of linguistic constraint (Stanley 2005), we should aim toward a principle of psychological constraint.
|Philipp Koralus||PDF (1.0mb)|
Thank Goodness that Argument is Over: Explaining the Temporal Value Asymmetry
An important feature of life is the temporal value asymmetry. Not to be confused with temporal discounting, the value asymmetry is the fact that we prefer future rather than past preferences be satisfied. Misfortunes are better in the past--where they are "over and done"--than in the future. Using recent work in empirical psychology and evolutionary theory, we develop a theory of the nature and causes of the temporal value asymmetry. The account we develop undercuts philosophy of time arguments such as that of Prior (1959), but more importantly, also begins a serious study of an interesting but understudied feature of our valuations and emotional attitudes. While in the spirit of certain past sketches about the possible origins of the temporal value asymmetry, our theory improves on them in many significant respects and suggests many clear avenues of future study. More generally, our hope is that work on the temporal value asymmetry will eventually attain the degree of rigor and explanatory power that the discounting asymmetry presently enjoys, for like this latter asymmetry, we believe the temporal value asymmetry has relevance to many practical issues in decision-making. Our paper can thus be seen as a call for a more unified methodological treatment of the two temporal asymmetries.
|Christopher Suhler; Craig Callender||PDF (231kb)|
Descartes, Other Minds and Impossible Human Bodies
I have three aims in this paper. First, I show that in order to motivate skepticism about other minds it is necessary to have both the right conception of the human body – alive and fully functioning without a connection to the mind – and the right conception of the mind – knowable directly in our own case and without the need for inference. Second, while the seventeenth-century Cartesian Gerauld de Cordemoy had the right conception of the human body and the right conception of the mind, and likely wrote the first self-standing monograph dedicated to skepticism about other minds, I show that René Descartes lacked the right conception of the human body. Instead, Descartes always maintained that the living functioning human body exists with a mind. Finally, I show that when responding to skepticism about other minds at the prompting of Henry More, Descartes did not appeal to competent language use but to natural facts about the origin of the human body. This serves to reiterate that for Descartes where there are living human bodies there are always minds. These results challenge us to reexamine the human body’s place in Descartes’ physics of extended matter. I explore this last point in my concluding remarks.
|Gideon Manning||PDF (627kb)|
Medieval Approaches to Consciousness: Ockham and Chatton
My aim in this paper is to advance our understanding of medieval theories of consciousness. I focus on a particular historical debate between William Ockham (d. 1349) and Walter Chatton (d. 1343) over the nature and proper analysis of self-knowledge. My central contention is that the positions that emerge from this debate represent the two main types of approach to consciousness that can be found in the late medieval period generally. On one approach, consciousness is explained in terms of intentionality (typically, higher-order intentionality); on the other, it is understood as a non-intentional, sui generis mode of awareness.
|Susan Brower-Toland||PDF (964kb)|
Belief and Difficult Action
Suppose you decide or promise to do something that you have evidence is difficult to do. Should you believe that you will do it? On the one hand, if you believe that you will do it, your belief goes against the evidence—since having evidence that it’s difficult to do it constitutes evidence that it is likely that you won’t do it. On the other hand, if you don’t believe that you will do it but instead believe, as your evidence suggests, that it is likely that you will fail, your decision is not serious and your promise is not sincere. This problem—I call it the Epistemological Problem of Difficult Action—is a pressing philosophical problem that each of us faces. In this paper I consider several possible responses to it. I conclude that the right response is to say that we should believe against the evidence. Cases in which we decide or promise to do something that we have evidence is difficult to do are the best counterexamples to evidentialism.
|Berislav Marušić||PDF (665kb)|
Abstraction and the Origin of General Ideas
Philosophers have often claimed that general ideas or representations have their origin in abstraction, but it remains unclear exactly what abstraction as a psychological process consists in. We argue that the Lockean aspiration of using abstraction to explain the origins of all general representations cannot work and that at least some general representations have to be innate. We then offer an explicit framework for understanding abstraction, one that treats abstraction as a computational process that operates over an innate quality space of fine-grained general representations. We argue that this framework has important philosophical implications for the nativism-empiricism dispute, for questions about the acquisition of unstructured representations, and for questions about the relation between human and animal minds.
|Stephen Laurence; Eric Margolis||PDF (563kb)|