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22 The Absence of Reference in Hobbes’ Philosophy of Language

Against the dominant view in contemporary Hobbes scholarship, I argue that Hobbes’ philosophy of language implicitly denies that linguistic expressions (names) refer to anything. I defend this thesis both textually, in light of what Hobbes actually said, and contextually, in light of Hobbes’ desertion of the vocabulary of suppositio, which was prevalent in semantics leading up to Hobbes. Hobbes explained away the apparent fact of linguistic reference via a reductive analysis: the relation between words and things wholly reduces to a composite of the relation of signification between words and conceptions on the one hand, and the relation of representation between conceptions and things on the other. Intentionality, for Hobbes, accrues to conceptions, not words.

Arash Abizadeh vol. 15 August 2015
21 Insight Knowledge of No Self in Buddhism: An Epistemic Analysis

Imagine a character, Mary Analogue, who has a complete theoretical knowledge of her subject matter: the illusory nature of self. Suppose that when presenting her paper on no self at a conference she suffers stage-fright – a reaction that implies she is under an illusion of the very self whose existence she denies. Might there be something defective about her knowledge of no self? The Buddhist tradition would claim that Mary Analogue, despite her theoretical omniscience, lacks deep ‘insight knowledge’ into the reality of no self. The only way for her to gain insight, and thereby improve her epistemic status, would be to divest her mind of the self-illusion. In this paper, I offer an analysis of what could be epistemically involved in the process of acquiring such insight knowledge whereby one becomes, in Buddhist parlance, ‘awakened’.

Miri Albahari vol. 14 July 2014
18 The Problem of Respecting Higher-Order Doubt

This paper argues that higher-order doubt generates an epistemic dilemma. One has a higher-order doubt with regards to P insofar as one justifiably withholds belief as to what attitude towards P is justified. That is, one justifiably withholds belief as to whether one is justified in believing, disbelieving, or withholding belief in P. Using the resources provided by Richard Feldman’s recent discussion of how to respect one’s evidence, I argue that if one has a higher-order doubt with regards to P, then one is not justified in having any attitude towards P. Otherwise put: No attitude towards the doubted proposition respects one’s higher-order doubt. I argue that the most promising response to this problem is to hold that when one has a higher-order doubt about P, the best one can do to respect such a doubt is to simply have no attitude towards P. Higher-order doubt is thus much more rationally corrosive than non-higher-order doubt, as it undermines the possibility of justifiably having any attitude towards the doubted proposition.

David Alexander vol. 13 September 2013
17 Tarski and Primitivism About Truth

Tarski’s pioneering work on truth has been thought by some to motivate a robust, correspondence-style theory of truth, and by others to motivate a deflationary attitude toward truth. I argue that Tarski’s work suggests neither; if it motivates any contemporary theory of truth, it motivates conceptual primitivism, the view that truth is a fundamental, indefinable concept. After outlining conceptual primitivism and Tarski’s theory of truth, I show how the two approaches to truth share much in common. While Tarski does not explicitly accept primitivism, the view is open to him, and fits better with his formal work on truth than do correspondence or deflationary theories. Primitivists, in turn, may rely on Tarski’s insights in motivating their own perspective on truth. I conclude by showing how viewing Tarski through the primitivist lens provides a fresh response to some familiar charges from Putnam and Etchemendy.

Jamin Asay vol. 13 August 2013
09 Closure Reconsidered

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 vol. 12 April 2012