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No. Title/Abstract Author(s) Volume/Issue Date Downloads
05 The Psychological Basis of the Harman-Vogel Paradox

Harman’s lottery paradox, generalized by Vogel to a number of other cases, involves a curious pattern of intuitive knowledge ascriptions: certain propositions seem easier to know than various higher-probability propositions that are recognized to follow from them. For example, it seems easier to judge that someone knows his car is now on Avenue A, where he parked it an hour ago, than to judge that he knows that it is not the case that his car has been stolen and driven away in the last hour. Contextualists have taken this pattern of intuitions as evidence that ‘knows’ does not always denote the same relationship; subject-sensitive invariantists have taken this pattern of intuitions as evidence that non-traditional factors such as practical interests figure in knowledge; still others have argued that the Harman Vogel pattern gives us a reason to abandon the principle that knowledge is closed under known entailment. This paper argues that there is a psychological explanation of the strange pattern of intuitions, grounded in the manner in which we shift between an automatic or heuristic mode of judgment and a controlled or systematic mode. Understanding the psychology behind the pattern of intuitions enables us to see that the pattern gives us no reason to abandon traditional intellectualist invariantism. The psychological account of the paradox also yields new resources for clarifying and defending the single premise closure principle for knowledge ascriptions.

Jennifer Nagel vol. 11 March 2011
29 The Stoic Account of Apprehension

This paper examines the Stoic account of apprehension (κατάληψις) (a cognitive achievement similar to how we typically view knowledge). Following a seminal article by Michael Frede (1983), it is widely thought that the Stoics maintained a purely externalist causal account of apprehension wherein one may apprehend only if one stands in an appropriate causal relation to the object apprehended. An important but unanswered challenge to this view has been offered by David Sedley (2002) who offers reasons to suppose that the Stoics (or at least Zeno, the founder of the Stoa) did not make such a causal stipulation. I offer a defence of the traditional, causal reading against the challenges raised by Sedley but also argue, against the traditional view, that the Stoic account incorporated an internalist element. On the hybrid account defended here, in order to apprehend not only must the agent stand in an appropriate causal relation to the object apprehended but the agent’s appearance of the object must also be clear (a feature which is accessible to the epistemic agent). The traditional scholarly view rejects internalist interpretations because it is thought that such interpretations cannot make sense of the Stoics’ discussion of the ‘automatic assent’ produced by kataleptic appearances and a purely externalist view is taken to be charitable insofar as it saves the Stoics from a vicious regress which they would otherwise face (were they internalists). I defend an internalist interpretation against both these charges. The internalist element embraced by the Stoics does not lead to the problems it is often thought to and the account defended here not only does justice to the textual evidence but also sheds light on the Stoic debates with their sceptical opponents and grants the Stoics an epistemic account fit for purpose.

Tamer Nawar vol. 14 October 2014
35 An Essentialist Theory of the Meaning of Slurs

In this paper, I develop an essentialist model of the semantics of slurs. I defend the view that slurs are a species of kind terms: Slur concepts encode mini-theories which represent an essence-like element that is causally connected to a set of negatively-valenced stereotypical features of a social group. The truth-conditional contribution of slur nouns can then be captured by the following schema: For a given slur S of a social group G and a person P, S is true of P iff P bears the “essence” of G—whatever this essence is—which is causally responsible for stereotypical negative features associated with G and predicted of P. Since there is no essence that is causally responsible for stereotypical negative features of a social group, slurs have null-extension, and consequently, many sentences containing them are either meaningless or false. After giving a detailed outline of my theory, I show that it receives strong linguistic support. In particular, it can account for a wide range of linguistic cases that are regarded as challenging, central data for any theory of slurs. Finally, I show that my theory also receives convergent support from cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics.

Eleonore Neufeld vol. 19 2019
14 The Arts of Action

The theory and culture of the arts has largely focused on the arts of objects, and neglected the arts of action – or, as I call them, the “process arts”. In the process arts, artists create artifacts to engender activity in their audience, for the sake of the audience’s aesthetic appreciation of their own activity. This includes appreciating their own deliberations, choices, reactions, and movements. The process arts include games, urban planning, improvised social dance, cooking, and social food rituals. In the traditional object arts, the central aesthetic properties occur in the artistic artifact itself. It is the painting that is beautiful; the novel that is dramatic. In the process arts, the aesthetic properties occur in the activity of the appreciator. It is the game player’s own decisions that are elegant, the rock climber’s own movement that is graceful, and the tango dancers’ rapport that is beautiful. The artifact’s role is to call forth and shape that activity, guiding it along aesthetic lines. I offer a theory of the process arts. Crucially, we must distinguish between the designed artifact and the prescribed focus of aesthetic appreciation. In the object arts, these are one and the same. The designed artifact is the painting, which is also the prescribed focus of appreciation. In the process arts, they are different. The designed artifact is the game, but the appreciator is prescribed to appreciate their own activity in playing the game. Next, I address the complex question of who the artist really is in a piece of process art — the designer or the active appreciator? Finally, I diagnose the lowly status of the process arts.

C. Thi Nguyen vol. 20 2020
13 Generics, Conservativity, and Kind-Subordination

Many approaches to the semantics of generic sentences posit an unpronounced quantifier gen. However, while overt quantifiers are conservative, gen does not seem to be. A quantifier Q is conservative iff instances of the following schemas are equivalent: Q As are F and Q As are As that are F. All ravens are black is obviously equivalent to All ravens are ravens that are black, yet ravens are black is not equivalent to ravens are ravens that are black. This may cast doubt on theviability of quantificational analyses of generics. This paper proposes a theory of why such “conservativity” generics are problematic that is compatible with the conservativity of gen and also accounts for perennially troublesome examples such as books are paperbacks and bees are workers.

Bernhard Nickel vol. 18 June 2018
06 Ceteris Paribus Laws: Generics and Natural Kinds

Ceteris Paribus (cp-)laws may be said to hold only “other things equal,” signaling that their truth is compatible with a range of exceptions. This paper provides a new semantic account for some of the sentences used to state cp-laws. Its core approach is to relate these laws to natural language on the one hand — by arguing that cp-laws are most naturally expressed with generics — and to natural kinds on the other — by arguing that the semantics of generics in the context of the special sciences are best spelled out by appeal to natural kinds. The paper then goes on to draw on these semantics in order to illuminate several problems raised by cp-laws, some familiar, some new.

Bernhard Nickel vol. 10 July 2010
18 Conceived This Way: Innateness Defended

We propose a novel account of the distinction between innate and acquired biological traits: biological traits are innate to the degree that they are caused by factors intrinsic to the organism at the time of its origin; they are acquired to the degree that they are caused by factors extrinsic to the organism. This account borrows from recent work on causation in order to make rigorous the notion of quantitative contributions to traits by different factors in development. We avoid the pitfalls of previous accounts and argue that the distinction between innate and acquired traits is scientifically useful. We therefore address not only previous accounts of innateness but also skeptics about any account. The two are linked, in that a better account of innateness also enables us better to address the skeptics.

Robert Northcott; Gualtiero Piccinini vol. 18 2018
04 Causation as Folk Science

I deny that the world is fundamentally causal, deriving the skepticism on non-Humean grounds from our enduring failures to find a contingent, universal principle of causality that holds true of our science. I explain the prevalence and fertility of causal notions in science by arguing that a causal character for many sciences can be recovered, when they are restricted to appropriately hospitable domains. There they conform to loose and varying collections of causal notions that form folk sciences of causation. This recovery of causation exploits the same generative power of reduction relations that allows us to recover gravity as a force from Einstein's general relativity and heat as a conserved fluid, the caloric, from modern thermal physics, when each theory is restricted to appropriate domains. Causes are real in science to the same degree as caloric and gravitational forces.

John D. Norton vol. 3 November 2003
04 Non-Consequentialism Demystified

Morality seems important, in the sense that there are practical reasons — at least for most of us, most of the time — to be moral. A central theoretical motivation for consequentialism is that it appears clear that there are practical reasons to promote good outcomes, but mysterious why we should care about non-consequentialist moral considerations or how they could be genuine reasons to act. In this paper we argue that this theoretical motivation is mistaken, and that because many arguments for consequentialism rely upon it, the mistake substantially weakens the overall case for consequentialism. We argue that there is indeed a theoretical connection between good states and reasons to act, because good states are those it is fitting to desire and there is a conceptual connection between the fittingness of a motive and reasons to perform the acts it motivates. But while some of our motives are directed at states, others are directed at acts themselves. We contend that just as the fittingness of desires for states generates reasons to promote the good, the fittingness of these act-directed motives generates reasons to do other things. Moreover, we argue that an act’s moral status consists in the fittingness of act-directed feelings of obligation to perform or avoid performing it, so the connection between fitting motives and reasons to act explains reasons to be moral whether or not morality directs us to promote the good. This, we contend, de-mystifies how there could be non-consequentialist reasons that are both moral and practical.

Howard Nye; David Plunkett; John Ku vol. 15 January 2015