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Abstract: In the course of defending his view of the relation between the special sciences and physics from Jaegwon Kim’s objections Jerry Fodor asks “So then, why is there anything except physics?” By which he seems to mean to ask if physics is fundamental and complete in its domain how can there be autonomous special science laws. Fodor wavers between epistemological and metaphysical understandings of the autonomy of the special sciences. In my paper I draw out the metaphysical construal of his view and argue that while in a sense it answers Fodor’s question it is immensely implausible
Abstract: According to many forms of Externalism now popular in the Philosophy of Mind, the contents of our thoughts depend in part upon our physical or social milieu.1 These forms of Externalism leave unchallenged the thesis that the ~non-factive! attitudes we bear towards these contents are independent of physical or social milieu. This paper challenges that thesis. It is argued here that publicly forwarding a content as a supposition for the sake of argument is, under conditions not themselves guaranteeing the existence of that state, sufficient for occupancy of the intentional state of supposing that content. Because a saying may literally create an intentional state, whether one is in such a state does not depend solely upon how things are within one’s skin. Rather, even leaving content fixed, the attitude borne toward that content depends in part upon what norms are in force in one’s milieu
Abstract: It has become increasingly popular to suggest that non-individualistic theories of content undermine our purported a priori knowledge of such contents because they entail that we lack the ability to distinguish our thoughts from alternative thoughts with different contents. However, problems relating to such knowledge of 'comparative' content tell just as much against individualism as non-individualism. Indeed, the problems presented by individualistic theories of content for self-knowledge are at least, if not more, serious than those presented by non-individualistic theories. Consequently, considerations of self-knowledge give one no reason to embrace individualism. If anything, they give one reason to reject it
Abstract: 'Interpretational' accounts of meaning are frequently treated as incompatible with accounts stressing language's 'social' character. However, this paper argues that one can reconcile interpretational and social accounts by distinguishing "methodological" from "ascriptional" individualism. While methodological individualism requires only that the meaning of one's terms ultimately be grounded in facts about oneself, ascriptional individualism requires that the meaning of one's terms be independent of how others use theirs. Interpretational accounts are committed only to methodological individualism, while arguments for languages social character are best understood as attacks on ascriptional individualism. As a result, one can recognize language's social character and still be an interpretationalist
Abstract: There has frequently been taken to be a tension, if not an incompatibility, between "externalist" theories of content (which allow the make-up of one's physical environment and the linguistic usage of one's community to contribute to the contents of one's thoughts and utterances) and the "methodologically individualist" intuition that whatever contributes to the content of one's thoughts and utterances must ultimately be grounded in facts about one's own attitudes and behavior. In this dissertation I argue that one can underwrite such externalist theories within a methodologically individualistic framework by understanding semantic norms in terms of the need to reach, for each of one's terms, a type of "equilibrium." Each speaker's commitment to making her _own_ beliefs and applications consistent allows one to incorporate these 'external' factors into the contents of their thoughts and utterances in a way that remains methodologically individualistic. Methodologically individualistic accounts are typically taken to be unable to incorporate 'external' factors such as the world's physical make-up or communal usage because of arguments suggesting that the individual's own beliefs and usage underdetermine or even misidentify what, according to externalist accounts, they mean by their terms. These arguments, however, only seem plausible if one presupposes a comparatively impoverished conception of the individual's beliefs. The beliefs a speaker associates with a given term extend far beyond the handful of sentences they would produce if asked to list such beliefs. In particular, speakers have an implicit, but rich, understanding of their language, their world, and the relation between them. Speakers typically understand languages as shared temporally extended practices about which they can be, both individually and collectively, mistaken. Once this conception of language is taken into account, the ascriptions which purportedly forced 'non-individualistic' conceptions of content upon us (particularly ascriptions which seemed to tie what we meant to social use rather than our own beliefs) turn out to be ultimately grounded in the individual's own beliefs. Indeed, our self-conception does much more than merely underwrite 'non-individualistic' ascriptions..
Abstract: Temporal externalists argue that ascriptions of thought and utterance content can legitimately re?ect contingent conceptual developments that are only settled after the time of utterance. While the view has been criticized for failing to accord with our
Abstract: Temporal externalists argue that ascriptions of thought and utterance content can legitimately reflect contingent conceptual developments that are only settled after the time of utterance. While the view has been criticized for failing to accord with our
Abstract: Ascriptions of content are sensitive not only to our physical and social environment, but also to unforeseeable developments in the subsequent usage of our terms. This paper argues that the problems that may seem to come from endorsing such 'temporally sensitive' ascriptions either already follow from accepting the socially and historically sensitive ascriptions Burge and Kripke appeal to, or disappear when the view is developed in detail. If one accepts that one's society's past and current usage contributes to what one's terms mean, there is little reason not to let its future usage to do so as well
Abstract: Putnam and Burge have been viewed as launching a joint attack on individualism, the view that the content of one's psychological state is determined by what is in the head . Putnam argues that meanings are not in the head while Burge argues that beliefs are not in the head either, and both have come up with convincing arguments against individualism. It is generally conceived that Putnam's view is a version of physical externalism, which argues that factors in the physical environment play a role in determining the meanings of natural kind terms. Burge, on the other hand, is regarded as following up Putnam's argument to bring in factors in the social environment for the determination of belief. Burge's view has been commonly referred to as 'social externalism.' The general consensus in the field is that physical externalism and social externalism are compatible views. Furthermore, both Putnam and Burge seem to endorse each other’s position for the most part. In this paper, however, I shall argue against this general view to show that the two theories are deep down incompatible
Abstract: Social externalism is the view that the contents of a person's propositional attitudes are logically determined at least in part by her linguistic community's standards for the use of her words. If social externalism is correct, its importance can hardly be overemphasized. The traditional Cartesian view of psychological states as essentially first personal and non-relational in character, which has shaped much theorizing about the nature of psychological explanation, would be shown to be deeply flawed
Abstract: No longer is sociality the preserve of the social sciences, or ‘‘culture’’ the preserve of the humanities or anthropology. By the same token, cognition is no longer the sole preserve of the cognitive sciences. Social cognition (SC) or, sociocognition if you like, is thus a kaleidoscope of research projects that has seen exponential growth over the past 30 or so years.
Abstract: Tyler Burge's (1979) famous thought experiment concerning 'arthritis' is commonly assumed to show that all ascriptions of content to beliefs and other attitudes are dependent for their truth upon facts about the agent's social and linguistic environment. It is also commonly claimed that Burge's argument shows that Putnam's (1975) result regarding natural kind terms applies to all general terms whatever, and hence shows that all such terms have wide meanings.1 But I wish to show here, first, that neither Burge's initial thought experiment nor a second type of example that Burge describes supports either of these conclusions. Second, I will identify the proper conclusion to draw from Burge's discussion and show that this conclusion does not really pose a serious problem for individualism about the mental. And finally, I will argue that Burge's discussion does not in fact provide a conclusive reason for believing its proper conclusion
Abstract: Ever since Putnam and Burge launched their respective attacks on individualist accounts of meaning the individualist has felt squeezed for space.1 Very little maneuvering room, it seems, is left for the philosopher who wants to deny that meaning and mental content depend on the speaker's social environment. One option, popular amongst individualists, is to grant that reference is socially determined but argue that there is nevertheless a notion of meaning or content that can be understood individualistically. That is, the individualist can opt for a