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Displaying: 1-20 of 45 documents


the woodbridge lectures 2020
1. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 11/12
John MacFarlane Indeterminacy as Indecision, Lecture I: Vagueness and Communication
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I can say that a building is tall and you can understand me, even if neither of us has any clear idea exactly how tall a building must be in order to count as tall. This mundane fact poses a problem for the view that successful communication consists in the hearer’s recognition of the proposition a speaker intends to assert. The problem cannot be solved by the epistemicist’s usual appeal to anti-individualism, because the extensions of vague words like ‘tall’ are contextually fluid and can be constrained significantly by speakers’ intentions. The problem can be seen as a special case of a more general problem concerning what King has called “felicitous underspecification.” Traditional theories of vagueness offer nothing that can help with this problem. Appeals to diagonalization do not help either. A more radical solution is needed.
2. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 11/12
John MacFarlane Indeterminacy as Indecision, Lecture II: Seeing through the Clouds
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One approach to the problem is to keep the orthodox notion of a proposition but innovate in the theory of speech acts. A number of philosophers and linguists have suggested that, in cases of felicitous underspecification, a speaker asserts a “cloud” of propositions rather than just one. This picture raises a number of questions: what norms constrain a “cloudy assertion,” what counts as uptake, and how is the conversational common ground revised if it is accepted? I explore three different ways of answering these questions, due to Braun and Sider, Buchanan, and von Fintel and Gillies. I argue that none of them provide a good general response to the problem posed by felicitous underspecification. However, the problems they face point the way to a more satisfactory account, which innovates in the theory of content rather than the theory of speech acts.
3. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 11/12
John MacFarlane Indeterminacy as Indecision, Lecture III: Indeterminacy as Indecision
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This lecture presents my own solution to the problem posed in Lecture I. Instead of a new theory of speech acts, it offers a new theory of the contents expressed by vague assertions, along the lines of the plan expressivism Allan Gibbard has advocated for normative language. On this view, the mental states we express in uttering vague sentences have a dual direction of fit: they jointly constrain the doxastic possibilities we recognize and our practical plans about how to draw boundaries. With this story in hand, I reconsider some of the traditional topics connected with vagueness: bivalence, the sorites paradox, higher-order vagueness, and the nature of vague thought. I conclude by arguing that the expressivist account can explain, as its rivals cannot, what makes vague language useful.
4. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 11/12
New Books: Anthologies
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5. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 11/12
Call for Submissions: The Isaac Levi Prize
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6. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 11/12
Index to Volume CXVII
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7. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 10
Jessica Isserow Moral Worth: Having It Both Ways
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It is commonly recognized that one can act rightly without being praiseworthy for doing so. Those who act rightly from ignoble motives, for instance, do not strike us as fitting targets of moral praise; their actions seem to lack moral worth. Though there is broad agreement that only certain kinds of motives confer moral worth on our actions, there is disagreement as to which ones are up to the task. Many theorists confine themselves to two possibilities: praiseworthy agents are thought to be motivated by either (1) the consideration that their actions are morally right, or (2) the considerations that explain why their actions are morally right (where the ‘or’ is exclusive). Though there is an important element of truth in these proposals, each has limited explanatory purchase. In this paper, I develop a pluralist conception of moral worth that acknowledges both sorts of motives as grounds for moral praise.
8. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 10
Michael J. Raven Is Logic Out of This World?
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Is logic out of this world? This elusive question reveals a tension in our thinking about the basis of logic: both worldly and unworldly answers get something right and yet they conflict. My aim is to clarify the question and explore a conciliatory answer. I focus on a characterization of unworldliness in terms of ground. This allows for a distinction between proximal and distal unworldliness. That in turn reconfigures our approach to the question. It may now be taken as asking for the proximal or the distal basis of logic. This helps alleviate the tension because the answer for the one need not conflict with a different answer for the other. I explore a case study culminating in an illustration of how a logical truth may indeed be proximally worldly but distally unworldly. I conclude by considering some potential extensions.
9. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 10
Johan E. Gustafsson, Wlodek Rabinowicz A Simpler, More Compelling Money Pump with Foresight
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One might think that money pumps directed at agents with cyclic preferences can be avoided by foresight. This view was challenged two decades ago by the discovery of a money pump with foresight, which works against agents who use backward induction. But backward induction implausibly assumes that the agent would act rationally and retain her trust in her future rationality even at choice nodes that could only be reached if she were to act irrationally. This worry does not apply to BI-terminating decision problems, where at each choice node backward induction prescribes a move that terminates further action. For BI-terminating decision problems, it is enough to assume that rationality and trust in rationality are retained at choice nodes reachable by rational moves. The old money pump with foresight was not BI-terminating. In this paper, we present a new money pump with foresight, one that is both BI-terminating and considerably simpler.
10. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 10
New Books: Anthologies
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11. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 10
Call for Submissions: The Isaac Levi Prize
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12. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 9
Santiago Echeverri Guarantee and Reflexivity
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The rule account of self-conscious thought holds that a thought is self-conscious if and only if it contains a token of a concept-type that is governed by a reflexive rule. An account along these lines was discussed in the late 1970s. Nevertheless, very few philosophers endorse it nowadays. I shall argue that this summary dismissal is partly unjustified. There is one version of the rule account that can explain a key epistemic property of self-conscious thoughts: GUARANTEE. Along the way, I will rebut a number of objections and introduce two constraints on how the reflexive rule is implemented.
13. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 9
Alex Grzankowski Navigating Recalcitrant Emotions
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In discussions of the emotions, it is commonplace to wheel out examples of (for instance) people who know that rollercoasters aren’t dangerous but who fear them anyway. Such cases are well known to have been troubling for cognitivists who hold the emotions are (at least in part) judgments or beliefs. But more recently, it has been argued that the very theories that emerged from the failure of cognitivism (perceptual theories and other neo-cognitivist approaches) face trouble as well. One gets the sense that the theory that can accomplish this will win a crucial point over its competitors. In the present paper I offer a new approach to making sense of the normative tension to which recalcitrant emotions give rise. Interestingly, the approach is one that can be adopted by anyone willing to grant that emotions are themselves governed by norms.
book reviews
14. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 9
Christian Pfeiffer Timothy Clarke: Aristotle and the Eleatic One
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15. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 9
New Books
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16. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 9
Call for Submissions: The Isaac Levi Prize
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17. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 8
Wayne Wu Is Vision for Action Unconscious?
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Empirical work and philosophical analysis have led to widespread acceptance that vision for action, served by the cortical dorsal stream, is unconscious. I argue that the empirical argument for this claim is unsound. That argument relies on subjects’ introspective reports. Yet on biological grounds, in light of the theory of primate cortical vision, introspection has no access to dorsal stream mediated visual states. It is wrongly assumed that introspective reports speak to absent phenomenology in the dorsal stream. In light of this, I consider a different conception of consciousness’s relation to agency in terms of access. While theoretical reasons suggest that the inaccessibility of the dorsal stream to conceptual report is evidence that it is unconscious, this position begs important questions about agency and consciousness. I propose a broader notion of access in respect of the guidance of intentional agency as the crucial link connecting agency to consciousness.
18. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 8
Verónica Gómez Sánchez Crystallized Regularities
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This essay proposes a reductive account of robust macro-regularities (sometimes called “special science laws”). On the view proposed, regularities can earn their elite scientific status by featuring in good summaries of restricted regions in the space of physical possibilities: our “modal neighborhoods.” I argue that this view vindicates “nomic foundationalism” (that is, the view that the physical laws sustain all robust regularities), while doing justice to the practice of invoking physically contingent generalizations in higher-level explanations. Moreover, the view suggests an explanation for the particular significance of robust macro-regularities: we rely on summaries of our modal neighborhoods when reasoning hypothetically about “agentially accessible” possibilities.
19. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 8
New Books
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20. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 117 > Issue: 8
Call for Submissions: The Isaac Levi Prize
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