In this series of posts, I will raise some issues for the logical pluralism of Beall & Restall (hereafter 'B&R') - a much-discussed, topic-revivifying view in the philosophy of logic. My study of their view was prompted by Mark Colyvan, whose course on Philosophy of Logic at Sydney Uni I'm helping to teach this year. …
Suppose that you have been invited to attend an ex-partner’s
wedding and that the best thing you can do is accept the invitation
and be pleasant at the wedding. But, suppose furthermore that if you
do accept the invitation, you’ll freely decide to get inebriated
at the wedding and ruin it for everyone, which would be the worst
outcome. The second best thing to do would be to simply decline the
invitation. In light of these facts, should you accept or decline the
invitation? (Zimmerman 2006: 153). The answer to this question hinges
on the actualism/possibilism debate in ethics, which concerns the
relationship between an agent’s free actions and her moral
My grad student Christian Williams and I finished this paper just in time for him to talk about it at SYCO:
• John Baez and Christian Williams, Enriched Lawvere theories for operational semantics. Abstract. …
We demonstrate how deep and shallow embeddings of functional programs can coexist in the Coq proof assistant using meta-programming facilities of MetaCoq. While deep embeddings are useful for proving meta-theoretical properties of a language, shallow embeddings allow for reasoning about the functional correctness of programs.
In this paper, I develop and defend a new adverbial theory of perception. I first present a semantics for direct-object perceptual reports that treats their object-positions as supplying adverbial modifiers, and I show how this semantics definitively solves the many-property problem for adverbialism. My solution is distinctive in that it articulates adverbialism from within a well-established formal semantic framework and ties adverbialism to a plausible semantics for perceptual reports in English. I then go on to present adverbialism as a theory of the metaphysics of perception. The metaphysics I develop treats adverbial perception as a directed activity: it is an activity with success conditions. When perception is successful, the agent bears a relation to a concrete particular, but perception need not be successful; this allows perception to be fundamentally non-relational. The result is a novel formulation of adverbialism that eliminates the need for representational contents, but also treats successful and unsuccessful perceptual events as having a fundamental common factor.
Suppose something bad happens to my friend, and while I am properly motivated in the right degree to alleviate the bad, I just don’t feel bad about it (nor do I feel good about). Common sense says I am morally defective. …
We present an inferentialist account of the epistemic modal operator might. Our starting point is the bilateralist programme. A bilateralist explains the operator not in terms of the speech act of rejection; we explain the operator might in terms of weak assertion, a speech act whose existence we argue for on the basis of linguistic evidence. We show that our account of might provides a solution to certain well-known puzzles about the semantics of modal vocabulary whilst retaining classical logic. This demonstrates that an inferentialist approach to meaning can be successfully extended beyond the core logical constants.
In addition to the Frege point, Frege also argued for the force-content distinction from the fact that an affirmative answer to a yes-no question constitutes an assertion. I argue that this fact more readily supports the view that questions operate on and present assertions and other forceful acts themselves. Force is neither added to propositions as on the traditional view, nor is it cancelled as has recently been proposed. Rather higher level acts such as questioning, but also e.g. conditionalizing, embed assertive or directive acts that are forceful and committal, while suspending commitment to them. The Frege point confounds different varieties of force and the question whether something is merely presented for consideration with the question what is so presented. Force is representational: through assertoric and directive force indicators subjects non-conceptually present positions of theoretical or practical knowledge, while interrogative acts indicate positions of wondering which strive for such knowledge.
Part of knowing a language is knowing of a set of rules for using individual expressions and having a capacity for deriving more complex rules, rules for using whole sentences, from those simpler rules. This capacity helps to explain, among other things, how we can recover information about what a speaker was trying to convey even when we know too little about the surrounding context to determine exactly what they were saying. For all its intuitive interest, this capacity to derive more complex linguistic rules from simpler ones has gone relatively unexplored. We seek to fill this lacuna by offering a compositional model for linguistic rules based on Kaplan’s notion of character. To succeed in this, we’ll need to tinker with some of Ka-plan’s own starting assumptions. This tinkering allows us to say some helpful things about logical truth, presupposition, and the meanings of demonstratives—in addition to correcting some persistent misconceptions regarding the compositionality of character.
Agents make predictions based on similar past cases, while also learning the relative importance of various attributes in judging similarity. We ask whether the resulting "empirically optimal similarity function (EOSF) is unique, and how easy it is to find it. We show that with many observations and few relevant variables, uniqueness holds. By contrast, when there are many variables relative to observations, non-uniqueness is the rule, and finding the EOSF is computationally hard. The results are interpreted as providing conditions under which rational agents who have access to the same observations are likely to converge on the same predictions, and conditions under which they may entertain different probabilistic beliefs.
We finish this chapter by turning from illustrations of strategies for proof-construction to consider a basic issue of principle, one which we have so far passed quietly by. (a) Start from an example. Tachyons are, by definition, elementary particles which are superluminal, i.e. which travel faster than the speed of light. So, adopting a QL language quantifying over elementary particles, and with the obvious predicates, the following is true: (1) 8x(Tx ! Sx).
We identify several ongoing debates related to implicit measures, surveying prominent views and considerations in each. First, we summarize the debate regarding whether performance on implicit measures is explained by conscious or unconscious representations. Second, we discuss the cognitive structure of the operative constructs: are they associatively or propositionally structured? Third, we review debates about whether performance on implicit measures reflects traits or states. Fourth, we discuss the question of whether a person's performance on an implicit measure reflects characteristics of the person who is taking the test or characteristics of the situation in which the person is taking the test. Finally, we survey the debate about the relationship between implicit measures and (other kinds of) behavior.
I give a new argument for the moral difference between lying and misleading. First, following David Lewis (1983, 2002), I hold that conventions of Truthfulness and Trust fix the meanings of our language. These conventions generate fair play obligations. Thus, to fail to conform to the conventions of Truthfulness and Trust is unfair. Second, I argue that the liar, but not the misleader, fails to conform to Truthfulness. So the liar, but not the misleader, does something unfair. This account entails that bald-faced lies are wrong, that we can lie non-linguistically, and that linguistic innovation is morally significant.
Imagined interactions (IIs) occur when individuals recall past conversations with others as well as anticipate future ones. IIs intersect with the concept of inner speech, yet little is known about what elements IIs and inner speech share as well as how they differ. Information is offered about both Imagined Interaction Theory and inner speech, followed by a discussion pertaining to how they interact with other inner experiences. Results based on self-reported inner speech using a Thought Listing procedure are also presented. Two main conclusions are reached: (1) IIs constitute mental activities that do include one type of inner speech but which recruit additional components absent in the latter. (2) Inner speech includes IIs, but also encompasses many other topics and functions not present in, or served by, IIs. Consequently, inner speech and IIs ought not to be equated.
I show that standard dynamic approaches to the semantics of epistemic modals invalidate the classical laws of excluded middle and non-contradiction, as well as the law of ‘epistemic non-contradiction’. I argue that these heretofore unnoticed facts pose a serious challenge for these approaches.
Temporal notions based on a finite set A of properties are represented in strings, on which projections are defined that vary the granularity A. The structure of properties in A is elaborated to describe statives, events and actions, subject to a distinction in meaning (advocated by Levin and Rappaport Hovav) between what the lexicon prescribes and what a context of use supplies. The projections proposed are deployed as labels for records and record types amenable to finite-state methods.
One argument for Duality is that it makes sense of the ‘inescapable clash’ involved in asserting q if p and might not q if p: Throughout the paper I will restrict attention to a propositional language L , defined as follows: Definition 1. Let L be a language consisting of a set A of atomic formulae α, α , ..., closed under the connectives ¬, ∨, ∧, the indicative and subjunctive conditionals → and >, and the epistemic and subjunctive possibility modals ♦e and ♦. Say that a claim is boolean if it does not contain →, >, ♦e, ♦, or ∨.
What are the connections between the successful performance of illocutionary acts and audience understanding or uptake of their performance? According to one class of proposals, audience understanding suffices for successful performance. I explain how those proposals emerge from earlier work and seek to clarify some of their interrelations.
In 1963 Prior proved a theorem that places surprising constraints on the logic of intentional attitudes, like ‘thinks that’, ‘hopes that’, ‘says that’ and ‘fears that’. Paraphrasing it in English, and applying it to ‘thinks’, it states: If, at t, I thought that I didn’t think a truth at t, then there is both a truth and a falsehood I thought at t. In this paper I explore a response to this paradox that exploits the opacity of attitude verbs, exemplified in this case by the operator ‘I thought at t that’, to block Prior’s derivation. According to this picture, both Leibniz’s law and existential generalization fail in opaque contexts. In particular, one cannot infer from the fact that I’m thinking at t that I’m not thinking a truth at t, that there is a particular proposition such that I am thinking it at t. Moreover, unlike some approaches to this paradox (see Bacon et al. ) the failure of existential generalization is not motivated by the idea that certain paradoxical propositions do not exist, for this view maintains that there is a proposition that I’m not thinking a truth at t. Several advantages of this approach over the nonexistence approach are discussed, and models demonstrating the consistency of this theory are provided. Finally, the resulting considerations are applied to the liar paradox, and are used to provide a non-standard justification of a classical gap theory of truth. One of the main challenges for this sort of theory — to explain the point of assertion, if not to assert truths — can be met within this framework.
Consider two plausible ethical claims: (1) It's much worse to kill someone for money than it is to refrain from saving a life due to the monetary cost. (2) There's no intrinsic or fundamental significance to the distinctions between doing and allowing, killing vs letting die, etc. …
Parametric context-sensitivity is a recognized but under-theorized form of context-sensitivity—under-theorized especially as compared to the sort of indexicality Kaplan [1977/1989] brought into focus. I single it out for attention here, using three case studies as stalking horses. The idea is to show that getting straight about parametric context-sensitivity is clarifying for a number of foundational semantic issues. Starting with modals, I argue that parametric context-sensitivity problematizes prevailing definitions of context-sensitivity, and offer alternative definitions. Turning next to variables (pronouns, and things like them), I bring out the way in which parametric context-sensitivity problematizes the idea that content is compositional, coming at Rabern ’s insights from another direction. Clarity about the possibilities for parametrically contextualist analyses of pronouns helps in distinguishing several kinds of monstrous operations, and helps bring into focus what is at issue in the question whether (as Santorio  has recently argued) the role of context in semantics is entirely post-semantic. (In a sequel to this paper, I turn to the third case study: indicative conditionals.)
Abū Naṣr al-Fārābī (Iraq,
c. 870–c. 950) devoted his career to introducing the work of
Aristotle to educated Arabic-speaking citizens of the Islamic Empire. Several of his major writings are lost in whole or part. But many of
his books explaining Aristotle’s Organon (the
collection of Aristotle’s writings on logic and related
subjects) have survived, and the number of them available in Western
translations is increasing steadily. For general information on
al-Fārābī see the entry on
Al-Farabi. Al-Fārābī studies the various roles of language in
human life and society. He emphasises the use of language to convey
information, to ask questions and resolve disagreements, and to
describe distinctions and classifications.
There are different ways to formalise roughly the same knowledge, which negatively affects ontology reuse and alignment and other tasks such as formalising competency questions automatically. We aim to shed light on, and make more precise, the intuitive notion of such ‘representation styles’ through characterising their inherent features and the dimensions by which a style may differ. This has led to a total of 28 different traits that are partitioned over 10 dimensions. The operationalisability was assessed through an evaluation of 30 ontologies on those dimensions and applicable values. It showed that it is feasible to use the dimensions and values and resulting in three easily recognisable types of ontologies. Most ontologies had clearly one or the other trait, whereas some were inherently mixed due to inclusion of different and conflicting design decisions.
Just because you think (2) that the animal is a fish and (1) that if it’s a fish, then if it has lungs, it’s a lungfish, doesn’t mean you should think (3) that if the animal has lungs, then it’s a lungfish. Indeed, it seems reasonable to conjecture that if it has lungs, it’s not a fish at all. So it seems reasonable to accept (1) and (2) while judging (3) to be utterly unacceptable.
Suppose you say to yourself “If I cut the pie the way it should be then meanings must be in the head!” In other, less catchy words: expressions of natural languages understood by intrinsically identical people must have the same meaning. What could meanings be if this is true? The standard answer is that they could be concepts – composable mental symbols – assembled in the minds of those who interpret linguistic expressions. For example, the meaning of ‘mothers’ could be a complex concept built from the meanings of its constituents (presumably, the noun ‘mother’ and the plural morpheme ‘-s’) in a way corresponding to its morpho-syntactic structure.
Parametric context-sensitivity is a recognized but under-theorized form of context-sensitivity—under-theorized especially as compared to the sort of indexicality Kaplan [1977/1989] brought into focus. I single it out for attention here, using three case studies as stalking horses. Starting with modals, I bring out how parametric context-sensitivity problematizes prevailing definitions of context-sensitivity, and offer improved definitions.
Oscar Murillo’s terrific new exhibition in Cambridge is called “Violent Amnesia”. And I too have obviously been afflicted by a bad temporary bout of amnesia! It suddenly all came back to me. In 2007, Dale Jacquette published a new translation of Frege’s The Foundations of Arithmetics. …
Stephen Yablo’s new book seeks to rehabilitate the notion of subject matter, which has been largely discarded within the theory of meaning. The project is immensely significant: it promises to reorient semantic theory and throws a fresh light on a number of recalcitrant problems, including confirmation, verisimilitude, knowledge attributions, enthymatic reasoning, pretense, and presupposition. In this commentary, I try to do two things: present Yablo’s view on subject matter as a way of fixing a problem within the classic Fregean theory of meaning, and then argue that the proposal needs one additional repair.
As teorias sensoriomotoras da percepção afirmam que a ação é um componente constitutivo da ação. Noë, por exemplo, na primeira página do seu livro Action in Perception, alega que “o que percebemos é determinado pelo que nós fazemos (ou o que nós sabemos como fazer)” (2006, p. 1, ênfases do autor). Mas como a ação participa constitutivamente da percepção? A ideia básica é que perceber em si mesmo envolve o entendimento dos efeitos dos movimentos sobre o fluxo das nossas experiências. A percepção, nesta concepção, não se reduz à experiência instantânea e pontual, aqui entendida como a maneira como algo nos aparece em um instante a partir de uma perspectiva particular, muito menos às sensações associadas a essa experiência. Assim, sou capaz de perceber a garrafa de água sobre a mesa porque tenho um entendimento de como ela apareceria para mim se me aproximasse ou me afastasse dela, ou de como ela apareceria para mim se eu a agarrasse e a girasse. A garrafa como um todo me é dada na percepção em virtude desse entendimento. Sem esse horizonte de inteligibilidade conectando ações e variações nas aparências de um objeto, eu poderia ter experiências desconectadas causadas pela presença desse objeto, mas não percepções. A percepção, portanto, envolve o entendimento de relações entre ações e variações no fluxo da experiência ou no modo como as coisas nos aparecem.
De ira is, as Seneca states in the beginning, a treatise on how to alleviate anger. While other emotions may still have something calm about them, anger, according to Seneca, is all excitement, raging towards vengeance (1.1.1). The idea that we should aim at getting rid of anger is tied to the theoretical discussion of anger: once we understand what we actively do when we experience anger, we can stop short of getting angry. De ira stands within a Stoic tradition of discussing the therapy of the emotions. Seneca’s concern with anger is not only in line with the general Stoic conviction that emotions are irrational, but also with a more widespread ancient interest in anger as a particularly violent emotion. However, in spite of the particular attention that is devoted to anger, it seems that, of all emotions, anger is surprisingly difficult to understand within the Stoic framework.