Following Reichenbach, it is widely held that in making a direct inference, one should base one’s conclusion on a relevant frequency statement concerning the most specific reference class for which one is able to make a warranted and relatively precise-valued frequency judgment. In cases where one has accurate and precise-valued frequency information for two relevant reference classes, R1 and R2, and one lacks accurate and precise-valued frequency information concerning their intersection, R R2, it is widely held, following Reichenbach, that no inference may be drawn. In contradiction to Reichenbach and the common wisdom, I argue for the view that it is often possible to draw a reasonable informative conclusion, in such circumstances. As a basis for drawing such a conclusion, I show that one is generally in a position to formulate a reasonable direct inference for a reference class that is more specific than either of R1 and R2.
Assessment relativism, as developed by John MacFarlane, is the view that the truth of our claims involving a variety of English expressions—‘tasty’, ‘knows’, ‘tomorrow’, ‘might’, and ‘ought’—is relative not only to aspects of the context of their production but also to aspects of the context in which they are assessed. Assessment relativism is thus a form of truth relativism which is offered as a new way of understanding perspectival thought and talk. In this article, I present the main theses of assessment relativism, focusing in particular on highlighting the points of commonality and contrast with other forms of truth relativism. I then offer some critical remarks concerning the motivation of assessment relativism in relation to matters of taste.
There is a salient contrast in how theoretical representations are regarded. Some are regarded as revealing the nature of what they represent, as in familiar cases of theoretical identification in physical chemistry where water is represented as hydrogen hydroxide and gold is represented as the element with atomic number 79. Other theoretical representations are regarded as serving other explanatory aims without being taken individually to reveal the nature of what they represent, as in the representation of gold as a standard for pre-20th century monetary systems in economics or the representation of the meaning of an English sentence as a function from possible worlds to truth values in truth-conditional semantics. Call the first attitude towards a theoretical representation realist and the second attitude instrumentalist. Philosophical explanation purports to reveal the nature of whatever falls within its purview, so it would appear that a realist attitude towards its representations is a natural default. I offer reasons for skepticism about such default realism that emerge from attending to several case studies of philosophical explanation and drawing a general metaphilosophical moral from the foregoing discussion.
The philosopher wrote:
The big move in the statistics wars these days is to fight irreplication by making it harder to reject, and find evidence against, a null hypothesis. Mayo is referring to, among other things, the proposal to “redefine statistical significance” as p less than 0.005. …
On New Year’s Eve 2016, the Cologne Police Department proudly reported via Twitter that it was currently screening hundreds of “nafris” at the main train station in Cologne. The label ‘nafri’, used by the police to refer to North Africans, had its (public) linguistic debut in this tweet, which was immediately followed by national moral outrage.
A fictional text is commonly viewed as constituting an invitation to play a certain game of make-believe, with the individual sentences written by the author providing the propositions we are to imagine and/or accept as true within the fiction. However, we can’t always take the text at face value. What narratologists call ‘unreliable narrators’ may present a confused or misleading picture of the fictional world. Meanwhile there has been a debate in philosophy about so-called ‘imaginative resistance’ in which we are inclined to resist imagining (or even accepting as true in the fiction) what’s explicitly stated in the text. But if we can’t take the text’s word for it, how do we determine what’s true in a fiction? We propose an account of fiction interpretation in a dynamic setting (a version of DRT with a mechanism for opening, updating, and closing temporary ‘workspaces’) and combine this framework with belief revision logic. With these tools in hand we turn to modelling imaginative resistance and unreliable narrators.
Traditional oppositions are at least two-dimensional in the sense that they are built based on a famous bidimensional object called square of oppositions and on one of its extensions such as Blanche’s hexagon. Instead of two-dimensional objects, this article proposes a construction to deal with oppositions in a one-dimensional line segment.
The view that human communication is essentially a matter of sharing mental states, especially communicative intentions, has been immensely influential in pragmatics and beyond. Drawing together and elaborating various lines of criticism, I argue that this influence has been mostly harmful; in particular, it has misdirected research on the evolution and development of language and communication.
The study of iterated belief change has principally focused on revision, with the other main operator of AGM belief change theory, namely contraction, receiving comparatively little attention. In this paper we show how principles of iterated revision can be carried over to iterated contraction by generalising a principle known as the ‘Harper Identity’. The Harper Identity provides a recipe for defining the belief set resulting from contraction by a sentence A in terms of (i) the initial belief set and (ii) the belief set resulting from revision by ¬A.
In ‘Essence and Modality ’, Kit Fine (1994) proposes that for a proposition to be metaphysically necessary is for it to be true in virtue of the nature of all objects. Call this view Fine’s Thesis. This paper is a study of Fine’s Thesis in the context of Fine’s logic of essence (LE). Fine himself has offered his most elaborate defence of the thesis in the context of LE. His defence rests on the widely shared assumption that metaphysical necessity obeys the laws of the modal logic S5. In order to get S5 for metaphysical necessity, he assumes a controversial principle about the nature of all objects. I will show that the addition of this principle to his original system E5 leads to inconsistency with an independently plausible principle about essence. In response, I develop a theory that avoids this inconsistency while allowing us to maintain S5 for metaphysical necessity. However, I conclude that our investigation of Fine’s Thesis in the context of LE motivates the revisionary conclusion that metaphysical necessity obeys the principles of the modal logic S4, but not those of S5. I argue that this constitutes a distinctively essentialist challenge to the received view that the logic of metaphysical necessity is S5.
The ability to identify and understand rejection moves in dialogue is vital for successful linguistic interaction. In this paper, we investigate the different linguistic strategies available to express rejection and categorise them in a two-dimensional taxonomy. To wit, we categorise rejections by what aspect of their target utterance they reject and by how that rejection is expressed. Using this taxonomy, we annotate a set of 400 natural instances of rejection moves. From this data, we draw some tentative conclusions about the role of certain linguistic markers (such as polarity particles) with respect to the different strategies for expressing rejection.
The causal theory of reference arose from Saul Kripke's attack in Naming and Necessity on descriptivist analyses of proper names. His target was the view that, like most meaningful expressions, proper names express concepts that determine their extensions. In the case of names, these were thought to be individual concepts the unique instantiators of which were their referents. Since singular definite descriptions also express such concepts, it seemed obvious that names must be synonymous with descriptions associated with them by users. Kripke's attack on this view was an earthquake that shook the foundations of natural-language semantics -- despite the fact that proper names plays a very small role in the overall enterprise.
[warning: it’s proving hard to avoid typos in the formulas here. I’ve caught as many as I can, but please exercise charity in reading the various subscripts]. In the Lewisian setting I’ve been examining in the last series of posts, I’ve been using the following definition of indicates-to-x (I use the same notation as in previous posts, but add a w-subscript to distinguish it from an alternative I will shortly introduce):
The arrow on the right is the counterfactual conditional, and the intended interpretation of the B-operator is “has a reason to believe”. …
Suppose that it’s public information/common belief/common ground among a group G that the government has fallen. What does this require about what members of G know about each other? Here are three possible situations:
One knows who each of the other group members is, attributing to (de re) to each whatever beliefs (etc) are required for it to be public information that p.
One has a conception corresponding to each member of the group. …
Any philosophy of mathematics deserving the name “logicism” must hold that mathematical truths are in some sense logical truths. Today, a typical characterization of a logical truth is one that remains true under all (re)interpretations of its non-logical vocabulary. Put a bit crudely, this means that something can be a logical truth only if all other statements of the same form are also true. “Fa ⊃ (Rab ⊃ Fa)” can be a logical truth because not only it, but all propositions of the form “p ⊃ (q ⊃ p)” are true. It does not matter what “F”, “R”, “a” and “b” mean, or what specific features the objects meant have. Applying this conception of a logical truth in the context of logicism seems to present an obstacle. “Five is prime”, at least on the surface, is a simple subject-predicate assertion, and obviously, not all subject-predicate assertions are true. How, then could this be a logical truth? Similarly, “7 > 5” asserts a binary relation, but obviously not all binary relations hold. In what follows, I shall call this the logical form problem for logicism.
In a recent paper, Brian Rabern suggests a semantics for languages with two kinds of modality, standard Kripkean metaphysical modality as well as epistemic modality. This semantics presents an alternative to two-dimensionalism, which was developed in the last decades. Both Rabern’s semantics and two-dimensionalism are subject to a puzzle that Chalmers and Rabern (Analysis, 74(2), 210–224 2014) call the nesting problem. I will investigate how Rabern’s semantics answers this puzzle.
Gratitude is the proper or called-for response in a beneficiary to
benefits or beneficence from a benefactor. It is a topic of interest
in normative ethics, applied ethics, moral psychology, and political
philosophy. Despite its ubiquity in everyday life, there is
substantive disagreement among philosophers over the nature of
gratitude and its relationship to other philosophical concepts. The
sections of this article address five areas of debate about what
gratitude is, when gratitude is called for, and how the answers to
those questions bear on other topics in moral philosophy and
Many philosophers think truthmaker theory offers a correspondence theory of truth. Despite the similarities, however, this identification cannot be correct. Truthmaker theory offers no theory of truth, nor can it be employed to offer an acceptable substantive theory of truth. Instead, truthmaker theory takes truth for granted. Though truthmaker theory is not a correspondence theory, it shares with it the same motivational basis—that truth is worldly—and better accounts for what is pre-theoretically compelling about correspondence theories. As a result, those at all attracted to correspondence theory (including many deflationists) should reject it and accept truthmaker theory instead.
We present a construction of a truth class (an interpretation of a com-positional truth predicate) in an arbitrary countable recursively saturated model of first-order arithmetic. The construction is fully classical in that it employs nothing more than the classical techniques of formal proof theory.
I recently finished my first solo-authored book (available in all good bookstores in September!). Here’s a question: do I deserve any praise for doing this? Well, consider some relevant facts. …
Quasi-truth (a.k.a. pragmatic truth or partial truth) is typically advanced as a framework accounting for incompleteness and uncertainty in the actual practices of science. Also, it is said to be useful for accommodating cases of inconsistency in science without leading to triviality. In this paper, we argue that the given developments do not deliver all that is promised. We examine the most prominent account of quasi-truth available in the literature, advanced by da Costa and collaborators in many places, and argue that it cannot legitimately account for incompleteness in science: we shall claim that it conflates paraconsistency and paracompleteness. It also cannot account for inconsistencies, because no direct contradiction of the form α ∧ ¬α can be quasi-true, according to the framework. Finally, we advance an alternative interpretation of the formalism in terms of dealing with distinct contexts where incompatible information is dealt with. This does not save the original program, but seems to make better sense of the formalism.
J.K. Rowling introduced the name ‘Hermione Granger’ in the novel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and used it in a number of subsequent novels, including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.1 ‘Hermione Granger’ is a name from fiction. Gottlob Frege (1892) discusses names from fiction in “On Sense and Reference.” In this paper, I discuss views about names from fiction that are based on, or inspired by, what Frege says there. In Sections 2 and 3, I discuss views on which names from fiction refer to numbers or properties. In Sections 4 and 5, I discuss the view that names from fiction don’t refer to anything but express senses given by definite descriptions. We can distinguish three kinds of sentences (or three kinds of uses of sentences) that contain names from fiction.
We consider systems of rational agents who act in pursuit of their individual and collective objectives and we study the reasoning of an agent or an external observer about the consequences from the expected choices of action of the other agents based on their objectives, in order to assess the reasoners ability to achieve his own objective. To formalize such reasoning we introduce new modal operators of conditional strategic reasoning and use them to extend Coalition Logic in order to capture variations of conditional strategic reasoning. We provide formal semantics for the new conditional strategic operators, introduce the matching notion of bisimulation for each of them and discuss and compare briefly their expressiveness.
Actions can often be explained by beliefs and desires. Why is Mary flapping her arms like that? Because she wants Sam to laugh, and she believes that he will laugh if she flaps her arms like that. Very often such explanations appeal, as this one does, to a de se belief, a belief that one would naturally express using the first-person pronoun. Mary, for example, would presumably express her belief by saying, Sam will laugh if I flap my arms like this. A persistent theme in the literature on de se attitudes is that such attitudes enjoy a special connection to action. Is this right? If so, what is the nature of this special connection?
A widely made observation is that there is something that disfavors repeating names, and name-like terms, when they are intended to corefer. This paper investigates the sentence internal version of this penalty. I begin by relating it to a more general condition in Tom Wasow’s MIT dissertation that disallows an anaphor from having more information in it than that anaphor’s antecedent. I attempt to sketch how that condition can be viewed as a consequence of how the presuppositions of definite descriptions are accommodated. I then argue that Principle C is a related version of this process, but one that holds of function application rather than anaphora strictly speaking. This is an idea of Ed Keenan’s, which I modify so that it is related to the repeated name condition.
In the last post I set out a puzzling passage from Lewis. That was the first part of his account of “common knowledge”. If we could get over the sticking point I highlighted, we’d find the rest of the argument would show us how individuals confronted with a special kind of state of affairs A—a “basis for common knowledge that Z”—would end up having reason to believe that Z, reason to believe that all others have reason to believe Z, reason to believe that all others have reason to believe that all others have reason to believe Z, and so on for ever. …
What is it for two people to think of an object, natural kind or other entity under the same mode of presentation (MOP)? This has seemed a particularly difficult question for advocates of the Mental Files approach, the Language of Thought, or other ‘atomistic’ theories. In this paper I propose a simple answer. I first argue that, by parallel with the synchronic intrapersonal case, the sharing of a MOP should involve a certain kind of epistemic transparency between the token thoughts of the two thinkers. I then explain how shared words help bring about this transparency. Finally, I show how this account can be extended for thoughts expressed using demonstratives or indexicals.
We introduce Arbitrary Public Announcement Logic with Memory (APALM), obtained by adding to the models a ‘memory’ of the initial states, representing the information before any communication took place (“the prior”), and adding to the syntax operators that can access this memory. We show that APALM is recursively axiomatizable (in contrast to the original Arbitrary Public Announcement Logic, for which the corresponding question is still open). We present a complete recursive axiomatization, that uses a natural finitary rule, we study this logic’s expressivity and the appropriate notion of bisimulation.
We present a dynamic logic for inductive learning from partial observations by a “rational” learner, that obeys AGM postulates for belief revision. We apply our logic to an example, showing how various concrete properties can be learnt with certainty or inductively by such an AGM learner. We present a sound and complete axiomatization, based on a combination of relational and neighborhood version of the canonical model method.
The reading for today is chapter II, section 1 of Convention. In it, Lewis discusses a state of affairs, A, “you and I have met, we have been talking together, you must leave before our business is done; so you say you will return to the same place tomorrow.” Lewis notes that this generates expectations and higher order expectations: “I expect you to return. …