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Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Thought Experiments and Platonism Part Two

Volume 7
James Robert Brown

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Displaying: 1-20 of 37 documents


articles
1. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Dunja Jutronić Introduction
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2. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Alex Barber Linguistic Structure and the Brain
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A popular interpretation of linguistic theories has it that they should describe the brain at a high level of abstraction. One way this has been understood is as the requirement that the theory’s derivational structure reflect (by being isomorphic to) relevant structural properties of the language user’s brain. An important criticisrn of this idea, made originally by Crispin Wright against Gareth Evans in the 1980s, still has purchase, notwithstanding attempts to reply to it, notably by Martin Davies and, indirectly, Christopher Peacocke. Wright’s objection seems to have been forgotten rather than seen off.
3. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Paul M. Pietroski Systematicity via Monadicity
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Words indicate concepts, which have various adicities. But words do not, in general, inherit the adicities of the indicated concepts. Lots of evidence suggests that when a concept is lexicalized, it is linked to an analytically related monadic concept that can be conjoined with others. For example, the dyadic concept CHASE(_,_) might be linked to CHASE(_), a concept that applies to certain events. Drawing on a wide range of extant work, and familiar facts, I argue that the (open class) lexical items of a natural spoken language include neither names nor polyadic predicates. The paper ends with some speculations about the value of a language faculty that would impose uniform monadic analyses on all concepts, including the singular and relational concepts that we share with other animals.
4. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Geoffrey K. Pullum, Barbara C. Scholz Systematicity and Natural Language Syntax
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A lengthy debate in the philosophy of the cognitive sciences has turned on whether the phenomenon known as ‘systematicity’ of language and thought shows that connectionist explanatory aspirations are misguided. We investigate the issue of just which phenomenon ‘systematicity’ is supposed to be. The much-rehearsed examples always suggest that being systematic has something to do with ways in which some parts of expressions in natural languages (and, more conjecturally, some parts of thoughts) can be substituted for others without altering well-formedness. We show that under one construal this yields a grossly weak claim that is not just compatible with a narrow version of associationist psychology but essentially coincides with a formalization of its descriptive power. Under another construal we get a claim (apparently unintended) that requires natural languages to fall within the context-free class, a claim that most linguists regard as too strong. Looking more closely at this proposed reconstruction of systematicity leads us to endorse, with further illustrations, the suggestion of Johnson (2004) that systematicity as a matter of substitutability of co-categorial constituents for one another does not appearto hold of natural languages at all. The appeal of the ill-delineated notion of systematicity may lie in the fact that within certain subclasses of lexical items mutual intersubstitutability does seem to hold, and theexplanation for that lies in a limitation on human memory: we simply cannot learn separate privileges of syntactic distribution for all of the huge number of words and phrases that we know.
5. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Guy Longworth Conflicting Grammatical Appearances
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I explore one apparent source of conflict between our naïve view of grammatical properties and the best available scientific view of grammatical properties. That source is the modal dependence of the range of naïve, or manifest, grammatical properties that is available to a speaker upon the configurations and operations of their internal systems -- that is, upon scientific grammatical properties. Modal dependence underwrites the possibility of conflicting grammatical appearances. In response to that possibility, I outline a compatibilist strategy, according to which the range of grammatical properties accessible to a speaker is dependent upon their cognitive apparatus, but the properties so accessible are also mind-independent.
6. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Steven Gross Relating Conscious and Unconscious Semantic Knowledge
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Normal mature human language users arguably possess two kinds of knowledge of meaning. On the one hand, they possess semantic knowledge that rationalizes their linguistic behavior. This knowledge can be characterized homophonically, can be self-ascribed without adverting to 3rd-person evidence, and is accessible to consciousness. On the other hand, there are empirical grounds for ascribing to them knowledge, or cognition, of a compositional semantic theory. This knowledge lacks the three qualities listed above. This paper explores the possible relations among these two kinds of semantic knowledge. Is the former derived from the latter? Do these ascriptions in fact characterize the same states albeit in different ways? Special attention is paid to the varying philosophical and empirical commitments that different answers incur.
7. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
M. J. Cain Language Acquisition and the Theory Theory
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In this paper my concern is to evaluate a particular answer to the question of how we acquire mastery of the syntax of our first language. According to this answer children learn syntax by means of scientific investigation. Alison Gopnik has recently championed this idea as an extension of what she calls the ‘theory theory’, a well established approach to cognitive development in developntental psychology. I will argue against this extension of the theory theory. The general thrust of my objection is that at the point at which children are acquiring knowledge of syntax they are not in a position to engage in far-reaching scientific investigation. Or, if they are, there are no mechanisms in place to ensure that their scientific investigations will generate a common body of knowledge so making linguistic convergence a mystery. That this is so is a product of two salient features of scientific confirmation. I will conclude that my objections to the theory theory put pressure on learning theories in general.
8. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Danielle Macbeth Logical Analysis, Reduction, and Philosophical Understanding
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Russell’s theory of descriptions in “On Denoting” has long been hailed as a paradigm of the sort of analysis that is constitutiue of philosophical understanding. It is not the only model of logical analysis available to us, however. On Frege’s quite different view, analysis provides not a reduction of some problematic notion to other, unproblematic ones -- as Russell’s analysis does -- but instead a deeper, clearer articulation of the very notion with which we began. This difference, I suggest, is grounded in their two very different conceptions of the nature of language / thought; and it grounds in turn two very different conceptions of the nature of philosophical understanding.
discussion
9. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Nora Grigore Michael Beaney on Frege and the Paradox of Analysis
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book reviews
10. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Adrian Briciu Insensitive Semantics: A Defense of Semantic Minimalism and Speech Act Pluralism
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11. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Nenad Miščević Oxford Studies in Epistemology: Volume 1
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12. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Vojko Strahovnik Principled Ethics: Generalism as a Regulative Ideal
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13. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Horia Tarnovanu Action in Perception
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articles
14. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Nenad Miščević Introduction
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15. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Nancy J. Nersessian Thought Experimenting as Mental Modeling: Empiricism without Logic
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The paper argues that the practice of thought experintenting enables scientists to follow through the implications of a way of representing nature by simulating an exemplary or representative situation that is feasible within that representation. What distinguishes thought experimenting from logical argument and other forms of propositional reasoning is that reasoning by means of a thought experiment involves constructing and simulating a mental model of a representative situation. Although thought experimenting is a creative part of scientific practice, it is a highly refined extension of a mundane form of reasoning. It is not a mystery why scientific thought experiments are a reliable source of empirical insights. Thought experimenting uses and manipulates representations that derive from real-world experiences and our conceptualizations of them.
16. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Dunja Jutronić Platonism in Linguistics
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Jim Brown (1991, viii) says that platonism, in mathematics involves the following: 1. mathematical objects exist independently of us; 2. mathematical objects are abstract; 3. we learn about mathematical objects by the faculty of intuition. The same is being claimed by Jerrold Katz (1981, 1998) in his platonistic approach to linguistics. We can take the object of linguistic analysis to be concrete physical sounds as held by nominalists, or we can assume that the object of linguistic study are psychological or mental states which presents the conceptualism or psychologism of Chomsky and that language is an abstract object as held by platonists or realists and urged by Jerrold Katz hinlself.I want to explicate Katz’s proposal which is based on Kant’s conception of pure intuition and give arguments why I find it implausible. I also present doubts that linguists use intuitive evidence only. I conclude with some arguments against the a prioricity of intuitive judgements in general which is also relevant for Jim Brown’s platonistic beliefs.
17. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Ksenija Puškarić Brown and Berkeley
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For J. Brown the essential feature of thought experiments is that they mobilize our intuition; the way they teach positive lessons to cognizers is by means of the intuition mobilized. The paper presents a problem for Brown with the help of a famous TE as counterexample. It argues that Berkeley’s master argument is a philosophical thought experiment that lacks a feature typical of platonic thought experiments -- intuitive grasp. If Berkeley’s argument is a thought experiment,as I’ve attempted to show, then we have a counterexample to Brown’s view that thought experiments are not arguments.
18. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Nenad Miščević Modelling Intuitions and Thought Experiments
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The first, critical part of the paper summarizes J. R. Brown’s Platonic view of thought experiments (TEs) and raises several questions. One of them concerns the initial, particular judgments in a TE. Since they seem to precede the general insight, Brown’s Platonic intuition, and not to derive from it, the question arises as to the nature of the initial particular judgment. The other question concerns the explanatory status of Brown’s epistemic Platonism. The second, constructive descriptive-explanatory part argues for an alternative, i.e. the view of TE as reasoning in, or with help of, mental models which can accommodate all the relevant data within a non-aprioristic framework (or, at worst, within a minimally “aprioristic”, nativist one). The last part turns to issues of justification and argues that the mental model proposal can account for justification of intuitional judgments and can also support the view of properly functioning intuition as an epistemic virtue, all within a more naturalist framework than the one endorsed by Brown.
19. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Andreas K. A. Georgiou An Embodied Cognition View of lmagery-Based Reasoning in Science: Lessons from Thought Experiments
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I consider how we might begin to redress a cognitive model for thought experimental and other imagery-based scientific reasoning from an embodied cognition viewpoint. The paper gravitates on clarifying tour issues: (i) the danger of understanding the genuine novelty of thought-experimental reasoning and other imagery-based reasoning as a product of ‘quasi-perceiving’ new phenomenology with the ‘mind’s eye’ (as asserted by quasi-pictorialist theories of imagery); (ii) the erroneous choice of units of analysis that assume equivalence of external reports of visual imagery with those internal structures that govern imagery-based reasoning, which are, as I will argue, largely linked to motor processes; (iii) the establishment of thought experimentation as imagery-based reasoning by providing evidence for the psychological necessity of imagistic simulation in thought experiments; (iv) a cognitive model for how learning via thought experimentation and other imagery-based reasoning takes place. The study was underpinned by constructivist assumptions. Case methodology was adopted, the case being a pair of final year A-level physics students. Data was collected through non-participant observation over two sessions of collaborative problem-solving. The tasks drew upon Newtonian mechanics.
20. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
James Robert Brown Comments and Replies
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I reply to a number of papers (published in Croatian Journal of Philosophy 7 [2007], 29-92 and in this issue) that stem from a conference in Rijeka on thought experinlents. These are papers by Ana Butković, Dave Davies, Boris Grozdanoff, Dunja Jutronić, Nenad Miščević, Ksenija Puškarić, and Irina Starikova. Their criticisms of my views are diverse, but one theme, perhaps inevitably, dominates the criticisms: the unworkability of my Platonism. I try to defend this and to adequately answer other criticisms, as well.