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21. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Ron Wilburn Knowledge, Content, and the Wellstrings of Objectivity
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In a number of recent papers, Davidson cultivates a new-found interest in “external world.” Starting from a naturalistic “attitude and method,” he purports to show that the skeptic's doubts are vacuous because the skeptic "does not understand his own doubts. ” His argument for this invokes a theory of cognitive content on which the traditional Cartesian picture of inference from inner to outer domains is allegedly turned on its head. On Davidson's alternative account, propositional thought is only made possible by a prior understanding of "objective truth,” where this notion is itself only given content by the presupposition of communicative exchange between speakers disparately located in a common spatio-temporal setting. What allegedly emerges is a comprehensive system within which the preconditions of meaningfulness effectively double as the preconditions of knowledge, providing an account of knowledge within which the skeptic has no room to maneuver. My concern in this paper is both with the semantic aspects of this account and with the epistemological consequences that Davidson sees as following from them. The story he tells, I argue, fails to prevent an alternative form of skepticism from arising from within his own naturalistic account of the nature and acquisition of knowledge. This is because a central contention of the account he provides is not only capricious, but implicitly at odds with his long-held views on the anomalousness of the mental.
22. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Wulf Kellerwessel Katz on Semantics and Pragmatics
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Jerrold J. Katz advocates a theory of semantics and pragmatics which is a realistic, platonic, anti-naturalistic, anti-psychological and non-fregean version of intensionalism. He intends by his approach to solve various substantial problems of philosophy of language (for example those dealing with “meaning” and “reference”).In the following, at first this theory will be presented shortly. This presentation deals primarily with the foundations of Katz' theory and his treatment of the important concepts “meaning” and “reference”. Secondly, it includes a discussion of some recent criticism (of P.A. Boghossian and of R.F. Gibson) concerning Katz' notions of pragmatics and semantics. At last, a shorter critical evaluation of the principles of Katz' theory follows.
23. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Anthony Brueckner Content Externalism and A Priori Knowledge
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M. McKinsey has argued that the externalist theory of mental content implies that one can have a priori knowledge of propositions that are in fact only knowable a posteriori. So, according to McKinsey, the externalist theory must be mistaken. A. Gallois and J. O'Leary-Hawthorne have formalized this argument. In this paper, I discuss their formalization and their criticisms of it.
24. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Consuelo Preti The Irrelevance of Supervenience
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Externalistic theses about the nature of content appear to have untoward consequences for the role of content in folk pscyhological causal explanation. Given the predominance of Twin Earth formulations ofexternalism, however, the explanatory role problem is often construed as the problem of content's failure to supervene on intrinsic states of the head.In this paper I argue that this is misleading. The most general formulation of externalism is shown to be independent of any supervenience claims. The result is that all concepts can be shown to be both externalist in individuation and irrelevant in causal explanation, whether or not they fail to supervene on intrinsinc states.
25. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Arnold Silverberg Semantic Externalism: A Response to Chomsky
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In this essay I respond to criticisms of semantic externalism that Noam Chomsky has presented in several recent publications. In the first section of the essay I present reasons to think that there are virtues to both semantic externalism and to semantic internalism, and that these two views are compatible. Linguistic items and intentional phenomena might have semantic content which is determined by factors external to their possessor, and also have semantic content which is determined by factors that are internal. In the second section I respond to Chomsky's argument that the cognitive sciences are internalist, and hence semantic reference has no place in naturalistic inquiry. I argue that the cognitive sciences are not exclusively internalist, that they are significantly externalist. In my discussion I attend mainly to the case of scientific studies of vision. In the third section I deal with issues specifically concerning language. I counter Chomsky's arguments that semantic reference can play no role in the scientific study of language; I argue that it in fact does play a role in significant developments that should be regarded as belonging to the scientific study of language. I also present considerations in defense of semantic externalism with regard to proper names and natural kind terms, and in defense of there being a social factor to semantic content.
26. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Michael Liston Externalist Determinants of Reference
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According to externalism, reference is a relation between uses of an expression and features of the environment. Moreover, the reference relation is normative (constitutive of correct semantic use), and the referential relata of our expressions are explanatory of successful language use. This paper largely agrees with the broad conception underlying externalism: it is what people do with words that makes them have the references they have, and the world constrains what people can successfully do with words. However, the paper strongly disagrees with the details (at least as usually presented). A centrally important feature of what people do with words is how they use them in inferential contexts. When due attention is given to the reference-determining role played by inferential properties of expressions, I argue, we arrive at a more satisfactory account of semantic norms and explanations. Much of the argument is based on a detailed look at the language of chemical classification used in the late 19th century.
27. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
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28. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
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29. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
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30. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Gerhard Preyer Interpretation and Rationality: Steps from Radical Interpretation to the Externalism of Triangulation
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In recent years Donald Davidson has outlined main features of a “unified theory” of language and action. The article tries to lay open the central theoretical steps one has to take from his “radical interpretation” to his theory of rationality and his triangulation model of externalism. It is argued that Davidson's reinterpretation of Tarski's T - sentences can be used to show a fundamental symmetry between representation and expression of propositional contents. Yet, his theoretical framework has to be enriched to deal with the problem of contextualism that arises from his redescription of utterance meanings. The paper shows in order to elaborate Davidson's claim that rationality is a normative concept one has to address the question of an internal relationship between radical interpretation, rationality and externalism.