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81. ProtoSociology: Volume > 21
Alberto Peruzzi Compositionality up to Parameters
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The principle of compositionality (PC) claims that the meaning of a compound expression is determined by the meanings of its constituent expressions and the way they compose. Is it true or false? Does it apply to both natural and formalised languages? In order to answer, we must examine various formal versions of PC, the notion of meaning and the patterns of composition. Moreover, further principles are called for to determine its import and, in particular, its relationships with the Context Principle, which seems to be inconsistent with PC. The paper deals with some aspects of the issues involved, by considering both empirical and model-theoretic results on compositionality obtained in recent years. The main thesis is that only if the parametric form of PC is acknowledged, the above questions can receive a definite answer. To this aim, the paper makes the conditions for the consistency of PC with context-dependence explicit. Such conditions allow for the stability of a schematic conceptual/epistemic core, in contrast with the slippery slope leading to holistic pragmatism.
82. ProtoSociology: Volume > 21
Pauli Brattico On the Problem of Unspeakable Content
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There is compelling linguistic evidence that many words (e.g., boil) are derived from phrasal sources (e.g., cause to boil). Among causation, typical semantic primitives composing word meanings are becoming, having and getting. While linguists have argued that word meanings contain semantic knowledge that we can grasp but cannot express linguistically, Fodor and his colleagues maintain that words express primitive, semantically unanalysable concepts. Under this view, putative linguistic semantic decompositions express nonsemantic metaphysical regularities. After reviewing the debate, it is suggested in this article that semantic features that are linguistically salient and unspeakable emerge neither from the analytical connections between words, nor from the metaphysical structure of the world, but from the logical syntax of the grammar.
83. ProtoSociology: Volume > 21
Claire Horisk The Surprise Argument for Truth-Conditional Semantics
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Davidson’s Surprise argument promises to resolve a dispute that has arisen in contemporary formal semantics over the proper semantic value for a semantic theory. At issue are doubts that Pietroski raises about the compositionality of truth-conditions, and thereby about truthconditional semantics, which treats a truth value as the semantic value for a sentence. The dispute is recalcitrant because, as I show, Pietroski’s evidence that truth-conditions are not compositional can be explained away with attention to Cappelen and Lepore’s distinction between the truth of what is semantically expressed by an utterance and the truth of its speech act content. While the Surprise argument would, if it worked, support truth-conditional semantics, I demonstrate that it fails; in fact, it is peculiarly vulnerable to Pietroski’s concerns.
84. ProtoSociology: Volume > 21
Daniel Blair Contexts Crossed Over
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The recent interest in some of the phenomena traditionally associated with the context dependence of quantificational expressions (QPs) has centered around the idea that some constituents of a sentence might serve as the locus of domain restriction for QPs might be present but lack for overt manifestation. In this essay, one such argument – due to Stanley (2000) – is critically examined. Specifically, I will present a number of different kinds of constructions where the predictions of a theory based upon syntactically represented context variables are not confirmed.
85. ProtoSociology: Volume > 21
Marc A. Moffett Constructing Attitudes
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The singular term theory maintains that that-clauses are complex singular terms which designate propositions. Though extremely well-supported, the theory is endangered by the existence of oblique that-clauses; that is, that-clauses occurring in what appear to be nonargument positions (e.g., ‘Lola was upset that Slick Willy had all the fun’). In this paper I argue that the best solution to the problem consistent with the singular term theory, invokes a construction-based grammatical theory. Such an approach challenges traditional views of semantic compositionality by rejecting a central dogma of semantics, namely, that linguistic constructions contribute only trivial logical or quasi-logical information to semantic interpretation (e.g., function-application relations).
86. ProtoSociology: Volume > 21
Tim Kenyon Are Names Ambiguous?
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It is widely held that proper names are ambiguous in some sense, a view commonly associated with the theory that names are, when suitably idealized, semantically “rigid designators”. In this brief paper I suggest that, while some refinement of the concept of a name is surely appropriate, proper names do not very clearly meet the standards normally used to determine ambiguity. There is reason to regard shared names as semantically univocal, including some evidence from development linguistics to regard a grasp of names as having a metalinguistic descriptive aspect.
87. ProtoSociology: Volume > 21
Josep Macià Is Horwich’s Deflationary Account of Meaning an Alternative to Truth-Theoretic Semantics?
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In recent writings Paul Horwich has pursued two related aims: (i) To show “how small a constraint is provided by compositionality” (Horwich 1998, chapter 7, p. 183). “The compositionality of meaning imposes no constraint at all on how the meaning properties of words are constituted” (p. 154). (ii) To present a deflationary alternative to the “Davidsonian truth-theoretic perspective” (Horwich 2001) The paper has three sections: in section 1 I make some comments on compositionality, in section 2 I argue that Horwich does not succeed in achieving aim (i), and in section 3 I argue that he does not succeed either in achieving aim (ii).
88. ProtoSociology: Volume > 21
Julian Nida-Rümelin Why Rational Deontological Action Optimizes Subjective Value
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In present day philosophy there are two competing views regarding practical rationality: (1) Decision and game theory and economic theory have developed a theory of rational decision which has proven to be fruitful in many areas of social science. Practical philosophy should work with that paradigm (2) Economic theory and decision theory do not have an adequate account of practical rationality. The homo oeconomicus model is – at best – one perspective which competes inter alia with philosophical accounts of practical reason.In this article I try to show that these two seemingly opposing views are in fact compatible. I argue that consequentialism is an inadequate account of rationality because rational action is deontological in character. Nevertheless the decision theoretic conceptual frame should not be given up. Deontology and decision theory can be made compatible via comprehensive description of action. The conceptual frame of decision theory should be interpreted as coherentist, not consequentialist. With this intertretation deontological action, if rational, maximizes subjective value.
89. ProtoSociology: Volume > 21
Louise Röska-Hardy Reframing the Issues: On Donald Davidson’s Sea-change in Philosophical Thinking
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In his philosophy Donald Davidson developed original proposals, suggested innovative applications and moved philosophical debate forward by reframing key issues in analytic philosophy. In doing so, he attempted to bring about a profound transformation of the problems of modern philosophy by reframing philosophical issues. It is argued that essays in the collection, Donald Davidson, edited by Kirk Ludwig, show that the profound consequences of Davidson’s way of reframing issues about meaning, agency and mind have yet to be fully appreciated.
90. ProtoSociology: Volume > 21
Shmuel N. Eisenstadt The Transformations of the Religious Dimension in the Constitution of Contemporary Modernities
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This paper analyzes different aspects of the far-reaching resurgence or reconstruction of religions is taking place in the contemporary world. This resurgence is manifest among others in the rise of new religious, especially fundamentalist and communal-national movements, in the crystallization of new diasporas with strong religious identities, as well as far-reaching transformations of the major religious components in the constitution of contemporary collective identities and public arenas.The central focus of such reconstruction or reconstitution of the religious dimension in the classical model of the nation and revolutionary states was delegated or confined, is the transposition thereof from private or secondary public spheres, into the various political and cultural arenas and in the central frameworks of collective identities of many societies, thus greatly transforming the basic premises of the classical nation and revolutionary state. This resurgence of religion does not entail a simple return of some traditional forms of religion, but rather a far-reaching reconstitution of the religious component in new modern settings which transcends the vision of the “classical” cultural and political program of modernity and of the model of the modern nation state.
91. ProtoSociology: Volume > 22
Sofia Miguens D. Dennett’s brand of anti-representationalism: a key to philosophical issues of cognitive science
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Although D. Dennett is sometimes accused of insensitivity to ‘real’, first-person problems of the mind, his Intentional Systems Theory offers a comprehensive, cognitive science grounded, account of the nature of subjectivity. This account involves views on intentionality (concern­ing the nature of the representation relation, content, psychological explanation), consciousness (comprising a functionalist model, a second order, belief-like, theory of self-awareness, and a deflationary view of qualia), personhood and freedom of action (concerning what must be in place in terms of cognition for the mentalistic concepts of ‘person’ and ‘action’ to apply). Since Dennett defends that the principles for understanding intentionality and consciousness are the same, in order to understand his brand of anti-representationalism we must deal with both intentionality and consciousness. That is what I will do in this article. I will also discuss the metaphysical implications of anti-representationalism, and in general use Dennett’s work as a key to describe how a range of philosophical issues of cognitive science appear from an anti-representationalist point of view.
92. ProtoSociology: Volume > 22
Kent Johnson Externalist Thoughts and the Scope of Linguistics
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A common assumption in metaphysics and the philosophy of language is that the general structure of language displays the general metaphysical structure of the things we talk about. But expressions can easily be imperfect representations of what they are about. After clarifying this general point, I make a case study of a recent attempt to semantically analyze the nature of knowledge-how. This attempt fails because there appears to be no plausible bridge from the linguistic structure of knowledge-how reports to knowledge-how itself. I then gesture at some other places where the connection between linguistics and metaphysics is commonly, but illegitimately, assumed.
93. ProtoSociology: Volume > 22
Christopher Viger Presentations and Symbols: What Cognition Requires of Representationalism
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I consider how several results from cognitive science bear on the nature of representation and how representations might be structured. Distinguishing two notions of representation, presentations, which are cases of direct sensing, and symbols, which stand in for something else, I argue that only symbols pose a philosophical problem for naturalizing content. What is required is an account of how one thing can stand in for another. Milner and Goodale’s dual route model of vision offers a model for this ‘stand-in’ relation. Following this model, symbols must play a functional role of activating cognitive operations relevant to what the symbols stand in for. What emerges is an interconnected network of symbols whose tokenings are central – as opposed to modular – cognitive operations. A consequence of this view, which I call an acquired language of thought (ALOT) since most of the symbols humans use are the words of a natural language, is that the framework for central cognition is constructed during the acquisition of a natural language lexicon.Presentations and Symbols: What Cognition Requires of Representationalism
94. ProtoSociology: Volume > 22
Perceptual Content Elka Shortsleeve and Kelly Trogdon
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Any adequate account of the content of perceptual experience should meet the following four constraints. First, it should simply tell us what perceptual content is. Second, it should explain why some perceptual states are transparent in a manner no cognitive states are. Third, it should explain – perhaps explain away – the apparent discrepancy between the capacity for richness in representational detail of the content of perceptual states and the relative representational sparseness of the content of cognitive states. Fourth, it should provide intuitively acceptable accuracy conditions for perceptions. Our paper outlines an account of perceptual content that meets these desiderata, in addition to being simple and, we think, intuitively appealing.
95. ProtoSociology: Volume > 22
Diana I. Pérez The Nonconceptual Contents of our Minds
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The aim of this paper is to review the controversy concerning the nature of nonconceptual content, and its philosophical implications. I will focus the presentation on three topics: (a) the different motivations behind the postulation of nonconceptual content, (b) the arguments for nonconceptual content, and (c) the different characterizations offered of nonconceptual content (and the problem these definitions pose). In the last section of the paper I will mention the presuppositions behind this notion and analyze a couple of paradoxical theses that emerged from this discussion.
96. ProtoSociology: Volume > 22
Urszula Żegleń From Representation and Identification to Misrepresentation and Misidentification
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The paper advocates the representational approach to the cognitive system. The issue of representation is considered on the example of visual perception – wherein perception is treated as a complex cognitive process whose final stage is perceptual experience with non-conceptual content. A perceiver is not only able to individuate an external object, but to identify it visually as well. In the controversy between conceptualists and non-conceptualists I stand for the moderate position arguing for the claim that in the efficient human cognitive system non-conceptual perceptual representational content is complemented by conceptual one. The problem of misrepresentation in misleading perception is analyzed contextually as the problem of misidentification.
97. ProtoSociology: Volume > 22
Liza Skidelsky Personal-Subpersonal: The Problems of the Inter-level Relations
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Although the personal-subpersonal distinction was first proposed in 1969 by D. Dennett, it has been approximately in the last ten years that it has received in­creasing attention and has became a widely used distinction particularly in the philosophy of mind and cognitive psychology literature. While the distinction is ubiquitous there are a few recent proposals about the relationship between the levels, namely, inter alia, the mixed horizontal explanation (Bermúdez 2000), the semantic view of computation (Peacocke 1994), and interaction without reduction (Davies 2000a, b). In this paper I will first describe the way of understanding the distinction shared by the proposals aforementioned. Second, I will show some of the difficulties facing each proposal. Finally, I will suggest what I consider are the misleading assumptions that are at the root of the proposed strategies of inter-level relations.
98. ProtoSociology: Volume > 22
Anne Bezuidenhout VP-Ellipsis and the Case for Representationalism in Semantics
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The debate between representationalists and anti-representationalists in semantics is a debate about whether truth-conditions are or should be assigned directly to natural language sentences (NLSs) – the anti-representationalist view – or whether they are or should be assigned instead to mental representations (MRs) that are related to NLSs in virtue of the fact that the MRs are the output of an interpretive process that has as its input both representations of the lexico-syntactic structure of the NLSs and relevant non-linguistic assumptions that are accessible in the conversational context. I examine some recent work on VP-ellipsis with the aim of showing that discourse level factors play a crucial role in the ellipsis construal process and showing why a syntactic account that requires VP-identity is inadequate. I briefly sketch some views about the mechanisms involved in ellipsis construal. Views that posit operations on representations at the level of discourse structure are best placed to account for the range of evidence presented. Moreover, these accounts support a representationalist conception of natural language semantics, according to which NLSs are not themselves the objects that are assigned a denotational semantics, but rather are vehicles that project partial structures that are the input to inferential processes whose output are structures that can be assigned such a denotational semantics.
99. ProtoSociology: Volume > 22
Nicholas Rescher Science and Reality
100. ProtoSociology: Volume > 22
Steven Miller, Marcel Fredericks Mixed Methods and Ontological Commitments
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This article argues that the emerging field of Mixed Methods faces a series of challenges which must be addressed before the area can fulfill its potential. Foremost among these is the lack of attention given to ontological concerns. Specifically, Mixed Methods must examine what ontological commitments are made as the result of employing the range of typologies now discovered. It is argued that Mixed Methods presently lacks a clear conception of how its paradigm is significantly different from non-mixed methodological approaches. It is suggested that Mixed Methods adopt a “weak” minimal realist ontological stance that is rooted in a position called “measured realism.” It is also argued that such a position is required since the present reliance on pragmatism does not sufficiently address ontological concerns. Suggestions are made, by way of an empirical research example, as to plausible ways to handle the issue of ontological commitment.