Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2004-05

June 3, 2005 12:00am

Session 8 3 June 2005

Jerrold Levinson (University of Maryland)

What are Aesthetic Properties?


Being an aesthetic realist is hard work. Derek Matravers has raised a number of concerns for the brand of aesthetic realism that I have defended in the past (see my “Aesthetic Properties, Evaluative Force and Differences of Sensibility”, in E. Brady & J. Levinson, eds., Aesthetic Concepts, Oxford UP 2001), and that I continue to defend, although with modification. Much turns on the nature of aesthetic properties, and on the reasons for acknowledging their existence. I here try to provide further illumination on both scores, suggesting in particular that many aesthetic properties can be viewed as manifest higher-order ways of appearing. Toward the end of my discussion I address the question of whether or not aesthetic properties are response-dependent, and conclude tentatively that some are, and some are not.


Session 7 22 April 2005

Michael Martin (University College London)

Sounds and Images: Why Sounds Don’t Depict


This paper starts with an observation: i.) One can hear sounds reproduced through mechanical or electro-mechanical reproduction; but ii.) One cannot see objects or other visible particulars through photographic reproduction. The aim of the paper is not to defend this claim, but to see what follows from it concerning the nature of the objects of sense and the contrast between hearing and sight. I shall argue that there is something special about both auditory perception and sight which makes room for the special features of imagery and depiction in the one case, and excludes it in the other. And correspondingly there is something about the different objects of perception for hearing and sight which allows for the former to be reproduced in a way that the latter cannot be.


Session 6 4 February 2005

Marco Santambroggio (Università di Parma)

Semantic Value


Let us call that feature of an expression (sentential as well as sub-sentential) which goes to determine the truth of any sentence in which it occurs, its semantic value. It is usually taken for granted, for all kinds of well-formed expressions, that their semantic values are simply their referents, whether or not these are mediated through senses or “modes of presentation”. (Here I take reference to encompass the relation between singular terms and objects, as well as that between predicates and their extensions, and that between sentences and truth values). Indeed, this seems to follow immediately from Tarski’s characterization of semantic theory as “the totality of considerations concerning those concepts which, roughly speaking, express certain connections between the expressions of the language and the objects and states of affairs referred to by these expressions” or, more briefly, “the relation between symbols and the world of non-symbols” (D.Lewis). I shall argue that reference is neither the most natural nor the best candidate for the role of the semantic value. What we shall put in its place will give us a semantic theory that, under certain conditions, coincides with the standard, classical semantics for first-order languages. But it also enable us to avoid Frege’s “puzzling conclusion” (in Gödel’s phrase) that all true sentences of a standard first order language have the same signification (as well as the false ones), and to lay the foundations of a truly “innocent” (in Davidson’s phrase) semantics for propositional attitudes. Moreover, solutions will be given to a puzzle recently rediscovered by Kit Fine, the “antinomy of the variable” and to other puzzles as well.


Session 5 4 February 2005

Jason Stanley (Rutgers University)

Knowledge and Relativism


In this talk, I will discuss relativism about truth as a way of accounting for our shifting intuitions about when subjects know and when they do not. I will argue that it is not a successful account of these intuitions.


Session 4 3 February 2005

Jason Stanley (Rutgers University)

The Interest-Relativity of Knowledge


In this talk, I will argue that whether or not someone knows that p depends not just on traditional factors such as evidence and reliability, but also on how much is at stake for the putative knower. I will show how this account gives a better explanation of the evidence that typically has been taken to motivate contextualism about knowledge attributions.


Session 3 21 January 2005

Isabel Góis (King´s College London)

Consciousness Eliminated


The aim of this presentation is to offer a more effective argument for consciousness-eliminativism than those already available in the literature. I will start with a brief account of what I deem to be the major flaw with the eliminativist strategy of people like George Rey, Patricia Churchland and Katheleen Wilkes, and then move on to my own argument for consciousness-eliminativism. This will consist in adopting a Minimal Operational Definition (MOD, for short) of consciousness – which is neutral between the ontological claims of both consciousness-friends and consciousness-eliminativists – and showing how on neither of it’s permissible interpretations (i.e., as picking out a Higher Order or a First Order property) do we have hope of finding a property that we can rely on to distinguish instances of consciousness from instances of non-consciousness. In other words, the phenomena circumscribed via MOD resists attempts at the sort of law-like generalized explanation that would support the idea that we’re dealing here with a natural kind. To make my case, I will argue in particular that both higher order and first order theories do not have the resources to explain away evidence that destabilizes their claim to having identified that property which is uniquely shared by the phenomena pointed at via MOD. Higher Order theories break under pressure from so-called mistaken reports as of consciousness, while first-order theories fail on account of the mismatch between what their own proposed criteria of consciousness (e.g., entering a global workspace) identifies as such and what MOD determined would count as consciousness, if anything does.  Faced with this result, consciousness-friends then have the option of either (a) go Mysterian and insist that consciousness is a natural kind phenomenon albeit one that is beyond our understanding; or (b) they can accept the eliminativist conclusion and stop worrying about consciousness. I will conclude by arguing that Mysterianism amounts to no more than a profession of faith. Moreover, its arguments for the inscrutability of conscious phenomena are poor. My advice, then, is that we forget about consciousness and proceed with the much more productive job of investigating how the various information processing systems in the biological brain hook up with the environment to produce intelligent behaviour.


Session 2 14 January 2005

Teresa Marques (Centro de Filosofia da UL)

Quando é o quê verdadeiro ou falso?


Quais as coisas que dizemos com propriedade serem verdadeiras ou falsas? Quando são tais coisas verdadeiras ou falsas? Pretendo oferecer uma apresentação acessível de algumas das questões centrais relacionadas com a verdade e a falsidade: qual a natureza dos portadores de valores de verdade? Quais as principais teorias sobre a natureza da verdade? Quais as mais representativas hoje em dia, e quais as suas limitações?  Será possível definir a verdade? Se não houver consenso quanto à melhor teoria, ou definição, da verdade existirá algum consenso sobre princípios mínimos, triviais ou intuitivos, que nos ajudem a elucidar e compreender adequadamente a verdade e a falsidade? É importante que se consiga ter uma perspectiva abrangente destas diferentes questões, e que se encontre algum consenso quanto a respostas possíveis. Os problemas relacionados com os portadores de valores de verdade e com as teorias da verdade estão no cerne de muitos outros problemas filosóficos, por exemplo problemas relacionados com a atribuição de valores de verdade, como o problema da indeterminação, da vagueza, dos paradoxos semânticos, ou da bivalência em geral, e problemas relacionados com o significado e conteúdo semântico, como, novamente, a questão da indeterminação semântica, a dependência do contexto, a questão do externalismo/ internalismo, a atribuição de atitudes proposicionais, a explicação racional do comportamento, etc. Um dos primeiros passos para se poder iniciar a discussão destes problemas consiste, precisamente, em começar por estudar as noções de portadores de valores de verdade, e as de verdade e falsidade.


Session 1 10 December 2004

Adriana Silva Graça (Centro de Filosofia da UL e Departamento de Filosofia da FLUL)

Acerca daquilo que é dito –  Põem os usos referenciais de descrições um problema à Teoria de Russell?


Nesta comunicação vou discutir a problema dos usos referenciais de descrições definidas. Estes usos são vistos por muitos como o maior problema que a teoria de Russell tem que enfrentar, dado que – aparentemente – ao ser usada uma descrição definida referencialmente, é comunicada uma proposição de natureza singular e objecto-dependente. Este resultado parece entrar em rota de colisão com o que a velha teoria de Russell fazia prever, a saber, que sempre que uma descrição definida é usada numa frase, é expressa uma proposição de natureza geral, objecto-independente. Não creio que a colisão seja inevitável, mas sim que é possível e desejável evitá-la. Para isso é necessário desenvolver uma teoria acerca daquilo que é dito a qual acomode o essencial que Russell descobriu – que há que preservar – e que ao mesmo tempo acomode a forte intuição de que nos casos em causa é comunicada uma proposição singular. Por meio de uma teoria deste tipo podemos integrar resultados só aparentemente incompatíveis e mostrar que os usos referenciais de descrições definidas não põem de facto um problema à velha Teoria de Russell.


> Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2003-2004

Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2002-2003