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'Faultless Disagrement'?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

One of the issues we have sometimes discussed at the Relativism Seminar is faultless disagreement. The notion comes, I take it, from Crispin’s discourse failing to exert cognitive command, but I don’t remember if the phrase occurs already in Truth & Objectivity.

In any case, I was thinking it would be appropriate to characterize it terms along the lines of: there are possible contrasting variation in judgements about issues in the domain that does not involve fault in any of the participants. If something like this is adopted, then the appearance of faultless disagreement seems to be a (neutral) datum for relativists and non-relativists alike: different relativisms (moderate and radical, indexical and non-indexical) offer different accounts of how to endorse such appearances, whereas realist, insensitive invariantist alternatives try to explain such appearances away.

(Of course, as Elia has observed, crucial work should be done by 'contrasting' in the suggested characterization—otherwise judgements expressible by ‘I am tired’ and ‘I am not tired’ would qualify. For my own elaboration, see this paper.)

Some other people (see for instance Max‘Faultless Disagreement’) require further that there be a single content or proposition which is contrastingly judged. According to this more restricted sense, it seems to me, it can no longer be just taken for granted that there seems to be faultless disagreement, nor all versions of relativism would endorse the appearances – notably, indexical versions would not. These I take to favor the more liberal usage I suggested.

Any thoughts?
 

Worlds and Times Enough or Locations?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Last year we discussed Andy Egan’s ‘Second-Order Predication and the Metaphysics of Properties’ (AJP 82 (2004), 4867), at the Metaphysics Reading Group in a couple of sessions.

In the paper, it is argued that properties should be identified with functions from worlds to extensions, as a way of solving the following problem: If properties are sets of (possible) instances, things that exist in more than one world can’t have any of their properties contingently. Properties like being green exists in more than one world, but have some properties contingently: being somebody’s favourite property.

Then, although more tentatively, it is argued that properties should be identified with functions from worlds and times to extensions, as a way of solving the following problem: If properties are functions from worlds to extensions, then things without temporal parts can’t have any of their properties at some but not other times. Properties like being bent don’t have temporal parts, but have some properties at some but not other times: being coinstantiated with being hungry.

I think I am generally sympathetic, but I was concerned that the same kind of reasoning would also motivate that properties should be identified with functions from worlds and times and places (or locations, for short) to extensions. After all, (i) “Second-order predication” of properties such as having many instances around seem to pose similar problems to the world-time proposal, by being possibly true at some places but not others; (ii) there seem to be parallel cases of spatially self-locating attitudes; and (iii) the response to Lewis' concern seems similarly effective as to defend the world-time-place proposal from the charge that these are relations rather than properties.

Any views?