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Basic Knowledge Workshop

Monday, November 13, 2006

On 24-25 November, 2005, Arché will hold a Pilot Basic Knowledge Workshop. Speakers and respondents are:

Corine Besson, Jessica Brown, Martin Davies, Philip Ebert, Patrick Greenough, Lars Gundersen, John Hawthorne, Carrie Jenkins, Duncan Pritchard, Jason Stanley, Timothy Williamson and Elia Zardini.

More information can be found here.

Arché Graduate Conference

The 3rd Arché Graduate Conference is taking place 17-19 November, 2006.

There will be eight talks by graduate students with staff responses. The keynote speakers are Graham Priest, Diana Raffman, and Jason Stanley.

More details and registration here.

Words for RelativismS

Friday, November 10, 2006

I have just come back from participating in the Arché's final Vagueness Workshop. It has been a great funjetlag and loads of killing objections to my paper notwithstanding ;-)!

In two or three occasions there, the issue as to which might be the appropriate taxonomy of contexutalist/relativist positions in recent debates arose, including the issue as to which might be appropriate descriptive labels for the taxons. I’d like to post specifically on the latter here. In some papers I have suggested the following taxonomy, taking as basic the datum of apparent faultless disagreement from Crispin, and (some of) the jargon from Lewis-MacFarlane.

Are appearances to be endorsed?

No → (1) Non-Relativism

Yes → Is the content of the relevant sentence in the different contexts the same?

No → (2) Indexical Contextualism

Yes → Is the index determined by the different contexts the same?

No → (3) Non-Indexical Contextualism

Yes → (4) Radical Relativism

(Couple of quick remarks: Admittedly, an ‘hermeneutic’ view on which the content of sentence depends on the perspective from which it is assessed is set aside. How to locate ‘subject-sensitive invariantism’ is a delicate issue: in my view here might be some versions of the view falling under (2) and some falling under (3)—and perhaps some falling under (1) or (4).)

Regardless of the details, some people might more or less agree with the taxons, and still dispute the labels. Some concerns I have sympathy with:

· Re (1): it is purely negative. In some debates, ‘realist’ might do, and in some debates, ‘(insensitive) invariantism might, but they seem to lack the desirable ‘trans-debate’ generality.

· Re (2)-(3): In some debates, particularly concerning knowledge attributions and epistemic modals, ‘contexualism’ is reserved specifically for (2), which also has in its favor that the relevant expressions need not be, according to (2), strictly speaking indexicals. But this leaves (3) without appropriate label, which I think should ideally convey the shared moderate character of (2) and (3) vis-à-vis (4).

· Re (4): ‘Radical’ is overused in taxonomies, and the view is commonly referred to as ‘Truth Relativism’ or ‘Relativism about Truth.’ True enough, but—unless one keeps in mind a suitable explicit stipulation—these latter labels could be fairly used for any of the relativistic (2), (3) and (4) options: after all, all of them endorse the appearances that none of the judgers are thereby judging something that is not true!

Any views?

(Cross-posted at bleb.)

'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?


Names can be connotative!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I hereby propose Arche move from its current home in St Andrews to the more fittingly titled City of Truth and Consequences, in New Mexico.

Alternatively, we could rename St Andrews to make it more Arche-friendly. Suggestions welcome.

A plea for information about "actually".

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I believe that "Actually(p)" is often taken to be a logical consequence of "p". A number of questions:

(a) is this a standard view? Who disagrees? Who agrees?
(b) what are the central papers I should be looking at if I want to think about this claim?
(c) is the claim that this is a logical consequence *argued for* anywhere (as opposed, e.g. to just deriving it in a system where we've laid down a syncategoramic axiom for an actually operator).
(d) does anything philosophically interesting turn on whether or not this is validity?

(The reason I'm interested is that I've recently been thinking about anologies between "determinately" for the supervaluationist and "actually" for the modal logician, and the result above is the analogue of "p|=Def(p)".)