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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Grice and Moore

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One very popular assumption in the epistemological literature is that belief and assertion are governed by one and the same epistemic norm. This paper challenges this claim. Extant arguments in defence of the view are scrutinized and found to rest on value-theoretic inaccuracies. First, the belief-assertion parallel is shown to lack the needed normative strength. Second, I argue that the claim that assertion inherits the norm of belief in virtue of being an expression thereof rests on a failed instance of deontic transmission. Third, the inheritance argument from the norm for action is proven guilty of deontic equivocation. Last but not least, it is argued that, on a functionalist normative picture, assertion and belief are governed by different epistemic norms, in virtue of serving different epistemic functions.

Folksy Grice

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Several studies have found a robust effect of truth on epistemic evaluation of belief, decision, action and assertion. Thus, truth has a significant effect on normative participant evaluations. Some theorists take this truth effect to motivate factive epistemic norms of belief, action, assertion etc. In contrast, I argue that the truth effect is best understood as an epistemic instance of the familiar and ubiquitous phenomenon of outcome bias. I support this diagnosis from three interrelating perspectives: (1) by epistemological theorizing, (2) by considerations from cognitive psychology and (3) by methodological reflections on the relationship between folk epistemology and epistemological theorizing.

Grice on context

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Epistemologists typically assume that the acquisition of knowledge from testimony is not threatened at the stage at which audiences interpret what proposition a speaker has asserted. Attention is instead typically paid to the epistemic status of a belief formed on the basis of testimony that it is assumed has the same content as the speaker's assertion. Andrew Peet has pioneered an account of how linguistic context sensitivity can threaten the assumption. His account locates the threat in contexts in which an audience's evidence under-determines which proposition a speaker is asserting. I argue that Peet's epistemic uncertainty account of the threat is mistaken and I propose an alternative. The alternative locates the threat in contexts that provide factors that give audiences a mistaken psychological certainty or confidence that a speaker has asserted a proposition she has not.

Grice and Sobel

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Folklore has it that Sobel sequences favor a variably strict analysis of conditionals over its plainly strict alternative. While recent discussions for or against the lore have focussed on Sobel sequences involving counterfactuals, this paper draws attention to the fact that indicative Sobel sequences are just as felicitous as are their counterfactual cousins. The fact, or so I shall argue here, disrupts the folklore: given minimal assumptions about the semantics and pragmatics of indicative conditionals, a textbook variably strict analysis fails to predict that indicative Sobel sequences are felicitous. The correct lesson to draw from Sobel sequences is that their felicity challenges classical implementations of the variably strict and of the plainly strict analysis alike. In response to this challenge I develop a dynamic strict analysis of conditionals that handles indicative Sobel sequences with grace while preserving intuitive constraints on the semantics and pragmatics of their members. A discussion of how such an analysis may handle the challenge from reverse Sobel sequences is provided.

How to undo things with disimplicature

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Over the last five decades, philosophers of language have looked into the mechanisms for doing things with words. The same attention has not been devoted to how to undo those things, once they have been done. This paper identifies and examines three strategies to make one’s speech acts undone—namely, Annulment, Retraction, and Amendment. In annulling an act, a speaker brings to light its fatal flaws. Annulment amounts to recognizing an act as null, whereas retraction and amendment amount to making it null. Speakers employ retraction to cancel the deontic updates engendered by a given act. They instead use amendment to adjust its degree of strength. I will argue that annulling, retracting, and amending are second-order speech acts, whose felicity conditions vary with the type of illocution they operate on. Undoing is therefore conceived of as a form of doing. Furthermore, I claim that, in calling off our acts, we undo the conventional or illocutionary effects of our words while leaving intact their past causal or perlocutionary outcomes.

The null set: the disimplicatures

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Graham Priest proposed an argument for the conclusion that ‘nothing’ occurs as a singular term and not as a quantifier in a sentence like (1) ‘The cosmos came into existence out of nothing’. Priest's point is that, intuitively, (1) entails (C) ‘The cosmos came into existence at some time’, but this entailment relation is left unexplained if ‘nothing’ is treated as a quantifier. If Priest is right, the paradoxical notion of an object that is nothing plays a role in our very understanding of reality. In this note, we argue that Priest's argument is unsound: the intuitive entailment relation between (1) and (C) does not offer convincing evidence that ‘nothing’ occurs as a term in (1). Moreover, we provide an explanation of why (1) is naturally taken to entail (C), which is both plausible and consistent with the standard, quantificational treatment of ‘nothing’.

Implicated “If”

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A part of Stalnaker (1968)’s influential theory of conditionals has been neglected, namely the role for an accessibility relation between worlds. I argue that the accessibility relation does not play the role intended for it in the theory as stated, and propose a minimal revision which solves the problem, and brings the theory in line with the formulation in Stalnaker & Thomason 1970.

The compleat poems of Herbert Paul Grice, MA (Oxon.), &c.

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  1. This book on the topic of ethics and poetry consists of contributions from different continents on the subject of applied ethics related to poetry. It should gather a favourable reception from philosophers, ethicists, theologians and anthropologists from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America and allows for a comparison of the healing power of words from various religious, spiritual and philosophical traditions. The first part of this book presents original poems that express ethical emotions and aphorism related to a philosophical questioning of the grounding of our values for life. The poems are written by twelve authors coming from four continents, for whom poetic emotions are sources of artistic inspiration and that can be used for conflict resolution. In the second part, which features short essays, nine authors tackle how poems, symbolic representations, metaphorical narratives and lies impact the space of possibilities, in which we are moved to action, knowledge formation, and how we imagine the world together.

Plurals: The Disimplicatures

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Some philosophers have argued that truth is a norm of judgement and have provided a variety of formulations of this general thesis. In this paper, I shall side with these philosophers and assume that truth is a norm of judgement. What I am primarily interested in here are two core questions concerning the judgement-truth norm: (i) what are the normative relationships between truth and judgement? And (ii) do these relationships vary or are they constant? I argue for a pluralist picture—what I call Normative Alethic Pluralism (NAP)—according to which (i) there is more than one correct judgement-truth norm and (ii) the normative relationships between truth and judgement vary in relation to the subject matter of the judgement. By means of a comparative analysis of disagreement in three areas of the evaluative domain—refined aesthetics, basic taste and morality—I show that there is an important variability in the normative significance of disagreement—I call this the variability conjecture. By presenting a variation of Lynch’s scope problem for alethic monism, I argue that a monistic approach to the normative function of truth is unable to vindicate the conjecture. I then argue that normative alethic pluralism provides us with a promising model to account for it.


Disimplicature

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This paper critiques a number of standard ways of understanding the role of the metalanguage in a semantic theory for natural language, including the idea that disquotation plays a nontrivial role in any explanatory natural language semantics. It then proposes that the best way to understand the role of a semantic metalanguage involves recognizing that semantics is a model-based science. The metalanguage of semantics is language for articulating features of the theorist's model. Models are understood as mediating instruments---idealized structures used to represent select aspects of the world, aspects the theorist is seeking some theoretical understanding of. The aspect of reality we are seeking some understanding of in semantics is a dimension of human linguistic competence---informally, knowledge of meaning.

Disimplicature

Disimplicature

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Divine simplicity is central to Thomas Aquinas’s philosophy of God. Most important for Aquinas is his view that God’s existence (esse) is identical to God’s essence; for everything other than God, there is a distinction between existence and essence. However, recent developments in analytic philosophy about the nature of existence threaten to undermine what Aquinas thought regarding divine simplicity. In the first chapter of this dissertation, I trace Aquinas’s thinking on divine simplicity through the various texts he wrote regarding the matter. I establish that it is crucial for Aquinas that God is identical to his existence. But, is it even coherent to talk about “a thing’s existence?” In Chapter Two I summarize the arguments of C.J.F. Williams that existence is not a real property that individuals have and that predicating the word “exists” after the name of an individual produces linguistic gibberish. After considering, and rejecting, in Chapter Three attempts by some philosophers to refute Williams’s arguments, I turn, in Chapter Four, to a more detailed account of what Aquinas means by esse, the Latin word often rendered in English as “existence.” The conclusion that I come to is that Aquinas does not mean by esse what contemporary philosophers have usually meant by “existence.” Rather, he understands esse to be the act by which anything can be anything at all, instead of there being nothing whatsoever. In the final chapter, I turn to implications of this for Aquinas’s views of divine simplicity, showing that rather than being incoherent, Aquinas’s thinking on esse points toward the unfathomable mystery that is God.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Conversational Self-Love and Conversational Benevolence

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benevolence and self-love are different; though the former tends most.

Conversational Self-Love and Conversational Benevolence

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 raw material for benevolence and self-love, in so far as the major part of our.

Conversational Self-Love and Conversational Benevolence

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Is the force of self-love abated, or its interest prejudiced, by benevolence?

Conversational Self-Love and Conversational Benevolence

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we are next invited to consider the relation in which self-love stands to benevolence.

Conversational Self-Love and Conversational Benevolence

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self-love is to be restrained by benevolence

Conversational Self-Love and Conversational Benevolence

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may arise from self-love and yet not be a matter of choice, 798, this objection of ... 481-2). principle of natural equal benevolence to every individual is Utopian, ...

Conversational Self-Love and Conversational Benevolence

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 Besides Self-Love we have another general desire, Benevolence

Conversational Self-Love and Conversational Benevolence

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 both self-love and benevolence are here used to designate, not particular affections, but general ...

Conversational Self-Love and Conversational Benevolence

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The language of the first Sermon suggests that there are three such principles — self-love, benevolence and conscience.

Conversational self-love and conversational benevolence

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From the point of view of self-love benevolence is simply one impulse among others, like hunger, resentment, etc. But it is equally true that, from the point of view ...

Conversational self-love and conversational benevolence

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of the relationship existing between self-love and benevolence in the moral philosophy of Bishop Butler. To do this we shall first have to consider what Bishop ...

Conversational self-love and conversational benevolence

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SELF-LOVE AND BENEVOLENCE IN BUTLER'S. ETHICAL SYSTEM. J N an examination of Butler's treatment of self-love, attention. 1 must first be directed to the ...

Conversational benevolence and conversational self-love

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SELF-LOVE AND BENEVOLENCE. R ECENTLY 1 HAVE BEEN READING Adam Smith and some of the scholarship connected with Smith's works. One problem ...

Comparative Griceianisms

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Comparative philosophy between two disparate cultural-philosophic traditions, such as Western and Chinese philosophy, has become a new trend of philosophical fashion in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Having learned from the past, contemporary comparative philosophers cautiously safeguard their comparative studies against two potential pitfalls, namely cultural universalism and cultural relativism. The Orientalism that assumed the superiority of the Occidental has become a memory of the past. The historical pendulum has apparently swung to the other extreme. The more recent "reverse Orientalism" has started to reclaim the superiority of the Oriental. We have even been told that the twenty-first...

Comparative Griceianisms

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Comparative philosophy between two disparate cultural-philosophic traditions, such as Western and Chinese philosophy, has become a new trend of philosophical fashion in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Having learned from the past, contemporary comparative philosophers cautiously safeguard their comparative studies against two potential pitfalls, namely cultural universalism and cultural relativism. The Orientalism that assumed the superiority of the Occidental has become a memory of the past. The historical pendulum has apparently swung to the other extreme. The more recent "reverse Orientalism" has started to reclaim the superiority of the Oriental. We have even been told that the twenty-first...

Grice: Conversation as a Game

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Many philosophers think that games like chess, languages like English, and speech acts like assertion are constituted by rules. Lots of others disagree. To argue over this productively, it would be first useful to know what it would be for these things to be rule-constituted. Searle famously claimed in Speech Acts that rules constitute things in the sense that they make possible the performance of actions related to those things (Searle 1969). On this view, rules constitute games, languages, and speech acts in the sense that they make possible playing them, speaking them and performing them. This raises the question what it is to perform rule-constituted actions (e. g. play, speak, assert) and the question what makes constitutive rules distinctive such that only they make possible the performance of new actions (e. g. playing). In this paper I will criticize Searle’s answers to these questions. However, my main aim is to develop a better view, explain how it works in the case of each of games, language, and assertion and illustrate its appeal by showing how it enables rule-based views of these things to respond to various objections.

Implicature and Context-Sensitivity

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Epistemologists typically assume that the acquisition of knowledge from testimony is not threatened at the stage at which audiences interpret what proposition a speaker has asserted. Attention is instead typically paid to the epistemic status of a belief formed on the basis of testimony that it is assumed has the same content as the speaker's assertion. Andrew Peet has pioneered an account of how linguistic context sensitivity can threaten the assumption. His account locates the threat in contexts in which an audience's evidence under-determines which proposition a speaker is asserting. I argue that Peet's epistemic uncertainty account of the threat is mistaken and I propose an alternative. The alternative locates the threat in contexts that provide factors that give audiences a mistaken psychological certainty or confidence that a speaker has asserted a proposition she has not.

Implicature and Transparency

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Anti-individualists hold that having a thought with a certain intentional content is a relational rather than an intrinsic property of the subject. Some anti-individualists also hold that thought-content serves to explain the subject’s cognitive perspective. Since there seems to be a tension between these two views, much discussed in the philosophical literature, attempts have been made to resolve it. In an attempt to reconcile these views, and in relation to perception-based demonstrative thoughts, Stalnaker (Our knowledge of the internal world, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008) argues that an anti-individualist account of the facts that determine thought-content can be reconciled with a suitably qualified version of a principle of epistemic transparency. Acknowledging this, and in agreement with the view that thought-content should serve to explain the subject’s cognitive perspective, I argue that, his intentions notwithstanding, this view of transparency of thought-contents does not serve to explain the subject’s cognitive perspective on Stalnaker’s own terms and that the intricacies involved in his argumentation for saving his anti-individualist project are indirectly supportive of an individualist account of the subject’s cognitive perspective. In so doing, I leave intact some of his key claims that are plausible in their own right.

Mode, Modality, and Implicature

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This paper starts out from the idea that semantics is a “special science” whose aim, like that of chemistry or ecology, is to identify systematic, high-level patterns in a fundamentally physical world. I defend an approach to this task on which sentences are associated with with sets of possible worlds (of some kind). These sets of worlds, however, are not postulated for the compositional treatment of intensional contexts; they are not meant to capture what is intuitively asserted or communicated by an utterance; nor are they supposed to shed light on the cognitive processes that underlie out linguistic competence. Instead, their job description is to capture certain regularities in the interactions between subjects using the relevant language. I also raise some questions about how the relevant worlds might be construed.

Grice on negation

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This paper investigates the interaction of phenomena associated with loose talk with embedded contexts. §1. introduces core features associated with the loose interpretation of an utterance and presents a sketch of how to theorise about such utterances in terms of a relation of ‘pragmatic equivalence’. §2. discusses further features of loose talk arising from interaction with ‘loose talk regulators’, negation and conjunction. §§3-4. introduce a hybrid static/dynamic framework and show how it can be employed in developing a fragment which accounts for the data surveyed in §§1-2.

Meaning, Implicature, and Inference

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A traditional objection to inferentialism states that not all inferences can be meaning-constitutive and therefore inferentialism has to comprise an analytic-synthetic distinction. As a response, Peregrin argues that meaning is a matter of inferential rules and only the subset of all the valid inferences for which there is a widely shared corrective behaviour corresponds to rules and so determines meaning. Unfortunately, Peregrin does not discuss what counts as “widely shared”. In the paper, I argue for an empirical plausibility of Peregrin’s proposal. The aim of the paper is to show that we can find examples of meaning-constitutive linguistic action, which sustain Peregrin’s response. The idea is supported by examples of meaning modulation. If Peregrin is right, then we should be able to find specific meaning modulations in which a new meaning is publicly available and modulated in such a way that it has a potential to be widely shared. I believe that binding modulations – a specific type of meaning modulations – satisfy this condition.

Grice’s Naturalism

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According to the standard interpretation of Lewis’s theory of predicate meaning (the U&N theory), the naturalness of meaning candidates should be stated metaphysically - as a length of definition in terms of fundamental properties. Recently, Weatherson has criticized the U&N theory and argued that the criterion of naturalness should be stated epistemologically - as the amount of evidence needed to form a belief. Despite the criticism, his attitude towards the U&N theory is quite relaxed. According to Weatherson, the U&N theory can be used as a good heuristic for delivering the correct verdicts when doing applied semantics, i.e., when we try to determine the best meaning candidate for a particular predicate. In this paper, I try to show that the “good heuristic strategy” is of no use because A) there is no guarantee that the epistemological and the metaphysical criteria of naturalness deliver the same verdicts and B) even if they deliver the same verdicts, the difference in their theoretical backgrounds may affect arguments which rely on the verdicts. The difference will be shown by drawing on the example of Theodore Sider and his use of the U&N theory.

Grice on identity

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There is a certain popular argument, deriving from Ruth Barcan and Saul Kripke, from the conjunction of the Principle of the Indiscernibility of Identicals (PInI, for short) and the Principle of the Necessity of Self-Identity to the Thesis of the Necessity of Identity. My purpose is to show that this argument does not work, not at least in the form it is often presented. I also give a correct formulation of the argument and point out that PInI is not even needed in the argument for the necessity of identity.

Grice on mode and force

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  1. The Frege point to the effect that e.g. the clauses of conditionals are not asserted and therefore cannot be assertions is often taken to establish a dichotomy between the content of a speech act, which is propositional and belongs to logic and semantics, and its force, which belongs to pragmatics. Recently this dichotomy has been questioned by philosophers such as Peter Hanks and Francois Recanati, who propose act-theoretic accounts of propositions, argue that we can’t account for propositional unity independently of the forceful acts of speakers, and respond to the Frege point by appealing to a notion of force cancellation. I argue that the notion of force cancellation is faced with a dilemma and offer an alternative response to the Frege point, which extends the act-theoretic account to logical acts such as conditionalizing or disjoining. Such higher-level acts allow us to present forceful acts while suspending commitment to them. In connecting them, a subject rather commits to an affirmation function of such acts. In contrast, the Frege point confuses a lack of commitment to what is put forward with a lack of commitment or force in what is put forward.

Grice on mode and force

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A strict dichotomy between the force / mode of speech acts and intentional states and their propositional content has been a central feature of analytical philosophy of language and mind since the time of Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell. Recently this dichotomy has been questioned by philosophers such as Peter Hanks (2015, 2016) and Francois Recanati (2016), who argue that we can't account for propositional unity independently of the forceful acts of speakers and propose new ways of responding to the notorious 'Frege point' by appealing to a notion of force cancellation. In my paper I will offer some supplementary criticisms of the traditional view, but also a way of reconceptualizing the force-content distinction which allows us to preserve certain of its features, and an alternative response to the Frege point that rejects the notion of force cancellation in favor of an appeal to intentional acts that create additional forms of unity at higher levels of intentional organization: acts such as questioning a statement or order, or merely putting it forward or entertaining it; pretending to state or order; or conjoining or disjoining statements or orders. This allows us to understand how we can present a forceful act without being committed to it. In contrast, the Frege point confuses a lack of commitment to with a lack of commitment or force in what is put forward.

Moore’s Implicature

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One very popular assumption in the epistemological literature is that belief and assertion are governed by one and the same epistemic norm. This paper challenges this claim. Extant arguments in defence of the view are scrutinized and found to rest on value-theoretic inaccuracies. First, the belief-assertion parallel is shown to lack the needed normative strength. Second, I argue that the claim that assertion inherits the norm of belief in virtue of being an expression thereof rests on a failed instance of deontic transmission. Third, the inheritance argument from the norm for action is proven guilty of deontic equivocation. Last but not least, it is argued that, on a functionalist normative picture, assertion and belief are governed by different epistemic norms, in virtue of serving different epistemic functions.

Grice on the alethic

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Several studies have found a robust effect of truth on epistemic evaluation of belief, decision, action and assertion. Thus, truth has a significant effect on normative participant evaluations. Some theorists take this truth effect to motivate factive epistemic norms of belief, action, assertion etc. In contrast, I argue that the truth effect is best understood as an epistemic instance of the familiar and ubiquitous phenomenon of outcome bias. I support this diagnosis from three interrelating perspectives: (1) by epistemological theorizing, (2) by considerations from cognitive psychology and (3) by methodological reflections on the relationship between folk epistemology and epistemological theorizing.

Hutcheson, Butler, and Grice on the principle of conversational self-love and the principle of conversational benevolence

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Implicature

Sobel’s Implicature

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Folklore has it that Sobel sequences favor a variably strict analysis of conditionals over its plainly strict alternative. While recent discussions for or against the lore have focussed on Sobel sequences involving counterfactuals, this paper draws attention to the fact that indicative Sobel sequences are just as felicitous as are their counterfactual cousins. The fact, or so I shall argue here, disrupts the folklore: given minimal assumptions about the semantics and pragmatics of indicative conditionals, a textbook variably strict analysis fails to predict that indicative Sobel sequences are felicitous. The correct lesson to draw from Sobel sequences is that their felicity challenges classical implementations of the variably strict and of the plainly strict analysis alike. In response to this challenge I develop a dynamic strict analysis of conditionals that handles indicative Sobel sequences with grace while preserving intuitive constraints on the semantics and pragmatics of their members. A discussion of how such an analysis may handle the challenge from reverse Sobel sequences is provided.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Hutcheson, Butler, and Grice on conversational self-love and conversational benevolence

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Butler and Grice on conversational self-love and conversational benevolence

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SELF-LOVE AND BENEVOLENCE IN BUTLER'S. ETHICAL SYSTEM. 

Butler and Grice: The principle of conversational self-love and the principle of conversational benevolence

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Butler uses “benevolence” mainly to refer to a particular passion or a cluster of passions (McNaughton 1992), although sometimes he also refers to it and cognate terms (“love of thy neighbor”) as principles that might have particular passions as their objects. There is still a fair amount of scholarly disagreement as to which sense is more central in Butler’s arguments (nicely summarized in Irwin 2008). 

Benevolence as a particular passion, like ambition or revenge, is never interested or disinterested in and of itself. It is only interested or disinterested in so far as it is guided by or in accordance with our self-love. 

Acting in a benevolent manner might make us happy. Indeed it seems to be the case that benevolent actions and affections often do make people happy. And we might initially decide to gratify the passions of benevolence from self-love. But the passions themselves have no more or less connection to interest than any other passion does.
Not being made happy by benevolent actions would point to a defect of temper or a lack of balance in one’s nature if the result was diminished happiness and going against the dictates of conscience. 

As noted, for both Butler and Shaftesbury, self-love and virtue converge when properly understood. 

But importantly according to Butler, Shaftesbury erred in not recognizing that they could conflict in particular cases, and if they did conflict the distinctive authority of conscience would trump our apparent prudential motivations. This did not mean that our general interest conflicted with conscience, but rather that local prudential information could give reasons for particular reasons for action that conflicted with conscience.
There is also some (more contested) evidence that Butler thought of benevolence as a ruling principle (Rorty 1978). Butler referred to the general principle of charity or “love of our neighbor as thyself” as a virtuous principle or as the reason-guided endeavor to promote the happiness of proximate others to the same degree that one attempts to promote one’s own good (although he also identified “love of neighbor” with the particular passion of compassion). This was a regulating principle of action, perhaps distinct from benevolent passions. Butler suggested in Sermon IX that we have a fundamental obligation to the happiness of sensible creatures other than ourselves insofar as they are capable of pleasure and pain, an obligation that can only be ignored in order to bring about greater happiness (to be further discussed in Section 6). Although this appears to be a fundamental moral obligation to maximize welfare a few years later Butler strongly criticized theories on which the overall happiness is what makes an action good or evil and argued that our conscience holds actions to be morally good or bad independent of the expected or actual consequences for happiness (“Dissertation”, §5). Most of the secondary literature takes Butler to generally be an anti-utilitarian (but see Louden 1995 and in a different way see Frey), but there is disagreement as to whether Butler held a consistent position or changed his mind (see McPherson 1948–9). Some even argue that he might be able to embrace a form of consequentialism (see McNaughton 2017).
Finally, Butler claimed that benevolence is the whole of virtue in Sermon XII, although he qualified the claim later in Sermon XII and qualified it even more strongly in the “Dissertation on Virtue”. Butler did not mean that to act benevolently in each and every action was the entirety of virtue, for example as we shall see in the next section moral resentment was an appropriate attitude for a virtuous agent. Rather he meant that to act according to and to be motivated by the principle of loving one’s neighbor generally leads to virtuous and morally approved actions. Although self-partiality tends in the opposite direction, benevolence offsets this tendency and brings benevolent and self-partial affections in proper proportion. Conversely self-partiality brings benevolence in line with self-love such that it balances properly in our nature.
According to Butler when we approve of virtue in an agent this gives rise to benevolence towards the agent. The ultimate object of this love of benevolent moral agents is our love of God, the most benevolent agent. In stressing the continuity between love of neighbor and love of God, Butler also stressed the continuity between our approval of moral agents and natural theology. Finally, to have a character such that benevolent actions make one happy is normally to have a character that encompasses all of the virtues.

Butler and Grice: Conversational Self-Love and Conversational Benevolence

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Butler and Grice on conversational self-love and conversational benevolence

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Butler discusses two important constituents of human nature in addition to conscience and the particular passions:

self-love and benevolence.

Central to Butler’s analysis of “self-love” is his extremely influential dismissal of psychological egoism — in C. D. Broad’s words, “Butler kills the theory so thoroughly that he sometimes seems to the modern reader to be flogging dead horses” (Broad 1930, 55; but see Penelhum 1985; Henson 1988; Sober 1992).

For Butler, the kind of egoism exemplified for him by Hobbes — “the selfish theory” in eighteenth century parlance — rests on the failure to distinguish principles from passions. There is a trivial sense in which all of our passions are our own and the pleasure we have in discharging or pursuing any passion is “self” love.

But it is also uninteresting: we can’t conclude much from the fact that every passion we take pleasure in is our passion. We certainly can’t conclude that human beings are always motivated by selfishness.

That selfish theorists thought we could was due in part to their confusing the “ownership of an impulse with its object” (Broad 1930, 65)—the inference from that the passions are ours to that we are the objects of the passions. Although the passions belong to us it does not therefore follow that our “self”, or our self-gratification, is the object of the passion.
This mistake is connected to another: confusing the principle of self-love, which has the happiness of the self as its object, with particular passions and desires. Once we recognize that “the pain of hunger and shame, and the delight from esteem, are no more self-love than they are any thing in the world” (Sermon I, Note 3) — they are particular passions and desires with particular objects — we see that from the fact that we take pleasure in our passions and that they are our passions it does not follow that we are guided by selfish principles. Passions do make us happy or unhappy. But that we have an interest in being happy or unhappy is distinct from the particular passions, their objects, or the happiness arising from the passions — although it may be a reason to prefer one passion over another. This was connected to Butler’s belief that passions are not interested in themselves. They have particular ends whereas self-love is our general interest in securing our happiness.
Like Shaftesbury and Francis Hutcheson, Butler thought it prima facie evident that human beings had benevolent motivations, and he thought it obvious that these benevolent motivations could make us happy and be consistent with self-interest. The onus was on advocates of the selfish theory to provide a compelling case against. Butler placed more stress on the exceptions than Shaftesbury had and stressed that they are “naturally” consistent, i.e. that they are consistent in our nature and the natural course of things although the unnatural and intemperate actions of others might interfere locally (Analogy III §5; §27). He saw Hobbes’ reduction of all other-directed motivations -- such as compassion -- to selfish motivations in disguise to deny an evident matter of fact for theoretical reasons, i.e. in order to reconcile benevolence and compassion with Hobbes’ general hypothesis about human nature. But once a compassionate motivation is recast as a selfish motivation, for Hobbes as a type of fear, it conflicts with the sense of the term being explained to the point that it engenders contradiction. For example: we feel compassion strongly towards our friends. If compassion were a fear then we would fear our friends strongly, which seems to conflict with the agreed use of the word “compassion”.
Which was not to deny of course that people act from selfishness, self-partiality, and confused self-interest. Selfishness and self-partiality often mix with benevolent motivations to give rise to benevolent and even compassionate actions (Sermon V Note 1). Unlike Shaftesbury and Hutcheson, Butler stressed that human beings often act from mixed and opaque motives (as will be discussed in Section 6). But the existence of mixed motivations presumes non-interested motivations with which selfishness is mixed, not the reducibility of all motivations to selfishness or self-partiality. This also has the virtue of being a simpler explanation than the more complicated selfish motivations offered by Hobbes’ theory.
According to Butler, once clarified self-love is properly understood as “regard to our own Interest, Happiness, and private Good” (Sermon IX §8). Butler further suggests that self-love can be pursued better and worse, and that it is best reflected on via reason in a cool and impartial way. By “cool” Butler understood “impartial” in the sense of not being swayed away from the truth by particular loves and hates or by self-partiality. And by “reason” Butler understood the faculty of discerning truth (Sermon XIII §5). Self-love worked best and our interest was best served when we impartially seek what is truly in our interest. When understood in this way it can clearly suggest actions that conflict with selfishness. Conversely resolute selfishness and self-partiality are not the best course for self-love. To satisfy a particular desire may or may not make us happy in either the short or long-term and may not educe to our private good. And although satisfying a desire may make us happy, and all of our happiness may be the result of particular passions, no particular passion has happiness in general as its object.
Conversely we might fruitlessly seek our interest but have no particular object in mind. Or we might obsess over our interest to such a degree that we would continually be exercising the principle of self-love but not actually satisfying our particular passions and consequently not be happy. “Happiness consists in the Gratification of certain Affections, Appetites, Passions, with Objects which are by Nature adapted to them,” (Sermon IX §16). Self-love is a principle governing actions leading to the satisfaction or avoidance of the particular passions. Both self-love and the particular passions are necessary for the proper natural functioning of human beings.
Once self-love is distinguished from selfishness, self-partiality and the particular passions it becomes clearer that the conflict between self-love and benevolence is mostly an illusion when considered in the long term. Particular passions like compassion are perfectly consistent with self-love, indeed Butler held that to take pleasure in benevolent and virtuous acts and view them as part of one’s happiness is “itself the Temper of Satisfaction and Enjoyment.” In the Analogy, Butler provided further arguments that the natural tendency of virtue was the reward of happiness, and the natural punishment for vice, misery. We often fail to see this natural tendency because we focus on accidents or a limited range of examples to the detriment of the consistent long-term tendencies. Butler suggested a thought experiment of a monarchy run on virtuous principles (AnalogyIII §20) and argued that it would tend to be happier and more powerful than other regimes if allowed to flourish, eventually becoming a universal monarchy. The natural tendency of happiness, power, and virtue all coincide in its flourishing, growth, and moral governance. And happiness as coupled to virtue in this life points to happiness as the consistent reward for virtue in the next when accidents do not threaten to derail the natural tendency.
Which is not to suggest that conscience, virtue, and self-love are identical, although Butler connected them very deeply (Frey 1992 and n.p.). Although virtue tends to coincide with interest it tends to coincide because a virtuous life is a life with the right balance of benevolent passions and dispositions to make one happy and a life which responds to the unchanging and immediate moral authority of conscience -- although they are approved of and motivated by self-love as well.
Butler uses benevolence mainly to refer to a particular passion or a cluster of passions (McNaughton 1992), although sometimes he also refers to it and cognate terms (“love of thy neighbor”) as principles that might have particular passions as their objects. There is still a fair amount of scholarly disagreement as to which sense is more central in Butler’s arguments (nicely summarized in Irwin 2008). Benevolence as a particular passion, like ambition or revenge, is never interested or disinterested in and of itself. It is only interested or disinterested in so far as it is guided by or in accordance with our self-love. Acting in a benevolent manner might make us happy. Indeed it seems to be the case that benevolent actions and affections often do make people happy. And we might initially decide to gratify the passions of benevolence from self-love. But the passions themselves have no more or less connection to interest than any other passion does.
Not being made happy by benevolent actions would point to a defect of temper or a lack of balance in one’s nature if the result was diminished happiness and going against the dictates of conscience. As noted, for both Butler and Shaftesbury, self-love and virtue converge when properly understood. But importantly according to Butler, Shaftesbury erred in not recognizing that they could conflict in particular cases, and if they did conflict the distinctive authority of conscience would trump our apparent prudential motivations. This did not mean that our general interest conflicted with conscience, but rather that local prudential information could give reasons for particular reasons for action that conflicted with conscience.
There is also some (more contested) evidence that Butler thought of benevolence as a ruling principle (Rorty 1978). Butler referred to the general principle of charity or “love of our neighbor as thyself” as a virtuous principle or as the reason-guided endeavor to promote the happiness of proximate others to the same degree that one attempts to promote one’s own good (although he also identified “love of neighbor” with the particular passion of compassion). This was a regulating principle of action, perhaps distinct from benevolent passions. Butler suggested in Sermon IX that we have a fundamental obligation to the happiness of sensible creatures other than ourselves insofar as they are capable of pleasure and pain, an obligation that can only be ignored in order to bring about greater happiness (to be further discussed in Section 6). Although this appears to be a fundamental moral obligation to maximize welfare a few years later Butler strongly criticized theories on which the overall happiness is what makes an action good or evil and argued that our conscience holds actions to be morally good or bad independent of the expected or actual consequences for happiness (“Dissertation”, §5). Most of the secondary literature takes Butler to generally be an anti-utilitarian (but see Louden 1995 and in a different way see Frey), but there is disagreement as to whether Butler held a consistent position or changed his mind (see McPherson 1948–9). Some even argue that he might be able to embrace a form of consequentialism (see McNaughton 2017).
Finally, Butler claimed that benevolence is the whole of virtue in Sermon XII, although he qualified the claim later in Sermon XII and qualified it even more strongly in the “Dissertation on Virtue”. Butler did not mean that to act benevolently in each and every action was the entirety of virtue, for example as we shall see in the next section moral resentment was an appropriate attitude for a virtuous agent. Rather he meant that to act according to and to be motivated by the principle of loving one’s neighbor generally leads to virtuous and morally approved actions. Although self-partiality tends in the opposite direction, benevolence offsets this tendency and brings benevolent and self-partial affections in proper proportion. Conversely self-partiality brings benevolence in line with self-love such that it balances properly in our nature.
According to Butler when we approve of virtue in an agent this gives rise to benevolence towards the agent. The ultimate object of this love of benevolent moral agents is our love of God, the most benevolent agent. In stressing the continuity between love of neighbor and love of God, Butler also stressed the continuity between our approval of moral agents and natural theology. Finally, to have a character such that benevolent actions make one happy is normally to have a character that encompasses all of the virtues.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Grice on alérgica akrasia

Speranza

According to a classic position in analytic philosophy of mind, we must interpret agents as largely rational in order to be able to attribute intentional mental states to them. However, adopting this position requires clarifying in what way and by which criteria agents can still be irrational. In this paper I will offer one such criterion. More specifically, I argue that the kind of rationality methodologically required by intentional interpretation is to be specified in terms of psychological efficacy. Thereby, this notion can be distinguished from a more commonly used notion of rationality and hence cannot be shown to be undermined by the potential prevalence of a corresponding kind of irrationality.

Implicature and the collapsing principle

Speranza

If ‘F’ is a predicate, then ‘Fer than’ or ‘more F than’ is a corresponding comparative relational predicate. Concerning such comparative relations, John Broome’s Collapsing Principle states that, for any x and y, if it is false that y is Fer than x and not false that x is Fer than y, then it is true that x is Fer than y. Luke Elson has recently put forward two alleged counter-examples to this principle, allegedly showing that it yields contradictions if there are borderline cases. In this paper, I argue that the Collapsing Principle does not rule out borderline cases, but I also argue that it is implausible.

Weak implicature

Speranza

Indirect speech reports can be true even if they attribute to the speaker the saying of something weaker than what she in fact expressed, yet not all weakenings of what the speaker expressed yield true reports. For example, if Anna utters ‘Bob and Carla passed the exam’, we can accurately report her as having said that Carla passed the exam, but we can not accurately report her as having said that either it rains or it does not, or that either Carla passed the exam or pandas are cute. This paper offers an analysis of speech reports that distinguishes weakenings of what the speaker expressed that yield true reports from weakenings that do not. According to this analysis, speech reports are not only sensitive to the informational content of what the speaker expressed, but also to the possibilities a speaker raises in making an utterance. As I argue, this analysis has significant advantages over its most promising competitors, including views based on work by Barwise and Perry : 668–691, 1981), views appealing to recent work on the notion of content parthood by Fine :199–226, 2016) and Yablo, and Richard’s : 605–616, 1998) proposal appealing to structured propositions.

Grice on the alethic

Speranza

Asay (2018) criticizes our contention that psychologists do best to adhere to a substantive theory of correspondence truth. He argues that deflationary theory can serve the same purposes as correspondence theory. In the present article we argue that (a) scientific realism, broadly construed, requires a version of correspondence theory and (b) contrary to Asay’s suggestion, correspondence theory does have important additional resources over deflationary accounts in its ability to support generalizations over classes of true senten

Mr and Mrs Grice

Speranza

What one decides fit for appearance through writing and speech bears a political signifi cance that risk being distorted through both language, reception in the public, and through calls for gendered representations. How can work of female philosophers be interpreted as a concern for the world from that of having to respond to a male-dominated discourse through which speech becomes trapped into what one might represent as ‘other’? In this paper, I explore the public reception of two female thinkers who question, in diff erent ways, the dominant notion of the author or philosopher as a male subject; what kind of limitations does the relative notion of ‘female’ pose political action, and how can privilege constitute a hindrance to feminist solidarity?

He, Grice

Speranza

In this paper, we defend two main claims. The first is a moderate claim: we have a negative duty to not use binary gender-specific pronouns he or she to refer to genderqueer individuals. We defend this with an argument by analogy. It was gravely wrong for Mark Latham to refer to Catherine McGregor, a transgender woman, using the pronoun he; we argue that such cases of misgendering are morally analogous to referring to Angel Haze, who identifies as genderqueer, as he or she. The second is a radical claim: we have a negative duty to not use any gender-specific pronouns to refer to anyone, regardless of their gender identity. We offer three arguments in favor of this claim (which appeal to concerns about inegalitarianism and risk, invasions of privacy, and reinforcing essentialist ideologies). We also show why the radical claim is compatible with the moderate claim. Before concluding, we examine common concerns about incorporating either they or a neologism such as ze as a third-person singular gender-neutral pronoun. These concerns, we argue, do not provide sufficient reason to reject either the moderate or radical claim.

Grice and Staal

Speranza



  1. Comparative philosophy between two disparate cultural-philosophic traditions, such as Western and Chinese philosophy, has become a new trend of philosophical fashion in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Having learned from the past, contemporary comparative philosophers cautiously safeguard their comparative studies against two potential pitfalls, namely cultural universalism and cultural relativism. The Orientalism that assumed the superiority of the Occidental has become a memory of the past. The historical pendulum has apparently swung to the other extreme. The more recent "reverse Orientalism" has started to reclaim the superiority of the Oriental. We have even been told that the twenty-first...

Implicature and Game

Speranza

Many philosophers think that games like chess, languages like English, and speech acts like assertion are constituted by rules. Lots of others disagree. To argue over this productively, it would be first useful to know what it would be for these things to be rule-constituted. Searle famously claimed in Speech Acts that rules constitute things in the sense that they make possible the performance of actions related to those things (Searle 1969). On this view, rules constitute games, languages, and speech acts in the sense that they make possible playing them, speaking them and performing them. This raises the question what it is to perform rule-constituted actions (e. g. play, speak, assert) and the question what makes constitutive rules distinctive such that only they make possible the performance of new actions (e. g. playing). In this paper I will criticize Searle’s answers to these questions. However, my main aim is to develop a better view, explain how it works in the case of each of games, language, and assertion and illustrate its appeal by showing how it enables rule-based views of these things to respond to various objections.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Some sensible remarks about the senses

Speranza

Fregeanism and Relationism are competing families of solutions to Frege’s Puzzle, and by extension, competing theories of propositional representation. My aim is to clarify what is at stake between them by characterizing and evaluating a Relationist argument. Relationists claim that it is cognitively possible for distinct token propositional attitudes to be, in a sense, qualitatively indistinguishable: to differ in no intrinsic representational features. The idea of an ‘intrinsic representational feature’ is not, however, made especially clear in the argument. I clarify it here and, having done so, offer reason to doubt the argument. This will put us in a position to draw some lessons about the relation between object-directed and representation-internal aspects of cognitive significance.

Frege’s Disimplicature

Speranza

Many philosophers have argued or taken for granted that Frege's puzzle has little or nothing to do with identity statements. I show that this is wrong, arguing that the puzzle can only be motivated relative to a thinker's beliefs about the identity or distinctness of the relevant object. The result is important, as it suggests that the puzzle can be solved, not by a semantic theory of names or referring expressions as such, but simply by a theory of identity statements. To show this, I sketch a framework for developing solutions of this sort. I also consider how this result could be implemented by two influential solutions to Frege's puzzle, Perry's referential-reflexivism and Fine's semantic relationism.

Bruce Fretts's Implicature

Speranza

There was an interesting implicature by Steve Martin reported by Bruce Fretts at

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/18/arts/television/steve-martin-martin-short-netflix-comedy.html

In fact, the implicature is a triad and involves not just Fretts and Martin, but Short. Here is the passage.

First the reference,

Fretts, Bruce, "Steve Martin and Martin Short on friendship and what's truly funny."


Steve Martin and Martin Short on Friendship and What’s Truly Funny


Now the relevant passage:

Marty, you were just called one of the greatest late-night guests of all time.
SHORT Not to correct you, and it doesn’t matter, but it wasn’t “one of the greatest late-night guests of all time,” it was “the greatest.”
MARTIN I’d like to read that article again and see if it said “among the greatest.”
"you were just called" is hyperlinked. To what?
To:

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/rabbit-holes/is-martin-short-the-greatest-talk-show-guest-of-all-time

A piece by Ian Grouch. 

Is Martin Short the Greatest Talk-Show Guest of All Time?


Reference:

Crouch, Ian. Is Martin Short the greatest talk-show guest of all time?

So Fretts is taking some Griceian liberties, because Crouch poses the question, er, in the erotetic mode, as Grice calls it.

So let's revise the NYT wording:

FRETTS: Marty, you were just called one of the greatest late-night guests of all time.

SHORT Not to correct you, and it doesn’t matter, but it wasn’t “one of the greatest late-night guests of all time,” it was “the greatest.”
MARTIN I’d like to read that article again and see if it said “among the greatest.”
Let's formalise that alla Frege:

FRETT's proposition:

(i) Short is one of the greatest late-night guests of all time. 
Short's 'correction' -- Short's proposition

(ii) Short is the greatest late-night guest of all time.

Martin's rebuke -- Martin's proposition:

(iii) Short is among the greatest late-time guests of all time.

Fretts:
"Marty, you were just called one of the greatest late-night guests of all time."
-- by Ian Crouch. Although Crouch poses this as a question. The article seems to IMPLICATE an affirmative answer to the question in the title. Which leads to Fretts's proposition (i) above.

SHORT 
"Not to correct you, and it doesn’t matter, but it wasn’t “one of the greatest late-night guests of all time,” it was “the greatest.”"
Leading to Short's proposition (ii)
(ii) Short is the greatest late-night guests of all time.
Note Short's emphasis on "not to correct you," since, alla Grice, he isn't -- at the level of what is said (if not implicated or disimplicated).


MARTIN 
"I’d like to read that article again and see if it said “among the greatest.”"

Martin is right. He SHOULD read that article again (i.e. 'reread' it) and check Crouch's lingo.

In any case, consider again the logical form of (i), (ii), and (iii). Grice would say that they are all true at the level of what is said, if not implicated or disimplicated.

There's implicature for you!

Nobody is correcting nobody -- and No body is correcting Any body if you mustn't!