Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

The Philosophical Quarterly: Vol. 58, No. 231, April 2008

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

The Philosophical Quarterly: Vol. 58, No. 231, April 2008

Article excerpt

Two Arguments Against Realism, TIMOTHY BAYS

Bays presents two generalizations of Putnam's model-theoretic argument against realism. The first replaces Putnam's model theory with some new, and substantially simpler, model theory, while the second replaces Putnam's model theory with some more accessible results from astronomy. By design, both of these new arguments fail. But the similarities between these new arguments and Putnam's original arguments illuminate the latter's overall structure, and the flaws in these new arguments highlight the corresponding flaws in Putnam's arguments.

When is Circularity in Definitions Benign?, J. A. BURGESS

Burgess aims to show how and why some definitions can be benignly circular. According to Lloyd Humberstone, a definition that is analytically circular need not be inferentially circular and so might serve to illuminate the application-conditions for a concept. He begins by tidying up some problems with Humberstone's account. He then shows that circular definitions of a kind commonly thought to be benign have inferentially circular truth-conditions and so are malign by Humberstone's test. But his test is too demanding. The inferences we actually use to establish the applicability of, for example, color concepts are designed to establish warranted assertability and not truth. Understood thus, dispositional analyses are not inferentially circular.

The Paradox of Moore's Proof of an External World, ANNALISA COLIVA

Moore's proof of an external world is a piece of reasoning whose premises, in context, are true and warranted and whose conclusion is perfectly acceptable, and yet immediately seems flawed. Coliva argues that neither Wright's nor Pryor's readings of the proof can explain this paradox. Rather, one must take the proof as responding to a sceptical challenge to our right to claim to have warrant for our ordinary empirical beliefs, either for any particular empirical belief we might have, or for belief in the existence of an external world itself. Coliva shows how Wright's and Pryor's positions are of interest when taken in connection with Humean scepticism, but that it is only linking it with Cartesian scepticism which can explain why the proof strikes us as an obvious failure.

Desiring the Bad Under the Guise of the Good, JENNIFER HAWKINS

Desire is commonly spoken of as a state in which the desired object seems good, which apparently ascribes an evaluative element to desire. Hawkins offers a new defense of this old idea. As traditionally conceived, this view faces serious objections related to its way of characterizing desire's evaluative content. Hawkins develops an alternative conception of evaluative mental content which is plausible in its own right, allows the evaluative desire theorist to avoid the standard objections, and sheds interesting new light on the idea of evaluative experience.

NaVve Truth-Conditions and Meaning, LIONEL SHAPIRO

Critics of attempts to explain meaning in terms of truth-conditions have tended to charge their opponents with misconceptions regarding truth. Shapiro shall argue that the 'naVve' version of the truth-conditional theory which best accounts for its resilience fails for a different and more basic reason, namely, circularity arising from the contingency of meaning. One reason why this problem has been overlooked is a tendency (noted by Dummett in a different connection) to assimilate the naVve truth-conditional theory to an idealized verificationism.

Some Problems for Proof Theoretic Semantics, WILLIAM R. STIRTON

Proof-theoretic semantics is an approach to logical semantics based on two ideas, of which the first is that the meaning of a logical connective can be explained by stipulating that some mode of inference, for example, a natural deduction introduction or elimination rule, is permissible. The second idea is that the soundness of rules which are not stipulated outright may be deduced by some proof-theoretic argument from properties of the rules which are stipulated outright. …

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