Deuces Are Wild

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In the first part of the paper the major components of this idea are broken down. In the second the tension suffered by the idea of occasion-sensitivity is expounded and some aspects that need further development are indicated. English Copyright of Teorema is the property of Teorema and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. Rather, these are, for Kant, a priori conditions for the possibility of experience. However, it does not follow from this that there can be no such concepts.

Table of contents

First, McDowell, unlike Frege, misdiagnoses the problem. There is no need for a unifying function since no such unifying is required. Thoughts are not built up out of a series of component parts, such as concepts. Second, no amount of unifying that takes place within the conceptual domain can explain how environmental particulars, i. A sensitivity to what would count as such an instance under the relevant circumstances, i. Travis , is therefore of the essence of judgement. Thus any subsequent endorsement of this content is no longer recognisably an act of judgement.

The resulting exchange, which continues a long-running debate between Travis and McDowell, 5 helps to sharpen our understanding of these issues, highlighting potential opportunities for further philosophical and empirical work in this area, for example in defining the nature of the relevant conceptual capacities.

Disjunctivism, as Travis defines it, consists in the denial that there is any such type-identical content, and so any common factor. However, whether a thought is singular or general is, according to Travis, a function of its decomposition, and not a property of the thought itself. It is, as Travis puts it, a mere Vorstellung , or subjective idea, in the mind of some particular perceiver.

This of course raises the question of what else, other than the presence of the relevant object, would be required to yield such awareness. The main problem with the essay, however, is one that runs throughout the book, concerning its avowedly Fregean underpinnings. XIX, being a case in point. In a sense, this is itself the project of the book, but it is one in which some of the foundations appear to be missing.

The above noted flaw aside, the present collection makes a stimulating and highly original contribution to many debates in contemporary philosophy of perception. Indeed, it is unclear what philosophical talk about the content of conscious perceptual episodes, namely experiences , has to do with the kind of sub-personal representation that forms a standard part of psychological and neuroscientific causal explanations of brain mechanisms.

Overall, this collection presents a coherent and impressive case against the prevailing consensus that perception is representational, and is perhaps best read as setting the agenda for an alternative, non-representational understanding of perceptual psychology, as well as of the metaphysics of mind and consciousness more generally.

Brewer, Bill Macpherson eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. Brogaard, Berit forthcoming a. Burge, Tyler Byrne, Alex Philosophical Quarterly , 59 , pp. Chisholm, Roderick M. Perceiving: A Philosophical Study.

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Occasion-Sensitivity - Charles Travis - Oxford University Press

If you count a door over two stacks of milk crates as a desk, then yes. If not, then, no. These and similar cases are typically used to argue that the interpretation of a natural language expression is sensitive to certain factors pertaining to the occasion of use, and so that the compositionally determined meaning of a sentence underdetermines its intuitive truth-conditions.

Travis , , ; Recanati Thus, in our example, what Pia has in mind and which applications of the concept desk she would allow and which not, which inferences she would licence and which not, depends on other things she believes in or wants to do, besides tokening a certain mental particular. It is certainly not obvious that, even if OS is true for the linguistic case, it can be generalised in this way to other, non-linguistic representational systems.

The Poet - Essays 2nd Series - # 1 - Emerson

In Fodor , Jerry Fodor argues against radical contextualism for being committed to the thesis that the content of a simple representation is constituted by the occasion-specific information. However, not only do we lose strong compositionality by endorsing RC but, when extended to non-linguistic mental representation, OS has some problematic consequences. In this paper I will try to build a case for the thesis that OS generalises to mental representation, but defending it will require a non-standard interpretation of the phenomenon of OS where what varies cross-contextually is not the representational content of representations.

On the analysis of OS that I propose what varies across different occasions are not truth-conditions but acceptance conditions : what is occasion-sensitive is our readiness to accept that a true representation is true. On this view, our intuitions concerning Travis cases are not about truth and truth-conditions but about the acceptance of representations as being true with respect to contextually salient goals. A key feature of my proposal is that the semantics of representations remains classical as Fodor thinks it should whilst the sensitivity of our mental states to occasions still plays a central role in explaining rational behaviour in the spirit of radical contextualism.

The proposed view entails an error theory since it is claimed that, for practical reasons, rational thinkers systematically screen out, and are temporarily blind to, certain truth-makers for a given representation. That is, they refuse to accept as true certain true propositions. The discussion will be organised as follows.

In Sect. I conclude in Sect.


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Believing that green is the colour of leaves, she paints them. The leaves are green now. A botanist friend then phones, seeking green leaves for a study of green-leaf chemistry.

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Travis , p. What words mean plays a role in fixing when they would be true; but not an exhaustive one. Meaning leaves room for variation in truth conditions from one speaking to another Travis , p. Travis cases are typically used to argue that the interpretation of natural language expressions i.

However, for some theorists, the phenomenon is more general, affecting any symbolic system of representation including the language of thought LOT. The main idea is that not only natural language expressions but also possibly other types of non-linguistic representation would have to be supplemented by additional contextual information in order to be able to predict their effect on behaviour.

Mentalese sentences do not underdetermine their truth-conditional content, they are not context-sensitive, they are eternal. Carston , p. However, some theories Recanati ; Travis , , , in addition to claiming that natural language expressions have context-dependent contents, also assume that non-linguistic mental representations qua vehicles lack stable contents. Importantly, neither Travis nor Recanati think that thought-contents truth-conditions are context-sensitive or ambiguous; the claim is only that which content a Mentalese word or sentence expresses provided these are well motivated is not independently fixed but it depends on context.

Fodor , p. Notice that to endorse RC about natural language and to deny that natural language is strongly compositional need not entail anything about the compositionality of thought. In some of his other works, Fodor himself argues that natural languages are notoriously inexplicit and ambiguous, and therefore not compositional but he still, of course, maintains strong compositionality for thought.


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  • Can we preserve strong compositionality whilst maintaining that information about context is constitutive of what a thinker has in mind and her subsequent behaviour? In what follows I sketch an account on which thought is both strongly compositional and occasion-sensitive. I said above that although Travis cases are formulated in order to show that the interpretation i. But this is certainly not the only way to interpret the notion of what the thinker has in mind.


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    • However, I contend that these requirements can be met without endorsing a further claim to the effect that the notion of what the speaker has in mind corresponds to the content of her mental representation which need not be consciously entertained by the agent at least not in its entirety when the mental representation is tokened. Other factors besides content, notably a vehicle and a functional role, contribute to determining which belief state the thinker is in, including how being in this state will figure in her plans and her subsequent course of action. Thus, a belief state with the same content can result in different behaviours and inferences if these other factors are different.

      Let us call the set of possible worlds where R is true the truth set for R. If R expresses the content that the leaves are green, then the truth set will contain different subsets of worlds: one where the leaves are naturally green, other where they are painted green, yet another where they are moldy green etc.

      Call each of these subsets of the truth set a truth-maker for R or, equally, a way for R to be true.