•  79
    That Wilfrid Sellars claims that the framework of persons is not a descriptive framework, but a normative one is about as well known as any claim that he makes. This claim is at the core of the famous demand for a synoptic image that closes, “Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man,” makes its appearance at key moments in the grand argument of, “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind,” and is the capstone of Sellars’ engagement with Kant in, Science and Metaphysics. Whereas mere things can …Read more
  •  132
    Shepherd on Hume’s Argument for the Possibility of Uncaused Existence
    Journal of Modern Philosophy 2 (1): 13. 2020.
    Shepherd’s argument against Hume’s thesis that an object can begin its existence uncaused has received short shrift in the secondary literature. I argue that the key to understanding that argument’s success is understanding its dialectical context. Shepherd sees the dialectical situation as follows. Hume presents an argument against Locke and Clarke the conclusion of which is that an object can come into existence uncaused. An essential premise of that argument is Hume’s theory of mental represe…Read more
  •  11
    Character and Causation: Hume's Philosophy of Action by Constantine Sandis
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 58 (2): 406-407. 2020.
    Constantine Sandis's suggestive new book consists of a series of discrete studies of aspects of Hume's philosophical system that culminate in an argument for the conclusion that "on Hume's view... we are only morally responsible for that subset of actions that have been motivated by our character traits". That final conclusion is the end of a wide-ranging and systematic argument that feels too compressed in the scant one-hundred and twenty-three pages in which it is presented, especially since t…Read more
  •  135
    A Defense of Shepherd’s Account of Cause and Effect as Synchronous
    Journal of Modern Philosophy 2 (1): 1. 2020.
    Lady Mary Shepherd holds that the relation of cause and effect consists of the combination of two objects to create a third object. She also holds that this account implies that causes are synchronous with their effects. There is a single instant in which the objects that are causes combine to create the object which is their effect. Hume argues that cause and effect cannot be synchronous because if they were then the entire chain of successive causes and effects would all collapse into a single…Read more
  •  3
    Sellars and Hume on the Ontological Status of Theoretical-Explanatory Entities
    In Luca Cortini, Luca Corti & Antonio Nunziante (eds.), Sellars and the History of Modern Philosophy, Routledge. pp. 59-78. 2018.
    Though Sellars often criticizes Hume, Hume's treatment of theoretical entities turns out to have more in common with Sellars' view of them than with the view of the logical positivists who claimed Hume as their predecessor
  •  97
    In Kant, Science, and Human Nature, Robert Hanna argues against a version of scientific realism founded on the Kripke/Putnam theory of reference, and defends a Kant-inspired manifest realism in its place. I reject Kriple/Putnam for different reasons than Hanna does, and argue that what should replace it is not manifest realism, but Kant‘s own scientific realism, which rests on a radically different theory of reference. Kant holds that we picture manifest objects by uniting manifolds of sensation…Read more
  •  128
    Scholars working on Kant’s Anticipations of Perception generally attribute to him an argument that invalidly infers that objects have degrees of intensive magnitude from the premise that sensations do. I argue that this rests on an incorrect disambiguation of Kant’s use of Empfindung as referring to the mental states that are our sensings, rather than the objects that are thereby sensed. Kant’s real argument runs as follows. The difference between a representation of an empty region of space and…Read more
  •  145
    Sellars' Argument for an Ontology of Absolute Processes
    Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 7 (1): 1-25. 2019.
    Scholars have rejected Wilfrid Sellars’ argument for an ontology of absolute processes on the grounds that it relies on a dubious and dogmatic appeal to the homogeneity of color. Borrowing from Rosenthal’s recent defense, but ultimate rejection of homogeneity, I defend this claim of on Sellarsian/Kantian transcendental grounds, and reconstruct the remainder of his argument. I argue that Sellars has good reason to suppose that homogeneity is a necessary condition of any possible experience, inclu…Read more
  •  69
    What Incongruent Counterparts Show
    European Journal of Philosophy 21 (4): 507-524. 2013.
    In a recent paper, Robert Hanna argues that Kant's incongruent counterparts example can be mobilized to show that some mental representations, which represent complex states of affairs as complex, do so entirely non-conceptually. I will argue that Hanna is right to see that Kant uses incongruent counterparts to show that there must be a non-conceptual component to cognition, but goes too far in concluding that there must be entirely non-conceptual representations that represent objects as existi…Read more
  •  47
    A Puzzle about Hume's Theory of General Representation
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 54 (2): 257-282. 2016.
    according to hume’s theory of general representation, we represent generalities by associating certain ideas with certain words. On one prominent understanding of this theory, calling things by one name or another does not represent any real qualities of those things or any real relations between them. This interpretation runs into difficulty when we turn our attention to Hume’s own use of such general terms throughout the Treatise. It would seem that Hume’s own distinctions—such as the impressio…Read more
  •  38
    Kant’s Inferentialism draws on a wide range of sources to present a reading of Kant’s theory of mental representation as a direct response to the challenges issued by Hume in A Treatise of Human Nature. Kant rejects the conclusions that Hume draws on the grounds that these are predicated on Hume’s theory of mental representation, which Kant refutes by presenting objections to Hume’s treatment of representations of complex states of affairs and the nature of judgment. In its place, Kant combines …Read more
  •  17
    Hume’s Science of Human Nature is an investigation of the philosophical commitments underlying Hume's methodology in pursuing what he calls ‘the science of human nature’. It argues that Hume understands scientific explanation as aiming at explaining the inductively-established universal regularities discovered in experience via an appeal to the nature of the substance underlying manifest phenomena. For years, scholars have taken Hume to employ a deliberately shallow and demonstrably untenable no…Read more
  •  70
    Recent Scholarship on Hume's Theory of Mental Representation
    European Journal of Philosophy 26 (1): 333-347. 2018.
    In a recent paper, Karl Schafer argues that Hume's theory of mental representation has two distinct components, unified by their shared feature of having accuracy conditions. As Schafer sees it, simple and complex ideas represent the intrinsic imagistic features of their objects whereas abstract ideas represent the relations or structures in which multiple objects stand. This distinction, however, is untenable for at least two related reasons. Firstly, complex ideas represent the relations or st…Read more
  •  28
    Is Hume an Inductivist?
    Hume Studies 41 (2): 231-261. 2015.
    Across a series of papers and again in her recent book, Graciela De Pierris has argued that Hume is what she calls an inductivist about the methods of science. De Pierris takes Hume to follow Newton in holding that the ultimate aim of science is to seek "assurance concerning objects, which are removed from the present testimony of our memory and senses",1 and its method therefore to consist in the subsumption of observable particulars under inductively-established universal generalizations. As D…Read more
  •  45
    Inferentialism and the Transcendental Deduction
    Kantian Review 14 (1): 1-30. 2009.
    One recent trend in Kant scholarship has been to read Kant as undertaking a project in philosophical semantics, as opposed to, say, epistemology, or transcendental metaphysics. This trend has evolved almost concurrently with a debate in contemporary philosophy of mind about the nature of concepts and their content. Inferentialism is the view that the content of our concepts is essentially inferentially articulated, that is, that the content of a concept consists entirely, or in essential part, i…Read more
  •  61
    A (sellarsian) Kantian critique of Hume's theory of concepts
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88 (4). 2007.
    In A Treatise of Human Nature, Hume attempts to explain all human cognition in terms of impressions, ideas, and their qualities, behaviors, and relations. This explanation includes a complicated attempted reduction of beliefs, or judgments, to single ideas. This paper attempts to demonstrate one of the inadequacies of this approach, and any of its kind (any attempted reduction of judgments to their constituent parts, single or multiple) via an argument concerning the logical forms of judgment fo…Read more
  •  59
    Hegel's account of rule-following
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 51 (2). 2008.
    I here discuss Hegel's rule-following considerations as they are found in the first four chapters of his Phenomenology of Spirit. I begin by outlining a number of key premises in Hegel's argument that he adopts fairly straightforwardly from Kant's Transcendental Deduction. The most important of these is that the correctness or incorrectness of one's application of a rule must be recognizable as such to the rule-follower. Supplementing Hegel's text as needed, I then argue that it is possible for …Read more
  •  81
    Descartes' compositional theory of mental representation
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (2): 214-231. 2011.
    In his, ‘Descartes' Ontology of Thought’, Alan Nelson presents, on Descartes' behalf, a compositional theory of mental representation according to which the content of any mental representation is either simple or is entirely constituted by a combination of innate simples. Here the simples are our ideas of God, thought, extension, and union. My objection will be that it is simply ludicrous to think that any four simples are adequate to the task of combining to constitute all of human thought, an…Read more
  •  110
    Hume’s Impression/Idea Distinction
    Hume Studies 32 (1): 119-139. 2006.
    Understanding the distinction between impressions and ideas that Hume draws in the opening paragraphs of his A Treatise on Human Nature is essential for understanding much of Hume’s philosophy. This, however, is a task that has been the cause of a good deal of controversy in the literature on Hume. I here argue that the significant philosophical and exegetical issues previous treatments of this distinction (such as the force and vivacity reading and the external-world reading) encounter are extr…Read more
  •  78
    Sellars on Hume and Kant on Representing Complexes
    European Journal of Philosophy 17 (2): 224-246. 2009.
    No Abstract In his graduate-seminar lectures on Kant—published as Kant and Pre-Kantian Themes (Sellars, 2002)—Wilfrid Sellars argues that because Hume cannot distinguish between a vivacious idea and an idea of something vivacious he cannot account for the human ability to represent temporally complex states of affairs. The first section of this paper aims to show that this argument is not properly aimed at the historical Hume who can, on a proper reading, distinguish these kinds of representati…Read more
  •  8