• Belief, Rationality and Psychophysical Laws
    The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 35 124-129. 1998.
    Davidson argues that the connection between belief and the "constitutive ideal of rationality" precludes the possibility of their being any type-type identities between mental and physical events. However, there are radically different ways to understand both the nature and content of this "constitutive ideal," and the plausibility of Davidson’s argument depends on blurring the distinction between two of these ways. Indeed, it will be argued here that no consistent understanding of the constitut…Read more
  •  65
    Interpretivism and "Canonical" Ascriptions
    Studia Philosophica Estonica 1-10. 2015.
    This paper investigates the crucial notion of a "canonical ascription statement" in Bruno Mölder's /Mind Ascribed/, and argues that the reasons given for preferring the book's approach of canonicallity to a more common understanding of canonicallity in terms of the ascriptions we would "ideally" make are not only unpersuasive, but also leave the interpretivist position more open to skeptical worries than it should be. The paper further argues that the resources for a more compelling justificatio…Read more
  •  33
    "Meaning Holism"
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2014.
    A general introduction to the issues surrounding the question of semantic holism.
  •  171
    William James on Conceptions and Private Language
    Belgrade Philosophical Annual 30 175-193. 2017.
    William James was one of the most frequently cited authors in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, but the attention paid to James’s Principles of Psycho- logy in that work is typically explained in terms of James having ‘committed in a clear, exemplary manner, fundamental errors in the philosophy of mind.’ (Goodman 2002, p. viii.) The most notable of these ‘errors’ was James’s purported commitment to a conception of language as ‘private’. Commentators standardly treat James as committed…Read more
  •  198
    Semantic Norms and Temporal Externalism
    Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. 1996.
    There has frequently been taken to be a tension, if not an incompatibility, between "externalist" theories of content (which allow the make-up of one's physical environment and the linguistic usage of one's community to contribute to the contents of one's thoughts and utterances) and the "methodologically individualist" intuition that whatever contributes to the content of one's thoughts and utterances must ultimately be grounded in facts about one's own attitudes and behavior. In this dissertat…Read more
  •  131
    Radical interpretation and the permutation principle
    Erkenntnis 44 (3): 317-326. 1996.
    Davidson has claimed that to conclude that reference is inscrutable, one must assume that "If some theory of truth... is satisfactory in the light of all relevant evidence... then any theory that is generated from the first theory by a permutation will also be satisfactory in the light of all relevant evidence." However, given that theories of truth are not directly read off the world, but rather serve as parts of larger theories of behavior, this assumption is far from self-evident. A proper un…Read more
  •  198
    Externalism, metasemantic contextualism, and self-knowledge
    In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), Externalism, Self-Knowledge and Skepticism., Oxford University Press. pp. 228-247. 2015.
    This paper examines some of the interactions between holism, contextualism, and externalism, and will argue that an externalist metasemantics that grounds itself in certain plausible assumptions about self- knowledge will also be a contextualist metasemantics, and that such a contextualist metasemantics in turn resolves one of the best known problems externalist theories purportedly have with self-knowledge, namely the problem of how the possibility of various sorts of ‘switching’ cases can appe…Read more
  •  309
    Ordinary Language, Conventionalism and a priori Knowledge
    Dialectica 55 (4): 315-325. 2001.
    This paper examines popular‘conventionalist’explanations of why philosophers need not back up their claims about how‘we’use our words with empirical studies of actual usage. It argues that such explanations are incompatible with a number of currently popular and plausible assumptions about language's ‘social’character. Alternate explanations of the philosopher's purported entitlement to make a priori claims about‘our’usage are then suggested. While these alternate explanations would, unlike the …Read more
  •  8
    Belief, Rationality, and Psychophysical Laws
    The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 9 47-54. 2000.
    Davidson has argued that the connection between belief and the “constitutive ideal of rationality” precludes the possibility of their being any type-type identities between mental and physical events. However, there are radically different ways to understand both the nature and the content of this “constitutive ideal,” and the plausibility of Davidson’s argument depends on blurring the distinction between two of these ways. Indeed, it will be argued here that no consistent understandingthe const…Read more
  •  173
    Charity, Self-Interpretation, and Belief
    Journal of Philosophical Research 28 143-168. 2003.
    The purpose of this paper is to motivate and defend a recognizable version of N. L. Wilson's "Principle of Charity" Doing so will involve: (1) distinguishing it fromthe significantly different versions of the Principle familiar through the work of Quine and Davidson; (2) showing that it is compatible with, among other things, both semantic externalism and "simulation" accounts of interpretation; and (3) explaining how it follows from plausible constraints relating to the connection between inter…Read more
  •  188
    Temporal externalism and epistemic theories of vagueness
    Philosophical Studies 117 (1-2): 79-94. 2004.
    'Epistemic' theories of vagueness notoriously claim that (despite the appearances to the contrary) all of our vague terms have sharp boundaries, it's just that we can't know what they are. Epistemic theories are typically criticized for failing to explain (1) the source of the ignorance postulated, and (2) how our terms could come to have such precise boundaries. Both of these objections will, however, be shown to rest on certain 'presentist' assumptions about the relation between use and meanin…Read more
  •  293
    Intuitions and semantic theory
    Metaphilosophy 36 (3): 363-380. 2005.
    While engaged in the analysis of topics such as the nature of knowledge, meaning, or justice, analytic philosophers have traditionally relied extensively on their own intuitions about when the relevant terms can, and can't, be correctly applied. Consequently, if intuitions about possible cases turned out not to be a reliable tool for the proper analysis of philosophically central concepts, then a radical reworking of philosophy's (or at least analytic philosophy's) methodology would seem to be i…Read more
  •  221
    Expression, thought, and language
    Philosophia 31 (1-2): 33-54. 2003.
    This paper discusses an "expressive constraint" on accounts of thought and language which requires that when a speaker expresses a belief by sincerely uttering a sentence, the utterance and the belief have the same content. It will be argued that this constraint should be viewed as expressing a conceptual connection between thought and language rather than a mere empirical generalization about the two. However, the most obvious accounts of the relation between thought and language compatible wit…Read more
  •  96
    Our ascriptions of content to utterances in the past attribute to them a level of determinacy that extends beyond what could supervene upon the usage up to the time of those utterances. If one accepts the truth of such ascriptions, one can either (1) argue that subsequent use must be added to the supervenience base that determines the meaning of a term at a time, or (2) argue that such cases show that meaning does not supervene upon use at all. The following will argue against authors such as L…Read more
  •  159
    It has frequently been suggested that meaning is, in some important sense, normative. However, precisely what is particularly normative about it is often left without any satisfactory explanation, and the ‘normativity thesis’ has thus, justly, been called into question. That said, it will be argued here that the intuition that meaning is ‘normative’ is on the right track, even if many of the purported explanations for meaning’s normativity are not. In particular, rather that being particularly s…Read more
  •  13
    Review of Cheryl Misak , New Pragmatists (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (5). 2008.
  •  110
    Prudential Arguments, Naturalized Epistemology, and the Will to Believe
    Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 35 (1). 1999.
    This paper argues that treating James' "The Will to Believe" as a defense of prudential reasoning about belief seriously misrepresents it. Rather than being a precursor to current defenses of prudential arguments, James paper has, if anything, more affinities to certain prominent strains in contemporary naturalized epistemology.
  •  189
    James' pragmatic account of intentionality and truth
    Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 34 (1): 155-181. 1998.
    William James presents a preference-sensitive and future-directed notion of truth that has struck many as wildly revisionary. This paper argues that such a reaction usually results from failing to see how his accounts of truth and intentionality are intertwined. James' forward-looking account of intentionality (or "knowing") compares favorably the 'causal' and 'resemblance-driven' accounts that have been popular since his day, and it is only when his remarks about truth are placed in the context…Read more
  •  142
    Incompatibility Arguments and Semantic Self Knowledge
    Southwest Philosophy Review 23 (1): 173-180. 2007.
    There has been much discussion recently of what has been labeled the “Brown-Boghossian-McKinsey”, “Brown-McKinsey” or sometimes just “McKinsey” arguments for the incompatibility of externalism and self-knowledge. However, while the three author's arguments have been treated as interchangeable, they are not identical. In particular, Brown’s and Boghossian’s arguments have a fairly serious flaw that cannot so easily be attributed to McKinsey. In what follows, I’ll (1) present a version of the …Read more
  •  122
    William James has been characterized as “the major whipping boy of the later Wittgenstein,” and the currency of this impression of the relation between James and Wittgenstein is understandable. Reading Wittgenstein and his commentators can leave one with the impression that James was a badly muddled “exponent of the tradition in the philosophy of mind that [Wittgenstein] was opposing.” There have been recent attempts to resist this trend, but even these tend to focus on the affinities between th…Read more
  •  93
    While holism and atomism are often treated as mutually exclusive approaches to semantic theory, the apparent tension between the two usually results from running together distinct levels of semantic explanation. In particular, there is no reason why one can’t combine an atomistic conception of what the semantic values of our words are (one’s “descriptive semantics”), with a holistic explanation of why they have those values (one’s “foundational semantics”). Most objections to holism can be shown…Read more
  •  21
    Temporal Externalism and Epistemic Theories of Vagueness
    The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 6 77-83. 2007.
    'Epistemic' accounts of vagueness argue that so called 'borderline' cases of a term actually always do fall within that term's extension. What makes the case borderline is that this fact may be unknowable. Such epistemic theories have traditionally been taken to be unable to accommodate the intuitive connection between meaning and use. However, it will be argued here that if one endorses a type of 'Temporal Externalism' about meaning, then one can both endorse epistemic accounts of vagueness and…Read more
  •  51
    A belief ascription such as “Oedipus believes that his mother is the queen of Thebes” can be understood in two ways, one in which it seems true, and another in which it seems false. It can seem true because the woman who was, in fact, Oedipus’ mother was believed by him to be the queen of Thebes. It can seem false because Oedipus himself would have sincerely denied that Jocasta could be correctly characterized as “Oedipus’s mother.” Belief ascriptions thus seem to admit of two interpretations, a…Read more
  •  40
    This paper argues that, according to James, we are committed to their being a kind of stable consensus, and we are committed to its being one that we can recognize ourselves in, but by underwriting such regulative ideals through a ‘will to believe’ rather than a transcendental argument, we make our commitment to their being an end of inquiry a practical rather than theoretical one. Objectivity is something we are committed to making, not something that we are committed to their already being out…Read more
  •  149
    Moderate holism and the instability thesis
    American Philosophical Quarterly 36 (4): 361-69. 1999.
    This paper argues that popular criticisms of semantic holism (such as that it leaves the ideas of translation, disagreement and change of mind problematic) are more properly directed at an "instability assumption" which, while often associated with holism, can be separated from it. The versions of holism that follow from 'interpretational' account of meaning are not committed to the instability assumption and can thus avoid many of the problems traditionally associated with holism.
  •  46
    Unadorned process reliabilism (hereafter UPR) takes any true belief produced by a reliable process (undefeated by any other reliable process) to count as knowledge. Consequently, according to UPR, to know p, you need not know that you know it. In particular, you need not know that the process by which you formed your belief was reliable; its simply being reliable is enough to make the true belief knowledge. Defenders of UPR are often presented with purported counterexamples describing subjects…Read more
  •  275
    Foundationalism, coherentism, and rule-following skepticism
    International Journal of Philosophical Studies 11 (1): 25-41. 2003.
    Semantic holists view what one's terms mean as function of all of one's usage. Holists will thus be coherentists about semantic justification: showing that one's usage of a term is semantically justified involves showing how it coheres with the rest of one's usage. Semantic atomists, by contrast, understand semantic justification in a foundationalist fashion. Saul Kripke has, on Wittgenstein's behalf, famously argued for a type of skepticism about meaning and semantic justification. However, Kri…Read more