College Papers Plus
  •  362
    Two concepts of "form" and the so-called computational theory of mind
    Philosophical Psychology 19 (6): 795-821. 2006.
    According to the computational theory of mind , to think is to compute. But what is meant by the word 'compute'? The generally given answer is this: Every case of computing is a case of manipulating symbols, but not vice versa - a manipulation of symbols must be driven exclusively by the formal properties of those symbols if it is qualify as a computation. In this paper, I will present the following argument. Words like 'form' and 'formal' are ambiguous, as they can refer to form in either the s…Read more
  •  340
    Analytic Philosophy
    Kendall Hunt Pub. Co. 2009.
    Philosophy is the science of the science; it is the analysis of the assumptions underlying empirical inquiry. Given that these assumptions cannot possibly be examined or even identified on the basis of empirical data, it follows that philosophy is a non-empirical discipline. And given that our linguistic and cultural practices cannot possibly be examined or even identified except on the basis of empirical data, it follows that philosophical questions are not linguistic questions and do not other…Read more
  •  316
    Another argument against the thesis that there is a language of thought
    Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 37 (2): 83-103. 2004.
    One cannot have the concept of a red object without having the concept of an extended object. But the word "red" doesn't contain the word "extended." In general, our concepts are interconnected in ways in which the corresponding words are not interconnected. This is not an accidental fact about the English language or about any other language: it is inherent in what a language is that the cognitive abilities corresponding to a person's abilities to use words cannot possibly be reflected in seman…Read more
  •  310
    Linguistic expressions must be decrypted if they are to transmit information. Thoughts need not be decrypted if they are to transmit information. Therefore thought-processes do not consist of linguistic expressions: thought is not linguistic. A consequence is that thought is not computational, given that a computation is the operationalization of a function that assigns one expression to some other expression (or sequence of expressions).
  •  291
    Intensionality, Modality, Rationality: Some Presemantic Considerations
    Journal of Pragmatics 42 (8): 2314-2346. 2010.
    On the basis of arguments put forth by (Kripke, 1977a) and (Kripke, 1980), it is widely held that one can sometimes rationally accept propositions of the form "P and not-P" and also that there are necessary a posteriori truths. We will find that Kripke's arguments for these views appear probative only so long as one fails to distinguish between semantics and presemantics—between the literal meanings of sentences, on the one hand, and the information on the basis of which one identifies those lit…Read more
  •  280
    Formal operations and simulated thought
    Philosophical Explorations 9 (2): 221-234. 2006.
    A series of representations must be semantics-driven if the members of that series are to combine into a single thought: where semantics is not operative, there is at most a series of disjoint representations that add up to nothing true or false, and therefore do not constitute a thought at all. A consequence is that there is necessarily a gulf between simulating thought, on the one hand, and actually thinking, on the other. A related point is that a popular doctrine - the so-called 'computation…Read more
  •  263
    Does Possible World Semantics Turn all Propositions into Necessary ones?
    Journal of Pragmatics 39 (5): 972-916. 2007.
    "Jim would still be alive if he hadn't jumped" means that Jim's death was a consequence of his jumping. "x wouldn't be a triangle if it didn't have three sides" means that x's having a three sides is a consequence its being a triangle. Lewis takes the first sentence to mean that Jim is still alive in some alternative universe where he didn't jump, and he takes the second to mean that x is a non-triangle in every alternative universe where it doesn't have three sides. Why did Lewis have such obvi…Read more
  •  261
    Review of "Descriptions and Beyond" (review)
    Pragmatics and Cognition 14 (1): 196-204. 2006.
    In order to understand a sentence, one must know the relevant semantic rules. Those rules are not learned in a vacuum; they are given to one through one's senses. As a result, knowledge of semantic rules sometimes comes bundled with semantically irrelevant, but cognitively non-innocuous, knowledge of the circumstances in which those rules were learned. Thus, one must work through non-semantic information in order to know what is literally meant by a given sentence-token. A consequence is that on…Read more
  •  260
    Contemporary philosophy and theoretical psychology are dominated by an acceptance of content-externalism: the view that the contents of one's mental states are constitutively, as opposed to causally, dependent on facts about the external world. In the present work, it is shown that content-externalism involves a failure to distinguish between semantics and pre-semantics---between, on the one hand, the literal meanings of expressions and, on the other hand, the information that one must exploit i…Read more
  •  225
    Morality, Politics, and Law
    Kendall Hunt Publishing. 2010.
    It is argued (a) that laws are assurances of protections of rights and (b) that governments are protectors of rights. Lest those assurances be empty and thus not really be assurances at all, laws must be enforced and governments must therefore have the power to coerce. For this reason, the government of a given region tends to have, as Max Weber put it, a "monopoly on power" in that region. And because governments are power-monopolizers, it is tempting to think that the concepts of government a…Read more
  •  223
    Counterfactuals: The epistemic analysis
    Philosophia Scientiae 9 (1): 83-126. 2005.
    Ordinarily counterfactuals are seen as making statements about states of affairs, albeit ones that hold in merely possible or alternative worlds. Thus analyzed, nearly all counterfactuals turn out to be incoherent. Any counterfactual, thus analyzed, requires that there be a metaphysically (not just epistemically) possible world w where the laws are the same as here, and where almost all of the facts are the same as here. (The factual differences relate to the…Read more
  •  213
    A brief but rigorous description of the logical structure of mathematical truth.
  •  154
    Boguslawski's Analysis of Quantification in Natural Language
    Journal of Pragmatics 42 (10): 2836-2844. 2010.
    The semantic rules governing natural language quantifiers (e.g. "all," "some," "most") neither coincide with nor resemble the semantic rules governing the analogues of those expressions that occur in the artificial languages used by semanticists. Some semanticists, e.g. Peter Strawson, have put forth data-consistent hypotheses as to the identities of the semantic rules governing some natural-language quantifiers. But, despite their obvious merits, those hypotheses have been universally rejected…Read more
  •  146
    Non-Declarative Sentences and the Theory of Definite Descriptions
    Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 8 (1): 119-154. 2004.
    This paper shows that Russell’s theory of descriptions gives the wrong se-mantics for definite descriptions occurring in questions and imperatives. Depending on how that theory is applied, it either assigns nonsense to per-fectly meaningful questions and assertions or it assigns meanings that di-verge from the actual semantics of such sentences, even after all pragmatic and contextual variables are allowed for. Given that Russell’s theory is wrong for questions and assertions, it must be wrong f…Read more
  •  145
    Does the idea of a "Language of Thought" make sense?
    Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 35 (4): 173-192. 2002.
    Sense-perceptions do not have to be deciphered if their contents are to be uploaded, the reason being that they are presentations, not representations. Linguistic expressions do have to be deciphered if their contents are to be uploaded, the reason being that they are representations, not presentations. It is viciously regressive to suppose that information-bearing mental entities are categorically in the nature of representations, as opposed to presentations, and it is therefore incoherent to s…Read more
  •  138
    Some non-revisionist solutions to some semantic antinomies
    Philosophical Inquiry 37 (3-4): 51-61. 2013.
    It is shown that Russell's Paradox can be solved without advocating the Theory of Types, and also that the Liar's Paradox can be solved in much the same way. Neither solution requires that any of our commonsense-based beliefs be revised, let alone jettisoned. It is also shown that the Theory of Types is false.
  •  134
    Implicit comparatives and the Sorites
    History and Philosophy of Logic 27 (1): 1-8. 2006.
    A person with one dollar is poor. If a person with n dollars is poor, then so is a person with n + 1 dollars. Therefore, a person with a billion dollars is poor. True premises, valid reasoning, a false a conclusion. This is an instance of the Sorites-paradox. (There are infinitely many such paradoxes. A man with an IQ of 1 is unintelligent. If a man with an IQ of n is unintelligent, so is a man with an IQ of n+1. Therefore a man with an IQ of 200 is unintelligent.) Most attempts to solve this pa…Read more
  •  111
    Ninety Paradoxes of Philosophy and Psychology
    with John-Michael Kuczynski
    Freud Institute. 2018.
    Solutions to ninety paradoxes, some old, some new.
  •  110
    Some arguments against intentionalism
    Acta Analytica 19 (32): 107-141. 2004.
    According to a popular doctrine known as "intentionalism," two experiences must have different representational contents if they have different phenomenological contents, in other words, what they represent must differ if what they feel like differs. Were this position correct, the representational significance of a given affect (or 'quale'---plural 'qualia'--to use the preferred term), e.g. a tickle, would be fixed: what it represented would not be a function of the subject's beliefs, past expe…Read more
  •  89
    Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara. 2006.
    What are laws, and do they necessarily have any basis in morality? The present work argues that laws are governmental assurances of protections of rights and that concepts of law and legal obligation must therefore be understood in moral terms. There are, of course, many immoral laws. But once certain basic truths are taken into account – in particular, that moral principles have a “dimension of weight”, to use an expression of Ronald Dworkin’s, and also that principled relations are not always …Read more
  •  88
    What is Literal Meaning?
    Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 46 (1-4). 2014.
    The meaning of morpheme (a minimal unit of linguistic significance) cannot diverge from what it is taken to mean. But the meaning of a complex expression can diverge without limit from what it is taken to mean, given that the meaning of such an expression is a logical consequence of the meanings of its parts, coupled with the fact that people are not infallible ratiocinators. Nonetheless, given Chomsky’s distinction between competence (ability) and performance (ability to deploy ability), what a…Read more
  •  59
    A proof of the partial anomalousness of the mental
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 36 (4): 491-504. 1998.
    Ontologically, brains are more basic than mental representations. Epistemologically, mental representations are more basic than brains and, indeed, all other non-mental entities: it is, and must be, on the basis of mental representations that we know anything about non-mental entities. Since, consequently, mental representations are epistemically more fundamental than brains, the former cannot possibly be explained in terms of the latter, notwithstanding that the latter are ontologically more fu…Read more
  •  58
    Existentia: An International Journal of Philosophy (3-4): 279-320. 2006.
    Hume's attempt to show that deduction is the only legitimate form of inference presupposes that enumerative induction is the only non-deductive form of inference. In actuality, enumerative induction is not even a form of inference: all supposed cases of enumerative induction are disguised cases of Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE), so far as they aren't simply cases of mentation of a purely associative kind and, consequently, of a kind that is non-inductive and otherwise non-inferential. T…Read more
  •  48
    Is Mind an Emergent Property?
    Cogito 13 (2): 117-119. 1999.
    It is often said that (M) "mind is an emergent property of matter." M is ambiguous, the reason being that, for all x and y, "x is an emergent property of y" has two distinct and mutually opposed meanings, namely: (i) x is a product of y (in the sense in which a chair is the product of the activity of a furniture-maker); and (ii) y is either identical or constitutive of x, but, relative to the information available at a given time t, x-statements are not analytic consequences of y-statements. If …Read more
  •  48
    Empiricism and the Foundations of Psychology
    John Benjamins Pub. Co. 2012.
    Intended for philosophically minded psychologists and psychologically minded philosophers, this book identifies the ways that psychology has hobbled itself by adhering too strictly to empiricism, this being the doctrine that all knowledge is observation-based. In the first part of this two-part work, it is shown that empiricism is false. In the second part, the psychology-relevant consequences of this fact are identified. Five of these are of special importance. First, whereas some psychopatholo…Read more
  •  46
    Davidson on Turing: Rationality Misunderstood?
    Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 9 (1-2): 111-124. 2005.
    Alan Turing advocated a kind of functionalism: A machine M is a thinker provided that it responds in certain ways to certain inputs. Davidson argues that Turing’s functionalism is inconsistent with a cer-tain kind of epistemic externalism, and is therefore false. In Davidson’s view, concepts consist of causal liasons of a certain kind between subject and object. Turing’s machine doesn’t have the right kinds of causal li-asons to its environment. Therefore it doesn’t have concepts. Therefore it d…Read more
  •  46
    Short papers on OCD, philosophy, psychopathy, psychopathology generally, and their interrelations.
  •  39
    A Non-russellian Treatment Of The Referential-attributive Distinction
    Pragmatics and Cognition 12 (2): 253-294. 2004.
    Kripke made a good case that “…the phi…“ is not semantically ambiguous between referential and attributive meanings. Russell says that “…the phi…“ is always to be analyzed attributively. Many semanticists, agreeing with Kripke that “…the phi…“ is not ambiguous, have tried to give a Russellian analysis of the referential-attributive distinction: the gross deviations between what is communicated by “…the phi..“, on the one hand, and what Russell's theory says it literally means, on the other, are …Read more
  •  38
    Time Travel
    It is clearly stated what time-travel would be, were it possible, and it is thereby shown that the very concept of time-travel is incoherent.