•  1299
    Revisited Linguistic Intuitions
    with Jennifer Culbertson
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (3). 2011.
    Michael Devitt ([2006a], [2006b]) argues that, insofar as linguists possess better theories about language than non-linguists, their linguistic intuitions are more reliable. (Culbertson and Gross [2009]) presented empirical evidence contrary to this claim. Devitt ([2010]) replies that, in part because we overemphasize the distinction between acceptability and grammaticality, we misunderstand linguists' claims, fall into inconsistency, and fail to see how our empirical results can be squared with…Read more
  •  1273
    Linguistic Intuitions
    Philosophy Compass 8 (8): 714-730. 2013.
    Linguists often advert to what are sometimes called linguistic intuitions. These intuitions and the uses to which they are put give rise to a variety of philosophically interesting questions: What are linguistic intuitions – for example, what kind of attitude or mental state is involved? Why do they have evidential force and how might this force be underwritten by their causal etiology? What light might their causal etiology shed on questions of cognitive architecture – for example, as a case st…Read more
  •  1001
    Are linguists better subjects?
    with Jennifer Culbertson
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4): 721-736. 2009.
    Who are the best subjects for judgment tasks intended to test grammatical hypotheses? Michael Devitt ( [2006a] , [2006b] ) argues, on the basis of a hypothesis concerning the psychology of such judgments, that linguists themselves are. We present empirical evidence suggesting that the relevant divide is not between linguists and non-linguists, but between subjects with and without minimally sufficient task-specific knowledge. In particular, we show that subjects with at least some minimal exposu…Read more
  •  888
    Innateness
    In Eric Margolis, Richard Samuels & Stephen Stich (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    A survey of innateness in cognitive science, focusing on (1) what innateness might be, and (2) whether concepts might be innate.
  •  738
    Knowledge of Meaning, Conscious and Unconscious
    The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication. 2010.
    This paper motivates two bases for ascribing propositional semantic knowledge (or something knowledgelike): first, because it’s necessary to rationalize linguistic action; and, second, because it’s part of an empirical theory that would explain various aspects of linguistic behavior. The semantic knowledge ascribed on these two bases seems to differ in content, epistemic status, and cognitive role. This raises the question: how are they related, if at all? The bulk of the paper addresses this qu…Read more
  •  596
    Problems for the Purported Cognitive Penetration of Perceptual Color Experience and Macpherson’s Proposed Mechanism
    with Thitaporn Chaisilprungraung, Elizabeth Kaplan, Jorge Aurelio Menendez, and Jonathan Flombaum
    Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication. 2014.
    Fiona Macpherson (2012) argues that various experimental results provide strong evidence in favor of the cognitive penetration of perceptual color experience. Moreover, she proposes a mechanism for how such cognitive penetration occurs. We argue, first, that the results on which Macpherson relies do not provide strong grounds for her claim of cognitive penetrability; and, second, that, if the results do reflect cognitive penetrability, then time-course considerations raise worries for her propos…Read more
  •  576
    Resource rationality may explain suboptimal patterns of reasoning; but what of “anti-Bayesian” effects where the mind updates in a direction opposite the one it should? We present two phenomena — belief polarization and the size-weight illusion — that are not obviously explained by performance- or resource-based constraints, nor by the authors’ brief discussion of reference repulsion. Can resource rationality accommodate them?
  •  570
    Does perceptual consciousness require cognitive access? Ned Block argues that it does not. Central to his case are visual memory experiments that employ post-stimulus cueing—in particular, Sperling's classic partial report studies, change-detection work by Lamme and colleagues, and a recent paper by Bronfman and colleagues that exploits our perception of ‘gist’ properties. We argue contra Block that these experiments do not support his claim. Our reinterpretations differ from previous critics' i…Read more
  •  453
    Donald Davidson aims to illuminate the concept of meaning by asking: What knowledge would suffice to put one in a position to understand the speech of another, and what evidence sufficiently distant from the concepts to be illuminated could in principle ground such knowledge? Davidson answers: knowledge of an appropriate truth-theory for the speaker’s language, grounded in what sentences the speaker holds true, or prefers true, in what circumstances. In support of this answer, he both outlines s…Read more
  •  435
    Perception and the Origins of Temporal Representation
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1): 275-292. 2017.
    Is temporal representation constitutively necessary for perception? Tyler Burge (2010) argues that it is, in part because perception requires a form of memory sufficiently sophisticated as to require temporal representation. I critically discuss Burge’s argument, maintaining that it does not succeed. I conclude by reflecting on the consequences for the origins of temporal representation.
  •  434
    Reply to Jackendoff
    The Linguistic Review 24 (4): 423-429. 2007.
    In this note, I clarify the point of my paper “The Nature of Semantics: On Jackendoff’s Arguments” (NS) in light of Ray Jackendoff’s comments in his “Linguistics in Cognitive Science: The State of the Art.” Along the way, I amplify my remarks on unification
  •  378
    Can one combine Davidsonian semantics with a deflationary conception of truth? Williams argues, contra a common worry, that Davidsonian semantics does not require truth-talk to play an explanatory role. Horisk replies that, in any event, the expressive role of truth-talk that Williams emphasizes disqualifies deflationary accounts—at least extant varieties—from combination with Davidsonian semantics. She argues, in particular, that this is so for Quine's disquotationalism, Horwich's minimalism, a…Read more
  •  311
    Review of Stewart Shapiro, Vagueness in Context (review)
    Philosophical Review 118 (2): 261-266. 2009.
    Stewart Shapiro’s book develops a contextualist approach to vagueness. It’s chock-full of ideas and arguments, laid out in wonderfully limpid prose. Anyone working on vagueness (or the other topics it touches on—see below) will want to read it. According to Shapiro, vague terms have borderline cases: there are objects to which the term neither determinately applies nor determinately does not apply. A term determinately applies in a context iff the term’s meaning and the non-linguistic facts dete…Read more
  •  310
    Cognitive Penetration and Attention
    Frontiers in Psychology 8 1-12. 2017.
    Zenon Pylyshyn argues that cognitively driven attentional effects do not amount to cognitive penetration of early vision because such effects occur either before or after early vision. Critics object that in fact such effects occur at all levels of perceptual processing. We argue that Pylyshyn’s claim is correct—but not for the reason he emphasizes. Even if his critics are correct that attentional effects are not external to early vision, these effects do not satisfy Pylyshyn’s requirements that…Read more
  •  305
    Theories of consciousness divide over whether perceptual consciousness is rich or sparse in specific representational content and whether it requires cognitive access. These two issues are often treated in tandem because of a shared assumption that the representational capacity of cognitive access is fairly limited. Recent research on working memory challenges this shared assumption. This paper argues that abandoning the assumption undermines post-cue-based “overflow” arguments, according to whi…Read more
  •  259
    Nick Shea’s Representation in Cognitive Science commits him to representations in perceptual processing that are about probabilities. This commentary concerns how to adjudicate between this view and an alternative that locates the probabilities rather in the representational states’ associated “attitudes”. As background and motivation, evidence for probabilistic representations in perceptual processing is adduced, and it is shown how, on either conception, one can address a specific challenge Ne…Read more
  •  257
    Descriptive Semantic Externalism
    In Nick Riemer (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Semantics, . pp. 13-29. 2015.
    This chapter examines the “externalist” claim that semantics should include theorizing about representational relations among linguistic expressions and (purported) aspects of the world. After disentangling our main topic from other strands in the larger set of externalist-internalist debates, arguments both for and against this claim are discussed. It is argued, among other things, that the fortunes of this externalist claim are bound up with contentious issues concerning the semantics-pragmati…Read more
  •  194
    Putnam, Context, and Ontology
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 34 (4). 2004.
    When a debate seems intractable, with little agreement as to how one might proceed towards a resolution, it is understandable that philosophers should consider whether something might be amiss with the debate itself. Famously in the last century, philosophers of various stripes explored in various ways the possibility that at least certain philosophical debates are in some manner deficient in sense. Such moves are no longer so much in vogue. For one thing, the particular ways they have been made…Read more
  •  155
    Linguistic Intuitions: Error Signals and the Voice of Competence
    In Samuel Schindler, Anna Drożdżowicz & Karen Brøcker (eds.), Linguistic Intuitions, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    Linguistic intuitions are a central source of evidence across a variety of linguistic domains. They have also long been a source of controversy. This chapter aims to illuminate the etiology and evidential status of at least some linguistic intuitions by relating them to error signals of the sort posited by accounts of on-line monitoring of speech production and comprehension. The suggestion is framed as a novel reply to Michael Devitt’s claim that linguistic intuitions are theory-laden “central …Read more
  •  154
    Linguistic Judgments As Evidence
    In Nicholas Allott, Terje Lohndal & Georges Rey (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Chomsky, Wiley-blackwell. forthcoming.
    An overview of debates surrounding the use of meta-linguistic judgments in linguistics, including recent relevant empirical results.
  •  132
    Linguistic understanding and belief
    Mind 114 (453): 61-66. 2005.
    Comment on Dean Pettit, who replies in same issue
  •  130
    There is a long tradition of drawing metaphysical conclusions from investigations into language. This paper concerns one contemporary variation on this theme: the alleged ontological significance of cognitivist truth-theoretic accounts of semantic competence. According to such accounts, human speakers’ linguistic behavior is in part empirically explained by their cognizing a truth-theory. Such a theory consists of a finite number of axioms assigning semantic values to lexical items, a finite num…Read more
  •  115
    Trivalent Semantics and the Vaguely Vague
    Synthese 156 (1): 97-117. 2007.
    Michael Tye responds to the problem of higher-order vagueness for his trivalent semantics by maintaining that truth-value predicates are “vaguely vague”: it’s indeterminate, on his view, whether they have borderline cases and therefore indeterminate whether every sentence is true, false, or indefinite. Rosanna Keefe objects (1) that Tye’s argument for this claim tacitly assumes that every sentence is true, false, or indefinite, and (2) that the conclusion is any case not viable. I argue – contra…Read more
  •  104
    According to cognitivist truth-theoretic accounts of semantic competence, aspects of our linguistic behavior can be explained by ascribing to speakers cognition of truth theories. It's generally assumed on this approach that, however much context sensitivity speakers' languages contain, the cognized truththeories themselves can be adequately characterized context insensitively—that is, without using in the metalanguage expressions whose semantic value can vary across occasions of utterance. In t…Read more
  •  98
    Articulating Reasons: An Introduction to Inferentialism
    Philosophical Review 111 (2): 284. 2002.
    This is a book review of: Robert B. Brandom, Articulating Reasons: An Introduction to Inferentialism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000. Pp. 230.