The demand for reparations for the evils of slavery is often met with the argument that present-day white people are not morally responsible for the sufferings of black people under slavery. That is true, so far as it goes—no one now living is an agent of past injustices committed before they were born. That would […]
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In a famous paper entitled “Truth and Meaning” Donald Davidson argues that meaning is constituted by truth conditions. A recursive theory of truth for a language in the style of Tarski is thus a theory of meaning for that language. Understanding a sentence consists in grasping its truth conditions. The meaning of a word is […]
It was never completely you You came in black and blue Nothing through and through Miley, I salute you!
“Logical Positivism” That’s an odd label for the view it purports to describe. The most conspicuous feature of the doctrine in question is its negative attitude toward traditional metaphysics: it is a form of philosophical “negativism” i.e. metaphysics is meaningless and should be abandoned. And what is with the adjective “logical” here? Doesn’t every philosophical doctrine […]
The Origin of Ideas Where do our ideas come from? What gives ideas their content? There is an old and natural story about this: call it the “exemplar theory”. Consider the idea of blue (the concept blue, the meaning of “blue”): it arises in the mind by virtue of perceptual contact with exemplary blue things—this contact […]
Hitchens I’ve just finished reading Christopher Hitchens’ Hitch 22, a sad but stimulating experience. Among many sage observations, he tells us how much he values a sense of the absurd and an ironic mind, as well as linguistic playfulness. Despotisms always seem to be literal-minded, pedestrian, humorless, and linguistically repressive—as well as fanatical and violent. […]
KNOWING AND NECESSITY I hope that some people see no connection between the two topics in the title. In any case, the absence of any connection will be developed in the course of the paper—a complete and clean separation. The way I think about these matters is, in some ways, quite different from what people […]
The Science of Philosophy What is the nature of philosophy? Two views have been influential. One view is that philosophy is “continuous with science”–a kind of proto science or a commentary on the sciences or a synthesis of them.1 According to this view, philosophy is an empirical discipline, though more removed from the data than typical […]