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  1. Radical Parochialism About Reference.Will Gamester & J. Robert G. Williams - forthcoming - Noûs.
    We can use radically different reference-schemes to generate the same truth-conditions for the sentences of a language. In this paper, we do three things. (1) Distinguish two arguments that deploy this observation to derive different conclusions. The first argues that reference is radically indeterminate: there is no fact of the matter what ordinary terms refer to. This threat is taken seriously and most contemporary metasemantic theories come with resources intended to rebut it. The second argues for radical parochialism about reference: (...)
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  • Reference for Neo-Fregeans.David E. Taylor - 2021 - Synthese 198 (12):11505-11536.
    Neo-Fregeanism is a family of positions in the philosophy of mathematics that combines a certain type of platonism about mathematical abstracta with a certain type of logicism about the foundations and epistemology of mathematics. This paper addresses the following question: what sort of theory of reference can/should NF be committed to? The theory of reference I propose for NF comes in two parts. First, an alethic account of referential success: the fact that a term ‘a’ succeeds in referring to something (...)
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  • The Eligibility of Ethical Naturalism.Douglas Edwards - 2013 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 94 (1):1-18.
    Perhaps the two main contemporary formulations of ethical naturalism – Synthetic Ethical Naturalism (SEN) and Analytical Descriptivism – seem to conflict with plausible views about cases where moral debate and disagreement is possible. Both lack safeguards to avoid divergence of reference across different communities, which can scupper the prospects for genuine moral disagreement. I explore the prospects for supplementing both views with Lewis's notion of eligibility, arguing that this can solve the problem for a modified form of analytical descriptivism, and (...)
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  • Naturalness of Properties and Simplicity of Theories.Matej Drobňák - 2019 - Teorie Vědy / Theory of Science 41 (1):3-19.
    In this paper, I discuss a specific approach to measuring and comparing the simplicity of theories that is based on Lewis’s notion of fundamental properties. In particular, I discuss the criterion of simplicity as stated by Williams. According to Williams, the best candidate for a theory is the one which has the shortest definition in terms of fundamental properties. The aim of this paper is to show that the criterion thus specified has two constraints. First, the criterion is not applicable (...)
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  • Realism and the Absence of Value.Shamik Dasgupta - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (3):279-322.
    Much recent metaphysics is built around notions such as naturalness, fundamentality, grounding, dependence, essence, and others besides. In this article I raise a problem for this kind of metaphysics, the “problem of missing value.” I survey a number of possible solutions to the problem and find them all wanting. This suggests a return to a kind of Goodmanian view that the world is a structureless mess onto which we project our own categorizations, not something with categories already built in.
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  • Jody Azzouni, The Rule-Following Paradox and Its Implications for Metaphysics, Springer , 2017, Pp. $$Hbox {Viii} + 124$$, ISBN: 978-3-319-49060-1 $99.99; $89.99; $69.99. [REVIEW]Juan J. Colomina - 2019 - Studia Logica 107 (2):445-450.
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  • Stage Universalism, Voints and Sorts.Marta Campdelacreu - 2010 - Disputatio 3 (28):293-307.
    In the current debate on how ordinary objects persist through time, more than one philosopher has endorsed the following two theses: stage theory and diachronic universalism. In this paper, I would like to offer a solution to the problem that Balashov poses to the joint acceptance of these theses. I will also offer a number of reasons why, even if it is not necessary to undermine Balashov’s counterexamples, stage theorists can, without making their theory less appealing, reject Balashov’s understanding of (...)
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  • Inscrutability and Ontological Commitment.Berit Brogaard - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 141 (1):21 - 42.
    There are two doctrines for which Quine is particularly well known: the doctrine of ontological commitment and the inscrutability thesis—the thesis that reference and quantification are inscrutable. At first glance, the two doctrines are squarely at odds. If there is no fact of the matter as to what our expressions refer to, then it would appear that no determinate commitments can be read off of our best theories. We argue here that the appearance of a clash between the two doctrines (...)
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  • The Problem with Charlie: Some Remarks on Putnam, Lewis, and Williams.Timothy Bays - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (3):401-425.
    In his new paper, “Eligibility and Inscrutability,” J. R. G. Williams presents a surprising new challenge to David Lewis’ theory of interpretation. Although Williams frames this challenge primarily as a response to Lewis’ criticisms of Putnam’s model-theoretic argument, the challenge itself goes to the heart of Lewis’ own account of interpretation. Further, and leaving Lewis’ project aside for a moment, Williams’ argument highlights some important—and some fairly general—points concerning the relationship between model theory and semantic determinacy.
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  • Linguistic Hijacking.Derek Anderson - 2020 - Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 6 (3).
    This paper introduces the concept of linguistic hijacking, the phenomenon wherein politically significant terminology is co-opted by dominant groups in ways that further their dominance over marginalized groups. Here I focus on hijackings of the words “racist” and “racism.” The model of linguistic hijacking developed here, called the semantic corruption model, is inspired by Burge’s social externalism, in which deference plays a key role in determining the semantic properties of expressions. The model describes networks of deference relations, which support competing (...)
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  • Semantic Deflationism Deflated.Mahrad Almotahari - 2019 - Synthese 196 (6):2435-2454.
    Deflationism is the view that certain metaphysical debates are defective, leaving it open whether the defect is best explained in semantic, conceptual, or epistemic terms. Local semantic deflationism is the thesis that familiar metaphysical debates, which appear to be about the existence and identity of material objects, are merely verbal. It’s a form of local deflationism because it restricts itself to one particular area of metaphysics. It’s a form of semantic deflationism because the defect it purports to identify in these (...)
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  • The Price of Inscrutability.J. R. G. Williams - 2008 - Noûs 42 (4):600 - 641.
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  • The Possibility of Onion Worlds: Rebutting an Argument for Structural Universals.J. Robert G. Williams - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):193 – 203.
    Some argue that theories of universals should incorporate structural universals, in order to allow for the metaphysical possibility of worlds of 'infinite descending complexity' ('onion worlds'). I argue that the possibility of such worlds does not establish the need for structural universals. So long as we admit the metaphysical possibility of emergent universals, there is an attractive alternative description of such cases.
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  • Representational Scepticism: The Bubble Puzzle.J. Robert G. Williams - 2016 - Philosophical Perspectives 30 (1):419-442.
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  • Gavagai Again.John Robert Gareth Williams - 2008 - Synthese 164 (2):235-259.
    Quine (1960, Word and object. Cambridge, Mass.:MIT Press, ch. 2) claims that there are a variety of equally good schemes for translating or interpreting ordinary talk. ‘Rabbit’ might be taken to divide its reference over rabbits, over temporal slices of rabbits, or undetached parts of rabbits, without significantly affecting which sentences get classified as true and which as false. This is the basis of his famous ‘argument from below’ to the conclusion that there can be no fact of the matter (...)
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  • Fundamental and Derivative Truths.J. R. G. Williams - 2010 - Mind 119 (473):103 - 141.
    This article investigates the claim that some truths are fundamentally or really true — and that other truths are not. Such a distinction can help us reconcile radically minimal metaphysical views with the verities of common sense. I develop an understanding of the distinction whereby Fundamentality is not itself a metaphysical distinction, but rather a device that must be presupposed to express metaphysical distinctions. Drawing on recent work by Rayo on anti-Quinean theories of ontological commitments, I formulate a rigourous theory (...)
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  • Degree Supervaluational Logic.J. Robert G. Williams - 2011 - Review of Symbolic Logic 4 (1):130-149.
    Supervaluationism is often described as the most popular semantic treatment of indeterminacy. There???s little consensus, however, about how to fill out the bare-bones idea to include a characterization of logical consequence. The paper explores one methodology for choosing between the logics: pick a logic that norms belief as classical consequence is standardly thought to do. The main focus of the paper considers a variant of standard supervaluational, on which we can characterize degrees of determinacy. It applies the methodology above to (...)
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  • The Role of Naturalness in Lewis's Theory of Meaning.Brian Weatherson - 2013 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 1 (10).
    Many writers have held that in his later work, David Lewis adopted a theory of predicate meaning such that the meaning of a predicate is the most natural property that is (mostly) consistent with the way the predicate is used. That orthodox interpretation is shared by both supporters and critics of Lewis's theory of meaning, but it has recently been strongly criticised by Wolfgang Schwarz. In this paper, I accept many of Schwarze's criticisms of the orthodox interpretation, and add some (...)
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  • Is Romeo Dead? On the Persistence of Organisms.Rina Tzinman - 2018 - Synthese 195 (9):4081-4105.
    According to a prominent view of organism persistence, organisms cease to exist at death. According to a rival view, organisms can continue to exist as dead organisms. Most of the arguments in favor of the latter view rely on linguistic and common sense intuitions. I propose a new argument for somaticism by appealing to two other sources that have thus far not figured in the debate: the concept of naturalness, and biological descriptions of organisms, in particular in ethology and ecology. (...)
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  • An Alternative Approach to Existence Monism: An Interpretation of Truisms Using Linguistic Ontology and the One as Semantic Glue.Masahiro Takatori - 2020 - Annals of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 29:75-91.
    Existence monism (EM) is a metaphysical view asserting the existence of only one concrete object. EM is well known for its radicalness, and encounters difficulty in terms of its prima facie inconsistency with truisms. This paper aims to propose an alternative (and somewhat easy) way to overcome this difficulty and indicate another means by which the possibility of EM can be defended. I will present a package of theses that are intended to be combined with EM, which I call Linguistic (...)
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  • Toward a Satisfactory Formulation of Quinean Ontological Commitment.Masahiro Takatori - 2014 - Journal of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 42 (1):19-37.
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  • Non-Naturalism and Reference.Jussi Suikkanen - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 11 (2):1-24.
    Metaethical realists disagree about the nature of normative properties. Naturalists think that they are ordinary natural properties: causally efficacious, a posteriori knowable, and usable in the best explanations of natural and social sciences. Non-naturalist realists, in contrast, argue that they are sui generis: causally inert, a priori knowable and not a part of the subject matter of sciences. It has been assumed so far that naturalists can explain causally how the normative predicates manage to refer to normative properties, whereas non-naturalists (...)
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  • Abstraction Reconceived.J. P. Studd - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):579-615.
    Neologicists have sought to ground mathematical knowledge in abstraction. One especially obstinate problem for this account is the bad company problem. The leading neologicist strategy for resolving this problem is to attempt to sift the good abstraction principles from the bad. This response faces a dilemma: the system of ‘good’ abstraction principles either falls foul of the Scylla of inconsistency or the Charybdis of being unable to recover a modest portion of Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory with its intended generality. This article (...)
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  • Behavioral Foundations for Expression Meaning.Megan Henricks Stotts - 2021 - Topoi 40 (1):27-42.
    According to a well-established tradition in the philosophy of language, we can understand what makes an arbitrary sound, gesture, or marking into a meaningful linguistic expression only by appealing to mental states, such as beliefs and intentions. In this paper, I explore the contrasting possibility of understanding the meaningfulness of linguistic expressions just in terms of observable linguistic behavior. Specifically, I explore the view that a type of sound becomes a meaningful linguistic expression within a group in virtue of the (...)
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  • Descriptivism About the Reference of Set-Theoretic Expressions: Revisiting Putnam’s Model-Theoretic Arguments.Zeynep Soysal - 2020 - The Monist 103 (4):442-454.
    Putnam’s model-theoretic arguments for the indeterminacy of reference have been taken to pose a special problem for mathematical languages. In this paper, I argue that if one accepts that there are theory-external constraints on the reference of at least some expressions of ordinary language, then Putnam’s model-theoretic arguments for mathematical languages don’t go through. In particular, I argue for a kind of descriptivism about mathematical expressions according to which their reference is “anchored” in the reference of expressions of ordinary language. (...)
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  • Metasemantics and Singular Reference.Ori Simchen - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):175-195.
    I consider two competing approaches to metasemantics: productivism, whereby endowment with semantic significance emerges directly from conditions surrounding the production or employment of the items semantically endowed; and interpretationism, whereby endowment with semantic significance emerges directly from conditions surrounding the interpretive consumption of such items. Focusing on the version of interpretationism developed by Lewis and his followers, I present a novel argument to the conclusion that such an approach cannot secure determinacy for singular reference. I then draw a larger moral (...)
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  • On the Indeterminacy of the Meter.Kevin Scharp - 2017 - Synthese:1-31.
    In the International System of Units, ‘meter’ is defined in terms of seconds and the speed of light, and ‘second’ is defined in terms of properties of cesium 133 atoms. I show that one consequence of these definitions is that: if there is a minimal length, then the chances that ‘meter’ is completely determinate are only 1 in 21,413,747. Moreover, we have good reason to believe that there is a minimal length. Thus, it is highly probable that ‘meter’ is indeterminate. (...)
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  • On the Indeterminacy of the Meter.Kevin Scharp - 2019 - Synthese 196 (6):2487-2517.
    In the International System of Units, ‘meter’ is defined in terms of seconds and the speed of light, and ‘second’ is defined in terms of properties of cesium 133 atoms. I show that one consequence of these definitions is that: if there is a minimal length, then the chances that ‘meter’ is completely determinate are only 1 in 21,413,747. Moreover, we have good reason to believe that there is a minimal length. Thus, it is highly probable that ‘meter’ is indeterminate. (...)
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  • Against Magnetism.Wolfgang Schwarz - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (1):17-36.
    Magnetism in meta-semantics is the view that the meaning of our words is determined in part by their use and in part by the objective naturalness of candidate meanings. This hypothesis is commonly attributed to David Lewis, and has been put to philosophical work by Brian Weatherson, Ted Sider and others. I argue that there is no evidence that Lewis ever endorsed the view, and that his actual account of language reveals good reasons against it.
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  • Reference by proxy.Michael Rieppel - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-18.
    Formal semantic theories are generally thought to make contact with pre-theoretic semantic notions of aboutness and reference. The nature of that contact is, however, not always straightforward. This paper addresses two debates where that issue assumes a significant role. I begin with Simchen’s recent argument that Lewisian Interpretationism succumbs to referential indeterminacy. I develop a proposal about the relationship between the theoretical notion of a term’s semantic value and the pre-theoretic notion of reference, and argue that the indeterminacy Simchen identifies (...)
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  • How to Find an Attractive Solution to the Liar Paradox.Mark Pinder - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (7):1661-1680.
    The general thesis of this paper is that metasemantic theories can play a central role in determining the correct solution to the liar paradox. I argue for the thesis by providing a specific example. I show how Lewis’s reference-magnetic metasemantic theory may decide between two of the most influential solutions to the liar paradox: Kripke’s minimal fixed point theory of truth and Gupta and Belnap’s revision theory of truth. In particular, I suggest that Lewis’s metasemantic theory favours Kripke’s solution to (...)
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  • Categoricity by convention.Julien Murzi & Brett Topey - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (10):3391-3420.
    On a widespread naturalist view, the meanings of mathematical terms are determined, and can only be determined, by the way we use mathematical language—in particular, by the basic mathematical principles we’re disposed to accept. But it’s mysterious how this can be so, since, as is well known, minimally strong first-order theories are non-categorical and so are compatible with countless non-isomorphic interpretations. As for second-order theories: though they typically enjoy categoricity results—for instance, Dedekind’s categoricity theorem for second-order PA and Zermelo’s quasi-categoricity (...)
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  • The Eligibility of Rule Utilitarianism.David Mokriski - 2020 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 17 (3).
    According to the eligibility theory of meaning, often attributed to David Lewis, the referent of a predicate is the property that best balances the twin constraints of charity and eligibility, where eligibility is a function of metaphysical naturalness. This sort of metasemantics, which is motivated by its ability to resolve problems of indeterminacy and secure shared reference between disputing parties, can be somewhat friendly towards revisionary theories, since highly natural properties can act as “reference magnets,” securing our reference despite some (...)
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  • The Methodological Implications of Reference Magnetism on Moral Twin Earth.David Mokriski - 2020 - Metaphilosophy 51 (5):702-726.
    The Moral Twin Earth challenge to ethical naturalism threatens to undermine an otherwise promising metaethical view by showing that typical, naturalist-friendly theories of reference determination predict diverging reference in Twin Earth scenarios, making it difficult to account for substantive moral disagreement. Several theorists have recently invoked David Lewis’s doctrine of reference magnetism as a solution, claiming that a highly elite moral property—a moral “joint in nature”—could secure shared reference between ourselves and our twins on Twin Earth, despite our diverging usages (...)
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  • Conciliatory Metaontology, Permissive Ontology, and Nature’s Joints.David Mokriski - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):2335-2351.
    According to the conciliatory view in metaontology, there are multiple possible languages corresponding to the popular positions in ontology. In each of these languages, the term ‘exists’ expresses a distinct “existence-like” property, and consequently the claims associated with each of the rival ontological positions come out true in some such language. Species of the conciliatory view can be distinguished based on claims about how the various existence-like properties are related vis-à-vis metaphysical naturalness. On some versions, all of the existence-like properties (...)
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  • Converse and Identity.David Liebesman - 2013 - Dialectica 67 (2):137-155.
    Necessarily, if I ate a slice of pizza, then that slice of pizza was eaten by me. More generally, it is necessarily true that if a relation holds between two objects in some order, its converse holds of the same objects in reverse order. What is the intimate relationship that guarantees such necessary connections? Timothy Williamson argues that the relationship between converses must be identity, on pain of the massive and systematic indeterminacy of relational predicates. If sound, Williamson’s argument overturns (...)
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  • The Putnam-Goodman-Kripke Paradox.Robert Kowalenko - 2022 - Acta Analytica 37 (4):575-594.
    The extensions of Goodman’s ‘grue’ predicate and Kripke’s ‘quus’ are constructed from the extensions of more familiar terms via a reinterpretation that permutes assignments of reference. Since this manoeuvre is at the heart of Putnam’s model-theoretic and permutation arguments against metaphysical realism, both Goodman’s New Riddle of Induction and the paradox about meaning that Kripke attributes to Wittgenstein are instances of Putnam’s. Evidence cannot selectively confirm the green-hypothesis and disconfirm the grue-hypothesis, because the theory of which the green-hypothesis is a (...)
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  • Language Without Information Exchange.Jessica Keiser - 2022 - Mind and Language 37 (1):22-37.
    This paper attempts to revive a once-lively program in the philosophy of language—that of reducing linguistic phenomena to facts about mental states and actions. I argue that recent skepticism toward this project is generated by features of traditional implementations of the project, rather than the project itself. A picture of language as essentially a mechanism for cooperative information exchange attracted theorists to metasemantic accounts grounding language use in illocutionary action (roughly, using an utterance to elicit a propositional attitude). When this (...)
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  • Semantic Sovereignty.Stephen Kearns & Ofra Magidor - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (2):322-350.
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  • In Defence of Metametasemantics.Filip Kawczyński - 2021 - Axiomathes 31 (3):401-418.
    In the paper I defend the idea of metametasemantics against the arguments recently presented by Ori Simchen. Simchen attacks the view, according to which metametasemantics incorporating all possible metasemantic accounts is necessary to protect the metasemantic theories from the notorious problem of inscrutability of reference. Simchen claims that if metametasemantics is allowed it ‘absorbs’ metasemantic theories to the extent that it diminishes their explanatory value. Furthermore, in this way Simchen sets up two main metasemantic paradigms i.e. productivism and interpretationism as (...)
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  • Lewis’s Synthesis.Andrew Jorgensen - 2008 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16 (1):77 – 84.
    This article criticises David Lewis's attempt to use his philosophical analysis of convention to reconcile the picture of languages as model-theoretic objects and the picture of languages as human social activity.
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  • Conceptual Engineering and the Implementation Problem.Sigurd Jorem - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (1-2):186-211.
    Conceptual engineers seek to revise or replace the devices we use to speak and think. If this amounts to an effort to change what natural language expressions mean, conceptual engineers will have a hard time. It is largely unfeasible to change the meaning of e.g. ‘cause’ in English. Conceptual engineers may therefore seem unable to make the changes they aim to make. This is what I call ‘the implementation problem’. In this paper, I argue that the implementation problem dissolves if (...)
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  • Justification Magnets.C. S. I. Jenkins - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (1):93-111.
    David Lewis is associated with the controversial thesis that some properties are more eligible than others to be the referents of our predicates solely in virtue of those properties’ being more natural; independently, that is, of anything to do with our patterns of usage of the relevant predicates. On such a view, the natural properties act as ‘reference magnets’. In this paper I explore (though I do not endorse) a related thesis in epistemology: that some propositions are ‘justification magnets’. According (...)
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  • Radical Interpretation and Decision Theory.Anandi Hattiangadi & H. Orri Stefánsson - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6473-6494.
    This paper takes issue with an influential interpretationist argument for physicalism about intentionality based on the possibility of radical interpretation. The interpretationist defends the physicalist thesis that the intentional truths supervene on the physical truths by arguing that it is possible for a radical interpreter, who knows all of the physical truths, to work out the intentional truths about what an arbitrary agent believes, desires, and means without recourse to any further empirical information. One of the most compelling arguments for (...)
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  • Radical Interpretation and The Aggregation Problem.Anandi Hattiangadi - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (2):283-303.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  • A Reconsideration of the Harsanyi–Sen–Weymark Debate on Utilitarianism.Hilary Greaves - 2016 - Utilitas:1-39.
    Harsanyi claimed that his Aggregation and Impartial Observer Theorems provide a justification for utilitarianism. This claim has been strongly resisted, notably by Sen and Weymark, who argue that while Harsanyi has perhaps shown that overall good is a linear sum of individuals’ von Neumann-Morgenstern utilities, he has done nothing to establish any con- nection between the notion of von Neumann-Morgenstern utility and that of well-being, and hence that utilitarianism does not follow. The present article defends Harsanyi against the Sen-Weymark cri- (...)
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  • The Role of Structure: A Critical Notice of Sider’s Writing the Book of the World. [REVIEW]Dana Goswick - 2014 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (1):129-147.
    I critically evaluate the notion of structure Ted Sider presents in Writing the Book of the World. A prerequisite to understanding Sider's notion of structure is understanding Sider's take on ideology and ontology. In Section II, I discuss this. In Section III, I consider arguments in favor of structure. In Section IV, I examine one debate that is considered by Sider to be nonsubstantive: the debate over modality. I conclude, in Section V, by examining the reception Writing the Book of (...)
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  • Naturalness by Law.Verónica Gómez Sánchez - forthcoming - Noûs.
    The intuitive distinction between natural and unnatural properties (e.g., green vs. grue) informs our theorizing not only in fundamental physics, but also in non-fundamental domains. This paper develops a reductive account of this broad notion of naturalness that covers non-fundamental properties: for a property to be natural, I propose, is for it to figure in a law of nature. After motivating the account, I defend it from a potential circularity charge. I argue that a suitably broad notion of lawhood can (...)
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  • Making AI Intelligible: Philosophical Foundations.Herman Cappelen & Josh Dever - 2021 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
    Can humans and artificial intelligences share concepts and communicate? Making AI Intelligible shows that philosophical work on the metaphysics of meaning can help answer these questions. Herman Cappelen and Josh Dever use the externalist tradition in philosophy to create models of how AIs and humans can understand each other. In doing so, they illustrate ways in which that philosophical tradition can be improved. The questions addressed in the book are not only theoretically interesting, but the answers have pressing practical implications. (...)
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  • Epistemological Naturalness: What is a Good Heuristic Strategy Good For?Matej Drobňák - 2018 - Logic and Logical Philosophy 27 (1):85-104.
    According to the standard interpretation of Lewis’s theory of predicate meaning (the U&N theory), the naturalness of meaning candidates should be stated metaphysically - as a length of definition in terms of fundamental properties. Recently, Weatherson has criticized the U&N theory and argued that the criterion of naturalness should be stated epistemologically - as the amount of evidence needed to form a belief. Despite the criticism, his attitude towards the U&N theory is quite relaxed. According to Weatherson, the U&N theory (...)
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