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Sarah Sawyer
University of Sussex
  1. The Role of Concepts in Fixing Language.Sarah Sawyer - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (5):555-565.
    This is a contribution to the symposium on Herman Cappelen’s book Fixing Language. Cappelen proposes a metasemantic framework—the “Austerity Framework”—within which to understand the general phenomenon of conceptual engineering. The proposed framework is austere in the sense that it makes no reference to concepts. Conceptual engineering is then given a “worldly” construal according to which conceptual engineering is a process that operates on the world. I argue, contra Cappelen, that an adequate theory of conceptual engineering must make reference to concepts. (...)
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  2. The Importance of Concepts.Sarah Sawyer - 2018 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 118 (2):127-147.
    Words change meaning over time. Some meaning shift is accompanied by a corresponding change in subject matter; some meaning shift is not. In this paper I argue that an account of linguistic meaning can accommodate the first kind of case, but that a theory of concepts is required to accommodate the second. Where there is stability of subject matter through linguistic change, it is concepts that provide the stability. The stability provided by concepts allows for genuine disagreement and ameliorative change (...)
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  3. Truth and Objectivity in Conceptual Engineering.Sarah Sawyer - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (9-10):1001-1022.
    Conceptual engineering is to be explained by appeal to the externalist distinction between concepts and conceptions. If concepts are determined by non-conceptual relations to objective properties rather than by associated conceptions (whether individual or communal), then topic preservation through semantic change will be possible. The requisite level of objectivity is guaranteed by the possibility of collective error and does not depend on a stronger level of objectivity, such as mind-independence or independence from linguistic or social practice more generally. This means (...)
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  4. Is There a Deductive Argument for Semantic Externalism? Reply to Yli-Vakkuri.Sarah Sawyer - 2018 - Analysis 78 (4):675-681.
    Juhani Yli-Vakkuri has argued that the Twin Earth thought experiments offered in favour of semantic externalism can be replaced by a straightforward deductive argument from premisses widely accepted by both internalists and externalists alike. The deductive argument depends, however, on premisses that, on standard formulations of internalism, cannot be satisfied by a single belief simultaneously. It does not therefore, constitute a proof of externalism. The aim of this article is to explain why.
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  5. Cognitivism: A New Theory of Singular Thought?Sarah Sawyer - 2012 - Mind and Language 27 (3):264-283.
    In a series of recent articles, Robin Jeshion has developed a theory of singular thought which she calls ‘cognitivism’. According to Jeshion, cognitivism offers a middle path between acquaintance theories—which she takes to impose too strong a requirement on singular thought, and semantic instrumentalism—which she takes to impose too weak a requirement. In this article, I raise a series of concerns about Jeshion's theory, and suggest that the relevant data can be accommodated by a version of acquaintance theory that distinguishes (...)
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  6.  81
    The Modified Predicate Theory of Proper Names.Sarah Sawyer - 2009 - In New Waves in Philosophy of Language. London: Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 206--225.
    This is a defence of the claim that names are predicates with a demonstrative element in their singular use.
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  7. Contrastive Self-Knowledge.Sarah Sawyer - 2014 - Social Epistemology 28 (2):139-152.
    In this paper, I draw on a recent account of perceptual knowledge according to which knowledge is contrastive. I extend the contrastive account of perceptual knowledge to yield a contrastive account of self-knowledge. Along the way, I develop a contrastive account of the propositional attitudes (beliefs, desires, regrets and so on) and suggest that a contrastive account of the propositional attitudes implies an anti-individualist account of propositional attitude concepts (the concepts of belief, desire, regret, and so on).
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  8. Privileged Access to the World.Sarah Sawyer - 1998 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (4):523-533.
    In this paper, I argue that content externalism and privileged access are compatible, but that one can, in a sense, have privileged access to the world. The supposedly absurd conclusion should be embraced.
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  9. Contrastive Self-Knowledge and the McKinsey Paradox.Sarah Sawyer - 2015 - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), Externalism, Self-Knowledge, and Skepticism: New Essays. Cambridge, UK: pp. 75-93.
    In this paper I argue first, that a contrastive account of self-knowledge and the propositional attitudes entails an anti-individualist account of propositional attitude concepts, second, that the final account provides a solution to the McKinsey paradox, and third, that the account has the resources to explain why certain anti-skeptical arguments fail.
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  10. Narrow Content, by Juhani Yli-Vakkuri and John Hawthorne. [REVIEW]Sarah Sawyer - 2019 - Mind 128 (511):976-984.
    This is an extended review of Juhani Yli-Vakkuri & John Hawthorne's book: Narrow Content (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018)..
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  11. Internalism and Externalism in Mind.Sarah Sawyer - 2011 - In James Garvey (ed.), The Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Mind. London, UK: pp. 133-150.
    This companion is aimed at specialists and non-specialists in the philosophy of mind and features 13 commissioned research articles on core topics by leading figures in the field. My contribution is on internalism and externalism in the philosophy of mind. I.
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  12. Conceptual Errors and Social Externalism.Sarah Sawyer - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (211):265-273.
    Åsa Maria Wikforss has proposed a response to Burge's thought-experiments in favour of social externalism, one which allows the individualist to maintain that narrow content is truth-conditional without being idiosyncratic. The narrow aim of this paper is to show that Wikforss' argument against social externalism fails, and hence that the individualist position she endorses is inadequate. The more general aim is to attain clarity on the social externalist thesis. Social externalism need not rest, as is typically thought, on the possibility (...)
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  13. Entitlement, Opacity, and Connection.Brad Majors & Sarah Sawyer - 2007 - In Sanford C. Goldberg (ed.), Internalism and Externalism in Semantics and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 131.
    This paper looks at the debates between internalism and externalism in mind and epistemology. In each realm, internalists face what we call 'The Connection Problem', while externalists face what we call 'The Problem of Opacity'. We offer an integrated account of thought content and epistemic warrant that overcomes the problems. We then apply the framework to debates between internalists and externalists in metaethics.
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  14.  57
    The Importance of Fictional Properties.Sarah Sawyer - 2015 - In Stuart Brock & Anthony Everett (eds.), Fictional Objects. Oxford, UK: pp. 208-229.
    Semantic theories of fictional names generally presuppose, either explicitly or implicitly, that fictional predicates are guaranteed a referent. I argue that this presupposition is inconsistent with anti-realist theories of fictional characters and that it cannot be taken for granted by realist theories of fictional characters. The question of whether a fictional name refers to a fictional character cannot be addressed independently of the much-neglected question of whether a fictional predicate refers to a fictional property.
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  15. Minds and Morals.Sarah Sawyer - 2014 - Philosophical Issues 24 (1):393-408.
    In this paper, I argue that an externalist theory of thought content provides the means to resolve two debates in moral philosophy. The first—that between judgement internalism and judgement externalism—concerns the question of whether there is a conceptual connection between moral judgement and motivation. The second—that between reasons internalism and reasons externalism—concerns the relationship between moral reasons and an agent's subjective motivational set. The resolutions essentially stem from the externalist claim that concepts can be grasped partially, and a new moral (...)
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  16.  74
    Abstract Artifacts in Pretence.Sarah Sawyer - 2002 - Philosophical Papers 31 (2):183-198.
    Abstract In this paper I criticise a recent account of fictional discourse proposed by Nathan Salmon. Salmon invokes abstract artifacts as the referents of fictional names in both object- and meta-fictional discourse alike. He then invokes a theory of pretence to forge the requisite connection between object-fictional sentences and meta-fictional sentences, in virtue of which the latter can be assigned appropriate truth-values. I argue that Salmon's account of pretence renders his appeal to abstract artifacts as the referents of fictional names (...)
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  17. Concepts, Conceptions and Self-Knowledge.Sarah Sawyer - 2019 - Erkenntnis (y).
    Content externalism implies first, that there is a distinction between concepts and conceptions, and second, that there is a distinction between thoughts and states of mind. In this paper, I argue for a novel theory of self-knowledge: the partial-representation theory of self-knowledge, according to which the self-ascription of a thought is authoritative when it is based on a con-scious, occurrent thought in virtue of which it partially represents an underlying state of mind.
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  18.  60
    Subjective Externalism.Sarah Sawyer - 2018 - Theoria 84 (1):4-22.
    In this article I argue for a novel theory of representational content, which I call ‘subjective externalism’. The view combines an internal, subjective constraint on the attribution of thought content which traditionally underpins internalist theories of thought, and an external, objective constraint on the attribution of thought content which traditionally underpins externalist theories of thought. While internalism and externalism are mutually inconsistent, the constraints to which each theory is committed are not. It is this realization that opens up the conceptual (...)
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  19.  96
    The Nature of Content: A Critique of Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne.Sarah Sawyer - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    In their book, Narrow Content, Juhani Yli-Vakkuri and John Hawthorne attempt to argue against the claim that there is a kind of thought content which is both narrow and theoretically significant. However, their failure to distinguish indexical from non-indexical thought renders their arguments ineffective; a large class of the arguments they present are in fact irrelevant to the question of whether thought content is narrow. The unified treatment of thought content they advocate fails to capture the distinctively mental aspects of (...)
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