Vol. 13, Issue 20, 1998

Philosophy of Psychology, Aesthetics

Table of contents



Bill Brewer: 'Levels of Explanation and the individuation of Events'

The paper argues that the nature of commonsense psychological explanation as a special kind of causal explanation in which events are made intelligible as being "reasonable from the subject's point of view" undermines the orthodox attempt to reconcile the causal efficacy of the mind with the existence of physical explanations of all of a person's physical movements. Given their radically different guiding principles, it is implausible to expect both the physical and the psychological explanatory schemes to identify the very same explanatory units and interconnected webs of causal explanatory events. I propose and develop an analogue of Wiggins' conceptualist realism for the events which are brought to light by each of these explanatory projects; and I explain why this is perfectly compatible with the existence of physical explanations of all physical events.

Stephen Mills: Is There Only One Folk Psychology?

The point of the title is to question the virtual unanimity among contemporary theorists that folk psychological unicity is correct. The first aim of the paper is to begin to make out an adequate case for folk psychological plurality. The second aim is to show that if an adequate case can be made out then (a) there are immediate and important consequences for philosophy and psychology and (b) complex theoretical issues are raised.

Anthony P. Atkinson: Systems, subsystems and persons: The explanatory scope of cognitive psychology

What does cognitive psychology set out to explain? This paper begins by outlining the central explanatory strategy of cognitive psychology, namely, functional analysis. Functional analysis is contrasted with two other varieties of decompositional analysis, namely, structural analysis and capacity analysis. An examination of these three varieties of analysis leads me to the view that cognitive psychology is not an endeavour that develops direct explanatory relations between descriptions of persons and descriptions of the brain. Rather, cognitive psychology is an endeavour that develops explanatory relations between descriptions of the human organism and descriptions of the brain and its information-processing components.

Alfredo Paternoster: The Alleged Incompatibility of Prototypes and Compositionality

Following the well known experiments performed by Eleanor Rosch in the seventies, several philosophers and cognitive scientists endorsed the thesis according to which concepts have a prototypical structure. That is, categorisation judgements such as "X is a cat" are performed on the basis of a match between the object X and a typical memory-stored exemplar of a cat. That X will be classified or not as a cat depends on its distance, e.g., its degree of similarity, from the typical exemplar. However, an argument made popular mainly by Fodor -let us call it "standard objection"- states that concepts cannot have a prototypical structure, for prototypicality would be inconsistent with compositionality. Briefly, the problem is the following: prototypical concepts are vague, and vagueness is not compatible with the necessity of logical truths. Suppose C is a vague concept; according to the principle of compositionality, every complex concept in which C occurs is vague too. In particular, the concepts C & ~C, or C v ~C, would be vague, and this is absurd. Attempts have been made to treat vagueness in order to remove this problem. Recently, for example, Kamp and Partee proposed a formal model based on supervaluations. But, since there are some cases of complex concepts which cannot be accounted for in this way, standard objection still seems to be correct. In this paper I discuss the standard objection, showing that the alleged incompatibility between prototypicality and compositionality arises from some wrong assumptions both on the principle of compositionality and on prototype theory. From this perspective, asking whether prototypes are compositional is a misplaced question, for compositionality (classically conceived) and prototypical structure are properties concerning two different roles of concepts, metaphysical and epistemological respectively. I will argue that prototypicality can be acknowledged so long as compositionality is described within an "epistemic" framework.

Ralph Schumacher: Visual perception and blindsight: the role of the phenomenal qualities

A number of authors rely on the phenomenon of blindsight in order to justify certain claims concerning the status and the function of the phenomenal qualities of visual perceptions. The aim of this paper is to show that for two reasons blindsight cannot be interpreted as evidence for those claims. First, there are arguments against the theses that blindsight is characterized by the absence of phenomenal qualities, and that this absence is responsible for the fact that blindsighted persons do not have access to the intentional contents of their perceptions. Second, for several reasons it is not plausible to regard blindsight as a type of epistemic seeing. Consequently, it is not possible to draw conclusions from blindsight concerning the role of the phenomenal qualities of visual perceptions.

Dunja Jutronic: Quine, Chomsky and Connectionism (or Innateness Hypothesis Reconsidered)

The paper is a defense of Quine against Chomsky on the language innateness issue in the light of the impact of connectionism in this debate. The author argues for her claim by examining three nativistic theses: a. minimal nativism; b. minimal rationalism and c. strong rationalism. The main issue is the degree of domain-specific innateness where connectionism gives more support to Quine than to Chomsky. Connectionism with its insistence on the specification of innate knowledge as a kind of geometric fixation of favorable location brings Quine's idea of the innate quality space to be more congenial than the strong Chomsky's claim for much richer innate structure.

Christian Beyer: Russell's Principle Considered from both a Neo-Fregean and a Husserlian Viewpoint

According to Direct Reference Theories (D.R.T.) the "singular proposition expressed" by an assertoric utterance of a simple singular sentence is such that (1) its grasp it at least necessary for a full grasp of "what is said" by that utterance (Communicative Content Constraint) and (2) the corresponding truth condition is singular (Singularity Thesis). Gareth Evans has developed an interesting "neo-Fregean" version of D.R.T. in which "Russell's Principle" plays a central role. In Evans's attempted theoretical defence of this principle, much attention is paid to the phenomenon of demonstrative identification. In section 1 of my paper I relate Evans's view of demonstrative identification to Edmund Husserl's theory of the "intuitive fulfillment" of a demonstrative "meaning-intention", as manifested in his Logical Investigations (1900/01). In section 2 I turn to Husserl's discussion of a "twin example". Starting from this discussion I propose an "Internalistic Modification of Russell's Principle" in terms of Husserl's "noematic" conception of the "determinable X", which is found in his Ideas I (1913). I also propose a (neo-)Husserlian conception of the "internal context" of a simple demonstrative thought. In section 3 I critically discuss, in detail, Evans's treatment of the well-known "steel ball examples" from The Varieties of Reference, the first of which seems to support, but the second of which seems to refute Russell's Principle. I propose an alternative treatment of these examples, along Husserlian lines. In this connection, I reject Evans's "Generality Constraint", drawing upon an idea of John Perry's concerning the internal systematicity of singular thoughts. Finally, in section 4 I briefly discuss the Communicative Content Constraint. I state a special "Determination Principle" about internal contexts and utilize it to show that although my proposed Husserlian account of demonstrative content can be reconciled with the Singularity Thesis endorsed by D.R.T., it offers an interesting novel perspective on communication.

David Davies: Artwork, Action, and Process

Gregory Currie has proposed and briefly defended the thesis that all artworks are action-types. Critics have raised a number of objections to any such identification of works with generative processes: works, they maintain, must be identified with the products of such processes. I argue that a 'process-centred' ontology of art, properly understood, is an attractive alternative to standard 'product-centred' accounts. Currie's mistake, I maintain, is his identification of works with process-types rather than process-tokens.

Victor R. Kennedy and John M. Kennedy: Form Symbolism Can be Extended by Style

Form symbols are shapes, such as circles, that denote referents that are not necessarily forms, such as infinity, or softness, or mother. Form symbols can refer to a wide variety of referents. Some form symbols are merely arbitrary labels, but often there is a significant correspondence between the symbol and the thing symbolized, with some property in common between the referent and the symbol. Despite the need for correspondence, via irony, a symbol can be redefined from one use to its very opposite, however. Further, its meaning can be extended by the style in which it is used. Do these changes in meaning show there is no significant role for correspondence? To support our argument that form symbols are not always arbitrary, we note that empirical methods can establish which novel symbolic functions of forms are general, with high consensus, which are tentative, with moderate levels of consensus, and which are arbitrary, with no significant level of consensus above chance. We note that, generally, changes in meaning wrought by both irony and style are temporary, and may even emphasize the permanent meaning of the symbol. Unlike signs, which are purely conventional, many symbols are apt, and what becomes conventional is the selective use of a particular feature of the symbol, which can be modified by style.

Bozidar Kante: Is metaphor really a demonstrative?

The subject of my criticism is J. Stern's claim -- presented in his article "Metaphor and Demonstratives" -- that a metaphor functions like a demonstrative. Stern adopts two themes from the semantics of demonstratives in his analysis of metaphor. The first theme is tied to three "layers" in the semantic interpretation of demonstratives. The second locates the class of demonstrative expressions within the more general class of expressions whose account in a context is demonstrative. My objections goes in three directions. First, he interprets "dthat" as a term-forming operator. I argue against operator interpretation of a demonstrative. Second, his theory about mechanism generating literal interpretation and metaphor set is probably psychologically unrealistic. Third, to know what a metaphor metaphorizes, to identify the metaphorized, requires that one have a second route to thinking of it, a route other than via metaphorical token.

Angelika Krebs: Love at Work

The problem this paper addresses is the unjustifiably bad social position of women who care for their children, their husbands or the elderly at home. The thesis of this paper is that women's domestic care work is true economic work, since it constitutes an activity for others which partakes in the exchange of tasks and services in a society. However, it is usually not recognized as economic work, the love of women is exploited. To put an end to this exploitation, a wage for the work of love is required.