Phil 1018: LOGIC
On-line course materials for Logic, Philosophy
Syllabus, Unit Guides, and Practice Exams
Cheap Nativism Suppose concepts are just names - for things, kinds, properties (as on Jerry Fodor's conceptual atomism). Then perhaps all nativism requires is an innate name generator. External causal links provide the extensions of the concepts. Can nativism be this cheap? (.doc file Late 2009)
Against Derived Intentionality Intentionality Dualists (Searle, Fodor) hold that there is an important distinction between "derived" and "original" (intrinsic, underived) intentionality. The Intentionality Monist Dennett holds that the distinction is bogus; all intentionality is derived. I critically examine key arguments offered by Searle and Dennett for their respective positions and conclude that all have flaws, including problems of individuation, conflation of semantic and epistemic matters, a pernicious regress, and other alarming short-comings. At the end I sketch a neglected monism: all intentionality is afforded by causal connections, no intentionality is literally intrinsic, and nothing derives its intentionality solely in virtue of acts of interpretation. (.doc file 2010)
EEE-PC: Economics, Evolution and Ethics - a Plausible Convergence This is a foray into meta-metaethics. With a wary eye on Richard Posner's lone advocacy of a normative economic approach to ethics, I argue that under certain circumstances of competition or adversity we can expect social rules, including moral codes, to promote economic efficiency. This maximizes public goods, increasing chances of overcoming the adversities. Under similar circumstances, where entire social groups succeed or fail, evolutionary selection pressures will have the same outcome. Finally I argue that a Social Contract approach will converge on the same result. Some data suggest that the circumstances that would produce these convergences are not ubiquitous, but have been historically real and hence important for understanding real world moral codes.
Inverted Spectrum Arguments Inverted spectrum arguments, such as Ned Block's Inverted Earth thought experiment, are thought to count against computational accounts of qualia. By considering a variety of inverted qualia possibilities in other sense modalities, including inverted auditory pitch spectrum, inverted loudness and inverted hedonic spectrum, as well as radical synesthesia, I develop an argument that the intuitions pumped by the common inverted spectrum arguments are misleading.
Images and Thinking A defense of the view that images play a central role in cognition. I reply to arguments that images are syntactically and semantically inadequate to be the primary medium for thought and inference. Main points: images have been saddled with resemblance semantics, indicator semantics is viable alternative; nearly exclusive attention has been paid to visual images of extra-linguistic objects, but acoustic images of sentences are an important neglected form of imaging that avoids cognitive inadequacies of typical visual images. Finally I argue, against Tye and Pinker, that mental images do not require mentalese labels. April 1999. circa 22 print pages
Natural Meaning for Natural Language An account of how the meaning of natural language can be understood as natural meaning. In the course of the positive accounts, I return to the beginning of Grice's paper "Meaning" and re-examine his attempt to distinguish natural and non-natural meaning. I conclude, contrary to Grice, that there is a univocal, natural, meaning at the heart of language. May 1998; html equivalent of circa 25 double-spaced print pages.
A Defence of Mill 's Account of Names Mill's view that a name means its bearer is defended against four classic arguments: the claim Mill cannot account for the meaning of identity statements, negative existentials, and empty names, nor the failure of substitutivity in opaque contexts. February/March 1998.
See also the papers on mentalese below.
I Don't Think So: Pinker on the Thinker.
Reply to Steven Pinker's arguments for mentalese and against natural language as a medium for thought. Pinker's arguments are set out in his 1994 book, The Language Instinct. I argue mentalese doesn't solve any of the problems he cites for the view that we think in natural language. So I don't think I think the way he thinks I think. Draft February 1998. About 40k light html.
Sense and Sentience
Hearing Yourself Think: natural language, inner speech and thought
A defense of the view that much thought, abstract thought particularly, consists of inner speech in the form of auditory and kinesthetic images. I reply to arguments from Jerry Fodor and others against natural language as a medium of thought. I then go on to speculate as to why some thinking might require images of spoken language, rather than a presumably more efficient representation system such as Mentalese. I conclude with implications for the Whorf hypothesis and other issues.
Not previously published; new August 1997. Light html, about 25k.
The Mind as the Mirror of Nature
This paper defends an internalist account of qualia. It is a critical response to Fred Dretske's strong externalist position in his important 1995 book, Naturalizing the Mind. I discuss Swampmen, inverted spectrum, and accounts of biological function. This paper was presented at the Minnesota Philosophical Society meetings in Nov. 1996. Plain text, about 32k, 13 printed pages.
The Return of the Evil Genius
A Dialog between the Evil Genius (star of Descartes' first Meditation) and a Brain in a Vat (star of B-movies and, among other works, Hilary Putnam's Reason, Truth and History ) -- in which the discussants investigate matters skeptical, linguistic and metaphysical! Light HTML; about 50k; 36 printed pages.
Abstract of Artificial Intelligence and
A paper published in Synthese. I tried to show just why Searle's Chinese Room argument is unsound -- if a mind were realized by running a computer program or a set of instructions, it would be distinct from the computer or the person(s) following the instructions. So Searle argues unsoundly from the fact that he doesn't understand Chinese to the conclusion that no Chinese understanding is created by his running an artifical intelligence program. Considerations of personal identity are relevant.
Review of software based wavetable music synthesizers including products from Roland (Virtual Sound Canvas) and Yamaha ("Midplug Soft Synth"). Software syths compared to a Roland Sound Canvas (a version of the SC55). Discussion of implications for the future of music synthesis. August 1996.
Previously unpublished papers are copyrighted by David Cole year of presentation or electronic publication.
David Cole 2010 UMD Philosophy Dept.
Revised Sept 1, 2010