episteme A Journal of Undergraduate Philosophy ep•i•ste•me \ep' i ste' mé\ n. [Gk. epistém(é)]: knowledge; specif., intellectually certain knowledge
Volume XIII • September 2002
Denison University, Granville, Ohio
Episteme Volume XIII â€˘ September 2002 Episteme is published under the auspices of the Denison University Department of Philosophy Granville, Ohio
Editor-in-Chief Jim Dunson Assistant Editor Charlie Shonk Editorial Board Brooke Bluestein Meghan Coil Nathan Cook Andy Hupp Jared Jablonka Justin Jones Jason Shuba Matt Tipping Faculty Advisor Mark Moller
Episteme is published annually by a staff of undergraduate philosophy students at Denison University. Please send all inquiries to: The Editors, Episteme, Department of Philosophy, Blair Knapp Hall, Denison University, Granville, Ohio 43023.
Episteme aims to recognize and encourage excellence in undergraduate philosophy by providing examples of some of the best work currently being done in undergraduate philosophy programs around the world. Episteme intends to offer undergraduates their first opportunity to publish philosophical work. It is our hope that the journal will help stimulate philosophical dialogue and inquiry among students and faculty at colleges and universities. Episteme will consider papers written by undergraduate students in any area of philosophy; throughout our history we have published papers on a wide array of thinkers and topics, ranging from Ancient to Contemporary and philosophical traditions including Analytic, Continental, and Eastern. Submissions should not exceed 4,000 words. All papers undergo a process of blind review by the editorial staff and are evaluated according to the following criteria: quality of research, depth of philosophical inquiry, creativity, original insight, and clarity. Final selections are made by consensus of the editors and the editorial board. Please provide three double-spaced paper copies of each submission and a cover sheet including: authorâ€&#x;s name, mailing address (current and permanent), email address, telephone number, college or university name, and title of submission, as well as one (electronic) copy formatted for Microsoft Word for Windows on a
Episteme A Journal of Undergraduate Philosophy Volume XIII
September 2002 CONTENTS
Statement of Purpose and Editorial Board
Table of Contents
The Hyperphilosophy of Extraordinary Communication Theresa Thuline, Pacific Lutheran University
Anaphoric Deflationism: Truth and Reference Lauren Hartzell, Connecticut College
Functionalism, Qualia, and Other Minds Elliot Reed, Swarthmore College
Causality, Emergentism, and Mentality Robert Hemm, Jr., Williams College
Warrant, Proper Function, and the Great Pumpkin Objection Joseph Curtis Miller, Austin Peay State University
Call For Papers, Vol. XIII (2002)
The editors express sincere appreciation to the Denison University Research Foundation, the Denison Honors Program, Pat Davis, and Faculty Advisor Mark Moller for their assistance in making the publication of this journal possible. We extend special gratitude to the Philosophy Department Faculty: Alexandra Bradner, Barbara Fultner, David Goldblatt, David Johnston, Tony Lisska, Jonathan Maskit, Mark Moller, Ronald E. Santoni, and Steven Vogel for their support.
The Hyperphilosophy of Extraordinary Communication
he power of language is well documented throughout the book of Proverbs, and the ancients demonstrated good understanding about how words either generate or assassinate. Consider Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”1 Biblical texts are rich in demonstrating the use of figurative language with various interpretations. For example, employment of metaphor in the book of Psalms portrays God in unexpected ways that relate to and connect with the psalmist. While one would expect God to be described as King, Lord, or the Almighty, one wouldn‟t expect God to “cover thee with his feathers” as though he was an old broody hen.2 But the magic of metaphor opens up new ideas by pulling meaning out of the hat thought empty. The indirect communication of metaphor creates opportunities to move „beyond communication‟ as new or concealed meanings are unveiled. Initially, I hope to explore this avenue through Kierkegaard‟s discussion in his Postscript about the paradox of faith and link it with the paradox of metaphoric language. Additionally, I want to review how Kierkegaard also uses the paradox of irony as indirect communication with hidden meaning. As the discussion proceeds, it is important to keep in mind the key difference between metaphor and irony: metaphor‟s hidden meaning serves the purpose of discovery, while irony‟s hidden meaning serves the purpose of concealment. As both metaphor and irony are examined, my exploratory question is twofold: 1) Are words used in a connecting or disconnecting manner? 2) What is the existential effect regarding each use? Elaborating further, how does language either promote or inhibit meaning for life? What paradoxes are inherent as one speaks and another listens? How does the use of figurative language, in its ambiguity, open windows of understanding beyond direct communication? How does the philosophy of language move from the demand for
HYPERPHILOSOPHY OF EXTRAORDINARY linguistic precision to allow for the messiness of metaphor – to move from „philosophy of language‟ to the „hyperphilosophy‟ of extraordinary communication?3 Alongside Kierkegaard‟s Postscript, additional perspectives about direct and indirect language are provided through commentary work by Paul Ricoeur, Marie George, and Andrew Cross. Also included is an essay by Robert A. White,Jr. entitled, “Can These Bones Live? The Renewing Power of Preaching with Metaphor.” I hope to demonstrate through the course of my discussion that the paradox of metaphoric language is the „leap of faith‟ necessary to move beyond the finite obvious to the infinite possible. Initial Exploration of Topics and Language in the Postscript The central theme of Kierkegaard‟s Postscript concerns the matter of becoming. Kierkegaard emphasizes the critical importance about individual relationship to Christianity as the essential ingredient in becoming to achieve eternal happiness.4 To accomplish the emphasis of relationship, he employs the contrast of opposites, i.e., the paradoxical: the subjectivity/ relationship of faith against the acquiescence of objectivity/ orthodox belief of Christianity.5 Kierkegaard, contrary to the worldview of his time, shows that the very nature of faith is a suspension of surety in favor of constant internal dialectic. Thus, the important use of language is immediately evident in Postscript as Kierkegaard employs binary terms: subjectivity/ objectivity; relationship/belief; internal dialectic/surety. He establishes from the onset that there is a way of life and a way of death. In order to realize life and becoming, Kierkegaard advocates subjectivity, relationship, and the internal dialectic. Following these components keeps possibility open by way of revelation as the subject engages in the creativity of „poetic participation.‟ The subject flows within the freedom of faith, unhampered by the stringency of set orthodox beliefs. Conversely, reliance upon objectivity, belief, and surety establishes a premise of death. The reliance upon literal meaning demands adherence to entombed facts. Movement of thought and spirit is disallowed, and the soul lies in stasis. Respectively, these three characteristics (subjectivity/ relationship/internal dialectic and objectivity/belief/surety) constitute a movement for the individual, just as the paradox
THERESA THULINE contained within metaphor constitutes a movement within thought and language. The implication is one of living potential versus stagnating decay. The outward movement of objectivity can be measured directly as the assessment of ethical correctness. But objectivity forfeits creativity and generation because of its continual conformity. Objectivity may be likened to Kierkegaard‟s reference to „dead‟ metaphors, those that “have been made banal through widespread use.”6 However, the inner movement of subjectivity embraces creativity and generation, i.e., divine passion that is immeasurable in direct terms, and expressible only in the freshness of metaphor. If the idea of divine passion is extended to the creativity and generation of metaphor, metaphor is an embodiment of human desire as divine passion – the passion to communicate fully. Metaphor portrays human longing for intimate expression. Such passion is further explained by Kierkegaard as he elaborates upon subjectivity in the Postscript: “Christianity is spirit; spirit is inwardness; inwardness is subjectivity; subjectivity is essentially passion, and at its maximum an infinite, personally interested passion for one‟s eternal happines.”7 It is the spirit of passion within faith that Kierkegaard pits against the spirit of dispassion within orthodoxy, and it is the paradox within metaphor that protests the conformity of meaning and understanding within direct language. Dispassion closes the door to expectation; there is no entertainment of possibilities if one is certain of the answers. Direct facts and direct communication disclose all; there is nothing to think or dream about and no longing. But passion, specifically, infinite passion, is the essential life-giving element in faith. It is passion, the eros for and of God, which opens the door of expectancy and possibility. In the subjective passion of faith, longing is the cardinal element, just as longing is the subjective passion within metaphor. The subjective passion inherent in metaphor may be illustrated through divine eros. The eros for God is continual longing. It is the ultimate desire to be with the Infinite and to experience unity, the stretching forth of one‟s arms and mind and heart for the very essence of the Infinite. Eros desires to share the essence of oneself in the secrecy of personal intimacy and to be continually intimate in communion with the Infinite.8 Herein lies the ongoing process of the internal dialectic as Kierkegaard
HYPERPHILOSOPHY OF EXTRAORDINARY avoids direct communication. He relies upon the secret, indirect language of metaphor – passion and eros – rather than the direct language of doctrine and orthodoxy to describe reciprocity in the God relationship. The reciprocity creates the bridge characteristic of Kierkegaard‟s „double movement.‟ The Extended Use of Metaphor The bridge created by Kierkegaard‟s double movement continues as language is used literally and non-literally. Paul Ricoeur, in his work Interpretation Theory, contrasts two terms – langue and parole – to distinguish the difference between words as „system‟ and words as „discourse.‟9 The link with Kierkegaard‟s writings about subjectivity and objectivity are easy to spot here, as are the ideas about words as life-giving or deathdealing. Ricoeur identifies the inherent problem: language is classified as „structure and system‟ rather than recognized in its use.10 He pursues this idea further as he describes langue as a code that is collective and anonymous, a self-sufficient system.11 Langue employs words in a way synonymous with Kierkegaard‟s objective worldview. Langue is the wording of science and of the factual; it is external; hearers must accommodate themselves to the message. When language is used in the structural/systemic mode, language is rendered marginal.12 By extension, structurally based language applied in communication or description renders the „other‟ as marginal as well. Langue objectifies the other and closes possibilities of meaning. It is the depersonalizing, all-consuming aspect of langue as a code that enables words to tender death toward the hearer. But parole is a message that is individual and intentional.13 Parole allows for more interpretive meaning within sentences and creates openings for various understandings. In terms of „use‟, it is parole that is described (by Wittgenstein) as a “form of life.”14 Parole opens possibilities and creativity – a sense of exploration and discovery of meaning. Parole subtly establishes relationship and is conducive to subjectivity. Words can be used in various ways to express thought. Diverse kinds of words, in either poetry or metaphor, convey a personal message for the hearer and may be received in flexible interpretation. Ricoeur classifies this phenomenon as the “paradox born by the sentence.”15
THERESA THULINE Ricoeur‟s essay, “The Metaphorical Process” further elaborates upon Kierkegaardian thought about the language of paradox. Just as the paradox reflects the dichotomy between the infinite passion of inwardness and the objective uncertainty, the metaphor extends the obvious meaning of words into something that creates doubt. Ricoeur states: “Metaphorical interpretation presupposes a literal interpretation, which is destroyed . . . transforming it . . . into a meaningful contradiction.”16 The indirect communication of metaphor causes reflection and wonder as one muses about hidden meaning. Meditation about the intended meaning and received meaning is the paradox of metaphor, the meditation about the apparent contradiction between what is said and what is not said. One is uncertain of the metaphor‟s meaning as one interprets and makes a decision how to respond to it. Decision about the interpretation of metaphor involves risk – both the risk of misunderstanding as well as the risk of new discovery. The contradiction within metaphor is like the paradox found in the leap of faith. Similarly, the paradox involves risk as one considers the „contradiction between the infinite passion of inwardness and objective uncertainty.‟17 The moment of decision is the leap of faith. The Different Meaning and Purpose of Irony The relational paradox created by metaphor also continues in the form of irony. In “The Perils of Reflexive Irony” Andrew Cross examines Kierkegaard‟s use of irony “not as a verbal strategy but as a way of life.”18 Irony was Kierkegaard‟s way of dealing with the public; in the tension of paradox, he simultaneously engaged them and distanced himself from them. Only he knew his inner life, and he sanctified it by concealing it. The use of irony enabled Kierkegaard to dialogue publicly with the system while speaking out against it. He knew the existential importance of maintaining life within subjectivity and refused to acquiesce to the objective worldview with direct dialogue. It was his way of being in the world, but not of it. Therefore, Kierkegaard‟s writings proffer the subtle mockery of irony as his outer persona; the internal dialectic with God remained behind a veil, in silencio. Irony as indirect communication serves as a protection for subjectivity by drawing attention away from the speaker and
HYPERPHILOSOPHY OF EXTRAORDINARY toward the puzzle of spoken words. Cross speaks about “irony as exclusionary” and describes the interpretation of irony as either understood by the “superior initiated” or misunderstood by the “inferior uninitiated.”19 The relational essence of the two titles illustrate the paradox; either one discerns meaning from words used in a manner to describe something non-literally, or one does not. The discernment process requires critical assessment by the hearer since the message is indirect. The hearer who misunderstands irony does so because of literal interpretation. The interpretation of the paradox within irony is similar to the one found in the interpretation of metaphor. The terms “superior initiated” and “inferior uninitiated” may also be linked back to Ricoeur‟s work with langue and parole. The relationship between superior and inferior is itself paradoxical. On the one hand, it accesses the „code/system‟ of language that marginalizes. On the other hand, it also could embrace subjectivity by provoking it with irony. The puzzling over ironic meaning may well lead to internal dialectic, and perhaps this is why Kierkegaard used irony so predominantly. The idea of „superior‟ and „inferior‟ leads to acknowledgement of the freedom within the use of irony. Kierkegaard outlines this freedom in The Concept of Irony. “If . . . what I said is not my meaning or the opposite of my meaning, then I am free in relation to others and to myself.”20 Andrew Cross explains the freedom of ironic speech by stipulating: “When we speak in direct, non-ironic mode, we both express and make commitments of various kinds.”21 Literal speech involves some kind of truth claim and obligates us to it and to others.22 Since Kierkegaard wished to make no commitments to the dominant objectivity of society or its participants, he employed irony to speak and yet not speak – to engage in public life, yet make no commitment to it. He wanted to leave people in doubt as to what he really meant – to have them thrash about mentally and engage critically so as to provoke the dialectic. Kierkegaard enjoyed leaving people in linguistic synapse. And yet, Cross refers to the “indifference of the ironist‟s attitude toward the hearers.”23 This is the negative aspect of irony. While irony serves subjective freedom, “the ironist‟s freedom is merely negative . . . in that it constrains immediacy, but is not positive in realizing a life of one‟s own.”24 Kierkegaard‟s statement that “Irony is the awakening of
THERESA THULINE subjectivity” assents the freedom of irony while conceding its inability to mature the process of subjectivity.25 Irony uses sarcasm to delineate between the real and the unreal, identify the self from others, and create distance with doubt about meaning. But irony is only the outer protective shell; it does not involve the dialectic of the inner life. Irony engages but distances; it is objective and subjective in its application; the inherent cynicism of irony simultaneously acknowledges and denies subjectivity in others. In contrast to metaphor‟s promise by revelation, irony‟s paradox is preservation by concealment. Because of the effort to conceal, practicing the freedom of irony is different from the freedom of metaphor. The Coup d’Etat of Figurative Language Regardless of whether metaphor or irony is used, both styles of figurative language engender a kind of overthrow from „literal bondage‟ into „linguistic freedom.‟ Marie George, in her essay “Figurative Speech in Philosophy” strongly advocates restraint regarding the use of metaphor in philosophy.26 While George acknowledges philosophers such as Aristotle and Aquinas used metaphor with great skill, she objects to metaphor‟s lack of clarity. It is not „proper speech‟, i.e., literal.27 George then refers to work by Msgr. Maurice Dionne. In his Initiation á la logique, Dionne speaks of certain philosophers proceeding by „grands coups de syllogisme‟ in order to convey how proceeding uniquely by syllogisms exceeds the human intellect‟s capacity, and thus risks resulting in intellectual harm.”28 I agree with Msgr. Dionne – metaphorical syllogism means risk, but I disagree that it necessarily means harm, intellectual or otherwise. George cites the example to illustrate her conviction that metaphor is inappropriate for establishing philosophical truth claims. She continues her suit against metaphor because it is not purely cognitive – which is the element George sees as essential to philosophy. George categorizes metaphor as “pleasurable . . . touch(ing) upon the emotions . . . allow(ing) us to use our imaginations to fill in things . . .”29 I respect Marie George‟s position and acknowledge the value of construing philosophical arguments so as to support truth claims. I especially enjoyed her linguistic precision and the clarity of her presentation. But many philosophical (and
HYPERPHILOSOPHY OF EXTRAORDINARY religious) queries do not concern literal truth claims, but reflect the necessity of the Kierkegaardian approach to questions about meaning and about life. And for this purpose, metaphor is eminently suitable for philosophy. In a paradoxical wordplay, I would like to extract some of George‟s ideas from her essay to further support the efficacy of indirect communication. She speaks eloquently about metaphor as „ornamental‟ and how metaphors „evoke images.‟30 As George speaks of the common confusion between connotation and meaning, she talks about words that “. . . have a subtle effect on our thought.”31 She continues to identify four ways in which “metaphors are more enjoyable than proper speech: 1) they involve an easy and rapid making of connections; 2) they cause the pleasure of surprise by suggesting similarities between things that are very different; 3) they engage our imaginations and 4) (they engage our) emotions.”32 In subsequent paragraphs, George embellishes her dissertation about metaphor. Metaphor uncovers; metaphor elevates the qualities of freshness, vitality, and beauty; metaphor elicits surprise and wonder in the new and unfamiliar.33 George succinctly states: “ . . . sometimes part of the pleasure of a metaphor lies in the fact that other connections can be made starting from it; one can take it in other directions.”34 (Italics mine.) It is “the novelty of seeing (a likeness) for the first time . . .”35 And in the novelty of seeing a likeness for the first time, George (unintentionally?) makes a beautiful link with Kierkegaard‟s notion of the internal dialectic. She comments, then quotes from The Collected Dialogues of Plato about the teacher -student relationship. George states: “ . . . the acquisition of knowledge depends principally upon an internal activity of the student . . . “ (italics mine). She then quotes from the Dialogues: “The many admirable truths they bring to birth have been discovered by themselves from within. But the delivery is heaven‟s work and mine.”36 Metaphoric Preaching Every preacher concerned with conveying an effective sermon knows that “the delivery is heaven‟s work and mine.” As ministers deal continually with people caught in the paradox of living, they seek to bridge what pastor Robert White calls „the collapsing center.‟37 Another way one might think of this is
THERESA THULINE „deconstructing deconstructionism.‟ By this I mean that the pastor must discover a way via metaphor to create and convey meaning to what appears meaningless – to provide what Ricoeur calls „meaningful contradiction.‟38 Deft combination of words “creates an unusual union that calls for a new hearing.”39 It is Ricoeur‟s parole that is required here rather than langue. White quotes from Ezekiel 37: “Can these bones live?” The question demonstrates intriguing metaphor that prompts the paradox of faith. How can bones, bleached white by years in the sun, be connected with life? The possibility offered by skillful metaphoric preaching can move the afflicted from despair to hope, from withdrawal to engagement. The minister‟s task is to present a message that is veiled just enough to pique the interest, arouse divine eros, and inspire the internal dialectic. While White‟s essay approaches deconstruction from its oft-viewed negative standing, his comments do not necessarily apply to people in crisis. Many of the author‟s ideas about metaphoric preaching connect well with aforementioned concepts. Recall Kierkegaard‟s affirmations about expectancy, passion, freedom, and double movement. Ricoer‟s assertions about langue and parole illustrate the necessity for words that hold „individual and intentional‟ messages – again, what Wittgenstein calls a „form of life.‟ The protective shell of irony (bitterness?) discussed by Andrew Cross demands to be broken open by metaphoric preaching. The coup d’etat implemented by metaphor can explode barriers created by fear and hopelessness. Metaphoric preaching brings the elements spoken of in Marie George‟s essay, i.e., beauty, freshness, and vitality that takes one in a different direction. Preaching with metaphor is “translates ancient symbols into living truths; it helps people make application of the ancient story to modern times.”40 Metaphoric preaching “bridges the gap between two worlds . . . it is a word of hope that goes beyond this life . . (it) brings the gospel and lived experience together.”41 Metaphor is the language beyond language, the hyperphilosophy of extraordinary communication. Metaphor bridges the gap between the obviously finite and the infinite possibilities, moving from communication to communion. Whatever linguistic sacrifice involved is not one of death, but of life to life. The lyricism of metaphoric preaching possesses an artistry that envelopes the paradox of faith to assist the leap of
HYPERPHILOSOPHY OF EXTRAORDINARY faith. It is “grace at the intersection.”42 Notes New Oxford Annotated Bible, eds. Metzger, Bruce and Roland Murphy, Oxford U. Press, New York: 1991. 2 Ibid, Psalm 91:4. 3 Ricoeur, Paul. “Philosophy After Kierkegaard.” Kierkegaard: A Critical Reader, Blackwell Publishing, Malden: 1998, p. 15. 4 Kierkegaard, Soren. Concluding Unscientific Postscript, eds. Hong, Howard and Edna H. Hong, Princeton University Press, New York: 1991, pp. 15-17. 5 Ibid., p. 17. 6 Cross, Andrew. “The Perils of Reflexive Irony.” Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard, eds. Hannay, Alastair and Gordon D. Marino, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 1998, p. 127. 7 Kierkegaard, Soren. Concluding Unscientific Postscript, eds. Hong, Howard and Edna H. Hong, Princeton University Press, New York: 1991, p. 33. 8 Ibid, pp. 202, 231. 9 Ricoeur, Paul. Interpretatioin Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning. Texas Christian University Press, Fort Worth: 1976, p. 2. 10 Ibid., p. 2. 11 Ibid., p. 6. 12 Ibid., p. 2. 13 Ibid., p. 3. 14 Ibid., p. 6. 15 Ibid., pp. 1-3. 16 Ricoeur, Paul. Biblical Hermeneutics, ed. Crossan, John. Scholars Press, Missoula: 1975, p. 311. 17 Kierkegaard, Soren. Concluding Unscientific Postscript. P. 204. 18 Cross, Andrew. “Neither Either Nor Or: Perils of Reflexive Irony.” Cambridge Press, Cambridge: 1998, p. 125,126. 19 Ibid., p. 129. 20 Cross, Andrew. “Perils of Reflexive Irony.” Cambridge Press, Cambridge: 1998, p. 130. 21 Ibid, p. 130. 22 Ibid., p. 134. 23 Ibid., p. 137. 24 Ibid., p. 137. 25 Cross, Andrew. “Perils of Reflexive Irony.” Cambridge Press, Cambridge: 1998, p. 137. 26 George, Marie. “Some Considerations Regarding the Use of Certain Forms of Figurative Speech in Philosophy.” Philosophia Perennis (3)2, 1996: pp. 95, 146. 27 Ibid., p. 96. 28 Ibid., p. 131. 29 George, Marie. “Some Considerations Regarding the Use of Certain Forms of Figurative Speech in Philosophy.” Philosophia Perennis (3)2, 1996: p. 108. 30 Ibid., p. 95. 31 Ibid., p. 103. 32 George, Marie. “Some Considerations, etc. re: Figurative Speech.” Philosophia Perennis (3)2, 1996: p. 109. 33 Ibid., p. 109. 1
THERESA THULINE Ibid., p. 110. Ibid., p. 111. 36 Ibid., p. 117. 37 White, Robert Jr., “Can These Bones Live?” Preaching, Preaching Resources, Inc., Louisville: 1997, p. 24. 38 Ricoeur, Paul. Biblical Hermeneutics, ed. Crossan, John. Scholars Press, Missoula: 1975, p. 311. 39 White, Robert Jr., “Can These Bones Live?” Preaching, Preaching Resources, Inc., Louisville: 1997, p. 26. 40 White, Robert Jr., “Can These Bones Live?” Preaching, Preaching Resources, Inc., Louisville: 1997, p. 25. 41 Ibid., p. 26. 42 Ibid., p. 26. 34 35
Bibliography Arthur, Kay. Lord, I Want To Know You. Multnomah Books, Portland: 1992. Cross, Andrew. “Neither Either Nor Or: The Perils of Reflexive Irony.” The Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard, eds. Hannay, Alistair and Gordon D. Marino. Cambridge University Press, Cam bridge: 1998. George, Marie I. “Some Considerations Regarding the Use of Certain Forms of Figurative Speech.” Philosophia Perennis 3(2)m (1996): 95-146. Kierkegaard, Soren. Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments. eds. Hong, Howard V. and Edna H. Hong, Princeton University Press, New Jersey: 1992. New Oxford Annotated Bible, eds. Metzger, Bruce and Roland E. Murphy, Oxford University Press, New York: 1991. Ricoeur, Paul. Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning. Texas Christian University Press, Fort Worth: 1976. Ricoeur, Paul. “Philosophy After Kierkegaard.” Kierkegaard: A Critical Reader. Eds. Rée, Jonathan and Jane Chamberlain. Blackwell Publishers, Oxford: 1998. White, Robert A. Jr. “Can These Bones Live: The Renewing Power of Preaching with Metaphor.” Preaching (N-D): 24-27.
Anaphoric Deflationism: Truth and Reference LAUREN HARTZELL
orothy Grover outlines the prosentential theory of truth in which truth predicates have an anaphoric function that is analogous to pronouns, where anaphoric is defined as obtaining meaning from an antecedent. There is no distinct property of truth because the word “true” cannot be separated from its function in prosentences. All prosentences contain the phrase “…is true” and occupy the position that declarative sentences occupy in language. Robert Brandom expresses the prosentential theory of truth by asserting that the phrase “…is true” acts as a prosentence forming operator. Grover wants to assert that it is not necessary to be deflationary about reference in order to be deflationary about truth. Brandom, however, believes that a pronominal theory of reference follows from the prosentential theory of truth. I argue that the prosentential theory of truth must accept the pronominal theory of reference in order to maintain an anaphoric account of truth. I call the theory that encompasses the prosentential theory of truth and the pronominal theory of reference anaphoric deflationism because truth and reference are described as anaphoric linguistic tools in order to demonstrate that these concepts are not metaphysical properties. I also explicate a modification to the anaphoric deflationist‟s account of truth and reference by explaining that the words “truth” and “reference” have anaphoric functions in the same way “true” and “refers” have anaphoric functions. This strengthens the argument against substantive truth and reference properties by accounting for these words as having only intralinguistic meaning. I. Dorothy Grover and the Prosentential Theory of Truth The prosentential theory of truth as presented by Dorothy Grover explains the use of the word “true” in language in terms of prosentences. Prosentences are related to sentences in the same way pronouns are related to pronouns. Both prosentences
LAUREN HARTZELL and pronouns belong to the larger class of proforms, which are used to obtain generality. On this account, the word “true” has no meaning apart from its function in prosentences. Truth talk therefore only requires a truth predicate (i.e. prosentences), but no truth property. All truth talk can be expressed in terms of a prosentential reading of “true” and “false.” Prosentences are not redundant because they serve an anaphoric function, but they are content redundant because of the nature of anaphors. An anaphor is a word, phrase or sentence that obtains meaning by referring to a preceding word or group of words. Prosentences obtain meaning from preceding statements, making them anaphors. It is important to identify this referring relationship as intralinguistic (as opposed to extralinguistic) because this distinguishes anaphors as having an indirect relationship to their original referent. Thus, prosentences as anaphors are inheritors of meaning; they acquire their referent from another expression. Grounded inheritors have referents that acquire propositional content independently. Therefore, prosentences are grounded only when their anaphoric referents have propositional content, and they can acquire propositional content only indirectly through their referents.1 The two categories of prosentences are “lazy” prosentences such as “that is true” and quantificational prosentences such as “it is true.” Both versions of prosentences can be expressed in different forms because their verbs can be modified and their subjects can be manipulated. Prosentences involving the phrase “that is true” are easily seen as functioning in the same way as pronouns. This type of prosentence is analogous to a pronoun of laziness. The phrase “that is true” is used as an anaphoric substitute to other phrases or sentences. Consider the following: Marion: Robert:
Most college students do not get enough sleep. That is true, but you have to recognize that such generalizations do not apply to all students. I always make an effort to get nine hours of sleep.
In this example Robert did not want to repeat everything Marion said, so he summarized her statement by saying “that is true.” It is important to note that the phrase “that is true” is a prosentence
ANAPHORIC DEFLATIONISM: TRUTH AND REFERENCE that holds the place of another content filled sentence. “That is true” is an anaphor with the referent “Most college students do not get enough sleep.” Robert‟s prosentence is a simplified placeholder for Marion‟s statement in an analogous way to “she” being a placeholder for Marion in the following sentences about Marion. Marion loves to volunteer her time at the Children’s Hospital. She is a very compassionate woman. “That is true” is a prosentence of laziness in the same way “she” is a pronoun of laziness. Prosentences of laziness do not assert, deny, or consider anything new. The fact that they are content redundant illustrates their role in language. They are an anaphoric mechanism just as pronouns are anaphoric mechanisms. Quantificational prosentences involve the phrase “it is true.” These prosentences are used to generalize sentence positions much like pronouns are used to generalize nominal positions. The phrase “it is true” is used to corroborate its antecedent even though it is content redundant with this antecedent because it is an anaphor of the antecedent. In, She is Lexi, the pronoun “she” refers to Lexi. “She” is anaphorically connected to “Lexi.” In this case the subject and object refer to the same physical thing, but the subject, “she,” is related to the object, “Lexi,” by an intralinguistic relationship. “Lexi,” however, has an extralinguistic relationship with Lexi the person. Similarly in, it is true that Lexi loves ice cream, the prosentence “it is true” has as its antecedent the very statement it is supporting. In this case, “it is true” refers to Lexi‟s love of ice cream, making “Lexi loves ice cream” its antecedent referent. “It is true” is not redundant because it serves to emphasize the statement “Lexi loves ice cream.” It is, however, content redundant. Quantificational prosentences are able to emphasize or justify because they can have more complex antecedents than the antecedents with which they are presented. The reason the use of the phrase “it is true” is a prosentence is that it acts as a placeholder for all the possible justifications of the primary sentence. Consider the following: Robert: Marion: Robert:
It is true that water is composed of H20. Is that really true? How do you know that? Scientists have proven it experimentally; that is how I know it is true.
LAUREN HARTZELL The reason Robert does not simply say that water is composed of H2O is because he wants to indicate that he is justified in making his statement. The original antecedent of “It is true” is “water is composed of H2O.” When pressed about how he knows this, Robert admits that it is because scientists have proven water to be composed of H2O that he claimed the statement to be “true.” The prosentence “it is true” has a more complex antecedent in Robert‟s second statement that includes the original antecedent in addition to “Scientists have proven it experimentally.” When a statement aligns with one‟s knowledge, the phrase “it is true” can be attached to the statement to indicate that such knowledge exists. The stated antecedent and referent to the prosentence can be expanded to include the other knowledge about the statement. Quantificational prosentences, therefore, are more complex anaphoric mechanisms than lazy prosentences. They appear redundant because their simple anaphoric referents are presented at the same time as the prosentence, but are not redundant because they imply the possibility of more complex referents. In this light, quantificational prosentences can be seen as analogous to lazy prosentences. “It is true” acts as a placeholder in the same way “that is true” acts as a placeholder. The difference is that “that is true” refers to a specific antecedent, while “it is true” refers to a specific antecedent that can be expanded to include other knowledge statements. All prosentences keep discussions involving truth predicates at the object-language or intralinguistic level. The word “true” cannot exist independent from a prosentence and therefore cannot affect what is said in language. If extralinguistic subjects are being discussed, then “truth” does not factor into the discussion other than as a tool of language, as a member of a truth predicate prosentence. Prosentences that include the word “true” have anaphoric functions; they cannot participate as an object in discussion. “Truth” is neutral with respect to philosophical questions in the same way that pronouns are neutral with respect to such questions. Thus, the prosentential theory of truth is deflationary in its denial of truth as a distinct property. II. Robert Brandom and the Pronominal Theory of Reference In order to understand Robert Brandom‟s pronominal theory of
ANAPHORIC DEFLATIONISM: TRUTH AND REFERENCE reference, it is necessary to understand his formulation of the prosentential theory of truth. While agreeing with Grover‟s analysis of prosentential theory of truth in general, Brandom points out an important feature of quantificational prosentences. The reason the prosentential theory of truth is not a disquotational or redundancy theory is that it does not separate the referring property of “that” from the referring property of quantificational prosentences. When the phrase “…is true” is understood as a prosentence forming operator, “…is true” is seen as forming anaphoric sentences where this phrase cannot be separated from the whole prosentence. This means that “…is true” functions as an operator in a similar way to existential and universal quantifiers in logic. The prosentence forming operator “…is true” is an anaphoric operator because all its resulting prosentences have an anaphoric function. Brandom‟s notion of the prosentence forming operator does not differ substantially from Grover‟s account of the prosentential theory of truth, because they both assign intralinguistic referring powers to prosentences as a whole. Using the notion of a prosentence forming operator is another way of understanding the role of “true” in prosentences. 1 Brandom‟s move to label the prosentential operator allows him to explain the function of “refers” in an analogous way to the function of “true.” In order to understand his analogy, however, some features of language must be understood. There are two forms of reference, word-world or extralinguistic reference and word-word or intralinguistic reference. Anaphoric or intralinguistic reference is often taken for granted as being guaranteed extralinguistic reference through indirect description. In anaphoric chains of intralinguistic reference, however, some elements have a purely intralinguistic referential function and no independent extralinguistic reference. The following is an example of an anaphoric chain: Robert went to the store on Saturday. Marion helped him unpack what he bought. They realized he had forgotten something. There are three areas of variation to understand in tokens of anaphoric chains. Anaphoric tokens can be either initiating or dependent. “Robert” is an initiating token, while “he” is a dependent token (of “Robert”). Anaphoric tokens are either type-substitution-invariant types, meaning they do not vary in reference through an anaphoric chain, or cotypically nonintersubstitutable with referents varying
LAUREN HARTZELL from token to token. Anaphoric tokens are also either lexically simple with words that are nouns, or lexically complex with phrases that are nouns. 2 Pronouns are cotypically nonintersubstitutable anaphoric dependents. Brandom sees “refers” as acting as a pronoun forming operator when its anaphoric function is understood. When sentences containing a form of “refers” are paraphrased such that “refers” only occurs inside indirect descriptions, its functioning can be explained in terms of a complex pronoun. “Refers” is applied to a token with a specified antecedent resulting in a lexically complex pronoun including the word “refers.” This means that “refers” always becomes part of a lexically complex, cotypically nonintersubstitutable anaphoric dependent. Thus “refers” is used to express anaphorically indirect definite descriptions. Consider the following: Marion: Robert: Marion:
Lexi’s friend seems really nice. Which friend? I do not remember her name, but I was referring to the one who helped Lexi study for her chemistry exam.
The phrase “referring to the one who helped Lexi study for her chemistry exam” is a lexically complex pronoun. This clarifies “refers‟” role as a pronoun forming operator because it always becomes part of a lexically complex pronoun in language. A similar relationship exists between “…is true” as a prosentence forming operator and its resulting position in language as part of prosentences. This means that reference is an anaphoric tool much like truth and that there is not an extralinguistic reference property. The same discussion about truth as a linguistic tool applies to reference as a linguistic tool. III. Anaphoric Deflationists on Truth and Reference It has been established that the pronominal theory of reference is modeled after the prosentential theory of truth, but the question of whether or not they necessitate one another has not yet been addressed. Grover explains prosentences as anaphors, making prosentences anaphoric referents that obtain meaning from antecedents. In discussing truth, therefore, Grover is able to avoid a discussion of extralinguistic reference. Her discussion on
ANAPHORIC DEFLATIONISM: TRUTH AND REFERENCE truth centers on anaphoric, intralinguistic reference, keeping her discussion at the level of object-language. Truth is seen only in the confines of intralinguistic use and therefore it is denied that an extralinguistic or metalinguistic truth property exists at all. Grover does not deny that truth is a useful linguistic concept. Rather, she says that language requires a theory of meaning and that a prosentential “true” helps give language meaning by drawing attention to what sentences are being used and referred to in different contexts (i.e. “true” is an anaphoric tool).2 Grover emphasizes that the prosentential theory of truth does not require a specific theory about extralinguistic or metalinguistic reference. She goes as far as to indicate that one could hold the prosentential theory of truth and also hold a realist conception of extralinguistic reference.3 With the introduction of the pronominal theory of reference, however, Grover has to accept that an anaphoric account of truth necessitates an anaphoric account of reference. Grover attempts to isolate her anaphoric deflationary move to truth, while Brandom expands this idea to reference. Because Grover identifies anaphora in language, and her theory of truth rests on the existence of anaphora, she must accept all accounts of anaphora in language. Brandom utilizes the same logic to explicate the pronominal theory of reference that Grover used to explicate the prosentential theory of truth. Grover must therefore accept the pronominal theory of reference in order to maintain her position about truth. For this reason, I call philosophers who support any single anaphoric theory an anaphoric deflationist because they must accept all anaphoric theories. Thus, Grover and Brandom are anaphoric deflationists.3 Once the existence of intralinguistic, anaphoric referential relationships are revealed in language, it becomes necessary to identify all anaphoric linguistic concepts for any of these concepts to be taken seriously. By identifying “truth” as a solely anaphoric mechanism, Grover and Brandom invite an investigation as to the existence of any and all other anaphoric mechanisms. Brandom‟s explication of “refers” as an anaphoric operator necessitates that anyone who accepts the prosentential theory of truth must adopt the pronominal theory of reference as well. The question becomes not, “do anaphoric interpretations of „true‟ and „refers‟ require one another?”, because they do. Rather, what other anaphoric mechanisms in language remain to be
LAUREN HARTZELL identified? Kirkham points out that the prosentential theory of truth leads to questions about the roles of other predicates such as “is surprising” and “is profound.”4 Rather than liberating us from false properties, anaphoric deflationists seem to trap us in language such that it is difficult to discern what can and cannot be interpreted anaphorically with a deflationary result. Grover says that the prosentential theory of truth does not determine extralinguistic reference, but when it is understood that she must accept the pronominal theory of reference it appears that she can no longer even use the word “reference” meaningfully by her own anaphoric deflationary logic. Brandom admits that the prosentential theory of truth and the pronominal theory of reference deny any notions of substantive truth and reference, but at the same time cannot account for these notions. Truth and reference have been explained away by the anaphoric account, but it seems that the reason extralinguistic reference is no longer seen as a property is because the word “refers” can only be used intralinguistically. Part of the issue anaphoric deflationism must deal with in respect to substantive truth and reference are the words “truth” and “reference.” The prosentential theory of truth and the pronominal theory of reference are both semantic theories, but they only account for the words “true” and “refers.” I believe that when the nouns “truth” and “reference” are incorporated into the anaphoric account of truth and reference, at least part of the objection against anaphoric deflationism can be dismissed. The prosentential theory of truth can incorporate the word “truth” in terms of prosentences in the same way “true” is seen in terms of prosentences. When “…is true” is understood as a prosentence forming operator, “…is the truth” can be seen in the same light. The prosentences it is true and that is true can be reworded as it is the truth and that is the truth. Replacing “true” with “the truth” does not change the meaning of the prosentence, but rather the emphasis. Consider the following: Robert: Marion: Robert:
It is true that water is composed of H20. Is that really true? How do you know that? Scientists have proven it experimentally; that is how I know it is the truth.
The only difference between this example and the initial version
ANAPHORIC DEFLATIONISM: TRUTH AND REFERENCE of this example are Robert‟s final words. Changing his last prosentence from “it is true” to “it is the truth” does not change the anaphoric functions of these prosentences. Rather, the change only places a greater emphasis on his belief that the antecedent to the prosentences, water being composed of H2O, is grounded. This example illustrates that “truth” is used anaphorically in language in the same way as “true.” “Refers” is understood as always being part of a lexically complex pronoun in language. “Reference” can be understood in the same way, though it will usually be a member of even more complex pronouns. Consider the following: Marion: Robert: Marion:
Lexi’s friend seems really nice. Which friend? I do not remember her name, but I was making a reference to the one who helped Lexi study for her chemistry exam.
The lexically complex pronoun in which “referring” is used in the first instance of this example is manipulated such that “reference” is used here instead. This enables the pronominal theory of reference to include both “reference” and forms of “refers.” The anaphoric function of the complex pronoun is the same in each instance of this example; it is merely expressed with different words. With the words “truth” and “reference” incorporated into anaphoric deflationism, the argument for substantive truth and reference becomes even weaker. Previously anaphoric deflationary accounts failed to explain the words “truth” and “reference” in language because they only explained forms of “true” and “refers.” “Truth” and “reference” indicate substantive properties more than “true” and “refers” do, because they are the primary nominal concepts from which their cognates develop. With the primary linguistic concepts of truth and reference explained as anaphoric linguistic tools, the case against the existence of truth and reference as metaphysical properties is strengthened. It seems unfair, however, that the anaphoric deflationary argument against discussion of substantive truth and reference properties is the fact that the words “truth” and “reference” used in these discussions are not valid terms to use when discussing
LAUREN HARTZELL extralinguistic notions. Anaphoric deflationism seems to trap us in intralinguistic language. In other words, my worry is that the premise of anaphoric deflationism, the existence of anaphora in language, does not allow for coherent arguments against anaphoric deflationism, since no one is able to escape language and its inherent anaphors. It is a contradiction to say that something extralinguistic gives meaning to linguistic concepts when the word we use for this meaning relationship has an anaphoric function in language. Anaphoric deflationism does not address substantive truth and reference notions, but its reason for doing this is part of its premise. Notes See Grover, 1992 for a full account of the prosentential theory of truth, and Grover, 2001 for an updated condensed version of the theory. 2 See Brandom, 1994, chapter 5, section III-4. 3 See Brandom, 1984, section II. 4 See Grover, 1990 and Grover, 1992. 5 Grover, 1992: 34. 6 It may be possible for Grover to accept a non-deflationary account of extralinguistic reference if this theory did not contain “reference vocabulary” that could be interpreted anaphorically. As indicated later in this paper, however, it may not be possible to use any “reference vocabulary” in a nonanaphoric way. 7 Kirkham, 1992: 328-329. 1
Bibliography Brandom, R. 1984. “Reference Explained Away.” Journal of Philosophy 81, no. 9: 469-492. Brandom, R. 1987. “Pragmatism, Phenomenalism, and Truth Talk.” In Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Volume XII: Realism and Antireal ism, ed. P. French, T. Uehling, and H. Wettstein, pp. 75-94. Min neapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Brandom, R. 1994. Making It Explicit: Reasoning, Representing, and Discur sive Commitment. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Grover, D. 1990. “Truth and Language-World Connections.” Journal of Philosophy 87, no. 12: 671-687. Grover, D. 1992. A Prosentential Theory of Truth. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Grover, D. 2001. “The Prosentential Theory: Further Reflections on Lo cating Our Interest in Truth.” In The Nature of Truth: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives, ed. M. Lynch, pp. 505-526. Cam bridge: MIT Press. Kirkham, R. 1992. Theories of Truth: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Functionalism, Qualia, and Other Minds
ow do we know that other people are conscious? This “problem of other minds” has traditionally been answered by citing others‟ behavior, for the power of the intentional stance to predict and explain human behavior is unrivaled by any other system of explanation. I will argue, however, that the traditional solution succeeds only insofar as consciousness is conceived in terms of functional relations. If consciousness is conceived in terms of intrinsic, ineffable, indescribable qualitative states, the problem of other minds is unsolvable. Not only does the behavior of others fail to prove that they have qualia, it provides no evidence whatsoever for that contention, and neither does any other argument. Consequently, I will argue, we ought to conceive of consciousness in purely functional terms. I will begin by stating some assumptions. First, I will assume that we are able to describe, predict, and explain, a great deal of others‟ (and our own) behavior in terms of mentalistic categories: beliefs, desires, feelings, and so on. That is, Dennett‟s assertion that taking the “intentional stance” yields predictive and explanatory power not available by any other known method (Dennett 1987) is correct.1 Furthermore, I will assume that the categories of the intentional stance are good enough that a future theory of psychology will not abolish folk psychology, contrary to Paul Churchland‟s thesis (Churchland 1981). (If it didn‟t, „how do we know that other people are conscious?‟ would be an empty question. One can only know things that are true.) The first characteristic of the mental that I would like to consider is our ability to use the intentional stance. Now, if the intentional stance works in the deep way I am supposing it does, then we can treat folk psychology as a largely true (but incomplete) theory of the behavior of people.2 The theory of folk psychology, unfortunately, does not provide us with exceptionless universal laws: at best we get rough-and-ready generalizations, but such lack of rigor is hardly a deathblow to the theory. Insofar as it is such a theory, it can be treated as a set of relations between observables (behaviors, etc.) and mental
ELLIOT REED states, so that being in a certain mental state provides dispositions to certain actions and to other mental states. In other words, mental categories are useful for prediction and explanation because we can treat them as functional categories. OBJECTION: Why should we believe that mental categories are functional categories? REPLY: Suppose we could not treat mental categories as functional categories. Then mental states would not provide dispositions to behaviors, or they would not provide dispositions to have other mental states. If this assertion were true, we would be unable to use them to predict othersâ€&#x; behavior and mental states, which we are obviously able to do. Conversely, suppose that in addition to treating mental categories as functional categories, we need to consider some of their other properties in order to predict and explain the behavior of others using the intentional stance. But (by hypothesis) the functional characterization of mental states contains all the information how they cause dispositions to behavior, so no other quality of the state can be necessary in order to predict behavior. What of explanation? A characteristic of mental states that was useful for the explanation of observable phenomena, but that did not (ceteris paribus) explain that those phenomena were more likely than other phenomena would be no explanation at all! I conclude, therefore, that insofar as mental states are relevant to the prediction of observable phenomena such as behavior, they are relevant in virtue of their functional properties. OBJECTION: Yes, the mental concepts of folk psychology do provide dispositions to behavior and other mental states, but why should we believe that they do this in a way that can be described as functionalist? REPLY: Once we have established that the mental states of folk psychology provide dispositions to behave in certain ways and to have other mental states, we have established that folk psychology can be described functionally. The functional states of the theory are mental states, the outputs are behaviors, and the inputs are environmental stimuli. Nonetheless, we cannot at present describe folk psychology as a functional theory. That is, we know how to apply folk psychological concepts, but not how to explain their
FUNCTIONALISM, QUALIA, AND OTHER MINDS use (at least not very well). The development of such a description would require a substantial joint research program in linguistics and psychology. We would need research in order to determine the conditions under which people are willing to apply various mental predicates to other people, and further research to describe the sorts of predictive and explanatory inferences that people make on the basis of those applications. By hypothesis, we are able to use the theory of folk psychology to predict and explain the behavior of others, but we cannot make the same inferences by using any other method. Consequently, we can safely conclude that other people are functionally equivalent to beings with mental properties. Unfortunately, this line of reasoning alone will not get us to the conclusion we want: namely, that other people have mental properties, since, in general, functional equivalence is not sufficient for equality. We need to introduce some other principle. We get the cleanest argument by accepting the functionalist hypothesis. If being functionally equivalent to a conscious entity is being a conscious entity, then the remainder of our proof comprises one line: People are functionally equivalent to beings with minds; ergo, they have minds. Thus the problem of other minds is solved. OBJECTION: What is „functionally equivalent‟? REPLY: I will distinguish between two definitions of functional equivalence. The first definition of equivalence defines two systems as functionally equivalent iff both can be adequately described using a functional description where the same causal relations hold between the functional states and the inputs and outputs of the system and the description of both systems make reference to the same set of inputs and outputs. I will term systems that are equivalent in this sense „I/O-equivalent.‟ Unfortunately, this definition of equivalence, when plugged into the functionalist thesis I give above, is apt to make functionalism parochial by denying mental states to entities that certainly have them.3 Consequently, I am led to accept another notion of equivalence in my definition. Two systems will be called Aequivalent iff both can be adequately described using a functional description and the description of both systems where the same causal relations hold between the functional states and
ELLIOT REED the inputs and outputs of the system, but the inputs and outputs need not be the same for both systems. Thus A-equivalency is necessary, but not sufficient, for I/O-equivalency. The same terms can be applied to functional states using analogous definitions. The functionalist thesis I am pushing, then, is that to be conscious is to be A-equivalent (or nearly A-equivalent) to a system that is well-described using folk psychology. OBJECTION: If we can define having conscious states as being a certain type of functional system, then we will be able to find a functional characterization for every sufficiently complex system (the Atlantic Ocean, say) according to which it is conscious. And the fact of the matter is that the Atlantic Ocean is not conscious, no matter what functional characterization of its causal relations we attribute to it. Surely countenancing mental-state attributions of this kind is a reductio ad absurdum of functionalism! REPLY: Those who make this objection are right to point out that, on the face of it, attributing mental states to a system such as the Atlantic Ocean seems bizarre. In fact, virtually every speaker of English (with the exception of a handful of animists, philosophers, and cognitive scientists) would agree the claim is definitely false. In the face of such overwhelming agreement (and given my complete inability to produce any arguments in favor of the alternative position), I will concede the point that, given the way words like â€žconsciousâ€&#x; are used in modern English, the claim I have been advancing is not true.4 Nonetheless, I maintain, it is still the best solution to the problem of other minds. What an absurdity, to attempt to solve a philosophical problem by embracing an abjectly false claim! Nonetheless, I will argue, the problem we face here is not a problem with functionalism, but with our customary way of speaking. Accepting liberalism would require a substantial alteration in the way we speak about mental properties (as it would attribute such properties to a vast number of entities to which we do not now attribute them), but, I will argue, there are good reasons to accept such a change in our customary manner of speaking, and no such reasons (aside from inertia) to preserve it. So what are the advantages of redefining mental predicates in purely functional terms? Taking the intentional stance allows us to obtain a substantial amount of predictive and
FUNCTIONALISM, QUALIA, AND OTHER MINDS explanatory power that is not (presently) available to us by any other means. The redefinition I am proposing would not remove any of this power from the intentional stance, and if embracing it leads to the sort of research program I outlined earlier, it might well expand it. Treating beliefs, goals, desires, and so on as purely functional states would not prohibit us from using the intentional stance to predict and explain the actions of others just as we always have, even to the point of enabling us to understand (as best we can) others‟ comments about the taste of buttered toast. Furthermore, as Dennett is wont to point out, the predictive power of the intentional stance is a matter of objective fact. It follows that if the hypothesis (that the functionalist thesis I am pushing leads to massive liberalism) is true, then at least some properties of many systems can be described using the intentional stance. In the case of most systems, this fact is probably a mere curiosity – if there are patterns in the Atlantic Ocean that can be described using the intentional stance, they are probably of no real interest to us – but it is possible that we will one day discover systems that can be described in a useful way using categories with functional properties very similar to those of the intentional stance, so that a wide variety of their input/ output relations can be usefully described using the intentional stance. Such a possibility may sound fantastical, but the universe contains a great many complex systems. So a liberal ascription of conscious mental states may allow us to gain understanding, and we will lose no predictive or explanatory power that we already possess by adopting such a change of language. OBJECTION: Consider the famous „Absent Qualia Argument,‟ which has myriad variations, all of which essentially run like this: 1) The functionalist hypothesis is that having mental states merely requires a certain sort of functional state. 2) For any functional state, we can imagine a zombie that is in that functional state, but has no conscious, first-person, qualitative experience (i.e. has no qualia). 3) Having qualia is intrinsic to at least some mental states. 4) Therefore, a system need not be conscious merely in virtue of having certain functional states. REPLY: The argument made by many (e.g. Dennett 1991) who
ELLIOT REED wish to deny (4) involves denying both (2) and (3) by denying that qualia exist. Such arguments tend to depend on examples designed to spur intuitions, and I will shamelessly admit that I find most of the literature on this subject confused. I will therefore ignore this particular counter-counterargument in favor of a more roundabout approach. Consider that the question we are (ultimately) attempting to answer is „how do we know that other people are conscious?‟ We have already shown that the functional portion of the folk psychological theory of mind is the only portion of the theory of mind that does any work in predicting or explaining any observable phenomenon. If qualia are important to our story about the mind, then, the problem of other minds reduces to the question, „how do we know that other people really have qualia, rather than being unconscious zombies who fool us by virtue of being I/O-equivalent to conscious beings?‟ And so we run into the problem: there is no way to distinguish between zombies and entities with qualia! There is not a shred of evidence (or any other kind) that I can point to to support the contention that George Bush has qualia, or to support the contention that he is a zombie. Consequently, if we demand that our notion of a mental state include having qualia, we are lead to the unfortunate conclusion that we do not know that other people are conscious! OBJECTION: In effect, what you are saying is that the problem of other minds would be solved if we meant something else by „minds‟, as your proposed recharacterization of consciousness removes the essential element – qualia! Two plus two would equal seven if we meant something different by „two,‟ too, but you can‟t prove „2 + 2 = 7‟ by redefining „2‟!” REPLY: A functionalist redefinition of „consciousness‟ will not be sufficient to solve the problem of other minds for those for whom the possession of consciousness requires ineffable, indescribable qualia. Since there is no way to demonstrate (or even provide evidence for) the proposition that other people have such qualia, it follows that the redefinition I am now proposing will not suffice as such a demonstration. None of this need mean that talk of qualia (as distinguished from talk of „qualia‟) need vanish. Under my proposed program of redefinition, we can continue to talk about
FUNCTIONALISM, QUALIA, AND OTHER MINDS immediate sensory impressions, feelings, and every other state that is supposed to be a qualia. The difference is that in a liberal theory, we will make such ascriptions to any system for which it is functionally appropriate. If we make a robot that simulates a human being, and it eats buttered toast, we need have no qualms talking about how the toast tastes to the robot, just as we have no qualms about discussing how toast tastes to other people. OBJECTION: You have shown that qualia are not necessary for any sort of scientific or everyday prediction or explanation, but there is more to life than prediction and explanation. That agents really have qualitative experience is important to many moral, aesthetic, and other types of value systems. Perhaps we can accept a language from which the idea of really having qualia has been expunged for the purpose of science, but it cannot be eliminated from value theory. REPLY: I have already demonstrated that, using the conception of qualia employed by people who make these sorts of objections, there are no grounds for believing that other people are real experiencers with real qualitative states, rather than being mere zombies. Consequently, a value system that bases its evaluations on the possession of qualia makes it impossible to determine whose experiences are actually deserving of consideration and whose are not. Such a system cannot be used in making evaluations, and I see no reason to keep our old habits of speech simply because they allow us to preserve the illusion that certain unemployable systems of valuation are employable. Those to whom these sorts of considerations are compelling may, if they wish, continue to demand that having qualia be a necessary condition for consciousness in their idiolects, as long as they admit that their ascriptions of qualia to others rests on a leap of faith. OBJECTION: John Searle offers an argument that suggests that other people do have qualitative mental states. I fear doing injustice to his argument by summarizing it, so I will simply quote him: If you think for a moment about how we know that dogs and cats are conscious, and that computers and cars are not conscious . . . you will
ELLIOT REED see that the basis of our certainty is not “behavior,” but rather a certain causal conception of how the world works. One can see that dogs and cats are in certain important respects relevantly similar to us. Those are eyes, this is skin, these are ears, etc. . . . behavior by itself is of no interest to us; it is rather the combination of behavior with the knowledge of the causal underpinnings of the behavior that form the basis of our knowledge. (Searle 1992 p.22) So the thesis that other people are conscious is perhaps not proven, but its prior probability is much higher than that of the thesis that other people are zombies. I can reason from my own knowledge of my own qualia (we will suppose for a moment that I have such knowledge), and my picture of the world as consisting of particles in fields of force that my qualia are caused by the particular particles and fields of force in my brain. Thus, I can reason that other entities with similar brains have similar qualitative experiences. REPLY: The problem with Searle‟s argument is that it rests on a seemingly dubious intuition about the sorts of brains that would produce qualitative mental states. As Dennett comments, “Perhaps left-handers [sic] brains, for instance, only mimic the control powers of brains that produce genuine Intentionality!”5 (Dennett 1987 p. 334) Undoubtedly Searle would find Dennett‟s supposition preposterous, but I doubt he could succeed in giving any reasons why it was preposterous without begging the question. He could not begin an empirical investigation to show that both right and left-handers have the brain characteristics that produce genuine qualitative experiences: in order to make such a determination, he would need some independent test to distinguish zombies from real conscious beings. Since no such test exists, Searle is flat out of luck. OBJECTION: Your counter to Searle‟s response is just a crude form of anti-inductivist skepticism. We do not have any evidence that physical systems act as if there are electrons because electrons really exist, as opposed to the theory that physical systems act as they do because they are functionally equivalent to systems with electrons, but electrons are not real, but this does
FUNCTIONALISM, QUALIA, AND OTHER MINDS not stop us from inferring (correctly) that electrons exist. Why hold qualia to a higher standard? REPLY: In physics the properties of electrons are limited to the properties that functionally connect them to other elements of the theory of physics. A demonstration that a physical system is (perfectly) I/O-equivalent to a system with electrons is a demonstration that the system has properties with all the characteristics we ascribe to electrons. Qualia, by contrast, are supposed to have characteristics above and beyond their functional relations, and there can be no evidence that entities with all the properties of qualia (e.g. “ineffability”), rather than just their functional properties, exist. OBJECTION: Block points out that there are many mentalistic categories whose conditions of application cannot be purely functional, because they require a certain type of relationship with the world. (Block 1978) For example, knowledge of some proposition p requires that p be true, and perception of some entity E requires that there actually be some E (if there is not, then the “perception” is a hallucination or mistake of some form). In general, propositional attitudes cannot be defined purely by A-equivalence, because having a propositional attitude requires some causal connection to the content expressed in the proposition. For example, in Hilary Putnam‟s Twin Earth example (Putnam 1973), the states of the Earthling who believes water is wet and the Twin Earthling who believes XYZ is wet are A-equivalent (or almost A-equivalent), but they are not both the belief that water is wet. One is causally connected to water; the other is causally connected to XYZ. REPLY: Insofar as the application of mental predicates requires that some proposition not about the person be true, I am inclined to grant the objection, but it is no serious blow to the theory I am proposing to grant that some mental states are contingent on the facts of the world. We can always separate out the functionally relevant characteristics of the mental state (e.g. the belief that water is wet, as opposed to knowledge that water is wet) in order to predict and explain behavior, so there is no real problem. The objection dealing with the connection of propositional attitudes to the propositions the attitudes are about is more significant. One way around the problem would be to accept that both the Earthling and the Twin Earthling do believe
ELLIOT REED the same thing, but that would be perverse at best: one of the reasons I gave for accepting this recharacterization of our intentional vocabulary was that it would allow us to continue using folk psychology as it applies to ordinary people without any alteration. The correct response, I believe, is to deny that functional states that are (almost) A-equivalent are necessarily the same mental state. So the beliefs of the Earthling and the Twin Earthling are A-equivalent, but they are not the same belief. This point suggests that we need some sort of characterization of what the identity criteria for mental states are, since A-equivalence is insufficient. My proposal would be that the development/discovery of such criteria would be part of the job of the research program I outlined earlier. Finding criteria that both conformed to our intuitions about mental states (at least when applied to the case of other people) and were useful for science would be an important goal of such a program. Luckily, our ability to apply the intentional stance need not wait for such a program to achieve success. We can describe the behavior of other people in intentional terms without it. Furthermore, we have a test for determining that entities we find in the world are conscious: if their behavior is well described in a wide variety of situations using folk psychology, then they are conscious. Since other people pass the test, they are conscious, and the problem of other minds is solved. I have proposed a redefinition of the language we use to describe mental life. This language would redefine our mental terms so that the functional relations between them were preserved, but would concede that these terms can be applied to any system in which the same functional relations hold. All the predictive and explanatory power of the intentional language we use now would be preserved, although many important questions would be left to future researchers. The problem of other minds would be solved (since we know that other peoples‟ behavior is well-described using the categories of folk psychology) at the “price” of conceding that at least some things which most speakers of modern English would not call conscious are conscious. The notion of „qualia‟ as “ineffable” or “indescribable” would vanish from the theory of mind, not because qualia have been shown not to exist, but simply because such talk lacks any predictive or explanatory value. Some
FUNCTIONALISM, QUALIA, AND OTHER MINDS philosophers will complain that theories generated using this language will fail to explain why people have conscious experiences, and, given their notion of „conscious experiences,‟ they will be correct. But an inability to explain a „fact‟ that we can‟t evidence and don‟t need to predict or explain anything is of little concern to me. Notes Undoubtedly many philosophers will think this assertion is far too weak and would prefer that I make some stronger claim. But I think very few (except perhaps the Churchlands) will be inclined to doubt it. 2 I am not introducing the supposition that folk psychology is only a theory of the behavior of other people, but merely asserting that it is at least such a theory. 3 For an explication and defense of this point, see Block (1978). 4 Discussions with Benjamin George have convinced me that I am probably conceding too much by granting that functionalism is not true given modern English usage. But since my contention would only be strengthened if my thesis were true (or if its truth-value were ambiguous), I will grant the point anyway. 5 Dennett is talking about Intentionality, but the same point can be made about qualia. 1
Bibliography Block, Ned. “Troubles With Functionalism.” In Savage, C.W., Ed., Per ception and Cognition. Issues in the Foundations of Psychology. Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol.9. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1978, 261-325. Rpt. Block, Ned, Ed., Readings in Philosophy of Psychology, vol. 1. 261-326. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980. Churchland, Paul. “Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Atti tudes.” The Journal of Philosophy 78: 1981. pp. 67-90. Dennett, Daniel. The Intentional Stance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987. Dennett, Daniel. Consciousness Explained. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1991. Putnam, Hilary. “Meaning and Reference.” The Journal of Philosophy 70: 1973. pp. 699-711. Searle, John. The Rediscovery of the Mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992.
Causality, Emergentism, and Mentality
ROBERT M. HEMM, JR.
entality has proven extremely difficult to explain or account for in the sciences. By mentality, I mean the various capacities of reasoning, deduction, understanding, or other abilities that give rise to the kind of sophisticated interaction with the world that sets human beings and animals apart from all other living and nonliving things. This difficulty represents one of the central features of the mind-body problem. The purpose of this paper is to suggest the possibility of an empirical outcome that would allow for an adequate explanation of mentality and remain consistent with our scientific hypotheses about the physical world. The outcome I wish to consider is that brains are indeterminate and perhaps chaotic systems. The nature of their physical material and extended interaction with the world may result in their behavior being such that it cannot be precisely captured by the laws of physical causation. In this case, it would be possible for the brain to exhibit emergent properties, namely properties that could not be predicted from precise knowledge of its physical structure. The emergence of these properties could provide a physical account for our conscious experience and mentality. I also offer two corollaries to this position. First, if mentality is indeed accounted for by the emergence of properties in brains, then Searleâ€&#x;s argument about the importance of the brain itself in generating mentality would seem to be right (Searle, 1980, reprinted in Rosenthal, pp 509-519). Mentality may not be as multiply realizable as previously thought. This would deprive functionalists of one of their primary arguments against identity theories. Second, this model would render ontological functionalism1 completely inadequate for describing the mentality of conscious entities. Functionalism is grounded in the idea that mentality consists of causal relations between inputs, machine states of the entity being described, and outputs. If it turns out that accounting for mentality requires a departure from the realm of normal causal relations, then functional accounts are invariably going to leave out part of the picture.
CAUSALITY, EMERGENTISM, AND MENTALITY Causality, Chaos, and Indeterminism Causality has been the subject of intense debate in the history of philosophy. Hume is well known for having argued that events we habitually take to be causally related are only incidentally correlated, and such observations do not prove the existence of causal order. Kant thought causality could be deduced from a priori considerations, as a necessary condition for the possibility of experience. The question of whether or not the universe is governed by a universal causal order remains unresolved, and developments in quantum mechanics have further clouded the issue. In his book, The Disorder Of Things, John Dupre describes four possible ways in which the universe might be causally ordered. First, there is the possibility of strict determinism. This describes a world completely and precisely governed by exceptionless causal laws such that the state of things at time Tâ€&#x; can be exactly deduced from the state of things at time T. Second, there is what he calls probabilistic uniformitarianism. In this case, the world is still governed by universal causal laws, but laws under which the outcome at time Tâ€&#x; can only be predicted in terms of probabilities which can be generated from the state of the world at time T.2 Third, there is probabilistic catastrophism. Here, the probabilities described in probabilistic uniformitarianism are not stable and inevitably disintegrate in bewildering complexity. The sheer plurality of possible causes and the indeterminability of their individual causal powers renders the precise generation of causal probabilities impossible. Thus, probabilistic causal laws do not actually exist, but can only be guessed or approximated. Finally, there is the lingering possibility of complete randomness, in which there is no causal connection between events whatsoever (Dupre, 172-173). Neither strict determinism nor complete randomness are taken very seriously by the current scientific community. With the rise of quantum mechanics and string theory, probabilistic uniformitarianism seems to be the most mainstream view today. Dupre argues, however, for probabilistic catastrophism. To make his case, he first cites the fact that generating probabilistic causal accounts, especially in complex situations, faces insurmountable epistemological difficulties. Specifically, he brings up chaos theory, which deals with systems that are guided by relatively
ROBERT M. HEMM, JR. deterministic mathematical functions, but functions that are indefinitely sensitive to exactness and alterations of certain variables. Thus, if realized physically, it would be impossible to measure such systems accurately enough to give a true account of the processes in motion. Meteorology is hypothesized to be an example of such a system, which would explain our failure in predicting the weather with much accuracy.3 If it is not possible for us to generate causal probabilities, Dupre argues, why think they exist4 (Dupre, 194-195)? Dupre also makes general arguments against any sort of unamity thesis. This is the idea that all properties, phenomena, and laws in higher level sciences are derived from those in lower level sciences, and that a single overarching set of causal laws can be used to articulate all interactions taking place at all levels of complexity in the universe. Why then, he asks, do we encounter such heterogeneity in the types of phenomena and properties we encounter in the universe, heterogeneity which despite all our scientific efforts continues to resist reduction (Dupre, 203)? While both of these arguments are central to the thesis of this paper, I do recognize that Dupreâ€&#x;s claims are empirical ones, and ones which I am not qualified to evaluate in detail. Further scientific investigations may reveal them to be true or false, or may simply leave them unevaluated. However, I believe the conclusions reached by Dupre are plausible, and my task here is to examine their implications for the mind-body problem should we stipulate them. So, my position may be stated as conditional: If probabilistic catastrophism is true, it has important consequences for the mind/body problem. Indeterminism and Emergentism I turn now to a discussion of emergentism, a position that Jaegwon Kim summarizes in three tenets. 1. All that exists in the spacetime world are the basic particles recognized in physics and their aggregates.... 2. When aggregates of material particles attain an appropriate level of structural complexity, genuinely novel properties emerge to characterize these structured systems....
CAUSALITY, EMERGENTISM, AND MENTALITY 3. Emergent properties are irreducible to, and unpredictable from, the lower-level phenomena from which they emerge (Kim 227-228). Thus, emergentism is a type of non-reductive physicalism. When this doctrine is applied to the philosophy of mind, it is held that mentality is an emergent property of certain aggregate neurological constructions, namely brains. This property is a real and present feature of the world, but does not strictly reduce to more basic physical laws which govern the smaller parts comprising the brain. This sort of formulation allows consciousness to exist in the physical world without requiring that it be reducible. Hence, physicalism is combined with property dualism. Emergentism faces a serious problem, however, which is that of downward causation. Emergentism takes emergent properties to be real and novel in themselves, not merely resultant from properties of lower level organizations of parts. Phenomena like mentality, once they emerge, seem to take on a life of their own. However, the problem then arises that if these properties are genuinely real, they would presumably interact causally with the world like anything else. Indeed, our mental states and events, decisions, and actions do seem to interact with the physical world through the apparatus of our bodies. My decision to lift my arm effects a change in the physical state of the world which is reflected at the level of elementary physics upward. Hence, these irreducible properties seem to interrupt the closed causal nexus that governs interactions at the more basic level, effectively subjecting it to the same objections that discredit Cartesian dualism (Kim 229-230). If the interactions at a certain levelare being influenced by interactions from another level (in Descartesâ€&#x; case, the mental and physical realms) how is this being done? By what mechanism? This is where Dupreâ€&#x;s arguments become important. Probabilistic catastrophism, unlike strict determinism or probabilistic uniformitarianism, does not specifically require a closed causal nexus governed by universal laws that determines outcomes or probabilities of outcomes. Without requiring the strict adherence to universal causal laws, it becomes possible for emergent properties to have downward causal powers without needing to be reducible. One could see the interaction of my consciousness with the world swinging the odds that a cataclysm
ROBERT M. HEMM, JR. of events occurs in my neurological system, such that my arm moves. This type of interaction can be especially well articulated if the brain‟s functioning falls under the heading of any type of chaos theory, under which very minor alterations in isolated parts of the brain could produce large changes in overall outcomes. Now of course, it cannot be that the emergent properties cause particular outcomes that would have no chance whatsoever of occurring without the specific intervention. Emergentism has no problem with this caveat. Indeed, it would seem that the physical state of the brain and the specifics of the conscious experience must be closely related. Any theory in which this was not the case would fly directly in the face of overwhelming psychological and neurological evidence. It is certainly true that there are general rules of correlation extending between the emergent properties and the lower-level parts. The emergentist thesis is that these correlations are not explained by any set of reducible scientific laws. A universe governed by probabilistic catastrophism seems to make this possible. Functionalism and Multiple Realizability Emergentism under such a scheme creates serious problems for any functionalist theory of mentality. Functionalism seems incompatible with it in three ways. First, part of the impetus for something like emergentism is to render an account of consciousness and qualitative experience, an intuitively major part of human mentality but one which functionalism conspicuously seems to avoid or attempts to explain away as non-existent. While in this paper I am focusing primarily on mentality, an account of mentality ought to be compatible with some account of consciousness and qualitative experience. Second, all functionalist accounts include a ceteris paribus clause which precludes structure-changing events from being counted as inputs. However, this clause seems to ignore a central aspect of the brain‟s extended existence, and thus functionalism falls short of giving a complete account of the mentality to which the brain gives rise. Finally, if we accept that universal causal laws do not exist, functionalism‟s basis for explanation seems ill-founded, making it at best an approximation. The first incompatibility is, for the most part, selfexplanatory. Nagel‟s well-known article, “What‟s It Like To Be A
CAUSALITY, EMERGENTISM, AND MENTALITY Bat?” (1974, reprinted in Rosenthal, pp 422-428) crystallized the problems with ignoring the first-person phenomenological experiences that comprise consciousness. Functionalism describes human beings as machines, and while providing algorithms for behavior, the machine-state paradigm offers no explanation for the qualitative experience of tasting chocolate, or how it feels to find one‟s way with bat sonar. Clearly, a complete picture of mentality should make some provision for such considerations. The second incompatibility shows a way in which a functional account starkly contrasts with the functioning of actual brains. In order to allow the state-tables conceived in a functional model to be ontologically accurate, the functionalist must include a ceteris paribus clause so that very abnormal or structure-altering events (piercing of the cranium) are not counted as inputs.5 However, I contend that constant structural changes in the brain are neither abnormal, nor should they be excluded as important elements in understanding mentality. The brain is an incredibly complex system, consisting of billions of neurons, constantly taking in nutrients, forming new pathways, removing dead cells, and generally responding to its non-neurological interactions with the world (interactions that do not occur directly by way of incoming or outgoing nervous signals). Under the emergentist model, it seems likely that this ability to evolve and be in a state of constant structural flux plays some part in the emergence of mental properties. Hence, a functionalist model specifically lacks the dynamism that could be a crucial ingredient in mentality. While functionalism is indeed useful in making broader generalizations and seeming to uncover regularities, I state again that its determinations are too vague to account truly for the processes actually at work. Finally and most importantly, functionalism bases mentality in the causal relations between inputs, machine-states, and outputs. The state-tables that articulate these relations either describe them either as deterministic (given state S and input I, output O and go to S‟), or as probabilistic (given state S and input I, x% chance to output O and go to S‟ and y% chance to output O* and go to S*) (Putnam, 1967, reprinted in Rosenthal, pp. 197-203). However, this relies on universal laws that are either strictly deterministic or probabilistically uniformitarian.
ROBERT M. HEMM, JR. The type of emergentism I am describing does not conform to either type of laws, and thus a functionalist account that uses them does so on false grounds. The emergentist thesis, combined with probabilistic catastrophism, leaves the question open as to whether or not mentality can be multiply realized. The thesis does, however, make it an empirical question, not a necessary condition. Using his famous Chinese room example, John Searle argued that the mere ability to mimic and provide appropriate output (given an input) does not amount to understanding or mentality. In “Minds, Brains, and Programs”, Searle states, “My own view is that only a machine could think, and indeed only very special kinds of machines, namely brains and machines that had the same causal powers as brains,” (1980, reprinted in Rosenthal, pg 519). It is unclear what it would mean to have the same causal powers as brains under the emergentist thesis. The irreducibility of the relation between the brain and mentality makes it difficult to evaluate what other types of systems might spawn the emergence of mental properties. It is certainly possible that mentality only emerges from brainy substances, in which case it would not be multiply realizable. On the other hand, mentality could appear in a system or medium very different from a brain, but it would be difficult to know whether or not this was the case. Our assignment of mentality to entities in the world is based primarily on behavioral observations, and thus a nonbrainy system that had mental properties but did not behave in customary ways would be very hard to recognize. In any case, the question becomes one for science. Notes It is important to distinguish between instrumental and ontological functionalism here. Instrumentalist functionalism only offers functional models as a useful tool in understanding mentality (something along the lines of what Daniel Dennett might suggest (Dennett, 1975, reprinted in Rosenthal, pp. 339350), whereas ontological functionalism holds that mental states and functional states are identical, and thus functionalism captures the whole of mentality. 2 Probabilistic uniformitarianism can be read to be either reductionist, or antireductionist. That is, it could be that the probabilistic laws operating at the various levels of organization are ultimately derivable from the laws operating at the most basic level (physics). On the other hand, it may be that the laws are not derivable, yielding an anti-reductionist theory. Dupre seems to peg most scientists as subscribers to something resembling the former interpretation (Dupre, 172), though either account seems plausible. 3 One might say, however, that while meteorology does seem at times to be 1
CAUSALITY, EMERGENTISM, AND MENTALITY chaotic and impenetrable, this does not mean that all science is like this, for we do frequently seem to observe isolated uniformities under the right conditions, such as the results of elementary chemistry experiments. I offer two responses. First, it does not follow that because probabilities in situations are ultimately indeterminate means they can not approximate out to something extremely high (approaching deterministic certainty). Second, it may be that in many cases where we take causal relations to be uniform, abnormalities are occurring, and either our observational apparatus and precision of classification are not adequately sensitive to them, or they are simply being written off as tainted experimental data. In both cases, we would be simply interpreting what we observe to be uniform when in fact it is not. 4 The condition Dupre is speaking of is, on its face, an epistemological one. Dupre suggests that so far we have been unable to pin down strict causal laws, and given this difficulty, concludes that we have every reason to suspect that they do not exist at all, a metaphysical argument. Clearly, the thesis of this paper depends heavily on this indeed being a metaphysical condition, and not just an epistemic one. 5 This is a criticism not exclusively applicable to functionalism, but to all sciences in general. Traditional laws of biology and chemistry begin to break down when extraordinary circumstances are presented (such as being in close proximity to a black hole).
Bibliography Daniel C. Dennett, “True Believers: The Intensional Strategy and Why It Works” 1975, reprinted in Rosenthal (1991), pp. 339-350. John Dupre, The Disorder Of Things: Metaphysical Foundations Of The Dis unity Of Science. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1993. pp. 146-217. Jaegwon Kim, Philosophy of Mind. Westview Press. Boulder, CO, 1998. pp. 226-233. Thomas Nagel, “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” 1974, reprinted in Rosenthal (1991), pp. 422-428. Hilary Putnam, “The Nature of Mental States” 1967, reprinted in Rosenthal (1991), pp. 197-203. David M. Rosenthal, The Nature of Mind. Oxford University Press. Oxford, UK, 1991. John R. Searle, “Minds, Brains, and Programs.” 1980, reprinted in Rosenthal (1991), pp. 509-519.
Warrant, Proper Function, and the Great Pumpkin Objection
JOSEPH CURTIS MILLER
lvin Plantinga claims that belief in God can be taken as properly basic, without appealing to arguments or relying on faith. Traditionally, any account of the knowledge for the existence of God has gone something like this: (1) Person P believes the statement S “God exists” is true. (2) The statement S “God exists” is true. (3) P has sufficient evidence for the truth of the statement S “God exists”. _______________________________ Thus, (4) Person P knows that God exists. Plantinga maintains that any formal process of justification, supplied by premise (3), is unnecessary in giving one knowledge to the existence of God. He claims one can bypass premise (2) and (3) and go directly from premise (1) to the conclusion. Plantinga maintains that “belief in God is properly basic - that is, such that it is rational to accept it without accepting it on the basis of any other propositions or beliefs at all.”1 Thus, it is rational to believe in the existence of God without appeal to arguments or appeal to faith. In other words, we can just „know‟ God exists. Plantinga claims “a believer is entirely rational, entirely within his epistemic rights in starting with belief in God, in accepting it as basic, and in taking it as premise for argument to other conclusions.”2 But, as Plantinga asks, “what is the status of criteria for knowledge, or proper basicality, or justified belief?”3 To answer this, Plantinga rejects the epistemology of both foundationalism and coherence theories. That is, he claims (1) “being self-evident, or incorrigible, or evident to the senses is not a necessary condition of proper basicality”4 and (2) “belief in God is... rational to accept it without accepting it on the basis of any other propositions or beliefs at all.”5 Instead, Plantinga accepts a version of weak foundationalism that relies on a notion of proper basicality, and claims, “A weak foundationalist is likely to hold that some properly basic beliefs are such that anyone who
WARRANT, PROPER FUNCTION accepts them, knows them.” 6 But how reliable is this account to give us knowledge, especially of the existence of God? While responding to an objection against his own theory of proper basicality (The Great Pumpkin Objection), Plantinga develops an account of epistemic warrant upon the notion of having proper functioning cognitive equipment. In light of this theory, Keith Lehrer has raised several objections against Plantinga‟s account of epistemic warrant. In this paper, I will look at Plantinga‟s account of epistemic warrant and Lehrer‟s objections to Plantinga‟s theory. Finally, after having evaluated Lehrer‟s objections and Plantinga‟s responses, I will maintain that Plantinga still has not satisfactorily established a viable epistemology that accounts for the existence of God. (I) The Great Pumpkin Objection This objection asks, “If we say that belief in God is properly basic, will we not be committed to holding that just anything, or nearly anything can properly be taken as basic?”7 In other words, since Plantinga makes the claim that the knowledge of God‟s existence can be taken as properly basic without any reference to other beliefs that we have, then does that mean that someone can hold, as properly basic, beliefs that other “bizarre aberration(s)” also exist? As Plantinga asks, “What about the belief that the Great Pumpkin returns every Halloween? Could I take that as basic? And if I can‟t, why can I properly take belief in God as basic?”8 This objection recognizes the difficulty in maintaining knowledge of God‟s existence while appealing to a system that lacks either internal and external justification or coherence. If knowledge is simply a matter of holding a true belief about something, then why is it not possible to claim beliefs about things like „the Great Pumpkin exists‟ as knowledge? Plantinga maintains that holding such a claim is mistaken. But why? At first Plantinga responds, by claiming that according to reformed epistemologists, “certain beliefs are properly basic in certain circumstances; [while] those same beliefs may not be properly basic in other circumstances.”9 Thus Plantinga is making some sort of distinction between which beliefs count as being properly basic from those that do not. Here, Plantinga relies on the use of the phrase “in certain circumstances”. In certain circumstances,
JOSEPH CURTIS MILLER it is rational for a belief to be taken as properly basic; but what are those „certain circumstances‟? Plantinga seems to know what these certain circumstances are, but he is not effective at elucidating what they are. By what theory does Plantinga propose to outline those circumstances? Plantinga contends that “What the Reformed epistemologist holds is that there are widely realized circumstances in which belief in God is properly basic.”10 However, this response does not answer the question about a criterion of „circumstances‟. While maintaining a weak foundationalist account of proper basicality, Plantinga must still accept the burden of being accountable for some explanation of his theory. That is, he must be able to demonstrate how, under these „certain circumstances‟ it is possible to take the existence of God as properly basic. To this objection, Plantinga claims, Must one have such a criterion before one can sensibly make any judgements - positive or negative - about proper basicality? Surely not. Suppose I do not know of a satisfactory substitute for the criteria proposed by classical foundationalism; I am nevertheless entirely within my epistemic rights in holding that certain propositions in certain conditions are not properly basic.11 But as Lehrer claims, “To raise objections against a theory is, however, not sufficient in philosophy. One must show that one can construct a theory that avoids the objections and, moreover, that clarifies the underlying problem.”12 That is, while Plantinga‟s account of proper basicality is a response to classical foundationalism, it still has not given a convincing answer to the question, “How do we know that God exists?” Plantinga‟s account of proper basicality maintains, the proper way to arrive at such a criterion is, broadly speaking, inductive. We must assemble examples of beliefs and conditions such that the former are obviously properly basic in the latter, and examples of beliefs and conditions such that the former are obviously not properly basic in the
WARRANT, PROPER FUNCTION latter. We must then frame hypotheses as to the necessary and sufficient conditions of proper basicality and test these hypotheses by reference to those examples.13 The way that Plantinga proposes this criterion is by (1) framing a picture of knowledge and (2) using this to account for how we can have knowledge in the existence of God. The first of these two claims is very ambitious, for Plantinga attempts to describe a picture for a theory of knowledge. Plantinga‟s theory is: “The correct picture of knowledge, then, goes as follows: a belief constitutes knowledge, if it is true, and if it arises as a result of the right use and proper functioning of our epistemic capacities.”14 Here, Plantinga has developed three conditions for a belief to be considered as knowledge: (1) the belief must be true, (2) the belief must arise from our epistemic capacities functioning properly, and (3) the true belief, derived from our epistemic capacities functioning properly, must result from our capacities under the right use. This definition will later be developed into an epistemic system of warrant, and what these three conditions mean exactly will be discussed in that account of warrant. (II) Warrant and Proper Functionality In his book Warrant and Proper Function, Plantinga develops his „picture of a theory of knowledge‟ that was presented in his paper On Reformed Epistemology, into a modified account of epistemic warrant. But what exactly does warrant do? As Jonathan Kvanvig claims, “Warrant is thus that elusive property sought by epistemologists for centuries that distinguishes true belief from knowledge.”15 Further he claims that “warrant is that property, enough of which, that is sufficient for knowledge.”16 So, certainly we would hope that an account that attempts to define knowledge, will be able to distinguish mere belief in God from knowledge of God. Plantinga‟s account of warrant is as follows: “A belief has warrant for you if and only if (1) the cognitive faculties involved in the production of B are functioning properly...(2) your cognitive environment is sufficiently similar to the one for which your cognitive faculties are designed; (3) the
JOSEPH CURTIS MILLER triple of design plan governing the production of the belief in question involves, as purpose or function, the production of true beliefs; and (4) the design plan is a good one: that is, there is a high statistical or objective probability that a belief produced in accordance with the relevant segment of the design plan in that sort of environment is true.”17 As was demonstrated earlier, this notion of „proper functionality‟ plays a very important role in Plantinga‟s epistemology. It is with the concept of proper functionality that Plantinga introduces a condition of design into the properly basic system of belief. Considering the four conditions that Plantinga has outlined, all of them rely on properly functioning cognitive faculties. For one‟s cognitive faculties to be functioning properly, they must operate as they are designed to operate. That is, for example, if you question whether your sense of vision is functioning properly, then you may rely on past experiences when you have known your vision to work properly and then adjust your present vision experiences according to those past vision experiences. For example, if I am myopic and my eyesight is getting progressively worse, one day I might say to myself, “I think my eyesight is getting worse, perhaps I should get a stronger prescription to my glasses.” I would be advised to focus my vision on objects that normally in the past have been relatively easy for me to focus on. I would continue trying to focus my vision upon objects at different distances, different sizes, and different sources of light until I make note of all the variations between my past (better) vision and my new (degenerated) vision. Thus, if I am able to tell that my sense of vision is not functioning properly, then I am perhaps not best equipped for making claims to knowledge of events that I cannot decipher visually. For example, if my vision is bad, and I am the only witness to a murder, but did not get a good look at the murderer, then when a row of suspects are presented to me, I ought not to rely on just my visual accounts in deciding the guilt of a suspect. Thus, under Plantinga‟s account, I could not take as properly basic the knowledge that any one person committed the murder, solely based on my visual experience. Not only do we have to possess properly functioning
WARRANT, PROPER FUNCTION cognitive equipment, but our equipment must be functioning in an environment for which our faculties were designed. That is, all of us with a good sense of hearing would find it most difficult to listen to our favorite music 60 feet under water and really make any sense out of it. Likewise, our normal properly functioning environment for thinking is not a drug-induced state. However, if we were to take an hallucinogenic or narcotic drug, then we would find it difficult to carry on the normal thoughts that we typically do when we are not under the influence of these drugs. Thus, for beliefs to count as knowledge, not only must the right conditions of cognitive equipment (properly functioning as it is designed to operate) be met, but also that our equipment is in an environment that cooperates with our equipment functioning in the reliable and predictable way that it is supposed to. The third and fourth conditions concern the production of true beliefs. What is required in condition (3) is that the beliefs produced by the first two conditions, being met, are typically true beliefs. This condition makes it so that our claims to true beliefs are reliable, predictable, and accurate. That is, that we are used to having true beliefs as a result of our properly functioning equipment. Condition (4) goes beyond the claim of individual true beliefs to see how well our beliefs correspond with reality. Again, the concern is over how reliably, and accurately we can predict our beliefs being with reality. If the beliefs that we typically have in a certain environment are true, then we would be able to take those beliefs as properly basic. (III) Lehrerâ€™s Critique Keith Lehrer presents a critique against Plantingaâ€&#x;s epistemology and his notion of proper functionality and warranted belief. The critique asks whether proper functioning is enough to yield warrant, and, combined with true belief, knowledge. In his objection, Lehrer tries to prove that proper functioning is neither necessary nor sufficient for knowledge. Lehrer gives two examples to illustrate this point. The first of the two considers a man by the name of Mr. Truetemp. Mr. Truetemp is the sufferer of an odd brain malady that requires the usage of medication to treat it. Mr. Truetemp is only supposed to take this medication when his temperature exceeds 98 degrees. But of course, it is very difficult for him to monitor his
JOSEPH CURTIS MILLER temperature all the time. The risk of him not taking his temperature at appropriate moments, and thus failing to take his medication, could be fatal. Thus, Mr. Truetemp‟s concerned doctor, along with several neural surgeons, discovered a way that Mr. Truetemp could regulate his body temperature without having to constantly take his temperature. The doctors have made it possible to install a small device in the brain of people that is able to take the patient‟s body temperature and produce true beliefs about one‟s body temperature. Thus, if the doctors could implant the device into Mr. Truetemp‟s brain and program the device to produce true beliefs once an hour, then Mr. Truetemp‟s life would become much more efficient by not having to worry about a fatal dysfunction caused by an excellerated body temperature. Suppose they go through with the procedure and the operation is a success. When Mr. Truetemp wakes up, and after being awake for a while, Mr. Truetemp claims, “You know, I am suddenly convinced that my temperature is 98 degrees, but I do not have the slightest idea why I believe that .” Thus, the doctors conclude that this confirms that the device works, that is, it “worked just as it was designed to do and is functioning properly to produce true beliefs on the hour about the brain temperature of Mr. Truetemp.”18 Now, the problem that this poses for Plantinga is that Mr. Truetemp is having true beliefs about his temperature. His beliefs are “produced by a device that is properly functioning to produce true beliefs as it was designed to do in the environment it was designed for.”19 But, “Mr. Truetemp does not know that his temperature is 98 degrees when he believes it is.”20 Thus, Mr. Truetemp‟s account fulfills Plantinga‟s account for warrant but it does not produce knowledge. Thus, this objection demonstrates that proper functionality is not a sufficient condition for knowledge. The second objection that Lehrer raises against Plantinga is the example of Ms. Prejudice. Just as the previous example showed that proper functionality is not sufficient, this objection shows that proper functionality is not a necessary condition for knowledge. This example demonstrates how a belief might arise from improper functioning (e.g. racial prejudice) but become warranted later by the acquisition of evidence. Take for example, Ms. Prejudice. Ms. Prejudice has a strong belief that
WARRANT, PROPER FUNCTION members of a race contract a certain disease because of their genetic makeup. This, for her, demonstrates their racial inferiority, and her racial superiority. Now, also take into consideration that Ms. Prejudice is a medical student and through her research comes to discover that the medical evidence for her prejudiced belief is strong. In time, she becomes a very successful and respected medical research scientist, and she gets nominated to be on a research team to investigate the genetic nature of this elusive diease. As circumstances permit, all of her fellow research colleagues know of her prejudice and determine that she will be a good member of the team because of her prejudice (that is, she will be the strongest opposition that they could possibly find). But they also know of her strong convictions to science and medicine. So, they are completely confident in her ability. As the team‟s research develops, it becomes clearer that the evidence points to the claim that the disease is indeed caused by genetic makeup of the patient. Thus, Ms. Prejudice becomes very careful with her evidence so that she cannot be charged with making conclusions based on her unwarranted belief. However, the evidence becomes overwhelming. To the dismay of the other medical researchers, they all conclude that the evidence conclusively demonstrates that the disease is indeed derived from the genetics of the patient. Thus the evidence has been rigorously tested, but her belief that the disease is genetically caused is the result of her still very intense prejudice. That is, “After the investigation, her belief has warrant, all the warrant the matter admits of, and she knows that the disease is genetically caused.”21 But, “her belief is the product of an improperly functioning system of racial prejudice.”22 Again this example is a problem for Plantinga. It demonstrates how one who has knowledge, true beliefs, and beliefs that are warranted does not arrive at one‟s beliefs via cognitive faculties functioning properly. Therefore, with these two examples, Lehrer has demonstrated that proper functionality is neither necessary nor sufficient as a condition for knowledge. (IV) Plantinga’s Responses The counterexample of Mr. Truetemp, Plantinga claims, does not pose a problem for his account of warrant. Plantinga claims, that Mr. Truetemp has a belief that no one else has,
JOSEPH CURTIS MILLER namely that he has beliefs about his temperature. However, if he shared these beliefs with other people, they would think that he is mad. That is, Mr. Truetemp is “constructed like other human beings and none of them have this ability; furthermore, everyone he meets scoffs or smiles at his claim that he does have it.”23 This accounts for a defeater in his system of beliefs. That is, since these experiences are out of the ordinary of any properly functioning system, then this anomaly is enough to defeat his claims that he does indeed have knowledge of his temperature. But how viable of a solution is this anyway? It seems that all that is required to defeat Mr. Truetemp‟s “defeater” is for the doctors to simply explain to Truetemp what they had implanted in his brain and how it is supposed to function. That is, they could explain what it is supposed to do, and under what conditions it is functioning properly to Mr. Truetemp. However, if he knows the device is in his brain, does that follow that he now knows what his temperature is, as opposed to holding a true belief without knowledge? According to Plantinga, if Mr. Truetemp believes that the device is indeed delivering true beliefs about his temperature then clearly, yes. But, Mr. Truetemp never gets this opportunity to reflect about whether the belief is true or not, he just assents to it without ever wondering if it is caused in the right way. On this point, Plantinga may want to claim that this can count as a special case of a cognitive process. That is, the fact that I am simply and directly having a belief, Plantinga might ask whether one can “take this to be a special limiting case of cognitive faculties or belief-producing processes functioning properly?”24 Plantinga has therefore been willing to say that “this belief isn‟t exactly produced by a cognitive faculty, or at least by one of my cognitive faculties; but it is produced by a properly functioning cognitive process, and I [Plantinga] think that‟s sufficient.”25 But, wait a second. In both of these objections, the agents are receiving true beliefs passively. That is, they are not directly aware of the cause of their true beliefs, or of the „why‟ of their true beliefs. They assent to their beliefs without determining if their beliefs are caused in the right way or if their cognitive equipment is working properly. They lack justification. But in the Mr. Truetemp example, Plantinga is quick to say that it does not count as warrant because of the lack of cognitive faculties,
WARRANT, PROPER FUNCTION but later would be committed to claiming that as long as it is caused by a cognitive process, then it can be warranted. So, what‟s the difference? Plantinga has not given a clear account of why he thinks one way or the other. He has only suggested the latter is produced by a “properly functioning cognitive process”. But so is the former. That is, the process that Plantinga is referring to in the latter (receiving true beliefs) is also present in the former (receiving true beliefs). I am not sure how Plantinga might try to respond to this. However, in light of considering one agent superior over the other, with equal consideration of evidence, it is clear that he must respond to this. Conclusion The problems that Plantinga is committed to responding to involve the same type of problems that he was originally responding to in the Great Pumpkin Objection. I agree with Van Hook when he claims that Plantinga takes the Great Pumpkin Objection too lightly, and clearly from this paper, it has resulted in making vague statements about proper basicality. Perhaps Plantinga needs to go back and reformulate his responses to the Great Pumpkin Objection, since that seems to be where his troubles begin. Or perhaps Plantinga does after all have to concede to either the strong foundationalist or the coherence theorist, and place knowledge of God‟s existence on some foundation or coherence with other beliefs. Notes Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff, Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983) p. 72 2 Ibid., p. 72 3 Ibid., p. 75 4 Alvin Plantinga, “The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology” in Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings, ed. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996) p. 320 5 Plantinga and Wolterstorff, p. 72 6 Peterson, Hasker, Reichenbach, and Basinger., p. 317 7 Plantinga and Wolterstorff, p. 74 8 Peterson, Hasker, Reichenbach, and Basinger., p., 318 9 Plantinga and Wolterstorff, p. 74 10 Ibid., p. 74 11 Ibid., p. 75 12 Keith Lehrer, “Proper Function versus Systematic Coherence” in Warrant in 1
JOSEPH CURTIS MILLER Contemporary Epistemology: Essays in Honor of Alvin Plantinga, ed. Jonathan Kvanvig (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1996), p. 36 13 Plantinga and Wolterstorff, p. 76 14 Alvin Plantinga, “On Reformed Epistemology” in Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings, ed. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 336 15 Kvanvig, p. viii 16 Ibid., p. viii 17 Alvin Plantinga, Warrant and Proper Function (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993) p. 194 18 Kvanvig, p. 32 19 Ibid., p. 32 20 Ibid., 32 21 Ibid., p. 34 22 Ibid., p. 34 23 Ibid., p. 333 24 Ibid., p. 338 25 Ibid., p. 338
Bibliography Lehrer, Keith; “Proper Function versus Systematic Coherence” in Warrant in Contemporary Epistemology: Essays in Honor of Avlin Plantinga, ed. Jonathan Kvanvig (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1996) Plantinga, Alvin and Wolterstorff, Nicholas; Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983) Plantinga, Alvin; Warrant and Proper Function (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993) Plantinga, Alvin; “On Reformed Epistemology” in Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings, ed. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996) Plantinga, Alvin; “The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology” in Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings, ed. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996)
Episteme Announces the Scheduled Publication of Volume XIV • September 2003
CALL FOR PAPERS Episteme is a student-run publication that aims to recognize and encourage excellence in undergraduate philosophy by providing students and faculty examples of some of the best work currently being done in undergraduate philosophy programs. Episteme will consider papers written by undergraduate students in any area of philosophy. Papers are evaluated according to the following criteria: quality of research, depth of philosophical inquiry, creativity, original insight and clarity. Submissions to be considered for the fourtheenth issue (September 2003) should adhere to the following stipulations: 1. A maximum of 4,000 words. 2. Combine research and original insight. 3. Provide a cover sheet that includes the following information: author‟s name, mailing address (current and permanent), email address, telephone number, college or university name, and title of submission. 4. Include a Works Cited page in MLA bibliographic format. Please use endnotes as a supplement. 5. The title page should bear the title of the paper only; the author‟s name should not appear on the submission itself. 6. Provide three double-spaced paper copies with numbered pages and one (electronic) copy formatted for Microsoft Word for Windows on a 3.5” disk. Submissions must be postmarked by 1 February 2003, addressed: The Editors • Episteme • Department of Philosophy Blair Knapp Hall • Denison University • Granville, OH 43023