Recent Submissions

  • What does the so-called False Belief Task actually check?

    Ben-Yami, Hanoch; Ben-Yami, Maya; Ben-Yami, Yotham; Department of Philosophy (PsychArchives, 2019)
    There is currently a theoretical tension between young children’s failure in False Belief Tasks (FBTs) and their success in a variety of other tasks that also seem to require the ability to ascribe false beliefs to agents. We try to explain this tension by the hypothesis that in the FBT, children think they are asked what the agent should do in the circumstances and not what the agent will do. We explain why this hypothesis is plausible. We examined the hypothesis in two experiments, each involving a new task. In the first task, the hypothesised misunderstanding of the question leads to failure without the need to ascribe a false belief, and we show that failure in this new task is correlated with failure in the FBT. In the second task, passing which requires ascribing a false belief to an agent, and for which we have partial yet encouraging results, the children are asked a question which is unlikely to be misunderstood. Children pass this task much more often than they do a standard FBT. The mentioned tension is thus resolved. We conclude that the so-called False Belief Task probably does not check the ability to ascribe false beliefs but rather linguistic development.
  • The Structure of Space and Time, and the Indeterminacy of Classical Physics

    Ben-Yami, Hanoch; Department of Philosophy (arXiv, 2023)
    I explain in what sense the structure of space and time is probably vague or indefinite, a notion I define. This leads to the mathematical representation of location in space and time by a vague interval. From this, a principle of complementary inaccuracy between spatial location and velocity is derived, and its relation to the Uncertainty Principle discussed. In addition, even if the laws of nature are deterministic, the behaviour of systems will be random to some degree. These and other considerations draw classical physics closer to Quantum Mechanics. An arrow of entropy is also derived, given an arrow of time. Lastly, chaos is given an additional, objective meaning.
  • The Development of Descartes’ Idea of Representation by Correspondence

    Ben-Yami, Hanoch; Strazzoni, Andrea; Sgarbi, Marco; Department of Philosophy (Firenze University PressFirenze, 2023)
    Descartes was the first to hold that, when we perceive, the representation need not resemble what it represents but should correspond to it. Descartes developed this ground-breaking, influential conception in his work on analytic geometry and then transferred it to his theory of perception. I trace the development of the idea in Descartes’ early mathematical works; his articulation of it in Rules for the Direction of the Mind; his first suggestions there to apply this kind of representation-by-correspondence in the scientific inquiry of colours; and, finally, the transfer of the idea to the theory of perception in The World.
  • Murdoch's ontological argument

    Mason, Cathy; Dougherty, Matt (Wiley, 2022)
    Anselm's ontological argument is an argument for the existence of God. This paper presents Iris Murdoch's ontological argument for the existence of the Good. It discusses her interpretation of Anselm's argument, her own distinctive appropriation of it, as well as some of the merits of her version of the argument. In doing so, it also shows how the argument integrates some key Murdochian ideas: morality's wide scope, the basicness of vision to morality, moral realism, and Platonism.
  • Medically Unnecessary Genital Cutting and the Rights of the Child: Moving Toward Consensus

    The Brussels Collaboration on Bodily Integrity; Ben-Yami, Hanoch (Informa UK Limited, 2019)
  • Fictional Characters and Their Names

    Ben-Yami, Hanoch (Polskie Towarzystwo Semiotyczne, 2022)
    Fictional characters do not really exist. Names of fictional characters refer to fictional characters. We should divorce the idea of reference from that of existence (the picture of the name as a tag has limited applications; the Predicate Calculus, with its existential quantifier, does not adequately reflect the relevant concepts in natural lan-guage; and model theory, with its domains, might also have been misleading). Many puzzle-cases are resolved this way (among other things, there is no problem assigning negative existential statements the appropriate truth values). And fictional characters, although not existing, have real powers through their representations, which are real.
  • The Quantified Argument Calculus and Natural Logic

    Ben-Yami, Hanoch (Verein philosophie.ch, 2022)
    The formalisation of natural language arguments in a formal language close to it in syntax has been a central aim of Moss's Natural Logic. I examine how the Quantified Argument Calculus (Quarc) can handle the inferences Moss has considered. I show that they can be incorporated in existing versions of Quarc or in straightforward extensions of it, all within sound and complete systems. Moreover, Quarc is closer in some respects to natural language than are Moss's systems - for instance, it does not use negative nouns. The process also sheds light on formal properties and presuppositions of some inferences it formalises. Directions for future work are outlined.
  • Aristotle returns

    Crane, Tim; Department of Philosophy (Institute on Religion and Public Life, 2018)
    Review of the book: Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science, ed. by William M. R. Simpson, Robert C. Koons, and Nicholas J. Teh, Routledge, 352 pages, $140
  • The problem of perception

    Crane, Tim; French, Craig; Zalta, Edward N.; Department of Philosophy (Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, 2021)
    The Problem of Perception is a pervasive and traditional problem aboutour ordinary conception of perceptual experience. The problem iscreated by the phenomena of perceptual illusion and hallucination: ifthese kinds of error are possible, how can perceptual experience bewhat we ordinarily understand it to be: something that enables directperception of the world? These possibilities of error challenge theintelligibility of our ordinary conception of perceptual experience;the major theories of experience are responses to this challenge.
  • Religion in the Open Society

    Crane, Tim; Ignatieff, Michael; Roch, Stefan; Department of Philosophy (CEU PressNew York; Budapest, 2018)
  • The knowledge argument is an argument about knowledge

    Crane, Tim; Coleman, Sam; Department of Philosophy (Cambridge University PressCambridge, 2019)
    The knowledge argument is something that is both an ideal for philosophy and yet surprisingly rare: a simple, valid argument for an interesting and important conclusion, with plausible premises. From a compelling thought experiment and a few apparently innocuous assumptions, the argument seems to give us the conclusion, a priori, that physicalism is false. Given the apparent power of this apparently simple argument, it is not surprising that philosophers have worried over the argument and its proper diagnosis: physicalists have disputed its validity, or soundness or both; in response, non-physicalists have attempted to reformulate the argument to show its real anti-physicalist lesson.
  • "Taking Simulation Seriously": Tim Crane reviews Reality+ by David Chalmers

    Crane, Tim; Department of Philosophy (Philosophical Society of England, 2022)
    Review of the book "Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy" by David Chalmers published by Allen Lane
  • The significance of the many property problem

    Crane, Tim; Grzankowski, Alex; Department of Philosophy (Rosenberg and Sellier, 2022)
    One of the most influential traditional objections to Adverbialism about perceptual experience is that posed by Frank Jackson’s ‘many property problem’. Perhaps largely because of this objection, few philosophers now defend Adverbialism. We argue, however, that the essence of the many property problem arises for all of the leading metaphysical theories of experience: all leading theories must simply take for granted certain facts about experience, and no theory looks well positioned to explain the facts in a straightforward way. Because of this, the many property problem isn’t on its own a good reason for rejecting Adverbialism; and nor is it a puzzle that will decide amongst the other leading theories.
  • Thinking about Things

    Crane, Tim; Department of Philosophy (University of Notre Dame, 2019)
    Review of the book: Mark Sainsbury, Thinking about Things, Oxford University Press, 2018, 199pp., $45.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198803348
  • Secularism as a liberal ideal

    Crane, Tim; Department of Philosophy (La Société Tocqueville, 2018)
    Review of the book "Sex and Secularism" by Joan Wallach Scott
  • The Quantified Argument Calculus with Two- and Three-valued Truth-valuational Semantics

    Yin, Hongkai; Ben-Yami, Hanoch; Department of Philosophy (Springer, 2023)
    We introduce a two-valued and a three-valued truth-valuational substitutional semantics for the Quantified Argument Calculus (Quarc). We then prove that the 2-valid arguments are identical to the 3-valid ones with strict-to-tolerant validity. Next, we introduce a Lemmon-style Natural Deduction system and prove the completeness of Quarc on both two- and three-valued versions, adapting Lindenbaum’s Lemma to truth-valuational semantics. We proceed to investigate the relations of three-valued Quarc and the Predicate Calculus (PC). Adding a logical predicate T to Quarc, true of all singular arguments, allows us to represent PC quantification in Quarc and translate PC into Quarc, preserving validity. Introducing a weak existential quantifier into PC allows us to translate Quarc into PC, also preserving validity. However, unlike the translated systems, neither extended system can have a sound and complete proof system with Cut, supporting the claim that these are basically different calculi.
  • Let the ruler be the ruler: aiming at truth in Xunzi’s doctrine of the rectification of names

    Ryan, Liam D.; Department of Philosophy (Springer, 2022)
    How should we understand the Confucian doctrine of the rectification of names (zhengming): what does it mean that an object’s name must be in accordance with its reality, and why does it matter? The aim of this paper is to answer this question by advocating a novel interpretation of the later Confucian, Xunzi’s account of the doctrine. Xunzi claims that sage-kings ascribe names and values to objects by convention, and since they are sages, they know the truth. When we misuse names, we are departing from a sagely convention of naming. As sagely convention determines moral truth, departure from the linguistic convention of the sages is a departure from moral truth. On my interpretation of Xunzi, the rectification of names is not a doctrine about what is true, but a doctrine about how we aim at truth. We are aiming at descriptive truth when our language conforms to the correct name of an object according to what I call ‘Confucian conventionalism’. When we correctly aim at descriptive truth we can aim at moral truth. Therefore, I claim that the doctrine of the rectification of names is concerned with discerning the literal accordance of language with an object (what is descriptively, linguistically true), to determine what is normatively, or morally, true. According to Xunzi, moral truth is grounded in linguistic truth.
  • The metaphysical burden of Millianism

    Mahant, Nikhil; Department of Philosophy (Springer, 2022)
    The Millian semantic view of names relies on a metaphysical view of names—often given the label ‘common currency conception’ (‘CCC’)—on which the names of distinct individuals count as distinct names. While even defenders of the Millian view admit that the CCC ‘does not agree with the most common usage’ (Kripke in Naming & Necessity, Harvard University Press, 1980), I will argue further that the CCC makes names exceptional amongst the class of linguistic expressions: if the CCC is correct, then names must have a sui-generis metaphysical nature, distinct from the metaphysics of every other kind of linguistic expression. Such metaphysical exceptionalism would be justified if the Millian view had a clear, uncontested theoretical advantage over its rivals. However, in the context of a semantic debate about names in which the closest competitors of the Millian view—the Predicate view and Indexicalism—do not result in such exceptionalism, it counts as a strike against the Millian view.
  • Epistemic Partialism

    Mason, Cathy; Department of Philosophy (Wiley, 2023)
    Most of us are partial to our friends and loved ones: we treat them with special care, and we feel justified in doing so. In recent years, the idea that good friends are also epistemically partial to one another has been popular. Being a good friend, so-called epistemic partialists suggest, involves being positively biased towards one's friends – that is, involves thinking more highly of them than is warranted by the evidence. In this paper, I outline the concept of epistemic partiality and its relation to non-epistemic partiality and explore some considerations that speak in favour of and against such partialism in friendships. I finish by suggesting some directions in which this debate could go next.

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