Thursday 18 September 2014

Two draft abstracts for presentations in Durham

6th October:
On the role of the Constitutive Ideal of Rationality. Does inter-personal understanding emerge from shared rationality?

According to an influential, although contested, thought experiment in the philosophy of language, facts about linguistic meaning and belief contents derive from facts about interpersonal understanding which, in turn, presupposes comparison to an ideal of rationality. Thus, belief and meaning must be essentially rationally structured. This provides a rationale for holding that such understanding emerges from shared rationality. There are, however, two distinct ways of interpreting such a claim depending on whether or not it is possible to gain independent purchase on the notion of rationality in play. This seminar will explore both options and their consequences for thinking of the emergence involved as related to reduction or abstraction.

13th November:
On the therapeutic status of McDowell’s representationalism.

In Mind and World and other papers written around the same time, McDowell presents his representational account of experience as contributing to the dissolution of felt problems attaching to transcendental empiricism which he describes as, itself, innocent. With echoes of Sellars’ Myth of Jones, the content of experience is modelled on that of judgements and provides a philosophically minimal account of the rational friction of world on thought. But since ‘Avoiding the Myth of the Given’, the account has become a more complex theory of perceptual experience. Given McDowell’s meta-philosophical aims, the very substance of the recent stages of the evolution of the account suggests the need for a re-examination of the argument for representationalism in the first place.