ISSN 1135-1349

Issue #13 -- October 2001

SORITES, ISSN 1135-1349

Issue #13 -- October 2001. Pp. 3-5. Abstracts of the Papers

Copyright © by SORITES and the authors

Abstracts of the Papers

Non-Conceptually Contentful Attitudes in Interpretation

Daniel Laurier


Brandom's book Making It Explicit defends Davidson's claim that conceptual thought can arise only on the background of a practice of mutual interpretation, without endorsing the further view that one can be a thinker only if one has the concept of a concept. This involves (inter alia) giving an account of conceptual content in terms of what Brandom calls practical deontic attitudes. In this paper, I make a plea for the conclusion that these practical attitudes are best seen as intentional, but non-conceptually contentful. In particular, I argue that the hypothesis that Brandom's practical deontic attitudes are non-conceptually contentful wouldn't conflict with his view that non-conceptual intentionality is merely derivative. I then explore some of the implications which this hypothesis might have with respect to various forms of «intentional ascent».

Metaphor and Meaning

Alec Hyslop


The paper argues, against Davidson, that metaphorical utterances involve meaning other than literal meaning. The kind of meaning is a particular case of contextual meaning. It is argued that metaphorical meaning is not a case of speaker's meaning (Searle), nor is it occasion meaning (Beardsley). I offer an explanation of why those metaphors that are not paraphrasable cannot be paraphrased.

The Justification of Deduction

Silvio Pinto


According to Michael Dummett, deductive inference stands in need of justification which must be provided by the theory of meaning for natural language. Such a theory, he insists, should deliver an explanation for the two essential features of deduction: validity and fruitfulness. Dummett claims that only a molecularist theory of meaning could offer the desired justification. In this paper, I will consider and criticize his solution to the problem of the justification of deduction: the so-called molecular verificationist explanation. My aim here will be to show that Dummett's solution does not succeed in reconciling the conflicting demands of the respective explanations of validity and fruitfulness.

New Systemic Hypothesis of Ageing

Alexey Kolomiytsev


A new evolutionary hypothesis on ageing is presented. The developmental process is determined by the kinetic curve of population growth which is typical for every cell association. Multicellular organisms are considered systems that consist of cellular associations in symbiotic interaction. One of those associations is dominating and determines the developmental kinetics of the whole organism and its lifespan.

Truth Conditions Without Interpretation

John Collins


Davidson has given us two theses: (i) Tarski's format for truth definitions provides a format for theories of meaning and (ii) that the justification for a theory of language L as one of meaning is based upon the theory affording an informative interpretation of L-speakers. It will be argued, on the basis of a consideration of compositionality, that the Tarski format can indeed be re-jigged in line with (i). On the other hand, in opposition to (ii), I shall commend a cognitive understanding of semantic competence under which interpretation is at best of marginal interest. In defence of this move, it will be argued that once compositionality and other commonly held constraints are recognised as being in fact empirical ones, then no principled distinction can be made between them and other constraints which militate against semantic competence being socially constituted.

Identity, Analyticity and Epistemic Conservatism

Paul Tomassi


In the first instance, the paper proposes a response to W.V.O. Quine's infamous attack on the analytic-synthetic distinction which attempts to carve out a core notion of analyticity by strictly delimiting the extension of that concept. The resulting position -- epistemic conservatism -- provides a platform for a significant epistemic challenge to essentialist positions of the kind proposed by Saul Kripke and Hilary Putnam: under exactly which kinds of circumstance are we warranted in asserting that we have grasped the truth of an identity-statement of the requisite kind? In the absence of a clear and complete response to that epistemic challenge, the paper concludes that the Kripke-Putnam case remains not proven.

Gorgias the Sophist on not being. A Wittgensteinian Interpretation

Michael Bakaoukas


Provocative aphorisms of the most notable fifth century Sophist, Gorgias, such as «Nothing actually exists» or his realist tenet that «it is not speech (logos) that serves to reveal the external object, but the external object that proves to be explanatory of speech» have been subject to endless cycles of interpretation. I do not propose to offer here a full analysis of Gorgias' thought, but rather some new suggestions as to how to interpret Gorgias on the basis of how scholars have interpreted Gorgias. I shall put special emphasis on the analytical approaches to Gorgias' thought.

Privacy, Individuation, and Recognition

Michael Ming Yang


In this paper I examine Wittgenstein's private language argument and Ayer's counter argument. (1) I argue that the language-game approach is of transcendental character in the sense that it concerns the logical structure of human activity, which underlies concrete linguistic practices as well as operations of consciousness. Failure in recognizing this results in much confusion. (2) I demonstrate that the key issue concerning private language is not the problem of correctness of identification as commonly believed, but the social nature of individuation. (3) I conclude that there is no such primary recognition as Ayer assumed, and sensation can only be recognized through the network of human action. If one believes that sensation (assisted by memory) can be the sole basis upon which language and knowledge are maintained, then certain preference on privacy seems inevitable, and then skepticism as well seems unavoidable.