[quickphilosophy] Re: Fodor on Concepts I: The set-up

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2010 22:52:12 -0000

--- In quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "gabuddabout" <gabuddabout@...> wrote:
> Hi Walter,
> I want to respond a bit with the understanding that I'm no expert.
> > The crowning conclusion of Fodor's discussion of the pitfalls he
> > believes to have been produced by the mistaken view is an argument (but
> > not a very good one, I don't think) which he believes shows that
> > concept pragmatists are doomed to some sort of epistemological idealism.
> > The argument is this:
> > 
> > 1. Concept pragmatism makes concept possession an intrinsically
> > epistemic condition.
> > 
> > 2. If concept possession is intrinsically epistemic, then mental states
> > are intrinsically subject to epistemic evaluation.
> > 
> > 3. Whatever is intrinsically subject to epistemic evaluation implies the
> > possibility of an evaluator and may thus be said to be
> > interpretation-dependent.
> > 
> > 4. To be interpretation-dependent is akin to being mind-dependent.
> > 
> > 5. Therefore, the facts of psychology, unlike, say, the facts of geology
> > are mind-dependent.
> > 
> > For what it's worth, not only is there quite a bit of hand-waving
> > going on here, but nobody?whatever their view of the nature of
> > concept possession?would (or should) deny that the facts of
> > psychology are mind-dependent in some way that the facts of geology are
> > not in the first place.
> Yes and no.  Searle sees nothing wrong with having a scientific account of 
> ontological subjectivity that has nothing to do with epistemology.  For 
> Fodor's part, he sees nothing wrong with the idea that we might get a science 
> of psychology without epistemology either.
> My question is why you write that there is hand-waving when Fodor's argument 
> (as you put it above) seems crystal clear?

I don't think (2) actually follows from (1), I don't think it follows from 
something's being "subject to" epistemic evaluation that thing must be 
"interpretation dependent,"  and I don't think it's obvious that what is 
"interpretation dependent" must be "mind-dependent."  Finally, as indicated, I 
think many of the facts of psychology are in fact mind-dependent, anyhow.

>   (There is another little section, one that
> > I've skipped, that seems to me to have similar flaws:
> What flaws, though?

Can't remember exactly.  ("Quickphilosophy" isn't moving quickly enough for 
that!)  But my guess is that it required similar moves from from "subject to 
evaluation" to dependent-on-an-interpreter to "mind-dependent".

> > it's about
> > Quine and Wittgenstein on the social/interpersonal nature of concepts.)
> > Fortunately, these arguments are not terribly important to Fodor's
> > main goal, which isn't so much to prove that concept pragmatism is
> > dastardly, but that it's dead wrong.  In the next installment,
> > I'll outline his case for that claim.
> I think you are getting at his funny with Davidson:  It takes two to even 
> think of changing a light bulb.  Or scratch that--it is the notion of 
> sentences being the unit of meaning rather than concepts.  Fodor is 
> suggesting that the order of analysis should start with concepts rather than 
> whole sentences, or whole theories..  
> I'm going to look at more as time permits.
> Later,
> Budd

Thanks for your comments.


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