[quickphilosophy] Re: Fodor on Concepts IV: Circularity + Peacocke

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 06 Oct 2010 13:34:21 -0000

Thanks.

W

--- In quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Ron Allen <wavelets@...> wrote:
>
> Hi Walter:
>  
> Thanks & I can see that I wasn't very clear on my counterargument point (f). 
>  
> What I think is going on is that in some way Peacocke is trying to show that 
> an experimental Subject has a concept CONJUNCTION (C). Now, Fodor does not 
> properly pursue Peacocke's proposed schema, but that is a side issue at this 
> step. So, since P is trying to show that S has C, F can't come back and say, 
> aha, S has C. That's what P claims. 
>  
> So F has to say that (f.1) P has to assume that S has C in order to show S 
> has C, or that (f.2) P has to assume S has another equivalent C' (in another 
> language) which is the basis for S being compelled by the form of the schema. 
> I don't see where Fodor actually states (f.1), and I don't see where Peacocke 
> actually assumes that the subject has the concept of CONJUNCTION. What I see 
> is a time and space conjunction of the inferences that the subject has to 
> make, and this means that Peacocke has the concept of conjunction, 
> but that's OK, and it's not a circularity. What Peacocke wants to show is 
> that the conjunction of these inference problems compels the subject to 
> assent to the conclusion in each case. Then, Peacocke conjoins this result in 
> his mind and asserts that the conjunction of these behaviors on the part of 
> the subject shows that the subject possesses the concept CONJUNCTION. What 
> Fodor seems to say is more along the lines of (f.2)--that there
>  is another concept C' at work.
>  
> Anyway, as I read further, it seems that the best argument Fodor has is to 
> hack away at the idea of primitive compulsion according to form. This could 
> be pretty hard for Peacocke to formulate in a positive way.
>  
> Also, it seems to me that the Noun Phrase conjunction that Fodor used against 
> Peacocke could actually be formulated in a way, like schema (I), that does 
> not use 'and'. In that case, Peacocke's style of inference schema holds for 
> the propositional conjunction case (I) and for the NP conjunction style of 
> "John swims and Mary swims", etc.
>  
> Thanks!
> --Ron
> 
> --- On Tue, 10/5/10, walto <calhorn@...> wrote:
> 
> 
> From: walto <calhorn@...>
> Subject: [quickphilosophy] Re: Fodor on Concepts IV: Circularity + Peacocke
> To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Date: Tuesday, October 5, 2010, 6:20 AM
> 
> 
>   
> 
> 
> 
> Thanks, Ron. That was very helpful. The distinction you make regarding noun 
> phrase conjunction is very telling against Fodor, it seems to me. That's a 
> great point.
> 
> I wonder if you could explain your (f) a little more, though. I thought Fodor 
> was claiming that in order to make the inferences Peacocke talks about one 
> had to already have the very same concept that is supposed to be explicated 
> by these inferences. Why do you think Fodor is claiming one has to have some 
> OTHER concept here?
> 
> W
> 
> --- In quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Ron Allen <wavelets@> wrote:
> >
> > Hello once more QPers:
> > It seems by the end of the 1st paragraph beginning on p. 44 of his article 
> > that Fodor has absolved Peacocke of the crime of circular reasoning. But, 
> > then Fodor reflects on the situation again and renews his argument that 
> > Peacocke argues in a circle when he gives the rules of inference sufficient 
> > for the CONJUNCTION concept in schema (I) (below, and on p. 41 of Fodor's 
> > article.
> > Fodor's renewed argument goes like this:
> > 1. Consider the sentence 'if John swims and Mary swims, then John and Mary 
> > swim'
> > 2. This expresses the kind of thought the subject must find "primitively 
> > compelling" (in Peacocke's words) in order to possess the concept of 
> > CONJUNCTION.
> > 3. English speakers can only be primitively compelled by this because they 
> > know that the word 'and' in the antecedent of (1) expresses conjunction.
> > 4. It's only because English speakers know that 'and' expresses conjunction 
> > that they are compelled by arguments you get by substituting 'and' for 'C' 
> > in schema (I).
> > 5. Thus, Peacocke's possession criterion requires that the subject already 
> > possess some other representation that expresses CONJUNCTION.
> > 6. But, then the subject already possesses CONJUNCTION as a concept.
> > 7. So, Peacocke is arguing in a circle.
> > There are a number of problems with Fodor's argument here:
> > (a) The sentence in (1) is not of the form of Peacocke's schema (I), which 
> > lays out the inference pattern required for CONJUNCTION without using 'and' 
> > at all.
> > (b) The inference that Fodor says the subject must make in fact is not the 
> > conjunction of propositions, but another proposition involving Noun Phrase 
> > conjunction, which is not of the form that Peacocke specifies, and which 
> > only a speaker of the natural language would be able to enunciate. Fodor 
> > seems to recognize that his argument is a strawman and has a little 
> > footnote at the bottom of p. 44 that says that he's only trying to "ease 
> > the exposition", but it's a grand leap to get from Peacocke's schema (I) to 
> > NP conjuction-containing sentences derived from a pair of conjoined 
> > propositions.
> > (c) Indeed, Fodor's schema in general does not work, because its proper 
> > application depends upon a knowledge of English semantics, which Peacocke's 
> > schema (I) does not. For example, if I take "John is a single person and 
> > Mary is a single person" and then by NP conjunction derive "John and Mary 
> > is a single person", then, well, that's wrong.� 
> > (d) Fodor again argues by a single example in order to prove a general 
> > point. Plato does this in order to present Socrates making a bad argument 
> > and draw the reader into the thinking process. But that's a different form 
> > of philosophical exposition.
> > (e) Point (4) above is also false. English speakers could be compelled not 
> > by the form of Fodor's false version of Peacocke's schema (I), because they 
> > could be compelled by the semantics and because they may have learned this 
> > restatement of the antecedent by rote.
> > (f) Point (5) does not follow. Peacocke wants to show that a subject 
> > possesses a concept of CONJUNCTION. But Fodor is claiming that the subject 
> > possesses another concept, one other than the one that the primitive 
> > compulsion is revealing. This appears to be a terrible blunder on Fodor's 
> > part.
> > (g) Well, maybe you see my point.
> > I've arrived at the last paragraph beginning on p. 44. Phew.
> > Thanks!--Ron
> > 
> > --- On Fri, 10/1/10, Ron Allen <wavelets@> wrote:
> > 
> > From: Ron Allen <wavelets@>
> > Subject: Re: [quickphilosophy] Fodor on Concepts IV: Circularity + Peacocke
> > To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > Date: Friday, October 1, 2010, 11:22 AM
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > � 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > As a pole around which to argue about types of circular reasoning, Fodor 
> > introduces another rule (R) in his polemic against Peacocke:
> > � 
> > (R) the inference to 'p and q' is valid iff p and q are both true
> > � 
> > Now, this appears to be circular, because the elucidation of what 'p and q' 
> > should mean relies on an instance of "and". Fodor goes on to say that 
> > there's basically (almost) nothing wrong with this, because the second 
> > instance of 'and' is a metalanguage element. In fact, Fodor says that as 
> > long as this is a theory of the content of AND, it's all right to rely on 
> > an instance of AND in the metalanguage. But, to be precise, Fodor argues, 
> > it's not OK for a theory about how AND is learned to presuppose a language 
> > with the concept of conjuction already present. This would be a circular 
> > argument.
> > � 
> > I'm at the middle of p. 43 right now. Gotta go get some Thai food for 
> > lunch. Back in a bit.
> > � 
> > --Ron
> > � 
> > 
> > --- On Fri, 10/1/10, Ron Allen <wavelets@> wrote:
> > 
> > 
> > From: Ron Allen <wavelets@>
> > Subject: Re: [quickphilosophy] Fodor on Concepts IV: Circularity + Peacocke
> > To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > Date: Friday, October 1, 2010, 9:49 AM
> > 
> > 
> > �  
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > Hi quick group:
> > � 
> > I'm still digging my way through Section 3.3 of Fodor's article 'Having 
> > Concepts'. In the last paragraph beginning on p. 41, Fodor claims that 
> > Peacocke (A Study of Concepts, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996) commits an 
> > equivocation in formulating the concept possession condition for the 
> > implicit definition theory. 
> > � 
> > Peacocke says that someone has to follow the CONJUNCTION scheme (below, in 
> > point 2. of my earlier post; it's on p. 41 of Fodor's article, where it's 
> > labeled (I)) by virtue of its form alone. So Fodor says, well, does that 
> > mean that the form is causally sufficient for the subject of Peacocke's 
> > experiment to find them compelling? or, if not, then is that the reason 
> > that the subject has for being compelled?
> > � 
> > It seems to me, though, that this is a false dichotomy. If the form isn't 
> > causally sufficient, then something else is required for the cause; it 
> > doesn't mean that the form of the schema is the reason for the subject's 
> > compulsion. All Peacocke wants out of this is to say that, whatever the 
> > motivation or impetus for the subject to assent to the schema, it's the 
> > forms themselves, and not some external factor, like whether the subject 
> > agrees with� or approves of the propositions p and q in the claim pCq, 
> > that� result in� the subject's demonstrating facility with the schema. 
> > The subject doesn't have to have a reason; she only has to follow the 
> > pattern of the implicit definition. And, the cause for the subject's 
> > performance would probably include something besides the form of the 
> > schema, such as knowledge of the word 'C' in her language, willingness 
> > to� play the game and assent or dissent, and so forth. But,� again, 
> > Peacocke doesn't
> > need to define� causal sufficiency for the subject's performance; he 
> > only� wants to show that this performance, if it can be demonstrated, 
> > whatever its cause, is sufficient to indicate possession of the concept 
> > CONJUNCTION.
> > � 
> > So, this little paragraph does not, by my lights, do much damage to 
> > Peacocke's exposition.
> > � 
> > Thanks for your patience!
> > --Ron� 
> > 
> > --- On Thu, 9/30/10, Ron Allen <wavelets@> wrote:
> > 
> > 
> > From: Ron Allen <wavelets@>
> > Subject: Re: [quickphilosophy] Fodor on Concepts IV: Circularity + Peacocke
> > To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > Date: Thursday, September 30, 2010, 10:36 AM
> > 
> > 
> > �  
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > Hi qp group:
> > � 
> > Ah, it seems that my first post on this topic did make it to the list, but 
> > my spam filter directed my email copy to the Spam folder. It protected me 
> > from spamming myself. I feel so much safer now.
> > � 
> > Anyway, Fodor's target now is two camps that are fellow-travelers of the 
> > BCP crowd: the conceptual role group (Boghossian) and the implicit 
> > definition group (Peacocke). It seems to me that BCP is more limited in its 
> > claims that these other thinkers. In other words, you can sort and make 
> > inferences without necessarily having a set of rules for conceptual roles 
> > or an implicit definition. So Fodor seems to be attacking those that go a 
> > step beyond plain vanilla BCP.
> > � 
> > Also, it would seem to me that Boghossian would have to support BCP's 
> > conditions for concept possession. If you were sophisticated enough to 
> > follow a set of rules for expressions, then you'd be able to distinguish 
> > items in the extension (sorting), and you'd be able to make inferences 
> > (which is just to follow the rules in various situations). Similarly, 
> > holding an implicit definition would imply being able to sort and being 
> > able to infer.
> > � 
> > The upshot is that Fodor could damage conceptual role semantics and could 
> > flummox implicit definiton and yet leave vanilla BCP unscathed.
> > � 
> > Where does Fodor's attack begin? First he observes that conceptual role 
> > semantics cannot be simply asserting that it's possible to provide rules. 
> > That's easy enough to do in the case of referring expressions, like 
> > 'bachelor'. What could be dicey for conceptual role advocates to claim is 
> > that grasping a concept is to be identified with grasping the rules for the 
> > introduction and elimination of the concept, as in the case of CONJUNCTION 
> > given in the last post.
> > � 
> > (The introduction of CONJUNCTION just means that you� are given p and q 
> > and you deduce� pCq, introducing the C-symbol. Elimination means that you 
> > are given pCq, and from that you infer p (eliminating the C-symbol) or q 
> > (no C again).)
> > � 
> > Fodor states that in the case of the logical constants, that's what 
> > conceptual role semantics has to do. In other words, Fodor is saying that 
> > in the case of their treatment of the logical constants, that conceptual 
> > role semantics merges with implicit definition concept possession. I think 
> > that's what he's saying in� the 3rd paragraph beginning on p. 41 of his 
> > article.
> > � 
> > Fodor is going to argue that the stronger claim to which� the conceptual 
> > role and implicit definition camps must commit--namely that introduction 
> > and elimination rules must be identified with concept possession, not just 
> > possible from concept possession--cannot be sustained.
> > � 
> > I hope this isn't too plodding. I find this part of Fodor's article 
> > difficult.
> > � 
> > Thanks!
> > --Ron� 
> > 
> > --- On Wed, 9/29/10, Ron Allen <wavelets@> wrote:
> > 
> > 
> > From: Ron Allen <wavelets@>
> > Subject: Re: [quickphilosophy] Fodor on Concepts IV: Circularity + Peacocke
> > To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2010, 6:45 AM
> > 
> > 
> > �  
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > Hi quickphilosophy group: 
> > 
> > 
> > I tried to post this last night, but it didn't stick for some reason. 
> > Probably my ISP at fault.� 
> > 
> > 
> > Fodor has another argument in Section 3.3 of his paper 'Having Concepts' 
> > that argues against 'conceptual role' semantics and the idea of an implicit 
> > definition as the basis for concept possession.� 
> > 
> > 
> > 1. Conceptual role semantics assigns rules to expressions that govern their 
> > use. There might be rules for referring expressions, such as 'flywheel', 
> > but the best examples are of logical constants, such as AND and OR, because 
> > these don't seem to have referents, and the only way to explain how they 
> > are used is to specify use rules. An example of a conceptual role 
> > semanticist is Paul Boghossian, whose forthcoming paper Fodor cites. (Fodor 
> > writes in 2004, and Prof. Boghossian's paper appeared in Nous in Aug 1996; 
> > here's a link to a draft on his NYU 
> > homepage:� http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/faculty/boghossian/papers/AnalyticityReconsidered.html).
> > He says that "Implicit definition:� It is by arbitrarily stipulating that 
> > certain sentences of logic are to be true, or that certain inferences are 
> > to be valid, that we attach a meaning to the logical constants. More 
> > specifically, a particular constant means that logical object, if any, 
> > which makes valid a specified set of sentences and/or inferences involving 
> > it."
> > 
> > 
> > 2. The implicit definition camp is also represented by Christopher 
> > Peacocke, (A Study of Concepts, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996). Peacocke 
> > says that "Conjunction is that concept C to posess which a thinker must 
> > find transitions that are instances of the following forms primitively 
> > compelling, and must do so because they are of these forms:
> > 
> > 
> > p
> > q �  �  � pCq �  �  � pCq
> > --- �  �  ----- �  �  � ------
> > pCq � p �  �  �  �  � q �  �  � "
> > 
> > 
> > (I hope that format aligns well in the group's page.) This is on p. 6 of 
> > Peacocke's book. Fodor inserts "[inferential]" before "transitions" in the 
> > quote above. So, basically, you possess the concept of CONJUNCTION if and 
> > only if you're compelled by these transitions, which define the notion of 
> > logical AND.
> > 
> > 
> > Let me see if this reply sticks.
> > 
> > 
> > Thanks!
> > --Ron
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > --- On Mon, 9/13/10, Ron Allen <wavelets@> wrote:
> > 
> > 
> > From: Ron Allen <wavelets@>
> > Subject: Re: [quickphilosophy] Fodor on Concepts IV: Circularity
> > To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > Date: Monday, September 13, 2010, 10:47 PM
> > 
> > 
> > �  
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > Hi kwikphil group: 
> > 
> > 
> > Just to recapitulate: Fodor finds in section 3.3 of his paper 'Having 
> > Concepts,' that there is a vicious circle in the BCP analysis of concept 
> > possession. The sorting criterion (one of two, the other being inferential 
> > skill) that is partly sufficient for concept possession depends on the 
> > notion of the concept possessor possessing the same or an equivalent 
> > concept in order to perform the sorting. So, attempting to explain concept 
> > possession in terms of sorting and inference relies on (by way of the first 
> > condition, sorting) a notion of concept possession already, and the concept 
> > in question is the same or conceptually the same ans the one that BCP hopes 
> > to analyze. Circular, and viciously so at that.
> > 
> > 
> > But Fodor goes on to remark (p. 40) that this has irked many philosophers, 
> > and Wittgenstein is one of them. Here is how Fodor reviews W's difficulties 
> > in being a sophisticated BCP advocate, beset by the burden of the 
> > circularity that Fodor is gesturing at:
> > 
> > 
> > 1. For W, having a concept involves knowing a criterion for applying a 
> > concept.
> > 
> > 
> > [rla, insert] Note that a "criterion" for Wittgenstein is a problematic and 
> > plastic term. I think that Baker and Hacker comment upon this, and that 
> > along with Fodor, we need to be cautious in throwing the concept around.
> > 
> > 
> > 2. Thus, minimally, one can apply the concept in good instances in 
> > favorable conditions.
> > 
> > 
> > 3. Second for W, the application criteria for a concept are constitutive of 
> > its content.
> > 
> > 
> > [rla] PI.208 seems to say this.
> > 
> > 
> > 4. Fodor picks an example again: PAIN. The criteria for its 2nd person 
> > application are behavioral.
> > 
> > 
> > 5. To have the PAIN concept is to sort pains from non-pains [and (rla) to 
> > make inferences; BCP isn't asserting that sorting alone suffices] by 
> > behavioral manifestations.
> > 
> > 
> > 6. But, the PAIN concept isn't the same as the 
> > BEHAVIOR-MANIFESTATION-OF-PAIN concept.
> > 
> > 
> > 7. A good instance of the behavioral manifestation an instance of pain, or 
> > not?
> > 
> > 
> > 8. Fodor does not think so, and he thinks that W should be confounded by 
> > this as well: No wonder that W said things like "pain isn't a something" 
> > but "it isn't a nothing either".
> > 
> > 
> > [rla: this is Philosophical Investigations 304].
> > 
> > 
> > 9. In summary, Fodor claims that "...either there is no sorting condition 
> > on concept possession or, if you prefer, the sorting condition that there 
> > is is circular." He has also convicted Wittgenstein, a bona fide 
> > sophisticated BCPer, along with the hapless and crude BCP advocates 
> > (Skinner and Quine), of the charge of circular reasoning.
> > 
> > 
> > Next on the menu, Fodor is going to find vicious circularity within the 
> > inference condition that BCP asserts for concept possession. I'll cover 
> > this in the next few posts. Mostly, it's an attack on the theory of 
> > concepts that Peacocke advances in A Study of Concepts, MIT Press, 1992.
> > 
> > 
> > Thanks!
> > --Ron
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > --- On Mon, 9/13/10, wavelets@ <wavelets@> wrote:
> > 
> > 
> > From: wavelets@ <wavelets@>
> > Subject: [quickphilosophy] Fodor on Concepts IV: Circularity
> > To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > Date: Monday, September 13, 2010, 11:46 AM
> > 
> > 
> > �  
> > 
> > Hi quickphilosophers:
> > 
> > Fodor claims that neither of the conditions that Bare-Bones Concept 
> > Pragmatism (BCP) finds to be jointly sufficient for concept possession, 
> > sorting and inference, can be formulated without a vicious circularity.
> > 
> > Beginning with the sorting criterion in Section 3.3 of his article 'Having 
> > Concepts,' Fodor worries about the extension of a sort. He proceeds by 
> > example. 
> > 
> > 1. Consider someone that can sort DOGs according to the concept of a 
> > BARKER. This sort works as long as the only things that bark are DOGs and 
> > all DOGs bark. 
> > 
> > 2. So, for the sort to be a criterion for concept possession, it seems that 
> > sort must be successful in counterfactual conditions: the sort must work 
> > for cases of barking non-dogs, canine non-barkers, and so on.
> > 
> > 3. Yet, it seems that even under counterfactual conditions, the extension 
> > that results from a sort does not determine the concept that motivates the 
> > sort.
> > 
> > 4. To
> > show this, Fodor offers more examples: (a) TRIANGLE and CLOSED-TRILATERAL, 
> > (b) TWO and EVEN-PRIME, and (c) WATER and H2O. 
> > 
> > 5. You can have the first of these concepts, without having the second.
> > 
> > 6. Thus, the necessary coextension of two sorts does not imply that the 
> > sorts reveal the same concept.
> > 
> > 7. One must sort according to some concept that one has.
> > 
> > 8. BCP must therefore claim that only sorts according to a conceptually 
> > equivalent concept can produce the same sort.
> > 
> > 9. So BCP must claim that the sorting condition for a concept possession C 
> > presupposed some possessed concept C' that is either identical to C or 
> > conceptually equivalent to C.
> > 
> > 10. This is a vicious circle. 
> > 
> > Fodor goes on to comment on how Wittgenstein attempted to deal with this 
> > circularity. I'll cover that in my next post.
> > 
> > Thanks!
> > --Ron
> >
>


Other related posts: