Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Post APA: Book Purchases

One highlight of APA division meetings is the book display/sale, where inordinately expensive texts are marked down to be merely ordinately expensive. In no particular order (or rather, in a particular order with no especially interesting organizational features), here are the books I picked up.

• Hume's Skeptical Crisis - Robert J. Fogelin
• Relativism and Monadic Truth - Herman Cappelen and John Hawthorne
• The Emergence of Probability (2nd ed.) - Ian Hacking
• Liberty Worth the Name - Gideon Yaffe
• Being For - Mark Schroeder
• Frege on Definitions - John Horty
• Agency and Deontic Logic - John Horty
• The Concept of Law (2nd ed.) - H.L.A. Hart
• Words and Thoughts - Robert J. Stainton
• Justification without Awareness - Michael Bergmann
• Relative Truth - Edited by Manuel García-Carpintero and Max Kölbel
• Saving Truth From Paradox - Hartry Field

(feel free to complain if I nabbed the only copy of a text you had your eye on)

As a side note, I will say that it seems like some presses are just much better about setting reasonable prices to begin with. For instance, I noticed that the actual list price of Mark Balaguer's new book from MIT press ("Free Will as an Open Scientific Problem") was competitive with (if not superior to) the discounted price of similar length monographs at the Oxford table. Since Oxford discounts 50% on the final day, that is a pretty substantive divergence in cost-to-grad-students-and-other-philosophers based on which press one goes with. Don't get me wrong, I love the books Oxford puts out (as my purchases above may well indicate), but maybe they should get some advice from other presses on how to keep costs down (and then, you know, pass the savings along to the consumer).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Upcoming Travel (and a terminological suggestion)

1. In a couple days I am heading to New York City for the Eastern APA. If anyone has suggestions of exciting looking sessions for me to check out, mention them in the comments.

2. I grew up in Chicago, so I always love an excuse to get back home, so I am also going to the Central APA in Chicago. I am also considering trying to attend the Epistemology shin-dig right before it.

3. A paper of mine was accepted to the upcoming Thomas Reid conference in Aberdeen and Glasgow in March. Those who are curious should feel free to read the abstract for my paper.

4. I already posted about this, but my paper "Toward a Less Confident Cognitivism" was accepted for the Pacific APA in San Francisco in March. The paper argues that Cognitivists about Intention can avoid the commitment that intending to do X involves believing that one will do X without sacrificing the explanatory power of their Cognitivist assumption.

5. I'd be really excited if, in casual conversation, philosophers started using the terms "semantricks" and "pragmagic" to suggest that some phil language shenanigans are going on with respect to a given view. Example uses: "You'd need some serious semantricks in order for that view to get the right truth-conditions." "Even though the semantic value of S is P, defenders of this view claim that an utterance of S pragmagically produces an assertion of Q."

Kit Fine's Denial of Compositionality

In "Semantic Relationism", Kit Fine proposes to solve Frege’s puzzle by including some irreducibly relational semantic facts. Fine argues that this approach permits him to maintain a) a directly referential semantics for proper names, b) the transparency of meaning, and c) semantic compositionality (of a sort). Fine thus takes his view to have a strong advantage over rival Millian proposals, which typically deny (b).

Fine presents the puzzle as the following inconsistent set of claims (concerning the sentences "Cicero = Cicero" and "Cicero = Tully"):
1a Cognitive Difference: The two identity sentences are cognitively different.
1b Cognitive Link: If the sentences are cognitively different, then they are semantically different.
2 Compositionality: If the sentences are semantically different, then the names “Cicero” and “Tully” are semantically different.
3 Referential Link: If the names “Cicero” and “Tully” are semantically different, they are referentially different.
4 Referential Identity: The names “Cicero” and “Tully” are not referentially different.

For some purposes, Fine collapses 1a and 1b into a single claim:
1 Semantic difference: The two identity sentences are semantically different.

Fine identifies the two major lines of response to this puzzle as the Referentialist response (which denies 1), and the Fregean response (which denies 3). Fine's own response can most naturally be understood as a denial of 2. Fine argues that the problem with Referentialism is the denial of 2, and that the problem with Fregeanism is the denial of 3. Consequently, Fine's view only has an advantage as a solution to Frege's puzzle over Fregeanism or to Referentialism if it avoids the denial of 1 and the denial of 3. However, in order to address all Frege puzzle cases, Fine will have to reject one of those two principles.