Friday, August 18, 2017

New Paper: The Frontloading Argument

Forthcoming in Philosophical Studies.
Maybe the most important argument in David Chalmers's monumental book Constructing the World is the one he calls the 'Frontloading Argument', which is used in Chapter 4 to argue for the book's central thesis, A Priori Scrutability. And, at first blush, the Frontloading Argument looks very strong. I argue here, however, that it is incapable of securing the conclusion it is meant to establish. My interest is not in the conclusion for which Chalmers is arguing. As it happens, I am skeptical about A Priori Scrutability. Indeed, my views about the a priori are closer to Quine's than to Chalmers's. But my goal here is not to argue for any substantive conclusion but just for a dialectical one: Despite its initial appeal, the Frontloading Argument fails as an argument for A Priori Scrutability.
You can find the paper here.

New Paper: Speaker's Reference, Semantic Reference, and Intuition

Forthcoming in The Review of Philosophy and Psychology.
Some years ago, Machery, Mallon, Nichols, and Stich reported the results of experiments that reveal, they claim, cross-cultural differences in speakers' `intuitions' about Kripke's famous Gödel-Schmidt case. Several authors have suggested, however, that the question they asked they subjects is ambiguous between speaker's reference and semantic reference. Machery and colleagues have since made a number of replies. It is argued here that these are ineffective. The larger lesson, however, concerns the role that first-order philosophy should, and more importantly should not, play in the design of such experiments and in the evaluation of their results.
You can find the paper here.