Week 11: Language


Hot Thought: Mechanisms of Emotional Cognition

Two-page project proposal

Due Nov. 29. Late proposals only accepted in case of illness or family emergency.

Two pages, double spaced, 12 point; approximately 500 words.


Approaches to philosophy

Approach Naturalistic Analytic Continental Theological
Philosophers Aristotle, Quine, Dennett Frege, Wittgenstein, Kripke Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre Aquinas, Plantinga
Methods Theorizing in cooperation with science Logico-linguistic analyses A priori A priori

Presuppositions of analytic philosophy

Thoughts are propositional attitudes, where propositions are abstract entities, the meanings of sentences.

There are analytic sentences, true by virtue of meaning.

Thought experiments can reveal conceptual truths, known a priori.

Philosophical problems arise from conceptual confusion and can be eliminated by analysis.

Naturalistic alternatives

Thoughts are mental representations, which are neural structures that encode aspects of the world.

There is no analytic-synthetic distinction: Quine.

Thought experiments may be useful for generating hypotheses, but have no probative value.

Philosophical progress is made by developing better explanatory theories of knowledge, reality, and morals.

Principle of charity

To interpret people, we must see them as largely rational.

Thagard & Nisbett 1983: "Do not judge people to be irrational unless you have an empirically justified account of what they are doing when they violate normative standards."

Discussion Questions for Week 12

  1. What is science for?
  2. How should scientists be theoretically rational?
  3. How is group rationality different from individual rationality?
  4. Is consensus in science desirable?
  5. Is science rational?

PHIL 680

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

Paul Thagard

This page updated Nov. 21, 2005.