Academic Philosophy

Philosophy of Mind
Philosophy of Language

This little book does not, at first blush, look like a book on the philosophy of mind. It appears to be several essays about various topics.  Each essay can stand alone. Lewis was wrong.  Williamson's argument against the given was invalid. Gettier's distinction is, prima facie, meaningless.  Prosser is not talking about supervenience. Etcetera, and so on.   

Christine Ladd-Franklin said she was a solipsist, and was surprised that there were no others.

Once you agree with its various pieces, however, it does become a book about the philosophy of mind.  The strands tie together.  I don't wish to spoil the outcome.  But you probably don't want to be on the side of the people who don't believe in science, the people who are talking with contradictions, the people who are mismanaging their quantifiers, the people who are completely missing the point, and the people who believe in an uncountable number of donkeys.

  • Six Philosophic Essays in an Olde and Forgotten Style
  • Language:  An Overhaul of Linguistic Philosophy

The philosophy of language has taken a lot of twists and turns.  It would take a book to cover them all, and this is not such a book.  Instead, it is a book that starts afresh.  It starts from scratch.  It makes a few definitions, and it considers all imaginable languages.  The definitions are easy, and the results are elegant.  (They are easy if you are a mathematician.)

Once you understand the results, all the puzzles of linguistic philosophy melt away.  The most interesting puzzle in linguistic philosophy was most clearly and successfully apprehended by Saul Kripke.  He wrote a spectacular book called Naming and Necessity in 1970.  Quine had gotten something wrong about The Morning Star and The Evening Star in 1943, and it bothered Kripke terribly.  Odd as it may sound, linguistic philosophy was hung up on names.  We needed to understand them. A causal theory was attempted but, unfortuunately, it led us entirely in the wrong direction.

Kripke was concerned about using a description to fix a reference.  He noticed the modal properies had changed.  (He would. Wouldn't he?)  David Kaplan worried about it, too.  He coined an operator, Dthat, to accomplish this task.  A lot was swirling around rigidification.  It became the key problem of linguistic philosophy.

But if you don't have a definition of a sentence or a language, you are not really saying anything.  So it becomes terribly important to begin at the beginning and to spell it all out.  Then you'll see Kripke's names are a special case of a peculiar collection of sentences with obvious modal properties.  What's that, you say?

I can't tell you.  Can I?  Not until you have learned all the pre-requisites.  Once you do, however, I can tell you that when Kripke uses a description to fix a reference, he is creating an evident sentential overlay with hidden context.  I can say it is not such a surprise that you do not know what you mean, since you don't know what sentence you are saying.    I can dissolve various riddles.

Oh, it is terribly exciting!  I am sure you want to read it immediately.  If, as you come to its end, you begin to suspect you have just read another book about the philosophy of mind, well, you should probably trust your intuition in this regard. Academic philosophy never gets far from the philosophy of mind.  Over the years, various mistakes in the philosophy of language have reinforced various mistakes in the philosophy of mind.  There was a bit of a back and forth.

It is about time for an overhaul.  I hope you enjoy the book.

Language:  An Overhaul of Linguistic Philosophy                    336 pages, PDF format                 (Abridged, for the moment.)

Six Philosophic Essays in an Olde and Forgotten Style               102 pages, PDF format               (Abridged, for the moment.)