Saturday, March 31, 2007

Epistemic Norms and Natural Facts

I'm posting a new draft of my paper Epistemic Norms and Natural Facts, forthcoming in American Philosophical Quarterly. I am currently preparing a final version; any last-minute comments/corrections therefore very welcome. Speak now or forever ... publish embarassing refutations once the thing's in print.

Basically the paper presents, and points out some advantages of, a view which treats epistemic normativity in something like the way the Cornell realists treat ethical normativity.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Conditional Speech Acts

Indicative conditional questions seem to make good sense, and so do subjunctive conditional questions. For instance, (1) and (2) both look fine:

(1) If it has rained today, is the pavement wet?
(2) If it were to have rained today, would the pavement be wet?

But, although indicative conditional commands seem to make good sense, subjunctive conditional commands do not. For instance, (3) looks fine but (4) does not (and I'm not even sure how to formulate (4)):

(3) If it has rained today, go and tell the weather forecasters they got it wrong.
(4) If it were to have rained today, ???

Similarly for conditional requests:

(5) If it has rained today, please will you bring me an umbrella?
(6) If it were to have rained today, ???

And for conditional promises:

(7) If it has rained today, I promise it won't rain tomorrow.
(8) If it were to have rained today, ???

What's going on? And whatever it is, does it help us understand how ordinary indicative and counterfactual conditional statements are related?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Objective Language-Dependent Facts?

I'm currently preparing the final version of my book manuscipt and being puzzled anew by some passages in Stewart Shapiro's book Philosophy of Mathematics: Structure and Ontology. In particular, I've never seen - and still am not seeing - how to reconcile these claims:

(1) [A] structure is ... determined ... by the relations among the places. ... [T]he correct use of the language determines what the relations are. (p. 137, emphases in the original)
(2) Through successful language use, we structure the objective subject matter. (p. 137)
(3) [T]he way the universe is divided into structures and objects - of all kinds - depends on our linguistic resources. (p. 161)

with this one:

(4) The natural-number structure has objective existence and facts about it are not of our making. (p. 137)

If anyone knows of a charitable interpretation, I would be very interested to hear it.