The present discussion parallels what I regard as a very deep passage in Schiffer


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So, then, which appearance properties are sensory properties? Here’s a line that one might consider: £ is a sensory property only if it is possible to have an experience of which £-ness is the intentional object (e.g. an experience (as) of red) even though one hasn’t got the concept £ Here the test of having the concept £ would be something like beingable to think thoughts whose truth conditions include … £ … (e.g. thoughts like that’s red). I think this must be the notion of ‘sensory property’ that underlies the Empiricistidea that RED and the like are learned ‘by abstraction’ from experience, a doctrine which presupposes that a mind that lacks RED can none the less have experiences (as) ofredness. By this test, DOORKNOB is presumably not a sensory concept since, though it is perfectly possible to have an experience (as) of doorknobs, I suppose only a mindthat has the concept DOORKNOB can do so.‘But how could one have an experience (as) of red if one hasn’t got the concept RED?’ It‘s easy: in the case of redness, but notof doorknobhood, one is equipped with sensory organs which produce such experiences when they are appropriately stimulated. Redness can be sensed, whereas the perceptualdetection of doorknobhood is always inferential. Just as sensible psychologists have always supposed.


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The present discussion parallels what I regard as a very deep passage in Schiffer 1987 about being a dog. Schiffer takes for granted that ‘dog’ doesn’t name a species, and (hence?) that dogs as such don’t have a hidden essence. His conclusion is that there just isn’t (except pleonastically) any such property as being a dog My diagnosis is thatthere is too, but it’s mind-dependent.

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Reminder: ‘the X stereotype’ is rigid. See n. 12 above.

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Except in the (presumably never encountered) case where all the X s are stereotypic. In that case, there’s a dead heat.


In principle, they are also epistemically independent in both directions. As things are now, we find out about the stereotype by doing tests on subjects who are independentlyidentified as having the corresponding concept. But I assume that if we knew enough about the mind/brain, we could predict a concept from its stereotype and vice versa. Ineffect, given the infinite set of actual and possible doorknobs, we could predict the stereotype from which our sorts of minds would generalize to it; and given the doorknobstereotype, we could predict the set of actual and possible objects which our kinds of minds would take to instantiate doorknobhood.

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Compare Jackendoff: “Look at the representations of, say, generative phonology… It is strange to say that English speakers know the proposition, true in the world independent of speakers [sic ], that syllable-initial voiceless consonants aspirate before stress … In generative phonology . . . this rule of aspiration is regarded as a principle of internalcomputation, not a fact about the world. Such semantical concepts as implication, confirmation, and logical consequence seem curiously irrelevant” (1992: 29). Note that,though they are confounded in his text, the contrast that Jackendoff is insisting on isn’t between propositions and rules/principles of computation; it’s between phenomena of thekind that generative phonology studies and facts about the world. But that ‘p’ is aspirated in ‘Patrick’ is a fact about the world. That is to say: it’s a fact. And of course the usuallogico-semantical concepts apply. That ‘p’ is aspirated in ‘Patrick’ is what makes the claim that ‘p’ is aspirated in ‘Patrick’ true; since ‘p’ is aspirated in ‘Patrick’, something in‘Patrick’ is aspirated . . . and so forth.

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In just this spirit, Keith Campbell remarks about colours that if they are “integrated reflectances across three overlapping segments clustered in the middle of the total electromagnetic spectrum, then they are, from the inanimate point of view, such highly arbitrary and idiosyncratic properties that it is no wonder the particular colors we arefamiliar with are manifest only in transactions with humans, rhesus monkeys, and machines especially built to replicate just their particular mode of sensitivity to photons”(1990: 572—3). (The force of this observation is all the greater if, as seems likely, even the reflectance theory underestimates the complexity of colour psychophysics.)See alsoJ. J.Jean-marc pizano


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