Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy


Reading Rosenzweig’s Little Book

Issue: Issue 2 • Author/s: Hilary Putnam
Topics: Philosophy of religion, Theoretical philosophy

In this article the author addresses the issues that Franz Rosenzweig raises in his Büchlein as they affect the former’s own very personal manifestation of Judaism. The article therefore covers not only the contents of the “little book”, but aims more generally to say something about aspects of Rosenzweig’s thought that the author finds problematic. The article begins by looking at three notions that are often used in connection with the sorts of issues Rosenzweig raises (atheism, religion, and spirituality), goes on to stress the importance of Rosenzweig’s “religious existentialism”,…

Quine, Naturalised Meaning and Empathy

Issue: Issue 3 • Author/s: Maria Baghramian
Topics: Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

Naturalism is the defining feature of the philosophy of Willard van Orman Quine. But there is little clarity in our understanding of naturalism and the role it plays in Quine’s work. The current paper explores one strand of Quine’s naturalist project, the strand that primarily deals with a naturalised account of language. I examine the role that Quine assigns to empathy as the starting point of the process of learning and translating a language and argue that empathy, when going beyond the automatic form of mirroring, has an irreducible normative…

True but Also Not True

Issue: Issue 3 • Author/s: Stefano Boscolo, Giulia Pravato
Topics: Meta-Philosophy, Theoretical philosophy

We present three ways of expressing a possible interpretative uncertainty of the truth predicate: ambiguity, context-sensitivity and semantic indeterminacy. Next, we examine Kölbel (2008)’s pluralist view that “true” is ambiguous between a substantialist concept and a deflationist concept, and that it is ambiguous as the word “dog” is between “male dog” and “canine”. Our main goal is to show that Kölbel’s thesis does not withstand empirical scrutiny in the sense that “true” fails most of the well-established tests for ambiguity (conjunction-reduction, contradiction, and ellipsis). In addition, we reformulate Kölbel’s thesis…

Literature and Practical Knowledge

Issue: Issue 3 • Author/s: Pascal Engel
Topics: Aesthetics, Meta-Philosophy, Theoretical philosophy

This article defends literary cognitivism, the view that literature can convey genuine propositional knowledge, in the form of propositions which are (i) true (ii) justified and (iii) have aesthetic value because they convey such knowledge. I reply to familiar objections to this view, and reformulate it as the thesis that literary knowledge is a form practical knowledge that is only derivatively propositional. I attempt to apply some ideas to be found in Stanley’s and Williamson’s conception of knowing how. Literary knowledge is a kind of practical knowing how of propositions…

Relativism, Faultlessness and Parity: Why We Should be Pluralists about Truth’s Normative Function

Issue: Issue 3 • Author/s: Filippo Ferrari
Topics: Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

Some philosophers, like Mark Richard and Paul Boghossian, have argued against relativism that it cannot account for the possibility of faultless disagreement. However, I will contend that the objections they moved against relativism do not target its ability to account for the possibility of faultless disagreement per se. Rather, they should be taken to challenge its capacity to account for another element of our folk conception of disagreement in certain areas of discourse—what Crispin Wright has dubbed parity. What parity demands is to account for the possibility of coherently appreciating,…

The Contemporary Relevance of Peirce’s Views on the Logic and Metaphysics of Relations

Issue: Issue 3 • Author/s: Claudine Tiercelin
Topics: History of Analytic Philosophy, Metaphysics, Theoretical philosophy

Independently of Frege or Russell, C.S. Peirce made major contributions to the history of the logic and metaphysics of relations. After presenting his metaphysical interpretation of relations and his emphasis on the reality and irreducibility of relations, the paper shows how Peirce’s views are tied to the dispositional realism he defends within a scientific realistic metaphysics, and why they are still relevant for assessing the logical and ontological status of relations, and insightful for the meta-physical agenda to pursue today.

Truth-theoretic Semantics and Its Limits [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 5 • Author/s: Kirk Ludwig
Topics: History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

This paper takes up some limitations of truth-theoretic semantics connected with the requirement that knowledge of a compositional meaning theory for a language put one in a position to understand any potential utterance in the language. I argue that associating entities, such as properties, relations, and propositions, with natural language expressions is neither necessary nor sufficient to meet this requirement. I develop an account of how a meaning theory may be formulated in terms of a body of knowledge about a recursive truth theory for a language. I consider two…

Davidson: Decision and Interpretation [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 5 • Author/s: Pol-Vincent Harnay, Pétronille Rème
Topics: History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of language, Philosophy of mind, Theoretical philosophy

Decision theory plays a central role in Davidson’s work. Based on the experimentations led in Stanford during the 1950s, it is possible to track down the origins and the foundations of the unified theory of thought, meaning and action. The‘wording effect’ and the omission of meanings undermine decision theory as a whole, hence the need to enlarge the basis of decision theory by integrating an interpretation theory that reflects mental holism more accurately.

Davidson on the Objectivity of Values and Reasons [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 5 • Author/s: Pascal Engel
Topics: Ethics, History of Analytic Philosophy, Moral Philosophy, Theoretical philosophy

Although he did not write on ethics, Davidson wrote a few papers on the objectivity of values. His argument rests on his holistic conception of interpretation of desires. I examine whether this argument can be sufficient for his objectivism about values. And supposing that the argument were correct, would it entail a form of realism about normativity and reasons? I argue that it falls short of giving us a genuine form of moral realism. My case will rest on an examination of Davidson’s conception of value in relation to what…

Norm and Failure in Mind and Meaning [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 5 • Author/s: Akeel Bilgrami
Topics: History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of language, Philosophy of mind, Theoretical philosophy

The paper first gives an argument for the Davidsonian thesis that norms constitute the human mind. Then it shows that that thesis is better formulated by Wittgenstein rather than by Davidson himself. And finally, it uses the Wittgensteinian formulation of the thesis to establish why Davidson was right to further claim that linguistic meaning was not normative despite the human mind being normatively constituted. Through this entire dialectic of the paper, the concept of failure is made central to the argument.
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