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Monday, January 17, 2011

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The distinction between 'categorical' or 'categorematic' terms and 'syncategorematic' ones is well-known, and is not to be confused with the distinction between 'queer' and 'straight' terms.

>>importantly, we have not been supplied with criteria for distinguishing queer from straight terms,

Straw man. I signalled clearly in the post that I was going to answer Peter's question in two parts. I have answered the first part. You are now asking about the second.

Straw man gets 7 point penalty I am afraid. Thus

Londonistas 7, Phoenicians 0.

Sorry about that :-(


EO,

Throughout our previous round I have asked you several central questions. Two of my questions were posted on Friday, December 31, 2010 at 10:37 AM and they were:

(Q1) Beyond the trivial instances (e.g., ‘or’) of syncategorematic terms, which other terms of a language refer in a way that entails ontological commitments and which do not?
(Q2) What are the considerations or criteria on the basis of which we decide how to draw the distinction between terms which refer in a way that entails ontological commitments and those which do not so refer or do not refer at all?

I am still waiting anxiously for you to answer both of these questions; questions which Bill raised once again in the present post.


I have also asked you to state what distinguishes "queer" from "straight" entities. To this last question you respond that

"What are queer entities? We can't say, because there are no such things, just as we can't say what kind of things ghosts are. But we can say what 'queer terms' are."

This response is a straightforward evasion:

First, how can we say of a given type of entity that no actual instances of that type exist unless we know at least something about what such entities are supposed to be? Suppose someone denies the existence of Unicorns. Unless they could tell what sort of entities Unicorns are supposed to be, how could they deny their existence. This is not the same as saying that denying the existence of something one must affirm its existence. We have dispensed with the later confusion a long time ago. This requirement is that in order to deny the existence of some kind of entity one must know what sort of entity one is denying.

Second, it is ludicrous to say that we can't tell what certain entities are just because they do not exist. Consider, a species of animals that are two-headed humans. Do they exist? No! Can we tell what sort of species are two-headed humans? Sure! These are exactly like humans except they have two heads. Simple! What is your problem here?

Third, I have given several arguments in our last exchange against your bizarre view that we discover what sort of entities exist by merely reflecting on language and determining what sort of terms refer. Could we have discovered that electrons exist by merely reflecting on language? What if the term electron was not part of language? Does ether exists? We certainly have the term 'ether' in our English vocabulary. And it seems to belong to the category of term that have a referential function. Does 'ether' refer? Does ether exists? I at least cannot tell by merely starring at the word 'ether'. Can you?

Fourth, the two Ockhamian principles you keep reciting are useless as they stand. As Bill pointed out, everyone agrees to the proposition that not every term in a language has a referential function, let alone refers. I have made this very point in our last exchange. Moreover, everyone also agrees to the second Ockhamiam addict not to multiply entities beyond necessity. Sure! Now the question is what entities are "beyond necessity". Did Ockham, either old or new, has a principled answer to this question. If so, I have not heard it.

EO,

I see you ignored my challenge to give examples of philosophers who think that every term refers. Betcha can't!

You are the one who is setting up straw men!

At least you didn't call us the Queers!

Peter>>I am still waiting anxiously for you to answer both of these questions

Hi Peter. Patience please. I gave the three criteria for distinguishing queer from straight terms in the two posts here:

http://ocham.blogspot.com/2011/01/ockhams-nominalism.html
http://ocham.blogspot.com/2011/01/queer-entities-and-supernatural.html

These are

(1) that the term is categorial (read ‘noun phrase’). This rules out trivial examples like ‘not’ and ‘the’.
(2) that a significant number of people think it does refer or denote. This addresses Bill’s objection about ‘net too wide’. The net is just wide enough to catch only the right sort of fish.
(3) that the reason these people think it refers is not based on mere empirical considerations. This rules out non-referring/denoting terms like ‘ghost’.
(4) that the term, in fact, does not refer or denote.

The next part of the question, which I haven’t answered yet, is what are the sub-criteria by which we address criterion (4)? How do we engage the people picked out by criteria (2) and (3), who will naturally challenge (4)? I will address this shortly. The reason I haven’t addressed it before is so we can be absolutely clear about the form of nominalism I am defending – namely the nominalism defended by Ockham in chapters 49-51 of the Summa Logicae, and throughout the whole section of that book where he discusses Aristotle’s theory of categories. (Ockham argues that the Aristotelian ten categories of being really reduces to two, and that we only really need substance and quality. In chapters 49-51 he is discussing relation, arguing that a relation is nothing absolute and distinct from the terms related, when suitably referred to).

Bill >>I see you ignored my challenge to give examples of philosophers who think that every term refers.

Since I don’t think that there are any philosophers who think that every term refers, I need to answer this. Ockham’s reference to ‘those who multiply entities according to the multiplicity of terms’ clearly has to be qualified by ‘unnecessarily’, but that is implicit in the principle known as “Ockham’s razor”.

Lupu >> I have given several arguments in our last exchange against your bizarre view that we discover what sort of entities exist by merely reflecting on language and determining what sort of terms refer. Could we have discovered that electrons exist by merely reflecting on language?

I have already addressed this here http://ocham.blogspot.com/2011/01/queer-entities-and-supernatural.html .

Lupu >> it is ludicrous to say that we can't tell what certain entities are just because they do not exist. Consider, a species of animals that are two-headed humans. Do they exist? No! Can we tell what sort of species are two-headed humans? Sure! These are exactly like humans except they have two heads. Simple! What is your problem here?

See the link I gave earlier http://www.logicmuseum.com/joyce/nominalism.htm . Especially beautiful is “ [Realists say] 'We proceed to things, we have no concern for terms.' Against them Master John Gerson said, 'While you proceed to things, neglecting terms, you fall into complete ignorance of things themselves.'

Bill asks for examples of philosophers who think that every term refers. I can't do that but I think I can come up with an example of what the Ockhams would see as an error of this type. The modern day Ockham will no doubt correct me if I'm wrong here.

Consider Bill's distinction between 'exists' and 'exists now' as given here. My contention is that this is a spurious distinction that derives by analogy, as it were, from a real distinction that can be found in most verbs. Let's take the present tense of 'to run' as expressed in 'Tom runs'. This is ambiguous between the present simple 'Tom runs habitually' and the present progressive 'Tom is running'. The present simple conveys the idea that there are intervals of time around the present moment in which Tom can be found in the act of running, as opposed to not running, eg, sleeping, sitting, etc. The present progressive conveys the idea that he is engaged in running at this instant. We can clarify our intended meaning as the present progressive by saying 'Tom runs now'. The 'now' makes a difference. Turning now to the verb 'to exist' we find that it has no present simple. It makes no sense to say that Tom exists habitually. For what would 'he' be during those intervals when 'he' was not existing? Hence the 'now' in 'Tom exists now' adds nothing. Perhaps in certain contexts it would emphasise Tom's present existence over his past existence, but that is not the issue here. And if 'now' adds nothing to 'Tom exists' there is no distinction to be drawn between 'Tom exists' and 'Tom exists now'. Yet there is a distinction between 'Tom runs' and 'Tom runs now'.

EO,

That helps somewhat. So, by your criteria, 'wisdom,' 'triangularity,' and indeed all abstract substantives are 'queer' terms.

David,

Excellent thoughtful comment. I agree that 'Tom runs,' 'Peter smokes,' and the like are ambiguous as between the present progressive and the present simple. But I don't agree that 'Tom is running' (present progressive) has exactly the same meaning as 'Tom runs now.' For suppose sedentary Tom took up running this January at age 40 to get in shape. We can then say that while Tom didn't run in the past, 'Tom runs now' meaning not that he is running at the time of the sentence's utterance, but that he is now in the habit of running.

Your point could be put this way: 'Tom runs' (simple) is consistent with Tom's not running at the time of utterance, whereas 'Tom exists' entails Tom's existing at the time of utterance.

That is a very interesting and plausible point, but I don't think it is true. Of course, we cannot say that Tom is in the habit of existing unless we are joking. But we can say that Tom exists at some times and not at others. If Tom was born in 1970, then at times prior to 1970 he did not exist and at times after 1970 he does exist. Tom exists (tenselessly) and Tom exists now and those are different claims. Socrates exists (tenselessly) in the way that Prospero does not exist (tenselessly). But Socrates does not exist now.

So I would distinguish between the habitual and the tenseless. Peter smokes habitually but he doesn't exist habitually. But he exists tenselessly and he exists now.


>>That helps somewhat. So, by your criteria, 'wisdom,' 'triangularity,' and indeed all abstract substantives are 'queer' terms.

Sort of. ‘Triangularity’ certainly satisfies the first three of the four criteria. 1. It is a categorial term, i.e. a noun phrase. 2. Some people think it has a reference (realists, say). 3. The reason they think it has a reference is not empirically based. Of course, both nominalists and realists think, on observational grounds, that some things are triangular, but that is not the reason they may disagree on whether ‘triangularity’ has a singular reference.

On the fourth criterion – that the term does not actually have a reference – I haven’t yet discussed this. We have to get away from the idea that nominalists as a class are distinguished by their view on particular items such as ‘triangularity’. Each case must be determined on its merits. There must be logical, semantic or linguistic reasons for holding that ‘triangularity’ does not have a singular reference, none of which I have even discussed here.

Note that I have a post here http://ocham.blogspot.com/2011/01/distinguishing-queer-from-straight.html which is the first of a series that go to the heart of your and Peter’s objection to this version of nominalism. My discussion so far has been merely a preliminary to the main argument. The reason I cried ‘straw man’ was that you were objecting to a preliminary to an argument as though it were the argument itself.

The main event starts now.

By the way, on your point in a later post (no comments enabled) about matter being the principle of individuation, you should have said ‘according to Aquinas’. Scotus has a series of powerful objections to this view. And Ockham famously objects to both Aquinas and Scotus. So this view has to be qualified.

Thank you, Bill. I'm interested in your notion of 'tenseless existence' which has come up on several occasions. Would it be fair to say that any verb can be viewed tenselessly? What would it mean to say that Tom runs (tenselessly)? But as we are departing somewhat from 'Nominalism' perhaps we could return to this another time.

I didn't need to say "according to Aquinas" since the post was obviously about Aquinas. Brevity is the soul of blog. Pith rules.

David,

I don't whether every verb has a tenseless use, but surely some do. Compare
1. Hume held that every idea derives from an impression.
2. Hume holds that every idea derives from an impression.

Hume is not now actually holding (maintaining, affirming) that such-and-such, and he is not now disposed to hold such-and-such. Still, (2) is perfectly acceptable English. (I ought to know, I'm an American! [grin])Now (2) is not a present-tensed sentence. So it is tenseless or untensed and the verb occurs tenselessly.

What would you say about
2. 2 plus 2 is 4?

Is that present-tensed?

David,

Another example:

Tom meets me at Waterloo Station tomorrow.

'Meets' must be tenseless on pain of incoherence, right?

Reverting to topic, I have a further argument for nominalistic semantics here http://ocham.blogspot.com/2011/01/meinongs-gambit.html

Warning to realists: contains infallible and irrefrageable arguments against their position.

>>Hume holds that every idea derives from an impression.

Back off-topic, and also reverting to another long-standing disagreement, how about

(*) In the Treatise, it says that every idea derives from an impression.

If we change this to “In the Treatise, it said that every idea derives from an impression” we would wrongly be implying that the text had changed, and that it was somehow different now. So we mean that in the Treatise it now says that etc. Therefore the sentence is present tense, and not tenseless. I argued this in a somewhat much earlier post http://ocham.blogspot.com/2010/08/impersonal-assertion.html, defending the idea of ‘impersonal assertion’. Surely we can say stuff like ‘

(**) The next sentence in Genesis says the earth was without form and void, and darkness over it.

No?

'Irrefragable' is the correct spelling. I looked at your 'Ockamization' of my triad, but I do not grant that it is equivalent to mine. For one thing, mine makes no mention of 'discussing.'

Going off-topic again, but I think there's an interesting connection. To take the easiest example first:

Tom meets me at Waterloo Station tomorrow.
Wrecking Crew is running in the 2.30 at Kempton.
I'd say this was straightforwardly future tense but expressed using the present simple or present progressive. The meaning is exactly that conveyed by the future simple 'will meet' or future continuous 'will be running'. We can also say 'Tom is to meet me tomorrow'. My guess is that we can use the present tense when we want to convey a present plan or intention. Compare with the non-intentional 'It rains tomorrow' or 'It is raining tomorrow', which sound wrong. We can also say 'Tom was meeting/to meet me tomorrow but has cried off' to convey a past intention that no longer holds. Contrast with 'It was raining tomorrow but ???' However, I can think of exceptions: 'High tide is at 18:00 tomorrow' is acceptable though it hardly makes sense to say 'High tide was at 18:00 tomorrow' (until I noticed the miss-print in the tide tables?) Perhaps the meaning of the former is 'High tide is expected at 18:00 tomorrow'. This brings back the intentionality.

I hope to say something about your other examples tomorrow.

>>I looked at your 'Ockamization' of my triad, but I do not grant that it is equivalent to mine. For one thing, mine makes no mention of 'discussing.'

I don’t see how that is relevant, but the easiest way to address hairsplitting is to concede absolutely everything to the hairsplitter. I change the example thus:

O1. The proposition ‘Bill is looking for a nonexistent thing’ can be true even when there are no nonexistent things.
O2. The proposition ‘Bill is looking for a nonexistent thing’ expresses a relation between two things.
O3. Every relation is such that if it obtains, all of its relata exist.

and here is your version.

W1. We sometimes think about the nonexistent.
W2. Intentionality is a relation between thinker and object of thought.
W3. Every relation R is such that, if R obtains,then all its relata exist.

What do you see as the significant difference? There is none in the third. My second does not mention intentionality, but I don’t see how that is relevant. There is a difference in the first, as I pointed out before. Your version of the first appears to allow the possibility of nonexistent things by use of ‘the nonexistent’, by analogy with ‘the unemployed’, and thus is bound to be contradictory.

The essence of an aporetic polyad is that any proper subset of statements (including the singleton set) should be consistent on their own, and only the whole set being inconsistent. Do you agree?

EO,

I will address here only your *logical* criterion for distinguishing “queer” terms from “straight” terms, including the “Jake” example in your “Distinguishing queer from straight”, posted January 9, 2011; in Beyond Necessity. I will only focus on the fourth criterion and your proposal as to how to prove on logical grounds that “queer terms”, unlike “straight terms”, do not refer.

Your proposal goes as follows:

“Take any proposition p containing a possibly queer occurrence of some term F. Construct a proposition q that uses the term to assert that there are F’s – preferably avoiding the use of ‘exists’ or its cognates, to prevent the realist from driving a wedge between ‘something’ and ‘some existing thing’. Then show, by logical analysis, that p does not entail q, i.e. it is possible that p is true but q false.”

1) You seem to offer here a sufficient condition for the failure of reference in terms of invalidity (if I understand you correctly). The condition goes as follows:

(C1) If a term ‘T’ can occur in a premise of an invalid argument such that the premise asserts that there are Ts, then the term fails to refer. (i.e., the occurrence of a term in an invalid inference is a sufficient condition for its referential failure.)

2) Counterexample to (C1): (the target term is ‘Planets’).

Argument (A):
(Ai) Some Planets rotate the Sun;
Therefore,
(Aii) NY is located in the USA.

Argument (A) is clearly invalid. Does it follow that the term ‘Planets’ fails to refer? No, it does not! But EO might object: “Well, you have to have the term ‘Planet’ in both premises and conclusion; o/w the argument is obviously invalid.” OK! Here is an argument that satisfies this requirement (which is not mentioned in the original statement of your proposal).

Argument (B)
(Bi) Some Planets rotate around the Sun;
Therefore,
(Bii) Some Planets are made out of cheese.

Argument (B) is invalid and the term ‘Planet’ occurs in both premise and conclusion. Still, the term ‘Planet’ refers. Therefore, (C1) cannot be a sufficient condition for the failure of reference. One can multiply such examples beyond necessity. But of course this should have been obvious without any examples at all. Validity and invalidity are properties of the logical form of sentences. As such they cannot be sufficient, or necessary, conditions for determining whether a given term refers, which is a relation between linguistic terms and the world.

3) What about the Jake Example. Here it is:

Argument C:
(Ci) Jake is looking for a gold mine in Surrey;
Therefore,
(Cii) Some gold mine is in Surrey.

About this example EO says:

“Even the most hardened realist will agree that the inference is not valid. For it is perfectly possible that the antecedent is true, and that Jake is looking for a gold mine in Surrey, but the consequent false – for there is no gold mine in Surrey, and so ‘some gold mine is in Surrey’ is false.”

Indeed: everyone, realists or not, agree that this *inference* is invalid. But this fact has nothing to do with reference. Even if there were a gold mine in Surrey and, hence, the phrase ‘gold mine in Surrey’ were a referential term, the *inference* would have still been invalid. Why? Because ‘looking for’ is construed here as an intensional context. And this just means that such inferences fail in intensional contexts.

4) Thus, I do not see how you offered a “logical” criterion that distinguishes referential from non-referential terms. And, thanks God for that, since of course that would entail that logic determines reference. But we know that this cannot be the case because that would entail also that what exists follows from logical laws, an idea that makes a sham out of both logic and that which exists.

Hi Bill,

I suggest that in

Hume holds that every idea derives from an impression,
'Hume' is metonymic for 'Hume's extant work' or 'Hume's Treatise' which, as EO says above (note present tense), has been unchangingly asserting this for 250 years. Two arguments for the metonymy:

a) If all Hume's works had been lost and his thought had to be reconstructed from scraps found in the writings of his contemporaries we would be much more likely to say 'Hume held...' referring to the man rather than the work.

b) Churchill reportedly remarked 'It is better to jaw-jaw than to war-war' at a White House lunch in 1954. As this doesn't figure in his written legacy we are more inclined to say 'Churchill held that it is better...' rather than 'Churchill holds that...'

We use the present tense to convey an ongoing unchanging state. The sun rose today, yesterday and every day before and will rise tomorrow and every day after. More concisely, the sun rises every day. This is a quantification over time and hence lies 'outside' time. I think this is the best justification that verbs can occur tenselessly. More here. Being necessary, '2+2=4' also seems out of time. Are identity claims meaningfully tensed?

Returning to 'tenseless existence', can we see this as a disjunction over tenses? 'Tom exists tenselessly' is equivalent to 'Tom is or Tom was'? And is this equivalent to the metalinguistic "'Tom' refers"?

EO,

You have promised to provide criteria for distinguishing “queer” from “straight” terms purely in terms of linguistic, logical, or semantic (henceforth, ‘LLS’) considerations. Your four criteria appear in your post dated Tuesday, January 18, 2011, @ 12:42am, Maverick Philosopher. They are as follows:

“(1) that the term is categorial (read ‘noun phrase’). This rules out trivial examples like ‘not’ and ‘the’.
(2) that a significant number of people think it does refer or denote. This addresses Bill’s objection about ‘net too wide’. The net is just wide enough to catch only the right sort of fish.
(3) that the reason these people think it refers is not based on mere empirical considerations. This rules out non-referring/denoting terms like ‘ghost’.
(4) that the term, in fact, does not refer or denote.”

I have criticized your fourth criterion in my most recent post.
While I am willing to grant that the first criterion qualifies as LLS, the second clearly does not. The fact that people think of some term that it refers (or does not) is an empirical question and has nothing to do with linguistic, logical, or semantic considerations.

Does the third criterion qualify as LLS? Here is what you say about this criterion in your blog “Beyond Necessity” posted Friday, January 14, 2011:

“Thus, the third characteristic of a ‘queer term’ is that the reason for believing that it refers must not consist of observable or empirical evidence. The reason must consist of a text that has no reference to the world except the use of abstract terminology.”

Clearly, this description of your third criterion cannot be a purely LLS. First, the notions of “observation” or “empirical evidence” are epistemic and not purely linguistic, logical, or semantical. Second, the third criterion is about the reasons people have for believing that a term refers. But the question of what reasons people have to believe whether a term refers or not is again not a matter belonging to LLS. Third, whether or not it is true that the reason people have for believing that a term refers has to do with the nature of some text or other is once again not a matter of pure linguistic, logic, or semantics (i.e., LLS). Therefore, your third criterion is also not a purely LLS.

Conclusion: from the four criteria you offer for distinguishing between “queer” vs. “straight” terms only two qualify as pure LLS (first and fourth). The other two criteria (second and third) clearly do not qualify as LLS. And from the two criteria that do quality, one (the fourth criterion) is obviously inadequate, as I have shown in my previous post. I must, therefore, conclude that you either have completely failed to explicate your version of Nominalism or else your version of Nominalism is a hopelessly inadequate position.

Peter: the LLS criterion was only intended to characterise my fourth claim. The Ockhamist must establish that the term does not refer by LLS means only. The other criteria 1-3 are reasonably clear to me.

On (2), this is a purely sociological observation. In the 13th century, there was a vigorous debate about whether syncategoremata refer, so the net was much wider in those days. Later, the first great victory for the nominalists was to persuade the majority of philosophers that syncategoremata do not refer, and the net narrowed.

Peter: on your objection to criterion (4) that you give above, I reply as follows. To your first point about validity, I reply that the argument is directed to someone arguing that

(*) Jake is looking for a gold mine in Surrey, therefore some gold mine is Surrey

is valid. Surely that was obvious (OK obviously it wasn't). The whole context of the debate is whether the existence of a 'grammatical accusative' of verbs like 'looking for' justifies the existence of a 'logical accusative' - an Meinongian or intensional object. In your second point you agree that this inference is invalid (it is an 'intentional' context). So we agree. And presumably you agree that its invalidity is a logical consideration only. So we are agreed on all points!

You say "But this fact has nothing to do with reference. " Of course it does. It shows that the expression 'intentional object' has no reference. Where 'intentional object' is defined to mean something satisfying a predicate such as "Jake is looking for an -- and nothing is an --".

EO,

I really do not understand your points in your last reply post.

I) You say:

"Peter: on your objection to criterion (4) that you give above, I reply as follows. To your first point about validity, I reply that the argument is directed to someone arguing that

(*) Jake is looking for a gold mine in Surrey, therefore some gold mine is Surrey

is valid."

Who thinks that (*) is an instance of a valid argument? I don't! And so far as I am aware Bill doesn't either! So if your criterion (4) was directed at someone who thinks that (*) is valid, then it has no place in our debate because neither Bill nor I think that (*) is valid.

(II). Your challenge was to provide criteria to distinguish between "queer" terms and "straight" terms so that the former fail to refer whereas the later do refer. You said you are going to do so based on purely linguistic, logical, and semantic considerations. I took your fourth criterion as an attempt to meet the challenge by taking the occurrence of a term in invalid inferences as a sufficient condition for the failure of reference. Such a condition, if it were correct, would answer the challenge as stated above because (in)validity are purely logical properties. However, I have shown that the criterion is inadequate.

Now, if criterion (4) is not designed to do just that, then I have no clue what it is supposed to do.

(III). I have argued that your criterion of invalidity is not a sufficient condition for the failure of reference (obviously, it is also not a necessary condition). Are you denying this claim? You seem to when you reply:

"Of course it (i.e., invalidity, PL) does (i.e., suffice to determine failure of reference, PL). It shows that the expression 'intentional object' has no reference. Where 'intentional object' is defined to mean something satisfying a predicate such as "Jake is looking for an -- and nothing is an --"."

In my examples the term 'intentional object' does not appear. So I have no clue how to understand this reply.

(IV). I ask again: Does criterion (4) state that invalidity is a sufficient condition for failure of reference? Yes or No?

If you say that it is, then my examples refute the criterion. If you say that it is not, then it is unclear what criterion (4) means, what is its purpose, and how it is supposed to meet the challenge posed to you.

Amazing how an argument should be so thoroughly misunderstood. I don't know about you, Peter, but Bill regularly talks about 'intentional objects'. For example here http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2011/01/intentionality-and-haecceity.html

This, i.e. 'intentional object' is my candidate for 'queer term'. Perhaps I should have made this as clear as possible from the outset.

One of the arguments that Bill mentions for there being such things begins with the existence of a grammatical accusative in constructions such as

(1) Jake is looking for a gold mine in Surrey.

where (just so we are entirely clear) the noun-phrase 'a gold mine in Surrey' is the grammatical accusative. The argument goes on: gold mines in Surrey do not exist (or are non-existent, or whatever) therefore the object of Jake's quest is 'intentional' and also a bit 'weird', because it non-existent.

Perhaps neither you nor Bill is convinced by this argument (obviously I'm not). But assume that someone is. Then

1. The term (i.e. 'intentional object') is categorial, i.e. a noun phrase

2. A significant number of people believe that it refers or denotes (I'm assuming some philosophers believe there are 'intentional objects'

3. The reason they believe in such items is not merely empirical. (correct - they are convinced by the metaphysical argument given above).

4. The term 'intentional object' (in its intended sense) does not refer. Quite so. The argument for a reference for 'intentional object' is depends on the inference from 'Jake is looking for a gold mine in Surrey' to 'there is something (the intentional object) that Jake is looking for'. But this argument is invalid, as we now agree. QED.

Thus my four criteria are met.

It is very simple. My target is anyone who thinks the following inference is valid:

(**) Every sentence of the form "S is thinking of a ----" has an accusative, therefore every thought corresponding to the truth of "S is thinking of a ----" has an object.

It is not valid, as can be shown on logical grounds alone. I am hoping some of this helps, as you are misunderstanding my argument badly. Perhaps it's my fault - I often rely on the context of a wider argument ('intentional objects') to make a narrow argument clear. My mistake.

P.S. The absolutely clearest statement of the intentional object claim is by Bill, as follows.

There is a clear sense in which every intentional mental state 'takes an accusative,' 'is of or about an object.' That object could be called the intentional object. Accordingly, whether I want a three-headed dog or a one-headed dog, my wanting has an intentional object http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2011/01/intentionality-and-haecceity.html.

It is that claim I am attacking. Namely that the truth of 'Bill wants a 3-headed dog' entails the truth of 'Bill's wanting has an intentional object'. He makes it right there.

EO,

OK. So let me see if I understand your criterion as stated in your last response.

(I). Consider the following general schema:

R(...,___);

where for our purposes 'R' is any two place predicate (it could be a three place predicate etc, but we are only interested in the first two positions).

II) Your principle seems to be as follows:

(P) If the inference from

(i) R(...,___);
to
(ii) There exists an x s.t.: x = ___ & R(...,x);

is invalid, then the *position* occupied by '___' is not a purely referential position. Therefore, the *term* occurring in '___' does not refer in *any context whatsoever* including in referential contexts.

The mistake that (P) commits is obvious. From the fact that a given position is non-referential (in the above sense) it does not follow that a term occurring in that position fails to refer altogether including when it occurs in other contexts.

(II). If this is not obvious, here is an example that will surely make it obvious:

(a) Bill wants to wed Mary.

Clearly the inference from (a) to

(b) There exists an x s.t x = Mary & Bill wants to wed x.

is invalid. Yet it does not follow from the invalidity of (a)-(b) that the term 'Mary' fails to refer to a woman.

Nor does it follow that the relation '...wants___' fails to refer. Surely, the later refers to some mental state of Bill's.

(III). You say:

"4. The term 'intentional object' (in its intended sense) does not refer. Quite so. The argument for a reference for 'intentional object' is depends on the inference from 'Jake is looking for a gold mine in Surrey' to 'there is something (the intentional object) that Jake is looking for'. But this argument is invalid, as we now agree. QED."

But the way you state Bill's position in (4) is completely incorrect (and Bill repeatedly said so). You seem to think (at least that is what you say) that Bill derives the referentiality of the term 'intentional object' indirectly from a certain inference: i.e., the inference from "Jake is looking for a gold mine in Surrey" to "There is something (the intentional object) that Jake is looking for". But, you claim, since this later inference is invalid, Bill is not entitled to derive from it the referentiality of the term 'intentional object'.

One might think of your reconstruction of Bill's position along the lines of the following narrative you might impute to Bill:

(A) (This is a narrative that EO attributes to Bill):

~You see, certain inferences hold. We can derive the proposition "There is something (a gold mine in Surrey) that Jake is looking for" from the premise "Jake is looking for a gold mine in Surrey". Since such inferences are valid and since the premise (which certainly can be true) entails the conclusion (which therefore must be true) and since the conclusion asserts that there is a gold mine in Surrey sought by Jake, there better be something, an intentional object, sought by Jake." (end of the putative narrative)


The trouble with narrative (A) is that Bill is not deriving the referentiality of the term 'intentional object' from the inference you allege, nor any inference whatsoever. This he said many times and repeated it in his last post:

"Suppose I am imagining a winged horse. If so, then it would be false to say that I am imagining nothing. One cannot simply imagine, or just imagine. It follows that I am imagining something. We are still at the level of data. I have said nothing controversial."

Clearly, Bill views this matter as a fact; a datum. Hence, it is not derived by way of an inference, valid or invalid. Therefore, you cannot object that since the inference on the basis of which he maintains that the term 'intentional object' has a referent is invalid, the term has no referent. For he does not think that the referentiality of 'intentional object' is required to be derived from an inference. Rather (for Bill) the term 'intentional object' has a referent because of certain fundamental facts about intentional states (as he makes clear in his last post).

The question, then, is whether you are denying the datum and what exactly are you denying about the datum. You may deny that intentionality is to be characterized by *aboutness* or that an intentional state is *of* something. But then you will need to tell us what is characteristic of intentional states. Also you will need to explain Jake's behavior that seems to be caused by his intentional state of looking for a gold mine in Surrey. Why does he do that if his intentional state is not directed to anything in Surrey?

Still, it seems to me that such a debate would eventually lead to a stalemate.

(IV) Back to the matter of the criterion: The latest exchanges seem to point to the fact that you have failed to clearly state a criterion for distinguishing "queer" from "straight" terms in terms of a purely logical criterion. And this point is quite independent from Bill's particular position on the matter. You need to state which terms you are attacking? You need to show how the criterion shows that the terms are not referential in terms of some purely logical properties? I have not seen this done to my satisfaction.



>>From the fact that a given position is non-referential (in the above sense) it does not follow that a term occurring in that position fails to refer altogether including when it occurs in other contexts.

Agree, but it should have been obvious that I wasn't claiming it did not refer altogether, but only in that (or similar) contexts. OK it wasn't obvious.

>>
The trouble with narrative (A) is that Bill is not deriving the referentiality of the term 'intentional object' from the inference you allege, nor any inference whatsoever.
<<

Yes he is. I repeat what he said earlier, which is his very words.

There is a clear sense in which every intentional mental state 'takes an accusative,' 'is of or about an object.' That object could be called the intentional object. Accordingly, whether I want a three-headed dog or a one-headed dog, my wanting has an intentional object http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2011/01/intentionality-and-haecceity.html.

He is clearly moving from

(A) X wants a 3-headed dog

to

(B) X's wanting has an intentional object.

You might also have missed my posts on 'Beyond Necessity' where I commented on the existential import of 'something' when it occurs outside the scope of an intentional verb. That is (A) is perfectly consistent with

(A') X wants something (namely a 3-headed dog)

but is not consistent with

(A'') Something is such that it is wanted by X

Intentional verbs are asymmetrical, as I commented on the blog a few times.

Verbs like 'has' are symmetrical. Thus the move from (A) to (B) is faulty.

On the other points you make: I am fighting an extended battle on quite a few fronts. Perhaps we can start with the particular and move to the general when ready. I want to convince you of the logic of this particular part first (i.e. why (A) to (B) is suspect).

It may help if I number Bill's argument as follows:

(1) I am imagining a winged horse.
(2) If so, then it would be false to say that I am imagining nothing.
(3) One cannot simply imagine, or just imagine.
(4) It follows that I am imagining something.

These moves are all absolutely perfect. But these are not

(5) Something is such that I am imagining it

(6) My imagining has an intentional object

(7) some object is a relatum of an intentional relation etc. etc.

Oh yes, you also say this

>>you cannot object that since the inference on the basis of which he maintains that the term 'intentional object' has a referent is invalid, the term has no referent.

I can certainly object that. For you have defined 'intentional object' in terms of the inference in question. You define it as the object that must be related to X whenever X is having a thought of the form expressed 'X is thinking of a Y'.

EO,

Well, I suppose we simply will have to wait and see how Bill himself sees this matter.

(Bill, wake up!)

I myself see it as follows. In the paragraph you quote I take Bill to be saying that it is a datum that intentional states are directed to, or are about, or are of something. Bill explicitly says that anyone who denies this denies what Bill takes to be an obvious fact about intentionality.

Second, Bill then defines whatever it is that they are about, or are of, or directed towards by the term 'intentional object'. Bill remains neutral as to the nature of this intentional object. I take it that he thinks that it is at this point that "theory" comes in; i.e., theory about the nature of these intentional objects (Meinongian, or whatever).

Now, if you think that it is not an essential property/fact about intentional states that they are about, of something, or directed toward something, then you deny a fundamental premise that Bill takes for granted. Under such circumstances, I do not know how the debate can be advanced.

(more perhaps later; busy!)

Thanks, Peter. That is a good defense of my position. I now see that we do have some common ground with Edward:

>>(1) I am imagining a winged horse.
(2) If so, then it would be false to say that I am imagining nothing.
(3) One cannot simply imagine, or just imagine.
(4) It follows that I am imagining something.

These moves are all absolutely perfect. But these are not

(5) Something is such that I am imagining it

(6) My imagining has an intentional object

(7) some object is a relatum of an intentional relation etc. etc.<<

That Edward accepts (1)-(4) is good news. As for (5), I agree with him that from 'I am imagining a winged horse' one cannot validly infer 'There exists an x such that I am imagining x.' That's been obvious to all from the git-go!

As for (6), it all depends on what is meant by 'intentional object.' Edward misuses it to refer to a thing that exists outside the mind. On that (mis)use, then he is right that my imagining of a winged horse does not have an intentional object. But he is wrong if 'intentional object' refers to precisely that which is given to one who enacts an intentional act. Phenomenologically, when I imagine a winged horse, something is before my mind, something which has all and only the properties I imagine it as having. I invite Edward to do a little phenomenology and set aside his lingustic analysis. Imagine a naked woman wearing only a red bow tie with Mose Maimonides' Guide to the Perplexed in one hand and the Union Jack in the other. Now THAT is the intentional object of the act of imagining. It is the intentum of the intentio qua intentum. Have I said anything controversial? No! We are still a good distance from the Meinongian theory which I have rejected in many posts.

As for (7), I agree that from 'I am imagining a winged horse' one cannot validly infer 'Some object is the relatum of an intentional relation.' And this for two reasons. First, if intentionality is a relation, then all its relata exist, but no winged horse exists. Second, if 'object' means 'entity,' then obviously the inference fails.

Gentleman,

You have not understood my argument. I repeat it in more detail here http://ocham.blogspot.com/2011/01/metaphysical-reasoning.html

Btw I have just realised why Bill contrasts 'Londonistas' with 'Phoenicians'. I thought it was to do with the mythological Phoenix. I now realise it is simpler than that (Phoenix is a place in Arizona, where Bill lives, just as London is a place in England, where I live). Yes?

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