Conceivability and Possibility
Gendler (Tamar Szabo) & Hawthorne (John)
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Back Cover Blurb

  1. The capacity to represent things to ourselves as possible plays a crucial role both in everyday thinking and in philosophical reasoning; this volume offers much-needed philosophical illumination of conceivability, possibility, and the relations between them.
  2. Thirteen leading philosophers present specially written essays, and a substantial introduction is provided by the volume editors, who demonstrate the importance of these topics to a wide range of issues in contemporary philosophy.
  3. Tamar Szabo Gendler is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Syracuse University
  4. John Hawthorne is Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University

Acknowledgements1
  1. All of the papers in this volume appear for the first time in this collection, and most were written especially for it. Knowing this, the reader may be puzzled by the fact that many of the papers include author-generated cross-references to other essays within the volume. This fruitful exchange of ideas is the consequence of the authors' willingness to share draft copies of their papers with the other contributors.
  2. We had feared that such a process, though philosophically rewarding, might delay publication of the volume unreasonably; that it did not is due to the extraordinary good will of the contributors, whose universal co-operation in responding to comments and meeting deadlines enabled timely publication of the volume without sacrifice in quality.

Contents
    Introduction: Conceivability and Possibility
    → Tamar Szabo Gendler, John Hawthorne
  1. Modal Epistemology and the Rationalist Renaissance
    → George Bealer
  2. Berkeley's Puzzle
    → John Campbell
  3. Does Conceivability Entail Possibility?
    → David J. Chalmers
  4. Desire In Imagination
    → Gregory Currie
  5. Essentialism Versus Essentialism
    → Michael Della Rocca
  6. The Varieties of Necessity
    → Kit Fine
  7. A Study in Modal Deviance
    → Gideon Rosen
  8. On The Metaphysical Contingency of Laws of Nature
    → Alan Sidelle
  9. The Art of the Impossible
    → Roy Sorensen
  10. Reliability And the A Priori
    → Ernest Sosa
  11. What Is It Like To Be a Zombie?
    → Robert Stalnaker
  12. The Conceivability of Naturalism
    → Crispin Wright
  13. Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
    → Stephen Yablo



In-Page Footnotes ("Gendler (Tamar Szabo) & Hawthorne (John) - Conceivability and Possibility")

Footnote 1:
BOOK COMMENT:

Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2002



"Bealer (George) - Modal Epistemology and the Rationalist Renaissance"

Source: Gendler & Hawthorne - Conceivability and Possibility, 2002


Philosophers Index Abstract
    The paper begins with a clarification of the notions of intuition (and, in particular, modal intuition), modal error, conceivability, metaphysical possibility, and epistemic possibility. It is argued that two-dimensionalism is the wrong framework for modal epistemology and that a certain nonreductionist approach to the theory of concepts and propositions is required instead. Finally, there is an examination of moderate rationalism's impact on modal arguments in the philosophy of mind--for example, Yablo's disembodiment argument and Chalmer's zombie argument. A less vulnerable style of modal argument is defended, which nevertheless wins the same anti-materialist conclusions sought by these other arguments.



"Campbell (John) - Berkeley's Puzzle"

Source: Gendler & Hawthorne - Conceivability and Possibility, 2002



"Chalmers (David) - Does Conceivability Entail Possibility?"

Source: Gendler & Hawthorne - Conceivability and Possibility, 2002



"Currie (Gregory) - Desire in Imagination"

Source: Gendler & Hawthorne - Conceivability and Possibility, 2002



"Della Rocca (Michael) - Essentialism versus Essentialism"

Source: Gendler & Hawthorne - Conceivability and Possibility, 2002


Philosophers Index Abstract
    I argue that the key motivation for the essentialist is that modal intuitions, such as "Humphrey might have won", are not to be explicated in terms of persons in other possible situations who are similar to the actual Humphrey. However, because of a need to preserve the necessity of identity, the essentialist must claim that certain other intuitions (such as "Hesperus might not have been Phosphorus") have to be understood in terms of similarity (as in Kripke) or have to be rejected (as in Yablo). This move leads to ineliminable doubts about the essentialist's rejection of similarity, and so it leads to an undermining of the motivation for essentialism itself.



"Fine (Kit) - The Varieties of Necessity"

Source: Gendler & Hawthorne - Conceivability and Possibility, 2002



"Gendler (Tamar Szabo) & Hawthorne (John) - Conceivability and Possibility: Introduction"

Source: Gendler & Hawthorne - Conceivability and Possibility, 2002


Philosophers Index Abstract
    The capacity to represent things to ourselves as possible plays a crucial role both in everyday thinking and in philosophical reasoning; this volume offers much-needed philosophical illumination of conceivability, possibility, and the relations between them. Thirteen leading philosophers present specially written essays, and a substantial introduction is provided by the volume editors, who demonstrate the importance of these topics to a wide range of issues in contemporary philosophy. (publisher)



"Rosen (Gideon) - A Study in Modal Deviance"

Source: Gendler & Hawthorne - Conceivability and Possibility, 2002



"Sidelle (Alan) - On the Metaphysical Contingency of the Laws of Nature"

Source: Gendler & Hawthorne - Conceivability and Possibility, 2002



"Sorenson (Roy) - The Art of the Impossible"

Source: Gendler & Hawthorne - Conceivability and Possibility, 2002


Philosophers Index Abstract
    But a winner must supply a nonevasive picture with no limit on potential detail--a purely imagistic depiction that does not rely on a mere description of an impossibility. There are logical minded philosophers from David Hume to Saul Kripke who think the prize cannot be won: What is conceivable is possible and whatever is depicted is thereby conceived, therefore, impossibilities cannot be depicted. Yet there is a rich aesthetics of inconsistency, best known through M. C. Escher. So I proceed with the fine print for the competition.



"Sosa (Ernest) - Reliability and the A Priori"

Source: Gendler & Hawthorne - Conceivability and Possibility, 2002



"Stalnaker (Robert) - What Is It Like To Be a Zombie?"

Source: Gendler & Hawthorne - Conceivability and Possibility, 2002

COMMENT: See "Stalnaker (Robert) - What Is It Like To Be a Zombie?".



"Wright (Crispin) - The Conceivability of Naturalism"

Source: Gendler & Hawthorne - Conceivability and Possibility, 2002


Author’s Introduction
  1. A central dilemma in contemporary metaphysics is to find a place for certain anthropocentric subject-matters — for instance, the semantic, moral, and psychological — in a world as conceived by modern naturalism: a stance which inflates the concepts and categories deployed by (finished) physical science into a metaphysics of the kind of thing the real world essentially and exhaustively is.
    • On one horn, if we embrace this naturalism, it seems we are committed either to reductionism: that is, to a construal of the reference of, for example, semantic, moral, and psychological vocabulary as somehow being within the physical domain — or to disputing that the discourses in question involve reference to what is real at all..
    • On the other horn, if we reject this naturalism, then we accept that there is more to the world than can be embraced within a physicalist ontology — and so take on a commitment, it can seem, to a kind of eerie supernaturalism.
  2. "McDowell (John) - Mind and World" (1994) has proposed a distinctive, intendedly 'non-eerie' accommodation, involving our habituation into a more 'relaxed' conception of what should rank as natural, a conception of Nature which would be hospitable to meanings, to ethical and other norms, and to psychological properties. But the position he proposes — I am speaking just of my own reaction — can too easily seem more like a triumphant reaffirmation of the common-sense categories at issue than a real response to the metaphysical dilemma they pose.
  3. This problem provides the background to the present chapter, rather than its topic. Its topic is the famous argument, outlined in "Kripke (Saul) - Naming and Necessity: Lecture III" (the third lecture of "Kripke (Saul) - Naming and Necessity"), that pain — and sensations generally — cannot be anything physical. What gives this argument its interest in the context of the concerns of the present volume is the manner in which it draws on considerations of (apparent) conceivability to substantiate a metaphysical conclusion.
    • In the first part of what follows, I shall outline the background to the argument, develop its detail somewhat, and sustain it against what are, according to my understanding, the two most influential received objections to it.
    • Then I shall make a case that, if good at all, it should generalize to cover not just sensations. but all items falling within the extensions of (in a sense to be explained) transparent concepts, with colour concepts (an example we shall stalk throughout) and secondary-quality concepts generally the obvious next port of call.
    • At that point, the dialectical situation will be that, to the extent that the distinctive concepts of semantic, moral, and psychological discourse also approximate the relevant model of transparency, the Kripkean argument presents an outstanding challenge to any form of reductionist reaction to the metaphysical dilemma. But I do not think that dialectical situation is stable.
  4. My concluding suggestion will be that there is still an outstanding objection to the overall strategy of the argument: the assumption that drives it, that counter-conceivability is a defeater of claims of metaphysical necessity of all kinds, both a priori and a posteriori, stands in need of a (to the best of my knowledge) unremarked form of qualification. If this is right, the argument is balked even for the basic case of sensations, and the fascinating prospect of a wide-reaching exclusion of physicalism on purely conceptual grounds evaporates.



"Yablo (Stephen) - Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda"

Source: Gendler & Hawthorne - Conceivability and Possibility, 2002



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