Volume 10, No. 2, 2014 – Monographic Issue: Nenad Miščević – Many Faces of a Philosopher Guest editors: Petar Bojanić and Snježana Prijić-Samaržija

  • Introduction
    Petar Bojanić and Snježana Prijić-Samaržija

    Pages: 5-6

    Introduction to the special issue.
  • Linguistic Intuitions: In Defense of “Ordinarism”
    Michel Devitt

    Pages: 7-20 | Abstract

    The received view in Chomskian linguistics is that linguistic intuitions are the product of a linguistic competence residing in a sub-central module of the mind. In Ignorance of Language I rejected this “Voice of Competence” view (“VoC”), and gave an answer of my own. I argued that intuitions are empirical theory-laden central-processor responses to phenomena. This led to an exchange with Nenad Miščević in which he defended VoC. Miščević has since returned to the issue, criticizing my sort of view, which he labels “ordinarism”. Dunja Jutronić has already given an excellent response to these criticisms. I focus on revising and developing my view further. I emphasize that a person’s linguistic intuitions can be immediate perceptual judgments that do not arise from any conscious and deliberate exercise of her own competence. Should she feel the need for such an exercise, she is likely to begin with an understanding test not a production one. The mental processes involved in these deliberate tests are not aptly described as “simulations” of linguistic usage.
  • Miščević’s Reply to Devitt 

    Pages: 21-30 | Abstract

    I agree completely with Devitt, first, that people do immediately understand sentences presented to them, that this understanding goes together with perceiveing the sentence in question (pronounced or written), and that it demands an explanation. Devitt himself stresses the involvement of competence in the process, and I agree. But, if the competence is involved, , why is voice-of-competence view on the wrong track? And the view connects well with findings reported in psycholinguistic literature. Of course, there are several very broad areas that are sufficiently specific to allow for hypothesis of a specialized competence and about which people have intuitions. One is human general understanding of number(s) that is quite specialized, and can be lost, as a consequence of brain damage, without impairment in other areas. The next is our spatial competence, presumably producing our spatial-geometrical intuitions. Coming closer to the domain of philosophy, there are several normative areas, the paradigmatic one being the moral domain (and I guess the aesthetic one). The voice-of-competence view can and should be generalized to all of them.
  • Social Epistemology Between Revisionism and Expansionism: On the Use of “Continental” Philosophy and Nenad Miščević’s “Disappointment”
    Snježana Prijić-Samaržija and Petar Bojanić 

    Pages: 31-48 | Abstract

    The main aim of this article is to analyze a recent text by Nenad Miščević dealing with social epistemology in the context of Foucault’s theory of knowledge. In the first part, we briefly note Miščević’s thoughts on the difference between analytic and continental philosophy and his thoughts on the latter. In the second part, we analyze both Miščević’s thesis about Foucault’s dual understanding of knowledge and his placement of social epistemology as a proper framework for Foucault’s concept of “new” knowledge. In opposition to Miščević’s dualistic view, we are more inclined to accept Goldman’s characterization of Foucault’s position as a revisionist project in the context of standard analytical epistemology that legitimately embraces even very serious expansions of epistemological themes. Finally, we propose that Miščević’s dualistic interpretation reflects his general dualistic position concerning the previously described distinction between “continental” and “analytic” philosophy.
  • Miščević’s Reply to Snježana Prijić-Samaržija and Petar Bojanić 

    Pages: 49-58 | Abstract

    Foucault’s philosophy and history of science(s) offer contradictory suggestions. His history of science is erudite, challenging, interesting, uncovering new and rich analogies between various disciplines. But his philosophy of science fosters problematic extreme anti-realism combined with elements of strong relativism. The style is rich in ambiguous, even dark pronouncements, often sounding bombastic („end of man”). In the paper I develop the hypothesis that there are two opposing pressures coming all the way from the early structuralist model (and the structuralist tradition) which I sketch briefly. On the one hand, structuralist approach is good for suggesting organizational principles, on the other bad in excluding issues of truth, explanatory potential of theories, and even their empirical adequacy. It has proved quite poor in offering explanatory tools on meta-level. If the pressure of evidence is ,not seen as the prime mover (or at least a crucially important mover) of scientific change, and if change has nothing to do with the search for more adequate picture then the seduction of the power-model, with its political potential, becomes very strong. It is ubiquitous in continental philosophy of 20th century. I am afraid that the two components of structuralist heritage have been yielding a very mixed result: bad philosophy of science disfiguring the history of science. The interesting and challenging material from the latter is used for very dubious generalizations in the former.
  • Mathematical Narratives
    James Robert Brown 

    Pages: 59-73 | Abstract

    Philosophers and mathematicians have different ideas about the difference between pure and applied mathematics. This should not surprise us, since they have different aims and interests. For mathematicians, pure mathematics is the interesting stuff, even if it has lots of physics involved. This has the consequence that picturesque examples play a role in motivating and justifying mathematical results. Philosophers might find this upsetting, but we find a parallel to mathematician’s attitudes in ethics, which, I argue, is a much better model for how philosophers should think about these issues.
  • Miščević’s Reply to Jim, aka James Robert Brown 

    Pages: 75-84 | Abstract

    Two topics dear to James Robert Brown are discussed, and brought together. First, the applicability of mathematics: it is claimed that applicability offers an a posteriori justification of our mathematical beliefs, on a reflective, rather holistic level in a two level hierarchy. Second, the answer to Benacerraf’s dilemma. A non-empirical mathematical property M is realized in empirical reality through realizers, concrete numerical patterns. The realizers have been interacting causally with human thinkers throughout evolution, which has, through a kind of evolutionary abstraction process, left a proto-representation as of M in human mental apparatus. The innate proto-representation, and its ontogenetic avatars, guide actual humans in recognizing instances of M in the empirical reality. But does the evolutionary production of mechanisms for M-representation track truth? Hopefully yes; the applicability and indispensability of math are a testimony to the truth-tracking.
  • Analytic, A Priori, False – And Maybe Non-Conceptual
    Georges Rey 

    Pages: 85-110 | Abstract

    I argue that there are analytic claims that, if true, can be known a priori, but which also can turn out to be false: they are expressive of merely default instructions from the language faculty to the conceptual system, which may be overridden by pragmatic or scientific considerations, in which case, of course, they would not be known at all, a priori or otherwise. More surprisingly, I also argue that they might not be, strictly speaking, conceptual: concepts may be importantly different from the meaning instructions for the words we use to express them. I will press all this in the context of a general Quinean “naturalism,” where the epistemology that interests me is “a chapter of natural science,” but where the science won’t be Quine’s behaviorism, but a Chomskyan theory of the “I-semantics” of “I-language.” But, relying on a distinction I draw between an explanatory and a working epistemology, I will be pressing it largely as an explanatory claim, not one that will have serious consequences for on-going philosophical practice, neither with regard to the world, nor, more surprisingly, even with regard to armchair “conceptual analysis.” As Putnam (1965/75) observed, there may be analytic truths, but they don’t cut much philosophical ice.
  • Miščević’s Reply to Georges Rey 

    Pages: 111-118 | Abstract

    I agree with Rey that concepts can yield analytic falsities. Both Rey and I have been discussing empirical concepts, mostly kind concepts that are to some extent adequate, but contain some inadequate elements in their accepted definitions.The second kind are superstitious terms and empirical kind concepts, like the full- blown astrological ones, or concepts characterizing professions (or similar features) ascribing to them magic powers. They usually concern human-social kinds, ascribing to them characteristics or powers in a problematic manner (for example, “witch” ascribes inexistent powers, and also bad character due to the witch-nature of the targeted person). Propositions analytic in such concepts are both false and a priori. The third kind encompasses positive and negative descriptive-evaluative terms and corresponding thick concepts, that are not empty, but that ascribe positive or negative features to members of a presumed social kind (or group) just in virtue of their belonging to the kind. The most common example in nowadays languages are on the negative side, namely slurs (pejoratives); nowadays rather rare positive counterparts are misplaced laudatives. Again, typical propositions analytic in such concepts are false, and knowable in virtue of being competent in the respective language.
  • Which Are The Data That Competence Provides For Linguistic Intuitions?
    Dunja Jutronić 

    Pages: 119-143 | Abstract

    There are two clearly opposed camps on the issue of the source of linguistic intuitions that have been labelled competentionalist and ordinarist positions. Competentionalists believe and defend the view that linguistic intuitions have a special status and that linguistic competence is their source, while ordinarists believe and defend the view that linguistic intuitions do not have any special status and that they are not directly derived from linguistic competence. The crucial disagreement is primarily over the source of intuitions. The main question that is addressed in this paper is: Which are the data that competence provides for linguistic intuitions? I try to show that all the criticism mounted against the ordinarist are ill-founded. Competence is not the source of linguistic intuitions. Intuitions do not flow directly from competence. They are the secondary (immediate) reflections on primary performance.
  • Miščević’s Reply to Dunja Jutronić 

    Pages: 145-153 | Abstract

    How does one understand a sentence, in particular its syntactic structure? We have reason to think that the competence, in particular the parser in the competence analyses the sentence, and ends up with some mental equivalent of the tree diagram. And this is the main job to be done. If competence is doing this, then it plays the main role. If Dunja admits this, how can she be an ordinarist, rather that a competentialist? If Devitt agrees with her, how can he be an ordinarist? Alternatively, further research might show that competence does also issue a verdict, and I hope this is what will happen. My reason for thinking it is that I think competence participates in other linguistic tasks, in particular in immediate linguistic understanding. The ordinarists about linguistic intuitions suggest that „given what else we know about the mind“ we should believe that ordinary human central processor can read SDs of complicated sentences with more than one embedding, and that it is just our general intelligence that deciphers them. It is argued that this proposal is quite unconvincing.