Ideas of David Papineau, by Theme

[British, b.1947, British, born 1947, based at Cambridge University, and then King's College, London]

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1. Philosophy / G. Scientific Philosophy / 3. Scientism
All worthwhile philosophy is synthetic theorizing, evaluated by experience
     Full Idea: I would say that all worthwhile philosophy consists of synthetic theorizing, evaluated against experience.
     From: David Papineau (Philosophical Insignificance of A Priori Knowledge [2010], §1)
     A reaction: This is the view that philosophy is just science at a high level of abstraction, and he explicitly rejects 'conceptual analysis' as a fruitful activity. I need to take a stance on this one, but find I am in a state of paralysis. Welcome to philosophy...
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 5. Naturalism
Externalism may be the key idea in philosophical naturalism
     Full Idea: Some people view an externalist approach to epistemology as the essence of philosophical naturalism.
     From: David Papineau (Philosophical Naturalism [1993], Intro)
     A reaction: I suspect philosophers avoid psychology and mental events, simply because they are elusive. Externalism is a theory about justification, and independent of naturalism as a metaphysic.
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 11. Ontological Commitment / e. Ontological commitment problems
Our best theories may commit us to mathematical abstracta, but that doesn't justify the commitment
     Full Idea: Our empirically best-supported theories may commit us to certain abstract mathematical entities, but this does not necessarily mean that this is what justifies our commitment. That we are committed doesn't explain why we should be.
     From: David Papineau (Philosophical Insignificance of A Priori Knowledge [2010], §4)
     A reaction: A nice point. It is only a slightly gormless scientism which would say that we have to accept whatever scientists demand. Who's in charge here - scientists, mathematicians or philosophers? Don't answer that...
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / a. Beliefs
Belief truth-conditions are normal circumstances where the belief is supposed to occur
     Full Idea: The truth condition of the belief is the 'normal' circumstances in which, given the learning process, it is biologically supposed to be present.
     From: David Papineau (Reality and Representation [1987], p.67), quoted by Christopher Peacocke - A Study of Concepts 5.2
     A reaction: How do we account for a belief in ghosts in this story? The notion of 'normal' circumstances and what is 'biologically supposed' to happen don't seem very appropriate. This is the 'teleological' view of belief.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 9. A Priori from Concepts
A priori knowledge is analytic - the structure of our concepts - and hence unimportant
     Full Idea: I am a fully paid up-naturalist, but I see no reason to deny that a priori knowledge is possible. My view is that a priori knowledge is unimportant (esp to philosophy). If there is a priori knowledge, it is analytic, true by the structure of our concepts.
     From: David Papineau (Philosophical Insignificance of A Priori Knowledge [2010], §1)
     A reaction: It is one thing to say it is the structure of our concepts, and another to infer that it is unimportant. I take the structure of our concepts to be a shadow cast by the structure of the world. E.g. the structure of numbers reveals the world.
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 7. Causal Perception
Perceptual concepts can't just refer to what causes classification
     Full Idea: We may say that a perceptual concept refers to that entity which normally causes classificatory uses of that concept...but this won't work because such deployments are often caused by things which the concept doesn't refer to. A model might cause 'bird'.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 4.6)
     A reaction: This rejects the causal theory of perceptual concepts. I like the approach, because classifying things strikes me as absolutely basic to what brains do. To see that x is a bird is to place x in the class of birds.
12. Knowledge Sources / E. Direct Knowledge / 2. Intuition
Intuition and thought-experiments embody substantial information about the world
     Full Idea: Naturalists can allow for thought-experiments in philosophy. Intuitions play an important role, but only because they embody substantial information about the world.
     From: David Papineau (Philosophical Insignificance of A Priori Knowledge [2010], §3)
     A reaction: In this sense, intuitions are just memories which are too complex for us to articulate. They are not the intuitions of 'pure reason'. It is hard to connect the intuitive spotting of a proof with memories of the physical world.
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 1. Mind / e. Questions about mind
The only serious mind-brain theories now are identity, token identity, realization and supervenience
     Full Idea: Anybody writing seriously about mind-brain issues nowadays needs to explain whether they think of materialism in terms of identity, token identity, realization, or supervenience.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], Intro §6)
     A reaction: Dualists are not invited. Functionalists are attending a different party. I wonder if his four categories collapse into two: the token/supervenience view, and the identity/realization view?
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 3. Mental Causation
Maybe mind and body do overdetermine acts, but are linked (for some reason)
     Full Idea: Maybe physical effects of mental causes are always overdetermined by distinct causes (the 'belt and braces' view). Defenders say the two are still counterfactually dependent - but that would raise the question of why, if they are ontologically distinct.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 1.5)
     A reaction: [He cites D.H. Mellor as defending 'belt and braces'] This strikes me as the sort of theory that arises from desperation: traditional dualism won't work, but we MUST keep mind separate, so that we can have free will, and save morality. All very confused!
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / c. Knowing other minds
Young children can see that other individuals sometimes have false beliefs
     Full Idea: The classic manifestation of being able to think about other individuals' mental states is success on the 'false belief test', which requires attribution of mistaken representations to other agents. Children aged three or four can do this.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 4.7)
     A reaction: There may be an other minds problem, but there is empirical evidence that we can 'read' the minds of others (from their behaviour) even if other animals can't. That seems to be clear, even if folk psychology is fiction, and we make mistakes.
Do we understand other minds by simulation-theory, or by theory-theory?
     Full Idea: There is debate about whether we attribute beliefs and desires to others, and predict their behaviour, by simulating the decisions we would make ourselves ('simulation-theory'), or by deducing them from some general theory ('theory-theory').
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 4.7)
     A reaction: Could be both. If someone is hurt, empathy leads to direct mind-reading (which seems like simulation), but if someone is behaving strangely we may have to bring theories to bear, because this person seems to be different.
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 8. Brain
Researching phenomenal consciousness is peculiar, because the concepts involved are peculiar
     Full Idea: It is a mistake to suppose that research into phenomenal consciousness can proceed just like other kinds of scientific research. Phenomenal concepts are peculiar, and some of the questions they pose for empirical investigation are peculiar too.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 7.01)
     A reaction: This arises from Papineau's Conceptual Dualism, that our concepts are deeply dualist, when the underlying ontology is not. Brain researchers are wise to ignore phenomenology, and creep slowly forward from the physical end, where the concepts are clear.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / a. Consciousness
Whether octopuses feel pain is unclear, because our phenomenal concepts are too vague
     Full Idea: Our phenomenal concepts are irredeemably vague in certain dimensions, in ways that preclude there being any fact of the matter about whether octopuses feel phenomenal pain, or silicon-based humanoids would have any phenomenal consciousness.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], Intro §7)
     A reaction: It would be hard for Papineau to prove this point, but clearly our imagination finds it very hard to grasp the idea of a thing which is 'somewhat conscious'. The concept of being much more conscious than humans also bewilders us.
Our concept of consciousness is crude, and lacks theoretical articulation
     Full Idea: Our phenomenal concept of consciousness-as-such is a crude tool, lacking theoretical articulation
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 7.13)
     A reaction: This is a point well made. Given that the human brain is the most complex thing (for its size) in the known universe, we shouldn't expect it to divide up into three or four clear-cut activities. Compare the precision of 'geography' as a concept.
We can’t decide what 'conscious' means, so it is undecidable whether cats are conscious
     Full Idea: If consciousness is availability for HOT judgements, then cats are not conscious, but if it consists in attention, then they are. I say the concept of consciousness is indefinite between the two, so there is no fact about whether cats are conscious.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 7.16)
     A reaction: Nice point. My personal view is that the question of whether cats are conscious is hopeless because philosophers insist on making consciousness all-or-nothing (e.g. Idea 5786). If I experienced cat mentality, I might say I was 'semi-conscious'.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / e. Cause of consciousness
Maybe a creature is conscious if its mental states represent things in a distinct way
     Full Idea: The thesis of 'representational theories of consciousness' is that a creature is conscious just in case it is in a certain kind of representational state, some state which represents in a certain way.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002])
     A reaction: [He cites Harman, Dretske and Tye] The immediate impediment I see to this view is the extreme difficulty of explaining what the special 'way' is that turns representations into consciousness. Some mental states are not representational, and vice versa.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / f. Higher-order thought
The 'actualist' HOT theory says consciousness comes from actual higher judgements of mental states
     Full Idea: The 'actualist' HOT theory says that a state is conscious if the subject is 'aware' of it, where this is understood as a matter of the subject forming some actual Higher-Order judgement about it.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 7.11)
     A reaction: As stated there seems an obvious regress problem. Is the consciousness in the mental state, or in the higher awareness of it? If the former, how does being observed make it conscious? If the latter, what gives the higher level its consciousness?
Actualist HOT theories imply that a non-conscious mental event could become conscious when remembered
     Full Idea: Actualist HOT theories face an awkward problem with memory judgements: can an earlier mental state be rendered conscious by some later act of memory? As when I see a red pillar box with no higher-order judgement, and then recall it later.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 7.11)
     A reaction: [See 7886 for 'Actualist' HOT theories] This is not altogether absurd. A red pillar box could be somewhere in my field of vision, and then I might suddenly become conscious of it (if it moved!). Police interrogation reminds me of what I only glimpsed.
States are conscious if they could be the subject of higher-order mental judgements
     Full Idea: The 'dispositional' HOT thesis says that a state is conscious just in case it could have been the subject of an introspective Higher-Order judgement, even if it wasn't actually so subject.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 7.13)
     A reaction: [He cites Dennett and Carruthers for this view] This is designed to meet other problems, but it sounds odd. Does it really make no difference whether higher-judgement actually occurs? How can conscious events be distinguished once they've gone?
Higher-order judgements may be possible where the subject denies having been conscious
     Full Idea: Dispositional Higher-Order judgeability will be present in some cases which the empirical methodology catalogues as not conscious (as when a subject denies having heard a sound, or seen a bird).
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 7.13)
     A reaction: (This attacks Idea 7887) This confirms my intuition, that we can be quite unconscious of things which can still be recalled at a later date. Of course, one could always challenge the reliability of the subject's report in such a case.
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 6. Epiphenomenalism
The epiphenomenal relation of mind and brain is a 'causal dangler', unlike anything else
     Full Idea: If epiphenomenalism were true, then the relation between mind and brain would be like nothing else in nature. After all, science recognises no other examples of 'causal danglers', ontologically independent states with causes but no effects.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 1.4)
     A reaction: This would be a good enough reason for me to reject the epiphenomenalist view, even if I thought it was a coherent proposal. Insofar as it proposes the existence of something (mind) with no causal powers at all, it strikes me as nonsense.
Maybe minds do not cause actions, but do cause us to report our decisions
     Full Idea: Even if conscious decisions did not contribute causally to the actions normally attributed to them, they would still presumably be the causes of the sounds I make when I later report my earlier conscious decisions.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 1.4)
     A reaction: This is a good reply to my view (borrowed from Dennett - Idea 7379), that epiphenomalism proposes an absurdity (an entity with no causal powers). But if mind can cause speech, why could it not cause arm movements?
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 8. Dualism of Mind Critique
How does a dualist mind represent, exist outside space, and be transparent to itself?
     Full Idea: Even dualists must explain how the mind represents things, but then their mind-stuff has so many special powers already (being outside space but in time, being transparent to itself etc.) that one more scarcely seems worth worrying about.
     From: David Papineau (Philosophical Naturalism [1993], 3.1 n1)
     A reaction: I share the exasperation. It is hard to see how a dualist could even begin to formulate a theory about HOW the mind does so many different things. Could Descartes get a research grant for it? Would we understand God if he tried to explain it to us?
17. Mind and Body / C. Functionalism / 8. Functionalism critique
Functionalism needs causation and intentionality to explain actions
     Full Idea: The functionalist approach to the mind needs to invoke assumptions about what desires are for and beliefs are about, in order to infer what agents will do.
     From: David Papineau (Philosophical Naturalism [1993], 3.2)
     A reaction: Isn't the idea that you discover what desires are for and what beliefs are about by examining their function, and what the agent does? Which end should we start?
Role concepts either name the realising property, or the higher property constituting the role
     Full Idea: Role concepts can be of two kinds: they can name whichever property realises the role, or they can name the higher property which constitutes the role.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 4.2 n1)
     A reaction: This points strikes me as being crucial to discussions of mental functions. Perhaps labels of Realising Properties and Constituting Properties would help. Analytical philosophy rules.
17. Mind and Body / D. Property Dualism / 2. Anomalous Monism
If causes are basic particulars, this doesn't make conscious and physical properties identical
     Full Idea: If causes are basic particulars, then the causal argument won't carry you to the identity of conscious and physical properties, since this only requires them to be instantiated in the same particular, not that the properties are themselves identical.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 1.3)
     A reaction: [See Idea 7857; Papineau is rejecting the Davidson view] This explains how Davidson reaches a token-token identity view. Can two events occur in the same particular at the same moment? Depends what you mean by a 'particular'.
17. Mind and Body / D. Property Dualism / 5. Supervenience of mind
Epiphenomenalism is supervenience without physicalism
     Full Idea: Supervenience is a necessary condition for physicalism, but it is not sufficient. Epiphenomenalism rules out mental variation without physical variation, but says mental properties are quite distinct from physical properties.
     From: David Papineau (Philosophical Naturalism [1993], 1.2)
     A reaction: I take full epiphenomenalism about mind to be incoherent, and not worth even mentioning (see Idea 7379). Papineau seems to be thinking of so-called property dualism (which may also be incoherent!).
Supervenience requires all mental events to have physical effects
     Full Idea: The argument for supervenience rests on the principle that any mental difference must be capable of showing itself in differential physical consequences.
     From: David Papineau (Philosophical Naturalism [1993], 1.8)
     A reaction: With our current knowledge of the brain, to assume anything less than this sort of correlation would be crazy.
Supervenience can be replaced by identifying mind with higher-order or disjunctional properties
     Full Idea: I would argue that any benefits offered by the notion of supervenience are more easily gained simply by identifying mental properties directly with higher-order properties or disjunctions of physical properties.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 1.8)
     A reaction: Those who talk of supervenience seem to me to have retreated into a mystery that is not far from substance dualism. We want the explanation of a supervenience. If you accompany me everywhere, I think you are stalking me, or are tied to my ankle.
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 1. Physical Mind
Knowing what it is like to be something only involves being (physically) that thing
     Full Idea: Physicalism does not deny that there are conscious experiences, nor that 'it is like something to have them'. The claim is only that this is nothing different from what it is to be a physical system of the relevant kind.
     From: David Papineau (Philosophical Naturalism [1993], 4.2)
     A reaction: The implication is that no physicalist is an extreme eliminativist about consciousness, which seems to be correct. We all concede that weather exists, but have a reductive view of it. The key question is whether mind is reducible to physics.
The completeness of physics is needed for mind-brain identity
     Full Idea: Without the completeness of physics, there is no compelling reason to identify the mind with the brain.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], App 7)
     A reaction: Papineau says the completeness of physics was accepted from the 1950s. Why were Epicurus and Hobbes physicalists? Do we have a circularity here? How do you establish the completeness of physics, without asserting mind to be physical?
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 2. Reduction of Mind
Mind-brain reduction is less explanatory, because phenomenal concepts lack causal roles
     Full Idea: Mind-brain reductions are less explanatory than characteristic reductions in other areas of science, ...because phenomenal concepts have no special associations with causal roles.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 5.3)
     A reaction: This may always have some truth in it, but I would expect reductive accounts in the far future to get much closer to giving explanations of phenomenal experience. We can't work down from the phenomenal end, but we can work up from the physical/causal end.
Weak reduction of mind is to physical causes; strong reduction is also to physical laws
     Full Idea: Weak reduction of mind requires only that mental causes be identified with physical causes. A strong reduction requires also that the laws by which such causes operate follow by composition from non-special laws.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], App 3 n8)
     A reaction: I'm cautious about laws, but I still vote for strong reduction. No new principles are needed to make a mind from a brain.
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 5. Causal Argument
It is absurd to think that physical effects are caused twice, so conscious causes must be physical
     Full Idea: Many effects that we attribute to conscious causes have full physical causes. But it would be absurd to suppose that these effects are caused twice over. So the conscious causes must be identical to some part of those physical causes.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 1.2)
     A reaction: [Papineau labelled this the Causal Argument] Of course two causes can combine to produce an effect, and there can be redundant physical overcausation, but in general I think this is a good argument.
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 6. Conceptual Dualism
Accept ontological monism, but conceptual dualism; we think in a different way about phenomenal thought
     Full Idea: We should be ontological monists, but we should be conceptual dualists. We need to recognise a special phenomenal way of thinking about conscious properties, if we are to dispel the confusions that persuade us that conscious properties cannot be material.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 7.01)
     A reaction: This idea came to me as a revelation, and strikes me as spot on. We have developed conceptual dualism simply because humans cannot directly see that their thinking is actually physical brain activity. Thought seems ungrounded, and utterly different.
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 7. Anti-Physicalism / b. Multiple realisability
If a mental state is multiply realisable, why does it lead to similar behaviour?
     Full Idea: If functionalism implies that there is nothing physically in common among the realisations of a given mental state, then there is no possibility of any uniform explanation of why they all give rise to a common physical result.
     From: David Papineau (Philosophical Naturalism [1993], 2.2)
     A reaction: This is the well known interaction problem for dualism. The standard reply is to accept interaction as a given (with no apparent explanation). A miracle, if you like.
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 7. Anti-Physicalism / c. Knowledge argument
Mary acquires new concepts; she previously thought about the same property using material concepts
     Full Idea: While there is indeed a before-after difference in Mary, this is just a matter of coming to think in new ways, and acquiring a new concept. There is no new experiential property. She could think about the property perfectly well, using material concepts.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 2.2)
     A reaction: I think it is better to talk of Mary encountering a new mode of experiencing something, just as experience becomes blurred when glasses are removed. No one acquires new 'knowledge' of blurred objects when they remove their glasses.
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 1. Thought
Thinking about a thing doesn't require activating it
     Full Idea: Thinking about something doesn't require activating some version of it.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], Intro §5)
     A reaction: E.g. I can discuss 'red' without visualising it. This observation strikes me as simple and basic to what thinking is. Papineau thinks that confusion about this simple point leads to major errors in the philosophy of mind.
Consciousness affects bodily movement, so thoughts must be material states
     Full Idea: Conscious states clearly affect our bodily movements. But surely anything that so produces a material effect must itself be a material state.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], Intro §6)
     A reaction: This is Papineau's simplest possible statement of what he calls the Causal Argument, which he considers to be a knock-down argument for materialism. I agree, but it is really only an intuition. You never know...
18. Thought / B. Mechanics of Thought / 5. Mental Files
There is a single file per object, memorised, reactivated, consolidated and expanded
     Full Idea: For Papineau there is just one file, which is initialised on the first encounter with the object, stored in memory, reactivated on further encounters, and consolidated with familiarity. Accumulation of information shows it is the same file.
     From: report of David Papineau (Phenomenal and Perceptual Concepts [2006]) by François Recanati - Mental Files 7.2
     A reaction: Recanati attempts to refute this view, defending a more complex taxonomy of files. I'm sympathetic to Papineau, as distinct shift in file type doesn't sound very plausible. Simplicity suggests Papineau as a better starting-point.
18. Thought / C. Content / 6. Broad Content
Most reductive accounts of representation imply broad content
     Full Idea: Broadness of content is sometimes defended purely on intuitive grounds, but it is also a corollary of most reductive accounts of representation, including standard teleosemantic and causal accounts.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002])
     A reaction: (For Causal and Teleosemantic views, see Idea 7871, Idea 7872) Presumably a causal/purposeful relationship would only make sense if both halves of the relationship were specified. I suspect this is obscured by over-simplifications. Cf Idea 6634!
If content hinges on matters outside of you, how can it causally influence your actions?
     Full Idea: How can 'broad contents', which hinge on matters outside your head, exert a causal influence on your bodily movements? Surely your bodily movements are causally influenced solely by matters inside your skin, not by how matters are outside you.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 1.4)
     A reaction: This supports my suspicion that there are some extremely simplistic interpretations of the Twin Earth case floating around. If Putnam means by 'elm' whatever experts mean, it is still his idea of what counts as an expert view.
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 5. Meaning as Verification
Verificationists tend to infer indefinite answers from undecidable questions
     Full Idea: The verificationist sin is to infer an indefiniteness of answers immediately from the undecidability of questions.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 7.02)
     A reaction: This remark is aimed at Dummett's anti-realism. It strikes me that what is being described really is a sort of arrogance, in believing that reality can somehow be inferred from studying the epistemic apparatus of a few miserable little mammals.
Verificationism about concepts means you can't deny a theory, because you can't have the concept
     Full Idea: Verificationism about concepts implies that thinkers will not share concepts with adherents of theories they reject. Those who reject the phlogiston theory will not possess the same concept as adherents, so cannot say 'there is no phlogiston'.
     From: David Papineau (Philosophical Insignificance of A Priori Knowledge [2010], §6)
     A reaction: The point seems to be more general - that it is hard to see how you can have a concept of anything which doesn't actually exist, if the concept is meant to rest on some sort of empirical verification.
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 2. Semantics
Teleosemantics equates meaning with the item the concept is intended to track
     Full Idea: The teleosemantic view of perceptual concepts is that the referential value of the concept can be equated with those items which it is the biological function of the concept to track.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 4.6)
     A reaction: This seems to work quite nicely for 'bird', which is concept which is used to track birds. It might even work for complex entities, or abstract entities, or even negative entities. Imagination must play a role in that last one.
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 8. Possible Worlds Semantics
Truth conditions in possible worlds can't handle statements about impossibilities
     Full Idea: Basing content on possible worlds that result in truth leaves no room for thoughts about genuine impossibilities, since there are not possible worlds whose actuality would make an 'impossible thought' true.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 3.7)
     A reaction: Negative existentials like 'no rabbits in this room' and 'no snakes in this room' seem to have the same truth conditions as well. I suppose the sentences must be translated into a logical form which suits the theory, with negation stuck on the end.
Thought content is possible worlds that make the thought true; if that includes the actual world, it's true
     Full Idea: The content of our thoughts can be equated with those possible worlds whose actuality would make the thought true. On this model, a true thought is one whose content includes the actual world, while a false thought is one whose content does not.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 3.7)
     A reaction: This is the possible worlds semantics version of truth conditions theories of meaning. Papineau offers a nice difficulty for the theory (Idea 7869). Dummett says the whole approach is circular, because content precedes truth.
19. Language / F. Communication / 4. Private Language
The Private Language argument only means people may misjudge their experiences
     Full Idea: I take the moral of the Private Language argument to be that there must be room for error in people's judgements about their experiences, not that those judgements must necessarily be expressed in a language used by a community.
     From: David Papineau (Philosophical Naturalism [1993], 4.4 n10)
     A reaction: These two readings don't seem to be in conflict, and the argument must have something to say about the communal nature of thought expressed in language. Language imposes introspection on us?
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 8. Particular Causation / b. Causal relata
Causation is based on either events, or facts, or states of affairs
     Full Idea: Any serious theory of the mind-brain must explain whether it thinks of causation in terms of events, facts, or states of affairs.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], Intro §6)
     A reaction: I instantly prefer events, simply because they can be specified a little more precisely than the other two. Since cause has a direction in time, it would be nice to specify the times of its components, and events have times.
Causes are instantiations of properties by particulars, or they are themselves basic particulars
     Full Idea: One view of causes is that they are facts, or instantiations of properties (maybe by particulars, making them 'Kim-events'); the alternative view is that causes themselves are basic particulars ('Davidson-events').
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], 1.3)
     A reaction: Like Papineau, I incline to the Kim view. It is too easy for philosophers to treat key ideas as unanalysable axioms of thought. An event typically has components and features. It is a contingent matter whether there are any events.
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 10. Closure of Physics
The completeness of physics cannot be proved
     Full Idea: There is no knock down argument for the completeness of physics.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], App 7)
     A reaction: This is commendably honest, given that he pins his view of the mind on it. He makes the case sound overwhelming, though. The thing which would breach the completeness is like the Loch Ness monster - you can't prove it isn't there, if it hides.
Determinism is possible without a complete physics, if mental forces play a role
     Full Idea: We can accept determinism without accepting physical determinism, and so without accepting the completeness of physics. ...We can have a deterministic model in which sui generis mental forces play an essential role.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], App 3)
     A reaction: Papineau cites (on p.241) the 18th century biologist Robert Whytt as an example of this view.
Modern biological research, especially into the cell, has revealed no special new natural forces
     Full Idea: In the 1950s a great deal became known about biochemical and neurophysiological processes, especially at the level of the cell, and none of it gave any evidence for the existence of special forces not found elsewhere in nature.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], A 6)
     A reaction: Papineau says that this plus the conservation of energy makes the closure of physics faily conclusive. I would think the similar failure of modern research into the brain to find evidence of weird forces strengthens the case.
27. Natural Reality / A. Classical Physics / 2. Thermodynamics / c. Conservation of energy
Quantum 'wave collapses' seem to violate conservation of energy
     Full Idea: The conservation of energy is apparently violated by 'wave collapses' in quantum systems.
     From: David Papineau (Thinking about Consciousness [2002], A 7 n15)
     A reaction: One could imagine it being a little harder to verify the conservation of energy at the quantum levels, where particles and anti-particles pop in and out of existence. I've been wondering why there is some suspicion of collapses.