Ideas of Colin McGinn, by Theme

[British, b.1950, Born in Blackpool. University of Manchester, then London, then Oxford, then Rutgers, then NYU, then Miami U.]

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1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 5. Metaphysics beyond Science
Philosophy is a magnificent failure in its attempt to overstep the limits of our knowledge
2. Reason / D. Definition / 1. Definitions
Definitions identify two concepts, so they presuppose identity
2. Reason / F. Fallacies / 2. Infinite Regress
Regresses are only vicious in the context of an explanation
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 4. Uses of Truth
Truth is a method of deducing facts from propositions
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 3. Correspondence Truth critique
'Snow does not fall' corresponds to snow does fall
The idea of truth is built into the idea of correspondence
3. Truth / D. Coherence Truth / 2. Coherence Truth Critique
The coherence theory of truth implies idealism, because facts are just coherent beliefs
3. Truth / H. Deflationary Truth / 3. Minimalist Truth
Without the disquotation device for truth, you could never form beliefs from others' testimony
Truth is the property of propositions that makes it possible to deduce facts
5. Theory of Logic / D. Assumptions for Logic / 4. Identity in Logic
In 'x is F and x is G' we must assume the identity of x in the two statements
Both non-contradiction and excluded middle need identity in their formulation
Identity is unitary, indefinable, fundamental and a genuine relation
5. Theory of Logic / E. Structures of Logic / 1. Logical Form
Thoughts have a dual aspect: as they seem to introspection, and their underlying logical reality
5. Theory of Logic / G. Quantification / 1. Quantification
The quantifier is overrated as an analytical tool
Existential quantifiers just express the quantity of things, leaving existence to the predicate 'exists'
5. Theory of Logic / G. Quantification / 3. Objectual Quantification
'Partial quantifier' would be a better name than 'existential quantifier', as no existence would be implied
5. Theory of Logic / G. Quantification / 7. Unorthodox Quantification
We need an Intentional Quantifier ("some of the things we talk about.."), so existence goes into the proposition
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 1. Nature of Existence
Existence is a primary quality, non-existence a secondary quality
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 6. Criterion for Existence
Existence can't be analysed as instantiating a property, as instantiation requires existence
We can't analyse the sentence 'something exists' in terms of instantiated properties
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 1. Realism
To explain object qualities, primary qualities must be more than mere sources of experience
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 2. Reality
If causal power is the test for reality, that will exclude necessities and possibilities
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 7. Facts / b. Types of fact
Facts are object-plus-extension, or property-plus-set-of-properties, or object-plus-property
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 10. Beginning of an Object
Suppose a world where I'm from different gametes; add my gametes; which one is more me?
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 12. Origin as Essential
McGinn falsely claims necessity of origin is a special case of the necessity of identity [Forbes,G]
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 1. Concept of Identity
Identity propositions are not always tautological, and have a key epistemic role
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 2. Defining Identity
Identity is as basic as any concept could ever be
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 4. Type Identity
Type-identity is close similarity in qualities
Qualitative identity is really numerical identity of properties
Qualitative identity can be analysed into numerical identity of the type involved
It is best to drop types of identity, and speak of 'identity' or 'resemblance'
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 5. Self-Identity
Sherlock Holmes does not exist, but he is self-identical
Existence is a property of all objects, but less universal than self-identity, which covers even conceivable objects
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 6. Identity between Objects
All identity is necessary, though identity statements can be contingently true
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 8. Leibniz's Law
Leibniz's Law says 'x = y iff for all P, Px iff Py'
Leibniz's Law presupposes the notion of property identity
Leibniz's Law is so fundamental that it almost defines the concept of identity
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 5. Modality from Actuality
Modality is not objects or properties, but the type of binding of objects to properties
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 1. Possible Worlds / b. Impossible worlds
If 'possible' is explained as quantification across worlds, there must be possible worlds
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / b. Elements of beliefs
Beliefs are states of the head that explain behaviour, and also items with referential truth-conditions
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / b. Primary/secondary
Being red simply consists in looking red
Relativity means differing secondary perceptions are not real disagreements
Phenomenalism is correct for secondary qualities, so scepticism is there impossible
Maybe all possible sense experience must involve both secondary and primary qualities
You understood being red if you know the experience involved; not so with thngs being square
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / c. Primary qualities
You don't need to know how a square thing looks or feels to understand squareness
Touch doesn't provide direct experience of primary qualities, because touch feels temperature
We can perceive objectively, because primary qualities are not mind-created
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / d. Secondary qualities
Lockean secondary qualities (unlike primaries) produce particular sensory experiences
Could there be a mind which lacked secondary quality perception?
Secondary qualities contain information; their variety would be superfluous otherwise
The utility theory says secondary qualities give information useful to human beings
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 3. Representation
We see objects 'directly' by representing them
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 5. Empiricism Critique
Necessity and possibility are big threats to the empiricist view of knowledge
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 1. Scepticism
Scepticism about reality is possible because existence isn't part of appearances
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 2. Unconscious Mind
If all mental life were conscious, we would be unable to see things, or to process speech
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 1. Faculties
Mental modules for language, social, action, theory, space, emotion
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 1. Nature of Free Will
Free will is mental causation in action
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 3. Panpsychism
Brains aren't made of anything special, suggesting panpsychism
17. Mind and Body / D. Property Dualism / 6. Mysterianism
McGinn invites surrender, by saying it is hopeless trying to imagine conscious machines [Dennett]
Examining mind sees no brain; examining brain sees no mind
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 7. Anti-Physicalism / b. Multiple realisability
Multiple realisability rules out hidden essences and experts as the source of water- and gold-concepts
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 9. Indexical Thought
The indexical perspective is subjective, incorrigible and constant
Indexical thought is in relation to my self-consciousness
Indexicals do not figure in theories of physics, because they are not explanatory causes
Indexical concepts are indispensable, as we need them for the power to act
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 3. Meaning as Speaker's Intention
If meaning is speaker's intentions, it can be reduced to propositional attitudes, and philosophy of mind
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 5. Fregean Semantics
Semantics should not be based on set-membership, but on instantiation of properties in objects
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 6. Truth-Conditions Semantics
There is information if there are symbols which refer, and which can combine into a truth or falsehood
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 7. Extensional Semantics
Clearly predicates have extensions (applicable objects), but are the extensions part of their meaning?
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 9. Indexical Semantics
I can know indexical truths a priori, unlike their non-indexical paraphrases
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 4. Naturalised causation
Causation in the material world is energy-transfer, of motion, electricity or gravity
28. God / B. Proving God / 2. Proofs of Reason / b. Ontological Proof critique
If Satan is the most imperfect conceivable being, he must have non-existence
I think the fault of the Ontological Argument is taking the original idea to be well-defined