All philosophical debates not due to ignorance of base truths or our imperfect rationality are indeterminate.

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1 PHIL 5983: Naturalness and Fundamentality Seminar Prof. Funkhouser Spring 2017 Week 11: Chalmers, Constructing the World Notes (Chapters 6-7, Twelfth Excursus) Chapter * This chapter is about the hard cases like morality, modality, and math. Carnap, and others, are often comically brief in accounting for these. Chalmers will only gesture at plausible ways in which the domain could be scrutable from PQI. In general, there are five possibilities: rationalism (a priori scrutability), empiricism (a posteriori scrutability), rejection, indeterminism, and expansionism. Chalmers wants few, if any, expansions of PQI. 6.2 * Perhaps some mathematical truths (e.g., Godelian statements ) are not even ideally knowable. But, they might be knowable under some idealization or simply indeterminate. Chalmers is skeptical that there are truly unknowable truths of arithmetic, say, if we allow for infinite, parallel processing. And concerning set theory, Chalmers thinks it is more plausible that the controversial cases have indeterminate truth values. And logic is handled by the same strategy: either ideally knowable or indeterminate. 6.3 * Moral truths should be scrutable from non-moral truths: given full enough knowledge of the nonmoral properties of a situation, we are in a position to know its moral properties. (264) It seems implausible that the moral truths could be unknowable, or that they require further empirical justification. Still, couldn t there be moral disagreement with perfect non-moral agreement even among ideal reasoners? Chalmers thinks that, if so, this would support moral anti-realism or relativism. Hardline versions of moral realism that radically separate the moral truths from the non-moral truths could be incompatible with scrutability, though. What about moral sensibility views, though? These might require that the ideal reasoner possesses faculties or abilities besides rationality e.g., appropriate emotional responsiveness. 6.4 * PQI already contains a lot of existence claims. But, other ontological claims might not be explicitly contained in this base e.g., concerning abstract objects or macro-objects. In a lightweight sense, these existence claims are scrutable from PQI. In a heavyweight sense, Chalmers claims that they are indeterminate (somewhat in the spirit of Carnap (1950)). If there are heavyweight ontological truths, then we can add ontological principles to the base to cover them. The base at least must include all fundamental properties and entities. 6.5 * What about other philosophical debates, like Russell vs. Frege or the internalism/externalism debate in philosophy of mind? Again, we have five options, plus pluralism (as discussed in his Verbal Disputes ). 1

2 Some may find the scrutability thesis particularly implausible where philosophy is concerned, given the extent of disagreement even among highly rational philosophers. Here is it worth keeping in mind that we are far from ideal, however, and that our experience of disagreement as non-ideal reasoners is at best weak evidence of what would happen on ideal reflection. And again, it is worth noting that perhaps the deepest debates in philosophy concern the normative and the ontological. In these cases, at worst, if relevant normative and ontological truths are allowed in the base, the disagreements will plausibly be settled by base truths. (272) All philosophical debates not due to ignorance of base truths or our imperfect rationality are indeterminate. 6.6 * Nomological modality is built into PQI. And for metaphysical modality (e.g., necessarily, water = H 2 O), all modal truths are a priori scrutable from non-modal truths. 6.7 * Chalmers denies that we need to put truths about intentional mental states like belief and desire into the base. Instead, they are scrutable from P and Q. Surely all truths about belief can be derived from knowledge of the subject s behavior, the underlying mechanisms generating behavior, the phenomenology, and environment. Phenomenal truths, which are in the compact base, are also intentional. 6.8 * Social truths say, about friendships, laws, or money are scrutable from intentional attitudes. So, if beliefs, desires, and the like are scrutable from PTQI, then so are the social truths. 6.9 * For certain words we defer to others to provide the meanings. How can truths stated in such terms then be scrutable from PQTI? No, because knowledge of how others use terms is included in the base * What about names? Kripke s epistemological argument seemed to show that one could successfully use a name without knowing any of the referent s defining properties. But, as before, once we have knowledge of what everyone else refers to in using those names, the referent is scrutable for our subject as well * Note that Chalmers has appealed to metalinguistic truths at various points. Fortunately, he is confident that these are scrutable from Cosmoscope data plus, if necessary, the intentional truths. Facts about linguistic usage and causal connections should settle most of this. 2

3 6.12 * Do we need to add indexical truths besides I and now? Here can reduce to location I am now. That is also scrutable from experiential states and causal relations. We may need experiential demonstratives, though * Vagueness is handled by limiting the scrutability thesis to determinate truths. An epistemic theory of vagueness like Williamson s is problematic, because it holds that there are truths (say, about whether a particular person is tall) that are unknowable (i.e., inscrutable from PQTI). But Chalmers denies the epistemic theory of vagueness. In fact, he thinks its intuitive implausibility is grounded in something like a commitment to scrutability * Truths about secondary qualities are scrutable from truths about perceptual experiences and the physical properties of the objects perceived * Should the compact base include macrophysical truths, or only microphysical truths? On classical physics, truths about macrophysical objects and properties are straightforwardly scrutable from truths about their fundamental parts. Relativity does not complicate matters much the macrophysical truths are simply indexed to reference frames. Weak emergence macro-level unpredictability in practice, but not in principle is compatible with scrutability from a microphysical base. Strong emergence involves unpredictability in principle. If strong emergence is true, then we would need to expand beyond the microphysical base. Chalmers thinks that consciousness is the only strongly emergent phenomenon. On some interpretations of quantum mechanics (e.g., collapse) we might need to expand the base, but not so for other interpretations (e.g., Bohmian) * Do we need to include counterfactual truths in the compact base? It seems that macrophysical counterfactuals are scrutable from microphysical counterfactuals (which are scrutable from the laws of nature). So too for counterfactual truths about phenomenal states, given that they nomologically supervene on microphysical truths * Everything seems to be scrutable, then, from PQTI- (i.e., PQTI, minus macrophysical and counterfactual truths). Twelfth Excursus * The logical empiricists advocated the unity of science: that all empirical statements can be stated in physical vocabulary, and that there is a shared methodology among the sciences. That is one gloss, at least. But Chalmers distinguishes the following five varieties, which are progressively weaker: imperialism, reductionism, connectivity, similarity, and consistency. The 3

4 logical empiricists are traditionally assigned to one of the first two varieties. But, the weaker three are probably more common now. Scrutability theses which privilege the microphysical seem committed to reductionism (or at least connectivity). But what things are to be reduced laws? methods? true sentences? And how strong does the reduction have to be metaphysical? semantic? The Microphysical Scrutability thesis can be seen as a unity thesis involving epistemological conditional relations among truths: the truths in the languages of all correct theories are epistemologically deducible from the truths of fundamental physics. (302) But Chalmers denies that this commits one to definitional reduction, as required on classical conceptions of reduction. For example, economic predicates need not be definable in physical terms. Scrutability only requires one-way conditionals (from physical truth to economic truth), not the two-way conditionals of definitions. Thus, it can handle multiple realizability. Microphysical Scrutability can do away with bridge laws altogether. (Anyway, bridge laws are even compatible with dualism, so they do not secure unity.) Also, Microphysical Scrutability does not entail that the higher-level laws are deducible from the laws of physics. Though, they are deducible from the laws of physics plus microphysical truths. By drawing on these lower level truths, scrutability theses can account for the contingency of special science laws (constants, properties, etc.). * There are many different senses of reduction, but he latches onto transparent bottom-up explanation in particular. The idea is that all the higher-level truths are transparent once the lower-level truths are set. Transparency here amounts to there being no mystery about both what higher-level truths obtain and why they obtain. Since Chalmers thinks that the phenomenal truths are not transparent given the physical truths, he thinks that they are not scrutable/reducible to the physical. This differs from, say, the water/h 2 O case. Transparent explanations might be mechanistic: functionalizing the phenomena, and then looking for the mechanism that performs that function (e.g., gene/dna). Scrutability is compatible with the autonomy of the special sciences. A derivation of economic phenomena from microphysical conditions is not a very good explanation, for example. The higher level explanation has the following advantages: far simpler, more systematic, more predictive, and more useful. (309) Chalmers favor explanatory pluralism. Chapter * How small can we make the scrutability base? Chalmers thinks we can make it even more compact than PQTI

5 * Heuristics: Does knowing the S-truths put one in a position to know the T-truths? Think of Mary, the color scientist. Conceivability is another heuristic: Can we conceive of the negation of a T-truth conjoined with the S-truths? Chalmers then invokes coherent skeptical hypotheses, like Descartes evil genius or his own zombie hypothesis. Approximate definability is also a good guide to scrutability. Finally, there is conceptual priority: If A is conceptually prior to B, then this is reason to think that B-truths are scrutable from A- truths. Finally, there is Twin-Earthability: basically, functionally equivalent speakers have different referents for the same utterance. In these cases, the truths are scrutable from environmental factors (e.g., about XYZ). 7.3 * Even microphysical terms could be eliminated from the base. These are theoretical terms that are not conceptually basic and can be reduced to something more fundamental via the Ramsey method. The more fundamental base consists of observational terms, causal/nomic terms, and mathematical/logical terms. 7.4 * Which observational terms will we need? The list will include terms for primary qualities (e.g., space, time, mass) and secondary qualities (e.g., color, sound). The secondary qualities are scrutable from the primary qualities plus the phenomenal truths. Even mass might be a functional property (e.g., that which resists acceleration) that can be reducible via the Ramsey method. 7.5 * Spatio-temporal terms are reducible if they too can be functionalized. Or else they can be taken as primitive. Chalmers favors the functionalist view even here. For example, he thinks that spatial terms are Twin-Earthable. Temporal truths, then, might be scrutable from the phenomenal and causal truths. [I am skipping over the details of this section.] 7.6 * Can we reduce the nomic (laws, causation, etc.), eliminating nomic terms from our compact base? This turns on whether the Humean or non-humean view is correct. The Humean holds that nomic truths are conclusively scrutable from the non-nomic. The non-humean denies this. We can use the conceivability heuristic to test this claim, as with Tooley s examples. Chalmers accepts the non-humean view. As such, he thinks nomic terms need to be in the compact base. 7.7 * We know that Chalmers thinks the phenomenal truths are not scrutable from P (conceivability and knowledge arguments). Still, there could be psychophysical laws, in which case phenomenal truths could be scrutable from an expanded P. 5

6 7.8 * In a deterministic world, we could eliminate terms referring to objects. These truths would be scrutable from laws and initial conditions. Things are more complicated in non-deterministic worlds. 7.9 * Do microphysical properties have intrinsic natures (quiddities), not captured by their Ramsey sentences, that need to be added to the base? If so, it seems that these would be unknowable truths (Ramseyan Humility). Chalmers offers four views on quiddities: no quiddities, thin quiddities, graspable thick quiddities, and ungraspable thick quiddities. Chalmers is sympathetic to graspable thick quiddities. Ungraspable thick quiddities go against the spirit of scrutability * Can the base get even smaller? Well, we could trim certain mathematical, logical, or metaphysical terms. But otherwise, not really * Chalmers s favored package for the base: This vocabulary uses only nomic expressions ( It is a law of nature that ), phenomenal and/or quiddistic expressions, along with logical, mathematical, indexical, and totality expressions. (357) He considers other plausible packages, noting the main choice points from this chapter. 6

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