Ideas of Gilbert Harman, by Theme

[American, b.1938, Professor at Princeton University.]

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2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 1. On Reason
Inference is never a conscious process
The rules of reasoning are not the rules of logic
It is a principle of reasoning not to clutter your mind with trivialities
If there is a great cost to avoiding inconsistency, we learn to reason our way around it
Logic has little relevance to reasoning, except when logical conclusions are immediate
You can be rational with undetected or minor inconsistencies
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 4. Aims of Reason
Reasoning might be defined in terms of its functional role, which is to produce knowledge
Implication just accumulates conclusions, but inference may also revise our views
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 6. Coherence
Reasoning aims at increasing explanatory coherence
Reason conservatively: stick to your beliefs, and prefer reasoning that preserves most of them
A coherent conceptual scheme contains best explanations of most of your beliefs
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 9. Limits of Reason
If you believe that some of your beliefs are false, then at least one of your beliefs IS false
5. Theory of Logic / A. Overview of Logic / 1. Overview of Logic
Any two states are logically linked, by being entailed by their conjunction
We have a theory of logic (implication and inconsistency), but not of inference or reasoning
5. Theory of Logic / A. Overview of Logic / 6. Classical Logic
Deductive logic is the only logic there is
5. Theory of Logic / B. Logical Consequence / 5. Modus Ponens
You don't have to accept the conclusion of a valid argument
5. Theory of Logic / E. Structures of Logic / 1. Logical Form
Our underlying predicates represent words in the language, not universal concepts
Logical form is the part of a sentence structure which involves logical elements
A theory of truth in a language must involve a theory of logical form
5. Theory of Logic / E. Structures of Logic / 2. Logical Connectives / d. and
I might accept P and Q as likely, but reject P-and-Q as unlikely
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 2. Reality
Reality is the overlap of true complete theories
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 6. Probability
The Gambler's Fallacy (ten blacks, so red is due) overemphasises the early part of a sequence
High probability premises need not imply high probability conclusions
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / c. Aim of beliefs
We strongly desire to believe what is true, even though logic does not require it
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / e. Belief holism
You have to reaffirm all your beliefs when you make a logical inference
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 8. A Priori as Analytic
Analyticity is postulated because we can't imagine some things being true, but we may just lack imagination
Only lack of imagination makes us think that 'cats are animals' is analytic
12. Knowledge Sources / E. Direct Knowledge / 3. Memory
Memories are not just preserved, they are constantly reinferred
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 3. Internal or External / b. Pro-externalism
People's reasons for belief are rarely conscious
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 3. Evidentialism / a. Evidence
We don't distinguish between accepting, and accepting as evidence
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 5. Coherentism / a. Coherence as justification
In negative coherence theories, beliefs are prima facie justified, and don't need initial reasons
In revision of belief, we need to keep track of justifications for foundations, but not for coherence
Coherence is intelligible connections, especially one element explaining another
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 5. Coherentism / b. Pro-coherentism
Coherence avoids scepticism, because it doesn't rely on unprovable foundations
13. Knowledge Criteria / C. External Justification / 8. Social Justification
If you would deny a truth if you know the full evidence, then knowledge has social aspects
14. Science / C. Induction / 1. Induction
Enumerative induction is inference to the best explanation
14. Science / C. Induction / 2. Aims of Induction
Induction is an attempt to increase the coherence of our explanations
14. Science / C. Induction / 3. Limits of Induction
Induction is 'defeasible', since additional information can invalidate it
14. Science / C. Induction / 4. Reason in Induction
All reasoning is inductive, and deduction only concerns implication
14. Science / D. Explanation / 3. Best Explanation / a. Best explanation
Best Explanation is the core notion of epistemology
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 6. Anti-Individualism
We can only describe mental attitudes in relation to the external world
There is no natural border between inner and outer
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 5. Qualia / b. Qualia and intentionality
Qualities of experience are just representational aspects of experience ('Representationalism')
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 5. Qualia / c. Explaining qualia
The way things look is a relational matter, not an intrinsic matter
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 2. Self-Knowledge
We see ourselves in the world as a map
17. Mind and Body / B. Behaviourism / 2. Potential Behaviour
Defining dispositions is circular
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 4. Connectionism
Could a cloud have a headache if its particles formed into the right pattern?
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 6. Rationality
Ordinary rationality is conservative, starting from where your beliefs currently are
18. Thought / B. Mechanics of Thought / 4. Language of Thought
Are there any meanings apart from in a language?
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 5. Concepts and Language / a. Concepts and language
Concepts in thought have content, but not meaning, which requires communication
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 1. Meaning
Speech acts, communication, representation and truth form a single theory
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 6. Meaning as Use
Take meaning to be use in calculation with concepts, rather than in communication
The use theory attaches meanings to words, not to sentences
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 7. Meaning Holism / c. Meaning by Role
Some regard conceptual role semantics as an entirely internal matter
Meaning from use of thoughts, constructed from concepts, which have a role relating to reality
The content of thought is relations, between mental states, things in the world, and contexts
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 8. Synonymy
There is only similarity in meaning, never sameness in meaning
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 9. Ambiguity
Ambiguity is when different underlying truth-conditional structures have the same surface form
19. Language / B. Assigning Meanings / 6. Truth-Conditions Semantics
Truth in a language is explained by how the structural elements of a sentence contribute to its truth conditions
19. Language / D. Propositions / 1. Propositions
Sentences are different from propositions, since two sentences can express one proposition
19. Language / E. Analyticity / 4. Analytic/Synthetic Critique
The analytic/synthetic distinction is a silly division of thought into encyclopaedia and dictionary
19. Language / F. Communication / 3. Denial
If one proposition negates the other, which is the negative one?
19. Language / F. Communication / 6. Interpreting Language / a. Translation
Mastery of a language requires thinking, and not just communication
19. Language / F. Communication / 6. Interpreting Language / b. Indeterminate translation
Many predicates totally resist translation, so a universal underlying structure to languages is unlikely
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / d. Good as virtue
Basing ethics on flourishing makes it consequentialist, as actions are judged by contributing to it
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / g. Consequentialism
Maybe consequentialism is a critique of ordinary morality, rather than describing it
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / b. Eudaimonia
What counts as 'flourishing' must be relative to various sets of values
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / e. Character
Maybe there is no such thing as character, and the virtues and vices said to accompany it
If a person's two acts of timidity have different explanations, they are not one character trait
Virtue ethics might involve judgements about the virtues of actions, rather than character