Ideas of John Searle, by Theme

[American, b.1932, Born in Denver. Studied in Oxford. Professor at the University of California.]

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2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 1. On Reason
Theory involves accepting conclusions, and so is a special case of practical reason
Entailment and validity are relations, but inference is a human activity
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 8. Naturalising Reason
Rationality is built into the intentionality of the mind, and its means of expression
Rationality is the way we coordinate our intentionality
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 1. Correspondence Truth
Correspondence to the facts HAS to be the aim of enquiry
5. Theory of Logic / A. Overview of Logic / 1. Overview of Logic
If complex logic requires rules, then so does basic logic
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / b. Names as descriptive
We don't normally think of names as having senses (e.g. we don't give definitions of them)
How can a proper name be correlated with its object if it hasn't got a sense?
'Aristotle' means more than just 'an object that was christened "Aristotle"'
Reference for proper names presupposes a set of uniquely referring descriptions
Proper names are logically connected with their characteristics, in a loose way
5. Theory of Logic / I. Semantics of Logic / 1. Semantics of Logic
In real reasoning semantics gives validity, not syntax
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 2. Reduction
Reduction can be of things, properties, ideas or causes
Reduction is either by elimination, or by explanation
Eliminative reduction needs a gap between appearance and reality, as in sunsets
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 5. Supervenience / b. Types of supervenience
Users of 'supervenience' blur its causal and constitutive meanings
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 5. Supervenience / c. Significance of supervenience
Solidity in a piston is integral to its structure, not supervenient [Maslin]
Is supervenience just causality? [Maslin]
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 5. Physicalism
Reality is entirely particles in force fields
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 3. Types of Properties
A property is 'emergent' if it is caused by elements of a system, when the elements lack the property
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 7. Emergent Properties
Some properties depend on components, others on their relations
Fully 'emergent' properties contradict our whole theory of causation
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / c. Aim of beliefs
We can't understand something as a lie if beliefs aren't commitment to truth
Our beliefs are about things, not propositions (which are the content of the belief)
A belief is a commitment to truth
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / e. Belief holism
Beliefs only make sense as part of a network of other beliefs
Beliefs are part of a network, and also exist against a background
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 5. The Cogito
Thinking must involve a self, not just an "it"
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 5. Interpretation
Perception is a function of expectation
12. Knowledge Sources / E. Direct Knowledge / 3. Memory
Memory is mainly a guide for current performance
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 1. Justification / a. Justification issues
Reasons can either be facts in the world, or intentional states
13. Knowledge Criteria / C. External Justification / 1. External Justification
In the past people had a reason not to smoke, but didn't realise it
13. Knowledge Criteria / C. External Justification / 2. Causal Justification
Causes (usually events) are not the same as reasons (which are never events)
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / c. Knowing other minds
We don't have a "theory" that other people have minds
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / d. Other minds by analogy
Other minds are not inferred by analogy, but are our best explanation
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 5. Unity of Mind
We experience unity at an instant and across time
Explanation of how we unify our mental stimuli into a single experience is the 'binding problem'
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / a. Consciousness
A system is either conscious or it isn't, though the intensity varies a lot
Consciousness has a first-person ontology, which only exists from a subjective viewpoint
There isn't one consciousness (information-processing) which can be investigated, and another (phenomenal) which can't
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / b. Essence of consciousness
The mind experiences space, but it is not experienced as spatial
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / d. Purpose of consciousness
Conscious creatures seem able to discriminate better
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 2. Unconscious Mind
Unconscious thoughts are those capable of causing conscious ones
Consciousness results directly from brain processes, not from some intermediary like information
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 4. Intentionality / a. Nature of intentionality
Either there is intrinsic intentionality, or everything has it
Water flowing downhill can be described as if it had intentionality
Intentional phenomena only make sense within a background
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 4. Intentionality / b. Intentionality theories
Intentionality is defined in terms of representation
Consciousness is essential and basic to intentionality
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 5. Qualia / a. Nature of qualia
The use of 'qualia' seems to imply that consciousness and qualia are separate
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 5. Qualia / b. Qualia and intentionality
Pain is not intentional, because it does not represent anything beyond itself
16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 2. Persons as Responsible
Being held responsible for past actions makes no sense without personal identity
16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 3. Persons as Reasoners
Giving reasons for action requires reference to a self
A 'self' must be capable of conscious reasonings about action
An intentional, acting, rational being must have a self
16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 4. Persons as Agents
Action requires a self, even though perception doesn't
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 1. Self and Consciousness
A self must at least be capable of consciousness
Selfs are conscious, enduring, reasonable, active, free, and responsible
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 4. Presupposition of Self
The self is neither an experience nor a thing experienced
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 5. Self as Associations
The bundle must also have agency in order to act, and a self to act rationally
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 1. Introspection
Neither introspection nor privileged access makes sense
Introspection is just thinking about mental states, not a special sort of vision
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 3. Limits of Introspection
I cannot observe my own subjectivity
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 4. For Free Will
We freely decide whether to make a reason for action effective
Free will is most obvious when we choose between several reasons for an action
Rational decision making presupposes free will
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 2. Interactionism
Mind and brain don't interact if they are the same
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 7. Zombies
Without internal content, a zombie's full behaviour couldn't be explained
17. Mind and Body / B. Behaviourism / 4. Behaviourism Critique
Mental states only relate to behaviour contingently, not necessarily
Wanting H2O only differs from wanting water in its mental component
17. Mind and Body / C. Functionalism / 1. Functionalism
Functionalists like the externalist causal theory of reference
17. Mind and Body / C. Functionalism / 7. Chinese Room
Maybe understanding doesn't need consciousness, despite what Searle seems to think [Chalmers]
A program won't contain understanding if it is small enough to imagine [Dennett]
If bigger and bigger brain parts can't understand, how can a whole brain? [Dennett]
A program for Chinese translation doesn't need to understand Chinese
I now think syntax is not in the physics, but in the eye of the beholder
17. Mind and Body / C. Functionalism / 8. Functionalism critique
Computation presupposes consciousness
If we are computers, who is the user?
17. Mind and Body / D. Property Dualism / 1. Reductionism critique
Consciousness has a first-person ontology, so it cannot be reduced without omitting something
17. Mind and Body / D. Property Dualism / 3. Property Dualism
Property dualism denies reductionism
Property dualists tend to find the mind-body problem baffling
Consciousness is a brain property as liquidity is a water property
Property dualism is the reappearance of Cartesianism
17. Mind and Body / D. Property Dualism / 4. Emergentism
There is non-event causation between mind and brain, as between a table and its solidity
17. Mind and Body / D. Property Dualism / 5. Supervenience of mind
Mind and brain are supervenient in respect of cause and effect
If mind-brain supervenience isn't causal, this implies epiphenomenalism
Mental events can cause even though supervenient, like the solidity of a piston
Upwards mental causation makes 'supervenience' irrelevant
17. Mind and Body / D. Property Dualism / 6. Mysterianism
Consciousness seems indefinable by conditions or categories
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 1. Physical Mind
The pattern of molecules in the sea is much more complex than the complexity of brain neurons
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 2. Reduction of Mind
Searle argues that biology explains consciousness, but physics won't explain biology [Kriegel/Williford]
If mind is caused by brain, does this mean mind IS brain?
Can the homunculus fallacy be beaten by recursive decomposition?
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 7. Anti-Physicalism / a. Physicalism critique
If tree rings contain information about age, then age contains information about rings
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 7. Anti-Physicalism / b. Multiple realisability
If mind is multiply realisable, it is possible that anything could realise it
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 5. Folk Psychology
We don't postulate folk psychology, we experience it
18. Thought / B. Mechanics of Thought / 6. Artificial Thought / b. Turing Machines
Computation isn't a natural phenomenon, it is a way of seeing phenomena
18. Thought / C. Content / 1. Content
Content is much more than just sentence meaning
18. Thought / C. Content / 6. Broad Content
There is no such thing as 'wide content'
18. Thought / C. Content / 7. Narrow Content
We explain behaviour in terms of actual internal representations in the agent
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 1. Meaning
Meaning is derived intentionality
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 2. Meaning as Mental
Philosophy of language is a branch of philosophy of mind
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 1. Syntax
Universal grammar doesn't help us explain anything
19. Language / F. Communication / 6. Interpreting Language / b. Indeterminate translation
Shared Background makes translation possible, though variation makes it hard
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 1. Acting on Desires
Preferences can result from deliberation, not just precede it
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 3. Acting on Reason / a. Practical reason
We don't accept practical reasoning if the conclusion is unpalatable
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 3. Acting on Reason / b. Intellectualism
The essence of humanity is desire-independent reasons for action
Only an internal reason can actually motivate the agent to act
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / b. Fact and value
If it is true, you ought to believe it
If this is a man, you ought to accept similar things as men
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 3. Promise Keeping
Promises hold because I give myself a reason, not because it is an institution
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 2. Duty
'Ought' implies that there is a reason to do something
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 2. Natural Purpose / c. Purpose denied
Chemistry entirely explains plant behaviour
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 3. Natural Function
The function of a heart depends on what we want it to do
27. Natural Reality / F. Biology / 3. Evolution
Mind involves fighting, fleeing, feeding and fornicating
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 4. Divine Contradictions
You can only know the limits of knowledge if you know the other side of the limit