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
Entailment and validity are relations, but inference is a human activity
Theory involves accepting conclusions, and so is a special case of practical reason
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 8. Naturalising Reason
Rationality is the way we coordinate our intentionality
Rationality is built into the intentionality of the mind, and its means of expression
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
Reference for proper names presupposes a set of uniquely referring descriptions
Proper names are logically connected with their characteristics, in a loose way
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"'
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
Is supervenience just causality?
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
A belief is a commitment to truth
Our beliefs are about things, not propositions (which are the content of the belief)
We can't understand something as a lie if beliefs aren't commitment to truth
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / e. Belief holism
Beliefs are part of a network, and also exist against a background
Beliefs only make sense as part of a network of other beliefs
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
Freud treats the unconscious as intentional and hence mental
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
Consciousness is essential and basic to intentionality
Intentionality is defined in terms of representation
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
An intentional, acting, rational being must have a self
16. Persons / B. Concept of the Self / 2. Internal Properties
A self must at least be capable of consciousness
Selfs are conscious, enduring, reasonable, active, free, and responsible
A 'self' must be capable of conscious reasonings about action
16. Persons / B. Concept of the Self / 3. External Properties
Action requires a self, even though perception doesn't
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. Undetectable Self
I cannot observe my own subjectivity
16. Persons / D. Self and Body / 3. Cartesian Ego
The self is neither an experience nor a thing experienced
16. Persons / E. Self as Mind / 4. Associated Self
Hume's 'bundle' won't distinguish one mind with ten experiences from ten minds
The bundle must also have agency in order to act, and a self to act rationally
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 1. Free Will / b. Pro-free will
We freely decide whether to make a reason for action effective
Rational decision making presupposes free will
Free will is most obvious when we choose between several reasons for an action
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
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
A program won't contain understanding if it is small enough to imagine
If bigger and bigger brain parts can't understand, how can a whole brain?
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 dualists tend to find the mind-body problem baffling
Property dualism denies reductionism
Property dualism is the reappearance of Cartesianism
Consciousness is a brain property as liquidity is a water property
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
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
Mind and brain are supervenient in respect of cause and effect
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
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 / B. 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 / f. 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. Heart of Nature / 2. Natural Purpose
Chemistry entirely explains plant behaviour
26. Natural Theory / A. Heart of Nature / 3. Natural Function
The function of a heart depends on what we want it to do
27. Natural Reality / C. 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