Again, do all of the following, in the format of a polished, persuasive essay. What is truth? Based on our readings, give a clear, detailed definition (noting for example, possible differences between the concept and the property of truth). Accurately describe each element involved. Clearly state the role truth is supposed to play in epistemology. Finally, do you find Lewis’s arguments against correspondence theory of truth persuasive? Defend your answer with reasons.  

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Content: Please choose one of the following topics:

Topic 1
Do all of the following, in the format of a polished, persuasive essay. What is a belief? Give a clear, detailed definition. Make sure that you accurately describe each element involved. Clearly state the role beliefs are supposed to play in epistemology. Finally, describe realism about belief, and contrast it with eliminativism about belief. Which of these two positions do you think is more persuasive? Defend your choice with reasons.

Topic 2
Again, do all of the following, in the format of a polished, persuasive essay. What is truth? Based on our readings, give a clear, detailed definition (noting for example, possible differences between the concept and the property of truth). Accurately describe each element involved. Clearly state the role truth is supposed to play in epistemology. Finally, do you find Lewis’s arguments against correspondence theory of truth persuasive? Defend your answer with reasons.

 

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634 the journal of philosophy I ALIEF AND BELIEF* n March 2007, 4000 feet above the floor of the Grand Canyon, a horseshoe-shaped cantilevered glass walkway was opened to the public. Extending 70 feet from the Canyon’s rim, the Grand Canyon Skywalk soon drew hundreds of visitors each day, among them New York Times reporter Edward Rothstein, who filed the following dispatch: A visitor to these stark and imposing lands of the Hualapai Indians on the western rim of the Grand Canyon knows what sensation is being promised at the journey’s climax. After driving for a half-hour over bone-jolting dirt roads … you take a shuttle bus from the parking lot … . You deposit all cameras at a security desk, slip on yellow surgical booties and stride out onto a horseshoe-shaped walkway with transparent sides and walls that extends 70 feet into space, seemingly unsupported. Below the floor’s five layers of glass (protected from scratches by the booties) can be seen the cracked, sharp-edged rock face of the canyon’s rim and a drop of thousands of feet to the chasm below. The promise is the dizzying thrill of vertigo. And indeed, last week some visitors to this steel-supported walkway anchored in rock felt precisely that. One woman, her left hand desperately grasping the 60-inch-high glass sides and the other clutching the arm of a patient security guard, didn’t dare move toward the transparent center of the walkway. The words imprinted on the $20 souvenir photographs taken of many venturesome souls herald completion of a daredevil stunt: “I did it!!!”1 Though some readers may find this story politically or aesthetically disturbing, none—I take it—find it perplexing.2 While the sarcasm of * I am grateful to the Yale University faculty lunch group for comments on a very early draft of this paper, and to audiences at Princeton University (March 2007), the Central American Philosophical Association meeting in Chicago (April 2007), and the Mind & Language Pretense Conference at University College, London ( June 2007) for excellent questions, comments, objections, and suggestions regarding the talk which served as its immediate predecessor. For more recent discussion and comments, I thank John Bargh, Paul Bloom, Richard Brooks, Carolyn Caine, David Chalmers, Greg Currie, Paul Davies, Andy Egan, Roald Nashi, Elliot Paul, Eric Schwitzgebel, Ted Sider, Jason Stanley, Zoltán Gendler Szabó, and Jonathan Weinberg. I discuss additional aspects of the notion of alief in a companion article, “Alief in Action (and Reaction),” Mind & Language, xxiii, 5 (November 2008): 552–85. 1 Rothstein, “Skywalk Review: Great Space, Glass Floor-Through, Canyon Views,” The New York Times (May 19, 2007). 2 Indeed, the story is a slight variation on the early modern “problem of the precipice,” discussed—among others—by Hume (Treatise 1.3.13.10, 148), Pascal (Pensées, 0022-362X/08/0510/634–63 ã 2008 The Journal of Philosophy, Inc. alief and belief 635 “venturesome souls” is surely well placed, and the price of the “‘I did it!!!’” photo is surely excessive, the basic phenomenon—that stepping onto a high transparent safe surface can induce feelings of vertigo—is both familiar and unmysterious.3 How should we describe the cognitive state of those who manage to stride to the Skywalk’s center? Surely they believe that the walkway will hold: no one would willingly step onto a mile-high platform if they had even a scintilla of doubt concerning its stability. But alongside that belief there is something else going on. Although the venturesome souls wholeheartedly believe that the walkway is completely safe, they also alieve something very different. The alief has roughly the following content: “Really high up, long long way down. Not a safe place to be! Get off!!”4 • In a series of ingenious studies spanning several decades, psychologist Paul Rozin has demonstrated a widespread tendency for well-educated Western adults to exhibit behaviors consonant with a commitment to the existence of “laws of sympathetic magic:”5 that “there can be a permanent transfer of properties from one object … to another by brief contact” (contagion) and that “the action taken on an object affects similar objects” (similarity).6 So, for example, subjects are reluctant to drink from a glass of juice in which a completely sterilized dead cockroach has been stirred, hesitant to wear a laundered shirt that has been previously worn by section 44) and Montaigne (Essays, Donald Frame, trans. (Stanford: University Press, 1957), p. 250). See Saul Traiger, “Reason Unhinged: Passion and the Precipice from Montaigne to Hume,” in Joyce Jenkins, Jennifer Whiting, and Chris Williams, eds., Persons and Passions: Essays in Honor of Annette Baier (Notre Dame: University Press, 2005), pp. 100–15. I discuss precipice cases in more detail in Gendler (op. cit.). 3 The physiological explanation, of course, is that there is a mismatch in input between the visual, vestibular and somatosensory systems. For discussion, see Thomas Brandt and R.B. Daroff, “The Multisensory Physiological and Pathological Vertigo Syndromes,” Annals of Neurology, vii, 3 (1980): 195–203; and Thomas Brandt, Vertigo: Its Multisensory Syndromes (New York: Springer, 1999/2003, second edition). 4 Throughout my discussion, I am using the term ‘content’ in a somewhat idiosyncratic way, for want of a better term to describe the general notion that I wish to capture. As I am using the term, content need not be propositional, and may include—as the example above makes clear—affective states and behavioral dispositions. 5 Cf. J.G. Frazer, The New Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (abridged) (New York: Macmillan, 1959; edited by T.H. Gaster, 1922; original work published 1890); Marcel Mauss, A General Theory of Magic, Robert Brain, trans. (New York: Norton, 1972; original work published 1902) (as cited in Paul Rozin, Linda Millman, and Carol Nemeroff, “Operation of the Laws of Systematic Magic in Disgust and Other Domains,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, l, 4 (1986): 703–12). 6 Rozin, Millman, and Nemeroff, op. cit. 636 the journal of philosophy someone they dislike, and loath to eat soup from a brand-new bedpan. They are disinclined to put their mouths on a piece of newly purchased vomit-shaped rubber (though perfectly willing to do so with sink stopper of similar size and material), averse to eating fudge that has been formed into the shape of dog feces, and far less accurate in throwing darts at pictures of faces of people they like than at neutral faces.7 How should we describe the cognitive state of those who hesitate to eat the feces-shaped fudge or wear their adversary’s shirt? Surely they believe that the fudge has not changed its chemical composition, and that the shirt does not bear cooties8—just as they believe that that the newly purchased bedpan is sterile and that the fake vomit is actually made of rubber: asked directly, subjects show no hesitation in endorsing such claims. But alongside these beliefs there is something else going on. Although they believe that the items in question are harmless, they also alieve something very different. The alief has roughly the following content: “Filthy object! Contaminated! Stay away!” • Last month, when I was traveling to the APA Program Committee meeting, I accidentally left my wallet at home. I noticed its absence when I arrived at the check-in desk at the Hartford Airport, and fully expected to be turned away from my flight. Much to my surprise, the desk agent simply wrote the words “No ID” on my boarding pass, and told me to allow for a few extra minutes at security.9 The various scans showed nothing amiss, so I boarded my plane, flew to Baltimore, and made my way to the meeting site. 7 The descriptions of the cases make it clear that the experimenters go out of their way to avoid the possibility of any sort of confusion. In the fudge study, for example, “subjects were offered a piece of high-quality chocolate fudge, in a square shape, on a paper plate [and then] ate the piece . … [Next] two additional pieces of the same fudge were presented, each on its own paper plate.” Subjects were made explicitly aware that the two pieces come from the same initial source, and that the only difference between them is that “one piece was shaped in the form of a disc or muffin, the other in the shape of a surprisingly realistic piece of dog feces.” Despite recognizing that they contained identical ingredients, subjects showed a striking reluctance to consume the fecesshaped piece. See Rozin, Millman, and Nemeroff, op. cit., p. 705. 8 For definition, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooties. Apparently, a roughly equivalent British term is ‘lurgi’. 9 Legally, one is not required to carry identification in order to fly. Rather, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) requires that airline passengers either “present identification to airline personnel before boarding or be subjected to a search that is more exacting than the routine search that passengers who present identification encounter.” Cf. Gilmore v. Gonzales, 04-15736 D.C No. CV-02-03444-SI Opinion. (Full text at http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/ca9/newopinions.nsf/A6AE4C85241C517C88257101007 B72EB/$file/0415736.pdf ?openelement.) As a quick internet search for “flying without identification” will reveal, however, there is a gap between the law and the practice: there were, no doubt, additional features of my particular circumstance that led me to be offered this option. alief and belief 637 Though the TSA may not require identification, restaurants and hotels do require payment, so when I got to Baltimore, I arranged to borrow money from a friend who was also attending the meeting. As he handed me the bills, I said: “Thanks so much for helping me out like this. It is really important for me to have this much cash since I don’t have my wallet.” Rooting through my bag as I talked, I continued: “It’s a lot of cash to be carrying loose, though, so let me just stash it in my wallet ….” How should we describe my mental state as my fingers searched for my wallet to house the explicitly wallet-compensatory money? Surely I believed that I had left my wallet in New Haven; after all, the reason I was borrowing so much money was because I knew I had no credit cards or cash with me. But alongside that belief there was something else going on. Although I believed that my wallet was several hunded miles away as I rooted through my bag, I simultaneously alieved something very different. The alief had roughly the following content: “Bunch of money. Needs to go into a safe place. Activate wallet-retrieval motor routine now.” • Charles is watching a horror movie about a terrible green slime. He cringes in his seat as the slime oozes slowly but relentlessly over the earth destroying everything in its path. Soon a greasy head emerges from the undulating mass, and two beady eyes roll around, finally fixing on the camera. The slime, picking up speed, oozes on a new course straight towards the viewers. Charles emits a shriek and clutches desperately at his chair.10 How should we describe Charles’s cognitive state? Surely he does not believe that that he is in physical peril; as Kendall Walton writes “Charles knows perfectly well that the slime is not real and that he is in no danger” (ibid., p. 6). But alongside that belief there is something else going on. Although Charles believes that he is sitting safely in a chair in a theater in front of a movie screen, he also alieves something very different. The alief has roughly the following content: “Dangerous two-eyed creature heading towards me! H-e-l-p …! Activate fight or flight adrenaline now!” i. introducing alief I.1. Belief-Behavior Mismatch and Belief-Discordant Alief. In each of the cases presented above, it seems clear what the subject believes11: that 10 Kendall Walton, “Fearing Fictions,” this journal, lxxv, 8 ( January 1978): 5–27, see p. 5. 11 Although belief is clearly one of the central notions in epistemology, the question of what belief is has been (with important exceptions) underexplored in this context. 638 the journal of philosophy the walkway is safe, that the substance is edible or potable, that the wallet is in New Haven, that the theater is in no danger of being invaded by slime, and so on. Ask the subject directly and she will show no hesitation in endorsing such claims as true. Ask her to bet, and this is where she will place her money. Ask her to think about what her other beliefs imply and this is what she will conclude. Look at her overarching behavior and this is what it will point to. At the same time, the belief fails to be accompanied by certain belief-appropriate behaviors and attitudes: something is awry. When else do we find this sort of belief-behavior mismatch? One sort of case is that of deliberate deception. If I believe that I have a winning hand, but I am trying to mislead you into thinking that I do not, I will behave in ways discordant with my belief. But clearly, this is not a good model for the cases just considered: Charles is not trying to fool the movie-maker; Rozin’s subjects are not trying to mislead the experimenters. In contrast to the cases of deliberate deception, the belief-behavior mismatch in our cases is not the result of something other-directed and deliberately controlled. Perhaps, then, it is akin to a case of self-deception? A self-deceived subject believes, say, that her child has committed some terrible crime, but somehow brings herself to represent the situation—both to herself and to others—as if she believed precisely the opposite, resulting in (Of course, there have been extensive discussions of this question in the context of philosophy of mind (for an overview, see section 1 of Eric Schwitzgebel, “Belief,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2006 Edition), Edward N. Zalta, ed., URL 5 http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2006/entries/belief/).) But (with some important exceptions) this literature has remained largely insulated from the literature in epistemology). One might think a simple characterization would suffice—something like: “To believe a proposition is to hold it to be true” (Simon Blackburn, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (New York: Oxford, 1996), p. 40). But, for reasons that David Velleman brings out nicely (Velleman, “On the Aim of Belief, ” in The Possibility of Practical Reason (New York: Oxford, 2000), pp. 244–82), this will not quite do (at least, not without a careful spelling out of what “hold to be true” amounts to, which just pushes the question one step back). Moreover, the issue is complicated by there being at least two apparently different fundamental notions of belief: what H.H. Price calls the “occurrence” or “traditional” view—that to believe a proposition is to be in a mental state with a particular sort of introspectively available feature, such as “vivacity” or “liveliness” or “solidity” (a view he attributes to, among others, Descartes, Hume, Spinoza, Cardinal Newman and Cook Wilson)—and what he calls the “dispositional” or “modern” view— that to believe a proposition is to be disposed to act in certain ways (a view he attributes to, among others, Alexander Bain, R.B. Braithwaite, and Gilbert Ryle). See Price, Belief (London: Allen and Unwin, 1969). I will have more to say about this matter below. In the meantime—as the astute reader will have suspected by now—I invoke this legacy as much to exculpate as to inform: though I will offer more details in subsequent sections, for the time being, I will leave the notion of belief undefined. (For further discussion, see section 2 of Gendler, “Alief in Action (and Reaction)” (op. cit.).) alief and belief 639 the requisite belief-behavior mismatch. 12 This is an improvement on the previous model; it corrects the problem of other-directedness, and—to some extent—the problem of deliberate control. But it still misrepresents the structure of the situation: it is not that the reluctant walker on the Hulapai Skywalk believes that the surface is safe, but has somehow deceived herself into thinking that it is risky; it is not that Rozin’s subject believes that the bedpan is sterile, but somehow deceives herself into thinking that there’s some reason not to drink from it. The mismatch runs two directions: unlike in cases of self-deception, the subjects in our cases show no reluctance to endorse explicitly the belief with which their behavior fails to accord. And unlike in cases of self-deception, their behavioral responses do not result from some deliberate or quasi-deliberate process of misrepresentation. Perhaps, then, the subjects’ hesitation to act on their beliefs is the result of some sort of doubt or uncertainty? In setting out for the day, I might dither a bit before leaving my umbrella at home: “it’s not going to rain,” I might aver—though I am not completely certain that I am right. Though the action-pattern is strikingly similar to some of the cases above, the model is still inadequate. Stepping onto the Skyway, eating the stool-shaped fudge, or staying seated in the theater is not like willing oneself to play Russian roulette: it is not a case of discounting a low-probability outcome and hoping for the best. Charles does not leave the theater thinking: “Phew! It’s lucky the slime stayed on the screen this time!” Rozin’s subject does not breathe a sigh of relief that the dart hitting the photograph did not actually harm her friend. I was not rooting around on the off-chance that maybe my wallet really was in my bag after all.13 Perhaps, then, the belief is temporarily forgotten? When I reach for my wallet, perhaps it is that I just do not remember that it is not with me. When I hesitate before the fudge, perhaps I have just lost track of the fact that it is not dog feces. When I step timidly on the walkway, perhaps I have just forgotten that it is solid. Perhaps. But I do not think this could be the full story. Rozin’s subjects hesitate to eat the soup even if they are vividly and occurrently entertaining the thought 12 I discuss these issues in more detail in Gendler, “Self Deception as Pretense,” Philosophical Perspectives: Mind (2008). 13 Nor are these cases of what Schwitzgebel (“In Between Believing,” The Philosophical Quarterly, li, 202 (2001): 76–82) calls “in-between beliefs”—attitudes “that are not quite accurately describable as believing that P, nor quite accurately describable as failing to believe that P” (op. cit., p. 76)—cases such as “gradual forgetting, failure to think things through completely, and variability with context and mood” (op. cit., p. 78). They are closer to some of the cases that Price calls “half-beliefs” (op. cit., pp. 302–14); I discuss Price’s examples in more detail below. 640 the journal of philosophy “this is a completely sterile bedpan,” fully, consciously and with explicit attention to its meaning and implications. I was rooting around in my bag for my wallet at the exact moment that I was vividly and occurrently entertaining the thought “I left my wallet in New Haven,” fully, consciously, with explicit attention to its meaning and implications. And certainly the Hulapai Canyon steppers have not forgotten that the platform is safe, else they would do something a good deal more dramatic than hesitate before taking the next step. But if it is not a case where the subject is deceiving others, or selfdeceived, or uncertain, or forgetful, then why is stepping onto the Skywalk different from stepping onto the back porch? The reason, of course, is that each …
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