The Inessential Indexical: On the Philosophical Insignificance of Perspective and the First Person

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In the case of quasi-analysis, it would seem, there is no independent standard of correctness except for consistency. He does distinguish between desired and undesired results:. These unfavorable conditions could consist, for example, in the fact that certain p qualities p always or frequently occur together with certain others. This would lead to irregularities in the derivation of c quality classes c and later on in the division into c sensory classes c and in the c Sim-order c within the sensory classes. However, amore detailed investigation,which we have to omit for lack of space, shows that these interferences in the concept formation through quasi analysis can occur only if circumstances are present under which the real process of cognition, namely, the intuitive quasi analysis which is carried out in real life, would also not lead to normal results Carnap , p.

Thus, not only can quasi analysis lead to undesired results. Hence, whatever properties we have identified in ordinary cognitive practice, and whatever justified beliefs we have arrived at in it, it should be possible to arrive at the same results through an explicitly reconstructed quasi-analysis. I shall consider two kinds of problem for the world construction project, Type 1 and Type 2 problems. The former will be discussed rather briefly, and set aside as less important.

We shall then focus on Type 2 problems. Type 1 problems have to do generally with the relation between theory and observation.

Some are exemplified by Carnap , pp. He notes that there is no finite set of protocol sentences that would correspond to a simple sentence about a physical thing such as 6 :. If on May … somebody is in my room and looks in such and such direction, he has a visual impression of such and such a kind.

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The first problem Carnap draws attention to is that no finite set of such sentences which would also have to take account of other sense modalities is equivalent with 6. Although incontestably true, this is only an example of the general theory-observation relation. The theory entails the observation sentences, but no finite collection of observation sentences jointly entail the theory. This holds for theories stated in an external language in relation to observation sentences or other non-theoretical atomic sentences in the external language itself, and likewise for theories stated in an internal language in relation to atomic sentences of the same language.

It has nothing in particular to do with the reduction problem. It is exemplified in the problem of induction. Again, this is incontestable, but a result of only considering actual observations. The problem of underdetermination, as Quine presents it, is that two theories can entail exactly the same set of observation conditionals a conditional where both the antecedent and the consequent are observation sentences; Quine , p. All possible observations together determine which observation conditionals are true. Conversely, the truth values of all observation conditionals fixes what the possible observations are given that every possible observation can be expressed by an observation sentence.

Hence, underdetermination by the set of all observation conditionals is underdetermination by all possible observations. This leads over to Type 2 problems. Type 2 problems specifically concern the correlation between experience and external facts, translated into the correlation between the internal and the external language. It does not seem implausible that the totality of experience underdetermines physical reality, even when we restrict ourselves to observable physical reality. The observable physical reality is that part of physical reality about which we are justified to make assertions based only on definitions and observation.

Thus, we are not taking into consideration the possibility of underdetermination of physical theory by observations statable in the external language itself. We can then imagine the following. There are two semantically independent sentences s 1 and s 2 of L e that report the total sequence of facts observed by S. But the same holds of s 2. For s 1 and s 2 are semantically independent. Hence being justified in asserting s 1 does not entail being justified in asserting s 2 , and vice versa.


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What would be examples of asentence-pair such as s 1 and s 2? Judging from the Aufbau commentary by Alan Richardson , the observation is original with Quine, and also correct. Quine does the former, not the latter. Is there any reason to think that it is impossible? We find one, I think, if we make use of an idea suggested by Max Black , p.

The idea is that of a possible symmetric universe, with two parts that are qualitatively identical. We can think of it as two similar spheres, as did Black, or as one sphere with two similar halves. I shall here assume the latter, a sphere with two halves, A and B, that are qualitatively identical. In such a universe, a perceiving subject would get exactly the same sequence of experiences whether he starts out in A or in the exactly similar corresponding part in B.

The argument, then, is based on the idea that any sequence of experiences underdetermines the physical location, since whatever the location of the experiencing subject is, he could have had those very experiences or experiences indistinguishable from them in the exactly similar but opposite location.

We need not know exactly how, but we can assume it as done along the lines suggested by Russell , pp. Russell suggested constructing physical space as asystem of perspectives. Perspectives can be ordered by similarity, and apoint in constructed space is associated with aperspective. Two points are close in constructed space just in case their associated perspectives are similar.

We can also understand what is meant by saying that our private world is inside our head; for our private world is aplace in perspective space, and may be part of the place where our head is Russell , p.

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For every perspective induced from a location in one of the halves would be qualitatively identical to the perspective induced from the corresponding location on the opposite half, and the similarity relations to the respective nearby perspectives on each half would again match each other perfectly. In terms of the similarity of perspectives, then, the duplication of qualitatively similar locations would not be registered.

However, we could block this result by adding kinaesthetic experiences, recording change of orientation as well as movement. We would then be able to distinguish between moving across the boundary from A into the opposite half, B, from turning back towards the center of A.

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Carnap does not, however, propose a definition. Suppose then that our subject S , applying the kinaesthetically modified Russellian method, or any similar method, defines a coordinate system in L i. We assume then that sentences of the form. This means that any numeral in the x argument place is mapped on the same numeral in the x argument place, and so on.

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I shall assume two possible worlds w A and w B. In world w B , by contrast, S is initially located in the corresponding , qualitatively identical location in sector B, with coordinates x B , y B , z B. Of course, the sentence is an abbreviation of some sentence in the primitive vocabulary and syntax of L i. Assuming that S has adequate perceptual abilities, correctly observing the instantiation of qualities. Then, in w A , co-assertibility is perfectly upheld, as far as sentences of the form 14 are concerned. The L e sentence.

When the sentence 17 , as a sentence of L i becomes assertible by S , it is not the same sentence in L e that becomes assertible, but a sentence. Note that the only difference between worlds w A and w B is the physical location of S. The vocabulary in L i is defined in exactly the same way in relation to the experiences that S undergoes, and these are phenomenally identical in w A and w B.

So the semantics of L i is the same in the two worlds. Note further that the semantics of L e is the same as well.

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The coordinates specify external locations, and the same locations are specified in L e in w B as in w A. And no other translation function would preserve assertibility even within the two respective worlds. It must be observed that on the assumption of symmetry between sectors A and B, sentence 17 is true iff sentence 18 is true. So, in this respect the argument depends on a variation in assertibility that does not match a variation in truth value. However, on the assumption that S is a physical subject, for instance a human being, S occupies some space and will make a difference to what is observable by S.

This will break the symmetry. For instance, should 17 be a sentence reporting a quality that depends on the presence of S himself at the location, the assertibility of 17 as a sentence of L e will neither be assertible nor true in w B , for the blueness is reported by 17 to obtain in sector A, while in w B it only obtains in sector B.