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MMP Working Group Speaker: Wade Munroe

Wade Munroe
Thursday, October 28, 2021
2:00-4:00 PM
Off Campus Location
Wade Munroe (University of Michigan) will give a talk for the Mind and Moral Psychology Working Group. He will present "What It Takes to Make a Word (Token)."

Consider the following object, where, depending on how you are viewing this abstract, the object is likely a portion of a matrix of pixels through or from which light is emitted,


Let’s call the object ‘Shape’. Is Shape a word token? If so, what word type is it a token of? Given how words are traditionally individuated (at least lexicographically), the Spanish, “auge”—meaning, apogee or peak—the French, “auge”—meaning, basin or bowl—and the German, “auge”—meaning, eye—are different words. They are chance false friends. The words have different etymologies, meanings, and canonical pronunciations and, thereby, are distinct word types, despite (by chance) being orthographically identical. So, if Shape is a word token (which we’ve yet to establish), is it a token of the Spanish, “auge”, the French, “auge”, the German, “auge”, or some combination of the three? Additionally, what grounds an answer to the previous question? Generalizing beyond Shape and matrices of pixels as a potential medium for word tokens,

(Central Question) When does something, f—e.g., some utterance, inscription, manual gesture, etc.—constitute a token of a word type, w, as opposed to some other word type, w*, or no word at all?

In this talk, I argue against a popular intentionalist answer to Central Question according to which (roughly put) something, f, constitutes a token of a word type, w, when one generates f with the intention to generate a token w (or a suitably similar intention). Given that word tokens are artifacts, the intentionalist answer to Central Question is indicative of a broader and widely held assumption in the literature on the metaphysics of artifacts, namely, that artifacts are intention-dependent—something, f, is an artifact of type, t, only if f was produced with the intention to produce an artifact of type t (Juvshik 2021). As I demonstrate, intention has little to no role to play in an answer to Central Question or, more broadly, an account of artifacts. I argue that our (tacit) knowledge of how to perform various complex actions, like generating word tokens through speech, is not something that must be intentionally accessed, reasoned with, and utilized in governing behavior in some fully top-down intentional manner. We can exhibit a host of complex and context sensitive behavior that constitutes an exercise of our competence with/knowledge of how to act within an environment without intention playing an initiating, guiding, or sustaining role.
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Graduate, Philosophy
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of Philosophy, Weinberg Institute for Cognitive Science