Publications of Robinson, H.
Book Review: A. D. Smith: The Problem of Perception
The article reviews the book " The Problem of Perception," by A. D. Smith.
Some externalist strategies and their problems
I claim that there are four major strands of argument for externalism and set out to discuss three of them. The four are: (A) That referential thoughts are object-dependent. This I do not discuss. (B) That the semantics of natural kind terms is externalist. (C) That all semantic content, even of descriptive terms, stems from the causal relations of representations to the things or properties they designate in the external world. (D) That, because meaning is a social product and no individual can capture the whole social practice that defines a concept, what the speaker means always outruns what he can know. I briefly discuss (C) and (D) and conclude that they cannot be correct, because, if they were, the content of every thought would permanently transcend the reflective grasp of all thinkers. Then I discuss (B) and conclude that, though Putnam shows something interesting about natural kind terms-namely that a real verbal definition requires science-this has none of the consequences for philosophy of mind that it is normally supposed to have.
Problems with the combinatorial theory of possibility
Armstrong's combinatorial theory of possibility faces a number of insuperable objections. In order to construct non-actual possible worlds from actual elements they must be fictionally recombined. I make three criticisms of Armstrong's reliance on fiction. First, fiction makes combinatorialism redundant. Second, fictionalism makes possibility insufficiently real. Third, Armstrong cannot provide an account of fiction within his own system that does not rely on possibility, mainly because of the essential role of dispositions in his theory of mind and, therefore, his theory of meaning. I continue by showing why possibilities cannot be confined to recombinations of actual elements, and suggest a somewhat neo-platonic theory of possibility that overcomes these problems.
A Dilemma for Physicalism (Structural and Functional Criteria for the Identity of Mental States)
The author shows, through various thought experiments, that the functionalist theory of the (according to which mental states are classed according to their structural or functional roles) as well as any form of materialism, are unable to account for sensations and for subjective and phenomenal qualities of mental experience.