Fred Adams

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This page contains links to papers available online and to information about current books.
For a full list of my publications, see my CV.



Current books

The Bounds of Cognition
2008

     
Ethical Issues in the Life Sciences
2007
  Ethical Issues for the 21 st Century


Online papers

2007 (with Fuller) Empty Names and Pragmatic Implicatures Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 37, 449-462
We hold a direct reference theory of empty names. On this view, empty names lack referents and thereby lack meaning, but may be used to convey information pragmatically. Mitch Greene argues that our account fails, because there are no pragmatic mechanisms sufficient to do the job required by our view. We show that Green's arguments that the Gricean mechanisms of conversational or a conventional implicature cannot generate the implicatures that our view needs are seriously flawed. We also briefly sketch an account of what the relevant Gricean mechanisms might be.
2007 (with Aizawa, K.) Why the Mind is Still in the Head.
Philosophical interest in situated cognition has been focused most intensely on the claim that human cognitive processes extend from the brain into the tools humans use. As we see it, this radical hypothesis is sustained by two kinds of mistakes, confusing coupling relations with constitutive relations and an inattention to the mark of the cognitive. Here we wish to draw attention to these mistakes and show just how pervasive they are. That is, for all that the radical philosophers have said, the mind is still in the head.
2006. Intentions Confer Intentionality upon Actions: A Reply to Knobe and Burra. Journal of Cognition & Culture, 6, pp. 132-146.
Is intentionally doing A linked to the intention to do A? Knobe and Burra believe that the link between the English words ‘intention’ and ‘intentional’ may mislead philosophers and cognitive scientists to falsely believe that intentionally doing an action A requires one to have the intention to do A. Knobe and Burra believe that data from other languages shows convincingly that the link between intending to A and doing A intentionally is accidental and comes apart. I deny that those who believe that intentionally doing A requires the intention to do A ever thought so because of the etiology of the roots or the morphology of the words, and that intentionally doing A and intending to do A are nomologically tied for non-linguistic reasons.
2005 (with Clarke, M.) Resurrecting The Tracking Theories. Australaisan Journal of Philosophy, 83, 207-221.
This paper replies to Kripke's influential arguments believed to show the failure of tracking theories of knowledge. We argue that neither Kripke's nor other prominent objections do show that tracking theories of knowledge will not work. We suspect a premature burial.
2005 (with Aizawa, K.) Defending non-derived content. Philosophical Psychology, 18,. 661-669.
This paper defends the view that there is non-derived semantic content. The view there there is has been rejected by Dan Dennett, among others. This paper responds mainly to the arguments by Dennett and shows them to fail to show that there is not non-derived (or intrinsic) semantic content.
2004 (with Dietrich, L.) Swampman's Revenge: Squabbles Among the Representationalists. Philosophical Psychology, 17, 323-340.
This paper compares and contrasts the views of two representationalists (Tye and Dretske) on the matter of whether Swampman (a creature with no history of environmental interaction) can have conscious, qualitative mental states. Tye says yes. Dretske says no. We side with Dretske.
2004 (with Steadman, A.) Intentional Action and Moral Considerations: Still Pragmatic. Analysis, 64,268-276.
This paper considers recent empirical surveys by Joshua Knobe designed to show that in the folk conception, it is possible to do A intentionally without intending to do A. We argue that Knobe's data do not support that conclusion and we offer a pragmatic alternative to his understanding of the data.
2004 (with Steadman, A.) Intentional Action in Ordinary Language: Core Concept or Pragmatic Understanding. Analysis, 64, pp. 173-181.
This paper replies to Knobe who claims (in response to our earlier paper) that we relied too heavily on the words "intention" and "intentional" and that if we had relied on "goal-directed" or "purposive" we would still find that the folk judge that one can do A intentionally without intending to do A. We argue in reply that to do something "on purpose" or to have A as "a goal" is still intentional and that our pragmatic alternative reading of Knobe's data still applies. That is, he has not shown that the folk actually believe one can do A without intending to do A.
2004 (with Dietrich, L.) What's in a(n empty) name? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 85, 125-148.
This paper defends a direct reference theory of names against several recent objections by Antony Everett and others, maintaing that direct reference theory cannot handle certain modal objections and objections involving identifying causal chains (since there are no objects to enter into the causal chains). We show that direct reference theory can meet these objections.
2003 (with Dietrich, L.) Empty Names, Natural Kind Terms, and Radical Externalism. In Proceedings of the 1st Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities.
This paper responds to Gabriel Segal's attack on direct reference theory and on externalism about content.
2003. The Informational Turn in Philosophy. In Minds and Machines, 13, 471-501.
This paper traces the application of information theory to problems in the philosophy of mind from 1950 to the present. It includes reference to work by Dennett, Dretske, Fodor, Perry, Sayre and others.
2003. Semantic Paralysis. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 26, 666-667.
This paper argues that Ray Jackendoff's "internalists" semantics cannot be correct, even by his own criteria of adequacy for a semantics.
2002. Names that name nothing. In Kanzian, C., Quitterer, J., & Runggaldier, E. (Eds.) Papers of the 25th International Wittgenstein Symposium, Kirchberg: Austria, 8-10.
This paper defends my direct reference theory of empty names against some recent objections by Antony Everett and others.
2000. Asymmetrical Dependence. In Nani, M. & Marrafa, M. (Eds.), A Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind
This paper (with annotated bibliography) gives a detailed analysis of Jerry Fodor's causal theory of mental content. The paper gives the motivation for Fodor's theory, its explication, and considers objections to his theory.
1997 (with Stecker & Fuller) The Semantics of Fictional Names, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 78, 128-148
This paper defends a direct reference theory of names, including names in thought. We give a semantics for vacuous singular terms and a theory of how they can contribute to the explanation of purposive behavior. On our account vcauous terms in and of them selves have no meaning. They appear to have meaning and be used to express truths only because they are associated with descriptions that have meaning and express truths. Our theory also employs pragmatics to fill in and explain why sentences lacking truth values may appear to have truth values.
1994 (with Fuller) Vacuous Singular Terms Mind & Language, 9, 387-401
This paper defends a direct reference theory of names, including names in thought. We give a semantics for vacuous singular terms and a theory of how they can contribute to the explanation of purposive behavior. On our account vcauous terms in and of them selves have no meaning. They appear to have meaning and be used to express truths only because they are associated with descriptions that have meaning and express truths. Our theory also employs pragmatics to fill in and explain why sentences lacking truth values may appear to have truth values.
1994. 'Simon Says'. Stanford Humanities Review Supplement, 4, 28-30.
This paper comments on Herbert Simon's attempt to apply ideas from cognitive science to aesthetics.
1992 (with Enc) Functions and Goaldirectedness Philosophy of Science, 59, 635-654
We examine both forwar-looking and backward-looking (etiological) accounts of function attribution. We ask questions about the explanatory role of non-supervient functional properties, drawing a parallel between functions and goal directedness. We conlclude that the explanatory value of functional explanation lies in the different classification of the explananda types that these properties generate.
1992 (with Fuller) Names, Contents, and Causes Mind & Language, 7, 205-221
Explanation of behavior is via broad content. This paper looks at why narrow content is a dead end and defends a direct reference theory of names coupled with a broad content theory of mental content. Our solution to Frege Puzzles and the like turns on the fact that we may need to employ descriptions in the psychology of names without being committed to a descriptive theory of the meanings of names.
1988 (with Enc) Not Quite by Accident Dialogue 27, 287-297
This paper does three things: 1) reiterates the reasons for blocking function attributions to things with entirely accidental causal histories, 2) shows why Ehring's purported counterexamples to Adams and Enc fail, and 3) explains why Ehring's own analysis of teleological functions does not work.
1979 A Goal-State Theory of Function Attributions Canadian Journal of Philosophy 9, 493-518
The essential feature of a functional relationship is that of a means-ends relation. For a structure x to have a function y is essentially for x to do y in a system S and for y to lead to the fact that the system is able to output a value O. The output value O will either be a goal-state of S or causally contribute to S's attaining a goal-state in a feedback controlled way.