PDF | This is the second book by Baz that aims to show that a big chunk of contemporary philosophy is fundamentally misguided. His first book. Geach's 'Refutation' of Austin Revisited AVNER BAZ Tufts University Medford, MA USA I Introduction A characteristic move of what is known as . The Crisis of Method in Contemporary Analytic Philosophy, by Avner Baz. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Pp. This is the second book by Baz that.

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Avner Baz: When Words Are Called For: A Defense of Ordinary Language Philosophy,. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, When Words Are. Avner Baz, p. 2. PUBLICATIONS. Books. The Crisis of Method in Contemporary Analytic Philosophy – Oxford University. Press (). When Words Are Called. Professor Expertise Ethics, Aesthetics, Epistemology, Kant, Wittgenstein, Ordinary Language Philosophy Biography Avner Baz was born and grew up in Israel.

We would just need to keep it to its natural, appropriate, places. For a recent strong re-assertion of this dismissal, see Soames For another good discussion of this issue see Glock As if we could relieve ourselves of the requirement that our words have a point by keeping them to ourselves. However, it is hard to see what, at the end of the day, Hawthorne might mean here r The Author It is therefore not the case that for every person there is, at every moment, the situation, or context, she is in.

If philosophy could help us see more clearly only our concepts—the ones that we can share only with those sufficiently like us—that, to my mind, would be achievement enough for it. I come back to this in the next section. See also Recanati I do not find the appeal to vagueness here particularly compelling.

His argument, nonetheless, does rely centrally on our intuitions about what it would be true for someone to say, if only as data that need to be accounted for by his theory.

See also Stanley For a slightly less extreme expression of this idea—one that, in contrast with Kornblith, remains ontologically uncommitted—see Sosa , and forthcoming. At least when it comes to the sorts of concepts, and phenomena, that have given philosophers trouble for millennia, I find myself in full agreement with Millar. But my proposal for how the reliance on intuitions may be avoided, in the endeavor to become clearer with respect to our concepts, is very different from his.

I presented versions of this paper here at Tufts, at the University of Chicago, and at the Mind and Society conference in Cambridge, UK, and have benefited greatly from the discussions that ensued. Finally, I would like to thank the referees for this journal and the editor, for pressing me to become clearer about a couple key points, and for believing in the value of this paper. Writing this paper was r The Author Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bach, K. Preyer and G. Peter eds. Baz, A. Gustafson eds , New Essays on the Philosophy of J. Black, T. Cohen, S. Cummins, R.

DePaul and W. Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield. DeRose, K. Fantl, J. Glock, H. Goldman, A. Grice, P.

Hawthorne, J. Kornblith, H.

Lewis, D. Originally published in Journal of Philosophical Logic.

Millar, A. Neta, R. Recanati, F. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Rysiew, P. Schaffer, J. Thresholds, Standards, or Alternatives? Peter eds , Contextualism in Philosophy. Schiffer, S. Searle, J. Soames, S. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Sosa, E. Stanley, J. Stich, S. Travis, C. Weinberg, J. Many experimental philosophers have questioned the use of the method of cases, but they have assumed that discussion of cases makes sense.

The minimal assumption is common ground between experimental philosophers, rationalists, and also other participants in recent debates, such as Deutsch, Cappelen, and Williamson.

When Words Are Called For

The book is in large part critical: it aims to show that others are committed to the minimal assumption and that the assumption is false. There's a great deal of criticism of experimental philosophers, and of the alternative positions of Cappelen and Williamson. The book outlines and relies on a positive view of how language works that doesn't incorporate the minimal assumption.

The positive picture is inspired by Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty -- a view that emphasizes that to use words is to "position ourselves in the world and in relation to others" 5.

It bears affinity to the radical contextualist position of, e.

Baz's positive view is also related to various forms of expressivism and Huw Price's attack on a representationalist conception of language found in, for example, Price According to Baz, it is a mistaken conception of language that gives rise to the misuse of the method of cases and so also to the crisis of method that we, allegedly, find ourselves in.

We turn now to some critical comments on the core ideas in this book. First a very general, high-level, concern about the way Baz does metaphilosophy -- a way he shares with many contemporary metaphilosophers.

According to Baz, contemporary analytic philosophers share a method and attacking the method is a way to attack large swathes of philosophy without engaging with the details of arguments in specific fields.

By arguing that the method is defective, one can reject literally tens of thousands of arguments and papers without looking at any of the detailed work being done. This entire approach to metaphilosophy is unfortunate. The assumption of methodological unity that underlies the approach is false and it has misled not just Baz, but an entire generation of methodologists.

This assumption of unity is crucial throughout Baz's book, and is particularly clear in chapter 2. In that chapter, the authors of this review are presented as offering a defense of the method of cases. We don't.

We reject metaphilosophy that works on the simplistic assumption that there is such a method. We offer instead a different methodology for metaphilosophy, one that shuns overly broad generalizations about the discipline and the activity of philosophizing and instead engages in detailed and empirically informed reflections on how good philosophy is done.

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In a footnote, Baz briefly considers this perspective: maybe, he writes, "contemporary philosophy is so diverse, any effective criticism of it would have to be local" 55fn. In response, he continues concessively and says that "as an empirical observation concerning the use of 'philosophy' this description is 'undisputable.

We don't understand his reply. We think we agree with Kant though if we don't, it wouldn't bother us much , but we're confident even Kant wouldn't want the questioning to be of an activity that doesn't exist. The constant questioning of fundamental assumptions and methodologies is indeed at the core of philosophy, but we have to question assumptions and methods that, as a matter of fact, characterize philosophizing -- not simplistic inventions that make for easy target practice.

What's the method of cases supposed to be?

Those who like to invoke this alleged method typically start by listing examples. So, they'll say it's what's instantiated by Gettier cases, Searle's Chinese Room, Jackson's Mary, and a few other paradigms. For these examples to help identify a method, they have to have something in common. As we see it, these cases serve varied purposes, but a commonality, if there is one, is that each example involves a philosopher trying to determine whether a particular thing or event or state has or lacks various properties.

Although Baz's characterization speaks of 'terms' and their 'application', this is a superficial difference. In language, one attributes properties by applying predicative expressions -- Baz's 'terms' -- to subject expressions.

But note that our construal of the method of cases describes inquiry in general. It describes a method of philosophical inquiry only in the sense in which "read about what other people think about your topic" describes a method of philosophical inquiry.

That is, it does not describe any practice or procedure that one finds adopted by only, or even by mostly only, philosophers. Furthermore, while it is perhaps fair to say that the method of cases, when characterized as our construal characterizes it, is a method of inquiry, maximally broadly conceived, it is also clear that there are many different ways to investigate whether particular things have or lack various properties.

If one is investigating properties of sea turtles, one might need to dissect some sea turtles. But dissection is not a method of, say, syntactic investigation, even though syntacticians are interested in the features of particular things for example, of particular sentences. One way to see that the "method" that Baz criticizes is not something peculiar to the kind of philosophy he says is in crisis is that even Wittgenstein and Austin, some of Baz's philosophical heroes, tried to figure out whether particular things have or lack various interesting properties.

Of course Wittgenstein and Austin tried to do that think of Wittgenstein's builders discussed in his or Austin on shooting donkeys Even Baz himself qualifies as a proponent of the method of cases on our construal , despite saying that he's an opponent. For example, his core claim -- that contemporary analytic philosophy employs the method of cases -- is a claim about the possession of an interesting property, namely employing the method of cases, by a particular thing, namely contemporary analytic philosophy.

Moreover, Baz's core claim is made in what he calls 'the theorist's context'. Is he then guilty of employing the supposedly crisis-inducing method that he attacks? The short answer is "yes".

He is just as guilty of employing the method in his book as John Hawthorne is in Knowledge and Lotteries, a book that serves, for Baz, as a main example of an objectionable use of the method of cases.

Thus, Baz's book can be viewed as an extended attempt, by Baz, to hoist himself with his own petard. For his point to be proven the result must not merely be a string of familiar words making up sentences that in turn are organized in the form of modus ponens.

Geach, I think, knows this. He takes himself to be presenting us with a stretch of discourse that we clearly and unproblematically understand.

Do we? I note first that, while sounding remotely like something that some- one might naturally say under suitable circumstances, the modus ponens argument Geach imagines for us is not something that someone might naturally utter outside philosophy. It is only the speech- act of expressing it that would be odd or unnatural. What we need to explain is precisely why coming out with a stretch of discourse that makes perfect sense, semantically speaking, would be odd or unnatural; and there are any number of possible explanations: the argument is just too formal for everyday use; the argu- ment, or anyway some parts of it, would be so obvious as to not be worth express- ing; in actually uttering the argument, or some parts of it, we would implicate false things or things that for some other reason we might not wish to implicate; there might be various more or less complex but merely psychological causes for our not being inclined to come out with just this form of words, or for our finding them odd or unnatural… The above general line of reasoning, which one hears everywhere, misconstrues OLP and begs the question against it.

That prevailing conception is what OLP questions — both in its own right, and as responsible for any num- ber of philosophical difficulties. For all that, they insist, it would be clear what its utterer was saying, even if not why he said it; and what he would say could very well still be true. All of this might have been philosophically pertinent, if the ordi- nary language philosopher really began where Grice and Searle say he begins.

But, pace Searle, Grice, Soames , , and others, this appeal is not meant to prove, all by itself, that the stretch of discourse makes no sense.

It is meant, rather, to weaken the hold of the conviction that it must make sense, because it consists of familiar words that are put together syntactically correctly; and it is also meant to force upon those who take that stretch of discourse to make clear sense the question of what that sense might be, and whether, given the sense or senses it could have — the way s in which it may aptly be understood — it is fit to do the philosophical work that its author needs or wants it to do.

What work is he, or might he be, doing with his words? Geach would have us suppose that this is beside the point; and of course, it is beside the point as far as the formal validity of the argu- ment goes.

And that question is crucial here precisely because we are trying to imagine a context in which knowledge is not merely claimed, but is, or can at least fairly eas- ily become, something like a foregone conclusion.

And what should we say about the even more extreme case of infelicity in which the imagined speaker asserts the first premise on the force of one basis, but then has a different basis in mind when asserting the third premise? As competent speakers, we are generally quite good at hearing the words of others so as to make the most sense of them — seeing through them, as it were, to their intended point.

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Informal versions of similar arguments probably have featured in the course of human history. Nor would it validate in any way the notion of word meaning that he and other ordinary language philosophers have questioned and that Geach wishes to validate. When used descriptively, however, they are not interchangeable. Williamson says that seeing that, recognizing that, remembering that, etc.

They all are ways of coming to know. What entails it, rather, is the fairly- straightforwardly-establishable empirical fact that even a non-expert can tell or see , just by looking at or examining the painting, that the paint- ing is a forgery.

They may thus be used, however, precisely when both are used to express conviction.

The Crisis of Method in Contemporary Analytic Philosophy

The third premise in his imagined argument is false; and it would therefore? For example: 1 I know he was married before. Geach and his readers only thought it made sense; they thought they understood it.

And if such hallucination of sense, as we might call it, can happen to us even with what presents itself as a stretch of ordinary discourse, how much greater must be the danger that this should happen to us with a stretch of philosophical discourse? In the case of ordinary discourse, I said, we see beyond the words to their point; and, if we are competent, we respond appropriately to it.

Rather, we can understand the example as an intelligible stretch of human dis- course, and so understand the first premise for example , precisely because, or to the extent that, we can see what point would be made by means of the words in a suitable context.

The speaker is not here claiming to know, let alone claiming to know, that his friend was married before.But if we did that, we would be changing their story. New York: Oxford University Press. Williamson, T. Williamson, T.

This shift of orientation in philosophy is r The Author For as far as the parties to such disputes would be concerned, any such assessment of their disagreement would be what you might call merely semantic—it would not be clear what significance it had, as far as they were concerned. Rather, what matters, as far as they are concerned, is, presumably, whether it would be reasonable for them to act on the assumption that the bank will be open the next morning. Cambridge University Press, However, a problem is that there's too little in the form of a systematic presentation of, and arguments for, the positive, non-representational view of language on which Baz bases his critique.