Wednesday, July 6, 2011

First-Person Realism, Nonstandard Realism, Kit Fine

(1) 'it is raining'
(2) 'it is Sunday'

(1) may be seen to involve motion in a way (2) doesn't. Suppose (1) means rain is falling through time, while (2) means it's Sunday at any given instant ta. If we freeze the state of raindrops at a moment, it's no longer raining.

"For once we have the tensed facts that help verify the first statement, there can be no further tensed facts that might help verify the second."

But there might be tenseless fact that help verify the second.

"Thus the composite character of present reality must be denied. It therefore appears that, if times are to be constituents of any facts whatever, they must be constituents of tenseless facts."

It's possible to verify (1) using the tensed fact 'it's raining now' and verify (2) using the untensed fact 'today is the day after Saturday'. It's also possible to verify (1) this latter way; using the untensed facts 'it's wet out, there are raindrops in the air, etc.' But one can't verify (2) in the same way as (1). "Sunday" is only part of an epistemological map.

This is releated to Chalmers' 2-dimensionalism: there's a set of epistemologically possible worlds, and there's a set of metaphysically possible worlds.

"nonstandard realism"


"The first-personal realist believes that there are distinctively first-personal facts. Reality is not exhausted by the ‘objective’ or impersonal facts but also includes facts that reflect a first-person point of view. But what are the basic first-personal facts?"


I confess to not being able to get very far in Fine's account of "first-person realism" without feeling a need to come to its rescue.

"For we may ask of selves, just as we asked of times, how they [first-person realists] might be
capable of figuring in the fundamental facts; and there are difficulties either in the supposition
that they occur in first-personal facts or in the supposition that they occur in impersonal facts.
In the one case, there will be the embarrassment of having to accept a primitive property of meness38;
and, in the other case, there will be the embarrassment of having to admit both the fact
that it is paining and the fact that the subject is in pain."

In the one case, we can accept qualia as things that exist in the universe of a first-person realist; and, in the other case, there is no contradiction in ("everyone") impersonally admitting "the subject is in pain", including the subject himself. But the subject is unique in also being able to admit "it is paining". There is no contradiction, because the "pain" that the subject refers to in this case is not available as a referent for the others to instantiate in their admission of, e. g., "it is not paining". When the others declare "it is not paining", their reality consist only of something that refers to the subject's pain. The subject can do this, but his reality and truths about the universe also includes the pain as primitive data and not as a referent to something else. 

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