SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Experiential subjectivity
(Philosophy of Language, English)

Faultless disagreement is often described as a situation in which two speakers disagree but it does not seem like either of them made a mistake (Kölbel, 2003). It seems that we can disagree faultlessly about the subjective matters: what is beautiful or ugly, what is right or wrong, what is tasty or disgusting (Lasersohn, 2005). Some philosophers claim that we can also agree to disagree about application of vague predicates when we are talking about borderline cases (Wright, 1997). For example, if A and B disagree about whether their friend, who is 174 cm, is tall, there is no one to decide who is right about it---their language is not precise enough to set a precise threshold on tallness. In a series of recent papers Christopher Kennedy proposes to distinguish two kinds (or sources) of subjectivity: one associated with evaluativity (that is with the lexical component of words which stand for negative or positive valence) and one associated with vagueness. I modify his account to make place for a third, distinct kind---subjectivity connected with experiencing certain qualities. Such subjectivity is a trait of standard `objective' terms such as ``cold'', ``heavy'' or ``long'' when they are used to express speaker's perception of something. For example, I might find a bag heavy when I'm tired even if I know that it is not objectively heavy (i.e. according to the relevant contextual standard). I propose a linguistic test which can be used to distinguish these subjective-experiential expressions from the evaluative ones, as well as a shot at a contextual semantics thereof. I also argue that distinguishing experience as the third source of subjectivity helps illuminate the problem of faultless disagreement. Moreover, it can explain why we can felicitously say: ``I agree it is beautiful, but I don't like it''.

Chair: Rares Fogas
Time: 10:35-11:05, 15 September 2017 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.005

Natalia Karczewska 
(, Poland)

Natalia Karczewska is a PhD student in Philosophy at the University of Warsaw.

Testability and Meaning deco