Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Logic and Luck

Some reflections on Sorenson, "Logical Luck":

If we reject subjectivism about logical responsibility (Boghossian) as well as "strict liability" (Millikan), we can adopt a moderate view of responsibility, according to which sometimes we hold a subject responsible for irrational inferences he wasn't in a position to recognize as such. But most of the time we do not hold him responsible for irrational inferences he wasn't in a position to recognize.

This reasonable conception of rationality should go hand in hand with a revision of our understanding of cognitive content, if we understand cognitive content to be governed by norms of rationality. Cognitive content should not be understood as constrained either by the mere possibility of doubt (as the subjectivist would claim) or as constrained merely by the world (as the radical externalist would claim).

Cognitive content (sense) then becomes sensitive to contextual assessments of rational responsibility. As long as conditions are normal, our inferences can be fast and loose without getting us into trouble. When conditions aren't very good, we should be more cautious in our reasoning. If we aren't, then we can be subject to criticism even if our inferences continue to yield truths.

This kind of revision of the constraints on cognitive content should make room for dynamic thoughts, if conditions are good enough. It should also make coordination of indexical contents easier (since at least sometimes, they won't be so finely individuated).

No comments: