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Title: Cartesian scepticism about the external world, semantic or content externalism, and the mind
Author: Smith, Basil
ISNI:       0000 0004 2746 9212
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2005
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This thesis has three parts. In the first part, the author defends the coherence of Cartesian scepticism about the external world. In particular, the author contends that such scepticism survives attacks from Descartes himself, as well as from W.V.O. Quine, Robert Nozick, Alvin Goldman, and David Armstrong. It follows that Cartesian scepticism remains intact. In the second part of this thesis, the author contends that the semantic or content externalisms of Hilary Putnam and Tyler Burge do not refute Cartesian scepticism about the external world. In particular, he argues that Putnam and Burge do not make good their respective externalist cases against scepticism, and that they beg the question against that position. The author concludes that semantic or content externalism is important against such scepticism. In the third part of this thesis, the author addresses the mind, and suggests that Descartes, by offering his cogito argument, also offers a theory of thought content, which he then supports with his substance dualism. He suggests that Descartes does not succeed with any of his arguments here, although his theory of thought content is still plausible. To remedy this, the author discusses the versions of narrow meaning or content offered by Jerry Fodor and Colin McGinn, and defends a version of such meaning or content that presupposes that semantic or content externalism is false. The author lastly follows Donald Davidson, and argues for a version anomalous monism, which he contends is a theory that shows how semantic or content internalism might be true.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: B Philosophy (General)