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The Effective Indexical

Price, Huw (2007) The Effective Indexical. [Preprint]

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    In a famous paper in Noûs in 1979, John Perry points out that action depends on indexical beliefs. In addition to “third-person” information about her environment, an agent need “first-person” information about where, when and who she is. This conclusion is widely interpreted as a reason for thinking that tensed claims cannot be translated without loss into untensed language; but not as a reason for realism about tensed facts. In another famous paper in the same volume of Noûs, Nancy Cartwright argues that action requires that agents represent their world in causal terms, rather than merely probabilistic terms: for, Cartwright argues, there’s a distinction between effective and ineffective strategies, that otherwise goes missing. This is widely taken as a reason for thinking that causal claims cannot be translated without loss into merely probabilistic claims; and also – in contrast to Perry’s case – widely regarded as a reason for realism about causation. In this paper I ask whether the latter conclusion is compulsory, or whether, as in Perry’s case, the need for causal beliefs might merely reflect some “situated” aspect of a decision-maker’s perspective.

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    Item Type: Preprint
    Keywords: Causation, indexicals, effective strategies, Perry, Cartwright
    Subjects: General Issues > Decision Theory
    General Issues > Causation
    Depositing User: Prof Huw Price
    Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2009
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:17
    Item ID: 4487

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