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Gerald Vision

Gerald Vision is Professor of Philosophy at Temple University. He is the author of Veritas: The Correspondence Theory and Its Critics (MIT Press, 2004) and other books.

Titles by This Author

Locating Conscious Properties in a Material World

The presence of sentience in a basically material reality is among the mysteries of existence. Many philosophers of mind argue that conscious states and properties are nothing beyond the matter that brings them about. Finding these arguments less than satisfactory, Gerald Vision offers a nonphysicalist theory of mind. Revisiting and defending a key doctrine of the once widely accepted school of philosophy known as emergentism, Vision proposes that conscious states are emergents, although they depend for their existence on their material bases.

Although many previous emergentist theories have been decisively undermined, Vision argues that emergent options are still viable on some issues. In Re-Emergence he explores the question of conscious properties arising from brute, unthinking matter, making the case that there is no equally plausible non-emergent alternative.

Vision defends emergentism even while conceding that conscious properties and states are realized by or strongly supervene on the physical. He argues, however, that conscious properties cannot be reduced to, identified with, or given the right kind of materialist explanation in terms of the physical reality on which they depend. Rather than use emergentism simply to assail the current physicalist orthodoxy, Vision views emergentism as a contribution to understanding conscious aspects. After describing and defending his version of emergentism, Vision reviews several varieties of physicalism and near-physicalism, finding that his emergent theory does a better job of coming to grips with these phenomena.

The Correspondence Theory and Its Critics

In Veritas, Gerald Vision defends the correspondence theory of truth—the theory that truth has a direct relationship to reality—against recent attacks, and critically examines its most influential alternatives. The correspondence theory, if successful, explains one way in which we are cognitively connected to the world; thus, it is claimed, truth—while relevant to semantics, epistemology, and other studies—also has significant metaphysical consequences. Although the correspondence theory is widely held today, Vision points to an emerging orthodoxy in philosophy that claims that truth as such carries no significant weight in philosophical explanations. He devotes much of the book to a criticism of that outlook and to a less vulnerable formulation of the correspondence theory.

Vision defends the correspondence theory by both presenting evidence for correspondence and examining the claims made by such alternative theories as deflationism, minimalism, and pluralism. The techniques of the argument are thoroughly analytic, but the problem confronted is broadly humanistic. The question examined—how we, as thinking beings, are connected to and manage to cope in a world that was not designed for our comfort or convenience—is more likely to be raised by continentalists, but is approached here with the tools of clarity and precision more highly prized in analytic philosophy. The book seeks to avoid both the obscurantism that infects much continental thought and the overly technical concerns and methodology that limit the interest of much work in analytic philosophy. It thus provides a rigorous but largely nontechnical treatment of the topic that will be of interest not only to readers familiar with philosophy but also to those with a background in literary theory and linguistics.

A Bradford Book