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Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

Believing Epistemic Contradictions, Bob Beddor, Simon David Goldstein Aug 2017

Believing Epistemic Contradictions, Bob Beddor, Simon David Goldstein

Staff Publications

What is it to believe something might be the case? We develop a puzzle that creates difficulties for standard answers to this question. We go on to propose our own solution, which integrates a Bayesian approach to belief with a dynamic semantics for epistemic modals. After showing how our account solves the puzzle, we explore a surprising consequence: virtually all of our beliefs about what might be the case provide counterexamples to the view that rational belief is closed under logical implication.


A Puzzle For Modal Realism, Daniel Graham Marshall Nov 2016

A Puzzle For Modal Realism, Daniel Graham Marshall

Staff Publications

Modal realists face a puzzle. For modal realism to be justified, modal realists need to be able to give a successful reduction of modality. A simple argument, however, appears to show that the reduction they propose fails. In order to defend the claim that modal realism is justified, modal realists therefore need to either show that this argument fails, or show that modal realists can give another reduction of modality that is successful. I argue that modal realists cannot do either of these things and that, as a result, modal realism is unjustified and should be rejected.


Deliberators Must Be Imperfect, Derek Clayton Baker Sep 2016

Deliberators Must Be Imperfect, Derek Clayton Baker

Staff Publications

This paper argues that, with certain provisos, predicting one's future actions is incompatible with rationally deliberating about whether to perform those actions. It follows that fully rational omniscient agents are impossible, since an omniscient being could never rationally deliberate about what to do (omniscient beings, the paper argues, will always meet the relevant provisos). Consequently, theories that explain practical reasons in terms of the choices of a perfectly rational omniscient agent must fail. The paper considers several ways of defending the possibility of an omniscient agent, and concludes that while some of these may work, they are inconsistent with ...


How Do Reasons Accrue?, Gopal Shyam Nair Apr 2016

How Do Reasons Accrue?, Gopal Shyam Nair

Staff Publications

Reasons can interact in a variety of ways to determine what we ought to do. For example, I might face a choice of whether to work on this paper or socialize with friends. And it might be that the only relevant reason to work on this paper is that I have a deadline coming up soon and that the only relevant reason to socialize is that it is relaxing. In this case, whether I ought to work on the paper or ought to stay at home is determined by which of these reasons is stronger


Conflicting Reasons, Unconflicting ‘Ought’S, Gopal Shyam Nair Mar 2016

Conflicting Reasons, Unconflicting ‘Ought’S, Gopal Shyam Nair

Staff Publications

One of the popular albeit controversial ideas in the last century of moral philosophy is that what we ought to do is explained by our reasons. And one of the central features of reasons that accounts for their popularity among normative theorists is that they can conflict. But I argue that the fact that reasons conflict actually also poses two closely related problems for this popular idea in moral philosophy. The first problem is a generalization of a problem in deontic logic concerning the existence of conflicting obligations. The second problem arises from a tension between the fact that reasons ...


The Logic Of Reasons, Gopal Shyam Nair, John Horty Jan 2016

The Logic Of Reasons, Gopal Shyam Nair, John Horty

Staff Publications

Reasons figure large in our ordinary talk of deliberating about or justifying actions or conclusions. Suppose, for example, you want to convince a friend to dine with you at Obelisk tonight. Typically, you will offer reasons—there is a new chef, the reviews have been excellent. Or suppose you want to explain why you believe raccoons have been in the backyard. You will offer your evidence, again, typically, in the form of reasons—the garbage was broken into, those tracks look like raccoon prints.


Why Transparency Undermines Economy, Derek Clayton Baker Oct 2015

Why Transparency Undermines Economy, Derek Clayton Baker

Staff Publications

Byrne (Philos Top 33:79–104, 2005; Self-knowledge, 2011a; Consciousness of the self: new essays, 2011b; Proc Aristot Soc Suppl Vol 85:201–219, 2011c; Introspection and consciousnes, 2012) offers a novel interpretation of the idea that the mind is transparent to its possessor, and that one knows one’s own mind by looking out at the world. This paper argues that his (Byrne, Proc Aristot Soc Suppl Vol 85:201–219, 2011c; Introspection and consciousnes, 2012) attempts to extend this picture of self-knowledge force him to sacrifice the theoretical parsimony he presents as the primary virtue of his account ...


Akrasia And The Problem Of The Unity Of Reason, Derek Clayton Baker Mar 2015

Akrasia And The Problem Of The Unity Of Reason, Derek Clayton Baker

Staff Publications

Joseph Raz and Sergio Tenenbaum argue that the Guise of the Good thesis explains both the possibility of practical reason and its unity with theoretical reason, something Humean psychological theories may be unable to do. This paper will argue, however, that Raz and Tenenbaum face a dilemma: either the version of the Guise of the Good they offer is too strong to allow for weakness of will, or it will lose its theoretical advantage in preserving the unity of reason.


Moral Dilemmas, Gopal Shyam Nair Jan 2015

Moral Dilemmas, Gopal Shyam Nair

Staff Publications

A moral dilemma is a situation where an agent’s obligations conflict. Debate in this area focuses on the question of whether genuine moral dilemmas exist. This question involves considering not only the nature and significance of dilemmas, but also the connections between dilemmas, the logic of obligation, and moral emotions.


How Expressivists Can And Should Explain Inconsistency, Derek Clayton Baker, Jack Woods Jan 2015

How Expressivists Can And Should Explain Inconsistency, Derek Clayton Baker, Jack Woods

Staff Publications

We argue that several difficulties facing expressivist solutions to the Frege-Geach problem are paralleled by almost exactly analogous problems facing realist semantic theories. We show that by adopting a variation on a prominent realist solution, the expressivist brings her account of logical consequence closer to philosophical orthodoxy. Our discussion also demonstrates that a standard objection to expressivism is based on a misinterpretation of the Frege-Geach problem and that the expressivist can appeal to a wide range of attitudinal conflicts in her semantic theorizingfar wider than Mark Schroeder, for example, allows in his recent work.


Intrinsicality And Grounding, Daniel Graham Marshall Jan 2015

Intrinsicality And Grounding, Daniel Graham Marshall

Staff Publications

A number of philosophers have recently claimed that intrinsicality can be analysed in terms of the metaphysical notion of grounding. Since grounding is a hyperintensional notion, accounts of intrinsicality in terms of grounding, unlike most other accounts, promise to be able to discriminate between necessarily coextensive properties that differ in whether they are intrinsic. They therefore promise to be compatible with popular metaphysical theories that posit necessary entities and necessary connections between wholly distinct entities, on which it is plausible that there are such properties. This paper argues that this promise is illusory. It is not possible to give an ...


A Fault Line In Ethical Theory, Gopal Shyam Nair Dec 2014

A Fault Line In Ethical Theory, Gopal Shyam Nair

Staff Publications

A venerable idea in the history of moral philosophy is that central among the normative notions is the notion of goodness or value. This idea, which can be found at least as early as 1903 in G.E. Moore’s Principia Ethica, claims that goodness is central in that all other normative notions can be explained in terms of it. Moore’s approach and the dominant approach to the project of explaining the normative notions of rightness and what we have reason to do is the consequentialist program. While the most famous element of this program is the consequentialist moral ...


Consequences Of Reasoning With Conflicting Obligations, Gopal Shyam Nair Jul 2014

Consequences Of Reasoning With Conflicting Obligations, Gopal Shyam Nair

Staff Publications

Since at least the 1960s, deontic logicians and ethicists have worried about whether there can be normative systems that allow conflicting obligations. Surprisingly, however, little direct attention has been paid to questions about how we may reason with conflicting obligations. In this paper, I present a problem for making sense of reasoning with conflicting obligations and argue that no deontic logic can solve this problem. I then develop an account of reasoning based on the popular idea in ethics that reasons explain obligations and show that it solves this problem.


Why Intuition?, Jennifer Ellen Nado Jul 2014

Why Intuition?, Jennifer Ellen Nado

Staff Publications

In this paper I will argue that this entire dialectic is somewhat misguided. The mental states which are generally assumed to fall under the category of ‘intuition’ likely comprise a highly heterogeneous group; from the point of view of psychology or of neuroscience, in fact, ‘intuitions’ appear to be generated by several fundamentally different sorts of mental processes. If this is correct, then the term ‘intuition’ may simply carve things too broadly. I will argue that it is a mistake to focus on the ‘reliability of intuition’; empirical evidence suggests that the reliability of one type of intuition may tell ...


Aimless Science, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom Apr 2014

Aimless Science, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom

Staff Publications

This paper argues that talk of 'the aim of science' should be avoided in the philosophy of science, with special reference to the way that van Fraassen sets up the difference between scientific realism and constructive empiricism. It also argues that talking instead of 'what counts as success in science as such' is unsatisfactory. The paper concludes by showing what this talk may be profitably replaced with, namely specific claims concerning science that fall into the following categories: descriptive, evaluative, normative, and definitional. There are two key advantages to this proposal. First, realism and its competitors may be understood to ...


Husserl's Transcendental Idealism And Its Way Out Of The Internalism-Externalism Debate, Man To Tang Jan 2014

Husserl's Transcendental Idealism And Its Way Out Of The Internalism-Externalism Debate, Man To Tang

Staff Publications

This paper argues that through the conceptual distinctions between 'immanence' and 'transcendence' in The Idea of Phenomenology and The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, a proper understanding of transcendental idealism and 'transcendence in immanence' can avoid any metaphysical commitments of internalism or externalism, and reconfigure the debate on internalism and externalism by providing an alternative option. There are two interpretations towards whether Husserl is an internalist. The first one is that Husserl is an internalist as he employs the reduction method in order to 'returns to the inner mind'. The second interpretation, which is most welcomed by Husserlians, refutes the internalistic ...


The Abductive Case For Humeanism Over Quasi-Perceptual Theories Of Desire, Derek Clayton Baker Jan 2014

The Abductive Case For Humeanism Over Quasi-Perceptual Theories Of Desire, Derek Clayton Baker

Staff Publications

A number of philosophers have offered quasi-perceptual theories of desire, according to which to desire something is roughly to “see” it as having value or providing reasons. These are offered as alternatives to the more traditional Humean Theory of Motivation, which denies that desires have a representational aspect. This paper examines the various considerations offered by advocates to motivate quasi-perceptualism. It argues that Humeanism is in fact able to explain the same data that the quasi-perceptualist can explain, and in one case the Humean explanation is superior. Quasi-perceptual accounts of desire, the paper concludes, are for the most part unmotivated.


Information Versus Knowledge In Confirmation Theory, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom Jan 2014

Information Versus Knowledge In Confirmation Theory, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom

Staff Publications

I argue that so-called 'background knowledge' in confirmation theory has little, if anything, to do with 'knowledge' in the sense of mainstream epistemology. I argue that it is better construed as 'background information', which need not be believed in, justified, or true.


Intuitions In Science : Thought Experiments As Argument Pumps, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom Jan 2014

Intuitions In Science : Thought Experiments As Argument Pumps, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom

Staff Publications

This chapter presents and criticizes the two dominant accounts of thought experiments in science, due to James Robert Brown and John Norton; the mechanical thought experiment of Simon Stevin is used as an exemplar. The chapter argues that scientific thought experiments are strongly analogous to their ‘real’, actual physical, counterparts. In each kind of experiment, theoretical context affects which arguments are generated and/or thought to be sustainable on the basis of the states of affairs involved. The difference is whether the states of affairs are hypothetical and/or counterfactual rather than actual. This view is consistent with empiricism concerning ...


Popper's Measure Of Corroboration And P(H|B), Darrell Patrick Rowbottom Dec 2013

Popper's Measure Of Corroboration And P(H|B), Darrell Patrick Rowbottom

Staff Publications

This article shows that Popper's measure of corroboration is inapplicable if, as Popper argued, the logical probability of synthetic universal statements is zero relative to any evidence that we might possess. It goes on to show that Popper's definition of degree of testability, in terms of degree of logical content, suffers from a similar problem.


Empirical Evidence Claims Are A Priori, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom Sep 2013

Empirical Evidence Claims Are A Priori, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom

Staff Publications

This paper responds to Achinstein's criticism of the thesis that the only empirical fact that can affect the truth of an objective evidence claim such as 'e is evidence for h' (or 'e confirms h to degree r') is the truth of e. It shows that cases involving evidential flaws, which form the basis for Achinstein's objections to the thesis, can satisfactorily be accounted for by appeal to changes in background information and working assumptions. The paper also argues that the a priori and empirical accounts of evidence are on a par when we consider scientific practice, but ...


The Imagined Seeing Thesis, Paisley Nathan Livingston Jul 2013

The Imagined Seeing Thesis, Paisley Nathan Livingston

Staff Publications

Paisley Livingston asks questions about the arguments Philosopher George M. Wilson offers in order to establish that the Mediated Version of his Imagined Seeing Thesis is superior to other options.


Kuhn Vs. Popper On Criticism And Dogmatism In Science, Part Ii : How To Strike The Balance, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom Jun 2013

Kuhn Vs. Popper On Criticism And Dogmatism In Science, Part Ii : How To Strike The Balance, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom

Staff Publications

This paper is a supplement to, and provides a proof of principle of, Kuhn vs. Popper on Criticism and Dogmatism in Science: A Resolution at the Group Level. It illustrates how calculations may be performed in order to determine how the balance between different functions in science—such as imaginative, critical, and dogmatic—should be struck, with respect to confirmation (or corroboration) functions and rules of scientific method.


Group Level Interpretations Of Probability : New Directions, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom Jun 2013

Group Level Interpretations Of Probability : New Directions, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom

Staff Publications

In this article, I present some new group level interpretations of probability, and champion one in particular: a consensus-based variant where group degrees of belief are construed as agreed upon betting quotients rather than shared personal degrees of belief. One notable feature of the account is that it allows us to treat consensus between experts on some matter as being on the union of their relevant background information. In the course of the discussion, I also introduce a novel distinction between intersubjective and interobjective interpretations of probability.


Bertrand's Paradox Revisited : Why Bertrand's 'Solutions' Are All Inapplicable, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom Feb 2013

Bertrand's Paradox Revisited : Why Bertrand's 'Solutions' Are All Inapplicable, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom

Staff Publications

This paper shows that Bertrand's proposed ‘solutions’ to his own question, which generates his chord paradox, are inapplicable. It uses a simple analogy with cake cutting. The problem is that none of Bertrand's solutions considers all possible cuts. This is no solace for the defenders of the principle of indifference, however, because it emerges that the paradox is harder to solve than previously anticipated.


Analyses Of Intrinsicality Without Naturalness, Daniel Graham Marshall Feb 2013

Analyses Of Intrinsicality Without Naturalness, Daniel Graham Marshall

Staff Publications

Over the last 30 years there have been a number of attempts to analyse the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic properties. This article discusses three leading attempts to analyse this distinction that don't appeal to the notion of naturalness: the duplication analysis endorsed by G. E. Moore and David Lewis, Peter Vallentyne's analysis in terms of contractions of possible worlds, and the analysis of Gene Witmer, William Butchard and Kelly Trogdon in terms of grounding.


Three Paradigms Of Scientific Realism : A Truthmaking Account, Jamin Asay Jan 2013

Three Paradigms Of Scientific Realism : A Truthmaking Account, Jamin Asay

Staff Publications

This paper investigates the nature of scientific realism. I begin by considering the anomalous fact that Bas van Fraassen's account of scientific realism is strikingly similar to Arthur Fine's account of scientific non-realism. To resolve this puzzle, I demonstrate how the two theorists understand the nature of truth and its connection to ontology, and how that informs their conception of the realism debate. I then argue that the debate is much better captured by the theory of truthmaking, and not by any particular theory of truth. To be a scientific realist is to adopt a realism-relevant account of ...


Identification In Games : Changing Places, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom Sep 2012

Identification In Games : Changing Places, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom

Staff Publications

This paper offers a novel ‘changing places’ account of identification in games, where the consequences of role swapping are crucial. First, it illustrates how such an account is consistent with the view, in classical game theory, that only outcomes (and not pathways) are significant. Second, it argues that this account is superior to the ‘pooled resources’ alternative when it comes to dealing with some situations in which many players identify. Third, it shows how such a ‘changing places’ account can be used in games where some of the players identify with one another, but others do not. Finally, it illustrates ...


Analyses Of Intrinsicality In Terms Of Naturalness, Daniel Graham Marshall Aug 2012

Analyses Of Intrinsicality In Terms Of Naturalness, Daniel Graham Marshall

Staff Publications

Over the last thirty years there have been a number of attempts to analyse the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic properties in terms of the facts about naturalness. This article discusses the three most influential of these attempts, each of which involve David Lewis. These are Lewis's 1983 analysis, his 1986 analysis, and his joint 1998 analysis with Rae Langton.


The Instrumentalist’S New Clothes, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom Dec 2011

The Instrumentalist’S New Clothes, Darrell Patrick Rowbottom

Staff Publications

This article develops a new version of instrumentalism, in light of progress in the realism debate in recent decades, and thereby defends the view that instrumentalism remains a viable philosophical position on science. The key idea is that talk of unobservable objects should be taken literally only when those objects are assigned properties (or described in terms of analogies involving things) with which we are experientially (or otherwise) acquainted. This is derivative from the instrumentalist tradition insofar as the distinction between unobservable and observable is taken to have significance with respect to meaning.