Robert Gressis California State University, Northridge
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Affiliations
  • Faculty, California State University, Northridge
  • PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2007.

Areas of specialization

Areas of interest

My philosophical views


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My philosophical views

The answers shown here are not necessarily the same provided as part of the 2009 PhilPapers Survey. These answers can be updated at any time.

See also:

QuestionAnswerComments
A priori knowledge: yes or no?Lean toward: yesI don't know the field well, but my hunch is that we can know certain mathematical truths a priori, and that there are some conditions our minds need to impose on the sensible world in order to be able to experience it, and that coming to know what these conditions are might count as a kind of a priori knowledge.
Abstract objects: Platonism or nominalism?Lean toward: nominalismFrom what I read, the arguments for Platonism appear pretty strong, but I have a really hard time wrapping my mind around the notion that, say, numbers "exist". It seems like the wrong term to use to describe the status of numbers.
Aesthetic value: objective or subjective?Accept an intermediate viewMy hunch is that there are better and worse pieces of art within a genre, but that you can't rationally compare certain genres to each other. Thus, as far as mob movies go, Goodfellas is objectively better than mobsters, but Goodfellas is neither better nor worse than Groundhog Day. So there's some objectivity and some subjectivity.
Analytic-synthetic distinction: yes or no?Lean toward: yesAgain, I don't know the literature, but I think we know statements like "all bachelors are unmarried males" and "7=7" through analysis, so I think there are analytically true and synthetically true statements.
Epistemic justification: internalism or externalism?Accept: internalismI think internalism is correct about justification and externalism is correct about knowledge.
External world: idealism, skepticism, or non-skeptical realism?Lean toward: idealismThis, more than any other of my views, is a hunch. A hunch based on its quirkiness.
Free will: compatibilism, libertarianism, or no free will?Accept: libertarianismI think I'm literally incapable of believing that my actions and thoughts are all completely determined, and I think I'm free, so libertarianism, you're the winner!
God: theism or atheism?Accept: theismI like both Thomistic cosmological arguments and Kant's moral argument.
Knowledge: empiricism or rationalism?Lean toward: rationalismI take it to be the case that we can come to know non-empirical truths in mathematics; moreover, I believe we can show there to exist at least one entity (God) through a mix of empirical and non-empirical considerations (i.e., "something exists" and the principle of sufficient reason).
Knowledge claims: contextualism, relativism, or invariantism?Insufficiently familiar with the issue
Laws of nature: Humean or non-Humean?Accept: non-HumeanAnother one of my rare, strong philosophical convictions: I think substances have essences, and that these essences give them a range of powers, and that what is causally possible depends on what powers various substances have.
Logic: classical or non-classical?Lean toward: classicalI don't think a sentence like "this sentence is not true" has a truthmaker. Consequently, I don't think it counts as a true contradiction, because there's nothing to make it true. So, to avoid true contradictions and having to adopt a paraconsistent logic, I accept truthmakers. (Until someone tells me of the insuperable problems with truthmakers.)
Mental content: internalism or externalism?Lean toward: internalism
Meta-ethics: moral realism or moral anti-realism?Accept an intermediate viewI accept Kant's answer on the question. I don't know whether that makes me a realist or anti-realist.
Metaphilosophy: naturalism or non-naturalism?Accept: non-naturalismWell, I'm a theist, so I'm not a naturalist. I think, further, that naturalism has a problem with making sense of normativity and qualia, so I wouldn't be a naturalist even if I were an atheist.
Mind: physicalism or non-physicalism?Accept: non-physicalismI think reducing qualia to physical facts is akin to ignoring them. In addition, I'm open to the possibility that intentionality can't be explained physically either, and I suspect there are probably big problems accepting a coherent account of mental causation if you're a physicalist.
Moral judgment: cognitivism or non-cognitivism?Accept an intermediate viewI accept Kant's answer on the question. I don't know whether that makes me a cognitivist or a noncognitivist.
Moral motivation: internalism or externalism?Lean toward: internalism
Newcomb's problem: one box or two boxes?Accept: one box
Normative ethics: deontology, consequentialism, or virtue ethics?Lean toward: deontology
Perceptual experience: disjunctivism, qualia theory, representationalism, or sense-datum theory?Insufficiently familiar with the issue
Personal identity: biological view, psychological view, or further-fact view?Insufficiently familiar with the issue
Politics: communitarianism, egalitarianism, or libertarianism?Insufficiently familiar with the issue
Proper names: Fregean or Millian?Insufficiently familiar with the issue
Science: scientific realism or scientific anti-realism?Insufficiently familiar with the issue
Teletransporter (new matter): survival or death?Accept: deathThis is, strangely, one of my firmest convictions.
Time: A-theory or B-theory?Insufficiently familiar with the issueI think I'm entirely here right now, so I don't think I'm a space-time worm. If that means I have to reject the B-theory, then I reject the B-theory, though I'm not sure it does.
Trolley problem (five straight ahead, one on side track, turn requires switching, what ought one do?): switch or don't switch?Accept: switch
Truth: correspondence, deflationary, or epistemic?Insufficiently familiar with the issue
Zombies: inconceivable, conceivable but not metaphysically possible, or metaphysically possible?Accept an intermediate viewI accept Peter van Inwagen's modal skepticism, so I don't think we can know (at least, not right now) whether zombies are possible.