Steven Merle Duncan Bellevue Community College
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  • Faculty, Bellevue Community College
  • PhD, University of Washington, 1987.

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About me
Steven M. Duncan (1954-) earned his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1987 and is currently part of the adjunct philosophy faculty at Bellevue College. He is the author of five books, including The Proof of the External World (Wipf and Stock, 2008). A new book, How Free Will Works, is now available from Wipf and Stock.
My works
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  1. Steven Duncan, A Plea for Cardiognosis.
    In this paper, a follow-up to my "Seeing Other Minds," I encourage philosophers to explore the notion of cardiognosis - "knowledge of hearts" - as a unique, irreducible form of knowledge, and suggest some applications for this notion.
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  2. Steven M. Duncan, Can a Christian Be a Mycologist?
    I agree with about 95% of what Paul Moser has written in his book The Elusive God. However, I have three main points of disagreement with Moser, two of which I ventilate in this paper. The third I discuss in my paper "What's Love Got to Do with It?" also on this website.
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  3. Steven M. Duncan, Could Introspection Be Unreliable - Even in Principle?
    I argue that, despite claims that might be made to the contrary, no scientific evidence could ever prove that introspection is unreliable, even in principle. This paper was read at the annual POH symposium in Lake Wenatchee in May, 2011.
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  4. Steven M. Duncan, Can I Know What I Am ThInking?
    In this paper, I argue that, if a common form of materialism is true, I cannot know my own thoughts, or even that I am thinking. I conclude that, since I can and do know these things, materialism about mind as I characterize it must be false.
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  5. Steven M. Duncan, Compendium Metaphysicae.
    Recently, I was reading Kant's Critique of Pure Reason: Background Source Materials, and read selections from Wolff, Baumgarten, Crusius, and Kant's own teacher, Martin Knutzen. It was dope - real philosophical comfort food - and inspired this piece, written in the style of one of their textbooks.
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  6. Steven M. Duncan, Causal Necessity and the Future: Two Views.
    In this paper I offer an alternative to the standard, mechanistic/fatalistic account of causal necessity, one compatible with the existence of laws of nature but not deterministic in the way this is usually understood.
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  7. Steven M. Duncan, Could Sensation Be a Bodily Act?
    Hylomorphists claim that sensation is a bodily act. In this essay, I attempt to make sense of this notion but conclude that sensation is not a bodily act, but a mental one occurring in an intentional field of awareness.
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  8. Steven M. Duncan, Determinism and Luck.
    In the course of writing a book on Free Will, I took the opportunity to read a good deal of contemporary literature on the Free Will problem. This paper is a survey and reflection on that reading, responding to the current trends and state of play concerning the existence of free will.
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  9. Steven M. Duncan, Dualism and Neuroscience.
    In this paper, I offer a new account of mind/body interaction that shows how it is possible for an immaterial mind or soul to influence a physical system without entering the horizontal system of efficient causes studied by natural science.
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  10. Steven M. Duncan, Descartes and the Crazy Argument.
    In Meditation I, Descartes dismisses the possibility that he might be insane as a ground for doubting that the senses are a source of knowledge of the external world. In this paper, I argue that Descartes was justified in so doing, and draw some general epistemological conclusions from this result.
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  11. Steven M. Duncan, Desire, Love, and Happiness.
    In this paper, I explore the concept of happiness by relating it to those of desire, pleasure, and love, arriving at the classical view that objective happiness consists in the possession and enjoyment of the good.
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  12. Steven M. Duncan, Descartes' Refutation of Atheism: A Defense.
    Descartes argues that, apart from the existence of a veracious God, we can have no reason to believe that we possess reliable cognitive faculties, with the result that, if atheism is true, not even our seemingly most certain beliefs can count as knowledge for us. Since the atheist denies the existence of God, he or she will be precisely in this position. I argue that Descartes' argument is sound, and that atheism is therefore self-refuting.
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  13. Steven M. Duncan, From Private Experience to Public Language.
    After discussing the manifest inconveniences of Galilean physicalism for both science and common sense, I propose an alternate, Aristotelian ontology of material things and show how it solves the epistemological problems engendered by the New Science. Read at the annual POH Symposium in Lake Wenatchee, WA, May 2011.
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  14. Steven M. Duncan, God is NOT Hidden.
    In this paper I argue that there is no problem of Divine Hiddenness for Christians and offer an alternate explanation for the widespread claim that God's existence is hidden based on the Christian doctrine of Original Sin.
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  15. Steven M. Duncan, Happiness: A Preliminary Investigation.
    In this paper, I present the case for an objective, as opposed to subjective, conception of happiness along familiar, classical lines.
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  16. Steven M. Duncan, Having Faith in Reason.
    An Address delivered to the Seattle G. K. Chesterton Society at the University of Washington Newman Center, May 2, 2013.
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  17. Steven M. Duncan, How is Neuroscience Possible?
    In this paper, I argue that neuroscience not only is not complemented, but rather is positively undermined, by the substantive commitments of materialist philosophers of mind. Thus, we can have neuroscience or "neurophilosophy" but not both. Since neuroscience is a real science, to the extent that it is in tension with materialistic neurophilosophy, the latter should be abandoned and the former retained.
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  18. Steven M. Duncan, Kant and Theoretical Inquiry.
    This essay discusses recent attempts to show that Kant's philosophy is coherent and consistent on its own terms. This paper was read at the annual POH Symposium in Lake Wenatchee, WA in May, 2013.
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  19. Steven M. Duncan, Kant's Critique of the Ontological Argument: FAIL.
    In this paper, I argue that Kant's famous critique of the Ontological Argument largely begs the question against that argument, and is no better when supplemented by the modern quantificational analysis of "exists." In particular, I argue that the claim, common to Hume and Kant, that conceptual truths can never entail substantive existential claims is false,and thus no ground for rejecting the Ontological Argument.
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  20. Steven M. Duncan, Kant's Pre-Critical Proof for God's Existence.
    In his Beweisgrund (1762), Kant presents a sketch of "the only possible basis" for a proof of God's existence. In this essay, I attempt to present that proof as a valid and sound argument for the existence of God.
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  21. Steven M. Duncan, Mind, Body, Space, and Time.
    In this essay I explore some of the basic elements of consciousness from a substance dualist point of view, incorporating some elements of Kant's Transcendental Analytic into an overall account of the constitution of consciousness.
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  22. Steven M. Duncan, On Causation: With Special Reference to Hume.
    Hume was correct in his critique of causation as understood by the New Science, a critique deadly to both causal and scientific realism. Getting beyond Hume's critique of causation requires that we call into question the New Science's understanding of causation and replace it with a Neo-Aristotelian account of causal processes. In this paper, I try to point the way to such an account.
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  23. Steven M. Duncan, Pain and Evil.
    In this paper I defend the thesis that, considered simply as certain sorts of bodily sensations, pleasure is not the good nor is pain intrinsically evil. In fact, the opposite is largely the case: pursuit of pleasure is generally productive of ontic evil, and pain, when heeded, directs us toward the ontic good.
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  24. Steven M. Duncan, Possibilities That Matter I: Material Possibility.
    This is the first of a series of four papers presenting modal logic as a branch of material, rather than merely formal, logic.
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  25. Steven M. Duncan, Possibilities That Matter II: Material Contingency and Sufficient Reason.
    This is the second of a series of papers inspired by a paper I wrote around 1989. In this paper, I consider the notion of material contingency and relate it to the traditional, metaphysically loaded Principle of Sufficient Reason.
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  26. Steven M. Duncan, Possibilities That Matter III: Materially Necessary Being.
    This is the third in a series of papers on material modality, which explores the concept of a materially necessary being and argues that such a being exists.
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  27. Steven M. Duncan, Possibilities That Matter IV: The Ground of All Possibilities.
    This is the final paper in the Possibilities that Matter series and attempts to complete the project of constructing a material interpretation of modal logic.
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  28. Steven M. Duncan, &Quot;gods" Revisited.
    Inspired by Paul Moser's recent work, this paper presents a new parable on the topic of belief and unbelief in the tradition of Wisdom and Flew. -/- This paper was read at the annual POH Symposium at Lake Wenatchee, WA in May, 2010. An edited version of this paper has appeared in the second issue of the Seattle Critical Review (online).
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  29. Steven M. Duncan, Sin and Suffering.
    In this essay I discuss the concept of suffering, the causes of suffering, and the Christian solution to the problem of suffering. I conclude that there is no basis, within the Christian view of things, for raising the traditional problem of evil through reflection on the fact of substantial suffering in the world.
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  30. Steven M. Duncan, Theism and Christianity.
    In this essay, I investigate the implications for the discussion of theism in philosophy of religion for the beliefs of ordinary Christians and conclude that, in light of its historical development, those implications are minimal.
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  31. Steven M. Duncan, Toward a Kantian Ethics of Belief.
    In this paper, I discuss the Categorical Imperative as a basis for an Ethics of Belief and its application to Kant's own project in his theoretical philosophy.
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  32. Steven M. Duncan, The Burning Bush.
    In this paper, I present some ruminations on Hume's argument from miracles and the distorted view of rationality that it reflects (along with religious skepticism generally) contrasting it with what I take to be a better account of rationality, one more sympathetic - at least less hostile - to religious claims.
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  33. Steven M. Duncan, The Consequences of Neurophysiological Materialism.
    In this essay, I argue that neurophysiological materialism - the thesis that all of our mental contents are caused by non-mental, purely physical brain states - is epistemically self-refuting, and ought to be rejected even if it cannot be otherwise disproved.
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  34. Steven M. Duncan, The Inescapable Self.
    In this paper I discuss the existence of the substantial self and argue against those, like Hume, who deny its reality.
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  35. Steven M. Duncan, The Strange Case of Dr. DeVille, or Determinism and Rationality.
    In this essay, I use a thought experiment to illustrate the human predicament if determinism is true, then draw the implications of this result for human rationality. This paper was read at the Eastern Division of the Society for Christian Philosophers at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts in 2009.
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  36. Steven M. Duncan, What's Love Got to Do with It?
    I examine the notion of the authoritative command of divine love developed by Paul Moser in his book The Elusive God. Using a Calvinist objection to Moser's contention that God must love every one, including His enemies, I conclude that the notion of an authoritative command of divine love is paradoxical. I then offer a resolution of this paradox on terms that I judge to be in line with Moser's intentions.
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  37. Steven M. Duncan, Why Skepticism Fails.
    Do skeptical arguments undermine reason, as Hume supposes? In this paper, I argue that they do not and that skepticism is thus no threat to dogmatism about the possibility of knowledge.
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  38. Steven M. Duncan, Why There Can't Be a Self-Explanatory Series of Infinite Past Events.
    Based on a recently published essay by Jeremy Gwiazda, I argue that the possibility that the present state of the universe is the product of an actually infinite series of causally-ordered prior events is impossible in principle, and thus that a major criticism of the Secunda Via of St. Thomas is baseless after all.
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  39. Steven M. Duncan (2013). It's Murder!(?). Seattle Critical Review (3):8-12.
    Although this piece was inspired by the kinds of legal puzzles discussed by Hart and Honore in Causation in the Law, the puzzle cases presented here are intended to test the readers intuitions about what constitutes murder. Play along!
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  40. Steven M. Duncan (2012). Yeomans, Christopher. Freedom and Reflection: Hegel and the Logic of Agency. The Review of Metaphysics 66 (1):174-175.
  41. Steven M. Duncan (2010). Seeing Other Minds. Seattle Critical Review (on Line) 1 (1):1-30.
    In this paper, I offer an account of our knowledge of other minds based on V. C. Aldrich's account of aesthetic perception, according to which there is a sense in which we literally see other minds.
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