Some philosophers assert that astrology is a false theory. The simplest way to argue against all astrology is to identify a proposition that any kind of astrology must be committed to and then show that this proposition is false. In this paper I draw attention to some misconceptions about which propositions are essential to astrology.
The students’ argument against the possibility of a surprise exam assumes that the following would not occur: the teacher decides to give the exam on a certain day, the exam would not be a surprise on that day, but the teacher does not realize this. I give a reason to reject this assumption, and I point out that an attempt to reformulate the surprise exam paradox in order to allow for the assumption does not result in an acceptable argument.
I identify an assumption that the students should not rely on. Even if students are entitled to assume that the teacher was sincere at the time of giving the exam announcement, there is a reason against them assuming the following: if the teacher believes that the exam will not be a surprise on a certain day, the teacher will not give the exam on that day. The reason I present does not involve doubting the moral goodness of the teacher.
This paper evaluates Jonathan Quong’s attempt to defend a version of political liberalism from the asymmetry objection. I object that Quong’s defence relies on a premise that has not been adequately supported and does not look as if it can be given adequate support.
This paper assesses an argument against the representationalist tradition in anthropology: the tradition of reporting how a cultural group represents the world. According to the argument, anthropologists working within this tradition cannot take the concepts of those they study seriously. I defend the representationalist tradition against this argument.
There is an intuition that the past does not ever change. In their paper ‘The puzzle of the changing past,’ Luca Barlassina and Fabio Del Prete argue that in 2012 the past changed. I show that we are not in a position to accept their argument.
Some political philosophers have judged that it is absurd to think that there can be unintentional consent. In this paper, I present an example of unintentional consent, which I refer to as the adapted boardroom example. I consider reasons for denying that this is an example of unintentional consent, but find that these reasons are unconvincing.
This paper evaluates the following argument, suggested in the writings of Donald Davidson: if there is such a thing as the given, then there can be alternative conceptual schemes; there cannot be alternative conceptual schemes; therefore there is no such thing as the given.
This paper evaluates a definition of anthropology at home formulated by Marilyn Strathern in her book contribution 'The Limits of Auto-Anthropology'. According to the definition, anthropology at home is anthropology carried out in the social context that produced this discipline. I argue that this is not an adequate definition of anthropology at home.
David Liggins and Chris Daly have argued against a recent trend in which some philosophical debate or other is said to be settled by claims from a discipline other than philosophy, because claims from that discipline entail a position on the debate and any claims from that discipline have greater authority than any philosophical claims when the aim is to extend our knowledge. They label this trend deferentialism. This paper presents a dilemma for their argument.
This paper presents a challenge to the coherence of social constructivism about science. It introduces an objection according to which social constructivism appeals to the authority of science regarding the nature of reality and so cannot coherently deny that authority. The challenge is how to avoid this incoherence.
This paper evaluates an argument from Donald Davidson against alternative conceptual schemes. The argument can be divided into two stages. In the first stage it is argued that only pluralities can be organized. In the second stage it is argued that if our conceptual scheme organizes a plurality and someone else’s scheme also organizes that plurality, there must be a set of common concepts, hence someone else’s scheme can never be an alternative scheme to ours. I object to the first (...) stage of the argument. (shrink)
Joseph Raz has argued that the problem of the amoralist is misconceived. In this paper, I present three interpretations of what his argument is. None of these interpretations yields an argument that we are in a position to accept.
This paper observes that P. F. Strawson’s distinction between descriptive and revisionary metaphysics is a baffling one from the perspective of traditional metaphysics. If one thinks of metaphysics as the study of the fundamental nature of reality, it is bewildering to divide up metaphysics in this way. The paper then tries to show how the distinction is no longer bewildering if we deny that such study is possible.
In her paper ‘An Awkward Relationship: the Case of Feminism and Anthropology’, Marilyn Strathern argues that feminist research cannot produce a paradigm shift in social anthropology. I reconstruct her arguments and evaluate them, revealing that they are insufficient for ruling out this possibility.
This paper evaluates a form of dualism, which is referred to here as the dualism of conceptual scheme and undifferentiated reality. According to this dualism, although reality appears to be divided into distinct things from the perspective of our system of concepts, it is actually not. I justify the view that this dualism is incoherent.
This paper evaluates an argument for the conclusion that in order to produce a viable objection to a particular error theory, the objection must not be applicable to any error theory. The reason given for this conclusion is that error theories about some discourses are uncontroversial. But the examples given of uncontroversial error theories are not good ones, nor do there appear to be other examples available.
The persistence of certain illusions has been used to argue that some theories cannot affect our perceptual experiences. Learning that one of these illusions is an illusion involves accepting theories. Nevertheless, the illusion does not go away. It seems then that these theories cannot affect our perceptual experiences. This paper contests an assumption of this argument: that the only way in which our perceptions can be affected by holding these theories is by the illusion going away.
In the sixth chapter of The View from Nowhere, Thomas Nagel attempts to identify a form of idealism. The position that he deems idealist is that what there is must be possibly conceivable by us. Nagel claims that this position is held by a number of contemporary philosophers. Even if this is so, I justify the view that it is not a form of idealism.
In the sixth chapter of The View from Nowhere, Thomas Nagel aims to identify a form of idealism, to isolate the argument for it and to counter this argument. The position that Nagel takes to be idealist is that what there is must be possibly conceivable by us. In this paper, I show that Nagel has not made a convincing case against this position. I then present an alternative case. In light of this alternative case, we have reason to reject (...) an important example that Nagel offers of a contemporary idealist, namely Donald Davidson. (shrink)
This paper disputes a common definition of token identity theory. It also observes that within the philosophical literature there are two significantly different definitions of token identity theory that are commonly used.