Basil Smith Saddleback College
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  • Faculty, Saddleback College
  • PhD, Cardiff University, 2006.

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About me
I am Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Chair of Philosophy and Humanties at Saddleback College, in Mission Viejo CA. I finished my Ph.D (thesis: "Cartesian Skepticism about the External World") at Cardiff University, under the direction of Christopher Norris. In that thesis, I defend such skepticism against epistemic and semantic objections. Generally speaking, I conclude that philosophical skepticism is true, such that, although we can have justified beliefs about the extenral world, they do not amount to knowledge.
My works
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  1. B. Smith (forthcoming). Ontology and Information Science. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  2. B. Smith (forthcoming). The Discovery and Development of Dolphin-Assisted Therapy. Between Species: Celebrating the Dolphin-Human Bond. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.
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  3. Basil Smith (2013). Epistemology, by Ian Evans and Nicholas Smith. [REVIEW] Teaching Philosophy 36 (2):204-209.
  4. Basil Smith, Internalism and Externalism in the Philosophy of Mind and Language. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    How are the contents of our beliefs, our intentions, and other attitudes individuated? Just what makes our contents what they are? Content externalism, as Hilary Putnam, Tyler Burge, and others have argued, is the position that our contents depend in a constitutive manner on items in the external world, that they can be individuated by our causal interaction with the items they are about. Content internalism, by contrast, is the position that our contents depend primarily on the properties of our (...)
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  5. Basil Smith (2012). Affect, Rationality, and the Experience Machine. Ethical Perspectives 19 (2):268-276.
    Can we test philosophical thought experiments, such as whether people would enter an experience machine or would leave one once they are inside? Dan Weijers argues that since 'rational' subjects (e.g. students taking surveys in college classes) are believable, we can do so. By contrast, I argue that because such subjects will probably have the wrong affect (i.e. emotional states) when they are tested, such tests are almost worthless. Moreover, understood as a general policy, such pretend testing would ruin the (...)
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  6. Hanno Sauer, Basil Smith & Jeremy Watkins (2011). Christopher Martin is a Researcher in the Faculty of Medicine and a Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. A Former School Principal, His Central Area of Research is Moral Philosophy and the Ethical and Political Foundations of Education. Email: Chris. Martin@ Med. Mun. Ca. [REVIEW] Ethical Perspectives 18 (1):163.
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  7. Basil Smith (2011). Can We Test the Experience Machine? Ethical Perspectives 18 (1):29-51.
    Robert Nozick famously asks us whether we would plug in to an experience machine, or whether we would insist upon ‘living in contact with reality’. Felipe De Brigard, after conducting a series of empirical ‘inverted’ experience machine studies, suggests that this is a false dilemma. Rather, he says, '…the fact is that people tend to prefer the state of affairs they are in currently,' or the status quo. In this paper, I argue that these studies are a test case for (...)
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  8. Jeremy Watkins, Basil Smith, Christopher Martin, Renate Pilapil & Hanno Sauer (2011). Matching Well-Being to Merit: The Example of Punishment. Ethical Perspectives 18 (1):5-27.
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  9. B. Smith & B. Klagges (2008). Bioinformatics and Philosophy. In Barry Smith & Katherine Munn (eds.), Applied Ontology: An Introduction. ontos. 17-30.
    The pathbreaking scientific advances of recent years call for a new philosophical consideration of the fundamental categories of biology and its neighboring disciplines. Above all, the new information technologies used in biomedical research, and the necessity to master the continuously growing flood of data that is associated therewith, demand a profound and systematic reflection on the systematization and classification of biological data. This, however, demands robust theories of basic concepts such as kind, species, part, whole, function, process, fragment, sequence, expression, (...)
     
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  10. Basil Smith (2007). The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 60 (3):696-698.
  11. Basil Smith (2006). Epistemic Luck, by Duncan Pritchard. [REVIEW] International Journal of Philosophical Studies 14 (2):291-295.
  12. Basil Smith (2006). John Locke, Personal Identity and Memento. In Mark T. Conard (ed.), The Philosophy of Neo-Noir. University of Kentucky Press.
    In this paper, I compare John Locke’s “memory theory” of personal identity and Memento (directed by Christopher Nolan). I argue that the plot of Memento is ambiguous, in that the main character (Leonard Shelby, played by Guy Pearce) seems to have two histories. As such, Memento is but a series of puzzle cases that intend to illustrate that, although our memories may not be chronologically related to one another, and may even be fused with the memories of other persons, those (...)
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  13. Basil Smith (2002). A Middle Way to God. [REVIEW] International Philosophical Quarterly 42 (1):138-139.
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  14. Basil Smith (2001). Davidson, Irrationality and Ethics. Philosophy Today 45 (3):242-253.
    In this paper I outline Donald Davidson’s account of two forms of irrationality, akrasia and self-deception, and relate this account to ethical action and belief. His view of irrationality is generally a Freudian one, to the effect that agents must compartmentalize both offending particular mental contents, and governing second order principles. Davidson also hints that his account of akrasia and self-deception might show certain normative and meta-ethical theories to be irrational, insofar as they too engender irrationality. I explore these hints, (...)
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  15. Basil Smith (2001). Mark Timmons, Morality Without Foundations: A Defense of Ethical Contextualism. [REVIEW] Journal of Value Inquiry 35 (2):269-273.
    In Morality Without Foundations, Mark Timmons argues that moral judgments (e.g. “cruelty is wrong”) have what he calls “evaluative assertoric content,” and so, are true or false. However, I argue that, even if correct, this argument renders moral truth or falsity mysterious.
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  16. Basil Smith (2001). Necessity, Volition, and Love Harry G. Frankfurt New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998, Xii + 180 Pp., $54.95, $17.95 Paper. [REVIEW] Dialogue 40 (02):411-.
  17. B. Smith & A. Cevolini (1999). Deferenza testuale. Divus Thomas 102 (3):92-116.
    Works of philosophy written in English have spawned a massive secondary literature dealing with ideas, problems or arguments. But they have almost never given rise to works of ‘commentary’ in the strict sense, a genre which is however a dominant literary form not only in the Confucian, Vedantic, Islamic, Jewish and Scholastic traditions, but also in relation to more recent German-language philosophy. Yet Anglo-Saxon philosophers have themselves embraced the commentary form when dealing with Greek or Latin philosophers outside their own (...)
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  18. Basil Smith (1999). Defending Theistic Proofs. [REVIEW] Philo 2 (2):58-63.
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  19. Basil Smith (1999). Wittgenstein's Thought in Transition, by Dale Jacquette. [REVIEW] Metaphilosophy 40 (4):373-378.
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  20. B. Smith (1998). Applied Ontology: A New Discipline is Born. Philosophy Today 12 (29):5-6.
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  21. B. Smith (1996). N. Martin and S. Pollard, Closure Spaces and Logic. [REVIEW] History and Philosophy of Logic 17:176-177.
     
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  22. B. Smith (1992). Le Strutture Del Mondo Del Senso Comune. Iride 9:17-39.
    The paper seeks to show how the world of everyday human cognition might be treated as an object of ontological investigation in its own right. The paper is influenced by work on affordances and prototypicality of psychologists such as Gibson and Rosch, by work on cognitive universals of the anthropologist Robin Horton, and by work of Patrick Hayes and others on ‘naive’ or ‘qualitative physics’. It defends a thesis to the effect that there is, at the heart of common sense, (...)
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  23. K. Schuhmann & B. Smith (1991). Neo-Kantianism and Phenomenology: The Case of Emil Lask and Johannes Daubert. Kant-Studien 82 (3):303-318.
    Johannes Daubert he was an acknowledged leader, and in some respects the founder, of the early phenomenological movement, and was considered – as much by its members as by Husserl himself – the most brilliant member of the group. In Daubert’s unpublished writings we find a series of reflections on Lask, and on Neo-Kantianism, which form the subject-matter of this paper. They range over topics such as the ontology of the ‘Sachverhalt’ or state of affairs, truthvalues (Wahrheitswerte) and the value (...)
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  24. W. Grassl & B. Smith (eds.) (1986). Austrian Economics: Historical and Philosophical Background. Helm Croom.
  25. Basil Smith, Cartesian Scepticism About the External World, Semantic or Content Externalism, and the Mind.
    This thesis has three parts. In the first part, the author defends the coherence of Cartesian scepticism about the external world. In particular, the author contends that such scepticism survives attacks from Descartes himself, as well as from W.V.O. Quine, Robert Nozick, Alvin Goldman, and David Armstrong. It follows that Cartesian scepticism remains intact. In the second part of this thesis, the author contends that the semantic or content externalisms of Hilary Putnam and Tyler Burge do not refute Cartesian scepticism (...)
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