T. Parent Virginia Tech

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:

A priori knowledge: yes or no?The question is too unclear to answer'Too unclear to answer' is itself an unclear answer (and it may be that all the questions here are "too unclear to answer"). But 'a priori' is a technical term, and it is used in different ways by philosophers. So for that reason, I single out this particular question as "too unclear to answer." I would grant that introspective belief can be "justified" (in at least one sense of that term). Yet I'm with Quine in that anything is revisable, and that for many purposes, there is no interesting distinction between dictionary vs. encyclopedic knowledge.
Abstract objects: Platonism or nominalism?Accept an intermediate viewInsofar as abstracta exist at all, they are imaginary objects which are imagined as mind-independent objects that necessarily exist. (This parallels the way that Pegasus is imagined as a mind-independent horse that possibly exists). But qua imaginings, abstract objects aren't actually mind-independent, nor do they necessarily exist. (The parallel is that Pegasus is not actually mind-independent and, if Kripke is right, cannot possibly exist).
Aesthetic value: objective or subjective?The question is too unclear to answerI'd need clarification on the objective/subjective distinction. On one construal, the categories are not exclusive: "Subjective facts," if they exist at all, are objective facts about subjectivity.
Analytic-synthetic distinction: yes or no?Accept an intermediate viewOn my read, Quine only rejects an *absolute* distinction between necessity vs. non-necessity. In _Word and Object_, "Intensions Revisited," and _Pursuit of Truth_ he suggests that it make sense to speak of what is "necessarily" true, relative to the assumptions of an inquiry. I agree. An analogous point holds re: analyticity.
Epistemic justification: internalism or externalism?Accept an intermediate viewI accept that there are different, legitimate senses of the term 'justification' and its cognates.
External world: idealism, skepticism, or non-skeptical realism?Accept an intermediate viewI defer to the skeptic in contexts where skeptical hypotheses are taken seriously, but talk in the manner of a non-skeptical realist in other contexts. Regarding the interpretation of this realist talk, I'm ultimately a quietist.
Free will: compatibilism, libertarianism, or no free will?Accept more than one(Humean) compatibalism is correct as far as it goes, but it concerns 'free will' in a different sense than hard determinism. The upshot is that, oddly, hard determinism and (Humean) compatibilism are compatible.
God: theism or atheism?Accept: atheismAlthough theism is fiction, a socially responsible theism may be a useful fiction.
Knowledge: empiricism or rationalism?The question is too unclear to answer
Knowledge claims: contextualism, relativism, or invariantism?Accept an intermediate viewSome uses of 'know' have a context-sensitive parameter; other uses do not. This is somewhat akin to 'them' being a pronoun on some occasions of use, and the name of a horror movie on other occasions.
Laws of nature: Humean or non-Humean?Agnostic/undecidedI would really like to be a Humean, and Quine's view in "Necessary Truth" is the sort of Humean I would be. But I'm more agnostic. And as with all ontological questions, I ultimately wind up in quietism.
Logic: classical or non-classical?Accept an intermediate viewLiar-sentences in nat'l language show that such languages are non-classical. But in most contexts, classical logic is justifiably assumed regardless.
Mental content: internalism or externalism?Accept: externalismExternalism is trivial if "content" is a function from environments to extensions. However, 'content' is a term of art, and it can be used to name things other than intensions. Even so, the best regimented conceptions of "content," I think, are all anti-individualistic.
Meta-ethics: moral realism or moral anti-realism?Accept an intermediate viewAn act/state is good to the degree that it satisfies peoples' (weighted) personal preferences (whether or not these preferences or their weights are known). However, in some contexts I'm an eliminativist about "preferences;" accordingly, in those contexts I'm a moral anti-realist.
Metaphilosophy: naturalism or non-naturalism?Accept an intermediate viewSometimes, but not always, we have no choice but to engage the "manifest image" (and there, philosophy is not necessarily continuous with science). But we should draw from the "scientific image" as much as possible.
Mind: physicalism or non-physicalism?The question is too unclear to answerIn some contexts, I aver eliminativism, and other times I do not. (This owes to 'exist' being a contextually shifty term.) In the latter cases, I occasionally deny physicalism since philosophers sometimes have a rather restrictive definition of 'physical'. On other uses of 'physical', I talk as a physicalist, yet am a ultimately a quietist on how to interpret this talk.
Moral judgment: cognitivism or non-cognitivism?The question is too unclear to answer'Cognitivism' can mean different things in this literature, so I'd first want to ask for clarification.
Moral motivation: internalism or externalism?Agnostic/undecided
Newcomb's problem: one box or two boxes?The question is too unclear to answerMost descriptions of the problem are cagey on what exactly we are assuming about the predictor. Basically, if we can reasonably believe there is a law-like explanation of her reliability (which need not invoke backwards causation), then one box. Otherwise, two boxes.
Normative ethics: deontology, consequentialism, or virtue ethics?Accept: consequentialismFor philosophical purposes, I'm pretty much a consequentialist, though sometimes the best way to maximize valuable consequences is not to think like a consequentialist. Also, n.b., one can accept consequentialism, without being a hedonist about "valuable consequences." (Instead, one might take a weighted count of the virtues that an act exemplifies.)
Perceptual experience: disjunctivism, qualia theory, representationalism, or sense-datum theory?Accept more than oneTalk about sense-data and qualia, I think, is best regimented as talk about merely intentional objects. But this concerns language; as for ontology per se, I'm ultimately a quietist.
Personal identity: biological view, psychological view, or further-fact view?Accept another alternativeFor a range of important cases, talk of "the self" is most feasibly regimented as talk of a fictitious object. Even so, talk about fictions is easiest to regiment as talk about things that exist (albeit things that exist as mind-dependent objects). But as usual, I end up in quietism after a certain point.
Politics: communitarianism, egalitarianism, or libertarianism?Reject allThere should be an option for responding "too hard to answer"
Proper names: Fregean or Millian?Accept: FregeanBut to be clear, one can accept Fregean senses without embracing his Platonism. One also need not say that terms refer to their senses in indirect discourse. Also, Fregean senses need not be "narrow contents," if senses are identified as Carnapian intensions rather than in descriptivist terms. But one could still invoke senses to explain Frege's puzzle about informative identity statements.
Science: scientific realism or scientific anti-realism?Accept an intermediate viewI talk as a realist, though I'm a quietist on how ultimately to interpret this talk. I take quietism about unobservables to be different from scientific anti-realism, since a quietist may *believe* the first-order scientific thesis "electrons exist." Yet s/he refrains from metaphysical claims about what the truthmaker is for this belief.
Teletransporter (new matter): survival or death?Accept: deathThere may be contexts where we'd say the person survives, but for most purposes, this is misleading.
Time: A-theory or B-theory?Accept: B-theoryI defer to physicists on this one.
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?Accept another alternativeI talk like a correspondence theorist though I'm ultimately a quietist
Zombies: inconceivable, conceivable but not metaphysically possible, or metaphysically possible?The question is too unclear to answerBoth "conceivable" and "metaphysically possible" are not sufficiently clear to be confident on the matter.