David Robb Davidson College

  • Faculty, Davidson College
  • PhD, Cornell University, 1996.

Areas of specialization

Areas of interest

My philosophical views


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?Accept: yesBonJour's "Toward a moderate rationalism" seems right to me.
Abstract objects: Platonism or nominalism?Accept: nominalismYes to properties (tropes), but no to universals, classes, and abstract objects.
Aesthetic value: objective or subjective?Lean toward: subjective
Analytic-synthetic distinction: yes or no?Accept: yes
Epistemic justification: internalism or externalism?Lean toward: internalismInternalism for justification, but not sure justification (so understood) is necessary for knowledge.
External world: idealism, skepticism, or non-skeptical realism?Accept: non-skeptical realism
Free will: compatibilism, libertarianism, or no free will?Lean toward: no free willI suspect the ordinary concept (or concepts) is too much of a jumble. But some (compatibilist) replacement may do well enough.
God: theism or atheism?Lean toward: atheismI mostly go with Hume's Philo here.
Knowledge: empiricism or rationalism?Accept: rationalismChecked, however, by that passage about "fairyland" in Hume's Inquiry
Knowledge claims: contextualism, relativism, or invariantism?Lean toward: invariantism
Laws of nature: Humean or non-Humean?Accept: non-HumeanNo laws, just law-statements (and powers to make them true).
Logic: classical or non-classical?Agnostic/undecided
Mental content: internalism or externalism?Accept: externalism
Meta-ethics: moral realism or moral anti-realism?Lean toward: moral anti-realismI've wavered a lot on this. Might change tomorrow.
Metaphilosophy: naturalism or non-naturalism?Lean toward: naturalism
Mind: physicalism or non-physicalism?Accept: physicalismHard to answer this given that the term's meaning is contested. But I think that on at least one central understanding of the term, I'd count as a physicalist.
Moral judgment: cognitivism or non-cognitivism?Accept: cognitivism
Moral motivation: internalism or externalism?Insufficiently familiar with the issue
Newcomb's problem: one box or two boxes?Lean toward: one boxHaven't thought about this in a long time, but I recall worrying a lot about backtracking counterfactuals, which I'm told to reject, but instead just find very elusive.
Normative ethics: deontology, consequentialism, or virtue ethics?Lean toward: consequentialismCan't get my head around the other views.
Perceptual experience: disjunctivism, qualia theory, representationalism, or sense-datum theory?Lean toward: qualia theoryBut not if qualia are taken (by definition) to be non-physical. In any case, waver between this and representationalism.
Personal identity: biological view, psychological view, or further-fact view?Accept: biological viewAnimalism for the "What am I?" question. Not sure this entails the bio view of personal identity, but is certainly friendly to it.
Politics: communitarianism, egalitarianism, or libertarianism?Insufficiently familiar with the issue
Proper names: Fregean or Millian?Lean toward: Fregean
Science: scientific realism or scientific anti-realism?Accept: scientific realism
Teletransporter (new matter): survival or death?Lean toward: death
Time: A-theory or B-theory?Lean toward: B-theory
Trolley problem (five straight ahead, one on side track, turn requires switching, what ought one do?): switch or don't switch?Accept: switchI don't think the problem is whether you should switch in this case. (Isn't it clear you should switch?) The problem is why you should switch in this case but not switch (or push) in another case that appears the same in all morally relevant respects. (Sally Haslanger makes a similar point commenting on her own views.)
Truth: correspondence, deflationary, or epistemic?Lean toward: correspondenceWaver between correspondence and deflationary (and suspect that there might not be a substantive difference between the two).
Zombies: inconceivable, conceivable but not metaphysically possible, or metaphysically possible?Lean toward: conceivable but not metaphysically possible