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Profile: Brian Weatherson (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, University of St. Andrews)
Profile: Brian Weatherson (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, University of St. Andrews)
Profile: Brian Weatherson (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
  1.  60
    Brian Weatherson (2016). Games, Beliefs and Credences. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (2):209-236.
  2. Brian Weatherson (2003). What Good Are Counterexamples? Philosophical Studies 115 (1):1-31.
    Intuitively, Gettier cases are instances of justified true beliefs that are not cases of knowledge. Should we therefore conclude that knowledge is not justified true belief? Only if we have reason to trust intuition here. But intuitions are unreliable in a wide range of cases. And it can be argued that the Gettier intuitions have a greater resemblance to unreliable intuitions than to reliable intuitions. Whats distinctive about the faulty intuitions, I argue, is that respecting them would mean abandoning a (...)
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  3.  32
    Brian Weatherson (forthcoming). Reply to Eaton and Pickavance. Philosophical Studies:1-3.
    David Eaton and Timothy Pickvance argued that interest-relative invariantism has a surprising and interesting consequence. They take this consequence to be so implausible that it refutes interest-relative invariantism. But in fact it is a consequence that any theory of knowledge that has the resources to explain familiar puzzles must have.
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  4. Ishani Maitra, Brian Weatherson & Jonathan Ichikawa (2012). In Defense of a Kripkean Dogma. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (1):56-68.
    In “Against Arguments from Reference” (Mallon et al., 2009), Ron Mallon, Edouard Machery, Shaun Nichols, and Stephen Stich (hereafter, MMNS) argue that recent experiments concerning reference undermine various philosophical arguments that presuppose the correctness of the causal-historical theory of reference. We will argue three things in reply. First, the experiments in question—concerning Kripke’s Gödel/Schmidt example—don’t really speak to the dispute between descriptivism and the causal-historical theory; though the two theories are empirically testable, we need to look at quite different data (...)
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  5. Brian Weatherson (2005). Can We Do Without Pragmatic Encroachment? Philosophical Perspectives 19 (1):417–443.
    I consider the problem of how to derive what an agent believes from their credence function and utility function. I argue the best solution of this problem is pragmatic, i.e. it is sensitive to the kinds of choices actually facing the agent. I further argue that this explains why our notion of justified belief appears to be pragmatic, as is argued e.g. by Fantl and McGrath. The notion of epistemic justification is not really a pragmatic notion, but it is being (...)
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  6. Brian Weatherson (2008). Deontology and Descartes's Demon. Journal of Philosophy 105 (9):540-569.
    In his Principles of Philosophy, Descartes says, Finally, it is so manifest that we possess a free will, capable of giving or withholding its assent, that this truth must be reckoned among the first and most common notions which are born with us.
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  7.  81
    Brian Weatherson (2009). Conditionals and Indexical Relativism. Synthese 166 (2):333-357.
    I set out and defend a view on indicative conditionals that I call “indexical relativism”. The core of the view is that which proposition is (semantically) expressed by an utterance of a conditional is a function of (among other things) the speaker’s context and the assessor’s context. This implies a kind of relativism, namely that a single utterance may be correctly assessed as true by one assessor and false by another.
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  8. Brian Weatherson (2007). The Bayesian and the Dogmatist. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 107 (1pt2):169 - 185.
    There is a lot of philosophically interesting work being done in the borderlands between traditional and formal epistemology. It is easy to think that this would all be one-way traffic. When we try to formalise a traditional theory, we see that its hidden assumptions are inconsistent or otherwise untenable. Or we see that the proponents of the theory had been conflating two concepts that careful formal work lets us distinguish. Either way, the formalist teaches the traditionalist a lesson about what (...)
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  9. Brian Weatherson (2001). Intrinsic Properties and Combinatorial Principles. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (2):365-380.
    Three objections have recently been levelled at the analysis of intrinsicness offered by Rae Langton and David Lewis. While these objections do seem telling against the particular theory Langton and Lewis offer, they do not threaten the broader strategy Langton and Lewis adopt: defining intrinsicness in terms of combinatorial features of properties. I show how to amend their theory to overcome the objections without abandoning the strategy.
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  10.  25
    Brian Weatherson (2016). Memory, Belief and Time. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (5-6):692-715.
    I argue that what evidence an agent has does not supervene on how she currently is. Agents do not always have to infer what the past was like from how things currently seem; sometimes the facts about the past are retained pieces of evidence that can be the start of reasoning. The main argument is a variant on Frank Arntzenius’s Shangri La example, an example that is often used to motivate the thought that evidence does supervene on current features.
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  11.  77
    Brian Weatherson (2012). Knowledge, Bets, and Interests. In Jessica Brown & Mikkel Gerken (eds.), Knowledge Ascriptions. Oxford University Press 75--103.
  12. Brian Weatherson (2004). Morality, Fiction, and Possibility. Philosophers' Imprint 4 (3):1-27.
    Authors have a lot of leeway with regard to what they can make true in their story. In general, if the author says that p is true in the fiction we’re reading, we believe that p is true in that fiction. And if we’re playing along with the fictional game, we imagine that, along with everything else in the story, p is true. But there are exceptions to these general principles. Many authors, most notably Kendall Walton and Tamar Szabó Gendler, (...)
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  13. Brian Weatherson (2013). Disagreements, Philosophical and Otherwise. In Jennifer Lackey & David Christensen (eds.), The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays. Oxford University Press 54.
    Timothy Williamson has argued that our evidence is what we know. This implies that anything we come to know by inference instantly becomes part of our evidence, and that all of our evidence is true. I argue that neither of these implications is correct. I conclude by noting a rival theory of evidence, one based on a suggestion Jerry Fodor makes in The Modularity of Mind , is not vulnerable to the criticisms I make of Williamson, nor to the criticisms (...)
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  14. Ishani Maitra & Brian Weatherson (2010). Assertion, Knowledge, and Action. Philosophical Studies 149 (1):99 - 118.
    We argue against the <span class='Hi'>knowledge</span> rule of assertion, and in favour of integrating the account of assertion more tightly with our best theories of evidence and <span class='Hi'>action</span>. We think that the <span class='Hi'>knowledge</span> rule has an incredible consequence when it comes to practical deliberation, that it can be right for a person to do something that she can't properly assert she can do. We develop some vignettes that show how this is possible, and how odd this consequence is. (...)
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  15. Andy Egan, John Hawthorne & Brian Weatherson (2005). Epistemic Modals in Context. In G. Preyer & G. Peter (eds.), Contextualism in Philosophy. Oxford University Press 131-170.
    A very simple contextualist treatment of a sentence containing an epistemic modal, e.g. a might be F, is that it is true iff for all the contextually salient community knows, a is F. It is widely agreed that the simple theory will not work in some cases, but the counterexamples produced so far seem amenable to a more complicated contextualist theory. We argue, however, that no contextualist theory can capture the evaluations speakers naturally make of sentences containing epistemic modals. If (...)
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  16.  57
    Brian Weatherson & Dan Marshall (2012). Intrinsic Vs. Extrinsic Properties. In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2014 Edition).
    I have some of my properties purely in virtue of the way I am. (My mass is an example.) I have other properties in virtue of the way I interact with the world. (My weight is an example.) The former are the intrinsic properties, the latter are the extrinsic properties. This seems to be an intuitive enough distinction to grasp, and hence the intuitive distinction has made its way into many discussions in ethics, philosophy of mind, metaphysics and even epistemology. (...)
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  17.  57
    Brian Weatherson (2003). Many Many Problems. Philosophical Quarterly 53 (213):481–501.
    Recently four different papers have suggested that the supervaluational solution to the Problem of the Many is flawed. Stephen Schiffer (1998, 2000a, 2000b) has argued that the theory cannot account for reports of speech involving vague singular terms. Vann McGee and Brian McLaughlin (2000) say that theory cannot, yet, account for vague singular beliefs. Neil McKinnon (2002) has argued that we cannot provide a plausible theory of when precisifications are acceptable, which the supervaluational theory needs. And Roy Sorensen (2000) argues (...)
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  18.  64
    Brian Weatherson (2014). Centrality and Marginalisation. Philosophical Studies 171 (3):517-533.
    A contribution to a symposium on Herman Cappelen's excellent book, "Philosophy without Intuitions".
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  19.  52
    Brian Weatherson (2013). Margins and Errors. Inquiry 56 (1):63-76.
    Recently, Timothy Williamson has argued that considerations about margins of errors can generate a new class of cases where agents have justified true beliefs without knowledge. I think this is a great argument, and it has a number of interesting philosophical conclusions. In this note I’m going to go over the assumptions of Williamson’s argument. I’m going to argue that the assumptions which generate the justification without knowledge are true. I’m then going to go over some of the recent arguments (...)
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  20.  29
    Brian Weatherson (2011). Defending Interest-Relative Invariantism. Logos and Episteme 2 (4):591-609.
  21.  95
    Brian Weatherson (2014). Running Risks Morally. Philosophical Studies 167 (1):141-163.
    I defend normative externalism from the objection that it cannot account for the wrongfulness of moral recklessness. The defence is fairly simple—there is no wrong of moral recklessness. There is an intuitive argument by analogy that there should be a wrong of moral recklessness, and the bulk of the paper consists of a response to this analogy. A central part of my response is that if people were motivated to avoid moral recklessness, they would have to have an unpleasant sort (...)
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  22. Brian Weatherson (2013). The Role of Naturalness in Lewis's Theory of Meaning. Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 1 (10).
    Many writers have held that in his later work, David Lewis adopted a theory of predicate meaning such that the meaning of a predicate is the most natural property that is (mostly) consistent with the way the predicate is used. That orthodox interpretation is shared by both supporters and critics of Lewis's theory of meaning, but it has recently been strongly criticised by Wolfgang Schwarz. In this paper, I accept many of Schwarze's criticisms of the orthodox interpretation, and add some (...)
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  23.  47
    Brian Weatherson, The Problem of the Many.
    As anyone who has flown out of a cloud knows, the boundaries of a cloud are a lot less sharp up close than they can appear on the ground. Even when it seems clearly true that there is one, sharply bounded, cloud up there, really there are thousands of water droplets that are neither determinately part of the cloud, nor determinately outside it. Consider any object that consists of the core of the cloud, plus an arbitrary selection of these droplets. (...)
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  24.  32
    Brian Weatherson (2015). For Bayesians, Rational Modesty Requires Imprecision. Ergo, an Open Access Journal of Philosophy 2.
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  25.  94
    Brian Weatherson (2001). Indicative and Subjunctive Conditionals. Philosophical Quarterly 51 (203):200-216.
    This paper presents a new theory of the truth conditions for indicative conditionals. The theory allows us to give a fairly unified account of the semantics for indicative and subjunctive conditionals, though there remains a distinction between the two classes. Put simply, the idea behind the theory is that the distinction between the indicative and the subjunctive parallels the distinction between the necessary and the a priori. Since that distinction is best understood formally using the resources of two-dimensional modal logic, (...)
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  26.  60
    Brian Weatherson (2005). Should We Respond to Evil with Indifference? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (3):613–635.
    In a recent article, Adam Elga outlines a strategy for “Defeating Dr Evil with Self-Locating Belief”. The strategy relies on an indifference principle that is not up to the task. In general, there are two things to dislike about indifference principles: adopting one normally means confusing risk for uncertainty, and they tend to lead to incoherent views in some ‘paradoxical’ situations. I argue that both kinds of objection can be levelled against Elga’s indifference principle. There are also some difficulties with (...)
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  27.  78
    Brian Weatherson (2004). Luminous Margins. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82 (3):373 – 383.
    Timothy Williamson has recently argued that few mental states are luminous , meaning that to be in that state is to be in a position to know that you are in the state. His argument rests on the plausible principle that beliefs only count as knowledge if they are safely true. That is, any belief that could easily have been false is not a piece of knowledge. I argue that the form of the safety rule Williamson uses is inappropriate, and (...)
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  28.  41
    Brian Weatherson (2012). Induction and Supposition. The Reasoner 6:78-80.
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  29.  87
    Brian Weatherson (2011). Stalnaker on Sleeping Beauty. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 155 (3):445-456.
    The Sleeping Beauty puzzle provides a nice illustration of the approach to self-locating belief defended by Robert Stalnaker in Our Knowledge of the Internal World (Stalnaker, 2008), as well as a test of the utility of that method. The setup of the Sleeping Beauty puzzle is by now fairly familiar. On Sunday Sleeping Beauty is told the rules of the game, and a (known to be) fair coin is flipped. On Monday, Sleeping Beauty is woken, and then put back to (...)
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  30.  52
    Brian Weatherson (2008). Attitudes and Relativism. Philosophical Perspectives 22 (1):527-544.
    Data about attitude reports provide some of the most interesting arguments for, and against, various theses of semantic relativism. This paper is a short survey of three such arguments. First, I’ll argue (against recent work by von Fintel and Gillies) that relativists can explain the behaviour of relativistic terms in factive attitude reports. Second, I’ll argue (against Glanzberg) that looking at attitude reports suggests that relativists have a more plausible story to tell than contextualists about the division of labour (...)
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  31.  52
    Brian Weatherson (2002). Keynes, Uncertainty and Interest Rates. Cambridge Journal of Economics 26 (1):47-62.
    Uncertainty plays an important role in The General Theory, particularly in the theory of interest rates. Keynes did not provide a theory of uncertainty, but he did make some enlightening remarks about the direction he thought such a theory should take. I argue that some modern innovations in the theory of probability allow us to build a theory which captures these Keynesian insights. If this is the right theory, however, uncertainty cannot carry its weight in Keynes’s arguments. This does not (...)
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  32.  60
    Brian Weatherson (2005). True, Truer, Truest. Philosophical Studies 123 (1-2):47-70.
    What the world needs now is another theory of vagueness. Not because the old theories are useless. Quite the contrary, the old theories provide many of the materials we need to construct the truest theory of vagueness ever seen. The theory shall be similar in motivation to supervaluationism, but more akin to many-valued theories in conceptualisation. What I take from the many-valued theories is the idea that some sentences can be truer than others. But I say very different things to (...)
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  33. Brian Weatherson (2005). Scepticism, Rationalism and Externalism. Oxford Studies in Epistemology 1:311-331.
    This paper is about three of the most prominent debates in modern epistemology. The conclusion is that three prima facie appealing positions in these debates cannot be held simultaneously. The first debate is scepticism vs anti-scepticism. My conclusions apply to most kinds of debates between sceptics and their opponents, but I will focus on the inductive sceptic, who claims we cannot come to know what will happen in the future by induction. This is a fairly weak kind of scepticism, and (...)
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  34.  79
    Brian Weatherson (2003). Are You a Sim? Philosophical Quarterly 53 (212):425–431.
    Nick Bostrom argues that if we accept some plausible assumptions about how the future will unfold, we should believe we are probably not humans. The argument appeals crucially to an indifference principle whose precise content is a little unclear. I set out four possible interpretations of the principle, none of which can be used to support Bostrom’s argument. On the first two interpretations the principle is false, on the third it does not entail the conclusion, and on the fourth (...)
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  35.  72
    Brian Weatherson, Stages, Worms, Slices and Lumps.
    Assume, for fun, that temporal parts theory is true, and that some kind of modal realism (perhaps based on ersatz worlds) is true. Within this grand metaphysical picture, what are the ordinary objects? Do they have many temporal parts, or just one? Do they have many modal parts, or just one? I survey the issues involved in answering this question, including the problem of temporary intrinsics, the problem of the many, Kripke's objections to counterpart theory and quantifier domain restrictions.
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  36. Brian Weatherson (2012). Explanation, Idealisation and the Goldilocks Problem. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (2):461-473.
    Michael Strevens’s book Depth is a great achievement.1 To say anything interesting, useful and true about explanation requires taking on fundamental issues in the metaphysics and epistemology of science. So this book not only tells us a lot about scientific explanation, it has a lot to say about causation, lawhood, probability and the relation between the physical and the special sciences. It should be read by anyone interested in any of those questions, which includes presumably the vast majority of readers (...)
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  37.  41
    Brian Weatherson (2003). From Classical to Intuitionistic Probability. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 44 (2):111-123.
    We generalize the Kolmogorov axioms for probability calculus to obtain conditions defining, for any given logic, a class of probability functions relative to that logic, coinciding with the standard probability functions in the special case of classical logic but allowing consideration of other classes of "essentially Kolmogorovian" probability functions relative to other logics. We take a broad view of the Bayesian approach as dictating inter alia that from the perspective of a given logic, rational degrees of (...)
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  38.  93
    Brian Weatherson (2002). Misleading Indexicals. Analysis 62 (4):308–310.
    In “Now the French are invading England” (Analysis 62, 2002, pp. 34-41), Komarine Romdenh-Romluc offers a new theory of the relationship between recorded indexicals and their content. Romdenh-Romluc’s proposes that Kaplan’s basic idea, that reference is determined by applying a rule to a context, is correct, but we have to be careful about what the context is, since it is not always the context of utterance. A few well known examples illustrate this. The “here” and “now” in “I am not (...)
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  39. John Hawthorne & Brian Weatherson (2004). Chopping Up Gunk. The Monist 87 (3):339-50.
    We show that someone who believes in both gunk and the possibility of supertasks has to give up either a plausible principle about where gunk can be located, or plausible conservation principles.
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  40.  31
    Brian Weatherson (2006). The Asymmetric Magnets Problem. Philosophical Perspectives 20 (1):479–492.
    There are many controversial theses about intrinsicness and duplication. The first aim of this paper is to introduce a puzzle that shows that two of the uncontroversial sounding ones can’t both be true. The second aim is to suggest that the best way out of the puzzle requires sharpening some distinctions that are too frequently blurred, and adopting a fairly radical reconception of the ways things are.
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  41. Brian Weatherson & Andy Egan, Epistemic Modals and Epistemic Modality.
    There is a lot that we don’t know. That means that there are a lot of possibilities that are, epistemically speaking, open. For instance, we don’t know whether it rained in Seattle yesterday. So, for us at least, there is an epistemic possibility where it rained in Seattle yesterday, and one where it did not. It’s tempting to give a very simple analysis of epistemic possibility: • A possibility is an epistemic possibility if we do not know that it does (...)
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  42.  30
    Brian Weatherson (2001). Indicatives and Subjunctives. Philosophical Quarterly 51:200--216.
    This paper presents a new theory of the truth conditions for indicative conditionals. The theory allows us to give a fairly unified account of the semantics for indicative and subjunctive conditionals, though there remains a distinction between the two classes. Put simply, the idea behind the theory is that the distinction between the indicative and the subjunctive parallels the distinction between the necessary and the a priori. Since that distinction is best understood formally using the resources of two-dimensional modal logic, (...)
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  43. Brian Weatherson, Reflections on Lewis, Naturalness and Meaning.
    It is sometimes claimed (e.g., by Sider (2001a,b); Holton (2003); Stalnaker (2004); Williams (2007); Weatherson (2003, 2010)) that a theory of predicate meaning that assigns a central role to naturalness is either (a) Lewisian, (b) true, or (c) both. The theory in question is rarely developed in particularly great detail, but the rough intuitive idea is that the meaning of a predicate is the most natural property that is more-or-less consistent with the usage of the predicate. The point of this (...)
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  44. Andy Egan & Brian Weatherson (eds.) (2011). Epistemic Modality. Oxford University Press Uk.
    There is a lot that we don't know. That means that there are a lot of possibilities that are, epistemically speaking, open. For instance, we don't know whether it rained in Seattle yesterday. So, for us at least, there is an epistemic possibility where it rained in Seattle yesterday, and one where it did not. What are these epistemic possibilities? They do not match up with metaphysical possibilities - there are various cases where something is epistemically possible but not metaphysically (...)
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  45.  82
    Brian Weatherson, Probability and Scepticism.
    If we add as an extra premise that the agent does know H, then it is possible for her to know E — H, we get the conclusion that the agent does not really know H. But even without that closure premise, or something like it, the conclusion seems quite dramatic. One possible response to the argument, floated by both Descartes and Hume, is to accept the conclusion and embrace scepticism. We cannot know anything that goes beyond our evidence, so (...)
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  46. Brian Weatherson, Disagreeing About Disagreement.
    I argue with my friends a lot. That is, I offer them reasons to believe all sorts of philosophical conclusions. Sadly, despite the quality of my arguments, and despite their apparent intelligence, they don’t always agree. They keep insisting on principles in the face of my wittier and wittier counterexamples, and they keep offering their own dull alleged counterexamples to my clever principles. What is a philosopher to do in these circumstances? (And I don’t mean get better friends.) One popular (...)
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  47.  71
    Brian Weatherson, Evidence Neutrality.
    • Perceptual Evidence is Psychological My perceptual evidence consists in facts about the psychological states I am in when undergoing a perceptual experience. (If you don’t think that evidence is propositional, the evidence might be the states themeslves; I’m going to presuppose evidence is propositional, and factive, for this talk.) So, for instance, my perceptual evidence might include that I’m visually representing that there is a table in front of me.
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  48.  53
    Brian Weatherson, Intuitions and Conceptual Analysis: Week Five.
    An important tradition in metaphysics takes its job to be finding a limited number of ingredients with which we can tell the complete story of the world (or some subject matter). Physicalism, for example, claims that the list of ingredients sufficient to tell the complete story about the very small, or about the non-sentient, is sufficient to tell the complete story about all of the world. Some people take the moral of this kind of metaphysics to be eliminativist; that we (...)
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  49.  44
    Brian Weatherson (2003). Epistemicism, Parasites, and Vague Names. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (2):276 – 279.
    John Burgess has recently argued that Timothy Williamson’s attempts to avoid the objection that his theory of vagueness is based on an untenable metaphysics of content are unsuccessful. Burgess’s arguments are important, and largely correct, but there is a mistake in the discussion of one of the key examples. In this note I provide some alternative examples and use them to repair the mistaken section of the argument.
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  50.  42
    Brian Weatherson (2003). Nine Objections to Steiner and Wolff on Land Disputes. Analysis 63 (4):321–327.
    In the July 2003 Analysis, Hillel Steiner and Jonathan Wolff propose a framework for “resolving disputed land claims between competing nations or ethnic groups.” The idea is that we should auction off the land, with the loser of the auction getting the money. While this might mean that the richer party will normally end up with the land, and this is normally not thought to be a good thing, if the auction is conducted as they specify “it will turn out (...)
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