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:

QuestionAnswerComments
A priori knowledge: yes or no?Accept: yes
Abstract objects: Platonism or nominalism?Accept: nominalismThe only non-spatiotemporal entities I countenance are causal ingredients (say, universals) which might serve to explain how our universe comes to be. Which, ironically, are entities much closer to Plato's actual doctrines than are the causally inert posits of modern 'platonists'. Speaking of 'platonism' and 'nominalism' here is doubly misleading, since universals in this sense fit Plato's view but don't fit 'platonism', and since 'nominalism' sometimes means precisely the denial of universals (including concrete or intraworldly ones), rather than (as here) the denial of abstracta.
Aesthetic value: objective or subjective?The question is too unclear to answerThey're subjective in some senses, but objective in others.
Analytic-synthetic distinction: yes or no?Lean toward: noMay 2013: Haven't yet seen a convincing exposition of the distinction. Doubts about certainty, possibility, the relationship between logic and empiricism, and the concept of 'concept' seem to problematize it. I doubt there are determinate answers to questions like 'Is it a conceptual truth that all cats are animals?'.
Epistemic justification: internalism or externalism?Agnostic/undecidedI won't know whether the best set of epistemic norms is internalist until I've figured out what the best set of epistemic norms is, or at least figured out how to go about figuring that out.
External world: idealism, skepticism, or non-skeptical realism?Accept: non-skeptical realism
Free will: compatibilism, libertarianism, or no free will?Accept: no free willModally I'm a necessitarian, causally I'm a determinist, and even if I weren't I'd be a hard incompatibilist, following Nagel. Many philosophers seem to think that 'free will' just means 'will'. Attempting to strip 'free will' of any metaphysically or theologically controversial content serves no purpose except to mislead the public.
God: theism or atheism?Accept: atheism
Knowledge: empiricism or rationalism?Lean toward: empiricismBy 'empiricism' I mean, first, that I tend to err on the side of experiential and inductive rather than a priori justifications for my beliefs. And, second, I think our earliest sense-data has a profound effect on how our perceptual and conceptual categories develop, rather than our cognitive faculties being essentially rigid, input-independent, developmentally autonomous, and genetically fixed. I'm merely 'lean' because I imagine others have somewhat different doctrines in mind here, and because the distinction between the two is a matter of degree.
Knowledge claims: contextualism, relativism, or invariantism?Agnostic/undecided
Laws of nature: Humean or non-Humean?Accept: non-Humean
Logic: classical or non-classical?Lean toward: classicalWhich logic is most useful for a given task is an engineering question. And which logic best models actual human reasoning must obviously be nonclassical. In neither case is the question philosophically interesting. On the other hand, the corresponding metaphysical question 'Is reality in principle able to be fully modeled with classical logic?' is very interesting. I lean toward thinking that our universe lacks objective vagueness, objective indeterminacy, dialetheias, ineffable objects, etc.
Mental content: internalism or externalism?Agnostic/undecided
Meta-ethics: moral realism or moral anti-realism?The question is too unclear to answerIt depends on what counts as a moral property. Certain folk notions of morality are non-denoting; but physically plausible candidates in the same semantic neighborhood are relatively innocent. So in that respect I see myself as a realist in spirit, if not in letter: I think 'good' and 'obligatory' and 'fair' can be just as precise and respectable as 'table' or 'difficult' or 'angry'. But since my stricter view is more complicated, and since this question leaves underdetermined what's at stake.... Consider this a protest vote against obfuscating what's really at stake (which is, e.g., whether moral claims are 'legitimate') by crudely ontologizing it.
Metaphilosophy: naturalism or non-naturalism?The question is too unclear to answer'Naturalism' seems mainly to be used as a euphemism for 'adequately fond of science', while 'scientism' is a dysphemism for 'inordinately fond of science'. Endorsing the term promotes lazy thinking. It promotes false or trivial doctrines like 'methodological naturalism,' and encourages us to treat of religious and folkloric posits as a (perhaps empty) natural kind. If something more specific is meant by 'naturalism', coining a new term is preferable.
Mind: physicalism or non-physicalism?Accept: physicalismPhysicalism is not obviously or certainly true; but it is true.
Moral judgment: cognitivism or non-cognitivism?Accept: cognitivism
Moral motivation: internalism or externalism?Agnostic/undecided
Newcomb's problem: one box or two boxes?Accept: one boxSince one-boxing can be assigned any arbitrarily large agent-relative value, the only way to rationally two-box is if one assigns infinite value to some epistemic virtue like 'Thou shalt treat thine actions as causes, not as effects'. For instance, assign two-boxing the reward '$1 in cash' and one-boxing the reward 'save the life of the person you love most'. If you love anyone or anything more than you love the warm fuzzy feeling of getting to follow causal decision theory, then you're rationally obliged to one-box.
Normative ethics: deontology, consequentialism, or virtue ethics?Lean toward: consequentialismI find consequentialism the most useful (hence the most reflectively consistent) framework. But in themselves, practically speaking, these three approaches are not at all incompatible.
Perceptual experience: disjunctivism, qualia theory, representationalism, or sense-datum theory?Lean toward: representationalism
Personal identity: biological view, psychological view, or further-fact view?There is no fact of the matter
Politics: communitarianism, egalitarianism, or libertarianism?The question is too unclear to answer
Proper names: Fregean or Millian?Lean toward: Fregean
Science: scientific realism or scientific anti-realism?Lean toward: scientific realismCurrently flirting with sophisticated forms of structural realism.
Teletransporter (new matter): survival or death?Lean toward: survivalWhether we'd die or survive is mostly a matter of convention. And it's easy to imagine people growing accustomed to treating teleportation as survival; beyond that, there's no further fact. My future selves are already, in a weak sense, other people; the prudential and the moral bleed into each other. There should be separate options here for 'well, sure, technically, we'd die' and 'aughh!! we'd die!!!!!'.
Time: A-theory or B-theory?Lean toward: B-theoryI'm sympathetic to views that treat the past and future as 'less real' than the present. But relativity seems to seriously complicate and problematize A-theories.
Trolley problem (five straight ahead, one on side track, turn requires switching, what ought one do?): switch or don't switch?Accept: switchDepending on framing, I might feel uncomfortable making this choice. But I would hope that I value four human lives more than I value my scruples, reputation, or airy rationalizations.
Truth: correspondence, deflationary, or epistemic?Accept another alternativeCorrespondence is an extremely useful idea, because it reminds us of other useful ideas, like realism, thought-world resemblance, and watered-down truthmaker principles. But 'truth' as people actually use it has no one simple definition. The deflationary account is particularly lacking, as it strives mightily for triviality but falls short even of truth. ('Sherlock Holmes is a detective' is true, but not because Sherlock Holmes is a detective.)
Zombies: inconceivable, conceivable but not metaphysically possible, or metaphysically possible?Accept: metaphysically possibleI believe that zombies are not only possible, but actual; and that I am one.