Do fetuses have a right to life in virtue of the fact that they are potential adult human beings? I take the claim that the fetus is a potential adult human being to come to this: if the fetus grows normally there will be an adult human animal that was once the fetus. Does this fact ground a claim to our care and protection? A great deal hangs on the answer to this question. The actual mental and physical capacities of (...) a human fetus are inferior to those of adult creatures generally thought to lack a serious right to life, and the mere fact that a fetus belongs to our species in particular seems morally irrelevant. Consequently, a strong fetal claim to protection rises or falls with the appeal to the fetus's potentiality, for nothing else can justify it. (shrink)
Contextualists offer "high-low standards" practical cases to show that a variety of knowledge standards are in play in different ordinary contexts. These cases show nothing of the sort, I maintain. However Keith DeRose gives an ingenious argument that standards for knowledge do go up in high-stakes cases. According to the knowledge account of assertion (Kn), only knowledge warrants assertion. Kn combined with the context sensitivity of assertability yields contextualism about knowledge. But is Kn correct? I offer a rival account of (...) warranted assertion and argue that it beats Kn as a response to the "knowledge" version of Moore's Paradox. (shrink)
This paper argues that there are no people. If identity isn't what matters in survival, psychological connectedness isn't what matters either. Further, fissioning cases do not support the claim that connectedness is what matters. I consider Peter Unger's view that what matters is a continuous physical realization of a core psychology. I conclude that if identity isn't what matters in survival, nothing matters. This conclusion is deployed to argue that there are no people. Objections to Eliminativism are considered, especially that (...) morality cannot survive the loss of persons. (shrink)
I find a lost wallet containing the owner's address and a lot of cash. Shall I keep it or return it? Suppose I have the ‘liberty of indifference’: whatever I do, I could have done otherwise. Indeed, part of what is meant in saying I act freely is that either way what I do is up to me. And let's allow this liberty requires that my choice is not a logical consequence of the past and natural laws. If I return (...) the wallet, I could have kept it without violating a law of nature or changing the past. Let's call this ‘situation S’ . Suppose I return the wallet.Others are also in S: free people find lost wallets every day. Each of us can freely return the wallet we find. It doesn’t follow immediately that we can all return it, however. That each ticket holder can win the lottery doesn’t entail they can all win it. We need the additional premiss that no number of people freely returning the wallet prevents the remainder from freely returning it. In short: each of us in S can freely return the wallet. Further, no number of us doing so prevents the remainder from doing so. Therefore it's possible that we all freely do what I do.According to Modal Realism , other possible worlds are concrete realities and the people in them as real as you and me. Some of these people are in S. Each of them can freely return the wallet; none of them is prevented from exercising that ability by others doing so, including others in worlds causally isolated from theirs. For instance, our doings in the actual world no more limit their abilities than …. (shrink)
Skepticism about the external world may very well be correct, so the question is in order: what theory of knowledge flows from skepticism itself? The skeptic can give a relatively simple and intuitive account of knowledge by identifying it with indubitable certainty. Our everyday ‘I know that p’ claims, which typically are part of practical projects, deploy the ideal of knowledge to make assertions closely related to, but weaker than, knowledge claims. The truth of such claims is consistent with skepticism; (...) various other vexing problems don’t arise. In addition, even if no claim about the world outside my mind can be more probable than its negation, the project of pure scientific research remains well motivated. (shrink)
Here is a simple counterexample to David Lewis’s causal influence account of causation, one that is especially illuminating due to its connection to what Lewis himself writes: it is a variant of his trumping example.
The Principle of Credulity: 'It is basic to human knowledge of the world that we believe things are as they seem to be in the absence of positive evidence to the contrary' [Swinburne 1996: 133]. This underlies the Evidential Problem of Evil, which goes roughly like this: ‘There appears to be a lot of suffering, both animal and human, that does not result in an equal or greater utility. So there's probably some pointless suffering. As God's existence precludes pointless suffering, (...) theism is implausible.’ CORNEA is the principle that observation O raises hypothesis H's probability only if O is more probable given H than it is given not-H. Theists sometimes maintain that apparently pointless suffering is just as likely given theism as atheism (I support this claim by appealing to a Lewisian account of the relevant counterfactuals). Given CORNEA, therefore, what we see of suffering does not make theism unlikely. I maintain that a consequence of so deploying CORNEA is that CORNEA and the Principle of Credulity are incompatible. We are left with a skeptical paradox. CORNEA is a consequence of Bayes’s Theorem, I argue; but it is incompatible with a presupposition of empirical science, namely, that appearances create epistemic warrant, ceteris paribus. External-world probability skepticism follows. I treat the paradox as real. First, I offer an account of how we strike a balance in practice between CORNEA, on the one hand, and the Principle of Credulity and the scientific enterprise on the other. Second, I try to resolve the paradox outright by rejecting the Principle of Credulity and maintaining that the scientific project remains well motivated even allowing probability skepticism. On either response to the paradox, the Evidential Problem of Evil continues to have serious, but defeasible, force against theism. (shrink)
Advance directives typically have two defects. First, most advance directives fail to enable people to effectively avoid unwanted medical intervention. Second, most of them have the potential of ending your life in ways you never intended, years before you had to die.
I argue that people who believe fetuses have the same moral right to life as the rest of us have sufficient reasons to refuse to classify abortion as legal murder and to refuse to punish abortion as severely as legal murder.
HOST is the theory that to be conscious of a mental state is totarget it with a higher-order state , either an innerperception or a higher-order thought. Some champions of HOSTmaintain that the phenomenological character of a sensory stateis induced in it by representing it with a HOS. I argue that thisthesis is vulnerable to overwhelming objections that flow largelyfrom HOST itself. In the process I answer two questions: `What isa plausible sufficient condition for a quale's belonging to aparticular mental (...) state?' and `What is the propositional contentof HOSs that target sensory states?'. (shrink)
This paper will argue that there are no people. Let me summarize the argument. In part II of what follows, I argue that if identity isn't what matters in survival, psychological connectedness isn't what matters either. Psychological connectedness, according to Derek Parfit, is the 'holding of particular direct psychological connections,' for example, when a belief, a desire, or some other psychological feature continues to be had ; psychological connectedness consists in two other relations—resemblance plus a cause that produces it. For (...) our purposes, to say of a relation that it is 'what matters in survival' is to say that it carries the burden of responsibility, remorse, and regret for past misdeeds; and that it is what makes rational the anticipation of, and the special hopes and fears we have about, our own future experiences. A consequence of II is that if identity isn't what matters in survival, either something other than psychological connectedness is what matters or nothing matters. (shrink)
This paper argues that reliabilist virtue epistemology is mistaken. Descartes supposes a supremely powerful deceiver is determined to trick him into believing falsehoods. Beliefs Descartes cannot rationally doubt, even allowing the demon’s best efforts, count as indubitable knowledge. I give an instance of indubitable knowledge and argue that it is not attributable to an epistemic competence. Since not all knowledge is virtuous, knowledge cannot be identified with virtuous true belief.
Suppose that reality consists of parallel universes of every variety imaginable. No path through space and time leads from one to another, and each universe is causally isolated from the rest. Some physicists believe a ‘multiverse’ hypothesis not terribly distant from this one simplifies quantum mechanics and provides an elegant explanation of why our universe has its particular laws. Suppose as science advances we come to accept the multiverse hypothesis, so construed.
I argue that being wide awake is an epistemic virtue which enables me to recognize immediately that I'm wide awake. Also I argue that dreams are imaginings and that the wide awake mind can immediately discern the difference between imaginings and vivid sense experience. Descartes need only pinch himself.
This paper argues that there are no people. If identity isn’t what matters in survival, psychological connectedness isn’t what matters either. Further, fissioning cases do not support the claim that connectedness is what matters. I consider Peter Unger’s view that what matters is a continuous physical realization of a core psychology. I conclude that if identity isn’t what matters in survival, nothing matters. This conclusion is deployed to argue that there are no people. Objections to Eliminativism are considered, especially that (...) morality cannot survive the loss of persons. (shrink)
'The Biological Approach,' Eric T. Olson writes, 'is the view that you and I are human animals, and that no sort of psychological continuity is either necessary or sufficient for a human animal to persist through time.' Human 'persons' are self-aware human animals which, as they aren't essentially self aware, aren't essentially persons. Ranged against this position is the 'Psychological Approach,' a spectrum of views according to which 'some psychological relation is both necessary and sufficient for one to survive.' The (...) Psychological Approach is sufficiently broad to include the view that you survive because of a relation between your basic mental capacities in a physically continuous realizer, e.g., your cerebrum. The Biological Approach merits more attention than it has received from philosophers, and Olson's lucid and engaging defense of it is welcome. His book is full of interesting arguments of which I will consider only the most central. (shrink)
Skepticism about the external world may very well be correct, so the question is in order: what theory of knowledge flows from skepticism itself? The skeptic can give a relatively simple and intuitive account of knowledge by identifying it with indubitable certainty. Our everyday `I know that p' claims, which typically are part of practical projects, deploy the ideal of knowledge to make assertions closely related to, but weaker than, knowledge claims. The truth of such claims is consistent with skepticism; (...) various other vexing problems don't arise. In addition, even if no claim about the world outside my mind can be more probable than its negation, the project of pure scientific research remains well motivated. (shrink)
The dissertation is composed of five papers, each of which either deals with a topic in contemporary metaphysics or uses concepts central to contemporary metaphysics as part of the machinery of its argument. Three papers deal with the problem of personal identity. In Hume on Identity: A Defense I argue that Hume, in maintaining that we are always mistaken in ascribing identity to persons, is presenting a fundamental metaphysical problem about identity through change, not trying to analyze the way we (...) talk about change as his contemporary critics charge. I explicate Hume's argument for this alarming conclusion and show it is far more powerful than has been realized. In Parfit on Identity, I criticize recent attempts to reduce persons to series of psychophysical states or stages. I outline a Realist account of persons and argue that identity is what matters in survival. In Memories, Brains, and Identity, I attack John Locke's contention that present identity is a function of present experience. I use counter-instances derived from the literature on split-brains to show that my present experience could have belonged to someone else. A consequence is that the memory criterion of personal identity is essentially incomplete. ;Examples from the literature on personal identity involving fissioning are central to Abortion and The Control of Human Bodies in which I argue that an organism with a strong right to life has a right to the continued use of the biological equipment, the use of which it acquires through the species-typical process of its own creation. A consequence is that if a fetus is a person, he has the right to the continued use of the mother's womb whether she has given it to him or not. ;The papers on Locke and Parfit rely upon the apparatus of possible worlds, which is central to Dreaming and Certainty. If I believe that I am in a world in which I have conclusive evidence that I am awake, and there is a possible world in which I have the same belief and it is false, can I know which is actual on the basis of the evidence I believe is conclusive? I argue that being wide-awake is a self-recognizing state: when I'm not in it I can mistakenly believe that I am in it, but when my belief is true, I know it. I argue that this enables me to recognize that I am not dreaming. (shrink)
Moderate Monism is the position that permanent, but not temporary, coincidence entails identity. Harold Noonan writes: " According to the moderate monist if God creates ex nihilo a bronze statue and later annihilates it, destroying both the statue and the bronze of which it is composed , the statue and the bronze are identical. If, however, God simply radically reshapes the bronze at t10 the statue ceases to exist and the piece of bronze survives, so despite their coincidence up to (...) t10 the statue and the piece of bronze are two things. ". (shrink)
This article argues that justified true beliefs in Gettier cases often are not true due to luck. I offer two ‘unlucky’ Gettier cases, and it's easy enough to generate more. Hence even attaching a broad ‘anti‐luck’ codicil to the tripartite account of knowledge leaves the Gettier problem intact. Also, two related questions are addressed. First, if epistemic luck isn't distinctive of Gettier cases, what is? Second, what do Gettier cases reveal about knowledge?