In a recent paper we argued that a Moorean strategy can be employed to justify our continuing to believe the following proposition, even in the presence of philosophical views that entail it is false, without any philosophical argument against those views, and without any positive philosophical argument in its favour: -/- H>A: Humans have an equal moral status that is higher than the moral status of non-human animals. -/- The basic idea is that our confidence in the (...) truth of this proposition is greater than our confidence in the propositions that make up those philosophical views that entail it is false, and that this is sufficient to justify rejecting those views and to continue to believe H>A. -/- Roberts has recently responded to our argument by claiming: -/- (i) Although the Moorean strategy is valid, it is not powerful. (ii) A resort to the Moorean strategy reflects too great a pessimism about the accounts available that purport to justify H>A. -/- In this short rejoinder we explain why Roberts fails to establish his two claims. (shrink)
This paper is about the moral status of those human beings with profound intellectual disabilities (PIDs). We hold the common sense view that they have equal status to ‘normal’ human beings, and a higher status than any non-human animal. We start with an admission, however: we don’t know how to give a fully satisfying theoretical account of the grounds of moral status that explains this view. And in fact, not only do we not know how to give such an account, (...) but the most satisfying account of moral status that we know (which we call ‘the standard account’) entails that our view is false. It entails that those with PIDs have a lower status than ordinary human beings and an equal status to non-human animals. Now, in this paper, we do absolutely nothing to try to show where the standard account goes wrong, and we do absolutely nothing to resolve the difficulties we see in developing an alternative account that supports our view. Indeed, we do not give any argument against the standard account or in favour of our own view. Instead, we raise the following question: in order to be justified in continuing to hold our view, are we obliged to give such an account? Our answer will be that we are not. (shrink)
In this paper I defend what I call the argument from epistemic reasons against the moral error theory. I argue that the moral error theory entails that there are no epistemic reasons for belief and that this is bad news for the moral error theory since, if there are no epistemic reasons for belief, no one knows anything. If no one knows anything, then no one knows that there is thought when they are thinking, and no one knows that (...) they do not know everything. And it could not be the case that we do not know that there is thought when we believe that there is thought and that we do not know that we do not know everything. I address several objections to the claim that the moral error theory entails that there are no epistemic reasons for belief. It might seem that arguing against the error theory on the grounds that it entails that no one knows anything is just providing a Mooreanargument against the moral error theory. I show that even if my argument against the error theory is indeed a Moorean one, it avoids Streumer's, McPherson's and Olson's objections to previous Moorean arguments against the error theory and is a more powerful argument against the error theory than Moore's argument against external world skepticism is against external world skepticism. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend Moorean Dogmatism against a novel objection raised by Adam Leite. Leite locates the defectiveness of the Moorean reasoning explicitly not in the failure of the Mooreanargument to transmit warrant from its premises to its conclusion but rather in the failure of an epistemic agent to satisfy certain epistemic responsibilities that arise in the course of conscious and deliberate reasoning. I will first show that there exist cases of Moorean reasoning (...) that are not put into jeopardy by the considerations that Leite presents. Second, I will argue that certain commitments of Leite’s concerning the notion of warrant are in tension with his verdict that the Moorean reasoning is defective. (shrink)
Throughout the history of western philosophy, the Socratic injunction to ‘follow the argument where it leads’ has exerted a powerful attraction. But what is it, exactly, to follow the argument where it leads? I explore this intellectual ideal and offer a modest proposal as to how we should understand it. On my proposal, following the argument where it leaves involves a kind of modalized reasonableness. I then consider the relationship between the ideal and common sense or ‘ (...) class='Hi'>Moorean’ responses to revisionary philosophical theorizing. (shrink)
Philosophers have offered several apparently powerful arguments against the permissibility of eating meat. However, the idea that it is okay to eat meat can seem like a bit of ethical common sense. This paper examines the attempt to adapt one of the most influential philosophical defenses of common sense –G. E. Moore’s case against the skeptic andthe idealist –in support of the omnivore. I first introduce and explain Moore’s argument against the skeptic. I then explain how that argument (...) can be adapted to address two influential philosophical arguments against the omnivore, due to Tom Regan and James Rachels. The adapted Moorean arguments appear strikingly similar to the original. However, I argue that we should not simply assume that all Moorean arguments are created equal. Instead, I propose a set of principled criteria that can be used to test Moorean arguments on a case-by-case basis. Those criteria give the Moorean reason for optimism against the skeptic, but suggest that the Moorean’s case is much weaker against the ethical vegetarian. I conclude that the Moorean omnivore’s argument has potentially uncomfortable implications for all sides in debates about ethical vegetarianism, and illuminates important and neglected questions about the force of philosophical arguments in applied ethics. (shrink)
Within the framework of the epistemological debate on disagreement, this paper aims to examine the sceptical thesis that holds that, if it is impossible to rationally choose among two excluding positions, the only sensible or rational thing to do is to suspend judgement. The idea that ordinary life does not constitute the source of scepticism is presented, which rules out real disagreement between epistemic pairs as its foundation. Sceptical scenes differ ontologically from everyday scenes, without such ontological difference entailing an (...) epistemic difference, since epistemic practices do not vary from one sceptical scene to other types of scenes. (shrink)
A Moorean fact, in the words of the late David Lewis, is ‘one of those things that we know better than we know the premises of any philosophical argument to the contrary’. Lewis opens his seminal paper ‘Elusive Knowledge’ with the following declaration.
Much of the recent debate regarding scepticism has focussed on a certain template sceptical argument and a rather restricted set of proposals concerning how one might deal with that argument. Throughout this debate the ‘Moorean’ response to scepticism is often cited as a paradigm example of how one should not respond to the sceptical argument, so conceived. As I argue in this paper, however, there are ways of resurrecting the Moorean response to the sceptic. In (...) particular, I consider the prospects for three such proposals in this regard: a classical epistemic internalist neo-Mooreanism, a classical epistemic externalist neo-Mooreanism, and a non-classical McDowellian epistemic internalist neo-Mooreanism, and maintain that the last two of these proposals (both of which make appeal to a disjunctivist account of perception, broadly conceived) merit further exploration. Indeed, I claim that a suitably qualified version of neo-Mooreanism would actually sit quite well with the general philosophical motivations behind other key anti-sceptical views and I argue that given this fact neo-Mooreanism is actually at a dialectical advantage relative to other views when it comes to dealing with the sceptical problem as it is typically conceived. (shrink)
According to dogmatism, one may know a proposition by inferring it from a set of evidence even if one has no independent grounds for rejecting a skeptical hypothesis compatible with one’s evidence but incompatible with one’s conclusion. Despite its intuitive attractions, many philosophers have argued that dogmatism goes wrong because they have thought that it licenses Moorean reasoning — i.e., reasoning in which one uses the conclusion of an inference as a premise in an argument against a skeptical (...) hypothesis that would undermine that very inference. In this paper I defend dogmatism against this line of thought. To begin with, I argue that the common assumption that uncontroversial Bayesian principles suffice to show that Moorean reasoning is not cogent is false: for all that Bayesianism says on the matter, Moorean reasoning might be perfectly fine. Nevertheless, Moorean reasoning does seem intuitively defective. As I argue, however, this does not provide grounds for an argument against dogmatism, because — contrary to what many philosophers have thought — dogmatism need not license Moorean reasoning. On the contrary, as I argue, dogmatism predicts that Moorean reasoning suffers from a clearly identifiable defect. (shrink)
Epistemological disjunctivists make appeal to Moorean-style anti-skeptical arguments. It is often held that one problem with using Moorean-style arguments in the context of a response to skepticism is that such arguments are subject to a kind of epistemic circularity. The specific kind of epistemic failure involved has come to be known as a failure of warrant transmission. It would likely pose a problem for the anti-skeptical ambitions of the epistemological disjunctivist if his version of the Moorean-style (...) class='Hi'>argument failed to transmit warrant; but no epistemological disjunctivist has offered an argument to show that this is not so. In this paper, I fill the gap by arguing that warrant transmits across epistemological disjunctivist Moorean-style arguments. (shrink)
One of the most important views in the recent discussion of epistemological scepticism is Neo-Mooreanism. It turns a well-known kind of sceptical argument (the dreaming argument and its different versions) on its head by starting with ordinary knowledge claims and concluding that we know that we are not in a sceptical scenario. This paper argues that George Edward Moore was not a Moorean in this sense. Moore replied to other forms of scepticism than those mostly discussed nowadays. (...) His own anti-sceptical position turns out to be very subtle and complex; furthermore it changed over time. This paper follows Moore's views of what the sceptical problem is and how one should respond to it through a series of crucial papers with the main focus being on Moore's 'Proof of an External World'. An appendix deals with the much neglected relation between epistemological scepticism and moral scepticism in Moore. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss and try to remove some major stumbling blocks for a Moorean buck-passing account of reasons in terms of value (MBP): There is a pro tanto reason to favour X if and only if X is intrinsically good, or X is instrumentally good, or favouring X is intrinsically good, or favouring X is instrumentally good. I suggest that MBP can embrace and explain the buck-passing intuition behind the far more popular buck-passing account of value, and (...) has the means to avoid the wrong kind of reasons problem. Further, I counter the common suspicion that a Moorean account cannot make sense of deontological views such as Ross’s, and that it generally leaves no room for agent-relative reasons. In order to do this, I appeal to the idea that a Moorean account does not dictate the substantive view that values have to be maximized. In some cases, expressing them might be a better response. Finally I lay out and reply to a potentially devastating argument to the effect that a Moorean account makes oughts and reasons non-normative. I also criticize Scanlon’s attempt to favour his own buck-passing account via consideration of the open question argument. MBP thus emerges as a live option in the buck-passing debate. (shrink)
Simon Blackburn’s supervenience argument against moral realism has been widely discussed since its first appearance more than thirty years ago. A number of different suggestions have been made as to how the argument can be countered. In a review of Blackburn’s Spreading the Word, Crispin Wright comments on the argument and rather briefly points out some technical difficulties with it that arise from the formula used in the definition of supervenience. In this paper, I try to show, (...) building on Wright’s criticism and taking a number of new objections into consideration, that the Moorean realist can meet Blackburn’s explanatory charge. (shrink)
Moore's Open Question Arguments are among the most influential arguments in 20th Century metaethical thought. But, surprisingly, there is a fair amount of confusion concerning what the Open Question Arguments actually are, how the Moorean passages should be interpreted, and what they are intended to show. Thus, the early chapters are devoted to clarificatory matters, including the exposing of a variety of contemporary attacks upon Moore's arguments as misguided by indicating where they rest upon faulty interpretations of Moorean (...) passages. Providing what I take to be accurate formulations of Moore's famous arguments, responding to historically important preliminary objections, and, finally, presenting various shortcomings of these arguments constitute the remaining themes of the early chapters. ;Next, I pursue an explanation of what I call the 'Open Question phenomenon': the inclination that many have to endorse Moore's "open question" premises. I survey a variety of popular noncognitivist explanations, arguing that each of them is unsatisfactory. I then present a novel semantic explanation of the phenomenon and use it to construct an augmented Moorean Open Question Argument, one capable of overcoming the shortcomings of Moore's originals. ;The latter chapters are dedicated to an investigation of Moore's preferred normative theory---a version of objective consequentialism. I argue that the standard semantic account of subjunctive conditionals fails to capture the nature of certain subjunctive conditionals relevant to the normative evaluation of alternatives from an objective consequentialist perspective. I then present a modified version of the standard account in an effort to remedy the problem. ;Next, I present a novel objection against all extant versions of objective consequentialism. I then introduce and utilize the concept of an "objective" subjunctive probability in the transformation of a subjective version of consequentialism into an objective version, one capable of dealing with the difficulties posed by the objection. ;I conclude the dissertation with a final chapter in which I defend possibilist versions of consequentialism from a contemporary objection. In doing so, I elucidate a theoretical advantage that possibilist theories have over their subjunctive counterparts. (shrink)
In this paper Timothy Williamson’s argument that the knowledge norm of assertion is the best explanation of the unassertability of Morrean sentences is challenged and an alternative account of the norm of assertion is defended.
In part one I present a positive argument for the claim that philosophical argument can rationally overturn common sense. It is widely agreed that science can overturn common sense. But every scientific argument, I argue, relies on philosophical assumptions. If the scientific argument succeeds, then its philosophical assumptions must be more worthy of belief than the common sense proposition under attack. But this means there could be a philosophical argument against common sense, each of whose (...) premises is just as worthy of belief as the scientist’s philosophical assumptions. If so, then the purely philosophical argument will also succeed. In part two I consider three motivations, each of which comprises a distinct philosophical methodology, for the opposing view: (1) the Moorean idea that common sense enjoys greater plausibility than philosophy; (2) case judgments should trump general principles; (3) reflective equilibrium and conservatism. I argue that all three motivations fail. (shrink)
My focus will be on two questions about Moore’s justification to believe the premises and the conclusion of the argument above. At stake is what makes it possible for our experiences to justify our beliefs, and what makes it possible for us to be justified in disbelieving skeptical..
In the paper I voice my dissatisfaction with the author's essay because I think that the proposed “McClellean shift” from skeptical to trusting theism faces serious problems. The troubles are mainly caused by the way in which McClellan suggests to extend and “amend” the theist’s argument via the Moorean shift (which is intended to be a counter-argument to the atheist’s evidential argument from evil). But McClellan's proposal is no amendment at all, as it robs the theist's (...) Moore-inspired argument its entire logico-probabilistic force. (shrink)
The paper reconstructs Moore's Open Question Argument (OQA) and discusses its rise and fall. There are three basic objections to the OQA: Geach's point, that Moore presupposes that ?good? is a predicative adjective (whereas it is in fact attributive); Lewy's point, that it leads straight to the Paradox of Analysis; and Durrant's point that even if 'good' is not synonymous with any naturalistic predicate, goodness might be synthetically identical with a naturalistic property. As against Geach, I argue that 'good' (...) has both predicative and attributive uses and that in moral contexts it is difficult to give a naturalistic account of the attributive 'good'. To deal with Lewy, I reformulate the OQA. But the bulk of the paper is devoted to Durrant's objection. I argue that the post-Moorean programme of looking for synthetic identities between moral and naturalistic properties is either redundant or impossible. For it can be carried through only if 'good' expresses an empirical concept, in which case it is redundant since naturalism is true. But 'good' does not express an empirical concept (a point proved by the reformulated OQA). Hence synthetic naturalism is impossible. I discuss direct reference as a possible way out for the synthetic naturalist and conclude that it will not work. The OQA may be a bit battered but it works after a fashion. (shrink)
This chapter focuses on the responses that proponents of virtue epistemology (VE) make to radical skepticism and particularly to two related forms of it, Pyrrhonian skepticism and the “underdetermination-based” argument, both of which have been receiving widening attention in recent debate. Section 1 of the chapter briefly articulates these two skeptical arguments and their interrelationship, while section 2 explains the close connection between a virtue-theoretic and a neo-Moorean response to them. In sections 3 and 4 I advance arguments (...) for improving the prospects of virtue-theoretic responses, sketching a particular version of VE that by recasting somewhat how we understand the “externalist turn in epistemology” also suggests ways of improving the adequacy of philosophical diagnoses and responses to skepticism. (shrink)
Offering a solution to the skeptical puzzle is a central aim of Nozick's sensitivity account of knowledge. It is well-known that this account faces serious problems. However, because of its simplicity and its explanatory power, the sensitivity principle has remained attractive and has been subject to numerous modifications, leading to a of sensitivity accounts. I will object to these accounts, arguing that sensitivity accounts of knowledge face two problems. First, they deliver a far too heterogeneous picture of higher-level beliefs about (...) the truth or falsity of one's own beliefs. Second, this problem carries over to bootstrapping and Moorean reasoning. Some beliefs formed via bootstrapping or Moorean reasoning are insensitive, but some closely related beliefs in even stronger propositions are sensitive. These heterogeneous results regarding sensitivity do not fit with our intuitions about bootstrapping and Moorean reasoning. Thus, neither Nozick's sensitivity account of knowledge nor any of its modified versions can provide the basis for an argument that bootstrapping and Moorean reasoning are flawed or for an explanation why they seem to be flawed. (shrink)
The article is a reply to three reviews of my book Willensfreiheit which were published in a previous issue of this journal. In the book, I develop a libertarian account of free will that invokes neither uncaused events nor mind-body dualism nor agent causality. Against Bettina Walde′s criticism, I argue that a well-balanced libertarianism can evade the luck objection and that it should not be portrayed as positing tiny causal gaps in an otherwise deterministic world. Against Marcus Willaschek′s Moorean (...) compatibilism, I argue that our ordinary notion of agency commits us to genuine two-way abilities, i. e. to abilities to do otherwise given the same past and laws of nature. Against Christoph Jäger′s defence of van Inwagen′s consequence argument, I insist that this argument for incompatibilism is seriously flawed and that libertarians are well-advised not to base their position upon it. (shrink)
The main goal of this chapter is to argue that accessibilism in epistemology is incompatible with vehicle externalism in philosophy of mind. As we shall see, however, there are strong arguments for both of these positions. On the one hand, there is a compelling argument for vehicle externalism: the parity argument from Clark and Chalmers 1998. On the other hand, there is a compelling argument for accessibilism: the Mooreanargument from Smithies 2012. If accessibilism is (...) incompatible with vehicle externalism, then both arguments cannot be sound. I resolve the tension by arguing that while the Mooreanargument succeeds, the parity argument fails, and so vehicle externalism should be rejected on broadly epistemological grounds. (shrink)
To the sceptic's contention that I don't know that I have hands because I don't know that there is an external world, the Moorean replies that I know that there is an external world because I know that I have hands. Crispin Wright has argued that the Moorean move is illegitimate, and has tried to block it by limiting the applicability of the principle of the transmission of knowledge by inference—the principle that recognising the validity of an inference (...) from known premises generates knowledge of the conclusion. I argue that, in the presence of some plausible assumptions, blocking the Moorean move does not require limiting the applicability of the transmission principle. Then I argue against Jim Pryor's contention that the Mooreanargument transmits evidential support from its premises to its conclusion. (shrink)
Few these days dispute that the knowledge argument demonstrates an epistemic gap between the physical facts and the facts about experience. It is much more contentious whether that epistemic gap can be used to demonstrate a metaphysical gap of a kind that is inconsistent with physicalism. In this paper I will explore two attempts to block the inference from an epistemic gap to a metaphysical gap – the first from the phenomenal concept strategy, the second from Russellian monism – (...) and suggest how the proponent of the knowledge argument might respond to each of these challenges. In doing so, I will draw on recent discussions of grounding and essence in the metaphysics literature. (shrink)
In this paper I seek to defend libertarianism about free will and moral responsibility against two well-known arguments: the luck argument and the Mind argument. Both of these arguments purport to show that indeterminism is incompatible with the degree of control necessary for free will and moral responsibility. I begin the discussion by elaborating these arguments, clarifying important features of my preferred version of libertarianism—features that will be central to an adequate response to the arguments—and showing why a (...) strategy of reconciliation (often referred to as “deliberative libertarianism”) will not work. I then consider four formulations of the luck argument and find them all wanting. This discussion will place us in a favorable position to understand why the Mind argument also fails. (shrink)
The Knowledge Norm or Knowledge Account of Assertion (KAA) has received added support recently from data on prompting assertion (Turri 2010) and from a refinement suggesting that assertions ought to express knowledge (Turri 2011). This paper adds another argument from parenthetical positioning, and then argues that KAA’s unified explanation of some of the earliest data (from Moorean conjunctions) adduced in its favor recommends KAA over its rivals.
Alfred Mele’s original Zygote Argument is invalid. At most, its premises entail the negative thesis that free action is incompossible with deterministic laws, but its conclusion asserts the positive thesis that deterministic laws preclude free action. The original, explanatory conclusion of the Zygote Argument can be defended only by supplementing the Zygote Argument with a best-explanation argument that identifies deterministic laws as menacing. Arguably, though, the best explanation for the manipulation victim’s lack of freedom and responsibility (...) is his constitutive luck, which is a problem irrespective of the natural laws that obtain. This proposed explanation leads to a new “diagnostic” version of the Zygote Argument which concludes that free action is impossible even though deterministic laws pose no threat whatsoever to free will. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the ultimate argument for Scientific Realism, also known as the No-Miracles Argument (NMA), ultimately fails as an abductive defence of Epistemic Scientific Realism (ESR), where (ESR) is the thesis that successful theories of mature sciences are approximately true. The NMA is supposed to be an Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) that purports to explain the success of science. However, the explanation offered as the best explanation for success, namely (ESR), fails to (...) yield independently testable predictions that alternative explanations for success do not yield. If this is correct, then there seems to be no good reason to prefer (ESR) over alternative explanations for success. (shrink)
The luck argument raises a serious challenge for libertarianism about free will. In broad outline, if an action is undetermined, then it appears to be a matter of luck whether or not one performs it. And if it is a matter of luck whether or not one performs an action, then it seems that the action is not performed with free will. This argument is most effective against event-causal accounts of libertarianism. Recently, Franklin (Philosophical Studies 156:199–230, 2011) has (...) defended event-causal libertarianism against four formulations of the luck argument. I will argue that three of Franklin’s responses are unsuccessful and that there are important versions of the luck challenge that his defense has left unaddressed. (shrink)
In this article, through a critical examination of K. Brad Wray's version of the argument from underconsideration against scientific realism, I articulate a modest version of scientific realism. This modest realist position, which I call ‘relative realism’, preserves the scientific realist's optimism about science's ability to get closer to the truth while, at the same time, taking on board the antirealist's premise that theory evaluation is comparative, and thus that there are no good reasons to think that science's best (...) theories are close to the truth. (shrink)
Structural realists claim that we should endorse only what our scientific theories say about the structure of the unobservable world. But according to Newman’s Objection, the structural realist’s claims about unobservables are trivially true. In recent years, several theorists have offered responses to Newman’s Objection. But a common complaint is that these responses “give up the spirit” of the structural realist position. In this paper, I will argue that the simplest way to respond to Newman’s Objection is to return to (...) one of the standard motivations for adopting structural realism in the first place: the No Miracles Argument. Far from betraying the spirit of structural realism, the solution I present is available to any theorist who endorses this argument. (shrink)
Virtue argumentation theory has been charged of being incomplete, given its alleged inability to account for argument cogency in virtue-theoretical terms. Instead of defending VAT against that challenge, I suggest it is misplaced, since it is based on a premise VAT does not endorse, and raises an issue that most versions of VAT need not consider problematic. This in turn allows distinguishing several varieties of VAT, and clarifying what really matters for them.
In this paper, I examine Kant's famous objection to the ontological argument: existence is not a determination. Previous commentators have not adequately explained what this claim means, how it undermines the ontological argument, or how Kant argues for it. I argue that the claim that existence is not a determination means that it is not possible for there to be non-existent objects; necessarily, there are only existent objects. I argue further that Kant's target is not merely ontological arguments (...) as such but the larger ‘ontotheist’ metaphysics they presuppose: the view that God necessarily exists in virtue of his essence being contained in, or logically entailed by, his essence. I show that the ontotheist explanation of divine necessity requires the assumption that existence is a determination, and I show that Descartes and Leibniz are implicitly committed to this in their published versions of the ontological argument. I consider the philosophical motivations for the claim that existence is a determination and then I examine Kant's arguments in the Critique of Pure Reason against it. (shrink)
The last few decades have witnessed the birth and growth of both virtue epistemology and the situationist challenge to virtue ethics. It seems only natural that eventually we would see the situationist challenge to virtue epistemology. This article articulates one aspect of that new challenge by spelling out an argument against the responsibilist brand of virtue epistemology. The trouble can be framed as an inconsistent triad: many people know quite a bit; knowledge is true belief acquired and retained through (...) the exercise of intellectual virtue; most people do not possess the intellectual virtues countenanced by responsibilism. Non‐skepticism is a Moorean platitude we should aim to preserve at most if not all costs. I muster evidence from cognitive and social psychology to argue for epistemic situationism. If my argument is correct, responsibilism must be revised or rejected, and reliabilists should avoid incorporating responsibilist components into their theories. (shrink)
I argue that a certain type of naturalist should not accept a prominent version of the no-miracles argument (NMA). First, scientists (usually) do not accept explanations whose explanans-statements neither generate novel predictions nor unify apparently disparate established claims. Second, scientific realism (as it appears in the NMA) is an explanans that makes no new predictions and fails to unify disparate established claims. Third, many proponents of the NMA explicitly adopt a naturalism that forbids philosophy of science from using any (...) methods not employed by science itself. Therefore, such naturalistic philosophers of science should not accept the version of scientific realism that appears in the NMA. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson thinks that every object is a necessary, eternal existent. In defense of his view, Williamson appeals primarily to considerations from modal and tense logic. While I am uncertain about his modal claims, I think there are good metaphysical reasons to believe permanentism: the principle that everything always exists. B-theorists of time and change have long denied that objects change with respect to unqualified existence. But aside from Williamson, nearly all A-theorists defend temporaryism: the principle that there are temporary (...) existents. I think A-theorists are better off without this added commitment, but I will not argue for that in any great detail here. Instead, I will contend that a very tempting A-theoretic argument for temporaryism is unsound. In the first half of the paper, I will develop the Moorean “common sense” argument for temporaryism and dispute its central premise, namely that temporaryism is a valid generalization from highly plausible beliefs about change. I will argue that given the pervasive vagueness in our ordinary beliefs about change and the background commitments of all A-theories, no party can claim to be the common sense view because no party can accommodate most of our common sense beliefs about change in existence. In the second half of the paper, I will propose a permanentist A-theory that explains all change over time as a species of property change. I call it the minimal A-theory, since it dispenses with the change in existence assumption. As we'll see, the permanentist alternative performs well enough in explaining our ordinary beliefs about change, and it has better prospects for answering some objections commonly levied against A-theories. (shrink)
Alfred Mele’s zygote argument for incompatibilism is based on a case involving an agent in a deterministic world whose entire life is planned by someone else. Mele’s contention is that Ernie (the agent) is unfree and that normal determined agents are relevantly similar to him with regards to free will. In this paper, I examine four different ways of understanding this argument and then criticize each interpretation. I then extend my criticism to manipulation arguments in general. I conclude (...) that the zygote argument is no threat to compatibilism. (shrink)
Derk Pereboom's Four-Case Argument is among the most famous and resilient manipulation arguments against compatibilism. I contend that its resilience is not a function of the argument's soundness but, rather, the ill-gotten gain from an ambiguity in the description of the causal relations found in the argument's foundational case. I expose this crucial ambiguity and suggest that a dilemma faces anyone hoping to resolve it. After a thorough search for an interpretation which avoids both horns of this (...) dilemma, I conclude that none is available. Rather, every metaphysically coherent interpretation invites either a hard- or soft-line reply to Pereboom's argument. I then consider a recharacterization of the dilemma which seems to clear the way for the defence of a revised Four-Case Argument. I address this rejoinder by identifying a still more fundamental problem shared by all viable interpretations of the manipulation cases, showing that each involves a type of manipulation which undermines the victim's agency. Because this diagnosis supports a soft-line reply to every viable interpretation of the argument and can be endorsed by any compatibilist, I consider it the final piece of the Soft-line Solution to the Four-Case Argument. Finally, I suggest a new taxonomy of manipulation arguments, arguing that none that employs the suppressive variety of manipulation found in Pereboom's argument offers a threat to compatibilism. (shrink)
In his recent book Error Theory: History, Critique, Defence, Jonas Olson attempts to revive the argument from queerness originally made famous by J.L. Mackie. In this paper, we do three things. First, we eliminate four untenable formulations of the argument. Second, we argue that the most plausible formulation is one that depends crucially upon considerations of parsimony. Finally, we evaluate this formulation of the argument. We conclude that it is unproblematic for proponents of moral non-naturalism—the target of (...) the argument from queerness. (shrink)
A generally ignored feature of Aristotle’s famous function argument is its reliance on the claim that practitioners of the crafts (technai) have functions: but this claim does important work. Aristotle is pointing to the fact that we judge everyday rational agency and agents by norms which are independent of their contingent desires: a good doctor is not just one who happens to achieve his personal goals through his work. But, Aristotle argues, such norms can only be binding on individuals (...) if human rational agency as such is governed by objective teleological norms. . (shrink)
This paper reviews the history of AI & Law research from the perspective of argument schemes. It starts with the observation that logic, although very well applicable to legal reasoning when there is uncertainty, vagueness and disagreement, is too abstract to give a fully satisfactory classification of legal argument types. It therefore needs to be supplemented with an argument-scheme approach, which classifies arguments not according to their logical form but according to their content, in particular, according to (...) the roles that the various elements of an argument can play. This approach is then applied to legal reasoning, to identify some of the main legal argument schemes. It is also argued that much AI & Law research in fact employs the argument-scheme approach, although it usually is not presented as such. Finally, it is argued that the argument-scheme approach and the way it has been employed in AI & Law respects some of the main lessons to be learnt from Toulmin’s The Uses of Argument. (shrink)
An analysis of the Third Man Argument, especially in light of Constance Meinwald's book Plato's Parmenides. I argue that her solution to the TMA fails. Then I present my own theory as to what Plato's solution was.
I argue that the existence of a necessary concrete being can be derived from an exceedingly weak causal principle coupled with two contingent truths one of which falls out of very popular positions in contemporary analytic metaphysics. I then show that the argument resists a great many objections commonly lodged against natural theological arguments of the cosmological variety.
Although many aspects of Inference to the Best Explanation have been extensively discussed, very little has so far been said about what it takes for a hypothesis to count as a rival explanatory hypothesis in the context of IBE. The primary aim of this article is to rectify this situation by arguing for a specific account of explanatory rivalry. On this account, explanatory rivals are complete explanations of a given explanandum. When explanatory rivals are conceived of in this way, I (...) argue that IBE is a more plausible and defensible rule of inference than it would otherwise be. The secondary aim of the article is to demonstrate the importance of accounts of explanatory rivalry by examining a prominent philosophical argument in which IBE is employed, viz. the so-called Ultimate Argument for scientific realism. In short, I argue that a well-known objection to the Ultimate Argument due to Arthur Fine fails in virtue of tacitly assuming an account of explanatory rivalry that we have independent reasons to reject. (shrink)
Theft is win-lose: the thief gains benefits at the expense of the victim. War is lose-lose: no-one comes out better off. Trade is win-win: both parties gain. Altercations are lose-lose. When a person talks about ‘winning the argument,’ she is talking about winning a debate and she sees debate as win-lose. But if we partake of debates with an open mind, they can be win-win: even without agreeing, each party may learn. Unfortunately, contemporary philosophers seem to see debate as (...) win-lose in which a ‘justified’ dogmatist triumphs. (shrink)
Pereboom’s Four-Case Argument was once considered to be the most powerful of the manipulation arguments against compatibilism. However, because of Demetriou’s :595–617, 2010) response, Pereboom has significantly weakened his argument. Manipulation arguments in general have also been challenged by King : 65–83, 2013). In this paper, I argue that the Four-Case Argument resists both these challenges. One upshot is that Pereboom doesn’t need weaken his argument. Another is that compatibilists still need a response the Four-Case (...) class='Hi'>Argument. And another is that we get a much better understanding of the Four-Case Argument, and of manipulation arguments more generally, than is currently available in the literature. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen's influential Direct Argument (DA) for the incompatibility of moral responsibility and causal determinism makes use of an inference rule he calls "Rule B." Michael McKenna has argued that van Inwagen's defense of this rule is dialectically inappropriate because it is based entirely on alleged “confirming” cases that are not of the right kind to justify the use of Rule B in DA. Here I argue that McKenna’s objection is on the right track but more must be (...) said if we are to see why. To fill in the gaps I consider a recent attempt by Ira M. Schnall and David Widerker to defend DA against McKenna’s objection. I argue that neither prong of their attack is successful against a variation on McKenna’s basic argument. In the course of responding to Schnall and Widerker’s objections to McKenna, I identify what is, as I argue, the real reason DA fails in its purpose to shift the burden of proof. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Kant's famous critique of the Ontological Argument largely begs the question against that argument, and is no better when supplemented by the modern quantificational analysis of "exists." In particular, I argue that the claim, common to Hume and Kant, that conceptual truths can never entail substantive existential claims is false,and thus no ground for rejecting the Ontological Argument.