Sorensen here offers a unified solution to a large family of philosophical puzzles and paradoxes through a study of "blindspots": consistent propositions that cannot be rationally accepted by certain individuals even though they might by true.
Sorensen presents a general theory of thought experiments: what they are, how they work, what are their virtues and vices. On Sorensen's view, philosophy differs from science in degree, but not in kind. For this reason, he claims, it is possible to understand philosophical thought experiments by concentrating on their resemblance to scientific relatives. Lessons learned about scientific experimentation carry over to thought experiment, and vice versa. Sorensen also assesses the hazards and pseudo-hazards of thought experiments. Although he grants that (...) there are interesting ways in which the method leads us astray, he attacks most scepticism about thought experiments as arbitrary. They should be used, he says, as they generally are used--as part of a diversified portfolio of techniques. All of these devices are individually susceptible to abuse, fallacy, and error. Collectively, however, they provide a network of cross-checks that make for impressive reliability. (shrink)
Roy Sorenson offers a unique exploration of an ancient problem: vagueness. Did Buddha become a fat man in one second? Is there a tallest short giraffe? According to Sorenson's epistemicist approach, the answers are yes! Although vagueness abounds in the way the world is divided, Sorenson argues that the divisions are sharp; yet we often do not know where they are. Written in Sorenson'e usual inventive and amusing style, this book offers original insight on language and logic, the way world (...) is, and our understanding of it. (shrink)
The eclipse riddle -- Seeing surfaces -- The disappearing act -- Spinning shadows -- Berkeley's shadow -- Para-reflections -- Para-refractions : shadowgrams and the black drop -- Goethe's colored shadows -- Filtows -- Holes in the light -- Black and blue -- Seeing in black and white -- We see in the dark -- Hearing silence.
In this book, Sorensen presents the first general theory of the thought experiment. He analyses a wide variety of thought experiments, ranging from aesthetics to zoology, and explores what thought experiments are, how they work, and what their positive and negative aspects are. Sorensen also sets his theory within an evolutionary framework and integrates recent advances in experimental psychology and the history of science.
Surprisingly, the fact that the speaker is lying is sometimes common knowledge between everyone involved. Strangely, we condemn these bald-faced lies more severely than disguised lies. The wrongness of lying springs from the intent to deceive – just the feature missing in the case of bald-faced lies. These puzzling lies arise systematically when assertions are forced. Intellectual duress helps to explain another type of non-deceptive false assertion : lying to yourself. In the end, I conclude that the apparent intensity of (...) our disapproval of non-deceptive lies is a rhetorical illusion. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to show how thought experiments help us learn about laws. After providing examples of this kind of nomic illumination in the first section, I canvass explanations of our modal knowledge and opt for an evolutionary account. The basic application is that the laws of nature have led us to develop rough and ready intuitions of physical possibility which are then exploited by thought experimenters to reveal some of the very laws responsible for those intuitions. (...) The good news is that natural selection ensures a degree of reliability for the intuitions. The bad news is that the evolutionary account seems to limit the range of reliable thought experiment to highly practical and concrete contexts. In the fifth section, I provide reasons for thinking that we are not as slavishly limited as a pessimistic construal of natural selection suggests. Nevertheless, I promote the idea that biology is a promising source of predictions and diagnoses of thought experiment failures. (shrink)
We review the use of introspective and phenomenological methods in experimental settings. We distinguish different senses of introspection, and further distinguish phenomenological method from introspectionist approaches. Two ways of using phenomenology in experimental procedures are identified: first, the neurophenomenological method, proposed by Varela, involves the training of experimental subjects. This approach has been directly and productively incorporated into the protocol of experiments on perception. A second approach may have wider application and does not involve training experimental subjects in phenomenological method. (...) It requires front-loading phenomenological insights into experimental design. A number of experiments employing this approach are reviewed. We conclude with a discussion of the implications for both the cognitive sciences and phenomenology. (shrink)
This is a defense and extension of Stephen Yablo's claim that self-reference is completely inessential to the liar paradox. An infinite sequence of sentences of the form 'None of these subsequent sentences are true' generates the same instability in assigning truth values. I argue Yablo's technique of substituting infinity for self-reference applies to all so-called 'self-referential' paradoxes. A representative sample is provided which includes counterparts of the preface paradox, Pseudo-Scotus's validity paradox, the Knower, and other enigmas of the genre. I (...) rebut objections that Yablo's paradox is not a genuine liar by constructing a sequence of liars that blend into Yablo's paradox. I rebut objections that Yablo's liar has hidden self-reference with a distinction between attributive and referential self-reference and appeals to Gregory Chaitin's algorithmic information theory. The paper concludes with comments on the mystique of self-reference. (shrink)
Can God create a stone too heavy for him to lift? Can time have a beginning? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Riddles, paradoxes, conundrums--for millennia the human mind has found such knotty logical problems both perplexing and irresistible. Now Roy Sorensen offers the first narrative history of paradoxes, a fascinating and eye-opening account that extends from the ancient Greeks, through the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, and into the twentieth century. When Augustine asked what God was doing before (...) He made the world, he was told: "Preparing hell for people who ask questions like that." A Brief History of the Paradox takes a close look at "questions like that" and the philosophers who have asked them, beginning with the folk riddles that inspired Anaximander to erect the first metaphysical system and ending with such thinkers as Lewis Carroll, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and W.V. Quine. Organized chronologically, the book is divided into twenty-four chapters, each of which pairs a philosopher with a major paradox, allowing for extended consideration and putting a human face on the strategies that have been taken toward these puzzles. Readers get to follow the minds of Zeno, Socrates, Aquinas, Ockham, Pascal, Kant, Hegel, and many other major philosophers deep inside the tangles of paradox, looking for, and sometimes finding, a way out. Filled with illuminating anecdotes and vividly written, A Brief History of the Paradox will appeal to anyone who finds trying to answer unanswerable questions a paradoxically pleasant endeavor. (shrink)
One of the factors that contributes to an agent’s praiseworthiness and blameworthiness — his or her moral worth — is effort. On the one hand, agents who act effortlessly seem to have high moral worth. On the other hand, agents who act effortfully seem to have high moral worth as well. I explore and explain this pair of intuitions and the contour of our views about associated cases.
Accounting ethics failures have seized headlines and cost investors billions of dollars. Improvement of the ethical reasoning and behavior of accountants has become a key concern for the accounting profession and for higher education in accounting. Researchers have asked a number of questions, including what type of accounting ethics education intervention would be most effective for accounting students. Some researchers have proposed virtue ethics as an appropriate moral framework for accounting. This research tested whether Smithian virtue ethics training, based on (...) Adam Smith’s “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”, is effective in improving accounting student’s cognitive moral development. This research used a pre-test, treatment, post-test, quasi-experimental design utilizing the Defining Issues Test 2 instrument to measure students’ CMD. Analysis of DIT-2 gain scores did show a significant improvement in subjects’ personal interest scores and a significant improvement in an overall measure of CMD, the DIT N2 index, whereas their DIT-2 post-conventional scores did not improve significantly. This research supports the proposition that the concepts contained in Smithian virtue ethics can contribute to an effective accounting ethics education intervention. However, further research is required to determine what concepts should be included to improve accounting students’ post-conventional moral reasoning. (shrink)
The argument proceeds by exploiting the gradually decreasing vagueness of a certain sequence of predicates. the vagueness of 'vague' is then used to show that the thesis that all vague predicates are incoherent is self-defeating. a second casualty is the view that the probems of vagueness can be avoided by restricting the scope of logic to nonvague predicates.
Prize: One hundred dollars to the ﬁrst person who identiﬁes a picture of a logical impossibility. I may be willing to pay more for the painting itself. This ﬁnder’s fee is simply for pointing out the picture. Let me explain more precisely what I seek.
In ‘Epistemic Modals’ (2007), Seth Yalcin proposes Stalnaker-style semantics for epistemic possibility. He is inspired by John MacFarlane’s ingenious defence of relativism, in which claims of epistemic possibility are made rigidly from the perspective of the assessor’s actual stock of information (rather than from the speaker’s knowledge base or that of his audience or community). The innovations of MacFarlane and Yalcin independently reinforce the modal collapse espoused by Jaakko Hintikka in his 1962 epistemic logic (which relied on the implausible KK (...) principle and heavy idealizations). I respond to this new challenge with fresh objections to the underlying S4 equivalence: p p . I also propose counter-analyses of the intriguing data which Yalcin cites in support of his new semantics. A key collateral motivation for this defence of irredundant iterations is to ward off a threat to higher order vagueness. (shrink)
Sorites arguments employ an induction step such as ‘Small numbers have small successors’. People deduce that there must be an exception to the generalization but are reluctant to conclude that the generalization is false. My hypothesis is that the reluctance is due to the "Generic Overgeneralization Effect". Although the propounder of the sorites paradox intends the induction step to be a universal generalization, hearers assimilate universal generalizations to generic generalizations (for instance, ‘All birds fly’ tends to be remembered as ‘Birds (...) fly’). Most generic generalizations tolerate exceptions – especially when those exceptions are rare, abnormal, or difficult to imagine. Any counterexample to the induction step will have all of these features. (shrink)
You face two buttons. Pushing one will destroy Greensboro. Pushing the other will save it. There is no way for you to know which button saves and which destroys. What ought you to do? Answer: You ought to make the correct guess and push the button that saves Greensboro. Second question: Do you have an obligation to push the correct button?
The gestational surrogate – and her economic and educational vulnerability in particular – is the focus of many of the most persistent worries about paid surrogacy. Those who employ her, and those who broker and organize her services, usually have an advantage over her in resources and information. That asymmetry exposes her to the possibility of exploitation and abuse. Accordingly, some argue for banning paid surrogacy. Others defend legal permission on grounds of surrogate autonomy, but often retain concerns about the (...) surrogate. In response to the dilemma of a ban versus bald permission, we propose a 'soft law' approach: states should require several hours of education of surrogates – education aimed at informing and enhancing surrogate autonomy. (shrink)
The Pyrrhonian sceptic Favorinus of Arelata personified indeterminacy, cultivating his (or her) borderline status to undermine dogmatism. Inspired by the techniques of Favorinus, I show, by example, that ‘vague’ has borderline cases. These concrete steps lead to a more abstract argument that ‘vague’ has borderline borderline cases and borderline borderline borderline cases. My specimens are intended supplement earlier non-constructive proofs of the vagueness of ‘vague’.
A Brief History of the Paradox is the first narrative history of paradoxes. Sorenson draws us deep inside the tangles of riddles, paradoxes and conundrums by answering the questions which are seemingly unanswerable. Can God create a stone too heavy for him to lift? Can time have a beginning? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Filled with illuminating anecdotes, A Brief History of the Paradox is vividly written and will appeal to anyone who finds trying to answer unanswerable (...) questions a paradoxically pleasant endeavour. (shrink)
Do we need light to see? I argue that the black experience of a man in a perfectly dark cave is a representation of an absence of light, not an absence of representation. There is certainly a difference between his perceptual knowledge and that of his blind companion. Only the sighted man can tell whether the cave is dark just by looking. But perhaps he is merely inferring darkness from his failure to see. To get an unambiguous answer, I switch (...) the focus from perceptual knowledge to non-epistemic seeing. My conclusion is that we see even in the limiting case of absolute darkness - regardless of whether we believe we are seeing. We see little of pratical interest. But in terms of basic information, we see about as much as we do when the lights are on. Depending on what has gone before and after, we may even see ordinary objects. (shrink)
If there is to be any progress in the debate about what sort of positive moral status Kant can give the emotions, we need a taxonomy of the terms Kant uses for these concepts. It used to be thought that Kant had little room for emotions in his ethics. In the past three decades, Marcia Baron, Paul Guyer, Barbara Herman, Nancy Sherman, Allen Wood and others have argued otherwise. Contrary to what a cursory reading of the Groundwork may indicate, Kant (...) thinks the emotions play an important role in the moral life. I want to extend the work of Baron, Guyer, Herman, Sherman and Wood in three ways. First, I will set out in a diagram Kant's taxonomy of feelings and emotions. Agreement on such a taxonomy should make it easier to evaluate debates about Kant and the emotions. Second, I will focus on a certain subclass of emotions – reason-caused affects – that have previously received little attention, even from these Kant scholars. Third, these scholars base much of their defence of Kant on his later works – especially the Metaphysics of Morals and the Anthropology – but Kant's fairly rich taxonomy of the emotions, including reason-caused affects, is clearly in place at least as early as the Critique of Judgment . I believe that the Critique of Judgment is an importantly ignored resource for understanding the moral role of the emotions for Kant. The third Critique makes positive, philosophically interesting claims about the emotions and morality. Kant emphasizes certain roles for emotions in this work that he develops to the same extent nowhere else. Nevertheless, the Critique of Judgment goes all but unmentioned by many who write on these issues. In what follows, I will defend as many of my claims as possible using the third Critique. (shrink)
My thesis is that you can lie with ‘ P therefore Q ’ without P or Q being lies. For you can lie by virtue of not believing that P supports Q. My thesis is reconciled with the principle that all lies are assertions through H. P. Grice’s account of conventional implicatures. These semantic cousins of conversational implicatures are secondary assertions that clarify the speaker’s attitude toward his primary assertions. The meaning of ‘therefore’ commits the speaker to an entailment thesis (...) even though the speaker does not enter that commitment into the text. Insincere conventional implicatures are akin to insincerely asserted footnotes. An absence of lies in the text is compatible with the presence of lies in the meta-text. (shrink)
In _Plato on Democracy and Political technē_ Anders Dahl Sørensen offers an in-depth investigation of Plato’s discussions of democracy’s ‘epistemic potential’, arguing that this question is far more central to his political thought than is usually assumed.
I can get away with it because no one is in a position to call me on it. Professor Robinson cannot consistently complain that (A) begs the question against his thesis that there is no such fallacy. He would discourage anyone from "helping" him by accusing me of committing the fallacy against him. With advocates like that, who needs adversaries? I. EMBEDDING PERSPECTIVES After all, Robinson has a viable reply to my argument. He should simply deny my premise. Later I (...) will show how (A) might rationally persuade Robinson. But my immediate goal is not to convert the skeptic about the existence of the fallacy but rather to use his extreme position to make a point about the nature of question-begging. Those who object that argument (A) begs the question against Robinson must do so on behalf of Robinson. This assistance requires that one launch the accusation from Robinson's perspective and with his dialectical interests at heart. (shrink)
This is a reply to Casey O'Callaghan and Jonathan Westphal’s comments on Seeing Dark Things: The Philosophy of Shadows. Both attempt to soften the blow to intuition that comes from the most controversial thesis of the book: we see the backs of back-lit objects. Each characterizes the viewing of silhouettes as a kind of marginal seeing that only discloses shapes, sizes and location. In response, photographs are presented to show that silhouettes are typically three-dimensional and they often have internal structure. (...) Consider the silhouette of a bird fluttering inside a cage; we see more than the outline of the cage. Orbiting this main point are subsidiary points about the distinction between shade and shadows, the nature of occlusion, the color black, and peculiarities of absent absences. (shrink)
Suppose you have an infinite past. If you had banked the spare dollar you have always had, then the interest would have made you rich by now. Your procrastination is inexcusable. But what should you have done? At any time at which you invest the dollar you would regret not investing it earlier. Satisficers can solve prospective puzzles involving infinite choice but cannot solve this retrospective puzzle about regret. A moral version of the puzzle suggests that there can be inevitable (...) moral failure. It does so without appeal to moral luck, moral dilemmas or original sin. (shrink)
The vanishing point is a representational gap that organizes the visual field. Study of this singularity revolutionized art in the fifteenth century. Further reflection on the vanishing point invites the conjecture that the self is an absence. This paper opens with perceptual peculiarities of the vanishing point and closes with the metaphysics of personal identity.
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