•  36
    In this paper I consider the surprise examination paradox from a practical perspective, paying special attention to the communicative role of the teacher’s promise to the students. This perspective, which places the promise within a practice, rather than viewing it in the abstract, imposes constraints on adequate solutions to the paradox. In the light of these constraints, I examine various solutions which have been offered, and suggest two of my own.
  •  61
    The credibility of miracles
    Philosophical Studies 82 (3). 1996.
    Hume’s famous argument against the credibility of testimony about miracles invokes two premises: 1) The reliability of the witness (the extent to which he is informed and truthful) must be compared with the intrinsic probability of the miracle. 2) The initial probability of a miracle is always small enough to outweigh the improbability that the testimony is false (even when the witness is assumed to be reliable). I defend the first premise of the argument, showing that Hume’s argument can be app…Read more
  •  28
    Objectivism without objective probabilities
    Theoria 56 (1-2): 23-41. 1990.
    After defending the pluralistic approach to the interpretation of probability statements, I argue that the correctness of objective probability statements is not to be explained in terms of objective probabilities attached to propositions. Such an explanation will enable us to uphold an intuitively appealing connection between probability and action only in indeterministic contexts, whereas the objectivity of probability statements doesn’t depend on the truth of indeterminism. I show how objecti…Read more
  •  1
    Hume on Local Conjunction and the Soul
    History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 13. 2010.
    In the section of the Treatise titled “Of the immateriality of the soul”, Hume adduces an argument to show that nothing can be “locally conjoined” with all of a person’s perceptions. The argument is seldom discussed, and deserves attention, mainly because it can be transformed into an argument against the very existence of a soul. In this paper, I present and closely examine both arguments, Hume’s argument and the one against the existence of the soul. Both, I conclude, are fallacious.
  • Dispositionalism and Decision
    Ratio (Misc.) 29 (2): 148. 1987.
  •  272
    What was Hume's contribution to the problem of induction?
    Philosophical Quarterly 45 (181): 460-470. 1995.
    There are very few philosophical issues which are so intimately associated with one single philosopher as is the problem of induction with Hume. This paper argues against this received opinion. It shows that Hume was neither the first to think induction problematic, nor the originator of the argument he adduced in support of the (sceptical) position. It then explains his (more modest) contribution. Its primary concern, however, is not historical. By considering Hume’s contribution to the problem…Read more
  •  32
    A New Humean Criticism of Our Inductive Practice
    The European Legacy 18 (4): 420-431. 2013.
    Hume?s familiar sceptical argument against induction brands as irrational our practice of generalising from observed regularities because of its reliance on the assumption that nature is uniform, an assumption which is unjustifiable. The argument which I wish to consider focuses instead on the observed regularities that are required if we are legitimately to extrapolate from experience. According to Hume, the paradigm type of inductive reasoning involves a constant conjunction. But in fact we do…Read more
  •  39
    The Sceptical Challenge
    Routledge. 1997.
    Do we really know the things we think we know? Are any of our beliefs reasonable? Scepticism gives a pessimistic reply to these important epistemological questions - we don't know anything; none of our beliefs are reasonable. But can such a seemingly paradoxical claim be more than an intellectual curiousity? And if it is, can it be refuted? Ruth Weintraub answers yes to both these questions. The sceptical challenge is a formidable one, and should be confronted, not dismissed. The theoretical and…Read more
  •  188
    Sleeping beauty: A simple solution
    Analysis 64 (1). 2004.
    I defend the suggestion that the rational probability in the Sleeping Beauty paradox is one third. The reasoning in its favour is familiar: for every heads-waking, there are two tails-wakings. To complete the defense, I rebut the reasoning which purports to justify the competing suggestion – that the correct probability is half – by undermining its premise, that no new information has been received.
  •  12
    Locke vs. Hume: Who Is the Better Concept-Empiricist?
    Dialogue 46 (3): 481-500. 2007.
    ABSTRACT: According to the received view, Hume is a much more rigorous and consistent concept-empiricist than Locke. Hume is supposed to have taken as a starting point Locke’s meaning-empiricism, and worked out its full radical implicalions. Locke, by way of contrast, cowered from drawing his theory’s strange consequences. The received view about Locke’s and Hume’s concept-empiricism is mistaken, I shall argue. Hume may be more uncompromising, but he is not more rigorous than Locke. It is not be…Read more
  •  17
    Hume's Associations
    Hume Studies 28 (2): 231-246. 2002.
    Hume’s three principles of association, we are led to believe from the way Hume introduces them, are supposed to account for the formation of complex ideas out of simple ones. But the account he gives, I show, is pretty poor. But Hume, in fact, has an additional issue in mind: accounting for thoughts we have with ideas we already possess, e.g.: the way one idea brings to one’s conscious mind an idea previously formed and now lying dormant, so to speak. The answer Hume gives to this question, I a…Read more
  •  95
    A Solution to the Cable Guy Paradox
    Erkenntnis 71 (3): 355-359. 2009.
    The Cable Guy will definitely come between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and I can bet on one of two possibilities: that he will arrive between 8 and 12, or between 12 and 4. Since I have no more information, it seems (eminently) plausible to suppose the two bets are equally attractive. Yet Hajek has presented a tantalising argument that purports to show that the later interval is, initial appearances to the contrary, more choice-worthy. In this paper, I rebut the argument.
  •  113
    Unconscious mental states
    Philosophical Quarterly 37 (October): 423-32. 1987.
    The nature of consciousness has long been a central concern for philosophers of the mind. My purpose in this paper is to argue that it is the existence of some unconscious mental states which poses problems for the action theory of belief. Showing their existence to be compatible with theory is not straightforward, and requires an account of unconscious belief and desire which is at odds with that favoured by many action-theorists.
  •  24
    The basis of justification
    Philosophical Papers 23 (1): 19-29. 1994.
    Many epistemologists agree with the intuition that “there is no exit from the circle of one’s beliefs”. I shall construe this vague intuition as the claim that justification supervenes on the totality of one’s beliefs: two agents with identical beliefs will be indistinguishable with respect to which of their beliefs are justified and to what degree. My central purpose in this paper is to undermine the supervenience thesis. To this end I shall consider the role(s) of the concept of justification.
  •  52
    The Doomsday Argument Revisited
    Polish Journal of Philosophy 3 (2): 109-122. 2009.
    Leslie’s doomsday argument purports to show that the likelihood of the human race perishing soon is greater than we think. The probability we attach to it, based on our estimate of the chance of various calamities which might bring extinction about, should be adjusted as follows. If the human race were to survive for a long time, we, livingnow, would be atypical. So our living now increases the probability that the human race will end shortly. In this paper, I criticize some attempts to rebut th…Read more
  •  92
    Psychological determinism and rationality
    Erkenntnis 43 (1): 67-79. 1995.
      There are arguments which purport to rebut psychological determinism by appealing to its alleged incompatibility with rationality. I argue that they all fail. Against Davidson, I argue that rationality does not preclude the existence of psychological laws. Against Popper, I argue that rationality is compatible with the possibility of predicting human actions. Against Schlesinger, I claim that Newcomb's problem cannot be invoked to show that human actions are unpredictable. Having vindicated th…Read more
  •  1067
    Induction and inference to the best explanation
    Philosophical Studies 166 (1): 203-216. 2013.
    In this paper I adduce a new argument in support of the claim that IBE is an autonomous form of inference, based on a familiar, yet surprisingly, under-discussed, problem for Hume’s theory of induction. I then use some insights thereby gleaned to argue for the claim that induction is really IBE, and draw some normative conclusions
  •  40
    Do utility comparisons pose a problem?
    Philosophical Studies 92 (3): 307-319. 1998.
    Comparisons between utilities pose a pressing problem if, while incapable of being grounded, they are required in ethical deliberation. My aim is to consider whether there are epistemological impediments to implementing such ethical choices. Can we find ourselves being persuaded of the ethical need to compare utilities of different individuals, yet unable to do so because the comparisons cannot be warranted? I argue that the problem cannot arise; no plausible moral principle will invoke magnitud…Read more
  •  32
    A Non-Fideistic Reading of William James's "The Will to Believe"
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 20 (1). 2003.
    William James’ declared intention is to oppose Clifford’s claim that it “is wrong always, everywhere, and for every one, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence”. But I argue that he is confused about his doxastic prescriptions. He isn’t primarily concerned, as he thinks he is, with the legitimacy of belief in the absence of sufficient evidence. The most important contribution of his essay is a suggestion - a highly insightful and contentious one - as to what it is to believe in accordanc…Read more
  •  7
    The Sceptical Life
    Dialectica 50 (3): 225-234. 1996.
    summaryAccording to the radical sceptic we have no reason to believe anything, being unable even to distinguish the more probable from the less. I propose to consider the practical problems engendered by this stance. It seems to require that we suspend judgement, but it is not clear that we can acquiesce to this demand. Is it psychologically possible to suspend belief? And if it is, can the sceptic live and act without believing? The practical difficulties, I shall argue, are genuine , but do no…Read more
  •  50
    Sleeping Beauty: a simple solution
    Analysis 64 (1): 8-10. 2004.
    I defend the suggestion that the rational probability in the Sleeping Beauty paradox is one third. The reasoning in its favour is familiar: for every heads-waking, there are two tails-wakings. To complete the defense, I rebut the reasoning which purports to justify the competing suggestion – that the correct probability is half – by undermining its premise, that no new information has been received.
  •  86
    ABSTRACT According to the received view, Hume is a much more rigorous and consistent concept-empiricist than Locke. Hume is supposed to have taken as a starting point Locke's meaning-empiricism, and worked out its full radical implications. Locke, by way of contrast, cowered from drawing his theory's strange consequences. The received view about Locke's and Hume's concept-empiricism is mistaken, I shall argue. Hume may be more uncompromising, but he is not more rigorous than Locke. It is not bec…Read more