•  307
    Debunking leftward progress
    Ratio 32 (4): 312-324. 2019.
    Ratio, EarlyView.
  •  307
    The problem of memory knowledge
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 80 (4). 1999.
    both the initial justification for adopting it and the justification for retaining it provided by seeming memories. This view captures our intuitions about justification in several cases, while none of the alternative views can.
  •  306
    Jury nullification is justified by the principle that individuals are prima facie ethically obligated to avoid causing unjust harms. Safeguarding justice against unjust laws and punishments of the government is the central function of the jury.
  •  299
    I look for explanations for the phenomenon of widespread, strong, and persistent disagreements about political issues. The best explanation is provided by the hypothesis that most people are irrational about politics and not, for example, that political issues are particularly difficult or that we lack sufficient evidence for resolving them. I discuss how this irrationality works and why people are especially irrational about politics.
  •  278
    Phenomenal conservatism and self-defeat: a reply to DePoe
    Philosophical Studies 156 (1): 1-13. 2011.
    John DePoe has criticized the self-defeat argument for Phenomenal Conservatism. He argues that acquaintance, rather than appearance, may form the basis for non-inferentially justified beliefs, and that Phenomenal Conservatism conflicts with a central motivation for internalism. I explain how Phenomenal Conservatism and the self-defeat argument may survive these challenges.
  •  277
    The _minimal free will thesis_ (MFT) holds that at least some of the time, someone has more than one course of action that he can perform. (1) This is the least that must be true in order for it to be said that there is free will. It may be disputed whether the truth of MFT is _sufficient_ for us to 'have free will,' (2) but there is no doubt that the main philosophical challenge to the belief in free will has come from the thesis of universal determinism, so understood as to exclude MFT. A proo…Read more
  •  259
    America's Unjust Drug War
    In Bill Masters (ed.), The New Prohibition, Accurate Press. 2004.
    Should the recreational use of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and LSD, be prohibited by law? Prohibitionists answer yes. They usually argue that drug use is extremely harmful both to drug users and to society in general, and possibly even immoral, and they believe that these facts provide sufficient reasons for prohibition. Legalizers answer no. They usually give one or more of three arguments: First, some argue that drug use is not as harmful as prohibitionists believe, and even that…Read more
  •  252
    The drug laws don’t work
    The Philosophers' Magazine (41): 71-75. 2008.
    Illegal drugs are not inherently unclean, any more than alcohol, tobacco, or canola oil. All of these are simply chemicals that people choose to ingest for enjoyment, and that can harm our health if used to excess. Most of the sordid associations we have with illegal drugs are actually the product of the drug laws: it is because of the laws that drugs are sold on the black market, that Latin American crime bosses are made rich, that government officials are corrupted, and that drug users rob oth…Read more
  •  251
    Existence Is Evidence} of Immortality
    Noûs 55 (1): 128-151. 2019.
    Time may be infinite in both directions. If it is, then, if persons could live at most once in all of time, the probability that you would be alive now would be zero. But if persons can live more than once, the probability that you would be alive now would be nonzero. Since you are alive now, with certainty, either the past is finite, or persons can live more than once.
  •  222
    Against Equality and Priority
    Utilitas 24 (4): 483-501. 2012.
    I start from three premises, roughly as follows: (1) that if possible world x is better than world y for every individual who exists in either world, then x is better than y; (2) that if x has a higher average utility, a higher total utility, and no more inequality than y, then x is better than y; (3) that better than is transitive. From these premises, it follows that benefits given to the worse off contribute no more to the world’s value than equal-sized benefits given to the better off.
  •  221
    The form of egalitarianism I am concerned with holds that equality in the distribution of welfare across persons is intrinsically good . In other words, it is good for people to be equally well-off, and bad for some to be better off than others, apart from consideration of any further consequences of such equality or..
  •  214
    Explanationist aid for the theory of inductive logic
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (2): 345-375. 2009.
    A central problem facing a probabilistic approach to the problem of induction is the difficulty of sufficiently constraining prior probabilities so as to yield the conclusion that induction is cogent. The Principle of Indifference, according to which alternatives are equiprobable when one has no grounds for preferring one over another, represents one way of addressing this problem; however, the Principle faces the well-known problem that multiple interpretations of it are possible, leading to in…Read more
  •  211
    Apology of a modest intuitionist (review)
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (1): 222-236. 2009.
    No Abstract
  •  199
    Is critical thinking epistemically responsible?
    Metaphilosophy 36 (4): 522-531. 2005.
    Three ways of approaching controversial issues are: (i) To accept the conclusions of experts on their authority; (ii) to evaluate the relevant evidence/arguments for ourselves; and (iii) to simply withhold judgement. The received view recommends strategy (ii). But (ii) is normally epistemically inferior to (i) and (iii), since we are justified in believing that it is less reliable at producing true beliefs and avoiding false ones.
  •  186
    This is not a comprehensive style guide; rather, it focuses on the most common problems I have found in student writing. Sections A and B give general tips on how to write a paper (esp. a philosophy paper). Sections C-F list common errors.
  •  178
    Précis of ethical intuitionism (review)
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (1): 192-196. 2009.
    I summarize the main conclusions of my 2005 book, Ethical Intuitionism, for the book symposium in this issue
  •  173
    The problem of defeasible justification
    Erkenntnis 54 (3): 375-397. 2001.
    The problem of induction and the problem of Cartesian/brain-in-the-vat skepticism have much in common. Both are instances of a general problem of defeasible justification . I use the term "defeasible justification" to refer to a relation between a piece of evidence.
  •  173
    Lexical priority and the problem of risk
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (3): 332-351. 2010.
    Some theories of practical reasons incorporate a lexical priority structure, according to which some practical reasons have infinitely greater weight than others. This includes absolute deontological theories and axiological theories that take some goods to be categorically superior to others. These theories face problems involving cases in which there is a non-extreme probability that a given reason applies. In view of such cases, lexical-priority theories are in danger of becoming irrelevant t…Read more
  •  162
    Soll der Freizeitkonsum von Drogen wie Marihuana, Kokain, Heroin und LSD einem gesetzlichen Verbot unterliegen? Drogengegner sagen ja. Sie behaupten für gewöhnlich, Drogenkonsum sei sowohl für den Nutzer als auch für die Gesellschaft allgemein äußerst schädlich – vielleicht sogar unmoralisch, und sie glauben, diese Tatsachen seien als Verbotsgrund ausreichend. Freigabebefürworter sagen nein und berufen sich dabei für gewöhnlich auf eines oder mehrere von drei Argumenten: Erstens behaupten einige…Read more
  •  161
    You pass an electron through an inhomogeneous magnetic field (this is produced by a type of magnet, but don’t worry about the details). The field causes the electron to swerve. It is found that all electrons swerve by the same amount, and half of them swerve up, while the other half swerve down. See a video illustration of this.
  •  155
    Naturalism and the Problem of Moral Knowledge
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 38 (4): 575-597. 2000.
    Ethical naturalists interpret moral knowledge as analogous to scientific knowledge and not dependent on intuition. For their account to succeed, moral truths must explain observable phenomena, and these explanations (i) must be better than any explanations framed in non-moral terms, (ii) must not rely on ad hoc posits about the causal powers of moral properties, and (iii) must not presuppose the existence of an independent means of awareness of moral truths. No moral explanations satisfy these c…Read more
  •  155
    Probability and Coherence Justification
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 35 (4): 463-472. 1997.
    In The Structure of Empirical Knowledge , Laurence BonJour argues that coherence among a set of empirical beliefs can provide justification for those beliefs, in the sense of rendering them likely to be true. He also repudiates all forms of foundationalism for empirical beliefs, including what he calls "weak foundationalism" (the weakest form of foundationalism he can find). In the following, I will argue that coherence cannot provide any justification for our beliefs in the manner BonJour sugge…Read more
  •  153
    Fumerton’s Principle of Inferential Justification
    Journal of Philosophical Research 28 329--340. 2002.
    Richard Fumerton’s “Principle of Inferential Justification” holds that, in order to be justified in believing P on the basis of E, one must be justified in believing that E makes P probable. I argue that the plausibility of this principle rests upon two kinds of mistakes: first, a level confusion; and second, a fallacy of misconditionalisation. Furthermore, Fumerton’s principle leads to skepticism about inferential justification, for which reason it should be rejected. Instead, the examples Fume…Read more
  •  148
    The Puzzle of Metacoherence
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1): 1-21. 2011.
    Moore’s paradox supports the principle of “metacoherence”, i.e., that if one categorically believes that P, one is committed to accepting that one knows that P. The principle raises puzzles about how, when one has justification for P, one also has justification for the claim that one knows P. I reject a skeptical answer as well as a bootstrapping answer, and I suggest that we typically have independent justification for the claim that we know P.
  •  145
    Non-egalitarianism
    Philosophical Studies 114 (1-2). 2003.
    Equality of welfare among persons has no intrinsic value. This follows from three axiological principles: (i) a principle of the indifference of the distribution of utility across time within an individual’s life, (ii) a strong supervenience principle for value, and (iii) a principle of the additivity of value across disjoint time periods. (iii) is the most likely target for attack by the egalitarian; but the rejection of (iii) creates decision-theoretic paradoxes.
  •  142
    Sense-data
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2005.
    Sense data are the alleged mind-dependent objects that we are directly aware of in perception, and that have exactly the properties they appear to have. For instance, sense data theorists say that, upon viewing a tomato in normal conditions, one forms an image of the tomato in one's mind. This image is red and round. The mental image is an example of a “sense datum.” Many philosophers have rejected the notion of sense data, either because they believe that perception gives us direct awareness of…Read more