Harvard University
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 1963
Eugene, Oregon, United States of America
Areas of Interest
  •  41
    What's in a Name?
    Philosophical Investigations 31 (4): 340-358. 2008.
    This paper is about the mode of being of names. The paper begins by explaining why the joke is on commentators who see Lewis Carroll's White Knight as applying the use/mention distinction. Then it argues that the real problem with the distinction is that the idea that names are used to mention what they name depends on mistakenly conceiving of language as existing autonomously; and that philosophers have this conception because they fail to appreciate what they are doing when they philosophise a…Read more
  •  10
    The Unbearable Vagueness of Being
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 34 (4): 471-492. 1996.
  •  8
    Against the logicians
    The Philosophers' Magazine 51 80-86. 2010.
    Logic as a subject has existed for a long time. Aristotle and the Stoics identified some of its principles, as did Indian logicians. And this ancient logic underwent an extraordinary mathematical development in the last hundred and fifty years. So logic certainly exists, at least as a branch of mathematics. The question is whether it is anything more than that.
  •  9
    Teaching Logic: How to Overcome the Limitations of the Classroom
    Teaching Philosophy 21 (3): 237-256. 1998.
    This paper presents three lessons designed to alert students to the setting in which they are learning and the ways in which this setting provides the context for a discourse which is different than everyday discourse. In the first lesson, students examine empirical studies that illustrate how being in a classroom significantly changes how one reasons about even the most basic logical relationships. In the second lesson, Levi critiques an imaginative way of teaching logic that, while appearing t…Read more
  •  14
    Set theory and the Barber
    Philosophical Investigations 4 (3): 53-73. 1981.
  •  5
    Reviews: Reviews (review)
    Philosophy 84 (4): 610-615. 2009.
  •  21
  •  9
  •  45
    This paper is a critique of certain arguments given by the Milindapanha and Jay Garfield for the conventional nature of reality or existence. These arguments are of interest in their own right. They also are significant if they are presumed to attack an obstacle we all face in achieving non-attachment, namely, our belief in the inherent or substantial existence of ourselves and the familiar objects of our world. The arguments turn on a distinction between these objects, and some other way of con…Read more
  •  53
    What's Luck Got to Do with It?
    Philosophical Investigations 12 (1): 1-13. 1989.
  •  30
    The Case of the Missing Premise
    Informal Logic 17 (1). 1995.
    This paper suggests that the flaw in the enthymeme approach to argument analysis is in the requirement, as I come to formulate it, that an argument be restated as a premises-and-conclusion sequence. The paper begins by investigating how logicians show that there are problems with the enthymeme approach. That investigation reveals a failure on the part of logicians to appreciate the importance of the rhetorical context of an argument. This failure, it is argued, is a consequence of what I refer t…Read more
  •  30
    Logic and Mr. Limbaugh
    Teaching Philosophy 19 (3): 296-299. 1996.
  •  38
    Ebersole's philosophical treasure hunt
    Philosophy 79 (2): 299-318. 2004.
    Frank Ebersole's extraordinary investigations of certain key philosophical ideas behind problems in epistemology and metaphysics are the subject of this article-review. I have resisted providing what many readers will expect me to provide, namely, a critical examination of his philosophical methodology. I do question his unwilligness to say why his investigations only yield I negative results, and I do have something to say about classifying him as an ordinary language philosopher. However, my m…Read more
  •  11
    An argumentative passage that might appear to be an instance of denying the antecedent will generally admit of an alternative interpretation, one on which the conditional contained by the passage is a preface to the argument rather than a premise of it. On this interpretation. which generally is a more charitable one, the conditional plays a certain dialectical role and, in some cases, a rhetorical role as welL Assuming only a very weak principle of exigetical charity, I consider what it would t…Read more
  •  51
    The Limits of Critical Thinking
    Informal Logic 14 (2). 1992.
    This paper examines Robert Fogelin's suggestion that there may be deep disagreements, where no argument can address what is at issue. A number of possible bases for Fogelin's position are considered and rejected: people sometimes do not have enough in common for reasons to count as reasons; doubt is possible only against the background of framework propositions; key premises may be inarguable; argument must occur within a conceptual framework. The paper concludes by reflecting on why it is impor…Read more
  •  55
    ‘Where have you been?’ I expect philosophers to ask me this when I tell them that this paper is on the Gettier Problem. I found it difficult to participate in the discussion of the problem until now because instead of wanting to consider what could be done to revive the project of identifying necessary and conditions for knowledge after the apparent damage done to it by Gettier counter-examples, I wanted to question the legitimacy of the project itself
  •  4
    Hoaglunds Critical Thinking
    Informal Logic 18 (2). 1996.
  •  46
    Determinism, as the thesis that given the state of the world at a moment there is only one way it can be at the next moment, is problematic. After explaining why the thesis is defined as it is, the paper goes on to raise questions about the terms in which it is defined. Is the ‘world’ to be understood as constituted by whatever figures in our talk or thought, or to what is reconstituted by an ontology seemingly derived from the sciences? Either way of understanding it is shown to be inadequate.
  •  10
    The Trouble with Harry
    Nordic Wittgenstein Review 3 (1): 91-111. 2014.
    The Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP), according to which we are responsible for what we did only if we could have done otherwise, is relied upon in the argument for the incompatibility of free will and determinism. Compatibilists, like Harry Frankfurt, attack PAP with stories that they devise as counter-examples; why are their stories, and the stories devised by defenders of PAP, so bad? Answers that suggest themselves are that these philosophers do not try to imagine how things actu…Read more
  •  27
    Review of Avner Baz: When Words Are Called For: A Defense of Ordinary Language Philosophy , Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012
  •  40
    The ad baculum is not a fallacy in an argument, but is offered instead of an argument to put an end to further argument. This claim is the basis for criticizing Michael Wreen's "neo-traditionalism," which yields misreadings of supposed cases of the ad baculum because of its rejection of any consideration of what the person using the ad baculum, or someone who refers to that use as an "argument," is doing. The paper concludes with reflections on the values that should inform talk of a fallacy in …Read more
  •  10
    Philosophy and the Bible: The Case of Open Theism
    Philosophy and Literature 38 (1): 169-187. 2014.
  •  117
    God, Wittgenstein and John Cook: Don S. Levi
    Philosophy 84 (2): 267-286. 2009.
    This essay is a meditation on Wittgenstein's injunction to ‘look and see’, especially when it is applied to the debate over theological realism. John Cook thinks that the injunction should be followed in metaphysics and epistemology, something he believes that Wittgenstein himself did not do. I am inclined to think that Cook is right about this, even though I am not persuaded by him that Wittgenstein goes wrong because he was committed to Neutral Monism. Interestingly, Cook thinks that there is …Read more
  •  25
    Words of Power
    Radical Philosophy Review of Books 5 (5): 15-17. 1992.
  •  27
    Begging what is at issue in the argument
    Argumentation 8 (3): 265-282. 1994.
    This paper objects to treating begging the question as circular reasoning. It argues that what is at issue in the argument is not to be confused with the claim or position that the arguer is adopting, and that logicians from Aristotle on give the wrong definition and have difficulty making sense of the fallacy because they try to define it in terms of how an argument is defined by logical theory - as a sequence consisting of premises followed by a conclusion. That the problematic about begging t…Read more
  •  4
    The Liar Parody: Don S. Levi
    Philosophy 63 (243): 43-62. 1988.
    The Liar Paradox is a philosophical bogyman. It refuses to die, despite everything that philosophers have done to kill it. Sometimes the attacks on it seem little more than expressions of positivist petulance, as when the Liar sentence is said to be nonsense or meaningless. Sometimes the attacks are based on administering to the Liar sentence arbitrary if not unfair tests for admitting of truth or falsity that seem designed expressly to keep it from qualifying. Some philosophers have despaired o…Read more
  •  24
    The Liar Parody
    Philosophy 63 (243). 1988.
  •  40
    Representation: The eleventh problem of consciousness
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 40 (4): 457-473. 1997.