Harvard University
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 1963
Eugene, Oregon, United States of America
Areas of Interest
Epistemology
Metaphysics
  •  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
  •  85
    Against the logicians
    The Philosophers' Magazine 51 (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
  •  60
    Surprise!
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 38 (3): 447-464. 2000.
  •  59
    Elster on the emotions
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 43 (3): 359-378. 2000.
    This Article does not have an abstract
  •  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
  •  53
    What's Luck Got to Do with It?
    Philosophical Investigations 12 (1): 1-13. 1989.
  •  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
  •  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.
  •  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
  •  42
    Teaching Logic
    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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  40
    Representation: The eleventh problem of consciousness
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 40 (4): 457-473. 1997.
  •  40
    The unbearable vagueness of being
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 34 (4): 471-492. 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
  •  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.
  •  27
    Review of Avner Baz: When Words Are Called For: A Defense of Ordinary Language Philosophy , Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012
  •  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
  •  26
    Words of Power
    Radical Philosophy Review of Books 5 (5): 15-17. 1992.
  •  24
    The Liar Parody
    Philosophy 63 (243). 1988.
  •  21
  •  21
    In Defense of Informal Logic
    Philosophy and Rhetoric 20 (4). 1987.
  •  18
    Hypothetical Cases and Abortion
    Social Theory and Practice 13 (1): 17-48. 1987.
  •  18
    The Power of Powerlessness
    Philosophical Investigations 39 (2): 237-253. 2016.
    Philosophers should forget what they think they know about divine assistance, power, control, up-to-usness, freedom-from and free will, when it comes to alcoholism, given what Alcoholics Anonymous says. Alcoholics will never be free of their alcoholism; although it is up to them to acknowledge their powerlessness over alcohol, often that is not possible until they hit bottom, and even then they might not acquire the power of powerlessness without help from a Higher Power. After explaining and de…Read more
  •  18
    Why do illiterates do so badly in Logic?
    Philosophical Investigations 19 (1): 34-54. 1996.