•  575
    This document is an edited transcript of an impromptu talk by Mark F. Sharlow. In this talk, Dr. Sharlow examines one of the common arguments for God’s existence. He suggests that this argument is wrong, but not for the reason that skeptics usually cite. Instead, he points out a deeper error — and shows that by understanding this mistake, we can gain new insights into evolution and design.
  •  526
    This paper is a critique of Richard Dawkins’ “argument from improbability” against the existence of God. This argument, which forms the core of Dawkins’ book The God Delusion, provides an interesting example of the use of scientific ideas in arguments about religion. Here I raise three objections: (1) The argument is inapplicable to philosophical conceptions of God that reduce most of God’s complexity to that of the physical universe. (2) The argument depends on a way of estimating probabilities…Read more
  •  458
    Poetry, it is said, can reveal truth. Yet despite the best efforts of philosophers and poets to describe this truth, very few understand what kinds of truth poetry can convey.* One fact seems clear: only a few of the truths of poetry can be captured equally well in prose. Poetry also conveys truths of a different kind — truths that seem to exist on a level entirely different level from that of ordinary, factual truth. Some poems try to teach moral or practical lessons that also could be stated i…Read more
  •  448
    In this paper, I define and study an abstract algebraic structure, the dimensive algebra, which embodies the most general features of the algebra of dimensional physical quantities. I prove some elementary results about dimensive algebras and suggest some directions for future work.
  •  439
    Atheists sometimes use Bertrand Russell's teapot argument, and its variants with other objects in place of the teapot, to argue for the rationality of atheism. In this paper I show that this use of the teapot argument and its variants is unacceptably circular. The circularity arises because there is indirect evidence against the objects invoked in the arguments.
  •  386
    This paper is a study of a distinctively chemical notion of possibility. This is the notion of possibility that occurs in chemical discourses when chemists speak of the possibility or impossibility of achieving a given result through chemical means. This notion pertains to the possibility of processes, not of compounds, so it differs from the kind of chemical possibility mentioned in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations or the kinds discussed in the literature on Putnam's Twin Earth argum…Read more
  •  364
    In recent years, the branching spacetime (BST) interpretation of quantum mechanics has come under study by a number of philosophers, physicists and mathematicians. This paper points out some implications of the BST interpretation for two areas of quantum physics: (1) quantum gravity, and (2) stochastic interpretations of quantum mechanics.
  •  346
    In this paper, I explore the feasibility of a realistic interpretation of the quantum mechanical path integral - that is, an interpretation according to which the particle actually follows the paths that contribute to the integral. I argue that an interpretation of this sort requires spacetime to have a branching structure similar to the structures of the branching spacetimes proposed by previous authors. I point out one possible way to construct branching spacetimes of the required sort, and I …Read more
  •  344
    In this paper I explore the logical relationship between the question of the reality of qualia and the problem of universals. I argue that nominalism is inconsistent with the existence of qualia, and that realism either implies or makes plausible the existence of qualia. Thus, one's position on the existence of qualia is strongly constrained by one's answer to the problem of universals.
  •  337
    Provides an overview of Mark Sharlow's philosophical work with summaries of his positions. Includes references and links to his writings.
  •  328
    This is a draft for a revised edition of Mark Sharlow's book "From Brain to Cosmos." It includes most of the material from the first edition, two shorter pieces pertaining to the book, and a detailed new introduction.
  •  317
    In this set of excerpts from an earlier book, I examine some philosophical issues surrounding the whole-part relationship. I present a series of thought experiments and other arguments designed to undermine the view that wholes are "nothing but" their parts.
  •  316
    In this paper I examine Daniel M. Wegner's line of argument against the causal efficacy of conscious will, as presented in Wegner's book "The Illusion of Conscious Will" (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002). I argue that most of the evidence adduced in the book can be interpreted in ways that do not threaten the efficacy of conscious will. Also, I argue that Wegner's view of conscious will is not an empirical thesis, and that certain views of consciousness and the self are immune to Wegner's lin…Read more
  •  291
    In this paper I examine critically the relationship between the realist and nominalist views of abstract objects. I begin by pointing out some differences between the usage of existential statements in metaphysics and the usage of such statements in disciplines outside of philosophy. Then I propose an account of existence that captures the characteristic intuitions underlying the latter kind of usage. This account implies that abstract object existence claims are not as ontologically extravagant…Read more
  •  246
    This collection serves as an introduction to the concept of subjective fact, which plays a central role in some of the author's philosophical writings. The collection contains two book chapters and a paper. The first chapter (Chapter 2 of From Brain to Cosmos) begins with an informal characterization of the concept of subjective fact. Then it fleshes out this concept with examples, gives a more precise characterization, and addresses some potential weaknesses of the concept. This chapter shows h…Read more
  •  240
    This document consists primarily of an excerpt (chapter 14) from the author’s book From Brain to Cosmos. In that excerpt, the author uses the concept of subjective fact developed earlier in the book to address a question about consciousness: which physical systems (organisms or machines) are conscious? (This document depends heavily upon the concept of subjective fact developed in From Brain to Cosmos. Readers unfamiliar with that concept are strongly advised to read chapters 2 and 3 of From Bra…Read more
  •  234
    This document consists primarily of excerpts (chapters 5 and 10-12) from the author’s book From Brain to Cosmos. These excerpts address several traditional problems about the histories of conscious subjects, using the concept of subjective fact that the author developed earlier in the book. Topics include the persistence of conscious subjects through time, the unity or disunity of the self, and the possibility of splitting conscious subjects. (These excerpts depend heavily upon the author’s conc…Read more
  •  228
    In this paper I propose a formalization, using modal logic, of the notion of possibility that phoneticians use when they judge speech sounds to be possible or impossible. I argue that the most natural candidate for a modal logic of phonetic possibility is the modal system T.
  •  225
    In this paper I argue in defense of an important fragment of folk psychology. Specifically, I argue that many propositions about the ontology of mental states and about mental causation are true largely because of certain observable features of human linguistic behavior. I conclude that these propositions are immune to common avenues of eliminativist criticism. I compare and contrast this argument with some previous arguments about the truth of folk psychology
  •  222
    An archive of Mark Sharlow's two blogs, "The Unfinishable Scroll" and "Religion: the Next Version." Covers Sharlow's views on metaphysics, epistemology, mind, science, religion, and politics. Includes topics and ideas not found in his papers.
  •  217
    In this note I examine some implications of stochastic interpretations of quantum mechanics for the concept of "charge without charge" presented by Wheeler and Misner. I argue that if a stochastic interpretation of quantum mechanics were correct, then certain shortcomings of the "charge without charge" concept could be overcome.
  •  209
    This document consists primarily of excerpts (chapters 5 and 7-9) from the author’s book From Brain to Cosmos. These excerpts address some traditional philosophical problems about temporal flux and identity through time, using the concept of subjective fact that the author developed earlier in the book. (Readers unfamiliar with that concept are strongly advised to read chapters 2 and 3 of From Brain to Cosmos first. See the last page of this document for details on how to obtain those chapters.)
  •  202
    This is a collection of articles and essays that bear on the relationship between scientific and poetical/romantic views of the world.
  •  196
    In this note, I point out some implications of the experiential principle* for the nature of the relationship between language and the world. I argue that this principle implies the existence of a certain relationship between linguistic tokens and facts, and that this relationship undermines most critiques of the referentiality of language
  •  170
    In this paper I examine a new variant of the well-known idea that the self is an abstract object. I propose a simple model of the self as a property of temporal slices of a body's history. I argue that this model, when combined with even a modest realism with regard to properties, implies that the self has many of the chief features traditionally attributed to selves. I conclude that this model allows one to reconcile the full reality of the self with even the most deflationary materialistic the…Read more
  •  169
    Several decades ago, Wheeler and Misner presented a model of electric charge based on the topological trapping of electric field lines in wormholes. In this paper, which does not argue for or against the "charge without charge" concept, I describe some generalizations of this model which might serve as topological analogs of color charges and electroweak charges
  •  160
    This book is a collection of some of my writings that do not fit the mold of standard philosophical articles. These writings range over several topics, including religion, free will, human dignity, the nature of persons, and a few others. The longest item in the collection is an archive of my blog, The Unfinishable Scroll, as it existed when the book was put together. That blog covers many philosophical topics, including some I haven't discussed elsewhere. Also in the collection are essays (form…Read more
  •  159
    This document consists primarily of an excerpt (chapter 6) from the author’s book From Brain to Cosmos. That excerpt presents an analysis of the problem of knowledge of other minds, using the concept of subjective fact that the author developed earlier in the book. (Readers unfamiliar with that concept are strongly advised to read chapters 2 and 3 of From Brain to Cosmos first. See the last page of this document for details on how to obtain those chapters.)
  •  159
    In this note I examine the two main differences between Plato's and Dennett's views of the self as an abstract object. I point out that in the presence of certain forms of ontological realism, abstract-object theories of the self are compatible with the full reality of the self. I conclude with some remarks on the relationship between ontology and ethics.
  •  146
    This document consists primarily of an excerpt (chapter 4) from the author’s book From Brain to Cosmos. That excerpt presents a study of a specific problem about knowledge: the logical justification of one’s knowledge of the immediate past. (This document depends heavily upon the concept of subjective fact that the author developed in chapters 2 and 3 of From Brain to Cosmos. Readers unfamiliar with that concept are strongly advised to read those chapters first. See the last page of this documen…Read more