•  3
    Hume on Local Conjunction and the Soul
    History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 13 (1): 122-130. 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. In dem Ab…Read more
  •  160
    It is possible that a fair coin tossed infinitely many times will always land heads. So the probability of such a sequence of outcomes should, intuitively, be positive, albeit miniscule: 0 probability ought to be reserved for impossible events. And, furthermore, since the tosses are independent and the probability of heads (and tails) on a single toss is half, all sequences are equiprobable. But Williamson has adduced an argument that purports to show that our intuitions notwithstanding, the pro…Read more
  •  44
    Peer disagreement and counter-examples
    Philosophical Studies 177 (7): 1773-1790. 2020.
    Two kinds of considerations are thought to be relevant to the correct response to the discovery of a peer who disagrees with you about some question. The first is general principles pertaining to disagreement. According to the second kind of consideration, a theory about the correct response to peer disagreement must conform to our intuitions about test cases. In this paper, I argue against the assumption that imperfect conformity to our intuitions about test cases must count against a theory ab…Read more
  •  24
    A Hume-Inspired Argument against Reason
    International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 9 (1): 1-20. 2019.
    In the “diminution argument,” which Hume adduces in the Treatise section “Scepticism with Regard to Reason,” he infers from our universal fallibility that “all the rules of logic require a continual diminution, and at last a total extinction of belief and evidence.” My aim in this paper is, first, to show that on all extant interpretations of the argument, it turns out to be very weak, and, second, that there is in the vicinity a significant sceptical argument in support of the conclusion that a…Read more
  •  54
    A new solution to the problem of peer disagreement
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (8): 795-811. 2020.
    ABSTRACT In this paper, I defend a new solution to the problem of peer disagreement, the question as to how you should respond when you learn that your ‘epistemic peer’ disagrees with you about some issue. I consider four test cases that together impugn every extant full-blown theory about peer disagreement. I present my own solution, show that it delivers the intuitive verdict in the test cases and address some objections.
  •  25
    The Problem of Induction Dissolved; But are we better off?
    American Philosophical Quarterly 53 (1): 69-84. 2016.
    I begin by making some distinctions between kinds of response to a skeptical claim, the purpose of which is to explain what I mean by a "dissolution" of the problem of induction, and to focus on one of the ways it can be implemented. I then argue that previous attempts to dissolve the problem in this way fail, present mine, and defend it. Finally, I show that the dissolution of the problem doesn't improve our normative situation and may even worsen it.
  •  24
    Naturalism, Explanation, and Akrasia
    Dialogue 38 (1): 63-74. 1999.
    RÉSUMÉ: Si on la définit comme une action contraire au bon jugement de l'agent, l'action acrasique se trouve exclue par le principe selon lequel une personne a forcément l'intention de faire ce qu'elle juge devoir faire. Une fois ce principe rejeté, comme je le propose ici, le problème traditionnel de l'acrasie, qui est celui de sa possibilité même, s'évanouit. Je soutiens, cependant, qu'un problème plus limité semble se poser si nous admettons que les actions acrasiques doivent s'expliquer par …Read more
  •  12
    Locke vs. Hume
    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.
  •  110
    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.
  •  51
    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
  •  23
    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.
  •  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
  •  1050
    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
  •  39
    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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  49
    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.
  •  84
    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
  •  44
    Humean Bodies
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 28 (4): 373. 2011.
    The interpretation of the belief in external objects (“bodies”) Hume ascribes to us isn’t often discussed, and this is surprising, because the parallel question, pertaining to Hume’s construal of the belief about necessity, is hotly debated. As in the case of causation, the content Hume ascribes to the belief in “bodies” is susceptible to more than one reading. Indeed, there is here a plethora of interpretations, engendered by the fact that Hume distinguishes between the belief of the ordinary …Read more
  •  100
    Can Steadfast Peer Disagreement Be Rational?
    Philosophical Quarterly 63 (253): 740-759. 2013.
    According to conciliatory views about peer disagreement, both peers must accord their disagreeing peer some weight, and move towards him. Non‐conciliatory views allow one peer, the one who responded correctly to the evidence, to remain steadfast. In this paper, I consider the suggestion that it may be rational for both disagreeing peers to hold steadfastly to their opinion. To this end, I contend with arguments adduced against the permissiveness the supposition involves, and identify some ways i…Read more
  •  157
    Verificationism revisited
    Ratio 16 (1). 2003.
    I aim to stand the received view about verificationism on its head. It is commonly thought that verificationism is a powerful philosophical tool, which we could deploy very effectively if only it weren’t so hopelessly implausible. On the contrary, I argue. Verificationism - if properly construed - may well be true. But its philosophical applications are chimerical.
  •  140
    The Lottery: A Paradox Regained And Resolved
    Synthese 129 (3): 439-449. 2001.
    The lottery paradox shows seemingly plausible principles of rational acceptance to be incompatible. It has been argued that we shouldn’t be concerned by this clash, since the concept of (categorical) belief is otiose, to be supplanted by a quantitative notion of partial belief, in terms of which the paradox cannot even be formulated. I reject this eliminativist view of belief, arguing that the ordinary concept of (categorical) belief has a useful function which the quantitative notion does not s…Read more
  •  19
    A bayesian paradox
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (1): 51-66. 2001.
    A seemingly plausible application of Bayesian decision-theoretic reasoning to determine one's rational degrees of belief yields a paradoxical conclusion: one ought to jettison one's intermediate credences in favour of more extreme (opinionated) ones. I discuss various attempts to solve the paradox, those involving the acceptance of the paradoxical conclusion, and those which attempt to block its derivation.
  •  47
    Separability and concept-empiricism: Hume vs. Locke
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 15 (4). 2007.
    Hume invokes the separability of perceptions to derive some of his most contentious pronouncements. To assess the cogency of the arguments, the notion must first be clarified. The clarification reveals that sic different separability claims must be distinguished. Of these, I consider the three that are rarely discussed. They turn out to be unacceptable. Locke espouses none of them.This Article does not have an abstract
  •  41
    Logic For Expressivists
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4). 2011.
    In this paper I offer solutions to two problems which our moral practice engenders for expressivism, the meta-ethical doctrine according to which ethical statements aren't propositional, susceptible of truth and falsity, but, rather, express the speaker's non-cognitive attitudes. First, the expressivist must show that arguments which are valid when interpreted propositionally are valid when construed expressivistically, and vice versa. The second difficulty is the Frege-Geach problem. Moral argu…Read more
  •  81
    Evidentialism and the Will to Believe by Scott F. Aikin (review)
    Review of Metaphysics 68 (4): 833-834. 2015.
  •  66
    The spatiality of the mental and the mind-body problem
    Synthese 117 (3): 409-17. 1998.
    I consider a seemingly attractive strategy for grappling with the mind-body problem. It is often thought that materialists are committed to spatially locating mental events, whereas dualists are barred from so doing. The thought naturally arises, then, that reasons for or against the spatiality of the mental may be wielded to adjudicate between the different positions in the mind-body dispute. Showing that mental events are spatially located, it may be thought, is ipso facto showing the truth of…Read more
  •  173
    A Problem for Hume’s Theory of Induction
    Hume Studies 34 (2): 169-187. 2008.
    According to Hume, the paradigm type of inductive reasoning involves a constant conjunction. But, as Price points out, Hume misrepresents ordinary induction: we experience very few constant conjunctions. In this paper, I examine several ways of defending Hume’s account of our practice against Price’s objection, and conclude that the theory cannot be upheld.