•  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
  •  336
    Epistemology without knowledge?
    Ratio 4 (2): 157-169. 1991.
    Epistemologists have traditionally been concerned with two issues: the justification of particular beliefs or sets of beliefs, and claims to knowledge. I propose to examine the relative import of these questions by comparing the gravity of the threat posed by two sceptics: one who questions the justifiability of our beliefs, and one who doubts our knowledge claims.
  •  321
    Skepticism about Induction
    In John Greco (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism, Oxford University Press. pp. 129. 2008.
    This article considers two arguments that purport to show that inductive reasoning is unjustified: the argument adduced by Sextus Empiricus and the (better known and more formidable) argument given by Hume in the Treatise. While Sextus’ argument can quite easily be rebutted, a close examination of the premises of Hume’s argument shows that they are seemingly cogent. Because the sceptical claim is very unintuitive, the sceptical argument constitutes a paradox. And since attributions of justificat…Read more
  •  272
    What was Hume's contribution to the problem of induction?
    Philosophical Quarterly 45 (181): 460-470. 1995.
    There are very few philosophical issues which are so intimately associated with one single philosopher as is the problem of induction with Hume. This paper argues against this received opinion. It shows that Hume was neither the first to think induction problematic, nor the originator of the argument he adduced in support of the (sceptical) position. It then explains his (more modest) contribution. Its primary concern, however, is not historical. By considering Hume’s contribution to the problem…Read more
  •  188
    Sleeping beauty: A simple solution
    Analysis 64 (1). 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.
  •  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.
  •  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
  •  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
  •  124
    The time of a killing
    Analysis 63 (3): 178-182. 2003.
    Suppose Jones pulls the trigger at t1, releasing a bullet which hits Smith, who dies, as a result of the wound, at t2. If we suppose the killing lasts for as long as it takes Jones to pull the trigger, we implausibly accept that the killing is over before Smith dies. If we say, instead, that the killing is over only when Smith is dead, we must suppose - equally implausibly - that Jones can still be killing Smith when he (Jones) is already otherwise engaged or even dead. I aim both to explain our…Read more
  •  113
    Desire as belief, Lewis notwithstanding
    Analysis 67 (2): 116-122. 2007.
    In two curiously neglected papers, David Lewis claims to reduce to absurdity the supposition (commonly labeled DAB) that (some) desires are belief-like. My aim in this paper is to explain the significance of this claim and rebut the proof.
  •  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.
  •  105
    Fallibilism and rational belief
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (2): 251-261. 1993.
    Fallibilism is an attractive epistemological position, avoiding the Scylla of rationalism, and the Charybdis of scepticism. Acknowledging, on the one hand, human imperfection, yet claiming that science and rational inquiry are possible. Fallibilism is a thesis, but equally importantly – an epistemological recommendation. that we should never be absolutely sure of anything. My aim in this paper is to drive a wedge between the thesis and the recommendation. The (eminently plausible) doctrine, I s…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
  •  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.
  •  95
    What Descartes' Demon Can Do and his Dream Cannot
    Theoria 72 (4): 319-335. 2006.
    The reason Descartes cites for invoking the demon argument in addition to the dream argument is that the demon argument is intended to broaden the scope of Descartes’ scepticism, to subsume additional beliefs under it. I present an additional, unfamiliar reason. There is, I argue, an important difference between the two sceptical arguments. It pertains not to their scope, but to their “depth”, to the kind of scepticism they are capable of inducing.
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  61
    The credibility of miracles
    Philosophical Studies 82 (3). 1996.
    Hume’s famous argument against the credibility of testimony about miracles invokes two premises: 1) The reliability of the witness (the extent to which he is informed and truthful) must be compared with the intrinsic probability of the miracle. 2) The initial probability of a miracle is always small enough to outweigh the improbability that the testimony is false (even when the witness is assumed to be reliable). I defend the first premise of the argument, showing that Hume’s argument can be app…Read more
  •  60
    A paradox of confirmation
    Erkenntnis 29 (2). 1988.
    I present a puzzle which seems simple, but is found to have interesting implications for confirmation. Its dissolution also helps us to throw light on the relationship between first- and second-order probabilities construed as rational degrees of belief.
  •  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.
  •  53
    On sharp boundaries for vague terms
    Synthese 138 (2). 2004.
    The postulation by the “epistemic” theory of vagueness of a cut-off point between heaps and non-heaps has made it seem incredible. Surely, the critics argue, a vague predicate doesn’t divide the universe into a set and its complement. I argue in response that an objection of a similar kind can be leveled against most theories of vagueness. The only two which avoid it are untenable. The objection is less compelling than it initially seems. However, even when this obstacle is removed, the epistemi…Read more
  •  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
  •  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.
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  44
    The Cartesian Circle and Two Forms of Scepticism
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 14 (4). 1997.
    Descartes’ circle has been extensively discussed, and I do not wish to add another paper to that literature. Rather, I use the circle to facilitate our understanding of two types of scepticism and the proper attitude to them. Descartes’ text is especially apt for this purpose, because a case can be made for attributing to him both types. Although I will touch on the interpretative question, that is not my main aim. My contention is that one brand - whether or not it is the one that Descartes fav…Read more