•  7
    [For a planned Festschrift on William Lycan, edited by Mitch Green and Jan Michel.] Lycan (2022) sums up his (2019) _On Evidence in Philosophy_ as a “dolorous” book. This is primarily because the book claims that the field is infected with non-rational socio-psychological forces (fashion, bias, etc.) and that there is a persistent lack of consensus on philosophical questions. In this paper, I primarily rebut Lycan's second reason for dolorousness. For one, if we attend carefully to his text, his…Read more
  •  5
    What are mental states? When we talk about people’s beliefs or desires, are we talking about what is happening inside their heads? If so, might cognitive science show that we are wrong? Might it turn out that mental states do not exist? Mental fictionalism offers a new approach to these longstanding questions about the mind. Its core idea is that mental states are useful fictions. When we talk about mental states, we are not formulating hypotheses about people’s inner machinery. Instead, we simp…Read more
  •  3
    This paper argues that if our talk of “premises” is not handled carefully, our system of logic will be unsound. This is so, even if a “premise” is defined in nonsemantic terms, viz., as a sentence that is underived in the context of a proof. As a preliminary, I first explain that in a classical formal system, expressions must be seen as linguistic types rather than tokens. [Otherwise, ‘this very term = this very term’ is a false sentence that is derivable from the axiom '(x) x = x'.] Yet, if exp…Read more
  •  73
    This paper argues that the Fixed Point Lemma implies that contradiction is derivable within primitive recursive arithmetic (PRA). Since PRA is consistent, this is regarded as a paradox to be resolved. The argument is inspired by the v-Curry paradox, but we utilize only a syntactic notion of derivability, not a semantic notion such as validity. The new paradox could be blocked by excluding certain formulae from the scope of the Fixed Point Lemma, but this would effectively concede that the unrest…Read more
  •  32
    I Think; Therefore, I am a Fiction
    In Tamas Demeter, T. Parent & Adam Toon (eds.), Mental Fictionalism: Philosophical Explorations, . forthcoming.
    The Cartesian thinking self may seem indisputably real. But if it is real, then so thinking, which would undercut mental fictionalism. Thus, in defense of mental fictionalism, this paper argues for fictionalism about the thinking self. In short form, the argument is: (1) If I exist outside of fiction, then I am identical to (some part of/) this biomass [= my body]. (2) If I die at t, I cease to exist at t. (3) If I die at t, no part of this biomass ceases to exist at t. (4) Therefore, no part of…Read more
  •  117
    Ontological Commitment and Quantifiers
    In Ricki Bliss & James Miller (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics, Routledge. forthcoming.
    This is a slightly opinionated review of three main factions in metaontology: Quineans, Carnapians, and Meinongians. Emphasis is given to the last camp, as the metaontological aspect of Meinongianism has been underappreciated. The final section then offers some general remarks about the legitimacy of ontology, touching on ideas I have developed in other publications.
  •  73
    Colivan Commitment, vis-à-vis Moore’s Paradox
    Philosophia 47 (2): 323-333. 2019.
    This is a contribution to a symposium on Annalisa Coliva's book _The Varieties of Self-Knowledge_. I present her notion of a "commitment" and how it is used in her treatment of Moore paradoxical assertions and thoughts (e.g., "I believe that it is raining, but it is not;" "It is raining but I do not believe that it is"). The final section notes the points of convergence between her constitutivism about self-knowledge of commitments, and the constitutivism from my book _Self-Reflection for the Op…Read more
  •  261
    The Modal Ontological Argument Meets Modal Fictionalism
    Analytic Philosophy 57 (4): 338-352. 2016.
    This paper attacks the modal ontological argument, as advocated by Plantinga among others. Whereas other criticisms in the literature reject one of its premises, the present line is that the argument is invalid. This becomes apparent once we run the argument assuming fictionalism about possible worlds. Broadly speaking, the problem is that if one defines “x” as something that exists, it does not follow that there is anything satisfying the definition. Yet unlike non-modal ontological arguments…Read more
  •  295
    Knowing‐Wh and Embedded Questions
    Philosophy Compass 9 (2): 81-95. 2014.
    Do you know who you are? If the question seems unclear, it might owe to the notion of ‘knowing-wh’ (knowing-who, knowing-what, knowing-when, etc.). Such knowledge contrasts with ‘knowing-that’, the more familiar topic of epistemologists. But these days, knowing-wh is receiving more attention than ever, and here we will survey three current debates on the nature of knowing-wh. These debates concern, respectively, (1) whether all knowing-wh is reducible to knowing-that (‘generalized intellectualis…Read more
  •  111
    The paper defends the philosophical method of "regimentation" by example, especially in relation to the theory of mind. The starting point is the Place-Smart after-image argument: A green after-image will not be located outside the skull, but if we cracked open your skull, we won't find anything green in there either. (If we did, you'd have some disturbing medical news.) So the after-image seems not to be in physical space, suggesting that it is non-physical. In response, I argue that the green …Read more
  •  278
    Externalism and “knowing what” one thinks
    Synthese 192 (5): 1337-1350. 2015.
    Some worry that semantic externalism is incompatible with knowing by introspection what content your thoughts have. In this paper, I examine one primary argument for this incompatibilist worry, the slow-switch argument. Following Goldberg , I construe the argument as attacking the conjunction of externalism and “skeptic immune” knowledge of content, where such knowledge would persist in a skeptical context. Goldberg, following Burge :649–663, 1988), attempts to reclaim such knowledge for the ext…Read more
  •  174
    If a semantically open language has no constraints on self-reference, one can prove an absurdity. The argument utilizes co-referring names 'a0' and 'a1', and the definition of a functional expression 'The reflection of x = y'. The definition enables a type of self-reference without deploying any semantic terminology--yet given that a0= a1, the definition implies the that 'a0' = 'a1', which is absurd. In truth, however, 'the reflection of x = y' expresses an ill-defined function. And since there …Read more
  •  208
    Entry on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. A summary of the literature on whether externalism about thought content precludes non-empirical knowledge of one's own thoughts.
  •  193
    Note on Induction
    Think 12 (33): 37-39. 2013.
    ExtractSome logic textbooks say, as if it were the received wisdom, that inductive arguments are partly defined by the thinker's intentions. The claim is that an inductive argument is one where the premises are intended to make the conclusion likely. This contrasts with a deductive argument, where the premises are intended to entail the conclusion. However, since entailing is one way of making more likely, a further way to distinguish induction is needed. The addition offered is that the premise…Read more
  •  248
    A dilemma about kinds and kind terms
    Synthese 198 (Suppl 12): 2987-3006. forthcoming.
    'The kind Lion' denotes a kind. Yet many generics are thought to denote kinds also, like the subject-terms in 'The lion has a mane', 'Dinosaurs are extinct', and 'The potato was cultivated in Ireland by the end of the 17th century.' This view may be adequate for the linguist's overall purposes--however, if we limit our attention to the theory of reference, it seems unworkable. The problem is that what is often predicated of kinds is not what is predicated of the lion, dinosaurs, and the potato. …Read more
  •  166
    Modal Metaphysics
    In J. Feiser & B. Dowden (eds.), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, . 2012.
    This summarizes of some prominent views about the metaphysics of possible worlds.
  •  207
    The Empirical Case against Infallibilism
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 7 (1): 223-242. 2016.
    Philosophers and psychologists generally hold that, in light of the empirical data, a subject lacks infallible access to her own mental states. However, while subjects certainly are fallible in some ways, I show that the data fails to discredit that a subject has infallible access to her own occurrent thoughts and judgments. This is argued, first, by revisiting the empirical studies, and carefully scrutinizing what is shown exactly. Second, I argue that if the data were interpreted to rule out a…Read more
  •  293
    Rule Following and Metaontology
    Journal of Philosophy 112 (5): 247-265. 2015.
    Wittgenstein’s rule-following argument suggests that linguistic understanding does not consist in knowing interpretations, whereas Kripkenstein’s version suggests that meaning cannot be metaphysically fixed by interpretations. In the present paper, rule-following considerations are used to suggest that certain ontological questions cannot be answered by interpretations. Specifically, if the aim is to specify the ontology of a language, an interpretation cannot answer what object an expression of…Read more
  •  158
    Infallibilism about self-knowledge
    Philosophical Studies 133 (3): 411-424. 2007.
    Descartes held the view that a subject has infallible beliefs about the contents of her thoughts. Here, I first examine a popular contermporary defense of this claim, given by Burge, and find it lacking. I then offer my own defense appealing to a minimal thesis about the compositionality of thoughts. The argument has the virtue of refraining from claims about whether thoughts are “in the head;” thus, it is congenial to both internalists and externalists. The considerations here also illuminate h…Read more
  •  442
    Ontic terms and metaontology, or: on what there actually is
    Philosophical Studies 170 (2): 199-214. 2014.
    Terms such as ‘exist’, ‘actual’, etc., (hereafter, “ontic terms”) are recognized as having uses that are not ontologically committing, in addition to the usual commissive uses. (Consider, e.g., the Platonic and the neutral readings of ‘There is an even prime’.) In this paper, I identify five different noncommissive uses for ontic terms, and (by a kind of via negativa) attempt to define the commissive use, focusing on ‘actual’ as my example. The problem, however, is that the resulting definiens f…Read more
  •  124
    Infallibility Naturalized: Reply to Hoffmann
    Dialectica 67 (3): 353-358. 2013.
    The present piece is a reply to G. Hoffmann on my infallibilist view of self-knowledge. Contra Hoffmann, it is argued that the view does not preclude a Quinean epistemology, wherein every belief is subject to empirical revision
  •  244
    Here I first raise an argument purporting to show that Lewis’ Modal Realism ends up being entirely trivial. But although I reject this line, the argument reveals how difficult it is to interpret Lewis’ thesis that possibilia “exist.” Five natural interpretations are considered, yet upon reflection, none appear entirely adequate. On the three different “concretist” interpretations of ‘exist’, Modal Realism looks insufficient for genuine ontological commitment. Whereas, on the “multiverse” interpr…Read more
  •  175
    An Objection to the Laplacean Chalmers
    Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 47 (1): 237-240. 2016.
    I discuss David Chalmers’ “scrutability thesis,” roughly that a Laplacean intellect could know every truth about the universe from a “compact class” of basic truths. It is argued that despite Chalmers’ remarks to the contrary, the thesis is problematic owing to quantum indeterminacy. Chalmers attempts to “frontload” various principles into the compact class to help out. But though frontloading may succeed in principle, Chalmers does not frontload enough to avoid the problem.