•  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
  •  346
    Self‐Knowledge and Externalism about Empty Concepts
    Analytic Philosophy 56 (2): 158-168. 2015.
    Several authors have argued that, assuming we have apriori knowledge of our own thought-contents, semantic externalism implies that we can know apriori contingent facts about the empirical world. After presenting the argument, I shall respond by resisting the premise that an externalist can know apriori: If s/he has the concept water, then water exists. In particular, Boghossian's Dry Earth example suggests that such thought-experiments do not provide such apriori knowledge. Boghossian himself r…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
  •  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
  •  277
    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
  •  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
  •  255
    _Self-Reflection for the Opaque Mind_ attempts to solve a grave problem about critical self-reflection. Psychological studies indicate not just that we are bad at detecting our own "ego-threatening" thoughts; they also suggest that we are ignorant of even our ordinary thoughts. However, self-reflection presupposes an ability to know one’s own thoughts. So if ignorance is the norm, why attempt self-reflection? While admitting the psychological data, this book argues that we are infallible in a li…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
  •  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
  •  221
    [Draft substantially revised, September 2021] David Lewis acclimated us to talk of “nonactual concreta that exist,” regarding talking donkeys and the like. I shall argue that this was not for the best, and try to normalize a way of describing them as “actual concreta that do not exist.” The basis of this is a defense of the Meinongian thesis “there are objects of which it is true that there are no such objects,” re: fictitious and illusory objects. I first formulate the problem of negative exist…Read more
  •  214
    In the Mental Fiction, Mental Fictionalism is Fictitious
    The Monist 96 (4): 605-621. 2013.
    Here I explore the prospects for fictionalism about the mental, modeled after fictionalism about possible worlds. Mental fictionalism holds that the mental states posited by folk psychology do not exist, yet that some sentences of folk psychological discourse are true. This is accomplished by construing truths of folk psychology as “truths according to the mentalistic fiction.” After formulating the view, I identify five ways that the view appears self-refuting. Moreover, I argue that this canno…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.
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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.
  •  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
  •  167
    Quine and logical truth
    Erkenntnis 68 (1). 2008.
    It is a consequence of Quine’s confirmation holism that the logical laws are in principle revisable. Some have worried this is at odds with another dictum in Quine, viz., that any translation which construes speakers as systematically illogical is ipso facto inadequate. In this paper, I try to formulate exactly what the problem is here, and offer a solution to it by (1) disambiguating the term ‘logic,’ and (2) appealing to a Quinean understanding of ‘necessity.’ The result is that the different …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.
  •  162
    On the PROVER9 Ontological Argument
    Philosophia 43 (2): 475-483. 2015.
    Oppenheimer & Zalta have re-formulated their non-modal version of the ontological argument, with the help of PROVER9, an automated reasoning engine. The authors end up rejecting the new argument; however, the theist has a rejoinder worth considering. But after presenting the rejoinder, I highlight that the conceivability of the being does not imply its possibility. One lesson is that even non-modal ontological arguments must engage modal matters concerning God. Another lesson is that if PROVER9 …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
  •  125
    Externalism holds that the content of our utterances and thoughts are determined partly by the environment. Here, I offer an argument which suggests that externalism is incompatible with a natural view about ontological commitment--namely, the Quinean view that such commitments are fixed by the range of the variables in your theory. The idea in brief is that if Oscar mistakenly believes that water = XYZ, the externalist ontologically commits Oscar to two waterish kinds, whereas the Quinean commi…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
  •  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.
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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