Category Archives: Uncategorized

Knowledge for Humans

I have taught “Epistemology” for many years, but it has always been for me a difficult course to plan. I want to cover traditional philosophical questions about skepticism, justification, induction, and belief in the external world. But then I also … Continue reading

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The argument from design, and the surprising significance of evolutionary explanation

At least on the surface, there seems to be something incongruous in regarding some artifact (like a watch) as clearly implying some kind of intelligent, crafty mind, but then regarding that intelligent, crafty mind as not implying any sort of … Continue reading

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The Thing About Mary

One of the cleanest and most compelling arguments against physicalism in the philosophy of mind is the “Knowledge Argument”. (Here is a quick summary. The response I am going to offer doesn’t show up there, though it fits in as … Continue reading

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Psyche: How to Read Philosophy

It might seem daunting to read philosophy. Giants of thinking with names like Hegel, Plato, Marx, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard loom over us with imperious glares, asking if we are sure we are worthy. We might worry that we won’t understand … Continue reading

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Teaching history (and philosophy) of the knowledge of nature and (history of) “the philosophy of science”

I have been teaching university philosophy classes for something like 78 years. (At some point, when you can’t summon the energy to figure out how old you are, and what year something happened, and then do a bit of subtraction, … Continue reading

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For the sake of discussion

We know all too well how easy it is to write something to someone online that we would never say face to face, and conversely how much more effort it takes to write online with the general kindness we employ … Continue reading

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3QD: Protective Living Communities

By 2025, protective living communities (PLCs) had started to form. The earliest PLCs, such as New Promise and New New Babylon, based themselves on rationalist doctrines: decisions informed by best available science, and either utilitarian ethics or Rawlsian principles of … Continue reading

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The Ring of Gyges (a story)

So, I’m no fiction writer (at least, not on purpose). I give it a shot now and then, for fun. A while back I had a plan to write a series of stories featuring the “wonder cabinet” of Dr Tenebris, … Continue reading

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3QD: Freedom and determinism – what we can learn from the failures of two pretty good arguments

The “Consequence Argument” is a powerful argument for the conclusion that, if determinism is true, then we have no control over what we do or will do. The argument is straightforward and simple (as given in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy): … Continue reading

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Structure, Energy, and Reality

This past term I’ve been teaching a capstone class in which students are supposed to write a longer paper on some topic that means a lot to them. It’s meant to be a culminating event for their undergraduate work in … Continue reading

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What we know when we know particulars

Some reflections on the early sections of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: If we try to think about what is most obvious in our experience, and what the most basic elements of knowledge are, we turn to sense perception. For it … Continue reading

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Unvatting the Brains: Putnam, Bostrom, and thinking the unthinkable

The worry is familiar. All of my experience comes to me via my central nervous system, which is a biochemical electrical network. It can be hacked. The data coming from my eyes and ears and so on are converted to … Continue reading

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RNZ interview

The Sunday Show of Radio New Zealand interviewed me about my Delphic maxims piece. It was a delight to speak with Jim Mora, the host. You can listen to the interview here, if you like. We vacationed in New Zealand nearly … Continue reading

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A poisoned peace

“I realize that if through science I can seize phenomena and enumerate them, I cannot, for all that, apprehend the world. Were I to trace its entire relief with my finger, I should not know any more. And you give … Continue reading

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Crowd going apeshit

I’m generally not a fan of pop music, but the recent Beyoncé/Jay-Z video really is masterful:   So many difficult questions are held up for reflection, especially for successful producers and consumers of today’s arts. If you are a successful … Continue reading

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