Philosophy

(Some of the following originated as class assignments while I was attending Cal State San Bernardino, and are so noted within them. I have put them here because I think it possible that some people will enjoy reading them. In some cases the version here incorporates comments from the assigning professor. In no case should the reader infer anything about the professor's opinion of what appears on this site.)

An odyssey

My worldview. The first installment of a planned account of my intellectual evolution.

Who needs philosophy? We all do. (From the year 2001.)

Philosophizing about philosophy. A followup to the previous. (Added April 4, 2017.)

Early philosophers. Some remarks about the beginnings of Western philosophy. (Added April 22, 2017.)

Some brief comments on historiography. A reminder that what we read in history books is not necessarily history. (Added April 24, 2017.)

Politics

The Pournelle axes. An excursion into political philosophy. (Added April 3, 2017.)

On the state of nature in political philosophy (PDF). Some observations on the potential applicability of modern paleoanthropological discoveries to political philosophy.

Epistemology

Thoughts on Eastern philosophy. What I learned from a course therein.

Some observations about evidentialism. A response to claims that evidentialism is self-defeating, and other remarks.

Justified false belief (PDF). Can error be justified? Sure it can, unless you think you're incapable of it yourself.

Reconciling Putnam and Alston. William Alston says to Hilary Putnam: Can't we all just get along? No, not really.

Alvin Plantinga, naturalism, and epistemology. Can we believe our eyes? Not unless God made them, according to Plantinga.

Comments on Gettier (PDF). You want to argue epistemology? If this guy's name isn't familiar to you, then you're not ready for prime time.

The problem with reliablism. Reliablism was an attempt to deal with the Gettier problem. It didn't work for that purpose, but the concept is still useful.

Observations on foundationalism. Foundationalism is not easily defended. This is my contribution (so far) to the effort.

Bayesian probability: A defense (PDF). A discussion of some problems associated with applications of Bayes' theorem.

Lighten up, Clifford. W.K. Clifford, a 19th-century American philosopher, said belief without sufficient evidence is not just foolish but immoral as well. I disagree.

Evolution and the ethics of belief. A followup to a previous essay on Clifford's dictum. (Added March 20, 2017.)

Appealing to authority. It's not exactly true that you can't prove anything with an argument from authority.

Burden of proof. If you have something to say, then you have something to prove.

Metaphysics

Platonism and the theists. Platonism is a popular notion among Christian philosophers, despite problems it causes for their theology. In this essay I offer them a solution.

The Four Worlds Paradox (PDF). This essay offers comments on a problem in modal logic having to do with possible worlds.

Taxonomically challenging

Reflections on intellectual orthodoxy. A plea for doxastic tolerance. (Added March 20, 2017.)

About scientism. Susan Haack says the charge of "scientism" is sometimes justified. I'm not so sure.

On the impossibility of square circles. There are a few things we really can't be wrong about, and square circles are one of them.

Plato and Justin (PDF). I suggest that the second-century Christian apologist Justin may have gotten a key idea, reinforcing a notion propounded by Paul, from his reading of Plato.

A theory about prime numbers. This is a spoof I threw together just to have some fun.

Comments on a fable. The one about the blind men and the elephant. Some people read way too much into it.


(This page last updated on April 22, 2017.)

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