David Lewis in the SEP

My entry on David Lewis is online at the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.

I owe thanks to many people for getting this article to the state it is currently in. The biggest debt of gratitude is to Ed Zalta and the staff at the SEP. They were (a) incredibly patient with the time it took me to write the article, and (b) incredibly helpful with all the mistakes I made along the way. I think I made more HTML errors than I knew existed at various points!

Thanks also to many people who read and suggested revisions to the content. At risk of forgetting someone, these include Steffi Lewis, Ishani Maitra, Daniel Nolan, Laurie Paul, Wolfgang Schwarz and Ted Sider. And, as I mention in the article, the whole article would have been impossible if not for the assistance I got from Wo’s blog and Daniel’s book.

That said, there are still many things that could be improved about the article. Hopefully many of these changes will get made in later revisions. The most pressing include:

  • There are many typos! Zach Miller and Robbie Williams have already noted several for me, and I’m sure there are more.
  • I was certain that I’d added something on Daniel Nolan’s response to the Forrest-Armstrong objection in section 6.2, but there isn’t anything in the finished version. I think this was a piece of bad version management on my part. I’ll correct that in the next version.
  • I really intended to say something about “General Semantics” in the philosophy of language section, but couldn’t come up with a good paragraph length description of it. So rather than have the article get even later, I simply skipped it. This wasn’t a great result; I should say something about “General Semantics”. But I’m not sure how to summarise it, and its place in the literature, in a paragraph or so.

Despite that, I’m pretty happy with how the article turned out. I suspect it will be, by far, the most widely read thing I ever write. Thanks again to everyone who helped out along the way!

An actual painted mule case

Well, actually, it’s a hair-dyed donkey, but surprisingly close.

Yet Marah, with its broken-down bumper cars and a pit filled with sadly deflated balls, had its own not-quite-right feel—particularly the zebra. Standing near the back of its cage, facing away from the spectators, the animal kept its head tucked down. “It’s really a painted donkey,” admitted Mahmud Berghat, the director of Marah, when asked about the creature. Making a fake zebra isn’t easy—henna didn’t work and wood paint was deemed inhumane, so they finally settled on human hair dye. “We cut its hair short and then painted the stripes,” Berghat explained behind the closed door of his office.

Thanks to Sherri Roush for the link.

Does Judgment Screen Evidence?

Suppose a rational agent S has some evidence E that bears on p, and makes a judgment J about how E bears on p. The agent is aware of this judgment, so she could in principle use its existence in her reasoning. Here’s an informal version of the question I’ll discuss in this paper: How many pieces of evidence does the agent have that bear on p? Three options present themselves.

  1. Two – Both J and E.
  2. One – E subsumes whatever evidential force J has.
  3. One – J subsumes whatever evidential force E has.

This post is about option 3. I’ll call this option JSE, short for Judgments Screen Evidence. I’m first going to say what I mean by screening here, and then say why JSE is interesting. Ultimately I want to defend three claims about JSE.

  1. JSE is sufficient to derive a number of claims that are distinctive of internalist epistemology of recent years (meaning approximately 2004 to the present day).
  2. JSE is necessary to motivate at least some of these claims.
  3. JSE is false.

This post will largely be about saying what JSE is, then some arguments for 1 and 2. I’ll leave 3 for a later post!

Continue reading “Does Judgment Screen Evidence?”

Kornblith Against Reliabilism

In the April edition of Analysis, Hilary Kornblith proposes a reliabilist solution to the bootstrapping problem. I’m going to argue that Kornblith’s proposal, far from solving the bootstrapping problem, in fact makes the problem much harder for the reliabilist to solve. Indeed, I’m going to argue that Kornblith’s considerations give us a way to develop a quick reductio of a certain kind of reliabilism.

Continue reading “Kornblith Against Reliabilism”

Arché – Rutgers Collaboration

A new announcement on the Arché website.

Arché/St Andrews has just signed a wide-ranging collaboration agreement with the Department of Philosophy at Rutgers University.

The agreement provides fee-wavers for at least six students per year (three at St Andrews and three at Rutgers) and guarantees funding for the successful candidates.

There will be two Arché-Rutgers Conferences each year. These conferences will take place in St Andrews and be jointly organized by St-Andrews and Rutgers faculty, post-docs, and students.

Long-term, we foresee a great deal of collaboration between the two philosophy departments – with a steady flow of students, post-docs, and faculty moving between the two institutions.

This is a great development. I just spent 7 weeks at Arché, and it really is a fantastic place to do philosophy. So I’m very excited about the prospect of (yet more) Rutgers people being able to head over there on a regular basis. And I think having some Archéans around Rutgers will be educational for people from both St Andrews and Rutgers.

I’d like to take some credit for this deal, but in fact I had very little to do with it. Congratulations are due primarily, I gather, to Jason Stanley for doing most of the legwork to make a deal possible. But it looks like a deal that makes both universities considerably better off, and congratulations are really due to everyone on both sides who worked out the arrangement.

Thursday Links

I’m in St Andrews for two more days, until the end of the summer school. It’s been absurdly beautiful here the last couple of days, reminding me why I come here rather than rainy old New York. At least there is some good food and wine to make up for it.

  • The slides for my talk at the summer school are here (PDF). I tinkered a little bit with the slides before the presentation to take out some of the digressions, and still only covered the first 3 sections in the talk. (I had planned to get through 4 sections, but there were several good questions along the way that slowed things down. PS: The link I originally put up to the slides was broken; thanks to Michael Kremer in comments for pointing this out.)
  • Continuing with the Arché theme, our colleagues at CSMN have podcasts of some of their recent conference proceedings. The talks at the Arché summer school are being recorded, so they might go to podcast soon as well.
  • There have been some changes at the Journal of Semantics recently, many of which will make the journal more interesting to people in philosophy department. One of my former colleagues, Zoltan Szabó, is now an associate editor, and two of my colleagues, François Recanati and Roger Schwarzschild, are on the advisory board. The journal aims to cover “all areas in the study of meaning, and particularly welcomes submissions using the best available methodologies in semantics, pragmatics, the syntax/semantics interface, cross-linguistic semantics, experimental studies of meaning (processing, acquisition, neurolinguistics), and semantically informed philosophy of language.” (my emphasis) There is more information here (PDF).