This book is based on previously unpublished lectures that Wisdom delivered at the University of Virginia. Its content goes significantly beyond that of his other books. Here he is concerned with how misunderstandings about what it is to prove something or what it is to explain something can infect our thinking in many different fields.
Professor Wisdom gives an elementary introduction to the applications in philosophy of the analytical method. He believes that the aim of analysis is clarity, whereas the aim of speculative philosophy is truth. After a brief introduction on what analysis is, he discusses the relation of body and mind and seeks for causal relations between mental and material events. He concludes this section with a chapter on Free will, before turning to perception and the external world.
A common line of thought in contemporary metaethics is that certain facts about the evolutionary history of humans make moral realism implausible. Two of the most developed evolutionary cases against realism are found in the works of Richard Joyce and Sharon Street. In what follows, I argue that a form of moral realism that I call proper-function moral realism can meet Joyce and Street's challenges. I begin by sketching the basics of proper-function moral realism. I then present what I take (...) to be the essence of Street's and Joyce's objections, and I show how proper-function realism answers them. (shrink)
Originally published in 1952. This book is a critical survey of the views of scientific inference that have been developed since the end of World War I. It contains some detailed exposition of ideas – notably of Keynes – that were cryptically put forward, often quoted, but nowhere explained. Part I discusses and illustrates the method of hypothesis. Part II concerns induction. Part III considers aspects of the theory of probability that seem to bear on the problem of induction and (...) Part IV outlines the shape of this problem and its solution take if transformed by the present approach. (shrink)
Instrumentalism is an approach to science that treats a theory as a tool and only as a tool for computation; it dispenses with the concept of truth.Conventionalism treats a theory as true by convention if it forms a pattern of observations from which correct predictions can be made.Operationalism denies meaning to the concepts of a theory unless they can be defined operationally. It is argued in this paper that truth-value is indispensable to science, because a theory can be rejected only (...) if an empirical consequence is false and if falsity of a conclusion entails falsity of a premise. This undermines the above positions. The fourth interpretation isinduction. Induction, by contrast, uses the notion of truth-value. What is focused on here is its reliance on the ultimacy ofobservation. The present thesis is that instrumentalism, conventionalism, and induction are different attempts to handle observations. The common problem is the gap between data and theory.All these interpretations share a philosophy of observationalism. The aim of this paper is to show that the several orthodox interpretations of science all fail to solve the problem of the data-theory gap, and to show that they all presuppose a philosophy of observation. (shrink)
In this essay I distinguish between a synchronic view of base property exemplification and a diachronic one. I argue that only a diachronic view of base property exemplification can substantiate a ban on morally mixed worlds. I then argue that one of Robert Mabrito’s recent criticisms of Russ Shafer-Landau’s moral realism fails on either a synchronic or a diachronic view.
Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons have recently provided an updated presentation and defense of a metaethical view that they call cognitivist expressivism. Expressivists claim that moral judgments express propositional attitudes that do not represent or describe the external world. Horgan and Timmons agree with this claim, but they also deny the traditional expressivist claim that moral judgments do not express beliefs. On their view, moral judgments are genuine, truth-apt beliefs, thus making their form of expressivism a cognitivist one. In this (...) essay, I argue that Horgan and Timmons have failed to demonstrate that moral judgments express sui generis, nondescriptive content by showing that at least some moral content is descriptive. In addition, I show how the descriptivist can account for those properties that Horgan and Timmons consider distinctive of moral belief. In doing so, I remove one of the expressivist's most important lines of motivation for positing nondescriptive moral content in the first place. At the end of the essay, I briefly sketch a view that I call partial or modest moral realism. (shrink)
Nearly 30 years ago, Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons published a now- popular article that combines Hilary Putnam’s Twin Earth scenario with G.E. Moore’s open question argument in an effort to show that moral naturalism – the view that moral facts are at bottom ordinary, natural facts of some sort – is probably false. Responses to Horgan and Timmons’s “revised open question argument” have been legion, but surprisingly, no one has attempted to test the core assumption upon which the argument (...) is based; namely, that competent language users univocally treat natural kind-terms as rigid designators. Here, I present evidence that the intuitions of competent English speakers are not as univocal as Horgan and Timmons need them to be to ground their argument against moral naturalism. I also briefly sketch a way that the moral naturalist can respond even if competent language speakers do treat natural-kind terms in the way that Horgan and Timmons suggest. (shrink)