Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Prognostic practitioners, transient underdetermination, and meta-underdeterminaton

I wrote these notes on the problem of transient underdetermination in seventeenth century cosmology for a previous post on epistemic counter-closure, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it wasn't an appropriate example: ever since Pierre Duhem, the cosmological dispute between heliocentric and geocentric models been historically understood in philosophy to primarily be a case of underdetermination rather than epistemic counter-closure. Introducing any instances of apparent inferential knowledge predicated on false basis beliefs produces additional confusion rather than clarity.

In order to salvage these notes, I expanded and edited the original piece to segue into addressing a meta-philosophical problem, which I call the problem of meta-underdetermination. Due to space constraints, the post will be up sometime in the following weeks.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Draft of slides for upcoming talk and conferences

Tomorrow I will be presenting a talk on a possible solution to the demarcation problem at the Advanced Research Seminar at King's College London. The tentative title is as follows: 'Some suitable demarcation criteria: A novel approach to rehabilitating and extending demarcation criteria by adopting a temporal logic'.

This talk is an extension of the one I gave at NNPS 2017. (As an aside: I wish to thank Dr Ben Martin of University College London for his helpful commentary, as well as the comments from other philosophers during the Q&A). Shorter versions of this talk will be presented next month at SILFS 2017 and ECAP 9 in late August.

It seems only appropriate to post a revised (but far from finalised) draft of the slides. They are now available here. Any constructive (or destructive) criticism is welcome.


Monday, 15 May 2017

An objection from intuition or normal use of terms

I'm posting some more provisional thoughts I have about the underlying motivations for accepting the objection from ill-fit as a case of 'one man's modus ponens is another man's modus tollens'. That is to say, the structure of the argument is taken to show that if our intuitive concepts and explications and refinements of our intuitive concepts are in conflict, the intuition is to be preferred. Specifically, should any criteria of demarcation not be in accordance with our strongly-held intuitions, one of the two must go, intuition prevails at the expense of demarcation criteria.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

A problem for epistemic counter-closure

Papers dealing with the puzzle of epistemic closure have been a cottage industry in philosophy for some decades, but there is another problem for inferential knowledge, epistemic counter-closure. In what follows, I provide an overview of the three major diagnoses of where the problem lies and proposals for solving it, then note that there are test cases from history of science that aren't addressed by the three proposals, specifically the mature nineteenth century version of miasmatic theory developed by Dr William Farr.

Monday, 10 April 2017

A response to Edward Feser

Edward Feser has a new blog post, 'The Problem of Hume's Problem of Induction'. Given my previous response to Eugene Earnshaw, I think it's appropriate to cover Feser's two arguments, one which we can call an argument for self-refutation and the second a burden-shifting argument

I will begin with the argument for self-refutation, show that it proves too much, then, assuming Feser's argument that Hume's Fork is self-refuting, end with the burden-shifting argument. In short, the burden-shifting argument is an argumentative tactic closer to a forced perspective: from a certain angle the argument looks large and impressive (the inductive sceptic is now on the defensive!), but once we are able to move freely, we see from a different angle it is in fact quite small and oddly-shaped in order to give it a certain desirable appearance (the inductive sceptic would be on the defensive, if we make the following controversial assumptions).

Saturday, 8 April 2017

A brief response to Dr Eugene Earnshaw

In a recent article in Philosophy Now, 'How I Solved Hume’s Problem and Why Nobody Will Believe Me', Dr Eugene Earnshaw of Seneca College claims, as evidenced by the title of his article, to have solved Hume's problem of induction. If true, this would be no small feat. However, Earnshaw has not solved Hume's problem of induction. In fact, Earnshaw fails to address the already extant literature responding to the purported solution.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Some brief notes surrounding popular misconceptions of the objection from ill-fit

Here are some brief notes on the perpetuation of three philosophic myths surrounding Popper's demarcation criterion:

(i) Popper's demarcation criterion sets out the limits of the natural sciences from non-science or pseudo-science.

(ii) Popper's criterion explicitly demarcates isolated scientific theories from non-scientific or pseudo-scientific theories.


(iii) Popper's criterion is either too restrictive and/or permissive a criterion to demarcate the domains of science from non-science or pseudo-science (the objection from ill-fit).

All are false.

(N.B. In fact, Ayer's 1936/46 criterion and Carnap's 1956 criterion are either trivial or reduce to Popper's 1934/35 criterion. See: Popper (1959, 65-66), Ayer (1936, 97-99) and Carnap (1956). Thus, there exist three different versions of the objection from ill-fit: the first objection addressed below is widely off the mark; a second objection I allude to has been answered in the literature (cf. Gillies, 1971); the third, seen in, e.g. Church's review of Ayer (1949), was so debilitating it put to rest most work done on the demarcation problem.)
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