Do We Understand the Principle of Charity?

When trying to understand an unknown philosophy (or philosopher) we are taught that we should give that philosophy every possible opportunity to say something relevant.  This practice is called using the Principle of Charity and there are various ways philosophers go about implementing it (via Wikipedia): By believing The other uses words in the ordinary way; The other makes true statements; The other makes valid arguments; The other says something interesting. I do not believe […]

The Non-Reducibility & Scientific Explanation Problem

Q: What is a multiple star system? A: More than one star in a non-reducible mutual relationship spinning around each other. Q: How did it begin? A: Well, I guess, the stars were out in space and at some point they became close in proximity.  Then their gravitations caused each other to alter their course and become intertwined. Q: How did the gravitations cause the courses of the stars to become intertwined?  Gravity does one […]


Apropos my previous post, it was suggested that the single most confusing aspect of philosophy explaining why philosophy is relevant.  Can we justify ourselves? I figure that no one is worrying about medical ethics.  What about metaphysics, obscure logic, and all the other good stuff that us philosophers call our own?  If we can justify that stuff to the general public, then I figure we’re OK for everything else too. The things people care about […]

What is the Single Worst Understood Philosophical Concept?

I’d like to get anyone’s opinion about what he or she believes to be the single worst understood philosophical concept.    Feel free to mention why you think so if you want.  Also feel free to interpret the meaning of ‘worst’: across the general public, academia, grad students, old codgers, whatever (but do identify your target, please).

Of Duckrabbits and Identity

Of late I’ve become increasingly concerned with the meaning of identity.  When we say, ‘x = x,’ we don’t mean that the x on the left is exactly identical to the x on the right because the x on the left is just that, on the left, and the x on the right is on the right, not the left.  Since equality would be useless without having 2 different objects (try to imagine the use […]

Dismantling Fodor’s Argument

Fodor argued that the theory of evolution is not a legitimate theory of science because it is either vacuously true or wrong.  He accused Darwin of committing the intentional fallacy. (synopsis here) Insofar as he made no logical mistakes in his reasoning, we need a different strategy to defend the theory of evolution.  In this post I will argue that his argument is an instance of gerneral underdetermination, and hence not a problem of evolution […]

What Fodor Got Wrong

Jerry Fodor recently (4 March) gave a talk entitled “What Darwin Got Wrong” at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.  He accused Darwin of committing the intentional fallacy and hence said, straight out, that he didn’t believe in the theory of evolution. So what exactly does Fodor think Darwin got wrong? He believes that the theory of evolution is vacuously true (or just wrong) and hence not a worthwhile theory of science. You […]

the lowest desires of modern people

… Another alternative would have been to give you what’s called a popular scientific lecture, that is a lecture intended to make you believe that you understand a thing which actually you don’t understand, and to gratify what I believe to be one of the lowest desires of modern people, namely the superficial curiosity about the latest discoveries of science. This quote is from the beginning of Wittgenstein’s “A Lecture on Ethics” or whatever the […]

Time and the Limits of Science

Measurement takes time; measurement is a process.  So the measurement of time immediately yields this theoretical issue: Since measurement takes time, our ability to break time into ever smaller pieces will always be proportional to the method of measurement used.  The faster our measurement device that measures time, the more divisible time will be.  Insofar as there are limits to how fast a measurement process can occur (relativistic or other), there will be limits on […]