The Dif

Our topic is the difference variously labeled as that between, on the one hand, “doing” or “causing” or “making” something happen and, on the other, “allowing” or “letting” it happen. Our goal here is to say “What’s the Dif?”...

Trolley Problems

Philosophical treatments of the Trolley Problem ignore morally significant subtleties....

Why we cannot change the past

Presented at the “Free Will Physics and Metaphysics” conference. Rutgers University, May 12th,2022...

The Computational Theory of the Laws of Nature

An alternative to the Best System Account of Laws based upon Algorithmic Information Theory....

Obligations and the Obligatory

What is the connection between our moral rights and duties and what we ought to do? What principles bridge these different forms of moral talk?...

Computation, Laws and Supervenience

The Computational Theory of Laws has implications for the Logic of Nomological Necessity and debates about Humean Supervenience....

Open Access Philosophy

Why are there still hard copy philosophical journals and books?  Why is so much on-line philosophy hidden behind subscription walls?  Why are universities, students and researchers being forced to pay for access to information authors would happily give away for free?...

The Good, The Bad and Peter Singer

Singer says that failing to donate money to help suffering from poverty and preventable diseases is as morally bad as standing by as a child drowns. But how bad is that I wonder?...

The Simple Theory of Counterfactuals

The account of counterfactuals that most philosophers endorse is wrong. The correct theory is Johanthan Bennett's Simple Theory. ...

Allowing Experimental Philosophy

" In our first study, all subjects were given a story about a person who ends up in the hospital. The person is being kept alive by life-support systems, but then the doctor turns off these systems specifically for the purpose of making sure the person dies. Subjects are then asked whether it would be more accurate to...

The Retributive Theory of Rights

The theory analyses rights as permissions to harm others....

Retributive Ethics

Begin with the principle: It is impermissible to harm others (other things being equal)......

A Few Short Steps to the Gallows

Beware gentle reader! To pass beyond this point is begin a quick march to a place you would rather not go. Be prepared to make tough choices. Watch your step but try to keep up with the group....

Means and Ends

Consider this  principle proposed by Judith Jarvis Thomson in The Realm of Rights.   The Sole-Means Principle for Permissibility: If the only means X has of doing Beta is doing Alpha , then it would be permissible for X to do beta if and only if it would permissible for X to do alpha.   If the Sole Means Principle (SMP) ...

Retributive Ethics in a Nutshell

Retributivist Ethics is rooted in five assumptions......

Darwin and his Defenders

I recently found myself defending Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini's "What Darwin Got Wrong"...

Self Defense

If we have any rights, we surely have the right to self-defense. And yet self-defense has proven very puzzling to Rights theorists....

The Retributive Theory of Property

Retributive ethics derives property rights from conventionally agreed to permissions to harm others. ...

The Origins of Property II

Readers of these posts will recognize the parable as a dramatic staging of the Retributive Theory of Property....

Experimental Philosophy: A Modest Proposal

Experimental Philosophy appears to be wholly comprised of administering questionnaires to the philosophically naïve in order to ascertain their philosophic "intuitions" . ...

Dennett vs Mele

Dennett's criticism of Mele's new book is a disgraceful ad hominem....

The Origins of Property: A Parable with Morals

Once upon a time there was a primitive tribe that hunted and gathered in a verdant forest in a temperate clime. ...

Why Time has a Direction

The direction of time is the direction of contingent counterfactual dependence and hence causation. ...

Determinism

The textbook definitions of 'determinism' that avoid appeal to the notion of nomological possibility are mistake...

The Temporal Asymmetry of Counterfactuals

Lewis's account of the temporal asymmetry of counterfactuals fails and is inconsistent with this own analysis of counterfactuals. A different account of counterfactuals explains the asymmetry. ...

Counterfactuals-The Short Course

A short primer on counterfactuals and the difference between Jonathan Bennett’s “Simple Theory” and David Lewis’s “miracles” account....

Blackburn, Truth and other Hot Topics

Blackburn and Fodor fail to appreciate the threat incommensurability poses to our belief in objective truth. ...

Determinism

... there is widespread confusion about what ‘determinism’ means. Certainly the standard textbook definitions are wrong. Wrong in the way that definitions are wrong: they don't capture what anyone really means by the term. ...