My Web of Beliefs: October 2011
by, 10-06-2011 at 06:53 PM (353 Views)
Inspired by the feature of the same name, created by Princeton philosopher Richard Chappell, I've decided to post a "web of beliefs" where I post my current opinions on certain key areas of philosophical inquiry. This will not only give a better picture of my thought for reader, but is also a useful tool for tracking the evolution of my own thought. NOTE: I do not have what I consider an informed opinion on everything. I've only posted my opinions on areas of philosophy where I think I have a defensible, coherent position.
I still support ontic structural realism.
I'm more of a Platonist than I used to be. I think we can coherently speak of abstract objects "existing," even if that "existence" isn't quite ontological.
As such I'm somewhere between an actualist and a fictionalist when it comes to the metaphysics of modality. The reason for the divide is that I'm not sure if possible worlds are well-defined enough to truly be abstract "objects" in the same way mathematical entities are.
I'm still an ontological physicalist, but my broader metaphysical physicalism might be weakening. I'm having some trouble on whether there can be properties that are not reducible to physical properties, such as moral properties, even if those properties supervene on a purely physicalist ontology. I also have an unusually Platonistic view of what "physicalism" is (see ontic structural realism).
I accept Gettier cases.
I'm still an externalist.
I'm still a fallibist.
I'm now firmly against naturalized epistemology.
I'm an anti-foundationalist.
I still support Daniel Dennett's model of perception as error-checking.
Philosophy of science
I'm a scientific realist (see ontic structural realism).
I accept theory-laddenness and underdetermination.
I'm a non-Humean about laws of nature.
I'm broadly Popperian about the methods of science, but am a realist.
Philosophy of Language
I support the Semantic or Tarskian theory of truth, which is has similarities with both the Correspondence and Coherence theories.
I accept the analytic-synthetic distinction as valid.
I accept the notions of synthetic a priori, necessary a posteriori, and contingent a priori (a la Kant and Kripke) as valid.
Philosophy of Mind
I'm not sure how much of a property physicalist I still am. But I'm definitely not a substance dualist. I still lean towards supervenience physicalism at the very least.
I'm now definitely a functionalist.
I'm unsure about substrate-dependence.
I definitely think at least some non-humans have minds and constitute persons.
I support higher-order theories of consciousness.
I don't think there is any ultimate self. "I" am an approximate construction.
I'm a moral realist. I think there are moral facts. This is a non-metaphysical view.
I'm warming up to the idea of external intrinsic value, though I'm not sure. I need more time to think about this vs. subjective accounts of intrinsic value.
I'm warming up more and more to deontology as opposed to utilitarianism, though to some extent I still buy Derek Parfit's argument that act utilitarianism and deontology may be too similar to be functionally distinct.
I have developed an understanding of the categorical imperative based on reasons, inspired by Derek Parfit's extensive exploration of the notion of "reasons."
I am moving more towards a categorical imperative based deontology from my previous hypothetical imperative based one.
(New section) Applied Ethics
I have come around to a stronger animal rights view than I previously held, based on deontic duties to respect the autonomy of persons (see philosophy of mind).
I have decided that at least some instances of environmental destruction are morally wrong, not just instrumentally not prudent.
I have re-interpreted the application of the categorical imperative to sexuality in light of superior contemporary metaphysics and views of personal identity, compared to Kant's day. Consent becomes central to autonomy, as the notion of "using one's own body" violating the autonomy of a person is incoherent.
Unnecessary moral prohibitions are themselves wrong because they fail to properly treat persons as ends-in-themselves. Thus, moral prohibitions on homosexuality, premarital sex, etc. are themselves moral wrongs.
Abortion is not wrong under the categorical imperative (Kant himself defended this view, so go to him for it).
If it is possible to have strong AI (computer minds), they constitute persons and we have moral duties towards them.
Philosophy of Religion
I'm still and strong atheist and a theological noncognitivist. I now think theistic explanations do not constitute genuine explanations, and theistic "theories" are thus not even truth-apt (candidates for truth or falsity).
Reformed epistemology is fundamentalism on stilts, and relies indirectly on classical foundationalism.
I support a combination of Rawlsian and Dworkinian contractualism as the basis of a just government.
I think the Rawlsian veil of ignorance might be a formulation of the categorical imperative.
Liberalism constitutes a normative moral theory to some extent (hence why I call my moral theory deontological liberalism).
Patriotism is at least sometimes acceptable.
Accepting the "nation" as the "tribe" for the sake of normative evaluation is arbitrary. Thus, many global institutions and political actions are justified, e.g. strong systems of international trade.
Some degree of militarism is justified.
I'm an interpretavist. I'm not strongly against positivism.
In constitutional law I support the notion of unenumerated fundamental rights.
I lean in the "living document" direction on constitutional interpretation.