Exploring Ontology

It's all about the deep questions.

My Philosophical Beliefs

As a bit of a background to my other posts, it often helps to know where I’m coming from. So, I’ve decided to chronicle my personal beliefs in all manners philosophical. Philosophical jargon is usually linked to a corresponding article (usually wikipedia when applicable) to give a brief overview of the term for convenience. For those who want to look into it further, I highly recommend the corresponding entry in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. This post will probably be updated every now and then since my beliefs change pretty often, relatively speaking. Here it goes!

Formal Epistemology: Bayesian. Although I recognize that it needs to have some of the details scrutinized (for example the problem of old evidence presupposes logical omniscience), I largely believe it is on the right track. An excellent “updater” for your beliefs given the evidence.

Traditional Epistemology: Some work in traditional epistemology I find useful (combatting skeptical arguments and arguing over various epistemological theories), and some work I find not so useful (conceptual analysis on the word “knowledge” and debates over the viability of meaningful a priori knowledge). Overall, I think I find a modest foundationalism most attractive, even though it can result in a weak form of skepticism.

Ethics: For me, there are deep unsolved questions in meta-ethics that must be tackled first before we are willing to accept any view in normative ethics. Mackie’s classic “Inventing Right and Wrong” has been very influential on me however, so I identify as a tentative error theorist. Even though I do hold this view, morality definitely is a useful fiction that we should all abide by (See here). So, I do think that moral issues are important in this regard. I became a vegetarian for example through arguments from the animal rights movement.

Free Will: Source incompatibilist (first couple of paragraphs define it). Its unfortunate that this problem has to drag out for millennia in philosophy. It almost seems to me that philosophers agree on the facts of the matter; they just disagree on whether the facts are sufficient for a robust form of free will. People who believe in free will acknowledge that if determinism is true than our actions are sufficiently caused by events thousands of years ago (by definition). Most also agree that we have no ultimate control over the way we are. Still further most agree that a large bulk of our actions seem to have their source in unconscious processes. Similarly, those who reject free will recognize that we do behave in an orderly way according to our desires and beliefs, and we have the power to deliberate over “potential” (or perceived) outcomes and choose among them. They also believe that, intuitively, it is obvious that we have free will (they just reject those intuitions).

Philosophy of Math: Structuralist with an anti-realist bent.

Metametaphysics: In metaphysics there seem to be 2 types of questions, those that are substantial and based on non-linguistic truths such as “Does God exist?”, and those that are not (mereological composition anyone?) Unfortunately, in my personal readings it seems as though there are more of the latter. I am skeptical of most things metaphysical.

Consciousness: Surprisingly, I find myself increasingly persuaded by the property dualist view (this is very tentative). Hence, I am driven to reject physicalism (tentatively).

Philosophy of Religion: Strong atheist, weak adeist (if I can coin that word). I certainly do not find any argument for the existence of God persuasive. I do think that there are strong arguments against the traditional conception of God as actively performing miracles, as having a peculiar fascination with one species in the universe (homo sapiens, lucky us), and who is all loving, all good, etc. As for a deistic conception of God, it is sufficiently vague that I think it cannot have a strong refutation. Hence, weak a-deist.

Philosophy of Time: B-theory


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