The Errors of Empiricism: Infallibility of Experience

Ilmari Hirvonen In some sense empiricism is an almost trivially true doctrine: in order to find out what the empirical world is like, some sort of empirical research is needed. And precisely in this sense empiricism is an integral part of current – and past – science.  But in philosophy empiricism has had different, moreContinue reading “The Errors of Empiricism: Infallibility of Experience”

An Addendum on Classification

Ilkka Pättiniemi Last week in considering the realist and conventionalist arguments about the nature of classification, I ended up putting a weak – or perhaps even silly! – argument in the conventionalists mouth. Namely, I had the conventionalist claim that the following is an ampliative inference: “upon encountering a Dewey decimal for a previously unknownContinue reading “An Addendum on Classification”

They Are Merely Conventional Signs!, or, Realism, Conventionalism, and Classification

Ilkka Pättiniemi When it comes to the subject of classification, a conventionalist view might at first blush seem quite welcoming. After all, many classificatory systems are in place for our convenience, and as such we should be free to change them if a new system seems to be doing a better job (given our needs).Continue reading “They Are Merely Conventional Signs!, or, Realism, Conventionalism, and Classification”

How to Test a (Metaphysical) Theory?

Ilmari Hirvonen Take any theory, model, or claim that is about something. Now, it seems rather obvious that there is a distinction to be made between what is true according to the theory and whether the theory itself is true. In order to make this clearer, consider Newton’s second law: F = ma. By substitutingContinue reading “How to Test a (Metaphysical) Theory?”

The Spirit of Verificationism

Ilkka Pättiniemi In philosophy verificationism seems to often enter the fray when one or more thinkers come to realize that the field has become stale and sterile – old ideas show no way forward, no way of settling controversies. The old ways of doing things have, the verificationist thinks, gotten us stuck. Verificationism, then, isContinue reading “The Spirit of Verificationism”

The Trouble With Counterfactuals

Ilkka Pättiniemi An important type of statements are counterfactual statements, that is statements about what would be the case if a fact of the matter were different than it actually is. “If a massive meteor had not hit the Earth at around the KT-boundary, birds would not be the only extant dinosaurs” is a counterfactualContinue reading “The Trouble With Counterfactuals”

Rorty on Truth: Truth, What is it Good For?

Ilkka Pättiniemi Welcome, dear reader, to the third installment of Rorty on Truth. This time around I will take a look at what the concept of ‘truth’ can be good for, at least according to Rorty. Let’s start with a caricature. (I’m not sure that this in fact is a caricature, but am perfectly willingContinue reading “Rorty on Truth: Truth, What is it Good For?”

The Metaphysician’s Motte-and-Bailey

Ilmari Hirvonen Philosophers often think quite highly of what they are doing, and those engaged in metaphysics are no exception. Indeed, metaphysicians offer perhaps the clearest example of this attitude, for they frequently insist that their work is not only important but, in fact, necessary. After all, who could deny the self-evident truth that everyoneContinue reading “The Metaphysician’s Motte-and-Bailey”

Are You Serious?! Zeno’s Paradox and the Impossibility of Movement

Ilkka Pättiniemi In a recent piece on Starts With a Bang, Ethan Siegel takes up Zeno’s paradox and argues that it takes physics to solve it. Here I will not so much look at Siegel’s piece as take it as an opportunity to look at the absurdity of Zeno’s paradox seriously. Again this will takeContinue reading “Are You Serious?! Zeno’s Paradox and the Impossibility of Movement”

Vat-Knowledge Is Knowledge Enough

Ilmari Hirvonen Among the mighty tasks that analytic epistemologists have taken upon themselves is to give an answer to the philosophical sceptic. Simplifying a little, one could summarise scepticism as the denial of knowledge. In other words, the sceptic claims that we don’t know anything or, alternatively, some specific thing – like whether the pastContinue reading “Vat-Knowledge Is Knowledge Enough”

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