Steve Patterson: Certainty and Logic | Who Shaves the Barber? #26

Download this episode / Watch on YouTube / RSS Feed / iTunes

Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson’s book Square One: The Foundations of Knowledge begins with the bold claim: “Truth is discoverable. I’m certain of it.” The rest of the book is an attempt to prove that there are certain truths for which there is not a sliver of doubt.

I am, to say the least, unconvinced. Universal fallibilism – the claim that all knowledge leaves room for doubt – is, ironically enough, a view I’m particularly confident of (though, obviously, not certain of). Indeed, I did a two-part podcast on this topic (Against Certainty: Knowledge and Experience and Against Certainty: Logic). In this interview, I challenge Steve’s claims to certainty with my skeptical doubts. The conversation takes us through the Münhhausen Trilemma, the nature of justification, subjective experience, and, of course, the ever-popular liar paradox.

Audio

Video

Next week: Catarina Dutilh Novaes: Logic as Social Practice

Special thanks to Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.
Click here for the full list of episodes!

Topics discussed

0:41 – The goal of certainty
2:59 – Agrippan trilemma
6:37 – Certainty v. necessity (epistemology v. metaphysics)
19:08 – Justification (grounds for belief)
25:42 – Certainty about experience v. certainty about logical truths
29:03 – Meditating on experience
31:40 – Presuppositions of skepticism?
41:50 – Negation
43:32 – “Logic and existence are inseparable”
47:28 – Philosophy of language
49:50 – Liar paradox, negation, and the possibility of contradiction

Sources

Square One: The Foundations of Knowledge by Steve Patterson
How to Resolve the Liar’s Paradox” by Steve Patterson (video)…

Continue Reading →

Steve Patterson: Against Academia | Who Shaves the Barber? #25

Download this episode / Watch on YouTube / RSS Feed / iTunes

Against Academia
Steve Patterson

Is academia the best place to do philosophy?

Independent philosopher Steve Patterson became disillusioned with academia during his time in college and has since decided to pursue philosophy full time outside the academy. He doesn’t mince words when it comes to his views on academic philosophy. For Steve, the university system is perverted by poor incentives, which has resulted in badly written, dogmatic work on irrelevant subject matter with unexamined premises. After recounting his journey to becoming an independent philosopher (which starts with discovering the Santa lie), he lays out his arguments against academia, citing economics, “fandom”, false axioms, religiosity, and arguing over strands of leaves without first settling on the trunk of the philosophical tree.

Audio

Video

Next week: Steve Patterson: Certainty and Logic
Special thanks to Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.
Click here for the full list of episodes!

Topics discussed

0:20 – Intro to Steve Patterson
2:30 – Roots of doubt: Santa, religion, libertarianism, economics
14:20 – Experience w/ university and professors
20:44 – Economics of academia
23:49 – Quality of academic work
28:32 – Philosophy of mathematics (Euclid v. ZFC)
32:40 – Missing the philosophical forest for the trees?
40:23 – Alternatives to peer review and the market for alternatives to academia

Sources

What’s the Big Deal about Bitcoin? by Steve Patterson
Square One: The Foundations of Knowledge by Steve Patterson…

Continue Reading →

Amie Thomasson: Objections to Easy Ontology | Who Shaves the Barber? #24

Download this episode / Watch on YouTube / RSS Feed / iTunes

Easy Ontology

Last weekAmie Thomasson explained “easy ontology”, her preferred approach to resolving the proliferation of ontological debates in recent decades. This week she addresses objections.

Perhaps most pressingly: is easy ontology too easy? There might be a feeling that this is all a linguistic trick that is sidestepping the real question of the actual existence of something. Another important objection is that this method grants existence to way too much. Do we really want to accept that “the sum of my nose and the Eiffel Tower” is a thing that really exists? And what about vagueness – doesn’t easy ontology fall prey to the sorites paradox? Professor Thomasson tackles these and other objections to her method. She concludes with a picture of what would be next for ontology if we accepted easy ontology as the solution to the metaontological debate.

Audio

Video

Special thanks to Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Topics discussed

0:47 – Circularity objection
4:24 – Is any “linguistic approach” too easy?
14:40 – Easy ontology v. the “verbal disputes” view
22:28: What does “exists” actually mean?
25:45 – Is easy ontology bloated?
31:28 – Dropping causal power and mind-independence
34:30 – Vagueness and the sorites paradox
40:06 – What ontological questions are still hard?
45:44 – Conceptual engineering

Sources

Ontology Made Easy by Amie Thomasson
Ordinary Objects by Amie Thomasson
Metaphysical Disputes and Metalinguistic Negotiations” by Amie Thomasson…

Continue Reading →