Thursday, October 28, 2021

2020 PhilPapers Survey

 The 2020 PhilPapers Survey is now available. I didn't participate, but I thought I'd put up my answers to the questions asked.

Main Questions

A priori knowledge: no or yes? YES. I think we can know a priori that attempts to deny any kind of a priori knowledge are absurd. What a priori knowledge is, is a trickier question, and I think many of the accounts on the table are not very good.

* Abstract objects: Platonism or nominalism? OTHER, i.e., Aristotelianism, although in a forced choice between Platonism and nominalism, I'll always pick Platonism.

Aesthetic value: objective or subjective? OBJECTIVE. I don't think it's actually possible to be a consistent subjectivist in aesthetics.

*Aim of philosophy (which is most important?): wisdom, understanding, truth/knowledge, happiness, or goodness/justice? WISDOM, although I could technically say 'Other', since I think all of these are the same end at the limit.

* Analytic-synthetic distinction: yes or no? NO, although in the sense that I don't think there is any general such distinction; I think in particular contexts, you can have something like it.

Eating animals and animal products (is it permissible to eat animals and/or animal products in ordinary circumstances?): vegetarianism (no and yes), omnivorism (yes and yes), or veganism (no and no)? OMNIVORISM. I think the No-No answer is obviously irrational; we are so obviously omnivorous that we cannot get all the nutrients our bodies need from plants alone, and while we can compensate for lack of animal sources by other sources (synthetics, algae and other bacterial colonies, etc.), these are obviously not equally accessible to everyone. Strict veganism, unless you plan it very carefully, is not good for you, people, and while there might be reasons why you would yourself live a vegan lifestyle, trying to claim that nobody should eat any kind of animal products at all is absurd.

* Epistemic justification: internalism or externalism? OTHER. I suppose in a forced choice I'm an externalist, but (1) I don't think justification is a single kind of thing; and (2) I think what serves the role philosophers usually mean when they talk about epistemic justification varies considerably according to the circumstances. 

Experience machine (would you enter?): yes or no? NO.

External world: skepticism, non-skeptical realism, or idealism? NON-SKEPTICAL REALISM.

Footbridge (pushing man off bridge will save five on track below, what ought one do?): don't push or push? NO, it's always wrong deliberately to murder innocent people however you try to justify it.

* Free will: compatibilism, no free will, or libertarianism? LIBERTARIANISM.

* Gender: unreal, biological, social, or psychological? UNREAL. This is my biggest contemporary heresy. I don't think 'gender', as such, indicates anything at all. Some of the things that are called 'gender' are real, but what gets called 'gender' is an incoherent grab-bag of very different things that really should be treated as very different.

* God: atheism or theism? THEISM.

* Knowledge: empiricism or rationalism? OTHER, technically, since I'm an Aristotelian with Platonistic features when it comes to knowledge; but in a forced choice, I would pick 'rationalism', because if you use the latter term in the broadest sense, it includes any view that does not restrict what we can know to the senses.

* Knowledge claims: relativism, contextualism, or invariantism? OTHER, I'm definitely not a relativist, but I'm not sure that I think that the contextualism/invariantism distinction is well-formed.

Laws of nature: non-Humean or Humean? NON-HUMEAN.

* Logic: classical or non-classical? NON-CLASSICAL. Classical logic, of course, is a modern invention arising from the desire of mathematical logicians to have a neat and tidy system; traditional approaches to logic, which I favor, are paraconsistent.

* Meaning of life: objective, nonexistent, or subjective? OBJECTIVE.

* Mental content: internalism or externalism? OTHER. I don't have a fully formed view on this, I think, but I'm inclined to think that all the varieties of both internalism and externalism are missing something.

Meta-ethics: moral anti-realism or moral realism? MORAL REALISM, although I do in fact think that there are extensive domains of morality that are anti-realist. It's just that many aren't.

* Metaphilosophy: non-naturalism or naturalism? NON-NATURALISM. I have a very strong view here: naturalism is an unprovable position that nobody could possibly hold on the basis of reasoned evidence, because it would require knowing things we cannot possibly know, whereas there are many things that could at least plausibly suggest non-naturalism to a reasonable person. I don't think people fully appreciate just how *strong* a claim is made by naturalism.

* Mind: physicalism or non-physicalism? NON-PHYSICALISM, although I think the two are not as obviously separate as they are sometimes assumed to be, because I don't think the 'physical' is as straightforward as it is sometimes assumed to be.

Moral judgment: cognitivism or non-cognitivism? COGNITIVISM, although I do think there are non-judgment responses in moral matters that are non-cognitive.

* Moral motivation: externalism or internalism? OTHER. I don't think this is a distinction that makes sense of how motivation even works.

* Newcomb's problem: one box or two boxes? OTHER; it's an error to think that decision theory problems like this have only one answer, because it depends on what aspects of the problem you prioritize. 

Normative ethics: consequentialism, virtue ethics, or deontology? VIRTUE ETHICS.

* Perceptual experience: sense-datum theory, representationalism, qualia theory, or disjunctivism? OTHER, technically, as I'm an Aristotelian about perception; but in a forced choice my view is closest to representationalism.

* Personal identity: biological view, psychological view, or further-fact view? FURTHER-FACT. 

* Philosophical methods (which methods are the most useful/important?): conceptual analysis, conceptual engineering, empirical, experimental, formal, intuition-based, linguistic? OTHER; I think it is an extremely grave error to limit the methodological options for philosophy, and all of these (and others) have areas in which they are the most useful. 

* Philosophical progress (is there any?): a lot, a little, or none? A LOT, although of course it is highly variable.

* Political philosophy: communitarianism, egalitarianism, or libertarianism? OTHER, although communitarianism is the closest.

* Proper names: Millian or Fregean? OTHER; neither in their usual forms are quite right, although Fregeanism is less defective.

* Race: unreal, social, or biological? OTHER; I think people equivocate all over the place about race, but I think (unlike gender) it is usually used in a coherent way. But it doesn't make any sense to divide 'social' and 'biological' like this; we are never in a situation in which we are dealing with only one or the other.

Science: scientific realism or scientific anti-realism? SCIENTIFIC REALISM; although there are areas of science about which one should be quite clearly anti-realist, they exist within a realist framework.

Teletransporter (new matter): death or survival? OTHER, technically; I don't think we have any idea what would be involved in something like this, although death is the more probable based on what we currently know.

* Time: B-theory or A-theory? OTHER; one of my longstanding views is that time is not adequately characterized in either of these ways, because they were originally theories of different particular ways of talking about time, both of which are legitimate.

* Trolley problem (five straight ahead, one on side track, turn requires switching, what ought one do?): don't switch or switch? OTHER; I think there is no right or wrong answer in trolley problems. Deliberate action (switching in this case) is usually less morally safe; but it's not necessarily wrong to do what is less morally safe. I think switch cases are more different from fat man cases (like above) than is usually recognized; people over-assimilate them because they primarily only look at the numbers.

* Truth: epistemic, correspondence, or deflationary? OTHER; my view of truth is basically Platonic. Correspondence would be the closest of these three.

* Vagueness: epistemic, semantic, or metaphysical? METAPHYSICAL, technically, in the sense that I think there is real vagueness in the world, although I think this is only probably the case, and some kinds of vagueness are obviously epistemic and semantic.

* Zombies: inconceivable, conceivable but not metaphysically possible, or metaphysically possible? INCONCEIVABLE; philosophical zombies are defined in terms of qualia, and I don't think there is any such thing as a quale in this sense.

 Additional Questions 

* Abortion (first trimester, no special circumstances): permissible or impermissible? IMPERMISSIBLE.

* Aesthetic experience: sui generis, pleasure, or perception? OTHER, as I don't think this is a well-formed division.

Analysis of knowledge: other analysis, justified true belief, or no analysis? OTHER; justified true belief is a theory of good opinion. I am an Aristotelian about knowledge. 

Arguments for theism (which argument is strongest?): design, cosmological, ontological, moral, or pragmatic? COSMOLOGICAL.

* Belief or credence (which is more fundamental?): neither, credence, or belief? BELIEF, since I believe that there are beliefs, but I think credences are obviously philosophical fictions that don't exist.

* Capital punishment: permissible or impermissible? PERMISSIBLE, although there are quite a few conditions and qualifications on that.

* Causation: nonexistent, counterfactual/difference-making, primitive, or process/production? PROCESS/PRODUCTION, if I understand these options correctly, although possibly my own view would be more like common difference-making views than common production views.

Chinese room: doesn't understand or understands? DOESN'T UNDERSTAND. I think the 'understands' option confuses the Chinese room understanding with the Chinese room only being understandable in terms of what a person would understand.

Concepts: empiricism or nativism? EMPIRICISM -- I don't think we have innate concepts, because I think concepts are formed, ultimately on the basis of the senses.

* Consciousness: functionalism, eliminativism, dualism, panpsychism, or identity theory? OTHER; I'm a hylomorphist. Of these options, functionalism and dualism are the closest to right.

Continuum hypothesis (does it have a determinate truth-value?): indeterminate or determinate? DETERMINATE, although it's an area I only know very indirectly.

* Cosmological fine-tuning (what explains it?): no fine-tuning, design, multiverse, or brute fact? DESIGN, I suppose. 'Brute fact' is a dimwit's explanation (and it is an embarrassment that it beats out multiverse among philosophers), and 'no fine-tuning' is rather a baffling answer. I think multiverse interpretations are probably over-reading the mathematics, but more than that I don't think they actually explain fine-tuning itself at all, but push it back to the question of what explains all the options on the table being options on the table; that is, we've just replaced 'what explains this universe being such as to make life possible' with 'what makes the multiverse such as to make life possible', and I don't think you explain things by just replacing them with harder questions.

 * Environmental ethics: non-anthropocentric or anthropocentric? OTHER. I don't think this is a well-formed division.

Extended mind: no or yes? YES, although I think it's easy to over-interpret what this implies for other areas.

Foundations of mathematics: set-theoretic, formalism, constructivism/intuitionism, logicism, or structuralism? OTHER; I don't really know, although I suppose I lean structuralist. I think set-theoretic foundations often confuse 'foundational' with 'able to represent everything'.

* Gender categories: revise, preserve, or eliminate? OTHER. As noted above, I don't think 'gender' is a coherent class; from which it follows that I don't think there is one way 'gender categories' should be addressed.

Grounds of intentionality: phenomenal, primitive, inferential, interpretational, or causal/teleological? CAUSAL/TELEOLOGICAL. Notably, this is the only approach to intentionality that undeniably can give it a non-question-begging genus.

* Hard problem of consciousness (is there one?): yes or no? NO, since I don't believe there are qualia, but there *are* serious problems in its vicinity.

* Human genetic engineering: impermissible or permissible? OTHER; I think this is too vague to answer.

* Hume (what is his view?): skeptic or naturalist? OTHER. I think the division is based on a confusion that largely arose from changing meanings for these words. It is in most cases more accurate to call him a skeptic, though.

Immortality (would you choose it?): yes or no? YES; I don't think this is a sufficiently precise question, but the 'no' answers I've come across almost always betray an egregious lack of intellectual imagination, so I'm inclined to avoid 'no' just for avoiding the company.

* Interlevel metaphysics (which is the most useful?): grounding, supervenience, identity, or realization? OTHER; I don't think there really are 'levels' for metaphysics, in the sense of one kind of level; I think we identify levels of things for many different practical purposes.

* Justification: infinitism, reliabilism, nonreliabilist foundationalism, or coherentism? OTHER; I don't think justification is a very useful concept. But I think of these, foundationalism is the least useless, if that makes sense.

Kant (what is his view?): one world or two worlds? ONE WORLD; Kant uses language that can be interpreted in either way, but when he is being careful, he treats the noumenal as a limit concept for the phenomenal, not as a separate thing entirely, and I think the two-worlds-sounding language usually arises when he is alluding to how his position relates to those of other people.

Law: legal non-positivism or legal positivism? LEGAL NON-POSITIVISM.

Material composition: restrictivism, nihilism, or universalism? RESTRICTIVISM.

Metaontology: anti-realism, deflationary realism, or heavyweight realism? HEAVYWEIGHT REALISM.

* Method in history of philosophy (which do you prefer?): contextual/historicist or analytic/rational reconstruction? OTHER; I don't think it's possible to do either without the other, although you can emphasize one of the other. My preferred emphasis is contextual/historicist; I think emphasizing the analytic/rational-reconstruction side, while extremely useful sometimes, is a more perilous emphasis than is usually recognized.

* Method in political philosophy (which do you prefer?): ideal theory or non-ideal theory? OTHER; I don't think it makes sense to prefer one over the other when dealing with something practical like political systems.

Mind uploading (brain replaced by digital emulation): survival or death? OTHER; I don't think we know enough about what this would even be, but based on what we do know, the more plausible option is death.

Moral principles: moral particularism or moral generalism? MORAL GENERALISM, although there are particular contexts that are particularist. Those all presuppose a generalist framework, however.

* Morality: non-naturalism, constructivism, expressivism, naturalist realism, or error theory? OTHER, technically, although depending on the context, I think would usually register either as non-naturalist or naturalist realist. I think there are particular regions of morality that are correctly accounted for by each of these theories. Error theory applied to the *whole* of morality I regard as utterly moronic; I think general expressivism is only possibly by extensive equivocation; and I've never come across a plausible constructivism for the whole domain of morality -- I think the obstacles to completing such a theory are perhaps insurmountable.

* Normative concepts (which is most fundamental?): ought, reasons, value, or fit? FIT, technically, is the most fundamental, although in practice reasons are much more important.

Other minds (for which groups are some members conscious?) : adult humans, cats, fish, flies, worms, plants, particles, newborn babies, current AI systems, future AI systems? ADULT HUMANS, CATS, FISH, FLIES, WORMS, NEWBORN BABIES. I don't think it's obviously impossible for there to be a conscious plant, although I don't think the word 'conscious' stretches that far for any plants we know, and it might not be actually possible, and the same thing for AI systems. I don't know what it would mean for a particle to be conscious; I don't think there's any evidence for panpsychism that would not be better explained by some other position.

Ought implies can: no or yes? YES, but there are many different oughts and many different cans implied by them.

Philosophical knowledge (is there any?): none, a little, or a lot? A LOT, but in fairness, I think all knowledge is philosophical knowledge.

Plato (what is his view?): knowledge only of forms or knowledge also of concrete things? KNOWLEDGE ONLY OF FORMS, technically, although, I think it's not quite correct to oppose forms and concrete things in Plato.

* Politics: capitalism or socialism? OTHER, although I think of the two, moderate capitalism has always shown itself to be more effective and feasible than even moderate socialism, and I think socialist aberrations more easily become horrifying than capitalist aberrations. 

Possible worlds: concrete, abstract, or nonexistent? ABSTRACT; possible worlds are logical objects related to lists of  truth-value-assigned propositions.

Practical reason: Kantian, Humean, or Aristotelian? ARISTOTELIAN. I think Kantianism is less wrong than Humeanism.

* Principle of sufficient reason: false or true? TRUE, in the sense that I think several of the many things that get called 'principle of sufficient reason' are true; I'm inclined to think that most of these principles of sufficient reason are not fundamental principles.

Properties: transcendent universals, immanent universals, nonexistent, tropes, or classes? IMMANENT UNIVERSALS.

* Propositional attitudes: representational, phenomenal, nonexistent, or dispositional? DISPOSITIONAL. 

* Propositions: structured entities, nonexistent, acts, sets, or simple entities? ACT, technically, although I think 'proposition' is equivocal, sometimes meaning an act, and sometimes meaning the structured being of reason produced by the act; it's just that the structured entity is, so to speak, part of the act, so it is more accurate to think of them as acts.

Quantum mechanics: hidden-variables, epistemic, many-worlds, or collapse? OTHER; I am not sufficiently familiar with quantum mechanics to do anything but have a vague opinion, but frankly, I'm pretty sure that none of these will turn out to be correct. The question of importance is, which will turn out to be less wrong? On that point I am partial to hidden-variables views, without really being committed to them.

* Race categories: revise, eliminate, or preserve? OTHER; I think it very much matters about the context, and not all racial categories are particularly interesting or useful. But race does have some relevance both to medicine and to moral community, and therefore I don't think a flat eliminativism is reasonable or even possible.

Rational disagreement (can two people with the same evidence rationally disagree?): non-permissivism or permissivism? PERMISSIVISM.

* Response to external-world skepticism (which is strongest?): semantic externalist, pragmatic, contextualist, dogmatist, abductive, or epistemic externalist? DOGMATIST; I think it depends on the kind of external-world skepticism, i.e., the reasons for it, and all of these are good responses in some contexts, but in fact on this point we can without any real worries take the least cautious path any time we want.

Semantic content (which expressions are context-dependent?): minimalism (no more than a few), radical contextualism (most or all) , or moderate contextualism (intermediate)? MODERATE CONTEXTUALISM, although I'm not sure that people are often as careful as they think in what they call 'context-dependent'.

* Sleeping beauty (woken once if heads, woken twice if tails, credence in heads on waking?): one-half or one-third? OTHER; as noted above, credences are philosophical fictions that don't exist, so you can assign to your 'credence' whatever number you please.

Spacetime: substantivalism or relationism? RELATIONISM.

* Statue and lump: one thing or two things? ONE THING, but I'm a hylomorphist, so some would accuse me of saying there are two things.

* Temporal ontology: presentism, growing block, or eternalism? OTHER; none of these are correct as ontology. Time is the measure of a change by another change; these three are just metaphors for how we are using the measurements.

Theory of reference: causal, deflationary, or descriptive? CAUSAL. I think deflationists on this point are kidding themselves in thinking that they have an actually substantive position; deflationists about reference are the idiots who think they've answered the question if they give you a notation or procedure without explaining how or when it is to be used.

Time travel: metaphysically impossible or metaphysically possible? METAPHYSICALLY POSSIBLE, although, again, this is because I have the Aristotelian view that time is actually just a measurement, so time-travel is just peculiarity in what measurements you are getting -- in particular, whether you end up getting measurements that require modular arithmetic rather than normal arithmetic.

True contradictions: possible but non-actual, impossible, or actual? IMPOSSIBLE, by definition. The dialetheist is equivocating between two different uses of 'true'.

* Units of selection: genes or organisms? OTHER; anything is a unit of selection that admits of iterative variation whose proportions in a population vary across time due to causal factors in the environment. That includes genes, organisms, populations, and probably a lot more.

Values in science (is ideal scientific reasoning necessarily sensitive or insensitive to non-epistemic values?): necessarily value-laden, can be either, or necessarily value-free? NECESSARILY VALUE-LADEN.

Well-being: hedonism/experientialism, desire satisfaction, or objective list? OBJECTIVE LIST, although 'objective list' is a horrible and misleading name for it.

Wittgenstein (which do you prefer?): early or late? LATE, although that's mostly because I think late Wittgenstein is less obnoxious.


ADDED LATER: I originally intended to mark the ones where I am an oddball, but I forgot. I have added an * before each one where my view is different from the majority as found in the survey results.