Paradox Lost covers ten mind-boggling philosophical paradoxes, in which seemingly compelling reasoning leads to absurd or contradictory conclusions. Paradoxes included: (1) the Liar Paradox, (2) the Sorites Paradox, (3) the Puzzle of the Self-Torturer, (4) Newcomb’s Problem, (5) the Surprise Quiz Paradox, (6) the Two Envelope Paradox, (7) the Paradoxes of the Principle of Indifference, (8) the Ravens Paradox, (9) the Shooting Room Paradox, and (10) the Puzzles of Self-Locating Belief. The book explains each paradox, exposes common mistakes in thinking about the paradox, and walks the reader through a clear, logical solution.
From ancient times, infinity has been steeped in paradox. According to one famous argument, nothing can ever move, because to move from one point to another, one must first travel half the distance, then half the remaining distance, and so on. Another puzzle asks us to imagine that a lamp that starts out off, then is turned on after half a minute, off after a quarter minute, and so on; at the end of one minute, is it on or off? Most observers think that the first of these infinite series can be completed, but the second cannot. Why? This book addresses this and many other puzzles about infinity, most of which have no generally accepted solutions. A new theory of the infinite is advanced, on which an infinite series is uncompletable when it requires something to possess an infinite natural, intensive magnitude. Along the way, the author addresses the nature of numbers, sets, geometric points, and related matters.
A foundational assumption of political philosophy is that some governments possess a moral property known as political authority. Theories of authority are meant to explain, first, why individuals are ethically obligated to obey the law under normal circumstances, and second, why agents of the state are normally ethically entitled to coerce individuals to obey. In the first part of the book, I consider several philosophical accounts that have been offered for why some states possess this peculiar moral status. I argue that none of these accounts succeed, and thus that no person or group genuinely possesses political authority. I go on to consider the psychology of authority, arguing that a series of non-rational factors explain traditional beliefs and attitudes about authority. Finally, I consider the implications for individual and governmental behavior of relinquishing the belief in authority. In the second part of the book, I confront a central assumption of most theories of authority: that a central authority structure is essential to any livable society. Against this assumption, I argue that a livable society could exist with no recognized central authority.
This book defends a form of ethical intuitionism, according to which (i) there are objective moral truths; (ii) we know some of these truths through a kind of immediate, intellectual awareness, or “intuition”; and (iii) our knowledge of moral truths gives us reasons for action independent of our desires. I confront the major objections to this theory, arguing that contrary to what has often been assumed, the theory does have the resources to explain moral disagreements and to offer a reasonable approach to resolving some of them. The major alternative theories, including subjectivism, nihilism, and reductionism, are shown to face decisive objections.
Since Descartes, one of the central questions of Western philosophy has been that of how we know that the objects we seem to perceive are real. Philosophical skeptics claim that we know no such thing. Representationalists claim that we can gain such knowledge only by inference, by showing that the hypothesis of a real world is the best explanation for the kind of sensations and mental images we experience. Both accept the doctrine of a 'veil of perception': that perception can only give us direct awareness of images or representations of objects, not the external objects themselves. In contrast, I develop a theory of perceptual awareness in which (a) perception gives us direct awareness of real objects, not mental representations, and (b) we have non-inferential knowledge of (some of) the properties of these objects. Further, I confront the four main arguments for philosophical skepticism, showing that they are powerless against this kind of theory of perceptual knowledge.