Counterexamples and Common Sense: When (Not) to Tollens a Ponens

Analysis 80 (3):544-558 (2020)
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Most ordinary folks think that there are ordinary objects such as trees and frogs. They do not think there are extraordinary objects such as the mereological sum of trees and frogs, as the permissivist does. Nor do they deny the existence of ordinary composite objects such as tables, as the eliminativist does. In his recent book, Objects: Nothing Out of the Ordinary, Korman positions himself alongside ordinary folk. He deftly defends the common sense view of ordinary objects, and argues against the permissivist and eliminativist. One of the ways he does this is by launching what he calls ‘arguments from counterexample’. In this paper, I focus on the dialectical effectiveness of such arguments generally. I discuss whether and how we might sometimes be justified in using arguments from counterexample and commonsense in philosophical debate, even if they appear to be (or are) question-begging. I conclude that, given some of Korman’s other commitments, there is little reason for his opponents to take his arguments from counterexample seriously.
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Archival date: 2021-10-11
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