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Michael J. Shaffer [54]Michael John Shaffer [2]
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Michael Shaffer
Gustavus Adolphus College
  1.  91
    Can Knowledge Really Be Non-Factive?Michael J. Shaffer - 2021 - Logos and Episteme: An International Journal of Epistemology 12 (2):215-226.
    This paper contains a critical examination of the prospects for analyses of knowledge that weaken the factivity condition such that knowledge implies approximate truth.
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  2. Van Fraassen’s Best of a Bad Lot Objection, IBE and Rationality.Michael J. Shaffer - 2021 - Logique Et Analyse 255:267-273.
    Van Fraassen’s (1989) infamous best of a bad lot objection is widely taken to be the most serious problem that afflicts theories of inference to the best explanation (IBE), for it alleges to show that we should not accept the conclusion of any case of such reasoning as it actually proceeds. Moreover, this is supposed to be the case irrespective of the details of the particular criteria used to select best explanations. The best of a bad lot objection is predicated (...)
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  3. Unification and the Myth of Purely Reductive Understanding.Michael J. Shaffer - 2020 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 27:142-168.
    In this paper significant challenges are raised with respect to the view that explanation essentially involves unification. These objections are raised specifically with respect to the well-known versions of unificationism developed and defended by Michael Friedman and Philip Kitcher. The objections involve the explanatory regress argument and the concepts of reduction and scientific understanding. Essentially, the contention made here is that these versions of unificationism wrongly assume that reduction secures understanding.
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  4. The Availability Heuristic and Inference to the Best Explanation.Michael J. Shaffer - 2019 - Logos and Episteme 10 (4):409-432.
    This paper shows how the availability heuristic can be used to justify inference to the best explanation in such a way that van Fraassen's infamous "best of a bad lot" objection can be adroitly avoided. With this end in mind, a dynamic and contextual version of the erotetic model of explanation sufficient to ground this response is presented and defended.
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  5. Approximate Truth, Quasi-Factivity, and Evidence.Michael J. Shaffer - 2015 - Acta Analytica 30 (3):249-266.
    The main question addressed in this paper is whether some false sentences can constitute evidence for the truth of other propositions. In this paper it is argued that there are good reasons to suspect that at least some false propositions can constitute evidence for the truth of certain other contingent propositions. The paper also introduces a novel condition concerning propositions that constitute evidence that explains a ubiquitous evidential practice and it contains a defense of a particular condition concerning the possession (...)
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  6.  78
    Epistemic Luck and Knowledge.Michael J. Shaffer - 2022 - Acta Analytica 37 (1):1-6.
    This is an editorial introduction to a special issue of Acta Analytica on epistemic luck.
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  7.  54
    Safety, Evidence, and Epistemic Luck.Michael J. Shaffer - 2022 - Acta Analytica 37 (1):121-134.
    This paper critically explores Timothy Williamson’s view of evidence, and it does so in light of the problem of epistemic luck. Williamson’s view of evidence is, of course, a crucially important aspect of his novel and influential “knowledge-first” epistemological project. Notoriously, one crucial thesis of this project is that one’s evidence is equivalent to what one knows. This has come to be known as the E = K thesis. This paper specifically addresses Williamson’s knowledge-first epistemology and the E = K (...)
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  8.  43
    Cognitive Biases and the Predictable Perils of the Patient‐Centric Free‐Market Model of Medicine.Michael J. Shaffer - forthcoming - Metaphilosophy.
    This paper addresses the recent rise of the use of alternative medicine in Western countries and it offers a novel explanation of that phenomenon in terms of cognitive and economic factors related to the free-market and patient-centric approach to medicine that is currently in place in those countries, in contrast to some alternative explanations of this phenomenon. Moreover, the paper addresses this troubling trend in terms of the serious harms associated with the use of alternative medical modalities. The explanatory theory (...)
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  9.  51
    An Argument for the Safety Condition on Knowledge.Michael J. Shaffer - 2017 - Logos and Episteme 8 (4):517-520.
    This paper introduces a new argument for the safety condition on knowledge. It is based on the contention that the rejection of safety entails the rejection of the factivity condition on knowledge. But, since we should maintain factivity, we should endorse safery.
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  10.  40
    Deontic Logic, Weakening and Decisions Concerning Disjunctive Obligations.Michael J. Shaffer - 2022 - Logos and Episteme 13 (1):93-102.
    This paper introduces two new paradoxes for standard deontic logic (SDL). They are importantly related to, but distinct from Ross' paradox. These two new paradoxes for SDL are the simple weakening paradox and the complex weakening paradox. Both of these paradoxes arise in virtue of the underlaying logic of SDL and are consequences of the fact that SDL incorporates the principle known as weakening. These two paradoxes then show that SDL has counter-intuitive implications related to disjunctive obligations that arise in (...)
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  11. Reichenbach, Russell and the Metaphysics of Induction.Michael J. Shaffer - 2019 - Argumenta 8:161-181.
    Hans Reichenbach’s pragmatic treatment of the problem of induction in his later works on inductive inference was, and still is, of great interest. However, it has been dismissed as a pseudo-solution and it has been regarded as problematically obscure. This is, in large part, due to the difficulty in understanding exactly what Reichenbach’s solution is supposed to amount to, especially as it appears to offer no response to the inductive skeptic. For entirely different reasons, the significance of Bertrand Russell’s classic (...)
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  12.  56
    Not-Exact-Truths, Pragmatic Encroachment, and the Epistemic Norm of Practical Reasoning.Michael J. Shaffer - 2012 - Logos and Episteme 3 (2):239-259.
    Recently a number of variously motivated epistemologists have argued that knowledge is closely tied to practical matters. On the one hand, radical pragmatic encroachment is the view that facts about whether an agent has knowledge depend on practical factors and this is coupled to the view that there is an important connection between knowledge and action. On the other hand, one can argue for the less radical thesis only that there is an important connection between knowledge and practical reasoning. So, (...)
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  13. Explaining Evidence Denial as Motivated Pragmatically Rational Epistemic Irrationality.Michael J. Shaffer - 2019 - Metaphilosophy 50 (4):563-579.
    This paper introduces a model for evidence denial that explains this behavior as a manifestation of rationality and it is based on the contention that social values (measurable as utilities) often underwrite these sorts of responses. Moreover, it is contended that the value associated with group membership in particular can override epistemic reason when the expected utility of a belief or belief system is great. However, it is also true that it appears to be the case that it is still (...)
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  14. Rescuing the Assertability of Measurement Reports.Michael J. Shaffer - 2019 - Acta Analytica 34 (1):39-51.
    It is wholly uncontroversial that measurements-or, more properly, propositions that are measurement reports-are often paradigmatically good cases of propositions that serve the function of evidence. In normal cases it is also obvious that stating such a report is an utterly pedestrian case of successful assertion. So, for example, there is nothing controversial about the following claims: (1) that a proposition to the effect that a particular thermometer reads 104C when properly used to determine the temperature of a particular patient is (...)
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  15. Folk Judgments About Conditional Excluded Middle.Michael J. Shaffer & James Beebe - 2019 - In Andrew Aberdein & Matthew Inglis (eds.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 251-276.
    In this chapter we consider three philosophical perspectives (including those of Stalnaker and Lewis) on the question of whether and how the principle of conditional excluded middle should figure in the logic and semantics of counterfactuals. We articulate and defend a third view that is patterned after belief revision theories offered in other areas of logic and philosophy. Unlike Lewis’ view, the belief revision perspective does not reject conditional excluded middle, and unlike Stalnaker’s, it does not embrace supervaluationism. We adduce (...)
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  16. Epistemic Paradox and the Logic of Acceptance.Michael J. Shaffer - 2013 - Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 25:337-353.
    Paradoxes have played an important role both in philosophy and in mathematics and paradox resolution is an important topic in both fields. Paradox resolution is deeply important because if such resolution cannot be achieved, we are threatened with the charge of debilitating irrationality. This is supposed to be the case for the following reason. Paradoxes consist of jointly contradictory sets of statements that are individually plausible or believable. These facts about paradoxes then give rise to a deeply troubling epistemic problem. (...)
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  17. The Constitutive A Priori and Epistemic Justification.Michael J. Shaffer - 2011 - In Michael J. Shaffer & Michael Veber (eds.), What Place for the A Priori? Open Court. pp. 193.
    In this paper I argue that Michael Friedman's conception of the contitutive a priori faces two serious problems. These two problems show that the view collapses into a form of conventionalism.
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  18. Bayesian Confirmation of Theories That Incorporate Idealizations.Michael J. Shaffer - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (1):36-52.
    Following Nancy Cartwright and others, I suggest that most (if not all) theories incorporate, or depend on, one or more idealizing assumptions. I then argue that such theories ought to be regimented as counterfactuals, the antecedents of which are simplifying assumptions. If this account of the logic form of theories is granted, then a serious problem arises for Bayesians concerning the prior probabilities of theories that have counterfactual form. If no such probabilities can be assigned, the the posterior probabilities will (...)
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  19. A Logical Hole in the Chinese Room.Michael John Shaffer - 2009 - Minds and Machines 19 (2):229-235.
    Searle’s Chinese Room Argument (CRA) has been the object of great interest in the philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence and cognitive science since its initial presentation in ‘Minds, Brains and Programs’ in 1980. It is by no means an overstatement to assert that it has been a main focus of attention for philosophers and computer scientists of many stripes. It is then especially interesting to note that relatively little has been said about the detailed logic of the argument, whatever significance (...)
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  20. E Does Not Equal K.Michael J. Shaffer - 2013 - The Reasoner 7:30-31.
    This paper challenges Williamson's "E = K" thesis on the basis of evidential practice. The main point is that most evidence is only approximately true and so cannot be known if knowledge is factive.
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  21. Doxastic Voluntarism, Epistemic Deontology and Belief-Contravening Commitments.Michael J. Shaffer - 2013 - American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (1):73-82.
    Defenders of doxastic voluntarism accept that we can voluntarily commit ourselves to propositions, including belief-contravening propositions. Thus, defenders of doxastic voluntarism allow that we can choose to believe propositions that are negatively implicated by our evidence. In this paper it is argued that the conjunction of epistemic deontology and doxastic voluntarism as it applies to ordinary cases of belief-contravening propositional commitments is incompatible with evidentialism. In this paper ED and DV will be assumed and this negative result will be used (...)
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  22.  57
    Moorean Sentences and the Norm of Assertion.Michael J. Shaffer - 2012 - Logos and Episteme 3 (4):653-658.
    In this paper Timothy Williamson’s argument that the knowledge norm of assertion is the best explanation of the unassertability of Morrean sentences is challenged and an alternative account of the norm of assertion is defended.
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  23. Grounding Reichenbach’s Pragmatic Vindication of Induction.Michael J. Shaffer - 2017 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 11 (1):43-55.
    This paper has three interdependent aims. The first is to make Reichenbach’s views on induction and probabilities clearer, especially as they pertain to his pragmatic justification of induction. The second aim is to show how his view of pragmatic justification arises out of his commitment to extensional empiricism and moots the possibility of a non-pragmatic justification of induction. Finally, and most importantly, a formal decision-theoretic account of Reichenbach’s pragmatic justification is offered in terms both of the minimax principle and the (...)
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  24.  37
    Three Problematic Theories of Conditional Acceptance.Michael J. Shaffer - 2011 - Logos and Episteme 2 (1):117-125.
    In this paper it is argued that three of the most prominent theories of conditional acceptance face very serious problems. David Lewis' concept of imaging, the Ramsey test and Jonathan Bennett's recent hybrid view all face viscious regresses, or they either employ unanalyzed components or depend upon an implausibly strong version of doxastic voluntarism.
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  25. Decision Theory, Intelligent Planning and Counterfactuals.Michael John Shaffer - 2008 - Minds and Machines 19 (1):61-92.
    The ontology of decision theory has been subject to considerable debate in the past, and discussion of just how we ought to view decision problems has revealed more than one interesting problem, as well as suggested some novel modifications of classical decision theory. In this paper it will be argued that Bayesian, or evidential, decision-theoretic characterizations of decision situations fail to adequately account for knowledge concerning the causal connections between acts, states, and outcomes in decision situations, and so they are (...)
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  26. Idealization, Counterfactuals and the Correspondence Principle.Michael J. Shaffer - 2008 - In Jerzy Brzezinski, Andrzej Klawiter, Theo A. F. Kuipers, Krzysztof Lastowski, Katarzyna Paprzycka & Piotr Przybysz (eds.), The Courage of Doing Philosophy: Essays Presented to Leszek Nowak. Rodopi.
    In a recent revision (chapter 4 of Nowakowa and Nowak 2000) of an older article Leszek Nowak (1992) has attempted to rebut Niiniluoto’s 1990 critical suggestion that proponents of the Poznań idealizational approach to the sciences have committed a rather elementary logical error in the formal machinery that they advocate for use in the analysis of scientific methodology. In this paper I criticize Nowak’s responses to Niiniluoto’s suggestion, and, subsequently, work out some of the consequences of that criticism for understanding (...)
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  27.  73
    Coherence, Justification, and the AGM Theory of Belief Revision.Michael J. Shaffer - 2002 - In Yves Bouchard (ed.), Perspectives on Coherentism. Editions du Scribe. pp. 139--160.
    In a recent article, Peter Gärdenfors (1992) has suggested that the AGM (Alchourrón, Gärdenfors, and Makinson) theory of belief revision can be given an epistemic basis by interpreting the revision postulates of that theory in terms of a version of the coherence theory of justification. To accomplish this goal Gärdenfors suggests that the AGM revision postulates concerning the conservative nature of belief revision can be interpreted in terms of a concept of epistemic entrenchment and that there are good empirical reasons (...)
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  28.  46
    Safety and the Preface Paradox.Michael J. Shaffer - 2018 - Logos and Episteme 9 (2):215-219.
    In the preface paradox the posited author is supposed to know both that every sentence in a book is true and that not every sentence in that book is true. But, this result is paradoxically contradictory. The paradoxicality exhibited in such cases arises chiefly out of the recognition that large-scale and difficult tasks like verifying the truth of large sets of sentences typically involve errors even given our best efforts to be epistemically diligent. This paper introduces an argument designed to (...)
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  29. Taste, Gastronomic Expertise and Objectivity.Michael J. Shaffer - 2007 - In Fritz Allhoff & David Monroe (eds.), Food & Philosophy: Eat, Think, and Be Merry. Blackwell.
    In this paper I argue that the best explanation of expertise about taste is that such alleged experts are simply more eloquent in describing the taste experiences that they have than are ordinary tasters.
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  30. A Thoroughly Modern Wager.Michael J. Shaffer - 2017 - Logos and Episteme 8 (2):207-231.
    This paper presents a corrected version of Pascal's wager that makes it consonant with modern decision theory. The corrected wager shows that not committing to God's existence is the rational choice.
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  31. Bayesianism, Convergence and Social Epistemology.Michael J. Shaffer - 2008 - Episteme 5 (2):pp. 203-219.
    Following the standard practice in sociology, cultural anthropology and history, sociologists, historians of science and some philosophers of science define scientific communities as groups with shared beliefs, values and practices. In this paper it is argued that in real cases the beliefs of the members of such communities often vary significantly in important ways. This has rather dire implications for the convergence defense against the charge of the excessive subjectivity of subjective Bayesianism because that defense requires that communities of Bayesian (...)
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  32. Some Epistemological Concerns About Dissociative Identity Disorder and Diagnostic Practices in Psychology.Michael J. Shaffer & Jeffery Oakley - 2005 - Philosophical Psychology 18 (1):1-29.
    In this paper we argue that dissociative identity disorder (DID) is best interpreted as a causal model of a (possible) post-traumatic psychological process, as a mechanical model of an abnormal psychological condition. From this perspective we examine and criticize the evidential status of DID, and we demonstrate that there is really no good reason to believe that anyone has ever suffered from DID so understood. This is so because the proponents of DID violate basic methodological principles of good causal modeling. (...)
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  33. Reflection, Conditionalization and Indeterminacy About the Future.Michael J. Shaffer - 2014 - The Reasoner 8:65-66.
    This paper shows that any view of future contingent claims that treats such claims as having indeterminate truth values or as simply being false implies probabilistic irrationality. This is because such views of the future imply violations of reflection, special reflection and conditionalization.
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  34.  81
    A Paradox for Possible World Semantics.Michael J. Shaffer & Jeremy Morris - 2006 - Logique Et Analyse 49 (195):307-317.
    The development of possible worlds semantics for modal claims has led to a more general application of that theory as a complete semantics for various formal and natural languages, and this view is widely held to be an adequate (philosophical) interpretation of the model theory for such languages. We argue here that this view generates a self-referential inconsistency that indicates either the falsity or the incompleteness of PWS.
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  35. Lakatos’ Quasi-Empiricism in the Philosophy of Mathematics.Michael J. Shaffer - 2015 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 9 (2):71-80.
    Imre Lakatos' views on the philosophy of mathematics are important and they have often been underappreciated. The most obvious lacuna in this respect is the lack of detailed discussion and analysis of his 1976a paper and its implications for the methodology of mathematics, particularly its implications with respect to argumentation and the matter of how truths are established in mathematics. The most important themes that run through his work on the philosophy of mathematics and which culminate in the 1976a paper (...)
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  36. Safety, the Preface Paradox and Possible Worlds Semantics.Michael J. Shaffer - 2019 - Axiomathes 29 (4):347-361.
    This paper contains an argument to the effect that possible worlds semantics renders semantic knowledge impossible, no matter what ontological interpretation is given to possible worlds. The essential contention made is that possible worlds semantic knowledge is unsafe and this is shown by a parallel with the preface paradox.
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  37. The Problem of Necessary and Sufficient Conditions and Conceptual Analysis.Michael J. Shaffer - 2015 - Metaphilosophy 46 (4-5):555-563.
    In this article the standard philosophical method involving intuition-driven conceptual analysis is challenged in a new way. This orthodox approach to philosophy takes analysanda to be the specifications of the content of concepts in the form of sets of necessary and sufficient conditions. Here it is argued that there is no adequate account of what necessary and sufficient conditions are. So, the targets of applications of the standard philosophical method so understood are not sufficiently well understood for this method to (...)
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  38. Quine and the Incoherence of the Indispensability Argument.Michael J. Shaffer - 2019 - Logos and Episteme 10 (2):207-213.
    It is an under-appreciated fact that Quine's rejection of the analytic/synthetic distinction, when coupled with some other plausible and related views, implies that there are serious difficulties in demarcating empirical theories from pure mathematical theories within the Quinean framework. This is a serious problem because there seems to be a principled difference between the two disciplines that cannot apparently be captured in the orthodox Quienan framework. For the purpose of simplicity let us call this Quine's problem of demarcation. In this (...)
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  39. Foley’s Threshold View of Belief and the Safety Condition on Knowledge.Michael J. Shaffer - 2018 - Metaphilosophy 49 (4):589-594.
    This paper introduces a new argument against Richard Foley’s threshold view of belief. His view is based on the Lockean Thesis (LT) and the Rational Threshold Thesis (RTT). The argument introduced here shows that the views derived from the LT and the RTT violate the safety condition on knowledge in way that threatens the LT and/or the RTT.
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  40. What If Bizet and Verdi Had Been Compatriots?Michael J. Shaffer - 2016 - Logos and Episteme 7 (1):55-73.
    Stalnaker argued that conditional excluded middle should be included in the principles that govern counterfactuals on the basis that intuitions support that principle. This is because there are pairs of competing counterfactuals that appear to be equally acceptable. In doing so, he was forced to introduced semantic vagueness into his system of counterfactuals. In this paper it is argued that there is a simpler and purely epistemic explanation of these cases that avoids the need for introducing semantic vagueness into the (...)
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  41.  90
    The Ramsey Principle and The Principle of Informational Equilibrium.Michael J. Shaffer - 2011 - The Reasoner 5 (3):37-39.
    This paper challenges the soundness of an argument given in support of a Ramseyan analysis of belief defended by Dokic and Engel in their 2001 book.
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  42. Defusing the Miners Paradox.Michael J. Shaffer - 2018 - Filosofiska Notiser 5:57-67.
    This paper presents a case for the claim that the infamous miners paradox is not a paradox. This contention is based on some important observations about the nature of ignorance with respect to both disjunctions and conditional obligations and their modal features. The gist of the argument is that given the uncertainty about the location of the miners in the story and the nature of obligations, the apparent obligation to block either mine shaft is cancelled.
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  43. “Filling in”, Thought Experiments and Intuitions.Michael J. Shaffer - 2017 - Episteme 14 (2):255-262.
    Recently Timothy Williamson (2007) has argued that characterizations of the standard (i.e. intuition-based) philosophical practice of philosophical analysis are misguided because of the erroneous manner in which this practice has been understood. In doing so he implies that experimental critiques of the reliability of intuition are based on this misunderstanding of philosophical methodology and so have little or no bearing on actual philosophical practice or results. His main point is that the orthodox understanding of philosophical methodology is incorrect in that (...)
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  44.  92
    The Epistemic Inadequacy of Ersatzer Possible World Semantics.Michael J. Shaffer & Jeremy Morris - 2010 - Logique Et Analyse 53:61-76.
    In this paper it is argued that the conjunction of linguistic ersatzism, the ontologically deflationary view that possible worlds are maximal and consistent sets of sentences, and possible world semantics, the view that the meaning of a sentence is the set of possible worlds at which it is true, implies that no actual speaker can effectively use virtually any language to successfully communicate information. This result is based on complexity issues that relate to our finite computational ability to deal with (...)
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  45. Internalism, Evidentialism and Appeals to Expert Knowledge.Michael J. Shaffer - 2017 - Logos and Episteme 8 (3):291-305.
    Given the sheer vastness of the totality of contemporary human knowledge and our individual epistemic finitude it is commonplace for those of us who lack knowledge with respect to some proposition(s) to appeal to experts (those who do have knowledge with respect to that proposition(s)) as an epistemic resource. Of course, much ink has been spilled on this issue and so concern here will be very narrowly focused on testimony in the context of epistemological views that incorporate evidentialism and internalism, (...)
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  46. Max Plank’s Philosophy and Physics: An Introduction to The Philosophy of Physics.Michael J. Shaffer - 2019 - In The Philosophy of Physics. Montreal: Minkowski Press. pp. 1-5.
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  47. Might/Would Duality and The Probabilities of Counterfactuals.Michael J. Shaffer - 2018 - Logique and Analyse 242:119-124.
    In this paper it is shown that Lewis' MWD (might/would duality) and imaging principles lead to wildly implausible probability assignments for would counterfactuals.
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  48. Some Recent Existential Appeals to Mathematical Experience.Michael J. Shaffer - 2006 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 10 (2):143-170.
    Some recent work by philosophers of mathematics has been aimed at showing that our knowledge of the existence of at least some mathematical objects and/or sets can be epistemically grounded by appealing to perceptual experience. The sensory capacity that they refer to in doing so is the ability to perceive numbers, mathematical properties and/or sets. The chief defense of this view as it applies to the perception of sets is found in Penelope Maddy’s Realism in Mathematics, but a number of (...)
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  49. Probability and Tempered Modal Eliminativism.Michael J. Shaffer - 2004 - History and Philosophy of Logic 25 (4):305-318.
    In this paper the strategy for the eliminative reduction of the alethic modalities suggested by John Venn is outlined and it is shown to anticipate certain related contemporary empiricistic and nominalistic projects. Venn attempted to reduce the alethic modalities to probabilities, and thus suggested a promising solution to the nagging issue of the inclusion of modal statements in empiricistic philosophical systems. However, despite the promise that this suggestion held for laying the ‘ghost of modality’ to rest, this general approach, tempered (...)
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  50.  68
    Theories of Violence and the Explanation of Ultra-Violent Behavior.Michael J. Shaffer & Patricia Turrisi - 2008 - In T. Levin (ed.), Violence: Mercurial Gestalt.
    Theorists in various scientific disciplines offer radically different accounts of the origin of violent behavior in humans, but it is not clear how the study of violence is to be scientifically grounded. This problem is made more complicated because both what sorts of acts constitute violence and what needs to be appealed to in explaining violence differs according to social scientists, biologists, anthropologists and neurophysiologists, and this generates serious problems with respect to even attempting to ascertain the differential bona fides (...)
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