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Profile: Nicholas Shackel (Cardiff University, Oxford University)
  1. The Vacuity of Postmodernist Methodology.Nicholas Shackel - 2005 - Metaphilosophy 36 (3):295-320.
    Many of the philosophical doctrines purveyed by postmodernists have been roundly refuted, yet people continue to be taken in by the dishonest devices used in proselytizing for postmodernism. I exhibit, name, and analyse five favourite rhetorical manoeuvres: Troll's Truisms, Motte and Bailey Doctrines, Equivocating Fulcra, the Postmodernist Fox Trot, and Rankly Relativising Fields. Anyone familiar with postmodernist writing will recognise their pervasive hold on the dialectic of postmodernism and come to judge that dialectic as it ought to be judged.
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  2. Methodological Issues in the Neuroscience of Moral Judgement.Guy Kahane & Nicholas Shackel - 2010 - Mind and Language 25 (5):561-582.
    Neuroscience and psychology have recently turned their attention to the study of the subpersonal underpinnings of moral judgment. In this article we critically examine an influential strand of research originating in Greene's neuroimaging studies of ‘utilitarian’ and ‘non-utilitarian’ moral judgement. We argue that given that the explananda of this research are specific personal-level states—moral judgments with certain propositional contents—its methodology has to be sensitive to criteria for ascribing states with such contents to subjects. We argue that current research has often (...)
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  3. Bertrand's Paradox and the Principle of Indifference.Nicholas Shackel - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (2):150-175.
    The principle of indifference is supposed to suffice for the rational assignation of probabilities to possibilities. Bertrand advances a probability problem, now known as his paradox, to which the principle is supposed to apply; yet, just because the problem is ill‐posed in a technical sense, applying it leads to a contradiction. Examining an ambiguity in the notion of an ill‐posed problem shows that there are precisely two strategies for resolving the paradox: the distinction strategy and the well‐posing strategy. The main (...)
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  4. Do Abnormal Responses Show Utilitarian Bias?Nicholas Shackel & Guy Kahane - 2008 - Nature 452:E5.
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  5. The Nought Belief Paradox.Nicholas Shackel - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (3):523-529.
    A paradox is presented that the poses new problems for both the truth norm and the knowledge norm of belief.
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  6. Sophism and Pragmatism.Nicholas Shackel - 2010 - Logique Et Analyse 53 (210):131-149.
    A traditional pastime of philosophers is the analysis of rhetoric and the repudiation of sophistry. Nevertheless, some of what philosophers call sophistry might rather be a subtle repudiation of the traditional principles of rationality. In this paper I start by granting the Sophist his repudiation and outline some of the obstacles to settling the dispute between Sophists and Rationalists. I then suggest that we should distinguish pragmatic Sophism from nihilistic Sophism. In the hope of driving a wedge between these two (...)
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  7. The Two-Envelope Paradox.Michael Clark & Nicholas Shackel - 2000 - Mind 109 (435):415--442.
    Previous claims to have resolved the two-envelope paradox have been premature. The paradoxical argument has been exposed as manifestly fallacious if there is an upper limit to the amount of money that may be put in an envelope; but the paradoxical cases which can be described if this limitation is removed do not involve mathematical error, nor can they be explained away in terms of the strangeness of infinity. Only by taking account of the partial sums of the infinite series (...)
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  8. Bangu's Random Thoughts on Bertrand's Paradox.Darrell P. Rowbottom & Nicholas Shackel - 2010 - Analysis 70 (4):689-692.
    Bangu (2010) claims that Bertrand’s paradox rests on a hitherto unrecognized assumption, which assumption is sufficiently dubious to throw the burden of proof back onto ‘objectors to [the principle of indifference]’ (2010: 31). We show that Bangu’s objection to the assumption is ill-founded and that the assumption is provably true.
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  9. Still Waiting for a Plausible Humean Theory of Reasons.Nicholas Shackel - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (3):607-633.
    In his important recent book Schroeder proposes a Humean theory of reasons that he calls hypotheticalism. His rigourous account of the weight of reasons is crucial to his theory, both as an element of the theory and constituting his defence to powerful standard objections to Humean theories of reasons. In this paper I examine that rigourous account and show it to face problems of vacuity and consonance. There are technical resources that may be brought to bear on the problem of (...)
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  10. The Normativity of Rationality.Nicholas Shackel - 2015 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 34 (2):167-189.
    Rationality appears to have some intimate relation with normativity: exactly what relation is in dispute. John Broome devotes a chapter of his recent book to rebutting the view that rationality has 'true' normativity, which he equates with the kind of normativity that I call directivity. In particular, he offers a number of arguments against derivative accounts of thenormativity of rationality. In this paper I defend my instrumentalist account from those arguments. In so doing I bring into view the grounds of (...)
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  11. Shutting Dretske's Door.Nicholas Shackel - 2006 - Erkenntnis 64 (3):393 - 401.
    Dretske proposes a theory of knowledge in terms of a theory of information, but wishes to deny that empirical knowledge settles the large question of scepticism. This leads him to deny the closure of knowledge under known entailment. In a recent paper Jäger argues that Dretske’s theory of information entails closure for knowledge, ‘at least for the kind of propositions here at issue’ (Jäger 2004:194). If Jäger is right, Dretske is seriously embarrassed and must give something up. In this paper (...)
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  12. Paradoxes of Probability.Nicholas Shackel - 2008 - In Tamas Rudas (ed.), Handbook of Probability Theory with Applications.
    We call something a paradox if it strikes us as peculiar in a certain way, if it strikes us as something that is not simply nonsense, and yet it poses some difficulty in seeing how it could make sense. When we examine paradoxes more closely, we find that for some the peculiarity is relieved and for others it intensifies. Some are peculiar because they jar with how we expect things to go, but the jarring is to do with imprecision and (...)
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  13. Pseudoscience and Idiosyncratic Theories of Rational Belief.Nicholas Shackel - 2013 - In M. Pigliucci & M. Boudry (eds.), The Philosophy of Pseudoscience. University of Chicago Press. pp. 417.
    I take pseudoscience to be a pretence at science. Pretences are innumerable, limited only by our imagination and credulity. As Stove points out, ‘numerology is actually quite as different from astrology as astrology is from astronomy’ (Stove 1991, 187). We are sure that ‘something has gone appallingly wrong’ (Stove 1991, 180) and yet ‘thoughts…can go wrong in a multiplicity of ways, none of which anyone yet understands’ (Stove 1991, 190). Often all we can do is give a careful description of (...)
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  14. Decision Theory, Symmetry and Causal Structure: Reply to Meacham and Weisberg.Michael Clark & Nicholas Shackel - 2003 - Mind 112 (448):691-701.
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  15. The Form of the Benardete Dichotomy.Nicholas Shackel - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (2):397-417.
    Benardete presents a version of Zeno's dichotomy in which an infinite sequence of gods each intends to raise a barrier iff a traveller reaches the position where they intend to raise their barrier. In this paper, I demonstrate the abstract form of the Benardete Dichotomy. I show that the diagnosis based on that form can do philosophical work not done by earlier papers rejecting Priest's version of the Benardete Dichotomy, and that the diagnosis extends to a paradox not normally classified (...)
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    An fMRI Study Measuring Analgesia Enhanced by Religion as a Belief System.Katja Wiech, Miguel Farias, Guy Kahane, Nicholas Shackel, Wiebke Tiede & Irene Tracey - 2008 - PAIN 139:467-476.
    Although religious belief is often claimed to help with physical ailments including pain, it is unclear what psychological and neural mechanisms underlie the influence of religious belief on pain. By analogy to other top-down processes of pain modulation we hypothesized that religious belief helps believers reinterpret the emotional significance of pain, leading to emotional detachment from it. Recent findings on emotion regulation support a role for the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, a region also important for driving top-down pain inhibitory circuits. (...)
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  17. Coherentism and the Symmetry of Epistemic Support.Nicholas Shackel - 2008 - Analysis 68 (3):226–234.
    In this paper I prove that holistic coherentism is logically equivalent to the conjunction of symmetry and quasi-transitivity of epistemic support and a condition on justified beliefs. On the way I defend Tom Stoneham from a criticism made by Darrell Rowbottom and prove a premiss of Stoneham’s argument to be an entailment of coherentism.
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  18. The Dr. Psycho Paradox and Newcomb's Problem.Michael Clark & Nicholas Shackel - 2006 - Erkenntnis 64 (1):85 - 100.
    Nicholas Rescher claims that rational decision theory “may leave us in the lurch”, because there are two apparently acceptable ways of applying “the standard machinery of expected-value analysis” to his Dr. Psycho paradox which recommend contradictory actions. He detects a similar contradiction in Newcomb’s problem. We consider his claims from the point of view of both Bayesian decision theory and causal decision theory. In Dr. Psycho and in Newcomb’s Problem, Rescher has used premisses about probabilities which he assumes to be (...)
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  19. Parting Smoothly?Nicholas Shackel - 2007 - Analysis 67 (4):321–324.
    In ‘How to part ways smoothly’ Hud Hudson (2007) presents ‘two temporally-continuous spatially unextended material objects that ... share all of their temporal parts up until their very last time-slice’ (2007: 156). They share their location throughout all but the last instant of their lives, at which instant they are a metre apart. Hudson claims that they part smoothly. I shall show that they don’t.
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