On What Philosophical Issues Have You Changed Your Mind?


Galen Barry, assistant professor of philosophy at Iona College, writes in with a question for Daily Nous readers.

He writes:

When was the last time you changed your mind on a philosophical issue? I don’t mean developed a view on something you didn’t used to have a view on. I mean endorsed one view, then rejected it for another view. What caused you to switch? Extra points given if the old view is something you defend/endorse in print.


(Art: arrows designed by Magpie Studio)

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A.D.
A.D.
1 year ago

A couple years ago, I leaned more toward the view the pro-choice view on abortion. But after reading more of Marquis, Kazcor, etc., I’ve come around to the pro-life view of abortion. That was a pretty radical change for me.Report

driftinCowboy
driftinCowboy
Reply to  A.D.
1 year ago

I’ve had the opposite shift. Can you share some titles that influenced you?Report

A.D.
A.D.
Reply to  driftinCowboy
1 year ago

For thinking that it’s immoral to kill the fetus, Kaczor’s book ‘The Ethics of Abortion’ was pivotal, as were Marquis’s standard papers on it.

As for papers on whether abortion is permissible if the fetus is a person: I confess that I’ve never found Thomson’s view (or anything like it) plausible at all, partly for it being (obviously) disanalogous, partly because I have the exact opposite intuition about the matter (of course it’s impermissible to unplug yourself from the violinist! What kind of a monster would do that?) That said, I have found Gina Schouten’s paper “Fetuses, Orphans, and a Famous Violinist” is very perceptive.

What are the major papers/books that shifted your view?Report

Prabhpal Singh
Reply to  A.D.
1 year ago

What do you take to be the obvious disanalogy between abortion and Thompson’s violinist case?

I used to think Thompson style arguments were decisive, but now I think similar reasoning can be used to argue for the moral permissibility of infanticide. If we accept that a right to life does not entail a right to occupy anothers body, why think a right to life entails rights to another’s time, effort, and resources? Infants demand such things from parents, but it appears Thompson Style reasoning means the resonsibilities of parenthood cannont be based on an infants right to life as a right to life does not entail other rights. This, I think, makes room to construct an argument for the moral permissibility of leaving infants to die, which could be morally equivalent to infanticide. If infanticide is wrong, there is a problem problem with Thompson style reasoning.Report

driftinCowboy
driftinCowboy
Reply to  A.D.
1 year ago

Well I’ve done near 0 research on this, but the line of argument in Burgess, ‘Could a Zygote Be a Human Being?’ convinced me that a zygote can’t be a human being (and so who cares). This doesn’t get you much in the way of abortion, but it was a paradigm shift for me.

Probably more importantly, I’ve just chilled out about moral questions. I’ve come to think that the answer to the question, “is it immoral?”, is not interesting, motivating, explanatory, or helpful. Nowadays I think the important question is something like, “how does it affect something we care about?” I have reasons for this shift, but I haven’t done much research to back it up.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
1 year ago

Mine are all fairly technical and blur the physics/philosophy boundary.

1) Whether understanding probability in the Everett interpretation requires a prior philosophical case that quantum branching is subjectively uncertain, or whether we can understand it in purely formal/operational terms. I argued, at length, that it does require subjective uncertainty (throughout the early 2000s, but especially in a BJPS paper c.2007); over the next couple of years I got convinced otherwise by Hilary Greaves’ and Wayne Myrvold’s formal work, and ended up developing my own formal approach, and deprioritizing the subjective-uncertainty approach, in my 2012 book.
2) Whether black hole evaporation involves information loss. In my 2012 book I was at least sympathetic to the idea that it does (contra the mainstream view in physics, but in conformity to the mainstream view in philosophy of physics). In 2016 I had the chance to properly study the mainstream physics approach to it and was convinced (and wrote a set of papers defending the physics consensus, which I described in the introduction as having ‘the zeal of the convert’!)
3) How attractive string theory is as a quantum theory of gravity. In the 1990s and 2000s I think I shared the widespread skepticism about string theory among philosophers, though I’m not sure I ever said so in print. Around 2010 I started changing my mind, partly through greater exposure to the physics but also from some arguments of Dean Rickles, notably his ‘mathematical no miracles’ argument.
4) Whether the Boltzmannian approach to statistical mechanics is preferable to the Gibbsian one. I don’t think I said so in print, but until c.2010 I endorsed the Albert/Callender/Goldstein view that it is. Serially teaching this material to a succession of very smart Oxford undergraduates made me see the weaknesses in (my reconstruction of) the arguments; engaging more with the physics then led me to see that the account of Gibbsian methods in the literature is a bit of a caricature.

The common theme of (2)-(4) is moving towards taking physics orthodoxy more seriously, and realizing that the criticisms of it in the philosophy literature often don’t fully engage with the most defensible and carefully-articulated version of that orthodoxy; trying to do those careful articulations is an increasing theme of my research.Report

Huseyin Gungor
Huseyin Gungor
Reply to  David Wallace
1 year ago

On (3) (Black hole info), what changed your mind exactly? Is it the auxiliary considerations for the gauge/gravity duality? Do you have a paper which detail your conviction on the matter?Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Huseyin Gungor
1 year ago
Patrick Lin
Reply to  David Wallace
1 year ago

Off-topic slightly, but you seem to be the right person to ask this question, David Wallace:

If you’ve seen the show on Hulu, what did you think about “Devs”? (I really liked it.)
Was all the talk about the Everett interpretation, etc. credible? Any obvious (philosophical) plot-holes? I assume they really did their homework, but I can’t tell from here…

https://www.fastcompany.com/90467067/how-the-wire-and-philosophy-helped-alex-garland-create-the-new-fx-on-hulu-series-devsReport

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Patrick Lin
1 year ago

I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet (new baby) so don’t spoil it for me!

I did correspond a bit with the showrunner (Alex Garland) and he told me that he and some of the cast had watched various of my online videos about Everett, so I’m optimistic! Report

Patrick Lin
Reply to  David Wallace
1 year ago

Would be happy to hear your thoughts when you get around to it, David, and if you’re open to sharing. (We have interests in the space but from an ethics standpoint.)

I’d guess that most/all philosophers would like the show, provided there aren’t any obvious metaphysical/philosophical errors that I’m not seeing. Would be surprised if there were not a consulting philosopher on the show, just like with “The Good Place”…

Good luck with the baby!Report

Huseyin Gungor
Huseyin Gungor
Reply to  David Wallace
1 year ago

Not gonna spoil it much, but gonna spoil it this much: your name is in the first episode (and not in the credits). 🙂Report

Rollo Burgess
Rollo Burgess
Reply to  Patrick Lin
1 year ago

Check out Scott Aaronson’s blog for an interesting post on Devs from a quantum computing expert. Report

benjamin s. yost
benjamin s. yost
1 year ago

A couple years ago, had you pushed me, I would have said I thought legitimate states had a prima facie right to unilaterally control (territorial) borders, though I would have added that legitimate states typically exercise that right in an unjust and morally impermissible fashion. Now I lean toward the view that legitimate states do not even have a prima facie right to unilaterally control borders. I find Huemer’s arguments along these lines (which are not committed to libertarianism) quite persuasive, as well as Abizadeh-style arguments from democratic equality. Report

Adam Omelianchuk
1 year ago

I believe in Aquinas’ idea of virtual presence, which I first thought was absurd (even presented a paper against it), and I am in favor of the Counterfactual Excluded Middle with respect to counterfactuals of creaturely freedoms (a la Stalnaker over Lewis) after reading Plantinga. Report

Peter Baumann
Peter Baumann
1 year ago

Until some years ago I believed (like many) that knowledge is incompatible with a certain kind of epistemic luck. I also thought that this is extremely plausible, if not obvious. Then I wrote something on the topic and arrived at the conclusion that there can be lucky knowledge after all. This was a very enjoyable experience.
This also reminds me of Francis Picabia’s remark “Notre tête est ronde pour permettre à la pensée de changer de direction”.Report

Sam Duncan
Sam Duncan
1 year ago

I used to think that the ontological argument was such obvious sophistry that it stood in little need of refutation and that if you did want refutation Kant’s argument against it was a slam dunk. I now think that Kant’s argument against it is blatantly question begging and, while something still seems fishy about the ontological argument, I’m at least open to the possibility that some version of it might be sound.
On a more specialized note: When I started graduate school I was convinced that Rawls style constructivism was not only the best interpretation of Kant’s ethics but a good general account of morality and intended to write a dissertation defending constructivist approaches in ethics in some way or other. Instead, I decided that constructivism was wrong on both counts and a fair amount of my published work has been devoted to to criticizing constructivist readings of Kant.Report

Mitchell
Mitchell
Reply to  Sam Duncan
1 year ago

I must say I started graduate school in much the same way, and I remain (still) convinced of constructivism, but probably not the Rawlsian variety, but I haven’t worked out in detail why not. What changed your mind and why? Report

Sam Duncan
Sam Duncan
Reply to  Mitchell
1 year ago

Mitchell,
I don’t have any super original or devastatingly clever arguments against constructivism. The big thing that’s swayed me from constructivism, or at least “Kantian” (I use scare quotes since I personally don’t think Kant was a constructivist) as a moral theory are just variations on Hegel’s empty formalism objection. Constructivists are wont to talk about what every rational agent must agree to but I’ve always found that those claims either make huge assumptions about what such agents as a matter of fact want or value or more often they sneak in some claim about rationality when talking about what “rational” agents must agree to. And when you get down to it those claims about rationality start to look just as metaphysically ambitious and contentious as do the sorts of realism constructivists define themselves against. So I give the point to realism since it’s at least up front about these things. Robert Stern’s book “Understanding Moral Obligation” is really good on many of these issues, though he’s less pointed than I am. I’d already come round to rejecting constructivism when I read it, but it kind of crystalized my thinking on this. Parfit’s last book was also good on this but that thing’s a doorstopper and Stern gets to the point a lot more quickly. Now I guess some very limited form of constructivism that really does limit itself to what some very circumscribed set of agents who really do have the values it assumes might be successful. But I honestly don’t see any real difference between such really reduced forms of constructivism that might be successful on those terms and plain old Mackie style error theory or Gibbard style of moral skepticism. (I’ve had its proponents explain them to me but it’s always reminded me of Vanilla Ice carefully delineating the differences between “Ice Ice Baby” and “Under Pressure”).Report

r
r
Reply to  Sam Duncan
1 year ago

As someone who still thinks the ontological argument is obvious sophistry, I’m curious about what brought you around (maybe two minds could change!)Report

Sam Duncan
Sam Duncan
Reply to  r
1 year ago

r,
I’m not sure how interested I am in changing your mind; I’m hardly a fan of the ontological argument. But I guess I would describe my situation like this: I used to think I had not just my immediate reaction that the argument was deeply fishy but also a nasty reductio argument to back that reaction up and what I thought was a good explanation of how and why the argument went wrong. The reductio was of course Gaunilo’s Island argument, but the more I dug into it the more that seemed to miss its mark. The idea of a most perfect island just doesn’t seem consistent so the argument doesn’t seem to prove its existence. The explanation was Kant’s claim that the argument assumes that existence is part of the concept of something, and existence isn’t part of the concept of anything. That started to seem suspect to me since non-existence is part of the concept of a lot of things in a lot of ways. For instance, it’s part of the concept of fictional characters like Superman and things with self-contradictory concepts like the two sided triangle. Then in the same vein I started reading Heidegger’s “The Basic Problems of Phenomenology” last year and I think he makes a very good argument there that if you assume the medieval’s concept of being the argument likely works and that Kant simply helps himself to a conception of what existence is that’s not only different from the philosophers he’s criticizing but is itself incredibly contentious. (That is that existence is defined in terms of what we can perceive.) Mind you even if that’s right that doesn’t mean that the argument works; the medieval’s concept of being is pretty darn contentious itself. Anyway at the end of the day I feel I’m still left with this deep sense that the argument is fishy if not flat out intellectually fraudulent, but lacking any good argument against it much less an account of where and how it goes wrong I’m not willing to put a lot of stock in that feeling.Report

chris buford
chris buford
1 year ago

Doxastic Voluntarism.Report

Jon Light
Jon Light
1 year ago

Does it count if I used to be pretty sure I was right, and now I’m completely sure? Or is that more like meta?Report

Patrick R
Patrick R
1 year ago

At 25, I found the idea of objective moral norms extremely implausible. At 45, I’ve come around to a kind of neo-Aristotelian view that makes moral norm claims objectively correct (or not) although relativized to the human teloi.Report

Mark van Roojen
1 year ago

I used to be a metaethical nonnaturalist. Now I’m not sure at all whether I count. Others were not sure about whether I counted before I was. I don’t know if this is changing my mind or changing my way of cutting things up. If I say that reading Parfit made me more sympathetic to naturalism it will look more like a change of mind. If I say that reading the recent debates about supervenience and grounding made me unsure of what either naturalism or non-naturalism is, it should probably look like a change in the ways I cut things up.Report

Jeremy Goodman
1 year ago

I no longer think that knowledge requires belief that is safe from error, in part because of this paper https://www.academia.edu/42038709/Counterfactual_ContaminationReport

David Mathers
David Mathers
Reply to  Jeremy Goodman
1 year ago

Does this mean you reject the Williamson anti-luminosity argument now, Jeremy? (Assuming you didn’t before?)Report

Simon Goldstein
Simon Goldstein
1 year ago

Lee Walters’ and Robbie Williams’ papers (for example https://philpapers.org/rec/WALAAF-2) convinced me that A and B implies if A, then B.Report

Huseyin Gungor
Huseyin Gungor
Reply to  Simon Goldstein
1 year ago

Even after this? https://philpapers.org/rec/AHMWOC
I would be curious what didn’t compel you about Ahmed’s argument.Report

A.S.
A.S.
1 year ago

I was a theist and a practising Muslim. The Quran convinced me that God doesn’t exist.Report

William
William
Reply to  A.S.
1 year ago

Can you explain how the falsity of the Quran dis-convinced you of theism en generale? Report

Anil Sezgin (A.S.)
Anil Sezgin (A.S.)
Reply to  William
1 year ago

It wasn’t so much the “falsity” of the Quran as its preposterousness. But, yeah, you’re right: I have other, more general reasons for my atheism.Report

eric Schliesser
eric Schliesser
1 year ago

I used to think that reliance on precautionary principles were necessary and, perhaps even best, in response to high stakes decisions under genuine uncertainty. I then read (in a book by Marieke de Goede) how natural it is that these very same principles would be used to justify abhorrent decision making in high stakes decisions under genuine uncertainty in particular to advance preemptive strategies that privilege action over more evidence. I wrote about my change of heart here: https://digressionsnimpressions.typepad.com/digressionsimpressions/2015/08/bad-news.htmlReport

Gareth Pearce
1 year ago

I suppose a few things. Not published on any of these, but I’m early PhD so that’s not to be expected.

First, I used to really like Neo-Logicism to the point that my first PhD applications were on Neo-Logicism. I read Linnebo’s book Thin Objects in a reading group during my MA. The book defends a kind of Neo-Logicism. It both gave me an greater appreciation of some of the subtleties of Neo-Logicism, but ultimately gave me the opportunity to analyse the position more deeply. By the time I’d finished the book I’d dropped Neo-Logicism. I was undecided between various Nominalist positions. Wrote my thesis on Nominalism and decided on Formalism. That sounds like an insult that I’d read a book supporting a position and that would convince me off of it. It’s certainly not intended as one! The book was very clear, which helped me understand the logical space better. It’s one of my favourite books with a conclusion I strongly disagree with.

Second, on the analysis of reasons in Meta-Ethics, I used to support something like Kearns & Star’s evidentialist position. I read more Broome and am now convinced both positions are tenable (or a version of them). I don’t know if going from “X is the answer” to “both X and Y are viable answers” counts as a change in view.

Third, I took Ladyman’s Philosophy of Physics course during my MA. In the summer before I started my MA I read Lewis’s “Quantum Ontology” to prep for that module. I was pretty anti Everett and quite liked the Bohmian stuff. I came out the other end of that course (and reading a couple of books as well- QM and Experience, for instance) changed on both of those. I was far from being an Everettian, but I could certainly see the attraction if you had some priors that I didn’t have. Similarly, I wasn’t a Bohmian any more. Again, I could see the attraction if you held views that I’m sympathetic to, but don’t outright hold. A privileged reference frame can do a lot of work in the metaphysics, without a great deal of cost, but it seems like the kind of thing that philosophers could proudly declare we’ve discovered, only to have Physics tell us to sit down in 50 years time, or so! My position by the end of that was basically “well we kind of can’t answer these questions until we have a better understanding of the relationship between QM and Relativity”. That’s unusually conservative for me.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Gareth Pearce
1 year ago

“I was far from being an Everettian, but I could certainly see the attraction if you had some priors that I didn’t have.”

Come on in: the water’s fine.Report

QED
QED
1 year ago

I can’t resist: I used to think I could find permanent employment in philosophy. Now I don’t. The now massive rejection letter literature in my email inbox supplied the initial nudge but the pandemic has demonstrated the truth of the proposition in question.Report

LJ
LJ
1 year ago

I used to think it completely obvious that there could be no practical reasons for belief. I now think it’s completely obvious that there most certainly are practical reasons for belief. Susanna Rinard’s work on this has been enormously influential on my thinking here. (I confess that when I first read one of her papers on the topic, I threw it in the trash after just 2 pages in because I thought it was so seriously superficial and naive. I then dug it back out. Turns out it was I who was superficial and naive.)
Report

Animal Symbolicum
Animal Symbolicum
1 year ago

Hegel has this thing he says about how even though the child can utter the same creed as the old man, the creed for the old man is pregnant with the significance of a lifetime.

Most of my changes of mind have been realizations of my own misunderstanding. I would think, for example, that I disagreed with a claim or theory only to realize after a lot of independent work that I had not genuinely understood what was being said and that once understood, the claim or theory was not as objectionable as I had previously thought.

The most common change of mind for me, in other words, is not an exchange of truth value so much as a deeper appreciation of the truth bearer.

Report

Douglas W. Portmore
1 year ago

I’ve changed my mind on several fronts. First, I used to be an act utilitarian but changed my mind while working on my dissertation on consequentializing. Originally, the plan was to use consequentializing to get everyone into the consequentialist camp and then convince them that an agent-relative ranking of outcomes is indefensible. But, as it turned out, I was unable to find any good reason for rejecting an agent-relative ranking of outcomes. Second, I used to be an ethical and metaphysical naturalist but was convinced by Tim Scanlon’s writings and by discussion with my (at the time) new colleague Peter de Marneffe that my reasons for accepting metaphysical naturalism were bad. Third, I used to be possibilist (and I defended — or at asserted — that position in a paper in Noûs) but I was convinced by Richard Yetter Chappell (on his blog) that this position is indefensible. I now reject both possibilism and actualism and accept what I call rationalist maximalism. Report

Curtis Franks
Curtis Franks
1 year ago

When I was in college I thought that Frege advocated a truth-functional interpretation of indicative mood conditional expressions, because everyone told me he did and a few things I read claimed that he did, but when I was in graduate school I read Frege and discovered that he doesn’t (he says explicitly that the /Begriffsschrift/’s truth-functional “conditional stroke” expressions do not correspond to indicative mood conditionals but that they can only be /judged true/ based on “the causal connection” underlying such expressions). So I changed my mind about that attribution. My own views about the meanings of indicative mood conditionals gradually moved towards Angelika Kratzer’s view, which I was first exposed to but uncommitted to already in high school based on the short quip that Quine attributed to Philip Rhinelander in the fourth edition of /Methods of Logic/.
Report

Josh Glasgow
1 year ago

When I first encountered philosophical discussions of race, I formed the belief that races were socially real. (Unpublished)
Then I came to believe that race is an illusion. (Published)
Now I’m vacillating between whether race is an illusion or whether it is real in a non-social, non-biological way. (Published)Report

Alan White
Alan White
1 year ago

I must say that this thread is pretty fascinating–I can’t recall when I’ve read every comment in a long one for quite a while–and thanks to Justin and Galen Barry for the OP. So here’s “Weird Al’s” take on this.
Like AS above I was an evangelical Christian and religion major when I realized through thorough study (reading the NT in Greek in part, which I found and still find immensely enjoyable) that clearly religion was a human-concocted affair, and so I have been a non-believer for 45 years since. Becoming a philosophy major contributed to that too. As an aside I’d ask those impressed by the ontological argument to provide an account of a self-consistent concept of greatest possible being that also is the creator of such a flimsy moral universe as we observe, especially now in the US.
My own greatest turn-around though is big-picture methodological: most of my career I abhorred pragmatism, assuming it a surrender to epistemic conflict in something like Chamberlainic “peace-in-our-times” terms. I now am an avowed pragmatist at least in terms of dealing with certain issues, like the free will problem (no present publications on that, but something is forthcoming by next year). In a way I now see in retrospect that many of my pubs in philosophy of time–several defending Einstein’s famous train-of-thought experiment–were actually pragmatically motivated, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. I still can’t quite give myself over to chucking a Tarski-like classical logic for a full-blown pragmatic theory of truth, but maybe that’s because I can’t see how there’s a necessary tension there anyway in my foggy thinking.

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Sam Duncan
Sam Duncan
Reply to  Alan White
1 year ago

Since I’m the only one who mentioned the ontological argument I suppose you mean me. So two points: 1. I never said I was convinced or even impressed by the ontological argument just that I would no longer reject it out of hand as silly. There are a lot of positions like that that I’m hardly convinced are true but am not so sure are ridiculous either; I’d put say rejecting excluded middle and utilitarianism in the same boat. 2. The moral objection only really carries weight if you can assume that our moral code is the one by which to judge the most perfect being. But that’s hardly obvious. Hegel and Spinoza rejected that claim of course and so whatever problems their versions of the argument might face this objection simply doesn’t make contact with theirs. Now look I hardly find that emotionally satisfying and I’m inclined to think if God is what Hegel or Spinoza says then who really cares if He or rather It exists. But anyway I never said I like the ontological argument– I hardly do– but I’m no longer convinced it’s wrong.Report

Alan White
Alan White
Reply to  Sam Duncan
1 year ago

SD– The ontological argument is far from silly–it is one of the most inspired pieces of conceptual thinking in the history of humankind. It is worthy of teaching and criticism just in its own right–Augustine almost got its logical structure, Anselm saw it pretty clearly, and 20th century insights clarified modal implications of the second formulation. That was significant philosophical progress indeed. Sometimes even wrong thinking pushes things forward–the ontological argument is one of the major indices of how philosophical progress can be measured, and also as a data point of how important particular thinkers are in the history of ideas.Report

TimoLin
TimoLin
1 year ago

I used to have views in philosophy. Now I mostly don’t. Either due to the epistemology of disagreement literature or the subtle shifting of belief as described by Newman: “the mind pass[ing] to and fro..passing from point to point… gaining one by some indication, another on a probability… then falling back on some received law; next seizing on testimony..or some inward instinct, or some obscure memory…and thus… mak[ing] progress not unlike a clamberer on a steep cliff, who by quick eye, prompt hand, and a firm foot, ascends…how, he knows not himself…”Report

Grad student
Grad student
Reply to  TimoLin
1 year ago

This is a lovely excerpt; just wanted to say “thanks.”Report

Daniel Greco
Daniel Greco
1 year ago

In my subfield (epistemology), my “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Probability 1” is a repudiation of an idea I used to like, and defended in print here here, according to which rational agents are never maximally confident in a posteriori, contingent truths.

Outside my subfield, I used to like most of the Humean supervenience package, as defended by David Lewis across lots of papers. But Tim Maudlin’s “The Metaphysics Within Physics” and Heather Demarest’s “Powerful Properties, Powerless Laws” convinced me that we don’t have much reason to believe in the “perfectly natural intrinsic properties which need nothing bigger than a point at which to be instantiated” that are at the foundation of the Lewisian picture.

I used to think that there was *some* interesting class of mental phenomena for which internalism was right, even if externalism might be right about content. Justin Fisher’s “Why Nothing Mental is Just in the Head” convinced me otherwise.

I remember getting in a big fight with my dad about free will in my first couple years of college. I thought hard incompatibilism was clearly right, whereas he was expressing broadly compatibilist ideas. While I can’t localize my change of mind, now I’ve come around to vacillating between compatibilism and the view that it’s not clear how to understand the debate. Either way, I cringe when I remember how sure I was.

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Eric Schliesser
Eric Schliesser
Reply to  Daniel Greco
1 year ago

I am glad I am not alone in admiring Fisher’s paper!Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
1 year ago

XKCD’s answer to the question: https://xkcd.com/552/Report

KantainFreak
KantainFreak
1 year ago

This paper
(https://philpapers.org/rec/SHAARR-3)
made me doubt my understanding of Kant’s theory of perception. It made me realize how uncritical I was. Report

Travis Timmerman
1 year ago

I have changed my mind frequently about a number of philosophical questions. Though, unsurprisingly, I change my mind much more frequently about questions outside of my AOS than in it. That’s simply because I’ve read much of the literature in areas in my AOS, and spent much longer thinking about them. So I am less likely to come across a novel argument or point that I haven’t already considered in my AOS than outside it.

Most recently, within the last year, I used to think that the existence of evil provided very considerable evidential weight against the thesis that God exists. Now I think evil still provides evidence against God’s existence, just significantly less than I thought before.

I used to be a non-natural moral realist, and am now pretty agnostic between natural and non-natural moral realism.

I used to be a commonsense consequentialist, but have been pushed toward some kind of impartial consequentialism.

Less recently, I used to be a Humean about reasons, but not anymore. I used to deny the distinction between objective and subjective oughts, but not anymore. I used to be some kind of Rawlsian contractualist, but not anymore. The list goes on…Report

John Pittard
John Pittard
1 year ago

Previously, I was persuaded by Reid that it was arbitrary to give rational insight privileged epistemic status (over perception, e.g.). Later, I came around to the rationalist perspective that rational insight does have privileged epistemic status. I’ve defended the rationalist perspective in print, though I never published something that endorsed or defended the Reidian perspective.Report

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
1 year ago

Here’s a few since leaving grad school:

1. Whether ideal theory is coherent and worth doing (no -> yes)
2. Whether democracy is just (yes -> no) (Part of the change came from accepting ideal theory. Ideal theory leads to anarchism, not democracy.)
3. Whether epistocracy is compatible with public reason liberalism. (No -> yes)
4. Whether grading is good. (Yes -> no)
5. Accepting norms of social justice ( Mostly no to yes).

In general, most of my published work I wouldn’t have thought I’d advocate 10 years before. Report

Robert A Gressis
Robert A Gressis
Reply to  Jason Brennan
1 year ago

Re: 4, have you published on this? If not, could you elaborate? Report

Animal Symbolicum
Animal Symbolicum
Reply to  Jason Brennan
1 year ago

I second Robert’s question and request.Report

David Mathers
David Mathers
Reply to  Jason Brennan
1 year ago

What do you mean by ‘norms of social justice?’Report

Spencer Jay Case
Spencer Jay Case
1 year ago

I used to think that expressivism was probably a terrible view and now I think it’s definitely a terrible view.Report

Clayton
1 year ago

As an undegrad, I had a brief conversion to a broadly religious outlook. I guess that can happen when you’re young and you’re surrounded by lots of true believers, take some philosophy of religion courses that have a certain slant, and read way too much Dostoevsky. One afternoon, though, I remember thinking a bit about the problem of evil and a switch flipped. Any religious belief I’d started to develop was snuffed out completely and that was the end of that.

As a grad student, I had really strong internalist and/or perspectivalist convictions in lots of areas (e.g., about content, about epistemic justification, about the conditions that determine what obligations we have, etc.) but thinking about things like whether normative/evaluative uncertainty shifts or subverts obligation and Sorensen’s paper, ‘Unknowable Obligations’ led to a pretty radical conversion. I quickly switched to a more externalist and/or objectivist mindset when it came to justification, permissibility, obligation, etc. for actions and for attitudes. That was a pretty big change, I thought and so I started to worry that lots of internalist and/or perspectivalist projects had lots of nasty and untoward implications about the kinds of responsibilities we might have when we’re out of touch with various aspects of normative reality.

Most recently, I started to think that the truth-centred or veritist approaches to issues in epistemology that have to do with full belief are misguided and started to think that we needed a knowledge-centric approach to solve puzzles about rational full belief, understand how beliefs play the rational roles that they do, etc. One nice thing about a sudden switch of perspective is that you might just manage to see how mistaken you were before someone else does. Report

Clayton
Reply to  Clayton
1 year ago

Oh, and some brief conversations with Charles Travis made me realise that I don’t have to pretend to accept certain widely accepted views in the philosophy of perception. I don’t even have to pretend to understand what the myth of the given is or how saying ‘The myth of the given’ counts as an argument. That was really nice. Report

Robert A Gressis
Robert A Gressis
1 year ago

I used to think that Kant thought that every action was action on a maxim. Now I’m unsure, but I lean to the idea that maxims are consciously endorsed general principles and that many of our actions are not actions on maxims at all. This is because of Sven Nyholm’s paper, “Do We Always Act on Maxims?” I don’t think I agree with his treatment of what Kant calls the supreme maxim (and which almost all commentators, save for Manfred Kuehn, equate with what Kant calls the Gesinnung), so I’m still figuring out how to think of that. And if I recall correctly, I did publish work wherein I defended my old view (“Recent Work on Kantian Maxims II”).

When I started thinking about disagreement, I found the conciliationist views of Richard Feldman and Hilary Kornblith to be completely persuasive. After I taught a seminar on it, I concluded that the conciliationist view is wrong and came around to a steadfast view. That said, though I think that the reasons that most conciliationists give for conciliationism aren’t persuasive, Bryan Frances’s argument (from “Worrisome Skepticism about Philosophy”) still undermines my confidence in my philosophical views, so now *that’s* on the agenda. Report

David Mathers
David Mathers
1 year ago

Two things stand out to me:

Firstly, in my dissertation, I defended the Bill Fish-style ‘no phenomenology’ view of hallucinations*. I now think that view is wrong, because the only motivation I like for it is the one I gave in my thesis (too complicated to explain here), motivating it that way implies that illusions are also not phenomenally as they seem, and this is implausible given how pervasive halluciantions are. But I actually said in my dissertation that it was reasonable to have this worry about my view there, so it’s not that big a shift I guess. (Here’s the paper that persuaded me to make the switch: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09515089.2019.1598765?journalCode=cphp20 ).

Secondly, I used to think (perhaps over-confidently given I’m not well read in Phil. Religion) that the argument from evil was completely crushing against theism. Changed my mind to ‘it *probably* works, but very far from certain’ after encounting multiverse theodicies. Actually, the shift was partly prompted by encountering someone discussing these in a fairly light-hearted way who isn’t even a professional philosopher (or a theist!): https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/03/15/answer-to-job/ A lesson in intellectual humility, though I think I’d maybe already encountered the idea from conversations with Amanda Askell by the time I read that blog post. I haven’t stopped being an atheist though, because I think (and did before I decided the argument from evil wasn’t as totally crushing as I thought) that atheism is the default view, and I haven’t seen any positive evidence for theism that would move me away from it.

I also maybe in the middle of changing my opinion, at this very moment on the relative plausibility of higher-order and first-order accounts of what makes a representational mental state a phenomenally conscious one. My opinion certainly was “there’s no right answer to this, the wide conceptual role of “consciousness” doesn’t determine which of these views better fits the concept, so it’s just vague’. But now, as I read the literature, I’m beginning to think it might just be ‘some first-order view is right and higher-order views are wrong’ (at least conditional on higher-order views not allowing for animal consciousness.) Which is annoying, since I’m in the middle of writing a paper that takes ‘it’s indeterminate whether first-order or higher-order views are correct’ as a motivating premise. So it goes, I guess.

*This *may* be Mike Martin’s view of hallucinations too, but experience with reviewers and conversations at conference have convinced me there is no consensus about whether Mike thinks this, although a lot of people haven’t even considered the possibility that their reading is wrong 🙂 I now think Mike says things that imply the view in some places and things that imply it’s negation in others! Report