Entries by Colin McGinn

The Good Place

The Good Place continues to delight and instruct with its philosophical allusions and witty dialogue (good acting too)–at last philosophy finds its place in the sun! But let me put in a good word for the show that precedes it on a Thursday evening: Superstore. This show is genuinely subversive, very funny, and marvelously acted. […]

Share

For Queerness

  Being Queer   In section 196 of Philosophical InvestigationsWittgenstein writes: “In our failure to understand the use of a word we take it as the expression of a queer process. (As we think of time as a queer medium, of the mind as a queer kind of being.)” Earlier (section 93) he remarks: “One […]

Share

No Answer

I’ve noticed a disturbing new trend in the philosophy profession: not answering letters. You write to someone to make a critical point about something they have said and they simply don’t bother to reply, thus avoiding the task of responding rationally to the criticism. In the old days if someone wrote to you, however critically, […]

Share

Philosophical Science

Abstract   If philosophy consists of conceptual analysis, is it thereby debarred from being a science? I argue that it is not and that philosophy so conceived is a science. The argument takes the form of careful attention to the meaning of “science,” “experiment,” “empirical,” and related words. Philosophy is a formal science. This does […]

Share

Set Theory and Psychology

        Set-Theoretic Psychology     Set theory as a branch of mathematics is a comparatively recent invention, but the concepts it uses are surely planted deep in the mind. The idea of membership in a collection is primordial: things do not just exist separately; they exist as elements of something more inclusive. […]

Share

Psychology

Sketch for a General Theory of Human Psychology       Is it possible to come up with high-level organizational principles of human psychology? The task has been attempted before–as in associationist psychology, classical conditioning theory, and computationalism. The hope is to discover general principles that cover a wide variety of psychological phenomena, thus unifying […]

Share

Moral Responsibility

      Is Moral Responsibility Logically Possible?     There is a well-known argument purporting to show that human beings are not morally responsible, i.e. appropriate recipients of praise and blame, which goes as follows.[1]What you do results from the way you are—your psychology. But the way you are is fixed by heredity and […]

Share

Civil War

The civil war begins today in the Senate. Just because the facts will likely never be established it is possible for either side to take exception to the other side. The bad feeling and distrust is now turned up very high. I found  Professor Ford convincing and Judge Kavanaugh unconvincing. If they appoint him to […]

Share