Entries by Colin McGinn

Stalin’s Fallacy

Stalin famously said, “Death solves all problems–no man, no problem”. He meant that murdering people solves the problem their existence poses–hence his murder of millions of Russians who threatened to be a “problem”. I suspect many people in power have thought along similar lines–and the saying has a certain cogency. But it is important to […]


Why does philosophy even exist? Is the world an inherently philosophical place? That seems unlikely. Is it our concepts that generate philosophical problems? But why should we have concepts that do that? Does it show there is something deeply wrong with our concepts? And why are we so confused, if conceptual confusions are the problem? […]

Philosophical Fun for the Whole Family

The Simulation Game     The following document recently fell into my hands:   “Report to the Commissioner of Games: We recently met to discuss, plan and implement a new game, to be called the Simulation Game (hereafter SG). For this purpose we have created a small group (about 6 billion) of individual centers of […]

Blind Review

The obsession with blind review of journal articles is peculiar. Why not blind examining or blind book reviewing or blind job selection? Anyone entrusted with these jobs is expected to evaluate in an unbiased manner, and if they can’t they should not be so trusted. I think all information about a candidate can be useful, […]


I was glad Serena Williams decided to return to Indian Wells after that shameful incident 14 years ago. Her return made the point with great force and clarity. But I also am glad that Venus and their father did not return this year, because that mob behavior can never be forgotten or forgiven. It was […]

Conceding Intelligence

In footnote 76 of Naming and Necessity Kripke uses a phrase that has stuck in my mind for decades–I think of it almost every day. He is discussing the identity theory and considers the objection that his use of “correlated with” presupposes the anti-materialist position he set out to prove. He says: “Although I was […]

Jonathan Miller

For those who would like to read a really positive review by me, have a look at my review of the collected writings of Jonathan Miller in the latest New York Review of Books. Now that was a pleasure to write. I must have written about a hundred reviews by now, some more positive than […]

Extinct humans and human limits

I’ve been reading  Yuval Noah Harari’s best-seller Sapiens and I think it is very good. My own forthcoming book Prehension is in the same area, though I deal with human evolution before culture got started. One thing he emphasizes is that H. Sapiens once shared the planet with several other human species–Neanderthals, H. Erectus, Denisovans, and others. […]