Entries by Colin McGinn

Monogamy

  Monogamy     Monogamy is defined by the OED as “the practice of being married to or having a sexual relationship with only one person at a time” (from Greek words meaning “single” and “marriage”). A certain type of human relationship (marriage, sexual involvement) is restricted by this practice to a single person at […]

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Sentience and Morality

  Sentience and Morality     It is often said these days that morality applies when and only when sentience is present, but the exact connection between the two is not often spelled out. The thought is that the states of insentient objects impose no obligations on us while the states of sentient beings do. […]

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Externalism and the Cogito

  Externalism and the Cogito     The basic meaning of the Cogito is that the existence of a conscious state implies the existence of a subject of that state. Thus thinking implies a thing that thinks, where that thing is not identical to the thought itself. We might say that something external to the […]

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Being Conscious

  Being Conscious     What is consciousness? What is its basic and essential character? I shall suggest the following: consciousness is the feeling of being. This terse formula will need some elaboration but it is useful as a summary statement. I mean to be speaking of consciousness in the broadest sense—the kind of consciousness […]

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Reducibility

  Reducibility     Some things are said to be reducible, others irreducible. I wish to consider two questions about such claims:  (a) what their modal status is and (b) what their explanation is. I won’t be interested in whether the claims are true or false but only in whether their truth is necessary or […]

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Mathematical Existence

  Mathematical Existence     The Platonist asks us to accept that mathematical entities exist independently of human thought in much the same way that material objects do. The central claim of both types of realism is that the entities in question pre-exist the existence of minds and would continue to exist even if minds […]

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Connectives and Necessity

    Connectives and Necessity     In Naming and Necessity Kripke argues against the description theory of names and offers a theory-sketch to be put in its place, often labeled the causal theory. He then extends his critique to apply to common nouns (natural kind terms) contending that they too are not to be […]

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Particulars and Universals

Particulars and Universals     It is a truism regarding particulars that they cannot be in two places at the same time. This is why alibis work in the law. Types of particulars can have multiple spatially separated instances, but not particulars themselves. Particulars are necessarily singly located things. Of course, they can have parts […]

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