Entries by Colin McGinn

Philosophical Economics

Philosophical Economics Economics tells us that an economic transaction involves the sale (or exchange) of “goods and services”. This phrase invites conceptual scrutiny. It is notable that an evaluative term is used to describe the commodities sold: goods are good.[1] Services also are inherently valuable: you don’t perform someone the service of executing or robbing […]

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Elements of Economics

Elements of Economics Economics is aptly defined as the science of scarcity (we could say “systematic study” if “science” seems too strong). Philosophy of economics is then the philosophy of scarcity, or of the science thereof. It is in this vein that I write the present words. What, then, is scarcity? Here is a good […]

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Bounds of Space

Bounds of Space The Kant-Strawson thesis is that all possible experience is spatial in character (Strawson calls it the “spatiality thesis”). That is, all appearances are spatial appearances—of extended things existing in an ordered unified Euclidian space separate from the mind. This is how experience makes things seem, even if they are not objectively (noumenally) […]

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Bounds of Sense

Bounds of Sense Quine once described Strawson as applying his “limpid vernacular” to the technicalities of logic (in a review of Strawson’s Introduction to Logical Theory). One might hope that he would do the same in exegesis of Kant in The Bounds of Sense. However, in that work we are treated to such tortuous locutions […]

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Anticipations

Anticipations Perusing a recent book on the cognitive psychology of number (Number Concepts by Richard Samuels and Eric Snyder), I was put in mind of my psychology M.A. thesis, entitled Empiricism and Nativism in Language and Mathematics, submitted in 1972 to Manchester University (when I was 22). In that thesis I brought together psychology, linguistics, […]

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Message from Rebecca Goldstein

Rebecca gave me permission to publish this.   One of the bright spots in these bleak days gets delivered to me regularly in Colin McGinn’s blog: brief and beautifully composed philosophical pieces on an astonishingly wide number of topics, many of which, I’m pretty sure, have never before been considered from a philosophical point of […]

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The Making of a Philosopher (Part Two)

The Making of a Philosopher (Part Two) The following is a sequel of sorts to my The Making of a Philosopher (2002). Like that work, this is to be an intellectual memoir, not a marital, medical, musical, or muscular one—a memoir of the mind. It’s about what has gone on in my head. I originally […]

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Empiricism, Memory, and Knowledge

Empiricism, Memory, and Knowledge In pre-Socratic times there was a school of thought known as “memorism” (or so I once dreamt). The principal doctrine of this school was that all knowledge is stored in memory: whenever you know something there was a past event that laid it down in memory, and knowledge is the recall […]

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