Entries by Colin McGinn

Primary and Secondary Values

Primary and Secondary Values It has been suggested that moral values can be compared to secondary qualities, thus aligning them with human-centered attributes.[1] To be good or right is to be disposed to elicit attitudes of approval from observers—that kind of thing. I will propose something different: the whole apparatus of primary and secondary qualities […]

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Knowledge of Primary and Secondary Qualities

Knowledge of Primary and Secondary Qualities We normally think we know the shapes and colors of things: I know, for example, that the cup in front of me is cylindrical and blue. But reflection casts doubt on this commonsense assumption, in two ways. First, there is the question of whether I really know that the […]

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Wing Surfing

Wing Surfing Yesterday I went wing surfing for the second time with my friend Eddy in his boat. We were in Biscayne Bay, far out but in shallow water, virtually alone. I was using an inflatable paddle board and a 4.5 meter wing, which also had to be inflated (it’s a work-out). Despite my familiarity […]

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Explaining Knowledge

Explaining Knowledge We have many kinds of knowledge: perceptual, introspective, scientific, linguistic, ethical, logical, mathematical, aesthetic, historical, and others. Epistemologists have asked which of these is best justified, and which least justified. We should be able to rank them for degree of justification: introspective and mathematical knowledge might get high marks for justification, perceptual and […]

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Bat Science

Bat Science What does the science of bats (Chiroptera) include? There are 1,400 species of bats and they make up 20% of all mammals. Many of them use an echolocation sense, though not all. We can expect a science of bats to deal with their anatomy, evolution, physiology, and psychology. With respect to the first […]

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Four Types of Quantification

Four Types of Quantification It has been said that there are really two types of quantification not one: “objectual” and “substitutional”. The objectual type may be paraphrased as follows: “There is an object x such that x satisfies F, where F is a predicate” (and similarly for the universal quantifier). The substitutional type may be […]

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Stock and Tuvel

Stock and Tuvel I was just watching a video of Kathleen Stock and Rebecca Tuvel at Cornell talking about their experiences in academia in recent years. Both women struck me as eminently sensible and decent people with perfectly defensible (and innocuous) views. Yet they have been subjected to vicious persecution and cancellation by assorted idiots. […]

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The Situation Room

The Situation Room I just read my friend George Stephanopoulos’ book The Situation Room, an account of said room over the last sixty years or so. It is a well-researched, clear, and smoothly written book, full of information, eye-opening. As a window into American politics over the relevant time period, it is exemplary; everyone in […]

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