Outlook, the new office

In the course of moving down the hall to my new office, I emptied some file cabinets today and found some undated outlines for things I never wrote.

One of these is an outline for a book about the underdetermination of theory by data. It’s almost certainly from 2010 or earlier, because I wrote a great many outlines like it while still working through issues I had broached in my dissertation. After that, I shifted my attention to natural kinds.

Another of these is titled Outlook— modest naturalism and sketches a paper in two parts.

The negative bit would argue for a kind of limited scepticism. There are no unrestricted quantifiers, so you can’t possibly give an account of all modalities and utterly everything. My notes end with the words, “no shortcuts”, which is a reference to a motto that I got from Matt Brown at a conference in 2009. The idea is that philosophers should not pretend to be able to settle any questions which scientists could eventually answer without actually doing the science.

The positive bit would argue for the claim that science matters. It’s generally pretty good. Philosophers need to consider it where it’s relevant.

Then, and I’m not sure where I thought this fit in: “No decisive answer to the sceptic or the staunch dogmatist”

Outline: into the rubbish bin.

Some of it is contentious metaphysics which is best left undone (e.g., the stuff about quantifiers). Some of it is the banal standpoint of any sensible philosopher. It’s all still stuff I believe, but I don’t see myself ever writing that paper.

the new office, picture taken from the door

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