The Overpopulation of Solutions to Philosophical Problems


What can be learned through philosophical disputes? I present the problem of overpopulation: philosophical dispute is a problem of group decision-making conducted under conditions of ignorance. There is the difficulty in choosing in a principled way amongst competing, mutually exclusive solutions to philosophical problems. How can we adjudicate between competing solutions? I argue philosophical dispute exposes nothing more than that there exists incoherence in a set of propositions or that a set of propositions entails consequences deemed unacceptable according to a set of standards expressed in the form of a set of propositions. Thus adjudication remains possible through philosophical dispute, retaining the ability for philosophers to engage in philosophical disputation.

Radboud University Nijmegen. Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

A revised version of this talk was given at the First Year Research Seminar at King’s College London on May 13, 2015.