Louis Doulas

Epistemology · History of Analytic Philosophy · Metaphysics · Philosophy of Language · Philosophy of Science · Philosophical Methodology ldoulas@uci.edu PhilPeople CV

I’m currently a PhD student in the Department of Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine. My dissertation, Moore’s Metaphilosophy, is on the epistemology and methodology of G.E. Moore. I’m advised by Annalisa Coliva.

My philosophical interests are both theoretical and historical. In particular, I’m interested in epistemology, the history of analytic philosophy (especially G.E. Moore, Susan Stebbing, and J.L. Austin), metaphysics, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of science, and philosophical methodology.

I also teach. As primary instructor, I taught Puzzles and Paradoxes at UC Irvine and an MTEL Prep course at Brandeis University. I’ve also served as a graduate student instructor for various courses (mostly in philosophy, but also in art history and legal studies) at UC Irvine, Brandeis, and Harvard. Through TH!NK, I’ve taught philosophy to fifth-graders.

Prior to moving to California, I lived in Boston where I did my MA in Philosophy at Brandeis University. Before Boston, and before finding my way to philosophy, I worked as an editor in New York and wrote about art influenced by the internet. (Here’s one of my favorite interviews I did from that time.)

And before all that, I received a BFA in Studio Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Projects Journal/Press Year Co-authors Category
What Philosophical Disagreement and Philosophical Skepticism Hinge On Synthese 2022 Annalisa Coliva Epistemology

Philosophers disagree. A lot. Pervasive disagreement is part of the territory; consensus is hard to find. Some think this should lead us to embrace philosophical skepticism: skepticism about the extent to which we can know, or justifiably believe, the philosophical views we defend and advance. Most philosophers in the literature fall into one camp or the other: philosophical skepticism or philosophical anti-skepticism. Drawing on the insights of hinge epistemology, this paper proposes another way forward, an intermediate position that appeals both to skeptical and anti-skeptical intuitions concerning the possibility and scope of philosophical knowledge. The main advantage of our account is that it’s able to recover some philosophical knowledge while also being compatible with philosophical skepticism.

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Philosophical Progress, Skepticism, and Disagreement The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Disagreement 2022 Annalisa Coliva Epistemology

This chapter serves as an opinionated introduction to the problem of convergence (that there is no clear convergence to the truth in philosophy) and the problem of peer disagreement (that disagreement with a peer rationally demands suspending one’s beliefs), and some of the issues they give rise to, namely, philosophical skepticism and progress in philosophy. After introducing both topics and surveying the various positions in the literature we explore the prospects of an alternative, hinge-theoretic account.

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Against Philosophical Proofs Against Common Sense Analysis 2021 Evan Welchance Methodology

Many philosophers think that common sense knowledge survives sophisticated philosophical proofs against it. Recently, however, Bryan Frances (forthcoming) has advanced a philosophical proof that he thinks common sense can’t survive. Exploiting philosophical paradoxes like the Sorites, Frances attempts to show how common sense leads to paradox and therefore that common sense methodology is unstable. In this paper, we show how Frances’s proof fails and then present Frances with a dilemma.

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A Puzzle About Moorean Metaphysics Philosophical Studies 2021 Metaphysics

Some metaphysicians believe that existence debates are easily resolved by trivial inferences from Moorean premises. This paper considers how the introduction of negative Moorean facts—negative existentials that command Moorean certainty—complicates this picture. In particular, it shows how such facts, when combined with certain plausible metaontological principles, generate a puzzle that commits the proponents of this method to a contradiction.

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The Philosophy of Susan Stebbing Edited Volume In Progress Annalisa Coliva History of Analytic

This is the first volume to be dedicated exclusively to the philosophy of Susan Stebbing (1885–1943). Through new, previously unpublished essays, the book traces and explores the depth and breadth of Stebbing’s philosophical contributions across a diverse range of issues in analytic philosophy—from logic and science to public philosophy and politics—and reinforces the importance of Stebbing’s place in that history as well as the saliency of her ideas to issues still under dispute today.

What Moore’s Hands Might Mean Manuscript In Progress History of Analytic

Moore’s infamous “Proof of an External World” (1939) invokes two hands when one would have supposedly done the trick. More precisely: two hands, two socks, two shoes, two soap-bubbles, two plants, two dogs, two shadows, three misprints. Why two hands and not one? This question has gone unasked. It’s standard to pay these repetitions no mind. But I think there is much more going on. In this paper, I argue for the philosophical significance of these repetitions. I tell a story about how taking these repetitions seriously sheds light on Moore’s epistemology and methodology. The result is a new reading of the proof.

Comments welcome!

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Making Sense of Moore and Stebbing on Common Sense Manuscript In Progress History of Analytic

This paper investigates Moore’s and Stebbing’s relationship to common sense and how they both understand its role in philosophical theorizing. Like Moore, common sense played a central role in Susan Stebbing’s philosophy. “We must begin with commonsense facts” (1932/33: 74) says Stebbing, for “we cannot find premisses more certain than [these] from which [such common sense beliefs] may be deduced” (70). In this respect, “common sense needs no defence” (1938–39: 84). While it’s clear that Stebbing, twelve years G.E. Moore’s junior, was influenced by his broadly common sense approach, it’s not always clear they agreed on the nature and scope of this approach. The overarching goal is to bring some unexplored themes to light from a philosopher—Stebbing—who has been largely (and unjustly) overlooked and to reevaluate the views of a philosopher—Moore—whose common sense commitments have largely been treated as open-and-shut.

Questions with and without Method: Moore, Carnap, and Wittgenstein Manuscript In Progress History of Analytic

This paper brings together three influential figures of analytic philosophy and examines their status as “anti-philosophers.” By “anti-philosopher,” I mean that all three philosophers were keen on circumscribing the limits and scope of what the philosophical method, and philosophy more generally, could achieve. All three, however, did this in interestingly different but related ways. To situate my discussion, I focus on the question concerning the external world and examine how each philosopher understood this question (as well as related questions) and then draw out some of the anti-philosophical commitments that unite all three of them.

Proof, Circularity, and Certainty Manuscript In Progress History of Analytic

This paper comes in two parts. The first part draws on textual evidence to argue that (i) Moore was aware of the worries concerning the circularity of his proof in “Proof of an External World” (1939) and that (ii) Moore didn’t think these worries were warranted. Yet, if Moore’s proof isn’t circular, there’s still a sense in which it’s highly puzzling. I offer one diagnosis: Moore fails to make his metaphilosophy explicit. Moore sets up his discussion in a traditionally philosophical way yet believes the question concerning the external world is an empirical question and thereby answers it in an ordinary, empirical way leading to puzzlement and confusion. This, however, leads to a new worry which is addressed in the second part of the paper. At the end of “Proof,” Moore confesses that he can’t prove he knows the truth of his premises unless he can also prove that he knows he isn’t dreaming—something he believes he can’t do. Yet, if Moore’s proof is an empirical one, don’t we have ordinary empirical proof that we aren’t dreaming? Here, I draw on some distinctions Moore makes in “Certainty” (1959). Moore distinguishes between two kinds of certain knowledge: certain knowledge about logical and mathematical matters and certain knowledge about empirical matters of fact. Moore’s remark in “Proof” can thus be made sense of in the following way: we can know with empirical certainty that we aren’t dreaming but we can’t know with logical certainty that we aren’t dreaming; for the radical dreaming hypothesis is a logical possibility that outstrips any empirical evidence we have against it.

What Is Moore’s Proof Proof Against? Manuscript In Progress History of Analytic

In this note, I attempt to clarify the debate between two opposing readings of Moore’s infamous proof: the anti-idealist reading (Baldwin 1990, Coliva 2004, Sosa 2007) and the anti-skeptical reading (Soames 2003, Weatherall 2017, Maddy 2017). I first argue that the existing textual evidence used to respectively support both readings is underdetermined. I then present new textual evidence to argue that a hybrid view is more likely correct; that is, Moore’s proof is proof against both idealism and skepticism and Moore intended it as such.

Moorean Modesty in Metaphysics Manuscript In Progress Metaphysics
When it comes to common sense, some metaphysicians are disbelievers: common sense either has no place in serious metaphysical theorizing or else it does but it’s highly defeasible. Others give common sense a role to play but a superficial one: common sense is right about there being tables, but this doesn’t entail that there really are tables. These metaphysicians thus attempt to pay their respects to common sense at the cost of downgrading it to mere sentential truth. Accordingly, call such metaphysician downgraders. Disbelievers and downgraders have disowned common sense in two distinct ways. In this paper, I explain why I think this is a mistake.
Remembering What You Know Manuscript In Progress Epistemology

I want to make the case for what I call everyday epistemology: the idea that our ordinary, everyday epistemic practices are sophisticated and satisfying enough to answer various skeptical philosophical challenges. This picture ends up presupposing a certain conception of philosophy. Philosophy, I argue, involves a certain kind of overthinking, which can take either virtuous or vicious forms. When virtuous, philosophical overthinking can lead to increased understanding, perhaps even knowledge. But when vicious, philosophical overthinking can be epistemically harmful; it can confuse us, causing us to forget what we know. The value in practicing everyday epistemology, then, is in its ability to remind us of what we know. Reviewing, for example, Moore’s infamous proof or Austin’s dismantling of the argument from illusion, can function as philosophically sobering antidotes to the doubt we may experience when in the grip of certain skeptical attitudes generated by philosophical overthinking.