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Our sense of self is readily extrapolated to engender paradoxes, but that sense is not easily dismissed even when the logical aporiai are exposed.

What Kant called the illusions of reason beckon here, but their false promises may be shown up if we subject the possibility of ‘objective’ scientific accounts of ourselves to a deeper logical scrutiny. Can we avoid the logical difficulties by trying instead to ‘naturalize’ and understand ourselves in the same way as we understand natural systems? There too logical paradoxes may return, and I will discuss the implications of Thomason’s paradox for the language of belief.


Bastiaan Cornelis van Fraassen is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University and the McCosh Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Princeton University, teaching courses in the philosophy of science, philosophical logic and the role of models in scientific practice. He previously taught at Yale University, the University of Southern California (USC), the University of Toronto and Princeton University. He coined the term “constructive empiricism” in his 1980 book The Scientific Image, in which he argued for agnosticism about the reality of unobservable entities.

Read more about Bas van Fraassen.


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