Ideas of J.J.C. Smart, by Theme

[Australian, b.1920, Born in Scotland, and educated in Britain. Professor at Australian National University.]

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1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 1. Nature of Metaphysics
Metaphysics should avoid talk of past, present or future
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 6. Coherence
Coherence is consilience, simplicity, analogy, and fitting into a web of belief
We need comprehensiveness, as well as self-coherence
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 3. Evidentialism / a. Evidence
I simply reject evidence, if it is totally contrary to my web of belief
14. Science / D. Explanation / 1. Explanation / c. Direction of explanation
The height of a flagpole could be fixed by its angle of shadow, but that would be very unusual
Universe expansion explains the red shift, but not vice versa
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / c. Explanations by coherence
Explanation of a fact is fitting it into a system of beliefs
Explanations are bad by fitting badly with a web of beliefs, or fitting well into a bad web
Deducing from laws is one possible way to achieve a coherent explanation
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / f. Causal explanations
If scientific explanation is causal, that rules out mathematical explanation
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / i. Explanations by reduction
Scientific explanation tends to reduce things to the unfamiliar (not the familiar)
14. Science / D. Explanation / 3. Best Explanation / a. Best explanation
An explanation is better if it also explains phenomena from a different field
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 4. Time / b. Tensed (A) time
If time flows, then 'how fast does it flow?' is a tricky question
The past, present, future and tenses of A-theory are too weird, and should be analysed indexically
27. Natural Reality / A. Physics / 6. Special Relativity
Special relativity won't determine a preferred frame, but we can pick one externally
27. Natural Reality / D. Cosmology / 5. General Relativity
Unlike Newton, Einstein's general theory explains the perihelion of Mercury