January 2015  

Feedback from my students is consistent.

They need and want help in learning to write concisely. 

I assign three 1000-word papers.

 

“. . . forced us to be concise writers.”

“. . . unlike in other classes, in which 12 page papers encourage long-windedness.”

“This is the class that has taught me the most about writing.”

Blog

 

Free Will: A Kind of Will

When thinking about volition, keep these in mind: Freedom of will is an acquired skill. If you could know everything, you would not have free will. You are more like a dog than like a rock; compare human will to canine will, not to rock physics.

 

Ethics: The Science for Finding Happiness

Analytic Statements and Organic Concepts

I Have a Right. Don’t Try to Stop Me.

Evil Deeds Can Have Good Results.

More . . .

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Scholarship

The main theme of my research is that the philosophical problem of induction is an artifact of a bad turn taken in the early 19th century, by which induction came to be conceived as a logic of propositional inference that depends on a suppressed uniformity principle. In antiquity and from Bacon to Whewell, induction was instead conceived as a logic of classification.

Teaching

Since 2012, I have been teaching one seminar every fall for the Political Theory Project at Brown University. Two have been on 20th-century defenders of capitalism, one on Ayn Rand specifically. I taught similar seminars and ones on history of scientific method for several years at Stanford University. In 2011, I taught a course on history of science at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Service

Board of Advisors, College of Arts and Letters, Stevens Institute of Technology • Occasional referee for HOPOS • Founder and Chairman, Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship, 2001–10 • Board Member, Ayn Rand Institute, 2004–10 • Advisor, John P. McCaskey Foundation

Students’ Comments

“By far the most challenging and most rewarding course I’ve taken thus far at Stanford.” • “One of the best classes I’ve taken at Brown!” • “I’ve always liked precision of logic but wasn’t aware how it could be applied to morality.” • “It’s one of those classes that changes the way you look at things.”

Photograph of JohnAfter spending twenty years in the computer business, I went back to school and got a PhD in history from Stanford. I mostly now research the history of philosophy of science, but I also teach some history of 20th century political philosophy.

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