New Essay in Draft: The Pragmatic Metaphysics of Belief

Available here.

As always, comments and criticisms welcome, either by email to my address or in the comments section on this post.


Suppose someone intellectually assents to a proposition but fails to act and react generally as though that proposition is true. Does she believe the proposition? Intellectualist approaches will say she does believe it. They align belief with sincere, reflective judgment, downplaying the importance of habitual, spontaneous reaction and unreflective assumption. Broad-based approaches, which do not privilege the intellectual and reflective over the spontaneous and habitual in matters of belief, will refrain from ascribing belief or treat it as an intermediate case. Both views are viable, so it is open to us to choose which view to prefer on pragmatic grounds. I argue that since “belief” is a term of central importance in philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, and epistemology, we should use it to label most important phenomenon in the vicinity that can plausibly answer to it. The most important phenomenon in the vicinity is not our patterns of intellectual endorsement but rather our overall lived patterns of action and reaction. Too intellectualist a view risks hiding the importance of lived behavior, especially when that behavior does not match our ideals and self-conception, inviting us to noxiously comfortable views of ourselves.

The Pragmatic Metaphysics of Belief (in draft)

(I'll be giving a version of this paper as talk at USC on Friday, by the way.)

Related Posts:

On Being Blameworthy for Unwelcome Thoughts, Reactions, and Biases (Mar 19, 2015)

Against Intellectualism about Belief (Jul 31, 2015)

Pragmatic Metaphysics (Feb 11, 2016)

Cory Doctorow Speaking at UC Riverside: "1998 Called, and It Wants Its Stupid Internet Laws Back"

Come one, come all! (Well, for certain smallish values of "all".)

Cory Doctorow

"1998 Called, and It Wants Its Stupid Internet Laws Back"

Wednesday, September 28, 2016
INTS 1113

The topic will be digital rights management and companies' increasing tendency not to give us full control over the devices that matter to us, so that the the devices can "legitimately" (?) thwart us when we give them orders contrary to the manufacturers' interests.

The Jerk Quiz: New York City Edition

Now that my Jerk Quiz has been picked up by The Sun and The Daily Mail, I've finally hit the big time! I'm definitely listing these as "reprints" on my c.v.

Philosopher James DiGiovanna suggested to me that the existing Jerk Quiz might not be valid in New York City, so I suggested he draw up a NYC version. Here's the result!

New York City Jerk Test

by James DiGiovanna

1. You have a fifteen-minute break from work, a desperate need for a cigarette, and a seven-minute-each-way walk to the bank on a very crowded sidewalk. Do you:
(a) Calmly walk the 14-minute round-trip handling the cigarette cravings by reminding yourself that you only have a scant 7 more hours of work, a 49-minute commute on the crowded and probably non-functional F train, and then a brief walk through throngs of NYU students before you can reach your undersized apartment for a pleasant 4 minutes of smoking.
(b) Curse the existence of each probably mindless drone who stands between you and your goal.
(c) Find a narrow space just off the main thoroughfare and enjoy 5 quick drags meant to burn your entire cigarette down to the filter in under 30 seconds.
(d) Light up a cigarette as you walk, unconsciously assuming that others can dodge the flaming end and/or enjoy the smoking effluvia as they see fit, if indeed they have minds that can see anything at all.

2. You are waiting at the bodega to buy one measly cup of coffee, one of the few pleasures allowed to you in a world where the last tree is dying somewhere in what was probably a forest before Reagan was elected. However, there is a long line, including someone directly in front of you who is preparing to write a check in spite of the fact that this is the 21st century. You accidentally step on this person’s toe, causing him or her to move to the side yelping in pain. Do you:
(a) Apologize profusely.
(b) Offer the standard, “pardon me!” while wondering why check-writers were allowed to reproduce and create check-writing offspring at this late point in history.
(c) Say nothing, holding your precious place in line against the unhygienic swarm of lower lifeforms.
(d) Consider this foe vanquished and proceed to take his or her place as you march relentlessly towards the cashier.

3. You are in hell (midtown near Times Square) where an Eastern Hemisphere tourist unknowingly drops a wallet, and an elderly woman wanders out in front of a runaway hot dog stand, risking severe cholesterol and death. Do you:
(a) Shout to the Foreign Person while rushing to rescue the elderly woman.
(b) Ignore the neocolonialist tourist and his or her justifiable loss of money earned by exploiting the third world and attempt to save the woman because, my God, that could be you and/or your non-gender-specific life partner someday.
(c) Continue on your way because you have things to do.
(d) Yell so that others will see that there is a woman about to be hotdog-carted, assuming this will distract the crowd from the dropped wallet, making it easier for you to take it and run.

4. You have been waiting for the A train for 300 New York Minutes (i.e. five minutes in flyover state time.) Finally, it arrives, far too crowded to accept even a single additional passenger. Do you:
(a) Step out of the way so others can exit, and allow those on the platform in front of you to enter the train, and then, if and only if there is ample room to enter without compressing other persons, do you board the train.
(b) Wait calmly, because when his happens, 9 times out of 10 an empty train is 1 minute behind.
(c) Mindlessly join the throngs of demi-humans desperately hoping to push their way into the car.
(d) Slide along the outside of the car to the spot just adjacent the door, then slip in the narrow space made when a person who is clearly intending to get back in the car stepped off to make way for someone who was disembarking to pass.

5. It is a typical winter day in New York, meaning at the end of each sidewalk is a semi-frozen slush puddle of indeterminate depth. Perhaps it is barely deep enough to wet your boots, perhaps it drains directly into a C.H.U.D. settlement. You see a family, the father carrying a map and wearing a fanny pack, the mother holding a guide which say “Fodors New York för Nordmen,” the blindingly white children staring for the first time at buildings that are not part of a system of social welfare and frost. They absentlly march towards the end of the sidewalk, eyes raised towards New York’s imposing architecture, about to step into what could be their final ice bath. Do you:
(a) Yell at them to stop while you check the depth of the puddle for them.
(b) Block their passage and point to a shallower point of egress.
(c) Watch in amusement as they test the puddle depth for you.
(d) Push them into the puddle and use their frozen bodies as a bridge to freedom.


(I interpret James's quiz as a commentary on how difficult it is, even for characterological non-jerks, to avoid jerk-like behaviors or thoughts in that kind of urban context.)

For more on Jerks see:

A Theory of Jerks

How to Tell If You're A Jerk

Call for Abstracts: Workshop in Graz on Dissonance and Implicit Bias

I'll be presenting at the following workshop. There's a call for abstracts. Submit something and let's chat!

4th Fragmentation Workshop: Dissonance and Implicit Bias

Graz, 25-26 May 2017

The 4th Fragmentation Workshop: Dissonance and Implicit Bias is organized by the research project The Fragmented Mind and will take place at the University of Graz, Austria, on May 25-26, 2017. We welcome submissions of anonymized abstracts of 500–1000 words for 45 minutes presentations on any of the workshop topics — see below — made by December 15, 2016 at

Keynote speakers:
• Eric Schwitzgebel (UC Riverside)
• Jules Holroyd (Sheffield)

It is highly disputed what the psychological underpinnings of assertion-behavior dissonance and implicit bias are. Under some interpretations, these are special cases of belief fragmentation, i.e., the view that a single agent has various separate systems of belief, which need not make for a consistent and deductively closed overall system. Under other interpretations, dissonance does not represent a state of fragmentation nor does implicit bias involve the presence of conflicting beliefs.

The objective of this workshop is to explore the adequacy and limitations of the notion of fragmentation (as advanced, for example, by Davidson, Lewis, Stalnaker, and Rayo), when applied to cases of dissonance and implicit bias.

(Non-exhaustive) list of topics:
• What are the psychological underpinnings of assertion-behavior dissonance?
• What are the psychological underpinnings of implicit bias?
• Are dissonance and implicit bias overlapping phenomena?
• Does fragmentation help explaining cases of assertion-behavior dissonance?
• Does fragmentation help explaining implicit bias?

Submission format:
Submissions of anonymous abstracts of 500-1000 words (excluding bibliography), prepared for anonymous peer-review, should be sent to by December 15, 2016. Abstracts should be submitted in pdf format, in English.

Authors will be notified of decisions by January 31, 2017. Please indicate the title of your paper in your email.

Some support for travel and accommodation might be available.

Organizers: Cristina Borgoni, Dirk Kindermann, Andrea Onofri


The Jerk Quiz

Take this simple quiz to figure out if you're a jerk!

(George Musser and the folks at Nautilus thought it would be fun to have a quiz alongside my essay "How To Tell If You're a Jerk", but we didn't quite pull it off before release of the issue.)

The Jerk Quiz

1. You're waiting in a line at the pharmacy. What are you thinking?
(a) Did I forget anything on my shopping list?
(b) Should I get ibuprofen or acetaminophen? I never can keep them straight.
(c) Oh no, I'm so sorry, I didn’t mean to bump you.
(d) These people are so damned incompetent! Why do I have to waste my time with these fools?

2. At the staff meeting, Peter says that your proposal probably won't work. You think:
(a) Hm, good point but I bet I could fix that.
(b) Oh, Loretta is smiling at Peter again. I guess she agrees with him and not me, darn it. But I still think my proposal is probably better than his.
(c) Shoot, Peter's right. I should have thought of that!
(d) Peter the big flaming ass. He's playing for the raise. And all the other idiots here are just eating it up!

3. You see a thirty-year-old guy walking down the street with steampunk goggles, pink hair, dirty sneakers, and badly applied red lipstick. You think:
(a) Different strokes for different folks!
(b) Hey, is that a new donut shop on the corner?
(c) I wish I were that brave. I bet he knows how to have fun.
(d) Get a job already. And at least learn how to apply the frickin lipstick.

4. At a stop sign, a pedestrian is crossing slowly in front of your car. You think:
(a) Wow, this tune on my radio has a fun little beat!
(b) My boss will have my hide if I'm late again. Why did I hit snooze three times?
(c) She looks like she's seen a few hard knocks. I bet she has a story or two to tell.
(d) Can't this bozo walk any faster? What a lazy slob!

5. The server at the restaurant forgets that you ordered the hamburger with chili. There's the burger on the table before you, with no chili. You think:
(a) Whatever. I'll get the chili next time. Fewer calories anyway.
(b) Shoot, no chili. I really love chili on a burger! Argh, let's get this fixed. I'm hungry!
(c) Wow, how crowded this place is. She looks totally slammed. I'll try catch her to fix the order next time she swings by.
(d) You know, there's a reason that people like her are stuck in loser jobs like this. If I was running this place I'd fire her so fast you'd hear the sonic boom two miles down the street.

How many times did you answer (d)?

0: Sorry, I don't believe you.

1-2: Yeah, fair enough. Same with the rest of us.

3-4: Ouch. Is this really how you see things most of the time? I hope you're just being too hard on yourself.

5: Yes, you are being too hard on yourself. Either that, or please step forward for the true-blue jerk gold medal!

(As my scoring system suggests, this quiz is for entertainment and illustration purposes only. I don't take it seriously as a diagnostic measure!)

Waec Gce 2016 Biology Practical Answers – Nov/Dec Expo

For Biology 1and1Edu™ ¯ ¯↓

VI-node/leaf stalk

I-it carries out reproduction
II-it provides a space for the growth of flower
V-holds other part of the leaf together
VIII-aids the absorption of sunlight ie the photosynthesis


-it has one seed leaf
-it has a parallel vein

-leaf has net vein
-it has two seeded leaf

A-rice,oil palm

-A has parallel vein while B has net vein
-A has one seed leaf while B has two seed leaves
-A has vibrous root while B has tap root
-A has the female and male parts of the flower at different part while B has both the male and female parts at the same part of the flower
-A is a grass with long and narrow leaves while B is a legume with broad leaves

-They are both flowering plants
-They are both seed plants
-They are both vascular plants


Food web

Producer(grass)->primary consumer(cane rat,grasshopper,mouse)->secondary consumer(fox,lizard,snake)->tertiary consumer(man,hawk,Eagle)

I-The population of the lizards will increase
II-More energy would be passed into the chain in the web containing grasshopper,lizards,hawk and man
III-Less energy might be available to mouse
I-The population of lizards would decrease
II-Less energy would be passed into the chain containing lizards
III-more energy would be available to mouse and cane rat

-Grass ->mouse ->Hawk->man
-Grass->mouse->snake ->eagle



II-cytoplasmic connection
VI-nucleic material
VII-slimy capsule


-Each cell can function as an independent living cell capable of cellular differentiation
-They can exist as colony or filament on their own

-C doesnt have cell wall while E has cell wall
-C doesnt have chloroplast while E has chloroplast
-C doesnt have pyrenoid while E has pyrenoid

-They are producers
-They produce organic matter for agriculture
-They are used as food for man
-They are decomposers

-Rat flea/plague



-They both posses nucleic materials
-They are both one celled that are capable of independent life

Confirm Waec Gce 2016 Biology Obj And Theory Answers – Nov/Dec Expo For Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone & Gambia


Let us get set for the Waec Gce Next paper
Friday , 2nd September, 2016
Biology (Essay& Obj) 9.30am -12.00pm

2a )
Enzyme is a substance produced by a living organism
which acts as a catalyst to bring about a specific
biochemical reaction.
2aii )
i)all enzymes are proteins .
ii )Enzymes possess great catalytic power .
iii )Enzymes are highy specific .
iv )Enzymes show varying degree of specificities .
v )Absolute specificity where the enzymes
react specifically with only one substrate.
2b )
Pancreatic fluid or juice contains digestive enzymes
that pass to the small intestine where they help to
further break down the carbohydrates , proteins, and
lipids (fats ) in the chyme. Pancreatic juice is a liquid
secreted by the pancreas , which contains a variety of
enzymes including trypsinogen,chymotrypsinogen ,
elastase , carboxypeptidase , pancreatic lipase,
nucleases, and amylase . Pancreatic juice is alkaline
in nature due to the high concentration of
bicarbonate ions . This is useful in neutralizing the
acidic gastric acid, allowing for effective enzymic
2c )
most importantly ,sun provides vitamin D which helps
the body absorb the minerals calcium and
phosphorus from the food that the boy eat , which is
important for bone health . While milk is the main
source of dietary calcium . Calcium is a major bone
mineral, mandatory for bone health .
2d )
i)Photosynthesis conducted by plants is also an
important part of the carbon cycle.
ii )It releases oxygen needed for breathing
iii )It serves as source of food manufacturing for
human rights
iv )It provides sources for fuel through plants
v )it help to balance the ecosystem
6a )
i)mimicry is a similarity of one species to another that
protects one or both .
An example of this is the cuckoo bee.
ii )Camouflage is the structural adaption that enables
specie s to blend with their surroundings; allows a
species to avoid detection by predators .
6b )
i)Their legs are adapted for running
ii )They adapts the leathery forewings as
temina to provide a protective cover for the second
set of wings .
iii )they evolved mandibles to bite and chew solid
food .
6c )
i)It reduces the quality and quantity of the crops
ii )it reduces their productivity
6d )
i)by refrigerating
ii )by salting
iii )by drying
iv )by the use of silos
6e )
i)in medicine
ii )in crime detection
i)Inadequate resources
ii )Small planting space
iii )
6g )
Succession is the change in either species composition
, structure , or architecture of vegetation through
6h )
i)it kills microorganisms
ii )It leads to soil erosion
iii )It lost of soil nutrients
i)bacteria – Streptococcus
ii)Fungi- Basidiomycota
iii)Virus- Coxsackievirus
iv)proper sanitation
v)Proper hygiene

WAEC GCE 2016 SPECIMENS FOR AGRIC, BIOLOGY, PHYSIC, CHEMISTRY - - - Waec Gce For Nigeria, Ghana & Sierra Leone

Alternative To Practical Specimens Question/ Answer Now Available For Waec Gce 2016, GHANA, NIGERIA AND SEIRRA LEONE ANSWERS


Group I

Specimen A: A slice of
fresh bread.
Specimen B: A slice of bread with mould.
Specimen C: Longitudinal section of hard boiled egg with the shell intact.
Specimen D: Freshly laid egg.
Specimen E: Transverse section of orange/any citrus fruit.
Specimen F: Freshly procured green leafy vegetables
Specimen G: Fresh stomach of a Goat/Sheep/Cow(small piece)
Specimen H: Fresh Liver of a Goat/Sheep/Cow (small piece)
Specimen J: Fresh Small Intestine of a Goat/Sheep/Cow(small piece).
Specimen K: Fresh Lung of a Goat/Sheep/Cow (small piece).
Specimen L: Fresh Gall bladder of a Goat/Sheep/Cow(with the fluid intact)
Specimen M: Fresh Kidney of a Goat/Sheep/Cow (Longitudinal Section; bilaterally symmetrical)

Group II

Specimen N: Some Rheodiscolor leaves(about 3cm² in diameter in a petridish containing water)
Specimen P: Palm fruit (with the outer covering intact)
Specimen Q: Tridax plant (put in a petri dish)
Specimen R: Grasshopper

Group III

Specimen S: Toad(wet preserved)
Specimen T: Freshly uprooted grass species
Specimen U: Brightly coloured lizard(wet preserved)
Specimen V: A branch of Cactus plant
Specimen W: Locust (wet preserved)

Note: (i) Specimen N, P, Q and R are peculiar to candidates in Ghana only and should not be provided for candidates in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.

(ii) specimens S, T, U, V and W are peculiar to candidates in Nigeria,
Sierra Leone, and the Gambia only and should not be provided for candidates in Ghana.

(iii) All specimens can be provided as group specimens for fifteen(15) candidates.

(iv) All specimens in each group must carry individual labels(e.g A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, K, L, M in Group I)

(i) glass jar cover or petridish;
(ii) scalpel or razor blade;
(iii) a beaker;
(iv) a pair of forceps;
(v) plain white sheet of paper ;
(vi) magnifying lens/hand lens ;
(vii) test tubes;
(viii) iodine solution;
(ix) white tiles.


(1) In addition to the fittings and reagents normally contained in a chemistry laboratory, the following apparatus and materials will be required by each candidate

(a) one burette of 50cm3 capacity
(b) one pipette, either 20cm3 or 25cm3.
All candidates at one centre must use pipettes of the same volume. These should be clean and free from grease
(c) The usual apparatus for titration
(d) the usual apparatus and reagents for qualitative work including the following with all reagents appropriately labelled.

(i) glass rod
(ii) aqueous ammonia
(iii) dilute hydrochloric acid
(iv) dilute sodium hydroxide solution
(v) barium chloride solution
(vi) dilute trioxonitrate (V) acid
(vii) silver trioxonitrate (V) solution
(viii) dilute tetraoxosulphate (VI) acid
(e) glass rod
(f) filtration apparatus
(g) spatula
(h) two boiling tubes
(f) four test tubes
(g) wash bottle containing distilled/deionized water
(h) mathematical table/calculator.


(2) Each candidate should be supplied with the following, where ‘n’ is the candidate’s serial number.
(a) 150cm3 of ethanedioic acid (H2C204) solution in a corked flask or bottled labelled ‘An’.

These should all be the same containing 4.50g of H2C204 per dm3 of solution.

(b) 150cm3 of potassium tetraoxomanganate (VII) solution in a corked flask or bottle labelled ‘Bn’.

These should all be the
same containing 3.16g of KMnO4 per dm3 of solution.

(c) One spatulaful of a uniform mixture of NaCl and ZnCO3 in a specimen bottle labelled ‘Cn’.

The components of the mixture should be in the ratio 1:1 by mass.





Uniform metre rule;
Knife edge; 100g mass
labelled N; 50g mass
labelled M; Thread 2m; Sellotape;


Beaker (0-500cm3);
Thermometer (0-110
degree C);
Measuring cylinder
50g mass;

A pair of tongs; Bunsen burner (source of heat);
Tripod stand; Water, wire gauze, stirrer; Stop clock/watch; Flat plank (10cm x 15cm);


Variable d.c power supply;
(Battery rack capable of containing five 1.5V dry cells in series);
2 ohms standard resistor; Key;
Ammeter (0-3A);
Voltmeter (0-5V);
Six connecting wires.