Adam Morton

Adam Morton a professor of logic at the University of Bristol, is the author of Frames of Mind and A Guide through the Theory of Knowledge. He is now working on formal logic and on the classification of the emotions.


Adam Morton, 18 April 1985

It would be nice to know what to believe. In many areas of opinion, though psychology is a particularly good example, it is easy for an idea to be attractive, sometimes almost irresistibly so, without there being much reason for thinking that it is true. If epistemology existed – a science of evidence – it would sort these things out for us, and tell us when the evidence really backs up our inclinations. But, as seems with hindsight inevitable, epistemologies are as hard to evaluate as anything else. And so instead of asking, ‘Should I believe it?’ one often asks apparently easier questions: ‘What kind of reasons are these?’ ‘How does the evidence for this theory compare with the evidence for this other theory?’ Or simply: ‘Is this science?’’

What we say when

Adam Morton, 1 April 1983

This is the third collection of Randolph Quirk’s occasional pieces to appear in ten years. Like its predecessors, it’s a good read: each essay is short and its argument easy to follow, each contains a good joke and an amusingly bad one, and each makes a definite point about language. The point is often one which could not very easily be made in a more serious context, not because the point is irresponsible or unscholarly but because it is conjectural. He puts his guesses over so lightly one hardly sees that one is being asked to think about something difficult and indefinite. For this reason the writing is sometimes rather coy: you feel a conclusion approaching, the exposition leads up to it, there is a quick hint, and then … a joke, a nice example, an elegant phrase distract you back to the conversational mode.

Frege and his Rivals

Adam Morton, 19 August 1982

Philosophy is a bitchy subject. That is not to say that philosophers are nastier to each other in print than people in other subjects are, but that in philosophy the distinction between academic discussion and personal attack is more subtle: it is harder in philosophy to tell when the attack is on a writer’s motives rather than his work. Michael Dummett, in these two books on Frege (and there is more to come), evaluates the views of a fair number of other writers, many of whose errors he considers to border on the perverse, and in so doing finds himself on the boundary between comment and invective. Sometimes he succeeds admirably in showing why he thinks someone thoroughly mistaken without becoming at all splenetic; sometimes he fails.

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