What is it with philosophers and dogs? This week I discovered that my new colleague has two dogs. It then dawned on me that in all the philosophy departments I worked in over the past twenty years - six of them if my memory serves me well - this is the first time that someone other than me has owned a dog. In fact, philosophers and animals don't, in my experience, seem to mix very well at all. To the extent they have animals in their home, they are cats. But even these are pretty thin on the ground. Could this general unfamiliarity be the reason we philosophers often hold ridiculous views about animals? I've been re-reading Davidson's arguments on animals and beliefs this week (in particular the paper 'Rational animals'), which argues that the former can't have the latter, and have been struck by just how bad are the arguments - these coming from someone who I wouldn't normally associate with bad arguments. Even Davidson realizes his arguments aren't good ones - he keeps putting the word 'argument' (when he refers to his 'argument') in scare quotes.
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