• Keith Lehrer
Part of the Profiles book series (PROF, volume 2)


My study of philosophy began at the University of Minnesota in 1953. My first course was taught by a graduate student, Juarez Paz, who has subsequently become a distinguished academic in his native country, Guatemala. I remember very distinctly what question it was that sparked my curiosity and settled my choice of career. We were reading Candide by Voltaire. Juarez Paz, who was studying emotivism in preparation for his dissertation, suggested that when Pangloss described the horrors of the world and said, “This is the best of all possible worlds’, what Pangloss said added nothing further to his description of world. Pangloss is making no further claim about the world when he says that it is best, or the best possible, he is, Juarez Paz suggested, expressing his approval of the world. Most members of the class thought that this opinion was perverse, that Pangloss was making an important, and false, claim about the world. I was convinced that his words added nothing whatever to his description of the world. I was sure I had a fundamental insight into morality and avidly defended the idea in subsequent classroom discussions. Whatever the merits of the idea, I was enraptured. Philosophy had got her bite on me, and though I feigned uncertainty, my choice of career was settled from that moment.


Common Sense Social Choice Probability Assignment Epistemic Justification False Proposition 
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© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1980

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  • Keith Lehrer

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