What positions (or whole debates) in philosophy do you find most baffling? For each such case, how confident are you that your bafflement is warranted -- that the view or debate in question just doesn't make any damned sense -- as opposed to just being due to a lack of understanding on your part?
I'll offer a few examples that spring to my mind, and encourage others to comment with either (i) more examples of philosophy that you find baffling (and feel free to pick views of mine -- I promise not to take it personally!), or else (ii) defenses of any identified examples, to help those of us who initially find them "baffling" to better understand why they are (in your view) actually well-motivated after all.
So, to get the ball rolling...
(1) Moral views on which "the numbers don't matter", such that you should flip a coin to decide whether (in a forced choice situation) to save a group of five people or a distinct (non-overlapping) group of just one person.
There are plenty of non-utilitarian views that I "get". I'm positively sympathetic to the view that we should be partial towards our loved ones. I think that traditional deontological constraints (and "rights") ultimately reflect an unjustiable status-quo bias, but I at least understand why some people find them plausible. But the idea that, even when there are no potential rights violations at stake, nor any "special obligations" (e.g. to loved ones), so that the only reasons left to consider are reasons of beneficence... that still we shouldn't do what's best, but rather ensure that the few are just as likely to get helped as the many... that just seems nuts to me. [99% confidence that the view is indeed objectively nuts.]
(2) Welfare hedonism. It's not as nuts as the above, but I don't really get the motivation for it, in light of the obvious psychological fact that we care about all sorts of stuff besides just our own (or even others') happiness. I would have thought that the "default" view of wellbeing would be some kind of preferentism, and if you think (as I do) that some ultimate preferences are more reasonable than others, then you should shift to some kind of pluralist objectivism. I can get thinking that there are certain defective preferences (to do objectively pointless things like count blades of grass) that don't contribute to your wellbeing. I can't understand why anyone would think that every non-hedonistic preference (including for love, friendship, etc.) is defective in this way.
[98% confident that hedonism is false; 80% confident that it is nuts, in the technical sense of being "significantly less respectable -- or worthy of being taken seriously -- than it is currently generally regarded as being."]
(3) Candidate Pseudo-debates: I'm sure every philosopher has some suspicions about debates that seem to them merely terminological, and not really about anything of substance. Some I'm dubious about include:
- (i) debates about mereology and composition -- whether there really are tables, or just atoms-arranged-tablewise, that kind of thing. [80% confident there's no "there" there.]
- (ii) representationalism vs direct realism about perception [75% confident it's all terminological]
- (iii) epistemology focused on "knowledge" (as opposed to, say, rational credences) [70% confidence that knowledge is not an important concept, and epistemology would do better to focus elsewhere.]
I'm sure there are more, but those are the examples that initially spring to mind. (But I'm open to having my mind changed, if you disagree with any of my assessments...) Your turn!