Black and White each had doubts that the other existed, but for White the question had consequences. “At a minimum,” insisted Black from his seat on the tenure board, “Professor White should offer proof, before being declared permanent, that he temporarily is.” White replied, without indicating externally what his internal condition might be, that the question before the board was rightly “not whether White is but what White is,” as evidence for which his resume was “sufficient to form a justified true belief” of his qualification for the Epistemology chair. He clasped his hands behind his back and waited for the board’s reply. A board member coughed. White smelled peppermint. Black was unconvinced, or so White concluded from the smug look on Black’s face and the dismissive way he tossed the undisputed pages into the air. “The resume,” Black countered, was “evidence that paper exists, not White,” and that students who could be taught by paper would not pay tuition and therefore would not sustain White’s salary. “Perhaps,” Black suggested, “if all White can prove is his likelihood, he might agree to lecture on the likelihood that he will be paid?” Without replying directly, White suggested a thought experiment. “Close your eyes,” he told the board, “and the furniture of the world disappears.” The board closed their eyes. “This board room, your colleagues, the esteemed Chairman Black,” continued White, “even this gavel, solid though it seems to me whose eyes remain open, to you might be in doubt.” Black put out his hand and felt only the sound block on which the gavel had rested. He yanked his hand back and opened his eyes just as White brought the gavel loudly down. “Chairman Black has doubts,” White told the startled board, “but he will act as if gavels exist.”
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