Stephen E. Braude
In recent years philosophers have made a number of interesting attempts to specify criteria for a phenomenon's paranormality, with an eye to getting clear on what the proper domain of parapsychological research is. It seems to me that the time has come to examine these attempts in some detail, not only in order to analyze the respective virtues and defects of the different accounts, but also in the hope of lending order to the rather sprawling body of dialectic facing the student of parapsychology. In this paper I shall examine critically some leading accounts of paranormality and some ways of remedying their defects.
Most people operate with a rather vague tripartite pre-theoretic distinction between ordinary phenomena on one hand, unusual or rare phenomena on another, and finally, those phenomena which -- whether or not they are rare -- are regarded as downright weird, bizarre, or other-wordly. To some extent this pre-theoretic distinction matches another distinction of interest to us -- namely, the not-so-pre-theoretic distinction between normal, abnormal, and paranormal phenomena. Since the customary use of the term 'paranormal' and its cognates presupposes this latter distinction,