We all have beliefs to the effect that if a certain thing were to happen a certain other thing would happen. We also believe that some things simply must be so, with no possibility of having been otherwise. And in acting intentionally we all take certain things to be good reason to believe or do certain things. In this book Barry Stroud argues that some beliefs of each of these kinds are indispensable to our having any conception of a world (...) at all. That means no one could consistently dismiss all beliefs of these kinds as merely ways of thinking that do not describe how things really are in the world as it is independently of us and our responses. But the unacceptability of any such negative 'unmasking' view does not support a satisfyingly positive metaphysical 'realism'. No metaphysical satisfaction is available either way, given the conditions of our holding the beliefs whose metaphysical status we wish to understand. This does not mean we will stop asking the metaphysical question. But we need a better understanding of how it can have whatever sense it has for us. This challenging volume takes up these large, fundamental questions in clear language accessible to a wide philosophical readership. (shrink)
A brief discussion of the ways in which awareness of and sensitivity to the history of philosophy can contribute to epistemology even if epistemology is understood as a distinctively philosophical and not primarily historical enterprise.
Abstract: This paper is an attempt to identify and to suggest reasons to reject those assumptions about the nature and scope of perceptual knowledge that appear to make an unacceptable scepticism the only strictly defensible answer to the philosophical problem of knowledge of the world in general. The suggestion is that our knowing things about the world around us by perception can be satisfactorily explained only if we can be understood to sometimes perceive that such-and-such is so, where what we (...) perceive to be so is the very state of the world that we thereby know to be so. This is not proposed as a better answer to the philosophical problem, but as a way of seeing how that problem as traditionally understood could not really present a threat to anyone who can think about the world at all. (shrink)
Dispositional theories of the colours of objects identify an object’s having a certain colour with its being such that it would produce perceptions of certain kinds in perceivers of certain kinds under certain specified conditions. Without doubting that objects have dispositions to produce perceptions of certain kinds, this paper questions whether the relevant kinds of perceptions, perceivers, and conditions can be specified in a way that (i) does not rely on acceptance of any objects as being coloured in a non-dispositional (...) sense and (ii) secures the necessity of the identity between an object’s having the disposition so specified and its having the colour in question. Accepting any theory that looked as if it succeeded on both these counts would require an explanation of why a parallel identity does not hold for an object’s disposition to produce, e.g., perceptions of shape. (shrink)
Meaning, Understanding, and Practice is a selection of the most notable essays of leading contemporary philosopher Barry Stroud on a set of topics central to analytic philosophy. In this collection, Stroud offers penetrating studies of meaning, understanding, necessity, and the intentionality of thought. Throughout he asks how much can be expected from a philosophical account of one's understanding of the meaning of something, and questions whether such an account can succeed without implying that the person understands many other things as (...) well. Most of the essays work with ideas derived from Wittgenstein, and five of the essays focus specifically on Wittgenstein's philosophy. Stroud's helpful introduction draws out the recurring themes he pursues and explains how his ideas and aims have developed over the years. (shrink)
Since the 1970s Barry Stroud has been one of the most original contributors to the philosophical study of human knowledge. This volume presents the best of Stroud's essays in this area. Throughout, he seeks to clearly identify the question that philosophical theories of knowledge are meant to answer, and the role scepticism plays in making sense of that question. In these seminal essays, he suggests that people pursuing epistemology need to concern themselves with whether philosophical scepticism is true or false. (...) Stroud's discussion of these fundamental questions is essential reading for anyone whose work touches on the subject of human knowledge. (shrink)
We say "the grass is green" or "lemons are yellow" to state what everyone knows. But are the things we see around us really colored, or do they only look that way because of the effects of light rays on our eyes and brains? Is color somehow "unreal" or "subjective" and dependent on our human perceptions and the conditions under which we see things? Distinguished scholar Barry Stroud investigates these and related questions in The Quest for Reality. In this long-awaited (...) book, he examines what a person would have to do and believe in order to reach the conclusion that everyone's perceptions and beliefs about the color of things are "illusions" and do not accurately represent the way things are in the world as it is independently of us. Arguing that no such conclusion could be consistently reached, Stroud finds that the conditions of a successful unmasking of color cannot all be fulfilled. The discussion extends beyond color to present a serious challenge to many other philosophical attempts to discover the way things really are. A model of subtle, elegant, and rigorous philosophical writing, this study will attract a wide audience from all areas of philosophy. (shrink)
This book raises questions about the nature of philosophy by examining the source and significance of one central philosophical problem: how can we know anything about the world around us? Stroud discusses and criticizes the views of such philosophers as Descartes, Kant, J.L. Austin, G.E. Moore, R. Carnap, W.V. Quine, and others.