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Profile: David Ebrey (Northwestern University)
  1. David Ebrey (2014). Meno's Paradox in Context. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (1):4-24.
    I argue that Meno’s Paradox targets the type of knowledge that Socrates has been looking for earlier in the dialogue: knowledge grounded in explanatory definitions. Socrates places strict requirements on definitions and thinks we need these definitions to acquire knowledge. Meno’s challenge uses Socrates’ constraints to argue that we can neither propose definitions nor recognize them. To understand Socrates’ response to the challenge, we need to view Meno’s challenge and Socrates’ response as part of a larger disagreement about the value (...)
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  2. David Ebrey (2014). Making Room for Matter: Material Causes in the Phaedo and the Physics. Apeiron 47 (2):245–265.
    It is often claimed that Socrates rejects material causes in the Phaedo because they are not rational or not teleological. In this paper I argue for a new account: Socrates ultimately rejects material causes because he is committed to each change having a single cause. Because each change has a single cause, this cause must, on its own, provide an adequate explanation for the change. Material causes cannot provide an adequate explanation on their own and so Socrates rejects them. Aristotle (...)
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  3. David Ebrey (2013). A New Philosophical Tool in the Meno: 86e-87c. Ancient Philosophy 33 (1):75-96.
    I argue that the technique Socrates describes in the Meno at 86e-87c allows him to make progress without definitions, even while accepting that definitions are necessary for knowledge. Some contend that the technique involves provisionally accepting a claim. I argue, instead, that it provides a secure biconditional that one can use to reduce the question one cares care about to a new question that one thinks will be easier to answer.
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  4. David Ebrey (2009). Review of Iakovos Vasiliou, Aiming at Virtue in Plato. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (8).
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  5. David Ebrey, Aristotle's Motivation for Matter.
    Aristotle’s Motivation for Matter Why does Aristotle make matter so central to his account of the natural world, making it a principle of nature and one of the four causes? Although there is considerable interest in how Aristotle conceives of matter, scholars rarely investigate why he thinks of it as fundamental to the natural world. Some simply ask why Aristotle thinks there must be matter (without asking how this fits into his account of the natural world). Other interpreters do not (...)
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