Against the background of a new interest in empires past and present and an inflation of the concept in modern political language and beyond, the article first looks at the use of the concept as an analytical marker in historical and current interpretations of empires. With a focus on Western European cases, the concrete semantics of empire as a key concept in modern European history is analyzed, combining a reconstruction of some diachronic trends with synchronic differentiations.
This paper charts some early history of the possible worlds semantics for modal logic, starting with the pioneering work of Prior and Meredith. The contributions of Geach, Hintikka, Kanger, Kripke, Montague, and Smiley are also discussed.
This paper tries to show how the Fregean semantic framework, especially the notions of sense and tone, can be used to explain certain features of history. Following Michael Dummett's interpretation of Gottlob Frege's notion of meaning, it is possible to conceive of historical works as proposing particular modes of presentation of past events. In fact, alternative historical works about the same past events could be viewed as differing in what sense and tone they express. In this paper, I first (...) outline some of the points and distinctions made by Frege. Second, I examine how the notions of sense, reference, and tone can be applied in semantic analysis of historical work. Finally, I point to a certain similarity between the Fregean framework and some of the views presented in the recent philosophy of history. My account suggests how to make use of some of the classical insights of Frege when dealing with the semantic issues of historical work. (shrink)
This major publication is a history of the semantic tradition in philosophy from the early nineteenth century through its incarnation in the work of the Vienna Circle, the group of logical positivists that emerged in the years 1925-1935 in Vienna who were characterised by a strong commitment to empiricism, a high regard for science, and a conviction that modern logic is the primary tool of analytic philosophy. In the first part of the book, Alberto Coffa traces the roots of (...) logical positivism in a semantic tradition that arose in opposition to Kant's theory that a priori knowledge is based on pure intuition and the constitutive powers of the mind. In Part II, Coffa chronicles the development of this tradition by members and associates of the Vienna Circle. Much of Coffa's analysis draws on the unpublished notes and correspondence of many philosophers. The book, however, is not merely a history of the semantic tradition from Kant 'to the Vienna Station'. Coffa also critically reassesses the role of semantic notions in understanding the ground of a priori knowledge and its relation to empirical knowledge and questions the turn the tradition has taken since Vienna. (shrink)
Situation semantics was originally conceived as an alternative to extensional model theory and possible world semantics especially suited to the analysis of various problematic constructions, including naked-infinitive perception verbs (Barwise 1981) and belief-reports (Barwise and Perry 1981a, 1981b). In its earliest forms, the central ideas were.
This article analyzes how the relationship between philosophy and history has been conceived within the study of political thought, and how different ways of conceiving this relationship in turn have affected the definition of the subject matter as well as the choice of methods within this field. My main argument is that the ways in which we conceive this relationship is dependent on the assumptions we make about the ontological status of concepts and their meaning. I start by discussing (...) the widespread view that philosophy and history ought to be viewed as distinct if not incompatible ways of studying political thought, and then go on to describe the view that philosophical and historical approaches should be conceived of as identical or inseparable. I end this article by suggesting that these approaches rather should be viewed as mutually constitutive for the benefit of a more coherent study of political thought. (shrink)
"For riding is required a horse"--"I promise you a horse"--Chimeras and imaginary objects--Theories of the proposition--The structure of mental language--Mental language and the unity of propositions--"Do words signify ideas or things?"--Locke on language--The doctrine of exponibilia in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries--Multiple quantification and the use of special quantifiers in early sixteenth century logic--Thomas Bricot(d. 1516) and the Liar paradox--Will Socrates cross the bridge?
Fodor’s Informational Semantics states that the content of a representation depends on the counterfactual relation between the representation and the represented. However, his theory suffers from the psychological explanation problem and the indeterminacy problem raised by twin cases. In response to these problems, Fodor has introduced narrow content and a mixed theory of content that combines a historical account with the counterfactual account. In The Elm and the Expert, he drops both of them for the reason that twin cases (...) are nomologically impossible. I argue that Fodor underestimates the persistence of the problems raised by twin cases. Consequently, I contend that Fodor has to keep both the narrow content and the historical account. (shrink)
This book discusses key philosophical concepts and ideologies, including ontology, epistemology, logic, semantics, moral and political philosophy, theology and aesthetics during classical antiquity. Karsten Friis Johansen charts the history of ancient philosophy from the mythological oral tradition, Homer and early tragedy, to the giants of Plato and Aristotle through to paganism and the genesis of Christianity. A History of Ancient Philosophy also presents detailed analysis of individual ancient philosophers and interpretations and commentary on key philosophical passages.
This volume of essays is an important introduction to the thought of one of the twentieth century's most significant yet underappreciated philosophers, Richard McKeon. The originator of philosophical pluralism, McKeon made extraordinary contributions to philosophy, to international relations, and to theory-formation in the communication arts, aesthetics, the organization of knowledge, and the practical sciences. This collection, which includes a philosophical autobiography as well as the out-of-print title essay "Freedom and History" and a previously unpublished essay on "Philosophic Semantics (...) and Philosophic Inquiry," is a testimony to the range and systematic power of McKeon's thinking for the social sciences and the humanities. (shrink)
In this paper we offer an exegesis of Hilary Putnam’s classic argument against the brain-in-avat hypothesis offered in his Reason, truth and history (1981). In it, Putnam argues that we cannot be brains in a vat because the semantics of the situation make it incoherent for anyone to wonder whether they are a brain a vat. Putnam’s argument is that in order for ‘I am a brain in a vat’ to be true, the person uttering it would have (...) to be able to refer successfully to those things: the vat, and the envatted brain. Putnam thinks that reference can’t be secured without relevant kinds of causal relations, which, if envatted, the brain would lack, and so, it fails to be able to meaningfully utter ‘I am a brain in a vat’. We consider the implications of Putnam’s arguments for the traditional sceptic. In conclusion, we discuss the role of Putnam’s arguments against the brain in a vat hypothesis in his larger defense of his own internal realism against metaphysical realism. (shrink)
The analytical philosophy of the last hundred years has been heavily influenced by a doctrine to the effect that the key to the correct understanding of reality is captured syntactically in the ‘Fa’ (or, in more sophisticated versions, in the ‘Rab’) of standard firstorder predicate logic. Here ‘F’ stands for what is general in reality and ‘a’ for what is individual. Hence “f(a)ntology”. Because predicate logic has exactly two syntactically different kinds of referring expressions—‘F’, ‘G’, ‘R’, etc., and ‘a’, ‘b’, (...) ‘c’, etc.—so reality must consist of exactly two correspondingly different kinds of entity: the general (properties, concepts) and the particular (things, objects). We describe the historical influence of this view, and also show how standard first-order predicate logic can be used for the logical formalization of a more adequate “six category ontology”, which recognizes, at the level of both particulars and universals, not only things or objects but also events and qualities. (shrink)
To answer the question of what difference the philosophy of history makes to the philosophy of law this paper begins by calling attention to the way that Ronald Dworkin's interpretive theory of law is supposed to upend legal positivism. My analysis shows how divergent theories about what law and the basis of legal authority is are supported by divergent points of view about what concepts are, how they operate within social practices, and how we might best give account of (...) such meanings. Such issues are widely debated in the philosophy of history but are often overlooked in jurisprudential circles. When the legal positivist approach to meanings is contrasted with Dworkin's interpretivism it is clear that what is needed is an alternative to both, in the form of what we might call "historical meanings" and "historical interpretation". While Dworkin's interpretivism gets it right that legal positivism is an inadequate philosophy of law to the extent that it is committed to a "criterial semantics" view of concepts, this paper argues that post-positivism in the philosophy of law need not entail a normative jurisprudence, as Dworkin would have it. (shrink)
When in 1980, on the Third Amsterdam Colloquium, Johan van Benthem read a paper with the title ‘Why is Semantics What?’ (cf. ), I was puzzled: Wasn’t it obvious what semantics is? Why did our concept of it stand in need of justification? Later, much later, I came to appreciate what Van Benthem was doing in this paper (and in some others). Questioning the ‘standard model’, the assumptions on which the working semanticists silently agree, Van Benthem opened up (...) a space of issues to be discussed, questions to be asked, routes to be explored, that had been hidden from view by the unreflective endorsement of just one possible, albeit fruitful way of doing semantics. History, by the way, has proven him right on many points: the monolithic approach that dominated formal semantics of natural language in the seventies, and which relied heavily on Montague’s seminal papers, has given way to a multitude of different ways of tackling semantic issues, using different formal techniques. Some limitations, in particular the almost exclusive focus on sentences as the primary units of analysis, have been overcome. In another respect, however, I feel that the message of Van Benthem’s paper has not caught on sufficiently. He urges semanticists to take more interest in the properties of their tools, arguing that such questions are important if we are to come to a real, deep understanding of what semantics is. Such ‘meta-level’ considerations, although certainly less scarce than they used to be, are still not an everyday concern of the working semanticist. (shrink)
Several attempts have been made recently to apply Darwinian evolutionary theory to the study of culture change and social history. The essential elements in such a theory are that variations occur in population, and that a process of selective retention operates during their replication and transmission. Location of such variable units in the semantic structure of cognition provides the individual psychological basis for an evolutionary theory of history. Selection operates on both the level of cognition and on its (...) phenotypic expression in action in relation to individual preferred sources of psychological satisfaction. Social power comprises the principal selective forces within the unintended consequences of action and through the struggle of individuals and groups in pursuit of opposing interests. The implication for historiography are methodological in that evolutionary theory of history sharpens the focus of explanatory situational analysis, and interpretive in that it provides a paradigmatic metanarrative for the understanding of historical change. (shrink)
The basic notions in Prior’s Ockhamist and Peircean logics of branching-time are the notion of moment and that of history (or course of events). In the tree semantics, histories are defined as maximal linearly ordered sets of moments. In the geometrical approach, both moments and histories are primitive entities and there is no set theoretical (and ontological) dependency of the latter on the former. In the topological approach, moments can be defined as the elements of a rank 1 (...) base of a non-Archimedean topology on the set of histories. In this paper, it will be shown that the topological approach, and hence the other approaches, can be reconstructed in a framework in which the basic notions are those of history and of relative closeness relation among histories. (shrink)
Why is two-dimensional semantics important? One can think of it as the most recent act in a drama involving three of the central concepts of philosophy: meaning, reason, and modality. First, Kant linked reason and modality, by suggesting that what is necessary is knowable a priori, and vice versa. Second, Frege linked reason and meaning, by proposing an aspect of meaning (sense) that is constitutively tied to cognitive signi?cance. Third, Carnap linked meaning and modality, by proposing an aspect of (...) meaning (intension) that is constitutively tied to possibility and necessity. (shrink)
I examine the consistency of Kant's notion of moral progress as found in his philosophy of history. To many commentators, Kant's very idea of moral development has seemed inconsistent with basic tenets of his critical philosophy. This idea has seemed incompatible with his claims that the moral law is unconditionally and universally valid, that moral agency is noumenal and atemporal, and that all humans are equally free. Against these charges, I argue not only that Kant's notion of moral development (...) is consistent, but also that the assumption of the possibility of moral progress is indispensible for Kant's moral theory. (shrink)
This paper concerns the applications of two-dimensional modal semantics to the explanation of the contents of speech and thought. Different interpretations and applications of the apparatus are contrasted. First, it is argued that David Kaplan's two-dimensional semantics for indexical expressions is different from the use that I made of a formally similar framework to represent the role of contingent information in the determination of what is said. But the two applications are complementary rather than conflicting. Second, my interpretation (...) of the apparatus is contrasted with that of David Chalmers, Frank Jackson, and David Lewis. It is argued that this difference reflects a contrast between internalist and externalist approaches to the problem of intentionality. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that Kant's philosophy of biology has crucial implications for our understanding of his philosophy of history, and that overlooking these implications leads to a fundamental misconstruction of his views. More precisely, I will show that Kant's philosophy of history is modelled on his philosophy of biology due to the fact that the development of the human species shares a number of peculiar features with the functioning of organisms, these features entailing (...) important methodological characteristics. From this main claim will follow three further claims: (1) Kant's teleological view of history is not simply based on ethical considerations that have to do with the moral progress of the human species; rather, it stems from his conception of teleology as developed in his philosophy of biology. (2) Kant's philosophy of history allows for the practice of scientific history. In this sense, Kant's view of history is not merely teleological but involves a mechanical (and thus empirical) element. (3) Just as teleology is useful for furthering mechanical accounts of biological phenomena, teleological history is useful for scientific history. (shrink)
What are the relationships between philosophy and the history of philosophy, the history of science and the philosophy of science? This selection of essays by Lorenz Krüger (1932-1994) presents exemplary studies on the philosophy of John Locke and Immanuel Kant, on the history of physics and on the scope and limitations of scientific explanation, and a realistic understanding of science and truth. In his treatment of leading currents in 20th century philosophy, Krüger presents new and original arguments (...) for a deeper understanding of the continuity and dynamics of the development of scientific theory. These result in significant consequences for the claim of the sciences that they understand reality in a rational manner. The case studies are complemented by fundamental thoughts on the relationship between philosophy, science, and their common history. (shrink)
I show the sense in which the concept of history as a human science affects our theory of the natural sciences and, therefore, our theory of the unity of the physical and human sciences. The argument proceeds by way of reviewing the effect of the Darwinian contribution regarding teleologism and of post-Darwinian paleonanthropology on the transformation of the primate members of Homo sapiens into societies of historied selves. The strategy provides a novel way of recovering the unity of the (...) sciences: by construing the physical sciences themselves as human sciences - and, therefore, as themselves historied. (shrink)
Abstract In this essay I trace the role of history in the philosophy of art from the early twentieth century to the present, beginning with the rejection of history by formalists like Clive Bell. I then attempt to show how the arguments of people like Morris Weitz and Arthur Danto led to a re-appreciation of history by philosophers of art such as Richard Wollheim, Jerrold Levinson, Robert Stecker and others.
To date, no satisfactory account of the connection between natural-scientific and historical explanation has been given, and philosophers seem to have largely given up on the problem. This paper is an attempt to resolve this old issue and to sort out and clarify some areas of historical explanation by developing and applying a method that will be called “pragmatic explication” involving the construction of definitions that are justified on pragmatic grounds. Explanations in general can be divided into “dynamic” and “static” (...) explanations, which are those that essentially require relations across time and those that do not, respectively. The problem of assimilating historical explanations concerns dynamic explanation, so a general analysis of dynamic explanation that captures both the structure of natural-scientific and historical explanation is offered. This is done in three stages: In the first stage, pragmatic explication is introduced and compared to other philosophical methods of explication. In the second stage pragmatic explication is used to tie together a series of definitions that are introduced in order to establish an account of explanation. This involves an investigation of the conditions that play the role in historiography that laws and statistical regularities play in the natural sciences. The essay argues that in the natural sciences, as well as in history, the model of explanation presented represents the aims and overarching structure of actual causal explanations offered in those disciplines. In the third stage the system arrived at in the preceding stage is filled in with conditions available to and relevant for historical inquiry. Further, the nature and treatment of causes in history and everyday life are explored and related to the system being proposed. This in turn makes room for a view connecting aspects of historical explanation and what we generally take to be causal relations. (shrink)
Although first published in 1969, the methodological views advanced in Quentin Skinner's “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas” remain relevant today. In his article Skinner suggests that it would be inappropriate to even attempt to write the history of any idea or concept. In support of this view, Skinner advances two arguments, one derived from the philosophy of the later Wittgenstein and the other from that of J. L. Austin. In this paper I focus on the (...) first of these arguments. I claim that the conclusion which Skinner draws from this particular argument does not necessarily follow and that an alternative assessment of the methodological significance of Wittgenstein's philosophy for historians of ideas is possible. On this alternative view, far from ruling out conceptual history, an appeal to the view of meaning set out in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations leads to a quite different conclusion, namely that the writing of such a history is arguably a necessary precondition for the elucidation of the meaning of a number of the core concepts in the canon of the history of political thought. Skinner's views have changed somewhat since 1969. Indeed, from the mid 1970s onwards he came to relax the strict opposition to the idea of conceptual history to which he was then committed. The paper concludes by noting that this evolution in Skinner's thinking has made him much more sympathetic than anybody reading “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas” would have imagined to the research project of the Begriffgeschichte School of conceptual history. (shrink)
Descriptive semantic theories purport to characterize the meanings of the expressions of languages in whatever complexity they might have. Foundational semantics purports to identify the kind of considerations relevant to establish that a given descriptive semantics accurately characterizes the language used by a given individual or community. Foundational Semantics I presents three contrasting approaches to the foundational matters, and the main considerations relevant to appraise their merits. These approaches contend that we should look at the contents of (...) speakers’ intuitions; at the deep psychology of users and its evolutionary history, as revealed by our best empirical theories; or at the personal-level rational psychology of those subjects. Foundational Semantics II examines a fourth view, according to which we should look instead at norms enforced among speakers. The two papers aim to determine in addition the extent to which the approaches are really rival, or rather complementary. (shrink)