The SocraticParadox (that only Socrates is wise, and only because only he recognizes our lack of wisdom) is explained, elaborated and defended. His philosophical scepticism is distinguished from others (Pyrrhonian, Cartesian, Humean, Kripkean Wittgenstein, etc.): the doubt concerns our understanding of our beliefs, not our justification for them; the doubt is a posteriori and inductive, not a priori. Post-Socratic philosophy confirms this scepticism: contra-Descartes, our ideas are not transparent to us; contra-Verificationism, no criterion distinguishes sense from (...) nonsense. The import of this scepticism for professional ethicists is examined. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Introduction; Acknowledgements; 1. Apology of Socratic studies; 2. Motivational intellectualism; 3. The 'prudential paradox'; 4. Wrongdoing and damage to the soul; 5. Educating the appetites and passions; 6. Virtue intellectualism; 7. Socrates and his intellectual heirs: Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics; Appendix: Is Plato's Gorgias consistent with the other early or Socratic dialogues?; Bibliography of works cited; Index of passages; General index.
Readers who are introduced to philosophical analysis by reading the early Platonic dialogues may be puzzled to find that Plato, in his middle and late periods, largely abandons the style of analysis characteristic of early Plato, namely, the 'Socratic elenchus'. This paper undertakes to solve the puzzle. In contrast to what is popularly called 'the Socratic method', the elenchus requires that Socrates, the lead investigator, not have a satisfactory answer to his 'What is F-ness?' question. Here is the (...) bind. Part of what motivates the elenctic inquiry is the natural assumption that one cannot identify F-things unless one has a satisfactory analysis of what it is to be F. But to test the adequacy of suggested analyses of F-ness one needs to be able to identify counterexamples. Together these two points present us with a 'catch-22', which is something the 'paradox of inquiry' in the Meno brings out. In the Theaetetus Plato makes clear that, although the elenchus, including Socratic ignorance, can refute philosophical theses arrived at by other means, it cannot, by itself, give birth to viable philosophical theses. Its legitimate role is therefore only propaedeutic. (shrink)
According to David Charles, in the Meno Socrates fleetingly distinguishes the signification from the essence question, but, in the end, he conflates them. Doing so, Charles thinks, both leads to Meno's paradox and prevents Socrates from answering it satisfactorily. I argue that Socrates doesn't conflate the two questions, and that his reply to Meno's paradox is more satisfactory than Charles allows.
Can God create a stone too heavy for him to lift? Can time have a beginning? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Riddles, paradoxes, conundrums--for millennia the human mind has found such knotty logical problems both perplexing and irresistible. Now Roy Sorensen offers the first narrative history of paradoxes, a fascinating and eye-opening account that extends from the ancient Greeks, through the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, and into the twentieth century. When Augustine asked what God was doing before (...) He made the world, he was told: "Preparing hell for people who ask questions like that." A Brief History of the Paradox takes a close look at "questions like that" and the philosophers who have asked them, beginning with the folk riddles that inspired Anaximander to erect the first metaphysical system and ending with such thinkers as Lewis Carroll, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and W.V. Quine. Organized chronologically, the book is divided into twenty-four chapters, each of which pairs a philosopher with a major paradox, allowing for extended consideration and putting a human face on the strategies that have been taken toward these puzzles. Readers get to follow the minds of Zeno, Socrates, Aquinas, Ockham, Pascal, Kant, Hegel, and many other major philosophers deep inside the tangles of paradox, looking for, and sometimes finding, a way out. Filled with illuminating anecdotes and vividly written, A Brief History of the Paradox will appeal to anyone who finds trying to answer unanswerable questions a paradoxically pleasant endeavor. (shrink)
This paper reconsiders certain of Kierkegaard's criticisms of Hegel's theoretical philosophy in the light of recent interpretations of the latter. The paper seeks to show how these criticisms, far from being merely parochial or rhetorical, turn on central issues concerning the nature of thought and what it is to think. I begin by introducing Hegel's conception of "pure thought" as this is distinguished by his commitment to certain general requirements on a properly philosophical form of inquiry. I then outline (...) Hegel's strategy for resolving a crucial problem he takes himself to face. For his account of the nature of thought depends upon the idea of a form of inquiry in which nothing whatsoever is presupposed; but this idea appears basically paradoxical inasmuch as the mere act of beginning to inquire in a certain way embodies an assumption about how it is appropriate to begin. Turning to Kierkegaard, I consider a key objection to the effect that Hegel's strategy for resolving this paradox depends on the incoherent idea of a purely reflexive act of thinking. Finally, I draw out some central features of the alternative account of "situated" thought and inquiry which Kierkegaard presents as distinctively Socratic. (shrink)
For contemporary democrats, Socrates is a paradox: he is both the paragon of intellectual integrity and the archenemy of democracy. In this essay, the author attempts to navigate this paradox. By offering a revised account of the Socratic elenchus and an examination of Socrates’ objections to democracy, the author proposes a view according to which Socrates provides a compelling image of democracy citizenship. This image is then used to criticize and inform current versions of deliberative democracy.
We shall evaluate two strategies for motivating the view that knowledge is the norm of belief. The first draws on observations concerning belief's aim and the parallels between belief and assertion. The second appeals to observations concerning Moore's Paradox. Neither of these strategies gives us good reason to accept the knowledge account. The considerations offered in support of this account motivate only the weaker account on which truth is the fundamental norm of belief.
Harman’s lottery paradox, generalized by Vogel to a number of other cases, involves a curious pattern of intuitive knowledge ascriptions: certain propositions seem easier to know than various higher-probability propositions that are recognized to follow from them. For example, it seems easier to judge that someone knows his car is now on Avenue A, where he parked it an hour ago, than to judge that he knows that it is not the case that his car has been stolen and (...) driven away in the last hour. Contextualists have taken this pattern of intuitions as evidence that ‘knows’ does not always denote the same relationship; subject-sensitive invariantists have taken this pattern of intuitions as evidence that non-traditional factors such as practical interests figure in knowledge; still others have argued that the Harman Vogel pattern gives us a reason to abandon the principle that knowledge is closed under known entailment. This paper argues that there is a psychological explanation of the strange pattern of intuitions, grounded in the manner in which we shift between an automatic or heuristic mode of judgment and a controlled or systematic mode. Understanding the psychology behind the pattern of intuitions enables us to see that the pattern gives us no reason to abandon traditional intellectualist invariantism. The psychological account of the paradox also yields new resources for clarifying and defending the single premise closure principle for knowledge ascriptions. (shrink)
We provide a 'verisimilitudinarian' analysis of the well-known Linda paradox or conjunction fallacy, i.e., the fact that most people judge the probability of the conjunctive statement "Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement" (B & F) as more probable than the isolated statement "Linda is a bank teller" (B), contrary to an uncontroversial principle of probability theory. The basic idea is that experimental participants may judge B & F a better hypothesis about Linda as (...) compared to B because they evaluate B & F as more verisimilar than B. In fact, the hypothesis "feminist bank teller", while less likely to be true than "bank teller", may well be a better approximation to the truth about Linda. (shrink)
One problem in the epistemology of disagreement (Kelly 2005, Feldman 2006, Christensen 2007) concerns peer disagreement, and the reasonable response to a situation in which you believe p and disagree with an “epistemic peer” of yours (more on which notion in a moment), who believes ~p. Another (Elga 2007, pp. 486-8, Kelly 2010, pp. 160-7) concerns serial peer disagreement, and the reasonable response to a situation in which you believe p1 … pn and disagree with an “epistemic peer” of yours, (...) who believes ~p1 … ~pn. A third, which has been articulated by Peter van Inwagen (2010, pp. 27-8) concerns multi-peer disagreement, and inquires about the reasonable response to a situation in which you believe p1 … pn and disagree with a group of “epistemic peers” of yours, who believe ~p1 … ~pn, respectively. We shall argue, however, that the problem of multi-peer disagreement is a variant on the preface paradox, and that because of this (pace van Inwagen) the problem poses no challenge to the so-called “steadfast view” in the epistemology of disagreement. We shall define some terminology (§1), present van Inwagen’s challenge to the “steadfast view” (§2), present and diagnose the preface paradox (§3), argue that van Inwagen’s challenge relies on the same principle that generates the preface paradox (§4), and discuss the reasonable response to multi-peer disagreement (§5). Our aim is modest: it is to defend the “steadfast view” against one particular objection; we set aside other objections to the “steadfast view,” as well as positive arguments in its favor. (shrink)
In recent years there has been a revitalised interest in non-classical solutions to the semantic paradoxes. In this paper I show that a number of logics are susceptible to a strengthened version of Curry's paradox. This can be adapted to provide a proof theoretic analysis of the omega-inconsistency in Lukasiewicz's continuum valued logic, allowing us to better evaluate which logics are suitable for a naïve truth theory. On this basis I identify two natural subsystems of Lukasiewicz logic which individually, (...) but not jointly, lack the problematic feature. (shrink)
A well-known proof by Alonzo Church, first published in 1963 by Frederic Fitch, purports to show that all truths are knowable only if all truths are known. This is the Paradox of Knowability. If we take it, quite plausibly, that we are not omniscient, the proof appears to undermine metaphysical doctrines committed to the knowability of truth, such as semantic anti-realism. Since its rediscovery by Hart and McGinn ( 1976), many solutions to the paradox have been offered. In (...) this article, we present a new proof to the effect that not all truths are knowable, which rests on different assumptions from those of the original argument published by Fitch. We highlight the general form of the knowability paradoxes, and argue that anti-realists who favour either an hierarchical or an intuitionistic approach to the Paradox of Knowability are confronted with a dilemma: they must either give up anti-realism or opt for a highly controversial interpretation of the principle that every truth is knowable. (shrink)
This paper offers an analysis of a hitherto neglected text on insoluble propositions dating from the late XiVth century and puts it into perspective within the context of the contemporary debate concerning semantic paradoxes. The author of the text is the italian logician Peter of Mantua (d. 1399/1400). The treatise is relevant both from a theoretical and from a historical standpoint. By appealing to a distinction between two senses in which propositions are said to be true, it offers an unusual (...) solution to the paradox, but in a traditional spirit that contrasts a number of trends prevailing in the XiVth century. It also counts as a remarkable piece of evidence for the reconstruction of the reception of English logic in italy, as it is inspired by the views of John Wyclif. Three approaches addressing the Liar paradox (Albert of Saxony, William Heytesbury and a version of strong restrictionism) are first criticised by Peter of Mantua, before he presents his own alternative solution. The latter seems to have a prima facie intuitive justification, but is in fact acceptable only on a very restricted understanding, since its generalisation is subject to the so-called revenge problem. (shrink)
I argue that the standard Bayesian solution to the ravens paradox— generally accepted as the most successful solution to the paradox—is insufficiently general. I give an instance of the paradox which is not solved by the standard Bayesian solution. I defend a new, more general solution, which is compatible with the Bayesian account of confirmation. As a solution to the paradox, I argue that the ravens hypothesis ought not to be held equivalent to its contrapositive; more (...) interestingly, I argue that how we formally represent hypotheses ought to vary with the context of inquiry. This explains why the paradox is compelling, while dealing with standard objections to holding hypotheses inequivalent to their contrapositives. (shrink)
Many of the most popular genres of narrative art are designed to elicit negative emotions: emotions that are experienced as painful or involving some degree of pain, which we generally avoid in our daily lives. Melodramas make us cry. Tragedies bring forth pity and fear. Conspiratorial thrillers arouse feelings of hopelessness and dread, and devotional religious art can make the believer weep in sorrow. Not only do audiences know what these artworks are supposed to do; they seek them out in (...) pursuit of prima facie painful reactions.Traditionally, the question of why people seek out such experiences of painful art has been presented as the paradox of tragedy. Most solutions to the paradox of tragedy assume that the reason we seek out tragedies, horror films, melodramas, and the like is because they afford pleasureful experiences. From there, theorists attempt to account for the source of this pleasure, a pleasure assumed to be had from representations of events from which we do not derive pleasure in real life. I argue that this assumption is suspect: the motive for seeking out devotional religious art, melodrama, tragedy, and some horror is not clearly to find pleasure. (shrink)
How is it that we can be moved by what we know does not exist? In this paper, I examine the so-called 'paradox of fiction', showing that it fatally hinges on cognitive theories of emotion such as Kendall Walton's pretend theory and Peter Lamarque's thought theory. I reject these theories and acknowledge the concept-formative role of genuine emotion generated by fiction. I then argue, contra Jenefer Robinson, that this 'éducation sentimentale' is not achieved through distancing, but rather through the (...) engagement of our emotions. Literature does this, I claim, by its uniquely perspicuous presentations of emotional concepts, and the cognitive pleasure that such 'presentations' prompt in us. (shrink)
The lottery paradox can be solved if epistemic justification is assumed to be a species of permissibility. Given this assumption, the starting point of the paradox can be formulated as the claim that, for each lottery ticket, I am permitted to believe that it will lose. This claim is ambiguous between two readings, depending on the scope of ‘permitted’. On one reading, the claim is false; on another, it is true, but, owing to the general failure of permissibility (...) to agglomerate, does not generate the paradox. The solution generalizes to formulations of the paradox in terms of rational acceptability and doxastic rationality. (shrink)
In this article I argue that two received accounts of belief and assertion cannot both be correct, because they entail mutually contradictory claims about Moore’s Paradox. The two accounts in question are, first, the Action Theory of Belief (ATB), the functionalist view that belief must be manifested in dispositions to act, and second, the Belief Account of Assertion (BAA), the Gricean view that an asserter must present himself as believing what he asserts. It is generally accepted also that Moorean (...) assertions are absurd, and that BAA explains why they are. I shall argue that ATB implies that some Moorean assertions are, in some fairly ordinary contexts, well justified. Thus BAA and ATB are mutually inconsistent. In the concluding section I explore three possible ways of responding to the dilemma, and what implications they have for the nature of the constitutive relationships linking belief, assent and behavioural dispositions. (shrink)
This article addresses and rebuts the claim that the purpose of the Socratic method is to humiliate, shame, and perplex participants. It clarifies pedagogical and exegetical confusions surrounding the Socratic method, what the Socratic method is, what its epistemological ambitions are, and how the historical Socrates likely viewed it. First, this article explains the Socratic method; second, it clarifies a misunderstanding regarding Socrates' role in intentionally perplexing his interlocutors; third, it discusses two different types of perplexity (...) and relates these to philosophical inquiry and dialectical pedagogy; finally, it refutes the claim that those who use the Socratic method intentionally attempt to shame and humiliate students. (shrink)
The ultimate success of Hollywood blockbusters is dependent upon repeat viewings. Fans return to theaters to see films multiple times and buy DVDs so they can watch movies yet again. Although it is something of a received dogma in philosophy and psychology that suspense requires uncertainty, many of the biggest box office successes are action movies that fans claim to find suspenseful on repeated viewings. The conflict between the theory of suspense and the accounts of viewers generates a problem known (...) as the paradox of suspense, which we can boil down to a simple question: If suspense requires uncertainty, how can a viewer who knows the outcome still feel suspense? (shrink)
In a series of articles, Dan Lopez De Sa and Elia Zardini argue that several theorists have recently employed instances of paradoxical reasoning, while failing to see its problematic nature because it does not immediately (or obviously) yield inconsistency. In contrast, Lopez De Sa and Zardini claim that resultant inconsistency is not a necessary condition for paradoxicality. It is our contention that, even given their broader understanding of paradox, their arguments fail to undermine the instances of reasoning they attack, (...) either because they fail to see everything that is at work in that reasoning, or because they misunderstand what it is that the reasoning aims to show. (shrink)
The Confessions recounts Augustine's successful search for God. But Augustine worries that one cannot search for God if one does not already know God. That version of the paradox of <span class='Hi'>inquiry</span> dominates and structures Confessions 1–10. I draw connections between the dramatic opening lines of book 1 and the climactic discussion in book 10.26–38 and argue that the latter discussion contains Augustine's resolution of the paradox of <span class='Hi'>inquiry</span> as it applies to the special case of searching (...) for God. I claim that he develops a model, relying on the universal human experience of joy and truth, that identifies a starting point that (1) is common to all human beings, (2) is sufficient for guiding a successful search for God, and (3) avoids commitment to recollection of experiences prior to birth. The model is crucial to Augustine's rejection of traditional Platonist views about recollection. (shrink)
The naive theory of vagueness holds that the vagueness of an expression consists in its failure to draw a sharp boundary between positive and negative cases. The naive theory is contrasted with the nowadays dominant approach to vagueness, holding that the vagueness of an expression consists in its presenting borderline cases of application. The two approaches are briefly compared in their respective explanations of a paramount phenomenon of vagueness: our ignorance of any sharp boundary between positive and negative cases. These (...) explanations clearly do not provide any ground for choosing the dominant approach against the naive theory. The decisive advantage of the former over the latter is rather supposed to consist in its immunity to any form of sorites paradox. But another paramount phenomenon of vagueness is higher-order vagueness: the expressions (such as ‘borderline’ and ‘definitely’) introduced in order to express in the object language the vagueness of the object language are themselves vague. Two highly plausible claims about higher-order vagueness are articulated and defended: the existence of “definitely ω ” positive and negative cases and the “radical” character of higher-order vagueness itself. Using very weak logical principles concerning vague expressions and the ‘definitely’-operator, it is then shown that, in the presence of higher-order vagueness as just described, the dominant approach is subject to higher-order sorites paradoxes analogous to the original ones besetting the naive theory, and therefore that, against the communis opinio , it does not fare substantially better with respect to immunity to any form of sorites paradox. (shrink)
Next SectionCharlie Pelling presents an impropriety paradox for the truth account of assertion. After solving his paradox I show that it is a version of the liar paradox. I then show that for any account of truth there is a strengthened liar-like paradox, and that for any solution to the strengthened liar paradox, there is a parallel solution to each of these “new” paradoxes.
A variation of Fitch’s paradox is given, where no special rules of inference are assumed, only axioms. These axioms follow from the familiar assumptions which involve rules of inference. We show (by constructing a model) that by allowing that possibly the knower doesn’t know his own soundness (while still requiring he be sound), Fitch’s paradox is avoided. Provided one is willing to admit that sound knowers may be ignorant of their own soundness, this might offer a way out (...) of the paradox. (shrink)
The paradox of analysis has been a problem for analytic philosophers at least since Moore’s time, and it is especially significant for those who seek an account of analysis along classical lines. The present paper offers a new solution to the paradox, where a theory of analysis is given where (1) analysandum and analysans are distinct concepts, due to their failing to share the same conceptual form, yet (2) they are related in virtue of satisfying various semantic constraints (...) on the analysis relation. Rather than distinguish between analysandum and analysans by appeal to epistemic considerations, the paper appeals to semantic considerations in giving a candidate account of the identity conditions for concepts. The distinctness of analysandum and analysans then serves to block the paradox in a straightforward way. (shrink)