This paper examines the role of prestige bias in shaping academic philosophy, with a focus on its demographics. I argue that prestige bias exacerbates the structural underrepresentation of minorities in philosophy. It works as a filter against (among others) philosophers of color, women philosophers, and philosophers of low socio-economic status. As a consequence of prestige bias our judgments of philosophical quality become distorted. I outline ways in which prestige bias in philosophy can be mitigated.
There is a need to bring about a revolution in the philosophy of science, interpreted to be both the academic discipline, and the official view of the aims and methods of science upheld by the scientific community. At present both are dominated by the view that in science theories are chosen on the basis of empirical considerations alone, nothing being permanently accepted as a part of scientific knowledge independently of evidence. Biasing choice of theory in the direction of simplicity, (...) unity or explanatory power does not permanently commit science to the thesis that nature is simple or unified. This current ‘paradigm’ is, I argue, untenable. We need a new paradigm, which acknowledges that science makes a hierarchy of metaphysical assumptions concerning the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe, theories being chosen partly on the basis of compatibility with these assumptions. Eleven arguments are given for favouring this new ‘paradigm’ over the current one. (shrink)
This paper argues that explicit reading instruction should be part of lower level undergraduate philosophy courses. Specifically, the paper makes the claim that it is necessary to provide the student with both the relevant background knowledge about a philosophical work and certain metacognitive skills that enrich the reading process and their ability to organize the content of a philosophical text with other aspects of knowledge. A “How to Read Philosophy” handout and student reactions to the handout are provided.
Philosophy has been a public endeavor since its origins in ancient Greece, India, and China. However, recent years have seen the development of a new type of public philosophy conducted by both academics and non- professionals. The new public philosophy manifests itself in a range of modalities, from the publication of magazines and books for the general public to a variety of initiatives that exploit the power and flexibility of social networks and new media. In this paper (...) we examine the phenomenon of public philosophy in its several facets, and investigate whether and in what sense it is itself a mix of philosophical practice and teaching. We conclude with a number of suggestions to academic colleagues on why and how to foster further growth of public philosophy for the benefit of society at large and of the discipline itself. (shrink)
Claims about people's intuitions have long played an important role in philosophical debates. The new field of experimental philosophy seeks to subject such claims to rigorous tests using the traditional methods of cognitive science – systematic experimentation and statistical analysis. Work in experimental philosophy thus far has investigated people's intuitions in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics. Although it is now generally agreed that experimental philosophers have made surprising discoveries about people's intuitions in (...) each of these areas, considerable disagreement remains about the philosophical significance of the key findings. Some have argued that work in experimental philosophy should be assessed by asking whether it can contribute to the kind of inquiry that is normally pursued within analytic philosophy, while others suggest that work in experimental philosophy is best understood as a contribution to a more traditional sort of philosophical inquiry that long predates the birth of analytic philosophy. (shrink)
Experimental moral philosophy emerged as a methodology in the last decade of the twentieth century, as a branch of the larger experimental philosophy (X-Phi) approach. Experimental moral philosophy is the empirical study of moral intuitions, judgments, and behaviors. Like other forms of experimental philosophy, it involves gathering data using experimental methods and using these data to substantiate, undermine, or revise philosophical theories. In this case, the theories in question concern the nature of moral reasoning and judgment; (...) the extent and sources of moral obligations; the nature of a good person and a good life; even the scope and nature of moral theory itself. This entry begins with a brief look at the historical uses of empirical data in moral theory and goes on to ask what, if anything, is distinctive about experimental moral philosophy—how should we distinguish it from related work in empirical moral psychology? After discussing some strategies for answering this question, the entry examines two of the main projects within experimental moral philosophy, and then discusses some of the most prominent areas of research within the field. As we will see, in some cases experimental moral philosophy has opened up new avenues of investigation, while in other cases it has influenced longstanding debates within moral theory. (shrink)
Once symbolized by a burning armchair, experimental philosophy has in recent years shifted away from its original hostility to traditional methods. Starting with a brief historical review of the experimentalist challenge to traditional philosophical practice, this chapter looks at research undercutting that challenge, and at ways in which experimental work has evolved to complement and strengthen traditional approaches to philosophical questions.
The development of phenomenology in nineteenth‐century German philosophy is that of a particular stream within the larger historical‐philosophical complex of Austro‐German philosophy. As the “grandfather of phenomenology” resp. the “disgusted grandfather of phenomenology,” but also as the key figure on the “Anglo‐Austrian Analytic Axis”, Brentano is at the source of the two main philosophical traditions in twentieth‐century philosophy. This chapter focuses mainly on his place in nineteenth‐century European philosophy and on the central themes and concepts in (...) his philosophy that were determinant in the development of the philosophy of his most gifted student: Edmund Husserl. Despite the variety of stances which Brentano expressed on ontology, metaphysics, and psychology over the course of his career, the five general principles remain central to his whole philosophy throughout: they have an important place in what could be called Brentano's philosophical worldview or system. By extension, they also are essential to his conception of phenomenology. (shrink)
Is Bayesian decision theory a panacea for many of the problems in epistemology and the philosophy of science, or is it philosophical snake-oil? For years a debate had been waged amongst specialists regarding the import and legitimacy of this body of theory. Mark Kaplan had written the first accessible and non-technical book to address this controversy. Introducing a new variant on Bayesian decision theory the author offers a compelling case that, while no panacea, decision theory does in fact have (...) the most profound consequences for the way in which philosophers think about inquiry, criticism and rational belief. The new variant on Bayesian theory is presented in such a way that a non-specialist will be able to understand it. The book also offers new solutions to some classic paradoxes. It focuses on the intuitive motivations of the Bayesian approach to epistemology and addresses the philosophical worries to which it has given rise. (shrink)
What is a game? What are we doing when we play a game? What is the value of playing games? Several different philosophical subdisciplines have attempted to answer these questions using very distinctive frameworks. Some have approached games as something like a text, deploying theoretical frameworks from the study of narrative, fiction, and rhetoric to interrogate games for their representational content. Others have approached games as artworks and asked questions about the authorship of games, about the ontology of the work (...) and its performance. Yet others, from the philosophy of sport, have focused on normative issues of fairness, rule application, and competition. The primary purpose of this article is to provide an overview of several different philosophical approaches to games and, hopefully, demonstrate the relevance and value of the different approaches to each other. Early academic attempts to cope with games tried to treat games as a subtype of narrative and to interpret games exactly as one might interpret a static, linear narrative. A faction of game studies, self-described as “ludologists,” argued that games were a substantially novel form and could not be treated with traditional tools for narrative analysis. In traditional narrative, an audience is told and interprets the story, where in a game, the player enacts and creates the story. Since that early debate, theorists have attempted to offer more nuanced accounts of how games might achieve similar ends to more traditional texts. For example, games might be seen as a novel type of fiction, which uses interactive techniques to achieve immersion in a fictional world. Alternately, games might be seen as a new way to represent causal systems, and so a new way to criticize social and political entities. Work from contemporary analytic philosophy of art has, on the other hand, asked questions whether games could be artworks and, if so, what kind. Much of this debate has concerned the precise nature of the artwork, and the relationship between the artist and the audience. Some have claimed that the audience is a cocreator of the artwork, and so games are a uniquely unfinished and cooperative art form. Others have claimed that, instead, the audience does not help create the artwork; rather, interacting with the artwork is how an audience member appreciates the artist's finished production. Other streams of work have focused less on the game as a text or work, and more on game play as a kind of activity. One common view is that game play occurs in a “magic circle.” Inside the magic circle, players take on new roles, follow different rules, and actions have different meanings. Actions inside the magic circle do not have their usual consequences for the rest of life. Enemies of the magic circle view have claimed that the view ignores the deep integration of game life from ordinary life and point to gambling, gold farming, and the status effects of sports. Philosophers of sport, on the other hand, have approached games with an entirely different framework. This has lead into investigations about the normative nature of games—what guides the applications of rules and how those rules might be applied, interpreted, or even changed. Furthermore, they have investigated games as social practices and as forms of life. (shrink)
Practitioners of the new ‘experimental philosophy’ have collected data that appear to show that some philosophical intuitions are culturally variable. Many experimental philosophers take this to pose a problem for a more traditional, ‘armchair’ style of philosophizing. It is argued that this is a mistake that derives from a false assumption about the character of philosophical methods; neither philosophy nor its methods have anything to fear from cultural variability in philosophical intuitions.
On the political nature of the analytic - continental distinction in professional philosophy and the general tendency to discredit continental philosophy while redesignating the rubric as analytically conceived.
Except for a patina of twenty-first century modernity, in the form of logic and language, philosophy is exactly the same now as it ever was; it has made no progress whatsoever. We philosophers wrestle with the exact same problems the Pre-Socratics wrestled with. Even more outrageous than this claim, though, is the blatant denial of its obvious truth by many practicing philosophers. The No-Progress view is explored and argued for here. Its denial is diagnosed as a form of anosognosia, (...) a mental condition where the affected person denies there is any problem. The theories of two eminent philosophers supporting the No-Progress view are also examined. The final section offers an explanation for philosophy 's inability to solve any philosophical problem, ever. The paper closes with some reflections on philosophy 's future. (shrink)
What can--and what can't--philosophy do? What are its ethical risks--and its possible rewards? How does it differ from science? In Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline , Bernard Williams addresses these questions and presents a striking vision of philosophy as fundamentally different from science in its aims and methods even though there is still in philosophy "something that counts as getting it right." Written with his distinctive combination of rigor, imagination, depth, and humanism, the book amply demonstrates (...) why Williams was one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. Spanning his career from his first publication to one of his last lectures, the book's previously unpublished or uncollected essays address metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, as well as the scope and limits of philosophy itself. The essays are unified by Williams's constant concern that philosophy maintain contact with the human problems that animate it in the first place. As the book's editor, A. W. Moore, writes in his introduction, the title essay is "a kind of manifesto for Williams's conception of his own life's work." It is where he most directly asks "what philosophy can and cannot contribute to the project of making sense of things"--answering that what philosophy can best help make sense of is "being human." Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline is one of three posthumous books by Williams to be published by Princeton University Press. In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument was published in the fall of 2005. The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy is being published shortly after the present volume. (shrink)
W.V.Quine and Philip Kitcher have both developed naturalistic approaches to the philosophy of science which are partially based on a skeptical view about the possibility of rational inquiry into certain questions of value. Nonetheless, both Quine and Kitcher do not wish to give up on the normative dimension of the philosophy of science. I argue that Kitcher's recent argument against the specification of the goal of science in terms of truth raises a problem for Quine's account of the (...) normative dimensions of the discipline. However Kitcher’s alternative suggestion, that the goal of science is to be specified in terms of an ideal democratic procedure, does not escape this problem, given Kitcher's own limited skepticism about rational inquiry into certain questions of value. (shrink)
In the past decade, experimental philosophy---the attempt at making progress on philosophical problems using empirical methods---has thrived in a wide range of domains. However, only in recent years has aesthetics succeeded in drawing the attention of experimental philosophers. The present paper constitutes the first survey of these works and of the nascent field of 'experimental philosophy of aesthetics'. We present both recent experimental works by philosophers on topics such as the ontology of aesthetics, aesthetic epistemology, aesthetic concepts, and (...) imagination, as well as research from other disciplines that not only are relevant to philosophy of aesthetics but also open new avenues of research for experimental philosophy of aesthetics. Overall, we conclude that the birth of an experimental philosophy of aesthetics is good news not only for aesthetics but also for experimental philosophy itself, as it contributes to broaden the scope of experimental philosophy. (shrink)
What does it mean to think about technology philosophically? Why try? These are the issues that Carl Mitcham addresses in this work, a comprehensive, critical introduction to the philosophy of technology and a discussion of its sources and uses. Tracing the changing meaning of "technology" from ancient times to our own, Mitcham identifies the most important traditions of critical analysis of technology: the engineering approach, which assumes the centrality of technology in human life and the humanities approach, which is (...) concerned with its moral and cultural boundaries. Mitcham bridges these two traditions through an analysis of discussions of engineering design, of the distinction between tools and machines, and of engineering science itself. He looks at technology as it is experienced in everyday life--as material objects (from kitchenware to computers), as knowledge ( including recipes, rules, theories, and intuitive "know-how"), as activity (design, construction, and use), and as volition (knowing how to use technology and understanding its consequences). By elucidating these multiple aspects, Mitcham establishes criteria for a more comprehensive analysis of ethical issues in applications of science and technology. This book will guide anyone wanting to reflect on technology and its moral implications. (shrink)
"[Heidegger's] greatest work... essential for all collections." —Choice "... students of Heidegger will surely find this book indispensable." —Library Journal Contributions to Philosophy, written in 1936-38 and first published in 1989 as Beiträge zur Philosophie, is Heidegger’s most ground-breaking work after the publication of Being and Time in 1927. If Being and Time is perceived as undermining modern metaphysics, Contributions undertakes to reshape the very project of thinking.
In the mid-seventeenth century a movement of self-styled experimental philosophers emerged in Britain. Originating in the discipline of natural philosophy amongst Fellows of the fledgling Royal Society of London, it soon spread to medicine and by the eighteenth century had impacted moral and political philosophy and even aesthetics. Early modern experimental philosophers gave epistemic priority to observation and experiment over theorising and speculation. They decried the use of hypotheses and system-building without recourse to experiment and, in some quarters, (...) developed a philosophy of experiment. The movement spread to the Netherlands and France in the early eighteenth century and later impacted Germany. Its important role in early modern philosophy was subsequently eclipsed by the widespread adoption of the Kantian historiography of modern philosophy, which emphasised the distinction between rationalism and empiricism and had no place for the historical phenomenon of early modern experimental philosophy. The re-emergence of interest in early modern experimental philosophy roughly coincided with the development of contemporary x-phi and there are some important similarities between the two. (shrink)
This paper advances the view that the history of philosophy is both a kind of history and a kind of philosophy. Through a discussion of some examples from epistemology, metaphysics, and the historiography of philosophy, it explores the benefit to philosophy of a deep and broad engagement with its history. It comes to the conclusion that doing history of philosophy is a way to think outside the box of the current philosophical orthodoxies. Somewhat paradoxically, far (...) from imprisoning its students in outdated and crystallized views, the history of philosophy trains the mind to think differently and alternatively about the fundamental problems of philosophy. It keeps us alert to the fact that latest is not always best, and that a genuinely new perspective often means embracing and developing an old insight. The upshot is that the study of the history of philosophy has an innovative and subversive potential, and that philosophy has a great deal to gain from a long, broad, and deep conversation with its history. (shrink)
The debate over whether free will and determinism are compatible is controversial, and produces wide scholarly discussion. This paper argues that recent studies in experimental philosophy suggest that people are in fact “natural compatibilists”. To support this claim, it surveys the experimental literature bearing directly or indirectly upon this issue, before pointing to three possible limitations of this claim. However, notwithstanding these limitations, the investigation concludes that the existing empirical evidence seems to support the view that most people have (...) compatibilist intuitions. (shrink)
While the volume of material inspired by Rawls’s reinvigoration of the discipline back in 1971 has still not begun to subside, its significance has been in serious decline for quite some time. New and important work is appearing less and less frequently, while the scope of the work that is appearing is getting smaller and more internal and its practical applications more difficult to discern. The discipline has reached a point of intellectual stagnation, even as real-world events suggest that the (...) need for what political philosophy can provide could not be more critical. What follows then is a set of statements about how I believe that we, as political philosophers, should approach what we do. It contains my view as to what political philosophy should be about, how political philosophy should be done, and how courses in political philosophy should be taught, interlaced with commentary on the current state of the profession. (shrink)
The paper provides a systematic overview of recent debates in epistemology and philosophy of science on the nature of understanding. We explain why philosophers have turned their attention to understanding and discuss conditions for “explanatory” understanding of why something is the case and for “objectual” understanding of a whole subject matter. The most debated conditions for these types of understanding roughly resemble the three traditional conditions for knowledge: truth, justification and belief. We discuss prominent views about how to construe (...) these conditions for understanding, whether understanding indeed requires conditions of all three types and whether additional conditions are needed. (shrink)
Perception is the ultimate source of our knowledge about contingent facts. It is an extremely important philosophical development that starting in the last quarter of the twentieth century, philosophers have begun to change how they think of perception. The traditional view of perception focussed on sensory receptors; it has become clear, however, that perceptual systems radically transform the output of these receptors, yielding content concerning objects and events in the external world. Adequate understanding of this process requires that we think (...) of perception in new ways—how it operates, the differences among the modalities, and integration of content provided by the individual senses. Philosophers have developed new analytic tools, and opened themselves up to new ways of thinking about the relationship of perception to knowledge. The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception is a collection of entries by leading researchers that reviews these new directions in philosophical thought. The Introduction to the Handbook reviews the history of the subject from its beginnings in ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, and the way that science and philosophy have together produced new conceptions during the last hundred years. It shows how the new thinking about perception has led to a complex web of theories. (shrink)
This paper shows that during the first half of the 1960s The Journal of Philosophy quickly moved from publishing work in diverse philosophical traditions to, essentially, only publishing analytic philosophy. Further, the changes at the journal are shown, with the help of previous work on the journals Mind and The Philosophical Review, to be part of a pattern involving generalist philosophy journals in Britain and America during the period 1925-1969. The pattern is one in which journals controlled (...) by analytic philosophers systematically promote a form of critical philosophy and marginalise rival approaches to philosophy. This pattern, it is argued, helps to explain the growing dominance of analytic philosophy during the twentieth century and allows characterising this form of philosophy as, at least during 1925-1969, a sectarian form of critical philosophy. (shrink)
In this article, I attempt to bridge the gap between partiality and impartiality in moral philosophy from an oft-neglected African perspective. I draw a solution for this moral-theoretical impasse between partialists and impartialists from Kwasi Wiredu's, one of the most influential African philosophers, distinction between an ethic and ethics. I show how an ethic accommodates partiality and ethics impartiality. Wiredu's insight is that partialism is not concerned with strict moral issues. -/- .
One of the first volumes in the new series of prestigious Oxford Handbooks, The Oxford Handbook of Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law brings together specially commissioned essays by twenty-seven of the foremost legal theorists currently writing, to provide a state of the art overview of jurisprudential scholarship. Each author presents an account of the contending views and scholarly debates animating their field of enquiry as well as setting the agenda for further study. This landmark publication will be essential reading (...) for anyone working in legal theory and of interest to legal scholars generally, philosophers and legal theorists looking for a way in to understand current jurisprudential thinking. (shrink)
There is a widespread assumption that ordinary language philosophy was killed off sometime in the 1960s or 70s by a combination of Gricean pragmatics and the rapid development of systematic semantic theory. Contrary to that widespread assumption, however, contemporary versions of ordinary language philosophy are alive and flourishing but going by various aliases – in particular (some versions of) ‘contextualism’ and (some versions of) ‘experimental philosophy’. And a growing group of contemporary philosophers are explicitly embracing the title (...) as well as the methods of ordinary language philosophy and arguing that it has been unfairly maligned and was never decisively refuted. In this overview, I will outline the main projects and arguments employed by contemporary ordinary language philosophers and make the case that updated versions of the arguments made by ordinary language philosophers in the middle of the 20th century are attracting renewed attention. (shrink)
The practice of conceptual analysis has undergone a revival in recent years. Although the extent of its role in philosophy is controversial, many now accept that conceptual analysis has at least some role to play. Granting this, I consider the relevance of empirical investigation to conceptual analysis. I do so by contrasting an extreme position (anti-empirical conceptual analysis) with a more moderate position (non-empirical conceptual analysis). I argue that anti-empirical conceptual analysis is not a viable position because it has (...) no means for resolving conceptual disputes that arise between seemingly competent speakers of the language. This is illustrated by considering one such dispute that has been pressed by a prominent advocate of anti-empirical conceptual analysis: Bennett and Hacker ( 2003 ) assert that psychological predicates only logically apply to whole living animals, but many scientists and philosophers use the terms more broadly. I argue that to resolve such disputes we need to empirically investigate the common understanding of the terms at issue. I then show how this can be done by presenting the results of three studies concerning the application of “calculates” to computers. (shrink)
The experimental philosophy movement advocates the use of empirical methods in philosophy. The methods most often discussed and in fact employed in experimental philosophy are appropriated from the experimental paradigm in psychology. But there is a variety of other (at least partly) empirical methods from various disciplines that are and others that could be used in philosophy. The paper explores the application of corpus analysis to philosophical issues. Although the method is well established in linguistics, there (...) are only a few tentative attempts of philosophers to utilise it. Examples are introduced and the merit of corpus analysis is compared to that of using general internet search engines and questionnaires for similar purposes. (shrink)
The idea that episodic memory is a form of mental time travel has played an important role in the development of memory research in the last couple decades. Despite its growing importance in psychology, philosophers have only begun to develop an interest in philosophical questions pertaining to the relationship between memory and mental time travel. Thus, this paper proposes a more systematic discussion of the relationship between memory and mental time travel from the point of view of philosophy. I (...) start by discussing some of the motivations to take memory to be a form of mental time travel. I call the resulting view of memory the mental time travel view. I then proceed to consider important philosophical questions pertaining to memory and develop them in the context of the mental time travel view. I conclude by suggesting that the intersection of the philosophy of memory and research on mental time travel not only provides new perspectives to think about traditional philosophical questions, but also new questions that have not been explored before. (shrink)
This paper explains how to use a new software tool for argument diagramming available free on the Internet, showing especially how it can be used in the classroom to enhance critical thinking in philosophy. The user loads a text file containing an argument into a box on the computer interface, and then creates an argument diagram by dragging lines from one node to another. A key feature is the support for argumentation schemes, common patterns of defeasible reasoning historically know (...) as topics . Several examples are presented, as well as the results of an experiment in using the system with students in a university classroom. (shrink)
Hao Wang was one of the few confidants of the great mathematician and logician Kurt Gödel. _A Logical Journey_ is a continuation of Wang's _Reflections on Gödel_ and also elaborates on discussions contained in _From Mathematics to Philosophy_. A decade in preparation, it contains important and unfamiliar insights into Gödel's views on a wide range of issues, from Platonism and the nature of logic, to minds and machines, the existence of God, and positivism and phenomenology. The impact of Gödel's theorem (...) on twentieth-century thought is on par with that of Einstein's theory of relativity, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, or Keynesian economics. These previously unpublished intimate and informal conversations, however, bring to light and amplify Gödel's other major contributions to logic and philosophy. They reveal that there is much more in Gödel's philosophy of mathematics than is commonly believed, and more in his philosophy than his philosophy of mathematics. Wang writes that "it is even possible that his quite informal and loosely structured conversations with me, which I am freely using in this book, will turn out to be the fullest existing expression of the diverse components of his inadequately articulated general philosophy." The first two chapters are devoted to Gödel's life and mental development. In the chapters that follow, Wang illustrates the quest for overarching solutions and grand unifications of knowledge and action in Gödel's written speculations on God and an afterlife. He gives the background and a chronological summary of the conversations, considers Gödel's comments on philosophies and philosophers, and his attempt to demonstrate the superiority of the mind's power over brains and machines. Three chapters are tied together by what Wang perceives to be Gödel's governing ideal of philosophy: an exact theory in which mathematics and Newtonian physics serve as a model for philosophy or metaphysics. Finally, in an epilog Wang sketches his own approach to philosophy in contrast to his interpretation of Gödel's outlook. (shrink)
Many philosophers have assumed, without argument, that Wittgenstein influenced Austin. More often, however, this is vehemently denied, especially by those who knew Austin personally. We compile and assess the currently available evidence for Wittgenstein’s influence on Austin’s philosophy of language. Surprisingly, this has not been done before in any detail. On the basis of both textual and circumstantial evidence we show that Austin’s work demonstrates substantial engagement with Wittgenstein’s later philosophy. In particular, Austin’s 1940 paper, ‘The Meaning of (...) a Word’, should be construed as a direct response to and development of ideas he encountered in Wittgenstein’s Blue Book. Moreover, we argue that Austin’s mature speech-act theory in How to Do Things with Words was also significantly influenced by Wittgenstein. (shrink)
Many have tackled the question ‘What (if anything) is analytic philosophy?’ I will not attempt to answer this vexed question. Rather, I address a smaller, more manageable set of interrelated questions: first, when and how did people begin using the label ‘analytic philosophy’? Second, how did those who used this label understand it? Third, why did many philosophers we today classify as analytic initially resist being grouped together under the single category of ‘analytic philosophy’? Finally, for the (...) first generation who described themselves as analytic philosophers, what was their intended contrast class? Relatedly, when did ‘continental philosophy’ become the standard opposition? Some evidence I present justifies received answers to these questions; other evidence supports surprising and unorthodox answers to these questions. (shrink)
This paper develops Bernard Williams’s suggestion that for philosophy to ignore its history is for it to assume that its history is vindicatory. The paper aims to offer a fruitful line of inquiry into the question whether philosophy has a vindicatory history by providing a map of possible answers to it. It first distinguishes three types of history: the history of discovery, the history of progress, and the history of change. It then suggests that much of philosophy (...) lacks a vindicatory history, for reasons that reflect philosophy’s character as a humanistic discipline. On this basis, the paper reconstructs Williams’s conception of what it means for philosophy to engage with its own history. The paper concludes that it is a mistake to think that a vindicatory history is what we would really like to have, and that in fact, the resulting picture gives philosophy several reasons to engage with its own history. (shrink)
This paper presents a new approach to resolving an apparent tension in Descartes’ discussion of scientific theories and explanations in the Principles of Philosophy. On the one hand, Descartes repeatedly claims that any theories presented in science must be certain and indubitable. On the other hand, Descartes himself presents an astonishing number of speculative explanations of various scientific phenomena. In response to this tension, commentators have suggested that Descartes changed his mind about scientific theories having to be certain and (...) indubitable, that he lacked the conceptual resources to describe the appropriate epistemic attitude towards speculative theories, or that the presence of geometrical principles in these explanations guarantee their certainty. I argue that none of these responses is satisfactory and suggest a different resolution to the tension by examining Descartes’ notion of explanation. On Descartes’ view, providing an adequate explanation does not require being certain of the theories that constitute the explanans. Relatedly, the purpose of Cartesian explanations is not to discover the truth about the various underlying mechanisms that such explanations appeal to, but to support his general philosophical thesis that all natural phenomena can be explained by appealing to the extension of matter. (shrink)
What is philosophy of education? This question has been answered in as many ways as there are those who self-identify as philosophers of education. However, the questions our field asks and the research conducted to answer them often produce papers, essays, and manuscripts that we can read, evaluate, and ponder. This paper turns to those tangible products of our scholarly activities. The titles, abstracts, and keywords from every article published from 2000 to 2010 in four journals of educational (...) class='Hi'>philosophy were analyzed to find out what kind of research is being published in the field of philosophy of education. Over 143 different concepts were identified and analyzed from 1,572 articles. The data suggests that philosophy and education, while primarily concerned with theory, teaching, and learning, tackles a diversity of subjects in a slightly narrowing band of thematic topics. (shrink)
Philosophy of biology is often said to have emerged in the last third of the twentieth century. Prior to this time, it has been alleged that the only authors who engaged philosophically with the life sciences were either logical empiricists who sought to impose the explanatory ideals of the physical sciences onto biology, or vitalists who invoked mystical agencies in an attempt to ward off the threat of physicochemical reduction. These schools paid little attention to actual biological science, and (...) as a result philosophy of biology languished in a state of futility for much of the twentieth century. The situation, we are told, only began to change in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when a new generation of researchers began to focus on problems internal to biology, leading to the consolidation of the discipline. In this paper we challenge this widely accepted narrative of the history of philosophy of biology. We do so by arguing that the most important tradition within early twentieth-century philosophy of biology was neither logical empiricism nor vitalism, but the organicist movement that flourished between the First and Second World Wars. We show that the organicist corpus is thematically and methodologically continuous with the contemporary literature in order to discredit the view that early work in the philosophy of biology was unproductive, and we emphasize the desirability of integrating the historical and contemporary conversations into a single, unified discourse. (shrink)
The studies by Trickey and Topping, which provide empirical support that philosophy produces cognitive gains and social benefits, have been used to advocate the view that philosophy deserves a place in the curriculum. Arguably, the existing curriculum, built around well-established core subjects, already provides what philosophy is said to do, and, therefore, there is no case to be made for expanding it to include philosophy. However, if we take citizenship education seriously, then the development of active (...) and informed citizens requires an emphasis on citizen preparation, but significantly more than the existing curriculum can provide, namely, the acquisition of knowledge and skills to improve students’ social and intellectual capacities and dispositions as future citizens. To this end, I argue for a model of democratic education that emphasises philosophy functioning educationally, whereby students have an integral role to play in shaping democracy through engaging in philosophy as collaborative inquiry that integrates pedagogy, curriculum and assessment. I contend that only philosophy can promote democracy, insofar as philosophical inquiry is an exemplar of the kind of deliberative inquiry required for informed and active democratic citizenship. In this way, philosophy can make a fundamental and much needed contribution to education. (shrink)
Mathematics plays an inordinate role in the work of many of famous Western philosophers, from the time of Plato, through Husserl and Wittgenstein, and even to the present. Why? This paper points to the experience of learning or making mathematics, with an emphasis on proof. It distinguishes two sources of the perennial impact of mathematics on philosophy. They are classified as Ancient and Enlightenment. Plato is emblematic of the former, and Kant of the latter. The Ancient fascination arises from (...) the sense that mathematics explores something ‘out there’. This is illustrated by recent discussions by distinguished contemporary mathematicians. The Enlightenment strand often uses Kant's argot: ‘absolute necessity’, ‘apodictic certainty’ and ‘a priori’ judgement or knowledge. The experience of being compelled by proof, the sense that something must be true, that a result is certain, generates the philosophy. It also creates the illusion that mathematics is certain. Kant's leading question, ‘How is pure mathematics possible?’, is easily misunderstood because the modern distinction between pure and applied is an artefact of the 19th century. As Russell put it, the issue is to explain ‘the apparent power of anticipating facts about things of which we have no experience’. More generally the question is, how is it that pure mathematics is so rich in applications? Some six types of application are distinguished, each of which engenders its own philosophical problems which are descendants of the Enlightenment, and which differ from those descended from the Ancient strand. (shrink)
I offer an alternative account of the relationship of Hobbesian geometry to natural philosophy by arguing that mixed mathematics provided Hobbes with a model for thinking about it. In mixed mathematics, one may borrow causal principles from one science and use them in another science without there being a deductive relationship between those two sciences. Natural philosophy for Hobbes is mixed because an explanation may combine observations from experience (the ‘that’) with causal principles from geometry (the ‘why’). My (...) argument shows that Hobbesian natural philosophy relies upon suppositions that bodies plausibly behave according to these borrowed causal principles from geometry, acknowledging that bodies in the world may not actually behave this way. First, I consider Hobbes's relation to Aristotelian mixed mathematics and to Isaac Barrow's broadening of mixed mathematics in Mathematical Lectures (1683). I show that for Hobbes maker's knowledge from geometry provides the ‘why’ in mixed-mathematical explanations. Next, I examine two explanations from De corpore Part IV: (1) the explanation of sense in De corpore 25.1-2; and (2) the explanation of the swelling of parts of the body when they become warm in De corpore 27.3. In both explanations, I show Hobbes borrowing and citing geometrical principles and mixing these principles with appeals to experience. (shrink)
In epistemology and in philosophy of language there is fierce debate about the role of context in knowledge, understanding, and meaning. Many contemporary epistemologists take seriously the thesis that epistemic vocabulary is context-sensitive. This thesis is of course a semantic claim, so it has brought epistemologists into contact with work on context in semantics by philosophers of language. This volume brings together the debates, in a set of twelve specially written essays representing the latest work by leading figures in (...) the two fields. All future work on contextualism will start here. Contributors: Kent Bach, Herman Cappelen, Andy Egan, Michael Glanzberg, John Hawthorne, Ernest Lepore, Peter Ludlow, Peter Pagin, Georg Peter, Paul M. Pietroski, Gerhard Preyer, Jonathan Schaffer, Jason Stanley, Brian Weatherson, Timothy Williamson. (shrink)
Throughout his career, Husserl identifies naturalism as the greatest threat to both the sciences and philosophy. In this paper, I explicate Husserl’s overall diagnosis and critique of naturalism and then examine the specific transcendental aspect of his critique. Husserl agreed with the Neo-Kantians in rejecting naturalism. He has three major critiques of naturalism: First, it (like psychologism and for the same reasons) is ‘countersensical’ in that it denies the very ideal laws that it needs for its own justification. Second, (...) naturalism essentially misconstrues consciousness by treating it as a part of the world. Third, naturalism is the inevitable consequence of a certain rigidification of the ‘natural attitude’ into what Husserl calls the ‘naturalistic attitude’. This naturalistic attitude ‘reifies’ and it ‘absolutizes’ the world such that it is treated as taken-for-granted and ‘obvious’. Husserl’s transcendental phenomenological analysis, however, discloses that the natural attitude is, despite its omnipresence in everyday life, not primary, but in fact is relative to the ‘absolute’ transcendental attitude. The mature Husserl’s critique of naturalism is therefore based on his acceptance of the absolute priority of the transcendental attitude . The paradox remains that we must start from and, in a sense, return to the natural attitude, while, at the same time, restricting this attitude through the on-going transcendental vigilance of the universal epoché. (shrink)
Comparative philosophy between two disparate cultural-philosophic traditions, such as Western and Chinese philosophy, has become a new trend of philosophical fashion in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Having learned from the past, contemporary comparative philosophers cautiously safeguard their comparative studies against two potential pitfalls, namely cultural universalism and cultural relativism. The Orientalism that assumed the superiority of the Occidental has become a memory of the past. The historical pendulum has apparently swung to the other extreme. The (...) more recent "reverse Orientalism" has started to reclaim the superiority of the Oriental. We have even been told that the twenty-first... (shrink)
Formal epistemology is just what it sounds like: epistemology done with formal tools. Coinciding with the general rise in popularity of experimental philosophy, formal epistemologists have begun to apply experimental methods in their own work. In this entry, I survey some of the work at the intersection of formal and experimental epistemology. I show that experimental methods have unique roles to play when epistemology is done formally, and I highlight some ways in which results from formal epistemology have been (...) used fruitfully to advance epistemically-relevant experimental work. The upshot of this brief, incomplete survey is that formal and experimental methods often constitute mutually informative means to epistemological ends. (shrink)