This piece is a comment on Quilty-Dunn, Jake, Nicolas Porot, and Eric Mandelbaum. 2023. “The Best Game in Town: The Reemergence of the Language-of-Thought Hypothesis across the Cognitive Sciences.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 46: e261. -/- The target article signal boosts important ongoing work across the cognitive sciences. However, its theoretical claims, generative value, and purported contributions are – where not simply restatements of arguments extensively explored elsewhere – imprecise, noncommittal, and underdeveloped to a degree that makes them difficult to (...) evaluate. The article's apparent force results from engaging with straw rather than steel opponents. (shrink)
In the recent literature on the nature of knowledge, a rivalry has emerged between modalism and explanationism. According to modalism, knowledge requires that our beliefs track the truth across some appropriate set of possible worlds. Modalists tend to focus on two modal conditions: sensitivity and safety. According to explanationism, knowledge requires only that beliefs bear the right sort of explanatory relation to the truth. In slogan form: knowledge is believing something because it’s true. In this paper, we aim to vindicate (...) explanationism from some recent objections offered by Gualtiero Piccinini, Dario Mortini, and Kenneth Boyce and Andrew Moon. Together, these authors present five purported counterexamples to the sufficiency of the explanationist analysis for knowledge. In addition, Mortini devises a clever argument that explanationism entails the violation of a plausible closure principle on knowledge. We will argue that explanationism is innocent of all these charges against it, and we hope that the strength of the defense we offer of explanationism is evidence in its favor, and a reason to investigate explanationism further as the long-elusive truth about the nature of knowledge. (shrink)
Otto Neurath’s empiricist methodology of economics and his contributions to political economy have gained increasing attention in recent years. We connect this research with contemporary debates regarding the epistemological status of thought experiments by reconstructing Neurath’s utopias as linchpins of thought experiments. In our three reconstructed examples of different uses of utopias/dystopias in thought experiments we employ a reformulation of Häggqvist’s model for thought experiments and we argue that: (1) Our reformulation of Häggqvist’s model more adequately complies with many uses (...) of thought experiments, especially with the open-ended discussions of utopias and dystopias in thought experiments. (2) As a strict logical empiricist, Neurath is committed to a strictly empiricist account of thought experiments. John Norton’s empiricist argument view can indeed account for the justifications of empirical beliefs and genuine discoveries targeted by scientific utopianism in three distinct (yet connected) ways, all of which Neurath already contemplated: (2.I) Dealing with utopias and thought experiments on a regular basis increases creativity and inventiveness. (2.II) Particular ways of presenting knowledge facilitate scientific discovery and social progress. (2.III) The use of utopias in thought experiments can prompt conceptual change and allow access to new phenomena. We conclude by highlighting that, even though thought experiments support a positive attitude for exploring new social possibilities, Neurath points out that active decisions are unavoidable. The exploration of alternatives and the awareness of a need for decisions in policy discussion avert a technocratic outlook in social science. (shrink)
The discrepancy between individual women and the stereotypes attributed to the group as a whole has become progressively greater and more explicit over the course of history. The stereotypes remain the same age-old allegations whilst the developments in the occupations of women and the traits they have opportunity to express have increased the distance between women and those ascribed traits. Stereotypes’ abstention from revision in light of contrary evidence constitutes an epistemic paradox for it entails conflict between the stereotypical knowledge (...) and empirical evidence, as well as between the stereotypical knowledge and other empirical knowledges. This paradox of stubbornness also raises the question as to the epistemic source of stereotypes. For, people at young ages encounter evidence which should have formed a more complex knowledge regarding women rather than the pervasive stereotypical knowledge. It is this extremity of absurdness of stereotypes regarding women that is utile to understanding stereotypes as a whole. The epistemic paradox that is engrained in all stereotypes is exposed uncompromisingly by this group. The paradox cannot be dismissed with excuses of having a small basis of evidence, such as may be said regarding other social groups with which one may have had minimal or no contact. Thus, stereotypes of women provide a limit case to understanding the epistemology of this paradoxical form of knowledge. The traits and epistemic phenomena which render stereotypes epistemically puzzling and intriguing is the relationship between knowledges. Stereotypical knowledge regarding women as a group conflict with one’s experience-founded knowledges of particular women, deeming the corporate body of knowledge incoherent. Quine’s theory of knowledge, with its holistic empirical approach endorsing conceptual schemes, provides fertile ground for this analysis. The novelty in his account is his establishment of the criteria of coherency, which shifts the focal point of epistemic inquiry away from the adequacy of individual knowledges with empirical evidence to the intra-knowledge relationships themselves. In his empiricism, Quine rather examines the interactions between knowledges and the overarching coherence of the body of knowledge as a holistic unit. Quine creates place in his account for mechanism which provide for the epistemic incongruences of stubbornness and conflict found between stereotypical knowledges and empirical evidence. These very mechanisms are what this paper requests to examine. Quine, ultimately, formulates knowledge as a collectively held fabric consisting of relations and of posits – socially constructed mechanisms which are empirically-irreducible and implemented pragmatically for the organisation of empirical evidence. According to Quine, the fabric formation is a conceptual scheme sourced in social heritage. People are bestowed with an eclectic framework of knowledge to pragmatically merge between an inherited, collective conceptual scheme and the personally experienced empirical evidence. This paper will delve into Quine’s fabric of knowledge, its relations, and inner-mechanisms. The finding of stereotypes to be an age-old posit entrenched pragmatically – thus stubbornly – in the collective conceptual scheme, will explain the epistemic paradoxes they entail and offer insight to their revision in light of empiric reality and its women. (shrink)
The present essay provides an overview of the images of seventeenth-century philosophy in the Rivista di storia della filosofia (then retitled Rivista critica di storia della filosofia) in the years 1946–1983. Founded in 1946 by Mario Dal Pra, the journal promoted a new anti-idealistic approach to the history of philosophy. Based on philological accuracy, this approach enhanced the complexity of history and the interdependence of different fields of knowledge. In particular, the unprecedented emphasis on the connections between science and philosophy (...) entailed a preeminent place for empiricism in the Rivista. This explains why this essay focuses on empiricist currents in seventeenth-century philosophy and especially on three of their representatives, namely Galileo Galilei, Thomas Hobbes and Francis Bacon. (shrink)
This contribution aims to present the different philosophical interpretations of Descartes and Cartesian philosophies in the 17th century within the Revue Internationale de Philosophie. Studies on Descartes and Cartesian philosophies profoundly influenced the scientific orientations of the Revue by promoting the encounter between historical-philosophical and epistemological research. By reconstructing a century of Cartesian interpretations in the Revue, from the 1930s to the present day, the contribution examines the link between the universality of philosophical ideas and the analysis of texts, between (...) the history of ideas and the history of philosophical systems. (shrink)
The reception of Kant began in Croatia at the turn of the 19th century with the writings of J.B. Horváth, whose textbooks were in use at that time in Croatia and Hungary. Unlike Horváth's decidedly negative attitude toward Kant, Šimun Čučić (Simeon Chuchich), in his systematic work Philosophia Critice Elaborata (1815), adopted some aspects of Kantian philosophy. This includes, for example, the formalistic conception of logic, Kantian apriorism and subjectivism, the formalistic approach to the moral law, and the like. However, (...) since these elements were incorporated into a schoolbook type of text, they could not always be consistently implemented. The beginning of the reception of Kant in Croatia coincided with the revival of Croatian national self-awareness. -- Die Kantrezeption setzte in Kroatien an der Wende zum 19. Jahrhundert ein mit den Schriften J. B. Horváths, dessen Lehrbuecher in Kroatien und Ungarn damals in Gebrauch waren. Im Unterschied zu Horváth's ausgeschprochen negativer Einstellung zu Kant hat Šimun Čučić in seinem systematischen Werk Philosophia critice elaborata (1815) einige Aspekte der Kantischen Philosophie uebernommen. Dies betrifft z.B. die formalistische Auffassung der Logik, die Uebernahme des kantianischen Apriorismus und Subjektivismus, die formalistische Auffassungsweise des moralischen Gesetzes und dgl. Da nun diese Momente in ein schulmaeßig konzipiertes Buch aufgenommen wurden, konnten sie nicht immer konsequent durchgefuehrt werden. Der Beginn der Kantrezeption in Kroatien koinzidierte mit der Wiedererweckung des kroatischen nationalen Selbsbewußtseins. (shrink)
Otto Neurath’s empiricist methodology of economics and his contributions to politi- cal economy have gained increasing attention in recent years. We connect this research with contemporary debates regarding the epistemological status of thought experiments by reconstructing Neurath’s utopias as linchpins of thought experiments. In our three reconstructed examples of different uses of utopias/dystopias in thought experiments we employ a reformulation of Häggqvist’s model for thought experiments and we argue that: (1) Our reformulation of Häggqvist’s model more adequately complies with many (...) uses of thought experiments, especially with the open-ended discussions of utopias and dys- topias in thought experiments. (2) As a strict logical empiricist, Neurath is committed to a strictly empiricist account of thought experiments. John Norton’s empiricist argument view can indeed account for the justifications of empirical beliefs and genuine discoveries targeted by scientific utopianism in three distinct (yet connected) ways, all of which Neur- ath already contemplated: (2.I) Dealing with utopias and thought experiments on a regular basis increases creativity and inventiveness. (2.II) Particular ways of presenting knowl- edge facilitate scientific discovery and social progress. (2.III) The use of utopias in thought experiments can prompt conceptual change and allow access to new phenomena. We con- clude by highlighting that, even though thought experiments support a positive attitude for exploring new social possibilities, Neurath points out that active decisions are unavoidable. The exploration of alternatives and the awareness of a need for decisions in policy discus- sion avert a technocratic outlook in social science. (shrink)
Although a sizable number of works on analytic philosophy are published in non-Western languages, the literature continues to be written mainly in Western languages, especially English and German. This article makes a case for discussing analytic philosophy in Chinese and argues that it entails a dilemma: it can fulfill either the audience-service or knowledge-service functions but not both at the same time. This is problematic because a standard original or critical philosophical article should fulfill both functions. Then, to challenge the (...) validity of this dilemma, I pose the hypothetical scenario of Jake, who writes a marvelous, purely original publication on analytic philosophy in Chinese. This article posits that the dilemma will not be undermined by such a case and suggests an alternative way to resolve it. (shrink)
L’usage de la raison et de la foy ou l’accord de la foy et de la raison (1704) by Pierre-Sylvain Régis can be considered his last attempt to defend the ‘new philosophy’ of René Descartes by vindicating its agreement with faith and protecting it from censorship. This contribution offers an analysis of the theories expounded by Régis in this treatise, showing how these evolved from those of his earlier Système de philosophie (1690), and arguing that both are characterized by a (...) reinterpretation of the Cartesian metaphysics on an empirical basis. In particular, Régis offered an empirical interpretation of the relations between substances, attributes and modes, by which he criticized Spinoza’s metaphysics and attempted to solve the riddle of Descartes’ dualism. (shrink)
Nassar distinguishes an understudied philosophical tradition that emerged in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, traces its development, and argues for its continued significance. She shows how four key thinkers, whom she calls the 'romantic empiricists', developed a distinctive approach to the study of nature, which culminated in an ecological understanding of nature and the human place within it. Nassar contends that the romantic empiricist insights and approaches remain crucial for us today, as we seek to address (...) the environmental crisis.--. (shrink)
The final work of the esteemed philosopher William Demopoulos supplants logical empiricism's accounts of physical theories, which fail to satisfactorily engage modern physics. Arguing for a new appreciation of the tightly woven character of theory and evidence, Demopoulos offers novel insights into the distinctive nature of quantum reality.
I draw attention to how one of Donald Davidson’s arguments against the claim that others have an alternative conceptual scheme does not look compatible with his rejection of analytic truths – how his rejection of the third dogma of empiricism depends on accepting the first. The appendix contests Davidson’s approach to organizing the Pacific Ocean.
A picture has indeed held modern Western philosophy captive, that of the universe as a vast machine whose iron laws are best understood as exceptionless empirical regularities which, as it were, determine the future before it happens. This fantastic conception commands the assent, not just of positivistically-minded naturalists but of all the great anti-naturalists who champion a very different view of human action as a domain of freedom ¿that somehow cheats science¿. The most fundamental move in Roy Bhaskar¿s system of (...) philosophy, the germ of everything that followed, was to reconceptualise the natural world in transcendental realist terms, ¿turning Kant around using his own method¿. On this account, the universe is characterized by deep structures, mechanisms and fields that generate the flux of phenomena, and is in open, creative and emergent process. This completely recasts the terms of the debate between naturalism and anti-naturalism by remedying its false grounds and shows how philosophy can be liberated from its anthropocentric/anthropomorphic prison and rendered consistent with the best insights of modern natural science. There is necessity in nature quite independent of humans, but in an open world causation is multiple and conjunctural, the actual course of the unfolding of being is highly contingent and the bases of human freedom can be understood scientifically. Written as a DPhil thesis when Bhaskar was in his mid-twenties, Empiricism and the Metatheory of the Social Sciences brilliantly launches this reconceptualisation and explores its implications for social science in the course of carrying through the metatheoretical destruction of empiricism. It will be indispensable reading for anyone interested in the development of Bhaskar¿s thought, in transcendental realism, and in the critique of empiricism, more generally of the philosophical discourse of Western modernity. (shrink)
The topic of my paper is the virtual controversy between Leibniz and Lockeover concepts and ideas. At the end of the 17th century John Locke made a crucial contribution to semantics and philosophy: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The work represents a decisive turning point for the discussion about ideas and innatism. Indeed, Locke’s aim was to dismantle the Cartesian theory according to which ideas are innate in our soul. Against this onto-epistemological thesis, Locke maintains that all our knowledge starts (...) off with experience: ideas are mental representations depending on subjects’ sensual experiences and reflection skills. Some years later, in his notes on Locke’s Essay, Leibniz writes that Locke dealt with a fundamental topic: human understanding and the limits of human knowledge (NE p. 4). All we can find out about the world is determined by answering the question about what we can know; nonetheless, Leibniz argues in favor of innate ideas. My thesis is that in his opinion Locke’s empiricism can be conciliated with the assumption that there are innate ideas. (shrink)
Offers an extremely bold, far-reaching, and unsuspected thesis in the history of philosophy: Aristotelianism was a dominant movement of the British philosophical landscape, especially in the field of logic, and it had a long survival. British Aristotelian doctrines were strongly empiricist in nature, both in the theory of knowledge and in scientific method; this character marked and influenced further developments in British philosophy at the end of the century, and eventually gave rise to what we now call British empiricism, which (...) is represented by philosophers such as John Locke, George Berkeley and David Hume. Beyond the apparent and explicit criticism of the old Scholastic and Aristotelian philosophy, which has been very well recognized by the scholarship in the twentieth century and which has contributed to the false notion that early modern philosophy emerged as a reaction to Aristotelianism, the present research examines the continuity, the original developments and the impact of Aristotelian doctrines and terminology in logic and epistemology as the background for the rise of empiricism.Without the Aristotelian tradition, without its doctrines, and without its conceptual elaborations, British empiricism would never have been born. The book emphasizes that philosophy is not defined only by the ‘great names’, but also by minor authors, who determine the intellectual milieu from which the canonical names emerge. It considers every single published work of logic between the middle of the sixteenth and the end of the seventeenth century, being acquainted with a number of surviving manuscripts and being well-informed about the best existing scholarship in the field. . (shrink)
_Concept Formation_ is the final part of the trilogy _Forms of Representation in the Aristotelian Tradition_. It investigates some of the most perplexing and provocative discussions on conceptual thinking in the Greek, Latin, and Arabic reception of Aristotle’s psychology.
Twenty-first-century philosophy has been drawn into a false opposition between speculation and critique. Nathan Brown shows that the key to overcoming this antinomy is a re-engagement with the relation between rationalism and empiricism. If Kant’s transcendental philosophy attempted to displace the opposing priorities of those orientations, any speculative critique of Kant will have to re-open and consider anew the conflict and complementarity of reason and experience. Rationalist Empiricism shows that the capacity of reason and experience to extend and yet delimit (...) each other has always been at the core of philosophy and science. Coordinating their discrepant powers, Brown argues, is what enables speculation to move forward in concert with critique. Sweeping across ancient, modern, and contemporary philosophy, as well as political theory, science, and art, Brown engages with such major thinkers as Plato, Descartes, Hume, Hegel, Marx, Heidegger, Bachelard, Althusser, Badiou, and Meillassoux. He also shows how the concepts he develops illuminate recent projects in the science of measurement and experimental digital photography. With conceptual originality and argumentative precision, Rationalist Empiricism reconfigures the history and the future of philosophy, politics, and aesthetics. (shrink)
The paper begins with a characterization of thought experiments, followed by a general outline of contemporary debates in the field. The discussion reveals that the most significant controversy involved is the dispute over the epistemic status of thought experiments between empiricists, Platonists, and the proponents of mental models. After a critical analysis of these approaches, a new theoretical framework proposed by Paul Bartha is introduced. It is suggested that Bartha’s approach, which appeals to a theory of analogy, offers new insights (...) into the structure of thought experiments. The paper concludes with general remarks on the state of the art in the field. (shrink)
Essential for the concept of the law of nature is not only spatio-temporal universality, but also functionality in the sense of the dependency on physical conditions of natural entities. In the following it is explained in detail that just the neglect of this functional property is to be understood as the real reason for the occurrence of the Goodman paradox – with the consequence, that the behavior of things seems to be completely at the mercy of change of unique unrepeatable (...) temporal points. It is exactly this (mis-)understanding that also generated the induction problem. From the intrinsic connection between universality and functionality, however, – that is my claim – the ontological consequence of a nature results, for which lawfulness is coupled to essentially functionally defined time sequences, thereby implying a potentiality dimension of nature, too. (shrink)
American Pragmatist philosopher William James and subcontinent Islamic philosopher Allama Iqbal both believe that religious experiences are an important class of those experiences with which empiricism is concerned. They both explain and defend religious belief on empirical grounds and argue that the ultimate empirical justification of a religious belief must come by looking at its fruits. This is no accident, for James influenced Iqbal on this very point. -/- However, they diverge in some matters. James defends the right to diverse (...) religious belief and eventually articulates his own account based on religious experience—an account which is intentionally philosophical and not reliant on any religious authority. Iqbal, however, reconsiders and defends Islam understood along largely traditional lines. -/- I compare and contrast James’ and Iqbal’s religious epistemologies in order to understand both of them better and, hopefully, enrich contemporary reflection on faith and reason through a better awareness of the past dialogue on the subject. -/- This is the accepted version of the following article: “William James and Allama Iqbal on Empirical Faith;” The Heythrop Journal 61.5 (2020): 775-787, which has been published in final form at the URL provided. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with the Wiley Self-Archiving Policy [see second URL]. (shrink)
The debate surrounding eliminative materialism, and the role of empiricism more broadly, has been one of the more prominent philosophical debates of the last half-century. But too often what is at stake in this debate has been left implicit. This essay surveys the rhetoric of two participants in this debate, Paul Churchland and Thomas Nagel, on the question of whether or not scientific explanations will do away with the need for nonscientific descriptions. Both philosophers talk about this possibility in language (...) reminiscent of revolutionary politics. These authors do not see eliminative materialism merely as an idea to be evaluated, but a revolution to be welcomed or quashed. After surveying their rhetoric, the paper turns to the work of four philosophers—G.E.M. Anscombe, Peter Winch, Paul Holmer, and G.H. von Wright—to suggest that there is within Wittgensteinian tradition a ‘nonrevolutionary’ approach to the question of eliminative materialism. (shrink)
Abstract: This paper traces a Kantian and pragmatist line of thinking that connects the ideas of conceptual content, object cognition, and modal constraints in the form of counterfactual sustaining causal laws. It is an idea that extends from Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason through C. I. Lewis’s Mind and the World-Order to the Kantian naturalism of Wilfrid Sellars and the analytic pragmatism of Robert Brandom. Kant put forward what I characterize as a modal conception of objectivity, which he developed as (...) an extended argument stretching from the transcendental deduction through the analogies of experience to the regulative maxims of reason and reflective judgment. In related ways in Lewis and Sellars, the very idea of an object of knowledge (and of intentionality more generally) is connected with a certain lawfulness or modal constraint the necessary representation of which, they argue, is an achievement of conceptualization. While Sellars agreed with the spirit of Lewis’s famous pragmatic conception of the a priori, Sellars’s conception of meaning and conceptual content differed in crucial ways with important consequences for this issue. I argue furthermore that a certain phenomenalist temptation threatens to spoil this insight both among some of Kant’s interpreters and in Lewis’s thought. Finally, I point out that Brandom’s “Kant-Sellars thesis” provides new support for this line of thought. Although questions concerning idealism continue to raise controversies for neo-Kantians and pragmatists, the line of thought itself represents a distinctive and still promising approach to questions concerning intentionality and conceptual content. (shrink)
In this sweeping volume of comparative philosophy and intellectual history, Barry Allen reassesses the values of experience and experiment in European and world traditions. His work traces the history of empirical philosophy from its birth in Greek medicine to its emergence as a philosophy of modern science. He surveys medical empiricism, Aristotlean and Epicurean empiricism, the empiricism of Gassendi and Locke, logical empiricism, radical empiricism, transcendental empiricism, and varieties of anti-empiricism from Parmenides to Wilfrid Sellars. Throughout this extensive intellectual history, (...) Allen builds an argument in three parts. A richly detailed account of history's empiricisms in Part One establishes a context in Part Two for reconsidering the work of the radical empiricists--William James, Henri Bergson, John Dewey, and Gilles Deleuze, each treated in a dedicated chapter. What is "radical" about them is their effort to return empiricism from epistemology to the ontology and natural philosophy where it began. In Part Three, Allen sets empirical philosophy in conversation with Chinese tradition, considering technological, scientific, medical, and alchemical sources, as well as selected Confucian, Daoist, and Mohist classics. The work shows how philosophical reflection on experience and a profound experimental practice coexist in traditional China with no interaction or even awareness of each other, slipping over each other instead of intertwining as they did in European history, a difference Allen attributes to a different understanding of the value of knowledge. Allen's book recovers empiricism's neglected, multi-textured contexts, and elucidates the enduring value of experience, to arrive at an idea of what is living and dead in philosophical empiricism. (shrink)
Adherence to certain religious beliefs is often cited as both an efficient deterrent to immoral behavior and as an effective trigger of morally praiseworthy actions. I assume the truth of the externalist theory of motivation, emphasizing emotions as the most important non-cognitive elements that causally contribute to behavioral choices. While religious convictions may foster an array of complex emotions in a believer, three emotive states are singled out for a closer analysis: fear, guilt and gratitude. The results of recent empirical (...) studies are examined to evaluate the relative motivational efficiency of all three emotions, as well as the likely negative psychological side-effects of these affective states, such as aggression and depression. While an action motivated by fear of punishment can be seen as a merely prudential strategy, the reparatory incentive of a guilty subject and a desire to reciprocate of the one blessed by undeserved favors are more plausible candidates for the class of genuine moral reactions. The available evidence, however, does not warrant a conclusion that a sense of guilt before God or as a sense of gratefulness to wards God, may produce a statistically significant increase in the frequency of prosocial actions aimed at other humans. (shrink)
This book contextualizes David Hume's philosophy of physical science, exploring both Hume's background in the history of early modern natural philosophy and its subsequent impact on the scientific tradition.
In Robust Ethics, I defend a nontheistic version of moral realism according to which moral properties are sui generis, not reducible to other kinds of properties (e.g., natural properties or supernatural properties) and objective morality requires no foundation external to itself. I seek to provide a plausible account of the metaphysics and epistemology of the robust brand of moral realism I favor that draws on both analytic philosophy and contemporary empirical moral psychology. In this paper, I respond to some objections (...) to my view advanced by William Craig, Mark Murphy, Tyler McNabb, and Adam Johnson. (shrink)