What is the Relation between a Philosophical Stance and Its Associated Beliefs?

Dialectica 72 (4):509-524 (2018)
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Van Fraassen’s view that many philosophical positions should be understood as stances rather than factual beliefs with propositional content, has become increasingly popular. But the precise relation between a philosophical stance, and the factual beliefs that typically accompany it, is an unresolved issue. It is widely accepted that no factual belief is sufficient for holding a particular stance, but some have argued that holding certain factual beliefs is nonetheless necessary for adopting a given stance. I argue against this claim, along with the weaker claim that while there are no beliefs that are necessary for adopting a particular stance, those who share a stance must share some characteristic belief(s) in common. I outline and defend an alternative ‘cluster’ account, according to which, in order to accept a stance, one must hold some minimal subset of the set of theoretical beliefs characteristic of the stance in question. This view can accommodate the intuitions motivating those who defend the stronger necessity claims, while crucially allowing for the flexibility of a stance vis-à-vis the relevant factual beliefs, and its relative independence from those beliefs, which is central to van Fraassen’s main examples of stances and their nature.



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Sandy C. Boucher
University of New England (Australia)

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References found in this work

Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized.James Ladyman & Don Ross - 2007 - In James Ladyman & Don Ross (eds.), Every thing must go: metaphysics naturalized. New York: Oxford University Press.
The Empirical Stance.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 2004 - New York: Yale University Press.
The incoherence of empiricism.George Bealer - 1992 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 66 (1):99-138.
In defence of scientism.Don Ross, James Ladyman & David Spurrett - 2007 - In James Ladyman & Don Ross (eds.), Every thing must go: metaphysics naturalized. New York: Oxford University Press.

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