Daniel Stoljar
Australian National University
Abstract: Bernard Williams argues that philosophy is in some deep way akin to history. This paper is a novel exploration and defence of the Williams thesis (as I call it)—though in a way anathema to Williams himself. The key idea is to apply a central moral from what is sometimes called ‘the analytic philosophy of history’ of the 1960s to the philosophy of philosophy of today, namely, the separation of explanation and laws. I suggest that an account of causal explanation offered by David Lewis may be modified to bring out the way in which this moral applies to philosophy, and so to defend the Williams thesis. I discuss in detail the consequences of the thesis for the issue of philosophical progress and note also several further implications: for the larger context of contemporary meta-philosophy, for the relation of philosophy to other subjects, and for explaining, or explaining away, the belief that success in philosophy requires a field-specific ability or brilliance.
Keywords Philosophical Progress, Meta-philosophy, Philosophy of History, Explanation, Bernard Williams, David Lewis
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DOI 10.1017/apa.2020.14
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References found in this work BETA

No Work for a Theory of Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (5-6):535-579.
Grounding in the Image of Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
The Question of Realism.Kit Fine - 2001 - Philosophers' Imprint 1:1-30.
Illusionism as a Theory of Consciousness.Keith Frankish - 2016 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 23 (11-12):11-39.
The Function of General Laws in History.Carl Gustav Hempel - 1942 - Journal of Philosophy 39 (2):35-48.

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