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Profile: David Ebrey (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
  1. Meno's Paradox in Context.David Ebrey - 2014 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (1):4-24.
    I argue that Meno’s Paradox targets the type of knowledge that Socrates has been looking for earlier in the dialogue: knowledge grounded in explanatory definitions. Socrates places strict requirements on definitions and thinks we need these definitions to acquire knowledge. Meno’s challenge uses Socrates’ constraints to argue that we can neither propose definitions nor recognize them. To understand Socrates’ response to the challenge, we need to view Meno’s challenge and Socrates’ response as part of a larger disagreement about the value (...)
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    The Asceticism of the Phaedo: Pleasure, Purification, and the Soul’s Proper Activity.David Ebrey - 2017 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 99 (1):1-30.
    I argue that according to Socrates in the Phaedo we should not merely evaluate bodily pleasures and desires as worthless or bad, but actively avoid them. We need to avoid them because they change our values and make us believe falsehoods. This change in values and acceptance of falsehoods undermines the soul’s proper activity, making virtue and happiness impossible for us. I situate this account of why we should avoid bodily pleasures within Plato’s project in the Phaedo of providing Pythagorean (...)
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  3. A New Philosophical Tool in the Meno: 86e-87c.David Ebrey - 2013 - Ancient Philosophy 33 (1):75-96.
    I argue that the technique Socrates describes in the Meno at 86e-87c allows him to make progress without definitions, even while accepting that definitions are necessary for knowledge. Some contend that the technique involves provisionally accepting a claim. I argue, instead, that it provides a secure biconditional that one can use to reduce the question one cares care about to a new question that one thinks will be easier to answer.
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    Socrates on Why We Should Inquire.David Ebrey - 2017 - Ancient Philosophy 37 (1):1-17.
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  5.  42
    Aristotle's Motivation for Matter.David Ebrey - unknown
    Aristotle’s Motivation for Matter Why does Aristotle make matter so central to his account of the natural world, making it a principle of nature and one of the four causes? Although there is considerable interest in how Aristotle conceives of matter, scholars rarely investigate why he thinks of it as fundamental to the natural world. Some simply ask why Aristotle thinks there must be matter. Other interpreters do not even agree that we should ask this question; they claim that Aristotle (...)
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  6.  37
    Why Are There No Conditionals in Aristotle’s Logic?David Ebrey - 2015 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 53 (2):185-205.
    Aristotle presents a formal logic in the Prior Analytics in which the premises and conclusions are never conditionals. In this paper I argue that he did not simply overlook conditionals, nor does their absence reflect a metaphysical prejudice on his part. Instead, he thinks that arguments with conditionals cannot be syllogisms because of the way he understands the explanatory requirement in the definition of a syllogism: the requirement that the conclusion follow because of the premises. The key passage is Prior (...)
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    The Possibility of Inquiry: Meno's Paradox From Socrates to Sextus by Gail Fine.David Ebrey - 2017 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 55 (3):537-538.
    In the first half of this book, Gail Fine provides a renewed defense of her reading of Meno's famous paradox; in the second, she provides novel accounts of how Aristotle, the Stoics, the Epicureans, and Sextus Empiricus responded to the paradox. For reasons of space, I focus on the first half, where Fine defends the same basic account of Meno's paradox she put forward in her influential "Inquiry in the Meno". The book goes further, considering and dismissing several alternatives not (...)
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  8.  23
    Making Room for Matter: Material Causes in the Phaedo and the Physics.David Ebrey - 2014 - Apeiron 47 (2):245–265.
    It is often claimed that Socrates rejects material causes in the Phaedo because they are not rational or not teleological. In this paper I argue for a new account: Socrates ultimately rejects material causes because he is committed to each change having a single cause. Because each change has a single cause, this cause must, on its own, provide an adequate explanation for the change. Material causes cannot provide an adequate explanation on their own and so Socrates rejects them. Aristotle (...)
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  9.  13
    Review of Iakovos Vasiliou, Aiming at Virtue in Plato[REVIEW]David Ebrey - 2009 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (8).
  10.  14
    Theory and Practice in Aristotle's Natural Science.David Ebrey (ed.) - 2015 - Cambridge University Press.
    Aristotle argued that in theory one could acquire knowledge of the natural world. But he did not stop there; he put his theories into practice. This volume of new essays shows how Aristotle's natural science and philosophical theories shed light on one another. The contributors engage with both biological and non-biological scientific works and with a wide variety of theoretical works, including Physics, Generation and Corruption, On the Soul, and Posterior Analytics. The essays focus on a number of themes, including (...)
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