Paul O'Grady clearly distinguishes five main kinds: relativism about truth, relativism about logic, ontological relativism, epistemological relativism, and, finally, relativism about rationality. In each case he shows what makes a position relativist and how it differs from a sceptical or pluralist position. He ends by presenting a thoroughly integrated position that rejects some forms while defending others. The book includes discussion of recent work by Putnam, Devitt, Searle, Priest, and Quine and offers a succinct survey of contemporary debates. This lively (...) discussion of the issue will be welcome reading for all those involved in philosophical inquiry. (shrink)
Wittgenstein is often associated with different forms of relativism. However, there is ambiguity and controversy about whether he defended relativistic views or not. This paper seeks to clarify this issue by disambiguating the notion of relativism and examining Wittgenstein's relevant texts in that light.
There is a general consensus that Quine's assault on analyticity and verificationism in `Two Dogma of Empiricism' has been successful and that Carnap's philosophical position has been vanquished. This paper so characterises Carnap's position that it escapes Quine's criticisms. It shows that the disagreement is not a first order dispute about analyticity or verificationism, but rather a deeper dispute about philosophical method.
In this paper, I examine the debate about existence between deflationist analytic accounts and the ‘thicker’ conception used by Aquinas when speaking of esse. I argue that the way one evaluates the debate will depend on background philosophical assumptions and that reflection on those assumptions could constitute an account of theoretical wisdom.
Our concept of choice is integral to the way we understand others and ourselves, especially when considering ourselves as free and responsible agents. Despite the importance of this concept, there has been little empirical work on it. In this paper we report four experiments that provide evidence for two concepts of choice—namely, a concept of choice that is operative in the phrase having a choice and another that is operative in the phrase making a choice. The experiments indicate that the (...) two concepts of choice can be differentiated from each other on the basis of the kind of alternatives to which each is sensitive. The results indicate that the folk concept of choice is more nuanced than has been assumed. This new, empirically informed understanding of the folk concept of choice has important implications for debates concerning free will, responsibility, and other debates spanning psychology and philosophy. -/- Specifically, 'having a choice' appears to require genuinely open alternatives, or alternative possibilities that are actually realizable, while 'making a choice' appears to only require psychological open alternatives, or the ability to consider alternatives independent of whether these alternatives are actually realizable. We argue that these findings are relevant to the free will debate because choice is central to the folk concept of free will and many philosophical analysis of free will. The kinds of alternatives required for having a choice appear to be incompatibilist in nature, while the kinds of alternatives required for making a choice appear to be compatibilist in nature. If free will requires having choices, then this is perhaps evidence against compatibilism. If free will requires making choices, then this is perhaps evidence in favor of--or at least consistent with--compatibilism. (shrink)
Proponents of two axioms of biological evolutionary theory have attempted to find justification by reference to nonequilibrium thermodynamics. One states that biological systems and their evolutionary diversification are physically improbable states and transitions, resulting from a selective process; the other asserts that there is an historically constrained inherent directionality in evolutionary dynamics, independent of natural selection, which exerts a self-organizing influence. The first, the Axiom of Improbability, is shown to be nonhistorical and thus, for a theory of change through time, (...) acausal. Its perception of the improbability of living states is at least partially an artifact of closed system thinking. The second, the Axiom of Historically Determined Inherent Directionality, is supported evidentially and has an explicit historical component. Historically constrained dynamic populations are inherently nonequilibrium systems. It is argued that living, evolving systems, when considered to be historically constrained nonequilibrium systems, do not appear improbable at all. Thus, the two axioms are not compatible. Instead, the Axiom of Improbability is considered to result from an unjustified attempt to extend the contingent proximal actions of natural selection into the area of historical, causal explanations. It is thus denied axiomatic status, and the effects of natural selection are subsumed as an additional level of constraint in an evolutionary theory derived from the Axiom of Historically Determined Inherent Directionality. (shrink)
Aquinas’s actual response to a naturalistic challenge at ST I.2.3 is one which most naturalists would find unimpressive. However, I shall argue that there is a stronger response latent in his philosophical system. I take Quine as an example of a methodological naturalist, examine the roots of his position and look at two critical responses to his views (those of BonJour and Boghossian). If one adjusts some of the problematical aspects of their responses and establishes a hybrid position on the (...) epistemology and metaphysics of an antinaturalistic stance, it turns out to be the position Aquinas himself takes on meaning and knowledge. (shrink)