To mark the 50th anniversary of Donald Davidson's 'Actions, reasons and causes', eight philosophers with distinctive and contrasting views revisit and update the reasons/causes debate. Their essays are preceded by a historical introduction which traces current debates to their roots in the philosophy of history and social science, linking the rise of causalism to a metaphysical backlash against the linguistic turn. Both historically grounded and topical, this volume will be of great interest to both students and scholars in the philosophy (...) of action and related areas of study. (shrink)
The Cambridge Companion to Philosophical Methodology offers clear and comprehensive coverage of the main methodological debates and approaches within philosophy. The chapters in this volume approach the question of how to do philosophy from a wide range of perspectives, including conceptual analysis, critical theory, deconstruction, experimental philosophy, hermeneutics, Kantianism, methodological naturalism, phenomenology, and pragmatism. They explore general conceptions of philosophy, centred on the question of what the point of philosophising might be; the method of conceptual analysis and its recent naturalistic (...) critics and competitors; perspectives from continental philosophy; and also a variety of methodological views that belong neither to the mainstream of analytic philosophy, nor to continental philosophy as commonly conceived. Together they will enable readers to grasp an unusually wide range of approaches to methodological debates in philosophy. (shrink)
?Are the reasons for acting also the causes of action?? When this question was asked in the early 1960s it received by and large a negative reply: ?No, reasons are not causes?. Yet, when the same question ?Are the reasons for acting the causes of action?? is posed some twenty years later, the predominant answer is ?Yes, reasons are causes?. How could one and the same question receive such diverging answers in the space of only a couple of decades? This (...) paper argues that the shift from an anti-causalist to a causalist consensus is not fully accounted for by the results of first-order debates in the philosophy of action and is owing instead to a change in second-order meta-philosophical assumptions concerning the role and character of philosophical analysis. (shrink)
Giuseppina D'Oro explores Collingwood's work in epistemology and metaphysics, uncovering his importance beyond his better known work in philosophy of history and aesthetics. This major contribution to our understanding of one of the most important figures in history of philosophy will be essential reading for scholars of Collingwood and all students of metaphysics and the history of philosophy.
This paper seeks to clarify the precise sense in which Collingwood's “metaphysics without ontology” is a descriptive metaphysics. It locates Collingwood's metaphysics against the background of Strawson's distinction between descriptive and revisionary metaphysics and then defends it against the claim that Collingwood reduced metaphysics to a form of cultural anthropology. Collingwood's metaphysics is descriptive not because it is some sort of historicised psychology that describes temporally parochial and historically shifting assumptions, but because it is a high level form of conceptual (...) analysis premised on the claim that ontological questions are actually internal ones and that metaphysics, understood as an attempt to answer external questions, is not a possible philosophical enterprise. This non-historicist reading of what it means to take the ontology out of metaphysics has broader implications which go beyond a scholarly debate in so far as it shows that it is possible to maintain objectivity in the absence of strong ontological underpinnings. (shrink)
Idealism is often associated with the kind of metaphysical system building which was successfully disposed of by logical positivism. As Hume's fork was intended to deliver a serious blow to Leibnizian metaphysics so logical positivism invoked the verificationist principle against the reawakening of metaphysics, in the tradition of German and British idealism. In the light of this one might reasonably wonder what Carnap's pragmatism could possibly have in common with Collingwood's idealism. After all, Carnap is often seen as a champion (...) of the logical positivist's critique of metaphysics, whilst Collingwood is renowned for his defence of the possibility of metaphysics against the attack to which Ayer subjected it. The answer is that they have more in common than one might suspect and that, once the relevant qualifications are made, there is as much convergence as there is contestation between Carnapian pragmatism and Collingwoodian idealism. (shrink)
In this contribution we explore revisionists and anti-revisionists conceptions of the historical imagination. The focus will be on how these conceptions of the historical imagination determine how one ought to answer the question of whether or not it is in principle possible to know the past in its own terms rather than from the perspective of the present. The contrast that we are seeking to draw is that between a conception of the historical imagination which is revisionist in the sense (...) that it is committed to the claim that knowledge of the past is in principle impossible, and one which is anti-revisionist in the sense that it regards knowledge of the past in its own terms to be in principle possible. Revisionism, as we understand it here, is not the contingent claim that in some cases (where, for example, new evidence which was previously unavailable comes to light) the historical understanding of the past may be revised; rather, it represents an a priori claim about the impossibility of knowing the past in its own terms in all cases, and not just in some. Likewise, anti-revisionism, as we understand it here, is the view that historical knowledge is in principle possible; it is not the claim that it is always achieved as a matter of fact. The debate between revisionist and anti-revisionist conceptions of the historical imagination is therefore a second-order debate about the nature of historical knowing, about whether it is possible, and if so, about what its conditions of possibility are. It is not a first order debate about whether or not such knowledge has been achieved in any given case. (shrink)
This article discusses R. G. Collingwood’s account of re-enactment and Donald Davidson’s account of radical translation. Both Collingwood and Davidson are concerned with the question “how is understanding possible?” and both seek to answer the question transcendentally by asking after the heuristic principles that guide the historian and the radical translator. Further, they both agree that the possibility of understanding rests on the presumption of rationality. But whereas Davidson’s principle of charity entails that truth is a presupposition or heuristic principle (...) of understanding, for Collingwood understanding rests on a commitment to internal consistency alone. Collingwood and Davidson diverge over the scope of the principle of charity because they have radically different conceptions of meaning. Davidson endorses an extensional semantics that links meaning with truth in the attempt to extrude intensional notions from a theory of meaning. Since radical translation rests on a truth-conditional semantics, it rules out the possibility that there may be statements that are intelligible even though based on false beliefs. Collingwood’s account of re-enactment, on the other hand, disconnects meaning from truth, thereby allowing for the possibility of understanding agents who have false beliefs. The paper argues, first, that Davidson’s account of radical translation rests on inappropriately naturalistic assumptions about the nature of understanding, and that Davidson commits this error because he develops his account of radical interpretation in response to an epistemological question that is motivated by a skeptical concern: “how can we know whether we have provided the correct interpretation?” Second, that in the twentieth century far too much philosophizing has been driven by epistemological concerns that have obscured attempts to provide adequate answers to the sort of conceptual question with which Collingwood is concerned, namely: “what does it mean to understand?”. (shrink)
This paper sets out to undermine the view that a commitment to the early modern conception of the mind as immortalized in Ryle’s metaphor of the (Cartesian) ghost in the machine and in Quine’s metaphor of the (Lockean) myth of the museum is required to articulate a defence of the sui generis character of humanistic explanations. These powerful metaphors have not only contributed to undermining the claim for methodological pluralism by caricaturizing the arguments for disunity in the sciences; they have (...) also, and more worryingly, planted red herrings that have diverted attention away from the genuine issues at stake. This paper is an exercise in removing these false clues to reveal what the claim for the autonomy of humanistic explanations really amounts to. (shrink)
This paper defends an idealist form of non-reductivism in the philosophy of mind. I refer to it as a kind of conceptual dualism without substance dualism. I contrast this idealist alternative with the two most widespread forms of non-reductivism: multiple realisability functionalism and anomalous monism. I argue first, that functionalism fails to challenge seriously the claim for methodological unity since it is quite comfortable with the idea that it is possible to articulate a descriptive theory of the mind. Second, that (...) as an attempt to graft conceptual mind-body dualism onto a monistic metaphysics, the idealist alternative bears some similarities to anomalous monism, but that it is superior to it because it is not vulnerable to the charge of epiphenomenalism. I conclude that this idealist alternative should be given serious consideration by those who remain unconvinced that a successful defence of the non-reducibility of the mental is compatible with the pursuit of a naturalistic agenda. (shrink)
: This article explores certain issues that arise at the borderline between conceptual analysis and metaphysics, where answers to questions of a conceptual nature compete with answers to questions of an ontological or metaphysical nature. I focus on the way in which three philosophers, Kant, Collingwood and Davidson, articulate the relationship between the conceptual question "What are actions?" and the metaphysical question "How is agency possible?" I argue that the way in which one handles the relationship between the conceptual and (...) the ontological question has important implications for one’s conception of the nature of philosophy, and that thinking hard about what it takes to defend the autonomy of the mental and of the agent-centred perspective should force us to think about our underlying conception of philosophy and to choose between one that understands it as first science and one that understands it as the under-labourer of science. (shrink)
Is philosophy continuous with science or does it have a distinctive domain of inquiry that differs from that of the special sciences? Collingwood claimed that philosophy has a distinctive subject matter and a distinctive method. Its distinctive subject matter is what he called the “absolute presuppositions” that govern the special sciences and its method consists in making these presuppositions explicit by showing that they are entailed by the questions asked in the special sciences. In this chapter the editors seek to (...) provide a guide to the diverging interpretations of Collingwood’s claim that metaphysics is not the study of pure being but of the presuppositions that govern knowledge of reality. They argue that a reassessment of his contribution to philosophical methodology is timely in the light of the recent revival of interest in second-order questions concerning the role and character of philosophical analysis. (shrink)
A legacy of Enlightenment thought was to see the human as separate from nature. Human history was neatly distinguished from natural history. The age of Anthropocene has now put all that into question. This human exceptionalism is seen by some as responsible for the devastating impact humans have had on the planet. But if we give up on the nature / culture distinction and see human activity as just another type of natural process, we risk losing our ability to attribute (...) moral agency and responsibility to humanity for the environmental crisis, argues Giuseppina D’Oro. (shrink)
Davidson's seminal essay "Actions, Reasons and Causes" brought about a paradigm shift in the theory of action. Before Davidson the consensus was that the fundamental task of a theory of action was to elucidate the concept of action and event explanation. The debate concerning the nature of action explanation thus took place primarily in the philosophy of history and social science and was focussed on purely methodological issues. After Davidson it has been assumed that the fundamental challenge for the theory (...) of action is to answer not the conceptual question "what does it mean to explain something as an action?", but a metaphysical question, namely, "how is causal over-determination by the mental and the physical possible?". I argue that the two main considerations Davidson provides for construing the question posed by the action/event distinction in metaphysical rather than conceptual terms are inconclusive and that much is to be learned from the conceptual approach championed by Collingwood and Dray in the context of their philosophy of history. (shrink)
The paper is divided in two parts. In the first I consider the nature of Ryle's attack on Collingwood's appropriation of the ontological argument and Collingwood's defence in the unpublished correspondence. In the second, I go beyond the confines of the Ryle-Collingwood exchange in the mid 'thirties to say something much more general about the nature of Collingwood's metaphysics as well as to advance an explanation of the compatibility of Collingwood's combined defence of descriptive metaphysics and the ontological proof.
“Do Anthropocene narratives confuse an important distinction between the natural and the historical past?” asks Giuseppina D’Oro. D’Oro defends the view that the concept of the historical past is sui generis and distinct from that of the geological past against a new, Anthropocene-inspired challenge to the possibility of a humanistically oriented historiography. She argues that the historical past is not a short segment of geological time, the time of the human species on Earth, but the past investigated from the perspective (...) of a distinctive kind of interest, that of uncovering the norms which governed historical agents in different periods of time. The past for the Egyptologist, or for the Roman historian, is not the same past studied by the palaeontologist or the geologist, not because it is infinitesimal short in comparison to geological time, but because the questions asked by historians concerned with the Egyptian or Roman civilization are not the same kind of questions asked by empirically minded scientists. She argues that the accusation that the distinction between the historical and the natural/geological past, rests on unacceptable form of human exceptionalism is based on the conflation of the concept of the historical past with that of the human past and that keeping alive the nature/culture distinction has important implications for praxis. If the distinction between nature and culture is collapsed, and the corollary that historical agents are not distinct in kind from natural agents (such as yeast and microbes) is accepted, then “the anticipation of the future would become a mere spectator’s sport analogous to the activity of predicting the weather”: collapsing the nature culture distinction, D’Oro argues, undermines the possibility of political action against the very threat (climate change) that motivates Anthropocene narratives in the first instance. (shrink)
James Connelly and Giuseppina D'Oro present a new edition of R. G. Collingwood's classic work of 1933, supplementing the original text with important related writings from Collingwood's manuscripts which appear here for the first time. The editors also contribute a substantial new introduction. The volume will be welcomed by all historians of twentieth-century philosophy.
Claims such as ‘there are no tables and chairs’ have become increasingly common in the philosophical context, and eliminativism is now a fairly well-established position in contemporary debates in analytic metaphysics. This outbreak of eliminativism has prompted a number of responses aimed at saving the manifest image of reality. Prominent amongst the attempts to save the manifest image is a view, powerfully articulated by Frank Jackson in From Metaphysics to Ethics , according to which the manifest properties of objects, properties (...) such as solidity or fragility, can be spared from the eliminativist’s guillotine if it can be shown that they are entailed (through the relation of supervenience) by scientific properties. Jackson’s strategy for saving the manifest image rests on a modest conception of the role of conceptual analysis in metaphysics. On this view, the role of conceptual analysis is modest because it is not the task of philosophy to establish a priori what there is, but rather to determine which features of the manifest image can be located within the scientific image: the manifest properties which cannot be so located are shown to be rogue concepts that have no place in serious metaphysics. This chapter argues against the attempt to save the manifest image by invoking the relation of entailment (whether that implied by the notion of supervenience or by the more traditional notion of analytic entailment) on the grounds that the manifest image is sui generis. The defence of the manifest image that I propose as an alternative here rests on the idealist assumption that knowledge makes a difference to what is known, and that since the manifest and the scientific image are the correlative of two different ways of knowing they do not compete with one another. I call the idealist view that knowledge makes a difference to what is known the Reciprocity Thesis. Rather than seeking to determine what kind of manifest image one is entitled to have in order to comply with the scientific image, the Reciprocity Thesis limits the claims of science to its own explanandum and therefore sees no need to legitimise the manifest image by invoking the relation of entailment. The need to legitimise the manifest image in the light of the scientific image arises because the relation between the scientific and the manifest image has not been properly conceptualised. Once the scientific and the manifest image are understood as the correlative of different ways of knowing, the problem which the location strategy seeks to solve is shown to rest on a misconception of the relationship holding between different kinds of knowledge. (shrink)
The paper defends Collingwood's account of rational explanation against two objections. The first is that he psychologizes the concept of practical reason. The second is that he fails to distinguish mere rationalizations from rationalizations that have causal power. I argue that Collingwood endorses a form of nonpsychologizing internalism which rests on the view that the appropriate explanans for actions are neither empirical facts (as externalists claim), nor psychological facts (as some internalists claim), but propositional facts. I then defend this form (...) of internalism against a range of Davidsonian objections which attempt to weaken the distinction between reasons and causes. (shrink)
This paper argues that Collingwood's philosophy of mind offers an interesting and compelling account of the nature of the mind and of the irreducibility of the mental, an account whose viability and relevance to contemporary debates ought to be given serious consideration. I suggest that the reason why Collingwood's contribution to the philosophy of mind has been neglected is due to the fact that his philosophy of mind is widely, even if mistakenly, regarded as the target of Ryle's attacks on (...) the dogma of the ghost in the machine and proceed to undermine the assumption that Collingwood is a twentieth century adherent of the dogma. (shrink)
This chapter explores the kind of nonreductivism defended by Davidson and compares it with that which predominated in mid-century. Davidson’s argument for the autonomy of the human sciences is contrasted with the one developed by R. G. Collingwood as presented through the interpretative efforts of W. H. Dray. It is argued here that Davidson’s arguments against the anticausalist consensus that dominated the first half of the twentieth century were not conclusive and that the success of causalism in the latter half (...) of the century is largely due to a return of heavy-duty metaphysics and an ontological backlash against the linguistic turn. Davidson, however, was able to preserve a kind of nonreductivism that is grounded in a distinction in kind between normative and descriptive sciences, rather than in a distinction in degree between sciences with greater or lower predictive power. (shrink)
Collingwood has failed to make a significant impact in the history of twentieth century philosophy either because he has been dismissed as a dusty old idealist committed to the very metaphysics the analytical school was trying to leave behind, or because his later work has been interpreted as advocating the dissolution of philosophy into history. I argue that Collingwood's key philosophical works are a sustained attempt to defend the view that philosophy is an autonomous discipline with a distinctive domain of (...) inquiry and that Collingwood's attempt to defend the autonomy of philosophy is intimately connected to his defence of intensional notions against the kind of meaning scepticism which came to prevail from the 1920s. I defend the philosophical claim that there is a third way between the idealist metaphysics with which Collingwood is often associated and the neo-empiricist agenda which characterised analytic philosophy in mid-century by defending the hermeneutic thesis that Collingwood's work is a sustained attempt to articulate a conception of philosophy as an epistemologically first science. Since there is a via media between the old metaphysics and the new empiricism there is no need to choose between a certain kind of armchair metaphysics and a scientifically informed ontology. (shrink)
This book discusses Collingwood's conception of the role and character of philosophical analysis. It explores questions, such as, is there anything distinctive about the activity of philosophizing? If so, what distinguishes philosophy from other forms of inquiry? What is the relation between philosophy and science and between philosophy and history? For much of the twentieth century, philosophers philosophized with little self-awareness; Collingwood was exceptional in the attention he paid to the activity of philosophizing. This book will be of interest both (...) to those who are interested in Collingwood’s philosophy and, more generally, to all who are interested in the question ‘what is philosophy?’. (shrink)
This paper contrasts two approaches to the mind-body problem and the possibility of mental causation: the conceptual approach advocated by Collingwood/Dray and the metaphysical approach advocated by Davidson. On the conceptual approach to show that mental causation is possible is equivalent to demonstrating that mentalistic explanations possess a different logical structure from naturalistic explanations. On the metaphysical approach to show that mental causation is possible entails explaining how the mind can intelligibly be accommodated within a physicalist universe. I argue that (...) the conceptual approach offers a much more powerful defence of the autonomy of the mental. (shrink)
There is a widespread view according to which descriptive metaphysics is not ?real? metaphysics. This paper argues that first-order philosophical disagreements cannot be settled without re-opening the debate about the nature of philosophical enquiry and that failure to scrutinize and justify one?s own metaphilosophical stance leads to arguments which are circular or question begging.
Abductive reasoning is central to reconstructing the past in the geosciences. This paper outlines the nature of the abductive method and restates it in Bayesian terms. Evidence plays a key role in this working method and, in particular, traces of the past are important in this explanatory framework. Traces, whether singularly or as groups, are interpreted within the context of the event for which they have evidential claims. Traces are not considered as independent entities but rather as inter-related pieces of (...) information concerning the likelihood of specific events. Exemplification of the use of such traces is provided by dissecting an example of their use in the environmental reconstruction of mountain climate. (shrink)