Suppose a fire broke out in a fertility clinic. One had time to save either a young girl, or a tray of ten human embryos. Would it be wrong to save the girl? According to Michael Sandel, the moral intuition is to save the girl; what is more, one ought to do so, and this demonstrates that human embryos do not possess full personhood, and hence deserve only limited respect and may be killed for medical research. We will argue, however, (...) that no relevant ethical implications can be drawn from the thought experiment. It demonstrates neither that one always ought to let the embryos die, nor does it allow for any general conclusion concerning the moral status of human embryos. (shrink)
The article tries to prove that the famous formula "epekeina tês ousias" has to be understood in the sense of being beyond being and not only in the sense of being beyond essence. We make hereby three points: first, since pure textual exegesis of 509b8–10 seems to lead to endless controversy, a formal proof for the metaontological interpretation could be helpful to settle the issue; we try to give such a proof. Second, we offer a corollary of the formal proof, (...) showing that not only self-predication of the form of the Good, but of any form is not possible, that is: no form of F has the form of F. Third, we apply Spinoza’s distinction between an ens imaginarium and a chimaera to Plato’s Idea of the Good. (shrink)
Definition, conditions and bearers of being a person - three philosophical aporias. -/- In this article I examine the philosophical question of how to define the concept of the person in a non-arbitrary way, how to find out the determining conditions of being a person and how to enumerate the bearers of being a person. I come to the conclusion that the question of a non-arbitrary definition, of the essential conditions and of the bearers of being a person has not (...) yet been clarified; it is not sufficiently clear what we actually mean or should mean by "person" - beyond conventions, disciplinary boundaries and doctrines. This results in three philosophical aporias of the concept of the person. (shrink)
The paper deals with the question of the structure of knowledge and the precise relationship between propositional "knowledge that" and dispositional "knowledge how." In the first part of my essay, I provide an analysis of the term 'knowing how' and argue that the usual alternatives in the recent epistemological debate – knowing how is either a form of propositional or dispositional knowledge – are misleading. In fact it depends on the semantic and pragmatic context of the usage of this term (...) whether 'knowing how' refers to a type of dispositional knowledge, to propositional knowledge, or to a hybrid form of both. Only in the first case, can one say that dispositional know how cannot be reduced to any form of propositional knowledge. Yet, this case is the most interesting one to consider in the investigation of the nature of knowledge, if one assumes that knowing that p presupposes "having found out that p." Having found something out, however, presupposes certain acts of epistemic inquiry and corresponding epistemic abilities. Examined more carefully, it is shown that the dispositional knowledge-how is a necessary condition for propositional knowledge-that, hence propositional knowledge-that is a species of the dispositional knowledge-how. Accordingly, dispositional knowledge has to be understood as being at the very core of our notion of knowledge, including propositional knowledge. (shrink)
Limits of the Conversation about Forms. Types of Knowledge and Necessity of Forms in Plato's "Parmenides". - Forms (ideas) are among the things that Plato is serious about. But about these things he says in his "Seventh Letter": "There neither is nor ever will be a treatise of mine on the subject." (341c, transl. J. Harward). Plato's statement suggests the question, why one does not and never can do justice to the Platonic forms by means of a written text about (...) the forms. Another big question of Plato research is whether the conversations documented in the Platonic dialogues are also affected by this verdict. This paper aims to provide, as far as possible, newly substantiated answers to these two questions. To this end, the systematic limits of the discussion about forms, which are particularly evident in Plato's dialogue "Parmenides", are examined in eight steps: First, two types of knowledge are presented that play an important systematic role in Plato's philosophy with regard to the limits of conversation: knowledge-how (practical knowledge) and knowledge-that (propositional knowledge) (I). Then the Socratic model of these two types of knowledge is interpreted, which is drafted in the tenth book of the "Republic". This model uses the example of bridle, bridlemaker and rider to explain the primacy of practical knowledge and the limits of propositional knowledge (II). Subsequently, it will be shown how the dialogues "Republic" and "Parmenides" are connected with each other in content and form (III). The gradation of the two types of knowledge, which is indicated by the motifs of the bridle and the horse on the image level of the "Parmenides", proves to be the structure that systematically underlies the structure of the entire dialogue (IV). It also makes clear why the conversation about the forms in the first part of the "Parmenides" has to fail (V). The assumption that the two parts of the "Parmenides" express two different types of knowledge in dealing with forms is supported by the results of a logical analysis of the last defence of the acceptance of forms (135b-c). This analysis shows why, for reasons of principle, it is impossible to speak adequately about forms (VI). Forms have the function of being presuppositions of 'talking about something'. Thus forms are always presupposed in conversation when one talks about them, and thus elude appropriate discussion in conversation (VII). That this is not only a methodical insight of the Platonic Parmenides, but can also be attributed to Plato himself, is demonstrated by the concluding reinterpretation of the central sentence of the critique of writing in Plato's "Seventh Letter". It will become apparent that, contrary to the now widespread view of the representatives of the Tübingen school, philosophical and also good philological reasons speak for the fact that Plato related his criticism only to the communicability of forms through treatises, i.e. tract-like writings (VIII). (shrink)
Autologos. A dialogue on fundamental logic. - In this dialogue of three dialogue partners, an attempt is made to prove the logical prerequisites of any meaningful dialogue by using transcendental arguments. Among these inescapable logical premises are a semantics as strong as that of modal logic S5, and an epistemic anti-realism.
Forms of justification. On the structure and scope of self-refutation arguments in Plato, Cicero and Apel. - In this essay, the structure and scope of transcendental types of argumentation are analyzed, compared and criticized on the basis of the reception of two antiskeptical types of reasoning in ancient philosophy (Plato, Parmenides 135b-c; Cicero, Lucullus § 28) by a contemporary philosophical author (Karl-Otto Apel). Plato puts forward a transcendental argument for the inevitability of a final knowledge. Cicero argues that a principle (...) of fallibilism occurring with universal claim contradicts itself. In Karl-Otto Apel's transcendental pragmatic variant of philosophy, the two types of self-refutation arguments developed in Plato's and Cicero's dialogues are brought together into a single argumentation. (shrink)
The principle of performative contradiction. On the epistemological significance of the dialogue form in Plato's "Euthydemus". - In this study, an analysis of the section 285d-288a of Plato's "Euthydemus" shall show two things: (1) The sophistic model of a world in which there is no contradiction, in which every linguistic utterance is true and every action correct, has no semantic inconsistencies, but can only be rejected with the help of the principle of performative contradictions. (2) It is precisely these performative (...) contradictions that make it necessary for Plato to philosophize not in treatises but in dialogues; in other words, that the philosophical relevance of the Platonic form of dialogue can be seen, among other things, in the fact that - in contrast to philosophical forms of representation such as the treatise, the essay, and a henology as reconstructed and represented by the Tübingen School - it permits the representation of performative reflections and performative contradictions. (shrink)
When in doubt, for the embryo. New arguments on the moral status of human embryos. - In the first part of our essay we distinguish the philosophical from the legal and political level of the embryo debate and describe our indirect justification strategy. It consists in renouncing a determination of the dignity-giving φ-properties and instead starting from premises that are undoubted by all discussion partners. In the second part we reconstruct and criticize the species, continuum, identity and potentiality arguments. The (...) species argument only has a certain plausibility, if at all, as a critical argument. From the continuum argument and identity argument we take over the idea of numerical identity (NI) and link it with the core idea of the potentiality argument (P). So we come to the NIP argument: -/- (NIP) -/- (1) Every living human body that is the bearer of (or has) potential φ-properties has dignity. (2) Every viable human embryo is a living human body that is the bearer of (or has) potential φ properties. Therefore, (3) Every viable human embryo has dignity. -/- Reversibly comatose people and newborns are protected because they have the potential to have actual personal characteristics in the future; our thesis is that embryos that are capable of development also have the same potential in moral terms. The basic idea of numerical identity, with which we support the second premise, is that every human being, from embryonic existence to adulthood, forms a physical unity. In a detailed part, we deal with the crown princess, gametes, parthenogenesis, somatic cell, pronuclear stage, biological heteronome early embryo, multiple, fusion, Siamese twin, hydatidiform mole and finally trophoblast problems. In a third part, the indirect argument is supplemented by a metatheoretical cautionary argument. It states that in situations where there is doubt as to whether a being falls within the scope of a moral norm, but there are sufficiently strong reasons for this subsumption, it must be assumed that this is the case if the contrary assumption and the positive effects it may have are in no acceptable proportion to the moral harm that would result if that subsumption were not made. The main result of our considerations is therefore: When in doubt, for the embryo. (shrink)
Is knowledge-that a species of knowledge-how? - How is knowledge-how related to knowledge-that? Three possible answers are: (A1) intellectualism: knowledge-how is a subspecies of knowledge-that. (A2) Rylean account: knowledge-how and knowledge-that are completely distinct. (A3) anti-intellectualism: knowledge-that is a subspecies of knowledge-how. In this essay I present a new anti-intellectualist reductio argument that shows that answer A3 is true: knowledge-that is a subspecies of knowledge-how.
Can we find propositions that cannot rationally be denied in any possible world without assuming the existence of that same proposition, and so involving ourselves in a contradiction? In other words, can we find transworld propositions needing no further foundation or justification? Basically, three differing positions can be imagined: firstly, a relativist position, according to which ultimately founded propositions are impossible; secondly, a meta-relativist position, according to which ultimately founded propositions are possible but unnecessary; and thirdly, an absolute position, according (...) to which such propositions are necessary. In this short essay I show that under the premise of modal logic S5 with constant domain there are ultimately founded propositions and that their existence is even necessary, and I will give some reasons for the superiority of S5 over other logics. (shrink)
When does a human being begin to exist? Barry Smith and Berit Brogaard have argued that it is possible, through a combination of biological fact and philosophical analysis, to provide a definitive answer to this question. In their view, a human individual begins to exist at gastrulation, i. e. at about sixteen days after fertilization. In this paper we argue that even granting Smith and Brogaard's ontological commitments and biological assumptions, the existence of a human being can be shown to (...) begin much earlier, viz., with fertilization. Their interpretative claim that a zygote divides immediately into two substances and therefore ceases to exist is highly implausible by their own standards, and their factual claim that there is no communication between the blastomeres has to be abandoned in light of recent embryological research. (shrink)
Ordinary language and scientific discourse are filled with linguistic expressions for dispositional properties such as “soluble,” “elastic,” “reliable,” and “humorous.” We characterize objects in all domains – physical objects as well as human persons – with the help of dispositional expressions. Hence, the concept of a disposition has historically and systematically played a central role in different areas of philosophy ranging from metaphysics to ethics. The contributions of this volume analyze the ancient foundations of the discussion about disposition, examine the (...) problem of disposition within the context of the foundation of modern science, and analyze this dispute up to the 20th century. Furthermore, articles explore the contemporary theories of dispositions. (shrink)
In his "Ontological proof", Kurt Gödel introduces the notion of a second-order value property, the positive property P. The second axiom of the proof states that for any property φ: If φ is positive, its negation is not positive, and vice versa. I put forward that this concept of positiveness leads into a paradox when we apply it to the following self-reflexive sentences: (A) The truth value of A is not positive; (B) The truth value of B is positive. Given (...) axiom 2, sentences A and B paradoxically cannot be both true or both false, and it is also impossible that one of the sentences is true whereas the other is false. (shrink)
God's necessary existence makes sense. Attempt at a transcendental modal proof. - In this essay I outline a novel three-stage proof of God's necessary existence using transcendental and deductive methods. In the first step of the proof, by retorsion, it is proved that there is at least one sentence that is necessary and inescapable. In the second step, the inescapability of the modal logic supposed in the proof is shown. This step also contains a new argument in favour of epistemic (...) anti-realism. The third step finally proves the necessary existence of the person who proves. The proof thus refers to the subject, the object, and the method of this proof itself. (shrink)
In his Paradoxes (1995: Cambridge University Press: 149) Mark Sainsbury presents the following pair of sentences: Line 1: The sentence written on Line 1 is nonsense. Line 2: The sentence written on Line 1 is nonsense. Sainsbury (1995: 149, 154) here makes three assertions: (1) The sentence in Line 1 is so viciously self-referential that it falls into the truth-value gap. The sentence is really nonsense. (2) The sentence in Line 2 is by contrast true. For it states precisely that (...) the sentence in Line 1 is nonsense. (3) The two sentences in Lines 1 and 2 are an example of the principle that two sentence tokens of the same sentence-type can have different truth-values, although they have the same reference and state the same property of the object of reference. In this paper, I argue that Sainsbury’s assumptions are false in all three cases. (shrink)
The Contingency Postulate of Truth. - Is there a statement that cannot be false under any contingent conditions? Two well-known philosophical schools have given contradictory answers to this question about the existence of a necessarily true statement: Fallibilists (Albert, Keuth) have denied its existence, transcendental pragmatists (Apel, Kuhlmann) and objective idealists (Wandschneider, Hösle) have affirmed it. Dieter Wandschneider has (following Vittorio Hösle) translated the principle of fallibilism, according to which every statement is fallible, into a thesis which he calls the (...) contingency postulate of truth (CPT). It says: <For every true statement there are contingent conditions.> If this postulate were true, it would mark an insurmountable boundary of knowledge: a final epistemic justification would then not be possible. Wandschneider has therefore developed a counterargument to show that the contingency postulate of truth cannot be formulated without contradiction and implies the thesis that there is at least one necessarily true statement. This essay deals with the systematic question whether the contingency postulate of truth really cannot be presented without contradiction. To this end I will first present the contingency postulate and the associated problems (I.). Then I will analyze Wandschneider's argument against the consistency of the contingency postulate (II.) and finally reject it with the help of some considerations from the field of epistemic logic (III.). (shrink)
Enlightenment and Science. - Extensive conference report about a meeting organised by Rainer Enskat and Andreas Kleinert, which took place on 25 and 26 January 2007 in the rooms of the IZEA and the Leopoldina, the German National Academy of Sciences, in Halle (Saale), Germany. The topic of the conference was the question, which had become urgent since the 18th century, whether enlightenment through science is possible or necessary despite science.
Is knowledge-how a hidden knowledge-that, and therefore also a relation between an epistemic subject and a proposition? What is the connection between knowledge-how and knowledge-that? I will deal with both questions in the course of my paper. In the first part, I argue that the term ‘knowledge-how’ is an ambiguous term in a semantic pragmatic sense, blending two distinct meanings: ‘knowledge-how’ in the sense of knowledge-that, and ‘knowledge-how’ in the sense of an ability. In the second part of my paper, (...) I construe five alternative ways of correlating knowledge-that and knowledge-how in the sense of an ability. I will argue in favour of one of them. I will show that knowledge-how is not a species of knowledge-that but rather that knowledge-that is a species of knowledge-how. More specifically, dispositional knowledge-how is at the core of propositional knowledge-that and accordingly should be understood to be at the center of epistemology. -- In Spanish: ¿Es el saber-cómo un saber-que disfrazado y, por lo tanto, también una relación entre un sujeto epistémico y una proposición? ¿Cuál es la relación entre el saber-cómo y el saber-que? Trataré ambas preguntas a lo largo de mi escrito. En la primera parte, argumento que el término 'saber-cómo' es ambiguo en un sentido semántico-pragmático, combinando dos significados distintos: 'saber-cómo' en el sentido de saber-que, y 'saber-cómo' en el sentido de una habilidad. En la segunda parte de mi escrito, considero cinco formas alternativas de correlacionar saber-que y saber-cómo en el sentido de una habilidad. Argumentaré a favor de una de ellas. Mostraré que el saber-cómo no es una especie de saber-que; más bien, argumentaré que el saber-que es una especie de saber-cómo. Específicamente, que el saber-cómo disposicional está en el núcleo del saber-que proposicional y, por consiguiente, debe entenderse que está en el centro de la epistemología. (shrink)
Is knowledge-how a hidden knowledge-that, and therefore also a relation between an epistemic subject and a proposition? What is the connection between knowledge-how and knowledge-that? I will deal with both questions in the course of my paper. In the first part, I argue that the term ‘knowledge-how’ is an ambiguous term in a semantic pragmatic sense, blending two distinct meanings: ‘knowledge-how’ in the sense of knowledge-that, and ‘knowledge-how’ in the sense of an ability. In the second part of my paper, (...) I construe five alternative ways of correlating knowledge-that and knowledge-how in the sense of an ability. I will argue in favour of one of them. I will show that knowledge-how is not a species of knowledge-that but rather that knowledge-that is a species of knowledge-how. More specifically, dispositional knowledge-how is at the core of propositional knowledge-that and accordingly should be understood to be at the center of epistemology. (shrink)
Enlightenment and Science. - Short conference report about a meeting organised by Rainer Enskat and Andreas Kleinert, which took place on 25 and 26 January 2007 in the rooms of the IZEA and the Leopoldina, the German National Academy of Sciences, in Halle (Saale), Germany. The topic of the conference was the question, which had become urgent since the 18th century, whether enlightenment through science is possible or necessary despite science.
This edition of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s “De ente et uno” (“On being and the one”) offers for the first time a key text for the reformation of metaphysics in Renaissance philosophy in German translation. The Latin text is added. The detailed introduction and careful commentary reveal the guiding points Pico has set with this work.
This new and important introduction to Seneca provides a systematic and concise presentation of this author’s philosophical works and his tragedies. It provides handbook style surveys of each genuine or attributed work, giving dates and brief descriptions, and taking into account the most important philosophical and philological issues. In addition, they provide accounts of the major steps in the history of their later influence. The cultural background of the texts and the most important problem areas within the philosophic and tragic (...) corpus of Seneca are dealt with in separate essays. (shrink)
In the debate about the moral status of human embryos, it is not always clear which arguments are actually disputed. This book offers students and researchers, but also laypersons interested in the current debate, the opportunity to inform themselves about the current state of discussion and to learn about the most important arguments in a clear and concise form. These arguments are as follows: Since embryos as members of the species homo sapiens sapiens are human beings, they possess dignity (species (...) argument); embryos develop continuously, i.e. without morally relevant incisions, into adult human beings possessing dignity (continuum argument); embryos are identical with adult human beings possessing dignity (identity argument); embryos have the potential to become human beings, and this potential is without restriction worth protecting (potentiality argument). These arguments are each represented by a pro position and a contra position and defended or criticized. In an accompanying contribution by the editors, the four arguments in context are reconstructed, evaluated, and supported by new arguments. (shrink)
Thinking is a kind of dialogue ─ according to Plato thinking is a silent and inner conversation of the soul with itself. Understanding presupposes thinking. Therefore, understanding presupposes a kind of dialogue. From this conclusion arises not only the question of what dialogue and understanding are in essence, but also the question of the connection between dialogue and understanding. This volume explores these two question complexes in both a philosophical-historical and a systematic manner and presents possible answers from a classical (...) as well as a modern perspective. Contributors to this volume are Gregor Damschen (Oldenburg), Lourdes Flamarique (Navarra), Vittorio Hösle (Notre Dame), Hans Lenk (KIT), Dmitri Nikulin (The New School for Social Research), Jorge Afredo Roetti (CONICET), Jochen Sauer (Bielefeld), Alejandro G. Vigo (Navarra), Mirko Wischke (Halle), and Ángel Xolocotzi (Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla). (shrink)
With contributions by John J. Cleary, Gregor Damschen, Rainer Enskat, Francisco J. Gonzalez, Jürgen Mittelstraß and Carlo Natali (all on Plato) as well as by Enrico Berti, Nicolas Braun, Graciela M. Chichi, Wolfgang Kullmann, Helmut Mai, Alejandro G. Vigo, Franco Volpi and Hermann Weidemann (all on Aristotle).
Doing Philosophy Yourself. A Book of Methods. Whoever wants to philosophize must do three things: analyze for himself, argue for himself, and interpret for himself. This book enables one to learn the methods of philosophy through exercises and solutions close to philosophical practice; particular emphasis is put on close textual interpretation. This book is excellent both for the university and for self-study.
Theophrastus' treatise "Metaphysics" contains a compact and critical reconstruction of unsolved systematic problems of classical Greek philosophy. It is primarily about fundamental problems of ontology and natural philosophy, such as the question of the interdependence of principles and perceptible phenomena or the plausibility of teleology as a methodical principle of the explanation of nature. The aim of the critical Greek-German edition (with introduction and commentary) is to make visible the systematic significance of Theophrastus' critique of metaphysics.