Reminiscences of Peter, by P. Oppenheim.--Natural kinds, by W. V. Quine.--Inductive independence and the paradoxes of confirmation, by J. Hintikka.--Partial entailment as a basis for inductive logic, by W. C. Salmon.--Are there non-deductive logics?, by W. Sellars.--Statistical explanation vs. statistical inference, by R. C. Jeffre--Newcomb's problem and two principles of choice, by R. Nozick.--The meaning of time, by A. Grünbaum.--Lawfulness as mind-dependent, by N. Rescher.--Events and their descriptions: some considerations, by J. Kim.--The individuation of events, by D. Davidson.--On properties, by (...) H. Putnam.--A method for avoiding the Curry paradox, by F. B. Fitch.--Publications (1934-1969) by Carl G. Hempel (p. -270). (shrink)
Nicholas Rescher presents a critical reaction against two currently influential tendencies of thought. On the one hand, he rejects the facile relativism that pervades contemporary social and academic life. On the other hand, he opposes the rationalism inherent in neo-contractarian theory--both in the idealized communicative-contract version promoted in continental European political philosophy by J;urgen Habermas, and in the idealized social contract version of the theory of political justice promoted in the Anglo-American context by John Rawls. Against such tendencies, Rescher's pluralist (...) approach takes a more realistic and pragmatic line, eschewing the convenient recourse of idealization in cognitive and practical matters. Instead of a utopianism that looks to a uniquely perfect order that would prevail under ideal conditions, he advocates incremental improvements within the framework of arrangements that none of us will deem perfect but that all of us "can live with." Such an approach replaces the yearning for an unattainable consensus with the institution of pragmatic arrangements in which the community will acquiesce--not through agreeing on their optimality, but through a shared recognition among the dissonant parties that the available options are even worse. (shrink)
Contending that only a normative theory of rationality can be adequate to the complexities of the subject, this book explains and defends the view that rationality consists of the intelligent pursuit of appropriate objectives. Rescher considers the mechanics, rationale, and rewards of reason, and argues that social scientists who want to present a theory of rationality while avoiding the vexing complexities of normative deliberations must amend their perspective of the rational enterprise.
The disagreement of philosophers is notorious. In this book, Rescher develops a theory that accounts for this conflict and shows how the basis for philosophical disagreement roots in divergent 'cognitive values'-values regarding matters such as importance, centrality, and priority. In light of this analysis, Rescher maintains that, despite this inevitable discord, a skeptical or indifferentist reaction to traditional philosophy is not warranted, seeing that genuine value-conflicts are at issue. He argues that philosophy is an important and worthwhile enterprise, notwithstanding its (...) inability to achieve rationally constrained consensus on the issues. Given the nature of the enterprise, consensus is not a realistic goal, and failure to achieve it is not a defect. Accordingly, Rescher argues against the revisionist views proposed by Richard Rorty and Robert Nozick. His discussions are devoted to providing a clear view of why philosophical problems arise and how philosophers address them. (shrink)
Presumption is a remarkably versatile and pervasively useful resource. Firmly grounded in the law of evidence from its origins in classical antiquity, it made its way in the days of medieval scholasticism into the theory and practice of disputation and debate. Subsequently, it extended its reach to play an increasingly significant role in the philosophical theory of knowledge. It has thus come to represent a region where lawyers, debaters, and philosophers can all find some common around. In Presumption and the (...) Practices of Tentative Cognition, Nicholas Rescher endeavors to show that the process of presumption plays a role of virtually indispensable utility in matters of rational inquiry and communication. The origins of presumption may lie in law, but its importance is reinforced by its service to the theory of information management and philosophy. (shrink)
The main object of this paper is to provide the logical machinery needed for a viable basis for talking of the ‘consequences’, the ‘content’, or of ‘equivalences’ between inconsistent sets of premisses.With reference to its maximal consistent subsets (m.c.s.), two kinds of ‘consequences’ of a propositional set S are defined. A proposition P is a weak consequence (W-consequence) of S if it is a logical consequence of at least one m.c.s. of S, and P is an inevitable consequence (I-consequence) of (...) S if it is a logical consequence of all the m.c.s. of S. The set of W-consequences of a set S it determines (up to logical equivalence) its m.c.s. (This enables us to define a normal form for every set such that any two sets having the same W-consequences have the same normal form.) The W-consequences and I-consequences will not do to define the ‘content’ of a set S. The first is too broad, may include propositions mutually inconsistent, the second is too narrow. A via media between these concepts is accordingly defined: P is a P-consequence of S, where P is some preference criterion yielding some of the m.c.s. of S as preferred to others, and P is a consequence of all of the P-preferred m.c.s. of S. The bulk of the paper is devoted to discussion of various preference criteria, and also surveys the application of this machinery in diverse contexts - for example, in connection with the processing of mutually inconsistent reports. (shrink)
A reprint of the popular 1969, Prentice-Hall edition, the principal innovation of this philosophical introduction to value theory is its focus upon values as they are dealt with in everyday life situations, and have sometimes been studied by sociologists and social psychologists, rather than upon value as has been standard in the philosophical tradition.
This book is a study in the methodology of philosophical inquiry. It expounds and defends the thesis that systematization is the proper instrument of philosophical inquiry and that the effective pursuit of philosophy's mission calls for constructing a doctrinal system that answers our questions in a coherent and comprehensive manner.
Nicholas Rescher examines a number of controversial social issues using the intellectual tools of the philosopher, in an attempt to clarify some of the complexities of modern society, technology, and economics. He elucidates his thoughts on topics such as: whether technological progress leads to greater happiness; environmental problems; endangered species, costly scientific research on the frontiers of knowledge, medical/moral issues on the preservation of life; and crime and justice, among others.
Epistemic logic is the branch of philosophical thought that seeks to formalize the discourse about knowledge. Its object is to articulate and clarify the general principles of reasoning about claims to and attributions of knowledge. This comprehensive survey of the topic offers the first systematic account of the subject as it has developed in the journal literature over recent decades. Rescher gives an overview of the discipline by setting out the general principles for reasoning about such matters as propositional knowledge (...) and interrogative knowledge. Aimed at graduate students and specialists, Epistemic Logic elucidates both Rescher's pragmatic view of knowledge and the field in general. (shrink)
This book by distinguished philosopher Nicholas Rescher seeks to clarify the idea of what a conditional says by elucidating the information that is normally transmitted by its utterance. The result is a unified treatment of conditionals based on epistemological principles rather than the semantical principles in vogue over recent decades. This approach, argues Rescher, makes it easier to understand how conditionals actually function in our thought and discourse. In its concern with what language theorists call pragmatics--the study of the norms (...) and principles governing our use of language in conveying information--Conditionals steps beyond the limits of logic as traditionally understood and moves into the realm claimed by theorists of artificial intelligence as they try to simulate our actual information-processing practices.The book's treatment of counterfactuals essentially revives an epistemological approach proposed by F. P. Ramsey in the 1920s and developed by Rescher himself in the 1960s but since overshadowed by the now-dominant possible-worlds approach. Rescher argues that the increasingly evident liabilities of the possible-worlds strategy make a reappraisal of the older style of analysis both timely and desirable. As the book makes clear, an epistemological approach demonstrates that counterfactual reasoning, unlike inductive inference, is not a matter of abstract reasoning alone but one of good judgment and common sense. (shrink)
The theory of the economics of research played a central role in the analysis of scientific method of Charles Sanders Peirce. The present paper describes Peirce's project as he saw it and then puts its machinery to work in an analysis of current issues in the philosophy of science. The aim is to show that, even apart from their historical interest, Peirce's ideas on this subject have a substantial systematic interest.
TIME and again over the centuries, philosophers have dwelt with dismay on the inability of their discipline to lay to rest the disagreements of the past and to reach fixed and settled conclusions. Philosophers have often cast envious sidelong glances at the sciences, with their demonstrated capacity to solve the problems and settle the controversies of the field, and to yield a continually increasing number of established findings with respect to which a general consensus can be achieved.
Nature and Understanding explores the prospect of looking from a scientific point of view at such central ideas of traditional metaphysics as the simplicity of nature, its comprehensibility, or its systematic integrity. Rescher seeks to describe - in a way accessible to philosophers and nonphilosophers alike - the metaphysical situation that characterizes the process of inquiry in natural science. His principal aim is to see what light can be shed on reality by examining the modus operandi of natural science itself, (...) focusing as much on its findings as on its conceptual and methodological presuppositions. This is the culmination of many years of penetrating work in this area of philosophy by one of its most eminent exponents. It is the definitive presentation of some of Rescher's key ideas. (shrink)