This article discusses the essence and form of various types of metatheory, paying special attention to metaphilosophy. It suggests the idea of the metatheoretical model—a completely new approach in philosophical discussion—and considers this concept with regard to the Platonic model and the Rhodian model. These models permit two different systems of metatheoretical construction. The paradigms of modern science allow the formation of metatheories that help further the development of logical, mathematical, and similar sciences. The Rhodian model allows the discovery (...) of methods that are helpful in building certain types of theory, as well as suggesting and examining theories that have special metatheoretical features and revealing their common features and differences with regard to other theories. The article discusses the complicated problem of the interrelation between philosophy and metaphilosophy and shows that metaphilosophy is also philosophy, not in the sense that metaphilosophy is a special part of philosophy but rather in the sense that metaphilosophy is a special kind of functioning of philosophy itself. (shrink)
Abstract: This brief article describes the circumstances that led to the creation of the journal Metaphilosophy in autumn 1968. A year after I had left graduate school, an unfortunate accident left me flat on my back for several weeks with nothing to do while recuperating from eye surgery. Bored, I decided to do something constructive, so I created a scholarly journal devoted to articles about the nature of philosophy, or how the different schools or branches of philosophy relate to (...) each other, or how philosophy relates to other disciplines. I made up the word “metaphilosophy” to describe such content, and I decided to call the journal by that name. With help from my wife, from my best friend, and from my undergraduate philosophy mentor, the journal Metaphilosophy was launched. (shrink)
Often philosophers have reason to ask fundamental questions about the aims, methods, nature, or value of their own discipline. When philosophers systematically examine such questions, the resulting work is sometimes referred to as “metaphilosophy.” Metaphilosophy, it should be said, is not a well-established, or clearly demarcated, field of philosophical inquiry like epistemology or the philosophy of art. However, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries there has been a great deal of metaphilosophical work on issues concerning the (...) methodology of philosophy in the analytic tradition. This article focuses on that work. (shrink)
Why is debate over the free will problem so intractable? In this broad and stimulating look at the philosophical enterprise, Richard Double uses the free will controversy to build on the subjectivist conclusion he developed in The Non-Reality of Free Will (OUP 1991). Double argues that various views about free will--e.g., compatibilism, incompatibilism, and even subjectivism--are compelling if, and only if, we adopt supporting metaphilosophical views. Because metaphilosophical considerations are not provable, we cannot show any free will theory to be (...) most reasonable. Metaphilosophy and Free Will deconstructs the free will problem and, by example, challenges philosophers in other areas to show how their philosophical argumentation can succeed. (shrink)
Quine famously holds that "philosophy is continuous with natural science". In order to find out what exactly the point of this claim is, I take up one of his preferred phrases and trace it through his writings, i.e., the phrase "Science itself teaches that …". Unlike Wittgenstein, Quine did not take much interest in determining what might be distinctive of philosophical investigations, or of the philosophical part of scientific investigations. I find this indifference regrettable, and I take a fresh look (...) at Quine's metaphilosophy, trying to defuse his avowed naturalism by illustrating how little influence his naturalistic rhetoric has on the way he actually does philosophy. (shrink)
This is an essay on philosophical methodology, the disciplinary prejudices of the Anglophone philosophical world, and how these things interact with some aspects of the content and form of Latin American philosophy to preclude the latter's integration with mainstream Anglophone philosophical work. Among the topics discussed of interest to analytic philosophers: metaphilosophy, the status hierarchy of philosophical subfields, experimental philosophy, and patterns of openness and exclusion in philosophy. Among the topics of interest to philosophers interested in Latin American philosophy (...) and comparative philosophy: the nature of disputes about the existence of Latin American philosophy, the significance of this genre of writing, how contributions to it can proceed, and why metaphilosophical concerns in Latin America are problematic for the prospects for integration with the Anglophone philosophical world. (shrink)
Terry Horgan (with D. Henderson and G. Graham) defends a new general metaphilosophical position called postanalytic metaphilosophy (PAM). I raise some critical points connected with the application of PAM to the problem of freedom. I question the distinction between opulent and austere construals of philosophical concepts. According to Horgan compatibilism comports better overall with the relevant data than does incompatibilism. I raise some objections. At the end I argue that contextualism is an inadequate explanation of incompatibilistic intuitions.
We argue that philosophy has an important role to play in bridging certain social practices with certain scientific advancements. Specifically, we describe such a role by focusing on the issue of how and whether neuropsychological data concerning psychopathic offenders reflect on their criminal culpability. We offer some methodological requirements for this type of philosophical application. In addition, we show how it might help in addressing the problem of determining the criminal responsibility of psychopathic offenders.
This article argues for four interrelated claims: Metaphilosophy is not one sub-discipline of philosophy, nor is it restricted to questions of methodology. Rather, metaphilosophical inquiry encompasses the general background conditions of philosophical practice. These background conditions are of various sorts, not only those routinely considered “philosophical” but also those considered biographical, historical, and sociological. Accordingly, we should be wary of the customary distinction between what is proper and merely contingent to philosophy. “What is philosophy?” is best understood as a (...) practical question concerning how members of different philosophical sub-communities identify what is pertinent to their respective activities and self-conceptions. Given –, understanding what philosophy is requires us to take more seriously the social-institutional dimension of contemporary philosophical practice. (shrink)
In this paper I offer a discussion of chapter 3 of Adrian Moore’s The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics, which is titled “Leibniz: Metaphysics in the Service of Theodicy.” Here Moore discusses the philosophy of Leibniz and comes to a damning conclusion. My main aim is to suggest that such a conclusion might be a little premature. I begin by outlining Moore’s discussion of Leibniz and then raise some problems for the objections that Moore presents. I follow this by raising a (...) Moore-inspired problem of my own and offer a possible response. The response is based on a little-known essay of Leibniz’s called “Leibniz’s Philosophical Dream” and leads me to consider Leibniz’s deepest motivations for engaging in philosophical reflection. (shrink)
In this chapter I juxtapose the methodological commitments of Gilles Deleuze with some different forms of contemporary neo-pragmatism developed by Nicholas Rescher, Sami Pihlstrom and Joseph Margolis. Focusing upon their respective conceptions of transcendental reasoning, naturalism, and common sense, I conclude that Deleuze’s philosophy challenges some core aspects of contemporary neo-pragmatism, and hence also the prospects for a rapprochement that might warrant the name of "transcendental pragmatics".
The practice of appealing to intuitions as evidence has recently been criticized by experimental philosophers. While some traditional philosophers defend intuitions as a trustworthy source of evidence, others try to undermine the challenge this criticism poses to philosophical methodology. This paper argues that some recent attempts to undermine the challenge from experimental philosophy fail. It concludes that the metaphilosophical question whether intuitions play a role in philosophy cannot be decided by analyzing our use of the word ‘intuition’ or related terms, (...) and what philosophers rely on may not be manifest on the surface of what they write. The question what intuitions are and what their role is in philosophy has to be settled within the wider framework of a theory of knowledge, justification, and philosophical methodology. (shrink)
This paper offers a critical response to the claims of Sivin and Lloyd and Mattice to the effect that Greek and Roman philosophy was characterised by a predominance of combat metaphors. Drawing on Plato and Plutarch, as well as contemporary studies led by Nussbaum, I argue that a host of different metaphors was demonstrably used in the Greek tradition to describe philosophy and its subjects, led by the therapeutic or medicinal metaphor of philosophy as ‘therapy of desire’ or of desiderative (...) opinion. I propose that it was the sophists like Protagoras, at least as they are depicted by Plato, who sought to conceive of philosophising as a strategic, warlike activity. In conclusion, I reflect on the invisibility of the medicinal metaphor, outside of certain dedicated studies in the history of ideas, in contemporary thinking about Western philosophy and its past. (shrink)
Recently in these pages it has been argued that a relatively straightforward version of an old argument based on evolutionary biology and psychology can be employed to support the view that innate ideas are a naturalistic source of metaphysical knowledge. While sympathetic to the view that the “evolutionary argument” is pregnant with philosophical implications, I show in this paper how it needs to be developed and deployed in order to avoid serious philosophical difficulties and unnecessary complications. I sketch a revised (...) version of the evolutionary argument, place it in a new context, and show that this version in this context is not vulnerable to the standard criticisms levelled against arguments of this general type. The philosophical import of this version of the argument lies not in any metaphysical conclusions it sanctions directly, but in the support it lends to the metaphilosophy of commonsense. (shrink)
Paul Horwich presents a bold new interpretation of Wittgenstein's later work. He argues that it is Wittgenstein's radically anti-theoretical metaphilosophy - and not his identification of the meaning of a word with its use - that underpins his discussions of specific issues concerning language, the mind, mathematics, knowledge, art, and religion.
This paper describes an undergraduate course in metaphilosophy for philosophy majors and argues that there are four potential benefits to students; namely that doing metaphilosophy allows students to draw their own conclusions about what philosophy is, develops students’ metacognitive skills to promote learning, establishes students as members of the philosophical community, and disposes students to live lives that reflect their philosophical education. It describes issues of transparency of course design and the particulars of the course, including course content, (...) and provides excerpts of student work to demonstrate student learning outcomes. Finally, it will suggest that even if it is not possible to offer a stand-alone course in metaphilosophy, instructors should provide opportunities to reflect on metaphilosophical issues in their other philosophy courses. (shrink)
Traditional representations of philosophy have tended to prize the role of reason in the discipline. These accounts focus exclusively on ideas and arguments as animating forces in the field. But anecdotal evidence and more rigorous sociological studies suggest there is more going on in philosophy. In this article, we present two hypotheses about social factors in the field: that social factors influence the development of philosophy, and that status and reputation—and thus social influence—will tend to be awarded to philosophers who (...) offer rationally compelling arguments for their views. In order to test these hypotheses, we need a more comprehensive grasp on the field than traditional representations afford. In particular, we need more substantial data about various social connections between philosophers. This investigation belongs to a naturalized metaphilosophy, an empirical study of the discipline itself, and it offers prospects for a fuller and more reliable understanding of philosophy. (shrink)
Metaphilosophy is itself philosophy about philosophy. It is not something before or independent of philosophy. Both Kai Nielsen and Richard Rorty are deeply concerned (someone might say obsessively preoccupied) with metaphilosophy. They both are thoroughly historicist and contextualist resolutely rejecting any form of a transcendental or metaphysical turn. They argue against claims to absolute validity (as well as against absolutism in any form) and a natural order of reasons: some 'Reason' to which any rational agent must be committed. (...) They both see philosophy as a transitional genre first (historically speaking) from religion then metaphysics and more latterly from scientistic conceptions of the world. But they differ about what philosophy is transitional to. For Rorty it is historical narrative and utopian proposals; for Nielsen it is critical theory. Rorty claims this, Nielsen's intentions to the contrary notwithstanding, commits him to enlightenment rationalism. Nielsen replies that his form of critical theory is deeply historicist and contextual without being resolutely atheoretical. This plays out in political orientation to Nielsen's being a socialist while Rorty is a social democrat. (shrink)
I have spent 40 years looking for a coherent and convincing way of formulating my worries about what, if anything, philosophy is good for.Richard Rorty had an unusually avid interest in metaphilosophy. Again and again he would return to questions about the practical uses (if any) to which philosophy might be put, about philosophy's role in intellectual culture, about what philosophy is or might become. His answers to these questions were famously negative: philosophy's practical uses are few, its cultural (...) role marginal. Philosophy is or will be whatever we make of it.Yet it is one thing to have given up on the idea of Philosophy as a Fach with a naturally occurring canon of problems, or in terms of the closely .. (shrink)
Implicit in the scottish tradition is a metaphilosophy of commonsense which deserves as much attention as that recently given to scottish presentative realism and agent causality. The author articulates this metaphilosophy by (a) sketching a systematic metaphilosophy of commonsense, (b) considering to what extent thomas reid fits this pattern, And (c) deciding to what extent asa mahan, One of the ablest of the american realists, Fits it. The result is a characterization of a coherent scottish metaphilosophy (...) still worthy of consideration. He also explores the question whether the metaphilosophy that emerges from (b) and (c) is part of an ongoing tradition. It has been suggested that there are important similarities between the scottish view and g e moore's concept of analysis. While he agrees that there are analogies he stresses the disanalogies as more enlightening about the nature of both. (shrink)
What is philosophy? What is metaphor? Could thinking take place metaphorically? If one follows the mainstream Western definition of philosophy, the answer to the latter question would certainly be negative. Metaphors are perceived as primitive, pre-analytical, and imprecise—thus pre-philosophical! Drawing on multiple cross-cultural resources, Metaphor and Metaphilosophy: Philosophy as Combat, Play, and Aesthetic Experience by Sarah A. Mattice insightfully challenges this widespread assumption in the current...
In this article I offer an account of what it means for Universalism to be a metaphilosophy. I first argue that traditional philosophical systems and views suffer from two main defects. First, they are closed, in the sense that they have made their final judgment on what the world is like. Second, they are mostly Eurocentric; regardless of their attempt to be objective and universalist in their orientation, they express the European values, beliefs, and world views. As a (...) class='Hi'>metaphilosophy, Universalism is an open concept. It recognizes that our knowledge of the world is an on-going process of discovery. It does not attempt to synthesize or reject the variety of religious, ideological, and philosophical views and approaches; on the contrary, it seeks to provide a universal conceptual framework within which these views and approaches can thrive and dialogue with each other. The structure of this framework is made up of the universal features of nature and human nature. Accordingly the universal is not an ideal or natural or metaphysical essence of some kind. The universal is made, and it is made collectively by scholars from the different academic disciplines. This is why Universalism aspires to articulate the most comprehensive vision of the world. In this attempt it tries to grasp the highest fruits of all the achievements of the human spirit in religion, ideology, philosophy, and culture. I also discuss two more important features of Universalism as a metaphilosophy: co-creation and metanoia. (shrink)
The fate of concepts which comprise the philosophical knowledge of our epoch, an epoch in which the information explosion, including scientific information, has become a universal conditioning factor, unfolds in various ways. Some of these concepts are inscribed in a basic way in the categorial apparatus of philosophy. Others, having failed the tests of time and philosophical and methodological practice, lose their significance for philosophy and drop out of the conceptual apparatus as easily as they entered. Among the various new (...) concepts in contemporary philosophy, that of "metaphilosophy" occupies a special place. (shrink)
This paper describes and evaluates two different ways of doing philosophy: a “reflexive” approach that sees metaphilosophical inquiry as fundamental, and a “nonreflexive” approach that sees metaphilosophy as dispensable. It examines arguments that have been advanced for these approaches by Gilbert Ryle, Jerry Fodor, and Richard Rorty, and claims that none of these arguments are convincing. Finally, the paper draws on Alasdair MacIntyre’s work to propose a different way of choosing between the approaches, one that asks which approach is (...) more successful at making its appeal intelligible to the other. From this perspective, the reflexive approach appears to have an important advantage over its rival. (shrink)
Hegel is commonly understood to have required that the philosophy of history must be retrospective and therefore fundamentally conservative. Yet at the same time he is thought to have claimed that his system involved an absolute truth beyond which no philosophy could advance, and that it therefore marked the end of the history of philosophy. The two claims are evidently inconsistent, since a history of philosophy, which must be bound by constraints on the philosophy of history, could not legitimately comment (...) on philosophy's future. If this is the result of Hegel's metaphilosophy then he has contributed at least this much to his reputation for presumption and incoherence. However, I will argue that both claims are based upon misinterpretations that follow from inattention to Hegel's ontology, and that his metaphilosophy is more subtle and more critical than most interpreters have allowed. Though Hegel clearly requires that a philosophy draw its content from its time, he regards it as historically transcendent in its form, and as consequently playing a crucial role in the transition to the next historical epoch. The discussion begins with Hegel's views on the role of philosophy in history and proceeds to his conception of his place in the history of philosophy. (shrink)
: This article charts the rise and fall of the Modern System of the Arts and the failure of the aesthetic theory of art to define membership in the so-called system, which, instead, I argue, is and has been, for a long time, merely a historically evolved collection. Rather than endorsing the continued attempt to define Art with a capital A in terms of aesthetic experience, I recommend alternative lines of research for contemporary philosophers of the arts.
[From the article's Introduction]: The main topic of the article is the Western metaphilosophy of the last hundred years or so. But that topic is broached via a sketch of some earlier Western metaphilosophies. (In the case of the sketch, ‘Western’ means European. In the remainder of the article, ‘Western’ means European and North American. On Eastern metaphilosophy, see the entries filed under such heads as ‘Chinese philosophy’ and ‘Indian philosophy’.) Once that sketch is in hand, the article defines (...) the notion of metaphilosophy and distinguishes between explicit and implicit metaphilosophy. Then there is a consideration of how metaphilosophies might be categorized and an outline of the course of the remainder of the article. (shrink)
This paper discusses how Universalism came into being as a metaphilosophy and social movement, and outlines its main characteristics, meaning and content. The paper’s central theme is the accentuation of the two main aspects of Universalism. The first aspect is the key role of dialogue in Universalism. The second is the belief that Universalism is first and foremost a social movement, rather than a philosophical doctrine. In outlining the origins of Universalism, the invaluable role of Professor Kuczyński as its (...) originator is emphasized. The rest of the paper discusses Universalism’s other important characteristics, namely: (1) the quest for truth, (2) the principle of dialogue, (3) a practical approach to scientific knowledge and philosophy, (4) its interdisciplinary nature, (5) patriotism, (6) Europeanism, (7) concern over ecological issues, (8) concern for human beings, (9) a permanent alliance between Universalism, Catholic social science and Christian personalism. (shrink)
Terry Horgan defends a new general metaphilosophical position called postanalytic metaphilosophy. I raise some critical points connected with the application of PAM to the problem of freedom. I question the distinction between opulent and austere construals of philosophical concepts. According to Horgan compatibilism comports better overall with the relevant data than does incompatibilism. I raise some objections. At the end I argue that contextualism is an inadequate explanation of incompatibilistic intuitions.
The article begins by outlining Naess's pluralistic theory of philosophical systems and indicating its connection with Naess's semantics, i.e. his account of interpretation, preciseness, definiteness of intention, and level of discrimination. Reference is also made to the indeterminacy relation which Naess claims holds between, on the one hand, philosophically relevant preciseness, definite-ness of intention, and level of discrimination, and, on the other, comparability and philosophical neutrality of standpoints. Naess claims philosophical neutrality for his theory of systems, on the basis of (...) its purported low level of preciseness with respect to philosophical issues. The correctness of this claim is questioned. Naess's semantics and theory of systems seem to involve commitment in relation to epistemological and ontological issues. His view of the relationship between objects (entities) and systems seems to be of a kind that might be called system-relativism. If Naess claims that he avoids such a commitment by remaining at a lower level of preciseness where a certain relevant distinction (between identification of an entity and conceptual delimitation, characterization, or description of it) is not drawn, this claim is exposed to logical problems. Hence either pluralistic metaphilosophy is not system-neutral or it is logically suspect. (shrink)