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.
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)
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)
Saul Kripke’s new book is the written version of his notorious John Locke Lectures from 1973, entitled Reference and Existence. The book contains the six lectures, the elaborate discussion and application of Kripke’s earlier conception – worked out in Naming and Necessity – to such problems as reference, existence, negative existential claims, ctional characters, semantical and speaker’s reference ‘in order to tie up some loose ends’.
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)
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.
What is philosophy? How should we do it? Why should we bother to? These are the kinds of questions addressed by metaphilosophy - the philosophical study of the nature of philosophy itself. Students of philosophy today are faced with a confusing and daunting array of philosophical methods, approaches and styles and also deep divisions such as the notorious rift between analytic and Continental philosophy. This book takes readers through a full range of approaches - analytic versus Continental, scientistic versus (...) humanistic, 'pure' versus applied - enabling them to locate and understand these different ways of doing philosophy. Clearly and accessibly written, it will stimulate reflection on philosophical practice and will be invaluable for students of philosophy and other philosophically inclined readers. (shrink)
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)
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)
Carnap’s lectures at the 1935 Paris Congress for the Unity of Science marked the beginning of his mature metaphilosophy. This paper considers what role remained for epistemology once it was “purified” of all psychological elements as Carnap there demanded. It is argued that while this did mean the end of traditional epistemology, room was found for nontraditional versions in the course of the further development of Carnap’s logic of science.
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)
In Metaphilosophy and Free Will, Richard Double seeks to establish two theses: Disputes over free will are in principle unsolvable, since they stem from incommensurable metaphilosophical views and principles. Given a metaphilosophy which takes philosophy to be continuous with science, free will is not an objective feature of reality. Double defines free choices as "choices that, unless some excusing condition obtains, are sufficient to qualify their agents as morally responsible for the actions those choices produce and as warranting (...) reactive attitudes". This definition, he claims, has the advantage of being neutral between competing theories of what a free choice is. At the same time it is particularly relevant to his defense of thesis. (shrink)
[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)
Nicholas Rescher unites two facets of metaphilosophy to show that the historical perspective and forward-thinking normative, or systematic, approach are, together, an integral component of philosophy itself.
This article argues that a pragmatist ambition to transcendence undergirds Richard Rorty’s metaphilosophy. That transcendence might play a positive role in Rorty’s work might seem implausible given his well-known rejection of the idea that human practices are accountable to some external, Archimedean standpoint, and his endorsement of the historicist view that standards of rationality are products of time and chance. It is true that Rorty’s contributions to epistemology, philosophy of mind and metaphysics have this anti-transcendentalist character. But in his (...)metaphilosophy, Rorty shows great respect for pre-philosophical impulses aimed at transcendence of some kind, in particular the romantic experience of awe at something greater than oneself, and the utopian striving for a radically better world. These impulses do not disappear in Rorty’s metaphilosophy but are reshaped in a pragmatist iteration of transcendence which, we argue, can be characterised as horizontal and weak. We use this characterization to distinguish Rorty’s metaphilosophy from other accounts that share a postmetaphysical ambition to transcendence. (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)
In this article I will discuss various aspects of Hegel’s radical critique of metaphilosophy. This critique announces a clear-cut departure from the widely held conviction in the philosophic tradition that in order to gain a firm foundation for science, a preliminary examination of the capacity and nature of knowledge is required. Hegel’s position is that such a propaedeutic is impossible. In the first part of this article, I will show how Hegel’s position can be illuminated in terms of his (...) criticism of Kant’s philosophic methodology and in terms of a comparison with Plato’s solution to the Meno paradox. In the second part, I will ask the question whether Hegel’s own philosophic method is consistent with his criticism of metaphilosophy. This question arises most clearly when we reflect on Hegel’s frequent claim that in order for the philosopher to write the science of knowledge, he or she needs “only to watch” or “merely to look on” at the way consciousness develops its knowledge of objects. We must consider whether such a “language of spectatorship,” as we might call it, does not contradict the evident conclusion of Hegel’s critique of metaphilosophy, viz., that the philosopher cannot attain a distanced perspective from knowledge without at the same time abandoning knowledge. (shrink)
Pragmatism is brass tacks philosophy. In fact, it's more than just that, as the pragmatist also holds the view that philosophy ought to be brass tacks philosophy. Pragmatisms are not simply aligned in terms of what solutions they propose for philosophical problems, but they are aligned in terms of how they view philosophical problems and what solutions would be in the first place. In many ways, this metaphilosophical view is the prime mover for pragmatist first-order philosophizing. The pragmatist may enjoin (...) that there is no first philosophy, but for most pragmatists, their metaphilosophy functions as one.1The founding documents of pragmatism, Peirce's "Consequences of Four Incapacities," James's "The Sentiment of... (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)
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...
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)
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 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.