According to a standard interpretation, Plato’s conception of our moral psychology evolved over the course of his written dialogues. In his earlier dialogues, notably the Protagoras, Meno, and Gorgias, Plato’s Socrates maintains that we always do what we believe is best. Many commentators infer from this that Socrates holds that the psyche is simple, in the sense that there is only one ultimate source of motivation: reason. By contrast, in the Republic, Phaedrus, and Timaeus, Socrates holds that the psyche is complex, or has three distinct and semi-autonomous sources of motivation, which he calls the reasoning, spirited, and appetitive parts. While the rational part determines what is best overall and motivates us to pursue it, the spirited and appetitive parts incline us toward different objectives, such as victory, honor, and esteem, or the satisfaction of our desires for food, drink, and sex.
José Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955) was a prolific and
distinguished Spanish philosopher in the twentieth century. In the
course of his career as philosopher, social theorist, essayist,
cultural and aesthetic critic, educator, politician and editor of the
influential journal, Revista de Occidente, he has written on
a broad range of themes and issues. Among his many books are:
Meditations on Quixote (1914), Invertebrate Spain
(1921), The Theme of Our Time (1923), Ideas on the
Novel (1925), The Dehumanization of Art (1925), What
is Philosophy? (1929), The Revolt of the Masses (1930),
En Torno a Galileo [Man and Crisis] (1933),
History as a System (1935), Man and People
(1939–40), The Origin of Philosophy (1943), The
Idea of Principle in Leibnitz and the Evolution of Deductive
When we construct a model of something, we must distinguish those features of the model which represent features of that which we model, from those features which are intrinsic to the model and play no representational role. The latter are artifacts of the model. For example, if we use string to make a model of a polygon, the shape of the model represents a feature of the polygon, and the size of the model may or may not represent a feature of the polygon, but the thickness and three-dimensionality of the string is certainly an artifact of the model.
Erich Lehmann 20 November 1917 – 12 September 2009
Erich Lehmann was born 100 years ago today! (20 November 1917 – 12 September 2009). Lehmann was Neyman’s first student at Berkeley (Ph.D 1942), and his framing of Neyman-Pearson (NP) methods has had an enormous influence on the way we typically view them. …
According to Dominic Lopes, expressiveness in pictures should be analyzed solely in terms of “expression looks” of various sorts, namely the look of a figure, a scene and/or a design. But, according to this view, it seems puzzling that expressive pictures should have any emotional effect on their audiences. Yet Lopes explicitly ties his “contour theory” of expression in pictures to empathic responses in spectators. Thus, despite his deflationary account of pictorial expression, he claims that pictures can give us practice in various “empathic skills.” I argue that Lopes’s account of empathic responses to pictures, while interesting and enlightening, nevertheless ignores the most important way in which pictures exercise and enhance our empathic skills, namely, by giving us practice in taking the emotional perspective of another person.
This article develops an account of local epistemic practices on the basis of case studies from ethnobiology. I argue that current debates about objectivity often stand in the way of a more adequate understanding of local knowledge and ethno-biological practices in general. While local knowledge about the biological world often meets criteria for objectivity in philosophy of science, general debates about the objectivity of local knowledge can also obscure their unique epistemic features. In modification of Ian Hacking’s suggestion to discuss “ground level questions” instead of objectivity, I propose an account that focuses on both epistemic virtues and vices of local epistemic practices.
Karl Jaspers (1883–1969) began his academic career working as
a psychiatrist and, after a period of transition, he converted to
philosophy in the early 1920s. Throughout the middle decades of the
twentieth century he exercised considerable influence on a number of
areas of philosophical inquiry: especially on epistemology, the
philosophy of religion, and political theory. The influence of Kant over Jaspers is widely acknowledged in the
literature, to the extent that he has been depicted as “The
first and the last Kantian” (Heinrich Barth, quoted in Ehrlich
1975, 211). Usually this evaluation is based on his reliance on the
subjective-experiential transformation of Kantian philosophy, which
reconstructs Kantian transcendentalism as a doctrine of particular
experience and spontaneous freedom, and emphasizes the constitutive
importance of lived existence for authentic knowledge.
Must true love be free? If one is manipulated to love another, it’s intuitive is that the love is not genuine or deeply valuable. Hence it seems that true love must be freely bestowed. Yet falling in love is often involuntary, and thus the metaphor of Cupid’s arrow. Must true love be deserved? If so, the truly beloved must be free, since freedom is required for desert. At the same time desert appears irrelevant to much of our love – we love our children independently of whether they deserve it. Intuitions about the relationship between love and freedom are thus conflicted, and stand in need of philosophical illumination.
Paul Humphreys, Emergence (OUP, 2016)Yesterday we saw, via an example from social psychology, that diachronic approaches to emergence can avoid some of the major problems of synchronic approaches. That motivating example is not wholly convincing as an example of transformational emergence. …
Bruno Bauer (6 September 1809–13 April 1882), philosopher,
historian, and theologian. His career falls into two main phases,
divided by the Revolutions of 1848. In the 1840s, the period known as
the Vormärz or the prelude to the German revolutions of March
1848, Bauer was a leader of the Left-Hegelian movement, developing a
republican interpretation of Hegel, which combined ethical and
aesthetic motifs. His theory of infinite self-consciousness, derived
from Hegel’s account of subjective spirit, stressed rational autonomy
and historical progress. Investigating the textual sources of
Christianity, Bauer described religion as a form of alienation, which,
because of the deficiencies of earthly life, projected irrational,
transcendent powers over the self, while sanctioning particularistic
sectarian and material interests.
There are various equivalent formulations of the Church-Turing thesis. A common one is that every effective computation can be carried out by
a Turing machine. The Church-Turing thesis is often misunderstood,
particularly in recent writing in the philosophy of mind.
Ammonius (ca. 435/445–517/526) taught philosophy at Alexandria,
where his father Hermeias had taught earlier. Known primarily for his
commentaries on Aristotle, which were said to be of greater benefit
than anyone else’s, he was also distinguished in geometry and
astronomy. Himself a pupil of Proclus at Athens, at Alexandria
Ammonius taught most of the important Platonists of the late
5th and early 6th centuries: Asclepius,
Damascius and Simplicius, Eutocius, and Olympiodorus; Elias and David
are considered indirect pupils of his. Damascius, who went on to head
the school at Athens, heard Ammonius lecture, but attached himself
rather to the mentorship of Isidore and followed him to Athens.
After a brief presentation of Feynman diagrams, we criticizise the idea that Feynman diagrams can be considered to be pictures or depictions of actual physical processes. We then show that the best interpretation of the role they play in quantum field theory and quantum electrodynamics is captured by Hughes' Denotation, Deduction and Interpretation theory of models (DDI), where “models” are to be interpreted as inferential, non-representational devices constructed in given social contexts by the community of physicists.
[Editor's Note: The following new entry by David Vander Laan replaces the
on this topic by the previous authors.] In the philosophy of religion, creation is the action by
which God brings an object into existence, while conservation
is the action by which God maintains the existence of an object over
time. The major monotheisms unambiguously affirm that God both created
the world and conserves it. It is less clear, however, whether
creation and conservation are to be conceived as distinct kinds of
actions. The question has its roots in medieval and early modern
characterizations of divine action, and it has received renewed
attention in recent decades.
This paper is about the putative theoretical virtue of strength, as it might be used in abductive arguments to the correct logic in the epistemology of logic. It argues for three theses. The first is that the well-defined property of logical strength is neither a virtue nor a vice, so that logically weaker theories are not—all other things being equal—worse or better theories than logically stronger ones. The second thesis is that logical strength does not entail the looser characteristic of scientific strength, and the third is that many modern logics are on a par—or can be made to be on a par—with respect to scientific strength.
“Intuitionistic logic” is a term that unfortunately gains
ever greater currency; it conveys a wholly false view on
intuitionistic mathematics. —Freudenthal 1937
Intuitionistic logic is an offshoot of L.E.J. Brouwer’s
intuitionistic mathematics. A widespread misconception has it that
intuitionistic logic is the logic underlying Brouwer’s
intuitionism; instead, the intuitionism underlies the logic, which is
construed as an application of intuitionistic mathematics to language. Intuitionistic mathematics consists in the act of effecting mental
constructions of a certain kind. These are themselves not linguistic
in nature, but when acts of construction and their results are
described in a language, the descriptions may come to exhibit
In this paper we compare two different notions of ‘power’, both of which attempt to provide a realist understanding of quantum mechanics grounded on the potential mode of existence. For this propose we will begin by introducing two different notions of potentiality present already within Aristotelian metaphysics, namely, irrational potentiality and rational potentiality. After discussing the role played by potentiality within classical and quantum mechanics, we will address the notion of causal power which is directly related to irrational potentiality and has been adopted by many interpretations of QM. We will then present the notion of immanent power which relates to rational potentiality and argue that this new concept presents important advantages regarding the possibilities it provides for understanding in a novel manner the theory of quanta. We end our paper with a comparison between both notions of ‘power’, stressing some radical differences between them.
Aristotle (b. 384 – d. 322 BCE), was a Greek philosopher,
logician, and scientist. Along with his teacher Plato, Aristotle is
generally regarded as one of the most influential ancient thinkers in
a number of philosophical fields, including political theory. Aristotle was born in Stagira in northern Greece, and his father was a
court physician to the king of Macedon. As a young man he studied in
Plato's Academy in Athens. After Plato's death he left Athens to
conduct philosophical and biological research in Asia Minor and
Lesbos, and he was then invited by King Philip II of Macedon to tutor
his young son, Alexander the Great.
[Editor's Note: The following new entry by Craig Martin replaces the
on this topic by the previous author.] Pietro Pomponazzi (1462–1525) was a leading philosopher of
Renaissance Italy. Teaching primarily at the universities at Padua and
Bologna, he developed innovative approaches to Aristotelian natural
philosophy and psychology. He gained particular fame, and notoriety,
for his philosophical investigations into the mortality of the soul
and for his naturalistic explanations of seemingly miraculous
phenomena and of the development of religions. Pomponazzi was notable
for his philosophical challenges to religious doctrine as well as for
his use of Alexander of Aphrodisias’s writings and Stoic ideas
to forge what he considered to be a purer or more accurate
interpretation of Aristotle’s natural philosophy and
The expression “continental rationalism” refers to a set
of views more or less shared by a number of philosophers active on the
European continent during the latter two thirds of the seventeenth
century and the beginning of the eighteenth. Rationalism is most often
characterized as an epistemological position. On this view, to be a
rationalist requires at least one of the following: (1) a privileging
of reason and intuition over sensation and experience, (2) regarding
all or most ideas as innate rather than adventitious, (3) an emphasis
on certain rather than merely probable knowledge as the goal of
The paper argues for a metaphysics in the vein of the Canberra plan, namely to single out a minimal, basic set of entities and then to show how everything else is located in that set by being identical with something in that set and how the propositions that describe the basic entities entail all the other true propositions. The paper conceives the Canberra plan for the domain of the natural sciences as a naturalized metaphysics that is not committed to a priori entailment. The proposal is that the minimal set of entities is defined by the following two axioms: (1) There are distance relations that individuate simple objects, namely matter points. (2) The matter points are permanent, with the distances between them changing. Finally, the paper explains how the Canberra plan sets a clear standard for ontological issues that go beyond the natural sciences.
In desiring the good, we aim to have our lives go well. This is the proposal I formulate and defend throughout the book. The desire to have one’s life go well makes one do something rather than nothing, perform this or that action, take up one pursuit or another. Agents need—and draw on—conceptions of what constitutes a good life. Conceptions of a good life locate some concerns at the center: this is what matters to the agent; these are the pursuits she takes up. Other concerns are located at the periphery, either because psychological resources are limited and the agent cannot care as much about them as she otherwise would; or because she thinks these matters deserve only little attention, though they need to be dealt with. Much about our conceptions of a good life is implicit. Much is encoded in affective attitudes or adopted by way of picking up a way of life shared with others. Typically conceptions of a good life have areas to which an agent has devoted considerable reflection—here we may say she knows what she wants—and others that are outlinish or unattended to. Moreover, for most of us our conception of a good life is work in progress. Perhaps it is even conflicted, say, because we take up pursuits that are not evidently compatible. We may want, as it were, more than fits into one life. Such conflicts flag that ordinarily agents do not have full-fledged and comprehensive conceptions of a good life. None of these constraints, however, makes the role of wanting one’s life go well any less fundamental for human motivation.
The kind of skepticism that interests me in this book is not the skepticism that asks whether or not I know that this is my hand, or that you are not a zombie. Instead, it is part of an approach to epistemology that thinks of questions about knowledge, belief, and truth as being immediately tied to normative and evaluative questions. Much of the inspiration for this kind of skepticism derives from Socrates, or rather, the Socrates of Plato’s dialogues. In a famous line of the Apology, Socrates says that the unexamined life is not worth living for a human being (38a5-6). Ancient skepticism inherits this spirit. It is centrally about stepping back from belief-formation and counteracting one’s tendencies to be quick to judge. Closely related, it is concerned with the ways in which one can fail to understand one’s own thoughts, and fail to examine thoughts because one likes or dislikes them, or because one prefers to hold a view as opposed to holding no view. These psychological phenomena are taken to differ importantly from processes of rationally guided belief-formation, where a cognizer is inclined to accept a thought after careful consideration of whether it is true.
In this article, I explore aspects of grief and the surprising mirroring of hermeneutic research and the experience of grief. Neither grief or hermeneutic research are predictable, formulaic, or without surprises, and both require patience, humility, and an openness to what comes to greet us in the nature of aletheia.
Kate Beamer’s (2017) article, And Coyote Howled: Listening to the Call of Interpretive Inquiry, in its raw grief, and thoughtful insight, brings to mind the hermeneutic capacity to understand grief as “not quite this and not quite that.” As much as I have studied grief from a hermeneutic research approach (Moules, McCaffrey, Field, & Laing, 2015), and I have counselled bereaved parents, and stood present with many parents at the death of their children, I have not personally felt grief in the way I do now, as five months later, I continue to interpret and re-interpret the death of my father, John Moules.
In his pioneering work of moral phenomenology, K. E. Løgstrup offered a phenomenological articulation of a central moment of ethical life: the experience in which “one finds oneself with the life of another more- or- less in one’s hands” (cf. EF p. 58/ED p. 46). In such circumstances we encounter what Løgstrup calls simply the ethical demand. Løgstrup’s preferred formulation of the content of that demand is taken from the Bible: Love thy neighbor. This neighborly love is expressed in the form of spontaneous, selfless care for the other. We shall have occasion in what follows to return to the content that Løgstrup associates with the ethical demand, but my primary focus here is not its content but its distinctive modality. Løgstrup specifies that modality in a fourfold analysis: the ethical demand is radical, silent, one- sided, and unfulfillable. My concern in what follows will be with the fourth element in this analysis—or what I shall refer to simply as Løgstrup’s unfulfillability thesis. My discussion addresses three specific questions: (1) Is it coherent to suppose that the ethical demand is unfulfillable? (2) Why does Løgstrup hold that the ethical demand is unfulfillable? (3) What kind of response is appropriate in the face of an unfulfillable ethical demand? In starting in on these questions, I propose to begin by considering a preemptive objection that has been levied against Løgstrup’s position.
I will provide you, free of charge, a beautiful island paradise in the Caribbean. Just imagine it: tall swaying palm trees, white sand beaches, crystal blue ocean vistas, exotic birds of every variety, baby-blue skies – everything we are accustomed to imagining when we hear the words 'island paradise.' On this island I will build for you any sort of house you desire. Create in your mind the most magnificent palace: indoor and outdoor swimming pools, elegant verandas, luxurious bedrooms, saunas, hot tubs, recreation rooms, gyms. It’s all yours. Beyond this, you may have anything to eat that you like, at any time of the day or night. Pick up the phone and order the finest meals prepared by the finest chefs from the finest restaurants across the world. It will all be delivered to you – by robots – at your merest wish.
Two of the most prominent questions in Kant’s critical philosophy
concern reason. One question is central to his theoretical philosophy. It arises from the metaphysical assertions of earlier
“rationalist” philosophers, especially Leibniz and
Descartes. Which claims can reason hope to establish securely? A
second question is central to his practical philosophy. It arises from
the subservient role accorded to reason by the British
empiricists—above all Hume, who declared, “Reason is
wholly inactive, and can never be the source of so active a principle
as conscience, or a sense of morals” (Treatise,
188.8.131.52; see also the entry on
rationalism vs. empiricism).
Reflection on talk of reasons for action or belief suggests that reasons serve both normative and explanatory purposes. After all, reasons are cited in answer both to “why should he do it?” and “why is he doing it?”, as well as in answer both to “why should he believe it?” and “why does he believe it?”. These normative and explanatory functions are not distinct. To explain by citing someone’s reason is to state a factor in virtue of whose support the action was performed or the proposition believed. One might think that this normative-explanatory nexus, as Joseph Raz has labeled it, is at the heart of rationality. That will, in any case, be our working hypothesis in this paper. We argue that the aesthetic domain falls inside the scope of rationality and, furthermore, that it does so in its own way.
In the forties, a group of critics known as the “New Critics,” became influential in American academics. The New Critics includes such figures as John Crowe Ransome and Cleanth Brooks. They were distinguished from their predecessors by taking the literary work as a text to be studied apart from its relations to the world and human edification. In particular, the referential aspects of literary works exterior to the text were relegated to secondary considerations, at best. So, for instance, in discussing a Donne poem, New Critics would be little interested in whether Donne’s description of love was accurate of seventeenth-century English life-styles, but very interested in the ways features of the poem function together. They were especially interested in how the poem itself instantiated the theme of the poem. Such self-referentiality was not new in criticism. Perhaps most famously, Pope’s Essay on Criticism partially consists of lines like, “A needless Alexandrine ends the song,/ That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.” Implicit in the notion of taking the poem itself as an art-object is the opening of questions about the reference of a literary art object. Since the interest was in the text as such, the New Critics rediscovered that interpretations that treated the text as self-referential were illuminating. The interest in the text itself led to explorations of the possibility that the figures and structural features of the literary works constituted systems of thought, much like theories. The examination of various sizes of literary production from individual poems to life-works produced something plausibly like such literary-world-systems in various author’s works. New Critical investigations were particularly interested in the traditional aesthetic value of unity, and a constant theme in their analyses is showing how the various features of the art-object as such exhibit hidden unities in the diversity of elements that constitutes a text.