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What is the source of logical and mathematical truth? This volume revitalizes conventionalism as an answer to this question. Conventionalism takes logical and mathematical truth to have their source in linguistic conventions. This was an extremely popular view in the early 20th century, but it was never worked out in detail and is now almost universally rejected in mainstream philosophical circles. In Shadows of Syntax, Jared Warren offers the first book-length treatment and defense of a combined conventionalist theory of logic and mathematics. He argues that our conventions, in the form of syntactic rules of language use, are perfectly suited to explain the truth, necessity, and a priority of logical and mathematical claims. In Part I, Warren explains exactly what conventionalism amounts to and what linguistic conventions are. Part II develops an unrestricted inferentialist theory of the meanings of logical constants that leads to logical conventionalism. This conventionalist theory is elaborated in discussions of logical pluralism, the epistemology of logic, and of the influential objections that led to the historical demise of conventionalism. Part III aims to extend conventionalism from logic to mathematics. Unlike logic, mathematics involves both ontological commitments and a rich notion of truth that cannot be generated by any algorithmic process. To address these issues Warren develops conventionalist-friendly but independently plausible theories of both metaontology and mathematical truth. Finally, Part IV steps back to address big picture worries and meta-worries about conventionalism. This book develops and defends a unified theory of logic and mathematics according to which logical and mathematical truths are reflections of our linguistic rules, mere shadows of syntax.
This comprehensive Handbook offers a leading-edge yet accessible guide to the most important facets of Arthur Schopenhauer's philosophical system, the last true system of German philosophy. Written by a diverse, international and interdisciplinary group of eminent and up-and-coming scholars, each of the 28 chapters in this Handbook includes an authoritative exposition of different viewpoints as well as arguing for a particular thesis. Authors also put Schopenhauer's ideas into historical context and connect them when possible to contemporary philosophy. Key features: Structured in six parts, addressing the development of Schopenhauer's system, his epistemology and metaphysics, aesthetics and philosophy of art, ethical and political thought, philosophy of religion and legacy in Britain, France, and the US. Special coverage of Schopenhauer's treatment of Judaism, Christianity, Vedic thought and Buddhism Attention to the relevance of Schopenhauer for contemporary metaphysics, metaethics and ethics in particular. The Palgrave Schopenhauer Handbook is an essential resource for scholars as well as advanced students of nineteenth-century philosophy. Researchers and graduate students in musicology, comparative literature, religious studies, English, French, history, and political science will find this guide to be a rigorous and refreshing Handbook to support their own explorations of Schopenhauer's thought.
The Oxford Classical Texts, or Scriptorum Classicorum Bibliotheca Oxoniensis, are renowned for their reliability and presentation. The series consists of a text without commentary but with a brief apparatus criticus at the foot of each page. There are now over 100 volumes, representing the greater part of classical Greek and Latin literature.
Stephen Schiffer's writing has been central to analytic philosophy of language and mind since the 1970s. In 1972 his book Meaning launched an important research program into Gricean, or intention-based, approaches to linguistic meaning, which would come to dominate much subsequent theorizing about language. A sea change occurred in 1987 with the publication of Remnants of Meaning. Schiffer here repudiated the project initiated by Meaning, arguing that the theory of public-language meaning it described and the account of mental representation it required were based on false presuppositions. The ramifications here were far reaching and set the agenda for discussions in the philosophy of language and mind for a generation. In 2003, The Things We Mean initiated a more positive program, but one informed by the negative results of Remnants. Things also reflected the broadening of Schiffer's concerns, which now extended to metaphysics, metaethics, and the skeptical paradoxes. In Meanings and Other Things fourteen leading philosophers explore central themes in Schiffer's writings. Topics range from theories of meaning to moral cognitivism, the nature of paradox, and the problem of vagueness. The volume also contains a comprehensive introduction that describes the evolution of Schiffer's thought, and closes with Schiffer's replies to his critics, extended essays that bring us up to date on Schiffer's current thinking on the themes that have defined not only his career, but philosophy of language as it is now practised.
Are space and time fundamental features of our world or might they emerge from something else? The Foundation of Reality brings together metaphysicians and philosophers of physics working on space, time, and fundamentality to address this timely question. Recent developments in the interpretation of quantum mechanics and the understanding of certain approaches to quantum gravity have led philosophers of physics to propose that space and time might be emergent rather than fundamental. But such discussions are often conducted without engagement with those working on fundamentality and related issues in contemporary metaphysics. This book aims to correct this oversight. The diverse contributions to this volume address topics including the nature of fundamentality, the relation of space and time to quantum entanglement, and space and time in theories of quantum gravity. Only through consideration of a range of different approaches to the topic can we hope to get clear on the status of space and time in our contemporary understanding of physical reality.
This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence. It is free to read at Oxford Scholarship Online and offered as a free PDF download from OUP and selected open access locations. Everything Flows explores the metaphysical thesis that the living world is not made up of substantial particles or things, as has often been supposed, but is rather constituted by processes. The biological domain is organised as an interdependent hierarchy of processes, which are stabilized and actively maintained at different timescales. Even entities that intuitively appear to be paradigms of things, such as organisms, are actually better understood as processes. Unlike previous attempts to articulate processual views of biology, which have tended to use Alfred North Whitehead's panpsychist metaphysics as a foundation, this book takes a naturalistic approach to metaphysics. It submits that the main motivations for replacing an ontology of substances with one of processes are to be found in the empirical findings of science. Biology provides compelling reasons for thinking that the living realm is fundamentally dynamic, and that the existence of things is always conditional on the existence of processes. The phenomenon of life cries out for theories that prioritise processes over things, and it suggests that the central explanandum of biology is not change but rather stability, or more precisely, stability attained through constant change. This edited volume brings together philosophers of science and metaphysicians interested in exploring the prospects of a processual philosophy of biology. The contributors draw on an extremely wide range of biological case studies, and employ a process perspective to cast new light on a number of traditional philosophical problems, such as identity, persistence, and individuality.
In the afterlife you may find that God is the size of a microbe and unaware of your existence. Or you may find the afterlife contains only those people whom you remember. In some afterlives you are split into all your different ages; in some you are recreated based on your credit-card records; and in others you are forced to live with annoying versions of yourself that represent what you could have been. In these wonderfully imagined tales - at once funny, wistful and unsettling - Eagleman kicks over the chessboard of traditional notions and offers us a dazzling lens through which to see ourselves here and now. His stories are rooted in science and romance and awe at our mysterious existence: a mixture of hope, love and death that cuts through human nature at innovative angles.
Mark Wilson presents a series of explorations of our strategies for understanding the world. "Physics avoidance" refers to the fact that we frequently cannot reason about nature in the straightforward manner we anticipate, but must seek alternative policies that allow us to address the questions we want answered in a tractable way. Within both science and everyday life, we find ourselves relying upon thought processes that reach useful answers in opaque and roundabout manners. Conceptual innovators are often puzzled by the techniques they develop, when they stumble across reasoning patterns that are easy to implement but difficult to justify. But simple techniques frequently rest upon complex foundations-a young magician learns how to execute a card-guessing trick without understanding how its progressive steps squeeze in on a proper answer. As we collectively improve our inferential skills in this gradually evolving manner, we often wander into unfamiliar explanatory landscapes in which simple words encode physical information in complex and unanticipated ways. Like our juvenile conjurer, we fail to recognize the true strategic rationales underlying our achievements and may turn instead to preposterous rationalizations for our policies. We have learned how to reach better conclusions in a more fruitful way, but we remain baffled by our own successes. At its best, philosophical reflection illuminates the natural developmental processes that generate these confusions and explicates their complexities. But current thinking within philosophy of science and language works to opposite effect by relying upon simplistic conceptions of "cause", "law of nature", "possibility", and "reference" that ignore the strategic complexities in which these concepts become entangled within real life usage. To avoid these distortions, better descriptive tools are required in philosophy. The nine new essays within this volume illustrate this need for finer discriminations through a range of revealing cases, of both historical and contemporary significance.
The Devil, Satan, Lucifer, Mephistopheles - throughout history the Prince of Darkness, the Western world's most powerful symbol of evil, has taken many names and shapes. Jeffrey Burton Russell here chronicles the remarkable story of the Devil from antiquity to the present. While recounting how past generations have personified evil, he deepens our understanding of the ways in which people have dealt with the enduring problem of radical evil.After a compelling essay on the nature of evil, Russell uncovers the origins of the concept of the Devil in various early cultures and then traces its evolution in Western thought from the time of the ancient Hebrews through the first centuries of the Christian era. Next he turns to the medieval view of the Devil, focusing on images found in folklore, scholastic thought, art, literature, mysticism, and witchcraft. Finally, he follows the Devil into our own era, where he draws on examples from theology, philosophy, art, literature, and popular culture to describe the great changes in this traditional notion of evil brought about by the intellectual and cultural developments of modern times.Is the Devil an outmoded superstition, as most educated people today believe? Or do the horrors of the twentieth century and the specter of nuclear war make all too clear the continuing need for some vital symbol of radical evil? A single-volume distillation of Russell's epic tetralogy on the nature and personifcation of evil from ancient times to the present (published by Cornell University Press between 1977 and 1986), The Prince of Darkness invites readers to confront these and other critical questions as they explore the past faces of that figure who has been called the second most famous personage in Christianity.
There are many actions that we attribute, at least colloquially, to states. Given their size and influence, states are able to inflict harm far beyond the reach of a single individual. But there is a great deal of unclarity about exactly who is implicated in that kind of harm, and how we should think about responsibility for it. It is a commonplace assumption that democratic publics both authorize and have control over what their states do; that their states act in their name and on their behalf. In Not In Their Name, Holly Lawford-Smith approaches these questions from the perspective of social ontology, asking whether the state is a collective agent, and whether ordinary citizens are members of that agent. If it is, and they are, there's a clear case for democratic collective culpability. She explores alternative conceptions of the state and of membership in the state; alternative conceptions of collective agency applied to the state; the normative implications of membership in the state; and both culpability (from the inside) and responsibility (from the outside) for what the state does. Ultimately, Lawford-Smith argues for the exculpation of ordinary citizens and the inculpation of those working in public services.
This is the first volume of essays devoted to Berkeley's Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, a classic of early modern philosophy. Leading experts examine all the central issues in Berkeley's work. The Three Dialogues is a dramatization of Berkeley's philosophy in which the two protagonists Hylas and Philonous debate the full range of Berkeleyan themes: the rejection of material substance, the nature of perception and reality, the limits of human knowledge, and his approach to the perceived threats of skepticism, atheism and immorality. When Berkeley presented his first statement of his immaterialist philosophy in the Principles of Human Knowledge three years earlier he was met with incredulity - how could a sane person deny the existence of matter? Berkeley felt that a new approach was needed in order to bring people over to his novel point of view. This new effort was the Three Dialogues. In the preface to the Three Dialogues Berkeley stated that its aim was to "treat more clearly and fully of certain principles laid down" in the Principles. Esteem for Berkeley's work has increased significantly in recent decades, and this volume will be the starting-point for future research.
In 1687 Isaac Newton ushered in a new scientific era in which laws of nature could be used to predict the movements of matter with almost perfect precision. Newton's physics also posed a profound challenge to our self-understanding, however, for the very same laws that keep airplanes in the air and rivers flowing downhill tell us that it is in principle possible to predict what each of us will do every second of our entire lives, given the early conditions of the universe. Can it really be that even while you toss and turn late at night in the throes of an important decision and it seems like the scales of fate hang in the balance, that your decision is a foregone conclusion? Can it really be that everything you have done and everything you ever will do is determined by facts that were in place long before you were born? This problem is one of the staples of philosophical discussion. It is discussed by everyone from freshman in their first philosophy class, to theoretical physicists in bars after conferences. And yet there is no topic that remains more unsettling, and less well understood. If you want to get behind the facade, past the bare statement of determinism, and really try to understand what physics is telling us in its own terms, read this book. The problem of free will raises all kinds of questions. What does it mean to make a decision, and what does it mean to say that our actions are determined? What are laws of nature? What are causes? What sorts of things are we, when viewed through the lenses of physics, and how do we fit into the natural order? Ismael provides a deeply informed account of what physics tells us about ourselves. The result is a vision that is abstract, alien, illuminating, and-Ismael argues-affirmative of most of what we all believe about our own freedom. Written in a jargon-free style, How Physics Makes Us Free provides an accessible and innovative take on a central question of human
Parthood and composition are everywhere. The leg of a table is part of the table, the word "Christmas" is part of the sentence "I wish you a merry Christmas", the 13th century is part of the Middle Ages. The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg compose Benelux, the body of a deer is composed of a huge number of cells, the Middle Ages are composed of the Early Middle Ages, High Middle Ages, and Late Middle Ages. Is there really a general theory covering every instance of parthood and composition? Is classical mereology this general theory? Are its seemingly counter-intuitive features serious defects? Mereology: A Philosophical Introduction addresses the multifaceted and lively philosophical debates surrounding these questions, and defends the idea that classical mereology is indeed the general and exhaustive theory of parthood and composition in the domain of concrete entities. Several examples of parthood and composition, involving entities of different kinds, are scrutinised in depth. Incidentally, mereology is shown to interact in a surprising way with metaontology. Presenting a well-organized and comprehensive discussion of parthood and related notions, Mereology: A Philosophical Introduction contributes to a better understanding of a subject central to contemporary metaphysics.
What is the relationship between ontology and modality - between what there is, and what there could be, must be, or might have been? Bob Hale interwove these two strands of metaphysics throughout his long and distinguished career, putting forward his theses in his book, Necessary Beings: An Essay on Ontology, Modality, and the Relations Between Them (OUP 2013). Hale addressed questions of ontology and modality on a number of fronts: through the development of a Fregean approach to ontology, an essentialist theory of modality, and in his work on neo-logicism in the philosophy of mathematics. The essays in this volume engage with these themes in Hale's work in order to progress our understanding of ontology, modality, and the relations between them. Some directly address questions in modal metaphysics, drawing on ontological concerns, while others raise questions in modal epistemology and of its links to matters of ontology, such as the challenge to give an epistemology of essence. Several essays also engage with questions of what might be called 'modal ontology': the study of whether and what things exist necessarily or contingently. Such issues have an important bearing on the kinds of semantic commitments engendered in logic and mathematics (to the existence of sets, or numbers, or properties, and so on) and the extent to which one's ontology of necessary beings interacts with other plausible assumptions and commitments.
This book presents new insights into Leibniz's research on planetary theory and his system of pre-established harmony. Although some aspects of this theory have been explored in the literature, others are less well known. In particular, the book offers new contributions on the connection between the planetary theory and the theory of gravitation. It also provides an in-depth discussion of Kepler's influence on Leibniz's planetary theory and more generally, on Leibniz's concept of pre-established harmony. Three initial chapters presenting the mathematical and physical details of Leibniz's works provide a frame of reference. The book then goes on to discuss research on Leibniz's conception of gravity and the connection between Leibniz and Kepler.
Metaphysics, almost entirely neglected by experimental philosophers, is the central focus of Experimental Metaphysics. The volume brings together a range of views aimed at addressing the question of how cognitive science might be relevant to metaphysics. With contributions from cognitive scientists and philosophers, chapters focus on theoretical and empirical issues involving the potential role of cognitive science in metaphysics. Alongside topics such as free will, objects and causation, in which relevant empirical evidence is discussed and connected to relevant metaphysical issues, more programmatic papers explore theoretical issues centered on the connection between cognitive science and metaphysics. This balanced approach exposes metaphysicians to philosophically relevant work in cognitive science, while showing cognitive scientists the ways in which their work might be important for philosophers. Presenting cutting-edge empirical and theoretical research, Experimental Metaphysics pushes forward the discussion and encourages further engagement with issues at the intersection of cognitive science and metaphysics.
This book challenges common debates in philosophy of mind by questioning the framework of placement problems in contemporary metaphysics. The author argues that placement problems arise when exactly one fundamental ontology serves as the base for all entities, and will propose a pluralist alternative that takes the diversity of our conceptual resources and ontologies seriously. This general pluralist account is applied to issues in philosophy of mind to argue that contemporary debates about the mind-body problem are built on this problematic framework of placement problems. The starting point is the plurality of ontologies in scientific practice. Not only can we describe the world in terms of physical, biological, or psychological ontologies, but any serious engagement with scientific ontologies will identify more specific ontologies in each domain. For example, there is not one unified ontology for biology, but rather a diversity of scientific specializations with different ontological needs. Based on this account of scientific practice the author argues that there is no reason to assume that ontological unification must be possible everywhere. Without this ideal, the scope of ontological unification turns out to be an open empirical question and there is no need to present unification failures as philosophically puzzling "placement problems".
Henri Bergson (1859-1941) was one of the most celebrated and influential philosophers of the twentieth century. He was awarded in 1928 the Nobel prize for literature for his philosophical work, and his controversial ideas about time, memory and life shaped generations of thinkers, writers and artists. In this clear and engaging introduction, Mark Sinclair examines the full range of Bergson's work. The book sheds new light on familiar aspects of Bergson's thought, but also examines often ignored aspects of his work, such as his philosophy of art, his philosophy of technology and the relation of his philosophical doctrines to his political commitments. After an illuminating overview of his life and work, chapters are devoted to the following topics: the experience of time as duration the experience of freedom memory mind and body laughter and humour knowledge art and creativity the elan vital as a theory of biological life ethics, religion, war and modern technology With a final chapter on his legacy, Bergson is an outstanding guide to one of the great philosophers. Including chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary, it is essential reading for those interested in metaphysics, time, free will, aesthetics, the philosophy of biology, continental philosophy and the role of European intellectuals in World War I.
Brian Hedden defends a radical view about the relationship between rationality, personal identity, and time. On the standard view, personal identity over time plays a central role in thinking about rationality. This is because, on the standard view, there are rational norms for how a person's attitudes and actions at one time should fit with her attitudes and actions at other times, norms that apply within a person but not across persons. But these norms are problematic. They make what you rationally ought to believe or do depend on facts about your past that aren't part of your current perspective on the world, and they make rationality depend on controversial, murky metaphysical facts about what binds different instantaneous snapshots (or 'time-slices') into a single person extended in time. Hedden takes a different approach, treating the relationship between different time-slices of the same person as no different from the relationship between different people. For purposes of rational evaluation, a temporally extended person is akin to a group of people. The locus of rationality is the time-slice rather than the temporally extended agent. Taking an impersonal, time-slice-centric approach to rationality yields a unified approach to the rationality of beliefs, preferences, and actions where what rationality demands of you is solely determined by your evidence, with no special weight given to your past beliefs or actions.
This book explores a range of traditional and contemporary metaphysical themes that figure in the writings of E. J. Lowe, whose powerful and influential work was still developing at the time of his death in 2015. During his forty-year career, he established himself as one of the world's leading philosophers, publishing eleven single-authored books and well over two hundred essays. His scholarship was strikingly broad, ranging from early modern philosophy to the interpretation of quantum mechanics. His most important and sustained contributions were to philosophy of mind, philosophical logic, and above all metaphysics. E. J. Lowe was committed to a systematic, realist, and scientifically informed neo-Aristotelean approach to philosophy. This volume presents a set of new essays by philosophers who share this commitment, addressing interrelated themes of his work. In particular, these papers focus upon three closely connected topics central not only to Lowe's work, but to contemporary metaphysics and philosophy of mind in general: ontology and categories of being; essence and modality, and the metaphysics of mental causation.
This book is an accessible introduction to the central themes of contemporary metaphysics. It carefully considers accounts of causation, freedom and determinism, laws of nature, personal identity, mental states, time, material objects, and properties, while inviting students to reflect on metaphysical problems. The philosophical questions discussed include: What makes it the case that one event causes another event? What are material objects? Given that material objects exist, do such things as properties exist? What makes it the case that a person may exist at two different times? An Introduction to Metaphysics makes these tough questions tractable by presenting the features and flaws of current attempts to answer them. Intended primarily for students taking a first class in metaphysics, this lucid and well-written text would also provide an excellent introduction for anyone interested in knowing more about this important area of philosophy.
Wittgenstein: Comparisons and Context is a collection of P. M. S. Hacker's papers on Wittgenstein and Wittgensteinian themes written over the last decade. It presents Hacker's own (Wittgensteinian) conception of philosophy, and defends it against criticisms. Two essays compare Wittgenstein with Kant on transcendental arguments, and offer a Wittgensteinian critique of Kant's transcendental deduction. Two further essays trace the development of Wittgenstein's philosophy of psychology, and examine his anthropological and ethnological approach to philosophical problems. This leads naturally to a synoptic comparison of Wittgenstein's later philosophy of language with formal, truth-conditional conceptions of language. A further two clarificatory essays follow these comparative ones: the first concerns Wittgenstein's conception of grammar, and his exclusion of theses, doctrines, dogmas, and opinions in philosophy; the second concerns his treatment of intentionality. The penultimate essay examines Quine's epistemological naturalism, which is often presented as a more scientific approach to philosophical problems than Wittgenstein's. The final essay offers a synoptic view of analytic philosophy and its history, in which Wittgenstein played so notable a part. The volume complements Hacker's previous collection, Wittgenstein: Connections and Controversies (OUP, 2001), but stands as an independent contribution to work in the field.
Denis McManus presents a new interpretation of Martin Heidegger's early vision of our subjectivity and of the world we inhabit. Heidegger's 'fundamental ontology' allows us to understand the creature that thinks as also one which acts, moves, even touches the world around it, a creature at home in the same ordinary world in which we too live our lives when outside of the philosophical closet; it also promises to free us from seemingly intractable philosophical problems, such as scepticism about the external world and other minds. But many of the concepts central to that vision are elusive; and some of the most widely accepted interpretations of Heidegger's vision harbour within themselves deep and important unclarities, while others foist upon us hopeless species of idealism. Heidegger and the Measure of Truth offers a new way of understanding that vision. Drawing on an examination of Heidegger's work throughout the 1920s, McManus takes as central to that vision the proposals that propositional thought presupposes a mastery of what might be called a 'measure', and that mastery of such a 'measure' requires a recognizably 'worldly' subject. These insights provide the basis for a novel reading of key elements of Heidegger's 'fundamental ontology', including his concept of 'Being-in-the-world', his critique of scepticism, his claim to disavow both realism and idealism, and his difficult reflections on the nature of truth, science, authenticity and philosophy itself. According to this interpretation, Heidegger's central claims identify genuine demands that we must meet if we are to achieve the feat of thinking determinate thoughts about the world around us.
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