The aim of this paper is to show how Outlines of Pyrrhonism II constitutes an original, ambitious, and unified skeptical inquiry into logic. My thesis is that Sextus’ argument in Book II is meant to accomplish both its stated goal (to investigate the topics typically grouped together by dogmatists under the heading of “logic”) and an unstated goal. The unstated goal is, in my view, interesting in itself and sheds new light on Sextus’ methodology. The goal is: to suspend judgement on the effectiveness of dogmatic methodologies.
Aristotle tells us that the Nicomachean Ethics is an “inquiry” and an “investigation” (methodos and zētēsis). This paper focuses on an under-appreciated way that the work is investigative: its employment of an exploratory investigative strategy—that is, its frequent positing of, and later revision or even rejection of, merely preliminary positions. Though this may seem like a small point, this aspect of the work’s methodology has important consequences for how we should read it—specifically, we should be open to the possibility that some contradictions in the text are the result of his employment of this investigative strategy. In the paper, I describe this investigative strategy, discuss what motivates Aristotle to employ it in the work, and go through three contradictions that are plausibly identified as examples of its use—specifically, his claims that courageous people do and do not fear death, that friendship is and is not mutually recognized goodwill, and that virtuous people do and do not choose noble actions for their own sake.
What is the relation, in Plato, between the account of knowledge and the account of inquiry? Is the account of knowledge independent of the account of inquiry? These strike me as important, even pressing, questions. While so much work has been done on Plato’s account of knowledge, and quite a lot is being done on his account of inquiry, I know of only the odd critic who has considered the two together. It is remarkable that critics have generally treated of the two topics—Plato’s account of knowledge and his account of inquiry—as if they were separate. This suggests critics have been tacitly supposing that, for Plato, the account of knowledge is independent of the account of inquiry. In this paper, I pose these questions, and take them up for investigation. I argue that Plato’s account of knowledge is not independent of his account of inquiry; on the contrary, Plato’s account of knowledge cannot be understood if separated from his account of inquiry. I do so, in this paper, with reference to the Phaedo exclusively.
This article treats of whether scepticism, in particular Pyrrhonian scepticism, can be said to deploy a method of any kind. I begin by distinguishing various different notions of method, and their relations to the concept of expertise (section 1). I then (section 2) consider Sextus’s account, in the prologue to Outlines of Pyrrhonism, of the Pyrrhonist approach, and how it supposedly differs from those of other groups, sceptical and otherwise. In particular, I consider the central claim that the Pyrrhonist is a continuing investigator (section 3), who in spite of refusing to be satisfied with any answer (or none), none the less still achieves tranquillity, and whether this can avoid being presented as a method for so doing, and hence as compromising the purity of sceptical suspension of commitment (section 4). In doing so, I relate—and contrast—the Pyrrhonists’ account of their practice to the ‘Socratic Method’ (section 5), as well as to the argumentative practice of various Academics (section 6), and assess their claim in so doing to be offering a way of instruction (section 7). I conclude (section 8) that there is a consistent and interesting sense in which Pyrrhonian scepticism can be absolved of the charge that it incoherently, and crypto-dogmatically, presents itself as offering a method for achieving an intrinsically desirable goal.
I begin this paper with a puzzle: why is Plato’s Parmenides replete with references to Gorgias? While the Eleatic heritage and themes in the dialogue are clear, it is less clear what the point would be of alluding to a well-known sophist. I suggest that the answer has to do with the similarities in the underlying methods employed by both Plato and Gorgias. These similarities, as well as Plato’s recognition of them, suggest that he owes a more significant philosophical and methodological debt to sophists like Gorgias than is often assumed. Further evidence from Plato and Xenophon suggest that Socrates used this very same method, which I call ‘exploring both sides’. I distinguish this Socratic method and its sophistic counterpart in terms of structure, internal aim, and external aim. Doing so allows for a more nuanced understanding of their similarities and differences. It also challenges the outsized role that popular caricatures of philosophical and sophistic method have had on our understanding of their relationship.
In The Quantity of the Soul, Augustine puts forward the view that the soul is immaterial and that its quantity (quantitas) must be understood in terms of power rather than spatial extension. Against this view, his friend and interlocutor Evodius raises an important objection, The Objection from Touch, which argues that the soul’s exercise of tactile sensation requires that it be extended through the parts of the body. This paper examines Evodius’s objection and Augustine’s response to it. Particular attention is given to certain features of Augustine’s theory of sensation that this exchange reveals, especially his view that the eyes undergo passion-at-a-distance or are acted on at a place where they are not present.
We argue that prevailing definitions of Berkeley’s idealism fail to rule out a nearby Spinozist rival view that we call ‘mind-body identity panpsychism.’ Since Berkeley certainly does not agree with Spinoza on this issue, we call for more care in defining Berkeley’s view. After we propose our own definition of Berkeley’s idealism, we survey two Berkeleyan strategies to block the mind-body identity panpsychist and establish his idealism. We argue that Berkeley should follow Leibniz and further develop his account of the mind’s unity. Unity—not activity—is the best way for Berkeley to establish his view at the expense of his panpsychist competitors.
In Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, one can find a number of remarks that could be seen as antithetical to classic philosophical analysis. There are passages seemingly rejecting the ideas of concept decomposition, regression to first principles, and semantic substitution. The criticism, I argue, is aimed not at analysis in particular, but rather at some idealizations that pervade a certain picture of philosophy. This picture can be contrasted with Wittgenstein’s pragmatist view of explanations of meaning which, I believe, can inform a different attitude towards philosophical method that aligns well with a vision of philosophy as conversation. If we think of philosophy as engaging in the development and exchange of explanations of meaning, we can see how various methods can coexist insofar as they are useful, and as long as the urge to sublimate them beyond our practices can be avoided.
What does the way we clarify and revise concepts reveal about the nature of concepts? This paper investigates the ontological commitments of conceptual analysis and explication regarding their supposed subject matter – concepts. It demonstrates the benefits of a cognitivist account of concepts, according to which they are not items on which the subject operates cognitively, but rather ways in which the subject operates. The proposed view helps to handle alternating references to ‘concepts’ and ‘terms’ in instructions on analysis and explication. Furthermore, its virtue lies not in the capacity to render concepts ‘shareable’ but in its ontological parsimony.
Pseudoproblems, pseudoquestions, pseudosentences (etc.) constitute an iridescent group of concepts which were prominently used by the Vienna Circle (including Wittgenstein). In the course of an explication this paper presents a compilation of the many different meanings that were given to these expressions. This includes the more prominent Viennese approaches as well as a more recent one by Roy Sorensen. A novel proposal concerning the use of the term is made, suggesting that nothing is just a pseudoproblem, but only relative to a certain state of discourse. While the paper follows an explicative methodology, several uses of ‘pseudoproblem’, including the explicated one, relate pseudoproblemhood to other kinds of analysis.