Plato’s partition argument infers that the soul has parts from the fact that the soul experiences mental conflict. Alasdair MacIntyre poses a dilemma for the argument that highlights an ambiguity in the concept of mental conflict. According to the first sense of conflict, a soul is in conflict when it has desires whose satisfaction conditions are logically incompatible. According to the second sense of conflict, a soul is in conflict when it has desires which are logically incompatible even when they are unsatisfied. The dilemma is therefore this: if the mental conflict is supposed to be the latter kind of conflict, then the partition argument is valid but is likely unsound; if it’s supposed to be the former kind, then the partition argument has true premises but is invalid. We explain this dilemma in detail and defend a dispositionalist solution to it.
A natural reading of Hume’s distinction between impressions and ideas is that impressions are forceful perceptions whereas ideas are faint. A problem emerges, however, when Hume countenances the possibility of faint impressions and forceful ideas. In this paper, I attempt a resolution to the problem. I argue that Hume characterizes impressions and ideas intensionally and extensionally, and sometimes uses the term in only one of the two senses. I argue that Hume intensionally defines impressions and ideas as forceful perceptions and weak perceptions, respectively, but takes these to be extensionally equivalent to original and copied perceptions, respectively. Hume recognizes that his two characterizations—the intensional and extensional—don’t perfectly match up, and that there are exceptions to the purported equivalences (the exceptions being disease, sleep, madness, and enthusiasm). Nonetheless, I argue that Hume’s willing to proceed with his definitions.
Over the last thirty years, a group of philosophers associated with the University of Pittsburgh—Robert Brandom, James Conant, John Haugeland, and John McDowell—have developed a novel reading of Kant. Their interest turns on Kant’s problem of objective purport: how can my thoughts be about the world? This paper summarizes the shared reading of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction by these four philosophers and how it solves the problem of objective purport. But I also show these philosophers radically diverge in how they view Kant’s relevance for contemporary philosophy. I highlight an important distinction between those that hold a quietist response to Kant, evident in Conant and McDowell, and those that hold a constructive response, evident in Brandom and Haugeland. The upshot is that the Pittsburgh Kantians have a distinctive approach to Kant, but also radically different responses to his problem of objective purport.
Immanuel Kant states that indirect arguments are not suitable for the purposes of transcendental philosophy. If he is correct, this affects contemporary versions of transcendental arguments which are often used as an indirect refutation of scepticism. I discuss two reasons for Kant’s rejection of indirect arguments. Firstly, Kant argues that we are prone to misapply the law of excluded middle in philosophical contexts. Secondly, Kant points out that indirect arguments lack some explanatory power. They can show that something is true but they do not provide insight into why something is true. Using mathematical proofs as examples, I show that this is because indirect arguments are non-constructive. From a Kantian point of view, transcendental arguments need to be constructive in some way. In the last part of the paper, I briefly examine a comment made by P. F. Strawson. In my view, this comment also points toward a connection between transcendental and constructive reasoning.
Kant influentially distinguished analytic from synthetic a priori propositions, and he took certain propositions in the latter category to be of immense philosophical importance. His distinction between the analytic and the synthetic has been accepted by many and attacked by others; but despite its importance, a number of discussions of it since at least W. V. Quine’s have paid insufficient attention to some of the passages in which Kant draws the distinction. This paper seeks to clarify what appear to be three distinct conceptions of the analytic (and implicitly of the synthetic) that are presented in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and in some other Kantian texts. The conceptions are important in themselves, and their differences are significant even if they are extensionally equivalent. The paper is also aimed at showing how the proposed understanding of these conceptions—and especially the one that has received insufficient attention from philosophers—may bear on how we should conceive the synthetic a priori, in and beyond Kant’s own writings.