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Author: Tammo Lossau

Early in his career and in critical engagement with ordinary language philosophy, John Mackie developed the roots of a methodology that would be fundamental to his thinking: Mackie argues that we need to clearly separate the conceptual analysis which determines the meaning of an ordinary term and the factual analysis which is concerned with the question what, if anything, our language corresponds to in the world. I discuss how Mackie came to develop this distinction and how central ideas of his philosophy are based on it. Using the examples of Mackie’s moral skepticism and his work on Locke’s theory of perception I show how his methodology opens the door to error theories but can also support more positive claims. Finally, I put Mackie’s methodology in a historical perspective and argue that in cases like the Gettier debate, we can use it to cast light on the vagueness of the underlying methodology in some philosophical debates.

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
Author: Chris Daly

The key idea behind reduction is a simple and familiar one: it’s that there’s more to things than meets the eye. Surprisingly, this simple idea provides the resources to block a number of notable anti-reductionist arguments: Mackie’s argument from queerness against objective moral values, Kripke’s Humphrey objection and its recent variants, and Jubien’s objection from irrelevance against Lewisian modal realism. What is wrong with each of these arguments is that they suppose that what is to be reduced must not be dissimilar to what it is to be reduced to. This supposition is shown to be misguided and that the success or otherwise of a reduction turns on quite different considerations.

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis

This paper examines Du Châtelet’s and Kant’s responses to the famous vis viva controversy – Du Châtelet in her Institutions Physiques (1742) and Kant in his debut, the Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living Forces (1746–49). The Institutions was not only a highly influential contribution to the vis viva controversy, but also a pioneering attempt to integrate Leibnizian metaphysics and Newtonian physics. The young Kant’s evident knowledge of this work has led some to speculate about his indebtedness to her philosophy. My study corrects such speculations as well as misunderstandings of the Living Forces. This corrective result has implications for how to investigate Kant’s relation to the ever-evolving landscape of Leibniz exegeses.

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis

This paper offers a novel solution to the long-standing puzzle of why the Canon of Pure Reason maintains, in contradiction to Kant’s position elsewhere in the first Critique, both that practical freedom can be proved through experience, and that the question of our transcendental freedom is properly bracketed as irrelevant in practical matters. The Canon is an a priori investigation of our most fundamental practical capacity. It is argued that Kant intends its starting point to be explanatorily independent of transcendental logic and the ontic more generally, an independence that would be compromised if transcendental freedom were included in that starting point, even in a mode of supposition. In a different sense, however, practical reason precisely is dependent on the ontic: it can be realized only in beings. This species of dependence is used to explain the puzzling claim that practical freedom can be experienced.

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis

This paper considers a principal concept of metaphysics – the category of substance – as it figures in Kant’s critical program of establishing metaphysics as a science. Like Leibniz, Kant identifies metaphysical concepts through logical reflection on the form of cognitive activity. He thus begins with general logic’s account of categorical judgment as an act of subordinating predicate to subject. This categorical form is then considered in transcendental logic with reference to the possibility of its real use. Transcendental reflection reveals that the categorical form, in its potential for such use, constitutes the category of substance and accident, representing a first real subject and a determination of its existence. But to qualify for objective, scientific employment, metaphysics’ concepts must admit of real definitions, which show their objects to be possible, and such possibility, pace Leibniz, can be established only in relation to possible experience. Thus, relying on his doctrine of the schematism, Kant shows the category to figure constitutively in experience, as the ground of the first law of nature, that in all change substance persists.

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis

This paper argues that in Christian Wolff’s theory of knowledge, logical regimentation does not take the place of experiential justification, but serves to facilitate the application of empirical information and clearly exhibit its warrant. My argument targets rationalistic interpretations such as R. Lanier Anderson’s. It is common ground in this dispute that making concepts “distinct” (articulating their component marks) issues in the premises on which all deductive justification rests. Against the view that concepts are made distinct only by analysis, which is carried out by the understanding independently of experience, I contend that for Wolff some distinct concepts are arrived at through experience. I emphasize that Wolff countenances empirical methods of obtaining distinct concepts even in mathematics. This striking feature of his view indicates how its empiricist elements can be reconciled with his injunction to follow “mathematical” method.

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis