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In the first chapter of his book Logical Foundations of Probability, Rudolf Carnap introduced and endorsed a philosophical methodology which he called the method of ‘explication’. P.F. Strawson took issue with this methodology, but it is currently undergoing a revival. In a series of articles, Patrick Maher has recently argued that explication is an appropriate method for ‘formal epistemology’, has defended it against Strawson’s objection, and has himself put it to work in the philosophy of science in further clarification of the very concepts on which Carnap originally used it (degree of confirmation, and probability), as well as some concepts to which Carnap did not apply it (such as justified degree of belief).

We shall outline Carnap’s original idea, plus Maher’s recent application of such a methodology, and then seek to show that the problem Strawson raised for it has not been dealt with. The method is indeed, we argue, problematic and therefore not obviously superior to the ‘descriptive’ method associated with Strawson. Our targets will not only be Carnapians, though, for what we shall say also bears negatively on a project that Paul Horwich has pursued under the name ‘therapeutic’, or ‘Wittgensteinian’ Bayesianism. Finally, explication, as we shall suggest and as Carnap recognised, is not the only route to philosophical enlightenment.

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis

We do not fully understand Hume’s account of space if we do not understand his view of determinations of extension, a topic which has not received enough attention. In this paper, I argue for an interpretation that determinations of extension are unities in Hume’s view: I argue for an interpretation that determinations of extension are unities in Hume’s view: single beings in addition to their components. This realist reading is reasonable on both textual and philosophical grounds. There is strong textual evidence for it and no textual reason to reject it. Realism makes perfect sense of the metaphysics of determinations of extension along Humean lines and Hume’s view of spatial relations.

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis

The nature of intuitions remains a contested issue in (meta-)philosophy. Yet, intuitions are frequently cited in philosophical work, featuring most prominently in conceptual analysis, the philosophical method par excellence. In this paper, we approach the question about the nature of intuitions based on a pragmatist, namely, Wittgensteinian account of concepts. To Wittgenstein, intuitions are just immediate ‘reactions’ to certain cognitive tasks. His view provides a distinct alternative to identifying intuitions with either doxastic states or quasi-perceptual experiences. We discuss its implications for intuitions’ role in conceptual analysis and show that a Wittgensteinian account of intuitions is compatible even with ambitious metaphysical projects traditionally associated with this method.

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis

This paper deals with Leibniz’s well-known reductio argument against the infinite number. I will show that while the argument is in itself valid, the assumption that Leibniz reduces to absurdity does not play a relevant role. The last paragraph of the paper reformulates the whole Leibnizian argument in plural terms (i.e. by means of a plural logic) to show that it is possible to derive the contradiction that Leibniz uses in his argument even in the absence of the premise that he refutes.

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
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