Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

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Fri, 2020-02-28 04:31
[Revised entry by Martin Kusch on February 27, 2020. Changes to: Bibliography] Many authors use the term 'psychologism' for what they perceive as the mistake of identifying non-psychological with psychological entities. For instance, philosophers who think that logical laws are not psychological laws would view it as psychologism to identify the two. Other authors use the term in a neutral descriptive or even in a positive sense. 'Psychologism' then refers (approvingly) to positions that apply psychological techniques to traditional philosophical problems (e.g. Ellis 1979,...
Categories: Philosophy

Nietzsche’s Moral and Political Philosophy

Fri, 2020-02-28 03:20
[Revised entry by Brian Leiter on February 27, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Nietzsche's moral philosophy is primarily critical in orientation: he attacks morality both for its commitment to untenable descriptive (metaphysical and empirical) claims about human agency, as well as for the deleterious impact of its distinctive norms and values on the flourishing of the highest types of human beings (Nietzsche's "higher men"). His positive ethical views are best understood as combining (i) a kind of consequentialist perfectionism as Nietzsche's implicit theory of the good, with...
Categories: Philosophy

Hegel’s Aesthetics

Fri, 2020-02-28 03:03
[Revised entry by Stephen Houlgate on February 27, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] G.W.F. Hegel's aesthetics, or philosophy of art, forms part of the extraordinarily rich German aesthetic tradition that stretches from J.J. Winckelmann's Thoughts on the Imitation of the Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks (1755) and G.E. Lessing's Laocoon (1766) through Immanuel Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790) and Friedrich Schiller's Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795) to Friedrich...
Categories: Philosophy

Method and Metaphysics in Plato’s Sophist and Statesman

Thu, 2020-02-27 02:20
[Revised entry by Mary-Louise Gill on February 26, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The Sophist and Statesman are late Platonic dialogues, whose relative dates are established by their stylistic similarity to the Laws, a work that was apparently still "on the wax" at the time of Plato's death (Diogenes Laertius 3.37). These dialogues are important in exhibiting Plato's views on method and metaphysics after he criticized his own most famous contribution to the history of philosophy, the theory of...
Categories: Philosophy

Teleological Notions in Biology

Thu, 2020-02-27 01:10
[Revised entry by Colin Allen and Jacob Neal on February 26, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The manifest appearance of function and purpose in living systems is responsible for the prevalence of apparently teleological explanations of organismic structure and behavior in biology. Although the attribution of function and purpose to living systems is an ancient practice, teleological notions are largely considered ineliminable from modern biological sciences, such as evolutionary biology, genetics, medicine, ethology, and psychiatry, because they play an important explanatory role....
Categories: Philosophy

Luitzen Egbertus Jan Brouwer

Thu, 2020-02-27 00:29
[Revised entry by Mark van Atten on February 26, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, strongcounterex.html, weakcounterex.html] Dutch mathematician and philosopher who lived from 1881 to 1966. He is traditionally referred to as "L.E.J. Brouwer", with full initials, but was called "Bertus" by his friends....
Categories: Philosophy

Rudolf Carnap

Tue, 2020-02-25 05:45
[New Entry by Hannes Leitgeb and André Carus on February 24, 2020.] Rudolf Carnap (1891 - 1970) was one of the best-known philosophers of the twentieth century. Notorious as one of the founders, and perhaps the leading philosophical representative, of the movement known as logical positivism or logical empiricism, he was one of the originators of the new field of philosophy of science and later a leading contributor to semantics and inductive logic. Though his views underwent significant changes at various points, he continued to reaffirm the basic tenets of logical empiricism, and is still...
Categories: Philosophy


Tue, 2020-02-25 04:44
[Revised entry by Leif Wenar on February 24, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Rights are entitlements (not) to perform certain actions, or (not) to be in certain states; or entitlements that others (not) perform certain actions or (not) be in certain states. Rights dominate modern understandings of what actions are permissible and which institutions are just. Rights structure the form of governments, the content of laws, and the shape of morality as many...
Categories: Philosophy

The Computational Theory of Mind

Sat, 2020-02-22 05:25
[Revised entry by Michael Rescorla on February 21, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Could a machine think? Could the mind itself be a thinking machine? The computer revolution transformed discussion of these questions, offering our best prospects yet for machines that emulate reasoning, decision-making, problem solving, perception, linguistic comprehension, and other mental processes. Advances in computing raise the prospect that the mind itself is a computational system - a position known as the computational theory of mind (CTM). Computationalists are researchers who endorse CTM, at least as applied to certain important mental...
Categories: Philosophy

Lady Anne Conway

Sat, 2020-02-22 03:07
[Revised entry by Sarah Hutton on February 21, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Lady Anne Conway (nee Anne Finch) was one of a tiny minority of seventeenth-century women who was able to pursue an interest in philosophy. She was associated with the Cambridge Platonists, particularly Henry More (1614 - 1687). Her only surviving treatise, Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy, was published posthumously and anonymously in 1690. This propounds a vitalist ontology of spirit, derived from the attributes of God, which she sets out in opposition to More,...
Categories: Philosophy


Sat, 2020-02-22 01:04
[Revised entry by Peter Adamson on February 21, 2020. Changes to: Bibliography] Abu Yusuf Ya'qub ibn Ishaq Al-Kindi (ca. 800 - 870 CE) was the first self-identified philosopher in the Arabic tradition. He worked with a group of translators who rendered works of Aristotle, the Neoplatonists, and Greek mathematicians and scientists into Arabic. Al-Kindi's own treatises, many of them epistles addressed to members of the caliphal family, depended heavily on these translations, which included the famous Theology of Aristotle...
Categories: Philosophy

The Chinese Room Argument

Fri, 2020-02-21 05:51
[Revised entry by David Cole on February 20, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The argument and thought-experiment now generally known as the Chinese Room Argument was first published in a 1980 article by American philosopher John Searle (1932 - ). It has become one of the best-known arguments in recent philosophy. Searle imagines himself alone in a room following a computer program for responding to Chinese characters slipped under the door. Searle understands nothing of Chinese, and yet, by following the program for manipulating symbols and numerals just as a computer does, he sends appropriate strings of Chinese...
Categories: Philosophy


Fri, 2020-02-21 01:30
[Revised entry by Somogy Varga and Charles Guignon on February 20, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The term 'authentic' is used either in the strong sense of being "of undisputed origin or authorship", or in a weaker sense of being "faithful to an original" or a "reliable, accurate representation". To say that something is authentic is to say that it is what it professes to be, or what it is reputed to be, in origin or authorship. But the distinction between authentic and derivative is more complicated when discussing authenticity as a characteristic attributed to human beings. For in this case, the question arises: What is it to be oneself, at one with...
Categories: Philosophy


Fri, 2020-02-21 00:34
[Revised entry by Laurence R. Horn and Heinrich Wansing on February 20, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html, substructural.html, unary-connective.html] Negation is in the first place a phenomenon of semantic opposition. As such, negation relates an expression (e) to another expression with a meaning that is in some way opposed to the meaning of (e). This relation may be realized syntactically and pragmatically in various ways. Moreover, there are different kinds of semantic opposition. Section 1 is concerned mainly with negation and opposition in natural language,...
Categories: Philosophy

Albert the Great

Thu, 2020-02-20 05:08
[Revised entry by Markus Führer on February 19, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Albertus Magnus, also known as Albert the Great, was one of the most universal thinkers to appear during the Middle Ages. Even more so than his most famous student, St. Thomas of Aquinas, Albert's interests ranged from natural science all the way to theology. He made contributions to logic, psychology, metaphysics, meteorology, mineralogy, and zoology. He was an avid commentator on nearly all the great authorities read during the 13th Century. He was...
Categories: Philosophy

The Epistemology of Visual Thinking in Mathematics

Wed, 2020-02-19 23:54
[Revised entry by Marcus Giaquinto on February 19, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, fig15.png, fig16.png] Visual thinking is widespread in mathematical practice, and has diverse cognitive and epistemic purposes. This entry discusses potential roles of visual thinking in proving and in discovering, with some examples, and epistemic difficulties and limitations are considered. Also discussed is the bearing of epistemic uses of visual representations on the application of the a priori - a posteriori distinction to mathematical knowledge. A final section looks briefly at how visual means can aid comprehension and deepen understanding of proofs....
Categories: Philosophy

Feminist Perspectives on the Self

Wed, 2020-02-19 22:03
[Revised entry by Ellen Anderson, Cynthia Willett, and Diana Meyers on February 19, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, bib.html] The topic of the self has long been salient in feminist philosophy, for it is pivotal to questions about personal identity, the body, sociality, and agency that feminism must address. Simone de Beauvoir's provocative declaration, "He is the Subject, he is the Absolute - she is the Other", signals the central importance of the self for feminism. To be the Other is to be a non-subject, a non-agent - in short, a mere thing. Women's selfhood has been systematically subordinated or even outright denied...
Categories: Philosophy

Descartes’ Ontological Argument

Sat, 2020-02-15 02:29
[Revised entry by Lawrence Nolan on February 14, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Descartes' ontological (or a priori) argument is both one of the most fascinating and poorly understood aspects of his philosophy. Fascination with the argument stems from the effort to prove God's existence from simple but powerful premises. Existence is derived immediately from the clear and distinct idea of a supremely perfect being. Ironically, the simplicity of the argument has also produced several misreadings, exacerbated in part by Descartes'...
Categories: Philosophy

Developmental Biology

Sat, 2020-02-15 02:19
[Revised entry by Alan Love on February 14, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Developmental biology is the science that investigates how a variety of interacting processes generate an organism's heterogeneous shapes, size, and structural features that arise on the trajectory from embryo to adult, or more generally throughout a life cycle. It represents an exemplary area of contemporary experimental biology that focuses on phenomena that have puzzled natural philosophers and scientists for more than two millennia. Philosophers of biology have shown interest in developmental biology due to the potential relevance...
Categories: Philosophy

Michael Oakeshott

Fri, 2020-02-14 21:51
[Revised entry by Terry Nardin on February 14, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Michael Oakeshott (1901 - 1990) is often described as a conservative thinker. But this description notices only one aspect of his thought and invites misunderstanding because of its ambiguities. His ideas spring from a lifetime of reading in the history of European thought, sharpened by philosophical reflection on its arguments and presuppositions. Oakeshott worked on the premise that philosophical questions are interconnected and that answering them requires wide-ranging critical reflection. A recurrent theme in...
Categories: Philosophy