Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

Subscribe to Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy feed
This channel provides information about new and revised entries as they are published in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Updated: 3 hours 13 min ago

Time Travel

23 hours 10 min ago
[Revised entry by Nicholas J.J. Smith on March 23, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] There is an extensive literature on time travel in both philosophy and physics. Part of the great interest of the topic stems from the fact that reasons have been given both for thinking that time travel is physically possible - and for thinking that it is logically impossible! This entry deals primarily with philosophical issues; issues related to the physics of time travel are covered in the separate entries on time travel and modern physics and...
Categories: Philosophy

Eternity in Christian Thought

Thu, 2018-03-22 23:55
[Revised entry by Natalja Deng on March 22, 2018. Changes to: 0] [Editor's Note: The following new entry by Natalja Deng replaces the former entry on this topic by the previous author.] The term "eternity" plays a key role in discussions about how the God of Western theism relates to time. These discussions have a long and venerable history. They are also of lively contemporary...
Categories: Philosophy

Feminist Philosophy of Religion

Thu, 2018-03-22 02:27
[Revised entry by Nancy Frankenberry on March 21, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Philosophical reflection on religion is as old as Greek questions about Hebrew stories. Feminist philosophy of religion is a more recent development within Western philosophy that poses feminist questions about religious texts, traditions, and practices, often with the aim of critiquing, redefining, or reconstructing the entire field in light of gender studies. Feminist philosophy of religion is important to feminist and nonfeminist philosophy alike for providing a critical understanding of various religious concepts, beliefs, and rituals, as...
Categories: Philosophy

The Problem of Induction

Thu, 2018-03-22 01:39
[Revised entry by Leah Henderson on March 21, 2018. Changes to: 0] [Editor's Note: The following new entry by Leah Henderson replaces the former entry on this topic by the previous author.] We generally think that the observations we make are able to justify some expectations or predictions about observations we have not yet made, as well as general claims that go beyond the observed. For...
Categories: Philosophy

The Lambda Calculus

Thu, 2018-03-22 01:21
[Revised entry by Jesse Alama and Johannes Korbmacher on March 21, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The l-calculus is, at heart, a simple notation for functions and application. The main ideas are applying a function to an argument and forming functions by abstraction. The syntax of basic l-calculus is quite sparse, making it an elegant, focused notation for representing functions. Functions and arguments are on a par with one another. The result is a non-extensional theory of functions as rules of computation, contrasting with an extensional theory of functions as sets of ordered pairs. Despite its sparse...
Categories: Philosophy

Social Ontology

Thu, 2018-03-22 00:15
[New Entry by Brian Epstein on March 21, 2018.] Social ontology is the study of the nature and properties of the social world. It is concerned with analyzing the various entities in the world that arise from social interaction. A prominent topic in social ontology is the analysis of social groups. Do social groups exist at all? If so, what sorts of entities are they, and how are they created? Is a social group distinct from the...
Categories: Philosophy

Inductive Logic

Tue, 2018-03-20 06:00
[Revised entry by James Hawthorne on March 19, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] An inductive logic is a logic of evidential support. In a deductive logic, the premises of a valid deductive argument logically entail the conclusion, where logical entailment means that every logically possible state of affairs that makes the premises true must make the conclusion truth as well. Thus, the premises of a valid deductive argument provide total support for the conclusion. An inductive logic extends this idea to weaker arguments. In a good inductive argument, the truth of the premises provides some degree of support for the truth of the conclusion, where this degree-of-support might be measured via some numerical scale. By analogy with the notion of deductive entailment, the notion of inductive degree-of-support might mean something like this: among the logically possible states of affairs that make the premises true, the conclusion must be true in (at least) proportion r of them - where r is some numerical measure of the support strength. If a logic of good inductive arguments is to be of any real value, the measure of support it articulates should be up to the task. Presumably, the logic should at least satisfy the following condition:...
Categories: Philosophy

Spinoza's Theory of Attributes

Tue, 2018-03-20 03:13
[Revised entry by Noa Shein on March 19, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Attributes sit at the very heart of Spinoza's metaphysics. They enable us to understand and talk about an extended world and a thinking world in terms of which we understand such things as bodies and minds. Furthermore, it is due to the relation of attributes to one another and to the infinite substance that an elegant resolution to the Cartesian mind - body problem is possible. Attributes furnish Spinoza's substance with variety while preventing it from being an ephemeral,...
Categories: Philosophy

Explanation in Mathematics

Sat, 2018-03-17 01:00
[Revised entry by Paolo Mancosu on March 16, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The philosophical analysis of mathematical explanations concerns itself with two different, although connected, areas of investigation. The first area addresses the problem of whether mathematics can play an explanatory role in the natural and social sciences. The second deals with the problem of whether mathematical explanations occur within mathematics itself. Accordingly, this entry surveys the contributions to both areas, it shows their relevance to the history...
Categories: Philosophy

Pragmatic Arguments and Belief in God

Fri, 2018-03-16 01:00
[Revised entry by Jeff Jordan on March 15, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Pragmatic arguments have often been employed in support of theistic belief. Theistic pragmatic arguments are not arguments for the proposition that God exists; they are arguments that believing that God exists is rational. The most famous theistic pragmatic argument is Pascal's Wager. Though we touch on this argument briefly below, this entry focuses...
Categories: Philosophy


Thu, 2018-03-15 23:37
[Revised entry by James Blumenthal and James Apple on March 15, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Śāntarakṣita (725 - 788)[1] was one of the most important and pivotal thinkers in the history of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.[2] His contributions to Buddhist thought were particularly noteworthy due to his historical position as one of the later Indian...
Categories: Philosophy

Location and Mereology

Tue, 2018-03-13 00:42
[Revised entry by Cody Gilmore on March 12, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, arguments.html, location.html, notes.html] Substantivalists believe that there are regions of space or spacetime. Many substantivalists also believe that there are entities (people, tables, social groups, electrons, fields, holes, events, tropes, universals, ...) that are located at regions. These philosophers face questions about the relationship between located entities and the regions at which they are located. Are located entities identical to their locations, as supersubstantivalists maintain? Are they entirely separate from their...
Categories: Philosophy

Classical Logic

Mon, 2018-03-12 03:09
[Revised entry by Stewart Shapiro and Teresa Kouri Kissel on March 11, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Typically, a logic consists of a formal or informal language together with a deductive system and/or a model-theoretic semantics. The language has components that correspond to a part of a natural language like English or Greek. The deductive system is to capture, codify, or simply record arguments that are valid for the given language, and the semantics is to capture, codify, or record the meanings, or truth-conditions for at least part of the language....
Categories: Philosophy

Simone Weil

Sun, 2018-03-11 07:26
[New Entry by A. Rebecca Rozelle-Stone and Benjamin P. Davis on March 10, 2018.] Simone Weil (1909 - 1943) philosophized on thresholds and across borders. Her persistent desire for truth and justice led her to both elite academies and factory floors, political praxis and spiritual solitude. At different times she was an activist, a pacifist, a militant, a mystic, and an exile; but throughout, in her inquiry into reality and orientation to the good, she remained a philosopher. Her oeuvre features deliberate contradiction yet demonstrates remarkable clarity. It is value centered and integrated but not systematic. It...
Categories: Philosophy

Probabilistic Causation

Fri, 2018-03-09 22:11
[Revised entry by Christopher Hitchcock on March 9, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] "Probabilistic Causation" designates a group of theories that aim to characterize the relationship between cause and effect using the tools of probability theory. The central idea behind these theories is that causes change the probabilities of their effects. This article traces developments in probabilistic causation, including recent developments in causal modeling....
Categories: Philosophy

The Value of Knowledge

Thu, 2018-03-08 02:59
[Revised entry by Duncan Pritchard, John Turri, and J. Adam Carter on March 7, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The value of knowledge has always been a central topic within epistemology. Going all the way back to Plato's Meno, philosophers have asked, why is knowledge more valuable than mere true belief? Interest in this question has grown in recent years, with theorists proposing a range of answers. But some reject the premise of the question and claim that the value of knowledge is 'swamped' by the value of true belief. And others argue that statuses other than knowledge, such as justification or...
Categories: Philosophy


Thu, 2018-03-08 01:59
[Revised entry by Amie Thomasson on March 7, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] A system of categories is a complete list of highest kinds or genera. Traditionally, following Aristotle, these have been thought of as highest genera of entities (in the widest sense of the term), so that a system of categories undertaken in this realist spirit would ideally provide an inventory of everything there is, thus answering the most basic of metaphysical questions: "What is there?" Skepticism about our ability to discern a unique system of basic...
Categories: Philosophy

Early Philosophical Interpretations of General Relativity

Thu, 2018-03-08 01:37
[Revised entry by Thomas A. Ryckman on March 7, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Early philosophical interpretations of the general theory of relativity selected distinct aspects of that theory for favored recognition. Followers of Mach initially lauded Einstein's attempt to implement a "relativization of inertia" in the general theory, but ultimately were more comfortable with Einstein's operationalist treatment of the concept of distant simultaneity in the special theory. Kantians and neo-Kantians, if freed from strict fealty to the doctrines of the Transcendental...
Categories: Philosophy


Wed, 2018-03-07 05:12
[Revised entry by Charles Cross and Floris Roelofsen on March 6, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The philosophy of language since Frege has emphasized propositions and declarative sentences, but it is clear that questions and interrogative sentences are just as important. Scientific investigation and explanation proceed in part through the posing and answering of questions, and human-computer interaction is often structured in terms of queries and answers....
Categories: Philosophy

The Ethics of Belief

Tue, 2018-03-06 00:18
[Revised entry by Andrew Chignell on March 5, 2018. Changes to: Bibliography] The "ethics of belief" refers to a cluster of questions at the intersection of epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, and psychology. The central question in the debate is whether there are norms of some sort governing our habits of belief-formation, belief-maintenance, and belief-relinquishment. Is it ever or always morally wrong (or...
Categories: Philosophy