Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

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The Epistemology of Religion

10 hours 26 min ago
[Revised entry by Peter Forrest on May 26, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Contemporary epistemology of religion may conveniently be treated as a debate over whether evidentialism applies to religious beliefs, or whether we should instead adopt a more permissive epistemology. Here evidentialism is the initially plausible position that a belief is justified only if "it is proportioned to the evidence". For example, suppose a local weather forecaster has noticed that over the two hundred years since records began a wetter than average Winter is followed in 85% of...
Categories: Philosophy

Jean Jacques Rousseau

11 hours 37 min ago
[Revised entry by Christopher Bertram on May 26, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Jean-Jacques Rousseau remains an important figure in the history of philosophy, both because of his contributions to political philosophy and moral psychology and because of his influence on later thinkers. Rousseau's own view of philosophy and philosophers was firmly negative, seeing philosophers as the post-hoc rationalizers of self-interest, as apologists for various forms of tyranny, and as playing a role in the alienation of the modern individual from humanity's natural impulse to...
Categories: Philosophy

Robert Alyngton

Thu, 2017-05-25 00:12
[Revised entry by Alessandro Conti on May 24, 2017. Changes to: Main text] Robert Alyngton was one of the most important authors of the generation after John Wyclif. He was deeply influenced by Walter Burley's logico-ontological system and Wyclif's metaphysics. His major extant work, a commentary on the Categories, heavily depends on Burley's last commentary on the Categories and Wyclif's De ente praedicamentali. Yet he was able to develop new logical and semantic theories as well as the general strategy adopted...
Categories: Philosophy

Political Realism in International Relations

Wed, 2017-05-24 20:56
[Revised entry by W. Julian Korab-Karpowicz on May 24, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] In the discipline of international relations there are contending general theories or theoretical perspectives. Realism, also known as political realism, is a view of international politics that stresses its competitive and conflictual side. It is usually contrasted with idealism or liberalism, which tends to emphasize cooperation. Realists consider the principal actors in the international arena to be states, which are concerned with their own security, act in pursuit of their...
Categories: Philosophy


Wed, 2017-05-24 10:12
[Revised entry by Zoltán Gendler Szabó on May 24, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Anything that deserves to be called a language must contain meaningful expressions built up from other meaningful expressions. How are their complexity and meaning related? The traditional view is that the relationship is fairly tight: the meaning of a complex expression is fully determined by its structure and the meanings of its constituents - once we fix what the parts mean and how they are put together we have no more leeway regarding the meaning of the whole. This is the principle of compositionality, a fundamental...
Categories: Philosophy

David Hartley

Wed, 2017-05-24 02:43
[Revised entry by Richard Allen on May 23, 2017. Changes to: Bibliography] David Hartley (1705 - 57) is the author of Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duty, and his Expectations (1749) - a wide-ranging synthesis of neurology, moral psychology, and spirituality (i.e., our "frame," "duty," and "expectations"). The Observations gained dedicated advocates in Britain, America, and Continental Europe, who appreciated it both for its science and its spirituality. As science,...
Categories: Philosophy

Africana Philosophy

Tue, 2017-05-23 11:03
[Revised entry by Lucius T. Outlaw Jr. on May 23, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] "Africana philosophy" is the name for an emergent and still developing field of ideas and idea-spaces, intellectual endeavors, discourses, and discursive networks within and beyond academic philosophy that was recognized as such by national and international organizations of professional philosophers, including the American Philosophical Association, starting in the 1980s. Thus, the name does not refer to a particular philosophy, philosophical system,...
Categories: Philosophy

Lorenzo Valla

Mon, 2017-05-22 23:08
[Revised entry by Lodi Nauta on May 22, 2017. Changes to: Bibliography] Lorenzo Valla (c. 1406 - 1457) was one of the most important humanists of his time. In his Elegantiae linguae Latinae, an advanced handbook of Latin language and style, he gave the humanist program some of its most trenchant and combative formulations, bringing the study of Latin to an unprecedented level. He made numerous contributions to classical scholarship. But he also used his vast knowledge of the classical languages and their literatures as a tool...
Categories: Philosophy

The Unity of Consciousness

Sat, 2017-05-20 00:12
[Revised entry by Andrew Brook and Paul Raymont on May 19, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Human consciousness usually displays a striking unity. When one experiences a noise and, say, a pain, one is not conscious of the noise and then, separately, of the pain. One is conscious of the noise and pain together, as aspects of a single conscious experience. Since at least the time of Immanuel Kant (1781/7), this phenomenon has been called the unity of consciousness. More generally, it is consciousness not of A and, separately, of B and, separately, of C, but of...
Categories: Philosophy

Necessary and Sufficient Conditions

Thu, 2017-05-18 11:32
[Revised entry by Andrew Brennan on May 18, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] A handy tool in the search for precise definitions is the specification of necessary and/or sufficient conditions for the application of a term, the use of a concept, or the occurrence of some phenomenon or event. For example, without water and oxygen, there would be no human life; hence these things are necessary conditions for the existence of human beings. Cockneys, according to the traditional definition, are all and only those born within the sound...
Categories: Philosophy

Plural Quantification

Tue, 2017-05-16 12:53
[Revised entry by Øystein Linnebo on May 16, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Ordinary English contains different forms of quantification over objects. In addition to the usual singular quantification, as in (1) There is an apple on the table...
Categories: Philosophy

Medieval Political Philosophy

Tue, 2017-05-16 12:18
[Revised entry by John Kilcullen and Jonathan Robinson on May 16, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Medieval philosophy is the philosophy produced in Western Europe during the middle ages. There is no consensus, even among medievalists, as to when this period begins or ends;[1] however, it is conventional - and probably neither fully correct nor incorrect - to begin with Augustine (354 - 430), and note that the influence of medieval philosophy...
Categories: Philosophy

Arthur Schopenhauer

Fri, 2017-05-12 02:24
[Revised entry by Robert Wicks on May 11, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Arthur Schopenhauer was among the first 19th century philosophers to contend that at its core, the universe is not a rational place. Inspired by Plato and Kant, both of whom regarded the world as being more amenable to reason, Schopenhauer developed their philosophies into an instinct-recognizing and ultimately ascetic outlook, emphasizing that in the face of a world filled with endless strife, we ought to minimize our natural desires for the sake of achieving a more tranquil frame of mind and a disposition towards...
Categories: Philosophy

Galileo Galilei

Thu, 2017-05-11 02:15
[Revised entry by Peter Machamer on May 10, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642) has always played a key role in any history of science and, in many histories of philosophy, he is a, if not the, central figure of the scientific revolution of the 17th Century. His work in physics or natural philosophy, astronomy, and the methodology of science still evoke debate after over 400 years. His role in promoting the Copernican theory and his travails and trials with the Roman Church are stories that still...
Categories: Philosophy


Wed, 2017-05-10 08:26
[Revised entry by Joel Pust on May 9, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, supplement.html] This entry addresses the nature and epistemological role of intuition by considering the following questions: (1) What are intuitions?, (2) What roles do they serve in philosophical (and other "armchair") inquiry?, (3) Ought they serve such roles?, (4) What are the implications of the empirical investigation of intuitions for their proper roles?, and (in the supplementary document titled "The Logical Structure of the Method of Cases")...
Categories: Philosophy

Susan Stebbing

Tue, 2017-05-09 02:56
[New Entry by Michael Beaney and Siobhan Chapman on May 8, 2017.] Susan Stebbing was a leading figure in British philosophy between the First and Second World Wars. She made significant contributions to the development of the analytic tradition, both in establishing it institutionally and in showing how its ideas and techniques could be applied in a wide range of domains. Her early work focused on logic and during her lifetime she was celebrated chiefly for A Modern Introduction to Logic (1930), which offered an account of both traditional, Aristotelian logic and the new mathematical logic...
Categories: Philosophy

Modern Origins of Modal Logic

Tue, 2017-05-09 02:21
[Revised entry by Roberta Ballarin on May 8, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Modal logic can be viewed broadly as the logic of different sorts of modalities, or modes of truth: alethic ("necessarily"), epistemic ("it is known that"), deontic ("it ought to be the case that"), or temporal ("it has been the case that") among others. Common logical features of these operators justify the common label. In the strict sense however, the term "modal logic" is reserved for the logic of the alethic modalities, as opposed for example to temporal or deontic logic. From...
Categories: Philosophy

Nietzsche's Life and Works

Tue, 2017-05-09 01:17
[Revised entry by Robert Wicks on May 8, 2017. Changes to: Bibliography Changes to: Main text] [Editor's Note: The following entry was previously published under the title "Friedrich Nietzsche".] Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900) was a German philosopher of the late 19th century who challenged the foundations of Christianity and...
Categories: Philosophy


Sat, 2017-05-06 14:24
[Revised entry by Russell Goodman on May 6, 2017. Changes to: Bibliography] Transcendentalism is an American literary, political, and philosophical movement of the early nineteenth century, centered around Ralph Waldo Emerson. Other important transcendentalists were Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Amos Bronson Alcott, Frederic Henry Hedge, and Theodore Parker. Stimulated by English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Herder and Schleiermacher, and the skepticism of Hume, the transcendentalists operated with the sense that a new era was...
Categories: Philosophy


Sat, 2017-05-06 01:19
[Revised entry by Seumas Miller on May 5, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] This entry is in four parts. The first part concerns the definition of torture and addresses the question, what is torture? The second part concerns the defining features of torture from a moral standpoint and addresses the question, what makes torture inherently morally wrong? For instance, it is generally held that torture is defined in part as the deliberate infliction of extreme suffering and that - by virtue of this defining feature - torture is morally wrong. Note that even actions or practices that are inherently morally wrong might be...
Categories: Philosophy