Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

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Theoretical Terms in Science

1 hour 41 min ago
[Revised entry by Holger Andreas on July 20, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] A simple explanation of theoreticity says that a term is theoretical if and only if it refers to nonobservational entities. Paradigmatic examples of such entities are electrons, neutrinos, gravitational forces, genes etc. There is yet another explanation of theoreticity: a theoretical term is one whose meaning becomes determined through the axioms of a scientific theory. The meaning of the term 'force', for example, is seen to be determined by Newton's laws of motion and further laws about special forces,...
Categories: Philosophy

Legal Punishment

Wed, 2017-07-19 03:09
[Revised entry by Antony Duff and Zachary Hoskins on July 18, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The question of whether, and how, legal punishment can be justified has long been a central to legal, moral, and political philosophy: what could justify a state in using the apparatus of the law to inflict intentionally burdensome treatment on its citizens? Radically different answers to this question are offered by consequentialist and by retributivist theorists - and by those who seek to incorporate consequentialist and retributivist considerations in 'mixed' theories of punishment. Meanwhile, abolitionist...
Categories: Philosophy

Fuzzy Logic

Wed, 2017-07-19 01:29
[Revised entry by Petr Cintula, Christian G. Fermüller, and Carles Noguera on July 18, 2017. Changes to: Bibliography, readings-by-topic.html] [Editor's Note: The following new entry by Petr Cintula, Christian G. Fermuller, and Carles Noguera replaces the former entry on this topic by the previous author.]...
Categories: Philosophy


Wed, 2017-07-19 00:23
[Revised entry by Philip Goff, William Seager, and Sean Allen-Hermanson on July 18, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html, supplement.html] Panpsychism is the view that mentality is fundamental and ubiquitous in the natural world. The view has a long and venerable history in philosophical traditions of both East and West, and has recently enjoyed a revival in analytic philosophy. For its proponents panpsychism offers an attractive middle way between physicalism on the one hand and dualism on the other. The worry with dualism - the view that mind and matter are fundamentally different kinds of thing - is that it leaves us with a radically disunified picture...
Categories: Philosophy


Tue, 2017-07-18 04:59
[Revised entry by Dominique Leydet on July 17, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] A citizen is a member of a political community who enjoys the rights and assumes the duties of membership. This broad definition is discernible, with minor variations, in the works of contemporary authors as well as in the entry "citoyen" in Diderot's and d'Alembert's Encyclopedie [1753].[1] Notwithstanding this common starting-point and certain shared...
Categories: Philosophy

The Economic Analysis of Law

Tue, 2017-07-18 02:04
[Revised entry by Lewis Kornhauser on July 17, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Economic analysis of law applies the tools of microeconomic theory to the analysis of legal rules and institutions. Ronald Coase [1960] and Guido Calabresi [1961] are generally identified as the seminal articles but Commons [1924] and Hale [1952] among others had brought economic thinking to the study of law in the 1910s and 1920s. Richard Posner [1973] brought economic analysis of law to the...
Categories: Philosophy

Albert the Great

Tue, 2017-07-18 01:26
[Revised entry by Markus Führer on July 17, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] 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


Sat, 2017-07-15 01:57
[Revised entry by Katrien Devolder on July 14, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from a somatic (body) cell, came into the world innocent as a lamb. However, soon after the announcement of her birth in February 1997 (Wilmut et al., 1997) she caused panic and controversy. An important, and for many people troubling question arose: if the cloning of sheep is possible, will scientists soon start cloning humans as well; and if they did, would this be wrong or unwise?...
Categories: Philosophy


Fri, 2017-07-14 03:21
[New Entry by Joel Smith on July 13, 2017.] Human beings are conscious not only of the world around them but also of themselves: their activities, their bodies, and their mental lives. They are, that is, self-conscious (or, equivalently, self-aware). Self-consciousness can be understood as an awareness of oneself. But a self-conscious subject is not just aware of something that merely happens to be themselves, as one is if one sees an old photograph without realising that it is of oneself. Rather a self-conscious subject is aware of themselves as themselves; it is manifest...
Categories: Philosophy


Thu, 2017-07-13 01:44
[Revised entry by Rainer Forst on July 12, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The term "toleration" - from the Latin tolerare: to put up with, countenance or suffer - generally refers to the conditional acceptance of or non-interference with beliefs, actions or practices that one considers to be wrong but still "tolerable," such that they should not be prohibited or constrained. There are many contexts in which we speak of a person or an institution as being tolerant: parents tolerate certain behavior of their children, a friend tolerates the...
Categories: Philosophy

The Philosophy of Music

Wed, 2017-07-12 07:33
[Revised entry by Andrew Kania on July 11, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Philosophy of music is the study of fundamental questions about the nature and value of music and our experience of it. Like any "philosophy of X", it presupposes knowledge of its target. However, unlike philosophy of science, say, the target of philosophy of music is a practice most people have a significant background in, merely as a result of being members of a musical culture. Music plays a central role in many people's lives. Thus, as with the central questions of metaphysics and epistemology, not only can most people...
Categories: Philosophy

Reasons for Action: Agent-Neutral vs. Agent-Relative

Wed, 2017-07-12 01:03
[Revised entry by Michael Ridge on July 11, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The agent-relative/agent-neutral distinction is widely and rightly regarded as a philosophically important one. Unfortunately, the distinction is often drawn in different and mutually incompatible ways. The agent-relative/agent-neutral distinction has historically been drawn three main ways: the 'principle-based distinction', the 'reason-statement-based distinction' and the 'perspective-based distinction'. Each of these approaches has its own distinctive...
Categories: Philosophy


Tue, 2017-07-11 01:50
[Revised entry by Gareth Sparham on July 10, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Tsongkhapa (1357 - 1419) is a well-known Tibetan religious philosopher. In his iconic form, wearing a tall yellow hat, he is the center of the Gelugpa (Tib. dge lugs pa) sect that was dominant in Tibet until the Chinese takeover in 1951, and whose de facto leader is the Dalai Lama....
Categories: Philosophy

Johann Georg Hamann

Fri, 2017-07-07 01:20
[Revised entry by Gwen Griffith-Dickson on July 6, 2017. Changes to: Bibliography] Johann Georg Hamann (1730 - 1788) lived and worked in Prussia, in the context of the late German Enlightenment. Although he remained outside 'professional' philosophical circles, in that he never held a University post, he was respected in his time for his scholarship and breadth of learning. His writings were notorious even in his own time for the challenges they threw down to the reader. These challenges to interpretation and understanding are only heightened today....
Categories: Philosophy

Rationalism vs. Empiricism

Fri, 2017-07-07 00:52
[Revised entry by Peter Markie on July 6, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The dispute between rationalism and empiricism concerns the extent to which we are dependent upon sense experience in our effort to gain knowledge. Rationalists claim that there are significant ways in which our concepts and knowledge are gained independently of sense experience. Empiricists claim that sense experience is the ultimate source of all our concepts and knowledge....
Categories: Philosophy

Paraconsistent Logic

Thu, 2017-07-06 02:56
[Revised entry by Graham Priest, Koji Tanaka, and Zach Weber on July 5, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, readings-by-topic.html] Contemporary logical orthodoxy has it that, from contradictory premises, anything follows. A logical consequence relation is explosive if according to it any arbitrary conclusion (B) is entailed by any arbitrary contradiction (A), (neg A) (ex contradictione quodlibet (ECQ)). Classical logic, and most standard 'non-classical' logics too such as intuitionist logic, are explosive. Inconsistency, according to received wisdom, cannot be coherently reasoned about....
Categories: Philosophy

Material Constitution

Thu, 2017-07-06 00:49
[Revised entry by Ryan Wasserman on July 5, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] What is the relationship between a clay statue and the lump of clay from which it is formed? We might say that the lump constitutes the statue, but what is this relation of material constitution? Some insist that constitution is identity, on the grounds that distinct material objects cannot occupy the same place at the same time. Others argue that constitution is not identity, since the statue and the lump differ in important respects. Still others take cases like this to...
Categories: Philosophy

Phenomenological Approaches to Ethics and Information Technology

Fri, 2017-06-30 06:18
[Revised entry by Lucas Introna on June 29, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Information and communication technology (simply referred to as 'information technology' here) is changing many aspects of human endeavour and existence. This is beyond dispute for most. What are contested are the social and ethical implications of these changes. Possible sources of these disputes are the multiple ways in which one can conceptualize and interpret the information technology/society interrelationship. Each of these ways of conceptualization and interpretation enables one to see the...
Categories: Philosophy

Bertrand Russell

Fri, 2017-06-30 02:53
[Revised entry by Andrew David Irvine on June 29, 2017. Changes to: Main text] Bertrand Arthur William Russell (1872 - 1970) was a British philosopher, logician, essayist and social critic best known for his work in mathematical logic and analytic philosophy. His most influential contributions include his championing of logicism (the view that mathematics is in some important sense reducible to logic), his refining of Gottlob Frege's predicate calculus (which still forms the basis of most contemporary systems of...
Categories: Philosophy

Temporal Consciousness

Wed, 2017-06-28 23:32
[Revised entry by Barry Dainton on June 28, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, empirical-findings.html, notes.html, specious-present.html] In ordinary conscious experience, consciousness of time seems to be ubiquitous. For example, we seem to be directly aware of change, movement, and succession across brief temporal intervals. How is this possible? Many different models of temporal consciousness have been proposed. Some philosophers have argued that consciousness is confined to a momentary interval and that we are not in fact directly aware of change. Others have argued that...
Categories: Philosophy