Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

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Sat, 2019-12-14 07:37
[Revised entry by Alexander Miller on December 13, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The question of the nature and plausibility of realism arises with respect to a large number of subject matters, including ethics, aesthetics, causation, modality, science, mathematics, semantics, and the everyday world of macroscopic material objects and their properties. Although it would be possible to accept (or reject) realism across the board, it is more common for philosophers to be selectively realist or non-realist about various topics: thus it would be perfectly possible to be a realist about the everyday world of...
Categories: Philosophy

Christian von Ehrenfels

Thu, 2019-12-12 14:39
[Revised entry by Robin Rollinger and Carlo Ierna on December 12, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Christian von Ehrenfels (b. June 20, 1859, d. September 8, 1932) was an Austrian philosopher and psychologist from the school of Franz Brentano. He proved himself to be a highly independent and diverse thinker by formulating the notion of Gestalt qualities, elaborating on a new theory of value, and developing new ideas in sexual ethics and cosmology. He drew on what he learned not only from Brentano, but also from Alexius Meinong, the Austrian economists, and evolution theorists. Nevertheless, Ehrenfels (as he shall henceforth be designated) was also critical of his various mentors on a number of...
Categories: Philosophy

Ceteris Paribus Laws

Wed, 2019-12-11 02:35
[Revised entry by Alexander Reutlinger, Gerhard Schurz, Andreas Hüttemann, and Siegfried Jaag on December 10, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Laws of nature take center stage in philosophy of science and metaphysics. Laws are usually believed to stand in tight relations to many philosophical key concepts such as causation, explanation, confirmation, determinism, and counterfactuals. Traditionally, philosophers have focused on physical laws, which were taken to be at least true, universal statements that support counterfactual claims. But, although this claim about laws might be true with respect to physics, laws in the special sciences (such as biology, psychology,...
Categories: Philosophy

Richard Sylvan [Routley]

Tue, 2019-12-10 05:08
[New Entry by Dominic Hyde, Filippo Casati, and Zach Weber on December 9, 2019.] Richard Sylvan (born Routley, 1935 - 1996) was an Australasian philosopher who was instrumental in starting major schools in: logic (especially paraconsistent and relevant logic), metaphysics (especially Meinongian ontology), and ethics (especially environmental ethics). In a large body of writing, Sylvan urged that, from logic to ecology, we are not now thinking well about big problems - but that we can and must do better. "Philosophers fiddle while the...
Categories: Philosophy

Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

Sat, 2019-12-07 05:45
[Revised entry by Jan Faye on December 6, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] As the theory of the atom, quantum mechanics is perhaps the most successful theory in the history of science. It enables physicists, chemists, and technicians to calculate and predict the outcome of a vast number of experiments and to create new and advanced technology based on the insight into the behavior of atomic objects. But it is also a theory that challenges our imagination. It seems to violate some fundamental principles of classical physics, principles that eventually have become a part of western common sense since the rise...
Categories: Philosophy

Gottlob Frege

Fri, 2019-12-06 05:15
[Revised entry by Edward N. Zalta on December 5, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege (b. 1848, d. 1925) was a German mathematician, logician, and philosopher who worked at the University of Jena. Frege essentially reconceived the discipline of logic by constructing a formal system which, in effect, constituted the first 'predicate calculus'. In this formal system, Frege developed an analysis of quantified statements and formalized the notion of a 'proof' in terms that are still accepted...
Categories: Philosophy


Fri, 2019-12-06 01:50
[Revised entry by Matti Eklund on December 5, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Fictionalism about a region of discourse can provisionally be characterized as the view that claims made within that discourse are not best seen as aiming at literal truth but are better regarded as a sort of 'fiction'. As we will see, this first characterization of fictionalism is in several ways rough. But it is a useful point of departure....
Categories: Philosophy


Fri, 2019-12-06 01:11
[Revised entry by Juan Comesaña and Peter Klein on December 5, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Philosophical skepticism is interesting because there are intriguing arguments for it despite its initial implausibility. Many contemporary epistemological positions can be fruitfully presented as responding to some aspect of those arguments. For example, questions regarding principles of epistemic closure and transmission are closely related to the discussion of what we will call Cartesian Skepticism, as are views according to which we are entitled to dismiss skeptical hypotheses even though we do not have evidence against them. The...
Categories: Philosophy

Sophie de Grouchy

Fri, 2019-12-06 00:58
[New Entry by Sandrine Berges on December 5, 2019.] Sophie de Grouchy (1764 - 1822) was a French philosopher whose book The Letters on Sympathy offers clear and original perspectives on a number of important moral, political, and legal philosophical issues. As well as this book, which she published together with her translation of Smiths's The Theory of Moral Sentiments in 1798, Grouchy wrote and published other texts pseudonomously and anonymously. In particular, Grouchy published articles defending republicanism and participated in the writing and...
Categories: Philosophy

Dreams and Dreaming

Thu, 2019-11-28 02:32
[Revised entry by Jennifer M. Windt on November 27, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Dreams and dreaming have been discussed in diverse areas of philosophy ranging from epistemology to ethics, ontology, and more recently philosophy of mind and cognitive science. This entry provides an overview of major themes in the philosophy of sleep and dreaming and discusses relevant scientific findings....
Categories: Philosophy

Watsuji Tetsurō

Thu, 2019-11-28 02:00
[Revised entry by Robert Carter and Erin McCarthy on November 27, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Watsuji Tetsurō (1889 - 1960) was one of a small group of philosophers in Japan during the twentieth century who brought Japanese philosophy to the world. He wrote important works on both Eastern and Western philosophy and philosophers, from ancient Greek, to Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Heidegger, and from primitive Buddhism and ancient Japanese culture, to Dōgen (whose now famous writings Watsuji single-handedly rediscovered), aesthetics, and Japanese ethics. His works on Japanese ethics are still regarded...
Categories: Philosophy


Wed, 2019-11-27 03:26
[Revised entry by Michael McKenna and D. Justin Coates on November 26, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Compatibilism offers a solution to the free will problem, which concerns a disputed incompatibility between free will and determinism. Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism. Because free will is typically taken to be a necessary condition of moral responsibility, compatibilism is sometimes expressed as a thesis about the compatibility between moral responsibility and determinism....
Categories: Philosophy

Arrow’s Theorem

Wed, 2019-11-27 02:15
[Revised entry by Michael Morreau on November 26, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Kenneth Arrow's "impossibility" theorem - or "general possibility" theorem, as he called it - answers a very basic question in the theory of collective decision-making. Say there are some alternatives to choose among. They could be policies, public projects, candidates in an election, distributions of income and labour requirements among the members of a society, or just about anything else. There are some people whose preferences will inform this choice, and the question is: which...
Categories: Philosophy


Tue, 2019-11-26 23:46
[Revised entry by Fabienne Pironet and Joke Spruyt on November 26, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] In contrast to the meaning the word 'sophism' had in ancient philosophy, 'sophisma' in medieval philosophy is a technical term with no pejorative connotation: a sophisma proper is a sentence (proposition) that raises a difficulty for logic or grammar: it is a proposition whose truth value is difficult to determine, because it is ambiguous, puzzling or simply difficult to interpret, or a sentence that can be shown to be both grammatically correct and incorrect. Discussions of...
Categories: Philosophy


Sat, 2019-11-23 07:12
[Revised entry by Christian Wildberg on November 22, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Syrianus (in antiquity known as "the Great") was a teacher of philosophy and, if we can trust the evidence, of rhetoric in Athens during the late 4th and early 5th centuries CE. He was a slightly younger contemporary of Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430). Born in Alexandria in the second half of the 4th century, he received his basic education there but later went on to study philosophy under Plutarch of Athens (c. 350 - 431/2), who had revived Plato's Academy. When Plutarch...
Categories: Philosophy

Kant’s Philosophical Development

Sat, 2019-11-23 06:30
[Revised entry by Martin Schönfeld and Michael Thompson on November 22, 2019. Changes to: Bibliography] Modern philosophy begins with Kant, and yet he marks the end of the "Modern" epoch (1600 - 1800 AD/CE) in the history of philosophy.[1] The appearance of the Critique of Pure Reason in 1781 marks the end of the modern period and the beginning of something entirely new. Today his texts are read on all continents, and his thought has had a profound impact on nearly all subsequent philosophical discussions. The 2004 bicentennial of his death, for instance, was reflected in conferences in Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany,...
Categories: Philosophy

Mental Disorder (Illness)

Sat, 2019-11-23 06:18
[Revised entry by Jennifer Radden on November 22, 2019. Changes to: notes.html] The concepts of mental disorder, or illness, are ascribed to deviations from normal thoughts, reasoning, feelings, attitudes, and actions that are by their subjects, or by others, considered socially or personally dysfunctional and apt for treatment. Schizophrenia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance abuse, and mania are examples. The concept of mental disorder or illness plays a role in many domains, including medicine, social sciences such as psychology and anthropology, and the humanities, including literature...
Categories: Philosophy

Philosophy of Theater

Sat, 2019-11-23 02:16
[New Entry by James R. Hamilton on November 22, 2019.] In contrast to Plato's well-known disparagement of theatrical practices (in Republic, Books III and X, for example), Aristotle held in the Poetics that tragedy in theatrical performance, perhaps tragedy in particular, could have therapeutic value. Whether what he meant was a kind of cognitive therapy or a form of psychological therapy is a question that has vexed scholars to this day; and it turns on how one understands two terms: katharsis and mimesis (Schaper 1968; Golden 1973; Diamond 1989; Lear...
Categories: Philosophy

Plato on Knowledge in the Theaetetus

Fri, 2019-11-22 01:14
[Revised entry by Sophie-Grace Chappell on November 21, 2019. Changes to: Main text] This article introduces Plato's dialogue the Theaetetus (section 1), and briefly summarises its plot (section 2). Two leading interpretations of the dialogue, the Unitarian and Revisionist readings, are contrasted in section 3. Sections 4 to 8 explain and discuss the main arguments of the chief divisions of the dialogue. Section 9 provides some afterthoughts about the dialogue as a whole....
Categories: Philosophy

Michel de Montaigne

Thu, 2019-11-21 05:55
[Revised entry by Marc Foglia and Emiliano Ferrari on November 20, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Given the huge breadth of his readings, Montaigne could have been ranked among the most erudite humanists of the XVIth century. But in the Essays, his aim is above all to exercise his own judgment properly. Readers who might want to convict him of ignorance would find nothing to hold against him, he said, for he was exerting his natural capacities, not borrowed ones. He thought that too much knowledge could prove a burden, preferring to exert his "natural...
Categories: Philosophy