Philosophies

Philosophy: A belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school.

Philosophy is an ancient and ever-evolving discipline, seeking to answer some of life's most complex questions through logical reasoning and critical thinking. It delves into the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, and branches into various schools of thought, each with unique perspectives and approaches.

Index
  1. What is philosophy?
  2. List of philosophies
  3. Philosophies of life
  4. Popular philosophies
  5. Philosophies journal
  6. Examples of philosophies
  7. Further inquiries into philosophies
    1. What do you mean by philosophies?
    2. What are a person's philosophies?
    3. What are the philosophies in life?
    4. What is philosophy examples?

What is philosophy?

Philosophy, at its core, is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. The discipline addresses these questions through argumentative methods rather than empirical ones, often prioritizing rational thought over experimentation. Philosophical inquiry spans across diverse philosophical schools of thought and traditions, contributing to a rich tapestry of intellectual exploration.

Key concepts in philosophy include metaphysics, which explores the nature of reality and existence; epistemology, the study of knowledge and belief; ethics, concerned with moral values and conduct; and aesthetics, the examination of beauty and art. Philosophy encourages individuals to examine their beliefs critically, fostering a deeper understanding of the world and our place within it.

Philosophers like Nietzsche and Plato have made significant impacts on philosophical discourse. Nietzsche challenged conventional morality and emphasized the importance of individual power and will, while Plato's writings on forms and justice have profoundly influenced Western philosophical thought. Their contributions continue to inspire and provoke philosophical reflection.

List of philosophies

  • Realism: Asserts the existence of an objective reality independent of our perceptions.
  • Idealism: Places emphasis on the mental or spiritual components of experience.
  • Existentialism: Focuses on individual existence, freedom, and choice.
  • Pragmatism: Considers the practical implications of ideas as their central concern.
  • Stoicism: Advocates for self-control and fortitude as a means to overcome destructive emotions.

From the ancient Greeks to modern times, various philosophical systems have been developed to make sense of the world around us. Each of these philosophies offers a unique lens through which to interpret human experience and knowledge.

Philosophies of life

Individual philosophies of life provide personal frameworks for understanding the world and guiding decisions. These personal philosophies are shaped by cultural, religious, and individual experiences, influencing one's values, ethics, and goals.

For many, philosophies of life are deeply intertwined with spirituality or religion, while for others, they may be rooted in secular humanism or existentialism. The key is that these philosophies serve as a compass for living a purposeful and reflective life.

Philosophies of life can be simple mottos or complex ethical systems, but they all seek to answer the question of how one should live to achieve happiness, fulfillment, and meaning.

Popular philosophies

Popular philosophies often emerge from the writings and teachings of influential thinkers and are adopted by wider audiences. For example, the philosophy of mindfulness, which encourages living in the present moment, has gained popularity in the West through the integration of Eastern meditative practices.

Other examples include existentialism, which gained widespread attention in the 20th century, and Stoicism, which has seen a resurgence in recent years as people seek guidance on resilience and emotional well-being.

These philosophies continue to shape public discourse and offer individuals various philosophical reflections to apply in their own lives.

Philosophies journal

The 'Philosophies' journal is a noteworthy publication that curates a wide range of articles on philosophical inquiry. As an open access journal, it serves as an academic platform for the discussion of philosophical ideas across different cultural contexts.

Published by MDPI and affiliated with IS4SI, the journal features peer-reviewed research that spans discussions on scientific research, technology, and various cultural phenomena. The journal's commitment to integrating scientific research with philosophical reflection bridges the gap between empirical studies and theoretical considerations.

Its diverse range of topics includes studies on philosophical figures such as Nietzsche and explorations into philosophical literature like 'Fear and Trembling,' showcasing the journal's breadth and depth.

Examples of philosophies

An example of a widely discussed philosophy is utilitarianism, which suggests that the best action is the one that maximizes utility, usually defined as maximizing happiness and reducing suffering. Another example is deontology, which posits that the morality of an action should be based on whether the action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules, rather than based on the consequences of the action.

In the realm of political philosophy, liberalism advocates for individual rights and freedoms, while socialism emphasizes social equality and communal responsibility.

Eastern philosophies such as Confucianism focus on social harmony and moral conduct, whereas Taoism emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao, the fundamental nature of the universe.

Each of these philosophies offers a distinct viewpoint on ethics, governance, and the human condition, providing rich fodder for philosophical inquiry.

Further inquiries into philosophies

What do you mean by philosophies?

Philosophies refer to a set of fundamental beliefs or principles that guide an individual's or a group's worldview and decision-making process. It encompasses various systems of thought that seek to explain the complexities of life, including moral judgments, social practices, and the underlying nature of reality.

Philosophies can be personal or widely accepted doctrines that provide a framework for understanding and navigating the human experience.

What are a person's philosophies?

A person's philosophies are the beliefs and principles that they hold as foundational to their life. These might include ideas about what constitutes the good life, the nature of justice, or the importance of truth and knowledge.

These philosophies can influence behavior, shape attitudes, and inform a person's choices and responses to various life situations.

What are the philosophies in life?

Philosophies in life refer to the overarching beliefs and values that an individual adheres to when making decisions, interacting with others, and seeking purpose and direction. They form the bedrock of one's ethical, religious, or existential views.

Life philosophies often address questions of morality, happiness, success, and the meaning of life, playing a crucial role in shaping one's identity and actions.

What is philosophy examples?

Examples of philosophy include ethical theories such as consequentialism, which judges the rightness of an action by its outcomes, and virtue ethics, which focuses on the moral character of the individual. In metaphysics, dualism posits the existence of two distinct types of substance or reality: physical and non-physical.

In epistemology, rationalism argues that knowledge can be gained through the use of reason, and empiricism claims that knowledge arises from sensory experience. These examples illustrate the diverse range of ideas and arguments that make up the field of philosophy.

As we explore the vast landscape of philosophical traditions, it's evident that philosophy continues to be a crucial part of human thought and culture. It challenges us to consider new perspectives, question our assumptions, and pursue a deeper understanding of the intricate world we live in.

If you're looking to dive deeper into these philosophical explorations, here's an insightful video that further discusses some of the ideas touched upon in this article:

In conclusion, philosophy enriches our lives by providing frameworks for understanding the world and our place within it. From the teachings of ancient philosophers to modern intellectual movements, philosophies continue to evolve, reflecting the dynamic nature of human thought and society.

Choose philosophies from the list to see more info:

Abandonment (existentialism)

Abandonment (20TH CENTURY). Concept central to atheistic existentialism. According to existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre, God does not exist and life therefore has no intrinsic purpose or meaning. Man has been "abandoned" in the universe and must create his own morality and code of values without the assistance of any divine being. Søren Kierkegaard and Frederich...

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Absence paradox

Absence paradox (19TH CENTURY). A source of humor used in music halls, but possibly ancient. No person is ever present, because he is either not in Vladivostok or alternatively is not in Patagonia, so he must be somewhere else. If he is somewhere else, he certainly is not here. This argument understands a relative adverb...

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Absolute

The Absolute (from lat. absolutum, "the detached") is a term used in many areas of theology and philosophy to denote the complete detachment from all (restricting) conditions or relationships; in the philosophical tradition the term is closely related to the unconditional. 19th century idealists from Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) to Francis Herbert Bradley (1846-1924) - unlike the earlier 18th century...

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Absolutism

In philosophy, the term absolutism is a contrast to relativism in any of its senses. In its political sense, a description (more frequently than justification) of government without constitutional restrictions. The authority to govern cannot be qualified or restricted, because if it is, whatever restricts it is itself the final power. Historically, one form it has...

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Act utilitarianism

Definition Act utilitarianism is a utilitarian theory of ethics which asserts that a person's act is morally correct if, and only if, it produces the best possible results (more happiness for more people) in that specific situation. The classical utilitarians, including Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill and Henry Sidgwick, define happiness as pleasure and absence...

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activism

activism (20TH CENTURY). Theory of the German-American psychoanalyst Erich Fromm (1900-1980). Rarely used in psychology, this is the doctrine that any relationship between thought and reality is characterized by continuous activity on the part of the mind rather than passive sensory receptivity. Source: A J Chapman and D M Jones, eds, Models of Man (Leicester, 1980)

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agnosticism

Any view claiming that knowledge is unobtainable in a given area, whether merely in practice or (and more usually) in principle too. Term invented by Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895) in 1869. In religious matters, agnosticism should be distinguished from atheism (the view that there is no god), though it sometimes includes the view that sentences like 'There is a...

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altruism

In popular speech, a willingness to sacrifice one's own interests for those of others. It is this sense that is relevant to discussions of, for example, the evolutionary origins and role of altruism in animals. Philosophically, altruism is rather a view about what one ought to do, and contrasts with egoism and universalism. It is a form of consequentialism and...

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analytic / synthetic

analytic / synthetic (1783). Distinction first formulated by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), adopted as a fundamental principle in linguistic semantics. An analytic or necessary truth ('sentence' in linguistics) is true by virtue of its meaning: 'All bachelors are unmarried men'. A synthetic or contingent truth is true by virtue of empirical fact: 'Grass is green' is...

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animism

A term variously used, in particular for the view that apparently inanimate parts of the universe (rivers, mountains, stars, and so on, as well as plants) are in fact animated and activated by souls or spirits; for example, Naiads (springs), Dryads (oak-trees) and so on. Usually the term is applied to primitive beliefs of this...

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anomalous monism

View associated especially with the American philosopher Donald Davidson (1920-2003), saying that mental events are identical with certain physical events (hence the monism), but that there are no laws which are purely mental, or which connect mental events with physical ones (hence the 'anomalous'; that there are no strict deterministic laws for predicting or explaining mental events is...

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anthropomorphism

anthropomorphism (1858). A term first used in biology by the encyclopaedist George Henry Lewes (1817-1878) in Seaside Studies, this is the interpretation of animal behaviors in terms of human motivation; for example, the notion that a mother dog cares for her puppies because she loves them. Difficult or impossible to prove or disprove, anthropomorphism is viewed dubiously...

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anthroposophy

anthroposophy (19TH-20TH CENTURIES). The teachings of the German occult philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), derived from an ancient Greek phrase meaning 'wisdom about man'. Steiner held that the development of man's spiritual awareness was of paramount importance. He attempted to treat the investigation of spirituality as a 'scientific' study, and based much of his research upon his central...

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anti-realism

A view, primarily associated with the Oxford logician Michael AE Dummett (1925- ), which insists that we can only understand a statement if we understand under what circumstances someone who asserted it would say something true, and that we can only understand this if we could manifest our understanding, at least in principle, by asserting it in...

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antinomianism

antinomianism (19TH-20TH CENTURIES). View of certain Christians that the duties of a Christian are not to be circumscribed by obedience to a moral law or set of laws. More widely, the view that justification is by faith rather than by obedience to such laws. More widely still, any view that seeks to justify the actions...

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apriorism

Apart from its popular meaning of dogmatism, apriorism is an alternative - though less common - term for rationalism in its philosophical senses; that is the views that there are a priori concepts, or substantive a priori truths, or both.

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Aristotle's four causes

Theory derived from the work of Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC). 'Cause' is a misleading, but traditional, translation of a word meaning 'factor responsible', or perhaps 'explanatory factor'. The 'four causes' provide answers to four questions one might ask about something, for example, a man: 'What is it made from?' 'Flesh and so on' (material cause); 'What...

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associationism

A doctrine developed primarily by the Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) and the English psychologist David Hartley (1705-1757). (Psychology and philosophy of mind were not then distinguished, but Hartley offered a physiological basis for what in Hume was a purely mentalistic doctrine.) Ideas, regarded rather as sensations or as mental images, were associated in the mind according to certain...

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atheism

The contention that there is no God and that religious faith in such an entity is a consequence of man's imagination or gullibility. It has been argued that virtually everyone is an atheist as few people profess to believe in all the gods or other divine personalities devised by man. More conventionally, the atheist denies...

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atomic uniformity principle

Principle used by the English economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) in trying to justify induction. It said that, if induction is to work, a complex change must be resolvable into a set of component changes each of which is separately attributable to some distinct feature of the preceding state of affairs. Also see: INDUCTIVE PRINCIPLE Source: J...

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Atomism

Atomism is a philosophical theory that emerged in Ancient Greece during the fifth century BC and in India around 200 BC-100 BC., according to which the universe is made up of combinations of small, indivisible particles called atoms (from the Greek ἄτομον, "uncuttable", "indivisible"). As a physical theory, atomism was invented by Leucippus and Democritus in the...

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attitude theories

In effect another name for speech act theories; though, strictly speaking, attitude theories analyze the meaning of certain words or sentences in terms of the expression of attitudes rather than the performing of various other acts that one can perform by speaking, such as prescribing or denying. The name therefore applies to emotivism more happily than to, say, prescriptivism or...

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Bayesianism

Belief that the use of induction in science can be rationally justified by appeal to Bayes's Theorem (Thomas Bayes, 1702-1761)). This says that the probability of one proposition, given another, equals the probability of the second, given the first, multiplied by the prior probability of the first (that is the probability it already has, irrespective...

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behaviorism

behaviorism (1913). Also referred to as the stimulus-response model, this term was coined by the American psychologist John Broadus Watson (1878-1958) in his paper, 'Psychology as the Behaviorist Sees It'. It is a theory of animal and human behavior holding that actions can be explained entirely as responses to stimuli; and asserting that observable and...

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Bentham's theory of utilitarianism

Bentham's theory of utilitarianism (19TH CENTURY). Originally developed by English political philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), Bentham's theory of utilitarianism asserts that actions and institutions should be judged by their contribution to utility, which is measured by calculating the relative contribution to happiness or pleasure, as opposed to pain. The aim of government should thus be...

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bivalence law or principle

Law or principle of bivalence: Theory that every proposition is either true or false. Possible objections are of two kinds. First, can we decide what counts as a proposition in the relevant sense? Second, might not the principle fail for some presumably genuine propositions; for example, 'Jones was brave' (where Jones died peacefully after a...

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Boo Hurrah theory

Slightly disrespectful title for emotivism as a theory of ethics, because it analyzes moral judgments as expressions of unfavorable or favorable emotion.

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British empiricists

Name applied primarily to John Locke (1632-1704), George Berkeley (1685-1753), and David Hume (1711-1776), with lesser figures such as Francis Bacon (1561-1626) and Thomas Reid (1710-1796). Also see: empiricism, subjective idealism, regulatory theory of causation, bundle theories, continental rationalists.

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bundle theories

Theories that analyze a given item as a mere bundle of items of some other kind; where the first item would normally be thought of as something substantive and independent, the other items being somehow related to it, or dependent on it and owing their existence to it. There are two main examples. The first...

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Buridan's ass

Buridan's ass (14TH CENTURY). A theoretical illustration of the dilemma posed by the need to make a decision between two equally attractive proposals. The concept itself dates from much earlier times, being discussed first by Aristotle (384-322 BC). In Buridan's example, an ass faces starvation when it is unable to choose between two equally appetizing piles of...

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categorical imperative

Term from German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), who claimed to derive morality - in the form of an imperative valid for all rational beings - from reason. The general idea was that I may not act in ways that I cannot, without inconsistency, will that everyone else should act in too. Suppose that to gain some advantage...

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category mistake

Term introduced by English philosopher Gilbert Ryle (1900-1976) for cases where we talk of something in terms appropriate only to something of a radically different kind. For example, 'The Prime Minister is in London, and the Foreign Secretary is in Paris, and the Home Secretary is in Bristol, but where is the Government?' The Government is not...

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causal principle

Name for a variety of principles, such as that every event has a cause, that the same cause must have the same effect, or that the cause must have at least as much reality as the effect. This last principle (somewhat akin to the principle of sufficient reason) usually says that what causes something to...

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causal realism

The view that substantive causal connections exist in reality, as opposed to the reductionist approach of the regularity theory of causation.

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causal theories

Any theory which analyzes a concept in terms of causation can be called a causal theory of that concept. In particular, causal theories have been offered of knowledge, meaning, memory, perception, and reference. All such theories can of course exist in different versions.

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causal theories of meaning

Theories which explain the meaning of a word or sentence in terms of its effect on the hearer, or in terms of the cause of its utterance by the speaker. Such theories are also sometimes called 'stimulus/response theories', and they have some kinship with behaviorism. An objection is that most such views ignore the roles of...

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causal theories of perception

Any theory which says that the object of perception plays a causal role in the perception itself. The object may cause us to have a certain experience without itself being perceived (we may have to infer its existence, or 'construct' it from experiences rather as we 'construct' the average man from real men: also see: phenomenalism)....

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causal theories of reference

Any theory saying that if we are to refer to an object we must be in some relevant causal contact with it. We cannot therefore refer to fictitious objects, but must be using their names in some other way. Suppose that I try talking about one 'Ebenezer Pilkington, who is "F"' (where 'F is some...

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causal theory of knowledge

Any theory which says that to know a truth one must believe it and one's belief must stand in a certain causal relation to the truth itself. For example, I know that Caesar crossed the Rubicon if his doing so caused some historian to write a book saying so, which caused my local library to...

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causal theory of memory

Any theory holding that for me to remember something some present mental experience of mine (or perhaps some present piece of behavior of mine) is causally related to something relevant in the past. This 'something relevant' may be what is remembered, but may also be something merely connected with that: I remember to put the...

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causal theory of names

Theory advanced especially by American philosophers Saul Kripke (1940- ) and Hilary Putnam (1926- ) that whether a currently used name names a certain object depends on whether current use of the name causally depends on its use by people who originally dubbed the object with that name. 'Homer' names whatever person the Greeks used it (or a Greek...

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chain of being

chain of being (4TH CENTURY BC - 18TH CENTURY). Also called the great chain of being and scala natura. Based on ideas of Plato (c.427-c.347 BC) and Aristotle (384-322 BC), but popularized in biology in the writings of German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716), French naturalist Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1720-1788), and Swiss philosopher Charles Bonnet (1720-1793). This is the influential concept...

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charity principle

Principle of charity: Principle named by Neil L. Wilson - in Review of Metaphysics (1958-59), page 532 - that when interpreting another speaker, especially of an unknown language, we should make those assumptions about his intelligence, knowledge, sense of relevance and so on, that will make most of what he says come out true. Also...

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classical theory of probability

Theory generally attributed to French mathematician and astronomer Pierre-Simon, Marquis de Laplace (1749-1827) in his Essai philosophique sur les probability (1820). It says that the probability of an occurrence in a given situation is the proportion, among all possible outcomes, of those outcomes that include the given occurrence. The main difficulty lies in dividing up...

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coherence theory of truth

A theory maintaining that a proposition will be true if it forms part of a system of mutually coherent propositions which is wider than any rival system. The coherence or consistency in question must of course be definable independently of truth, which may be difficult. The theory is favored especially by objective idealism, which rejects the...

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compatibilism

View that free will and determinism are compatible. Even though all our actions are caused, it is held, we can still be free in the only senses that are desirable or possible. (Indeed, it is sometimes added, we would not be free at all if our actions were uncaused, since they would then be arbitrary and unpredictable,...

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computational psychology

An approach to learning which postulates events in the brain which 'represent' inferences and so on. It mediates between methodological behaviorism and a purely introspective approach. It broadens out into cognitive science when it studies artificial intelligence and areas bordering on CYBERNETICS and so on. Also see: connectionism Source: M A Boden and D H Mellor, 'What is...

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conceptualism

Any view which emphasizes concepts when analyzing something. Primarily, conceptualism is a view about universals (things normally denoted in English by words ending in '-hood', '-ness', or '-ty'). It says that these are concepts in the mind (though not necessarily confined to an individual mind), and neither non-material objects with a real existence independent of...

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confirmation principle

Alternative name for a weak version of the verifiability principle, whereby in order to be meaningful a statement must, if not a tautology, be confirmable or disconfirmable by observation.

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Confucianism

Confucianism (5TH CENTURY BC). Body of teaching associated with the Chinese philosopher Confucius (c.551-479 BC). Confucianism was the traditional state religion of China until the Communists suppressed it after the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. Confucian ideas are drawn from the five books of 'Analects' compiled from the sayings of Confucius himself and his disciples. Although followers...

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connectionism

A theory of the mind with many versions. They have in common that they set up models which employ simple interactions between the nodes in a computer network in such a way that sets of these interactions occur at the same time (or 'in parallel', hence 'parallel processing'). This uses the information processing in the...

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connexive implication

Term used in a kind of relevance logic, existing in different versions but similarly motivated and using ideas from Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Boethius (CAD 480-524). The relevant kind of implication is defined as holding when the antecedent of a conditional proposition is incompatible with the negation of the consequent. This bans implications of the...

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consequentialism

Doctrine that the moral rightness of an act or policy depends entirely on its consequences; the moral goodness of the agent depending on the act's expected or intended consequences. This is one form of teleology, utilitarianism is one form of consequentialism. Objections include the apparent moral counterintuitiveness of many consequentialist prescriptions, especially in connection with...

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consistent empiricism

Name given by the German philosopher Moritz Schlick (1882-1936), a member of the Vienna circle, to his own version of logical positivism. Source: M Schlick, 'Meaning and Verification', Philosophical Review (1936), 343

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constructivism

A view in the philosophy of mathematics which insists that mathematical entities (numbers, sets, proofs, and so on) can only be said to exist if they can be constructed; that is if some method can be specified for arriving at them on the basis of things we accept already. One advantage of this is that...

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contextualism

Any view that sees some phenomenon as relative to a context, or insists on the relevance of context for interpretation. In aesthetics, the doctrine that works of art can be appreciated only by reference to their context, circumstances of production, artist's intuitions, and so on (also see:ISOLATIONISM). In ethics, the view that values are instrumental...

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continental rationalists

Name primarily applied to Rene Descartes (1596-1650), Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), together with various lesser figures including Cartesians (followers in a general sense of Descartes) like Arnold Geulincx (1625-1669) and Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715). Also see: rationalism, occasionalism, double aspect theory of mind, pre-established harmony, British empiricists

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continuity law or principle

Law or principle of continuity: Principle of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) which can be roughly rendered as saying that when the difference between two causes is diminished indefinitely, so is the difference between their effects (though Leibniz would not put it in these causal terms, since for him God is the only true cause). 'Nature...

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contractualism

Any theory basing either moral obligation in general, or the duty of political obedience, or the justice of social institutions, on a contract, usually called a 'social contract'. The idea goes back at least as far as Plato's Crito (c.395 BC), and contractualists (or contractarians) have also included Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), John Locke (1632-1704), Jean...

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contradiction law

Law of contradiction: Also called the law (or principle) of non-contradiction. One of the traditional three laws of thought (the other two being the laws of identity and of excluded middle). Variously formulated as saying that no proposition can be both true and not true; or that nothing can be - without qualification - the...

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convention t

Also called Criterion T. A device due to Polish logician Alfred Tarski (1901-1983) and originally used in defining truth for a formal language, but later used (by American philosopher Donald Davidson (1930-2003)) to give an account of meaning in terms of truth. The details are complex, but roughly: consider the sentence 'La neige est blanche'...

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conventionalism

Any theory appealing to convention to explain something which is not obviously of conventional origin (as, for example, the symbols chosen for some purpose are). Among older writers, conventionalism is associated especially with Jules Henri Poincare (1854-1912) and Pierre-Maurice Duhem (1861-1916); and among modern ones with Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000). In logic and mathematics...

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correspondence or relational theories of meaning

Theories which analyze the meaning of words in terms of things they stand for in some sense, be these objects of various kinds (also see: naming theories of meaning) or ideas and so on. For such a theory concerning sentences, also see: ideational theories of meaning, picture theory of meaning

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correspondence theory of truth

The strictest form of the theory defines truth as a structural correspondence between what is true (a belief, judgment, proposition, sentence, and so on) and what makes it true (an event, fact, state of affairs, and so on). Because of difficulties in defining such a relation (difficulties also facing the PICTURE THEORY OF MEANING), the...

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counterpart theory

Term used in connection with the modal realist analysis of necessity, possibility, and counterfactual conditional statements (those where the antecedent is presented as being false). Consider 'If Hitler had invaded England he would have won.' Assuming his invasion was a possibility, there will be possible worlds in which he does, and in some of these...

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covering law model

Term used in connection with the modal realist analysis of necessity, possibility, and counterfactual conditional statements (those where the antecedent is presented as being false). Consider 'If Hitler had invaded England he would have won.' Assuming his invasion was a possibility, there will be possible worlds in which he does, and in some of these...

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Craig's theorem

Craig's theorem (1953). Proof concerning the formal description of scientific theories, expounded by William Craig. According to Craig, a formal expression of a scientific theory is divisible into 'theoretical' and 'observational' vocabularies, and (since the 'observational' terms are all deducible) it follows that a description can be produced that consists only of 'observational' terms and...

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creative evolution

The theory which French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941) substituted for the Darwinian mechanism of his day. Bergson's theory mediated between the mechanism of natural selection and an outright teleological view, appealing to an dan vital ('vital impetus') which guided evolution in a certain direction; not in what he saw as the mechanistic non-explanatory fashion of...

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critical realism

Name introduced by American philosopher Roy Wood Sellars (1880-1973) in Critical Realism (1916) for his attempt to mediate between direct realism and idealism by saying that the objects of perception are neither objects themselves nor ideas arid so on in the mind but sets of properties of these objects. Source: D Drake et al., eds,...

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cynicism

Philosophy of the movement started by Diogenes of Sinope (4th century BC) and possibly influenced by Antisthenes, a contemporary and disciple of Socrates (469-399 BC). The movement lasted intermittently for some 800 years or more, flourishing mainly in its first two centuries and again under the early Roman Empire (first two centuries AD). The Cynics...

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de facto and de jure theories of meaning

A distinction associated with use theories of meaning. De facto theories give the meaning of a word in terms of how it is actually used; de jure theories give it in terms of how it should be used, or of rules for its use, claiming that actual usage may be incorrect. Source: L J Cohen,...

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deduction theorem

Let 'P' and 'Q' stand for (simple or compound) propositions. The deduction theorem says that: if Q can be logically inferred from P, then 'If P then Q' can be proved as a theorem in the logical system in question. This gives a method for dispensing with rules of inference in favor of axioms and...

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deductivism

Name sometimes applied to the claim, especially associated with Austrian philosopher Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994), that since induction is logically invalid, science should dispense with it in favor of deduction. Also see: inductivism, falsificationism, hypothetico-deductive method, Vienna circle Source: L Carrol; What the Tortoise Said to Achilles

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degrees of truth

There are two main sources of the idea that truth has degrees. One is objective idealism, as explained under coherence theory of truth. The other arises because many predicates are essentially vague. When does a heap of sand become large? It seems plausible that a 100-grain heap is not large, and that a heap which...

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deism

deism (18TH CENTURY). The doctrine that belief in a passive creator-God is entirely consistent with reason, without recourse to established religion or the supernatural. In its 18th-century heyday, deism was particularly associated with such philosophical writers as Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694-1778) and Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) (although similar thoughts had been expressed by...

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denotation and connotation

denotation and connotation (1843). Distinction drawn by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). A word denotes the class of entities to which it may be used to refer; it connotes the qualities usually associated with those entities. See also the non-equivalent distinction sense and reference. Source: J Lyons, Semantics (Cambridge, 1977) ch. 7

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deontology

Strictly, the study of duty, but in practice a particular view that duty is the primary moral notion, and that at least some of our duties (for example, keeping promises) do not depend on any value that may result from fulfilling them. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is probably the most famous deontologist. Also see: categorical imperative....

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descriptions theory

Theory of descriptions: Theory invented by English philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) in 1905 to show how denoting phrases like 'the present king of France' could still have meaning though there is nothing for them to denote. Russell claimed that the grammatical form of 'The present king of France is bald' is misleading as...

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descriptive theory of names

Theory that proper names, or some of them, and words for natural kinds, like 'tiger' or 'water', have meaning by specifying a description that the object or stuff concerned must satisfy for the name to apply to it. For example 'tiger' means 'fierce animal with stripes...', 'water' means 'colorless tasteless liquid suitable for drinking 'Homer'...

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descriptivism

Any theory claiming that certain utterances have meaning by describing (or purporting to describe) some aspect of reality rather than in various other ways (for example, prescriptivism and emotivism). In practice the term is confined to ethical utterances. 'Lying is wrong' and 'You ought not to lie' both purport to state moral facts, though descriptivism...

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determinism

The general course of events is determined by structures deemed to be fundamental. These may be the economic system, the system of religious belief, the state of technology, and so on. Determinism is normally attributed to thinkers in a critical spirit, rather than claimed by them to describe their own views. Not the same as...

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dialectic

A term with various meanings for different philosophers, notably Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Hegel, and Karl Marx. For the ancients, dialectic was largely a matter of philosophical method. As embodying a theory about reality the term belongs primarily to Hegel, who thought that both reality itself and our thought about it (which...

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dialetheism

A name for the view that the law of contradiction can on occasion and within certain limits be violated without irrationality; '...the view that some contradictions are true, or that some things are both true and false'. Also see: paraconsistency Source: G Priest, 'Contradiction, Belief and Rationality', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1985-86) p.99

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double aspect theory of mind

Theory that mind and body, or mental events and some cerebral events, are two aspects of a single thing. The theory resembles neutral monism but is more limited, applying only to certain cerebral (or perhaps neural) events. It is often attributed to Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), but interpretations of him differ. When the body becomes privileged...

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double effect doctrine

Ethical doctrine, associated especially though not exclusively with Roman Catholicism. Though we may not intentionally produce evil, we may intentionally do (in pursuit of a suitably greater good) what we foresee will in fact produce evil, provided we regard this evil as an unwanted side-effect which we would avoid if possible. The occurrence of the...

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double negation principle

Principle that, for any proposition P, P logically implies not-not-P, and not-not-P logically implies P. Classical logic accepts both these halves of the principle, but intuitionist logic accepts only the first half, and not the second. This is because it accepts the law of contradiction (and so, given P, cannot allow not-P), but rejects the...

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dualism

Any view which analyzes a given subject-matter, be it the universe as a whole or merely some area of concern, in terms of exactly two fundamentally distinct and opposed ideas. Reality may be divided into matter and spirit, a person into body and soul, propositions into analytic and synthetic, judgments into factual and evaluative, to...

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eclecticism and syncretism

Periods of philosophical innovation are often followed by periods of consolidation (some would say, decline) when progress is sought by selecting features from different philosophers, regarded as opposed to one another, and combining them to form a unified whole. Alternatively it may be claimed that the philosophers were not really opposed to each other in...

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effluxes theory

Theory of effluxes / effluences: Theory associated with Greek atomism and its revival in the corpuscularian philosophy of the 17th century as well as by non-atomists like Empedocles (5th century BC). It holds that objects continually emit films from their surfaces, which cause them to be perceived, much as we ourselves might explain smell. Lucretius...

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egocentric predicament

Term coined by Ralph Barton Perry (1876-1957) for the idea that all our knowledge of the world must take the form of mental representations within our own minds (sensations, images, ideas, and so on), which the mind then operates upon in various ways. Thus we can never have any direct contact with reality outside our...

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egoism

In ordinary speech, selfishness (also called 'egotism', a word never used in philosophy). As a philosophical doctrine egoism is either psychological egoism (for which see hedonism), or ethical egoism, which contrasts with universalism and altruism. Like them it is a form of consequentialism, and prescribes that everyone should always act so as to maximize his...

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eleaticism

A movement in 5th century BC Greek thought stemming from Parmenides of Elea (in southern Italy) and his two main disciples Zeno of Elea (not the Stoic) and Melissus of Samos. The main tenet was an insistence that any kind of change was impossible, and so (on the usual interpretation) was any kind of plurality....

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emergence theories

Theories of the development of some phenomenon (e.g. life consciousness) where something emerges out of a background from which it could not have been predicted and in terms of which it cannot be fully explained. What emerges may be a law of nature, or a science, though this would normally be because of emergent properties...

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emotive theory of truth

A theory developed to parallel emotivism in ethics, the point being that what criterion of truth we adopt (e.g. logical intuition, faith, workability, verifiability) depends upon our emotions or attitudes. Also see: pragmatic theory of truth Source: B Savery, 'The Emotive Theory of Truth', Mind (1955)

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emotivism

Theory that value judgments, including moral judgments, do not state facts (though they appear to), but are expressions of emotions or attitudes. (Also see: Boo Hurrah Theory.) The theory, a form of speech act theory, arose under the influence of logical positivism (though it had antecedents in the 18th century) because of the difficulties of...

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empiricism

Any theory emphasizing sense-experience (including introspection) rather than reason or intuition as the basis for either some or all of our knowledge; 'basis' referring usually to justification, though sometimes to psychological origin. Empiricism can concern either propositions or concepts, rejecting (most) a priori ones; for John Locke (1632-1704) all concepts ('ideas') were empirical, but propositions...

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empiriocriticism

A name for the version of positivism developed by Austrian physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach (1838-1916) and the German Richard Avenarius (1843-1896), and coming between the original positivism of Auguste Comte (1798-1857) and the later logical positivism. Science on this view aims at the most economical description of appearances, on which predictions of further appearances...

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epicureanism

Philosophy of Epicurus of Samos (342-271 BC) and his followers, notably the Roman poet Titus Lucretius (c.99-c.55 BC). They developed the atomism of Leucippus and Democritus, and like their contemporary rivals the Stoics they were materialists, though their atomism involved the existence of empty space, which the Stoics rejected. Atoms fell downwards through space, but...

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epiphenomenalism

Doctrine that some item under investigation is a mere by-product of some process and has no causal influence of its own. In particular, the claim that the mind is not a separate entity from the body, that conscious phenomena are mere by-products of cerebral or neural processes and have no causal effects on those processes....

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epistemic closure principle

Principle of epistemic closure: Principle that, where P and Q are propositions, if we know that P, and know that P logically entails Q, we know that Q. Sometimes said to support skepticism, because if I know that, for example, I am holding a pen, and know that if I am holding a pen I...

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essentialism

Properly speaking, the doctrine that at least some objects have essences; that is, they have some of their properties essentially, not just because they are described in a certain way (a bishop is essentially in holy orders, yet could be defrocked without ceasing to be himself) but because they must have those properties to be...

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excluded middle law

Law of excluded middle: One of the traditional three laws of thought (along with the laws of identity and contradiction). Every proposition is either true or not true. This is weaker than the law of bivalence (every proposition is true or false), since if there is a third truth value excluded middle can still hold,...

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existentialism

Movement originating with Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) and continuing later with Karl Jaspers (1883-1969), Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973), Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), and various others, though it has had little influence in English-speaking philosophy. Fyodor Dostoevsky (1812-1881) and Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) are sometimes included. The main idea is to distinguish the kind of being possessed...

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extensionality thesis

Thesis beloved of logical atomists, logical positivists, and various kinds of nominalists and reductionists. It says that apparent exceptions to Leibniz's law can be dispensed with; that is, intensions can be reduced to extensions, or roughly, what holds true of objects does not depend on how they are described. For logical atomism in particular the...

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externalism

Any view claiming that to analyze a certain phenomenon reference must be made to something outside a certain sphere within which the phenomenon might have been thought to be confined. In particular, externalism appears in certain analyses of mental notions such as belief and knowledge. An externalist view of belief holds, for example, that one...

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fact / value distinction

Claim that a sharp distinction can be drawn between factual statements and value judgments, only the former being regarded as stating anything and as being true or false; the latter having meaning by doing something other than stating (for example, expressing attitudes: see speech act theories). The claim underlies emotivist and prescriptivist - as against...

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fallibilism

Doctrine that nothing can be known for certain; that is, there is no infallible knowledge, but there can still be knowledge. We need not have logically conclusive justifications for what we know. This was particularly insisted on by the American pragmatist Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) in his opposition to foundationalism. Also see: relevant alternatives theory,...

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falsificationism

Claim associated especially with Austrian philosopher Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994) that science should aim not to verify or confirm hypotheses - as verificationists and inductivists in general claim - but to falsify them. This is because science is interested (in Popper's view) in universal affirmative conclusions, of the form 'All As are Bs', and if...

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fatalism

The view - beloved of Greek oracles and their adherents - that the future, or part of it, will be what it will be, irrespective of our desires and actions. If we try to evade what is destined, our actions will always be frustrated and somehow turned so as to bring about the fated result....

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fideism

The idea that religious faith stands apart from orthodox reason and can never be reconciled with it. Such religious thinkers as St Augustine (354-430) have argued that reason itself plays a subsidiary role to faith; while others (including Danish philosopher Soren Aaby Kierkegaard (1813-1855)) have maintained that acceptance of various aspects of religious belief requires...

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fido-fido theories

Theories which explain some concept in terms of a direct relation to an object. The "Fido"-Fido theory of meaning says that the meaning of a word is an object it stands for (the name "Fido" means the dog Fido); the term is thus a nickname for a naming theory of meaning. The "Fido"-Fido theory of...

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finalism

View that there are final causes (see Aristotle's four causes) in nature; that is, that at least some things other than the products of deliberate human activity can be explained in terms of their end or purpose. The idea that the world, or certain features of it, were amenable to such explanation goes back at...

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finitism

Usually regarded as a form of CONSTRUCTIVISM in the philosophy of mathematics, emphasizing that the construction in question must be possible in finitely many steps with finitely many elements. The views that the construction must be possible in practice (not just in principle), and that a mathematical statement only gets its sense from the way...

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five ways

five ways (13TH CENTURY). The five methods employed by St Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274) in his attempt to prove the existence of God by reference to natural facts about the universe, in Summa Theologiae. The five ways were: argument from design; the cosmological argument; the degrees of perfection argument; the First Cause theory; the First...

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folk psychology

Term used in recent philosophy of mind for the view that beliefs, desires and so on exist and operate much as common sense assumes they do; that is, the operations of the mind can be adequately explained in terms of such notions, or (more strongly) that they cannot be adequately explained without them. Strictly the...

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formalism

Any doctrine emphasizing form as against matter or content, especially in aesthetics, ethics, and philosophy of mathematics. (The term is not, however, normally used of a metaphysical preoccupation with Platonic or Aristotelian forms.) In ethics formalism sees the value or rightness of an action in what kind of action it is (what formal description it...

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foundationalism

Doctrine that knowledge must have foundations; that is, if we are to know anything at all there must be some things that we can know incorrigibly, so that it is impossible - or perhaps does not even make sense - for us to be mistaken. The usual candidates for such knowledge have been facts about...

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four humors

Four bodily juices (blood, phlegm, black bile, yellow bile) whose balance or imbalance in the body was commonly regarded in Ancient Greek medicine as the source of health or disease. The doctrine was made influential for later thought by Galen (129-C.AD 199), though its origins are much earlier in the Hippocratic tradition (see the treatise...

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frequency theory of probability

Theory due to German philosopher and mathematician Richard von Mises (1883-1954) in Probability, Statistics and Truth (1928, 2nd edition translated 1939). Here he defined the probability of something in terms of the relative frequency of its occurrence on occasions when it might occur. Von Mises limits his definition to cases where we have a collective,...

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functionalism

Any theory analyzing something in terms of its function; that is, any theory claiming that the best, or only, way of defining something is in terms of what it does or the role it plays in the ongoing course of events. Functionalism tends to define things in terms of their causes and effects, and, in...

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golden rule

'Do as you would be done by', or 'Treat others as you would have them treat you'. Apart from the New Testament (Matthew 7.12) the rule occurs as far back as Confucius (551-479 BC) in his Analects (15.23; compare 5.11).

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Goodman's paradox

Goodman's paradox (20TH CENTURY). Linguistic theory (also known as the 'new riddle of induction') concerning the concept of confirmation or prediction, developed by the American philosopher Nelson Goodman (1906-1998). According to Goodman, it is possible to define a vocabulary in such a way that, given a choice between two possibilities, it is as likely that...

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haecceitism

Literally: 'thisnessism'. Theory deriving from Johannes Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308), with roots in Aristotle, that as well as ordinary general properties there are special properties (haec-ceitie or thisnesses) necessarily associated each with just one individual. Socrates has the property of Socrateity and Plato that of Platonity. Traditional Aristotelianism individuated objects by their matter, which as...

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hedonism

Set of doctrines shared between philosophical psychology and ethics. Ethical hedonism says either that pleasure alone (or 'happiness', which is usually not distinguished from pleasure by hedonists) is ultimately good, or that every action should aim to maximize pleasure; in neither case need the pleasure be the agent's (a point that is often forgotten, as...

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hedonistic utilitarianism

A form of utilitarianism which holds that one ought to do whatever maximizes pleasure and minimizes pain. Hedonistic utilitarianism is associated with Jeremy Bentham.

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Hempel's paradox

Hempel's paradox (20TH CENTURY). Also known as the confirmation paradox, it was discovered by Carl Gustav Hempel (1905-1997). The statement 'All prime ministers live at 10 Downing Street' tends to be confirmed by finding a kennel containing a dog, because this is an example of a dwelling that is not 10 Downing Street which is...

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hermeneutics

LITERALLY, THE STUDY OF INTERPRETATION. The term was originally associated with biblical studies, but a philosophical tendency has been developed especially by Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911), and Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002). Dilthey emphasized the need in human studies (Geisteswissenschaften) for an empathetic understanding (usually called by the German term, Verstehen) which went beyond mere...

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historicism

TERM USED FOR DIFFERENT AND INDEED INCOMPATIBLE THEORIES. It has two main senses. First, that historical events must be seen in their uniqueness and can only be understood against the background of their context. In this sense it is akin to the emphasis on Verstehen in Wilhelm Dilthey's hermeneutics. The second sense is that of...

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holism

Any view which emphasizes the whole of something as distinct from its parts. In particular, this doctrine says that the whole in question cannot be predicted from or explained in terms of its parts (also see emergence theories); or else that the whole is more important than its parts (as in, for example, collectivist political...

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holistic explanation

Explanation of a kind claimed to be especially required in the spheres of perceptual experience and the actions of a rational agent, where explanations cannot be given in terms of single factors (beliefs, desires, and so on) but only in terms of whole systems of such factors interrelated in complex ways. However, the elaboration of...

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human nature

THEORY OF HUMAN INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIAL CHARACTER. There is a 'natural' human character as there is a natural shape to a particular plant or a natural form to a particular animal. This human nature is prior to the particularities of any time or place. Source: David Miller et al., eds, The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political...

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humanity principle

Principle of humanity: PRINCIPLE NAMED BY RICHARD E GRANDY IN 1973 AS A SUPPLEMENT TO THE PRINCIPLE OF CHARITY. It says that when interpreting another speaker we must assume not simply that he is intelligent and so on, but that his beliefs and desires are connected to each other and to reality in a way...

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Hume's law

DERIVED FROM THE SCOTTISH PHILOSOPHER DAVID HUME (1711-1776), AN INFORMAL NAME FOR A DISTINCTION (RATHER LIKE THE FACT/VALUE DISTINCTION) BETWEEN STATEMENTS OF FACT AND UTTERANCES WITH AN 'OUGHT' IN THEM. In his Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40), Hume claimed (as usually interpreted) that the latter could never be logically derived from the former, and this...

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hylomorphism

5TH CENTURY B.C. OR EARLIER A philosophical theory which holds that substance is composed of matter and form.

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hylozoism

Treatment of matter, or parts of the material world, as intrinsically alive. Where animism tends to view the life as taking the form of discrete spirits, and panpsychism tends to refer to strictly philosophical views like that of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), hylozoism refers largely to views such as those of the earliest Greek philosophers...

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hypothetico-deductive method

Scientific method whereby science should set up testable hypotheses and then try to falsify them, rather than trying to confirm them directly by accumulating favourable evidence. Introduced by the English scholar William Whewell (1794-1866) and developed especially by the Austrian philosopher Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994). Those hypotheses which - despite severe tests - survive unfalsified...

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ideal utilitarianism

Version of utilitarianism which (in contrast to hedonistic utilitarianism) does not take pleasure to be the only, or even necessarily the main, value. The version of English empiricist George Edward Moore (1873-1958) emphasized aesthetic values and certain personal relationships, and was especially influential on the Bloomsbury Set during the early 20th century. Also see: falsificationism,...

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idealism

Any view saying that reality is in some way mental, or depends intrinsically - and not just causally - on mind (not necessarily the human mind). The term may also apply to features of some philosophy, but is connected for philosophers with 'idea' rather than, as in popular usage, with 'ideal' in the sense of...

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ideational theories of meaning

Theories which say that words have meaning by standing for ideas, thoughts or concepts, and so on. Such theories are found in Aristotle's (4th century BC) early work De Interpretatione (On Interpretation), especially chapters 1-4; and in the writing of English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704). They have the advantage over naming theories of meaning in...

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identity law

One of the traditional three laws of thought, the other two being the laws of contradiction and excluded middle. 'Everything is what it is and not another thing', or (where 'P' is any proposition) 'If P then P'. The English empiricist George Edward Moore (1873-1958) took the first quotation above as the motto for his...

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identity of indiscernibles

One part of Leibniz's law, saying that if what appear to be two or more things have all their properties in common they are identical and so only one thing. In its widest and weakest form, the properties concerned include relational properties such as spatiotemporal ones and self-identity. A stronger version limits the properties to...

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identity theory of mind

Theory, coming primarily from Australia in the 1950s, that various mental phenomena are identical with certain cerebral or neuro-physiological phenomena. (The names 'brain process theory' and 'central state materialism' are sometimes used for these two alternatives, respectively; more generally, the theory is called simply materialism or pysicalism, though both these terms have other uses too.)...

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identity theory of predication

Theory that subject/predicate statements are really identity statements, so that 'X is red' means 'X is identical with some red thing'. This is in effect the same as the theory Geach traces back to Aristotle (384-322 BC), but which is criticized even earlier by Plato (c.427-c.347 BC) in the Sophist, and treats predation in terms...

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identity theory of truth

Named by STEWART CANDLISH (in Mind, 1989) and recently attributed to the idealist philosopher Francis Herbert Bradley (1846-1924). It is also seen as having strong affinities with the views of George Edward Moore (1873-1958) and Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) at one period in the development of their respective philosophies, and possibly with that of Gottlob Frege...

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ideology

See: 'Ideology' page of PoliticsProfessor.

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immaterialism

Name coined by George Berkeley (1685-1753) for his own philosophy, now more usually called subjective idealism. Berkeley's choice of the term was to emphasize his own view that matter does not exist, but in calling his opponents (Rene Descartes (1596-1650), John Locke (1632-1704), and so on) materialists he was using 'materialist' in an unusually weak...

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impossibility of a gambling system principle

Principle of the impossibility of a gambling system: Principle that a properly defined collective (see frequency theory of probability) will be random in a sense that makes it impossible to construct a system for predicting results with any greater probability than would be possible without the system. The principle was named by the German mathematician...

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improbabilism

Somewhat bizarre name occasionally given to the view that the scientist should look for the most improbable hypothesis, because it will be the easiest to refute, if false, but the most significant to accept if it survives testing. Improbabilism is associated especially with Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994). For him, the only way a hypothesis can...

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indeterminacy of reference and translation

Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000), the American mathematical logician, has claimed that when translating an alien language we construct hypotheses as to what is being said, or what items the words refer to; however, except in a few basic cases, it is impossible in principle to decide conclusively between different hypotheses which differ in ways...

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indeterminism

The contradictory of determinism; that is, the theory that at least some events have no cause. An alternative formulation is that some event could, or might, have been different even if everything in the universe up to the time of its occurrence had been the same. (Here there are problems about the interpretation of 'could'...

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indifference principle

Principle of indifference (16TH CENTURY). The fundamental principle of statistical theory that unless there is a reason for believing otherwise, each possible event should be regarded as equally likely. In this crude form, the principle leads to paradoxes because we can group the alternatives in different ways: the next flower I meet might be blue...

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indiscernibility of identicals

One part of Leibniz's law, named by Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000), the American mathematical logician. It says that if what appear to be two or more objects are in fact identical, there can be no property held by one and not by the others. This must be distinguished from the sub-stitutivity of identicals, which...

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individuation principle

The means by which separate items or individuals are distinguished. Debate over the years has centred upon the question of whether such individuation is achieved through some inherent characteristic or through some formal acceptance of a necessary 'uniqueness' belonging to every being and object.

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induction

Also known as mathematical induction or finite induction, this affirms that to prove that a certain property P holds for all natural numbers, it suffices to show that P(l) is true and that P(k + 1) is true whenever P(k) is true. Intuitively, one can think of this in terms of climbing a ladder, where...

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inductivism

Claim that inference in accordance with some version of the inductive principle is, if not logically valid, at least rationally legitimate. Objections to it include those mentioned under uniformity of nature and Goodman's paradox. Source: R Swinburne, ed., The Justification of Induction (1974)

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infinite divisibility

infinite divisibility (5TH CENTURY BC). Concept first discussed by the Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea, who argued that infinite divisibility was a logical impossibility. According to the theory, nothing is infinitely divisible as all actual entities must be finite if they are to exist at all. To be infinitely divisible, an entity would have to...

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innate ideas

Ideas or concepts that we allegedly acquire or possess prior to experience can be called a priori (literally, 'from beforehand'). Sometimes, however, it is claimed that they are innate; that is, we have them from birth. This is a stronger claim, since we might well (on a weaker view) acquire an idea independently of experiencing...

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inscriptionism

Also called inscriptivism. An inscription, in the relevant sense, is a word or phrase or sentence considered as written (or uttered) on some particular occasion. Inscriptionism is any view making significant use of such inscriptions, considered as contrasted with abstract entities such as meanings which they might be thought to represent. One might, for example,...

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instrumentalism

Mainly now the theory that scientific laws and theories are not to be interpreted as stating truths, or as claiming objective correctness, but as instruments for the prediction of statements which can be tested by observation. It is in terms of usefulness rather than correctness that the laws are judged. Instrumentalism has its greatest plausibility...

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interactionism

Theory of how body and mind are related. It can mean simply that there are two types of events, physical and mental, either of which can cause the other; for example, a pin-prick causes pain, and pain causes screaming. More usually, though, it is a philosophical theory grounding interactions of this kind in the existence...

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internal relations doctrine

Doctrine of internal relations: Doctrine that all relations are internal to their bearers, in the sense that they are essential to them and the bearers would not be what they are without them. Some relations are clearly internal in this sense (four would not be four unless it were related to two by being its...

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internalism

Any view claiming that a certain phenomenon can, or must, be analyzed in terms belonging within a certain sphere. In particular, internalism applies to certain analyses of mental notions such as belief and knowledge. An internalist analysis of believing, thinking of something, and so on, limits itself entirely to what is going on inside the...

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intuitionism

Any view holding that some of our knowledge is got by a direct process not depending on the senses and not open to rational assessment. The objects of such knowledge may include: moral principles (whether as the basis of duty or as ultimate values); particular moral duties on a particular occasion (sometimes called perceptual intuitionism);...

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isolationism

In aesthetics, the doctrine that a work of art can be appreciated independently of its cultural background, the circumstances of its production, the artist's intentions, and so on (also see: contextualism). In politics, the doctrine that a nation's (or some particular nation's) interests are best served by minimizing its interference in affairs outside its own...

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Jourdain's paradox

Jourdain's paradox (1913). Named after its discoverer, the mathematician Philip Edward Bertrand Jourdain (1879-1919). The paradox is equivalent to the sentence 'The second part of this sentence is true and the first part of this sentence is false', which contradicts itself whether the first half is true or not. However, the halves of the sentence...

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justice

Theory of the morally appropriate way of resolving social differences. There is no one theory of justice. One view is that justice involves avoiding or preventing harm to people; another that it involves treating people according to their deserts; another that people should be treated according to their needs; another that they should be treated...

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language of thought

Theory developed by Jerry A Fodor, though going back to the English philosopher William of Ockham (c. 1285-1349). It seeks to explain thinking by postulating a hypothetical language of thought (or mentalese) such that to have a belief or desire and so on is to be related in certain ways to one or more sentences...

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lawyer paradox

Lawyer paradox (5TH CENTURY BC). Ascribed to the sophist philosopher Protagoras (c.490-420 BC). A lawyer teaches law to a student without fee on condition that the student will pay him when he qualifies and wins his first case. However, when the student qualifies he takes up another profession. The lawyer sues him for his fees,...

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legitimacy

Legitimacy (20TH CENTURY). The view that systems of government either are or ought to be justified, and not simply based on coercion. There are two versions of the theory of legitimacy, one deriving from political philosophy, the other from history and political science. The first seeks for principles which would oblige people to obey government,...

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Leibniz's law

Name often given to either or both of the identity of indiscernibles and the indiscernibility of identicals; called after German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716). Leibniz himself seems to have held explicitly only the first, and to have treated it sometimes as necessary and sometimes as contingent. Source: H G Alexander, ed.. The...

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libertarianism

A claim that determinism is false for human actions, and that something more than mere indeterminism is needed. This something may take the form of claiming that there is a special entity, the 'self, which is itself immune to causal influence, or at least to compulsion, and can intervene from the outside, as it were,...

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limited independent variety principle

Principle of limited independent variety: Principle adopted by English economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) to underpin his Bayesian approach to induction by finding a justification for assigning the relevant probabilities. The principle says that, for at least that sphere we are investigating, the number of objects and qualities it contains may be infinite, but the...

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linguistic phenomenology

Name sometimes used for the detailed and careful analysis of ordinary language undertaken by linguistic philosophy. Though not unconnected with ordinary phenomenology - especially in the work of English philosopher Gilbert Ryle (1900-1976) - it was an empirical rather than an a priori study, and did not involve 'bracketing' the world. Source: G Ryle, Collected...

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linguistic philosophy

Also called ordinary language philosophy. A philosophical movement arising after World War II and lasting until the early 1960s (not to be confused with the philosophical subject called philosophy of language). A leading exponent was John Langshaw Austin (1911-1960). Partly as a reaction against the constraints of logical positivism, and influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein's (1889-1951)...

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local sign theory

Theory, originated by German philosopher Rudolph Hermann Lotze (1817-1881), that we assign a bodily location to the cause of a bodily sensation (for example, we come to treat a pain as 'in' our right hand) because of a special quality which the sensation has. This special quality we come to associate with the location of...

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logical atomism

Theory, held briefly by Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) and Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) soon after World War I, that a proper description of reality would be in terms of atomic propositions, each containing a word standing for a quality or relation and one or more words standing for objects which had the quality or relation. The objects...

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logical empiricism

Version of empiricism applying to the meanings of words or sentences, whereby they have meaning only if there are rules involving sense-experience for applying or verifying them; the rules may also constitute the meaning. (Analytic sentences - that is, roughly, those made true or false by logical considerations - are excepted.) Akin to, though some...

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logical positivism

A 20th century development of positivism which emphasizes questions of language and meaning and the role of logical relations like entailment. It originated in the Vienna Circle and continued mainly in English-speaking countries (with Holland and Scandinavia) until World War II, after which it was replaced by linguistic philosophy in Britain and various movements in...

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logical relation theory of probability

Theory due especially to English economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) in his Treatise on Probability (1921), Chapter 1. It says that the probability of a hypothesis is a logical relation (rather like logical entailment, only weaker) between a hypothesis and a body of evidence for it. Probability is thus made relative to evidence. This could...

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logicism

Theory, due to Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) and Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), that the concepts and theories of mathematics (in particular of arithmetic) can be derived from those of logic. This, if feasible, would support logical positivism and reductionism in general. Arithmetic was in fact reduced to set theory - developed by Georg Cantor (1845-1918) - as...

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manicheism

Religious system founded by Mani of Persia (c. AD 215-76) and emphasizing fundamental dualism of good and evil as independent principles, represented by spirit and body and symbolized by light and dark. Sometimes treated as a Christian heresy, Manicheism is rather a separate religion with its roots in Zoroastrianism (founded by Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) of...

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materialism

Any theory emphasizing the existence, priority, or value of matter or material objects; though the popular sense of emphasizing the value of material things is uncommon in philosophy. Usually materialists say that matter alone exists, everything else (notably minds or spirits and their ideas and experiences) being analyzable in terms of matter (a form of...

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mean doctrine

Doctrine of the mean: The doctrine of Aristotle (384-322 BC) that moral virtue can be defined as a disposition concerned with choice and lying in a mean. Any given virtue lies between two extremes, for example courage lies in a mean between rashness and cowardice. The mean, however, is not an arithmetical mean, but is...

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meaning theories

Theories of meaning (traditional): Discussed BC in both Greek philosophy and Indian linguistics. Much theoretical progress in latter half of the 20th century. An elusive concept which has been theorized from many different perspectives: meaning as use, as behaviour, as intention, as concepts, as images, as truth-conditions, and so on. It is best to disperse...

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mechanism

As a theory, rather than a device, the view that everything happens mechanically; that is, everything can ultimately be explained in terms of certain laws of nature which apply to the behavior of matter in motion, as in the popular example of clockwork. Ideally the laws should require as few terms as possible - perhaps...

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Meinong's jungle

The Austrian philosopher Alexius von Meinong (1853-1920) thought that since we can apparently refer to things that do not exist (the golden mountain, the prime number between eight and ten, and so on) such things must have some sort of being. This he called 'sosein', or 'being so'. Meinong's jungle is a nickname for the...

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meliorism

Doctrine that the universe is becoming progressively and inevitably better. This may be for religious reasons involving the working out of some grand design, or for reasons connected with late 18th-century optimism concerning inevitable progress and the perfectibility of man, inspired by scientific and technological progress and revolutionary political ideas. In theology it can also...

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mereology

Literally, 'theory of parts'. Term introduced by the Polish logician Stanislaw Lesniewski (1886-1939) to cover a theory which used the whole/part relation as a substitute for the class-membership relation to deal with the structure of classes in ways that would avoid various difficulties connected with the vicious CIRCLE PRINCIPLE and the theory of types. (The...

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metalanguage

Metalanguage (1943). Standard distinction, applied to linguistics by Danish linguist Louis Hjelmslev (1899-1965). Also discussed by Roman Jakobson (1896-1982). Language about language: metalanguage is a system of notation, descriptive terms, and so on, for an 'object language'. Metalanguage may be related to natural language - terms like 'passive', 'auxiliary' -or an abstract notation as in...

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methodological theories

Methodological theories (1943). The term 'methodological' is prefixed to terms - such as behaviorism, holism, individualism, skepticism and solipsism - to indicate that the doctrine in question is being taken to prescribe a certain method rather than to make a substantive claim about reality. This is irrespective of whether or not the prescription is based...

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modal realism

Term used for the theory, going back to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), of 'possible worlds'; used to analyze necessity and possibility and similar notions, which are known as modal notions. The actual world is regarded as merely one among an infinite set of logically possible worlds, some nearer to the actual world and some more...

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monism

Any view claiming to find unity in a certain sphere where it might not have been expected. The main forms of monism have been: a strong form, claiming that there is only one object (Eleaticism, Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)); and a weaker form, claiming that there is only one kind...

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mysticism

A type of religious attitude (appearing in many guises and within many religions from antiquity onwards) emphasizing various practices - ascetic, contemplative, or other - for obtaining knowledge of and unification with God or spiritual reality by means not open to reason and not relying on dogma. Mystics claim to achieve this knowledge or unification...

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naive realism

Theory that we see the world as common sense supposes we do; that is, directly and without recourse to special intermediate 'sensations', 'sense-data', 'images' and so on which some other views involve {see also REPRESENTATIONALISM). We need not, however, always be free from error, any more than common sense thinks we are. Properly speaking, naive...

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naming theories of meaning

Also called denotative or referential theories. Theories which equate the meaning of a word with an object it stands for (like the 'fido'-fido theory), or else with the word's relation to such an object. Proper names form the primary class, but general words can stand for abstract objects ('dog' for doghood, 'red' for the color...

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nativism

Any view claiming that something is innate, such as ideas or perceptual faculties. Also see: innate ideas

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naturalism

Any view holding that things in general, or things in some sphere under investigation, are all of one kind (as opposed to being of radically different kinds), and are amenable to study by scientific methods, without appeal to supernatural intervention or special kinds of intuition. In art or literature, any of a variety of views...

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naturalized epistemology

A notion introduced explicitly by Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000) though with roots going back to David Hume (1711-1776). The idea is that since it is impossible to achieve a satisfactory justification for our claims to knowledge we should cease to look for one, and construct a scientific account -in purely 'natural' terms and without...

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necessitarianism

Term occasionally used for the view that everything that happens is necessitated. The view that every event has a cause is the same, unless causation is distinguished from necessitation. Also see: determinism Source: R R K Sorabji, Necessity, Cause and Blame (1980), chapter 2

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negation performative theory

Performative (or speech act) theory of negation: Theory that analyzes negation in terms of a special kind of linguistic activity, negating or denying; so that to say, for example, 'It's not raining' may indeed be (as anyone would agree in straightforward cases) to deny that it is raining, but is also to utter a sentence...

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negative utilitarianism

Version of utilitarianism which replaces the maximization of good by the minimization of evil. Supporters of the theory, who include Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994), say that by aiming at removing evils rather than achieving positive goods we shall avoid the disadvantages of utopianism usually incurred by those who try to plan for a perfect world....

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neo-Platonism

Movement initiated by Plotinus (AD 205-70) and carried forward by various philosophers of the next three centuries, having repercussions in the Renaissance especially among the Cambridge Platonists of the 17th century and, later, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831). Neo-Platonism claimed to interpret Plato (c.427-c.347 BC), and to reconcile Aristotle (384-322 BC) with Plato, though modern...

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neo-Pythagoreanism

A revival in the 1st century BC and the next century or two of various features traditionally associated with the followers of Pythagoras (fl.6th century BC); see Pythagoreanism. Though of some minor importance as an influence on neo-Platonism, the movement largely occupied itself with arithmetic and arithmology (attributing metaphysical and mystical properties to numbers), developing...

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neutral monism

Theory associated primarily with William James (1842-1910), who named it, and Bertrand Russell (1872-1970); though it has affinities to the views of Ernst Mach (1838-1916), Henri Bergson (1859-1941) and others. Neutral monism says that mind and matter can both be reduced to a single type of thing, sometimes called 'neutral stuff'. This took the form...

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Nicod's criterion

A criterion offered by French philosopher Jean Nicod (1893-1924) for when one proposition confirms another. A hypothesis of the form 'All A are B' is confirmed by objects that are A and B, and discontinued by objects that are A and not B, objects that are not A being irrelevant. An advantage of this last...

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nihilism

Term invented or popularized by Russian novelist Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev (1818-1883) in his novel Fathers and Sons (1861) for the rejection of all traditional values. Literally meaning 'nothingism', the term can be applied to views saying that all knowledge is impossible, that all alleged metaphysical truths or values are illusory, or that ethical values cannot...

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no-ownership theory of the mind

Theory that states of consciousness exist in their own right and are not owned by some substantive entity such as a mind, a person, or even a body (or brain). The theory fits with a bundle theory of the self. Source: P F Strawson, Individuals (1959), ch. 3; critical

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nominalism

Any view which analyzes a given subject-matter in terms of words or language, derived from the Latin 'nomen' meaning 'name', 'term' or 'word'. A nominalist view of universals (see Platonism) says they are neither substantive realities (realism) nor mental concepts (conceptualism). Rather, they are simply words which we apply to a group of objects; the...

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non-cognitivism

Theory that there is no such thing as knowledge of truths in a certain sphere because there are no such truths to be known. The sphere normally intended by the term is ethics, and non-cognitivists adopt a speech act theory when analyzing what appear to be moral or value statements, emotivism and prescriptivism are forms...

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objective idealism

Associated with Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) and his followers, notably in England Francis Herbert Bradley (1846-1924). Also see: coherence-theory-of-truth.php. This is a form of idealism whereby reality, though mental or spiritual, does not depend on the human mind in particular but comprises a single spiritual entity: the absolute (hence the name 'absolute idealism' also...

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objectivism

Any theory saying of a given subject-matter that it contains objects existing independently of human beliefs or attitudes, or that there are similarly independent truths in the area, or that there are methods of studying the area and arriving at truths within it which are not arbitrary and do not depend on the approach adopted...

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objectivism (2) (Ayn Rand)

Ayn Rand named her philosophy "Objectivism" and described it as a philosophy for living on earth. Objectivism is an integrated system of thought that defines the abstract principles by which a man must think and act if he is to live the life proper to man. Ayn Rand first portrayed her philosophy in the form...

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Occasionalism

The idea is attributed to Louis de la Forge (1632-1666) in his Treatise on the Spirit of Man (1665), but the chief occasionalist was Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715). Also see: psychophysical-parallelism.php and pre-established harmony. Occasionalism says that there is only one true cause, God, who causes what seem to be effects to appear on the occasions...

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Ockham's razor

See: Principle of Parsimony.

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one over many principle

Principle which expresses the motivation underlying Plato's theory of forms and similar doctrines. Where there are a number of objects of the same kind, or sharing a single property, it seems that there must be a single something which is this kind or property, and which therefore gets treated as an abstract non-material substance. Strictly,...

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ontology

Generally, either the study of being, or a particular theory of what there is (as in 'Smith's ontology contains classes but not propositions', meaning that Smith believes there are such things as classes but not such things as propositions). More specifically, part of the logical system underpinning the mereology of Polish logician Stanislaw Lesniewski (1886-1939)....

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operationalism

Operationalism / operationism: Theory due to American physicist Percy Williams Bridgman (1882-1961) and saying that scientific concepts must be defined in terms of the operations by which they are measured or applied. The theory is akin to the verifiability principle in its strongest form, identifying meaning with method of verification; but applies to concepts rather...

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organic unities principle

Principle that a whole may have a value which is different from, and not predictable on the basis of, the values of its parts. The attractiveness, for example, of a picture cannot normally be predicted from that of each color-patch taken separately. The principle was made much of by George Edward Moore (1873-1958), who distinguished...

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organicism

A version of (or perhaps little more than an alternative name for) holism, emphasizing the analogy with living organisms, whose parts only are what they are because of, and can only be understood in terms of, their contributions to the whole. Also see: organic unities

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origins of life

The theory or theories that seek to explain how biomolecules, subcellular structures, and ultimately living cells came into existence. Many myths, stories and hypotheses have been proposed. Some are still under investigation, while others remain contested or persist as statements of religious faith. Also see: DYNAMIC STATE THEORY, 'LITTLE BAGS' THEORY OF EVOLUTION, MINERAL THEORY,...

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orphism

Name for a complex strand in Ancient Greek religious thought, contrasting with the more familiar strand of the Olympian deities (Zeus, Apollo, and so on). A body of religious writings from the 7th and succeeding centuries BC was attributed to the mythical singer Orpheus and his followers. In Classical times, Orphic ideas were connected with...

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panpsychism

Literally, 'all-soulism'. The view that matter is intrinsically alive, or is made up from basic entities which are so. Various forms of such a view are found in the philosophies of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), and John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart (1866-1925) among others. Also see: hylozoism

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pantheism

Literally, 'all-godism'. The view that God and the universe are identical; or that there is no transcendent God outside the universe who created it, but the universe itself is divine. Among philosophers, Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677) is a prominent exponent of such a view, and it appears also in Stoicism. The term itself was coined...

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paraconsistency

View that there are important paraconsistent logical theories; that is theories that do not allow (as classical logic does: see relevance logics) that a contradiction has every proposition among its logical consequences. A system which contains contradictory proposition is inconsistent. But if it does not also contain every proposition (as it would for classical logic)...

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paradigmatism

View that where one or more objects are of a certain kind or have a certain property, this is to be explained by postulating a non-material abstract entity to serve as a paradigm of which they are copies; in other words, universals (see Platonism) are to be regarded as (or replaced by) paradigms. The term...

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parsimony principle

Principle of parsimony: also called Ockham's Razor. Principle that one should not multiply entities unnecessarily, or make further assumptions than are needed, and in general that one should pursue the simplest hypothesis. Adoption of this principle, though seemingly obvious, leads to problems about the role of simplicity in science, especially when we are choosing between...

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particularism

The view that only particulars exist, and more specifically that the properties and relations of particulars are themselves particulars, not universals (see Platonism). A particular has a certain unity in space and time. It cannot appear as a whole at separated places simultaneously (though its parts may be scattered, as when an object is dismantled...

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Pascal's wager

Argument for adopting a divinely favoured way of life -named after French philosopher, mathematician, physicist and pious gambler Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) who stated it in his Pensees (ยง233) - but apparently stemming from Islam. One statement of it (not Pascal's) is this. Let the utility of a policy be the gain it promises multiplied by...

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perfection principle

Principle of perfection: also called the principle of the best. Principle of German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds. Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) argued that Leibniz did not fully distinguish this principle from that of sufficient reason. Source: B Russell, A Critical Exposition of...

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performative (or ditto) theory of truth

Theory developed by English philosopher Peter Frederick Strawson (1919- ) in and after 1949 from Frank Ramsey's redundancy theory of truth, and in opposition to the correspondence theory. To call something true is to perform the act of agreeing with it, endorsing it, appraising it and so on. Like the emotive theory of truth this...

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personalism

The view that persons, divine or human, play the primary role in the structure of the universe. Personalism exists in a wide variety of forms, and is closely related to idealism (the term personal idealism is often used) or to theism. What they have in common is that the notion of a person is treated...

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perspective realism

Form of realism holding that the nature of an object depends on its relations to other objects. For example, a penny not only looks round from one perspective and elliptical from another but is round with respect to one and elliptical with respect to the other, no perspective having any special privilege. This enables us...

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perspectivism

Theory associated especially with Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900), Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955), who named it, Edward Sapir (1884-1939), BENJAMIN LEE WHORF (1897-1941), Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000) and Thomas Samuel Kuhn (1922-1996). Perspectivism says that there can be radically different and incommensurable conceptual schemes (ultimate ways of looking at the world) or perspectives, one...

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phenomenalism

Literally, 'appearanceism'. Any theory which explains a given subject-matter in terms of appearances, without needing to postulate anything else (see also reductionism), much as facts about the average man are reduced to facts about ordinary men. The most notable 19th century phenomenalist was John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). Phenomenalists in the 20th century (for example, Alfred...

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phenomenology

Literally, 'the description or study of appearances'. Any detailed study of a phenomenon can be called a phenomenology, but the theory normally so called is associated with Franz Brentano (1838-1917) and (especially) Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) and their followers, including several existentialists. 'Phenomena' for Husserl were the objects of experience or attitudes (in the sense in...

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physicalism

Term variously used. For Rudolf Carnap (1891-1970), a member of the Vienna circle, it said that all scientific statements could be reduced to statements about ordinary physical objects (or else spatiotemporal points), such sentences having to be publically verifiable. For others it has meant that any meaningful statement can be translated into the language of...

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picture theory of meaning

Theory which treats declarative sentences (as against commands and so on) as pictures of facts (if true) or possible facts (otherwise). A notable example of the theory is Tractates (1921) by Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951). Each element in the sentence (bar certain connectives and so on) stands for something, be it an object or a quality...

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Plato's theory of forms (or ideas)

Theory developed by Plato (c.427-c.347 BC) in his middle-period dialogues (especially Phaedo, Symposium, Republic) and criticized by himself in his Parmenides (see third man argument). The language of the theory occurs in his earlier dialogues, but its interpretation is disputed, as is his reaction in later dialogues to the Parmenides criticisms: did he modify the...

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Platonism

Strictly, the philosophy of Plato (c.427-c.347 BC), but the word is often applied to any view which treats a given subject-matter as involving substantial, though abstract, entities (irrespective of Plato's own view on the topic in question). Such subject-matters have included numbers, propositions, universals (roughly, things named by words ending in '-hood', '-ness', '-ty'). Platonism...

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plenitude principle

Principle of plenitude: Principle that if the universe is to be as perfect as possible it must be as full as possible, in the sense that it contains as many kinds of things as it possibly could contain. The world of nature must be as rich as possible. This is connected with the idea, used...

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plurality of causes

Principle saying that, though the same cause must have the same effect each time, the same effect need not have the same cause each time. (Of course the cause on one occasion may be complex and involve many contributory factors; but could these be replaced by different factors when the effect next occurs?) The principle...

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positivism

A movement in the general tradition of empiricism and pioneered specifically by the French writer Auguste Comte (1798-1857), though under the influence of the social reformer Claude Henri, Compte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825), whom he served as secretary. The main features of positivism were an insistence on a scientific approach to the human, as well as...

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pragmatic (or pragmatist) theory of truth

American scientist and philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) defined truth as 'the opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate' (see Buchler). His disciple William James (1842-1910) held that truth was indeed agreement with reality, but that what counted as 'agreeing with reality' was what worked, in the sense of...

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pragmatism

Theory, originally developed by American scientist and philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), that the meanings of concepts and propositions lay in their possible effects on our experiences and practices. He also originated the pragmatic theory of truth. Peirce was thinking mainly of scientific or intellectual concepts, and called his own view pragmaticism when his follower...

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pre-established harmony doctrine

Doctrine of pre-established harmony: Doctrine primarily associated with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) that there is no causation in the world but that each event arises when it does because it was pre-programmed to do so by God when the universe began. The doctrine is often illustrated by the image of the two clocks -attributed to...

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preference utilitarianism

Version of utilitarianism which contrasts with both hedonistic utilitarianism and ideal utilitarianism by specifying the end to be pursued in terms neither of pleasure nor of other specific values, but in terms of maximizing the satisfaction of desires or preferences, whatever their objects. This answers at least some of the objections to the rival versions...

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prescriptivism

Like emotivism, which it grew naturally out of in the 1950s, a form of speech act theory which analyzes value judgments and especially moral judgments, this time in terms of prescriptions. When I tell you that lying is wrong I am telling you not to lie, though I am also committing myself not to lie,...

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private language argument

Private language argument (1953): Debate initiated by the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) in his posthumous Philosophical Investigations. This debate concerns the question of whether there could possibly exist a private language; that is, a language which is 'necessarily unteachable' because the meanings of words known by an individual are based on private and undemonstrable...

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probabilism

Name for various theories, including: first, the view that certainty is unattainable and that we should therefore seek and be satisfied with mere probabilities (a mild form of skepticism); secondly, the view that science can give positive probabilities to hypotheses and need not content itself with falsificationism. These two views can be thought of as...

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process philosophy

Any of a variety of theories emphasizing that the basic reality in the universe is not objects or substances but processes. Objects are mere temporary bodies in the general flux, and are not sharply separated from one another; and real time is continuous and not an accretion of instantaneous moments. Process philosophy can be seen...

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propensity theory of probability

Theory mainly associated with Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994), though it goes back to Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914). Popper introduces it to replace the frequency theory of probability in view of an objection he brings to that. Probabilities are propensities, not of objects under study but of the experimental arrangements which we keep constant during repeated...

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psychologism

The habit of treating philosophical or theoretical problems as though they were psychological ones, to be solved by methods such as introspection. Properly speaking it is only a theory when engaged in deliberately rather than, as more often, unconsciously or through confusion, though the distinction is not sharp. Psychologism is common in the early empiricists...

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psychophysical parallelism

Doctrine that mental and physical events are of entirely different kinds, so that while mental events can cause other mental events and physical events can cause other physical events they cannot cause each other but occur in parallel series. If I touch a hot stove, feel a pain, withdraw my hand, and decide to be...

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Pyrrhonism

An extreme form of skepticism, associated with Pyrrho of Elis (c.365-275 BC) and developed by his followers, notably Aenesidemus (1st century BC) and Sextus Empiricus (2nd century AD). Pyrrhonism's distinguishing feature lay in its application of scepticism to itself: not only could we not know anything, but we could not even know that we could...

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Pythagoreanism

Ideas held over the next two centuries by followers of Pythagoras of Samos (6th century BC). Pythagoras is said to have founded a semi-religious brotherhood which developed doctrines about reincarnation and purification. He is also credited with noticing that simple harmonies (octave, fifth and so on) are associated with simple arithmetical ratios. He or his...

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radical empiricism

Name given by American William James (1842-1910) to his own pragmatist philosophy. Also see: neutral monism Source: W James, Essays in Radical Empiricism (1912)

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radical interpretation

A notion similar to that of Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000) (indeterminacy of translation), thought of primarily in connection with Donald Davidson (1930-2003) and his truth-conditional theory of meaning (see convention t). To construct axioms suitable for deriving a theory of meaning for an alien language, we must interpret the utterances of its speakers. It...

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ramified theory of types

For the simple theory, which Frank Plumpton Ramsey (1903-1930) separated out from the ramified theory, properties of objects are of type one, properties of type one properties are of type two, and so on. The ramified theory further classifies properties of each type into orders. A first-order type n+1 property is a property of things...

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range theories of probability

Range theories of probability (19TH CENTURY). Developed by French mathematician Laplace (1749-1827) Certain theories analyzing probability in terms of ranges of alternatives. William Calvert Kneale (1906-1990) introduces such a theory to deal with paradoxes that face the classical theory of probability when the relevant range of alternatives is infinite, and his theory consists basically of...

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rationalism

Any theory emphasizing reason or intuition (usually in contrast to the senses, or, in ethics, to feelings and emotions), whether as the basis for acquiring knowledge, or as the basis for justifying moral judgments. In these uses it contrasts with empiricism, and has similar varieties. The a priori is to rationalism what the a posteriori...

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real self

Theory of people's wants and wills found in idealism. People have a real self or 'real will' which is what they would want if they reflected in a fully rational way on their interests. It will frequently differ from their expressed will, or what they say and believe that they want. Some other person or...

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realism

Often associated with the work of Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid (1710-1796), and German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Usually used in either of two ways: (1) the view that abstract concepts have a real existence and can be studied empirically; (2) the doctrine that the physical world has a reality separate from that of the mind....

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reducibility axiom

Axiom of reducibility: Axiom introduced by English philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) in connection with the ramified theory of types. It says that any higher-order property or proposition can be reduced to an equivalent first-order one. The ramified theory caused difficulties for defining real numbers (using Dedekind sections) and for the process known as...

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reductionism (1)

Reductionism (19TH CENTURY). Also called mechanism, or mechanistic philosophy. Associated with Carl Ludwig (1816-1895), Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894), Ernst von Briicke (1819-1892) and Emil du Bois-Reymond (1818-1896). The theory that life can be understood entirely in terms of the laws of physics and chemistry. Modern bioscience approaches biology from this perspective. Compare with: vitalism

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reductionism (2)

Also called reductivism. The reducing of certain kinds of entities, or of theories, or even of whole sciences, to other, more basic, ones; entities that are reduced may be replaced ('Father Christmas is really Daddy') or simply explained ('Water is really H2O'). Phenomenalism, for instance, reduces material objects, or sentences about them, to experiences, or...

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redundancy theory of truth

Also called the no-truth theory. Influenced by the difficulties in formulating a correspondence theory of truth, Frank Plumpton Ramsey (1903-1930) proposed in 1927 that to call a proposition true is to do no more than assert the proposition. One objection is that this seems too thin a theory to cover all our uses of the...

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regularity theory of causation

Theory - primarily associated with, and originated by, David Hume (1711-1776) - which analyzes causation in terms of nothing but regular sequence (together, in Hume's case, with priority in time and contiguity in time and, where relevant, space). The basic form of the theory says that one event causes another if it is followed by...

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relativism

Strictly, any doctrine that something exists, has a property, or obtains, relative to something else. Two forms of relativism have been common, cognitive and moral; both of them are different from subjectivism, though some versions are also subjectivist. Cognitive relativism may say that all beliefs are true, or true for their holders (the view Plato...

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relevance logics

Logical systems based on the principle that logical consequence, or entailment, only holds between propositions which are relevant to each other. They were developed, notably by Alan Ross Anderson and Nuel D Belnap (1920- ), as a reaction to the claim of Clarence Irving Lewis and Cooper H. Langford (in Symbolic Logic (1932), chapter 8)...

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relevant alternatives theory

Theory of relevant alternatives: Theory used in defending fallibilism against the charge that it leads to skepticism. Where P and Q are propositions, P counts for this purpose as an alternative to Q if it is inconsistent with Q, and counts as a relevant alternative if to know that Q we must also know that...

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reliabilism

Theory that a belief can be called justified if it is formed by a process that is reliable, that is normally produces true beliefs. This is an externalist account of justification if it is not insisted that the believer be aware of the method's reliability. This appeal to reliability may also contribute to an analysis...

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representationalism

Also called representativism or representative theories of perception, memory, thinking, and so on. Any theory holding that these activities (perception is usually meant) involve the existence of mental objects (such as images or 'sense-data') which facilitate the activity by representing the external object. We may be said to perceive the representative instead of perceiving the...

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resemblance theories of universals

Some nominalists dispense with substantive universals (see Platonism) in treating the one over many principle by saying that what unites a group of objects of the same kind is that they resemble one of their number taken as a standard. Objections to this are that resemblance itself seems to be an eliminable liversal, and so...

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retributivism

Theory of punishment whereby all or part of the purpose of punishment is the infliction of pain or disadvantage on an offender which is in some sense commensurate with his offence and which is inflicted independently of reform or deterrence. For a weak theory the commensurate amount need not be inflicted but may be, and...

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rule utilitarianism

Also called restricted or indirect utilitarianism. Version of utilitarianism which says (in its main formulation) that our duty is not to aim for that act which will produce in fact the best overall consequences (because of the impossibility or impracticability of predicting these) but to follow that rule which would have the best consequences if...

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semantic atomism

Theory that the meaning of a phrase or sentence can be analyzed into, and can be constructed out of, the meanings of its constitute words. These meanings can be accounted for independently, and function as atoms of meaning. Similarly, the theory will analyze the meaning of complex sentences in terms of the meanings of their...

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semantics

Semantics (EARLY 20TH CENTURY). Numerous contributors from both disciplines. The study of meaning in natural language. 'Meaning' is an elusive concept which modern linguists tackle by dispersing into other fundamental ideas such as IMPLICATURE, MEANING-NN, sense and reference, VALUE. Also see: theories of meaning, LEXICAL SEMANTICS, STRUCTURAL SEMANTICS, truth-conditional semantics Source: J Lyons, Semantics (Cambridge,

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sensationalism

Also called sensationism, it is associated with Ernst Mach (1838-1916) and various other empiricists of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. Either the theory that only sensations exist in what appears to be the material world, everything else being constructed by the methods of phenomenalism; or the theory that all our knowledge must start...

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sense and reference

Sense and reference (1892). Distinction between Sinn and Bedeutung made by the German mathematician Gottlob Frege (1848-1925). The meaning of an expression (sense) is a property of language, and is not to be equated with the object or concept the expression may be used to refer to: 'the morning star' and 'the evening star' have...

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simple theory of types

Theory developed by Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) to deal with paradoxes like his paradox of classes: is the class of all classes that are not members of themselves a member of itself? If yes, no; if no, yes. Russell said there is no such class. Classes (and also properties) cannot all be lumped together, but form...

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situationism

Ethical doctrine that our moral duty cannot be rigorously subjected to general rules, but must take account of each situation as it arises. Unlike anti-nomianism it does not reject such rules altogether, but insists on flexibility in applying them. Unlike casuistry it does not insist on breaching rules only if some other rule can be...

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skepticism

Literally, the habit of being given to enquiry. The skeptic does not take things for granted. He may deny the existence of God, other minds than his own, a world of material objects behind what is immediately given to our senses, anything other than himself and his experiences (also see: solipsism), even his own mind...

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solipsism

Literally, 'only-oneselfism'. An extreme form of skepticism, saying that nothing exists beyond oneself and one's immediate experiences. Seldom held deliberately, it is more likely to be fallen into by those who find themselves in the egocentric predicament, perhaps through holding solipsism as a methodological theory; that in enquiring into a certain area it is best,...

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speciation theory

Theory of speciation (18TH CENTURY). Also called geographic speciation, this theory is most often associated with Ernst Mayr (1904- ), an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University (although many other biologists have theorized on the subject). It asserts that new species arise among sexually reproducing organisms because geographic isolation enables a small subgroup to diverge genetically...

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species essentialism

Theory of speciation (C.400 BC). Also called the natural state model of species, this was based on the ideas of Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC), and applied by Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) and others in their search for the perfect 'type specimen' for each species. It is the concept that all members of a...

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species theory

Theory of species (18TH CENTURY). (Also referred to as the biological species concept, the isolation species concept, the species concept, and the species taxa.) Most often associated with Ernst Mayr (1904- ), an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University (but many other biologists have theorized on the subject before and since). This is the idea that...

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speciesism

Speciesism (1970S). A term attributed to British psychologist Richard Ryder, author of Victims of Science (1975), it was popularized by Australian philosopher Peter Singer in Animal Liberation (1975). Speciesism is the doctrine that certain species are innately superior to others; and is used especially to describe the exploitation of lower species by humans. Also see:...

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specious present

An idea to deal with the problem that we can apparently only be aware of what is present, and what is present must be momentary (otherwise it would include the future or past and not be all present), yet anything real must exist for at least some time: so how can we be aware of...

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speech act theory

Speech act theory (1930S-1960S). Also 'illocutionary act theory'. Originally formulated by the British philosopher John Langshaw Austin (1911-1960), and developed by the American JOHN ROGERS SEARLE (1932- ), it is a branch of PRAGMATICS. When saying something, one is simultaneously doing something. An 'utterance act' is performed in voicing words and sentences; a 'propositional act'...

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Stoicism

Philosophy named from the Stoa, or portico, in Athens where its adherents gathered. It was founded by Zeno of Citium (c.336-c.264 BC) - different from Zeno the Elea - but considerably developed by his successors, notably: Chrysippus (c.280-c.206 BC), Posidonius (C.135-C.51 BC), Seneca 'the Younger' (c.4 BC-AD 65), Epictetus (C. AD 50-138). The emperor Marcus...

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subjective idealism

Form of idealism represented primarily by George Berkeley (1685-1753), though his own name for it was immaterialism. Berkeley distinguished minds or spirits (including both God and finite spirits like us), which are active, from ideas which are their contents and are passive. To be is to perceive, in the case of spirits, or to be...

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subjectivism

Any theory treating a given subject matter as dependent on human beliefs and attitudes, whether those of an individual, a social group, or humanity generally. A subjectivist theory of ethics, for example, might analyze an utterance like 'Abortion is wrong' as meaning that the speaker, or his society, or people in general, disapproves of abortion;...

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subjectivist theories of probability

Theories which analyze probability in terms of beliefs or attitudes rather than anything in the world itself. For one theory, associated mainly with Bruno De Finetti (1906-1985), the degree of probability of something is the degree of the speaker's belief, measured by his betting behavior, but subject to the constraint that his bets must be...

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sufficient reason principle

Principle of sufficient reason: Principle that there must be a sufficient reason - causal or otherwise - for why whatever exists or occurs does so, and does so in the place, time and manner that it does. The principle goes back to at least the early 5th century BC - being used by Parmenides (see...

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tacit knowledge

Primarily an idea developed by the Hungarian social philosopher Michael Polanyi (1891-1976). Starting from such facts as our ability to recognize faces without knowing how we do so, and to be trained in a psychological laboratory to respond to certain perceived stimuli without knowing just what it is we are responding to, Polanyi claims that...

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teleology

In general, belief in or appeal to explanation in terms of ends or purposes. As an ethical doctrine teleology claims that our duties are specifiable in terms of the production of some value. Teleology is perhaps rather wider than consequentialism as it includes such views as that an act is our duty if doing it...

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theism

The religious belief that God is the creator of and supreme authority in the universe. In most major religions God is a beneficent being (or beings) with a particular sympathy for mankind, which owes him an allegiance of obedience and worship. Philosophical objections to the idea include: the conflict inherent between an omnipotent God and...

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third man argument

One of a group of arguments presented by Plato (c.427-c.347 BC) in his dialogue Parmenides (p.131e-3a) in apparent criticism of Plato's theory of forms. Briefly, the argument might be put as follows. If a man is made to be what he is by participating in a Platonic Form (though Greek did not distinguish small and...

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three laws of thought

Traditional name for the laws of identity, contradiction and excluded middle, regarded as being particularly basic to thinking. The three laws are no longer singled out in quite this way. The law of excluded middle is subject to dispute (and also to a variant form, the law of bivalence), and even the law of contradiction...

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trace theory of memory

Theory that if we are correctly said to remember some fact or event (as against relearning it, guessing it, and so on) there must be some physiologically identifiable trace in the brain which carried the information in question right through from the time when we first learnt it. The trace need not be a physical...

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transcendental idealism

Form of idealism espoused by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), who called himself a transcendental idealist but an empirical realist. He meant, roughly, that what we experience can only be representations, not things in themselves, of which we can know nothing except that they must exist in order to ground the representations. The idealism is 'transcendental' because...

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trialism

Term introduced by John Cottingham for an alternative to the usual interpretation of Rene Descartes (1596-1650) as a dualist of mind of body for whom all phenomena involving thought or consciousness belong to mind and all those involving extension belong to body. The trialist interpretation keeps the two substances of mind and body, but introduces...

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Tristram Shandy paradox

Tristram Shandy paradox (1759). Named after a fictional character created by English author Lawrence Sterne (1713-1768). Shandy finds that in two years of writing he has covered two days of his autobiography and doubts whether he will ever complete the work. However, even at that poor rate he could finish the work provided that he...

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tropisms theory

Theory of tropisms (C. 1912). Proposed by Jacques Loeb (1859-1924), a physiologist and physician who was associated with the Rockefeller Institute in New York. The concept that all the activities of animals and humans are determined by tropisms, just as plant movements are determined by tropisms. Loeb believed that matters of the mind and inner...

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truth conditional semantics

Truth conditional semantics (1967). A variant of the correspondence theory, and akin to the redundancy theory. It was developed by the Polish logician Alfred Tarski (1902-1983), and applied to language by British philosopher Donald Davidson. (Also see: MONTAGUE GRAMMAR.) Semantic theory for sentences rather than words (also see: LEXICAL SEMANTICS). We know the meaning of...

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truth theory

Theory of truth (1935). Semantic concept formalized by the Polish-American mathematician and logician Alfred Tarski (1902-1983), although other thinkers had previously discussed the idea. Truth theory concerns the truth-values of sentence structures in various formal logical languages. Tarski suggested a table by which these values could be determined (although he was less sure about whether...

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truth-conditional semantics

See: semantics, truth-conditional.

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uniformity of nature principle

Principle of the uniformity of nature: A claim that may be offered as a grounding for the INDUCTIVE PRINCIPLE, though it is not always distinguished from the principle itself. It may be crudely formulated as 'Nature is uniform', or 'The future will resemble the past', or - in a more refined version like that given...

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universalism

Term used -usually in its adjectival forms: universalist(ic) - as a contrast term to egoism and altruism when referring to utilitarianism and similar topics. It is summed up in the slogan of Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), 'Everyone to count for one and no-one for more than one'.

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universalizability

A complex and controversial notion which has been used both to distinguish the moral from the non-moral and to distinguish the moral from the immoral - two jobs which tend to get in each other's way. 'What if everyone did that?' is often a relevant question in moral contexts; but 'did what exactly?'. The same...

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use theories of meaning

Theories springing mainly from Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), that the meaning of a word or sentence is to be sought in its use, not in its correspondence to some entity (as naming and correspondence theories of meaning in general imply). The use in question normally means actual usage, but may also refer to an alleged correct...

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utilitarianism

Any of a variety of views all of which are consequentialist or teleological, being distinguished from other forms of consequentialism (if any) by saying that the consequence to be pursued is the maximization of good. This maximization may refer to the greatest total good or the greatest average good, but the slogan 'greatest good of...

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utopianism

Label usually applied in a hostile sense to those who advocate - or are wildly optimistic in thinking they can achieve - a state of affairs perfect in some or all respects. One charge is that the excessive and unrealistic pursuit of some good can lead to gross neglect of other goods and even of...

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verifiability (or verification) principle

Principle that to be meaningful a sentence or proposition must be either verifiable by means of the five senses or a tautology of logic. The verifiability might be required in practice or (more usually) in principle, and might need to be conclusive (strong verifiability) or could be merely partial (weak verifiability). Mathematical sentences are treated...

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vicious circle principle

Principle introduced by Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) as a basis for the ramified theory of types. It reads: 'Whatever involves all of a collection must not be one of that collection'; or 'If, provided a certain collection had a total, it would have members only definable in terms of that total, then the said collection has...

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Vienna circle

Properly Der Wiener Kreis, a group of philosophers working in Vienna in the 1920s who originated logical positivism. Its leading members included: Moritz Schlick (1882-1936), Rudolf Carnap (1891-1970), Otto Neurath (1882-1945), Herbert Feigl (1902-1988), Kurt Godel (1906-1978), Friedrich Waismann (1896-1959); with Carl Gustav Hempel (1905-1997) and Hans Reichenbach (1891-1953) as associates in Berlin and Alfred...

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vitalism

Vitalism (17TH-19TH CENTURIES). Any of various views insisting, in contrast to mechanism, that life involves a special principle and cannot be explained in terms of physical and chemical properties alone. The theory has its origins in the classification of compounds in 1675 by the French chemist Nicolas Lemery (1645-1715). He considered them as animal, vegetable...

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voluntarism

Any of a number of doctrines emphasizing the existence, nature, or role of the will; whether a cosmic will, as with Artur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), or (more commonly, and also including Schopenhauer) the human will. Such doctrines may emphasize the role of the will in our thinking or acquisition of knowledge, or the reality of free...

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