Volume 21 (2021)

    Fictions of Systematicity: Maimon's Quest for a Scientific Method in Philosophy

    Jelscha Schmid

    December 2021, vol. 21, no. 36, pp. 1-21

    This paper argues that Maimon’s metaphilosophy presents a distinctive view on what the scientific role and method of philosophy should consist in: in the production of fictions of systematicity. It shows how Maimon’s philosophy of science links to metaphilosophical views, and ultimately leads him to adopt the so-called “method of fictions” to transform philosophy into a proper science. By connecting his remarks on scientific fictions and their methodological role with Kant’s doctrine of regulative ideas and the latter’s conception of systematicity, the paper develops a systematic account of the method of fictions, its employment in theoretical philosophy and the scientific image resulting from this view.

    Pronouns as Demonstratives

    Kyle Blumberg

    December 2021, vol. 21, no. 35, pp. 1-24

    In this paper, I outline a novel approach to the semantics of natural language pronouns. On this account, which I call 'demonstrativism', pronouns are semantically equivalent to demonstratives. I begin by presenting some contrasts that provide support for demonstrativism. Then I try to explain these contrasts by developing a particular demonstrativist proposal. I build on the "hidden argument" theory of demonstratives. On this theory, demonstratives are semantically similar to definite descriptions, with one important difference: demonstratives take two arguments, rather than one. Using these ideas, I propose that pronouns also take two (covert) arguments, and that the second argument needs to be sufficiently salient to members of the conversation in order for the use of a pronoun to be felicitous. As for the first argument, I maintain that its content is constrained by the process of noun-phrase deletion. Taken together, I argue that these constraints provide us with a satisfying account of the uses to which pronouns are put.

    Carnap, Knowledge of Other Minds, and Physicalism

    Thomas Uebel

    December 2021, vol. 21, no. 34, pp. 1-27

    The development of Carnap’s views on knowledge of other minds from 1928 to about 1935 (with a brief envoy on later developments) is tracked here in order to clear up a widespread misunderstanding. Early on and well into the 30s their failure is undeniable but it has been badly misdiagnosed. I argue that Carnap was not only not a logical behaviorist but also (bracketing his mistaken analysis of disposition statements) aimed for a largely non-reductive approach to mental state ascriptions in principle already in Scheinprobleme. The reason for the failure of his anti-reductionist ambition and what it took to overcome it are then investigated in some detail. In the process, it will be shown, Carnap anticipated, in a limited fashion, certain moves familiar from the Wittgensteinian tradition, albeit with the difference that he attempted to naturalize mind talk.

    Probability for Epistemic Modalities

    Simon Goldstein and Paolo Santorio

    December 2021, vol. 21, no. 33, pp. 1-37

    This paper develops an information-sensitive theory of the semantics and probability of conditionals and statements involving epistemic modals. The theory validates a number of principles linking probability and modality, including the principle that the probability of a conditional If A, then C equals the probability of C, updated with A. The theory avoids so-called triviality results, which are standardly taken to show that principles of this sort cannot be validated. To achieve this, we deny that rational agents update their credences via conditionalization. We offer a new rule of update, Hyperconditionalization, which agrees with Conditionalization whenever nonmodal statements are at stake but differs for modal and conditional sentences.

    Camus and Sartre on the Absurd

    Hannah H. Kim

    December 2021, vol. 21, no. 32, pp. 1-12

    In this paper, I highlight the philosophical differences between Camus’s and Sartre’s notions of the absurd. “The absurd” is a technical term for both philosophers, and they mean different things by it. The Camusian absurd is a mismatch between theoretical reasoning and practical reasoning. The Sartrean absurd, in contrast, is our theoretical inability to explain contingency or existence. For Sartre, there is only relative, local absurdity; for Camus, the absurd is universal and absolute. I show how their different understandings of the absurd led to Sartre’s misreading of The Stranger; he misses its main mechanism for generating the feeling of the absurd because he reads the novel through his own conception. In order to draw out their philosophical differences, I will provide a reading of the novel that contrasts with Sartre’s.

    No Unity, No Problem: Madhyamaka Metaphysical Indefinitism

    Allison Aitken

    November 2021, vol. 21, no. 31, pp. 1-24

    According to Madhyamaka Buddhist philosophers, everything depends for its existence on something else. But what would a world devoid of fundamentalia look like? In this paper, I argue that the anti-foundationalist “neither-one-nor-many argument” of the Indian Mādhyamika Śrīgupta commits him to a position I call “metaphysical indefinitism.” I demonstrate how this view follows from Śrīgupta’s rejection of mereological simples and ontologically independent being, when understood in light of his account of conventional reality. Contra recent claims in the secondary literature, I clarify how the Madhyamaka metaphysical dependence structure is not a straightforward infinitism since it does not honor strict asymmetry or transitivity. Instead, its dependence relations are irreflexive and extendable, admitting of dependence chains of indefinite (though not actually infinite) length and dependence loops of non-zero length. Yet, the flexible ontology of Śrīgupta's Madhyamaka can accommodate a contextualist account of asymmetry and support a revisable theory of conventional truth, delivering significant payoffs for the view, including the capacity to accommodate developments in scientific explanation.

    Coming Soon


    Michael Deigan