In the history of philosophy materialism and idealism are regularly opposed to each other: they are conceived as rival metaphysical systems. Each is thought to have its appeal, with oscillation between them, but it is assumed that you cannot be both. They are logically incompatible doctrines. The world is either completely material or it is […]
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Wittgenstein concludes his famous section in Philosophical Investigations on games (66) with these words: “we see a complicated network of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing: sometimes overall similarities, sometimes similarities of detail”. This he opposes to the idea that games have a single characteristic that defines them. He follows up this discussion by saying, “I can […]
According to Locke, colors are nothing but powers in objects to produce ideas in our minds. He writes: “What I have said concerning colours and smells, may be understood also of tastes, and sounds, and other the like sensible qualities; which, whatever reality we by mistake, attribute to them, are in truth nothing in the […]
Causation implies laws. A singular causal statement entails a general causal statement. If a caused b, we know that events like a will cause events like b. Thus universality is built into causation—the particular implies the universal. This puts causation in a very special class of relations: it is not generally true that a singular […]
If materialism were true, we should be able to know about matter by introspection; but we don’t, so it isn’t. For materialism is a theory of the nature of mind—what constitutes mental states—and so we ought to know this nature by knowing about the things that have it; but we don’t. If it is the […]
A reasonable expectation of moral philosophy would be that it should identify the good and then characterize it in such a way that doing good is irresistible, or at least desirable. A reasonable expectation of epistemology would be that it should say what knowledge is and then propose an effective method for achieving it. A […]
Are relations real? There are reasons to think not, even though properties are agreed to be real. That would yield a metaphysics in which relations are regarded as mental constructions projected onto the world, while properties (or most of them) are treated as objective constituents of reality. That is, we embrace idealism about relations and […]
Consider a possible world in which the fundamental constituents of reality are mental in nature. Suppose a kind of mental atomism holds: there are basic elements that combine to form less basic elements. We thus have simple and complex mental entities. But suppose further that there is a special kind of emergence in this world […]