Adeel, M. Ashraf, and . Evolution of Quine’s Thinking on the Thesis of Underdetermination and Scott Soames’s Accusation of Paradoxicality

2015, HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5(1): 56-69.

Abstract: Scott Soames argues that interpreted in the light of Quine’s holistic verificationism, Quine’s thesis of underdetermination leads to a contradiction. It is contended here that if we pay proper attention to the evolution of Quine’s thinking on the subject, particularly his criterion of theory individuation, Quine’s thesis of underdetermination escapes Soames’ charge of paradoxicality.

Comment: Good as a secondary reading for those who are confident with Quine's thesis of underdetermination. Recomended for postgraduate courses in philosophy of science.

Ahmed, Arif, and . Saul Kripke (Contemporary American Thinkers)

2007, Bloomsbury.

Introduction: Saul Kripke is one of the most important and original post-war analytic philosophers. His work has undeniably had a profound impact on the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. Yet his ideas are amongst the most challenging frequently encountered by students of philosophy. In this informative and accessible book, Arif Ahmed provides a clear and thorough account of Kripke’s philosophy, his major works and ideas, providing an ideal guide to the important and complex thought of this key philosopher. The book offers a detailed review of his two major works, Naming and Necessity and Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, and explores how Kripke’s ideas often seem to overturn widely accepted views and even perceptions of common sense. Geared towards the specific requirements of students who need to reach a sound understanding of Kripke’s thought, the book provides a cogent and reliable survey of the nature and significance of Kripke’s contribution to philosophy. This is the ideal companion to the study of this most influential and challenging of philosophers.

Comment: This would be very useful in a course on philosophy of language, the work of Saul Kripke, a course on metaphysics which dealt with essences or the necessary a posteriori, or a course dealing with Wittgenstein's views on rule-following and private languages. There are separate chapters on names, necessity, rule-following, and private languages; so a syllabus could make use of these individually depending on need, rather than the entire book. Suitable for undergraduates and graduates.

Coliva, Annalisa, and . Extended Rationality: A Hinge Epistemology

2015, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Publisher’s Note: Extended Rationality: A Hinge Epistemology provides a novel account of the structure of epistemic justification. Its central claim builds upon Wittgenstein’s idea in On Certainty that epistemic justifications hinge on some basic assumptions and that epistemic rationality extends to these very hinges. It exploits these ideas to address major problems in epistemology, such as the nature of perceptual justifications, external world skepticism, epistemic relativism, the epistemic status of basic logical laws, of the Principle of the Uniformity of Nature, of our belief in the existence of the past and of other minds, and the nature of testimonial justification. Along the way, further technical issues, such as the scope of the Principle of Closure of epistemic operators under known entailment, the notion of transmission failure, and the existence of entitlements are addressed in new and illuminating ways.

Comment: In this interesting book, Annalisa Coliva develops an account of the structure of justification inspired by Wittgenstein's epistemology (Ch.1-3), argues a constitutivism about epistemic rationality (Ch.4) and reveals its significance for many contemporary problems (Ch.5). Ch.1 involves a overview of three dominant views of perceptual warrants: liberalism, conservativism and moderatism, so it could be a useful reading material for teachings on epistemic justification and perceptual warrant. Ch.4 can be used as a further reading for topics on epistemic rationality, Wittgenstein's epistemology and external world skepticism.

Coliva, Annalisa, and . Moore and Wittgenstein: Scepticism, Certainty, and Common Sense

2010, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Publisher’s Note: Does scepticism threaten our common sense picture of the world? Does it really undermine our deep-rooted certainties? This book offers an answer to these questions through a comparative study of the epistemological work of two key figures in the history of analytic philosophy: G. E. Moore and Ludwig Wittgenstein. While historically accurate and engaging with scholarly work in this area, the book also puts forward novel interpretations of their works and brings out their relevance to present-day debates both in epistemology and philosophy of language.

Comment: This book is a useful and sustained examination of a variety of themes in Wittgenstein's On Certainty, the very late compilation of remarks inspired by G.E. Moore's engagement with scepticism and idealism in "A Defence of Common Sense," "Proof of an External World" and a few other papers. Among the topics considered are the strategies of Moore's arguments, ordinary and philosophical uses of language, differing interpretations of Moore, externalism, internalism and contextualism, Wittgenstein's objections to Moore, meaning and use, language games, Cartesian and Humean sceptical arguments, the epistemic and semantic status of so-called "hinge" propositions, epistemic relativism, and a comparison of Wittgenstein's and Moore's views with those of subsequent philosophers. It thus constitutes a very good reading or even central text for a course on Moore's epistemology, Wittgenstein's epistemology and external world skepticism.

Hampton, Jean, and . Contracts and Choices: Does Rawls Have a Social Contract Theory?

1980, Journal of Philosophy 77(6): 315-338.

Introduction: In A Theory of Justice John Rawls tells us he is presenting a social contract theory: “My aim,” he writes, “is to present a conception of justice which generalizes and carries to a higher level of abstraction the familiar theory of the social contract as found in say, Locke, Rousseau, and Kant”. And indeed his many and various critics have generally assumed he has a contractarian position and have criticized him on that basis. However, it will be my contention in this paper that a contractual agreement on the two principles not only does not but ought not to occur in the original position, and that, although Rawls uses contract language in his book, there is another procedure outlined in Part One of A Theory of Justice through which the two principles are selected.

Comment: Questions the nature of the Rawlsian contract and asks whether it really belongs in the same tradition as Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. Useful if engaging with Rawls's methodology at a deep level. Would make good further reading for a module on either Rawls specifically or the social contract tradition more generally.

Massimi, Michela, and . Working in a new world: Kuhn, constructivism, and mind-dependence

2015, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 50: 83-89.

Abstract: In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn famously advanced the claim that scientists work in a different world after a scientific revolution. Kuhn’s view has been at the center of a philosophical literature that has tried to make sense of his bold claim, by listing Kuhn’s view in good company with other seemingly constructivist proposals. The purpose of this paper is to take some steps towards clarifying what sort of constructivism (if any) is in fact at stake in Kuhn’s view. To this end, I distinguish between two main (albeit not exclusive) notions of mind-dependence: a semantic notion and an ontological one. I point out that Kuhn’s view should be understood as subscribing to a form of semantic mind-dependence, and conclude that semantic mind-dependence does not land us into any worrisome ontological mind-dependence, pace any constructivist reading of Kuhn.

Comment: Useful for undergraduate and postgraduate philosophy of science courses. Helps to clarify key concepts in Kuhn's work.

Russell, Gillian, and . Truth in Virtue of Meaning: A Defence of the Analytic/Synthetic Distinction

2008, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Publisher’s Note: The analytic/synthetic distinction looks simple. It is a distinction between two different kinds of sentence. Synthetic sentences are true in part because of the way the world is, and in part because of what they mean. Analytic sentences – like all bachelors are unmarried and triangles have three sides – are different. They are true in virtue of meaning, so no matter what the world is like, as long as the sentence means what it does, it will be true.

This distinction seems powerful because analytic sentences seem to be knowable in a special way. One can know that all bachelors are unmarried, for example, just by thinking about what it means. But many twentieth-century philosophers, with Quine in the lead, argued that there were no analytic sentences, that the idea of analyticity didn’t even make sense, and that the analytic/synthetic distinction was therefore an illusion. Others couldn’t see how there could fail to be a distinction, however ingenious the arguments of Quine and his supporters.

But since the heyday of the debate, things have changed in the philosophy of language. Tools have been refined, confusions cleared up, and most significantly, many philosophers now accept a view of language – semantic externalism – on which it is possible to see how the distinction could fail. One might be tempted to think that ultimately the distinction has fallen for reasons other than those proposed in the original debate.

In Truth in Virtue of Meaning, Gillian Russell argues that it hasn’t. Using the tools of contemporary philosophy of language, she outlines a view of analytic sentences which is compatible with semantic externalism and defends that view against the old Quinean arguments. She then goes on to draw out the surprising epistemological consequences of her approach.

Comment: This can be used as further/secondary reading for a postgraduate course on epistemology or philosophy of language, focusing on Quine and on the analytic/synthetic distinction.

Russell, Gillian, and . The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction

2014, Philosophy Compass 2(5): 712–729.

Abstract: Once a standard tool in the epistemologist’s kit, the analytic/synthetic distinction was challenged by Quine and others in the mid-twentieth century and remains controversial today. But although the work of a lot contemporary philosophers touches on this distinction – in the sense that it either has consequences for it, or it assumes results about it – few have really focussed on it recently. This has the consequence that a lot has happened that should affect our view of the analytic/synthetic distinction, while little has been done to work out exactly what the effects are. All these features together make the topic ideal for either a survey or research seminar at the graduate level: it can provide an organising theme which justifies a spectrum of classic readings from Locke to Williamson, passing though Kant, Frege, Carnap, Quine and Kripke on the way, but it could also provide an excuse for a much more narrowly construed research seminar which studies the consequences of really contemporary philosophy of language and linguistics for the distinction

Comment: This paper can be used as introductory/background reading on the topic of the analytic/synthetic distinction and the famous Quinean critique to it. Suitable for an advance course on philosophy of language or a specialised course on the analytic/synthetic distinction. It can also be used in a course on the history of analytic philosophy.

Seibt, Johanna, and . Properties as Processes

1990, Ridgeview Publishing

Summary: Sellars’ critics have, predominantly, studied single aspects of his work. This essay, on the other hand, is motivated by Sellars’ dictum that “analysis without synopsis is blind” (TWO 527). My intent is to give a synopsis of Sellars’ thought by focusing on the nominalist strands of his scheme. I shall try to draw the reader’s attention to the systematicity and overall coherence of Sellars’ work, since I think that any successful analysis of his writings must heed their systematic context. By presenting Sellars’ logical, semantic, epistemological and metaphysical arguments for the expendability of abstract entities in their systematic connection, I hope to promote both ‘full scope nominalism’ and ‘full scope Sellarsianism.’

Comment: This would be useful in a course on metaphysics or on philosophy of language. The book is not easy, but is unique in being a book-length exploration of metalinguistic nominalism. Recommended for graduate and perhaps advanced undergraduate courses.