Full text See used
Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Experiments in Ethics
2008, London: Harvard University Press.
Expand entry
Added by: Simon Fokt

Publisher's Note: In the past few decades, scientists of human nature—including experimental and cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists, evolutionary theorists, and behavioral economists—have explored the way we arrive at moral judgments. They have called into question commonplaces about character and offered troubling explanations for various moral intuitions. Research like this may help explain what, in fact, we do and feel. But can it tell us what we ought to do or feel?

In Experiments in Ethics, the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah explores how the new empirical moral psychology relates to the age-old project of philosophical ethics. Some moral theorists hold that the realm of morality must be autonomous of the sciences; others maintain that science undermines the authority of moral reasons. Appiah elaborates a vision of naturalism that resists both temptations. He traces an intellectual genealogy of the burgeoning discipline of “experimental philosophy,” provides a balanced, lucid account of the work being done in this controversial and increasingly influential field, and offers a fresh way of thinking about ethics in the classical tradition.

Appiah urges that the relation between empirical research and morality, now so often antagonistic, should be seen in terms of dialogue, not contest. And he shows how experimental philosophy, far from being something new, is actually as old as philosophy itself. Beyond illuminating debates about the connection between psychology and ethics, intuition and theory, his book helps us to rethink the very nature of the philosophical enterprise.

Comment: This is a great work for any ethics course, insofar as it interrogates the traditional mode of doing ethics through an experimental lens. Also good for courses on experimental philosophy, suitable for both undergraduates and early stage graduate students.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Full text Blue print
Azenabor, Godwin. The Idea of African Philosophy in African Language
2000, Indian Philosophical Quarterly. 27 (3): 321-328.
Expand entry
Added by: Sara Peppe and Björn Freter
Abstract: The necessity of writing African philosophy in African languages has been proposed more than once. But, expressing African philosophy in indigenous languages of Africa does not make it more authentic. Authentic African philosophy is the philosophy that takes into account African culture and life. Moreover, the problem of using indigenous languages deals with the fact that the above-mentioned languages are scarcely taught in schools and have almost no place in education. Regarding this, the Nigeria case is paradigmatic.

Comment: Godwin Azenabor considers the problem of African philosophy in the African language by examining both the concepts of African philosophy and language. The author underlines that the fact that African philosophy should be written in the African language derives from the idea that other philosophies are written in their respective languages. This led the author to think that translating African philosophy into other languages may not depict the true picture of African philosophy, with African philosophy lacking in authenticity. The author focuses on the fact that African indigenous languages are not taught in schools, and scholars do not master the indigenous languages as much as to write in indigenous languages for education purposes. This occurs in Nigeria, where official institutions and education bodies use colonial languages. Plus, the problem of language is rooted in the idea that most African languages are local while philosophy aims to be international. The author also explains why Africans use colonial languages, i.e., to remove communication and understanding barriers. And Azenabor concludes that the language used does not determine the authenticity of African philosophy. Plus, what makes a philosophy African is that it is applied to the conceptual problems of African life and encompasses its tradition.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Full text Blue print
Bodunrin, Peter Oluwambe. The Question of African Philosophy
1981, Philosophy. 56 (216): 161-179.
Expand entry
Added by: Sara Peppe and Björn Freter
Abstract: Philosophy in Africa has for more than a decade now been dominated by the discussion of one compound question, namely, is there an African philosophy, and if there is, what is it? The first part of the question has generally been unhesitatingly answered in the affirmative. Dispute has been primarily over the second part of the question as various specimens of African philosophy presented do not seem to pass muster. Those of us who refuse to accept certain specimens as philosophy have generally been rather illogically said also to deny an affirmative answer to the first part of the question. In a paper presented at the International Symposium in Memory of Dr William Amo, the Ghanaian philosopher who taught in German universities in the early part of the eighteenth century, Professor Odera Oruka identified four trends, perhaps more appropriately approaches, in current African philosophy

Comment: The article is focused on the theme of African philosophy giving a clear picture of the difficulties in defining what is African philosophy. This paper does not treat the theme of African philosophy and African language, but it provides a base for the above-mentioned debate giving an account picture of African philosophy. The paper indicates that the philosopher Oruka found four trends in African philosophy: Ethno-philosophy, Philosophy sagacity, Nationalist-ideological philosophy and Professional philosophy. The author highlights that the nature of African philosophy is understood differently by the various contemporary African thinkers. And, the article deeply considers the effects of contact with Western populations. Thus, the article links the philosophical problem of defining philosophy in Africa with colonialism. Moreover, Bodunrin examines the four categories of African philosophy proposed by Oruka in the light of the four challenges Africa faces after entering in contact with Western countries.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Full text
Broadie, Sarah. Plato’s Sun-Like Good: Dialectic in the Republic
2021, Cambridge University Press
Expand entry
, Contributed by: Quentin Pharr
Publisher’s Note: Plato's Sun-Like Good is a revolutionary discussion of the Republic's philosopher-rulers, their dialectic, and their relation to the form of the good. With detailed arguments Sarah Broadie explains how, if we think of the form of the good as 'interrogative', we can re-conceive those central reference-points of Platonism in down-to-earth terms without loss to our sense of Plato's philosophical greatness. The book's main aims are: first, to show how for Plato the form of the good is of practical value in a way that we can understand; secondly, to make sense of the connection he draws between dialectic and the form of the good; and thirdly, to make sense of the relationship between the form of the good and other forms while respecting the contours of the sun-good analogy and remaining faithful to the text of the Republic itself.

Comment: This text is an excellent companion text for reading Plato's Republic - especially Books 5 and 6. It provides clear interpretations of the various metaphors and analogies that Plato presents in those books, and it provides one of the most important new interpretations of Plato's conception of philosopher-rulers, the Form of the Good, and philosophical dialectic. This text is primarily for those students who are looking to dive into the relevant debates associated with these books in the Republic. Accordingly, it requires some understanding of some of Plato's other dialogues, as well as some understanding of philosophical and mathematical methodologies as conceived by Plato.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Full text See used
Brown, Jessica. Experimental Philosophy, Contextualism and SSI
2013, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research: 86 (2): 233-261.
Expand entry
Added by: Jie Gao
Abstract: I will ask the conditional question: if folk attributions of "know" are not sensitive to the stakes and/or the salience of error, does this cast doubt on contextualism or subject-sensitive invariantism (SSI)? I argue that if it should turn out that folk attributions of knowledge are insensitive to such factors, then this undermines contextualism, but not SSI. That is not to say that SSI is invulnerable to empirical work of any kind. Rather, I defend the more modest claim that leading versions of SSI are not undermined by one particular kind of experimental result, namely the recent suggestion that knowledge attributions are insensitive to the stakes.

Comment: Suitable for an upper-level undergraduate course on epistemology for multiple purposes. It is good as a further reading for sessions on contextualism, pragmatic encroachment, philosophical methodology, and the use of experimental philosophy in epistemological theorizing.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Full text
Camp, Elisabeth. Two Varieties of Literary Imagination: Metaphor, Fiction, and Thought Experiments
2009, Midwest Studies in Philosophy 33 (1):107-130.
Expand entry
Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir
Abstract: Recently, philosophers have discovered that they have a lot to learn from, or at least to ponder about, fiction. Many metaphysicians are attracted to fiction as a model for our talk about purported objects and properties, such as numbers, morality, and possible worlds, without embracing a robust Platonist ontology. In addition, a growing group of philosophers of mind are interested in the implications of our engagement with fiction for our understanding of the mind and emotions: If I don't believe that Anna Karenina exists, can I really pity her, or hope or desire that she extricate herself from her tragic situation? And why is there no 'morality fiction,' analogous to science fiction? I suspect that philosophers have been especially comfortable thinking about fiction because it seems, at least prima facie, to employ the imagination in a way that conforms to a standard model of the mind. Specifically, contemporary philosophers tend to think of imagination as a form of mental pretense. Mental pretense can take two main forms: a cognitive attitude of supposing a set of propositions to be true (make-believe) or else an experiential state of imaging a scenario as if it were before one (imaging). Much of our pretense intertwines the cognitive and experiential modalities, of course. But both share a crucial common feature: all of one's imaginative effort is invested in pretending that certain contents obtain. In this sense, we can understand imagination as the 'offline' simulation of actual beliefs and perceptions (and perhaps other attitudes as well), where we analyze these in the normal way, as states individuated by their attitude and representational content. While I share the burgeoning interest in fiction, I want to suggest that we also have a lot to learn from poetry, and in particular from poetic metaphor. I will argue..

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Full text Read free
Chakravartty, Anjan. Six degrees of speculation: metaphysics in empirical contexts
2007, B. Monton (ed.) Images of Empiricism: Essays on Science and Stances, with a Reply From Bas C. Van Fraassen. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 183-208
Expand entry
Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Matthew Watts
Abstract: This chapter argues that the distinction between empiricism and metaphysics is not as clear as van Fraassen would like to believe. Almost all inquiry is metaphysical to a degree, including van Fraassen's stance empiricism. Van Fraassen does not make a strong case against metaphysics, since the argument against metaphysics has to happen at the level of meta-stances — the level where one decides which stance to endorse. The chapter maintains that utilizing van Fraassen's own conception of rationality, metaphysicians are rational. Empiricists should not reject all metaphysics, but just the sort of metaphysics which goes well beyond the empirical contexts that most interest them.

Comment: This text is useful discussions pertaining to metaphysics and its useful for empiricists

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Full text See used
Cockburn, Catharine Trotter. Selections from A Defence of Mr Locke’s Essay of Human Understanding
1994, in Margaret Atherton (ed.) Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period. Hackett Publishing Company. [originally written 1702]
Expand entry
Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by: Simon Fokt
Diversifying Syllabi: Catharine Trotter Cockburn argues that Burnet’s critiques of Locke are mistaken. In particular, she argues (a) that Burnet has misunderstood Locke, (b) that Burnet’s conclusions aren’t supported by his arguments, and (c) that, even if they were, they would not constitute criticisms of Locke. Primarily, Cockburn is eager to show that Locke’s view is consistent with a view of the mind/soul as immaterial and immortal.

Comment: This chapter could be used in a history of philosophy course as one week's reading. It could follow a section on Locke as Cockburn defends Locke, specifically against the charge that his empiricist epistemology cannot account for moral ideas, but in doing so develops her own account of conscience.

Complimentary Texts/Resources:

Jane Duran, “Early English Empiricism and the Work of Catharine Trotter Cockburn”

Martha Brandt Bolton, “Some Aspects of the Philosophical Work of Catharine Trotter”

Patricia Sheridan, “Reflection, Nature and Moral Law: The Extent of Catharine Cockburn’s Lockeanism in her Defence of Mr. Locke’s Essay”

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Full text Read free
Deng, Natalja. Religion for Naturalists
2015, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 78(2): 195-214.
Expand entry
Added by: Emily Paul
Abstract: Some naturalists feel an affinity with some religions, or with a particular religion. They may have previously belonged to it, and/or been raised in it, and/or be close to people who belong to it, and/or simply feel attracted to its practices, texts and traditions. This raises the question of whether and to what extent a naturalist can lead the life of a religious believer. The sparse literature on this topic focuses on (a position recognizable as) religious fictionalism. I also frame the debate in these terms. I ask what religious fictionalism might amount to, reject some possible versions of it and endorse a different one. I then examine the existing proposals, by Robin Le Poidevin, Peter Lipton, Andrew Eshleman and Howard Wettstein, and show that even on my version of religious fictionalism, much of what has been described by these authors is still possible.

Comment: Could be very useful for a Philosophy of Religion course where atheism and agnosticism have already been explored, to provide an interesting alternative. I’ve seen religious fictionalism work as a stimulating topic for students, but only if the paper is clear and accessible – like this one.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Full text
Dotson, Kristie. How is this Paper Philosophy?
2013, Comparative Philosophy 3 (1):3-29.
Expand entry
Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Corbin Covington
Abstract: This paper answers a call made by Anita Allen to genuinely assess whether the field of philosophy has the capacity to sustain the work of diverse peoples. By identifying a pervasive culture of justification within professional philosophy, I gesture to the ways professional philosophy is not an attractive working environment for many diverse practitioners. As a result of the downsides of the culture of justification that pervades professional philosophy, I advocate that the discipline of professional philosophy be cast according to a culture of praxis. Finally, I provide a comparative exercise using Graham Priest's definition of philosophy and Audre Lorde's observations of the limitations of philosophical theorizing to show how these two disparate accounts can be understood as philosophical engagement with a shift to a culture of praxis perspective.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Full text
Dotson, Kristie. On the Costs of Socially Relevant Philosophy Papers: A Reflection
2019, Journal of Social Philosophy .
Expand entry
Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Corbin Covington
Introduction: The noticeable uptake of the paper 'How Is This Paper Philosophy?' (Dotson 2012a) within professional philosophy has given me the occasion to reflect about the uptake of philosophy papers. This may shed light on producing socially relevant philosophy articles and their costs. The relative success of that paper is a huge surprise to me. What I mean by success is pretty straightforward and not particularly ambitious. I am counting success as whether one regularly runs into people who have read one's paper and cite it as having had an impact on their considered or ambient positions on the paper's content. That is, it has received some uptake in a populated domain of activity. What I take to be central to ques-tions of how an article becomes socially relevant are questions of uptake. Uptake, here, is understood broadly to refer to readership that takes one's stated positions seriously enough to adopt (or be influenced by) them in part or in whole. What I have found is that many people in academic philosophy, for example, have read 'How Is This Paper Philosophy?' Some folks pay serious attention to it.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Full text See used
Dutilh Novaes, Catarina. Formal Languages in Logic: A Philosophical and Cognitive Analysis
2012, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Expand entry
Added by: Jie Gao
Publisher’s Note: Formal languages are widely regarded as being above all mathematical objects and as producing a greater level of precision and technical complexity in logical investigations because of this. Yet defining formal languages exclusively in this way offers only a partial and limited explanation of the impact which their use (and the uses of formalisms more generally elsewhere) actually has. In this book, Catarina Dutilh Novaes adopts a much wider conception of formal languages so as to investigate more broadly what exactly is going on when theorists put these tools to use. She looks at the history and philosophy of formal languages and focuses on the cognitive impact of formal languages on human reasoning, drawing on their historical development, psychology, cognitive science and philosophy. Her wide-ranging study will be valuable for both students and researchers in philosophy, logic, psychology and cognitive and computer science.

Comment: This book addresses important questions about formal languages: why formalization works and the limitations of formalization. The questions are answered from cognitive, historical and logical points of view. It is a good introductory material for teaching on formal language and psychology of reasoning.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Full text Blue print
Egbunu, Fidelis Eleojo. Language Problem in African Philosophy: The Igala Case
2014, Journal of Educational and Social Research. 4 (3): 363-371.
Expand entry
Added by: Sara Peppe and Björn Freter
Abstract: The Language Question is a very central subject of discourse in African Philosophy. This is consequent upon the fact that the essence of language in philosophy cannot be gainsaid. Language, as it were, is culture bound. As such, to deny a people of their language is to deny them their cultural heritage. While applying the descriptive and analytic method in this work, it is contended that language plays not only a catalyzing role in the art of philosophizing but that it occupies an inalienable place in philosophy. Again, that since philosophy is more or less about resolving “conceptual cramps” or “bottle-necks”, indigenous languages should be given a pride of place over and against their foreign counterparts because of the obvious epistemological advantages embedded therein (especially in mother-tongues). It is submitted here that a lot of homework need to be done in terms of advocacy and development on the low status of such languages so as to meet up with the international standard and nature of the discipline. Meanwhile, the need for using a language that engenders understanding across ethnic barriers alongside the language of the environment is being advocated as a short-term measure. This is not without sounding a caveat that such a transfer of knowledge which is often fraught with some degree of adulteration via the instrument of translation, though practicable, is far from being the ideal. It is on this token the opinions of experts such as Barry Hallen, Quine and a host of others on Methods of Ordinary Language Philosophy and Indeterminacy, respectively are being advanced as plausible means of meeting the challenges before us. In this manner, while using the Igala language of Central Nigeria as a case study, it is finally submitted that it is possible to have what we might term authentic African Philosophy emerging from a systematic analysis of our traditional worldviews.

Comment: This paper examines the issue of language in African Philosophy and highlights that language and culture are closely linked. Indeed, in paragraph 2, Egbonu studies the term “language”, underlining that language has to do with people’s identity and culture. Also, the author explains that language has a crucial role in philosophising, with African indigenous languages that should have a major role in African philosophy since it expresses the cultural heritage of African people. Egbunu focuses on the case of Igala people, where the meaning of the words they use is not the same when we translate them. But, Egbunu also underlines that language is not the only way to determine what should be considered authentic African philosophy. Indeed, it is argued that language does not determine whether African philosophy is authentic or not. Instead, authentic African philosophy is the philosophy applied to the conceptual issues of the African experience.

Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Full text Read free
Franklin, L. R.. Exploratory Experiments
2005, Philosophy of Science 72(5): 888-899.
Expand entry
Added by: Nick Novelli
Abstract: Philosophers of experiment have acknowledged that experiments are often more than mere hypothesis-tests, once thought to be an experiment's exclusive calling. Drawing on examples from contemporary biology, I make an additional amendment to our understanding of experiment by examining the way that `wide' instrumentation can, for reasons of efficiency, lead scientists away from traditional hypothesis-directed methods of experimentation and towards exploratory methods.

Comment: Good exploration of the role of experiments, challenging the idea that they are solely useful for testing clearly defined hypotheses. Uses many practical examples, but is very concise and clear. Suitable for undergraduate teaching in an examination of scientific methods in a philosophy of science course.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Full text
Gendler, Tamar Szabó. Galileo and the Indispensability of Scientific Thought Experiment
1998, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49 (3):397-424.
Expand entry
Added by: Andrea Blomqvist
Abstract: By carefully examining one of the most famous thought experiments in the history of science - that by which Galileo is said to have refuted the Aristotelian theory that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter ones - I attempt to show that thought experiments play a distinctive role in scientific inquiry. Reasoning about particular entities within the context of an imaginary scenario can lead to rationally justified concluusions that - given the same initial information - would not be rationally justifiable on the basis of a straightforward argument.

Comment: This paper would be a good to put as further reading in a week focusing on thought experiments. Suitable for a third year module.

Export citation in BibTeX format
Export text citation
View this text on PhilPapers
Export citation in Reference Manager format
Export citation in EndNote format
Export citation in Zotero format
Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share by Email
Can’t find it?
Contribute the texts you think should be here and we’ll add them soon!