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April 28 2017



[Revised entry by Igor Douven on April 28, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, peirce.html] In the philosophical literature, the term "abduction" is used in two related but different senses. In both senses, the term refers to some form of explanatory reasoning. However, in the historically first sense, it refers to the place of explanatory reasoning in generating hypotheses, while in the sense in which it is used most frequently in the modern literature it refers to the place of explanatory reasoning in justifying hypotheses. In the latter sense, abduction is also often called "Inference...

Civil Rights

[Revised entry by Andrew Altman on April 28, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] In contemporary political thought, the term 'civil rights' is indissolubly linked to the struggle for equality of American blacks during the 1950s and 60s. The aim of that struggle was to secure the status of equal citizenship in a liberal democratic state. Civil rights are the basic legal rights a person must possess in order to have such a status. They are the rights that constitute free and equal citizenship and include personal, political, and economic rights. No contemporary thinker of significance holds that such rights can be...

April 27 2017



[Revised entry by Igor Primoratz on April 26, 2017. Changes to: Bibliography] Patriotism raises questions of the sort philosophers characteristically discuss: How is patriotism to be defined? How is it related to similar attitudes, such as nationalism? What is its moral standing: is it morally valuable or perhaps even mandatory, or is it rather a stance we should avoid? Yet until a few decades ago, philosophers used to show next to no interest in the subject. The article on patriotism in the Historical Dictionary of Philosophy, reviewing the use of the term from the...

April 24 2017


Two-Dimensional Semantics

[Revised entry by Laura Schroeter on April 24, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Two-dimensional (2D) semantics is a formal framework that is used to characterize the meaning of certain linguistic expressions and the entailment relations among sentences containing them. Two-dimensional semantics has also been applied to thought contents. In contrast with standard possible worlds semantics, 2D semantics assigns extensions and truth-values to expressions relative to two possible world parameters, rather than just one. So a 2D semantic framework provides finer-grained semantic values than those available within standard...

Antoine Arnauld

[Revised entry by Elmar Kremer on April 24, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Antoine Arnauld (1612 - 1694) was a powerful figure in the intellectual life of seventeenth-century Europe. He had a long and highly controversial career as a theologian, and was an able and influential philosopher. His writings were published and widely read over a period of more than fifty years and were assembled in 1775 - 1782 in forty-two large folio volumes....

John Locke

[Revised entry by William Uzgalis on April 24, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] John Locke (b. 1632, d. 1704) was a British philosopher, Oxford academic and medical researcher. Locke's monumental An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) is one of the first great defenses of modern empiricism and concerns itself with determining the limits of human understanding in respect to a wide spectrum of topics. It thus tells us in some detail what one can legitimately claim to know and what one cannot. Locke's association with Anthony Ashley Cooper (later the First Earl of Shaftesbury) led him to become...

Peter John Olivi

[Revised entry by Robert Pasnau and Juhana Toivanen on April 24, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Peter John Olivi was one of the most original and interesting philosophers and theologians of the thirteenth century. Although not as clear and systematic as Thomas Aquinas, and not as brilliantly analytical as John Duns Scotus, Olivi's ideas are equally original and provocative, and their philosophical value is nowadays recognized among the specialists in medieval philosophy. He is probably best known for his psychological theories, especially his voluntarist conception of the freedom of the will, but his influence...


[Revised entry by Kourken Michaelian and John Sutton on April 24, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Memory plays important roles in many areas of philosophy. It is vital to our knowledge of the world in general and of the personal past in particular. It underwrites our identities as individuals and our ties to other people. Philosophical interest in memory thus dates back to antiquity and has remained prominent throughout the history of philosophy (Aho 2014; Bloch 2014; Burnham 1888; Herrmann a Chaffinn 1988; Nikulin 2015). More recently, memory has come to be recognized as a topic of major philosophical...

Political Legitimacy

[Revised entry by Fabienne Peter on April 24, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Political legitimacy is a virtue of political institutions and of the decisions - about laws, policies, and candidates for political office - made within them. This entry will survey the main answers that have been given to the following questions. First, how should legitimacy be defined? Is it primarily a descriptive or a normative concept? If legitimacy is understood normatively, what does it entail? Some associate legitimacy with the justification of coercive power and with the creation of political authority. Others associate it with the...

April 21 2017


Friedrich Schiller

[New Entry by Lydia L. Moland on April 21, 2017.] Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller (1759 - 1805) is best known for his immense influence on German literature. In his relatively short life, he authored an extraordinary series of dramas, including The Robbers, Maria Stuart, and the trilogy Wallenstein. He was also a prodigious poet, composing perhaps most famously the "Ode to Joy" featured in the culmination of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and enshrined, some two centuries later, in the European...

April 19 2017


Medieval Theories of Modality

[Revised entry by Simo Knuuttila on April 19, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] There are four modal paradigms in ancient philosophy: the frequency interpretation of modality, the model of possibility as a potency, the model of antecedent necessities and possibilities with respect to a certain moment of time (diachronic modalities), and the model of possibility as non-contradictoriness. None of these conceptions, which were well known to early medieval thinkers through the works of Boethius, was based on the idea of modality as involving reference to simultaneous alternatives. This new paradigm was introduced into...

April 18 2017


Causal Theories of Mental Content

[Revised entry by Fred Adams and Ken Aizawa on April 18, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Causal theories of mental content attempt to explain how thoughts can be about things. They attempt to explain how one can think about, for example, dogs. These theories begin with the idea that there are mental representations and that thoughts are meaningful in virtue of a causal connection between a mental representation and some part of the world that is represented. In other words, the point of departure for these theories is that thoughts of dogs are about dogs because dogs cause the mental representations of dogs....

April 17 2017



[Revised entry by Margaret Graver on April 17, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] A Greek philosopher of 1st and early 2nd centuries C.E., and an exponent of Stoic ethics notable for the consistency and power of his ethical thought and for effective methods of teaching. Epictetus's chief concerns are with integrity, self-management, and personal freedom, which he advocates by demanding of his students a thorough examination of two central ideas, the capacity he terms 'volition' (prohairesis) and the...

April 14 2017


Units and Levels of Selection

[Revised entry by Elisabeth Lloyd on April 14, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] The theory of evolution by natural selection is, perhaps, the crowning intellectual achievement of the biological sciences. There is, however, considerable debate about which entity or entities are selected and what it is that fits them for that role. This article aims to clarify what is at issue in these debates by identifying four distinct, though often confused, concerns and then identifying how the debates on what constitute the units of selection depend to a significant degree on which of these four questions a thinker regards...

April 13 2017


Foreknowledge and Free Will

[Revised entry by Linda Zagzebski on April 13, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Fatalism is the thesis that human acts occur by necessity and hence are unfree. Theological fatalism is the thesis that infallible foreknowledge of a human act makes the act necessary and hence unfree. If there is a being who knows the entire future infallibly, then no human act is free....

April 12 2017


The Traditional Square of Opposition

[Revised entry by Terence Parsons on April 12, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] This entry traces the historical development of the Square of Opposition, a collection of logical relationships traditionally embodied in a square diagram. This body of doctrine provided a foundation for work in logic for over two millenia. For most of this history, logicians assumed that negative particular propositions ("Some S is not P") are vacuously true if their subjects are empty. This validates the logical laws embodied...

Karl Marx

[Revised entry by Jonathan Wolff on April 12, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Karl Marx (1818 - 1883) is best known not as a philosopher but as a revolutionary, whose works inspired the foundation of many communist regimes in the twentieth century. It is hard to think of many who have had as much influence in the creation of the modern world. Trained as a philosopher, Marx turned away from philosophy in his mid-twenties, towards economics and politics. However, in addition to his overtly philosophical early work, his later writings have many points of...

April 11 2017


Science and Pseudo-Science

[Revised entry by Sven Ove Hansson on April 11, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The demarcation between science and pseudoscience is part of the larger task of determining which beliefs are epistemically warranted. This entry clarifies the specific nature of pseudoscience in relation to other categories of non-scientific doctrines and practices, including science denial(ism) and resistance to the facts. The major proposed demarcation criteria for pseudo-science are discussed and some of their weaknesses are pointed out. In conclusion, it is emphasized that there is much more agreement on particular cases of...

Albert Camus

[Revised entry by Ronald Aronson on April 10, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Albert Camus (1913 - 1960) was a journalist, editor and editorialist, playwright and director, novelist and author of short stories, political essayist and activist - and, although he more than once denied it, a philosopher. He ignored or opposed systematic philosophy, had little faith in rationalism, asserted rather than argued many of his main ideas, presented others in metaphors, was preoccupied with immediate and personal experience, and brooded over...

April 05 2017


Logical Empiricism

[Revised entry by Richard Creath on April 5, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Logical empiricism is a philosophic movement rather than a set of doctrines, and it flourished in the 1920s and 30s in several centers in Europe and in the 40s and 50s in the United States. It had several different leaders whose views changed considerably over time. Moreover, these thinkers differed from one another, often sharply. Because logical empiricism is here construed as a movement rather than as doctrine, there is probably no important position that...
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