Where Are All the Successful Analyses?

I promised a surprise for today’s post. It’s a nasty one. Philosophical analysis is a search for the essential natures of such things as knowledge, justice, and causality. I’ve been defending analysis on two fronts. First, I’ve argued that it its inputs—the case judgments delivered by our “starter theories” of …

The Substantiality of Philosophical Analysis

The story so far: Concepts of philosophical categories such as knowledge or justice, are, or gain their cognitive significance from, explanatory theories of the relevant domain (involving epistemic explanation in the case of knowledge and moral explanation in the case of justice). Thanks to the way that concepts semantically hook …

The Reliability of Case Judgments

If the “theory-theory“ of concepts sketched in the previous post is correct, then we begin the philosophical analysis of a category such as knowledge equipped with nothing more than some rudimentary beliefs about the place of knowledge in the explanatory order. These beliefs may paint a rather partial or even …

Philosophical Concepts as Natural Kind Concepts

I want to argue that philosophical analysis, a.k.a. the method of cases, is a worthy pursuit: that it reliably gives us substantial knowledge. The linchpin of my strategy is an appeal to cognitive psychology to show that philosophical concepts—the concept of knowledge, the concept of justice, the concept of causality, …

The Philosopher in the Armchair

A philosopher goes into the armchair and brings back knowledge. What world have they been exploring? What is this knowledge of, and how did they find it? These are questions that philosophy, the most methodologically self-conscious of all the disciplines, can’t help but ask itself over and over again. They …

Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds: Conceptual Analysis and Conceptual Engineering

In the previous post, I defended a restricted form of modal skepticism and I concluded that many traditional philosophical issues could not be resolved and should be set aside. One may wonder what is left for philosophers to do: Am I suggesting to close philosophy departments? Fear not, dear reader, …

Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds: Modal Skepticism

In the previous post I presented the main arguments against the method of cases developed in Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds. Various objections can be raised against this argument, some of which have already been put in print. Chapter 5 addresses 8 objections: I defend the experimental quality of the research …

Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds: Unreliability, Dogmatism, and Parochialism

In the previous post, I argued for a minimalist characterization of the method of cases, which I share with some of the most well-known critics of experimental philosophy. In this post, I want to present the two arguments against the method of cases, developed in Chapter 3 and 4 of …

Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds: The Method of Cases

In the previous post, I introduced the method of cases: To find out whether modal claims are true, philosophers describe actual and possible situations and assess what facts hold in these situations. For instance, following Gettier’s classic paper, to determine whether, necessarily, someone knows that pif and only if she …

Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds: The Overall Argument

Does responsibility require the possibility to have done otherwise? Does knowledge require safety? Can causation be reduced to some form of counterfactual dependency? Could a material duplicate fail to be a psychological duplicate? To answer these and similar questions, one must gain knowledge about metaphysical possibilities and necessities. One must …

1. The Theory of Reference is Retro-chic

Remember the causo-descriptivist wars? If your education was anything like mine, at some point you were walked across the old battlefield and shown some of the main sights: early naïve descriptivism about proper names; its cluster theoretic successor; Kripke’s attack on descriptivism in Naming and Necessity; his causal inheritance picture; …

Our New, Ongoing and Empirically Resolvable Debates over Reduction and Emergence

Some philosophers of science have suggested that scientific discussions of “reductionism” and “emergentism” are merely rhetorical funding grabs. But drawing together my work in earlier parts of the book, in the final section, Part IV, I outline how we are in substantive, ongoing and empirically resolvable scientific debates about the …

The Scientific Emergentist and her Striking Metaphysical Mutualism

Part III of the book focuses on reconstructing the scientific emergentism of writers like Anderson, Freeman, Laughlin, Prigogine, and others, and providing a theoretical framework for its claims. I argue that scientific emergentism is a philosophically overlooked, and profoundly important position, that I dub ‘Mutualism’ with a range of novel …

The Scientific Reductionist and her Live Fundamentalist Position

The widespread philosophical view is that reductionism in the sciences is a dead view and perhaps slightly distasteful to boot. As I outlined in an earlier post, the received view assumes that “reductionism” is semantic, or Nagelian, reduction. The goal of such semantic reduction was to show that higher sciences …

Understanding Compositional Explanations in the Sciences

Understanding the nature of “vertical” relations whether in science, nature, mathematics, logic, or anywhere else, is a hot topic in philosophy. What is unfortunate is that, as yet, too little attention is paid to focused issues about what frameworks work best for the “vertical” relations in particular areas. However, it …

Metaphysics of Science vs. Metaphysics for Science: Scientific and Philosophical Frameworks

Part I of the book clears space for later work and supplies a key theoretical platform. To get us started, I briefly sketch the outlines of the scientific views to highlight how they differ from philosophical accounts of reduction /emergence; and to broach a diagnosis of how the dislocation between …

Revisiting Reduction and Emergence in the Sciences

Many thanks to John Schwenkler for allowing me to blog here about my new book Reduction and Emergence in Science and Philosophy. The book is long, so I will seek to unpack the main themes of the book’s four sections in subsequent posts. At the end of this post, I …