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Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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Published: Fri, 26 May 2017 23:40:25 -0800

Last Build Date: Fri, 26 May 2017 23:40:25 -0800

Copyright: Copyright Notice. Authors contributing an entry or entries to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, except as provided herein, retain the copyright to their entry or entries. By contributing an entry or entries, the author grants to the Metaphysics Research Lab at Stanford University an exclusive license to publish their entry or entries on the Internet and the World Wide Web, including any future technologies or media that develop to supplement or replace the Internet or World Wide Web, on the terms of the Licensing Agreement set forth in The rights granted to the Metaphysics Research Lab at Stanford University include the right to enforce such rights in any forum, administrative, judicial, or otherwise. All rights not expressly granted to the Metaphysics Research Lab at Stanford University, including the right to publish an entry or entries in other print media, are retained by the authors. Copyright of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy itself is held by the Metaphysics Research Lab at Stanford University. All rights are reserved. No part of the Encyclopedia (excluding individual contributions and works derived solely from those contributions, for which rights are reserved by the individual authors) may be reprinted, reproduced, stored, or utilized in any form, by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including printing, photocopying, saving (on disk), broadcasting or recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, other than for purposes of fair use, without written permission from the copyright holder. (All communications should be directed to the Principal Editor.)

The Lambda Calculus

Fri, 26 May 2017 23:32:23 -0800

[Revised entry by Jesse Alama on May 26, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The l-calculus is, at heart, a simple notation for functions and application. The main ideas are applying a function to an argument and forming functions by abstraction. The syntax of basic l-calculus is quite sparse, making it an elegant, focused notation for representing functions. Functions and arguments are on a par with one another. The result is an intensional theory of functions as rules of computation, contrasting with an extensional theory of functions as sets of ordered pairs. Despite its sparse syntax, the expressiveness and flexibility of the l-calculus...

The Epistemology of Religion

Fri, 26 May 2017 02:48:38 -0800

[Revised entry by Peter Forrest on May 26, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Contemporary epistemology of religion may conveniently be treated as a debate over whether evidentialism applies to religious beliefs, or whether we should instead adopt a more permissive epistemology. Here evidentialism is the initially plausible position that a belief is justified only if "it is proportioned to the evidence". For example, suppose a local weather forecaster has noticed that over the two hundred years since records began a wetter than average Winter is followed in 85% of...

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Fri, 26 May 2017 01:37:05 -0800

[Revised entry by Christopher Bertram on May 26, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Jean-Jacques Rousseau remains an important figure in the history of philosophy, both because of his contributions to political philosophy and moral psychology and because of his influence on later thinkers. Rousseau's own view of philosophy and philosophers was firmly negative, seeing philosophers as the post-hoc rationalizers of self-interest, as apologists for various forms of tyranny, and as playing a role in the alienation of the modern individual from humanity's natural impulse to...

Robert Alyngton

Wed, 24 May 2017 15:12:11 -0800

[Revised entry by Alessandro Conti on May 24, 2017. Changes to: Main text] Robert Alyngton was one of the most important authors of the generation after John Wyclif. He was deeply influenced by Walter Burley's logico-ontological system and Wyclif's metaphysics. His major extant work, a commentary on the Categories, heavily depends on Burley's last commentary on the Categories and Wyclif's De ente praedicamentali. Yet he was able to develop new logical and semantic theories as well as the general strategy adopted...

Political Realism in International Relations

Wed, 24 May 2017 11:56:34 -0800

[Revised entry by W. Julian Korab-Karpowicz on May 24, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] In the discipline of international relations there are contending general theories or theoretical perspectives. Realism, also known as political realism, is a view of international politics that stresses its competitive and conflictual side. It is usually contrasted with idealism or liberalism, which tends to emphasize cooperation. Realists consider the principal actors in the international arena to be states, which are concerned with their own security, act in pursuit of their...


Wed, 24 May 2017 01:12:02 -0800

[Revised entry by Zoltán Gendler Szabó on May 24, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Anything that deserves to be called a language must contain meaningful expressions built up from other meaningful expressions. How are their complexity and meaning related? The traditional view is that the relationship is fairly tight: the meaning of a complex expression is fully determined by its structure and the meanings of its constituents - once we fix what the parts mean and how they are put together we have no more leeway regarding the meaning of the whole. This is the principle of compositionality, a fundamental...

David Hartley

Tue, 23 May 2017 17:43:20 -0800

[Revised entry by Richard Allen on May 23, 2017. Changes to: Bibliography] David Hartley (1705 - 57) is the author of Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duty, and his Expectations (1749) - a wide-ranging synthesis of neurology, moral psychology, and spirituality (i.e., our "frame," "duty," and "expectations"). The Observations gained dedicated advocates in Britain, America, and Continental Europe, who appreciated it both for its science and its spirituality. As science,...

Africana Philosophy

Tue, 23 May 2017 02:03:59 -0800

[Revised entry by Lucius T. Outlaw Jr. on May 23, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] "Africana philosophy" is the name for an emergent and still developing field of ideas and idea-spaces, intellectual endeavors, discourses, and discursive networks within and beyond academic philosophy that was recognized as such by national and international organizations of professional philosophers, including the American Philosophical Association, starting in the 1980s. Thus, the name does not refer to a particular philosophy, philosophical system,...

Lorenzo Valla

Mon, 22 May 2017 14:08:07 -0800

[Revised entry by Lodi Nauta on May 22, 2017. Changes to: Bibliography] Lorenzo Valla (c. 1406 - 1457) was one of the most important humanists of his time. In his Elegantiae linguae Latinae, an advanced handbook of Latin language and style, he gave the humanist program some of its most trenchant and combative formulations, bringing the study of Latin to an unprecedented level. He made numerous contributions to classical scholarship. But he also used his vast knowledge of the classical languages and their literatures as a tool...

The Unity of Consciousness

Fri, 19 May 2017 15:12:45 -0800

[Revised entry by Andrew Brook and Paul Raymont on May 19, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Human consciousness usually displays a striking unity. When one experiences a noise and, say, a pain, one is not conscious of the noise and then, separately, of the pain. One is conscious of the noise and pain together, as aspects of a single conscious experience. Since at least the time of Immanuel Kant (1781/7), this phenomenon has been called the unity of consciousness. More generally, it is consciousness not of A and, separately, of B and, separately, of C, but of...

Necessary and Sufficient Conditions

Thu, 18 May 2017 02:32:38 -0800

[Revised entry by Andrew Brennan on May 18, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] A handy tool in the search for precise definitions is the specification of necessary and/or sufficient conditions for the application of a term, the use of a concept, or the occurrence of some phenomenon or event. For example, without water and oxygen, there would be no human life; hence these things are necessary conditions for the existence of human beings. Cockneys, according to the traditional definition, are all and only those born within the sound...

Plural Quantification

Tue, 16 May 2017 03:53:19 -0800

[Revised entry by Øystein Linnebo on May 16, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Ordinary English contains different forms of quantification over objects. In addition to the usual singular quantification, as in (1) There is an apple on the table...

Medieval Political Philosophy

Tue, 16 May 2017 03:18:17 -0800

[Revised entry by John Kilcullen and Jonathan Robinson on May 16, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Medieval philosophy is the philosophy produced in Western Europe during the middle ages. There is no consensus, even among medievalists, as to when this period begins or ends;[1] however, it is conventional - and probably neither fully correct nor incorrect - to begin with Augustine (354 - 430), and note that the influence of medieval philosophy...

Arthur Schopenhauer

Thu, 11 May 2017 17:24:17 -0800

[Revised entry by Robert Wicks on May 11, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Arthur Schopenhauer was among the first 19th century philosophers to contend that at its core, the universe is not a rational place. Inspired by Plato and Kant, both of whom regarded the world as being more amenable to reason, Schopenhauer developed their philosophies into an instinct-recognizing and ultimately ascetic outlook, emphasizing that in the face of a world filled with endless strife, we ought to minimize our natural desires for the sake of achieving a more tranquil frame of mind and a disposition towards...

Galileo Galilei

Wed, 10 May 2017 17:15:40 -0800

[Revised entry by Peter Machamer on May 10, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642) has always played a key role in any history of science and, in many histories of philosophy, he is a, if not the, central figure of the scientific revolution of the 17th Century. His work in physics or natural philosophy, astronomy, and the methodology of science still evoke debate after over 400 years. His role in promoting the Copernican theory and his travails and trials with the Roman Church are stories that still...