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Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

This channel provides information about new and revised entries as they are published in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Published: Thu, 19 Jan 2017 19:20:49 -0800

Last Build Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2017 19:20:49 -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.)

Herbert Spencer

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 19:20:35 -0800

[Revised entry by David Weinstein on January 19, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Herbert Spencer (1820 - 1903) is typically, though quite wrongly, considered a coarse social Darwinist. After all, Spencer, and not Darwin, coined the infamous expression "survival of the fittest", leading G. E. Moore to conclude erroneously in Principia Ethica (1903) that Spencer committed the naturalistic fallacy. According to Moore, Spencer's practical reasoning was deeply flawed insofar as he purportedly conflated mere survivability (a natural property) with goodness itself (a non-natural...

Alexander of Aphrodisias

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 18:48:34 -0800

[Revised entry by Dorothea Frede on January 19, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Alexander was a Peripatetic philosopher and commentator, active in the late second and early third century CE. He continued the tradition of writing close commentaries on Aristotle's work established in the first century BCE by Andronicus of Rhodes, the editor of Aristotle's 'esoteric' writings, which were designed for use in his school only. This tradition reflected a gradual revival of interest in Aristotle's philosophy, beginning in the late second century BCE, and helped to reestablish Aristotle as an active presence in philosophical...

The Philosophy of Computer Science

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 18:19:41 -0800

[Revised entry by Raymond Turner and Nicola Angius on January 19, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The philosophy of computer science is concerned with those ontological, methodological, and ethical issues that arise from within the academic discipline of computer science as well as from the practice of software development. Thus, the philosophy of computer science shares the same philosophical goals as the philosophy of mathematics and the many subfields of the philosophy of science, such as the philosophy of biology or the philosophy of the social sciences. The philosophy of computer science also considers the analysis of...

Constructive Empiricism

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 19:35:46 -0800

[Revised entry by Bradley Monton and Chad Mohler on January 17, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Constructive empiricism is the version of scientific anti-realism promulgated by Bas van Fraassen in his famous book The Scientific Image (1980). Van Fraassen defines the view as follows: Science aims to give us theories which are empirically adequate; and...

Religion and Science

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 17:37:15 -0800

[Revised entry by Helen De Cruz on January 17, 2017. Changes to: 0] [Editor's Note: The following new entry by Helen De Cruz replaces the former entry on this topic by the previous author.] The relationship between religion and science is the subject of continued debate in philosophy and theology. To what extent are religion and science compatible? Are religious beliefs sometimes...

The Repugnant Conclusion

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 21:34:14 -0800

[Revised entry by Gustaf Arrhenius, Jesper Ryberg, and Torbjörn Tännsjö on January 16, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] In Derek Parfit's original formulation the Repugnant Conclusion is stated as follows: "For any possible population of at least ten billion people, all with a very high quality of life, there must be some much larger imaginable population whose existence, if other things are equal, would be better even though its members have lives that are barely worth living" (Parfit 1984). The Repugnant Conclusion highlights a problem in an area of ethics which has become known as population ethics. The last three decades have...

Feminist Aesthetics

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 19:36:56 -0800

[Revised entry by Carolyn Korsmeyer on January 12, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] "Feminist aesthetics" does not label a variety of aesthetics in the way that, for example, the terms "virtue theory" and "naturalized epistemology" qualify types of ethics and theories of knowledge. Rather, to refer to feminist aesthetics is to identify a set of perspectives that pursue certain questions about philosophical theories and assumptions regarding art and aesthetic categories. Feminists in general have concluded that, despite the seemingly neutral and inclusive theoretical language of...

Games, Full Abstraction and Full Completeness

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 18:12:46 -0800

[New Entry by Felice Cardone on January 12, 2017.] Computer programs are particular kinds of texts. It is therefore natural to ask what is the meaning of a program or, more generally, how can we set up a formal semantical account of a programming language. There are many possible answers to such questions, each motivated by some particular aspect of programs. So, for instance, the fact that...


Wed, 11 Jan 2017 19:08:04 -0800

[Revised entry by Russell Dancy on January 11, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Xenocrates (of Chalcedon, a city on the Asian side of the Bosporus opposite Byzantium, according to Diogenes Laertius (D.L.) iv 14), became head of the Academy after Speusippus died, in 339/338 ("in the second year of the 110th Olympiad"). D.L. says he held that position for twenty-five years, and died at 82. So his dates work out to 396/395 - 314/313....

John Rawls

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 18:16:09 -0800

[Revised entry by Leif Wenar on January 9, 2017. Changes to: Bibliography] John Rawls (b. 1921, d. 2002) was an American political philosopher in the liberal tradition. His theory of justice as fairness describes a society of free citizens holding equal basic rights and cooperating within an egalitarian economic system. His theory of political liberalism delineates the legitimate use of political power in a democracy, and envisions how civic unity might endure despite the diversity of worldviews that free institutions allow. His writings on the law of peoples set out a liberal...

Political Representation

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 19:20:13 -0800

[Revised entry by Suzanne Dovi on January 6, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The concept of political representation is misleadingly simple: everyone seems to know what it is, yet few can agree on any particular definition. In fact, there is an extensive literature that offers many different definitions of this elusive concept. [Classic treatments of the concept of political representations within this literature include Pennock and Chapman 1968; Pitkin, 1967 and Schwartz, 1988.] Hanna Pitkin (1967) provides, perhaps, one of the most straightforward definitions: to represent is simply to "make present...

Frederick Douglass

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 18:41:34 -0800

[Revised entry by Ronald Sundstrom on January 6, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Frederick Douglass (c. 1817 - 1895) is a central figure in United States and African American history.[1] He was born a slave, circa 1817;[2] his mother was a Negro slave and his father was reputed to be his white master. Douglass escaped from slavery in 1838 and rose to become a principal leader and spokesperson for the U.S. Abolition movement....

Charles Hartshorne

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 18:06:59 -0800

[Revised entry by Dan Dombrowski on January 6, 2017. Changes to: Bibliography] Charles Hartshorne (pronounced Harts-horne) is considered by many philosophers to be one of the most important philosophers of religion and metaphysicians of the twentieth century. Although Hartshorne often criticized the metaphysics of substance found in medieval philosophy, he was very much like medieval thinkers in developing a philosophy that was theocentric. Throughout his career he defended the rationality of theism and for several decades was almost alone in...

Zeno of Elea

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 19:04:04 -0800

[Revised entry by John Palmer on January 5, 2017. Changes to: Bibliography] Zeno of Elea, 5th c. B.C.E. thinker, is known exclusively for propounding a number of ingenious paradoxes. The most famous of these purport to show that motion is impossible by bringing to light apparent or latent contradictions in ordinary assumptions regarding its occurrence. Zeno also argued against the commonsense assumption that there are many things by showing in various ways how it, too, leads to contradiction. We may never know just what led Zeno to...

Malebranche's Theory of Ideas and Vision in God

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 18:32:06 -0800

[Revised entry by Lawrence Nolan on January 5, 2017. Changes to: Bibliography] The seventeenth-century French philosopher Nicolas Malebranche (1638 - 1715) famously argued that 'we see all things in God.' This doctrine of 'Vision in God' is intended as an account both of sense perception of material things and of the purely intellectual cognition of mathematical objects and abstract truths. The theological motivation for this doctrine is clear: Vision in God places us in immediate contact with God in our everyday...