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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: Fri, 16 Mar 2018 17:05:49 -0800

Last Build Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2018 17:05:49 -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.)

Explanation in Mathematics

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 17:00:24 -0800

[Revised entry by Paolo Mancosu on March 16, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The philosophical analysis of mathematical explanations concerns itself with two different, although connected, areas of investigation. The first area addresses the problem of whether mathematics can play an explanatory role in the natural and social sciences. The second deals with the problem of whether mathematical explanations occur within mathematics itself. Accordingly, this entry surveys the contributions to both areas, it shows their relevance to the history...

Pragmatic Arguments and Belief in God

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 17:00:27 -0800

[Revised entry by Jeff Jordan on March 15, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Pragmatic arguments have often been employed in support of theistic belief. Theistic pragmatic arguments are not arguments for the proposition that God exists; they are arguments that believing that God exists is rational. The most famous theistic pragmatic argument is Pascal's Wager. Though we touch on this argument briefly below, this entry focuses...


Thu, 15 Mar 2018 15:37:54 -0800

[Revised entry by James Blumenthal and James Apple on March 15, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Śāntarakṣita (725 - 788)[1] was one of the most important and pivotal thinkers in the history of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.[2] His contributions to Buddhist thought were particularly noteworthy due to his historical position as one of the later Indian...

Location and Mereology

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 16:42:52 -0800

[Revised entry by Cody Gilmore on March 12, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, arguments.html, location.html, notes.html] Substantivalists believe that there are regions of space or spacetime. Many substantivalists also believe that there are entities (people, tables, social groups, electrons, fields, holes, events, tropes, universals, ...) that are located at regions. These philosophers face questions about the relationship between located entities and the regions at which they are located. Are located entities identical to their locations, as supersubstantivalists maintain? Are they entirely separate from their...

Classical Logic

Sun, 11 Mar 2018 19:09:53 -0800

[Revised entry by Stewart Shapiro and Teresa Kouri Kissel on March 11, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Typically, a logic consists of a formal or informal language together with a deductive system and/or a model-theoretic semantics. The language has components that correspond to a part of a natural language like English or Greek. The deductive system is to capture, codify, or simply record arguments that are valid for the given language, and the semantics is to capture, codify, or record the meanings, or truth-conditions for at least part of the language....

Simone Weil

Sat, 10 Mar 2018 23:26:53 -0800

[New Entry by A. Rebecca Rozelle-Stone and Benjamin P. Davis on March 10, 2018.] Simone Weil (1909 - 1943) philosophized on thresholds and across borders. Her persistent desire for truth and justice led her to both elite academies and factory floors, political praxis and spiritual solitude. At different times she was an activist, a pacifist, a militant, a mystic, and an exile; but throughout, in her inquiry into reality and orientation to the good, she remained a philosopher. Her oeuvre features deliberate contradiction yet demonstrates remarkable clarity. It is value centered and integrated but not systematic. It...

Probabilistic Causation

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 14:11:26 -0800

[Revised entry by Christopher Hitchcock on March 9, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] "Probabilistic Causation" designates a group of theories that aim to characterize the relationship between cause and effect using the tools of probability theory. The central idea behind these theories is that causes change the probabilities of their effects. This article traces developments in probabilistic causation, including recent developments in causal modeling....

The Value of Knowledge

Wed, 07 Mar 2018 18:59:47 -0800

[Revised entry by Duncan Pritchard, John Turri, and J. Adam Carter on March 7, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The value of knowledge has always been a central topic within epistemology. Going all the way back to Plato's Meno, philosophers have asked, why is knowledge more valuable than mere true belief? Interest in this question has grown in recent years, with theorists proposing a range of answers. But some reject the premise of the question and claim that the value of knowledge is 'swamped' by the value of true belief. And others argue that statuses other than knowledge, such as justification or...


Wed, 07 Mar 2018 17:59:54 -0800

[Revised entry by Amie Thomasson on March 7, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] A system of categories is a complete list of highest kinds or genera. Traditionally, following Aristotle, these have been thought of as highest genera of entities (in the widest sense of the term), so that a system of categories undertaken in this realist spirit would ideally provide an inventory of everything there is, thus answering the most basic of metaphysical questions: "What is there?" Skepticism about our ability to discern a unique system of basic...

Early Philosophical Interpretations of General Relativity

Wed, 07 Mar 2018 17:37:11 -0800

[Revised entry by Thomas A. Ryckman on March 7, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Early philosophical interpretations of the general theory of relativity selected distinct aspects of that theory for favored recognition. Followers of Mach initially lauded Einstein's attempt to implement a "relativization of inertia" in the general theory, but ultimately were more comfortable with Einstein's operationalist treatment of the concept of distant simultaneity in the special theory. Kantians and neo-Kantians, if freed from strict fealty to the doctrines of the Transcendental...


Tue, 06 Mar 2018 21:12:37 -0800

[Revised entry by Charles Cross and Floris Roelofsen on March 6, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The philosophy of language since Frege has emphasized propositions and declarative sentences, but it is clear that questions and interrogative sentences are just as important. Scientific investigation and explanation proceed in part through the posing and answering of questions, and human-computer interaction is often structured in terms of queries and answers....

The Ethics of Belief

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 16:18:48 -0800

[Revised entry by Andrew Chignell on March 5, 2018. Changes to: Bibliography] The "ethics of belief" refers to a cluster of questions at the intersection of epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, and psychology. The central question in the debate is whether there are norms of some sort governing our habits of belief-formation, belief-maintenance, and belief-relinquishment. Is it ever or always morally wrong (or...

Kant's Transcendental Arguments

Fri, 02 Mar 2018 17:37:26 -0800

[Revised entry by Derk Pereboom on March 2, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Among Immanuel Kant's (1724 - 1804) most influential contributions to philosophy is his development of the transcendental argument. In Kant's conception, an argument of this kind begins with a compelling premise about our thought, experience, or knowledge, and then reasons to a conclusion that is a substantive and unobvious presupposition and necessary condition of this premise. The crucial steps in this reasoning are claims to the effect that a subconclusion...

Radulphus Brito

Fri, 02 Mar 2018 17:08:19 -0800

[New Entry by Ana María Mora-Márquez and Iacopo Costa on March 2, 2018.] Radulphus Brito (d 1320/21) was an important thirteenth-century master of arts at the University of Paris. He was part of the group of medieval masters who later came to be known as the modistae, principally because of their common appeal to the notion of modes of signifying (modi significandi) in their accounts of grammatical congruence. Brito's philosophical work is largely unexplored, even though it is a crucial link between the philosophical discussions of the thirteenth and the fourteenth centuries. Among...

Public Justification

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 20:27:54 -0800

[Revised entry by Kevin Vallier on March 1, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Some political philosophers and theorists place a requirement of public justification on the permissible use of state coercion or political power. According to these theorists the recognition of citizens as free and equal moral persons requires that coercion be justified for or to others by their own lights, or with reasons that they could recognize as valid. On this view, a public justification is achieved when members of the relevant public have adequate or sufficient reason to endorse a particular coercive proposal, law or...