This anthology of essays on the work of David Kaplan, a leading contemporary philosopher of language, sprang from a conference, "Themes from Kaplan," organized by the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University.
A distinction is developed between two uses of definite descriptions, the "attributive" and the "referential." the distinction exists even in the same sentence. several criteria are given for making the distinction. it is suggested that both russell's and strawson's theories fail to deal with this distinction, although some of the things russell says about genuine proper names can be said about the referential use of definite descriptions. it is argued that the presupposition or implication that something fits the description, present (...) in both uses, has a different genesis depending upon whether the description is used referentially or attributively. this distinction in use seems not to depend upon any syntactic or semantic ambiguity. it is also suggested that there is a distinction between what is here called "referring" and what russell defines as denoting. definite descriptions may denote something, according to his definition, whether used attributively or referentially. (shrink)
In this volume of essays, Howard Wettstein explores the foundations of religious commitment. His orientation is broadly naturalistic, but not in the mode of reductionism or eliminativism. This collection explores questions of broad religious interest, but does so through a focus on the author's religious tradition, Judaism. Among the issues explored are the nature and role of awe, ritual, doctrine, religious experience; the distinction between belief and faith; problems of evil and suffering with special attention to the Book of Job (...) and to the Akedah, the biblical story of the binding of Isaac; the virtue of forgiveness. One of the book's highlights is its literary approach to theology that at the same time makes room for philosophical exploration of religion. Another is Wettstein's rejection of the usual picture that sees religious life as sitting atop a distinctive metaphysical foundation, one that stands in need of epistemological justification. (shrink)
The late 20th century saw great movement in the philosophy of language, often critical of the fathers of the subject-Gottlieb Frege and Bertrand Russell-but sometimes supportive of (or even defensive about) the work of the fathers. Howard Wettstein's sympathies lie with the critics. But he says that they have often misconceived their critical project, treating it in ways that are technically focused and that miss the deeper implications of their revolutionary challenge. Wettstein argues that Wittgenstein-a figure with whom the critics (...) of Frege and Russell are typically unsympathetic-laid the foundation for much of what is really revolutionary in this late 20th century movement. The subject itself should be of great interest, since philosophy of language has functioned as a kind of foundation for much of 20th century philosophy. But in fact it remains a subject for specialists, since the ideas are difficult and the mode of presentation is often fairly technical. In this book, Wettstein brings the non-specialist into the conversation (especially in early chapters); he also reconceives the debate in a way that avoids technical formulation. The Magic Prism is intended for professional philosophers, graduate students, and upper division undergraduates. (shrink)
The nature of reference, or the relation of a word to the object to which it refers, has been perhaps the dominant concern of twentieth-century analytic philosophy. Extremely influential arguments by Gottlob Frege around the turn of the century convinced the large majority of philosophers that the meaning of a word must be distinguished from its referent, the former only providing some kind of direction for reaching the latter. In the last twenty years, this Fregean orthodoxy has been vigorously challenged (...) by those who argue that certain important kinds of words, at least, refer directly without need of an intermediate meaning or sense. The essays in this volume record how a long-term study of Frege has persuaded the author that Frege's pivotal distinction between sense and reference, and his attendant philosophical views about language and thought, are unsatisfactory. Frege's perspective, he argues, imposes a distinctive way of thinking about semantics, specifically about the centrality of cognitive significance puzzles for semantics. Freed from Frege's perspective, we will no longer find it natural to think about semantics in this way. (shrink)
Charles Griswold’s seminal work, Forgiveness, is the focus of the present essay. Following Griswold, I distinguish the relevant virtue of character from something that is more like an act or process. The paper discusses a number of hesitations I have about Griswold’s analysis, at the level both of detail and of underlying conception.
Wittgenstein speaks of the fog that surrounds the workings of language. Our ways of thinking about reference contribute generously to the fog. While a full discussion would constitute a book-length project, my aims here are quite limited. I want to have a look at the idea that reference is a relation between a piece of language and a piece of reality. The idea might seem unexceptional and unexceptionable; names, for example, name things, and “relation” seems just right. But there is (...) casual relation-talk, and then more serious talk of a genuine relation, one that requires the existence, in every case, of a referent. Referential expressions, I’ll argue, sometimes lack such a relatum, and other timeswhen in some straightforward way there is such a thingit’s quite difficult to know what we are talking about. (shrink)
The problem of theodicy is a philosophical classic. I argue that not only are the classical answers suspect, but that the question itself is problematic. In its classical form, the problem presupposes a conception of divinity—call it “perfect-being theology”—that does not go without saying. Even so, there is a significant gap between what the Western religions tell us about the reign of justice and what we seem to find in the world. I argue that approaches to evil need to maintain (...) focus on this discrepancy. I conclude with some suggestions for the shape of “nonopiate” ways of coming to terms with evil. (shrink)
It has long been urged against traditional theism, very long indeed, that God’s perfections—specifically in the domains of goodness, knowledge and power—are logically incompatible with the existence of unwarranted human suffering. It has almost equally long been urged that the problem is illusory—or at least surmountable; the tradition of theodicy must be only moments younger than the problem. The debate is a philosophical classic, with many ingenious moves on both sides, and epicycles galore. But whatever one’s view on the details (...) of the debate, it is difficult—and I think unwise—to resist the sense that evil presents a real and indeed substantial problem for the Western religious tradition. (shrink)
This collection of essays focuses on a current issue of central important in contemporary philosophy, the relationship between philosophy and empirical studies. Explores in detail a range of examples which demonstrate how the older paradigm – philosophy as conceptual analysis – is giving way to a more varied set of models of philosophical work Each of the featured papers is a previously unpublished contribution by a major scholar.
Analytic philosophy was born from philosophic reflection on logic and mathematics. It has been at its strongest in these and related domains of reflection, domains that are friendly to definition and analytic clarity. From time to time, analytic philosophers, some very distinguished, have produced fine work on literature and the arts. But these areas remain underexplored in the analytic tradition. This volume is focused upon language that does not fit within the usual analytic paradigms. It's highlights include two pieces of (...) original poetry on philosophic subjects, and philosophic reflection on poetry, literature more generally, metaphor, and related subjects. (shrink)
This Volume illuminates the notion of meaning in the arts-in literature, painting, music, and dance. Specific topics include theory in the arts; interpretations of meaning; objectivity in meaning; and the consumer as a participant in art. Brings together articles from prominent philosophers and practitioners of the arts, which illuminate the notion of meaning in the arts. Addresses meaning in literature, painting, music, and dance. Explores the relationship between authorial intentions and the viewer's interpretation of meaning; the possibility (or impossibility) of (...) objective meaning; and the role of the consumer as a participant in the work of art. (shrink)
The essays in this volume explore various issues pertaining to human agency, such as the relationship between free will and causal determinism, and the nature and conditions of moral responsibility. Builds on and extends some of the very best recent work in the field. Features lively and vigorous debate. Forges connections between abstract philosophical theorizing and applied work in neuroscience and even criminal law.
Truth and Its Deformities is the 32nd volume in the Midwest Studies in Philosophy series. It contains major new contributions on a range of topics related to the general theme of the volume by some of the most important philosophers writing on truth in recent years.
Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Volume XXIV, Life and Death: Metaphysics and Ethics is an important contribution to the literature on the intersection of issues of metaphysics and issues of ethics. In the Midwest Studies tradition, twenty of the more important philosophers writing in this area have contributed original papers that extend the boundaries of philosophical discussion of issues that are of both theoretical and practical concern to a wide-ranging audience. Topics considered include the concept of human life, the relationship between (...) the concept of personal identity and the understanding of death, normative appraisals of death, capital punishment, euthanasia, the postponement of death and the impact of a theory of death and afterlife on one's ethical perspective. (shrink)
In this volume leading contemporary philosophical historians of the Renaissance and Early Modern periods examine the works of important figures of the fifteenth through the eighteenth century. While Midwest Studies in Philosophy has produced other volumes devoted to historical periods in philosophy, this is the first to offer such extensive and focused original materials on specific crucial figures as this volume. Original papers by twenty contemporary philosophers writing about the works of the major philosophers of the Fifteenth through the Eighteenth (...) centuries This historically and philosophically broad collection extends from such fifteenth century figures as Ficino, Machiavelli, and Pompanazzi to the work of Montesquieu in the eighteenth century. (shrink)
This Volume illuminates the notion of meaning in the arts-in literature, painting, music, and dance. Specific topics include theory in the arts; interpretations of meaning; objectivity in meaning; and the consumer as a participant in art. Brings together articles from prominent philosophers and practitioners of the arts, which illuminate the notion of meaning in the arts. Addresses meaning in literature, painting, music, and dance. Explores the relationship between authorial intentions and the viewer's interpretation of meaning; the possibility of objective meaning; (...) and the role of the consumer as a participant in the work of art. (shrink)
Philosophy and Poetry is the 33rd volume in the Midwest Studies in Philosophy series. It begins with contributions in verse from two world class poets, JohnAshbery and Stephen Dunn, and an article by Dunn on the creative processthat issued in his poem. The volume features new work from an internationalcollection of philosophers exploring central philosophical issues pertinent topoetry as well as the connections between the two domains.
The 21 essays collected in this volume of Midwest Studies in Philosophy question and debate the primary assumptions of science. These are its conception of an orderly universe; its ability to define; and its ability to explain. The contributors approach these topics from varying perspectives, including the historic development of our understanding of the scientific enterprise; the controversy of opposing paradigms; and the challenges raised by quantum mechanics.