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Fictionalism in Philosophy

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2020.05.19 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Bradley Armour-Garb and Frederick Kroon (eds.), Fictionalism in Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 2020, 237pp., $85.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780190689605. Reviewed by Zoltán Gendler Szabó, Yale University One day Winnie-the-Pooh decided to give Eeyore a birthday present. He picked up a small jar of honey from his pantry and took off towards the stream where Eeyore was. It was a warm day and a long way to go. About halfway Winnie felt that it was time for a little something and was delighted to find that he actually had a little something with him. He sat down, opened the jar, and only after the last lick did the consequences of his snack dawn on him. For a while he did not know what to do, but then he had a brilliant idea: "Well, it's a very nice pot, even if there's no honey in it, and if I washed it... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

Luca Incurvati’s Conceptions of Set, 13

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Among other things, I need to get more answers to the exercises in IFL2 online before publication, and that’s a ridiculously time-consuming task, which is no doubt why I’ve been rather putting it off! Doing some of the needed work partly explains the hiatus in getting back to Luca’s book. But there’s another reason for the delay too. I’ve found it quite difficult to arrive at a clear view of the second half of his Chapter 6 on NF. However, I must move on, so these remarks will remain tentative: Early on, in §1.8, Luca distinguished what he called logical and combinatorial conceptions of set. And now in §6.7, he tells us that NF can be treated as a theory of logical collections. It is a familiar claim that some such distinction between logical and combinatorial collections is to be made. And it seems tolerably clear at least how to make a start on elaborating a combinatorial conception: the initial idea is that, take any objects, however assorted and however arbitrarily selected they might be, they can be combined to form a set with just those objects as members. And then it is reasonable to argue that the iterative conception of set is a natural development of this idea. It is much less clear, however, even how to make a start on elaborating the so-called logical conception. Let’s pause over this again before turning to the details of §6.7. In §1.8, Luca suggests “Membership in a logical collection is determined by the satisfaction of the relevant condition, falling under the relevant concept or having the relevant property. Membership is, in a sense, derivative: we can say that an object a is a member of a [logical] collection b just in case b is the extension of some predicate, concept, or property that applies to a.” But are there going to be enough actual predicates (linguistic items) to go around to give us the sets we want? Which language supplies the predicates? If we say ‘a logical set is the extension of a possible predicate’ then we are owed an account of. . .

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News source: Logic Matters

Three months later, Florence restarts. But not quite

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The owners of a shoe repair shop in Florence (*). In this picture, taken just after the end of the coronavirus lockdown, they are preparing to reopen their shop. They look happy, even euphoric. Time will tell if that optimism was justified.The epidemic is almost over in Italy. After almost three painful months of lockdown and the loss of about 30.000 lives, the daily number of victims of the coronavirus is slowly dwindling to zero. In a couple of weeks at most, the epidemic will be completely gone. It is time to restart, but the damage has been terrible.The lockdown is over and the Florentines are back, walking in the streets, wearing face masks, but free to go wherever they want, provided that they don't form groups ("assembramenti"). A few tourists can be seen, slowly walking around, a little bewildered. Many shops have reopened, but not all of them -- maybe 30% are still closed. For what I could see this morning downtown, all the open shops are empty of customers. The restaurants also look empty. The buses are nearly empty, too. Here is a picture taken this morning, with me and my wife the only passengers of a bus that used to be packed full before the epidemic. Note the signs saying "You cannot sit here!" They don't seem to be necessary, given the situation.To pass to you some idea of the somber atmosphere in Florence these days, here are two fragments of conversations I had or witnessed in the street. Maybe these people are too pessimistic, but I have a feeling that they have correctly evaluated the situation. ___________________________First, an exchange I overheard a few days ago while waiting in line at the entrance of a supermarket. I don't know the names of the protagonists, two men in their 50s. The one who said he had a shop I recognized later standing at the entrance of a small clothing shop in Via Romana, in Florence. I am reporting from memory, but the gist of what they said is there - Hello. How have you been doing? I haven't seen you around,. . .

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News source: Cassandra's Legacy

Mental Causation: A Counterfactual Theory

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2020.05.18 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Thomas Kroedel, Mental Causation: A Counterfactual Theory, Cambridge University Press, 2020, 224pp., $99.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781108487146. Reviewed by Umut Baysan, University of Oxford In this relatively short book, Thomas Kroedel has two central goals: (i) to propose and defend a theory of causation; (ii) to show how mental causation is possible. Regarding (i), as the title suggests, we are given a counterfactual theory of causation, supported with auxiliary theories concerning metaphysics of events and semantics of counterfactual conditionals. As to (ii), by "mental causation", Kroedel really means "causation of physical effects by mental causes" (p. 1), so he is not interested in cases where mental events cause other mental events. Focusing on the mental-to-physical cases, Kroedel explores what various views in contemporary metaphysics of mind imply about the possibility of mental causation. Mental causation -- in particular causation of physical effects by mental causes... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

Kantian Conceptualism/Nonconceptualism

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[New Entry by Colin McLear on May 27, 2020.] One of the central areas of dispute in the reception of Kant's critical philosophy concerns his distinction between the cognitive faculties of sensibility (Sinnlichkeit) and intellect (Verstand), and their characteristic representational outputs - viz. intuition (Anschauung) and concept (Begriff). Though the dispute is multi-faceted, it centers on disagreement concerning the interpretation of Kant's conception of the contribution made by the higher cognitive faculties (or the...

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News source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Don’t Do Unto Others As You Will

I recall, as a kid, watching one of the many episodes of the popular sitcom All In The Family. Edgy and polarizing for the time, the show dealt with hot-button topics through clever writing and comedy—including hilarious, misinformed comments about religion and faith. Phrases such as, “Don’t you remember the story of Abel hitting his brother over the head with a cane?” have stuck with me to this day.

Another moral lesson, given by the patriarch Archie Bunker who was the caricatured retiree, explained the Golden Rule as the axiom, “Do unto others as you will.” This amusing version fit the character’s self-absorbed approach to just about everything. That version of the ancient phrase juxtaposed with the proper wording, “do to others as you want them to do to you” illustrates the lesson of the idea nicely.

There have been many interpretations of the Golden Rule and whole books have been written about how to understand and apply it (one of my favorites is The Golden Rule  (affiliate link) by Jeffrey Wattles which goes into the fascinating history of the phrase). I’ve come to understand the phrase as guiding me to treat others in the same way I would like to be treated and to avoid doing to others what I don’t want done to me.

The Golden Rule can serve as a nice go-to in most daily interactions. While its application can be difficult and ambiguous at times, it also can help cut through the challenging morass of human interaction that we face each day. Here’s how the rule helps me.

It gets me past action paralysis. I’m an over thinker. I spend far too much time thinking through the “most optimized” way to do something or the “right” way to handle a situation and, in many cases, this over thinking causes me to not act at all. By using my own desires and emotions as a guide for how I should treat others, I get past the analysis paralysis, act, and get on to enjoying the people I’m with.

It helps me understand what I want and need. A key, underlying assumption in the Golden Rule is that we know how we want to be treated. When intentionally trying to apply the rule, I was surprised to find how uninformed I was about my own beliefs and desires. When faced with a decision for how I should treat another person, the Golden Rule forced me to think about what it would be like to be in their situation and what I would want. That has helped me to clarify my own perspective on the world and has made treating others more intuitively in the process.

It helps me learn what others want and need. If you know another person is trying to apply the Golden Rule, you can learn a great deal about what they care about. If you discover that you and the other person care about different things, that can be really helpful information. Over time you can adjust how you both behave or you’ll learn that you’re too far apart and may need to change the relationship over time (particularly when that relationship is a close one like a partner, friend, or working relationship).

While we may not want to treat the Golden Rule as a rule per se, it can serve as a good guide for interacting with others. Try it for a few days and see how it not only can change your relationships but also change how you think about your own beliefs and desires. You may be surprise what you find.

Spinoza’s Psychological Theory

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[Revised entry by Michael LeBuffe on May 26, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] In Part III of his Ethics, "On the Origin and Nature of the Affects," which is the subject of this article, Spinoza addresses two of the most serious challenges facing his thoroughgoing naturalism. First, he attempts to show that human beings follow the order of nature. Human beings, on Spinoza's view, have causal natures similar in kind to other ordinary objects, other "finite modes" in the technical language of the Ethics, so they...

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News source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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