Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Lying and Insincerity

2019.05.19 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Andreas Stokke, Lying and Insincerity, Oxford University Press, 2018, 246pp., $55.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198825968. Reviewed by Paul Égré, Institut Jean Nicod/ENS "La parole a été donnée à l'homme pour cacher sa pensée". Speech was given to man to conceal his thoughts. So writes Stendhal in an epigraph in The Red and the Black (chap. 22), crediting the Jesuit Father Gabriel Malagrida for the witty remark. Although this apocryphal citation is not included in Andreas Stokke's book, it may nicely serve to adorn and to describe Stokke's topic. He offers a brilliant and comprehensive study of the various ways in which language use allows us to be insincere: to express thoughts that we do not believe to be true (alternatively, to refrain from expressing thoughts we believe to be true, though the book puts less emphasis on that aspect).

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Is There An Objective Morality?

The U.S. introduced a nationwide ban on alcohol in 1920 with the Eighteenth Amendment, and repealed the ban 13 years later with the passage of the Twenty-first Amendment.  Much has been made about prohibitions against representations of the Prophet Muhammed in Wahabbist Islam, but there exist numerous examples of Islamic art from the past which freely contain such representations. Furthermore, the history of Christianity is itself replete with examples of people like John Calvin, who not only banned representations of God, but dancing as well, and was not a fan of music.Extreme disagreements over what people consider morally permissible exist, yet despite all the recognised historical variation in conceptions of morality, people generally hold their moral beliefs to be correct. Stepping back and taking an anthropological point of view, we seem to be wired to have the capacity for morality, while allowing for variability in what is understood to be moral. What’s going on?  Is it the [More]

The Fifth Corner of Four: An Essay on Buddhist Metaphysics and the Catuṣkoṭi

2019.05.18 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Graham Priest, The Fifth Corner of Four: An Essay on Buddhist Metaphysics and the Catuṣkoṭi, Oxford University Press, 2018, 172pp., $60.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198758716. Reviewed by Mark Siderits, Seoul National University (Emeritus) This is a book about the catuṣkoṭi or tetralemma, a device used by some classical Indian philosophers and then exported to China in Buddhist shipping containers. Like its shorter cousin, the dilemma, the tetralemma purports to give all the possible stances one could take with respect to a proposition of the form 's is P'. But it has four points (koṭi) rather than just the two, affirmation and negation, of the dilemma, due to the addition of 'both' and 'neither'. Graham Priest follows the development of this device from its earliest Buddhist appearance, in certain of the Buddha's teachings, through its efflorescence in the Madhyamaka school of Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism, its role in Jain perspectivalism, and its place in the... Read [More]

Church’s Type Theory

[Revised entry by Christoph Benzmüller and Peter Andrews on May 21, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Church's type theory, aka simple type theory, is a formal logical language which includes classical first-order and propositional logic, but is more expressive in a practical sense. It is used, with some modifications and enhancements, in most modern applications of type theory. It is particularly well suited to the formalization of mathematics and other disciplines and to specifying and verifying hardware and software. It also plays an important role in the study of the formal semantics of natural language. [More]