Philosophy after Objectivity: Making Sense in Perspective

Overview

Since the beginning of philosophy, philosophers have sought objective knowledge: knowledge of things whose existence does not depend on one's conceiving of them. This book uses lessons from debates over objective knowledge to characterize the kinds of reasons pertinent to philosophical and other theoretical views. It argues that we cannot meet skeptics' typical demands for nonquestion-begging support for claims to objective truth, and that therefore we should not regard our supporting reasons as resistant to ...

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Overview

Since the beginning of philosophy, philosophers have sought objective knowledge: knowledge of things whose existence does not depend on one's conceiving of them. This book uses lessons from debates over objective knowledge to characterize the kinds of reasons pertinent to philosophical and other theoretical views. It argues that we cannot meet skeptics' typical demands for nonquestion-begging support for claims to objective truth, and that therefore we should not regard our supporting reasons as resistant to skeptical challenges. One key lesson is that a constructive, explanatory approach to philosophy must change the subject from skeptic-resistant reasons to perspectival reasons arising from variable semantic commitments and instrumental, purpose-relative considerations. The book lays foundations for such a reorientation of philosophy, treating fundamental methodological issues in ontology, epistemology, the theory of meaning, the philosophy of mind, and the theory of practical rationality. It explains how certain perennial debates in philosophy rest not on genuine disagreement, but on conceptual diversity: talk about different matters. The book shows how acknowledgment of conceptual diversity can resolve a range of traditional disputes in philosophy. It also explains why philosophers need not anchor their discipline in the physicalism of the natural sciences.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Moser's book should draw a large response. It deserves careful study by epistemologists, metaphysicians, and anyone interested in the philosophy of language."--The Review of Metaphysics

"With this work, Paul Moser's philosophy appears to have taken a quite significant and decidedly postmodern turn....This book is an excellent and wide-ranging work that tackles deep issues in metaphilosophy, and brings to certain 'postmodern' themes the precision and clarity of an outstanding analytic philosopher."--The Philosophical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195130942
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Objectivity and Relativity in Philosophy 3
1 Ontology, Evidence, and Philosophical Questions 19
1.1 What the Greeks Wrought 19
1.2 Realism versus Conceptualism 21
1.3 Essences and Conceptual Taking 24
1.4 Realism, Criteria, and Modes of Existence 30
1.5 Realism and How Things Are 33
1.6 Aristotelian Essence-Realism 37
1.7 An Epistemological Problem 41
1.8 Philosophy after Agnosticism 57
2 Justification, Meta-Epistemology, and Meaning 60
2.1 Three Epistemological Projects 60
2.2 An Epistemological Dilemma: Naivete or Circularity? 63
2.3 Semantic Foundationalism 75
2.4 Objections and Metaphilosophical Lessons 91
2.5 Two Epistemological Extremes 100
2.6 A General Epistemological Moral 104
3 Meaning, Interpretation, and Analyticity 106
3.1 Ways of Meaning 106
3.2 Rules, Regularities, and Social Agreements 108
3.3 Semantic Interpretationism 114
3.4 Correctness in Use 132
3.5 Whither Analyticity? 138
3.6 Standards for Analyticity: Carnap versus Quine 140
3.7 Analyticity Regained 144
3.8 Analyticity in Epistemology 147
4 Reasons, Truth, and Relativism 152
4.1 Concepts of Truth 153
4.2 Concepts of Reasons 160
4.3 The Fate of Relativism 165
4.4 Practical Ideals and Practical Relevance 168
4.5 Purposive Reasons and a Multiplicity Problem 173
4.6 Conceptual Instrumentalism 182
5 Physicalism, Action, and Explanation 188
5.1 Is Physicalism Coherent? 190
5.2 Nonreductive Physicalism and Supervenience 199
5.3 Physicalism and Action Theory 208
5.4 Whither Philosophy? 226
Appendix: Charity, Interpretation, and Truth 228
References 239
Index 253
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