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VOLUME LXXII, Number 2

December 2018

 

MARIO BUNGE, Chance: Individual Indeterminacy or Collective Randomness?

OWEN GOLDIN, Ancient Atomism and Digital Philosophy

What is it for a philosophical account to be atomist? What is the attraction of an atomistic metaphysics? These questions are best approached by considering representative varieties of atomism. The present paper offers a preliminary account of atomism in general and then, in order to shed light on atomism in general and its appeal, considers two very different varieties of atomism: that of Democritus (as understood by Aristotle) and that of Fredkin’s “digital ontology.” Atomistic accounts are philosophically attractive for two related reasons. First, on an atomistic account, the units of explanation are determinate, and for that reason are in principle ultimately intelligible, as are the complexes derived from them. Both examples of atomism that the author takes as examples display these features. Second, atomism is reductionistic. Ancient atomism has this feature, but it is not an inevitable result of an atomistic strategy. It is absent from Fredkin’s digital ontology.

David mCneill, Akratic Ignorance and Endoxic Inquiry

Aristotle claims in the Metaphysics that in order to be resourceful in first philosophic inquiry it is useful to go through perplexity well. In this essay, the author argues that that perplexity plays a parallel role in Aristotle’s account of practical, deliberative inquiry in the Nicomachean Ethics. He does so by offering an interpretation of the relation between Aristotle’s account of akratic ignorance in Nicomachean Ethics 7 and his emphasis on the necessity of going through perplexity when inquiring into akrasia. Along the way, the author tries to shed some additional light on Aristotle’s conception of endoxa, his account of the so-called practical syllogism, and the distinction between ethical virtue simply and “authoritative” virtue. But the intention throughout the essay is to examine the role that perplexity about the phenomena of ethical life plays in Aristotle’s account of the kind of thoughtfulness required for excellence of character.

MICHAEL BARKER, kant’s Maxim for Judging Organisms

In §66 of the Critique of the Teleological Power of Judgment, Kant presents a maxim for judging organisms. The maxim is a hybrid of empirical and a priori elements: Kant claims that though it is derived from experience, it asserts universality and necessity. The author substantiates the maxim and account for its hybrid nature by reconstructing Kant’s view, anchoring it in the text of and philosophical positions from neighboring sections of the Analytic. The reconstruction exposes a proper role for reflective judgment, and for a relation between reason and the faculty of understanding; it shows how Kant’s conception of organisms and species concepts, his general conception of matter, and the systematicity of his conceptual hierarchy are fundamental to justifying the maxim.

W. Clark Wolf, Rethinking Hegel’s Conceptual Realism

Readers of Hegel are frequently impressed by his seemingly idiosyncratic use of the term “the concept” (der Begriff) throughout his works. A recent wave of interpreters have held to a “conceptual realist” view, according to which Hegel uses this term to refer either to the monistic structure of reality or to indwelling essences of natural entities. In this essay, the author offers a way to avoid these conceptions of Hegel’s conceptual realism by explaining his view of the “isomorphism” between concepts and the world. The isomorphism recommended, however, is metaphysically deflationary, for Hegel’s conception of conceptual form creates a conceptually internal standard for the adequacy of concepts; it depends on his view of the negative relations between concepts and the objects they represent. This standard of conceptual adequacy is also “graduated” in that it allows for a lack of fit between concept and world. Nevertheless, the possibility for a “maximally isomorphic” fit between concept and world obtains through the teleological realization of concepts, which marks especially the world of human culture (law, art, religion, and so on). The author contends that some of the most seemingly exaggerated claims Hegel makes about the concept can be understood when we consider the significance Hegel ascribes to human making, which offers the best cases of maximally isomorphic concepts. But the framework here provides an interpretive key for the way Hegel sees concepts imperfectly realized in the natural world as well.