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Descartes's Method of Doubt

Janet Broughton

Descartes thought that we could achieve absolute certainty by starting with radical doubt. He adopts this strategy in the Meditations on First Philosophy, where he raises sweeping doubts with the famous dream argument and the hypothesis of an evil demon. But why did Descartes think we should take these exaggerated doubts seriously? And if we do take them seriously, how did he think any of our beliefs could ever escape them? Janet Broughton undertakes a close study of Descartes's first three meditations to answer these questions and to present a fresh way of understanding precisely what Descartes was up to.

Broughton first contrasts Descartes's doubts with those of the ancient skeptics, arguing that Cartesian doubt has a novel structure and a distinctive relation to the commonsense outlook of everyday life. She then argues that Descartes pursues absolute certainty by uncovering the conditions that make his radical doubt possible. She gives a unified account of how Descartes uses this strategy, first to find certainty about his own existence and then to argue that God exists. Drawing on this analysis, Broughton provides a new way to understand Descartes's insistence that he hasn't argued in a circle, and she measures his ambitions against those of contemporary philosophers who use transcendental arguments in their efforts to defeat skepticism. The book is a powerful contribution both to the history of philosophy and to current debates in epistemology.

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Entailment, Vol. II

The Logic of Relevance and Necessity

Alan Ross Anderson

In spite of a powerful tradition, more than two thousand years old, that in a valid argument the premises must be relevant to the conclusion, twentieth-century logicians neglected the concept of relevance until the publication of Volume I of this monumental work. Since that time relevance logic has achieved an important place in the field of philosophy: Volume II of Entailment brings to a conclusion a powerful and authoritative presentation of the subject by most of the top people working in the area. Originally the aim of Volume II was simply to cover certain topics not treated in the first volume--quantification, for example--or to extend the coverage of certain topics, such as semantics. However, because of the technical progress that has occurred since the publication of the first volume, Volume II now includes other material. The book contains the work of Alasdair Urquhart, who has shown that the principal sentential systems of relevance logic are undecidable, and of Kit Fine, who has demonstrated that, although the first-order systems are incomplete with respect to the conjectured constant domain semantics, they are still complete with respect to a semantics based on "arbitrary objects." Also presented is important work by the other contributing authors, who are Daniel Cohen, Steven Giambrone, Dorothy L. Grover, Anil Gupta, Glen Helman, Errol P. Martin, Michael A. McRobbie, and Stuart Shapiro. Robert G. Wolf's bibliography of 3000 items is a valuable addition to the volume.

Originally published in .

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology

Vol. 3 (2006) - vol. 5 (2008)

Editor: Alvin Goldman

EPISTEME publishes articles on the social dimensions of knowledge from the perspective of philosophical epistemology and related social sciences (e.g., economics, political theory, information science). It focuses on theoretical work, but also welcomes policy-oriented discussions, i.e., applications to contemporary society and its institutions. It does not publish straightforward empirical studies or case studies. The principal style is that of analytical philosophy, but rigorous approaches of other kinds are appropriate so long as they remain accessible to an interdisciplinary audience.

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Epistemic Angst

Radical Skepticism and the Groundlessness of Our Believing

Duncan Pritchard

Epistemic Angst offers a completely new solution to the ancient philosophical problem of radical skepticism—the challenge of explaining how it is possible to have knowledge of a world external to us.

Duncan Pritchard argues that the key to resolving this puzzle is to realize that it is composed of two logically distinct problems, each requiring its own solution. He then puts forward solutions to both problems. To that end, he offers a new reading of Wittgenstein’s account of the structure of rational evaluation and demonstrates how this provides an elegant solution to one aspect of the skeptical problem. Pritchard also revisits the epistemological disjunctivist proposal that he developed in previous work and shows how it can effectively handle the other aspect of the problem. Finally, he argues that these two antiskeptical positions, while superficially in tension with each other, are not only compatible but also mutually supporting.

The result is a comprehensive and distinctive resolution to the problem of radical skepticism, one that challenges many assumptions in contemporary epistemology.

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Epistemology and Inference

Henry E. Kyburg, Jr.

Epistemology and Inference was first published in 1983. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Henry Kyburg has developed an original and important perspective on probabilistic and statistical inference. Unlike much contemporary writing by philosophers on these topics, Kyburg's work is informed by issues that have arisen in statistical theory and practice as well as issues familiar to professional philosophers. In two major books and many articles, Kyberg has elaborated his technical proposals and explained their ramifications for epistemology, decision-making, and scientific inquiry. In this collection of published and unpublished essays, Kyburg presents his novel ideas and their applications in a manner that makes them accessible to philosophers and provides specialists in probability and induction with a concise exposition of his system.

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Espionage, Statecraft, and the Theory of Reporting

A Philosophical Essay on Intelligence Management

by Nicholas Rescher

Everything we know about what goes on in the world comes to us through reports, information transmitted through human communication. We rely on reports, which can take any number of forms, to convey useful information, and we derive knowledge from that information. It's no surprise, then, that reporting has many philosophical dimensions. Because it plays such a major role in knowledge management, as Nicholas Rescher argues, the epistemology of reporting not only deserves our attention but also sheds important light on how we understand the theory of knowledge. This book offers a clear, accessible introduction to the theory of reporting, with a special emphasis on national security, particularly military and diplomatic reporting, drawing on examples from historical accounts of espionage and statecraft from the Second World War. Rescher explores the various issues and problems related to the production and reception of reports—including reporter expertise and trustworthiness, transmission modalities, confidentiality, cognitive importance, and the interpretation, evaluation, and utilization of reports—providing readers with a distinctive and well organized philosophical clarification of some central features of the theory of reporting.

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Essays on Plato’s Epistemology

Franco Trabattoni

An Innovating approach to Plato’s philosophy. Through a careful survey of several significant Platonic texts, mainly focussing on the nature of knowledge, Essays on Plato’s Epistemology offers the reader a fresh and promising approach to Plato’s philosophy as a whole. From the very earliest reception of Plato’s philosophy, there has been a conflict between a dogmatic and a sceptical interpretation of his work and thought. Moreover, the two sides are often associated, respectively, with a metaphysical and an anti-metaphysical approach. This book, continuing a line of thought that is nowadays strongly present in the secondary literature – and also followed by the author in over thirty years of research –, maintains that a third way of thinking is required. Against the widespread view that an anti-dogmatic philosophy must go together with an anti-metaphysical stance, Trabattoni shows that for Plato, on the contrary, a sober and reasonable assessment of both the powers and limits of human reason relies on a proper metaphysical outlook.

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Evidence and Transcendence

Religious Epistemology and the God-World Relationship

Anne E. Inman

In Evidence and Transcendence, Anne Inman critiques modern attempts to explain the knowability of God and points the way toward a religious epistemology that avoids their pitfalls. Christian apologetics faces two major challenges: the classic Enlightenment insistence on the need to provide evidence for anything that is put forward for belief; and the argument that all human knowledge is mediated by finite reality and thus no “knowledge” of a being interpreted as completely other than finite reality is possible. Modern Christian apologists have tended to understand their task primarily, if not exclusively, in terms of one of these challenges. As examples of contemporary rationalist and postliberal approaches, Inman analyzes in depth the religious epistemologies of philosopher Richard Swinburne and theologians George Lindbeck and Ronald Theimann. She concludes that none of their positions is satisfactory, because none can uphold the notion of God’s transcendence while at the same time preserving a sound account of our claims to freedom and knowledge. The root cause of such failures, Inman argues, is an inadequate philosophy of God and of the relation of God and the finite world. Her exploration of the theologies of Karl Rahner and Friedrich Schleiermacher provides the material for the constructive work in this book. Against rationalist and postliberal epistemologies, Inman calls for an austere grounding of Christian faith in the claim that God is known in human conscious activity as such, as the “other” that grounds the finite.

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The Expibasketics and Intrigues of Love

Ateh-Afac Fossungu

Using expibasketical theory and findings, this book attempts to understand and explain some of the wonders of love and the impacts these have on the other human institutions (such as marriage and family) that are supposed to be erected on love and understanding. Love is a phenomenon that is hard to correctly master, most probably because it is loaded with a lot of uncertainties. This simple fact must be the reason behind the commonplace saying that love is blind; a statement that can have several interpretations, one of which being that it is hard to read or know exactly what is on the other party's mind. Love thus becomes not only an intriguing feeling but also potentially full of intrigues. Can love be so blind to realities and still be love? The book answers many of such queries by expanding and delineating the frontiers of love, and thence marriage and family.

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Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre of 1794

A Commentary on Part 1

by George Seidel

Seidel presents the English and German text of part 1 of the Wissenscbaftsiebre, followed by a commentary on the text. The work concludes with a summary of parts 2 and 3 of the Wissenscbafislebre. An annotated bibliography surveys the important literature on the philosopher.

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