Citation for this page in APA citation style.           Close


Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
C. Lloyd Morgan
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Alan Sidelle

Alan Sidelle is a professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin who argues that many "truths" in philosophy are merely conventional. This should include all the analytical language statements that are true by definition, because these are clearly conventional.

Information philosophy assumes that the concept of truth should be limited to logic. Truths are logical a priori statements. Facts are empirical a posteriori statements.

Despite Immanuel Kant's failure to prove the existence of a synthetic a priori truths, some metaphysicians talk about a necessary a posteriori. This is the idea that once something is a fact, it is now a necessarily true fact.

Information philosophy considers claims such as "If P, then P is true" to be redundant, adding no information to the (true) assertion of the statement or proposition "P." Further redundancies are equally vacuous, such as "If P is true, then P is necessarily true" and "If P is true, then P is necessarily true in all possible worlds."

In fact, that is to say in the empirical world, any fact F is only probably true, with the probability approaching certainty in cases that are adequately determined. And, in any case, any past F could have been otherwise. That is to say, ontologically real possibilities exist as ideas, pure abstract information, alongside material objects.

In metaphysics, Sidelle's "No Coincidence Thesis" denies the existence of coinciding objects.

One central such view I call 'The No Coincidence Thesis' (NC): There cannot be two material objects wholly located in the same place at the same time (some prefer: No two objects can wholly consist, at a time, of just the same parts). This principle conflicts with our everyday judgments that there are both ordinary objects-sweaters, trees and cows-and 'constituting' objects-pieces of yarn and wood, maybe aggregates of cells or quarks combined with our views about how these things move through time, which, more theoretically, underlie our views about the persistence conditions for these sorts of things. Since the 'macro' objects can go from existence while the constituting objects persist, and more generally, since the histories traced by each can differ, an object and its 'constituting' object cannot, in general, be identified, so we are committed to coinciding objects (Wiggins (1968)). NC also plays a role in Van Inwagen's (1981) modern version of the ancient Dion/Theon puzzle; he shows that this principle is inconsistent with our belief in arbitrary undetached parts, combined with the view that objects can lose parts (plus an intuitive judgment that undetached parts persist if all their parts persist arranged in just the same way).
Sidelle also questions the use of arbitrary distinctions, such as those involved in Peter van Inwagen's Doctrine of Arbitrary Undetached Parts.

This is the problem that Plato called "carving nature at the joints"
Another theoretical idea often invoked in criticism of ordinary (and other) views is a proscription against arbitrary distinctions. Arbitrariness, or its appearance, can show up in judgments about which portions of the world do, and which do not, contain objects, and in judgments about how things persist through change - what changes are 'substantial', and how things move through time. For instance, we commonly think cells arranged in certain ways constitute cows, but that no object is constituted by this paper and my eye. But one may wonder whether there is any difference here which can, in an appropriate way, substantiate such a distinction, especially when science reveals how much space there is between small particles making up cows. What of our judgment that something ceases to exist when a cow dies, but not when a hoof is clipped, or it catches cold? In each case, it seems that something persists, but some properties change. Or why does a car become larger when bumpers are attached, but not when a trailer is?

Arbitrariness is invoked in the problem of composite objects. Mereological nihilists deny there are any composite objects, with Peter van Inwagen and others making an ill-justified exception for living things.

For mereological universalists, David Lewis for example, arbitrary mereological sums are considered to be composite objects. Considering the Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower a composite object is an example of arbitrary unrestricted composition. Considering Theon (Dion missing his left leg) or Tibbles minus one hair are arbitrary disjunctions. Such arbitrariness hardly carves nature at the joints.

Between these two absurd extremes of mereological nihilism and universalism, information philosophy provides strong reasons for why things are composite objects. They also include "proper parts" that are composite objects. We can call these "integral" parts as they have a function in the integrated object.

These same reasons show that artifacts are composite objects.

Artifacts and living things have a purpose which Aristotle called final cause or "telos." They are "teleonomic." For example, "simples arranged tablewise" have been arranged by a carpenter, whose "telos" was to make a table. This telos carves the artifact at the joints (legs, top). The arrangement or organization is pure abstract information.

Living things were described by Aristotle as "entelechy, "having their telos within themselves." They are more than just matter and static form like an artifact. They have internal messaging between their integral parts that helps to achieve the teleonomic end of maintaining themselves against degradation by the second law of thermodynamics. Many such integral parts are themselves wholes, from vital organs down to the individual cells. The boundaries of integral parts "carve nature at the joints."

Living things also contain many "biological machines" that include "biological computers" or information processors that respond to those messages, which are written in meaningful biological codes that are analogous to and the precursor of human languages.

References
Sidelle, A. (1989). Necessity, essence, and individuation: A defense of conventionalism.
Sidelle, A. (2002). "Is there a true metaphysics of material objects?" Noûs, 36(s1), 118-145.
Sidelle, A. (2010). Modality and objects. The Philosophical Quarterly, 60(238), 109-125.
Normal | Teacher | Scholar