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Do philosophers avoid figures of speech in peer reviewed philosphy journals? What about in everyday life; is there a lower standard of conduct when talking to non-philosophers?

By "figures of speech", I'll assume you mean something like metaphor. And, if so, then, no, philosophers do not avoid metaphor, at least not entirely. Here is one of my favorite philosophical metaphors, from W. V. O. Quine: "The lore of our fathers is a fabric of sentences. ...It is a pale gray lore, black with fact and white with convention. But I have found no substantial reasons for concluding that there are any quite black threads in it, or any white ones." Quine would later describe that lore as a "web", which has proven very fruitful. What is true is that philosophers (at least the philosophers I know) try not to settle for such metaphors. One tries to "unpack" the metaphor, and make the underlying point as explicit as possible. But it is, I think, pretty widely appreciated that there is a limit to how far one can go in that direction. Really good metaphors are, as people who work on metaphor say, "inexhaustible", in some sense. There's always more you can dig out of them. That's maybe not...

Why don't analytic philosphers in the Anglosphere take a stronger stand against continental psychoanalysis which is divorced from medical findings?

The question seems to presume that it is the job of philosophers as such to take such stands, and that seems wrong to me. Whether psychoanalysis is a helpful form of treatment, and for what conditions, just isn't the kind of question philosophers are well-placed to answer. In particular, whether psychoanalysis is or is not consistent with "medical findings" is presumably something one would have to answer by looking into the relevant medical and psychological literature. That's not what a job that philosophers, for the most part, are trained to do.

I have a very basic question that greatly puzzles me. Why do we consider reasonable sounding imaginings to be wisdom, for example Plato's idea of the existence of an ideal of each kind of object, such that an actual physical object is merely an approximation? I can see that this may have entertainment value; but why to serious intelligent educated people take such metaphors seriously? Why is a chair not simply any object designed primarily for sitting? Why does no one seem to question the VALIDITY of the notion of ideals and approximations? It seems that we elevate mere metaphors to the status of realities. Why do we do that? I am genuinely confused.

I guess I too am a bit confused. Surely philosophers have been questioning Plato's notion of forms ever since Plato. And one could presumably say the same thing about any other example one might care to offer. One could even object to the idea that a chair is any object designed for sitting. Surely there are chairs no one designed for that purpose, but are merely used for that purpose. But is anything that is used for sitting a chair? No, since sofas are also used for sitting, as are benches, tables, and old stumps. So what exactly is a chair? That's the kind of question that gets philosophy started. This particular question isn't so interesting in itself, of course. The question philosophers really debate concerns the terms in which such questions are to be answered. And if such questions seem unimportant or useless, then consider the question what species are and how they are to be individuated. This is a question discussed by both biologists themselves and by philosophers of biology, and many of...

Since programming languages are supposed to be ways to express logical processes, it would seem that they would be of interest to philosophers on some level or another. For example, it would seem there are interesting relationships to be described between object-oriented programming and Plato's theory of ideas. So what are the relationships between programming on the one hand and philosophy on the other? What investigations into this area have been conducted?

I'm not sure about the relationship to Plato's theory of ideas, but there are many connections between programming and philosophy. I'll mention just a few. Some of the earliest investigations into natural language semantics appealed to ideas connected to the notion of compilation. Roughly, the thought was that understanding an uttered sentence might be something like compiling a program, i.e., translating it into the "machine language" of the brain. My own view, which is probably the majority view, is that this is seriously confused, but it has been attractive to many people. The idea that "the mind is the software of the brain" has also been very attractive, since it was first articulated (though not quite in those terms) by the great British logician Alan Turing. There are many ways to implement this idea, perhaps the most familiar of them being the various forms of functionalism. Finally, philosophers are often interested in formal languages, and software languages are certainly a variety...

We rarely, if ever, see headlines such as "A team oh philosophers in Berlin finally solves the Is-Ought Dilemma!". Of course, philosophy in general rarely makes headlines, but even within philosophy itself, it seems rare for philosophical ideas to be expounded or developed by *teams* of people, like scientists are doing more and more often. One would think that working in teams would increase the speed of an idea's development magnitudes, considering one would always have others off of whom to bounce ideas, and weaknesses could be worked over far more quickly, in live dialog rather than over months or years of exchanging arguments in academic publications, or books. Yet it seems that most philosophers choose to go it alone; what are the reasons for this?

I don't know what the reasons are, but I think co-authored papers and books are becoming more common, especially in the more technical parts of philosophy (language, epistemology, etc). I could be wrong about that, as I haven't done an extensive study, but that's my sense. Part of the reason may just have to do with technology. Working on some philosophical problem is a very ill-defined process much of the time. Just writing a paper can be a very long process. When things had to be snail-mailed back and forth, it was difficult to work with anyone not down the hall. Now, of course, collaboration is much easier, both in the developmental phases and in the writing phases, and so, as I said, we are seeing more of it. People can have a quick conversation at a conference, hit on an idea, and then develop it over email, the phone (which is much cheaper than it used to be), Skype, or whatever, and then write the paper without ever having to be physically in the same place again.

I presently working through Grayling's Introduction to Philosophical Logic (Blackwell), after studying philosophy at university in the late 1960s. Can anyone recommend a follow-on text (for when I feel I have assimilated this book)? (I have seen the interesting replies to the August post about further reading on symbolic logic.) Peter

There aren't a whole lot of textbooks on this sort of thing. A more current text is John Burgess's Philosophical Logic . And, depending upon your interests, you might have a look at something like Graham Priest's Introduction to Non-classical Logic . Working through a serious textbook on modal logic would also be worth doing. The two classics are by Chellas and by Hughes and Cresswell. A quite different route would be to look into linguistic semantics. Many forms of philosophical logic—tense logic, modal logic, epistemic logic—originated as attempts to deal with some of the features of natural language that are omitted by quantification theory. But the relation between the logical treatments and natural language were always pretty obscure, and around 1960 people started to get much more serious about dealing with natural language in its own terms. Formally, much of linguistic semantics looks like philosophical logic (especially in certain traditions), but it is targeted at an empirical...

Are there false or illegitimate philosophies, and if so, who's to say which ones are valid and which are invalid?

Yes, and me. I'm not sure what the worry is here. I think it's clear that there are some philosophical views that are plainly wrong. There may be some truth in them somewhere, but research over the years has shown that the view is wrong. (Examples: Plato's theory of forms; Hobbes's theory of government.) So who says they're wrong? Well, the people who have done the research mentioned. This is no different from science. There are scientific theories that are wrong, and the people who say so are the scientists who do the work.

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