Humanities and Social Sciences

Przegląd Filozoficzny. Nowa Seria

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Przegląd Filozoficzny. Nowa Seria | 2019 | No 4 |

Abstract

While working on the oeuvre of P.F. Strawson (1919–2006), and especially on his metaphysics, I had a unique opportunity to exchange ideas with this eminent exponent of Oxford philosophy. Those exchanges, of which some have been reflected in private correspondence and in a published reply to one of my papers, were focussed on various interpretative questions. Three threads of those discussions seem especially pertinent for grasping the gist of Strawson’s philosophy and its general orientation. The first one concerned the nature of philosophical analysis, or to be more precise, the connective model of it, favoured by Strawson, and its relationship with the idea of concept presupposition. The second thread had to do with the position taken by the Oxford philosopher in the realism debate on three levels: semantic, epistemological, and metaphysical. Strawson made every effort to take a realist stand in this debate and avoid antirealism in any of its forms; however, his realism is in many respects very moderate and not so distant from antirealism. Similarly moderate was his stand in the traditional debate about universals, constituting the topic of the third thread of the exchanges with Strawson. He claimed that universals exist, but at the same time emphasized that they are objects of pure thought alone and as such do not form a part of the spatiotemporal world in which we live. One cannot also say much about the relation of exemplification in virtue of which universals manifest themselves in the world as particular instances. Presentation and elaboration of these three threads has led to the conclusion that although Strawson was a deeply systematic thinker, he avoided wide-ranging and ambitious statements and radical views. In characteristically minimalist way he dispelled some questions, and the ultimate resolution of many crucial and fundamental issues were for him choice and taking a particular attitude or stance.

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Abstract

In the collection of articles by Peter Strawson published in his Analysis and metaphysics the author defines his meta-philosophical position by offering two analogies, relating respectively to philosophy conceived as therapy and to philosophy construed as a grammar of thought. These analogies, if they are viewed in a perspective invoked by reflections on ‘the human condition’ – admittedly, a style of investigation fairly remote form analytic research – open several interesting questions and raise puzzling uncertainties. If we follow some implications of these queries, the general position of Strawson in contemporary philosophy becomes more convincing; it fits quite comfortably in the ‘mainstream philosophy’, and highlights some leading topics in the eternal philosophical agenda.

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Abstract

The linguistic philosophy (Oxford School) is a trend in analytical philosophy, critical about the claims of formal logic. Its followers want to investigate problems using an analysis of ordinary language. Peter F. Strawson is one of the most prominent representatives of this line of thoughts. He is also a philosopher who has done a lot toward a rehabilitation of metaphysics in British philosophy. In my paper I present an analysis of Strawson’s metaphilosophical ideas and I offer a critical discussion of Karl R. Popper’s attitude to linguistic philosophy.

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Abstract

For Peter F. Strawson, transcendental arguments were an important part of his philosophical method, referred to as a connective analysis. Both Strawson and his critical commentators have devoted a lot of effort to determining the nature, scope and purpose of those arguments. In this text, I intend, first of all, to reconstruct and characterize the basic elements of transcendental argumentation, specifying its general form, features and purpose. Secondly, I reconstruct some of the most representative examples of this argumentation. Thirdly, I refer to the basic objections against transcendental arguments formulated in the literature. Finally, I point to a few peculiarities in those arguments, commonly omitted by commentators and interpreters. The overall message of the paper is moderately positive: transcendental arguments are a legitimate way of reasoning in philosophy, and in particular, they constitute a comprehensible and well-founded part of Strawson’s connective analysis.

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Abstract

As it is well known, Peter F. Strawson in the introduction to his book Individuals. An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics makes a famous distinction between two types of metaphysics: revisionist and descriptive. Descriptive metaphysics is defined there as a kind of philosophical reflection that “describes the actual structure of our thinking about the world”. Another formula used by Strawson is that descriptive metaphysics “reveals the most general features of our conceptual framework”. In the same text Strawson mentions Aristotle as one of the most important representatives of descriptive metaphysics. However, the question may be asked, whether the formulas used by Strawson adequately describe the actual conception of metaphysics in Aristotle. After all, the aim of Aristotle’s inquiry was to reveal the structure of real beings and to find the causes that are at work in reality, and not only to study our concepts with which we describe the world. In my paper I discuss different ways in which Aristotle’s metaphysical project might be understood and I try to determine to what extent it can be associated with descriptive metaphysics in the sense defined by Strawson. In particular, I inquire to what extent Aristotle uses in his metaphysics the methods proposed in his theory of dialectic, whose aim was to help in the study commonly accepted concepts and beliefs (endoxa).

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Abstract

In this article I present the problem of identity of objects (that persist in time and space) and their identification (also in time and space, when these objects persist and change their location) indicated in the title of the paper. I therefore present an outline of P.F. Strawson’s proposal, but also a purely formal approach that can be found in formal sciences (logic and mathematics). In the final part I give some ontological solution to Strawson’s research. It is a solution based on formal considerations within the so-called ontologically oriented versions of modal and temporal logics, which I proposed in my book Indywidua. Idee. Pojęcia (2008).

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Abstract

In this paper Peter Strawson’s idea of non-reductive analysis is illustrated with the example of an analysis of knowledge along the lines of my book on the ‘sandwich theory of knowledge’: Epistemologia. Sandwiczowa teoria wiedzy (Kraków 2019). On this theory, knowledge and justification are intertwined and relativized to the context that has been determined, on the one hand by pragmatic presuppositions, including idealizations and the ceteris paribus clause, and on the other by the intended scope of applications. Knowledge so conceived need not be true, which permits granting to the outdated knowledge an epistemic status different than that of mere superstition. Still, the mechanism of revision of presuppositions in the face of novel applications can be thought of as driven by the regulative idea of truth in Kant-Popper sense.

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Abstract

In the paper I present the famous argument between Peter F. Strawson and Bertrand Russell on definite descriptions. I do not go into details of the two rival solutions to the problem of definite descriptions. Instead I present the controversy against the background of two traditions within analytic philosophy, i.e. the philosophy of natural language (Strawson) and the philosophy of ideal language (Russell). In consequence, the aim of this paper is to sketch the principal features of the two traditions and to indicate their influence on the argument. In the first paragraph I discuss Russell’s theory of descriptions and present it as a result of dramatic changes that he had made in his philosophy before he finally presented them in On Denoting in 1905. The second paragraph deals with the two traditions within analytic philosophy after the linguistic turn and underlines the role of Strawson in the philosophy of natural language. In the third paragraph I analyze in detail Strawson’s arguments against the theory of descriptions and I focus on some details that are usually omitted in standard presentations. The fourth paragraph discusses Russell’s response to Strawson’s objections, i.e. the counter-arguments formulated from the standpoint of philosophy of ideal language. I end with some suggestions about how to reconcile both approaches.

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Abstract

Due to the strength of Willlard V.O. Quine’s attack on the notion of analyticity, the reputation of this concept in philosophy has been considerably shaken. However, not everybody was convinced by Quine’s argument. Among those who decided to defend the dichotomy between analytic and synthetic sentences were two English ordinary language philosophers: Paul Grice and Peter Strawson. Their views are the main subject of the presented article. It consists of five parts. After outlining the basic distinctions connected with analyticity in Part One, the main elements of Quine’s critique of analyticity are delineated in Part Two. Part Three includes Grice’s and Strawson’s response to this critique. Part Four, perhaps surprisingly, describes some decisions by the Polish administrative courts, concerning the interpretation of the concept of ‘widow’ according to the article 20 paragraph 3 of the Act on the Combatant and Victimized Persons. In the final, Part Five, an attempt is made to establish the thesis that analytic sentences are not immune to criticism and may in fact be contested, though their effective abolition may require substantial argumentation and theoretical considerations. This opens a new possibility of using the notion of analyticity in conceptual analysis in jurisprudence.

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Abstract

The paper presents the mental files framework focusing on its seminal form invented by P.F. Strawson and on its contemporary parallel rendering by F. Recanati. It also outlines the main ideas that stood behind the introduction of the framework. These are in particular the problem of the informativeness of identity statements (for Strawson) and the controversy between singularism and descriptivism (for Recanati). The paper presents also a further enrichment of the framework, based upon some other themes from Strawson’s philosophy of language. The main ideas of the enrichment are: introducing into the structure of the files a section of the metadata, containing information about the files themselves as mental particulars, and adopting Strawson’s referring use as a triggering mechanism for opening/activating of the files.

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Abstract

From a historical point of view, Peter F. Strawson’s philosophical studies are an important element within contemporary interdisciplinary investigations of the mind-body problem. The aim of this article is to present and analyze Strawson’s program of descriptive metaphysics, along with the associated conception of persons, that he has proposed. In the second part, I also present his non-reductive naturalism, focusing on two of his analyses that belong to the field of mind-body relations: these concern the problem of other minds, and the question of the nomological reduction of mental states of persons to physical ones (i.e. mind-body identity theory). I then point to several possibilities of using Strawson’s conception of persons in the context of issues raised by other questions linked to the mind-body problem (namely, personal identity as it relates to split-brain persons, and the different phases of a person’s development).

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Abstract

The aim of this article is a critical analysis of Peter F. Strawson’s theory of primitiveness of the concept of person contained in the third chapter of the Individuals. The problems associated with the distinction between M-predicates and P-predicates are pointed out. The article shows different ways of understanding primitiveness of the concept of person, and points to gaps in Strawson’s argumentation and to the dubious potential of the theory if it is used to solve some basic problems in philosophy of mind. It also deals with some of the difficulties outlined, but does not propose to solve them all.

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Abstract

The article discusses two questions of Peter F. Strawson’s understanding of the human being as person. The first question scrutinizes Strawson’s philosophical choice between the tradition of Aristotle’s metaphysics and Kant’s ontology. The second question is the Cartesian challenge as presented in Strawson’s postulate of the primacy of the concept of human person. My understanding of the metaphysics proposed in the Individuals and Strawson’s other works underscores a particular affinity between his anthropological postulate and philosophia perennis. However, the Oxford philosopher is related not only to Aristotelian logic and hermeneutic but also to Kant’s conceptual scheme. In the case of the definition that identifies human being as a person we see the unambiguous reliance by Strawson on the thought of Aristotle. The explicit evidence of this reliance is his reference to the corporeality and space-time character of the human beings, manifested by the recognition of ontological priority of particulars before the reality of mental states of affairs. The effect of this analysis is my observation that Strawson has undertaken to close the gap between mental and material reality that was established in Descartes’ ontological difference between res cogitans and res extensa. The aporia of the lack of communication between human consciousness and human corporeality finds its solution in Strawson’s Individuals in concept of relationship between mind and body intended as a transgression over the Cartesian concept. Strawson proposes a recognition of their simultaneous validity, but he does not propose a new ontological position comparable to H.E. Hengstenberg’s, founded on the idea of the constitution of the human person not in two preclusive elements, as the Cartesian mind and body, but in three elements, namely spirit (Geist), corporeality (Leib) and existential principle (Existenzprinzip).

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Abstract

For P.F. Strawson self is an embodied agent. The aim of my paper is to discuss those fragments of Strawson’s philosophical work which directly refer to the concept of self. I try to show that Strawson’s view on the nature of self and self-reference is distinct and different from L. Wittgenstein’s nihilism and from the modest nihilism advocated by G.E.M. Anscombe.

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Abstract

P.F. Strawson and J.L. Austin approach the problem of other minds from different perspectives. Peter Strawson looks at this problem from the perspective of descriptive metaphysics, which largely disregards the concrete situations in which we use mental language. John Austin, on the other hand, believes that to understand what is happening in such situations holds the key to solving the former problem. However, as it turns out, the considerations of both authors in the key fragments rely on similar observations. In addition, Austin’s perspective, which looks at the language from the point of view of its usage, makes it possible to formulate an answer to the Strawson’s critics. This does not exclude the possibility of agreeing with Strawson on the primacy of the reference function of language, if we understand it properly. Ultimately, Strawson and Austin’s approaches do not compete, but complement each other.

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Abstract

W artykule konfrontuję koncepcję osoby Petera Strawsona z koncepcją osoby Paula Ricoeura, traktując je jako reprezentatywne ilustracje podejścia semantyczno-ontologicznego i pragmatyczno-egzystencjalnego (lub hermeneutycznego) zarazem do problemu języka i do problemu bytu zwanego osobą. Zaznaczam różnice między tymi podejściami, ale wskazuję także na ich punkty wspólne. Zgodnie z przedstawioną interpretacją, Ricoeur w swojej próbie przezwyciężenia ograniczeń semantycznej teorii osoby rozwija i uwypukla wątki, które w sposób marginalny były obecne już w teorii Strawsona, a skądinąd docenia znaczenie tych, które w tej teorii były pierwszoplanowe, chociaż je relatywizuje. Stosunek Ricoeura do Strawsona pokazuje złożoną relację między tzw. filozofią kontynentalną i tzw. filozofią analityczną.

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Abstract

The author tries to explain what consequences for social morality ensue from the assumption that moral attitudes are expressed not only in words but also in reactive attitudes. P.F. Strawson assumes that acts of resentment can alter attitudes of those who have triggered them by their behavior. On the other hand, we are ready to control our outbursts of short temper and anger to a certain degree if we take into account agents’ motives and their limited ability to exercise self-control. Moreover, it seems that reactive attitudes – though less precise than verbal rebuke – are more frank and straightforward. Nevertheless, why must I, when I hear a mediocre academic researcher brag over and over again about his apparently essential contribution to philosophy, curb my moral assessment of his self-importance to the level of my irritation? Why should I feel constrained to keep my moral disgust in tune with my impatience mixed with amusement? Why shouldn’t I continue to believe that I can be an amiable character and a rigorous moral person at the same time?

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Abstract

The article aims to briefly present Peter Strawson’s view expressed in his seminal article Freedom and Resentment (1962). We start with certain remarks on the position of the article among other works by Strawson and on reasons of its vast popularity manifested by many modern authors interested in the issues of responsibility or free will. Next, we move on to the issue of interpretation of the central thought of Strawson’s work. To do this, we present the most common interpretation, which at the first glance seems to express the core of Strawson’s view in a fairly convincing way. Then we adopt a slightly different perspective on the main line of reasoning in the article in question and in this context we try to interpret its general message. We argue that the main topic of the article is the philosophical issue of punishment. For this is the problem which – if we are right – is the proper object of the debate between an optimist who is also a compatibilist and a pessimist who is also a libertarian.

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Abstract

The paper focuses on two research objectives. First, it aims to critically examine a reductio ad absurdum argument against incompatibilism whose main themes can be found in Peter F. Strawson’s Freedom and Resentment. The doubts raised about the argument are inspired by a thought experiment based on fictitious Ludovico’s technique described in Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange. The second objective consists in outlining a version of the compatibilist stance – the version which is immune to Strawson’s objections against the traditional rendering of compatibilism and enables deeper understanding of various possible interpretations of the controversy between compatibilists and their opponents. The proposed position includes a hypothesis on the function of the attitude of participation and the expressivist explications of the concepts crucial for the practice of ascribing moral responsibility. The important feature of the analyses in question is the central role of the states of mind whose content are plans for reactive moral sentiments.

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Abstract

The article presents Peter F. Strawson’s remarks on the free will debate, which he has presented in the essay ‘Freedom and Resentment’. Strawson avoids taking a stance on the question whether the thesis of determinism is correct. Instead he shows the essential difficulties and far reaching consequences of acknowledging this thesis. He recognizes the inseparable connection between freedom and responsibility in the philosophy after Kant. He consequently questions whether we really understand what it would mean to claim that determinism is true. He focuses on what he calls ‘reactiv attitudes’ triggered by the way in which other people behave toward us. Their behavior evokes emotional reaction in us – gratitude, respect, curiosity, but also distrust, resentment, disappointment. Those emotional responses are not purely subjective and they underlie moral judgments and complicated interpersonal relations. We suspend our reactive attitudes towards animals, very small children or people that we think are mentally ill. Instead we adopt objective (psychiatric, scientific) attitudes towards them. But to acknowledge the thesis of determinism implicates that we should treat all people this way. The paper is not so much concerned with an analysis of advantages and weak points of Strawson’s version of compatibilism, but focuses instead on the originality of his contribution to the debate on free will and on his brilliant treatment of reactive attitudes.

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Abstract

W artykule zestawiam ze sobą i zarazem oceniam dwa zupełnie odmienne sposoby ujmowania rzeczywistości moralnej. Immanuel Kant stworzył nie tylko bardzo wymagającą, ale zarazem zawiłą, sztuczną i nieempiryczną etykę. W dodatku jest ona mocno obciążona metafizycznie, a nawet teologicznie. Natomiast Peter Strawson w artykule z 1962 roku dokonał naturalistycznego i realistycznego opisu rzeczywistości moralnej.

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Abstract

Freedom and Resentment (1962) – reflecting the method and profoundness of descriptive metaphysics – has become perhaps the most commented and famous work by Peter F. Strawson. In this article I try to reconstruct the concept of responsibility, blame and punishment outlined in his essay. The text consists of three main parts: exhibition (subsections 2, 3), interpretation (4) and criticism (5). In the last part I argue that even if Strawson managed to repulse the pessimistic argumentation against compatibilism, his naturalistic position, as well as the traditional optimism, does not provide the right kind of ethical justification for reactive emotions and attitudes. The nerve of his reasoning is the premise that from the human point of view it is practically inconceivable to abandon them. Therefore, the succes of such argumentation depends on the meaning of practical inconceivability. One can distinguish its naturalistic (referring to the type- or token-naturalism) and transcendental interpretation. The latter, as I try to show, is unable to formally distinguish between the metaphysical and ethical content of Strawson’s position. On the other hand, the logical separation of both views is the main advantage of the interpretation in the spirit of type-naturalism. Consequently, its acceptance reveals both metaethical and anthropological allegations to which Strawson’s concept is exposed, without injuring the main part of his compatibilism.

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Abstract

Freedom and Resentment (1962), written by Peter Frederick Strawson, is one of the most influential papers in 20th century investigations regarding the problem of free will. An interesting criticism of that work was proposed by his son, Galen Strawson, who analyzed and rejected his father’s view, called the theory of reactive attitudes. In my paper I reconstruct the views of Peter Strawson and present counterarguments put forward by Galen Strawson. In the summary I suggest, following Robert Kane, that the disagreement may reflect some important changes in analytic philosophy.

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