Edward N. Zalta (/ˈzɔːltə/; born March 16, 1952) is a senior research scholar at the Center for the Study of Language and Information. He received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1980. Zalta has taught courses at Stanford University, Rice University, the University of Salzburg, and the University of Auckland. Zalta is also the Principal Editor of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Edward N. Zalta
Zalta speaking at Wikimania 2015
|Born||March 16, 1952|
|Alma mater||University of Massachusetts Amherst|
|Thesis||Abstract Objects (1980)|
|Doctoral advisor||Terence Parsons|
|Epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of language, intensional logic, philosophy of logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of mind, intentionality|
|Abstract object theory, Platonized naturalism|
Zalta's most notable philosophical position is descended from the position of Alexius Meinong and Ernst Mally, who suggested that there are many non-existent objects. On Zalta's account, some objects (the ordinary concrete ones around us, like tables and chairs) "exemplify" properties, while others (abstract objects like numbers, and what others would call "non-existent objects", like the round square, and the mountain made entirely of gold) merely "encode" them. While the objects that exemplify properties are discovered through traditional empirical means, a simple set of axioms allows us to know about objects that encode properties. For every set of properties, there is exactly one object that encodes exactly that set of properties and no others. This allows for a formalized ontology.
Principal Editor: Edward N. Zalta, Senior Research Scholar, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University
Abstract object theory is a branch of metaphysics regarding abstract objects. Originally devised by metaphysicist Edward Zalta in 1999, the theory was an expansion of mathematical Platonism.
Abstract Objects: An Introduction to Axiomatic Metaphysics (1983) is the title of a publication by Edward Zalta that outlines abstract object theory.On Zalta's account, there are two modes of predication: some objects (the ordinary concrete ones around us, like tables and chairs) "exemplify" properties, while others (abstract objects like numbers, and what others would call "non-existent objects", like the round square, and the mountain made entirely of gold) merely "encode" them. While the objects that exemplify properties are discovered through traditional empirical means, a simple set of axioms allows us to know about objects that encode properties. For every set of properties, there is exactly one object that encodes exactly that set of properties and no others. This allows for a formalized ontology.Antireductionism
Antireductionism is the position in science and metaphysics that stands in contrast to reductionism (anti-holism) by advocating that not all properties of a system can be explained in terms of its constituent parts and their interactions.Computational epistemology
Computational epistemology is a subdiscipline of formal epistemology that studies the intrinsic complexity of inductive problems for ideal and computationally bounded agents. In short, computational epistemology is to induction what recursion theory is to deduction.Contractualism
Contractualism is a term in philosophy which refers either to a family of political theories in the social contract tradition (when used in this sense, the term is synonymous with contractarianism), or to the ethical theory developed in recent years by T. M. Scanlon, especially in his book What We Owe to Each Other (published 1998).Social contract theorists from the history of political thought include Hugo Grotius (1625), Thomas Hobbes (1651), Samuel Pufendorf (1673), John Locke (1689), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762), and Immanuel Kant (1797); more recently, John Rawls (1971), David Gauthier (1986) and Philip Pettit (1997).Deng Xi
Deng Xi (; Chinese: 鄧析; Wade–Giles: Têng Hsi, also written as 祁奚; c. 546 – 501 BCE) was a Chinese philosopher and rhetorician who has been called the founding father of the Chinese logical tradition, or School of Names (Xingmingjia). Once a senior official of the Zheng state, and a contemporary of Confucius, he was actually China's earliest renowned lawyer, teaching the people word play in lawsuits. The Zuo Zhuan and Annals of Lü Buwei critically credit Deng with the authorship of a penal code opposing and twisting that of the more Confucian Zichan. Arguing over forms and names (xing ming zhi bian), Deng is cited by Liu Xiang as the originator of the "Legalists" and Logicians Xing-Ming principle judging names and realities (ming-shih), likely making him an important contributor to both Chinese philosophy and the foundations of Chinese statecraft.
The Xunxi pairs him with Hui Shi as part of a general intellectual tradition, though the two lived 200 years apart. While Han Fei tended to dismiss the Logicians as useless (despite the 'Legalists' deriving a part of their statecraft from them), Xunxi's primary complaint about the two was that they didn't conform to ritual and "righteousness", or the
"facts about right and wrong", portraying him as talent that, neglecting the way (Confucian morality), wastes his time on pointless intellectual games and sophistry.Holophrastic indeterminacy
Holophrastic indeterminacy, or indeterminacy of sentence translation, is one of two kinds of indeterminacy of translation to appear in the writings of philosopher W. V. O. Quine. According to Quine, "there is more than one correct method of translating sentences where the two translations differ not merely in the meanings attributed to the sub-sentential parts of speech but also in the net import of the whole sentence". It is holophrastic indeterminacy that underlies Quine's argument against synonymy, the basis of his objections to Rudolf Carnap's analytic/synthetic distinction. The other kind of indeterminacy introduced by Quine is the "inscrutability of reference", which refers to parts of a sentence or individual words.Internalism and externalism
Internalism and externalism are two opposing ways of explaining various subjects in several areas of philosophy. These include human motivation, knowledge, justification, meaning, and truth. The distinction arises in many areas of debate with similar but distinct meanings.
Internalism is the thesis that no fact about the world can provide reasons for action independently of desires and beliefs. Externalism is the thesis that reasons are to be identified with objective features of the world.Legalism (Chinese philosophy)
Fajia (Chinese: 法家; pinyin: Fǎjiā) or Legalism is one of Sima Tan's six classical schools of thought in Chinese philosophy. Roughly meaning "house of Fa" (administrative "methods" or "standards"), the "school" (term) represents some several branches of realistic statesmen or "men of methods" (fashu zishi) foundational for the traditional Chinese bureaucratic empire. Compared with Machiavellianism, they have often been considered in the Western world as akin to the Realpolitikal thought of ancient China, emphasizing a realistic consolidation of the wealth and power of autocrat and state, with the goal of achieving increased order, security and stability. Having close ties with the other schools, some would be a major influence on Taoism and Confucianism, and the current remains highly influential in administration, policy and legal practice in China today.Though Chinese administration cannot be traced to any one person, emphasizing a merit system administrator Shen Buhai (c. 400 BC – c. 337 BC) may have had more influence than any other, and might be considered its founder, if not valuable as a rare pre-modern example of abstract theory of administration. Sinologist Herrlee G. Creel sees in Shen Buhai the "seeds of the civil service examination", and, if one wished to exaggerate, the first political scientist. The correlation between Shen's conception of the inactive (Wu wei) ruler responsible for examination into performance, claims and titles likely also informed the Taoist conception of the formless Tao (name that cannot be named) that "gives rise to the ten thousand things."Concerned largely with administrative and sociopolitical innovation, Shang Yang (390–338 BC) was a leading reformer of his time. His numerous reforms transformed the peripheral Qin state into a militarily powerful and strongly centralized kingdom. Much of Legalism was "principally the development of certain ideas" that lay behind his reforms, and it was these that helped lead to Qin's ultimate conquest of the other states of China in 221 BC.Shen's most famous successor Han Fei (c. 280 – 233 BC) synthesized the thought of the other "Fa-Jia" in his eponymous text, the Han Feizi. Written around 240 BC, the Han Feizi is commonly thought of as the greatest of all Legalist texts, and is believed to contain the first commentaries on the Tao te Ching in history. The grouping together of thinkers that would eventually be dubbed "Fa-Jia" or "Legalists" can be traced to him, and The Art of War would seem to incorporate Taoist philosophy of inaction and impartiality, and Legalist punishment and rewards as systematic measures of organization, recalling Han Fei's concepts of power (shi) and tactics (shu). Attracting the attention of the First Emperor, It is often said that succeeding emperors followed the template set by Han Fei.Calling them the "theorists of the state", sinologist Jacques Gernet considered the Legalists/Fa-Jia to be the most important tradition of the fourth and third centuries BC, the entire period from the Qin dynasty to Tang being characterized by its centralizing tendencies and economic organization of the population by the state. The Han dynasty took over the governmental institutions of the Qin dynasty almost unchanged. Endorsement for the "school" of thought peaked under Mao Zedong, hailed as a "progressive" intellectual current.Logical positivism
Logical positivism and logical empiricism, which together formed neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy whose central thesis was verificationism, a theory of knowledge which asserted that only statements verifiable through empirical observation are meaningful. The movement flourished in the 1920s and 1930s in several European centers.
Efforts to convert philosophy to this new "scientific philosophy", shared with empirical sciences' best examples, such as Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, sought to prevent confusion rooted in unclear language and unverifiable claims.The Berlin Circle and Vienna Circle—groups of philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians in Berlin and Vienna—propounded logical positivism, starting in the late 1920s.Mind–body problem
The mind–body problem is a philosophical problem concerning the relationship between thought and consciousness in the human mind, and the brain as part of the physical body. It is distinct from the question of how mind and body function chemically and physiologically since that question presupposes an interactionist account of mind-body relations. This question arises when mind and body are considered as distinct, based on the premise that the mind and the body are fundamentally different in nature.The problem was addressed by René Descartes in the 17th century, resulting in Cartesian dualism, and by pre-Aristotelian philosophers, in Avicennian philosophy, and in earlier Asian traditions. A variety of approaches have been proposed. Most are either dualist or monist. Dualism maintains a rigid distinction between the realms of mind and matter. Monism maintains that there is only one unifying reality, substance or essence in terms of which everything can be explained.
Each of these categories contain numerous variants. The two main forms of dualism are substance dualism, which holds that the mind is formed of a distinct type of substance not governed by the laws of physics, and property dualism, which holds that mental properties involving conscious experience are fundamental properties, alongside the fundamental properties identified by a completed physics. The three main forms of monism are physicalism, which holds that the mind consists of matter organized in a particular way; idealism, which holds that only thought truly exists and matter is merely an illusion; and neutral monism, which holds that both mind and matter are aspects of a distinct essence that is itself identical to neither of them. Psychophysical parallelism is a third possible alternative regarding the relation between mind and body, between interaction (dualism) and one-sided action (monism).Several philosophical perspectives have been developed which reject the mind–body dichotomy. The historical materialism of Karl Marx and subsequent writers, itself a form of physicalism, held that consciousness was engendered by the material contingencies of one's environment. An explicit rejection of the dichotomy is found in French structuralism, and is a position that generally characterized post-war Continental philosophy.The absence of an empirically identifiable meeting point between the non-physical mind (if there is such a thing) and its physical extension (if there is such a thing) has proven problematic to dualism, and many modern philosophers of mind maintain that the mind is not something separate from the body. These approaches have been particularly influential in the sciences, particularly in the fields of sociobiology, computer science, evolutionary psychology, and the neurosciences.An ancient model of the mind known as the Five-Aggregate Model, described in the Buddhist teachings, explains the mind as continuously changing sense impressions and mental phenomena. Considering this model, it is possible to understand that it is the constantly changing sense impressions and mental phenomena (i.e., the mind) that experiences/analyzes all external phenomena in the world as well as all internal phenomena including the body anatomy, the nervous system as well as the organ brain. This conceptualization leads to two levels of analyses: (i) analyses conducted from a third-person perspective on how the brain works, and (ii) analyzing the moment-to-moment manifestation of an individual’s mind-stream (analyses conducted from a first-person perspective). Considering the latter, the manifestation of the mind-stream is described as happening in every person all the time, even in a scientist who analyses various phenomena in the world, including analyzing and hypothesizing about the organ brain.Model-dependent realism
Model-dependent realism is a view of scientific inquiry that focuses on the role of scientific models of phenomena. It claims reality should be interpreted based upon these models, and where several models overlap in describing a particular subject, multiple, equally valid, realities exist. It claims that it is meaningless to talk about the "true reality" of a model as we can never be absolutely certain of anything. The only meaningful thing is the usefulness of the model. The term "model-dependent realism" was coined by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow in their 2010 book, The Grand Design.Moral sense theory
Moral sense theory (also known as moral sentimentalism) is a theory in moral epistemology and meta-ethics concerning the discovery of moral truths. Moral sense theory typically holds that distinctions between morality and immorality are discovered by emotional responses to experience. Some take it to be primarily a view about the nature of moral facts or moral beliefs (a primarily metaphysical view)—this form of the view more often goes by the name "sentimentalism". Others take the view to be primarily about the nature of justifying moral beliefs (a primarily epistemological view)—this form of the view more often goes by the name "moral sense theory". However, some theorists take the view to be one which claims that both moral facts and how one comes to be justified in believing them are necessarily bound up with human emotions.
Popular historical advocates of some version of the moral sense theory or sentimentalism include the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713), Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746), David Hume (1711–1776), and Adam Smith (1723–1790). Some contemporary advocates include Michael Slote, Justin D'Arms, Daniel Jacobson, Jesse Prinz, and perhaps John McDowell. Simon Blackburn and Allan Gibbard endorse a non-cognitivist form of sentimentalism.Neurophilosophy
Neurophilosophy or philosophy of neuroscience is the interdisciplinary study of neuroscience and philosophy that explores the relevance of neuroscientific studies to the arguments traditionally categorized as philosophy of mind. The philosophy of neuroscience attempts to clarify neuroscientific methods and results using the conceptual rigor and methods of philosophy of science.Paul of Venice
Paul of Venice (or Paulus Venetus; 1369–1429) was a Catholic philosopher, theologian, logician and metaphysician of the Order of Saint Augustine.Philosophy of psychiatry
The philosophy of psychiatry explores philosophical questions relating to psychiatry and mental illness. The philosopher of science and medicine Dominic Murphy identifies three areas of exploration in the philosophy of psychiatry. The first concerns the examination of psychiatry as a science, using the tools of the philosophy of science more broadly. The second entails the examination of the concepts employed in discussion of mental illness, including the experience of mental illness, and the normative questions it raises. The third area concerns the links and discontinuities between the philosophy of mind and psychopathology.Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) combines an online encyclopedia of philosophy with peer-reviewed publication of original papers in philosophy, freely accessible to Internet users. It is maintained by Stanford University. Each entry is written and maintained by an expert in the field, including professors from many academic institutions worldwide. Authors contributing to the encyclopedia give Stanford University the permission to publish the articles, but retain the copyright to those articles.Theological determinism
Theological determinism is a form of predeterminism which states that all events that happen are pre-ordained, or/and predestined to happen, by a God/gods, or that they are destined to occur given its omniscience. Theological determinism exists in a number of religions, including Jainism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is also supported by proponents of Classical pantheism such as the Stoics and Baruch Spinoza.Xin (concept)
In Chinese philosophy, xin can refer to one's "disposition" or "feelings" (Chinese: 心; pinyin: xīn), or to one's confidence or trust in something or someone (Chinese: 信; pinyin: xìn). Literally, xin (心) refers to the physical heart, though it is sometimes translated as "mind" as the ancient Chinese believed the heart was the center of human cognition. For this reason, it is also sometimes translated as "heart-mind". It has a connotation of intention, yet can be used to refer to long-term goals. Xunzi, an important early Confucian thinker, considered xin (心) to be cultivated during one's life, in contrast to innate qualities of xing (Chinese: 性; pinyin: xìng), or human nature.A Daoist view, specifically from the philosopher Zhuangzi, understands xin (心) as being socialized, with environmental pressures influencing personal intentions, sometimes in such a way that can provoke disagreements and conflict. While a Confucian might take heart that xin (心) may be cultivated in order to develop de, or moral virtue, Zhuangzi considered this socialization as detrimental to one's personal nature, somewhat along the lines of the later French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. However, unlike Rousseau, René Descartes and many other Enlightenment-era European philosophers following the classical example of Plato, emotion and reason were not considered separate entities, but rather as coextensive; xin (心) itself is a concept that is as much cognitive as emotional.Xun Kuang
Xun Kuang (; Chinese: 荀況; pinyin: Xún Kuàng [ɕy̌n kʰwâŋ]; c. 310 – c. 235 BC, alt. c. 314 – c. 217 BC), also widely known as Xunzi (; Chinese: 荀子; pinyin: Xúnzǐ; Wade–Giles: Hsün-tzu, "Master Xun"), was a Chinese Confucian philosopher and writer who lived during the Warring States period and contributed to the Hundred Schools of Thought. A book known as the Xunzi is traditionally attributed to him. His works survive in an excellent condition, and were a major influence in forming the official state doctrines of the Han dynasty, but his influence waned during the Tang dynasty relative to that of Mencius.Xunzi discusses figures ranging from Confucius, Mencius, and Zhuangzi, to Linguists Mozi, Hui Shi and Gongsun Long and "Legalists" Shen Buhai and Shen Dao. He mentions Laozi as a figure for the first time in early Chinese history, and makes use of Taoist terminology, though rejecting their doctrine.