Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) is a scholarly online encyclopedia, dealing with philosophy, philosophical topics, and philosophers.[1] The IEP combines open access publication with peer reviewed publication of original papers. Contribution is generally by invitation, and contributors are recognized and leading international specialists within their field.[2]

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Type of site
Online encyclopedia
Created byJames Fieser
EditorJames Fieser and Bradley Dowden


The IEP was founded by philosopher James Fieser in 1995, operating through a non-profit organization with the aim of providing accessible and scholarly information on philosophy.Cite error: The <ref> tag has too many names (see the help page). The current general editors are philosophers James Fieser and Bradley Dowden, with the staff also including numerous area editors as well as volunteers.[3] The entire website was redesigned in the summer of 2009, moving from static HTML pages to the open-source publishing platform WordPress.[4]


The intended audience for the IEP is philosophy students and faculty who are not specialists within the field, and thus articles are written in an accessible style.[5] Articles consist of a brief survey or overview, followed by the body of the article, and an annotated bibliography.[6] Articles are searchable either by an alphabetical index or through a Google-power search mechanism.[7]


Similarweb analytics suggest that the IEP website is accessed worldwide between two and three million times per month.[8] Some 75% of this usage is through internet searches, 18% is through direct access, and 5% through referral, with the referring websites including other reference websites and university library guides.[9]


The IEP is included by the American Library Association in its listing of Best Free Reference Sites;[10] listed as an online philosophy resource by the Federation of Australasian Philosophy in Schools Associations;[11] listed by EpistemeLinks as one of the "outstanding resources" in philosophy on the internet;[12] and listed as a reliable resource in many university philosophy guides.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Oxford University ARCH Project,, accessed 11 September 2017.
  2. ^ Oxford University ARCH Project,, accessed 11 September 2017. See also Kooy, B. 2015. 'Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy', in Reference Review, Vol.29, No. 4, p. 12.
  3. ^ 'Law in free internet encyclopedia of philosophy (SEP and IEP)', in University of Chicago Library News, 22 January 2011,, accessed 11 September 2017; see also Kooy, B. 2015. 'Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy', in Reference Review, Vol.29,No.4, p.12.
  4. ^ "IEP Staff". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  5. ^ Kooy, B. 2015. 'Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy', in Reference Review, Vol. 29, No. 4, p. 12.
  6. ^ Kooy, B. 2015. 'Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy', in Reference Review, Vol.29, No.4, p. 12.
  7. ^ Kooy, B. 2015. 'Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy', in Reference Review, Vol.29, No.4, p. 12.
  8. ^ Similarweb data on IEP, at, accessed 18 September 2017.
  9. ^ Similarweb data on IEP, at, accessed 18 September 2017.
  10. ^ American Library Association (Reference and User Services Association) website,, accessed 11 September 2017.
  11. ^ Federation of Australasian Philosophy in Schools Associations,, accessed 12 September 2017
  12. ^ EpistemeLinks,, accessed 12 September 2017
  13. ^ See for instance, Cambridge University,, accessed 12 September 2017

External links

1952 in philosophy

1952 in philosophy

Applied ethics

Applied ethics refers to the practical application of moral considerations. It is ethics with respect to real-world actions and their moral considerations in the areas of private and public life, the professions, health, technology, law, and leadership. For example, the bioethics community is concerned with identifying the correct approach to moral issues in the life sciences, such as euthanasia, the allocation of scarce health resources, or the use of human embryos in research. Environmental ethics is concerned with ecological issues such as the responsibility of government and corporations to clean up pollution. Business ethics includes questions regarding the duties or duty of 'whistleblowers' to the general public or their loyalty to their employers. Applied ethics is distinguished from normative ethics, which concerns standards for right and wrong behavior, and from meta-ethics, which concerns the nature of ethical properties, statements, attitudes, and judgments.

Aztec philosophy

Aztec philosophy was a school of philosophy that developed out of Aztec culture. The Aztecs had a well-developed school of philosophy, perhaps the most developed in the Americas and in many ways comparable to Ancient Greek philosophy, even amassing more texts than the ancient Greeks. Aztec philosophy focused on dualism, monism, and aesthetics, and Aztec philosophers attempted to answer the main Aztec philosophical question of how to gain stability and balance in an ephemeral world.


Bhedābheda Vedānta is a subschool of Vedānta, which teaches that the individual self (jīvātman) is both different and not different from the ultimate reality known as Brahman.

Divine command theory

Divine command theory (also known as theological voluntarism) is a meta-ethical theory which proposes that an action's status as morally good is equivalent to whether it is commanded by God. The theory asserts that what is moral is determined by what God commands, and that for a person to be moral is to follow his commands. Followers of both monotheistic and polytheistic religions in ancient and modern times have often accepted the importance of God's commands in establishing morality.

Numerous variants of the theory have been presented: historically, figures including Saint Augustine, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham and Søren Kierkegaard have presented various versions of divine command theory; more recently, Robert Merrihew Adams has proposed a "modified divine command theory" based on the omnibenevolence of God in which morality is linked to human conceptions of right and wrong. Paul Copan has argued in favour of the theory from a Christian viewpoint, and Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski's divine motivation theory proposes that God's motivations, rather than commands, are the source of morality.

Semantic challenges to divine command theory have been proposed; the philosopher William Wainwright argued that to be commanded by God and to be morally obligatory do not have an identical meaning, which he believed would make defining obligation difficult. He also contended that, as knowledge of God is required for morality by divine command theory, atheists and agnostics could not be moral; he saw this as a weakness of the theory. Others have challenged the theory on modal grounds by arguing that, even if God's command and morality correlate in this world, they may not do so in other possible worlds. In addition, the Euthyphro dilemma, first proposed by Plato (in the context of polytheistic Greek religion), presented a dilemma which threatened either to leave morality subject to the whims of God, or challenge his omnipotence. Divine command theory has also been criticised for its apparent incompatibility with the omnibenevolence of God, moral autonomy and religious pluralism, although some scholars have attempted to defend the theory from these challenges.


Epistemology ( (listen); from Greek, Modern ἐπιστήμη, epistēmē, meaning 'knowledge', and λόγος, logos, meaning 'logical discourse') is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge.Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge, justification, and the rationality of belief. Much debate in epistemology centers on four areas: (1) the philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and how it relates to such concepts as truth, belief, and justification, (2) various problems of skepticism, (3) the sources and scope of knowledge and justified belief, and (4) the criteria for knowledge and justification. Epistemology addresses such questions as: "What makes justified beliefs justified?", "What does it mean to say that we know something?", and fundamentally "How do we know that we know?".

Factual relativism

Aletheic relativism argues that truth itself is relative. This form of relativism has its own particular problem, regardless of whether one is talking about truth being relative to the individual, the position or purpose of the individual, or the conceptual scheme within which the truth was revealed. This problem centers on what Mandelbaum (1962) termed the "self-excepting fallacy." Largely because of the self-excepting fallacy, few authors in the philosophy of science currently accept aletheic cognitive relativism. Factual relativism (also called epistemic relativism, epistemological relativism, alethic relativism or cognitive relativism) is a way to reason where facts used to justify any claims are understood to be relative and subjective to the perspective of those proving or falsifying the proposition.


Neostoicism was a syncretic philosophical movement, founded by Flemish humanist Justus Lipsius, that attempted to combine the beliefs of Stoicism and Christianity. Not to be confused with modern Stoicism, a similar movement in the early 21st century.

Norman Swartz

Norman Swartz (born 1939) is a professor emeritus (retired 1998) of philosophy, Simon Fraser University. He is the author or co-author of multiple books and multiple articles on the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. He earned a B.A. in physics from Harvard University in 1961, an M.A. in history and philosophy of science from Indiana University in 1965 and a Ph.D. in history of philosophy of science in 1971 also from Indiana University. He uses the term physical law to mean the laws of nature as they truly are and not as they are inferred and described in the practice of science.

Outline of aesthetics

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to aesthetics:

Aesthetics – branch of philosophy and axiology concerned with the nature of beauty.

Philosophy encyclopedia

A philosophy encyclopedia is a comprehensive reference work that seeks to make available to the reader a number of articles on the subject of philosophy. Many paper and online encyclopedias of philosophy have been written, with encyclopedias in general dating back to the 1st century AD with Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia.

Philosophy of happiness

The philosophy of happiness is the philosophical concern with the existence, nature, and attainment of happiness. Philosophers believe, happiness can be understood as the moral goal of life or as an aspect of chance; indeed, in most European languages the term happiness is synonymous with luck. Thus, philosophers usually explicate on happiness as either a state of mind, or a life that goes well for the person leading it.


Protagoras (; Greek: Πρωταγόρας; c. 490 BC – c. 420 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher and is numbered as one of the sophists by Plato. In his dialogue, Protagoras, Plato credits him with having invented the role of the professional sophist.

He also is believed to have created a major controversy during ancient times through his statement that, "Man is the measure of all things", interpreted by Plato to mean that there is no absolute truth, but that which individuals deem to be the truth. Although there is reason to question the extent of the interpretation of his arguments that has followed, that concept of individual relativity was revolutionary for the time, and contrasted with other philosophical doctrines that claimed the universe was based on something objective, outside human influence or perceptions.

Psychological egoism

Psychological egoism is the view that humans are always motivated by self-interest and selfishness, even in what seem to be acts of altruism. It claims that, when people choose to help others, they do so ultimately because of the personal benefits that they themselves expect to obtain, directly or indirectly, from doing. This is a descriptive rather than normative view, since it only makes claims about how things are, not how they ought to be. It is, however, related to several other normative forms of egoism, such as ethical egoism and rational egoism.

A specific form of psychological egoism is psychological hedonism, the view that the ultimate motive for all voluntary human action is the desire to experience pleasure or to avoid pain. Many discussions of psychological egoism focus on this type, but the two are not the same: theorists have explained behavior motivated by self-interest without using pleasure and pain as the final causes of behavior. Psychological hedonism argues actions are caused by both a need for pleasure immediately and in the future. However, immediate gratification can be sacrificed for a chance of greater, future pleasure. Further, humans are not motivated to strictly avoid pain and only pursue pleasure, but, instead, humans will endure pain to achieve the greatest net pleasure. Accordingly, all actions are tools for increasing pleasure or decreasing pain, even those defined as altruistic and those that do not cause an immediate change in satisfaction levels.

Reductio ad absurdum

In logic, reductio ad absurdum (Latin for "reduction to absurdity"), also known as argumentum ad absurdum (Latin for "argument to absurdity") or the appeal to extremes, is a form of argument that attempts either to disprove a statement by showing it inevitably leads to a ridiculous, absurd, or impractical conclusion, or to prove one by showing that if it were not true, the result would be absurd or impossible. Traced back to classical Greek philosophy in Aristotle's Prior Analytics (Greek: ἡ εἰς τὸ ἀδύνατον ἀπόδειξις, lit. 'demonstration to the impossible', 62b), this technique has been used throughout history in both formal mathematical and philosophical reasoning, as well as in debate.

The "absurd" conclusion of a reductio ad absurdum argument can take a range of forms, as these examples show:

The Earth cannot be flat; otherwise, we would find people falling off the edge.

There is no smallest positive rational number because, if there were, then it could be divided by two to get a smaller one.

There are no absolute truths = there's always an exception; an exception to this statement would require that there's no exception, which is nonsensical. Therefore, there must be absolute truth.The first example argues that denial of the premise would result in a ridiculous conclusion, against the evidence of our senses. The second example is a mathematical proof by contradiction which argues that the denial of the premise would result in a logical contradiction (there is a "smallest" number and yet there is a number smaller than it).


Solipsism ( (listen); from Latin solus, meaning 'alone', and ipse, meaning 'self') is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist. This extreme position is claimed to be irrefutable, as the solipsist believes themself to be the only true authority, all others being creations of their own mind.

Theory of justification

The theory of justification is a part of epistemology that attempts to understand the justification of propositions and beliefs. Epistemologists are concerned with various epistemic features of belief, which include the ideas of justification, warrant, rationality, and probability. Loosely speaking, justification is the reason that someone (properly) holds a belief.

When a claim is in doubt, justification can be used to support the claim and reduce or remove the doubt. Justification can use empiricism (the evidence of the senses), authoritative testimony (the appeal to criteria and authority), or reason.

Voluntarism (philosophy)

Voluntarism is "any metaphysical or psychological system that assigns to the will (Latin: voluntas) a more predominant role than that attributed to the intellect", or, equivalently, "the doctrine that will is the basic factor, both in the universe and in human conduct". This description has been applied to various points of view, from different cultural eras, in the areas of metaphysics, psychology, political philosophy, and theology.

The term "voluntarism" was introduced by Ferdinand Tönnies into the philosophical literature and particularly used by Wilhelm Wundt and Friedrich Paulsen.

Yablo's paradox

Yablo's paradox is a logical paradox published by Stephen Yablo in 1985. It is similar to the liar paradox. Unlike the liar paradox, which uses a single sentence, this paradox uses an infinite list of sentences, each referring to sentences occurring further down the list. Analysis of the list shows there is no consistent way to assign truth values to any of its members. Since everything on the list refers only to later sentences, Yablo claims his paradox is "not in any way circular." However, Graham Priest disputes this.

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