The Status of Philosophical Problems

Peter Unger

in Philosophical Relativity

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195155532
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833818 | DOI:
The Status of Philosophical Problems

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Examines a different objection against the relativity hypotheses, the objection from superficiality, which takes the relativity hypotheses to be leaving deep philosophical issues aside. A similar objection is that the relativity hypotheses take many traditional philosophical problems to have the status of pseudoproblems. The objection from superficiality comes in several forms: the objection from particular expressions (that the relativity hypotheses rely on, restricting themselves to a limited set of locutions), the objection from a particular language (that the relativity hypotheses are too provincial and language‐centric), the objection from overgeneralization (that the relativity hypotheses have a scope so wide that all terms will be affected), and the objection from unnaturalness (that the relativity hypotheses are so unnatural that they should not be applied to venerable philosophical problems). All four forms of the objection from superficiality are countered and the point is argued that many traditional philosophical problems (universals being just one example) are left untouched by the relativity hypotheses. With regards to those that are not (“causation” and “freewill and determinism” for example), there is still much philosophical work to be done in these areas. The relativity hypotheses do not imply that such philosophical problems may be easily solved. The positive aspect of the relativity hypotheses is that the specific areas where they are active may be identified and distinguished in order to reveal the aspects of particular philosophical problems that may admit of nonarbitrary solutions.

Keywords: causation; determinism; free will; objection from a particular language; objection from overgeneralization; objection from particular expressions; objection from superficiality; objection from unnaturalness; pseudoproblems; universals

Chapter.  7112 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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