Conceptual Analysis From A Non-Conceptualist Point Of View.

“Diogenes Sheltering in His Barrel,” by John William Waterhouse



#4: Further implications of non-conceptualism: sometimes, hell is other species.

#3: Implications of non-conceptualism: the existential counterpunch.

#2: The incoherence of public philosophy, and what can be done about it.

#1: What is “the debate about non-conceptual content,” and why does it matter so damned much?

The Omnibus Edition contains the nineteen installments of the First Series of THINKING FOR A LIVING, revised and collected into a single volume, as a downloadable .pdf for universal free sharing–


#19: The incoherence and impossibility of personal immortality.

#18: A new argument against capital punishment.

#17: Fear, denial, and loathing in the philosophy of mind.

#16: The political aesthetics of outer space.

#15: The paradox of distributive social justice, and what is to be done?

#14: How a priori knowledge is really possible.

#13: Is a priori knowledge really possible? Yes; here’s proof.

#12: Is human free agency really possible? Yes; here’s how.

#11: What is democracy?

#10: Fear, loathing, and Pascal in Las Vegas: radical agnosticism.

#9: The philosophy of policing, crime, and punishment.

#8: The philosophy of borders, immigration, and refugees.

#7: The philosophy of old age.

#6: Faces, masks, personal identity, and Teshigahara.

#5: Processualism, organicism, and the two waves of the organicist revolution.

#4: Realistic idealism: ten theses about mind-dependence.

#3: Kant, universities, The Deep(er) State, and philosophy.

#2: When Merleau-Ponty Met The Whiteheadian Kripke Monster.

#1: Introductory; The rise and fall of Analytic philosophy; Cosmopolitanism and the real philosophy of the future; How to socialize the philosophy of mind.

26. Conceptual analysis from a non-conceptualist point of view. In recent installments of Thinking For A Living, I’ve been spelling out the nature and implications of Non-Conceptualism.

But it’s very important to recognize that Non-Conceptualism is also smoothly compatible with the use of conceptual analysis as a philosophical method, provided

(i) that conceptual analysis isn’t the only philosophical method that’s deployed or deployable by the philosopher, and more specifically, that there are two other irreducibly distinct philosophical methods that complement and supplement conceptual analysis, namely, phenomenological description and transcendental argumentation for the purposes of real metaphysics: see, e.g., this–


(ii) that the theory of concepts underlying conceptual analysis presupposes the truth of Non-Conceptualism/Non-Intellectualism and the falsity of Conceptualism/Intellectualism.

27. Assuming that those provisions are in place, then what is conceptual analysis?

A classical or typical philosophical problem has a three-part structure:

(i) there’s an “explanatory gap” between some set of basic facts and another set of basic facts,

(ii) there’s a conceptual knot, or theoretical puzzle, that needs to be untangled before there can be any significant progress in philosophical understanding, and

(iii) there is a critically-unexamined presupposition, or set of critically-unexamined presuppositions, being made by all participants in the existing debate.

Significant progress on a philosophical problem can then be made only by

(i) identifying the explanatory gaps, conceptual knots, and critically-unexamined presuppositions,

(ii) critically questioning the presuppositions, and then

(iii) proposing a creative, original way of looking at the basic facts.

Now the gappiest of all explanatory gaps, the knottiest of all conceptual knots, and the most-critically-unexamined of all critically-unexamined presuppositions are what are sometimes called hard problems of philosophy, as in: the mind-body problem, the free will problem, the problem of knowledge, the problem of universals, the moral problem, the problem of political authority, the problem of God’s existence or non-existence, etc., etc.

But the later Wittgenstein had a more illuminating and vivid way of describing such problems, by using the analogy or metaphor of a fly trapped in a bottle:

What is your aim in philosophy? —To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle.

(L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, trans. G.E.M. Anscombe [New York: Macmillan, 1953], para. §309, p. 103e, translation slightly modified)

There are two important features of this analogy or metaphor.

First, the fly is trapped in transparent bottle that’s simply invisible to it, or at least almost impossible for it to detect, as a bottle: so too, the philosopher who is encountering a hard problem of philosophy finds the deeply gappy and knotty conceptual structure of the problem s/he’s encountering to be either simply invisible or at least almost impossible to detect.

Second, like a fish surrounded by water, the fly is completely unaware of the transparent medium it’s buzzing around in, the air: so too, the philosopher who is encountering a hard problem of philosophy is completely unaware of the unexamined presuppositions of the conceptual gaps and knots of the problem.

Where do all the philosophical fly-bottles come from?

My thesis, which I call The New Poverty of Philosophy, is that, to the extent that these are hard problems of recent and contemporary philosophy, they all flow ultimately from the social-institutional structure of recent and contemporary professional academic philosophy.

I’ve spelled out that thesis and defended it in “Thinking Inside and Outside the Fly-Bottle: The New Poverty of Philosophy and its Second Copernican Revolution,” in the THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, volume 1, part 2, essay 2.4, so I won’t do that again here.

Nevertheless, The New Poverty of Philosophy is a necessary and indeed essential part of what I mean by “conceptual analysis.”

So, assuming the two provisions I mentioned above, and also assuming The New Poverty of Philosophy, then all that taken together is what I’m calling conceptual analysis from a Non-Conceptualist point of view

28. Conceptual analysis from a Non-Conceptualist point of view, in turn, draws on a further resource: a philosophical lexicon, consisting of a working list of basic philosophical terms, concepts, and conceptual distinctions.

Following somewhat in the universalist footsteps of Leibniz, Frege, and Russell, but also and above all heeding what Peirce called “the ethics of terminology,” the purpose of such a lexicon is to provide a set of basic, clearly and distinctly defined ideas for the purposes of philosophical discussion and inquiry—a lingua franca or common language for philosophical dialogue.

To be sure, the construction of a philosophical lexicon for conceptual analysis from a Non-Conceptualist point of view is a work-in-progress, forever open to critical examination, revision, and updating. 

Nevertheless, insofar as we are, as Heideggerian philosophers like to say, “always already” (immer schon) existentially, practically, essentially non-conceptually, linguistically, conceptually, and philosophically embarked, and forever in the very thick of things, then we just can’t go back to presuppositionless, pure or unadulterated beginnings here, even in principle, so we must perforce speak our philosophical lingua franca even as we construct it. 

29. Here are four preliminaries, followed by the current version of the philosophical lexicon.

(i) All terms in boldface have a definition or explication somewhere on the list.

(ii) All of these definitions are, to some extent, controversial, precisely because they imply a certain philosophical point of view, or set of presuppositions, that not all philosophers share.

(iii) Entries marked with an asterisk* indicate a particularly controversial definition, and also include a brief description of the controversy, in italics.

(iv) Some entries also include a philosopher’s name in parenthesis, if that definition is closely historically associated with a formulation that was original to that philosopher.

Abstract*: an entity that is not uniquely located in space or time, and does not literally belong to any mental or physical causal processes.

Controversy: Classical “platonic” definitions of abstractness require existence or subsistence outside of space and time, which entails causal irrelevance or inertness.

This definition of abstractness, however, does not require extra-spatiotemporality, nor does it entail causal irrelevance.

E.g., according to this definition of abstractness, the Equator is abstract, even though you can actually cross it; and immanent structures of all kinds are also abstract, e.g., social institutions, although they are obviously all causally relevant and sometimes even causally efficacious.

Acts: things that animal subjects with consciousness do or perform, and that do not merely happen to them (Harry Frankfurt).

Actual world: this world, here and now; the world in which we live, move, and have our being.

Agency: the capacity or power of an animal subject with consciousness to carry out acts.

Agency, cognitive: the capacity or power of an animal subject with consciousness to carry out acts of cognition.

Agency, practical: the capacity or power of an animal subject with consciousness to carry out acts with free will in the light of principles or reasons, including moral principles or reasons, on the basis of processes of deliberation and decision also manifesting self-consciousness.

Anarchism*: the political doctrine according to which

(i) the state is rationally unjustified (see justification) and immoral because it uses coercion, including violence, to compel people (see person) to obey its laws, even if those laws are morally wrong, and

(ii) all people (see person) should freely associate with one another for their mutual aid and individual or relational self-realization.

Controversy: This definition is a “broad” one that is neutral as between

(i) “bomb-throwing” or violent anarchism, according to which coercion is instrumentally justified for the purposes of destroying the state, and

(ii) Kantian anarchism, which is consistently non-coercive and non-violent, because it holds that all coercion is morally impermissible because it involves a violation of sufficient respect for the dignity of human persons by treating people as either mere means or mere things, but also holds that minimal sufficiently effective, last resort, defensive, protective, and preventive moral force is morally permissible, by which it means that such force is permissible only as a last resort, by either using the smallest sufficiently effective level of force or threat of force, or deploying the smallest sufficiently effective threat of appreciable, salient harm, whether this actually involves force or not, in order to defend against, protect against, or prevent, oneself or someone else being primarily or secondarily coerced (see coercion), or having their rational human dignity directly violated.

Analysis: either (i) the systematic breaking-down of concepts or meanings (conceptual decomposition) or things (metaphysical analysis) into their essential (see essence) component parts, or (ii) critical, creative, conceptually-driven philosophical reasoning (conceptual analysis).

Animal*: an organism with the psychological capacity or power for sentience.

Controversy: Many definitions of animal are strictly biological, whereas this one conforms more closely to the study of animals in cognitive ethology, presupposing that they are organisms possessing at least some psychological capacities or powers, even if only minimally.

A posteriori*: cognition or belief or knowledge insofar as its semantic content or truth or justification is dependent on inner or outer sensory experiences, in the sense that it is supervenient (see supervenience) on sensory experiences.

Controversy: See a priori.

A priori*: cognition or belief or knowledge insofar as its semantic content or truth or justification is not dependent on inner or outer sensory experiences, in the sense that it is not supervenient (see supervenience) on sensory experiences, even if it is associated with sensory experiences or has significant sensory content.

Controversy: There are many different conceptions of apriority and aposteriority, and of the distinction between them.

Some of these definitions are strictly epistemological, some are semantic or truth-theoretic, some are psychological, some blend one or two of these classifications, and so-on.

This definition is epistemic, semantic/truth-theoretic, and psychological; and it is also specifically modal (necessary underdetermination or determination [aposteriority] by sensory experience), with a Kantian inspiration, and does not require that the mere presence of significant sensory content in evidence, truth-conditions, propositional content, triggering conditions, etc., entails aposteriority.

It should also be noted that it is presupposed by this definition that sensory experiences necessarily include contingent facts, hence modal contingency is built into the very facts that either underdetermine or determine apriority or aposteriority.

Argument: a proposition or set of propositions (the premises) put forward by someone as true, in rational support of another proposition (the conclusion).

Autonomy, individual: the capacity or power of an animal subject with consciousness to engage in practical agency (see agency, practical) according to principles of her own choosing, hence self-legislated principles.

Autonomy, relational: the coordinated practical agency (see agency, practical) of each of the members of a group of persons (see person), aka people, according to shared principles of their own choosing, hence multiply self-legislated principles.

Belief*: the sincere assertion of a proposition.

Controversy: This definition of belief is a “narrow” one, that requires the presence of self-consciousness, consciousness, and propositions, whereas many other definitions do not.

The cognitive acts, states, or processes covered by those other definitions of belief all fall under cognition in this lexicon.

Belief in this “narrow sense” sense is “belief-that,” or propositional belief, as opposed to “belief-in,” which is roughly equivalent with the German term “Glaube” when it is used to mean “faith.”

Coercion: either

(i) using violence (e.g. injuring, torturing, or killing) or the threat of violence, in order to manipulate people according to certain purposes of the coercer (primary coercion), or

(ii) inflicting appreciable, salient harm (e.g., imprisonment, termination of employment, large monetary penalties, etc.) or deploying the threat of appreciable, salient harm, even if these are not in themselves violent, in order to manipulate people according to certain purposes of the coercer (secondary coercion).

Cognition*: the mental representation of something.

Controversy: Cognition is a term that is in common use in cognitive psychology and the cognitive sciences, and means essentially the same as intentionality.

Cognition is also a reasonably good English translation of the German term “Erkenntnis,” often mistranslated as knowledge.

Cognition covers sense perception, memory, imagination, anticipation, conceptualization, belief, knowledge, inference, and reasoning of all sorts.

Many definitions of cognition entail non-affectivity, that is, no felt or emotional component, and exclude action-oriented intentions: hence the common philosophical distinction between “the cognitive” and “the non-cognitive.”

This definition of cognition, by contrast, is “broad” in that it is fully open to affectivity– that is, desire, feeling, and emotion, or in general, caring–and action-intentions, hence it is also fully open to “belief-in” or faith, as a mode of cognition.

Presupposed by this “broad” definition of cognition, moreover, is a fundamental distinction between two kinds of cognitive content, , i.e., representational content, i.e., information that individuates mental states and normatively guides mental activities:

(i) conceptual content, which is general, description-theoretic, allocentric (third-personal), and intellectual in character, poised for logical reasoning, and

(ii) essentially non-conceptual content, which is indexical or context-dependent, directly referential, egocentric (first-personal), non-intellectual (hence caring-oriented and action-oriented), and veridical in character.

This definition of cognition also presupposes that all cognition is conscious, although not necessarily self-conscious or reflective.

Indeed, this definition of cognition presupposes The Deep Consciousness Thesis:

Necessarily, all mentality is saliently conscious, even if only non-self-consciously and pre-reflectively.

Hence according to this way of thinking about cognition, there is no such thing as non-conscious mentality, the “cognitive unconscious,” the Freudian unconscious, or the “sub-personal”; and “tacit” means “pre-reflectively conscious.”

Concepts: the meanings of general terms or predicates in language; essentially general and descriptive mental representations used for characterizing and categorizing things, and for picking out properties.

Conceptual decomposition: the systematic breaking-down of concepts or meanings into their essential (see essence) component parts, with the aim of achieving a priori knowledge of their necessary (see necessary condition and necessarily true) relationships.

Concrete*: an entity that is uniquely located in space or time, and literally belongs to some mental or physical causal processes.

Controversy: see abstract.

Consciousness*: what it is like to be, for an organism (Thomas Nagel); the psychological capacity or power of an animal for subjective experience.

Controversy: This definition is highly controversial, in three ways.

First, it defines the specific character of consciousness (“what it is like to be”) in terms of organisms: hence consciousness entails organismic life, and embodiment.

This excludes many definitions of consciousness, restricted to the “what it is like to be” component, in terms of mere mental acquaintance with (or instantiation of) qualia or sense-data; indeed, this definition of consciousness presupposes that there really are no such things as qualia or sense-data (qualia-eliminativism).

Second, it defines consciousness in terms of (i) subjectivity (egocentric centering) and (ii) experience, and necessarily, all experience has cognitive content.

Third, the kind of experience that is assumed to be fundamental is affect-oriented and essentially embodied: more precisely, to experience is fundamentally to feel things throughout one’s living body (care, desire, emote, etc.), which leads to what I’ll call “the essentially embodied cogito”:

I “feel it in my bones,” therefore I am.

Hence this definition presupposes not only that consciousness and cognition (intentionality) are necessarily complementary, but also that the primitive nature of consciousness is necessarily and completely embodied, and non-intellectual.

Contingent: a proposition that is neither necessarily true nor necessarily false; a thing that exists in some but not every possible world.

Deductive* argument: an argument that purports to be logically valid.

Controversy: It is not assumed by this definition that deduction is the only basic kind of argumentation or inference: there are also

(i) inductive arguments and inferences (projective generalizations from contingent facts), and

(ii) abductive arguments and inferences (inferences to the best explanation of a set of facts, usually contingent facts but sometimes necessary or possible facts),

neither of which has a form that is logically valid.

Democracy, ethical: the unwavering commitments to

(i) universal respect for the dignity of human persons (see person),

(ii) individual autonomy (see autonomy, individual),

(iii) relational autonomy (see autonomy, relational), and

(iv) universal resistance against human oppression.

Democracy, minimal: the rule of the majority of all the people (see persons) qualified to vote.

Controversy: minimal democracy entails neither procedural democracy nor ethical democracy, a perhaps surprising fact that is known as “the tyranny of the majority.”

Democracy, procedural: the open process of critical discussion and critical examination of opinions and social institutions, and, simultaneously, the unfettered expression of different opinions and lifestyles.

Controversy: procedural democracy entails neither minimal democracy nor ethical democracy, another perhaps surprising fact that is empirically demonstrated by the USA’s Electoral College system and also known as “the tyranny of the minority.”

Dualism, explanatory: : the thesis that concepts about one kind of thing cannot be analyzed solely in terms of concepts about another kind of thing, and also that the two classes of concepts are logically independent of one another, in the sense that concepts in each class can apply to something without concepts in the other class applying to that thing.

Dualism, ontological: the thesis that one kind of substances, facts, or properties (e.g., mental substances, facts, or properties) is irreducible to and independent of another kind of substances, facts, or properties (e.g., physical substances, facts, or properties), in the sense that each kind has at best a contingent connection with the other kind, such that

(i) instances of one kind can exist without instances of the other kind existing, and

(ii) neither kind is a necessary condition or a sufficient condition of the other kind (René Descartes).

Epistemology*: the theory of knowledge; the theory of the justification of (true) belief and of replies to skepticism about knowledge-claims; the theory of cognition.

Controversy: To the extent that epistemology is the theory of cognition, this is a “broad” definition of epistemology, since most definitions of epistemology restrict it to theory of knowledge, i.e., the theory of the justification of (true) belief and of replies to skepticism about knowledge-claims.

Essence: that which is constitutive of something X; that which is both a necessary condition and a sufficient condition of X.

Ethics*: human values, ideals, and standards; the philosophical study of human values, ideals, and standards.

Controversy: This a “broad” definition of ethics that corresponds to the German term “Sittlichkeit,” and is not strictly equivalent with morality.

Many definitions of ethics are narrower and strictly equivalent with morality.

Free will: the capacity or power of an animal subject with consciousness to choose or do what it wants to, or to refrain from so choosing or so doing, without preventative constraints and without internal or external compulsion, with at least causal responsibility (see responsibility, causal).

Intentionality: cognition plus consciousness; the psychological capacity or power of an animal subject with consciousness to carry out acts (see act) of mental directedness towards things (Franz Brentano, Edmund Husserl).

Intrinsic property: a property of something X that is a necessary condition of X.

Justification: a reason or a set of reasons offered by someone in support of a belief or proposition.

Knowledge*: sufficiently justified (see justification) true belief.

Controversy: This is a “narrow” definition of knowledge, corresponding to professional academic philosophical practice since 1950.

But since many non-rational animals can know things—e.g., dogs and human babies can know the people who look after them—there are also perfectly acceptable uses of knowledge that do not entail either belief or justification, but rather entail only veridical and contextually reliable cognition.

Liberalism, classical: the political doctrine according to which all people are essentially self-interested and mutually antagonistic, hence require a coercive central government, formed by a social contract, and also a larger, well-ordered, law-governed coercive state mechanism—including police, prisons, armies, and constant security surveillance—in order to ensure their mutual non-interference and individual pursuit of self-interested goals.

Liberalism, neo-: the political doctrine that combines

(i) classical liberalism (see liberalism, classical),

(ii) the valorization of capitalism, especially global corporate capitalism, and

(iii) technocracy, the scientifically-guided control and mastery of human nature and physical nature alike, for the sake of pursuing individually and collectively self-interested ends and large-scale capitalist ends.

Logical entailment: logical consequence; the relationship between the premises and conclusion of a logically valid argument.

Logically consistent: one or more propositions (see proposition) that can be jointly true; one or more propositions (see proposition) that are not logically contradictory either with one another or with themselves.

Logically contradictory: a proposition that violates a logical law or is necessarily false; two or more propositions (see proposition) that cannot be either jointly true or jointly false.

Logically sound: an argument such that

(i) it is logically valid and

(ii) all of its premises are true.

Logically valid: an argument such that there is no possible set of circumstances (or: no possible world) in which the premises are all true and the conclusion is false, and otherwise is logically invalid.

Meaning*: the sense (aka connotation, intension) or reference (aka denotation, extension) of a linguistic expression; the sense, reference, and truth-conditions (i.e., the conditions under which it is true or false) of an indicative sentence.

Controversy: This is a “narrow” definition of meaning in terms of the semantics of propositions, statements, or indicative sentences in natural languages.

But there are also many perfectly acceptable, non-technical uses of meaning that apply to

(i) speech acts of various kinds other than statements (e.g., promises or questions),

(ii) communication more generally, not necessarily linguistic,

(iii) cognitive content, as defined above under cognition,

(iv) natural or conventional indicators (as in: “smoke means fire” or “the skull and crossbones means danger of death”), and

(v) purpose and value (as in: “the meaning of life”).

Metaphysics*: the science more fundamental than any natural science; the science of necessary truths about the basic principles and causes of everything in the universe, usually taken to include both conceptual analysis and ontology; “first philosophy” (Descartes).

Controversy: This is a “broad” definition of metaphysics that includes conceptual analysis, ontology, and cosmology.

This definition of metaphysics such that it contains (or is equivalent with) cosmology, in turn, corresponds to the controversial definition of universe given below.

Many definitions of metaphysics are narrower than this, and exclude one or more of conceptual analysis, ontology, and cosmology.

Modality: that which includes the concepts or properties of necessity (see necessarily true, necessarily false, and necessary condition) possibility (see possible world), contingency (see contingent), and actuality (see actual world).

Morality*: the principles or strict rules of rational (see rationality) conduct.

Controversy: This is a “narrow” definition of morality that is basically equivalent with the German term “Moralität” and applies to (more or less) principled rational conduct only.

Many definitions of morality are equivalent with definitions of ethics.

Morally impermissible: conduct that is proscribed by morality; conduct that it is morally obligatory not to engage in.

Morally obligatory: conduct that is required by morality; what rational (see rationality) agents or persons ought to do.

Morally permissible: conduct that is logically consistent with, but not necessarily required by, morality.

Naturalistic fallacy: the attempt to reduce what is morally obligatory to what is merely factual; the attempt to reduce the “ought” to the “is.”

Necessary condition: (i) where X and Y are both things, X is a necessary condition of Y if and only if the existence of Y guarantees the existence of X and the non-existence of X guarantees the non-existence of Y;

(ii) where P and Q are both propositions and it is true that if P then Q, then Q is a necessary condition for P.

Necessarily false: a proposition that is false in every possible world; impossible.

Necessarily true: a proposition that is true in every possible world; true no matter what.

Ontology: the  comprehensive philosophical theory of the sorts, kinds, and categories of things in the universe; “the science of being qua being” (Aristotle); the theory of “what there is” (W.V.O. Quine).

Particular: an individual thing (usually concrete) insofar as it instantiates a universal; a token of a type.

Person*: an animal with capacities or powers for consciousness, self-consciousness, free will, individual autonomy (see autonomy, individual), relational autonomy (see autonomy, relational), practical agency (see agency, practical), and deep moral responsibility (see responsibility, deep moral).

Controversy: This is a “narrow” definition of person, corresponding to the (broadly) Kantian conception of a person: according to this conception, only some but not all human beings are human persons; e.g., human infants with anencephaly, human beings in persistent vegetative states, and human beings that are incurably, permanantly insane, are all not persons.

Many philosophers and non-philosophers, however, use person interchangeably with “human being.”

Phenomenology: the specific character of consciousness, and in particular of the acts (see act) of intentionality and their cognitive contents, as defined under Cognition above, (Brentano, Husserl), insofar as this specific character is directly given to the experiencing subject; the philosophical study of the specific character of consciousness by means of reflexive attention or self-conscious (see self-consciousness) introspection.

Physicalism: the thesis that mental properties or facts are explanatorily and ontologically reducible to physical properties or facts.

Possible world: a complete, coherent, and logically consistent different way the actual world could be.

Properties: general features of things; universals having some instances in the actual world as well as some instances in at least one possible world; two properties are identical if and only if they share all their instances in common across every possible world.

Proposition: the meaning of a statement or an indicative sentence in a language; what is shared by statements or indicative sentences in different languages that have the same meaning; that which is essentially either true or false (the truth-bearer).

Rationality: the complex psychological capacity for a priori knowledge, logical reasoning, practical decision-making, and reflective self-consciousness (see self-consciousness, reflective).

Responsibility, causal: a person’s, other kind of animal’s, or a thing’s, causal control over something.

Responsibility, moral: a person’s rational control over something.

Reponsibility, deep moral: a choice or action X that exemplifies free will, that flows from the practical agent herself, and is also such that the normative value of X, especially any moral value of X or of some of X’s consequences that there might be, also attaches to the practical agent (see agency, practical) herself.

Responsibility, shallow moral: second-or-third-person attributions of moral responsibility, especially including “reactive attitudes” (P.F. Strawson) or judgments, of blame, praise, resentment, punishment, etc., made by other people (see person), for whatever reason, which may, in turn, be rationally unjustified (see justification) and immoral.

Semantic content*: representational content (not necessarily linguistic); meaning (in language).

Controversy: see meaning.

Self-consciousness: the psychological capacity or power of an animal subject possessing consciousness,for being conscious of its own consciousness.

Self-consciousness, reflective: psychological capacity or power of an animal subject possessing consciousness, for self-consciousness, insofar as it is extended to

(i) the retrospective and prospective evaluation of its own life and conduct, and

(ii) the normative significance of its own death.

Sentience: the psychological capacity or power of an organism for feeling, especially including pleasure or pain.

Sufficient condition: (i) where X and Y are both things, X is a sufficient condition of Y if and only if the existence of X guarantees the existence of Y and the non-existence of Y guarantees the non-existence of X;

(ii) where P and Q are both propositions (see proposition) and it is true that if P then Q, then P is a sufficient condition for Q.

Supervenience: where A and B are things, facts, events, or properties, B supervenes on A if and only if

(i) necessarily A is a sufficient condition for B, and

(ii) necessarily nothing varies in its B-features without also correspondingly varying in its A-features (or alternatively: no two things can share all their A-features in common unless they also share all their B features in common) (or alternatively: any two things that are identical with respect to all their A-features must also be identical with respect to all their B-features).

Supervenience is also known as “one-way” or “upwards” strict determination.

True*: a proposition, sentence, statement, or theory that conforms to the actual facts.

Controversy: This is a “narrow” definition of truth that implies some or another sort of minimal real structural correspondence (isomorphism) relation and metaphysical realism, although not necessarily noumenal realism; and it is assumed to be consistent with the  minimal characterization of truth proposed by Alfred Tarski:

“P” is true if and only if P.

Nevertheless, many philosophers and non-philosophers are anti-realists and/or use true to mean the same as “coherent,” “assertible with an evidential warrant,” “assertible because it satisfies human interests,” etc., or even simply “genuine.”

Types vs. tokens: universals vs. concrete particulars; in language, abstract linguistic expressions (words, phrases, sentences) vs. their distinct concrete occurrences.

Universals: essentially general abstract entities that can be instantiated by particulars.

Universe*: what contains both the actual world and every possible world.

Controversy: This is a “broad” definition of universe that is basically equivalent with “cosmos,” “nature,” and “world,” and does not entail that everything in the universe is actual, fundamentally physical, or mechanical.

On the contrary, this definition of universe presupposes that logical structure, mathematical structure, spatiotemporal structure, logical possibilities (see possible world), real possibilities, necessity, natural laws, non-mechanical processes, non-deterministic processes, natural purposes, living organisms, animals, consciousness, cognition, persons, free will, normativity, and values of all kinds also belong primitively and irreducibly to the universe, and are real.

Against Professional Philosophy is a sub-project of the online mega-project Philosophy Without Borders, which is home-based on Patreon here.

Please consider becoming a patron!