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Title: A study of metaphysical disputation illustrated by the Locke-Berkeley dispute about the nature of the external world and by a similar modern dispute
Author: Lake, Beryl L.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1955
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The metaphysical dispute purporting to be about the ultimate nature of material things waged by Berkeley against Locke has these puzzling features: 1. It is irresolvable; both conclusions are designed to be logically fortified against refutation - by fact, common sense belief, or ordinary linguistic use. Thus each becomes logically necessary. 2. Nevertheless the contestants appeal to plain facts and ordinary speech in support of their theories, which thus appear to be empirical hypotheses. 3. The Locke-Berkeley dispute, although irresolvable, persists, and recurs in some twentieth century disputation about the material world and our knowledge of it. A detailed study of selected metaphysical texts reveals these eccentric characteristics. The hypothesis is offered that they appear eccentric only if we expect metaphysics to be like the natural sciences, philology, or plain description of empirical situations. I claim to explain points 1-3 as follows: 1. The dispute is irresolvable, and its conclusions a priori true in terms of the respective systems, because metaphysicians do not provide or describe ordinary information about the world or about language, but interpret it in accordance with a specific motive, determined by non-philosophical interest, and in the service of a general attitude which is expressed in a theory about how the world ought to be described. Redefinitions and special interpretations give an a priori air to the conclusions, but the dispute is basically a clash of attitude. 2. The metaphysical views look empirical because they arise from matter-of-fact considerations, and present a 'picture' of what the material world really is, though neither a description nor a scientific explanation. 3. The dispute is persistent, because the attitudes involved in its expression are common outlooks, which have been evident in western philosophy since the Ancient Greek Philosophers. It is also persistent because clashes of attitude can never be conclusively settled. The nature of a metaphysical view becomes clearer if we think about it by analogy with a work of art, rather than by analogy with a scientific hypothesis, a commonsense description, or a philological account.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Epistemology