Edward N. Zalta
Zalta speaking at Wikimania 2015
|Born||March 16, 1952|
|Alma mater|| Rice University |
University of Massachusetts Amherst
|Institutions|| University of Auckland |
University of Salzburg
CSLI, Stanford University
|Thesis||An Introduction to a Theory of Abstract Objects (1981)|
|Doctoral advisor||Terence Parsons|
|Epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of language, intensional logic, philosophy of logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of mind, intentionality, situation theory|
|Abstract object theory, exemplifying and encoding a property as two modes of predication, Platonized naturalism, computational metaphysics|
Edward Nouri Zalta // ; born March 16, 1952) is a senior research scholar at the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University. He received his BA at Rice University in 1975 and his PhD from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1981, both in philosophy. 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 .(
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.
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among [the study of] the natural". It has been suggested that the term might have been coined by a first century AD editor who assembled various small selections of Aristotle’s works into the treatise we now know by the name Metaphysics.
In metaphysics, nominalism is a philosophical view which denies the existence of universals and abstract objects, but affirms the existence of general or abstract terms and predicates. There are at least two main versions of nominalism. One version denies the existence of universals – things that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things. The other version specifically denies the existence of abstract objects – objects that do not exist in space and time.
Ontology is the philosophical study of being. More broadly, it studies concepts that directly relate to being, in particular becoming, existence, reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology often deals with questions concerning what entities exist or may be said to exist and how such entities may be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.
The problem of universals is an ancient question from metaphysics which has inspired a range of philosophical topics and disputes. Should the properties an object has in common with other objects, such as colour and shape, be considered to exist beyond those objects? And if a property exists separately from objects, what is the nature of that existence?
The problem of other minds is a philosophical problem traditionally stated as the following epistemological question: Given that I can only observe the behavior of others, how can I know that others have minds? It is a major issue of the philosophical idea known as solipsism: the notion that for any person only one's own mind is known to exist. Solipsism maintains that no matter how sophisticated someone's behavior is, behavior on its own does not guarantee the presence of mentality.
In metaphysics, a universal is what particular things have in common, namely characteristics or qualities. In other words, universals are repeatable or recurrent entities that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things. For example, suppose there are two chairs in a room, each of which is green. These two chairs both share the quality of "chairness", as well as greenness or the quality of being green; in other words, they share a "universal". There are three major kinds of qualities or characteristics: types or kinds, properties, and relations. These are all different types of universals.
Analytic philosophy is a branch or tradition of philosophy using analysis which is popular in the Western World and Anglosphere, beginning around the turn of the 20th century in the contemporary era and continues today. In the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia, the majority of university philosophy departments today identify themselves as "analytic" departments.
In logic and philosophy, a property is a characteristic of an object; a red object is said to have the property of redness. The property may be considered a form of object in its own right, able to possess other properties. A property, however, differs from individual objects in that it may be instantiated, and often in more than one thing. It differs from the logical/mathematical concept of class by not having any concept of extensionality, and from the philosophical concept of class in that a property is considered to be distinct from the objects which possess it. Understanding how different individual entities can in some sense have some of the same properties is the basis of the problem of universals.
In metaphysics, abstract and concrete are classifications that denote whether the object that a term describes has physical referents. Abstract objects have no physical referents, whereas concrete objects do. They are most commonly used in philosophy and semantics. Abstract objects are sometimes called abstracta and concrete objects are sometimes called concreta. An abstract object is an object that does not exist at any particular time or place, but rather exists as a type of thing—i.e., an idea, or abstraction. The term abstract object is said to have been coined by Willard Van Orman Quine.
In metaphysics, realism about a given object is the view that this object exists in reality independently of our conceptual scheme. In philosophical terms, these objects are ontologically independent of someone's conceptual scheme, perceptions, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc.
Bastiaan Cornelis van Fraassen is a Dutch-American philosopher noted for his seminal contributions to philosophy of science and epistemology. He is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University and the McCosh Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Princeton University.
A free logic is a logic with fewer existential presuppositions than classical logic. Free logics may allow for terms that do not denote any object. Free logics may also allow models that have an empty domain. A free logic with the latter property is an inclusive logic.
In metaphysics and the philosophy of language, the "round square copula" is a common example of the dual copula strategy used in reference to the problem of nonexistent objects as well as their relation to problems in modern philosophy of language. The issue arose, most notably, between the theories of Alexius Meinong and Bertrand Russell.
Meinong's jungle is the name given by Richard Routley (1980) to the repository of non-existent objects in the ontology of Alexius Meinong.
The philosophy of computer science is concerned with the philosophical questions that arise within the study of computer science. There is still no common understanding of the content, aim, focus, or topic of the philosophy of computer science, despite some attempts to develop a philosophy of computer science like the philosophy of physics or the philosophy of mathematics. Due to the abstract nature of computer programs and the technological ambitions of computer science, many of the conceptual questions of the philosophy of computer science are also comparable to the philosophy of science, and the philosophy of technology.
An ontological argument is a philosophical argument, made from an ontological basis, that is advanced in support of the existence of God. Such arguments tend to refer to the state of being or existing. More specifically, ontological arguments are commonly conceived a priori in regard to the organization of the universe, whereby, if such organizational structure is true, God must exist.
Structuralism is a theory in the philosophy of mathematics that holds that mathematical theories describe structures of mathematical objects. Mathematical objects are exhaustively defined by their place in such structures. Consequently, structuralism maintains that mathematical objects do not possess any intrinsic properties but are defined by their external relations in a system. For instance, structuralism holds that the number 1 is exhaustively defined by being the successor of 0 in the structure of the theory of natural numbers. By generalization of this example, any natural number is defined by its respective place in this structure of the number line. Other examples of mathematical objects might include lines and planes in geometry, or elements and operations in abstract algebra.
The Degrees of Knowledge is a 1932 book by the French philosopher Jacques Maritain, in which the author adopts St. Thomas Aquinas’s view called critical realism and applies it to his own epistemological positions. According to critical realism, what we know is identical with what exists, and to know a thing is for its ‘essence’ to exist immaterially in the mind. In The Degrees of Knowledge, Maritain applies this view as he seeks to explain the nature of knowledge, not only in science and philosophy, but also in religious faith and mysticism. Maritain argues that there are different ‘kinds’ and ‘orders’ of knowledge and, within them, different ‘degrees’ determined by the nature of the thing to be known and the ‘degree of abstraction’ involved. The book is divided into two parts: Part one discusses the degrees of knowledge for science and philosophy – or ‘rational knowledge,’ and part two discusses the degrees of knowledge for religious faith and mysticism – or ‘super-rational knowledge.’
Abstract object theory (AOT) is a branch of metaphysics regarding abstract objects. Originally devised by metaphysician Edward Zalta in 1981, the theory was an expansion of mathematical Platonism.
Derk Pereboom is the Susan Linn Sage Professor in Philosophy and Ethics at Cornell University. He specializes in free will and moral responsibility, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, and in the work of Immanuel Kant.
Principal Editor: Edward N. Zalta, Senior Research Scholar, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University
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