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Frontiers of Philosophy in China

ISSN 1673-3436 (Print)
ISSN 1673-355X (Online)
CN 11-5743/B
Postal Subscription Code 80-983


, Volume 11 Issue 1

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Orginal Article
Does Wittgenstein Actually Undermine the Foundation of Artificial Intelligence?
XU Yingjin
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (1): 3-20.
Abstract   PDF (300KB)

Wittgenstein is widely viewed as a potential critic of a key philosophical assumption of the Strong Artificial Intelligence (AI) thesis, namely, that it is in principle possible to build a programmed machine which can achieve real intelligence. Stuart Shanker has provided the most systematic reconstruction of the Wittgensteinian argument against AI, building on Wittgenstein’s own statements, the “rule-following” feature of language-games, and the putative alliance between AI and psychologism. This article will attempt to refute this reconstruction and its constituent arguments, thereby paving the way for a new and amicable rather than agonistic conception of the Wittgensteinian position on AI.

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Empirical Propositions and the Change of Language- Games
LI Guo
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (1): 21-34.
Abstract   PDF (269KB)

People unavoidably provide reasons for their words and deeds when reasoning in a language-game. Wittgenstein thinks that when people in different language-games argue with one other, they insist on adopting a doubtful attitude toward the reasons provided by the other side. His use of the term “language-game” here is a metaphor, and implies that people in different cultures can scarcely reason with one another. Indeed, according to Wittgenstein’s consideration of concepts of logic in On Certainty, language-games are incompatible with one another because their internal logic and reasons are different from each other. However, in his discussion of empirical propositions Wittgenstein has also shown us the possibility that the internal reasons of one language-game can transmit beyond its own borders and be valid in another language-game.

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Was Wittgenstein an Analytic Philosopher? Wittgenstein vs Russell
Stewart Candlish
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (1): 35-53.
Abstract   PDF (297KB)

This article is in six main sections. In the first three sections, some indication of how and why philosophers have differed in their response to the title question is given by describing Wittgenstein’s encounters with Carnap, and by examining Wittgenstein’s commitment to clarity and argument in philosophy, illustrating this commitment by reference to his Philosophical Investigations discussion of the will. In the remaining three sections, Russell is taken as a paradigm example of a central kind of analytic philosopher. The answer to the title question is unfolded by sketching Wittgenstein’s and Russell’s treatments of a few philosophical topics and problems, focusing on theories and questions surrounding propositions, judgments, and their constituents, in particular Russell’s multiple relation theory of judgment and the question of the unity of the proposition. This approach displays, and does not merely assert, Russell’s deployment of (sometimes repeated variants of) technical solutions to philosophical problems and how that deployment contrasts with Wittgenstein’s attempts to make such problems disappear.

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Quine on Quantification and Existence
Tom Stoneham
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (1): 54-72.
Abstract   PDF (250KB)

Quine’s justly famous paper “On What There Is” introduced a criterion of ontological commitment which has been almost universally accepted by analytic philosophers ever since. In this paper I try to unpack some of the substantive and controversial philosophical commitments that are presupposed by this criterion. The aim is not to show that the criterion is incorrect, but merely that it is not as obvious as it is taken to be by many, and that we might have reasons to explore alternative ways of thinking about ontological commitments.

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Yin and Yang , and the Hot and the Cold
NIE Minli
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (1): 73-87.
Abstract   PDF (271KB)

Yin and Yang are important concepts in ancient Chinese philosophy. Western scholars have become more familiar with these two concepts recently, but for a long time almost no one considered comparing them with their own tradition such as the ancient Greek philosophy, and especially with the ideas of the Hot and the Cold in Presocratic philosophy. In this paper, I make an attempt to do exactly that, and especially make a detailed comparison between the thoughts of two ancient thinkers: Laozi and Anaximander. I discuss the thought of Yin and Yang in Laozi—who was the earliest philosopher making use of the concepts Yin and Yang—to express his cosmological thought in ancient Chinese philosophy. Comparatively, I discuss the ideas of the Hot and the Cold in Anaximander, the earlier among Presocratic philosophers referring to the Hot and the Cold as fundamental concepts used to establish his cosmological system. Through this comparison, I indicate that the similarity between ancient Chinese and Western traditions is far more significant than what people are used to imagining.

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The Problem of Confucian Moral Cultivation and Its Solution: Using Ritual Propriety to Support Rule by Law
TAN Mingran
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (1): 88-103.
Abstract   PDF (305KB)

Thinking about the decline of morality in post-reform China, the author analyzes the development of virtuous governance based on moral education, and concludes that the reason why ancient rulers were so infatuated with it was the inhibitive function of public evaluation on moral transgressions in familiar neighborhoods. However, as China transforms into a dynamic and commercial society, and its people move from familiar neighborhoods to alienated communities in the cities, public evaluation is losing its power over moral transgressors. To prevent the collapse of the moral system, it is necessary to use rule by law to foster people’s sense of justice and rule-consciousness—not to simply hope for the appearance of more altruists. This is possible because law is the embodiment of moral principle, and because legal restraints and penalties can be internalized as habits. After a sense of justice and rule-consciousness has been established in people, we can again take up Confucian virtue education to nurture people’s sense of shame and dignity, and their humane and righteous mind. However, to stop the current chaos and corruption, it is urgent that we adopt rule by law and supplement it with moral education.

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The Early Stoics and Aristotelian Ethics
Teun Tieleman
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (1): 104-121.
Abstract   PDF (254KB)

Aristotle’s philosophical legacy should be accepted as one of the historical influences that shaped Stoic moral and psychological thought, even if this influence needs to be demonstrated in each individual case rather than be taken for granted in general. Having discussed the methodological issues raised by the state of our documented evidence, I focus upon the particular philosophical agenda bequeathed by Aristotle, the issue of the structure of the human soul, and the theory of character and emotion. I argue that Aristotle’s influence upon the Stoics is not only a matter of their adoption of Aristotelian themes or concepts but that, given the aporetic quality of much of Aristotle’s writing, they accepted options as discussed, and actually rejected, by Aristotle. In particular, the Stoics have been influenced by deliberations in which Aristotle discusses, adapts or rejects positions associated with the philosophical hero of the Stoics, Socrates (in particular in De an. II, 9–10 and EN VII, 1–11). Seen in this light, the Aristotelian legacy appears to be even more relevant to explaining distinctive and in particular Socratic features of Stoic moral psychology than has been previously assumed.

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On Measuring the Moral Value of Action
Jeevan F. D’Souza,C. Kelly Adams
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (1): 122-136.
Abstract   PDF (238KB)

Deontology and consequentialism are two prominent, disparate tenets of normative ethics concerned with prescribing norms for ethical action in order to advance human flourishing. While consequentialism in its purest form is practical and realistic, its precepts do not intrinsically consider justice and human rights, which are salient canons of deontology. Contrariwise, though plenary deontology categorically focuses on duty or rule-based ethics, its prescripts overlook the consequences of moral action, which results in indeterminate and conceivably dramatic implications for societal eudemonia and human flourishing. Traditionally, consequentialists have sought to quantify the moral value of action by formulating creative expressions. Attempts have also been made to combine ideologies in order to resolve moral conflicts that arise in both normative ethical positions. This article fuses these approaches, creating a single formulation to measure the moral value of action. Used as a guideline in the moral decision-making process, this formulation enjoins individuals to consider the consequences of action beyond the self, to ruminate beyond the immediacy of an act under consideration, and to regard unqualified societal and global norms for justice and human rights as a baseline for all moral action.

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A Naturalistic Look into Maddy’s Naturalistic Philosophy of Mathematics
Front. Philos. China. 2016, 11 (1): 137-151.
Abstract   PDF (279KB)

This paper discusses Penelope Maddy’s (b. 1950) naturalistic philosophy of mathematics, which is one of the most influential forms of post-Quinean naturalism in the philosophy of mathematics. Two defining features of Maddy’s theory, namely the methodological autonomy of mathematics and the equivalence of Thin Realism and Arealism, are analyzed, and some criticisms of them are posed from within the naturalistic line of thought itself. In the course of this analysis and criticism, the paper will also consider Maddy’s objections to the Quinean Indispensability Argument, which are the starting point of her own version of naturalism.

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12 articles