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Being, Freedom, and MethodThemes from the Philosophy of Peter van Inwagen$
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John A. Keller

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198715702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198715702.001.0001

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Philosophical Individualism

Philosophical Individualism

Chapter:
(p.299) 15 Philosophical Individualism
Source:
Being, Freedom, and Method
Author(s):

John A. Keller

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198715702.003.0017

What does it take for an argument to be a success? Peter van Inwagen argues that an argument for conclusion c is one that, when ideally presented in the company of an ideal opponent, would be convincing to an audience of ideal neutral agnostics about c. He goes on to argue that, by this criterion, there are (almost certainly) no successful arguments for substantive philosophical conclusions. This paper outlines several problems with both van Inwagen’s account of success and the others in the literature, and argues for an alternative conception—one that allows for the existence of successful arguments for substantive philosophical conclusions. This alternative conception of success is individualistic, in that it relativizes success to the individual evaluating it. The paper argues that this form of relativism is not as bad as it seems.

Keywords:   metaphilosophy, success, failure, relativism, van Inwagen, arguments

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