Many people believe that philosophy makes no progress. Members of the general public often find it amazing that philosophers exist in universities at all, at least in research positions. Academics who are not philosophers often think of philosophy either as a scholarly or interpretative enterprise, or else as a sort of pre-scientific speculation. And - amazingly - many well-known philosophers argue that there is little genuine progress in philosophy.
Daniel Stoljar argues that this is all a big mistake. When you think through exactly what philosophical problems are, and what it takes to solve them, the pattern of success and failure in philosophy is similar to that in other fields. In philosophy, as elsewhere, there is a series of overlapping topics that determine what the subject is about. In philosophy, as elsewhere, different people in different historical epochs and different cultures ask different big questions about these
topics. And in philosophy, as elsewhere, big questions asked in the past have often been solved: Stoljar provides examples.
Philosophical Progress presents a strikingly optimistic picture of philosophy - not a radical optimism that says that there is some key that unlocks all philosophical problems, and not the kind of pessimism that dominates both professional and non-professional thinking about philosophy, but a reasonable optimism that views philosophy as akin to other fields.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of pages: 208
Weight: 382 g
Dimensions: 223 x 148 x 18 mm
The book is a model of clarity. I would enthusiastically recommend it not only to self-sceptical philosophers and arrogant scientists, but also to students-as an example of philosophical writing, as well as for its arguments. And it is extremely thorough, addressing a range of objections to its arguments as well as general considerations that might seem to tell against the existence of progress. I still feel occasional doubt about philosophical progress, but Stoljar
has convincingly rebutted every reason for such doubt of which I know. * Derek Ball, Australasian Journal of Philosophy *