SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Plato and Vagueness: why there cannot be the form of mud
(History of Philosophy, English)

Many aspects of Plato's metaphysics are still highly discussed. However, there is a problem that is not much discussed and to which no satisfactory answer has been given. Plato in the Parmenides tackles the issue of the extent of the forms. At the beginning of the discussion, pressed by Parmenides, Socrates claims that there are no forms of mud, filth and hair. From this claim, Parmenides rises a major objection to the Platonic theory of forms. Moreover, it is in strong contradiction with what Plato has said in the Republic, where it is asserted that everything, which has a name has also a corresponding form. Thus, it is crucial in order to better understand Plato's philosophy to find out why this claim has been made. The problem is very little discussed in the literature. Moreover, the various attempts of addressing the issue turned out to be quite disappointing. On one hand, many scholars have thought that this passage should not be taken seriously. On the other hand, those who have taken Plato's words seriously, do not seem to have found answers convincing enough to consider the problem solved. Given this, my paper has two main goals. Firstly, I will argue for a new answer to this question. Secondly, I will look in the contemporary debate for a solution to this issue. Now, it will be a good idea to give a brief sketch of the suggestion and of the solutions that I am going to propose. What I take to be the reason for this rejection is the metaphysical vagueness that these forms would have implied. In other words, allowing these entities in the Platonic heaven would have also allowed for there to be fuzziness, but Plato did not have the theoretical tools needed to deal with it. Therefore, they must be banned. In fact, when he wrote the Parmenides, the paradox of the bald was already well known, thus the indeterminacy of the form of hair was quite straightforward. Likewise, similar criticisms affect the forms of mud and filth. Thus, we shall look in the contemporary debate for them and, hence, for a solution to the puzzle. There seem to be two possible ways. One is to build a system that allows metaphysical vagueness, and so that is able to deal with it. The other is to put vagueness in the realm of language, and so to consider vagueness as semantic indecision. I will explore these two possibilities, in order to discover which fits better our purposes.

Chair: Gregor Greslehner
Time: 10:40-11:10, 20 September 2019 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.005

Alessandro Cecconi 
(University of Lugano , Switzerland)

I started being interested in philosophy in high school, therefore, I decided to study philosophy at university. At the bachelor level, I have studied in Milan at Universitá degli Studi and, then, I moved to Venice at Ca' Foscari University where I got my bachelor degree with a thesis named "The meaning of playing: fiction and comprehension". As the title of my bachelor thesis may suggest, in my former studies I have been very much interested in aesthetics and in hermeneutics. Also, practical philosophy has been very much of interest for me. However, while I was finishing my bachelor degree, I discovered analytic philosophy and in particular analytic metaphysics, which became my strong philosophical interest, almost the only one. For this reason, I decided to make of analytic metaphysics my main area of research, thus, I went to Lugano at USI, to attend the master program in philosophy. Here, I had the chance to meet and to work with some great philosopher as Kevin Mulligan, Kit Fine, Thomas Sattig, Christian Wüthrich and Anna Marmodoro. I look forward to finishing my program here at USI within next year. My main goal after I will have got my master degree is to be accepted into a PhD program and to pursue an academic career.

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