Philosophy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for those interested in logical reasoning. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Can there be a clear answer to a specific philosophical question that most people who understand the question can agree on without diverging into many competing -isms or schools of thought? Maybe instead of looking for THE right answer one could look for very useful and relevant answers.

share|improve this question
Yes and No. Yes because people of the same "level" tend to converge to particular set of ideas. No because there are rarely two people of EXACT same level, so they will always have slight difference in perspective. But in principle its possible. – Asphir Dom Apr 16 '14 at 12:29
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Maybe instead of looking for THE right answer one could look for very useful and relevent answers.

This was the attitude adopted by the American pragmatists. John Dewey, in Experience and Nature, called this expectation of a singular answer to philosophical questions, and the subsequent search for a grand unifying theory of everything The Philosophical Fallacy.

If one embraces this as a genuine problem, it does not mean that one should reject all the different schools and their -isms. One can simply be a pluralist and say that each speaks to some truth, and perhaps each -ism can speak to some truths that other -isms might not be able to. Dewey speaks about Romanticism in this regard and says that it says (true) things that other philosophies cannot, even though it is otherwise quite objectionable (he is actually quite harsh about it).

So, looking for useful answers does not necessarily mean rejecting -isms, but regarding them as valuable but limited.

share|improve this answer
Beatiful source; thanks for this refernce. This is exactly the "attitude" I agree with. Philosophy supply us with insight, criticism, elucidations ... but (I think) no "ultimate" solutions to problems. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Apr 26 '14 at 15:45
John Dewey's ideas of pragmatism are sort of like Occam's razor. One could apply Occam's razor to MANY philosophical debates to 'reduce away' unnecessary arguments that don't focus on the major relevant issues being discussed.Also cut away irrational or biased points of view e.t.C. – 201044 Aug 16 '15 at 0:56
Yes, there is something razorish about it. The difference is this. Whilst Occam's razor suggests that we choose the simplest expanation ceteris paribus, Dewey's account emphasises incommensurability of philosophical perspectives, from which we may infer the unrealisability (in general) of the razors ceteris paribus clause. – Lucas Aug 16 '15 at 22:24

Can there be a clear answer to a specific philosophical question that most people who understand the question can agree on without diverging into many competing -isms or schools of thought?

Yes, it appears so, assuming that one specific philosophical question will suffice.

I very recently came across Chisholm's Paradox:

It is now virtually universally acknowledged that Chisholm was right: the sort of conditional deontic claim expressed in (3) can't be faithfully represented in SDL, nor more generally by a composite of some sort of unary deontic operator and a material conditional. This is one of the few areas where there is nearly universal agreement in deontic logic. [My bold.]

Of course, it then goes on:

Whether or not this is because some special primitive dyadic deontic conditional is operating or because it is just that some non-material conditional is essential to understanding important deontic reasoning is still a hotly contested open question.


share|improve this answer
Could Philosophy be considered the 'science' of endless debates. Maybe if someone ever resolves something in philosophy it is 'labelled' a paradox because no one is ever supposed to resolve anything. This is like the joke with two lawyers ; the younger one says 'I closed that big case we were working on'. The other Lawyer ,angry says 'You "stupido" we could have been working on that case for years and years!..' – user128932 Oct 6 '14 at 6:59
Wittgenstein said something like 'philosophy could be taught with a series of jokes. Maybe all books on philosophy should have cartoons and jokes. Many scenes in Monty Python had hilarious jokes about 'real' philosophy subjects ( although they were too anti-religious in my opinion). – 201044 Apr 27 '15 at 14:03
Is there a specific discipline of philosophy called 'practical' philosophy? Discussing and debating about philosophical ideas that can be used in an 'average' person's life? And not concerned about resolving very complicated matters of things like 'deontic' logic or if the word meaning has 'meaning'. Semantic and syntax headaches like these are only the attributes of expert philosophers which I don't think affect 'average' peoples lives or 'the price of bread'. – 201044 May 13 '15 at 3:59
Could Science exist without Philosophy? – 201044 May 26 '15 at 23:28
As user 128932 said , maybe philosophy is about perpetual debates and not resolving anything unless the debates can be reduced to practical ideas. There are no 'ANSWERS' in philosophy only answers from one person's or one group's point of view then it becomes a matter of opinions and which group's opinions hold sway.. – 201044 Aug 16 '15 at 1:02

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.