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Is there any philosophical concept or insight all philosophers agree about ?

closed as primarily opinion-based by iphigenie, Hunan Rostomyan, virmaior, Keelan, Joseph Weissman Apr 29 '14 at 22:18

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    This question lacks certain information that is essential. Please check out how to ask a good question. – iphigenie Dec 28 '13 at 13:00
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    My intuition says no. The fact that there are different tendencies in every part of philosophy seems to be proof enough. If metaphysics talks about the status of being, and there are different opinions on that, how can everybody agree on something that is less fundamental than that? – iphigenie Dec 28 '13 at 13:04
  • There are a few examples. Some basic rules of inference have not been seriously called into question. For example, I don't know of any philosopher who has written an argument concluding that modus ponens is a bad rule of inference. No academic philosopher alive today agrees with Descartes about the role of the pineal gland as the "seat of the soul" and origin of all thoughts -- there's a solid consensus that he was wrong. There is agreement about other similar negative results -- especially agreement over arguments that don't work. – JesseG Nov 13 '15 at 6:27
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I don't think there is any philosophical claim that all philosophers agree about.

This might look initially like a bad thing, or a sign that philosophy is doomed to irrelevance because nobody can ever agree about anything and nothing gets established.

However, I think this reflects a strength of Philosophy. Philosophers frequently work to offer the best defenses they can think of of interesting claims they identify as not having been defended, or as having not been as well defended as they could be. For instance, if I were to think of a claim about what "truth" means that no philosopher had yet argued for, and some slightly good argument for it, I would probably write a defense of that claim. I am not sure it follows that I believe that claim, but I think it does follow that I don't think the good arguments all go the other way, either.

Then, it follows that if philosophers often do that, as a function of its structure Philosophy avoids agreement. Is that bad? It is not bad if we understand Philosophy not as converging on single correct answers but as mapping out the possible positions one could take, and identifying their strengths and weaknesses. In this way, Philosophy is healthy when philosophers disagree about some claims, and come to agreement about other claims, but even on those topics someone is still trying to think of better reasons to dissent.

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I would say yes, that there are positive moral things and that there are negative moral things. However, the problem is the disagreement of what is considered positive or negative in various cultures and ideologies.

  • What about moral relativism or nihilism? – iphigenie Dec 29 '13 at 16:49
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    I'm not sure exactly what a "positive moral thing" is, but no, a lot of philosophers are antirealist about moral facts, meaning that they don't believe that there are facts about what's good. – ChristopherE Dec 29 '13 at 18:04
  • @ChristopherE: no facts about what is good? Breathing, for example? "And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good -- Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?" – user16869 Dec 17 '15 at 2:52
  • @nocomprende Correct: they believe that there are no facts about what is good. See plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-anti-realism for examples, arguments, and explanations. – ChristopherE Dec 18 '15 at 3:38
  • @ChristopherE: I think this is why I stopped studying Phil in college, even after being told that I had a great aptitude for it. I said that it is no better at preventing error than an autopsy is at preventing death. Pointless while one is alive, of no concern after. – user16869 Dec 21 '15 at 15:40

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