Confusion in the Bishop’s Church

Philosophia 51 (4):1993-2003 (2023)
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Kearns (2021) reconstructs Berkeley’s (1713) Master Argument as a formally valid argument against the Materialist Thesis, with the key premise the Distinct Conceivability Thesis, namely the thesis that truths about sensible objects having or lacking thinkable qualities are (distinctly) conceivable and as its conclusion that all sensible objects are conceived. It will be shown that Distinct Conceivability Thesis entails the Reduction Thesis, which states that de dicto propositional (ordinary or distinct) conceivability reduces to de re propositional (ordinary or distinct) conceivability. While Kearns (2021) set out to avoid the confusion of a de re claim with a de dicto claim, which Prior (1955) accused Berkeley of, Kearns can be accused of making a similar conceptual confusion.

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Jan Heylen
KU Leuven


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