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Title:Berkeley's Master Argument: Its Form and Implications
Author(s):Williams, Reginald
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McKim, Robert
Department / Program:Philosophy
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:This study presents a new interpretation of Berkeley's 'master argument', which challenges the materialist to 'conceive it possible' that even one perceptible object (e.g., a tree or an idea) exists 'independently' of all minds. Specifically, after surveying the literature on Berkeley's master argument in Chapter I of this study, Chapter II interprets the master argument as an argument from meaning which purports to prove meaningless the materialist's claim that even one perceptible object exists 'independently' of all minds. And in the course of developing this interpretation, Chapter II of this study analyzes the treatment of meaning which appears in the master argument's context in Berkeley's Principles of Human Knowledge. Chapter III of this study, in turn, argues that, when interpreted as an argument from meaning, Berkeley's master argument avoids a common objection to it in the literature---i.e., that if it impugns the materialist's claim that even one perceptible object exists 'independently' of all minds, it also rules out Berkeley's claiming that even one perceptible object exists 'independently' of his mind. The fourth chapter of this study argues that unbeknownst to commentators, at least part of Berkeley's well-known critique of abstract ideas represents an argument from meaning. Finally, this study's appendix argues that the first two of Berkeley's Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous represent an argument from meaning as well.
Issue Date:2005
Description:167 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2005.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3199175
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2005

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