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date: 07 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Philosophy has a wealth of heuristics—philosophical heuristics—although they have not been well documented or studied. Sometimes they draw attention to a problem with a philosophical position—for example, it involves a problematic definite description, or it has to make a choice that seems arbitrary. Sometimes they provide solutions to a problem—for example, there are many techniques for handling arbitrariness. Sometimes they suggest ways of replacing hard problems with easier ones, with strategies for approaching the latter—for example, replacing intensional notions with extensional surrogates, and then perhaps diagramming the latter. Sometimes they appeal to fertile modes of thinking more generally—for example, continuity reasoning. Philosophers have been becoming increasingly self-conscious of their methodology, yet I believe that the study of such heuristics has been surprisingly neglected. This chapter highlights the importance of philosophical heuristics to philosophical methodology. It considers especially a cluster involving the notion of resemblance.

Keywords: philosophical heuristics, philosophical methodology, resemblance, definite descriptions, indeterminacy, arbitrariness, continuity, diagrams

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