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David Roden

Goodman and the World Behind the Schemes


The philosopher Nelson Goodman makes two controversial philosophical claims. Firstly, Pluriworldism: There is not one true world but many worlds, each answering to different and often conflicting ‘world versions’ (e.g., Newton’s vs Aristotle’s Physics, Phenomenalism (or sense-data theory) vs Realism about middle sized objects of sensory experience, Cezanne vs the World of 19th Century Academic Painting.) Different world versions are true of different worlds, but there is no one shared world according to Pluriworldism. Secondly, Worldmaking: the claim that these worlds are constituted, in some way, by our world-making practices.
In this talk, I have two goals. Firstly, to set out both the Pluriworldism and the Worldmaking thesis clearly and systematically. Second to consider whether either is supportable by examining a range of objections leveled against Goodman by authors ranging from Donald Davison to Tim Button. Does the very idea of worldmaking presuppose a world-behind-the-scenes that belongs to no world? Does the production of worlds (world making) presuppose a kind of identity or repetition that is non-world dependent in a way that violates pluriworldism, as I have argued. Can we make sense of comparisons or translations between worlds and world versions without a single common world as a background condition? Is pluriworldism vulnerable to anti-correlationist arguments in the work of speculative realists like Ray Brassier or Quentin Meillassoux?
I hope this critical engagement will increase our understanding of Goodman’s epistemology and aesthetics.

David Roden's published work has addressed the relationship between deconstruction and analytic philosophy, philosophical naturalism, the metaphysics of sound and posthumanism. He contributed the essay "The Disconnection Thesis" to the Springer Frontiers volume The Singularity Hypothesis: A Scientific and Philosophical Assessment. His book Posthuman Life: Philosophy at the Edge of the Human (Routledge 2014) considers the metaphysical, epistemological and ethical implications of the existence of posthumans: powerful nonhuman agents produced by human-instigated technological processes. Other representative publications include: “Radical Quotation and Real Repetition” in Ratio: An International Journal of Analytic Philosophy (2004); "Nature's Dark Domain: an argument for a naturalized phenomenology" in the Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, Phenomenology and Naturalism (2013); “Sonic Arts and the Nature of Sonic Events”, Review of Philosophy and Psychology (2010).

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