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moderation {Gk. σωφρσυνη [sophrosúnê]}

Self-control. According to Plato, a person who has the virtue of moderation subordinates the desire for pleasure to the dictates of reason. For Aristotle, all virtues are to be understood as the mean between vicious extremes.

Recommended Reading: James S. Hans, The Golden Mean (SUNY, 1994); Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics, tr. by W. D. Ross, J. L. Ackrill, and J. O. Urmson (Oxford, 1998); Sarah Broadie, Ethics With Aristotle (Oxford, 1995); and Charles Hartshorne, Wisdom As Moderation: A Philosophy of the Middle Way (SUNY, 1987).

Also see IEP and Damian G. Konkoly.

Modus Ponens (M.P.)

A rule of inference of the form:

	p ⊃ q



Example: "If Tuesday is the 14th, then Friday must be the 17th. Tuesday is the 14th. Therefore, Friday is the 17th."

A simple truth-table shows the validity of this pattern of reasoning.

Also see Mustafa M. Dagli.

Modus Tollens (M.T.)

A rule of inference of the form:

	p ⊃ q

	~ q

	~ p

Example: "If it had rained this morning, then the grass would still be wet. But the grass is not wet. Therefore, it did not rain this morning."

A simple truth-table shows that any argument of this form must be valid.


A complete individual substance in the philosophies of Conway and Leibniz, who supposed that each contains all of its properties—past, present, and future.

Recommended Reading: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Philosophical Texts, ed. by Richard Francks and R. S. Woolhouse (Oxford, 1998); Anthony Savile, Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Leibniz and the Monadology (Routledge, 2000); Bertrand Russell, A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz (Routledge, 1993); and Donald Rutherford, Leibniz and the Rational Order of Nature (Cambridge, 1997).

Also see EB and CE.


Belief that only things of a single kind exist. In its most extreme form, monism may lead to Spinoza's conviction that only a single being is real or the idealist's supposition that everything is comprised by the Absolute. Contemporary philosophers more commonly suppose that many distinct things exist, each of them exhibiting both mental and physical properties.

Recommended Reading: Errol E. Harris, Spinoza's Philosophy: An Outline (Humanity, 1992); German Idealist Philosophy, ed. by Rudiger Bubner (Penguin, 1997); and Mafizuddin Ahmed, Bertrand Russell's Neutral Monism.

Also see SEP, IEP, EB, DPM,and ISM.

Montaigne, Michel Eyquem de (1533-1592)

French humanist whose motto was "Que sais-je?" ["What do I know?"]. Montaigne's Essais (Essays) (1580, 1588) drew attention to the vain pretensions of human rationality and thereby revived modern interest in classical skepticism, against which Descartes tried to argue.

Recommended Reading: Hugo Friedrich, Montaigne, tr. by Dawn Eng (California, 1991); Craig B. Brush, From the Perspective of the Self: Montaigne's Self-Portrait (Fordham, 1994); Montaigne's Message and Method, ed. by Dikka Berven (Garland, 1995); and Marcel Tetel, Montaigne (Twayne, 1990).

Also see Bill Uzgalis, SEP, EB, and ELC.

Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Bréde (1689-1755)

French political philosopher who significantly influenced the founders of the American republic. In the multi-volume L'esprit des lois (On the Spirit of the Laws) (1748), Montesquieu considered the fundamental principles of government, emphasizing respect for individual liberty and (extrapolating from a suggestion of Locke) urging a sharp separation of executive, legislative, and judicial powers.

Recommended Reading: Montesquieu's Science of Politics, ed. by Michael A. Mosher, David W. Carrithers, and Paul A. Rahe (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001); Thomas L. Pangle, Montesquieu's Philosophy of Liberalism: A Commentary on the Spirit of the Laws (Chicago, 1989); and Peter V. Conroy, Montesquieu Revisited (Twayne, 1992).

Also see SEP, EB, CE, and ELC.

mood and figure

A unique description of the logical form of a categorical syllogism. The mood lists the forms of its three categorical propositions (in standard form order), while the figure indicates the position of its middle term.

Moore, G. E. (1873-1958)

English philosopher who developed the practice of philosophical analysis as a method for preserving the dictates of common sense against the absurd claims of professional philosophers.

For a discussion of his life and works, see Moore.

moral / non-moral

Distinction between types of value, judgments, or propositions. Although a precise line is difficult to draw, there seems to be a genuine difference between universalizable moral concerns that impinge upon other people and merely personal matters of taste. For example:

"Murder is wrong." is a moral assertion, but

"This coffee is good." is a non-moral assertion.

Recommended Reading: R. M. Hare, The Language of Morals (Clarendon, 1991); Paul Bloomfield, Moral Reality (Oxford, 2001); Fact and Value: Essays on Ethics and Metaphysics for Judith Jarvis Thomson, ed. by Alex Byrne, Robert Stalnaker, and Ralph Wedgwood (MIT, 2001); and Gilbert Harman, Explaining Value: And Other Essays in Moral Philosophy (Clarendon, 2000).

Also see SEP and J.K. Swindler.

moral argument

An attempt to prove the existence of god by appeal to presence of moral value in the universe. The fourth of Aquinas's five ways concludes that god must exist as the most perfect cause of all lesser goods. Kant argued that postulation of god's existence is a necessary condition for our capacity to apply the moral law.

Recommended Reading: Thomas St. Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles: God, tr. by Anton C. Pegis (Notre Dame, 1997); Immanuel Kant, The One Possible Basis for a Demonstration of the Existence of God, tr. by Gordon Treash (Nebraska, 1994); Joseph Owens, St. Thomas Aquinas on the Existence of God (SUNY, 1980); and Gordon E. Michalson, Kant and the Problem of God (Blackwell, 1999).

Also see Stephen Palmquist and Antoinette M. Stafford.

moral sense

A putatively innate human faculty for distinguishing right from wrong. In the moral intuitionism of Shaftesbury and Hutcheson, the moral sense motivates proper conduct by enabling us to perceive the distinctive pleasure of moral rectitude.

Recommended Reading: Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Prometheus, 2000); Francis Hutcheson, Philosophical Writings, ed. by R.S. Downie (Everyman, 1994); and James Q. Wilson, The Moral Sense (Simon & Schuster, 1997).

More, Henry (1614-1687)

English theologian and philosopher; author of The Immortality of the Soul (1659) and Divine Dialogues (1668). A leading member of the Cambridge Platonists, More claimed to demonstrate the existence of god, the immortality of the human soul, and the compatibility of faith and reason.

Recommended Reading: A. Rupert Hall, Henry More: Magic, Religion and Experiment (Blackwell, 1984); Henry More: Tercentenary Studies, ed. by Sarah Hutton (Kluwer, 1990); and A. Rupert Hall, Henry More and the Scientific Revolution (Cambridge, 1996).

Also see ELC and EB.

More, Thomas (1478-1535)

English humanist and politician. An advocate of classical learning, More imagined in Utopia (1516) an egalitarian Christian hedonistic society based on the philosophy of Epicurus.

Recommended Reading: John Guy, Thomas More (Edward Arnold, 2000); Richard Marius, Thomas More: A Biography (Harvard, 1999); Peter Ackroyd, The Life of Thomas More (Anchor, 1999); Louis L. Martz, Thomas More: The Search for the Inner Man (Yale, 1992); and Gerald B. Wegemer, Thomas More on Statesmanship (Catholic U. of Am., 1998).

Also see SEP, Anniina Jokinen, EB, ELC, and Rob Hubbard.

μορφη [morphê]

Greek word for the shape or figure of a thing. Hence, for Aristotle, the fundamental cause which, in conjunction with ‘υλη [hylê], constitutes a natural object as a hylomorphic composite.

Also see PP.

μυθος [mythos]

Greek term for a speech, tale, or story, as opposed to a rational explanation. See λογος / μυθος [logos/mythos]. Although Plato typically derided myth as inferior to analysis, Philo Judaeus incorporated it as allegorical interpretation in order to synthesize theology and philosophy.

Recommended Reading: F. E. Peters, Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon (NYU, 1967).

Also see and PP.


Belief in direct apprehension of divine or eternal reality by means of spiritual contemplation distinct from more ordinary avenues of human knowledge.

Recommended Reading: Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: The Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness (Oneworld, 1999); William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (MacMillan, 1997); Mysticism: A Study and an Anthology, ed. by Frank C. Happold (Viking, 1991); and Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (Schocken, 1995).

Also see SEP, ISM, EB, Rudolf Steiner, CE, and Austria-Forum.


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Last modified 29 December 2011.
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