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Opposition to war, killing, and violence; support for peace {Lat. pax}. Pacifism may be defended deontologically as respect for the value of human life, on the consequentialist grounds that the consequences of violence are clearly harmful, or personally as a significant component of good character.

Recommended Reading: Robert L. Holmes, Nonviolence in Theory and Practice (Waveland, 2001); Lisa Sowle Cahill, Love Your Enemies: Discipleship, Pacifism, and Just War Theory (Fortress, 1997); and Catherine Clement, Gandhi: The Power of Pacifism, tr. by Ruth Sharman (Abrams, 1996).

Also see Stephen Palmquist, SEP, and EB.

Paine, Thomas (1737-1809)

American patriot whose Common Sense (1776) argued forcefully for the independence of American colonies. Paine's activism continued after the success of the American revolution; in The Rights of Man (1792) — a response to Burke — he presented his radical political and economic theories in support of the French Revolution as well, and in The Age of Reason (1794) and Essays on Religion (1797) he defended deism as an alternative to traditional religion.

Recommended Reading: The Thomas Paine Reader, ed. by Isaac Kramnick and Michael Foot (Penguin, 1987); Thomas Paine: Collected Writings, ed. by Eric Foner (Lib. of Am., 1995); Thomas Paine, Political Writings, ed. by Bruce Kuklick (Cambridge, 2000); Gregory Claeys, Thomas Paine: Social and Political Thought (Routledge, 1989); Jack Fruchtman, Thomas Paine: Apostle of Freedom (Four Walls, 1996); and Howard Fast, Citizen Tom Paine (Grove, 1983).

Also see IEP, EB, and ELC.

Paley, William (1743-1805)

English philosopher and theologian. Paley's Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy (1785) rejected the moral sense theory and defended a variety of utilitarianism, claiming that human conduct is properly founded upon respect for the divine will, as evidenced in the natural connection between virtue and happiness. A View of the Evidences of Christianity (1794) upholds the reasonability of belief in miracles in contrast with Hume's famous essay to the contrary. Paley's analogy between the operation of nature and the movements of a well-designed watch in Natural Theology: Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity (1802) is often regarded as a classic statement of the teleological argument for god's existence.

Recommended Reading: The Works of William Paley, ed. by Victor Nuovo (Thoemmes, 1998).

Also see IEP, and EB, ELC.


Belief that everything in the world has some mental aspect. This view attributes some degree of consciousness—however small—even to apparently inert bits of matter. Varieties of panpsychism have been defended by the Pythagoreans, Plotinus, Leibniz, Schopenhauer, and Whitehead.

Recommended Reading: Timothy Sprigge, The Vindication of Absolute Idealism (Edinburgh, 1984) and Ralph Abraham, Chaos, Gaia, Eros (Harper, 1994).

Also see SEP and EB.


Belief that god is present in all of nature, rather than transcending it. Spinoza's identification of god with nature ("Deus sive Natura") and Hegel's notion of the Absolute as World-Spirit are usually regarded as forms of pantheism.

Recommended Reading: Michael P. Levine, Pantheism: A Non-Theistic Concept of Deity (Routledge, 1994) and Paul Harrison, The Elements of Pantheism: Understanding the Divinity in Nature and the Universe (Thorsons, 1999).

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

Paracelsus (Phillippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim) (1493-1541)

Swiss chemist and physician. Rejecting the ancient reliance on concern for bodily "humours," Paracelsus transformed the practice of medicine by employing careful observation and experimentation. Although his chemical knowledge was rudimentary by modern standards, Paracelsus envisioned using pharmaceutical methods for treating disease and something like inoculation for preventing it.

Recommended Reading: Four Treatises of Theophrastus Von Hohenheim, called Paracelsus, tr. by C. Lilian Temkin, George Rosen, and Gregory Zilboorg (Johns Hopkins, 1996); Paracelsus, ed. by Jolande Jacobi and Norbert Guterman (Princeton, 1995); Manly P. Hall, Paracelsus, His Mystical and Medical Philosophy (Phil. Res. Soc., 1990); and Andrew Weeks and David Appelbaum, Paracelsus: Speculative Theory and the Crisis of the Early Reformation (SUNY, 1997).

Also see WSB, Rudolf Steiner, EB, and Austria-Forum.


An exemplary instance or model; hence, also, a set of background assumptions. Thus, a "paradigm case" argument shows that an adequate philosophical analysis must conform to the most ordinary applications of what it analyzes. According to Kuhn, procedural paradigms control our study of the natural world during periods between scientific revolutions.

Recommended Reading: John A. Passmore, Philosophical Reasoning (Basic, 1969); Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago, 1996); and Paul Hoyningen-Huene, Reconstructing Scientific Revolutions: Thomas S. Kuhn's Philosophy of Science, tr. by Alexander J. Levine (Chicago, 1993).


An absurd truth. Hence, the derivation of an unacceptable conclusion from apparently unquestionable premises by an apparently valid inference. Resolution of a paradox requires that we abandon at least one of the premises, refute the process of inference, or somehow learn to live with the unpalatable result. Zeno used paradoxes to demonstrate the impossibility of motion. Modern semantic paradoxes (such as the liar and the term "heterological") arise from difficulties inherent in self-reference.

Recommended Reading: Glenn W. Erickson and John A. Fossa, Dictionary of Paradox (U. Pr. of Am., 1998); John Woods, Paradox and Paraconsistency: Conflict Resolution in the Abstract Sciences (Cambridge, 2002); Nicholas Rescher, Paradoxes: Their Roots, Range, and Resolution (Open Court, 2001); and R. M. Sainsbury, Paradoxes (Cambridge, 1995).

Also see IEP on paradoxes and the Liar, Peter Suber, and SEP on paradoxes in contemporary logic, Russell's paradox Fitch's paradox, Simpson's Paradox, the sorites paradox, and the St. Petersburg paradox.

parallelism, psychophysical

Belief that even though the minds and bodies of human beings are distinct substances that can never interact with each other causally, it is nevertheless true that their development, features, and actions coordinate perfectly. Leibniz supposed that this happens as a result of a providentially pre-established harmony.

Recommended Reading: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics and the Monadology, tr. by George R. Montgomery (Prometheus, 1992); History of the Mind-Body Problem, ed. by Tim Crane and Sarah Patterson (Routledge, 2001); and Rocco J. Gennaro, Mind and Brain: A Dialogue on the Mind-Body Problem (Hackett, 1996).

Also see DPM.

Pareto, Vilfredo (1848-1923)

Italian economist who proposed a non-utilitarian method for assessing the distribution of goods in a society in New Theories of Economics (1897). A state of affairs is said to be "Pareto efficient" if and only if any change that would improve the situation for someone would at the same time make it worse for someone else. Pareto's elitist social policies may be found in Trattato di sociologia generale (Mind and Society) (1916).

Recommended Reading: Vilfredo Pareto, The Rise and Fall of Elites: An Application of Theoretical Sociology, tr. by Hans L. Zetterberg (Transaction, 1991); Vilfredo Pareto, ed. by John Cunningham Wood and Michael McLure (Routledge, 1999); Raymond Aron, Main Currents in Sociological Thought (Transaction, 1999); R. Cirillo, Economics of Vilfredo Pareto (Frank Cass, 1979); and Michael McLure, Pareto, Economics and Society: The Mechanical Analogy (Routledge, 2001).

Also see SEP and EB.

Parmenides (b. 510 BCE)

Presocratic philosopher whose work is best known to us in fragmentary reports from other philosophers. Parmenides used sophisticated logical language in the epic poem Περι Φυσις (On Nature) to argue that all of reality is a single, unchanging substance. Everything is what it is—complete and immobile—and can never become what it is not. Followers of Parmenides included Zeno of Elea and other Eleatics.

Recommended Reading: Parmenides of Elea: Fragments, ed. by David Gallop (Toronto, 1991); Patricia Curd, The Legacy of Parmenides (Princeton, 1997); Martin Heidegger, Parmenides, tr. by Andre Schuwer and Richard Rojcewicz (Indiana, 1998); and Karl Popper, World of Parmenides, ed. by Arne F. Petersen and Jorgen Mejer (Routledge, 2001).

Also see IEP, SEP, John Burnet, EB, ELC, and WSB.


Related though different use of an expression; see homonymous / synonymous / paronymous.

parsimony, law of

Belief that the simplest answer is most likely to be the correct one. As a methodological principle, this may be no more than an initial bias in favor of uncomplicated solutions. Its ontological form—that we ought never to multiply entities without necessity—is also known as Ockham's razor."

Recommended Reading: Sharon M. Kaye and Robert M. Martin, On Ockham (Wadsworth, 2000); The Cambridge Companion to Ockham, ed. by Paul Vincent Spade (Cambridge, 1999); and Elliott Sober, Reconstructing the Past: Parsimony, Evolution, and Inference (Bradford, 1991).

Also see EB.

particular proposition

A statement whose propositional quantity is determined by the assertion that at least one member of one class of things is either included or excluded as a member of some other class.

Examples: "Some cows are Jerseys." and "Some school holidays are not postal holidays." are both particular.


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Last modified 30 December 2011.
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