Yesterday I was reading this review of Crawford Elder’s Familiar Objects and Their Shadows, which begins with the line: ‘Revisionary views about objects are all the rage’. That’s good to know. The review goes on to use a term that I have never seen applied to philosophical debate, or if I had it didn’t strike me then–‘stalemate’. It occurred to me that I already recognize the phenomenon referred to, but it raised a few questions for me. Such as:
1. What are the criteria for a philosophical stalemate?
2. If I can push a philosophical debate to a stalemate, is that kind of like winning?
3. Will all philosophical problems, in principle, end in stalemate; if so, do some take longer because the philosophy is amiss or the problem is more difficult?
4. Would someone like to chart for me the stages of a philosophical debate that ended in a stalemate, perhaps the one referenced in the review?
It’s curious to think that a philosophical debate could land in stalemate because that seems to entail that the debate was making progress, but progressing down the wrong path. Those involved will now have to return to the point or origin or figure out where they made their wrong turn. Because a stalemate does not entail that there never was any problem at all, right? If the analogy holds, that would be like saying to two players who’ve just reached stalemate on their chessboard that there never was a chess match.
In any case, someone should write a book about stalemates in philosophy. And I should get to know more about this metaphysical debate. I’m going to search Google now and most likely find that book I just asked someone to write.