Glossary of Terms ‘D’

Written By Thomas Perez. December 14th, 2010 at 5:15PM. Copyright 2010.

Darwinism
A pejorative term for the scientific theory of evolution used mostly by its opponents. This theory was first presented by Charles Darwin in his 1859 book The Origin of Species. It stated that the variety of life found on Earth is due to the process of evolution driven by the mechanism of natural selection. It is to be contrasted with Creationism and Intelligent Design. There is a lively debate as to whether or not the theory of evolution is compatible with any, all or some religions.

Deconstructionism
School and a set of methods of textual criticism which aim at understanding the assumptions and ideas that form the basis for thought and belief. Also called “deconstruction”, its central concern is a radical critique of the metaphysics of the Western philosophical tradition, in which it identifies a log-centrism or “metaphysics of presence” which holds that speech-thought (the logos) is a privileged, ideal, and self-present entity, through which all discourse and meaning are derived. This logocentrism is the primary target of deconstruction.

Deductivism
A philosophy that holds that scientific inquiry proceeds by formulating a hypothesis in a form that could conceivably be falsified by a test on observable data.

Defeatism
Defeatism is acceptance and content with defeat without struggle. In everyday use, defeatism has negative connotation, and is often linked to treason and pessimism. The term is commonly used in the context of war: a soldier can be a defeatist if he or she refuses to fight because he or she thinks that the fight will be lost for sure or that it is not worth fighting for some other reason. The term can also be used in other fields, like politics, sports, psychology and philosophy.

Deism
The view that reason, rather than revelation or tradition, should be the basis of belief in God. Deists reject both organized and revealed religion and maintain that reason is the essential element in all knowledge. For a “rational basis for religion” they refer to the cosmological argument (first cause argument), the teleological argument(argument from design), and other aspects of what was called natural religion. Deism has become identified with the classical belief that God created but does not intervene in the world, though this is not a necessary component of deism.

Pandeism
A type of deism that combines the deistic belief in a rationally determined, non-intervening God with the idea of pantheism (under theism, below) of God being identical to the Universe.

Deontologism
Ethical theory considered solely on duty and rights, where one has an unchanging moral obligation to abide by a set of defined principles. Thus, the ends of any action never justify the means in this ethical system. If someone were to do their moral duty, then it would not matter if it had negative consequences. Therefore, consequentialism is the philosophical antithesis of this theory.

Descriptivism
Also called the Descriptivist theory of names, is a view of the nature of the meaning and reference of proper names generally attributed to Gottlob Fregeand Bertrand Russell. The theory consists essentially in the idea that the meanings of names are identical to the descriptions associated with them by speakers, while their referents are determined to be the objects that satisfy these descriptions.

Determinism
The philosophical proposition that every event, including human cognition, decision and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences.
Historical determinism– the philosophical proposition that events in history were determined by a series of occurrences previous to the event.

Dialetheism
A metaphysical doctrine according to which there are true contradictions.

Disjunctivism
A direct realist view that rejects the existence of some sense data.

Distributism
A co-operative economic theory in which productive property is distributed among all individuals, rather than being held by the state or in common as in socialism or under the control of the few in capitalism.

Dogmatism
Inflexible adherence to rigid belief or doctrine established by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization, held to be authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from. A dogmatic position is not open to rational argument, and is “established” only according to a particular point of view, and therefore of doubtful foundation.

Dualism
A set of beliefs which begins with the claim that the mental and the physical have a fundamentally different nature. It is contrasted with varying kinds of monism, including materialism and phenomenalism. Dualism is one answer to the mind-body problem. Pluralism holds that there are even more kinds of events or things in the world.

Substance Dualism
Is a type of ontological dualism defended by Descartes in which it is claimed that there are two fundamental kinds of substance: mental and material. The mental does not extend in space, and material cannot think. It holds that immortal souls occupy an independent realm of existence, while apparently bodies die. This view contradicts physicalism.

Dynamism
Term coined by Gottfried Leibniz(1646–1716) and developed into a full system of cosmology. The Dynamism idea in metaphysical cosmology explains the material world in terms of active, point-like forces, with no extension but with action at a distance. Dynamism describes that which exists as simple elements, or for Leibniz, Monads, and groups of elements which have only the essence of forces. It was developed as a reaction against the passive view of matter in philosophical mechanism.

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