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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 20, 1995

Andrew Pessin
Pages 269-280

In Defense of Conceptual Holism
Reply to Fodor & Lepore

In their recent book Holism, Jerry Fodor & Ernest Lepore (F&L) argue that various species of content holism face insuperable difficulties. In this paper I reply to their claims. After describing the version of holism to which I subscribe, I follow them in addressing, in turn, its implications for these related topics: interpersonal understanding, false beliefs and reference, psychological explanation, content sirnilarity and identity, the analytic-synthetic distinction, and empirical evidence. The most prominent theme in my response to F&L is that while holism does suffer from the problems they note in principle, it’s able to avoid them in practice. Holism’s implications, in short, are not only not fatal, but not even so bad --- and very possibly desirable.

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