Abstracts of Accepted Papers
The Aesthetic Value of Eating Local Food
Matthew Adams, University of Virginia
In this paper I defend the thesis that an intrinsic value of eating local food is aesthetic. I begin by arguing that there are problems with the familiar attempt to defend the value of eating local food by arguing that it is more environmentally friendly than eating non-local food: such an argument rests on empirically false assumption; furthermore, this argument cannot establish that there is anything innately valuable about eating local food. By drawing on Arnold Berleant’s work on environmental aesthetics, I then defend the novel claim that there is in fact an important intrinsic value of eating local food and that this value is aesthetic. I close by arguing that my aesthetic argument has a major practical application: it allows us to strengthen the environmental defense of the value of eating local food.
What Is a Novel?
Alexey Aliyev, University of Maryland
The question "What is a novel?"—unlike analogous questions about a number of other art concepts such as "literature," "music," "dance," "poetry," and "comics"—has received virtually no attention in the philosophical literature. Meanwhile, the question is, doubtless, important. Given this, in this paper, I would like to address this question. I will begin by defining a restricted concept of a novel—the concept that covers all novels except the so-called "non-fiction novels" and "novels in verse." Next, I will define "non-fiction novels" and "novels in verse" and, with the help of this definition and the definition of the restricted concept of a novel, formulate the definition of the concept of a novel simpliciter. Finally, I will show that this definition is sufficiently informative and extensionally adequate and, hence, can be regarded as satisfactory.
Jacob Archambault, Fordham University
This paper combines certain themes from dispositionalist accounts of modality, on the one hand, and the philosophy of time, on the other, into a unified account capable of solving the problems each faces on its own. Recent work on powers modality has begun to split into two camps: the one, both older and more numerous, tending to focus on synchronic modality; the other, on diachronic modality. Adherents to the synchronic approach include Gabriele Contessa, David Yates, and others; while diachronic approaches seem to have first been advocated in recent times by E. J. Lowe, and have been defended at length by Barbara Vetter. The default position of synchronic modalists is what I shall call powers eternalism—briefly, the thesis that i) modal truths are made true by the powers of actually existing things, and ii) that the scope of ‘actually existing’ here includes past, present, and future objects. This paper argues that a presentist, powers based, diachronic account of modality can provide a satisfactory account of our intuitions about modality as well as a compelling rebuttal to alternative accounts; but that taking this account seriously requires a more radically attenuated modal logic than even partisans of such an account realize. I begin by recounting what it is I take it an account of modality is meant to explain. Next, I show that an eternalist powers theory is intrinsically incapable of accounting for this data. After this, I introduce powers presentism, beginning with a statement of the position, moving to a description of its virtues and peculiar challenges, then providing a semantics and philosophical interpretation of it.
Spinoza on the Passions Related to Time
Rachel Aumiller, Villanova University
Spinoza argues that the emotions that characterize our social and political relationships are unstable. As he demonstrates, a joyful social affect that tends to have positive effects for a community, such as hope and confidence, can quickly slip into a divisive affect, such a fear or despair. This paper highlights two sets of passions from Spinoza’s philosophy of affect: hope and fear and confidence and despair. I argue that the volatile nature of these specific passions is directly connected to imaginary notions of ourselves as an individual or community in time. Hope and fear are connected to the imaginary notion of time as past and future, while confidence and despair are connected to an equally imaginary notion of time as present. By drawing on Spinoza’s philosophy of affect, imagination, and time, I connect certain shifts in social affect to shifts in our social imaginary conceptions of time.
Information Foraging: Reasoning as Foraging in the Space of Inferences
David Barack, Columbia University
Reasoning can be explained as a type of internal foraging. Reasoners draw inferences from sets of facts, gathering information about possible conclusion. These sets of facts are analogous to patches, clumps of resources in the environment, for foraging organisms. The inferences made from these facts are reasoning paths, strings of intermediate conclusions drawn from those starting points, analogous to foraging in a patch. As reasoners draw inferences, an information intake rate can be calculated from the information accrued during reasoning, just as energy intake rates can be calculated during foraging. Models from optimal foraging theory that dictate when animals should cease foraging to search for new resources can be applied to this foraging description of inference. This analysis connects reasoning to fundamental capacities of organisms, potentially shining light on the evolutionary and mechanistic grounds of reasoning, as well as outlining novel norms for efficient and informative reasoning.
Moral Assertion or: Invitation to Trust
Max Barkhausen, New York University
A central problem for the relativist is how to explain the rationality of moral debate. Why do we act as if in disagreement when our dispute allows of no objective resolution? If moral judgments are perspectival, what justifies us in believing that our judgments are binding for our interlocutors even if their moral outlooks are different? How can we rationally accomplish convergence on a moral outlook in moral debate? I address these questions by developing a view of the illocutionary force of moral assertion. Moral assertions, I argue, are invitations to enter relationships of mutual moral trust. More precisely, my assertion of p may be understood as follow: in committing myself to act and react in accordance with p if (plural) you are similarly committed, I invite you to enter a relationship of mutual moral trust to act and react in accordance with p. On the resulting view, seemingly intractable cases of moral disagreement may be understood as competing invitations to enter relationships of moral trust and, given that the interlocutors value such relationships, the possibility of rational convergence is explained. Moreover, it turns out that this explanation is unavailable to the objectivist, because objectivism requires rigidity in moral conviction.
Self-Differing, Aspects, and Leibniz's Law
Donald Baxter, University of Connecticut
I argue that an individual has aspects numerically identical with it and each other that nonetheless qualitatively differ from it and each other. This discernibility of identicals does not violate Leibniz's Law, however, which concerns only individuals and is silent about their aspects. They are not in its domain of quantification. To argue that there are aspects I will appeal to the internal conflicts of conscious beings. I do not mean to imply that aspects are confined to such cases, but the best way to start is to recognize them experientially. We can feel the conflicts within ourselves. In doing so we can feel some of our aspects.
Moral Realism and Reliance on Moral Testimony
Joshua Blanchard, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Sarah McGrath raises the following challenge for moral realists. If realism is true, then reliance on moral testimony is appropriate under the same conditions as reliance on non-moral testimony. However, reliance on moral testimony seems inappropriate in many conditions under which reliance on non-moral testimony seems appropriate. Hence, it seems that moral realism is disconfirmed by the inappropriateness of reliance on moral testimony. I argue that McGrath’s argument depends on an implausible disambiguation of “appropriate.” As a metaethical thesis, moral realism predicts that reliance on moral testimony is epistemically appropriate, but is silent on whether such reliance is morally appropriate. To count against realism, the inappropriateness of relying on moral testimony must be epistemic. However, there is good reason to think that the inappropriateness is distinctly moral rather than epistemic. The best explanations and justifications for resistance to reliance on moral testimony fall within the realm of normative moral theory.
Virtue Epistemology and the Closure Principle
Jared Brandt, Baylor University
Much recent work in epistemology has focused on the debate concerning epistemic closure principles. The intuitive idea that supports these principles is that we can extend our knowledge by deduction from other things that we know. This paper argues that Ernest Sosa’s virtue epistemology is incompatible with certain instances of epistemic closure; namely, those instances that involve the deduction of heavyweight implications from ordinary knowledge claims. I will follow Fred Dretske (2005) in characterizing heavyweight implications as those propositions that are entailed by our everyday beliefs, yet cannot be known. Prominent examples include: “I am not a brain in a vat,” and “That animal is not a cleverly disguised mule.” On Sosa’s epistemological framework, it turns out that we cannot know heavyweight implications, even when competently deducing them from ordinary knowledge claims. This will be an unwelcome implication for many who endorse Sosa’s view.
Gun Control and Alcohol Policy
Donald Bruckner, Pennsylvania State University–New Kensington
My thesis is a conditional: if the usual argument for gun control succeeds, then alcohol should be controlled much more strictly than it is. Hugh LaFollette, Jeff McMahan, and David DeGrazia all endorse the most popular and convincing argument for the strict regulation of firearms in the U.S., which is based on the extensive, preventable harm caused by firearms. I review this argument and develop a parallel case for the regulation of alcoholic beverages, which is also based on the extensive, preventable harm caused by alcoholic beverages. I argue that if current gun regulations are justified, then much stronger alcohol regulations are justified. I defend the analogy against objections, including (a) the objection that firearms cause other-inflicted harm more often than alcohol and (b) McMahan’s claim that people desire alcohol independently of what others do, but the decision to own a gun is a Prisoner’s Dilemma requiring a coercive solution.
Two Arguments from Akrasia to Internalism about Practical Deliberation
Michael Bukoski, Dartmouth College
How does practical deliberation lead to action? Deliberative internalists argue that practical deliberation can motivate action or intention-formation on its own, whereas externalists argue that practical deliberation is motivationally impotent in the absence of an independent desire such as the desire to do what one has all-things-considered reason to do. This paper defends deliberative internalism on the grounds that it better explains two features of akrasia (or weakness of will). First, akrasia essentially involves a form of psychological incoherence; the akratic agent is in conflict with herself. Second, as Arpaly and others have argued, it is possible to act rationally against one’s better judgment, namely when one’s akratic action is more rationally responsive to one’s evidence about one’s reasons than the alternative non-akratic action would have been. Deliberative internalism better explains these features of akrasia, so all else equal, it provides the more plausible account of practical deliberation.
A New Understanding of Plato's Method of Division: Divisions and Crafts in the Phaedrus
Douglas Campbell, University of Toronto
In this paper, I argue that, in the Phaedrus, Plato's method of division is meant to facilitate the practice of crafts, such as rhetoric or medicine. Historically, the method has been always seen as a tool for finding de finitions: Aristotle criticizes it as such in the Prior Analytics; Alexander of Aphrodisias follows him; and even in the 20th century, Gilbert Ryle levelled the same accusation. Today's scholars who are not interested in criticizing Plato nevertheless assist his detractors by neglecting this second function of the method. In section 1, I outline the standard account of division. In section 2, I argue that the Phaedrus recommends a di fferent use of division.
Practical Reason, Akrasia, and the Diversity of Motivation
Jeremy Carey, University of California, Berkeley
In response to Socrates' intellectualism, Plato argues in the Republic that there are three distinct sources of motivation - reason, spirit, and appetite. I want to defend a contemporary analogue of Plato's account. I begin by arguing that weak-willed action could not possibly be an expression of practical reason. Thus, if weak-willed action is possible, we must have a way of acting intentionally (i.e., for reasons) in addition to our faculty of reason. After showing how this argument holds up against an alternative approach from Pamela Hieronymi, I say briefly how I think we should respond to this argument – by accepting a new tripartite theory of motivation consisting of reason, desire, and will.
What Do We Owe Adjunct Instructors? A Case for Distributive Justice and Special Professional Obligations
Michelle Ciurria, University of New South Wales
In the current economy, the average postsecondary philosophy adjunct earns approximately $20,000–$25,000 per year, which is close to the poverty level for a family of four, while the average full professor earns from $73,000–$100,000. This paper considers the question of whether we owe adjuncts a larger share of the pie, and if so, how much. It argues that administrators of postsecondary institutions have a duty to distribute resources more fairly, and if they fail in this responsibility, then full-time faculty have a duty to promote this distribution by contributing a large portion of their earnings to adjuncts. This argument depends in part of the existence of special professional obligations, which I defend and apply to the adjunct situation.
Epistemic Probabilities: A Guide for the Perplexed
Nevin Climenhaga, University of Notre Dame
The epistemic probability of A given B—notated P(A|B)—is the degree to which B supports A, or makes A plausible. It constrains rational degrees of belief, in that, if P(A|B) = n, then someone with B as their evidence ought to be confident that A to degree n. In this paper I address the question of what determines the values of epistemic probabilities. I divide this question into two parts, which I call the structural part and the substantive part. The structural question asks what probabilities’ values are determined by the values of other probabilities, and what probabilities’ values are not determined by the values of other probabilities. These latter probabilities are the basic quantities out of which other probabilities are built, the ‘atoms’ of probability theory. Given values for them, we can compute values for all non-basic probabilities. The substantive question then asks how the values of basic probabilities are determined. I defend an answer to the structural question I call Explanationism. This view identifies as basic the conditional probability of an atomic proposition given immediately explanatorily prior propositions, as formalized in a Bayesian network representation. I defend Explanationism against a view I call Orthodoxy, on which the unconditional probabilities of complete world-states are basic. I present two arguments in favor of Explanationism. The first is that the probabilities that Explanationism identifies as basic are precisely those which we find ourselves better able to perceive the values of. The second argument is that plausible substantive methods, such as the Principle of Indifference, deliver more accurate results when combined with Explanationism than when combined with Orthodoxy.
The Tale of a Moderate Normative Skeptic
Brendan Cline, University at Buffalo
While many take Richard Joyce’s moral error theory to be an extreme metaethical view, it is actually tamer than it first appears. By highlighting four challenges facing his theory, I argue that the moderation of Joyce’s moral error theory is, in fact, a theoretical liability. First, the fact that Joyce is not skeptical about normativity in general makes it possible to develop close approximations to morality, lending support to moderate revisionism over moral error theory. Second, Joyce relies on unnecessarily strong conceptual and empirical claims in support of his views. Third, Joyce’s evolutionary debunking argument threatens to backfire, generalizing to all normative judgments. Finally, Joyce fails to offer an adequate account of the normativity of desire. Each of these problems can be sidestepped or embraced by radicalizing. Thus, radical, global normative skepticism appears to be in a more robust position, dialectically, than Joyce’s moderate moral error theory.
How to Benacerraf a Goodman-Lewis
Sam Cowling, Denison University
This paper offers a limited defense of the thesis Nelson Goodman labels “nominalism,” according to which there are no distinct entities constructed from the same basic entities. Goodmanian nominalism—“gnominalism,” for short—bears an uncertain relation to more familiar nominalist theses, but, according to Goodman, anti-gnominalism is simply “incomprehensible.” Unfortunately, as many commentators have noted, Goodman offers frustratingly little in the way of arguments for gnominalism. The present reassessment of gnominalism argues that Goodman is right to claim that theories violating gnominalism incur a distinctive theoretical vice. At the same time, the glaring lack of arguments for gnominalism indicate that something has gone badly wrong. Roughly speaking, Goodman’s support for gnominalism mistakes the symptom for the disease. This is because the vice of anti-gnominalist theories is that they are uniformly susceptible to variations on the Non-Uniqueness Problem that Paul Benacerraf presents for set-theoretic reductions. Gnominalism can therefore be motivated as a response to the Non-Uniqueness Problem. For this reason, would-be gnominalists like David Lewis are best served to argue against contested posits by showing these posits to yield Non-Uniqueness Problems given the existence of distinct entities constructed from the basic entities. To this end, after explaining gnominalism and its connection to the Non-Uniqueness Problem, I discuss how Lewis’ version of gnominalism departs from Goodman’s own. I then argue that a Non-Uniqueness Problem arises for those who posit structural universals—the leading target of Lewis’ gnominalism.
Grounding, Dependence and Mathematical Explanation
William D'Alessandro, University of Illinois at Chicago
In recent work, Chris Pincock has developed a grounding-style theory of mathematical explanation. Pincock’s account targets an important type of special case, namely the occurrence of systematic explanatory relationships between distinct mathematical domains. In this paper I aim to do two things. My first goal is to show that Pincock’s theory fails—not only as a general account of the relevant type of mathematical explanation, but even as an analysis of Galois theory case that serves as Pincock's main example. My second objective is to argue (briefly) that any grounding-style account of mathematical explanation is unlikely to succeed.
Rational Persuasion, Paternalism, and Respect
Ryan Davis, Brigham Young University
Many philosophers hold that rational persuasion cannot be objectionably paternalistic. Against this consensus, George Tsai has recently argued that that providing another person with reasons or evidence (even good reasons or evidence) can be morally wrong. I believe this claim is importantly correct, but in this essay I offer a distinctive explanation for it. Contrary to Tsai, objectionable rational persuasion is not wrong because it undermines the value of an agent’s life. I suggest that the argument for this conclusion turns on an ambiguous premise. Once disambiguated, the premise is either false, or fails to support the claim that rational persuasion can have the claimed negative effects. I propose instead that rational persuasion is wrong when it undermines a person’s self-constituting symbolic values. One upshot of this discussion is that the autonomy of persons may be more vulnerable to outside interference than is usually supposed.
Feeling and Inclination: Rationalizing the Animal Within
Janelle DeWitt, Indiana University Bloomington
A common assumption among Kantians is that the feelings/inclinations constituting non-moral motivation are little different from the brute sensations and blind instinctual urges found in animals. And since this “inner animal” lacks reason, it cannot control itself. So our rational nature must step in to govern. The problem, however, is that it must do so as a nature standing above the animal as an independent ruler. I reject this understanding of our lower nature, arguing instead that reason governs from within our lower nature, by giving it shape and structure. This is possible because Kant actually held a cognitive theory, one in which feeling takes the form of judgments of fit between an object and the sensible needs of the subject, by which the life or well-being of the subject is promoted. Through these judgments of feeling, reason generates a complex evaluative framework that structures our practical point of view.
The Paradox of Non-Conglomerability Is a Paradox for Everyone
Nicholas DiBella, Stanford University
The Paradox of Non-Conglomerability (de Finetti 1972) is the counterintuitive claim that there are some epistemic contexts in which a rational agent's degrees of belief can be adequately represented by a non-conglomerable probability function. In this paper, I show that a non-representational analogue of the paradox arises for rational comparative confidence. In doing so, I expose the underlying logical basis of the paradox and show that it is not merely an artifact of the probabilistic representation of uncertainty. It is a genuine paradox of rationality.
Explaining the Paradox of Hedonism
Alexander Dietz, University of Southern California
A number of philosophers have claimed that exclusively desiring one’s own pleasure or happiness can be self-defeating. This idea is known as the paradox of hedonism. Why would the paradox of hedonism be true? Some philosophers, including Michael Stocker and Peter Railton, have tried to explain the paradox as a consequence of certain peculiarities of human psychology. However, Joseph Butler offered a quite different kind of explanation. According to Butler, the paradox arises because of the very nature of pleasure. In this paper, I argue that there are serious problems with the theory of pleasure that Butler offers. However, I show that a more recent theory about the nature of pleasure, offered by Chris Heathwood, can avoid these problems. And I show that this theory, together with a widely held view about rationality, can explain a limited version of the paradox.
Eliminating the Descent Condition from Gracia's Genetic Common-Bundle View of Race
Brian Donohue, University at Buffalo
Jorge Gracia has advanced a novel view of race, which defines a race roughly as a group that meets the conditions that (1) members of the group are linked by descent to other members and (2) members have certain physical features which are genetically transmittable, generally associated with the group, and perspicuous. In this paper, I pose a problem for Gracia’s account in the form of a thought-experiment involving an individual who plausibly has a race, but if so meets one, but not both, of Gracia’s conditions outlined above. Then, I argue that if we eliminate the condition that members of a race be linked by descent, then the problem is resolved without cost to either the theoretical project of articulating a coherent concept of race or to the practical project of bringing a correctly analyzed concept of race to bear upon issues in social, ethical, and political discourse.
Intentionalism and the Phenomenology of Mental Effort
Maria Doulatova, Washington University in St. Louis
Most of us are familiar with phenomenology of mental effort accompanying performing cognitively demanding tasks like focusing on the next chess move or avoiding distracters on the Stroop task. In this paper, I will show that phenomenology of mental effort poses a novel counterexample to intentionalism or the view that phenomenal character supervenes on intentional content. Any type of intentionalism is committed to showing that whenever an aspect of our phenomenology changes, what it represents also changes. In this paper, I argue against any attempt to capture the phenomenal character of mental effort phenomenology in representational terms. After introducing intentionalism, I will go on to articulate how an increase in the phenomenology of mental effort does not accompany a difference in any of the following candidate representational contents: a) representation of change in the way external features appear, e.g., brighter, with more contrast and so on, b) difference in task difficultly representation c) difference in representation of the possibility of error, d) representation of bodily changes like sweating and heart rate, and e) representation of change in cognitive resource depletion. Hence I argue against global intentionalists’ central claim: necessarily, if two experiences differ in their phenomenal properties, they differ in their representational properties. The stakes are high since the possibility of finding a supervenience base for phenomenal consciousness does not only present us with “the greatest chasm in philosophy of mind,” but also provides hope for reductionist theories of consciousness.
Collective Knowledge and Socially Extended Epistemology
Chris Dragos, University of Toronto
I connect two threads in analytic epistemology. The first is the departure from its traditionally individualistic character. Several epistemologists argue that, for some cases of knowledge, justification can be attained only collectively. Some of these argue that collective justification implies collective knowledge: if groups can be justified, groups can have knowledge. I argue that the inference is drawn far too quickly; proponents of the argument fail to consider socially extended, externalist analyses of knowledge, according to which individuals can know even when depending on others for attaining justification. The second thread in analytic epistemology concerns externalism. Due to several problems, externalists have largely abandoned the extended models on offer early in the externalist turn (e.g. causal theories, simple process reliabilism), opting instead for models restricting epistemological analysis to the individual agent’s belief-generating cognitive processes (e.g., agent reliabilism). I prescribe a return to extended externalism, though only after it’s fully ‘socialized’.
The Missing Shade of Blue: Hume's Mistake
Bruce Dutra, County College of Morris
The story of the Missing Shade of Blue is presented by David Hume as a counterexample to his key claim—the Copy Principle—that all our ideas are copies of past impressions. The story has generated a great deal of attention, with many interpretations—and criticisms—of Hume’s thinking regarding it. In this paper I present a novel argument suggesting that the story does not present a counterexample to the Copy Principle, due to the fact that the man in Hume’s story would not be able to have the idea of the missing shade, contrary to what Hume states.
Liberty and a Rawlsian Ethos of Justice
Aaron Elliott, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
This paper advances the discussion of how a Rawlsian ethos is to be conceived and justified. From Cohen’s original thought that it is just a commitment towards promoting equality and an unjustified prerogative to selfishly defect from those responsibilities, I move with Estlund to a more robust conception of the prerogative, such that it includes not just mere self-interest, but our other concerns as well. Then, I explain Titelbaum’s Rawlsian framework for vindicating an element for inclusion in the ethos. This demonstrates how to understand why there would be such a prerogative: it is part and parcel of valuing the development of the moral powers of persons. I further employ Titelbaum’s framework, applying it to the distinction between formal liberty and the worth of liberty, and show that a truly complete ethos also includes the inclination to promote the development of the moral powers of others.
The Nature of Manipulation
Matthew Flummer, Florida State University
Manipulation cases feature prominently in both arguments for incompatibilism and arguments for historicism. However, there has not been a lot of work done on the nature of manipulation. This is unfortunate because the nature of manipulation will inform us on its significance (including whether and when it undermines moral responsibility). In this paper, I survey what I take to be the two most promising accounts of manipulation. Barnhill’s account of manipulation as influence that causes someone to fall short of ideals and Gorin’s account of manipulation as influence that fails to track reasons. I present counterexamples to both of these accounts. I then defend a version of what has been called the bypass model of manipulation—manipulation necessarily bypasses or subverts the manipulee’s rational capacities.
Moral Responsibility for Concepts
Rachel Fredericks, Ball State University
By extending one of Angela Smith’s arguments, I argue that we are morally responsible for the concepts that we have and use, since they share the features that make us morally responsible for our attitudes. Specifically, like attitudes, concepts are: (a) conceptually and rationally connected to our evaluative judgments, (b) in principle subject to rational revision (that is, reasons-responsive), and (c) things on the basis of which we make moral assessments of people in everyday practice, some of which are assessments that we have good reasons to endorse. In saying that we are morally responsible for our concepts, I simply mean that we are open to moral appraisal on the basis of them, not that it is always appropriate to praise or blame people for their concepts.
Microaggressions in Clinical Medicine: A Critique of Beauchamp and Childress’ Principle of Non-Maleficence
Lauren Freeman, University of Louisville
This paper critiques Beauchamp and Childress’ principle of non-maleficence. We argue that it’s reductive insofar as it considers only physical harms, thereby failing to capture various non-physical harms that patients frequently experience in clinical settings that are just as serious as physical harms. There are three different non-physical harms that concern us, all of which can result from microaggressions: emotional harms, epistemic harms, and existential harms to self-identity. Insofar as these harms result from microaggressions experienced in medical encounters, they have the further consequence of undermining physician-patient relationships, precluding relationships of trust, and compromising the kind and quality of care received. Insofar as this is so, we argue that the non-physical harms resulting from microaggressions are just as serious as the physical harms upon which Beauchamp and Childress focus, and thus, that it’s a deep oversight that they fail to include them in their account of the principle of non-maleficence.
Aristotle's Modal Theses in Theta 4
Everett Fulmer, Saint Louis University
Several commentators have seen in the second half of Metaphysics Theta 4 an argument for the fundamental K-Diamond Rule of contemporary modal logic. Yet the same paragraph that seems to show such logical acuity ends with Aristotle “proving” a second, and patently invalid, modal rule. The most recent attempt to absolve Aristotle from this logical blunder comes from Kit Fine (2011) who goes so far as to attribute to Aristotle an idiosyncratic modal system that, among other things, denies the T-axiom. In my view, the solution is much simpler. The key that has been overlooked is that Aristotle is offering a modal analysis of entailment relations. Once this is seen, the possibility operators in the passage gain scope over the entire sentence of analysis. The results are as much as can be hoped for: valid modal rules, sound arguments, and no need to appeal to anything beyond standard modal logic.
Todd Ganson, Oberlin College
In this paper we introduce and defend a novel account of what is required for an organism to possess sensory powers. Our account of sensory powers has several advantages over a more traditional approach tracing back to Aristotle. The most significant virtue of our account is that it captures fundamental presuppositions of a powerful explanatory paradigm in the biological sciences.
The Irrelevance of Moral Uncertainty to Moral Exculpation
Jay Geyer, University of Colorado Boulder
Expected Moral Value Theory (EMVT) is the view that when one is morally uncertain about what to do, one should consider the expected moral value of one’s prospective actions in addition to one’s best estimates of which of those prospective actions is in fact morally required. Elizabeth Harman (2015) has recently argued against EMVT. According to Harman, EMVT entails that moral ignorance exculpates an agent who has acted wrongly out of her false moral beliefs. But moral ignorance does not exculpate, argues Harman, providing cases in which our intuitions tell against such exculpation. I argue that EMVT can be understood either as a theory of practical rationality or as a theory of subjective moral obligation. On either understanding, I argue that EMVT does not entail that moral ignorance morally exculpates, at least not in the sense of moral exculpation that our intuitions are tracking in Harman’s cases.
Why Asking What Women Want Is the Wrong Question: Diversity, Interests, and Inductive Risk
Stacey Goguen, Boston University
Recently philosophers have sought to increase the representation of women in philosophy, aiming for gender parity. However, some worry that this goal may not be warranted. For, what if women are simply not as interested in philosophy as men are? To determine what our goal should be, shouldn’t we first ask what women want? I argue that this question is misguided; it presumes that gender differences in interest either (a) cannot be changed, or, (b) should not be changed. I argue that (a) is not warranted and that (b) evokes an argument from inductive risk—one that likely fails.
The T-Schema Without Bivalence
Simon Goldstein, Rutgers University
The T-Schema says that if p, then p is true. Williamson 1992 shows that classical logic plus the T-Schema entails Bivalence: that either p is true or not p is true. Bivalence seems to fail for vague sentences. If o is a borderline case of red, then it seems that neither o is red nor o is not red is true. So it seems that vague predicates must also violate the T-Schema. In this paper, I offer a new solution to this problem. To do so, I synthesize two semantic traditions: supervaluationism and update semantics. Like supervaluationism, I model a context as a set of precisifications of a language. I then interpret the truth predicate analogously to the modal operator must in update semantics. As well, I add a dynamic conditional from update semantics. The resulting theory validates the T-Schema while giving up Bivalence and Proof by Cases.
Idealization and Abstraction in Models of Oppression
Leif Hancox-Li, University of Southern California
Charles Mills has argued against ideal theory in political philosophy on the basis that it contains idealizations. Mills relies on a distinction between idealization and abstraction. Idealizations are bad but abstractions are acceptable. Using Schelling segregation models as an example, I argue that either this distinction makes sense only relative to one’s modelling purposes, or all models in political theory contain idealizations. If the former, then one cannot argue against ideal theory simply based on its idealizations, since those idealizations can be interpreted as abstractions given some modelling purposes. If the latter, then the idealization/abstraction distinction does not favor non-ideal theory. Furthermore, philosophy of science has long provided arguments for the benefits of idealizations. Given all this, I provide alternative reasons, not based on the idealization/abstraction distinction, for why we should prefer political theories that place more emphasis on race-, class-, and gender-based oppression.
Happiness, Suffering and Prudential Asymmetry
Jennifer Hawkins, Duke University
There is an asymmetry in the way that happiness and suffering contribute to prudential value. Although I assume that happiness has intrinsic welfare value (and suffering intrinsic disvalue), I am not a hedonist. Many other things besides happiness, including non-mental things, can contribute positively to welfare. However, I argue that happiness has a very different relationship to the non-mental components of welfare than suffering does. Unlike happiness, which can co-exist easily with other prudential goods, suffering, when it occurs, makes it difficult or impossible for other things to count as either prudentially good or bad. The defense of this claim proceeds in two stages. I first offer novel accounts of the nature of happiness and suffering according to which they are affective states. Second, I defend a thesis making positive affective response a necessary requirement of something’s counting as good for an individual. Together, these claims support the asymmetry described.
First- and Second-Order Theories: Williamson on Knowledge by Imagination
Benjamin Henke, Washington University in St. Louis
On the traditional view, imagination is a guide to possibility and necessity, but not to actuality or close counterfactuality; such knowledge is the exclusive purview of other capacities. In “Knowing by Imagining”, Timothy Williamson argues that, under certain circumstances, imagination can provide knowledge of likelihoods. On his view, imagination ‘pre-selects’ possibilities, preferring more likely scenarios. He then argues that because the imagination employs the same cognitive processes employed in other areas, ‘philosophical exceptionalism’ is false. I take up each point in turn: First, either Williamson is defending a theory of imagination in empirical cognitive psychology or one in folk psychology. Either way, his theory is underdetermined by his intuitive evidence. Second, drawing on a point by Albert Casullo, I argue that because Willliamson takes a broad approach to the imagination, his analysis leaves room for distinctive applications of the imagination across disciplines.
About Propositions and Their Component Facts: an Essay in Pointillist Metaphysics
Aviv Hoffmann, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Here are three questions in the metaphysics of propositions: (1) What in the nature of a proposition allows it to be about a given thing? (2) What in the nature of a proposition allows it to be true or false? (3) What in the combined nature of a fact and the corresponding true proposition allows the former to be a truth-maker of the latter? Question (3) is especially difficult because it can only be answered by devising synergetic theories of facts and propositions. (This is neither the problem of assigning a truth-maker to any true proposition; nor is it the problem of articulating what it is for a thing to be a truth-maker.) I answer the above questions by offering a doctrine I call metaphysical pointillism. According to it, possible facts (i.e., states of affairs) and propositions inhabit a space I call exemplification space, where each point is an ordered triple which has a possible individual, a possible property, and a possible world as components, in this order. I offer two synergetic pointillist theories. According to the uniregional theory, possible facts are (some) nonempty regions of exemplification space. According to the biregional theory, propositions are (some) ordered pairs of regions of exemplification space: the first component of a pair corresponds to the truth of the proposition, and the second component of the pair corresponds to its falsity. These theories are synergetic: the truth region of a possibly true proposition is the corresponding possible fact, and the falsity region is the (fact-theoretic) negation of that fact. Given that facts are truth-makers, this result is especially useful in truth-maker theory: it turns out that the truth-maker of a true proposition is its truth region. This vindicates the much-debated thesis of truth-maker maximalism by assigning a (unique) possible truth-maker to each possible truth.
The Coercive Approach: Problems with a Limited View of Distributive Justice
Elizabeth Hupfer, Rice University
Theories of distributive justice— or the view that benefits of a system ought to be fairly divided— can be sifted into two categories: the coercive and the cooperative approach. The coercive approach argues that the scope of distributive justice is determined by the existence of coercive systems, while the cooperative approach argues that the scope of distributive justice is shaped by the existence of cooperative schemes. Coercive theorists often argue that obligations of distributive justice do not extend beyond the borders of a nation. In this paper I will refute this claim by proposing two objections to the coercive approach. First, the incoherence objection calls into question the ability of the coercive theorist to reach her conclusion about the scope of distributive justice. Second, the coercion as cooperation objection argues that even the most charitable account of the coercive approach collapses into the cooperative approach to distributive justice.
Frege’s Arguments for his Basic Laws
Jim Hutchinson, University of California, Berkeley
Frege often claims that our justification for accepting “axioms” must be independent of all other truths, and he offers a regress argument to show that if we are justified in accepting anything, there must be some truths like this. This makes it puzzling why he offers arguments for the axioms of his logical system that appeal to various other truths. Most commentators resolve the puzzle by holding that those arguments are not intended to justify us in accepting the axioms, but to serve some other purpose. I argue that this does not fit with the text, and that we instead must understand the claims of “independence” in a way that does not rule out such justification. A comparison with Aristotle helps us to see how to make sense of this.
The Argument from Epistemic Duties: A New Argument for External Reasons for Action
Alexander Hyun, University of Wisconsin–Madison
In this paper, I defend a new argument against internalism about reasons for action. My argument appeals to epistemic normativity. While many philosophers have used epistemic normativity to undermine internalism, they tend to do so only to show that some arguments for internalism fail. In contrast, I draw on epistemic normativity to establish the more important conclusion that internalism is false. I first argue that we have epistemic duties of action, i.e., duties of an epistemic sort to perform certain actions, such as enrolling in a critical thinking class. I then argue that these epistemic duties apply to agents irrespective of their desires. Finally, I argue for epistemic rationalism, which states that there is always a reason to do what one has an epistemic duty to do. It follows from these premises that there are reasons for action that we have irrespective of our desires—that is, internalism is false.
Reflections on the Wandering Mind: A Puzzle for Dual Process Theory
Zachary Irving, University of California, Berkeley
Mind-wandering raises a puzzle for dual process theorists. Evans and Stanovich distinguish between automatic (Type 1) and analytic (Type 2) processes on the grounds that only the former use Working Memory (WM). Puzzlingly, two diagnostics based on the psychological conception of WM are equivocal about how to classify mind-wandering. To resolve this puzzle, I enrich dual process theory in a novel way. I still distinguish between two kinds of processes: those that use WM and those that don't. Since mind-wandering uses WM, it is Type 2. Yet there are divisions within (at least) Type 2 processes, which reflect different ways that WM can support conscious thinking. My view draws on Stanovich's distinction between algorithmic and reflective Type 2 cognition. But whereas Stanovich thinks that the reflective mind is exhausted by rational thinking dispositions, I contend that there is a distinctive mode of reflective processing: mind-wandering.
The Puzzle of Skilled Behavior
Carolyn Jennings, University of California, Merced
The puzzle of skilled behavior is that of determining whether and how it counts as a form of intentional action. Although skilled behavior seems more deeply agent-involving than other behaviors, making it a candidate for intentional behavior, it also seems sometimes to proceed without and despite the agent, giving it qualities of unintentional behavior. In this paper I review the puzzle of skilled behavior and some attempted solutions to the puzzle, before presenting my own solution: the puzzle of skilled behavior calls for us to distinguish two types of control, rational control and expert control, both of which allow for intentional action. The natural tension between these forms of control, at its most extreme for highly skilled activities, explains the tension felt in the case of skilled behavior. Along the way I will discuss the case of choking and the empirical research on this phenomenon to draw out the puzzle.
What Denial Isn't
Matthias Jenny, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Bilateralists such as Timothy Smiley (1996) and Ian Rumfitt (2000) claim that the logical connectives are governed by rules of denial in addition to rules of assertion. Bilateralists need denial to be a primitive speech act that’s not to be explained in terms of truth-functional negation. And in fact, Smiley notes that he treats “assertion and [denial] as distinct activities on all fours with one another” (Smiley 1996, 1). However, the notion of denial at the heart of the bilateralist program remains undertheorized. In this paper, I discuss the thesis put forth by some authors that ‘not’ is ambiguous between a truth-function and a force indicator. Call an utterance that uses ‘not’ as a force indicator not-denial. I argue that not-denial fails to meet certain features that are central to assertion.
From Logical Pluralism to Logical Contextualism
Ethan Jerzak, University of California, Berkeley
Logical pluralists think that disagreements about what follows from what have more than one correct answer. In its most radical `global' form, espoused by Beall and Restall, nothing suffices to fix a unique correct answer; even relative to the exact same context, there's more than one correct logic. I argue that global pluralism cannot vindicate a reasonable normative role for logic: plausible bridge principles between logical consequence and knowledge/rational belief allow global pluralism to infect other domains where it has no motivation. I argue that contextualism fares much better, and jives nicely with independently motivated forms of contextualism in these domains.
A Critique of Strong Emergence
Joshua Johnson, Saint Louis University
Carl Gillett has in various places defended a theory of emergence that he considers to have been largely neglected by philosophers in the contemporary literature. He calls this theory “Strong Emergence”, and claims that it occupies a place between merely epistemological “Weak Emergence” and anti-physicalist “Radical Emergence. I present and explain Gillett’s theory, and proceed to consider objections to it—particularly with respect to its two crucial conceptual components: Dimensioned Realization and Machretic Determination. After considering two possible interpretations of Machretic Determination, I argue that Strong Emergence fails as a theory of ontological emergence because it is either incoherent or the emergent properties that it proposes are ontologically superfluous.
Butler and Kymlicka: The Emancipationist Model of Multiculturalism
Aret Karademir, Middle East Technical University
Will Kymlicka claims that group-specific ethno-cultural minority rights may be defended without departing from the paradigm of liberal democracy and its individualism. However, the way he formulates and promotes these rights, stemming from his limited social ontology, makes his conception of multiculturalism vulnerable to the common critique that multicultural policies essentialize and freeze minority cultures as though those cultures had fixed boundaries and unadulterated characteristics, thereby leading to nothing but balkanization, segregation, and ethnic chauvinism. I argue that the social ontology developed by Judith Butler may be utilized to defend the type of minority rights that Kymlicka promotes without falling into the pitfalls of his liberal multiculturalism. I also argue that a critical encounter between Butler and Kymlicka may help us develop what I call the emancipationist model of multiculturalism, which takes as its guiding perspective the problem not only of balkanization, segregation, and ethnic chauvinism, but also of minorities-within-minorities.
Interventionism and Old-School Functionalism
Douglas Keaton, Flagler College
In recent work, non-reductive physicalists in the metaphysics of mind have looked to the interventionist account of causation to ward off threats of epiphenomenalism. In a series of recent papers Michael Baumgartner has argued that the interventionist turn has not delivered on its promise. My goal here is to respond to one of Baumgartner’s most recent arguments. Baumgartner argues that James Woodward’s most recent account of interventionism renders mental properties, at best, distal causes of their alleged effects – and this, in a manner which is false to the picture of mental causation that non-reductivists wish to vindicate. Baumgartner’s argument relies upon an often-employed but mistaken picture of the supervenience bases of mental properties. I show that if interventionists use standard functionalist metaphysics with some care, they can avoid Baumgartner’s objection.
Factual Phenomenal Knowledge and The Ability Hypothesis
Tufan Kiymaz, Indiana University Bloomington
In this paper, I argue that the ability hypothesis response to Jackson’s (1982, 1986) knowledge argument is implausible. First, I discuss and defend Nida-Rümelin’s (2004) objection to the ability hypothesis, and, next, I offer two novel objections. Briefly, I argue that, even if, as Lewis argues, to know what it is like to see red is to have the abilities to imagine, remember, and recognize red-seeing experience, when Mary acquires these abilities, she learns new facts about these abilities, and this undermines the ability hypothesis. Secondly, I point out that when one imagines the red-seeing experience, one imagines it either under a physical/functional guise, or under a phenomenal guise, or under a blind guise, that is, directly and without an associated mode of presentation. I argue that each of these options pose a problem to the ability hypothesis.
Hospitality’s Downfall: Kant, Cosmopolitanism and Refugees
Adam Knowles, Drexel University
This paper applies Kant’s conceptions of cosmopolitanism and hospitality to analyze the current refugee crisis. Focusing on Kant’s mandate that a nation must allow foreigners entry if sending them away would lead to their downfall, and by interpreting downfall in the broadest sense as the opposite of human flourishing, the paper argues that the ethical demand put on a host nation by refugees is a duty to create hospitable spaces. Drawing on Kant’s concern with the blending of the lines between war and peace in modern nation-states, the paper concludes by questioning whether the earth itself has been rendered inhospitable in the neoliberal age.
Shared Intention Is Not Joint Commitment
Matthew Kopec, Charles Sturt University
Margaret Gilbert defends the view that, roughly speaking, agents will share the intention to perform an action if and only if they jointly commit to performing that action. In this essay, we use counterexamples to show that joint commitment is neither necessary nor sufficient for shared intention.
Universalism and Debunking
David Kovacs, Bilkent University
Daniel Korman has recently advanced a debunking argument against perceptual belief in ordinary objects. One might think that revisionary ontologists escape this argument, since their beliefs about ordinary objects are based on largely theoretical considerations rather than perception. Korman, however, argues that the core arguments for revisionary positions feature at least one premise that we are asked to accept on perceptual grounds, and are therefore susceptible to debunking. For example, the two main arguments for universalism (the view that any objects in any arrangement compose another object) crucially rely on premises for which our only evidence is perceptual. I argue that even if the debunking argument is sound, universalists have no reason to be worried about it because, pace Korman, their arguments make no essential use of perceptual experience as of ordinary objects. The surprising upshot is that Korman’s debunking argument strengthens, rather than weakens, the universalist’s dialectical position.
Persons and Selves in Modally Plenitudinous Endurantism
Irem Kurtsal, Bogaziçi University
I explain and motivate Modally Plenitudinous Endurantism (MPE), the view that every non-empty spacetime region and every modal profile for an object that the matter in that region satisfies, there is a distinct object that exactly fits that region and endures through the temporal axis of that region. Then I examine which entities in this Plenitude are our selves. I argue that appeal to the “argument from anthropocentrism” for MPE puts pressure on us to accept that members of different communities correctly self-identify under different subject concepts, person being only one of these. I also argue that whereas a subject concept is somewhat underdetermined as to its spatiotemporal and modal boundaries, different individuals who self-apply a concept make it more determinate in their case, thereby literally self-determining. So, there is not only intercommunity but also individual variation in the individuation and persistence conditions of our selves. After offering a semantics and an ontology of self-determination, I respond to the coincidence, and arbitrariness objections against the view.
Perceived Rational Authority, Conversational Implicature, and the Epistemology of Implicit Bias
Charles Lassiter, Gonzaga University
In this paper, I formulate a social epistemological understanding of implicit bias. Inquirers fail to distinguish between genuine and merely perceived rational authorities because they share similar properties indicating their own epistemic goodness. As a result, inquirers form an implicitly biased belief whose rational grounds include that the belief comes from a rational authority (to the inquirer’s mind). The mechanism by which the inquirer comes to entertain the belief in the first place is conversational implicature. When perceived rational authorities conversationally implicate a discriminatory proposition, inquirers attribute a biased belief to that authority; because the authority is (mistakenly) believed by the inquirer to be a genuine rational authority, the inquirer comes to endorse an implicitly biased belief because the perceived rational authority does. This understanding shifts focus from epistemic agents to social relations and structures in the epistemology of implicit bias.
Is Understanding Factive? Responding to the Objection from Scientific Idealizations
Richard Lauer, St. Lawrence University
Philosophers have argued that understanding is factive. Some have challenged this position by appealing to the use of idealizations in science. Specifically, Mizrahi (2012) claims that idealizations give evidence for the quasi-factive nature of understanding, that i.e. understanding consists in a mix of true and false propositions. This paper challenges the quasi-factive view by appealing to what Weisberg (2013) calls models of impossible systems – systems that can’t be actualized, but which are nevertheless useful for scientific purposes. Moreover, I argue that such models don’t challenge the factive conception when we consider the doxastic attitudes scientists should have towards idealizations.
Loopy Dispositionalism: A Problem for Schwitzgebel's Account of Belief
Matthew Lee, Berry College
Eric Schwitzgebel has developed a sophisticated dispositionalist account of belief, according to which believing a proposition is a matter of having enough of the relevant dispositional properties. But since it is a datum that beliefs come in degrees of strength, an account of belief ought to give rise to a viable account of degrees of belief. On the most straightforward extension of Schwitzgebel’s account, one subject has a higher degree of belief than another by having higher degrees of enough of the relevant degreed properties of the relevant dispositions (tending to feel more conviction, tending to engage in less hedging in assertion, tending to be more surprised should the proposition turn out to be false, etc.). I show that this extension faces a serious problem: it renders degrees of belief intransitive. I reject two ways of responding to this problem and then promote a more complex extension of Schwitzgebel’s view.
How Supererogation Can Save Intrapersonal Permissivism
Han Li, Brown University
Rationality is intrapersonally permissive just in case there are multiple doxastic states that one agent may be rational in holding at a given time, given some body of evidence. One way for intrapersonal permissivism to be true is if there are epistemic supererogatory beliefs—beliefs that go beyond the call of epistemic duty. Despite this, there has been almost no discussion of epistemic supererogation in the permissivism literature. In this paper, I show that this is a mistake. I do this by arguing that the most popular ways of responding to one of the major obstacles to any intrapersonally permissive theory—the arbitrariness objection due to Roger White—all fall prey to the same problem. This problem is most naturally solved by positing a category of epistemically supererogatory belief. So intrapersonal epistemic permissivists should embrace epistemic supererogation.
On "I Do What Happens"
Chen Liang, University of Illinois at Chicago
This paper examines Anscombe’s formula: “I do what happens,” which occurs in §29 of her classic monograph on intentional action: Intention. In a recent paper Anton Ford offers a novel interpretation, according to which (1) the formula expresses a purely metaphysical thesis (not making any reference to knowledge), and (2) the metaphysical thesis expressed by the formula is that what the agent does in acting on a patient (“action”) is identical with what the patient suffers (“passion”). My criticism of this view will be presented along with my alternative reading, according to which the formula asserts the identity of one’s intentional action and certain events in the world, but it isn’t about the relation between action and passion, as Ford would like to put it, at all. Ford’s error may result from a conflation of two senses of the word suffer and thus of two distinctions between doing and suffering.
Kantian Arguments for Legalizing a Market in Organs
Daniel MacDougall, New York City College of Technology
Many authors have argued that some of the strongest reasons for legally prohibiting the sale of human body parts are found in Kant’s moral philosophy. Others, rejecting such legal prohibitions, often also address Kantian arguments against such sales, implying that they agree that the success of Kant’s moral arguments against organ sales is relevant to the laws governing such sales. In this paper I argue that Kant’s philosophy does not support such a legal prohibition. Rather, Kant’s political philosophy (as developed in the Doctrine of Right) requires the sale of human body parts to be legally permitted, despite the moral impermissibility of such sales. I argue further that that the legality of such a market is necessitated by the inherent limitations of Kant’s moral philosophy.
A Three-tiered Distinction between Types of Charitable Causes
Nikolaos Maggos, University of Iowa
As the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (henceforth, the “Code”) currently stands, deductible donations to charitable organizations like art museums are treated exactly the same as deductible donations to organizations providing food to the starving. That is a problem. In this paper I argue that any justification for having or removing subsidies for charitable giving must specify which causes should or should not be subsidized, and to what degree. I then suggest that the causes currently considered charitable under the Code fall into three distinct categories: causes that serve duty, causes that serve charity, and causes that serve philanthropy. I call this the three-tiered distinction. Each of these categories should be evaluated separately when determining whether and how to subsidize charity, and I argue that these distinctions should be employed not just in the U.S., but in any liberal democracy.
Reforming Reformed Epistemology: A New Take on the Sensus Divinitatis
Blake McAllister, Hillsdale College
Alvin Plantinga theorizes the existence of a sensus divinitatis—a special cognitive faulty or mechanism dedicated to the production and non-inferential justification of theistic belief. Following Chris Tucker, I offer an internalist-friendly model of the sensus divinitatis whereon it produces theistic seemings that non-inferentially justify theistic belief. I suggest that the sensus divinitatis produces these seemings by tacitly grasping epistemic support relations between the content of ordinary experiences and propositions about God. This model boasts numerous advantages such as eliminating the need for a sui generis religious faculty, harmonizing the sensus divinitatis with prominent theories in the cognitive science of religion, and providing a superior explanation of how nature reveals God.
Knowing Precisely: Aristotle's Epistemic Psychology
Ian McCready-Flora, University of Virginia
Aristotle has systematic views about cognitive precision that ought to have wide-reaching implications for how we understand his epistemology. The topic, however, does not receive the attention it deserves. I argue here that cognitive precision (I set aside certain other uses) tracks what I call epistemic value. The epistemic value of a state is relative to a given question, and is proportional to the power that state has to put someone safely beyond doubt as to how to answer the question. Say, then, that a sufficiently precise state settles the question. Being beyond doubt is partly a matter of phenomenology because Aristotle associates precision with a certain vividness or feeling or security. Precision is therefore incompatible with doubt. I develop my proposal through close reading of arguments in On the Soul 3.3 and Nicomachean Ethics 3.3 and 7.3 that implicate cognitive precision, then apply it to a novel reading of Aristotle’s account of first principles in Posterior Analytics 2.19. Aristotle does not, contrary to consensus, repeat his supposed account of cognitive development three times. The text running 99b35-100a3 precedes the account and is taxonomic. This means that, by the time we get to the "developmental" accounts, Aristotle has bracketed as irrelevant all non-human animals and their cognitive limitations. The remaining accounts are therefore meant to apply only to a rational soul, one whose perceptual experience is already structured in uniquely human ways. This leads to my second proposal: these latter two accounts do not, contrary to consensus, concern either cognitive development or a dawning awareness of universal content. They concern instead an epistemic development from token perceptions, which have very little power to remove doubt on matters of first principle, to comprehension (nous), the sort of grasp that can settle those questions and enable demonstrative understanding.
Reasons as Explanations
Meredith McFadden, University of California, Riverside
The standard view of reasons for action is that they count in favor of an action by highlighting the good there is in performing it. This view is commonly called the guise of the good thesis. Attempts to reject this view have been hindered by focusing too much on interpreting counterexamples, or on gesturing towards alternatives without filling out an alternative relation between reasons and action. Here I make good on the most promising alternative to the standard view of reasons for action, which suggests that reasons “make sense of” actions, or “render actions intelligible”; in short, practical reasons are fundamentally explanatory. In this paper I apply Bas van Fraassen’s pragmatic theory of explanation to the practical domain to show how we can understand reasons for action in terms of explanation.
The Priority in Being of Actuality to Potentiality in Metaphysics Theta 8
Katherine Meadows, Stanford University
Aristotle’s argument for the priority in being of actuality to potentiality in Metaphysics Theta 8 appears to employ two distinct criteria for priority in being, one of which he uses to argue that perishable actualities (like adult humans) are prior in being to their correlated potentialities (like children) and the other of which he uses to argue that eternal actualities are prior in being to perishable things. An important challenge to such a reading, however, is that it threatens to undermine the argumentative unity of the passage as a whole. In this paper, I’ll argue that Aristotle does in fact use two criteria for priority in being in this passage. In particular, I’ll argue that the first criterion is teleological. This reading, I’ll argue, makes it difficult to see how the two criteria could be identical, but also suggests a way to respond to the unity objection.
Immediate Justification and the Premise Principle
Damian Melamedoff, University of Toronto
The claim that perceptual justification is immediate is the claim that perceptual experiences are sufficient to justify some beliefs. Foundationalists have often appealed to such a claim in their accounts of justification. An early challenge to foundationalism came from the Premise Principle: in order for a mental state to be a justifier, it must be able to provide a premise. An appealing line of reply to this objection is to accept the premise principle, and claim that perceptual experiences can provide us with premises. This is the view I wish to challenge. In this paper, I argue that combining the immediacy of justification with the Premise Principle makes it very hard to account for common cases of justificatory defeat. I argue that the only way to account for the undermining of perceptual justification on this model is to accept a disjunctivist view of the contents of perception.
Rethinking Skepticism about Moral Overridingness
Shane Melnitzer, University of Colorado Boulder
Moral overridingness is the view that right action, or morally required action, is all things considered required. Once popular, today the thesis is often thought too demanding to be true. Still, the major philosophical arguments substantiating the demandingness objection, those proposing counterexamples to moral overridingness, are themselves quite controversial. In this paper, after overviewing concerns with putative counterexamples, I will provide several arguments in favor of the view. First, I will argue that the tendency to discount motive in explaining the actions of vicious agents makes sense only if moral overridingness is true. Next I will argue that rejecting moral overridingness commits one to an implausible view of deliberation, and will claim that unless moral requirements are silencing, undercutting the normative force of countervailing considerations, reasons are themselves absurd. I conclude by showing how my arguments may be reformulated as inferences to the best explanation, avoiding the concerns vitiating counterexamples.
The Basic Structure as the Subject of Justice
Kristina Meshelski, California State University, Northridge
Rawls argued that our concern for justice should be restricted to what he called the basic structure. Rawls never offered a fully satisfactory justification for why we should restrict our concern for justice in this way. Further, it has been argued that restricting our concern for justice is contrary to the feminist slogan "the personal is political" because it allows individuals to be free from the burden of acting justly in the interest of their freedom. I argue that if we understand the basic structure as a distribution of benefits and burdens, then this focus on the basic structure is in fact compatible with the idea expressed in the famous slogan. This is a possible reading of Rawls’s intent that has so far been underexplored in the literature.
Compunction, Buck-Passing, and Moral Reasons
Dale Miller, Old Dominion University
In “'But It Would Be Wrong,’” Stephen Darwall advances a mixed view regarding “deontic buck-passing.” He holds that a wrong action’s “wrong-making features” are our reasons for reactive attitudes like blame; with respect to these reasons, the action’s wrongness “passes the buck” to these features. Yet the action’s being wrong is itself an additional reason for the agent not to do the action, Darwall contends, a “second-personal” moral reason. So with respect to reasons for action, the buck doesn’t get passed. But once we remember that compunction is one of the moral reactive attitudes, we can see that Darwall’s rationale for treating these two sorts of reasons differently is insufficient. And while giving up on deontic buck-passing altogether would require significant revisions to his second-personal account of morality, Darwall can easily adopt a thoroughgoing buck-passing, since a wrong action’s wrong-making features can be second-personal reasons not to do it.
On the Concept of Organism in Biology: A Step toward a Biologically-Grounded Ethical Naturalism
Parisa Moosavi, University of Toronto
Aristotelian ethical naturalists hold that our moral judgments are on a par with teleological judgments about biological organisms. Although they claim to be naturalists and they make assumptions about biological organisms, Aristotelian naturalists hardly ever concern themselves with the science of biology. In fact, critics have argued that their notion of natural teleology is inconsistent with evolutionary biology. One line of response to this objection has been that the Aristotelian conception of organisms has to be presupposed in evolutionary biology as long as organisms are the subjects of evolutionary explanation. In this paper, I examine this response by looking at the concept of organism in modern evolutionary biology. I first argue that the Modern Synthesis theory of evolution, which understands evolution as change in gene frequencies within a population, does not presuppose the concept of an organism. I then explore an alternative view of evolution that has emerged in the past twenty years from advances in evolutionary developmental biology. I argue that the so called ‘evo-devo’ approach makes room for a naturalistic notion of organism. Moreover, I argue that although the explanatory role of the notion of organism in evolutionary biology is still contentious, the well-established role of this notion in developmental biology is enough to secure its naturalistic status.
Aristotelian Pleasures in the Nicomachean Ethics: Transforming the Platonic Distinction Between Impure and Pure Pleasures
Georgia Mouroutsou, Western University
My concern will be to show that Aristotle agrees with the fundamental distinction which Plato draws between two types of pleasure, the impure and pure ones. For, Aristotle replaces this Platonic distinction with a better one, his own distinction between incidental and simple pleasures, and perfects the analysis of both Platonic types of pleasures. I will analyse some passages from NEVII, which concern Aristotle’s distinction into incidental pleasures, on the one hand, and unqualified pleasures, on the other, and expose the aspects, which both Plato’s and Aristotle’s distinction of two types of fundamentally different pleasures share. If great philosophers are those who know how to listen to others’ views, even if they do not decide to follow those views, then Aristotle has exhibited greatness when it comes to this Platonic distinction and becomes “his own man” by and not after listening to and understanding the motivation for other views.
Plural Voting for the Twenty-first Century
Thomas Mulligan, Georgetown University
John Stuart Mill famously proposed a system of plural voting, under which all (eligible) citizens get a vote, and some citizens, owing to their superior education, get more than one. Now, as we grapple with widespread voter ignorance and biases within the electorate, like racism, that affect electorate outcomes, it is worth revisiting Mill's proposal. I argue that a plural voting system similar to the one Mill proposed is indeed likely to be optimal when it comes to making political decisions. Once we accept that some voters are more likely than others to be correct about political matters, theory tells us that the optimal way for our polity to make decisions is to weigh each citizen's vote proportional to the logarithm of the odds that it is correct and then apply majority rule. Relying on this theory, I propose a plural voting system to guide our politics in the twenty-first century.
The Rationalities of Emotion
Cecilea Mun, St. Mary's College of Maryland
Consistent with what seems to be common parlance, philosophers like Amélie O. Rorty and Jesse J. Prinz have argued that emotions are not, strictly speaking, rational in-themselves. I argue that emotions can be understood not only as being rational in-themselves, i.e., intrinsically rational, strictly speaking, but also as being instrumentally rational, epistemically rational, and evaluatively rational. I conclude with a brief discussion of the implications of my arguments on knowledge, and how we understand the rationality of infants, some people with disabilities, and emotional animals.
Kant on the Act of Judging
Alexandra Newton, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
In this paper, I consider two approaches to Kant’s formal-logical explanation of the act of judging. According to the analytic approach, this act must be understood as one of analysis, or of subordination of lower representations under higher ones. According to the synthetic approach, it is an act of synthesis that also reflects on itself (through analysis). I show how the analytic approach commits Kant to a distinction between the act of bringing representations together in a thought (or propositional unity) and the act of judgment or assertion. I argue that the synthetic approach, which does not commit Kant to this distinction, is more in line with his Copernican project in theoretical philosophy.
Non-realism in Metanormativity, Disagreement, and Commitments to Universal Principles of Action
Carlos Nunez, Stanford University
I argue that, in order to account for for inconsistency between judgments and disagreement between judges, Expressivist, Contextualist, and Relativist theories in meta-normativity should appeal to intention-like states (“practical commitments”) that take as contents universal principles of action.
Deontological Evidentialism and the Principle that Ought Implies Can
Luis Oliveira, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Deontological evidentialism is the claim that S ought to form or maintain S's beliefs in accordance with S's evidence. One promising argument for this view turns on the premise that consideration c is a normative reason for S to form or maintain a belief that p only if c is evidence that p is true. In this paper, I discuss the relation between a recent argument for this key premise—offered separately by Nishi Shah (2006) and Ward E. Jones (2009)—and the principle that "ought" implies "can." I argue that anyone who antecendently accepts or rejects this principle already has a reason to resist either this argument's premises or its role in support of deontological evidentialism.
The Anatomy of Envy-Freeness
Kristi Olson, Bowdoin College
Imagine a distribution of cake in which neither individual prefers the other slice. Such a distribution of cake is envy-free. It is also generally taken to be fair. But is it fair because it is envy-free? In this paper, I argue that envy-freeness does indeed capture something important about fairness but not what proponents of envy-freeness think it captures. In particular, what makes an envy-free distribution fair (when it is fair), I claim, is that we are able to see ourselves as equal participants in a cooperative scheme. But if this is what is important about envy-freeness, then instead of minimizing envy in those scenarios in which envy-free distributions are impossible, we should satisfy a different criterion, what I will call cooperation-compatible bundling. As we will see, this has important implications for fair distributions when envy-free distributions are impossible—most notably, the distribution of income among individuals with differential talents.
The Biological Reality of Race Does Not Underwrite the Social Reality of Race: A Response to Spencer
Kamuran Osmanoglu, University of Kansas
Quayshawn Spencer (2014) defends the biological reality of ‘race’. He argues that ‘race’ as used in the current US racial discourse picks out a biologically real entity. First, Spencer says that the current US census classification yields five different races. Second, he argues that recent human population genetic research also yields an interesting level of genetic clustering at the K=5 level. Thus, he contends that the current US racial discourse matches nicely with recent genetic population clustering results. Therefore, he argues that ‘race’, in its US meaning, picks out a biologically real entity. However, we argue that Spencer’s argument does not succeed to prove that ‘race’ is a biologically real entity in a broader sense. Moreover, this broader sense of ‘race’ is much more interesting than the US sense, and does much better justice to the social reality of universal race discourse. Furthermore, there are internal worries with Spencer’s argument.
Special Duties, Theory Choice, and Consequentialism
James Otis, University of Rochester
Consequentialism faces a well-known problem of special duties. Common sense tells us we have special duties while consequentialism, at best, struggles to account for them. Here I lay out the problem of special duties and extract from it three criteria for normative theory choice. After assessing various extant formulations of consequentialism, I suggest a combination of the structure of rule consequentialism and a eudaimonistic theory of the right may be able to capture common sense morality and dissolve the problem of special duties.
Do Narratives Have a Unique Explanatory Power?
Prach Panchakunathorn, University of Toronto
J. David Velleman has claimed that narratives have a unique kind of explanatory power. This claim implies that a narrative cannot be reduced to any non-narrative discourse without losing some explanatory power. In this paper I argue against Velleman's claim. I agree with Velleman that some narratives do give us "emotional understanding" of events. But I think this understanding is best understood as the understanding of what the events told in a discourse are supposed to feel to the typical audience. This understanding, I argue, can be given by non-narrative discourses.
What's In a Name: A Response to Ramsey
Andrew Parisi, University of Connecticut
In his 1925 paper `Universals', Ramsey argued that there is no distinctive contribution that names or predicates make to a sentence. This paper explores three responses that have been given to Ramsey's claim. The first from Dummett, the second from Geach, and the last from Brandom. Each view, it is argued, has something useful to offer, but none can effectively account for the distinctive contribution that names make to sentences in which they occur. This paper ultimately offers an explanation of that contribution that avoids the pitfalls of all the other views. Ultimately, taking a cue from Geach and Dummett, this paper argues that the Aristotelian account wherein predicates have contraries but names do not is correct. It then traces the presence of names in our language to the fact that our language contains also relation-terms and the structural rules of identity, contraction, and cut.
Be Not Afraid: Reclassifying Fear as Vice
Tyler Paytas, University of Stuttgart
Most contemporary virtue theorists hold that the disposition to fear is neither virtue nor vice; fear is a natural response, and what matters is one’s ability to surmount it. I seek to challenge this common view. I claim the time has come to recognize, as the Stoics did, that fearfulness is a vice. At first blush, the disposition to fear does not seem vicious because prototypical vices are traits that reflect selfish or malevolent values. However, some traits are vicious because they make it difficult to implement one’s values (e.g. imprudence, incontinence, etc.). The disposition to fear is a structural vice because it puts us at significant risk of acting contrary to our values. To overcome one’s fear for the sake of one’s values is not an act of courage, but rather one of fortitude. Genuine courage is facing danger for the sake of one’s values without experiencing fear.
Might Debunking Rest on a Linguistic Mistake?
Caleb Perl, University of Southern California
Some philosophers take evolutionary explanation of moral belief to undermine its epistemic status. But there is a perspective on deontic knowledge that makes this challenge very puzzling. You know you ought to keep this promise as long as you know that it's a promise, and as long as you know that nothing undercuts the significance of its being a promise. Does evolution prevent us from knowing when a promise is a promise? Or does it prevent us from knowing whether there are lives we could save if we break the promise? If it doesn't, the evolutionary challenge misfires. This paper outlines a novel defense of this minimalist picture, a defense that builds from a linguistic claim about the structure of deontic judgment. The goal, then, is to give an unfamiliar defense of a familiar idea.
The Ethics of Cost-Effectiveness: How Organ Transplantation Costs Lives
Govind Persad, Georgetown University
This essay questions the desirability of increased organ procurement. It makes the case that increasing organ procurement, rather than “saving lives”—is (to paraphrase Janet Radcliffe-Richards) an example of how “hasty action costs lives.” This is because expanding the procurement and transplant of organs diverts funding toward a less cost-effective intervention, namely transplantation, and thereby away from more cost-effective medical interventions. Our unwillingness to expand organ procurement is therefore saving rather than costing lives, whereas the availability of more organs would worsen already cost-ineffective medical practices. Rather than pushing against widely held norms in an effort to expand organ procurement, medical ethicists and healthcare policymakers would do better to focus their efforts on expanding access to interventions that are much less controversial and much more cost-effective.
Doxastic Options and the Viability of Epistemic Utility Theory
John Phillips, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Practitioners of epistemic utility theory, such as Richard Pettigrew (2016), seek to adapt the tools of decision theory to establish general criteria of epistemic rationality. But decision theory requires as one of its inputs a set of options among which a choice is to be made, and I argue that EUT practitioners lack an adequate theory of what it is for some doxastic state to be an option in the relevant sense. Instead, EUT practitioners typically assume that any doxastic state is an option for any agent. I argue that this view commits EUT practitioners to implausibly demanding criteria for epistemic rationality, more demanding than they themselves recognize. A more sophisticated theory of doxastic options may allow the project of EUT to move forward, but also renders many existing implementations of EUT inadequate.
‘Because I Said So’: Trust as a Second-Personal, Theoretical Attitude
Juan Pineros, Yale University
Stephen Darwall has argued that second-personal normativity drives a wedge between practical and theoretical rationality: whereas it plays a fundamental role in some areas of the practical domain, it can play at most a subordinate role in the theoretical one. Against this, I argue that second-personal normativity plays as fundamental a role in some areas of the theoretical domain. My central argument is based on an analysis of what I call relationships of ‘expectational trust’, where a person asks us to believe they will do something that is in their power. Such relations, I argue, can give rise to reasons that are theoretical and fundamentally second-personal. The result is a picture of theoretical rationality that allows for the kinds of rich second-personal relations that authors like Darwall and Michael Thompson have argued are present in the practical domain, a picture that deepens our understanding of attitudes like trust.
Mother, Mother, I Want Another: Reexamining Reproduction
Monika Piotrowska, University at Albany
Sexual and asexual reproduction were, until recently, considered the only two ways organisms could reproduce. New technologies challenge this assumption by making alternative modes of reproduction possible. The concept of death faced a similar challenge in the middle of the 20th century. Prior to the 1960s, an individual was dead when his or her heart stopped beating. But when technological advancements allowed the heart to beat long after the brain ceased functioning, it was no longer clear whether death occurred with the cessation of heart function or brain function. As a result, death—a seemingly biological notion—came to be widely accepted as a concept in need of philosophical investigation. By drawing an analogy between the evolution of 'death' and 'reproduction,' I will argue that what it means to reproduce cannot be settled by looking at biological facts, but, instead, will require philosophical analysis.
Middle Virtue: Accurate "Poetry" in Republic X
Daniel Propson, Oakland University
An underappreciated aspect of the tenth book of the Republic is its discussion of a type of virtue that lies in between genuine virtue and the virtue depicted in imitative poetry. This “intermediate” virtue is the type of virtue that is formed by the legislator’s crafting of correct moral beliefs in the souls of the citizen. When we compare Republic X with a set of passages from the Cratylus, we find that the latter dialogue envisions a remarkably similar notion of the establishment of correct beliefs, though this time in the context of words, not virtues. In this paper, I use the comparison between the two dialogues to argue that intermediate virtues should be understood as linguistic in nature. The virtue of the ordinary citizen is the virtue of understanding what sorts of actions the virtue words apply to, and acting in accordance with the beliefs inscribed in those words.
Wishing and Hoping and Living and Dying
Michael Rabenberg, Harvard University
Philosophers often impute to Lucretius this observation: Although many persons have some “thumbs-down” attitudes toward their posthumous nonexistence (e.g., fear, dislike, belief that posthumous nonexistence is bad), no one seems to have such attitudes toward her pre-generation nonexistence. Lucretius’ Puzzle is the question whether this attitudinal asymmetry is rationally justified. Elizabeth Harman suggests that we should understand Lucretius’ Puzzle as this question in particular: “Why is it that we typically wish that our deaths would be later than they actually will be but typically lack a wish that we had come into existence some amount of time before we actually did?” Harman thinks that this version of the Puzzle is easily solved. In this paper, I give Lucretius a harder puzzle than Harman’s version, though one in the spirit of Harman’s version. I then propose a solution to the Harder Puzzle that exploits a distinction between wishing-that and hoping-that.
Joshua Rayman, University of South Florida
Despite Žižek’s privileging of politics over ethics, it is possible to reconstruct from his work a very significant, thoroughgoing reconception of ethics and metaethics. He sets forth accounts of the nature of ethics, action, freedom, the supreme moral principle, the fact-value split, the relation of the self to others, and the values that should determine our actions. He expresses a Kantian/Lacanian notion of law and freedom, an Hegelian critique of the subject-object distinction, a Lacanian subversion of the fact-value split, and an Adornian quasi-formalist treatment of ethical imperatives. The most radical element within his ethics is arguably his notion of the passage à l’acte, according to which certain types of actions not only transgress extant norms, but challenge the very nature of the norms, transform the coordinates of the reality principle, and bring into being its conditions of value.
Philosophy of the City: Reading the World Through Siegfried Kracauer’s Urban Sketches
Summer Renault-Steele, LeMoyne College
As Theodor W. Adorno reminisced in 1964, Siegfried Kracauer read philosophy as a “coded text from which the historical situation of spirit could be read…he showed me how the objective-ontological and subjective-idealist moments warred within [the text], how the more eloquent passages in the work are the wounds this conflict has left in the theory.” However, Kracauer did not reserve this reading for philosophical tomes. As evidenced in close to two thousand articles published between 1921 and 1933 in the Frankfurter Zeitung, he sought out similar fissures as they bubbled up in urban culture. Just as he treated Kant’s first Critique as a hieroglyph of its historical situation, so he treated the train, the hotel lobby, the underpass, the unemployment office, and the movie theater. Drawing upon key examples from Kracauer’s urban sketches in the Zeitung, I suggest he effectively developed a heuristic for the philosophical reading of the city.
Sex, Deception, and Will
Nicholas Rimell, University of Virginia
Imagine that someone deceives another person into sex but that the deception has to do with something generally considered to be relatively unimportant—e.g., one’s natural hair color. Conventional wisdom holds that—while the deceiver has done something wrong – what she or he has done is only a minor wrong. Tom Dougherty has recently argued for a claim that implies, among other things, that this bit of conventional wisdom is mistaken. Dougherty’s claim is that deceiving someone into sex is, in every case, seriously wrong. In this paper I argue, first, that Dougherty’s claim is false but, second, that we should nonetheless reject the above bit of conventional wisdom.
Capitalizing on Illusory Experiences
Tom Rosenhagen, University of Pittsburgh
Here are two presuppositions: first, and uncontroversially, perceptual judgments and actions downstream from perceptual experience can vary in rationality. Second, their rationality is due, at least partly, to perceptual experience. The latter raises the question how to understand the rational contribution of experience? In this paper, I raise a challenge for the view that the rational contribution of experience is due to its content. According to that challenge, when we try to accommodate the rational role of experience, in certain cases, the putative content of experience seems to do no work. This suggests that the notion of content might be expendable.
The Ontological Status of the Affects in Spinoza's "Ethics"
Avraham Rot, Johns Hopkins University
I examine the relation between two kinds of ontological relations that hold together the building blocks of Spinoza’s metaphysics: “being in” and “affection of.” I argue that in order to speak of existence in a univocal manner, Spinoza equivocates on the notion of affection. Whereas substance is in itself in the same sense in which everything that exists is in substance, substance is not in any sense an affection of itself; and the affections of the affections of substance, such as the human affects, cannot be considered as direct affections of substance but only as affections of modes. This is why Spinoza’s “God is without passions, and is not affected with any affect of joy or sadness” (Ethics 5p17).
Entitlement to Reasons for Action
Abraham Roth, Ohio State University
Intentional action is traditionally understood in terms of reasons explanation. I contend that on occasion one’s entitlement to certain reasons had by someone else allows for those reasons to figure in the intentional description of what one does. Entitlement secures for those reasons an explanatory role they otherwise would lack. Normally, the reasons for which I act are my reasons; I represent goal states and the means to attaining them, and these reasons guide me in action. If I haven’t yet taken up your reason and made it mine by representing it for myself, then it may seem mysterious how it explains my action. Nevertheless, I argue that sometimes what one does should be explained this way. Part of my case will bring to the fore aspects of the interplay between reasons and intentions in the individual case that have not received the attention they deserve. The explicit representation of reasons that go into deciding and intending to phi don’t necessarily stick around when I eventually act on the intention. But since I am entitled to those reasons, when I phi, I phi for those reasons: they play a normative guiding role, setting a standard for success and regulating performance. One might resist the talk of entitlement by trying to invoke as reasons considerations that are more directly accessible to the agent at the time of action. But I argue that this approach does not get right the reason that makes sense of what the agent is up to. It also confuses reasons for action with considerations that rebut potential defeaters for various rational resources upon which the agent is relying. I close by exploring the limits of entitlement. I formulate an instrumental hypothesis about the reasons one might be entitled to, and consider how defeaters can undermine entitlement.
Actions under Development
Devlin Russell, University of Toronto
In this paper, I look at one major problem for Michael Thompson’s account of rationalization. According to a standard interpretation of this account, to intend to do B is to be doing B. Thus, to do A with the intention to do B will straightforwardly involve doing B, and from here it is a short step to the claim that to do A with the intention to do B is simply to do A as a part or phase of doing B. This account is not promising because one can intend to do B while merely preparing to do B. I propose a novel way to extend Thompson’s account, according to which an intention is an action under development. This ‘developmental’ account, I shall argue, has the resources to solve the preparation problem. Roughly, in the relevant cases, one’s action under development is immature or underdeveloped.
The Intentionality of Self-Deception
Kateryna Samoilova, Eberhard Karls Universitat Tubingen
One of the issues in the debate concerning the nature of self-deception is whether it involves intention. The classical accounts of self-deception, such as Davidson’s, construe self-deception as involving intention. However, in light of the paradoxes of classical intentionalism, it is currently much more common to defend non-intentional accounts of self-deception. In this paper, I argue that even if we accept the full force of the paradoxes, there is still room for a version of intentionalism that is both unproblematic and independently motivated. Therefore, intentionalism should still be considered a viable view of self-deception, one that cannot be ruled out simply by pointing to the paradoxes of classical intentionalism.
Justin Shaddock, Williams College
Does Kant admit non-conceptual contents in our perceptual experiences? This question is crucial for interpreting his philosophy of mind and theory of knowledge, and it has been the subject of much recent debate. The contents of our experiences are intuitions, for Kant. Conceptualist interpreters agree that, according to Kant’s Deduction, intuitions require concepts for their spatiality and temporality. But conceptualists disagree as to why. Interpreters cite the singularity, unity, infinity, or homogeneity of space and time. Yet, according to Kant’s Aesthetic, these features qualify space and time as intuitions, not concepts. I present a novel conceptualist interpretation by identifying a different feature. On my interpretation, our intuitions of space and time ground the objectivity of our geometrical and mechanical judgments, respectively. I explain the broader significance of this result in the context of Kant’s hylomorphism.
Aquinas on Change
Matthew Siebert, University of Toronto
Anthony Kenny (among others) claims that Aquinas’ argument from motion has the same major fault as Aristotle’s Physics argument, namely, that an argument from physical change at best proves the existence of some immaterial being, not a god. But Kenny has not noticed that in De Substantiis Separatis Aquinas himself criticizes Aristotle’s argument in much the same way. I argue that Aquinas uses the term motus very differently from how Kenny supposes, and I show that this usage has significant implications for Aquinas’ discussions of many topics including intellection and volition.
Hat-Hanging is not Moral Enhancement
William Simkulet, Cleveland State University
Recently philosophers have proposed a wide variety of interventions referred to as "moral enhancement." Some interventions are concerned with helping individuals make more informed decisions, which they hope will result in more desirable behavior; however others have proposed interventions designed to compel others to act as they see fit. Somewhere between these two extremes lie interventions designed to direct an agent's attention either towards morally relevant issues—hat-hanging—or away from temptations to do wrong—hat-hiding. I argue these interventions fail to constitute genuine moral enhancement because although they may, in fact, result in more desirable outcomes—more altruism, more law-following, and/or less self-destructive behavior—they ignore a person's intentions, and often times what makes an action right or wrong is the intent behind it.
Are Epistemic Standards Arbitrary?
Julia Smith, University of Toronto
To what extent is rationality permissive? Impermissivists argue that there is a unique doxastic attitude that must be taken towards some hypothesis P on the basis of a total body of evidence E, in order for one to be rational. Permissivists argue the opposite—that there are some cases in which there is more than one doxastic attitude that it is rational to take towards P on the basis of E. The strongest argument for impermissivism is the arbitrariness objection: whether the permissivist believes P or ~P is arbitrary, since she recognizes that both beliefs are equally rational. Schoenfield (2013) develops a reply to the arbitrariness objection according to which rational differences concerning P are due to different individuals holding different rational epistemic standards. I argue that Schoenfield’s reply to arbitrariness is inadequate, and attempt to provide a better response within the epistemic standards framework.
A Novel Approach to the Phenomenal Overflow Thesis
Sean Smith, University of Toronto
In this paper I consider the phenomenal overflow thesis, the claim that the content of phenomenally conscious mental states can exceed the capacities of cognitive access. More specifically, the view is that we can have experiences that either cannot be, or at least, are not used by working memory or serve as input for intentional action, inference, or speech. The evidence often cited in support of this thesis comes from Sperling partial report experiments. I argue that such evidence cannot count decisively in favor or against the phenomenal overflow thesis. I then consider an alternative form of evidence from the affective neurosciences and pediatric neurology concerning anencephaly (a disorder where some human beings and animals are born without either cerebral hemisphere). I conclude by proposing that there two forms of access consciousness, cognitive access and affective access and that phenomenal consciousness overflows the former but not the latter.
Kant on Pure and Applied Mathematics
Daniel Sutherland, University of Illinois at Chicago
Kant on Pure and Applied Mathematics A resurgence of interest in Kant’s philosophy of mathematics starting about 50 years ago greatly improved our understanding of Kant’s pure mathematics. The same period saw great progress in our understanding Kant’s philosophy of science and in particular Kant’s engagement with Newtonian physics. Relatively little attention has been given to the connection between the foundation of Kant’s pure mathematics and its application in the sciences. The section of the Critique of Pure Reason called “Axioms of Intuition” argues for the principle that all appearances are extensive magnitudes. In Kant’s view, appearances do not simply have magnitudes in the sense of numerical measures assigned to them; rather, they are magnitudes. The Axioms of Intuition ends by claiming “it is this [principle] alone that makes pure mathematics in its complete precision applicable to objects of experience.” Close examination, however, reveals that the principle is not sufficient to explain pure mathematics, much less its applicability, for it only concerns the mereological properties of magnitudes and their mereological composition. This leaves a gap between a mereological account of magnitudes, on the one hand, and pure mathematics on the other, which is rooted in a richer, mathematical conception of magnitudes. I argue that in Kant’s view the relation of equality bridges the gap and that, when it is added to the mereological account of magnitudes, yields is a pure general theory of measurement. The pure general theory of measurement provides a foundation for Kant’s account of pure mathematics and at the same time intimately ties it to its applications.
Reducing Constitution to Composition
Catherine Sutton, Virginia Commonwealth University
I argue that constitution is a case of proper parthood. In other words, we can reduce constitution to composition—composition does all of the work that we want from an account of constitution. I examine two competing models of what this would look like: (1) mutual proper parthood in which the statue is a proper part of the lump and vice-versa and (2) asymmetric proper parthood in which the lump is a proper part of the statue but the statue is not a proper part of the lump. Along the way, I show that contrary to traditional mereology, proper parthood is not transitive, and I offer a new account of asymmetric constitution.
The Role of Meta-Volition in Peter John Olivi's Account of Free Will
Michael Szlachta, University of Toronto
In the voluntarist tradition, Peter John Olivi (c.1248–1298) stands out for having argued that the exercise of free will requires not only that the will move itself to the act of willing, but also that it have the ability to form a meta-volition, that is, to will that act of willing. Unfortunately, he does not explain what role the ability to form a meta-volition is supposed to have in willing freely. In this paper, I show how meta-volition fits into Olivi’s account of free will and argue that there is good textual evidence for thinking that the potential for this sort of meta-activity is related to ownership of one’s activity. This view, I argue, shares some features with the position Harry Frankfurt develops in “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.”
Beware of Schools Bearing Gifts: Miseducation and Trojan Horse Propaganda
Olufemi O. Taiwo, University of California, Los Angeles
During an interview about the crisis in Ferguson, MO after the killing of 18-year old Michael Brown, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani disappointment about what was not being discussed: the “fact that 93% of Blacks in America are killed by other Blacks”1. Despite the accuracy and relevance of this statistic, I contend that this statement still served as a kind of propaganda, but one not clearly identifiable as such given the method of investigating propaganda recently offered by Jason Stanley. Using Carter G. Woodson’s The Mis-Education of the Negro, I’ll define a system of miseducation and a derivative class of propaganda (Trojan horses). I’ll argue that these fill the gap in Stanley’s account and render an account of ideology unnecessary for further progress towards a satisfactory account of propaganda.
From Belief to Commitment
Nicholas Tebben, Towson University
To be committed to the truth of a proposition is to constrain one’s options in a certain way: one may not reason as if it is false, and one is obligated to reason as if it is true. Though one is often committed to the truth of the propositions that one believes, the states of belief and commitment are distinct. For historical reasons, however, they are rarely distinguished. This has proven to be detrimental to epistemology, as there are substantial theoretical gains to be had by distinguishing them. In particular, it allows for the resolution of disputes between naturalists and non-naturalists about the role of metacognition in knowledge, and it resolves a puzzle about doxastic voluntarism and epistemic deontology.
Rescuing Socialism: Joint Action and the Camping Trip
Jonathan Thakkar, Princeton University
This paper treats socialism as a normative ideal that is multiply realizable at the policy level, so that criticisms of policies like state ownership will not touch the ideal itself. The question then becomes whether it is in fact possible to specify an ideal that is purely normative while nonetheless being distinctively and recognizably socialist. I begin by exploring G. A. Cohen’s attempt to meet that challenge in Why Not Socialism? What distinguishes socialism from left-liberalism on Cohen’s account is above all its emphasis on “communal” or “express” reciprocity, whereby “I serve you not because of what I can get in return by doing so but because you need or want my service, and you, for the same reason, serve me.” This is distinguished from “implicit” reciprocity, whereby we serve one another indirectly, via background institutions. According to Cohen the trouble with implicit reciprocity—and hence left-liberalism—is that it permits maximizing behaviour, and maximizing behaviour is inimical to community. Having shown that Cohen fails to justify the view, I offer a different way of arguing for the value of express reciprocity (and hence socialism). I draw on Margaret Gilbert’s account of joint action, according to which certain rights and responsibilities are internal to joint action and a function of it, in order to recast Cohen’s camping trip example, showing that each member of a camping trip would have standing to demand express reciprocity of the rest. The question is whether this transfers to society at large. I argue that it does, albeit with an important modification: the thesis is no longer that citizens should always engage in express reciprocity, but rather that they must treat express reciprocity as the default position in economic life, that to which they return in cases of uncertainty.
Metaphysical Disputes and Metalinguistic Negotiation
Amie Thomasson, University of Miami
Deflationary metaontological views—including the verbal disputes view and the easy ontology view—are often thought to face a common problem: that they cannot charitably make sense of what disputing ontologists are doing. For the verbal disputes view has them uttering trivial truths, while the easy ontologist treats one as uttering an obvious truth and the other an obvious falsehood. I argue that this criticism may be addressed by attending to pragmatics—we can make sense of what disputants in many metaphysical debates are doing, by appealing to the idea of ‘metalinguistic negotiation’. Such disputants may be uttering trivial truths or falsehoods as a way of pragmatically advocating for views about how our terms should be used, or whether they should be used at all. The resulting view preserves the epistemic advantages of deflationism while giving a better account of the depth and importance of many debates in metaphysics.
Formal Proper Parts Through Strong Supplementation: A Reply to Bennett
Christopher Tomaszewski, Baylor University
Bennett rejects a key premise in Koslicki’s argument for formal parts according to which the material ingredient out of which a complex object is made is a proper part of that object. Koslicki defends this premise with a principle motivated by its power to explain three important phenomena of material composition. But these phenomena can be equally well explained by a weaker principle that doesn’t support the questioned premise in Koslicki’s argument, Bennett argues. I show that Bennett’s principle, together with an appropriate strengthening of a different premise in Koslicki’s original argument, still entails the existence of formal parts.
Transcendental Philosophy as Phenomenological Ontology: Heidegger’s Phenomenological Interpretation of Kant’s ‘Transcendental Analytic’
Simon Truwant, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
In Phenomenological Interpretation of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, Heidegger claims that “Kant took an essential step in the direction of a fundamental elucidation of the concept and method of philosophy”(PIK6). This suggests that Heidegger advocated both an ‘ontological’ and ‘phenomenological interpretation’ of the first Critique. Focusing on the lesser known phenomenological aspect, this paper argues that Heidegger indeed recognizes his own method in Kant’s thought. First, Heidegger sees the mutual dependence that §7 of Being and Time established between ontology and phenomenology reflected in the connection between Kant’s transcendental project and critical investigation of reason. Second, he recognizes his own conception of (ontological) phenomenology in Kant’s idea of a ‘transcendental analytic’. Third, according to Heidegger, Kant effectively proceeds in a phenomenological manner—analyzing the essential moments of intentionality or ‘transcendence’—in the crucial parts of the Transcendental Analytic: the transcendental deduction and the account of transcendental imagination.
Contract, Power, and the Value of Donative Promises
Sabine Tsuruda, University of California, Los Angeles
In U.S. contract law, donative promises are typically unenforceable. My aim in this paper is to challenge and complicate this doctrinal position. I begin by arguing that power imbalances often arise from donative promises of goods (or money) to individuals. Such power imbalances leave promisees vulnerable to manipulation and under pressure to conform to donor-promisor values. I argue that contractualizing the promise—and hence transferring legal power over the gift from promisor to promisee—could repair that power imbalance and reinforce the authenticity of donative promissory relationships. But donative promises are not homogenous. I explain that the considerations that count in favor of contractualizing donative promises to individuals do not easily extend to commitments to volunteer one’s labor. Not only is the power imbalance often the reverse in the latter case, but applicable contract principles of perfect performance and nondiscrimination are in tension with voluntary work’s potential for inclusivity and for engagement with values that may not appropriately be expressed in the paid workplace.
A Defense of Transracialism
Rebecca Tuvel, Rhodes College
In this paper, I take up the case of former NAACP chapter head Rachel Dolezal and her transition from a white to black racial identity. This case gained popularity at the same time that Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner graced the cover of Vanity Fair, signaling a growing acceptance of transgender identity. Yet criticisms of Dolezal for misrepresenting her true race indicate a widespread social perception that it is neither possible nor permissible to change one’s race the way it might be to change one’s sex. Against this view, I suggest that the considerations that render transgenderism permissible apply to transracialism.
Locating the Soul: Origins of Leibniz’s Doctrine of Monads
Wilson Underkuffler, University of South Florida
In "Body, Substance, Monad" Daniel Garber argues that there is a significant difference between Leibniz’s “corporeal substance” metaphysics in the 1680s and monadological metaphysics in the 1700s. Garber argues that Leibniz is led to monads from “pressing the unity criterion of substancehood.” I want to develop Garber’s thesis by considering what motivated Leibniz pressed “the unity criterion of substancehood.” My suggestion is that Leibniz found the monadological metaphysics appealing because it is a conceptual framework that avoids having to locate a non-extended soul in an extended body, not only during life—but before birth, after death, and beyond division. In the paper I trace Leibniz’s repeated struggles in the 1670s and 1680s trying to locate the soul within a corporeal substance, and explain how Leibniz’s monadological metaphysics developed in the 1700s might overcome this inextricable difficulty.
Desert-Adjusted Utilitarianism, People, and Animals
Jean-Paul Vessel, New Mexico State University
Recent decades have witnessed a surge in philosophical attention to the moral standing of non-human animals (hereafter just 'animals') and whether many of our practices regarding animals are morally justifiable. Kantians, neo-Kantians, utilitarians, and radical animal rights theorists have staked their claims in the philosophical literature. Here I throw another player into the fray: Fred Feldman’s desert-adjusted utilitarianism. After briefly canvassing the prominent competitors in the dialectic, I develop an account of moral standing consonant with, and inspired by, desert-adjusted utilitarianism. Then I explore the account’s implications regarding the moral standing of people and animals. Some of these implications are surprising; others will likely be viewed as something akin to heretical. Ultimately, I argue that this new account of moral standing is sensitive to a wider range of morally relevant phenomena than its more prominent competitors and perhaps deserves to be perched atop the rest.
The Units of Temporal Perception
Gerardo Viera, University of British Columbia
In a recent paper, Christopher Peacocke argues that magnitude perception is unit-free. We may perceive that a tone has a particular duration, but our perceptual systems do not represent that duration by reference to any units. In this paper I argue that Peacocke is wrong about the nature of temporal perception. By drawing a comparison with the development of temporal measurement standards in scientific and social practices, I argue that the brain faces a very similar coordination problem to the ones that drove the development of measurement standards in society. It is by looking at how the brain integrates temporal information across the multitude of neural mechanisms that underlie our ability for temporal perception that we see that perceptual systems must unitize time in order to drive properly coordinated and coherent behavior.
Moral Worth and Right Reason
Benjamin Wald, University of Toronto
The motive of duty thesis holds that a necessary condition for moral worth is that the agent be motivated, at least in part, by a normative judgment about their action. In this paper, I defend the motive of duty thesis by presenting a case that alternative theories of moral worth, such as those offered by Markovits and Arpaly and Schroeder, cannot account for. In Part I, I show how the theories of moral worth proposed by Markovits and Arpaly and Schroeder successfully undermine one of the traditional motivations for the motive of duty thesis—the demand that morally worthy actions be non-accidentally right. In part II I propose an additional requirement on an account of moral worth that only the motive of duty thesis can capture; the requirement that the agent who performs a morally worthy action must recognize that the action is required, not merely optional.
Felon Disenfranchisement and Democratic Legitimacy
Matt Whitt, Duke University
Philosophers have long criticized policies that deny voting rights to convicted felons. However, some have recently turned to democratic theory to defend this practice. In their basic form, these new arguments maintain that democratic self-determination justifies felon disenfranchisement. Stronger versions claim that democratic self-determination actually requires disenfranchising felons. In this paper, I review these new arguments, acknowledge their force against existing criticism, and then offer a new critique of disenfranchisement that engages them on their own terms. Far from justifying felon disenfranchisement, I argue that fundamental democratic ideals motivate against this form of electoral exclusion. Using a modified version of democratic theory’s “all-subjected principle,” I argue that liberal democracies undermine their own legitimacy when they deny the vote to felons and prisoners. By barring adults governed by democratic law from the processes that generate, authorize, direct, and check that law, felon disenfranchisement undermines the legitimacy of democratic self-determination.
Emotional Actions without Emotional Goals
Isaac Wiegman, Texas State University–San Marcos
Philosophical theories of action are committed to goal-based models of motivation. These models hold that intentional actions are explainable solely by appeal to motivational states (in conjunction with informational states) that dispose agents to pursue some end under a goal representation. These theories founder on emotional actions (e.g., Hursthouse, 1991), which are impulsive and occur in the grip of emotion. So far, defenses of this style of explanation advert to a variety of different goals. I argue that these explanations fall short, because emotions can motivate action in the absence of any explicit goal representation. By contrast, some emotions represent distance from an unspecified end state, rather than representing the end itself. This requires a revision of philosophical conceptions of action, to encompass actions that have no explicit goal.
Disassociating Implicit Attitudes
Jessica Wright, University of Toronto
What is the difference between implicit and explicit attitudes? Philosophers and psychologists agree that there is a significant distinction but disagree sharply about how to characterize it. Here I tackle one of the leading proposals, Bertram Gawronski’s Associative-Propositional Model, which contrasts the two classes of attitude according to their origin in associative or propositional processes, respectively. I argue that Gawronski’s key evidence for his account of implicit attitudes does not in fact show that these attitudes have their origin in associative as opposed to propositional processes. I also present positive evidence that implicit attitudes originate in propositional processes. The upshot of this discussion is that understanding implicit attitudes as the result of associative as opposed to propositional processes misrepresents the nature of these attitudes. This research has repercussions for the ethics, philosophy, and psychology of attitudes, belief and bias.
Equilibrium and Transitivity in Causal Decision Theory
Tung-Ying Wu, University of Missouri
Causal decision is right. James Joyce defends it by supplementing causal decision with the maxim of Full Information, which requires an agent in the decision problem to take all freely available information into account when assessing the expected utilities of her options. However, Arif Ahmed criticizes Full Information by arguing that it violates the transitivity of preference in three cases. I show that Ahmed’s argument fails by applying the agent’s subjective probability updated by Full Information to all those cases. I conclude that causal decision supplemented with Full Information does not lead to non-transitivity on the basis of the agent’s updated credences required by Full Information.
The Challenge of Explaining Long-Term Change in Moral Judgments
Danielle Wylie, Mississippi State University
We seem to be able to change our minds about long-held moral judgments in a way that influences future judgments and behaviors. For instance, Barack Obama recently changed his stance on gay marriage (which may have been a political ploy, but the phenomenon is not completely outlandish). The purpose of this paper is to pose a challenge to those who purport to explain moral judgment: the challenge of using the resources of one’s own view to explain how long-term change might occur. I argue in a longer work that multiple views face trouble with this challenge, but in this paper, I focus on Jesse Prinz’s (2007) emotional construction view to illustrate how such a challenge might work. I argue that Prinz’s view requires surprising claims about accompanying emotional shifts or a lack thereof, and that his own response to this charge is not sufficient to address the challenge.
Normality: A Two-Faced Concept
Tomasz Wysocki, Washington University in St. Louis
How do people make normality judgments? On one hypothesis—the dual-nature hypothesis—normality judgments are sensitive to both the normative evaluation of the object and its frequency. On the competing hypothesis—the single-nature hypothesis—normality judgments are sensitive only to one feature of the object. This hypothesis comes in two versions. First, it’s possible that the term ‘normal’ has a purely statistical nature, and thus normality judgments reflect only how frequent the object is. Second, it’s possible that the term has a purely normative nature, and thus normality judgments reflect only the normative evaluation of the object. My aim is to present results of two experiments supporting the dual-nature hypothesis over the competing one. I also show how the dual-nature hypothesis helps interpret Hitchcock and Knobe’s account of causal judgments (2009), Egré and Cova’s (forth.) account of the semantics of many, and the is-ought problem in folk moral reasoning.