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Curious Virtues in Hume’s Epistemology
This paper explores Hume's relationship to skepticism — and, in particular, his relationship to the skeptical arguments outlined in Part 1.4 of the Treatise. Following recent work on these issues, I give a broadly non-skeptical interpretation of these passages. But this leaves us with the question of why Hume endorses such a response. I consider and criticize a popular answer to this question: the Practical Reading, according to which Hume's positive evaluation of some forms of reasoning at the close of Book 1 is based on purely practical grounds. Although I agree with one version of this interpretation that Hume's evaluation of his own reasoning in 1.4.7 has deep structural similarities with Humean moral evaluation, I argue that the former mode of evaluation is best thought of as concerned — not with narrowly practical considerations — but instead with a form of epistemic virtue. I then go on to outline the theory of epistemic virtue that I take to be implicit in Hume's account — one which focuses on the role of the "intellectual" passions of curiosity and ambition in epistemic evaluation.
|Karl Schafer||PDF (217kb)|
It is natural to think that questions in the metaphysics of chance are independent of the mathematical representation of chance in probability theory. After all, chance is a feature of events that comes in degrees and the mathematical representation of chance concerns these degrees but leaves the nature of chance open. The mathematical representation of chance could thus, un-controversially, be taken to be what it is commonly taken to be: a probability measure satisfying Kolmogorov’s axioms. The metaphysical questions about chance seem to be left open by all this. I argue that this is a mistake. The employment of real numbers as measures of chance in standard probability theory brings with it commitments in the metaphysics of (objective) chance that are not only substantial but also mistaken. To measure chance properly we need to employ extensions of the real numbers that contain infinitesimals: positive numbers that are infinitely small. But simply using infinitesimals alone is not enough, as a number of arguments show. Instead we need to put three ideas together: infinitesimals, the non-locality of chance and flexibility in measurement. Only those three together give us a coherent picture of chance and its mathematical representation.
|Thomas Hofweber||PDF (276kb)|
Temporal Experience and the Temporal Structure of Experience
I assess a number of connected ideas about temporal experience that are introspectively plausible, but which I believe can be argued to be incorrect. These include the idea that temporal experiences are extended experiential processes, that they have an internal structure that in some way mirrors the structure of the apparent events they present, and the idea that time in experience is in some way represented by time itself. I explain how these ideas can be developed into more sharply defined views, and then argue that these views are inconsistent with certain empirical facts about how time is represented in the brain. These facts instead support a kind of atomic view, on which temporal experiences are temporally unstructured atoms.
|Geoffrey Lee||PDF (1.7mb)|
Decision-Making Under Indeterminacy
Decisions are made under uncertainty when there are distinct outcomes of a given action, and one is uncertain to which the act will lead. Decisions are made under indeterminacy when there are distinct outcomes of a given action, and it is indeterminate to which the act will lead. This paper develops a theory of (synchronic and diachronic) decision-making under indeterminacy that portrays the rational response to such situations as inconstant. Rational agents have to capriciously and randomly choose how to resolve the indeterminacy relevant to a given choice-situation, but such capricious choices once made constrain how they will choose in the future. The account is illustrated by the case of self-interested action in situations where it is indeterminate whether you yourself will survive to benefit or suffer the consequences. The conclusion emphasizes some distinctive anti-hedging predictions of the account.
|J. Robert G. Williams||PDF (276kb)|
Expressivism and Moore’s Paradox
I argue against expressivism as a descriptive account of moral language. I do this by leveraging features of the connection between ordinary assertion and belief to test the putative connection between moral assertion and various non-cognitive states. Expressivists explain the expression relation which obtains between sincere moral assertion and the conative or affective attitude thereby expressed by appeal to the relation which obtains between sincere assertion and thereby expressed belief. In fact, they often explicitly take these relations to be the same. If the relations really are identical and if expressivism is correct, we should find Moore-paradoxical constructions where we deny that we possess certain non-cognitive attitudes. We do not. Hence either the relations are distinct or expressivism is incorrect as a descriptive account of moral language. I favor the latter. A number of objections are canvassed and rejected.
|Jack Woods||PDF (129kb)|
Machine-Likeness and Explanation by Decomposition
Analogies to machines are commonplace in the life sciences, especially in cellular and molecular biology — they shape conceptions of phenomena and expectations about how they are to be explained. This paper offers a framework for thinking about such analogies. The guiding idea is that machine-like systems are especially amenable to decompositional explanation, i.e., to analyses that tease apart underlying components and attend to their structural features and interrelations. I argue that for decomposition to succeed a system must exhibit causal orderliness, which I explicate in terms of differentiation among parts and the significance of local relations. I also discuss what makes a model depict its target as machine-like, suggesting that a key issue is the degree of detail with respect to the target’s parts and their interrelations.
|Arnon Levy||PDF (1.4mb)|
Why ‘Ought’ Detaches: Or, Why You Ought to Get with My Friends (If You Want to Be My Lover)
This paper argues that a standard analysis of modals from formal semantics suggests a solution to the detaching problem — the problem of whether un-embedded 'ought'-claims can "detach" (be derived) from hypothetical imperatives and their antecedent conditions. On a broadly Kratzerian analysis, modals have a skeletal conventional meaning and receive a particular reading (e.g., deontic, epistemic, teleological) only relative to certain forms of contextual supplementation. I argue that 'ought'-claims can detach — subject to an important qualification — but only as long as the 'ought's in the conditional premise and conclusion are interpreted relative to the same ordering sources. Although modus ponens can be shown to fail with hypothetical imperatives, the cases in question do not constitute a failure of detachment in the sense that ethicists have cared about. Rival wide-scoping accounts are proven to be linguistically problematic. They make incorrect predictions about the meanings of hypothetical imperatives, and founder in response to quantificational variants of the detaching problem.
|Alex Silk||PDF (228kb)|
Self-Knowledge and the Phenomenological Transparency of Belief
I develop an account of our capacity to know what we consciously believe, which is based on an account of the phenomenology of conscious belief. While other recent authors have suggested that phenomenally conscious states play a role in the epistemology of self-ascriptions of belief, they have failed to give a satisfying account of how exactly the phenomenology is supposed to help with the epistemology — i.e., an account of the way “what it is like” for the subject of a conscious belief makes it rational, for her, to self-ascribe that belief. I argue that an account according to which the phenomenology of belief is transparent — i.e., such that in having a conscious belief one is aware of the world as being a certain way, rather than of anything distinctively mental — is adequate to this task.
|Markos Valaris||PDF (1.6mb)|
Dominance Conditionals and the Newcomb Problem
The dominance conditional 'If I drink the contents of cup A, I will drink more than if drink the contents of cup B' is true if we know that the first cup contains more than the second. In the first part of the paper, I show that only one kind of theory of indicative conditionals can explain this fact — a Stalnaker-type semantics. In the second part of the paper, I show that dominance conditionals can help explain a long-standing mystery: the question of how one-boxers and two-boxers are guided by conditionals to their respective answers to the Newcomb problem. I will suggest that both implicitly appeal to a decision theoretic principle I will call the Dominance Norm (DN), a principle that connects indicative dominance conditionals with rational courses of action. Finally, I show that DN in combination with a Stalnaker-type theory of indicatives commits us to the two-boxing answer in the Newcomb problem.
|Theodore Korzukhin||PDF (167kb)|
No existing conditional semantics captures the dual role of 'if' in embedded interrogatives — 'X wonders if p' — and conditionals. This paper presses the importance and extent of this challenge, linking it to cross-linguistic patterns and other phenomena involving conditionals. Among these other phenomena are conditionals with multiple 'if'-clauses in the antecedent — 'if p and if q, then r' — and relevance conditionals — 'if you are hungry, there is food in the cupboard'. Both phenomena are shown to be problematic for existing analyses. Surprisingly, the decomposition of conditionals needed to capture the link with interrogatives provides a new analysis that captures all three phenomena. The model-theoretic semantics offered here relies on a dynamic conception of meaning and compositionality, a feature discussed throughout.
|William B. Starr||PDF (360kb)|
The practices of using hostages to obtain concessions and using human shields to deter aggression share an important characteristic which warrants a univocal reference to both sorts of conduct: they both involve manipulating our commitment to morality, as a means to achieving wrongful ends. I call this type of conduct “moral coercion”. In this paper I (a) present an account of moral coercion by linking it to coercion more generally, (b) determine whether and to what degree the coerced agent is liable for the harms resulting from acceding to moral coercion, and (c) investigate factors relevant to determining whether we ought to accede to moral coercion. In so doing, I provide grounds for the intuition that we “allow evil to succeed” when we accede to moral coercion.
|Saba Bazargan||PDF (571kb)|
Kant on the Cosmological Argument
In the first Critique Kant levels two main charges against the cosmological argument. First, it commits the fallacy of ignoratio elenchi. Second, in two rather different ways, it presupposes the ontological argument. Commentators have struggled to find merit in either of these charges. The paper argues that they can nonetheless be shown to have some merit, so long as one takes care to correctly identify the version of the cosmological argument that Kant means to be attacking. That turns out to be a charitably modified version of the argument run by Christian Wolff. Having described Kant’s target argument, the paper goes on to explicate his criticisms and to weigh their merits.
|Ian Proops||PDF (600kb)|
Debunking Perceptual Beliefs about Ordinary Objects
Debunking arguments are arguments that aim to undermine some range of beliefs by showing that those beliefs are not appropriately connected to their subject matter. Arguments of this sort rear their heads in a wide variety of domains, threatening beliefs about morality, mathematics, logic, color, and the existence of God. Perceptual beliefs about ordinary objects, however, are widely thought to be invulnerable to such arguments. I will show that this is a mistake. I articulate a debunking argument that purports to undermine our most basic perceptual beliefs. I then challenge a number of responses to the argument, including the “permissivist” response that there are a plenitude of objects before us, virtually guaranteeing the accuracy of our object beliefs.
|Daniel Z. Korman||PDF (541kb)|
“Kant’s Diagnosis of the Unity of Skepticism”
I explicate and defend Kant's analysis of “skepticism” as a single, metaphilosophically unified rational phenomenon (at A756–764/B784–797, for instance). Kant anticipates one of the defining trends of contemporary epistemology's approach to radical philosophical skepticism: the thought that skepticism cannot be directly refuted, by demonstrating its falsity, but must be diagnosed, to show that its premises are unnatural, and consequently fail to be rationally compelling from within our own nonskeptical standpoint. Kant's most ambitious claim here is that he will develop this diagnosis in a unitary fashion, by demonstrating that Cartesian, Humean, Pyrrhonian, and Agrippan skepticism are essentially interrelated as so many means to “the skeptic's” defining philosophical end. This “unity thesis” comes in both weak and strong variations. First, and more weakly, Kant argues that apparently distinct skeptical problematics share certain crucial metaphilosophical assumptions about the nature of reason, and the role of philosophical self-knowledge. More strongly, he also claims that the four problematics just mentioned are related hierarchically, in that the more fundamental skeptical worries constitute the essential dialectical context for the less fundamental ones, such that the more superficial problematics only arise if a logically prior worry is first acceded to. By showing how deeply these two unity theses structure Kant's Critical methodology, I argue that the Kantian view of philosophy as a “doctrine of wisdom” incorporates, and arguably surpasses, a number of key insights found in more recent work. The final result is that the transcendental philosopher may hope to co-opt the attractions of skepticism without making any unnecessary concessions along the way.
|Matthew A. Kelsey||PDF (658kb)|
Colour layering and colour constancy
Loosely put, colour constancy for example occurs when you experience a partly shadowed wall to be uniformly coloured, or experience your favourite shirt to be the same colour both with and without sunglasses on. Controversy ensues when one seeks to interpret ‘experience’ in these contexts, for evidence of a constant colour may be indicative a constant colour in the objective world, a judgement that a constant colour would be present were things thus and so, et cetera. My primary aim is to articulate a viable conception of Present Constancy, of what occurs when a constant colour is present in experience, despite the additional presence of some experienced colour variation (e.g., correlating to a change in illumination). My proposed conception involves experienced colour layering – experiencing one opaque colour through another transparent one – and in particular requires one of those experienced layers to remain constant while the other changes. The aim is not to propose this layering conception of colour constancy as the correct interpretation of all constancy cases, but rather to develop the conception enough to demonstrate how it could and plausibly should be applied to various cases, and the virtues it has over rivals. Its virtues include a seamless application to constancy cases involving variations in filters (e.g., sunglasses) and illuminants; its ability to accommodate experiences of partial colours and error-free interpretations of difficult cases; and its broad theoretical-neutrality, allowing it to be incorporated into numerous perceptual epistemologies and ontologies. If layered constancy is prevalent, as I suspect it is, then our experiential access to colours is critically nuanced: we have been plunged into a world of colour without being told that we will rarely, if ever, look to a location and experience just one of them.
|Derek H. Brown||PDF (1.0mb)|
There Can Be No Turing-Test-Passing Memorizing Machines
Anti-behaviorist arguments against the validity of the Turing Test as a sufficient condition for attributing intelligence are based on a memorizing machine, which has recorded within it responses to every possible Turing Test interaction of up to a fixed length. The mere possibility of such a machine is claimed to be enough to invalidate the Turing Test. I consider the nomological possibility of memorizing machines, and how long a Turing Test they can pass. I replicate my previous analysis of this critical Turing Test length based on the age of the universe, show how considerations of communication time shorten that estimate and allow eliminating the sole remaining contingent assumption, and argue that the bound is so short that it is incompatible with the very notion of the Turing Test. I conclude that the memorizing machine objection to the Turing Test as a sufficient condition for attributing intelligence is invalid.
|Stuart M. Shieber||PDF (257kb)|
Assurance and Warrant
Previous assurance-theoretic treatments of testimony have not adequately explained how testimonial warrant depends specifically on the speaker’s mode of address – making it natural to suspect that the interpersonal element is not epistemic but merely psychological or action-theoretic. I aim to fill that explanatory gap: to specify exactly how a testifier’s assurance can create genuine epistemic warrant. In doing so I explain (a) how the illocutionary norm governing the speech act proscribes not lies but a species of bullshit, in an extension of Harry Frankfurt’s sense, (b) how that norm makes testimony fully second-personal, in Stephen Darwall’s sense, or bipolar, in Michael Thompson’s sense, and (c) how that species of second-personality or bipolarity is more fundamental than the practical species that Darwall and Thompson discuss. One attraction of this new Assurance View of testimony is that it allows us to reconceptualize the natures of normativity and responsibility more generally, viewing the assurance as implicating us in normative relations of recognition, and therefore of justice, that are not yet moralized with reactive attitudes.
|Edward S. Hinchman||PDF (1.0mb)|
Disagreement about Disagreement? What Disagreement about Disagreement?
Disagreement is a hot topic in epistemology. A fast-growing literature centers around a dispute between the ‘steadfast’ view, on which one may maintain one’s beliefs even in the light of disagreement with epistemic peers who have all the same evidence, and the ‘conciliationist’ view, on which such disagreement requires a revision of attitudes. In this paper, however, I argue that there is less separating the main rivals in the debate about peer disagreement than is commonly thought. The extreme versions of both views are clearly indefensible, while more moderate versions of the views converge on the idea that how much revision of belief is called for by an instance of peer disagreement varies from case to case. Those tempted by this diagnosis are sometimes pessimistic about the prospects for giving a unified account which clearly predicts when more or less extensive revisions will be called for. By contrast, in this paper I give an account that aspires to such unity and predictive power, centering on the notion of the net resilience of your estimate of your own reliability against your estimate of your interlocutor’s reliability. The view I present thus amounts to a new, moderate theory of how one should respond to disagreement. I argue that ultimately, when we weaken conciliationism and the steadfast view to account for exception cases and to make them adequately plausible, they end up converging on the moderate view I present. Much of the seeming disagreement about disagreement is, then, illusory.
|Alex Worsnip||PDF (505kb)|
Of Archery and Virtue: Ancient and Modern Conceptions of Value
I argue that comparisons of Stoic virtue to stochastic skills — now standard in the secondary literature on Stoicism — are based on a misreading of the sources and distort the Stoic position in two respects. In paradigmatic stochastic skills such as archery, medicine, or navigation the value of the skill’s external end justifies the existence and practice of the skill and constitutes an appropriate focus of rational motivation. Neither claim applies to virtue as the Stoics understand it. The stochastic model of virtue almost certainly originated with Carneades and should be distinguished clearly from the Stoic account. Doing so clarifies the Stoic position and shows that it anticipates what Thomas Hurka calls a modern view of value.
|Jacob Klein||PDF (515kb)|
On the Plurality of Grounds
This paper argues that ground is irreducibly plural: a group of facts can be grounded together, as a collective, even though no member of the group has a ground on its own. This kind of plural grounding is applied to the metaphysics of individuals and quantities, yielding a “structuralist” view in each case. Some more general implications of plural grounding are also discussed.
|Shamik Dasgupta||PDF (596kb)|
Insight Knowledge of No Self in Buddhism: An Epistemic Analysis
Imagine a character, Mary Analogue, who has a complete theoretical knowledge of her subject matter: the illusory nature of self. Suppose that when presenting her paper on no self at a conference she suffers stage-fright – a reaction that implies she is under an illusion of the very self whose existence she denies. Might there be something defective about her knowledge of no self? The Buddhist tradition would claim that Mary Analogue, despite her theoretical omniscience, lacks deep ‘insight knowledge’ into the reality of no self. The only way for her to gain insight, and thereby improve her epistemic status, would be to divest her mind of the self-illusion. In this paper, I offer an analysis of what could be epistemically involved in the process of acquiring such insight knowledge whereby one becomes, in Buddhist parlance, ‘awakened’.
|Miri Albahari||PDF (707kb)|
Semantics and the Plural Conception of Reality
According to the singular conception of reality, there are objects and there are singular properties, i.e. properties that are instantiated by objects separately. It has been argued that semantic considerations about plurals give us reasons to embrace a plural conception of reality. This is the view that, in addition to singular properties, there are plural properties, i.e. properties that are instantiated jointly by many objects. In this article, I propose and defend a novel semantic account of plurals which dispenses with plural properties and thus undermines the semantic argument in favor of the plural conception of reality.
|Salvatore Florio||PDF (237kb)|
Keeping the Shutters Closed: The Moral Value of Reserve
In this paper I defend a little noted claim of Kant’s — that we should “keep the shutters closed” on our flaws and failings. Kant’s own arguments for this claim aren’t fully satisfactorily, and they rest primarily on pragmatic considerations. My aim in this paper is to provide a more robust Kantian-inspired argument for the moral value of reserve. I argue that collaborating with others to keep the shutters closed on our individual and collective flaws aids in the difficult task of building and maintaining moral community among morally frail and flawed human beings. The paper consists of three parts. In Part I, I examine what Kant himself says about reserve. In Part II, I present a Kantian-inspired argument for the moral value of reserve, drawing on sociologist Erving Goffman’s concept of a front. Moral fronts, I argue, contribute to the fulfillment of the Kantian duties of moral self-improvement and beneficence. To put it differently, they help us instantiate the kingdom of ends in a world of imperfect human beings. In Part III, I address three objections to my argument: that fronts are deceptive, that they actually interfere with moral self-improvement, and that they preclude morally valuable forms of intimacy. I argue that my account can accommodate these concerns.
|Karen Stohr||PDF (573kb)|
Jonathan Edwards’s Argument Concerning Persistence
The 18th-century American philosopher Jonathan Edwards argues that nothing endures through time. I analyze his argument, paying particular attention to a central principle it relies on, namely that “nothing can exert itself, or operate, when and where it is not existing”. I also consider what I supposed to follow from the conclusion that nothing endures. Edwards is sometimes read as the first four-dimensionalist. I argue that this is wrong. Edwards does not conclude that things persist by having different temporal parts; he concludes that nothing persists.
|Antonia LoLordo||PDF (465kb)|
Normative Concepts: A Connectedness Model
This paper proposes a new relational account of concepts and shows how it is particularly well suited to characterizing normative concepts. The key advantage of our ‘connectedness’ model is that it explains how subjects can share the same normative concepts despite radical divergences in the descriptive or motivational commitments they associate with them. The connectedness model builds social and historical facts into the foundations of concept identity. This aspect of the model, we suggest, reshapes normative epistemology and provides new resources for a vindication of realism in ethics.
|Laura Schroeter; François Schroeter||PDF (564kb)|
Hume’s Treatment of Denial in the Treatise
David Hume fancied himself the Newton of the mind, aiming to reinvent the study of human mental life in the same way that Newton had revolutionized physics. And it was his view that the novel account of belief he proposed in his Treatise of Human Nature was one of that work’s central philosophical contributions. From the earliest responses to the Treatise forward, however, there was deep pessimism about the prospects for his account. It is easy to understand the source of this pessimism: The constraints he employed in theorizing stem from his Newtonian ambitions. Constraints such as his copy principle and his decision to rely only on variations in “force and vivacity” for differentiating types of mental states severely limit his available explanatory resources. However, it is one thing to regard an account as untenable, and quite another to understand where it fails. In this paper, I focus on one long-standing objection to Hume’s account — the objection that Hume cannot offer an account of negative belief or denial — as presented by Hume’s contemporary Thomas Reid, as well as more recently by Barry Stroud, and defend Hume from this objection. I argue that Hume both should and does endorse an account of negative belief based in relations of contrariety between contents, rather than between mental activities, and survey the different options available to Hume for spelling out an account of contrary contents.
|Lewis Powell||PDF (525kb)|
Decision Theory without Representation Theorems
Naive versions of decision theory take probabilities and utilities as primitive and use expected value to give norms on rational decision. However, standard decision theory takes rational preference as primitive and uses it to construct probability and utility. This paper shows how to justify a version of the naive theory, by taking dominance as the most basic normatively required preference relation, and then extending it by various conditions under which agents should be indifferent between acts. The resulting theory can make all the decisions of classical expected utility theory, plus more in cases where expected utilities are infinite or undefined. Although the theory requires similarly strong assumptions to classical expected utility theory, versions of the theory can be developed with slightly weaker assumptions, without having to prove a new representation theorem for the weaker theory. This alternate foundation is particularly useful if probability is prior to preference, as suggested by the recent program to base probabilism on accuracy and alethic considerations rather than pragmatic ones.
|Kenny Easwaran||PDF (311kb)|
Dynamic Thoughts on Ifs and Oughts
A dynamic semantics for iffy oughts offers an attractive alternative to the folklore that Chisholm's paradox enforces an unhappy choice between the intuitive inference rules of factual and deontic detachment. The first part of the story told here shows how a dynamic theory about ifs and oughts gives rise to a nonmonotonic perspective on deontic discourse and reasoning that elegantly removes the air of paradox from Chisholm's puzzle without sacrificing any of the two detachment principles. The second part of the story showcases two bonus applications of the framework suggested here: it offers a response to Forrester's gentle murder paradox and avoids Kolodny and MacFarlane's miners paradox about deontic reasoning under epistemic uncertainty. A comparison between the dynamic semantic proposal made in this paper and a more conservative approach combining a static semantics with a dynamic pragmatics is provided.
|Malte Willer||PDF (318kb)|
The Stoic Account of Apprehension
This paper examines the Stoic account of apprehension (κατάληψις) (a cognitive achievement similar to how we typically view knowledge). Following a seminal article by Michael Frede (1983), it is widely thought that the Stoics maintained a purely externalist causal account of apprehension wherein one may apprehend only if one stands in an appropriate causal relation to the object apprehended. An important but unanswered challenge to this view has been offered by David Sedley (2002) who offers reasons to suppose that the Stoics (or at least Zeno, the founder of the Stoa) did not make such a causal stipulation. I offer a defence of the traditional, causal reading against the challenges raised by Sedley but also argue, against the traditional view, that the Stoic account incorporated an internalist element. On the hybrid account defended here, in order to apprehend not only must the agent stand in an appropriate causal relation to the object apprehended but the agent’s appearance of the object must also be clear (a feature which is accessible to the epistemic agent). The traditional scholarly view rejects internalist interpretations because it is thought that such interpretations cannot make sense of the Stoics’ discussion of the ‘automatic assent’ produced by kataleptic appearances and a purely externalist view is taken to be charitable insofar as it saves the Stoics from a vicious regress which they would otherwise face (were they internalists). I defend an internalist interpretation against both these charges. The internalist element embraced by the Stoics does not lead to the problems it is often thought to and the account defended here not only does justice to the textual evidence but also sheds light on the Stoic debates with their sceptical opponents and grants the Stoics an epistemic account fit for purpose.
|Tamer Nawar||PDF (616kb)|
Practical deliberation and the voice of conscience in Fichte’s 1798 System of Ethics
J.G. Fichte’s 1798 System of Ethics is seldom read, despite the fact that it remains, after more than two centuries, one of the most original and insightful efforts at a systematic normative ethical theory on Kantian foundations. Part of the reason for its obscurity lies in the perceived implausibility of Fichte’s account of practical deliberation and of the authority of individual conscience. The view typically attributed to Fichte is a conjunction of four claims: that moral deliberation consists entirely in consultation of one’s conscience; that conscience is a faculty that gives immediate epistemic access to substantive moral truths; that conformity with the verdict of conscience is the sole criterion of the moral worth of actions; and that an individual’s conscientious decision is therefore morally incorrigible. This set of views is indeed implausible; but Fichte in fact held none of them. Hegel was the first to attribute them to him and, incredibly, Hegel’s has remained for 200 years the dominant interpretation, even among scholars of Fichte. In this paper I explain how Fichte actually thought about practical deliberation and the role of conscience, and diagnose the sources of appeal of the Hegelian interpretation.
|Michelle Kosch||PDF (455kb)|
The Midlife Crisis
Philosophy can solve the midlife crisis, at least in one of its forms. This crisis turns on the exhaustibility of our ends. The solution is to value ends that are ‘atelic,’ so inexhaustible. Topics include: John Stuart Mill's nervous breakdown; Aristotle on the finality of the highest good; and Schopenhauer on the futility of desire.
|Kieran Setiya||PDF (376kb)|
Rethinking Kant’s Fact of Reason
Kant’s doctrine of the Fact of Reason is one of the most perplexing aspects of his moral philosophy. The aim of this paper is to defend Kant’s doctrine from the common charge of dogmatism. My defense turns on a previously unexplored analogy to the notion of ‘matters of fact’ popularized by members of the Royal Society in the seventeenth century. In their work, ‘facts’ were beyond doubt, often referring to experimental effects one could witness first hand. While Kant uses the German equivalent (‘Tatsachen’) in different contexts, I argue that the scientific analogy opens up a new framework for interpreting his strategy of justification in the Critique of Practical Reason. In the final section, I address a few possible objections to my reading, one of which I anticipate coming from Dieter Henrich (1989) and Ian Proops (2003), who have argued that Kant’s Fact of Reason is best understood under a legal analogy.
|Owen Ware||PDF (605kb)|
Causal contribution and causal exclusion
Causation is extrinsic. What an event causes depends not just on its own nature and the laws, but on the environment in which it occurs. Had an event occurred under different conditions, it may have had different effects. Yet we often want to say that causation, in at least some respect, is not extrinsic. Events exert an influence on the world themselves, independently of what other events do or do not occur in their surroundings. This paper develops an account of such influence and argues that it provides a solution to the causal exclusion problem. By locating that solution largely within the metaphysics of causation, we can solve the exclusion problem without taking on a commitment to a theory of mind.
|Marc Johansen||PDF (494kb)|
Dispositional essentialism and the grounding of natural modality
Dispositional essentialism is a non-Humean view about the essences of certain fundamental or natural properties that looms large in recent metaphysics (of science), not least because it promises to explain neatly the natural modalities such as laws of nature, counterfactuals, causation and chance. In the current paper, however, several considerations are presented that indicate a serious tension between its essentialist core thesis and natural “metaphysical” interpretations of its central explanatory claims.
|Siegfried Jaag||PDF (594kb)|
Deference Done Right
There are many kinds of epistemic experts to which we might wish to defer in setting our credences. These include: highly rational agents, objective chances, our own future credences, our own current credences, and evidential (or logical) probabilities. But exactly what constraint does a deference requirement place on an agent's credences? In this paper we consider three answers, inspired by three principles that have been proposed for deference to objective chances. We consider how these options fare when applied to the other kinds of epistemic experts mentioned above. Of the three deference principles we consider, we argue that two of the options face insuperable difficulties. The third, on the other hand, fares well|at least when it is applied in a particular way.
|Richard Pettigrew; Michael G. Titelbaum||PDF (300kb)|