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Conditionals: A Unifying Ranking-Theoretic Perspective
The paper takes an expressivistic perspective, i.e., it takes conditionals of all sorts to primarily express (features of) conditional beliefs. Therefore it is based on what it takes to be the best account of conditional belief, namely ranking theory. It proposes not to start looking at the bewildering linguistic phenomenology, but first to systematically study the various options of expressing features of conditional belief. Those options by far transcend the Ramsey test and include relevancies of various kinds and in particular the so-called “circumstances are such that” reading, under which also all conditionals representing causal relations can be subsumed. In this way a unifying perspective on the many kinds of conditionals is offered. The final section explains the considerable extent to which truth conditions for conditionals, which may seem lost in the expressivistic or epistemic perspective, may be recovered.
|Wolfgang Spohn||PDF (929kb)|
An Open and Shut Case: Epistemic Closure in the Manifest Image
The epistemic closure principle says that knowledge is closed under known entailment. The closure principle is deeply implicated in numerous core debates in contemporary epistemology. Closure’s opponents claim that there are good theoretical reasons to abandon it. Closure’s proponents claim that it is a defining feature of ordinary thought and talk and, thus, abandoning it is radically revisionary. But evidence for these claims about ordinary practice has thus far been anecdotal. In this paper, I report five studies on the status of epistemic closure in ordinary practice. Despite decades of widespread assumptions to the contrary in philosophy, ordinary practice is ambivalent about closure. Ordinary practice does not endorse an unqualified version of the epistemic closure principle, although it might endorse a source-relative version of the principle. In particular, whereas inferential knowledge is not viewed as closed under known entailment, perceptual knowledge might be.
|John Turri||PDF (585kb)|
The Unsolvability of The Quintic: A Case Study in Abstract Mathematical Explanation
This paper identifies one way that a mathematical proof can be more explanatory than another proof. This is by invoking a more abstract kind of entity than the topic of the theorem. These abstract mathematical explanations are identified via an investigation of a canonical instance of modern mathematics: the Galois theory proof that there is no general solution in radicals for fifth-degree polynomial equations. I claim that abstract explanations are best seen as describing a special sort of dependence relation between distinct mathematical domains. This case study highlights the importance of the conceptual, as opposed to computational, turn of much of modern mathematics, as recently emphasized by Tappenden and Avigad. The approach adopted here is contrasted with alternative proposals by Steiner and Kitcher.
|Christopher Pincock||PDF (216kb)|
Morality seems important, in the sense that there are practical reasons — at least for most of us, most of the time — to be moral. A central theoretical motivation for consequentialism is that it appears clear that there are practical reasons to promote good outcomes, but mysterious why we should care about non-consequentialist moral considerations or how they could be genuine reasons to act. In this paper we argue that this theoretical motivation is mistaken, and that because many arguments for consequentialism rely upon it, the mistake substantially weakens the overall case for consequentialism. We argue that there is indeed a theoretical connection between good states and reasons to act, because good states are those it is fitting to desire and there is a conceptual connection between the fittingness of a motive and reasons to perform the acts it motivates. But while some of our motives are directed at states, others are directed at acts themselves. We contend that just as the fittingness of desires for states generates reasons to promote the good, the fittingness of these act-directed motives generates reasons to do other things. Moreover, we argue that an act’s moral status consists in the fittingness of act-directed feelings of obligation to perform or avoid performing it, so the connection between fitting motives and reasons to act explains reasons to be moral whether or not morality directs us to promote the good. This, we contend, de-mystifies how there could be non-consequentialist reasons that are both moral and practical.
|Howard Nye; David Plunkett; John Ku||PDF (683kb)|
Rationalist Responses to Skepticism: A New Puzzle
Most promising responses to skepticism fall into “Moorean” or “rationalist” camps. Mooreans believe that some apparently circular forms of reasoning allow us to have justification to believe that skeptical hypotheses are false. Rationalists believe that we have a priori justification to believe that skeptical hypotheses are false. It can seem that anti-skeptics are stuck choosing between fishy circular reasoning and mysterious a priori justification. I present a new difficulty for rationalism by focusing on skeptical scenarios wherein our faculties of a priori reasoning are untrustworthy. In dealing with these scenarios, rationalists end up having to embrace the same sorts of circular reasoning that Mooreans use to deal with more familiar skeptical scenarios. As a result, there is no viable diagnosis of what's wrong with Moorean reasoning that does not also apply to rationalism: both anti-skeptical approaches are in the same boat when it comes to embracing circular reasoning.
|Tim Willenken||PDF (663kb)|
Norms of Belief and Norms of Assertion in Aesthetics
Why is it that we cannot legitimately make certain aesthetic assertions – for instance that ‘Guernica is harrowing’ or that ‘The Rite of Spring is strangely beautiful’ – on the basis of testimony alone? In this paper I consider a species of argument intended to demonstrate that the best explanation for the impermissibility of such assertions is that a particular view of the norms of aesthetic belief – pessimism concerning aesthetic testimony – is correct. I begin by outlining the strongest instance of such ‘arguments from assertion’ and demonstrating that it presents a powerful motivation for embracing pessimism; the view that it is illegitimate to form aesthetic beliefs on the basis of testimony alone. I then go on to argue that, appearances notwithstanding, the pessimist’s opponents – optimists concerning aesthetic testimony – are able to provide an explanation for the impermissibility of these assertions which is at least as good as, and in some respects better than, that offered by their pessimist. The explanation I propose draws on some important work on signalling in aesthetics, by Denis Dutton and others, to argue that the problem with such assertions is closely parallel to the problem Dutton claims is generated by forgeries. Those making such assertions misrepresent a piece of aesthetic labour (in this case a critical judgement) as their own, when, in fact, it is the work of another. I also explore the wider implications of this view for debates in aesthetic epistemology and beyond.
|Jon Robson||PDF (512kb)|
A Decision Theory for Imprecise Probabilities
Those who model doxastic states with a set of probability functions, rather than a single function, face a pressing challenge: can they provide a plausible decision theory compatible with their view? Adam Elga (2010) and others claim that they cannot, and that the set of functions model should be rejected for this reason. This paper aims to answer this challenge. The key insight is that the set of functions model can be seen as an instance of the supervaluationist approach to vagueness more generally. We can then generate our decision theory by applying the general supervaluationist semantics to decision-theoretic claims. The result: if an action is permissible according to all functions in the set, it’s determinately permissible; if impermissible according to all, determinately impermissible; and – crucially – if permissible according to some, but not all, it’s indeterminate whether it’s permissible. This proposal handles with ease some difficult cases (including one from Elga (2010)) on which alternative decision theories falter. One reason this view has been overlooked in the literature thus far is that all parties to the debate presuppose that an acceptable decision theory must classify each action as either permissible or impermissible. But I will argue that this thought is misguided. Seeing the set of functions model as an instance of supervaluationism provides a compelling motivation for the claim that there can be indeterminacy in the rationality of some actions.
|Susanna Rinard||PDF (466kb)|
Aristotle on Actions from Lack of Control
The paper defends three claims about Aristotle’s theory of uncontrolled (akratic) actions in NE 7.3. First, I argue that the first part of NE 7.3 (1146b30-47a24) contains the description of the overall state of mind of the agent while she acts without control. Aristotle’s solution to the problem of uncontrolled action lies in the analogy between the uncontrolled agent and people who are drunk, mad, or asleep. This analogy is interpreted as meaning that the uncontrolled agent, while acting without control, is still in possession of her knowledge (and so she can make use of what she knows) but she is unable to use it as knowledge due to the temporary disablement of her reason by appetite. Due to this disablement, the uncontrolled agent is temporarily unable to be motivated to act by her knowledge and acts merely on her appetite. Second, I argue that the second part of NE 7.3 (1147a25-b5) provides an analysis of the particular mental state from which the uncontrolled action issues. Its central passage (1147a31-5) is a description of the uncontrolled agent’s state of mind before the uncontrolled action and not, as it has been traditionally understood, a description of her state of mind during the uncontrolled action. Third, I argue that, on Aristotle’s view, the transition from the state before the uncontrolled action to the state in which the agent already acts without control does not involve any psychological state that would constitute the agent’s choice to abandon her decision and give in to her desires but proceeds on a purely physiological level.
|Jozef Müller||PDF (778kb)|
In addition to full beliefs, agents have attitudes of varying confidence, or credences. For instance, I do not believe that the Boston Red Sox will win the American League East this year, but I am at least a little bit confident that they will – i.e. I have a positive credence that they will. It is also common to think that agents have conditional credences. For instance, I am very confident – i.e. have a conditional credence of very-likely strength – that the Red Sox will win the AL East this year given that their pitching staff stays healthy. There are good reasons to think that conditional credences are neither credences nor some combination of credences. In this paper, I show that similar reasons support thinking that agents have what we can call quantificational credences – attitudes like, thinking that each AL East team with a healthy pitching staff is at least a little bit likely to win the division – which are neither credences, conditional credences, nor some combination thereof. I provide a framework for assessing the rationality of credal states which involve quantificational credences. And I give a general picture of credal states that explains the similarities and differences between ordinary, conditional, and quantificational credences.
|Benjamin Lennertz||PDF (495kb)|
“Inner Perception Can Never Become Inner Observation”: Brentano on Awareness and Observation
Self-representational theories of consciousness hold that a mental phenomenon is conscious if, and only if, it presents, among other things, itself. But in conscious perception one may lose oneself in the object perceived and not be aware of one’s perceiving. The paper develops a Brentano-inspired response to this objection. He follows Aristotle in holding that one is aware of one’s perceiving only ‘on the side’: when one perceives something one’s perception neither is nor can become observation of itself. I argue that the arguments Brentano gave for this claim in Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint are wanting. However, a promising argument emerges if one takes Brentano’s conception of noticing into account.
|Mark Textor||PDF (396kb)|
Agency and Evil in Fichte’s Ethics
This paper examines Fichte's proof of evil in §16 of the System of Ethics. According to the majority of commentators, Fichte was mistaken to consider his proof Kantian in spirit (Piché 1999; Kosch 2006, 2011; Dews 2008; and Breazeale 2014). For rather than locate our propensity to evil in an act of free choice, Fichte locates it in a natural force of inertia. However, the distance between Kant and Fichte begins to close if we read his concept of inertia, not as a material force, but as a tendency to resist the work of agency and autonomy. There are, I argue, both textual and conceptual reasons in support of a figurative interpretation. In the course of presenting these reasons, I also uncover an important insight guiding Fichte's analysis of evil in the System of Ethics: namely, his claim that we can never fully step back from ourselves in reflection. In the concluding sections of the paper, I argue that Fichte's insight may solve a particular skeptical threat facing recent Kantian accounts of normativity.
|Owen Ware||PDF (481kb)|
Logic and the Laws of Thought
An approach to explaining the nature and source of logic and its laws with a rich historical tradition (particularly Kant and Frege) takes the laws of logic to be laws of thought. This view seems intuitively compelling, after all, logic seems to be intimately related with how we think. But how exactly should we understand it? And what arguments can we give in favour? I will propose one line of argument for the claim that the laws of logic are laws of thought. I will motivate the claim that there is a certain phenomenon, namely, that there are logical principles which are immune to rational doubt. I will then give an argument to the best explanation; I will argue that the best explanation of this phenomenon is to take the laws of logic to be constitutive-normative laws of thought. The proposal, and some responses to potential objections, will have a notably Kantian flavour.
|Jessica Leech||PDF (561kb)|
With All Due Respect: The Macro-Epistemology of Disagreement
In this paper, I develop a new kind of conciliatory answer to the problem of peer disagreement. Instead of trying to guide an agent’s updating behaviour in any particular disagreement, I establish constraints on an agent’s expected behaviour and argue that, in the long run, she should tend to be conciliatory toward her peers. I first claim that this macro-approach affords us new conceptual insight on the problem of peer disagreement and provides an important angle complementary to the standard micro-approaches in the literature. I then detail the import of two novel results based on accuracy-considerations that establish the following: An agent should, on average, give her peers equal weight. However, if the agent takes herself and her advisor to be reliable, she should usually give the party with a stronger opinion more weight. In other words, an agent’s response to peer disagreement should over the course of many disagreements average out to equal weight, but in any particular disagreement, her response should tend to deviate from equal weight in a way that systematically depends on the actual credences she and her advisor report.
|Benjamin Anders Levinstein||PDF (260kb)|
Spinoza on Extension
This paper argues that Spinoza does not take extension in space to be a fundamental property of physical things. This means that when Spinoza calls either substance or a mode “an Extended thing”, he does not mean that it is a thing extended in three dimensions. The argument proceeds by showing, first, that Spinoza does not associate extension in space with substance, and second, that finite bodies, or physical things, are not understood through the intellect when they are conceived as extended in space. I conclude by articulating some suggestions about where we should go from here in trying to understand Spinoza’s account of the attribute of extension and of the physical world.
|Alison Peterman||PDF (459kb)|
Understanding “Practical Knowledge”
The concept of practical knowledge is central to G.E.M. Anscombe's argument in Intention, yet its meaning is little understood. There are several reasons for this, including a lack of attention to Anscombe's ancient and medieval sources for the concept, and an emphasis on the (supposedly) more straightforward concept of knowledge "without observation" in the interpretation of Anscombe's position. This paper remedies the situation, first by appealing to the writings of Thomas Aquinas to develop an account of practical knowledge as a distinctive form of thought that "aims at production" of things that lie within an agent's power; and then by showing how this Thomistic understanding of practical cognition seems to have been Anscombe's, too. Having done this, I question whether the thesis that agential knowledge is practical knowledge entails that an agent always has non-observational knowledge of what she is intentionally doing. I answer "Not": Anscombe's claims to the contrary rest on a misleading assimilation of human beings' finite agency to that of an infinite agent like God.
|John Schwenkler||PDF (600kb)|
Accuracy and the credence-belief connection
Probabilism says an agent is rational only if her credences are probabilistic. This paper is concerned with the so-called Accuracy Dominance Argument for Probabilism. This argument begins with the claim that the sole fundamental source of epistemic value for a credence is its accuracy. It then shows that, however we measure accuracy, any non-probabilistic credences are accuracy-dominated: that is, there are alternative credences that are guaranteed to be more accurate than them. It follows that non-probabilistic credences are irrational. In this paper, I identify and explore a lacuna in this argument. I grant that, if the only doxastic attitudes are credal attitudes, the argument succeeds. But many philosophers say that, alongside credences, there are other doxastic attitudes, such as full beliefs. What's more, those philosophers typically claim, these other doxastic attitudes are closely connected to credences, either as a matter of necessity or normatively. Now, since full beliefs are also doxastic attitudes, it seems that, like credences, the sole source of epistemic value for them is their accuracy. Thus, if we wish to measure the epistemic value of an agent's total doxastic state, we must include not only the accuracy of her credences, but also the accuracy of her full beliefs. However, if this is the case, there is a problem for the Accuracy Dominance Argument for Probabilism. For all the argument says, there might be non-probabilistic credences such that there is no total doxastic state that accuracy-dominates the total doxastic state to which those credences belong.
|Richard Pettigrew||PDF (214kb)|
Immunity and Self-Awareness
Three pathologies of alienation (thought insertion, anarchic hand syndrome, and somatoparaphrenia) have been claimed to refute the philosophical thesis that introspection-based self-ascriptions of mental states are immune to error through misidentification. In this paper, I show that this critique of the Immunity Thesis is misguided; the cases of alienation either are not self-ascriptions or do not involve misidentification. Rather, these cases undermine a widely assumed explanation of immunity, which is based on the idea that self-ascriptions of mental states are identification-free. I argue that, given a certain understanding of the Immunity Thesis, identification-freedom does not explain immunity anyhow, and I offer an alternative explanation, one which posits a tight link between first-personal awareness and ownership of a mental state.
|Max Seeger||PDF (531kb)|
Who’s Afraid of Double Affection?
There is substantial textual evidence that Kant held the doctrine of double affection: subjects are causally affected both by things in themselves and by appearances. However, Kant commentators have been loath to attribute this view to him, for the doctrine of double affection is widely thought to face insuperable problems. I begin by explaining what I take to be the most serious problem faced by the doctrine of double affection: appearances cannot cause the very experience in virtue of which they have their empirical properties. My solution consists in distinguishing the sense of ‘experience’ in which empirical objects cause experience from the sense of ‘experience’ in which experience determines empirical objects. I call the latter “universal experience”. I develop my conception of universal experience, and then I explain how it solves the problem of double affection. I conclude by addressing several objections.
|Nicholas F. Stang||PDF (728kb)|
Recombination and Paradox
The doctrine that whatever could exist does exist leads to a proliferation of possibly concrete objects given certain principles of recombination. If, for example, there could have been a large infinite number of concrete objects, then there is at least the same number of possibly concrete objects in existence. And further cardinality considerations point to a tension between the preceding doctrine and the Cantorian conception of the absolutely infinite. This paper develops a parallel problem for a variety of possible worlds accounts of modality which eschew the commitment to a plethora of possibly concrete objects. Moreover, the difficulty is importantly different from more familiar threats of paradox exemplified by certain descendants of Russell's paradox of propositions and Kaplan's paradox.
|Gabriel Uzquiano||PDF (249kb)|
Tolerance as Civility
The question of toleration, of whether we should express disapproval at wrongdoing, is distinguished from the question of accommodation, of whether we should interfere with such wrongdoing. Liberal doctrines of accommodation invoke the value of autonomy. A doctrine of toleration is proposed that is based instead on the value of civility, on the (non-instrumental) value of suppressing the public expression of disapproval. Civility is of value within various relationships, a point illustrated by an examination of friendship. This doctrine of tolerance as civility is needed to explain practices of toleration among illiberal peoples and it suggests a way of extending such practices to others who do not value personal autonomy.
|David Owens||PDF (364kb)|
Generics in Context
This paper has two central goals. The first is to argue for the metaphysical thesis that there is no such phenomenon as genericity, i.e., to argue for a form of eliminativism about genericity. The second is to defend a novel theory of generic sentences on which the unpronounced quantifier expression Gen is an indexical. An important feature of the view is that much of what has appeared to be semantic work is moved into the metasemantics. Rather than create very complex semantic clauses (or construe other complex notions as constitutive of genericity), the proposal is that those complexities are best dealt with in a metasemantic theory. Many of the puzzles which plague theories of generics are treated as instances of more general puzzles having to do with metasemantics and implicit, context-sensitive communication.
|Rachel Katharine Sterken||PDF (574kb)|
The Absence of Reference in Hobbes’ Philosophy of Language
Against the dominant view in contemporary Hobbes scholarship, I argue that Hobbes’ philosophy of language implicitly denies that linguistic expressions (names) refer to anything. I defend this thesis both textually, in light of what Hobbes actually said, and contextually, in light of Hobbes’ desertion of the vocabulary of suppositio, which was prevalent in semantics leading up to Hobbes. Hobbes explained away the apparent fact of linguistic reference via a reductive analysis: the relation between words and things wholly reduces to a composite of the relation of signification between words and conceptions on the one hand, and the relation of representation between conceptions and things on the other. Intentionality, for Hobbes, accrues to conceptions, not words.
|Arash Abizadeh||PDF (439kb)|
Prospects for an Expressivist Theory of Meaning
Advocates of Expressivism about basically any kind of language are best-served by abandoning a traditional content-centric approach to semantic theorizing, in favor of an update-centric or dynamic approach (or so this paper argues). The type of dynamic approach developed here — in contrast to the content-centric approach — is argued to yield canonical, if not strictly classical, "explanations" of the core semantic properties of the connectives. (The cases on which I focus most here are negation and disjunction.) I end the paper by describing a distinctive sense in which mental states might play a fundamental role in the practice of semantic theorizing (as I understand it), and I connect this to a distinctive account of the pragmatic function of, e.g., a normatively laden claim in discourse.
|Nate Charlow||PDF (375kb)|
Talking with Tonkers
Unrestricted inferentialism holds both that (i) any collection of inference rules can determine a meaning for an expression and (ii) meaning constituting rules are automatically valid. Prior's infamous tonk connective refuted unrestricted inferentialism, or so it is universally thought. This paper argues against this consensus. I start by formulating the metasemantic theses of inferentialism with more care than they have hitherto received; I then consider a tonk language — Tonklish — and argue that the unrestricted inferentialist's treatment of this language is only problematic if it is mistakenly assumed that Tonklish can be homophonically translated into English. Next, I discuss the proper, non-homophonic, translation of Tonklish into English, rebut various objections, and consider several variants of Tonklish. The paper closes by highlighting the philosophical advantages that unrestricted inferentialism has over its competitors once the terrors of tonk have been tamed.
|Jared Warren||PDF (304kb)|
Constraint and Freedom in the Common Law
This paper contributes to our formal understanding of the common law — especially the nature of the reasoning involved, but also its point, or justification, in terms of social coordination. I present two apparently distinct models of constraint by precedent in the common law, establish their equivalence, and argue for a perspective according to which courts are best thought of, not as creating and modifying rules, but as generating a social priority ordering on reasons through a procedure that is piecemeal, distributed, and responsive to particular circumstances.
|John Horty||PDF (257kb)|
Courage and the Spirited Part of the Soul in Plato’s Republic
In this paper I examine the account of courage offered in Books 3 and 4 of the Republic and consider its relation to the account of courage and cowardice found in the final argument of the Protagoras. I defend two main lines of thought. The first is that in the Republic Plato does not (contrary to a standard line of interpretation) abandon the Protagoras’ view that all cases of cowardice involve mistaken judgment or ignorance about what is fearful. Rather, he continues to treat cowardly behavior as an indication that, at least at the time of action, the agent lacked correct belief about what is best and least fearful. The evidence for this view will include an argument that what it means for the thumoeides to ‘preserve what is announced by rational accounts’ in the Republic is for it to prevent the fluctuation or corruption of reasoning under the deceptive influence of appetite. Second, I will argue that the Protagoras anticipates this account of courage in important ways. In particular, it draws attention to the problematic instability of belief and adumbrates the need for something like the spirited element of our psychology. According to my interpretation, the Republic’s account of courage is an elaboration or supplementation of the Protagoras’ account, rather than a rejection of it.
|Josh Wilburn||PDF (570kb)|
Kant, the Paradox of Knowability, and the Meaning of ‘Experience’
It is often claimed that anti-realism is a form of transcendental idealism or that Kant is an anti-realist. It is also often claimed that anti-realists are committed to some form of knowability principle and that such principles have problematic consequences. It is therefore natural to ask whether Kant is so committed, and if he is, whether this leads him into difficulties. I argue that a standard reading of Kant does indeed have him committed to the claim that all empirical truths are knowable and that this claim entails that there is no empirical truth that is never known. I extend the result to a priori truths and draw some general philosophical lessons from this extension. However, I then propose a re-examination of Kant’s notion of experience according to which he carefully eschews any commitment to empirical knowability. Finally I respond to a remaining problem that stems from a weaker, justified believability principle.
|Andrew Stephenson||PDF (601kb)|
Deontic Modality and the Semantics of Choice
I propose a unified solution to two puzzles: Ross's puzzle (the apparent failure of 'ought φ' to entail 'ought [φ or ψ]') and free choice permission (the apparent fact that 'may [φ or ψ]' entails both 'may φ' and 'may ψ'). I begin with a pair of cases from the decision theory literature illustrating the phenomenon of act dependence, where what an agent ought to do depends on what she does. The notion of permissibility distilled from these cases forms the basis for my analysis of 'may' and 'ought'. This framework is then combined with a generalization of the classical semantics for disjunction — equivalent to Boolean disjunction on the diagonal, but with a different two-dimensional character — that explains the puzzling facts in terms of semantic consequence.
|Melissa Fusco||PDF (166kb)|
In their theories of know how, proponents of Intellectualism routinely appeal to ‘practical modes of presentation’. But what are practical modes of presentation? And what makes them distinctively practical? In this essay, I develop a Fregean account of practical modes of presentation: I argue that there are such things as practical senses and I give a theory of what they are. One of the challenges facing the proponent of a distinctively Fregean construal of practical modes of presentation is to provide an account of their nature on which they are plausible qua Fregean senses. I take up this challenge, arguing that we find examples of practical senses in the semantic values assigned to programs by operational semantics for programming languages. By looking at a species of practical senses, we will have taken one important step towards legitimizing the genus. In particular, I show that certain features of operational semantic values can be generalized towards a comprehensive theory of practical senses. The upshot is a full-fledged account of what practical senses are, which can be put to use in an explanatory theory of know how.
|Carlotta Pavese||PDF (248kb)|
Future-Bias and Practical Reason
Nearly everyone prefers pain to be in the past rather than the future. This seems like a rationally permissible preference. But I argue that appearances are misleading, and that future-biased preferences are in fact irrational. My argument appeals to trade-offs between hedonic experiences and other goods. I argue that we are rationally required to adopt an exchange rate between a hedonic experience and another type of good that stays fixed, regardless of whether the hedonic experience is in the past or future.
|Tom Dougherty||PDF (445kb)|
The Tale of Bella and Creda
Some philosophers defend the view that epistemic agents believe by lending credence. Others defend the view that such agents lend credence by believing. It can strongly appear that the disagreement between them is notational, that nothing of substance turns on whether we are agents of one sort or the other. But that is demonstrably not so. Only one of these types of epistemic agent, at most, could manifest a human-like configuration of attitudes; and it turns out that not both types of agent are possible.
|Scott Sturgeon||PDF (393kb)|
On Indicative And Subjunctive Conditionals
At the center of the literature on conditionals lies the division between indicative and subjunctive conditionals, and Ernest Adams’ famous minimal pair: (1) If Oswald didn’t shoot Kennedy, someone else did. (2) If Oswald hadn’t shot Kennedy, someone else would have. While a lot of attention is paid to figuring out what these different kinds of conditionals mean, significantly less attention has been paid to the question of why their grammatical differences give rise to their semantic differences. In this paper, I articulate and defend an answer to this question that illuminates and unifies the meanings of both kinds of conditionals. The basic idea is that epistemic and metaphysical possibilities differ with respect to their interaction with time, such that there can be present epistemic possibilities with different pasts, while present metaphysical possibilities share the same past. The interpretation of conditionals is subject to a pragmatic constraint that rules out interpretations in which their consequents are directly settled by information used to build their domains. The past + future morphology on subjunctives, but not indicatives, is what allows them to receive a metaphysical interpretation in light of this pragmatic constraint. The resulting theory predicts several surprising features of indicatives and subjunctives, which I argue are correct.
|Justin Khoo||PDF (380kb)|
Kant and the object of determinate experience
On an influential view, Newton's mechanics is built into Kant's very theory of exact knowledge. However, Newtonian dynamics had serious explanatory limits already known by 1750. Thus we might worry that Kant's Analytic is too narrow to ground enough exact knowledge. In this paper, I draw on Enlightenment dynamics to show that Kant's notion of determinate objecthood is sufficiently broad, non-trivial, and still relevant to the present.
|Marius Stan||PDF (542kb)|
Imaginative and Fictionality Failure: A Normative Approach
If a work of literary fiction prescribes us to imagine that the Devil made a bet with God and transformed into a poodle, then that claim is true in the fiction and we imagine accordingly. Generally, we cooperate imaginatively with literary fictions, however bizarre, and the things authors write into their stories become true in the fiction. But for some claims, such as moral falsehoods, this seems not to be straightforwardly the case, which raises the question: Why not? The puzzles such cases raise are sometimes grouped under the heading “imaginative resistance”. In this paper, I argue against what I take to be the best attempts to (a) dismiss the puzzles and (b) solve them. I also tease out subtleties not sufficiently addressed in the existing literature and end by defending a unified solution of my own. According to this solution, the puzzling phenomena occur when literary works offer inadequate and exhaustive grounds for claims. The solution’s novelty lies in its giving a normative rather than psychological or alethic explanation for the puzzling phenomena, the relevant norms being those of proper artistic appreciation.
|Nils-Hennes Stear||PDF (408kb)|
Leibniz and the Art of Exoteric Writing
In this paper I provide a comprehensive account of Leibniz's important but neglected distinction between the esoteric and the exoteric. I argue that Leibniz distinguished between esoteric and exoteric modes of presentation, and esoteric and exoteric content. He endorsed the esoteric mode, which was modeled on the geometrical model of demonstration, as the ideal mode of presentation in metaphysics. However, he thought it would be a mistake to introduce his metaphysics to people in the form of an esoteric treatise. This was not due to a problem with the esoteric mode per se. The problem stemmed from the gap between the esoteric content of his metaphysics and the received views of his time, particularly those that were grounded in what he regarded as sensory prejudices. This misguided reliance on the senses made it extremely difficult for people to conceive of the purely intelligible concepts and principles at the core of his metaphysics. Leibniz used pedagogical exoteric writing to compose texts that could function as intellectual stepping-stones that would enable his readers traverse the gulf between received opinions and esoteric truth. I isolate the key rhetorical strategies that Leibniz utilized in his pedagogical exoteric writing, and explain how one can develop principled esoteric/exoteric interpretations of his writings. Awareness of his nuanced views on the esoteric and the exoteric will allow us to more adequately address central questions in Leibniz scholarship about the extent to which his views change over time, about whether he attains considered views on particular topics, and about the extent to which his philosophy is systematic.
|John Whipple||PDF (553kb)|