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Interventions in Premise Semantics
This paper investigates what happens when we merge two different lines of theorizing about counterfactuals. One is the comparative closeness view, which was developed by Stalnaker and Lewis in the framework of possible worlds semantics. The second is the interventionist view, which is part of the causal models framework developed in statistics and computer science. Common lore and existing literature have it that the two views can be easily fit together, aside from a few details. I argue that, on the contrary, transplanting causal-models-inspired ideas in a possible worlds framework yields a new semantics. The difference is grounded in different algorithms for handling inconsistent information, hence it touches on issues that are at the very heart of a semantics for contrary-to-fact conditionals. Roughly, Stalnaker/Lewis semantics requires us to evaluate the consequent of a counterfactual at all closest antecedent-verifying possibilities. Causal-models-based semantics also does this, but in addition uses the information contained in the antecedent, together with background causal information, to shift what worlds count as closest. This makes systematically different predictions and generates a new logic. The upshot is that we have a new semantics to study, and a substantial theoretical choice to make.
|Paolo Santorio||PDF (165kb)|
Merleau-Ponty and Naïve Realism
This paper has two aims. The first is to use contemporary discussions of naïve realist theories of perception to offer an interpretation of Merleau-Ponty’s theory of perception. The second is to use consideration of Merleau-Ponty’s theory of perception to outline a distinctive version of a naïve realist theory of perception. In a Merleau-Pontian spirit, these two aims are inter-dependent.
|Keith Allen||PDF (1.1mb)|
Are There Indefeasible Epistemic Rules?
What if your peers tell you that you should disregard your perceptions? Worse, what if your peers tell you to disregard the testimony of your peers? How should we respond if we get evidence that seems to undermine our epistemic rules? Several philosophers (e.g. Elga 2010, Titelbaum 2015) have argued that some epistemic rules are indefeasible. I will argue that all epistemic rules are defeasible. The result is a kind of epistemic particularism, according to which there are no simple rules connecting descriptive and normative facts. I will argue that this type of particularism is more plausible in epistemology than in ethics. The result is an unwieldy and possibly infinitely long epistemic rule — an Uber-rule. I will argue that the Uber-rule applies to all agents, but is still defeasible — one may get misleading evidence against it and rationally lower one’s credence in it.
|Darren Bradley||PDF (424kb)|
Groundwork for an Explanationist Account of Epistemic Coincidence
Many philosophers hold out hope that some final condition on knowledge will allow us to overcome the limitations of the classic "justified true belief" analysis. The most popular intuitive glosses on this condition frame it as an absence of epistemic coincidence (accident, luck). In this paper, I lay the groundwork for an explanationist account of epistemic coincidence—one according to which, roughly, beliefs are non-coincidentally true if and only if they bear the right sort of explanatory relation to the truth. The paper contains both positive arguments for explanationism and negative arguments against its competitors: views that understand coincidence in terms of causal, modal, and/or counterfactual relations. But the relationship between these elements is tighter than typical. I aim to show not only that explanationism is independently plausible, and superior to its competitors, but also that it helps make sense of both the appeal and failings of those competitors.
|David Faraci||PDF (604kb)|
Hobbes's Laws of Nature in Leviathan as a Synthetic Demonstration: Thought Experiments and Knowing the Causes
The status of the laws of nature in Hobbes’s Leviathan has been a continual point of disagreement among scholars. Many agree that since Hobbes claims that civil philosophy is a science, the answer lies in an understanding of the nature of Hobbesian science more generally. In this paper, I argue that Hobbes’s view of the construction of geometrical figures sheds light upon the status of the laws of nature. In short, I claim that the laws play the same role as the component parts – what Hobbes calls the “cause” – of geometrical figures. To make this argument, I show that in both geometry and civil philosophy, Hobbes proceeds by a method of synthetic demonstration as follows: 1) offering a thought experiment by privation; 2) providing definitions by explication of “simple conceptions” within the thought experiment; and 3) formulating generative definitions by making use of those definitions by explication. In just the same way that Hobbes says that the geometer should “put together” the parts of a square to learn its cause, I argue that the laws of nature are the cause of peace.
|Marcus P. Adams||PDF (503kb)|
Autonomy Without Paradox: Kant, Self-Legislation and the Moral Law
Within Kantian ethics and Kant scholarship, it is widely assumed that autonomy consists in the self-legislation of the principle of morality (the Moral Law). In this paper, we challenge this view on both textual and philosophical grounds. We argue that Kant never unequivocally claims that the Moral Law is self-legislated and that he is not philosophically committed to this claim by his overall conception of morality. Instead, the idea of autonomy concerns only substantive moral laws (in the plural), such as the law that one ought not to lie. We argue that autonomy, thus understood, does not have the paradoxical features widely associated with it. Rather, our account highlights a theoretical option that has been neglected in the current debate on whether Kant is best interpreted as a realist or a constructivist, namely that the Moral Law is an a priori principle of pure practical reason that neither requires nor admits of being grounded in anything else.
|Pauline Kleingeld; Marcus Willaschek||PDF (407kb)|
The Artificial Virtues of Thought: Correctness and Cognition in Hume
In this essay, I discuss two familiar objections to Hume's account of cognition, focusing on his ability to give a satisfactory account of the more normative dimensions of thought and language use. In doing so, I argue that Hume’s implicit account of these issues is far richer than is normally assumed. In particular, I show that Hume’s account of convention-driven artificial virtues like justice also applies to the proper use of conventional public languages. I then use this connection between Hume’s conception of language and his moral theory to show how he can respond to a number of basic objections to his views. In doing so, I explore the sense in which human cognition is essentially linguistic, and so social, for Hume, as well as many other issues concerning the relationship between Hume’s philosophy of mind and language, his epistemology, and his ethics.
|Karl Schafer||PDF (428kb)|
The Metaphysics of Surfaces in Suárez and Descartes
In his discussions of the Eucharist, Descartes gives prominent place to the notion of the “surfaces” of bodies. Given this context, it may seem that his account of surfaces is of limited interest. However, I hope to show that such an account is in fact linked to a philosophically significant medieval debate over whether certain mathematical “indivisibles”, including surfaces, really exist in nature. Moreover, the particular emphasis in Descartes on the fact that surfaces are modes rather than parts of bodies bespeaks the influence of the later scholastic Francisco Suárez. However, in his own contribution to the medieval debate, Suárez refrained from identifying surfaces with modes, holding instead that they are special “constituents” of bodies that differ from the parts of which these bodies are composed. Two main conclusions derive from the comparison of the views of Suárez and Descartes on surfaces. The first is that Descartes’s “modal realist” account is in fact superior to the “moderate realist” account that Suárez offers, for reasons internal to Suárez’s own system. The second is that Suárez’s reasons for refraining from adopting modal realism in this case serve to highlight a serious deficiency in Descartes’s version of this view. In this way, a consideration of the relevant Suárezian background allows us to better appreciate both the strengths and the weaknesses of Descartes’s stance on the metaphysics of surfaces.
|Tad M. Schmaltz||PDF (424kb)|
Natural Conventions and Indirect Speech Acts
In this paper, we develop the notion of a natural convention, and illustrate its usefulness in a detailed examination of indirect requests in English. Our treatment of convention is grounded in Lewis’s (1969) seminal account; we do not here redefine convention, but rather explore the space of possibilities within Lewis’s definition, highlighting certain types of variation that Lewis de-emphasized. Applied to the case of indirect requests, which we view through a Searlean lens, the notion of natural convention allows us to give a nuanced answer to the question: Are indirect requests conventional? In conclusion, we reflect on the consequences of our view for the understanding of the semantics/pragmatics divide.
|Mandy Simons; Kevin J. S. Zollman||PDF (640kb)|
Noncognitivism and Epistemic Evaluations
This paper develops a new challenge for moral noncognitivism. In brief, the challenge is this: Beliefs — both moral and non-moral — are epistemically evaluable, whereas desires are not. It is tempting to explain this difference in terms of differences in the functional roles of beliefs and desires. However, this explanation stands in tension with noncognitivism, which maintains that moral beliefs have a desire-like functional role. After critically reviewing some initial responses to the challenge, I suggest a solution, which involves rethinking the functional relationship between desire and belief.
|Bob Beddor||PDF (251kb)|
Nietzsche on Nihilism: A Unifying Thread
Nihilism is one of Nietzsche’s foremost philosophical concerns. But characterizing it proves elusive. Nihilists, antecedently, might seem to be those who have lost their sense that anything matters and fallen into existential despair. But for Nietzsche, Christianity itself is also a thoroughly nihilistic outlook, and it involves no such despair. Or take another example: It might seem that nihilists are life-negating, condemning the world and wanting, in some sense, to escape it. But what of the “last man,” utterly satisfied with the comforts of this world? This broad condition of nihilism comes in markedly different psychological guises, ranging from fervor, to contentment, to despair. What ties them together? Nihilism, on the view I elaborate here, centrally involves one’s being unmoored from the most important values, namely those values that confer a higher meaning on existence. Yet not just any values will do here, even among those (such as the values of Christianity) purporting to confer such a meaning. The values in question need (at least by Nietzsche’s lights) to be the right values, conferring the right meaning—values celebrating existence, not condemning it, and celebrating its higher aspects, not mere animal contentment and satisfaction. The unifying thread of Nietzschean nihilism, on my reading, in fact turns out to be structurally similar to the familiar idea of it that we get in a number of other 19th century thinkers and authors. Nihilism, for them, is a crisis involving coming unmoored from the most important values that give meaning to human life. Where Nietzsche differs from them is not in his account of what nihilism fundamentally is, but rather in his evaluative outlook, and the most important values he sees nihilists as having come unmoored from.
|Andrew Huddleston||PDF (386kb)|
Logical Pluralism and Logical Normativity
This paper explores an apparent tension between two widely held views about logic: that logic is normative and that there are multiple equally legitimate logics. The tension is this. If logic is normative, it tells us something about how we ought to reason. If, as the pluralist would have it, there are several correct logics, those logics make incompatible recommendations as to how we ought to reason. But then which of these logics should we look to for normative guidance? I argue that inasmuch as pluralism draws its motivation from its ability to defuse logical disputes---that is, disputes between advocates of rival logics---it is unable to provide an answer: pluralism collapses into monism with respect to either the strongest or the weakest admissible logic.
|Florian Steinberger||PDF (213kb)|
Method Pluralism, Method Mismatch, & Method Bias
Pluralism about scientific method is more-or-less accepted, but the consequences have yet to be drawn out. Scientists adopt different methods in response to different epistemic situations: depending on the system they are interested in, the resources at their disposal, and so forth. If it is right that different methods are appropriate in different situations, then mismatches between methods and situations are possible. This is most likely to occur due to method bias: when we prefer a particular kind of method, despite that method clashing with evidential context or our aims. To explore these ideas, we sketch a kind of method pluralism which turns on two properties of evidence, before using agent-based models to examine the relationship between methods, epistemic situations, and bias. Based on our results, we suggest that although method bias can undermine the efficiency of a scientific community, it can also be productive through preserving a diversity of evidence. We consider circumstances where method bias could be particularly egregious, and those where it is a potential virtue, and argue that consideration of method bias reveals that community standards deserve a central place in the epistemology of science.
|Adrian Currie; Shahar Avin||PDF (731kb)|
Markets, Interpersonal Practices, and Signal Distortion
Semiotic objections to market exchange of a good or service maintain that such exchanges signal an inappropriate attitude to the good or to associated individuals, and that this provides a weighty reason against having or participating in such markets. This style of argument has recently come under withering attack from Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski (2015a, 2015b). They point out that the significance of any market exchange is explained by a contingent semiotic norm. Given the tremendous value that could be realised by markets in, for instance, bone marrow, or kidneys, deferring to such norms across the board would have very significant opportunity costs. In the absence of any rationale for these norms, they should be ignored completely. We provide one important rationale. Unlike many semiotic objections to markets, we provide a broadly consequentialist semiotic argument. We argue that a range of behaviours play important signalling roles in interpersonal social practices; in particular, in practices involving caring, esteem, and testimony. Markets in these behaviours would distort these signals. Moreover, many of the productive advantages yielded by markets rely in turn on positive market norms that also inhibit the signalling behaviours associated with these non-market behaviours. We conclude that there will inevitably be trade-offs between the distributive advantages of new markets and these interpersonal social practices.
|Barry Maguire; Brookes Brown||PDF (385kb)|
Pragmatic Encroachment and the Challenge from Epistemic Injustice
I present a challenge to epistemological pragmatic encroachment theories from epistemic injustice. The challenge invokes the idea that a knowing subject may be wronged by being regarded as lacking knowledge due to social identity prejudices. However, in an important class of such cases, pragmatic encroachers appear to be committed to the view that the subject does not know. Hence, pragmatic encroachment theories appear to be incapable of accounting for an important type of injustice – namely, discriminatory epistemic injustice. Consequently, pragmatic encroachment theories run the risk of obscuring or even sanctioning epistemically unjust judgments that arise due to problematic social stereotypes or unjust folk epistemological biases. In contrast, the epistemological view that rejects pragmatic encroachment – namely, strict purist invariantism – is capable of straightforwardly diagnosing the cases of discriminatory epistemic injustice as such. While the challenge is not a conclusive one, it calls for a response. Moreover, it illuminates very different conceptions of epistemology’s role in mitigating epistemic injustice.
|Mikkel Gerken||PDF (415kb)|
Risk and Motivation: When the Will is Required to Determine What to Do
Within philosophy of action, there are three broad views about what, in addition to beliefs, answer the question of “what to do?” and so determine an agent’s motivation: desires (Humeanism), judgments about values/reasons (rationalism), or states of the will, such as intentions (volitionalism). We argue that recent work in decision theory vindicates the volitionalist. “What to do?” isn’t settled by “what do I value” or “what reasons are there?” Rational motivation further requires determining how to trade off the possibility of a good outcome against the possibility of a bad one—i.e., determining how much of a risk to take. The risk attitudes that embody this tradeoff seem best understood as intentions: as self-governing policies to weight desires or reasons in certain ways. That we need to settle our risk attitudes before making most decisions corroborates Bratman’s claim that self-governing policies are required for resolving impasses of evaluative and normative underdetermination. Moreover, far from being rare or confined to tie-breakings, cases that are underdetermined but for one’s risk attitudes are typical of everyday decision-making. The will is required for most rational action.
|Dylan Murray; Lara Buchak||PDF (365kb)|
Fanaticism and Sacred Values
What, if anything, is fanaticism? Philosophers including Locke, Hume, Shaftesbury, and Kant offered an account of fanaticism, analyzing it as (1) unwavering commitment to an ideal, together with (2) unwillingness to subject the ideal (or its premises) to rational critique and (3) the presumption of a non-rational sanction for the ideal. In the first part of the paper, I explain this account and argue that it does not succeed: among other things, it entails that a paradigmatically peaceful and tolerant individual can be a fanatic. The following sections argue that the fanatic is distinguished by four features: (4) the adoption of sacred values; (5) the need to treat these values as unconditional and unquestionable in order to preserve a particular form of psychic unity; (6) the sense that the status of these values is threatened by lack of widespread acceptance; and (7) the identification with a group, where the group is defined by shared commitment to the sacred values. If the account succeeds, it not only reveals the nature of fanaticism, but also uncovers a distinctive form of ethical critique: we can critique a way of understanding values not on the grounds that it is false, but on the grounds that it promotes a particular form of social pathology.
|Paul Katsafanas||PDF (441kb)|
How to Avoid Maximizing Expected Utility
The lesson to be learned from the paradoxical St. Petersburg game and Pascal’s Mugging is that there are situations where expected utility maximizers will needlessly end up (with high probability) poor and on death’s door, and hence we should not be expected utility maximizers. Instead, when it comes to decision-making, for possibilities that have very small probabilities of occurring, we should discount those probabilities down to zero, regardless of the utilities associated with those possibilities.
|Bradley Monton||PDF (464kb)|
Basic Action and Practical Knowledge
It is a commonplace in philosophy of action that there is and must be teleologically basic action: something done on an occasion without doing it by means of doing anything else. It is widely believed that basic actions are exercises of skill. As the source of the need for basic action is the structure of practical reasoning, this yields a conception of skill and practical reasoning as complementary but mutually exclusive. On this view, practical reasoning and complex intentional action depend on skill and basic action, but the latter pair are not themselves rationally structured: the movements a basic action comprises are not intentional actions, and they are not structured as means to an end. However, Michael Thompson and Douglas Lavin have argued that action that bears no inner rational structure is not intentional action at all, and that therefore there can be no such thing as basic action. In this paper, I argue that their critique shows that standard conceptions of basic action are indeed untenable, but not that we can do without an alternative. I develop an alternative conception of skill and basic action on which their basicness is not to be equated with simplicity: like deliberation and non-basic action, they are teleologically complex, but their complexity takes a different form. On this view, skill contrasts with deliberation—not because it is not a manifestation of practical reason, but because the two are specifically different manifestations of practical reason.
|Will Small||PDF (453kb)|
The Essential Non-Indexical
The aim of this paper is to argue that our non-first-personal ways of thinking of ourselves – those we would naturally express in language without using first person pronouns – are just as important to our agency as our indexical ways of thinking of ourselves. They are just important in different ways. Specifically, I argue that a thinker who is systematically excluded from these non-first-personal modes of self-directed thought would be excluded from participation in some of the domains of agency we value most as part of a full human life: the domains of agency associated with our social identities.
|Léa Salje||PDF (462kb)|
William King on Free Will
William King's De Origine Mali (1702) contains an interesting, sophisticated, and original account of free will. King finds 'necessitarian' theories of freedom, such as those advocated by Hobbes and Locke, inadequate, but argues that standard versions of libertarianism commit one to the claim that free will is a faculty for going wrong. On such views, free will is something we would be better off without. King argues that both problems can be avoided by holding that we confer value on objects by valuing them. Such a view secures sourcehood and alternative possibilities while denying that free will is simply a capacity to choose contrary to our best judgment. This theory escapes all of the objections levelled against it by Leibniz and also has interesting consequences for ethics: although constructed within a eudaimonist framework, King's theory gives rise to a very strong moral requirement of respect for individual self-determination.
|Kenneth L. Pearce||PDF (162kb)|
Virtue and the Problem of Conceptualization
According to an influential family of views, agents are virtuous when and because they possess the correct attitudes towards the actual good and bad. But there are multiple ways of conceptualizing the actual good and bad, and attitudes towards some conceptualizations of the good and bad seem to be irrelevant to moral character. It is deceptively difficult to provide a theoretical rationale for distinguishing between those conceptualizations of the good and bad that seem to be relevant and those that do not: I argue that a previous attempt to provide such a rationale fails, as do a number of seemingly promising alternatives. This problem merits further attention not only because it shows that certain theoretical accounts of character are incomplete, but because it is likely to interfere with our ability to evaluate certain real-world agents, who care about the actual good conceptualized in certain ways but not in others. Since a generalized version of the problem of conceptualization also affects other “intrinsic” accounts of virtue and vice, I argue that we must either solve this problem or abandon such accounts.
|Sean Clancy||PDF (416kb)|
Imprecise Chance and the Best System Analysis
Much recent philosophical attention has been devoted to the prospects of the Best System Analysis (BSA) of chance for yielding high-level chances, including statistical mechanical and special science chances. But a foundational worry about the BSA lurks: there don’t appear to be uniquely correct measures of the degree to which a system exhibits theoretical virtues, such as simplicity, strength, and fit. Nor does there appear to be a uniquely correct exchange rate at which the theoretical virtues trade off against one another in the determination of an overall best system. I argue that there’s no robustly best system for our world – no system that comes out best under every reasonable measure of the theoretical virtues and exchange rate between them – but rather a set of ‘tied-for-best’ systems: a set of very good systems, none of which is robustly best. Among the tied-for-best systems are systems that entail differing high-level probabilities. I argue that the advocate of the BSA should conclude that the high-level chances for our world are imprecise.
|Luke Fenton-Glynn||PDF (412kb)|
Kant on Aesthetic Autonomy and Common Sense
Recently, Kant’s account of aesthetic autonomy has received attention from those interested in a range of issues in aesthetics, including the subjectivity of aesthetic judgment, quasi-realism, aesthetic testimony, and aesthetic normativity. Although these discussions have shed much light on the implications of Kant’s account of aesthetic autonomy, the phenomenon of aesthetic autonomy itself tends to be under-described. Commentators often focus on the negative aspect of this phenomenon, i.e., the sense in which an aesthetic judgment cannot be grounded on the testimony of others. However, on Kant’s view, autonomy is a positive phenomenon, something that involves self-determination and self-legislation. My aim in this paper is to clarify this positive aspect of Kantian aesthetic autonomy. In order to defend my interpretation of aesthetic autonomy, I appeal to another key concept in Kant’s aesthetics, viz., ‘common sense’. I claim that, for Kant, aesthetic common sense, which we acquire through aesthetic education, is what makes aesthetic self-determination and self-legislation, hence aesthetic autonomy, possible.
|Samantha Matherne||PDF (439kb)|
Honesty, Humility, Courage, & Strength: Later Wittgenstein on the Difficulties of Philosophy and the Philosophical Virtues
What qualities do we need in order to be good philosophers? Wittgenstein insists that virtues of character – such as honesty, humility, courage, and strength – are more important for our philosophizing than the relevant intellectual talents and skills. These virtues are essential because doing good philosophy demands both knowing and overcoming the deep-seated desires and inclinations which lead us astray in our thinking, and achieving such self-knowledge and self-overcoming demands all of these virtues working in concert. In this paper I draw together many of Wittgenstein’s seemingly offhanded remarks on these issues in order to reconstruct his understanding of philosophy’s ‘difficulties of the will’ and the virtues needed to overcome them.
|Gabriel Citron||PDF (573kb)|
Pythagoreanism: A Number of Theories
Pythagoreanism, the claim that ‘all is number’, is rarely taken seriously these days as a candidate for the sober metaphysical truth. This is a mistake. I distinguish various versions of Pythagoreanism. Some such versions are unmotivated, some are subject to serious objections, and some are both. But, I argue, there is a robust version of Pythagoreanism—according to which there is a true theory whose ontology and ideology are wholly mathematical from which every truth follows—that is both well-motivated and not subject to any serious objection. Given that fact, Pythagoreanism ought to be a serious metaphysical contender.
|Aaron Segal||PDF (185kb)|
Francisco Suárez on Beings of Reason and Non-Strict Ontological Pluralism
For Francisco Suárez, beings of reason are non-existent objects that we can think about, objects like goat-stags and round squares. The first section of the fifty-fourth of Suárez’s Metaphysical Disputations is about the ontological status of beings of reason. Suárez’s view has been the subject of disagreement in the literature because he sometimes says that there are beings of reason, and he sometimes says there are not. In this paper, I argue for and explain an ontological pluralist reading of Suárez. Ontological pluralism is the claim that there is more than one way of being. I distinguish between two varieties of ontological pluralism, strict and non-strict, and argue that Suárez endorsed the latter. In the contemporary literature, it is sometimes alleged that ontological pluralism is an idle hypothesis, unintelligible or philosophically vacuous. I argue that Suárez has a response to this objection in his argument against ontological monism.
|Brian Embry||PDF (435kb)|
Logic Through a Leibnizian Lens
Leibniz's conceptual containment theory says that singular propositions of the form a is F are true when the complete concept of being a contains the concept of being F. In this paper, I provide a new semantics for first-order logic built around this idea. The semantics resolves longstanding problems for Leibniz's theory and can represent, without possible worlds, both hyperintensional distinctions among properties and a certain kind of presumably impossible situation that standard approaches cannot represent. The semantics also captures the strong soundness and completeness of classical first-order logic.
|Craig Warmke||PDF (1.0mb)|
Learning and Value Change
Accuracy-first accounts of rational learning attempt to vindicate the intuitive idea that, while rationally-formed belief need not be true, it is nevertheless likely to be true. To this end, they attempt to show that the Bayesian’s rational learning norms are a consequence of the rational pursuit of accuracy. Existing accounts fall short of this goal, for they presuppose evidential norms which are not and cannot be vindicated in terms of the single-minded pursuit of accuracy. I propose an alternative account, according to which learning experiences rationalize changes in the way you value accuracy, which in turn rationalizes changes in belief. I show that this account is capable of vindicating the Bayesian’s rational learning norms in terms of the single-minded pursuit of accuracy, so long as accuracy is rationally valued.
|J. Dmitri Gallow||PDF (135kb)|
Imagination: A Lens, Not a Mirror
The terms "imagination'' and "imaginative'' can be readily applied to a profusion of attitudes, experiences, activities, and further phenomena. The heterogeneity of the things to which they're applied prompts the thoughts that the terms are polysemous, and that there is no single, coherent, fruitful conception of imagination to be had. Nonetheless, much recent work on imagination ascribes implicitly to a univocal way of thinking about imaginative phenomena: the imitation theory, according to which imaginative experiences imitate other experiences. This approach is infelicitous. It issues in unhelpful descriptions of imaginative activities, experiences, and attitudes, and frustrates theorizing about imagination's applications and intensional characteristics. A better way of thinking about imagination is the lens theory, according to which the imagination is a set of ways to focus, refine, clarify or concentrate the matter of other experiences. This approach offers better characterizations of imaginative phenomena, and promises brighter theoretical illumination of them.
|Nick Wiltsher||PDF (161kb)|
Reid's Doxastic Theory of Perception
Reid endorsed a doxastic theory of perception, on which beliefs are constituents of perceptual experiences. This theory faces the problem of known illusions: we can perceive that p while believing that not-p. Some scholars argue that the problem of known illusions and other problems entail that Reid’s view cannot be charitably interpreted as a doxastic theory. This paper explores Reid’s theoretical commitments with respect to belief acquisition and uses textual evidence to show that his theory is genuinely doxastic. It then argues that a Reidian response to the problem of known illusions can be formulated by appeal to the thesis that perceptual beliefs are formed noninferentially. Reid can also resist the intuition that we lack illusory beliefs in known-illusion cases given his independent reasons for doubting our capacity to identify perceptual beliefs by introspection. The paper then surveys other problems raised in the secondary literature and argues that none decisively undermine the doxastic interpretation of Reid.
|Jake Quilty-Dunn||PDF (327kb)|
Between Anarchism and Suicide: On William James's Religious Therapy
William James’s religious writing displays a therapeutic concern for two key social problems: an epidemic of suicide among educated Victorians who worried (he thought) that a scientific worldview left no room for God; and material poverty and bleak employment prospects for others. James sought a conception of God that would therapeutically comfort his melancholic peers while also girding them to fight for better social conditions—a fight he associated with political anarchism. What is perhaps most unique about James’s approach to religion emerges when we consider the relationship of his therapeutic project to his treatment of religious epistemology. For James took his suicidal peers to need more than tea and sympathy. They needed to be convinced, through rational argument, that religious faith is epistemically permissible in light of their methodological naturalism. That is to say that theoretic success in James’s treatment of religion is to be measured by therapeutic success. His argument for epistemic permissibility began by treating religious faith as a “hypothesis.” He took naturalism to permit entertaining a hypothesis just in case it is testable, and not contravened by available evidence. So he developed a distinctive conception of God—what he called the “pluralistic hypothesis”—that proposed a plurality of independent entities in the universe, only one of which is God. In contrast to the monistic hypothesis (roughly what we would call “pantheism”), pluralism is empirically testable in principle. But crucially, the hypothesis is underdetermined by any evidence available now. This purported, in-principle testability would make religious pluralism epistemically permissible to entertain (and so potentially a source of consolation for the scientifically educated). And since salvation is possible on this view without being guaranteed, the pluralistic hypothesis stands to discourage social and political quietism (and so it is also a potential spur to fight material poverty).
|Alexander Klein||PDF (398kb)|
Ground and Explanation in Mathematics
This paper explores whether there is any relation between mathematical proofs that specify the grounds of the theorem being proved and mathematical proofs that explain why the theorem obtains. The paper argues that a mathematical fact’s grounds do not, simply by virtue of grounding it, thereby explain why that fact obtains. It argues that oftentimes, a proof specifying a mathematical fact’s grounds fails to explain why that fact obtains whereas any explanation of the fact does not specify its ground. The paper offers several examples from mathematical practice to illustrate these points. These examples suggest several reasons why explaining and grounding tend to come apart, including that explanatory proofs need not exhibit purity, tend not to be brute force, and often unify separate cases by identifying common reasons behind them even when those cases have distinct grounds. The paper sketches an account of what makes a proof explanatory and uses that account to defend the morals drawn from the examples already given.
|Marc Lange||PDF (544kb)|
Two Feelings in the Beautiful: Kant on the Structure of Judgments of Beauty
In this paper, I propose a solution to a notorious puzzle that lies at the heart of Kant’s Critique of Judgment. The puzzle arises because Kant asserts two apparently conflicting claims: (1) F→J: A judgment of beauty is aesthetic, i.e., grounded in feeling. (2) J→F: A judgment of beauty could not be based on and must ground the feeling of pleasure in the beautiful. I argue that (1) and (2) are consistent. Kant’s text indicates that he distinguishes two feelings: the feeling of the harmony of the cognitive faculties that is the ground of judgments of beauty (F1 → J), and the feeling of pleasure that is its consequence (J → F2). I develop and defend a view of Kant’s account of the structure of judgments of beauty that incorporates this crucial distinction. Next, I argue that my view resolves another long-standing problem for Kant’s “Deduction” of judgments of beauty: it allows him to claim that the harmony of the faculties is a condition of judgment in general without implying, absurdly, that all judgments are pleasurable.
|Janum Sethi||PDF (419kb)|
An Essentialist Theory of the Meaning of Slurs
In this paper, I develop an essentialist model of the semantics of slurs. I defend the view that slurs are a species of kind terms: Slur concepts encode mini-theories which represent an essence-like element that is causally connected to a set of negatively-valenced stereotypical features of a social group. The truth-conditional contribution of slur nouns can then be captured by the following schema: For a given slur S of a social group G and a person P, S is true of P iff P bears the “essence” of G—whatever this essence is—which is causally responsible for stereotypical negative features associated with G and predicted of P. Since there is no essence that is causally responsible for stereotypical negative features of a social group, slurs have null-extension, and consequently, many sentences containing them are either meaningless or false. After giving a detailed outline of my theory, I show that it receives strong linguistic support. In particular, it can account for a wide range of linguistic cases that are regarded as challenging, central data for any theory of slurs. Finally, I show that my theory also receives convergent support from cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics.
|Eleonore Neufeld||PDF (592kb)|
Dispelling the Disjunction Objection to Explanatory Inference
Although inference to the best explanation (IBE) is ubiquitous in science and our everyday lives, there are numerous objections to the viability of IBE. Many of these objections have been thoroughly discussed, however, at least one objection to IBE has not received adequate treatment. We term this objection the “Disjunction Objection”. This objection challenges IBE on the grounds that it seems that even if H is the best explanation, it could be that the disjunction of its rivals is more likely to be true. As a result, IBE appears to license accepting a hypothesis that is more likely than not to be false. Despite these initial appearances, we argue that the Disjunction Objection fails to impugn IBE.
|Kevin McCain; Ted Poston||PDF (302kb)|
Two Conceptions of Phenomenology
The phenomenal particularity thesis says that if a mind-independent particular is consciously perceived in a given perception, that particular is among the constituents of the perception’s phenomenology. Martin, Campbell, Gomes and French and others defend this thesis. Against them are Mehta, Montague, Schellenberg and others, who have produced strong arguments that the phenomenal particularity thesis is false. Unfortunately, neither side has persuaded the other, and it seems that the debate between them is now at an impasse. This paper aims to break through this impasse. It argues that we have reached the impasse because two distinct conceptions of phenomenology—a “narrow” conception and a “broad” conception—are compatible with our what-it-is-like characterizations of phenomenology. It also suggests that each of these two conceptions has its own theoretical value and use. Therefore, the paper recommends a pluralistic position, on which we acknowledge that there are two kinds of phenomenology: narrow phenomenology (an entity conceived according to the narrow conception) and broad phenomenology (an entity conceived according to the broad conception). The phenomenal particularity thesis is true only with respect to the latter.
|Ori Beck||PDF (378kb)|
Self-Conscious Emotions Without a Self
Recent discussions of emotions in Buddhism suggest that one of the canonical self-conscious emotions, shame (the received translation of the Pāli term ‘hiri’), is an emotion to be endorsed and indeed cultivated. The canonical texts in the Abhidharma Buddhist tradition, endorse hiri as one of the wholesome (kusala) factors “always found in all good minds” and as one of “the guardians of the world”. Shame is widely taken to be a self-conscious emotion, and so if hiri counts as shame, this seems to be in tension with the central Buddhist claim that we should rid ourselves of the idea that there is a self. Buddhist moral education seems to promote an emotion that fundamentally presupposes something that Buddhist metaphysics fundamentally rejects: a self. This puzzle provides the motivation for our paper, and we will argue for a new understanding of hiri that also has implications for how we should think about one important “self-conscious” moral emotion, guilt. This puzzle about the Buddhist tradition also raises a basic philosophical question: What kinds of moral emotions are theoretically consistent with the denial of a self? We argue that anticipatory guilt might be such an emotion, and that it provides a plausible interpretation of hiri in key Buddhist texts.
|Monima Chadha; Shaun Nichols||PDF (562kb)|
Epistemic Diversity and Editor Decisions: A Statistical Matthew Effect
This paper offers a new angle on the common idea that the process of science does not support epistemic diversity. Under minimal assumptions on the nature of journal editing, we prove that editorial procedures, even when impartial in themselves, disadvantage less prominent research programs. This purely statistical bias in article selection further skews existing differences in the success rate and hence attractiveness of research programs, and exacerbates the reputation difference between the programs. After a discussion of the modeling assumptions, the paper ends with a number of recommendations that may help promote scientific diversity through editorial decision making.
|Remco Heesen; Jan-Willem Romeijn||PDF (322kb)|
Discrimination-Conduciveness and Observation Selection Effects
We conceptualize observation selection effects (OSEs) by considering how a shift from one process of observation to another affects discrimination-conduciveness, by which we mean the degree to which possible observations discriminate between hypotheses, given the observation process at work. OSEs in this sense come in degrees and are causal, where the cause is the shift in process, and the effect is a change in degree of discrimination-conduciveness. We contrast our understanding of OSEs with others that have appeared in the literature. After describing conditions of adequacy that an acceptable measure of degree of discrimination-conduciveness must satisfy, we use those conditions of adequacy to evaluate several possible measures. We also discuss how the effect of shifting from one observation process to another might be measured. We apply our framework to several examples, including the ravens paradox and the phenomenon of publication bias.
|William Roche; Elliott Sober||PDF (297kb)|
Amo on the Heterogeneity Problem
In this paper, I examine a heretofore ignored critic of Descartes on the heterogeneity problem: Anton Wilhelm Amo. Looking at Amo’s critique of Descartes reveals a very clear case of a thinker who attempts to offer a causal system that is not a solution to the mind-body problem, but rather that transcends it. The focus of my discussion is Amo’s 1734 dissertation: The Apathy [ἀπάθεια] of the Human Mind or The Absence of Sensation and the Faculty of Sense in the Human Mind and their Presence in our Organic and Living Body. Amo’s discussion of the interaction, or lack thereof, of the mind and body hinges on the essential feature he identifies for the human mind—apathy, that is, impassivity. In this work, Amo engages explicitly with Descartes’s writing, which allows us to more precisely see the nature of his agreement and disagreement with the Cartesian metaphysics of mind. I proceed by treating Amo’s five stated criteria for spirit-hood which, in turn, reveal the kinds of causal connections that are possible for embodied spirits on his view. My aim is threefold: (1) To lay out what I take to be Amo’s view of and arguments for the five criteria he takes to be required for a substance to be spirit. (2) To locate Amo’s agreement and disagreement with Descartes. (3) To suggest that Amo’s view on mind-body interaction involves a kind of occasional causation.
|Julie Walsh||PDF (377kb)|
Is Leibniz's Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles Necessary or Contingent?
The Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles (PII)—the principle that no two numerically distinct things are perfectly similar—features prominently in Leibniz’s metaphysics. Despite its centrality to his philosophical system, it is surprisingly difficult to determine what modal status Leibniz ascribes to the PII. On many occasions Leibniz appears to endorse the necessity of the PII. There are a number of passages,however (especially in his correspondence with Clarke), where Leibniz seems to imply that numerically distinct indiscernibles are possible, which suggests that he subscribes to a merely contingent version of the PII. In this paper I attempt to resolve this apparent inconsistency. I argue that Leibniz consistently takes the PII to be necessary and that this view of his shines through even in his correspondence with Clarke. I also show that competing interpretations, on which Leibniz’s PII is contingent, misread a number of crucial passages from this correspondence.
|Sebastian Bender||PDF (487kb)|
Spinoza on Intentionality, Materialism, and Mind-Body Relations
The paper examines a relatively neglected element of Spinoza's theory of mind-body relations: the intentional relation between human minds and bodies, which for Spinoza constitutes their “union”. Prima facie textual evidence suggests, and many readers agree, that because for Spinoza human minds are essentially ideas of bodies, Spinoza is also committed to an ontological and explanatory dependence of certain properties of human minds on properties of bodies, and thus to a version of materialism. The paper argues that such dependence would contradict Spinoza's key epistemological commitments, including the explanatory closure of mental and physical realms, and Spinoza’s claim that all knowledge is knowledge of a thing's causes. The paper argues that Spinoza's dual-reality theory of representation allows us to interpret the intentional relation between human minds and bodies in a way that does not commit Spinoza to a problematic dependence of minds on bodies. This is possible if we take Spinoza's references to properties of bodies in his account of the human mind as references to objectively real bodies (i.e. bodies-as-represented), that is as references to the immanent representational content of human minds.
|Karolina Hübner||PDF (455kb)|
Perennial Idealism: A Mystical Solution to the Mind-Body Problem
Each well-known proposed solution to the mind-body problem encounters an impasse. These take the form of an explanatory gap, such as the one between mental and physical, or between micro-subjects and macro-subject. The dialectical pressure to bridge these gaps is generating positions in which consciousness is becoming increasingly foundational. The most recent of these, cosmopsychism, typically casts the entire cosmos as a perspectival subject whose mind grounds those of more limited subjects like ourselves. I review the dialectic from materialism and dualism through to pan(cosmo)psychism, suggesting that explanatory gaps in the latter stem from assuming foundational consciousness to be perspectival. Its renunciation may yield the notion of an aperspectival, universal, “non-dual” consciousness that grounds all manifestation and is unstructured by subject, object or any differentia. Not only is such consciousness suggestive of a natural successor to cosmopsychism, but it has also been reported to be the direct experience of mystics who claim to have transcended the individual perspective. Their purported insight — that our aperspectival conscious nature is identical to the ground of all being — has been termed “the Perennial Philosophy”. Believing this Perennial Philosophy to offer the most promising way forward in the mind-body problem, I construct from it the foundations of a metaphysical system that I call “Perennial Idealism”. This attempts to account for manifestation in terms of dispositional, imagery-bound subjects. I then address an age-old “Parmenidean” conundrum that I refer to as “the problem of the one and the many”: How can an undifferentiated substratum ground differentia without the ground itself differentiating? The proposed solution takes its cue from mystico-philosophical writings in the Advaita Vedānta tradition, known as the ajāta doctrine.
|Miri Albahari||PDF (737kb)|
Normative Perfectionism and the Kantian Tradition
Perfectionism is an underexplored tradition, perhaps because of doubts about the grounds, content, and implications of perfectionist ideals. Aristotle, J.S. Mill, and T.H. Green are normative perfectionists, grounding perfectionist ideals in a normative conception of human nature involving personality or agency. This essay explores the prospects of normative perfectionism by examining Kant’s criticisms of the perfectionist tradition. First, Kant claims that the perfectionist can generate only hypothetical, not categorical, imperatives. But insofar as the normative perfectionist appeals to the normative category of personality or agency, rather than a biological category of humanity, it can represent perfectionist demands as categorical imperatives. Second, Kant accepts a moral asymmetry in which we aim at our own perfection but at the happiness, rather than the perfection, of others. However, the importance of autonomy in normative perfection explains why the perfectionist should recognize a self/other asymmetry. Indeed, when we see how the normative perfectionist can answer Kant’s criticisms while respecting Kant’s own claims about the connection between rational nature and moral requirements, we can see the basis for a normative perfectionist interpretation of Kant’s own ethical theory. Insofar as Kantians and normative perfectionists both base ethical demands on an appeal to rational nature, they face a common worry that the appeal to rational nature is empty or incomplete. Normative perfectionists have more and less concessive responses to this worry, providing perfectionist explanations of various apparently non-perfectionist goods. Even if we end up being pluralists about the good, perfectionist elements play an important role. Finally, because the normative perfectionist, like the Kantian, grounds its ideals and requirements in a conception of persons as rational agents, it provides a promising account of the rational authority of perfectionist demands. This comparison of normative perfectionist and Kantian essentials gives us reason to take the normative perfectionist tradition seriously.
|David O. Brink||PDF (515kb)|
Solidarity, Fate-Sharing, and Community
Solidarity is a widespread but under-explored phenomenon. In this paper, I give a philosophical account of solidarity, answering three salient questions: What motivates acts of solidarity? What unifies different acts into tokens of a single type of act, one of solidarity? And what values do acts of solidarity exhibit? The answer to all three, I argue, involves a certain way of relating to others: identifying with them on the basis of shared features, and identifying with the larger group that one and the others both belong to.
|Michael Zhao||PDF (323kb)|
Kant on Misology and the Natural Dialectic
Towards the conclusion of the First Section of the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant describes a process whereby a subject can undergo a kind of moral corruption. This process, which he calls a “natural dialectic”, can cause one to undermine one’s own or¬dinary grasp of the demands of morality. Kant also claims that this natural dialectic is the basis of the need for moral philosophy itself, since first-order moral reasoning is insufficient to protect against it. I show that this passage is closely related to another in the First Section, one where Kant warns against the threat of “misology”, or the hatred of reason. I argue that both these passages must be read as engaging with specific claims from Rousseau’s writings. Uncovering the historical context and rhetorical function of Kant’s account of moral self-deception can re-orient the reader to his ambitions for the Groundwork itself.
|John J. Callanan||PDF (477kb)|
Slurs Are Directives
Recent work on the semantics and pragmatics of slurs has explored a variety of ways of explaining their potential to derogate, with the most popular family of approaches appealing to either: (i), the doxastic or evaluative attitudes or commitments expressed by — or (ii), the propositions concerning such attitudes or commitments semantically or pragmatically communicated by — the speakers who use them. I begin by arguing that no such speaker-oriented approach can be correct. I then propose an alternative treatment of slurs, according to which they are semantically associated with both descriptive and directive content. On the view I defend, when speakers use slurs, they simultaneously propose to add an at-issue proposition to the conversational common ground and issue a not-at-issue directive to their interlocutors to adopt a derogatory perspective toward members of the targeted group. This proposal both avoids the problems faced by other accounts and opens up a novel way of thinking about the phenomenon of appropriation.
|Cameron Domenico Kirk-Giannini||PDF (237kb)|
The Intentional Structure of Moods
Moods are sometimes claimed to constitute an exception to the rule that mental phenomena are intentional (in the sense of representing something). In reaction, some philosophers have argued that moods are in fact intentional, but exhibit a special and unusual kind of intentionality: They represent the world as a whole, or everything indiscriminately, rather than some more specific object(s). In this paper, I present a problem for extant versions of this idea, then propose a revision that solves the problem but also entrains an important change in our understanding of the nature of moods—and indeed of the nature of mind. What emerges is an intentionalist account that emphasizes the role of attitude rather than content in determining the character of moods.
|Uriah Kriegel||PDF (399kb)|
Friendship, Trust and Moral Self-Perfection
This paper develops an account of moral friendship that both draws on and revises Kant’s conception of moral friendship for the purpose of explaining how trusting and being trusted in the way that Kant describes supports moral self-perfection beyond increased self-knowledge and refinement of judgment. I will argue that cultivation of the virtues of friendship is important to the pursuit of moral self-perfection, specifically with respect to combatting the unsociable side of our unsociable sociability. Reciprocal trust shelters the individual’s predisposition to goodness, which comes under attack by the passions in social relations wherein distrust is the default. Reciprocal trust also enables communion, the importance of which has been undervalued in analyses of moral self-perfection.
|Mavis Biss||PDF (372kb)|
From Biological Functions to Natural Goodness
Neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalism aims to place moral virtue in the natural world by showing that moral goodness is an instance of natural goodness—a kind of goodness supposedly also found in the biological realm of plants and non-human animals. One of the central issues facing neo-Aristotelian naturalists concerns their commitment to a kind of function ascription based on the concept of the flourishing of an organism that seems to have no place in modern biology. In this paper, I offer a novel defense of this functional commitment by appealing to the organizational account of biological function. I argue that the flourishing-based concept of function that forms the basis of the neo-Aristotelian account of natural goodness is explanatorily indispensable to biology, and therefore essential to the understanding of living things.
|Parisa Moosavi||PDF (411kb)|
Mary Shepherd on Causation, Induction, and Natural Kinds
In several early 19th century works, Mary Shepherd articulates a theory of causation that is intended to respond to Humean skepticism. I argue that Shepherd's theory should be read in light of the science of the day and her conception of her place in the British philosophical tradition. Reading Shepherd’s theory in light of her conception of the history of philosophy, including her claim to be the genuine heir of Locke, illuminates the broader significance of her attempt to reinstate reason as the source of scientific knowledge. Reading Shepherd's theory in light of the science of the day helps make plausible her claim that there are robust natural kinds in nature, defined by their causal powers: this is precisely what then-recent advances in chemistry hold.
|Antonia LoLordo||PDF (360kb)|
Race, Ideology, and the Communicative Theory of Punishment
This paper explores communicative punishment from a non-idealized perspective. I argue that, given the specific racial dynamics involved, and given the broader social and historical context in which they are embedded, American policing and punishment function as a form of racially derogatory discourse. Understood as communicative behavior, criminal justice activities express a commitment to a broader ideology. Given the facts about how the American justice system actually operates, and given its broader socio-political context, American carceral behaviors express a commitment to the same types of derogatory, subordinating anti-minority ideologies that are paradigmatically conveyed through racial slurs and similar forms of derogatory speech. Moreover, I argue, this derogatory meaning presents a significant obstacle to adequate criminal justice reform.
|Steven Swartzer||PDF (495kb)|
Like most theories in first order metaphysics, theories of persistence generally aim at metaphysically necessary truth. Consequently, those that accept proper temporal parts of material entities are maximally competitive only when they accord with the full range of metaphysically possible temporal mereological structures. Consider, for example, a structure in which every element is a proper temporal part of some others (temporal junk). The present essay argues that temporal junk plausibly is possible and that perdurantism, the thesis that material entities persist by having distinct proper temporal parts at distinct times, does not accord with it. The essay then outlines a novel four-dimensionalist theory of persistence that accommodates junk. On this theory, material entities persist not in virtue of possessing proper temporal parts, but rather in virtue of being grounded by certain pluralities of fundamental property instances over their careers, and by sub-pluralities thereof over corresponding sub-intervals of their careers. Accordingly, this way of persisting is dubbed ‘plurdurance’.
|Daniel Giberman||PDF (453kb)|