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01 Cudworth on Freewill

In his unpublished freewill manuscripts, Ralph Cudworth seeks to complete the project that he begins in The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678) by arguing for an account of human liberty that avoids the opposing poles of necessitarianism and indifferency. I argue that Cudworth’s account rests upon a crucial distinction between the will and the power of freewill. Whereas we necessarily will the greater apparent good, freewill is a more fundamental power by which we endeavour to discern the greater good before willing to pursue it. Cudworth thus opposes necessitarianism by arguing for a libertarian account of freewill while nonetheless rejecting the indifferentist claim that we can will contrary to the greater apparent good.

Matthew A. Leisinger PDF (586kb)
02 Modelling Temporal Assertions for Global Directional Eliminativists

Global directional eliminativists deny that there is any global direction to time. This paper provides a way to understand everyday temporal assertions — assertions made outside the physics or metaphysics rooms, the truth of which appears to require that time has a global direction — on the assumption that global directional eliminativism is true.

Naoyuki Kajimoto; Kristie Miller; James Norton PDF (403kb)
03 The Meaning of 'Life's Meaning'

Life’s meaning is a deeply important yet perplexing topic. It is often unclear what people are talking about when they talk about life having "meaning". This paper attempts to clarify things by articulating a schema for understanding claims about meaning. It defends a theory according to which X means Y iff Y is a correct interpretation of X—i.e., if Y is a correct answer to an interpretive question, Z. I argue that this (perhaps surprising) claim has impressive explanatory power. Applying this schema to life explains the many ways in which people seem to think and talk about life’s meaning, and common claims in the philosophical literature. It also makes sense of empirical findings from psychological research on perceived meaning in life.

Michael M. Prinzing PDF (364kb)
04 Does Identity Politics Reinforce Oppression?

Identity politics has been critiqued in various ways. One central problem — the Reinforcement Problem — claims that identity politics reinforces groups rooted in oppression, thereby undermining its own liberatory aims. Here I consider two versions of the problem — one psychological and one metaphysical. I defang the first by drawing on work in social psychology. I then argue that careful consideration of the metaphysics of social groups and of the practice of identity politics provides resources to dissolve the second version. Identity politics involves the creation or transformation of groups in ways that do not succumb to the metaphysical Reinforcement Problem.

Katherine Ritchie PDF (381kb)
05 On the Ultimate Origination of Things

Why does the universe exist rather than not exist? And why is it the way that it is and not otherwise? Some philosophers have contended that it is reasonable to ask such questions even if the universe is eternal, or held to be so. And some, Leibniz for instance, have claimed in addition that such questions can never be satisfactorily answered by looking to the universe itself, but only by acknowledging the reality of an extramundane and absolutely necessary being as the ultimate origin of things. To all appearances, these claims remain viable. There seems, at any rate, to be nothing in modern cosmology that rules them out. Even so, it is argued here that certain developments in general dynamical theory preclude an extramundane origin, without, however, impugning the legitimacy of our existential questions or contradicting the idea that there exists an absolutely necessary being.

David Gunn PDF (400kb)
06 Can We Un-forgive?

Despite the recent explosion of philosophical literature on forgiveness, relatively few theorists have addressed the possibility of un-forgiving someone for a moral violation. And among those who have addressed the question, “Can we un-forgive?” we find little consensus. In this paper, I consider whether and in what sense forgiveness is rescindable, retractable, or otherwise reversible. In other words, I consider what it might mean to say that a victim who forgave her offender for a particular act of wrongdoing later un-forgave that individual for the very same act. Examining the possibility of un-forgiving positions us to gain richer understandings of both forgiveness and the complexity of navigating moral relationships more broadly.

Monique Wonderly PDF (394kb)
07 Essence As A Modality: A Proof-Theoretic and Nominalist Analysis

Inquiry into the metaphysics of essence tends to be pursued in a realist and model-theoretic spirit, in the sense that metaphysical vocabulary is used in a metalanguage to model truth conditions for the object-language use of essentialist vocabulary. This essay adapts recent developments in proof-theoretic semantics to provide a nominalist analysis for a variety of essentialist vocabularies. A metalanguage employing explanatory inferences is used to individuate introduction and elimination rules for atomic sentences. The object-language assertions of sentences concerning essences are then interpreted as devices for marking off structural features of the explanatory inferences that, under a given interpretation, constitute the contents of the atoms of the language. On this proposal, object-language essentialist vocabulary is mentioned in a proof-theoretic metalanguage that uses a vocabulary of explanation. The result is a nominalist interpretation of essence as a modality, understood in the grammatical sense as a modification of the copula, and a view of metaphysical inquiry that is closely connected to the explanatory commitments present in first-order inquiry into things like sets, chemicals, and organisms. This result illustrates that some of the presuppositions that have animated analytic metaphysics over the last few decades can be profitably substituted with more practice-oriented conceptions of the forms of reasoning at work in different domains of human knowledge.

Preston Stovall PDF (269kb)
08 Artistic Style as the Expression of Ideals

What is artistic style? In the literature one answer to this question has proved influential: the view that artistic style is the expression of personality. In what follows we elaborate upon and evaluatively compare the two most plausible versions of this view with a new proposal—that style is the expression of the artist’s ideals for her art. We proceed by comparing the views’ answers to certain questions we think a theory of individual artistic style should address: Are there limits on what range of features can figure in a style? Can flaws be stylistic? Are there limits on the range of art forms across which a given style can be exhibited? To what extent is a style a kind of unity, and why? What makes style an artistic achievement? Why do we care about style? By considering the different views' answers to these questions we argue that our proposal is a workable theory of individual style and suggest that it fares better on the whole than both versions of the influential and widely accepted view.

Robert Hopkins; Nick Riggle PDF (523kb)
09 When Eyes Touch

How should we understand the special way in which two people are connected when they make eye contact? In this paper, I argue that existing accounts of eye contact —Peacocke’s Reductive Approach and Eilan’s Second Person Approach— are unsatisfactory. In doing so, I make a case for thinking that the source of this dissatisfaction and the path forward can be identified by reflecting on our tendency to describe eye contact on the model of touch. On this basis, I outline a ‘Transactional Approach’ to eye contact.

James Laing PDF (409kb)
10 The Most Dangerous Error: Malebranche on the Experience of Causation

Do the senses represent causation? Many commentators read Nicolas Malebranche as anticipating David Hume’s negative answer to this question. I disagree with this assessment. When a yellow billiard ball strikes a red billiard ball, Malebranche holds that we see the yellow ball as causing the red ball to move. Given Malebranche’s occasionalism, he insists that the visual experience of causal interaction is illusory. Nevertheless, Malebranche holds that the senses (mis)represent finite things as causally efficacious. This experience of creaturely causality explains why Aristotelian philosophers and others struggle to recognize occasionalism’s truth.

Colin Chamberlain PDF (560kb)
11 Kant on Plants: Self-Activity, Representations, and the Analogy with Life

Do plants represent, according to Kant? This question is closely connected to whether Kant held plants are alive, because he explains life in terms of the faculty to act on one’s own representations. He also explains life as having an immaterial principle of self-motion and as a body’s interaction with a supersensible soul. I argue that because of the way plants move themselves, Kant is committed to their being alive, to their having a supersensible ground of their self-activity, and to their having desires (although these are not conscious). This has important ramifications for Kant’s teleology and philosophy of mind.

Tyke Nunez PDF (651kb)
12 Conversational Eliciture

The sentence "The boss fired the employee who is always late" invites the defeasible inference that the speaker is attempting to convey that the lateness caused the firing (cf. The boss fired the employee who is from Philadelphia, which does not invite an analogous inference). We argue that such inferences cannot be understood in terms of familiar approaches to extrasemantic enrichment such as implicature, impliciture, explicature, or species of local enrichment already in the literature. Rather, we propose that they arise from more basic cognitive strategies, grounded in processes of coherence establishment, that thinkers use to make sense of the world. Attention to such cases provides a richer and more varied landscape of extrasemantic enrichment than has been appreciated to date.

Jonathan Cohen; Andrew Kehler PDF (246kb)
13 The Negation of Self in Indian Buddhist Philosophy

The not-self teaching is one of the defining doctrines of Buddhist philosophical thought. It states that no phenomenon is an abiding self. The not-self doctrine is central to discussions in contemporary Buddhist philosophy and to how Buddhism understood itself in relation to its Brahmanical opponents in classical Indian philosophy. In the Pāli suttas, the Buddha is presented as making statements that seem to entail that there is no self. At the same time, in these texts, the Buddha is never presented as saying explicitly that there is no self. Indeed, in the one discourse in which he is asked point blank whether there is a self, he refuses to answer (SN IV, 400). Thus, the suttas present us with a fundamental philosophical and interpretive problem: if the Buddha denies the existence of the self, why does he not state this denial explicitly? This paper resolves the problem by explaining why and how the Buddha can argue in a way that entails metaphysical anti-realism about the self while also refusing to state explicitly that there is no self.

Sean M. Smith PDF (655kb)
14 Mill's Social Epistemic Rationale for the Freedom to Dispute Scientific Knowledge: Why We Must Put Up with Flat-Earthers

Why must we respect others’ rights to dispute scientific knowledge such as that the Earth is round, or that humans evolved, or that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are warming the Earth? In this paper, I argue that in On Liberty Mill defends the freedom to dispute scientific knowledge by appeal to a novel social epistemic rationale for free speech that has been unduly neglected by Mill scholars. Mill distinguishes two kinds of epistemic warrant for scientific knowledge: 1) the positive, direct evidentiary warrant that scientific experts construct for their knowledge by applying the methods Mill had set out in his A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive, and 2) a social testimonial warrant that the non-expert “public” has for what Mill refers to as their “rational[ly] assur[ed]” beliefs on scientific subjects (Liberty, 18: 246). Mill does not argue that scientific claims can never be proven true with complete practical certainty to scientific experts, nor does he argue that scientists must engage in free debate with critics such as flat-earthers in order to fully understand the grounds of their scientific knowledge. Instead, Mill argues that in the absence of the freedom to dispute scientific knowledge, non-experts cannot establish that scientific experts are credible sources of testimonial knowledge. To establish the credibility of scientific expert speakers, non-expert audiences must have a rational assurance, Mill argues, that experts have satisfactory answers to objections that might undermine the positive, direct evidentiary proof of scientific knowledge. But since non-experts cannot distinguish objections that undermine such expert proof from objections that do not, censorship of any objection — even the irrelevant objections of literal or figurative flat-earthers — will prevent non-experts from determining whether scientific expert speakers are credible. Hence, while censoring irrelevant objections would not undermine the positive, direct evidentiary warrant that scientific experts have for their knowledge, doing so would destroy the non-expert, social testimonial warrant for that knowledge. The asymmetry between how expert scientific speakers and non-expert audiences warrant their scientific knowledge is what both generates and necessitates Mill’s social epistemic rationale for the “absolute” freedom to dispute it.

Ava Thomas Wright PDF (353kb)
15 The Paralysis Argument

Many everyday actions have major but unforeseeable long-term consequences. Some argue that this fact poses a serious problem for consequentialist moral theories. We argue that the problem for non-consequentialists is greater still. Standard non-consequentialist constraints on doing harm combined with the long-run impacts of everyday actions entail, absurdly, that we should try to do as little as possible. We call this the Paralysis Argument. After laying out the argument, we consider and respond to a number of objections. We then suggest what we believe is the most promising response: to accept, in practice, a highly demanding morality of beneficence with a long-term focus.

Andreas Mogensen; William MacAskill PDF (397kb)
16 Kantian Moral Psychology and Human Weakness

Immanuel Kant’s notion of weakness or frailty warrants more attention, for it reveals much about his theory of motivation and general metaphysics of mind. As the first and least severe of the three grades of evil, frailty captures those cases where an agent fails to act on their avowed recognition that the moral law is the only legitimate determining ground of the will. The possibility of such cases raises many important questions that have yet to be settled by interpreters. Most importantly, should we account for the failures of weakness by appealing to the activity of reason or sensibility? I will discuss this question in light of a tendency to adopt an overly dualistic reading of Kant’s moral psychology. Focusing on Kant’s remarks on weakness from the Religion and the Metaphysics of Morals, I argue that we should understand weakness as arising from the unique difficulties of sense-dependent judgment, rather than from self-deception, flagging commitment, or overwhelming desire. The resulting account offers a unified moral psychology capable of accommodating the many features of weakness that are difficult to reconcile on other readings.

Jessica Tizzard PDF (646kb)
17 Imagining the Actual

This paper investigates a capacity I call actuality-oriented imagining, by which we use sensory imagination in a way that's directed at representing the actual world. I argue that this kind of imagining is distinct from other, similar mental states in virtue of its distinctive content determination and success conditions. Actuality-oriented imagining is thus a distinctive cognitive capacity in its own right. Thinking about this capacity reveals that we should resist an intuitive tendency to think of the imagination’s primary function or default mode as representing the non-actual or the fictional. Instead, the imagination is a cognitive faculty that often puts us in touch with the way things are in reality.

Daniel Munro PDF (449kb)
18 Content Disjunctivism and the Perception of Appearances

Content disjunctivism is the view that veridical experience involves contents and objects that differ from those of corresponding hallucinations. On one formulation of this view, we are aware of ordinary material things in our surroundings when we experience veridically, and we are aware of mere appearances when we hallucinate. This paper proposes a way of developing this view and offers some considerations in support. Central to the proposed regimentation will be a distinction between different (but related) notions of appearance. We distinguish between the notion of something merely appearing to have a property and the notion of mere appearances, which are types of objects that we can refer to and be aware of. Mere appearances are not sense data or Meinongian non-existent objects but existing objects that do not have the properties that they appear to have. These notions of appearance will be elucidated, in particular by characterizing how they are involved in hallucination and illusion. I argue that the resulting view is supported by how our mental life seems to us when we experience our environment.

Martin A. Lipman PDF (498kb)
19 A Problem About Preference

Obligation describing language (here: “ought”) is hooked up with preference, a relation of what-is-better-than-what. But ordinary situations underdetermine such relations of what-is-better-than-what. Even so, there are plainly true sentences describing our obligations in those situations. This mismatch is trouble-making and getting out of the trouble requires either giving up the easy link between “ought” and preference or re-thinking the kind of things preferences can be.

Anthony S. Gillies PDF (398kb)
20 MAKING Metaphysics

We can cause windows to break and we can break windows; we can cause villages to flood and we can flood villages; and we can cause chocolate to melt and we can melt chocolate. Each time these can come apart: if, for example, A merely instructs B to break the window, then A causes the window to break without breaking it herself. Each instance of A breaking/flooding/melting/burning/killing/etc. something, is an instance of what I call making. I argue that making is an independent, theoretically important notion—akin but irreducible to causing—and metaphysicians should pay attention to it.

Thomas Byrne PDF (513kb)
21 Do the Social Sciences Vindicate Race's Reality?

Many humanists and social scientists argue—if not assume—that race's centrality in social-scientific research provides an empirical justification for its reality as a constructed kind. In this paper, we first regiment these arguments, and then show that they face significant challenges. Specifically, race-concepts' social-scientific success is compatible with race being neither constructed nor real.

Kareem Khalifa; Richard Lauer PDF (401kb)
22 The Promising Puzzle

Here’s a plausible thought: we should make a promise only if we rationally believe that we will follow through. But if that’s right, and if it’s rational to believe only what our evidence supports, then it seems that we shouldn’t make promises to do things our evidence suggests that there’s a significant chance we don’t do – things that many others, or we ourselves, have set out and failed to do. Think: promises to stay faithful or to be on time or to quit smoking. But surely that can’t be right! After all, these are some of our most important promises. This leaves us with a puzzle: either accept that sometimes it’s ok to promise against the evidence or accept that we shouldn’t be making many of our most important promises. This paper develops a response to this puzzle. Promising against the evidence turns out to be morally problematic across the board. But, upon closer inspection, it seems our evidence often does support the belief that we will do something that many others, or we ourselves, have set out and failed to do. When it does, promising is permissible. When it doesn’t, promising is not the right thing to do.

Anna Brinkerhoff PDF (404kb)
23 Be Not Afraid: The Virtue of Fearlessness

Most contemporary virtue theorists hold that fear of genuine dangers is appropriate, and that what matters is one’s ability to surmount it when necessary. To overcome fear for the sake of the good is an act of courage, while succumbing to it is the manifestation of cowardice. This orthodox view comprises a significant oversight. While it is true that overcoming one’s fear in a moment of crisis is a mark of excellence, courage is not the highest ideal toward which we ought to strive. Virtue theories that give courage an exalted status fail to appreciate the excellence exhibited by those who dutifully or lovingly put themselves in harm’s way without having to overcome an inclination to avoid. While courage is certainly admirable, fearlessness is more excellent in two respects. First, the fearless agent possesses more robust psychological harmony, which includes a deeply internalized acceptance of the fact that one’s personal safety is not the most important thing in life. This attribute is valuable for its own sake. Second, the fearless agent is able to successfully act in accordance with her values with greater reliability because she never has to override a desire to avoid when she ought to confront instead.

Tyler Paytas PDF (346kb)
24 Defining Addictive Disorder - Abilities Reconsidered

Sanja Dembić PDF (534kb)
25 Norm and Object: A Normative Hylomorphic Theory of Social Objects

This paper is an investigation into the metaphysics of social objects such as political borders, states, and organizations. I articulate a metaphysical puzzle concerning such objects and then propose a novel account of social objects that provides a solution to the puzzle. The basic idea behind the puzzle is that under appropriate circumstances, seemingly concrete social objects can apparently be created by acts of agreement, decree, declaration, or the like. Yet there is reason to believe that no concrete object can be created in this way. The central idea of my positive account is that social objects have a normative component to them, and seemingly concrete social objects have both normative and material components. I develop this idea more rigorously using resources from the Aristotelian hylomorphic tradition. The resulting normative hylomorphic account, I argue, solves the puzzle by providing a satisfying explanation of creation-by-agreement and the like, while also avoiding the difficulties facing extant accounts of social objects.

Asya Passinsky PDF (485kb)
26 Epistemic Modal Credence

Triviality results threaten plausible principles governing our credence in epistemic modal claims. This paper develops a new account of modal credence which avoids triviality. On the resulting theory, probabilities are assigned not to sets of worlds, but rather to sets of information state-world pairs. The theory avoids triviality by giving up the principle that rational credence is closed under conditionalization. A rational agent can become irrational by conditionalizing on new evidence. In place of conditionalization, the paper develops a new account of updating: conditionalization with normalization.

Simon Goldstein PDF (322kb)
27 Qua Qualification

Qualifications with 'as' or 'qua' are widely used in philosophy, yet how precisely such qualifications work is poorly understood. While extant work on the topic is rife with revisionary assumptions about the nature of individuals, truth, and identity, this article shows that no baroque theory is required to account for such qualifications. I develop and defend a simple theory on which qua-qualifications ascribe relational properties to individuals, and show that the proposal affords a clear metaphysical analysis of the puzzle cases of interest. Moreover, the theory makes adequate predictions about the linguistic behaviour of qua-qualifications and helps us think more clearly about their logic. Since this is more than any extant competing theory can claim, the proposal offers the best account of qua-qualification to date.

Annina J. Loets PDF (255kb)
28 Attitude and Social Rules, or Why It's Okay to Slurp Your Soup

Many of the most important social institutions—e.g., law and language—are thought to be normative in some sense. And philosophers have been puzzled by how this normativity can be explained in terms of the social, descriptive states of affairs that presumably constitute them. This paper attempts to solve this sort of puzzle by considering a simpler and less contentious normative social practice: table manners. Once we are clear on the exact sense in which a practice is normative, we see that some practices can be normative in an interesting and non-trivial sense, but also explicable with merely descriptive resources. In addition to arguing that it is possible to explain normative practices with descriptive resources, this paper presents and defends just such an explanation—an account of the nature of table manners that appeals only to descriptive states of affairs.

Jeffrey Kaplan PDF (441kb)
29 The Content of Kant's Pure Category of Substance and Its Use on Phenomena and Noumena

I begin by arguing that, for Kant, the pure category of substance has both a general content that is in play whenever we think of any entity as a substance (I call this the Subsistence-Power Conception of substance) as well as a more specific content that arises in conjunction with the thought of what Kant calls a positive noumenon (I call this the Inner-Simple Conception of substance). Drawing on this new “Dual Content” account of the pure category of substance, I offer new answers to two contested questions: What is the relation of the pure category to phenomenal substance? What, if any, epistemic gains can we achieve when we apply the pure category to noumena? Regarding the first question, I argue that while phenomenal substance does not qualify as a substance according to the Inner-Simple Conception, it does qualify as one according to the Subsistence-Power Conception. Regarding the second question, I argue that, in the case of the substantiality of positive noumena, Kant’s account allows for justified conditional beliefs involving the Inner-Simple Conception. In the case of negative noumena, it allows for justified existential beliefs involving the Subsistence-Power Conception.

James Messina PDF (541kb)
30 Ambidextrous Reasons (or Why Reasons First's Reasons Aren't Facts)

The wrong kind of reason problem is a problem for attempts to analyze normative properties using only facts about the balance of normative reasons, a style of analysis on which the ‘Reasons First’ programme depends. I argue that this problem cannot be solved if the orthodox view of reasons is true --- that is, if each normative reason is numerically identical with some fact, proposition, or state-of-affairs. That’s because solving the wrong kind of reason problem requires completely distinguishing between the right- and wrong-kind reasons for an attitude. I argue that some facts give both right- and wrong-kind reasons for an attitude. Consequently, no such distinction between the two types of reasons is complete if reasons are facts or the like. I conclude by suggesting that reasons and facts are related by constitution, not identity.

Nathan Robert Howard PDF (400kb)