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No. Title/Abstract Author(s) Volume/Issue Date Downloads
04 Stereoscopic Vision: Persons, Freedom, and Two Spaces of Material Inference

We discuss first a "stance" methodology toward the problem of personhood. This is to ask first, what it is to take something to be a person, and then to move via a notion of appropriateness to an answer to what it is to be a person. We argue that the distinctions between persons and non-persons, between agents and patients, and between subjects and mere objects are deeply connected. All three distinctions are themselves traced to a fundamental distinction within the space of reasons -- between, that is, two sorts of material inferential propriety. These two structures of inference are made explicit by indicative and subjunctive conditionals. Tracing personhood to the fundamentally stereoscopic structure of material inference sheds light not only on notions of freedom, agency, and personhood, but on the nature of modal judgments, on the conceptual space of causation, and on the semantics of the explicitating conditionals. We conclude with a pragmatic argument for belief in persons.

Mark Lance; H. Heath White vol. 7 May 2007
33 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 vol. 19 2019
04 Kant on Strict Right

For Kant right and ethics are two formally distinct departments of a single morality of reason and freedom. Unlike ethics, right involves an authorization to coerce, and this coercion serves as a pathological incentive. I argue that for Kant the distinctive character of right flows from the fact that juridical obligation has a different relational structure than ethical obligation. I argue that this relational structure explains the connection of right to coercion, and also explains how a categorical imperative can be known a priori to issue in both a pathological and non-pathological incentive. Thus the justification of coercion and its special role as incentive are rooted in the relational character of juridical obligations, and so ultimately in categorical imperatives of reason. Since this pathological incentive has a moral basis in the structure of juridical obligations, and so ultimately in a representation of moral laws, I argue that Kant’s discussion of the juridical incentive of coercion is more continuous with his main discussion of moral incentives in the Critique of Practical Reason than it might at first appear. I illustrate the consequences of this reading by discussing the propensity to injustice, as Kant understands it, and the unique way in which the juridical incentive undermines it.

Ben Laurence vol. 18 2018
19 Abstraction and the Origin of General Ideas

Philosophers have often claimed that general ideas or representations have their origin in abstraction, but it remains unclear exactly what abstraction as a psychological process consists in. We argue that the Lockean aspiration of using abstraction to explain the origins of all general representations cannot work and that at least some general representations have to be innate. We then offer an explicit framework for understanding abstraction, one that treats abstraction as a computational process that operates over an innate quality space of fine-grained general representations. We argue that this framework has important philosophical implications for the nativism-empiricism dispute, for questions about the acquisition of unstructured representations, and for questions about the relation between human and animal minds.

Stephen Laurence; Eric Margolis vol. 12 December 2012
03 Gruesome Freedom: The Moral Limits of Non-Constraint

Many philosophers conceive of freedom as non-interference. Such conceptions unify two core commitments. First, they associate freedom with non-constraint. And second, they take seriously a distinction between the interpersonal and the non-personal. As a result, they focus our attention exclusively (or at least, disproportionately) on constraints attributable to other people’s choices – that is, on interference. I argue that these commitments manifest two distinct concerns: first, for a wide range of options; and second, for other people’s respect. However, construing freedom as non-interference unifies these concerns in a way that does justice to neither. In particular, it focuses our attention on phenomena that are at best tangential, and at worst hostile, to our interest in respect. If we wish to preserve the distinctive significance of the interpersonal, we would be better served by a conception of freedom that focuses immediately on what I call "the social conditions of respect."

John Lawless vol. 18 2018
18 The Promise of a New Past

In light of Jewish tradition and the metaphysics of time, we argue that God can and will change the past. The argument makes for a new answer to the problem of evil and a new theory of atonement.

Samuel Lebens; Tyron Goldschmidt vol. 17 August 2017
03 Temporal Experience and the Temporal Structure of Experience

I assess a number of connected ideas about temporal experience that are introspectively plausible, but which I believe can be argued to be incorrect. These include the idea that temporal experiences are extended experiential processes, that they have an internal structure that in some way mirrors the structure of the apparent events they present, and the idea that time in experience is in some way represented by time itself. I explain how these ideas can be developed into more sharply defined views, and then argue that these views are inconsistent with certain empirical facts about how time is represented in the brain. These facts instead support a kind of atomic view, on which temporal experiences are temporally unstructured atoms.

Geoffrey Lee vol. 14 February 2014
12 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 vol. 15 March 2015
07 Nietzsche's Theory of the Will

The essay offers a philosophical reconstruction of Nietzsche's theory of the will, focusing on (1) Nietzsche's account of the phenomenology of "willing " an action, the experience we have which leads us (causally) to conceive of ourselves as exercising our will; (2) Nietzsche's arguments that the experiences picked out by the phenomenology are not causally connected to the resulting action (at least not in a way sufficient to underwrite ascriptions of moral responsibility); and (3) Nietzsche's account of the actual causal genesis of action. Particular attention is given to passages from Daybreak, Beyond Good and Evil and Twilight of the Idols and a revised version of my earlier account of Nietzsche's epiphenomenalism is defended. Finally, recent work in empirical psychology (Libet, Wegner) is shown to support Nietzsche's skepticism that our "feeling " of will is a reliable guide to the causation of action.

Brian Leiter vol. 7 September 2007
09 Quantificational Credences

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 vol. 15 March 2015
13 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 vol. 15 March 2015
06 Machine-Likeness and Explanation by Decomposition

Analogies to machines are commonplace in the life sciences, especially in cellular and molecular biology — they shape conceptions of phenomena and expectations about how they are to be explained. This paper offers a framework for thinking about such analogies. The guiding idea is that machine-like systems are especially amenable to decompositional explanation, i.e., to analyses that tease apart underlying components and attend to their structural features and interrelations. I argue that for decomposition to succeed a system must exhibit causal orderliness, which I explicate in terms of differentiation among parts and the significance of local relations. I also discuss what makes a model depict its target as machine-like, suggesting that a key issue is the degree of detail with respect to the target’s parts and their interrelations.

Arnon Levy vol. 14 March 2014
02 Have I Turned the Stove Off? Explaining Everyday Anxiety

Cases in which we find ourselves irrationally worried about whether we have done something we habitually do (such as turning off the stove) are familiar to most people, but they have received surprisingly little attention in the philosophical literature. In this paper, I argue that available accounts designed to explain superficially similar mismatches between agents’ behavior and their beliefs fail to explain these cases. In the kinds of cases which have served as paradigms for extant accounts, contents are poised to drive behavior in a belief-like way. But the contents of these irrational worries are not poised in a belief-like way. Nor do they cause behavior due to a deficit of rational scrutiny. Rather, these representations cause behavior deviantly: by generating anxiety, which in turn motivates actions aimed at assuaging it.

Neil Levy vol. 16 January 2016
20 The Discretionary Normativity of Requests

Being able to ask others to do things, and thereby giving them reasons to do those things, is a prominent feature of our interpersonal lives. In this paper, I discuss the distinctive normative status of requests – what makes them different from commands and demands. I argue for a theory of this normative phenomenon which explains the sense in which the reasons presented in requests are a matter of discretion. This discretionary quality, I argue, is something that other theories cannot accommodate, though it is a significant aspect of the relations that people stand in to one another, and the kinds of practical reasons that flow from those relations.

James H. P. Lewis vol. 18 2018
12 Counting as a Type of Measuring

There may be two and a half bagels on the table. When there are two and a half, it is false that there are exactly two. As obvious as these claims are, they can’t be accounted for on the most straightforward and familiar views of counting and the semantics of number words. I develop a view on which counting is a type of measuring. In particular, counting involves a specific measure function. I then analyze that function and show how it can account for the cases in which counting is sensitive to partiality, e.g. partial bagels.

David Liebesman vol. 16 July 2016
52 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 vol. 19 2019
02 Jonathan Edwards's Monism

The 18th-century American philosopher Jonathan Edwards argues that nothing endures through time. I analyze his argument, paying particular attention to a central principle it relies on, namely that “nothing can exert itself, or operate, when and where it is not existing”. I also consider what I supposed to follow from the conclusion that nothing endures. Edwards is sometimes read as the first four-dimensionalist. I argue that this is wrong. Edwards does not conclude that things persist by having different temporal parts; he concludes that nothing persists.

Antonia LoLordo vol. 17 February 2017
24 Jonathan Edwards’s Argument Concerning Persistence

The 18th-century American philosopher Jonathan Edwards argues that nothing endures through time. I analyze his argument, paying particular attention to a central principle it relies on, namely that “nothing can exert itself, or operate, when and where it is not existing”. I also consider what I supposed to follow from the conclusion that nothing endures. Edwards is sometimes read as the first four-dimensionalist. I argue that this is wrong. Edwards does not conclude that things persist by having different temporal parts; he concludes that nothing persists.

Antonia LoLordo vol. 14 July 2014
01 Rigidity for Predicates and the Trivialization Problem

According to the simple proposal about rigidity for predicates, a predicate is rigid (roughly) if it signifies the same property across the relevant worlds. Recent critics claim that this suffers from a trivialization problem: any predicate whatsoever would turn out to be trivially rigid, according to the proposal. In this paper a corresponding "problem" for ordinary singular terms is considered. A natural solution is provided by intuitions concerning the actual truth-value of identity statements involving them. The simple proposal for predicates is then defended, by exploiting corresponding intuitions concerning statements involving their nominalizations, in an analogous manner.

Dan López de Sa vol. 8 February 2008