Without a Thought Too Many: Virtuous De Dicto Moral Motivation via Policies
Ron Aboodi, University of Toronto
In a famous thought experiment from Bernard Williams (1981), a husband can save only one of two persons from drowning: his wife or a stranger. He chooses to save his wife, but one of his motivating thoughts is: “in situations of this kind it is permissible to save one’s wife.” Williams claims that this motivating thought is “one thought too many.” Michael Smith (1994) refers to this case in arguing that de dicto moral motivation—where the agent’s aim, as she conceives of it, is to do what is right or some similar thin normative aim—provides the agent with “one thought too many.” I assume (perhaps contrary to Smith) that having de dicto moral motivation is not inherently non-virtuous. But the case shows that there are circumstances where it would be more virtuous—or at least more efficient—to do what’s right without an occurrent motivating thought that is explicitly about what would be morally virtuous, preferable, permissible or required. This raises a question which hasn’t been discussed in the literature: Is there a systematic way to pursue a de dicto moral aim in life without “a thought too many”? I argue that this could be achieved with the help of policies where the agent—in order to fulfill a de dicto moral purpose—endorses and relies on some of her independent non-derivative de re moral motivations, and restricts her own moral reflections.
Aesthetic Value of Anatomical Displays of Plastinated Bodies
Jessica Adkins, Saint Louis University
My paper explores the aesthetic value of BodyWorlds exhibits, or the anatomical displays of plastinated human bodies. While the exhibits have warranted some scholarly attention, the literature produced focuses primarily on ethical issues of the exhibits such as body provenance. I focus on the aesthetic value of the display of plastinated bodies. The value, I argue, comes from the arousal of what Korsmeyer defines as ‘aesthetic disgust.’ I explain the ways the displays elicit disgust, and then I argue that the disgust is valuable for the specific insights it provides towards our views on death in a medico-techno enhanced future.
Transcendental Phenomenology: Modalities and Critique
Andreea Smaranda Aldea, Kent State University
Claims of neutrality, eidetic insight, and ahistoricity have squarely placed transcendental phenomenology in the camp of philosophical approaches unwilling and/or unable to engage in social critique. Take, for instance, the skepticism surrounding Husserlian methods as resources for feminist inquiry. Contrary to this, I argue that Husserlian phenomenology grants us powerful tools for critically investigating the historical forces shaping our reality. The critical dimension of Husserlian phenomenology lies in its ability to work through the modally productive tension between its eidetic and historical interests. It lies in a distinctive approach to conceivability, possibility, and necessity.
On Folk Attributions and Concepts of Phenomenal Consciousness
Nick Alonso, Georgia State University
Research into human folk psychology has largely focused on the way people attribute and reason about non-experiential states, like beliefs, desires, and intentions. More recently, however, philosophers and psychologists have begun researching the way people conceive of and attribute experiential states, like emotional experiences and sensations. There has not been much said about the underlying psychological processes involved in the attribution of experiential states or about the way our conceptions of experiential states are instantiated cognitively. In this paper, I outline a theory of the psychological processes that are used in attributions of phenomenal experience and describe what this suggests about the nature of our folk conceptions of phenomenal consciousness. Specifically, I argue that people attribute experiential states by simulating others' experiences and that people typically attribute non-experiential states when theorizing about other minds. This supports those who hold that people often have two concepts of the same mental states.
Actions and Narrative Sentences
Roman Altshuler, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Actions, a common view tells us, are movements caused by an agent’s mental states and explicable in terms of them. A slightly less common response holds that this is a mistake: actions can be explained only by their context. One way of approaching this dispute between causalists and interpretationists is to work through the implications of the idea that action explanations take the form of narrative sentences. A narrative account of action explanation is interesting in itself. But it is interesting also for its potential to resolve the debate. I will argue that motives cannot be separated from actions because they are subjects of what Arthur Danto called narrative sentences. This will mean that motives cannot be specified independently of the actions they cause. Even if motives cause actions, then, it may still be true that actions must be explain in terms of their context rather than their motives.
Expressions of Preference, and Other Morally Problematic Instances of Prayer
Bertha Alvarez Manninen, Arizona State University
Prayer has a profound role to play in the lives of theists. It is often regarded as a way to talk and commune with God, with a community of believers, and even as a way of effecting individuals whom one will never know (e.g., praying for famine relief in other parts of the world). Consequently, we should reflect on the reasons we pray, how we pray, and the values we display and acquire when we pray in certain ways. Because prayer should be regarded as a morally significant action, it should be subjected to some degree of moral analysis. In this paper, I explore certain kinds of petitionary and thanksgiving prayers and argue that they are morally problematic.
A Problem for Wide Reflective Equilibrium from Moral Testimony
Kelley Annesley, University of Rochester
This paper presents a problem for Wide Reflective Equilibrium (WRE) from moral testimony (MT). Both the content of MT and higher order evidence about the testifier of MT are relevant to the justification of MT for an agent. However, WRE cannot require an agent to take into account the justificatory relationship between MT and higher order evidence about the likely reliability of the testifier—it can only allow agents to prune the proposition whose elimination will increase coherence, regardless of independent justification. I consider two ways out of this problem: restricting the entrants to WRE to considered judgments and restricting the entrants to WRE to morally understood propositions in Alison Hills’ technical sense of “moral understanding.” Finally, I suggest that this problem generates a more general objection to WRE’s reliance on coherence—WRE requires agents to ignore independent justification in the weighing/pruning phase of WRE, which undermines WRE’s goal of increasing justification.
Solving the Rollback Argument Using Metaphysical Grounding
Joel Archer, University of Notre Dame
Many philosophers think there is a luck-problem confronting libertarian models of free will. If free actions are undetermined, then it seems to be a matter of chance or luck that they occur-so the objection goes. Agent-causal libertarians respond to this objection by asserting that free actions, by their essence, involve a direct causal relation between agents and the events they cause. Peter van Inwagen, however, maintains that invoking agent-causation does nothing to dispel the intuition of luck inherent in libertarian freedom. I provide a response to van Inwagen on behalf of agent-causalists. One way to answer van Inwagen's famous rollback argument is by appealing to considerations in metaphysical grounding, specifically with respect to explanatory priority. If an agent's free actions are explanatorily prior to the objective probability that the agent would perform those actions, then van Inwagen's argument loses its force.
A Defense of Parity: Value Intransitivity without a Money Pump
Jon Asper, University of Missouri
Choices are hard when one does not know how to compare items. For instance, one might have trouble deciding between a milkshake that is on sale and a fruit smoothie that is healthier. For such choices, some claim one item must be better than the other unless they are precisely equal (even if we cannot know which is true), while others claim the items are just not comparable. Still others claim some relation besides better, worse, and equally good holds between the items. I defend parity, which is a candidate for a fourth value relation originally proposed by Ruth Chang (2002). I especially offer a reason to favor it over other fourth value relations. Martin Peterson (20017, 2014) uses money pumps to argue against all fourth value relations because they are all intransitive, but I claim money pumps are a problem with all fourth value relations except parity.
Kierkegaard on the Nature of Art Appreciation: Overcoming the Tradition of Disinterest
Antony Aumann, Northern Michigan University
On a common 18–19th c. view, art appreciation ought to be “disinterested.” When engaging a work of art, we should set aside any instrumental benefits it might have; we should value it solely for its own sake. Kierkegaard often appears to share this view. In Postscript, we even read that “aesthetically, the highest pathos is disinterestedness.” But, I argue, Kierkegaard ultimately has to abandon the tradition of disinterest. For it requires us to disregard the very thing that he thinks makes art worth attending to in the first place, namely its ability to help us with the project of self-discovery. Instead, I maintain, he develops a new ideal according to which we adequately appreciate a work of art only if we consider its significance for our own personal lives. In other words, proper art appreciation for Kierkegaard must be interested and subjective rather than disinterested and objective.
Intention Ascriptions and the De Se
Matthew Babb, Washington University in St. Louis
Some believe that intentions are essentially de se. However, certain intention ascriptions call this view into question (e.g. “Jack intends that the pipe be fixed by Saturday”). I argue that this is a problem only if we understand the de se-ness of intentions as strictly a claim about their contents. But if we instead understand it as a claim about intention states, the problem can be avoided. In defense of this latter understanding, I argue that intention ascriptions entail that the subject of the ascription intends herself to do something to bring about the embedded content of the ascription. This entailment is grounded in the nature of intentions, that is, intention ascriptions entail further de se intentions because all intentions are essentially de se states. However, what makes intention states de se is not their contents, but rather the way in which they are action-guiding.
How to Shoot a Unicorn: Epistemic Access and Interpretation of Fiction in Photography
Zsolt Batori, Budapest University of Technology and Economics
In this paper I discuss three positions about the fictional use of photographs. I argue that there are no photographs of fictional entities and states of affairs; the fictional use of photographic images is an imaginative process in which we learn about the visual properties of a) the real persons and objects depicted in the photograph and b) the imagined properties of the fictional characters and objects. I suggest that the fictional use of photographic images is a specific type of photographic illocutionary act, when the default photographic interpretation is suspended or modified for the sake of the fictional use.
Another Ride of the Trolley: An Egalitarian Proposal
Peter Baumann, Swarthmore College
This paper deals with a version of the Trolley Problem. In one case (Trolley) many people favor an act (throwing a switch) which will bring about the death of one person but save five other persons (rather than letting five die and one survive). In another case (Transplant) most people would refuse to “sacrifice” one person in order to save five other lives (rather than letting five die and one survive). Since the two cases seem similar in all relevant respects, we have to explain and justify the diverging verdicts. Since I don’t find current proposals of a solution convincing I propose an alternative one according to which (Transplant) - but not (Trolley) - violates two forms of equality. I also test the corresponding principle against other cases. I argue that it offers a good explanation and even a normative justification of our intuitive verdicts about the cases.
Eric Bayruns-Garcia, The Graduate Center, CUNY
In this paper, I argue that this is a case of a subtle epistemic injustice phenomenon that is not identified in the epistemology literature and that importantly differs from paradigmatic kinds of epistemic injustice like testimonial injustice, testimonial quieting and participant-based epistemic injustice. I call this unidentified and subtle epistemic injustice phenomenon, expression-style exclusion. A challenge I hope to meet in this paper is to render plausible that expression-style exclusion importantly differs from these paradigmatic kinds of epistemic injustice because one could object that expression-style exclusion is coextensive with phenomena like testimonial injustice and testimonial quieting. I will assume that if I plausibly make the case that expression-style exclusion has a different causal story, different epistemic harms and different remedies than other epistemic injustices, then I will have met this challenge of rendering it plausible that expression-style exclusion importantly differs from other paradigmatic kinds of epistemic injustice.
Pretending in a Language Game
Sam Berstler, Yale University
The Gricean program derives a range of pragmatic linguistic phenomena by appealing to general constraints on rational behavior. The program has achieved near orthodoxy. In addition to its predictive power, it is elegant, flexible, and parsimonious. Unfortunately, the Gricean program has trouble making correct predictions about seemingly uncooperative conversations. This calls into question whether the Gricean program has any genuine explanatory power. This paper presents an innovation that solves this oft-overlooked problem. I propose that often, interlocutors cooperate insofar as they are both pretending to share a joint goal. If we assume that this is the case, we not only recuperate the Gricean program but also predict some otherwise mystifying data.
The Specter of Machine Intelligence
Zachary Biondi, University of California, Los Angeles
Technological development sits at the core of Marxism. Machines are coming to resemble human beings more each day. This paper is concerned with one specific point of resemblance: intelligence. By examining the development of machine intelligence through the Marxist concepts of alienation and reification, we find a contradiction in the act of producing a machine intelligence. If we, so the thinking goes, can externalize the parts of ourselves that are compelled to do unwelcome wage-labor, we will no longer be alienated from ourselves. The parts of ourselves that do the unwelcome labor are now distinct, autonomous entities. The machine intelligence is meant to be radically similar to its designer and yet be a commodity, incapable of unalienated labor. Is the externalized alienated self of the designer a ‘person’, something that should be liberated? The paper explores this tension and its implications for the communist revolution.
The Moral Parody Argument Against Panpsychism
Zach Blaesi, University of Texas at Austin
I exploit parallel considerations in the philosophy of mind and metaethics to show how the reasoning employed in an important argument for panpsychism overgeneralizes to support an analogous position in metaethics: panprotomoralism. To the extent that such a position should be rejected, so also should the argument for panpsychism. With little else to recommend the view, panpsychism should be rejected as well. I call this the moral parody argument against panpsychism. The principal analogy upon which the argument is based has been independently explored by Einar Duenger Bohn (2017). Our discussions differ in a number of crucial respects, however. First, as the saying goes, one philosopher's modus ponens is another's modus tollens: while Bohn argues for a position (what he calls "pannormism"), I take the analogy to show that something has gone seriously wrong with the argument for panpsychism. Second, panprotomoralism and pannormism are importantly different positions. Contrary to Bohn, I will argue that given a choice between the two, panprotomoralism is actually preferable to pannormism. Finally, I will provide reasons for thinking that both panprotomoralism and pannormism should be rejected. I conclude that modus tollens is the way to go before drawing a more general lesson from the discussion.
What Basing Must Be
Christopher Blake-Turner, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The basing relation holds between an agent’s action and her motivating reason, the reason for which she so acts. This relation underpins many important distinctions in epistemology, such as that between doxastic and propositional justification. Moreover, it plays an important role in the literature on the ethics of belief. Since Davidson’s “Actions, Reasons, and Causes” it has been widely assumed that basing is a causal relation. Here I question that orthodoxy by teasing out important and unrecognized implications of a fundamental constraint on basing. The constraint is that an agent must take the reason that is the basis for her action as counting in favor of that action. I argue that meeting the fundamental constraint requires that: the basing relation holds between personally intelligible types; basing is a synchronic relation; and the basing relation admits of bad bases—reasons that an agent takes to count in favor of her action, but which do not in fact do so. I show that admitting bad bases requires accommodating the possibility of structural loops of basing relations. These upshots of the fundamental constraint do not decisively rule out causal accounts of basing, but they do pave the way for considering non-causal accounts; it is prima facie odd to turn to causation to give an account of a synchronic relation that admits of loops. I end by sketching a non-causal account. According to this response-dependent theory of basing, something’s being an agent’s basis for her action is determined by what she would judge to be her reason for so acting were she not rationally impaired. This paper thus loosens the hold of the causal orthodoxy in the basing literature and provides a promising positive alternative.
Perfect Agency in the Eudemian Ethics
Giulia Bonasio, Columbia University
In this paper, I argue that in the Eudemian Ethics (EE), Aristotle proposes a different perfect agent from the one of the Nicomachean Ethics (NE), often considered the phronimos (the practically wise person). In the EE, the best agent is the kalos kagathos, the person who has the complex virtue of kalokagathia. Closely related, I argue that in the EE, Aristotle proposes a strong version of the unity of the virtues: the person who is kalos kagathos has “all” the virtues in the sense of “all” that the unity of the virtues invokes. With respect to the NE, scholars take the unity of the virtues to comprise phronêsis (practical wisdom) and the character virtues. On my reading, the unity of the virtues in the EE has a larger scope. It includes the character virtues as well as all the virtues of practical and theoretical thinking.
Branching Semantics Is Radical Semantics
Rhys Borchert, University of Arizona
In his defense of the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics, David Wallace considers two ways of modeling our future-oriented utterances in a multiverse with branching worlds: the Conservative View and the Radical View. The Conservative View attempts to preserve the truth values of ordinary assertions of single, determinate outcomes despite the fact that the Everett interpretation maintains that all possible outcomes of any quantum event actually occur. The Radical View makes so such attempt, which has the consequence that most speakers’ utterances about single, determinate outcomes are in error. Wallace addresses this issue from a Davidsonian perspective and argues that taking the perspective of radical interpretation favors the Conservative View. I disagree. I also start from a perspective of radical interpretation, but I use principles from David Lewis to show that this starting point favors the Radical View.
The Transition to Self-Consciousness in the Phenomenology of Spirit
Caroline Bowman, New York University
This paper provides a new interpretation of the so-called ‘transition to Self-Consciousness’ in the Phenomenology of Spirit. My interpretation emphasizes consciousness’ changing conception of the structure of its object from the Understanding to Self-Consciousness. I argue that Hegel is concerned with the deficiencies of a conception of forces according to which they are external to matter. He tries to show through the failure of the Understanding that forces, conceived as such, cannot perform the explanatory role that the Understanding takes them to perform. In turn, this failure leads consciousness to look for an object that has the structure of something self-determining—in which the ground of a thing’s determinations is internal to that thing. Consciousness takes the first configuration of self-consciousness, introduced in §164, to meet this new criterion of the object.
Monothematic Delusion: A Two-Factor Expressivist Account
Adam Bradley, University of California, Berkeley
Quinn Hiroshi Gibson, New York University
On the two-factor model (Davies et al. 2001), monothematic delusions such as Capgras delusion (the delusion that a loved one has been replaced by an impos- tor (Capgras and Rebould-Lechaux 1923)) and Cotard delusion (the delusion that one is dead or does not exist (Cotard 1882)) are the result of an aberrative experience coupled with a selective breakdown in rationality. Herein we develop a novel two-factor account, the expressivist two-factor theory, and argue that it addresses the problems facing existing views. In the second section, we introduce our topic, namely monothematic delusion, and lay out the desiderata which any satisfactory theory ought to account for. In the third section, we articulate existing explanationist and endorsement accounts and raise serious problems for each. In the fourth section, we articulate the expressivist two-factor theory and show how it resolves the problems facing existing accounts.
Culture as the Unifying Ground of Kant's Critique of Judgment
Sabina Bremner, Columbia University
Commentators have turned increasing attention to the question of how the two halves of the Third Critique fit together. Yet while commentators have established points of similarity or common themes between the two halves, no one has proposed an account of how both parts require one another in order to answer the question Kant poses in the Introduction as the central problem of the work as a whole: how is nature amenable to freedom? The answer I propose here is, simply put, culture. Culture is both the ‘ultimate purpose’ of nature, and equivalent to Kant’s definition of ‘art in general’ (of which the fine arts are a subspecies). Thus, on the teleological side, culture, as the last empirically cognizable telos of nature, serves as the mediating link between nature and freedom, while on the aesthetic side, the fine arts are explicitly characterized as ‘acculturating’ us to the morally good. In either case, ‘culture’ demonstrates the amenability of nature to its supersensible ground. Not only does this proposal unify the two halves, it also simultaneously responds to the central problem Kant poses for the work as a whole.
Proportionality: Problems of Application
Ben Bronner, Rutgers University
Defensive violence, in war or otherwise, is permissible only if it satisfies the principle of Proportionality. Proportionality requires that the harm one causes not be excessive in comparison to the good one thereby achieves. I argue, however, that it is often unclear how to identify the good that an act of defensive violence achieves. I consider and reject a number of plausible responses to this problem. I conclude that our ability to apply Proportionality is limited in an important way that has not previously been appreciated.
Human and Animal Well-Being
Donald Bruckner, Pennsylvania State University New Kensington
While it is good for blueberry bushes to be planted in acidic soils, it is not good for cats to be planted in acidic soils. A cat is not the type of thing that grows in soil, let alone well. While it is good for humans to complete projects that are important to them, doing so is not good for blueberry bushes. Blueberry bushes are not the type of thing that has projects or completes them. ; These observations suggest that what is good for a thing depends on the type of thing that it is. In this paper, I follow this Aristotelian line of thought with the goal of introducing and defending the suitability of two different theories of well-being, one for non-human animals and one for humans. The view developed, inspired by Aristotle’s insight and some work of Tamar Schapiro on animals, will provide a clear distinction between the sorts of actions of which humans are capable and the sorts of activities in which animals engage. Once that distinction is made, it will be a short step to tying the well-being of a human or non-human animal to the type of action or activity of which it is capable. ; Without further machinery in place, the theses of this paper can only be stated roughly. Humans and non-human animals both have desires and the ability to engage in activity on the basis of those desires. In addition, humans have a rational capacity not held by animals. So humans are and animals are not capable of offering reasons for their desires. Fulfilling their desires is what constitutes the well-being of animals. The well-being of humans, on the other hand, is constituted by the fulfillment of those of their desires for which they can offer reasons.
You Oughtta Know: A Defense of Obligations to Learn
Teresa Bruno-Nino, Syracuse University
Preston J. Werner, Hebrew University
Most of us spend a significant portion of our lives learning, practicing, and performing a wide range of skills. These skills—at least as we’ll understand them here—involve some combination of propositional knowledge and know-how. What skills we are able to develop and practice is of course constrained by our physical, mental, and psychological features. But even within these constraints, many of us have a great amount of control over which skills we learn and develop. From choices as significant as career pursuits to those as minor as how we spend our weeknight leisure time, we exercise a great amount of agency over what we know and what we can do. We argue that we have a standing (and prima facie) duty to learn the kinds of skills and knowledge which will put us in a better position to morally benefit the world.
Objective Perception, Constancy, and Stability for Action: A Holistic Approach
Alessandra Buccella, University of Pittsburgh
I discuss the notions of perceptual constancy and perceptual objectivity, and I try to sketch an account of their relationship alternative to the one that, both in recent philosophical work (e.g. Burge 2010) and in empirical research is considered the orthodoxy. In particular, the paper will begin with some ground-work: I will define and describe both constancy and objectivity, I will highlight the most important controversies regarding their individual nature and their relationship in both philosophy and perceptual science, and I will begin to take a stance on them based on certain inconsistencies between how philosophers talk about constancy and how scientists study it in their labs. I will conclude by outlining an alternative approach that reconciliates philosophy and science when it comes to accounting for perceptual constancy and objectivity, and I will argue that a so-called “holistic” approach to constancy and objectivity has to be preferred to the orthodoxy.
Theoretical Refutation of “Ought Implies Can”
Wesley Buckwalter, University of Pittsburgh
A standard principle in ethics is that inability is inconsistent with obligation, or that “ought implies can.” A strong case has been made that this principle is not well motivated in moral psychology. This paper presents an analogous case against the theoretical motivation for the principle. The principle is in tension with several foundational areas of ethical theorizing, including research on apologies, excuses, promises, moral dilemmas, moral language, disability, and moral agency. Across each of these areas, accepting the principle that obligation entails ability creates a theoretical problem that is more easily solved by simply rejecting it rather than accepting it. I conclude that the motivation for the principle is weak and that “ought implies can” should be rejected in ethics on purely theoretical grounds.
A Non-Humean Approach to Grounding
David Builes, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
I argue that several widely-endorsed principles about grounding are only plausible given a Humean metaphysics. In particular, I argue that plausible non-Humean theories provide counterexamples to (i) the symmetry of partial ground (ii) the transitivity of partial ground (iii) the principle that existential truths are always grounded in their instances (iv) the principle that disjunctions are always grounded in their true disjunct(s) and (v) the Internality of grounding. I will argue that the counterexamples to these principles aren’t merely contrived curiosities, but rather they lie at the heart of several plausible non-Humean theories. I go on to argue that my discussion has a number of important upshots. First, since my discussion entails that there can be grounded fundamental truths, it pushes back against the standard characterization of the fundamental truths as the ungrounded truths. In response, I present and defend a new analysis of fundamentality in terms of grounding. Second, I argue that, in light of my arguments against (iii) above, my discussion removes a major objection to the claim that all fundamental truths are qualitative truths.
The Nature of Implicit Bias: Advancing the Debate
Nick Byrd, Florida State University
The received, associationist view of implicit bias is under attack. Non-associationists argue that seemingly non-associative interventions change implicitly biased behaviors. And that would not be possible if implicit bias were associative, according to the argument. So, says the non-associationist, implicit bias must not be associative. This paper finds philosophical and empirical problems with the non-associationist’s argument. While the non-associationist is right to rethink how implicit bias is changed, the non-associationist prematurely infers full-blown non-associationism about implicit bias. But multiple methodologically and statistically strong debiasing experiments are consistent with some kind of associationism about implicit bias. So even if there are methodologically and statistically strong experiments whose findings are consistent with non-associationism, our total evidence would not be consistent with either associationism nor non-associationism alone. Rather, the total evidence would motivate new views of implicit bias: cognitive minimalism or interactionism.
Community and Self: On Memory and Multiplicity in the Work of María Lugones
Kevin Cedeño-Pacheco, Pennsylvania State University
The concept of the “multiplicitous self” is central to virtually all of María Lugones’s philosophical theories and practices. While considerable attention has been given to the intersubjective aspects of her theory, this paper concerns itself primarily with the intrasubjective implications of the concept and on the special demands that it places on our thinking about the inner-life of the subject. Rather than resembling a “self”—in the classical/Euro-modern sense of a unified or unifying individual—the multiplicitous self more closely resembles a kind of community. It is a community of selves inhering in a single body of flesh and memory. The goal of this paper then is to creatively read the radical implications of Lugones’s theory of the self and to clarify that way that it opens onto a space for interpreting and translating her political concepts to individual forms of self-reflection.
How Strong Is the Prima Facie Right to Own a Gun?
Chetan Cetty, University of Pennsylvania
Michael Huemer and others have argued that we have a strong, presumptive right to own a gun. Guns enable us to exercise our right to self-defense and prohibiting them would constitute a serious moral wrong. Such a right cannot be easily overridden, they contend. I argue that they have failed to show that we have a strong presumptive right to own a handgun. I show that a strong prima facie gun right is predicated on it being the only effective means of self-defense. The problem however is that the empirical literature on the comparative effectiveness of guns over alternatives for the purposes of self-defense lacks consensus. In light of this, we might opt for a game-theoretic approach to answer the titular question. I articulate two relevant features we must have knowledge about for this approach to yield an answer. We lack such knowledge, and thus, the titular question remains unanswered.
The Idea of Freedom: The Phenomenal Priority of Reason’s Power Before its Law
Bowen Chan, University of Toronto
In Groundwork III, Kant appears to attempt a deduction of the moral law by providing a deduction of freedom. Although the attempt seems to fail, Christine Korsgaard argues that it succeeds in establishing our freedom on account of the fact that we must act under the idea of freedom and act as if we were free. Sergio Tenenbaum argues, however, that Kant provides a deduction of neither freedom nor the moral law on independent grounds in Groundwork III, because our consciousness of the moral law is held as the ratio cognoscendi of freedom even in Groundwork III. I argue that, in the Groundwork, Kant does not adequately appreciate the distinction between the ratio essendi and the ratio cognoscendi, because he grants epistemic priority of our consciousness of reason as a power, i.e., freedom, over our consciousness of reason as a law, i.e., the moral law.
Compulsory National Service and the Trilemma of Productive Justice
Michael Cholbi, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
L. Stanczyk has recently identified a trilemma concerning “productive justice”:  Justice does not directly constrain occupational choice (“people can choose to work whatever lawful jobs they want”).  Justice forbids forcibly assigning jobs except where liberties are at risk.  Justice requires society to ensure more than merely liberties.  and  express widely accepted liberal stances regarding occupational liberty, while  is endorsed by any conception of justice that requires the state to provide their members welfare goods. This trilemma is of both theoretical and practical import: Most societies have welfare needs that go unmet by existing labor markets. I argue that  overstates the restrictions just states face with respect to compelling individuals to serve in particular socially useful occupations; sketch a proposal for compulsory national service (CNS) that evades this trilemma; and conclude that CNS can be plausibly categorized as a just tax on individuals’ time.
Philosophy, Fiction, and the Unsayable
Timothy Cleveland, New Mexico State University
It is commonplace to regard many great works of literature—poems, dramas, fictions—as in some sense ‘philosophical,’ yet ever since Plato, there has been a tension between the kind of abstract theorizing that goes on in philosophy and the kind of focus on concrete particulars that occurs in poetry and fiction. I want to elaborate and focus on this ‘Platonic’ tension, and ask in what sense, if any, literature in the form of poetry, drama, and fiction can contribute significantly to our philosophical understanding. Along the way, I will consider, and finding wanting, Philip Kitcher’s recent proposal for regarding literary works as serious philosophy. I will suggest there something in the ‘form’ or the style of certain poems, novels, and plays that makes them especially, or perhaps even best, suited to handling particular philosophical perplexities. Literary texts may show us something that a theoretical discourse cannot say.
Inattention and Negligence
Nicolas Cornell, University of Michigan
Consider a typical case of negligence: a driver fails to see an object in the road and causes an accident. In both law and moral life, we routinely hold people accountable for such failures. It is often tempting to cast such failures in terms of a breach of duty, as the law of negligence does. But this is misleading because the accountability is not based on any conscious act or choice of the wrongdoer. This reality leads theorists in a number of somewhat unsatisfactory directions: some express skepticism about accountability for negligence, some attempt to trace negligence to a prior course of conduct, and some try to understand duties in terms of external conduct. I argue that we can better resolve this problem by recognizing a mismatch between the complaints we can make and our duties to one another. To explain, I sketch a "procedural" perspective on moral complaints.
The Necessity of Consequences in Ockham and Buridan
Milo Crimi, University of California, Los Angeles
Medieval theories of consequences (consequentiae) are theories of logical entailment and inference. Angel d’Ors argues that John Buridan’s account points to an equivocation in the notion of necessity underlying the validity of consequences. On this interpretation, simple and as-of-now consequences are necessary in different senses of ‘necessary’. In a reply to d'Ors, Calvin Normore argues that there's a univocal notion of necessity—the “first grade”' (“primus gradus”) of necessity—underlying the validity of Buridan’s consequences. On this interpretation, simple and as-of-now consequences are necessary in the same sense of ‘necessary’. Part of my task here is to defend and elaborate on Normore’s interpretation of Buridan; another part is to consider the extent to which it applies to William Ockham.
Moral Responsibility without General Ability
Taylor Cyr, Washington University in St. Louis
Philip Swenson, College of William and Mary
It is widely thought that, to be morally responsible for some action or omission, an agent must have had, at the very least, the general ability to do otherwise than that action or omission. As we argue in this paper, however, there are counterexamples to the claim that moral responsibility requires the general ability to do otherwise. We present several cases in which agents lack the general ability to do otherwise and yet are intuitively morally responsible for what they do, and we argue that such cases raise problems for various kinds of accounts of moral responsibility. After considering an objection, we suggest two alternative approaches to thinking about the connection between moral responsibility and abilities to do otherwise, one of which denies that there is any ability-to-do-otherwise requirement on moral responsibility and the other of which requires only an opportunity to do otherwise.
Viewing-as Explanations and Ontic Dependence
William D'Alessandro, University of Illinois at Chicago
Abstract According to a widespread view in metaphysics and philosophy of science (the “Dependence Thesis”), all explanations involve relations of ontic dependence between the items appearing in the explanandum and the items appearing in the explanans. I argue that a family of mathematical cases, which I call “viewing-as explanations,” are incompatible with the Dependence Thesis. These cases, I claim, feature genuine explanations that aren’t supported by ontic dependence relations. Hence the thesis isn’t true in general. The first part of the paper defends this claim and discusses its significance. I argue, for example, that many mathematical explanations are apparently compatible with Dependence, so the existence of counterexamples is interesting and non-obvious. The second part of the paper considers whether viewing-as explanations occur in the empirical sciences, focusing on the case of so-called fictional models (such as Bohr’s model of the atom). Some authors have suggested that fictional models can be explanatory even though they fail to represent actual worldly dependence relations. Whether or not such models explain, I suggest, depends on whether we think scientific explanations necessarily give information relevant to intervention and control.
Grounding Necessitation and Composition
James Darcy, University of Virginia
Grounding orthodoxy holds that the grounds necessitate the grounded. That is, if x fully grounds y, then, necessarily, if x exists, then y exists. This paper examines the claim that the grounds necessitate. First, I will show that a commitment to grounding necessitation requires more than most ordinarily suppose. Those who endorse necessitation must also endorse a further thesis. This thesis—internality—holds that if x grounds y, then, necessarily, if x exists and y exists, then x fully grounds y. But an even more important claim follows. For, I shall argue, internality is false. A paradigm case of grounding, the grounding of composite objects in their suitably arranged parts, provides counterexamples to internality. Given the relationship between necessitation and internality, this undermines the reasons for believing necessitation. So, while necessitation is the orthodoxy, there is no reason to believe it.
Feminist Intuitions about Autonomy under Oppression
Carlo DaVia, Fordham University
There is a debate about the extent to which internalized oppressive social norms diminish autonomous agency. This debate is motivated in part by diverging feminist intuitions. The present paper seeks to advance this debate by presenting a phenomenological account of the intentional structures of our intentional feelings. This analysis advances the debate in two respects. First, it shows how feminist intuitions all possess an element of truth: oppressive social norms need not necessarily diminish the autonomy of our desires, but such norms will do so to the extent that internalizing them impairs the cognitive abilities constitutive of the feelings that motivate those desires. Second, the analysis will also show that the ways in which oppression compromises autonomy are more complex and insidious than hitherto appreciated.
A Granularity Problem for Impossible World Semantics
Morgan Davies, University of California, Santa Barbara
Impossible World Semantics is a successor to Possible World Semantics that has a good number of supporters. I argue that if a Lewis-Stalnaker theory of counterfactuals (or a corresponding extension for counterpossibles) is correct, then there is still a subclass of propositions that Impossible World Semantics won’t be able to intuitively individuate. I conclude that, for Impossible World Semantics to individuate propositions plausibly, one of two paths must be taken. Either, a Lewis-Stalnaker evaluation of counterfactuals (and its corresponding extension to counterpossibles) would have to be denied, which is a serious cost for multiple reasons that are discussed. Or Impossible World Semantics must incorporate structured intensions, in which case further argumentation would be needed to show that structured intensions don’t render impossible worlds superfluous in a hybrid theory.
What We Owe to Ourselves
Emmalon Davis, The New School for Social Research
Many philosophers have argued that the oppressed have a moral duty to resist their oppression. This paper examines, and ultimately rejects, Carol Hay’s (2013) Kantian account of such a duty. On Hay's account, the duty to resist oppression consists in a self-directed obligation to protect one’s rational nature—by protecting one’s rational capacities—from the damage of oppression. I argue that resisting certain forms of oppression will likely undermine, rather than protect, one’s rational capacities; where this is the case, an oppressed person’s rational capacities will likely be damaged both if they choose to resist and if they choose not to resist. This generates a genuine moral dilemma for the oppressed. I conclude that Hay’s view risks placing undue cognitive burdens on those who are already disproportionately vulnerable to the depletion of their psychological resources and makes moral failure inevitable.
Kant’s Federalism of Free States: A Contractual View
Yi Deng, University of North Georgia
The paper begins with Kant’s puzzling positions on a federalism of free states and a global republic, and then defends Kant’s federalism of free states (also translated as a voluntary federation of states) over a global republic by recognizing the disanalogy between a state of nature among individuals and a state of nature among states. Further, I argue that to secure “the freedom of a state” (ZeF 8:356), a contractual account of Kantian federalism of free states requires assurance among wills of peoples beyond the traditional assurance of rightful possessions.
Two Arguments Against Perceptual Inferentialism
David DiDomenico, University of Miami
Perceptual Inferentialism is the view that the etiology of perceptual experience sometimes involves inference. If true, the view suggests that the subject of a perceptual experience can be rational or irrational for having a certain experience. Just as it is irrational to form a belief through epistemically bad inference (e.g. inference that is hasty, question-begging, etc.) it is also irrational to have an experience when that experience is an epistemically bad inferential response to the input to the experience. In this paper, I present two arguments against Perceptual Inferentialism.
Effective Altruism and Collective Obligations
Alexander Dietz, University of Southern California
Effective altruism (EA) is a movement devoted to the idea of doing good in the most effective way possible. EA has been the target of a number of critiques. In this paper, I focus on one prominent critique: that EA fails to acknowledge the importance of institutional change. Brian Berkey has recently argued that this charge either fails to identify a problem with EA's core idea that each of us should do the most good we can, or makes unreasonable claims about what we should do. However, I argue that we can understand the critique in a way that enables us to respond to these objections. On this version of the critique, EA relies on an overly individualistic approach to ethics. We need to think not only about how each of us can do good, it can be argued, but also about how we together can do good.
Reliable Knowledge: A Reply to Turri
Jonathan Dixon, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Recently John Turri (2015) has argued, contra the various reliabilist epistemologies, that reliability is not a necessary condition for knowledge. In this paper I argue that Turri’s arguments fail to establish that unreliable knowledge is possible. I conclude with positive reasons why reliability must be a necessary condition for knowledge.
On the Possibility of a Neuroaesthetics of Natural Environments
James Dow, Hendrix College
Experiences of nature involve multisensory engagement, immersion of ourselves in nature, and transformative experiences. Could such aesthetic experiences be described, explained, and predicted by neuroscience? Neuroaesthetics has emerged as a discipline that explains and predicts aesthetic experiences of visual art, music, and literature. Enactivists about perception have argued against the possibility of neuroaesthetics based on the claim that perceptual experience involves sensitivity to sensorimotor contingencies. Engagement theorists about nature aesthetics have argued that engaged aesthetic experiences are non-conceptual, participatory, and action-oriented. Do the enactivist arguments against the possibility of a neuroaesthetics of art provide similar challenges to the possibility of explaining and predicting aesthetic experiences of natural environments? I argue for the counterintuitive thesis that while neuroaesthetics of art can overcome hurdles posed by the enactivists, by appealing to pragmatic representations, the neuroaesthetics of natural environments cannot overcome challenges presented by the action-oriented nature of the aesthetic experience of nature.
The Normative Core of Digital Consent
Elizabeth Edenberg, Georgetown University
At the heart of the distinctive approaches to privacy regulation are notions of consent as they relate to the computing of personal information. Most privacy scholarship on consent in the digital age either discards the practice as unworkable or seeks to improve existing procedures. By contrast, in this paper, I seek a normative core of digital consent in order to provide a framework for evaluating competing legal standards against standards for morally transformative consent to ensure that legal frameworks adequately protect the individual and communal rights at stake.
The Act of Forgetting: Husserl on the Constitution of the Past
Patrick Eldridge, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
I advance a phenomenology of forgetting based on Husserl’s accounts of time-consciousness and passive synthesis. This theory of forgetting is crucial for understanding the transcendental constitution of the phenomenal past. Without forgetting, neither memory nor retention suffice for a consciousness of the past as past. I provide a descriptive analysis of forgetting as a complex process that integrates an accomplishment of retention called ‘temporal contraction’ with an accomplishment of passive synthesis called ‘affective fusion.’ This generates a double concealment in which consciousness both forgets its object and forgets that it has forgotten it, thereby constituting it as truly past.
A Theorem of Infinity for Principia Mathematica
Landon D. C. Elkind, University of Iowa
I prove a theorem of infinity for “Principia Mathematica.” The proof requires altering the meta-theory of “Principia.” In “Principia” we have a simple type theory with a lowest type (call this ‘simple N-type theory’). Our key idea is to allow for infinitely-descending types just as there are infinitely-ascending types; that is, we allow our simple type theory to be not well-founded (call this ‘simple Z-type theory’). Given the acceptableness of “Principia”s (well-founded) simple type theory, this adjustment is minor. This adjustment is also implicitly suggested by various remarks of Whitehead and Russell. By so-adjusting “Principia,” a core objection to Logicism—namely, that Logicism cannot recover Peano arithmetic without an axiom of infinity—dissipates.
“Ramseyfying” Probabilistic Comparativism
Edward Elliott, University of Leeds
Comparativism is the position that the fundamental doxastic state consists in comparative beliefs (e.g., believing p to be more likely than q), with partial beliefs (e.g., believing p to degree x) being grounded in and explained by patterns amongst comparative beliefs that exist under special conditions. In this paper, I develop a version of comparativism that originates with a suggestion made by Frank Ramsey in his “Probability and Partial Belief” (1929). By means of a representation theorem, I show how this “Ramseyan comparativism” can be used to weaken the (unrealistically strong) conditions required for probabilistic coherence that comparativists usually rely on, while still preserving enough structure to let us retain the usual comparativists’ account of quantitative doxastic comparisons.
Analyzing Participatory Action Research as a Quest for Hermeneutic Justice
Zeyad El Nabolsy, Cornell University
The main aim of this paper is to show that bringing participatory action research in conversation with Miranda Fricker’s ideas in her Epistemic Injustice helps strengthen both intellectual projects. Fricker’s concept of hermeneutic injustice allows us to make explicit the implicit epistemological theory that underlies work done using participatory action research methods. Given that technical epistemological discourse is essentially absent from the writings of researchers who adhere to participatory action research as a method, the ability to offer clarification that Fricker’s work provides represents a substantial gain for participatory action research as a methodology. In turn, reflection on the empirical results obtained by way of participatory action research helps us develop some of the more underdeveloped elements in Fricker’s account, e.g., her relatively schematic account of what the virtuous listener must do in order to be able to create a more inclusive hermeneutical climate for members of hermeneutically marginalized groups
Aristotle on the Role of Memory in Phantasia
Vivian Feldblyum, University of Pittsburgh
In De Anima III.10, Aristotle makes a distinction perceptual and deliberative phantasia. He then makes a subdivision between two kinds of perceptual phantasia: indefinite and definite. However, what Aristotle means by these terms is not clear, as he gives only a few vague sentences of explanation. I argue that we can understand this subdivision by considering the role that the capacity for memory plays in Aristotle’s account of phantasia. First, I show that in De Anima III.3 phantasia is characterized as the soul’s capacity for producing images. I then show how that account leads us to the puzzle Aristotle outlines in III.11, and argue that we should interpret indefinite phantasia as concurrent with an act of perception, which does not require the capacity for memory. Finally, I suggest that the account given in III.3 is an account of definite phantasia specifically, and not an account of phantasia in general.
Untangling Motivation, Desire, and Action in Kant’s Empirical Psychology
Leonard Feldblyum, Brown University
Kant’s account of desire is crucial to his explanation of how the moral law motivates us to act. He claims that “desire (appetitio) is the self-determination of a subject's power through the representation of something in the future as an effect of this representation” (7:251). Yet Kant does not explain which of the subject's various powers he has in mind, nor in what sense determination of that power by representations of the future counts as self-determination. I contend that the subject's power is her capacity to generate the psychological states that cause her to perform specific actions; I call these motivational states ‘activation signals’. When a subject generates an activation signal by representing some future state of affairs as painful or pleasant to her, she has an occurrent desire. I also distinguish the self-determination at work in desire from the type of self-determination Kant associates with autonomy, namely, self-legislation.
Pragmatic Progress and the Improvement of Medical Knowledge
Manuela Fernandez-Pinto, Universidad de los Andes
The globalized privatization of scientific research has been both rampant and vicious for evidence-based medicine and the production of medical knowledge. Pharmaceutical companies now control the performance and funding of the majority of clinical trials and drug development strategies worldwide, and have strong financial incentives to keep unfavorable results confidential, squeeze patent revenues, and prompt doctor prescriptions through massive marketing campaigns. The aim of the paper is to offer a philosophical analysis of the crisis in medical knowledge, in terms of the pragmatic progress needed for pharmaceutical research to solve pressing epistemic and social health problems. If this reading is accurate, the analysis can guide the way forward by identifying a crucial mechanism needed to close the epistemic gap in current medical knowledge, which in turn serves as a criterion for filtering current and future proposals. The paper is divided as follows. First, I show that the drug market has led to a significant epistemic gap between the knowledge needed to address pressing social health issues and the knowledge produced following the demands of the global market. Second, I examine two competing notions of scientific progress. Following Kitcher (2012), I distinguish between teleological progress, i.e., progress understood as achieving or moving towards a general epistemic goal, such as truth or knowledge, and pragmatic progress, i.e., progress understood as solving a particular problem at hand. Using the notion of pragmatic progress, I suggest a new reading of the crisis in medical knowledge, which emphasizes the problems that clinical research is set to solve. Then I present two alternative ways to restructure medical research to fulfill this aim, illustrating how each can be implemented through real-world examples. The last section addresses a possible objection to the argument and exemplifies how the criterion can be used to filter undesirable proposals.
The Social Life of (Platonic) Beauty
Jonathan Fine, Yale University
The ancient Greek concept of the kalon (beautiful, admirable, noble) connects beauty to shame and honor at the heart of a good life. This paper investigates this connection to retrieve the distinctly social dimension of the concept of beauty. I argue that, by examining how the kalon in Plato regulates ethical motivations to appear beautiful before and be admired by others, we shall better appreciate the complex dynamics of beauty in social modes of self-presentation and its fundamental yet ambivalent place in contemporary ethical life.
Thomas Foerster, Cornell University
It might be morally permissible to value yourself more than you value strangers. Still, there is presumably a limit to *how much* more you can permissibly value yourself than you value strangers. For example, it is presumably wrong to value yourself more than 100 or 1,000 times as much as you value strangers. I consider a class of arguments that aim to get from this apparently modest claim to fairly extreme conclusions about what morality demands of us. I focus on an argument suggested by Toby Ord which aims to show that we are morally required to donate most of our money to charity, and argue that it is sound.
Justice and the Ontology of Art
Jeremy Fried, University of Oklahoma
This paper argues that justice should be a consideration within art ontologies. I argue this by looking at case studies in the art world where it seems ontological decisions and justice considerations come into conflict. In these cases, rather than merely acknowledging that ontology may lead to unjust results, I argue that notions of justice should influence the ontological commitments being made. Moreover, I posit that this already occurs, even when such justice considerations are not openly acknowledged as being part of the ontology. By making these implicit justice considerations explicit, ontologies can be more consistent and avoid ethical quagmires.
Uncertainty, Belief, and Ethical Risk
James Fritz, Ohio State University
This paper argues that a person’s epistemic obligations are sensitive to facts about the choices she faces. I begin from the claim that certain important norms on action are sensitive to the riskiness of our choices. Though this commitment is attractive, it is less initially plausible that paradigmatic epistemic norms are sensitive to the riskiness of our choices. I argue from the former claim (Risk-Sensitivity for Action) to the latter (Risk-Sensitivity for Belief) using a premise that connects rational belief to rational action (the Belief-Action Link). I motivate the Belief-Action Link, first, through reflection on the role played by beliefs about objective obligations, and second, through appeal to the irrationality of akrasia. Notably, my conclusion is bolder than the more familiar conclusion of pragmatic encroachment; it suggests that even normative truths that have nothing to do with our practical interests can make a difference to what we ought to believe.
Platonist Idealism and the Combination Problem
Torrance Fung, University of Virginia
Panpsychism is the thesis that mentality is fundamental and ubiquitous in the natural world. The combination problems—which include the subject-summing problem, the palette problem, and the structural mismatch problem—are the biggest obstacles to the panpsychist solution to the mind-body problem. I offer a novel view that combines Platonism and Idealism, arguing it solves the combination problems while retaining more virtues than other panpsychisms. In particular, I argue i) that by appealing to the natures of Forms it can solve the palette problem better than other bottom-up panpsychisms; ii) by appealing to idealism it is also preferable over other top-down panpsychisms qua retaining monistic purity; and iii) by saying that Forms and their instantiations are the fundamental constituents of reality it retains the experiential datum that there are a plurality of concrete entities, making it preferable over top-down idealisms.
The Bodily Baggage of World-Traveling: Intercorporeality in Lugones
Mercer Gary, Pennsylvania State University
This paper argues that, though María Lugones is critical of the position of the coherent and autonomous liberal subject, her theory of the multiplicity of the self implicitly identifies the individual human body as the glue holding the multiple selves together. Such a reliance could make more difficult Lugones’ desired move from individual subjectivity to collective being. While she moves towards a theory of intercorporeality between individual bodies, I argue that another level of embodied relation exists between the multiple selves. Such an intercorporeality between embodied selves disrupts the coherence of the individual body and completes Lugones’ critique of the unified body/subject.
Two Critiques of German Idealism: Reframing the Point of Transition From Kant to Hegel
Gerad Gentry, Lewis University and University of Chicago
In this article, I take up two critiques commonly leveled against German Idealism—as a “family of programs”: (1) its supposed totalizing systematicity, which results in closed systems, and (2) its reversion to pre-critical forms of monism, which are irreconcilable with the discursivity of reason fundamental to Kant’s critical philosophy. I reject these two critiques through a postulation of a fundamental principle in Kant’s critical thought, which I argue should be understood as the key point of transition between the critical philosophy of Kant and that of the Idealists. The point of transition that I defend is the principle of the free lawfulness of the imagination. By bringing this principle from the KU into view we have the tools necessary for seeing (a) how and why the system programs of the Idealists are not subject to the first major critique, and (b) why it is that the notion of intuitive understanding employed by several figures, including Hegel, cannot be viewed as either pre-critical or as an amendment to Kant’s notion of the discursivity of human reason, but is rather a internal specification of Kant’s discursive reason itself. This refutation of the second major critique also thereby identifies the central point of transition between between Kant and the Idealists within a conception of transcendental idealism that denies a non-naturalistic ontological domain of reason.
The Spontaneous Self
Jonathan Gingerich, University of California, Los Angeles
Spontaneous freedom, is central to our ordinary talk about freedom. Yet contemporary moral philosophers are concerned primarily to identify the sort of freedom that is a prerequisite for moral responsibility. For this reason, they typically focus on the deliberate, intentional phenomenon of voluntary action rooted in rational choice. Some moral philosophers (e.g., Christine Korsgaard) have emphasized the value of creating well-ordered selves, actively constituted through rational deliberation. Such “integrity theories” are attractive because they provide an account of agency according to which ideal moral agents are guaranteed to endorse their actions and beliefs and to honor their promises and agreements. I argue that integrity theories also forbid moral agents to seek out experiences of spontaneous freedom: such agents must act in a manner that they antecedently, reflectively endorse, while spontaneous freedom requires acting in a manner not antecedently fixed by one’s own decisions.
Disability and Molyneux's Question: A Reclamation
Brian Glenney, Norwich University
Molyneux's question, whether a newly sighted person might immediately identify tactilely familiar shapes by sight alone, stands accused of "ocularism" and "testimonial injustice" for hypothesizing about people with blindness. I present these arguments and affirm their concerns, arguing for a novel approach of accepting the reports of people with blindness as credible based on recent work in the philosophy of disability. In doing so, we can credit two new answers by people with blindness to the over three-hundred year history of Molyneux's question by Thérèse-Adèle Husson (1825) and Pierre Villey (1930).
The Shadow of Answerability: Reply to Enoch on Taking Responsibility
Trystan Goetze, University of Sheffield
Enoch argues that we are not responsible, in the sense of being answerable, for morally unlucky outcomes of our actions and other events that he says lie in the ‘penumbra of our agency’. Yet, he suggests that we still have duties to take responsibility for these events, in the sense that we should assume answerability for them. This allows him to accommodate Williams’s observations concerning agent-regret without accepting the existence of bad moral luck. Against this, I propose that we are already answerable for our penumbral agency. I show that Enoch fails to capture our ordinary understanding of ‘taking responsibility’, and that his view does not make any important moral distinctions that mine cannot. We can accept the existence of bad moral luck without admitting that we are responsible in any problematic sense for morally unlucky events.
Transcendental Cures for Skepticism
Charles Goldhaber, University of Pittsburgh
An ambitious, or curative, refutation of skepticism tries to convince a skeptic that she has been refuted. A modest, or preventive, refutation aims only to satisfy non-skeptics. Many recent philosophers have given up on reaching the skeptic, and turned to modest refutations. In this paper, I respond to doubts about the viability of broadly Kantian "transcendental" arguments in addressing skepticism. I argue that a weakened version of such an argument, together with a plausible "ought implies can" principle, offers a viable cure that can reach the skeptic.
Intra-group Epistemic Injustice: Jewish Identity, White Supremacy, and Zionism
Dana Grabelsky, The Graduate Center, CUNY
While there are a number of ways one might approach the puzzle of Jewish identity, in this paper I begin with an analysis of race: specifically, I will use Sally Haslanger’s theory of race as a matter of racialization to argue that Jewish identity is—or has been historically—a racial identity. This may initially seem problematic, given the obvious antisemitic history of the categorization of Jews as a race. But a discussion of Jewish identity will need to address this antisemitic history, as antisemitism has undeniably played a pivotal role in constructing a significant aspect of modern Jewish identity. This racial analysis will lay the groundwork for a further question: how does Jewish identity relate to white identity, particularly in the United States, but also in Israel? Subsequently, I will argue that the ways in which Jewish identity intersects with both whiteness and Zionism leads to a form of epistemic injustice perpetrated within the Jewish community—specifically, an intra-group epistemic injustice perpetrated against anti-Zionist Jews by Zionist Jews. I will conclude by suggesting that this intra-group epistemic injustice is particularly pernicious in its consequences for Jews and people of color alike. Insofar as epistemic injustice is usually—if not always—accompanied by ethical and political injustices, the silencing of anti-Zionist Jews by Zionist Jews serves to uphold white supremacy both in the United States and in Israel, in regards to the marginalization of Jews of color. And far from combating antisemitism, Zionism can accommodate it and oftentimes even welcomes it.
Fashionable Morality: Kant and Social Virtues
Michael Gregory, University of South Carolina
Kant’s principle of publicity, a form of the categorical imperative, suggests that we must, in forming political maxims, acknowledge the public acceptability of that maxim. In other words, political maxims are legitimate insofar as they satisfy the condition of public acceptability. This principles relation to morality has often been overlooked. I will argue that applying the principle of publicity to morality helps us to define a category of social virtues in Kant’s philosophy. Kant’s social virtues are categorized by their external and public nature and are distinguished from a “pure” morality as Kant defines in the Groundwork. Social virtues are not “true” morality in that they do not necessarily concern the motivations of the agent, but only the external moral “appearance” of the action. I will draw on Kant’s account of humanitas aesthetica et decorum as the example of a fashionable morality grounded on the principle of publicity.
Methodologies de la Lengua: Resistant Linguistic Praxis and “World”-Travel in the Work of María Lugones
Erika Grimm, Pennsylvania State University
This paper explores the relationship between language and “world” in the works of María Lugones with the purpose of illuminating possibilities for the development of a resistant linguistic praxis sensitive to projects of decolonial feminist philosophy. The first part of this paper draws on translation and lexicography as examples that serve to illustrate specific facets of scientific linguistic methodology that highlight the coloniality of dominant conceptualizations of language and its use and that have worked to further linguistic imperialism and reinforce oppressive “worlds” of sense. Following this discussion, Walter Mignolo’s concept of “languaging” is introduced as a move “toward the idea that speech and writing are strategies for orienting and manipulating social domains of interaction,” a sentiment that resonates and coheres with poignant themes in Lugones’ theorization of playful “world”-travel as a potentially resistant and liberatory practice.
Harmless Torturers, Accumulation Cases, and a Solution to the Mismatch Problem
Robert Gruber, University of Massachusetts Amherst
In accumulation cases, a large set of seemingly trivial individual acts gives rise to a collectively suboptimal outcome. Act Consequentialism paradoxically delivers mismatched verdicts: the theory condemns what the group does without being able to say anything against what the individuals have done. Perhaps the most famous illustration of accumulation is Derek Parfit's case of the Harmless Torturers. I identify a distinguishing axiological feature of the Harmless Torturers: unlike certain standard versions of the mismatch problem, the case involves indeterminate value comparisons. On this basis, I show how Act Consequentialism can be modified in order to solve the problem.
On the Badness of Being Unforgiving
Simone Gubler, University of Texas at Austin
Forgiveness is often conceived of as supererogatory. Acts of forgiveness are good to perform, but they cannot be demanded of their actor, and their omission cannot be called wrongdoing. But certain cases present a challenge to this conception. Isn't there something wrong with refusing to forgive as a matter of general principle? And isn't there something wrong with refusing to forgive a small slight, or a genuinely contrite wrongdoer? In this paper, I defend the supererogatory conception of forgiveness, while offering a novel way of understanding our adverse moral reactions to such cases.
How to Deal with Kant's Racism: In and Out of the Classroom
Victor Guerra, University of California, Riverside
In this article I argue that we should take a stance of deep acknowledgment when considering Kant’s racist both inside and outside the classroom. Taking a stance of deep acknowledgment should be understood as 1) taking Kant’s racial thought to be reflective of his moral character, 2) Kant being accountable for his racial thought and 3) being willing to consider the possibility that Kant’s racial thought is consistent and inextricable from his moral philosophy. Alternative forms of engaging with Kant’s racial work have either moral or pedagogical failings, which range from simply teaching the history of philosophy uncritically to outright deception. A stance of deep acknowledgement will allow philosophers to understand how Kant’s racial thought interacts with his moral philosophy and allow instructors to teach philosophy in a historically contextualized approach so as to not alienate students whose demographic was disparaged by Kant.
Moral Feeling and Moral Self-Awareness: The Phenomenological Role of Respect in Kant’s Moral Psychology
Tanner Hammond, Boston University
Kant's inclusion of a peculiar “feeling of respect” [Gefühl der Achtung] in an otherwise rationalistic moral psychology has puzzled critics and proponents alike. Among those sympathetic to Kant's theory of moral motivation, the traditional dispute over the role of this so-called moral feeling in generating moral deeds has been waged almost exclusively over its status as a mechanistic psycho-physiological force capable of impelling the subject to action: “Affectivists” maintain that some host of such mechanistic affective forces must be operative in the etiology of moral action; “Intellectualists” deny this, arguing that a purely intellectual apprehension of the moral law must be sufficient for moral motivation if we are to preserve the coherence of Kant's framework. In this paper, I do not attempt to resolve this dispute, but rather aim to show how a faithful treatment of Kant's moral-motivational account must exceed its scope altogether, and this insofar as the motivational contribution of moral feeling cannot be settled by determining its status as a mechanistic force. In particular, the traditional debate has paid insufficient attention to the phenomenological role that moral feeling is serving in Kant’s account—specifically, to its role as a conscious experience internal to the subject's first-person deliberative perspective. To this end, I argue that moral feeling is necessary for moral motivation insofar as it enables a unique form of self-awareness which is a condition of the possibility of our very concept and representation of duty, and is thus a condition of the possibility of dutiful action itself.
Why Purists Should Be Skeptics
Michael Hannon, University of London
Fallibilism and purism are two of the most orthodox ideas in epistemology. According to the fallibilist, one can know that a particular claim is true even though one’s justification for that claim is less than fully conclusive. According to the purist, knowledge does not depend on practical factors. Fallibilism and purism are widely assumed to be compatible; in fact, the combination of these views has been called the ‘ho-hum,’ obvious, traditional view of knowledge. But I will argue that fallibilism and purism are incompatible. The best explanation for fallibilism requires one to reject purism, while maintaining purism should lead one to reject fallibilism. It follows that the orthodox, traditional, obvious, ‘ho-hum’ view of knowledge is deeply mistaken.
Belief and the Norms of Assertion
Keith Harris, University of Missouri
A popular view among epistemologists is that epistemically proper assertion requires that the speaker believe the proposition asserted. The principle is typically taken to be rather obvious, and so few arguments have been put forward in support of the principle. Moreover, there seem to be cases in which a speaker’s assertion is epistemically proper despite the speaker not believing the contents of that assertion. Here I develop three theses of increasing strength. I argue here that the belief norm of assertion ought to be abandoned. Many related norms imply the belief norm and so my arguments likewise support the abandonment of these norms. Finally, I propose an alternative explanation of the data that motivate the belief norm as well as the data that motivate its abandonment. This explanation involves rejecting the existence of distinctive epistemic norms on assertion altogether.
Philosophical Intuitions and Socially Significant Language
Samia Hesni, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
As we’re doing philosophy of language that bears on social and political issues, it is worth revisiting the question of how we rely on our philosophical and linguistic intuitions, and what assumptions underlie our justification of such a reliance. At least two threads of thought in the philosophical literature are relevant to this question: first, the discussion of situatedness in feminist epistemology; second, the experimental philosophy literature about philosophical expertise and philosophical intuitions. My argument is that we (analytic philosophers examining social and political philosophy of language) should be careful—perhaps more careful than we have been—when we rely on our intuitions to make claims about what is going on linguistically and socially. Specifically, we should be more careful than we are when we deal with other kinds of language (although we are probably being too cavalier in those domains, as well). I don’t think we should give up relying on our intuitions about racist/sexist/homophobic/otherwise harmful and derogatory speech; I think that we should be more explicit that our intuitions are limited, and open to the possibility that they might not align with the intuitions of those most impacted by the the kinds of speech we are analyzing – and that we might have been taking for granted that they do. And I think that as a result, we might find that the conclusions we draw from our intuitions have to be revised or qualified.
The Nature of Art Today: Notes on the Transition from Romanticism to the Anthropocene
Travis Holloway, SUNY Farmingdale
This paper explores various approaches to nature in the era of the so-called Anthropocene. After offering a brief history of the relationship between nature and anthropoi in aesthetics, I consider how human attempts to perceive, reconcile with, or master nature are being disrupted by catastrophic weather. I articulate six performative practices or rituals that might mark an approach to nature in the Anthropocene in works by Gilbert Garcin, Sarah Anne Johnson, Anne Washburn, and others. My effort is not to suggest that these practices are or should be “universal,” but merely to reflect on how we might think about nature in an era of disaster.
Spinoza’s Methodology Is Not Anti-Cartesian
Matthew Homan, Christopher Newport University
Commentators frequently portray Spinoza’s methodology as anti-Cartesian: whereas Descartes seeks an external guarantee (in God) for the truth of clear and distinct ideas, Spinoza believes that true ideas require no external guarantee, but are known to be true through themselves. I argue that Spinoza’s methodology is not anti-Cartesian. Despite his outward disdain for the skeptic, Spinoza addresses skeptical arguments nevertheless, and proceeds largely along Cartesian lines. Focusing primarily on the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect, I argue that analysis of Spinoza’s foremost examples of ideas known to be true through themselves, namely, his geometrical examples, frustrates the anti-Cartesian reading. Although such ideas are true in form, their correspondence with a real object in nature is dubitable prior to knowledge of God. In order to establish truth as correspondence, it is necessary, for Spinoza, as for Descartes, to arrive at knowledge of God, which functions as an epistemic ground.
Moral Realism and the Liberalization of Values
Justin Horn, Oklahoma State University
Over the last few decades, a number of philosophers have argued that facts about human evolution call into question the claim that we have knowledge of objective moral truths. In a recent paper, Michael Huemer responds to these evolutionary debunkers, and in doing so provides a novel empirical argument for moral realism. In particular, Huemer argues that evolutionary debunkers are unable to explain the “liberalization of values” over the course of human history, and that moral realism in fact provides the best explanation of this phenomenon. In this paper, I respond to Huemer’s argument on behalf of the evolutionary debunkers. First, I briefly note some grounds for skepticism about the empirical claims that are supposed to get Huemer’s argument off the ground. Second, I argue that, contrary to Huemer, the force of evolutionary debunking arguments does not depend on their ability to explain recent changes in moral attitudes. Finally, I argue that Huemer’s own proposed explanation of the liberalization of values is problematic, and that invoking a metaethical thesis to explain global changes in moral attitudes is generally unlikely to succeed. I conclude that the global liberalization of values fails to undercut evolutionary debunking arguments, and does not provide support for moral realism.
Mutually Beneficial Exploitation and the Desirability of Unenforced Law
Robert Hughes, University of Pennsylvania
Legal philosophers have long recognized the conceptual possibility of legal prohibitions that lack penalties or other forms of coercive enforcement, but non-coercive regulation has rarely been proposed as a policy alternative. I argue that legislators should consider non-coercive law a viable response to mutually beneficial exploitation. Mutually beneficial exploitation presents governments with a dilemma. Legally permitting mutually beneficial exploitation may send the message that the public condones these forms of exploitation. Coercively enforced regulation aimed at preventing exploitation may harm the people it is intended to help, as it may prevent mutually beneficial transactions that will not be replaced by other, fairer transactions. Non-coercive law offers a way out of this dilemma. Non-coercive regulation of exploitation would not risk the harmful effects of coercively enforced regulation. It would convey the state’s condemnation of exploitation, and it may help give content to the moral duty to conduct business fairly.
Why Conscientious Objection Is Not Political Protest
Brian Hutler, University of California, Los Angeles
This paper argues that conscientious objection should not be used as a form of political protest. Although the conscientious objector may oppose the objected-to law, she should not use her claim of objector status as an expression of political protest or as an attempt to undermine the law. As such, the state should generally refuse to grant exemptions to claimants who would seek to use conscientious objection to influence political decisions or to undermine existing laws or policies. For example, the state should generally not grant exemptions to persons who aim to use conscientious objection to protest or to undermine the constitutional rights to abortion or same-sex marriage. Conscientious objection may be justified, but only if the claimant accepts the democratic legitimacy of the law at issue, and seeks to change the law only through appropriate channels of democratic decision-making.
Kant's Organic Republic: Judging Property Purposively
Aaron Jaffe, Juilliard School
Kantian property is problematically under-determined. This is primarily due to Kant’s strategy of relying on regulative ideas to link rightful political organization to property. While ideas are orienting, the norms they sponsor permit any empirical arrangement that does not contradict the idea. Given such latitude, interpretations of Kantian property vary widely: from night-watchman libertarian notions of states protecting individual property rights, to social-redistributionist accounts of states mollifying the consequences of unrestrained individual property. In order to more precisely determine property and its relation to republican form, this paper develops Kant's suggestion in his critique of teleology that republics be judged as if they were organically purposive. Doing so would require that, like an organism, parts and the whole mutually determine each-other’s harmonious capacity for “healthy” self-reproduction. Since organically purposive judgments stem from the way systems appear to be structured, judgments of form can be used to generate norms with greater power to determine property. On this view, property that contributes to the purposive mutual-determination of parts and their republican whole would be permitted, while contra-purposive forms of property would be excluded. The paper concludes by highlighting the rather radical implications of this more determinate position.
Affirmative Action for Non-Racialists
Julian Jonker, University of Pennsylvania
Is affirmative action aimed at racial justice compatible with non-racialism? Affirmative action interventions are typically framed in a way that assumes that individuals belong to racial groups, and that these racial identities can and should be revealed to selection committees. But that is exactly what the non-racialist denies. The impasse assumes that affirmative action must be framed in terms of race-membership. But that is a misleading way to conceive of the project. Affirmative action is justified insofar as it aims to correct harms and wrongs due to racism. So affirmative action should be framed in terms of individuals’ vulnerability to racism, not their race-membership. I call this reformulation ‘vulnerability-based affirmative action,’ and I argue that it is compatible with non-racialism, and that it is at least as capable of achieving just outcomes as any race-based formulation of affirmative action.
Phenomenal Contrast Arguments and Achievement-like Phenomenology
Marta Jorba, University of the Basque Country
Phenomenal contrast arguments (PCA) are normally employed as arguments showing that a certain mental feature contributes to (the phenomenal character of) experience, that certain contents are represented in experience and that kinds of sui generis phenomenologies such as cognitive phenomenology exist. In this paper we examine a neglected aspect of such arguments, i.e., the ontological profile of the mental episodes involved in them, and argue that this happens to be a crucial feature of the arguments. We use linguistic tools to determine the lexical aspect of verbs and verb phrases—the tests for a/telicity and for duration. We then argue that all PCAs can show is the presence of a generic achievement-like phenomenology, especially in the cognitive domain, which contrasts with the role that PCAs are given in the literature.
Stage Theory and the Personite Problem
Alex Kaiserman, Oxford University
Mark Johnston has recently argued that four-dimensionalist theories of persistence are incompatible with even our most basic ethical and prudential practices. He calls this the personite problem. I argue that although Johnston’s arguments succeed on a worm-theoretic account of persistence, they fail on a stage-theoretic account. So much the worse, I conclude, for the worm theory.
Two Methods of Arguing for a Theory of Well Being
Luke Kallberg, Saint Louis University
I argue that the method used by Michael Bishop in The Good Life for confirming a theory of well-being cannot succeed against counterexamples attack the value of a theory’s stand-in for well-being: in Bishop’s case, this stand-in is Positive Causal Networks (PCNs). A common response is to “bite the bullet” and revise our judgment of the value in counterexample cases. I argue that Bishop’s method of confirming the theory cannot guide us in revising judgments in that way because his methodology has guaranteed that no evidence contrary to the counterexample is used to support his theory. This demonstrates a general epistemological point about when rebutting defeaters can and cannot be overcome.
Addiction Is Not a Brain Disease
Robert Kelly, University at Buffalo
Some addiction researchers defend the view that addiction is a brain disease. This view is also endorsed by a non-trivial percentage of the folk. In this paper, I argue that the brain disease model of addiction (BDMA) is false. Opponents of BDMA have commonly argued that the brain changes characteristically occurring in addiction are not dysfunctional. I take a different tack. First, I describe what I take to be the three most plausible interpretations of the central BDMA thesis that addiction is a brain disease: the semantic view, the identity view, and the conditions view. Next, I argue that all three versions of BDMA fail. Hence, we must conclude that addiction is not a brain disease. I then respond to the objection that my interpretations of BDMA are unfair because its defenders are really up to something else entirely. I discuss what this means for my rejection of BDMA.
Conciliatory Reasoning and the Problem of Self-Defeat
Aleks Knoks, University of Maryland
According to conciliatory views on disagreement, you have to back off from your well-reasoned views, at least a little, once you discover that your equally capable colleague’s views directly oppose them. Conciliatory views are intuitive, but they are said to run into an insuperable problem when answering the question of what should one do in the context of disagreement about the correct way to respond to disagreement. This paper attempts to get clearer on this problem and goes some way toward solving it. Drawing on ideas from Artificial Intelligence, it formulates an artificial conciliatory reasoner: a simple and mathematically precise model that can be used to tractably answer the question of what’s the correct conciliatory response to any given situation. This leads to a clear formulation of the problem which, in turn, points to a solution. The reasoner also helps assess other solutions from the literature.
Rational Dispositions, the Brain-Scrambler, and Brains-in-Vats
Liang-Zhou Koh, University of Toronto
In “Ambiguous Rationality,” Timothy Williamson distinguishes between a content-oriented conception of epistemic rationality and a disposition-oriented one and argues for their non-equivalence by appeal to a thought experiment involving a brain-scrambler. In this paper, I argue that because it is not safe to assume that the victim of the brain-scrambler retains her rational disposition despite the interference of the brain-scrambler, Williamson’s thought experiment fails to show the non-equivalence of the two conceptions. I also argue that one can accept the foregoing argument without conceding that victims of traditional sceptical scenarios also lose their rational dispositions.
Sickness Not Unto Death: Convalescence and Nietzsche’s “Anti-Perfectionism” about Health
Jordan Kokot, Boston University
We are always sick. There is always some aspect of our lives or bodies that aren't working at peak capacity, some part of ourselves that is declining, and some way in which we are weaker than we were yesterday. As healthy as we may seem, we are always on our way towards that sickness from which we won't recover. At the same time, even the sickest among us bear glimmers of health. People who learn they are dying often claim that they feel "more alive" and more hopeful than ever before, almost as though the clarity given by the nearness of death allows them to live in new and more robust ways. The ill often express a courage and strength that the healthiest find beyond their capacity. Even though the scars of many illnesses never fade, those who manage to recover from a great sickness are frequently the most vivacious among us. We are monopolized by our thowness into bodies and minds that are always on the edge of sickness and health. In this paper, I explore this “edge” between sickness and health in terms of what Friedrich Nietzsche refers to as “convalescence” (Genesung), or “growing better,” the “moment” towards greater health. In what follows I will offer an interpretation of Nietzschean convalescence and the way it grows out of his understanding of sickness and health: convalescence is the positive and productive mode of the experience of the relationship between sickness and health. It signals, not only a positive vector (an increase in power and a movement towards relative health), but also a life affirming interpretation of the relationship between sickness and health (an Amor fati towards the necessary duality of sickness and health). In fact, for Nietzsche, the possibility of the former is ultimately rooted in the latter.
The Moral Epistemology of Bare-Difference Arguments (and Why, Unfortunately, We Must Abandon Them)
Zak A. Kopeikin, University of Colorado Boulder
According to the dominant view of bare-difference methodology, by constructing two cases that hold everything constant but for the variation of one feature and testing our intuitions about the overall values of the cases, we can determine whether the varied feature is intrinsically better than, worse than, or equivalent to the feature that was varied (e.g. killing and letting die). In this paper, I argue that this methodology must be rejected. The methodology relies on a principle that holds that if, for some case, substituting a feature f for a feature g while holding all else equal improves (diminishes, or doesn’t affect) the intrinsic value in the case, then f is intrinsically better than (worse than, or value-equivalent to) g. I offer two arguments that show this principle is false.
Moral Theory and Moral Unfreedom
Robbie Kubala, Columbia University
Many objections have been raised to following a systematic moral theory: it is said to undermine our personal commitments, imply that our beliefs about our reasons are false, and lead to psychological instability. In this paper, I focus on a new objection, inspired by John Stuart Mill, which claims that agents who follow a single moral theory, even indirectly—employing it as a criterion of rightness and not as a decision procedure—are unfree. Freedom requires that, for any possible motivation one has, one has further motivations psychologically available that could defeat it. But agents who follow a moral theory have one ultimate motivational priority, and this prevents them from leading free lives. Although I believe that the objection applies equally to Kantians and virtue theorists, my focus here is indirect consequentialism, particularly as defended by Peter Railton (1984) and Philip Pettit (2015).
An Eco-Political Conception of the People: An Account for Indigenous Communities
Jonathan Kwan, The Graduate Center, CUNY
The concept of the people plays an important normative role in the issues of democracy, self-determination, and sovereignty but remains generally under-theorized in its ecological and territorial dimensions. I argue for a conception of the people that is both political and ecological in nature. A people will be understood as a group of persons who inhabit a bounded territory, engage in common activities of self-government, and consequently have duties of environmental stewardship and rights to environmental security over its territory. I criticize three alternative conceptions of the people understood as cultural nationalist (David Miller and Tamar Meisels), purely political (Margaret Moore), and purely ecological (Avery Kolers). Finally, I show how an eco-political conception helps account for the situation and interests of indigenous communities, whose political status as distinct peoples with collective self-determination claims is inextricably bound with their environmental security.
Akrasia, Knowledge, and Blame
Timothy M. Kwiatek, Cornell University
Many philosophers defend the possibility of freely performed, weak-willed actions. In Alfred Mele’s defense of such actions, he draws on psychological research which suggest different faculties of desire representation. I argue that the analysis Mele offers in light of this research lacks particular explanatory resources. I suggest that we should modify the way we think about beliefs and judgments in a way that both parallels the scalar way Mele’s treats desire, and that also better matches our phenomenal experience. As an example of how we might model this, I consider the use of credences in Bayesian epistemology. Finally, I consider the relationship between akrasia and blame. In light of the fact that we are motivated to explain certain cases as akratic, even if they were not, I develop a debunking argument against the intuitions the guide us towards the kind of analysis Mele offers in the first place.
The Rational Beginning of Intentional Actions
Derek Lam, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater
Anscombe observes that we know our intentional actions non-observationally. Given that many of our intentional actions consist of external happenings, this thesis leads to what John Schwenkler calls the Self-Knowledge Problem. In the literature, two approaches, which I’ll call the Inferential Theory and the Wishful Thinking Theory, are often presented as competing solutions to the Self-Knowledge Problem. In this essay, I argue that this is a mistake. The Wishful Thinking Theory is better understood to be primarily an answer not to the Self-Knowledge Problem, but a subtly different and largely unappreciated problem that I call the Transition Problem. Nonetheless, I’ll show why the theory doesn’t answer the Transition Problem adequately. And I’ll offer my solution.
Gestalt Properties and the Contents of Perceptual Experience
Casey Landers, University of Miami
I defend the view that gestalt properties, not high-level properties, are the contents of perceptual experience. First, I provide an account of how gestalt properties are the products of a perceptual learning process. Then I argue that empirical studies that allegedly support that high-level properties are perceptually experienced fail to rule out my account. I argue that these empirical studies are consistent with the subject’s perceptual experiences representing gestalt properties. I focus on a study on face perception, but explain how my critique could generalize to any behavioral study that allegedly supports high-level perception. My critique of empirical studies also highlights how the representation of gestalt properties in perceptual experience can sufficiently mediate the categorization of high-level properties. These points, taken together, undermine empirical support for the view that high-level properties are the contents of perceptual experiences, and bolster the view that gestalt properties are represented.
Assertion, Norms, Shared Policies, and Moral Obligation
JJ Lang, Stanford University
When we judge an assertion to be wrong, what is the normative force of our judgment? Does this force come from anything essential to assertion, or rather from general norms governing cooperative communication that assertion is typically, but contingently, a part of? I suggest that this question is mistaken, as there is an essential connection between assertion and shared activity, and that this connection explains the source of the normative force. I argue that assertion is an act that conventionally expresses an intention on behalf of the speaker (S) to enter into a reciprocal relationship of accountability with the hearer (H), whereby S and H undertake certain commitments to make and respond to challenges. This suggestion captures the idea behind both norms-based and commitment-based accounts of assertion while avoiding particular problems and better explaining the source of the normative force of our criticisms of infelicitous assertions.
Explanation and Normality: Two Accounts
Andrew Lavin, University of California, Los Angeles
Bernhard Nickel offers an account of non-statistical normality based on the idea that having the right kind of explanation for the presence of any normal property will not only certify it as normal, but will be what it means for it to be normal. I pit this account, which I call a “presence account,” of normality against a different sort of account called a “link account.” On a link account, what it means to be normal is for the kind for which the property is normal to explain any normal individual’s having that property. The kind itself has an explanatory link with its normal properties just as being a carpenter explains one’s building a house and being a human explains one’s having a liver. I raise the worry that presence accounts won’t be able to properly constrain the explanations that can ground normality judgments without implicit appeal to normality itself.
Specific Abilities as Possible Success from General Abilities
Andrew Law, University of California, Riverside
There is a common distinction drawn between a general ability to f and a specific ability to f. (cf. Mele (2002), Franklin (2011), Maier (2013), and Vihvelin (2013).) It is often thought that by getting clearer on these distinct notions, we can make substantive progress in various debates over the freedom to do otherwise. According to one popular account, we should analyze specific abilities in terms of general abilities. In particular, it is claimed that an agent has the specific ability to f in circumstance C just in case the agent has the general ability to f and the opportunity to f in C. (cf. Franklin (2011), Vihvelin (2013), and Swenson (2016).) This paper presents an objection to this popular account and, in light of the objection, develops a new account of specific abilities: the “Credit Account.” The paper then explores some noteworthy implications of the Credit Account.
The Metaphysical Structure of the De Se: Constructing a Functional Account of Self
Joanna Lawson, Yale University
The purpose of this paper is to examine the metaphysical structure of de se perspectival centers. First, I explain what I take a de se center to be: it is a unified subjective perspective from which the world is apprehended. I situate my metaphysical project against the background of existing epistemological and linguistic approaches to the de se. Then, I individuate three ways that humans gain perspectival information, which I call de se modalities. It is from these de se modalities that we learn not only about the world, but about the de se center. The first de se modality is the sensory perspective: I have unique access to how things look from my eyes, how things feel to my fingers, how things sound to my ears. The second is cognitive perspective: I have unique access to my own thoughts. The third is agential perspective: I have unique access to control over my mind and body. This deeper understanding of de se information, however, unearths a problem. Given that there are various de se modalities, how is it the case that there is only a single de se center? It seems that there could have in fact been three separate (though perhaps interdependent, or even cooperating, centers): a perceptual center, a cognitive center, and an agential center. Why is it that we seem to ourselves to be a unity and not a triad?; ; I propose a functional account of self, which solves the problem of de se unity. I explain how the self resolves conflicts between and integrates the various de se modalities and unifies the incoming information into a single unified stream.
Cultural Rights as Individual Rights
Marie Le Blevennec, Boston University
In this paper, I develop an account of cultural rights as individual rights which enables protection of minority cultures and their traditions without jeopardizing the individual freedom of their members. Specifically, individuals must be guaranteed the right to association (limited by Mill’s Harm Principle), and effective exit rights (along with certain conditions). Specifically, individuals must be guaranteed the right to association (limited by Mill’s Harm Principle), and effective exit rights (along with certain conditions). The account I develop is more plausible than Chandran Kukathas’ similar account, in part because, unlike his account, mine is not vulnerable to certain critiques from paternalist liberals.
"What Are You?" Reflections on the Phenomenology Mixed-Race Experience
Celine Leboeuf, Florida International University
"What are you?" The dreaded question, whether explicitly raised by another or implied in his gaze, is one with which many mixed-race individuals struggle. My paper analyses experiences with this question through the lens of the philosophical concepts of alienation and objectification. I argue that the “What are you?” question objectifies the person of whom it is asked: it turns her into an object of curiosity. Encounters with the “What are you?” question are also alienating: the mixed-race person is asked to speak of herself, but in the same moment she is treated as something foreign. This analysis suggests that the problem with the question lies in the failure to recognize the mixed-race individual as a person, and it places us in a position to ask: Is it ever appropriate to ask someone about their racial background? And how might a person faced with such a question respond?
Practical Reasoning and Davidsonian Judgment-Sensitive Attitudes
Alexander Leferman, York University
I defend accounts of practical reason that conclude in judgment by appeal to Davidsonian judgment-sensitive attitudes against the criticism that such accounts lack a rational connection to action. Judgment accounts, as I call them, need to explain how normative judgments rationally relate to action to be considered practical. To do this, they rely on the idea of ‘structural rationality’. Patricio A. Fernandez argues that structural rationality is a merely classificatory concept and cannot rationally connect an agent’s judgments and actions. I argue that judgment accounts that adopt Davidsonian judgment-sensitive attitudes can overcome this criticism. These attitudes are conceptually related to normative judgments and systematically aim at getting normative matters right. When an agent judges that she has most reason to f, her pro-attitudes will be responsive and she will act accordingly, so long as the world abides. The conceptual relation between pro-attitudes and normative judgments bridges the problematic rational gap.
On the Contingency and Vagueness of Where I Am
Matt Leonard, University of Southern California
A number of philosophers take seriously the view that material objects are just regions of spacetime. On this view, being located at a region just is being identical to that region: call this the identity theory of location. This paper defends two arguments against the identity theory based on two plausible theses: it is contingent where I am located and it is vague where I am located. However, the two arguments are structurally quite different. This is due to the fact that, though formally similar, there are a number of philosophical differences between modality and vagueness, and thus, contingent location and vague location. In addition to defending these two arguments, I will also explore along the way some interesting ways in which modality, vagueness, and location interact.
Against Schwartz and the Moral Permissibility of Terraforming
Michael Lindquist, University of Georgia
One of the primary practical ethics questions raised within Space Ethics is that of terraforming. In his defense of the moral permissibility of terraforming, Schwartz defines terraforming as “a process of planetary engineering by which the extant environment of a planetary body is transformed into an environment capable of supporting human inhabitants.” Debates about, and serious consideration is being given, to terraforming other planets—Mars in particular, as well as other celestial bodies such as Moon. The question then, is this: Under what conditions would terraforming be morally permissible, if any? Schwartz offers two arguments in defense of terraforming—what I will refer to as the “Weak Pro-Terraforming Argument” and the “Strong Pro-Terraforming Argument,” which vary in the strength of their conclusions. In this paper, I will argue against both of Schwartz’s arguments in favor of terraforming and instead argue for caution in environmental ethics regarding issues beyond Earth’s Atmosphere through Thomas Birch’s idea of Universal Consideration and Anthony Weston’s conception of originary stages in ethical theorizing.
Russellian Monism, Hylomorphism, and the Mystery of Consciousness
Haoying Liu, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Russellian monism has recently emerged as a leading approach to the metaphysical inquiries of consciousness. Supporters of Russellian monism believe that physics only teaches us about causal structures of the world but not the categorical bases that play the causal roles. As a result, they posit fundamental intrinsic properties (aka. “inscrutables”) as the categorical bases of paradigmatically physical properties, and argue that they also ground consciousness. Russellian monism thus opens a niche in its ontological terrain, and the candidate occupants of that niche (i.e., inscrutables) are held as the key to overcoming the dichotomy between traditional physicalism and dualism. In this paper, I compare Russellian Monism with Thomistic hylomorphism and draw a lesson against Russellian monism by reflecting upon the problems of Thomistic hylomorphism. Arguably, Thomistic hylomorphism in terms of prime matter and substantial form provides little explanatory illumination, because the notions of prime matter and substantial form are inexplicable and unexplanatory. Based on this observation of the epistemic inadequacies of Thomistic hylomorphism, I argue that Russellian monism faces similar epistemic challenges. In conclusion, Russellian monism will hardly promote human understanding of consciousness, despite its delicate metaphysical framework.
Metaphysical Laws for Modal Normativists
Theodore Locke, University of Miami
I expand on modal normativism, a theory of metaphysical modality, to give an account of metaphysical laws, e.g. claims about essences or metaphysical dependence. According to modal normatvism, basic modal claims are not descriptive claims in need of modal truthmakers but are object language expressions of constitutive rules that govern the use of ordinary non-modal vocabulary. I give a normativist account of metaphysical laws by arguing that the metaphysical laws just are object-language expressions of certain constitutive asymmetric rules that govern the use of ordinary vocabulary. I show how my account respects the asymmetry of metaphysical explanations by looking at how my account of laws supports certain object language counterpossibles. A major payoff of my normativist account of metaphysical laws is that it yields a plausible epistemological story about how we can come to know what the metaphysical laws are.
It's My Model and I’ll Represent if I Want To
Joshua Luczak, Leibniz Universität Hannover
Much of the literature on modelling in science is concerned with representational models. Despite their importance, distinct nature, and presence, toy models, on the other hand, which are a kind of nonrepresentational model, are rarely discussed. This paper hopes to remedy this situation. It aims to elevate the status of toy models: by making clear and elaborating on the distinction between toy models and representational models, by highlighting and elaborating on a way in which the Ehrenfests' urn model, a simple statistical mechanical model, has been used as a toy model, and by explaining why it can be successfully used in this way without performing a representational function.
Matthew Mandelkern, All Souls College
Justin Khoo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Richard Bradley offers a quick and convincing argument that no Boolean semantic theory for conditionals can validate an apparently valid principle concerning the relationship between credences and conditionals. We argue that Bradley’s crucial principle, Preservation, is in fact invalid; its appeal arises from the validity of a nearby, but distinct, principle, which we call Local Preservation. However, Boolean semantic theories of conditionals can non-trivially validate Local Preservation. Thus, pace Bradley, we conclude that Bradley’s proof tells in favor of Boolean semantic theories—namely, those that validate Local Preservation but not Preservation—and against non-Boolean approaches which validate Preservation.
Moderate Deontology, Arbitrariness, and the Problem of the Threshold
Patricia Marino, University of Waterloo
This paper defends the framework of “moderate deontology”—sometimes called “threshold deontology”—from certain objections associated with arbitrariness and lack of systematicity. In moderate deontology, there are obligations to promote good consequences, but these are subject to deontological constraints. To make this work, moderate deontologists appeal to the idea of a threshold: we follow deontological principles—e. g., those against killing and harming others, lying, breaking promises—but we are justified in contravening these principles when consequences reach a certain breaking point or threshold. It is often said that moderate deontology has a problem with arbitrariness, because we have no principled way of setting the threshold, but I draw on recent work by Patricia Marino to argue that, at least in the context of these methodological choices, moderate deontology has no more problem with arbitrariness than seemingly more unified or systematized theories like monistic consequentialism.
Race as a Cause of White Ignorance
Annette Martin, New York University
Discussions of epistemic injustice have made the intersection of epistemology and social philosophy a fruitful subject for theorizing. However, one relatively under-theorized element of this intersection is white ignorance. Although some scholars have explored this phenomenon, a complete account is still lacking. What seems most clear is that race is, in some sense, at the root of white ignorance. But while this central idea has intuitive pull, it is not obvious what it amounts to, and the most natural interpretations fail to satisfy important desiderata for an account of white ignorance. To flesh out the core idea, I propose a picture that centers on functional_r causal components, or structural features that promote white racial domination. This structural view succeeds in satisfying important theoretical desiderata, and so offers a promising basis for a full account of white ignorance, while also shedding light on broader connections between epistemology and persisting inequality.
The Disappearing Act: A Tragic Tale for Omni-Gods
David McElhoes, Arizona State University
Building on one of Kripke’s famous examples in An Outline of a Theory of Truth, I devise a parable which challenges the coherence of omniscience—i.e., knowledge of every truth. The moral of the parable is that there are natural circumstances in which the empirical facts are inconsistent with omniscience. This challenge differs from earlier challenges to omniscience in that it does not rely on pathological sentences or contentious metaphysical assumptions.
Damian Melamedoff, University of Toronto
Noumenalist readings of Kant attribute to Kant the view that there are non-spatio-temporal entities, noumena, underlying our spatio-temporal representations. Noumenalist readings come in two forms: two-world Noumenalist readings which posit the existence of phenomena as well as noumena (Stang, 2013), and one-world Noumenalist readings, who take there to only be noumena, instead treating phenomena as “merely intentional entities” (Aquila, 1979) “virtual objects” (van Cleve, 1999), or "inexistents" (Bader, 2010). Many Kant scholars take Noumenalist readings of Kant to have irresolvable problems. In this paper, I take on what I take to be the three most difficult problems for Noumenalist readings. The first, is the problem of empirical affection: Kant claims in several places that things in space and time cause our representations. This appears to be inconsistent with the claim that things in space and time are in some sense representation-dependent. The second is the problem of empirical realism: Kant takes himself to be a realist about things in space and time. It is very difficult to see how either version of the Noumenalist story can account for this. The third is the problem of unperceived appearances: Kant’s arguments in the Analogies of experience commit him to the view that spatio-temporal entities exist even when they are not being represented. But this appears to conflict with treating spatio-temporal things as mere objects of representations. Although I believe that these objections raise serious issues for two-world readings of Noumenalism, these are not problems for the one-world Noumenalist readings. This is because the one-world Noumenalist ought to distinguish two notions that are often conflated: truthmaking and reference. Once these two notions are separated, it is easy to see that the one-world Noumenalist does not face any of these problems.
The Global Land Rush, Self-Determination, and the Ontology of Political Communities
Torsten Menge, Northwestern University in Qatar
A number of liberal political theorists have appealed to a collective right to self-determination to justify a right of political communities to exclude would-be immigrants. But the idea of self-determination faces a difficult question: Who legitimately constitutes the people? When we speak of peoples or political communities, we usually have in mind a relatively clearly bounded group of people attached to a particular piece of land. My goal in this paper is to challenge this ontology of political communities and to show how an alternative ontology can shift the starting point for normative debates about the ethics and politics of immigration. I discuss the recent surge of foreign land acquisitions (the “global land rush”) and argue that an adequate political ontology needs to take seriously the global material infrastructures that makes possible the social, economic, and political lives of communities in high-income Western countries.
Perceptual Awareness of Properties
Boyd Millar, Northern Illinois University
Is the perceptual awareness of properties achieved just like the perceptual awareness of objects? Or, are there conditions necessary for the perceptual awareness of an object’s properties that are not necessary for perceptual awareness of the object itself? Two extreme answers to this question have been endorsed. According to the first, perceptual awareness of properties is analogous to perceptual awareness of objects: so long as the object’s property causes (in the right way) some aspect of your experience’s phenomenology, you perceive that property. According to the second, perceptual awareness of properties is diametrically opposed to perceptual awareness of objects: the property you are perceptually aware of is determined by your experience’s phenomenology, regardless of the property that causes your experience to instantiate that phenomenology. I argue that both of these extreme answers are mistaken and that, consequently, we must endorse the remaining moderate alternative.
"We-part" Awareness in Cooperative Action
Anna Moltchanova, Carleton College
My goal in this paper is to outline and motivate a theory of collective self-awareness and support that how one is aware of experience is qualitatively different in individual and cooperative group action. Empirical studies provide evidence that several features of first-person awareness in cooperating with a partner are different from those of first-person awareness when acting or experiencing alone in otherwise the same circumstances. These differences warrant the claim that first-person awareness in these cases is not straightforwardly an I-awareness. It is true that we only have access to our own first-person experience, yet it may not be an I-experience but a we-experience. To mark this distinct kind of awareness, I call it “we-part awareness.” My account also supports that first-person immediate we-awareness is possible via first-person we-part experiential access to the we.
The Question of Chinese Feminism
Lucien Monson, University of South Florida
Few of us think of China when considering the great feminist traditions in world thought. Instead, it is tempting to assume the narrative that China is in a process of “catching up” to the West through the slow adoption of Western liberal values. This presentation will reveal this narrative to be simplistic and problematic. I will also challenge the tendency to reduce forms of Chinese thought to Western counterparts. Confronting the question of Chinese feminism forces us to reconsider what makes a particular body of thought feminist, and will hopefully bring to light the value of this often-overlooked tradition.
What Experience Does Not Teach
Barbara Montero, College of Staten Island, CUNY
According to David Lewis, experience is the best teacher in the sense that from experience you can learn what a new experience is like. This may be true of the sorts of visual, auditory and gustatory experiences employed by Lewis and others to illuminate the nature of consciousness. But it’s not true of the experience of labor pain, since as soon as the sensation fades, women rapidly forget what the feeling was like. Here, I examine some phenomenological and empirical support for the existence of such “pain amnesia” and argue that our failure to learn from the experience of pain both exposes a lacuna in standard philosophical accounts of experience and highlights a hitherto unrecognized distinction between two forms of memory—what I call “qualitative” and “nonqualitative” memory. Beyond this, I argue that acknowledging this gap in our memory has implications for how we ought to understand rational choice and the sources of moral action.
Taxation, Forced Labor, and Theft
Adam Moore, University of Washington
In 1974 Robert Nozick famously claimed, “taxation of earnings is on a par with forced labor.” If we assume that forced labor is morally objectionable, something akin to slavery, then Nozick's claim about taxation challenged the very heart of socialist redistributive liberalism. Numerous scholars understood that this argument was important and had to be answered. I will not engage this literature directly. Rather, I will present a new argument establishing that Nozick was basically correct—taxation, of a sort utilized in most redistributive democracies, is immoral. Using the Principle of Relevant Difference and an On Pain of Irrationality Method I will move through a series of cases starting with a version of Thomson's violinist case. These cases will establish that 1) that forcibly kidnapping someone and hooking them up to a violinist is immoral, 2) forcing others to provide necessities of life for you is morally objectionable, while forcing you to provide for your own necessities is not, 3) being related to the “forcer” does not mitigate the wrongness, 4) receiving benefits does not mitigate the wrongness of forcing, 5) majority voting does not mitigate the wrongness of forcing, 6) and reply that forced taxation doesn't really require any forcing—workers could choose to watch sunsets or go on assistance—fails to mitigate the wrongness of forced taxation.
Reconciling Contempt and Respect
Janice Moskalik, Seattle University
Contempt is an attitude of disdain for another that entails withdrawing from normal moral interactions with her; respect entails understanding another as a competent moral agent. My view aims to take seriously that respectful attitudes must not be completely dismissive of their targets as beyond moral improvement, yet must also address serious moral failings as such. I argue that reconciling contempt and respect requires that contempt is an attitude that recognizes its target as a responsible agent, which further entails that the attitude of contempt can engage its target in moral address: it must be capable of providing moral reasons to the wrongdoer for why she is being held responsible for her bad attitudes and actions. As I explain, there are certain cases in which contempt can, indeed, constitute a respectful blaming attitude, but it certainly cannot do so in every case.
Jonah Nagashima, University of California, Riverside
This paper articulates and defends semi-incompatibilism, according to which free will is incompatible with determinism whether or not moral responsibility is. Semi-incompatibilism requires denying a thesis I label 'Linkage', which says that an agent is morally responsible for some action only if they freely performed that action. I argue that semi-incompatibilism—and the denial of Linkage more broadly—allows us to reconcile a wide range of intuitions in the free will debate, which a reason to think that semi-incompatibilism is true. Specifically, I examine intuitions concerning Frankfurt-style cases, manipulation arguments, Strawsonian theories of moral responsibility, and asymmetrical theories concerning praise and blame. I then give reason to think that there are important aspects of free will that operate independent of considerations concerning moral responsibility; thinking of free will primarily in terms of its connection to moral responsibility has the unfortunate side effect of obscuring those notions.
Doubt and Pritchard’s Non-Belief Reading of Wittgenstein
Jonathan Nebel, Saint Louis University
In Epistemic Angst, Duncan Pritchard puts forward a non-belief reading of Wittgenstein’s “hinge commitments” whereby one has a non-belief propositional attitude towards hinge propositions. After explicating Pritchard’s reading, I offer an argument against it that is premised upon our ability to have doubt about hinge propositions. The theory of doubt in place will be based on the work of Andrew Moon. Given that we can have doubt about hinge propositions, that having that doubt implies that we believe it is possible that the hinge proposition is false, and that believing that it is possible that some proposition is false implies than you can believe that that proposition is true, Pritchard’s reading fails.
Climate Ethics: Nietzsche for a Dark Time
Geraldine Ng, University of Reading
Climate change is occurring. The problem is that, moral reasons to make things better fail to get purchase. Some ethicists believe that we do not have the moral machinery to deal with climate problems. I propose a bold rethink of the problem. I advance a reconstruction of Nietzsche’s perfectionist view to argue that agents have non-moral reasons to care about their climate-related actions. Nietzsche is interested in what constitutes “splendid” human beings. By abandoning conventional wisdom about morality, and locating the good in what Nietzsche takes to be at the core of human perfection—the will to power—this paper aims to invigorate climate ethics. I argue that, by affecting a complacent attitude towards her climate-related actions, an individual proceeds from weakness. If an agent’s actions are good insofar as they “increase the feeling of power,” human beings have perfectionist reasons to recognise their climate-related responsibilities.
When Code Words Aren't Coded
Patrick O'Donnell, Johns Hopkins University
The standard approach to code words assumes i) that public discourse on race is constrained by a “norm of racial equality” (NRE) which prohibits explicit racial appeals, and ii) that code words function by opening up space for deniable norm violations so that code word users can appear to behave in accordance with the NRE while getting NRE-violating messages across. In this paper, I argue that the standard approach to code words has conceptual and empirical shortcomings which leave us unable to understand the ascendancy of a form of political communication I call candid racial communication (CRC). Candid racial communication trafficks in explicitly and openly racial appeals. Its linguistic vehicles are not slurs, nor code words, but an intermediate class I will call racialized terms.
Does Knowledge Eliminate False Belief? A Platonic Answer
Christiana Olfert, Tufts University
In a number of dialogues, Plato assumes that when we have knowledge (epistêmê) about some subject, we do not have false belief (pseudês doxa) about that subject. But is this assumption true? After all, if we can hold contradictory views about the same thing; if we have multiple cognitive capacities that can operate independently of each other; or if our knowledge can be forgotten or suppressed; then perhaps we can have knowledge and false belief about the same thing at the same time. I offer a justification for the assumption that knowledge eliminates false belief. I argue that this assumption is not true merely by definition, or because knowledge is an infallibly true epistemic state. Instead, it is a substantive claim about the infallibility of rational agency when the agent has knowledge as an excellence.
How Substantive Is the Debate Over Whether the Theistic God Is a Person?
Ben Page, University of Durham
Recently it has become popular to classify theistic concepts of God into two camps, one where God is taken to be a person (theistic personalists), and the other where He is not (classical theists). The aim of this paper is to map out the conceptual space surrounding the debate so to assess how substantive this distinction is and explore where the substantive aspect is to be found. To do this I shall make use of porphyrian trees, since they will enable me to show different ways in which we can conceptualise the divine and suggest where substantive disagreements may occur. I will then focus on one area which could be substantive, namely the thought that certain attributes of God exclude Him from being a person, in this case divine simplicity. The remainder of the paper will concern itself with showing how simplicity and personhood are compatible.
Joint Intentionality in Chimpanzees and Bonobos
Dennis Papadopoulos, York University
In this paper, I will argue that chimpanzees and bonobos have joint intentionality. I focus on two cases where joint intentionality occurs as part of a larger social institution. Concerning chimpanzees, I interpret dominance hierarchies as social institutions. These institutions rely on community members’ joint intention that some specific chimpanzee be the dominant alpha. Concerning bonobos, I interpret the practice of negotiating a peaceful inter-group encounter as a social institution. This institution relies on the ability to jointly intend to share territory, at least temporarily. So before I make an argument about whether or not these behaviours can plausibly be interpreted as social institutions, and before any discussion of the nature of these social institutions, I must first show that non-human apes have joint intentionality. In section one, I assume that social institutions require joint intentionality. Further, I assume that the joint intentions attribute meaning. From this account of joint intentionality, I tease out three necessary conditions that members of a community must meet in order for us to plausibly interpret the community’s group behavior as jointly intentional. These are social coordination, individually intending to be a member of a group and the ability to form joint intentional commitments. I will give evidence from recent research that suggests that chimpanzees and other apes have the capacity for social coordination and individually intend to join in activities together.
Gender Violence as a Problem of Alterity
Miranda Pilipchuk, Villanova University
This paper was first inspired by two American discourses surrounding violence against women: 1) discourses about violence against women that happens outside of the United States; and 2) discourses about violence against women that happens within the United States—especially discourses surrounding the recent #MeToo campaign. Taken together, these two discourses raise a pressing question: how is it possible that the US continues to maintain that it is the global defender of women’s rights while itself suffering from endemic gender violence? The answer to this question is in the way alterity functions in discussions of gender violence. American discourses have largely framed violence against women as a problem of the Other: it is something that is done primarily in places that are not America, by people who are not American, and serves to mark the boundary between America and Other countries. In this article, I will examine exactly how American discourses of gender violence utilize racial stereotypes in order to turn violence against women into a problem of the Other. By contrasting discourses about gender violence that happen outside of the US with discourses about gender violence surrounding the #MeToo campaign, I will demonstrate how American discourses about gender violence portray gender violence that happens outside the US as a cultural problem implicating Black people and people of color, while portraying gender violence that happens within the US as a problem of aberrant individuals acting against the values of their culture. Ultimately, I argue that by framing gender violence as a problem of the Other, American discourses serve to absolve (white) America as a whole from gender violence, and to support the justification of American military aggression in the global south.
To Beard or Not to Beard: Ethical and Aesthetic Obligations and Facial Hair
Henry Pratt, Marist College
While pogonotrophic choices—whether to grow facial hair or not—might seem mundane, they are well within the scope of everyday aesthetics. I argue that it is plausible to hold that there are obligations of one kind or another (aesthetic, ethical, or aesethical) having to do with aesthetic features, and so it follows that at least some people have pogonotrophic obligations. In this paper, I explore what those obligations could be, and discover a tension between the verdict of traditional aesthetic and moral theories and the verdict of feminist critiques sensitive to patriarchal power structures. Pogonotrophy, ultimately, provides a provocative test case for both aesthetic and moral theory.
Token-Reflexivity and Repetition
Alexandru Radulescu, University of Missouri
The classical rule of Repetition says that if you take any sentence as a premise, and repeat it as a conclusion, you have a valid argument. It's a very basic rule of logic, and many other rules depend on the guarantee that repeating a sentence, or really, any expression, guarantees sameness of referent, or semantic value. However, Repetition fails for token-reflexive expressions. In this paper, I offer three ways that one might replace Repetition, and still keep an interesting notion of validity. Each is a fine way to go for certain purposes, but I argue that one in particular is to be preferred by the semanticist who thinks that there are token-reflexive expressions in natural languages.
Ontological Priority and Relatives: A Problem of Metaphysical Grounding for Aristotle
Bryan Reece, Harvard University
I raise an original problem for Aristotle’s theory of ontological priority. This theory is central for his metaphysics and natural science, and has inspired the recent explosion of interest in metaphysical grounding. The problem comes from within Aristotle’s own system, specifically from his theory of the category of relatives. I make a textual case that, prima facie, Aristotle has an inconsistent set of commitments about ontological priority and relatives. I then discuss the prospects of three possible solutions to the problem.
How Do We Know the Race of Our Ancestors?: Problems with Ancestral Criteria in Concepts of Race
Chelsea Richardson, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Linda Martin Alcoff, Charles Mills and Sally Haslanger each appeal to a notion of ancestry in their accounts of race. I’ll examine these appeals and argue as a collective they fail to identify and confront two key problems: the regress problem and the inference problem. The regress problem shows the scope of ancestry as it’s used for racial membership is ill defined. Further, what can be inferred about racial membership on the basis of ancestry and its relationship with visible properties of the body is similarly ill defined - the inference problem illuminates this. These two problems ultimately show while ancestry plays a key role in our concept of race, both folk views and appeals by the philosophers I analyze insufficiently demonstrate what ancestry actually is and how it functions in concepts of race.
Moral Pathology as Virtue
Jared Riggs, University of Toronto
In this paper, I argue that according to Philippa Foot’s framework in Natural Goodness, certain apparently pathological features of human moral motivation—namely, our tendencies toward rationalization, hypocrisy, and moral mediocrity—are virtues. For her framework entails that any feature of the will that is conducive to the distinctively human good is a virtue, and, I argue, the pathologies of moral motivation are conducive to our good as she understands it. I suggest that this result is best viewed as a defense of the value of rationalization, hypocrisy, and mediocrity, rather than a reductio of Foot’s position.
The Stakes of Epistemic Partiality
Catherine Rioux, University of Toronto
Exemplar friends question evidence that their friends behaved badly and go to great lengths to construct alternative interpretations of their behavior. They thereby withhold belief on the basis of evidence on which strangers would readily believe. But if what we ought to believe is determined by our evidence, and if the good friend is not a permissive case, then friendship appears to require epistemic irrationality. I provide a new argument supporting that conclusion. I argue that the good friend is required to engage in a biased assessment of her evidence in order to fulfill her duty of being an honest advocate of her beloved. I also explain why the most plausible permissivist strategy to salvage the good friend’s rationality wrongly portrays her as being concerned with the avoidance of practically costly errors, whereas she is in fact motivated to reach a judgment that portrays her friend in a good light.
The Incompleteness Problem for Normativity
Pamela Robinson, Rutgers University
I present an argument for the claim that it’s impossible to have a complete normative theory. I call this the ‘Incompleteness Argument.’ According to it, a complete normative theory would be able to answer every normative question. But for any theory, we can find questions of the form "what should one do, given one’s uncertainty about such-and-such?" that the theory can’t answer. So no normative theory could be complete. I make the case that the Incompleteness Argument—or something close enough to be concerning—succeeds.
Intersectionality and Lawless Violence
Taylor Rogers, Northwestern University
Foucault conceptually distinguishes between forms of power whose different qualities can be highlighted by their manifestations in specific historical periods. Despite their distinctions, the multiple powers theorized by Foucault can and do coexist. One variation of this coexistence has been theorized by Judith Butler in ‘Indefinite Detentions,’ and occurs in modernity when sovereign violence thrives under a logic of optimizing life through the suspension of law. I apply Butler’s insights to the work of Kimberlé Crenshaw in order to illuminate how Black women’s legal invisibility in the US has permitted sovereign violence to re-emerge in modernity differentially, over some bodies and not others. While Butler focuses on how the assumed or imposed ‘dangerousness’ of certain individuals justifies the extra-legal practices of sovereign’s re-emergence in the international context, I highlight how the legal invisibility of Black women has fostered a similar mechanism for sovereign power’s hidden workings in the United States.
A New Problem for Relationalism
Tom Raja Rosenhagen, Ashoka University
If beliefs can affect it, experience is what I call doxastically variable. Relationalists hold that experience is a relation between subjects and mind-independent items. In this paper, I raise a problem for Fish's relationalist view, a problem for relationalism more generally, and sketch an alternative. The problem for Fish's view is this: he relies on the idea that acquaintance presupposes the possession of conceptual capacities. However, this is ultimately at odds with a claim many relationalists hold dear, i.e. the claim that acquaintance is more basic than epistemic relations. The general problem for Fish and other relationalists is this: they can only accommodate certain varieties of doxastic variability, but not others. On the alternative view I sketch, experience may typically put us in touch with mind-independent items (as relationalists claim), but its main function is a different one: to make rational view-dependent transition to judgments.
Universals and the A Priori: A Defense of the A Priori--A Posteriori Distinction
Andrew Rubner, Rutgers University
Timothy Williamson has argued that there is no epistemic difference between a priori and a posteriori knowledge, since the offline cognitive processes that underlie both types of knowledge are the same. I show that Williamson’s argument fails. First, I show that the offline cognitive process Williamson claims to be sufficient for a priori knowledge cannot account for a priori knowledge about universals. Second, I show that the offline cognitive process Williamson claims to be sufficient for a priori knowledge about particulars is not reliable enough for such knowledge unless some a priori knowledge about universals is presupposed in the process.
Appearance Reports and the Acquaintance Inference
Rachel Rudolph, University of California, Berkeley
Some assertions give rise to what Dilip Ninan calls the “acquaintance inference”: the inference that the speaker is acquainted with some individual. Discussion of the acquaintance inference has previously focused on assertions about aesthetics and personal taste (e.g. ‘The eclipse was sublime’), but it also arises with appearance reports (e.g. ‘Tom seems like he's cooking’). Appearance reports give rise to novel acquaintance behavior, with no analog in the previously-discussed domains. In particular, some appearance reports require acquaintance with a specific individual, while others just require acquaintance with some individual or other, left unspecified. I present experimental evidence that the acquaintance inference with appearance reports depends on the semantics of the clause embedded under the appearance verb, ‘seem’; and I explain the rationale for this behavior, based on the evidential role of appearance reports. I also consider how this result should inform extant proposals about the semantics of appearance reports.
Hume’s Purely Practical Response to Philosophical Skepticism
Nathan Sasser, Greenville Technical College
In recent years several scholars have debated whether Hume’s response to skepticism in Treatise 1.4.7 is a practical solution, an epistemic solution, or both. On the practical-epistemic reading, Hume is giving a practical and epistemic solution to his skeptical difficulties: beliefs formed in accordance with the Title Principle are epistemologically justified just because they are useful or agreeable to ourselves or others (that is, practically justified) (see Michael Ridge 2003; David Owen 1999; Karl Schafer 2014). While the practical-epistemic reading makes excellent sense out of much of the textual data, Hsueh Qu (2014) has argued that it collapses the distinction between epistemic and moral justification—a distinction which is well-grounded in the Treatise. Don Garrett, on the other hand, argues that in Treatise 1.4.7 Hume’s defense of the justification of beliefs formed in accordance with the Title Principle is purely epistemic (Garrett 2015). This sort of reading explains how Hume moves on with science and avoids conflating morality with epistemology. However, it does not give a satisfying explanation of why Hume lays so much stress on practical rather than alethic considerations in the latter half of Treatise 1.4.7. In this paper, I argue that Hume’s response to his skeptical problem is neither practical-epistemic nor purely epistemic, but purely practical. First, I argue that Hume’s terminology of “philosophy” is the textual key to identifying his evaluations of beliefs from that standpoint which is normative for the sciences. Second, I reexamine the crisis of Treatise 1.4.7 in the light of “philosophy.” Skeptical arguments render practically indispensable core beliefs of common life and science philosophically unacceptable. The Title Principle is not a philosophical norm but rather subordinates philosophical norms to practical interests. Third, I explain Hume’s practical justification for a moderate pursuit of philosophy.
Responsibility for Saying and Asserting
Henry Schiller, University of Texas at Austin
If there is a norm of assertion, then we can ask a question about what things you are responsible for when you speak. In this paper I argue that there are two possible answers to this question: responsibility for p being believed, and responsibility for p being part of the informational content of the conversational context. This second notion of what you are responsible for can be distinguished from the first by the fact that it is not governed by epistemic norms. If this is the case, then the kind of responsibility that assertion generates is not fundamentally epistemic, as many have claimed.
Collective Liability: The Benefit and Self-Identification Arguments
Eugene Schlossberger, Purdue University Calumet
Are non-participating individuals morally obligated to help redress wrongs done by a substantial portion of a random group to which they belong, e.g., are respectful men responsible for rape? Two examples show that the fact of membership as such is insufficient grounds. Two claims are examined: individuals are liable when they benefit from the harm done (benefit argument) and when they self-identify with the group (self-identification argument). Seven problems beset the benefit argument, though a weaker form survives: under certain conditions, involuntary benefits accrued by voluntary participation in the broader activity of which the harm formed a major part can ground a moral duty to help redress. Reason is given to think that participation in a form of life with which an agent self-identifies can ground a moral obligation to redress. Mitigating factors are identified. In general, because numerous factors need to be weighed, sweeping generalizations are best avoided.
When Forgiveness Comes Easy
Julius Schoenherr, University of Maryland
Forgiveness, philosophical orthodoxy has it, must involve a causal process that leads from the recognition of the right kind of reason (e.g. an apology) to forgoing some suitable negatively valenced emotion (e.g. resentment). In other words, forgiveness allegedly demands that agents forswear resentment for the right reasons. In this paper, I will argue that this view is false. Rather, forgiveness consists in the endorsement of one’s having let go of resentment in light of the recognition of the right kinds of reasons. One immediate difference between both views is that, only on my view, forgiveness is compatible with the forgiver forgoing resentment before taking note of the reasons suitable for forgiveness (e.g. the wrongdoer’s apology). Thereby, my view shows why, at times, forgiveness can be relatively easy. Furthermore, I will argue that, if philosophical orthodoxy were correct, agents would not generally be in the position to know whether they forgave.
David Schroeren, Princeton University
Philosophers and physicists alike have claimed that symmetries are fundamental aspects of reality. But there is a serious obstacle to making sense of this claim: the physical notion of symmetry is first and foremost an abstract mathematical notion introduced by way of the mathematical formulations of physical theories. If we are to make sense of the claim that symmetries are fundamental, we need to explain what is conveyed about the fundamental structure of the reality by the fact that it can be represented in terms of physical theories whose mathematical formulations involve symmetries. The goal of this paper is to do just that. According to the view I call symmetry holism, mathematical symmetry transformations correspond to fundamental modal relations among possible states of the world. This view is holistic in the sense that facts about which possible state is actual, together with facts about the relations between possible states, are metaphysically prior to facts about the constituents of the world—such as particles, fields, and everyday objects.
Terminating Fundamental Determinables and Denying Determinable-Based Accounts of Metaphysical Indeterminacy
Jannai Shields, University of Rochester
Two conditions typically ascribed to the determinate-determinable relation are the following: 1) Determinables are related to determinates in that instances of determinables must be accompanied by one, and only one, instance of their determinates at a location and time, and 2) determinates are always more fundamental than their associated determinables. In a series of papers, Jessica Wilson attempts to undermine these two conditions, which prepares the way for her determinable-based account of metaphysical indeterminacy. I build a case against her arguments that includes an explanation of why iridescent objects do not truly have multiple colour determinates, an objection to appeals to quantum superposition when theorizing about properties, and an argument for a previously unnoticed characteristic of the determination relation—the determination relation is such that only tokens can be the determined relata.
Matthew Shields, Georgetown University
Philosophers have often pejoratively characterized the project of conceptual analysis as amounting to acts of ‘mere stipulation’. But there has been no sustained philosophical inquiry into the precise pragmatics of such stipulative speech acts. I first lay out the implicit, prevailing view of stipulation—the notion of stipulation-as-fiat. This is the view that a speech act of stipulation grants the speaker the authority to unilaterally settle what is the case. After arguing that this view is misguided, I then lay out my alternative positive account of the pragmatics of stipulation and explain what it is to stipulate an understanding of a concept. I argue that speech acts of stipulation involve explicitly moving content into an inferentially and pragmatically constraining and enabling linguistic position. These acts are justified, whether a speaker realizes it or not, on the basis of what they take to be their shared ends with their audience.
Against Reasons-Based Externalism about Rationality
Keshav Singh, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
This paper argues against reasons-based, externalist theories of rationality. These are theories that analyze rationality in terms of reasons and hold that rationality doesn’t depend solely on agents’ non-factive mental states. I focus on the version of reasons-based externalism defended by Errol Lord, arguing that despite its virtues, Lord’s theory fails because it cannot solve the New Evil Demon problem. I begin by summarizing Lord’s theory. I then explain the New Evil Demon problem and how Lord attempts to solve it. I argue that Lord’s solution fails because it relies on an incorrect account of correctly responding to reasons. On Lord’s account, correctly responding to reasons is a matter of having certain dispositions. I argue that this account is incorrect because correctly responding to reasons depends on how we reason, not our bare dispositions. I conclude by considering what implications this has for reasons-based externalism in general.
Degree of Pragmatic Subjectivity Predicts Degree of Semantic Subjectivity
Sophia Sklaviadis, Tufts University
We investigate the relation between the pragmatic and semantic behavior of subjective expressions. A first measure, of degree of pragmatic subjectivity, is derived from judgments about faultlessness or permissible variation in 41 disagreement con- texts, consisting of rejections of attributive assertions. An example item is the following: Their department’s manager just walked by Anna and George: George says, “The manager is tall.” Anna says, “No, the manager is not tall.” Please tell us to what extent you agree or disagree with the following statement: Since Anna and George have different judgments about this case, at least one of their judgments must be incorrect. (rated 1 “Completely Disagree” to 7 “Completely Agree”) A second measure, of degree of semantic subjectivity, is measured independently, through judgments about the perceived grammaticality of 82 sentences: the same 41 adjectives that we measure for permissible variation are embedded in the small clauses of each of find and consider: Anna considers the manager tall versus Anna finds the manager tall. A multiple regression with two explanatory variables predicts the grammaticality score of sentences with find: the first explanatory variable is the grammaticality score of sentences with consider, and the second is the degree of faultlessness or permissible variation. Intuitively, we use consider as the neutral, doxastic embedding matrix, since consider is semantically more permissive than find: e.g. Anna finds the table square, versus Anna considers the table square. Thus, the variability in the grammaticality scores (of the sentences with the 41 adjectives embedded under find) is predicted, significantly, by the degree of permissible variation or faultlessness in disagreements about each of the 41 adjectives; p-values < 0.05, R2 = 0.87. A compositional semantic account is proposed that may handle the more limited distribution of sentences with subjective find, compared to the more permissive structure with consider.
Dehumanization and its Discontents
David Livingstone Smith, University of New England
In this paper, I discuss two important explanatory shortcomings of the theory of dehumanization, and explain how I have rectified them. The first shortcoming has to do with the fact—noted by several thinkers including Kwame Anthony Appiah and Kate Manne—that dehumanizers often implicitly or explicitly acknowledge the humanity of those whom they dehumanize. The second is that dehumanized people are often described not merely as subhuman animals, but also as demons or monsters. I illustrate both with the example of the spectacle lynching of Henry Smith in 1893. I address these problems by suggesting that when we dehumanize others we represent them both as fully human and fully subhuman, which transforms them into monsters.
Self-Ownership or Basic Liberties?
Timothy Sommers, University of Iowa
How can we decide between the view that political liberty should be defined by a set of basic rights and the view that it is better defined by the idea that we own ourselves? I reject the received view that self-ownership has an advantage in relating liberty and property. Then I show that across a broad range of cases, the two views are (nearly) interchangeable in what they endorse. The only fault line between the two views is alienability: the basic liberties are inalienable, while self-ownership implies an unlimited right of alienability including self-sale. If that’s right, then contrary, to the received view that slavery is a bullet we might want to bite because self-ownership has other advantages over the standard liberal approach, the only reason to endorse self-ownership is, in fact, a desire to defend a right to sell ourselves into slavery.
Moral Obligation and Punishment
Jonathan Spelman, Ohio Northern University
In this paper, I present an argument against objective versions of consequentialism (though the argument could presumably be adapted to refute objective versions of deontology and/or virtue ethics). In particular, I argue that obligations are such that if an agent violates some kind of obligation, then he is subject to the relevant kind of punishment. (An agent who violates a legal obligation, for example, is subject to legal punishment.) This, in turn, entails that agents who violate moral obligations deserve punishment, for moral obligations, unlike other kinds of obligations, are necessarily just. If that is right, that is, if those who violate moral obligations deserve punishment, then objective versions of consequentialism are false.
The Finitude of Knowledge: Hegel and Sextus on Skepticism
Joris Spigt, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Contemporary discussions of skepticism generally frame skepticism as a position or a claim that can be affirmed or denied. This paper challenges the prevailing understanding of skepticism by explicating how Hegel's early 1802 essay on skepticism conceives of skepticism as a practice. Hegel maintains that skepticism continually demonstrates the non-absolute, finite nature of claims that we dogmatically treat as absolute. Taken as a practice, skepticism does not defend or refute any particular position, but instead continually discloses the finitude of human knowledge.
On What Else Perceptual Representation Could Be
Alison Springle, University of Pittsburgh
Making progress on the question of whether perception is representational requires having a clear view of what it would be for this to be true. According to the “The General Functional Framework for Perceptual Representation” a perceptual experience is genuinely representational iff: It deploys a content, i.e., something that instantiates an aboutness or standing-for relation (Aboutness), and to which correctness or satisfaction conditions apply (Satisfaction). Despite disagreement over various aspects of the nature of perceptual content, philosophers largely converge on cashing-out Aboutness and Satisfaction a la the “Description Conception” of perceptual representation, as if it were the only viable option. My aim in this short paper is to shed light on a hitherto unexplored conception of what else perceptual representation could be: I articulate Aboutness and Satisfaction according to a novel “Instructive Conception” of perceptual representation, and argue that it constitutes a viable naturalistic alternative to the descriptive conception.
Human Power and Ecological Flourishing: Refiguring Right and Advantage with Spinoza
Oli Stephano, Vassar College
In this talk I argue for an interpretation of Spinoza’s concept of human advantage and power that is conducive to ecological flourishing. Acknowledging the elements of Spinoza’s thought that authorize exploitation of non-human nature, I argue for a countervailing conception of human power that conceives human good as bound up in the well-being of the rest of nature. Putting this model of power to work alongside Spinoza’s concept of the intellectual love of G-d, I claim that it accounts for an amoral natural order, while simultaneously offering practically-wise guidelines for calibrating human power to support the ecological flourishing in which human existence is embedded. This is productive, I suggest, because it shifts from an emphasis on intrinsic value that is either respected or trampled, and toward an ethical approach motivated by the striving that for Spinoza is inscribed at the heart of earthly existence.
Kant and the Seductive Path to Spinozism
Joseph Stratmann, University of California, San Diego
In many texts throughout his critical period, Kant makes a startling claim: if we accept transcendental realism, we must also accept Spinozism. Unfortunately, Kant is not very explicit as to what justifies this claim. In this paper, I focus on explaining why Kant maintains that the transcendental realist must concede a core negative thesis of Spinozism, viz. that there are no substances—apart from, of course, the singular substance in which all things inhere as accidents. Call this the no substance thesis. In short, I will argue that Kant’s own core metaphysical commitments to the all-encompassing nature of space, as well as to the finite divisibility of substances among things in themselves explains why he maintains this—commitments that he thinks the transcendental realist should also accept.
The Counterfactual Analysis of Dispositions - with a Twist
Mack Sullivan, Northern Illinois University
This paper suggests that our counterfactual analyses of dispositions failed for a simple reason: we hadn’t understood that non-trivially true counterpossible counterfactuals (semantics for which have only been developed in the last twenty years or so) were the key for those analyses. After laying out the problem (§1), I spend a section sketching an analysis of one kind of disposition in counterpossibles’ terms, and showing how such a counterpossible analysis provides us with a principled reason to think the problem of masks and finks—which has plagued previous counterfactual analyses—is finally solved (§2). I then extend the analysis to another kind of disposition (§3), and conclude by surveying objections to the kind of analysis suggested here (§4).
A Challenge for Later Medieval Voluntarism
Michael Szlachta, University of Toronto
There was much debate in the late thirteenth century about whether the will is “moved” by the intellect. Many philosophers argued that, if the will is to be free, then it has to be moved by itself, not by the intellect. However, if the intellect does not move the will, then what is the relationship between these two faculties? I analyze a model of intellect-will interaction that conceives of the intellect as a so-called “causa sine qua non” of willing. One shortcoming of this model is that it seems to make rational exercises of the will impossible. I show that, even if the will is not moved by the intellect, it is still possible for willing to be guided by reasons.
Inconsistent Idealizations and Inferentialism about Scientific Representation
Peter Tan, University of Virginia
According to inferentialists about scientific representation, any representational apparatus in science represents its target in virtue of its ability to support “surrogative reasoning” about the target. An apparatus supports surrogative reasoning about a target whenever facts or predictions made within the apparatus can be successfully “translated” to facts or predictions about the target. In this paper, I show that standard formulations of inferentialism face a serious challenge, stemming from the fact that many representational apparatuses in science appear to have internal inconsistencies or contradictory idealizations. Thus, left unrevised, inferentialism generates the implausible conclusion that an inconsistent scientific model has unlimited representational power. After presenting the problem, I diagnose the real source of the problem and offer a positive solution on behalf of the inferentialist.
Fair Relational Equality
Daniel Threet, Georgetown University
The liberal relational egalitarian should only aim at achieving an imperfect realization of relational equality, in virtue of a conflict between the liberal commitment to leaving individuals discretion in their personal lives and the possibility of emergent social inequalities. Otherwise innocuous features of informal social interaction (e.g., ways of associating and expressing esteem) can produce disparities of power, status, and influence that threaten relational equality, even in ideal circumstances. This paper uses Samuel Scheffler’s notes for a deliberative conception of relational equality (2015) to support the claim that these disparities would indeed be objectionable. Liberal relational egalitarians can mitigate emergent inequalities (in ways hitherto under-discussed), but they cannot eliminate them without compromising fundamental liberal commitments. If recalcitrant disparities are due to such commitments, the liberal relational egalitarian may call the result fair relational equality—an imperfectly realized but justifiable set of relations.
Seeking Sourcehood: Interventionism, Manipulation, and Moral Responsibility
Hannah Tierney, University of Sydney
David Glick, Ithaca College
Interventionism has had a transformative effect on discussions of causation in several areas of philosophy. In their recent paper (2017), Oisín Deery and Eddy Nahmias formulate an interventionist-inspired theory of causal sourcehood in order to defend compatibilism from manipulation arguments. In focusing on a particular style of objection to compatibilism, Deery and Nahmias put interventionism to quite a specific use, but their account of causal sourcehood applies well beyond the bounds of discussions of manipulation and could have wide-ranging implications on the free will debate. In this essay, we first examine Deery and Nahmias’ account of causal sourcehood and their response to manipulation arguments. We then draw a distinction between two forms of invariance on their account that can come into conflict. Next we argue that any attempt to resolve this conflict will either result in counterintuitive attributions of moral responsibility or will undermine their response to manipulation arguments.
The Problem with Person-Rearing Accounts of Morality
Travis Timmerman, Seton Hall University
Agnieszka Jaworska and Julie Tannenbaum recently developed the ingenious and novel person-rearing account of moral status, which preserves the commonsense judgments that humans have a higher moral status than non-human animals. It aims to vindicate speciesist judgments while avoiding the problems typically associated with speciesist views. We argue, however, that there is good reason to reject person-rearing views. Person-rearing views have to be coupled with an account of flourishing, which will (according to Jaworska and Tannenbaum) be either a species norm or an intrinsic potential account of flourishing. As we show, however, person-rearing accounts generate extremely implausible consequences when combined with the accounts of flourishing Jaworska and Tannenbaum need for the purposes of their view.
Collapsing the Modal Collapse Argument: On an Invalid Argument Against Divine Simplicity
Christopher Tomaszewski, Baylor University
One of the most pressing objections against Divine simplicity is that it entails what is commonly termed a “modal collapse,” whereby all contingency is eliminated and every true proposition rendered necessarily true. In this paper, I show that a common form of this argument is in fact famously invalid and examine three ways in which the opponent of Divine simplicity might try to repair the argument. I conclude that there is no clear way of repairing the argument that does not beg the question.
The Knowledge Condition on Intentional Action
Laura Tomlinson, University of Pittsburgh
The Knowledge Condition on intentional action states that if A is ??-ing intentionally, then A knows that he is ??-ing. Alleged counterexamples to this condition have led Kieran Setiya to propose a modified form, which he calls (B*): if A is doing ?? intentionally, A believes that he is doing it or is more confident of this than he would otherwise be, or else he is doing ?? by doing other things for which that condition holds. But authors have recently argued that there are counterexamples to this modified condition as well. In this paper, I argue that these latest counterexamples rest on a conflation of concepts that the condition is precisely meant to distinguish. Conceptual clarity on this matter will, I argue, afford us the means of addressing earlier counterexamples to the Knowledge Condition—for example, Donald Davidson’s infamous carbon-copier—without having to retreat to Setiya’s modified condition.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities as Sites of Black Self-Determination
John Torrey, Buffalo State College, SUNY
Education has been considered a central part of the pursuit of equality for Black Americans since Brown v. Board. The establishment of a Black middle class in America in the last 30 years is often taken as evidence of progress towards equality. Many middle-class Black Americans are recipients of a Black college education and possess a sense that they are able to meaningfully determine their lives. This essay examines the connection between Black self-determination and Black-centered education, arguing that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are spaces that promote Black self-determination. It does so especially within a context of equality that is informed by racial realism. In taking this view, we can understand Black self-determination at two registers: being informed with historical accuracy about the Black experience in America; and as a psychological strategy of empowerment for combatting the difficulties of racism in America.
Epictetus on Weakness of Will: A Comparison with Aristotle
Michael Tremblay, Queen's University
This paper examines the similarities between Epictetus’ and Aristotle’s accounts of the phenomena of weak will. It aims to dispel the misconception that akrasia cannot play a role in the ethics of Epictetus, because of his psychology commitments as a Stoic. This paper argues that Epictetus’ ethics involves three features which are also present in Aristotle’s discussion of akrasia in the Nicomachean Ethics:; 1) An ethical failure occurs when an agent fails to render a major premise effective at motivating a particular action in accordance with that premise. 2) There are two reasons this occurs: Precipitancy and Weakness. 3) Precipitancy and Weakness can be prevented by gaining a fuller understanding of our beliefs and commitments. This comparison should make clear that akrasia is not absent from Epictetus. Rather, a very Aristotelian understanding of why we fail to act in accordance with our commitments remains at the center of his ethics.
Contested Spaces, Contested Identities, and the Ethics of Gentrification
Paul Tubig, University of Washington
Gentrification is a stirring controversy that has inspired passionate debate and protest. But there has not been much philosophical engagement with the issue, especially its political and moral dimensions. Is gentrification a morally problematic phenomenon? Do agents, as potential gentrifiers, have a prima facie moral obligation to not contribute to gentrification by choosing not to move into certain neighborhoods? This paper advances the thesis that potential gentrifiers do have a prima facie moral obligation to not move into certain neighborhoods. This obligation is generated from the moral requirement to respect and help hold people in their identities. If certain neighborhoods have been historically occupied by a marginalized community and its longtime residents rely on that space to sustain their identity and self-worth, then these neighborhoods ought to be morally off-limits to people whose residence would contribute to the dramatic alteration of such spaces and the displacement of its vulnerable residents.
Gratitude for Being and Filial Piety
Sungwoo Um, Duke University
Gratitude is commonly regarded as an essential component of filial piety. However, some special attitude seems to be involved in gratitude toward someone who shares an intimate relationship with us like our parents. We often feel grateful to that person even without specifying particular ‘doings’ we are grateful for. That is, gratitude we have to our intimates often goes beyond what we received from them and is directed to their being in a certain kind of relationship to us. In this paper, I introduce what we can call gratitude for being someone good to us as opposed to gratitude for doing something good to us. I then show how the former can help us to make a better sense of the gratitude that one appropriately feels toward those who are in an intimate personal relationship, using gratitude to one’s parents or ‘filial’ gratitude as a paradigmatic example.
Sensory Individuation and the Sensory / Nonsensory Divide
Gerardo Viera, Universiteit Antwerpen
Recent work on the nature of sensory systems typically focus on one of two questions. First, there is the question of how to individuate the senses. To answer this is to provide criteria that, for instance, would distinguish vision from audition. Second, there is the question of how we should demarcate the divide between sensory and non-sensory systems in the mental architecture. To answer this is to provide an account of how vision and audition, for instance, are both sensory systems as opposed to motor or cognitive systems. In this paper, I argue that recent arguments in favor of pluralism concerning how we individuate the senses commit us to a pluralism concerning how we draw the sensory / non-sensory divide in the mental architecture. Given that we have good reasons to accept sensory individuation pluralism, it follows that we should be pluralists about the sensory / non-sensory divide.
Marvin Mooney's Paradox
Jeffrey Watson, Arizona State University
In this paper, I set up a very silly paradox and explain the solution. The paradox says that it can't both be obligatory to do something, and at the same time optional how one goes about doing it. The solution is that the paradox is an instance of the modal scope fallacy. I then apply this same solution to two familiar epistemic "prediction" or “backwards induction” paradoxes, the surprise test paradox and the centipede game. Surprisingly, the solution to both has nothing to do with induction, prediction, or epistemology. I then derive two general lessons from the solutions to these paradoxes. The first general lesson is that conditionals with deontic and epistemic modals in ordinary English are ambiguous between “wide scope” and “narrow scope” readings. The second general lesson is that, to avoid paradox, most ordinary uses of deontic and epistemic modals, such as ‘obligatory’, ‘prudent’, ‘rational to believe’, or ‘rational to expect’, must either be interpreted either as relativized to sets of reasons, or else as having wide scope over conditionals for which reasons are in the antecedent. This general lesson allows me to sketch possible solutions to a number of other familiar deontic and epistemic paradoxes.
Other Minds Are Neither Seen Nor Inferred
Mason Westfall, University of Toronto
Facial expressions provide some of our most direct access to how others are feeling. Often, it seems, we can just tell by looking that Tessa is happy. Nonetheless, it is intuitively wrong to say that we see Tessa's happiness. This seems puzzling. How is it that we can tell by looking that Tessa is happy without seeing Tessa's happiness? Here I offer an answer. My account—I suggest—improves over extant views about our knowledge of other minds: Perceptual views violate entrenched phenomenological intuition, and inferential views are implausibly circuitous. I then consider the implications for the epistemology of perception generally. I suggest my view reveals a prominent way of thinking about how perception justifies belief to be unacceptably parochial. Perception does not justify belief by seemingly presenting things as thus and so. Rather, we should think of perception's epistemic role in terms of what it allows us to do.
Typical: A Theory of Typicality and Typicality Explanations
Isaac Wilhelm, Rutgers University
Typicality is routinely invoked in everyday contexts: bobcats are typically four-legged; people are typically less than seven feet tall. Typicality is invoked in scientific contexts as well: typical gases expand; typical quantum systems exhibit probabilistic behavior. And typicality facts like these—about bobcats and gases—back many explanations, both quotidian and scientific. But what is it for something to be typical? And how do typicality facts explain? In this paper, I propose a general theory of typicality. I analyze the notions of typical sets and typical objects. I provide a formalism for typicality explanations, and I say why typicality explanations are explanatory. Along the way, I put the analyses and the formalism to work: I show how typicality can be used to explain a variety of phenomena, from everyday phenomena to the statistical mechanical behavior of gases.
Being in a Position to Know Is the Norm of Assertion
Christopher Willard-Kyle, Rutgers University
This paper defends a new norm of assertion: Assert that p only if you are in a position to know that p. Extant proposals such as the Reasonable to Believe Norm and Knowledge Norm of assertion have trouble securing intuitive judgments in all three of the following cases: selfless assertions, lottery propositions, and Moorean paradoxes. I show that the PtK-Norm elegantly secures the intuitive judgment in all three cases. The balancing act is achieved by siding with Williamson that knowledge is the normatively guiding epistemic property for assertion but with Lackey that proper assertion does not require that guiding property to be exemplified in the mind of the asserter. The PtK-Norm foregrounds the public nature of assertion as a practice that is other-affecting, allowing asserters to act in the best interests of their audience when internal psychological pressures would otherwise prevent them from communicating the knowable truth.
An Illocutionary Model of Discursive Injustice
Alek Willsey, University of Missouri
One's race, gender, or other qualifier may undermine one's ability to utilize the powers of one's social position. An example may be that a manager of a factory is unable to effectively give orders to her employees because she is a woman occupying that managerial role. Cases like this exemplify discursive injustice: a phenomenon where a speaker is systematically unable to perform a speech act that she is otherwise entitled to perform. In this paper I model discursive injustice with traditional Austinian speech act theory; I model how negative social forces can prevent a speaker from using powers she is entitled to in her social space. Specifically, I argue that what it takes to be an appropriate speaker relative to a conventional procedure is partly determined by those in the speaker's immediate social context.
Metaphysically Robust Constitutivism and Privileged Self-Knowledge
Benjamin Winokur, York University
Annalisa Coliva (2016) has argued for the ‘constitutive thesis’ that, under certain conditions, agents have knowledge of certain kinds of propositional attitudes as a matter of conceptual necessity. Typically, constitutivists are quietists about the origins of such knowledge, since its being conceptually necessarily precludes explaining it as the upshot of any epistemic achievement. Coliva rejects quietism: she argues that an agent’s knowledge of these attitudes comes about as a result of acquiring the concepts required to self-ascribe them. In this paper I argue, first, that her explanation of the origins of such knowledge fails to show that there is a point where agents lack knowledge of these attitudes. As a corollary, I argue that her explanation fails to show that agents are not always rationally responsible for these attitudes. Finally, I argue that, even granting the explanation’s cogency, it does not guarantee self-knowledge of the relevant attitudes.
Disagreement Arguments in Metaethics and Meaningful Disagreement
Yuna Won, Cornell University
This paper critically discusses two famous arguments in metaethics that utilize our intuitive judgment about disagreements as critical data: Hare’s “Cannibals and the Missionary” argument and Horgan and Timmons’ Moral Twin Earth argument. These arguments aim to disprove the descriptivist account about the meaning of moral terms. They argue that, if descriptivism is true, the disagreement between two parties in a given scenario is merely verbal, and thus there is no genuine disagreement. However, I show that, even when two parties use their terms differently, engaging in the dispute could be meaningful by introducing metalinguistic disagreement. Consequently, we do not need to discard descriptivism to make sense of the disagreement data. Also, this discussion will help us think about when and in what condition our disagreements are meaningful and why it is still worthwhile to engage in conversations and debates with people who seem to use crucial terms differently.
Gaslighting, Implicit Bias, and Higher-Order Evidence
Elise Woodard, University of Michigan
In this paper, I explore a practical version of the skepticism-dogmatism debate. On the one hand, phenomena such as implicit bias put pressure on us to be skeptics about our beliefs. On the other hand, phenomena such as gaslighting put pressure on us to be dogmatists about our beliefs, to stick to our guns. This gives rise to a puzzle. Intuitively, we want to say that the person with implicit bias and the person who is gaslighted differ with respect to their epistemic status, yet things look the same on the inside to each of them. Thus, the internalist faces a problem in accounting for the epistemic differences between them. In contrast, although the externalist can account for an epistemic difference between the gaslighted woman and the man with implicit bias, the externalist still faces two objections, according to which externalism fails to offer a genuinely normative epistemology. First, it fails to capture the sense in which agents who ignore misleading higher-order evidence are blameworthy. Second, it fails to offer action-guiding norms. In response to the first objection, I reject the presupposition. I argue that to blame people like the gaslighted woman is to be an epistemic fetishist. In response to the second, I endorse an Epistemic Affirmative Action proposal. Ultimately, I think that phenomena such as gaslighting encourage us to rethink what it means for an epistemological theory to be normative.
Two Rationales for a Duty of Veracity as a Necessary Condition of Kantian Justice
Ava Thomas Wright, University of Georgia
In “On a Supposed Right to Lie From Philanthropy," Immanuel Kant asserts an unconditional juridical duty of truthfulness: “To be truthful (honest) in all declarations is...a sacred command of reason prescribing unconditionally...” In this paper I suggest two possible rationales for a juridical duty of truthfulness in Kant's theory of justice: 1) First, I argue that the freedom to exercise one's practical reason to make choices requires socially warranted expert knowledge as much as it requires that we be able to “intelligibly” possess external things, and a duty of veracity is required to underwrite such knowledge. 2) Second, I argue that lies that in principle would undermine rational trust in expert social knowledge are “formal” wrongs because they reject a necessary epistemic condition for universal possible consent. Consent is not possible when one lacks access to sufficient information needed to inform one's consent, and such lies render this problem general.
Soteriology and Time in the Sarvastivada Theory of dharma
Cameron Wright, University of South Florida
What largely distinguishes the Sarvastivada from the other schools is the view that all dharmas exist concurrently in all time periods: past, present, and future. Dharmas are characterized as discrete, impartite events. How is it that each of these events which occur in the past and future exist concurrently with the events we experience at the present moment? In this paper I want to first explain how the Sarvastivada give an account of the ontology of dharmas, and how these dharmas persist across the three time-periods. I further want to explain what I take to be primarily soteriological motivations for this view of dharmas. The persistence of dharmas across the three time-periods give account of how actions in the past can have the requisite causal efficacy to produce a karmic outcomes in the future.
Seeming Incomparability and Rational Choice
Leo Yan, Brown University
We often face choices between options that seem to be incomparable insofar as they seem to be neither better than, worse than, nor equal to each other. It would be helpful then to have some principles to guide our decisions in such cases. I here present three compelling principles governing rational choice between seemingly incomparable options. The first two are supervenience principles concerning the rational status of sequences of choices and individual choices, respectively. The third is a principle regarding the comparative rationality of performing different sequences of choices that I call the Comparative Money Pump Principle. This principle claims, roughly, that it is less rational to knowingly perform a sequence of choices that will result in a suboptimal outcome than it is to perform a sequence of choices that will not result in a suboptimal outcome. While each principle is individually plausible, I show that they are jointly incompatible.