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Displaying: 1-10 of 22 documents


1. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 36
John Whipple, Continual Creation and Finite Substance in Leibniz’s Metaphysics
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This paper examines Leibniz’s views on the theistic doctrine of continual creation and considers their implications for his theory of finite substance. Three main theses are defended: (1) that Leibniz takes the traditional account of continual creation to involve the literal re-creation of all things in a successive series of instantaneous states, (2) that a straightforward commitment to the traditional account would give rise to serious problems within Leibniz’s theory of finite substance and his metaphysics more generally, and (3) that Leibniz does not straightforwardly affirm the continual creation doctrine, despite certain texts that initially seem to suggest otherwise. I also present a more speculative interpretive hypothesis about what Leibniz’s considered view of creation might have been, namely that in a single act, God creates and conserves substances that are non-spatial and atemporal at the deepest level of reality.
exchange: pragmatic theories of truth
2. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 36
Brian Ribeiro, A Really Short Refutation of the Pragmatic Theory of Truth
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The pragmatic theory of truth (PTT) seeks to illuminate the concept of truth by focusing on concepts like usefulness or adaptivity. However, contrary to common opinion, PTT does not merely face a narrow band of (perhaps) rather artificial counterexamples (as in a case of empirically unfounded but life-extending optimism in a cancer patient); instead, PTT is faced with a vast psychological research literature which suggests that inaccurate beliefs are both (1) pervasive in human beings and nonetheless (2) fully adaptive in many cases. Call this the “pervasive adaptive illusions” (PAI) objection to PTT. According to PAI, the kind of connection drawn by PTT between the beliefs that we (intuitively or pretheoretically) regard as “true” and the beliefs we regard as useful is undercut by hard-nosed empirical work in psychology—work that no empirically-minded pragmatist can ignore. According to PAI, the connection drawn between truth and utility by PTT is subject to a simply overwhelming set of counterexamples (drawn from psychological research, and reviewed below). Thus, PTT is a theory any sensible theorist of truth must reject.
3. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 36
Harvey Cormier, A Fairly Short Response to a Really Short Refutation
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Brian Ribeiro argues that the pragmatic theory of truth massively misrepresents the actual use of the terms “true” and “truth.” Truths, he observes, can be distinguished from “illusions.” The latter misrepresent reality and the former do not. Psychologists, as they report on the way mentally healthy people commonly overestimate themselves, draw just this distinction. They tell us of many beliefs that are “adaptive” but illusory. Pragmatists cannot draw this distinction because their theory explains truth as adaptiveness. Therefore no sensible person will be a pragmatist. In fact, however, Ribeiro paints a flawed picture of what both psychologists and pragmatists do. Psychologists provide us not with “reality-based accurate beliefs” but instead with beliefs that work, and pragmatists do not identify all beliefs that are adaptive or useful for individuals as true. Pragmatism turns out to be quite sensible, though often misunderstood.
4. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 36
Maura Tumulty, Modeling Expressing on Demonstrating
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We can increase our understanding of expression by considering an analogy to demonstrative reference. The connections between a demonstrative phrase and its referent, in a case of fully successful communication with that phrase, are analogous to the connections between an expressible state and the behavior that expresses it. The connections in each case serve to maintain a certain status for the connected elements: as actions of persons; or as objects, events, or states significant to persons. The analogy to demonstrative reference helps show that a positive account of expression can make conceptual connections between expressed states and expressive behaviors without courting reductive behaviorism. A general account of expression as marked by these connections is compared to accounts of expression offered by Dorit Bar-On and Mitchell Green. Bar-On’s account turns out to be compatible with the account proposed here, once some of its consequences are fully appreciated. Green’s account rules out, as not expressive, some behaviors like crouching (in fear) that intuitively seem expressive. When Green’s account is altered to allow such behaviors back in, the resulting account also fits the one proposed.
5. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 36
David Alm, Defending Fundamental Requirements of Practical Reason: A Constitutivist Framework
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In this paper I offer a partial defense of a constitutivist view according to which it is possible to defend fundamental requirements of practical reason by appeal to facts about what is constitutive of rational agency. I show how it is possible for that approach to circumvent the ‘is’/’ought’ problem as well as the requirement that it be possible to act contrary to practical reason. But I do not attempt to establish any particular fundamental requirement. The key ideas are that such a requirement is not genuine if it is arbitrary, and that it is arbitrary just in case (a) it needs explanation and (b) that explanation could not, even in principle, be provided.
6. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 36
Liezl Van Zyl, Rightness and Goodness in Agent-Based Virtue Ethics
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In Morals from Motives (2001) Michael Slote puts forward an agent-based virtue ethics that purports to derive an account of deontic terms from aretaic evaluations of motives or character traits. In this view, an action is right if and only if it proceeds from a good or virtuous motive or at least does not come from a bad motive, and wrong if it comes from a bad motive. I argue that Slote does not provide an account of right action at all, that is, if ‘right action’ is understood in the strict deontic sense of an act that is either permissible or obligatory. An examination of Slote’s treatment of the problem of moral luck shows that he presupposes a conceptual link between what is morally wrong and what is blameworthy. I conclude by suggesting that agent-based virtue ethics may do better as an attempt to eliminate deontic notions altogether.
7. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 36
J. Adam Carter, Radical Skepticism, Closure, and Robust Knowledge
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The Neo-Moorean response to the radical skeptical challenge boldly maintains that we can know we’re not the victims of radical skeptical hypotheses; accordingly, our everyday knowledge that would otherwise be threatened by our inability to rule out such hypotheses stands unthreatened. Given the leverage such an approach has against the skeptic from the very start, the Neo-Moorean line is an especially popular one; as we shall see, though, it faces several commonly overlooked problems. An initial problem is that this particular brand of anti-skeptical strategy is available only to a theory of knowledge that will compromise itself to especially weak epistemic standards—indeed, standards as weak as our epistemic grounds are for accepting the denials of skeptical hypotheses. With this said, the aim here is to investigate whether the Neo-Moorean line could be advanced against the skeptic in a way that wouldn’t require wholesale lowering of epistemic standards. Unfortunately, as we’ll see, Sosa’s (2007; 2009) view as well as what I argue to be the other two most plausible contender-views for maintaining a Neo-Moorean line—Greco’s and Pritchard’s—run (for similar reasons) into dead ends. The way forward, I’ll argue, is to take on board a unique variety of robust virtue epistemology accord­ing to which knowledge is thought to be situated a certain way within a gradient balance between ability and luck.
8. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 36
Zina Giannopoulou, Socrates and Godlikeness in Plato’s Theaetetus
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In this paper I argue that in the digression in Plato’s Theaetetus godlikeness may be construed as Socrates’ ethical achievement, part and parcel of his art of mental mid­wifery. Although the philosophical life of contemplation and detachment from earthly affairs exemplifies the human ideal of godlikeness, Socrates’ godlikeness is an inferior but legitimate species of the genus. This is the case because Socratic godlikeness abides by the two requirements for godlikeness that Socrates sets forth in the digression: first, it is a kind of escape from the phenomenal world; and second, it allows Socrates to become just and pious with wisdom. The crucial difference between Socrates and the philosopher that prevents the former from being as godlike as the latter is his epistemic barrenness, on account of which he cannot define the constitutive virtues of godlikeness, i.e., justice, piety, and wisdom. As a barren midwife of the intellect, Socrates practices godlikeness but does not have a philosophical understanding of its nature. Nevertheless, by extolling the life of the philosopher he urges others to aspire to what he can never attain, philosophical godlikeness.
9. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 36
R. Michael Olson, Doing Some Good to Friends: Socrates’ Just Treatment of Polemarchus
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In this article I interpret the conversation that takes place between Socrates and Polemarchus in Book One of the Republic according to its dramatic logic by examining the rhetorical artfulness that informs Socrates’ argumentative tactics. After first examining Polemarchus’s character as obedient spiritedness, I then turn to the argument, showing that Socrates does not undermine Polemarchus’s original opinion but, rather, by making legitimate use of the analogy between justice and technē, moves him to attend to the useful knowledge implicit in his understanding of friendship, a knowledge by virtue of which he will be a more responsive guardian of what he values. Finally, I contend that Socrates enacts the definition of justice in question and indirectly argues for his own just art of rhetoric, which he employs in conversation with Polemarchus in his aim to be responsible to political life and to do it some good.
10. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 36
Alex Friedman, Marion Danis, Intransitivity and Priority Setting
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It is a basic and intuitive assumption that the relation of moral preference must be transitive—if A is overall morally preferable to B; and B is overall morally preferably to C; then, if our views are coherent, it better be the case that A is overall morally preferable to C. However, recent work by Temkin and Rachels has undermined that assumption by showing that common-sense ethical distributive principles that we are unlikely to give up generate intransitive sets of moral preferences. The consequences of this for resource allocation are profound—how can we come up with a just way of rationing limited resources if whatever course of action we adopt, there will be other alternatives that are morally preferable to it? However, regardless of the theoretical challenges, practical resource allocation decisions must be made every day! We explore an approach to dealing with some of the pragmatic aspects of the problem, even though the theoretical problem of intransitivity remains unsolved. We begin by considering whether the ways in which counterexamples to transitivity have (of necessity) been oversimplified actually contribute to the intractability of the problem by taking the possibilities of cost sharing, benefit splitting, and compensation (which are often available in real-life tradeoff situations) off the table. The proposal we end up suggesting does not rely on any assumptions or judgments about interpersonal aggregation, and so has a chance of allowing us to work around the most troubling kind of intransitivity.