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symposium in memory of edmund m. pincoffs
1. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
Alasdair MacIntyre My Station and Its Virtues
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This paper compares the central theses of Edmund M. Pincoffs’s Quandaries and Virtues with those of F. H. Bradley’s Ethical Studies. Both Pincoffs and Bradley understand virtues and duties as functional in respect of the common good of the social order. Both reject the individualism of Kantian and utilitarian theories. Both believe that ordinary moral agents do not appeal to and do not need to appeal to the kinds of justification for action defended by such theories. It is argued that the importance of these resemblances is partly disguised by the differences between Pincoffs’s and Bradley’s view. Pincoffs and Bradley are among those who, in the debates of modern moral philosophy, have recurrently defended an antitheoretical account against a variety of theorists. It is claimed that this debate is and must be inconclusive.
2. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
Robert B. Louden On Pincoffs’ Conception of Ethics
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This essay focuses on Edmund Pincoffs’ arguments in defense of virtue ehtics and against ethical theory. His advocacy of virtue ethics hinges on the claims that: 1) the virtues are central to ancient ethics, modern ethics representing an unjustifiable change in orientation; 2) modern ethics is overly legalistic, construing morality merely as a set of universalistic action-guiding rules; 3) modern ethics is objectionably reductivistic, reducing morality to conscientiousness. Pincoffs’ opposition to ethical theory is based on the claims that: 4) ethical theories are objectionably reductivistic (in numerous ways); 5) they exhibit an individualist bias which results in an indefensible abstractness; 6) they mistakenly assume that moral experts exist; 7) they lack justificatory power; 8) they are a modern invention toward which we should be skeptical. In my crítical remarks concerning Pincoffs’ positions. I argue (with numberous qualifícations) against each of the above claims.
3. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
James D. Wallace Morality, Practical Knowledge, and Will
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In Quandaries and Virtues, Edmund Pincoffs maintains that we observe a multiplicity of moral norms. A common life in which we participate supplies a context in which many virtues play diverse functional roles. He suggests, without developing the idea, that such a common life provides us with a structure for organizing and harmonizing the many moral norms we attempt to pursue. This essay explores that idea. Bodies of shared practical knowledge, such as medicine and scientific research, provide examples of empirically grounded practices in which people simultaneously observe a plurality of norms that guide them in right practice. The essay develops the idea that morality is in important ways Iike these bodies of technical practical knowledge. It maintains that the origin and source of authority of moral norms is appreciably Iike that of technical norms and that the motivation for observing such norms is fundamentaIly similar.
4. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
Paul Farwell Aristotle, Success, and Moral Luck
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My point of departure is Bernard WiIliams’ “moral luck” thesis and its claim that luck and success are an integral part of ethics. Some scholars think AristotIe’s ethics lends support to a version of the moral luck thesis. My claim is the exact opposite: Aristotle gives a subtle and interesting argument for keeping luck and ethics distinct. Luck plays Iittle role since the moral worth of action Iies in the agent’s choice, proairesis, not merely in the quality of the act itself and even less the outcome or succcss of the action. Further, virtue and success are not equatable: although the courageous person must act with practical wisdom --- he must know who his enemy is and when to fight --- virtue does not require victory in battle.
5. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
J. Baird Callicott Moral Monism in Environmental Ethics Defended
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In dealing with concern for fellow human beings, sentient animals, and the enviroment, Christopher D. Stone suggests that a single agent adopt a different ethical theory---e.g., Kant’s, Bentham’s, Leopold’s---for each domain. Ethical theories, however, and their attendant rules and principles are embedded in moral philosophies. Employing Kant’s categorical imperative in this case, Bentham’s hedonic caIculus in that, and Leopold’s land ethic in another, a single agent would therefore have either simultaneously or cyclically to endorse contradictory moral philosophies. Instead, I suggest that different and sometimes conflicting duties and obligations are generated by an agent’s membership in multiple moral communities. Peter Wenz, Gary Varner, Andrew Brennan, Anthony Weston, and Eugene Hargrove, among others, variously misunderstand either what is at issue in the monism versus pluralism debate in environmental ethics or my suggested communitarian altemative to the sort of pluralism that Stone recommends.
6. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
Douglas Lind Kant on Criminal Punishment
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Kant maintains that retribution is the only morally sound justification for criminal punishment. He claims that all just criminal punishment must conform to the “principle of equality,” an inflexible juridical rule which takes the form of a categorical imperative. Focusing on his further claim that the principle of equality establishes that capital punishment is the only suitable punishment for murder, I question Kant’s contention that the principle of equality is a categorical imperative. Following two lines of inquiry drawing upon the nature of a categorical imperative, I suggest that the principle of equality is a principle conditioned by experience, a hypothetical imperative which Kant only shows to be consistent with, not necessarily mandated by, the idea of a just civil state.
7. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
John Hare Puffing Up the Capacity
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This paper is about the failure of a particular strategy to overcome the problem of the gap between the moral demand and natural human capacities to meet that demand. The strategy is that of the optimist, who thinks that humans do in fact have the resources to empower themselves to Iive by the moral demand. A conspicuous optimist of this sort is Shelly Kagan, in his book The Limits of Morality. The optimist makes a counterfactual claim about morality: If all our beliefs were vivid, including especially our beliefs about the interests of others, we would tend to conform to the impartial standpoint (to what the utilitarian principle requires). This paper argues that the counterfactual claim is faIse.
8. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
Richard Fumerton The Incoherence of Coherence Theories
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In this paper I am primarily interested in establishing that a coherence theory of truth is conceptually incoherent. Although my primary concern is with the coherence theory of truth, I shall point out that the problem I raise has a striking parallel in a now well-known objection to coherence theories of justification (an objection that, ironically, was brought to the fore by a proponent of a coherence theory of justification, Laurence Bonjour).
9. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
Laurence BonJour Fumerton on Coherence Theories
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I argue that while Fumerton’s criticisms of pure coherence theories of truth are both important and extremely cogent, their application both to the main historical views usually identified as coherence theories of truth, viz. the views of the absolute idealists, and to contemporary anti-realism is more problematic. In addition, while Fumerton is again undeniably correct in his objection to pure coherence theories of justification, an impure coherence theory of justification may still be defensible.
10. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
Douglas Low Merleau-Ponty’s Concept of Reason
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In this paper I will provide a brief summary of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy as it is relevant to the concept of reason. Merleau-Ponty’s position comes between the two now dominant views of reason: the traditional view that relies on principles of rationality (identity and noncontradiction) that are supposedly preexistent, either in a realm of ideas or in nature in itself, and the postmodem/deconstructionist view that claims that language is a system of differences with no positive terms, that the concepts of identity and presence are simply a creation of a “deferring” language. For Merleau-Ponty the principle of identity (presence) is neither pregiven nor an arbitrary creation of language but has its roots in a bodily blending of lived perceptual perspectives, of the individual’s within his or her won body and of the individual’s with the perspectives of others. Merleau-Ponty’s thesis thus allows us to escape the traditional error of accepting principles of reason as absolute and pregiven, for the blending of perspectives always remains to be accomplished, and it allows us to avoid the postmodemist claim that the principles of rationality are simply a creation of language, for in Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, language is a sublimation of the body’s openness unto the world and others.
11. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
Edward Blatnik Kant’s Refutation of Anti-Realism
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In Language, Logic, and Experience, Michael Luntley successfully employs a Kantian-style transcendental argument to refute Michael Dummett’s anti-realist view that we are incapable of grasping “recognition-transcendent” truth-conditions. But he also contends that his own purified version of antirealism is immune to thi s sort of attack. This version is purified because it is concerned solely with the question of whether a given statement possesses a determinate truth value, and thus with whether the reality it is about exists determinately. I show that Kant’s original version of the argument (in the “Transcendental Analytic”) does in fact amount to a refutation of Luntleyan anti-realism. In particular, it demonstrates that the determinate existence of all past and present naturalistic states and events is a necessary condition of thought. Since Luntleyan anti-realism entails that many such states and events are indeterminate, it must be rejected.
12. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
James R. Mensch Husserl and Sartre: A Question of Reason
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13. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
Jane Duran Social Epistemology and Goffmanian Theory
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The notion that epistemoIogy can be naturalized by advertence to areas of the sociaI sciences other than psychoIogy---by employment of sociolinguistics, for exampIe---is supported by three lines of argument. The first asks us to note that sociolinguistics provides information that wouId heIp us delineate the constraints of the process of epistemic justification as engaged in by a speaker/listener. The second asks us to take into account the socioIogy of Ianguage w ork of Erving Goffman, who has written extensiveIy on “face-saving” strategies and other non-verbaI devices . The third repeats a constructed naturaIized justificatory set from previous work in epistemoIogy and asks us to envision this set with riders from Goffmanian theory. It is concluded that naturalized epistemoIogy can and shouId draw from many areas of the sociaI sciences.
14. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
Paul Vincent Spade How to Start and Stop: Walter Burley on the INstant of Transition
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Mediaeval logicians often wrote about changes between contradictory states, for example a switch’s changing from being on to not being on. One of the questions discussed in these writings was whether at the moment the change occurs the changing thing is in the earlier or the later state. The present paper investigates the general setting for that question, and discusses the answer given by Walter Burley, an important early-fourteenth century author whose theory was a standard one. Burley’s theory at first seems arbitrary, and moreover committed to serious theoretical problems. The last part of the paper therefore considers what unspoken factors may have motivated Burley. Certain causal principles are suggested that would remove the apparent arbitrariness and avoid the theoretical problems with his theory, but only at the expense of revising it in a substantive way.
15. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
Vance G. Morgan Foreknowledge and Human Freedom in Augustine
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In this paper, I consider Augustine’s attempted solution of the problem of divine foreknowledge and free will. I focus on two distinct notions of God’s relationship to time as they relate to this problem. In Confessions XI, Augustine develops an understanding of time and foreknowledge that cIearly offers a possible solution to the foreknowledge/free will problem. I then turn to On Free Will 3 .1-4, where Augustine conspicuously declines to use a solution similar to the one in the Confessions, rather developing a response that demands a very different conception of foreknowledge. I subsequently argue that in On Free Will, Augustine’s argument requires that God’s foreknowledge, when considered in light of events involving human freedom, must be in a real sense dependent on the results of free choice.
16. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
Richard Creel Propositional Faith as a Mode of Belief and a Gift of God
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Sorne people use “faith” to refer to an action, some to a passion, and sorne to a composite of the two. “Faith” is also sometimes used interchangeably with “belief.” This paper is an effort to identify and overcorne some of the problems caused by these facts. I pursue this end by distinguishing several meanings of “belief,” and by distinguishing actional faith, passional faith, and faithfulness from one another. I argue that much can be gained by restricting the meaning of “faith” to the concept of a non-evidential doxastic passion that can be caused by any number of things, including God, if God exists.
17. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
Rod Bertolet Conventions and Coreferentiality
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In Frege’s Puzzle, Nathan Salmon takes it to be obvious that the fact that names such as ‘Hesperus’ and ‘Phosphorus’ are coreferential is purely a matter of arbitrary linguistic convention, while the fact that Hesperus is Phosphorus is by no means a conventional matter. Salmon also takes these points to be ones to which Frege appeals in the opening paragraph of “On Sense and Reference,” and hence finds it ironic that these points undercut the theory of sense that Frege develops in that paper. It is argued that the thesis that the coreferentiality of a pair of proper names is purely a matter of arbitrary linguistic convention is inconsistent with any plausible theory of reference. Salmon’s reading of Frege’s argument is also called into question.
18. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
James Van Evra Quine and Logical Positivism
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The work of W.V.O. Quine is often held to folIow the logical positivism of the Vienna Circle in broad outline, but to diverge from it in crucial particulars. On the basis of recent reevaluations of the latter, I argue that the philosophical distance between Quine and the Vienna Circle is less than ordinarily thought, or, most importantly, than Quine himself admits.
19. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
Harry Deutsch Logic for Contigent Beings
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One of the logical problems with which Arthur Prior struggled is the problem of finding, in Prior’s own phrase, a “logic for contingent beings.” The difficulty is that from minimal modal principles and classical quantification theory, it appears to follow immediately that every possible object is a necessary existent. The historical development of quantified modal logic (QML) can be viewed as a series of attempts---due variously to Kripke, Prior, Montague, and the fee-logicians---to solve this problem. In this paper, I review the extant solutions, finding them all wanting. Then I suggest a new solution inspired by Kripke’s theory of rigid designation and Kaplan’s logic of demonstratives, the latter in particular. It turns out that the basic mechanism of Kaplan’s logic can be exploited to yield a version of QML that will serve as a viable logic for contingent beings. This result, as I show, sheds new light on the problems of singular negative existential propositions, the question of actualism, the question of the existence of the contingent a priori, the relation between logical truth and necessity, and various modal problems and paradoxes going back to Chrysippus, Ramsey, and Moore.
20. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 19
William L. McBride The Pathos of European Political Philosophy After Marxism
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The paper begins by raising some doubts concerning the appropriateness of the phrase, ”after Marxism,” despite current sociological realities which point to its accuracy. It then discusses a certain “pathology” that may be intrinsic to the combined theory and practice of political philosophy; some examples are offered. Next, it is suggested that the discourse of contemporary European political philosophy suffers from the absence of certain Marxian notions, especially that of ideology. Some current trends---postmodernism, nationalism, critical theory, and religious thought---are then briefly explored . It is contended that none of them by itself is adequate for developing the kind of global worldview which, malgré tout, seems needed to counteract the increasing hegemony of the “Coca-Cola cuIture” of the present day. The paper concludes by raising questions about the possible role, at best an awkward one, of American philosophers in this enterprise.