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Displaying: 1-20 of 33 documents

1. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
A. C. Genova How Wittgenstein Escapes the Slingshot
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The paper attempts to do the following: (1) provide a reconstruction of a valid argument for Frege’s thesis that a truth-apt sentence refers to its truth value---an argument that is the implicit argument of Frege’s original text, based on premises explicitly stated or clearly implied in “On Sense and Reference”; (2) examine a standard version (essentially Davidson’s) of the recent counterpart of the Fregean Argument (the so-called Slingshot) designed to refute, quite generally, fact-based correspondence theories of truth; and (3) show exactly why Wittgenstein’s correspondence theory in the Tractatus is not subject to the Slingshot Argument. If so, then, contra Davidson, it is neither the case that a correspondence theory need be nonexplanatory of truth, nor the case that a “strategy of facts” cannot be sustained. Indeed, for Wittgenstein, the Slingshot cannot even come into play, unless we attempt to say what can only be shown.
2. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
L. Nathan Oaklander Is There a Difference Between the Metaphysics of A- and B-Time?
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Clifford Williams has recently argued that the dispute between A- and B-theories, or tensed and tenseless theories of time, is spurious because once the confusions between the two theories are cleared away there is no real metaphysical difference between them. The purpose of this paper is to dispute Williams’s thesis. I argue that there are important metaphysical differences between the two theories and that, moreover, some of the claims that Williams makes in his article suggest that he is sympathetic with a B-theoretic ontology.
3. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Rod Bertolet Recanati, Descriptive Names, and the Prospect of New Knowledge
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The immediate purpose of this note is to provide counterexamples to François Recanati’s claim in Direct Reference that descriptive names (a name whose reference is fixed by an attributive definite description) are created with the expectation that we will be able to think of the referent nondescriptively at some point in the future. The larger issue is how to reconcile the existence of descriptive names with the theoretical commitments Recanati takes direct reference to have. The point of the claim about the expectation of future knowledge of the referent is to make it plausible that uses of descriptive names are not literal, since a literal use ought to express a singular proposition rather than one involving a descriptive mode of presentation; it is argued that this route to reconciliation will not work.
4. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Gordon Knight Idealism, Intentionality, and Nonexistent Objects
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Idealist philosophers have traditionally tried to defend their views by appealing to the claim that nonmental reality is inconceivable. A standard response to this inconceivability claim is to try to show that it is only plausible if one blurs the fundamental distinction between consciousness and its object. I try to rehabilitate the idealistic argument by presenting an alternative formulation of the idealist’s basic inconceivability claim. Rather than suggesting that all objects are inconceivable apart from consciousness, I suggest that it is impossible to conceive of any such object as genuinely existent. This thesis is lent credence by the fact that only in reflective self-consciousness is existence a phenomenological datum. Not only is it the case that we are not ever aware of an object as existing, we do not have a clear understanding of what it would be like to have such an awareness. If this is true, then we have reason to believe that while consciousness exists, the objects of consciousness cannot exist.
5. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Arthur Witherall The Fundamental Question
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Asking the question “Why is there something instead of nothing?” almost always inspires a reaction of awe or wonder. This emotional response is both appropriate and desirable, whether or not a legitimate answer to the question is obtainable. The question is deep, and the fact about which it asks is impossible to explain by citing some other fact or some antecedent condition. In this paper I consider several possible responses, including a rejection of the question as meaningless, positions that posit the existence of a necessary being, and teleological explanations that posit the instantiation of value in the world. It is argued that each of these positions is either an unacceptable response or fails to diminish our sense of awe at the existence of the world.
6. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
James O. Young A Defence of the Coherence Theory of Truth
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Recent critics of the coherence theory of truth (notably Ralph Walker) have alleged that the theory is incoherent, since its defence presupposes the correctness of the contrary correspondence theory of truth. Coherentists must specify the system of propositions with which true propositons cohere (the specified system). Generally, coherentists claim that the specified system is a system composed of propositions believed by a community. Critics of coherentism maintain that the coherentist’s assertions about which system is the specified system must be true, not because they cohere with a system of beliefs, but because of facts about what a community believes. I argue that coherentists can admit that there are facts about what systems of beliefs communities accept, without being committed to the claim that these facts are the truth conditions of sentences about what communities accept.
7. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Francesco Orilia Metaphor and Truth-Makers
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This paper builds on Lakoff’s and Johnson’s theory of metaphorical concepts to propose that our conception of truth as correspondence with reality is metaphorically based on our conception of perceptual fields. In particular, it is argued that parts of reality, as metaphorically understood in terms of parts of perceptual fields, can play the role of objective truth-makers for sentences with empirical content; for instance, they meet the constraints on correspondence put forward by Barry Smith. Finally, Richard Boyd’s account of the function of metaphor in science is utilized to ground the nonfictional and referential status of truth-maker and related notions.
8. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Pamela Sue Anderson “Standpoint”: Its Rightful Place in a Realist Epistemology
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This article defends the place of “standpoint” in a realist epistemology. The conception and role of standpoint are proposed to be receptive to the shifting perspectives of actual knowers. A standpoint is distinguished from a spontaneous perspective or mere outlook. In this realist epistemology standpoint will have something to do with background beliefs. but rather than a starting point, it is an achievement gained as a result of a struggle for less biased knowledge. Epistemologists currently employ various conceptions of standpoint. However. the present concern is with a conception that functions to expose the framing influence of the social and material variables constituting complex power relations. Oppression and domination are not as easily elucidated as background beliefs. Confronting the truth of racism, for example. involves not only empirical justification and hermeneutical dialogue but recognition of standpoint in a reflexive and transformative interplay of perspectives.
9. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Robert Buckley Physicalism and the Problem of Mental Causation
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In this paper I argue that the problem of mental causation can be solved by distinguishing between classificatory mental properties, like being a pain, and instances of those properties.Antireductive physicalism allows only that the former be irreducibly mental. Consequently, properties like being a pain cannot have causal commerce with the physical without violating causal closure. But instances of painfulness, according to the token identity thesis, are identical with various physical tokens and can therefore have causal efficacy in the physical world. Since we expect particular mental phenomena, not types or classes of mental phenomena to be involved in causal interactions, it is argued that antireductive physicalism can explain satisfactorily mental causation, despite the protests of Kim, Sosa, Honderich, and others. Being a mental state of a certain sort may have no causal efficacy, but the intentional and phenomenal properties of such states should, if my argument is correct.
10. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Nancy Slonneger Hancock Anomalous Monism and Physical Closure
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The principle of the anomalousness of the mental (PAM) is one of the most controversial principles in Donald Davidson’s argument for anomalous monism (AM). It states that there cannot be any laws (psychophysical or psychological) on the basis of which mental events can be predicted and explained. The argument against such psychological laws rests on the claim that psychology is not a comprehensive closed system (though physics is). Here I sketch the argument for AM, focusing on the role of PAM and the concept of closure. I present characterizations of the notion of closure offered by William Stanton and Brian McLaughlin. McLaughlin argues that Stanton’s characterization makes the argument for AM circular. McLaughlin offers a different characterization, but I argue that given Davidson’s criterion of event identity and individuation, the two are equivalent and thus both are subject to McLaughlin’s objection. If I’m right about this, there are still a couple of options open to Davidson and the defenders of Anomalous Monism. However, I conclude by indicating why neither seems promising to me.
11. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
A. Minh Nguyen A Critique of Dretske’s Conception of State Consciousness
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In his recent work, Dretske offers a new account of what it is for a mental state, in particular, a sensory experience, to be conscious. According to Dretske’sproposal, subject S’s experience of object O is conscious if and only if it makes S aware of O. This proposal is argued to be open to only two serious interpretations. The first takes it to mean that S’s experience of O is conscious if and only if it constitutes S’s awareness of O, whereas the second takes it to mean that S’s experience of O is conscious if and only if it causes S’s awareness of O. It is argued that neither is a plausible way to understand the nature of state consciousness, because the constitutive interpretation implausibly denies the existence of unconscious veridical experiences, whereas the causal interpretation implausibly casts S’s veridical experience of O, rather than O or a certain external event involving O, as the relevant cause of S’s awareness of O.
12. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Joe Mintoff Buridan’s Ass and Reducible Intentions
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Unlike Buridan’s ass, most of us have the capacity to deal with situations in which there is more than one maximally preferable option. According to supporters of a prominent conception of intention, making a decision in this type of case involves coming to prefer, or judge preferable, one of the relevant options over the other. The purpose of this paper is to argue that accounts that reduce intentions to preferences or preferability judgments cannot explain how it is possible to rationally form and to reason from such intentions in Buridan cases. Such accounts commit us to rejecting long-standing philosophical commitments to the relation between: judgment and evidence; reconsideration and new information; preference and judgments of preferability; and (in some versions) commit us to attributing overly complex forms of motivation.
13. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Yuval Steinitz The Logical Paradox of Causation
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According to Hume’s classical definition of causal relations, a cause must fulfill two distinct conditions: a) be a sufficient condition for the occurrence of its effect; b) be temporally prior to it. However, a careful logical analysis shows that the combination of sufficiency and temporality is impossible. This is because if a complete cause is a sufficient condition for its effect to occur-then the effect is a necessary condition for the occurrence of its own complete cause! Thus, there can be no complete cause for anything to occur, which means that causal determination is logically impossible.The paper goes on to examine some possible responses to this argument, and then concludes with a nontemporal version of the paradox that shows that even the first of Hume’s above conditions cannot be fulfilled on its own. This is because if something (e.g., the cause) is a sufficient condition of something else (e.g., the effect), then it cannot be a sufficient condition of itself.
14. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Logi Gunnarsson Climbing Up the Ladder: Nonsense and Textual Strategy in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus
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This paper is the work of two fictional authors, the late Johannes Philologus and Johannes Commentarius. One part consists of Philologus’s philosophical reflections on a fragment that, unbeknownst to him, is identical to the first four paragraphs of the Preface and the last two numbered propositions of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Commentarius writes a preface to Philologus’s article and a commentary on it, in which he, like Philologus, addresses the question of how a work consisting of nonsense can be elucidatory. By publishing his contribution together with that of Philologus, Commentarius wants to produce a work mirroring the structure of the Tractatus itself.
15. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Thomas W. Smythe Self-Knowledge and the Self
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Although it is unpopular in analytical philosophy nowadays to talk about the Self, I attempt to resurrect the concept by articulating a mode of self-knowledge recently introduced in the literature on perceiving God, and described as nonsensory perception. Contrary to Hume, I point out various aspects of the Self that a subject can perceive in a nonsensory manner. I cite some historical forerunners for such a conception of self-knowledge of the self. I use a thought experiment to indicate, in a phenomenological way, an example of the inner perception of the self as “here.” I briefly discuss the implications of such a mode of self-awareness for the mind-body problem, and for personal identity.
16. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Marcus Verhaegh Hypothetical and Psychoanalytic Interpretation
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I develop the concept of hypothetical interpretation to give an account of certain problematic interpretive practices within a broadly Gricean framework. These practices attempt to find neither speaker nor linguistic meaning but rather, seek to discover such things as the unconscious beliefs of a text’s producer. In developing the concept of hypothetical interpretation, I consider in particular the question of their plausibility. I show how the plausibility of a hypothetical interpretation can be taken as providing evidence about a speaker’s noncommunicative mental state, and how psychoanalytic interpretive practices and similar “hermeneutics of suspicion” rely upon such evidence.
17. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Stephen Hetherington A Fallibilist and Wholly Internalist Solution to the Gettier Problem
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How can a person avoid being Gettiered? This paper provides the first answer to that question that is both fallibilist and purely internalist. It is an answer that allows the justified-true-belief analysis of knowledge to survive Gettier’s attack (albeit as a nonreductionist analysis of knowledge).
18. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Hamid Vahid Skepticism and Varieties of Epistemic Universalizability
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While there is general agreement that knowing a proposition p involves knowing that nothing incompatible with p is true, there is much controversy over the range of possibilities that have to be ruled out if knowledge claims are to be sustained. With the failure of attempts on behalf of commonsense to delimit the range of counterpossibilities in order to leave room for knowledge, some theorists, most notably Adler, have sought to introduce a set of so-called ‘universalizability principles’ that require us to extend our epistemic judgments about particular beliefs to those held under similar circumstances. These principles, it is claimed, not only identify which counterpossibilities must be countenanced, but also have enough power to generate skeptical results. In this paper I distinguish between minimalist and full-blooded versions of the universalizability thesis, and argue that the thesis can have skeptical consequences only when conjoined with certain epistemically significant assumptions. This is followed by a discussion of the epistemic import of the minimalist version of the thesis by considering how it can arise naturally in epistemic contexts, in virtue of either being semantically linked to the concept of justification or as a result of enforcing certain constraints on its application.
19. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Mark Tanzer Heidegger on Freedom and Practical Judgment
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One prevalent strategy for connecting Heidegger’s thought and his support of Nazism focuses on his notion of resolve. The claim is that it is through resolve that Dasein achieves authenticity, but that Heidegger’s notion of resolve is without determinate content, and thus empty. Since the call to authenticity, it is supposed, is Heidegger’s version of the command to be moral, the indeterminacy of Heideggerian resolve apparently results in an ethicopolitical “decisionism”-an effectively amoral form of judgment that precludes Heideggerian thought from recognizing the evil of National Socialism. In this paper, I argue that the above critique is based on a misinterpretation of Heidegger’s notion of freedom. Specifically, it imputes the “existentialist” conception of freedom as unconstrained arbitrariness to Heideggerian resolve. A proper understanding of Heideggerian freedom, however, reveals that freedom is highly constrained, and that the freedom of resolve is far from an empty notion.
20. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Lawrence J. Hatab The Ecstatic Nature of Empathy: A Heideggerian Opening for Ethics
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This paper ventures an analysis of empathy along the lines of Heidegger’s ecstatic structure of being-in-the-world. Empathy is construed as a mode of attunement disclosing the existential weal and woe of others, and as such it serves a basic ethical function of opening up moral import, interest, and motivation. The following conclusions will be drawn: 1) empathy is a genuine possibility in human experience and should not be understood as a “subjective” phenomenon; 2) empathy is “natural” in a way that can trump psychological egoism and open up alternatives to ethical egoism; 3) the role of empathy shows the limits of rationality in ethics and the structural defects in utilitarian and deontological theories; 4) findings in social psychology reinforce Heidegger’s phenomenology, and the latter can help surmount flawed assumptions in the former; 5) empathy is not sufficient for an ethics but it may be a necessary condition for human moral development.