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Displaying: 1-20 of 24 documents

1. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Wayne Backman Epistemically-Qualified Judgment: A Nonquantitative Approach
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The author describes a formal system for interpreting and generating epistemically-qualified judgments, that is, judgments qualified by phrases like “it is certain that,” “it is almost certain that,” “it is plausible that,” and “it is doubtful that.” The system has two noteworthy properties. First, the system’s qualifiers are purely qualitative. Second, the system is based on epistemic warranting conditions, not truth conditions. The first property is noteworthy because it makes the system an alternative to systems that use numerical certainty factors to interpret epistemic qualifiers; unlike these numerically-based systems, the system the author describes is faithful to the surface meanings of epistemic qualifiers. The second property is noteworthy because it makes the system an altemative to deductive systems; unlike deductive systems, the system the author describes supports nonmonotonic inferences. The author’s account includes precise warranting conditions for system-supported judgments, a semantics that fixes the meaning of system judgments, and algorithms for generating system judgments.
2. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
David Basinger Feminism and Epistemology: A Response to Code
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There have been many calls recently for philosophers to rethink what philosophy is and how it should be practiced. Among the most vocal critics is an influential group of feminist philosophers who argue that since current philosophical activity is based primarily on a conception of reason that is both inherently inadequate and oppressive to women, it is imperative that our understanding of the nature and practice of philosophy be significantly modified. I argue that this criticism is fundamentally misguided. Specifically, it seems to me that while philosophers may at times need to rethink the role of the traditional philosophical method of inquiry in the context of general societal debate and rethink the techniques used to help others understand and apply this methodology, this method of inquiry, itself, is not in need of abandonment or major modification.
3. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Susan V. Castagnetto Reid’s Answer to Abstract Ideas
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The doctrine of abstract ideas contains Locke’s views on the nature of generality and how we think in general terms-the nature of universals, of general concepts, and how we classify. While Reid rejects abstract ideas, he accepts Locke’s insight that we have an ability to abstract. In this paper, I show how Reid preserves Locke’s insight, while providing a more versatile and forward-looking account of universals and concepts than Locke was able to give.Reid replaces abstract ideas with what he calls “general conceptions.” But general conceptions are really three different things. First, they are universals---non-mental intrinsically general objects of acts of abstraction and conception. I show how Reid is able to make the claim that there are universals without being committed to holding that universals really exist. This claim, together with his type/token distinction, enables Reid to better explain how we have knowledge of attributes and use general terms meaningfully. The general features of our experience are not ideas and are not produced by the faculty of abstraction---but that faculty enables us to distinguish them.In the second sense, a general conception is an act of mind which takes universals as objects. Thinking in general tenns is not the manipulation of abstract ideas---it is engaging in acts of conceiving. Such acts are made possible by general conceptions in the third sense, namely, general concepts. While Reid does not distinguish this sense explicitly, I argue that he takes general concepts to be dispositions or abilities to distinguish general features of objects and to use the general terms of language as other users do. So rather than producing mental entities---abstract ideas---that act as standards to help us classify, abstraction makes possible the development of abilities to use general terms and classify objects.
4. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
John C. Coker On Being Nemesētikos as a Mean
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Aristotle’s several accounts of the praiseworthy mean temperament of nemesis, one in the Nichomachean Ethics and two in the Eudemian Ethics, do not cohere with each other, and each account is internally flawed. Some philosophers have pronounced Aristotle’s accounts of nemesis as a mean to be irreparably defective and even a misapplication of the doctrine of the mean. Contrary to such pronouncements, Aristotle’s accounts of nemesis as a mean have explicable reparable flaws, and can be brought into coherence. The tools for repair are provided by an interpretation and elaboration of Aristotle’s discussion, in the Rhetoric, of emotions and temperaments contrary to pity. Ultimately, nemesis as a praiseworthy mean temperament is constituted by and accounted for in terms of four praiseworthy sub-temperaments, namely proper indignation, proper Schadenfreude, proper pity, and proper gratulation.
5. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Richard DeWitt Remarks on the Current Status of the Sorites Paradox
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The past twenty or so years have seen the sorites paradox receive a good deal of philosophical air-time. Yet, in what is surely a sign of a good puzzle, no consensus has emerged. It is perhaps a good time to stop and take stock of the current status of the sorites paradox. My main contention is that the proposals offered to date as ways of blocking the paradox are seriously deficient, and hence there is, at present, no acceptable solution to the sorites. In the final section I argue that, although vagueness is the source of the threat to modus ponens engendered by the sorites, it is also vagueness that protects modus ponens from clear counterexample.
6. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Carlo Filice Pacifism: A Philosophical Exploration
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I argue in this paper that pacifism is a live moral option. I do this in four steps. First, I try to make the case that the backing of thinkers and prophets of the stature of Gandhi and Jesus lends pacifism some prima-facie moral legitimacy. Second, I try to determine what the ethical-metaphysical preconditions that would justify pacifism would have to be---and I conclude that some consequentialist soul-exposing scheme would be required. Third, I argue that such a scheme would be able to sustain pacifism against rights-based criticisms, like those advanced by Narveson. Fourth, I defend the possibility of such a required ethical-metaphysical scheme.
7. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
James F. Fieser The Logic of Natural Law in Aquinas’s “Treatise on Law”
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Against recent commentators such as Annstrong, D’Arcy, Copleston, O’Connor, Bourke, and Grisez, I argue that the logic referred to by Thomas in his “Treatise on Law” should not be understood metaphorically. Instead, it involves a chain of syllogisms, beginning with the synderesis principle, followed by primary, secondary, and tertiary principles, and ends with a practical syllogism. In showing this, I attack the view that the synderesis principle, “good ought to be done and evil avoided,” is tautological . Second, I show the syllogistic relation between this and the more subordinate moral principIes. Finally, I argue that the practical syllogism also involves a logical deduction, where the minor premise is a propositional attitude of perception, and the conclusion is an action which expresses a proposition. What emerges is a more precise account of how actions are related to natural law.
8. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Pieranna Garavaso The Argument from Agreement and Mathematical Realism
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Traditionally, in the philosophy of mathematics realists claim that mathematical objects exist independently of the human mind, whereas idealists regard them as mental constructions dependent upon human thought.It is tempting for realists to support their view by appeal to our widespread agreement on mathematical results. Roughly speaking, our agreement is explained by the fact that these results are about the same mathematical objects. It is alleged that the idealist’s appeal to mental constructions precludes any such explanation. I argue that realism and idealism, as above characterized, are equally effective (or problematic) in accounting for our widespread mathematical agreement.Both accounts are descriptivist for they take mathematical statements to be true if and only if they correctly describe mathematical objects. By contrast, non-descriptivist accounts take mathematical statements to be rule-like and mathematical symbols to be non-referential. I suggest that non-descriptivism provides a simpler and more natural explanation for our widespread agreement on mathematical results than any descriptivist account.
9. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Owen Goldin Metaphysical Explanation and “Partcularization” in Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed
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Within The Guide of the Perplexed Maimonides presents an argument that is intended to render probable the temporal creation of the cosmos. In one of these arguments Maimonides adopts the Kalamic strategy of arguing for the necessity of there being a “particularizing” agent. Maimonides argues that even one who grants Aristotelian science can still ask why the heavenly realm is as it is, to which there is no reply forthcoming but “God so willed it.” The argument is effective against the Arabic Neoplatonic Aristotelians, but not against Aristotle himself. Aristotle’s response to Maimonides would be that the latter is in effect asking, “Why are there the essences there are?”, a question that Aristotle would take to be fundamentally misplaced, since he holds that the existence of the theoretical primitives of every science is to be assumed. Nevertheless, Maimonides’ challenge has force for those who recognize a demand for a metaphysical explanation for there being those kinds of things posited as primitive by the natural sciences.
10. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Christopher R. Hitchcock Discussion: Massey and Kirk on the Indeterminacy of Translation
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Gerald Massey has constructed translation manuals for the purposes of illustrating Quine’s Indeterminacy Thesis. Robert Kirk has argued that Massey’s manuals do not live up to their billing. In this note, I will present Massey’s manuals and defend them against Kirk’s objections. The implications for Quine’s Indeterminacy Thesis will then be briefly discussed.
11. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Clarence Sholé Johnson Yet Another Look at Cognitive Reason and Moral Action in Hume’s Ethical System
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But for a very recent exception, Hume has generally been thought to deny that cognitive reason plays a distinctive role in morality. The cornerstone of this view has been his notorious remark that reason is and ought only to be the slave of passion and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey passion. But, this remark notwithstanding, Hume’s view about the significance of intention in moral processes suggests that he does assign to cognitive reason a very crucial role in morality. This is what the present study establishes.
12. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Wayne G. Johnson Psychological Egoism: Noch Einmal
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While psychological egoism “A”, the theory that all human actions are selfish, is easily defeated, an alternative formulation, “B”, is defended: “AU deliberate human actions are either self-interested or self-referential.” While “B” is not empirically testable, neither is any alternative altruistic theory. “B” escapes criticisms leveled at “A”, including those of Joseph Butler. “B” is shown to be theoretically superior to any theory of altruism since it brings coherence to moral theory by explaining the nature of moraI motivation.
13. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Charlotte Katzoff Oakeshott and the Practice of Politics
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Oakeshott’s thesis is that political knowledge is essentially praetical: it is not given to propositional formulation and cannot be deliberately exercised, but rather is expressed in conduct and transmitted by example and practice. I argue that this is true primarily of physical skills which depend upon unconscious, automatic physiological processes. Political practice, by contrast, is largely a matter of rule-governed activity. It is an empirical fact that we do have introspcetive access to many of the rules whieh govern our political conduct, and there is good evidence for the claim that we can deliberately and reflectively set ourselves to apply them.
14. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Russell A. Lascola A Common Sense Approach to the Mind-Body Problem: A Critique of Richard Taylor
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In a popular book and a widely anthologized article, Richard Taylor argues for a materialistic account of human nature based on considerations of common sense. While I do not argue against materialism, per se, I offer an extended critique of Taylor’s position that common sense unambiguously supports his version of materialism. I also argue that his account of the nature of psychological processes is of dubious philosophical value.
15. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Douglas Low The Continuity Between Merleau-Ponty’s Early and Late Philosophy of Language
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The primary concem of this essay is the similarity and difference between Merleau-Ponty’s early (Phenomenology of Perception) and late (The Visible and the lnvisible) philosophy of language. While some argue that Merleau-Ponty’s late work breaks with the earlier text and foreshadows poststructuralist and deconstructionist philosophy of language, I argue (with others) that there is no significant break in Merleau-Ponty’s thought. The similarities discovered between the early and late philosophy of language are 1.) that the body opens onto a world that is shared by all, 2.) that human gestures (of an individual and between individuals) interpenetrate and aim at the same world, and 3.) that the visual field that is already structured by the body/world interaction provides the basis for more abstract linguistic expression. The most fundamental difference discovered between these texts is that Merleau-Ponty abandons his earlier concept of the tacit cogito for the reflexivity of the body. Merleau-Ponty’s attempt to relate this reflexivity to language will also be discussed.Since there is such confusion and debate about the continuity of Merleau-Ponty’s thought, especially with respect to his philosophy of language, I have cast the essay in the form of a comprehensive exposition. The detailed textual exposition serves two purposes. First, it provides a comprehensive essay length introduction to Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of language, and secondly, it reveals Merleau-Ponty’s thoughts in his own words, thus reducing the possibility of misinterpretation.
16. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Kirk Ludwig Brains in a Vat, Subjectivity, and the Causal Theory of Reference
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This paper evaluates Putnam’s argument in the first chapter of Reason, Truth and History, for the claim that we can know that we are not brains in a vat (of a certain sort). A widespread response to Putnam’s argument has been that if it were successful not only the world but the meanings of our words (and consequently our thoughts) would be beyond the pale of knowledge, because a causal theory of reference is not compatible with our having knowledge of the meanings of our words. I argue that this is not so. I argue also, however, that given how Putnam argues (here) for the causal theory of reference, he cannot after all escape this consequence.
17. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Karl Pfeifer Searle, Strong AI, and Two Ways of Sorting Cucumbers
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This paper defends Searle against the misconstrual of a key claim of “Minds, Brains, and Programs” and goes on to explain why an attempt to turn the tables by using the Chinese Room to argue for intentionality in computers fails.
18. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Walter E. Schaller The Relation of Moral Worth to the Good Will in Kant’s Ethics
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I consider three questions concerning the relation of the good will to the moral worth of actions. (1) Does a good will consist simply in acting from the motive of duty? (2) Does acting from the motive of duty presuppose that one has a good will? (3) Does the fact that one has a good wilI entail that all of one’s duty-fulfilling actions have moral worth, even if they are not (directly) motivated by duty? I argue that while only persons with a good will are capable of acting from the motive of duty, it does not follow either that a good will consists in acting from duty or that if one has a good will, all of one’s dutiful actions will be motivated by duty. Whereas the good will is constituted by the agent’s highest-order maxim (the moral law itself), moral worth is a function of the agent’s first-order maxims.
19. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Kenneth R. Westphal Kant on the State, Law, and Obedience to Authority in the Alleged ‘Anti-Revolutionary’ Writings
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The tension between Kant’s egalitarian conception of persons as ends in themselves and his rejection of the right of revolution has been widely discussed. The crucial issue is more fundamental: Is Kant’s defense of absolute obedience consistent with his own principle of legitimate law, that legitimate law is compatible with the Categorical Imperative? Resolving this apparent inconsistency resolves the subsidiary inconsistencies that have been debated in the literature. I argue that Kant’s legal principles contain two distinct grounds of obligation to obey political authority. One lies in his metaphysical principles of law, according to which there is only a duty to obey legitimate law or fully legitimate authorities. Another lies in his moral-pragmatic principles. He believes that membership in the state helps improve one’s character by counter-balancing one’s immoral inclinations. This is his ultimate ground for obedience to de facto, imperfectly legitimate states. On this ground, the duty to obey an actual state is conditional. Kant’s strong statements about the duty to obey actual states is explained by the ease with which he thinks the relevant condition is met by extant states. The apparent ambiguities in his discussion of obedience point to some important philosophical and historical shortcomings of his analysis of the division of govemmental powers and of judicial competence which hamper his analysis of the duty to obey the state.
20. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
John M. Whelan, Jr. Contractualism and the Right to Aid
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In this paper I try to defend three claims: first, that there is a requirement to aid and a correlative right to be aided; second, that the conditions under which this right applies can be precisely stated and given a convincing contractualist rationale; and third, that the existence of this right has no relevance for the justifiability of social welfare programs.