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editor’s introduction
1. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Zach Weber Issue Introduction
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2. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Clinton Golding A Conception of Philosophical Progress
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There is no consensus about appropriate philosophical method that can be relied on to settle philosophical questions and instead of established findings, there are multiple conflicting arguments and positions, and widespread disagreement and debate. Given this feature of philosophy, it might seem that philosophy has proven to be a worthless endeavour, with no possibility of philosophical progress. The challenge then is to develop a conception of philosophy that reconciles the lack of general or lasting agreement with the possibility of philosophical progress. I present such a conception in this paper. I argue that the aim of philosophy is to resolve philosophical problems, which is different from establishing settled and final answers or positions. Philosophical problems involve inadequate or incongruous conceptions that cannot be settled once and for all but can be resolved by transforming our conceptions so they are now congruous and adequate. There is philosophical progress every time a warranted, defensible position is developed that resolves a philosophical problem, even if there are competing resolutions and further problems to resolve, as there always are in philosophy.
3. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
James Tartaglia Philosophy between Religion and Science
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Philosophical concerns are evidenced from the beginning of human literature, which have no obvious connection to philosophy’s mainstream epistemological and metaphysical problematic. I reject the views that the nature of philosophy is a philosophical question, and that the discipline is united by methodology, arguing that it must be united by subject matter. The origins of the discipline provide reasons to doubt the existence of a unifying subject matter, however, and scepticism about philosophy also arises from its a priori methodology and apparent lack of progress. In response, I argue that philosophy acquired a distinctive subject matter when the concept of transcendence was introduced into attempts to gain a systematic understanding of the world and our place within it; philosophy thereby pursues the same aim of achieving a synoptic vision of reality as religion, but resembles science in its development and employment of rigorous methodologies. Philosophy’s subject matter explains why it must be pursued a priori, and it only appears not to have progressed when aims are neglected, and it is inappropriately assimilated to science.
4. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Nathan Sinclair A Distinction between Science and Philosophy
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Ever since Kant published his Critique of Pure Reason, most philosophers have taken the distinction between science and philosophy to depend upon the existence of a class of truths especially amenable to philosophical investigation. In recent times, Quine’s arguments against the analytic-synthetic distinction have cast doubt over the existence of such a class of special philosophical truths and consequently many now doubt that there is a sharp distinction between science and philosophy. In this paper, I present a perfectly sharp distinction between science and philosophy that does not depend upon any distinction between philosophical and scientific truths.
5. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Duncan Richter Philosophy and Poetry
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Philosophy certainly has connections with science but it is not itself a science. Nor is it literature. But it is related to literature in a way that excessive emphasis on science can obscure. In this paper I defend the rather old-fashioned view that philosophy is essentially linguistic. I also argue, less conventionally, that there is an unavoidable personal aspect to at least some philosophical problems, and in answering them we must speak for ourselves without being able to count on every other speaker of our language agreeing with us or even understanding what we say. Where the rules of our language are not set we must, so to speak, make them up for ourselves as we go. In this way philosophy requires the kind of linguistic creativity more often associated with poetical kinds of literature. Drawing on the work of Cora Diamond and Alice Crary, I argue that philosophy should be regarded as, not identical with, but continuous with poetry.
6. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Ross Barham Metaphilosophical Dualism
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There exist two equally prominent, though seemingly divergent metaphilosophical viewpoints. One takes philosophy to be an essentially revolutionary process. The other sees philosophy as a constructive, collaborative enterprise that seeks increased rigor and consensus. Recent debate in the philosophy of language regarding the relationship of particular languages to the general capacity for language reveals an illuminating structural analogy with these divergent metaphilosophical trends. While neither debate is settled herein, regardless of their eventual determinations, it is concluded that there is little reason to suppose that philosophy will some day become a science, at least not in any metaphilosophically meaningful sense of the phrase.
7. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Richard Kamber Philosophy’s Future as a Problem-Solving Discipline: The Promise of Experimental Philosophy
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Scientists often reach provisional agreement solutions to problems central to their disciplines, whereas philosophers do not. Although philosophy has been practiced by outstanding intellects for over two thousand years, philosophers have not reached agreement, provisional or otherwise, on the solution or dissolution of any central philosophical problem by philosophical methods. What about philosophy’s future? Until about 1970, philosophers were generally optimistic. Some pinned their hopes on revolution in methodology, others on reform of practice. The case for gradual reform still finds articulate advocates in philosophers like Michael Dummett and Timothy Williamson, but many philosophers today suspect that perennial disagreement may be inescapable. I consider three explanations for the inescapability of perennial disagreement—Richard Rorty’s relativism, Colin McGinn’s skepticism, and Nicholas Rescher’s pluralism—and find each wanting. I argue that a better explanation is the resistance of philosophers to commit, as scientists do, to formulating testable theories and collecting data to help decide between competing theories. I close by proposing that experimental philosophy, a movement still in its infancy, holds the promise of reuniting philosophy with science and moving philosophers closer to agreement on the solution of its central problems.
8. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Ian James Kidd The Contingency of Science and the Future of Philosophy
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Contemporary metaphilosophical debates on the future of philosophy invariably include references to the natural sciences. This is wholly understandable given the cognitive and cultural authority of the sciences and their contributions to philosophical thought and practice. However such appeals to the sciences should be moderated by reflections on contingency of sciences. Using the work of contemporary historians and philosophers of science, I argue that an awareness of the radical contingency of science supports the claim that philosophy’s future should not be construed as either dependent or necessarily related to that of the sciences. Therefore contemporary debates – about the possibility of philosophy’s status as a science, say – should be tempered by an appreciation of the fact that science may cease to be a significant feature of future metaphilosophical debates. I conclude by considering the implications of this claim for assessments of the progressiveness of philosophy.
9. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Eric Dietrich There Is No Progress in Philosophy
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Except for a patina of twenty-first century modernity, in the form of logic and language, philosophy is exactly the same now as it ever was; it has made no progress whatsoever. We philosophers wrestle with the exact same problems the Pre-Socratics wrestled with. Even more outrageous than this claim, though, is the blatant denial of its obvious truth by many practicing philosophers. The No-Progress view is explored and argued for here. Its denial is diagnosed as a form of anosognosia, a mental condition where the affected person denies there is any problem. The theories of two eminent philosophers supporting the No-Progress view are also examined. The final section offers an explanation for philosophy’s inability to solve any philosophical problem, ever. The paper closes with some reflections on philosophy’s future.
book reviews
10. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Alan Soble Quit Your Kvetching: The Humor of Woody Allen
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11. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
Peter H. Denton Review of The Veil of Isis: An Essay on the History of the Idea of Nature, by Pierre Hadot, trans. Michael Chase
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12. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 2
David Boersema Review of The Pragmatism Reader: From Peirce through the Present, ed. Robert B. Talisse and Scott F. Aikin
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editor’s introduction
13. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Constantine Sandis Issue Introduction
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14. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
John Shand Love As If
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The primary focus here is romantic love, but it may be applied to other cases of love such as those within a family. The first issue is whether love is a non-rational occurrence leading to a state of affairs to which the normative constrains of reason do not apply. If one assumes that reasons are relevant to determining love, then the second issue is the manner in which love is and should be reasonable and governed by the indications of reason. It is contended that our conception of love is inherently contradictory. Depending on circumstances, we want love to be both a non-rational occurrence beyond reason and something normative such that the indications of reasons are relevant to determining and assessing it. We alternate between the two treatments of love and in so doing love can function in our lives. The incoherence is accommodated by each treatment or view of love being one of as if. This allows us to live with love in a manner whereby we do not have to definitively commit to either alternative, so we have a dipolar as if concept of love. Sometimes we view love as if reasons were beside the point and at others we view love as if it were rightly subject to the indications of reason.
15. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Eric J. Silverman Robert Solomon’s Rejection of Aristotelian Virtue: Is the Passion of Erotic Love a Virtue that is Independent of Rationality?
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A recurring theme within Robert Solomon’s writings concerns the central importance of the passions. His high regard for the passions even motivates him to challenge the traditional understanding of virtue. Solomon rejects the Aristotelian view that virtues are dispositions of character developed according to rational principles rather than passions. He offers the counter-example of erotic love as a passion that is not based upon rationality, which he argues ought to be viewed as a virtue. This paper argues that while Solomon’s account of love can accommodate the traditional Aristotelian motivations for rejecting passions as virtues, there are compelling reasons for preferring the Aristotelian account of virtue. Ultimately, Solomon’s argument relies upon an implausible view of the passions and offers inferior resources for examining love in terms of virtue.
16. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Jussi Suikkanen The Possibility of Love Independent Reasons
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In his recent work, Harry Frankfurt has defended a theory according to which an agent’s practical reasons are determined by what she happens to love. In the first section of this article, I will describe some of the awkward consequences of this view. For instance, it would turn out that not all rapists would have reasons not to rape their victims. The second section of the article explains in detail Frankfurt’s argument for his theory of reasons. The crux of this argument is that, because reasons have to be attached to significant life-changes, any attempt to show that there were love independent reasons would need to be based on a prior evaluation of significance. However, such evaluations can only be based on what we already love, or so Frankfurt argues. From this threat of circularity, Frankfurt concludes that there cannot be reasons outside the realm of the objects of our loves. The rest of the article is a critical examination of Frankfurt’s argument. It first constructs an analogical argument for reasons for beliefs. In that case, both the unacceptable consequences of the argument and its basic flaws are more transparent. It is clear that our prior beliefs are not the only epistemic standard by which the justificatory role of new experiences is to be evaluated. In the end of the article, I argue that, likewise, our prior loving attitudes cannot be the only relevant standard for assessing the significance of life-changes. This is why our reasons are not constrained by what we love.
17. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Alan Soble Concerning Self-Love: Analytic Problems in Frankfurt’s Account of Love
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In The Reasons of Love, Harry Frankfurt proposes a philosophical account of love according to which there are four necessary conditions for the occurrence of love. We may ask reasonable questions about these four conditions: (1) Is each condition adequately analytically defined? (2) Is each condition plausibly a necessary condition for love, and has Frankfurt defended their necessity with good arguments? (3) Are all four conditions consistent with each other? And (4) if the four conditions are only necessary, and hence tell us only when love is absent, what must be added to Frankfurt’s account which would tell us, just as importantly, when love is present? In this essay I address these questions, although some more than others, especially in trying to understand Frankfurt’s claims about “self-love.” It emerges from this investigation that Frankfurt’s central metaethical thesis, which he has been advancing for three decades—that caring about or loving something logically precedes valuing it, and hence that we cannot have value-mentioning reasons for loving something or someone—starts to fall apart.
18. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Thomas H. Smith Romantic Love
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Nozick provides us with a compelling characterization of romantic love, but, as I argue, he underdescribes the phenomenon, for he fails to distinguish it from attitudes that those who are not romantically involved may bear to each other. Frankfurt also offers a compelling characterization of love, but he is sceptical about its application to the case of romantic love. I argue that each account has the resources with which to complete the other. I consider a preliminary synthesis of the two accounts, which I find wanting. The synthesis I then favour relies upon two thoughts: (i) each romantic partner has loving concern for a plural object viz. the two of them, and (ii) romantic partners are, in addition, beloved of a plural subject, viz. the two of them. A corollary is that Frankfurt is wrong to think that, whilst self-love is a pure form of love, romantic love is an impure form of love, for romantic love just is a form of (plural) self-love. In an appendix, I defend the coherence of the thought that love can have plural relata.
19. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Paul Voice The Authority of Love as Sentimental Contract
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This paper argues that the categorical authority of love’s imperatives is derived from a sentimental contract. The problem is defined and the paper argues against two recent attempts to explain the authority of love’s demands by Velleman and Frankfurt. An argument is then set out in which it is shown that a constructivist approach to the problem explains the sources of love’s justifications. The paper distinguishes between the moral and the romantic case but argues that the sources of authority are paralleled in each. The paper ends by asking what we are to say when the demands of morality and the demands of love conflict.
20. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 12 > Issue: 1
Roger Fjellström Love and Equal Value
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This essay offers a way to avoid a clash between reasons of love and reasons of ethics that stems from a difference in the conception of the moral value of people. In moralities of lovers, the loved ones are due to be accorded a value superior to that of other people, whereas in ethics there is an inescapable presumption that people have a value that is equal among them. The usual way to avoid this clash has been either to make room in the ethical arsenal for reasons relating to particular agents, agent-relative reasons, or to acknowledge that love-grounded reasons legitimately compete with ethical reasons and that we need a method of negotiating them. Both escapes have serious problems. The essay proposes a third way. The first step is to reshape the notion of ’love,’ in a direction where important characteristics of our common understanding are kept, notably the loved ones’ uniqueness and incomparability, while the characteristic that is problematic in the present context would be eliminated, namely the you-and-me character of love that gives rise to reasons that are wholly personal and partial. The second step is to show how such a reformed notion of love coheres with the assumption of equal value. And the third step is, through this connection, to change our understanding of love as reason-giving, from generating reason directly to generating reason indirectly. This involves a shift of focus from reason to meta-reason, viz. that which makes our system of, or competence for, normative reasons reasonable. The advantage of the proposed solution would not only be that clash between reasons of love and reasons of ethics is avoided, but also that ethical reasons are seen as underpinned by love, which moreover offers the best ultimate explanation of them.