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Displaying: 1-10 of 28 documents


presidential address
1. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 88
Daniel O. Dahlstrom, The Status of Dispositions
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This paper addresses puzzling issues concerning the ontological status of dispositions. Following review of debates about a traditional conditional analysis as well as Lewis’s “reformed conditional analysis” of dispositions, the paper analyzes attempts to solve the problem of what makes the relevant conditional true. Reasons are presented for rejecting attempts to locate the relevant truth-maker in a causal basis that allegedly dispenses with dispositions or in properties that are universally dispositional. In this way the paper argues that neither “eliminativism” nor “pandispositionalism” provides a successful account of dispositions’ ontological status, and that ontology must find a way to countenance the reality of both dispositional and non-dispositional properties.
presentation of the aquinas medal
2. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 88
John C. McCarthy, Introduction of John M. Rist, 2014 Aquinas Medal Recipient
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aquinas medalist’s address
3. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 88
John Rist, Philosophers and Sophists: Then and Now
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I attempt here to draw parallels between ancient and modern sophistry —and ancient and modern philosophy. Plato at one point identified a sophist as a paid hunter of rich young men who ‘lurks’ in non-being: that is, has no concern for truth. In more modern times Elizabeth Anscombe, when asked what her philosophical colleagues did, remarked (note the ironic Platonic echo) that they spend most of their time corrupting the youth. And the present situation in many liberal universities encourages them to do so—and in the humanities more generally, not only in philosophy. By the time a PhD candidate has completed his doctorate, joined a department and eventually got tenure, he will in many cases have become a practised sophist, equipped with what often amounts to a PhD in rationalizing, that is, in sophistry. I wonder whether we ought not to do something to change some of that.
plenary sessions
4. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 88
Susan Haack, Credulity and Circumspection: Epistemological Character and the Ethics of Belief
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The purpose of this paper is, first, to get clear about what credulity is, and why it’s an epistemological vice (§ 1); then, to explore the various forms this vice takes, including its perhaps surprising manifestation as a form of scientism (§ 2); next, to suggest why credulity poses dangers not only to individuals, but also to society at large—including, specifically, the legal system and the academy (§ 3); and, finally, to sketch some ways to curb credulity and foster circumspection in ourselves and others, especially our students (§ 4). In the process it will take up issues about the nature of belief, the determinants of the quality of evidence, synechism, science, scientism, testimony, expertise, and evidence-sharing as well as questions about the ethics of belief and the demands of education.
5. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 88
Timothy B. Noone, Habitual Intellectual Knowledge in Medieval Philosophy: A Complex Theme
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This lecture treats the theme of habitual cognition in both its commonplace and unusual senses in the tradition of ancient and medieval philosophy. Beginning with Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and its teaching on habits, it traces how the ancient and medieval Peripatetic tradition received and developed the idea of habitual knowledge. The lecture then turns to three case-studies in which the notion of habitual knowledge is used in unusual senses: Aquinas’s treatment of self-knowledge; Scotus’s account of human awareness of the concept of being; and Peter Auriol’s observations regarding memory and subconscious awareness in ordinary reptitive acts. Aquinas and Scotus seem to identify habitual knowledge in its unusual sense with the presence of an intelligible in the mind prior to actual cognition of that object. Auriol extends habitual knowledge to cover the cognitive state of someone performing an act without any conscious attention. The uses by both Aquinas and Scotus seem somewhat parallel to the use of habit or pre-conscious knowledge in Hume and Kant.
6. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 88
Marilyn McCord Adams, Scotus on the Metaphysics of Habits
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Aristotelian method accounts for essential functional regularities in terms of powers rooted in the substantial form of the functioning thing. Habits are posited to explain new and acquired functional regularities (such as the ability to speak Chinese or control one’s temper). Because Aquinas sees habits as rendering potentiae more determinate, he finds it natural to account for post-mortem supernatural functioning in terms of infused habits or qualities that build on nature with further determinations. By contrast, Scotus begins with the natural priority of receiving subjects over what they receive, and how what they determinately are fixes which habits would be formally compatible and which incompatible with it. This leads him to reject the “new infused habit or quality” account of the soul’s post-mortem ability to see God, the will’s capacity to love God above all, and the body’s supposed post-mortem impassibility, subtlety, and brightness.
session i: dispositions in contemporary metaphysics
7. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 88
Errin D. Clark, How Aristotelian is Contemporary Dispositionalist Metaphysics? A Tale of Two Distinctions
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Exciting and important work on the metaphysics of causal powers and dispositions is currently under way. Much of it has been branded as a return to Aristotelian metaphysics, as it seems to put agents and their actions back as ultimate principles of reality. Philosophers involved in this work often speak of a ‘categorical—dispositional’ distinction. And sometimes it is suggested that the distinction is, or is similar to, Aristotle’s distinction between act and potency. The aim of this paper is to assess the legitimacy of that suggestion by explicating both distinctions. I argue that in many recent ‘neo-Aristotelian’ accounts of dispositions a certain idea that lies at the heart of Aristotle’s metaphysics of act and potency is largely absent. This situation is unfortunate, for Aristotle’s idea suggests a surprising relationship between being and power and it flips a certain assumption, still made by many metaphysicians, on its head.
8. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 88
Travis Dumsday, Dispositionalism, Categoricalism, and Metaphysical Naturalism
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In contemporary analytic metaphysics there are five theories concerning the reality (or unreality) of dispositional and categorical properties and their relationship: mixed view dispositionalism (also the dominant view in Scholastic philosophy of nature), pan-dispositionalism, categoricalism, identity theory, and neutral monism. Here I outline briefly a novel argument against metaphysical naturalism, one based on the idea that none of these five theories is compatible with it.
session ii: habits in illuminative cognition
9. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 88
Andrew Jacob Cuff, Man’s “Very Special Habit” and God’s Agency in the Illumination Epistemology and Volition Theory of Bonaventure and Aquinas
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It is commonly taken for granted that Thomas Aquinas employed Aristotelian principles in his philosophical system to promote a “program” of Christianizing the Stagyrite. However, the question of why Thomas used Aristotle on a particular point can help uncover the goals of his scholastic project. The case of divine illumination theory is especially enlightening in this regard. From the zenith of Augustinian illumination epistemology as expressed in Bonaventure to its disappearance in Scotus, the influence of Aristotle’s notion of active intellect can be clearly traced throughout the thirteenth century. Thomas is especially important in this chronology, because he “internalizes” Bonaventure’s illumination theory and encapsulates it in man’s innate power of abstraction. In determining his motivation for doing so, this study explores the connection between epistemology and volition in both Bonaventure and Thomas, and postulates that Thomas adopted Aristotelian principles to safeguard a doctrine of free will in his volition theory.
10. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 88
Samuel A. Pomeroy, Accommodating Avicenna, Appropriating Augustine: Assessing the Sources for Thomas Aquinas’s Doctrine of Prophecy
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In this paper I argue that Aquinas’s doctrine of prophecy develops from the early period (De uer. q. 12, a. 1, prophecy is a habit) to his more mature articulation (ST IIa-IIae q. 171, a. 2, prophecy is not a habit) as a result of his complex handling of the metaphysical thought of Avicenna. Aquinas subtly distances himself from the implication of Avicenna’s emanationist framework for prophecy, namely that prophetic knowledge is acquired through perfected natural intellectual habit. Yet at the same time he accommodates this aspect insofar as it aligns with Augustine’s biblical neo-Platonism. He does so, as I shall demonstrate, with Augustine’s notion of prayer (orandi) as a kind of inquiry (disputatio) that disposes the soul to aptly receive the prophetic light by the extension of divine grace. In this, Aquinas incorporates Avicenna’s notion of prophetic habit without committing to the emanationist model from which it arises.