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editor’s introduction
1. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Donald C. Abel Consciousness: Introduction
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2. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Keith E. Turausky Wherever You Go, There You Are: On Individuative Subjective Phenomenology
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That experience requires a subject is all but uncontroversial. It is surprising, then, that contemporary philosophers of mind generally focus on experiences at the expense of subjects. Herein, I argue that beyond the qualitative character (or “what-it’s-like-ness”) of phenomenology, there is a discrete further fact—the subjective character (or “for-me-ness”) of phenomenology—that calls out for explanation. Similar views have recently been endorsed by both Zahavi and Kriegel, but a comparison of the ways they have framed the issue suggests there are two discrete questions afoot: (1) in virtue of what does subjective phenomenology exist whatsoever, and (2) in virtue of what might one’s subjective phenomenology differ from that of one’s perfect duplicate? The second question—that of individuative subjective phenomenology—is my primary concern, and its answer seems to me to require the invocation of haecceities: non-qualitative, non-duplicable properties that uniquely individuate objects (and, in this case, subjects). In other words, I suggest that the property of being the very subject that one is enters essentially into the phenomenological character of all one’s experiences.
3. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
John K. Grandy The Neurogenetic Substructures of Human Consciousness
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There are many interpretations of what consciousness is. In the past decade materialist and reductionist theories have gained in popularity as many neurological correlates of consciousness have been identified experimentally. This article presents a neurogenetic account of the underpinnings of neuron-based consciousness. In this paradigm, human consciousness is supported by genes that are involved in three distinct neurogenetic phases: 1) the emergence of neuron-based consciousness, 2) the continuum of neuron-based consciousness, and 3) the neurodegeneration of human consciousness. The methodology implemented to establish these three neurogenetic phases was a systematic search and evaluation of genes that have been proven to support an active role in one or more of these three phases. This article demonstrates that there is a substructure of gene-based correlates that functions in the three neurogenetic phases. These phases work in tandem with the conscious experience. Consequently, it is established that explanations of human consciousness that rely solely on regions of the brain and neurons are deficient without taking into consideration the neurogenetic element of human consciousness. This presentation of the neurogenetic dimensions of human consciousness is the first of its kind.
4. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Adam Green Mapping Others: Representation and Mindreading
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Thinking about the representational qualities of maps and models allows one to offer a new perspective on the nature of mindreading. The recent critiques of our dominant paradigms for mindreading, theory theory and simulation theory, by enactivists such as Daniel Hutto reveal a flaw in the standard options for thinking about how we think about others. Views that rely on theorizing or simulation to account for the way in which we understand others often appear to over-intellectualize social interaction. In contrast, enactivists champion embodied, non-representational forms of engagement with others. I claim that one can improve on representational views of social cognition by moving away from talk of the mental manipulation of propositions in favor of the construction of maps and models of others. Furthermore, I claim that the current state of social neurobiology lends itself to such a view.
5. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Ben Gibran Causal Realism in the Philosophy of Mind
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Causal realism is the view that causation is a structural feature of reality, a power inherent in the world to produce effects independently of the existence of minds or observers. This article suggests that certain problems in the philosophy of mind are artefacts of causal realism because they presuppose the existence or possibility of a real causal nexus between the ‘physical’ and the ‘mental’. These dilemmas include (but are not necessarily limited to) the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness and the problems of free will and mental causality. Since the ostensible causal nexus cannot be directly perceived, it is sublimated into obscure and elusive phenomena along the purported mental causal chain. The antithesis of causal realism, and the proposed solution to the problems above, is causal anti-realism: the view that causation is not a fundamental property of the world, but of how observers purposively interpret ‘the world’. Causal anti-realism is compatible with causal pragmatism, which allows for the practical use of causal terms. Causal anti-realism denies the possibility of ontological reduction and is therefore incompatible with materialism and with materialist assumptions about the atom. The article concludes that causal anti-realism is at least prima facie reconcilable with idealism.
book reviews
6. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Raja Halwani Review of Love’s Vision, by Troy Jollimore
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7. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Jacquelyn Ann K. Kegley Review of Time, Will, and Purpose: Living Ideas from the Philosophy of Josiah Royce, by Randall E. Auxier
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8. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Steven Ross Review of What Happened in and to Moral Philosophy in the Twentieth Century? Philosophical Essays in Honor of Alasdair MacIntyre, ed. Fran O’Rourke
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9. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Gary Santillanes Review of Dutiful Correspondent: Philosophical Essays on Thomas Jefferson, by M. Andrew Holowchak, Lanham
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10. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Maximiliano E. Korstanje Review of Human Rights: An Interdisciplinary Approach, by Michael Freeman
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11. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Maximiliano E. Korstanje Review of Navigating Terrain of War: Youth and Soldiering in Guinea-Bissau, by Henrik Vigh
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12. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
James McBain Review of Truly Human Enhancement: A Philosophical Defense of Limits, by Nicholas Agar
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editor’s introduction
13. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Jack Russell Weinstein Public Philosophy: Introduction
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essays: what is public philosophy
14. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Jeremy Barris The Nature and Possibility of Public Philosophy
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The article argues that there is a central problem with the concept of public philosophy, in that philosophy is partly defined by questioning reflection on its own sense, while public or popular culture characteristically relies unreflectively on its ultimate givens, and these are mutually exclusive modes of thought. The article proposes, however, that because of philosophy’s reflection on and potential questioning of its own sense it has a paradoxical structure of foundational and comprehensive conflict with itself and its own procedure, and that this self-divergence allows a genuinely philosophical role for public philosophy. In the public context, acknowledged failure to understand beyond a certain point makes room for a limitation of sense that incompletely but effectively substitutes for the properly philosophical explicit and questioning reflection on the nature of sense as such and on the possibility that even what we do understand about the relevant issues fails to have sense.
15. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
John Huss Popular Culture and Philosophy: Rules of Engagement
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The exploration of popular culture topics by academic philosophers for non-academic audiences has given rise to a distinctive genre of philosophical writing. Edited volumes with titles such as Black Sabbath and Philosophy or Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy contain chapters by multiple philosophical authors that attempt to bring philosophy to popular audiences. Two dominant models have emerged in the genre. On the pedagogical model, authors use popular culture examples to teach the reader philosophy. The end is to promote philosophical literacy, defined as acquaintance with the key problems, ideas, and figures in the history of philosophy. In contrast, on the applied philosophy model, authors use philosophy to open up new dimensions of the popular culture topic for fans. The end is to illustrate the value of philosophy in understanding the popular culture topic, and ultimately, to demonstrate the value of philosophy in general. Taking stock of the relative strengths and weaknesses of these two models provides an opportunity to reflect more broadly on whether, why, and how philosophers should engage the public.
16. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Jack Russell Weinstein What Does Public Philosophy Do?: (Hint: It Does Not Make Better Citizens)
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In this article, I examine the purpose of public philosophy, challenging the claim that its goal is to create better citizens. I define public philosophy narrowly as the act of professional philosophers engaging with nonprofessionals, in a non-academic setting, with the specific aim of exploring issues philosophically. The paper is divided into three sections. The first contrasts professional and public philosophy with special attention to the assessment mechanism in each. The second examines the relationship between public philosophy and citizenship, calling into question the effect public philosophy has on political reasoning. The third focuses on the practice of public philosophy, describing actual events to investigate the nature and limits of their outcomes. I conclude that public philosophy aims at future philosophical inquiry but is best considered a form of entertainment.
essays: public philosophy and the profession of philosophy
17. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Christopher Meyers Public Philosophy and Tenure/Promotion: Rethinking “Teaching, Scholarship and Service”
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One of the responses to the attacks upon the contemporary university, particularly upon the humanities, has been to encourage faculty to engage in so-called ‘public intellectualism.’ In this paper I urge (some) philosophers to embrace this turn, but only if the academy can effectively address how to credit such work in the tenure and promotion process. Currently, public philosophy is typically placed under ‘service’, even though the work is often more intellectually and philosophically rigorous than committee work, even sometimes more than publications. I address this problem by providing an analysis of what is academically valuable about good scholarship and then showing how much of public philosophy achieves those goods. From this I argue that the academy should abandon the traditional categories of teaching/research/service and replace them with a holistic and qualitative single category of “teacher-scholar.” I then recommend that evaluation criteria should be very inclusive, giving credit to the wide range of activities in which faculty participate and I provide some suggestions for how those criteria should read.
18. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
William Irwin Writing for the Reader: A Defense of Philosophy and Popular Culture Books
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There are some risks in producing public philosophy. We don’t want to misrepresent the work of philosophy or mislead readers into thinking they have learned all they need to know from a single, short book or article. The potential benefits, though, outweigh the risks. Public philosophy can disseminate important ideas and enhance appreciation for the difficult and complex work of philosophers. Popular writing is often less precise, lacking in fine detail and elaboration, but it can still be accurate (in the sense of being “on target”). People often need a simplified account to get an initial understanding. Whatever one thinks of the role of jargon in scholarly writing, its place should be minimal in popular writing. If physicists can write books of popular science with virtually no equations, philosophers can write books for a general audience with limited jargon.
19. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Massimo Pigliucci, Leonard Finkelman The Value of Public Philosophy to Philosophers
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Philosophy has been a public endeavor since its origins in ancient Greece, India, and China. However, recent years have seen the development of a new type of public philosophy conducted by both academics and nonprofessionals. The new public philosophy manifests itself in a range of modalities, from the publication of magazines and books for the general public to a variety of initiatives that exploit the power and flexibility of social networks and new media. In this paper we examine the phenomenon of public philosophy in its several facets, and investigate whether and in what sense it is itself a mix of philosophical practice and teaching. We conclude with a number of suggestions to academic colleagues on why and how to foster further growth of public philosophy for the benefit of society at large and of the discipline itself.
20. Essays in Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1
Greg Littmann Writing Philosophy for the Public is a Moral Obligation
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Writing philosophy to be read by people who are not professional philosophers ought to be central to the work of professional philosophers. Writing for the public should be central to their work because their professional end is to produce ideas for use by people who are not professional philosophers. Philosophy is unlike most disciplines in that the ideas produced by professional philosophers generally have to be understood by a person before they can be of any use to them. As a tool for delivering philosophical ideas to the public, writing philosophical works is invaluable. The need to write philosophy directly for the public should be clear regardless of one’s conception of the value of philosophy, since writing directly for the public is in the spirit of all the most popular modern philosophical movements.