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Displaying: 1-20 of 899 documents


1. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 45
Subrena E. Smith Purposes, Parts, and Persons
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In her (2004) Varieties of Meaning, Ruth Millikan makes the claim that “no interesting theoretical line can be drawn” between biological purposes and intentional purposes. I argue that, contrary to her view, there are some interesting lines to be drawn. It is plausible that both intentions and the neural mechanisms that lie behind them have proper functions, but this does not license the inference that intentions are purposeful only because of their proper biological function. I use the proximate/ultimate distinction to argue that agents’ intentions are proximately purposeful, while their neural substrates are ultimately purposeful, and therefore that the former are not reducible to the latter, even if one adopts Millikan’s account of derived proper functions.
2. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 45
Anna Hartford Complex Akrasia and Blameworthiness
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The idea that conscious control, or more specifically akratic wrongdoing, is a necessary condition for blameworthiness has durable appeal. This position has been explicitly championed by volitionist philosophers, and its tacit influence is broadly felt. Many responses have been offered to the akrasia requirement espoused by volitionists. These responses often take the form of counterexamples involving blameworthy ignorance: i.e., cases where an agent didn’t act akratically, but where they nevertheless seem blameworthy. These counterexamples have generally led to an impasse in the debate, with volitionists maintaining that the ignorant agents are blameless. In this paper, I explore a different sort of counterexample: I consider agents who have acted akratically, but whose very conscious awareness of their wrongdoing complicates their blameworthiness. I call these cases of “complex akrasia,” and I suggest that they are a familiar aspect of moral life. I interpret these cases as supporting non-volitionist accounts, and particularly Quality of Will accounts.
3. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 45
Micah Lott Eudaimonism, Egoism, and Responsibility for Oneself
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This paper considers the following claim: In order to live well, your first concern must be with yourself. I show how the truth in this claim can be captured by a eudaimonist framework. I distinguish two sorts of self-concern: (1) self-care and (2) self-responsibility. I examine each of these notions. I also consider different senses in which either sort of self-concern might be one’s first concern. I identify the place of each of these ideas in a properly developed eudaimonism. As part of my discussion, I respond to the egoism challenge to eudaimonism, and I outline a thoroughly non-egoistic form of eudaimonism.
4. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 45
Cameron Lutman Interactionist Moral Character and the Causal-Constitutive Fallacy
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Interactionism has emerged as a promising approach to moral character in the wake of the situationist challenge and the character-situation debate. This paper will consider whether interactionism is troubled by a familiar problem from the philosophy of mind: the coupling-constitution or causal-constitution fallacy (C-C fallacy). In relation to character, this issue pertains to whether the external factors featured in interactionist models are partly constitutive of the agent’s character, or whether they merely play a causal role. In contrast to some other interactionist theorists, I argue that interactionism doesn’t need to make distinctions regarding causation and constitution, and would be better off without attempting to do so. Making such claims would only add metaphysical baggage to interactionism that won’t aid in its goal of providing an empirically adequate moral psychology of character. Interactionists are thus better off evading the C-C fallacy challenge, rather than attempting to meet it head-on.
5. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 45
Charles K. Fink Acting with Good Intentions: Virtue Ethics and the Principle that Ought Implies Can
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In Morals from Motives (2001), Michael Slote proposed an agent-based approach to virtue ethics in which the morality of an action derives solely from the agent’s motives. Among the many objections that have been raised against Slote’s account, this article addresses two problems associated with the Kantian principle that ought implies can. These are the problems of “deficient” and “inferior” motivation. These problems arise because people cannot freely choose their motives. We cannot always choose to act from good motives; nor can we always avoid acting from bad ones. Given this, Slote’s account implies that we sometimes cannot do what we ought to do, contrary to Kant’s principle. In this article, I propose an alternative agent-based account which, I argue, circumvents these problems. While people cannot choose their motives, they can choose their intentions. By characterizing virtuous action, as I do, in terms of good intentions rather than in terms of good motives, the conflict between what people can do and what they ought to do is resolved.
6. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 45
Andrei Ionuţ Mărăşoiu Intellectual Virtues and Biased Understanding
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Biases affect much of our epistemic lives. Do they affect how we understand things? For Linda Zagzebski, we only understand something when we manifest intellectual virtues or skills. Relying on how widespread biases are, J. Adam Carter and Duncan Pritchard raise a skeptical objection to understanding so conceived. It runs as follows: most of us seem to understand many things. We genuinely understand only when we manifest intellectual virtues or skills, and are cognitively responsible for so doing. Yet much of what we seem to understand consists in conceptions whose formation could have easily been due to biases instead, and the work of biases is opaque to reflection. If conceptions constituting how we understand things could have easily been due to biases, then we are not cognitively responsible for them because we cannot reflectively appraise what we understand. So, we are mistaken in thinking we genuinely understand most of the time. I will defend the grounding of understanding in intellectual virtues and skills from Carter and Pritchard’s objection. We are cognitively responsible for understanding when we manifest our expertise. We can do so, I will argue, without being required to reflectively appraise what we understand.
7. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 45
Allan Hazlett Truthfulness without Truth
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It is natural to think that the badness of false belief explains the badness of lying. In this paper, I argue against this: I argue that the badness of false belief does not explain the badness of lying and that, given a popular account of the badness of lying, the badness of false belief is orthogonal to the badness of lying.
8. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 45
Saja Parvizian Al-Ghazālī and Descartes on Defeating Skepticism
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Commentators have noticed the striking similarities between the skep­tical arguments of al-Ghazālī’s Deliverance from Error and Descartes’ Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy. However, commentators agree that their solutions to skepticism are radically different. Al-Ghazālī does not use rational proofs to defeat skepticism; rather, he relies on a supernatural light [nūr] sent by God to rescue him from skepticism. Descartes, on the other hand, relies on the natural light of reason [lumen naturale] to prove the existence of God, mind, and body. In this paper, I argue that Descartes’ solution is closer to al-Ghazālī’s than commentators have allowed. A close reading of the cosmological argument of the Third Meditation reveals that there is also a type of divine intervention em­ployed in the Meditations, which helps Descartes defeat skepticism. This reading may buttress the case made by some that al-Ghazālī influenced Descartes; but more importantly, it requires us to rethink key features of Descartes’ epistemology.
9. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 45
Krasimira Filcheva Can There Be Ineffable Propositional Structures?
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Is it possible for there to be facts about reality with a logical structure that is in principle unrepresentable by us? I outline the main motivations for thinking that this question should receive a positive answer. I then argue that, upon inspection, the view that such structurally ineffable facts are possible is self-defeating and thus incoherent. My argument is based on considerations about the fundamental role that the purely formal concept of an object plays in our propositional representations and its intimate connection with subject-predicate structure.
10. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 45
Z. Zhou Two Conceptions of Omissions
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Conceptions of omissions standardly come in two flavours: omissions are construed either as mere absences of actions or are closely related to paradigmatic ‘positive’ actions. This paper shows how the semantics of the verb ‘to omit’ constitutes strong evidence against the view of omissions as involving actions. Specifically, by drawing from an influential fourfold typology of verbal predicates popularised by Zeno Vendler, I argue that declarative statements involving reference to omissions are semantically stative, which is a finding that makes serious trouble for the conception of omissions as being closely related to paradigmatic actions. But references to omissions, in certain linguistic contexts, undergo a shift of meaning to describe processes or activities engaged in by the agent. Still, despite the semantic flexibility of the verb ‘to omit’, its processive reading does not straightforwardly support the second conception of omissions. A subsidiary aim of this paper is to offer a sketch of the metaphysics of processive action in order to show what those who claim that omissions are closely related to actions might be committed to.
11. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 45
Eugene Mills Consciousness and Topology
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Most philosophers of the self would take what David Barnett calls ‘The Datum’—that “pairs of people themselves are incapable of experience”—to merit its name. Barnett argues abductively from The Datum to Simplicity, the view that conscious beings must be simple. The truth of Simplicity would upend almost all materialist accounts of what we are, so Barnett’s argument and attempted rebuttals of it merit scrutiny. Rory Madden charges Barnett with overlooking a rival, better explanation, deriving from Integrity: the thesis that our naïve conception of a conscious subject demands that conscious beings be topologically integrated. The content of this naïve conception is supposed to be superior to Simplicity in explaining The Datum. I argue here that Madden is mistaken: the requirement of topological integration cannot explain The Datum, and Barnett’s argument survives Madden’s challenge.
12. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 45
Kristján Kristjánsson Grounding Deep Friendships: Reconciling the Moralized and Aestheticized Views
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The aim of this paper is to offer an account of the grounding of deep friendships within the context of virtue ethics. While drawing on Aristotle’s justification of so-called character friendships, it goes some distance in reconciling Aristotle’s highly moralistic view with a prevalent counterview according to which we are drawn toward close friends for reasons that are essentially aesthetic, amoral, and irrational. It is argued that there are resources within Aristotelian virtue ethics (not exploited by Aristotle himself) that enable us to overcome some of the difficulties of his exclusively moralistic view and bring it into better harmony with common-sense conceptions; yet preserving the claim that vicious people cannot form truly deep friendships. The paper aims at an ‘individuality-adjusted moralized view’ of the grounding of deep friendships: a conciliatory view that yet remains closer to an amendment of the moralized view than to a middle-ground synthesis.
13. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 45
Andrew Kissel The Cartesian Doxastic Argument For Free Will
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This paper raises objections to what I call the Cartesian Doxastic Argument for free will: the argument that it is probably true that we are free on the grounds that there is already widespread intuitive belief in that claim. Richard Swinburne provides the best extant defense of the argument, using his principle of credulity (PoC), which holds that beliefs are probably true merely on the believer’s evidence that they believe it. I argue that the PoC is either too liberal, justifying intuitively unjustified beliefs, or else is inapplicable in practice. I then show that attempts to reformulate the principle to avoid liberality render it too weak to support the Cartesian Doxastic Argument. These failures suggest that any version of the argument that relies on similar principles is likely to fail.
14. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 45
Ahmet Süner An Interpretation of Sartre’s Phenomenology of the Image as a Phenomenology of the Sign
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Sartre’s phenomenology of the image in L’Imaginaire includes analytical distinctions between the mind’s comportments towards perceptual objects, images, and signs, which he refers to as different forms of consciousness. Sartre denies any possible convergence between imaging and sign consciousness, arguing that there are essential differences in the way they relate to the notions of resemblance, positionality, and affect. This essay argues against his phenomenological distinctions by stressing the continuity of imaging with sign consciousness: between images and words. In particular, it argues that his understanding of the sign as affectless is questionable and that there is no reason to believe that images and signs cannot elicit similar affects or perform the same functions. Consequently, it is possible to interpret Sartre’s physical images or “analoga” as pictorial signs: his phenomenological descriptions of physical images may indeed be recast in the language of the sign and reformulated as acts of consciousness that involve pictorial signs.
15. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 44
Weston Mudge Ellis, Justin McBrayer A Phenomenal Defense of Reflective Equilibrium
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The method of reflective equilibrium starts with a set of initial judgments about some subject matter and refines that set to arrive at an improved philosophical worldview. However, the method faces two, trenchant objections. The Garbage-In, Garbage-Out Objection argues that reflective equilibrium fails because it has no principled reason to rely on some inputs to the method rather than others and putting garbage-in assures you of getting garbage-out. The Circularity Objection argues that reflective equilibrium fails because it has no principled, non-circular way of sorting whatever is put into the method. The moves required to avoid both objections are instructive. Reflective equilibrium requires a meta-justification, and we offer one that appeals to the epistemic goods that underwrite a view known as phenomenal conservatism. Reflective equilibrium calls on us to start with what seems most likely to be true and to alter that collection of judgments in the ways that seem most likely to get us to the truth. Proceeding in this way is epistemically defensible and unavoidable. Hence, reflective equilibrium is not just good, it’s phenomenal.
16. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 44
Tracy Llanera Disavowing Hate: Group Egotism From Westboro to the Klan
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This article tracks how group egotists disavow their hate group identity. Group egotists are individuals born and raised in hate groups. The well-documented exit cases of Megan Phelps-Roper (Westboro Baptist Church) and Derek Black (White Nationalism) prove that hate group indoctrination can be undermined. A predominantly epistemic approach, which focuses on argument and conversational virtues, falls short in capturing the complexity of their apostasies. I turn to pragmatism for conceptual support. Using the work of Richard Rorty and William James, I explain how redemptive relationships and alternative lifeworlds participate in weakening belief-systems, leading to the disavowal of the hate group.
symposium on responsible belief: a theory in ethics and epistemology by rik peels
17. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 44
Stephen J. White Against Voluntarism about Doxastic Responsibility
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According to the view Rik Peels defends in Responsible Belief (2017), one is responsible for believing something only if that belief was the result of choices one made voluntarily, and for which one may be held responsible. Here, I argue against this voluntarist account of doxastic responsibility and in favor of the rationalist position that a person is responsible for her beliefs insofar as they are under the influence of her reason. In particular, I argue that the latter yields a more plausible account of the conditions under which ignorance may serve as an excuse for wrongdoing.
18. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 44
Rik Peels Responsible Belief, Influence, and Control: Response to Stephen White
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I reply to Stephen White’s criticisms of my Influence View. First, I reply to his worry that my Appraisal Account of responsibility cannot make sense of doxastic responsibility. Then, I discuss in detail his stolen painting case and argue that the Influence View can make sense of it. Next, I discuss various other cases that are meant to show that acting in accordance with one’s beliefs does not render one blameless. I argue that in these cases, even though the subjects act in accordance with their own beliefs, there is plenty of reason to think that at some previous point in time they violated certain intellectual obligations that led to them to hold those beliefs. Even on a radically subjective account of responsibility, then, we can perfectly well hold these people responsible for their beliefs. I go on to defend the idea that reasons-responsiveness will not do for doxastic responsibility: we need influence on our beliefs as well. Thus, doxastic compatibilism or rationalism is untenable. Subsequently, I defend my earlier claim that there is a crucial difference between beliefs and actions in that actions are often subject to the will, whereas beliefs are not. Finally, I respond to White’s worry that if one has a subjective epistemic obligation just because one believes that certain actions are epistemically bad, some people will have a wide range of absurd epistemic obligations, such as the obligation to listen to Infowars.
19. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 44
Sanford C. Goldberg Doxastic Responsibility is Owed to Others: Against Subjectivism
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In this paper I argue that Rik Peels’s account of doxastic responsibility (in his 2017 book Responsible Belief) is too subjectivist, as it fails to deliver the correct verdicts in some cases in which one’s responsibilities derive from a social role and where one has misleading higher-order evidence about the first-order evidence. The take-home point is that the notion of responsibility in doxastic responsibility is something that is owed to others.
20. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 44
Rik Peels The Social Dimension of Responsible Belief: Response to Sanford Goldberg
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Goldberg has argued in several writings of his that our social context is crucial in determining whether we believe responsibly or not. In this reply to his criticisms, I explore whether my Influence Account of responsible belief can do justice to this social dimension of responsible belief. I discuss the case of Nancy the scientist, that of Fernando the doctor, and that of Janice who promises Ismelda to shovel her lane. I argue that the core solution to the challenges these cases provide is to distinguish between different kinds of intellectual obligations, such as epistemic, moral, and professional obligations. My Influence Account leaves plenty of room to make these distinctions. Even though my account is not primarily meant as an account of epistemically justified belief but rather as an account of responsible belief, I also argue that it can accommodate our intuitions about various important cases of epistemically (un)justified belief.