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Displaying: 1-20 of 21 documents


1. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Greg Janzen Consciousness and the Nonexistence of God
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According to the Judeo-Christian-Islamic theological tradition, or “classical theism,” disembodiment (or non-physicality) and psychologicality are two of God’s necessary or essential attributes. This paper mounts a case for the thesis that these attributes are incompatible. More exactly, it provides compelling evidentiary support for the claim that, given the basic structure of consciousness, it is impossible for a psychological being to be disembodied (and vice versa). But if it is impossible for a psychological being to be disembodied (and vice versa), then, since psychologicality and disembodiment are both essential to God under classical theism, the God of classical theism does not—and cannot—exist.
2. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Alonso Villarán Overcoming the Problem of Impossibility in Kant's Idea of the Highest Good
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The goal of this article is to defend Kant’s idea of the highest good as part of his ethics, particularly in relation to the alleged problem of impossibility, according to which it would be impossible to promote it, due to the obscurity of moral intentions and of the relative nature of happiness. As a preliminary step, a singular definition of the highest good is unfolded, one that sees the highest good as a moral world where virtue will be rewarded with happiness, which is a duty and an object of hope, individually and collectively. Regarding the defense itself, a distinction is made between fallible and infallible duties, and a soft interpretation of the “ought implies can” principle (as developed by Stern) is used. The article also points out what is yet required for an overarching defense of the highest good, namely, a response to the other problems at stake, which are here labeled as those of heteronomy (the highest good undermines the principle of autonomy, since it as an object includes happiness), deduction (the highest good is not contained and does not follow from the moral law), and irrelevance (the highest good is irrelevant for ethics).
3. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Reshef Agam-Segal A Splitting “Mind-Ache”: Challenge to Kantian Self-Legislation
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I problematize the notion of self-legislation. I follow in Elizabeth Anscombe’s footsteps and suggest that on a plausible reading of Kant, he does not so much misidentify the sources of moral normativity, as fail to identify any such sources in the first place: The set of terms with which the Kantian is attempting to do so is confused. Interpreters today take Kant’s legal language to be merely metaphorical. The language of ‘self-legislation,’ in particular, is replaced by such interpreters with a language of ‘self-constitution.’ I challenge that, and claim that the language of legislation and judgment was, for Kant, more than a metaphor: The recognition of the moral law, he says, motivates us as if it were “the bidding of another person.” Legislation is typically remote in this way. It typically requires a distance between lawgiver and law-receiver—a distance that allows, for instance, for self-inspection and judgment. For Kant, these are the terms in which to explain the forms of the moral judgment and the sources of moral normativity. It is questionable, however, whether we can be remote from our own actions in the way required—whether we can observe our own actions. We cannot, for example, raise our hand and wonder how far it will go up. I develop this claim into an Anscombean challenge to Kant, and I call upon Kantians to take it seriously.
4. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Jay Newhard Four Objections to Alethic Functionalism
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Alethic functionalism is a sophisticated version of alethic pluralism according to which truth per se is a functional property supervening on lower level truth properties. After presenting alethic functionalism, I discuss four objections to it. I raise a new objection to alethic functionalism that if Objectivity, Norm of Belief, and End of Inquiry are the three truisms, correspondence is necessary and sufficient to satisfy the truisms, so that alethic functionalism capitulates to a correspondence theory of truth. Second, I present a new argument that on alethic functionalism, truth per se is explanatorily epiphenomenal. Third, examining the case of mixed compound propositions shows that the principle which alethic functionalism adopts for determining which lower level truth property is required for a mixed compound proposition to be true has counterintuitive results and is arbitrary. Finally, I argue that alethic functionalism is unable to account for the intuition that a true truth attribution is true because of the proposition(s) to which truth is attributed.
5. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Michael R. Miller Descartes on Animals Revisited
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It has long been maintained that Descartes believed animals are nothing more than complex living machines. Throughout the centuries many have criticized Descartes for holding such a doctrine, for it has been used by others to justify a total disregard for the well-being of animals. However, a trend in Cartesian scholarship suggests that Descartes’s reputation for justifying cruelty to animals is undeserved because Descartes apparently lacked confidence in the truth of his own doctrine. This paper reviews the arguments calling for a revision of the standard interpretation, examines Descartes’s statements about animal intelligence and consciousness, considers his treatment of animals, and reaffirms the standard interpretation.
6. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Daesuk Han Wittgenstein on Russell’s Theory of Logical Types
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Wittgenstein criticizes Russell’s theory of logical types for involving the idea that our language must be anchored in extra-linguistic entities so that it makes a meaningful combination of signs. Calling it the “fallacy of meaning,” Wittgenstein self-consciously remains within the realm of signs. This issue of meaning vs. sign, however, has not been understood correctly, partly because of being viewed through the distorting lens of Russell. Siding with Wittgenstein, I will argue that our language does not go wrong because of our “transgressing the (pre-established) rules of logical syntax.” It is rather because we just happen not to use a sign in accordance with the logico-grammatical rules we arbitrarily stipulate about it. The rules of logical syntax do not, as it were, flow from some extra-linguistic entities, or anything of that nature. “The rules of logical syntax must follow of themselves, if we only know how every single sign signifies.” In general, our language is accountable to nothing but itself in order for it to make the sense that it does. When it comes to logical syntax, our language is autonomous.
7. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Wayne A. Davis Grice’s Razor and Epistemic Invariantism
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Grice’s Razor is a methodological principle that many philosophers and linguists have used to help justify pragmatic explanations of linguistic phenomena over semantic explanations. A number of authors in the debate over contextualism argue that an invariant semantics together with Grice’s (1975) conversational principles can account for the contextual variability of knowledge claims. I show here that the defense of Grice’s Razor found in these “Gricean invariantists,” and its use against epistemic contextualism, display all the problems pointed out earlier in Davis (1998). The everyday variation in acceptable knowledge claims is better explained in terms of implicature than indexicality, but general conversational principles shed little light on whether ‘know’ is used hyperbolically, meiotically, or loosely in a context, although this issue is crucial in deciding what if anything ‘S knows p’ implicates. I present reasons favoring an account of the representative bank case in terms of loose use, making clear how they differ from Grice’s Razor.
8. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Mark McBride Zalabardo on Easy Knowledge
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Stewart Cohen (2002; 2005) considers a case where his son wants a red table for his room. Cohen and his son go to the furniture store. Cohen’s son is concerned that the table his father is considering purchasing, which appears red, may in fact be white with red lights shining on it. Cohen responds with the following reasoning:(WARRANT FOR 1) The table looks red.(EK) (1) The table is red.(2) If the table is red, then it is not white with red lights shining on it.(3) The table is not white with red lights shining on it.If one reasons thus, say one’s engaged in EK-reasoning. Cohen finds such a response unsatisfactory. It is not a way of coming to know (3)—it is too easy. And structurally similar reasoning delivers (knowledge of) the falsity of sceptical hypotheses concerning the external world, testimony, other minds etc. So the unsatisfactoriness threatens to generalise. I sketch (one strand of) José Zalabardo’s (2005) original and heterodox attempt to diagnose this unsatisfactoriness, and explore its upshots.
9. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Sanford Levy A Contractualist Defense of Rule Consequentialism
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In this paper, I provide a defense of rule consequentialism that does not appeal to the “guiding teleological idea” according to which the final ground of moral assessment must lie in effects on well-being. My defense also avoids appeals to intuition. It is a contractualist defense. Many forms of contractualism can, with only minor tweaking, be used to defend rule consequentialism. In this paper I show how one specific form of contractualism does the job. This argument is inspired by a version of contractualism briefly discussed by Tim Mulgan and by his claim that it converges with rule consequentialism, given certain restrictions. I show that Mulgan’s own argument for convergence is seriously flawed, but that a variation on his contractualism does converge with rule consequentialism, and it does it without Mulgan’s own restrictions. Though Mulgan himself does not treat convergence as an argument for rule consequentialism—his own argument is heavily intuitionistic—I claim that convergence provides significant support for rule consequentialism.
10. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Chris Bessemans A Short Introduction to Aurel Kolnai’s Moral Philosophy
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Aurel Kolnai, born in Hungary and mainly influenced by realist phenomenology, completed his dissertation in Vienna in 1926. After fleeing throughout Europe and living in the United States and Canada for some years, he eventually left for the United Kingdom. While Kolnai’s early philosophical work (and his dissertation) mainly concentrated on ethics, he dedicated most of his time and work during the 30s and 40s to political-philosophical writings. But once in England, Kolnai became interested in the British moralists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and, in general, in ethics again. His exile-existence meant that Kolnai would remain relatively unknown, although he developed a somewhat eclectic moral philosophy and held political-philosophical views that certainly made him into a distinguished philosopher. This paper offers a short introduction to Kolnai’s main ethical views and shows the relevance of Kolnai’s views to certain contemporary controversies in ethics.
11. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Mark Alfano Identifying and Defending the Hard Core of Virtue Ethics
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Virtue ethics has been challenged on empirical grounds by philosophical interpreters of situationist social psychology. Challenges are necessarily challenges to something or other, so it’s only possible to understand the situationist challenge to virtue ethics if we have an antecedent grasp on virtue ethics itself. To this end, I first identify the non-negotiable “hard core” of virtue ethics with the conjunction of nine claims, arguing that virtue ethics does make substantive empirical assumptions about human conduct. Next, I rearticulate the situationist challenge in light of these nine claims. I then turn to a discussion of specifications of several responses typically made by defenders of virtue ethics against the situationist challenge, arguing that most of them either are unsound or give up one of the elements in the hard core. A few, however, survive this criticism, and so I conclude by suggesting ways in which the situationist challenge might be not so much resisted as co-opted. Situational influences can be used to help people simulate virtue, a phenomenon I call factitious virtue.
12. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Xunwu Chen Happiness and Authenticity: Confucianism and Heidegger
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Engaging in present debates on happiness, this essay shows that a good, happy life and an authentic life entail one another. Doing so, the essay first explores the Confucian approach to the relationships between happiness and authenticity, and between authenticity and value. It then presents the Heideggeran approach. Therefore, it demonstrates how authenticity, happiness, and value are inseparable in a person’s being; the so called fact-value dichotomy, even if it is applicable to non-human beings, has no magic touch in human existence.
13. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Christopher Gilbert Descartes, Passion, and the Ability to Do Otherwise
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What does Descartes regard as necessary for human freedom? I approach this topic from a distinctive angle by focusing on the role of the passions in Descartes’s account of free will. My goal is to show that (1) Descartes takes us to have the ability to do otherwise when we judge or choose under the influence of the passions, and that (2) while such ability does not constitute freedom in the fullest Cartesian sense, it does ensure that the judgments and choices we make in response to passions are neither compelled nor unfree, but under our control.
14. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Robert Mabrito Welfare and Paradox
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The basic idea of a desire theory of welfare is that how good a life is for the person who lives it is a matter of how many of that person’s desires are satisfied. The more satisfied desires the better the life. That it is possible for a person to desire that his or her life go badly is thought to pose problems for such a view. Indeed, some have recently argued that the possibility of such desires entails that a desire theory of welfare leads to paradox. In this paper, I present this purported paradox for the desire theory of welfare, offer a new solution to it, and defend it from objections that have been made to other responses.
15. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
James McGray Silent Reading and Conceptual Confusion: A Wittgensteinian Approach
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Silent reading is markedly different from loud reading. For loud reading it is necessary that the spoken words match the printed or written words in accord with rules of pronunciation and grammar. Ordinarily, a loud reader can repeat or describe what he has read, but the acquisition of this ability is not necessary for loud reading. However, for silent reading it is necessary that the reader can repeat or describe the printed or written words that he has read. Inner voicing may be part of the experience of silent reading, but it isn’t necessary.
16. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Matt Stichter Virtues as Skills in Virtue Epistemology
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One approach to understanding moral virtues is to compare them with practical skills, since both involve learning how to act well. This paper inquires whether this approach can be extended to intellectual virtues. The relevance of the analogy between virtues and skills for virtue epistemology can be seen in two prominent discussions of intellectual virtues and skills. Linda Zagzebski has argued that intellectual virtues can be modeled on moral virtues, and that a key component of virtue being understood as a “success” term is that virtues are associated with skills. However, she explicitly rejects the stronger claim that virtues can be understood as skills. Julia Annas defends the idea that virtues are skills, and she uses this conception of virtue to argue that Zagzebski’s project fails because of a key difference between the two types of virtue. This paper argues that a skill model of virtue can support modeling intellectual virtues on ethical virtues, contrary to the claims made by Zagzebski and Annas. There are a variety of misconceptions about skills that have led to errors in both of their discussions. The Dreyfus account of skill acquisition and current psychological research on expertise will help to correct these errors.
17. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Michael Hannon 'Knows’ Entails Truth
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It is almost universally presumed that knowledge is factive: in order to know that p it must be the case that p is true. This idea is often justified by appealing to knowledge ascriptions and related linguistic phenomena; i.e., an utterance of the form ‘S knows that p, but not-p’ sounds contradictory. In a recent article, Allan Hazlett argues that our ordinary concept of knowledge is not factive. From this it seems to follow that epistemologists cannot appeal to ordinary language to justify the truth condition of knowledge. More significantly, Hazlett claims that epistemologists theorizing about knowledge should not concern themselves with the ordinary concept of knowledge as revealed by knowledge ascriptions and related linguistic phenomena. My paper has two goals: first, to defend the orthodox view that the ordinary concept of knowledge is factive; second, to undermine Hazlett’s claim that epistemologists should not theorize about knowledge on the basis of how ‘knows’ is used in everyday speech.
18. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Zoltán Vecsey Perspectival Indexicality in Fiction
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In everyday language use, the content of an indexical sentence is determined by the parameters of the context in which it occurs. In fictional discourse, however, indexical sentences seem to behave in a nonstandard way. This paper attempts to show that the difference can be best explained by using the concept of fictional perspective.
19. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Dan Demetriou There’s Some Fetish in Your Ethics: A Limited Defense of Purity Reasoning in Moral Discourse
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Call the ethos understanding rightness in terms of spiritual purity and piety, and wrongness in terms of corruption and sacrilege, the “fetish ethic.” Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues suggest that this ethos is particularly salient to political conservatives and non-liberal cultures around the globe. In this essay, I point to numerous examples of moral fetishism in mainstream academic ethics. Once we see how deeply “infected” our ethical reasoning is by fetishistic intuitions, we can respond by (1) repudiating the fetishistic impulse, by (2) “sublimating” our fetishism into liberal rationales, or by (3) accepting the fetishism on its own terms. Of these options, I argue that sublimating our fetishism is not advisable, and that embracing our ethical fetishism isn’t as obviously misguided as some suggest.
20. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 38
Joseph A. Baltimore Type Physicalism and Causal Exclusion
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While concerns of the mental being causally excluded by the physical have persistently plagued non-reductive physicalism, reductive type physicalism is standardly taken to be immune to such concerns. Type physicalists have the obvious advantage of being able to countenance the reduction of mental properties to their physical base properties by way of type identity, thereby avoiding any causal competition between instances of mental properties and their physical bases. Here, I challenge this widely accepted advantage of type physicalism over non-reductive physicalism in avoiding the causal exclusion of the mental. In particular, I focus on Jaegwon Kim’s influential version of the causal exclusion argument, namely, his supervenience argument. I argue that type physicalism’s advantage is undermined by the following two things: (1) the generalizability of the supervenience argument, and (2) type physicalism’s incompatibility with mental properties at the fundamental level. This involves evaluating the generalization objection to the supervenience argument, probing the metaphysics of physicalism, and showing how (1) and (2) combine in a way that appears underappreciated given the general confidence in type physicalism’s advantage.