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1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 3
Jamie Dreier Two Models of Agent-Centered Value
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The consequentializing project relies on agentcentered value (aka agent-relative value), but many philosophers find the idea incomprehensible or incoherent. Discussions of agent-centered value often model it with a theory that assigns distinct better-than rankings of states of affairs to each agent, rather than assigning a single ranking common to all. A less popular kind of model uses a single ranking, but takes the value-bearing objects to be properties (sets of centered worlds) rather than states of affairs (sets of worlds). There are rhetorical, presentational differences between these kinds of models, but are there also structural differences? Do the two kinds of models differ in their capacity to represent normative theories? Despite an initial appearance of equivalence, the two kinds of models are different. The single ranking of properties has greater representational power; its representations contain more information. The main question I address in this article is whether this extra information is useful, in the sense that it distinguishes between normative views that we think are really different, or whether it is just junk information.
2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 3
Dionysis Christias Are Persons Human Beings?
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In this article, I suggest that reflection on a broadly Aristotelian-cum-Hegelian conception about the determination of the conditions of identity and individuation of objects and properties shows that it entails (what Brandom calls) the Kant–Sellars thesis about modality and identity, one consequence of which is that persons are not identical to human beings. This view is in conflict with the Aristotelian liberal naturalist view to the effect that to be a person is identical to being an individual of a specific animal kind—namely, homo sapiens—characterized by a specific and unique ‘form of life’ (and natural history) which differentiates it from all other animal kinds. I conclude that this novel and unorthodox liberal naturalist view about personhood constitutes an interesting and viable liberal naturalist alternative to more ‘orthodox’ liberal naturalist neo-Aristotelian views like Thompson’s, as it can better accommodate certain counterfactual ‘person-human being decoupling’ scenarios in our modern conception of ourselves-in-the-world.
3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 3
Andrew Beards The Irreducibility of the Good: G. E. Moore and Bernard Lonergan
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For both G. E. Moore and Bernard Lonergan, the question of the good provides a fundamental heuristic indicating its irreducible and thus transcending nature. In Lonergan’s later work, the focus is primarily on the good as manifest in intentional responses to values. But the fundamental metaphysics of the good is never absent from this perspective, and it re-appears explicitly in some later writing. Moore’s anti-reductionist metaethics played a central role in the debates to follow in analytical philosophy in the decades after the appearance of Principia Ethica. In this article, I explore possible convergences between these two avenues of speculation, which in their way both witness to the abiding significance of the scholastic notion of the good as a transcendental. It is argued that the wider purview offered by Lonergan’s analysis of the good, sought in questions as implying metaphysical and theological dimensions, assists in rendering cogent the objectives to which Moore’s question of the good points.
4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 3
Andrzej Słowikowski The Word Became an Individual: The Hermeneutic of Upbuilding as a Method of Christian Anthropology in the Religious Discourses of Kierkegaard
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This article is an attempt to both reconstruct and sort out the hermeneutics of upbuilding emerging from Kierkegaard’s discourses. This hermeneutics turns out to be a method of transferring the Christian ideal from the level of idea to the level of life within the larger Christian anthropological project that Kierkegaard’s discourses constitute. What is shown herein is that this general hermeneutics of upbuilding consists of three dialectical movements defining, respectively, the relation between: the discourse and the reader (the hermeneutic of spiritual life), Scripture and the reader (the hermeneutic of content internalization) and the reader and the temporal world (the hermeneutic of repetition). At the center of Kierkegaard’s Christian anthropological project is the relation between Scripture and the reader, a relation to whose description three hermeneutic levels (presentation—understanding—appropriation) are introduced here. These levels are in line both with three movements of the upbuilding process (the terrifying—consolation—upbuilding), which one can identify on the basis of a reading of the discourses, and with three conditions that are, in the opinion of the Danish philosopher, required in order “to look at oneself with true blessing in the mirror of the word.”
5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 3
Adam Harmer The Role of Plurality in Leibniz’s Argument from Unity
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I argue that Leibniz’s well-known Argument from Unity is equally an argument from plurality. I detail two main claims about plurality that drive the argument, and I provide evidence that they structure Leibniz’s argument from the late 1670s onwards. First, there is what I call Mereological Nihilism (i.e., the claim that a plurality cannot be made into a true unity by any available means). Second, there is what I call the Plurality Thesis (i.e., the claim that matter is a plurality in need of unity in the first place). I suggest that the Plurality Thesis offers a general analysis of materiality that, in some sense, is the most important aspect of Leibniz’s argument. Finally, I connect these claims about plurality to the common seventeenth and eighteenth-century commitment known as the actual parts doctrine.
discussion
6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 3
Víctor M. Verdejo Rip Van Winkle and the Retention of ‘Today’-Belief: A Puzzle
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Can a subject who expresses a belief with ‘today’ on a given day, and subsequently loses track of time, retain and re-express that belief on a future, potentially distant day? Since Kaplan’s tentative remarks on Rip Van Winkle, it has become popular to answer this question in the positive. However, a remarkably simple variation of the Rip Van Winkle story can show that this kind of view leads to a puzzling dilemma: either subjects cannot re-express a belief with utterances of ‘today’ on the same day, or else they may rationally exhibit conflicting stances toward the same ‘today’-belief. This result may be seen as supporting the claim that retention of ‘today’-belief over time requires the tracking of days. Yet it may also spur further research into the capacities involved in belief retention and re-expression to solve the puzzle.
7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Chad Flanders, Scott Berman Introduction
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2019 res philosophica essay prize
8. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Jessica Flanigan, Christopher Freiman Drug War Reparations
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Public officials should compensate the victims of wrongful conviction and enforcement. The same considerations in favor of compensating people for wrongful conviction and enforcement in other cases support officials’ payment of reparations to the victims of unjust enforcement practices related to the drug war. First, we defend the claim that people who are convicted and incarcerated because of an unjust law are wrongfully convicted. Although their convictions do not currently qualify as wrongful convictions in the legal sense, we argue that the same reasons for legally recognizing other wrongful convictions support conceiving of these cases as wrongful convictions. If so, then people who suffered wrongful convictions associated with unjust laws, like others who were wrongfully convicted, are entitled to compensation and reparation. We then argue that America’s drug laws are unjust laws. Therefore, people who were convicted of nonviolent drug offenses are entitled to compensation.
9. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Erin I. Kelly Rethinking Criminal Justice
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The punitive, moralizing conception of individual responsibility commonly associated with retributive justice exaggerates the moral meaning of criminal guilt. Criminal guilt does not imply moral desert, nor does it justify moral blame. Mental illness, intellectual disability, addiction, immaturity, poverty, and racial oppression are factors that mitigate our sense of a wrongdoer’s moral desert, though they are mostly not treated by the criminal justice system as relevant to criminal culpability. The retributive theory also distracts from shared responsibility for social injustice. Instead of highlighting the moral urgency of correcting conditions that help to explain the crime rate, a commitment to retribution diverts attention from the social conditions that engender crime. These conditions include an unequal distribution of social, economic, and political power, which poses a serious problem for the retributive theory. When disadvantaged members of society act in ways that violate the criminal law, they are less morally blameworthy, even when the laws they violate are justified. Judgments of blame and desert, in relation to criminal justice, vary in accordance with political status. The diminished political power of oppressed groups is at odds with a retributive justification of punishment.
10. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Ekow N. Yankah Punishing Them All: How Criminal Justice Should Account for Mass Incarceration
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The piece returns to my earlier challenges of retributivism as the basis of contemporary criminal law, advancing my work on republican political justifications that make central the effect of punishment on citizenship. In short, the justification of punishment should eschew individual retributivist “desert” and focus primarily on the effects of punishment on the entire polity. In particular, this would mean that the effects of mass incarceration would be explicitly a part of justification of punishment. Concretized, members of communities where widespread punishment (incarceration) has damaged collective civic health should explicitly receive discounts on otherwise “retributively justified” punishment. Most obviously, a regime focused on the effect of punishment on civic bonds would explicitly target the vast racial disparities in contemporary punishment regimes, grounding an explicit claim that an African-American or Hispanic defendant from overly punished communities should be punished less and requiring other state resources to secure the safety of the community. While critical, this regime is not solely aimed at racial disparities. This principle would equally address the concentration of punishment in poor, white communities often battered by punishment and policing. Thus, the policy shows a way of building allies across racial lines.
11. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Eric J. Miller The Moral Burdens of Police Wrongdoing
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When addressing the burdens borne by victims of police wrongdoing, we often overlook moral harms in focusing on the physical and psychological harms that they suffer. These moral harms undermine the moral status of the victim, her ability to consistently pursue the values she endorses, and her character. Victimhood is a morally significant social role. Victimhood imposes normative standards that measure the moral or political status of victim. Conforming to these standards affects our assessment of the conduct of the victim and her moral standing. Considering the victims’ role provides important insights into contemporary practices of policing in the United States. The physical and verbal acts of the police often force race-based degradation upon racially subordinated groups. There is often no morally good way out of racially discriminatory encounters when the choice is to degrade oneself or suffer violence or even death. Worse, how we respond to the threat of police violence morally undermines our relationships with those we would keep safe from policeviolence.
12. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Andy Engen Punishing the Oppressed and the Standing to Blame
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Philosophers have highlighted a dilemma for the criminal law. Unjust, racist policies in the United States have produced conditions in which the dispossessed are more likely to commit crime. This complicity undermines the standing of the state to blame their offenses. Nevertheless, the state has reason to punish those crimes in order to deter future offenses. Tommie Shelby proposes a way out of this dilemma. He separates the state’s right to condemn from its right to punish. I raise doubts about Shelby’s proposed resolution. So long as punishment is widely and reasonably understood to condemn crime, Shelby’s proposal does not resolve the dilemma. Moreover, there is reason to think the blaming aspect of punishment plays a role in the justification of its hard treatment. I conclude by considering some other ways out of the dilemma, focusing especially on how the United States might take responsibility for its complicity.
13. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Jessica Wolfendale Prison as a Torturous Institution
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Philosophers working on torture have largely failed to address the widespread use of torture in the U.S. prison system. Drawing on a victim-focused definition of torture, I argue that the U.S. prison system is a torturous institution in which direct torture occurs (the use of solitary confinement) and in which torture is allowed to occur through the toleration of sexual assault of inmates and the conditions of mass incarceration. The use and toleration of torture expresses and reinforces the moral exclusion of those subjected to it, particularly African Americans. Importantly, this moral exclusion and the experience of torture may be created and reinforced through institutional practices independently of the intentions of individuals acting within those institutions. By prioritizing torture victims’ experiences and severing the link between torture and intention, my account forces a recognition that, far from being inconsistent with U.S. values, torture is deeply embedded within U.S. institutions.
14. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Jennifer Kling, Leland Harper The Semantic Foundations of White Fragility and the Consequences for Justice
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This essay extends Robin DiAngelo’s concept of white fragility in two directions. First, we outline an additional cause of white fragility. The lack of proper terminology available to discuss race-based situations creates a semantic false dichotomy, which often results in an inability to discuss issues of racism in a way that is likely to have positive consequences, either for interpersonal relationships or for social and political change. Second, we argue that white fragility, with its semantic foundations, has serious consequences for racial justice. It perpetuates the mass incarceration of black Americans, and undergirds the knowledge gap and subsequent wealth gap. The result of these racial injustices, which are maintained partially through white fragility, is that black Americans do not live in a democracy; they neither occupy positions of social and political power, nor have the ability to obtain power or directly impact who does obtain power.
articles
15. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Kerry McKenzie A Curse on Both Houses: Naturalistic versus A Priori Metaphysics and the Problem of Progress
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A priori metaphysics has come under repeated attack by naturalistic metaphysicians, who take their closer connection to the sciences to confer greater epistemic credentials on their theories. But it is hard to see how this can be so unless the problem of theory change that has for so long vexed philosophers of science can be addressed in the context of scientific metaphysics. This paper argues that canonical metaphysical claims, unlike their scientific counterparts, cannot meaningfully be regarded as ‘approximately true,’ and that this means that the epistemic progress that science arguably enjoys through episodes of theory change cannot be expected to transfer to its metaphysics. What the value of engaging in metaphysics of science before the emergence of a final theory becomes correspondingly unclear.
16. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Christopher A. Bobier Thomas Aquinas on the Basis of the Irascible-Concupiscible Division
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Thomas Aquinas divides the sensory appetite into two powers: the irascible and the concupiscible. The irascible power moves creatures toward arduous goods and away from arduous evils, while the concupiscible power moves creatures toward pleasant goods and away from non-arduous evils. Despite the importance of this distinction, it remains unclear what counts as an arduous good or evil, and why arduousness is the defining feature of the division. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, I argue that an arduous object is one that is difficult and important for the creature. Second, given this proper understanding of arduousness, I highlight the shortcomings of the standard interpretation of Aquinas’s argument for the irascible-concupiscible distinction and suggest an alternative. I argue that Aquinas grounds the distinction in the distinction between useful and pleasant goods. I explain how these distinct goods allow arduousness to be the defining feature of the irascible-concupiscible division.
17. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Daniel A. Wilkenfeld Living with Autism: Quus-ing in a Plus-ers World
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In this paper, I explore the possibility that the point Kripke (1982) made about understanding meaning also applies to understanding social interaction. This understanding involves extending what one has learned from a finite number of past observations to provide normative guidance for an indefinitely complicated future. Kripke argues (to my mind correctly) that what one should do in the future is inevitably underdetermined by the infinite possible interpretations of the past. Moreover, no matter how much one attempts to make the rules explicit, they will always be underspecified. I then explore the speculative hypothesis that having different tacit dispositions made manifest in one’s understanding of the rules of social engagement would look remarkably similar to tendencies exhibited by many autistic individuals. The analogy will say something substantive about how neurotypicals (and other autists) should treat the behavior of autistic individuals—if we are not even doing anything incorrect, then society should not be criticizing our means of engagement.
18. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Robert Audi Toward an Epistemology of Moral Principles
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The epistemology of moral principles should be developed in relation to general epistemology and integrated with a plausible moral ontology. On both counts, it is important to consider the nature of moral properties and, more generally, normative properties. This paper distinguishes two kinds of normative properties, indicates how they are related to one another and to moral properties, contrasts their supervenience on natural properties with their grounding in those properties, and, in the light of the points then in view, argues for a moderately rationalist account of knowledge of moral principles. The paper also considers in detail how one might account for the a priori status of certain moral principles—a status that remains controversial and is in any case difficult to establish. The final section shows how the overall position of the paper may be consistent with moral naturalism but does not depend on it.
book symposium
19. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Sarah Moss Précis of Probabilistic Knowledge
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20. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
John MacFarlane On Probabilistic Knowledge
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