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1. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 9
Matthew Vermaire Against Schmought
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Matti Eklund has argued that a new problem in metanormative theory arises when we consider the possibility of "normative counterparts"—normative concepts with the same normative roles as OUGHT and RIGHT (for instance), but with different extensions. I distinguish two versions of the problem, and propose a solution: when we attend to the attitudinal commitments involved in the possession and application of some normative concepts, we find that tolerance for the possibility of normative counterparts is rationally ruled out.
2. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 9
Joe Horton New and Improvable Lives
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According to weak utilitarianism, at least when other things are equal, you should maximize the sum of well-being. This view has considerable explanatory power, but it also has two implications that seem to me implausible. First, it implies that, other things equal, it is wrong to harm yourself, or even to deny yourself benefits. Second, it implies that, other things equal, given the opportunity to create new happy people, it is wrong not to. These implications can be avoided by accepting a complaints-based alternative to weak utilitarianism. However, complaints-based views face two decisive problems, originally noticed by Jacob Ross. I here develop a view that avoids these problems while retaining the advantages of complaints-based views.
3. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 9
Benjamin A. Bramble The Defective Character Solution to the Non-identity Problem
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The non-identity problem is that some actions seem morally wrong even though, by affecting future people’s identities, they are worse for nobody. In this paper, I further develop and defend a lesser-known solution to the problem, one according to which when such actions are wrong, it is not because of what they do or produce, but rather just because of why they were performed. In particular, I argue that the actions in non-identity cases are wrong just when and because they result from, or reflect in those who have performed them, a morally dubious character trait.
4. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 9
Call for Submissions: The Isaac Levi Prize
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5. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 8
Andrew M. Bailey, Peter van Elswyk Generic Animalism
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The animalist says we are animals. This thesis is commonly understood as the universal generalization that all human persons are human animals. This article proposes an alternative: the thesis is a generic that admits of exceptions. We defend the resulting view, which we call ‘generic animalism’, and show its aptitude for diagnosing the limits of eight case-based objections to animalism.
6. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 8
A. C. Paseau Propositionalism
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Propositionalism is the claim that all logical relations can be captured by propositional logic. It is usually regarded as obviously false, because propositional logic seems too weak to capture the rich logical structure of language. I show that there is a clear sense in which propositional logic can match first-order logic, by producing formalizations that (i) are valid iff their first-order counterparts are, and (ii) also respect grammatical form as the propositionalist construes it. I explain the real reason propositionalism fails, which is more subtle and more interesting.
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7. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 8
Hun Chung On Choosing the Difference Principle Behind the Veil of Ignorance: A Reply to Gustafsson
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In a recently published paper entitled, “The Difference Principle Would Not Be Chosen behind the Veil of Ignorance”, Johan E. Gustafsson attempts to demonstrate that the parties in Rawls’s original position would not choose the difference principle. Gustafsson’s main strategy was to show that Rawls’s difference principle in both of its ex post and ex ante versions imply counterintuitive distributional prescriptions in a few contrived examples. The purpose of this paper is to precisely demonstrate exactly how Gustafsson’s arguments have failed to show that the difference principle would not be chosen behind the veil of ignorance.
8. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 8
Call for Submissions: The Isaac Levi Prize
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9. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 7
Santiago Echeverri Putting I-Thoughts to Work
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A traditional view holds that the self-concept is essentially indexical. In a highly influential article, Ruth Millikan famously held that the self-concept should be understood as a Millian name with a sui generis functional role. This article presents a novel explanatory argument against the Millian view and in favor of the indexical view. The argument starts from a characterization of the self-concept as a device of information integration. It then shows that the indexical view yields a better explanation of the integration function than the Millian view. The resulting account can rebut Millikan’s objections and it has broader implications for the debate on the essential indexical.
10. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 7
David Boylan, Ginger Schultheis How Strong Is a Counterfactual?
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The literature on counterfactuals is dominated by strict accounts (SA) and variably strict accounts (VSA). Counterexamples to the principle of Antecedent Strengthening were thought to be fatal to SA; but it has been shown that by adding dynamic resources to the view, such examples can be accounted for. We broaden the debate between VSA and SA by focusing on a new strengthening principle, Strengthening with a Possibility. We show dynamic SA classically validates this principle. We give a counterexample to it and show that extra dynamic resources cannot help SA. We then show VSA accounts for the counterexample if it allows for orderings on worlds that are not almost-connected, and that such an ordering naturally falls out of a Kratzerian ordering source semantics. We conclude that the failure of Strengthening with a Possibility tells strongly against Dynamic SA and in favor of an ordering source-based version of VSA.
11. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 6
Emanuel Viebahn The Lying-Misleading Distinction: A Commitment-Based Approach
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The distinction between lying and mere misleading is commonly tied to the distinction between saying and conversationally implicating. Many definitions of lying are based on the idea that liars say something they believe to be false, while misleaders put forward a believed-false conversational implicature. The aim of this paper is to motivate, spell out, and defend an alternative approach, on which lying and misleading differ in terms of commitment: liars, but not misleaders, commit themselves to something they believe to be false. This approach entails that lying and misleading involve speech-acts of different force. While lying requires the committal speech-act of asserting, misleading involves the non-committal speech-act of suggesting. The approach leads to a broader definition of lying that can account for lies that are told while speaking non-literally or with the help of presuppositions, and it allows for a parallel definition of misleading, which so far is lacking in the debate.
12. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 6
William MacAskill, Aron Vallinder, Caspar Oesterheld, Carl Shulman, Johannes Treutlein The Evidentialist's Wager
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Suppose that an altruistic agent who is uncertain between evidential and causal decision theory finds herself in a situation where these theories give conflicting verdicts. We argue that even if she has significantly higher credence in CDT, she should nevertheless act in accordance with EDT. First, we claim that the appropriate response to normative uncertainty is to hedge one's bets. That is, if the stakes are much higher on one theory than another, and the credences you assign to each of these theories are not very different, then it is appropriate to choose the option that performs best on the high-stakes theory. Second, we show that, given the assumption of altruism, the existence of correlated decision makers will increase the stakes for EDT but leave the stakes for CDT unaffected. Together these two claims imply that whenever there are sufficiently many correlated agents, the appropriate response is to act in accordance with EDT.
13. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 6
New Books
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14. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 6
Call for Submissions: The Isaac Levi Prize
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15. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 5
Bob Beddor, Simon Goldstein Mighty Knowledge
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We often claim to know what might be—or probably is—the case. Modal knowledge along these lines creates a puzzle for information-sensitive semantics for epistemic modals. This paper develops a solution. We start with the idea that knowledge requires safe belief: a belief amounts to knowledge only if it could not easily have been held falsely. We then develop an interpretation of the modal operator in safety (could have) that allows it to non-trivially embed information-sensitive contents. The resulting theory avoids various paradoxes that arise from other accounts of modal knowledge. It also delivers plausible predictions about modal Gettier cases.
16. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 5
Giulia Felappi Empty Names, Presupposition Failure, and Metalinguistic Negation
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When it comes to empty names, we seem to have reached very little consensus. Still, we all seem to agree, first, that our semantics should assign truth to (one reading of) negative singular existence statements in which an empty name occurs and, second, that names are used in such statements. The purpose of this paper is to show that ruling out that the names are mentioned is harder than it has been thought. I will present a new metalinguistic account for negative singular existence statements in which an empty name occurs, and I will show that the account can deal both with the objections to the traditional metalinguistic account and with other objections that seem to target my new proposal.
17. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 5
New Books: Anthologies
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18. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 4
Frédérique de Vignemont A Minimal Sense of Here-ness
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In this paper, I give an account of a hitherto neglected kind of ‘here’, which does not work as an intentional indexical. Instead, it automatically refers to the immediate perceptual environment of the subject’s body, which is known as peripersonal space. In between the self and the external world, there is something like a buffer zone, a place in which objects and events have a unique immediate significance for the subject because they may soon be in contact with her. I argue that seeing objects as being here in a minimal sense means seeing them in the place in which the perceptual system expects the world and the body to collide. I further argue that this minimal notion of here-content gives rise to a tactile sense of presence. It provides a unique experiential access to the reality of the seen object by making us aware of its ability to have an effect on us.
19. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 4
Jonathan Mitchell Self-Locating Content in Visual Experience and the "Here-Replacement" Account
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According to the Self-Location Thesis, certain types of visual experiences have self-locating and so first-person (or de se), spatial contents. Such self-locating contents are typically specified in relational egocentric terms. So understood, visual experiences provide support for the claim that there is a kind of self-consciousness found in experiential states. This paper critically examines the Self-Location Thesis with respect to dynamic-reflexive visual experiences, which involve the movement of an object toward the location of the perceiving subject. The main aim of this paper is to offer an alternative interpretation of these cases which resists attributing them self-locating content, arguing for a replacement of the de se component with a non-conceptual equivalent of the indexical ‘here’ (the h-replacement account). In its final section, the paper also considers an extension of the h-replacement account to cases of visual kinesthesis.
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20. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 118 > Issue: 4
Adam Marushak Fallibilism and Consequence
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Alex Worsnip argues in favor of what he describes as a particularly robust version of fallibilism: subjects can sometimes know things that are, for them, possibly false (in the epistemic sense of ‘possible’). My aim in this paper is to show that Worsnip’s argument is inconclusive for a surprising reason: the existence of possibly false knowledge turns on how we ought to model entailment or consequence relations among sentences in natural language. Since it is an open question how we ought to think about consequence in natural language, it is an open question whether there is possibly false knowledge. I close with some reflections on the relation between possibly false knowledge and fallibilism. I argue that there is no straightforward way to use linguistic data about natural language epistemic modals to either verify or refute the fallibilist thesis.