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Res Philosophica

Volume 92
The 11th Robert J. Henle Conference

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Displaying: 31-40 of 40 documents

31. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 2
Rachel McKinnon Trans*formative Experiences
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What happens when we consider transformative experiences from the perspective of gender transitions? In this paper I suggest that at least two insights emerge. First, trans* persons’ experiences of gender transitions show some limitations to L. A. Paul’s (2015) decision theoretic account of transformative decisions. This will involve exploring some of the phenomenology of coming to know that one is trans, and in coming to decide to transition. Second, what epistemological effects are there to undergoing a transformative experience? By connecting some experiences of gender transitions to feminist standpoint epistemology, I argue that radical changes in one’s identity and social location also radically affects one’s access to knowledge in ways not widely appreciated in contemporary epistemology.
32. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 2
Nathaniel Sharadin How You Can Reasonably Form Expectations When You're Expecting
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L. A. Paul has argued that an ordinary, natural way of making a decision—by reflecting on the phenomenal character of the experiences one will have as a result of that decision—cannot yield rational decision in certain cases. Paul’s argument turns on the (in principle) epistemically inaccessible phenomenal character of certain experiences. In this paper I argue that, even granting Paul a range of assumptions, her argument doesn’t work to establish its conclusion. This is because, as I argue, the phenomenal character of an experience supervenes on epistemically accessible facts about its non-phenomenal character plus what the deciding agent is like. Because there are principles that link the non-phenomenal character of experiences (together with what a particular agent is like) to the phenomenal character of experiences, agents can reasonably form expectations about the valence of the phenomenal character of the experiences that they are deciding whether to undergo. These reasonable expectations are, I argue, enough to make the ordinary, natural way of making a decision yield rational decision.
33. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 2
Muhammad Velji Change Your Look, Change Your Luck: Religious Self-Transformation and Brute Luck Egalitarianism
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My intention in this paper is to reframe the practice of veiling as an embodied practice of self-development and self-transformation. I argue that practices like these cannot be handled by the choice/chance distinction relied on by those who would restrict religious minority accommodations. Embodied self-transformation necessarily means a change in personal identity and this means the religious believer cannot know if they will need religious accommodation when they begin their journey of piety. Even some luck egalitarians would find leaning exclusively on preference and choice to find who should be burdened with paying the full costs of certain choices in one’s life too morally harsh to be justifiable. I end by briefly illustrating an alternative way to think about religious accommodation that does not rely on the choice/chance distinction.
34. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 2
L. A. Paul Transformative Choice: Discussion and Replies
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In “What you can’t expect when you’re expecting,” I argue that, if you don’t know what it’s like to be a parent, you cannot make this decision rationally—at least, not if your decision is based on what you think it would be like for you to become a parent. My argument hinges on the idea that becoming a parent is a transformative experience. This unique type of experience often transforms people in a deep and personal sense, and in the process, changes their preferences.In section 1, I will explain transformative experience in terms of radical first-personal epistemic and self change. In section 2, I’ll explain the notion of subjective value that I use to develop the decision problem. In section 3, I will discuss the way we ordinarily combine our introspective assessments with testimony and evidence. In section 4, I will discuss the problems for rational decision-making. In section 5, I will explore the problem of first-personally transformed future selves. In section 6, I will engage with the main themes and arguments and ideas of the authors of the papers contributed to this volume.
35. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 1
Daniel Garber Descartes among the Novatores
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In the Discours de la méthode, Descartes presents himself as a heroic figure, standing up against the current Aristotelian orthodoxy in philosophy, and offering something new, a mechanist physics and the metaphysics to go along with it. But Descartes was by no means the only challenger to Aristotelian natural philosophy: by Descartes’s day, there were many. Descartes was read as one of this group, generally called the novatores (innovators) in Latin, and often severely criticized for their advocacy of the new. Descartes himself wanted to separate his philosophy from that of the novatores, who were thought to seek novelty rather than truth. But it was not so easy to distance himself. Many contemporary commentators, like Charles Sorel, put Descartes squarely in their camp, but at exactly the moment when novelty and innovation in natural philosophy was changing from being worthy of scorn to being praiseworthy.
36. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 1
Tad M. Schmaltz The Metaphysics of Rest in Descartes and Malebranche
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I consider a somewhat obscure but important feature of Descartes’s physics that concerns the notion of the “force of rest.” Contrary to a prominent occasionalist interpretation of Descartes’s physics, I argue that Descartes himself attributes real forces to resting bodies. I also take his account of rest to conflict with the view that God conserves the world by “re-creating” it anew at each moment. I turn next to the role of rest in Malebranche. Malebranche takes Descartes to endorse his own occasionalist version of physics. However, he nonetheless rejects Descartes’s account of rest by appealing to the fact that whereas God’s production of motion requires a power beyond the mere power to create, his production of rest requires only the latter power. It turns out that this argument in Malebranche is incompatible with the sort of “re-creationist” account of divine conservation that he is widely thought to have inherited from Descartes.
37. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 1
Lisa Shapiro Memory in the Meditations
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This paper considers just how memory works throughout the Meditations to adduce Descartes’s conception of memory. Examining the meditator’s memory at work raises some questions about the nature of Cartesian memory and its epistemic role. What is the distinction between remembering and repeating a thought? If remembering is not simply repeating a thought, then what is involved in properly remembering? Can we remember properly while adding or shifting content, say, in virtue of articulating relations between ideas? If so, what is the relation between remembering and reasoning, since both would then involve relations of ideas? These questions become salient in considering the meditator’s creative recollections in the Third and especially the Sixth Meditations. After briefly considering what Descartes does say about memory, I consider two other strategies for addressing those questions: an analogy with innate ideas, and attending to the role that other thinkers play in one’s own recollections.
38. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 1
Lex Newman Attention, Voluntarism, and Liberty in Descartes's Account of Judgment
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This essay addresses two main aspects of Descartes’s views on the mind’s voluntary control over judgment. First, I argue that in his view, the mind’s control over judgment is indirect: rather than believing things directly at will, the mind’s voluntary control is exercised by directing its attention to reasons—the reasons then doing the work of determining either assent, dissent, or suspension. Second, I argue that the foregoing indirect voluntarism account undermines an influential line of argument purporting to show that Descartes holds a compatibilist account of the mind’s liberty in its judgment formation. On the broader interpretation that emerges, Descartes assigns a more significant role to attention in proper judgment formation than has generally been acknowledged.
39. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 1
Deborah Brown Animal Automatism and Machine Intelligence
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Descartes’s uncompromising rejection of the possibility of animal intelligence was among his most controversial theses. That rejection is based on (1) his commitment to the doctrine of animal automatism and (2) two tests that he takes to be sufficient indicators of thought (the action and language tests). Of these two tests, only the language test is truly definitive, and Descartes is firmly of the view that no animal could demonstrate the capacity to use signs to convey meaning in “all the circumstances of life.” The topic is fascinating for forcing us to ponder what exactly reason is for Descartes and the role it plays in everyday life. This article explores the tensions in Descartes’s arguments produced by an over reliance on the analogy between animals and clocks, including the question of what to make of Descartes’s recognition of the need to posit representational and information-processing subsystems in the brain.
40. Res Philosophica: Volume > 92 > Issue: 1
Gary Hatfield Natural Geometry in Descartes and Kepler
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According to Kepler and Descartes, the geometry of the triangle formed by the two eyes when focused on a single point affords perception of the distance to that point. Kepler characterized the processes involved as associative learning. Descartes described the processes as a “natural geometry.” Many interpreters have Descartes holding that perceivers calculate the distance to the focal point using angle-side-angle, calculations that are reduced to unnoticed mental habits in adult vision. This article offers a purely psychophysiological interpretation of Descartes’s natural geometry. In his account of perceived limb position from the Treatise on Man, he envisioned a central brain state that controls ocular convergence (and accommodation) and thereby co-varies with the distance from observer to object. A psychophysiological law relates the visual perception of distance to this brain state. Descartes also invokes more traditional theories of distance and size perception based on unnoticed judgments, yielding a hybrid account.