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161. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Marilyn Friedman Women’s Autonomy and Feminist Aspirations
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Autonomy has risen in esteem, then fallen, only to rise again in recent theorizing about women in society and culture. In this paper, I further bolster the renewed feminist interest in autonomy. I characterize feminist social aspirations in terms of three very abstract goals and then argue that women’s individual autonomy promotes at least two of them in crucial ways. Women’s autonomy will improve the quality of the close personal relationships that pervade women’s traditional moral concems (the first goal) and it will enable women the better to resist traditional, gender-based constraints on their lives (the second goal). My conclusion is tempered, however, by the view that individual autonomy interferes to a significant degree with the solidarity and collective action by women needed to effect feminist social change (the third goal) . In passing, I gesture toward a conception of autonomy as a certain kind of narrative of self-development.
162. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Gregory Mellema Is it Bad to Omit an Act of Supererogation?
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There are a great many philosophers and theologians who deny that acts of supererogation are possible on the grounds that no act whose performance is praiseworthy can fail to be obligatory to perform. Here I examine a position which affirms that acts of supererogation are possible but which shares with the opponents of supererogation the sentiment that it is frequently morally blameworthy to omit such acts. This view is endorsed by certain professional philosophers, but it also seems that many non-philosophers are favorably inclined to this attitude. Although it is difficult to offer an outright refutation of this view, I offer some recommendations for those attracted to this position in the hopes that their concerns ahout supererogation can be addressed in ways which do not necessitate endorsing either a strong or moderate version of the anti-supererogationist point of view.
163. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
John F. Post The Foundationalism in Irrealism, and the Immorality
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The foundationalism in irrealism is structural foundationalism, according to which reason giving must terminate with some affair beyond the reach of noncircular inferential justification or critique. Even relativist irrealists are structural foundationalists. But structural foundationalism is only as good as the regress argument for it, which presupposes that the relevant forms of inferential justification are all transitive. Since they are not, structural foundationalism fails. So too does the “God’s-eye-view” or look-see argument against realism, to the effect that when it comes to correspondence and universals or samenesses found not made, realists have no noncircular argumentative recourse, hence must gaze on reality bare, looking to see that the categories of our language or thought conform to something in reality. Furthermore, realists can justify their view via nontransitive forms of inferential justífication, without recourse either to look-see or to morally problematic notions of sameness and difference made rather than lovingly found.
164. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Steven D. Weiss Nietzsche’s Denial of Opposites
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Nietzsche sees westem philosophy and culture as dorninated by the metaphysical belief in opposites. The first and second sections of this paper spell out the basic assumptions underlying this belief and discuss the distinction between the “true” and the “apparent” world as the primary opposite by reference to which all opposites are determined. Section three employs Nietzsche’s idea of the will to power to analyze the belief in opposites as an expression of a weak and sickly type of Iife seeking to revenge itself upon the natural world. Section four tums to Nietzsche’s denial of the belief in opposites and examines how he dissolves the distinction between the “true” and “apparent” world. The final section ofthe paper presents Nietzsche’s counter-analysis of metaphysical opposites within epistemology, religion, aesthetics, and morality. He regards “opposites” as contraries which exist along a continuum of natural phenomena, and he introduces the notion of sublimation to explain how one contrary can eventually give rise to its extreme.
165. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Heimir Geirsson Partial Propositions and Cognitive Content
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Recently there has been a surge of new Fregeans who claim that the direct designation theory, as understood by contemporary Russellians, does not, and cannot, account for the different cognitive significance of statements containing different but codesignative names or indexicals. Instead, they say we must use a fine grained notion of propositions; one which builds a mode of presentation into proposition in addition to including in them the object referred to by the name or indexical in the sentence expressing the proposition. Thus we have Mark Richard, John Perry, and Mark Crimmins championing theories that build the mode of presentation into propositions, making the mode of presentation affect the truth conditions of belief reports. What is interesting, though, is that all three accept the direct designationalists claim that proper names, indexicals, and demonstratives are directly referential.I present four problems for the direct designation theorists and argue that the problem the new Fregeans use to motivate their move to include cognitive significance in propositions is the least basic of the four problems. I then provide an account of beliefs of singular propositions which does not require us to build modes of presentations into propositions and which solves the problems posed for the direct designation theory.
166. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Kai-Yee Wong Singular Propositions and the A Priori
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In Frege’s Puzzle, Nathan Salmon argues that his theory of singular propositions enables him to refute Saul Kripke’s claim that some identity statements are necessary and yet a posteriori. In this paper, through a critical examination of Salmon’s rejoinders to my earlier objections to his argument, I show what implications the theory of singular propositions has for the notion of apriority. I argue that Salmon’s handling of the ‘trivialization problem,’ which presents serious difficulties for his ‘absolute’ account of apriority, leaves a great deal to be desired. I suggest, in conclusion, that the theorist of singular propositions should hold a relative view of apriority.
167. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Kevin Gibson Is the Numbering System in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus a Joke?
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Many commentators have dismissed Wittgenstein’s numbering system in the Tractatus as either incoherent or a joke. In this paper I offer a way to rehabilitate the system along the lines of Wittgenstein’s own instructions. Reading the Tractatus in this way not only offers a way to make sense of the numbering, but also offers a significant improvement in examining the meaning of the text.
168. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
William Vaughan “Nur Geistiges ist Schrecklich”: Heidegger on Schelling’s Metaphysics of Evil
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While much has been written regarding Heidegger’s Nazism, his 1936 work on Schelling, a book-length treatment of the metaphysics of evil, has been largely ignored. Here Heidegger sought to show how evil is no mere human quality but a constitutive feature of the essence of man. The argument revolves around a reformulated version of the difference between “ground” and “existence,” where the former signifies the dark embryonic latency of being or god, while the latter denotes God’s fully revealed manisfestation in his creation. The self-willing of man elevates itself to the point where it wills to determine its own unity of ground and existence. Evil arises from the rebellion of ground against existence and vice versa, resulting in a profound ontological perversion. This paper spells out Heidegger’s complex views along the lines of evil being a manifestation of unbridled subjectivity in the most extreme metaphysical discord.
169. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
R. W. Brimlow On Groups, Group Action and Preferential Treatment
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In this paper I analyze the nature of groups and collective actions, focusing primarily upon those groups that do not possess either a formal organizational structure or formalized decision procedures. I argue that the unity relation for all groups is a common interest and that the existence of this common interest makes even informal groups specific and enduring entities which can act and be acted upon.In light of this discussion, I proceed to examíne the issue of affirmative action programs and policies of preferential treatment. I argue that by utilizing my theory of groups the most serious objections to such policies --- viz., that they unjustly discriminate against innocent and arbitrarily selected white males in favor of undeserving and arbitrarily selected African Americans and women --- are shown not to be applicable. These objections depend upon reducing groups to their constituent individuals whereas I maintain that some groups ought to be treated as entities themselves.
170. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Athanasse Raftopoulos Descartes’ Proof of the Essence of Matter and the Cartesian Scientific System
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It has been a traditional claim that Descartes sought to construct a deductive scientific system in which everything could be deduced from a priori truths. I shall call this thesis strong a priorism. In view of the overwhelming amount of evidence that Descartes thought experience to be a necessary part of his method, the traditional interpretation has undergone several transformations. One interpretation resulting from this transformation holds that Descartes sought to prove the first principles of natural philosophy in an a priori manner. I will call this interpretation weak a priorismk.My task in this paper is to show that the thesis of weak a priorismk is false. With a view to proving this, I will show that one of the very general principles of Cartesian natural philosophy, namely, the claim that the essence of matter is extension, could not have been, and was not meant to be, established in a purely a priorik way.
171. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Joseph Margolis Relativism vs. Pluralism and Objectivism
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Relativism may take a coherent and self-consistent form, by replacing a bivalent logic with a many-valued logic; “incongruent” propositions may then be valid, that is, propositions that on a bivalent model but not now would be or would yield contradictories. I reject “relationalism,” any relativism in accord with which “true” means “true-for-x” (in accord with the usual reading of Plato’s Theaetetus). I show how epistemic pluralism is an analogue of the “is”/“appears” distinction and presupposes a form of objectivism, however attenuated. By “objectivism” I understand the thesis that what obtains independently in the world is cognitively accessible, is contextless and free of interpretation. The admitted indemonstrability of objectivism affects the force of pluralism and cannot disallow relativism. If objectivity is an artifact of inquiry, then relativism and pluralism can be reconciled.
172. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Alfred R. Mele Motivation and Intention
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This essay defends the compatibility of a pair of popular theses in the philosophy of action and rebuts arguments of Hugh McCann’s (1995) designed to show that my earlier efforts, in Springs of Action, to resolve the apparent tension were unsuccessful. One thesis links what agents intentionally do at a time, t, to what they are most strongly motivated to do at t. The other is a thesis about the nature and functions of intent.
173. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Jonathan Cohen The Imagery Debate: A Critical Assessment
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No one disputes that certain cognitive tasks involve the use of images. On the other hand, there has been substantial disagreement over whether the representations in which imaginal tasks are carried out are imaginal or propositional. The empirical literature on the topic which has accrued over the last twenty years suggests that there is a functional equivalence between mental imagery and perception: when peopIe imagine a scene or event, the mental processes that occur are functionally similar in important senses to what happens when they visually perceive an analogous scene or event. What is in dispute is not this principle of equivalence, but rather what conclusions should be drawn from it about the representational medium used in imagery.The problem to be explained is what internal cognitive events transpire when people answer questions like “What color is a bee’s head?” Most people report that they imagine a picture of the insect and then look at the head in the image to determine its color. Although there is no more reason to accept these introspective reports as a good account of cognitive processes than in any other cognitive phenomena, there are many empirical results which lend credence to the idea that there are mental images of some kind.Some theorists have taken the empirical results as evidence that there exists a special, non-symbolic representational medium for imagery. Others have insisted that the imagery data can be explained best in terms of the more general, symbolic representations which are usually taken to underly higher level cognitive tasks. In this paper I shall evaluate the arguments for both imaginal and propositional representations in the hope of assessing the status of the imagery debate. I shall conclude that imaginal theories represent the most reasonable account of imagery.
174. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Michele Marsonet Richard Rorty’s Ironic Liberalism: A Critical Analysis
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This paper examines Richard Rorty’s “ironic liberalism,” arguing that it has no rational justitication. Rorty’s neopragmatism is first taken into account, tracing its origin and development to the political education he received in his youth. As is well known, Rorty defines himself as a liberal democrat, claiming that Westem liberal thought has produced the best form of political and social life which has ever appeared on our planet. However, if one asks why he is so positive about that, no answer can be found in Rorty’s works. The paper goes on revealing Rorty’s political philosophy as a corollary of his overall meaning holism, which takes the social and political body to be a Quinean net with no center and no boundary. Resorting to a mental experiment, the paper eventually shows that Rorty’s ironic liberalism is not a position which facilitates human choice in dramatic conditions. Any totalitarian ideology rnight readily discard ironic liberalism, because it would be easy to show that its supporters cannot even argue in favor of their convictions.
175. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
William L. Barthelemy, Sheldon Wein Development Officers and Discrimination
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This paper deals with what a government funded development agency should do when a developing country imposes restrictions on the development process which discriminate on the basis of gender against some members of the development agency’s staff. The conclusion is that there are circumstances in which development agencies should continue their work in the face of gender discrimination but they should not instigate development projects if doing so would involve them in gender discrimination. A set of procedures for a development agency to follow in these difficult circumstances is outlined. It is argued that an agency is entitled to violate a moral principle when so doing will reduce violations of that same principle.
176. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Olusegun Oladipo The Commitment of the African Philosopher
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Given the African experience today---an experience defined by the search for a synthesis between the various influences on contemporary African culture, in particular Christianity and Islam, and, on the one hand, science, technology and modernization, while on the other, the quest for freedom and development in a condition of enervating poverty---what should be the commitment of the African philosopher? This is the question I address in this essay. I argue that not much can be gained in this situation by a commitment to African culture or commitment to a discipline---philosophy. What is required, I suggest, is a commitment to human interests on the continent. This commitment can be expressed in various ways; for example, through the analysis, critique and reconstruction of traditional conceptual schemes, the examination of the ideological foundations of the African predicament and the consideration of issues---substantive and methodological---in other disciplines, particularly the social sciences.
177. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Nicholas P. Power Fodor’s Vindication of Folk Psychology and the Charge of Epiphenomenalism
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Jerry Fodor has long championed the view, recently dubbed “scientific intentional realism” (Loewer and Ray, 1991, p. xiv), that “a scientifically adequate psychology will contain laws that quantify over intentional phenomena in intentional terms.” On such a view our belief/desire psychology will be “vindicated” through empirical investigation; that is, it will be shown to denote the explanatory (or causally salient) states or events in the production of thought and behavior. That intentional properties, states, or events have causal efficacy---are not mere epiphenomena---is necessary for any such vindication. This paper investigates whether intentional properties can if fact ground or sustain the causal relations empirical psychology aims to reveal. I conclude that intentional properties are not amenable to such an explanatory role, and that, therefore, a different vindication of intentional description is required of the realist.
178. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Douglas Low Merleau-Ponty and the Foundations of Multiculturalism
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I attempt to present Merleau-Ponty here as one of the West’s first multiculturalists. He developed his characteristically balanced position some forty to fifty years ago, and he managed to do so without completely abandoning Western claims of rational justification. What he does abandon is a preestablished reason and its claim to absolute certainty. For Merleau-Ponty, rationality always remains to be established and always remains partial and incomplete. Yet his position does not fall into the skepticism and relativism of most of the postmodernist philosophies that have developed since his death in 1961, that have developed without a full appreciation of the explanatory power of his writings.
179. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Herbert Hochberg Particulars, Universals and Russell’s Late Ontology
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Russell’s late ontology sought to avoid “wholly colourless particulars” (substrata, points of space, bare instants of time) by appealing to complexes of compresent qualities in place of particulars that exemplify qualitieso Yet he insisted on (i) calling qualities like redness “discontinuous,” “repeatable” particulars, and (ii) claiming that such qualities were not universals, since they were not exemplified but were ultimate subjects that exemplified universal relations and universal qualities. It is argued that his choice of terminology is not only misleading, but is ironically not consistent with the concept of universality implicit in his well known “proof” of the existence of universals, a proof he retained in his later (1940-48) ontology. It is also argued that there are substantive grounds for rejecting his classification that clarify the concept of a universal.
180. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 21
Robert K. Shope Nondeviant Chains in Intentional Action
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When employing causal terminology in analyzing intentional action, and sometimes in analyzing additional phenomena, philosophers have required that relevant causal chains be free of what they call causal deviance or waywardness. But there is a wider type of deviance that needs to be excluded, of which causal deviance is only a species. Carl Ginet’s On Action considers examples of both types of deviance. A criticism of his treatment of such examples leads to a more satisfactory general analysis of nondeviant chains in terms of the manifestations of powers and the occasions for such manifestations.