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21. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Valerie Tiberius Why Be Moral? Can the Psychological Literature on Well-Being Shed any Light?
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In Plato’s dialogue the Republic, Glaucon challenges Socrates to prove that the just (or moral) life is better or more advantageous than the unjust one. Socrates’s answer to the challenge is notoriously unsatisfying. Could new research on well-being in philosophy and psychology allow us to do better? After distinguishing two different approaches to the question “why be moral?” I argue that while new research on well-being does not provide an answer that would satisfy Glaucon, it does shed light on the topic. Empirical research has different implications for our prudential reasons to be moral depending on which philosophical theory of well-being is accepted. Some well-being theories sustain stronger links to morality than others, but any theory of well-being can make use of empirical research to narrow the gap between prudence and morality to some extent.
22. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Daniel M. Haybron The Proper Pursuit of Happiness
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What are the norms governing the pursuit of happiness? Presumably not just anything goes. But are the rules any more interesting than platitudes like “do whatworks, as long as you don’t hurt anyone”? Such questions have become especially salient in light of the development of positive psychology. Yet so far these matters have received relatively little attention, most of it from skeptics who doubt that the pursuit of happiness is an important, or even legitimate, enterprise. This paper examines the normative issues in this realm, arguing that the pursuit of happiness is indeed a legitimate and important endeavor, contra recent criticisms by Aristotelian and other skeptics. Yet it is also subject to strong, nonobvious normative constraints that extend well beyond those typically posited by commonsense and consequentialist thought.
23. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Richard Kraut Human Diversity and the Nature of Well-Being: Reflections on Sumner’s Methodology
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In Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics, L. W. Sumner argues that theories of well-being must not pick out some kinds of human lives as richer in prudential valuethan others. I argue that we should reject this methodological stricture, but should embrace his insight that many kinds of lives are good for people to live. I also reject his claim that a theory of well-being would fail if it took the form of a list of things that are good for us. Nonetheless, I argue, if we construct such a list in a way that caters to the diversity of good human lives, we will be led to the conclusion that they are united by their relationship to the flourishing of our natural capacities. I distinguish between bottom-up and top-down strategies for defending this Aristotelian conception of well-being, and argue in favor of a bottom-up approach.
24. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Erik Angner Is Empirical Research Relevant to Philosophical Conclusions?
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Much recent philosophical literature on happiness and satisfaction is based on the belief that empirical research is relevant to philosophical conclusions. In his2010 book What is This Thing Called Happiness? Fred Feldman begs to differ. He suggests (a) that there is no evidence that empirical research is relevant to long-standing philosophical questions; consequently, (b) that philosophers have little reason to pay attention to the work of psychologists or economists; and (c) that philosophers need not fear embarrassing themselves by being ignorant of important scientific findings that bear directly on their work. Relying on an example invoked by Feldman himself, this paper makes the case that all three theses are false. The argument suggests a picture according to which science and philosophy stand in a symbiotic relationship, with scientists and philosophers engaging in a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas for the advancement of thegeneral knowledge.
25. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Tobias Hoffmann The Pleasure of Life and the Desire for Non-Existence: Some Medieval Theories
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Are there subjective or objective conditions under which human life is not worth living? Or does human life itself contain the conditions that make it worth living?To find answers to these questions, this paper explores Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Richard of Mediavilla, and John Duns Scotus, who discuss whether the damned in hell can, should, and do prefer non-existence over their existence in pain and moral evil. In light of Aristotle’s teaching that there is a certain pleasure inherent to life itself, I shall argue that even a life that is in important respects painful and unpleasant is still worth living.
26. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Jason Kido Lopez Kierkegaard's View of Despair: Paradoxical Psychology and Spiritual Therapy
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Though many hold Søren Kierkegaard’s The Sickness unto Death contains psychological descriptions of those who suffer from despair, I will argue that this is not so. Kierkegaard makes three claims—the conjunction of which I call ‘the triple reduction’—that take contradictory stances on whether people in despair are aware of their despair and whether they want to be their true self. Indeed, if the triple reduction were true, people in despair would be both aware and unaware of their despair, and would both want and not want to be their true self. Unless we want to attribute to Kierkegaard this paradoxical psychological view of the despairer, then we must, I will argue, read Sickness not as a work that answers the question of what is happening in the mind of someone in despair. Instead, it is a therapeutic work meant to help its readers out of despair.
27. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Robert Wyllie Kierkegaard's Eyes of Faith: The Paradoxical Voluntarism of Climacus's "Philosophical Fragments"
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Scholarly debate about Kierkegaard’s fideism focuses upon whether his voluntarism—the doctrine that religious faith can be simply willed—is practicable or credible. This paper proposes that a close reading of Philosophical Fragments and The Concept of Anxiety (1844) reveals that there is a role for both the will and the intellect in Kierkegaard’s concept of faith. Kierkegaard arrives at a compatibilism that emphasizes the roles of both the intellect and the will. The intellect perceives a “moment” that paradoxically intersects time and eternity and assents to a skeptical argument that one cannot understand how things and events come into existence. And beyond simply recognizing that belief is not unreasonable, the intellect perceives an internal logic to faith in a theological aesthetic—Johannes Climacus’s “poem” in Philosophical Fragments. Against the standard view of Kierkegaard’s voluntarism, this argument for compatibilism shows how the intellect combined with the will forms the “eyes of faith.”
28. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Walter Wietzke Practical Reason and the Imagination
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I argue that Kierkegaard’s work is relevant to an issue currently being debated within Anglo-American ethical theory. Kierkegaard’s account of the transition between existence spheres maps onto discussions in the contemporary field that concern how an agent can acquire motivations for new normative obligations. Following Kierkegaard’s work, a deeper understanding of the conditions behind a transition between existence spheres suggests that an individual’s set of motivations can be revised to direct the individual towards new and different ends. From the contemporary perspective, this helps explain how agents can be led to appreciate different normative obligations (i.e., existence spheres) based on the self-conscious understanding they have of their own interests. To guide this analysis I discuss Jamie Ferreira’s work on the imagination and explain how it can illuminate Kierkegaard’s contribution to current debates in ethical theory.
29. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
David Diener Kierkegaard on Authority, Obedience, and the Modern Approach to Religion
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Throughout his works Kierkegaard repeatedly claims that the modern age has subverted authentic Christianity. While interpretations of Kierkegaard’s critique of the modern approach to religion abound, they generally agree that the critique is based on various conceptual distinctions regarding the limits of human reason, the epistemological differences between subjective and objective truth, or the (irrational?) nature of religious faith. Very little attention, however, has been paid to the prominent role authority plays in the critique or to the fact that according to Kierkegaard it is disobedience to authority, and not any conceptual confusion, that is the primary fault of the flawed modern approach. This paper argues that Kierkegaard’s most fundamental indictment of the modern approach to religion is its disobedience to the authority of the Christian command. Given this, the paper then examines what, for Kierkegaard, is the basis on which a person should choose to submit to an alleged religious authority.
30. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen Schelling and Kierkegaard in Perspective: Integrating Existence into Idealism
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Søren Kierkegaard is often considered to be one of the most vocal critics of German idealism. The present paper analyzes the philosophical similarity between Friedrich Schelling’s early idealistic work and Kierkegaard’s existential writings, endeavoring to display Schelling’s epic 1809 publication Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom as a possible forerunner to Kierkegaard. This juxtaposition reveals concrete similarity that supports the thesis that Schelling’s work could have been of great inspirational value for Kierkegaard, especially Kierkegaard’s core concepts such as freedom, morality and God. However, Schelling’s early work is primarily appreciated as a philosophy of nature (metaphysics), and therefore fundamentally different from Kierkegaard’s theistic-psychological writings. The present paper tentatively opposes this distinction, concluding that if Schelling really is a forerunner to Kierkegaard, then we ought to appreciate Kierkegaard’s writings as conveying more than a theological message. The conclusion suggests that Kierkegaard’s writings should be interpreted in a broader philosophical context, closer to the metaphysical idealism he is often assumed to resist.
31. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Ryan West Faith as a Passion and Virtue
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The Christian tradition affirms that faith is a virtue. Faith is a multifaceted reality, though, encompassing such diverse aspects as belief, trust, obedience, and more. Given this complexity, it is no surprise that various thinkers emphasize different aspects of faith in accounting for faith’s status as a virtue. In this paper I join Søren Kierkegaard in arguing that faith is (in part) a passion, and that faith is a virtue (in part) because it disposes the person of faith to proper emotional responses. The paper has three sections. First, I lay the groundwork for understanding faith as a passion by explaining the relationship between passions and emotions. Drawing on the works of Kierkegaard, Merold Westphal, and Robert C. Roberts, I distinguish two senses of passion, and show how these senses are related to each other and to faith. The second section uses the account of faith developed in Concluding Unscientific Postscript to develop the idea that passional faith is a deep, identity-forming attachment to God. Finally, I explicate the idea that passional faith, so understood, functions as an emotion disposition. I do so by expounding part one of Kierkegaard’s Christian Discourses, which explores some of the ways in which faith disposes one away from certain emotions (what Kierkegaard calls “the cares of the pagans”) and toward other emotions.
32. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Anna Strelis The Intimacy between Reason and Emotion: Kierkegaard's "Simultaneity of Factors"
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This paper elucidates Kierkegaard’s notion of the “simultaneity of factors” in order to reveal the intimate connection between reason and emotion. I begin with the romantic vision of aesthetic education as embodied in Friedrich Schiller, which Kierkegaard himself inherited, though in a critical and nuanced manner. Next, I explore Kierkegaard’s pointed critique of the romantics, namely through his conviction that they had misrepresented the role of imagination to the detriment of harmony in the individual. Finally, I present Kierkegaard’s positive view of the simultaneity of factors, emphasizing his improvement on the romantics through the central category of “inwardness.” Throughout, I underline that Kierkegaard gave higher status neither to emotion nor reason, taking them as complimentary aspects of human existence and thereby inviting their reunion in the history of philosophy.
33. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Eleanor Helms The Objectivity of Faith: Kierkegaard's Critique of Fideism
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Perhaps Kierkegaard’s most notorious—though pseudonymous—claim is that truth is subjectivity. This claim is commonly elaborated to mean that faith is a “how” (an attitude or practice of believing) and not a “what” (a certain objective content). I show through a discussion of examples taken from throughout Kierkegaard’s writings that Kierkegaard accepts a basic insight of Kant’s philosophy: each experience implicitly includes an underlying unity—the object—that does not itself appear. Both Kant and Kierkegaard emphasize the importance of a “continuity of impressions,” which gives experience its unified structure beyond changing superficial appearances. I show that Kierkegaardian faith requires an object in just this Kantian sense: the object of faith (the Incarnation) does not directly appear but is implicitly present in all experience. For Kant, this type of object is not “beyond” experience but is posited by reason as the unity of experience as a whole. In this respect at least, Kierkegaard’s account of faith shows similarities not just with Kant’s practical philosophy (as suggested by C. Stephen Evans) but with his metaphysics as well.
34. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Jennifer Ryan Lockhart Kierkegaard's Indirect Communication of Kant's Existential Moment
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This paper distinguishes between two rationalist readings of Either/Or: (1) the Rational Argument Interpretation, according to which the aim of the book is ultimately to offer a rational argument in favor of living ethically, and (2) the Rational Presupposition Interpretation, according to which the pseudonymous authors presuppose that it is rational to live ethically. The paper argues in favor of (2). In particular, it argues that the fundamental presuppositions of Either/Or are those of Kant’s moral philosophy and rational religion. At the heart of Kant’s arguments for the practical postulates lies an “existential moment”: Kant’s practical arguments are subjectively valid in virtue of the personal decision of the individual to do his duty. According to the Rational Presupposition Interpretation advanced here, Either/Or is best understood as an attempt to communicate indirectly and to confront the reader with the significance of personal choice for inhabiting a hopeful moral life-view.
35. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 1
Andrew Chignell Can Kantian Laws Be Broken?
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In this paper I explore Kant’s critical discussions of the topic of miracles (including the important but neglected fragment from the 1780s called “On Miracles”) in an effort to answer the question in the title. Along the way I discuss some of the different kinds of “laws” in Kant’s system, and also the argument for his claim that, even if empirical miracles do occur, we will never be in a good position to identify instances of them. I conclude with some tentative remarks about the notorious suggestion that intelligible finite agents, too, might have some sort of influence over the laws of nature. The goal throughout is to show that exploring Kant’s answer to a traditional question in philosophical theology can deepen our understanding of his metaphysics and epistemology of nature generally.
36. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 1
Dan Kaufman Cartesian Substances, Individual Bodies, and Corruptibility
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According to the Monist Interpretation of Descartes, there is really only one corporeal substance—the entire extended plenum. Evidence for this interpretation seems to be provided by Descartes in the Synopsis of the Meditations, where he claims that all substances are incorruptible. Finite bodies, being corruptible, would then fail to be substances. On the other hand, ‘body, taken in the general sense,’ being incorruptible, would be a corporeal substance. In this paper, I defend a Pluralist Interpretation of Descartes, according to which there are many corporeal substances. In particular, I show that none of the claims in the Synopsis about incorruptibility and substance entail either that finite bodies are not substances, or that the only corporeal substance is the entire plenum.
37. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 1
Marleen Rozemond Mills Can't Think: Leibniz's Approach to the Mind-Body Problem
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In the Monadology Leibniz has us imagine a thinking machine the size of a mill in order to show that matter can’t think. The argument is often thought to rely on the unity of consciousness and the notion of simplicity. Leibniz himself did not see matters this way. For him the argument relies on the view that the qualities of a substance must be intimately connected to its nature by being modifications, limitations of its nature. Leibniz thinks perception is not a modification of matter because it is active and matter is passive. At the same time, there are traces in Leibniz of a different argument that relies on the notion of internal action, which may involve the notion of simplicity. Critics have sometimes charged that the Mill Argument is an argument from ignorance, but Leibniz was aware of this problem and made clear that he did not make that mistake.
38. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 1
Desmond Hogan Kant on Foreknowledge of Contingent Truths
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The paper examines Kant’s views on divine foreknowledge of contingent truths, in particular truths concerning free actions of creatures. It first considers the shape this traditional philosophical problem takes in the transcendental idealist context. It then situates Kant’s views relative to three competing theories of foreknowledge discussed by Leibniz. These are Molina’s theory of middle knowledge, the Thomist theory of foreknowledge through divine predeterminations, and Leibniz’s own ‘possible worlds’ theory. The paper concludes that no consistent theory of divine foreknowledge emerges in Kant’s philosophy. His discussions alternate between two inadequate and incompatible models. One is a post-volitional model suggested by his conception of the intuitive intellect’s relation to creation. Extended to creaturely free action, it is incompatible with his commitment to the relative autonomy of free action. The other is a version of Leibniz’s possible worlds solution; it cannot underwrite certain foreknowledge of determinate outcomes in a libertarian setting.
39. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 1
Rebecca Copenhaver Berkeley on the Laguage of Nature and the Objects of Vision
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Berkeley holds that vision, in isolation, presents only color and light. He also claims that typical perceivers experience distance, figure, magnitude, and situation visually. The question posed in New Theory is how we perceive by sight spatial features that are not, strictly speaking, visible. Berkeley’s answer is “that the proper objects of vision constitute an universal language of the Author of nature.” For typical humans, this language of vision comes naturally. Berkeley identifies two sorts of objects of vision: primary (light and colors) and secondary (distance, figure, magnitude, and situation). Berkeley also appeals to a third class of a different sort: visible figure, magnitude, and situation, constituting the vocabulary of the language of vision. By considering two perceivers who lack this vocabulary we may better understand this third category and the difference between those who must learn the language of vision and those for whom it is a natural endowment.
40. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 1
Sukjae Lee Toward a New Reading of Leibnizian Appetites: Appetites as Uneasiness
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If we consider their fundamental role in the makeup of simple substances, our understanding of Leibnizian appetites or ‘appetitions’ seems far from satisfactory. To promote a better understanding of Leibniz’s mature view of appetites, I present a new reading of the appetitive nature of simple substances, focusing on key texts where Leibniz stresses how appetites fail to reach what they strive for. Against the “standard reading,” according to which appetites are the direct causes of subsequent perceptual states, I propose an alternative, more complex picture of appetitive activity within simple substances. On my account, what Leibniz typically refers to as ‘appetites’ do not directly cause subsequent states, but are strivings or desires to be in states of less unease or greater happiness, states that the creature might actually fail to enjoy. This reading of appetites, I argue, is consistent with there being an additional, distinct strand of appetitive activity, one that corresponds to the primitive forces of simple substances. In contrast to the first strand of appetitive activity, this second strand is directly causal in that its final causality is operative in the exceptionless occurrence of the series of perceptual states prescribed in the “law of the series.” The resulting picture is one in which simple substances are appetitive through and through, with teleological activity permeating the substance at the levels of both primitive and derivative forces.