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261. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Gordon Knight Idealism, Intentionality, and Nonexistent Objects
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Idealist philosophers have traditionally tried to defend their views by appealing to the claim that nonmental reality is inconceivable. A standard response to this inconceivability claim is to try to show that it is only plausible if one blurs the fundamental distinction between consciousness and its object. I try to rehabilitate the idealistic argument by presenting an alternative formulation of the idealist’s basic inconceivability claim. Rather than suggesting that all objects are inconceivable apart from consciousness, I suggest that it is impossible to conceive of any such object as genuinely existent. This thesis is lent credence by the fact that only in reflective self-consciousness is existence a phenomenological datum. Not only is it the case that we are not ever aware of an object as existing, we do not have a clear understanding of what it would be like to have such an awareness. If this is true, then we have reason to believe that while consciousness exists, the objects of consciousness cannot exist.
262. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Francesco Orilia Metaphor and Truth-Makers
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This paper builds on Lakoff’s and Johnson’s theory of metaphorical concepts to propose that our conception of truth as correspondence with reality is metaphorically based on our conception of perceptual fields. In particular, it is argued that parts of reality, as metaphorically understood in terms of parts of perceptual fields, can play the role of objective truth-makers for sentences with empirical content; for instance, they meet the constraints on correspondence put forward by Barry Smith. Finally, Richard Boyd’s account of the function of metaphor in science is utilized to ground the nonfictional and referential status of truth-maker and related notions.
263. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Thomas W. Smythe Self-Knowledge and the Self
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Although it is unpopular in analytical philosophy nowadays to talk about the Self, I attempt to resurrect the concept by articulating a mode of self-knowledge recently introduced in the literature on perceiving God, and described as nonsensory perception. Contrary to Hume, I point out various aspects of the Self that a subject can perceive in a nonsensory manner. I cite some historical forerunners for such a conception of self-knowledge of the self. I use a thought experiment to indicate, in a phenomenological way, an example of the inner perception of the self as “here.” I briefly discuss the implications of such a mode of self-awareness for the mind-body problem, and for personal identity.
264. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Robert M. Wallace Hegel on “Ethical Life” and Social Criticism
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Many readers have suspected that Hegel---in arguing against Kant’s individualistic and critical way of approaching ethics and favoring instead an “ethical life” he associates with custom and habit---is in effect eliminating both individual judgment and any basis for criticism of corrupt or unjust communities. Most specialists reject this view of Hegel’s ethical theory, but they haven’t explained precisely how, on the contrary, ethical life preserves individual judgment and criticism within a new way of thinking about ethics. The goal of this paper is to do that.
265. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Michael Golluber Aristotle on Knowledge and the Sense of Touch
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This paper on Aristotle’s De Amilla attempts to understand the treatise as a unified whole---a unity, it may be argued, that is only as problematic as is the unity of the soul of which it speaks. Aristotle’s treatise on the soul must strike its reader as being all too perplexing, and the subject of touch in particular seems to arouse such perplexity. But Aristotle would have it that “in our inquiry into the soul, in going forward, we must be thoroughly perplexed” (403b20). Touch, as a locus of perplexity in the De Amina, thus seems to provoke the kind of forward motion that leads to the human soul’s knowledge of itself. As such a locus of perplexity, I hope to show, the discussion of touch serves as a thread that provides the seams needed to tie the text together as an integrated whole. By focusing on Aristotle’s account of the faculty of touch, I believe I have come close to capturing the essence of what Aristotle means by entelecheia. Soul understood as an entelecheia amounts to the location of the soul’s highest possibilities in the activity of learning rather than knowing. Aristotle is much more Socratic than he might at first appear.
266. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Mark Tanzer Heidegger on Freedom and Practical Judgment
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One prevalent strategy for connecting Heidegger’s thought and his support of Nazism focuses on his notion of resolve. The claim is that it is through resolve that Dasein achieves authenticity, but that Heidegger’s notion of resolve is without determinate content, and thus empty. Since the call to authenticity, it is supposed, is Heidegger’s version of the command to be moral, the indeterminacy of Heideggerian resolve apparently results in an ethicopolitical “decisionism”-an effectively amoral form of judgment that precludes Heideggerian thought from recognizing the evil of National Socialism. In this paper, I argue that the above critique is based on a misinterpretation of Heidegger’s notion of freedom. Specifically, it imputes the “existentialist” conception of freedom as unconstrained arbitrariness to Heideggerian resolve. A proper understanding of Heideggerian freedom, however, reveals that freedom is highly constrained, and that the freedom of resolve is far from an empty notion.
267. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Yuval Steinitz The Logical Paradox of Causation
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According to Hume’s classical definition of causal relations, a cause must fulfill two distinct conditions: a) be a sufficient condition for the occurrence of its effect; b) be temporally prior to it. However, a careful logical analysis shows that the combination of sufficiency and temporality is impossible. This is because if a complete cause is a sufficient condition for its effect to occur-then the effect is a necessary condition for the occurrence of its own complete cause! Thus, there can be no complete cause for anything to occur, which means that causal determination is logically impossible.The paper goes on to examine some possible responses to this argument, and then concludes with a nontemporal version of the paradox that shows that even the first of Hume’s above conditions cannot be fulfilled on its own. This is because if something (e.g., the cause) is a sufficient condition of something else (e.g., the effect), then it cannot be a sufficient condition of itself.
268. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Nancy Slonneger Hancock Anomalous Monism and Physical Closure
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The principle of the anomalousness of the mental (PAM) is one of the most controversial principles in Donald Davidson’s argument for anomalous monism (AM). It states that there cannot be any laws (psychophysical or psychological) on the basis of which mental events can be predicted and explained. The argument against such psychological laws rests on the claim that psychology is not a comprehensive closed system (though physics is). Here I sketch the argument for AM, focusing on the role of PAM and the concept of closure. I present characterizations of the notion of closure offered by William Stanton and Brian McLaughlin. McLaughlin argues that Stanton’s characterization makes the argument for AM circular. McLaughlin offers a different characterization, but I argue that given Davidson’s criterion of event identity and individuation, the two are equivalent and thus both are subject to McLaughlin’s objection. If I’m right about this, there are still a couple of options open to Davidson and the defenders of Anomalous Monism. However, I conclude by indicating why neither seems promising to me.
269. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Brian Orend A Just-war Critique of Realism and Pacifism
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The main premise of this article is that contemporary just-war theory offers only a weak response to its two main rivals: realism and pacifism. These alternativeperspectives on the ethics of war and peace are dismissed too readily by just-war theory, often for the wrong reasons. In light of this deficiency, this paper seeksto forward the debate in two ways: 1) by reconstructing realism and pacifism in a rigorous and charitable fashion; and 2) by contending that, even in the face of such formidable rivals, just-war theory remains the most plausible and principled account of the deep moral and political problems associated with the momentous issue of armed conflict.
270. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
George Carew Democracy and Ethnicity
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The focus on the institutional implications of democratization in postcolonial plural societies invites the following conclusion. While procedural democracy, the general rules for aggregating preferences, is easily defeated, an alternative formulation, proportional representation or consociational democracy is defended. Consociational democracy has explicable reparable flaws and can be brought into coherence. The tools for repair require the embodiment of deliberative principles in the organs of consociational democracy. I argue in my conclusion that this theoretical argument can be utilized to explicate the ethnic conflict in Burundi.
271. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Donna M. Giancola Toward a Radical Reinterpretation of Parmenides’ B3
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It is generally agreed that Parmenides’ fragment B3 posits some type of relation between “thinking” and “Being.” I critically examine the modern interpretations of this relation. Beginning with the ancient sources and proceeding into modern times, I try to show that the modern rationalist reading of fragment B3 conflicts with its grammatical syntax and the context of the poem as a whole. In my critique, I suggest that rather than a statement about epistemological relations, it is, as it was originally understood, a religious assertion of metaphysical identity.
272. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Frank M. Oppenheim How Did William James and Josiah Royce Differ in their Philosophical Temperaments and Styles?
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The present article examines the philosophical temperaments of James and Royce, as well as the kind and development of their philosophical styles. After surveying their stances toward the universe, attitudes toward the more, and their openness to other philosophers’ ideas and critiques, this article focuses on the streams of philosophical thought from which James and Royce chose to “drink”-British, German, Asian, and the work of logicians. Some evidence is drawn from their correspondence and places of study. Their philosophical styles, despite many common traits, differed in ageric tone, use of dichotomies, and frequency of reduplicative expressions, here called “double-barreled shotgun expressions.” Clearly, this research constitutes only one piece in the full mosaic of the increasingly studied James-Royce relationship.
273. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Logi Gunnarsson Climbing Up the Ladder: Nonsense and Textual Strategy in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus
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This paper is the work of two fictional authors, the late Johannes Philologus and Johannes Commentarius. One part consists of Philologus’s philosophical reflections on a fragment that, unbeknownst to him, is identical to the first four paragraphs of the Preface and the last two numbered propositions of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Commentarius writes a preface to Philologus’s article and a commentary on it, in which he, like Philologus, addresses the question of how a work consisting of nonsense can be elucidatory. By publishing his contribution together with that of Philologus, Commentarius wants to produce a work mirroring the structure of the Tractatus itself.
274. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Yiwei Zheng Ockham’s Connotation Theory and Ontological Elimination
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The importance of the connotation theory in Ockham’s semantics and metaphysics can hardly be overstated---it is the main mechanism that brings forth Ockham’s famous ontological elimination. Yet none of the extant interpretations can satisfactorily accommodate three widely accepted theses: (1) there is no synonym in mental language; (2) a connotative term has a semantically equivalent nominal definition; and (3) there are simple connotative terms in Ockham’s mental language. In this paper I offer an interpretation that I argue can accommodate all.
275. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Dmitry Shlapentokh Cosmism in European Thought: Humanity Without Future in Cosmos
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European thought has had contradictory visions of humanity’s place in the cosmos. Some believed that humanity might survive indefinitely. Yet most of the modern thinkers assumed that humanity, in general, was not different from other species and would eventually disappear. In Russia, a different view prevailed. It was assumed that humanity belonged to a sort of “chosen species” and would have a different destiny from the other species. This idea of “humanity as a chosen species” was supported with the idea of Russia as a “chosen nation” that would lead humanity to mastery over nature and ensure its immortality. The end of the conception of the omega of world history in post-Soviet Russia had led to the discarding of humanity’s mastery over nature and its special position in the cosmos. From then on, it was stressed that humanity was an insignificant and perishable speck, and the future would most likely lead to humanity’s disappearance.
276. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Hamid Vahid Skepticism and Varieties of Epistemic Universalizability
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While there is general agreement that knowing a proposition p involves knowing that nothing incompatible with p is true, there is much controversy over the range of possibilities that have to be ruled out if knowledge claims are to be sustained. With the failure of attempts on behalf of commonsense to delimit the range of counterpossibilities in order to leave room for knowledge, some theorists, most notably Adler, have sought to introduce a set of so-called ‘universalizability principles’ that require us to extend our epistemic judgments about particular beliefs to those held under similar circumstances. These principles, it is claimed, not only identify which counterpossibilities must be countenanced, but also have enough power to generate skeptical results. In this paper I distinguish between minimalist and full-blooded versions of the universalizability thesis, and argue that the thesis can have skeptical consequences only when conjoined with certain epistemically significant assumptions. This is followed by a discussion of the epistemic import of the minimalist version of the thesis by considering how it can arise naturally in epistemic contexts, in virtue of either being semantically linked to the concept of justification or as a result of enforcing certain constraints on its application.
277. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Pamela Sue Anderson “Standpoint”: Its Rightful Place in a Realist Epistemology
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This article defends the place of “standpoint” in a realist epistemology. The conception and role of standpoint are proposed to be receptive to the shifting perspectives of actual knowers. A standpoint is distinguished from a spontaneous perspective or mere outlook. In this realist epistemology standpoint will have something to do with background beliefs. but rather than a starting point, it is an achievement gained as a result of a struggle for less biased knowledge. Epistemologists currently employ various conceptions of standpoint. However. the present concern is with a conception that functions to expose the framing influence of the social and material variables constituting complex power relations. Oppression and domination are not as easily elucidated as background beliefs. Confronting the truth of racism, for example. involves not only empirical justification and hermeneutical dialogue but recognition of standpoint in a reflexive and transformative interplay of perspectives.
278. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Rod Bertolet Recanati, Descriptive Names, and the Prospect of New Knowledge
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The immediate purpose of this note is to provide counterexamples to François Recanati’s claim in Direct Reference that descriptive names (a name whose reference is fixed by an attributive definite description) are created with the expectation that we will be able to think of the referent nondescriptively at some point in the future. The larger issue is how to reconcile the existence of descriptive names with the theoretical commitments Recanati takes direct reference to have. The point of the claim about the expectation of future knowledge of the referent is to make it plausible that uses of descriptive names are not literal, since a literal use ought to express a singular proposition rather than one involving a descriptive mode of presentation; it is argued that this route to reconciliation will not work.
279. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Arthur Witherall The Fundamental Question
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Asking the question “Why is there something instead of nothing?” almost always inspires a reaction of awe or wonder. This emotional response is both appropriate and desirable, whether or not a legitimate answer to the question is obtainable. The question is deep, and the fact about which it asks is impossible to explain by citing some other fact or some antecedent condition. In this paper I consider several possible responses, including a rejection of the question as meaningless, positions that posit the existence of a necessary being, and teleological explanations that posit the instantiation of value in the world. It is argued that each of these positions is either an unacceptable response or fails to diminish our sense of awe at the existence of the world.
280. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 26
Mark Painter Language and Moral Justification in Pre-Reformation Philosophy
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In this paper I argue that the influence of Lutheran and Calvinist theology on the philosophy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is the reconception and consequent curtailment of the power and role of language in philosophical thought. Prior to this influence, ethics is the basis for pre-Reformation philosophy, in that it entails a basic teleological conception of human nature upon which other branches of philosophical thought are based. Thus the primary objective of pre-Reformation philosophy is the justification of humanity, the laying out of how humanity might become right, complete, balanced, and just. What allows humanity to achieve its own good by seeking out the good in nature is language and the ability to wield it. The conclusion drawn is that philosophy prior to the Reformation is the justification of humanity as language.