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51. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 16
James V. Robinson The Nature of the Soul in Republic X
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There has been much discussion as to what, in Republic X, Plato took to be the true nature of the soul. My justification for extending the discussion is the continued popularity of the view that the true soul is incomposite. What I add to the discussion is a different perspective, one which sheds new light on the problem. Commentators have paid little or no attention to the role that order plays in this issue. By giving order its due, it becomes apparent not only that Plato was not stating that the true soul was incomposite, but also that, as he almost certainly realized, such a view would be inconsistent with other claims made in the dialogue.
52. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 16
R. B. Brandt Overvold on Self-Interest and Self-Sacrifice
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In order to explain the idea that sacrifice involves voluntary diminution of the agent’s well-being, “well-being” must be explained. The thesis that an agent’s well-being just consists in the occurrence of events wanted is rejected. Overvold replaces it by the view that the motivating desires involve the existence of the agent, alive, at the time of their satisfaction. This view seems counterintuitive. The whole desire-satisfaction theory is to be rejected partly because we dont’t think an event worthwile if it is not liked when it occurs, and partly because the theory cannot give a sensible account of what is good for an individual when his desires change. A more satisfactory view is that the goodness of an event for a person is fixed by his total gratifications as a result of its occurrence, provided they would occur if the person were fully informed about facts knowledge of which would change them if it existed. But self-sacrifice seems to involve not only voluntary diminution of well-being in this sense, but belief that the action is taken for the benefit of someone else. Overvold’s view leaves open the possibility that acting morally is never contrary to self-interest, if one of the agent’s major interests is that he act morally. This is an ingenious suggestion, but seems a bit counterintuitive.
53. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 16
Craig K. Ihara Comments on Paul Wierich’s “Contractarianism and Bargaining Theory”
54. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 16
John M. Connolly Whither Action theory: Artificial Intelligence or Aristotle?
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The problem of ‘wayward causal chains’ threatens any causal analysis of the concept of intentional human action. For such chains show that the mere causation of an action by the right sort of belief and/or desire does not make the action intentional, i.e. one done in order to attain the object of desire. Now if the ‘because’ in ‘wayward’ action-explanations is straightforwardly causal, that might be argued to indicate by contrast that the different ‘because’ of reasons-explanations (which both explain and justify) is non-causal. Myles Brand, in Intending and Acting (1984), resists this conclusion, but argues that waywardness shows that philosophers must ‘naturalize’ action theory by drawing on contemporary work in cognitive science and artificial intelligence. I argue that this is a misconceived response to the problem of waywardness: in Brand’s work action theory itself has gone astray, unsure which way to tum next.
55. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 16
James Baillie Split Brains and Single Minds
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This paper challenges the widely held theory that split-brain patients have ‘two-minds’ and can thus be described as being two distinct persons. A distinction is made between the singularity of mind and the coherence of mind. It is stressed that ‘a single mind’ is not something posited to explain coherence among mental contents, but is merely a mark that such coherence holds to a certain degree. However, there is no sharp dividing line regarding what counts as a single mind. It is argued that mental coherence is always a matter of degree, and that our concept of a single mind can accomodate spit-brain phenomena.
56. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
David Basinger Feminism and Epistemology: A Response to Code
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There have been many calls recently for philosophers to rethink what philosophy is and how it should be practiced. Among the most vocal critics is an influential group of feminist philosophers who argue that since current philosophical activity is based primarily on a conception of reason that is both inherently inadequate and oppressive to women, it is imperative that our understanding of the nature and practice of philosophy be significantly modified. I argue that this criticism is fundamentally misguided. Specifically, it seems to me that while philosophers may at times need to rethink the role of the traditional philosophical method of inquiry in the context of general societal debate and rethink the techniques used to help others understand and apply this methodology, this method of inquiry, itself, is not in need of abandonment or major modification.
57. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Carlo Filice Pacifism: A Reply to Professor Narveson
58. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Christopher R. Hitchcock Discussion: Massey and Kirk on the Indeterminacy of Translation
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Gerald Massey has constructed translation manuals for the purposes of illustrating Quine’s Indeterminacy Thesis. Robert Kirk has argued that Massey’s manuals do not live up to their billing. In this note, I will present Massey’s manuals and defend them against Kirk’s objections. The implications for Quine’s Indeterminacy Thesis will then be briefly discussed.
59. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Susan V. Castagnetto Reid’s Answer to Abstract Ideas
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The doctrine of abstract ideas contains Locke’s views on the nature of generality and how we think in general terms-the nature of universals, of general concepts, and how we classify. While Reid rejects abstract ideas, he accepts Locke’s insight that we have an ability to abstract. In this paper, I show how Reid preserves Locke’s insight, while providing a more versatile and forward-looking account of universals and concepts than Locke was able to give.Reid replaces abstract ideas with what he calls “general conceptions.” But general conceptions are really three different things. First, they are universals---non-mental intrinsically general objects of acts of abstraction and conception. I show how Reid is able to make the claim that there are universals without being committed to holding that universals really exist. This claim, together with his type/token distinction, enables Reid to better explain how we have knowledge of attributes and use general terms meaningfully. The general features of our experience are not ideas and are not produced by the faculty of abstraction---but that faculty enables us to distinguish them.In the second sense, a general conception is an act of mind which takes universals as objects. Thinking in general tenns is not the manipulation of abstract ideas---it is engaging in acts of conceiving. Such acts are made possible by general conceptions in the third sense, namely, general concepts. While Reid does not distinguish this sense explicitly, I argue that he takes general concepts to be dispositions or abilities to distinguish general features of objects and to use the general terms of language as other users do. So rather than producing mental entities---abstract ideas---that act as standards to help us classify, abstraction makes possible the development of abilities to use general terms and classify objects.
60. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 17
Kirk Ludwig Brains in a Vat, Subjectivity, and the Causal Theory of Reference
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This paper evaluates Putnam’s argument in the first chapter of Reason, Truth and History, for the claim that we can know that we are not brains in a vat (of a certain sort). A widespread response to Putnam’s argument has been that if it were successful not only the world but the meanings of our words (and consequently our thoughts) would be beyond the pale of knowledge, because a causal theory of reference is not compatible with our having knowledge of the meanings of our words. I argue that this is not so. I argue also, however, that given how Putnam argues (here) for the causal theory of reference, he cannot after all escape this consequence.