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1. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Harold Zellner Spinoza’s Temporal Argument for Actualism
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In three places Spinoza presents an argument from (a) determinism and (b) God’s “eternity” to (c) “actualism”, i.e., the doctrine that this is (in some sense) the only possible world. That he does so shows that he distinguishes (a) from (c), which he has been thought to conflate. On one reading of ‘eternal’, he is claiming that an infinite past entails no other world was a “real” possibility. As might be expected, the argument is a failure, but it may help explain why Spinoza holds that there are no contingencies.
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2. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Brent A. Singer Sein und Zeit Revisited
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In this paper I present the basic outlines of a nonstandard interpretation of Sein und Zeit. The merit of this interpretation is that it brings out and develops some of the radical possibilities contained in this rich text, possibilities which, I believe, have yet to be given their due. On the basis of this interpretation it is clear not only how Heidegger’s ontology departs from its Cartesian and Kantian predecessors, but also how his ontology puts the traditional mind/body problem, and the problem of the external world, onto radically new grounds. However, unlike standard interpretations of Sein und Zeit, I argue that these new grounds neither resolve, nor dissolve, these problems, and that Heidegger’s discussion of the so-called “scandal of philosophy” is misleading at best.
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3. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Maryanne J. Bertram No Fool Like an Old Fool: Part IV of Thus Spake Zarathustra
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Nietzsche published for the public only the first three parts of Thus Spoke Zarathustra. This paper in examining the “tragic wisdom” of that work gives an account of why Nietzsche did not want his public to read Part IV. It shows the evolution in Nietzsche’s thought about tragic wisdom beginning with The Birth of Tragedy where satyric laughter is central to the wisdom of ancient Greek tragedy to Parts I-III of Thus Spoke Zarathustra where the significance of its major idea, eternal recurrence, is the joy occasioned by experiencing that theory to finally Part IV where the pathos engendered by Zarathustra, who has aged to an ugly, old fool, is the sarcastic laughter that kills.
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4. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Ash Gobar Erklärung and Begründung in Kantian Epistemology: A Reading of Synthetic Propositions A Priori
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This essay attempts a re-reading of the meaning and import of “synthetic propositions a priori” in the light of two other background concepts in Kantian epistemology: Erklärung and Begründung. The significance of this pair of concepts lies in the fact that they represent the “philosophical motive” of Kant---leading him, inevitably, to take the “transcendental turn”. (And, on this point, I believe that some commentators have reversed the dialectic of Kant’s thinking: they make him take the “transcendental turn” first, and then envision the Erklärung and the Begründung.) And the distinction between the “sensible world” and the “intelligible world” was the consequence. Did this distinction also provide the ontological matrix for the epistemological distinction between “analytic propositions” and “synthetic propositions”? I take that to be evident. What is less evident is that Kant was more interested in the relation between the two worlds than in these worlds in isolation. He was concerned with demonstrating the possibility (i.e., the “transcendental possibility” and not merely the “logical possibility”) of the sensible in the light of the intelligible. This he sought to do by elucidating (with the help of “transcendental arguments”) the a priori conditions of possible experience. This was the hidden dialectic of the transformation of the image of mind, from the Lockean “mirror” to the Kantian “prism”. The synthetic propositions a priori (I argue) articulate the relation of the a priori conditions of experience to the possible objects of experience. (That is why Kant takes the metaquestion, “How are synthetic propositions a priori possible?”, to be the main problem of the Kritik der reinen Vemunft.) The significance of the work of Kant for what we moderns call the “philosophy of science” is noted in the conclusion.
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5. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Chin-Tai Kim A Critique of Kant’s Defense of Theistic Faith
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Kant’s account of the idea of God in the first Critique prefigures but does not imply a theism. It is in his ethical philosophy that this idea is given a theistic interpretation, and that the postulation (or fideic affirmation) of God’s existence, along with immortality, is practically justified as a condition of the possibility of the summum bonum. This paper argues that Kant’s reasoning from his initially austere conception of morality to the summum bonum and to immortality and God’s existence lacks compelling logic. It also argues that Kant’s practical justification of faith, amounting to no more than the claim that practical reason explicates its own inherent need and satisfies this need by faith, fails to satisfy the demand of religious consciousness for an ontology of reason that includes an account of the grounding of reason in what it postulates.
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6. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Quentin Smith The Logical Structure of the Debate About McTaggart’s Paradox
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This short article aims to illustrate the mutually question-begging arguments that are often presented in debates between opponents and defenderss of McTaggart’s “proof” that A-properties (pastness, presentness and futurity) are logically incoherent. A sample of such arguments is taken from a recent debate between L. Nathan Oaklander (a defender of McTaggart) and myself (an opponent of McTaggart) and a method of escaping the impasse that is often reached in such debates is suggested.
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7. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Jon Torgerson Reichenbach and Smart on Temporal Discourse
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One of the problems which surfaces in philosophical literature as regularly as clockwork is the status of tensed and tenseless discourse. This received its most influential formulation in McTaggart The Nature of Existence. Two philosophers who respond to McTaggart are Hans Reichenbach and J.J.C. Smart. In this paper, I review their analysis of token-reflexive terms. First, I examine Reichenbach’s arguments for translating tensed discourse into tenseless discourse. In order to show its subtlety, I also discuss Smart’s attempt to provide such translations. This analysis is adequate for a limited number of tenseless utterances. Yet even Reichenbach’s analysis fails in certain important instances. That this attempt fails is a strong argument for supposing that any other such attempt will fail as well. If correct, it should put to rest the philosophically tempting quest for a tenseless discourse.
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8. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Dan Passell Individuation
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In Sameness and Substance David Wiggins bas indicated difficulties with individuating objects. By confining attention to material objects, I show how spatio-temporal features will do the job for them. I construct the explanation by examining how we coordinate sensations of several senses to produce an apprehension of the three spatial dimensions. I also search out grounds for distinguishing between apprehensions of objects and apprehension of the space in which they reside. Several necessary truths that apply are also distinguished from each other, and from the basic process, which is not itself necessary.
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9. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Raja A. Bahlul Ockham’s Razor and the Identity of Indiscernables
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In this paper it is argued that The Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles can be justified as a concrete application of Ockham’s Razor, the maxim which enjoins us not to multiply entities beyond necessity. First, a statement of the Principle is presented, according to which the Principle, while interesting enough, is not logically necessary. It is then argued that the assumption of the falsity of the Principle prescribes an epistemological situation where it seems to be impossible to find grounds for thinking that the Principle is indeed false. Hence it is to be accepted as an epistemological necessity of sorts, one that recommended by the desire not to multiply entities beyond need.
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10. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Thomas W. Smythe Disembodied Minds and Personal Identity
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Discussion of the human soul has bulked large in the literature of philosophy and religion. I defend the possibility of disembodied Cartesian minds by examining the criticisms of three philosophers who argue that there are serious difficulties about any attempt to account for the identity of such Cartesian minds through time. I argue that their criticisms of the possibility of disembodied minds are damaging but not fatal. I hold that the central issue behind their criticisms of Cartesian minds is whether any nonphysical mental criterion can be formulated for the identity of such entities. Even though no such criterion can be given, disembodied minds that persist through time remain logical possibilities.
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11. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Stephen Friedman Ultimate Homogeneity: A Dialog
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Throughout his metaphysical writings, Sellars maintains that current microtheory, with its particulate paradigm, can never depict adequately---even in principle---a universe populated with sentient beings like us. Why not? Experience for us involves the presence of an occurrent perceptual core of ultimately homogeneous secondary qualities. Sellars’ “Grain Argument” demonstrates (1) that physical objects qua clouds of discrete particles cannot instantiate such qualities and (2) that they cannot be assigned to an intrasentient realm construed as clusters of discrete, particulate neurons. Neither, contends Sellars, can they simply be eliminated from the inventory of any theory claiming to be both empirical and conceptually independent of common sense. And since common sense fails to provide an adequate picture of reality, our only course is to abandon the particulate paradigm of current microtheory in favor of a process paradigm. This paper traces and develops, in dialog form, these arguments.
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12. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Charles J. Kelly Why God is Not Really Related to the World
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The first part of the paper sketches the rationale for the classical theistic thesis that, though God is not really related to the world, the world is really related to God. Part II delineates four sets of recent criticisms ofthis thesis: (a) an objection which assesses it as conflating transparent and opaque construals of intentional propositions, (b) a dilemma which regards it as undermining either free divine creativity or God’s knowledge of the contingent, (c) arguments which view its adherence to an absolute divine immutability and independence as in conflict both with God’s knowledge of a changing creation and with human knowledge of God, and (d) two religiously inspired objections which contend that the thesis is contradictory to the biblical claim that God is personally related to the world. Part III develops the linguistic essence of the classical thesis through the syntactical insights of Sommers’ logic and defends it against the objections posed.
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13. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Philip Bashor Creation-Science Rhetoric: A Philosophical Examination
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This article presumes to achieve a relatively definitive philosophical treatment of the creation-science issue (concerning teaching evolution in the schools) identified as a complex and troublesome piece of public rhetoric requiring careful attention to a number of distinct points to gain an adequate response to it. Questions of fact, theory, logic, professional responsibility, human being, metaphysics, education, law, religion, and ethics are all critically examined with a sampling of pertinent sources. As an unexpected movement in our time creation-science rhetoric represents many conflicting interests, most significantly a confused but legitimate call for philosophical thinking which should not go unheeded.
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14. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
David M. Adams In Defense of the Autonomy of Rights
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Several philosophers, including most prominently Theodore Benditt, have recently urged that the discourse of rights, widely thought to be a central, if not foundational feature of moral and political thought, is in reality a mere “redundant” appendage---a discourse that holds no distinctive place in moral or legal reasoning owing to the fact that it is thoroughly derivative because collapsible into other forms of moral or legal language. In this paper I attempt to (1) flesh out this “Redundancy” Thesis (RT) and (2) identify and criticize at least two general arguments that might be thought to give rise to it: the claims that rights reduce (respectively) to duties (the Correlativity Thesis) or to permissions (the Permissibility Thesis). I try to show how and why these arguments fail and why they do not therefore support RT.
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15. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
David B. Boersema Is the Descriptivist / Cluster Theory of Reference “Wrong from the Fundamentals”?
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In this paper I suggest that Searle’s theory of reference is immune to the specific criticisms that have been levelled against it. I first present an overview of Searle’s “cluster” theory, followed by an overview of the Kripkean critique. I then examine in detail Kripke’s objections and suggest that they are not sufficient for a rejection of Searle’s theory. Finally, I consider several general objections to the cluster theory and argue that they, too, do not suffice to reject it.
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16. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Diane Barense On the Tense Structure of Conditionals
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When philosophers and linguists theorize about the nature of conditionals, they tend to make a number of assumptions about the linguistic structure of these sentences. For example, they almost invariably assume that conditionals have “antecedents” and “consequents” and that these have the structure of independent clauses. With a few exceptions, they assume that conditionals are categorized according to whether they are in the “indicative” or the “subjunctive” “mood”. However, rarely do they formulate criteria for identifying these moods, or for distinguishing between indicative and subjunctive conditionals.Through an analysis of the coordinated verb tense structures of the clauses of English conditionals, I challenge these and other related assumptions and show that the one relatively well-developed attempt to provide criteria for distinguishing between indicative and subjunctive conditionals---that of Gibbard (1980)---fails in its task. I then offer an alternative account of the linguistic structure of conditional constructions. To represent their structure I use first-order predicate logic with added devices to indicate deictic and anaphoric reference.
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17. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Douglas Lackey Modes of Individuation in Art
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Philosophers have developed various systems of individuation for handling questions of identity regarding works of art. But even a casual survey of different arts reveals that questions of individuation in one art form are markedly different from questions of individuation in another. Though distinctively philosophical concepts can go a short way in clarifying these issues, it is hardly likely that any single philosophical system can do justice to them all.
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18. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Edwin Curley Cavell and the Comedy of Remarriage
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This paper deals critically with Stanley Cavell’s Pursuits of Happiness, a study of seven film comedies from the 30’s and 40’s, among them The Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday, Adam’s Rib, and It Happened One Night. Negatively, I argue that Cavell’s interpretations of the films he deals with are often extravagant, if held to any objective standard; that his conception of the genre of the comedy of remarriage is highly arbitrary, both in its inclusions and exclusions, and in its contention that the genre does not have a history; and that the philosophy of marriage implicit in Cavell’s criticism is unsatisfactory in implying the illegitimacy of most existing marriages. Positively, I support his contentions that the genre has its roots in Shakespearean comedy and that the films often (sometimes quite consciously) raise the very difficult philosophical questions Cavell takes them to raise. Though I find much to disagree with, I contend that Cavell is writing criticism of the highest order.
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19. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Joel Feinberg Responsibility Tout Court
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One who is responsible tout court may be contrasted either with irresponsible persons or with non-responsible (incompetent) persons. Calling one responsible may be either merely describing, or it may be ascribing certain excellences of character. Praising a person for being generally responsible may indicate his/her willingness to take on new liability when s/he has a duty or responsibility to do so, or it may point to virtues which make for effective use of discretion, or it may be certification of moral trustworthiness. Common to all the states opposed to responsibility is a kind of unfitness for prospective or retrospective judgments of liability. Responsibility for . . . provides the contextual background for responsibilities tout court and also for the unity underlying their various ambiguities.One who is generally responsible in the “on balance” sense is responsible in all senses of the word. S/he is (all told) neither non-responsible, nor irresponsible, nor unresponsible and is a safe bet for assignments of prospective liability in virtue of good judgment, self-reliance, and trustworthiness. To describe him or her is to portray an ideal---not the only ideal that philosophical moralists have prescribed for human conduct and character---but an ideal peculiarly adapted to the needs of the modern world.
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20. Philosophy Research Archives: Volume > 14
Joel Feinberg Responsibility for the Future
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Prospective ascription of responsibility is hypothetical, commonly noting or setting conditions for critical judgment or liability if some event occurs or fails to occur, thus determining vulnerability to retrospective judgments. Prospective liabilities can be classified by source, by type or degree (if any) of accompanying control, and by structure or stages.But not all prospective responsibility can be understood in terms of liability. Actual or de facto control over X and/or responsibility for Y (persons, animals, inanimate things, etc.), though they may involve prospective liabilities, may not be responsibilities to any person in particular. Such responsibilities may be called responsibilities in rem and distinguished from those assignable to persons (responsibilities in personam).Though prospective responsibility judgments often provide the most important grounds for retrospective judgments, if the concern is with the meaning of responsibility judgments, retrospective responsibility judgments are more basic. For, while we can understand retrospective judgments even though we know nothing of prospective ones, the opposite is not true
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