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presidential address

1. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Joshua P. Hochschild

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presentation of the aquinas medal

2. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Mary C. Sommers

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plenary session

3. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Thomas Hibbs

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contributed papers

4. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Travis Dumsday

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The PDH is an argument for atheism that has generated a sizeable literature in recent analytic philosophy. However there are relatively few treatments of patristic, mediaeval, and early modern approaches to it. This short paper contributes to remedying this dearth as it pertains to the high middle ages, surveying some relevant material from Bonaventure (1217/1221–1274).
5. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Michael Wiitala

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6. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
William Rehg

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In his massive 2019 work on the history of the faith-reason discourse in the West, Habermas replies to Kant’s question of rational hope with the prospect of an eventual intercultural agreement on cosmopolitan principles of justice. To warrant such hope he points to the growth of democratic institutions and human rights across the globe. Habermas’s answer thus relies on political structures that foster transformative social movements—but not on modern moral attitudes, which he regards as too individualistic to generate collective action. I argue that Habermas, following Kant, relies on flawed assumptions about social movements. As a result, his structural approach provides an incomplete basis for hope. In the spirit of ongoing dialogue between religion and secular thought, I translate Aquinas’s treatment of fraternal correction into an ethics of moral leadership that can fill the gaps in Habermas’s project.
7. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Josh Taccolini

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One desideratum for contemporary theories of emotion both in philosophy and affective science is an explanation of the relation between emotions and objects that illicit them. According to one research tradition in emotion theory, the Evaluative Tradition, the explanation is simple: emotions just are evaluative judgments about their objects. Growing research in affective science support this claim suggesting that emotions constitute (or contribute to) evaluative judgments such as moral judgments about right and wrong. By contrast, recent scholarship in two historical emotion theories, Augustinian and Thomistic, emphasize their sharp distinction between cognitive judgments and affectivity or between reason and emotion. For these historical models, reason, not emotion, is responsible for moral judgment. Are the evaluative and historical models at irreconcilable odds? Should we discard old models that fail to satisfy intuitions about the intricate role of emotions in moral judgment? This paper compares these research programs and suggests a roadmap for collaboration.
8. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Joseph Gamache

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The present work argues that value is a properly philosophical concept, the study and understanding of which therefore requires philosophical inquiry. It does so by bringing together two, quite different, philosophers: R. G. Collingwood and Dietrich von Hildebrand. From the former, this work takes its account of what differentiates philosophical concepts. From the latter, it takes the concept of importance as differentiated into intrinsic value, objective goodness, and subjective satisfaction. After explicating the distinctive features of philosophical concepts (the intensional overlap of their classes and their situation on a “scale of forms”), it argues that, despite prima facie difficulties, von Hildebrand’s categories of importance can be arrayed as a scale of forms, in which the categories of importance are not only differences in kind, but also differences in degree. The overall result is one illustration of how philosophers can argue for philosophy’s special domain of competence.
9. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Matthew Pietropaoli

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10. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Ryan Michael Miller

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Effective Altruism is a rapidly growing and influential contemporary philosophical movement committed to updating utilitarianism in both theory and practice. The movement focuses on identifying urgent but neglected causes and inspiring supererogatory giving to meet the need. It also tries to build a broader coalition by adopting a more ecumenical approach to ethics which recognizes a wide range of values and moral constraints. These interesting developments distinguish Effective Altruism from the utilitarianism of the past in ways that invite cooperation and warrant a fresh look from Thomists. Nonetheless Effective Altruism’s fundamentally consequentialist and aggregative model for ethics precludes more foundational agreement with Thomistic ethics in ways that limit the extent of practical cooperation.
11. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Daniel Shields

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One of the standard objections against the impossibility of infinite regress is associated with David Hume and Paul Edwards, but originates with William Ockham. They claim that in an infinite regress every member of the series is explained, and nothing is unexplained. Every member is explained by the one before it, and the series as a whole is nothing over and above its members, and so needs no cause of its own. Utilizing the well-known Thomistic distinction between essentially ordered and accidentally ordered causal series, I show that the Hume-Edwards-Ockham objection fails to touch Aquinas’s argument against the impossibility of infinite regress in an essentially ordered series. However, Aquinas also argues that accidentally ordered causal series can only regress infinitely if supported by an everlasting essential cause. The Hume-Edwards-Ockham objection does raise a question about this thesis, but I show how St. Thomas can reply to it convincingly.
12. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Patrick Fisher

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Debates between contemporary platonist and nominalist conceptions of the metaphysical status of mathematical objects have recently included discussions of explanations of physical phenomena in which mathematics plays an indispensable role, termed mathematical explanations in science (MES). I will argue that MES requires an ontology that can (1) ground claims about mathematical necessity as distinct from physical necessity and (2) explain how that mathematical necessity applies to the physical world. I contend that nominalism fails to meet the first criterion and platonism the second. I then articulate an alternative, Aristotelian approach to mathematical objects and defend such a view as meeting both criteria.
13. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Daniel Patrick Moloney

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Christian Smith has described the religious attitudes of American youth and many adults as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. In this formulation the word “therapeutic” does much work, and is meant to indicate that the goal of life is to be happy, to which end religion is instrumental. Martha Nussbaum has argued that Hellenistic schools of philosophy were therapeutic and instrumental in much the same way, and that this is a possible mode of philosophy even today. Appealing to the historical investigations of Pierre Hadot and Giovanni Reale, this paper shows that Neoplatonism was an even more successful form of therapeutic philosophy, a fact which Augustine recognized and to which he responded in his therapeutic masterpiece Confessions, through his depiction of his mother as a sage. This suggests that Catholicism can be powerful when presented therapeutically, which might be a more appropriate mode for evangelism in our therapeutic age.
14. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Marie George, Marie George

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The systems perspective, as applied to biology, involves regarding organisms as systems consisting of biological molecules in motion; its goal is to determine which interacting molecules make up the organism and how their interactions change over time. I argue here that Nicanor Austriaco’s attempt at reformulating Aristotelian-Thomistic hylomorphism in terms of the systems perspective fails because it looks to systems biology to answer questions that only natural philosophy can answer. These questions include whether an organism is collection of parts having accidental unity or is a substance, what constitutes an emergent property, and what role the final cause plays in understanding organisms. In addition, insufficient attention is paid to the Aristotelian-Thomistic tenet that the soul can only be united to a suitably disposed body, namely, one with organs. Nothing is offered to show that this tenet can be accorded with a perspective that views organisms as networks of interacting molecules.
15. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
John Skalko

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Aquinas famously held that only intellectual beings can grasp the natures or essences of things and cognize universals per se. Below these intellectual beings, however, were the non-human animals who shared many of the interior sense faculties in common with man; such animals’ highest sense was merely what is called the estimative power. Aquinas’s account of animal cognition has largely been ignored in contemporary biological research, although hopes for a resurgence have been emerging in the Thomistic world. In this paper I seek to explicate Aquinas’s account of animal cognitive activities, particularly by explicating a more detailed account of animal cognitive action as found in the biological works of Aristotle known by Aquinas. I then turn to various contemporary biological findings to show that many purported modern discoveries (like dolphins rescuing a man or recognition of social hierarchies) shouldn’t be so surprising after all. Many such cognitive acts were already there in the texts of Aristotle read by Aquinas.
16. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
William Hannegan

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Understanding traditional natural law requires us to understand the concept of intrinsic nature, as well related concepts such as intrinsic inclination to an end and nature fulfillment. In this paper, I argue that proponents of traditional natural law theory should be attentive to the work of Martin Heidegger. If Heidegger is right about what he says concerning modern technology, then modern technology poses a threat to our understanding of the concept of intrinsic human nature and other associated concepts, and thus a threat to our understanding of natural law. Heidegger may also provide an insight into how proponents of traditional natural law can respond to the threat of modern technology. Advocates of traditional natural law theory can respond to the threat of modern technology by engaging in, and promoting, certain arts, trades, skills, and activities that reveal natures. I show that farming is a paradigmatic example.
17. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Harrison Lee

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Proponents of “broad scope” theories of intention argue that agents cannot intend to achieve given ends without intending certain inevitable or probable consequences. I shall argue that some Thomistic variants of these theories collapse into the Expectation View (EV), i.e., that we intend to produce all of the consequences that we expect to result from our actions. I shall then raise four objections to EV. First, EV falsely implies that we intend to produce all of the expected beneficial consequences of our actions. Second, EV falsely renders altruistic self-sacrifice a species of suicide. Third, EV falsely implies that medical interventions with probable fatalities must involve intentional killing even when, of the available options, they offer the most likely prospects of long-term survival. Fourth, EV falsely implies that foreseeably fatal actions must involve intentional killing even when they will foreseeably prolong the agent’s life before killing him.
18. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Marial Corona

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If philosophy is to be faithful to her calling to serve truth and humankind, she must remain a pupil, open to the enrichment that other sciences bestow on her. This paper highlights some insights from J. H. Newman and C. S. Peirce that can shed light on our understanding of philosophy as a servant to the truth. Newman and Peirce are suitable guides for this discussion since both cultivated their intellect in various disciplines, which informed their philosophical contributions. It begins by exploring how Newman and Peirce conceived philosophy as a science. Then, it discusses their views on the unity of science, which further qualify their thoughts on philosophy. Finally, it enounces some consequences for the study of philosophy which their contributions suggest. Among many others, Newman and Peirce stand out as courageous defenders of the truth and have much to contribute to the timeless conversation of philosophy.
19. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95
Francis Feingold

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Pascal, in his Pensées, applies philosophy to a theological problem: reconciling (a) Christianity’s demand for absolute faith with both (b) the motives of credibility’s inability to justify absolute faith on their own and (c) the moral obligation to avoid superstition. This reconciliation hinges upon distinguishing two cognitive faculties: reason, and the heart. I will first discuss Pascal’s view of the difference between reason and the heart, and specifically how they each relate to evidence and certainty: reason discursively and probabilistically, the heart holistically and with certitude. Then I turn to Pascal’s view of the role which the heart plays in religious faith, and apply this view to the problem of basing absolute assent on limited evidence. Finally, I will examine Pascal’s view of reason’s important supporting role in faith, and apply it to the obligation to avoid superstitious belief

acpa report and minutes

20. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 95

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