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61. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Blake Hereth

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Stand Your Ground laws have prompted frequent and sustained legal and ethical reflection on self-defense. Two primary views have emerged in the literature: the Stand Your Ground View and the Retreat View. On the former view, there is no presumptive moral requirement to retreat even if one can do so safely. According to the latter view, there is such a requirement. I offer a novel argument against the Stand Your Ground View. In cases where retreat or the infliction of defensive harm would be equally efficacious in protecting the rights of an individual, one cannot intend either simply as a means, since there is no means-relevant reason for choosing one over the other. Thus, if one intends to inflict defensive harm, one intends the infliction of defensive harm as an end. Because it is always wrong to intend harm for its own sake, there is a presumptive requirement to retreat.

62. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Jonathan Yahalom

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This article reviews the work of philosopher Emmanuel Levinas to explore caregiving for dementia. It defends a dual thesis whereby it first articulates how Levinas provides a phenomenological description to account for why caregiving is subjectively dreadful and, second, how caregiving invites a fresh re-reading of Levinasian thought. The article introduces two different forms of otherness represented by death and dementia, respectively. This re-reading shows how dementia forces us to more immediately reckon with the intensity Levinas attributes to the nature of human interaction. The article concludes with reflections about what dementia suggests about cultural attitudes towards responsibility and implications for caregiving practice.

63. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Michael Goerger

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Many are disturbed by acts of simulated violent portrayed in contemporary video games. In this essay, I ask if violent gameplay is meaningful or significant outside of the gaming context. Following a recent discussion of the meaning of actions by T.M. Scanlon, I argue for two interrelated theses. First, I claim that in-game actions are only meaningful when the considerations and reasons that drive in-game actions are the same as those that drive analogous actions outside of the game-world. Second, I argue that this condition rarely holds because the gameworld creates a unique context in which the reasons and considerations that drive action are significantly altered. I conclude that violent video gameplay can be but is rarely meaningful outside of the gaming context.

64. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Jeffrey Hankey

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In a novel synthesis of Judith Butler’s social ontology, Rosi Braidotti’s posthumanism, Simon Critchley’s reading of Heidegger’s ontology of indebtedness, and my own system of ontic impunity premised on the illusion of free will, I make a case for a reframing—or perhaps an unframing—of the human. This unframing imbues those largely denied recognizability as human—such as pedophiles and Muslim civilian casualties of the war on terror—with a dignity and grievability denied them by the dominant ecumenical, Western epistemology of causa sui (the soul). It also forces us to consider the tenuous distinction between human and non-human animals. Finally, I offer some concluding thoughts on the meaning of authenticity as wanting-to-have-a-conscience.

65. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Geoff Pfeifer, Taine Duncan

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With all of exciting changes happening with the Journal, we thought a joint interview of one another might be a great way to highlight the vision and mission for Philosophy in the Contemporary World moving forward. This edition is our first edition to be printed fully online, a practice we look forward to ensuring accessibility and worldwide access for subscribers. We also wish to acknowledge our appreciation of the patience of all who follow, read, and subscribe to our journal. Infrastructure changes and a reprint have caused us some publication delays. However, we are very excited about the future to come here at the journal!

66. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Charles Harvey, Christian Matheis

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The Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary World maintains a commitment to pluralism in philosophical discourse by encouraging original, unconventional research with regard to contemporary concerns. Among our members, few have championed this commitment more steadfastly than the late Joe Frank Jones III who passed away in January 2015 while planning our annual meeting. Joe had spent a number of years advocating for and developing a graduate-level Bioethics Certificate at Radford University, his home institution. The certificate came to life in 2014, after which Joe and Christian Matheis (Virginia Tech and Radford University) proposed to co-host the next SPCW meeting on what would become this issue’s prototypical namesake: “America the Bioethical: Vitality, Trauma, and Questions of Bioethics in the 21st Century.” Following Joe’s death, both Christian and Charles W. Harvey (University of Central Arkansas) carried on planning the conference with Joe’s vision as a guide.

67. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Ralph D. Ellis

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Naturalism does not necessarily imply an exclusive emphasis on the notoriously fickle empathic emotions. Contemporary neurobiological emotion research strongly suggests that the search for moral meaning, like any other everyday truth-seeking activity, is motivated not only by altruistic instincts or social conditioning, but also and more importantly it is motivated by a basic exploratory drive that makes us want to know what the truth is, independently of whether we happen to feel altruistic or nurturing in a particular instance. This innate biological drive is not socially learned or developed through reinforcement, yet it motivates us to try to find out what we really ought to do. That the love of truth is innate has survival value, yet does not lead to the naturalistic fallacy, as do the more frequently cited “moral” emotions such as sympathy and fellow-feeling. The endogenous love of truth, qua natural emotion, does not lead to the vacuous conclusion that “We ought to act morally because (and only if) we naturally feel altruistic in a given situation.”

68. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Melissa Burchard

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I argue that rule-based decision-making models are desired because thought to create certainty. I then raise a number of problems with this assumption. Desiring certainty, and relying on rules to obtain it, leads to inconsistency in decision-making, and atrophy of moral imagination. I draw a parallel between Dworkin’s principles-based models in legal theory and Beauchamp and Childress’ in medical ethics. These models are more successful because they can account for more moral intuitions, and do not encourage us to hide our intuitions. Still, feminist ethics challenge the possibility of certainty even more radically, moving in the direction of moral imagination and care.

69. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Janet Donohoe

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In much of the contemporary situation for trans* persons, authority over identity has been given to, or perhaps taken by, arbiters of the medico-legal discourse. These identity “experts” have become the gatekeepers for sex reassignment and gender designation. Alternatively, many theorists argue that identity is exclusively about first-person appeals to one’s own sense of oneself. I show here that neither of these accounts does justice to our experience. Instead, drawing upon Hans Georg Gadamer’s notion of horizons, I outline a position where first-person and third-person accounts of the meaning of the body can meet somewhere in the middle. Such a position, characterized by a hermeneutics of the body, mediates between the phenomenological first-person while still recognizing the third-person view of the body as relevant. Approaching the body through a hermeneutic process allows us to find a place where we can all be open to different performances of gender and different particular bodily actions that recognize the bodies of us all as a combination of sedimented styles of action within social discourses.

70. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Jack Weir

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Using conclusions from contemporary evolutionary biology and psychology, I defend a new argument for the moral permissibility of abortion. My analysis shows the falsity of some of the empirical and moral claims in two popular and widely anthologized anti-abortion articles, one by the judge and legal scholar John T. Noonan (1970) and the other by the moral philosopher Don Marquis (1989). My argument builds on my criticisms of Noonan and Marquis. People are contingent emergent beings, and cannot be reduced to their DNA or fetus. My analysis of four theses, two for males and two for females, shows that the absence of consent is enough to establish every woman's broad moral right to terminate unwanted pregnancies. A final section presents the conclusion and responds to two important objections.

71. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Lani Roberts

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The philosophical treatment of abortion has rarely placed actual women at the center of the discussion. This essay argues that moral decisions are made by actual persons and a woman, as a person, is more than a breeder of humans. Drawing on an analogy with the treatment of light in quantum physics, it also argues that the status of a fertilized ovum is indeterminate, often dependent on the context of the woman's life.

72. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Robert Metcalf

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This essay argues for a distinction between bioethics in the customary sense and the “bioethical”—where the latter involves exploration of disturbing literary and/or artistic material. The “bioethical” signifies an affective and imaginative sphere in which we experience the mattering-to-us-morally of other human beings and non-human animals. The essay further argues that Cormac McCarthy’s writings allow us to explore the bioethical, with certain philosophical implications of this discussed in detail.

73. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Robert Paul Churchill

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The United States is now relying on Reaper and Predator drone strikes as its primary strategy in the continuing “war on terrorism.” This paper argues for the rational scrutiny drone warfare has not yet received. Rather than a Just War critique, my focus is on the rhetoric used to justify drone warfare as the technologically most efficient and militarily appropriate response to terrorist threats. This rationalizing rhetoric evokes mythical claims about American exceptionalism. Myths in turn trigger linguistic frames that have the effect of subverting rational thinking about the ethical uses of technology and the best ways of defending America from terrorists. I conclude by noting the seriousness of this investigation for the present debate over armed drone warfare, for—given the reasons I present—rather than a long-term reduction in the likelihood of terrorists strikes, the U.S.’s reliance on armed drones strikes threatens to institutionalize terrorism as the status quo for the foreseeable future.

74. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Caroline Meline

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The aim of this paper is to help clarify the debate about whether human morality is continuous or discontinuous with nonhuman animal behavior by contrasting partiality and impartiality as moral terms. The problem for evolutionary ethicists, who derive ethics from human evolutionary history, is that only partiality, the practice of extending care and moral consideration to one’s in-group, can be accounted for by natural selection and therefore shown to be continuous with nonhuman animal behavior. Impartiality, the ideal of applying moral standards equally to all humans, on the other hand, cannot be accounted for by natural selection. A conceptual gap, or saltatory leap, thus opens up between behaviors classified morally as partial or impartial, pointing to a conclusion of discontinuity in explaining the origin of morality. Frans de Waal’s 2006 book Primates and Philosophers, How Morality Evolved, takes up this issue, with de Waal arguing for the evolutionary position, continuity, even while upholding impartiality as the highest form of morality. His opponents are “veneer theorists,” who view morality, generally, as a uniquely human construction, required in order to overcome base and selfish desires. De Waal entertains critical responses to his discussion by several thinkers, and I consider that of Peter Singer. I also look to the neuropsychological research of Joshua Greene and Jonathan Haidt, as does de Waal, for help with the apparent evolutionary gap between partial and impartial moral beliefs but do not find a solution. Finally, I suggest other ways of rescuing the continuity thesis.

75. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Charles W. Harvey

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This paper sketches the history of unethical behavior of Homo sapiens to other forms of life on planet Earth. I ask, and sketch responses to, the question: How and why is it that we, the so-called “ethical animal,” have been the worst of all animals in relation to other life-forms on our planet? In response to the answers to this question, I claim that we know, and have known for a very long time, what it means to be morally good. But in light of the natural bases of our behavior, I wonder if it will ever be possible for us, as a species, to become so.

76. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Amrita Banerjee, Bonnie Mann

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PCW Editors’ Comments: In this volume we are privileged to publish a special edition on mothering from the margins. The guest editors Amrita Banerjee and Bonnie Mann have collected a range of submissions representing original and insightful perspectives on motherhood.

77. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Diana Carolina Peláez Rodríguez

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This paper is about the experience of Mexican women deported to Tijuana, especially those who are mothers, and how they live the forced separation from their family. First, the phenomenon of family separation in migration is explained and then contrasted with the separation due to deportation and the moral harm produced in mothers in both cases; then there is a closer look to the meanings deported women give to the separation and finally I will posit that motherhood as they know it, suffers a fracture, a dislocation that leaves them with barely no resources to resignify it. A third discussion goes deeper in their options of family reunification; and finally a characterization of Transnational Motherhood in Deportation is given, in order to highlight an understanding of this non-normative mothering perspective. Along the way, testimonies of some of the women I encountered in my visits will support the arguments.

78. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Harrod J. Suarez

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This essay explores different versions of motherhood in Jessica Hagedorn’s Dream Jungle, in which the protagonist, Lina, is exposed to, influenced by, and recruited into arguably nationalist and global forms as she navigates the fictionalized filming of Apocalypse Now in the 1970s Philippines. But upon deciding to leave the film set and the nation to go to the U.S., Lina derives insight from alternative sources that enable her to reimagine a diasporic maternal position, one that negotiates her relationship to her child and the Philippines while placing nationalist and global motherhood under erasure.

79. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Shirley Glubka

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The author is a lesbian poet, novelist, and essayist who chose to give up the daily parenting of her three-year-old son in 1973 and who has written about the experience over the decades. She is also a woman who reads philosophy. Now, from the perspective of her older years and in the light of philosophy, she once again considers her relationship to motherhood. This is a personal essay: descriptive, meditative, and creative.

80. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Bonnie Mann

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In this article, I examine transracial adoption in which the parents are white and gay or lesbian in the context of an America coming to tolerate, accept, embrace, and even celebrate gay family life, while increasingly retreating from basic aspirations to race-based equality and fairness. It is about the narratives of whiteness that accompany transracial adoption, and that claim families in ways that cause harm. It is also about patriotic nationalism in post 9/11 USA, and the story of sexual progressiveness that has infused our national imaginary in complex and paradoxical ways over the last decade. We are called on to account for the costs of allowing our commitments to justice in relation to race and sexuality to become fragmented.