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1. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 33
James Stacey Taylor Harming the Dead
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It is widely accepted that a person can be harmed by events that occur after her death. The most influential account of how persons can suffer such posthumous harm has been provided by George Pitcher and Joel Feinberg. Yet, despite its influence (or perhaps because of it) the Feinberg-Pitcher account of posthumous harm has been subject to several well-known criticisms. Surprisingly, there has been no attempt to defend this account of posthumous harm against these criticisms, either by philosophers who work on the metaphysics of death or by those who draw upon this account of posthumous harm in their work in other philosophical fields. This paper will rectify this omission, by defending this view against the criticisms it has been subject to—a defense that will both be of intrinsic interest to those who work on the metaphysics of death and that will remedy the lacunae in the wide-ranging philosophical literature that draws upon this account of how posthumous harm is possible.
2. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 33
David E. W. Fenner Formalism and the Consumable Arts
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In a series of recent papers, Professor Nick Zangwill has returned our attention to the merits of aesthetic formalism. In this paper, I seek to support formalism as an approach to understanding what counts as an aesthetic property by considering how this approach serves to illuminate identity conditions and critical assessment of a subset of allographic works of art I label “consumable”; these are works that exist as token art objects (as contrasted with art works) only within thetemporal duration of their being reproduced and presented to their audiences. I look at three sorts of consumable art forms: food, theater plays, and dance.
3. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 33
Anthony T. Flood Epistemic Badness
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In this paper, I challenge Casey Swank’s claim that what makes epistemic vices bad are deeper personal vices and not anything specifically epistemic. I argue that epistemic vices are bad on account of a lack of a good epistemic motive. Consequently, the source of the badness is specifically epistemic. I develop my argument through a consideration of Aquinas’s accounts of wonder and presumption, namely that what makes the latter bad is the lack of something thatthe former possesses. I then analyze some representative epistemic virtues and vices in terms of the presence or privation of certain good epistemic motives. Finally, on the basis of the logic of the privation of something that should be present, I argue that a given vice’s lack of a good epistemic motive specifies the kind of badness present. In the case of an epistemic vice, then, the source of the problem is something specifically epistemic.
4. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 33
Peter Murphy Rewriting the A Priori/A Posteriori Distinction
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The traditional way of drawing the a priori/a posteriori distinction, bequeathed to us by Kant, leads to overestimating the role that experience plays in justifying ourbeliefs. There is an irony in this: though Kant was in the rationalist camp, his way of drawing the distinction gives an unfair advantage to radical empiricism. I offer an alternative way of drawing the distinction, one that does not bias the rationalist/empiricist debate.
5. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 33
Gianluca Di Muzio Aristotle’s Alleged Moral Determinism in the Nicoachean Ethics
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Did Aristotle believe that upbringing determines character, and character, in turn, determines action? Some scholars answer this question in the affirmative and thus read Aristotle as a determinist with little use for the idea that people are morally responsible for what they do. The present paper counters this interpretation by showing that a deterministic reading of Aristotle’s theory of action and character is indefensible in the face of the text. The author points to three main facts: (1)a passage in the Nicomachean Ethics shows conclusively that Aristotle did not regard upbringing as determining moral character; (2) the doctrine of character expounded in Nicomachean Ethics III does not entail that people can only act in conformity with their moral dispositions, and (3) Aristotle viewed alternatepossibilities as genuinely open to moral agents, not as available to them only in principle (i.e., if they had received a different upbringing or had had different beliefs and desires).
6. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 33
Gurpreet Rattan On the Value and Nature of Truth
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The thought that truth is valuable for its own sake is obvious, yet difficult to explicate in a precise and vindicating way. The paper tries to explicate and vindicate this thought with an argument for the conclusion that truth is an epistemic value. Truth is an epistemic value in the sense that a commitment to the value of truth plays a role in the justification and explanation of a fundamental aspect of our epistemic practice, namely, critical reflection. The paper also argues that this feature of truth is inconsistent with deflationary accounts of truth. The ideas are set against the backdrop of criticism of some recent work by Paul Horwich.
7. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 34
D. Blake Roeber Does the Theist Have an Epistemic Advantage over the Atheist?: Plantinga and Descartes on Theism, Atheism, and Skepticism
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Recent iterations of Alvin Plantinga’s “evolutionary argument against naturalism” bear a surprising resemblance to a famous argument in Descartes’s Third Meditation. Both arguments conclude that theists have an epistemic advantage over atheists/naturalists vis-à-vis the question whether or not our cognitive faculties are reliable. In this paper, I show how these arguments bear an even deeper resemblance to each other. After bringing the problem of evil to bear negatively on Descartes’s argument, I argue that, given these similarities, atheists can wield a recent solution to the problem of evil against theism in much the way Plantinga wields the detailsof evolutionary theory against naturalism. I conclude that Plantinga and Descartes give us insufficient reason for thinking theists are in a better epistemic position than atheists and naturalists vis-à-vis the question whether or not our cognitive faculties are reliable.
8. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 34
Theresa Weynand Tobin Taming Augustine’s Monstrosity: Aquinas’s Notion of Use in the Struggle for Moral Growth
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In Book VI of his Confessions, Saint Augustine offers a detailed description of one of the most famous cases of weakness of will in the history of philosophy. Augustine characterizes his experience as a monstrous situation in which he both wills and does not will moral growth, but he is at odds to explain this phenomenon. In this paper, I argue that Aquinas’s action theory offers important resources for explaining Augustine’s monstrosity. On Aquinas’s schema, human acts are composed of various operations of intellect and will, and thus are subject to disintegration. In order to capture the gap in human action between making choices to pursue particular goals and translating those choices into behavior, Aquinas distinguishes between two operations of will that he calls choice and use. I apply hisdistinction between choice and use to Augustine’s case, arguing that Augustine’s moral weakness is a result of will’s failure to use its choices. The central thesis of this paper is that Augustine’s monstrosity is a bona fide case of weakness of will that is best explained as a failure in use at the level of will.
9. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 34
Dimitri Ginev From Existential Conception of Science to Hermeneutic Phenomenology of Scientific Research
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This paper is an assessment of the key debates on Heidegger’s existential conception of science. It relates the topics to contemporary problems in the philosophy of the natural sciences, providing the reader with a framework to evaluate various versions of hermeneutic phenomenology of scientific research as alternatives to both, naturalistic and normativeepistemological conceptions of scientific research. The paper delineates a context of constitution that is irreducible to the context-distinction between discovery and justification. In this context, the tenets of the doctrine of cognitive existentialism are formulated.
10. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 34
Christian Miller The Conditions of Moral Realism
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My aim is to provide an account of the conditions of moral realism whereby there are still significant metaphysical commitments made by the realist that set the view apart as a distinct position in the contemporary meta-ethical landscape. In order to do so, I will be appealing to a general account of what it is for realism to be true in any domain of experience, whether it be realism about universals, realism about unobservable scientific entities, realism about artifacts, and so forth. If the result is an informative taxonomy of meta-ethical positions, which can isolate something that is still at stake between the rival positions, then such a result should be of significant interest to philosophers working in this area.
11. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 34
Christoph Kelp Knowledge and Safety
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This paper raises a problem for so-called safety-based conceptions of knowledge: It is argued that none of the versions of the safety condition that can be found in the literature succeeds in identifying a necessary condition on knowledge. Furthermore, reason is provided to believe that the argument generalizes at least in the sense that there can be no version of the safety condition that does justice to the considerations motivating a safety condition whilst, at the same time, being requisite for knowledge.
12. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 34
Mark McEvoy The Lottery Puzzle and Pritchard’s Safety Analysis of Knowledge
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The safety analysis of knowledge, due to Duncan Pritchard, has it that for all contingent propositions, p, S knows that p iff S believes that p, p is true, and (the “safety principle”) in most nearby worlds in which S forms his belief in the same way as in the actual world, S believes that p only if p is true. Among the other virtues claimed by Pritchard for this view is its supposed ability to solve a version of the lottery puzzle. In this paper, I argue that the safety analysis of knowledge in fact fails to solve the lottery puzzle. I also argue that a revised version of the safety principle recently put forward by Pritchard fares no better.
13. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 34
Robert Sinclair Why Quine is Not an Externalist
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This essay reconsiders the place of meaning within Quine’s naturalism. It takes as its point of departure Davidson’s claim that Quine’s linguistic behaviorism entails a form of semantic externalism. It then further locates this claim within the Davidson-Quine debate concerning whether the proximal or distal stimulus is the relevant determinant of semantic content. An interpretation of Quine’s developing views on translation and epistemology is defended that rejects Davidson’s view that Quine be read as a proto-externalist. Quine’s empirical evaluation of translation entails no positive theoretical doctrine concerning how meaning is determined, but concludes that communication is a theoretically unquantifiable practical art or skill. Moreover, his ongoing epistemological development highlights theoretical concerns that diverge in fundamental ways from Davidson’s interest in semantics. Quine then hasreasons for resisting the entailment to semantic externalism that Davidson finds in his work. These reasons should have also ledhim to question the scientific legitimacy of Davidson’s concern with content determination.
14. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 34
David Rondel Liberalism, Ethnocentrism, and Solidarity: Reflections on Rorty
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In this paper I defend Richard Rorty against two critics of his moral and political philosophy—Will Kymlicka and Robert Talisse—to whom Rorty himself never responded directly. I argue that Kymlicka misrepresents Rorty’s so-called “ethnocentrism” by giving it a needlessly affirmative reading, and that Talisse, by failing to appreciate the distinction between “making truth claims” and “proposing experiments” misunderstands both Rorty’s use of Darwin and his antifoundational liberalism.
15. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 34
Eric Marcus Why There Are No Token States
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The thesis that mental states are physical states enjoys widespread popularity. After the abandonment of typeidentity theories, however, this thesis has typically been framed in terms of state tokens. I argue that token states are a philosopher’s fiction, and that debates about the identity of mental and physical state tokens thus rest on a mistake.
16. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 34
Paul Formosa Kant on the Limits of Human Evil
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Kant has often been accused of being far too “optimistic” when it comes to the extremes of evil that humans can perpetrate upon one another. In particular, Kant’s supposed claim that humans cannot choose evil qua evil has struck many people as simply false. Another problem for Kant, or perhaps the same problem in another guise, is his supposed claim that all evil is done for the sake of self-love. While self-love might be a plausible way to explain some instances of evil, it seems to be an implausible way to explain instances where people imprudently act in senselessly destructive and even self-destructive ways. Can Kant handle such extreme cases of moral evil? I shall argue that Kant can handle such cases by: (1) defending Kant’s denial of the possibility of a devilish human being; (2) showing how Kant can conceptually account for agents who choose evil qua evil, and (3) putting Kant’s account of passions to work inorder to understand self-destructive evil.
17. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 34
Mark McEvoy Safety, The Lottery Puzzle, and Misprinted Lottery Results
18. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 34
Christopher Buford Contextualism, Closure, and the Knowledge Account of Assertion
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This paper argues that Epistemic Contextualism, Knowledge Closure, and the Knowledge Account of Assertion are inconsistent. The argument is developed by considering an objection to Contextualism that is unsuccessful. Some Contextualist responses are canvassed and rejected. Finally, it is argued that an analogue of the inconsistency arises for those who accept that justification is closed under known entailment.
19. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 34
David Hunter Beliefs and Dispositions
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This paper is about the dispositional difference that demonstrative and indexical beliefs make. More specifically, it is about the dispositional difference between my believing that NN is P (where I am NN) and my believing that I, myself, am P. Identifying a dispositional difference in this kind of case is especially challenging because those beliefs have the very same truth conditions. My question is this: how can a difference in belief that makes no difference to one’s conception of the world nonetheless make a difference to one’s actions and reactions? I will argue that the dispositions associated with indexical beliefs are best of thought of as likebelief revision policies: they make no difference to the content of our conception of the world, but they govern how we canchange and revise that conception, and in so doing contribute to making rational action possible. Seeing all of this will help usto better understand how it is that first-person indexical beliefs manifest self-consciousness.
20. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 34
Jeremy Kirby Subterranean Epistemic Blues
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I enter a debate herein concerning the role that Plato’s Forms are thought to play in the epistemic lives of everyday people. While some scholars believe that the Forms play a major role in everyday thinking, others maintain that their part is very minor. The latter view, I contend, is the more tenable. I argue that recent attempts to draw upon the Republic to establish the former are not only unsuccessful, but they tip the scale in favor of the latter.