The Open Session
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The Open Session by Discipline
Zsolt Batori Photographic abstraction in 'La huerta y la ciudad': A case study
Jamie Cawthra Puzzles, Narrative and Narrative Puzzles
Karl Egerton Cunning plans and representation in fiction
Jonathan Gingerich Freedom, Perception, and Possibility in Mrs Dalloway
Milena Ivanova What is a Beautiful Experiment?
James Lewis Aesthetic interaction in interpersonal relations
Inês Morais Modern Philosophy of Art
Matthew Rowe Categoeis of Art as Rules of Games - Why Soccer is so Successful
Uku Tooming Knowing When to Stop
Audrey Anton Vicious Ignorance According to Aristotle
Gennady McCracken On the Membership Objection to Aristotelian Naturalism
Jack Robert Coopey Origins of Analytic Philosophy in New Platonism
Wolfgang Sattler Aristotle on Substance as being Primary in Time
Ian Church Three Models for Non-Reductive Virtue Epistemology
Chloé de Canson The Relevance of Awareness
Jack Herbert A Problem for Reliabilists about Testimony
Matthew Jope Risk Pluralism and Anti-Risk Epistemology
Maiya Jordan Self-Deception: Conflating the Real with the Imaginary
Andrei Marasoiu Need grasp be conscious?
Neri Marsili Beyond Testimony: Speech acts and the epistemology of communication
Lisa McNulty How (Not) To Think Like Sherlock Holmes
Diego Rodriguez Tellez Answerability for believing is necessary for epistemic responsibility
Matthew Simpson Structured Propositions and Universal Generalisations
Ema Sullivan-Bissett Virtually Imagining our Biases
Simon Wimmer No evidence for a thin entailment thesis
History of Philosophy
Simon-Pierre Chevarie-Cossette HISTORICISM AND THE CONSTITUTION CHALLENGE
Nicholas Currie Kant, Quantifiers, and Numerical Cognition
Tom Fawcett A Cock to Asclepius: Nietzsche and the Problem of Socrates
Brian Ball Reflections on Interpretationism
Arvid Båve Structured propositions and their truth conditions
Tom Beevers Why 'bachelor' can't mean 'unmarried male'
Gregor Damschen Modal Truthmaker Paradox Against Jago’s Truthmaker Maximalism
Anton Didikin and Vitaly Ogleznev LINGUISTIC ANALYSIS AND OPEN TEXTURE: RETHINKING WAISMANN’S ARGUMENTS
Will Gamester Belief is not enough: why going hybrid doesn't solve the Frege-Geach problem
Markus Herrmann Husserl and Strawson on Intersubjectivity: A Postulate of Subject Templates
Wai Lok Cheung Epistemic Content: Stalnaker versus Kripke
Josep Macià Expression, Evidence and the Gricean account of speaker meaning
Todd Moody The CALU Argument
" Accommodation and Attitudinal Change in Psychotherapy
Lee Walters Kripke on Empty Names
Tiger Zheng Sensitive Moral Semantics: Neo-Aristotelian Ethical Naturalism and Context Shifting Arguments
Moral and Political Philosophy
Andrei Bespalov Civic Friendship vs. Public Reason
Dominik Boll Randomising at Rationality's Confines? A Critique of Martin Peterson's Money-Pump Arguments on Incomparability
Pascal Brixel Incentives Compromise Autonomy
Daniele Bruno Value-Based Accounts of Normative Powers and The Wishful Thinking Objection
Deven Burks Digital privacy and social norms: A meso-level approach
Susanne Burri A Subjective Impermissibility Account of Liability to Defensive Harm
Alexandra Couto The Apology Paradox, The Beneficiary Pays Principle and the Bourgeois Predicament
Nicolas Delon Drawing the lines of moral status
Richard Gibson The Cryonic-Refugee: Appropriate Analogy or Confusing Rhetoric?
Johann Go The Expressive Function of Healthcare
Michael Hannon Are Smarter Voters Better Voters?
Daniel Hill, Stephen McLeod and Atila Tanyi Entrapment, Temptation, and Virtue Testing
Alex Kaiserman What's Wrong with Prepunishment?
Maximilian Kiener When Does Coercion Invalidate Consent?
Alkis Kotsonis A Study on the Nature of Civic Vice
Timothy Kwiatek Is Private Praise Possible?
Lawrence Lengbeyer COUNTING ON CONSCIENCE: SIX DEGREES OF HESITATION
Chong-Ming Lim The legitimate targets of political disobedience
Kida Lin Responsibility and the Moral Significance of Intervening Agency
Kritika Maheshwari Extinction Risk and Scanlon's Contractualism
Thomas Mitchell Trustworthiness as Person-Specific Reliability
Harish Narayanan Born to Suffer: Evaluating the Asymmetry Argument for Antinatalism
Elisa Paganini Fiction and Immorality
Elliot Porter Affirmative Platforming
Ben Saunders Licensing Voters without Exclusions
Matthew Scarfone The Disunity of Moral Judgments
Daniel Sharp Exit and Equality in a World of States
Elliott Thornley Is Global-Consequentialism More Expressive Than Act-Consequentialism?
Charlotte Unruh Choosing Where to Give
Daniel Vanello AN ARGUMENT AGAINST HILLS' NOTION OF MORAL UNDERSTANDING
Philosophy of Mind & Action
Roxana Baiasu Phenomenology of Illness and Well-being: A Meaning-Centered Approach
Tom Baker Realist Error Theories of Colour
Michael Barkasi Perception as experience of the past
Alessandra Buccella The Problem of Invariance
Mary Carman Emotional commitments and rational agency
Zsuzsanna Chappell Interacting with Ourselves: Four Aspects of the Self We Can Act Upon
Luke Elson Kahane's Wager
J.C. Espejo-Serna Radically enactive computation without representation
Laura Fearnley Moral Worth, Right Reasons and Counterfactuals
Jacopo Frascaroli Predictive Processing and Aesthetic Experience
Nir Fresco and Marty Wolf Which Teleological Function can Explain Computation in Both Biological and Artificial Systems?
Camil Golub Quasi-naturalism and the Problem of Alternative Normative Concepts
Savvas Ioannou Conceptual Reduction without Necessary and Sufficient Conditions: A Truthmaking Approach
Jay Jian Parasitic Valuing
Marta Jorba The Affordance Model of Inner Speech
Rebecca Keller Expectation in Perception
Luke Kersten How (Not) to Knit Your Markov Blanket
Claire Kirwin Sympathy for the Devil?: The Guise of the Good Remastered
Polaris Koi Accessing self-control
Lawrence Lengbeyer Counting on Conscience: Six Degrees of Hesitation
Max Lewis The Puzzle of Requesting Evaluative Action
David Lindeman Can Keith Frankish believe that he is an illusionist?
Victor Loughlin Radical Enactivism and Aspect Perception
Katsunori Miyahara and Seisuke Hayakawa Empathic perspective-taking, mental simulation, and receptivity
Alex Moran Disjunctivism and the causal conditions of hallucination
Thomas Mulligan The Rational Response to Excessive Confidence
Kathleen Murphy-Hollies The Vulnerability of Virtuous Behaviour to Everyday Confabulation
Karol Polcyn The Intuition of Distinctness and the Use-Mention Feature of Phenomenal Concepts
Elisabetta Sacchi Can concepts be identified with phenomenal types?
Francesca Secco Why is creative thinking praiseworthy?
Antonina Shachar The Myth of Personal Identity: The Self as Embodied and Incomplete
Błażej Skrzypulec Multimodal pains
Samuel Taylor Causation and Cognition: An Epistemic Approach
Philosophy of Religion
Nicholas Effingham Fission Theories of Original Sin
Roberto Fumagalli Against the Principle of Secular Motivation
Philip Goff Is the Fine-Tuning Evidence for a Multiverse?
Nuno Filipe Mendes da Silva Maia (Nuno Maia) Against Theistic Modal Realism: An Argument From Impossible Worlds
Philosophy of Science
Sharon BerryThe Mathematical Nominalist's Real Problem With Physical Magnitudes
Mark HofmanNatural Regularity and Determinism
The Open Session by Discipline
Click their name to see the full talk.
Vicious Ignorance According to Aristotle
Abstract: For Aristotle, only one type of ignorance excuses bad actions: ignorance of the particulars. Another type—general moral ignorance—is characteristic of the vicious person. Far from being exculpatory, vicious ignorance is itself an offense. In this paper, I argue that vicious ignorance is voluntarily acquired, as it was possible for the vicious to avoid becoming ignorant. Furthermore, one must recognize that vicious ignorance is a type of privation. Finally, as a privation and as a result of how it is acquired, vicious ignorance is pernicious and, as a result, the vicious cannot correct ...
Phenomenology of Illness and Well-being: A Meaning-Centered Approach
In this paper I am concerned with certain phenomenological contributions to person-centred practices in healthcare which can work in partnership with evidence-based approaches. I propose a meaning-centred phenomenological approach to illness (which complements body-centred and feeling-centred accounts such as those proposed by Havi Carel and Matthew Ratcliffe, respectively). I pursue this approach to develop an understanding of illness as involving a breakdown or loss of meaning. However, I point out that at the heart of illness lies the possibility of resilience. Resilience is understood ...
Realist Error Theories of Colour
This paper has four main aims. The first aim is to outline two different ways in which visual experience can involve error regarding colour: ways which have not been clarified in the literature. The first type of error is error of instantiation, whereby an object is represented as instantiating a colour it does not instantiate. The second type of error is error of aspect, whereby a colour is represented as having a metaphysical aspect (such as being subject-independent) which it lacks. The second aim is to outline how an experience can involve an error of aspect without involving an error of instantiation. The basic thought is that an experience can veridically attribute a colour to an object but nonetheless represent the colour as having an aspect that it lacks. The third aim is to use the distinctions to illuminate a new type of theory regarding the relationship between visual experience and colours: realist error theories of colour. Realist error theories say that colour experiences universally involve errors of aspect but do not universally involve errors of instantiation. And the fourth aim is to sketch a promising realist error theory – the unification theory – which says that colours are subject-dependent properties which are universally misrepresented as subject-independent.
Reflections on Interpretationism
In this paper I explore some questions arising in relation to interpretationist accounts of attitudes, contents, and the metaphysics of meaning. Starting from Lewis’ (1974) account, I suggest a tension in his view with the reductionist ambitions inherent in his functionalism – which, I suspect, continues to infect Williams’ (2020) approach. I also touch on connections with Grice’s (1989) programme, the role of the interpreter, and Hattiangadi’s (2021) objection to Williams.
Perception as experience of the past
Perceptual experience strikes us as a presentation of the here and now. I argue that it also involves experience of the past. To make this claim I draw on work showing the involvement of neurocognitive memory systems in perceptual processing. I argue that memory, like the senses, is an integrated and constituent modality through which we experience the environment. We experience the sensed properties of stimuli, not as those properties are now, but as we remember them.
Photographic abstraction in 'La huerta y la ciudad': A case study
This paper explores the various forms of visual abstractions in photography trough a case study of a number of images from a specific fine art photography series ‘La huerta y la ciudad’. I argue that Walton’s system of standard, variable, and contra-standard aesthetic properties is especially useful for refining important distinctions among the ways abstractions may be utilised in photographic works. The types of abstractions are important creative choices in all the three distinct categories, and these choices result in photographic properties that are constitutive to the photographic ...
Structured propositions and their truth conditions
Contrary to Merricks, King, and others, I argue that propositions are structured yet that facts about their truth conditions are fundamental, and that it should therefore not be a constraint on theories of structured propositions to explain them on the basis of the theory. It turns out, however, that there is a sense in which T-facts are grounded in facts about propositional constituents, yet that this still allows us to reject the explanatory constraint.
Why 'bachelor' can't mean 'unmarried male'
I show that, given some natural assumptions, supervaluationist and
epistemicist theories of vagueness are committed to rejecting the
determinate truth of some conceptual truths. These conceptual truths contain predicates that can seemingly be defined conjunctively from other vague predicates (for example, ‘bachelor’ as ‘unmarried male’). I argue the only way we can resolve the puzzle is to reject the equivalence of these predicates with their supposed conjunctive definitions.
The Mathematical Nominalist's Real Problem With Physical Magnitudes
A key reason for thinking mathematical nominalists can't answer the Quinean indispensability argument concerns difficulties nominalistically paraphrasing physical magnitude statements. In this note, I'll argue that nominalists who accept certain notions from the literature on potentialist set theory can avoid these difficulties by deploying two cheap tricks. Doing this lets us answer Quine's original challenge, although philosophical concerns involving reference, metaphysical possibility and grounding remain.
Civic Friendship vs. Public Reason
According to Rawlsian political liberals, it is sufficient for civic friendship that citizens fulfil the requirements of public reason: they should publicly support only those legal provisions that are justifiable on the grounds of liberal political conceptions of justice, such as Rawls’s justice as fairness. I contend that when Rawlsians’ own notion of civic friendship is defined clearly, it demands more political solidarity than is required by liberal conceptions of justice, including justice as fairness. Therefore, the commitment to public reason is insufficient for civic friendship, ...
Necessity and the Algebra of Propositions
I present an algebraic argument from intensionalism to the conclusion that S5 is the logic of the broadest (i.e. metaphysical) necessity. Along the way I present an account of necessity operators in general.
Randomising at Rationality's Confines? A Critique of Martin Peterson's Money-Pump Arguments on Incomparability
This paper examines Martin Peterson’s money-pump arguments on incomparability. I first introduce the Small Improvement Argument, the notion of hard cases of comparison and briefly summarise various interpretations of incomparability. Several authors have objected that various of them are subject to a problem of exploitation. In his book "The Dimensions of Consequentalism", Peterson introduces two money-pump arguments and claims an obligation to randomise in hard cases, as the possibility of being exploited always looms otherwise. I argue that both arguments neglect crucial factors and thus rest upon weak premisses. First, I argue against the general argument that the supposed contradiction can be dissolved. I thereby employ the difference between preference and value introduced by Joshua Gert. Second, I argue against the sequential argument that it faces a dilemma: either the argument in its original form poses no problem, or it has to be rejected in a modified form. Thus, both arguments fail. The generality of an obligation to randomise therefore loses plausibility. Differentiating hard cases needs a more fine-grained approach in order to allow for nuanced interpretation.
Incentives Compromise Autonomy
Leftwingers have long argued that people who work on pain of destitution do so unfreely. But what is supposed to distinguish their unfreedom from the — sometimes benign — necessity of life-preserving activity in general? The problem, I argue, lies in the extrinsic character of specifically economic necessity. Insofar as one works for the sake of a monetary incentive, one is motivated neither by the work itself nor by its product, but by an end extrinsic to the work. One does not choose one’s activity on its own merits. But such extrinsically motivated activity, I argue, is necessarily ...
Can a Necessity Be the Source of Necessity?
This paper examines Hale’s (2013) proposal that necessity has its source in essences or natures. I examine Hale’s proposal in response to Blackburn’s (1993) dilemma according to which no direct account of the source of necessity can be given. After explaining Blackburn’s dilemma, I will argue that Hale correctly shows that the dilemma is not insurmountable (§2). However, I will argue that Hale’s positive view fails to provide an adequate account of the source of necessity (§3). Nonetheless, understanding why provides us with the criteria for an adequate account of the source of ...
Value-Based Accounts of Normative Powers and The Wishful Thinking Objection
An attractive view of the normativity of promises combines a non-reductive account of why promises bind with a value-based grounding story of why we have the promissory power. This invites a charge of wishful thinking: Is it not bad reasoning to think we have the power because it would be good? Here, I offer a defence against this objection. I first clarify the challenge by distinguishing between two components of the power. Secondly, I defend the form of normative explanation involved, showing that it is needed to give convincing value-based explanations for other important normative ...
The Problem of Invariance
Our perceptual experiences include a lot of invariance. We perceive objects (of many sorts) as maintaining a stable shape, color, timbre, loudness, texture, etc. throughout changes in other aspects of the perceived scene (distance, illumination, orientation, speed, etc.). To perceive seems to be fundamentally a matter of making sense of how variance and invariance relate to each other. But what exactly do we experience as invariant? In this paper, I first outline two main approaches to the Problem of Invariance: the Local-Inferential approach and the Global-Structural approach. Then, I provide some considerations suggesting that the latter should be preferred to the former.
Digital privacy and social norms: A meso-level approach
I argue that many approaches to digital privacy are too fixated on state-centric, macro- level and individual, micro-level interventions. Instead, I sketch a meso-level approach focusing on the role of social norms in fostering an ethical culture of privacy. Different maladaptive equilibria of norms and expectations necessitate different norm-altering interventions. Whereas, in misinformed equilibria, a representative survey or focused media campaign may suffice to alter norms, in well-informed equilibria, more robust interventions are necessary. Although recent surveys suggest that the ...
A Subjective Impermissibility Account of Liability to Defensive Harm
I argue that a person becomes liable to defensive harm just in case she acts impermissibly in light of her beliefs or her evidence, and her actions do, in fact, threaten objectively unjustified harm. I defend this conception of liability by arguing that liability is a matter not of distributive justice in the allocation of unavoidable harm, but a matter of rights enforcement. I then argue that, from an enforcement perspective, my account is preferable to existing accounts. I dispel two objections: first, that my account has implausible implications in particular cases; second, that it cannot ...
Qua-Objects, (Non-)Derivative Properties and the Consistency of Hylomorphism
Hylomorphism claims that objects such as a statue and the lump of clay out of which it is made are two different colocated objects which have different forms even though they share the same matter. Megan Fairchild has recently presented what she claims to be a minimal version of hylomorphism, arguing that it is inconsistent. In this paper we defend that Fairchild’s argument is unsound and draw some consequences from this fact.
Emotional commitments and rational agency
A dominant approach to conceptualising a role for emotions in rational agency has been to focus on a relation between emotions and reasons. Yet, if rational agency is governed by normative categories other than having a reason, what if one of these categories is better suited for emotion? In this paper, I test the hypothesis that conceptualising a role for emotion in rational agency should draw on the normative category of commitments. By contrasting five features of normative commitments that Shpall (2016) identifies with an account of emotional commitments found in Helm (2001), I suggest ...
Puzzles, Narrative and Narrative Puzzles
Puzzles can tell us stories. I mean ‘puzzles’ here in a ludic sense: exercises related to fun and play, like jigsaws and crosswords. Philosophers have not addressed the nature of puzzles, ludic or otherwise, so I propose and defend a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for ludic puzzles. From these conditions, it follows that puzzles can be narrative weakly (narratives can include puzzles) and strongly (puzzles can themselves be narrative). If my conceptual analysis is upheld, some puzzles are works of narrative fiction in their own right.
Interacting with Ourselves: Four Aspects of the Self We Can Act Upon
Many of our actions are self-directed: agents carry these actions out reflexively, aimed at themselves. Some of these are positively or negatively valenced: one can self-harm, self-medicate, self-soothe, carry out self-care and read self-help books. But what exactly is this self we carry out these actions towards? I consider four possible answers: the embodied self, the inter-personal self, the mental self and the deep self. I argue that taking these seriously and identifying how they interact allows us to make better sense of behaviours such as addiction and situations of structural ...
HISTORICISM AND THE CONSTITUTION CHALLENGE
Partly to exculpate manipulated agents, historicists claim that responsible agents must have met some historical conditions, such as having had the opportunity to reform. Recently, historicism has faced a challenge: there was a first responsible action that I performed. On that occasion, I was not responsible for who I was. This puts me on par with manipulated agents, who are thus responsible. So, historicism is false. The challenge can be met once responsibility and its control condition are divorced. This makes sense once we see that to ask ‘what does responsibility require?’ is very different from asking ‘what is responsibility?’
Three Models for Non-Reductive Virtue Epistemology
In recent years, there has been a growing sense that knowledge cannot yield a reductive analysis in terms of necessary and jointly sufficient conditions that are taken to be conceptually more primitive than knowledge itself. Because of this, virtue epistemologists have started to explore the possibility of non-reductive virtue epistemology. Thus far, however, there has been a surprising silence regarding the different ways non-reductive virtue epistemologies might be modeled. In this paper, my goal is to explore three non-reductive models that are theoretically available to virtue ...
The Modal Dilemma
Modal rationalism is the doctrine that if it is ideally conceivable that p, then it is metaphysically possible that p. Modal rationalism is true if and only if there are no strong a posteriori necessities. Only one of these options can be true; the problem is that both options seem coherent. It seems conceivable that modal rationalism is true, and conceivable that there are strong necessities. But this appearance is deceptive. Both options cannot be coherent: one must be an a priori truth, the other must be an a priori falsehood.
The Apology Paradox, The Beneficiary Pays Principle and the Bourgeois Predicament
Abstract: To the extent that we benefit from event x, we are glad that x occurred. However, to the extent that we judge x to be an injustice, we are saddened by its occurrence. This seems to imply a contradiction in the attitudes we hold towards x. I critically explore some of the solutions brought up by the literature on the Apology Paradox, where similar contradictions in attitudes were highlighted (Thompson, 2000, Wallace, 2013). I conclude by providing a deflationary account of the Beneficiary Pays Principle in the absence of a normative one.
Kant, Quantifiers, and Numerical Cognition
Kant gives a place of special importance to syllogistic logic. He argues that the classifications native to the study of the syllogism (i.e., those which single out certain quantifiers, propositional connectives, and modal operators) are the basis for the table of judgements. This table is important insofar as each classification it contains is thought to correspond to one of the pure concepts of the understanding; fundamental, non-empirical concepts which make thought about any object whatsoever possible. Most analytic Kant scholars assume they have a handle on how Kant thinks about syllogistic logic and, by extension, how to interpret the table of judgements. Namely, they assume that Kant thinks of syllogistic logic as tracking the same sorts of properties which would now be formalised using a model-theoretic semantics for a first-order language. I argue this reading is untenable on the basis that it contravenes Kant’s strictly dualist theory of cognition.
Modal Truthmaker Paradox Against Jago’s Truthmaker Maximalism
In this paper, I present the “Modal Truthmaker Paradox” (MTP), that avoids two weaknesses of Brendel's (2018) Truthmaker Paradox: the MTP does not rest on Montague’s theorem and it does not assume that provability implies having a truthmaker. Moreover, MTP gives rise to a new problem for truthmaker maximalists (e.g. Jago 2019) as it assumes a weak variant of Truthmaker Maximalism. If a truthmaker maximalist would like to block the MTP, s/he has to give up this weak form of truthmaker maximalism, even Jago’s fixed Fitch (Jago forthcoming in Analysis vs Trueman 2020).
Chloé de Canson
The Relevance of Awareness
There has been almost no discussion of awareness and its dynamics in Bayesian epistemology—of the specific propositions that an agent entertains, and of changes in these. Is the lack of interest in the awareness component of epistemic states not a sign that there is no significant issue there? I argue that whether awareness is relevant to the Bayesian depends on metaepistemological views one adopts. The views on which awareness is relevant are newly popular in Bayesian thought, thereby both explaining why it has historically received little attention, and establishing the importance of ...
Drawing the lines of moral status
Can one ground full moral status for nearly all and only humans on non-arbitrary characteristics? I argue that a recent attempt, Jaworska and Tannenbaum’s “person-rearing relationships” account, fails because the capacity they locate presupposes arbitrary extrinsic factors. My diagnosis is that they misconstrue the relation between flourishing and moral status by assuming moral individualism. While I argue that moral status can depend on extrinsic factors, through a condition of flourishing-relevance, those that their account presupposes are not morally relevant. The account thus fails ...
Plenty to come: making sense of Correia and Rosenkranz's growing block
Correia’s and Rosenkranz’s recent book 'Nothing to come' offers a skillful defense of the growing block theory, a view of time that has much intuitive appeal, and which has been under attack from many sides. Nonetheless, the book’s tense-logical course of treatment is not effective; it does not help one make sense of the growing block theory. This article argues for that claim by articulating worries about their framing of the debate, about the purported dynamism, and about the extent to which their view addresses the question that the growing block theory wants to be an answer to.
LINGUISTIC ANALYSIS AND OPEN TEXTURE: RETHINKING WAISMANN’S ARGUMENTS
The paper proposes the limits of applicability of linguistic analysis to normative discourse, which is represented by legal language. The contradictions of the use of classical linguistic analysis and the problem of “open texture” arising in the context of the language are shown. Open texture must be situated as an obstacle to exhaustiveness of definition for internal reasons not only because of unforeseen conditions that could always arise in the future, but also by virtue of an a priori aspect of the texture of concepts.
Fission Theories of Original Sin
I argue that the fission theory of Original Sin is defensible as long as it is embellished with certain (metaphysically possible) miraculous occurrences. (Sub-discipline: Philosophy of Religion)
Cunning plans and representation in fiction
This paper explores an aspect of fictional representation that is at first sight quite ordinary, but on closer inspection presents a challenge to a wide range of accounts of fiction. The problem concerns the depiction of possibilities, and can be vividly observed in a particular circumstance: when discussing characters' depicted planning ability. I show that, in order to account for the depiction of some fictional characters as proficient planners, we sometimes need to treat the relation of closeness of possible worlds as altered within a fiction. This amounts to an interpretative puzzle ...
Might metaethical nihilists be corrupting the youth? If Guy Kahane’s ingenious Pascalian argument is correct, then our investigations are far from harmless, and you should go no further with this paper. He argues that accepting nihilism would bring us no benefit if it is true (because nothing matters) and would cost is if it is false, leading to a dominance argument that there could never be any benefit to accepting nihilism. I criticise this argument, arguing that both horns fail. Finally, I consider the rhetorical status of presenting an argument (a set of reasons) which quantifies over ...
Radically enactive computation without representation
Radically enactive views of the mind define themselves, at least partly, in terms of 1) a rejection of orthodox views of cognition as computations over representations and 2) the acceptance of an embodied, enactive understanding of the mind. In this talk I propose a radically enactive view of computation that does not make use of representations and thus seems acceptable to REC. I argue that the root of the problem is the input-output model of computation and that by disposing of it we can have an alternative general framework.
A Third Line of Inquiry in the Philosophy of Well-Being
Several philosophers have recently proposed a new way of classifying philosophical theories of well-being, which divides them into two main categories according to their distinct theoretical aims (Crisp 2006; Fletcher 2013; Woodard 2013). Enumerative theories identify which things are good for people. Explanatory theories explain why the things that are good for people are good for them. I argue that this typology is incomplete. Theorising well-being’s structure is distinct from enumeration and explanation, and deserves greater attention. Besides being interesting in their own right, ...
Indeterminism and the C theory
Can a theory be indeterministic without implying a preferred direction of time? Intuitively it can, since the two concepts appear to be quite independent of one another. Despite this, a series of authors have argued that indeterministic laws of temporal evolution entail that time is directed. I present and defend a temporally adirectional metaphysics — the C theory —, specify its commitments are and how it deals with this problem. Such arguments establish that if there is a linear one-way law of temporal evolution, it cannot run in both directions, but crucially, this conclusion is ...
A Cock to Asclepius: Nietzsche and the Problem of Socrates
For Nietzsche, Socrates taught a doctrine of life-denying asceticism which inaugurated the decline of Greek culture. In this paper, I will argue that Nietzsche’s critique of Socrates – particularly in ‘The Problem of Socrates’ – is grounded in his philosophical psychology, which presents the human soul as a complex of drives in constant competition with each other. More specifically, I will show that Nietzsche regarded Socrates as a ‘décadent’ chiefly because his emphasis on the pre-eminence of reason was symptomatic of a constitutive inability to regulate the competition of ...
Moral Worth, Right Reasons and Counterfactuals
According to a popular account of moral worth, a right action is morally praiseworthy if it’s performed in response to the reasons which make it right. Call this the Right Reasons Thesis (RRT). In this paper, I demonstrate that RRT is not as successful as contemporary discussions would suggest. This is because it fails to adequately satisfy two desiderata associated with theories of moral worth: (1) it doesn’t identify whether motivationally overdetermined actions are praiseworthy (2) it doesn’t adequately identify degrees of moral praiseworthiness. I further argue that RRT can satisfy ...
Predictive Processing and Aesthetic Experience
A growing body of research is establishing connections between the pleasure we gain from engaging with art and the existential imperatives
of the living agent according to the predictive processing (PP) framework. This paper aims to take stock of the so-far intriguing but scattered stream of research linking PP to aesthetic experience and to assess its prospects. I will begin by presenting the PP story about aesthetic experience as it has been developed so far. I’ll then point to several ways in which PP and aesthetics could fruitfully inform one another. In the end, I hope to show that the encounter is a promising one and that deserves further exploration.
Nir Fresco and Marty Wolf
Which Teleological Function can Explain Computation in Both Biological and Artificial Systems?
There is disagreement between the mechanistic and semantic views of physical computation in biological and artificial systems. In order to assess the explanatory merits of these views, a key concept that must be scrutinised is ‘teleological function’. On some readings of this concept, the mechanistic view collapses into the semantic one. Some computational mechanists thus reject ‘teleological function’ as ill-suited for explaining computation. We argue that understanding ‘selection’ more broadly than Darwinian selection and incorporating a general notion of ‘design’ based on ...
A More Liberal Public Reason Liberalism
Short Abstract Public reason liberals frequently hold that publicly justifying coercive laws and policies requires that citizens offer both adequate secular justificatory reasons and adequate secular motivating reasons for these laws and policies. In this paper, I argue that even if publicly justifying coercive laws and policies required that citizens offer adequate secular justificatory reasons for these laws and policies, the requirement that citizens offer adequate secular motivating reasons is untenable on multiple grounds. I then examine and rebut several proffered defences of this ...
Belief is not enough: why going hybrid doesn't solve the Frege-Geach problem
The received view is that hybrid expressivists can solve the Frege-Geach problem by “offloading” the explanation of the logical properties of moral sentences onto the belief-components of moral judgements. The received view is mistaken. By the hybridist’s lights, the truth of the belief-component is neither necessary nor sufficient for the correctness of the moral judgement as a whole. So, that the belief-components of a set of moral judgements are, say, inconsistent does not entail that the moral judgements are inconsistent. So, the inconsistency of the belief-components is ...
Laws of Ground and Fundamentality
An intriguing idea enthrals metaphysicians of varied stripes: as fundamental laws of nature govern natural goings-on, fundamental laws of metaphysics govern metaphysical goings-on. Among these, there supposedly are laws that regiment what grounds what. Here I articulate and discuss an argument against the fundamentality of laws of ground understood as true generalizations. Two types of solutions can be found in the literature: one is primitivist, the other is separatist. I argue that both have undesirable costs. Therefore, we should explore alternative strategies.
The Cryonic-Refugee: Appropriate Analogy or Confusing Rhetoric?
Cryonic preservation facilitates mortality’s circumvention through the body’s freezing just after one’s demise, and its restoration when medicine permits the rectification of that fatal condition. This practice requires us to ask what those who are revived in a future society are owed. One conceptualisation considers revived ‘cryons’ as comparable to refugees, with the latter fleeing spatially and the former temporarily. However, this analogy’s appropriateness is unconsidered; an oversight this paper rectifies. Using the 1951 Refugee Convention, this paper clarifies a refugee’s ...
Freedom, Perception, and Possibility in Mrs Dalloway
Near the beginning of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, Clarissa Dalloway walks past St James’s Park and becomes caught up in observing the liveliness of the traffic and people around her. In a complex passage, Clarissa proclaims that ‘she would not say of any one in the world now that they were this or were that’, that ‘what she loved was this, here, now, in front of her’, and that ‘it was very, very dangerous to live even one day’. I offer a reading of this passage that uses Edmund Husserl’s notion of a ‘horizon’ to tie these disparate feelings together.
The Expressive Function of Healthcare
Most of us value healthcare and regard it as an important aspect of egalitarian justice. However, the moral significance of healthcare has recently been challenged on two key fronts: first, by public health theorists who rightly point out the relatively limited role of healthcare (as opposed to the social determinants of health more broadly) in influencing population health outcomes; and second, by ‘reductionists’ who argue that healthcare’s purpose is merely to promote, or can be subsumed within, some broader metric of justice such as wellbeing or opportunity. This paper defends the moral significance of healthcare against these and other challenges by reference to a central but neglected dimension – healthcare’s expressive function. Over and above its influence on health and other metrics of justice, and in spite of its relatively limited impact on population health outcomes, healthcare expresses respect for individuals in a distinctive and morally salient way. The respect-expressing dimension of healthcare is linked to the fact that healthcare characteristically focuses on individuals, addressing our inherent
vulnerability as human beings in three central ways and, in doing so, signifying respect to us qua persons. This respect-expressing function of healthcare provides a central argument for acknowledging the moral significance of healthcare and for supporting its universal provision as a matter of egalitarian justice.
Is the Fine-Tuning Evidence for a Multiverse?
According to our best current science, the laws of physics and the initial conditions
of our universe are fine-tuned for the possibility of life. For the past few decades there has been a debate concerns whether the fine-tuning is evidence for a multiverse, a debate which turns on the identity conditions of a universe. Surprisingly, this literature has not considered the specific multiverse hypothesis for which there is independent empirical support. I will argue that on the most natural way of construing the identity conditions of a universe on this multiverse hypothesis, the fine-tuning of our universe does not support a
Quasi-naturalism and the Problem of Alternative Normative Concepts
The following scenario seems possible: a community uses concepts that play the same role in guiding actions and shaping social life as our normative concepts, and yet refer to something else. As Eklund (2017) argues, this apparent possibility poses a problem for any normative realist who aspires to vindicate the thought that reality itself favours our ways of valuing and acting. In this paper I argue that normative quasi-naturalism, a view that combines expressivism and naturalism about normativity, vindicates realism in the face of this challenge by ruling out the possibility of alternative ...
The Fabricated Authority of Singularity
The notion that an entity means only a singular entity has made it impossible to construe entities as having a non-singular essence. The aim of this paper is to refute this presupposition by proving an absence of a reason for our general reduction of entities into singular. This is done by taking into account both the Platonist’s and the Empiricist’s stance and proving them inconsistent. The case of lion-headed eagles is taken up in the latter part of the paper which serves as a refutation and as an extension of the empiricist’s stance. The paper focuses on proving a propensity of ...
Are Smarter Voters Better Voters?
It is widely believed that democracies require knowledgeable citizens to function well. But the most politically knowledgeable individuals also tend to be the most partisan, and the strength of partisan identity tends to corrupt political thinking. This creates a conundrum. On one hand, an informed citizenry is allegedly necessary for a democracy to flourish. On the other hand, the most knowledgeable and passionate voters are also the most likely to think in corrupted, biased ways. What to do? This paper examines this tension and draws out several lessons.
Credence Within The Dialectic
This presentation is a proposal to strengthen T. H. Green's critique of David Hume's two principles given they constitute the customs of our beliefs for all our reasonings. This will also undermine Lewis' proposal for credence. It will be demonstrated that the reasoning and inferences deduced from contingent and possible sensations are subsumed by what is necessary for their dialectic. Its principle as a contribution to Aristotle's Metaphysics will be ground on the relation and limits of oppositions.
A Problem for Reliabilists about Testimony
We discriminate between bits of testimony. If these discriminations were not truth-directed, then any true belief attained via testimony would be the result of epistemic luck. Given that we know a great deal from testimony, it follows that our testimonial discriminations must be truth-directed. But what makes them so directed? The reliabilist hypothesis states that our testimonial discriminations are truth-directed because they demonstrate the operation of a reliable process. I reject this. If the process is cognitively accessible, we lack an adequate characterisation of it. And if the ...
Husserl and Strawson on Intersubjectivity: A Postulate of Subject Templates
In the discussion about intersubjectivity, intuitively compelling reasons have been levelled against the position of analogy. In addition, we can deduce a robust semantic argument against that position from Strawson’s discussion of Cartesianism. As Husserl has pointed out, the famous alternative to the position of analogy (the position of direct perception) cannot be understood as a primitive perception of others. However, it seems that the approach he offers in contrast is equally troubled by Strawson’s argument. But we can reconcile Husserl’s approach with Strawson’s ...
A Practitioner's Guide to Pragmatic Humeanism
Recently, Humeans have argued that the laws should be tailored to our epistemic needs and that the properties in which the laws are formulated should be determined by their usefulness in formulating an effective and simple theory. In this paper, I will evaluate whether these changes are concessions to what Lewis called a `ratbag idealist'. Then I'll discuss a related objection from Shamik Dasgupta, and respond on behalf of Humeans who deny Lewis's account of natural properties.
Entrapment, Temptation, and Virtue Testing
We address the ethics of scenarios in which one party (the ‘agent’) entraps, intentionally tempts, or intentionally tests the virtue of another (the ‘target’). We classify three types of act: entrapment, (mere) intentional temptation, and (mere) virtue testing. Our classification is, for each kind of act, of itself neutral concerning whether the agent acts permissibly (and the extent to which the target is culpable). We explain why acts of entrapment are more ethically objectionable than like acts of (mere) intentional temptation.
Natural Regularity and Determinism
Modern physics assumes that the fundamental physical constants in the theories of physics have exact values which are universal, e.g., all electrons in the universe have exactly the same mass. This assumption may be methodologically convenient, but it is not and cannot be supported by evidence, it is not a necessary assumption for any modern physical theories, and it is scientifically highly implausible. Since it is a superfluous assumption, retaining it would be unscientific. It should therefore explicitly be abandoned. Doing so would have significant consequences for causal determinism.
Conceptual Reduction without Necessary and Sufficient Conditions: A Truthmaking Approach
Conceptual reductive accounts usually take conceptual reduction to be possible iff necessary and sufficient conditions for the truths of one domain can be given by describing truths in another domain, and thus reducing the former to the latter. Instead, I will argue that another kind of conceptual reduction does not give necessary and sufficient conditions for the conceptual reduction of an entity, but it provides another way that conceptual reduction can be done. I will argue that we can do this kind of reduction, if there are various less-than-perfectly similar physical properties that can ...
What is a Beautiful Experiment?
This article starts an engagement on the aesthetics of experiments by offering a novel framework for analysing how aesthetics features in the design, evaluation and reception of experiments. I identify two dimensions of aesthetic evaluation of experiments: design and significance. When it comes to design, a number of qualities, such as simplicity, economy and aptness, are analysed and illustrated with the famous Meselson-Stahl experiment. Beautiful experiments are also regarded to make significant discoveries, but I argue against a narrow construal of experimental aims. By drawing on the ...
Some Rational Problems with Comparative Valuing
The aim of this paper is to expose a new kind of irrational valuing structure, which I shall call Self-Defeating Comparative Valuing (SDCV). While on a par with other irrational valuing structures such as intransitive preferences and temporal discounting, SDCV has not been noticed in the literature yet. I will hence first analyze the structure, causes, and irrationality of SDCV. I will then derive two new rational principles from SDCV and consider their implications on our understanding of rationality.
Risk Pluralism and Anti-Risk Epistemology
Recent interest has grown in the philosophy and epistemology of risk. Challenges lie in offering a correct analysis of risk, determining whether a single conception or a plurality of conceptions of risk are needed, and in applying these conceptions to epistemology. This paper argues that risk pluralism is the correct analysis of risk, but shows that a more diverse plurality of conceptions is needed than has yet been acknowledged. It then shows that there are quite natural applications of this more diverse risk pluralism for epistemology.
The Affordance Model of Inner Speech
Inner speech is a mental phenomenon that is normally described as the ‘inner voice’ in our heads or ‘thinking in words’. The aim of this talk is to provide a new approach to inner speech through the framework of affordance perception. I will sketch the main elements of the model according to which inner speech can be characterised as both a verbal action afforded by a range of external and internal possibilities and as a verbal affordance itself allowing a wide range of actions. Such a hypothesis implies a reconsideration of the main metaphysical and epistemological questions on ...
A Non-Doxastic Account of Self-Deception
Regarding someone who self-deceives that P, what is her professed belief that P? Doxastic accounts hold that it is a genuine belief. Conversely, the pretence account holds that the self-deceiver’s professed belief is a pretence that she believes that P. I argue that the truth lies between these two positions. The self-deceiver’s professed belief is a pretence that she believes that P. But – necessarily conflating her pretence with what she pretends – the self-deceiver necessarily misrepresents her pretence, to herself, as a genuine belief.
What's Wrong with Prepunishment?
Prepunishment – punishing someone for a crime before they have committed it – is widely considered morally abhorrent. But there is little agreement on what exactly is wrong with it. In this paper, I consider some of the most common objections to prepunishment and argue that none of them succeed. I conclude that, for all that’s yet been shown, nothing is wrong with prepunishment after all.
Expectation in Perception
I argue for the existence of a kind of perceptual representation, perceptual expectation. I propose a narrower notion than currently exists in the behavioral sciences; one defined not statistically but in terms of veridicality conditions. Perceptual expectations are future-facing: they represent some way the world will be but that it is not currently observed to be. They contribute representational content to one’s current perceptual state, and under uncertainty, often increase the accuracy of that state. Perceptual expectations allow one to interpolate—often accurately—from memories ...
How (Not) to Knit Your Markov Blanket
This paper investigates the prospects of applying the concept of ‘Markov blanket’ to extended cognition. I argue that despite some calls to the contrary the concept of Markov blanket does not settle questions of cognitive extension. After laying out a recent proposal from Ramstead et al. (2019), I raise several concerns.
When Does Coercion Invalidate Consent?
This paper focuses on cases of consent and third-party coercion and pursues three objectives. (1) I describe the challenge in such cases specifically as a conflict between two fundamental principles in the ethics of consent. (2) I propose my own solution and thereby specify the relation between consent and coercion. (3) I develop a novel response to a seemingly decisive objection against Recipient-Focus-Views (which my own view is a version of), i.e. views according to which the validity of consent depends on the conduct of the person receiving consent (i.e. the Recipient) rather than on the ...
Sympathy for the Devil?: The Guise of the Good Remastered
Kieran Setiya’s paper ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ aims to offer a systematic refutation of the ‘Guise of the Good’ thesis, avoiding the back-and-forth of adjudication of particular proposed counter-examples to the thesis. In this paper, I respond to Setiya in kind, attempting to show what I think his argument has missed. My argument turns on the point that the agent bears a distinctively first-personal and constitutive relationship to her own action—a relationship that is importantly different to that which third parties may bear to her action. Setiya’s account, I claim, cannot do ...
In this paper, I ask, what explains interpersonal differences in self-control? I argue that differences in self-control are analogous to differences in mobility: they are modulated by inherent traits and environmental supports and constraints in interaction. This joint effect of individual (neuro)biology and environmental factors is best understood in terms of access to self-control behaviours. I sketch an account of access as including the three criteria of means, awareness, and non-excessive effort. I further demonstrate that people with disorders such as ADHD have limited access to ...
A Study on the Nature of Civic Vice
Scholars working at the intersection of political philosophy and virtue theory focus chiefly on the study of civic virtue, omitting to discuss civic vice and its negative import for societal flourishing. This paper seeks to address this gap in the literature by putting forward a novel account of civic vice. This account characterizes civic vices both in terms of imperfect motivations and in terms of the negative consequences. In addition, it highlights integral features of civic education that are currently being neglected by educational theorists and establishes a fresh viewpoint from which ...
Is Private Praise Possible?
In the literature on praise and blame, it is supposed to be an asymmetry that we can blame someone privately but that we cannot praise them privately. The idea that we cannot privately praise seems to follow from how we characterize praise as being overtly bestowed. On the other hand, it looks like privately praising is something we can do and meaningfully discuss. This creates a puzzle. Some attempt to solve this puzzle by distinguishing praising from crediting. I propose we solve it by spelling out the presentation conditions for praise. This preserves the asymmetry, but for a new reason.
COUNTING ON CONSCIENCE: SIX DEGREES OF HESITATION
Conventional wisdom commonly counsels us to rely upon conscience, our impressive mental faculty of moral perception, for making moral judgments and decisions. But is such counsel wise? An in-depth examination of the cognitive mechanisms of conscience operation and formation—beginning with a psychological model that emphasizes the role of stored precedents in moral recognition, evaluation, and response—suggests six grounds for hesitation: precedents that are mislabeled or absent; precedents whose analyses are compromised by lack of pluralistic thoroughness; compartmentalization-based ...
The Puzzle of Requesting Evaluative Action
There is something odd about requesting that someone perform an evaluative action, i.e., an action that indicates that the requestee holds an evaluative attitude toward the requester. For example, it is odd to utter sentences like, “Please thank me for what I did for you” or “I request that you praise me for my accomplishment.” I argue that these requests are odd because they prevent the evaluative actions from providing the requester with evidence that the agent actually holds the relevant attitudes. But, I argue, it is important to have evidence of how others evaluate us.
Aesthetic interaction in interpersonal relations
It is common both in philosophy and in everyday life to suppose that
a person’s beauty is something static and passive, to be observed, much as one might observe a painting. But the way in which people bear many of their
aesthetic qualities to one another is such as to call for a personal, engaged response. In this paper I argue that recognising the role of aesthetic interaction in our social lives makes sense of something that otherwise
seems problematic, namely the importance that we attach to people’s aesthetic qualities.
The legitimate targets of political disobedience
Activists are often criticised for directing their political disobedience against this or that specific target. Underlying these criticisms appears to be a strongly held, though intuitive, moral judgement that some targets are legitimate or meaningful whereas others are not. However, little philosophical attention has been paid to this issue. I argue that there is a principled way of differentiating between legitimate and illegitimate targets. My discussions show that our analyses and evaluations of political disobedience can be carried out at a higher level of specificity.
Responsibility and the Moral Significance of Intervening Agency
It is commonly thought that a harm that is mediated by intervening agency
counts less against the action involving this harm than when the harm is unmediated. One argument for this claim is the Responsibility Argument. It says, roughly, that (1) the intervening agent, along with the principal agent, is responsible for the harm; (2) the presence of the intervening agent’s responsibility reduces the responsibility of the principal agent; and (3) the fact that, compared with when the harm is unmediated, the principal agent has a reduced responsibility is a reason in favour of the action involving the mediated harm. In §2, I defend (2) against an objection from Victor Tadros. In §3, I offer an objection against (3). I then present an argument from Frances Kamm which seems to support (3), and I respond to an objection from Jeff McMahan to that argument. I end, in §4, with a rudimentary conclusion: it is not clear to what extent Kamm’s argument conflicts with my objection to (3). It is not clear, therefore,
whether we should accept the Responsibility Argument.
Can Keith Frankish believe that he is an illusionist?
The answer to the title question is No, at least not without involving himself in contradictions.
Epistemic Content: Stalnaker versus Kripke
Stalnaker explains some inconsistent beliefs with his two-dimensional pragmatic theory using alternative semantic facts, whereas Kripke takes it as a genuine puzzle about belief. I illustrate Stalnaker’s theory with false beliefs of identity, false beliefs of incompatible properties on an object under different names, and knowledge of identity, and point out its shortcoming. I then apply my epistemic counterpart theory of epistemic possibility to understand content of knowledge and of belief with epistemic possibility.
Radical Enactivism and Aspect Perception
Radical Enactive or Embodied Cognition (REC) claims that some cognitive activities are skills with representational content. However, if REC is understood in these terms, then REC cannot explain aspect perception. This is because aspect perception is a skill and yet it is not clear whether this skill does or does not involve representational content. Given that REC should aim to explain aspect perception, then this should prompt a rethink about REC. I propose that RECers do this by dropping their commitment to content and just focusing on skills.
Expression, Evidence and the Gricean account of speaker meaning
Wayne Davis (Davis 2003) offered a refreshingly simple alternative account to the Gricean analysis of speaker meaning. Davis' account has been claimed to avoid in a simple and elegant manner the problems that soliloquy and other cases of audience-less speech present for the Gricean analysis. I argue that Davis' account does not provide a viable alternative to the Gricean analysis because (i) it is subject to new difficulties of its own, (ii) it has a complexity similar to that of the Gricean analysis, (iii) the Gricean analysis can be modified so as to successfully account for those cases ...
Extinction Risk and Scanlon's Contractualism
What makes causing or allowing human extinction morally wrong? Existing attempts to reconcile contractualist and consequentialist responses to this question identify a common wrong-maker, namely, loss of merely possible lives. According to some consequentialists, Scanlonian contractualists can account for the following two claims (Beard & Kaczmarek 2019). First, we contractually wrong merely possible people by failing to provide them the benefit of existence. Second, we contractually wrong merely possible people by failing to bringing them into existence with a life that is foreseeably ...
Against Theistic Modal Realism: An Argument From Impossible Worlds
David Lewis’ theory of Modal Realism posits a plurality of concrete pos-
sible worlds. In the philosophy of religion, Theistic Modal Realism (TMR) extends Lewis’ framework by adding a theistic God existing somewhere in the pluriverse. The view is highly attractive for it persuasively handles many of the difficult challenges to theism. Still, in this paper I point to a downside of the proposal: the failure to accommodate impossible worlds. I argue that if TMR is extended with concrete impossible worlds then God becomes an inconsistent object, urging a too drastic revision of theism. After, I address potential objections to my argument and find them wanting. I conclude that there is no coherent extension of TMR with concrete impossible worlds.
Need grasp be conscious?
How are conscious experience and understanding related? On the phenomenal theory of grasp and understanding proposed by David Bourget, grasp occurs all and only in conscious states. I offer putative counterexamples to Bourget’s theory, and object to the main line of argument he offers in its favor. The upshot is to take stock of the diversity of understanding and grasp, in point of both their relationships to conscious experience and their epistemic profile.
Beyond Testimony: Speech acts and the epistemology of communication
Most epistemologists accept (either implicitly or explicitly) that to testify that p one must assert (alternatively: claim, affirm, state, tell someone) that p. Guided by this assumption, contemporary epistemology of testimony has made the speech act of assertion the focus of its analysis. I will argue that epistemology’s focus on assertoric acts (the ‘assertion paradigm’ for short) is unduly narrow, given that knowledge can be conveyed by non-assertoric acts. If I am right, epistemologists are better off abandoning the assertion paradigm. Moving away from it has important ...
On the Membership Objection to Aristotelian Naturalism
Scott Woodcock has levied a number of objections against Aristotelian naturalism. His most recent “membership objection” is a synthesis of earlier objections. I argue that MacIntyre’s Aristotelian naturalism is alone in being able to answer Woodcock’s membership objection. Unlike other Aristotelian naturalists, MacIntyre appeals to what intelligent vertebrates share in order to characterize human virtue. This allows him to appeal to both empirical and non-empirical considerations and, in so doing, evade the membership objection.
How (Not) To Think Like Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a problematic archetype of intelligence. His moniker, Master of Deduction’, is straightforwardly inaccurate. His reputation, whilst not unearned, nonetheless owes a great deal to social advantages shielding him from epistemic (and moral) criticism. This in turn encourages him to be too quick to dismiss the epistemic contributions of others, placing him in a cognitive isolation that renders his conclusions less justified than they might otherwise have been, even if they are true. This paper views Holmes through the lens of Miranda Fricker’s concept of epistemic ...
Are Rocks (and Other Ordinary Objects) Conscious? The Panpsychist Should Think So
Abstract: opponents of panpsychism often claim that the view entails rocks are conscious. Panpsychists often claim that this is false, only the fundamental proper parts of rocks are. I will suggest that the opponents of panpsychism are correct, panpsychism does entail rocks – along with other ordinary objects – are conscious.
Trustworthiness as Person-Specific Reliability
This paper addresses the question of what it means to be trustworthy and suggests that trustworthiness is a kind of reliability specific to persons. This is based on the common ideas that (a) being trustworthy involves being reliable in some way and (b) while objects and artifacts may be relied upon, only persons can be properly trusted. The person-specific reliability view is simple and intuitive, but requires some unpacking. We begin by asking what it means to be reliable generally, before turning to what it means to be reliable as a person. It will be argued that, under normal usage, being reliable is a matter of something doing what it is meant to do. A car that frequently breaks down when driving but happens to float on water is an unreliable car. It can be relied upon for floating, but this does not improve its reliability as a car. It will be further argued that persons, unlike cars, choose what they are meant to do. They do this by making commitments: creating obligations to another by signalling that they will do something. Therefore, person-specific reliability – and hence trustworthiness – is a matter of fulfilling commitments.
Empathic perspective-taking, mental simulation, and receptivity
We explore the nature of mental simulation in empathy (or empathic perspective-taking) by looking into a form of empathy situated in embodied interaction. Simulationist accounts regard empathy as a particular form of mental simulation. We examine a case of empathy mediated by the act of listening and claim: (1) Empathic perspective-taking is not always individualistic, but can also be an embodied, collaborative practice; (2) It can occur at two different levels: namely, imaginative perspective-taking and realistic perspective-sharing; and (3) Receptivity, or the embodied-epistemic attitude ...
The CALU Argument
Linguist Mark C. Baker makes use of a Chomsky’s notion of CALU—the creative aspect of language use—as part of an argument for “nonbiological innatism,” a substance dualist position. His argument parallels, in some respects, recent work on theories of free will. I examine Baker’s own argument, which includes the claim that CALU involves abductive reasoning, and link it to so-called “two-stage” theories of human freedom.
Modern Philosophy of Art
This article makes a contrast between the art exhibited in museums such as The Louvre and the art exhibited in museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, both in Paris, to claim that, given that resources are limited, priority in promotion and protection must be given to works of superior value, with no fear of being called conservative. Often progress requires a step back. I suggest that modern philosophy of art should be more assertive in defending theories of art that back up works of genuine worth, welcoming only positive additions, not nothings as in The Emperor's New Clothes story, and ...
Disjunctivism and the causal conditions of hallucination
Disjunctivists distinguish perceptual and hallucinatory experiences as distinct kinds of event. They also deny that the perceptual kind of experience can occur during hallucination. However, it is widely held that disjunctivists must grant the converse claim, to the effect that the hallucinatory kind of experience occurs during perception. This paper challenges that thought by developing a ‘causalist’ version of disjunctivism. By drawing on this view, disjunctivists can deny that the kind of experience involved in hallucination occurs during perception. This then entails that when ...
The Rational Response to Excessive Confidence
Conciliationism holds that it is rational to modify one’s beliefs when faced with disagreement from an epistemic peer. Although this is sensible advice, all extant conciliatory norms yield incorrect results in cases involving excessive confidence—cases in which one’s interlocutor is sure, or almost sure, that his opinion is correct. Excessive confidences are, I argue, evidence of irrationality on the part of the person expressing them. We should take a person less seriously—perhaps not seriously at all—when he expresses one. After explaining the problem of excessive confidence, ...
The Vulnerability of Virtuous Behaviour to Everyday Confabulation
Extensive empirical research shows that people often confabulate in their everyday lives. In particular, they have been shown to confabulate when they are asked about their consumer choices (Wilson & Nesbitt, 1977) or moral convictions (Haidt 2001). These explanations for their behaviour are ill-grounded and produced post-hoc, referring to factors which could not have been efficacious in bringing about that behaviour, choice or belief. I suggest that given some of the key epistemic features of everyday confabulation, it is particularly likely to arise in the context of developing virtue and that therefore we need to consider that the development of virtuous behaviour is particularly vulnerable to everyday confabulation. This is because the budding virtuous agents engage in practices which are required for the development of virtue but which also often prompt confabulation. So, in fulfilling certain requirements for virtuous behaviour, it is particularly expectable that agents will confabulate...
Born to Suffer: Evaluating the Asymmetry Argument for Antinatalism
Antinatalism is the view that procreation is morally wrong.This paper presents and evaluates one of the most influential contemporary arguments for antinatalism: David Benatar’s asymmetry argument, which holds that coming into existence is always a harm. I examine an objection raised by Jeff McMahan that has, to my knowledge, remained unanswered in the literature. McMahan’s counter-argument aims to show that accepting the asymmetry leads to the counter-intuitive conclusion that paradigmatically bad lives are preferable to paradigmatically good lives.I argue that McMahan’s objection fails to undermine the asymmetry, but proceed to show how it can be amended so that it is effective against the asymmetry, in a way that Benatar is unable to satisfactorily defuse.
Fiction and Immorality
Can we be morally corrupted by a fiction that assumes and endorses an immoral point of view? The moralist says that we can and that morally sensitive people would refuse to be engaged in a degrading fiction; while the immoralist would deny any corruption and claim that any engagement in fiction is cognitively rewarding and not morally loaded. I present a way to experience imaginative receptivity of immoral fiction, which combines cognitive development with preservation of our moral attitudes.
Ontology and Generality
Ontology, Quine says, is about what there is: to be ontologically committed to Fs is to be committed to accepting a sentence of the form ‘∃xFx’. Fine argues that this account fails, because ontological commitment to Fs often involves a kind of generality that isn’t captured by mere existential quantification over F. The force of this argument hasn’t been appreciated, even by Fine himself. When the relevant kind of generality is properly understood, we see that Fine’s alternative account of ontological commitment doesn’t capture it, either. Fortunately, there’s a way of ...
The Intuition of Distinctness and the Use-Mention Feature of Phenomenal Concepts
According to an influential account, the intuition of distinctness is a cognitive illusion generated by the fact that phenomenal concepts use phenomenal properties to refer to those properties. By assumption, this peculiar feature of phenomenal concepts creates the impression that physical concepts leave out phenomenal properties. According to one prominent, recently raised objection to this account, there is nothing unique about the idea that phenomenal concepts use their referents: demonstrative concepts use their referents as well. In reply, I argue that the sense in which phenomenal ...
A No Platforming Policy is a policy adopted by platform-providers that governs to whom the providers will extend their platform. Concerns around free speech, viewpoint diversity, subordinating speech acts, and the way platforms amplify this subordination have animated a lively debate around such policies. I argue that platforms should be understood as scarce relational goods which are distributed to some at the exclusion of others. The consequence of this is that policies which govern to whom one will distribute their platform do not amount to intervention in another’s speech, but simply involve taking responsibility for one’s own distributional choices. I suggest an Affirmative Platforming policy, by which distributors affirm their view of what makes speech worth elevating, and which has certain advantages over more familiar No Platforming policies.
Accommodation and Attitudinal Change in Psychotherapy
In this talk, I will provide a completely new explanation of the effectiveness of so-called systemic questions, a questioning technique of psychotherapy, within the context of philosophy of language. With the use of a systemic question the therapist usually provides the client with an alternative, and possibly less problematic, description of reality. Starting from David Lewis' theory of conversations in ``Scorekeeping in a Language Game'', I will argue that in doing so systemic questions exploit the mechanism of presupposition accommodation. According to this mechanism, conversational score ...
Holes in the Hole Argument
The Hole Argument attacks the substantivalist view that spacetime points exist on the basis that substantivalists are committed to radical indeterminism. In this essay I propose a dilemmatic solution: either substantivalists have independent reason to adopt a minimal constraint on the literal interpretation of a theory which rules out radical indeterminism, or else they have no reason to resist radical indeterminism.
Doxastic Responsibility, Answerability, and the Basic Epistemic Demand
An agent is epistemically responsible of believing that p iff she is the proper target of epistemic assessments and reactions in terms of reactive attitudes, in virtue of believing that p. I argue that we can understand epistemic responsibility by appeal to the fact that we are answerable for believing. This means that we are epistemically responsible only if the question “Why do you believe that p?” is given application in such a way that the agent’s commitment to p’s truth reveals that she has weighed reasons for p. In discussing an alleged counterexample, I defend that ...
Events, Processes, and the Occurrents/Continuants Divide
In this paper, I aim to explore three questions: (i) whether there is any robust distinction between processes and events; (ii) whether processes are occurrent continuants; and (iii) whether the category of processes challenges the orthodoxy concerning the nature of endurance and perdurance. It will be argued that while there are plausible reasons to answer positively to the first question, answers to the second and third one ultimately depend on our understanding of what it is to be a continuant: if we consider that standard accounts of endurance do a satisfactory definitional work when ...
Categoeis of Art as Rules of Games - Why Soccer is so Successful
The paper applies Kendall Walton’s ‘Categories of Art’, in particular the ideas of ‘standard’, ‘variable’ and ‘contra-standard’ properties, to the rules of games, arguing that the rules of a game are its standard properties, the gameplay its variable properties and actions prohibited by the rules the contra-standard properties. It concentrates its analysis on soccer and uses this analysis to argue for soccer’s global success as a spectator and participation sport on the permissive interpretability of its rules, effectively turning its standard properties into ...
Propositional Gratitude and Service
I argue that we have reason to reject the view that ‘[b]ecause compassion is […] immensely beneficial to those who feel it, it is […] appropriate to feel grateful to those who cause one’s compassion’ (Fitzgerald 1998: 127), but that the concept of gratitude provides us with a more appropriate explanation of our positive reaction when presented with an opportunity to render a service to those we love. In §1 I explain the reasons to question the quoted view. In §2 I outline my alternative. In §3 I consider two objections, and conclude.
Why Do Laws Hold Non-Vacuously?
We live in a universe in which fundamental dynamical laws hold non-vacuously: they apply to initial conditions and thereby prompt the universe to evolve in time. I argue that this fact is striking, introduce some candidate explanations of it, and identify some of their virtues and vices.
Can concepts be identified with phenomenal types?
The paper addresses the title question with the aim of assessing a proposal on the nature of concepts recently brought forward at the intersection between two ongoing debates in the philosophy of mind: the debates on cognitive phenomenology and on phenomenal intentionality. The paper’s main claim is that such a proposal does not satisfy a widely accepted requirement on any adequate theory of concepts, namely the publicity requirement. I shall claim that publicity requires both shareability and manifestability and conclude that while the former is satisfied by (at least) some versions of ...
Aristotle on Substance as being Primary in Time
In a notoriously obscure passage in Metaphysics Z.1 Aristotle claims that substance is primary in time. The only literal interpretation of this controversial claim suggested so far is in terms of existing before and after in time. I argue that this interpretation faces serious problems. I then present a novel literal interpretation of Aristotle's claim, in terms of being an appropriate subject of temporal predications, that is immune to these problems, and strongly supported by philosophical and contextual considerations.
Licensing Voters without Exclusions
Voter licences have been proposed in order to restrict the franchise to competent voters. Here, I suggest a democratic alternative. We could introduce a voter competence test, distinguishing between voters, but without excluding anyone. Those who pass this test may qualify for certain benefits, such as a financial reward or early voting, though all retain the right to vote. This goes some way to address epistocratic concerns, since it recognizes good voters and may provide some incentive for citizens to be informed. However, unlike more familiar epistocratic proposals, it retains universal ...
The Disunity of Moral Judgments
It's usually thought that moral judgments are unified because there is something they all have in common. Cognitivism says moral judgments are all representational; noncognitivism says they are all non-representational. I argue that moral judgments are disunified. But cognitivism has the resources to capture this diversity, while noncognitivism does not.
Why is creative thinking praiseworthy?
Creative thinking and its outcomes are widely appreciated in our society. Not only we value novel ideas and intuitions, but we also praise the agents for their creative thinking. This practice is in tension with other traits of this activity. Creative thinking is open-ended and highly spontaneous. Indeed, many instances of creative thinking seems just to happen to the agent. If having new ideas is just a lucky circumstance, why should we praise the agent for having them? I draw a parallel with moral theories to discuss what we need to justify the attribution of praise to an agent for her creative thinking. I consider the approach presented in deep self theories, and I suggest that agents can be held responsible for creative thinking in virtue of its connection with what they care about. With this idea in mind, I state the commitment principle. According to it, an agent should be held responsible for her creative thinking and praised for it, when she has the commitment necessary to gain the knowledge and the experiences needed to obtain that novel insight. The commitment principle has the merit of accounting for the whole spectrum of creative thinking, independently of how much the agent is intentionally doing something, or how much she can control it. Accepting this principle means to acknowledge that there are spontaneous instances of creative thinking that depend on the agent’s character, interests, and past experiences, which set the conditions for them to happen in certain ways.
Why do philosophers disagree on the relations between the sciences?
I examine why philosophers hold diverse views about how the sciences are related. Some have claimed that this diversity in part reflects aesthetic preferences of philosophers. I disambiguate this feature of the debate and present the normative and philosophical assumptions that are implicit in accounts about reduction, emergence and unity. I argue that, unless such assumptions are made explicit, there cannot be a minimal consensus on how well-established scientific theories are related.
The Myth of Personal Identity: The Self as Embodied and Incomplete
Most would agree that there is something that connects us now to who we were ten years ago, even though we have undergone a course of significant changes both physically and mentally. I argue against the concept of personal identity as applied to an object, and instead suggest that the self is a process which cannot hold the property of personal identity until its completion. As a self emerges from the dynamic interplay of biological development and environmental constraints, each experience limits the degrees of freedom for future self trajectories. Only in death do personal identity and ...
Exit and Equality in a World of States
This paper presents a novel defense of the right to emigrate based on the value of relational equality. It then argues that this defense yields a derivative defense of a right to immigrate of a particular kind. I make this argument in three steps. First, I sketch an account of relational inequality. Drawing on Niko Kolodny’s work, I argue that relational inequality is constituted by unavoidable disparities in power and authority. This generates a prima facie complaint against state power. Second, I use this account to defend the right to exit. On Kolodny's view, state power is ...
Structured Propositions and Universal Generalisations
A universal belief is a belief in a universal generalisation, like 'everything is extended'. In this paper I argue that one popular view of belief, which takes it to be a relation to a structured proposition, has a very difficult time explaining an important fact about universal beliefs, namely that they cause particular beliefs. The most obvious explanation of this fact leads to a regress, and the most obvious ways out of this regress leave the fact unexplained. This threatens the structured proposition view, and suggests we should accept an unstructured view, or give up the idea that ...
Necessitism, the view that necessarily everything exists necessarily, is not only endorsed by contemporary philosophers, such as Timothy Williamson, but also by the great-grandfather of analytic philosophy: Bernard Bolzano. I argue that while Bolzano’s motivation for necessitism is very different from contemporary motivations for this doctrine, it shares important similarities with another contemporary position in metaphysics, albeit one that, interestingly, isn’t typically linked to necessitism: the easy ontology endorsed by Amie Thomasson. This leads to two (interrelated) questions ...
It is common to characterize pain with touch-related terms, like ‘pressing’, ‘sharp’, and ‘pulsing’, or temperature-related terms, like ‘hot’ or ‘burning’. This suggests that many pains are phenomenally multimodal because they are experienced as having some tactile-like or thermal-like character. My goal is to investigate the structure of phenomenally multimodal pain experiences. I argue that the usual accounts of multimodal structure proposed in investigations regarding exteroceptive experiences cannot be plausibly applied to multimodal experiences of pain. Instead, an ...
Causation and Cognition: An Epistemic Approach
Some philosophers argue that only mechanistic explanations are genuine causal explanations. I first argue that this claim is grounded in a commitment to the mechanistic account of causality, which cannot do justice to the variety of causal-explanatory strategies employed by cognitive scientists. Then, I defend the epistemic theory of causality, which holds that causal explanations are genuine to the extent that they have evidential support and yield successful prediction, explanation, and control inferences. Finally, I enact an epistemic unification of causal explanation in cognitive ...
Act Consequentialism, Global Consequentialism, and Normative Ambivalence
Consequentialist theories begin with an axiology: a betterness ordering over outcomes. To this axiology, act-consequentialists add the claim that acts are subject to normative assessment. An act is right iff the expected value of its outcome is at least as great as the expected value of any other act’s outcome. An act is wrong otherwise. And, on act-consequentialism, acts are the only subjects of normative assessment. Terms like ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ apply to acts and acts alone. Global-consequentialists go further. They extend normative assessment to motives and decision-procedures, amongst other things (Feldman 1993; Pettit and Smith 2000; Louise 2006; Driver 2014; Greaves 2020). A set of motives, for example, is right for a person to have iff the expected value of having those motives is at least as great as the expected value of having any other set of motives. Having a set of
motives is wrong otherwise...
Knowing When to Stop
This paper asks what the conditions are under which an agent acquires an aesthetic reason to stop appreciating something that they appreciated before. One plausible view is that such reasons have to be grounded in the change of aesthetic properties of the object of appreciation. It will be shown, however, that also a kind of hedonic change can ground a genuine aesthetic reason to stop. As a result, aesthetic reasons turn out to be partially object- and partially state-given.
Choosing Where to Give
Many people believe that we have strong duties to rescue others in emergencies, and only weaker duties to give to charity. Many people also believe that we are at least permitted, perhaps even required, to give effectively, that is, to charities that do the most good per dollar donated. In this paper, I argue that there is a tension between these beliefs. The
tension arises because different justifications for the duty to rescue prescribe partiality in where to donate. The upshot is that different justifications for the duty to rescue are problematic because they have implausible implications for requirements to give effectively.
AN ARGUMENT AGAINST HILLS' NOTION OF MORAL UNDERSTANDING
The aim of this paper is to present an objection to Hills’ notion of moral understanding. Hills identifies moral understanding strictly as the ability to provide grounding reasons for one’s moral propositions. I argue that if we conceive moral understanding as such, then we cannot make sense of the everyday fact that we often learn the moral import of our actions in conversation with people with whom we enjoy close relationships. The argument’s main move is to invite the reader to conceive moral understanding as the object of moral learning and then show that if we commit to Hills’ ...
Kripke on Empty Names
Saul Kripke (2011) argues that sentences containing empty names fail to express a proposition. Here I outline, assess, and reject his argument as circular and show what the defender of meaningful empty names should say.
Fundamentality and Structure
This paper investigates the structure of the fundamental and the non-fundamental. In particular, the focus is the structure formed by the relation (whatever that is) that non-fundamental facts bear to fundamental ones. The aim is to rule out certain structural conceptions by means of a general, abstract form of argument. The initial target is the conception of Sider , but the argument applies to a whole family of approaches.
No evidence for a thin entailment thesis
Murray, Sytsma, and Livengood (2013) argue that a significant proportion of laypeople reject the entailment thesis, the claim that knowing that φ entails believing that φ. In reply, Buckwalter, Rose, and Turri (2015) distinguish thin from thick belief and argue that laypeople at least endorse the thin entailment thesis, the claim that knowing that φ entails thinly believing that φ. I argue that Buckwalter, Rose, and Turri’s results fail to support even the thin entailment thesis.
Sensitive Moral Semantics: Neo-Aristotelian Ethical Naturalism and Context Shifting Arguments
In this paper, I bring context shifting arguments from philosophy of language to bear on a set of generics that are held by Neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalism to play an important role in moral judgments: vital descriptions about humans. I argue that though there may exist reasons to doubt the force of such arguments in language generally, the counter-argument against them based on what Cappelen and Lepore call a ‘mistaken assumption’ do not apply to these generics because of the constitutive relationship between the context and their subject matter.