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presidential address
1. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
James L. Marsh Self-Appropriation and Liberation: Philosophizing in the Light of Catonsville
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Considering the play written by Daniel Berrigan about his own civil disobedience (burning hundreds of draft files in Catonsville, Maryland), the author asks whether Catholics have adopted the American dream at the expense of Christianity. How should we live and philosophize in an age of American empire? Philosophy must be both practical and transformative. We need to question our political situation since 2001, and arrive at a liberatory philosophy and social theory “from below” so as to meet Berrigan’s liberatory, prophetic theology “from above,” resulting in a philosophy and theology of liberation of and from the seductive imperialist center. The author further stresses individual self-appropriation and the critique of imperialism through a Marxist understanding of surplus value (as arising from labor time for which workers are not paid). There is a link between capitalistic imperialism and militarism, and President Bush has made illegitimate use of religion in the attempt to legitimate empire. Liberation is the good and the happiness that together result from doing the work of justice, free from capitalist corruption. In challenging capitalist empire, we ought to aim for the “downward mobility” of a simpler lifestyle, where self-appropriation leads to moral, religious, and practical conversion. An inhumane, capitalist society is fundamentally at odds with us as human beings, as philosophers, and as Christians.
presentation of the aquinas medal
2. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Anthony Lisska Presentation of the Aquinas Medal
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aquinas medalist's address
3. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Brian Davies Thoughts about God
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The author recounts his own journey from inductive arguments for God’s existence and the Free Will Defense, to the Thomistic claim that we do not know God’s essence (which implies, among other things, that God cannot be classified among things in the world). Propositions can be truly affirmed of God, if we distinguish knowing that a proposition is true and understanding what makes the proposition true. We can say “God exists” without knowing what God is. If God is the Unknown that makes all other things to be, are all our choices positively caused, not just permitted, by God? Since God is not an agent among other agents in the world, he does not coerce us from outside. We are free not in spite of God, but rather because of Him. This does not mean that all our actions are pre-determined; it means, rather, that God creatively makes people who act as they do, to be. The reasons for supposing that we do not know what God is, are the same as the reasons for thinking that He (as the creative source of everything) is more present to us than any creature is.
plenary sessions
4. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Drucilla Cornell Redemption in the Midst of Phantasmagoria: (Dispelling the Fate of Socialism)
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Socialism has been dismissed as a dream in the reality of the world of 9/11. But a mythical narrative that erases the possibility of moral agency doesnot honor the dead. In Walter Benjamin’s language, photographs of the actual dead can supply the “dialectical jolt” that illuminates a possible beyond. Myth isdangerous when it teaches that things will always be as they are now, but myth can also point to a different form of knowledge of the world, beyond the despairthat says only violence can save the world. Socialism, through mutual respect and responsibility, calls us to be people in whose actions the present promises thefuture, shaping the world and becoming ourselves something different. Benjamin and Derrida agree that any attempt to describe experience fails because it points beyond itself to its own limit and how that limit opens space beyond it. Derrida’s “impossible” should not be read as knowledge of what cannot be done, but as a recognition that every experience points to its limit, and we are left with our own responsibility for justice in any given context. Beyond despairing meta-narratives, freedom comes in forming character through effort.
5. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
William Desmond Doing Justice and the Practice of Philosophy
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There is a sense of doing justice prior to the juxtaposition of theory and practice, accounting for an ontological vulnerability prior to both social power andsocial vulnerability. Justice in the sense of “being true” involves fidelity to truth that we neither possess nor construct, preceding all efforts to enact justice. The charge to be just precedes any just act. There is a “patience of being,” or a receiving of being before acting, which we must then actively take up. All this has implications for the practices of philosophy, including transcending the will to power by not clinging to one’s own place in History. The philosopher stands back and enters the void space of the human soul which is vulnerable, both terrorized and capable of terrorizing. This void is a “porosity of the soul” rather than pure nothingness. Though it is no particular project or activity, it allows all openness, receiving, and self-transcendence, and out of it comes the practical energy that feeds activity. The poverty of philosophy means relinquishing meaningless activity of construction in a purposeless universe by a willingness to be nothing, understanding the patience of being before servility and sovereignty, and the justice beyond them.
session 1
6. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Elizabeth A. Linehan Crime and Catholic Tradition: Restoration or Retribution?
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The U.S. Catholic Bishops (2000) have endorsed a model of criminal justice that is restorative rather than retributive. Some interpreters of Catholic tradition defend retribution as a necessary feature of responding to crime (e.g., John Finnis). I argue in this paper that this difference is substantive, not merely linguistic. The essential question is what elements of past Catholic thinking about criminal justice are normative for today. I argue that there are strong moral reasons,consistent with both Catholic tradition and larger principles of social justice, to endorse the bishops’ statement on criminal justice reform, and with it a restorativeapproach to crime.
7. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Emily Crookston Strict Just War Theory and Conditional Pacifism
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With regard to the morality of war, political philosophers have defended one of two basic positions, just war theory or absolute pacifism, but between thesetwo opposing views are various moderate positions. Throughout its long history, the Catholic Church has taken various stances, some strong and others more moderate, on the question of war. Unfortunately, the most recent formulation of the Church’s position is a moderate position without clear guidelines. In this paper I argue that if one wishes to maintain that war is permissible in certain circumstances, it is important to have a position which rules out certain other types of wars as wrong in principle. Neither conditional pacifism nor the modern formulation of just war theory provides such a principled position; instead, the most plausible attempt to place the appropriate limits on war ought to begin from traditional just war theory. This view, which I refer to as strict just war theory, emphasizes particular aspects of traditional just war theory.
session 2
8. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Richard C. Taylor, Max Herrera Aquinas's Naturalized Epistemology
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Recently much interest has been shown in the notion of intelligible species in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. Intelligible species supposedly explain humanknowing of the world and universals. However, in some cases, the historical context and the philosophical sources employed by Aquinas have been sorely neglected. As a result, new interpretations have been set forth which needlessly obscure an already controversial and perhaps even philosophically tenuous doctrine. Using a recent article by Houston Smit as an example of a novel and anachronistic modern interpretation of Aquinas’s abstractionism, this paper shows that Aquinas follows the intentional transference of Averroes who proposes a genuine doctrine of abstraction of intelligibles from experienced sensible particulars. The paper also shows that Aquinas uses the doctrine of primary and secondary causality from the Liber de causis when he asserts that human abstractive powers function only insofar as they are a participation in Divine illumination.
9. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Samuel B. Condic How a priori Is Lonergan?
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The debate between the “Transcendental” and “Neo-” Thomists is an ongoing concern. Specifically, Jeremy Wilkins and John F.X. Knasas differ sharply over the correct interpretation of St. Thomas, Bernard Lonergan, and the very nature of cognition itself (ACPQ 78 [2004]). This debate is clouded, however, due to a lack of appreciation for key terms, specifically, “sensation” and Lonergan’s own phrase “the notion of being.” Using the distinction between precisive and non-precisive abstraction, the author clarifies the relevant sense of “sensation” and its related concepts. The clarification reveals that Wilkins and Knasas use such terms in markedly different, though compatible ways. Second, the notion of being as it is presented in various texts of Lonergan is examined. Contrary to what is supposed by Knasas, the notion of being, for Lonergan, contributes no formal or constitutive element to human knowing, and is in fact a pure potency with respect to intelligibility. Accordingly, any concerns or charges of crypto-Kantianism with respect to Lonergan are unfounded.
session 3
10. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Edward McGushin Reflections on a Critical Genealogy of the Experience of Poverty
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The persistence of poverty is one of the great problems of our times. In this paper I want to show how we can use Michel Foucault’s work to recast thisproblem through a genealogy of the political rationality within which it appears. Foucault’s genealogies present us with at least three irreducible experiences of poverty: 1) the philosophical care of the self where poverty is a goal to be attained; 2) the religious sacralization of the poor and charity; and 3) the bio-political project in which poverty is a social disease to be cured or purged or a resource to be exploited. Foucault offers us the hope of resisting the danger of bio-politics, the cynical logic that stigmatizes the poor for their poverty and places them in apparatuses that treat them like a social disease, a moral failure, or a subhuman form of life.
11. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Jason Bausher "Greening" James L. Marsh's "Philosophy after Catonsville"
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American Catholic Philosophical Association President James Marsh is calling for a “Philosophy after Catonsville.” This paper begins by examining Catonsvilleas specifically American, Catholic, and philosophical. “Wildness” is then presented as it has emerged recently as a category in environmental philosophy andis shown to necessitate a social ecology for Catonsville. Finally, Marsh’s problematic relationship to ecology will be presented and resolved by discussing the necessary entailment of social ecology by his trilogy of Post-Cartesian Meditations, Critique, Action, and Liberation, and Process, Praxis, and Transcendence. By the end of this paper, wildness will have established a crucial connection between Catonsville, Marsh’s “greened” critical theory, and social ecology as a necessary condition for the possibility of a “Philosophy after Catonsville.”
session 4
12. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
James D. Madden, Louis A. Mancha, Jr. A Counterfactual Analysis in Defense of Aquinas's Inference of Omnipotence from Creation Ex Nihilo
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There is a traditional view, maintained by Aquinas and others, which holds that there is a mutual entailment between the power to Create Ex Nihilo(hereafter CEN-power) and the property of omnipotence. In his Metaphysical Disputations, however, Suarez attacks the traditional view by pointing out a seriousflaw in Aquinas’s argument. Suarez claims that there is no reason in principle why God cannot miraculously bestow CEN-power to creatures––albeit in a limitedform––even on the assumption that God cannot make creatures omnipotent. In this paper the authors argue that the debate can be resolved in favor of Aquinas;that CEN-power does indeed strictly imply omnipotence. After clarifying a sufficient condition for the property of omnipotence, the authors argue that attention to amodest possible worlds semantics and some interesting properties of counterfactuals are together sufficient to show that beings with CEN-power are in every case beings that are omnipotent.
13. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Siobhan Nash-Marshall Is Evil Really an Ontological "Primitive"?
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This paper regards the plausibility of rejecting the scholastic claim that the “good” is a transcendental property of being—that ens et bonum convertuntur—onthe basis of two claims: (1) Stephen Cahn’s claim that evil worlds created by an evil God are intrinsically plausible—i.e., that it is plausible to think of evil as a positive and instantiable property; and (2) the claim that “evil is a primitive”—that is, that evil is a primary or basic ontological property. It argues that if an “ontological primitive” must be a property which has no basic constituents other than itself—or whose definition cannot invoke concepts or constituents other than the primitive itself—evil itself cannot be considered a primitive. Nor can it be considered a positive property.
session 5
14. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Jeffrey J. Maciejewski Natural Law, Natural Rhetoric, and Rhetorical Perversions
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Observers, including the Catholic Church, have consistently demonstrated a keen ability to identify instances of rhetoric, such as advertising, that are distasteful or offensive. Although they have not necessarily characterized such endeavors as immoral, I submit that a developing notion of “natural rhetoric” may permit such criticism by contextualizing rhetoric as natural, unnatural or even perverse. Following this approach I assert that natural rhetoric, in service to reason, makes possible the apprehension of the basic good of societas. Consequently, rhetoric of the unnatural variety undermines this teleological purpose; when conceived as a perversion it might not only undermine the mission of natural rhetoric, but it might do so in such a way that it harms one or more individuals. After articulating and testing this exploratory thesis with two exemplars, I offer implications for Thomistic natural law and for those who formulate the Catholic Church’s positions on social communications.
15. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Bernard G. Prusak The Ancients, the Moderns, and the Court
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This paper examines the case of Lawrence v. Texas to bring out the philosophical commitments of Justices Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia. It is proposed that Justices Kennedy and Scalia, while both Catholics, represent fundamentally different visions of the “ends and reasons” of democratic law. A close reading of the Justices’ opinions in Lawrence indicates that Justice Scalia belongs to the tradition of the “ancients” and Justice Kennedy to the tradition of the “moderns.” The paper focuses in particular on the Justices’ interpretations of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It is claimed that the interpretation of this clause turns on a philosophical commitment regarding the ends and reasons that the Constitution should be understood to serve, and thus that justices cannot help acting as “philosopher kings” here. Which of the two Justices is more consistent with the Catholic tradition is proposed as a question for another day.
session 6
16. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
William Jaworski Hylomorphism and Mental Causation
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Mind-body problems are predicated on two things: a distinction between the mental and the physical, and premises that make it difficult to see how the two are related. Before Descartes there were no mind-body problems of the sort now forming the stock in trade of philosophy of mind. One possible explanation for this is that pre-Cartesian philosophers working in the Aristotelian tradition had a different way of understanding the mental-physical distinction, the nature of causation, and the character of psychological discourse, which was not liable to generating problems of a post-Cartesian sort. If so, it might be possible to recover and redeploy parts of that pre-Modern conceptual apparatus to resolve contemporary mind-body problems. I will argue that at least one such problem can be solved in this way.
17. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Kevin W. Sharpe Thomas Aquinas and Nonreductive Physicalism
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Eleonore Stump has recently argued that Thomas Aquinas’s philosophy of mind is consistent with a nonreductive physicalist approach to human psychology. Iargue that by examining Aquinas’s account of the subsistence of the rational soul we can see that Thomistic dualism is inconsistent with physicalism of every variety. Specifically, his reliance on the claim that the mind has an operation per se spells trouble for any physicalist interpretation. After offering Stump’s reading of Aquinas and her case for the supposed consistency with nonreductive physicalism, I use Aquinas’s discussion of the mind’s operation per se to argue that the human mind is incapable of being physically realized. To support this general argument, I offer a detailed examination of Stump’s use of two criteria of physicalism drawn from contemporary functional analyses of the mind and argue that both are inconsistent with Aquinas’s theory.
session 7
18. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Patrick Murray, Jeanne Schuler Karl Marx and the Critique of Bourgeois Philosophy
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Marx launched a revolution in social thought that has been largely ignored. We locate this revolution in the context of two major reassessments of modern philosophy, Heidegger’s Being and Time and Donald Davidson’s new anti-subjectivism. We argue that the philosophical significance of Marx’s critique of the capitalist mode of production—his critique of the bourgeois horizon—has been overlooked. The paper exposes the bourgeois mindset that runs through political economy, “traditional” Marxism, and much of modern and postmodern philosophy. Bourgeois thinking is marked by a series of “purist splits,” conceptual distinctions that are mishandled as actual separations: conceptual vs. empirical, conceptual scheme vs. thing in itself, individual vs. society, production vs. distribution, preference vs. the preferred object, and subjective vs. objective. Marx shows how capitalist social forms that produce the notion of “value added” inculcate the purist, bifurcating bourgeois horizon.
19. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Madonna R. Adams The Concept of Work in Maria Montessori and Karl Marx
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Surprising as it may appear, the philosophical writings of political economist Karl Marx (1818–1883), and those of philosopher, educator Maria Montessori(1870–1952), show thematic resemblances that invite further exploration. These resemblances reflect both keen awareness of the historical period they shared, but also important common threads in their philosophical anthropology, ethical and political values, and goals. In this paper, I examine one central thread which both take as fundamental, namely, the centrality of work in achieving the harmonious development of humankind. I critique Marx’s description of the dynamic process leading to his classless society, because he fails to supply the proximate, efficient cause or middle term that effects this goal. My thesis is that Montessori supplies this missing causal link through her scientific demonstration of the work and function of the child and her holistic understanding of the human person in its full historical dimension, and human and cosmic telos.
session 8
20. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 79
Peter R. Costello Towards a Phenomenology of Gratitude: What Is 'Pleasing' in the Euthyphro
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In this paper, I examine Plato’s Euthyphro phenomenologically, reading the dialogue as manifesting the posture and activity of gratitude as an essential moment of piety. This phenomenon of gratitude appears directly through Euthyphro’s own remarks and indirectly through Socrates’s interaction with Euthyphro. Other recent commentators, notably Mark McPherran, David Parry, James Brouwer, and William Mann, have noted the importance of the Euthyphro as a dialogue that offers a great deal to the discussion of piety through the shape of the relationship between Socrates and Euthyphro. In building my argument, I follow Parry’s examination of the notion of therapeia or care in order to mark out my own emphasis on charis or gratitude. And I note that, when gratitude is taken as an important phenomenon in the dialogue, what also appears to the reader is the pious possibility of authentic gift-giving and mutual recognition, something Brouwer, Mann, and McPherran have also noted indirectly. Finally, in addition to its synthesis of previous scholarship around a new theme, this paper applies to the dialogue the arguments of Melanie Klein’s “Envy and Gratitude,” Martin Heidegger’s lectures entitled What Is Called Thinking, and Jacques Derrida’s Given Time.