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1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 2
Susan Brower-Toland Introduction
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2021 res philosophica essay prize
2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 2
Eric W. Hagedorn The Changing Role of Theological Authority in Ockham's Razor
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Ockham’s own formulations of his Razor state that one should only include a given entity in one’s ontology when one has either sensory evidence, demonstrative argument, or theological authority in favor of it. But how does Ockham decide which theological claims to treat as data for theory construction? Here I show how over time (perhaps in no small part due to pressure and attention from ecclesiastical censors) Ockham refined and changed the way he formulated his Razor, particularly the “authority clause” that states that authoritative theological pronouncements constitute a reason for postulating entities in one’s ontology. This refinement proceeded across three stages, culminating in the political writings of the final period of his life, in which Ockham offers reasons (not previously mentioned in scholarly discussions of Ockham’s Razor) against granting ecclesial authority any significant role to play in settling ontological questions.
3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 2
Giorgio Pini Making Room for Miracles: John Duns Scotus on Homeless Accidents
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In this article, I consider Duns Scotus’s treatment of accidents existing without substances (= homeless accidents) in the Eucharist to shed light on how he thinks Aristotle’s metaphysics should be modified to make room for miracles. In my reconstruction, Duns Scotus makes two changes to Aristotle’s metaphysics. First, he distinguishes a given thing’s natural inclinations (its “aptitudes”) from the manifestations of those inclinations. Second, he argues that it is up to God’s free decisions (organized in systematic policies) whether a thing’s aptitudes manifest or do not manifest themselves in any given situation. In this way, Duns Scotus tries to find a point of equilibrium between the necessary causal order he attributes to Aristotle and his followers on the one hand, and God’s freedom to break the natural order at any moment on the other hand.
4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 2
Zita V. Toth Sine qua non Causes and Their Discontents
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For theological reasons, medieval thinkers maintained that sacraments “effect what they figure”—that is, they are more than mere signs of grace; and yet, they also maintained that they are not proper causes of grace in the way fire is the proper cause of heat. One way to reconcile these requirements is to explicate sacramental causation in terms of sine qua non causes, which were distinguished from accidental causes on the one hand, and from proper efficient causes on the other hand. This article traces the development of this concept, as discussed in the context of the sacraments, from Scotus and Auriol, via Ockham and Peter of Ailly, to Gabriel Biel. It shows how the discussion, in its later stages, opened up concerns about occasionalism, offering thereby a case study of how particular theological issues led to metaphysical ones in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 2
Christina Van Dyke The Voice of Reason: Medieval Contemplative Philosophy
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Scholastic debates about the activity of our final end—happiness—become famously heated in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, with intellectualists claiming that the primary activity through which we are joined to God is intellective ‘vision’ and voluntarists claiming that it is love (an act of will). These conversations represent only one set of medieval views on the subject, however. If we look to contemplative sources in the same period—even just those of the Rome-based Christian tradition—we find a range of views on our final end that runs the gamut from ‘self-less union with an unknowable God’ to ‘embodied fulfilment of human nature.’ In this article, I argue that these differing conceptions push their holders to develop a correspondingly wide range of attitudes toward the human faculty of reason, particularly with respect to its value (or lack thereof) in helping us achieve our ultimate end. Medieval thinking on this topic is thus much more complex—and offers more points of connection with contemporary philosophical theology—than is typically recognized.
6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 2
Jordan Lavender The Beatific Vision and the Metaphysics of Conscious Experience in John of Ripa
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Does human happiness consist in God, as the widespread medieval view that God is the last end of human beings would suggest, or does it consist in the experience of God, the view suggested by medieval readings of Aristotle? In response to this theological problem, the important fourteenth-century philosopher John of Ripa developed one of the most innovative and subtle late medieval theories of the metaphysics of awareness. This article provides an account of Ripa’s theory of awareness and shows how the theory was both motivated by and intended to solve this central theological problem for late medieval thought. In Section 1, I present the theological problem. In Section 2, I examine Ripa’s innovative theory of the metaphysics of awareness. In Section 3, I show how Ripa uses his account of the metaphysics of awareness to offer a solution to the theological problem.
7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 2
Simona Vucu Christine de Pizan on Worldly Prudence and Loving God in The Treasure of the City of Ladies
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In The Treasure of the City of Ladies, Christine de Pizan gives various categories of laywomen advice on how to love God (the teachings about loving God) and to lead their lives (the teachings of worldly prudence). This article explores the connection between the two kinds of teachings focusing on the relevance of manners for spirituality and morality. Worldly prudence is about manners, reputation, and self-discipline—that is, about how people should behave toward one another and present themselves to each other. I argue that for de Pizan, manners are spiritually and morally relevant in two ways. On the one hand, they convey how individuals should practice the teachings about loving God in a way that agrees with these individuals’ status in their communities. On the other hand, by practicing the virtues with good manners, people can make surprising moral and spiritual gains and so deepen the teachings about loving God.
8. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 2
Amber J. Griffioen Doing Public Philosophy in the Middle Ages?: On the Philosophical Potential of Medieval Devotional Texts
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Medieval and early modern devotional works rarely receive serious treatment from philosophers, even those working in the subfields of philosophy of religion or the history of ideas. In this article, I examine one medieval devotional work in particular—the Middle High German image- and verse-program, Christus und die minnende Seele (CMS)—and I argue that it can plausibly be viewed as a form of medieval public philosophy, one that both exhibited and encouraged philosophical innovation. I address a few objections to my proposal—namely, that CMS is neither public enough nor that it counts as proper philosophy—and I attempt to defend CMS’s public philosophical credentials in light of these objections. I conclude with a brief discussion of how devotional texts like CMS can help us do innovative public philosophy today.
9. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 1
Adam Wood Thomas Aquinas on Reprobation: The Arbitrariness Problem and Some Quiescence Solutions
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Given certain anti-Pelagian assumptions he endorses, Aquinas faces an “arbitrariness problem” explaining why God predestines and reprobates the particular individuals he does. One response to the problem that Aquinas offers—biting the bullet and conceding God’s arbitrariness—has a high theoretical cost. Eleonore Stump proposes a less costly alternative solution on Thomas’s behalf, drawing on his notion that our wills may rest in a state of “quiescence.” Her proposal additionally purports to answer the general question why God reprobates anyone at all. I argue that Aquinas’s understanding of the relationship between divine causation and human freedom prevents him from accepting Stump’s proposal as she herself puts it forward; he couldn’t accept it as an answer to the general question. Nevertheless, I claim, granted one controversial but widely accepted assumption—that he isn’t a divine determinist—Aquinas could accept a slightly modified version of her quiescence solution to the arbitrariness problem. Indeed, there is evidence that he did accept some of its key components.
10. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 1
Nader Alsamaani An Epistemic Defeater for the Asharite Metaethical Theory
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In this article, I develop two arguments against the Asharite metaethical theory concerning God’s actions. First, I purport that the probability of God’s revelation being true given that the Asharite metaethical theory obtains is low. However, as some Asharites might point out, the probability increases by considering other items from the Asharite theology, which ultimately renders the first argument flawed. I further argue that the probability of our cognitive faculties being reliable given the Asharite metaethical theory concerning God’s action being true is rather low. I establish that this renders the Asharite metaethical theory self-referentially incoherent. I then provide another version of the second argument that avoids the reference to conditional probability in an attempt to undercut any objection that depends on the usage of conditional probability in the second argument.
11. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 1
Adam Harmer Mereological Nihilism and Simple Substance in Leibniz
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Leibniz famously argues that there must be simple substances, since there are composites, and a composite is nothing but a collection of simples. I reconstruct Leibniz’s argument, showing that it relies on a commitment to mereological nihilism (i.e., the view that composites cannot be true beings). I show further that Leibniz endorses mereological nihilism as early as the 1680s and offers both direct and indirect support for this commitment: indirect support via the notion of unity and direct support via the notion of persistence. I then assess the alignment of Leibniz’s mereological nihilism with his other commitments during the 1680s, including his potential commitment to corporeal substances. I argue that any viable interpretation of Leibniz’s commitment to corporeal substances is compatible with mereological nihilism, which provides a new perspective both on Leibniz’s developing theory of substance and on his mature theory of simple substance.
12. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 1
Alexander Leferman A Davidsonian Account of the Practicality of Practical Reasoning
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What makes practical reasoning practical? One answer to this question depends on what counts as an appropriate conclusion of practical reasoning. I defend accounts of practical reasoning that conclude in normative judgment by appeal to Davidsonian judgment-sensitive attitudes. In particular, I defend them against the objection that normative judgments lack a rational connection to action. To be considered practical, judgment accounts, as I call them, need to explain this rational connection. I argue that Davidsonian judgment-sensitive attitudes explain this rational connection by being conceptually related to normative judgments and systemically aiming at getting normative matters right.
13. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 1
Jim Stone Zombies, Functionalism and Qualia
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David Chalmers maintains there is a logically possible world (Z) where we all have physically and functionally identical twins without conscious experiences. Z entails that qualia are extra-physical, hence physicalism is false. I argue that his Zombie Argument (ZA) fails on functionalist grounds. Qualia sometimes affect behavior or they never do. If they do affect behavior, they sometimes individuate functional states; hence my zombie twin cannot be functionally identical to me. To save ZA, we must support the second disjunct. This requires arguing that qualia are extra-physical; otherwise why wouldn’t they affect behavior? Suppose we find such an argument. But now ZA is idle. The supposedly successful argument that qualia are extra-physical does all the work. Hence Z is impossible or ZA is idle.
14. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 4
Tim Juvshik Artifactualization without Physical Modification
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Much recent discussion has focused on the nature of artifacts, particularly on whether they have essences. While it’s often held that artifacts are intentiondependent and necessarily have functions, it’s equally held, though far less discussed, that artifacts are the result of physical modification of some material objects. This article argues that the physical modification condition on artifacts is false. First, it formulates the physical modification condition perspicuously for the first time. Second, it offers counterexamples to this condition. Third, it considers and rejects two responses to these counterexamples, one which appeals to the distinction between being a K and being used as a K and another which argues that the counterexamples are merely of functional, not artifactual, kinds. Finally, it considers and rejects a more general objection that appropriation makes artifact creation too easy. Therefore, artifacts can be created by appropriation, and I sketch some success conditions for such appropriation.
15. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 4
Callie K. Phillips Why Future-Bias Isn't Rationally Evaluable
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Future-bias is preferring some lesser future good to a greater past good because it is in the future, or preferring some greater past pain to some lesser future pain because it is in the past. Most of us think that this bias is rational. I argue that no agents have futurebiased preferences that are rationally evaluable—that is, evaluable as rational or irrational. Given certain plausible assumptions about rational evaluability, either we must find a new conception of future-bias that avoids the difficulties I raise, or we must conclude that future-biased preferences are not subject to rational evaluation.
16. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 4
Joseph Vukov Rationality and Cognitive Enhancement
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When is it rational to undergo cognitive enhancement? In the case of what I’ll call massive cognitive enhancement, my answer is never. The reason is that one must base one’s decision to undergo massive cognitive enhancement on what I’ll call either phenomenal or non-phenomenal outcomes. If the former, the choice is not rational because massive cognitive enhancements are transformative and, I’ll argue with Paul (2015), transformative experiences cannot be chosen rationally. If the latter, the choice is not rational because it ought to be based at least partly on phenomenal outcomes. This argument, however, leaves open the idea that it may nonetheless be rational to choose massive cognitive enhancement for others—for example, one’s children. The article explores this possibility, arguing that choosing enhancement for others can be rational or moral, but not both.
17. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 4
Stafan Rinner Recanati on 'That'-clauses
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The received view concerning belief ascriptions of the form ‘A believes that S’ says (A) that ‘believe’ denotes a relation holding between agents and truth-bearing entities (propositions), and (B) that ‘that’-clauses are referential expressions denoting propositions. In “‘That’-Clauses as Existential Quantifiers,” Recanati expresses his dissatisfaction with the received view. According to Recanati, (B) threatens semantic innocence. Therefore, following Panaccio, Recanati proposes to treat ‘that’-clauses of the form ‘that S’ as restricted existential quantifiers of the form ‘For some p such that p is true iff S.’ In this article, I will argue that together with Kripke’s disquotational principle connecting sincere assertion and belief this analysis leads to unacceptable consequences. Since, as we shall see, the solution cannot be to reject Kripke’s disquotational principle, it will follow that the Recanati-Panaccio analysis cannot be correct. Concluding, I will show that the argument against the Recanati-Panaccio analysis of ‘that’-clauses also provides a more general way of testing semantic analyses and that, unlike the Recanati-Panaccio analysis, the received view passes this test.
book symposium
18. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 4
David McPherson Précis of Virtue and Meaning
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19. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 4
Philip J. Ivanhoe Comments on David McPherson's Virtue and Meaning: A Neo-Aristotelian Perspective
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20. Res Philosophica: Volume > 98 > Issue: 4
Christian B. Miller McPherson on Virtue and Meaning
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