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Displaying: 1-20 of 35 documents

1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 4
William J. FitzPatrick Skepticism about Naturalizing Normativity: In Defense of Ethical Nonnaturalism
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There is perhaps no more widely shared conviction in contemporary metaethics, even among those who hold otherwise divergent views, than that practical normativity must be capable of being naturalized (i.e., captured fully within a metaphysically naturalist worldview). My aim is to illuminate the central reasons for skepticism about this. While certain naturalizing projects are plausible for very limited purposes, it is unlikely that any can provide everything we might reasonably want from an account of goodness and badness, rightness and wrongness, and unqualified reasons for acting—at least if we are unwilling to accept certain deflationary or bullet-biting moves. Some naturalizing views can be shown to fail outright to capture the relevant normative facts or properties, while others have more promise but can also be seen to have certain limitations and costs, failing to capture elements that some of us take to be important to an adequate theory of practical normativity. There are, of course, far more naturalizing moves than can be considered here, so the aim is not to establish the truth of nonnaturalism through a process of elimination. But I hope to say enough to bring out the central worries about naturalizing projects and to pose some challenges that apply more widely, with the aim of showing that ethical nonnaturalism remains an attractive and well-motivated option at least for those of us who reject both nihilism and various forms of ethical deflation.
2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 4
Nicholas Laskowski How to Pull a Metaphysical Rabbit out of an End-Relational Semantic Hat
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Analytic reductivism in metaethics has long been out of philosophical vogue. In Confusion of Tongues: A Theory of Normativity (2014), Stephen Finlay tries to resuscitate it by developing an analytic metaethical reductive naturalistic semantics for ‘good.’ He argues that an end-relational semantics is the simplest account that can explain all of the data concerning the term, and hence the most plausible theory of it. I argue that there are several assumptions that a reductive naturalist would need to make about contextual parameter completion, to derive reductive naturalism from an end-relational semantics—assumptions that nonnaturalists might forcefully resist. I also argue for the claim that an end-relational semantics could provide surprising resources for nonnaturalists to address semantic worries about their views—the upshot of which paints the way for a new and sophisticated nonnaturalism about the semantics of moral discourse. Nonnaturalists have long suspected that they need not worry about semantics and this paper lends support to that suspicion.
3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 4
Justin Morton, Eric Sampson Parsimony and the Argument from Queerness
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In his recent book Error Theory: History, Critique, Defence, Jonas Olson attempts to revive the argument from queerness originally made famous by J. L. Mackie. In this paper, we do three things. First, we eliminate four untenable formulations of the argument. Second, we argue that the most plausible formulation is one that depends crucially upon considerations of parsimony. Finally, we evaluate this formulation of the argument. We conclude that it is unproblematic for proponents of moral nonnaturalism—the target of the argument from queerness.
4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 4
Aaron Elliott Can Moral Principles Explain Supervenience?
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The distribution of moral properties supervenes on the distribution of natural properties, and this provides a puzzle for nonnaturalism: what could explain supervenience if moral properties are not natural properties? Enoch claims moral principles explain supervenience. But this solution is incomplete without an account of what moral principles and properties are, and what relation holds between them. This paper begins to develop such an account by exploring analogous issues for Realism about Laws of nature in philosophy of science. Appealing to Mumford’s Central Dilemma for Realism about Laws, I argue that for moral principles to explain supervenience, moral properties must be ontologically dependent on the principles. I suggest that moral properties are relations between moral principles and natural properties. I also explore what it would take to adapt this explanation to a pluralistic theory of morality. Contributory reasons avoid the Cartwright Problem for Laws in a way component forces cannot.
5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 4
Christopher Cowie A New Explanatory Challenge for Nonnaturalists
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According to some contemporary nonnaturalists about normativity (e.g., Parfit, Scanlon, Dworkin), normative facts exist in an ontologically non-committing sense. These nonnaturalists face an explanatory burden. They must explain their claim that normative facts exist in such a sense. I identify criteria for an adequate explanation, and extract five distinct candidate explanations from the writings of these authors (based on causal efficacy, analogy with modality, fundamentality, domain-relativity and first-order considerations respectively). I assess each. None is both (a) informative and (b) recognizable as a version of contemporary nonnaturalism. In light of this, I assess the best options for proponents of this view.
6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 4
Peter A. Sutton Moore's "New" Open Question Argument
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For more than 100 years, metaethicists have overlooked the best version of G. E. Moore’s Open Question Argument. This despite the fact that it appears on the same page of Principia Ethica as his other, weaker versions of the argument. This better Open Question Argument does not rely on introspection of the meanings of ethical terms, and so does not fall to the standard criticisms of Moore. In this paper, I present this “new” Open Question Argument and show that Moore has done to naturalistic ethics something like what Plato’s Euthyphro does to supernaturalistic ethics.
7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 3
J. C. Berendzen Disjunctivism and Perceptual Knowledge in Merleau-Ponty and McDowell
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On the face of it, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s views bear a strong resemblance to contemporary disjunctivist theories of perception, especially John McDowell’s epistemological disjunctivism. Like McDowell (and other disjunctivists), Merleau-Ponty seems to be a direct realist about perception and holds that veridical and illusory perceptions are distinct. This paper furthers this comparison. Furthermore, it is argued that elements of Merleau-Ponty’s thought provide a stronger case for McDowell’s kind of epistemological view than McDowell himself provides. Merleau-Ponty’s early thought can be used to develop a unique version of epistemological disjunctivism that is worth consideration alongside contemporary views on perceptual knowledge.
8. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 3
M. Oreste Fiocco On Simple Facts
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It is plausible that every true representation is made true by something in the world beyond itself. I believe that a simple fact is the truthmaker of each true proposition. Simple facts are not familiar entities. This lack of familiarity might lead many to regard them with suspicion, to think that including them in one’s ontology is an ad hoc maneuver. Although such suspicion is warranted initially, it is, I believe, ultimately unfounded. In this paper, I first present what I take to be the simplest argument for simple facts. I then clarify what a simple fact is supposed to be by elucidating the way in which such entities are simple and elaborating an account of their nature. The simplest argument for simple facts relies on a premise that is deeply plausible and yet not uncontroversial, so I present a second argument that forgoes this premise. The second argument is more subtle—and shows the relevance to this discussion of unity from complexity, a metaphysical notion of profound importance—and yet leads to the same conclusion: simple facts exist. I end by considering some concerns one might have regarding the existence of simple facts or the fundamental role that I maintain they have in making true our thoughts and claims about the world.
9. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 3
Lucian Petrescu John Duns Scotus and the Ontology of Mixture
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This paper presents Duns Scotus’s theory of mixture in the context of medieval discussions over Aristotle’s theory of mixed bodies. It revisits the accounts of mixture given by Avicenna, Averroes, and Thomas Aquinas, before presenting Scotus’s account as a reaction to Averroes. It argues that Duns Scotus rejected the Aristotelian theory of mixture altogether and that his account went contrary to the entire Latin tradition. Scotus denies that mixts arise out of the four classical elements and he maintains that both the elemental forms and the elemental qualities are lost in the mixture. Consequently, he denies the distinction between the process of mixture and that of substantial change through generation and corruption. The reassessment of Scotus’s account modifies the current historical representation of this discussion, inherited from Anneliese Maier.
10. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 3
Kris McDaniel Metaphysics, History, Phenomenology
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There are three interconnected goals of this paper. The first is to articulate and motivate a view of the methodology for doing metaphysics that is broadly phenomenological in the sense of Husserl circa the Logical Investigations. The second is to articulate an argument for the importance of studying the history of philosophy when doing metaphysics that is in accordance with this methodology. The third is to confront this methodology with a series of objections and determine how well it fares in light of them.
11. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 3
Miroslav Hanke Semantic Paradox: A Comparative Analysis of Scholastic and Analytic Views
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Scholastic and analytic definitions of semantic paradoxes, in terms of groundlessness, circularity, and semantic pathology, are introduced and compared with each other. The fundamental intuitions used in these definitions are the concepts of being true about extralinguistic reality, of making statements about one’s self, and of compatibility with an underlying semantic theory. The three approaches—the groundlessness view, the circularity view, and the semantic pathology view—are shown to differ not only conceptually, but also in their applications. As both a means for showing these differences and as an adequacytest, the so-called two-line puzzles are used, which allows one to address the possibility of making non-paradoxical statements about paradoxical sentences within the same language.
12. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 3
Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung Practicing Hope
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In this essay, I consider how the theological virtue of hope might be practiced. I will first explain Thomas Aquinas’s account of this virtue, including its structural relation to the passion of hope, its opposing vices, and its relationship to the friendship of charity. Then, using narrative and character analysis from the film The Shawshank Redemption, I examine a range of hopeful and proto-hopeful practices concerning both the goods one hopes for and the power one relies on to attain those goods. In particular, I show how the film’s picture of the role friends and friendship play in catalyzing hope is a compelling metaphor for Christian hope’s reliance on God.
13. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 3
Terence Cuneo The Significance of Liturgical Singing
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This is an essay on two topics—singing and liturgy—that lie well outside the standard repertoire of topics that form the subject matter of contemporary philosophy of religion, let alone Anglo-American philosophy more generally. Nonetheless, I maintain that thinking through the topic of liturgical singing can bear philosophical fruit. My discussion takes as its starting point the striking fact that the liturgies of Eastern Christianity are almost entirely sung. I explore the question why this would be especially fitting. The answer I offer draws upon recent work in philosophy of literature, collective action, and musical cognition, arguing that what I call the secondary form of the liturgy and its content mesh in such a way that, when an assembly sings the content of the liturgical script, it thereby instantiates important dimensions of its content.
14. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 3
Marina Oshana Trust and Autonomous Agency
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This paper explores the role trust plays in the context of health care partnerships where the preservation of autonomy is desired. The case of IN RE: Maria Isabel Duran is used as a focal point for discussion. I argue that within the context of collective decision making of the sort that occurs in health care relationships, trust is consistent with autonomous agency, provided the trust is relational, a property of a triadic relation between the patient and her partners in health care, and between the patient and herself. Moreover, if it is the autonomy of the patient that drives the nature and the direction of her medical options, we must respect a medical ethic of informed consent and durable powers of attorney and the patient’s right of selfgovernance this ethic serves. At the foundation of trust in others and in oneself is respect.
15. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 3
Alisa Bokulich Metaphysical Indeterminacy, Properties, and Quantum Theory
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It has frequently been suggested that quantum mechanics may provide a genuine case of ontic vagueness or metaphysical indeterminacy. However, discussions of quantum theory in the vagueness literature are often cursory and, as I shall argue, have in some respects been misguided. Hitherto much of the debate over ontic vagueness and quantum theory has centered on the “indeterminate identity” construal of ontic vagueness, and whether the quantum phenomenon of entanglement produces particles whose identity is indeterminate. I argue that this way of framing the debate is mistaken. A more thorough examination of quantum theory and the phenomenon of entanglement reveals that quantum mechanics is best interpreted as supporting what I call the “vague property” construal of ontic vagueness, where vague properties are understood in terms of determinable properties without the corresponding determinates.
16. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 3
Andrew J. Jaeger A Tale of Two Parts
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Joshua Spencer (2010) has recently used the problem of spatial intrinsics in conjunction with the possibility of extended atomic regions of space to argue against the possibility of extended heterogeneous simples. In part 1, I explain Spencer’s argument against the possibility of heterogeneous simples. In part 2, I argue that if his argument is sound, then a parody argument can be constructed showing that heterogeneous composite objects are also impossible. In part 3, I provide an objection to my parody argument. I then go on to argue that if this objection is successful, then Spencer’s argument is left susceptible to an analogous objection. In short, I argue that either Spencer has shown that composite and simple heterogeneous objects are impossible, or that Spencer’s argument against the possibility of extended heterogeneous simples (and my parody argument) is unsound.
17. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 3
Joshua Spencer Two Thoughts on "A Tale of Two Parts"
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In “A Tale of Two Simples,” I presented an argument against the possibility of extended heterogeneous simples that relied on the possibility of extended atomic regions of space. Andrew Jaeger has presented a parody of one part of my argument for a clearly absurd conclusion. In this short paper, I defend my argument by showing that there is a significant disanalogy between my support for a key premise in my argument and Jaeger’s support for the corresponding premise in his parody argument. Also, in opposition to my previous position, I present a case against the possibility of extended atomic regions of space.
18. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 3
Daniel Padgett, T. Ryan Byerly Reconstituting Ersatzer Presentism
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Presentists claim that only presently existing objects exist. One version of presentism is ersatzer presentism, according to which times are a kind of abstract object. Such a view is appealing because it affords the presentist an answer to the grounding objection—a potentially lethal objection to presentism. Despite this advantage, available versions of ersatzer presentism suffer from a heretofore unappreciated shortcoming: they cannot account for the truth of certain counterfactual claims about the past. We argue for this claim by considering two views representative of ersatzer presentism—those of Thomas Crisp and Craig Bourne. After presenting our arguments against their views, we defend two crucial assumptions in those arguments. Finally, we offer a novel version of ersatzer presentism that appropriates the metaphysics of constitution in order to avoid the difficulty that current ersatzer presentist views face.
19. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 3
Daniel Lim, Wang Hao Can Mary's Qualia Be Epiphenomenal?
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Frank Jackson (1982) famously argued, with his so-called Knowledge Argument (KA), that qualia are non-physical. Moreover, he argued that qualia are epiphenomenal. Some have objected that epiphenomenalism is inconsistent with the soundness of KA. One way of developing this objection, following Neil Campbell (2003; 2012), is to argue that epiphenomenalism is at odds with the kind of behavioral evidence that makes the soundness of KA plausible. We argue that Campbell’s claim that epiphenomenalism is inconsistent with the soundness of KA is false.
book symposium
20. Res Philosophica: Volume > 91 > Issue: 3
Helen Steward Précis of "A Metaphysics for Freedom"
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