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Displaying: 1-20 of 344 documents

1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 4
Juan Garcia Torres Carlos Vaz Ferreira on Freedom and Determinism
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Carlos Vaz Ferreira argues that the problem of freedom is conceptually distinct from the problem of causal determinism. The problem of freedom is ultimately a problem regarding the ontologically independent agency of a being, and the problem of determinism is a problem regarding explanations of events or acts in terms of the totality of their antecedent causal conditions. As Vaz Ferreira sees it, failing to keep these problems apart gives rise to merely apparent but unreal puzzles pertaining to the nature of freedom and its relation to determinism. In this article, I present my interpretation of Vaz Ferreira’s distinctive ideas regarding the nature of freedom and its relation to casual determinism.
2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 4
Sahana V. Rajan Throwing the Baby Out with the Bathwater: The Dangers of Global and Local Ontologies in Scientific Metaphysics
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In the recent years, attempts to relate metaphysics and sciences have taken various alternative forms such as metaphysics applied to science, metaphysics of science, and scientific metaphysics. In this article, I focus on scientific metaphysics and specifically explore the challenges with developing ontologies through four arguments. The Argument from Representational Indeterminacy highlights that global ontologies fail to clearly identify their target phenomenon. The Argument from Independent Inaccessibility explores the methodological difficulty of accessing a world that is independent of specific sets of phenomena. The Argument from Conceptual Mismatch focuses on the tendency of local ontologies to pick out arbitrary scientific concepts, adapting them to study phenomena where they might not fit well. Finally, the Argument from Eliminative Prophecy details the possibility that local ontologies could eventually be rendered redundant by mature versions of scientific theories. In the end, given these challenges, I recommend an eliminativist stance toward ontology development.
3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 4
Kurt Blankschaen Are Mass Shooters a Social Kind?
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On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed fifteen people at their high school in Columbine, Colorado. National media dubbed the event a “school shooting.” The term grimly expanded over the next several years to include similar events at army bases, movie theaters, churches, and nightclubs. Today, we commonly use the categories “mass shooter” and “mass shooting” to organize and classify information about gun violence. I will argue that neither category is an effective tool for reducing gun violence and use empirical data to show how these categories perpetuate a moral panic that harms already vulnerable demographics. I conclude that we should instead favor a narrower description of individuals and events, (e.g., “X shot Y people at Z”) because we can talk about all the relevant cases without contributing the undue harms.
4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 4
Mona Simion Sosa on Permissible Suspension and the Proper Remit of the Theory of Knowledge
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5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 4
Allan Hazlett The Aim of Suspension
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6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 4
Ernest Sosa On Epistemic Explanations: Response to Two Critics
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7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 3
Tianyue Wu Aquinas on Wrong Judgments of Conscience
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Conscience can err. Yet erroneous conscience still seems binding in that it is likely to be morally wrong to ignore the call of conscience. Meanwhile, it seems equally wrong to act according to such a wrong judgment of conscience. The moral dilemma of erroneous conscience poses a challenge to any coherent theory of conscience. In light of this, I will examine Aquinas’s reflections on the psychological mechanism of erroneous conscience and reconstruct a sophisticated explanation of the obligatory force of erroneous conscience, in which the conscientious integrity of the agent is intimately integrated with the sovereignty of divine law. Next, I will appeal to Aquinas’s distinction between the judgment of conscience (iudicium consentiae) and that of free decision (iudicium liberi arbitrii) to show that the judgments pertaining to conscience are purely cognitive rather than affective. This analysis will also help specify in what sense we can tolerate conscience’s wrong judgments.
8. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 3
Joshua Hinchie, S.J. Justice toward God: Piety and the Problem of Human-Divine Reciprocity
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In both Plato and Thomas Aquinas, we find proposals to understand piety or religion as justice toward God/the gods. One issue with this proposal is what can be called the problem of human-divine reciprocity: Since justice would seem to require human beings to make a return for what they have received from God/the gods, how can this be done without implying God/the gods lack something that human beings can supply? I outline the account of piety/religion as justice toward the divine in both Plato and Aquinas, noting how the reciprocity problem arises along the way. Then I defend a proposed solution drawn from Aquinas: that glory, or the manifestation of divine goodness, is what God seeks in pious human action, yet without implying any benefit to God thereby.
9. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 3
Daniel Villiger An Ignorance Account of Hard Choices
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Ignorance is said to be the most widely accepted explanation of what makes choices hard (Chang 2017). But despite its apparent popularity, the debate on hard choices has been dominated by tetrachotomist (e.g., “parity”) and vagueness views. In fact, there is no elaborate ignorance account of hard choices. This article closes this research gap. In so doing, it connects the debate on hard choices with that on transformative experiences (Paul 2014). More precisely, an option’s transformative character can prevent us from epistemically accessing its expected value, promoting ignorance of how to rank the options. Methods of achieving an advance assessment of transformative experiences such as fine-graining, consulting testimony, and using higher-order facts can sometimes evade this epistemic blockade, but not always. Therefore, in cases where these methods fail, a choice can be hard because of our ignorance. The prominent hard choice between two careers could be such a case.
10. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 3
Xavier Castellà About the Scope of Non-Observational Practical Knowledge
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I discuss the issue whether the kind of nonobservational knowledge about our intentional actions that can be detected in ideal, paradigmatic cases can also be present when the agent is not confident enough to believe she will succeed in fulfilling her intention. It might be tempting to assume that if the agent’s confidence about what she is doing is relevantly increased after some observation, then the acquired practical knowledge has to be observational. I argue that this is a wrong reaction. On the one hand, I defend that practical knowledge is non-perceptual even in those cases. On the other hand, I insist that the rejection of certain common assumptions about the difference between those cases and the more ideal ones gives us a better understanding of what is going on in the latter.
11. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 3
Jeffrey Goodman The Puzzle of Fictional Resemblance
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This article discusses a puzzle, the heart of which is this question: How is it that real individuals can resemble fictional individuals? It seems that any answer given by one who has taken a stand on the ontology of fictional individuals will come with significant drawbacks. An Anti-Realist will have to explain, or explain away, the apparent truth of our positive assertions of resemblance, while a Realist will have to explain how we are to understand resemblance in light of either the further claim that fictional characters are not associated with properties in the same way real individuals are, or that fictional characters are nonexistent or nonactual. I here survey the different Realist and Anti-Realist strategies in hopes that reflection on (mainly the drawbacks of) each will aid those who are curious about ontologies that may include fictionalia.
12. Res Philosophica: Volume > 99 > Issue: 2
Susan Brower-Toland Introduction
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2021 res philosophica essay prize
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.