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presidential address
1. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ Reason in an Age of Anxiety: On the Vocation of Philosophy
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In response both to the current age of anxiety and the recent call of Caritas in Veritate, I argue for a re-framed understanding of rationality, based upon the insights of Franciscan John Duns Scotus. For Scotus, “rational” means capable of self-movement. Consequently, the will (not the intellect) is the rational potency. Re-casting the contemporary fundamentalist “suspicion of reason” as a “suspicion of the intellect,” my central argument advocates a return to a more complete understanding of the rational. In this effort, I draw upon spiritual insights to contextualize and explain the Franciscan attention to the will (as source of love). Scotus’s use of Anselm in his analysis of the will’s affections is an effort to expand the concept of rationality to include ordered loving and conversion, key Franciscan values. Two important implications of this shift in perspective are the recovery of beauty and harmony as significant moral categories, and the capacityof the rational will for restrained use (usus pauper). This latter point is able to ground an ethics of sustainability and justice, opening up space for interculturaland interfaith dialogue.
2. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
David Twetten Presentation of the Aquinas Medal
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aquinas medalist’s address
3. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Roland J. Teske, S.J. An Augustinian Enigma
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In book eight of De trinitate Augustine of Hippo proposes two ways of coming to a vision of God, which have baffled me all my years of teaching Augustine.In the second of these he tells us to take “this good” and “that good” and to set aside “this” and “that” and promises that in doing so one will see God. Scholarlyliterature proved quite unhelpful in understanding what Augustine had in mind, especially since this procedure seems to presuppose that God, the subsistent good, is present in particular good things and merely has to be unwrapped or unveiled in order for one to see the Good itself that is God. A clue to understanding what the bishop of Hippo had in mind can be found in his inversion of John’s claim in 1 John 4:8 to “Love is God.” Other Latin Fathers follow Augustine in this inversion, and Prosper of Aquitaine generalizes it for all the virtues or excellences. If one bears in mind the Plotinian doctrine of the integral omnipresence of suchvirtues or excellences, each of which is God, the sort of abstraction of the Good itself from individual good things, as Augustine proposed, becomes intelligible,and Henry of Ghent illustrates this sort of abstraction in his metaphysical argument for the existence of God.
plenary sessions
4. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Eric D. Perl The Good of the Intellect
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Recent continental philosophy often seeks to retrieve Neoplatonic transcendence, or the Good, while ignoring the place of intellect in classical and medieval Neoplatonism. Instead, it attempts to articulate an encounter with radical transcendence in the immediacy of temporality, individuality, and affectivity.On the assumption that there is no intellectual intuition (Kant), intellectual consciousness is reduced to ratiocination and is taken to be “poor in intuition” (Marion). In this context, the present paper expounds Plotinus’ phenomenology of intellectual experience to show how intellect, for Plotinus, is rather the richest mode of intuition, coinciding with the intelligible content of reality. This content, however, cannot be ultimate, but is the manifestation and apprehension of the transcendent Good as the condition of intelligibility. The Good, therefore, can be encountered only through the ascent to intellectual apprehension, and the visionof the Good is a transcendent moment within the intellectual apprehension of being, not a repudiation of or alternative to it.
5. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Deborah L. Black Reason Reflecting on Reason: Philosophy, Rationality, and the Intellect in the Medieval Islamic and Christian Traditions
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6. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
John Greco Religious Knowledge in the Context of Conflicting Testimony
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An adequate account of testimonial knowledge in general explains how religious knowledge can be grounded in testimony, and even in the context of conflicting testimonial traditions. Three emerging trends in epistemology help to make that case. The first is to make a distinction between two projects of epistemology: “the project of explanation” and “the project of vindication.” The second is to emphasize a distinction between knowledge and understanding. The third is to ask what role the concept of knowledge plays in our conceptual-linguistic economy. Each of these trends, it is argued, helps us to make progress in the epistemology of testimony, and by application in the epistemology of religious belief.
session 1: ethics applied
7. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
David B. Hershenov, Rose Hershenov The ‘I’m Personally Opposed to Abortion But . . .’ Argument
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One often hears Catholic and non-Catholic politicians and private citizens claim “I am personally opposed to abortion . . . ” but add that it is morally permissible for others to accept abortion. We consider a Rawlsian defense of this position based on the recognition that one’s opposition to abortion stems from acomprehensive doctrine which is incompatible with Public Reason. We examine a second defense of this position based upon respecting the autonomy of others and a third grounded in the harm to the unwilling mother overriding that to the aborted fetus. We look at a fourth and fifth defense based upon our epistemic ignorance regarding the burdens on others of unwanted pregnancies and the ontological and moral status of embryo. We find most versions of these defenses to be wanting and conclude that only if the proponents of the position are subjectivist about morals, which few are, can they offer a coherent defense.
8. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Peter Koch An Alternative to an Alternative to Brain Death
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In this paper I will provide a hylomorphic critique of Jeff McMahan’s “An Alternative to Brain Death.” I will evaluate three puzzles—the dicephalus, the braintransplant, and the split-brain phenomenon—proposed by McMahan which allow him to deny that a human being is identical to an organism. I will contend thatMcMahan’s solution entails counterintuitive consequences that pose problems to organ transplant cases. A Thomistic hylomorphic metaphysics not only avoids these unwelcome consequences and provides solutions to the three puzzles but in doing so allows for an alternative definition of death. Since McMahan has constructed his definition of death around his own metaphysics, alternative metaphysics, in this case a hylomorphic metaphysics, allow for an alternative definition of death.
session 2: moderns
9. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Mark J. Thomas In Search of Ground: Schelling on God, Freedom, and the Existence of Evil
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This paper is a reading of Schelling’s 1809 treatise Of Human Freedom in light of its relationship to the question why? and the principle of sufficient reason.This “principle of ground” defines the limits of rational inquiry and poses substantial difficulties for the three central themes of Schelling’s text: God, freedom,and the reality of evil. God and freedom go beyond the principle by requiring an absolute beginning—a ground that is not itself grounded. Evil defies rationalexplanation, deriving its existence from a specifically human freedom to do evil. Schelling’s text traces God, freedom, and evil back to their origin at the momentwhen God’s existence and its ground “sprung forth” from the non-ground. Here at the origins of ground the principle of reason no longer applies.
10. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Bernard G. Prusak Whither the “Offices of Nature”?: Kant and the Obligation to Love
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Since Kant, the standard response to the commandment to love has been that our affections are not ours to command, and so an obligation to feel lovefor another cannot reasonably be demanded. On this account, we must say that a parent who fails to love his or her child, in the sense of feeling affection for himor her, has not violated any obligation toward that child. Maybe we could say still that the parent is deficient somehow, but we could not characterize this deficiency as a moral failing. Here, then, is the subject of this paper: In the specific context of the parent-child relationship, is the commandment to love reasonable? Are we warranted in saying that the “offices of nature” include an officium caritatis, in a sense exceeding benevolence? My answer is yes, but it is necessary then to come to terms with Kant’s reasons for answering no.