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Res Philosophica

Volume 96, Issue 2, April 2019
Reasons and Rationality

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Displaying: 1-7 of 7 documents

1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 2
Jack Woods The Self-Effacement Gambit
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Philosophical arguments usually are and nearly always should be abductive. Across many areas, philosophers are starting to recognize that often the best we can do in theorizing some phenomena is put forward our best overall account of it, warts and all. This is especially true in areas like logic, aesthetics, mathematics, and morality where the data to be explained are often based in our stubborn intuitions. While this methodological shift is welcome, it’s not without problems. Abductive arguments involve significant theoretical resources which themselves can be part of what’s being disputed. This means that we will sometimes find otherwise good arguments suggesting their own grounds are problematic. In particular, sometimes revising our beliefs on the basis of an argument can undermine the very justification we used in that argument. This feature, which I’ll call self-effacingness, occurs most dramatically in arguments against our standing views on the subject matters mentioned above: logic, mathematics, aesthetics, and morality. This is because these subject matters all play a role in how we reason abductively. This isn’t an idle fact; we can resist some challenges to our standing beliefs about these subject matters exactly because the challenges are self-effacing. The self-effacing character of certain arguments is thus both a benefit and a limitation of the abductive turn and deserves serious attention. I aim to give it the attention it deserves.
2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 2
Ryan Doody If There Are No Diachronic Norms of Rationality, Why Does It Seem Like There Are?
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I offer an explanation for why certain sequences of decisions strike us as irrational while others do not. I argue that we have a standing desire to tell flattering yet plausible narratives about ourselves, and that cases of diachronic behavior that strike us as irrational are those in which you had the opportunity to hide something unflattering and failed to do so.
3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 2
Wade Munroe Rationality, Reasoning Well, and Extramental Props
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Recently, a cottage industry has formed with the expressed intent of analyzing the nature of personal-level reasoning and inference. The dominant position in the extant philosophical literature is that reasoning consists in rule-governed operations over propositional attitudes. In addition, it is widely assumed that our attitude updating procedures are purely cognitive. Any non-cognitive activity performed in service of updating our attitudes is external to the updating process—at least in terms of rational evaluation. In this paper, I argue that whether one has rationally updated one’s attitudes and whether the resultant attitudes are rational can (at least partially) depend on one’s interactions with one’s environment and body to scaffold one’s ability to arrive at attitudes that are rationally appropriate given one’s evidence.
4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 2
Julia Jael Smith, Benjamin Wald Collectivized Intellectualism
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We argue that the evolutionary function of reasoning is to allow us to secure more accurate beliefs and more effective intentions through collective deliberation. This sets our view apart both from traditional intellectualist accounts, which take the evolutionary function to be individual deliberation, and from interactionist accounts such as the one proposed by Mercier and Sperber, which agrees that the function of reasoning is collective but holds that it aims to disseminate, rather than come up with, accurate beliefs. We argue that our collectivized intellectualism offers the best explanation of the range of biases that human reasoning is prone to, and that it does better than interactionism at offering a function of reasoning that would have been adaptive for our distant ancestors who first evolved this capacity.
5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 2
Daniel Wodak An Objectivist's Guide to Subjective Reasons
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The distinction between objective and subjective reasons plays an important role in both folk normative thought and many research programs in metaethics. But the relation between objective and subjective reasons (or, more aptly, objective and subjective favoring) is unclear. This paper explores problems related to the unity of objective and subjective reasons for actions and attitudes and then offers a novel objectivist account of subjective reasons.
6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 2
Alex Worsnip Disagreement as Interpersonal Incoherence
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In a narrow sense of ‘disagreement,’ you and I disagree iff we believe inconsistent propositions. But there are numerous cases not covered by this definition that seem to constitute disagreements in a wider sense: disagreements about what to do, disagreements in attitude, disagreements in credence, etc. This wider sense of disagreement plays an important role in metaethics and epistemology. But what is it to disagree in the wider sense? On the view I’ll defend, roughly, you and I disagree in the wide sense iff we hold attitudes that it would be incoherent for a single individual to hold. I’ll argue that this captures the relevant cases, and explore the consequences for metaethical debates between expressivists and contextualists. My view has two broader upshots: that coherence is a theoretically important property, and that an apparently descriptive question—are two subjects disagreeing?—turns on a normative one—are their attitudes jointly incoherent?
7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 2
Mark van Roojen Second Thoughts about "Wishful Thinking" (and Non-Cognitivism)
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Cian Dorr has argued that non-cognitivists must think of reasoning from moral premises to empirical conclusions as akin to wishful thinking. Defenders of non-cognitivism have responded that an adequate solution to the Frege-Geach problem would explain relations of entailment and implication between moral and nonmoral claims and thereby also handle Dorr’s objection. This paper offers a new, more specific, interpretation of Dorr’s objection and one that makes it distinct from worries about Frege-Geach. The paper also explains why non-cognitivists might still reasonably be optimistic that they can allay this version of the worry. Still, successfully undercutting the worry also undercuts one of the prime reasons offered on behalf of non-cognitivism—arguments based on the Humean Theory of Motivation purporting to show that moral judgments cannot be beliefs.