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book symposium
101. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 3
Bongrae Seok Moral Psychology of Vulnerability and Ing's Interpretation of Confucian Moral Integrity
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102. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 3
Michael D. K. Ing Sages, Integrity, and the Paradox of Vulnerability: Reply to Chung, McLeod, and Seok
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103. 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.
104. 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.
105. 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.
106. 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.
107. 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.
108. 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?
109. 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.
110. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 1
Eleonore Stump Introduction
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111. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 1
Andrew Pinsent Spell-Breaking with Revitalizing Metaphors
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Growing public interest in the dark arts, and the fact that even some philosophers have been accused of casting spells with their own writings, suggest that philosophers should not wholly neglect the topics of spells and spell-breaking. In this paper, written in honor of an effective spell-breaker in social and leadership contexts, Fr Theodore Vitali, I set out a taxonomy of spells and ways in which some philosophers may be said to cast them in a naturalistic sense. I also examine ways of breaking a spell, with reference to the will and second-person relationship. I conclude with a brief observation about the desire for intellectual completeness, the root of a disordered appeal of at least some spells to their victims, suggesting an alternative scenario for a good satisfaction of this desire.
112. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 1
Kevin Timpe Moral Ecology, Disabilities, and Human Agency
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This paper argues that human agency is not simply a function of intrinsic properties about the agent, but that agency instead depends on the ecology that the agent is in. In particular, the paper examines ways that disabilities affect agency and shows how, by paying deliberate attention to structuring the social environment around people with disabilities, we can mitigate some of the agential impact of those disabilities. The paper then argues that the impact of one’s social environment on agency isn’t restricted only to those agents that have disabilities, but also characterizes all human agency. All of our agency is environmentally dependent.
113. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 1
Adam Green The Transmission of Understanding
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There is a substantial literature in epistemology concerning whether knowledge can be transmitted. So-called generative cases of testimony seem to show that testimony cannot transmit knowledge. This article defends the thesis that knowledge transmission by testimony is possible. Once one thinks more carefully about the model of transmission we are employing, however, the stage is set for two surprising results. Supposed counter-examples to knowledge transmission feature transmission in the relevant sense, and, more surprisingly, it is possible to transmit understanding, even when we are construing understanding as an internalist good.
114. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 1
Timothy Pawl In Defense of Divine Truthmaker Simplicity
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In his recent article “Against Divine Truthmaker Simplicity,” Noël Saenz has provided two careful arguments for the falsity of a theory of divine simplicity which he dubs “Divine Truthmaker Simplicity.” In this brief response, I criticize his two arguments, arguing that neither is sound.
115. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 1
Jennifer Hart Weed Thomas Aquinas and the Baptism of Desire
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Thomas Aquinas argues that baptism is necessary for salvation. However, he entertains a scenario described by Ambrose of Milan, such that Emperor Valentinian II converted to Christianity and was intending to be baptized but died before the sacrament could be performed. Aquinas argues that the Emperor could have achieved salvation without being baptized with water because he desired baptism and that desire was the result of his faith in God. In this paper, I offer a short treatment of Aquinas’s view of baptism, his handling of the Valentinian II case, and his arguments concerning the efficacy of the baptism of desire. I conclude with a brief discussion of Aquinas’s treatment of the case of Cornelius the centurion, which illustrates how Aquinas’s view of baptism of desire and implicit faith can apply to those individuals who have no access to or connection with the Church.
116. Res Philosophica: Volume > 96 > Issue: 1
Victor Salas Rodrigo de Arriaga, S.J. (1592-1667), on Analogy and the Concept of Being
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This paper considers Rodrigo de Arriaga’s account of the nature of the concept of being, which he construes in terms of univocity in opposition to analogy. I argue that the reason for his preference of univocity follows from his commitment to formal (as opposed to objective) precision. This commitment to formal precision comes at a price, however. Though Arriaga insists on restricting the concept of being to ‘real being’ only, it is not clear how he is able to maintain that restriction in a principled way. Like his contemporary and confrere, Richard Lynch, Arriaga seems to be on a trajectory that will lead to a supertranscendental conception of metaphysical science.
117. Res Philosophica: Volume > 95 > Issue: 4
Wayne J. Hankey Placing the Human: Establishing Reason by Its Participation in Divine Intellect for Boethius and Aquinas
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We begin with the kinds of knowing and ignorance in Plato’s allegory of the Line in the Republic, and go on to the problem of the relation of human reason and divine intellection in Aristotle’s Metaphysics, I and XII, De anima, II and III, and, especially, Nicomachean Ethics X, 7 and 8. Plato and Aristotle do not establish the human firmly vis-à-vis the divine and leave the Platonic tradition with a deep philosophical, theological, and religious ambiguity. Passing to Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy and Aquinas in his Summa theologiae and Aristotelian commentaries, we consider how they take up the Platonic-Aristotelian problematic and define the human in relation to the divine, partly by way of the notion of participation which Aristotle rejected. Aquinas is the most determined humanist among the thinkers considered. After outlining features of his position, we conclude with reflections on medieval humanism.
118. Res Philosophica: Volume > 95 > Issue: 4
Mark Boespflug Robert Holcot on Doxastic Voluntarism and the Ethics of Belief
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In the Middle Ages, the view that agents are able to exercise direct voluntary control over their beliefs—doxastic voluntarism—was pervasive. It was held by Augustine, Aquinas, Scotus, Ockham, and Buridan, among many others. Herein, I show that the somewhat neglected Oxford Dominican, Robert Holcot (†1349), rejected doxastic voluntarism with a coherence and plausibility that reflects and anticipates much contemporary thought on the issue. I, further, suggest that Holcot’s rejection of the idea that agents can voluntarily control their beliefs is intimately connected to his, likewise, aberrant views regarding the nature of belief, evidence, and faith. Finally, I examine Holcot’s attempt to show how involuntarism and doxastic responsibility are compatible. The issue of faith figures prominently throughout, given that an act of faith was conceived to be a voluntary operation whereby one believes religious propositions, and a paradigm case of belief for which we are responsible.
119. Res Philosophica: Volume > 95 > Issue: 4
Julie Walsh Locke’s Last Word on Freedom: Correspondence with Limborch
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John Locke’s 1700–1702 correspondence with Dutch Arminian Philippus van Limborch has been taken by commentators as the motivation for modifications to the fifth edition of “Of Power,” the chapter in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding that treats freedom. In this paper, I offer the first systematic and chronological study of their correspondence. I argue that the heart of their disagreement is over how they define “freedom of indifference.” Once the importance of the disagreement over indifference is established, it is clear that when Locke altered parts of “Of Power” as a reaction to Limborch’s questioning, he did so in the interest of further clarifying and solidifying his view, not changing it. Seeing how they disagree over indifference also allows us to see the correspondence as showcasing the conflict between intellectualism, the view that cognitive states determine the will, and voluntarism, the view that the will alone determines action.
120. Res Philosophica: Volume > 95 > Issue: 4
Ben Page Fine-Tuned of Necessity?
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This paper seeks to explicate and analyze an alternative response to fine-tuning arguments from those that are typically given—namely, design or brute contingency. The response I explore is based on necessity, the necessitarian response. After showing how necessity blocks the argument, I explicate the reply I claim necessitarians can give and suggest how its three requirements can be met: firstly, that laws are metaphysically necessary; secondly, that constants are metaphysically necessary; and thirdly, that the fundamental properties that determine the laws and constants are necessary. After discussing each in turn, I end the paper by assessing how the response fares when running the fine-tuning argument in two ways, as an inference to best explanation and as a Bayesian argument.