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21. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 120 > Issue: 3
Finnur Dellsén, Insa Lawler, James Norton Would Disagreement Undermine Progress?
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In recent years, several philosophers have argued that their discipline makes no progress (or not enough in comparison to the “hard sciences”). A key argument for this pessimistic position appeals to the purported fact that philosophers widely and systematically disagree on most major philosophical issues. In this paper, we take a step back from the debate about progress in philosophy specifically and consider the general question: How (if at all) would disagreement within a discipline undermine that discipline’s progress? We reject two arguments from disagreement to a lack of progress, and spell out two accounts of progress on which progress is compatible with disagreements that persist or increase over time. However, we also argue that disagreement can undermine our ability to tell which developments are progressive (and to what degree). So, while disagreement can indeed be a threat to progress, the precise nature of the threat has not been appreciated.
22. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 120 > Issue: 2
Kyle Blumberg Wishing, Decision Theory, and Two-Dimensional Content
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This paper is about two requirements on wish reports whose interaction motivates a novel semantics for these ascriptions. The first requirement concerns the ambiguities that arise when determiner phrases, such as definite descriptions, interact with ‘wish’. More specifically, several theorists have recently argued that attitude ascriptions featuring counterfactual attitude verbs license interpretations on which the determiner phrase is interpreted relative to the subject’s beliefs. The second requirement involves the fact that desire reports in general require decision-theoretic notions for their analysis. The current study is motivated by the fact that no existing account captures both of these aspects of wishing. I develop a semantics for wish reports that makes available belief-relative readings but also allows decision-theoretic notions to play a role in shaping the truth conditions of these ascriptions. The general idea is that we can analyze wishing in terms of a two-dimensional notion of expected utility.
23. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 120 > Issue: 2
Owen Griffiths, A. C. Paseau Ways of Being and Logicality
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Ontological monists hold that there is only one way of being, while ontological pluralists hold that there are many; for example, concrete objects like tables and chairs exist in a different way from abstract objects like numbers and sets. Correspondingly, the monist will want the familiar existential quantifier as a primitive logical constant, whereas the pluralist will want distinct ones, such as for abstract and concrete existence. In this paper, we consider how the debate between the monist and pluralist relates to the standard test for logicality. We deploy this test and show that it favors the monist.
24. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 120 > Issue: 1
Jean Baccelli Interpersonal Comparisons of What?
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I examine the once popular claim according to which interpersonal comparisons of welfare are necessary for social choice. I side with current social choice theorists in emphasizing that, on a narrow construal, this necessity claim is refuted beyond appeal. However, I depart from the opinion presently prevailing in social choice theory in highlighting that on a broader construal, this claim proves not only compatible with, but even comforted by, the current state of the field. I submit that all in all, the most accurate philosophical assessment consists not in flatly rejecting this necessity claim, but in accepting it in a suitably revised form.
25. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 120 > Issue: 1
Mark McCullagh Interpretative Modesty
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Philosophers have wanted to work with conceptions of word-competence, or concept-possession, on which being a competent practitioner with a word amounts to being a competent judge of its uses by others. I argue that our implicit conception of competence with a word does not have this presupposition built into it. One implication of this is what I call "modesty" in interpretation: we allow for others, uses of words that we would not allow for ourselves. I develop this point by looking at Saul Kripke's discussion of some famous examples given by Benson Mates, concerning beliefs about beliefs. I defend Mates's point against Kripke's claim that an interpreter who is modest in my sense must be "conceptually confused."
26. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 120 > Issue: 1
Call for Submissions: The Isaac Levi Prize
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27. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 12
Thomas Grano, Milo Phillips-Brown (Counter)factual Want Ascriptions and Conditional Belief
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What are the truth conditions of want ascriptions? According to an influential approach, they are intimately connected to the agent’s beliefs: ⌜S wants p⌝ is true iff, within S’s belief set, S prefers the p worlds to the not-p worlds. This approach faces a well-known problem, however: it makes the wrong predictions for what we call (counter)factual want ascriptions, wherein the agent either believes p or believes not-p—for example, ‘I want it to rain tomorrow and that is exactly what is going to happen’ or ‘I want this weekend to last forever, but of course it will end in a few hours’. We solve this problem. The truth conditions for want ascriptions are, we propose, connected to the agent’s conditional beliefs. We substantiate this connection by pursuing a striking parallel between (counter)factual and non-(counter)factual want ascriptions on the one hand and counterfactual and indicative conditionals on the other.
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28. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 12
Jessica Pepp What Is the Commitment in Lying
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Emanuel Viebahn accounts for the distinction between lying and misleading in terms of what the speaker commits to, rather than in terms of what the speaker says, as on traditional accounts. Although this alternative type of account is well motivated, I argue that Viebahn does not adequately explain the commitment involved in lying. He explains the commitment in lying in terms of a responsibility to justify one's knowledge of a proposition one has communicated, which is in turn elaborated in terms of being able to consistently dismiss a challenge to justify that knowledge. But whether one can consistently dismiss such a challenge, as Viebahn defines this, depends on whether one is responsible for justifying one's knowledge. Without further specification of the nature of this justificatory responsibility, it is difficult to assess whether it is one that liars have but misleaders lack.
29. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 12
Neri Marsili, Guido Löhr Saying, Commitment, and the Lying-Misleading Distinction
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How can we capture the intuitive distinction between lying and misleading? According to a traditional view, the difference boils down to whether the speaker is saying (as opposed to implying) something that they believe to be false. This view is subject to known objections; to overcome them, an alternative view has emerged. For the alternative view, what matters is whether the speaker can consistently deny that they are committed to knowing the relevant proposition. We point out serious flaws for this alternative view, and sketch a simpler alternative that incorporates key insights of the traditional view.
30. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 12
Index to Volume CXIX
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31. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 11
Luis Rosa Ambiguous Statements about Akrasia
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Epistemologists take themselves to disagree about whether there are situations where it is rational for one to believe that p and rational for one to believe that one’s evidence does not support p (rational akrasia). The embedded sentence ‘one’s evidence does not support p’ can be interpreted in two ways, however, depending on what the semantic contribution of ‘one’s evidence’ is taken to be. ‘One’s evidence’ might be seen as a sheer indexical or as a descriptive singular term. The first interpretation makes the relevant kind of rational akrasia impossible, whereas the second one makes it possible. But the proposition that is taken to be expressed by ‘one’s evidence does not support p’ by each of these interpretations is not the same. We thus have a rational reconstruction of views that are labeled as being for and against the possibility of rational akrasia according to which they do not really contradict each other.
32. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 11
Thomas Raleigh Perceptual Content, Phenomenal Contrasts, and Externalism
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According to Sparse views of perceptual content, the phenomenal character of perceptual experience is exhausted by the experiential presentation of ‘low-level’ properties such as (in the case of vision) shapes, colors, and textures Whereas, according to Rich views of perceptual content, the phenomenal character of perceptual experience can also sometimes involve experiencing ‘high-level’ properties such as natural kinds, artefactual kinds, causal relations, linguistic meanings, and moral properties. An important dialectical tool in the debate between Rich and Sparse theorists is the so-called ‘method of phenomenal contrast’. I explore how this method of phenomenal contrast interacts with the sort of content-externalism made familiar by Putnam. I show that the possibility of Twin Earth style cases places important restrictions on the range of properties that the method of phenomenal contrast could plausibly apply to. Moreover, these restrictions would apply to some paradigmatically low-level properties as well as to some of the frequently advanced high-level properties. I also draw some general lessons about the different ways one might conceive of the relation between phenomenal character and representational content.
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33. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 11
Michele Palmira Questions of Reference and the Reflexivity of First-Person Thought
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Tradition has it that first-person thought is somehow special. It is also commonplace to maintain that the first-person concept obeys a rule of reference to the effect that any token first-person thought is about the thinker of that thought. Following Annalisa Coliva and, more recently, Santiago Echeverri, I take the specialness claim to be the claim that thinking a first-person thought comes with a certain guarantee of its pattern of reference. Echeverri maintains that such a guarantee is explained by a fairly flatfooted interpretation of the thinker-reflexive rule. I argue, however, that the explanatory aspirations of the thinker-reflexive rule are fulfilled only if we accept an epistemically loaded gloss on the notion of a thinker of a thought featuring the rule. That gloss is unpacked in terms of the subject’s ability to be acquainted with the phenomenal character of their thoughts.
34. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 10
Jared Warren Inferentialism, Conventionalism, and A Posteriori Necessity
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In the mid twentieth century, logical positivists and many other philosophers endorsed a simple equation: something was necessary just in case it was analytic just in case it was a priori. Kripke’s examples of a posteriori necessary truths showed that the simple equation is false. But while positivist-style inferentialist approaches to logic and mathematics remain popular, there is no inferentialist account of necessity a posteriori. I give such an account. This sounds like an anti-Kripkean project, but it is not. Some of Kripke’s remarks even suggest this kind of approach. This inferentialist approach reinstates neither the simple equation nor pure conventionalism about necessity a posteriori. But it does lead to something near enough, a type of impure conventionalism. In recent years, metaphysically heavyweight approaches to modality have been popular, while other approaches have lagged behind. The inferentialist, impure conventionalist theory of necessity I describe aims to provide a metaphysically lightweight option in modal metaphysics.
35. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 10
Michael Townsen Hicks Counterparts and Counterpossibles: Impossibility without Impossible Worlds
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Standard accounts of counterfactuals with metaphysically impossible antecedents take them to by trivially true. But recent work shows that nontrivial countermetaphysicals are frequently appealed to in scientific modeling and are indispensable for a number of metaphysical projects. I focus on three recent discussions of counterpossible counterfactuals, which apply counterpossibles in both scientific and metaphysical modeling. I show that a sufficiently developed modal counterpart theory can provide a semantics for a wide range of counterpossibles without any inconsistent possibilities or other forms of impossible worlds. But such a view faces problems: in order for the metaphysical views I discuss to bear weight, there must be a significant difference between the metaphysical possibilities and impossibilities. I will show how the counterpart-theoretic view delineates the possible from impossible, while still making room for the impossible.
36. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 10
New Books: Anthologies
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37. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 10
Call for Submissions: The Isaac Levi Prize
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38. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 9
David Mark Kovacs Self-Making and Subpeople
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On many currently popular ontologies of material objects, we share our place with numerous shorter-lived things ("subpeople," to borrow a term from Eric Olson) that came into existence after we did or will go out of existence before we will. Subpeople are intrinsically indistinguishable from possible people, and as several authors (Eric Olson, Mark Johnston, A. P. Taylor) pointed out, this raises grave ethical concerns: it threatens to make any sacrifice for long-term goals impermissible, as well as to undermine our standard practices of punishment, reward, grief, and utility calculation. The aim in this paper is to offer a unified set of solutions to these problems. The paper’s starting point is the "self-making view," according to which our de se beliefs help determine our own spatiotemporal boundaries. This paper argues that the self-making view also plays a key role in the best treatment of the moral problems of subpeople.
39. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 9
Justin Sytsma Crossed Wires: Blaming Artifacts for Bad Outcomes
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Philosophers and psychologists often assume that responsibility and blame only apply to certain agents. But do our ordinary concepts of responsibility and blame reflect these assumptions? I investigate one recent debate where these assumptions have been applied—the back-and-forth over how to explain the impact of norms on ordinary causal attributions. I investigate one prominent case where it has been found that norms matter for causal attributions, but where it is claimed that responsibility and blame do not apply because the case involves artifacts. Across six studies (total N=1,492) more carefully investigating Hitchcock and Knobe’s (2009) Machine Case, I find that the same norm effect found for causal attributions is found for responsibility and blame attributions, with participants tending to ascribe both to a norm-violating artifact. Further, the evidence suggests that participants do so because they are using these terms in a broadly normative, but not distinctively moral, way.
40. The Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 119 > Issue: 8
Sam Roberts Pluralities as Nothing Over and Above
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This paper develops an account of pluralities based on the following simple claim: some things are nothing over and above the individual things they comprise. For some, this may seem like a mysterious statement, perhaps even meaningless; for others, like a truism, trivial and inferentially inert. I show that neither reaction is correct: the claim is both tractable and has important consequences for a number of debates in philosophy.