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1. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Julien Murzi, Leonie Eichhorn, Philipp Mayr Surprise, surprise: KK is innocent
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The Surprise Exam Paradox is well-known: a teacher announces that there will be a surprise exam the following week; the students argue by an intuitively sound reasoning that this is impossible; and yet they can be surprised by the teacher. We suggest that a solution can be found scattered in the literature, in part anticipated by Wright and Sudbury, informally developed by Sorensen, and more recently discussed, and dismissed, by Williamson. In a nutshell, the solution consists in realising that the teacher's announcement is a blindspot that can only be known if the week is at least 2 days long. Along the way, we criticise Williamson's own treatment of the paradox. In Williamson's view, the Surprise is similar to the Paradox of the Glimpse and, because of their similarities, both these paradoxes ought to receive a uniform treatment—one that involves locating an illicit application of the KK Principle. We argue that there's no deep analogy between the Surprise and the Glimpse and that, even if there were, the Surprise reasoning reaches a paradoxical conclusion before the KK Principle is used. Rather, in both the Surprise and the Glimpse, the blame should be put on other epistemic principles—respectively, a knowledge retention and a margin for error principle.
2. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Casey S. Elliott Comparing apples to oranges: Is it better to be human than otherwise?
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Two popular views are prima facie incompatible. First is Attributivism, whereby there is nothing better than being a good member of one's kind; second is Hierarchy, whereby being one kind of thing can be, ceteris paribus, worse than being another. The unchallenged assumption is that those two views are at odds. As both are plausible and influential, that they conflict is a problem. In this paper, I argue that they are not incompatible, and that appearances to the contrary owe to a naïve view of kinds and kindhood, held by participants on both sides of the debate. Once we adopt a more sophisticated view of kindhood, the apparent incompatibility dissolves. Here I present such a view, and argue that Hierarchy can be captured within Attributivism, when candidate kinds share characteristic features which produce overlapping requirements of self-maintenance.
3. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Shimon Garti Yablo's paradox and forcing
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We discuss the problem of self-reference in Yablo's paradox from the point of view of the relationship between names and objects. For this end, we introduce a forcing version of the paradox and try to understand its implication on the self-referential component of the paradox.
4. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Lucas Rosenblatt Expressing consistency consistently
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In the paraconsistent tradition, it is fairly well-known how difficult it is to advance a theory containing a naive truth predicate together with a (classical, consistent) consistency operator. Recently, a number of theorists have risen up to the challenge by attempting to articulate such a theory. These theorists either tinker with the idea of semantic naivety, thereby imposing restrictions on the principles governing the truth predicate, or they substantially weaken the underlying syntax theory. My aim in this paper is to offer arguments against these two proposals.
5. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Daniel Lassiter, Jean Baratgin Nested conditionals and genericity in the de Finetti semantics
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The trivalent, truth-functional theory of conditionals proposed by de Finetti in 1936 and developed in a scattered literature since has enjoyed a recent revival in philosophy, psychology, and linguistics. However, several theorists have argued that this approach is fatally flawed in that it cannot correctly account for nested conditionals and compounds of conditionals. Focusing on nested conditionals, we observe that the problem cases uniformly involve generic predicates, and that the inference patterns claimed to be problematic are very plausible when we ensure that only non-generic (episodic and stative) predicates are used. In addition, the trivalent theory makes correct predictions about the original, generic counter-examples when combined with an off-the-shelf theory of genericity. The ability of the trivalent semantics to account for this complex interaction with genericity thus appears as a strong argument in its favor.
6. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Matt Leonard Supersubstantivalism and the argument from harmony
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The core doctrine of supersubstantivalism is that material objects are identical to their spacetime locations. One powerful consideration for the view is the argument from harmony—supersubstantivalism, it is claimed, is in a position to offer an elegant explanation of a number of platitudes concerning objects and their locations. However, I will argue that identifying material objects with their locations does not provide a satisfying explanation of harmony. What the supersubstantivalist needs is not a theory about the identity of objects, but another theory about the identity of some relations. This paper proposes such a theory and shows that with it in place, the argument from harmony can be repaired.
7. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Robert J. Hartman Concomitant ignorance excuses from moral responsibility
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Some philosophers contend that concomitant ignorance preserves moral responsibility for wrongdoing. An agent is concomitantly ignorant with respect to wrongdoing if and only if her ignorance is non-culpable, but she would freely have performed the same action if she were not ignorant. I, however, argue that concomitant ignorance excuses. I show that leading accounts of moral responsibility imply that concomitant ignorance excuses, and I debunk the view that concomitant ignorance preserves moral responsibility.
8. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Eric Snyder, Stewart Shapiro Group nouns and pseudo-singularity
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Definite group nouns, such as “the deck of cards,” raise two important kinds of problems. Philosophically, they raise the ancient Problem of the Many: How can one deck be many cards? Linguistically, they threaten paradox: If such expressions singularly refer to groups as set-like entities, then analyses employing such entities threaten to be incoherent, due to Russell's paradox. On the other hand, no paradox is threatened if, per the suggestion of Alex Oliver and Timothy Smiley, “the deck of cards” is a pseudo-singular term, that is, a term which is syntactically singular but semantically plural, exploiting the primitive relation of plural reference. Against this, we argue that pseudo-singularity is linguistically and logically untenable. As such, it will not plausibly solve either kind of problem raised by definite group nouns.
9. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Christopher Gauker A strictly stronger relative must
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It is widely accepted that when “might” expresses certain kinds of relative modality, the sentence “p and it might not be the case that p” is in some sense inconsistent. It has proven difficult to define a formal semantics that explicates this inconsistency while meeting certain other desiderata, in particular, that p does not imply “Must p.” This paper presents such a semantics. The key idea is that background contexts have to have multiple levels, including an inner set consisting of worlds that represent what might be true and an outer set of worlds such that a sentence must be true only if it is true in all of them.
10. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Alex Grzankowski A puzzle for evaluation theories of desire
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How we evaluate things and what we desire are closely connected. In typical cases, the things we desire are things that we evaluate as good or desirable. According to evaluation theories of desire, this connection is a very tight one: desires are evaluations of their objects as good or as desirable. There are two main varieties of this view. According to Doxastic Evaluativism, to desire that p is to believe or judge that p is good. According to Perceptual Evaluativism, to desire that p is to perceive p as being good (or for p to seem good). The present paper poses a puzzle for such views. The puzzle should be familiar to theorists interested in the normativity and metaphysics of the emotions, but I am unaware of its application to desire. The aim of the present paper is to present the puzzle as it applies to desire, which should be of independent interest, but I also hope that by shining a light on the puzzle in this domain, we might put ourselves in a better position to offer a solution in all cases. At the end of the paper, I gesture towards a promising way ahead that departs from relying on contradictory contents.
11. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Niels de Haan Collective culpable ignorance
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I argue that culpable ignorance can be irreducibly collective. In some cases, it is not fair to expect any individual to have avoided her ignorance of some fact, but it is fair to expect the agents together to have avoided their ignorance of that fact. Hence, no agent is individually culpable for her ignorance, but they are culpable for their ignorance together. This provides us with good reason to think that any group that is culpably ignorant in this irreducibly collective sense is non-distributively collectively responsible for subsequent unwitting acts and consequences.
12. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Nick Young Sounds as properties
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Leddington has recently put forward a new version of the idea that sounds are properties. Whereas other ‘property views’ take material objects to be the bearers of sounds (the sound of a bell being struck is a property instantiated by the bell itself), on Leddington's view sounds are borne by the source events in which these objects are participating (the sound of a bell being struck is a property instantiated by the striking event). In this paper, I argue that the case for events as the bearers of sound properties rather than objects is, at best, ambiguous, and that there are good reasons for wanting to include objects amongst the things we hear. I put forward a new account on which sounds are temporally extended properties of objects. This approach, I argue, not only retains the advantages of Leddington's view, but also allows for the audibility of both objects and events.
13. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Drew Johnson Disjunctive luminosity
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Williamson's influential anti-luminosity argument aims to show that our own mental states are not “luminous,” and that we are thus “cognitively homeless.” Among other things, this argument represents a significant challenge to the idea that we enjoy basic self-knowledge of our own occurrent mental states. In this paper, I summarize Williamson's anti-luminosity argument, and discuss the role that the notion of “epistemic basis” plays in it. I argue that the anti-luminosity argument relies upon a particular version of the basis-relative safety condition on knowledge. This commitment is significant because basic self-knowledge seemingly lacks any kind of distinct epistemic basis, such as inference, observation, testimony, etc., despite representing a genuine kind of knowledge of contingent matters of fact. I consider a disjunctivist account (due to Bar-On and Johnson), according to which true basic self-beliefs indeed lack an epistemic basis in any kind of epistemic method (such as inference), yet are still epistemically grounded in the mental states they concern. I argue that this account of self-knowledge is compatible with standard understandings of the basis relative safety condition on knowledge, but rejects the particular version required by the anti-luminosity argument.
14. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Jaakko Hirvelä, Niall Paterson Need knowing and acting be SSS-Safe?
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Throughout the years, Sosa has taken different views on the safety condition on knowledge. In his early work, he endorsed the safety condition, but later retracted this view when first developing his much discussed virtue epistemology. Recently, Sosa has further developed his virtue theory with the notion of competence and has developed an accompanying, modified safety condition that he maintains is entailed by that theory: the SSS-safety condition. Sosa's view is that this condition holds on both knowledge and action, because both knowledge and action are the manifestations of competence. The SSS-safety condition, roughly, says that if S were to make an attempt at φ-ing under certain specified shape-situation pairs, holding fixed their seat, then S would φ. The argument of this paper is that this new SSS-safety condition does not hold on either knowledge or action. We argue for this conclusion by providing a principled way to generate counter-examples to the condition for both knowledge and action. The reasoning is that there can exist a non-empty symmetric difference between the sets of shape-situation pairs under which distinct agents can manifest their epistemic and pragmatic competences, and if there can exist such a symmetric difference then the SSS-safety condition fails to hold.
15. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Pascale Willemsen, Kevin Reuter Separating the evaluative from the descriptive: An empirical study of thick concepts
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Thick terms and concepts, such as honesty and cruelty, are at the heart of a variety of debates in philosophy of language and metaethics. Central to these debates is the question of how the descriptive and evaluative components of thick concepts are related and whether they can be separated from each other. So far, no empirical data on how thick terms are used in ordinary language has been collected to inform these debates. In this paper, we present the first empirical study, designed to investigate whether the evaluative component of thick concepts is communicated as part of the semantic meaning or by means of conversational implicatures. While neither the semantic nor the pragmatic view can fully account for the use of thick terms in ordinary language, our results do favour the semanticist interpretation: the evaluation of a thick concept is only slightly easier to cancel than semantically entailed content. We further discovered a polarity effect, demonstrating that how easily an evaluation can be cancelled depends on whether the thick term is of positive or negative polarity.
16. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Graham Priest Myers' paradox
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This note is an analysis of the paradox given by Myers (2019). It is shown, assuming that the resources available in paraconsistent logic may be applied, how the conclusion of the paradox may be perfectly acceptable, but that the argument is, nonetheless, invalid. This provides a dialethic solution to the paradox.
17. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Joe Dewhurst Causal emergence from effective information: Neither causal nor emergent?
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The past few years have seen several novel information-theoretic measures of causal emergence developed within the scientific community. In this paper I will introduce one such measure, called ‘effective information’, and describe how it is used to argue for causal emergence. In brief, the idea is that certain kinds of complex system are structured such that an intervention characterised at the macro-level will be more informative than one characterised at the micro-level, and that this constitutes a form of causal emergence. Having introduced this proposal, I will then assess the extent to which it is genuinely ‘causal’ and/or ‘emergent’, and argue that it supports only an epistemic form of causal emergence that is not as exciting as it first seems.
18. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Jonas Werner Plenitude and necessarily unmanifested dispositions
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The principle of plenitude says that every material object coincides with abundantly many further objects that differ in their modal profiles. A necessarily unmanifested disposition is a disposition that necessarily does not manifest. This paper argues that if the principle of plenitude holds, then there are some necessarily unmanifested dispositions. These necessarily unmanifested dispositions will be argued to evade some objections against the cases of necessarily unmanifested dispositions put forward by Carrie Jenkins and Daniel Nolan.
19. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Benoit Gaultier When is epistemic dependence disvaluable?
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There clearly seems to be something problematic with certain forms of epistemic dependence. However, it has proved surprisingly difficult to articulate what this problem is exactly. My aim in this paper is to make clear when it is problematic to rely on others or on artefacts and technologies that are external to us for the acquisition and maintenance of our beliefs, and why. In order to do so, I focus on the neuromedia thought experiment. After having rejected different ways in which one might want to capture the intuition in question, I argue that this device deprives us of understanding and therefore of the most valuable epistemic good. I then address the question of whether the moral of the story is that we should not develop, be equipped with, or use devices such as the neuromedia.
20. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
A.C. Paseau, Owen Griffiths Is English consequence compact?
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By mimicking the standard definition for a formal language, we define what it is for a natural language to be compact. We set out a valid English argument none of whose finite subarguments is valid. We consider one by one objections to the argument's logical validity and then dismiss them. The conclusion is that English—and any other language with the capacity to express the argument—is not compact. This rules out a large class of logics as the correct foundational one, for example any sound and complete logic, and in particular first-order logic. The correct foundational logic is not compact.