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81. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Frances Howard-Snyder, Alastair Norcross A Consequentialist Case for Rejecting the Right
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Satisficing and maximizing versions of consequentialism have both assumed that rightness is an alI-or-nothing property. We argue thal this is inimical to the spirit of consequentialism, and that, from the point of view of the consequentialist, actions should be evaluated purely in terms that admit of degree. We first consider the suggestion that rightness and wrongness are a matter of degree. If so, this raises the question of whether the claim that something is wrong says any more than that it is bad. We consider the possibility that a consequenlialist should simply equate wrongness with badness. We reject this on the grounds that there is not a satsifactory way for a consequentialist to account for the badness of actions, as opposed to states of affairs. We explore two concepts of wrongness: to do something wrong is to be blameworthy; and the fact that something is wrong creates a reason not to do it. We argue that the first of these is not available to the consequentialist because of her views on blame, and that the second is just as much a feature of badness as of wrongness. We conclude that the consequentialist can make no sense of the concept of wrongness.
82. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
D. L. C. MacLachlan Strawson and the Argument for Other Minds
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The classical argument for the existence of other minds begins by ascribing states of consciousness to oneself, and argues to the existence of other conscious beings on the basis of an analogy in bodily constitution and behavior. P. F. Strawson attacks the foundation of this argument. “One can ascribe states of consciousness to oneself only if one can ascribe them to others. One can ascribe them to others only if one can identify other subjects of experience.” My thesis is that this objection depends on running together the two distinct necessary conditions for ascribing states of consciousness. There is the conceptual condition (a general concept of consciousness); and there is the referential condition (the capacity to identify suitable subjects).A version of the argument from analogy is also developed which does not presuppose an original consciousness that my experiences are mine. The general concept of experience is by itself enough for the original specification of all experiences associated with body M, because other experiences which also conform to the concept are not introduced until the argument from analogy is complete.
83. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Phillip H. Wiebe Authenticating Biblical Reports of Miracles
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This paper critically examines the claim advanced by a number of important apologists for Christian theism that the biblical reports of miracles obtain confirmation from the accuracy of the reports of ordinary events in the biblical writings.An informal argument from analogy is first presented to show the implausibility of this claim, and then formal arguments using the theory of confirmation are considered. Several possible formal interpretations of the apologists’ position are considered and rejected.The paper concludes with several comments about the problem which miracle reports encounter with respect to challenging scientific worldviews, and makes suggestions about the kinds of strategies which would need to be employed to render such reports credible.
84. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Robert Titiev Diagnosis of Ailing Belief Systems
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Beliefs about fair prices for betting arrangements can obviously vary depending upon how the contingencies are described, even though each of the different descriptions is correct. This sort of variation in beliefs on the part of an agent has been Iinked by Ramsey and Skyrms with the agent’s susceptibility to a dutch book situation involving some combination of bets on which there is a mathematically-guaranteed net loss as the overall outcome. Clarifying the nature of that Iinkage is the purpose of this paper. After a framework for analysis has been developed, it is shown precisely how several important conditions for having correct beliefs are interrelated.
85. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Kevin Gibson Transitivity, Torts, and Kingdom Loss
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Here I look at the views of Mackie about the transitivity of causal statements. Mackie suggests that we replace total transitivity with a calculation which assigns a proportional value to partial causes; this allows us to work out an overall proportion of a single event in a causal chain. I marry the philosophical discussion with a sketch of tort law by means of an unusual hypothetical. I suggest that Mackie’s proportional analysis could be have a useful practical application since current tort law regards causality as transitive and that total responsibility may be placed on the originator of connected but distinct events.
86. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Ralph Kennedy Professor Chisholm and the Problem of the Speckled Hen
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The Problem of the Speckled Hen is a potential stumbling-block for any philosophical treatment of perceptual certainty. Roderick Chisholm argues in the third edition of his Theory of Knowledge (Prentice Hall, 1989) that the Speckled Hen is not a problem for the account of the perceptually certain contained in that book. In this note, I argue that Chisholm’s defense of his account does not work.
87. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Dana E. Bushnell Identity, Psychological Continuity, and Rationality
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Derek Parfit claims that all that rationally matters for a person is psychological connectedness or continuity, even without identity. A psychological replica of a person whose body is destroyed upon the replication rationally should be considered just as valuable as the original person. I argue against this, maintaining that any such copying procedure would be objectionable. First, I argue that a copy of an original person does not preserve identity to the original person. And second, I argue that because a copy does not retain the identity of the orignial, it is not irrational to regard a copy as of less value than the original.
88. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Fred Seddon McAllister on Northrop
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This paper attempts to answer Joseph B. McAllister’s critique o f the epistemology of F. S. C. Northrop. Toward this end an exposition of the essence of Northrop’s theory of knowledge is presented and a simple comparison with McAllister’s similar effort reveals the latter’s deficiencies. I also reveal how McAllister’s criticism of Northrop’s “supposed” realism depends on equating realism in general with one kind, direct realism. If this is so, then Northrop is neither a skeptic nor a moral or legal relativist.
89. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Michael R. Baumer Chasing Aristotle’s Categories Down the Tree of Grammar
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This paper addresses the problem of the origin and principle of Aristotle’s distinctions among the categories. It explores the possibilities of reformulating and reviving the “grammatical” theory, generally ascribed first to Trendelenburg. The paper brings two new perspectives to the grammatical theory: that of Aristotle’s own theory of syntax and that of contemporary linguistic syntax and semantics. I put forth a provisional theory of Aristotle’s categories in which (1) I propose that the Categories sets forth a theory of lexical structure, with the ten categories emerging as lexical or semantic categories, and (2) I suggest conceptual links, both in Aristotle’s writings and in actuality, between these semantic categories and certain grammatical inflections.
90. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Thomas Young Analogical Reasoning and Easy Rescue Cases
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The purpose of this article is to determine whether analogical reasoning can supply a basis for believing that we have a moral obligation to rescue strangers. The paper will focus on donating cadaver organs. I construct a moral analogical argument involving an easy rescue case and organ donation. Various alleged relevant differences between the cases are examined and rejected. Finally, what I cal l “the ownership dilemma” is introduced and I conclude that this dilemma is inescapable. Thus, analogical reasoning, however convincing it might appear, is virtually worthless as a strategy of rationality persuading people that they have a duty to donate blood, cadaver organs, or, more generally, a duty to give up any property to aid strangers.
91. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Gilbert Plumer A Here-Now Thery of Indexicality
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This paper attempts to define indexicality so as to semantically distinguish indexicals from proper names and definite descriptions. The widely-accepted approach that says that indexical reference is distinctive in being dependent on context of use is criticized. A reductive approach is proposed and defended that takes an indexical to be (roughly) an expression that either is or is equivalent to ‘here’ or ‘now’, or is such that a tokening of it refers by relating something to the place and/or time that would have been referred to had ‘here’ and ‘now’ been tokened instead. Alternative reductive approaches are criticized.
92. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Laura L. Garcia Timelessness, Omniscience, and Tenses
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Two major objections to divine atemporality center on supposed tensions between the claim that God is omniscient and the claim that he is timeless. Since most defenders of divine timelessness are even more firmly committed to omniscience, driving a wedge between the two is intended to convert such persons to a temporal view of God. However, I believe that both arguments fail to demonstrate an incompatibility between omniscience and timelessness, and that the objections themselves rest in large part on misunderstandings regarding both the motivation for and substance of the doctrine of divine timelessness.
93. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Mary Ella Savarino Toward an Ontology of Virtue Ethics
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Although ethicists are increasingly interested in virtue ethics, very little has been written about the nature of virtue. Yet understanding it is crucial for understanding virtue ethics. Some philosophers of science claim that virtue is a property reducible to the mere disposition to behave in certain specified ways given a particular situation. A virtue is correctly ascribed after the observation of the relevant behavior. This view reverses the classical virtue ethics of Aristotle. For him, behavior is identified as virtuous in the proper sense after determining that the agent has the relevant virtue. The focus on virtue rather than action differentiates virtue ethics from the action-centered theories that have been dominant untiI recently.In this paper, I argue that virtue is an actual qualily. In the first part, I review Aristotle’s claim that virtue is not a mere potentiality. In the second part, I propose that this claim is supported hy the fact that we are aware of some virtues as actual qualities. If and only if virtues are actual qualities can they be the fundamental values virtue ethicists claim they are.
94. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Byron L. Haines A Critique of Harman’s Empiric Relativism
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In a paper, “Is there a Single True Morality,” Gilbert Harman presents an argument for moral relativism that some have found persuasive. Relativism is, Harman argues, the view that is most compatible with a scientific view of the world. The present paper argues that Harman’s argument is unsound since it contains at least one false premise. Further, there are considerations to which Harman himself draws attention which count against moral relativism and in favor of moral absolutism i.e., the view that actions have a moral character that is independent of how individuals or groups think or feel about them.Nor is moral absolutism incompatible with a scientific view of the world, although it is no doubt incompatible with the radical empiricsm that underlies Harman’s argument.
95. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
D. F. Siemens, Jr. On Wiebe’s “Existential Assumptions for Aristotelian Logic”
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This comment calls attention to the nature of the Aristotelian and classical logics, and the difficulty of representing their judgments and inferences by means of Venn diagrams. The meaning of ‘all’ in the different calculi produces problems. A second problem is that the specification of existence in Venn diagrams for statements and arguments cannot be restricted to a single class, overlooked by Wiebe. This problem is further complicated by his adoption of classical (Renaissance) syllogistic, which is inconsistent. Aristotle’s term logic is consistent. So also is the medieval extension, though the inclusion of singular premisses renders it less perspicuous though more flexible.
96. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Jon Avery Three Types of American Neo-Pragmatism
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The issue of this paper is the extent to which historicism excludes metaphysics in the contemporary revival of American philosophical pragmatism. I have isolated three types of neo-pragmatism: philosophical, theological, and religious. My theisis is that religious pragmatism is a dialectical compromise between theological pragmatism and philosophical pragmatism. William Dean is correct that Rorty’s commitment to human solidarity implies a metaphysics, for human solidarity is valuable only because natural reality is so harsh. Jeffrey Stout, though, is correct that theistic naturalism is “relevant but redundant,” for God is identical to creative natural experiences. Religious pragmatism is an unjustly neglected alternative in this contemporary revival of classical pragmatism. It is a union of the naturalistic conception of religion from theological pragmatism and the non-theistic metaphysics of philosophical pragmatism . By preserving what is true in each type of pragmatism, religious pragmatism makes constructive dialogue possible.
97. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Robert M. Francescotti Subjective Experience and Points of View
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Thomas Nagel contends that facts regarding the qualitative character of conscious experience can be grasped from only a single point of view. This feature, he claims, is what renders conscious experience subjective in character, and it is what makes facts about the qualitative experience subjective facts. While much has been written regarding the ontological implications of the ‘point of view account’ relatively Iittle has been said on whether the account itself successfully defines the subjectivity of the mental. In this paper, I show that considerations of what can be grasped from only a single point of view provide neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for subjective experience.
98. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Frederick J. O’Toole Descartes’ Problematic Causal Principle of Ideas
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There is a virtual consensus among commentators on Descartes that the causal principle by which he relates the objective reality of his ideas to the formal reality of their causes isindefensible. In particular, Descartes’ claim that this principle follows from the general principle which states that the cause must contain at least as much reality as the effect has been examined and rejected as logically implausible. I challenge this view by showing that there is a logically plausible derivation of the causal principle of ideas from the general causal principle. This result has important implications due to the crucial role the causal principle of ideas plays in Descartes’ first a posteriori argument for the existence of God.
99. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Jim Robinson A Change in Plato’s Conception of the Good
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One of the most interesting passages in the Republic is the comparison of the Form of the Good with the Sun. Although this depiction of the Good was never repeated, many hold that the Good retained its privileged place in Plato’s metaphysics.I shall argue that there are good reasons for thinking that Plato, when writing the Sophist, no longer held his earlier view of the Good. Specifically, I shall contend that he ceased to believe that as the Sun makes its objects visible, so the Good makes the Forms knowable. This being the case, it cannot also be said to iIluminate either the Forms or the order they exhibit.My procedure will be first to consider briefly how, in the Republic, the Good can be said to iIluminate the Forms. I shall then determine the extent to which, in the Sophist, this function can still be credited to the Good.
100. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 18
Nelson Potter What Is Wrong with Kant’s Four Examples
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Kant gives four examples to illustrate the application of the categoricaI imperative immediately after in troducing its “universal Iaw” formulation in Chapter Two his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. These examples have been much discussed to gain an understanding of how the categorical imperative applies to derive specific duties. It is argued that the discussions found in these examples do not accord well with Kant’s fuller account of that application in his Iater work The Metaphysics of Morals. That [Iater] work has quite different, sometimes better, arguments for the same moral conclusions, and never mentions the argument against making a lying promise (the second example). Giving exclusive or excessive altention to these four examples has distorted our understanding of Kant’s moral philosophy.