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Tennessee Philosophical Association
50th Annual Meeting: Oct. 26-27, 2018
Vanderbilt University
 

 Keynote Speaker

 Quayshawn Spencer, University of Pennsylvania

A Radical Solution to the Race Problem

 

Abstract. Recent work in population genetics has revealed that the human species naturally subdivides into five major biological populations: Africans, Caucasians, East Asians, Native Americans, and Oceanians. Since the discovery of these continental populations - as they're called - there has been a question about what the correct metaphysical relationship is between the human continental populations and the five official races of the US government: Asians, American Indians, Blacks, Pacific Islanders, and Whites. This question has been of interest to medical geneticists as well as race scholars from anthropology, sociology, history, and philosophy. In this talk, I will argue that the correct metaphysical relationship is identity. Furthermore, I will argue this by defending the view that what 'race' means in the official race talk of the US government is just the set of human continental populations. After solving this metaphysical quandary, I show that one implication of this result is that metaphysicians of race have been adopting the wrong metametaphysical position about what the correct US race theory looks like. In short, the trend in the metaphysics of race has been to adopt a monist position about the nature and reality of race given how 'race' is dominantly used in American English. However, I show that this stance is incorrect, and instead, the correct metametaphysical position is what I call radical racial pluralism.

Friday, 7:30 P.M., 114 Furman Hall, followed by a spirited reception

 

 

Sessions: Saturday, Furman Hall
9:00 am through 4:40 pm

9:00-9:55 a.m.

The Subjective Necessity of Taste and the Possibility of Common Sense
Grant Heller, Louisiana State University
Comments by Robert Engelman, Vanderbilt University
Furman 007

Are McKinsey-Tyle Anti-Skeptical Arguments Moorean?
Donnie Barnett, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Comments by Tempest Henning, Vanderbilt University
Furman 209

On Viehoff's Critique of Epistemic Political Authority
Kelly Swope, Vanderbilt University
Comments by Joshua Felix, The University of Memphis
Furman 109

The Meaning of Slurs and the Non-Neutrality of Gender Classification
Celine Geday, The University of Mississippi
Comments by Hanna Gunn, Vanderbilt University
Furman 132

Are There Limits to What God Creates?
Barry (Cole) James, University of Leeds
Comments by Lucien Manning Garrett III, The University of Memphis Lambuth
Furman 217

10:05-11:00 a.m.

Hegel on Non-Philosophy
Horace Hibbs, Nova Southeastern University
Comments by Reese Faust, The University of Memphis
Furman 007

Barry Stroud’s Skeptical Critique of Quinean Naturalized Epistemology: Examination and Evaluation
Christopher Peterson, Louisiana State University
Comments by Thomas Dabay, Vanderbilt University
Furman 209

The Law of Peoples, Moral Development and Dis Justice
Michael Tyler Ball-Blakely, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Comments by Matthew Congdon, Vanderbilt University
Furman 109

A New Kind of Silencing
Eric MacPhail, Vanderbilt University
Comments by Mark A Michael, Austin Peay State University
Furman 132

Skeptical Fideism in Cicero's De Natura Deorum
Brian Ribeiro, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Comments by Marlin Ray Sommers, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Furman 217

11:05-11:10 a.m.

Business Meeting:  Elections for President and Secretary; Furman 109

11:15-1:25 p.m.

Lunch:  On your own  (see insert in conference packet for local eateries)

1:30-2:25 p.m.

Are Illegal Direct Actions by Animal Rights Activists Ethically Vigilante?
Michael P Allen, East Tennessee State University
Comments by Sarah C DiMaggio, Vanderbilt University
Furman 007

How to Give Equal Weight to Peer Opinions
Jeremy Shipley, Volunteer State Community College
Comments by Andrew Cling, The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Furman 209

Giving Weight to Reasons
Lisa M Madura, Vanderbilt University
Comments by Christina Friedlaender, The University of Memphis
Furman 109

Race and the Dangers of Well-Intentioned Empathy
Peter Capretto, Vanderbilt University
Comments by John Harfouch, The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Furman 132

What makes something worthy of sacred value?
Aaron Stauffer, Union Theological Seminary
Comments by Melanie Walton, Belmont University
Furman 217

 

2:35-3:30 p.m.

A Refutation of Thomson’s Violinist Analogy Without the Dissimilarity Objection
Sam Burgess, Midlands Technical College
Comments by Elizabeth Lanphier, Vanderbilt University
Furman 007

Dialecticality and Deep Dsagreement
Scott Aikin, Vanderbilt University
Comments by Brian Ribeiro, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Furman 209

Ideal Theory and Shared Intentions
Christina Friedlaender, The University of Memphis
Comments by Michael Tyler Ball-Blakely, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Furman 109

Creole Presents and Virtual Futures
Reese Faust, The University of Memphis
Comments by Clancy Smith, Tennessee State University
Furman 132

Genesis and Ethical Objectivism
Charles Cardwell, Pellissippi State Community College
Comments by Mark Coppenger, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Furman 217

3:45pm-4:40pm

Author Meets Critics - Thinking Life:  Philosophical Fiction
Mark Anderson, Belmont University
Comments by Scott Aikin, Vanderbilt, Daniel Larkin, Georgia Southern, and Chance Woods, Vanderbilt
Furman 209

Author Meets Critics - Geneologies of Terrorism
Verena Erlenbusch-Anderson, The University of Memphis
Comments by Michael Clifford, Mississippi State, and Lisa Madura, Vanderbilt
Furman 217 

 Abstracts of papers

History & Applied Ethics (Furman 007)

The Subjective Necessity of Taste and the Possibility of Common Sense
Grant Heller, Louisiana State University
In the Critique of Pure Judgement, Kant describes judgements of taste as a “subjective necessity” that carries with it a normative weight which expresses a demand that everyone ought to agree with the judgement being made. This functions through a type of what Kant calls ‘common sense’ that is presupposed by everyone – but it is not clear, for Kant, whether this common sense actually exists. I argue that we can conceive of a type of common sense that does carry the normative weight Kant believes judgements of taste should have through what Alasdair MacIntyre calls ‘practices’- shared social activities.

Hegel on Non-Philosophy
Horace Hibbs, Nova Southeastern University
According to Robert Stern, Hegel’s distinction between idealism and nonidealism amounts to a distinction between philosophy and non-philosophy. I argue that Hegel’s account of legitimate philosophy, as interpreted by Stern, is too narrow since it rules out important challenges to metaphysical speculation that are essential to the discipline of philosophy.

Are Illegal Direct Actions by Animal Rights Activists Ethically Vigilante?
Michael P Allen, East Tennessee State University
Constructed as terrorist, illegal direct actions by animal rights activists have become the subject of draconian law enforcement measures in the US and UK. Some scholars respond to this phenomenon by interpreting such actions to protect vulnerable animals not as terrorist but civilly disobedient. This approach highlights their ethical character, as a normatively relevant consideration in the state’s law enforcement response. Consistent with this approach, we argue that illegal direct actions by animal rights activists are not terrorist, although their motivations are sometimes anti-statist and anarchist. However, we also argue that civil disobedience is an awkward fit for many such actions. Consequently, we explore a different approach. Instead, we consider illegal direct actions to protect vulnerable animals in light of a concept of ethical vigilantism. This permits us to acknowledge how these actions often dis-align from civil disobedience, while also allowing us to insist their ethical motivations remains normatively relevant considerations for the state.

A Refutation of Thomson’s Violinist Analogy Without the Dissimilarity Objection
Sam Burgess, Midlands Technical College
This paper presents a new refutation against Judith Thomson’s violinist analogy. It grants the claim that unplugging from the violinist is analogous to abortion, but instead challenges Thomson’s moral principle that it is morally permissible for someone not to let their body be used to keep someone else alive. Specifically, I consider a thought experiment where, although someone’s body is being used against their will to keep someone else alive, it would be morally wrong if the provider of life support failed to keep the other individual alive. The result is that Thomson’s violinist analogy is unsuccessful.

Epistemology (Furman 209)

Are McKinsey-Tyle Anti-Skeptical Arguments Moorean?
Donnie Barnett, The University of Tennessee – Knoxville
In this paper, I consider an objection to the prospect of using McKinsey-style reasoning to generate anti-skeptical arguments. McKinsey-style arguments allow one to reason from propositions about one’s thoughts to empirical propositions about one’s environment. However, they depend on content externalism to do this. I argue that if content externalism is true, then knowledge of one’s thoughts is on an epistemic par with perceptual knowledge. But if so, then appealing to it in an anti-skeptical argument becomes as dialectically unsatisfying as appealing to perceptual knowledge. Thus, McKinsey-style arguments fail to make any more progress against the skeptic than Moorean ones.

Barry Stroud’s Skeptical Critique of Quinean Naturalized Epistemology: Examination and Evaluation
Christopher Peterson, Louisiana State University
The following paper is an examination and evaluation of Barry Stroud’s skeptical critique of Quinean Naturalized Epistemology. It surveys two versions of Stroud argument that I have dubbed the Weak and Strong Versions. The WV argues that, minimally, QNE tolerates skepticism whereas the SV argues that QNE actually leads to skepticism. The paper devotes more space to the SV and offers some criticisms of this version in the context of Quine’s naturalized epistemology. Ultimately, the paper concludes that within that context, Stroud’s skeptical critique does not succeed.

How to Give Equal Weight to Peer Opinions
Jeremy Shipley, Volunteer State Community College
Sometimes when forming our own views we should give equal weight to the views of our peers. How should we do this? In the context of updating our credences (degrees of belief) on the credences of others there are two main approaches: the “come together” approach and the “synergize” approach. Neither approach is uniquely correct, and attention must be paid to the difference between the role of probability in credences as attitudes toward a representation with determinate content and credences arising from probability in the content of the representation.

Dialecticality and Deep disagreement
Scott Aikin, Vanderbilt University
In this paper, I will argue for a complex of three theses.  First, that the problem of deep disagreement is an instance of the regress problem of justification. Second, that the problem of deep disagreement, as a regress problem, depends on a dialecticality requirement for arguments.  Third, that the dialecticality requirement is plausible and defensible.

Political Philosophy (Furman 109)

On Viehoff's Critique of Epistemic Political Authority
Kelly Swope, Vanderbilt University
In this paper, I use Daniel Viehoff’s recent critique of epistocracy as a launching point for considering the relationship between democracy’s political authority and its purported political intelligence. Specifically, I regard how Viehoff’s proceduralist critique of epistocracy extends into a critique of epistemic democracy. Following Viehoff, I ask whether any epistemic political theory can meet the required conditions for political authority. I agree with his view that epistocracy, as he defines it, cannot meet the stringent conditions of justified political authority. However, I conclude against him that epistemic democracy, because of the special structure of its epistemic agent, can meet these conditions.

The Law of Peoples, Moral Development and Dis Justice
Michael Tyler Ball-Blakely, The University of Tennessee – Knoxville
John Rawls’s Law of Peoples (LoP) has been criticized for not living up to the egalitarian promise of Theory. In this project I explain that Rawls’s purportedly conservative conclusions resulted from his use of ideal theory in LoP. Next, I show that the use of ideal theory in LoP differs from his domestic analysis, and that this discrepancy explains the distinct principles offered. Specifically, Rawls failed to ensure that the principles chosen would lead to the moral development of peoples. Without principles ensuring distributive justice, the development of well-ordered peoples cannot be expected, and the utopia fails to be realistic.

Giving Weight to Reasons
Lisa M Madura, Vanderbilt University
This paper argues for a feminist conception of democratic deliberation that emphasizes perspective-taking in decisive public discourse. I respond to Iris Young’s call for a “communicative” alternative to deliberation and argue that, insofar as democracy is about collective decision-making, reason-exchange must be part of the process. What is needed, then, is a more inclusive conception of deliberation, not a substitute for it. I argue that communicative diversity, and specifically story-telling, can be built into the ideal of deliberation. By telling stories, deliberators can both assert their reasons and make explicit to others the experiences and histories that give their reasons weight.

Ideal Theory and Shared Intentions
Christina Friedlaender, The University of Memphis
Standard accounts of shared intention often acknowledge their limitations in grappling with the messiness of human lives. Such theorists begin from simple cases under the assumption that we can extend their accounts to more complex cases. Contra this approach, I argue that standard accounts of shared intention presuppose the methodology of ideal theory and call into doubt its usefulness. The idealizations required by such a methodology result in accounts of shared intention for which there are no actual instances. If our goal is to understand how people share intentions in the world, then this methodology prevents us from doing so.

Race and Language (Furman 132)

The Meaning of Slurs and the Non-Neutrality of Gender Classification
Celine Geday, The University of Mississippi
That there are neutral counter-terms for slurring language is a somewhat universal assumption among pragmatic and semantic accounts of the meaning of derogatory language. Neutral counterparts so-called, are terms that classify race and gender neutrally, yet in theories about bad language, they also define the bad words themselves. I show why this is not feasible for accounting for the meaning of slurs following Hom and May (2013) and (2018). I also show that the assumption of neutral counterparts for derogatory language is problematic more generally because of what it implies about our concepts of gender and racial classification. Following Ashwell (2016), and Glezakos (2012), I argue that there are not neutral classifications for gender and race. Though, this is for the reason that gender and race are socially constructed categories. Looking at MacKinnon’s arguments for the constructedness of gender, I argue that gender and racial categories make no reference to real kinds of people, or real kinds in nature in virtue of their social constructedness. I conclude with what this implies for true statements involving racial and gender classification, and discuss why these constructed categories and concepts require reengineering.

A New Kind of Silencing
Eric MacPhail, Vanderbilt University
Contemporary hate speech theory advocates switching pragmatic frameworks from a conventionalist account to a dynamic one on the basis that the latter dispenses with the authority problem plaguing the former. I argue, however, that, the advertised merits of making such a switch notwithstanding, adopting the dynamic approach in hate speech theory entails unforeseen consequences. A novel form of silencing arises as a direct result of certain key, structural features inherent to the model of conversation that dynamic pragmatics puts forward. This serves to question the wisdom of advocating for such a switch.

Race and the Dangers of Well-Intentioned Empathy
Peter Capretto, Vanderbilt University
Empathy has been used modestly to explain how psychotherapeutic healing is possible, and more ambitiously as a strategy for combatting racism, sexism, and even evil itself. But while these arguments have grown in popularity, feminist and critical race theorists have noted the danger of extending empathy too readily across human differences. Building from the critiques of Hartman and Benjamin on the importance of factoring in subject positionality whenever evaluating the ethics of relational practices, this paper argues that empathy can hinder advocacy with marginalized suffering—particularly when it comes to power disequilibria across racial lines.

Creole Presents and Virtual Futures
Reese Faust, The University of Memphis
In The Creolizing Subject, Michael Monahan provides an alternative account of subjectivity to the liberal one, in order to navigate the paradoxes of racial discourse under present politics toward new paradigms. In this paper, I argue that creolizing entails a “utopia” in its precise sense – a non-actualized “no-place”. Extending its logic, I argue that creolizing entails a projection of intercorporeal intersubjectivity that is beyond (yet not inconsistent with) its present, toward the hermeneutic horizon of a “postracial” society that is the ultimate end of antiracist praxis. I conclude with the intersubjective components that render creolizing politically actionable toward that end.

Philosophy of Religion (Furman 217)

Are There Limits to What God Creates?
Barry (Cole) James, University of Leeds
Omnipotence is at the forefront of discussion when it comes to analyzing what God can create. In analyzing the conception of omnipotence, we find that there are at least five limits to God’s omnipotence. Prima Facie this seems like it would discount a being that is perfect. The five limits I discuss to God’s omnipotence are logical impossibilities, necessary states of affairs, backwards causation, causing a X (who is free) to perform Y, and performing evil. It is my goal in this essay to try and show that these limits do not discount the Anselmian conception of perfect being theism.

Skeptical Fideism in Cicero’s De Natura Deorum
Brian Ribeiro, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
The work of Richard H. Popkin both introduced the concept of skeptical fideism and served to impressively document its importance in the philosophies of a diverse range of thinkers, including Montaigne, Pascal, Huet, and Bayle.  Popkin's landmark History of Scepticism, however, begins its coverage with the Renaissance.  In this paper I explore the roots of skeptical fideism in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, with special attention to Cicero's De Natura Deorum, the oldest surviving text to clearly develop a skeptical fideist perspective.

What makes something worthy of sacred value?
Aaron Stauffer, Union Theological Seminary
What makes something worthy of sacred value? In Finite and Infinite Goods, Robert M. Adams makes a challenging claim that the sacred value of personhood is our resemblance of God. Resemblance is grounded in our nature, Adams claims, and God has justifying reasons for loving a finite instance of the transcendent Good. His argument turns on the distinction between semantics and metaphysics, while building on the scientific investigation of natural kinds. I examine Adams’ account of resemblance and sacred value, claiming that certain aspects of his theory are worthy of further attention, while other parts might be better left aside.

Genesis and Ethical Objectivism
Charles Cardwell, Pellissippi State Community College
In this paper, I argue that there is a rather obvious argument taken from Genesis that challenges the divine command theory of ethics. If the argument is as obvious as it seems to me, one wonders why it has not appeared widely in, for example, introductory ethics textbooks. I offer a suggestion as to why it has not, and note that the reason should remind us to be careful in how we lay out situations for ethical analysis.

Author Meets Critics

Geneologies of Terrorism
Verena Erlenbusch-Anderson, The University of Memphis
Tracing discourses and practices of terrorism from the French Revolution to late imperial Russia, colonized Algeria, and the post-9/11 United States, Erlenbusch-Anderson examines what we do when we name something terrorism. She offers an important corrective to attempts to develop universal definitions that assure semantic consistency and provide normative certainty, showing that terrorism means many different things and serves a wide range of political purposes. In the tradition of Michel Foucault’s genealogies, Erlenbusch-Anderson excavates the history of conceptual and practical uses of terrorism and maps the historically contingent political and material conditions that shape their emergence.

Thinking Life:  Philosophical Fiction
Mark Anderson, Belmont University
Thinking Life is a narrative exploration of such themes as the decline of the contemporary university, man’s alienation from nature, modern melancholia, Dionysian intoxication, the relative value of knowledge, truth, and artistry in the life of the philosopher, and the creative construction of self. The author engages throughout with Plato and Nietzsche, with the Phaedo and The Gay Science in particular.

 

Accommodations

TPA has reserved a block of rooms at The Holiday Inn® Nashville Vanderbilt (2613 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203, Office: 1-615-321-8259) for our upcoming conference. The conference rate is $189 plus $31.32 tax (total: 220.32) per day. (Parking is available at $22 per night.). To get the conference rate, one needs to give the reference block code TNP when speaking with reservations at 1-615-327-4707 .

The special rate is available only for a limited time; it holds only for reservations made on or before Wednesday, September 26th, 2018, so make sure your bookings have been made by that date.

 

Call for Papers

Papers are welcome on topics in any area of philosophy.  Maximum length is 3,000 words for the body of the paper (approximately 10 double-spaced pages). Head your paper with a short abstract of no more than 100 words. Please use Times New Roman or other suitable 12 point font.

Electronic submissions are strongly preferred.  Please include your title, 100-word abstract, and word count in your submission email.  The paper itself may be in Word, rtf, or PDF format.  If you cannot submit electronically, mail two hardcopies to the association president; be sure to include an email address for follow up communication.

If you might be willing to comment on a paper, please indicate the areas in which you would be happy to serve as a commentator.

Deadline: Deadline for receipt of submissions is Friday, August 24th, 2018.

Submissions should be sent directly to our President:

David Miguel Gray
dmgray2@memphis.edu
[subject line: "TPA submission"]

Snail mail:
David Miguel Gray
337 Clement Hall
Department of Philosophy
The University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152

Respondents:  We will issue a call for commentators in mid-September; please help by volunteering and encouraging your advanced students and colleagues to do so, too.

Decisions will be sent in mid-September.

 


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Furman Hall --Photograph by Neil Brake


















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