Tennessee Philosophical Association
40th Annual Meeting: Nov. 14-15, 2008
Keynote Speaker: Maggie Little, Georgetown
“Intimate Assistance: Re-Thinking Abortion in Law & Morality”
Friday, 7:30 P.M., 114 Furman Hall, followed by a spirited reception
Sessions: Saturday, Furman Hall
Charles Cardwell (Pellissippi State)
Response: Mark Minuk (UT - Knoxville)
Self-Defeat Problem for the Rhetorical Theory of Argument
Scott Aikin (Western Kentucky University)
Response: Nick Jones (University of Alabama - Huntsville)
Noel Boyle (Belmont University)
Response: Robert Schroer (Arkansas State)
A Human Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Matt Deaton (UT - Knoxville)
Response: Mark Michael (Austin Peay)
The Problem of the Criterion and the
Epistemic Regress Problem
Andrew Cling (University of Alabama - Huntsville)
Response: Scott Aikin (Western Kentucky University)
On the Confirmatory Value of Precision:
Making a Case for Inference to Best Explanation
David Harker (East Tennessee State)
Response: Nick Jones (University of Alabama - Huntsville)
Praise of Museumification
Mary Magada-Ward (Middle Tennessee State)
Response: Michael Principe (Middle Tennessee State)
The Stockholder and the Patient: A Lesson for
Business Ethics from Bioethics?
John Hardwig (UT - Knoxville)
Response: Greg Bock (Walters State)
Coherentism and Belief Fixation
Erik Krag (UT - Knoxville)
Response: Andrew Cling (University of Alabama
The Fringe of Consciousness and the
Introspectible Difference between Vision and Thought
Robert Schroer (Arkansas State)
Response: Brendan O’Sullivan (Rhodes College)
Contempt and Disgust in the Journey of
Aaron McClain (UT - Knoxville)
Response: Thomas Mether (High Tech Institute)
Business Meeting, election of officers
This Is Not a Black Woman: The Pseudo
Metaphysics of Race
Jeanine Weekes Schroer (Arkansas State)
Response: Court Lewis (UT - Knoxville)
Faith as Epistemic Bootstrapping
James Montmarquet (Tennessee State)
Response: Ricky Ray (Northeast State)
Scientific Realism, Approximate Truth, and
Some Twists on the Diachronic Conjunction Argument
Nick Jones (University of Alabama - Huntsville)
Response: David Harker (East Tennessee State)
Modern and Postmodern Environmentalism
Jack Simmons (Armstrong Atlantic State University)
Response: Joel MacClellan (UT - Knoxville)
I Don’t Want to Go to Heaven (or Hell)
Brian Ribeiro (UT - Chattanooga)
Response: Eric Thompson (UT - Knoxville)
Absent Qualia and Categorical Properties
Brendan O’Sullivan (Rhodes College)
Response: Noel Boyle (Belmont University)
Personal Identity and the Right Kind of
Andrew Naylor (Indiana University)
Response: Gavin Enck (UT - Knoxville)
Symbolic Semeiosis: Parallels in the Philosophies of Ernst Cassirer and
Thomas Mether (High Tech Institute)
Response: Scott Aikin (Western Kentucky University)
Abstracts of papers
Absent Qualia and
In this paper, I argue that despite popular wisdom, qualia’s intrinsicality is not sufficient for their non-reducibility. Second, I argue that qualia are categorical. And finally, I offer some suggestions why categoricity might bar reduction.
Coherentism and Belief
(University of Tennessee -- Knoxville)
Many philosophers, most notably Alvin Plantinga, think that cases involving “fixed” or “frozen” beliefs refute the Coherentist thesis that a belief’s belonging to a coherent set of beliefs suffices for that belief’s having justification (warrant). According to Plantinga, a belief cannot be justified if there is a “lack of fit” between it and its subject’s experiences. I defend Coherentism against this objection by showing that this “lack of fit” can be interpreted strongly or weakly. I show that the strong interpretation is dubious and that the weak interpretation isn’t obviously true. Either way, Plantinga’s argument fails and Coherentism emerges unscathed.
On the Confirmatory Value
of Precision: Making a Case for Inference to Best Explanation,
(East Tennessee State)
For purposes of confirmation precision is frequently identified as a valuable commodity. Faced with competing hypotheses, other things being equal, we prefer those that are verified to a greater degree of precision. A much discussed model of theory confirmation is that of ‘inference to the best explanation’ (IBE), a method of reasoning that recommends we choose the hypothesis that would, if true, best explain the available evidence. IBE becomes more plausible if we can account for other intuitions concerning confirmation. In this paper I connect IBE with precision and argue that the former, appropriately conceived, provides a natural account for our intuitions concerning the latter.
Contempt and Disgust in
the Journey of Zarathustra,
(UT – Knoxville)
This paper predominantly focuses on the growth of Zarathustra throughout Nietzsche’s masterwork. In order to do this it will highlight the differences between Nietzsche’s infamous notion of master morality and the early Zarathustra’s morality. After the main difference is shown to be the emotions each attaches to the lower classes, (Master contempt, Zarathustra disgust) it will then be shown that this difference is vitally important in Zarathustra’s journey, as it is both symptomatic of Zarathustra’s elevated state and also his biggest obstacle because it blocks his ability to affirm life through the doctrine of eternal recurrence.
Faith as Epistemic
On this view, faith involves not a “leap beyond the evidence” but (roughly) the expression of such confidence as would yield the evidence necessary to support such confidence. Thus understood, I try to show how faith can be voluntary, involve belief (even though belief is not itself voluntary), and be intellectually responsible (even though it is not responsible to believe beyond one’s evidence).
The Fringe of
Consciousness and the Introspectible Difference between Vision and Thought,
There is an enormous introspectible difference between visual experience and conscious thought; in particular, visual experience seems to give us access to (and present) objects in a way that conscious thought does not. In this paper, I develop a Representationalist account of this difference. My account features the idea that visual experience and conscious thought are temporally extended, continuous affairs that contain interacting high detail and low detail representations. (The former representations constitute the focal point of consciousness, while the latter constitute its “fringe”). I will argue that differences in how these representations interact with each other explain why visual experience seems to give us access to (and present) objects in a way that conscious thought does not.
A Human Right to
Keep and Bear Arms,
(UT – Knoxville)
Due to our fundamental interest in personal security, inability to protect ourselves with our bare hands, and legal precedent in international convention, all persons have a human right to keep and bear arms—broadly construed as defensive tools. In fact, this right satisfies all six necessary and sufficient conditions of any human right: 1) it protects a fundamental interest, 2) it is grounded in ethical argumentation, 3) the interest it protects has been historically threatened, 4) the right is (implicitly) recognized in international legal precedent, 5) it is both sufficiently abstract and sufficiently determinate, and 6) it is practically realizable.
I Don’t Want to Go to
Heaven (or Hell),
(UT – Chattanooga)
Any state of being that lasts eternally and preserves a human agent’s earthly personhood would be hellish and therefore not desirable to that human agent; and any state of being that lasts eternally and yet fails to preserve a human agent’s earthly personhood thereby fails to be a state of being that it would be rational for that human agent to desire. Thus, if heaven is a state of being that lasts eternally then—whether or not it preserves the earthly personhood of human agents—it is not a state of being that any human agent could have a rationally compelling reason to desire.
A body of work in which “interests” seems to serve as a primitive term leaves the author puzzled as to exactly what interests are. Using Peter Singer’s writings on animal liberation as a springboard, this paper outlines some uses of the term “interests” and some etymology… and ends with a plea for someone to give a clear notion of the concept.
Jackson’s Modal Intuition,
The stated purpose of Frank Jackson’s knowledge argument was to provide anti-physicalists an argument that rests on a commonly accepted epistemological intuition instead of an unargued modal intuition. I argue that once Jackson’s epistemological intuition is appropriately narrowed, it can be seen that the anti-physicalist conclusion of the knowledge argument rests upon a disputable modal intuition after all. I also offer reasons for rejecting Jackson’s modal intuition. The end result is both an rough indication of what a physicalist position that recognizes Jackson’s epistemological intuition might look like and a grounding for rejecting current a priori physicalist position.
Modern and Postmodern
(Armstrong Atlantic State University)
Ecological theories fall into two general categories: modern and postmodern. The modern approach sees the current ecological crisis as another historical challenge (like famine and infectious disease) for social science, natural science and industry to solve. The postmodern approach tends to view the current ecological crisis as a product of modern social science, natural science and industry. Postmodern theorists favor a radical transformation of human thinking and behavior that would replace natural resource management with an ethic that elevates and includes the non-human world. Using global warming as a test case, I discuss the relative merits and weaknesses of modern and postmodern environmentalism.
Personal Identity and
the Right Kind of Cause,
According to the psychological continuity theory (PCT), someone at one time is the same person as someone at another time just in case there obtains between them a relation of non-branching psychological continuity with the right kind of cause. Specifying the right kind of cause is, however, a matter of difficulty for the PCT. The paper shows how this is so by examining a series of cases and indicates how an alternative, biological continuity theory can account for each case.
In Praise of
(Middle Tennessee State)
My aim is to contribute to Dewey’s conception of communication by arguing that, in concert with a free and informed press and the right to public assembly, the public museum must play a central role in the development and maintenance of democracy. In pursuing this aim, I will argue both that Dewey’s criticisms of “museumification” have a much more limited scope than typically assumed and that a careful reading of Art as Experience reveals his understanding of the “always already” political nature and mission of the public museum. As Dewey recognized, this has both beneficial and harmful consequences for democracy.
The Problem of the
Criterion and the Epistemic Regress Problem,
Andrew D. Cling
(The University of Alabama in Huntsville)
The problem of the criterion and the epistemic regress problem are strikingly similar. Each depends on plausible assumptions which imply that (1) propositions can have a valuable relational property—being supported by evidence or being authorized by a criterion of truth—only if there is an endless sequence of propositions each of which stands in that very relationship to its successor, and that (2) this prevents any proposition from having that property. The problems differ, however, because being supported and being authorized are different. Solving the problem of the criterion requires an account of how rational intellectual autonomy is possible.
Reality as Symbolic
Semeiosis: Parallels in the Philosophies of Ernst Cassirer and Charles
(High Tech Institute)
This paper examines the parallels between the intellectual development and mature views of Ernst Cassirer and Charles S. Peirce. Their inquiry shares a common origin in dealing with inadequacies of Kantian logical theory in light of contemporary developments in mathematics, logic, and science. In the process, the paths their investigations follow are remarkably parallel in arriving at a form of objective idealism in which reality is a self-articulating process of developing symbolization or signs.
Approximate Truth, and Some Twists on the Diachronic Conjunction Argument,
(University of Alabama – Huntsville)
I argue that one of the arguments against Constructive Empiricism--known as the Diachronic Conjunction Argument--can be transformed, with the help of certain reasonable assumptions, into an argument against Scientific Realism. The point of this is to construct a dilemma: either the Diachronic Conjunction Argument gives no traction to the scientific realist and the scientific realist ought to abandon this argument against Constructive Empiricism, or else the scientific realist ought give up on the notion of approximate truth and abandon understanding belief in a theory's correctness as belief in the theory's approximate truth.
Self-Defeat Problem for the Rhetorical Theory of Argument,
(Western Kentucky University)
The rhetorical theory of argument, if held as a conclusion of an argument, is self-defeating. The rhetorical theory can be refined, but these refinements either make the theory subject to a second self-defeat problem or tacitly an epistemic theory of argument.
The Stockholder And The
Patient – A Lesson For Business Ethics From Bioethics?
(University of Tennessee)
Business ethics – both stockholder and stakeholder theories – makes the same mistake made by the traditional ethics of medicine. The traditional ethics of medicine was predicated on the assumption that the goal of medicine was to prolong life and promote better health. But, as the bioethics movement has demonstrated, these are not the overriding goals of most patients. Not only do most of us engage in health-risking behaviors; most of us also have goals and values that limit our desire for longer life and better health and thus for medical treatments. Similarly, the traditional view of the stockholder in business ethics is that the stockholder has only one interest – profit – and thus, profit maximization. But, like patients, investors are more complicated than that. They are real people with interests and values that balance and limit their desire for profit. (Institutional investors are supposed to serve the interests of these individual investors.) The conclusion that most stockholders have interests that would limit the single-minded pursuit of profit has significant implications both for business ethics and for the management of for-profit corporations. Physicians, if they are to be agents of their patients, must ascertain their patients’ interests and values rather than simply pursuing longer life and better health for them. Similarly, corporate managers, to the extent that they are to be agents of their stockholders, must not simply pursue profit maximization. They must ascertain the interests and values of their investors that limit the single-minded pursuit of profit.
This Is Not a Black Woman:
The Pseudo Metaphysics of Race,
Jeanine Weekes Schroer
Constructivist theories of race fall into one of two categories, theorizing that race is constructed by the material consequences of race ascription or that race is constructed by a system of beliefs about members of racialized groups. Both of these accounts are theoretically and practically inadequate; they fail to capture the metaphysical status of race, and they fail to provide tools for addressing all the effects of racism. Thus, I argue for a pseudo metaphysics of race that takes cues from the “reality” of race but, ultimately, is more committed to race as a practical challenge than as a fact about the world.
We thank PSTCC for hosting this web site.