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Tennessee Philosophical Association
44th Annual Meeting: Nov. 9-10, 2012
Speaker: Robert Kane, University of Texas (Austin)
"Ethics and the Quest for Wisdom: Seeking Common Ethical Ground in a Pluralist World."
Friday, 7:30 P.M., 114 Furman Hall, followed by a spirited reception
Robert Kane (Ph. D. Yale University) is University Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy Emeritus and Professor of Law at The University of Texas at Austin. Author of seven books and more that sixty articles on the philosophy of mind and action, ethical theory and social ethics, the theory of value and philosophy of religion, including Free Will and Values (1985), Through the Moral Maze: Searching for Absolute Values in a Pluralistic World (1994), The Significance of Free Will (Oxford, 1996) A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will (Oxford, 2005) and most recently Ethics and the Quest for Wisdom (Cambridge, 2010). Editor of The Oxford Handbook of Free Will (2002) among other anthologies and a multiple contributor to the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. His lecture series, The Quest for Meaning: Values, Ethics and the Modern Experience, appears in The Great Courses on Tape Series (of The Teaching Company, Chantilly, Virginia). The Significance of Free Will was the first annual winner of the Robert W. Hamilton Faculty Book Award. The recipient of fifteen major teaching awards at the University of Texas, including the Friar Society Centennial Teaching Award, the President's Excellence Award for teaching in the University's Honors Program, and the Liberal Arts Council Teaching Award, he was named in 1995 one of twelve initial members of the University's Academy of Distinguished Teachers.
Sessions: Saturday, Furman Hall
9:00 am through 4:25 pm
The Importance of
Minh Nguyen (Eastern Kentucky University)
Response: Casey Woodling (Belmont University, Middle Tennessee State University)
When the Violinist is Your Parent
Mark Coppenger (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Response: Michael Hodges (Vanderbilt University)
What Are Directions of Fit?
Allen Coates (East Tennessee State University)
Response: Andrew D. Cling (The University of Alabama at Huntsville)
Nonconceptual Perceptual Content
Through Perceptual Topographies
Alejandro Arango (Vanderbilt University)
Response: Christopher Davies (Vanderbilt University)
Is a Burnyeatian
Interpretation of Aristotle Still Credible?
Cheri Carr (University of Memphis)
Response: Daniel Pearlberg (Ohio State University)
Beyond Waiting: Patience & Moral
Matthew Pianalto (Eastern Kentucky University)
Response: Trevor Hedberg (University of Tennessee at Knoxville)
Meditations on Induction and
Charles Cardwell (Pellissippi State)
Response: Thomas Mether (Volunteer State)
John Caputo’s Problematic Account
of Philosophy of Religion: A Critical Response
J. Aaron Simmons (Furman University)
Response: Rickey Ray (Northeast State)
An Epistemic Case for Natural
Jamie Watson (Young Harris College)
Response: Paul Tudico (East Tennessee State University)
Julio Sharp-Wasserman (Independent Researcher)
Response: Allen Coates (East Tennessee State University)
The Imagination and the Proof-Structure of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction
Andrew Roche (Centre University)
Response: Leslie MacAvoy (East Tennessee State University)
Refocusing Wykstra’s CORNEA
John McClellan (Carson-Newman College)
Response: Frank Mashburn (Pellissippi State)
– Election of
President and Secretary
12:05-1:25: Lunch (On Your Own)
Armstrong and the Possibility of
Allen Gehring (Brescia University)
Response: Mark Coppenger (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Abortion and Personhood: Can the
Infanticide Objection Be Eluded?
Trevor Hedberg (University of Tennessee at Knoxville)
Response: Justin Barnard (Union University)
Event-Causal Libertarianism and
the Disappearing Agent Objection
David Palmer (University of Tennessee at Knoxville)
Response: Ji [Albert] Hu (University of Tennessee at Knoxville)
The Outsourcing of Ethical
Jack Simmons & Eric Nordenhaug (Armstrong Atlantic State University)
Response: Heidi Speck (Pellissippi State)
Pluralism and Democracy:
Considering Talisse’s Peircean Account
Joshua Anderson (Saint Louis University)
Response: Robert Talisse (Vanderbilt University)
Katalin Farkas on the
Incompatibility of Privileged Access and Content Externalism
Casey Woodling (Belmont University, Middle Tennessee State University)
Response: Jamie Watson (Young Harris College)
Jeff Tiel (Ashland University)
Response: Daniel Silber (Culver Stockton College)
A Minimal Schema for Endless
Andrew D. Cling (The University of Alabama in Huntsville)
Responses: Charles Cardwell (Pellissippi State) and
Andrew D. Cling (The University of Alabama in Huntsville)
Making Sense of the Different
Senses of Explanation
Daniel Pearlberg (Ohio State University)
Response: Nicholas Jones (University of Alabama in Huntsville)
of Determinism and Free Will
Blake McBride (Independent Researcher)
Response: Thomas Holaday (Vanderbilt University)
Plato’s Tripartite Soul and
Freud’s First Slip
Kenneth Arnette (Independent Researcher)
Response: Kippy Myers (Freed Hardeman University)
Abstracts of papers
(Saint Louis University)
“Pluralism and Democracy: Considering Talisse’s Peircean Account”
Recently, Robert Talisse has given a pragmatist defense of democracy. Talisse maintains that his Peircean account of democracy can adequately deal with the fact of reasonable pluralism—and is the only one that can. However, as will be suggested, it actually does not. The paper will progress as follows: First, I briefly present Talisse’s Peircean account. Next, I show how his view does not adequately address the problem pluralism raises for a democracy. Finally, I discuss some ideas that can be gleaned from considering Talisse’s theory, particularly for deliberative democratic theory.
“Nonconceptual Perceptual Content Through Perceptual Topographies”
Standard accounts of perceptual nonconceptual content rely on a restrictive view of perceptual contents and objects. I challenge this view in the influential version advanced by Christopher Peacocke. I take into consideration the phenomenology of hearing, smell and taste, and argue that these perceptual experiences are left out from Peacocke's two types of nonconceptual content, sensory content and protopropositional content. I argue that the content of these sensory modalities is understood through the notion of perceptual topographies: contextual interrelated systems of valuations according to sensory modalities and inter-modal interactions, of which the perception of particulars is a function.
“Plato’s Tripartite Soul and Freud’s First Slip”
In the Republic, Plato described the structure of an ideal state, and by analogy how the tripartite soul (rational, spirited, appetitive) is similarly structured. Much later, Sigmund Freud proposed a structural model of the mind incorporating elements (ego, superego, and id) extremely similar to Plato’s concept. Freud’s model was considered groundbreaking, and he proclaimed himself a genius. In this paper, I argue that the similarity between Plato’s and Freud’s concepts is far from accidental—Freud was much less original than he claimed to be—and that Plato actually pioneered the understanding of the mind’s structure.
“Meditations on Induction and Deduction”
Philosophers work with arguments, but an examination of attempts to state exactly what an argument is shows that the notion is not as clear as one would like. Furthermore, an effort to draw a precise distinction between induction and deduction reveals that those notions are neither entirely clear nor universally agreed upon. The notions, for example, seem to allow for a single inference to be at the same time both inductive and deductive. In this paper, I expose some conceptual muddles and meditate on possible solutions.
Cheri Carr (The University of Memphis)
“Is a Burnyeatian Interpretation of Aristotle Still Credible?”
To the question posed in the title of his provocative study, “Is an Aristotelian Philosophy of Mind Still Credible?” M.F. Burnyeat answers with a definitive “No.” The Aristotelian philosophy of mind offers no resources for modern functionalists, indeed for anyone thinking about the problems of the relation of soul and body, insofar as Aristotle’s physics is so deeply foreign as to be structurally incompatible with our own ineliminably Cartesian physics. Despite the strength of his argument, however, I do not believe that the case for Aristotle is as hopeless as Burnyeat makes it appear. So, before surrendering Aristotelian hylomorphism to the “junk” heap, I’d like to consider the resources developed in Jennifer Whiting’s essay “Living Bodies” as they might be employed to address Burnyeat’s reservations.
Andrew D. Cling
(The University of Alabama in Huntsville)
“A Minimal Schema for Endless Regress Paradoxes”
I propose a minimal schema for endless regress paradoxes: a set of sentences such that consistent subsets of its members imply that a property P can obtain but this both requires and is somehow incompatible with endless regresses. The schema is minimal because not all regress problems are substitution instances of it. I argue, however, that every regress paradox results from sentences that entail, perhaps as special cases, substitution instances of the sentences in the schema. The schema improves upon alternatives due to Post and Sanford. It captures a wider range of regress paradoxes without making overly-strong assumptions.
Allen Coates (East
Tennessee State University)
“What Are Directions of Fit?”
We might unpack the notion of direction of fit to explain the fact that we adjust the world (specifically our actions) to fit our intentions and we adjust our beliefs to fit the world. Or we might unpack it to explain the fact that we adjust our intentions to fit the good and our beliefs to fit the true. But it is not obvious that we can unpack it in a way that explains both of these facts. I will offer an account of directions of fit that can explain both.
(Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
“When the Violinist is Your Parent”
In a classic essay defending abortion rights, Judith Jarvis Thomson constructs a thought experiment, inviting the readers to consider being kidnapped and hooked up to a violinist needing use of their kidneys. She argues that those kidnapped are perfectly within their rights to unhook the violinist since the musician’s dependency was imposed without consent.
I argue that an adult child’s duty to care for his or her elderly parents in need undermines Thomson’s case, for children do not select their parents. Their parents are “foisted” upon them, yet they cannot treat the misfortune of mom and/or dad with indifference.
Allen Gehring (Brescia
“Armstrong and the Possibility of Alien Entities”
I examine David Armstrong’s recent attempt to provide truthmakers for the possibility of alien entities. I develop two novel objections. The first is an epistemological objection to Truthmaker Maximalism. The second is that, even granting various controversial assumptions, he still does not have a fully satisfying truthmaker for this possibility.
(University of Tennessee)
“Abortion and Personhood: Can the Infanticide Objection Be Eluded?”
Many believe personhood-oriented approaches to abortion, which are typically used to defend a liberal position, have a fatal flaw: they entail that infanticide is morally permissible as often as abortions are morally permissible. In this paper, I survey the ways a proponent of the personhood view to abortion might respond to the infanticide objection and argue that the best response is to modify the personhood approach slightly and incorporate sentience as an additional aspect of moral standing.
“Desert Islands, Subject Sensitivity and Philosophical Intuitions”
Surely, the default epistemic position, vis-à-vis the intuitions of others, is to treat them as evidence, just like we do perceptual reports. However, I argue that, in the final analysis, philosophers rightly treat intuitions subject sensitively. First, I explain why, in the absence of defeaters, we would rightly treat the intuitions of others as evidence. Second, I give an example where we would rightly treat perceptual reports subject sensitively. Finally, I apply this lesson to how philosophical intuitions are actually treated. Thus, we should assume, on charitable grounds, that philosophers treat intuitions subject sensitively.
Blake McBride (Independent Researcher)
“The Reconciliation of Determinism and Free Will”
The philosophical world has long attempted to reconcile determinism with the notion of free will. Everything we have observed above the sub-atomic level appears to operate in a strictly causal relationship with other objects. This appears to indicate that all events are completely casually determined. On the other hand, we each clearly sense that we are more than mere casual automatons. We make choices, and we exercise free will, and those choices affect our future. Thus, the notions of determinism and free will are at odds. This paper will clearly and completely reconcile those two notions such that there will be no confusion regarding their relationship or what is really occurring.
“Refocusing Wykstra’s CORNEA”
Stephen Wykstra’s CORNEA principle has played a prominent role in recent debates on the problem of evil. It is a key principle in Wykstra’s popular brand of skeptical theism and has met much resistance from critics. I aim to show that the critical discussion over CORNEA has been misguided, though the critics are not to blame. I argue that a lack of precision in Wykstra’s various formulations of the principle have made it unnecessarily vulnerable to attack. I construct a more focused formulation of CORNEA that both (a) meets Wykstra’s skeptical theistic needs and (b) is unobjectionable.
Nguyen (Eastern Kentucky University)
“The Importance of Self-Knowledge”
Self-knowledge is valuable for four reasons. First, it improves our chances of survival because it enables us to assess our intentional states and adjust our behavior. Second, it plays a critical role in effecting cooperation because the efficient pursuit of common goals requires that one communicate to others information about one’s beliefs and desires. Third, it provides protection against psychopathologies because it enables the agent to assume responsibility for his thoughts and actions. Fourth, it enhances the agent’s self-confidence and happiness because the less he doubts that his successes are the result of his acting on his attitudes and abilities, the more self-confident and happier he is.
(University of Tennessee)
“Event-causal libertarianism and the disappearing agent objection”
According to event-causal libertarian views of freedom and responsibility, a person’s free and responsible actions are those that are caused by prior events or states of the agent and there is some indeterminism in the causal process. Derk Perboom argues that these views are subject to the “disappearing agent” objection: roughly, these views leave the agent without the power to settle whether or not her action occurs, thus undermining the control she needs for freedom and responsibility. Recently, Robert Kane (2012) has defended his own event-causal libertarian view against Pereboom’s criticism. In this paper, I assess the new development. First, I argue that Kane’s response to Pereboom’s criticism fails. Second, I develop my own response to Pereboom’s criticism on behalf of Kane. My own response rests on questioning a key assumption made by Pereboom.
(Ohio State University)
“Making Sense of the Different Senses of Explanation”
I argue that the debate concerning whether mechanistic explanations are best construed ontically or epistemically has heretofore failed to identify a substantive issue of disagreement. Instead, the debate has turned on a mistaken assumption concerning the different senses of explanation- namely, that theories of explanation that place emphasis on one of the referents of ‘explanation’ are committed to denying the existence of the other referents of ‘explanation’. I also argue that the real issue of disagreement underlying the debate concerns the norms of explanation- specifically, whether or not evaluations of explanations should take into account the cognitive impact that explanations have on individuals.
(Eastern Kentucky University)
“Beyond Waiting: Patience & Moral Development”
Patience has been neglected by contemporary virtue theorists. This philosophical neglect may have various sources such as Nietzschean suspicion about traditional religious (Christian) virtues as well as the minor place assigned to patience by Aquinas. I argue that one recent analysis of patience starts from an inadequate, artificially narrow definition of patience—as the disposition to accept delays in the satisfaction of our desires—and that patience should be understood to include more than patient waiting. Understood in this broader sense, it becomes easier to recognize that patience is central to the cultivation of virtues and the pursuit of ideals of excellence.
“The Imagination and the Proof-Structure of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction”
In this paper, I sketch a reading of the structure of the Transcendental Deduction of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason as it appears in the B-edition. Besides trying to articulate a plausible, rival interpretation of the structure of the B-Deduction to those currently available, I will contend that we can understand Kant’s argument only with a proper conception of the productive imagination and the work to which Kant puts it.
Sharp-Wasserman (Independent Researcher)
“Aristotle's Epistemological Humility"
Central to Aristotle’s ethics is the insight that moral truths are for the most part too subtle and complex to be captured by a philosopher’s categorical pronouncements. Rather, acting rightly is likened to an art, aptitude in which is accomplished through practical training and experience; in the course of our experience, we make mistakes in moral judgment from which we accumulate moral wisdom. I argue that this approach to ethics can be understood as a particular application of Aristotle’s epistemological humility, which is also manifested in his deferential regard for tradition.
J. Aaron Simmons
“John Caputo’s Problematic Account of Philosophy of Religion: A Critical Response”
In this paper, I consider John Caputo’s account of analytic philosophy of religion (APR) and argue that all of the five definitive characteristics he offers of APR fail—both as descriptions of analytic philosophy of religion and also as reasons to distinguish between analytic and continental philosophy of religion. Accordingly, contra Caputo, I suggest that there are reasons to think that analytic and continental philosophy of religion can be in dialogue in productive ways.
Jack Simmons &
Eric Nordenhaug (Armstrong Atlantic State University)
“The Outsourcing of Ethical Thinking”
The teaching of professional rules, procedures and standards, as well as the existence of ethics committees and legal advisors to achieve desired behaviors for a given profession, produces an unforeseen byproduct of altering the way individuals relate to ethics. The
institutionalization of a moral voice, a kind of artificial conscience for the legally defined “artificial person,” tends to do the ethical thinking for the individual who thinks being moral means following the professionally approved rules. Professionalism is becoming a substitute for internal moral discourse and personal responsibility, despite the belief that we are becoming more morally responsibly through professional behavior.
Jeff Tiel (Ashland
Torture requires careful definition, because of the degree to which its definition often entails its moral condemnation. Torture involves the deliberate infliction of (intense) pain for coercive or punishment reasons. I offer a non-utilitarian argument to ethically justify torture in specific kinds of interrogative cases. This argument closely examines the moral isomorphism between cases of immediate and delayed self-defense, showing that in both cases lethal force is justified. I further show that once one’s life is forfeit, one’s other rights pertaining to the defense of one’s intended victims are likewise forfeit. As such, any form of interrogative torture necessary to procuring relevant information from persons involved in a lethal attack upon innocent persons is justified.
(Young Harris College)
“An Epistemic Case for Natural Rights”
Here I offer the first in a series of arguments defending the libertarian idea of natural rights to life, liberty, and property. The strength of many classical arguments for libertarian freedom is often challenged on the basis of their metaphysical assumptions. To avoid these challenges, I appeal to a set of epistemic considerations to show that, in order to structure a society that affords optimal opportunity for obtaining citizens’ interests, we have a rational obligation to protect the freedom of individuals to pursue those interests.
(Belmont University, MTSU)
“Katalin Farkas on the Incompatibility of Privileged Access and Content Externalism”
In The Subject's Point of View Katalin Farkas offers a new argument for the incompatibility of content externalism and privileged access to intentional content. I outline her argument and discuss the role phenomenal properties play in it, a role that makes her argument against content externalism conditional; it is only convincing if intentional content is determined by phenomenal properties. We have good reason to doubt this, so it is problematic that she argues in this way. I offer a streamlined version of her argument that is not committed to the dependence of concepts and intentional content on phenomenal properties.
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