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Tennessee Philosophical Association
46th Annual Meeting: Oct. 24-25, 2014
Speaker: Bryan Frances,
"How Should One React to Religious Disagreement?"
Friday, 7:30 P.M., 114 Furman Hall, followed by a spirited reception
Bryan Frances (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is Associate Professor of
Philosophy at Fordham University. He is a philosopher with a wide
range of interests, including epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of
mind, philosophy of language, and philosophy of religion. His
first book, Scepticism Comes Alive (OUP, 2005), introduced us to
the “live” skeptical problem, a new type of skeptical argument.
Over the past few years, Frances has been writing extensively on the
problem of disagreement (e.g., “The Reflective Epistemic Renegade,”
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (2010): 419-63), as well
as the more specific problem of religious disagreement (“Religious
Disagreement,” forthcoming in Graham Oppy (ed.), Handbook of
Contemporary Philosophy of Religion, Acumen Press). He has
recently published Gratuitous Suffering and the Problem of Evil (Routledge,
2013), and he is currently working on two book projects on the
epistemology of disagreement.
Sessions: Saturday, Furman Hall
9:00 am through 3:25 pm
9:00 – 9:55
Violations of Basic Welfare Rights and War
Dustin Nelson (University of Missouri)
Response: Noel Boyle (Belmont University)
John Fitzpatrick (University of Tennessee, Chattanooga)
Response: Rickey Ray (Northeast State Community College)
Motivations Why Those in Hell Will Not Want to be With God
L. Manning Garrett III (University of Memphis, Lambuth)
Response: Mark Coppenger (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
The Unwelcome Implications of Feminist Strong Substantive Autonomy
Emily McGill (Vanderbilt University)
Response: Glenn Trujillo (Vanderbilt University)
The Child as
Author: Talia Welsh (University of Tennessee, Chattanooga)
Critical Replies from: Alejandro Arango (Vanderbilt University) and Amy McKiernan (Vanderbilt University)
Truthmaking Objection to Molinism
Allen Gehring (Brescia University)
Response: E. Frank Mashburn (Pellissippi State Community College)
Leibnizian Naturalism and the Miraculous
Joshua L. Watson (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
Response: Gregory Bock (Walters State Community College)
the Will to Believe
Author: Scott Aikin (Vanderbilt University)
Critical Replies from: Dustin Nelson (University of Missouri) and Trevor Hedberg (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
A More Robustly
Noel Boyle (Belmont University)
Response: Andrew Cling (University of Alabama, Huntsville)
Election of President and Secretary
Lunch (On Your Own)
The Aesthetic Argument and Darwinism
Mark Coppenger (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Response: Margaret E. Moore (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
CRITICS: How Should We Value Nature?
Author: Mark Michael (Austin Peay State University)
Critical Replies from: Eric Ritter (Vanderbilt University) and Shannon Fyfe (Vanderbilt University)
Speculative Realism and Nietzsche's Two Critiques of Metaphysics
C.J. Davies (Vanderbilt University)
Response: Talia Welsh (University of Tennessee, Chattanooga)
Concerning Appeal to Authority
Charles Cardwell (Pellissippi State Community College)
Response: Amber Carlson (Vanderbilt University)
Do Teleological Arguments have Existential or Expressive Conclusions? A Note on
Michael Hodges (Vanderbilt University) and Scott Aikin (Vanderbilt University)
Response: Ethan Mills (University of Tennessee, Chattanooga)
Lockean Neutrality and the Toleration of African Female Circumcision
Gregory L. Bock (Walters State Community College)
Response: Emily McGill (Vanderbilt University)
Abstracts of papers
In addition to the papers listed below, we will also be having three “Author Meets Critics” sessions this year, each involving two critical commentaries and a prepared response from the author. Please see the conference schedule for further details on those sessions.
Gregory L. Bock (Walters State Community College)
“Lockean Neutrality and the Toleration of African Female Circumcision”
This paper explores John Locke’s concept of tolerance in A Letter Concerning Toleration and applies it to the controversial issue of African female circumcision. Until now, the ethical debate surrounding female circumcision has focused almost exclusively on the risks and harms, and the anthropological literature has primarily treated the procedure as a cultural practice, not a religious one. In this paper, I explore the religious aspects of female circumcision, and ask whether tolerating it would be justified on Lockean grounds. In doing so, I discover an ambiguity in Locke’s principle of neutrality which makes the answer indeterminate.
“A More Robustly Subjective Physicalism”
Many have sought to articulate a position simultaneously recognizing that the world is purely physical, and that some features of our world are subjective in nature. Among the most recent and comprehensive articulations of such a position is the subjective physicalism of Robert Howell. Deeply sympathetic to the project of navigating a path between the reductionism typical of physical ontology and the dualism typical of phenomenal realism, I argue that Howell overstates the epistemic significance, and understates the metaphysical significance, of the subjective. The resulting picture, while deeply indebted to Howell, is a more robustly subjective physicalism.
(Pellissippi State Community College)
“Reflections Concerning Appeal to Authority”
A discussion of appeal to authority elaborates on difficulties that arise. I offer explication of the notion of authority and argue that the appeal is legitimate only if issues of authenticity, accuracy, scope, and meaning are settled first. I suggest that these issues are not simple ones.
(Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
“The Aesthetic Argument and Darwinism”
The Anthropic Argument for God’s existence, built on the fit between humanity and nature, is typically faulted for getting things backward. The Darwinist grants that the range of earth’s temperatures, the chemical composition of the air we breathe, etc. are salubrious, but explains the happy correspondence as a matter of survival. Those who couldn’t manage the given environment simply died off leaving the rest to procreate. I argue that this response does not explain the universal aesthetic appreciation for a wide range of landscapes on earth, for aesthetic distress is not lethal.
“Speculative Realism and Nietzsche's Two Critiques of Metaphysics”
This paper argues that prominent speculative realist thinkers misunderstand the critiques of metaphysics put forward by Nietzsche. In the post-Kantian Continental tradition of which Nietzsche is an important member, there are both epistemological concerns about metaphysics and 'ethological' concerns about it. Though Badiou and Meillassoux each satisfactorily answer the epistemological concerns, they fail to acknowledge or respond to the ethological concerns. As a result, it is not clear that the speculative turn is the sort of philosophical progress which its proponents claim.
(University of Tennessee, Chattanooga)
“Did Socrates Confess?”
Many commentators have noted the oddness of Socrates’ defense in Plato’s Apology. I want to focus in this paper about his decision to first refute the “old accusers” and their accusations that he is a sophist and a practitioner of natural philosophy. I argue that his defense to the old accusations would convince many of his contemporaries that he was indeed a corruptor of the youth.
L. Manning Garrett
III (University of Memphis, Lambuth)
“Three Motivations Why Those in Hell Will Not Want to be With God”
Thomas Talbot has argued that those in hell will have no motivation not to want to be with God. My argument in this paper will consist of two parts. First, I shall point out what seems to me to be a logical leap in Talbot’s reasoning. Secondly, I will offer three possible motivations that some in hell will have not to want to be with God. Those whom I have in mind that will not want to be with God I will denominate: philosophical atheists and the so called new atheists.
“A New Truthmaking Objection to Molinism”
Molinism attempts to explain how God can have meticulous sovereignty and exhaustive foreknowledge while creatures exercise libertarian freedom. This theory hinges on positing the existence of various counterfactual truths prior to creation. Philosophers debate whether these truths fall prey to a truthmaking objection. I develop a new way to frame this objection that draws on the epistemic considerations wrapped up with truthmaking.
(Vanderbilt University) and Scott Aikin (Vanderbilt University)
“Do Teleological Arguments have Existential or Expressive Conclusions? A Note on Hume’s Dialogues”
The teleological argument is usually proffered as support for belief in God. As an argument, it is open to objections. Famously, Hume contended that none of the traditional properties of God can be supported. And now, the facts in question are adequately explained by the theory of evolution and thus do not require supernatural explanation. We think these objections are enough to defeat the argument. But, there is a more pervasive difficulty that we will present. We will review the two objections and then turn to the possibility that teleological arguments perform a different communicative function: expression.
“The Unwelcome Implications of Feminist Strong Substantive Autonomy”
In this paper, I present arguments against feminist strong substantive theories of autonomy. These theories are explicitly motivated by the normative commitments of feminism; yet, I argue, their implications are inconsistent with these very same commitments. This inconsistency can be traced back to the acceptance of two theses: first, that selves are socially constituted, and second, that autonomy itself is socially constituted. I suggest that a better way forward would be to deny both of these theses in favor of a more individualistic theory of autonomy.
(University of Missouri)
“Violations of Basic Welfare Rights and War”
There are individuals in the world that do not have enough resources for basic subsistence. Cécile Fabre has recently argued on cosmopolitan grounds that, along with violations of civil and political rights, “violations of basic welfare rights also constitute a just cause for [large-scale military] intervention and can form part of an all-things-considered justification for it.” (174) I will argue, however, that the unfulfilled basic welfare rights of individuals cannot justify a military intervention on their behalf. The right to cause harm cannot be justified as a response to unfulfilled basic welfare rights.
Joshua L. Watson
(University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
“Leibnizian Naturalism and the Miraculous”
The success of science in explaining phenomena naturally raises an interesting philosophical question—what, if anything, does the failure of miraculous explanations tell us about ultimate reality? More specifically, is the failure of miraculous explanations strong evidence favoring metaphysical naturalism over its rivals? In what follows, I will answer this question on behalf of Leibniz. Drawing on his philosophy of laws, I will argue that although Leibniz believes that miracles are possible, his philosophy of nature implies that miracles do not occur. According to Leibniz, therefore, far from discrediting a theistic metaphysics, the failure of miraculous explanations is exactly what one should expect given theism.
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