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Tennessee Philosophical Association
47th Annual Meeting: Oct. 30-31, 2015
Susan Wolf, The
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Philosophers often distinguish between causal responsibility and moral responsibility, taking the latter to be an important mark of our distinctive humanity. But focusing exclusively on the attitudes and judgments we form toward people on the basis of their moral characters and behavior leads us to overly narrow conceptions both of responsibility and of our humanity.
As a corrective, this paper considers the attitudes and judgments we make of artists on the basis of their artworks, suggesting that there is such a thing as aesthetic responsibility that is both similar to and different from moral responsibility. I conclude with some thoughts about what a consideration of aesthetic responsibility tells us more generally about the concepts of responsibility and humanity.
Friday, 7:30 P.M., 114 Furman Hall, followed by a spirited reception
Sessions: Saturday, Furman Hall
9:00 am through 5:00 pm
9:00 – 9:55
Epistemic Reasons and the Problem of
Andrew Cling (University of Alabama Huntsville)
Response: Scott Aikin (Vanderbilt University)
Consequential Mistakes in the Debate
Over Kidney Sales
Luke Semrau (Vanderbilt University)
Response: Rebecca Tuvel (Rhodes College)
Kant and the Ground(s) of Dignity
Andy Britton (Georgia State University)
Response: Julian Wuerth (Vanderbilt University)
Biological Continuity vs. Brain-Realized Psychological Continuity
Andrew Naylor (Indiana University South Bend)
Response: Alejandro Arango (Vanderbilt University)
10:00 - 10:55
Psychological Readings of Kant’s
Second Analogy and the Representation of Causality
Andrew Roche (Centre College)
Response: Fiacha Heneghan (Vanderbilt University)
Montaigne’s Essays and/as
Brian Ribeiro (University of Tennessee Chattanooga)
Response: Darla Migan (Vanderbilt University)
Adaptive Preferences and Respect
Steven Weimer (Arkansas State University)
Response: Sabeen Ahmed (Vanderbilt University)
An Argument Against Jennifer Lackey’s
Deflationary View of Group Testimony
Chris Lucibella (University of Memphis)
Response: Tempest Henning (Vanderbilt University)
11:00 – 11:55
Naturalism in Neo-Aristotelian Virtue
Ethics: What It Is and Why It Matters
Boomer Trujillo (Vanderbilt University)
Response: Jordan Corwin (University of Notre Dame)
Explaining Political Authority
Chris King (Miami University)
Response: Austin Kippes (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga)
Truthmaking and Divine Simplicity
Allen Gehring (Brescia University)
Response: Rick Ray (Northeast State Community College)
The Problem of Truth:
Expressivism, Pragmatism and Moral Disagreement
Scott Aikin and Michael Hodges (Vanderbilt University)
Response: Mark Michael (Austin Peay State University)
Business Meeting –
Election of President and Secretary
Lunch (On Your Own)
The Possibility of an Aristotelian
Gary Jaeger (Vanderbilt University)
Response: Matt Congdon (Vanderbilt University)
The Normativity of Love
Mark Hopwood (Sewanee: The University of the South)
Response: Rick Ray (Northeast State Community College)
Moral Responsibility and the Ethics
Alexander Bozzo (Marquette University)
Response: Brian Ribeiro (University of Tennessee Chattanooga)
Silence and Abortion: Do Women
Amy McKiernan (Vanderbilt University)
Response: Tyler Colwell (University of Memphis)
Is Environmentalism Antidemocratic?:
Pragmatism and Non-anthropocentrism in Environmental Thought
Mark Michael (Austin Peay State University)
Response: Mark Coppenger (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Why Peirce’s Anti-Foundationalism Is
Thomas Dabay (Vanderbilt University)
Response: Andrew Cling (University of Alabama Huntsville)
Finitude and Infinity in Ethics
Michael Brodrick (Arkansas Tech University)
Response: Michael Hodges (Vanderbilt University)
Finalism in Spinoza’s Physics?
Norman Whitman (Rhodes College)
Response: Terry Boyd (Vanderbilt University)
Legal Ethical Love:
Another model of recognition through Hegel’s account of Marriage
Elizabeth Lanphier (Vanderbilt University)
Response: Peter Capretto (Vanderbilt University)
AUTHOR MEETS CRITICS:
Civil Disobedience in Global Perspective
Author: Michael Allen (East Tennessee State University)
Critical Replies from: Amber Carlson and Shannon Fyfe (Vanderbilt University)
AUTHOR MEETS CRITICS:
Expressing the Inexpressible in Lyotard and Pseudo-Dionysus
Author: Mélanie Walton (Belmont University)
Critical Replies from: Alyssa Lowery and Darla Migan (Vanderbilt University)
AUTHOR MEETS CRITICS: Starting with
Author: John Fitzpatrick (University of Tennessee Chattanooga)
Critical Replies from: Boomer Trujillo and Lyn Radke (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.
and Michael Hodges (Vanderbilt University)
“The Problem of Truth: Expressivism, Pragmatism and Moral Disagreement”
This paper is a brief overview of the motivations for expressivism and a presentation of a disagreement problem for expressivism. We present a pragmatist solution to the problem of disagreement and outline its consequences.
Bozzo (Marquette University)
“Moral Responsibility and the Ethics of Belief”
William K. Clifford famously declared, "[I]t is is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence." There are few that have been willing to defend the spirit, let alone the letter, of Clifford's ethics of belief. In this paper, I defend a moderate version of Clifford's ethics of belief.
(The University of Memphis)
“Kant and the Ground(s) of Dignity”
In the Groundwork, Kant famously claims that autonomy is the ground of dignity. Here, I argue that this explanation is incomplete. When considered within the context of Kant's larger (practical) project, and particularly the discussion of transcendental freedom, it becomes clear that the ‘fact of reason’ is necessary if dignity is to be adequately grounded in autonomy. However, as is well known, Kant's employment of the fact of reason is extremely controversial and dismissed by many, while his conception of dignity seems to invite less criticism. Thus, I attempt to show that accepting the fact of reason is necessary for preserving Kant's conception of dignity.
Brodrick (Miami University)
“Finitude and Infinity in Ethics”
Pragmatism’s moral legacy rests on the assumption that we are finite. Unfortunately, both James and Dewey were ambivalent about human finitude. Much of their work presupposes that we are inherently limited, but it is not hard to find in their writings passages that suggest in no uncertain terms that our limits are not as inevitable as they seem. Dewey sometimes articulated an ambitious form of meliorism that threatens the ethics of tolerance at the heart of the pragmatist movement. Amelioration can be tragically delayed or even reversed if we embrace infinite ambitions. But there is hope in that James suggested a modest form of meliorism that supports an ethics of tolerance.
(University of Alabama Huntsville)
“Epistemic Reasons and the Problem of the Criterion”
The problem of the criterion is a skeptical paradox about the role that criteria of truth play in knowledge: to know we need a criterion but to have a criterion we need knowledge. Chisholm does not quite get the problem right: he states it in two different ways but favors the one that makes it a problem about epistemic knowledge, not about knowledge per se. But the problem is not just about epistemic knowledge. Nor is it just about knowledge. It is about the relationship between epistemic values and the right kinds of epistemic reasons. Skepticism casts a broad net.
“Why Peirce’s Anti-Foundationalism Is Not Anti-Cartesian”
A close reading of Descartes’ Regulae ad Directionem Ingenii and Peirce’s “Questions Concerning Certain Faculties Claimed for Man” and “Some Consequences of Four Incapacities” calls into question the common interpretation of Peirce as being anti- Cartesian. In particular, Descartes’ conception of intuition differs from Peirce’s, and on one plausible reading of Descartes his intuitionism actually mirrors Peirce’s inferentialism in key respects. These similarities between Descartes and Peirce should make us rethink the narratives developed around Peirce and pragmatism more generally.
“Truthmaking and Divine Simplicity”
Recently, philosophers have argued that the notion of truthmaking is required to understand divine simplicity. An important issue overlooked here regards truthbearers. I contend the truthmaking account of divine simplicity is implausible, because it is committed to the view that the only truthbearers are human beliefs.
(Sewanee: The University of the South)
“The Normativity of Love”
In this paper, I argue that love is distinguished from both reason and desire by the kind of normative demand that it imposes on the lover. To love something is not merely to desire it, but to recognize it as setting a standard for one’s desires (and thus one’s life more broadly). This standard is not, however, one that need be taken to apply to anyone else who does not share a love of the same object. I develop this thesis by considering two examples of loving beauty: in a work of art, and in one’s newborn child.
“The Possibility of an Aristotelian Realism”
Some metaethical realists have unsuccessfully turned to Aristotle to develop a form of realism that can overcome standard objections to realism. While one of these attempts has successfully diagnosed realism’s problematic notion of objectivity that too sharply distinguishes mind from world, none of them have successfully explained how subjectively inflected reasons can meet the standards of realism. I argue that Aristotle’s own distinction between theoretical and practical reasoning provides the resources needed to see how facts about the mind can be objective enough to provide us with reasons that meet the standards of realism
“Explaining Political Authority”
This paper argues that hypothetical consent theory (HCT) is superior to actual consent theory (ACT) as an explanation of political authority. Indeed, it is superior as an explanation of authority for the familiar reason that even if political authority exists, persons do not typically consent to it. More surprisingly, perhaps, HCT turns out to be more theoretically powerful than ACT with respect to political authority for roughly the same reasons one might ordinarily think that ACT is theoretically powerful in cases of actual but non-political consent. This is because the cost to others of failing to meet reasonable public expectations serves as grounds for the creation and particularization of duties in both cases.
Lanphier (Vanderbilt University)
“Legal Ethical Love: Another model of recognition through Hegel’s account of Marriage”
This paper offers another model of Hegelian recognition through a reading of Hegel’s depiction of marriage from the Philosophy of Right. The marital structure has three key features that enhance an understanding of recognition. First, it is a real place from which to think and learn about recognition. Second, marriage as Hegel describes conforms to the shape of absolute infinity. Finally, this model is one that calls upon the imagination as a key step in recognition. The form of recognition modeled in Hegel’s account of marriage is one that demands a space for reflection and imagining anew.
Lucibella (University of Memphis)
“An Argument Against Jennifer Lackey’s Deflationary View of Group Testimony”
In this paper, I offer an argument against Jennifer Lackey's 2014 article “A Deflationary Account of Group Testimony.” There, she defends what she refers to as a deflationary account of group testimony, which holds that we ought not consider groups as able to give testimony apart from the constituent members of the group. In the interest of preserving a notion of group testimony in which groups can be considered testifiers apart from their members, I argue that there is ample reason to reject Lackey's deflationary account, as it relies on under-theorized premises.
“Silence and Abortion: Do Women Deserve Better?”
Feminists for Life (FFL) does not blame women for abortion. The non-profit locates itself within feminist movements using historically feminist language and images. How, then, might a feminist philosopher who values access to safe and legal abortion respond? I argue that although members of FFL claim to care for women, they actually silence women by reducing them to the victims of abortion. Their language does not explicitly condemn women, yet it restricts the agency of a speaker so severely that it makes a woman’s speech about her own needs and desires nearly impossible for others to hear and affirm.
(Austin Peay State University)
“Is Environmentalism Antidemocratic?: Pragmatism and Non-anthropocentrism in Environmental Thought”
Environmental pragmatists like Bryan Norton and Ben Minteer have a deep mistrust of environmental non-anthropocentrists like Baird Callicott, Holmes Rolston, and Laura Westra in terms of the depth of their commitment to democratic theory and majority rule. Norton goes so far as to suggest that the two views are mutually incompatible. In this paper I ask whether that is correct. The answer depends on how these views are cashed out, but I argue that these views are incompatible only if one ascribes to them extreme and consequently implausible claims. In fact on a natural interpretation of these views they share a significant amount of common ground. They are most likely to disagree over the fairly narrow albeit important issue of whether nature or non-humans can have rights or be significantly harmed. But unless one’s answer to this question is taken as critical for whether one is a democrat or an environmentalist, the two views are not mutually incompatible.
(Indiana University South Bend)
“Theories of Personal Identity: Biological Continuity vs. Brain-Realized Psychological Continuity”
What I take to be the best extant version of the psychological continuity theory of personal identity over time requires psychological continuity to be reliably caused by processes occurring entirely within the brain. While this version of the theory can handle a formidable objection of Parfit’s, it falters when confronted with a certain situation where a cerebral hemisphere of one person is implanted in the decerebrate body of another person. An alternative biological continuity theory can handle such a situation but faces an analogous problem of its own. I offer a further consideration that favors the biological continuity theory.
(University of Tennessee Chattanooga)
“Montaigne’s Essays and/as Pyrrhonian Skepticism”
In this paper I explore a Pyrrhonian reading of Montaigne’s Essays. I ask, first, how does Montaigne understand Pyrrhonism, and, second, how does Montaigne’s Pyrrhonian allegiance invite us to understand his project in writing the Essays?
“Psychological Readings of Kant’s Second Analogy and the Representation of Causality”
“Psychological readings” of Kant’s Second Analogy in his Critique of Pure Reason construe him as arguing that one must represent an event to be caused if one is to experience an event at all. This contrasts with epistemological readings that take Kant to be concerned about our justification for believing that events have occurred. There is good reason to adopt the psychological reading, but in this paper I contend that it is prima facie difficult to see how Kant plausibly introduces the representation of causality into his argument, so construed. I consider three proposals and contend that a hybrid of all three is required.
“Consequential Mistakes in the Debate Over Kidney Sales?”
That vendors would be harmed is a perennial objection to kidney markets, and is particularly acute for those who defend sales on consequentialist grounds. Julian Koplin has recently offered an empirically informed defense of the claim that vendors will be significantly harmed even in well-regulated markets. I argue that Koplin’s opposition evinces a failure of imagination. Problems he claims insoluble are not. Koplin’s argument is further undermined by the fact that he misunderstands consequentialism. So as to not make things worse for those who are already badly off, we should regulate, not prohibit kidney markets.
Trujillo (Vanderbilt University)
“Naturalism in Neo-Aristotelian Virtue Ethics: What It Is and Why It Matters”
Some neo-Aristotelian virtue ethicists tout their theories as naturalistic. However, what naturalism means and why it matters are unclear. This paper serves two purposes. First, it attempts to categorize naturalism in neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics by listing six necessary features. Second, it closes with a note on why it matters. It argues that naturalism characterizes a theoretical world-view that demands an ethical theory be connected with political and moral life.
(Arkansas State University)
“Adaptive Preferences and Respect”
Although the concept of adaptive preferences is regarded by many as an essential tool for diagnosing and combatting injustice, its critics allege that use of the concept disrespects those who are taken to hold such preferences. Rosa Terlazzo has recently developed a novel account of adaptive preferences which she claims shows appropriate respect for persons while remaining an effective political tool. Against this claim, I argue that there is an important form of respect which her account neither recognizes nor provides. I argue further that the revised version of Terlazzo’s account I propose remedies this shortcoming while remaining politically efficacious.
Whitman (Rhodes College)
“Finalism in Spinoza’s Physics?”
Despite Baruch Spinoza’s assertions that his philosophy and Nature in general has no final causes, Alan Gabbey presents a compelling case that Spinoza’s physics may rely on a subtle form of finalism. According to Gabbey, Spinoza presents a confused understanding of simple bodies that requires, what Gabbey calls, the Principle of Least Modal Mutation (PLMM) to make sense of their motion. In opposition to Gabbey, I will show how Spinoza’s understanding of simple bodies does not entail an extrinsic principle of organization but rather requires a dynamic and immanent understanding of bodily action whereby bodies produce one another in a non-teleological manner.
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