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Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

Dancing Philosophy: What Happens To Philosophy When Considered From The Point Of View Of A Dancer, Aili W. Bresnahan Jun 2016

Dancing Philosophy: What Happens To Philosophy When Considered From The Point Of View Of A Dancer, Aili W. Bresnahan

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Western philosophical aesthetics tends to answer the question, “What is art?” by starting with the perspective of the art appreciator. What does the spectator perceive in the artistic entity at issue? For example, are these properties formal and tangible, an arrangement of lines and colors as provided by Clive Bell’s theory of significant form? Are they contextual—are they, for example, the expression of the experience of a particular culture? Or are these properties relational in the sense of being a comment on or response to another art-historical movement, such as Cubism?

Starting from this perspective, the methodology tends ...


'But What About Feminist Porn?' Examining The Work Of Tristan Taormino, Rebecca Whisnant Apr 2016

'But What About Feminist Porn?' Examining The Work Of Tristan Taormino, Rebecca Whisnant

Philosophy Faculty Publications

This article examines the work of Tristan Taormino, a prominent self-described feminist pornographer, in order to illustrate themes and commitments common among those who produce, perform in, and/or support feminist pornography. I argue that her work is burdened by thin and limited conceptions of feminism, authenticity, and sexual ethics, as well as by the profit-based exigencies of producing “feminist porn” within the mainstream pornography industry. I conclude that, if indeed feminist pornography is possible, Taormino’s work falls far short of the mark. Public Health Significance Statement: This study suggests that Taormino’s pornographic films are unlikely to have ...


Ecological Laws And Their Promise Of Explanations, Viorel Pâslaru Jan 2016

Ecological Laws And Their Promise Of Explanations, Viorel Pâslaru

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Marcel Weber (1999) argued that the principle of competitive exclusion is a law of ecology that could explain phenomena (1) by direct application, or (2) by describing default states. Since he did not offer an account of explanation by direct application of laws, I offer an interpretation of explanation by direct application of laws based on a proposal by Elgin and Sober (2002). I show that in both cases it is the descriptions of mechanisms that explain phenomena, and not the laws. Lev Ginzburg and Mark Colyvan (2004) argued Malthus’ Law of Exponential Growth is the first law of ecology ...


Pornography And Humiliation, Rebecca Whisnant Oct 2015

Pornography And Humiliation, Rebecca Whisnant

Philosophy Faculty Publications

In discussions about pornography, the boundary of the harmful and unacceptable is, for many, the lack of consent. But my brief analysis here shows that this is a dangerous simplification. Images of women who accept and even welcome their own humiliation and degradation are deeply destructive, not only for the women portrayed, but for women in general.


Improvisation In The Arts, Aili W. Bresnahan Sep 2015

Improvisation In The Arts, Aili W. Bresnahan

Philosophy Faculty Publications

This article focuses primarily on improvisation in the arts as discussed in philosophical aesthetics, supplemented with accounts of improvisational practice by arts theorists and educators. It begins with an overview of the term improvisation, first as it is used in general and then as it is used to describe particular products and practices in the individual arts. From here, questions and challenges that improvisation raises for the traditional work-of-art concept, the type-token distinction and the appreciation and evaluation of the arts will be explored. This article concludes with the suggestion that further research and discussion on improvisation in the arts ...


Philosophers On Prostitution’S Decriminalization, Rebecca Whisnant Aug 2015

Philosophers On Prostitution’S Decriminalization, Rebecca Whisnant

Philosophy Faculty Publications

The decriminalization of sex work is currently being discussed around the world. Daily Nous invited a number of philosophers to join this public discussion here, with brief contributions that clarify some of its central issues and disputes.

The idea of the “Philosophers On” series is to prompt further discussion among philosophers about issues and events of current public interest, and also to explore the ways in which philosophers can add, with their characteristically insightful and careful modes of thinking, to the public conversation.


The Ethiopian Student Movement: A Rejoinder To Bahru Zewde’S The Quest For Socialist Utopia, Messay Kebede Apr 2015

The Ethiopian Student Movement: A Rejoinder To Bahru Zewde’S The Quest For Socialist Utopia, Messay Kebede

Philosophy Faculty Publications

My intention is not to defend the right of philosophers to theorize on social movements and changes; nor is it to defend the value of my work against Bahru’s attacks. Rather, I want to show that his criticisms of my book are either contradictory or express an inability to analyze from a level surpassing mere narration. In thus exposing the theoretical poverty of Bahru’s book, as well as the inconsistency of his project of shielding the student movement from criticism, I will explicate how and why Bahru intentionally misreads my book. I add that what Bahru calls “dismissive ...


How Artistic Creativity Is Possible For Cultural Agents, Aili W. Bresnahan Jan 2015

How Artistic Creativity Is Possible For Cultural Agents, Aili W. Bresnahan

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Joseph Margolis holds that both artworks and selves are ”culturally emergent entities." Culturally emergent entities are distinct from and not reducible to natural or physical entities. Artworks are thus not reducible to their physical media; a painting is thus not paint on canvas and music is not sound.

In a similar vein, selves or persons are not reducible to biology, and thought is not reducible to the physical brain. Both artworks and selves thus have two ongoing and inseparable ”evolutions”—one cultural and one physical. Rather than having fixed ”natures” that remain stable for any purpose other than numerical identity ...


Causal And Mechanistic Explanations, And A Lesson From Ecology, Viorel Pâslaru Jan 2015

Causal And Mechanistic Explanations, And A Lesson From Ecology, Viorel Pâslaru

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Jani Raerinne and Lindley Darden argue that causal claims are not sufficiently explanatory, and causal talk should be replaced with mechanistic talk. I examine several examples from ecological research, two of which rely on causal models and structural equation modeling, to show that the assertions of Raerinne and of Darden have to be reconsidered.


Toward A Deweyan Theory Of Ethical And Aesthetic Performing Arts Practice, Aili W. Bresnahan Apr 2014

Toward A Deweyan Theory Of Ethical And Aesthetic Performing Arts Practice, Aili W. Bresnahan

Philosophy Faculty Publications

This paper formulates a Deweyan theory of performing arts practice that relies for its support on two main things:

  1. The unity Dewey ascribed to all intelligent practices (including artistic practice) and
  2. The observation that many aspects of the work of performing artists of Dewey’s time include features (“dramatic rehearsal,” action, interaction and habit development) that are part of Dewey’s characterization of the moral life.

This does not deny the deep import that Dewey ascribed to aesthetic experience (both in art and in life), but it does suggest that we might use his theory of ethical practice in conjunction ...


Improvisational Artistry In Live Dance Performance As Embodied And Extended Agency, Aili W. Bresnahan Apr 2014

Improvisational Artistry In Live Dance Performance As Embodied And Extended Agency, Aili W. Bresnahan

Philosophy Faculty Publications

This paper provides an account of improvisational artistry in live dance performance that construes the contribution of the dance performer as a kind of agency. Andy Clark’s theory of the embodied and extended mind is used in order to consider how this account is supported by research on how a thinking-while-doing person navigates the world.

I claim here that while a dance performer’s improvisational artistry does include embodied and extended features that occur outside of the brain and nervous system, this can be construed as “agency” rather than “thought.” Further I claim that trained and individual style accounts ...


The Mechanistic Approach Of 'The Theory Of Island Biogeography' And Its Current Relevance, Viorel Pâslaru Mar 2014

The Mechanistic Approach Of 'The Theory Of Island Biogeography' And Its Current Relevance, Viorel Pâslaru

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Philosophers of science have examined The Theory of Island Biogeography by Robert MacArthur and E. O. Wilson (1967) mainly due to its important contribution to modeling in ecology, but they have not examined it as a representative case of ecological explanation. In this paper, I scrutinize the type of explanation used in this paradigmatic work of ecology. I describe the philosophy of science of MacArthur and Wilson and show that it is mechanistic. Based on this account and in light of contributions to the mechanistic conception of explanation due to Craver (2007), and Bechtel and Richardson (1993), I argue that ...


Books And Our Human Stories, Paul H. Benson Jan 2014

Books And Our Human Stories, Paul H. Benson

Philosophy Faculty Publications

An essay on the impact of the works in the Imprints and Impressions: Milestones in Human Progress, an exhibition of rare books from the collection of Stuart Rose. Exhibition was held Sept. 29-Nov. 9, 2014, at the University of Dayton.


Morris Weitz, Aili W. Bresnahan Jan 2014

Morris Weitz, Aili W. Bresnahan

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Morris Weitz’s initial theory of art was provided in his book Philosophy of the Arts (1950). Here Weitz calls his theory of art “empirical” and “organic,” and he defined “art” as “an organic complex or integration of expressive elements embodied in a sensuous medium." By “empirical” he means that his theory answers to the evidence provided by actual works of art. “Organic,” for Weitz, means that each element is to be considered in relation to the others in a living and not merely mechanical way. Weitz also has a broad understanding of “expressive,” which refers to an artistic property ...


Joseph Margolis, Aili W. Bresnahan Jan 2014

Joseph Margolis, Aili W. Bresnahan

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Margolis’s methodology is best located in the pragmatic tradition, broadly construed. His pragmatism lies in his commitment to understanding the world as part of collective and consensual human practice and situated interaction; his embracing of the changing nature of history and science; and his approach to human knowledge as constructed.

In particular this pragmatic bent is evidenced by his affinity for Charles Sanders Peirce’s semeiotics, by which thought shows us the real world through the interpretation of signs and symbols, the existence of mind legitimated as “objective” and “real.” Margolis also uses Peirce’s theory of predicative generals ...


Censorship As Catalyst For Artistic Innovation, Aili W. Bresnahan Jan 2014

Censorship As Catalyst For Artistic Innovation, Aili W. Bresnahan

Philosophy Faculty Publications

One kind of government-supported censorship of the arts targets not the expressive content of any particular artwork but instead seeks to suppress the activity of a group of people based on some feature of the group’s human identity such as race, gender or class. Using examples from the history of the development of black music in the United States that followed from the legal oppression of slavery and from evidence of changes in the Punjabi theater in Pakistan following state-sanctioned suppressions of women, this paper demonstrates that human identity-related arts censorship can actually serve to spur and enhance, rather ...


Review: 'The Philosophical Aesthetics Of Dance: Identity, Performance, And Understanding', Aili W. Bresnahan Aug 2013

Review: 'The Philosophical Aesthetics Of Dance: Identity, Performance, And Understanding', Aili W. Bresnahan

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Graham McFee is one of the few philosophers who can be credited with helping to pioneer and forge a path for dance as a fine art in the field of analytic aesthetics. His 1992 book, Understanding Dance, following Francis Sparshott’s 1988 book Off the Ground: First Steps to a Philosophical Consideration of the Dance, was a significant introductory step toward situating dance in a field that has traditionally focused primarily and nearly exclusively on painting, sculpture, literature, and (more recently) music.

In general dance has not been taken seriously as a legitimate art form by the philosophic academy; indeed ...


Mothering Against Norms: Diane Wilson And Environmental Activism, Danielle Poe Jan 2013

Mothering Against Norms: Diane Wilson And Environmental Activism, Danielle Poe

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Diane Wilson is a mother and an environmental activist, two roles that challenge:

  • Common perceptions about what a mother is and what her obligations to her children are.
  • Common stereotypes about environmental activists and the focus of their acts.

Her story reveals the ways in which mothering is always practiced in a context, and sometimes in order to work toward a society in which her children can thrive, a mother may have to challenge the context itself and take time away from her children.

When Wilson engages in questioning, challenging, and changing the world, she faces pressure from local and ...


Nourishing Difference For The Erotic Couple, Danielle Poe Oct 2012

Nourishing Difference For The Erotic Couple, Danielle Poe

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Erotic relationships have often been excluded from accounts of social transformation, but they can challenge us to work together and return to ourselves. In Irigaray’s work, “the two” create new paths to reach each other and return to themselves as individuals; in so doing, they create new possibilities for others.


Conceptions Of Mechanisms And Insensitivity Of Causation, Viorel Pâslaru Jan 2012

Conceptions Of Mechanisms And Insensitivity Of Causation, Viorel Pâslaru

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Conceptions of mechanisms due to Glennan (1996; 2002), Machamer, Darden, and Craver (2000), Bechtel and Abrahamsen (2005) have developed in opposition to the nomological approach to explanation. It is less emphasized, however, that these conceptions have also developed as alternatives to the causal perspective on explanation. In this paper, I argue that despite their distancing from the topic of causation, the mechanistic conceptions need to incorporate in their definitions of mechanisms the notion of insensitivity of causal relations that was examined by Woodward (2006).


Is The Climate Any Warmer For Women In Philosophy?, Peggy Desautels Sep 2011

Is The Climate Any Warmer For Women In Philosophy?, Peggy Desautels

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Is the climate any warmer for women in philosophy? Unfortunately, there is no way to answer this question with much confidence. There are no systematic measures of even the numbers of women in philosophy let alone systematic measures of the overall climate. When we add in that the climate for women varies significantly from department to department and subfield to subfield, assessing the climate for women in philosophy becomes even more difficult. I take climate to include overt instances of sex discrimination and sexual harassment as well as cumulative instances of subtle bias against women. Both overt and subtle contributors ...


Can Luce Irigaray's Notion Of Sexual Difference Be Applied To Transsexual And Transgender Narratives?, Danielle Poe Jan 2011

Can Luce Irigaray's Notion Of Sexual Difference Be Applied To Transsexual And Transgender Narratives?, Danielle Poe

Philosophy Faculty Publications

For over thirty years, Luce lrigaray's work on sexual difference has been the subject of debate about whether sexual difference is essential, necessary, oppressive, or some combination of these. I examine critiques from people who claim that her work is based on an essentialism that is dismissive and harmful to transsexual and transgender discourse. I argue that lrigaray's ethics, based on sexual difference, has the potential to lead to discussions about all difference, including differences in sexuality. lrigaray's complex understanding of sexual difference as natural, cultural, spiritual, and morphological can help us interpret transsexual narratives, narratives by ...


Ideology And Elite Conflicts: Autopsy Of The Ethiopian Revolution, Messay Kebede Jan 2011

Ideology And Elite Conflicts: Autopsy Of The Ethiopian Revolution, Messay Kebede

Philosophy Faculty Publications

The widespread social protest that resulted in the overthrow of Ethiopia's imperial regime in 1974 was soon followed by a series of radical and deep-going social changes that heralded the implementation of a socialist policy. Nevertheless, despite the unprecedented changes that took place, scholars do not agree on the true nature of the social transformation of Ethiopia. Those who speak of a genuine socialist revolution clash with those who denounce counterrevolutionary digressions. Some maintain that the transformations are minor against a background of overwhelming continuity. Another smaller group insists that socialism was used as a smokescreen for the implementation ...


Teaching The Bill Of Rights In China, Kurt Mosser May 2010

Teaching The Bill Of Rights In China, Kurt Mosser

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Recently, I was asked if I was interested in teaching a relatively short course on a topic of my choosing at Nanjing University in Nanjing, People's Republic of China. I agreed, and designed a course called "American Political Theory" to be taught three days a week for five weeks. Each class session would meet for two hours. China has changed a great deal over the last few decades, of course. That change continues, and the pace of that change continues to accelerate. While I was in Nanjing, the government announced China's seventh consecutive quarter of double-digit GDP growth ...


Feminism, Cultural Violence Of, Danielle Poe Jan 2010

Feminism, Cultural Violence Of, Danielle Poe

Philosophy Faculty Publications

For most, if not all, self-defined feminists, feminism means support for equality between women and men. The difficulty with this definition, though, is determining what one means by "equality," by "women and men," and by "sex" and "gender." For some feminists, equality requires that differences between women and men be acknowledged and valued. For other feminists, equality means that the category "human" encompasses women and men and that the differences within a sex are greater than differences between the sexes.

Feminists also differ on what they mean by "women" and "men"; these terms can be defined biologically, genetically, culturally, religiously ...


Antinuclear Power Protests In The United States, Danielle Poe Jan 2010

Antinuclear Power Protests In The United States, Danielle Poe

Philosophy Faculty Publications

The history of nuclear power in the United States began with the top-secret Manhattan Project (1942-1946), in which the first atomic bomb was produced and used in 1945 against Japan in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. According to the American Nuclear Society, a nuclear power industry association, the first U.S. city to use nuclear power for electricity was Arco, Idaho, in 1955. As of 2007, the United States had 104 operational nuclear power reactors, one nuclear power reactor under construction, and twenty-eight closed nuclear power reactors.

Between 1945, when the world became aware of the destructive power of atomic energy, and ...


Ecological Explanation Between Manipulation And Mechanism Description, Viorel Pâslaru Dec 2009

Ecological Explanation Between Manipulation And Mechanism Description, Viorel Pâslaru

Philosophy Faculty Publications

James Woodward offers a conception of explanation and mechanism in terms of interventionist counterfactuals. Based on a case from ecology, I show that ecologists’ approach to that case satisfiesWoodward’s conditions for explanation and mechanism, but his conception does not fully capture what ecologists view as explanatory. The new mechanistic philosophy likewise aims to describe central aspects of mechanisms, but I show that it is not sufficient to account for ecological mechanisms. I argue that in ecology explanation involves identification of invariant and insensitive causal relationships and descriptions of the mechanistic characteristics that make these relations possible.


Feminist Perspectives On Rape, Rebecca Whisnant Jul 2009

Feminist Perspectives On Rape, Rebecca Whisnant

Philosophy Faculty Publications

Although the proper definition of rape is itself a matter of some dispute, rape is generally understood to involve sexual penetration of a person by force and/or without that person's consent. Rape is committed overwhelmingly by men and boys, usually against women and girls, and sometimes against other men and boys. (For the most part, this entry will assume male perpetrators and female victims.)

Virtually all feminists agree that rape is a grave wrong, one too often ignored, mischaracterized, and legitimized. Feminists differ, however, about how the crime of rape is best understood, and about how rape should ...


Peace Is Not Perpetual, Autonomous, Or Rational, Danielle Poe Jan 2009

Peace Is Not Perpetual, Autonomous, Or Rational, Danielle Poe

Philosophy Faculty Publications

When I write about and teach Immanuel Kant, I am always impressed and seduced by the beauty and neatness of his work. After all, Kant makes morality a science; answers are clear and distinct, black and white. Individuals make ethical decisions by using reason according to universally accessible principles. People should do the right thing, not because it is easy, not because it makes them feel good, and not because they have been raised to do so. People should do the right thing because it is their duty, and they determine their duty by asking, "Can I universalize my action ...


Necessity And Possibility: The Logical Strategy Of Kant's 'Critique Of Pure Reason', Kurt Mosser Jan 2008

Necessity And Possibility: The Logical Strategy Of Kant's 'Critique Of Pure Reason', Kurt Mosser

Philosophy Faculty Publications

If logic provides rules for thought, can there be similar rules for human experience? Kurt Mosser argues that reading Kant's Critique of Pure Reason as an argument for such a logic of experience makes more defensible many of Kant's most controversial claims, and makes more accessible Kant's notoriously difficult text. By pursuing this strategic hint, Kant's philosophical claims about human experience are seen as extraordinarily strong―as universal and necessary―but only as providing the conditions for experience to be possible. Thus, just as logic does not determine what thoughts are about, logic of experience does ...