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Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

Existential Inertia, Paul Audi Jan 2019

Existential Inertia, Paul Audi

Philosophic Exchange

To all appearances, the basic building blocks of reality tend to keep existing unless something intervenes to destroy them. In other words, basic things seem to have existential inertia. But why might this be? This paper considers a number of arguments for and against existential inertia. It discusses arguments inspired by Aquinas, Descartes, and Spinoza, as well as considerations deriving from Occam’s Razor, entropy, and certain views about the nature of time and change.


Conceptual Analysis And Its Limits, Karen Bennett Oct 2017

Conceptual Analysis And Its Limits, Karen Bennett

Philosophic Exchange

My topic is conceptual analysis and its limits. I will start by sketching what I mean by ‘conceptual analysis’, and saying a bit about how it is used in contemporary philosophy. Then I will point out two limitations of the method, and illustrate these limits with examples: some from the philosophical literature, and some from biology.


Evolutionary Theory And Morality: Why The Science Doesn't Settle The Philosophical Questions, William J. Fitzpatrick Jan 2014

Evolutionary Theory And Morality: Why The Science Doesn't Settle The Philosophical Questions, William J. Fitzpatrick

Philosophic Exchange

Four decades ago, E.O. Wilson famously declared that “the time has come for ethics to be removed temporarily from the hands of the philosophers and biologicized." One still finds Wilson’s idea echoed frequently in popular science writing today. While I’m not going to deny that evolutionary biology and other sciences have important things to tell us about morality, I think there is a lot of confusion about what exactly they can tell us, and how much they can tell us. My aim here is first to make some distinctions and sort out some issues, and then to ...


Adventures In Rationalism, Michael Della Rocca Jul 2013

Adventures In Rationalism, Michael Della Rocca

Philosophic Exchange

Rationalism is the thesis that the world and all the things in the world are intelligible, through and through. Nothing happens for no reason. On the contrary, whatever takes place, whatever exists, takes place or exists for a reason. Everything. On this view there are no brute facts. Each thing that exists has a reason that is sufficient for explaining the existence of the thing. According to perhaps the most extreme implication of this view, even the world itself, the totality of all that exists, exists for a reason, has an explanation. Many philosophers today think that rationalism is a ...


Free Will And Neuroscience, Alfred Mele Jun 2013

Free Will And Neuroscience, Alfred Mele

Philosophic Exchange

Has modern neuroscience shown that free will is an illusion? Those who give an affirmative answer often argue as follows. The overt actions that have been studied in some recent experiments do not have corresponding consciously made decisions or conscious intentions among their causes. Therefore no overt actions have corresponding consciously made decisions or conscious intentions among their causes. This paper challenges this inference, arguing that it is unwarranted.


Pragmatism In Philosophy: The Hidden Alternative, Simon Blackburn Sep 2011

Pragmatism In Philosophy: The Hidden Alternative, Simon Blackburn

Philosophic Exchange

This paper contrasts two ways of understanding the function of human thought and language. According to representationalism, the function of thought and language is to refer to entities in the world and assert truths about them. By contrast, pragmatism seeks to understand the function of thought and language without any such appeal, at the most fundamental level, to the concepts of truth or reference.


Re-Humanizing Descartes, Alison Simmons Jul 2011

Re-Humanizing Descartes, Alison Simmons

Philosophic Exchange

Descartes’ mind-body dualism and his quest for objective knowledge can appear de-humanizing. My aim in this paper is to re-humanize Descartes. When we take a closer look at what Descartes actually says about human beings, it casts his entire thought in a much different light.


The Ontological Argument And Objects Of Thought, Edward Wierenga Jan 2011

The Ontological Argument And Objects Of Thought, Edward Wierenga

Philosophic Exchange

Is there anything new to be said about Anselm's ontological argument? Recent work by Lynne Baker and Gareth Matthews raises some interesting and important questions about the argument. First, Anselm's argument is set in the context of a prayer to God, whose existence Anselm seeks to prove. Is that peculiar or paradoxical? Does it imply that Anselm's prayer is insincere? Baker and Matthews have offered a novel interpretation of Anselm's argument, designed to solve a crucial problem with it. Does their interpretation succeed in solving that problem? This paper addresses both of these questions.


Structuralism, Anti-Structuralism And Objectivity, Derk Pereboom Dec 2010

Structuralism, Anti-Structuralism And Objectivity, Derk Pereboom

Philosophic Exchange

Structuralist theories describe the entities in their domains solely in terms of relations, while also claiming to be complete theories of the entities in question. Leibniz and Kant insist that no structuralist theory can be a complete theory. Kant believes that the knowledge afforded by structuralist theories is sufficient. However, Jacques Derrida is skeptical of the sufficiency of structuralist theories for stable knowledge of any kind.


Responsibility In A World Of Causes, Manuel Vargas Sep 2010

Responsibility In A World Of Causes, Manuel Vargas

Philosophic Exchange

A familiar chain of reasoning goes like this: if everything is caused, then no one is genuinely free; if no one is genuinely free, then no one can be morally responsible for anything; so if everything is caused, then no one can be morally responsible for anything. This paper will challenge the part of this reasoning that concerns moral responsibility. What is at stake for us when we ascribe moral responsibility to ourselves and others? This paper will argue that we can reconcile the idea of moral responsibility with a broadly scientific worldview.


Left-Libertarianism As A Promising Form Of Liberal Egalitarianism, Peter Vallentyne Jan 2009

Left-Libertarianism As A Promising Form Of Liberal Egalitarianism, Peter Vallentyne

Philosophic Exchange

Left libertarianism is a theory of justice that is committed to full self-ownership and to an egalitarian sharing of the value of natural resources. It is, I shall suggest, a promising way of capturing the liberal egalitarian values of liberty, security, equality, and prosperity.


Diabolical Mysticism, Death, And Skepticism, Eli Hirsch Jan 2009

Diabolical Mysticism, Death, And Skepticism, Eli Hirsch

Philosophic Exchange

According to one view, death is bad for the one who dies. The challenge for this view is to explain exactly why and when death is bad for the one who dies. According to an alternative view, death is not actually bad for the one who dies. There is a third alternative, according to which the thought of one’s own death elicits an experience that reveals the horror of one’s own death in a way that is ineffable. This paper explores this third alternative.


Stories And The Meaning Of Life, John Martin Fischer Jan 2009

Stories And The Meaning Of Life, John Martin Fischer

Philosophic Exchange

This paper argues that the value of acting freely and responsibly is a species of the value of self-expression. When I act freely, I write a sentence in the story of my life, and this gives my life the shape of a narrative, which, in turn, gives my life a unique sort of meaning and value.


Atheism: Young Hegelian Style, Andrew Levine Jan 2009

Atheism: Young Hegelian Style, Andrew Levine

Philosophic Exchange

In the decade after the death of Hegel in 1833, a group of young philosophers sought to extend some of Hegel’s ideas to criticize contemporary thought and society. These were the so-called “Young Hegelians,” which included the young Karl Marx. With interest in Marx and Marxism on the wane, interest in the Young Hegelians has also subsided. That is unfortunate, since the Young Hegelians have much to teach us. This paper recounts the Young Hegelians’ critique of religion, beginning with that of Ludwig Feuerbach in his seminal work, The Essence of Christianity.


Naturalism, Realism And Pragmatism, Michael Williams Sep 2007

Naturalism, Realism And Pragmatism, Michael Williams

Philosophic Exchange

This paper contrasts two varieties of naturalism: realistic naturalism and pragmatic naturalism. These two views both reject a priori knowledge, but then they differ in many ways. For realistic naturalists, meaning and knowledge are to be understood in terms of causal relations. By contrast, pragmatists think that meaning and knowledge can be understood only in relation to normatively constructed practices.


The Emergence Of Consciousness, William Seager Jan 2006

The Emergence Of Consciousness, William Seager

Philosophic Exchange

According to the mainstream view in philosophy today, the world is a purely physical system, in which consciousness emerged as a product of increasing biological complexity, from non-conscious precursors composed of non-conscious components. The mainstream view is a beautiful, grand vision of the universe. However, it leaves no real place for consciousness. This paper explains why.


God, Evil, And The Contemplation Of Infinitely Many Options, Dean Zimmerman Jan 2006

God, Evil, And The Contemplation Of Infinitely Many Options, Dean Zimmerman

Philosophic Exchange

This essay examines the problem of evil, and then develops a free will theodicy. Then the paper considers some themes in distinctively Christian theodicy building, in more detail.


One Is Not Born But Becomes A Person: The Importance Of Philosophical Mothering, Jennifer Whiting Jan 2006

One Is Not Born But Becomes A Person: The Importance Of Philosophical Mothering, Jennifer Whiting

Philosophic Exchange

Annette Baier is my philosophical foremother. This paper examines Baier’s views on such topics as personal identity and philosophical methodology. It also examines the idea of motherhood, and the various forms that it takes.


Self-Trust And The Diversity Of Religions, Linda Zagzebski Jan 2006

Self-Trust And The Diversity Of Religions, Linda Zagzebski

Philosophic Exchange

The diversity of religions poses two, distinct challenges for belief in a particular religion. The first challenge is based upon an epistemic egalitarianism, according to which all normal human beings are roughly equal in their ability to get knowledge. I argue that this challenge is based on some mistaken assumptions. The second challenge arises from our admiration of people of other faiths. I argue that this second challenge is very serious, since it is rooted in our trust of ourselves.


Appearance Vs. Reality As A Scientific Problem, Bas C. Van Fraassen Oct 2005

Appearance Vs. Reality As A Scientific Problem, Bas C. Van Fraassen

Philosophic Exchange

The history of science is replete with ideals that involve some criterion of completeness. One such criterion requires that physics explain how the appearances are produced in reality. This paper argues that it is scientifically acceptable to reject this criterion, along with all other completeness criteria that have been proposed for modern science.


Future Genders? Future Races?, Sally Haslanger Jan 2004

Future Genders? Future Races?, Sally Haslanger

Philosophic Exchange

Gender is the social meaning of a person’s sex, and race is the social meaning of a person’s color. This paper reviews some accounts of these social meanings. It is argued that there are important differences between race and gender that count against treating them as parallel.


Can Science Disprove The Existence Of God?, Peter Van Inwagen Jan 2004

Can Science Disprove The Existence Of God?, Peter Van Inwagen

Philosophic Exchange

In order for science to establish that God does not exist, it would be necessary to determine which observations we would make if there were a God, and which observations we would make if there were not a God. However, these claims about what we would observe if God does or does not exist, are philosophical claims, not scientific claims. Therefore science alone could not disprove the existence of God.


Meaning In Life Without Free Will, Derk Pereboom Jan 2003

Meaning In Life Without Free Will, Derk Pereboom

Philosophic Exchange

Even if determinism precludes responsibility and accountability, it does not eliminate everything that we deem valuable. This paper argues that life can be meaningful even if we do not have free will.


The ‘Faith’ Of An Atheist, Louise Antony Jan 2002

The ‘Faith’ Of An Atheist, Louise Antony

Philosophic Exchange

For many religious believers, belief in God is as fundamental as my belief in my own body. That is because the believer thinks that belief in God is a necessary condition for living a meaningful life. This paper argues that belief in God is not necessary for living a meaningful life. Morality, meaning, and love are all independent of God. All that is required for a meaningful life is a sustaining belief that humankind is worth something. This kind of faith is available to an atheist.


Why Obey The Laws Of Logic?, Robert J. Fogelin Jan 2002

Why Obey The Laws Of Logic?, Robert J. Fogelin

Philosophic Exchange

The status of the law of noncontradiction is the ultimate battleground on which the traditional forces of rationalism and anti-rationalism have met. This conflict is the topic of this essay. People who reject the law of noncontradiction obliterate any significant difference between speech acts of asserting and denying. In doing so, they deprive themselves of the significant use of their own speech acts. Thus they are self-silencers. This is Aristotle’s “negative demonstration” of the law of noncontradiction, and I find it entirely persuasive.


Borges’S Two Refutations Of Time, James Van Cleve Jan 2001

Borges’S Two Refutations Of Time, James Van Cleve

Philosophic Exchange

Jorge Luis Borges offers two proofs of the unreality of time. One of these is based on the idealism of Berkeley. The other is based on Leibniz’s principle of the identity of indiscernibles. Though the logic of both arguments is valid, neither of them is fully compelling in its premises.


How Can My Mind Move My Limbs? Mental Causation From Descartes To Contemporary Physicalism, Jaegwon Kim Jan 2000

How Can My Mind Move My Limbs? Mental Causation From Descartes To Contemporary Physicalism, Jaegwon Kim

Philosophic Exchange

Mental events enter into causal relations with bodily events. The philosophical task is to explain how this is possible. Descartes’ dualism of mental and material substances ultimately founders on the impossibility of pairing mental events with physical events as causes and effects. This is what I have called “the pairing problem.” Many contemporary views also fail to explain mental causation. In the end, we are left with a dilemma. If mental phenomena are irreducible to physical phenomena, then mental phenomena lose their causal efficacy. However, if mental phenomena are reducible to physical phenomena, then casts doubt on the very existence ...


Understanding The Human World: Structure, Instruction And Deconstruction, Peter Caws Jan 1999

Understanding The Human World: Structure, Instruction And Deconstruction, Peter Caws

Philosophic Exchange

This paper offers an account of the emergence of the human from the natural, for the species and for the individual. I show how human sciences are possible, and suggest some strategies for change based on the understanding that the human sciences provide.


Philosophy And Exploration Of The Solar System, Gonzalo Munevar Jan 1998

Philosophy And Exploration Of The Solar System, Gonzalo Munevar

Philosophic Exchange

The search for extra terrestrial intelligence (SETI) raises several questions in the philosophy of science, especially in relation to artificial intelligence and biology. This paper explores these questions.


God And Evil, William L. Rowe Jan 1997

God And Evil, William L. Rowe

Philosophic Exchange

If God is all-powerful, all-knowing and perfectly good, then why is there so much horrendous evil in the world? This paper discusses this perennial problem.