American Philosophical Quarterly: January 2012, Vol. 49, No. 1.
This article reveals a tension between a fairly standard response to "liar sentences," of which "'(L) Sentence (L)' is not true" is an instance, and some features of our natural language determiners (for example, "every," "some," "no," and so forth) that have been established by formal linguists. The fairly standard response to liar sentences, which has been voiced by a number of philosophers who work directly on the Liar paradox, but can also be heard from philosophers who do not work directly on that paradox, is that liar sentences do not express propositions. Call this the "No Proposition View." Evidently, the belief that liar sentences do not express propositions is a deeply held intuition. As the previously mentioned tension will reveal, there is reason to worry about whether this deeply held intuition can be sustained.
Recent Work on Testimonial Knowledge, JOHN GRECO
Recent interest in the epistemology of testimony can be traced to C. A. J. Coady's Testimony: A Philosophical Study (1992) and then a collection of papers edited by Bimal Krishna Matilal and Arindam Chakrabarti, Knowing from Words (1994). These two volumes framed several issues in the epistemology of testimony and largely set the agenda for work in that area over the next two decades. One major issue in this literature is whether testimonial knowledge can be "reduced" to some other kind of knowledge: Is testimonial knowledge sui generis, requiring its own distinctive treatment, or is testimonial knowledge merely an instance of, for example, inductive knowledge, requiring no special epistemology over and above that required for inductive knowledge in general? One way that testimonial knowledge might be special is that it involves social elements that make it distinctive. This possibility raises further issues that have been prominent in the literature: In what ways is testimonial knowledge a social phenomenon, and what are the consequences of this for the epistemology of testimony and for epistemology more generally?
Nonreductive Physicalism and the Problem of Strong Closure, SOPHIE GIBB
Closure is the central premise in one of the best arguments for physicalism--the argument from causal overdetermination. According to Closure, at every time at which a physical event has a sufficient cause, it has a sufficient physical cause. This principle is standardly defended by appealing to the fact that it enjoys empirical support from numerous confirming cases (and no disconfirming cases) in physics. However, in recent literature on mental causation, attempts have been made to provide a stronger argument for it. This essay argues that, insofar as these attempts are successful, they actually establish a far stronger closure principle. Worryingly, the acceptance of this stronger principle presents a new problem for the most popular form of physicalism, that of nonreductive physicalism. The problem shall be referred to as the "Problem of Strong Closure."
Recipes for Moral Paradox, ANDREW SNEDDON
Paradoxes play famous roles in philosophy. Mark Sainsbury's well-known definition is that a paradox is "an apparently unacceptable conclusion derived by apparently acceptable reasoning from apparently acceptable premises." Michael Clark has argued that some important paradoxes do not fit this model, and that hence we should have a more ecumenical notion of paradox. Either way, the philosophical import of paradoxes is clear. Saul Smilansky notes that, despite the famous role of paradoxes in philosophy, very few moral paradoxes have been developed and assessed. Smilansky's point is particularly apt if we concentrate on paradoxes about values or moral reasons. Some paradoxes that have been examined by ethicists concern neither, at least in certain formulations. For instance, the toxin paradox and paradoxes of deterrence have interested ethicists, but their subject matter is philosophical psychology: by invoking scenarios in which agents will not later want to do something that they now have reason to intend to do, these paradoxes probe questions of the nature of and relations between intention, desire, and knowledge. Smilansky offers ten moral paradoxes to fill this gap. However, Smilansky's general observation is well-taken: despite his efforts, ethicists have not examined very many moral paradoxes.
Propositional Gratitude, SEAN MCALEER
A striking feature of recent philosophical writing on gratitude is the disagreement that characterizes it: Saul Smilansky argues that I should be grateful to you for not harming me, while Patrick Fitzgerald argues that I often should be grateful to you for harming me; Christopher Wellman argues that gratitude is a virtue rather than a duty, while Claudia Card believes that it is a duty; Roslyn Weiss argues that gratitude is neither a matter of justice nor an imperfect duty, while Aquinas--okay, not very recent--takes gratitude to be part of justice. Despite this disagreement, contemporary authors--with one notable exception--share a pronounced topical preference for targeted gratitude (A's being grateful to B for x) over propositional gratitude (A's being grateful that p), treating the latter as a poor, less interesting cousin of the former. Perhaps propositional gratitude gets short shrift because of the centrality of targeted gratitude to accounts of political obligation, a tradition stretching back at least to Plato's Crito. Or perhaps discussions of targeted gratitude, with their emphases on when gratitude is owed and what is owed, dominate because so many philosophers see questions of moral requirement or duty as the primary ethical questions. Or perhaps it is due to a more general tendency--still prevalent despite the inroads virtue ethics has made in recent decades--to construe ethics as primarily about doing rather than being. Or perhaps it is some combination of these and other factors.
The Importance of Self-Forgiveness, BYRON WILLISTON
In the climactic scene of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, John Proctor, accused of consorting with Satan, is negotiating for his life with Danforth, Salem's deputy governor. Danforth would have Proctor confess immediately or face execution. In the course of defending himself, Proctor has been forced to admit publicly to an adulterous liaison with Abigail, one of the young girls claiming to be demonically possessed. Proctor is weighed down by self-reproach and self-loathing for having betrayed his wife Elizabeth, as well as by the prospect of lying to Danforth to save his own skin. In the end he refuses to confess and goes to his death. But before making this decision, he asks Elizabeth to forgive him. She replies, "John, it should come to naught that I should forgive you, if you'll not forgive yourself." As he is being led to the gallows, Elizabeth recognizes that John has been shamed in the course of these trials and their revelations, but claims that through this process he has reclaimed "his goodness."
Expressivism and Dispositional Desires, CAJ STRANDBERG
According to a persistent objection against metaethical expressivism, this view is committed to a strong version of internalism that is unable to account for cases where a person's moral judgment and motivation come apart. Recently, leading expressivists have argued that they can meet this objection by maintaining that moral judgments consist in noncognitive states that motivate in normal conditions. This article argues that an important dimension of internalism has, on the whole, gone unnoticed: internalist claims vary depending on whether moral judgments and motivation are understood as dispositional states or occurrent states. This variation can be invoked in an argument showing that expressivists are indeed committed to versions of internalism that make it impossible to account for cases in which moral judgment and motivation diverge.
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|Title Annotation:||PHILOSOPHICAL ABSTRACTS|
|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2012|
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