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American Philosophical Quarterly: July 2010, Vol. 47, No. 3.


The nature and function of thoughts have been a central topic of philosophy from its ancient beginnings, yet its critical assessment was put forward in particular by the development of the philosophy of mind in the last decades: thoughts were no longer taken to be the secure basis of which we immediately know the content and its nature (Cartesian view), but instead mental entities that require critical investigation concerning the determination of their content and nature. Thoughts are traditionally discussed in connection with reasoning, planning, and justification, but the intrinsic connection between thoughts and rationality was later challenged by psychological conceptions that dismissed rationality (in the classical sense) as a central notion for a theory of thinking.

Skeptics without Borders, KEVIN MEEKER and TED POSTON

The specter of skepticism once again haunts philosophy. Strangely, though, few people unfurl the skeptical banner. As Bryan Frances notes, the notion of skepticism elicits strange behavior in philosophers, especially epistemologists. Many philosophers, even contemporary ones who should know better, sometimes assert that no one is really a skeptic. Philosophers are pretty much professionally forbidden from being radical skeptics even though we aren't forbidden from believing any of many other comparably outlandish claims. Despite the dearth of radical skeptics among us, many sense an urgent need for radical epistemological restructuring to defeat "the skeptic." While the journals buzz with discussions about contextualism, closure principles, epistemic luck, safety, sensitivity, underdetermination, and the like, we have lost sight of how far we have come.

Against Logical Versions of the Direct Argument: A New Counterexample, SETH SHABO

In An Essay on Free Will, Peter van Inwagen (1983) presented an intuitively compelling inference principle that has come to be known as "Transfer NR" (Transfer of Nonresponsibility): (i) p is true, and no one is (or ever was) even partly morally responsible for p; (ii) p implies q, and no one is (or ever was) even partly morally responsible for the fact that p implies q. Therefore, (iii) q is true, and no one is (or ever was) even partly morally responsible for q. Defenders of this principle can plausibly claim that our commitment to it is enshrined in our inferential practices, and that the burden of proof falls squarely on those who wish to reject it, even if no explicit defense of it is available.

How Far Can Physical Sciences Reach? ROBERT SCHROER

To put it bluntly, Physicalism is the thesis that everything that exists is physical. Although Physicalism enjoys a great deal of popularity, two widely accepted theses--(1) the physical sciences only tell us about the dispositional properties of the objects they study, and (2) dispositional properties depend upon categorical properties--seem to guarantee that, under some sense of the word, the physical sciences are fated to give us an "incomplete" picture of what exists. In what follows, this challenge to Physicalism will be referred to as "the challenge of categorical properties."

The Deep Problem with Voluntaristic Theories of Political Obligation, MIKHAIL VALDMAN

Voluntaristic theories of political obligation claim that a citizen's moral obligation to obey his state's laws is grounded in his voluntary undertakings or agreements. Two of this view's more popular varieties are consent theories and reciprocation theories, the former grounding a citizen's political obligation in a promise (either tacit or explicit) and the latter grounding it in the acceptance or the receipt of the benefits of social cooperation. A common objection to these theories is that they cannot justify political obligation because the actual relationship between citizens and their state is insufficiently voluntary.


By fictional realism let us understand the doctrine that there are fictional entities, in the same sense of "there are" in which--philosophical worries set aside-there are people, planets, and prime numbers. The standard argument for fictional realism runs as follows. Consider the following two sentences: (1) Some characters in nineteenth-century novels are presented with a greater wealth of physical detail than are some characters in twentieth-century novels. (2) Some fictional detectives are more famous than any living detective. Both sentences are true by ordinary standards. Moreover, they involve quantification over fictional entities which cannot be paraphrased away in an easy and intuitive manner.

A Neglected Way of Begging the Question, PETER KUNG and MASAHIRO YAMADA

Some arguments beg the question. Question-begging arguments are bad arguments and cannot increase the level of justification one has for the conclusion. Question-begging arguments, unlike some other bad arguments, need not suffer the problem of having unjustified premises. Even if the premises are justified and even if the premises entail the conclusion, a question-begging argument fails to have any force when it comes to increasing one's justification for the conclusion. For example, many regard Moore's famous response to skepticism as a question-begging argument: 1) I have hands ... via perception; 2) If I have hands, then I am not a handless brain in a vat; 3) I am not a handless brain in a vat.., from 1 and 2, modus ponens. What about this piece of reasoning makes many feel uneasy? Nonskeptics will agree that Moore is justified in believing (1). They will also agree that he is justified in believing (2). In fact, under normal circumstances there will be no dispute that Moore knows the premises. The premises entail the conclusion and Moore knows this, too. In other words, the argument is sound, and is known to be sound. Yet many feel the argument begs the question. Why?
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Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Article Type:Author abstract
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2010
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