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THE PHILOSOPHICAL QUARTERLY: Vol. 69, No. 277, October 2019.

Practical Oomph: A Case for Subjectivism, MATTHEW BEDKE

This paper examines the empirical and armchair evidence concerning the practical profiles of normative judgments. It then argues that the theory of normative judgment that best explains these practical profiles is a version of cognitivism: subjectivism. The preferred version says, roughly, (1) each normative predicate is conventionally associated with a certain conative attitude, and (2) for S to judge that x has normative status N is for S to judge that x has a property picked out by the conative attitude associated with N. In short, having a normative judgment about x semantically necessitates having a conative attitude toward x's properties, to be contrasted with conceptual necessitation, metaphysical necessitation, rational necessitation, etiological necessitation, and other flavors of necessitation.


Thomas Reid's Essays on the Active Powerspresents what is probably the most thoroughly developed version of agent-causal libertarianism in the modern canon. While commentators today often acknowledge Reid's contribution, they typically focus on what appears to be a serious problem for the view: Reid appears to commit himself to a position according to which acting freely would require an agent to engage in an infinite number of exertions of active power. In this essay, the authors maintain that, properly understood, Reid's version of agent-causal libertarianism generates no regress of exertion. Their discussion begins by presenting Reid's account of free action and why it appears vulnerable to a worrisome regress. They then consider three attempts to address the regress in the contemporary literature offered by William Rowe, Gideon Yaffe, and James Van Cleve, which they find unsatisfactory. They then develop a solution to the worry--one that takes very seriously both what Reid means by an efficient cause and his appeal to normative features when explaining action. The authors call it the "networked capacity" view.

Against Contextualism about Prudential Discourse, GUY FLETCHER

In recent times, there has been a surge of interest in and enthusiasm for contextualist views about prudential discourse--thought and talk about what has prudential value or contributes to someone's well-being. In this paper, the author examines and rejects two cases for radical forms of prudential contextualism, proposed by Anna Alexandrova and Steve Campbell. Alexandrova holds that the semantic content of terms like "well-being" and "doing well" varies across contexts. Campbell proposes that there are plural prudential concepts at play in prudential discourse (and in philosophical reflection upon such discourse) and that we find evidence of this in the conflicting commitments of prudential discourse. The negative aim of the paper is to show that Alexandrova and Campbell have not given us a good case for ambitious forms of contextualism about prudential discourse. The positive aim of the paper is to provide alternative, aspectualist explanations of the features of prudential discourse that their discussions highlight.

Give People a Break: Slips and Moral Responsibility, FERNANDO RUDY-HILLER

The author examines the question of whether people are sometimes morally blameworthy for what the author calls "slips": wrongful actions or omissions that a good-willed (or at least no ill-willed) agent inadvertently performs due to a nonnegligent failure to be aware of relevant considerations. They focus in particular on the capacitarian answer to this question, according to which possession of the requisite capacities to be aware of relevant considerations and respond appropriately explains blameworthiness for slips. He argues, however, that capacitarianism fails to show that agents have responsibility level control over their slips and, consequently, fails to show that it is reasonable to expect agents to avoid this kind of wrongdoing. The author concludes that people are typically not blameworthy for their slips, but only regarding the backward-looking, desert-entailing type of blame that has been at issue in this debate. He suggests that ordinary intuitions about blameworthiness for slips can be accommodated by appealing to other types of responsibility and blame.


The authors present an inferentialist account of the epistemic modal operator might. Their starting point is the bilateralist program. A bilateralist explains the operator not in terms of the speech act of rejection; the authors explain the operator might in terms of weak assertion, a speech act whose existence they argue for on the basis of linguistic evidence. They show that their account of might provide a solution to certain well-known puzzles about the semantics of modal vocabulary while retaining classical logic. This demonstrates that an inferentialist approach to meaning can be successfully extended beyond the core logical constants.

Pre-Emotional Awareness and the Content-Priority View, JONATHAN MITCHELL

Much contemporary philosophy of emotion has been in broad agreement about the claim that emotional experiences have evaluative content. This paper assesses a relatively neglected alternative, which the author calls the "contentpriority view," according to which emotions are responses to a form of preemotional value awareness, as what we are aware of in having certain nonemotional evaluative states that are temporally prior to emotion. He argues that the central motivations of the view require a personal level conscious state of preemotional value awareness. However, consideration of extant suggestions for the relevant type of evaluative state shows them all to be problematic. As such, he concludes that at present we do not have a persuasive formulation of the content-priority view, and that to get one defenders of the view need to specify which version they are committed to and defend it against the criticisms raised.

Communicating with Slurs, JESSE RAPPAPORT

An adequate linguistic theory of slurs must address three major aspects of their meaning: descriptive, evaluative, and expressive. Slurs denote specific groups, they are used to convey speakers' evaluative attitudes, and some have a very strong emotional impact. The author argues that a variety of mechanisms are required to account for this range of properties. Semantically, slurs simply denote the groups that they target. Pragmatically, speakers use slurs to show, in the relevance-theoretic sense, that they share a negative attitude toward the targeted group. However, this does not yet explain the capacity of certain toxic slurs to express strong emotions of the speaker and to elicit a strong emotional reaction in hearers. In order to account for this psychological impact, the author posits that, like curse words, slurs undergo distinct neurolinguistic processing that links them directly to emotional centers in the brain.

The Perceptual Present, ABIGAIL CONNOR and JOEL SMITH

Phenomenologically speaking, we perceive the present, recall the past, and anticipate the future. We offer an account of the temporal content of the perceptual present that distinguishes it from the recalled past and the anticipated future. The authors distinguish two views: the Token-Reflexive Account and the Minimal Account. They offer reasons to reject the TokenReflexive Account, and defend the Minimal Account, according to which the temporal content of the perceptual present is exhausted by its direct reference to the interval of time over which it occurs.

Bundle Theory with Kinds, MARKKU KEINANEN and TUOMAS E. TAHKO

Is it possible to get by with just one ontological category? The authors evaluate L. A. Paul's attempt to do so: the mereological bundle theory. The upshot is that Paul's attempt to construct a one category ontology may be challenged with some of her own arguments. In the positive part of the paper the authors outline a two-category ontology with property universals and kind universals. They also examine Paul's arguments against a version of universal bundle theory that takes spatiotemporal colocation instead of compresence or coinstantiation as the feature by which we can identify genuine bundles. They compare this novel theory, bundle theory with kinds, and Paul's mereological bundle theory and apply them to a case study concerning entangled fermions and colocated bosons.
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Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Article Type:Author abstract
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2019
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