On An Attempt to Undermine Reason-Responsive Compatibilism by Appealing to Moral Luck. Reply to Gerald K. Harrison
by Sergi Rosell
This is a reply to G.K. Harrison's article «Hyper Libertarianism and Moral Luck». There he argues for the advantage of hyper-libertarianism upon reason-responsive compatibilism in virtue of its integration of moral luck in a principled way. I shall try to show that his argument is unsound. Crucial to my reply will be that Harrison's idea of moral luck is an unjustifiedly narrow one. Although the aim of establishing an appropriate connection between the issues of moral luck and free will is worth pursuing, I shall argue that moral luck cannot solve the free will dispute in the way Harrison intends.
Whither Morality in a Hard Determinist World?
by Nick Trakakis
What would the world be like if hard determinism were true, that is, if all events were determined in such a way as to render all our decisions and actions unfree? In particular, what would morality be like? Indeed, could there be anything distinctively moral in such a world, or would we be left with a moral nihilism in which nothing of moral significance remains? In this paper I explore the ethical implications of hard determinism, focusing on the consequences that our lack of free will would have for moral responsibility (and thus praise and blame), moral obligation, moral rightness and wrongness, and moral goodness. I argue that the truth of hard determinism would compel us to significantly revise our commonsensical understanding of these moral categories. I add, however, that this change in moral outlook would not have dire practical consequences, for we would retain the attitudes and emotions that are essential to forming good interpersonal relationships and to developing morally. In fact, far from being a threat to human flourishing, hard determinism offers the prospect of a life that is morally deeper and more fulfilling than in a world in which we are free.
Essential Dependence and Realism
by Daniel Laurier
It has recently been suggested that realism about some subject matter is best construed as the claim that the facts pertaining to this subject matter are essentially independent from the mind, in a sense to be explained, and not as the admittedly weaker claim that they are modally independent from the mind. In this paper, I argue that this proposal is liable to trivialize the realist's position and is biased against his irrealist opponent.
The Logic of `If' -- Or How to Philosophically Eliminate Conditional Relations
by Rani Lill Anjum
In this paper I present some of Robert N. McLaughlin's critique of a truth functional approach to conditionals as it appears in his book On the Logic of Ordinary Conditionals. Based on his criticism I argue that the basic principles of logic together amount to epistemological and metaphysical implications that can only be accepted from a logical atomist perspective. Attempts to account for conditional relations within this philosophical framework will necessarily fail. I thus argue that it is not truth functionality as such that is the problem, but the philosophical foundation of modern logic.
Wittgenstein and the Sorites Paradox
by David Michael Wolach
Any discussion regarding the famous Sorites Paradox is incomplete without considering the value of contextual logic and its meta-language of vagueness. Wittgenstein, though he did not write extensively on the Sorites Paradox in particular, is deeply concerned with its supposed implications. The later Wittgenstein's treatment of logical vagueness in natural and formal languages, and his accompanying treatment of logical soundness (necessary and sufficient conditions) as it applies to ordinary languages is thus of considerable help when thinking about the Sorites Paradox. In this paper I pair the later Wittgenstein's treatment of meaning in context with the age-old problem, manifest in the Sorites Paradox, of what happens when we apply induction ad infinitum to a seemingly stable item in a specific, meaning-bearing lexicon.
Saying the Unsayable: Wittgenstein's Early Ethical Thought
by Paul Formosa
In this paper I present an account of Wittgenstein's ethics that follows from a so-called `metaphysical' reading of the Tractatus. I argue that Wittgenstein forwards two distinct theses. Negatively, he claims that there can be no ethical propositions. Positively, he claims that the ethical good, or good in-itself, is the rewarding happy life. The happy life involves living in perfect contented harmony with the world, however it is, because how the world is, is a manifestation of God's will. Given the negative thesis, the positive thesis cannot strictly speaking even be said. We can only make sense of this by assuming that Wittgenstein takes this positive thesis to be `illuminating nonsense'.
Is the Yellow Ball Green?
by Jack Lee
It sounds contradictory that the yellow ball is green. Indeed, it is believed that yellow is not green. If so, then the yellow ball shouldn't be green, either. In this paper, however, I want to argue that «the yellow ball is green» is intelligible. To achieve this purpose, I distinguish between (and analyze) two kinds of concepts: «digital concepts», and «analog concepts». By using this pair of concepts, I propose to show that the yellow ball is in a very important sense green. To sum up, there are at least two kinds of concepts: «digital concepts», and «analog concepts». «Color» is among the analog concepts. It is argued that the analog concepts do not conform to the principle of non-contradiction. However, to be handled well, they must be digitalized first. But note that these digitalized concepts are in reality analog. Therefore, in reality, it is not contradictory that the yellow ball is green.
Incommensurability and Interpretation
by Anthony D. Baldino
Although the central target of Donald Davidson's influential essay `On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme' is the scheme/content distinction, Davidson also maintains that his argument undermines the thesis of incommensurability as advocated by Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend. It will be argued here that when Davidson's contentions are carefully disentangled and scrutinized, the elements needed to dismantle the scheme/content distinction are ones that do not subvert incommensurability, and the ones that are held to contravene incommensurability are implausible. Therefore, it is shown that it is possible to be an incommensurabilist without holding on to any objectionable third dogma, and that the disrepute that the thesis of incommensurability has fallen into based on claims of semantic incoherence like those offered by Davidson is undeserved. Many in the philosophy of science heralded the thesis of incommensurability as a radical, intriguing, and powerfully informative conjecture about the history of science. This essay tries to reconnect a large segment of the philosophy of language, influenced to dismiss the thesis based on semantic qualms such as Davidson offers, with that segment of philosophy of science that still considers and utilizes the thesis of incommensurability as a powerful explanatory and elucidative tool.
On the Semantic Indecision of Vague Singular Terms
by Dan López de Sa
According to a popular, plausible, but also controversial view about the nature of vagueness, vagueness is a matter of semantic indecision. I show that, even if «I» is vague and the view of vagueness as semantic indecision is correct, I could be a material composite object all the same.
Truthmakers for Negative Truths
by Yuki Miyoshi
Finding truthmakers for negative truths has been a problem in philosophy for a long time. I will present and discuss the solution to this problem offered by Bertrand Russell, Raphael Demos, D. M. Armstrong, and myself. I will argue that some negative truths do not require truthmakers and that truthmakers for the other negative truths are the entities that these negative truths imply exist. I will also argue that truthmakers for general truths of the form, only X, Y, Z, and etc. are F's, are the sum of each X, Y, Z, and etc.'s being F, and hence that sometimes truthmakers do not necessitate truths.
Reference, Knowledge, and Scepticism about Meaning
by Elisabetta Lalumera
This paper explores the possibility of resisting meaning scepticism -- the thesis that there are many alternative incompatible assignments of reference to each of our terms -- by appealing to the idea that the nature of reference is to maximize knowledge. If the reference relation is a knowledge maximizing-relation, then some candidate referents are privileged among the others -- i.e., those referents we are in a position to know about -- and a positive reason against meaning scepticism is thus individuated. A knowledge-maximizing principle on the nature of reference was proposed by Williamson in a recent paper (Williamson 2004). According to Williamson, such a principle would count as a defeasible reason for thinking that most of our beliefs tend to be true. My paper reverses Williamson's dialectic, and argues that reference is knowledge-maximizing from the premise that most of our beliefs tend to be true. I will therefore defend such premise on different grounds than Williamson's, and precisely by revisiting a Naturalist argument he rejected, centred on the role of true beliefs in successful action. In the conclusion, an opposition to meaning-scepticism comes out as motivated by the knowledge-maximizing nature of reference, and backed by the plausibility of the claim that beliefs tend to be true.