2018 Philosophy Publications and Grants

Basu, Rima. “Can Beliefs Be Wrong?” Philosophical Topics, vol. 46, issue 1, 2018, pp. 1-17.

Abstract: We care what people think of us. The thesis that beliefs wrong, although compelling, can sound ridiculous. The norms that properly govern belief are plausibly epistemic norms such as truth, accuracy, and evidence. Moral and prudential norms seem to play no role in settling the question of whether to believe p, and they are irrelevant to answering the question of what you should believe. This leaves us with the question: can we wrong one another by virtue of what we believe about each other? Can beliefs wrong? In this introduction, I present a brief summary of the articles that make up this special issue. The aim is to direct readers to open avenues for future research by highlighting questions and challenges that are far from being settled. These papers shouldn’t be taken as the last word on the subject. Rather, they mark the beginning of a serious exploration into a set of questions that concern the morality of belief, i.e., doxastic morality.

Hurley, Paul. "Consequentialism and the Standard Story of Action." The Journal of Ethics, vol. 22, issue 1, 2018, pp. 25-44.

Abstract: I challenge the common picture of the "Standard Story" of Action as a neutral account of action within which debates in normative ethics can take place. I unpack three commitments that are implicit in the Standard Story, and demonstrate that these commitments together entail a teleological conception of reasons, upon which all reasons to act are reasons to bring about states of affairs. Such a conception of reasons, in turn, supports a consequentialist framework for the evaluation of action, upon which the normative status of actions is properly determined through appeal to rankings of states of affairs as better and worse. This covert support for consequentialism from the theory of action, I argue, has had a distorting effect on debates in normative ethics. I then present challenges to each of these three commitments, a challenge to the first commitment by T.M. Scanlon, a challenge to the second by recent interpreters of Anscombe, and a new challenge to the third commitment that requires only minimal and prima facie plausible modifications to the Standard Story. The success of any one of the challenges, I demonstrate, is sufficient to block support from the theory of action for the teleological conception of reasons and the consequentialist evaluative framework. I close by demonstrating the pivotal role that such arguments grounded in the theory of action play in the current debate between evaluator-relative consequentialists and their critics.

Hurley, Paul. “Meeting Students Where They Are.” Philosophers in the Classroom, edited by Steven M. Cahn, Alexandra Bradner, and Andrew P. Mills. Hackett Publishing Co., 2018, pp. 34-45.

Abstract: By structuring our classes to engage students where they are we can convey the importance and practical relevance of philosophy in taking them where they need to be. If Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics is understood as offering both a sustained, withering critique of attempts to capture all value in the form of external goods such as money, and a powerful alternative to the dismissive understanding of character found in much social psychology, students see what is at stake for them in its arguments. Students who encounter Adam Smith's arguments in The Theory of Moral Sentiments that markets cannot function efficiently unless most people, most of the time, manifest the virtue of justice in their interactions with each other, often come to question some of their most fundamental assumptions about markets, rational action, and the nature of the relationship between the public and private spheres. When students come to recognize that although the account of reason that they inherit from Locke and the Founders supports an overriding duty to vote, the rational choice theory that they encounter in introductory economics seems to suggest that voting is irrational, they confront deep tensions within their understanding of reason and rationality, and recognize the need to explore them. Philosophy, more than any other discipline, provides students with the skills and tools to reflect on their beliefs and commitments. In some cases they discover fundamental inconsistencies and powerful objections; in others they discover deeper and more powerful grounds for their commitments, grounds that illuminate and extend their understanding, and enhance their ability to advocate for what they believe and defend their convictions against objections. Along the way they develop a bigger, richer picture, and a sensitivity to difference that facilitates effective engagement across differences. Such inquiry is not only intrinsically interesting, but profoundly important and of tremendous practical relevance.

Hurley, Paul. “New Consequentialism and the New Doing-Allowing Distinction.” Consequentialism: New Directions, New Problems, edited by Christian Seidel. Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 176-197.

Abstract: Evaluator-relative consequentialists frequently endorse the traditional doing-allowing distinction. Yet their endorsement of this traditional distinction only serves to clear the way for their argument against a more fundamental doing-allowing distinction, an argument that one never ought to do something when this will allow something worse to happen. Unlike the case against its more traditional counterpart, the case against this deeper doing-allowing distinction can draw for support upon widely held "state of affairs centered" accounts of attitudes, actions, reasons and value, accounts upon which desires are (all) attitudes towards states of affairs, practical reasons are all reasons to promote states of affairs, and to act is to make something happen -- to promote, produce, or bring about some states of affairs. Moreover, to reject this deeper distinction is to accept the centerpiece of consequentialism - that the evaluation of actions is determined through appeal to the evaluation of states of affairs. Only once the nature of the deep doing-allowing distinction, and these grounds for its rejection, come into view, does it also become clear both what an adequate response to such arguments for its rejection will look like, and that many elements of such a response have already been proposed.

Kind, Amy. “Consciousness, Personal Identity, and Immortality.” Routledge Handbook of Consciousness, edited by Rocco Gennaro. Routledge, 2018, pp. 11-23.

Abstract: Several different intersecting questions are in play in philosophical discussions of personal identity. One such question concerns the nature of persons: What makes someone a person? Another question concerns the nature of self-identification: What makes someone the particular person that she is? And yet a third question concerns the nature of a person's existence through time: What makes a person the same person over time? In this chapter we focus primarily on the third question and, in particular, the role that consciousness has played in philosophical attempts to answer it. We begin in Section I with the memory-based view of personal identity offered by John Locke. Though this view faces various objections, we turn in Section 2 to various adjustments that can be made to the view to make it considerably more plausible. In Section 3 we turn away from these psychologically-based approaches to physical alternatives. Finally, in Section 4 we turn to a consideration of how issues related to immortality help shed light on the debate about personal identity.

Kind, Amy. “How’d Imagination Become So Hot?” The Junkyard, May 9, 2018.

Kind, Amy. “How Imagination Gives Rise to Knowledge.” Perceptual Imagination and Perceptual Memory, edited by Fiona Macpherson and Fabian Dorsch. Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 227-246.

Abstract: Though philosophers such as Wittgenstein and Sartre have dismissed imagination as epistemically irrelevant, in this paper I argue that there are numerous cases in which imagining can help to justify our contingent beliefs about the world. My argument proceeds by the consideration of case studies involving two particularly gifted imaginers, Nikola Tesla and Temple Grandin. Importantly, the lessons that we learn from these case studies are applicable to cases involving less gifted imaginers as well. Though not all imaginings will have justificatory power, I show how the sorts of cases in which imagining plays an epistemic role can be easily distinguished from the sorts of cases in which it does not.

Kind, Amy. “Imaginative Presence.” Phenomenal Presence, edited by Fabian Dorsch and Fiona Macpherson. Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 165-180.

Abstract: When looking at an object, we perceive only its facing surface, yet we nonetheless perceptually experience the object as a three-dimensional whole. This gives us what Alva Noë has called the problem of perceptual presence, i.e., the problem of accounting for the features of our perceptual experience that are present as absent. Although he proposes that we can best solve this problem by adopting an enactive view of perception, one according to which perceptual presence is to be explained in terms of the exercise of our sensorimotor capacities, I argue that this is a mistake. Rather, we can best account for presence in absence in terms of the exercise of our imaginative capacities.

Kind, Amy. “The Mind-Body Problem in 20th-Century Philosophy.” Philosophy of Mind in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, edited by Amy Kind. Routledge, 2018, pp. 52-77.

Abstract: This chapter takes a historical look at the progression of philosophical thought about the mind-body problem over the course of the 20th century, a period of time in which considerable attention was addressed to this problem and also in which considerable progress was made. The first three sections trace the development of physicalism about the mind with attention to three influential specifications of the theory: behaviorism, the identity theory, and functionalism. The fourth section explores the qualia-based threat to physicalism that arose in the last quarter of the century.

Kind, Amy, editor. Philosophy of Mind in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. Routledge, 2018.

Abstract: While the philosophical study of mind has always required philosophers to attend to the scientific developments of their day, from the twentieth century onwards it has been especially influenced and informed by psychology, neuroscience, and computer science. Philosophy of Mind in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries provides an outstanding survey of the most prominent themes in twentieth-century and contemporary philosophy of mind. It also looks to the future, offering cautious predictions about developments in the field in the years to come. Essential reading for students and researchers in philosophy of mind and philosophy of psychology, Philosophy of Mind in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries is also a valuable resource for those in related disciplines such as psychology and cognitive science.

Kind, Amy. Review of Blade Runner 2049, directed by Denis Villeneuve. The Philosopher’s Magazine, vol. 80, 2018, pp. 108-110.

Kind, Amy. “Twentieth-Century Philosophy of Mind: Themes, Problems, and Scientific Context.” Philosophy of Mind in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, edited by Amy Kind. Routledge, 2018, pp. 1-20.

Abstract: This introduction aims to provide some important background for the essays in this book by situating 20th-century of mind in a broader context and, in particular, in a scientific context. While the philosophical study of mind has always required philosophers to attend to the scientific developments of their day, philosophy of mind in the 20th century was especially influenced by such work - perhaps more so than at any other point in its history. The influence came largely from three different areas of research: psychology, neuroscience, and computer science. As psychologists came to attend more closely to the connection between mind and behavior, as scientists came to better understand neural function, and as the mid-century work of Alan Turing ushered in the computer revolution, our understanding of a diverse range of issues in philosophy of mind - and indeed, even our very approach to those issues - was deeply affected. In the first three sections of this introduction, I attempt to provide a brief overview of these three different areas of philosophically influential scientific research. Obviously, an introductory piece of this sort cannot provide anything even close to a comprehensive examination of such wide scientific terrain, but my selective discussion should nonetheless help to provide some important context for the essays of this volume. Thus, in the final section of this introduction, I turn to those essays themselves. There my aim will be twofold: first, to sketch the themes discussed in these chapters, and second, to highlight some of the interconnections between them.

External Grant: Kreines, James. “Hegel's Metaphysics of Absolute and Non-Absolute Ideas,” Dahlem Humanities Center, Freie Universität Berlin, Visiting Researcher, Awarded 2018 for Summer 2019.

Abstract: Hegel defends a metaphysics which includes something absolute, which he calls "the absolute idea". But the conclusion of his Wissenschaft der Logik emphasizes other non-absolute ideas, as we call them, especially "the idea of life" and "the idea of cognition". Interpretations of Hegel sometimes emphasize the former, and sometimes the latter. The idea for the conference would be that explicit attention to both, and the relations between them, can advance the interpretive debate about Hegel in fruitful new directions.

Martin, Adrienne. “Introduction.” The Routledge Handbook of Love in Philosophy, edited by Adrienne Martin. Taylor and Francis, 2018, pp. 1-10.

Martin, Adrienne, editor. The Routledge Handbook of Love in Philosophy. Taylor and Francis, 2018.

Abstract: The Routledge Handbook of Love in Philosophy collects 39 original chapters from prominent philosophers on the nature, meaning, value, and predicaments of love, presented in a unique framework that highlights the rich variety of methods and traditions used to engage with these subjects. This volume is structured around important realms of human life and activity, each of which receives its own section: I. Family and Friendship; II. Romance and Sex; III. Politics and Society; IV. Animals, Nature, and the Environment; V. Art, Faith, and Meaning; VI. Rationality and Morality; VII. Traditions: Historical and Contemporary. This last section includes chapters treating love as a subject in both Western and non-Western philosophical traditions. The contributions, all appearing in print here for the first time, are written to be accessible and compelling to non-philosophers and philosophers alike; and the volume as a whole encourages professional philosophers, teachers, students, and lay readers to rethink standard constructions of philosophical canons.

External Grant: Obdrzalek, Suzanne. National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, awarded December 2018, to be used fall 2019, $30,000.

Abstract: In the history of Western philosophy, Plato is often credited with originating dualism, the theory that the soul and body are distinct substances. Nonetheless, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the precise character of Platonic dualism. How, exactly, does Plato conceive of the opposition between the soul and the body? What kind of things does he take the soul and the body to be, and what are the defining attributes of each? How do they interact and potentially constitute a unity, an embodied person? And how does Plato understand the nature of the soul, such that it is capable of disembodied existence and of grasping forms, immaterial essences? Answering this is the central aim of my book, Plato's Philosophy of Mind: Soul, Body and Forms in Plato. I argue that Plato's conceptual framework, the way in which he distinguishes body and soul, differs markedly from contemporary approaches, and enables him to offer distinctive answers to questions that are central to the philosophy of mind.

Schroeder, S. Andrew. “Is Consistency Overrated?” Journal of Medical Ethics, vol. 44, 2018, pp. 199-200.

Abstract: In "The Disvalue of Death in the Global Burden of Disease," Solberg, Norheim, and Barra argue that there is a serious problem with the way disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) are calculated. Morbidity is measured in YLDs in a way quite unlike the way mortality is measured in YLLs. This potentially renders them incommensurable, like apples and oranges, and makes their aggregate -- DALYs -- conceptually unsound. I argue, however, that DALYs are best interpreted as an index (rather than as a measure), and that it can be perfectly reasonable for an index to add apples to oranges. That said, there can be instrumental reasons to prefer that an index/measure stick to commensurable quantities. I conclude by identifying some of these, and note how they have influenced the construction of the DALY.

Schroeder, S. Andrew. “Well-Being, Opportunity, and Selecting for Disability.” Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, vol. 14, no. 1, 2018, pp. 1-27.

Abstract: In this paper I look at the much-discussed case of disabled parents seeking to conceive (or "selecting for") disabled children. I argue that the permissibility of selecting for disability does not depend on the precise impact the disability will have on the child's wellbeing. I then turn to an alternative analysis, which argues that the permissibility of selecting for disability depends on the impact that disability will have on the child's future opportunities. Nearly all bioethicists who have approached the issue in this way have argued that disabilities like deafness unacceptably constrain a child's opportunities. I argue, however, that this conclusion is premature for several reasons. Most importantly, we don't have a good way of comparing opportunity sets. Thus, we can't conclude that deaf children will grow up to have a constrained set of opportunities relative to hearing children. I conclude by suggesting that bioethicists and philosophers of disability need to spend more time thinking carefully about the relationship between disability and opportunity.