Alabama Philosophical Society
Fall 2000 Conference Schedule

Hilton Beachfront Garden Inn
23092 Perdido Beach Boulevard
Orange Beach AL


11:00 a.m. - Registration. Lobby.

(Fee is $10, payable at registration, or to Roderick Long at any time during the conference)

12:00 p.m. - Session A

Jon Mahoney (Auburn University). “Moral Argument and Justification in Habermas’s ‘Discourse Ethics.’” Suite.
Habermas attempts to combine a Kantian conception of obligation with a proceduralist conception of justification. This paper explains why Habermas’s conception of the role of moral argument in justifying moral norms is ambiguous and then argues that this ambiguity threatens to undermine Habermas’s allegiance to Kant.

Kelly Trogdon (University of Florida). “Psycho-physical Overdetermination.” Island Bay II.
In this paper I propose a simple solution to the problem of interaction for dualism: psycho-physical causal overdetermination. I argue that, given certain plausible assumptions, psycho-physical overdetermination is a legitimate position.

1:00 p.m. - Session B

Robert W. Beard (Florida State University). “Recognition and the Slave Boy in Meno.” Suite.
This is a re-examination of the Slave Boy example in Plato’s Meno. It is argued that Socrates is not covertly supplying answers to his questions, and that the heuristics he follows is legitimate. The epistemological underpinning is another matter, one that has not been resolved to the present time.

Kevin Meeker (University of South Alabama). “Supervenience, Materialism, and Conceivability: Critiquing the Context of Chalmers’ Dualistic Philosophy of Mind.” Island Bay II.
David Chalmers has argued that consciousness, unlike just about everything else in the universe, does not logically supervene on microphysical facts. I contend that Chalmers’ arguments for the claim that just about everything else in the universe logically supervenes on microphysical facts fail. So Chalmers has not shown that consciousness is unique.

2:00 p.m. - Session C

Lawrence Howe (University of West Florida). “Thoughts on an Ecologically Based Environmental Ethic.” Suite.
This paper comments on Rolston’s proposal of systemic value for an ecocentric environmental ethic. Part I discusses naturalistic reasons for an ecologically based ethic. Part II argues that ecosystems carry potential value, and by virtue of that potentiality, ought to be regarded as valuable in themselves independently of their utility for human interests.

Kathryn Kanuck (University of Florida). “Gendler on Why We Can’t Trust Thought Experiments in Personal Identity.” Island Bay II.
Gendler argues that our ordinary practice of identifying what falls under the concept of personal identity does not enable us to make reliable judgments about personal identity when considering hypothetical cases. In this paper, I show how Gendler’s appeal to one of Williams’ thought experiments is unsuccessful.

3:00 p.m. - Session D

Stanley M. Browne (University of Alabama at Birmingham). “Race, Gender, and Moral Responsibility.” Suite.
In this paper I argue (1) that racialized thinking about and racialized justifications for non-punitive policies for persons of color are philosophically indefensible and problematic; (2) that non-racialized (metaphysical) justifications for non-punitive policies for pregnant addicts are philosophically defensible; and (3) that these non-racialized justifications are not incompatible with holding these women responsible for their pre-addictive and post-addictive behaviors.

David W. Meeler (Auburn University). “Privacy is a Distinct Right.” Island Bay II.
Judith Thomson suggests that privacy is a cluster of rights each concerning some other more basic right. Since privacy rights always overlap with other rights, privacy is not an independent right. I suggest that this view is mistaken because it misplaces the burden of honoring our rights.

4:00 p.m. - Session E

Yolanda Estes (Mississippi State University). “Fichte’s Non-Dogmatic Theology.” Suite.
In this essay, I discuss Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s rejection of agnosticism, theism, and dogmatic theology. I maintain that Fichte’s argument against dogmatic theology, agnosticism, and theism mirrors his argument against dogmatic philosophy, skepticism, and the thing-in-itself. Consequently, Fichte’s philosophy of religion employs the general principles of his transcendental idealism.

Torin Alter (University of Alabama). “Know-how, Ability, and the Ability Hypothesis.” Island Bay II.
David Lewis and Laurence Nemirow claim that knowing what an experience is like is a kind of know-how, which they identify with the abilities to remember, imagine, and recognize experiences. I argue that they’re wrong, because know-how doesn’t reduce to ability. This saves the Knowledge Argument from the Lewis-Nemirow attack.

5:00 p.m. - Session F

Sally Ferguson (University of West Florida). “On Applying a Bayesian Analysis to the Reasonings in Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.” Suite.
I argue that the attempt that has been made by Wesley Salmon to subsume the argument from design, as it is discussed in Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, under a model of Bayesian probabilistic reasoning is, from the point of the view of the text, both unnecessary and unjustified.

John Fennel (Auburn University). “Ethics and Wittgenstein.” Island Bay II.
In this paper I consider a common objection to the thesis that Wittgenstein’s later philosophy does not admit the possibility of moral argument. Contrary to the received view as expressed in his “Lectures on Ethics,” I argue that Wittgenstein’s account of how we make judgments allows for moral argument.

6:00 p.m. - Session G

Nicholas P. Power (University of West Florida). “On Losing a Debate to a Creation Scientist.” Suite.
This paper attempts to understand the epistemic and doxastic situation of a committed religious believer. I present a partial defense of the religious fundamentalist’s refusal to believe modern evolutionary theory as presented by the author during a recent debate.

Patrick Linden (University of Florida). “Is Eliminative Materialism Possible?: Can Kitcher’s Theory of Theoretical Change Show That Eliminative Materialism Is Possible?” Island Bay II.
Against the claim that eliminative materialism is conceptually impossible, Alexander Rosenberg appeals to Philip Kitcher’s account of theory change to explain how propositional-attitude psychology, like phlogiston chemistry, can contain true statements despite being a hopelessly wrong theory. I argue that eliminative materialism should be resisted, not because its truth is conceptually impossible, but because we have good reasons for disbelieving it and none for believing it.

9:00 p.m. - Reception and Cash Bar. Island Bay II.


If you are checking out today, please remember to do so by noon.

8:00 a.m. - Session H

Linda Villareal (University of West Florida). “Gender: The Social Identity of Family Roles Determined by Political Representation.” Suite.
Beyond the commitment of marriage and the gendered roles of the family unit, the single political representation of that unit distinguishes private and public and associates them with gender. Single political representation of the household requires that gender continue to be an unequal social identity reflecting unequal family roles.

Roderick T. Long (Auburn University). “Bondage of the Will: Akrasia as a Prisoner’s Dilemma.” Island Bay II.
If I am going to be self-disciplined in the future, then it can’t hurt to indulge now. If I am not going to be self-disciplined in the future, then I might as well indulge now. Hence akrasia seems to be a dominant strategy. But does this make all action impossible?

9:00 a.m. - Session I

Christopher Lubbers (University of Florida). “Three Objections to David Lewis’ Modal Realism and Counterpart Theory.” Suite.
I argue against David Lewis’ modal realism and Counterpart Theory by (i) criticizing Lewis’ argument for the prima facie truth of modal realism, (ii) arguing that Counterpart Theory fails to get right the meanings of modal claims, and (iii) arguing that modal realism makes much of our modal knowledge inexplicable.

Craig Taylor (Louisiana State University). “Moral Cognitivism and Character.” Island Bay II.
I examine Peter Winch’s argument that moral judgments are not universalizable, in that the same judgment might be true for one agent and false for another. Winch claims that this supports only agent-relativity, not non-cognitivism. By appealing to David Wiggins’ discussion of the “marks of truth,” and my own earlier discussions of shortcomings of dispositional characterizations of virtue, I show (pace Winch) that the relativization strategy does involve a concession to non-cognitivism.

10:00 a.m. - Session J

Stuart Rachels (University of Alabama). “Is Normative Ethics Short on Good Arguments?” Suite.
I argue (i) that disputes about intrinsic value can be rationally pursued; and (ii) that there are good moral arguments that lack moral assumptions. I discuss nine types of argument bearing on what has intrinsic value. Also, I defend a traditional argument for pain's intrinsic disvalue, which presupposes nothing moral.

Mark Silcox (Auburn University). “Interpretation and the Heterogeneity of Belief.” Island Bay II.
I criticize the thesis that language users should be interpreted in accordance with a maximizing conception of human rationality. Citing arguments originally made by I. A. Richards in 1934, I demonstrate how plausible reasons for rejecting this claim might also help to undermine Davidson’s famous “omniscient interpreter” argument against global skepticism.

11:00 a.m. - Session K

Jon Cogburn (Louisiana State University). “Paradox Lost: God, Fitch's Proof, and a New Paradox of Knowledge.” Suite.
Frederic Fitch reasoned from the premise that all truths are knowable to the conclusion that all truths are known. I first show that the soundness of Fitch's proof entails both God's existence and the impossibility of God's existence, and then discuss the importance of this for the proof's traditional reception.

Michael F. Patton (University of Montevallo). “Personal Identity, Autonomy and Advance Directives.” Island Bay II.
Living Wills commonly request that a person be removed from life support in certain circumstances. We obey such documents because they express the author’s intent. We could use similar reasoning to euthanize a conscious person, provided that previous behavior made her current requests to live inconsistent with her established character.

12:00 p.m. - Session L: Plenary Session

Undergraduate Essay Competition Winner:

J. Caleb Clanton (University of Alabama at Huntsville).
“The Problematic of The Postmodern Condition: The Separation of Language Games.”

1:15 p.m. - Business Lunch

Mexico Rock Restaurant.
27121 Canal Road (981-6441).

Driving instructions from the hotel: east on Perdido, north on 161, east on Canal.