Alabama Philosophical Society
Fall 2001 Conference Schedule

Hilton Beachfront Garden Inn
23092 Perdido Beach Boulevard
Orange Beach AL

Each session offers several concurrent papers in different meeting rooms.


12:00 p.m. - Registration.

(Fee is $15, payable at registration, or to Kevin Meeker at any time during the conference)

1:00 p.m. - Session A

Jon Mahoney (Auburn University).
“Cosmopolitanism as a Moral Imperative.”
Island Bay I.

I argue that familiar objections to cosmopolitanism fail. Moreover, if there are reasonable grounds for endorsing universal norms such as human rights, then there are no reasonable grounds for rejecting a cosmopolitan moral point of view.

Harold Kincaid (University of Alabama at Birmingham).
“The Empirical Nature of Methodology: Bayesians, Error Statisticians, and Statistical Inference.”
Island Bay II.

There is a picture of scientific inference that takes it to rest on inference rules that are universal, formal, and a priori. While many would take this view to have fallen with the demise of positivism, it still has implicit widespread influence, for instance in the standard appeals to inference to the best explanation in debates over scientific realism. This paper illustrates that influence while providing further criticism of that view by looking at the dispute between Bayesian and error statistical approaches to statistical inference in particular and scientific inference in general. I argue that both sides claim more for their approaches than they can deliver and that the failures come because application of these approaches is empirical in ways that advocates do not recognize.

Lawrence Howe (University of West Florida).
“The Status of Temporal Flux.”

Several positions are reviewed regarding the status of temporal flux in theories of time. I argue that the mind-dependent thesis of temporal becoming overcomes several criticisms against the idea of temporal flux, thus suggesting that temporal succession need not be restricted to the ordering relation early to late.

2:00 p.m. – Session B

Gregory D. Gilson (Auburn University).
“Moore’s Paradox and Self-Ascription of Belief.”
Island Bay I.

In this paper I examine and evaluate Andre Gallois’ theory of first-person authority. I argue that Gallois provides an account of Moore’s paradox that is superior to both the standard Cartesian and Wittgensteinian treatments.

Sara Vollmer (University of Alabama at Birmingham).
“How Pictures Represent Differently from Language.”
Island Bay II.

I show how, when pictorial representations are planar and the objects they represent are three-dimensional, although the geometry of the pictures cannot be the same as that of the objects, nevertheless an aspect of the geometry can be. I use this notion as the basis of an account of what it is for a sign to be pictorial.

Jon Cogburn (Louisiana State University).
“Dummett’s Argument for Logical Revision.”

Neil Tennant (1997) and Joseph Salerno (2000) have recently claimed that Michael Dummett’s argument for logical revision is not even prima facie valid. First, I show how Salerno and Tennant fail to appreciate the modal distinctions relevant to the “theory of meaning” debates in which Dummett was a key participant. Then, after correctly providing a rigorous statement of Dummett’s argument, I am able to show four possible anti-Dummettian responses. I conclude that progress in the dialectic Dummett started requires greater clarity about the key modal notions used in his proof.

3:00 p.m. – Session C

Mark Silcox (Auburn University).
“Expressivism and the Frege/Geach Problem: Some Radical Reflections.”
Island Bay I.

Peter Geach has argued that expressivist theories of moral discourse fail to account for the semantic behavior of moral terms in non-assertoric contexts (e.g., inside the antecedent clauses of conditional statements). Here, I examine one strategy for defending expressivism against this criticism that has been adopted by both Alan Gibbard and Simon Blackburn, and propose a subtle variation thereupon.

Stanley M. Browne (Alabama A&M University, University of Alabama at Birmingham).
“Recent Developments in the Philosophical Study of Race.”
Island Bay II.

In this paper I explore some of the most salient philosophical developments in contemporary discussions about the concept of race and its close relative, racism. I argue that even if the concept of race is biologically false, eliminativism about the concept of race does not necessarily follow. I also argue that the distinction between the analytic and the continental study of race is problematic. Finally, I argue that race is a highly contextualized concept, since critical discussions about race will not automatically remove the ignorant beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes that many people (both educated and uneducated) have about the notion of race. But if the current state of affairs in the philosophical community concerning the concept of race is as transient as it appears to be, then the better minds working in the field should find race as worthy of attention as they do, e.g., right and wrong or truth and knowledge; for the pragmatic and intellectual results of this kind of study will have intrinsic value built into the study itself.

Minh Nguyen (Georgia State University).
“The Importance of Self-Knowledge.”

Self-knowledge is a good because self-knowledge enables the agent to evaluate the rationality of his own intentional states and adjust his intentional system and behavioral responses, and because self-knowledge enables the agent to assume the authorship of and the attendant responsibility for his own intentional states and actions.

4:00 p.m. – Session D

Kelly Dean Jolley (Auburn University).
“Logic’s Caretaker.”
Island Bay I.

In this paper, I explain Wittgenstein’s Tractarian claim to have made the Theory of Types vanish (3.333). I do so by showing how the claim hooks up with other central themes in TLP, including the context principle, the distinction between sign and symbol, and the notion of an adequate symbolic language. I finish the paper by arguing that Wittgenstein has not logically transubstantiated the Theory of Types, turning it from expressible into inexpressible, from what can be said into what can only be shown, but that he has (in the ordinary sense of the verb) made the Theory vanish.

C. Kamper Floyd III (University of Mississippi).
“Is Gilbert Harman’s 'Moral Relativism Defended' Compatible with Moral Objectivism?”
Island Bay II.

As with any moral relativism, it would seem senseless to question its compatibility with moral objectivism, for the relativist would not truly be a relativist if his theory fit well with a version of moral objectivism. Though Harman seeks to offer a philosophically adequate version of moral relativism, one that can be coherently defended against the moral objectivist, his theory remains open to such questions, The aim of this essay, then, is threefold. First, I explicate Harman’s argument, presenting his theory in as favorable a light as possible. Second, I address the compatibility of Harman’s relativism with a kind of objectivism. I conclude with a discussion concerning suggested consequences of my argument for Harman’s theory.

Troy D. Fassbender (Louisiana State University).
“A Criticism of Robert Kane’s Indeterministic Account of Freedom.”

Robert Kane’s libertarian philosophy places indeterminacy within agents. Additionally, Kane argues the necessity of folk psychology in attributing freedom to agents. I argue that Kane’s attempt at best serves to make compatibilist accounts of freedom more intuitive, and at worst fails for the same reasons that a compatibilist account would.

5:00 p.m. – Session E

Elizabeth Brake (University of Calgary).
“Henry James and the Ethics of Recognition.”
Island Bay I.

In his recent Henry James and Modern Moral Life (2000), Robert Pippin argues that James’ works of fiction constitute a deliberation on familiar philosophical problems: agency, relativism, normativity. Unlike James’s postmodernist fans, who read the irresolvability of the Jamesian narrative as some sort of statement of the constant deferral of meaning, Pippin contends that for James “understanding is still linked to the possibility of getting something right and to assessing the rightness of actions.” James is, on this view, a kind of Idealist. I will argue that James' works do not motivate the version of Idealism which Pippin claims they do, but that they motivate weaker, though still philosophically interesting, claims. (Or even more interesting, because true.)

Jason L. Megill (Louisiana State University).
“Higher Order Thought Theory: An Argument Against the Dreyfus Critique of Mental Representations (and Their Use in A.I.).”
Island Bay II.

Carruthers – a Higher Order Thought theorist – has recently advanced a detailed cognitive architecture, one apparent consequence of which is the possibility that perceptual data can be conceptualized – then utilized – unaware. This suggests that we may utilize mental representations unaware, a possibility that wreaks havoc with H. Dreyfus’ critique of mental representations and symbolic A.I.

Eric J. Loomis (University of South Alabama).
“Questioning Modal Realism.”

I argue that modal logical semantics cannot provide a fully non-modal account of modality while preserving a possible worlds analysis of (counterfactual) subjunctive conditionals. I attempt to show that philosophical applications of modal logic tend to introduce a subjunctive conditional content that goes beyond what is given by a typical formal model such as standard S5 structure. I conclude that these considerations pose a circularity problem for modal realists who wish to give a possible worlds analysis of subjunctive conditionals.

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 F

Roderick T. Long (Auburn University).
“Free Will and Supervenience: A Heretical View.”
Island Bay I.

If causal determinism is a threat to freedom, then so is physicalism – since physicalism involves our choices being determined by something outside our control, namely, the physical events on which those choices supervene. Hence we must choose between physicalism and libertarian free will. But Newcomb’s Problem shows that we cannot coherently reject libertarian free will. Hence we must reject physicalism.

Chase B. Wrenn (University of Alabama).
“Hypothetical and Categorical Epistemic Normativity.”
Island Bay II.

Despite widespread agreement that epistemic justification is normative, it is not clear whether its normativity is best considered hypothetical or categorical. This paper criticizes an argument for the conclusion that hypothetical normativity anywhere requires categorical normativity in epistemology.

Charles W. Tanksley (Samford University).
“The Influence of the Subject/Object Distinction on the Understanding of Community in Kant and Heidegger.”

This paper shows how Kant’s understanding of the subject/object distinction leads him to a theory of community that allows for communal skepticism and a hollow sense of responsibility, two problems which are remedied when Heidegger’s reunderstanding of the subject/object distinction is applied to the community.

9:00 a.m. – Session G

Rob Loftis (Auburn University).
“Three Problems for the Aesthetic Foundations of Environmental Ethics.”
Island Bay I.

Eugene Hargrove, among others, has claimed that the primary reason we should protect the natural environment is that it has positive aesthetic qualities. I present three reasons why we should not rely on aesthetic foundations to justify the environmentalist program. First, aesthetic considerations provide weak reasons for action at best. Second, aesthetic considerations do not cover the full range of natural entities we want to protect. Third, development can be as aesthetically positive as nature.

Torin Alter and Stuart Rachels (University of Alabama).
“Epistemicism and the Combined-Spectrum Argument.”
Island Bay II.

Epistemicism is the view that vagueness consists in our ignorance of sharp boundaries that really are there. We argue that, contrary to appearances, epistemicism is consistent with Parfit’s combined-spectrum argument, which he offers in support of his theory of personal identity.

David Meeler (Winthrop University).
“Categorizing Perception.”

Hybrid accounts of perception treat the superordinate category of ‘appearance’ as the basic level on a vision taxonomy, while disjunctivists focus on the subordinate ranking ‘sighting or hallucination’. Characterizing the debate in this way, we find the disjunctive approach employs a psychological view of mental concepts that is more plausible.

10:00 a.m. – Session H

Undergraduate Essay Competition Runners-Up:

Tyler Massey (Auburn University).
“Reading and Re-Reading Heidegger: A Guide.”
Island Bay I.

Cole Mitchell (University of Alabama).
“On the Mere Addition Paradox.”
Island Bay II.

11:00 a.m. - Session I: Plenary Session - Island Bay II

Undergraduate Essay Competition Winner:

Justin Matchulat (Auburn University).
“Untangling Dialectical Knots about Faith: Kierkegaard and Newman.”

followed by

2001 APS Presidential Address:

Jennifer L. McKitrick (University of Alabama at Birmingham).
“What Is Causal Relevance?”

1:15 p.m. - Business Lunch

Bayside Grill.
27842 Canal Road (981-4899) at Sportsman’s Marina.

Driving instructions from the hotel: 4 miles east on Perdido (Rt. 182), 2 miles north on Rt. 161, 2 miles east on Canal (Rt. 180).