Alabama Philosophical Society
Fall 2002 Conference Schedule

Hilton Beachfront Garden Inn
23092 Perdido Beach Boulevard
Orange Beach AL

Each session offers several concurrent papers in different meeting rooms (with the exception of the last session). Unlike APA sessions, APS sessions do not have commentators. So to accommodate the larger number of papers in a reasonable amount of time, we have scheduled 40 minute sessions with a 10 minute break between sessions. Presenters should do their best to finish within 20 minutes to allow time for discussion.


12:00 p.m. -- Registration.

(Fee is $15, payable at registration, or to Eric Loomis at any time during the conference. Fee waived for emeriti.)

Session A -- 12:50

A1 -- Island Bay I
Eric Loomis (University of South Alabama)
“Showing in Carnap’s Logical Syntax of Language”

In his Logical Syntax of Language, Carnap claimed that Wittgenstein's Tractatus misconceived the scope of logic and, as a result, the nature of philosophy. I argue that the disagreement rested upon different conceptions of the degree to which philosophy could specify a priori limits upon the possible forms that a language could take. I claim that Carnap misunderstood the relation of Wittgenstein's theory of the proposition to his theory of logic, and that once this relation is clarified Carnap has no non-question-begging basis from which to criticize Wittgenstein.

A2 -- Island Bay II
Jon Mahoney (Auburn University)
“Morality and Public Reason: A Critique of Rawls”
I argue that Rawls’s claim that the idea of public reason can be defended as part of a freestanding conception of political liberalism is implausible. Rather, the idea of public reason presupposes a Kantian conception of practical reason. This renders problematic the version of liberalism that Rawls defends in Political Liberalism.

A3 -- Suite
Brandon Cooke (Auburn University)
“Art-Critical Contradictions”
The following four statements form an aporia: (1) There are instances of irresolvable art critical disagreement. (2) Aesthetic judgments are truth-apt. (3)Aesthetic judgments are in some sense objective. (4) There are no true contradictions. I shall argue that the best resolution comes with the rejection of (4).

Session B -- 1:40

B1 -- Island Bay I
Eric Marcus (Auburn University)
“Why There are No Token States”
The thesis that mental states are physical states enjoys widespread popularity. With the abandonment of type-identity theories, however, this thesis is typically framed in terms of state tokens. I argue that token states are a philosopher’s fiction, and that debates about the identity of mental and physical states thus rest on a mistake.

B2 -- Island Bay II
Gregory L. Reece (The University of Montevallo)
“Ironic Doubts and Ordinary Criteria”
This paper challenges the sense of Richard Rorty’s “ironic doubts” by examining the flawed but helpful criticisms of Rorty brought by D. Z Phillips. The author’s conclusion: Rorty is right to give up belief in the ability of philosophy to arbitrate between competing vocabularies while wrong to reject the ordinary criteria which are already part of our practices.

B3 -- Suite
Steven Yates (Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn)
“Descartes and Methodological Doubt: Was the Cogito Necessary?”

Does Descartes doubt the canons of logic? If so, he cannot validly proceed to the cogito. If not, he can move forward but has a potential foundation for knowledge in this canon without the cogito. The Cartesian foundation was, of course, the cogito. The history of epistemology which has grappled with skeptical anxiety ever since (its current incarnation being postmodernism) has also been unnecessary.

Session C -- 2:30

C1 -- Island Bay I
Gregory Gilson (Auburn University)
“A Constraint on Any Adequate Theory of First Person Belief Statements”

In this talk I attempt to make clear the diametrically opposed approaches to the mind and the mental that animate Cartesian and Wittgensteinian readings of Moore’s paradox. Despite claims to the contrary, I argue that this debate does not shed light on which approach to the mind is superior.

C2 -- Island Bay II
Mark Silcox (Auburn University)
“Semantic Holism and Semantic Atomism”

Jerry Fodor and Ernest Lepore have argued that semantic holism is incompatible with the in-principle possibility of languages that consist of nothing more than a single, meaningful expression. Should the Quinean/Davidsonian holist be worried by this apparently weird possibility? In this paper, I offer some reasons why he should be.

C3 -- Suite
David Martens (Auburn University)
“Strong Substitution”
This paper is an exposition and evaluation of an argument given by Kwasi Wiredu to the conclusion that logical necessity is at least as strong as the necessity of modal logic S4. I show that, while Wiredu’s argument is unsound, other arguments similar to his are both stronger and instructive.

Session D -- 3:20

D1 -- Island Bay I
Dennis Sansom (Samford University)
“Biography and Philosophical Texts: The Sense of Divine Acceptance in Kant and Wittgenstein”
A biographical-social interpretation of the philosophical differences between Kant and Wittgenstein, especially their views on religion, is a helpful interpretation towards understanding them. Kant’s deep trust in the coordination between moral purity and divine Providence is reflected in his methodical orderliness. Wittgenstein’s tortured personal life and longing for ultimate acceptance are reflected in his unsystematic and elliptical method.

D2 -- Island Bay II
James Shelley (Auburn University)
“Tragic Pleasure”
The problem of tragedy is the problem of explaining why tragedy gives us the pleasure it does, given the content it has. I propose an adequate solution to the problem must satisfy four constraints. Then I propose a solution that satisfies those constraints.

D3 -- Suite
Gabriel Cate (Louisiana State University)
“A Commentary on the Current Debate Over Self-Knowledge”
Do we know what we think we know? Externalism suggests that we cannot know our own thoughts by mere introspection; that we do not have privileged access to our own thoughts. Can privileged access be preserved in the face of semantic externalism? This paper explores possible answers to this question.

Session E -- 4:10

E1 -- Island Bay I
J. Caleb Clanton (Vanderbilt University)
“McVirtue, McGood Life, and MacIntyre: Unwrapping Practice as a Cultural Criticism”
In this essay, I try to argue that Alasdair MacIntyre’s notion of practice offers us the context in which the possibility of a fulfilling life can arise. This, I argue, is accomplished insofar as practices both involve individuals in the extension of the tradition in which the practitioner is located and ultimately provide goods that are internal to those practices.

E2 -- Island Bay II
Jon Cogburn and Jason Megill (Louisiana State University)
“Are Turing Machines Platonists? Inferentialism and the Computational Theory of Mind”

We discuss Michael Dummett’s philosophy of mathematics and Robert Brandom’s philosophy of language to discern a novel argument against the Computational Theory of Mind.

E3 -- Suite
Kelly Dean Jolley (Auburn University)
“Leavisian Film Criticism”

I examine Leavis' notion of criticism by considering his contrast between the literary critic and the philosopher. I then discuss Robin Woods’ Leavisian film criticism -- particularly his critical essay on Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo. I argue that Woods' criticism of Rio Bravo is off-target, in part because of his misunderstanding of the role of standards in Leavisian criticism.

Session F -- 5:00

F1 -- Island Bay I
Michael Watkins (Auburn University)
“On What There Is (To Explain)”
The use of Occam’s razor in ontology is question-begging. What needs to be explained cannot be thought of in some ontologically neutral way, and that is what we require if we are going to decide upon what there is by determining how most economically to explain what there is to explain.

F2 -- Island Bay II
Paul Jude Naquin (Louisiana State University)
“Out of the Frying Pan”
Some philosophers have been attempting to explain mysterious phenomena by appealing to other mysterious phenomena. I will illustrate this problem using examples from three fields: ethics (Harry Frankfurt’s theory of autonomy), philosophy of religion (Alvin Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism), and philosophy of mind (Daniel Dennett’s intentional stance).

F3 -- Suite
Joseph Osei (Auburn University)
“The Presumption of Innocence and the Pursuit of Type A1 Terrorists”
This paper discusses the moral and legal implications of the extrajudicial killing of the Mastermind behind Type A1 (extreme) terrorist acts for the Presumption of Innocence Principle [PIP] and defends the thesis that given the atrocities of September 11 and the threat of a worse case-scenario, the extra-judicial killing will be morally permissible. The paper shows how the inconsistency at the intuitive level can be avoided by Thomson-style liberal argument at the critical level.

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


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

Session G -- 8:30

G1 -- Island Bay I
Nathan Segars (Heritage Christian University)
“What’s the Difference between Alston and Wittgenstein?”

In this paper I attempt to show that Alston’s heavily emphasized realism comes under suspicion as he tries to deal with some difficult epistemological problems. Specifically, the lines he draws between his own position and a Wittgensteinian position fail to clearly distinguish Alston as a champion of objective realism.

G2 -- Island Bay II
Eric Kevin Carter (Ohio State University)
“Color Vision and the Argument from After-image Experiences”
Abstract not provided.

G3 -- Suite
Andrea D. Conque (Our Lady of the Lake College)
SILENCE/SILENCES/SNARED: Against “reading machines”
This essay deals with the works of Martin Heidegger as viewed from a feminist perspective with the intention of suggesting alternative, feminist readings of his corpus.

Session H -- 9:20

H1 -- Island Bay I
Nicholas Power (University of West Florida)
“How to be a Reductionist about Romantic Love”
Sociobiological accounts of human behavior have drawn the ire of many commentators, academic and non-academic, expert and non-expert. Most such criticisms fall under the rubric of reductionism. Evolutionary psychology, on the other hand, is taking a respectable place in many academic departments as we speak. This paper will shed light on this differential, whilst raising some doubts about an application –- due to Steven Pinker –- of evolutionary psychology to the emotion called romantic love.

H2 -- Island Bay II
Stanley M. Browne (Alabama A&M University and The University of Alabama at Birmingham)
“Hate Speech and Randall Kennedy’s Argument Regarding the Pitfalls in Fighting ‘Nigger’”

In the literature on hate speech and free speech some scholars argue that it may be necessary at times to regulate certain forms of speech that some people perceive as harmful, because of its detrimental effect on the physical and mental well-being of its target victims. But censorship of free speech is frowned upon by other scholars who argue that restrictions on it in any form would be detrimental to people who suffer from discrimination and bigotry. In this paper I will assume without argument that it is logically possible to find a middle ground between the extremes of censorship on the one hand, and unbridled libertarianism on the other hand. Instead, my task in this paper is more modest, since I focus almost exclusively on Randall Kennedy’s claim that those of us who oppose the use of the word “nigger” are overeager to detect insult and somehow suffer from unjustified deception when we endorse a “politics of respectability”. Briefly, this doctrine counsels African Americans to mind their manners and mouths when making public (and private) pronouncements about people living in the African Diaspora. Generally speaking, I argue that Kennedy’s notorious claim about both the “good uses of nigger” and its so-called “positive appellation” is logically problematic, linguistically ambiguous, and socially pernicious. The word is, as Kennedy’s correctly points out, the “filthiest, dirtiest, nastiest, word in the English language.” Therefore, to paraphrase Hume, we would lose nothing if we were to commit it to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

H3 -- Suite
Kamper Floyd, III (University of Mississippi)
“On ‘The Medieval Roots of Our Ecological Crisis’: A Brief Reply to M. Marangudakis”
Manussos Marangudakis notes that (1) within environmental ethics debate two philosophical positions have assumed contrary stances, the materialist/structuralist position vis-à-vis the idealist/voluntarist position and (2) the roots of our present day ecological crisis are located in medieval thought. In this essay, I explore Marangudakis’ argument, assessing its strength both in view of the contemporary discussion in which it occurs and through my own interpretation of medieval philosophy. Although Marangudakis’ argument has attractive qualities, I suggest that his claim is, in the end, too broad to (1) adequately implicate medieval philosophers and (2) refute the contemporary philosopher he intends to refute.

Session I – 10:10

Undergraduate Essay Competition Runners-Up:

I1 -- Island Bay I
Shairylann Lisonbee (Auburn University)
“When Philosophers See Red ....”

I2 -- Island Bay II
Mark McCreary (Samford University)
“The Constitution and Evolution of Self-Consciousness in The Critique of Pure Reason and The Transcendence of the Ego

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

Undergraduate Essay Competition Winner:

Charles Johnson (Auburn University)
“Are There Worlds Enough and Time?”

followed by

2002 APS Presidential Address:

Roderick T. Long (Auburn University)
“Why Does Justice Have Good Consequences?”

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).