Alabama Philosophical Society
Fall 2003 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 final 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 – 1:00

A1 – Island Bay I
Toby Howe (University of West Florida)
“Enduring Episodes and Episodic Changes in Process Philosophy”

This paper argues that if a theory of change is going to be compatible with a process ontology it must be able to demonstrate how continuity is preserved in any relation of change from an initial term to a final term. An argument is offered to show how this may be possible.

A2 – Island Bay II
Jennifer McKitrick (University of Alabama at Birmingham)
“Defending Your Character: A Reply to Harman”
Harman says social psychology experiments show that people have no character traits, or stable dispositions to behave in certain ways in certain circumstances. Even if the scientific evidence is solid, it doesn’t support Harman’s conclusion. Dispositions and circumstances are joint explanations, not competing. At best, the experiments show that people are disposed alike.

Session B – 1:50

B1 – Island Bay I
Jon Cogburn (Louisiana State University) and Mark Silcox (Auburn University)
“Computer Game Aesthetics and the Metaphysics of Emergence”
Daniel Dennett suggests that mental states are emergent properties of the brain. We assess Dennett’s claim in light of some other ways of thinking about the phenomenon of emergence that arise from within computability theory. We argue that, if the mind is emergent upon the brain, this cannot be because the brain works like a computer.

B2 – Island Bay II
Stanley M. Browne (Alabama A&M University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham)
“On Teaching About Race and Gender”
Abstract not provided.

Session C – 2:40

C1 – Island Bay I
Sally Ferguson (University of West Florida)
“Boundaries and the Developmental Systems Approach to Evolution”

The Developmental Systems Theory alternative to the Gene’s-Eye View faces two problems: the boundary problem and the trait problem. In response proponents have introduced the notion of transgenerational stability. The use of this notion, however, forms an explanatory circle that threatens the theory as a whole.

C2 – Island Bay II
Kelly Dean Jolley (Auburn University)
“Beating a Dead Concept ‘Horse’; or, the Notion of Grammatical Understanding in Post-Kerry Responses to Frege”

J. J. Valberg proposes a response to Frege’s Concept ‘Horse’ Paradox, a response that builds on Elizabeth Anscombe’s “The Intentionality of Sensation.” I examine Valberg’s response and his use of Anscombe. I conclude that the response fails – and that it fails for reasons that Anscombe helps us to see.

C3 – Suite (Room #221)
Michael F. Patton, Jr. (University of Montevallo)
“(Almost) All Medical Research (and Practice) is Immoral”
Modern medical research and practices wastes money and effort. Many diseases we either invent or bring upon ourselves and in the pursuit of longer life. If we revised our values, we would happier and the money saved would suffice to alleviate other suffering.

Session D – 3:30

D1 – Island Bay I
Robert W. Beard (Florida State University)
“Truth and Propositions”
The importance of the operator ‘it is true that…’ has generally been overlooked in discussions of theories of truth. In this paper, I shall pursue that, and, coupled with the notion that a proposition is what a statement says, attempt to formulate a plausible theory.

D2 – Island Bay II
Roderick T. Long (Auburn University)
“Free Will and Other Minds”
Incompatibilism seems to commit us to skepticism as to whether freedom exists, since we do not know how to test for causal indeterminism. Solution: I must attribute incompatibilist freedom to myself on pain of deliberative incoherence, and I thereby commit myself to public criteria for attributing it to others.

D3 – Suite (Room #221)
Dina Garmong (Auburn University)
“Comparative vs. Character-Based Models of Pride and Their Consequences”
In this paper I indicate that the conception of pride as a feeling aroused by comparing oneself to others and finding oneself to be better than they are in some respect is flawed and leads to bad social consequences. An Aristotelian character-based model of pride seems more fruitful.

Session E – 4:20

E1 – Island Bay I
James R. Beebe (Louisiana State University)
“Reliabilism and Deflationism”
In this article I explore the question of whether deflationary theories of truth are compatible with reliabilist epistemology. I show how deflationism passes Alvin Goldman’s test for compatibility by explaining how deflationary theories maintain that what makes sentences or propositions true are real-world truth makers. I also explain how the fact that deflationary theories of truth allow for the recognition-transcendence of truth makes them clearly compatible with reliabilism. Finally, I show how deflationism’s claim that truth never performs any explanatory work does not conflict with reliabilism’s attempt to explain epistemic justification in terms of the truth-conduciveness of belief-forming processes.

E2 – Island Bay II
Jon Mahoney (Auburn University)
“Two Conceptions of Rules for Moral Perception”

Barbara Herman argues that there is room in a Kantian conception of moral perception for rules of moral salience. I argue that Herman’s account fails to explain how moral properties constrain moral perception.

E3 – Suite (Room #221)
Mark Scala (University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa)
“How to Resist Four-Dimensionalism”

Whether or not four-dimensionalism is true depends on the nature of the fundamental mereological relation. In short, I will argue that if the fundamental mereological relation is proper parthood-at-a-time then four-dimensionalism is false. Recognizing this does two things for us: (i) It makes room for three-dimensionalists to say at least one of the things they have tended to say all along: persisting things do not have (proper) temporal parts; and (ii) it re-focuses the debate over persistence on a narrower and perhaps more tractable question –“What is the nature of the fundamental mereological relation?”

Session F – 5:10

F1 – Island Bay I
Mylan Engel, Jr. (Northern Illinois University)
“The Equivocal or Question-Begging Nature of Evil Demon Arguments for External World Skepticism”
Skeptics often motivate external world skepticism [EWS] by appealing to skeptical hypotheses, like the deceiving demon hypothesis, which if true, would entail that none of our perceptual beliefs are true. The skeptic then argues that the possibility of demon-induced deception precludes knowledge of the external world. I explain where these skeptical arguments go wrong, while also explaining why they initially have such strong intuitive appeal. I show that such arguments either equivocate with respect to “possibility” or beg the question against the non-skeptic and, either way, provide no grounds of EWS. I conclude that the possibility of demon-induced deception, when properly understood, poses no threat to our knowledge of the external world.

F2 – Island Bay II
Dennis Sansom (Samford University)
“The Ethical Dilemma in Stem Cell Research”
The ethical dilemma is between beneficence and respect of human dignity. The more morally compelling virtue is the respect for dignity. If it can be shown that and when the stem cell/embryo is a human, then the respect of its dignity is more binding that what possible benefits may come from research on it.

F3 – Suite (Room #221)
Jason M. Glenn (Louisiana State University)
“Duchamp’s Readymades: how art?”
Herein I am making an attempt to understand the aesthetic motivations (both apparent and obscure) of Marcel Duchamp in the ‘creation’ of his ready-mades, as well as the traditions he was attempting to undermine through the employment of such works. Two questions are raised: 1) Artistically, what is the importance of Duchamp’s readymades and 2) what were his justifications for ‘creating’ them in the first place?

9:00 p.m. to midnight – Reception and Cash Bar. Island Bay II.


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

Session G – 9:20

G1 – Island Bay I
Andrea D. Conque (Louisiana State University)
Sous Rature: Inscribing Nothing Into the Heart of Being”

Herein, I will delineate the differences between the Derridian reading of Being and Heidegger’s intent. Through a discussion of the Greek notion of truth and how it refers to both truth and untruth simultaneously, the Derridian reading of this graphic structure, and Heiddegger’s own work, I hope to clarify this particular structure of ‘double meaning’ in an attempt to argue that both descriptions seem equally valid.

G2 – Island Bay II
Chase B. Wrenn (University of Alabama)
“Why There are no Epistemic Duties”
An epistemic duty would be a duty to adopt some doxastic attitude toward a proposition, grounded in purely evidential or epistemic considerations. I argue there is no such thing. Putative epistemic duties are really moral duties to do cognitive things.

G3 – Suite (Room #221)
Charles W. Johnson (Molinari Institute)
“Sentences that Can’t Be Said, or: How to Semanticize with a Hammer”
If philosophy aims to show the limits to the expression of thought, then the Liar and other self-referential paradoxes inhabit a notoriously wild and lawless frontier. It seems natural to bring law to the West by formulating the right syntactical rules; but careful examination of other paradoxes beyond the Liar demonstrate the limitations of the syntactical method and the benefits of a dialectical method of elucidation.

Session H – 10:10

H1 – Island Bay I
Torin Alter (University of Alabama)
“On the Conditional Analysis of Phenomenal Concepts”
David Braddon-Mitchell and John Hawthorne have independently developed a novel way to answer the zombie argument against physicalism. They use what Braddon-Mitchell calls a conditional analysis of ‘quale’ to explain where the zombie argument goes awry. But, I argue, their explanation is implausible and their argument for the analysis fails.

H2 – Island Bay II
David B. Martens (Auburn University)
“Confidence in Unwarranted Knowledge”

Epistemic minimalism is the thesis that mere true belief is sufficient for propositional knowledge. I weigh minimalism against William Lycan’s objection that it is incompatible with plausible principles about relations between knowledge, belief, and confidence. I argue that Lycan’s objection fails for equivocation.

H3 – Suite (Room #221)
Charles M. Hermes (Florida State University)
“Cutting out Trumping Preemption”
Recently trumping preemption has forced modifications to accounts of causation. Nevertheless, while trumping depends upon laws of nature, it is inconsistent with accounts of laws. Therefore, there are no cases of trumping. After showing why trumping cannot exist, I explain why so many have been lulled into its acceptance.

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

2003 Undergraduate Essay Competition Winner:

Julie Tutwiler (Auburn University)
“Normative Entities and Obligations”

followed by

2003 APS Presidential Address:
Kevin Meeker (University of South Alabama)
“Back to the Future: Contemporary Naturalism and Humean Naturalism”

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).