Alabama Philosophical Society

44th Annual Conference

University of Alabama, October 20-21, 2006

Tentative Schedule

Conference sessions will be held in the AIME Building on the campus of the University of Alabama. (Driving directions here.) Sessions are 45 minutes, with a fifteen minute interval between sessions.

Paper titles are linked to abstracts.

Friday, October 20
Room 110; $20 registration fee payable at registration or to Roderick Long during the conference (emeriti and students waived).
Room 110 (E & V)Room 213 (M & V)
Session A
Anton Tupa (Auburn)
Killing, Letting Die, and the Morality of Abortion
J. Michael Jones (Montevallo)
Do Platonism and Orthodox Theism Mix?: Absolute Creation and ‘the Ultimate Act of Boot-Strapping’
Session B
Charles Johnson (Molinari Institute)
The Spring of Virtue: Psychological Egoism and Hutcheson’s Doctrine of the Moral Sense
H. Scott Hestevold (Alabama)
Presentism: Through Thick and Thin
Session C
Kalynne Pudner (Auburn)
“Comment Me Back”: Expectations of Intimacy in the Culture of Blog
Peter Hanks (U. Minnesota, Twin Cities) and Brendan O’Sullivan (Rhodes College)
Conceiving of Pain
Session D
Roderick Long (Auburn)
Toward the Construction of Happiness
Robert Schroer (Arkansas State)
How Can a Single Property Be Both Dispositional and Qualitative in Nature?
Session E
Isaiah O’Rear (U. Georgia)
Adding Desert-Responsiveness to Policy Analysis
Robert Howell (SMU)
The Two-Dimensionalist Reductio
7:30–?Reception at Torin Alter’s house

Saturday, October 21Room 110
Plenary Session 1
2006 Undergraduate Essay Prize Winner
Hugh Thompson
(U. Alabama)
Judicial Activism, Judicial Deference and Rational Basis: The Kelo Case and the Purpose of Judicial Review
Business Meeting
Plenary Session 2
Keynote Address
Derk Pereboom
(U. Vermont/Cornell)
Consciousness and Introspective Inaccuracy
Local Restaurants
Room 110
Plenary Session 3
Presidential Address
Chase Wrenn
(U. Alabama)
Deflationism, Correspondence Truth, and Practical Success
Room 110 (E & V)Room 111 (M & E)
Session F
Robert Newman (Ohio State)
How Hurkean Attitudinal Worth Explains the Intrinsic Value of Rationality
Giovanni Grandi (Auburn)
Color and Visible Figure: Dugald Stewart’s Criticism of Reid
Session G
Dina Garmong (Auburn)
Toward a More Robust Theory of Personal Well-Being
Ted Poston (U. South Alabama)
Cognitive Abilities and the Conceptualist/Nonconceptualist Debate
Session H
Nathan Segars (Heritage Christian U./U. North Alabama)
Virtue Responsibilism and the Prospects of Doxastic Voluntarism
Torin Alter (U. Alabama)
Does Synesthesia Undermine Representationalism?

Abstracts of Papers (alphabetical by Author)

Does Synesthesia Undermine Representationalism?, Saturday, October 21, Session H2, Room 111, 4:45-5:30
Torin Alter (University of Alabama)

Gregg Rosenberg argues that synesthesia illustrates how phenomenal properties can vary independently of representational properties (A Place for Consciousness, OUP 2004). I argue that his reasoning derives from misconceptions about representationalism. He wishes to reject representationalism because he sees it as a threat to his panexperientialist theory. His concern is that on panexperientialism there might be “protoconscious” experiences that don’t represent anything because they aren’t associated with cognitive systems. However, I argue, it’s unclear that, given panexperientialism, association with a cognitive system is required for representation.

Toward a More Robust Theory of Personal Well-Being, Saturday, October 21, Session G1, Room 110, 3:45-4:30
Dina Garmong (Auburn University)

Current prevalent theories of personal well-being tend to suffer from one of two defects. Some define an agent’s well-being as anything the agent wishes it to be. Others consider it to be a matter of possessing a list of qualities, without concern for the agent’s own preferences. Striving to rectify these deficiencies, I outline a theory of personal well-being that both a) can be validated objectively, and b) retains respect for an agent’s individuality.

Color and Visible Figure: Dugald Stewart’s Criticism of Reid, Saturday, October 21, Session F2, Room 111, 2:45-3:30
Giovanni Grandi (Auburn University)

In his Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense (1764), Thomas Reid claimed that there is no sensation appropriated to visible figure. Although color is usually presented along with visible figure, there is no necessary connection between the two arising from the nature of things. The sensation of color only suggests the secondary quality of color, while visible figure is suggested directly by the impression upon the retina. In his reply to Reid, Stewart shows that the variety of color sensations is a necessary means to perceive visible figure. There is a necessary connection based on the nature of things between the variety of colors and visible figure, contrary to what Reid asserted.

Conceiving of Pain, Friday, October 20, Session C2, Room 213, 3:00-3:45
Peter Hanks (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) and Brendan O’Sullivan (Rhodes College)

Much of the intuitive support for Kripke’s modal argument against the mind-body identity theory comes from the apparent conceivability of the mental without the physical, e.g. the apparent conceivability of pain without C-fiber stimulation. Against this, we argue that phenomenal terms such as ‘pain’ are natural kind terms like ‘water’ and ‘aluminum’. If so, then like any natural kind, pain has its microstructure essentially. This means that feeling like pain is not sufficient for being pain, and hence there are possible phenomena that feel like pain that are not pain. We hold that these possibilities explain away the merely apparent conceivability of pain without C-fiber stimulation.

Presentism: Through Thick and Thin, Friday, October 20, Session B2, Room 213, 2:00-2:45
H. Scott Hestevold (University of Alabama)

There are several often-neglected questions for Presentists – those who believe that whatever exists presently exists. First, must “the present” be durationlessly thin? If not, then how thick is it? Second, what is “the present”í? Is it a privileged temporal location that has the property being present? I take no stand on whether Presentism is correct, but I do argue that Presentists should allow that “the present” is extended (not durationlessly thin) and of limited scope. I also argue that Presentists should resist positing irreducible times and thereby should resist identifying “the present” with a privileged temporal particular.

The Two-Dimensionalist Reductio, Friday, October 20, Session E2, Room 213, 5:00-5:45
Robert Howell (Southern Methodist University)

In recent years two-dimensional semantics has become one of the most serious alternatives to Millianism for the proper interpretation of modal discourse. It has origins in the works of a diverse group of philosophers, and it has proven popular as an interpretation of both language and thought. It has probably received most of its attention, however, because its use by David Chalmers in his arguments against materialism. It is this more metaphysical application of two-dimensionalism that is the concern in this paper. For though there is probably something salvageable from two-dimensionalism as a way to explain the content of thought, as a metaphysical tool it should be abandoned. In this paper I aim to establish this point by reduction: if “metaphysical” two-dimensionalism is assumed, it can be shown to be false.

The Spring of Virtue: Psychological Egoism and Hutcheson’s Doctrine of the Moral Sense, Friday, October 20, Session B1, Room 110, 2:00-2:45
Charles Johnson (Molinari Institute)

Any theory of the relationship of mind to world that hopes to live up to the texture of our lived experience must have a place for moral experience; and making room for moral experience means accounting for two phenomena: our motivation to choose good deeds over bad, and our reactions of praise and blame for good or bad deeds from others. I offer a charitable reconstruction of Francis Hutcheson’s critique of psychological egoism, and argument for a moral sense, as an attempt to develop a humble empiricism that provides philosophically serious, and intimately connected, answers to both questions.

Do Platonism and Orthodox Theism Mix?: Absolute Creation and ‘the Ultimate Act of Boot-Strapping’, Friday, October 20, Session A2, Room 213, 1:00-1:45
J. Michael Jones (University of Montevallo)

In their paper ‘Absolute Creation’, Thomas Morris and Christopher Menzel outline a view which offers to coherently synthesize a thoroughgoing platonic metaphysic with the belief that God is the creator of absolutely everything that exists. According to this view, God is the creator of all things whatsoever, including necessarily existing abstract entities such as properties, propositions, and even his own nature. I will consider Morris and Menzel’s position, termed ‘divine activism,’ and follow up on the self creation or ‘divine boot-strapping’ objection. This objection states that the claims of divine activism lead to the conclusion that God is causally responsible for his own existence, an admittedly incoherent position. I will ultimately conclude that divine activism does in fact entail ‘the ultimate act of boot-strapping.’ (AC, 358)

Toward the Construction of Happiness, Friday, October 20, Session D1, Room 110, 4:00-4:45
Roderick Long (Auburn University)

If Aristotelean happiness contains everything worth choosing, it becomes too easily attainable (since only what is available is worth choosing). If instead it contains everything worth having or wanting, it becomes unattainable (since many impossible things are worth having or wanting). A solution is defended.

How Hurkean Attitudinal Worth Explains the Intrinsic Value of Rationality, Saturday, October 21, Session F1, Room 110, 2:45-3:30
Robert Newman (Ohio State University)

Rationality requires, among other things, that one believe p if one believes there is conclusive evidence that p, and that one intend to x if one believes there is conclusive reason to intend to x. Niko Kolodny argues that despite the apparent normative force of such requirements, there is no general reason to be rational. One of his objections is that it is mysterious what the reason could be because we lack a plausible account of the general value of rational compliance. My aim is to explain how Thomas Hurka’s approach to attitudinal worth, which assesses an attitude according whether it is appropriately oriented to the worth of its object, can account for the intrinsic value of rationality and the intrinsic disvalue of irrationality.

Adding Desert-Responsiveness to Policy Analysis, Friday, October 20, Session E1, Room 110, 5:00-5:45
Isaiah O’Rear (University of Georgia)

In practice, most policy analysts are intuitionists in the area of social justice. They posit a few criteria that must be met for a good policy and balance them based using intuitive weighting. The most basic analysis will use only the efficiency criterion. A more sophisticated analysis might also include the criterion of equity. If policy analysts choose to adopt an intuitionist approach, I believe they should include desert responsiveness as a separate criterion. I will argue that desert-responsiveness represents a distinct social value that must be incorporated into policy analysis.

Keynote Address: Consciousness and Introspective Inaccuracy, Saturday, October 21, Plenary Session 2, Room 110, 10:45-12:15
Derk Pereboom (University of Vermont/Cornell University)

A Kantian perspective on the nature of introspective representation, I contend, inspires a defense of a physicalist understanding of phenomenal states in the face of the most prominent arguments against it. Immanuel Kant claims that introspective representations (those of inner sense) are entities caused by the states they represent and are distinct from them, and they mediate the representational relationship between the subject and the introspected psychological states. As a result, the subject may not represent these states as they are in themselves. I will argue that Kantís position yields a significant challenge to Frank Jackson’s knowledge argument, and that it provides a response to those, like Joseph Levine and Robert Adams, who maintain that there is an explanatory gap between the physical and the phenomenal that the physicalist will have difficulty closing.

Cognitive Abilities and the Conceptualist/Nonconceptualist Debate, Saturday, October 21, Session G2, Room 111, 3:45-4:30
Ted Poston (University of South Alabama)

In a recent paper “Are there different kinds of content?” Richard Heck argues for nonconceptualism, the thesis that perceptual content is different in kind than cognitive content. Heck’s argument is interesting and helps to regiment and clarify the central issue between conceptualists and nonconceptualists. I defend conceptualism against Heck’s central argument. Conceptualists can utilize a number of Heck’s points to clarify and argue for their own view. Additionally, I explain how the debate between conceptualists and nonconceptualists has been misled by conceiving of cognitive abilities as involving language-like representation. Once this picture is set aside Heck’s central argument for nonconceptualism collapses and the conceptualist claim has a much more natural and unobjectionable formulation.

“Comment Me Back”: Expectations of Intimacy in the Culture of Blog, Friday, October 20, Session C1, Room 110, 3:00-3:45
Kalynne Pudner (Auburn University)

Electronic communication raises challenges to our understanding of the ethics of interpersonal relationship. This paper examines one area of electronic communication, the practice of journal blogging, and its correlation to one form of interpersonal relationship, intimacy. Analyzing intimacy in terms of knowledge, esteem and assimilation, the paper argues that while journal blogging would seem to enhance and facilitate these relational elements, the practice in fact and in principle undermines them.

How Can a Single Property Be Both Dispositional and Qualitative in Nature?, Friday, October 20, Session D2, Room 213, 4:00-4:45
Robert Schroer (Arkansas State University)

Are all properties fundamentally dispositional in nature? Are they all fundamentally categorical (or “qualitative”) in nature? Is there a mixture (or “dualism”) of both kinds of properties? In this paper, I examine the thesis put forth by C. B. Martin and John Heil that every property is both dispositional and categorical/qualitative in nature. More specifically, I will introduce this thesis, briefly give an argument in favor of it, and then address what I take to be the biggest question facing the thesis: How can a single property be both dispositional and qualitative in nature?

Virtue Responsibilism and the Prospects of Doxastic Voluntarism, Saturday, October 21, Session H1, Room 110, 4:45-5:30
Nathan Segars (Heritage Christian University/University of North Alabama)

In the course of this paper, I will draw from the current work of virtue responsibilism – a branch of virtue epistemology – to suggest two possibilities: (1) that arguments against the influence of the will toward belief fail, and (2) that there are positive reasons to accept the will’s influence toward belief.

Undergraduate Prize Essay: Judicial Activism, Judicial Deference and Rational Basis: The Kelo Case and the Purpose of Judicial Review, Saturday, October 21, Plenary Session 1, Room 110, 9:00-9:45
Hugh Thompson (University of Alabama)

I consider the Supreme Court decision of Kelo v New London, which concerns the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause. I reject the majority opinion and the doctrines of “rational basis” and “judicial deference.” I argue that these lead inexorably to legislative freedom to use eminent domain for any venture which would arguably raise tax revenues, which effectively annuls the importance of the takings clause. After showing that dissent which preserves these doctrines cannot block the conclusion, I then argue for an alternative strategy of judicial review which will not lead to the unpleasant consequences entailed by the majority decision.

Killing, Letting Die, and the Morality of Abortion, Friday, October 20, Session A1, Room 110, 1:00-1:45
Anton Tupa (Auburn University)

David Boonin, in his A Defense of Abortion, argues that abortions by methods which involve killing fetuses are morally permissible, even granting for the sake of argument that the fetuses are moral persons. His primary argument is an argument by analogy to a “trolley case.” I offer two lines of counterargument. First, I argue that Boonin’s analogy between his trolley case and pregnancy does not hold. Second, even if the analogy does hold, I argue that it would be wrong to take the option in his trolley case in which there is killing.

Presidential Address: Deflationism, Correspondence Truth, and Practical Success, Saturday, October 21, Plenary Session 3, Room 110, 1:45-2:30
Chase Wrenn (University of Alabama)

A person succeeds systematically when some class of her actions all stem from a common stock of background beliefs, and they tend to have their desired outcomes. Philip Kitcher has argued that systematic success is a sign of truth in those background beliefs – where truth is understood in terms of causal correspondence and not in deflationary terms. Only causal correspondence truth, on his view, can explain systematically successful action. I argue that not only can deflationists explain systematically successful action, but their explanations are, in various ways superior to the explanations in terms of causal correspondence truth.