Alabama Philosophical Society
48th Annual Conference
September 24-25, 2010
Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front Hotel
12 Via Luna Drive
Pensacola FL 35261
Each of the non-plenary sessions offers three concurrent papers in different meeting rooms.
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 25 minutes to allow time for discussion.
Paper titles are linked to abstracts.
Abstracts of Papers (alphabetical by Author)
Self-Legislation and Other Figurative Dramas, Friday, September 24, Session 7, Coral Reef, 2:40-3:20 p.m.
Reshef Agam-Segal (Auburn U.)
I elucidate a conception of the mind in which figurative ways of expression
are sometimes essential to understanding the mind. My claim is that ideas like self-
deception, self-control and self-legislation are best understood as secondary uses of
language: figures of speech that do not have a literal equivalent, and are therefore
Appreciating the Mystery of Divine Foreknowledge, Friday, September 24, Session 8, Aquamarine 1, 3:30-4:10 p.m.
David Anderson and Joshua Watson (Purdue)
The most prominent attempts to demonstrate the incompatibility between foreknowledge and libertarian freedom presuppose without explicit justification that certain models of foreknowledge are impossible. The failure to explicitly justify this assumption undermines the force of arguments for theological incompatibilism. We argue that our failure to clearly identify a possible way to foreknow future free choices does not provide good reason for denying that it is possible.
A Priority Problem for the Constituent Solution, Saturday, September 25, Session 10, Aquamarine 1, 8:30-9:10 a.m.
Andrew Bailey (Notre Dame)
Jeffrey Brower has recently offered a new solution to the problem of
temporary intrinsics. In this paper, I highlight a problem for that solution; it runs afoul of
a plausible priority principle.
Careful, Physicalists: Mind-Body Supervenience Can Be Too Superduper, Friday, September 24, Session 6, Coral Reef, 1:50-2:30 p.m.
Joseph Baltimore (West Virginia U.)
It has become evident that mind‐body supervenience, as merely
specifying a covariance between mental and physical properties, is consistent with
clearly non-physicalist views of the mental, such as emergentism. Consequently,
there is a push in the physicalist camp for an ontologically more robust
supervenience, a superdupervenience, that ensures the physicalistic acceptability
of properties supervening on physical properties. Jessica Wilson claims that
supervenience is made superduper by Condition on Causal Powers (CCP): Each
individual causal power associated with a supervenient property is numerically
identical with a causal power associated with its base property. Furthermore,
according to Wilson, a wide variety of physicalist positions, both reductive and non-
reductive, can be seen as relying on CCP to ensure the physicalistic acceptability of
properties supervening on physical properties. I argue that imposing CCP on mind-body supervenience fails to ensure the physicalistic acceptability of mental
properties. The problem, I contend, is that while CCP may guard against
supervenient mental properties being insufficiently grounded in their physical bases
it fails to guard against supervenient mental properties being too deeply grounded in
their physical bases.
Lebnizs Criticism of Voluntarism: The Case Against Hobbes, Friday, September 24, Session 3, Aquamarine 1, 10:10-10:50 a.m.
Tully Borland (Ouachita Baptist U.)
Theological voluntarism has traditionally had more support from people in the
pews than from philosophers. Leibniz is no different in this regard; although chiefly
known for his defense of God in light of evil, Leibniz was no supporter of voluntarism.
This paper sketches some of Leibnizs criticisms which warrant more attention than has
been received in the literature on Leibniz. Since one of the people Leibniz thought
merited the title of voluntarist was Thomas Hobbes, the paper first develops the
voluntarist elements of Hobbes ethical theory.
Aristotles Presentist Account of Change and the Charge of Circularity, Friday, September 24, Session 2, Aquamarine 1, 9:20-10:00 a.m.
Kenneth Boyce (Notre Dame)
Various commentators have charged Aristotles discussion of time in Physics
IV 10-14 with being illicitly circular. In this paper, I defend Aristotles account from such
charges. I do so by arguing that those who make them fail to properly understand
Aristotles aims. In particular, I argue that Aristotle is attempting to dissolve certain
puzzles that arise for him because he holds a presentist view of time. I further argue that
once Aristotles aims are properly understood, the charge that his account of time is
illicitly circular is seen to be misplaced.
Subjective Attitudes, Judge-Dependence, and Vagueness, Friday, September 24, Session 8, Aquamarine 2, 3:30-4:10 p.m.
Eric Carter (North Carolina State U.)
Research shows not only that attitude ascriptions akin to find require that a
complement clause contains a judge-dependent term, but also that some vague terms are
unacceptable under these attitude ascriptions, including paradigmatically vague terms
such as tall and rich. The latter result is unexpected, especially given other attempts
to show that the semantic basis for vagueness is judge-dependence. On this view, a
term is vague if that terms extension varies with respect to germane facts about what
humans judge. While I explore how we should resolve this conflict, I conclude that
judge-dependence is an unlikely basis for vagueness.
Testimony as a Transmissive Source of Epistemic Justification, Friday, September 24, Session 5, Aquamarine 2, 1:00-1:40 p.m.
Aaron Champene (Northeast Lakeview College)
By means of two counterexamples, Jennifer Lackey (2008) has argued that the
following thesis is false: For every speaker S and hearer H, H knows/justifiedly believes
that p on the basis of Ss testimony that p only if S knows/justifiedly believes that p. I
argue that even if Lackeys counterexamples are successful, they do not show a more
refined version of the principle to be mistaken. By drawing two distinctions one
between prima facie and ultima facie justification and one between justifiedly believing
and being justified in believing I defend the transmission of testimonial justification
from Lackeys examples.
Fictionalism and Mathematics, Friday, September 24, Session 7, Aquamarine 2, 2:40-3:20 p.m.
Matthew Clemens (U. Connecticut)
In this paper, I outline a new version of mathematical fictionalism as proposed
by Otávio Bueno. I argue that, contra Bueno, this version of fictionalism fails to satisfy
certain plausible desiderata for a theory of mathematics. Specifically, I argue that while
Buenos fictionalist can explain the possibility of mathematical knowledge, and how
reference to mathematical entities is achieved, it is not at all clear that she is able to
explain the application of mathematics to science, provide a uniform semantics for
mathematics and science, or take mathematical discourse literally. Accordingly, the case
for Bueno-style fictionalism is weakened.
The Political Power of Sexual Preference, Saturday, September 25, Session 10, Aquamrine 2, 8:30-9:10 a.m.
Nathaniel Coleman (U. Michigan)
No abstract available.
A Better Basis for Modal Skepticism, Friday, September 24, Session 3, Aquamarine 2, 10:10-10:50 a.m.
Bob Fischer (U. Chicago - Illinois)
Peter van Inwagen is a modal skeptic. I think that modal skepticism is correct,
but I dont think that he puts it on a good foundation. After explaining why not, I sketch a
better basis. I call it abductivism. I then show how abductivism secures one of the
skeptical conclusions that van Inwagen wants: namely, that we arent in a position to
know whether God could create a world sans gratuitous evils.
Saturday, September 25, Session 13 (Plenary), 11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
John Heil (Washington U. St Louis)
No abstract available.
Leibniz & Luther: the Non-Cognitive Aspect of Faith, Friday, September 24, Session 4, Aquamarine 1, 11:00-11:40 a.m.
Allan Hillman (U. South Alabama)
Leibniz was a Lutheran. Yet, upon consideration of certain aspects of his
philosophical theology, one might suspect that he was a Lutheran more in name than in
intellectual practice. Clearly Leibniz was influenced by the Catholic tradition; this is
beyond doubt. However, the extent to which Leibniz was influenced by his own Lutheran
tradition indeed, by Martin Luther himself has yet to be satisfactorily explored. In this
essay, the views of Luther and Leibniz on the non-cognitive component of faith are
considered in some detail. According to Luther, the only non-cognitive aspect of faith
worth favoring is trust (fiducia), since it is trust in Gods promise of mercy that warrants
justification for the sinner. Leibniz, for his part, sides with the Thomistic tradition in
emphasizing love (caritas) as the non-cognitive element of faith par excellence. I argue
that Leibniz falls into a trap forewarned by Luther himself, even if Leibniz had
systematic metaphysical reasons for his disagreement.
Optimization and Maximization: A Leibnizian Response to Rowe, Friday, September 24, Session 5, Aquamarine 1, 1:00-1:40 p.m.
Joshua Horn (U. Kentucky)
One of the most important ideas present in Leibnizs vast philosophical corpus
is that this world is the best of all possible worlds. Anyone that gives this thought even
the most minimal attention in the writings of Leibniz will understand that the notion of
the best of all possible worlds&$#148; is a much more difficult metaphysical issue than Voltaire
would have liked to admit. However, in the recent literature, it has been suggested that
the view that this is the best of all possible worlds is in fact a plea for atheism.
Specifically, William Rowe has argued that there can be no maximally perfect being. For
if there were, then there would be a best world. And since there cannot be a best world
due to an inherent logical contradiction, then there can be no maximally perfect being.
The logical contradiction results in the concept of a best possible world. In short, Rowe
reasons that there can be no best world, because for any world, God could have created
a world better than it. This philosophical doctrine, the no best world thesis has similar
intellectual roots as far back as Aquinas.
It is my goal in this paper to argue that Leibnizs rich metaphysical system provides a
possible solution to the logical paradox that both Aquinas and Rowe suggest. In short,
there is a mistake in understanding Leibnizs condition for the best possible world as one
that can be maximized with particular qualities that would deem it to be the best.
Instead, we should understand Leibnizs concept of the best world as one that is the
optimization of the world that is richest in phenomena and simplest in hypotheses as he
tells us in the Discourse. More specifically, this paper will examine the relationship
between the criteria for the best possible world not only in the Discourse, but also in
Leibnizs Theodicy, in an attempt to provide a satisfactory response from Leibnizs
mature period to the no best world thesis offered by Aquinas and defended by Rowe
Approximate Truth and Self-Inconsistent Theories, Saturday, September 25, Session 12 (Plenary), 10:00-10:50 a.m.
Nick Jones (U. Alabama Huntsville)
No abstract available.
Theistic Metaethics and the Art of Making Moral Judgments, Saturday, September 25, Session 11, Aquamarine 1, 9:20-10:00 a.m.
Matt Jordan (Auburn - Montgomery)
Many philosophers who have discussed the relationship between God and
morality have assumed that, if morality depends upon God, then divine command theory
must be true. In this essay, I suggest that it would be fruitful for theists to focus on divine
attitudes rather than divine commands. An attitude-based theistic metaethics avoids
problems associated with the universalizability of moral judgments and the nature of the
moral life: namely (on divine command theory), the implausible requirement that God
must issue particular commands in all cases of moral conflict and the inexplicability of the practical need for persons to become skilled in moral judgment.
Why Not Non-Naturalism?, Friday, September 24, Session 1, Aquamarine 1, 8:30-9:10
Joseph Long (Florida State U.)
Ethical naturalists and non-naturalists disagree over whether moral properties
are natural or non-natural. But there has been no satisfactory way to demarcate either
natural or non-natural properties and thus no way to say precisely for what each
side of the debate is arguing. Recently, David Copp posited an epistemic
criterion for demarcating natural properties, which, Copp argues, shows that
ethical naturalism is more attractive than ethical non-naturalism. I show that
some versions of ethical supernaturalism imply that moral properties satisfy
Copps criterion and conclude that Copps criterion thus fails to demarcate natural
properties, which undercuts Copps argument for ethical naturalisms attractiveness.
No Matter, No Master: Godwins Humean Anarchism, Friday, September 24, Session 9, Coral Reef, 4:20-5:00 p.m.
Roderick T. Long (Auburn U.)
William Godwin is often regarded as essentially a Berkeleyan in his
metaphysics and a Rousseauvian in his social philosophy. I shall argue that in both
metaphysics and social philosophy the influence on Godwin of David Hume is far more
fundamental than is ordinarily recognised, and ultimately more decisive than that of
Berkeley or Rousseau though the relation is more one of Godwins creative repurposing
of Humes ideas than of his passive receptivity to them.
Epistemic Possibility and Closure of Inquiry, Friday, September 24, Session 1, Aquamarine 2, 8:30-9:10 a.m.
Kraig Martin (Baylor U.)
I reject three accounts of what it means to say that an event or fact is
epistemically possible. Keith DeRose, Michael Huemer, and Dougherty/Rysiew each
argue for a specific account of epistemic possibility. I argue that each of these accounts
is in conflict with the judgment intuitively rendered in some important counterexamples.
Instead of trying to understand epistemic possibility in the manners suggested by these
philosophers, I argue that we should employ the concept of closure of inquiry. I argue,
roughly, that p is no longer epistemically possible for S when S is justified in closing
inquiry concerning p.
Degreed Virtue: A Defense of Virtue Ethics against the
, Friday, September 24, Session 4, Aquamarine 2, 11:00-11:40
Justin Matchulat (Purdue)
This paper addresses the situationalist critique of virtue ethics. I defend a
rarity of virtue response to this critique, but blunt its tip by developing an account of
degrees of virtue. On this account, full virtue will indeed be a statistical rarity, but lesser
degrees of virtue more common. I argue for this degreed conception of virtue both on
historical and systematic grounds: historically, I show that Aristotle and Aquinas thought
of virtue as being the sort of property that admits of degrees; and systematically, I draw
from recent work in metaphysics on dispositions that challenges a simple counterfactual
account of dispositions, and allows for gradable dispositions.
Locke on the Knowledge of Real Existence, Friday, September 24, Session 6, Aquamarine 1, 1:50-2:30 p.m.
William Melanson (U. Nebraska - Omaha)
Lockes view of the knowledge of real existence has been the source of much confusion and debate. This paper places Lockes view of real existence within the larger framework of his view of knowledge and certainty. The paper begins by explicating Lockes claim that all knowledge consists in the perception of agreement and disagreement of ideas. It is shown that given Lockes unique understanding of the nature of perception, propositions, and truth, his claim regarding the nature of knowledge simply provides a way of understanding the commonsense view that knowledge is the holding of a proposition upon recognition of its truth. The paper then examines the specific nature of the agreement of real existence. It is argued that unlike the other sorts of agreement and disagreement, the agreement of real existence has its foundation outside of ones ideas. It is then shown how intuition, demonstration, and sensation allow for the perception of such agreement. Having examined the central structure of Locke’s view, the paper then turns to Lockes defense against the skeptic. It is shown how Locke initially seeks not to refute the skeptic, but simply to dismiss the need to answer the skeptic. Finally, the paper turns to examine Lockes distinction between knowledge and judgment. It is shown that for Locke, knowledge requires only a certainty surpassing the empirical probability associated with judgment. As such, we can have certain knowledge of real existence even without absolute immunity from error.
Must Hypothetical Counterexamples be Possible?, Friday, September 24, Session 7, Aquamarine 1, 2:40-3:20 p.m.
Thomas Metcalf (U. Colorado - Boulder)
Hypothetical counterexamples are a mainstay in philosophical debate, perhaps
the most common tactic in attempting to establish some philosophical position, across a
wide range of subdisciplines. When tailoring these counterexamples, philosophers choose
possible but usually non-actual situations. No one has seriously considered whether these
counterexamples must actually be metaphysically possible situations, however. This
paper argues that there is no theoretical reason to insist that counterexamples be possible,
and speculates about some implications of this conclusion for various debates within
philosophy, briefly that this discovery will be a boon to particularists in normative areas
Essence, Individuation, and Infinite Mode in the Ethics, Friday, September 24, Session 9, Aquamarine 1, 4:20-5:00 p.m.
Adam Murray (U. Toronto)
Spinoza discusses the individuation of finite, extended physical bodies
immediately following IIP13 in his Ethics. As the scholium to IIP13 indicates, Spinozas
main concern in this section is to explain how one mind can be more excellent or real
than another. That Spinoza proceeds in this manner is understandable, given his doctrine
of the parallelism of the attributes. But nowhere does Spinoza offer a complementary
account of the individuation of finite ideas. In the first half of this essay, after presenting
Spinozas theory of the individuation of finite extended bodies, I develop such an
account. I then turn, in the remaining two sections, to the broader question of how the
relationship between Spinozas immediate and mediate infinite modes of thought and
extension ought to be understood, in light of his theory of the individuation of finite
extended and thinking modes.
A Critique of Cartesian Knowability, Friday, September 24, Session 2, Aquamarine 2, 9:20-10:00 a.m.
Troy Nunley (Denver Seminary)
Frederick Fitch has provided a proof which seems to demonstrate that if all
truths are knowable then all truths are known. In response, some defenders of the view
that truth is essentially knowable have sought to avoid this result by restricting the claim
that all truths are known in some principled fashion. Neil Tennant has proposed a
restriction according to which only Cartesian truths are knowable. His opponents, most
notably Timothy Williamson, have alleged that the restriction is too strong and trivializes
antirealism, effectively reducing it to the uninteresting claim that knowable truths can be
known. This article reformulates and defends Williamsons objection. Additionally, it
investigates Tennants most recent formulation of Cartesianhood and his contention
that it avoids these sorts of objections altogether. It will be shown that the new formulation faces the same criticism and apparent trivialization as previous versions.
The Principle of Abstract Concepts, Friday, September 24, Session 2, Coral Reef, 9:20-10:00 a.m.
John Park (Duke U.)
In this paper, I introduce and motivate a new principle called the Principle of
Abstract Concepts (PAC). It states that any proposed psychological concept structure for
any abstract concept AC cannot be based only on non-AC or concrete concept empirical
findings. They must at least in part be based on experimental data for AC. I then
illustrate the importance and non-triviality of PAC by examining four instances, such as
with mathematical and moral concepts, where concept theorists have violated PAC.
Finally, I discuss the impact PAC has on future research in cognitive science.
Phenomenal Intentionality and Thoughts about Logic, Friday, September 24, Session 4, Coral Reef, 11:00-11:40 a.m.
Adam Podlaskowski (Fairmont State U.)
In this conference paper, the increasingly popular thesis that phenomenology is the source of original intentionality is challenged. Specifically, it is argued that a global version of the thesis cannot explain the manner in which thoughts about logic and mathematics acquire determinate content. The case made here raises broader doubts about the manner in which phenomenology might play relate to intentionality.
Nietzsche, Epicurus, and Suffering, Saturday, September 25, Session 11, Coral Reef, 9:20-10:00
Morgan Rempel (U. Southern Mississippi)
One of the more interesting aspects of Nietzsches musings on Epicurus and
Epicureanism is his tendency to associate both with suffering. My paper examines a
number of Nietzsches references to Epicurus and Epicureanism, paying particular
attention to his recurring suggestion that both the foundation of this philosophy and its
special appeal have much to do with the mitigation of suffering. I also examine
Nietzsches unusual suggestion that Epicureanism and Christianity have much in
common. While Nietzsche is sympathetic to Epicurus and appreciates the therapeutic
appeal of Epicureanism, my paper goes on to point out several fundamental ways this
ancient philosophy is markedly un-Nietzschean in its character and goals.
Truth and the World: Why Davidson is Right and Rorty is Wrong, Friday, September 24, Session 3, Coral Reef, 10:00-10:50 a.m.
Dennis Sansom (Samford U.)
Richard Rorty thinks he has the same agenda as Donald Davidson. Hes wrong. Though Rorty contends truth as only metaphor liberates us, he actually undercuts a rich interpretative ability. Davidsons agenda provides ways to explore this ability by elucidating the conditions that reside in the makeup of successful communication and in which truth claims are made about the world. Thus, Davidson and Rorty have different agenda, and Davidsons offers more promise for philosophy to help explain what we seem to know we can communicate truthfully about the world.
Dispositional Properties and the Too Little Actuality Objection: A Response to Birds One-Two Punch, Friday, September 24, Session 8, Coral Reef, 3:30-4:10
Robert Schroer (Arkansas State U.)
Alexander Bird has delivered a one-two punch in favor of Dispositional
Monism (DM), the theory that all properties are dispositional. With his first punch, Bird
develops a reply to the popular regress argument against DM. With his second punch, he
argues that the general concern that dispositional properties have too little reality
should actually be leveled against the opponents of DM. In response, I identify a version
of the regress argument to which no defender of DM can respond. This argument
highlights a feature of categorical properties a feature ignored by Bird that gives them
more reality than dispositional properties.
Persons, Animals, and Persistence Conditions, Friday, September 24, Session 5, Coral Reef, 1:00-1:40 p.m.
Kevin Sharpe (Saint Cloud State U.)
Animalism is the view that human persons, such as you and I, are human
animals biological organisms that belong to the species Homo sapiens. While so much
may seem obvious, some opponents of animalism object that it is inconsistent with any
plausible account of the persistence conditions of persons. The idea, in brief, is that the
persistence conditions of persons differ from those of animals. Since nothing can have
different persistence conditions than itself, it follows that human persons are not animals.
In this paper, I show why this argument fails.
Elimination and Closure, Friday, September 24, Session 6, Aquamarine 2, 1:50-2:30
Joshua Smith (Central Michigan U.)
Jonathan Schaffer (2001) offers what he calls missed clues cases to show
that David Lewiss (1996) relevant alternatives analysis of knowledge fails. Anthony
Brueckner (2003) argues that Schaffers cases show that Lewiss account fails because it
does not require one to have a belief in order to know. Yet, a slight modification to
Schaffers cases shows that Lewiss account of elimination is the culprit. But theres a fix,
which is an important step to better understanding elimination. Surprisingly, once the fix
is in place and the notion of elimination developed a little further, problems crop up for
the idea that knowledge is closed under known entailment.
Hegelian Freedom and the Dichotomy between the Right and the Good, Saturday, September 25, Session 10, Coral Reef, 8:30-9:10 a.m.
J. Alden Stout (Utah Valley U.)
Rawls dichotomy between the Right (deontic obligations) and the Good
(valuable states of affairs) has been influential in political philosophy since the
publication of A Theory of Justice. Drawing on Hegels conception of freedom and
political legitimacy, I argue that Rawls dichotomy between the Right and the Good
need not be considered fundamental to ones political theory. Specifically, Hegels
theory of freedom and political legitimacy provides undercutting objections to implicit
assumptions that Rawls draws upon in drawing the distinction between the Right and
Soft Facts and Ontological Dependence, Friday, September 24, Session 9, Aquamarine 2, 4:20-5:00 p.m.
Patrick Todd (U. California Riverside)
Perhaps the main reply to the argument for the incompatibility of divine
foreknowledge and human freedom is Ockhamism. Ockhamists distinguish between
certain sorts of facts about the past: hard facts and soft facts. According to the
Ockhamist, once we see that Gods past beliefs about our future free decisions are merely
soft facts about the past, no threat remains to freedom. Though a substantial literature
arose in connection with this distinction, it remains notoriously vexed. It is time, I
believe, to revisit these issues. I argue that the attempts to analyze the hard/soft fact
distinction got off on fundamentally the wrong track. The centrally important feature of
soft facts is that they (in some sense) depend on the future. I argue that the literature on
the distinction has failed to capture the sense of dependence at stake, and gesture towards
what an adequate account will really look like.
2010 Undergraduate Prize Essay:
Luck and Intuition, Saturday, September 25, Session 11, Coral Reef, 9:20-10:00 a.m.
Alex Whalen (U. South Alabama)
Lucky events surround our everyday lives, but only a certain variety of luck,
called epistemic luck, interferes with knowledge. Because epistemic luck is parasitic on
the notion of luck simpliciter, we need a principled account of luck. In this essay, I will
discuss two promising theories of luck simpliciter: one from E. J. Coffman, and one from
Duncan Pritchard. I will argue that neither account is helpful beyond what we already
intuitively believe about an events luckiness. I will then use this result to show how
many of our ordinary beliefs could be classified as epistemically lucky.
A Critique of Scanlons Non-Rejectability Requirement, Friday, September 25, Session 1, Coral Reef, 8:30-9:10 a.m.
Enrico Zoffoli (U. Arizona)
The thesis I defend in this paper is simple: I argue that a moral principle is
valid only if it is reasonable to accept it. Now despite its intuitive plausibility, some
philosophers resist this view. In particular, Thomas Scanlon claims that moral principles
need not be positively accepted. Rather, in order for a moral principle to be valid, it is
sufficient that, negatively, it not be reasonable to reject that principle. In this paper I
argue that this is an error. In part (1) I lay the basis for my argument by introducing both
the distinction between positive and negative conceptions and two possible
interpretations of Scanlons negative conception. In part (2) I argue that the first
interpretation, which I call the no reasonable objection thesis, presupposes a morally
problematic separation between reasons for acceptance and reasons for rejection. In parts
(3) and (4) I try to show that the second interpretation, which I call the inconclusiveness
thesis, is open to the charge of relying on an ad ignorantiam fallacy. Part (5) concludes.