Alabama Philosophical Society

51st Annual Conference
October 11-12, 2013



Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front Hotel
12 Via Luna Drive
Pensacola FL  35261
866-916-2999


Each of the non-plenary sessions offers three (or in some cases two) 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.



Click here for a PDF version of the schedule.



Tentative Schedule

Friday, October 11
8:00 a.m. +
Registration
$50 registration fee payable at registration or to Eric Carter during the conference (fee waived for undergraduate students).
Coral ReefAquamarine IAquamarine 2
8:30-9:10 a.m.
Session 1
Jason Cruze (Biola U.)
I Too Am a Potential Sinner: Humility and Moral Standing to Blame
Matt Frise (Rochester U.)
Preservationism Destroyed
Aaron Yarmel (LSE)
Mechanistic Explanations in Music Theory: Lessons from Biology and Physical Geography
9:20-10:00 a.m.
Session 2
Travis Rodgers (U. Central Florida)
Is an Aristotelian Plan of Moral Education Still Credible?
Jon Matheson (U. North Florida)
A Defense of the Principle of Inferential Justification
Oisín Deery (U. Montreal) and Joshua Johnston (Auburn U.)
Free Will and Aesthetic Judgment: A Defense of the Agency View
10:10-10:50 a.m.
Session 3
Howard Hewitt (Auburn U.)
Constructivism and Ideal Response Reduction
William Roche (Texas Christian U.)
Evidence of Evidence is Evidence Under Screening Off
Stefan Forrester (Texas Christian U.)
Thomas Reid on Metaphor
11:00-11:40 a.m.
Session 4
David Merli (Franklin & Marshall)
Another Look at Moral Twin Earth: Semantic and Epistemic Constraints on Moral Discourse
Guy Rohrbaugh (Auburn U.)
Inner Achievement
Luke Phillips (Auburn U.)
The New Aesthetic Attitude
11:40 a.m.-1:00 p.m.Break for Lunch (on your own)
1:00-1:40 p.m.
Session 5
Daniel Massey (Spring Hill College)
Irresolvable Moral Disagreement: An Overlooked Option
Matthew Miller (Western Michigan U.)
Safety, Sensitivity, and the Problem of Necessary Truth
Michael Watkins (Auburn U.)
Hume’s Problems
1:50-2:30 p.m.
Session 6
Antonio Capuano (Auburn U.)
Justice as Fairness: Model Theory or Theory of Justice?
Adam Podlaskowski (Fairmont State U.) and Joshua Smith (Central Michigan U.)
On the Limited Value of Mathematical Models for Infinitists
John Coker (U. South Alabama)
Some Heretical Remarks on the Later Philosophy of Wittgenstein
2:40-3:20 p.m.
Session 7
Matthew Jordan (Auburn U. Montgomery)
Evolution and Moral Knowledge
Kevin McCain (U. Alabama Birmingham)
Evidentialism and Forgotten Evidence
Eric Carter (North Carolina State U.)
Explanative Expressions
3:30-4:10 p.m.
Session 8
Mark Anderson (Tarrant County College)
Resultant Luck, History, and Moral Responsibility
William Melanson (U. Nebraska Omaha)
Rethinking the Grounds of Belief
Brandon Carey (U. Rochester)
Epistemic Possibility and Evidence of Counterfactuals
4:20-5:00 p.m.
Session 9
Allan Hillman (U. South Alabama) and Tully Borland (Ouachita Baptist U.)
Philosophy and a Liberal Arts Education
Tom Lockhart (Auburn U.) and Jennifer Lockhart (Auburn U.)
Action Skepticism and Disjunctivism
Aaron Cobb (Auburn U. Montgomery)
Justifying and Epistemic Justification in Experimental Inquiry
Reception 7:00-10:00 p.m.Reception (Alabama Philosophical Society Suite, location TBA)


Saturday, October 12Coral ReefAquamarine 1Aquamarine 2
8:00-8:40 a.m.
Session 10
Nate Zuckerman (Spring Hill College)
Heidegger on Dasein’s Ways of Being
Morgan Rempel (U. Southern Mississippi)
Stoic Philosophy and Alcoholics Anonymous: The Enduring Wisdom of the Serenity Prayer
8:50-9:30 a.m.
Session 11
Nicholas Tebben (Towson U.)
Deontology and Freedom of Belief: A Reply to Steup
Mirja Pérez de Calleja (Florida State U.)
Cross-World Luck at the Time of Decision is a Problem for Compatibilists as Well
Chad Kidd (Auburn U.)
The Height of Argument: On the Devolutionary Narrative of Republic Book VIII
9:40-10:20 a.m.
Session 12
Franklin D. Worrell (Tulane U.)
The Harm of Paraphilic Disorders
Joseph Baltimore (West Virginia U.)
Heil’s Two-Category Ontology and Causation
Richard Fry (Georgetown U.)
Problems in Locke’s Account of Animal Inference
10:30-11:10 a.m.
Session 13
Daniel Pearlberg (Ohio State U.)
Brains Without Parts
Kevin Morris (Tulane U.)
The Exclusion Problem and the Exclusion Principle
Nicholaos Jones (U. Alabama Huntsville)
Reconstructing Fazang’s Identities
11:20 a.m.-12:05 p.m.
Session 14
Andrei Marasoui (U. Virginia Charlottesville)
Visual Experience of Kinds
Roderick T. Long (Auburn U.)
Why Character Traits Are Not Dispositions
2013 Undergraduate Essay Prize Winner
Matthew O’Brien (U. Alabama)
Coherence as a Theory of Truth: A Response to Russell’s Alternate Systems Objection
12:15-1:15 p.m.
Session 15 (Plenary)
Keynote Address
Richard Richards
(U. Alabama)
Are Species Real?
1:30-2:30 p.m.Business Lunch, Location: Flounders


Abstracts of Papers (alphabetical by Author)

Resultant Luck, History, and Moral Responsibility , Friday, October 11, Session 8, Coral Reef, 3:30-4:10 p.m.
Mark Anderson (Tarrant County College – Trinity River Campus)


The current debate over whether moral responsibility is essentially a historical notion focuses on the events that occur before the agent acts. Much of the debate over moral luck concerns events that occur after the agent acts. I argue that these two topics are deeply related. More particularly, I argue that opponents of resultant moral luck must go some considerable way toward the non-historicist position.

Heil’s Two-Category Ontology and Causation , Saturday, October 12, Session 12, Aquamarine 1, 9:40-10:20 a.m.
Joseph Baltimore (West Virginia U.)


In his recent book, The Universe As We Find It, John Heil offers an updated account of his two-category (substance and property) ontology. One of his major goals is to avoid including relations in his basic ontology. While there will still be true claims positing relations (e.g. “x is taller than y” and “x causes y”), Heil attempts to provide nonrelational truthmakers for those relational truths. This paper questions the success of Heil’s project with respect to causation. In closing, an option is made available to Heil’s ontology, so that it might regain, at least to some extent, non-relational causings.

Justice as Fairness: Model Theory or Theory of Justice?, Friday, October 11, Session 6, Coral Reef, 1:50-2:30 p.m.
Antonio Capuano (Auburn U.)


In this paper, I consider Rawls’ theory of justice as it is presented in the first part of A Theory of Justice. My main thesis is that Rawls actually failed to formulate a theory of justice. At best, he provided us with a surrogate of it. I argue that despite the attention political philosophers have paid to it, what has been taken as the core of Rawls’ theory of justice – the derivation of the principles of justice as fairness from the original position – is a distraction from the real issue, that is, what is justice?

Epistemic Possibility and Evidence of Counterfactuals, Friday, October 11, Session 8, Aquamarine 2, 3:30-4:10 p.m.
Brandon Carey (U. Rochester)


Some propositions are ruled out by the information we have – they could have been true had things gone differently, but given our information, they cannot in fact be true. Other propositions are left open by the information we have – they might still be true and are thus epistemically possible. Here, I present counterexamples to standards accounts of epistemic possibility in terms of knowledge, entailment, and probability and then present a new view of epistemic possibility based on evidential support for a might-counterfactual relation that avoids these counterexamples.

Explanative Expressions, Friday, October 11, Session 7, Aquamarine 2, 2:40-3:20 p.m.
Eric Carter (North Carolina State U.)


No abstract available.

Justifying and Epistemic Justification in Experimental Inquiry, Friday, October 11, Session 9, Aquamarine 2, 4:20-5:00 p.m.
Aaron Cobb (Auburn U. Montgomery)


Philosophers of science have identified a number of significant aims, functions, and outcomes of experimentation but they have not devoted sufficient attention to underlying questions concerning epistemic justification. I seek to augment this discussion by articulating a connection between justificatory practices within the sciences and the epistemic status of evidence claims and inferences. I illustrate this connection by discussing a concrete example from the early experimental study of electromagnetism.

Some Heretical Remarks on the Later Philosophy of Wittgenstein, Friday, October 11, Session 6, Aquamarine 2, 1:50-2:30 p.m.
John Coker (U. South Alabama)


My remarks investigate whether the thesis of “meaning as use” and the Wittgensteinian dissolving of the semantics/pragmatics distinction are theories of language, and if so, whether they are successful, or whether they are therapeutic anti-theories, but if so then what is their exact status in relation to philosophy. I set out a heretical proposal for the status of such theories, one that opens up what I will call Heretical Investigations into Ordinary Language-Use.

I Too Am a Potential Sinner: Humility and the Moral Standing to Blame, Friday, October 11, Session 1, Coral Reef, 8:30-9:10 a.m.
Jason Cruze (Biola U.)


Imagine that you are the victim of a crime that seriously harms you. It is natural and normal that you be initially disposed to experience a range of emotions in response to how you were violated. It is understandable to react with the blaming attitudes of anger and resentment towards the wrongdoer. But now imagine, so far as you can, becoming fully aware of the facts that the wrongdoer’s action was the result of a very brutal upbringing. Suppose that as a child the wrongdoer was subjected to severe physical and psychological abuse by both of his alcoholic parents and that the abuse was consistent throughout the wrongdoer’s childhood. Now imagine, again, so far as you can, that you were put in your victimizer’s exact same horrific formative circumstances. Is it morally reasonable to think that you would not have developed as vile as your victimizer? Intuitively, given the brutal circumstances, this seems unreasonable. In this paper I argue that a person lacks the standing to blame if the blamer might have done (or might have very likely done) the same thing (or same type of thing) as the blamed under the conditions (or sufficiently similar conditions) the blamed experienced. In such a case, the suggested humble response is what I call (following Gary Watson) the “I Too am a Potential Sinner” view (ITPS). In what follows, I aim to analyze and advance the ITPS view and offer possible objections and responses. I conclude that the ITPS view makes a simple intuitive point: if you are prepared to take the position of authority and blame Harris (“throw the first stone”) for his wrongdoing, you must also be prepared to claim that you would have been able to exercise your freedom rightly in such brutal circumstances. Thus, the virtue of humility, as I explain it, affects our standing to blame certain wrongdoers. Once this virtue is appropriately formulated, we can see that it undermines our reactive attitudes and that we have compelling intuitive reasons to withhold moral blame.

Free Will and Aesthetic Judgment: A Defense of the Agency View, Friday, October 11, Session 2, Aquamarine 2, 9:20-10:00 a.m.
Oisín Deery (U. Montreal) and Joshua Johnston (Auburn U.)


Paul Russell has recently argued that determinism is irrelevant to aesthetic judgments of originality and creativity. Further, he dismisses the incompatibilist worry that if determinism is true, then there is no originality or genuine creativity in the artistic sphere. In response, we argue that the truth of determinism is relevant to our aesthetic evaluative and appreciative practices. Further, it is an open empirical question whether people have the considered intuition that determinism precludes true originality or creativity in art. We argue that, pace Russell, no compatibilist advance in the moral sphere is made by considering the artistic sphere. Consideration of free will in the artistic sphere supports incompatibilism as much as compatibilism.

Thomas Reid on Metaphor, Friday, October 11, Session 3, Aquamarine 2, 10:10-10:50 a.m.
Stefan Forrester (U. Montevallo)


Beginning with Francis Bacon, the most important British philosophers in the 16th and 17th centuries famously decried metaphors as legitimate linguistic means to communicate serious philosophical truths. Bacon, and then Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, all took metaphors to be too interpretable and ‘loose’ linguistic devices to act as precise conveyances for philosophical communication, and argued that they should be relegated to entertainment purposes only, i.e., metaphors are for poetry, drama, oratory, and the like, but not philosophy. Problematically, all three of these philosophers make fairly extensive uses of metaphors in their major philosophical works: Bacon’s “idols of the mind,” Hobbes’ “Leviathan,” and Locke’s “empty cabinet (tabula rasa),” to name just a few, are all clear examples of philosophical metaphors. So, did Locke and Hobbes not recognize the “Leviathan” and the “empty cabinet” as metaphors, or did they find that they simply could not dispense with metaphors as they were expressing and explaining their philosophical views? I tend towards the view that Hobbes and Locke were hypocritical in their position on metaphors because, as Empiricists, they did not have a sophisticated enough philosophy of language to handle the distinction between literal and figurative meaning. What leads me to this conclusion is the philosophy of Thomas Reid, an 18th century philosopher of “common sense” also rooted in the Empiricist tradition. I contend that Reid was among the first philosophers to grasp the strict distinction between literal and figurative semantic meanings, as well as understand that figurative meanings could be used to clearly express (literal) philosophical ideas, if used carefully.

Preservationism Destroyed, Friday, October 11, Session 1, Aquamarine 1, 8:30-9:10 a.m.
Matt Frise (Rochester U.)


According to preservationism, if S formed a justified belief that P at T1 and retains in memory a belief that P until T1+n, then S’s belief that P is prima facie justified (via memory) at T1+n. Preservationism is a received view in the epistemology of memory literature, endorsed by Robert Audi, Tyler Burge, Alvin Goldman, and many others. In this paper I present three objections to it: (1) preservationism has difficulty correctly accounting for the epistemic significance of memorial experience, (2) preservationism implausibly implies that certain evidence defeats in some but not all relevantly similar cases of forgotten evidence, and (3) preservationism inadequately explains the epistemic significance of a failed attempt to recall a proposition stored in memory.

Problems in Locke’s Account of Animal Inference, Saturday, October 12, Session 12, Aquamarine 2, 9:40-10:20 a.m.
Richard Fry (Georgetown U.)


Locke’s account of non-human animal reasoning claims animals do not have the mental power of comparison in the same way that humans do and that they do not have the power of abstraction at all. I determine the content of these claims and show what Locke’s arguments are for them. I then show that the limitations Locke sets on animal reasoning end up making comparison so different in the two groups as to be entirely different phenomena. The extent of that difference – and the extent to which it is unargued for in Locke – raise problems for the theory.

Constructivism and Ideal Response Reduction, Friday, October 11, Session 3, Coral Reef, 10:10-10:50 a.m.
Howard Hewitt (Auburn U.)


Metanormative constructivsts reject the idea that there are mind-independent facts about reasons for action and claim that facts about an agent’s reasons for action are constituted by facts about the judgments agents would make in optimal epistemic conditions. Given that the optimal conditions and judgments made therein are specified in non-normative terms, constructivism appears to be a familiar form of naturalist reduction – reducing facts about reasons to facts about the responses of idealized agents. Sharon Street denies that the constructivism is a natural reduction of this sort. I examine her argument and show that her attempt to avoid an ideal response reduction assumes the existence of the very mind-independent facts about reasons for action that constructivism denies.

Philosophy and a Liberal Arts Education, Friday, October 11, Session 9, Coral Reef, 4:20-5:00 p.m.
Allan Hillman (U. South Alabama) and Tully Borland (Ouachita Baptist U.)


Before we can answer the question as to what role philosophy should play at some of our traditional liberal arts universities, we first need to determine (a) what a liberal arts education is, and (b) how philosophy ought to be appropriately defined. Only then will we be able to see what the value of philosophy is, or might be, in a liberal arts curriculum more generally. This paper offers a brief answer to these preliminary questions.

Reconstructing Fazang’s Identities, Saturday, October 12, Session 13, Aquamarine 2, 10:30-11:10 a.m.
Nicholaos Jones (U. Alabama Huntsville)


Fazang ranks among the preeminent Buddhists of medieval China. I attempt to provide historically appropriate premises for reconstructing a line of reasoning that might have led Fazang to assert some prima-facie implausible identity claims: that each coin in a collection of ten coins is identical to every other in the collection; that rafters, tiles, planks, and other building parts are identical to each other; that the nose, eyes, ears, hairs, and tail of a lion are identical to each other; that each dharma – or element of our experiential reality – is identical to every other.

Evolution and Moral Knowledge, Friday, October 11, Session 7, Coral Reef, 2:40-3:20 p.m.
Matthew Jordan (Auburn U. Montgomery)


No abstract available.

The Height of Argument: On the Devolutionary Narrative of Republic Book VIII, Saturday, October 12, Session 11, Aquamarine 2, 8:50-9:30 a.m.
Chad Kidd (Auburn U.)


This paper offers a solution to an interpretative puzzle about the dialectical role of the devolutionary narrative (of polities and souls) in Plato’s Republic bk VIII. The first half formulates the puzzle: that, on the most prominent readings of Plato’s purposes in bk VIII, the devolutionary narrative is either, at best, a distraction from the main line of argument or, at worst, a confused argumentative procedure. The second half proposes a different understanding of Plato’s dialectical purposes that clarifies and vindicates his procedure. I argue that the devolutionary narrative is to be read as Plato’s attempt to vindicate the perspective on justice formulated in bks II-IV by way of a comparative genealogical critique or moral world-views (like the method famously employed, much later, by Friedrich Nietzsche). This is a critical procedure that isolates a set of values that each of the moral worldviews to be compared endorses and decides which world-view is to be preferred according to how well it realizes these values. I argue that Plato’s devolutionary narrative is an attempt to isolate a set of meta-values that governs the generation of moral world-views and to show that his own view of justice best satisfies these values.

Action Skepticism and Disjunctivism, Friday, October 11, Session 9, Aquamarine 1, 4:20-5:00 P.M.
Tom Lockhart (Auburn U.) and Jennifer Lockhart (Auburn U.)


Giselle, a highly-trained markswoman, carefully selects a location, waits patiently for her target, makes discriminating last-minute judgments concerning wind speed and direction, takes aim, and fires at Esau. Ordinarily, we would say that Giselle has assassinated Esau, and hold her responsible for his death. There is a certain familiar line of philosophical reflection according to which Giselle’s agency did not extend all the way to the killing of Esau, but ran out when she pulled the trigger. In this paper, we extract an argument of this form from Nagel’s paper ‘Moral Luck.’ Nagel uses the argument to support the claim that it is ultimately a matter of chance whether our inner acts of will find expression in the external world. We call this form of argument – that seeks to limit man’s agency to an inner realm that is directly and infallibly within his control – action skepticism. Our aim is to reject action skepticism.

Why Character Traits Are Not Dispositions, Saturday, October 12, Session 14, Aquamarine 1, 11:20 a.m.-12:05 p.m.
Roderick T. Long (Auburn U.)


While it is customary to think of character traits as dispositions, I argue that this is a mistake. Character traits have dispositional features, but are not exhausted by those features. Were they so exhausted, it would not be possible for dispositionally identical people to differ in their character traits; but I argue that if character traits describe what people are like morally, then such a divergence will be possible on both deterministic and indeterministic accounts of agency. In closing I discuss the implications for Harman’s “attribution error” thesis.

The Visual Experience of Kinds, Saturday, October 12, Session 14, Coral Reef, 11:20 a.m.-12:05 p.m.
Andrei Marasoui (U. Virginia Charlottesville)


Do perceiving subjects represent natural-kind properties in the content of their conscious visual experience when they see and recognize instances of those natural kinds? Following Siegel (2006) and Bayne (2011), I will answer in the affirmative, and support that answer both with a discussion of Siegel’s (2007) method of phenomenal contrast, and of Bayne’s (2011) argument from visual agnosia. But in saying natural-kind properties are represented in the content of visual experience, unlike Siegel (2010), I refrain from drawing a distinction between visual experience and the visual beliefs given rise to by having that experience. Drawing on neuropsychological literature concerning selective semantic impairments (Farah 2004), a class of category-specific deficits in visual object-recognition, I will argue that several traditional attempts to flesh out a distinction between seeing and believing can be subjected to both conceptual and empirical objections.

Irresolvable Moral Disagreement: An Overlooked Option, Friday, October 11, Session 5, Coral Reef, 1:00-1:40 p.m.
Daniel Massey (Spring Hill College)


I argue that the argument from irresolvable moral disagreement, as it is typically presented, employs an overly narrow conception of irresolvability. On this narrow conception, an irresolvable moral disagreement is one in which no party to the disagreement need suffer from a rational failing (e.g., have made an invalid inference). On my conception, an irresolvable moral disagreement can feature parties who suffer from a rational failing of a special sort. This broadened conception, I argue, is perfectly coherent, and it gives the friends of irresolvability fruitful rejoinders to those skeptical of the very possibility of an irresolvable moral disagreement. The aim of this paper then is very restricted. My goals will have been achieved if I have opened up new conceptual space and shown that the occupant of that space has philosophical promise.

A Defense of the Principle of Inferential Justification, Friday, October 11, Session 2, Aquamarine 1, 9:20-10:00 a.m.
Fullname (school)


Michael Huemer has criticized Richard Fumertonís Principle of Inferential Justification on several grounds. Fumerton’s Principle of Inferential Justification claims that a subject S is justified in believing a proposition p on the basis of evidence E only if S is (i) justified in believing E, and (ii) justified in believing that E makes p probable. Huemer claims that this principle has skeptical implications and that Fumerton’s motivation for the principle is guilty of both the fallacy of misconditionalization and of committing a level confusion. In this paper I defend Fumerton’s principle from all of these charges.

Evidentialism and Forgotten Evidence, Friday, October 11, Session 7, Aquamarine 1, 2:40-3:20 p.m.
Kevin McCain (U. Alabama Birmingham)


The “problem of forgotten evidence” is a common objection to Evidentialism. This objection is motivated by cases where someone forms a belief on the basis of supporting evidence, and then later forgets this evidence while retaining the belief. Critics of Evidentialism argue that in some of these cases the person’s belief remains justified. So, these critics claim that one can have a justified belief that is not supported by any evidence. I argue that these critics are mistaken. In the cases where it is plausible that the person’s belief remains justified it is equally plausible that she has supporting evidence.

Rethinking the Grounds of Belief, Friday, October 11, Session 8, Aquamarine 1, 3:30-4:10 p.m.
William Melanson (U. Nebraska Omaha)


Over the past three decades, the principal battle between epistemic internalists and epistemic externalists concerned the nature of the epistemic grounds for belief. This paper outlines a new view of epistemic grounds that falls between the extremes of traditional internalism and traditional externalism. This approach makes sense of key intuitions from both ends of the epistemic internalist-externalist spectrum, provides the most practical basis for assessing likely truth, and makes sense of the normativity of justifiedness in terms of our intuitive understanding of the conditions under which we hold individuals liable for their beliefs.

Another Look at Moral Twin Earth: Semantic and Epistemic Constraints on Moral Discourse, Friday, October 11, Session 4, Coral Reef, 11:00-11:40 a.m.
David Merli (Franklin & Marshall)


The Moral Twin Earth argument purports to show that an important variety of moral realism has a semantic flaw: it cannot account for shared terms and concepts when, intuitively, we think speakers have univocal disagreement. Merli and Viggiano have argued that the necessary MTE intuitions are misleading. In a recent discussion, Michael Rubin takes issue with their “bullet biting” response. Here, I explain the appeal of bullet-biting and take on Rubin’s criticisms. I argue that Rubin is wrong about our semantic intuitions; furthermore, looking carefully at the details of MTE style cases confirms, rather than undermines, the bullet-biting response.

Safety, Sensitivity, and the Problem of Necessary Truths, Friday, October 11, Session 5, Aquamarine 1, 1:00-1:40 p.m.
Matthew Miller (Western Michigan U.)


Modal epistemology faces a serious problem when it comes to the knowledge of necessarily true propositions. Safety theory is typically seen as enjoying an advantage over sensitivity in its ability to handle this problem. In this paper I defend sensitivity. I consider several strategies that the sensitivity theorist could adopt, including modifying the sensitivity condition itself, giving an account of impossible worlds, adding a justification condition to sensitivity theory, and revisiting Nozick’s original formulation of sensitivity which contained a fourth condition called adherence. I will argue that adopting the adherence condition is the best option for sensitivity theory.

The Exclusion Problem and the Exclusion Principle, Saturday, October 12, Session 13, Aquamarine 1, 10:30-11:10 a.m.
Kevin Morris (Tulane U.)


Nonreductive physicalism supposes that the physical domain is causally self-sufficient, but also that mental causes, while distinct from physical causes, are efficacious with respect to the physical domain. But this seems to imply an odd sort of double-counting of causes; and mental causes, it might seem, are thereby “excluded” from the physical causal order. This is the exclusion problem. According to a prominent approach, we should formulate this problem using an “exclusion principle” which says that there cannot be more than one sufficient cause for an effect unless we have a genuine case of overdetermination. I argue that this formulation of the problem is flawed, and that the culprit is the exclusion principle. I propose an alternative formulation that better captures what is at issue in the exclusion problem. This works as a partial defense of the exclusion problem as a serious problem for nonreductive physicalism: the exclusion principle gives the nonreductive physicalist an easy target; remove the easy target, and you remove the easy solutions.

2013 Undergraduate Essay Prize Winner
Coherence as a Theory of Truth: A Response to Russell’s Alternate Systems Objection, Saturday, October 12, Session 14, Aquamarine 2, 11:20 a.m.-12:05 p.m.
Matthew O’Brien (U. Alabama)


This paper looks into coherentism as a viable theory of truth. More specifically, it attempts to answer Russell’s objection against coherentism by using arguments from Blanshard and some of my own. However, Blanshard’s own arguments also bring more issues for a viable coherentist theory of truth, which I address myself in addition with some critique from Walker. I finish by briefly addressing how a coherentist theory of truth can be salvaged and how that may look.

Brains Without Parts, Saturday, October 12, Session 13, Coral Reef, 10:30-11:10 a.m.
Daniel Pearlberg (Ohio State U.)


I provide a new dynamicist objection to the mechanistic approach in cognitive science. According to the Mechanists, either dynamical systems explanations arenít genuinely explanatory, or they are genuinely explanatory – but only in virtue of really being instances of mechanistic explanation. I argue that if the Dynamicists are correct in claiming that the causal contributions of the parts of cognitive mechanisms are not separable, we can still give a non-mechanistic explanation of how cognitive mechanisms work without breaking them down into their component parts. Thus, dynamical systems explanations are genuinely explanatory, even by the Mechanists’ standards, but they are not instances of mechanistic explanations.

Cross-World Luck at the Time of Decision Is a Problem for Compatibilists as Well, Saturday, October 12, Session 11, Aquamarine 1, 8:50-9:30 a.m.
Mirja Pérez de Calleja (Florida State U.)


Alfred Mele (2006) has put forward what he regards as “a serious problem luck poses for libertarians” (p. 6): that the kind of indeterminism libertarians require for free will brings about luck about the fact that one decides and subsequently acts as one does rather than in some other way that one was, at the time, causally able to decide and act. I argue that decisions which are undetermined in the way required by standard libertarians are lucky in the relevant way not because they are undetermined, but because they are made by an agent who is motivationally split and has certain specific dispositions to deliberate and decide in given ways in the circumstance. If a split decision of the relevant kind is performed in a deterministic world, the agent is just as lucky that she decides as she does rather than otherwise, because, given the agent’s dispositions, this contrastive fact cannot be explained by any suitable combination of mental causes of the decision. Hence, the luck problem is a problem for libertarians and compatibilists alike.

The New Aesthetic Attitude, Friday, October 11, Session 4, Aquamarine 2, 11:00-11:40 a.m.
Luke Phillips (Auburn U.)


I offer a new version of the aesthetic attitude theory in which, in order to have an aesthetic experience, one must adopt a spectatorial attitude to the perceptual, emotional, and imaginative qualities of an object. I describe both what I take to be the main features of the aesthetic attitude and how my account compares to similar views which what characterize the aesthetic attitude in terms of distance or disinterestedness. I also defend my view from attacks that have been leveled against its rivals, most famously by George Dickie.

On the Limited Value of Mathematical Models for Infinitists, Friday, October 11, Session 6, Aquamarine 1, 1:50-2:30 p.m.
Adam Podlaskowski (Fairmont State U.) and Joshua Smith (Central Michigan U.)


While infinitism has finally taken a place at the table amongst possible answers to the regress problem for epistemic justification, it still remains controversial. Recent formal work on probabilistic regresses suggests that the infinitist who accepts a probabilistic construal of justification can overcome significant challenges to the position by at tending carefully (with appropriate formal models) to the implications of probabilistic regresses and justification. We argue that care must be taken when invoking such formal models, and that some of the lessons drawn in defense of infinitism appear convincing only if we lose sight of the fact that regress problems arise for agents in a specific sort of epistemic predicament.

Stoic Philosophy and Alcoholics Anonymous: The Enduring Wisdom of the Serenity Prayer, Saturxday, October 12, Session 10, Aquamarine 2, 8:00-8:40 a.m.
Morgan Rempel (U. Southern Mississippi)


One of the things that recommends the comparison of Alcoholics Anonymous and Stoic philosophy is that like A.A., Stoicism offers real-world guidance for the art of living. More precisely, it provides practical guidance for living a flourishing, purposeful life of enduring serenity. As my paper demonstrates, a version of A.A.’s basic goal of “peace, patience, and contentment” was articulated by Stoic philosophers centuries ago. My hope is that the parallel examination of several key aspects of these two traditions will serve as a reminder both of Stoicism’s practical message of personal transformation and empowerment, and the enduring, therapeutic wisdom at the heart of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Serenity Prayer.

Keynote Address
Are Species Real?, Saturday, October 12, Session 15, Coral Reef, 12:15-1:15 p.m.
Richard Richards (U. Alabama)


Surprisingly, Darwin seems to doubt the reality of species in his book On the Origin of Species, calling them “artificial” and “arbitrary.” Modern thinking about species seems to reinforce Darwin’s doubts: there are over twenty species concepts in use, none are adequate, and what counts as a species depends on what seems like the arbitrary choice of species concept. But if species aren’t real then what do we make of claims to have discovered new species, or legislation to preserve endangered species? One way species could be real is by being “natural kinds,” but there are obvious problems here and few biologists accept this solution. Another possibility is to treat species as “individuals,” much like individual organisms. This seems counter-intuitive to many, but are these intuitions decisive?

Evidence of Evidence is Evidence Under Screening-Off, Friday, October 11, Session 3, Aquamarine 1, 10:10-10:50 a.m.
William Roche (Texas Christian U.)


An important question in the current debate on the epistemic significance of peer disagreement is whether evidence of evidence is evidence. Feldman, for one, answers in the affirmative. He holds that evidence of evidence is evidence, and that, in part because of this, peer disagreement can have a significant impact on what one ought to believe. Fitelson, though, argues (persuasively in my view) that, at least on some renderings of the thesis that evidence of evidence is evidence, there are cases where evidence of evidence is not evidence. I introduce a “screening-off” condition and show that under this condition evidence of evidence is evidence.

Is an Aristotelian Plan of Moral Education Still Credible?, Friday, October 11, Session 2, Coral Reef, 9:20-10:00 a.m.
Travis Rodgers (U. Central Florida)


In his Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle writes that we become virtuous by doing virtuous things. My question is whether an Aristotelian program of moral education is still credible. In order to answer this question, I first present a fuller sketch of Aristotle’s program of moral education. Nicomachean Ethics provides both examples and advice that many critical of the program do not countenance. I then consider empirically-motivated challenges to this program. I argue that whatever is plausible from the empirical challenge can be accommodated into the Aristotelian scheme. My answer to the central question of this paper is that the Aristotelian plan is now, and always has been, credible.

Inner Achievement, Friday, October 11, Session 4, Aquamarine 1, 11:00-11:40 a.m.
Guy Rohrbaugh (Auburn U.)


Credit and achievement approaches to knowledge face the obvious objection that some knowledge isn’t hard to come by, and testimonial knowledge seems a particularly difficult case for the achievement theorist. I offer a method of defusing this challenge by distinguishing two sorts of epistemic project and thus two sorts of achievement, one of which is compatible with the sort of ease at issue.

Deontology and Freedom of Belief: A Reply to Steup, Saturday, October 12, Session 11, Coral Reef, 8:50-9:30 a.m.
Nicholas Tebben (Towson U.)


Steup has recently developed a compatibilist account of freedom of belief. He argues that beliefs with “good” causal histories, paradigmatically those that are directly shaped by our evidence, are freely undertaken, whereas those with “bad” causal histories, for example, those reflecting blatant irrationality, are not. I argue that this view entails that, necessarily, all violations of doxastic obligations are unfree. But if all violations are necessarily unfree, there can be no violations at all. But deontic standards exist only if there is at least a possibility that they can be violated.

Hume’s Problem, Friday, October 11, Session 5, Aquamarine 2, 1:00-1:40 p.m.
Michael G. Watkins (Auburn U.)


Hume thought that the expert, what he called the “true judge,” is the final court of appeal for whether something is beautiful. And so where the expert concludes that one object is more beautiful than another, and where the non-expert disagrees, it is the expert’s opinion that matters. The problem for Hume, many have thought, is that he underestimates the extent to which even the experts will disagree. I argue here that disagreement is irrelevant to objectivity. Hume’s problem is not a problem, not even for Hume.

The Harm of Paraphilic Disorders, Saturday, October 12, Session 12, Coral Reef, 9:40-10:20 p.m.
Franklin D. Worrell (Tulane U.)


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) specifies that in order to satisfy the diagnostic criteria for paraphilic disorder, at least one of three types of harms must be caused by a pattern of abnormal sexual desire: the patient must be either functionally impaired or distressed or an unconsenting person must be harmed. Each of these harms fails to justify the inclusion of the paraphilic disorders in DSM-5 on least one of two counts: it violates plausible constraints on the definition of mental disorder or renders the paraphilic disorders superfluous as a diagnostic category.

Mechanistic Explanations in Music Theory: Lessons from Biology and Physical Geography, Friday, October 11, Session 1, Aquamarine 2, 8:30-9:10 a.m.
Aaron Yarmel (London School of Economics)


Does music theory produce only interpretive statements, or does it produce statements that resemble scientific explanations as well? Peter Kivy has argued that music theory produces only interpretations, while Mark DeBellis has responded by offering examples of purported explanations, of musical works, that resemble scientific explanations. In the current discussion, I challenge Zsolt B’atori’s defence of Kivy’s position. While B’atori has argued that Mark DeBellis’ examples do not resemble scientific explanations, I argue that B’atori’s conclusion is motivated by a limited consideration of cases that overlooks mechanistic explanations in biology and physical geology. For although B’atori demonstrates successfully that DeBellis’ examples lack certain properties that many scientific explanations possess, these very same properties are lacked by mechanistic explanations in biology and physical geology as well. The arguments of Kivy and B&#!46;atori fail, ultimately, to prevent us from characterising DeBellis’ examples as mechanistic explanations that resemble the sort found in biology and physical geology.

Heidegger on Dasein’s Ways of Being, Saturday, October 12, Session 10, Aquamarine 1, 8:00-8:40 a.m.
Nate Zuckerman (Spring Hill College)


Heidegger claims we are defined, not by what we are, but by the way we are what we are. But his concept of our ‘way’ of being is ambiguous and has given rise to four distinct readings of what he means. I draw upon recent work on kinds of genus-species relationships in order to disambiguate this concept and explain the unity and dependence-relations among the four extant readings of it. I argue that Heidegger’s main project in the published portion of Being and Time was to explain what it means to be the entity that understands its own possible nonexistence.






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