Alabama Philosophical Society
52nd Annual Conference
October 10-11, 2014
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 5-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.
Abstracts of Papers (alphabetical by Author)
Powers and the Transitivity of Causation, Saturday, October 11, Session 14, Coral Reef, 11:40 a.m.-12:20 p.m.
Joseph Baltimore (West Virginia U.)
In their recent book,
Getting Causes from Powers, Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum advance a detailed account of causation based on a powers
view of properties. With the view that properties just are powers,
Mumford and Anjum clearly have a nice basis for explaining causation. Still, as
Mumford and Anjum show, there are many issues to be settled when drawing out the details of such an account of causation. One
such issue is the
transitivity of causation. In this paper, I critically examine Mumford and Anjums
treatment of the transitivity of causation.
Power ≠ Quality, Saturday, October 11, Session 12, Coral Reef, 10:05-10:45 a.m.
William Bauer (North Carolina State U.)
The question of whether properties are powers, qualities, or both plays an important role in a number of debates in metaphysics and philosophy of
science. This paper discusses and critiques the Identity Thesis, the claim that properties are simultaneously both powerful and qualitative. After
clarifying the Identity Thesis and discussing the causal profile of powers, the paper argues that a token power can retain its identity over a period of
time, while the quality (or qualities) grounding that power change identity over the same time period.
Against the No-Miracle Response to Indispensability Arguments, Friday, October 10, Session 6, Aquamarine 2, 1:30-2:10 p.m.
Kenneth Boyce (U. Missouri Columbia)
Proponents of indispensability arguments claim that the pervasiveness of mathematics in our best scientific theories, and its apparent indispensability for the purposes of adequately formulating those theories, afford us with strong empirical grounds for believing in mathematical entities. One response to these arguments, which I refer to as the no-miracle response, involves maintaining that since mathematical entities (if they exist) are causally inert, we need not postulate their existence in order to explain the empirical success of our best scientific theories. I argue that this response either fails or turns out to be superfluous.
Frege on Propositional Unity, Saturday, October 11, Session 10, Aquamarine II, 8:30-9:10 a.m.
Silver Bronzo (Auburn U.)
This paper identifies a tension in Freges philosophy and offers a diagnosis of its origins. Freges Context Principle can be used to dissolve the problem of propositional unity. However, Freges official response to the problem does not invoke the Context Principle, but the distinction between saturated and unsaturated propositional constituents. I argue that such a response involves assumptions that clash with Freges Context Principle. I suggest, however, that this tension is not generated by deep-seated philosophical commitments, but by Freges occasional attempt to take a dubious shortcut in the justification of his conception of propositional structure.
Kripkensetin on Belief, Friday, October 10, Session 5, Aquamarine I, 12:45-1:25 p.m.
Antonio Capuano (Auburn U.)
In this paper, I compare Kripkes A Puzzle about Belief and his Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. My main claim is that one can read A Puzzle about Belief as formulating a skeptical paradox about belief of a kind analogous to the skeptical paradox on rule following that, on Kripkes reading, Wittgenstein is formulating in his Philosophical Investigations. At the end of the paper, I also suggest a skeptical solution to the challenge Kripke formulated on belief analogous to the skeptical solution Wittgenstein offered to his skeptical paradox.
Causes, Desires, and Reasons Why, Friday, October 10, Session 8, Aquamarine I, 3:05-3:45 p.m.
Eric Carter (North Carolina State U.)
In contemporary semantic studies, there are two common ways to think about linguistic expressions of explanation. One view is that an explanative expression!46;s interpretation in context is an unambiguous causal or resultative content. The alternative view is that an explanatives interpretation in context is lexically ambiguous: there is a cause-specific disambiguated interpretation, but there is also a cause-neutral disambiguated interpretation. The latter content is desire-specific. The motivation for a causal approach is the apparent unity of explanative meaning, while the motivation for an ambiguity approach is the apparent plurality of explanative meanings. Although unity and plurality are often thought to push in different directions, I defend an alternative view that is compatible with both motivations.
Hope in a Hidden God?, Friday, October 10, Session 7, Aquamarine I, 2:20-3:00 p.m.
Aaron Cobb (Auburn U. Montgomery)
Hope is a deep human need and central to human flourishing. For this reason, the death or loss of hope is an event of a significant moral concern. I contend that the experience of divine hiddenness is problematic, in part, because it can trigger a death or loss of hope. The silence of God in circumstances of profound suffering can induce despair, undermining the agents ability to act in ways conducive to her own good. In this paper, I develop this challenge and consider several lines of response available to the Christian theist.
Descartes on the Atheist Geometers Abject Failure, Friday, October 10, Session 96, Aquamarine I, 1:30-2:10 p.m.
Brett Copenger (Tuskegee U.)
Descartes denies that the atheist geometer has knowledge in the case of clear and distinct perception of mathematical truths. In light of this, some might worry that when Descartes contends that the atheist geometer has certainty regarding some items of knowledge, such as the cogito, but not of others, like the Pythagorean theorem, Descartes seems to be wedded to an inconsistency. The project of this paper is to sketch and defend three theses. The first thesis is that Descartes response to the atheist geometer is correct, given his Cartesian framework. The second thesis is that knowledge for Descartes should be understood as a technical term, albeit one that does not indicate the highest epistemic state. The third thesis is that on Descartes technical conception of knowledge, God, strictly speaking, does not know anything.
Thought Experiments As a Tool for Expanding Conceptual Space, Saturday, October 11, Session 11, Aquamarine II, 9:15-9:55 a.m.
Nathan Dahlberg (Georgia State U.)
Philosophers have taken a recent interest in characterizing the nature of thought experiments. Some think that thought experiments are just arguments in disguise. Others have replied that thought experiments cant be just arguments: There are paradigm cases of thought experiments that have proven persuasive where, it seems, an argumentative reconstruction of the thought experiment would have been unconvincing. In this paper, I propose one extra-argumentative feature of thought experiments: Thought experiments make us aware of live metaphysical possibilities. I argue that this feature of thought experiments plays an important role in our philosophical and scientific theorizing.
Materialist and Particularist Theories of Induction, Saturday, October 11, Session 13, Aquamarine II, 10:50-11:30 a.m.
Vincent Di Fate (Spring Hill College)
On the traditional view, citing inductive rules in scientific argument does something analogous to what citing deductive rules does in a deductive proof: it authorizes inferences. In what follows, I critique a position contrary to this traditional view, and propose one of my own, also contrary to the traditional view. The position critiqued is John Nortons Material Theory of Induction, according to which inductive rules do literally nothing. The position I shall put in its place I will call Methodological Particularism.
Minding Marilyns Metaphysical Size Gap, Saturday, October 11, Session 15, Aquamarine II, 12:25-1:05 p.m.
C. R. Dodsworth (Spring Hill College)
Marilyn Adams is wrong about something. I explain why.
Re-examining Max Horkheimers Critique of Deweyan Instrumentalism: A Defense of Pragmatic Immediacy, Saturday, October 11, Session 10, Coral Reef, 8:30-9:10 a.m.
Matthew Fitzsimmons (U. North Alabama)
In The Eclipse of Reason Max Horkheimer argues that classical American pragmatism, and in particular John Dewey, totalizes instrumental reason and leaves behind immediacy. According to Horkheimer, such an approach promotes a form of value relativism that excludes objective reason in favor of thoroughgoing subjectivity that perverts the critical capacity of reason. In response to this charge, I defend Deweys position by arguing that his instrumentalism is not as totalizing as Horkheimer suggests. Rather, immediacy, while not knowledge in the Deweyan sense, is of fundamental importance to his theory of experience. Events and actions often have a dual nature: they are both immediate and transitive; that is, these experiences are valued in themselves while simultaneously being valued as ends-in-view.
Propositions, Representations, and Fineness of Grain, Saturday, October 11, Session 15, Aquamarine I, 12:25-1:05 p.m.
Geof Georgi (West Virginia U.)
Circumstantialism about propositions takes propositions to be sets of truth-supporting circumstances, where these sets are or represent
truth conditions. Recent versions of circumstantialism purport to deliver propositions that are as fine-grained as they are on Russellian
views of propositions as structured information-encoding entities. In this paper, I argue that the circumstantialist approach to fineness of grain is fundamentally misguided, because whereas distinct Russellian propositions can represent the world as being the same way, there cannot be distinct circumstantialist propositions that represent the world the same way. I illustrate the problem by presenting a dilemma for ascriptions of truth to propositions.
On Aesthetics As First Philosophy, Friday, October 10, Session 1, Aquamarine I, 8:30-9:10 A.m.
Joshua M. Hall (Samford U.)
In this presentation, I will argue that the most deserving of that title among the current five primary branches of philosophy is aesthetics. First, from a psychological/sociological perspective, arts attractiveness and/or irksomeness first inspires inquiry and problem-solving. And second, from a logical/conceptual perspective, arts constructed-analyzability (and the benefits thereof) implies an analogous (and analogously beneficial) analyzability of the world. The most important implication of aesthetics being first philosophy is that aesthetics ghettoization (with all of that terms problematic class and racial connotations) must be ended in favor of integration and reconstruction.
Duns Scotus on the Nature of Justice, Friday, October 10, Session 2, Coral Reef, 9:15-9:55 a.m.
Allan Hillman (U. South Alabama) and Tully Borland (Ouchita Baptist U.)
This paper is part of a larger project of providing a systematic account of the late medieval philosopher John Duns Scotus ethics. What were interested in exploring here is primarily Scotus metaethical views about justice, namely, what Scotus thinks justice is or amounts to. Unfortunately, Scotus did not produce a treatise on justice (or any substantive ethical treatise for that matter), and thus we find what there is of a theory of justice emerging in a number of contexts. So it will be helpful to provide a bit of framework for thinking about the nature of justice more generally which can be brought to bear on Scotus texts. In the first two sections, we present two theories of justice which arguably have at least some initial degree of purchase in Scotus writings the Anselmian/Platonic Theory and the Divine Command Theory. We then argue that neither theory, by itself, can accommodate Scotus assertions on the matter. We offer a suggestion: that, for Scotus, justice is a certain relation of the will directed toward the intrinsic goodness of things.
How Diagrams Fertilize Discovery, Friday, October 10, Session 3, Coral Reef, 10:05-10:45 a.m.
Nick Jones (U. Alabama Huntsville)
Exploratory analysis of big data in biology relies heavily upon computer algorithms for processing data and automatically generating analytical results for specific queries about hidden patterns. Curiously, automated tools for analyzing big data typically provide visualizations of the input data. My question is: why might biologists prefer to have visualizations of networks rather than, or in addition to, sentential representations of network data and algorithm outputs about that data? My answer is: visuals are more cognitively fertile than (sentential) algorithm outputs, enhanced cognitive fertility enables more fruitful exploration, and more fruitful exploration is cognitively beneficial.
Reconsidering Theological Voluntarism about the Good, Friday, October 10, Session 8, Coral Reef, 3:05-3:45 p.m.
Matt Jordan (Auburn U. Montgomery)
It is widely assumed, even by philosophers who affirm theistic accounts of the nature of morality, that theological voluntarism cannot be correct as an explanation of axiological facts. I argue that the implausibility of theological voluntarism is overstated and that an account grounded in divine intentions provides the theists best hope for explaining the nature of moral normativity.
Husserlian Reflections on a Fregean Predicament, Saturday, October 11, Session 11, Aquamarine I, 9:15-9:55 a.m.
Chad Kidd (Auburn U.)
This paper attempts to elucidate and motivate Husserls conception of the relation between the logical and the psychological articulated in the Logical Investigations. It presents a certain predicament that arises for the Fregean view of this relation. The Fregean predicament is the inability for the Fregean to account for the normative bearing of the logical on the psychological. And it shows how this predicament inexorably arises out of the Fregean idea that Thoughts or propositional senses are objects of thinking. It then shows how Husserls conception of propositional senses as universals that are instanced in acts of thinking and judging avoids the Fregean predicament.
Building Character, Friday, October 10, Session 3, Aquamarine I, 10:05-10:45 a.m.
Matt King (U. Alabama Birmingham)
In this paper I seek to vindicate the idea that responsible action is expressive of character. But I do so by turning the usual understanding of the relation on its head. Instead of holding that character motivates and causes the action we are responsible for, I argue that character is to be built out of those things we are responsible for. Ones character is downstream of action.
Kant on Moral Luck, Saturday, October 11, Session 14, Aquamarine I, 11:40 a.m.-12:20 p.m.
Jennifer Lockhart (Auburn U.)
Kant is widely viewed as the most rigorous exponent of a conception of morality that is free from luck. This paper identifies three theses that are typically attributed to Kant with respect to moral luck and makes the case that all three theses are incorrectly ascribed to Kant. The traditional narrative surrounding Kant on moral luck fails to take into account his views regarding the complete good and the necessary relationship between happiness and virtue.
Caesars Role in The Basic Laws of Arithmetic, Friday, October 10, Session 3, Aquamarine II, 10:05-10:45 a.m.
Tom Lockhart (Auburn U.)
In The Foundations of Arithmetic, Frege presents the Caesar Problem (CP) as an insuperable obstacle to the possibility of using Humes Principle as a contextual definition of number. Instead, he adopts an explicit definition of number in terms of value-ranges. In The Basic Laws of Arithmetic, Frege argues that his fundamental law concerning value-ranges Basic Law V is itself subject to CP. But Frege thinks that he can resolve CP as it concerns value ranges. I argue that this shows that Basic Law V was not, for Frege, a contextual definition of Value-Range, but a basic truth of logic.
Legal Naturalism Is a Disjunctivism, Friday, October 10, Session 4, Aquamarine I, 10:50-11:30 a.m.
Roderick T. Long (Auburn U.)
Legal naturalism is the doctrine that a rules status as law depends on its moral content; or, in its strongest form, that an unjust law is not a law. By drawing an analogy between legal naturalism and perceptual disjunctivism, I argue that this doctrine is more defensible than is generally thought, and in particular that it entails no conflict with ordinary usage.
Making Sense of Relative Truth: A Dilemma for MacFarlane, Friday, October 10, Session 5, Coral Reef, 12:45-1:25 p.m.
Daniel Massey (Spring Hill College)
I articulate a challenge to the influential form of relativism offered up by John MacFarlane in his earlier works. My aim is not to show that relativism is suitable or unsuitable for this or that topic but instead that the form of relativism at issue either collapses into a more conservative form (with its attendant problems) or fails to render relativism intelligible at all. My claim is simply that MacFarlane has failed to make sense of relative truth.
Explanationist Evidentialism, and Inferential Justification, Friday, October 10, Session 2, Aquamarine I, 9:15-9:55 a.m.
Kevin McCain (U. Alabama Birmingham)
Keith Lehrer (1974) and Alvin Goldman (2011) have each argued that explanationist theories of epistemic justification cannot account for justified beliefs formed via deductive inferences. Recently, Kevin McCain (2013; 2014) has defended explanationism by including relations of logical consequence as justifiers in his Explanationist Evidentialism. I argue that McCains concession to Lehrer and Goldman is unwarranted because their objections are not genuine problems for explanationism. Additionally, I argue that Explanationist Evidentialism can be modified so that it not only avoids conceding to Lehrer and Goldman, but about the future.
Hume and Historical Interpretation, Saturday, October 11, Session 11, Coral Reef, 9:15-9:55 a.m.
Kevin Meeker (U. South Alabama)
This paper critically discusses the so-called principle of charity and, in particular, how historians use this principle to understand the philosophy of David Hume.
Ontological Parsimony and the Erosion of Prior Ontologies, Friday, October 10, Session 1, room, 8:30-9:10 a.m.
Thomas Metcalf (U. Colorado Boulder)
I begin by identifying a widely-employed philosophical argument-type: the ockhamistic anti-realist strategy. I show that this strategy depends crucially upon the epistemological principle of positive ontological parsimony, according to which we should ceteris paribus prefer smaller ontologies. I argue that this principle commits one to an implausible epistemological claim the Eroding Ontology Thesis according to which evidence for the existence of some entity, type, or kind is at least prima facie evidence against the existence of all other entities, types, or kinds. I conclude that philosophers have a powerful new reason to question one very common argument-type.
Nietzsche on Borgia, Friday, October 10, Session 4, Aquamarine II, 10:50-11:30 a.m.
Luke Phillips (Auburn U.)
To highlight the truly immoralist nature of Nietzsches work and to show how his demand for sublimation, unlike Freuds, is perfectly compatible with other-directed evil and socially unacceptable acts, I examine Nietzsches attitude toward one of historys most famous villains, Cesare Borgia.
Infinitism, Inferentialism, and Available Reasons, Saturday, October 11, Session 12, Aquamarine I, 10:05-10:45 a.m.
Adam Podlaskowski (Fairmont State U.)
Since antiquity, infinitism has struck many as untenable. The case recently made by Podlaskowski and Smith (Podlaskowski and Smith, 2011, 2014, Smith and Podlaskowski, 2013) has helped to secure that view against recent defenses of infinitism. In this article, a new defense from their charge is provided. This defense turns on rejecting an assumption which has gone largely undiscussed in the literature: namely, that the way in which propositions serve as mental contents and how they serve as reasons are, in an important respect, independent of one another.
Knowledge How and the Transmission of Knowledge, Friday, October 10, Session 6, Coral Reef, 1:30-2:10 p.m.
Ted Poston (U. South Alabama)
Intellectualism about knowledge how is the view that know how implies know that. I argue that this view is undermined by a difference in properties with respect to knowledge how and run of the mill propositional knowledge. More specifically, I argue that knowledge that and know-why can be easily transmitted via testimony while knowledge how is not easily transmitted via testimony. This points to a more crucial difference in states of knowledge, differences that linguists are not especially trained to detect. My argument provides further grounds that know how stands apart from other instances of knowledge.
Why It Is Wrong to Kill Merely Conscious Beings, Saturday, October 11, Session 12, Aquamarine II, 10:05-10:45 a.m.
Erich Rieson (Northern Illinois U.)
There is a prima facie inconsistency in our ethical beliefs about the killing of animals and the killing of human beings. Even Peter Singer holds that painlessly killing a merely conscious animal is not morally wrong if that animal is immediately replaced by another who will lead an equally pleasant life. I believe that Singer is mistaken. In this paper, I first develop an account of wrongful harm from the point of view of preference utilitarianism, Singers favored theory. Next, I analyze the prior existence and total views of preference utilitarianism and argue for a mixed approach that combines the best aspects of each view. On this basis, I argue that death often seriously harms conscious animals and, contrary to Singer, that painlessly killing a merely conscious animal is often morally wrong even if the animal is immediately replaced by another with an equally pleasant life.
Dretske on Self-Knowledge, Saturday, October 11, Session 13, Coral Reef, 10:50-10:45 a.m.
Michael Roche (Illinois Wesleyan)
Over the past decade or so, Fred Dretske has advanced an interesting, but quite peculiar, theory of self-knowledge. He claims that a subject cannot know by introspection that she has a mind, and thus that she cannot know by introspection that, e.g., she believes that P, desires that Q, etc. Nevertheless, he maintains that a subject is authoritative about the contents of her mental states. Our first goal is to explain how Dretskes theory relates to the rest of his philosophy focusing in particular on his conclusive reasons account of knowledge, his information-theoretic treatment of conclusive reasons, and his lesser-known work on contrastive statements. Although Dretske has repeatedly argued for his theory of self-knowledge, he has never precisely articulated just how that theory relates to his larger body of work. Our doing so thus promises to clarify both his theory and its genesis. Our second goal is to show that a significant component of his theory is mistaken, even if it contains an important kernel of truth regarding self-knowledge.
Is God Unlucky? A Reconstructed Free-Will Defense, Friday, October 10, Session 7, Coral Reef, 2:20-3:00 p.m.
Dennis Sansom (Samford U.)
David Lewis shows an inconsistency in the Free-Will Defense. Either God is an unlucky gambler because God gave significant freedom to humanity and they misused it to do evil or God is sovereign and omniscient and does not take risks. I consider this issue of whether God is unlucky. I conclude that to be consistent and perhaps compelling the Free-Will Defense should claim that God is unlucky, not as a gambler but a builder. I make this claim based on certain notions of 1) significant freedom, 2) Gods foreknowledge, and 3) Gods responsibility for evil, borrowing from St. Anselm to make this argument.
A New Problem for Animalism, Friday, October 10, Session 8, room, 3:05-3:45 p.m.
Kevin Sharpe (St. Cloud State U.)
In this paper I present a new problem for animalism, the view that human persons are numerically identical to human animals. In brief, the problem is that animalism is inconsistent with the conjunction of an independently attractive account of the metaphysical nature of organisms and the empirical possibility of extreme cases of locked in syndrome (cases involving complete paralysis and inability to maintain basic vital functions while retaining full consciousness). I argue given the possibility of such cases, it follows that either animalism or some element of the metaphysics of organisms is false. The trouble for animalism is that the metaphysical account of organisms I draw on is attractive, independently plausible, and widely accepted. I conclude by discussing some options animalists may pursue, none of which are entirely satisfactory.
2014 Undergraduate Essay Prize Winner
On Humes Reconciliation of Liberty and Necessity, Saturday, October 11, Session 14, Aquamarine II, 11:40 a.m.-12:20 p.m.
Matthew Shoemaker (Auburn U. Montgomery)
One of Humes projects was to reconcile free will and determinism. Because Hume believed that the problem was one of definition, his proposed definitions of liberty and necessity are important to understand both individually and how those concepts interact. His definition of liberty is defensible from an empiricist perspective, but does not mean what is typically meant by free will. His definition of necessity is more problematic, leaving the causal connection between motivation and action either too weak for his project, or strong enough to be deterministic. Ultimately his project results in a deterministic view of human action.
Why Feldman & Conee Are Wrong About Theses S & M, Saturday, October 11, Session 15, Coral Reef, 12:25-1:05 p.m.
Joshua Smith (Central Michigan U.)
Richard Feldman and Earl Conee defend internalism about epistemic justification. They characterize internalism as being committed to two theses. The first, thesis S, is a thesis about that on which epistemic justification supervenes. The second, thesis M, is a thesis about the epistemic status of mental duplicates. The aim of this paper is to illustrate that theses S and M are false.
Keeping the Audience in Mind, Friday, October 10, Session 7, Aquamarine II, 2:20-3:00 p.m.
David Spewak (Mississippi State U.)
When speakers communicate they use background information and assumptions in choosing their words to best communicate what they intend. I argue that by ignoring speakers audience focused intentions regarding word choice, semantic theorists have ignored a range of intuitions regarding the substitution of co-referring terms in propositional attitude ascriptions. Consequently, these considerations reveal that intuitions regarding the substitution of co-referring terms in propositional attitude ascriptions are interest relative and thus an unreliable guide to their truth-value. As a further result, hesitations to substitute co-referring terms in belief attributions neither speak for nor against Descriptivism over Millianism.
The Rational Relations View of Responsibility and the Challenge from Alexithymia, Friday, October 10, Session 5, Aquamarine II, 12:45-1:25 p.m.
Nate Stout (Tulane U.)
Recently, Angela Smith has developed and defended a view of moral responsibility, the Rational Relations view, which places primary importance on the notion that responsibility is a matter of an agents actions or attitudes being connected in the appropriate way with her evaluative judgments. However, David Shoemaker, in a recent paper, has challenged this conception of responsibility in an important and compelling way. The aim of this paper is to show that Shoemaker!46;s objection can be extended in a way that is much more devastating for the Rational Relations view by appealing to some suggestive empirical facts regarding a particular amalgamation of psychological features known as the alexithymia construct.
Natural Law, Metaphysics, and Creation, Friday, October 10, Session 9, Coral Reef, 3:55-5:00 p.m.
Eleonore Stump (St. Louis University)
In this paper, I contrast the notion of natural law on a secularist scientific picture with the notion of natural law in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. I show the way in which the highly various metaphysics of the two worldviews give rise to such divergent notions. In this connection, I look at contemporary arguments against reductionism in the sciences and in recent metaphysics. I argue that this new anti-reductionist approach sits more easily with the Thomistic worldview than with the secularist scientific view.
Autonomy and the Non-Problem of Manipulation, Friday, October 10, Session 4, Coral Reef, 10:50-11:30 a.m.
Gerald Taylor (Georgia State U.)
Historical accounts of autonomy have been criticized as being susceptible to the problem of manipulation, which arises when we consider the possibility that an agent acquired the ability to self-govern illegitimately. Here, I argue that the problem of manipulation is not a serious threat to historical accounts. Proponents of the manipulation argument are faced with a dilemma. Either manipulation cases involve what I call effective background agency, and can thus be rejected as non-starters; or they dont involve effective background agency, and are thus not threatening in the way originally intended. Either way, historical accounts of autonomy do not find an insuperable foe in the manipulation argument.
Forking and Non-Forking Worlds: A Challenge to Libertarian Accounts of Free Will, Friday, October 10, Session 2, Aquamarine II, 9:15-9:55 a.m.
Robyn Waller (U. Alabama)
The aim of this paper is to challenge libertarian accounts of free will. It is argued that there is an irreconcilable tension between the way in which philosophers motivate the libertarian ability to do otherwise and the way in which they formally express it. Potential libertarian responses in the face of this tension are canvassed, and it is argued that each response is problematic. It is not claimed that indeterminism is incompatible with free will, but rather that any libertarian account that requires that an agent have (indeterminism-involving) alternative possibilities at the point of a free action fails.
Thinking Animals Without Thinking Brains? Biological Minimalism and the Thinking-Parts Problem, Friday, October 10, Session 1, Coral Reef, 8:30-9:10 a.m.
Joshua Watson (U. Tennessee Knoxville)
There is a thinking animal in your chair and you are the only thinking thing in your chair. You, therefore, are an animal. So goes the main argument for animalism. But notice that there are other things that might do our thinking: heads, brains, upper-halves, etc. Why favor the animal over the others? I argue that the biological minimalist solution to this problem fails.
The Limits on Moral Dumbfounding, Saturday, October 11, Session 13, Aquamarine I, 10:50-11:30 a.m.
Danielle Wylie (U. Illinois Chicago)
In moral psychology, Psychological Rationalism is understood as the view that moral judgments are caused by a process of reasoning. Jonathan Haidt has claimed to provide evidence against such a view by showing that people succumb to moral dumbfounding, a phenomenon in which people cannot adequately provide their reasoning after forming a moral judgment. I show that this evidence serves as a strike against the view only if Psychological Rationalism is committed to the Consciousness Claim, the claim that moral reasoning is conscious reasoning (and indeed, Haidt assumes that it is). I also suggest that a number of plausible variants of the view reject the Consciousness Claim, thus limiting the efficacy of the objection. Ultimately, although some have taken dumbfounding to be a strike against Psychological Rationalism, its real impact is limited to only variants that embrace the Consciousness Claim.
The Problem of Death in Being and Time, Saturday, October 11, Session 10, Aquamarine I, 8:30-9:10 p.m.
Nate Zuckerman (Spring Hill College)
In this paper, I use Heideggers interpretation of Aristotle on rational capacities to explain how the four most prominent readings of death in Being and Time hang together systematically, insofar as they identify not death itself (for they fail to account for its absolute scope) but rather the more local forms of breakdown through which the threat of death may show up to us throughout our worldly existence.