PERCIPI - A Graduate Philosophy Journal

Volume 2 (2008)

1. Methodological Individualism and the Epistemic Value of Macro-
 .pdf (190 KB)
Alexander Reutlinger and Heiner Koch (Freie Universität Berlin)
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In this paper we want to analyze causal explanations in the social sciences. If we assume that the social sciences apparently do provide successful and autonomous explanations, this assumption raises fundamental problems for the standard theory of explanation. These problems especially refer to the following issues: (1) Which theory of causation is adequate in these contexts? And (2), how are we supposed to understand lawlike generalizations—which are often denoted by the name of ceteris paribus laws—that are essential to causal explanation in the social sciences? We answer these questions in favour of an interventionist account of causal explanation. Contrary to the ceteris paribus approach to social “laws” (and its severe problems) we propose to see generalizations in social science as causal dependencies between social variables that remain invariant (or stable) under a certain range of interventions. Further we argue against methodological individualism that there are some social macro-explanations, which are the best explanations for the occurrence of a social state of affairs. We call this position a pluralism or pragmatism of explanations.

Keywords: Explanation, Causality, Ceteris Paribus Laws, James Woodward

Submitted: 12.16.2007; Revised: 03.28.2008; Published: 04.08.2008

14 pages

2. Is Naturalism Normative? The Function of Epistemic Norms Within Naturalized Epistemology *  .pdf (158 KB)
Barbara Trybulec (Lublin University)
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The topic of the paper is the problem of normativity within naturalized epistemology. The question I pose is whether naturalism can be conducted as a normative enterprise or whether it is merely descriptive as traditional epistemologists maintain. If they are to be faithful to their philosophical presuppositions naturalists cannot deliver traditionally understood substantive account of normativity. This is the reason why naturalism is often conceived as a merely descriptive enterprise. Nevertheless, naturalists do not reject normativity they just understand it differently. The numerous misunderstandings between traditional and naturalistic epistemologists is rooted in the difference in the attitudes to the naturalistic fallacy taken by these two sides. Naturalists treat this "fallacy'' as unavoidable, which profoundly influences their account of normativity. In my paper, I show that the main problem with naturalizing epistemic norms could be expressed by asking, What is the substantial difference between epistemic norms derived from descriptive statements and those statements? What does this derivation really mean? My thesis is that naturalistic epistemic norms are actually descriptions of empirical phenomena which are expressed in a normative form for the sake of everyday life and scientific practice. To justify this argument I firstly recall the traditional meaning of "normativity'' in the work of Descartes and the post-Cartesian internalists. Secondly, I present how and why the meaning of "epistemic norm'' and "justified belief'' change within naturalism with reference to Quine's and Goldman's versions of naturalism in particular. Finally, I focus on the consequences of naturalizing normativity, especially on the function of epistemic norms within naturalized epistemology. At this last stage I make use of Jonathan Knowles' book Norms, Naturalism and Epistemology.

Keywords: Naturalized epistemology, Epistemic norms, W.V.O. Quine, Alvin I. Goldman, Jonathan Knowles

Submitted: 10.31.2007; Revised: 04.20.2008; Published: 05.09.2008

13 pages


* Paper presented at the 2nd Philosophy Graduate Conference, CEU, March 29-30, 2008.

3. Contractarianism: On the Incoherence of the Exclusion of Non-Human Beings *  .pdf (134 KB)
Rebekah Humphreys (Cardiff University of Wales)
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Although the practices of animal experimentation and intensive rearing involve a considerable amount of animal suffering they continue to be supported. Why is the suffering of animals in these practices so often accepted? This paper will explore some of the reasons given in support of the use of animals for such practices. In particular I will focus on contractarianism as one of the many positions that argues that morally relevant differences between species justify animal experimentation and factory farming. These differences include rationality and moral agency. On this position nonhumans are excluded from direct moral concern on the basis that they lack such qualities. I will argue that in order for contractarianism to be coherent it necessarily has to include non-humans in the contract. This has implications for the application of contractarianismto the ethics of factory farming and animal experimentation.

Keywords: Contractarianism, Animal Experimentation, Factory Farming, John Rawls, Peter Carruthers

Submitted: 10.23.2007; Revised: 04.25.2008; Published: 05.21.2008

11 pages


* Paper presented at the 2nd Philosophy Graduate Conference, CEU, March 29-30, 2008.

4. In Defence of Internalism in the Language of Morals  .pdf (113 KB)
Adrian Kuzniar (Warsaw University)
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The principle of internalism states that possessing appropriate moti- vational attitudes is a necessary condition for the correct linguistic use of moral predicates. It is assumed in the paper that this principle ought to be treated as a standard empirical hypothesis, and that its rational acceptability can be determined only by comparing its explanatory power with that of the rival hypothesis. As it turns out, the principle of internalism is capable of explicating a great many phenomena which continue to confound exter- nalists, while examples of language usage purportedly repudiating it are far less numerous than usually thought.

Keywords: Internalism, externalism, moral language

Submitted: 03.01.2008; Revised: 08.05.2008; Published: 08.15.2008

10 pages

5. The Relation of Compresence in the Bundle Theory: Four Problems  .pdf (172 KB)
Christopher Austin (Indiana University)
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There are many things that the bundle theory of objects is thought to accomplish—an explication of the more exact "composition" or make-up of existent substances, the truth-making scheme for propositions and perhaps even an ontological foundation for property theory. The aim of this paper is to carefully examine certain issues which follow from the independence of properties and the nature of compresence to see whether or not these two axioms can be held simultaneously. For if properties are independent entities, compresence is required. Likewise, if compresence is a fact about the metaphysical make-up of entities, the primacy of properties must be maintained. This paper will examine four distinct potential problems for the bundle theory of substance by focusing on the compresence relation— these are what I will term the founding problem, the de re problem, the character problem and the agential aspect problem. After laying out each problem, this paper will offer some putative defenses from the bundle the- ory and lend rejoinders to them. This paper will conclude that no version of the bundle theory so far advanced is able to successfully answer all four of these objections and that therefore either the theory must be conceptually expanded and revised or rejected.

Keywords: Substance, Properties, Bundle theory, Compresence relation

Submitted: 05.17.2008; Revised: 08.24.2008; Published: 08.28.2008

17 pages

Volume 1 (2007)

1. Editorial  .pdf (87 KB)
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Contains information about the journal, submission and review process, and copyright.

6 pages

2. The Emotivistic Conception of Moral Responsibility. An Analysis of C.L. Stevenson's Account  .pdf (139 KB)
Mikołaj Gołembiowski (Warsaw University)
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We will discuss an interesting account of moral responsibility presented by Charles L. Stevenson in his Ethics and Language. We will take a closer look at the most important statements and weigh the arguments of the opponents. We will try to answer the question whether Stevenson’s account is plausible or if we really need, in explaining our concept of moral responsibility, to refer to some other accounts, especially to the libertarian ones. The problem that will be considered is very closely connected to the compatibilism-incompatibilism debate. If Stevenson’s main statements turned out to be implausible, this fact would deliver an argument supporting incompatibilism. Otherwise, we could claim to have found a good compatibilist framework account of moral responsibility.

Keywords: Moral responsibility, Emotivism, Charles L. Stevenson

Submitted: 05.29.2007; Revised: 07.21.2007; Published: 07.31.2007

11 pages

3. Conceivability, Possibility, and Two-Dimensional Semantics  .pdf (185 KB)
Paul Winstanley (University of Durham)
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Kripke (1980) famously separates the metaphysical and epistemic modal domains, with supposed necessary a posteriori identity statements such as ‘Hesperus is Phosphorus’, appearing to create an irreconcilable gap between conceivability and possibility. In response to this problem, David Chalmers (2002; 2004a; 2006) uses two-dimensional modal semantics (2DS) to claim that conceivability entails possibility. Specifically, Chalmers makes five claims: (1) metaphysical is ‘secondary’, ‘horizontal’ or counterfactual modality; (2) conceivability is epistemic possibility; (3) epistemic is ‘primary’, ‘diagonal’ or ‘counteractual’ modality; (4) possibility consists in metaphysical and/or epistemic modalities; thus, (5) conceivability entails (or is a species of) possibility.

In this paper, I accept (1) and (2) (although I question these elsewhere), and deny (3) and especially (4). This being the case, I reject (5) in its two-dimensional variant; 2DS does not show that conceivability entails possibility (even if another argument does). In detail, I argue that no version of 2DS shows that ‘diagonal’ or ‘counteractual’ modality is epistemic modality, or that possibility should best be understood in terms of metaphysical or epistemic modalities. Moreover, reading such metaphysical and epistemic conclusions from logico-semantic premises is illegitimate; to echo Salmon’s (1982) criticism of Kripke’s semantic essentialism, it is akin to pulling a metaphysical rabbit from a semantic hat. Therefore, no version of 2DS validates the move from conceivability to possibility.

Keywords: 2D semantics, conceivability, possibility, David Chalmers

Submitted: 05.29.2007; Revised: 07.26.2007; Published: 07.31.2007

14 pages

4. Evaluations and Autonomous Action  .pdf (151 KB)
Shi Li (Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali, Roma)
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In contemporary discussions of the requirement of rationality to autonomous action, there are two main accounts: reason-responsive conception of autonomy and reasoning-responsive conception of autonomy. The reason-responsive conception is grounded by an external interpretation of practical reason, while the internal interpretation of practical rationality grounds the reasoning-responsive conception. In this essay, by defending reasoning-responsive conception of autonomy, I conclude that one of the necessary conditions for autonomy is the requirement of internal rationality: a sound reasoning process (consistent with logical rules and facts) starting from an agent’s given beliefs and desires.

Keywords: Autonomy, free will, rationality, internalism vs. externalism

Submitted: 05.29.2007; Revised: 07.23.2007; Published: 07.31.2007

12 pages

5. Kant's Aesthetic Theory: Subjectivity vs. Universal Validity  .pdf (105 KB)
Mehmet Atalay (Stanford University)
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In the Critique of the Power of Judgment, Kant claims that the judgment of taste is based on a subjective principle, but it has universal validity. This subjective principle determines what pleases and what displeases us only through feeling—not through concepts. The a priori character of taste reflects the transcendental principle of the general acceptability, and only such a transcendental principle can be a sensus communis. His contention is that this principle emerges from the free play of our cognitive faculties, and has to be common sense that everyone has since everyone has the same cognitive capacities. In this paper, I try to demonstrate this nature of the aesthetic judgment, which is subjective but has universal validity.

Keywords: Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment, subjectivity

Submitted: 05.25.2007; Revised: 07.20.2007; Published: 07.31.2007

9 pages

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