17th annual Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference
April 19-20, 2013
Aguirre, Lucas, "Bergson's Environment: Towards an Ecological Understanding" (Paper session #2)
This paper draws on the thinking of the French philosopher and biologist Henri Bergson, and attempts an understanding of the environment while considering Bergson’s metaphysics. Why is it that the bulk of the discussion concerning environmental problems takes place within a narrow framework that has difficulty recognizing the intrinsic value of nature? In this paper I try and explain Bergson’s description of the ways that consciousness seeks to know the world around it, and conclude that modern thought fails to recognize the sensual, sympathetic nature of experience. Only through understanding the ecology of our own thoughts can we hope to reach an understanding of the environment and how to live with it in a harmonious and ecologically conscious manner.
Algazatiti, Joseph, "Darwin's Rough Cup of Tea: The Problematic Metaphysical Assumptions in the Macroevolutionary Paradigm" (Paper session #2)
My goal in Darwin’s Tea is to demonstrate that the metaphysical assumptions supporting macroevolution bring into question the idea of calling it the only objective explanation of the origins of life. To accomplish this goal, I will first demonstrate how Darwinism, the first systematic presentation of the macroevolutionary paradigm, soundly overpowered Victorian Creationism, solidifying its dominance and the dominance of the metaphysical assumptions within it. Secondly, I will philosophically analyze these metaphysical assumptions to portray their origin and their biases that cause a lack of objectivity in the macroevolutionary paradigm.
Arinder, Aaron, "Possible Problems with Four-Dimensionalism and a Possible Solution" (Paper session #2)
Mark Heller, in Temporal Parts of Four-Dimensional Objects, argues for an ontology of objects with four dimensions. He thinks that by arguing for an ontology that incorporates the temporal dimension he is able to deny some distasteful propositions that the proponent of a three-dimensional ontology must choose between to avoid contradicting themselves as they attempt to develop an account of how objects are able to persist, as the same objects, through change. This is a view that I find attractive, but with some reservation. This paper will explain Heller's fourth-dimensionalism by looking at an argument he brings up against three-dimensionalism. I will reply to his handling of the argument by raising two important areas of clarification that the four-dimensionalist must address. After this, I will bring up a possible solution to the areas needing clarification by suggesting an ontology that includes an essential part alongside temporal parts.
Baran, Paul, "Defense of Rawls: Reply to Brock" (Paper session #3)
Cosmopolitans like Gillian Brock, Charles Beitz, and Thomas Pogge argue that the principles of justice selected and arranged in lexical priority in Rawls’ first original position would—and should for the same reasons as in the first—also be selected in the second original position. After all, the argument goes, what reasons other than morally arbitrary ones do we have for selecting a second set of principles? A different, though undoubtedly related, point of contention is the cosmopolitan charge (most famously, made by Pogge) that Rawls fails to consider the unfavorable conditions that owe themselves to global factors. Perhaps there was a time when interconnectedness and interdependency between states was not a factor; but in the current global order, this certainly is not the case. While this paper will address other related cosmopolitan concerns mentioned in Brock’s work, it is these two points that are perhaps the two biggest threats to the Rawlsian project and, as such, it is these two points that will be the primary focus of this paper.
Beall, Mary, "An Examination of Freedom and Gender" (Paper session #3)
Within society many forms of oppression exist; however, gender conformity is one of the most egregious systems. Gender conformity is a system that plagues societies across the globe. This system prevents individuals from living freely by forcing their compliance to established norms. How to cast off the limitations of this system is complex and multiple pathways have been presented. The separatist feminist movement exemplifies an ideology in which individuals thought that to escape the chains of society one must exit society. The separatist movement did not result in the reduction of societal constraints and shows that another method must be pursued. Simone De Beauvoir and Hannah Arendt provide compelling thoughts on how individuals can move towards freedom while creating an opportunity for others to do the same. For freedom to be possible, gender conformity must be eliminated within society.
Beloin, Kyle, "Contextualism: The Relative Truth Behind Everyday Knowledge" (Paper session #3)
Contextualism, understood in epistemology, generally refers to a broad collection of positions in which the various issues concerning knowledge and justification are dependent on context. The purpose of this exposition, however, is to inquire into how one particular formation of the contextualist position, that concerning the contextual dependence of the truth-values assigned to knowledge ascribing statements, admits of a less explicit kind of relativism; namely, epistemic relativism. Furthermore, we will see that this version offers respite to folks outside the stuffy, sophistic practice of epistemology—and some epistemologists—who refuse to reject their intuition that they can in fact know. This argument requires three main parts: first, we will look to Susan Haack’s formation of relativism, and subsequently epistemic relativism, in order to frame the discussion in a way that is amenable to the contextualist position. Second, we will turn to the contextualist position as proposed by Keith DeRose and Stewart Cohen. Lastly, we will turn to Cohen’s contextualist treatment of the skeptical argument, which if found convincing, employs fundamental components that link this version of contextualism to epistemic relativism. In conclusion, we will see that this connection to epistemic relativism does not commit contextualism to the unpleasant metaphysical conclusion that there are multiple true world versions, yet makes up for the inability of other epistemological positions to satisfactorily deal with competing knowledge ascriptions.
Blakemore, Gregory, "Re-examining Enactivism" (Paper session #3)
Enactivism is a view in philosophy of perception that holds that perception is an active process of movement through and embodiment in the world. A key figure in the enactivist movement is Alva Noë. Noë proposes a perceptual model that identifies sensorimotor contingencies and sensorimotor knowledge as a way to undergird one’s phenomenological experience of the world. Recently Scholar Ned Block has argued that Noë’s version of enactivism is a form of neo behaviorism; it explains sensory inputs and perceptual outputs, but lacks an explanation as to what mediates between these processes. I argue that a novel reading of David Hume’s copy principle and Humean associationism can give Noë a way to rebuke critiques such as Block’s. The novel reading of Humean copying examines the role of vivacity as a learned skill acquired via movement and exploration of the world, and which provides a mechanism to mediate between action and cognition.
Bonapace-Potvin, Michelle, "Is History Real?" (Paper session #4)
The speculative philosophy of History was a major topic of discussion throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, and Karl Marx each contributed a plethora of ideas concerning history and it’s teleological end. This paper provides an argument for the idealist thought, which states that History is real because it is an abstraction of the real.
Bremner, Sabina, "The Underlying Tension of the Tractatus" (Paper session #1)
Resolute readers of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, foremost among them Cora Diamond and James Conant, have long criticized the so-called “irresolute” readers of the work by drawing attention to their wavering on proposition 6.54: “My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical.” In this paper, I argue that even the resolute reader, in putting forth an interpretation of the Tractatus, is forced to waver to some degree on the “resoluteness” of their reading. My critique will be leveled mainly at the resolute reader Michael Kremer: I argue that he wavers on his conceptions of “framing” propositions and “theories.” However, I focus on Kremer not because I find fault with his reading, but instead because I feel his is the most compelling; consequently, I intend to show how any interpretation—even the one I agree with—falls into the same trap. To that end, the last section will serve as a brief examination of other potential readings of the work; I conclude that the Tractatus consists of a fundamental tension between sense and nonsense, and thus, that its very nature is to provoke such contradictions and inconsistencies. I will close by asserting my view that the paradoxical nature of the text forces us to grapple with our own human tendency towards confusion, which it never fully resolves.
Brewer, Ben, "Unsaying Non-Knowledge" (Paper session #1)
Georges Bataille’s writing seems to teethe with something utterly foreign to the discipline of philosophy. In this paper, I investigate what Jason Wirth calls’ Bataille’s “mad game of writing” in order to show that Bataille’s bizarre writing style is actually an extension of his ethical and philosophical commitments. Bataille’s writing attempts to produce a state within the reader rather than simply transmit information. I trace the justifications and roots for such a writing from his own system, as well as showing how such a style of writing has its roots in Kantian aesthetics and in Hegel’s Phenomenology.
Budding, John, "Speaking the Truth about Sherlock Holmes" (Paper session #4)
In this paper, I hope to show that propositions with fictional subjects, such as “Sherlock Holmes is a detective,” have a legitimate and justifiable truth value, and that some of these propositions are true. This argument will be developed through an analysis of Bertrand Russell and Peter Strawson’s famous debate on the nature of reference and meaning of expressions. Russell argues that propositions with fictional subjects are always logically false propositions. Strawson, after correcting Russell’s theory, argues that these propositions have no capacity for truth value at all. I argue that these propositions do contain truth value and some are indeed true, based on an analysis of Peter Alward’s paper “Truth in Fiction,” along with an expansion of Russell’s and Strawson’s theories.
Calabrese, Vincent, "Blake's Aesthetic Theology " (Paper session #2)
William Blake’s writings on religion present what might seem a series of striking paradoxes: he writes of himself as one who “believe[s] the Bible & profess[es] [himself] a Christian” but freely admits that all religions are in the business of “choosing forms of worship from among poetic tales;” he writes of himself as a prophet but declares that “brothels [are built] with bricks of religion;” most strikingly of all, he declares that “God is Man.” Although his views were violently out of sync with the orthodox theology of his day, William Blake was most eminently a “God-drunken man”, whose life and art were governed through and through by spiritual concerns. In this paper I would like to give a sense of his theological views and the way they informed his vocation as a poet and illustrator. First I will give a few preliminary generalisations about Blake’s system of theology and the role of his art within it. Before a fuller explication of the system can be given, it will be necessary to introduce a few concepts from Blake’s larger cosmology, namely his doctrine of the contraries and his view of human nature as expressed in the myth of the Zoas. Finally I will attempt to paint a picture of Blake’s philosophical theology--one I have called an aesthetic theology--which is detailed enough to do justice to his subtle and multi-faceted works.
Cantwell, Michael, "The Deceptive Paradox: Self-Deception" (Paper session #4)
There has been a large amount of discussion and debate on the topic of self-deception, yet none that has conclusively shown that it exists, or does not exist. Yet one must wonder how we lack proof of the existence of something that we can all see evidence of in our everyday lives. Take for example, a man who takes the bus to work Monday to Friday at 7:00 a.m. On Monday morning, the man wakes up after a rough night of sleep and believes that it is Sunday morning instead of Monday morning. The man sees a bus go by his window at 7:00 a.m. even though there are no buses that pass his house on the weekend, yet instead of realizing his error, he explains it away as a bus that took a wrong turn. At this point, anyone would believe that this man has deceived himself. Not only did the man incorrectly assume that it was still the weekend, but when presented with counterfactual evidence, he simply explains it away. So why if we can see evidence of something in action can we deny that it exists? The aims of this paper are first to take on the paradoxical nature of self-deception through further development of contemporary ideas, secondly to understand if someone who participates in self-deception truly finds happiness and finally to understand how an individual can avoid self-deception.
Chlouba, Vladimir, "On the Inevitable Internalization of the External in the Process of Metaphysical Inquiry" (Paper session #4)
In this paper, I posit that our minds inevitably internalize the external in the process of metaphysical enquiry because they naturally rely on abstraction, categorization, simplification and association. I first focus on the idea of substratum by claiming that it cannot exist independently of our minds. Second, I opine that both primary and secondary qualities are significantly dependent on our minds. Last but not least, I extend the shadow of relativity over the notion of motion. Finally, I postulate that even though there is certain external reality upon which our enquiry can converge, the external world is neither perfectly nor particularly closely knowable.
Cilluffo, Anthony, "Self and Society: The Importance of Others to Us" (Paper session #2)
Scholarship that focuses on Martin Heidegger and the Romantics typically addresses the theories propounded by the formal philosophers of that era, including Arnold Schopenhauer and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In doing so, a significant discussion regarding the philosophy advanced by the contemporary artists of that era is neglected. The great Romantic artists, and those whom followed their traditions, issued a call for the rejection of society in favor of nature. In this paper, I will argue that the Romantic notion of the self is flawed because it fails to address the normative and developmental advantages that are obtained from society by exclusively vilifying it, while Heidegger's competing view of Authentic-being-oneself offers a more complete picture of the role of society in the development of the self by focusing primarily on developmental psychology.
Clarke, Stephen, "The Panopticon of the Public Interest: Technology and Surveillance" (Paper session #3)
This paper deals with the issue of surveillance as it applies to recent technological advancements. Specifically, advancements in video capturing and social media have made public events into spectacles that are observed and shared online by the public. Public protest and discourse loosens itself from the bounds of state authority and enters the arena of the public. This phenomenon reconsiders Foucault’s conception of the panopticon. Foucault’s panopticon is useful as a tool for understanding the way power operates through surveillance in a state-to-public direction, but technological advancements have allowed for a reversal of this surveillance. With real examples like the pepper spraying of student protesters at UC Davis, the public now has surveillance over the state (in this example police officers) from its multitude of citizen perspectives that can be shared and disseminated online. This is an important development because it increases the autonomy and safe power of individuals who wish to speak out against excessive use of power by the state over the public. People can do so without fear of greater police suppression of real events. Issues with this development are discussed, like the chance for the state, or other sites of power (like corporations) to develop the copyrighting of public pace, making any event the property of power structures. This would be a problem, as it would lessen the autonomy of individuals in public spaces.
Dandelet, Sophie, "The Zombie Lives: Why Shoemaker's Argument Against the Possibility of Philosophical Zombies Isn't Cogent" (Paper session #1)
In this paper, I reject Sydney Shoemaker's (1974) argument for the claim that all functional duplicates of conscious beings are themselves conscious. I start by outlining Shoemaker's argument. Next, I try to show that Shoemaker's argument is not cogent according to Crispin Wright's (2000) criteria for cogency. I go on to propose a cogent reformulation of Shoemaker's argument. Finally, I argue that this reformulation does not support Shoemaker's desired conclusion – that there are no philosophical zombies.
Dandy, Travis, "Distribution, Oppression, and Empowerment in Relation to the Suicide Crisis in the Global South" (Paper session #3)
This paper looks at the issue of rising suicide rates in the Global South and uses the works of Charles Beitz and Iris Marion Young in order to develop a two pronged approach to the problem. Excerpts from Katherine Boo’s, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, are used to illustrate the issue and statistics documenting the sharp rise in suicide rates in the Global South are provided. The root causes of this phenomenon are sought in international systems of distribution in addition to institutional forms of oppression and exploitation at the domestic level.
Dehart, Abigail, "Bernard Mandeville's Fable of the Bees: A Reappraisal" (Paper session #4)
Bernard Mandeville’s infamous Grumbling Hive has often been interpreted as his position on the goodness of mankind. The poem’s ending demonstrates that vice looks like virtue when implemented correctly. Because of this conclusion, writers of the Scottish Enlightenment placed Mandeville into the same category as the egoist, Thomas Hobbes. The problem is that Mandeville wrote a poem, not a straightforward account of the origins of morality. He would have known this conclusion was a ridiculous answer to a social problem, and so it is fitting to read the poem as a satire, intended to be ironic while shaming and shaping its target into improvement. Read within the social context of his life, this interpretation becomes more meaningful, because he disagreed with the formation of the charity schools that sought to instill virtue into the poor. He knew the uneducated only seemed to have more vice, but realistically all the socially educated knew how to do was manipulate others into thinking their vice was virtue. Interpreting Mandeville’s poem as a satire, this paper will reexamine the fairness of his charge as an egoist to view him as both a philosopher and a social critic.
Desrosiers, Phil, "On the Authentication of the Self" (Paper session #4)
The purpose of this essay will be to seek a greater understanding of authenticity and how we can be more authentic in out lives in spite of inauthentic influences. I will purpose that being authentic is to be faithful to our essence, to act in harmony with one’s own unique way of living and not through any other means. I will argue that through being authentic we can develop into self-determined individuals that do not rely on gratification from external forces. The problem lies in that external forces exist and seek to pressure individuals to conform to social norms. To find a solution to this problem I will examine if being authentic is always desirable, obtainable and what role should inauthenticity play in our lives. Ultimately arriving at the conclusion that being authentic is self oriented, that we should always desire and strive to be authentic even if we must use inauthentic means.
Dozier, Zachariah, "A Transgender Past: The Right to Personal and Perceived Gender Identity" (Paper session #3)
The purpose of this essay will be to argue in support of a necessary change in, and universalization of, legislative guidelines that would allow gender atypical individuals a reissuing of their birth certificate with the correct gender marker, without note that an amendment was made. It will include a discussion of the importance of a person’s right to live autonomously and why gender identity and the ability to influence others’ perceptions of that identity must be included in that right; a description of what it might mean to be transgender and to whom the term refers; an analysis of sex, gender, and the distinctions between the two; a look at the gender binary system and some of the social and legal consequences for living outside of it; and the importance of the birth certificate as both a legal document and an element of one’s public identity.
Dunn, James, "The Loss of Liberty" (Paper session #3)
At its core, a libertarian capitalist society claims to hold the preservation of its citizen’s liberties to be paramount. The problem is that sometimes liberty and capitalism can get in each other’s way and one has to be sacrificed for the sake of preserving the other. In this paper, I am defending G.A. Cohen’s claim that “libertarian capitalism sacrifices liberty to capitalism.” That is, I hope to show that under such a system centered on the preservation of liberty (such as the one described in Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia) liberty is the aspect that ends up being sacrificed for the sake of capitalism.
Dwyer, Brendan,"The Pursuit of Power: Transcendence and Oppression" (Paper session #3)
In The Second Sex, Beauvoir criticized how females were societally and systemically oppressed throughout history by oppressive male-created gender constructs, values, and roles. Beauvoir, thus, felt that women had less power than men and were trapped in immanence unable to transcend and viewed as the Other, an object instead of a subject. Throughout the book, Beauvoir’s views on men and their role in the oppression of women are quite nuanced. Are men happy transcending oppressors? How much power do men actually have? Are men capable of true transcendence, or are they fooled by an illusion of transcendence, an illusion fueled by the objectification and oppression of women? In reality, are men oppressed? In my paper, I analyze and evaluate Beauvoir’s arguments regarding the relationship between men and women to determine Beauvoir’s view of the oppression and suffering of men through close analysis of The Second Sex. I then argue that both men and women suffer greatly due to the objectification of both sexes by social constructs and gender norms, the struggle for dominance over the other sex, and the inability of either sex to treat the other as a subject and not an object.
Elkin, Matthew, "Hume's New Philosophy of Man" (Paper session #1)
Scholars often read Hume’s philosophy as either radically skeptical or empirical. Hume’s radical skepticism threatens to invalidate his empirical claims. Paul Russell’s account of Hume’s philosophy in the Treatise seeks to reconcile Hume’s radical skepticism with his empiricism by softening Hume’s skepticism by focusing on it as a struggle against religious belief. This is a limited solution because it does not take on the full implications of Hume’s skepticism. This paper concludes through an analysis of the Enquiry that Hume creates a new conception of philosophy that is in line with human nature, unlike the works of other philosophers. This philosophy of man works within the limits of human understanding set by human nature, using radical skepticism as a constructive force to improve empirical processes, rather than as a destructive force against them.
Enenajor, Gilbert, "Kant's Implicit Suggestion of the Negative Formulation of Duty" (Paper session #3)
In this paper I argue that in Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals Kant suggests that while I can never know when I am acting from duty, I can know when I am not acting from duty. In this paper I neither reconcile Kant’s imperatives with his statement that we will never know if we are definitely acting on his maxims, nor do I mount an argument against his perfectionist ideal theory. Instead I propose a negative formulation of his perfectionist ideal theory that argues Kant implicitly suggests I can only know when I am not acting from duty. First, I describe how the conditions of moral worth which Kant outlines make it so that I can never definitely know if I am acting from duty. I then take these conditions and show that Kant indirectly suggests that I can, however, know when I am not acting from duty. Specifically I examine the conditions Kant places on moral actions viz. the relationship inclinations and duty have with the moral worth of an action. Next, I provide a non-exhaustive refutation of potential arguments against my negative formulation proposition. Finally I discuss the implications of my negative formulation proposition on Kant’s perfectionist ideal theory as a whole.
Ershbock, Edward Joseph, "Unique Historical Entities: The Ethics of Extinction in Code and Essence" (Paper session #3)
Categorical thinking is pervasive. As one philosophy teacher once noted, “everyone in this room is likely a Kantian and doesn't even know it”, this has become the basis of everything from ethics to feminist ideology and many forms of scientific inquiry. The concepts I present in this paper are within step of philosophers such as Deleuze, Delanda, Aristotle, Kant, Spinoza, and even Bergson. The idea that unique historical entities (those entities which are unique in the sense that they have a definite beginning and a definite potential end) can be, through the lens of a realist/materialist approach of morphogenetic intensities, be given an ethical standing in the context of a interrelated and contingent life world not for itself but in itself as that which perceives the value of each particular in its non-linear framework of meaning rather than through transcendent categorical imperatives. In this sense I would like to call upon the concept of unique historical entities to preserve the immanence of the concrete and save particulars from the trash heap of the western world's steady degradation of the multiple.
Espinoza, Reyes, "Railton's Moral Properties and Sinclair's Critique of Them" (Paper session #4)
The field of Ethics in philosophy is confusing for many, even those having worked in the field a few years. Thus, the field of Meta-ethics may be even more confusing. Meta-ethics, in a nutshell, is arguing about how to argue about Ethics. A question to ask in this field is what are moral properties? That is, what makes claims about morality true or false? Peter Railton takes them to be naturalistic properties (facts in the natural and social sciences) that play an explanatory role in empirical theories. Railton’s ethical naturalism is one such theory of morality. Here I will focus on an objection to Railton’s theory. Neil Sinclair claims that instrumentally rational people might sometimes not agree with Railton’s definition of moral rightness; moral rightness being identical with satisfying the objective interests of a group of people. Based on this, Sinclair argues, one should reject Railton’s claim that moral properties are identical with facts in the natural and social sciences. My argument allows for exceptions in Railton’s theory such that it preserves his definition of moral rightness and allows for instrumentally rational agents to sometimes disagree with his definition of moral rightness.
Ezell, Brice, "Only Utter Darkness Can Be Likened to Light: A Comparative Analysis of Deathspell Omega's Metaphysical Satanism and the Cārvāka Darśana" (Paper session #1)
This paper presents a philosophical analysis of metaphysical Satanism, a view espoused by the enigmatic French black metal band Deathspell Omega. I compare the rise of their metaphysical Satanism to the materialism of the Cārvāka darśana, a school of Indian philosophy that, like Deathspell Omega, came to be as a result of a sort of “politics as first philosophy.” Though both philosophies come to very divergent conclusions—one adopts a religious Satanism, the other a skepticist materialism—their rise from expressly political scenarios reveal some surprising philosophical parallels, revealing a fascinating connection between movements spread apart by thousands of years. After analyzing these political contexts, I briefly examine the views of the self that derive from both schools of thought.
Flaster, Aaron, "The Problem of the Criterion and Sosa's Virtue Epistemology" (Paper session #3)
The Problem of the Criterion arises from two plausible intuitions: first, belief sources (such as testimony and perception) should be reliable. Second, a person should be justified in believing that the source is reliable before it can produce justified beliefs. The problem is that these intuitions create a vicious circularity and lead to skepticism. The circularity arises from the priority relation between justified beliefs about a source and justified beliefs produced by a source. Oftentimes, the only way to have justified beliefs about the reliability of a source is to use that very source. For instance, the only way to acquire justified beliefs about the reliability of testimony may be to use other instances of testimony. But that is circular. In this paper, I apply The Problem of Criterion to testimony and argue that Ernest Sosa’s virtue epistemology offers a solution.
Garrett, Zachary , "An Explanation of Complete Colocation of Indiscernibles" (Paper session #4)
The Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles (PII) claims that objects that share all of the same properties are the same object. If this claim is denied, then, as is commonly believed, the denier must accept the possibility of objects completely overlapping in space. Michael Della Rocca argues that this possibility is absurd, and therefore PII should be accepted. He claims that the problem with colocated objects lies in the inexplicability of the distinctness of the objects. This inexplicability, he argues, is contrary to the brute fact method of demonstrating the distinctness of objects in counterexamples to PII. Without any other method for demonstrating distinctness of qualitatively indiscernible objects deniers of PII are simply begging the question when they posit the possibility of distinct indiscernibles. I argue in this paper that a clear understanding of the different ways that objects can be colocated removes the counterintuitiveness of colocation, and thereby supports the denial of PII.
Gilstrap, David, "Philosophy of Mind: (Psycho-)Functionalism" (Paper session #3)
In this paper I will be analyzing and critiquing Functionalism, specifically Psychofunctionalism (what Ned Block defines as a type of Functionalism that regards functional analyses as substantive scientific hypotheses). The paper will be broken down into five basic sections; each section working towards the fulfillment of a specific objective: (1) In the first section I will be looking to Hillary Putnam, in his essay The Nature of Mental States, for assistance in clarifying what is being asked when the [materialist] philosopher of mind inquires into the nature of a mental state. (2) In the second section I will be providing some general information intended to acquaint the reader with a general understanding of Functionalist theories. (3) In the third section I will be instantiating two models of Psychofunctionalism; one historic and the other contemporary, viz Aristotle’s De Anima and Putnam’s Machine Functionalism. (4) In the fourth section I will be critiquing Psychofunctionalism by way of Block’s Absent Qualia Argument. (5) In the fifth and final section I will conclude the paper by saying whether or not Psychofunctionalism is tenable in light of the objections raised in the fourth section.
Gittrich, Zachary, "Nietzsche's Down Going" (Paper session #3)
Heidegger makes the claim that all of Western history has been nihilism based on his interpretation of Nietzsche. The question this essay seeks to address is whether Nietzsche himself is included in this history, or does he overcome nihilism. Heidegger states that Nietzsche is the end of nihilism, but that he does not escape nihilistic thought. My goal is to defend Nietzsche by showing that, though nihilistic in some of his early thought, he indeed overcomes nihilism in his later period with the will to power and the eternal recurrence of the same. With these two principles in mind, Nietzsche envisions a “perspectival” thinking with the hope of bringing all humanity out of nihilism.
Gomes, Sam, "It's All In Your Head" (Paper session #4)
The Paradox of Nonbeing is an ancient paradox that has led many philosophers--notably Alexius Meinon – to claim that dubious entities such as unicorns and round squares exist. However, Bertrand Russell has devised a “Method of Paraphrase” which allegedly absolves this paradox. Nevertheless, Roderick Chisholm has asserted that the Method of Paraphrase fails in several ways, and thus one must accept a Meinonesque ontology. This essay has three main sections. The first section begins by explaining the Paradox of Nonbeing and Russell’s Method of Paraphrase, then goes on to expound Chisholm’s objection against the Method of Paraphrase and briefly outlines Meinon’s ontology as an example of what accepting the Paradox of Nonbeing results in. In the second section the validity of the Paradox of Nonbeing is evaluated, as is the ability of the Method of Paraphrase to absolve it. Here the Paradox of Nonbeing will be shown valid, and one (though not both) of Chisholm’s objections against the Method of Paraphrase will be shown to successfully invalidate the Method of Paraphrase. The final section--in working with the consequential acceptance of the Paradox of Nonbeing – suggests that the nature of the existence of beings such as centaurs and round squares is purely mental. In doing so, I explain what is meant by this, and attest that any subject of predication necessarily has a mental existence.
Goyette-Levac, Laurent, "Wittgenstein between Scylla and Charybdis" (Paper session #3)
In this essay I will argue that the ideas concerning knowledge developed by Wittgenstein in his book On Certainty (OC) are closely related to those about language in the Philosophical Investigations (PI). More specifically I will defend that in these two texts Wittgenstein is providing accounts of language and knowledge that are aimed at escaping what is in his opinion the two principal chimeras of philosophy: realism and skepticism. To do so, I will begin by a brief account of the main ideas expressed in OC. Then, I will explain the how rule-following argument in PI connects directly to Wittgenstein’s discussion of knowledge. Finally, I will demonstrate that the conception of language and knowledge as a shared social practice allows Wittgenstein to keep his philosophy consistent while he navigates tightly between the Scylla of skepticism and the Charybdis of realism.
Graham, Spencer Kingman, "Philosophical Investigations as Aphoristic Rhizome: A Wittgensteinian Way" (Paper session #3)
In an attempt to move beyond traditional conceptions of axiom and aphorism, this essay applies the lens of Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of the rhizome, as explored in A Thousand Plateaus and What is Philosophy?, to the compositional style and structure of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. This line of inquiry leads to an application of certain elements of Wittgenstein’s concept of language, as laid out in the Investigations, to the Investigations themselves, and ultimately, drawing on Pierre Hadot’s What is Ancient Philosophy?, the analysis finds an understanding of the Investigations as an instance of philosophical discourse directed toward a particular philosophical way of life.
Ha, Donny, "Emotion, Empathy, and the Question of Moral Motivation" (Paper session #4)
Proponents of psychological egoism claim that humans are only motivated to perform moral acts by concern for self-interest. They say, for example, that people do not give to charity out of any genuine concern for others. They only do so to enhance their public image or to enjoy a tax deduction etc. Conversely, people do not abstain from stealing because they care about how it affects others but because of the threat of punishment. This is a cynical view of human nature that does not necessarily square with experience. In this paper, I will show that humans are constituted with the capacity for empathy and emotions that in many cases lead them to moral behavior without any thought of self-interest.
Hall, Sterling,"The Immateriality of Consciousness and the Immanence of Thought: How Emergence Forces Us to Rethink Metaphysics" (Paper session #4)
This paper wishes to follow the injunction given to us from Badiou that philosophy shouldn’t dictate the progress in various fields that it’s coupled with (science, politics, etc.), and that it should instead be receptive to the ‘Events’ in these fields. This paper wishes to take the field of science called ‘Complexity Science’, specifically the idea of ‘Emergentism’ in it, as an Event that philosophy should be receptive to. In exploring this relatively new field, this paper wishes to draw the properly radical metaphysical conclusions that crop up from such an investigation. Thus this paper’s goal is two-fold: it wishes to explore Emergentism as an important new topic for philosophy, and it wishes to explore the new avenues of thought that this science opens up.
Hall, Thomas, "The Nowhere Argument" (Paper session #2)
In this paper I defend the possibility of presentist time travel from a familiar objection: that the presentist’s model of time simply offers nowhere to travel to. After exposing some misplaced scrutiny of the argument, I respond on behalf of the presentist by showing how they can mirror the traditional Lewisian-inspired account in a way that is friendly to presentist ontology. In light of this account, I argue that the objection fails.
Havener, Carly, "The Truly Extraordinary Man: An Examination of Conscience in The Fall and Crime and Punishment" (Paper session #4)
This essay examines the philosophical implications of conscience. Two specific novels are analyzed in relation to the topic of conscience. Raskolnikov’s theory of extraordinary men from Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment is compared and contrasted to Jean-Baptiste’s ideas of conscience represented in Camus’ The Fall. The essay discusses the moral implications of each theory. It also presents an idea of how conscience truly manifests itself in mankind and how it is apparent in each of the novels. The essay ends with an idea of how conscience plays a part in man’s telos and what this means for each of the characters discussed.
Havrila, Nicholas, "Novel Predictions: From Empiricism to Unificationism" (Paper session #4)
From Fresnel’s wave theory of light to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the use of novel predictions has a long history in the method of science. Since predictions concern empirical matters, associated models of the method are usually empiricist ones. However, much of the recent philosophy of science shows a lack of emphasis on novel predictions. The central reasons include the general thesis of underdetermination of theory by evidence and the marginalization of novelty to a narrower issue in theory assessment, the prediction-accommodation distinction. In particular, novelty has become nothing more than code for methods classified as unificationist criteria of theory assessment. In this paper, I will extend Harker’s criticisms to a broader history of novel predictions in philosophy of science. I will then suggest a philosophy of science rooted in empiricist ideas, new experimentalism, to recontextualize novel predictions and their epistemological role. I do so in hopes rehabilitating novel predictions as the core of empirical methods. The literature known as new experimentalism offers a particularly promising context for attempting this because it concerns itself with empirical progress as analyzed through the many epistemic values of experiments. The guiding theme of new experimentalism is the theory-independence of experimental phenomena. Thus, it bypasses all unificatory methods and extra-empirical tools of theoretical science. Through this, I aim to provide a basic characterization of novel prediction as experimental interventions, contrary to its current unificationist formulations.
Heise, Ric,"A Critical Reflection on the Federal Scheduling of Cannabis: The Madness about Reefer" (Paper session #4)
The legal status of Cannabis has been widely debated in North American politics for decades. Recent Legislative changes in Colorado and Washington seem to draw attention to the question: ‘Why is Cannabis Illegal?’ The answer frequently given is that Cannabis is illegal to protect us from some possible harm. One imagines there would have to be good reasons given to paternalistically restrict autonomy in that fashion. If such good reasons do not exist, then such a proscription on liberty ought to be as prohibited as the substance once was. In this paper I examine the three criteria that are given for the federal scheduling [Prohibition] of Cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act [CSA]. If these criteria are insufficient then the grounds for the continued proscription of Cannabis is also insufficient and must be ceased. The grounds given for proscription are that Cannabis must: 1 have a high potential for abuse, 2. have no accepted medical application, 3. lack acceptable risk under supervision. Using currently set precedence, and comparisons of Autonomy vs. Paternalism, I demonstrate these conditions insufficient for Cannabis’ current scheduling. As the conditions for Cannabis prohibition are insufficient, I conclude that the federal prohibition of Cannabis in the United States is a practice that ought to be terminated.
Henkel, Max, "Aristotle and the Search for Propositional Truth Claims in Literature" (Paper session #2)
The goal of this paper is to argue for the validity of propositional truth claims in literature. Using a theory of critical cognitivism which is adapted from Aristotle’s Poetics, I will argue that the mechanisms for verification of propositional truth claims are emotions. Emotions serve to make the reader aware of and invested in a fictional world which is not their own and are the method by which we recognize the value of assertions made in a work. I assert that mimetic literature has the capacity to emotionally engage with a reader in such a way that this engagement is personal and causes a paradigm shift in the reader’s worldview. I also posit that the truth propositions inherent in mimetic literature can only become knowledge for a reader after a period of reflection on the emotions which the work gave rise to. Finally, I will assert that Aristotle himself advanced this critical cognitivist approach to learning from fiction.
Henshaw, Katharine, "Embodied Art: A Merleau-Pontian Improvisation of Being in Theatre" (Paper session #2)
Maurice Merleau-Ponty, in Eye & Mind, lyrically links vision and painting as modes of embodying Being. He powerfully argues that humans are bodies (rather than minds in bodies, or minds and bodies) and that vision is the primary mode of our embodied engagement with the world. He suggests that in painting, the artist re-embodies in paint on canvas that which has been first embodied in the artist’s body though his or her sight. This paper suggests that an alternate art form, theater, provides a richer physical arena for the re-embodiment of Being. In live performance, actors, singers, and dancers offer their bodies as canvases, re-creating in voice, movement, time, and space the Being of the performed piece. These living re-creations are then embodied in the audience as they watch, in reciprocal emotion and physical sensation.
Hernandez, Matthew, "On the Influence of Custom: An Explanation for Religious Belief" (Paper session #1)
When asked why they believe in a god, many religious believers respond, “My religion makes more sense than all the others.” Previous writers have attributed this to the believer’s ignorance of other religions and even ignorance of their own tradition. Though such an explanation may be satisfying for some, others may desire an alternative explanation that does not assume ignorance on the part of the believer. This essay promotes such an alternative by arguing that social custom influences religious belief, causing many believers to think that their specific religion is more reasonable. In order to complete this task, an analysis of a passage from Mill’s On Liberty is used to frame the argument that religious believers think about their beliefs socially while thinking of other religions analytically. Finally, the essay examines the extent custom influences beliefs, and if changing the way we examine our beliefs can ultimately help us avoid falsity.
Jyothiprakash, Neema, "Gender and Division in Primitive Society" (Paper session #4)
The purpose of this paper is to use the theories of anarchist anthropologists Pierre Clastres and David Graeber whom argue that the primitive society, or society without a state, is fundamentally relevant to praxis in an egalitarian and democratic society, in order to critically discuss the role of gender and specifically, the phenomena of gendered violence in a society without a state. This paper argues that Clastres’ famous arguments about the totality, or lack of fundamental alienation in the primitive society, crack when we examine gendered violence as an unusual intervention in society. Graeber’s theories are used to partially correct Clastres, but ultimately to reveal that although basic insights about societies against a state are entirely relevant, they remain incomplete because they do not understand gendered violence as a linguistic intervention.
Kaufman, Jennifer, "The Body in Phaedo and Thus Spoke Zarathustra" (Paper session #2)
The accounts of the human body in Plato’s Phaedo and Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra are instrumental to each philosopher’s understanding of how to attain the better human life. This paper claims that each account involves a type of transcendence related to the body: for Plato, from the body, such that the body is overcome; and for Nietzsche, in the body, such that the body overcomes itself. Each type of transcendence derives from views of permanence and impermanence. While Plato emphasizes permanence, Nietzsche rejects the existence of permanence and emphasizes impermanence. As the existence of a permanent realm cannot be established and has no real bearing on our lives, it will be argued that Nietzsche’s form of transcendence offers a better guide for human development because it recognizes human immanence and embraces that immanence while attempting to overcome its limitations.
Klatt, Nathan, "Vocation and the Individual" (Paper session #1)
What does it mean for someone to have a vocation, or a calling? Is a calling something which all people have, or is it limited to a select few? How is it that one should go about discovering his calling, and why would doing this be of any importance? To answer these questions, I take a look at a number of different examples – both literary and historical – of people and their callings. I examine Augustine’s journey as described in his Confessions, the lives of Father Zosima and Ivan Karamazov in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and Socrates’ description of his calling as described in the Apology. Along with these examples, my paper utilizes a number of ideas about callings from writers such as Karl Barth, Simone Weil, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. From these examples and writings, I work to show that there are three different types of callings – the functional, the moral, and the particular – and that one who has truly found his vocation must follow both the functional and the moral calling. On top of this, I argue that one who has accepted the moral calling must be willing, should he be called, to accept a particular calling, which often involves tremendous suffering and possibly even death in service to a particular task. And, can following one’s calling be worth all of this? I hope to show through my paper that yes, it is worth it, and that one who wishes to find happiness in his work must come to adopt this view.
Lampert, Fabio, "Can We Believe Without Sufficient Evidence? The James/Clifford Quarrel and the Response of Alvin Plantinga" (Paper session #2)
This paper aims to be a brief discussion about the character of “evidentialism” in the discussion between William Clifford and William James. Known under the topic “the ethics of belief,” it discusses the problem of religious epistemology, specifically the status of the rationality of religious beliefs. After such discussion, we shall adduce in an introductory way Alvin Plantinga’s so-called “reformed epistemology” as a proper response to the problem of evidentialism.
Land, Gerard, "Resistance Is Futile" (Paper session #1)
We grow up being expected to become our own individual person. Along the way we are also expected to become educated and people of good virtue and to learn what it means to live within a society where we can help others. The problems of living by a theory of virtue in a society which puts a high value on individualism creates problems when we are expected to respect authority, and also try and be autonomous people of free will who are able to tell when we should act civilized, and yet we sometimes behave like moral midgets. Is it possible that resistance to authority is truly futile and we just witlessly follow all that we are told? Or do we follow, knowing that what we are doing is wrong, yet our upbringing to respect tells us that we should follow even though we risk causing health issues that may not be repairable in our minds? This is an attempt to try and understand why we occasionally behave in a way that is beyond our moral values and perform behaviors that we claim we would never do, or may appear to be beyond what others think is our true character. It is also an attempt to explore that perhaps the society and sometimes leader of the society may contribute to the moral misdirection of poor ethical decisions.
Laybourn-Candish, Aurora, "Ambiguity in Suspended Moments: The Subversive Image of Sacher Mosoch's Cruel Heroines" (Paper session #4)
In Sacher-Mashoch's work “Venus in Furs” the concept of the social construction of gender is surprisingly prevalent, Masoch himself invokes the Pygmalion myth in the beginning of the novel in a way that is both critical and very self-aware. Philosophers Simone de Beauvoir and Gilles Deleuze proceed to take up this myth in ways that are both complimentary and divergent to the earlier work of Masoch. Sacher-Masoch’s “beating women” never really acts, but is instead frozen in time. As she raises her hand she is transformed from subject to object. Herein lies the ambiguity of the relationship between the master and the slave. Within moments of suspended time exist instances of obscene silence where pain is inflicted on the women rather than inflicted by her; she is only in appearance the master. In this paper I will examine the ambiguity in the suspended moments in “Venus in Furs” exploring the difficulty of allocating roles to the master and slave this analysis will bring to the fore structures of power that underlie the meeting of two consciences.
Le Thien-Tin, "Pascal's Wager and Pragmatic Agnosticism " (Paper session #2)
Pascal’s Wager is an argument for why it is prudential—i.e. pragmatic—for libertines and agnostics to believe in God. Although it might be pragmatic for plain agnostics to believe in God, is it pragmatic for pragmatic agnostics to believe in God? In this essay, I argue that it is not pragmatic for pragmatic agnostics to believe in God.
Levkovskaya, Valeria, "The Living Mannequin: Woman into Sex Object" (Paper session #4)
This essay takes up the feminist problem of the persevering image of the woman as sex object and explores its roots in the lived experiences and education of women. The work of Simone de Beauvoir is used especially to highlight the longevity of the problem, and to bring traditionally ignored mid-20th century feminist thought, often dismissed as chauvinist, into conversation with 21st century feminist concerns. In discussion with more contemporary feminist writers, such as Debra Bergoffen and Wendy Burns-Ardolino, show how entrenched women’s self-objectification becomes over the course of her childhood education, during participation in adult social life, and continuous exposure to 21st century to consumption-oriented marketing. The collective forces of self-objectification are shown to overwhelm the possibilities for subjectivity affirmed through the body.
Lutz, Tyler, "Skirting the Singularity: Metalinguistic Regresses in the Tractatus" (Paper session #1)
The translation of statements in ordinary language into Frege's Begriffsschrift makes the logical structure of these statements—and hence of logic in general—manifest. I use this as a lens to understand Wittgenstein's notoriously confusing Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; I argue that Wittgenstein's text is designed to construct a first-order metalanguage into which we can translate other metalanguages in order to grasp the structure of language in general. The paper first makes the case for why Wittgenstein seems to be doing this and then assesses the theoretical strengths and limitations of such a strategy, and finally evaluates the merit of Wittgenstein's specific implementation of this strategy.
Mansoor, Amena, "Restorative Justice Is a Form of Rehabilitative Justice" (Paper session #3)
Punishment is a consequence of a wrongful act given to the wrongdoer. Often times, punishment is given due to justice but without considering what is just. This paper is written to explain how the restorative justice is a form of rehabilitative punishment and incorporating it into our legal system is will be beneficial. This paper begins by defining the meaning of justice. Next, the reasons for punishment are explored. Finally, the notion of restorative justice is explained.
Markovčič, Andrej, "A Reconciliation of Nietzsche's Call to Action and Rejection of the Will" (Paper session #3)
Nietzsche is notorious for the seemingly abundant contradictions throughout his philosophical works. In this paper I seek to address the apparent inconsistency between his appeal to the free individual and the consequences of his own fatalistic worldview. I examine the implications of his call for us to become what we are, and the difficulty this presents to both a libertarian and deterministic outlook. This investigation reveals that Nietzsche, quite characteristically, fits into neither camp, but rather rejects the concept of the will entirely. Finally, I conclude by considering how this might affect the way in which we approach and understand Nietzsche’s work as a whole.
Marrone, Stephen, "Losing the Forest for the Trees: The Parallel Aims of Heidegger and Ordinary Language Philosophy" (Paper session #2)
In the present inquiry, I explore this distinction and seek to bridge the gap between the goals of ordinary language philosophy and the early work of Martin Heidegger. I advance the position that while OLP and Heidegger may at first seem worlds apart, both projects share a common task of “laying bare the horizon” for philosophical discourse. I claim that at the heart of the work of OLP and Heidegger is a clearing away of the rhetoric, the presuppositions, and the confusing associations that make it arduous to get to the bottom of the most difficult philosophical problems. Through a close analysis of the work of J.L. Austin and Gilbert Ryle in comparison with Heidegger, I elucidate the similarities – while respecting the differences - in the method, goals, and ultimate aims of each. From this discussion, I hope to shed light on how reading OLP and Heidegger in terms of each other can deepen our understanding of both. This discussion will also explore when the creation of technical, and often times bewildering terminology is necessary and useful. How do we explain that for which we have no words? Our task ahead is then to understand the ways in which OLP and Heidegger successfully unearth the foundational philosophical concepts from which all other problems derive – for OLP; the meaning of words, for Heidegger, the meaning of Being. How does each keep sight of the forest in the trees, and lay bare the fertile soil for philosophical discourse and discovery?
McGinn, Mark, "Instrumentalism and Poetic Thinking: A Critique of Dewey's Logic of Thought" (Paper session #4)
In his Essays in Experimental Logic, John Dewey contends that philosophers have traditionally placed too great an emphasis on the processes of reflection and inquiry themselves, without considering the non-reflective context in which thought is situated. If this context is recognized in its full import, reflection and inquiry are found to occupy an “intermediate and mediating” position in the temporal development of experience. They are found, that is, to be instrumental. In the “Exposition” section of my paper, I examine and expand on this thesis of Dewey’s. In the “Critique” section, I offer a critique of his theory. Dewey requires that thought effect a physical alteration of the conditions of experience through an experimental act, the results of which retrospectively determine the legitimacy of thought. Missing from his account, however, is an explanation of the significant alteration of experience brought about by more aesthetic forms of thinking, which do not effect—nor intend to effect—any kind of physical alteration. I therefore propose that poetic thinking be invoked as a necessary supplement to instrumental thinking. In this way one avoids the pitfalls that inevitably crop up when the latter is taken to account for all forms of philosophical thought.
Molas, Andrew, "Discussing the Issue of Informed Consent in Relation to Surrogacy Contracts" (Paper session #1)
This paper explores the nature of the legal doctrine of informed consent, particularly, in relation to the legitimacy of surrogacy contracts. By focusing on the Baby M case, it examines Lori B. Andrews’ argument that the doctrine of informed consent does apply to surrogacy contracts since, like other medical procedures, a woman’s consenting to becoming a surrogate mother requires her to be aware of the potential risks so that she can make an informed, conscientious decision. As a result, Andrews feels that surrogacy contracts should be upheld legally—contrary to the New Jersey Supreme Court’s ruling in February 1988—since the kind of consent given is sufficiently similar to the consent given in other medical procedures.
Murphy, Zachary, "Education: An Additional Role of the State in Abating Poverty within Hegel's Philosophy of Right" (Paper session #4)
In The Philosophy of Right, Hegel discusses poverty as the state of lacking the satisfaction of either natural or social needs. In this context, natural needs are things like food without which no person can live. Social needs are the arbitrary conventions that one is required to meet in order to be respected by society as an equal person. Hegel argues that the state has an obligation to help the impoverished meet these needs. However, usual methods such as charity and work programs fail to address the underlying failure to truly meet social needs. In this paper I argue that there is an additional role the state may play within Hegel's system of right in performing its obligation to the impoverished: using education to make society at large mindful of the arbitrariness of social convention, in essence satisfying social needs by removing them from necessity.
Nixon II, Calvin, "Judith Butler: Living Gender Authentically in Ambiguity and Freedom" (Paper session #3)
The aim of this paper is to reveal how gender is a representation of freedom and how one can live authentically in ambiguity within an existential structure. Traditional feminists have held that gender is the social and cultural meanings which one attaches to sex bodies. Thus, our model of gender requires a partner concept of sex as natural. Judith Butler refutes these claims and believes gender to be an internalized essence in which a person outwardly performs through a ritual of acts. This is known as gender performativity. To openly “breathe” one’s gender is liberating and qualifies for an ambiguous authentic existence. Butler validates her theory of gender by using Simone De Beauvoir’s existentialism as a guide. Beauvoir believes freedom is at the root of the human condition and enables one to make meaning within their ambiguous existence to live authentically. In doing so, Beauvoir differentiates between two attitudes: the serious and aesthetic. I discuss how the modern fashion industry reinforces the serious attitude of living in inauthenticity, and how the aesthetic attitude is the start of living genuinely. Then, I dedicate special attention to how one is to evaluate gender pragmatically and in a phenomenological sense.
Orlander, Sebastian, "Value Theory for Virtue Ethics: Rational, Objective, and Human Criteria" (Paper session #4)
This paper is an attempt at framing Virtue Ethics in a manner that it is not derivative of either deontological or utilitarian ethics. The purpose in doing this is to avoid certain pitfalls in the other two approaches, and the argument hinges on a holistic treatment of values in a social community, as well as the role of practical rationality as the means to edify such a system. There follows an examination of John Dancy and John McDowell’s work on this, with a critical perspective on where these clarifications have currency, and where these fall short.
Petach, Luke, "The Vedic Order: A Foucauldian Framework of Interpretation for Indian Philosophy" (Paper session #1)
This paper attempts to show how a Foucauldian perspective recasts Indian philosophical concepts in a way that allows Western philosophers inside the Indian philosophical discourse without damaging the integrity of Indian philosophies. Western philosophers can thus use the similarities between Foucault and Indian philosophy as a means for developing a truer understanding of Indian philosophical concepts in the West. In the following paper I will expound upon the ways that the work of Foucault provides entry for Western philosophers into the Indian philosophical discourse, as well as show how—through similarities to Foucault—Indian philosophical arguments are elucidated and enhanced.
Pillsbury, Christopher, "The Problem of Non-Being" (Paper session #4)
The aim of this paper is to present the problem of non-being and show how over the course of time different thinkers have had different views on how to solve it. I will first discuss W. V. O. Quine’s view on the problem and how he anticipates counter arguments to his claims and then defends them. Also, addressing how he leans on Bertrand Russell’s theory of descriptions to try and solve the problem. Then, I will bring up how Roderick Chisholm disagrees with Quine’s view and how he leans on Alexius Meinong’s ontology as a foundation to support his claim which ultimately leads to his rejection of the solution to the problem of non-being not being done by the method of paraphrase.
Pratt, Michael, "Redefining the Class of Qualitative States: A Reply to Shoemaker" (Paper session #1)
The so-called qualia-type objections to functionalism seem to imply that some qualitative states are not functionally definable (or identical to some functional state type). In “Functionalism and Qualia,” Sydney Shoemaker concedes that functionalists can allow for some types of mental states to be functionally undefinable without committing themselves to a view that cannot account for the class qualitative states. If qualitative states are construed as a relation of qualitative similarity, Shoemaker argues that qualia are functionally definable, and thus do not pose a serious problem for functionalists. In this paper I argue that (i) if cases of absent-qualia are possible, then Shoemaker’s reconciliation fails, and (ii) even if his reconciliation succeeds in functionally defining the class of qualitative states tailored to visual experiences, it still fails to account for qualitative states that exist independently from functional characterization.
Reinhardt, Charles, "Aristotle, Augustine, and Four-Dimensionalism: A View of Time" (Paper session #2)
This paper will present an argument stating that time exists only if rational, material beings exist. It will do so in three parts: the first part will logically lay out the argument as well as give brief explanations as to why the premises should be believed; the second part will pose objections to one of the premises; the third part will respond to the objections. The argument of the paper is based on arguments about time presented by Aristotle, Augustine, and modern four-dimensionalists and carries with it certain assumptions made by these philosophers: (1) Everything that is known by experience is experienced only by rational, material beings; (2) Time is known by experience; (3) Therefore, time is experienced only by rational, material beings; (4) Time only exists if it is experienced by something that exists; (5) Therefore, time only exists if rational, material beings exist.
Richardson, Chelsea, "A Critique of Modern Agriculture and Its Effects on Personhood" (Paper session #2)
This paper outlines ways in which the alienated labor conditions of capitalism and certain technological applications in industrial agriculture contribute to the diminishing of one’s personhood through the production and consumption of industrial food. Personhood is defined as a person’s capacity to produce and consume food. The works of Karl Marx and Albert Borgmann are instrumental to the conclusions of this essay. Ultimately, the combination of Marx’s and Borgmann’s theories allow me to argue that a diminished form of personhood is the consequence of a food practice which encompasses the production and consumption of food using industrial agriculture.
Ross, Allison, "Contemplating Kant's Ethical Conundrum: An Intersectional Approach to Autonomous Moral Decision-Making" (Paper session #3)
This paper will challenge the Kantian account of autonomous moral decision-making. Kant’s definition of autonomy, I argue, is excessively narrow and does not place sufficient importance on the contextual factors which one encounters when attempting to act as an ethical agent in the empirical realm. An intersectional view of autonomous moral decision-making such as that put forth by Meyers takes these considerations more fully into account. By way of a case study, I will show how application of Kant’s definition generates seemingly irresolvable conflicts. Then, though application of an intersectional definition of autonomy, I will demonstrate how this alternative moral reasoning system allows for a more holistic understanding of individuals and the multiplicity of factors which shape and influence their situations and choices.
Rowley, Jordan, "A Rehabilitation of Berkeley's Criticism of the Calculus" (Paper session #1)
The advent of infinitesimal calculus in the 18th century sparked criticisms that took issue with the very logical foundations of mathematics. George Berkeley raised concerns against the calculus that deserve much more merit than what contemporary authors give them. Douglas Jesseph interprets Berkeley's attack on calculus as an argument that the lines of reasoning underscoring the calculus admit of contradictory assumptions. Mikhail Katz and David Sherry, in proposing a Leibnizian rebuttal against Berkeley, attack Jesseph in claiming that there are no contradictory assumptions in the calculus, but instead there are assumptions conditioned by axiomatic but heuristic principles, namely, Leibniz's Transcendental Law of Homogeneity. I shall argue that Berkeley's criticism of the calculus has notable but overlooked merit through its affirmation that mathematical demonstration requires conservation of definition. Later developments of the calculus, especially those undergone by Leonard Euler, reformulated the premises of calculation in ways that are responsive to the kinds of concerns that Berkeley raises against the Leibnizian calculus. Kenneth Winkler's interpretation of Berkeley's principle of demonstration, when combined with Jesseph's position, allows Berkeley to reject the conditioned assumptions in the calculus, and hence refute the claim made by Katz and Sherry against Berkeley.
Sagendorph, Melissa, "The Absence and Becoming of God" (Paper session #3)
From a western standpoint, there is little ambiguity in our collective notion of God as an active force in the destiny of mankind. However, in this paper I argue that God is more accurately a figure constituted by the enactment of a complex interactive process of absence and becoming, clearly explicated in the works of Friedrich Nietzsche and later commentaries by Michel Foucault. This paper attempts a critical excavation of Nietzsche’s descriptive proclamation that “God is dead” in an attempt to reveal a more accurate conception of how God manifests His being, and how our dynamic relationship with God defines His essence. Moreover, this paper defies the notion of God as retaining an independent being outside of humankind, and argues that humanity is fundamentally necessary for God to undergo His own process of “self-overcoming” as described by Nietzsche.
Salomon, Aaron, "Where Is the Limit to Abduction's Explanatory Power?" (Paper session #1)
Abduction, also known as, inference to the best explanation, is employed in factual and normative inquiry. In this paper, I answer the question: where is the limit to abduction’s explanatory power? To answer this question, I examine Hobbes’s Leviathan and Descartes’s Discourse on Method. I compare Hobbes’s empirical beliefs about human psychology and Descartes’s micro mechanical explanations with Hobbes’s discussion of religion. As a result of this analysis, I argue that there is at least one case where religion is the limit to abduction’s explanatory power, and that case is Hobbes’s discussion of religion.
Saniukovich, Olga, "Romanticism vs. Kierkegaard's Rotation Method: Which Is the Better Method to Self-Discovery?" (Paper session #4)
The Romantic thought and Søren Kierkegaard’s writing under the pseudonym A both were categorized as philosophy of “artists,” and yet advocated rather different approaches towards an individual’s true self-discovery. In this paper, I will focus on the aesthetics of the self, pitting the two arguments against each other. I will examine both artists’ notions for the “true” method of finding the self and present their arguments, but ultimately establish that Kierkegaard’s Rotation Method, while still not the perfect method to self-knowledge and self-actualization, is the better of the two. The Romantic notion that one must abstract themselves from society in order to find one’s true self is dangerous and ultimately unfulfilling. Kierkegaard’s view that one must constantly pursue many different interests in order to become a well-rounded, and thus self-aware, individual is a more suitable, and thus the better, argument.
Scherer, Jason, "Circumstantial Violence and The Other: An Application of J.P. Sartre's Other in Social Violence" (Paper session #4)
Social violence affects individuals even when they are not directly subject to physical harm. This paper applies the phenomenological school of philosophy to violence and identifies when members are subject to psychological harm within a community during the absence of a direct physical threat. Our interpretation of the Other illuminates how individuals inhibit one another’s occupation in a violence-free community. The dark alley is a place in society where people become vulnerable to harm and sometimes we avoid it even when we only perceive the alley as dangerous. The alley is dangerous when it is occupied by an Other with harmful intent, in this paper we utilize the unique properties of the alley as a social institution which can be furthered through an understanding of Jean P. Sartre’s Other. The darkness is vulnerability and “hell is other people.”
Siden, Rachel, "When Is a Suicide Good?" (Paper session #3)
The debate between whether suicide is a moral or immoral act typically focuses on the ways in which suicide is either ethical or unethical. But because the voices of these debates have such different opinions on what would make a suicide ethical, they continue to disagree. However, I argue that with suicide, the conflict does not arise from different perceptions of ethicality. Instead, these groups have the same standards for the what would cause a suicide to be considered ethical, but differ on how the particulars of a suicide should be interpreted. In this paper, I will examine how suicide is perceived ethically in American culture with a focus on how those perceptions change when the age of the victim changes. This will demonstrate how the victim’s rationality and quality of life left to live will influence how a suicide is viewed by others, and that the real disagreement on the ethicality of suicide is based on different standards of rationality and quality of life.
Skrzat, Christine, "Autonomy Issues among Elderly Patients: The Authenticity of Informed Consent" (Paper session #1)
The United State’s emphasis on prescription medications over the past decade has more than doubled. This trend is affecting not only a patient’s physical status, but also their ability to give informed consent by threatening one’s personal autonomy which, I believe, is available only though a process of internal reflection. There are many obstacles that specifically elderly patients face which inhibit one’s abilities to internally reflect on one’s desires for more prescription medications, such as cultural pressures, yet, there are few standards which protect one’s internal reflection. I have looked explained the importance of autonomy in informed consent situations using Harry Frankfurt’s theory. I then assess elderly patients’ unique advantages and challenges when it comes to giving authentic informed consent.
Strynatka, Christina, "Penelope Maddy's Second Philosophy: Another Interpretation of Logical Truth" (Paper session #3)
The topic of logical truth has been around in various forms, from Aristotle in Ancient Greece to modern day philosophers such as Bertrand Russell and Noam Chomsky, but it was truly Ludwig Wittgenstein who revolutionized contemporary logic by grounding it in our linguistic system. Penelope Maddy, who wrote decades after Wittgenstein, has further modernised the notion of logical truth by combining the philosophical works of Immanuel Kant, Gottlob Frege with the psychology of Jean Piaget. By doing so, she takes the results of experiments performed on children by Piaget and uses Kantian and Fregian terminology to explain her interpretation of what it means to hold a logical truth, such as whether it is the object that holds truth or if it is the subject that determines the truth of the object at which they look. Taking one chapter from her book, Second Philosophy, I will compare and contrast where she agrees with Wittgenstein and from where she deviates in an effort to find a common ground between the two in the search for logical truth.
Thurston, Kevin, "Money, Market, and State: Dichotomizing Forums for Private and Political Speech" (Paper session #2)
This essay is an attempt to dichotomize situations in which money may or may not be considered a form of speech. In the market, money is a medium of exchange that carries an individual’s private wants and preferences into the market. However, money’s ability to speak for the individual is dictated entirely by spatial and temporal circumstances within the market, while symbolic political expressions such as flag burning carry messages more persistent across situations and actors. Furthermore, decisions in the marketplace are inherently different than those in the political state, as indicated by individuals re-ordering their private preferences in preparation for entering the social decision calculus. Given these factors, a proper distinction between monetary speech in the marketplace and symbolic speech in the political state is warranted.
Ueberroth, Jordan, "Possible Parthood and Modal-Mereological Composition" (Paper session #2)
I argue that, if we take the world-time parallel seriously, then those who support Sider’s (2001) argument for unrestricted diachronic composition (UDC), establishing the existence of temporal parts, should also hold that its modal analogue, my argument for unrestricted modal composition (UMC), establishes the existence of modal parts. I formulate the latter argument and develop it by testing it against objections.
Uldricks, Hillary, "Beauvoir Contra Sartre: Inter-Subjective Existentialist Ethics as a Critique to Hyper-Individuality" (Paper session #3)
In this paper I explore the implications of assigning an individualistic ontological status to a person as opposed to assigning an inter-subjective, or relational ontological status to a person. I argue there is a direct link between the ontological status of an individual and the articulation of ethics and values made by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. The implications of an individualistic ontological status are: solipsism, objectification of others, and relevancy. In this paper I argue assigning an inter-subjective ontological status to the individual remedies the problems created in an absolutely Subject oriented worldview.
Van Barriger, Richard, "Idealism and Pragmatism: 'Transcending Validity Claims' in Habermas's Democratic Society" (Paper session #4)
In her recent article “Realism and Idealism: Was Habermas's Communicative Turn a Move in the Wrong Direction?” Maeve Cooke examines the evolution of Jürgen Habermas’s thought over the past five decades. According to Cooke, Habermas’s so-called “communicative turn” was a necessary step in his philosophy’s systematic attempt to derive a universal norm from the immanent context of human practices and institutions. In her opinion, however, Habermas is unable to uphold his pragmatically-based claim to “transcendence from within” without encountering problems of epistemic justification when it comes to his theory’s treatment of normative validity claims. Cooke believes that despite Habermas’ exhaustive efforts, any political theory that discredits the possibility of metaphysical truth inevitably relinquishes the “context-transcending moment” that his idea of validity is meant to capture. In this essay, I examine how Habermasian philosophy attempts to assimilate such criticisms by deriving its normative ideals from the Theory of Communicative Action. In conclusion, I seek to characterize the dilemma thusly: the epistemic criticism raised by Cooke places her in the unenviable position of defending metaphysically-justified validity claims- a pitfall that Habermas’ theory is designed to avoid.
Verma, Sanjeev, "Agency: Killing and Letting Die" (Paper session #3)
The moral distinction between killing and letting die is of great philosophical significance, especially in the realm of medical ethics; it has not only been the foundation of many contemporary ethical treatments of abortion and euthanasia, but has also even been dismissed forthright as impertinent to the issues of abortion and euthanasia. In the context of Philippa Foot’s Killing and Letting Die (1984), I am focused on exploring her methodology for distinguishing between cases that resemble killing from those that resemble letting die in terms of the types of agency we enact, and their moral foundations in the rights and duties we hold. After presenting this methodology, I defend Foot in light of the criticisms offered by Jeff McMahan in Killing, Letting Die, and Withdrawing Aid (1994). Finally, I conclude that considerations of agency do indeed provide a strong, morally relevant basis for the distinction between killing and letting die, indeed, with applicability to the more specific issues of abortion and euthanasia.
Walker, Yolanda, "Machine Functionalism: Brains as Computing Machines" (Paper session #1)
Machine functionalism, or, the computational theory of mind, states that the inner workings of the brain are akin to the information processing of a computer. There are numerous faults with this view. Not only are computers inaccurate models for brain states, but also consciousness--as understood as generating appropriate (behavior) outputs to corresponding inputs--can’t be generated through mechanical means.
Winn, Jay, "Memory as Motion: A Perceptual Account of Memory" (Paper session #3)
Noë in Action in Perception rebuffs an internalist argument from dreams as to why perception is inside the head. However, this is a weak argument. In essence, Noë may be guilty of a straw man argument Memories appear to be better candidates for internal representational states because they appear to be a part of perceptual experience. This paper argues that memory is a sensorimotor skill. It compares memory to other sensory motor skills in neural correlates and brain activity, learning strategies and rates, finally grounding memories in bodily movements and motions as associated to objects and events.
Yanke, Greg, "Paying for Past Sins: Climate Change and Compensatory Justice" (Paper session #3)
Ethical claims regarding the obligation of developed countries to pay developing countries for the impact of their greenhouse gas emissions are usually based on the principle of compensatory justice. However, framing the moral obligations of developed countries in terms of compensation for past emissions is problematic due to the complicated temporal and causal aspects of climate change. Identifying climate change offenders and victims is difficult due to changing emission trends, large differences between aggregate and per capita emissions in many countries, and obstacles to proving that climate change damage has occurred and to quantifying it. Principles such as distributive justice or luck egalitarianism that require developed countries to alleviate the suffering of those who are less fortunate through no fault of their own my better explain our moral intuitions. Climate change may only be morally relevant to the extent that it increases the incidence of poverty.
Yaure, Philip, "Evolutionary Ethics and the Moral Skeptic" (Paper session #4)
In this paper, I examine the relation between moral skepticism and evolutionary ethics. I focus on Robert Richards’ ‘Revised Theory’ of evolutionary ethics (in his “A Defense of Evolutionary Ethics), and Robert Joyce’s introduction of the moral skeptic as an objection to Richards’ view (in his The Evolution of Morality). I argue that Joyce’s application of the moral skeptic (an individual who denies common-sense moral judgments) is misaimed—for Richards can utilize a traditional response in moral theory and simply consider the skeptic beyond the pale of moral discourse. I then proceed to argue that the skeptic can be reintroduced at a further point in Richards’ argument, where he attempts to tease out the imperative force of ‘ought’ in moral contexts by appealing to the ‘structured context’ in which those ‘ought’-propositions occur, and that, if we frame our application of the skeptic here carefully, a serious problem for Richards’ view (and by extension, naturalistic ethical programs generally). I conclude with an evaluation of a series of possible responses to the skeptic by a proponent of Richards’ view (most of which can be generalized to naturalistic ethical projects beyond his).