18th annual Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference
April 4-5, 2014
Abstracts of papers
Adams, Dwight S., "Imagine that Language is an Abstraction." Paper session #4.
This paper is a first step in arguing that the imagination is not amenable to propositional analysis. It addresses two conceptions of imagination, the proposition-handling view and the proposition-descriptive view, proposing that neither properly captures the nature of imagination and that a third, the landscape view, is preferable. Considering the work of various philosophers, it dismantles inconsistencies in their views that emerge in rational analysis and when compared to empirical evidence about the proposition-independence of cognitive functions. The essential problem is this: propositions fail to capture the rich, inferential nature of the imaginings they purport to describe. The likely reason is that the human brain appears to function in terms of inference from large sets of interrelated knowledge rather than symbol manipulation (e.g. linguistic symbology). There is therefore good reason to believe that imagining is not properly considered to be a propositional attitude and that as representations of imaginings, propositions are excessively abstracted. Nevertheless, as the proposition-descriptive view has yet to be fully dismantled or integrated with the landscape view, there is more work to be done.
Amerman, Ruth. "Social Conditioning and the Tendency to Act in Bad Faith." Paper session #2.
Jean-Paul Sartre uses examples, such as the ‘woman on the date’, to illustrate his concept of bad faith. The example of the ‘woman on the date’ is devoid of social context. To describe how an individual acts in bad faith it is sufficient to keep the example abstract. However, social theorists argue that social conditioning can affect a person’s sense of self, particularly social control can condition an individual to perceive herself as an acted-upon-object. In this paper I am examining the social pressures concerning women and their sexuality, and giving the ‘woman on the date’ a social context. Studying the woman within a context suggests that while Sartre omits social factors, these factors can increase the tendency to act in bad faith. Specifically, when individuals are condition to see themselves as acted-upon-objects they are more likely to act in bad faith. My examinations present a theory as to why an individual acts inauthentically and raises questions concerning the implications of the relationship between social conditioning and bad faith.
Andrews, Miles. "Divine Hiddenness and Affective Forecasting." Paper session #4.
In this paper I argue that J. L. Schellenberg’s Divine Hiddenness Argument is committed to a problematic implication that is weakened by research in cognitive psychology on affective forecasting. Schellenberg’s notion of a nonresistant nonbeliever logically implies that for any such person, it is true that she would form the proper belief in God if provided with what he calls “probabilifying” evidence for God’s existence. In light of Schellenberg’s commitment to the importance of both affective and propositional belief components for entering into the proper relationship with God, this implication of his argument becomes an affective prediction or forecast. However, research in cognitive psychology has shown that in multiple and varied circumstances humans often make inaccurate predictions of their future affective states or reactions. Thus, this research provides strong empirical reasons to doubt that the implication is warranted.
Auramenka, Usevalad. "Transformation of the Role of the Intellectual in Society." Paper session #3.
This article explores transformation of the role of intellectual, from universal to the specific one, that was described in an interview called “Truth and Power” by Michele Foucault. In this article I compare theory of intellectuals by Foucault to the Gramscian distinction between organic/traditional intellectuals finding out similarities between two theories. In the end I try to apply Foucault's distinction to the Belarussian context arguing about the problematic of applying it to the other than French context. My hypothesis is that the disappearance of the universal intellectuals, in Foucault's terminology, is not a positive transition, but actually it deprives power of the intellectuals.
Baker, David. "Pluralism and Foundationalism in the Applied Sciences." Paper session #4.
Nancy Cartwright labels develops her scientific pluralism within The Dappled World and argues for its supremacy over foundationalism. Cartwright believes that the sciences should be applied for humane benefits and not for knowledge’s sake alone. However, Cartwright does not give enough credit to the practical applications produced by foundationalists. Cartwright’s goals are not hindered or detracted from when working with foundationalists. In fact each position offers complimentary means of practical application, the outcome of which is a bettered ability to apply our sciences towards Cartwright’s than either position offers alone. I will use exemplary cases demonstrating these isolated shortcomings and complimentary benefits to advance this position.
Barbieri, Alessandro. "On Pleasure and Fulfillment as Components of a Substantive Good Theory of Well-Being." Paper session #3.
The purpose of this essay is to define an account within which the hedonist thesis about the significance of pleasure for our well-being can survive. The thesis of this essay is that, though purely Hedonist theories are untenable, Substantive Good (Objective List) theories of well-being can capture the importance of pleasure. To do so, it must ultimately include a second component, namely that of fulfilment of purpose. In Section (I) I will begin by presenting and evaluating Narrow and Preference Hedonism, finding them lacking and rejecting them. Section (II) will present a suggestion about how Objective List theories can include pleasure as a central component of their account. The position will be evaluated and refined in the light of some objections. In Section (III) the fulfilment-of-purpose component will be explained and added to the account. This notion will be shown to allow us to answer a remaining objection (Nozick's).
Barnes, Nicholas. "Heidegger and the Destruction of the Subject/Object Distinction." Paper session #3.
Edmund Husserl, notably in his work entitled Cartesian Meditations, developed an explanation of subjective human interaction with the external world. His interpretation, which relied heavily upon this subject/object distinction, was couched firmly within the long-standing Cartesian philosophical tradition. His pupil, Martin Heidegger, took aim at the foundations of this conventional perspective, jettisoning the above distinction for a description of human existence involving active engagement. As he perceived his one-time mentor to represent the culmination of this tradition, the following paper elucidates Heidegger’s criticisms of the Cartesian views on the matter as they are found in Husserl’s work, highlighting “care about certainty” as the catalyst for the resulting abstractions. The paper also discusses Heidegger’s own characterization of the relation between human beings and the world through his notion of “Being-in-the-world.”
Barszcz, Matt. "L'essai de Twilight Dialecte (The Essay of Music)." Paper session #3.
In my essay L'essai de Twilight dialecte I bridge the gap between philosophy and science and scientifically prove the existence of Emanuel Kant’s nomenal which I have dubbed The Twilight Plane, through rational Aristotle type dialect, and I also cover all of the ancient philosophies/religions such as Hinduism/the Vedas, Taoism, Buddhism/Nirvana, and bridge the commonalities in all of these along with the nominal to show that they are all interpretations of the same universal force, the nomenal. Also I show the relation of these forces to be part of music through the Schumann resonance and binaural frequencies relation to the brain. I also provide a method of breaking through the nomenal extracted from Hindu/Vedic texts.
Binsfield, Alexandra. "Trans*Rights under Egalitarianism." Paper session #4.
Trans* rights have only come to the forefront of social, political, and philosophical discourse in recent years. Many of the issues afflicting the trans* community have yet to be properly addressed. This essay discusses trans* reassignments, including gender confirmation surgery and hormones, and makes a case for the government subsidization thereof. Ronald Dworkin and Phillip Pettit’s works regarding egalitarianism are used as supporting evidence. The essay delves into their notions of victimization, domination, equality of resources, the ability to pass the “eyeball test”, and liberal civic republicanism and applies these concepts to the real life issues of the trans* struggle, resulting in a clear call for action.
Bonapace-Potvin, Michelle. "To What Extent Does a Citizen Employing Political Bounded Rationality Affect a Democratic Political System as a Whole?" Paper session #1.
This paper examines the extent which a citizen employing political, bounded rationality affects a democratic political system. This is accomplished by first observing the concept of citizenship in the context of a liberal, pluralistic democracy and how it came to be. This is necessary because a definition of citizenship is fully dependent on the political system within which it exists. Next, bounded rationality is defined and differentiated from rationality, reason, and logic. By looking at the impact a citizen has on a political system, it becomes clear that bounded rationality can have a tremendous impact on a liberal, pluralistic democracy. Finally, the possibility of voter irrationality, as opposed to rational ignorance is explored.
Bower, Christopher. "Nietsche's Asservations on Contemporary Distortions of Historicism: Justifying Certitude." Paper session #1.
Finding an oddly placed conjunction between aesthetics and human nature’s hasty lean towards certitude, this paper utilizes Nietzsche’s critiques on historicism drawn from his authored text, On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, to support such a connection and conclusions of the like. Historicity’s designated timeline is no further elaborated on than simply holding an existence in any moment prior to this one experienced now and has a negative effect (if clung to in an unhealthful fashion addressed within this document) on the present, which is, in reality as it stands, the only possessed chunk of time made available (if it is even faired to be stretched that far in its applied definition). Politically speaking, historicism is taken advantage of as some genre of justification, boxed in as much as any enclosed artifact, when its archaism wields the dangerous power to derail any potential for current progress. With the gracious aid of Nietzsche’s postulations, a solid backing for the doctrine of reveling in wrongness is declared a necessity for history to maintain its vivacious and imperative stature in the current formation of communal and individual connectivity to societal evolvement. Separatism is secondary to historicism being cunningly warped in order to pave a way for absolutism, and times are divisive enough anymore; so, herein is a nuanced approach, more agnostic than anything else, that will hopefully expand minds beyond the boundaries that Nietzsche has brought to our attention.
Brancazio, Nicolle. "Natures, Norms, and an Inclusive Feminist Ideal." Paper session #3.
What is human nature and what can a definition of it provide the feminist movement? In her paper “Natures and Norms”, Louise Antony proposes that while historically, appeals to nature have been used to justify oppressive behavior, there is no good reason for feminists to believe that these appeals cannot be put to work to achieve progress towards their ideals. Drawing from the work of Martha Nussbaum, she illustrates how equivocations in appeals to nature are used to make normative claims. After attending to what she sees as the concern of dogmatic feminists, Antony proposes that an external account may be useful in establishing a means of access to the internal, valuative account of human individuals. Her argument is troublesome, however, because of the inherent hierarchical structure that she gives the moral community by including humanity and neglecting non-human animals. In many ways, her approach replicates the prejudicial biases and oversights that are antithetical to the goals of feminism. Any account of a nature that is universally and uniquely human, used to establish the boundaries of a moral community is not only unnecessary, but oppressive to non-humans. This is counter to the inclusive ideals of feminism.
Brown, Mason. "The Downfall of a Republic." Paper session #2.
In America today, there is a current of energy that is changing the foundation and structure of the United States. The course that the nation is on is what F.A. Hayek would call a “Road to Serfdom”, where America will turn from a Republic into a dictatorship, much like Ancient Rome. This article is an investigation of history and political philosophy and how past civilizations relate to the actions and laws being implemented today by the United States government, and more specifically the Obama administration. Collectivism is antagonistic with freedom, as this article shows through the writings of many different heavyweight thinkers, current statistics and the history of past civilizations, which have gone from democracies to tyrannies. The title of the paper is called “Downfall of a Republic” because the direction that the current administration is taking is leading the United States to a tyrannical political system. The constantly growing State Power, and intervention and control of the economy, will stifle and destroy freedom, much like happened when the Nazi Party controlled 53% of the German economy. If the direction that the nation is heading is not changed, then the freedom of being a Republic will be no longer possible.
Browning, Benjamin. "You Are What You (Don't) Eat: An Existential Analysis of the Ethics of Veganism." Paper session #1.
This paper analyzes the moral position of veganism from an existentialist viewpoint, drawing on writings by Heidegger, Nietzsche and Sartre, as well as my own experiences as a vegan, in order to explore some of the themes and conclusions of existentialist philosophy and their consequences for vegan ethics. I begin by examining some of the ways that my presence as a vegan is disruptive to the “they-self” described by Heidegger, and highlight the ways that Sartre's concept of “bad faith” is demonstrated in some of the responses my veganism provokes in others. I then analyze the ways that vegans may also be guilty of acting in bad faith, and analyze the effects of Sartre's assertion of the individual's ultimate freedom on my attempts to define myself and my behavior using the label of “vegan.” Finally, I touch on Nietzsche's analysis of the origins of morality to explore whether an ethic of compassion for non-human animals is practicable or justifiable on a social scale.
Choudhury, Rhishav. "On Rawls' Conception of Public Reason." Paper session #2.
The purpose of this paper is to explore John Rawls’ conception of public reason in The Idea of Public Reason Revisited, and then to raise certain weaknesses and limitations that this ideal possesses as well as revisions that may strengthen it. For the latter part of this paper, I will use the thoughts and ideas of thinkers Elizabeth Wolgast in The Demands of Public Reason, James Bohman in Public Reason and Cultural Pluralism: Political Reason and the Problem of Moral Conflict, Onora O’Neill in Political Liberalism and Public Reason: A Critical Note of John Rawls, Bruce Brower in The Limits of Public Reason and Andrew Lister in Public Reason and Moral Compromise to strengthen my argument.
Clark, Tyler. "Equality: The Legal Context over Homosexuality and Marriage." Paper session #4.
In my paper I take a perspective on why same-sex marriage should be accepted. The paper in general allows the reader to see the legal analysis through an ethical/philosophical point of view. With this being said, the essay at hand breaks down the conservative thought versus that of a liberal thought. From that the essay takes into account why the conservative thought would like to keep the religious teachings of marriage between one man and one woman. However, this view is a bit misconstrued within the conservative way of thinking, considering that marriage predates that of Christianity, Judaism, and Islamic beliefs. The paper, in general, allows the reader to obtain a new view of homosexuality through the legal context based upon an ethical/philosophical view point to show why same-sex marriage should be accepted based upon the simple fact of social equality.
Cotton, Alyssa. "Durkheim and Critias on the Value of Religion and Morality in Society." Paper session #2.
Among the myriad problems of our time is the question of religious belief versus scientific thought, the two so disconnected that a distressing cognitive dissonance has arisen. This essay is an exploration between the points of contention between one Greek philosopher and one famous sociologist, frequently identified as a philosopher himself. Both Critias and Durkheim shared a deep interest in religion, though Critias took a much more pessimistic view than Durkheim. Critias held that religion is valueless, a scheme formulated by devious leaders hoping to net a flock of devoted sheep. Durkheim, on the other hand, posited that religion is a function of society and was at one point a necessary facet of idea sharing. This paper endeavors to illuminate the question as to whether or not religion ever held value, and if it did, whether or not it continues to do so.
Derke, Jennifer. "Implications of the Social Nature of Aesthetic Experience." Paper session #2.
The priority for this essay is to examine the nature of experience as aesthetic and social. To this end I conduct a critical examination of the social aspect of visual culture, namely the role of the visual arts discourse in affecting social progress. I do this with respect to the traditions of John Dewey's American pragmatism, Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno of the Frankfurt school, and Nicholas Bourriard's contemporary aesthetic philosophy. Commoditization and capitalism in the proliferation of social progress are two key issues underlying this essay. These allow me to examine the postmodern challenge of being 'stuck' in cultural narratives. Finally, I suggest that creative expression and the visual arts discourse ought to be distributed equally by way of a publicly engaged aesthetic, á la design culture. To demonstrate the socialization of the aesthetic experience, I critically and interpretively engage throughout Damien Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a 1990's installation artwork.
Director, Sam. "Nozick Defended." Paper session 2.
In Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Robert Nozick argues that a state more extensive than a minimal state is morally illegitimate. This claim is the eventual logical implication of his key premise: the existence of inviolable individual property rights. Nozick’s critics agree that his argument is valid, but they have attacked the soundness of his proof by arguing that he fails to justify his key premise. In this paper, I defend Nozick from this accusation by arguing that there is reason to grant this premise and thus reason to view his argument as logically sound. Thus, my goal is to provide justification for the existence of inviolable individual property rights. I will (1) outline Nozick’s argument, (2) explain the above-mentioned objection (as developed by Thomas Nagel), and (3) defend Nozick from this objection by providing an argument to support the inviolability of individual property rights. Since Nozick famously neglected to respond to his objectors, and since some scholars have come to see his argument as interesting, but wholly unfounded, the literature is in need of an argument in defense of Nozick’s position in a way that he did not provide. In this paper, I endeavor to fill this need.
Dozier, Zachariah. "Intersexuality and the Ethics of Infant Genital Surgery." Paper session #2.
It is the primary focus of this paper to argue that surgical responses to intersexuality in infants and children, outside of evident threats to the child’s health and without regarding the child’s own agency, ought to be criminalized under the same justification as the Criminalization of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 1996. Included in this paper will be an explanation intersexuality and intersexed conditions; a discussion on the history of the medical ‘treatment’ of intersexuality; an analysis of the goals of surgical treatment weighed with common or unavoidable side effects of such procedures; a discussion of each person’s fundamental rights to autonomy, bodily integrity, and reproduction; as well as the implications of the 1996 act protecting female children and why those protections should extend to all infants and children, including those who are born ambiguously sexed.
Druley, Sierra Mills. "Rhythm as Logos in Native World-Ordering." Paper session #2.
In his book, The Dance of Person and Place, philosopher and scholar Thomas M. Norton-Smith discusses the processes through which cultures create intelligible, practical, and consistent systems for understanding and operating in the world. He identifies one of these processes as “world-ordering”--a method for creating patterns in sense experience through space and time. He posits two major world-ordering principles at play within a broadly defined ‘Native American’ worldview, relatedness and circularity. In this essay I argue that rhythm and its role in Native life serves as the impetus for both of Norton-Smith’s world-ordering principles. I will show how rhythm, as presented initially by Lakota philosopher Robert Bunge, orders not only time but space as well and so can be understood as the logos that underpins the world-ordering principles of relatedness and circularity.
Durant, John. "Duty and the Ideal Liberated Devotee in The Bhagavad Gita." Paper session #3.
In this paper, I argue that the presence of virtue ethics in the Bhagavad Gita that is touted by many scholars is in fact entirely nonexistent. The Gita’s teachings revolve completely around a devotee committing themselves entirely to their birth-given duty to Krishna. To support this assertion, I point to multiple instances within the text in which commitment to duty totally nullifies any need for virtue. In addition to this, I argue that any instances of positive qualities such as generosity in the Gita should not be considered as virtues as they are merely by products of a total commitment to Krishna and have no inherent ‘goodness.’
Edgington, Jeff. "Redefining "Miracle". Paper session #1.
In this paper, I search for an adequate definition of “miracle.” I begin by showing that one common Humean conception of “miracle” is problematic on a classical theistic worldview. I then draw out additional problems with defining the term in light of classical science and quantum mechanics. I go on to propose a new definition of “miracle” that may circumvent these difficulties. One significant result of my investigation is that God’s intervention cannot be used as a criterion to pick out a miraculous event form a non-miraculous event. I suggest, instead, that a miracle is better understood in terms of what is likely or unlikely given our current science.
England, Katrina. "Issues of Representing Complex Socio-Identities in Community Art." Paper session #1.
In this paper, I investigate the problems with displaying a community art work devoid of people of color. I utilize two artistic theories of community art (Peter Lewis’s and Amy Mullin’s) to show how a specific art piece, the Wasatch Legacy Mural, fails both to represent and to make sense of the complex socio-identities of the rural Utahns it purports to represent. I conclude with suggestions for how a refocused community effort in remaking the mural might ameliorate the problems of erasing racial and ethnic minorities from community-commissioned artworks.
Ershbock, Edward J. "The Divided Concreteness of the Non-actual; Or, Is the Self-Movement of Voidal Identity the Absolute Understanding?" Paper session #1.
If Hegel is correct that there are many more types of the negative qualities of a positive movement towards consciousness, then reaching that which is concrete in identities may not be a matter of an a priori synthetic distinction concerning the nature or essence of self-consciousness. Self consciousness then requires the dialectical movements between subject and object not as mutually exclusive territories but overlapping ones which do not confuse the subject with the object but merely express them within a single organism that is the real. If this is the case there are serious implications for neuro-scientific concerns about how ideological and mental functioning happen in relationship to what it means to be conscious and self aware. Hegel proposes an entirely new order of absolute understanding and the basis to which relevant discoveries can be made concerning the nature of what it means to have being as a self aware entity in relationship to the life world.
Ezell, Brice. "Hegel on the Death (End) of Art: A Teleological Understanding." Paper session #1.
This paper considers the famous aesthetic catchphrase attributed to G.W.F. Hegel, “the death of art.” After considering the symbolic-classical-romantic dialectic analysis in Hegel’s Lectures on Fine Art, I examine Hegel’s actual claim—that art has achieved its “end,” not its “death”—and argue that he is making a teleological observation, one based on an understanding of art rooted in a precise purpose. The paper also considers the wide range of opinions on the end-of-art thesis found in Hegel scholarship, a field quite often complicated to sift through given the many disagreements scholars have over Hegel’s ideas, particularly those on aesthetics.
Faris, Michael. "The Laws of Manu: A Hegemonic Agenda." Paper session #3.
The Laws of Manu, an ancient Indian text, attributed to Manu, explicitly articulates dharma (rules of conduct) for the four different castes as well as specific punishments for violations. I first explain the differences between the four castes: Brāhmin (priests, scholars, and teachers), Kṣatrya (warriors and state officials), Vaiśya (farmers and traders), and Śūdra (workers who serve the other three castes), as well as the stages of life that are said to adhere to dharma. I next propose explanations for dharma’s enforcement through the Laws of Manu. I then argue that the Laws of Manu enforced the unequal hierarchy of the caste system by creating laws that utilized punishment to ensure the compliance of dharma, which actually secured the hegemony of the Brahmin caste.
Fife, Fred. "The Myth of Er, Near Death Experiences, and a New Framework to Interpret the Cave." Paper session #4.
The purpose of this paper is to posit a new framework for interpreting The Allegory of the Cave. This framework is structured on the presupposition that Plato had knowledge of near-death experiences (NDEs). The most conspicuous evidence supporting this claim is found in Plato’s conclusion to the Republic, “The Myth of Er,” which will be discussed first. The second part of this paper will demonstrate that when specific elements of NDEs are compared to Plato’s Cave, strong ontological resemblances emerge, adding strength to the claim that Plato had knowledge of NDEs. This insight into Plato’s knowledge is relevant in the following ways: First, it provides an interpretive framework that incorporates three important aspects of Plato’s theory of reality. These are Plato’s dualism, belief in reincarnation, and learning through recollection. Second, it offers a more consistent explanation of the prisoner’s ascent out of the Cave and into the Intelligible World. And lastly, it may solve the puzzle of why Plato ended the Republic with an after-life narrative.
Flores, Krivo. "Semantics Embodied: Cognitive Linguistics and Searle's Account of Llinguistic Intentionality." Paper session #4.
John Searle has long argued that the philosophy of language is a branch of the philosophy of mind. In his view the capacity of speech acts to represent and relate to reality derives from more biologically basic forms of intentionality, such as perception and action, which initially evolved to relate organisms directly to their environments. Searle’s naturalistic model of language, in order to be complete, requires a theory of how perception and action specifically give rise to linguistic meaning and interpretation. In this paper I argue that recent theoretical developments in cognitive linguistics and the emerging field of embodied cognition provide the needed empirical support for Searle’s perception-based account of linguistic intentionality. In particular I show how the related theses of embodied simulation, perceptual symbols theory, and Arthur Glenberg’s indexical hypothesis corroborate Searle’s semantic naturalism. The result is a model in which body, mind, world, and language comprise integrated aspects of a dynamic whole.
Gatyas, Max. "Reversing the Field of Proof of One's Existence in Hitchcock's Psycho." Paper session #4.
Throughout a number of works, Ralph Waldo Emerson criticizes Rene Descartes’ insistence that proof of one’s existence is to be found in the mind and instead looks to the body for such proof—claiming that the body, in most cases involuntarily, expresses an individual’s thoughts and feelings through mannerisms and gestures. Recently, Stanley Cavell has argued that film not only helps to confirm Emerson’s position but also highlights a resistance on the part of most individuals to accept it. I present Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho as a film that exemplifies Cavell’s thought, arguing that the surprise that the first-time viewer of Psycho experiences with regards to the true nature of the film’s main character typifies this resistance.
Glidden, Demi. "The Self Persists Through Emptiness: An Assessment of Nāgārjuna’s Doctrine of Emptiness." Paper session #4.
In this paper I argue against the Doctrine of Emptiness, put forward by the Buddhist Indian philosopher Nāgārjuna (150-250 CE). The doctrine claims that nothing has an independent or essential existence, the self does not even exist and personal identity is a mistake. Nāgārjuna argues that everything is empty of existence because all things rise from something else; they are dependent and have no independent existence. In this paper I critically examine the Doctrine of Emptiness and suggest a rational reconstruction that allows an essential existence, not simply as a mistake as Nāgārjuna would claim. First, I separate the Doctrine of Emptiness into two premises and a conclusion: (i) all things are composed of parts, (ii) for something to exist it must have an essence that is not composed of parts, therefore nothing exists. Then, I deny the second premise to show that his conclusion is false. Finally, by redefining the definition of existence, I show that we can allow the Doctrine of Emptiness to persist in some form, while maintaining the existence of the self.
Gomes, Sam. "Whitehead on the Experience of Causality." Paper session #3.
Both David Hume and Alfred North Whitehead were analysts of experience, but when it came to the role of causation in experience, they came to entirely contrary opinions. Hume infamously (but persuasively) declared that, upon analysis, experience reveals no sign of causality whatsoever. Whitehead, on the other hand, asserted that the experience of causality is in fact the most fundamental aspect of experience. This essay will first briefly review Hume’s claim, then move on to Whitehead’s analysis of experience, with an emphasis on what he calls “perception in the mode of causal efficacy” (which he believes constitutes our experience of causality). Lastly, Whitehead’s examples of perception in the mode of causal efficacy will be evaluated, and it will be seen that one these examples successfully substantiates his claim that we experience causality, and thereby refutes Hume.
Growdon, Elizabeth. "The Similarities of Kauṭilya and Machiavelli." Paper session #3.
Kauṭilya was an ancient Indian political realist who wrote the famous Artha-śāstra. Artha-śāstra is a sanskrit word which is translated to science of material gain. His Artha-śāstra is a detailed account describing the actions a king should take in order to maintain and expand a prosperous kingdom. Kauṭilya advised Chandragupta, the first Maurya king, who ruled from 322 BCE- 298 BCE. Kauṭilya’s Artha-śāstra is famous for its detailed nature, its abandonment of ethics, and its applicability today. Many scholars have compared Kautilya’s Artha-śāstra to Machiavelli’s The Prince. Machiavelli was a 16th century Italian political advisor and philosopher. The Prince instructed a ruler on how to return Italy to its former glory. Machiavelli is infamous for his moral abandonment in his political advising. In this paper, I will compare the similarities of Kautilya and Machiavelli. Furthermore, I will show that Kohli inaccurately claims they were dissimilar. Kohli misperceives that Kautilya was benevolent and Machiavelli cruel. This is a shallow misconception of both advisor’s goals and conceptions of morality. Ultimately, Kautilya and Machiavelli had strikingly similar strategies.
Han, Ji Heon. "Fundamentum." Paper session #1.
One who refuses to find complete solidarity, or ‘comfort’ in the givens, can only but struggle to change the givens or to produce a new out of them, structuring one’s own mold to fold and unfold. What started out as an attempt to establish the Bible for systemic thinking, as a reaction against imprecision of other students studying and writing about mathematics became a blueprint, or a manifesto, of the reacting-me to guide myself. “Mathematics is poetry, but shouldn’t be an attempt at poetry.” The ideas presented below are not novel ideas, but the organization of them seeks to help one to pursue further novel ideas.
Harriman, Kevin. "Saving the Substratum." Paper session #3.
Kant’s transcendental idealism requires that experience be both spatial and temporal. In the First Analogy of Experience, he argues that in order for experience in time to be possible, there must be something permanent in our experience. This something permanent is substance: a bearer of properties that persists and conserves its quantity throughout any empirical change. The trajectory of Kant’s argument in the First Analogy is not entirely clear and this has left room for multiple interpretations. In this paper, I introduce the First Analogy and three suggested interpretations of its argument. I defend the so-called substratum interpretation, associated with Henry Allison and Andrew Ward, from philosophical objections raised by Paul Guyer. In order to unify all of experience within a singular time-frame, we must presuppose a persistent substratum through which all experiences can be related to one another.
Hernandez, Matthew. "Towards a Humean Solution of Vagueness in Language and Ontology." Paper session #4.
This paper explores how a Humean may respond to issues of vagueness in philosophy of language—and in extension—ontology. It begins with an examination of the sorites paradox and two common responses: epistemicism, and eliminativism. I then turn to David Hume’s conception of abstract ideas as a way to determine how vague terms refer and then compare this view to both epistemicism and eliminativism. The paper ends with a defense of the Humean view as a synthesis of the two, which ultimately questions the formulation of the sorites paradox as a proper use of language.
Hicks, Hannah. "The Epistemic Value of Live Fiction." Paper session #4.
This essay occupies a niche wedged between Philosophy and Art, exciting both the creative and inquiring mind. Drawing on both foundational and recent work in the philosophical study of knowledge and aesthetic theory, this paper synthesizes two fields within the humanities: epistemology and live theatre. This presentation challenges the academic barriers that keep philosophy and the performing arts from fully participating in interdisciplinary communication, and challenges the conceptual definition of knowledge itself. The aim is to promote recognition of the value in using that which is live, liminal, and personal in understanding the nature of knowledge. This can be achieved through exploring the ways in which the experiences of engaging with the fiction of live drama are a key to finding the missing element in the definition of knowledge. In exploring the collective views of specific, highly developed fields such as philosophy’s epistemology and art’s live theatre, an underutilized tool emerges: truth through fiction. This tool spurs the emergence of new societal and learning expectations and changes the face of academia in the process.
Hillin, Ben. "Butler avec Lacan: Gender, the Real, and Subversion." Paper session #3.
In Part 2 of Gender Trouble, Judith Butler offers a seemingly devastating critique of Lacanian psychoanalysis. She argues that like Levi-Strauss, Lacan argues that sexual difference is a totalizing, foreclosing fact of culture: something that must always already happen for culture to even occur. She is able to argue this, because of her reading of Lacan’s symbolic, and the manner in which Lacan lays out genders as “being the phallus” or “having the phallus”. The crux of the argument lies in Lacan’s alleged instantiation of the heterosexual matrix. From this she argues that what was originally conceived of as helpful for feminism, is now a dead-end. However, Butler is only able to argue this on a crucial misreading of Lacan: she selectively uses the symbolic, while ignoring Lacan’s real and imaginary. I will argue that Butler’s reductive reading of Lacan leaves out entire possibilities of how gender functions, and what gender means. To do so, I will use the theorists Joan Copjec, Slavoj Žižek, and Jacquline Rose, all of who work extensively with Lacan and sexuality. Copjec and Žižek specifically offer their own critiques of Butler in their own writings. Copjec offers slightly more generous readings of Butler while Žižek will often brush Butler aside (whether ironically or not is up for debate here). First, I will do a close reading of “Lacan, Riviere, and the Strategies of the Masquerade”, as this is where Butler pays attention to Lacan the most. I think the best strategy for this paper will be to introduce critiques of Butler’s reading of Lacan, while I explicate Butler’s reading of Lacan. This would reduce the clutter of the essay, and help the reader understand why Butler’s reading of Lacan is one-sided. The final part of the essay will be an attempt to draw out the ramifications of the essay as best as I can, and it is here that I will explicitly answer questions I will pose at the beginning of the essay.
Holmes, Alexandra. "Narrowing the Divide: Posthuman Autopoiesis and Social Propaganda." Paper session #1.
This paper examines the relationship between social propaganda as presented by Jacques Ellul in his book Propaganda: the Formation of Men’s Attitudes and the concept of autopoiesis (or self-generation) within posthuman ideology. These two concepts intersect in their connection of the individual to the masses. Both posthuman theory and Ellul’s concept of social interaction are based on the bridging of the ontological gap to overcome cognitive isolation, resulting in the engagement in a community outside of oneself. The stripping of individuality becomes necessary, as our self-contained autopoietic beings employ analogical inference in order to connect with the mass, and therefore be subject to the influences of propaganda.
Jacobs, Paul. "The Shared-ness of the World in Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception." Paper session #4.
This paper intends to explore a few aspects of how Maurice Merleau-Ponty pursues a phenomenological understanding of human existence in his Phenomenology of Perception. It means to elucidate some of the ways in which Merleau-Ponty understands the fundamental structure that the body is for human ontology. This elucidation necessarily grapples with the ways in which the body structures the way in which humans are capable of expressing in general, but also how they are able to use language and how they are given access to other human beings in the world. The final section of this paper explores a few ways in which the body and the world structure the possibility of human freedom. Ultimately the body, expression, language and human freedom are structured by the shared-ness of human existence. This paper tries to make some sense of how the shared structure of the world is fundamental to every possible human experience and how without a consideration of this shared-ness, an elucidation of human ontology would be incomplete.
Jarrott, Joshua. "Currently Persisting Paradoxes: Getting Clear about Endurantism." Paper session #1.
This paper addresses a mereological paradox which faces proponents of endurantism, the theory of persistence according to which objects may be wholly located at several times. The paradox is intended to demonstrate that endurantism is false because it entails that enduring objects are both 3D and 4D. I offer three ways for the endurantist to avoid the paradoxical conclusion by demonstrating that the fusion principle required to generate the paradox is untenable.
Jensen, Ross. "Revisting Modal Imagination." Paper session #2.
Conceivability arguments are quite common in philosophy. Given the continued prevalence of such arguments, the philosopher would do well to consider whether the inference from conceivability to possibility is in fact justified. In this paper, I reject Alex Byrne’s skeptical arguments against David Chalmers’s account of modal imagination. I suggest that, in regard to mental imagery, Byrne’s account of sensuous imagination is committed to the dubious claim that mental images are sufficient to individuate imaginings, whereas Chalmers’s account is not. On the contrary, in order to be successful, some imaginings must involve or co-occur with further, non-imagistic features or faculties that are necessary for their individuation. I briefly consider some such possible features and conclude that modal imagination as conceived of by Chalmers does not reduce to sensuous imagination. Consequently, the reliability of modal imagination as a guide to possibility is not necessarily undermined by Byrne’s broader critique of sensuous imagination.
Johnston, Ysabel. "Mimesis and Ritual: Girardian Critique of the Social Contract." Paper session #2.
The social contract has become the dominant basis for political society, yet political theology is still prevalent in many countries. Rene Girard’s theory of human nature as involving mimesis and ritual offers a more sufficient account for this continuity than that of the social contract theorists. This paper will demonstrate how the views of human nature and the formation of society given by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau not only failed to account for our religious and ritualistic aspects, but provided a basis for the evolution of the social contract into a pragmatic contract. Originally it was conceived as predicated upon natural rights; but the pragmatic use creates arbitrary rights agreed upon by a society. When considered in light of humanity’s imitative and rivalistic tendencies, this poses a serious worry. Girard’s theory provides the understanding that society isn’t only predicated upon agreement, but also upon imitation, religion, and ritual.
Kim, Jonathan. "The Demands of Disagreement: A Case for Conciliationsim." Paper session #3.
Disagreements abound in virtually every sphere of intellectual inquiry, be it philosophical, religious, or political. Furthermore, many of these disagreements involve persons of comparable intelligence and learning. Thus the question of how to respond to such disagreements is one of significant importance. Accordingly, the philosophical literature on this topic has been growing, offering a variety of views that advise the appropriate way to respond. One of these views is conciliationism, which states that in the face of such disagreements one is rationally required to reduce confidence in one’s belief. The success of this view can entail wide skeptical implications, and unsurprisingly it has generated much controversy. This controversy has spawned various challenges to the view, the most worrisome of which I believe is the objection that it is self-defeating. In this paper I advocate a strong version of conciliationism and offer ways in which the conciliationist can respond to the self-defeat objection.
Land, Gerard. "God versus Nature." Paper session #1.
This is an exploration of the conflict between how God could create a world that allows for sin, even when the concept of God would appear to cause a paradox as long as evil exist. This exploration covers the problem of evil from two different viewpoints. The first view comes from Leibniz and his understanding of how God could create a world that allows evil. This is based on a natural law that takes into consideration that the universe was created for existence of an overall natural existence of good, and that as flawed creatures; we view evil in the world from our limited perspective on a tiny planet in the grand scheme of nature. The second part of the exploration comes from the understanding of justice and morality as presented by Denis Diderot. It takes into consideration that there may not be an omnipotent God, and that Natural Law dictates, along with society, what is good. In the end it is the concept of justice that prevails and natural law keeps a balance between evil and good.
Laybourn-Candlish, Aurora. "The Discourse of the Scalpel and the Limbo of Non-identity: Doing Justice to Herculine Barbin." Paper session #3.
In this essay I will make a comparative analysis of Butler's reading of Herculin Barbin in Gender Trouble and David Reimer in Undoing Gender. My reading of Undoing Gender will illustrate reflective moments in which Butler herself describes spaces outside of intelligibility. First, my analysis will consist of in reading Butlers earlier work against her more recent writings on gender. Utilizing the same critical lens that Butler incorporated to compare Foucault’s later work against his earlier writing will bring to the fore important tensions in Bulter’s gender theory and her relationship with Foucault. Second, I will describe the discourse of the scalpel that is found in the narratives of both Barbin and David. I find that Barbin’s framework foreshadows the discourse of the scalpel that Judith Bulter identifies within the life story of David Reimer. Then I will give an account of the discourse of the scalpel as a form of biopower. I will supplement my analysis of Bulter with Jemima Repo’s essay, "Herculine Barbin and the Omission of Biopolitics" from Judith Butler’s Gender Genealogy. Taken together my analysis will elucidate a lineage between Herculine Barbin and David Reimer that calls for a reexamination of Butler’s relationship with Foucault.
Levkovskaya, Valeria. "Remaking the Possible: Intelligibility and Trans Autonomy." Paper session #3.
This essay explores problems inherent to Butler’s concept of intelligibility as it is presented in her book Undoing Gender. By relegating gender minorities collectively to the unintelligible, Butler unintentionally diminishes the agency of gender minorities and their ability to produce themselves as subjects through oversights Butler makes with regard to the importance of embodiment. Accounts by transgender individuals and theorists, including objections to Butler’s work itself, emphasize different ways that trans individuals legitimate their own approach to norms of intelligibility. In order to salvage Butler’s notion of intelligibility, it is necessary to emphasize certain aspects and de-emphasize others. Through the work of various transgender thinkers, it is possible to emphasize the changing norms of intelligibility. Both discursively and through embodied experience, challenges are issued to the norm which undermine the terms of the norm itself. What results is recognition of how tenuous the norms of intelligibility are in and of themselves, and the necessity for a new ethic. This new ethic requires a position of deferral on the part of observers, which does not impose norms. Instead, each subject is allowed to determine through their discourse and the presentation of their embodiment how they will relate to the available norms.
Martin, Patrick. "Exploding Photographic Mustard Seeds." Paper session #1.
This paper is an investigation of sublime photography. It discusses the artistic process of transmuting visceral experiences of the dynamically sublime into mathematically sublime photographs. The impetus for and the example used in this essay is a dramatic photograph of the Kamen Volcano. It is the work of Sabastiao Salgado. I begin my paper by giving a brief overview of the Kant’s sublime as put forth in the “Analytic of the Sublime” from his Critique of Pure Judgment. I go on to describe the process of capturing and communicating the feelings of sublimity through photography. I compare photography to a style of painting that Kant describes from his own time. I concluded brief remarks on the power that those artists who can communicate the sublime may have in society. My thesis is as follows: Photography can capture and reproduce moments of sublimity. Specifically, landscape photography can capture moments of the dynamically sublime. It does this by transmuting the dynamically sublime into the mathematically sublime. This produced mathematical sublimity is instantiated in the geometrical proportions of the resulting photograph. This transmutation is accomplished through the framing and/or cropping of the object or objects or the general mise en scene of the initial effecting agent or agents of the dynamically sublime moment that was experience in the mind of the artist. A mathematically sublime photograph is successfully produced when it is able to bind the boundlessness of the original dynamically sublime moment and reproduce the affect of sublimity in the mind of the photograph’s audience. Thus the creation of a universally moving representation of the once solely subjective experience of the artist. The photographer who can accomplish this task of creating the effect of sublimity in their work, possess a type of artistic genius.
McKerracher, David J. "Circumcision: A Violation of Human Rights." Paper session #2.
Male infant circumcision is no trivial surgery. This paper argues that it is a human rights violation which implicitly denies its victims of their right to self-determination in a matter which will permanently damage the natural function of their genitals. Besides being potentially fatal, circumcision guarantees its victims the permanent loss of their genital integrity, and a noticeable decrease in sexual pleasure. Science has revealed that the foreskin is an epicenter of nerve endings, protecting sensitive glands which dry up after circumcision. This issue therefore falls into the prevue of ethics and law. The purpose of this paper is to expose the weaknesses of the most common arguments in favor of infant circumcision, including arguments from tradition, religion, popularity, and poorly-conducted scientific studies. Parents should definitely have the final say in many aspects of child rearing, but this decision affects the individual’s entire adult life as well. They are not just making a decision for an infant—the decision is being made for a grown man.
Montgomery, Clint. "Progress through Empty Time: The Role of Dialectical Images." Paper session #3.
This essay aims to stake out the role of philosophy today as critically confronting society through a resuscitation of the idea of progress; this question of critical philosophy brings front and center, moreover, the tension between theory and political praxis. The linchpin holding theory, progress, and practice together is Walter Benjamin’s idea of dialectical images, for in their original formulation they explode all three at once. Theodor Adorno’s appropriation of these images, however, will serve as our critical lens because it is his argument that both resurrects a sound notion of progress and deeply problematizes thereby the relationship between critical theory and political praxis.
Morano, Malcolm. "The Role of Religious Reasons in a Liberal Democracy." Paper session #2.
There is a long tradition of political thought that takes the use of religious reasons for supporting public policy to be a violation of one’s duties as a citizen. I refer to this as the ‘liberal position.’ But is this line of thought correct? In this paper, I examine three philosophers’ views on the matter, before staking out my own. First, I examine the position of John Rawls, the most influential contemporary heir of the liberal tradition. Then, I look towards Nicholas Wolterstorff for his charges against Rawls and this tradition, as well as his own view of the duties of citizens. Thirdly, I use Richard Rorty to examine how an antifoundationalist (like Wolterstorff) might respond to Wolterstorff in defense of the liberal position. Finally, I offer my own position, which uses the virtue of agreeableness to strike a balance between Wolterstorff and Rorty. The thrust of my argument is that this debate should transfer from one concerned with “religious” versus “secular” reasons to one concerned with fundamentalist versus pragmatist attitudes.
Munroe, Sam. "Kant, Aristotle, and the Distinction between Subject and Object." Paper session #2.
In this essay, I will argue that the discussion regarding the philosophies of Kant and Aristotle can be greatly enriched when these thinkers are read in light of one another. This argument will be made by referencing some important similarities between Kant and Aristotle’s conceptions of the unity of the agent of experience, time, the categories, and substance. Each of these concepts would be more than sufficient for a full investigation if taken individually, and thus cannot displayed in their full richness here. I have chosen this approach for the purpose of showing the comprehensive nature of the relationship between these two thinkers. Throughout the discussion of some of the important similarities between Kant and Aristotle’s positions regarding the unity of the agent of experience, time, the categories, and substance, I will address the differences between how these thinkers see these concepts as applying to themselves and world. I will argue that one can account for these differences by means of appealing to the lack of an explicit linguistic distinction between subject and object in ancient Greek. I intend to show that with this explicit distinction comes the suspicion that the world of the objects would not behave in the same way if the subject were not present to experience it. Furthermore that this suspicion motivates the distinction between the world of experience and the world-in-itself, and that this distinction is the primary motivation for Kant’s Copernican Revolution, in which he attempts to prove metaphysical concepts by means of appealing to the possibility of recognizable human experience.
Nagi, Jamale. "Motivating a Terminological Clarification in the Account of Representation in Computational and Dynamical Paradigms." Paper session #2.
Debate in philosophy of cognition between computatationalists and dynamists often are found to be taking past one another. This is largely due to inconsistency within the dynamic camp regarding whether or not there are representations; and for those that do affirm them, clarifying how a representation is to be conceived and used under a dynamical system paradigm. Having been equipped with an understanding of a dynamic conception of representation may prove resourceful for giving a dynamic account for cognitive tasks in a ‘representation-hungry’ problem domain, largely thought only to be explained through a computational cognitive model.
Nandi, Gourav Krishna. "Juxtaposing Longino's "Equality of Intellectual Authority" to Her "Shared Standards". Paper session #4.
Helen Longino has proposed four criteria that can objectively criticize the background beliefs and assumptions in the development of scientific theories. She deduces that the criteria - ‘recognized avenues for criticism,’ ‘shared standards,’ ‘community response’ and ‘equality of intellectual authority’ - are mutually dependent. Using the assumption that the acceptance of more than one scientific approach is possible only if an individual is educated in a non-standard background, and is given intellectual authority which, in turn, refutes the idea of standardization in science, I argue that her assertion is contradictory. One of her criterion ‘shared standards’ implicitly nullifies the attempt to embrace points of view from various other perspectives, based on the difference of cultures and intellectual backgrounds - ‘equality of intellectual authority’ in the scientific community.
Naylor, Cliff. "Beating an Undead Horse: The Ontological Problem Revisited." Paper session #3.
This paper examines the ontological argument, focusing on Kant’s refutation in The Critique of Pure Reason in which he states, “Being is obviously not a real predicate.” (CPR 567 a599/b627) G.E. Moore’s paper, entitled “Is Existence a Predicate?” is analyzed, and I discuss whether his claims about the predicability of existence can be related to Kant’s argument. The conclusion I come to is that existence can function as a predicate in most cases, but not for Descartes’ necessarily existent being, which is the target of Kant’s refutation. The paper ends with an Afterword discussing the functional relevance of the ontological argument.
Newman, Jennifer. "Irigaray, Christianity, and Divinity: Relating to God as Sexed Subjects." Paper session #4.
This essay asks the question: Can Christian religious belief be held without reinscribing women into Irigaray’s framework of the “logic of the same?” Through an analysis of a wide variety of Irigaray’s philosophical works and work of other scholars, the essay is a contribution to the growing field of Feminist philosophy of Religion. The essay ultimately argues for a Irigaray’s drive for a uniquely feminine conception of the Divine within Christianity which goes further than changing discourse on God (although allowing for this as well), but focusing on incarnation and transcendence in relation to God as a sexed subject.
Nilan, Michelle. "The Art of Forgetting in the Zhuangzi and Its Practical Applications in Daily Life." Paper session #4.
This paper explores the daoist concept of “forgetting,” or losing oneself through skilled immersion in a particular activity, through analysis of the Zhuangzi. The purpose of developing this mastery of skill is to enable one to break through the constraints of one’s socio-cultural conditioning in order to fully engage in co-creative existence with the Dao, the natural way of all things. It is not necessary, though, to remove oneself from modern living and become an ascetic or a mountain-dwelling monk; the ideas expressed in the ancient Zhuangzi are not only applicable but also entirely practical for everyday living. Adopting a Zhuangzian, daoist approach to our lives would make the various struggles of death, bills, and office cubicles bearable, and perhaps even enjoyable, enabling us to experience our lives with ease.
Novak, Kyle. "An Argument for a Phenomenological Pragmatic Conception of Truth." Paper session #3.
Correspondence theories of truth claim that truth involves a relationship between ideas in the mind and facts in the world, but because minds are viewed as being disconnected from the world, there is no way to determine whether beliefs are true or false under the correspondence view. For truth to be a meaningful concept, a theory about it must conceive of it in a way that is meaningful for humans. By looking at Heidegger’s ideas about phenomenology and humans as Dasein I argue for a framework that does not rest on a Cartesian subject/object dualism, and instead grounds concepts, like truth, in experience. I then turn to William James’ pragmatic theory of truth as “what works” and argue that it is applicable for Dasein and provides a meaningful conception of truth.
Ogawa, Benjamin Ryo. "Fighting the Insult of a "Gay Gene": Subjectivation through a Politics of Choosing Choice." Paper session #4.
An appeal to the assumed genetic origin of homosexuality is now the dominant progressive means of making one’s homosexuality relatable and worthy of acceptance socially and politically. I argue that Eribon’s conceptualization of the constitutive power and temporality of insult reveals the degrading nature of both the scientific and political impulses that unreflectively advocate for biological origins of homosexuality, and the underlying effects of reaffirming the insulting heterosexist social order. This conceptualization illustrates the potential for positive projects, which come from denying a universal, rooted and final “origin” of homosexuality in a “gay gene”. First, I examine the history of scientific research into sexual orientation to contextualize modern day “gay gene” research. Then I elucidate Eribon’s use of Althusserian interpellation in describing the world of insult that temporally “always already” pre-exists the gay individual. Such research lends itself to a rhetoric that seeks to define gay sexuality as truly “always already” pre-existing a gay-self, not in the exterior world of insult, but from within the gay body itself. I will engage scientists, and those in the GSM and ally communities who take up the “gay gene” premise, in order to place themselves politically and rhetorically in opposition to the easily problematized religious right. This leads me to address the voices from within the gay community who, on a rhetorical level, place themselves in alignment with the religious right and claim that being gay is a choice.
Ogden, Trenton. "Pragmatic Alternatives to the Melting Pot Theory and Solutions for Modern Immigration Problems." Paper session #3.
This essay has two central aims: the first is to offer alternatives to the melting pot theory and second, to offer a refutation of Samuel Huntington and his assertions regarding American and Mexican cultures. This essay will begin by outlining the theory of “transnationalism” as articulated by Randolph Bourne. This essay will contend, however, that this theory alone is not suffice and will instead turn to Horace Kallen's notion of cultural pluralism and the benefits it provides when used in conjunction with “transnationalism.” This essay will conclude by arguing that Samuel Huntington's assertions about the irreconcilability of American and Mexican cultures are unwarranted. And the aforementioned theories will used along side empirical evidence to counter his claim.
Ory, Patrick. "Mechanisms by which War is Made Possible." Paper session #4.
What are the mechanisms by which war is made possible? What are the process that allow young men, not just to kill one another, but to look towards warfare with wide eyed enthusiasm? It would seem that as a biological organism we would value the safety of our organic platform. It seems counter to logic that young men should be so willing to take up arms and strike down their neighbors while placing their bodies in extreme peril. This paper is not an argument for or against war. This is not an attempt to justify or condemn war, the people that declare war, or the people that fight wars. This is an attempt to build a stronger foundation for the mechanisms that allow for war. In this paper I argue that the mechanisms that make possible war are as follows:
(1) Our evolutionary pedigree; Violent individuals were more likely to capture and hold resources thus increasing the probability of survival for their offspring. Small groups that learned to work effectively when committing violent acts, such as hunting or tribal warfare, were more likely to capture and hold resources thus increasing the probability of survival for their communities. (2) Young boys are indoctrinated to believe that they ought to possess the qualities of a hero and the only way to know that you possess these qualities is to overcome a dangerous and worthy opponent.
Pannekoek, Jeffrey. "Animal Activism and the Ethics of Terrorism." Paper session #1.
Terrorism is a subject deeply connected to the issue of animal welfare. This has not always been the case. Whereas it is definitely true that some criminal activity has been justified in the name of animal welfare, misdemeanors and even felonies are of a very different order than terrorism. The charge of terrorism can strip a person off their most fundamental rights, even without trial. Animal terrorism has not witnessed quite such a situation, although a number of animal activists who have committed direct action have been convicted for a range of crimes, and some have had the terrorism enhancement applied to them. For these activists, this has resulted in a terrorist listing and the possibility of serving (part of) their sentence in a special prison called a Communication Management Unit. The extreme reality of the situation raises a lot of questions about what exactly terrorism entails, why this type of activity is labeled terrorism, and if the pursuit of animal activists as terrorist is morally justified. It also pushes us to ask whether, in light of the extreme suffering endured by animals for the sake of profit, there are forms of terrorism that are ethically permissible. This paper, first, looks at the meaning of particular types of action and their role in animal activism. These include direct action, civil disobedience, and violence. Secondly, it offers a discussion of terrorism by looking at its most recent iterations as well as an alternative definition. Thirdly, it reviews past and current legislation pertaining to animal activism and terrorism, including the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. This section will also take note of a number of prosecutions of animal activists under these laws, including the SHAC7 case. Finally, it offers a discussion of the ethics of animal terrorism, in which I argue for the ethical permissibility of animal terrorism, and the necessary conditions that need to obtain in order for this to hold.
Petach, Luke. "Responding to Fideism: Critiquing the Act of Belief ." Paper session #4.
Even if the fideist is justified in her assertion that religious beliefs are not available for rational evaluation, she is still subject to evaluation regarding the act of belief. Thus, although the content of religious beliefs cannot be evaluated as true or false for the fideist, the conditions that give rise to belief may be evaluated in regard to their likelihood for producing authentic belief. The fideist—in keeping with the tradition set forth by Kierkegaard and others—must thus be concerned with evaluations of “authenticity.”
Polster, Corey. "The Freedom of Determinism: Determining the Freedom of Natural Beings in Kant's Third Antinomy." Paper session #3.
For Kant the third antinomy, the conflict between freedom and determinism, can be resolved by asserting that both thesis and antithesis are compatible. It is the intent of this paper is to explore how these two explanatory mechanisms can co-exist and whether such a conception of the world (including both deterministic explanations and explanations appealing to freedom) allows for a human freedom, or if it merely allows for the pure freedom that was required to bring the world into being. First, the analogies of experience will briefly be considered paying special attention to the second analogy, so as to understand how Kant thinks it is possible for beings like us to perceive causal connections at all. Then, it is necessary to provide some definitions of key terms for Kant and how conditionality and nature can inform us about the reality of freedom, and where we can properly situate it as a faculty if it exists. Then the argument will attempt to show how these two notions, freedom and determinism, can co-exist as different aspects of the existence of beings like us, for whom freedom is a contingent aspect of my perceiving the world, and determinism is an omni-pervasive natural causality.
Rosenbaum, John. "Poetic License." Paper session #3.
Authors have much freedom with the entities, events, and even concepts that appear in their fictional worlds. But authors are limited by what readers can allow to be present. This imaginative resistance is the subject of the alethic and phenomenological puzzles. The first is raised when an authoritative narrator asserts some claim the reader denies; the second is the jarring experience that accompanies alethic puzzles. Consider, ‘It is morally obligatory to torture puppies for fun’. We deny this claim and, had it been in a narrative, the shock of the phenomenological puzzle would jolt us out of the imaginative experience. It seems certain types of learning from fiction—e.g. of moral norms—becomes impossible. If a reader has to agree with an author’s moral claims in order to stay in engaged with the story, then we’ve no way to account for those instances where we come to hold a prescription picked up from a fiction but that was originally rejected as false. My solution is poetic license; more precisely, the degree to which we experience a phenomenological puzzle is inversely related to the degree of poetic license granted the work. With poetic license we can account for learning moral norms from fiction despite imaginative resistance.
Rubanowitz, Jacob. "Anti-Authoritarianism and Psychoanalysis." Paper session #1.
In this paper I argue that Otto Gross, an early 20th century psychoanalyst, provides a feasible model of development that allows for greater individual freedom than the model presented by Lacan. To do this I will first draw correlations between a heuristic Chomsky proposes for the assessment of “legitimate” authority and the “ethic of revolution” present in psychoanalytic technique. I will then address the Lacanian model of development, where the internalization of authority is a precondition for social interaction. I will conclude by arguing that Otto Gross provides a model of development that dissolves a structure of “illegitimate authority” inherent in Lacanian thought.
Seeboth, Catharine. "Vertical Class Movement in Plato's Republic." Paper session #4.
Although one of Plato’s purpose for writing the Republic was to formulate an ideal definition of social justice through the description of an ideal city, his class structure and foundation myth undermines his reasoning in two ways. The first way is through the education system that Plato sets up as a unique benefit of the guardian class. The second way is through the foundation myth, the Myth of the Metals. Plato does not mention how the craftsmen, who have the gold in their soul, would be recognized. Plato fails to describe any formal education for the craftsmen. The myth carries with it the psychological implications that by learning this myth from birth, one belongs into the class that they are naturally suited for. Therefore, this creates a society in which it would be difficult for the craftsmen to believe that one had the potential to be naturally suited for another class.
Sheppard, James. "Fundamentalism against the Patchwork Theory of Laws." Paper session #4.
This paper offers an analysis of the arguments between fundamentalists and the claims made by Nancy Cartwright in The Dappled World. I start by introducing the arguments of fundamentalists through the work of Carl Hoefer, and go on to discuss Cartwright’s patchwork theory of laws, which is opposed to fundamentalism. Cartwright argues that the fundamentalists cannot claim that laws can be generalized, while the fundamentalists insist that they can make such claims. I will argue that this conflict between both sides places each side in the same epistemological boat. Once we recognize that both views are in the same boat, it is easier to distinguish which view is better, instead of attempting to prove that one view is superior to the other outright. I will argue that fundamentalism has the upper had in this debate, because this view allows for both theoretical and practical advances to be made in science and technology, while Cartwright’s view only advances the practical applications of current science. Cartwright’s arguments against fundamentalism will also be shown to ask too much of Hoefer and the fundamentalists, specifically with her F=ma example. Finally, I will show that fundamentalism can accomplish everything Cartwright’s patchwork theory can and more.
Shinkel, Ryan. "A Return to Form: Representationalism, Reid, and Hylomorphism." Paper session #2.
G. K. Chesterton writes in his book, St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox, “Since the modern world began in the sixteenth century, nobody’s system of philosophy has really corresponded to everybody’s sense of reality; to what, if left to themselves, common men would call common sense. Each started with a paradox; a peculiar point of view demanding the sacrifice of what they would call a sane point of view.” I agree with Chesterton. In this essay, I argue (a) the historical development in early modern philosophy of representative realism is a consequence of rejecting Aristotelian metaphysics, (b) how the philosopher Thomas Reid responded to representationalism with his Common Sense theory, and (c) that Reid’s direct realism is consistent with the scholastic’s hylomorphism (purposed merging of form and matter).
Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter. "Are Pscyhopaths Responsible?" Keynote presentation.
Psychopaths are less than 1% of the population, but they commit over 30% of the violent crime. How can they do their horrible acts? What can we do to stop them? These questions can be answered in light of recent scientific studies of their moral judgments. However, these studies also raise new issues about whether psychopaths are responsible in the way that is normally required for criminal punishment.
Siver, Theresa. "Looking Past the Web to See the Garden: An Exploration of Epistemological Metaphors." Paper session #2.
In their paper "Identity, Oppression, and Power: Feminism and Intersectionality Theory," Samuels and Ross-Sheriff present those who engage with intersectionality with three challenges: avoid essentializing any one expression of identity (race, sexual orientation, class) over another, acknowledge interconnected privileges as well as oppressions, and pay mind to the changes in context that shift the designation of social identity and status. These challenges serve as an unpacking of the more general definition and purpose of intersectionality that “proposes that gender cannot be used as a single analytic frame without also exploring how issues of race, migration status, history, and social class, in particular, come to bear on one’s experience as a woman.” In this paper, dissatisfaction with intersectionality is taken to be a symptom of an insufficient epistemological picture. I very briefly touch on the epistemological setting offered to us by Descartes and move on to examine that provided by Quine at somewhat greater length and show how neither offers us sufficient tools to interact with people in a manner that would satisfy the intersectionalist. I then present a metaphor that I suggest our epistemology would need to grow out of for us to sufficiently deal with intersectionality.
Southworth, McKenzie. "Reconciling Guyer's and Allison's Interpretations of Kant's Second Analogy." Paper session #3.
This paper concerns two interpretations of Kant’s second Analogy in the Critique of Pure Reason. On the one hand, Paul Guyer argues that the goal of the second Analogy is to provide grounds for the confirmation of beliefs about causal relations. Henry Allison, on the other hand, argues that the principle of the second Analogy is a condition of the possibility of experiencing succession, whether subjective or objective. Their starkly different views on the aims and coherence of Kant’s overall system clearly influence their interpretive differences in the specific context of the second Analogy. The exegetical investigation required to evaluate each point of divergence between them is beyond the scope of this paper. Instead, as regards the second Analogy in particular, I focus on one point where Guyer’s position has been misrepresented. Allison characterizes Guyer as equating objective validity with empirical truth. I show that Guyer is equating objective validity with justification, or a claim to knowledge, rather than knowledge itself. Therefore, Allison has misinterpreted Guyer’s interpretation of Kant in this regard.
Stout, Zack. "Aristotle's Prime Mover: How Does the Good Work?" Paper session #1.
Aristotle asserts that his Prime Mover or God is “separate” from the corporeal universe. Several attempts, often focusing on Metaphysics Λ.10, have been made to understand the nature of this separateness, and how, in light of it, the Prime Mover is able to exert influence in the realm of sensible substances. Focusing on Mohan Matthen's (2001) proposal, I suggest that these attempts have often overlooked this separateness, along with its important implication: that the Prime Mover is prior to or “first among” substances, in some way that is connected to the way in which substances are both separate from and prior to qualities and quantities, etc. Situating Λ.10 within the context of Λ as a whole clarifies Aristotle's intention to integrate three kinds of principles – of motion, intelligibility and goodness – by drawing out the connections between them, in particular between the acts of thought and desire. The cause of intelligibility provides a useful model for understanding the way in which the first principle of goodness works.
Stragar-Rice, Colin. "Self-subjugation in Hobbes' Leviathan." Paper session #4.
One of the components central to the political philosophy found in Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan is the concept of fear. Fear is both that which plummets humanity into a state of war yet it is also that which drives us towards peace. One of the genius moves of the Leviathan is when Hobbes harnesses this fear and makes it central to the creation of the absolute Sovereign. After individuals have come to together to create a body politic, it is their mutual fear of the Sovereign and its absolute power that maintains stability and preserves the commonwealth. However, the relationship between the political subject and the Sovereign, as described by Hobbes, functions as one individual’s fear of another. I believe there is a deeper mechanism at work, which is that an individual fears himself or herself and that political subjugation by the Sovereign is actually self- subjugation. Closely mirroring the arguments found in the Leviathan, this essay recasts the pivotal moment when individuals exit the state of war through the creation of an absolute Sovereign into a moment of self-subjugation where the creation of the Sovereign is a mechanism by which individuals subjugate and transform their own passionate ends. The individual fears his or her own capacity for self-harm and necessarily forges a tool of political subjugation in order to better serve the continuous project of self-preservation.
Straka, Luke. "Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion: A Commentary on the Conflict between Skepticism and Dogmatism." Paper session #4.
I read the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion as primarily Hume’s attempt to insinuate skepticism into religious dogmatism, as it concerns naturalistic conceptions of God (the view represented by Cleanthes), but also Christian doctrines more generally (as represented by Demea). However, this straightforward characterization is strained by developments late in the Dialogues, namely Philo’s sudden affirmation of Cleanthes’s arguments for the existence of God in Part XII, as well as Pamphilus’s evaluation at the end of the Dialogues in favor of Cleanthes’s opinions, despite Philo’s criticisms. Though these two controversies may appear problematic, I will argue that both play a part in Hume’s general skeptical project, though not to insinuate skepticism in his readers. Rather, both of these controversies are meant to represent the inflexibility of theological dogmatists, which would reflect Hume’s skepticism that the dogmatists will ever change their views, even when reason tells them otherwise. This will be demonstrated by considering the stances of Cleanthes, Demea, Philo, and Pamphilus, which are unchanging throughout the Dialogues.
Strebe, Matthew. "Aesthetic Experience and the Transcendence of Fate in Schopenhauer." Paper session #1.
Arthur Schopenhauer’s theory of aesthetic contemplation is the most viable of his paths towards happiness, for as Schopenhauer’s asceticism seeks to negate life by negating the active will, his aestheticism actively affirms it – the former state is impossible, for to negate the will one must continue willing, leaving the latter as the only workable option. This will first be proven by examining the aesthetic experience’s basis in Schopenhauer’s philosophy, then establishing various steps that will cement it as an active force through a series of reconceptualizations: a negation of certain desires in order to train the mind and the body to be open to a broader range of positive experience, and a commitment to not concern oneself with ends or with value judgments. This will then allow the subject to be open to the aesthetic experience at every possible juncture, thereby living aesthetically.
Syrmos, Alexia. "The Impossibility of Free Will and Ultimate Responsibility." Paper session #3.
This paper concerns itself with the metaphysics of free will. To posit, as some philosophers do, that free will and determinism are incompatible is to provide a necessary condition for free will. Yet what should a sufficient condition look like? In other words, how might indeterminists provide a positive account of free will? In section 2 of this paper, I provide a few definitions and discuss an influential argument against compatibilism, namely the view that free will and determinism are compatible. This will help to identify some important criteria for theories of free will. Section 3 shows how abandoning determinism and adopting indeterminism is also problematic, and that we thus need to fill in the definition of free will. Section 4 presents the first part of Robert Kane’s definition of free will, which goes along the lines of "we make choices based on our beliefs, priorities, etc." and section 5 offers Kane’s account of Self-Forming Actions to explain how our beliefs and priorities are our own. The core of my objection will take place in section 6, where I show how the concept of a Self-Forming Action cannot make free will compatible with indeterminism in that the idea of a Self-Forming Action is incoherent.
Tahzib, Collis. "Have You Heard the One about the Gentle Norm-Breaker?" Paper session #1.
In this essay I first discuss the two standard theories of humor: the superiority account and the incongruity account. Neither, I argue, provides necessary and sufficient conditions for humor. Then I articulate an account of humor as gentle norm-breaking. I motivate this account of humor as gentle norm-breaking in three ways and defend it against the objection that it is broad to the point of being vacuous.
Tan, Peiran. "Lifeboat Ethics and Systematic Stability." Paper session #3.
A utilitarian, Garrett Hardin in his Lifeboat Ethics argues that an international state should refrain from sharing resources with and providing help for other states to maximize its people’s welfare. The global resources are finite and states ideally should share it equally for maximum collective interest. Yet the absence of supreme coercive authority to enforce fair sharing gives ample incentive for rule violation, as states attempt to maximize self-interest in disregard for the eventual collective ruin, which Hardin refers to as the “Tragedy of Commons.” Since other states act both as sharers and opponents, a state should aggressively eradicate them to ensure its survival. In response, I argue that Hardin’s solution to the “Tragedy of Commons” denotes perpetual population reduction, which inevitably entails systematic instability that diminishes people’s welfare. My opponents may propose that population reduction gives rise to a Hardinian bipolar world that eventually stabilizes itself. My response to this potential counterargument has two parts: on one hand, the stability of Hardinian bipolarity is established upon the Rational Actor Model wherein theoretical utility-maximization does not guarantee stability in reality especially under the influence of contingent factors; on the other hand, even if Hardinian bipolarity guarantees stability of societal systems, Lifeboat Ethics does not possess strong theoretical strength to give practical moral guidance. I also propose that international aid is possible with overpopulation amelioration, especially when conducted by third party and non-profit agencies.
Thornton, Joshua. "Addiction and Being." Paper session #2.
Addiction alters our temporality and leads individuals to live in bad faith. The relationship between Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre’s phenomenology is examined in this paper. Personal examples of addiction are used and compared to a study done on ex-opiate users conducted by Gerda Reith. At times, our body acts as equipment within the world. Addiction complicates the dualism between body and equipment. The body becomes un-ready-to-hand in addiction. This rift complicates our ability to avoid bad faith. The addict is unable to acknowledge the past or the future. Reith argues for the imprisonment of addicts in the present. The addiction does not trap a person; the addiction sends them through a vicious circle of bad faith.
Tochtrop, Hannah. "Color Field and the Sublime." Paper session #2.
This essay seeks to explicate the nature of the sublime as a unified field of energy that is absolute, undifferentiated and incomprehensible by human standards. This is because the sublime contains no contextual reference, that is, the frameworks of space and time do not exist within the sublime field but only out of human construction. An important implication of the sublime field is that the subject or the self cannot exist without dimension or context of a space-time framework. Secondly, this essay will cover one way in which the sublime is represented within the world of experience- that is within the format of color field painting specifically. Typical paintings are intrinsically locked into human perceptions of space, time and selfhood. However, color field painting does not reference the human-made frameworks of space or time, and therefore represents the sublime experience of the loss of self-hood.
Trujillo, Michael. "Misinformation and the American Electorate through the Lens of Socrates and Plato." Paper session #4.
This paper seeks to identify and explain a problem in contemporary US politics by examining an important difference between the philosophy of Socrates and Plato. This problem, vulnerability to misinformation in the US electorate, can be demonstrated using evidence from negative advertising and campaign rhetoric. Socrates’ notion of wisdom distinguishes between one’s possession of true beliefs and one’s right to moral standing in such a way as to avoid it while Plato’s philosophy engenders it. Indeed, the adoption of Plato’s views in our current practices has produced this vulnerability to misinformation, and our attempt to gild his philosophy with egalitarian values has led to further consequences. Cultural changes in interpersonal communication and accountability to truth offer the most promising solutions.
Ullis Dzintra. "Investigation into the Direction of Time." Paper session #1.
Much focus within the modern literature regarding the philosophy of time has been dedicated to a dance-off between two, usually divergent, parties. The two parties have various titles ranging from the tensed/tenseless view of time, the dynamic/static view of time, or even the more popular opposition, since J.M.E. McTaggart, of the A- and B- theories of time, respectively. This paper deals specifically with the issue of the directionality of time through the examination of William Lane Craig’s line of defense. The paper offers an innovative approach from a neutral starting point which argues that ultimately, the demonstration that builds up and offers support for the arguments surrounding the direction of time remain inconclusive given Craig’s metaphysics.
Waterbury, Kyle. "Zhuangzi as Wilsonian Outsider: From Where Wang Ni Is Coming, To Where Wang Ni Is Going." Paper session #4.
With ancient Chinese philosopher, Zhuangzi, transformative philosophical value can be gained from asking epistemological questions and from unraveling what follows from perspectivalism. A few stages of understanding and development are detailed to this end. Finally, similarities between the work of recently passed British philosopher Colin Wilson (1931-2013), especially his notion of the Outsider, and Zhuangzi's notion of the Way-Farer, are explored.
Weiss, Alec. "Kierkegaard and Kaufman: The Modern Ironists." Paper session #1.
Søren Kierkegaard discusses the role of “irony” as a key to alleviate some of the anxiety of living. Many philosophers have attempted to respond the human crisis of existence, and Kierkegaard’s method is relevant and unique. This paper will discuss and explicate Kierkegaard’s conception of irony as it is described in On the Concept of Irony with Continual Reference to Socrates by analyzing interviews and recorded works of the 20th century comedian Andy Kaufman. Despite their obvious differences, Kierkegaard and Kaufman are ironists who had acute awareness of the distinction between the inner and outer self and chose laughter as a way to come to terms existence. The case study of Andy Kaufman will aid in understanding the practical application of the philosophical concept “eminent irony”, there is a secondary purpose of providing an illuminating perspective on the perplexing life of the comedian.
West, Tyler. "A Justification for the Equal Consideration of Drugs." Paper session #3.
The current state of US law in regards to transactional crime is highly controversial. This controversy has been highly publicized, showing mainly the arguments over the legalization of marijuana. But why should legalization end there. At what point does the government have the morally legitimate right to restrict drug use. The debate must surely be made comparing the legitimacy of civil liberties and the need for a certain amount of paternalism in a sophisticated society. Regardless of opinions held it must be evident that the current state of laws and their enforcement dealing with drugs is not the best option for any society.
Wilson, Adam. "Dennetting Titles." Paper session #2.
An analysis of Donald Davidson’s article “Mental Events”, particularly in the context of analytic philosophy of mind, yields a uniquely clear example of how commitments to certain philosophical positions yield entailments in other, sometimes only marginally related, discussions. While the network of entailment demonstrated is a strong argument against atomism of philosophical problems (the position that free will and personal identity are discrete fields, for example) this also has subtle ramifications for the epistemologist. Among these is to re-open the discussion on coherence in argumentative structure. Included are discussions on relationships of arguments to successive positions, and an analysis of Davidson's article in the context of analytic philosophy of mind.
Wynroe, Keith. "Problems for Infinitism." Paper session #2.
Infinitism in epistemic justification is the thesis that the structure of justification consists in infinite, non-repeating series. Although superficially an implausible position, it is capable of presenting strong arguments in its favour, and has been growing in popularity. After briefly introducing the concept and the motivations for it, I will present a common objection (the finite minds problem) as well as a powerful reply which couches Infinitism in dispositional terms. I will then attempt to undermine this counter-objection by drawing parallels between it and the problems raised against semantic dispositionalism by Kripke’s exegesis of Wittgenstein’s private language argument.