Abstracts | Undergraduate Philosophy Conference
Gustavo Berrizbeitia (Northwestern University), “Power and Scientific Knowledge in Kuhn and Foucault”
Paris 2 p.m.
Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions remains one of the most influential accounts on the nature of science, particularly in the analytic tradition. His theory of paradigms, which constitutes the theory’s central innovation, incisively evacuates pure rationality from science at large while also allowing for a high degree of rationality from individual scientists. Michel Foucault similarly offers an account of the nature of science, centering it on how science, as a function of power, comes into dominance over an object of knowledge. This essay charts the two accounts’ surprising resemblances and parallels, specifically in their shared notion that the essence of the relationship between science and the object of science is a relationship of power. Ultimately, however, both Foucault and Kuhn fail to adequately isolate the mechanism of that power; I deploy Mary Hesse’s concept of predictive power to fill in the gap.
Shane Brennan (Marist College), “Art as an Internal Entity: A Metaphysical Analysis of the Whereabouts of the Artwork”
Alexandria 4:30 p.m.
This paper will first question the presupposed metaphysical ascription of Art, that it exists as the external work — that the painting is the Art. By showing this view to be questionable, I will advocate for the adoption of the view that Art necessarily exists in its sensual and cognitive experience rather than in any external state (i.e., Picasso’s Guernica exists as Art not as the specific physical arrangement of oil on canvas by Picasso, but the cognitive experience that emerges from the state of the mind in perceiving Guernica). This assertion partially takes after Collingwood’s view that Art is “imaginative”; however, I will refrain from using this terminology as it is implicative of and in relation to the creation of art rather than its existence as a cognitive experience, as well as having misleading and unserious connotations. In the second part of this paper, a deeper metaphysical analysis of this view will be presented in attempt to disambiguate any remaining questions or objections which may arise.
Hien Bui (Westmont College), “The case for dispositional innatism”
Vienna 6 p.m.
In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke argues against the claim that there are innate ideas. His arguments consisted in the denial of universal assent, the incoherency of innate ideas, and the formation of principles by inductive means. In this paper, I will show why these arguments do not work in showing that there are no innate ideas and will propose and defend Leibniz’s model of dispositional innatism, the claim that we are born with at least innate dispositions or tendencies for particular beliefs.
Susana Camacho Plascencia (Central Washington University), “Ignorance Is Bliss: Three Forms of White Ignorance That Are Used to Maintain White Privilege”
Edinburgh 5:15 p.m.
This paper uses modern-day examples, and ideas from the philosophers Linda Alcoff, W.E.B. Du Bois, Cheryl Harris, Peggy McIntosh, Marzia Milazzo, and Charles Mills, to argue that white privilege is maintained by the use of white ignorance in three different forms: 1). the dehumanization of nonwhites through the use of stereotypes, 2) the failure to recognize racism as institutional, and 3) the inability/refusal to see a disparity in the opportunities available for nonwhites as compared to whites. I end by concluding that in order to solve the problem of ignorance, it must first be accepted, so that we can start working against it by openly educating young children about the history of racism in this country and the ways in which it still affects us.
Christopher Caples (University of Connecticut), “The Ship of Plato, A Theory of Dualistic-Teleological Identity”
Baghdad 3:30 p.m.
It seems intuitive that a person or an object may change over time without changing identity. I have undergone many physical changes over the years of my life; and yet, my loved ones still recognize me as the same person. The puzzle of the of the Ship of Theseus presents interesting challenges to those assumptions. Over many generations, so the story goes, the Athenians renovated the ship commemorating their hero such that every plank of wood was replaced with another. The question arises, "Is the renovated ship properly identified 'The Ship of Theseus'?" Many justifications for answering affirmatively or negatively involve unnecessarily complicated theories and focus primarily upon physical considerations. In my paper, I argue that identity is a non-physical concept and is distinct from the object associated with it. Thus, there exist two entities that we must consider when trying to solve puzzles of persistence conditions: the physical object and its non-physical identity. I rely upon insights from Plato's Phaedo, in which Socrates argues that any causal theory must be essentially teleological in order to properly explain changes that occur. Likewise, the persistence of identity can only be properly understood with a teleological explanation. In this paper, I provide such an explanation.
Michael Caditz (Vancouver Island University), “Hobbes’s Error, and Problems with Social Contract Theory”
Baghdad 5:15 p.m.
Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), in his book Leviathan, famously asserts that human life, in a state of nature, is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” and that without social contracts and an absolute sovereign there exists a “war of all against all.” Moreover, Hobbes believes that human nature is selfish, distrusting of others, and evil. Modern social contract theory is largely premised upon Hobbes’ assertions, as are theories of ethics and morality, i.e., the way people ought to behave to prevent an otherwise-inevitable disastrous slide into the dreaded Hobbesian state of nature. However, I will argue that Hobbes likely has it wrong: Behaviour he attributes to a “state of nature” may rather be socialized behaviour; his assumptions may be based upon observations of a non-representative sample of humans. His sample is non-representative in several relevant ways. First, he lived during the violent religious wars of England and Europe; it is not surprising he draws conclusions about human nature from this perspective. Further, life expectancy in his time was about 35 years. Since women remained at home and were not considered “men” for political purposes, Hobbes’ sample from which he draws conclusions about human nature is skewed towards young men (young by today’s demographics)—hardly representative of modern Western culture. Because the sample of people Hobbes observed is non-representative of today’s world, the requirements of scientific inquiry calls on us to view his conclusions with skepticism. Perhaps human nature is quite different than Hobbes theorizes, and cultural phenomena—rather than human nature—can explain selfish, violent, and “evil” behaviour. I also discuss several other objections to social contract theories, such as that of narrow obligations: There are no moral obligations which are separate from (or override) our contractual obligations. A problem with this assumption is that it eliminates the distinction between morality and law; they become one in the same, and leave us with a logical challenge in criticizing abhorrent practices which are sanctioned by law.
Amanda Caudle (Portland State University), “The Problem with Privilege”
Edinburgh 4:30 p.m.
Many activists, academics and prominent voices within society seems to demand a mathematically precise means by which to provide reparations for oppression. However, they may be discovering that there is not an accurate measurement available to assess privilege. Perhaps this is because oppression is not the result of micro- privileges amongst the various groups of people but rather is ultimately a function of dwindling and finite assets, resources and a growing world population. Despite what buzz-words and politically correct ideology may suggest, micro-privilege in its many forms is nothing but a restatement of Philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s famous Felicific Calculus and is therefore subject to the same sort of criticisms. Attempts to assign privilege merely distract from the problem of ultimate oppression, macro-privilege.
Mida Chu (New York University), “Semantic Ambiguity Explained in the Framework of Cognitive Economy”
Vienna 5:15 p.m.
Keith Donnellan distinguishes two uses of descriptions in his paper “Reference and Definite Descriptions”, the attributive use and the referential use. Since then his treatment of the referential use has come under substantial attack from Russellians. Stephen Neale argues that the referential use differs from the attributive use only in the pragmatics. On the other hand, Marga Reimer argues that the difference is in the semantics. The issue at stake is whether descriptions are semantically ambiguous. In this paper, I attempt to accommodate the strength of both Neale's and Reimer's explanations, putting them in a framework that both explanations are accounted. I introduce the principle of cognitive economy to explain the instances where Neale’s or Reimer’s explanation applies. I also go one step beyond Reimer to argue that referential descriptions with quantifiers can also possibly function as names, albeit in very improbable cases.
Gabriel del Carmen (Brandeis University), “A Critique of Parfit – A Multiple Causal Model of Survival”
Baghdad 2 p.m.
In what follows, I explore Derek Parfit’s discontent with language of identity to answer the question of survival. I propose that simple psychological continuity is not sufficient enough condition to justify any meaningful definition of “survival.” I analyze the case of Parfitian fission – in which an individual is split into two perfectly identical individuals – and propose that it does not sufficiently fit our intuitions. I put forth a similar thought experiment, one of gradual fission, which better exemplifies the causal connections which connect us from some past self to some future self (i.e. “survival”). In the place of simple psychological continuity, I present a multi-pronged model of survival, which consists of three different relations: the M-relation (as proposed by John Perry), the SOC-relation, and the BM-relation. I warrant this model through its application in the proposed case of modified fission and then explore the implications of such a model.
Darby Ebeling (Boise State University), “On The Uselessness of Art”
Alexandria 5:15 p.m.
In an exploration of aesthetic value, this project asks “Is Art Useless?” To answer this question, the project draws upon Platonic and Aristotelian aesthetics, addressing concepts such as the noble lie, catharsis, and the sublime. With an interdisciplinary approach, Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is taken as an example, and the further question is pursued as to whether art ought to be used, and whether it is philosophy which can help answer this question. In concluding that art is both a candidate for being used and for being useless, the project draws a distinction between philosophical doctrine and the practices of the public sphere.
Bridger Ehli (Lewis and Clark College), “Is Epicurus a Direct Realist?”
Athens 2 p.m.
In his Letter to Herodotus, Epicurus presents a controversial theory of perception according to which "all perceptions are true." In this paper, I argue that Epicurus' theory of perception should be interpreted as a version of direct realism. If this interpretation is correct, then Epicurus holds that typical human perceivers have direct perceptual awareness of mind-independent objects. In the first section, I present an interpretation of Epicurus' theory of perception. I interpret Epicurus as subscribing to the view according to which our perceptions always provide us with entirely accurate information about the world. In the second section, I provide an outline of a version of direct realism. The version of direct realism I present here is strongly indebted to the work of Michael Huemer. In the third section, using the framework developed in the second section, I argue that Epicurus should be interpreted as a direct realist.
Erik Gleim (University of Oregon), “Will to Power and Metaphysics”
Amsterdam 8 a.m.
Nietzsche’s idea, “Will to Power,” interpreted as something at all metaphysical, in other words as any kind of “law,” or “principle,” runs contrary to many aphorisms that we encounter, especially in The Gay Science, where Nietzsche is quite uncompromising in his refutation of metaphysics, our need for metaphysics, and those ideologies (science, Christian morality, utilitarianism, etc.) whose grounds are foundational, metaphysical doctrines of some attainable or attained truth. Even so, the language that Nietzsche uses when explicating this idea make it quite difficult to interpret it as anything other than metaphysical. Accordingly, one may quite readily say that Will to Power is simply philosophically untenable and inconsistent. On the contrary, I intend to interpret Will to Power as an idea that points us towards a new kind of philosophical play that Nietzsche exemplifies in his philosophy. More specifically, I mean to interpret Nietzsche’s Will to Power as a performative exemplification of our inevitable experiential projection into the metaphysical justifications of life, being, and so on, that does not ground itself in any “truth,” rather, grounds itself in the very fabric of our own lived experience—our own Will to Power.
George Goodell (Reed College), “Empty names or Empty Predicates”
Amsterdam 5:15 p.m.
In this paper, I consider two solutions to the problem of empty names using two different views of the semantic content or meaning of proper names, referentialism and the predicate view of names. The problem of empty names is the problem of how to account for the truth values of negative existential sentences, like ‘Sherlock Holmes does not exist’, in which an empty name occupies the subject position. Ultimately, I conclude that a certain formulation of the predicate view of names, Kent Bach’s, avoids the problem of empty names.
Kaela Gray (Willamette University), “Meat, Mind, or Memory: an argument against the bodily theory of identity”
Vienna 8:45 a.m.
It is often disputed in philosophical examinations whether or not the body is crucial to personal identity, as opposed to other factors like the soul, mind, or consciousness. I will argue that the body is not crucial to personal identity, but serves rather as an illusion of identity, formed through sensory fallacies, and that instead, personal identity is solely reliant on memories, which create personhood. The idea that personal identity is completely reliant on the body is an illusion. The body presents an idea of identity to those interacting with the person, who, because of past experiences, have been conditioned by sensations to believe that the body they see is the person they know, when in reality, a body could appear to be the person, but upon interacting with it, one could recognize if the person was no longer there (i.e. if the personality traits previously associated with that body no longer accompanied it, but rather, a different set of memories, and therefore different person inhabited the body.) One’s senses mistakenly equate the body with one’s personhood, and in that way act as fallacies, creating the illusion of the body as identity. We make inferences based on perceptions of the same body, past experiences and interactions allow for one to see and infer that it is the same person, meaning it's more than simply seeing the body; there is the knowing from past interactions that prompts the inference (our brains believing certain things based on our perceptions and sensations which appears to be correct, but could also be misleading). The body is however necessary to identity, for it exists to act as a means for memories to be accumulated and displayed. The body is more of a host or tool to be used and inhabited by the person, for the purpose of acquiring memories which shape personhood. It is important to note here however, that according to my theories, bodily action is not necessarily needed to have experiences to form memories, for memories can be created by the immaterial mind, without any true experiences being had by the person, and such memories can still shape/determine one’s personhood. This is what is meant when I say that the body is necessary for memories to be displayed, because while some memories are accumulated through bodily action, others are not, but shape future actions. The body is necessary, but not bodily action.
Sebastian Gregg (Cornell University), “The Paradoxical Topology of Dasein”
Paris 10:30 a.m.
Dasein is a unified, unilateral horizon of experience that ontologically discloses an ontical field of phenomenon through an intentional engagement, which distorts its revealed horizon through care (Sorge). Care textures what it discloses by moods that are synonymous with its shapeability that are topological, retroactive modifications that distribute tension and pressure throughout the inseparable, unified whole that delimits Dasein’s being-in-the-world. The Body without Organs, seen as a surface of intensities, is the primary relation of a body within the world. It is the surface of inscription that affects carve and modify through exposure. The suturing event of language, which commodifies affects into signifiers or places of relation, turns the body without organs into a semantic field of production, language being the house of being that is Dasein’s inhabiting.
Philip Groth (George Fox University), “Women and the Imago Dei: Gender Ontology in St. Augustine’s Thought”
Baghdad 9:45 a.m.
To rebuild gender relations in the church we need to unpack the source of the current complementarian beliefs, which take their origin in the teachings of the church fathers. In this interpretative paper, I will attempt to provide a new reading of St. Augustine’s philosophy regarding women in light of The Trinity and City of God. It is my argument that Augustine has a twofold vision of the Imago Dei in humans. One based on the rational “inner man” —in which women do not participate— and another based on shared humanity. In this view women retain their own and independent part in the image of God and have their own unique and necessary role in earthly affairs. I further compare gender relation to Augustine’s vision of relation between celibacy and married life, as one focuses towards the spiritual, the other towards temporal. Both are equally good in God’s eyes, for both are based on calling and necessity. One is, however, the preferred option and appointed for leadership over the other.
Cody Hatfield-Myers (University of Michigan at Flint), “Feminism and Disability”
Edinburgh 2:45 p.m.
In feminist critiques of the biological link between sex and gender, the significance and even existence of objective bodily facts has become a matter of dispute. By bodily facts, I mean the idea that a body actually has either certain traits, organs, sex categories, etc., independent of human activity influencing or determining what these things are. I want to preface this paper by stating that I am not arguing for objective sex categories, but instead for the possibility that there are objective bodily facts at all, whatever those might be. In attempting to answer these questions, and to do away with oppressive bodily views that link specific genders with sex, there have emerged ‘anti-realist’ accounts which argue that the body and certain of its facts are socially caused, and so have no objective existence, i.e., no existence which isn’t subject to human interpretation—that is, they aren’t really real. I will first critique some assumptions of the anti-realist theory of Judith Butler from the realist position of Sally Haslanger, after which I will critique its implications with respect to disability, drawing on the work of Susan Wendell. I will argue that the anti-realist view, though liberating, nevertheless promotes an attitude toward the body that has the unfortunate fault of indirectly sustaining stigmatization of those with disabilities by assuming a level of bodily control that is unrealistic. A feminist critique of traditional mappings of sex and gender need not reject a realist account which acknowledges objective bodily facts. In fact, such a realist position allows for bodily, sexual difference, avoids biological determinism of sex/gender, and avoids the stigmatization of those with disabilities.
Austin Hattori (University of Georgia), “Aristotle and the theory of value”
Amsterdam 10:30 a.m.
What relevance does Aristotle have to modern economics? This paper attempts to answer that question by exploring a central component of economic theory: value. Value, which is the quality of an object which underpins its price and cost, is interpreted in two major economic theories, objective and subjective. The objective theory of value, originally espoused by Smith and appropriated by Marx, asserts that value is inherent to an object and is tied the amount of labor expounded in its production. By contrast, subjectivists assert that value is external, determined purely by the agents in exchange within the context of the exchange itself. Before even approaching the question of which is the Aristotelian understanding of value, however, this paper first attempts to explore whether Aristotle can be said to be relevant to economic theory in the first place, having written in a pre-industrial society. The paper establishes a heuristic approach that simultaneously outlines the inherent problems created by reconstructing an Aristotelian value theory while maintaining the Philosopher’s relevance to modern economic theory. While certainly it is anachronistic to assert that Aristotle maintained a modern theory of value, it does not mean that Aristotle has nothing to say on the matter. The paper then answers the question: which theory, objective or subjective, best fits the Philosopher, especially as he outlines his vision of society in the first book of the Politics? The paper discusses at length the scholarship assuming an objectivist approach to Aristotle, which primarily centers on a passage in the Ethics 1133a8 which appears to connect value with labor—but the paper ultimately rejects this, arguing instead for a “theory of the value of labor.” Aristotle does not seek to associate value with labor, but rather evaluates labor in a different sphere. The subjectivist approach is raised and its relationship to Aristotle established. This approach notes the similarity between Aristotle’s formulation of need in exchange, chreia, and want satisfaction, which is central to the subjectivist theory. With this, the paper concludes that Aristotelian value theory is best expressed using the subjective theory.
Peter Heft (Denison University), “Taking Things Seriously Again: An Introduction to Object-Oriented Ontology”
Paris 9:45 a.m.
In the following paper, I attempt to push back upon traditional dogmas in philosophy by critiquing anti-realist views and positing a positive, realist ontology while subsequently introducing the reader to Object-Oriented Ontology. Specifically, I begin by explicating Quentin Meillassoux’s concept of “correlationism” – that is to say, the supposedly necessary co-existence between thought and Being – and explaining how Kantian categorization has a) positioned philosophical questioning away from ontology and towards epistemology and b) cemented a correlationist view into Western thought. I then go on to analyze two serious problems with correlationism – those of the “arche-fossil” and the destruction of the ability to talk about absolutes – and note that if we are to ‘save philosophy,’ we ought to embrace a realist ontology. Finally, I lay the positive groundwork for Object-Oriented Ontology by explaining Graham Harman’s view of object interactions within the framework of Heidegger, examining questions of ontological topology, and ultimately explicating the basics of this (relatively) new and promising philosophy of objects.
John Hesch (Boise State University), “Delphi: An Interpretive Approach to Disciplinary Integration”
Alexandria 8:45 a.m.
In this paper I discuss the problems surrounding the integration of knowledge between different disciplines in order to create social knowledge, which is an issue in the field of Social Epistemology. I discuss integration using a conceptual framework introduced by Stephen Fuller, which includes concepts such as disciplinary orthogonality and adjudication. After describing this framework I present a systemic approach to the problems surrounding interdisciplinary integration proposed by O’Rourke, Crowley and Gonnerman and ultimately argue against such an approach. Instead, I argue for an interpretive approach based on the work of Martin Heidegger that is holistic in nature. Finally, I defend this interpretive approach against the concern that it too is just another version of the systemic approach.
Evan Hildreth (University of South Florida), “A Fulfillment of Prophecy: Foucault’s Contribution to Nietzsche’s Great Proclamation”
It is a well-known fact that Foucault considered himself to be a close follower of Nietzsche, and this is shown in many ways. However, Foucault does not simply build from Nietzsche’s philosophy or borrow elements from it. Foucault expands and fulfills many of Nietzsche’s proclamations, namely Nietzsche’s great proclamation: “God is dead.” This paper will take this initial premise and examples from Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality, to challenge some of the root theological ideas in question with the death of God. Foucault’s examples show that Nietzsche’s great proclamation has been fulfilled, or proven to be correct, in many deep-seated aspects of our lives.
Thomas Hodgson (University of Oregon). “Pragmatics or semantics?”
Amsterdam 2 p.m.
This essay explores some of the philosophical history surrounding the phenomenon of definite descriptions. It provides a clear and concise following of the theoretical development of this phenomenon, from Bertrand Russell to Keith Donnellan to Saul Kripke, as well as supporting theories where necessary and relevant. It is an academic exploration of the history and consequences of this phenomenon, yet also strives to avoid the superfluous esotericism that Philosophy can be drawn toward. It is a cogent tool for instigating further research on this subject, in addition to being a stimulating and entertaining philosophical read.
Clare Holtzman (Colorado College), “Imposed Sexuality”
Edinburgh 3:30 p.m.
Bisexual women are an isolated and marginalized identity group in the United States facing many threats from both within and without the LGBTQIA+ community, including sexual assault. Due to our identity as bisexual women, we are statistically the most likely to be sexually assaulted in our lifetime. It is imperative that we begin to form a community and advocate for ourselves together. In the tradition of the philosophy and politics of identity, an important step is creating bodies of work around the function and fight for our identity, and then begin to follow our philosophies. In this paper, I intend to use the philosophies of Iris Young, Jacob Hale, Mary K. Bloodsworth-Lugo, and Franz Fanon to bring attention to the problems facing our community, and to spark action and movement among bisexual women. In so doing, I aim to spark conversations about why women whose sexuality is neither gay nor straight, but rather both, is so uniquely threatening to both the straight and LGBTQIA+ communities, and therefore gets so little attention in philosophical writings and LGBTQIA+ advocacy.
Amanda J. Hust (UCLA), “An Analysis of Aristotle’s Account of Eudaimonia”
Amsterdam 9:45 a.m.
Aristotle believes if we reflect upon our activities as human beings we realize that every good we seek is for the sake of achieving eudaimonia, also known as a flourishing life. That is, the reason why we act to seek certain goods is because our goal is to have the best possible life. It is not wrong to assume that everybody feels this claim is intuitively correct. But how does Aristotle suppose we achieve a flourishing life? It seems we must first understand what our function is as human beings before we can get a clear answer. When discussing human function it may help to ponder on the type of work humans are best suited to do in this lifetime. According to Aristotle, eudaimonia turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with virtue (1098a15). The highest virtue of which, is exercising wisdom in a complete life.
Jaycob Izso (Portland State University), “Utilizing Hacking's Social Kind-ed Terms in Comparative Politics”
Alexandria 3:30 p.m.
The relation between natural kinds and social kinds for Ian Hacking is, on the surface, a relationship between varying properties which designate the types of objects kind-ed terms describe. While Hacking has spent a considerable amount of effort parsing out the division between social and natural kinds; his line of inquiry has tended to focus on clinical psychology, medicine, and classificatory frameworks for “kinds of people” (more recently “interactive kinds”) in the social sciences. Thus far, not of these arguments have directly addressing political science, and more specifically the field of comparative politics - a field that adopts much of its methodological and terminological structure from behaviorism and constructivism in the social sciences and applies that structure to behavior of states, political institutions, and political actors. By extending Hacking’s arguments on social kind-ed terms into the field of comparative politics, I contend that it denies the field any real access to natural kind-ed terms, thereby placing comparative politics firmly into Hacking’s conception of social kinds.
ENG Jole (Occidental College), “Voluntary Action and the Causal Adequacy Principle”
Athens 9:45 a.m.
This paper will argue that the Causal Adequacy Principle (abbreviated “CAP” from here on out) presented by René Descartes is false by the existence of voluntary action. The CAP is the basis of Descartes’ Trademark Argument found in Meditations on First Philosophy. It argues for the existence of God in order to prevent an infinite regress for causes of ideas, where one idea is caused by another ad infinitum. In addition, it intends to secure the use of mental intuitions as a logical tool, since Descartes had previously concluded in Meditations that the senses cannot be trusted. According to the CAP, if p causes q, then p must have at least as much reality as q. In this paper I present an objection to the CAP, and argue that the CAP is false because people can have voluntary actions, which indicate some mode of the mind causing an action. Since Descartes holds that modes have less reality than substances, and actions act on substances voluntary actions must be in violation of the CAP. However, voluntary actions still exist regardless, so the CAP must be false. Additionally, I present a similar problem from historical texts which demonstrates why Descartes’ theory of voluntary action hinges upon the CAP.
Sarah Kahn (Stanford University), “Forming New Habits: A Response to Time-Related Suffering”
Baghdad 8 a.m.
Intrigued by the Buddhist doctrine that the illusion of an enduring self lies at the heart of human suffering, David Velleman seeks to understand this thought from an analytic perspective. In my paper, I reconstruct Velleman’s argument in support of this Buddhist doctrine by articulating the sense in which the illusion of an enduring self is, in fact, an illusion. In addition, I explain Velleman’s auxiliary argument that the illusion of an enduring self gives rise to the illusion of temporal passage. Consequently, the illusion that time passes is the source of suffering that is ameliorated when both illusions are debunked. I, however, push back against Velleman and suggest that acknowledgement of the metaphysical facts is insufficient in reducing suffering. Instead, cultivating habits of mind that more accurately reflect such facts is a sufficient condition of reduced suffering.
Arian Kambaksh (University of Michigan), “A Call for the Reexamination of Sexual Orientation-Based Anti-Discrimination Law”
Edinburgh 2 p.m.
In this essay, I discuss sexual orientation-based discrimination. I begin by considering a scenario that presents a potential conflict between an anti-discrimination law similar to those found in the United States today and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. This leads to an investigation concerning the nature of sexual orientation, which I establish as desire-based and action-independent. I conclude that current U.S. anti-discrimination law does not sufficiently protect against discrimination towards sexual minorities due to its limited scope and should thus be reexamined.
Sajan Karn (Ryerson University), “Meditation on the Death of Sensitivity Examining Jean Amery’s Resentments and their Calls”
Paris 8:45 a.m.
While there is a tendency to condemn resentment morally and perceive it as a pathological condition, in “Resentments”, a Holocaust survivor and Austrian philosopher Jean Amery redefines it as a higher moral attribute. Amery’s advocacy for the preservation of resentments might suggest that he is advocating vengeance indirectly. Nevertheless, upon scrutiny, Amery does not wish to validate the perseveration of resentment indefinitely. Amery’s resentment, instead, reflects a deep meditation on the loss of sensitivity on the one hand and a desire for the restoration of the lost togetherness on the other. Specifically, Amery’s resentment demands the reestablishment of reciprocity which was lost when the non-victims (Germans) witnessed indifferently and apathetically the victims (Jews) being tortured by the perpetrators. However, for the restoration of the lost togetherness, Amery makes an absurd proposal – to reverse time. A question arises if one is morally justified to desire a form of justice which is pragmatically impossible. I bring Sophoclean notion of idealistic justice to argue that the question of the impossibility of justice should not pose a problem for Amery’s ethical stance since Amery’s is a morality of protest.
Makayla Keydel (Lewis & Clark College), “Minds as Models”
Vienna 2 p.m.
The mind is traditionally conceptualized as existing in the head, however the mind may be extended outside of the body. This paper explores one strategy to extend the mind as established by Don Ross and James Ladyman. Ross and Ladyman use their metaphysical framework, which is deeply tied to the sciences, to defend extension of the mind outside of the head. This strategy recognizes minds as useful models. While this strategy avoids the Coupling Constitution Fallacy, its strong commitment to science makes it rather extreme. I illustrate how this minds-as-models strategy is still viable with a lesser commitment to scientism.
Colbert Kirchner (Humboldt State University), “The Moral of the Story: The Knobe Effect”
Vienna 10:30 a.m.
I argue that though Joshua Knobe is correct that moral considerations influence our intuitions about the intentionality of people’s behavior, his explanation of the apparent effect known as the “Knobe effect” wrongly emphasizes both the morality of the “behavior itself” and the “side effect itself.” Starting first with a brief overview of the Knobe effect, and Knobe’s explanation of it, I’ll go on to argue instead that it’s the moral character of the agent, explicit or implied, that guides our intuitions about the intentionality of their actions and the side effects of their actions. I’ll provide evidence in the form of everyday examples, noting important features of the examples, and I’ll conclude with a brief consideration of possible objections.
Kenji Lota (Washington State University), “Emergentism Reconsidered”
Vienna 2:45 p.m.
This paper argues that emergentism is not committed to downward causation but of direct causation. Events that are believed to be caused by a mental state, whether physical or mental, are actually caused by a physical state with a mental property. These mental properties are caused by the complexity of a collection of several physical components. Emergentism, as a view, is often faced by the fallacy of composition given its nomological nature which leads one to resort to dualism. Mental properties cannot exist in and of itself, but it only supports the physical through entailment. This paper will also briefly discuss how emergentism is different from other positions that attempts to solve the mind-body problem. Lastly, it gives a brief discussion regarding some of the conditions of the possibility of emergent properties in conjunction with the characteristics of biological organisms.
Marisa Maccaro (Marist College), “Being or Bullshit? Heideggerian Poetic Truth in the Face of Platonic Suspicion”
Athens 6 p.m.
This paper explores the significance of the effect that the experience of poetic beauty has on our rational faculties. In the Republic, Plato criticizes the poet’s use of beautiful language as mere rhetoric and puts forth a theory of knowledge that is incompatible with the notion of aesthetic truth. He grapples extensively with the question as to whether poetry is helpful or harmful to the human soul before he ultimately banishes the poets for the good of the city. Heidegger, on the other hand, maintains that poetry is essential to our existence in the world, emerging from the very appetitive desires that Plato detests. The role of poetry for Heidegger then, is not to obscure Truth in flowery language, but to bring about an “unconcealing” of potential truths. In light of these conflicting philosophical views, I argue that the revelatory capacity of poetry appeals to our sense of reason and emotion in equal measure. I then show how this presents a challenge to Plato’s conception of poetry as an irrational pleasure that hinders us in our pursuit of Truth.
Blair MacDonald (Simon Fraser University), “Understanding Underdetermination”
Alexandria 2 p.m.
This paper will evaluate the possibility of underdetermination, specifically analyzing global algorithms for generating empirical equivalents. Underdetermination is said to occur when evidence at a given time is not sufficient to determine what beliefs should be held in respect to it. Contrastive underdetermination, the focus of this essay, occurs when a body of evidence well-supports multiple alternative theories. Some argue that contrastive underdetermination occurs as a result of empirical equivalence. Two theories are said to be empirically equivalent if they have the same empirical (or observational) consequences but are conceptually distinct. Two general strategies exist for establishing empirical equivalence, the local and global algorithms. Local algorithms attempt to show that particular theories can be manipulated to produce an empirical equivalent to that theory. Whereas global algorithms attempt to demonstrate that there is a method which will generate empirical equivalents for any theory. There is debate over whether such equivalents exist, and if their existence would warrant underdetermination. In this paper I will argue that for any theory an empirical equivalent can be generated, and that such empirical equivalents underdetermine theory belief.
McAlister Mallory (Boise State University), “On The Rate of Time’s Passage”
Alexandria 9:45 a.m.
According to the A-theory of time, the present is either the only real/existing time where the past no longer exists and the future has yet to exist, or the present has a metaphysically significant property that the past and future do not. In short, A-theorists hold that time passes. B-theorists, who hold that all time is equally real and no time is metaphysically privileged, claim that if time passes it has to pass a certain rate. The rate at which time passes is commonly held to be the rate of one second per second. But is one second per second a rate at all? This paper explores the possibility of this proposed rate of time’s passage and defends the thesis that the rate in untenable and further that the notion of time’s passage altogether is incoherent.
Joe Mitchell (University of California, Santa Barbara), “The Context of Contextualism: Does Keith DeRose give more to the Skeptic than anticipated?”
Alexandria 8 a.m.
Theories of truth are shaped by demonstrations of their failure when they fall prey to skeptical doubts and discussions of what constitutes knowledge closely follow the success or failure of theories of truth. Much of epistemology today is engaged in attempts to show that skeptical positions are flawed enough for us to state philosophically that we have knowledge. One approach that has been under construction in recent decades is contextualism. In his 1995 paper, Keith DeRose laid out a way of modifying contextualism which he claims solves certain skeptical challenges, including the infamous argument from skeptical hypotheses, which he calls the argument from ignorance (not to be confused with the logical fallacy of the same name). This essay will be organized into four sections, with a few additional subsections. In the first section, I will offer a brief overview of the skeptical position. In the second, I will present an overview of Keith DeRose’s version of contextualism and the contextualist response to skepticism. In the third, I will ask three questions which challenge whether DeRose’s contextualism succeeds in solving the skeptical problem. Finally, I will discuss these three questions.
Francis Miyata (Knox College), "War and Spirit: Metaphysics in Contemporary Warfare"
Edinburgh 10:30 a.m.
The West’s seemingly endless war against terror reminds one constantly of the difficulties in fighting an abstract war, whose enemy and aims are unclear. That America does not understand its enemies is evidenced by its inability to conceptualize jihadist motives without the use Western terminology. This observation indicates a further problem: the Western formulation of war does not bear the tools necessary to understand a conception of war that exists apart from its own modernistic worldview. This paper serves to delineate the elements of war that issues from a metaphysical worldview: its raison d’etre, conception of power, valuation of life and death, conditions for manifestation, and sense of victory. This conception of war is presented through an array of religious and metaphysical texts. Lastly, by articulating an alternative understanding of war in the modern world, the paper also brings into focus the ideological elements of our everyday conceptions of war.
Jacob Morris (Boise State University), “A Qualia-Based Objection to Functionalism”
Vienna 3:30 p.m.
This paper presents an original qualia-based objection to functionalist physicalism in the philosophy of mind. Specifically, I argue that the functionalist account wherein experiences with qualia are viewed as functional states leads functionalists to give accounts of many experiences as defined by their qualitative character that are not cross-situationally applicable. I use the example of experiences as of red when viewing and imagining red objects. While it seems that one can undergo identical experiences as of red when viewing and imagining red objects, any functionalist account of the experience will apply to only viewing or imagining, forcing the functionalist to provide two distinct accounts for identical experiences. I conclude by examining four objections to my argument.
Lorenzo Nericcio (California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo), “Two Objections to the Eliminativist Research Program”
Vienna 4:30 p.m.
Eliminative materialist philosophers, like Paul and Patricia Churchland, argue that the common use of mental state language is confused. They hold that neurological descriptions of mental states, more accurate and scientifically rigorous than “folk psychology”, should replace mental state language in a serious research program. In this paper, I argue that eliminative materialism instead poses an awkward and unwieldy research program. I take a computational functionalist position in order to demonstrate the way that mathematical descriptions of natural phenomena are useful in a scientific research program, and that mental states are in principle amenable to mathematical descriptions and modeling. I then argue that the eliminativist cannot avail herself of the same resources.
Michael Pipko (Marist College), “The Ontological Status of Musical Works”
Alexandria 2:45 p.m.
The ontological status of musical works is a controversial topic among those in the field. This paper aims to argue for a nominalist and non-reductive approach to musical works that differentiates musical works from the sound structures commonly equated with them. The difference between sound structures and musical works is heavily emphasized and I conclude that musical works have emergent attributes sound structures do not, these being creatability, fine individuation, and the inclusion of performance means. After establishing this I begin to build an argument for a nonreductive approach to musical works by rejecting the view held by compositional nihilists; that there are no things in our ontology beyond simples. Once I establish that musical works are actual entities in our ontology I argue against them being among the abstract. I then show that the problems with the nominalist approach are not detrimental to the theory.
Emily Polvado (Loyola University), “Home and Imagination in Palestine”
Edinburgh 6 p.m.
This paper focuses on how Gaston Bachelard’s theory of architectural phenomenology can be applied to Palestinian refugee camps. I will discuss Bachelard’s phenomenological theories of topo-analysis and how both memory and imagination work together to create a cohesive oneiric home within the mind. I will also explore how the theory of the oneiric home within the mind can be applied to the status of Palestinian refugees and their present situation in refugee camps and will look at the Dheisheh refugee camp as an example of this theory’s applicability. The implications of Bachelard’s theory as it applies to Palestinian refugee camps is that this will lead to a complicated situation for refugees in considering what places are truly “home” and what are not.
Tyler Porter (Fort Lewis College), “A Necessary Extension on the Refutation of the Ontological Argument”
Athens 8:45 a.m.
The main purpose of this essay on the conceptual ontological argument is to assert that an extension on past refutations of the argument is needed in order to fully invalidate it, and then to describe exactly what that extension is. Before this conclusion is reached, however, a brief précis of Anselm, the position, and its past refutations will be laid out. This descriptive aspect begins with an account of the ontological argument’s origins, before going on to describe Kant’s famous rejection of the claim that existence is a great making property. I argue that Kant’s method is currently the best refutation of the ontological argument, but that it only holds if existence is not a property, which is an assumption that my argument does not rest upon. From there I go on to discuss the hyperintensional refutation to the ontological argument, and how it is very close to succeeding, but that there is ultimately a failure to recognize and deal with the true ramifications of denying the ontological commitment of the word “conceive” - namely, that one must still conceive of God as actually existing. After this I discuss my solution to this alternate conclusion: the assertion that Anselm and his followers have wrongly committed a false equivocation on conception.
Robert Reimanis (Lewis & Clark College), “Semiotic Exograms: Extending the Mind Fully”
Vienna 8 a.m.
This essay is an analysis and expanded defense of John Sutton’s essay “Exograms and Interdisciplinarity: History, the Extended Mind, and the Civilizing Process.” The first section of the essay surveys the extended mind literature, following the first and second waves of the Extended Mind theory. The second section explains Sutton’s exograms as external representations of internal thought. This section also details his argument that exograms extend the mind because, historically, exograms play a role in the internal functioning of a mind. The third section defends Sutton’s argument from objections against their place in mental processes, namely memory. The fourth section argues against the objection that the mind cannot be extended beyond the brain, by appealing to a computational view of functionalism. The conclusions drawn from the third and fourth sections are that the mind, through language, extends with culture and that, even in cognitive science, it is fruitful to study the mind extended as such.
Elisa Reverman (University of Portland), “Moral Obligation vs. Supererogation: The Ethics of Reporting Sexual Assault”
This argument explores whether or not reporting one’s own sexual assault is a moral obligation or an act of supererogation. I explore all the reasons why one may think that reporting their assault may be a moral obligation. I then proceed to show that those reasons are, in fact, insufficient to deem reporting the assault as a moral obligation. Following this, I give additional reasons that victims of sexual assault do not report the assault. Upon dissection of what moral obligation must consist of, and what supererogation consists of, I conclude that the act of a victim of sexual assault reporting their own assault is an act of supererogation. It is a morally worthy act, but not obligatory.
Apollo Rose (North Idaho College), “Self-reliance”
Baghdad 6 p.m.
This paper will be focused on the role that self-reliance plays in the individual. The structures of education and welfare in the united states will be looked at through the lens of philosophers such as: The life experiences of Eldrige Cleaver, the writings of R.W. Emerson, the practices of Dr. Ben Chavis, the critiques of Friedrich Nietzsche on the german higher educational system, and the economical writings of Thomas Sowell.
Kaitlin Rothberger (York University), “Authentic Mourning at the End of the World”
Paris 8 a.m.
“Authentic Mourning at the End of the World” considers death and mourning through Derrida, Heidegger, and Butler in the wake of post-Ferguson America. This paper, more specifically, works to bring Heidegger’s thinking of authentic death alongside Derrida’s thoughts on mourning to make sense of grief as a political tool.
Kayla Santiago-Snyder (Humboldt State University), “Contextualism and the “Actual Meaning” of words”
Amsterdam 4:30 p.m.
In his book, Skepticism: A Case For Ignorance, Peter Unger gives an ordinary language account of skepticism that goes past the traditional dream argument and onto a new frontier, by claiming that the way we use certain words in our everyday language may not be what those words actually mean. This involves a thorough examination of the way we use words in our everyday conversations, namely those that we do not have in a philosophical arena. Unger Uses this method in order to examine how we know things, and if we can ever say that we know anything for certain. In this paper I will be focusing on Unger’s claim that words and sentences have an “actual meaning” outside of the ways we use them in our everyday lives, and will compare it to DeRose’s account of contextualism in order to refute Unger’s account of knowledge.
Yasha Sapir (Reed College), “(Dis)Passionate Politics?”
Baghdad 4:30 p.m.
Martha Nussbaum argues in “The Discernment of Perception” that having the right affective relationships is for Aristotle central to understanding how people come to make rational choices. In book III of his Politics, however, Aristotle seems to take the opposite attitude. He calls desire a “wild beast” and seems to advance the thesis that emotions make people produce worse decisions. I show that this tension, between the Aristotle in Book III of The Politics and the Aristotle in Nussbuam’s paper, is akin to a tension between Nussbaum’s, thesis that affects have cognitive benefits, and a possible objection to it, namely that even as affects can help one in rule-making they might mislead one in rule-following. Through a careful reading of The Politics, I show that this is a tension that Aristotle is himself aware of. And that, moreover, it is a tension for which he has a solution: the law, as the law can be passionately generated but dispassionately applied.
Jeremiah Serrell (Eastern Washington University), “Tao Te Translation”
Athens 4:30 p.m.
As one of the worlds most translated texts, the ancient Chinese classic the “Tao Te Ching” has a surprising degree of variation in regard to the word choice of English translations. The source language is inherently loose and constantly features what English speakers regard as fragmented sentences allowing for a wide variety of English reconstructions. A consequence of this, as is demonstrated in this paper, is that various interpretations tend to emerge in translation which sometimes drift from the central philosophy of Taoism. A series of arguments will therefore be presented for the methods by which the Tao Te Ching can linguistically be presented in English on its own terms, that is, Taoist terms.
Richard Solomon (Indiana University), “Personal Identity, Origination and Abortion”
Baghdad 2:45 p.m.
Personal identity provides significant work to the abortion question. Different theories of personal identity posit different points of personal origination in biological development. Our origination as persons matters in the abortion debate because arguments about the metaphysical status or moral value of an infant, fetus, embryo, or zygote are not coherent without some direction as to what developmental stage “we” begin. This argument contrasts the prevailing view that conditions of numerical personal identity are irrelevant to the abortion debate. I review the bodily criteria and account of personal identity outlined in Judith Jarvis Thomson’s essay “People and Their Bodies” and show how it challenges the accounts of other pro-abortion advocates who deny fetuses personhood status. I show how an account of personal identity founded on psychological or memory continuity offers locations of personal origination both before and after birth, but not at birth. Finally, I outline how the failure of empirical personal identity accounts to discern “border line” cases does not preclude philosophy from offering stable directions for moral debates on induced abortion premised on personal identity.
Alexander Strub (Hiram College), “Lessons from Levinas:‘The Other’ in Being and Time”
Paris 3:30 p.m.
In this paper I will be arguing for an ethical relationship in Martin Heidegger’s thought. Particularly I will be trying to argue against the idea that Heidegger’s thought does not hold the possibility of an ethical relationship. Perhaps the most famous of these critiques stem from the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas who not only accounts for an ethical relationship but makes it foundational throughout his philosophy. In order to attempt to show an ethical relation in Heidegger’s work I will attempt to lay out the central reasons why an ethical relation works for Emmanuel Levinas and then see if those reasons are present in Heidegger’s thought. I identify three reasons why Levinas’ ethical relationship works: the first is that there is an Other that is radically other from myself (something Levinas will call alterity) the second is that the other calls to us and the third is that we are responsible for the call. In arguing for an ethical relationship in Being and Time I will use these three principles as a guiding claim and I think they will manifest as 1) irreducible particularity, 2) the call of the Other and 3) responsibility.
Bobby Thomas (University of Colorado, Boulder), “Revisiting Locke vs Hobbes Using Modern Knowledge of Judgement and Decision Making”
Baghdad 10:30 a.m.
The clashing views of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes are one of the modern philosophical period’s most distinctive debates on human nature. Lock and Hobbes have vastly different views on human nature, specifically how we value and interact with others. Building from their respective ideas on human nature, each of these philosophers puts forth a political theory that epitomize their different beliefs about humans and are accordingly also quite contrasted. Using current knowledge from the field of Psychology, specifically judgment and decision making, a review is made of each of these two great philosophers’ theories to see whose is most reflective of what we now know about human nature.
Luke Tucker (Baylor University), “The Tribesman Analogy Revisited: A Challenge to Skeptical Theism”
Baghdad 8:45 a.m.
The evidential argument from evil puts the theist in an uncomfortable position. Some theists attempt to escape this position by embracing a kind of putatively reasonable skepticism. There is disagreement about whether this kind of skepticism invites too-much-skepticism. This paper intends to show that the skeptical theist runs into trouble when she reasons about her moral obligation. To begin, I briefly survey the philosophical work that inspired this paper: the evidential argument from evil, skeptical theism, the too-much-skepticism objection (specifically, the moral paralysis objection) to skeptical theism, and skeptical theist responses to that objection. Next, I oppose two philosophers: Michael Rea and Stephen Maitzen. First, I challenge Rea’s view that the moral paralysis objection put forth by Maitzen is easily countered. Second, I expose weaknesses in the moral paralysis objection put forth by Maitzen which are not identified by Rea. After this, I develop my own objection to skeptical theism: given her commitments, the skeptical theist should feel obligated to permit instances of apparently gratuitous suffering. First, I argue that the intuition behind my objection is familiar. Second, I use an analogy to illustrate. Third, I explain how this analogy supports my objection.
Quixote Vassilakis (Brooklyn College CUNY), “Moral Development and Literature”
Alexandria 6 p.m.
Martha Nussbaum proposes literature is a means for moral development, which she later elevates the stature of this claim to: literature ought to be considered a type of moral philosophy. Situating her claim within a debate on whether literature has a cognitive value, I reject Jerome Stolnitz’s claim that literature lacks cognitive value. I elaborate upon Catherine Wilson’s perspective instead, where despite having a different sort of cognitive value than practices like science and history, literature possesses significant mental value. I then bring in Peter Lamarque and Stein Olsen’s work in their book Truth, Fiction and Literature to give a brief definition of literature and to suggest that the cognitive/non-cognitive debate may not be an appropriate axis to examine the social significance of literature. Moreover, I’ll show that while Nussbaum’s stronger claim of literature as moral philosophy may not hold water, it is still worthy to ask whether literature plays a role in moral development. I’ll conclude that the more interesting question is not whether, but how literature plays that role and further, that moral development ought not be considered the final aim of literature.
Anya Wang (Knox College), “Finding Intellectual Intuition in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: Non-discursive Knowledge and Christian Mysticism”
Athens 8 a.m.
In the Critique of Pure R eason, Kant argues that, for us, there can be no intellectual intuition. However, his commitment to this position stands in tension with his related views on the unity of apperception, which he argues cannot simply be an empirical fact about the kinds of knowers that we are. Because of the implications of the transcendental unity of apperception, I argue that Kant’s exclusion of intellectual intuition is indefensible. To clarify what is stake in this disagreement I draw on a certain strand of Christian mysticism in order to argue that this sort of knowledge is accessible—indeed indispensable—for reaching the final stage of mystical union with God. Finally, I draw out important similarities between mysticism and Kant’s speculative and practical theories in order to argue that a non-discursive way of knowing is a coherent possibility and necessary for making sense of certain types of experience.
Matthew Watts (Portland State University), “Actionism and Intermodal Deference: Is Sight Visual In Nature?”
Vienna 9:45 a.m.
Actionism allows for radically different kinds of physical systems to support seeing. It’s for this reason that prosthetic sensory conversion devices allow users to experience quasi-visual perception. This sort of qualitative change in phenomenal character (from tactile stimulations to visual experience) is known as “intermodal deference,” and arises because the sensorimotor contingencies required to use the TVSS consist of a pattern that more closely resembles vision than touch. In general, intermodal deference is associated with cases of prosthetic sensory substitution devices, where stimuli pertaining to features of the world regularly perceived through one sense modality are “rerouted” through a different sense modality. In this paper I argue that echolocation satisfies the conditions of actionist intermodal deference, and is therefore a quasi-vision that supports seeing among both blind and sighted individuals and therefore, uni-sensory descriptions of visual experience within actionism misrepresent the sensory input that determines the modality specific experience being described.
Daniel Weldon, (Finlandia University), “Expanding the Confucian Framework: Consequences and Character”
Athens 3:30 p.m.
Typically, Western moral philosophy has sought to understand questions of right and wrong in the absence of Eastern tradition. Yet, Aristotelian ethics has long been used as a lens with which Chinese philosophy can be read from a Western perspective. Since Confucianism, in particular, seems to acquiesce rather well with a virtue ethics, other moral philosophies are seldom applied to the Confucian canon. In this paper, I apply a consequentialist ethics, in support of existing philosophical papers following a similar consequentialist approach. Through this, Confucianism can be seen as a system designed to optimize collective efficacy in society, by stressing actions which lead to positive consequences. This lens allows for an expansion of consequentialist ethics into Confucian philosophy, while also opening Western moral philosophy to a new perspective.
Adrian White (North Idaho College), “Wittgenstein and Philosophy”
Athens 5:15 p.m.
Wittgenstein offers to us a very interesting way to conceive of philosophy in his work Philosophical Investigations. We see in the Investigations that Wittgenstein is contemplating questions such as what can be called a language, our uses of language, rules and rule following and most importantly I think, he is questioning what it is to participate in the act of philosophy and philosophizing. I believe the most important question to ask oneself when embarking on a journey through Wittgenstein’s investigations is what is his account of philosophy. In this paper I will be exploring what it is Wittgenstein thinks philosophy is as well as what he believes philosophy is capable of telling us. This is a complicated picture and through the course of this paper I hope to illuminate some of the goals Wittgenstein thinks philosophy can achieve and the method used to complete these goals. I would also like to explore the concept that Wittgenstein’s philosophy is a type of therapy for those afflicted by the pains that accompany philosophical inquiry. In this work he is writing for the “mind” that cannot seem to let a question go, for those of us who find ourselves plagued by philosophical inquiry that yields more questions than answers. Wittgenstein tells us that philosophers should not and do not supply theories or explanations. What does this mean? What are the consequences for philosophy if as Wittgenstein says it cannot advance theory nor provide any explanation? This therapeutic method that Wittgenstein presents us with is vastly different than the methods used by traditional philosophers throughout our history. I will attempt to show in contrast to traditional methods how Wittgenstein’s method for finding philosophical foundations works and the type of answers we can hope to glean from using his method. What is it we can gain from seeing philosophy in the way that Wittgenstein conceives of it? What are the attractive qualities of his method and what are if any the unattractive qualities of his conception of philosophy? In this paper we will see a definition of philosophy from Wittgenstein, the goals of philosophical inquiry, the method in which we can use to achieve these goals and in what ways does philosophy benefit or not benefit from using Wittgenstein’s method.
Dawson Williams (North Idaho College), “A Contemporary Test of Montaigne: Applying The Method of Essaying”
Athens 10:30 a.m.
The Essais of the French philosopher and Renaissance figure, Michel de Montaigne, are amongst the most dynamic and openly-interpreted texts in the western philosophical canon. My own informative essay analysis is intended to open up the discourse on Montaigne once again. By highlighting four components of the voluminous work, the Essais, I will establish key philosophical themes of Montaigne’ work—self-criticism, eclecticism, skepticism, and relativism. Montaigne’ writings prove that our role as thinker and as the philosopher, is not disregard, but to fully entertain and contend with the ideologies of our day. Essaying was the art Montaigne employed for creating a space for private and public discourse—amongst the ancients and amongst his contemporaries. The applicability of Montaigne’ wisdom and experience I believe will prove startling and illuminating to prospective students.
Trevor Winger (University of Minnesota, Duluth), “What would Wittgenstein say about Charlie Sheen?”
Amsterdam 2:45 p.m.
When we call something a “bad” word, what do we mean? Does the word itself embody the bad, is it in the speaker’s intention, or is there badness when it is perceived a certain way or by certain people? Words that have been deemed bad have been placed into a category, and this category is called pejoratives. Despite their badness, these words are now seeping into everyday language. With this new introduction into everyday conversation, the meaning of these words began to shift; this can leave speakers and hearers of a pejorative in an uncertain state of understanding. Resolving this uncertainty calls for a new analysis of the systems to understand what happens when slurring occurs.
Tyler Wiprud (Pacific University), “Contemporary Technologies as Moral Objects”
Edinburgh 8 a.m.
In the push for strong Artificial Intelligence capable of human-level cognition, it is a popular contention to explore the ethical implications of having a non-biological entity that exhibits human behavior and what sort of ethical implications are there in how Strong AI should be treated as an object and possibly as a subject. This is explored in the field of philosophy and has been explored widely in pop-cult I believe there is a much more interesting discussion to be had, however. In the discussion of ethics and non-biological entities there has been little thought given to how weak AI and other contemporary technologies, and/or those technologies that will be available in the near future should be treated as individual ethical objects. In this paper, I argue that there are contemporary non-biological entities that are of equal or greater cognition than certain biological beings that we already attribute the status of being moral objects. Through looking at several theories of mind and consciousness, such as computational theory of mind, behaviorism, mind-brain identity theory, I show that ethical theories that apply to biological entities should also be pertinent to how we treat contemporary artificial entities as moral objects. By showing that non-biological entities are capable of being worthy of ethical consideration, I will be in direct contention with contemporary philosopher, John Searle, whose Chinese Room thought experiment is vital in the discussion about the difference between consciousness and understanding and whether non-biological beings can be conscious or have understanding at all. I intend to Challenge Searle’s biocentric viewpoint to show that contemporary artificial entities are worthy of consideration as ethical objects.
Chengquan Xiang (Colorado College), “On Time”
Alexandria 10:30 a.m.
When we now think about time, it’s easy to feel a bit like Augustine: “What then is time? If no one asks me, I know: if I wish to explain it to one who asks, I know not.” In this paper, through discussing McTaggart’s two ways (A-series & B-series) of describing the temporal relation between events along with his objection to the reality of time, I will provide a detailed exposition of why change can be expressed within the A-series and why the A-series contains a contradiction. In addition, I will also demonstrate step by step that McTaggart’s argument about time does not flow from one moment to the next in the “B-series” of time. I will expound upon the concept to sketch the objective and subjective time perceptions from Kant’s logical perspectives. Then, by identifying objective and subjective temporal concept types, based on Smart’s and Sartre’s arguments regarding the incapability of applying physical reductionism on time and the absence of passage in human definition of time, I shall argue that the notion of time is subjective and can only be considered as relatively objective.
Kexin Yu (University of Rochester), Unpacking the City-Soul Analogy”
Athens 2:45 p.m.
In the Republic, the city-soul analogy made by Plato paves the way for the entire dialogue. The main interlocutors use the analogy to show the nature of justice and aim to prove that just people live better and are happier than unjust people, by establishing a city to which justice, as defined by them, is applied. Scholars have recently been debating the validity of this analogy. Some critics assert that there are several significant structural inconsistencies and logical misconceptions, thus making the analogy fallacious; at the same time, there are proponents who write extensively in favor of this analogy and defend it against the objections raised. In this paper, I will re-examine passages in the Republic where the analogy first occurs, evaluate the critique made by Bernard Williams, and present arguments defending Plato’ strategy. Ultimately, I will show that Plato’ city-soul analogy is not as far-fetched as Williams argues and this analogy – as a crucial strategy of Plato’s – is efficient and powerful enough in showing the similarities between the city and the soul, for the interlocutors to justifiably and reasonably reach the conclusion that the justice of the individual is the same as that of the city.