In this paper, I address a topic that has been mostly neglected in Leibniz scholarship: Leibniz’s conception of number. I argue that Leibniz thinks of numbers as a certain kind of relation, and that as such, numbers have a privileged place in his metaphysical system as entities that express a certain kind of possibility. Establishing the relational view requires reconciling two seemingly inconsistent definitions of number in Leibniz’s corpus; establishing where numbers fit in Leibniz’s ontology requires confronting a challenge from (...) the well-known nominalist reading of Leibniz most forcefully articulated in Mates. While my main focus is limited to the positive integers, I also argue that Leibniz intends to subsume them under a more general conception of number. (shrink)
Though many ethicists have the intuition that we should leave nature alone, Kyle Johannsen argues that we have a duty to research safe ways of providing large-scale assistance to wild animals. Using concepts from moral and political philosophy to analyze the issue of wild animal suffering (WAS), Johannsen explores how a collective, institutional obligation to assist wild animals should be understood. He claims that with enough research, genetic editing may one day give us the power to safely intervene without (...) perpetually interfering with wild animals’ liberties.---------------Questions addressed include: In what way is nature valuable and is interference compatible with that value? Is interference a requirement of justice? What are the implications of WAS for animal rights advocacy? What types of intervention are promising?---------------Expertly moving the debate about human relations with wild animals beyond its traditional confines, Wild Animal Ethics is essential reading for students and scholars of political philosophy and political theory studying animal ethics, environmental ethics, and environmental philosophy. (shrink)
The analysis of desire ascriptions has been a central topic of research for philosophers of language and mind. This work has mostly focused on providing a theory of want reports, i.e. sentences of the form 'S wants p'. In this paper, we turn attention from want reports to a closely related, but relatively understudied construction, namely hope reports, i.e. sentences of the form 'S hopes p'. We present two contrasts involving hope reports, and show that existing approaches to desire fail (...) to explain these contrasts. We then develop a novel account that combines some of the central insights in the literature. We argue that our theory provides us with an elegant account of our contrasts, and yields a promising analysis of hoping. (shrink)
The Ideal Worlds Account of Desire says that S wants p just in case all of S's most highly preferred doxastic possibilities make p true. The account predicts that a desire report 'S wants p' should be true so long as there is some doxastic p-possibility that is most preferred (by S). But we present a novel argument showing that this prediction is incorrect. More positively, we take our examples to support alternative analyses of desire, and close by briefly considering (...) what our cases suggest about the logic of desire. (shrink)
This paper defends a new norm of assertion: Assert that p only if you are in a position to know that p. We test the norm by judging its performance in explaining three phenomena that appear jointly inexplicable at first: Moorean paradoxes, lottery propositions, and selfless assertions. The norm succeeds by tethering unassertability to unknowability while untethering belief from assertion. The PtK‐norm foregrounds the public nature of assertion as a practice that can be other‐regarding, allowing asserters to act in the (...) best interests of their audience when psychological pressures would otherwise prevent them from communicating the knowable truth. (shrink)
According to the doctrine of infallibility, one is permitted to believe p if one knows that necessarily, one would be right if one believed that p. This plausible principle—made famous in Descartes’ cogito—is false. There are some self-fulfilling, higher-order propositions one can’t be wrong about but shouldn’t believe anyway: believing them would immediately make one's overall doxastic state worse.
Hypocrites are often thought to lack the standing to blame others for faults similar to their own. Although this claim is widely accepted, it is seldom argued for. We offer an argument for the claim that nonhypocrisy is a necessary condition on the standing to blame. We first offer a novel, dispositional account of hypocrisy. Our account captures the commonsense view that hypocrisy involves making an unjustified exception of oneself. This exception-making involves a rejection of the impartiality of morality and (...) thereby a rejection of the equality of persons, which we argue grounds the standing to blame others. (shrink)
Unlike first-person Moorean sentences, it’s not always awkward to assert, 'p, but you don’t know that p.' This can seem puzzling: after all, one can never get one’s audience to know the asserted content by speaking thus. Nevertheless, such assertions can be conversationally useful, for instance, by helping speaker and addressee agree on where to disagree. I will argue that such assertions also make trouble for the growing family of views about the norm of assertion that what licenses proper assertion (...) is not the initiating epistemic position of the speaker but the (potential) resulting epistemic position of the audience. (shrink)
This paper presents a puzzle involving embedded attitude reports. We resolve the puzzle by arguing that attitude verbs take restricted readings: in some environments the denotation of attitude verbs can be restricted by a given proposition. For example, when these verbs are embedded in the consequent of a conditional, they can be restricted by the proposition expressed by the conditional’s antecedent. We formulate and motivate two conditions on the availability of verb restrictions: a constraint that ties the content of restrictions (...) to the “dynamic effects” of sentential connectives and a constraint that limits the availability of restriction effects to present tense verbs with first-person subjects. However, we also present some cases that make trouble for these conditions, and outline some possible ways of modifying the view to account for the recalcitrant data. We conclude with a brief discussion of some of the connections between our semantics for attitude verbs and issues concerning epistemic modals and theories of knowledge. (shrink)
In some sentences, demonstratives can be substituted with definite descriptions without any change in meaning. In light of this, many have maintained that demonstratives are just a type of definite description. However, several theorists have drawn attention to a range of cases where definite descriptions are acceptable, but their demonstrative counterparts are not. Some have tried to account for this data by appealing to presupposition. I argue that such presuppositional approaches are problematic, and present a pragmatic account of the target (...) contrasts. On this approach, demonstratives take two arguments and generally require that the first, covert argument is non-redundant with respect to the second, overt argument. I derive this condition through an economy principle discussed by Schlenker (2005). (shrink)
In this paper, I raise a problem for standard precisifications of the Relational Analysis of attitude reports. The problem I raise involves counterfactual attitude verbs. such as ‘wish’. In short, the trouble is this: there are true attitude reports ‘ S wishes that P ’ but there is no suitable referent for the term ‘that P ’. The problematic reports illustrate that the content of a subject’s wish is intimately related to the content of their beliefs. I capture this fact (...) by moving to a framework in which ‘wish’ relates subjects to sets of pairs of worlds, or paired propositions, rather than—as is standardly assumed—sets of worlds. Although other types of counterfactual attitude reports, for example those involving ‘imagine’, may be similarly problematic, at this stage it is unclear whether they can be handled the same way. (shrink)
In the concluding chapter of Exceeding our Grasp Kyle Stanford outlines a positive response to the central issue raised brilliantly by his book, the problem of unconceived alternatives. This response, called "epistemic instrumentalism", relies on a distinction between instrumental and literal belief. We examine this distinction and with it the viability of Stanford's instrumentalism, which may well be another case of exceeding our grasp.
Trust is a central concept in the philosophy of science. We highlight how trust is important in the wide variety of interactions between science and society. We claim that examining and clarifying the nature and role of trust (and distrust) in relations between science and society is one principal way in which the philosophy of science is socially relevant. We argue that philosophers of science should extend their efforts to develop normative conceptions of trust that can serve to facilitate trust (...) between scientific experts and ordinary citizens. The first project is the development of a rich normative theory of expertise and experience that can explain why the various epistemic insights of diverse actors should be trusted in certain contexts and how credibility deficits can be bridged. The second project is the development of concepts that explain why, in certain cases, ordinary citizens may distrust science, which should inform how philosophers of science conceive of the formulation of science policy when conditions of distrust prevail. The third project is the analysis of cases of successful relations of trust between scientists and non-scientists that leads to understanding better how ‘postnormal’ science interactions are possible using trust. (shrink)
Kriegel has revived adverbialism as a theory of consciousness. But recent attacks have shed doubt on the viability of the theory. To save adverbialism, I propose that the adverbialist take a stance on the nature of adverbial modification. On one leading theory, adverbial modification turns on the instantiation by a substance of a psychological type. But the resulting formulation of adverbialism turns out to be a mere notational variant on the relationalist approaches against which Kriegel dialectically situates adverbialism. By contrast, (...) I argue that the way to be an adverbialist is to adopt an event ontology, emphasizing the active contribution of the mind to the phenomenology of experience. My close examination of the semantics of adverbial modification throws this metaphysical distinction into sharp relief. The event-based semantics overcomes recent objections in a way superior to the methods that would have been obviously available in the absence of a sophisticated semantics. (shrink)
Recently, a number of epistemologists (notably Feldman ,  and White , ) have argued for the rational uniqueness thesis, the principle that any set of evidence permits only one rationally acceptable attitude toward a given proposition. In contrast, this paper argues for extreme rational permissivism, the view that two agents with the same evidence may sometimes arrive at contradictory beliefs rationally. This paper identifies different versions of uniqueness and permissivism that vary in strength and range, argues that evidential peers (...) with different interests need not rationally endorse all the same hypotheses, argues that evidential peers who weigh the theoretic virtues differently can sometimes rationally endorse contradictory conclusions, and finally defends the permissivist appeal to standards against objections in the works of Feldman and White. (shrink)
In 2019, several US states passed “heartbeat” bills. Should such bills go into effect, they would outlaw abortion once an embryonic heartbeat can be detected, thereby severely limiting an individual’s access to abortion. Many states allow health care professionals to refuse to provide an abortion for reasons of conscience. Yet heartbeat bills do not include a positive conscience clause that would allow health care professionals to provide an abortion for reasons of conscience. I argue that this asymmetry is unjustified. The (...) same criteria that justify protecting conscientious refusals to provide abortion also justify protecting positive conscientious appeals regarding abortion. Thus, if the law provides legal exemptions for health care professionals who, as a matter of conscience, refuse to provide abortions where it is legal, it should also provide exemptions for health care professionals who, as a matter of conscience, feel obligated to provide abortions where it is illegal. (shrink)
Although much has been written about the truth-conditions of de re attitude reports, little attention has been paid to certain ‘ultra-liberal’ uses of those reports. We believe that if these uses are legitimate, then a number of interesting consequences for various theses in philosophical semantics follow. The majority of the paper involves describing these consequences. In short, we argue that, if true, ultra-liberal reports: bring counterexamples to a popular approach to de re attitude ascriptions, which we will call ‘descriptivism’; and (...) combine with independently plausible principles about the logic of belief to imply that subjects can achieve omniscience about what exists from the armchair. Although we are not committed to the view that ultra-liberal reports are false, in the final part of the paper we discuss the prospects of pursuing a line according to which the acceptability of such reports ought not be taken at face value. We conclude by arguing that those who are sympathetic with this move might have reason to doubt the truth of an even broader class of acceptable de re attitude reports, namely those that have been taken to undermine orthodox accounts of de re attitude ascriptions. (shrink)
I give an account of the compositional semantics of unconditionals that explains their relationship to if -conditionals in the Lewis/Kratzer/Heim tradition. Unconditionals involve an alternative-denoting adjunct that supplies domain restrictions pointwise to a main-clause operator such as a modal. The differences from if -clauses follow from the structure of the adjuncts; both are conditionals in the Lewisian sense. In the course of treating unconditionals, I provide a concrete implementation of conditionals where conditional adjuncts in general are a species of correlative, (...) and show what detaching this hypothesis from if involves. (shrink)
This paper proposes a new Separabilist account of thick concepts, called the Expansion View (or EV). According to EV, thick concepts are expanded contents of thin terms. An expanded content is, roughly, the semantic content of a predicate along with modifiers. Although EV is a form of Separabilism, it is distinct from the only kind of Separabilism discussed in the literature, and it has many features that Inseparabilists want from an account of thick concepts. EV can also give non-cognitivists a (...) novel escape from the Anti-Disentangling Argument. §I explains the approach of all previous Separabilists, and argues that there’s no reason for Separabilists to take this approach. §II explains EV. §III fends off objections. And §IV explains how non-cognitivist proponents of EV can escape the Anti-Disentangling Argument. (shrink)
It is widely agreed that hypocrisy can undermine one’s moral standing to blame. According to the Nonhypocrisy Condition on standing, R has the standing to blame some other agent S for a violation of some norm N only if R is not hypocritical with respect to blame for violations of N. Yet this condition is seldom argued for. Macalester Bell points out that the fact that hypocrisy is a moral fault does not yet explain why hypocritical blame is standingless blame. (...) She raises a challenge: one must explain what is distinct about hypocritical blame such that the hypocritical blamer lacks the standing to blame, even if the arrogant or petty blamer does not. Of those writing on hypocrisy, only we offer a direct response to Bell’s challenge. Recently, however, our account has come under criticism. We argue here that (1) our account can handle these criticisms and that (2) no other rival account adequately addresses Bell’s challenge of explaining what is uniquely objectionable about hypocritical blame. Because answering Bell’s challenge is a necessary component of any plausible account of the relationship between hypocrisy and standing, our account remains the best on offer. (shrink)
In this paper, I explain the arguments my critics target and I respond to their criticisms. Some of my replies further expand upon the ideas covered in my book—'A Conceptual Investigation of Justice'—and some cover matters that weren’t discussed there. This paper thus substantially contributes to the arguments made in my book.
Ideas for How to Take Wicked Problems Seriously Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-5 DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9348-9 Authors Kyle Powys Whyte, Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University, 503 S. Kedzie Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA Paul B. Thompson, Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University, 503 S. Kedzie Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
Several theorists have observed that attitude reports have what we call “revisionist” uses. For example, even if Pete has never met Ann and has no idea that she exists, Jane can still say to Jim ‘Pete believes Ann can learn to play tennis in ten lessons’ if Pete believes all 6-year-olds can learn to play tennis in ten lessons and it is part of Jane and Jim’s background knowledge that Ann is a 6-year-old. Jane’s assertion seems acceptable because the claim (...) she reports Pete as believing is entailed by Pete’s beliefs if they are revised in light of Jane and Jim’s background knowledge. We provide a semantic theory of revisionist reports based on this idea. We observe that the admissible “revisions” are limited in a striking way. Jane cannot say ‘Pete thinks Ann is a 6-year-old and can play tennis in ten lessons’ in the same context that she can say ‘Pete believes Ann can learn to play tennis ten lessons’, even though this too follows from Jane and Jim’s background knowledge together with what Pete believes. Our theory predicts the infelicity of these latter reports. It also has the resources to predict the truth of “exported” attitude reports and casts the relationship between these reports and “singular thought” in a new light. We conclude by discussing how revisionist reports make trouble for a simplistic view of the connection between the relations expressed by attitude verbs in natural language and the relations of most interest to philosophers of mind and cognitive science. (shrink)
Ethicists are typically willing to grant that thick terms (e.g. ‘courageous’ and ‘murder’) are somehow associated with evaluations. But they tend to disagree about what exactly this relationship is. Does a thick term’s evaluation come by way of its semantic content? Or is the evaluation pragmatically associated with the thick term (e.g. via conversational implicature)? In this paper, I argue that thick terms are semantically associated with evaluations. In particular, I argue that many thick concepts (if not all) conceptually entail (...) evaluative contents. The Semantic View has a number of outspoken critics, but I shall limit discussion to the most recent--Pekka Väyrynen--who believes that objectionable thick concepts present a problem for the Semantic View. After advancing my positive argument in favor of the Semantic View (section II), I argue that Väyrynen’s attack is unsuccessful (section III). One reason ethicists cite for not focusing on thick concepts is that such concepts are supposedly not semantically evaluative whereas traditional thin concepts (e.g. good and wrong) are. But if my view is correct, then this reason must be rejected. (shrink)
In our 2018 paper, “Hypocrisy and the Standing to Blame,” we offer an argument justifying the Nonhypocrisy Condition on the standing to blame. Benjamin Rossi (2018) has recently offered several criticisms of this view. We defend our account from Rossi’s criticisms and emphasize our account’s unique advantage: explaining why hypocritical blamers lack the standing to blame.
Indigenous peoples often embrace different versions of the concept of food sovereignty. Yet some of these concepts are seemingly based on impossible ideals of food self-sufficiency. I will suggest in this essay that for at least some North American Indigenous peoples, food sovereignty movements are not based on such ideals, even though they invoke concepts of cultural revitalization and political sovereignty. Instead, food sovereignty is a strategy of Indigenous resurgence that negotiates structures of settler colonialism that erase the ecological value (...) of certain foods for Indigenous peoples. (shrink)
The development of artificial intelligence will require systems of ethical decision making to be adapted for automatic computation. However, projects to implement moral reasoning in artificial moral agents so far have failed to satisfactorily address the widespread disagreement between competing approaches to moral philosophy. In this paper I argue that the proper response to this situation is to design machines to be fundamentally uncertain about morality. I describe a computational framework for doing so and show that it efficiently resolves common (...) obstacles to the implementation of moral philosophy in intelligent machines. (shrink)
Several writers have argued that the state lacks the moral standing to hold socially deprived offenders responsible for their crimes because the state would be hypocritical in doing so. Yet the state is not disposed to make an unfair exception of itself for committing the same sorts of crimes as socially deprived offenders, so it is unclear that the state is truly hypocritical. Nevertheless, the state is disposed to inconsistently hold its citizens responsible, blaming or punishing socially deprived offenders more (...) often or more harshly than other offenders, even when the crimes are the same. The state’s stable disposition to inconsistently hold offenders responsible undermines its standing to hold offenders responsible for the same reasons that hypocrisy undermines standing; instead of making an unfair exception of itself, the state makes an unfair exception of others. Strikingly, this means that the state lacks the standing to hold anyone responsible for a crime for which it is unfairly disposed to hold citizens responsible inconsistently, not just socially deprived offenders. Thus, it is even more urgent that the state regain its moral standing by working toward a justice system that holds offenders responsible consistently. (shrink)
The Gettier problem has stymied epistemologists. But, whether or not this problem is resolvable, we still must face an important question: Why does the Gettier problem arise in the first place? So far, philosophers have seen it as either a problem peculiar to the concept of knowledge, or else an instance of a general problem about conceptual analysis. But I would like to steer a middle course. I argue that the Gettier problem arises because knowledge is a thick concept, and (...) a Gettier-like problem is just what we should expect from attempts at analyzing a thick concept. Section 2 is devoted to establishing the controversial claim that knowledge is thick, and, in Sect. 3, I show that there is a general problem for analyzing thick concepts of which the Gettier problem is a special instance. I do not take a stand on whether the Gettier problem, or its general counterpart, is resolvable. My primary aim is to bring these problems into better focus. (shrink)
Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (2008) contend that mandated choice is the most practical nudge for increasing organ donation. We argue that they are wrong, and their mistake results from failing to appreciate how perceptions of meaning can influence people's responses to nudges. We favor a policy of default to donation that is subject to immediate family veto power, includes options for people to opt out (and be educated on how to do so), and emphasizes the role of organ procurement (...) organizations and in-house transplant donation coordinators creating better environments for increasing the supply of organs and tissues obtained from cadavers. This policy will provide better opportunities for offering nudges in contexts where in-house coordinators work with families. We conclude by arguing that nudges can be introduced ethically and effectively into these contexts only if nudge designers collaborate with in-house coordinators and stakeholders. (shrink)
ABSTRACTPolitical reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and settler nations is among the major ethical issues of the twenty-first century for millions of Indigenous peoples globally. Political reconciliation refers to the aspiration to transform violent and harmful relationships into respectful relationships. This essay discusses how efforts to achieve reconciliation are not feasible when settler nations and some of their citizens believe Indigenous peoples to be clamoring for undeserved privileges. Settler colonialism often includes the illusion that historic and contemporary settler populations have moral (...) grounds for their mistreatment of Indigenous peoples. This illusion masks historical and ongoing practices of settler colonialism that thwart effective practices of reconciliation. (shrink)
Husserl’s philosophy of mathematics, his metatheory, and his transcendental phenomenology have a sophisticated and systematic interrelation that remains relevant for questions of ontology today. It is well established that Husserl anticipated many aspects of model theory. I focus on this aspect of Husserl’s philosophy in order to argue that Thomasson’s recent pleonastic reconstruction of Husserl’s approach to essences is incompatible with Husserl’s philosophy as a whole. According to the pleonastic approach, Husserl can appeal to essences in the absence of a (...) positive metaphysical account of their nature. I show, using central results from recent model theory, that the pleonastic approach undermines Husserl’s approach to formalization and categoricity, an effect that will ripple out from Husserl’s philosophy of mathematics into Husserl’s metatheory and transcendental phenomenology. The result is that Husserl cannot appeal to formal essences without metaphysical commitments. However, the very observations Thomasson makes about the nature of eidetic intuition in Husserl lead to a general strategy for responding to the problem. The article thus illustrates that the pleonastic and the model-theoretic routes for making Husserl relevant to present-day ontology are competing approaches, but I conclude that Husserl scholars seeking to set Husserl’s present-day relevance into sharp relief could do worse than to emphasize the model-theoretic nature of Husserl’s enterprise. (shrink)
The incredible achievements of modern scientific theories lead most of us to embrace scientific realism: the view that our best theories offer us at least roughly accurate descriptions of otherwise inaccessible parts of the world like genes, atoms, and the big bang. In Exceeding Our Grasp, Stanford argues that careful attention to the history of scientific investigation invites a challenge to this view that is not well represented in contemporary debates about the nature of the scientific enterprise. The historical record (...) of scientific inquiry, Stanford suggests, is characterized by what he calls the problem of unconceived alternatives. Past scientists have routinely failed even to conceive of alternatives to their own theories and lines of theoretical investigation, alternatives that were both well-confirmed by the evidence available at the time and sufficiently serious as to be ultimately accepted by later scientific communities. Stanford supports this claim with a detailed investigation of the mid-to-late 19th century theories of inheritance and generation proposed in turn by Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, and August Weismann. He goes on to argue that this historical pattern strongly suggests that there are equally well-confirmed and scientifically serious alternatives to our own best theories that remain currently unconceived. Moreover, this challenge is more serious than those rooted in either the so-called pessimistic induction or the underdetermination of theories by evidence, in part because existing realist responses to these latter challenges offer no relief from the problem of unconceived alternatives itself. Stanford concludes by investigating what positive account of the spectacularly successful edifice of modern theoretical science remains open to us if we accept that our best scientific theories are powerful conceptual tools for accomplishing our practical goals, but abandon the view that the descriptions of the world around us that they offer are therefore even probably or approximately true. (shrink)
Predicate approaches to modality have been a topic of increased interest in recent intensional logic. Halbach and Welch :71–100, 2009) have proposed a new formal technique to reduce the necessity predicate to an operator, demonstrating that predicate and operator methods are ultimately compatible. This article concerns the question of whether Halbach and Welch’s approach can provide a uniform formal treatment for intensionality. I show that the monotonicity constraint in Halbach and Welch’s proof for necessity fails for almost all possible-worlds theories (...) of knowledge. The nonmonotonicity results demonstrate that the most obvious way of emulating Halbach and Welch’s rapprochement of the predicate and operator fails in the epistemic setting. (shrink)
Although a safe, effective, and licensed coronavirus vaccine does not yet exist, there is already controversy over how it ought to be allocated. Justice is clearly at stake, but it is unclear what justice requires in the international distribution of a scarce vaccine during a pandemic. Many are condemning ‘vaccine nationalism’ as an obstacle to equitable global distribution. We argue that limited national partiality in allocating vaccines will be a component of justice rather than an obstacle to it. For there (...) are role-based and community-embedded responsibilities to take care of one’s own, which constitute legitimate moral reasons for some identity-related prioritisation. Furthermore, a good form of vaccine nationalism prioritises one’s own without denying or ignoring duties derived from a principle of equal worth, according to which all persons, regardless of citizenship or identity, equally deserve vaccine-induced protection from COVID-19. Rather than dismissing nationalism as a tragic obstacle, it is necessary to acknowledge that a limited form of it is valuable and expresses moral commitments. Only then can one understand our world of competing obligations, a world where cosmopolitan duties of benevolence sometimes conflict with special obligations of community membership. Once these competing obligations are recognised as such, we can begin the work of designing sound ethical frameworks for achieving justice in the global distribution of a coronavirus vaccine and developing practical strategies for avoiding, mitigating or resolving conflicts of duty. (shrink)