Florida Philosophical Review

Current Issue

Vol. X.3, Winter 2014

Volume XIV, Number 1

Winter 2014

Copyright 2014 by The University of Central Florida: ISSN 1535-3656

Editorial Board

Table of Contents

  1. Editors' Introduction by Peter Oleni
  2. "Humanizing Naturalism" by Scott Kimbrough1
  3. "A Note on Dennis Dutton’s Conception of Art" by John Valentine14
  4. "Informal Proceedings from the Panel Discussion on Diversity" by Marcous, Park, and Sadler24
  5. "Introducing the Elephant in the Room" by Carmen Maria Marcous25
  6. "Problems and Solutions: Diversity in Philosophy" by Brook J. Sadler31
  7. "The 'Feminist Killjoy' in the Room: The Costs of Caring about Diversity" by Shelley Park36
  8. "Web Resources on Women and Underrepresented Groups" by Marcous, Park, and Sadler44
  9. "Nancy Stanlick's American Philosophy: The Basics" by Matthew Groe48
  10. "Comments on American Philosophy: The Basics" by Peter Olen56
  11. "A Response to Critics" by Nancy Stanlick64
  12. "Pointing out the Skeptic’s Mistake" by Ryan Simonelli69
  13. "Counterfactual Thinking and Thought Experiments" by Josh Turkewitz85
  14. Notes on Contributors97
Editors' Introduction

Editor's Introduction

Peter Olen

The newest issue of the Florida Philosophical Review addresses a variety of topics, most of which initially appeared at the annual meeting of the Florida Philosophical Association in the fall of 2013. Apart from excellent papers representing the graduate award (Josh Turkewitz's "Counterfactual Thinking and Thought Experiments"), undergraduate award (Ryan Simonelli’s "Pointing Out the Skeptic’s Mistake"), and Presidential address (Scott Kimbrough's "Humanizing Naturalism"), there are also two panel contributions: one that addresses issues surrounding diversity in our profession (including a supplemental resource list) and another focused on Nancy Stanlick’s recent book on American Philosophy.

In addition, please consider submitting a paper to our first special issue on the philosophy of humor (presented in conjunction with the Lighthearted Philosophers' Society). This should be an especially interesting issue, one covering a topic frequently omitted form the philosophical canon, and it would be at its best if we could secure submissions from a variety of philosophers and traditions.

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Winter 2014

Abstract

Humanizing Naturalism

Presidential Address of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Florida Philosophical Association, 2013
Scott Kimbrough, Jacksonville University

Against the backdrop of declining support for the humanities in American culture, this presidential address urges the philosophical community to examine itself. Scientific naturalists in particular are invited to apply their theories about the tribal nature of human social groups to their own community. The ultimate goal is to encourage contemporary naturalistic philosophers to reclaim the humanistic appeal of historical naturalists such as William James and David Hume. While the goal of the essay is serious, its tone as a dinnertime address is irreverent, including among other indiscretions an analogy between prominent philosophical naturalists and leaders of the Tea Party.

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Abstract

A Note on Denis Dutton's Concept of Art

John Valentine, Savannah College of Art and Design

In The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution, Denis Dutton articulates a cluster criteria concept of art that is comprised of twelve parts. His approach is rooted in evolutionary aesthetics and focuses on the idea that, in cross-cultural terms, the concept of art is best understood at the ‘conceptual center’ of paradigmatic cases of art. Dutton’s central theme is that thousands of generations of evolution in the Pleistocene period created an art instinct in Homo sapiens that gradually culminated in the predominance of these twelve definitional criteria of art by way of sexual selection. That is, each criterion had survival value in terms of skill displays, mate selection, and perpetuation of genes. The purpose of this paper is to examine the adequacy of Dutton’s concept of art in the context of significant counter-examples to his position from aesthetic theory and practice.

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Introduction

Informal Proceedings from the Panel Discussion on Diversity

Marcous, Park, and Sadler

Recently, Anglo-American philosophy has become something of a scandal. The disturbing lack of women and minorities in the field, combined with revelations of institutional discrimination and sexual harassment in several departments of Philosophy, have placed philosophy in the national and international spotlight. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, and other under-represented groups in the discipline have created blogs, conferences, task forces, guides, and other sites to give voice to, and address the concerns of, the philosophically marginalized. It is this background that gave rise to the formation of our panel on diversity at the 59th annual meeting of the Florida Philosophical Association. Our remarks here participate in a much larger, continuing conversation that we are inviting the reader to join. A list of resources for those interested in addressing philosophy’s “diversity problem” is attached at the end of the panel.

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Abstract

Introducing the Elephant in the Room

Carmen Maria Marcous, Florida State University

This essay is based on a presentation I gave (and the feedback I received) as a member of a “diversity panel” at the 59th Annual Conference of the Florida Philosophical Association. The intent of this short essay is simple and somewhat informal: provide a conversational strategy for starting a discussion about the problem of the lack of diversity in academic philosophy, one that elevates the dialogue above superficial rhetoric, and works to promote instances of in-depth, meaningful philosophical exploration into such matters.

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Abstract

Problems and Solutions: Diversity in Philosophy

Brook J. Sadler, University of South Florida

In this short essay, based on remarks presented at a panel discussion on diversity at the 2013 meeting of the Florida Philosophical Association, I discuss some of the interlocking ways in which women and racial/ethnic minorities have been under-represented, excluded, marginalized, and devalued in academic philosophy. I propose that even if the causes of the problem are many, solutions are nonetheless possible. I claim that substantial change in the profession will require the participation of the white, male majority. I suggest that such change is needed for at least three reasons: justice, scholarly integrity, and the social and economic viability of the discipline.

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Abstract

The "Feminist Killjoy" in the Room: The Costs of Caring about Diversity

Shelley M. Park, University of Central Florida

This brief essay – based partially on remarks made as a member of a "diversity panel" at a recent Florida Philosophical Association meeting and partially on the reception of those remarks – concerns the rhetorical spaces from which one is allowed to speak as a woman in philosophy. I identify two gendered locations from which women are allowed to speak about the diversity problem in philosophy: 1) the happy woman of reason and 2) the unhappy feminist philosopher. Drawing on Marilyn Frye's analysis of the double-bind as a symptom of oppression and Sara Ahmed's reflections on the figure of "the feminist killjoy", I argue that both gendered locales undermine one’s ability to bring about transformative change in the discipline.

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Web Resources

Web Resources on Women and Underrepresented Groups in Philosophy

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Abstract

Nancy Stanlick's American Philosophy: The Basics

Matthew Groe, Jacksonville University

I offer a few thoughts about Nancy Stanlick's recently published monograph, American Philosophy: The Basics. While I take issue with a few details, such as a remark made about John Dewey’s understanding of metaphysics, I end with a note of appreciation. Stanlick’s decision to include ideas from sources not usually included in a philosophy book, whether one agrees with it or not, challenges readers to rethink, in a fresh and healthy way, what philosophy is and how it should be practiced.

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Abstract

Comments on American Philosophy: The Basics

Peter Olen, Lake Sumter State College

I provide some brief critiques concerning Nancy Stanlick’s recent work, American Philosophy: The Basics. While it should be considered an exceptional and inclusive study of American philosophy, I argue that Stanlick’s work suffers from too strong of an emphasis on the idea that American philosophy, and thus American philosophers, are wholly characterized by an emphasis on the practical.

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A Response to Critics

A Response to Critics

Nancy Stanlick, University of Central Florida

As both commentators have noted, American Philosophy: The Basics contains an expanded conception of American philosophy and, in addition, it is a challenge to the very conception of what philosophy is. The traditional categories such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and other areas of philosophical inquiry are the primary divisions in each chapter of the book, but that is perhaps the point at which nothing is quite the same. The themes of the book are the practical applications of philosophical ideas, revolutionary and evolutionary thought, and a critical and constructive look at how these two themes lead to the third, which focuses on justice, rights, and equality...

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Abstract

Ryan Simonelli, New College of Florida

Nancy Stanlick, University of Central Florida

Donald Davidson argues that the very nature of belief ensures that, if we have any beliefs at all, most of them must be true. He takes this to show that Cartesian skepticism is fundamentally mistaken. Many commentators, however, find this response to skepticism to be lacking. In this paper, I draw from recent work by Rebecca Kukla and Mark Lance and attempt to give Davidson’s argument a newfound force by applying it to our acts of ostension, of pointing others to features in our shared environment. The sort of ostensive argument that I extract from Davidson remains largely unexplored in skepticism’s vast literature, and I argue that this is the strongest way to read Davidson’s epistemological work, providing a response to some influential objections to his arguments.

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Abstract

Counterfactual Thinking and Thought Experiments

Josh Turkewitz, Florida State University

As part of an inquiry into the methods by which philosophical investigation arrives at knowledge, Timothy Williamson formalizes an argument that describes the logical structure of thought experiments. However, his formalization has an acknowledged difficulty: under certain conditions the major premise is false. This paper presents a modified argument that avoids such a difficulty.

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Notes on Contributors

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