Presidential Address of the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Florida Philosophical Association, 2016
We all know that politics and religion divide people—especially these days. In The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion Jonathan Haidt offers an intriguing defense of the Humean view that we are ruled by our passions, which he metaphorically refers to as an elephant that has to be ridden. Serving this elephant is what leads us to division. In this address, and in contrast to Haidt, I wish to suggest that “the edified mind”—a mind cultivated by philosophical practice—can help bring us closer together, and I shall try to show how and why philosophy is particularly well-suited to achieve this task.
Winner of the Outstanding Graduate Paper at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Florida Philosophical Association
Unlike novices, perceptual experts about xs are capable of recognizing xs by their looks. Also unlike novices, experts have epistemic justification for believing that xs are xs on the basis of their perceptual experiences. Perceptual expertise appears to be a problem case for access internalism about justification because it is not obvious there is any evidence the expert has access to that the novice doesn’t. The seemings view is an access internalist acceptable theory that maintains that experts have an additional conscious mental state that counts as evidence—a seeming. I criticize the seemings view and propose that Sebastian Watzl’s theory of attention provides a superior resource for explaining the phenomenon of perceptual expertise.
Winner of the Gerritt and Edith Schipper Undergraduate Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Paper at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Florida Philosophical Association
In the past two decades a number of arguments have been given in favor of the possibility of phenomenal consciousness without attentional access, otherwise known as phenomenal overflow. This paper will show that the empirical data commonly cited in support of this thesis is, at best, ambiguous between two equally plausible interpretations, one of which does not posit phenomenology beyond attention. Next, after citing evidence for the feature-integration theory of attention, this paper will give an account of the relationship between consciousness and attention that accounts for both the empirical data and our phenomenological intuitions without positing phenomenal consciousness beyond attention. Having undercut the motivations for accepting phenomenal overflow along with having given reasons to think that phenomenal overflow does not occur, I end with the tentative conclusion that attention is a necessary condition for phenomenal consciousness.
In this paper I focus on two prominent female thinkers from Latin America: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (colonial Mexico, 1648/51-1695) and Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (b. 1814 Cuba – d. 1873 Spain). My goal is to broaden the understanding of the history of philosophy by looking at the margins of the conventional canon. Sor Juana and Avellaneda challenge the practices of silencing and/or exclusion that prevented women from pursuing a fully rewarding life of knowledge in their times. Considering that these authors were primarily self-taught, the questions arise: what concepts of reason were accessible to Sor Juana in 17th century colonial Mexico and to Avellaneda in mid-nineteenth century Cuba and Spain so as to enable them to articulate and develop their arguments? How did each of them navigate the complex relationship between being female and framing an argument on behalf of women’s right to knowledge and equal recognition in society? In each case I highlight or reconstruct the arguments in question, keeping in mind the historical conditions that framed their thought. In the case of Sor Juana it meant defending her God-given right to pursue a life of knowledge against a repressive religious and political environment. In the case of Avellaneda it meant re-signifying the positive (over the negative) role of the emotions and thereby demonstrate women’s meritorious accomplishments in the higher spheres of culture, including public office, moral courage, science, and the arts.