This issue of Florida Philosophical Review contains papers from the second annual Southeastern Graduate Philosophy Conference (SEG), held in Gainesville on March 23-24, 2007. Organized by the graduate students in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Florida, SEG has established itself as a major event not only locally but also nationally, with participants from far and wide. As was the case with the first conference in 2006, over a hundred submissions were received in 2007, and eleven were chosen for presentation. The selected papers available for publication here (two were already committed elsewhere) benefited from being revised in response to commentary and lively discussion at the conference, as well as to a second round of refereeing subsequently. The papers range over a wide variety of subjects in metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of mind. We believe that every reader of FPR will find something of interest in one or more of them and thank the Editors of FPR for making their publication possible.
John Biro and Jon Hendrix, Guest Editors
The following paper explores a notion of particulars that permeates recent and less recent literature in philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. This notion of particulars relates to a distinction between conceptual and non-conceptual thought content. In the literature, this relation is discussed in terms of a distinction between thought of particulars (de re thought) and general thought (de dicto thought). I focus on this distinction as it relates to two different interpretations of Fregean sense: one that treats sense as descriptive and the other that recognizes that sense is not descriptive. I argue that the descriptive interpretation of Frege leads one to postulate non-conceptual content, a position which I further argue is untenable. I ultimately propose and argue that the non-descriptive interpretation of sense avoids a dilemma between a near-idealist view that leaves no room for particulars, and a realist view that leaves us with an odd notion of non-conceptual mental content.
Trenton Merricks has given a powerful argument for eliminativism, the ontological position which claims that the ordinary objects of our common sense worldview, such as baseballs, do not exist. His central argument for eliminativism is the Overdetermination Argument. This argument states that ordinary objects would be causally irrelevant to the events their constituent particles cause, that all of the causal power lies with the particles which would compose a baseball. This leads to rampant overdetermination in any ontology that accepts the existence of these middle-sized objects, which provides grounds for the rejection of their existence. I maintain that there is a key error in the Overdetermination Argument, namely that Merricks does not provide any account of what is required for causation. I briefly provide an account of causation based on power properties, and then show how on this account of causation, many ordinary objects are able to avoid the Overdetermination Argument. I then defend my position against the claim that I beg the question against Merricks on the existence of ordinary objects. I do not argue that the Overdetermination Argument necessarily fails, but that its lack of an account of causation renders it weaker than it first appears.
I argue that Austin's early view on truth is deficient in a way that Strawson's redundancy view is not and that the semantic categories traditionally used to treat the truth-predicate are inadequate for a theory of truth. A philosophically viable theory of truth must also provide an analysis of the concept of truth. To support this claim I show that the defects in Austin's view are a consequence of failing to make a distinction between two concepts of truth. Austin claims that though we often refer to a given state of affairs in predicating "is true" to a given sentence, this act of referring yields yet another sentence, which as asserted receives a truth-value on grounds distinct from those by which the initial assertion is judged true. While Austin's view may be seen to be partially correct given these remarks, it can only be correct if we first observe the above distinction with respect to the concept of truth. Having argued for the plausibility of the needed distinction, I finally propose an amendment to Austin's view that will incorporate Strawson's deflationary insights.
The neuroscientists Eugene d'Aquili and Andrew Newberg, in addition to defending an empirically fruitful model of mystical experiences, argue that such experiences constitute evidence for the existence of a transcendent reality, which they call "Absolute Unitary Being." D'Aquili and Newberg point out that mystical experiences carry with them a vivid sense of reality, and that they involve characteristic forms of brain activity, just like perceptions of objects in ordinary waking consciousness. Their argument for Absolute Unitary Being fails, however, since the vivid sense of reality of an experience is not the sole criterion by which to judge its veridicality, since the object of mystical experiences cannot be confirmed by independent observers, and since there is no evidence for a mechanism by which mystics experience a transcendent reality.
Contextualism is a linguistic thesis; it is a theory not about knowledge but about the word "knows." Almost invariably, contextualists defend their position as necessary for preserving our intuitions in the face of the so-called "skeptical paradox." In this paper, I undermine the case for contextualism by showing how a properly Chisholmed theory of knowledge might preserve our intuitions more successfully than the linguistic thesis forwarded by contextualism. My aim is not to demonstrate that contextualism is false. Rather, I aim at orienting the debate away from the preservation of our intuitions and toward the linguistic data surrounding the word "knows."
Traditionally, the views of Leibniz and Kripke are seen as opposites on the spectrum with respect to trans-world identity: Leibniz argues against it, while for Kripke it is crucial for explaining the very notion of possibility. My paper proposes a reading that blurs the distinction between the two positions – but this, it will be shown, does not absolve them from the common difficulties they must face when confronted with modal statements.
Controversy exists concerning the consequences of Frege's sharpness requirement for concepts and functions. Some say that the sharpness requirement, if taken to be a necessary condition for truth functional language use, renders most of our natural language discourse meaningless. This is because most if not all natural language concepts and predicates are not sharp. In this essay I argue first that Frege does indeed see the sharpness requirement as a necessary condition on a language's truth- functionality in all contexts in which language is used, and that the attempt to eschew the difficulty that this requirement presents by stipulating within a metalanguage what the extensions of our natural language concepts and predicates shall be is fundamentally at odds with Frege's conception of logic. I then turn to a possible application of Frege's notion of sharpness as a set of metaphysical presuppositions underlying the everyday use of concepts in contexts in which truth is being addressed.
In this paper I argue that the "mysterious" distinction which separates Spinoza's attributes might be a Scholastic "intermediate" distinction similar to Henry of Ghent's (d. 1293) intentional distinction. My argument for this conclusion takes place in three sections. In section one, I contrast the nature of Henry's intentional distinction with Scotus's formal distinction. In section two, I deduce the nature of Spinoza's "mysterious" distinction from Descartes's real and conceptual distinctions and recast the problem concerning the nature of the attributes. In section three, I argue that the attributes are likely intentionally distinct.