Florida Philosophical Review

Vol. III.1, Summer 2003

Volume III, Number 1

Summer 2003

Copyright 2003 by The University of Central Florida: ISSN 1535-3656

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Table of Contents

  1. Editors' Introduction by Shelley Park and Nancy Stanlicki
  2. Presidential Address to the 48th Annual Meeting of the Florida Philosophical Association: "Kant's Thing in Itself, or the Tao of Königsberg" by Martin Schonfeld 5
  3. Winner of the 2002 FPA Graduate Essay Award: "Reconciling Coherentist and Reliabilist Intuitions: A Hybrid Account of Epistemic Justification" by Elka Shortsleeve33
  4. Winner of the Gerrit and Edith Schipper Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Paper: "Towards a Procedural Deontology" by Christian Williams 45

Symposium I: Discussion of Re-envisioning Psychology: Moral Dimensions of Theory and Practice by Frank C. Richardson, Blaine J. Fowers and Charles Guignon

  1. "Book Symposium" by Charles B. Guignon59

Symposium II: African Philosophy

  1. "What is in a Name: An Outline of Recent Issues in African Philosophy" by D.A. Masolo72
  2. "Ethical Knowledge in an African Philosophy" by Barry Hallen81
  3. "Some Comments on Contemporary African " by Kwasi Wiredu91
  4. Notes on Contributors97
Kant's Thing in Itself, or the Tao of Königsberg

Kant has been the target of innumerable objections, and yet his thought involves correct scientific aperçus, as well as viable ethical ideas, which are increasingly embraced in the Global Village. Kant's critical philosophy involves profound puzzles. In the first Critique, a spatial force field is identified as an a priori and yet material condition of experience (A212-15/B258-62). In the Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, the Good Will is of singular but odd importance (4:393), and the Categorical Imperative has a noumenal, yet comprehensible status, and involves two starkly different "versions" (4:421, 429). To solve these puzzles requires us to unify and contextualize Kant. The critical philosophy is a piece of a larger philosophical whole—the ideas Kant advanced before and after the 1780s. Kant's overall thought needs to be understood as a product of the pantheist Enlightenment, which was shaped by the Confucian Classics. In the first section, I paint a portrait of Kant's thing in itself. I speculate that it is an interactive bond of forces in space, governing nature; and I contend that this structural-dynamic perspective may not only unify Kant's insights but also supply an ontological narrative that integrates scientific knowledge today. In the second section, I interpret the historical record. I argue that the structural-dynamic perspective was a driving idea of the early Enlightenment; that this idea arrived from China through the Rites Controversy; and that this idea, mediated by others, informed Kant. In the third section, I examine Kant's first book, Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living Forces (1747). I argue that this exotic idea is the core of his theory of dynamics, and that (as has recently become known) the key features of his theory of dynamics withstood the test of time.

Reconciling Coherentist and Reliabilist Intuitions: A Hybrid Account of Epistemic Justification

In this essay, I present two thought experiments that respectively cast doubt on the adequacy of the coherentist and the reliabilist approaches to epistemic justification. Next, I propose an account of justified belief that accommodates coherentist and reliabilist intuitions and avoids both difficulties. Finally, I test this account by measuring its verdicts against my intuitions concerning wishful thinking and induction and answer three objections to this account.

Abstract: Towards a Procedural Deontology

Assuming the plausibility of the Kantian dictum “ought implies can,” it would seem that any moral theory should rest on a strong moral psychology. That is, any normative statement made within the context of a legitimate moral theory must answer to the motivational structure of human agency. One popular account of this motivational structure stems from David Hume, who claimed that motivation is impossible without the presence of a desire—or closer to his words, without the activation of the passions. If the claims made within the Humean tradition are correct, then there are some rather dire consequences for such everyday processes as moral deliberation and debate. In particular, the correct answers that arise from these processes must turn on what people want, rather than what they believe is good. In this paper, I argue that the Humean tradition is incorrect about moral motivation by showing that the account can lead to unacceptably morbid desires that arise from transparent contexts embedded in value chains. Also, I argue for the existence of a belief-type sometimes referred to in the literature as desiderative belief. Desiderative beliefs are beliefs that certain states of affairs would be good or desirable. I suggest that this belief-type can handle the transparent contexts that we would find absurd when imbedded in desires. Furthermore, the desiderative belief with transparent context seems nicely to capture common features of moral reasoning that suggest a commitment on behalf of the agent to objective rights and wrongs. Whether these objective values exist is irrelevant to the considerations in this paper. However, the assumption that they exist, I suggest, is pervasive in moral reasoning and motivation.

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