Florida Philosophical Review

Vol. VI.1, Summer 2006

Volume VI, Number 1

Summer 2006

Copyright 2006 by The University of Central Florida: ISSN 1535-3656

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Table of Contents

  1. Editors' Introduction by Nancy Stanlick and Michael Strawseri
  2. "'Religion,' 'Science,' and 'Philosophy': Three Dangerous Auto-antonyms" by Jim Perry1
  3. "Courage, Evidence, and Epistemic Virtue" by Osvil Acosta-Morales8
  4. "On Recent Scientific Advances and Incompatibilist Freedom" by Gustavo de L.T. Oliveira17
  5. "Thrasymachus' Perverse Disavowal" by Erich Freiberger31
  6. "On Asymmetry in Kant's Doctrine of Moral Worth" by Jill Hernandez43
  7. "Kant contra Herder: Almost against Nature" by Martin A. Bertman53
  8. "Prototypes of Existence and Essence in Camus's The Stranger" by John Valentine64
  9. "Review of Keith Parson's Copernican Questions: A Concise Invitation to the Philosophy of Science" by Darren Hibbs77
  10. Notes on Contributors80
Abstract: 'Religion,' 'Science,' and 'Philosophy': Three Dangerous Auto-antonyms

Three of the grandest words we use – “religion,” “science,” and “philosophy” – are so comprehensive as to have self-contradictory meanings. This leads to chronic confusion. I urge that we explain this to our every class and audience and to the entire world.

Abstract: Courage, Evidence, and Epistemic Virtue

I present here a case against the evidentialist approach that claims that in so far as our interests are epistemic what should guide our belief formation and revision is always a strict adherence to the available evidence. I go on to make the stronger claim that some beliefs based on admittedly “insufficient” evidence may exhibit epistemic virtue. I propose that we consider a form of courage to be an intellectual or epistemic virtue. It is through this notion of courage that we can see a weakness in the evidentialist position. Adopting a doxastically courageous approach allows us to acknowledge the role that evidence has in epistemic justification and its connection with promoting epistemic value, but it avoids the narrowness of an evidentialist position. The epistemically courageous agent is not one who disregards the evidence entirely, but she also realizes that taking risks will not necessarily keep her from her epistemic goals. Believing something in the face of insufficient evidence is not always an epistemic vice to be avoided, and the agent that recognizes this is better off for it.

Abstract: On Recent Scientific Advances and Incompatibilist Freedom

In the first part of the present essay, I outline the main ways in which Quantum physics and Chaos theory have contributed to establishing incompatibilist freedom. I conclude that although such scientific advances have indeed taken a necessary first step away from a causally deterministic worldview, philosophers have yet to successfully establish incompatibilist freedom. In the second part, I turn from the problem of causal determinism to that of theological determinism. I suggest that in this field, Chaos theory can be surprisingly helpful in dismantling the deterministic worldview by forming an alternative understanding of the relationship between God’s knowledge and incompatibilist freedom. I conclude that Chaos theory is certainly the path by which we may hope to advance in the problem of theological determinism, and that such success gives us renewed hope that recent scientific discoveries can advance philosophical discussion in the free will debate.

Abstract: Thrasymachus' Perverse Disavowal

This paper explores a parallel between Plato’s portrait of the sophist and the psychoanalytic conception of perverse structure. What I propose is that the desire to be tyrant and rule over others without limit, which is promoted by Thrasymachus in book I of The Republic, is the ancient name of what psychoanalysis calls perversion. Just as the pervert acts to bring into being a more durable, natural law that is not lacking in any way, the sophist also tries to bring a sham version of justice into being in order to demonstrate the inferiority of the conventional conception of justice because he clearly perceives its lack of foundation. After establishing that Plato’s portrait of the sophist exhibits the same structure as perverse disavowal, I consider how Plato uses the sophist’s disavowal of the lack in the law to set the stage for his inquiry into justice.

Abstract: On Asymmetry in Kant's Doctrine of Moral Worth

That an act can have moral worth even if the end of the action is not realized seems asymmetrical with Kant’s dual notion that acts cannot have moral worth if the maxim for action is impermissible. Recent scholarship contends that fixing the asymmetry will allow impermissible acts done from a morally worthy motive to have moral worth. I argue against the asymmetry thesis and contend that Kant cannot consistently maintain a class of impermissible, morally worthy action and the view that right acts respect the dignity of humanity.

Abstract: Kant contra Herder: Almost against Nature

Since Kant limits knowledge to phenomena and espouses a Newtonian model for science, he came into conflict with a biological or organic model of nature that animated the aesthetic attitude of romanticism. The focus of the opposition was his former pupil Herder – “the father of German historicism” – who lived in the Weimar of Goethe and Schiller. Kant's speculations go beyond nature to the noumenal to ground ethics. He justifies this "rational faith" by assuming God has a teleological program in nature that ultimately brings progress in culture in a republican form of government that represents the noumenal ethical law. This opposes Herder’s doctrine of organic culture and political nations, each distinct in their creative determinants.

Abstract: Prototypes of Existence and Essence in Camus's The Stranger

The paper is a reading of Camus’s The Stranger from the perspective of the existentialists’ own distinction between existence and essence. After defending the plausibility of such a reading— especially in terms of avoiding an analysis which would bring Camus too close to the philosophy of Sartre—I cite various passages from both parts of the novel to support my position. Part One of the novel, I argue, is predominantly devoted to introducing a number of important themes regarding human existence. Part Two, on the other hand, enmeshes Meursault in various forms of stereotypes or essences. The paper attempts to present a clear and coherent reading of The Stranger which brings the novel back to the heart of the existentialist movement.

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