SORITES ISSN 1135-1349
Issue #16 -- December 2005. Pp. 3-5
Abstracts of the Papers
Copyright © by SORITES and the authors
Abstracts of the Papers

Wittgenstein, Consciousness, and the Mind
by Pär Sundström

Contrary to philosophical tradition, modern theorists of the mind have often downplayed the importance of consciousness. Instead, they have accounted for the mind in terms of phenomena like mechanisms, dispositions, abilities and even environmental features. One of many inspirations for this trend is a series of passages of the later Wittgenstein. These passages discuss a variety of specific mental phenomena, like searching, comparing, understanding and reading. The passages have often been taken them to show that one may exemplify any of the phenomena at issue without being in any particular type of conscious state. I claim that the passages do not support this conclusion, and that the conclusion is, arguably, false. My conclusion is that consciousness may be a more important aspect of the mind than is supposed by many contemporary theorists--both Wittgensteinians and others.

The Mereology of Events
by Robert Allen

I demonstrate here that it is possible for an event to be identical with one of its proper parts, refuting the key premise in Lawrence Lombard's argument for the essentiality of an event's time. I also propose and defend an alternative to his criterion of event identity.

Dismantling the Straw Man: An Analysis of the Arguments of Hume and Berkeley Against Locke's Doctrine of Abstract Ideas
by Rhys McKinnon

Many believe that George Berkeley (Principles of Human Knowledge) and, subsequently, David Hume (A Treatise of Human Nature) offer devastating arguments against John Locke's (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding) theory of abstract ideas. It is the purpose of this paper to clarify the attacks given a close reading of Locke. It will be shown that many of the arguments of Berkeley and Hume are of a straw man nature and, moreover, that some of their conclusions are actually in accord with Locke.

Tarskian Metamathematics in Carnap's Metalogic
Jesús Padilla Gálvez

This paper examines how the intellectual heritage of Tarski's «scientific semantics» contributes to the metalogic of Carnap, and viceversa. It seeks first to establish the connections between the Warsaw School in metamathematics and semantics. Secondly, the author explores the relationship between the Warsaw School and the Vienna Circle. Third, the specific influences of Tarski's program on the logical syntax of language will be analyzed and finally, the internal discussions conduced within the Vienna Circle in relation to Carnap's contribution to metalogic will be discussed.

Why Axiomatize Arithmetic?
by Charles Sayward

This is a dialogue in the philosophy of mathematics. The following issues are discussed: Are the Peano axioms for arithmetic epistemologically irrelevant? What is the source of our knowledge of these axioms? What is the epistemological relationship between arithmetical laws and the particularities of numbers?

Is Theism More Rational Than Agnosticism: A Critique of Arguments for the Necessary Existence of God?
by David Kimweli

This paper engages the controversial question: is agnosticism a more rational opinion than theism? The paper examines the primary arguments for the necessary existence of God where Kant left it; having refuted the ontological, first cause, and design proofs and putting forth the necessity of God for the possibility of moral experience. After detailing Kant's view of transcendental morality, I then counter this view with the instrumentalist argument, first made by John Dewey, that sound moral judgments are made employing the same methods we can apply to any experience--the adaptive need to transform our environment beneficially. I make the case that Dewey's instrumentalist moral theory is superior to Kant's transcendental one, as it provides a simpler and more scientific rationale for moral experience. Lastly, I make the case that while belief in God has the potential to influence believers to live morally and is thus in a Deweyean sense instrumental, it has no factual basis and no moral or logical necessity, and as a result, an uninformed and irrational alternative to skepticism.

Rules and Realism: Remarks on the Poverty of Brute Facts
by J. Jeremy Wisnewski

In this paper, I offer a critical reconstruction of John Searle's argument for what he calls `External Realism.' I argue that Searle's thesis is in fact ambiguous, and hence that it cannot establish the existence of brute entities (even if it can establish that we must presuppose an external world). I further argue that, once properly understood, constitutive rules can be shown to be prior to, rather than dependent on, what Searle calls `brute facts' -- and hence that Searle's analysis reverses the order of priority between rules and brute facts.

What is a Value Judgement?
by Georg Spielthenner

The purpose of this paper is to clarify the concept of a value judgement. I present here my view on this problem, which is a version of non-descriptivism (or non-cognitivism) that is similar to but not identical to traditional non-descriptivist theories. The thesis I want to explain and argue for is that S makes a value judgement about x if and only if S expresses his attitude towards x. I explain first explain this thesis by (I) clarifying the concept of an attitude, in (II) I defend the identity between having an attitude towards something and evaluating it, in (III) I distinguish value judgements from judgements that only seem to be evaluative, in (IV) I clarify what I mean by `expressing an attitude', and in section (V) I give a concise argument for my view.

Hyper Libertarianism and Moral Luck
by Gerald K. Harrison

This paper argues that if the principle of alternate possibilities is false, as many now believe, then there is a non-question begging reason to favour a hyper libertarian position over compatibilism. It will be argued that only a hyper libertarian position has the resources to provide a principled explanation of the reality of moral luck, something a compatibilist position cannot do.