ISSN 1135-1349
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Issue #20 -- March 2008 Sorites (Σωρίτης), ISSN 1135-1349
Issue #20 -- March 2008.
Copyright © by Sorites and the authors
Abstracts of the Papers

Locke on `Substance in General'
by Matthew Carey Jordan

My goal in this paper is to answer two questions: what, if anything, did Locke have in mind when he spoke of substance in general? and did Locke affirm the existence of substance in general? Concerning the first of these, I argue that what Locke had in mind were bare particulars (or something very closely akin thereto). In the first part of this paper, I show why this interpretation of Locke is preferable to its two main rivals. Concerning the second question, Locke was agnostic about the existence of substance in general. He may not have wished to deny its existence outright, but he certainly did not affirm it. This claim runs counter to most readings of Locke, and I defend it in the second half of the paper. This defense rests on an examination of Locke's view of the relationship between conceivability and possibility, an aspect of the debate that most commentators have overlooked.

Quine, the Natural Standpoint, and Indeterminancy
by M. G. Yoes

Quine's philosophy, early and late, proceeds from the natural standpoint, that is the explicit acceptance of science. This paper attempts to explain what this means and how it fits with his early criticism of reductive empiricism. A kind of horizontal reductionism remains, it is argued, which aims to explain the import of his thesis of the indeterminacy of translation. In the second part of this paper an argument is developed to cast doubt on the significance of this thesis. Because of the possibility of languages containing grue-like predicates, the very idea of determinacy loses all significance. The natural standpoint cannot rescue determinacy and thus cannot provide support for indeterminacy.

Temporal and Counterfactual Possibility
by Muhammad Ali Khalidi

Counterfactual possibility is often thought to imply and be implied by temporal possibility. In other words, many philosophers subscribe to the following thesis and its converse: If x could have been F in another possible world, then x can become F in the course of time in the actual world. E.J. Lowe (2002) has recently challenged these theses, using two counterexamples. This paper argues that Lowe's counterexamples do not block the inference from temporal to counterfactual possibility, and although they do block it from counterfactual to temporal possibility, they do so only when F is a non-standard «irreversible property». This raises a question as to whether talk of counterfactual possibility might be replaced by less controversial talk of temporal possibility.

Actualism and the Distinction of Truth over Truth in a World
by Edward R. Moad

Robert Adams characterizes actualism regarding possible worlds as «the view that if there are any true statements in which there are said to be nonactual possible worlds, they must be reducible to statements in which the only things there are said to be are things which there are in the actual world, and which are not identical with nonactual possibles.» In this paper, I will briefly explain actualism about possible worlds, showing that an essential pillar of the theory is the claim that truth is distinct from, and ontologically prior to, truth in a world. The rest of the paper is premised on the idea that an interesting philosophical defense of this claim calls for an analysis of truth itself, and is not intended as an objection to actualism, but rather to underscore the interest actualists should have in the question of what truth is. First, I will consider the idea, drawn from Adams and Alan McMichael, that truth differs from truth in a world in its being a matter of correspondence between a proposition and an independent object; that object being, in McMichael's words, the `concrete universe'. Then, I will show that, given such an analysis of truth, the truth conditions for propositions about non-actual possibilities violate the central tenet of actualism, as articulated by Adams.

The Constitution Argument Against Conceptualism
by André Abath

According to philosophers such as McDowell and Brewer, the contents of perceptual experience are conceptual. This view came to be known as Conceptualism. However, a number of critics have argued that they are wrong in thinking this, for they claim that there is an argument, the so-called Fineness of Grain Argument, which is valid and sound, and has as its consequence the falsity of Conceptualism. Although McDowell and Brewer seem to acknowledge that the Fineness of Grain Argument, if valid and sound, has as its consequence the falsity of Conceptualism, they have ways of answering to the argument. In this paper, I will grant the proponents of Conceptualism that one of their ways of answering to the Fineness of Grain Argument is successful, and that the argument can be blocked. But I will argue that, even if this is the case, we have good reasons to think that Conceptualism is false. For there is another argument, that I will call the Constitution Argument, that has as its conclusion the falsity of Conceptualism. I show that the Constitution Argument is valid and sound, in which case we have good reasons to think that Conceptualism is false.

Free-Will and Determinism: A Debate in Sociology
by Jorge Gibert-Galassi

The matter of this paper is the problem of determinism in social sciences, from the general scientific pretense of achieving constant and univocal connections among events, states of things, as well as ideal objects. The historical obstacle that had placed social sciences in front of that pretense, it has been the fact of the individual freedom and the social contingency, through the paradoxical question: How can we determine relations between the phenomena of social life if they are contingent in fact?. At an epistemological and theoretical level there is not consensus on a solution to this problem, which has questioned permanently the scientific status of the social disciplines. Some ideas are explored in this respect.

Free Agency and Self-Esteem
by Robert F. Allen

In this paper I define the role of self-esteem in promoting free agency, in order to meet some objections to the content-neutrality espoused by the reflective acceptance approach to free agency, according to which an agent has acted freely if and only if she would reflectively accept the process by which her motive was formed -- in other words, any volition the agent forms is an impetus to a free action just in case she would positively appraise its genesis. For primary self-esteem to exist it is enough to be capable of evaluating oneself, assessing, according to one's personal standards, the reasoning behind one's choices. Freedom lacks a social component; an alienated person may yet be free.

The Interpretive Mind
by Peter Francis Colbourne

There are significant physical and intellectual perceptual barriers between our inquiring minds and the phenomena of the extant universe that make our relationship with the external world both complex and problematic. Focusing on scientific processes of inquiry, this paper explores those barriers through (a) a reanalysis of dualism, and (b) an analysis of a form of monism that has arisen out of recent neurobiological research. It is argued that objectivism as the primary principle of scientific inquiry is discredited and should be integrated with the subjectivism of the interpretive mind.

Nozick, Parfit, and Platonic Glasses
by Wesley Cooper

The Closest-Continuer schema of identity is distinguished here from the Closest-Continuer theory of personal identity, the latter applying the former to personal identity by reference to the self's self-defining activity. Nozick's «Platonic glasses» mode of conceptualizing personal identity is defended against Parfit's objections and extended beyond hypothetical branching to the actual branching hypothesized by the «no-collapse» theories of quantum mechanics. The reader may wish to consult Lev Vaidman's Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy essay, «Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics», for an accessible and sympathetic treatment of this interpretation. (Vaidman 2002) See also David Deutsch's philosophical essay on what he calls the «multiverse» in The Fabric of Reality. (Deutsch 1997)

Kant and the Expression of Imperatives
by Ronald Cordero

According to a popular English translation of the Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant says that all imperatives are expressed by an `ought.' This, however, seems so clearly to be wrong that it is hard to suppose Kant said it. In this paper I discuss different senses in which imperatives can be said to be expressed and examine in particular the use of Kant's term `sollen' for such purposes. I argue that what Kant says does not in fact commit him to the position that `ought' judgments can express imperatives.

Knowing that p rather than q
by Bjørn Jespersen

I offer a two-tiered critique of epistemological contrastivism as developed by Jonathan Schaffer. First, I investigate the cornerstone of contrastivism, the notion of knowing the selected proposition p rather than the eliminated, or contrast, proposition q. Contrastivism imposes the ternicity constraint that the knowledge relation should span a knower and two propositions. However, contrastivism has yet to explain how to square this constraint with the required contrast between the selected and the eliminated propositions, and it is not immediately obvious how to accomplish this. I offer up for consideration the binary proposal that to know that p rather than q is to know that the conjunction of p and the negation of q is true. Second, I argue that contrastivist objects of knowledge ought to be hyperpropositions rather than functions from possible worlds to truth-values, as assumed by Schaffer.

The Two Envelope Paradox and Using Variables Within the Expectation Formula
by Eric Schwitzgebel & Josh Dever

The present paper presents a diagnosis of what goes wrong in the reasoning in the «closed envelope» version of what is sometimes called «Two Envelope Paradox» or «Two Envelope Problem» or «Exchange Paradox». Plainly, some constraint on the use of variables within the expectation formula is necessary to escape the paradox. We argue that previous proposed constraints are too restrictive: One can avoid the paradoxical reasoning as long as the conditional expectations of the relevant variables are the same in each event in the partition -- provided that all the relevant equations are linear.

Hypothesis Testing Analysis
by Mikael Eriksson

Logic, as the theory of reasoning, traditionally focuses upon the validity of natural language arguments. During the millennia several logical systems have evolved, each using a specific set of logical constants validating some part of the natural language arguing. Therefore, at the time when reasoning of empirical knowledge entered the scene, it was not surprising to find logical systems having their set of logical constants validating that natural phenomenon. The aim of this paper is to question the strength of such systems and also to sketch a complementary logical system aiming at validating comprehensive empirical knowledge reasoning. In outline, this is done as follows. By listening to scientists discussing empirical issues, there has been historically accepted that they make arguing valid by using the notions of confirmation and falsification in a logical constant manner. Philosopher analyses of this phenomenon have evolved interesting logical systems, however including both insights and paradoxes. The aim here is to use a standard extensional logical system and add what I call a test predicate. The evolving system will derive theorems like empirical knowledge-gaining program having special non-extensional, non-inductive and correlative features suitable for comprehensive empirical knowledge gaining.