ISSN 1135-1349
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Issue #21 -- June 2008 Sorites (Σωρίτης), ISSN 1135-1349
Issue #21 -- June 2008.
Copyright © by Sorites and the authors
Abstracts of the Papers

Evaluating Williamson's Anti-Scepticism
Tony Cheng

Timothy Williamson's Knowledge and its Limits has been highly influential since the beginning of this century. It can be read as a systematic response to scepticism. One of the most important notions in this response is the notion of «evidence,» which will be the focus of the present paper. I attempt to show primarily two things. First, the notion of evidence invoked by Williamson does not address the sceptical worry: he stipulates an objective notion of evidence, but this begs the question against his opponent. Second, his related thesis «Evidence equals Knowledge» does not sit well with his own content externalism: he promises to relate epistemology to philosophy of mind, but he fails to live up to this commitment in his crucial chapter on scepticism. Other minor problems concerning evidence will also be discussed in due course.

Velleman on the Constitutive Aims of Practical and Theoretical Reasoning
Emer O'Hagan

Constitutive answers to the question `how do rational principles bind agents?' hold that rational norms are inherently authoritative over reasoners; agents and reasons for belief and action are mutually constituted. J. David Velleman has argued that certain formulations of the constitutive approach are circular because they unpack the constitutive aims of practical and theoretical reasoning in normative terms. To avoid this purported circularity, Velleman has proposed, what I call, the `conceptual independence thesis', the view that the constitutive aim of belief must be understood in terms which are conceptually independent of reasons for believing, and the constitutive aim of action must be understood in terms which are conceptually independent of reasons for action. I argue that the conceptual independence thesis is not adequately supported by Velleman's arguments and that it is a source of tension in his position. I argue that the normativity of reasons cannot be explained if the conceptual link between having reasons and the practice of reasoning is cut, and claim that vicious circularity can be avoided without endorsing the conceptual independence thesis. Because the conceptual independence thesis poses problems for understanding how rational norms (theoretical and practical) constrain agents, it should be abandoned. For Velleman good reasons are those which better manifest the aim of belief itself, but if the aim is mere truth, then we cannot intelligibly unpack the metaphor of nearness to belief's constitutive aim. Indeed, the only way to unpack the metaphor is by way of the normative force of reason.

Perseverance, Motivation, and Ambition's Debt
John Zillmer

Ambition is often considered to be a desirable character trait. Here I analyze the moral psychology underlying ambition, and advance two main claims. One is that while the similar trait of perseverance may be desirable, it is distinct from ambition. The other is that all ambition is of an undesirable sort insofar as ambition does not serve to further an agent's ends, but rather serves to perpetuate itself.

Fictional Colors
Dimitria Electra Gatzia

I argue that the rejection of color realism need not seal the fate of our ordinary color discourse. I do not argue for the claim that realism is false (partly because this is beyond the scope of this paper and partly because it is not pertinent to my proposal). I rather propose an alternative to it: an account that allows us to preserve our ordinary color discourse without having to commit to philosophically problematic properties. I then discuss some potential worries for my proposal and offer some plausible responses.

Kant on Pragmatism: Kantian Notes to Brandom's Inferentialism
Jesús González Fisac

The aim of this paper is to give kantian answers to Brandom's analyses about inferentialism. Since Brandom has dealt systematically with the kantian philosophy (one of the essential modern references of his theses) we will take the «three kantian dualisms» -- just as Brandom has featured them -- as the theme of this paper in order to see if Kant's work sustains them, that is, if it sustains what Brandom calls the «dualistic» reading of those three distinctions (a lecture which we can find in a good amount of the interpretations about Kant).

What would you say then?
The philosophical appeal to what one would say
Renia Gasparatou

In this paper I suggest that many thought experiments, imaginary examples and counterexamples, used widely in analytic philosophy as forms of argument, rely on an old fashioned appeal to what one would say. Appealing to ordinary language pronouncements was back in the 50s suggested as the most intuitive way of coming to see the obviousness of the suggested solution. I suggest that similar rhetoric underlies many analytic philosophers' argumentation techniques, even among philosophers who do not share the ordinary language philosophers' rationale. In this paper I will try to pick up typical species of this methodology in classic analytic writings (Krirke, Putnam, Jackson etc.) and suggest that ordinary language pronouncements can hardly prescribe answers to extraordinary quests, such as those philosophers pursue. The plea to what one would ordinarily say cannot prescribe answers when the context is extraordinary.

An Evolutionary Argument Against Epiphenomenalism and Type-Identity Theory
Brett Anderson

In this paper I reconstruct an argument against epiphenomenalism used by William James. If epiphenomenalism were true, then given that humans developed over time due to natural selection, we would expect the relationship of our mental lives to our physical actions to be random. To the contrary, our phenomenal experiences mirror our physical interactions, which strongly indicates the falsity of epiphenomenalism. Type-identity theories also fail because the identities, which are antecedent to any contingent evolutionary context, fail to predict the situation we find, namely that our mental events are of the type we would expect if mental events have causal powers. 1. This paper was submitted to Sorites in 2007 and was accepted for publication in 2008. Since then, I have explored many aspects of the philosophers' appeal to intuitions in more recent publications, which I now include in the references. Apart from updating the bibliography, though, I have made no other changes to the accepted manuscript.