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  Subjects -> PHILOSOPHY (Total: 762 journals)
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Journal of Modern Philosophy
Number of Followers: 3  

  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Online) 2644-0652
Published by U of Virginia Homepage  [3 journals]
  • Thomas Reid, the Internalist

    • Abstract: Philosophical orthodoxy holds that Thomas Reid is an externalist concerning epistemic justification, characterizing Reid as holding the key to an externalist response to internalism. These externalist accounts of Reid, however, have neglected his work on prejudice, a heretofore unexamined aspect of his epistemology. Reid’s work on prejudice reveals that he is far from an externalist. Despite the views Reid may have inspired, he exemplifies internalism in opting for an accessibility account of justification. For Reid, there are two normative statuses that a belief might satisfy, being blameless and having a just ground. Through reflection, a rational agent is capable of satisfying both of these statuses, making Reid an accessibility internalist about epistemic justification. Published on 2022-04-11 10:55:35
       
  • The Contours of Locke’s General Substance Dualism

    • Abstract: In this paper, I will argue that Locke is a substance dualist in the general sense, in that he holds that there are, independent of our classificatory schema, two distinct kinds of substances: wholly material ones and wholly immaterial ones. On Locke’s view, the difference between the two lies in whether they are solid or not, thereby differentiating him from Descartes. My way of establishing Locke as a general substance dualist is to be as minimally committal as possible at the outset, especially with respect to the classic debates on Locke’s positions in this domain, including those concerning substrata, real essences, and the like. Nonetheless, I show that minimal commitments about Locke’s primary/secondary quality distinction are sufficient to derive some substantive conclusions about his positions on these issues, as well as that he is a general substance dualist. Published on 2022-03-28 10:33:25
       
  • Spinoza and the Possibility of Adequate Ideas

    • Abstract: Adequate ideas are the fundamental element of Spinoza’s epistemological program. However, a recurrent worry among scholars is that Spinoza’s account of adequate ideas is inconsistent with any finite being ever having one. As I frame it, the problem is that for Spinoza an idea is adequate in a mind only if all its causal antecedents lie within the mind as well. However, it seems there can be no finite mind for which this is true; finite minds come to be and exist within a deterministic causal nexus, and the causal antecedents of every idea in a mind will ultimately stretch far beyond it. I call this the External Cause Objection. I argue that Spinoza appreciated and explicitly answered this concern. According to this reply, adequate ideas do not have causes external to the mind because they do not fall into the category of what Spinoza calls “singular things.” In addition to showing that this coheres with his more specific claims about adequate ideas and his firm belief that finite minds are parts of nature, I argue that the resolution to this problem sheds light on Spinoza’s understanding of what I call absolute agency. Published on 2022-03-23 11:07:32
       
  • The Unity of Space in Kant’s Pre-Critical Philosophy

    • Abstract: Much recent attention has been paid to Kant’s account of the unity of space in the Critique of Pure Reason, not least because of the significant implications of that view for other key critical-period doctrines. But far less attention has been paid to the development of Kant’s account of the unity of space. This paper aims to offer a systematic account of Kant’s pre-critical account of the unity of space. On the view presented herein, Kant’s early account of the unity of space is deeply rooted in his pre-critical cosmological views. In particular, I argue that Kant sees the unity of space as grounded in the cosmological unity of the world of substances, which is itself rooted in the divine conservation of all substances in relations of mutual causal dependence. I contend that the seeds of this view are present in the late 1740s and 1750s, but that this view receives its fullest and most complete expression in the 1770 Inaugural Dissertation. The final section of the paper considers the fate of Kant’s pre-critical account of the unity of space. I contend that the theory is excluded from the Critique of Pure Reason in light of the strict epistemological strictures adopted in that text. But considerable textual evidence shows that Kant continues to aver the theory throughout the 1770s and 1780s in the looser epistemic context of his lectures. I contend, then, that this theory is not abandoned at all. Rather, like Kant’s 1763 proof of the existence of God, it is epistemically demoted: it is Kant’s preferred view, but one that falls short of the demanding epistemic standards of the critical philosophy. Published on 2022-03-22 09:55:08
       
  • Was Clarke a Voluntarist'

    • Abstract: The distinction between voluntarism and intellectualism has recently been criticized for inaccurately characterising early modern theories of divine freedom. In response, defenders of the distinction have argued that these labels are needed in order to account for the famous correspondence between Leibniz (intellectualist) and Clarke (voluntarist). In this paper, I argue that the voluntarism/intellectualism distinction is unable to account for the opposition between Leibniz and Clarke. In the first part, I provide an analysis of Clarke’s theory of divine freedom, and show how he employs the distinction between activity and passivity in order to account for the separation between God’s will and intellect, which ultimately safeguards God’s freedom. I also analyse Clarke’s correspondence with Leibniz, and show how Clarke deals with choice among equals, the principle of sufficient reason, and the principle of the best. In the second part, I argue on the basis of this analysis that Clarke is not a voluntarist, but should instead be interpreted as an intellectualist (if one wants to keep the labels). Therefore, the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence cannot be explained as a clash between voluntarism and intellectualism. Published on 2022-02-18 12:23:56
       
  • Spinoza’s Evanescent Self

    • Abstract: Selfhood is a topic of great interest in early modern philosophy. In this essay, I will discuss Spinoza’s radical position on the topic of selfhood. Whereas for Descartes and Leibniz, there is a manifold of thinking substances, for Spinoza, there is, crucially only one: God (1p14; 2p1). Minds, for Spinoza, do not have substantial status, they are instead merely complexes of ideas (2p15), and thus complex modes of the one substance: God. Observations such as these often lead Spinoza’s readers to the conclusion that, whereas for Descartes as for Leibniz, human beings have robust or genuine selves, this is not so for Spinoza. However, this reductionist interpretation is also challenged—in recent times most intriguingly by Koistinen (2009). Koistinen has argued that there are, fundamentally, human selves of whom agency can be predicated in Spinozism. In this paper I discuss to what extent this is true. In section 1, I introduce the reductionist interpretation of selfhood in Spinoza’s thought. In section 2.1, I present and criticize Koistinen’s proposal. In section 2.2, I acknowledge the strength of Koistinen’s view that insofar as human beings act, they are God somehow. In section 3, I propose an alternative reading of human selfhood in terms of witnessing being acted out rather than in terms of being an agent. This view isprima facieparadoxical. In section 4, I nonetheless support it by highlighting that Spinoza seems to have seen practical benefits in knowing oneself to be acted out by God. I conclude the essay by pointing out some comparative directions for future research. Published on 2022-02-18 12:21:25
       
  • Locke’s Composition Principle and the Argument for God’s
           Immateriality

    • Abstract: Locke’s argument for God’s immateriality in Essay IV x is usually interpreted as involving a principle that in some way prohibits the causation of thought by matter. I reject these causal readings in favor of one that involves a principle which says a thinking being cannot be composed out of unthinking parts. This Composition Principle, as I call it, is crucial to understanding how Locke’s theistic argument can succeed in the face of his skepticism about the substance of matter and the cause of thought, as well as his belief in the possibility of thinking matter. It also explains why Locke held the soul’s immateriality to be highly probable. Published on 2022-01-31 12:20:15
       
  • Incompatibilism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason in Kant’s
           Nova Dilucidatio

    • Abstract: The consensus is that in his 1755 Nova Dilucidatio, Kant endorsed broadly Leibnizian compatibilism, then switched to a strongly incompatibilist position in the early 1760s. I argue for an alternative, incompatibilist reading of the Nova Dilucidatio. On this reading, actions are partly grounded in indeterministic acts of volition, and partly in prior conative or cognitive motivations. Actions resulting from volitions are determined by volitions, but volitions themselves are not fully determined. This move, which was standard in medieval treatments of free choice, explains why Kant is so critical of Crusius’s version of libertarian freedom: Kant understands Crusius as making actions entirely random. In defense of this reading, I offer a new analysis of the version of the principle of sufficient reason that appears in the Nova Dilucidatio. This principle can be read as merely guaranteeing grounds for the existence of things or substances, rather than efficient causes for states and events. As such, the principle need not exclude libertarian freedom. Along the way, I seek to illuminate obscure aspects of Kant’s 1755 views on moral psychology, action theory, and the threat of theological determinism. Published on 2022-01-31 11:49:33
       
  • Self-Love or Diffidence' Malebranche and Hume on the Love of Fame

    • Abstract: Hume’s discussion of pride and sympathy in the Treatise shows direct engagement with Malebranche’s discussion of ‘imitation’ in the Search. For Malebranche, imitation—both of passions and belief—and our tendency to judge ourselves by comparison, generate the passion of pride or grandeur, which plays a useful social role. However, as both cause and effect of the admiration of others, grandeur is ungrounded and thus imaginary. Hume disagrees. He invokes the principle of sympathy to explain how the evaluations of others can support pride by indicating, without constituting, grounds for pride. Hume’s argument depends on his underappreciated claim that sympathy can communicate the evaluative opinions as well as the passions of others. Working with the Malebranchean inventory of principles—sympathy and comparison—Hume refines their characterization, thereby redeeming the human tendency to feel pride and humility by characterizing it as corrigible and subject to social regulation. Published on 2022-01-27 11:41:26
       
  • Resemblance, Representation and Scepticism: The Metaphysical Role of
           Berkeley’s Likeness Principle

    • Abstract: Berkeley’s likeness principle states that only an idea can be like an idea. In this paper, I argue that the principle should be read as a premise only in a metaphysical argument showing that matter cannot instantiate anything like the sensory properties we perceive. It goes against those interpretations that take it to serve also, if not primarily, an epistemological purpose, featuring in Berkeley’s alleged Representation Argument to the effect that we cannot reach beyond the veil of our ideas. First, in section 1, I raise some concerns about the traditional narrative concerning the likeness principle’s role in Berkeley’s argumentation. In section 2, I delineate an alternative narrative, arguing that there is no ‘missing premise’ in his alleged Representation Argument we need to explain simply because he advances no argument like that in the first place. In section 3–4, I provide a close reading of the relevant passages—first from the Principles, then the Dialogues—and their contexts, supporting textually a purely metaphysical interpretation of the likeness principle arguments. In section 5, I address some possible objections, based on the phrasing of the likeness principle passages and some related texts. Published on 2022-01-25 12:13:43
       
 
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