Volume 16 (2016)

    Why Do Women Leave Philosophy? Surveying Students at the Introductory Level

    Morgan Thompson, Toni Adleberg, Sam Sims, Eddy Nahmias

    March 2016, vol. 16, no. 6, pp. 1-36

    Although recent research suggests that women are underrepresented in philosophy after initial philosophy courses, there have been relatively few empirical investigations into the factors that lead to this early drop-off in women’s representation. In this paper, we present the results of empirical investigations at a large American public university that explore various factors contributing to women’s underrepresentation in philosophy at the undergraduate level. We administered climate surveys to hundreds of students completing their Introduction to Philosophy course and examined differences in women’s and men’s feelings of belonging, comfort, and confidence in the philosophy classroom. We present findings suggesting various factors that contribute to women’s lower willingness to continue in philosophy compared to men’s, including perceptions about intuition-based methods in philosophy, the usefulness of the philosophy major, philosophy as a male discipline, and philosophical abilities as innate talents. We conclude by providing some suggestions for improving undergraduate philosophy courses in ways that would increase women’s willingness to continue in philosophy and may improve the courses for all students.

    Leibniz and the Veridicality of Body Perceptions

    Kenneth L. Pearce

    February 2016, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 1-17

    According to Leibniz's late metaphysics, sensory perception represents to us as extended, colored, textured, etc., a world which fundamentally consists only of non-spatial, colorless entities, the monads. It is a short step from here to the conclusion that sensory perception radically misleads us about the true nature of reality. In this paper, I argue that this oft-repeated claim is false. Leibniz holds that in typical cases of body perception the bodies perceived really exist and have the qualities, both primary and secondary, they are perceived to have. At the same time, Leibniz holds that our perceptions of these bodies are accurate representations of the monads from which the bodies result. The contrary thesis — that our body perceptions are misrepresentations of the monads — stems from a misunderstanding of Leibniz's theory of confused concepts and his phenomenalist account of the nature of body. Clarifying these issues will have important consequences for our understanding of Leibniz's idealistic metaphysics and the manner in which that metaphysical theory is meant to support mechanistic science.

    Aristotle on Induction and First Principles

    Marc Gasser-Wingate

    February 2016, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 1-20

    Aristotle's cognitive ideal is a form of understanding that requires a sophisticated grasp of scientific first principles. At the end of the Analytics, Aristotle tells us that we learn these principles by induction (epagôgê). But on the whole, commentators have found this an implausible claim: induction seems far too basic a process to yield the sort of knowledge Aristotle's account requires. In this paper I argue that this criticism is misguided. I defend a broader reading of Aristotelian induction, on which there's good sense to be made of the claim that we come to grasp first principles inductively, and show that this reading is a natural one given Aristotle's broader views on scientific learning.

    What Is Sexual Orientation?

    Robin A. Dembroff

    January 2016, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 1-27

    Ordinary discourse is filled with discussions about ‘sexual orientation’. This discourse might suggest a common understanding of what sexual orientation is. But even a cursory search turns up vastly differing, conflicting, and sometimes ethically troubling characterizations of sexual orientation. The conceptual jumble surrounding sexual orientation suggests that the topic is overripe for philosophical exploration. This paper lays the groundwork for such an exploration. In it, I offer an account of sexual orientation – called ‘Bidimensional Dispositionalism’ – according to which sexual orientation concerns what sex[es] and gender[s] of persons one is disposed to sexually engage, and makes no reference to one’s own sex and gender.

    Have I Turned the Stove Off? Explaining Everyday Anxiety

    Neil Levy

    January 2016, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 1-10

    Cases in which we find ourselves irrationally worried about whether we have done something we habitually do (such as turning off the stove) are familiar to most people, but they have received surprisingly little attention in the philosophical literature. In this paper, I argue that available accounts designed to explain superficially similar mismatches between agents’ behavior and their beliefs fail to explain these cases. In the kinds of cases which have served as paradigms for extant accounts, contents are poised to drive behavior in a belief-like way. But the contents of these irrational worries are not poised in a belief-like way. Nor do they cause behavior due to a deficit of rational scrutiny. Rather, these representations cause behavior deviantly: by generating anxiety, which in turn motivates actions aimed at assuaging it.

    Logically Simple Properties and Relations

    Jan Plate

    January 2016, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 1-40

    This paper presents an account of what it is for a property or relation (or ‘attribute’ for short) to be logically simple. Based on this account, it is shown, among other things, that the logically simple attributes are in at least one important way sparse. This in turn lends support to the view that the concept of a logically simple attribute can be regarded as a promising substitute for Lewis’s concept of a perfectly natural attribute. At least in part, the advantage of using the former concept lies in the fact that it is amenable to analysis, where that analysis—i. e., the account put forward in this paper—requires the adoption neither of an Armstrongian theory of universals nor of a primitive notion of naturalness, fundamentality, or grounding.