Volume 20 (2020)
J. P. Messina
November 2020, vol. 20, no. 34, pp. 1-17
Although many recent free speech skeptics claim Millian credentials, they neglect the more pessimistic elements of Mill's account of human nature. Once we recover the darker elements of Mill's thought, American-style laissez-faire in the domain of expression looks significantly more attractive. Indeed, this paper argues that if Mill is correct about human nature, we have good reason to oppose recent proposed restrictions on expression and to embrace a legal regime that tolerates much speech that is false, obscene, demeaning, and even hateful. While philosophers are right to worry about the substantial moral costs of such regimes, we ought to attempt to address these costs in ways that do not amount to rejecting the regimes themselves.
November 2020, vol. 20, no. 33, pp. 1-17
In his classic “Freedom and Resentment,” P. F. Strawson introduces us to an optimist who believes that our moral responsibility practices are justified by their beneficial consequences. Although many see Strawson as a staunch critic of this consequentialist position, his stated view is only that there is a gap in the optimist’s story where the reactive attitudes should be. In this paper, I fill in the gap. I show how optimism can be suitably modified to reflect an appreciation of the reactive attitudes. And I argue that the ensuing position—on which our moral responsibility practices, taken as a whole, are justified both by their regulation of behavior and by their enabling of interpersonal relationships—provides us not only with a plausible justification of our moral responsibility practices, but also with a fruitful framework for evaluating potential reforms.
November 2020, vol. 20, no. 32, pp. 1-19
There is a wide consensus among scholars that Plato’s Socrates is wrong to trust in reason and argument as capable of converting people to the life of philosophy. In this paper, I argue for the opposite. I show that Socrates employs a more sophisticated strategy than is typically supposed. Its key component is the use of philosophical argument not to lead an interlocutor to rationally conclude that he must change his way of life but rather to cause a certain affective experience, one that can be effective at changing his beliefs about how best to live.
Susanne Bobzien and Simon Shogry
November 2020, vol. 20, no. 31, pp. 1-36
We argue that the extant evidence for Stoic logic provides all the elements required for a variable-free theory of multiple generality, including a number of remarkably modern features that straddle logic and semantics, such as the understanding of one- and two-place predicates as functions, the canonical formulation of universals as quantified conditionals, a straightforward relation between elements of propositional and first-order logic, and the roles of anaphora and rigid order in the regimented sentences that express multiply general propositions. We consider and reinterpret some ancient texts that have been neglected in the context of Stoic universal and existential propositions and offer new explanations of some puzzling features in Stoic logic. Our results confirm that Stoic logic surpasses Aristotle’s with regard to multiple generality, and are a reminder that focusing on multiple generality through the lens of Frege-inspired variable-binding quantifier theory may hamper our understanding and appreciation of pre-Fregean theories of multiple generality.
Can Imprecise Probabilities Be Practically Motivated?: A Challenge to the Desirability of Ambiguity Aversion
November 2020, vol. 20, no. 30, pp. 1-21
The usage of imprecise probabilities has been advocated in many domains: A number of philosophers have argued that our belief states should be “imprecise” in response to certain sorts of evidence, and imprecise probabilities have been thought to play an important role in disciplines such as artificial intelligence, climate science, and engineering. In this paper I’m interested in the question of whether the usage of imprecise probabilities can be given a practical motivation (a motivation based on practical rather than epistemic, or alethic concerns). My aim is to challenge the central motivation for using imprecise probabilities in decision-making that has been offered in the literature: the idea that, in at least some contexts, it’s desirable to be ambiguity averse. If I succeed, this will show that we need to reconsider whether there are good reasons to use imprecise probabilities in contexts in which making good decisions is what's of primary concern.
November 2020, vol. 20, no. 29, pp. 1-22
What kind of thing, as it were, is power and how does it fit into our understanding of the social world? I approach this question by exploring the pragmatic character of power ascriptions, arguing that they involve fictional expectations directed at an open future. When we take an agent to be powerful, we act as if that agent had a robust capacity to make a difference to the actions of others. While this pretense can never fully live up to a social reality whose future is open, acting on such expectations helps constitute social order. Fictional expectations are thus built into the material practices that constitute power. This account, I argue, helps us make sense of some of the deep disagreements about the nature of power. I develop the account by drawing on Thomas Hobbes’s myth of an original institution of sovereign power before expanding it to other forms of power.