Volume 20 (2020)
August 2020, vol. 20, no. 24, pp. 1-16
Deepfake technology uses machine learning to fabricate video and audio recordings that represent actual people doing and saying things they've never done. In coming years, malicious actors will likely use this technology in attempts to manipulate public discourse. This paper prepares for that danger by explicating the unappreciated way in which recordings have so far provided an epistemic backstop to our testimonial practices. Our reasonable trust in the testimony of others depends, to a surprising extent, on the regulative effects of the ever-present possibility of recordings of the events they testify about. As deepfakes erode the epistemic value of recordings, we may then face an even more consequential challenge to the reliability of our testimonial practices.
August 2020, vol. 20, no. 23, pp. 1-32
Many moral duties are directed: if J promises S that J will phi, then J owes it to S to phi. What does directedness add to a duty? One way to answer this question is by understanding the practical difference made by directedness, and the importance of acknowledging that difference. What practical difference does it make that a duty is directed? If J owes it to S to phi then S has special standing in our practice of accountability and moral repair. In particular, S is the proper recipient of apology and redress, and S has the power to forgive J. This is a more illuminating version of the common suggestions that S has special standing to blame J for not phiing, or to demand that J phi, or to claim J’s phiing. Why then does directedness matter? A practice of accountability that gives special standing to S makes available a distinctive form of recognition that comes as close as is possible to repairing the original wrongdoing. Without directed duties, we would stand to lose this form of moral repair, and to lose sight of the interest that human beings have in recognition. The interest in recognition can itself be vindicated in Strawsonian fashion. Also, recognition is a component of respect, and so we can make sense of Feinberg's claim that there is a connection between respect and directedness.
Alexander W. Kocurek, Ethan Jerzak, Rachel Etta Rudolph
August 2020, vol. 20, no. 22, pp. 1-27
Conventional wisdom has it that truth is always evaluated using our actual linguistic conventions, even when considering counterfactual scenarios in which different conventions are adopted. This principle has been invoked in a number of philosophical arguments, including Kripke’s defense of the necessity of identity and Lewy’s objection to modal conventionalism. But it is false. It fails in the presence of what Einheuser (2006) calls c-monsters, or convention-shifting expressions (on analogy with Kaplan’s monsters, or context-shifting expressions). We show that c-monsters naturally arise in contexts where speakers entertain alternative conventions, such as metalinguistic negotiations. We develop an expressivist theory — inspired by Barker (2002) and MacFarlane (2016) on vague predications and Einheuser (2006) on counterconventionals — to model these shifts in convention. Using this framework, we reassess the philosophical arguments that invoked the conventional wisdom.
David Miguel Gray and Benjamin Lennertz
August 2020, vol. 20, no. 21, pp. 1-16
There has recently been a flurry of activity in the philosophy of language on how to best account for the unique features of epithets. One of these features is that epithets can be appropriated (that is, the offense-grounding potential of a term can be removed). We argue that attempts to appropriate an epithet fundamentally involve a violation of language-governing rules. We suggest that the other conditions that make something an attempt at appropriation are the same conditions that characterize acts of civil disobedience. Accounting for attempts at appropriation is thus both a linguistic and socio-political endeavor. We demonstrate how these two facets of attempts at appropriation also help us understand the communicative features of civil disobedience.