Volume 19 (2019)
August 2019, vol. 19, no. 34, pp. 1-17
In this paper, I propose a solution to a notorious puzzle that lies at the heart of Kant’s Critique of Judgment. The puzzle arises because Kant asserts two apparently conflicting claims: (1) F→J: A judgment of beauty is aesthetic, i.e., grounded in feeling. (2) J→F: A judgment of beauty could not be based on and must ground the feeling of pleasure in the beautiful. I argue that (1) and (2) are consistent. Kant’s text indicates that he distinguishes two feelings: the feeling of the harmony of the cognitive faculties that is the ground of judgments of beauty (F1 → J), and the feeling of pleasure that is its consequence (J → F2). I develop and defend a view of Kant’s account of the structure of judgments of beauty that incorporates this crucial distinction. Next, I argue that my view resolves another long-standing problem for Kant’s “Deduction” of judgments of beauty: it allows him to claim that the harmony of the faculties is a condition of judgment in general without implying, absurdly, that all judgments are pleasurable.
August 2019, vol. 19, no. 33, pp. 1-18
This paper explores whether there is any relation between mathematical proofs that specify the grounds of the theorem being proved and mathematical proofs that explain why the theorem obtains. The paper argues that a mathematical fact’s grounds do not, simply by virtue of grounding it, thereby explain why that fact obtains. It argues that oftentimes, a proof specifying a mathematical fact’s grounds fails to explain why that fact obtains whereas any explanation of the fact does not specify its ground. The paper offers several examples from mathematical practice to illustrate these points. These examples suggest several reasons why explaining and grounding tend to come apart, including that explanatory proofs need not exhibit purity, tend not to be brute force, and often unify separate cases by identifying common reasons behind them even when those cases have distinct grounds. The paper sketches an account of what makes a proof explanatory and uses that account to defend the morals drawn from the examples already given.
August 2019, vol. 19, no. 32, pp. 1-18
William James’s religious writing displays a therapeutic concern for two key social problems: an epidemic of suicide among educated Victorians who worried (he thought) that a scientific worldview left no room for God; and material poverty and bleak employment prospects for others. James sought a conception of God that would therapeutically comfort his melancholic peers while also girding them to fight for better social conditions—a fight he associated with political anarchism. What is perhaps most unique about James’s approach to religion emerges when we consider the relationship of his therapeutic project to his treatment of religious epistemology. For James took his suicidal peers to need more than tea and sympathy. They needed to be convinced, through rational argument, that religious faith is epistemically permissible in light of their methodological naturalism. That is to say that theoretic success in James’s treatment of religion is to be measured by therapeutic success. His argument for epistemic permissibility began by treating religious faith as a “hypothesis.” He took naturalism to permit entertaining a hypothesis just in case it is testable, and not contravened by available evidence. So he developed a distinctive conception of God—what he called the “pluralistic hypothesis”—that proposed a plurality of independent entities in the universe, only one of which is God. In contrast to the monistic hypothesis (roughly what we would call “pantheism”), pluralism is empirically testable in principle. But crucially, the hypothesis is underdetermined by any evidence available now. This purported, in-principle testability would make religious pluralism epistemically permissible to entertain (and so potentially a source of consolation for the scientifically educated). And since salvation is possible on this view without being guaranteed, the pluralistic hypothesis stands to discourage social and political quietism (and so it is also a potential spur to fight material poverty).
August 2019, vol. 19, no. 31, pp. 1-11
Reid endorsed a doxastic theory of perception, on which beliefs are constituents of perceptual experiences. This theory faces the problem of known illusions: we can perceive that p while believing that not-p. Some scholars argue that the problem of known illusions and other problems entail that Reid’s view cannot be charitably interpreted as a doxastic theory. This paper explores Reid’s theoretical commitments with respect to belief acquisition and uses textual evidence to show that his theory is genuinely doxastic. It then argues that a Reidian response to the problem of known illusions can be formulated by appeal to the thesis that perceptual beliefs are formed noninferentially. Reid can also resist the intuition that we lack illusory beliefs in known-illusion cases given his independent reasons for doubting our capacity to identify perceptual beliefs by introspection. The paper then surveys other problems raised in the secondary literature and argues that none decisively undermine the doxastic interpretation of Reid.