Volume 19 (2019)
December 2019, vol. 19, no. 54, pp. 1-19
Like most theories in first order metaphysics, theories of persistence generally aim at metaphysically necessary truth. Consequently, those that accept proper temporal parts of material entities are maximally competitive only when they accord with the full range of metaphysically possible temporal mereological structures. Consider, for example, a structure in which every element is a proper temporal part of some others (temporal junk). The present essay argues that temporal junk plausibly is possible and that perdurantism, the thesis that material entities persist by having distinct proper temporal parts at distinct times, does not accord with it. The essay then outlines a novel four-dimensionalist theory of persistence that accommodates junk. On this theory, material entities persist not in virtue of possessing proper temporal parts, but rather in virtue of being grounded by certain pluralities of fundamental property instances over their careers, and by sub-pluralities thereof over corresponding sub-intervals of their careers. Accordingly, this way of persisting is dubbed ‘plurdurance’.
December 2019, vol. 19, no. 53, pp. 1-22
This paper explores communicative punishment from a non-idealized perspective. I argue that, given the specific racial dynamics involved, and given the broader social and historical context in which they are embedded, American policing and punishment function as a form of racially derogatory discourse. Understood as communicative behavior, criminal justice activities express a commitment to a broader ideology. Given the facts about how the American justice system actually operates, and given its broader socio-political context, American carceral behaviors express a commitment to the same types of derogatory, subordinating anti-minority ideologies that are paradigmatically conveyed through racial slurs and similar forms of derogatory speech. Moreover, I argue, this derogatory meaning presents a significant obstacle to adequate criminal justice reform.
December 2019, vol. 19, no. 52, pp. 1-14
In several early 19th century works, Mary Shepherd articulates a theory of causation that is intended to respond to Humean skepticism. I argue that Shepherd's theory should be read in light of the science of the day and her conception of her place in the British philosophical tradition. Reading Shepherd’s theory in light of her conception of the history of philosophy, including her claim to be the genuine heir of Locke, illuminates the broader significance of her attempt to reinstate reason as the source of scientific knowledge. Reading Shepherd's theory in light of the science of the day helps make plausible her claim that there are robust natural kinds in nature, defined by their causal powers: this is precisely what then-recent advances in chemistry hold.
December 2019, vol. 19, no. 51, pp. 1-20
Neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalism aims to place moral virtue in the natural world by showing that moral goodness is an instance of natural goodness—a kind of goodness supposedly also found in the biological realm of plants and non-human animals. One of the central issues facing neo-Aristotelian naturalists concerns their commitment to a kind of function ascription based on the concept of the flourishing of an organism that seems to have no place in modern biology. In this paper, I offer a novel defense of this functional commitment by appealing to the organizational account of biological function. I argue that the flourishing-based concept of function that forms the basis of the neo-Aristotelian account of natural goodness is explanatorily indispensable to biology, and therefore essential to the understanding of living things.
November 2019, vol. 19, no. 50, pp. 1-16
This paper develops an account of moral friendship that both draws on and revises Kant’s conception of moral friendship for the purpose of explaining how trusting and being trusted in the way that Kant describes supports moral self-perfection beyond increased self-knowledge and refinement of judgment. I will argue that cultivation of the virtues of friendship is important to the pursuit of moral self-perfection, specifically with respect to combatting the unsociable side of our unsociable sociability. Reciprocal trust shelters the individual’s predisposition to goodness, which comes under attack by the passions in social relations wherein distrust is the default. Reciprocal trust also enables communion, the importance of which has been undervalued in analyses of moral self-perfection.