Telephone: 0191 334 6550
Email: philosophical.writings@dur.ac.uk

Autumn 2006

No. 33, Autumn 2006
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Papers
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IS THE CONCEPT OF RATIONAL AGENCY COHERENT?, Bryony Pierce – University of Bristol.
The concept of rational agency commonly presupposes the freedom of the agent to act autonomously, for reasons of the agent’s own choosing. If we are rational agents, the normative nature of reason and the presupposition of autonomy appear to preclude a deterministic account of rational agency, in which actions would be reducible to events within a causally closed physical system. This paper will challenge the notion of rational agency as involving self-determination in the sense of freedom of action. My thesis will be that a concept of rational agency that presupposes freedom of action is incoherent. For ‘rational agency’, I will substitute ‘rational reagency,’ i.e. behaviour that is a reasoned response to an existing state of affairs, and as such does not require freedom of action. Reasons will be reduced to actual or hypothetical causal factors and normativity will be retained in the form of conditional statements with implicit objectives.
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EMOTIONS ARE NOT MERE JUDGMENTS: AGAINST NUSSBAUM’S JUDGMENTALISM, Sunny Yang – Seoul National University.
My aim, in this paper, is to demonstrate that Nussbaum’s cognitivism ignores a ‘feeling’ component. Although Nussbaum tries to address the feeling component by distinguishing two kinds of feelings, one with a rich intentional or cognitive content, and the other lacking such content, she downplays the feeling component. She claims that the latter kind of feeling is neither necessary nor sufficient for emotions, while feelings of the former kind, which she claims are ‘terminological variations’ of perceptions and judgments, are necessary but not sufficient. Furthermore, she holds that the occurrence of noncognitive characteristics in emotional experiences is contingent to the definition of emotions. Hence she claims that emotions can be defined in terms of the cognitive evaluative element only. However, if this is true, I argue, Nussbaum must explain what ‘affect’ is and whether it can be fairly contrasted with cognition. If she cannot do this, I argue, her cognitivism remains distinctly unsatisfying.
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ON TWO SOLUTIONS TO AKRASIA, Don Berkich – Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi.
In ancient and contemporary discussions of weakness of will, or akrasia, Aristotle and Davidson have articulated two of the more seminal accounts. Yet drawing a sharp distinction between the conditions on akratic agency, the reasons why it poses a problem, and solutions in the accounts of Aristotle and Davidson makes clear that Davidson’s rejection of Aristotle’s solution is illicit insofar as his own solution is, at root, Aristotelian.
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ETHICAL PROPERTIES AS RESULTANT QUALITIES: OR, THE NATURALISM OF W.D. ROSS, Gianfranco Pellegrino – Luiss Guido Carlie, Rome.
The main claim of this paper is that, contrary to the received view, Ross’ doctrine of resultance does not provide a premise in favour of non-naturalism, but rather makes possible a viable form of non-reductionist naturalism. This is argued mainly by viewing resultance as constitution, where resultant properties are constituted by those natural properties from which they result. Accordingly, resultant properties and their constitutive properties can be viewed as placed in the same ontological realm. However, to rule out reductionism, constitution is to be considered as not implying identity. Some arguments in favour of this view of constitution, above all in the moral realm, are presented in the last sections.
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Reviews
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Donnchadh O’ Connaill – Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind.
Ian James Kidd – Scientific Pluralism.
Michael-John Turp – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Utility.
Jonathan Tallant – Time for Aristotle.
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