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

Summer 2007

No. 35, Summer 2007
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Papers
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HEIDEGGER ON PHILOSOPHY AND LANGUAGE, Guy Bennett-Hunter – Selwyn College, Cambridge.
This paper attempts to explain why Heidegger’s thought has evoked both positive and negative reactions of such an extreme nature by focussing on his answer to the central methodological question ‘What is Philosophy?’ After briefly setting forth Heidegger’s answer in terms of attunement to Being, the centrality to it of his view of language and by focussing on his relationship with the word ‘philosophy’ and with the history of philosophy, the author shows how it has led Heidegger to construct his own work, itself linguistic, as a self-referential union of form and meaning. It is suggested that, from a Heideggerian perspective, this gives his work added argumentative force but, conversely, allows the critic no point of entry into his hermeneutical circle – hence the extreme reactions. This observation is then applied to address a related critical question; it is used to make sense of the apparent distinction, in Heidegger’s work, between talking about attunement to Being and actually effecting such an attunement. The author argues that, for Heidegger, there is actually no distinction and that his apparent descriptions of attunement to Being at once describe and effect such an attunement. This union can therefore be conceived as one dimension of the intimacy, previously observed, between form and content and which is recognised to be a feature of Heidegger’s work by both the acolyte and the critic.
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A PLACE FOR ‘SOMETHING IT IS LIKE’ IN OUR LANGUAGE, Mikel Burley – University of Leeds.
This paper contributes to the long-running debate over Thomas Nagel’s claim that, although we cannot conceive of what it is like to be another type of conscious organism (such as a bat), there most certainly is something it is like. Peter Hacker has examined Nagel’s claim from the perspective of Wittgensteinian analysis, and has argued that the claim is conceptually confused: it makes no sense to say there is ‘something it is like’ to be a person, or a bat, or to be oneself, and hence there can be no place for such expressions in our language. While taking seriously Wittgenstein’s approach to the investigation of language, I propose that Hacker has been too hasty in declaring the phrase ‘something it is like’ to be nonsensical. I put forward three distinct, but mutually supportive, arguments to substantiate my proposal.
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IS SEARLE AN INTERNALIST?, Kanya Sen Gupta – Taki Government College, West Bengal.
We can trace two components in Searle’s overall theory of intentionality: his internalist account of intentional states and his invocation of ‘the Background’. There is a tension between these two components analogous to the tension that exists between Husserl’s and Heidegger’s views on intentionality. Searle, however, does not think that his talk of non-intentional background skills and capacities opposes Heidegger’s and Husserl’s internalist approaches. He attempts to make this point particularly in terms of the brain-in-a-vat thought experiment. This attempt, I argue, is not a promising one, which must lead us to question Searle’s labelling of himself as an internalist.
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THE ARGUMENT FROM INTRANSIGENCE FOR NON-COGNITIVISM, Jussi Suikkanen – University of Leeds.
There is a classic disagreement in moral psychology about the mental states that constitute the sincere acceptance of moral claims. Cognitivists hold that these states are beliefs aiming at a correct description of the world; whereas non-cognitivists argue that they must be some other kind of attitude. Mark Eli Kalderon has recently presented a new argument for non-cognitivism. He argues that all cognitivist inquiries include certain epistemic obligations for the participants in cases of disagreement in the inquiry. I will provide additional support for this claim. Kalderon then claims that our moral inquiry lacks the required epistemic obligation and that therefore it must be non-cognitive. I will show that Kalderon’s case against the required obligation fails and furthermore provide some evidence for the existence of this obligation. Therefore, his argument for non-cognitivism is not sound and provides no pressure against cognitivism.
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Reviews
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Duncan Proctor – Challenging Moral Particularism.
Robert F. J. Seddon – The Normative Web: An Argument for Moral Realism.
Richard Stopford – ‘Hegel – A Guide for the Perplexed’ and ‘Analytic Philosophy and the Return of Hegelian Thought’.
Judith Dunthorne – The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides.
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