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Episteme Vol. XI


"The Call of Duty and Beyond: Problems Concerning Justification and Virtue in the Ethical Models of Epistemology" by Peter J. Tedesco

Internalist considerations are crucial to a good theory of belief formation—epistemic or ethical. To get to this conclusion, the author first shows the insufficiency of a strong externalist account of true belief; he critique’s Plantinga’s reliabilism by way of demonstration. Plantinga’s idea of epistemic warrant shares a maximum ideal with utilitarianism (the desire for the most true beliefs), but the good intentions of the theory are undermined by 1) the author’s car counter-example that illustrates the relevance of internal circumstances, and 2) a realization that Plantinga pays no mind to volition variance. Next, the author analyzes Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski’s virtue ethics and notes its own form of reliabilism but promising internalist account of justification. Despite the fact that both theorists can be used improperly to reward vicious means to ends, such as guessing, Zagzebski’s virtue ethics improves the reliability of Plantinga’s epistemology.

"Aristotle's Theory of Sense Perception" by David Tulkin

In recent years, Nussbaum/Putnam and M. F. Burnyeat have engaged in a back-and-forth debate over Aristotle’s theory of perception. This author traces the developments of this debate, explores the various questions that come into play, and ends up dissatisfied with both camps. There are two overriding questions: What does Aristotle mean to take as the nature of the sense-organ in perception? and How does esse naturale and esse intentionale link-up? The contemporary philosophers, perhaps sheltered by contemporary philosophy of mind, think they can prove their interpretation to be correct without answering this second question. The author reports the various replies, provides evidence from De Anima and De Moto, and considers how the Sorabji position and Aquinas’s Christian interpretation fit in. Ultimately, five conclusions result from the literature review, including one about the link between the physical and the mental. What is the conjunction between the object in nature and the perceived awareness?

"Gadamer and the Authenticity of Openness" by Benjamin McMyler

Gadamer is too often charged with subjectivism and relativism. Bearing in mind Hubert Dreyfus’ new interpretation that Heidegger describes two separate types of resoluteness and authenticity, the author rescues Gadamer’s philosophy of openness by identifying its hermeneutic with Heidegger’s Aristotelian side—skirting supposed associations with Kierkegaard or Nietzsche that have confused Gadamer’s project in the past. Following Heidegger, Gadamer’s epistemology identifies both a personal (situated, particular) horizon and historical (given, universal) horizon, and understanding is the fusion of the two. Gadamer’s openness is a condition of our accomplished understanding, where our knowing of our essential finitude promotes on-going attention to the concrete real. By way of analogy, Gadamer’s open person understands most readily, as Heidegger’s social virtuoso responds appropriately to the Situation. But it is important to stress that openness is not so much a trait as it is an ability in a situation-by-situation basis. Gadamer’s purpose is ethical insofar as he pushes for us to be more dialectical.

"Donagan and Heidegger: Two Conflicting Ideas of Authenticity" by Henry C. Driscoll

Alan Donagan criticizes Heidegger for falling into what Collingwood calls the “corrupt consciousness,” but this author explains that Donagan misunderstands Heidegger’s design. The paper opens with Donagan’s philosophy that ties ethics to rationality. Donagan’s fundamental principle of rationality requires each person to respect each other’s rationality, and Donagan’s Thomistic and Kantian theory of conscience determines the permissibility of actions. He believes that existentialism, including Heidegger’s, which does not agree to the principle of rationality, engenders a false consciousness, which thereby corrupts the conscience. But, the author contends, Heidegger’s phenomenology does not actually amount to this. Authenticity is not recognizing mortality and thereby neglecting ethics, but rather of being in the world; it is a phenomenological descriptive awareness, not evaluative. The author looks at Being in Time to show that Heidegger is not giving an ethics but only that which makes an ethics possible: primordial guilt and a summons to avoid falling prey to the “they-self”.

"Against the Necessity of Identity Statements" by Philip D. Miller

Kripke’s Naming and Necessity argues for an odd form of necessity with regard to identity statements. This paper demonstrates that such oddness is due to internal inconsistency and the falseness of Kripke’s notion of rigid designation. The author first examines Kripke’s philosophy of language which covers necessary vs. contingent, necessary vs. a priori, and the overturning of Kant with the claim that a necessary truth can be an a posteriori truth, like “Hesperus is Phosphorous.” Following Michael Wreen’s systematic understanding of Kripke’s argument, and agreeing with the logic of David Bostock’s and Helen Steward’s criticisms of Kripke, which challenge Kripke about possible worlds viz. the problematic notion of rigid designation, the author argues that the four elements of Kripke’s argument all demonstrate contingent truths, not necessary ones.

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