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Episteme Vol. XII


"Revolutionary Modality in Merleau-Ponty's Philosophy of Ambiguity: A Phenomenological Basis for Critical Politics" by Andrew Thomas LaZella

Merold Westphal wrongly interprets the political power of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of ambiguity. Yet, Westphal is right about Merleau-Ponty’s politics as aesthetic: the essence of Merleau-Ponty’s political proposal is political activity defined as concrete lived-experience. The author argues in support of Merleau-Ponty’s politics, which, by way of the ambiguity of perception, must be related to his phenomenology. To keep dialogue—being-for-others—open, Merleau-Ponty embraces situated-ness. This allows him to avoid the foundationalist pitfalls of existential modality that lead to justifying vanguard party terrorism. Furthermore, his understanding of inter-subjectivity frees the proletariat from being irrational subjects merely used by political leadership. If Merleau-Ponty seems politically complacent, it is due to his recognizing that the revolutionary urge requires inviting horizons of Being, which depends far more on history’s gestalt than logical ground. But his critical politics, which steers clear of appeals to the Absolute, engenders true responsibility: openness to change, ambiguity, and pluralism.

"Truth, Inquiry, and the Prospect for Moral Knowledge" by Adrian M. Viens

Recent pragmatists Cheryl J. Misak and Christopher Hookway extend and improve upon C. S. Pierce’s pragmatist ethics. Their work demonstrates that an objective, determinate truth value for morality is most successfully achieved not by a form of realism but by pragmatic consideration, which finds that truth-aimed committed beliefs lead to definite consequences. While explaining pragmatic ethics, the author believes that the important insight is the link offered between inquiry and truth. The pragmatist conception of experience opens the door to establish genuine moral knowledge once the fact/value dichotomy is dissolved—thanks in part to Quine. Although criticized on account of qualification and recalcitrant experience, the pragmatic-cognitivist project can explain away those concerns. A Piercian pragmatist ethics offers the only perspective that can accommodate the fact of pluralism without falling into relativism.

"Necessary Truth and the Existence of External Objects" by Nathan J. Jun

Since the beginning of modern philosophy, philosophers have struggled to establish that both the external and the internal worlds exist. This paper's author summarizes the positions of the strong idealists of the modern period such as Locke, Berkeley, and especially Hume. Next he establishes that some contemporary analytic philosophers question not the external world, but the internal world—posing the problem from another angle. The author then embarks on proving the existence of the external world in such a way that the internal world is not put into question. From what we know about logic, necessity, and rationality, it follows that the existence of physical objects depends merely on the existence of at least one rational being.

"Pragmatism, Neo-Pragmatism, Language and 'Truth'" by Andrew J. Forney

This article takes a look at the place and significance of Rorty’s neo-pragmatism. The author makes an effort to parse out how Rorty fits into the history of pragmatism, philosophies of language, science, and history, and in connection to such explicitly related philosophers as Dewey, James, Davidson, and Kuhn. The author covers a great deal of ground, discussing pragmatist topics such as verification, truth, and culture, as well as Rorty-specific conceptions of semantics, ethnocentrism, post-Kuhn paradigms, and a metaphysics that bears resemblance to Kant’s divided realms.

"Deep Problems for Bayesianism" by David James Anderson

The Humean skeptic seeks not that the future necessarily resembles the past, but only that it is more valid to say that something is always true than it is to say it is true before a certain time. Does Bayesianism provide the argument that Hume missed, thereby justifying inductive reasoning? No. The Bayesian argument sets out to justify the connections between our beliefs based on subjective probability. Although Bayesian conditionalization helps us justify the relative certainty of our beliefs, the Bayesian cannot show that P (h100) is more justified than P(ht), but only that the differential outcome is affected by the arbitrary value of the priors. Bayesian models cannot justify probabilistic inductive hypotheses because Humean counter-examples equally support the opposite each inductive hypothesis. For non-probabilistic hypotheses, the Bayesian model is just an elimination tool. In conclusion, the Humean has not been pacified.

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