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Episteme Vol. XVIII


"On the Validity of Spinoza's Proof for Monism: A Question of Equivocation" by Jennifer Lynn Daigle

Spinoza’s metaphysics fails to employ a consistent use of terms, such as “finite” and “infinite”. After clarifying Spinoza’s philosophical project and analyzing his proof for ontological monism, the author provides a discussion of Spinoza’s employ of concepts “finite” and “infinite,” given his distinction between attribute and absolute. It is found that Spinoza improperly jumps to the existence of God, but that he might be more successful in proving the existence of absolute Being.

"The Extended Room or What Otto Didn't Know" by Ryan Victor

The author provides succinct explications of the relevant literature pertaining to the debate resulting from Turing’s thesis on artificial intelligence. It is argued that Searle’s Chinese room example is refuted by neither the so-called systems reply nor the Extended Mind thesis. Such attempts to defend strong AI err because they rely on altered definitions of concepts that we should not accept. The author, in addition to pointing out the importance of factoring in consciousness, provides several illustrative examples, parallels, and original arguments (including a modified concept of “strong coupling”) in his defense of Searle’s position. The paper concludes with a new thesis concerning the equivocation of mind as capacity and mind as totality, as well a postscript on the nature of meaning.

"Hume: Causality and Subjectivity" by David Mossburger

In the Enquiry, Hume’s discussion of causality figures heavily in his critique of the rationalists. But what exactly do his two “definitions” of causality mean? The author addresses competing questions that arise from Hume’s ambiguity, but one thing is paramount here: both definitions imply a subject’s experience of causality. Following this, the author ponders the uniqueness of cumulative experience and personal belief, later connecting these to Simon Blackburn’s account of the organization of ideas that lead us to think in causal terms. In conclusion, since Hume’s empiricism is metaphysically subjective, Blackburn’s anti-realist interpretation is to be preferred over either positivist or skeptical realist understandings of Hume.

"Metaphors of Objectivity" by Adam Westra

This paper analyzes how Bacon and Popper both use metaphors in support of their respective theories of the objectivity of progressive science. The author tracks each thinker’s prevalent use and dependence on metaphors; including Bacon’s appeal to religion and the emerging science of optics, and Popper’s biological analogy and dismissal of Kuhn’s relativistic view of science and knowledge. The author argues that the objectivist theorists are plagued by the fact that metaphors are not objective. It seems we must accept only one of the two: their objectivity claims or their methodological approach of using metaphors. The author prefers the latter but this does not save objectivist theories.

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