Episteme Vol. XXI
"Prostitution and Casual Sex: An Examination of Kantian Ethics and the Moral Acceptability of Prostitution" by John McDaniel
This paper concerns the ethics of prostitution. It begins with David Benatar’s distinction between “significant” and “casual” sex. Kant’s understanding of sex—fraught with worries about ends, autonomy, and objectification—falls under the significance view of sex, even more “special” because it seems to hold that sex is only morally acceptable within marriage. But this untenable position exposes an inconsistency in Kant’s thoughts on personhood and possession. Singer offers a preferable view of sex as sustenance. The author next argues that the service of prostitution is ethical so long as the prostitute’s job and her or his personal life remain distinct, the body is not harmed, and the prostitute chooses to prostitute. The author then dismisses dissenting opinions from Melissa Farley and Howard Klepper, who misplace the cause of psychological harm and misidentify coercion, respectively. The paper concludes with an analogy connecting the prostitute’s services with a Santa Claus impersonator’s service.
"Telesemantics and the Believer" by Taylor Hamrick
The paper concerns itself with Low-Level teleosemantics, a naturalized theory of intentionality designed to indicate which biological devices and which description are most immediate (and least sophisticated) to how an organism’s (such as a frog) representational system properly functions. The author argues for how Karen Neander’s approach solves Fodor’s indeterminacy problem. The author thoroughly responds to the objection that the Low-Level theory cannot generalize up to more sophisticated mental contents, such as belief-desire human psychology. He introduces a few tools, strategies, and considerations that extend the Low-Level theory, making it possible to increase mental state complexity by moving from action-oriented representations to action-independent representations by accounting for causal interaction between multiple representations, which thus account for behavior variation.
"Surpassing Estrangement: The Reconciliation Between Species Being and Subjective Architectonics in Benjamin" by Michael Nail
The author shows how Walter Benjamin modified Marx’s core concepts of a capitalist political economy given the 20th century reality of double estrangement. Benjamin takes Marx’s dehumanized being as also the creation of opportunities for the laborer’s capital to work for (not just against) him—they create the architechtonics of his life. Benjamin adjusts the notion of species being by introducing the distinction between individual and mass consciousness, and he argues that the commodity mediates between the two realms, of which the subject is the object of the world of commodities directly determined by a subconscious collective that can be more or less “awake” or “dreaming.” The paper additionally describes how for Benjamin, contemporary life outside of labor, which depends so much on mass consciousness, can be understood through the 20th century form of advertising and increased reproduction technologies. There is also discussion of the flaneur person and discretionary spending.
"Time and Consciousness: A Phenomenological View" by Robert Osborne
Apart from our uses of time, in what way does time really exist? Given two possible assumptions—time is objective and time is subjective—the author argues that time is not objective and empirical but rather phenomenologically ideal. The negative argument critiques Sydney Shoemaker’s thought-experiment about changeless time intervals, finding it too radically imagined and containing conceptual conflation. The positive argument invokes Kant’s thoughts on the Transcendental Illusion and Robert K. C. Forman’s knowledge-by-identity theory. Furthermore, the author describes a thought experiment meant to counter Shoemaker’s. In conclusion, Occam’s razor and the author’s logic prefer time as subjective over time as objective: change without time is possible, whereas time without change is not.