Episteme Vol. IV
"Role-Playing Games and the Ethics of Care" by Laura M. Bernhardt
In this essay, the author explores the development of the “ethic of care” in philosophy and psychology, specifically the promising advancements from Gilligan and Noddings. It is clear that Bill Puka’s critique of Gilligan’s “different voice” philosophy presents a significant challenge to care ethics. What is needed is a formulation of the “feminist” insights that neither falls victim to the “regression” problem, nor requires too strong a commitment to gender roles. The answer the author developes introduces a lens that makes use of Erving Goffman’s role-playing metaphor. In the third of this essay’s three parts, the author shows how role-playing maps onto the concerns in Gilligan and Noddings’ philosophy, remaining true to their spirit but positing new relations and understandings. The ideal derived, after combining all of the relevant insights mentioned in the essay, is one that makes it possible to account for a positive concern for others, personal character growth, and awareness of shifting context.
"Asceticism and the Value of Truth in The Genealogy of Morals" by Julie Anne Buchsbaum
Does Nietzsche believe that asceticism is necessarily and essentially decadent, anti-body, and life-negating? The polemical style of Nietzsche’s critique forces the interpreter to determine if Nietzsche would support a new kind of asceticism or no asceticism at all. This author argues for the former. The paper begins with an overview of the general argument in the Genealogy. The author highlights how the will to power and will to truth get expressed through the ascetic ideal; the relationship between intellectual asceticism and priestly asceticism; and Nietzsche’s ultimate conclusion about the ascetic will to power: it desires an impossible, in-itself reality that winds up rejecting becoming—the ascetic will to power winds up in death. Yet, Nietzsche cannot be suggesting that we give up all the elements of this destructive behavior. Philosophy and art are relatively admired by Nietzsche. Further, the author describes how Nietzsche’s project really just alters the ascetic ideal—the truth project now admits of reflexivity and instability.
"Two Approaches to Artificial Intelligence: An Analysis of Heideggerian and Dreyfusian Critiques" Nicholas K. Gracilla
In this paper, the author explains why Dreyfus’ “in-principle” critique of artificial intelligence successfully dismisses Traditional AI research but cannot sufficiently address (what the author calls) Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP) AI. The problem is that Dreyfus’ recent holistic thoughts run counter to his successful argumentative stance against Traditional AI. The author begins with the debates in- and theories, problems, and latest formulations of- Traditional AI. To flesh-out Dreyfus’ problem with this approach to AI, the author turns to Heidegger’s notion of understanding, making it clear that symbolic representations cannot account for understanding a thing as ready-at-hand, which is a crucial part of Dasein. But don’t PDP networks avoid the pitfalls of Traditional AI? Doesn’t Dreyfus just beg the question when he holds that “human beings are much more holistic than neural nets”? Contra late Dreyfus, the author believes that there is hope in PDP’s ability to exhibit non-formalizable behavior.
"How Not to Read Rorty" by David E. LeBoeuf
This author wants undergraduate philosophy students to beware of meta-narrative “histories of philosophy”: they are easy to misread and hard to properly digest/evaluate. It is important to be cognizant of our individual philosophical maturation, our shedding of simplistic categorizations and under-developed biases; such self-reflexive lessons can help our classmates, as well as scholars in fields that merely dabble in philosophy. The author here focuses on Rorty and his Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, one of the most talked about texts in philosophy. What does his call for the end of philosophy really mean, contain, avoid? The author examines the core of Rorty’s philosophy, his relationship to analytic philosophers (including holists), and some of the major criticisms of Rorty’s views—especially those from Taylor and Bernstein. Many naïve readers adopt Rorty’s “relativism” and “irrationalism” without taking note of the gaps and holes in his argument. At the very least, adoring Rorty’s outlooks ought to require defending him against more than just abstract “relativism”.
"Nagel, Physicalism and Subjectivity" by Brent Little
Thomas Nagel offers one of the most compelling skeptical stances on physicalism. But question: Does intraspecies or interspecies subjectivity really pose an intractable problem for a modern physicalist worldview? The author of this paper does not think so and proceeds to reconcile the prima facie disconnect that Nagel does not get beyond. In general, the author provides a defense of scientific insight as well as accurate interpretations of the task of physics. To begin an answer to Nagel, we can critique his theories about the future of science. We can explain away the concern about accounting for the so-called richness of experience. Also, it is important to keep in mind the uneven level of human sense modalities, which, when taken into consideration, transforms Nagel’s concern into a mere vocabulary problem. Finally, the only difficulty Nagel’s famous thesis concerning what-it-is-like to be a bat poses is: a human cannot be a bat. But since it is physical (structural) explanation that best gets-at why humans lack that capacity for knowledge, even this problem works against Nagel’s intuition.
"Proper Function, Reliability and Warrant" by Jack C. Lyons
Should we be impressed by Plantinga’s radical take on episteme warrant? Not really. The author of this paper is convinced by Plantinga’s negative arguments against former theories of warrant but critical of the proposed theory of proper functionality. The Case of the God-Given Epistemically Serendipitous Lesion does not work for Plantinga, as can be illustrated clearly be analyzing the Part-Time Mind Reader from an old The Twilight Zone episode. External reliability is important, sure, but the cognizer herself must recognize that the faculty or process is reliable. Contra Plantinga, the author formulates a new theory of warrant that takes into account cognitive means, things like “I saw it” and “I read it in the newspaper,” which vary in reliability by person, context, etc. These are necessarily weaker justifications than those Plantinga puts forth unsuccessfully, but they do align with Humean coherence. The author believes his proposed new theory improves upon its influences.