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episteme An International Journal Of Undergraduate Philosophy ep•i•ste•me \ep' i ste' mé\ n. [Gk. epistém(é)]: knowledge; specif., intellectually certain knowledge

Volume XX • May 2009 Denison University, Granville, Ohio


Episteme Volume XX• May 2009 Episteme is published under the auspices of the Denison University Department of Philosophy in Granville, Ohio. ISSN 1542-7072 CopyrightŠ 2009 For copy permission, please write the Editors at the email address on the next page.


Editor-in-Chief Megan Henricks Assistant Editors Nathan Dailey Sean Walt Public Relations Chair Alex Rosenberg Editorial Board Melanie Hale Kimbrey Havens Vaughn Morrison Erin Peterson Laura Sherrell Susan Stevens Christoffer Stromstedt Dave Whissel Liz Zak Faculty Advisor Alexandra Bradner

Episteme is published annually by a staff of undergraduate students at Denison University. Please send all inquiries and submissions to: episteme@denison.edu

Statement of Purpose Episteme aims to recognize and encourage excellence in undergraduate philosophy by providing examples of some of the best work currently being done in undergraduate philosophy programs around the world by offering undergraduates their first opportunity to publish philosophic work. It is our hope that the journal will help stimulate philosophic dialogue and inquiry among students and faculty at colleges and universities. The Editors will consider papers written by undergraduate students in any area of philosophy; throughout our history we have published papers on a wide array of thinkers and topics, ranging from ancient to contemporary and including analytic, continental, and eastern. All papers undergo a process of blind review by the editorial staff and are evaluated according to the following criteria: quality of research, depth of philosophic inquiry, creativity, original insight, and clarity. Final selections are made by vote of the Editors and the editorial board. Please see the Call for Papers in the back cover for information on submitting to our next volume.


Episteme An International Journal of Undergraduate Philosophy Volume XX

May 2009

CONTENTS Statement of Purpose and Editorial Staff

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Table of Contents

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The Place of Book X in Plato’s Republic Willie Costello, University of Pittsburgh

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A Gap in Kim’s Eliminative Argument For Reductionism B.D. Mooneyham, Kansas State University

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Rawls on Abortion: Adapting his Theory Of Justice to the Controversy Douglas Dreier, Cornell University

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Norm-Expressivism and the Frege-Geach Problem Megan Blomfield, University of Bristol

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Call For Papers, Vol. XXI (2010)

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The Editors express sincere appreciation to the Provost’s Office, the Denison Honors Program, Melissa Rubins, and faculty advisor Alexandra Bradner for their assistance in making the publication of this journal possible. We extend special gratitude to the other Philosophy Department Faculty: Mark Moller, Barbara Fultner, Tony Lisska, Jonathan Maskit, Ron Santoni, Steve Vogel, Audrey Anton, and Tom Brommage for their support.


The Place of Book X in Plato’s Republic

Willie Costello I. INTRODUCTION

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t the end of Book IX of Plato’s Republic, Socrates seems to have answered the text’s central questions, having shown what the just life is and why it is better and happier than the unjust life. Thus it is somewhat unclear why the dialogue should then turn to a discussion of the harmful effects of poetry in Book X. This apparent discontinuity in the dialogue has led some scholars to dismiss Book X as a tacked-on addendum with little relevance to the main focus of the text.1 I, however, find no reason why we should be forced to accept such interpretations. That Book X is difficult to interpret is certain; that we should thus reject it as gratuitous is hardly reasonable. As Eric Havelock writes, “[a]n author possessing Plato’s skill in composition is not likely to blunt the edge of what he is saying by allowing his thoughts to stray away from it at the end.”2 Thus the challenge for anyone writing on Book X is to articulate just how Plato’s thoughts accord with the rest of the text in this book. The goal of this paper is to do just that: to present an interpretation of Book X that incorporates it as a vital part of Willie Costello graduated this spring from the University of Pittsburgh with a double major in Philosophy and Linguistics. In the fall, he will be entering the University of Toronto's Philosophy PhD program, where he plans to focus primarily on ancient philosophy, and specifically on Plato. His other philosophical interests include Kant, German idealism, Wittgenstein, the philosophy of language, and epistemology, as well as broader methodological issues throughout the history of philosophy.


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the complete text, rather than viewing it as an unnecessary addition to a nine-book work. The typical way scholars go about situating Book X in the context of the rest of the Republic is to relate it back to passages from Books II and III, where Socrates first discusses the role and censorship of the poets. The outcomes of such comparisons are diverse. Some view Book X as completing ideas anticipated in Book III; others consider the two books to be saying essentially the same thing; still others see the two arguments as impossible to reconcile with one another. I will not offer my opinion as to which of these assessments is correct, for my solution is to avoid this comparison entirely and rather to relate Book X to the central focus of the Republic, the defense of justice. To be sure, the argument against poetry in Book X does not add to the defense of justice in the strictest sense; it does not tell us more about what justice is (other than that the just life is one free of most poetry) or why the just life is better and happier. I will argue that what it does instead is to comment on the Republic’s defense of justice itself, showing us why we should believe that defense and how we should react to it. To some, this interpretation may still seem to present Book X as playing an auxiliary role with respect to the rest of the text. This reasoning only holds, however, insofar as one takes Plato to be concerned in the Republic solely with presenting his account of the truth about justice and human virtue. I do not support this reading. The arguments in Book X show that Plato’s ambitions extend beyond mere explication. He is also concerned about how his account will be received, and Book X is his attempt to ensure that it is both accepted and followed. Thus we cannot neglect its arguments as irrelevant; indeed, we have reason to give them extra attention, as they are about how we are to respond to the text. That is what this paper aims to accomplish: to show how an argument about poetry is really an argument about us. II. THE METAPHYSICAL CHARGE AGAINST POETRY The first part of the argument against poetry, the metaphysical charge, challenges the popular conception of the poets by reveal-


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ing the true nature of popular poetry. To this end, Socrates argues that such works of poetry are in fact imitations, and in particular, that they are imitative in their portrayal of human excellence, or virtue. This point is significant because popular opinion holds that works of poetry present the truth in this regard, whereas Socrates wants to show that their presentations fall far from the truth. What we have yet to see, however, is how these qualities of popular poetry are a direct result of its being imitative. That is, what is it about being an imitation that makes the presentation of human excellence in these works not only so far from the truth but also convincing to the majority of people? To answer these questions we must get a better grasp of the concept of imitation as Socrates defines it. His own explanation of the word’s meaning relies on a three-tiered taxonomy of being: first, a thing as it truly is; second, something which is like the first thing, but is not it; and third, something which gives the appearance of the second thing. For ease of reference, I will call the first kind of thing the reality, the second its likeness (eikōn3), and the third an appearance (phantasma/eidōlon4); imitations fall into this third group of appearances. This explanation, however, just displaces our problem. We can now say that popular poetry presents merely the appearance of a likeness of genuine human excellence, but this does not show any better the connection between being an imitation, being far from the truth, and being convincing. Comparison with another case of imitation will help elucidate this point at this stage. Socrates himself draws an analogy with painting for just this purpose in Book X, but I want to avoid this comparison, as it fails to exemplify those imitative qualities we are most interested in.5 What we need to look at is a form of imitation that is clearly both far from the truth of what it imitates and convincing to its audience, and for this purpose I find good reason to look somewhere new, to a passage not often considered in discussions of Book X: the allegory of the cave.6 First, consider Socrates’ taxonomy of being as applied to the different things in the allegory. The first kind of being, or reality, corresponds to the world above the cave, where things


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themselves exist in nature. The likenesses of this reality are the artifacts carried in front of the fire—“statues of people and other animals, made out of stone, wood, and everything else.”7 These things are like the things above the cave but are decidedly not the same; they exist as representations of the things that truly are. The appearances of these likenesses are, of course, their shadows, the images that go flittering by in front of the eyes of the prisoners. Thus the shadows in the cave are imitations—in Book X’s sense of the word—of the actual things in the world above.8 To understand what makes the shadows far from the truth, we must consider how they are produced. We have seen that the shadows are classified as being appearances of statues, but we should not think of them as faithful reproductions of their likenesses; in fact, appearances by their very nature are distorted representations. As Socrates notes, if one walks around a bed and views it from different angles, the bed will appear different each time without ever being different itself—it is always the same bed.9 Likewise, a statue will appear different as it is rotated and tilted, while always remaining one and the same statue. And if the statue were held in front of the light of a fire, one could easily produce many different shadows by simply turning and moving the statue around, as the shadow of a cylinder can look like a circle from one angle and a rectangle from another. A shadow is precisely this kind of appearance, only capturing how its statue variously appears and not how it actually is. It presents a two-dimensional silhouette of its statue, devoid of any color or texture; thus a shadow can hardly be said to be like its statue at all. In this way, an appearance is hardly like its likeness, and like all forms of imitation, “touches only a small part of each thing.”10 Imitations capture things only as they appear, not as they are, and this is why imitations are so far from the truth. The next aspect to look at is what makes the shadows convincing to their audience, and for this purpose we must consider how they are perceived by the prisoners inside the cave. That the prisoners find the shadows convincing is clear: they “believe that the truth is nothing other than the shadows,”11 to


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the extent that they cannot even recognize reality for what it truly is. Unless unchained, they never catch a glimpse of the world behind them; they wholeheartedly believe the world of shadows they see before them to be all there is. Their belief is not due, however, to the shadows’ fidelity to reality; indeed, it cannot be, as the shadows are in fact far from the truth, as shown above. Rather, their belief is caused by their own ignorance of the world outside the cave and of what reality truly is. For their entire lives, the prisoners have seen nothing other than the shadows; thus reality to them is nothing other than the shadows. In their ignorance, they cannot see the shadows as we do. They would never even think of them as being shadows, as they do not possess our distinction between shadows and reality. From their point of view, the shadows are the reality, and it is of great importance to keep their perspective in mind. In this way, imitations appear to be the truth to those who are ignorant, and this is why imitations are so convincing to their audience—not because they are intrinsically convincing, but because their audience has never encountered the truth. We are now ready to return to the case of popular poetry and see just how its imitations work. To begin, consider the taxonomy of being as applied to the case of poetry and human excellence. The first kind of thing, or the reality, would be the virtue itself as its Form: Justice, Courage, Temperance, what have you. This virtue’s likeness would be a person exhibiting excellent behavior, an instance of the virtue but not the virtue itself. The third kind of thing would be the appearance of such a character in both senses of the word: a distorted portrayal of what excellent behavior is truly like that is nevertheless convincing to its audience.12 Socrates contends that popular poetry presents just such an appearance. The first criticism of popular poetry is that it is far from the truth of what it imitates. In other words, popular works of poetry only capture a small part of excellent behavior, just as a shadow only captures the outline of its statue from one angle. Though both forms of imitation resemble their corresponding likenesses in a certain respect, they fail to resemble them in


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countless others. Just as a shadow distorts its statue’s color, texture, and three-dimensionality, poetic works distort the true nature of excellent behavior (as it is presented in the Republic): rational thought and deliberation.13 The heroes of popular poetry, rather, are full of inner conflict, being pulled in various directions by their myriad desires. They overreact and become emotional over their tragic misfortunes. They are “excitable and multicolored,”14 exaggerated and bombastic, exactly the sort of personalities we would call “dramatic” or “theatrical.” These sorts of portrayals, fundamental to all the kinds of poetry that concern Socrates, do not at all capture what excellent behavior is truly like. Yet these sorts of appearances are no less convincing to the members of their audience, who are ignorant of the truth about excellent human behavior. It is excitable and exaggerated heroes that we expect and demand from our poetry. They are the types of characters we find most believable; they are the characters which to us appear to be excellent.15 Socrates comments that: A rational and quiet character, which always remains pretty well the same, is neither easy to imitate nor easy to understand when imitated, especially not by a crowd consisting of all sorts of people gathered together at a theater festival, for the experience being imitated is alien to them.16 Socrates is here saying that the genuinely excellent character is out of place in the world of popular poetry. His or her appearance on stage would be odd and disorienting, but most of all unsatisfying. The piece would be looked upon as a poor and “unrealistic” work of art, when in fact it is closer to reality than anything normally presented by the poets. A similar phenomenon occurs inside the cave: if a prisoner were freed and compelled to look at the statues behind him, “he’d believe that the things he saw earlier [the shadows] were truer than the ones he was seeing now.”17 Given the ignorance of the common people,


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it is no surprise that they mistake the distorted portrayals of excellent behavior for the truth—they simply do not know any better. They believe in only what they are accustomed to seeing and thus are unreceptive to seeing anything different. Popular opinion only attributes so much wisdom to the poets because of the public’s own ignorance of what the truth is actually like. This is the push behind the metaphysical charge against poetry. In arguing that popular works of poetry are in fact imitations, Socrates asserts the essential triviality of popular poetry, which, in the context of the discussion, is no trivial point. He is arguing against the popular opinion that poets know all about human virtue and that popular works of poetry give us insight into the truth. By revealing the actual triviality of popular poetry, Socrates destroys this very belief. He shows that the things most people consider to be the truth are actually mere appearances that are far removed from what the truth really is. Or, in more familiar terms, the point is that up to now we have only been looking at shadows in the cave, and like the prisoners there, we are convinced of the truth of what we are seeing. The discussion of poetry in Book X is what Jonathan Lear would refer to as an “aha!-experience,” in which we say to ourselves, “So that’s what the allegory of the cave is really about!”18 It takes the allegory of the cave and makes it real, showing us the hollowness in the common conception of human excellence. This point is essential to the argument of the Republic and begins to explain the placement of Book X in the text. The defense of justice presented in the first nine books is framed in contrast with the popular opinions of the time. Thus after the true nature of justice has been explained and illustrated—that is, after Book IX—important questions still remain, questions any contemporary of Plato would have been likely to ask: Why should we doubt what we have always taken to be the truth? Why should we abandon what we, along with our fellow citizens, have believed since childhood in favor of the radical opinions of some philosopher? The metaphysical charge, especially when read alongside the allegory of the cave, directly addresses these questions. It shows that appearances can be deceiving, that what


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we have always assumed to be the truth can in fact be far from it. By identifying popular works of poetry as imitations of human excellence, the argument shows that the truth of the matter need not look anything like the popular “wisdom” we glean from the poets. Rather, the truth about human excellence can be something that seems foreign and even implausible—something, perhaps, like the defense of justice that fills the pages before Book X. In this way, the metaphysical charge is indispensable to the overall argument of the text, showing why we should believe a philosophical account that runs counter to everything we have hitherto believed—that is, why we should believe the argument of the Republic. III. THE ETHICAL CHARGE AGAINST POETRY Book X’s criticism does not end with the metaphysical charge. In addition, it presents an ethical charge against popular poetry, showing that it, by its very nature, harms the souls of its listeners. In this way, the argument against poetry continues the discussion begun in Books VIII and IX of the various ways in which the soul can be corrupted.19 Popular poetry is shown in Book X to draw us away from virtuous behavior, instead encouraging us to act in shameful ways. Moreover, the corrupting influence of poetry is not limited to those who are ignorant of what excellent behavior is truly like; as we will see, it is just as capable of harming those who know better. First, however, we must understand what it is about popular poetry that makes it so ethically harmful to begin with. We know from the metaphysical charge that poetry is imitative in its portrayal of excellent human behavior. To clarify just how imitative poetry works its ethical harm on its audience, Socrates considers the specific example of how it portrays human behavior in matters of misfortune. First he examines how we ourselves react to misfortune and recognizes that in such instances there are most often “two opposite inclinations in a person,”20 one that tells her to control her grief and another that tells her to give in to it. The former is the voice of the rational part of her soul and on the side of “reason and law;”21 the latter is the voice of her non-


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rational part. The urgings of the rational part point towards “the best way to deal with misfortune,”22 telling her to keep quiet and not get excited or overly emotional, so as to be able to deliberate over the best way to cope with the situation. The non-rational part, on the other hand, exhorts her to lament over her sorrows, until she is “weeping and wailing” like a child.23 As we saw above, the characters of imitative poetry are excited and exaggerated personalities that weep and wail over their misfortunes—that is, characters that act on the urgings of the non-rational part of the soul. The real danger of popular poetry, however, comes from what happens when we watch these kinds of characters. Socrates explains: When even the best of us hear Homer or some other tragedian imitating one of the heroes sorrowing and making a long lamenting speech or singing and beating his breast, you know that we enjoy it, give ourselves up to following it, sympathize with the hero, take his sufferings seriously, and praise as a good poet the one who affects us most in this way.24 What we appreciate and enjoy most about works of poetry is their ability to move us emotionally, to bring us into their dramatic world and make us feel their characters’ sorrows. In other words, watching characters weep and wail on stage makes us weep and wail ourselves, provided the poet is a good one. By presenting characters that act on the urgings of their non-rational part, imitative poetry makes us act on the urgings of our nonrational part. We weep, we wail, we become emotional. Imitative poetry encourages us to disregard the bidding of our rational part and rather to act as our non-rational part wants us to act. Thus the imitative poet “arouses, nourishes, and strengthens this part of the soul and so destroys the rational one.”25 Imitative poetry rewards the lesser part and neglects the better part of us, and in this way it “puts a bad constitution in the soul of each individual.”26 This is why popular poetry is ethically harmful.


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It may be thought, however, that the ethical danger of popular poetry can be removed if we know the truth about human excellence. In other words, if one recognizes that the characters in poetry are not acting in the truly best ways, one will have no reason to applaud, admire, or sympathize with them, and thus one will avoid any possible ethical harm. Socrates even seems to suggest something of the sort at the beginning of Book X, when he says that imitative poetry is “likely to distort the thought of anyone who hears it, unless he has the knowledge of what it is really like, as a drug [pharmakon] to counteract it.”27 However, it is a mistake to assume that this pharmakon is simply the account presented in the metaphysical charge, namely that poetry is imitative in its portrayal of human excellence. This is certainly part of the pharmakon, but it is not all there is to it. Socrates says later that imitative poetry is “able to corrupt even decent people,”28 which I take to mean that poetry is capable of harming even those who know better, those who know the truth about human excellence. This means, of course, that there is another part of poetry’s nature that even decent people fail to recognize and which, if not recognized, is capable of doing harm to one’s soul. Thus we must consider how these people, who know that poetry does not present the truth, still manage to be corrupted by poetry’s influence. To begin, Socrates notes that the sort of overemotional behavior seen in popular poetry is not at all what we would deem proper in our own lives.29 In our own behavior, the actions we value and praise are nothing like the actions we applaud in poetry. When we ourselves experience misfortune, we know we should control our emotions, not give in to them. In other words, in our own actions we recognize and strive towards genuine human excellence, while in our reactions to poetry we want to see the kinds of actions that are far from what is best and are in fact what is worst. Socrates then raises the obvious question: Then are we right to praise [imitative poetry]? Is it right to look at someone behaving in a way that


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His answer to this question is an emphatic “no.” Socrates is here taking issue with an experience common to us all: enjoying things we know are not respectable. When it is time for dessert, we enjoy most the cake that is supremely decadent, even though we know it is not what is best for the body. The situation is the same in the case of imitative poetry: in our private misfortunes, we pride ourselves on our ability to control the non-rational part of our souls. Yet this is “the very part that receives satisfaction and enjoyment from poets,”31 and we admire and enjoy the poetic works that satisfy us most in this way. From this example, it may seem that the temptation of poetry lies in its strong appeal to our non-rational desires, and without a doubt, this is part of the explanation: our emotional desires are naturally drawn towards the poet’s dramatic portrayals. But this is not the crux of the argument. The point is that when we listen to poetry, our rational part is willing and even thinks it beneficial to indulge the desires of the non-rational part. Thus it is not that we can’t resist the allure of poetry—rather, it is that we don’t. Socrates contends that we act in this way out of ignorance. Not having been “adequately educated by either reason or habit,”32 the rational part thinks that “there is no shame involved for it in praising and pitying another man who, in spite of his claim to goodness, grieves excessively.”33 The rational part makes the mistake of relaxing its guard when watching someone else’s actions, whereas it would not relax itself in the case of its own. This, however, is a fatal mistake, for whether one is responding to one’s own actions or to another’s, one is always responding with one and the same soul—one’s own. The soul that we allow to take pleasure in the shameful actions of others is the same soul that will be in control in our own actions. The nonrational part, “if it is nourished and strengthened on the sufferings of others, won’t easily be held in check when we ourselves


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suffer.”34 By allowing the non-rational part to enjoy itself when listening to poetry, we are relinquishing the control the rational part has over our soul and our actions, which is an effect that will last even after the performance is finished. This is why imitative poetry can corrupt even those who know better than to act like the characters in tragedies or epics in their own lives. Even though these people know that the behavior of such characters is shameful, they do not recognize that the enjoyment of such behavior is also shameful; indeed, they deny this fact. They view poetry as a harmless diversion, and a pleasurable one at that; this is what makes poetry so tempting to them. They believe that poetry affords them the opportunity to gratify their non-rational desires without the risk of real harm, when in truth they are doing themselves the greatest harm— corrupting the state of their very souls. Poetry may bring us into its fictional world of actors, but we as audience members are never pretending. The way our souls react to poetry is as real and as genuine as actual experience. If it is shameful to weep over one’s misfortunes in one’s own life, it is just as shameful and, moreover, harmful to weep over a character’s misfortunes in a work of poetry. This is the fact that even decent people fail to recognize, and this is why imitative poetry can corrupt even them. Anyone who recognizes this final element of the ethical charge will not be willing to indulge in the shameful enjoyment of poetry any more than he would be willing to behave in such shameful ways in his own life. In other words, only now, at the end of the ethical charge, do we arrive at the aforementioned pharmakon—the knowledge of what imitative poetry in all its aspects is really like and the knowledge that ultimately prevents such poetry from doing us harm.35 We can now see the full extent of the ethical charge against poetry. First, we are shown that poetry, by drawing us into its dramatic world, strengthens the lesser part in us and thereby does harm to our souls. Second, we are shown why even the best of us fail to avoid this danger by failing to recognize the


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very real harm the enjoyment of poetry brings. The conclusion is that no good can come from popular poetry, and thus the virtuous life is one devoid of popular poetry. This point should not be lost on the reader of the Republic, for the ethical charge against poetry is just as important as the metaphysical charge to the overall argument of the text. It shows us that knowing the truth about human excellence alone will not put us in a much better position. In addition, we must actively live out this truth in our every action, and this message is a particularly relevant one at this stage in the dialogue. The first nine books of the Republic present the reader with the truth about justice and human virtue; Book X tells the reader that just being aware of this truth is not enough. That is, we should not think ourselves better for just having read the Republic. What truly makes us better is what we do after we finish reading, namely, living our lives according to truth and virtue. If we do not make such a change in our actions, the awareness we have of the truth gets us nowhere. Thus the effect of the ethical charge is a galvanizing one. It is Plato’s attempt to spur his readers into (virtuous) action and a warning against thinking oneself able to act shamefully without consequence. It speaks to the need and urgency of virtuous behavior in all our actions, thus showing why we should adhere to the Republic’s account of justice and human virtue. IV. CONCLUSION The importance and relevance of Book X can now be seen in all its manifestations. Its arguments reflect back on the Republic’s central discussion of justice, showing why we should both accept and follow its account of virtue. In this way, Book X, ostensibly an argument about poetry, is in fact an argument about us and how we are to react to the text. Yet it may be suggested that Book X, strictly speaking, is not an argument for us but an argument for them, the original readers of the Republic. Certainly, it cannot be denied that the criticisms in Book X were a result of the historical moment in which Plato was writing. Poetry today is nothing like it was in that time, nor is there any one thing in our


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own society with the ubiquity and influence of Ancient Greek poetry. This does not mean, however, that the Republic is limited by its historical and cultural context. More broadly speaking, Book X argues against the forces that prevent us from accepting and following the Republic’s account of justice and human virtue, and these forces are just as much present in our contemporary society. The Republic’s ideas of what the just life is and why it is best still sound foreign to even our modern ears, and we are certainly a long way from abiding by such principles in our own lives. Book X challenges us to ask ourselves just why that is.


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Most notably Annas, who describes Book X as “gratuitous and clumsy,” “full of oddities,” “an excrescence,” “[the Republic’s] lame and messy ending,” and “added to a work essentially complete already” (Annas, An Introduction to Plato’s Republic, 335, 353). 2 Havelock, Preface to Plato, 3. 3 cf. Plato, Republic, 401b. 4 cf. Ibid., 598b. 5 Socrates, however, would disagree. He argues that painting is not only far from the truth in its imitative portrayal of (visual) reality but also convincing to some: “If [the artist] is a good painter and displays his painting of a carpenter at a distance, he can deceive children and foolish people into thinking that it is truly a carpenter” (Plato, Republic, 598c). This claim makes precisely the point I am looking for (that imitations are convincing to those who are ignorant of the truth), but I find its example too implausible and unconvincing to drive the point home. 6 As Harte notes, the question that marks the beginning of Book X’s argument (“Could you tell me what imitation in general is?” 595c) suggests “the initiation of a Socratic inquiry into the nature of mimesis [imitation]” (Harte, “Republic X and the Role of the Audience in Art,” 3). We can then read the metaphysical charge as explicating the essence of imitation, which is common to all its various kinds. Thus I find little cause for concern in considering one instance of imitation in favor of another, especially when the substitute better illustrates my point. 7 Plato, Republic, 514c. 8 Burnyeat also makes the connection between imitation and the cave: “[The metaphysical status of imitations] matches exactly the status of the shadows in the Cave: they derive from the puppets carried along the wall, which are themselves likenesses of the real people, animals, and things outside the cave. The shadows are at third remove (Greeks count inclusively) from the real things outside” (Burnyeat, “Culture and Value in Plato’s Repub1


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lic,” 243). But this is as far as he takes the analogy; I hope to fill in some of the details in what follows. 9 Plato, Republic, 598a ff. 10 Ibid., 598b. 11 Ibid., 515c. 12 Moss makes the keen observation that there are two senses in which ‘apparent’ can be used in English: “clearly visible or understood; obvious” and “seeming real or true, but not necessarily so.” This distinction is also found in Greek: phainesthai with the participle yields the former sense (“that a thing manifestly is so and so”), phainesthai with the infinitive the latter (“that a thing appears to be so and so”). Moss points out that Plato uses the infinitive construction exclusively in the relevant passages of Book X, suggesting that we should understand ‘appearance’ in its latter, “ostensible” sense. (Cf. Moss, “What is Imitative Poetry and Why is it Bad?” 426, n. 19. The lexical citations come from the Oxford American Dictionary and Liddell & Scott, respectively.) 13 cf. Plato, Republic, 604c-d. 14 Ibid., 605a 15 Here I follow closely the interpretation presented in Moss, “What is Imitative Poetry and Why is it Bad?” 432-434. 16 Plato, Republic, 604e. 17 Ibid., 515d. 18 For more on “aha!-experiences”, see Lear, “Allegory and Myth in Plato’s Republic,” 37. 19 This reading is also endorsed by Nehamas, who describes Book X as “a part of the long discussion of the perversions of the soul and of the city that begins with Book 8” (Nehamas, “Plato on Imitation and Poetry in Republic 10,” 53). 20 Plato, Republic, 604b. 21 Ibid., 604a. 22 Ibid., 604d. 23 Ibid., 604c. 24 Ibid., 605c-d. Note the use of the verb ‘sympathize’ in this passage. The Greek verb is sumpaschein, or literally ‘to experience/


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suffer along with’. According to the LSJ, this is a relatively rare word in the Greek corpus, and its earliest known usage is found in Plato’s Charmides. There it is used in the sense of ‘to have the same thing happen to one', as is evident from the passage in which it appears: “…the sight of someone yawning opposite causes people to be affected [sumpaschousin] in the same way” (169c). The only other instance of sumpaschein in Plato is in the passage from Book X quoted above, to which the LSJ (and also our translator) attributes the slightly different sense of ‘to have a fellow-feeling, sympathize, feel sympathy’. However, given sumpaschein’s morphological roots and clear meaning in the Charmides, along with Plato’s very possible coinage of the word, ‘to sympathize’ seems like a mistranslation, likely influenced by the related though not equivalent verb sumpathein, ‘to sympathize’. Rather, we should read Plato here as saying that when we watch a poetic hero weep and wail over his misfortunes, the same thing happens to us—that is, we also weep and wail over his misfortunes. 25 Plato, Republic, 605b. 26 Ibid., 605b. 27 Ibid., 595b. 28 Ibid., 605c, emphasis my own. 29 cf. Ibid., 605d-e. 30 Ibid., 605e. 31 Ibid., 605a. 32 Ibid., 606a. 33 Ibid., 606b. 34 Ibid., 606b. 35 For evidence that the conclusions of the ethical charge are indeed the pharmakon mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, see Socrates’ comments at the end of the section: “We’ll repeat the argument we have just now put forward like an incantation so as to preserve ourselves from slipping back into that childish passion for poetry which the majority of people have” (608a). Both ‘pharmakon’ and ‘incantation’ have similar curative and therapeutic undertones that suggest these two passages are to be read together.


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WORKS CITED Annas, Julia. An Introduction to Plato’s Republic. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981. Burnyeat, M. F. “Culture and Value in Plato’s Republic.” Tanner Lectures in Human Values 20 (1999): 215-324. Harte, V. “Republic X and the Role of the Audience in Art.” Working draft, used with the permission of the author, 2008. Havelock, Eric. A. Preface to Plato. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963. Lear, Jonathan. “Allegory and Myth in Plato’s Republic,” The Blackwell Guide to Plato’s Republic. Edited by Gerasimos Santas. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2006. Moss, Jessica. “What is Imitative Poetry and Why is it Bad?” The Cambridge Companion to Plato’s Republic. Edited by G. R. F. Ferrari. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Nehamas, A. “Plato on Imitation and Poetry in Republic 10,” Plato on Beauty, Wisdom, and the Arts. Edited by J. M. E. Moravcsik and Philip Temko. Totawa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1982. Plato. Republic. Translated by G. M. A. Grube, revised by C. D. C. Reeve. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1992.


A Gap in Kim’s Eliminative Argument for Reductionism

B.D. Mooneyham

J

aegwon Kim’s book, Physicalism, or Something Near Enough (2005), addresses important issues for those who wish to understand the mind in the context of a physicalist worldview. His book starts by introducing two difficult concepts for physicalists to explain about the mind, given certain beliefs that go with the physicalist worldview. The two concepts together create an unfortunate dilemma for physicalists, because an explanation of one seems incompatible with an explanation of the other. Having established this dilemma, Kim then proceeds to examine various theories of the mind, evaluating them on the basis of their ability to respond to these difficult concepts. Using this standard, Kim slowly whittles down the options until one remains. In this way, he ends up with a view that, he admits, contains elements that do not appeal to a large number of philosophers, though it is nonetheless the truth that we are stuck with. In this paper I will show that Kim’s argument against a major anti-physicalist view of the mind, using his version of the “pairing problem,” does not function in the same way as his argument against nonreductive physicalism, also known as the exclusion argument. Viewed as a stand-alone argument, the pairing problem may not bear the same eliminative weight as the exB. D. Mooneyham completed a dual degree at Kansas State University in December of 2008, majoring in Philosophy and Economics. In the fall of 2009, he will attend the University of Chicago Law School, where he will study regulation and jurisprudence. His philosophical interests include philosophy of mind, ethics (especially Kantian ethics), epistemology, philosophy of law, and the history of philosophy.


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clusion argument, because it does not validly lead us to the same conclusion. To set up this discussion, I will introduce the major contemporary theories in the philosophy of mind, then summarize Kim’s presentation of the exclusion argument and the pairing problem, and discuss how they differ and why it is important. The philosophy of mind generally concerns issues and problems pertaining to mental life, including things such as our thoughts, beliefs, desires, perceptions, and sensations: we want to know where these things come from, what they are like, and how we can explain them. To give some brief background, the historical debate about these topics can be divided into roughly two camps: dualists, who hold that the mind is distinct from the body and is the seat of mental life; and non-dualists, who hold that the body and the mind are one and the same, or rather that mental functions are a special kind of bodily function. According to the latter group, “having a mind” does not literally mean there is some special thing you “have” any more than “taking a walk” means that there is some thing in the world known as a "walk" that you can take.1 On one end of the spectrum between dualists and nondualists is the view known as substance dualism. This view is commonly associated with René Descartes, although its origins stretch back long before him and it continues to be held among some philosophers today. Substance dualism is the view that human beings are composed of a material body as well as an immaterial “soul” (or mind; I will use these terms interchangeably). On this view, the soul is a completely separate substance from the body, existing independently (that is, not as a derivative of the body) but also somehow very closely connected to it. Substance dualism, one can see, is compatible with such beliefs as life after bodily death, the existence of incorporeal spirits, and so forth. This is not to imply that it is less a philosophical view than a religious view, but is meant to set up the entrenched connection between philosophy of mind and a broader ontology of existent objects. One will notice that substance dualism is much less com-


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patible with worldviews that preclude the existence of immaterial, or spiritual, entities. In the contemporary philosophical realm, the primary criticisms of substance dualism come from those who subscribe to some form of physicalism. Physicalism is roughly the view that everything that exists in the world is made up only of bits of matter and nothing else. Another way of describing physicalism is that everything in the world can be explained exhaustively by using the language of the basic sciences such as chemistry and physics—much of the driving force behind physicalism comes from continued advancements and new discoveries in the sciences, which seem to explain more about the world at every turn. Over the last century, physicalism has become the dominant framework through which most contemporary philosophy of mind is discussed. Jaegwon Kim writes his book for physicalists, trying to find the position that is most consistent with the principles of physicalism while also being able to explain adequately aspects that we consider necessary to an understanding of the mind. There is serious division even among physicalists about how to characterize the mind. Some people believe that physicalism is compatible with a certain kind of dualism, usually referred to as property dualism. According to property dualism, mental events and mental properties (things such as thoughts, beliefs, and sensations) are categorically distinct from physical events and properties (say, neural or brain states). In other words, one cannot reduce the mental to the physical—even though every substance that exists is purely physical, mental properties also exist. This general position is known as nonreductive physicalism, with property dualism being the most common version. By contrast, reductive physicalists (or reductionists) believe that mental activity just is physical activity, nothing more. Kim aims his initial address at nonreductive physicalists—those who believe that the mental is distinct from the physical—due to the amount of attention and popularity currently enjoyed by these views in the philosophical realm. The two primary issues (i.e., problems for physicalism) that Kim brings up in chapter one of his book are mental causation (how


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one’s mind can cause things to happen in one’s body and vice versa, or how one mental event can cause another) and consciousness. Kim then presents a simple argument (viz., the exclusion argument) meant to show that under a set of basic assumptions held by physicalists, it becomes difficult to show how mental events can have any causal powers. These assumptions are: 1. Mind-Body Supervenience, according to which no occurrence or change of mental properties or events can exist without a corresponding physical property or event—to say that the mental “supervenes” on the physical is not merely to say that they are in constant conjunction; it means that the mental depends on the physical in some way; 2. The Causal Closure of the Physical Universe, which states that for any physical event that has a cause, that cause will be physical—this is a basic principle used especially in scientific explanations under physicalism; and 3. A Causal Exclusion Principle, which entails that there can be no more than one sufficient cause for a given event, unless that event is a “genuine case of causal overdetermination.” The last of the three assumptions Kim believes to be a “general metaphysical constraint”2 and not simply an assumption of physicalism. These three beliefs, coupled with the nonreductive view of mental events, give rise to the problem of mental causation that Kim tries to establish. Roughly translated, the problem amounts to this: the physicalist must believe (according to supervenience) that any time a mental event, such as a thought, occurs, there exists a corresponding physical event which necessarily accompanies the mental event—say, some brain state S. That mental event could not exist without its physical “supervenience base.” The physical supervenience base generates, or causes, the supervenient mental event. If this is the case, there seems to be little room to


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say that one mental event can “cause” another, because for any given mental event, it will have a physical supervenience base that is sufficient for its existence. This makes mental-to-mental causation an illusion. We might be tempted to say that a mental event can “cause” another by causing the physical supervenience base for that mental event—this would be an example of mental-tophysical causation. But again, according to supervenience, the former mental event must have its own physical supervenience base, without which the former mental event could not exist. Because of this dependency of the mental on the physical, this former physical event (which generated the former mental event) now has a strong case to be considered the true cause of the latter physical event (which generated the latter mental event). Moreover, according to physical causal closure, the latter physical event must have a physical cause, and according to the causal exclusion principle, there must only be one cause (since this does not seem to be a genuine case of causal overdetermination). So we have a physical event (with a supervenient mental property) which causes another physical event (generating its own supervenient mental property), but the mental events do not stand in a causal relationship to one another. This argument takes away mental-to-mental causation and mental-to-physical causation, leaving, at best, physical-tomental causation. Thus we are faced with a situation in which mental events appear to be stripped of causal powers, leading to epiphenomenalism—roughly, the view that mental events merely appear to be causally efficacious when in fact they are causally impotent. This unfortunate result could be overcome on a reductionist view, because in that case, the mental event just is the physical event, so positing mental events as causal influences would not result in causal overdetermination. However, as Kim points out, many philosophers resist this concession to reductionism. For one thing, reductionism seems to compromise our sense of the mental as something distinct and important in our understanding of ourselves. This leads into the next major problem for physicalists:


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the problem of consciousness. Philosophers of mind are challenged to explain how such a phenomenon as consciousness could arise in a universe that strictly consists of bits of matter. Kim argues that this mystery can only be solved if consciousness is reducible,3 but for a variety of reasons, consciousness seems to evade reductionist strategies. Part of this has to do with the phenomenal quality of certain experiences, such as the sensation of redness or the “hurt” of pain, for which it is hard to find physical correlates. Of course, if consciousness cannot be reduced, this constrains our ability to use reductionism to preserve mental causation. The dilemma should now be clear: physicalists seem forced to either accept a genuine view of mental causation by adopting reductionism and thereby risk being unable to account for consciousness, or reject reductionism and sacrifice mental causation. This is a hard place for physicalists, because both mental causation and consciousness seem to be key components in our understanding of our own mentality. Kim endorses reductionism as the answer to this dilemma because he thinks that the idea of mental causation is too important to leave out of a theory of the mind. He says, “[T]he possibility of human agency, and hence our moral practice, evidently requires that our mental states have causal effects in the physical world.”4 He then goes on to identify different forms of reductionism and present arguments for the best among these options. But before he moves on to reductionism, he acknowledges that there seems to be an important third choice in this matter. Given the uncomfortable dilemma that has been presented to physicalists, some may take this to be evidence that physicalism is an inadequate worldview under which to construct a theory of the mind, and that one should instead embrace the major alternative—substance dualism. Recognizing this inclination, Kim offers an argument meant to show that substance dualism fares no better (and perhaps worse) than nonreductive physicalism on the issue of mental causation. According to Kim, the classic criticism of Cartesian substance dualism has come in the form of a protest that it is hard to


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see how two very different substances, one immaterial and one material, could causally interact with one another. As Kim points out, this objection really amounts to more of a demand for an explanation than an actual demonstration that substance dualism is false. Kim thinks the physicalist can find a more persuasive argument against the dualist. The central problem of immaterial souls concerning mental causation, Kim believes, lies not in the differences between mental and physical substances but in the inherent nonspatiality most commonly attributed to immaterial souls under substance dualism. The objection can be best illustrated by what Kim calls the pairing problem, which employs a scientific explanation of causal interactions. It is meant to undermine substance dualism’s ability to account for mental causation. The pairing problem can be summarized with the following observations. When we talk about causal relations between physical objects, the way that we pair a specific cause with its particular effect is to identify spatiotemporal properties of the two objects—physical coordinates, points of contact, etc. When one billiard ball hits another, or a flame heats a pot of water, there is a physical interaction. By identifying these spatiotemporal relations, we can distinguish the exact physical cause from other objects in the vicinity, because two distinct objects cannot exist in the same space at a given time. The same cannot be said, supposedly, about immaterial souls. If souls really are nonphysical, it does not seem to make sense to point to a location and say that one’s soul is “there.” According to Kim, this lack of defined spatial relations for souls makes it virtually impossible to attribute any causal activity to them, because they cannot be paired with anything else on the basis of physical relations. As far as we know, he says, causal relationships require some sort of spatiotemporal reference: Causal relations must be selective and discriminating, in the sense that there can be two objects with identical intrinsic properties such that a third object causally acts on one but not the other, and,


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similarly, that there can be two intrinsically indiscernible objects such that one of them, but not the other, causally acts on a third object.… This calls for a principled way of distinguishing intrinsically indiscernible objects in causal situations, and it is plausible that spatial relations provide us with the principal means for doing this.5 This pairing problem allegedly shows that immaterial souls cannot participate in causal relations, either with bodies or with other souls. Kim concludes that “the very idea of immaterial, nonspatial entities precludes them from entering into causal relations; in fact, I think that the very idea of such objects may well be incoherent and unintelligible.”6 Essentially, the pairing problem exposes substance dualism as a form of epiphenomenalism. Consequently, if positing immaterial souls provides no helpful solution to the problem of mental causation, then we should ask why they should be believed to exist; they would be unnecessary entities in our theory of the mind, explanatorily useless, and so should be eliminated. This leads us back to physicalism, where Kim believes he has steered us to accept reductionism as the only appropriate answer to the problem posed by mental causation. But has he jumped to this conclusion too quickly? Kim argues that we must assess whether substance dualism “fares better” on the issue of mental causation. Can one logically move from the premises Kim offers to the conclusion he wants? I contend that the explanatory step in which Kim justifies his essential premise that “our idea of causation requires that the causally connected items be situated in a space-like framework”7 is missing, which leaves a hole for the substance dualist to rejoin. This hole is important, because Kim’s entire argument throughout the book depends on elimination of the alternatives—he tirelessly concedes that the view we are “left with,” namely a kind of functional reductionism, has its own imperfections (particularly, that reductionism may not be able to account fully for conscious, qualitative mental experiences), but that none


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of the alternative views stand up to criticism regarding mental causation. Presuming the importance of mental causation for our understanding of ourselves, we should, ceteris paribus, prefer a theory that can account for mental causation. Although he is careful to provide positive arguments for reductionism, recognizing that preserving mental causation does not automatically make a theory the right one,8 these positive arguments become less compelling if it can be shown that reductionism is not the only view that is consistent with mental causation. Kim’s argument against substance dualism is different from his argument against non-reductionism (viz., the exclusion argument), because in the latter case he provides principles that a physicalist must (or at least should) hold and shows that these principles are logically inconsistent with the idea of mental causation if one takes a nonreductive view of the mental. In the case against substance dualism, all that he shows is that if we are to understand how a soul causally interacts with a body, it cannot be the same way that two bodies interact. But this is, perhaps, to be expected. Why, the substance dualist might ask, should we expect souls to behave according to the exact same rules that govern bodies?9 What Kim wants to have as a premise in his argument is that causal relations can only exist if they model the interactions between two physical entities; in other words, for souls to have causal powers, they must be brought into the physical realm, in which case they seem to lose their distinctive non-physical quality. However, this premise begs the question against the substance dualist because it assumes physicalism, but the truth of substance dualism entails the falsity of physicalism. The premise mentioned above will be rejected by substance dualists because nothing in their worldview relies on the assumption of physical explanations being exhaustive. Thus, the pairing problem does not produce the same kind of inconsistency as the exclusion argument. Even if the dualist admits that causal relations between spiritual and corporeal entities are wholly mysterious, that does not ipso facto discredit her view. Presumably, the concept of a soul that causes certain events to occur within the body is neither incoherent nor particularly enig-


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matic. It becomes difficult when one attempts to explain how this process might work. Still, the possibility of there being an explanation for mental causation is different from our ever knowing this explanation. Kim has only attacked the latter, not the former. Many substance dualists will claim that the mystery of mind-body interaction does not preclude its possibility, and if we have independent reasons for thinking that immaterial objects exist (say, philosophical arguments for the existence of God), then physicalism may not offer a “better” explanation of mentality, because as Kim himself shows throughout the book, physicalism seems unable in principle to account for all of the important components of mentality, either by reducing everything or by positing mental properties. In response to this claim, Kim needs to either offer additional arguments that substance dualism is logically incompatible with mental causation (not merely that it lacks a physical explanation), or he needs to offer arguments meant to show the implausibility of the existence of immaterial entities, based on principles to which dualists and physicalists alike are committed. The lack of a physical explanation alone does not get him there. One example of an argument which, if sound, would entail the logical inconsistency of substance dualism (given a principle that the dualist ought to accept) might be the following. The scientific community broadly supports what is now called the first law of thermodynamics, or the conservation of energy principle. According to this principle, the amount of energy within a closed system does not change; it is neither created nor destroyed. But on the substance dualist’s view of mental causation, the soul causally interacts with the body, which means that there must be some kind of energy exchange between these entities. Energy somehow departs from the soul, and then enters the physical domain, where it causes the motion of particles, and vice versa. This, of course, violates the first law of thermodynamics. Now we have a new dilemma for the substance dualist: either accept substance dualism at the cost of abandoning (or at least modifying) the first law of thermodynamics, or abandon


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substance dualism and adopt some kind of physicalist view. Note the similarity between this argument and Kim’s exclusion argument. It is thus surprising that Kim relies on a weaker argument, the pairing problem, to eliminate substance dualism from the realm of viable options in the philosophy of mind. This, as I have shown, produces a gap in his argument: Kim cannot argue that reductionism is the only option unless he truly eliminates the other options. But to show the inconsistency that he wants, he has to show that some view is inconsistent with principles that both parties accept, as he did in the exclusion argument. As I said earlier, one of the distinctive features of the philosophy of mind is the degree to which it is tied to additional issues relating to the ontology of existent objects. If one believes that God or other spiritual entities exist (more importantly, if one has a reasoned view of their existence), then physicalism (especially reductive physicalism) concerning the mental may not be a compelling view. Conversely, one who subscribes to ontological physicalism cannot accept the existence of immaterial substances, and thus cannot use them to explain the mind. Any arguments attempting to span this ontological gap must appeal to shared principles. This may require more careful work than what Kim offers here.10 After all, his book is addressed to physicalists, who would presumably share many of his ontological intuitions. Nevertheless, without this appeal, at least so far as the above examination shows, Kim’s elimination of substance dualism remains incomplete.


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NOTES This analogy comes from Kim, Philosophy of Mind, 6. Kim, Physicalism, or Something Near Enough, 22. 3 Ibid., 27, 29. 4 Ibid., 9. 5 Ibid., 85. 6 Ibid., 92. 7 Ibid., 84. 8 He concedes, “Whether or not the mental can be reduced to a physical base is an independent question that must be settled on its own merits. Those of us who believe in mental causation should hope for a successful reduction. But again this is only a wish; it doesn’t make reducibility real or reductionism true” (Kim, Physicalism, or Something Near Enough, 161). 9 This question brings up the problem of determinism for reductive physicalism. If all our mental activity strictly obeys physical laws, then free will and rationality appear to be threatened. This issue calls for greater treatment than can be provided here, but it nevertheless seems, in principle, to justify the substance dualist’s concern for keeping souls out of the physical realm. 10 Even my argument above using the first law of thermodynamics needs more explanation and detail in order to be considered conclusive. The goal was rather to introduce a kind of argument which would better suit Kim’s purposes. Other philosophers have offered arguments along these lines. 1

2

WORKS CITED Kim, Jaegwon. Philosophy of Mind. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press, 2006. Kim, Jaegwon. Physicalism, or Something Near Enough. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.


Rawls on Abortion: Adapting his Theory of Justice To the Controversy

Douglas Dreier

F

eminists often decry John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice for its neglect of gender issues. While Susan Moller Okin argues that Rawls’ “principles of justice can lead us to challenge fundamentally the gender system of our society,” the imperative word is “can.”1 Central to Rawls’ theory of justice is the equalizing veil of ignorance, which can support quite radical notions of gender equality and can be used, as I will show, to justify the legality of abortion. In a later essay, Rawls acknowledges that his veil of ignorance makes people ignorant of their sex;2 however, in the original work, if people behind the veil are unaware of their genders, it is in no way made explicit. When Rawls first details what knowledge people behind the veil are ignorant of, he states, “[N]o one knows his place in society, his class position or social status, nor does any one know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, strength, and the like.”3 If Rawls had intended gender to be among “the like” characteristics, his repeated and consistent usage of the male pronoun indicates otherwise. Despite Rawls’

Douglas Dreier is a native of Toledo, Ohio and will graduate from Cornell University in May 2010 with a B.A. in philosophy and minors in Inequality Studies and Law & Society. His philosophical interests lie primarily in ethics and political philosophy, with an emphasis on thorny, hot-button political issues. He is currently focusing on the nature of the free rider problem for childbearing and on what society has the right to demand of its citizens in the event of widespread underpopulation. After graduation, he plans on continuing his studies in law school.


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general neglect of issues central to gender relations, the principles and concepts Rawls utilizes to formulate his theory of justice can provide a much-needed reformulation of Justice Harry Blackmun’s pro-choice ruling in Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court’s opinion on Roe v. Wade, as delivered by Justice Blackmun, can be quickly torn asunder. The ruling arbitrarily divided the period of pregnancy into three trimesters and prohibited the states from illegalizing abortion in only the first two. Central to the decision was the “right of privacy … founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action,” which the Court tenuously claimed to be “broad enough” to include a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.4 Justice Blackmun also emphasized, perhaps to the point of exaggeration, the economic, psychological, and physical suffering bearing a fetus to term could impose upon a parent.5 In effect, the Court held the liberty of a pregnant mother in greater esteem than the potential life of a fetus. Justice Blackmun conceded, “If this suggestion of personhood [for the fetus] is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [Fourteenth] Amendment.”6 Citing the leniency with which states had historically treated abortion, the Court decided that the appellee had failed to prove the fetus’ personhood; however, this does not mean that the Court considered the question of personhood to be resolved. Indeed, the Court declared, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins.”7 These findings are not antithetical. It may be the case that life does begin at conception, yet the legal need to defend that life only begins at a later time. Justice Blackmun stressed the United States’ consistent record of differentiating between abortion and murder, which would be an arbitrary distinction if the Constitution viewed the fetus as an equal person. Until 1860, abortion “before quickening” was not a crime in Connecticut, and in 1828, New York ruled that aborting an “unquickened fetus” was a misdemeanor, while aborting a “quick fetus” was still only second-degree manslaughter.8 Even the specific Texas state law pertaining to the case failed to hold


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consistently that the fetus was a person.9 If a fetus were just as much a person as an adult, then in cases in which the mother’s life is not at stake (because otherwise self-defense could be argued), abortion and murder would deserve equal punishments, yet the widespread opinion among the American public then and now did not consider the two crimes equivalent. History has proven that the decision reached in Roe v. Wade was not convincing enough to dispel the controversy surrounding either the morality or the legality of abortion. In his dissent, Justice Rehnquist singled out three dubious points in particular: the debatable argument that the Court need not defend the life of a fetus because the laws of the past had often construed abortion as a lesser crime than murder,10 the arbitrariness in allowing states to illegalize abortions in the last trimester but not the first two,11 and the questionable assumption that the right to privacy applies to abortions.12 Indeed, pro-life advocates can find much worthy of denouncement in the ruling, including the matters brought up in Rehnquist’s dissent and also in Justice Blackmun’s hyperbolic description of how much suffering a pregnant woman undergoes.13 The philosophically deficient argument presented in Roe v. Wade must either be bolstered or entirely dismissed, and it is here that Rawls’ theory of justice can provide much-needed support. A quick summary of Rawls’ theory of justice is in order. The cornerstones of his theory are the two principles of justice: first, “[e]ach person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all,” and second, “[s]ocial and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both: (a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, consistent with the just savings principle, and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.”14 The first principle has priority over the second principle, meaning that “infringements of the basic equal liberties protected by the first principle cannot be justified … by greater social and economic advantages.”15 Were the right to procure an abortion a “basic liberty,” then the priority of the first principle over the second


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would immediately answer the question of its legality; however, Rawls does not provide such a straightforward answer to the conundrum, nor should he. He limits the basic liberties to a concise list, which includes “political liberty … and freedom of speech and assembly; liberty of conscience and freedom of thought; freedom of the person, which includes freedom from psychological oppression and physical assault … [and] the right to hold personal property and [the] freedom from arbitrary arrest and seizure.”16 While he leaves open the possibility of additional basic liberties, the right to procure an abortion does not seem concurrent with the scope of those rights on the list. In Rawls’ later book, Political Liberalism, he makes explicit that the list should not be significantly expanded because “[w]henever we enlarge the list of basic liberties we risk weakening the protection of the most essential ones.”17 Moreover, Rawls’ overwhelming silence on feminist issues provides even greater reason to think that abortion would not be on the list. Since the answer cannot be found in the basic liberties, we must return to the veil of ignorance. As previously mentioned, A Theory of Justice is somewhat reactionary in its treatment of gender, but Rawls’ later statement that a person’s sex is unknown behind the veil allows for the possibility that a person behind the veil could be a woman and could even be pregnant. In addition, people in this position “do not know their conceptions of the good or their special psychological propensities.”18 Rawls later clarifies this by stating that a person’s “particular religious, philosophical, or moral … doctrine with its associated conception of the good is not a reason … to propose, or to expect others to accept, a conception of justice that favors those of that persuasion.”19 Because this claim will prove essential in the argument for abortion, it is important that it be justified. Behind the veil, all persons seek to pursue that which is to their personal benefit; however, due to their ignorance of who they are and due to their unwillingness to gamble away their lives based on mere probabilities, they seek a society in which the worst off person is as well off as possible. Their decision behind the veil is thus unanimous. Were people permitted to be aware of their particu-


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lar conceptions of the good, this decision would not be unanimous, as people would seek to ensure the successful implementation of their individual conceptions. As Ronald Dworkin states in his essay on the subject, just as “[m]en who do not know to which class they belong cannot design institutions, consciously or unconsciously, to favor their own class[, m]en who have no idea of their own conception of the good cannot act to favor those who hold one ideal over those who hold another.”20 As difficult as it is to ignore one’s particular conception of the good, it is necessary in order to ensure impartiality—in order to ensure that people are not seeking their own interests at the expense of others. This is a rational precondition to the veil of ignorance. Anyone who admires the concept of the veil for allowing people to pursue their self-interest unselfishly cannot grant an exemption to special conceptions of the good. Any tenet held by people of conviction that is not purely factual would qualify as a conception of the good to be forgotten behind the veil. Admittedly, such a sentence is problematic. Many people claim not merely to possess a particular belief on when personhood begins, but rather to know when it does. It requires careful, unbiased scrutiny of the objective facts to determine what is belief and what is knowledge. In his analysis on Rawls, Thomas Nagel discusses the difficulty in determining when “an appeal to truth collapses into an appeal to belief:” Nagel explains that “some people might try to deny objective … scientific methods that most of us would consider as clear cases of impersonal verification, whereas others might claim objective status for certain theological arguments or forms of revelation.”21 Even still, the empirical difficulty in distinguishing between what is a matter of belief and what is a matter of knowledge is not reason enough to dismiss Rawls’ notion. Certainly some people can distinguish a belief from a fact, and that is all that is needed.22 Some would argue that it is a matter of fact when life begins, and perhaps that is true; however, what is not a matter of fact is when personhood begins, and personhood is what is essential. The central tenet of the pro-life defense is not simply that


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fetuses are alive—after all, mice are alive and few would argue that killing mice is prima facie immoral—but that the fetuses are living persons. Whether something is alive is verifiable, but whether something is a person is not, so the question must arise as to what makes something a person. Should we determine personhood by genetics? If that is the case, do people with Klinefelter’s syndrome, who therefore have an extra chromosome, meet the criterion for personhood? Perhaps to be more inclusive, we should define personhood by parentage, but if that is the definition and since the theory of evolution has shown that humans and chimpanzees have a common ancestor, should we not include chimpanzees as persons? Perhaps these biological definitions do not hold the answer. The most widely accepted view today is that a person is a “rational” entity who exhibits “consciousness,” yet this definition is also rife with problems.23 Do people in temporary comas qualify as rational persons? What about people in permanent vegetative states, or what about our ancestors billions of years ago? Again, the facts of evolution serve to muddle the definition. The entity that was the common ancestor of humans and rabbits, for instance, was not a rational being. Was Lucy, the Australopithecus afarensis, rational? What about Java Man, the Homo erectus? It is unlikely that rationality suddenly struck in the course of human evolution; rather, there was a spectrum of varying levels of rationality. Wherever the line is drawn would be arbitrary. Indeed, to choose any of the definitions would be arbitrary, and at its foundation, based on an unproven and unprovable belief pertaining to the nature of personhood. With the objectivity of personhood undermined, prolife advocates could argue instead that abortion is wrong because a fetus is a potential person, and as Eike-Henner Kluge has argued, “a potential person has the same moral status as an actual person;”24 however, this argument is even more apparently a matter of belief than was the former argument. This defense relies on an abstract claim about what is right—a claim with which reasonable people could rationally disagree. Pro-life advocates could then proceed to claim that none of morality is factual, and that the same reasoning used to sup-


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port skepticism of a fetus’s right to life applies to all moral claims. Should we be likewise skeptical of the right to life for all persons? This question returns us to Rawls’ first principle of justice. A just society prohibits the wanton murdering of persons because the freedom from physical assault is among the basic liberties. The findings in the previous two paragraphs may question why the basic liberties should be ensured. Here it is important to emphasize that Rawls is establishing a theory of justice, not a theory of morality per se. The protection of basic liberties is an outgrowth of Rawls’ “general conception of justice,” which states that “[a]ll social values—liberty and opportunity, income and wealth, and the social bases of self-respect—are to be distributed equally unless an unequal distribution of any, or all, of these values is to everyone’s advantage.”25 Rawls seeks to establish a theory of justice under which all persons could live and thrive with dignity. For this reason, the freedom from physical assault and the other basic liberties are ensured. Refraining from granting fetuses this freedom does not threaten the ability of persons within the society to achieve that dignity (remembering that whether fetuses are persons is a matter of belief to be set aside). Here we return to the veil of ignorance. People behind the veil must put aside their conceptions of the good, including their belief pertaining to abortion’s morality or immorality. In their ignorance, they must acknowledge three facts: one, they could possibly be pregnant; two, they could possibly be in a state in which bearing and raising a child would be exorbitantly taxing; and three, they might consider abortion to be immoral, but they might not. The decision they make must be one they could abide by in self-respect, which as Rawls states, “implies a confidence in one’s ability … to fulfill one’s intentions.”26 If Person A would choose to illegalize abortion, then were the veil lifted and were she to find herself pregnant, pro-choice, and desiring an abortion, would she be able to live a self-respectful and lawabiding life in such a society? The answer is clearly no. On the other hand, if Person B would choose to mandate—not just legalize—abortion, then were the veil lifted and she to find herself pregnant, pro-life, and desiring to bear the fetus, would she be


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able to live a self-respectful and law-abiding life in such a society? The answer here is also no. If, however, the society simply were to allow a person the choice to obtain an abortion, then Person A could obtain an abortion, while Person B could bear her child. Both could live in self-respect: both could follow their consciences. This same reasoning must apply to the doctors who deal most with the issue of abortion. Were Person C to decide, behind the veil, that abortion ought to be legal and that doctors in the pertinent field ought to be required to handle the procedure, only to discover that she in fact was a pro-life doctor, she could not live self-respectfully. She could not follow her conscience. Had Justice Blackmun utilized these concepts in issuing his opinion, the argument would have been much more philosophically sound. Such an argument would have been as follows: 1) honest, goodhearted people can sincerely disagree on the morality of abortion; 2) these people disagree on whether or not fetuses have achieved personhood; 3) the Constitution only secures the right to life for persons; 4) when there exists a legitimate disagreement on the morality of an issue, the Court should err on the side of liberty (citing the Fourteenth Amendment) in order to avoid imposing a particular conception of the good upon people of other convictions; 5) in an effort to err on the side of liberty, the Court would grant the impregnated the right to choose whether or not to undertake an abortion at any stage of the pregnancy; 6) moreover, for liberty’s sake, the Court would also grant doctors the right to refuse to partake in the abortion procedure. Of Justice Rehnquist’s three points of dissent, this Rawlsian defense of abortion successfully bypasses two—the historical treatment of abortion and the arbitrary trimester scheme— and offers a fuller and better explanation of the third—the assumption that the right to privacy applies to abortions. This defense also bypasses the potential argument from the amount of suffering a pregnancy causes. By not relying on an account of the history of abortion laws or on how much suffering pregnancy entails, this defense is sounder than that offered in Justice Blackmun’s ruling. While some might recoil at the idea of third-


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trimester abortions, the arbitrariness of the trimester scheme is too great to use it in formulating laws. People behind the veil of ignorance must put aside their personal conceptions of the good—in this case, whether or not they consider abortions in the third trimester to be immoral—when they are deciding on the laws of their society. The argument for third trimester abortions runs in parallel to that described earlier for abortions more generally. Here it is important to emphasize that the law would not mandate that pregnant women undergo abortions, nor that doctors with moral convictions against such procedures perform them. The Rawlsian explanation detailed in the prior paragraphs of why pregnant women ought to have the private choice to undergo an abortion is difficult to dismiss on philosophical grounds. The only way to refute the argument is by refuting Rawls’ veil of ignorance, and that cannot be done without dismissing the notion of selfless pursuit of self-interests and the entirety of Rawls’ theory of justice. While many philosophers have done just that, their alternative theories consistently seem to be of a worse nature. If Rawls’ theory is dismissed, a different theory must be accepted in order for societies to function, and the two leading alternatives both allow for practices widely and accurately considered unacceptable. A utilitarian theory of justice, under which a society perpetually seeks to maximize the good, fails to treat people as individuals with rights and freedoms worthy of respect. A libertarian theory of justice, such as that offered by Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia, institutes a callous social Darwinism, which does nothing to alleviate the suffering of the impoverished. Rawls’ theory of justice is certainly preferable to either of these theories, and the notion of the selfless pursuit of self-interest is preferable in its own right. Despite the fact that Rawls’ theory of justice outwardly seems silent on the issue of abortion, the theory offers, upon extended analysis, a clear argument in favor of legalizing abortion. Since any belief regarding the morality or immorality of abortion is purely that—a belief—and since particular conceptions of the good are to be disregarded behind the veil of ignorance and in


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light of the arguments put forth here, the only reasonable ruling would be to legalize abortion. A Rawlsian defense of abortion avoids the problems found in Justice Blackmun’s dubious ruling in Roe v. Wade and is thus much more difficult to refute. It is important to stress that this does not settle the question of abortion’s morality; rather, it settles only the question of abortion’s legality. A truly unselfish pursuit of one’s self-interests, as shown by Rawls’ veil of ignorance, would lead to a unanimous verdict proclaiming abortion to be legal; hence, the legality of abortion ought to be guaranteed.


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1. Okin, Justice, Gender, and the Family, 89. 2. Rawls, “Fairness to Goodness,” 537. 3. Rawls, A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition, 11, italics mine. 4. Blackmun, “Roe et al. v. Wade, District Attorney of Dallas County,” 36. 5. Ibid., 36: “The detriment that the State would impose … by denying this choice altogether is apparent. Specific and direct harm medically diagnosable … may be involved. Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it.” 6. Ibid., 38. 7. Ibid., 40. 8. Ibid., 31. 9. Ibid., 39: Justice Blackmun mentioned three ways in particular: first, the Texas law gave an exemption to “abortion[s] procured or attempted by medical advice for the purpose of saving the life of the mother”; second, the law did not consider a woman who had undergone an abortion as either “a principal or an accomplice”; and third, the penalty the law demanded for aborting a fetus was “significantly less” than that for murdering a person. 10. Rehnquist, “Mr. Justice Rehnquist, Dissenting,” 46: Justice Rehnquist argues that the laws historically enacted in the U.S. pertaining to abortions actually proved the reverse. “The fact that a majority of the States … have had restrictions on abortions for at least a century is a strong indication, it seems to me, that the asserted right to an abortion is not ‘so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental.’… [T]he very existence of the debate is evidence that the ‘right’ to an abortion is not so universally accepted as the appellant would have us believe.” 11. Ibid., 46: “The decision here to break pregnancy into three


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distinct terms and to outline the permissible restrictions the State may impose in each one … partakes more of judicial legislation than it does of a determination of the intent of the drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment.” 12. Ibid., 45: “I have difficulty in concluding, as the Court does, that the right of ‘privacy’ is involved in this case.… [Abortions are] not ‘private’ in the ordinary usage of that word. Nor is the ‘privacy’ that the Court finds here even a distant relative of the freedom from searches and seizures protected by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which the Court has referred to as embodying a right to privacy.” 13. Nathanson, Aborting America, 220. This is not one of the arguments present in Justice Rehnquist’s dissent, perhaps because it appears to belittle the real toil many women undergo in the course of pregnancy; nevertheless, it is worth considering. Nathanson presents a detailed argument for this point, claiming, “Pregnancy is not a sickness. Few pregnant women are bedridden and many, emotionally and physically, have never felt better.” 14. Rawls, A Theory of Justice, 266. 15. Ibid., 53-54. 16. Ibid., 53. 17. Rawls, Political Liberalism: Expanded Edition, 296. 18. Rawls, A Theory of Justice, 11. 19. Rawls, Political Liberalism, 24. 20. Dworkin, “The Original Position,” 50. 21. Nagel, “Moral Conflict and Political Legitimacy,” 235-36. 22. Ibid., 235: Nagel considers whether people can truly hold beliefs that they know might be false. While his argument poses several interesting questions, it is not of concern here. People could and do exist who are skeptical of everything that is not verifiable, and if the non-skeptics were unable to distinguish between belief and fact, it is to these people we could turn. 23. Hui, “Personhood and Bioethics: A Chinese Perspective,” 29. 24. Kluge, The Practice of Death, 17. (Cf. Ibid., 91: “A person is an entity … that is either presently aware in a manner characteristic of rational beings, or can become thus aware without any change


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in the constitutive nature of its composition.”) 25. Rawls, A Theory of Justice, 54. 26. Ibid., 386.

WORKS CITED Blackmun, Harry A. “Roe et al. v. Wade, District Attorney of Dallas County.” In Abortion: The Supreme Court Decisions 1965-2000, edited by Ian Shapiro, 2nd ed., 22-44. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2002. Dworkin, Ronald. “The Original Position.” In Reading Rawls: Critical Studies on Rawls’ ‘A Theory of Justice,’ edited by Norman Daniels, 16-53. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1989. Hui, Edwin C. “Personhood and Bioethics: A Chinese Perspective.” In Bioethics: Asian Perspectives—A Quest for Moral Diversity, edited by Renzong Qiu, 29-43. New York: Springer, 2003. Kluge, Eike-Henner W. The Practice of Death. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1975. Nagel, Thomas. “Moral Conflict and Political Legitimacy.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 16, no. 3 (1987): 215-40. Nathanson, Bernard. Aborting America. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979. Nozick, Robert. Anarchy, State, and Utopia. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1974. Okin, Susan Moller. Justice, Gender, and the Family. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1989.


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Rawls, John. “Fairness to Goodness.” The Philosophical Review 84, no. 4 (1975): 536-54. Rawls, John. Political Liberalism: Expanded Edition. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005. Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition, 6th ed. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999. Rehnquist, William. “Mr. Justice Rehnquist, Dissenting.” In Abortion: The Supreme Court Decisions 1965-2000, edited by Ian Shapiro, 2nd ed., 44-46. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2002.


Norm-Expressivism and the Frege-Geach Problem

Megan Blomfield I. INTRODUCTION

M

oral non-cognitivism1 is the metaethical view that denies that moral statements are truth-apt. According to this position, utterances such as “violence is wrong” and “kindness is good” do not express beliefs or possess truth-values; instead, they express certain non-cognitive attitudes similar to desires or intentions. Noncognitivism meets a serious challenge with what is known as the Frege-Geach problem. The essential difficulty is that even if it is possible to give a convincing account regarding how simple moral utterances like those above express certain non-cognitive attitudes, the non-cognitivist owes an explanation as to what those same moral sentences mean when they appear as embedded components in more complex sentences. For example, what is taking place when somebody claims that if violence is wrong, then it’s wrong to kill spiders? Furthermore, if moral statements have no truth-values, then how is it that they can apparently be

“Norm-Expressivism and the Frege-Geach Problem” was one of Megan Blomfield's final essays for her undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol, from which she graduated in July 2008. Since then she has been taking some time off to gather her thoughts, but has been offered a place at the University of Toronto where she plans to begin her MA in Philosophy later this year. Megan enjoys philosophy because it is such a varied field and her interests range from political philosophy to the philosophy of physics. However, since she tends to find herself writing about the philosophy of language even when she sets out to write a paper on ethics, it seems likely that this is where her studies will eventually lead her to specialize.


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included in valid logical arguments? In this essay I shall discuss one of the more recent attempts at solving the Frege-Geach problem: that of Allan Gibbard. Gibbard develops a form of non-cognitivism which he dubs ‘norm-expressivism.’ I shall explain what normexpressivism is, and how it is supposed to deal with the FregeGeach problem. I will then look at the objection that Gibbard fails to really explain what is wrong with accepting the premises of a valid moral argument while denying the conclusion. I agree with this criticism and conclude that Gibbard’s account, as it stands, doesn’t deal satisfactorily with the Frege-Geach problem. I will then briefly discuss whether Gibbard has the resources to adapt norm-expressivism in such a way that this problem might be fixed. II. MORAL NON-COGNITIVISM Non-cognitivism in ethics has taken various forms, from the emotivism of A.J. Ayer to Simon Blackburn’s quasi-realism. The main claim made in such views is that moral statements do not actually express propositions or predicate properties of the world, so they are not truth-apt. Furthermore, when a person makes a moral judgment he or she is not primarily expressing a belief—or any other type of cognitive psychological state—but is rather expressing some sort of non-cognitive attitude, more like an emotion or a desire. To give an example: according to non-cognitivism, when I say “violence is wrong” I am not predicating violence with the property of wrongness, and I am not expressing the belief that violence is wrong. Rather, I am expressing some sort of noncognitive attitude which I hold towards violence—something like disapproval, perhaps. It is important to note also that I am not asserting that I hold this non-cognitive attitude towards violence. My utterance expresses the attitude itself; it does not assert the proposition or fact that I have that attitude. Noncognitive attitudes like feelings of approval and disapproval are not the sort of things that can be true or false; hence, moral statements lack truth-values.


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One of the main benefits of non-cognitivism is that it is more metaphysically parsimonious and less epistemically problematic than its realist metaethical rivals. By denying that moral statements are truth-apt, we can avoid the need for a distinct realm of moral facts, knowledge of which our ethical investigation is somehow supposed to strive towards. Adopting noncognitivism in order to obtain such benefits, however, will only be worthwhile if it is still possible to make sense of our moral practice. The Frege-Geach problem suggests that the noncognitivist might not actually be able to do so. III. THE FREGE-GEACH PROBLEM The Frege-Geach,2 or embedding, problem is seen by many as “the rock on which expressive theories founder.”3 The basic difficulty is this: even if the non-cognitivist can make a convincing case that simple predicative moral utterances, such as “violence is wrong,” are expressions of non-cognitive attitudes (let’s say that “violence is wrong” expresses a disapproving attitude towards violence), an explanation still remains to be given of the meaning and function of moral sentences which appear in embedded contexts. To return to the example above, how does “violence is wrong” function when it appears as an embedded component of this more complex sentence: “if violence is wrong, then it’s wrong to kill spiders?” Someone who makes this utterance does not say that violence is wrong, so it simply isn’t plausible to say that he or she is expressing the same disapproving attitude towards violence. Someone could make such a claim while holding a thoroughly approving attitude towards violence, or not holding any non-cognitive attitude towards violence at all. Clearly the non-cognitivist has to give a more detailed explanation of the semantics of moral sentences. One obvious solution would be to posit an ambiguity of meaning between simple moral sentences and those that appear as unasserted components of more complex sentences. However, this option leads to further difficulties which make it unacceptable. Consider the following argument:


Norm-Expressivism P1 P2 C1

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If violence is wrong, then it’s wrong to kill spiders. Violence is wrong. It’s wrong to kill spiders.

This argument is intuitively valid, but if ‘violence is wrong’ had a different meaning in P1 and P2, then somebody reasoning thusly would be guilty of equivocation. C1 only follows from the premises if “violence is wrong” has the same meaning in each. Geach objects that such arguments cannot contain “a fallacy of equivocation” because they are “in fact clearly valid.”4 What the argument actually illustrates is the way that “a proposition may occur in discourse now asserted, now unasserted, and yet be recognisably the same proposition.”5 This is what Geach terms “the Frege point.” It offers a “simple and decisive proof” that the non-cognitivist cannot postulate an ambiguity of meaning between simple and embedded moral expressions.6 Furthermore, even if the non-cognitivist could give a uniform account of the semantics of moral sentences, there is still more to explain regarding the validity of moral modus ponens. Conventionally, an argument is said to be valid if and only if the truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusion. How, then, can non-cognitivists explain the validity of the above argument when, according to their view, at least P2 and C1 are certain to lack truth values? The Frege-Geach problem threatens to be disastrous for the non-cognitivist. Our ability to engage in moral reasoning and debate depends on our ability to make sense of complex moral sentences and the inferences we can draw from our moral judgments. The non-cognitivist must provide a plausible account of the semantics of moral sentences in both simple and embedded contexts that is able to preserve the inferences of intuitively valid moral arguments. In what follows, I will be discussing whether Gibbard is able to achieve this with his normexpressivism.


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IV. NORM-EXPRESSIVISM AND RATIONALITY Gibbard presents his norm-expressivist proposal in Wise Choices, Apt Feelings. Rationality takes center stage in his discussion, which is first and foremost an account of what we are doing when we judge certain things to be rational or irrational. The way Gibbard sees it, to engage in normative inquiry—“to reason about how to live”—is essentially to inquire as to “what kind of life it is rational to live.”7 Gibbard argues that normative judgments—judgments about what it is rational to do, think, or feel—do not predicate certain thoughts or actions with the property of ‘being rational,’ and they do not express beliefs about certain normative facts which hold in the world. To utter a normative judgment is not to state a matter of fact, but rather to express a “state of mind.”8 The judgment that something is rational is non-cognitive, and as a result it is not apt for truth or falsity. In more detail, Gibbard claims that “to call something rational is to express one’s acceptance of a system of norms that permits it,”9 a norm being “a possible rule or prescription, expressible by an imperative.”10 For example, my judgment that it is rational to add boiling water before milk when making a cup of tea expresses my acceptance of norms—rules or prescriptions—that permit, in a tea-making situation, adding boiling water before milk. Again it is important to note that in uttering a normative judgment you do not say that you are in a certain state of mind, or say that you accept a certain system of norms; you simply express your acceptance or state of mind itself. Actually being in that state of mind, then, “constitutes not speaking truly, but being sincere.”11 A system of norms is “the end result of the ways the various general normative principles a person accepts combine, weigh against each other, and override one another.”12 Gibbard characterizes a system of norms, N, as a group of predicates Nforbidden, N-required and N-optional, where N-x is to be read ‘x according to system of norms N.’13 These predicates are descriptive rather than normative—whether or not something is forbidden, required or optional according to a given system of norms is


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a matter of fact. Systems of norms “apply to alternatives of some kind;” they apply to alternative courses of action, for example.14 A given system, N, is complete if, for every possible occasion, every available alternative is either N-forbidden, N-required or Noptional. N is consistent if no more than one of these predicates is applicable to any alternative.15 According to a complete and consistent set of norms, then, the alternative which is the act of killing spiders will be at least one of required, forbidden or optional (and no more than one of these things). These basic predicates can be used to construct others; in particular, N-permitted means “either N-optional or N-required.”16 V. NORM-EXPRESSIVISM AND MORALITY Gibbard’s analysis extends to morality because he thinks that moral norms form a subset of the norms of rationality. Gibbard thinks that moral judgments do not express feeling—as the emotivist might claim—but rather judgments of “what moral feelings it is rational to have.”17 The peculiarly moral sentiments that Gibbard has in mind are feelings of guilt and anger. Put simply, Gibbard claims that “what a person does is morally wrong if and only if it is rational for him to feel guilty for having done it and for others to be angry at him for having done it.”18 So, for example, if I kill a spider, my actions are morally wrong if and only if it is rational for me to feel guilty about doing so, and for others to feel angry at me for doing so. Moral norms “are thus explained in terms of norms for guilt and resentment.”19 Since judgments concerning what feelings it is rational to have are non-cognitive according to Gibbard, this provides a non-cognitive analysis of moral judgments as well. To judge that it is rational for me to feel guilty about killing spiders, for example, is to express a mental state—the mental state that is acceptance of a system of norms that permits me to feel guilty for killing spiders. This, to an “approximation,” is Gibbard’s normexpressivistic analysis. In order to handle the Frege-Geach problem, however, he thinks that a “substantial transformation” is in


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order.20 It is this transformation that I shall turn to next. VI. GIBBARD’S SOLUTION TO THE FREGE-GEACH PROBLEM In order to tackle the Frege-Geach problem, Gibbard employs possible worlds semantics to “develop a formal representation of the ‘normative content’ expressed by normative statements.”21 Gibbard starts by defining “a completely opinionated credal-normative state.”22 He does this by asking us to imagine a goddess “who is entirely coherent and completely opinionated both normatively and factually.” In other words, there is a complete and consistent way she thinks the world to be, w. Furthermore she accepts a complete and consistent system of norms, n. W and n then constitute the “completely opinionated credalnormative state,” which Gibbard also terms a “factual-normative world <w, n>.” A factual-normative world is essentially the familiar notion of a possible world,23 combined with a complete and consistent set of norms. The factual circumstances surrounding every alternative in a given factual-normative world are completely determinate. Because n is complete and consistent, each of these alternatives is one of n-required, n-forbidden or n-optional (and no more than one of these things). Given this, and given that which alternatives are permitted or forbidden by any system of norms is a matter of fact, “any particular normative judgment holds or not, as a matter of logic, in the factual-normative world <w, n>.”24 In other words, w and n “entail a normative judgment for every occasion.” In reality, however, nobody is like such a goddess. Gibbard therefore goes on to define a way of representing what mere mortals like ourselves accept factually and normatively. One can use possible worlds semantics to represent the content of factual propositions by associating a proposition with the set of possible worlds in which it is true. Gibbard suggests, analogously, that a given normative statement, S, can be represented by the set of all factual-normative worlds for which it holds.25 To see whether S holds in a given factual-normative


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world, first the normative predicates in the sentence are replaced by their n-corresponding descriptive predicates. ‘Rational,’ for example, gets replaced by ‘n-permitted,’ and ‘irrational’ gets replaced by ‘n-forbidden.’ If the resulting sentence is true in w— which will be a matter of fact, since n-predicates are purely descriptive—then the original sentence is said to hold in <w, n>. Gibbard denotes the set of factual-normative worlds in which a given normative statement, S, holds: OS.26 Now that we’re able to say what it is for a normative statement to hold in a factual-normative world, Gibbard thinks that if we simply add the dictum “the content of a normative statement is the set of factual-normative worlds for which the statement holds” then we have a way of solving the embedding problem.27 I’ll return to my example to make this clearer. The statement “if violence is wrong, then it’s wrong to kill spiders,” is firstly to be read: T: “if it is rational to feel angry at someone who commits acts of violence, then it is rational to feel angry at someone who kills spiders.”28 This is translated into the statement: Tn: “if it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who commits acts of violence, then it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who kills spiders.” T holds in a given factual-normative world <w, n> if and only if Tn is true in w. Since sentences containing n-predicates are descriptive rather than expressive, the grammatical complexity of Tn causes no problems for ascertaining whether or not Tn holds in a given factual-normative world. Whether or not it is, say, npermitted to feel angry at someone who kills spiders in a given world will simply be a matter of fact. The content of T is then represented by the set of all factual-normative worlds in which it holds, a set that is denoted OT. The content of simple and complex normative utterances


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alike can therefore be represented using this formalism, even when the statements concerned have unasserted moral sentences as components. Gibbardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s norm-expressivistic analysis thus provides a uniform account of the semantics of moral sentences in both simple and embedded contexts. This formalism also gives Gibbard a way of defining the logical relations that hold among normative statements. Factualnormative world semantics functions analogously to possible worlds semantics. For example, the content of P is said to entail the content of Q29 â&#x20AC;&#x153;if and only if Q holds in all the factualnormative worlds in which P holds.â&#x20AC;?30 This will be the case if the set of <w, n> that represents P is a subset of the set of <w, n> that represents Q. To return to my original example of moral modus ponens, given its translation: P1n It is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who commits acts of violence. P2n If it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who commits acts of violence, then it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who kills spiders. The conjunction of two normative statements is represented by the intersection of the sets that represent their respective contents. The sets representing the contents of the premises are: OP1 = {<w, n>| in w it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who commits acts of violence} OP2 = {<w, n>| in w, if it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who commits acts of violence, then it is npermitted to feel angry at someone who kills spiders} Using OP to represent the conjunction (so the intersection) of OP1 and OP2 we get: OP = {<w, n>| in w it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who commits acts of violence and it is n-permitted to


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feel angry at someone who kills spiders} So OP represents the content of the premises of this argument. The conclusion is translated: C1n It is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who kills spiders. Let OC represent the content of the conclusion, where: OC = {<w, n>| in w it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who kills spiders} OC clearly contains OP as a subset. This means that every factualnormative world in which the premises hold is a factualnormative world in which the conclusion holds, and the content of the premises therefore entails the content of the conclusion. According to Gibbard, herein lies the validity of the original moral argument. VII. DOES GIBBARD’S SOLUTION WORK? Some have questioned whether Gibbard’s account really succeeds in explaining why someone who accepts P1 and P2 would be committed to accepting C1. Blackburn objects that Gibbard fails to tell us what we can actually say “to someone who refuses to hear the wrong combination as ruled out by logic.”31 The norms accepted by mere mortals aren’t complete and aren’t necessarily consistent. Imagine that I accept a system of norms which forbids violence, and which also says that if violence is forbidden, then killing spiders is forbidden. Why is there a problem if the norms that I accept do not also forbid killing spiders? The essential problem, Sinnott-Armstrong agrees, is that “it is not enough simply to define validity so that modus ponens comes out valid. Valid arguments have force because there is something wrong with asserting the premises and denying the conclusion of a valid argument.”32 The question that remains to be answered, then, is what is wrong with accepting P1 and P2


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but denying C1 on the norm-expressivistic analysis. According to Gibbard’s formalism, “normative statements rule each other out if their representations have no factualnormative world in common.” A normative statement is then said to be “inconsistent” with the “various combinations of factual possibilities with normative principles” that it rules out.33 So, since every factual-normative world in which P1 and P2 hold is a factual-normative world in which C1 holds, accepting these premises rules out all factual-normative worlds in which the conclusion does not hold. In other words, accepting the premises of this argument is inconsistent with denying the conclusion: somebody who holds P1 and P2 but denies C1 accepts inconsistent normative statements. The problem now, however, is that “we still need to ask: what’s wrong with inconsistency?”34 For a realist it is easy to explain what’s wrong with accepting inconsistent moral statements: moral inquiry aims at truth, “and if our normative judgments are inconsistent, they cannot all be true.”35 What the non-cognitivists need to do is come up with an equally good explanation as to what is wrong with inconsistent normative or moral judgments according to their account. VIII. GIBBARD’S INITIAL ATTEMPT In Wise Choices, Gibbard gives a pragmatic explanation of the value of consistency. Being inconsistent and failing to resolve our preferences “lays us open to a special kind of selffrustration.”36 Since the norms you accept will “involve tendencies to action,” accepting inconsistent norms might mean that your actions lead to results that you find “unacceptable.” Furthermore, the norms you accept are of vital importance in your normative reasoning and engagement in beneficial normative debate. If you make inconsistent normative judgments then you risk “opting out of normative discussion altogether, or discovering that [you] can no longer get others to take [your] claims seriously.”37 Inconsistency, then, can be costly in various ways, and this provides motivation for trying to avoid accepting inconsis-


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tent normative statements. However, as Sinnott-Armstrong argues against Gibbard, inconsistency doesn’t necessarily bring an end to beneficial normative debate.38 Furthermore, one can easily think of many instances in which there seem to be no practical benefits at all to be derived from normative consistency. For example, I doubt I will incur any practical costs by being thoroughly inconsistent in my thoughts about what would be morally required of me if I found myself one of the only two survivors of a nuclear holocaust. The problem for Gibbard’s initial account is that “the pragmatic costs either do not arise or are overridden in many cases of inconsistency. But there is still something wrong with the inconsistent normative beliefs in these cases.”39 Gibbard simply fails to explain what is special about logically valid normative and moral arguments. It seems that any sort of attempt to explain logical commitment in terms of practical commitment is bound to fail. Logical necessity is just stronger than practical necessity—it’s the strongest kind of necessity there is. The FregeGeach problem is not yet solved. IX. GIBBARD’S SECOND ATTEMPT In response to criticism along these lines, Gibbard gives a further explanation of what’s wrong with normative inconsistency.40 In order to make his account plausible, Gibbard wants the problem with accepting inconsistent normative statements to be analogous to the problem with accepting inconsistent factual statements. However, since the norm-expressivist cannot say that the problem with accepting an inconsistent set of normative statements is that one of them will be false, Gibbard instead suggests that the problem with both factual and normative inconsistency is that it rules out “all full possibilities.”41 According to Gibbard’s formalism, a set of logically inconsistent factual statements is represented by the empty set since they cannot simultaneously hold in any factual-normative worlds.42 The same goes for a set of inconsistent normative statements. So far we have an analogy between inconsistent statements of both kinds. The next step, however, is to explain what exactly is


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wrong with ruling out all full possibilities. For purely factual statements, ruling out all full possibilities means ruling out all possible worlds—or “all full ways the world might be.”43 Gibbard claims that this is the “general defect” of “jointly inconsistent factual statements.” If you rule out all possible worlds, however, then you also rule out the actual world, and this leads to the “special defect” of jointly inconsistent factual statements: they cannot all be true. Can we say something analogous about the problem with ruling out all “full possibilities” in the purely normative realm? For purely normative statements, ruling out all full possibilities means ruling out all complete and consistent sets of norms, where such a set of norms can be viewed as an “ideally detailed contingency plan, a plan for what to do (or think or feel) in every imaginable circumstance.” The “general defect” of jointly inconsistent normative statements, then, is that they rule out all “full contingency [plans].”44 The problem now, as Wedgwood points out, is that we can still ask: “what is wrong with that?”45 If Gibbard is to stick to the analogy between factual and normative statements, then it seems as though the problem would be that if you rule out all full contingency plans, then you also rule out the correct full contingency plan—or the complete and consistent set of norms that actually holds. But there isn’t a ‘correct’ system of norms—if there were, then our moral statements would be truth-apt after all.46 This cannot, therefore, be the problem with ruling out all full possibilities in the purely normative realm. So what is wrong with ruling out all full contingency plans? Gibbard claims that “such an ideal plan is the full practical import of a complete system of norms.”47 If you accept inconsistent normative statements, there is no way of adding to your present normative commitments that would eventually result in your having “a normative judgment for every occasion.”48 It seems again, then, that the problem with accepting inconsistent normative statements only rests on pragmatic considerations. Furthermore, I am not convinced that the fact that normative inconsistency rules out all ideal contingency plans is actually


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something that would provide much motivation for avoiding it. Such a plan is an unattainable ideal anyway (except for goddesses) and one which mere mortals simply do not need—we do not need to have a normative judgment for every possible occasion, no matter how far-fetched and unlikely. Gibbard still only provides an account of why accepting inconsistent normative statements is practically problematic, not why it is logically problematic. He fails to address the problem that “logic is one thing, pragmatic incoherence … another,”49 and norm-expressivism is therefore unable to preserve all the inferences of logically valid moral arguments. X. DOES GIBBARD HAVE THE RESOURCES TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM? One thing that Gibbard’s formalism does succeed in doing is providing a way of representing the content of normative statements according to which, for example, the content of the statement “violence is forbidden” is inconsistent with the content of the statement “violence is not forbidden” (because their representations have no factual-normative world in common). I agree with Blackburn that what Gibbard now needs is “a more basic story about the states of mind expressed that makes it plain how they can be candidates for opposition and denial, and thence … why we can naturally and justifiably invent pieces of content—p and ¬p respectively—as the focus for those oppositions.”50 Essentially, the states of mind expressed by normative statements are “the only resource that expressivists have to appeal to” in their explanation of logical validity.51 What we need is a plausible explanation of why the state of mind expressed by “violence is forbidden” is opposed to, or inconsistent with, the state of mind expressed by “violence is not forbidden.” The reason why such an explanation would be useful is that Gibbard might then be able to account for the logical relations that hold between normative statements by claiming that in both the factual and the normative realm “two sentences are inconsistent just in case the mental states that they express are.”52 As Gibbard’s account stands, even though the content of


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“violence is forbidden” is inconsistent with the content of “violence is not forbidden,” it just isn’t clear why the states of mind involved in judging either of these to hold should also be inconsistent. It isn’t clear why the state of mind that you’re in when you accept a system of norms according to which p is inconsistent with the state of mind that you’re in when you accept a system of norms according to which ¬p. The difficulty is that some attitudes preserve the inconsistency of their contents, and others do not. The belief that p is inconsistent with the belief that ¬p, Zangwill claims, “because of the contradiction between their contents.”53 Wishing that p and wishing that ¬p, on the other hand, is not inconsistent even though the contents of these wishes are.54 Believing is, whereas wishing is not, an example of what Schroeder terms an “inconsistency-transmitting attitude.” According to Schroeder’s definition, “an attitude A is inconsistency-transmitting just in case two instances of A are inconsistent in case their contents are inconsistent.”55 The problem for Gibbard, then, is that there isn’t sufficient reason to suppose that the attitude involved in accepting a system of norms is inconsistency-transmitting. There is hope for the norm-expressivist, however. Schroeder suggests that one good non-cognitive candidate for being an inconsistencytransmitting attitude is intention.56 What Gibbard might be able to do, then, is adapt norm-expressivism so that the state of mind involved in accepting a system of norms is more like the state of mind involved in having an intention, or some other noncognitive attitude which plausibly preserves the inconsistency of its contents. It is possible that such an adapted version of normexpressivism would be able to solve the Frege-Geach problem. XI. CONCLUSION Gibbard’s attempt at solving the Frege-Geach problem, although it succeeds in providing a uniform representation of the content of simple and complex normative statements, is unable to capture what is special about logical validity. I have argued that both of Gibbard’s attempts to explain what’s wrong with accept-


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ing the premises but denying the conclusion of a logically valid moral argument fail. Gibbardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s accounts rely on the pragmatic need for consistency, and the demand for logical consistency is stronger. I have suggested that it may nevertheless be possible to adapt norm-expressivism to deal with this problem. Gibbardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s formalism provides a way of representing the relations which hold between the contents of normative statements. What he needs now is an explanation of why the states of mind involved in making normative judgments with inconsistent contents are themselves inconsistent. If he can do this, then he might be able to give a plausible account of logical inconsistency in both the factual and the normative realm by arguing that statements are logically inconsistent when the mental states that they express are logically inconsistent. In other words, what would be wrong with accepting the premises but denying the conclusion of a moral argument would be that the states of mind involved in doing these two things are actually inconsistent with each other.


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Also commonly termed ‘expressivism.’ So named because it was first posed as a problem for the noncognitivist by Geach, who accredited the insight to Frege (Geach, “Assertion,” 449). 3 Blackburn, “Wise Feelings, Apt Reading,” 349. 4 Geach, “Ascriptivism,” 223. 5 Geach, “Assertion,” 449. 6 Blackburn, Spreading the Word, 190. 7 Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, 4. 8 Ibid., 8. 9 Gibbard, “Précis of Wise Choices, Apt Feelings,” 943. 10 Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, 46. 11 Ibid., 84. 12 Ibid., 95. 13 Ibid., 87. 14 Ibid., 87. 15 Ibid., 88. 16 Ibid., 87. 17 Ibid., 6. 18 Ibid., 42. Gibbard actually refines this analysis to allow for extenuating circumstances involving diminished responsibility (ibid., 45), but the more basic proposal will suffice for this discussion. 19 Ibid., 47. 20 Ibid., 92. 21 Ibid., 94. 22 Ibid., 95. 23 Gibbard intends possible worlds to be characterized according to Stalnaker’s conception (Ibid., 95 fn.1). Stalnaker takes possible worlds to be irreducible abstract entities. These entities can be viewed as uninstantiated possible states of the world, or rather “ways things might have been” (Stalnaker, “Possible Worlds,” 68). 24 Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, 95. 25 Ibid., 96. 1

2


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Ibid., 96-7. Ibid., 97. 28 Strictly, of course, this should also mention the rationality of feelings of guilt, but this approximation will do here for the sake of brevity. 29 It doesn’t matter if P and Q are normative or descriptive statements. Either can be represented using Gibbard’s apparatus (a descriptive statement contains no normative predicates which need to be replaced with n-corresponding descriptive predicates, so it simply holds in all factual-normative worlds in which it is true in w). 30 Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, 101. 31 Blackburn, “Gibbard on Normative Logic,” 64. 32 Sinnott-Armstrong, “Some Problems for Gibbard’s NormExpressivism,” 301, my italics. 33 Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, 98-9. 34 Sinnott-Armstrong, “Some Problems for Gibbard’s NormExpressivism,” 301. 35 Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, 287. 36 Ibid., 289. 37 Ibid., 290. 38 Sinnott-Armstrong, “Some Problems for Gibbard’s NormExpressivism,” 301. 39 Ibid., 302. 40 Gibbard, “Reply to Blackburn, Carson, Hill and Railton,” 973. 41 Ibid., 974. 42 When considering purely factual statements it is only the factual component of a factual-normative world that is relevant: the system of norms effectively drops out, leaving us with a possible world. 43 Gibbard, “Reply to Blackburn, Carson, Hill and Railton,” 973. 44 Ibid., 973. 45 Wedgewood, “Non-cognitivism, Truth and Logic,” 85, my italics. 46 Wedgewood also points to this danger of pressing the analogy between factual and normative statements (ibid., 87-88). 47 Gibbard, “Reply to Blackburn, Carson, Hill and Railton,” 973. 26

27


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Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, 95. van Roojen, “Expressivism and Irrationality,” 335. 50 Blackburn, “Gibbard on Normative Logic,” 65. 51 Schroeder, Being For: Evaluating the Semantic Program of Expressivism, 37. 52 Ibid., 42. 53 Zangwill, “Moral Modus Ponens,” 182. 54 Blackburn, “Attitudes and Contents,” 509. 55 Schroeder, Being For: Evaluating the Semantic Program of Expressivism, 41. 56 Ibid., 41. 48

49

WORKS CITED Blackburn, Simon. “Attitudes and Contents.” Ethics 98, no. 3 (1988): 501-517. Blackburn, Simon. “Gibbard on Normative Logic.” Philosophical Issues 4, “Naturalism and Normativity” (1993): 60-66. Blackburn, Simon. Spreading the Word. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984. Blackburn, Simon. “Wise Feelings, Apt Reading.” Ethics 102, no. 2 (1992): 342-356. Geach, P.T. “Ascriptivism.” Philosophical Review 69, no. 2 (1960): 221-225. Geach, P.T. “Assertion.” Philosophical Review 74, no. 4 (1965): 449 -465. Gibbard, Allan. “Précis of Wise Choices, Apt Feelings.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52, no. 4 (1992): 943-945. Gibbard, Allan. “Reply to Blackburn, Carson, Hill and Railton.”


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Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52, no. 4 (1992): 969-980. Gibbard, Allan. Wise Choices, Apt Feelings. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990. van Roojen, Mark. “Expressivism and Irrationality.” The Philosophical Review 105, no. 3 (1996): 311-335. Schroeder, Mark. Being For: Evaluating the Semantic Program of Expressivism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. http://www-rcf.usc.edu/~maschroe/research/ schroeder%20being%20for.pdf Used with permission from author. Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter. “Some Problems for Gibbard’s Norm-expressivism.” Philosophical Studies 69 (1993): 297313. Stalnaker, Robert C. “Possible Worlds.” Nous 10, no.1. (1976): 65 -75. Wedgewood, Ralph. “Non-cognitivism, Truth and Logic.” Philosophical Studies 86 (1997): 73-91. Zangwill, Nick. (1992): “Moral Modus Ponens”, in Ratio (New Series), Vol.5, No.2. pp.177-193.


Episteme Denison University’s Undergraduate Journal of Philosophy announces the scheduled publication of Volume XXI, May 2010

CALL FOR PAPERS Episteme is a student-run journal that aims to recognize and encourage excellence in undergraduate philosophy by providing examples of some of the best work currently being done in undergraduate philosophy programs. Episteme is published under the auspices of Denison University’s Department of Philosophy. Episteme will consider papers written by undergraduate students in any area of philosophy. Papers are evaluated according to the following criteria: quality of research, depth of philosophic inquiry, creativity, original insight and clarity. Submissions to be considered for the twenty-first volume (May 2010) should adhere to the following stipulations: 1. Be a maximum of 5,000 words. 2. Combine research and original insight. 3. Include a cover sheet that provides the following information: author’s name, mailing address (current and permanent), email address, telephone number, college or university name, title of submission and word count. 4. Include a works cited page in the Chicago Manual of Style format. Use endnotes rather than footnotes. 5. To allow for a blind review process, the author’s name should not appear on the submission itself. 6. Submissions should be sent electronically, formatted for Microsoft Word. Please send papers and cover sheets to episteme@denison.edu. Rolling submissions accepted. Submissions to be considered for May 2010 publication must be received by November 15, 2009. Questions should be submitted to The Editors (episteme@denison.edu)


Vol. XX, May 2009  

Denison's Undergraduate Philosophy Journal

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