Frontiers of Philosophy in China

ISSN 1673-3436

ISSN 1673-355X(Online)

CN 11-5743/B

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Acting in Ignorance
Jonathan DANCY
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (3): 345-357.

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This paper considers and rejects the arguments that have been given in favour of the view that one can only act for the reason that p if one knows that p. The paper contrasts it with the view I hold, which is that one can act for the reason that p even if it is not the case that p.

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Acting for Reasons: Reply to Dancy
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (3): 358-368.

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This paper argues that we need to distinguish between two different ideas of a reason: first, the idea of a premise or assumption, from which a person’s action or deliberation can proceed; second, the idea of a fact by which a person can be guided, when he modifies his thought or behaviour in some way. It argues further that if we have the first idea in mind, one can act for the reason that p regardless of whether it is the case that p, and regardless of whether one believes that p. But if we have the second idea in mind, one cannot act for the reason that p unless one knows that p. The last part of the paper briefly indicates how the second idea of a reason can contribute to a larger argument, showing that it is better to conceive of knowledge as a kind of ability than as a kind of belief.

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Thomas Reid on Active Power and Free Agency
XU Xiangdong
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (3): 369-389.

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The paper argues that it is a mistake to interpret Thomas Reid as holding a libertarian notion of freedom, and to make use of Reid to argue in support of a libertarian position. More precisely, this paper shows that Reid’s theory of agent-causation may not be what these philosophers take it to be, once such crucial notions as agent-causation and active power in Reid’s theory of free agency have been fully explicated. Reid is more committed to accepting the view of freedom as rational self-control over the determination of the will than a contracausal view of freedom.

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Agency, Properties and Causation
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (3): 390-401.

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The paper argues against the very commonly held view that whenever a substance may be said to be the cause of something, a fuller and metaphysically more accurate understanding of the situation can always be obtained by looking to the properties in virtue of which that substance was able to bring about the effect in question. Paul Humphreys’ argument that when a substance is said to have produced an effect, it always turns out to be an aspect or property of that substance which brought about the effect in question is examined and criticized; it is argued that it is based on an illegitimate application of Mill’s Methods of Difference and Agreement to the case. Mill’s methods, it is suggested, are methods of empirical, not of ontological enquiry. The paper then turns to examine an argument by Mele which appears to depend on a structurally rather similar assumption that if there is nothing about a subject which could explain why she does one thing rather than another, it cannot really be up to that subject which thing occurs. It is suggested that, too, the inference is faulty, and that once it is rejected, one common objection to libertarianism—the argument from luck—might be more readily met.

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Intralevel Mental Causation
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (3): 402-425.

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This paper identifies and critiques a theory of mental causation defended by some proponents of nonredutive physicalism that I call “intralevelism.” Intralevelist theories differ in their details. On all versions, the causal outcome of the manifestation of physical properties is physical and the causal outcome of the manifestation of mental properties is mental. Thus, mental causation on this view is intralevel mental to mental causation. This characterization of mental causation as intralevel is taken to insulate nonreductive physicalism from some objections to nonreductive physicalism, including versions of the exclusion argument. This paper examines some features of three recent versions of intralevelism defended by John Gibbons, Markus Schlosser, and Amie Thomasson. This paper shows that the distinctive problems faced by these three representative versions of intralevelism suggest that the intralevelist strategy does not provide a viable solution to the exclusion problem.

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Knowing That, Knowing How, and Knowing to Do
TANG Refeng
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (3): 426-442.

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Ryle’s distinction between knowing that and knowing how has recently been challenged. The paper first briefly defends the distinction and then proceeds to address the question of classifying moral knowledge. Moral knowledge is special in that it is practical, that is, it is essentially a motive. Hence the way we understand moral knowledge crucially depends on the way we understand motivation. The Humean theory of motivation is wrong in saying that reason cannot be a motive, but right in saying that desire is essential for motivating us. The right response to the Humean theory of motivation is to see that moral knowledge is desire-related rationality or thought-related desire. Moral knowledge is neither knowing that nor knowing how but rather a third species of knowledge which we may call “knowing to do.” Knowing to do is to be rationally disposed to do the right thing. This understanding of moral knowledge is exactly what we can learn from Aristotle’s ethics.

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Disjunctivism and Skepticism
WANG Huaping
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (3): 443-464.

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Disjunctivism is the view that perceptual experience is either constituted by fact in the world or mere appearance. This view is said to be able to guarantee our cognitive contact with the world, and thus remove a crucial “prop” upon which skepticism depends. This paper has two aims. First, it aims to show that disjunctivism is a solution to Cartesian skepticism. Cartesian skepticism is an epistemological thesis, not an ontological one. Therefore, if there is an external world, we may well undergo a veridical experience, and thus we can take advantage of disjunctivism to adopt an anti-evidential-skepticism strategy to counter Cartesian skepticism. Second, this paper argues that disjunctivism fails to solve Pyrrhonian skepticism. To counter Pyrrhonian skepticism, one has to give reasons both for his belief and for his believing. But disjunctivism can only account the former, that is, the reason for the content of perceptual belief. Given that one’s experience in good case and bad case is subjectively indistinguishable, one cannot just use his experience to justify his believing. This shows that disjunctivism cannot meet the requirement to provide an adequate account for reflective knowledge.

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What Does Fodor’s “Anti-Darwinism” Mean to Natural Theology?
XU Yingjin
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (3): 465-479.

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In the current dialogue of “science and religion,” it is widely assumed that the thoughts of Darwinists and that of atheists overlap. However, Jerry Fodor, a full-fledged atheist, recently announced a war against Darwinism with his atheistic campaign. Prima facie, this “civil war” might offer a chance for theists: If Fodor is right, Darwinistic atheism will lose the cover of Darwinism and become less tenable. This paper provides a more pessimistic evaluation of the situation by explaining the following: Fodor’s criticism of adaptationism (as the backbone of Darwinism), viz., his refutation of any counterfactual-supporting laws on the macro-evolutionary level, implies that a law-maker is dispensable on this level. This will either encourage skepticism against the omniscience (at least that concerning the future of macro-evolution) of the Creator, or render the notion of God less appealing.

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Abduction and Metaphor: An Inquiry into Common Cognitive Mechanism
XU Cihua, LI Hengwei
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (3): 480-491.

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Abduction and metaphor are two significant concepts in cognitive science. It is found that the both mental processes are on the basis of certain similarity. The similarity inspires us to seek the answers to the following two questions: (1) Whether there is a common cognitive mechanism behind abduction and metaphor? And (2) if there is, whether this common mechanism could be interpreted within the unified frame of modern intelligence theory? Centering on these two issues, the paper attempts to characterize and interpret the generation and evolution of scientific metaphors from the perspective of the cognitive mechanism of abductive inference. Then it interprets the common cognitive mechanism behind abduction and metaphor within Hawkins’ frame of intelligence theory. The commonality between abduction and metaphor indicates the potential to further explore human intelligence.

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Against Classical Dialetheism
WANG Wenfang
Front Phil Chin. 2011, 6 (3): 492-500.

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Dialetheism is the view that there are true contradictions. Classical dialetheism holds further the view that the law of excluded middle is indeed a logical law. Most famous dialetheists, such as G. Priest and J. Beall, are classical dialetheists; they take classical dialetheism to be the only plausible solution to the semantic paradoxes. The main contention of the paper is, however, that their views should be rejected. Based on inspecting Priest’s and Beall’s dialetheist theories from a special perspective, this paper contends that classical dialetheism has no natural and plausible way to assign truth values to various truth-ineliminable sentences, i.e., sentences whose truth-conditions essentially involve the property of being true. Several examples of such truth-ineliminable sentences are given in the paper, and two classical dialetheist strategies for assigning them truth values are inspected. This paper argues that none of these strategies is successful.

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