SUNY Oneonta Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

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					                                                                                                     2008 Abstracts
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                              13th Annual SUNY Oneonta
                          Undergraduate Philosophy Conference
                                   April 10-12, 2008
                                    Abstracts (4/5/08)
Brian Ballard
University of California Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)
Discussant: Thomas Bennett (SUNY Oneonta)
       Theism, Naturalism, and Creative Anti-realism: a Modern Trilemma
      Abstract: I argue that, given the choice between theism, naturalism, and creative anti-realism, theism
      is the most rational option. This is because naturalism and creative anti-realism are self-referentially
      incoherent while theism is not. This is true of naturalism because it provides its own defeater. Usually
      naturalism is believed alongside some manner of unguided evolution. But nature selects for fit
      behavior, and a creature could have fit behavior while also having cognitive faculties that are not
      aimed at the production of true abstract beliefs. Thus, natural selection has no way of favoring reliable
      abstract faculties over unreliable ones. This means that the probability that our abstract faculties are
      reliable is inscrutable for us. Naturalism thus gives us a defeater for all our abstract beliefs, including
      belief in naturalism itself. Therefore, naturalism is self-defeating. A theist, on the other hand, can
      believe at least that God has given him faculties aimed at the production of true theistic beliefs. Thus,
      theism avoids such self-defeat. Creative anti-realism also has problems of self-reference. This is
      because a creative anti-realist claims that truth depends on human mental activity in some significant
      way. But this claim, being a claim about the nature of truth, must be a necessary claim. And it is a
      necessary claim if and only if it is true in all possible worlds. There is, however, a possible world in
      which nobody believes in creative anti-realism. Thus, in that possible world, creative anti-realism is
      false. Thus, creative anti-realism implies the possibility of its own falsehood, and therefore cannot be
      necessarily true. But since it is a necessary claim, all that’s left is for it to be necessarily false. Theism,
      on the other hand, avoids this problem. For the theist can say that God, being a necessary being, exists
      in every possible world, and the thoughts of God are true in every possible world. Thus, God’s thought
      ―that theism is true‖ is true in every possible world, and theism does not imply its own possible
      falsehood. Therefore, given the choice between theism, naturalism, and creative anti-realism, theism is
      the best bet, since it avails itself of such self-referential problems. This is significant because these are
      the three most serious options for a modern person.
Daniel Baron
Brandeis University (Waltham, MA)
Discussant: Samuel Alaimo (SUNY Oneonta)
       On “Offensive Humor”
      Abstract: Humor is anything that intends to or does induce laughter. The point of humor is to offer,
      through words or acts, a remedy to something which is wrong, incoherent, painful or even immoral.
      All humor, I contend, is offensive. This is because all humor is rooted in the negative—in essence, it
      makes the best out of a bad situation. All humor is acceptable, but not in all situations. Therefore, I
      believe, it is immoral to censor humor—unless it is inappropriate given the context. (Sexist and racist
      jokes, for example, are inappropriate for a Kindergarten class but appropriate for a humor magazine on
      a college campus.) Finally, I argue that if one person can tell a joke, use a slur or mock an individual,
      then anyone else can act identically. If one person can say or do x, then anyone else can. This, of
      course, excludes matters of copyright infringement and other cases in which repeating what someone
      else does would be illegal. Just like free speech, humor can only be limited if there is a strong reason
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       to do so, and sensitivity (―hurt feelings‖) is no such reason.
Carrie L. Bates
SUNY Potsdam (Potsdam, NY)
Discussant: Dave Naples (SUNY Oneonta)
       Augustine and Plato via the Neoplatonists: Was Plato a Pre-Christian Christian?
       Abstract: In The City of God, Augustine claims that the Platonists represent the pagan philosophy
       closest to Christian belief (1.8.5). In De Vera Religione, he states that given the opportunity, the
       Platonists would have become Christians. Augustine draws his understanding of Platonism almost
       entirely from the writings of the Neoplatonists, and supports his claim by focusing on Plotinus,
       Iamblichus, and Porphyry, with special attention directed at Plotinus. Augustine relies largely on a
       copy of the Enneads, written by Plotinus and edited by Porphyry, as he discusses points of similarity
       and difference between Christianity and Platonism. Using the statements of the Neoplatonists
       themselves, Augustine argues that their own positions should drive them logically to reject worship of
       gods other than the one true God who has revealed himself in the Christian Scriptures.
       This paper will use the City of God and the Enneads to ask and briefly answer three questions: Was
       Augustine justified in his belief that the Platonists (as represented by Plotinus), if they could live over
       again after the incarnation, would have embraced Christianity? Has he cited Plotinus appropriately?
       Why does Augustine use the City of God to engage in conversation with pagan philosophers?
Ronald Baumiller
Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA)
       Del Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida and die Ewige Wiederkehr: an Essay Concerning
       the Immortality of the Soul
       Abstract: Beginning most notably with Plato, an inquiry concerning the immortality of the soul has
       persisted for centuries. This investigation has even found itself in one of the most recent and
       prominent movements in philosophy, existentialism. Kierkegaard, a theistic philosopher, is popularly
       accepted as the founder of existentialism along with his historical contrary Nietzsche, an atheistic
       philosopher. What is crucial to the above investigation is also a distinguishing factor for the previously
       mentioned fundamental thinkers of existentialism—does God exist? Due to Kierkegaard’s unique but
       ambiguous style, I will utilize Miguel de Unamuno, an explicit Kierkegaardian, to endorse the theistic
       approach concerning the immortality of the soul. In this essay, I will rehearse the philosophies of
       Miguel de Unamuno and Friedrich Nietzsche regarding the immortality of the soul. Then, I will
       contrast the two contraries to see if any light maybe shed on the subject by these two diverse
William J. Brady
University of North Carolina (Chapel-Hill, NC)
Discussant: Corin Fox (Virginia Commonwealth University)
       Qualia-States and Event-Memory: Empirical Support for the Deconstruction of Qualia
       Abstract: Qualia (subjective experiences, sensations, etc) have long been viewed as the ―last stand‖
       against a completely materialist or computational explanation of mind. I will address the issue by
       problematizing qualia in epistemic terms. I use empirical data on event-memory (and its fallibility) to
       support Daniel Dennett’s project in ―Quining Qualia‖ (1988).
       I start by discussing Dennett’s idea that qualia-states are indistinguishable from reactive attitudes. I
       then support his claim with empirical evidence on the fallibility of memory. I argue that both first-
       person knowledge and third-person ―scientific objective‖ knowledge cannot shed light on qualia-states
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       with epistemic certainty, and by extension they also cannot shed light on qualia experienced in the
       present. I conclude that any empirical theory of mind cannot incorporate qualia with epistemic
       certainty – with the hopes of supporting an eliminativist view on qualia.
Thomas Carnes
United States Military Academy (West Point, NY)
Discussant: Roy Allen Otto III (Trinity University)
       The Moral Permissibility of Euthanasia: A Response to Daniel Callahan
       Abstract: I attempt to show how the practice of euthanasia should not be regarded as immoral. I do
       this by trying to elucidate the problems that comprise the Callahan piece, ―When Self-Determination
       Runs Amok,‖ to which I am responding. My aim is twofold: (1) I am replying to the charge against
       euthanasia that it involves acts of coercion, something that must be accepted if we accept other of
       Callahan’s claims throughout his paper, by showing that no unjust coercion—indeed no coercion at
       all—takes place when euthanasia is conducted as intended (an important yet legitimate assumption I
       make from the beginning); and (2) I am countering Callahan’s charge that allowing euthanasia
       amounts to our self-determination running amok. By showing that the decision of a patient to be
       euthanized is a single, mutual decision made by both the patient and physician together after earnest
       deliberation, with neither person having any control over the other, it should become clear that coming
       to this sort of decision does not amount to an unreasonable extension of self-determination—either for
       the physician or for the patient. I conclude by emphasizing that I am arguing that euthanasia out to be
       regarded as morally permissible rather than morally obligatory, or morally prohibited, which serves as
       an extension of my treatment of the physicians’ perspective of the issue.
Bradley Elicker
Temple University (Philadelphia, PA)
Discussant: Peter G. Res (Hartwick College)
       Mimesis, Catharsis, and Pleasure: An Investigation into Aristotle’s Tragic Pleasure
       Abstract: Aristotle writes the Poetics as an investigation into representational art and, more
       specifically, as an investigation into the art form of tragedy. While Aristotle goes into great detail
       regarding the technical aspects of creating and appreciating a work of tragedy, he is somewhat lacking
       in his descriptions of how tragedy is enjoyed by an audience. Aristotle speaks of this tragic pleasure in
       two ways; as the pleasure of mimesis, and as the pleasure of catharsis. If we come to understand the
       Aristotelian concept of pleasure as an activity as opposed to a process, and the distinction between
       essential and accidental pleasures, we can better understand the source of Aristotle’s tragic pleasure
       and how it relates to mimesis and catharsis. I will argue that Aristotle, based on his ethical writings,
       would not have believed that catharsis is pleasurable. If catharsis is not the pleasure of tragedy, there
       must be some other pleasure associated with tragic works. This pleasure is the pleasure of
       experiencing mimetic representations and is the essential pleasure of tragedy. If we come to
       understand tragic pleasure in this way, we can allow for a definition of catharsis that does not hold the
       sole responsibility of creating the pleasure of tragic works. In this way we are able to give catharsis its
       proper designation as an accidental pleasure while still admitting to an essential pleasure of tragedy:
       the pleasure of mimesis.
Corin T. Fox
Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA)
Discussant: Lawrence Faulstich (Binghamton University)
       The Case for Kalderon’s Moral Fictionalism
       Abstract: In this paper, I will discuss problems with Mark Eli Kalderon’s hermeneutic moral
       fictionalism. First, I will introduce fictionalism and its varied applications. Second, I will describe the
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       thesis of moral fictionalism (of the Kalderonian variety) and explain its different commitments and
       sub-parts. Third, I will object to Kalderon’s view. Specifically, I will show that his explanation of
       moral acceptance is flawed. I will argue that without a more plausible understanding of moral
       acceptance, Kalderon’s fictionalism fails to be preferable over rival views, such as error theory.
Jesse Hancock
SUNY Potsdam (Potsdam, NY)
Discussant: Kenneth Brenner (SUNY Oneonta)
       Negligence of Belief
       Abstract: An overview of W.K Clifford’s ―Ethics of Belief‖ is presented and critiqued using William
       James’ ―The Will to Believe‖ as a foil and reference, as well as some of the authors own ideas. The
       paper seeks to recognize and analyze both the limits of Clifford’s essay as well as the relevance and
       applicability of ―Ethics of Belief‖ today.
       Of particular importance, the claim is made that faith and science are paradoxically inseparable in
       humans, with faith being necessarily concomitant with science and logic. In the essay both faith
       (belief) and Science/logic are classified as separate social contracts that complement one another,
       equally vital factors in the evolution of humanity.
Christopher Hallquist
University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI)
Discussant: Paul Tritschler (SUNY Oneonta)
       A Minimal Argument from Evil
       Abstract: (first paragraph) This is a polemical essay on the argument from evil, the claim that the
       evils in this world in some way provide reason to deny the existence of God. I use the word
       ―polemical‖ here in the sense used by Frank Jackson in his famous critique of reductionism. Jackson
       noticed that the arguments around at the time had premises which were not clear to everyone, and
       found this fact alone sufficient reason to be dissatisfied with them. In response, he developed his
       ―knowledge argument,‖ which, he hoped, had premises no one could deny.
Lorin Jackson
Haverford College (Haverford, PA)
Discussant: Joel Reynolds (University of Oregon)
       Sacred and Vicious Circles: The Impact of Limits on Understanding and Possible Worlds
       in Derrida
       Abstract: This paper follows three examples in Derrida’s work to form commentary on the impact of
       setting limits to theory. Inevitably with the creation of a boundary, as Derrida suggests, one enacts a
       circular shape to their possible understanding. Through the examples of J.L. Austin’s avoidance of the
       unordinary, the impact of editing and distribution of images in technology, and the out-casting of
       foreigners as a kind of threat, Derrida’s work reveals how the insider’s logic traps them as they
       disallow the inclusion of the outside, thus limiting possible worlds for the sake of a false, sacred, pure
Ali Kinsella
University of Dayton (Dayton, OH)
Discussant: Christopher Hallquist (University of Wisconsin)
       Pluralism as Agnosticism in William James
       Abstract: Throughout his Lowell lectures which are collected as the book, Pragmatism, William
       James speaks of religion and religious people in various ways, but it is not entirely clear how he
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       regards them. This paper is an attempt to clarify what he means by ―religion.‖ My investigation
       shows that James’s feelings would most closely align with those of today’s agnostics. The question of
       the existence of God was apparently not a lively one for him. Not surprisingly, James was most
       concerned with the impact one’s beliefs had on one’s willingness to work to bring about change in the
       world. In his conception, religiosity was not about one’s personal relationship with God or chances of
       avoiding hell; rather, it was a matter of being a pessimist, optimist, or, his personal favorite, a
Tanja Magas
Barnard College, Columbia University (New York, NY)
Discussant: Dan Oliver (Ashland University)
       Turned Away: The Exclusion of the Mentally Incompetent from the Electorate
       Abstract: Today, only two groups of American citizens over the age of eighteen are disenfranchised:
       the felons and the mentally incompetent. While we might argue that the former are being ―punished‖
       for their misdeeds, how can we justify the disenfranchisement of the latter? I argue that we cannot. My
       approach is based on political philosophy. I will address issues that arise from upholding the ban: from
       failing to reach democratic ideals to the negative consequences of differential and unfair treatment of
       the electorate. Consequently, I will conclude that no proper reason exists as to why we should uphold
       the disenfranchisement of the mentally incompetent. As a result, the United States will fail to be a
       complete democracy until it recognizes this.
Michael Mesceda
SUNY Oneonta (Oneonta, NY)
Discussant: Andrew Stoecker (SUNY Oneonta)
       Time’s Broken Arrow: An Examination of Time, Time Travel, and Temporal Paradox
       Abstract: This paper deals with aspects of time, time travel, and temporal paradox. Beginning with
       standard dictionary definitions of time the paper goes on to look at the scientific and philosophical
       concepts of time through human history. How during the Enlightenment the Newtonian view of time
       as an absolute dominated the physical and philosophical views through the beginning of the 20th
       century when the theories of Albert Einstein altered these concepts of time and space. The paper then
       explores the consequences of this new theory such as the expanding universe hypothesis, the ―Big
       Bang theory‖ and ―String Theory.‖ After which it looks at the multiple worlds or multi-verse
       hypothesis, the theoretical possibility of time travel, the common temporal paradoxes that would arise,
       and their philosophical implications as represented in Science Fiction literature. Also examined are
       implications suggested by ―string theory‖ which proposes the concept of the universe existing in the
       form of a four dimensional moebius in which the point of creation and the point of destruction are in
       the same; where the beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. In this proposed model of
       space-time the universe and by extension time are created and destroyed in the same instant, leading to
       an infinite cycle of end and beginning. It concludes with a brief summary of the various materials
       discussed and that the theoretical possibility of time travel provides fertile ground for philosophical
Matthew D. Mingus
Ashland University (Ashland, OH)
Discussant: Matt LaVine (SUNY Potsdam)
       A Comparison of the Historical and Theoretical Approaches to the Visual Aesthetic
       Abstract: This project juxtaposes the historical interpretation of Jonathan Brown and the theoretical
       understanding of Michel Foucault in reference to Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas. By comparing
       these two approaches to understanding art, I explore several fundamental differences and similarities
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       between the art historian and the art theorist.
Roy Allen Otto III
Trinity University (San Antonio, TX)
Discussant: Matthew Cedar (SUNY Oneonta)
        Pornography as the Downfall of Nozick
       Abstract: Nozick outlines three distinct reasons why he believes distributive justice is irrational and
       improbable. First, he argues that end-state principles of distribution, like the theory that Rawls
       presents, are flawed. Second, as an extension of the first argument, he analyzes the contradiction of the
       ability of society to voluntarily transfer its property. Last, he analyzes the idea that taking from one
       person to give to another is comparable to making the first person a slave. Though each of these
       arguments is extremely interesting and rich in textual support, the second assertion in particular brings
       up truly critical questions of the theories that Rawls presents: it implies an indictment of the system of
       justice itself if such a critique is left to stand. Therefore, I find it essential that we pull out this
       argument and address it independently of the other two; more specifically, I will be analyzing whether
       or not Nozick’s rhetorical critique has far-reaching implications in distributive philosophers’ theories.
       Additionally, using Kantian theories of human dignity, I will analyze a specific case example
       (pornography) with which I will try to unravel some of the implications that Nozick is attempting to
       highlight in order to address the legitimacy of his argument. I will demonstrate that Nozick fails to
       address these implications, inevitably undermining his own theories.
Jeremy Redlien
SUNY Oneonta (Oneonta, NY)
Discussant: David Naples (SUNY Oneonta) or Matthew D. Mingus
       The Proper Place for Homosexuality in the Doctrine of Creation and the Inherent
       Immorality of Discrimination
       Abstract: In recent years the issues of same sex marriage, gay adoption, along with a Supreme Court
       Case regarding whether or not to allow homosexuals to be members of the Boy Scouts of America,
       have at different points come to the forefront of awareness in American culture and politics. All of
       these issues are relevant to the larger topics of human sexuality and its associated morality. Many
       people would argue that homosexuality is morally degrading and sinful; a view that is largely based
       upon Biblical sources as well as the doctrine of creation. They therefore argue for laws promoting
       discrimination against homosexuals. However this paper shall attempt to demonstrate that such
       discrimination is inherently immoral in of itself.
Joel Michael Reynolds
University of Oregon (Eugene, OR)
Discussant: Ross Laurence Wolfe (Penn State)
       The End of Anthropodicy: Suffering, Eschatology, and Symmetrics in Levinas
       Abstract: One of the guiding principles behind Emmanuel Levinas’ thought is that ―the justification
       of my neighbor’s pain is the beginning of all immorality.‖ Passing through his probings of war and
       eschatology, we will explore Levinas’ ethics of asymmetry and non-reciprocal responsibility for the
       other, locating the fundamental role suffering plays therein. We will then question whether Levinas’
       ethics indeed precludes the possibility of anthropodicy, of the justification of the suffering of another
       human. Reading his phenomenology of the face contra his metaphysics of asymmetry, we will argue
       that in the end both receptivity and responsibility and both symmetry and asymmetry are necessary for
       the end of anthropodicy. Lastly, we will connect this ―end‖ to the future, to a vision of a messianic
       eschatology of peace, both present and to come.
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Guy Schoettl
SUNY Oneonta (Oneonta, NY)
Discussant: Tyler Vice (SUNY Oneonta)
       Marx’s Revolution that Was Not to Be, and the Problem of Estrangement that It Leaves
       Behind: Analyzed, Explained, and Considered through the Theories of Adorno
       Abstract: According to Marx, the Capitalist system that we all live in today should have been
       overthrown giving way to the ideal Communist state, realizing this has not happened, the question is:
       why? Before this question can be answered, an examination of the steps toward a Marxian revolution
       must be explored and understood so that we may see what has not been satisfied. As well as a
       discussion of the revolutionary motions Marx foresaw in Capitalism that have not surfaced, this paper
       is an examination of the estrangement issue left in its wake. While acknowledging areas of Marx's
       theory that seem to require revision, there is no hesitation to continue the examination of the problems
       Marx saw facing individuals within the Capitalist system. Using Adorno's writings and discussions
       upon this issue, a critique of Marx and the Capitalist system he theorized upon, are focused from
       several key areas: the melting visible boundaries of class structure; pop-culture's message and
       ensnaring behaviors; and the inadequate state- of-being encouraged by Capitalism that assists in
       tightening its grip over the individual. The estrangement of the individual, being placed on him/her
       from all directions, is posed as the issue in need of resolution; this paper is an examination of that
       issue, as well as an inquiry into what (if anything) may be done about that problem.
Benjamin Schultz
Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, PA)
Discussant: Ali Kinsella (University of Dayton)
       Heidegger, Irigaray, and the Critique of Nietzsche’s Subjectivity
       Abstract: In this paper, I compare the very different critiques of Nietzsche’s thought that Martin
       Heidegger and Luce Irigaray present principally in two works. I argue for an area of meaningful
       convergence in the way both philosophers treat Nietzsche both as a culmination of Western (male)
       metaphysics and as a critical voice against it. Heidegger and Irigaray interpret the concept of the
       eternal return as an expression of totalizing subjectivity and both react against this by emphasizing
       what it must exclude or appropriate. I see this shared concern as useful in understanding the seemingly
       dissimilar philosophical projects of Heidegger and Irigaray, as well as in situating Nietzsche in the
       history of Western thought.
Robert Talley
St John’s College (Annapolis, MD)
Discussant: Kristin Williams (Reed College)
       An Aristotelian Critique of the Mathematical Approach to the Study of Being
       Abstract: Some of the most accessible passages in Aristotle’s writings which emphasize the ways in
       which the guiding assumptions of modern mathematical physics differ from those of Aristotle’s study
       of nature can be found in Book XIII Ch. 1-3 of the Metaphysics. In Ch. 2 and 3 Aristotle offers a
       critique of the mathematical study of being as derived from ancient Greek geometry, astronomy,
       harmonics, and optics. Although pieces of the argument are obviously in need of revision if modern
       doctrines are to be included in the critique, perhaps Aristotle has something serious to say about how
       any sort of mathematical account of being should be interpreted, be it ancient or modern. In this paper,
       I will offer a reading of the arguments presented in Ch. 2-3 in order to understand what manner of
       being may be attributed to mathematical objects and how the mode of inquiry employed by the
       mathematician may be not at all different from the general mode of inquiry Aristotle favors in all sorts
       of knowledge. Taken independently of all other sorts of knowledge the mathematician’s inquiries, like
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       all other isolated inquiries, only reveals what has being in potency regarding the perceptible things.
Paul Turner
Marshall University (Huntington, WV)
       Sincerity and Living Wisely
       Abstract: A quick look at a wall of greeting cards or motivational posters will show that ―sincerity‖ is
       a word that has been worn threadbare; it has been rendered cliché. The word is seemingly more of a
       sound with cheerful feelings attached than any kind of describable discrete concept. In this
       comparative investigation, I attempt to restore some of the nascent dignity of sincerity by calling upon
       several different sources for wisdom: lectures from Zen master Shunryu Suzuki, tales of Hassidic
       zaddiks, and finally my own experience and beliefs about sincerity. I also aim to distill the wisdom
       found in this eclectic group of sources into a coherent account of what sincerity is, what it has to do
       with wise conduct, and finally how one uses it as a method or style of living. Ultimately, this
       discussion examines why sincerity is important to wisely carrying out the project of existing as a
       human being, or living the good life, and culminates in an account of how deeply personal the issue of
       true sincerity is in my own life.
Marina Michelle van Overhagen
Hamilton College (Clinton, NY)
Discussant: Brian Ballard (University of California, Santa Cruz)
       The Ontological Argument of Saint Anselm of Canterbury; William Rowe Sheds New
       Light on an Old Subject
       Abstract: William Rowe’s article has helped to clarify the more obscure nuances of Saint Anselm’s
       eleventh century Ontological argument. St.Anselm continued the work of his Monologium in the
       Proslogium, where he succeeded in his goal of formulating one single argument as proof for the
       existence of God; the idea of the Being than which none greater can be conceived. His case rests on
       the idea of existence of a concept in the mind as proof of possibility; and on the idea of existence itself
       as a parameter of stature that is in comparison better than non-existence. Rowe carefully constructs an
       explanation of the relationships between the existent, non-existent, the contingent and the necessary in
       order that we may realize the connection between existence in the understanding, existence in reality,
       and the defining greatness causing the necessity of the real existence of God.
David Whitehead
Buffalo State College (Buffalo, NY)
Discussant: Emily Carroll – presented with the assistance of Samuel Alaimo (SUNY Oneonta)
       Ms. Goode and Mr. Fairborne: A Dialog
       Abstract: This dialog, in the Socratic style, between Ms. Goode, a one-time professor of logic and
       philosophy and now a distinguished volunteer with the Honors’ Society, and Mr. Fairborne, the
       United States Secretary of Education, has Ms. Goode making a cogent argument against the use of
       standardized testing and the No Child Left Behind program. She draws Mr. Fairborne into answering
       questions, which his answers to display the contradictions of the program. While Ms. Goode
       challenges Mr. Fairborne to explain these flaws, the dialog challenges students, their parents, and
       faculty to reexamine the way our current educational system rates students’ intelligence levels.
Michael Willenborg
University of Hawaii (Honolulu, HI)
Discussant: Samuel Alaimo (SUNY Oneonta)
       An Attempted Resolution of a Paradox Concerning Engagement with Fiction
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       Abstract: One of the many interesting issues with which the philosophy of film is concerned has to do
       with the nature of our response to fictional characters. The fundamental motivation undergirding this
       concern is the paradox generated by three theses, each of which appear individually plausible, though
       when taken together seem jointly inconsistent. This has led some to deny one or more of the theses in
       order to escape the grips of what seems to be certain contradiction. However, in each case the cost of
       doing so seems significant enough to warrant the search for an account that resolves the logical
       conundrum while preserving the basic content of our intuitions concerning the theses. In what follows
       we will attempt to do just that, by first making clear the nature of the paradox through an examination
       of the individual theses, and then suggesting a way in which the problem may be circumvented
       without the sacrifice of any firmly entrenched commonsensical notions.
Kristin Williams
Reed College (Portland, OR)
Discussant: Thor Kasenko (SUNY Oneonta)
        A Denial of Photocopy Virtue: A Problem of Student Passivity in Moral Education
       Abstract: The way in which moral education is portrayed by the virtue ethicist’s critics
       misunderstands her program. The emulation model is often criticized due to a problem of finding the
       object of emulation, an ideal virtue exemplar. It is thought that the virtue student morally improves by
       following the example of the ideal virtue exemplar. My paper examines John Doris’s criticism of a
       neo-Aristotelian emulation model and raises a few objections against accepting a model of moral
       education in which the virtue student chooses the morally right action by depending on the example
       set by the virtue exemplar. First I critique Doris’s argument, then go on to examine his argument in
       light of contemporary scholarship. Finally, I argue that to accept Doris’s model of moral education is
       to break with moral education of an Aristotelian spirit. Doris’s model makes the virtue student’s moral
       development depend passively on an example of right action rather than depending on the ability of
       the student to appreciate the moral worth of their actions.
Ross Laurence Wolfe
Penn State (State College, PA)
Discussant: Mathew D. Mingus (Ashland University)
       Substance, Causation, and Free Will in Spinoza and Leibniz
       Abstract: The 17th-18th century continental debate over the possibility of rescuing the idea of free will
       was largely a reaction to the conclusions reached by Spinoza in his work, The Ethics. This paper
       examines the logic of Spinoza’s refutation of Providence and human free will, as well as G.W.
       Leibniz’s critique of Spinoza’s refutation in Discourses on Metaphysics and the Monadology. It finds
       the pertinent metaphysical issues for both thinkers to rest in the rational ideas of Substance (as that
       upon which existence subsists) and Causation (along with subordinate relations of
       Possibility/Actuality and Contingency/Necessity).
       I propose that Leibniz’s system implicitly solved the problem of Spinoza's causal argument against
       God's own free will, though he did not specifically address it. This involves a different conception of
       the causa sui, in which this First Cause is not logically determined (by geometric necessity) but is
       itself an act of God’s will. The notion of God as perpetually affirming (a volitional feature) His own
       existence, later adopted by F.W.J. Schelling, provides a way out from Spinozism.