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VOLUME LXVIII, NUMBER 1
September 2014

 

True Qualifiers for Qualified Truths, RENÉ VAN WOUDENBERG

This paper aims to throw light on what predicative expressions like “is a(n) ___ truth,” where an adjective is inserted on the line, mean.  It aims to do so by unearthing a framework that specifies (i) various items that can be qualified by the adjectives, as well as (ii) various ways in which the adjectives perform their qualifying function.  This framework forms the background against which, in the second half of this paper, the meaning of “is a relative truth” and “is an absolute truth” are studied.  This paper, then, studies what alethic adjectives mean and how they work.

Plato’s Rational Souls, LLOYD P. GERSON

The term “Socratic intellectualism” is typically used to distinguish the philosophy of Socrates from the philosophy of Plato.  The former is supposedly found in the so-called early dialogues and the latter in the so-called middle and later dialogues.  A hallmark of Socratic intellectualism is the claim that knowledge is sufficient for virtue.  Plato, it is held, rejected or compromised this intellectualism when he allowed for the possibility of incontinence in Republic and explained this possibility by the partitioning of the soul.  Thus, appetitive desire is nonrational or even irrational and the origin of a type of action that is immune to the rule of reason.  On this view, it would follow that knowledge is not sufficient for virtue.  In this paper, the author challenges the claim that in Republic the appetites are irrational or, as some put it, “good-independent desires.”  The author argues that the embodied soul is a divided self or subject, but that all of its actions are those of a rational agent.

Aristotelian Virtue Ethics and Modern Liberal Democracy, CATHERINE H. ZUCKERT

Virtue ethics now constitutes one of three major approaches to the study of ethics by Anglophone philosophers.  Its proponents almost all recognize the source of their approach in Aristotle, but relatively few of them confront the problem that source poses for contemporary ethicists.  According to Aristotle, ethikê belongs and is subordinate to politikê.  But in the liberal democracies within which most Anglophone ethicists write, political authorities are not supposed to legislate morality; they are supposed merely to establish the conditions necessary for individuals to choose their own life paths.  Contemporary ethicists who have addressed this question have proposed three very different answers to the question of how virtue ethics ought to be related to politics in modern nation-states.  Martha Nussbaum seeks to provide all human beings with the capacities—intellectual and moral as well as material—they need to choose the best way of life.  Arguing that the modern nation-state is incapable of providing its citizens with the education they need to live a good life, Alasdair MacIntyre looks to smaller, tradition-based communities.  Because political action is coercive and truly ethical action is voluntary, Douglas den Uyl and Douglas Rasmussen insist, ethics and politics should be strictly separated.  This article examines each of these attempts to revive an Aristotelian understanding of ethics, bringing out the advantages and problems involved.

Descartes and the Real Distinction between Mind and Body, DANIEL E. FLAGE

How does Descartes justify his claim that conceiving of a mind as a thinking thing and a body as an extended thing show that mind and body are distinct substances?  The paper attempts to answer that question by following a clue Descartes gave Arnauld that virtually everything in Meditations Three through Five is germane to the real distinction between mind and body.  The paper develops the distinction between material truth and formal truth from Descartes’s discussions of falsity in Meditation Three.  In Meditation Three, clear and distinct ideas are materially true.  They are consistent.  They represent the possibility that there is something that corresponds to the idea (de dicto possibility).  God is not a deceiver.  Since it is psychologically impossible to doubt a clear and distinct idea, Descartes concludes Meditation Four by arguing that clear and distinct ideas are formally true (representative).  Clear and distinct ideas represent true and immutable natures (essences).  It is in virtue of true and immutable natures that it is possible that there are things of determinate kinds.  Hence, in Meditation Five, clear and distinct ideas represent de re possibilities.  Since the mind/body distinction is a distinction between true and immutable natures, Descartes takes clearly and distinctly conceiving a thinking thing as distinct from an extended thing to be sufficient for claiming a real distinction between mind and body.—Correspondence to:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . 

The Intellectual Phenomenology of De Ente et Essentia, Chapter Four, JOHN F. X. KNASAS

By providing a phenomenological presentation of Aquinas’s duplex operatio intellectus, the author argues that a reader is better equipped to understand where and when Aquinas arrives at the real distinction between essence and existence in the much disputed De Ente et Essentia, chapter four.  “Phenomenological presentation” means an honest description of one’s own mental life as it conducts the duplex operatio.  From phenomenological observations in the Thomistic texts, the author argues that a penetrative and rebounding movement of attention upon some initially presented multiplicity characterizes the duplex operatio.  When this dynamic is conducted upon the multiplicity of a real thing juxtaposed to itself cognitionally existing in sensation, the rebound of the secunda operatio presents the real existence in a sui generis relation of priority to the individual thing understood as existence neutral.  Unfortunately, the rebound of attention is too quick to discern accurately the nature of the borderline between the attribute of existence and its subject, the individual thing.  The attribute of existence may actuate the thing by shading into it or by remaining distinct from it.  Fortunately, the phenomenological situation is sufficient to leave phenomenology and to initiate the third intellectual operation of reasoning.  Reasoning concludes to a first cause of phenomenologically observable attributive existence.  In this first cause existence is the thing itself.  In order for this first cause to have its proper effect corresponding to what it is, the author argues that the second of the above two alternatives for phenomenologically observable attributive existence must be the true one.  After linking these reflections to stages of De Ente, chapter 4, the author critically relates them to other interpretations of the text.  These interpretations include those of Cahalan, McDonald, Wippel, Dewan, Patt, Kenny, and Owens.—Correspondence to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 


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