|Friday, October 26, 12:00-5:00
University of Utah
Department of Philosophy
Please register in CTIHB 401 (click for map) starting at 11:00.(Click on [Abstract] for abstract; click on room number for campus map)
12:00 - 12:40
Examining Aristotle's three principles of substantial change, eidos, steresis, and the underlying substratum, this paper focuses on Physics A.9 and its cryptic turn to desire at 192a16-24. Employing the verbs oregesthai and ephiesthai, Aristotle advocates the view that matter desires form. On Generation and Corruption B.10 similarly claims that nature itself strives after its goals, for "nature always strives after (oregesthai) the better" (336b27-8, translation modified). GC expounds on the third principle, the underlying substratum, developed as necessary but without detail in Physics Α. I advocate a consistent role for a kind of ontological desire integral to the generation of all perishable substances according to Aristotelian thought. These texts show Aristotle developing two cooperative sources of motion relevant to the ceaseless generation of perishable substances. The first, strongly advocated in Physics A.9 and affirmed in GC B.10, describes the teleological motivation of ontological desire as a core factor in the generation of living things. The second, developed in GC B, concerns the eternal cyclical transformation of the elements from fire to air to water to earth, and back, and involves the approach and retreat of the sun. Where the coming-to-be of the four elements is cyclical (331b2), the generation of substance designates the birth of something radically new. The question of perpetuity does not address the mechanism by which the paradox of generation from not-being is overcome. In short, GC cannot fully account for this process without the ontological striving of Physics A.9.
Epistemologists of all flavors are fond of using intuitions generated by various thought experiments to support their theories and to refute those of others. This is accepted as common practice among epistemologists (and philosophers in general) with surprisingly little questioning about the validity of using intuitions in this way. Because epistemologists rely on intuitions so heavily in order to practice their craft, there is a vital need for making explicit a view that explains where our intuitions come from and what gives these intuitions their justifying power. Epistemic intuitionism is the view that some epistemic judgments, which include judgments of whether a person is justified or unjustified in accepting a particular belief, are justified intuitively—their justification does not depend on reasoning from further premises.
In this paper I will formulate and defend an epistemic intuitionism about epistemic judgments. Epistemic intuitionism, as I conceive of it, is committed to three minimal claims. First, it is committed to a form of epistemological realism. That is, it is committed to the idea that there are epistemic facts—facts of the form S is (or is not) reasonable in believing p at time t, S is (or is not) justified in believing p at time t, etc. Second, epistemic intuitionism presupposes that normative judgments have normative force. When I say that "S is unjustified in believing p," I am saying that S ideally should not believe p. Third, epistemic intuitionism is committed to the claim that there is a class of epistemic judgments which are justified intuitively and that these intuitions provided a foundation for higher-level epistemic theories.
There is a certain category of fallacy that I call "shortcut fallacies." These are ways of arguing that attempt to establish a conclusion by means of taking an unjustified shortcut and circumventing the actual work that would have to be done to reach that conclusion legitimately. One of the most prominent of these fallacies today is what I call the "Good and Intelligent People" argument (or GIPD, for short). Here is the gist of it: "Whenever there is significant disagreement over some issue, this must mean that there is a lack of objective evidence available to decide the issue (because otherwise there would be much more of a consensus), and thus the proper position with regard to that issue is agnosticism." Although this argument is seldom articulated explicitly, it is extremely common and is one of the main arguments upholding a dominant agnostic attitude regarding matters of religion and deep philosophy within western culture today. But the argument fails in a number of ways. For one thing, it is self-refuting. Also, if successful, it refutes not only non-agnostic views but also agnostic views, and thus fails to establish the position it is intended to establish. Secondly, the argument establishes its conclusion only by jumping to it without adequately considering alternative plausible possibilities that, if considered, would call it into doubt. The argument therefore fails to establish its conclusion; and as it is a major supporting argument for agnosticism, its failure calls this position itself into question.
Thomas Hobbes is mainly read today for his political philosophy, and one of the rare works he wrote directly in English: Leviathan. During his life, however, he was better known for his Latin works, especially De Corpore (Concerning Body). The work presents a delightful kaleidoscope of clearly modern concepts, but in unusual forms. We see precursors to the concept of energy, infinitesimals, and inertia, yet each time with a particular Hobbesian twist. His astronomy is an application of his concepts and one of the most fascinating attempts between Kepler and Newton to provide a theory of planetary motion with an adequate theoretical foundation. Though published in 1655, some 46 years after Kepler, his work must not be seen as too late, historically speaking, as scholars in the 17th century saw the issue as undecided until Newton provided a theoretical basis for Kepler's laws in 1686. Three quarters of a century fall between Kepler and Newton and to pass directly from one to the other falsifies our understanding of the period. In short, before Newton, even after Kepler, the search for a correct theory of planetary motion was considered a wide open question. This paper will look at Hobbes's theory of planetary motion, the details of which are striking—I would even say entertaining—and very poorly known, and also look at its significance for the history of the 17th century and the importance that a correct understanding of that history has for the philosophy of science.
Successor views in the free will literature are views that reject the assumption behind the compatibility question, the question of whether free will is compatible with causal determinism. Specifically, they challenge the assumption that the compatibility question must be answered with either a yes or a no (in the exclusive sense of "or"). One premise typically found in arguments for successor views is the premise that there are certain challenging cases where we have compatibilist and incompatibilist intuitions within the same case. This paper gives empirical support for that premise by presenting an experiment that yields an actor-observer asymmetry in intuitions about the compatibility questions. Given causal determinism, intuitions are incompatibilist when we think about someone else doing an action, but intuitions are compatibilist when we think about our own action as judged by someone else.
Given the complexity of human organisms and our relative ignorance of their function, how can we reasonably expect to be able to enhance function? Nick Bostrom and Anders Sandberg (2008) have recently proposed an evolutionary heuristic that provides criteria for identifying cases in which it is reasonable to think we can improve function. One criterion identifies cases that involve changes in tradeoffs: if a system is "designed" to function in a particular environment, it is reasonable to think that intervention could improve the function of that system in a new environment. In this paper, I argue that this criterion is in need of revision: it fails to account for the possibility of phenotypic plasticity. The mere fact that contemporary human environments differ from past evolutionary environments does not give us reason to believe that intervention could improve function. If humans exhibit the capacity to develop different phenotypes in different environments, functioning may approach optimum even in novel environments. Moreover, when considering the feasibility of human enhancement, it is important to know, not only whether any proposed intervention will likely yield a net benefit, but also whether that same benefit could be achieved with less cost through some other modification, e.g. through the adoption of cognitive strategies or environmental modification. Since it is plausible that phenotypic plasticity is a prevalent feature of human cognition, a criterion revised in light of these considerations will provide better guidance about the likelihood that a proposed intervention will successfully enhance human functioning.
What is required of the epistemically and morally responsible agent when she is faced with unconvincing testimony on some moral issue? Consider a case.
Suppose that Ann believes that p about some moral matter, but comes to learn that Ben believes that not-p. Suppose further that Ann and Ben, upon learning of their disagreement, decide to sit down and discuss their respective reasons for belief. Ann is not compelled by the reasons Ben gives; Ben is not compelled by the reasons Ann gives. Ann and Ben seem to be in a sticky epistemic situation; they disagree, and neither feel the pull of the other's reasons. How should Ann and Ben react when they discover that the other disagrees?
Many may think it uncontroversially true that neither Ben nor Ann ought to defer to the other in this case precisely because the issue under consideration is a moral one and because Ben and Ann are unwilling to endorse the reasons the other provides. These intuitions may be driven by a concern for moral autonomy. We must be—in a deep sense—the author of our own moral views, which should be based only on reasons we can endorse and understand. In this paper I argue that we are sometimes required to defer to the moral testimony of others, even in cases of seemingly intractable disagreement, where we are unable to appreciate or understand the moral reasons given by another. In arguing for this position I draw on literature in cognitive science, psychology, and philosophy.
In 1945, John Dewey was the best-known philosopher in America, working in the one flourishing home-grown philosophical tradition; by 1955, no one had ever heard of him, and pragmatism was a discredited relic. Why did pragmatism suddenly disappear? Was it simply a side-effect of the sudden popularity of logical positivism, or was it inevitable?
1:00 - 1:40
French existentialism's relationship to the unconscious often ranges from outright rejection to begrudging acknowledgement. Beauvoir's work portrays a subtle and nuanced understanding of the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious forces that shape our situation. Utilizing aspects of Freudian theory and Lévi-Straussian structural anthropology, she exhibits a skeptical attitude toward the deterministic tendencies in theories of the unconscious. Nevertheless, she still maintains a respect for non-conscious embodied existence that is rarely (if ever) experienced as fully present to itself. According to Beauvoir, both Freud and Lévi-Strauss suffer a blindness regarding the totally unique and irreducible experience of the individual—a blindness caused by their surreptitious utilization and simultaneous obfuscation of metaphysical assumptions. Yet both also place human beings squarely in the world, not solely as rational, conscious beings, thereby giving voice to the very ambiguity that Beauvoir seeks.
This paper explores the relationship that Beauvoir's thought has to Freud and Lévi-Strauss concerning the play of non-conscious forces in experience. Specifically, I investigate how certain constants such as the self-other dynamic, sexuality, and exchange work on individuals in ways that, while not deterministic, still influence subjectivity in less than conscious ways. Harvesting key notions of Hegelian identity formation, Beauvoir avoids an over-simplified rejection of the unconscious. Instead of relegating unconsciousness to the corner of bad faith, she shows how psychoanalytic and anthropological insights reveal layers of experience that are unconscious (by which I mean, not-conscious), universally shared (by which I mean constituting implicit aspects of our common humanity), and yet which do not determine individual action and choice.
There are cases of giving in to temptation in which it seems like there may be some rational failure in play even though akrasia is not, or at least not clearly, involved. Suppose, for example, that an agent resolves to eat no more than one piece of cake after dinner, knowing that having seconds will result in lethargy and a correspondingly idle evening. Suppose further that once the cake is on the table, at which point the pleasure of enjoying it and the displeasure of showing restraint are at hand, the agent's ranking of the options of having seconds reverses and he eagerly helps himself to a second piece, only later regretting his indulgence. At least on the surface, this is not a case of akrasia, but it still seems to be a case of giving in to temptation. Accepting that there are cases in which an agent gives in to temptation while acting in accordance with his current evaluative rankings, some philosophers have taken up the task of developing the idea that, other things equal, there is a rational failure in play in such cases. Two lines of thought have been developed: according to one line of thought, the failure comes down to deviating from a well-grounded resolution; according to the other line of thought, the failure comes down to being insufficiently responsive to the possibility of future regret. But, as I explain, current appeals to resolutions and regret and the verdicts provided face some serious challenges. Building on recent work concerning instrumental rationality, and delving into some important complications concerning human psychology, I revisit the relevant cases of temptation and analyze them in a way that puts resolutions, rational failure, and regret in their proper places.
Descartes uses the concept of certainty in a number of different ways. Peter Markie has identified three types of certainty in Descartes: psychological certainty, which is assent compelling, moral certainty, and metaphysical certainty. There is, however, a fourth category. A sense of absolute certainty corresponding with the absolute truth of God's perspective is unavailable to humans. Since all human certainty might be false from God's perspective, all human certainty is merely probable. Descartes says that such probable moral certainty is sufficient for all of life's purposes, but Markie characterizes moral certainty as of a lesser epistemological grade than metaphysical certainty. I argue that this is the wrong way of looking at moral certainty. Once we accept the metaphysical supposition that God exists, we can achieve metaphysical certainty to include scientific knowledge. We can, however, have at best moral certainty of this metaphysical supposition. The function of the arguments for the existence of God in the Meditations is to achieve moral certainty for God's existence. Metaphysical certainty, then, is dependent on moral certainty. Once the metaphysical supposition is made, however, it knits together a coherent metaphysical system of knowledge that is unavailable if we take propositions one at a time as being morally certain. Metaphysical certainty, then, has an elegance to it that is unavailable for moral certainty per se even though metaphysical certainty itself rests on a foundation that is no more than morally certain. Descartes thinks that the elegance of this coherent ordering tends toward absolute certainty.
In the 1680's Gottfried Leibniz and the Cartesian philosopher, Antoine Arnauld, exchanged a series of letters revolving around a manuscript of what would become Leibniz's Discourse on Metaphysics. One issue in particular that they discuss is modal metaphysics, that is, questions concerning necessity, possibility, and essence. Leibniz defends a view in which God, in some sense prior to creation, surveys an infinite number of possible worlds and creates the best of those possible worlds. Leibniz holds, at least in some sense, possibilism—the view that in addition to the actual world there exist other merely possible worlds. Further, it seems that Leibniz holds superessentialism—the view that substances have all of their properties essentially. In their correspondence, Arnauld criticizes Leibniz on both counts. While Arnauld's contributions to the correspondence are considered generally astute, even some of Arnauld's most sympathetic commentators suggest that his treatment of this topic are obscure at best. In this paper, I argue that Arnauld's criticisms of Leibniz are quite sophisticated and that Arnauld offers his own Cartesian inspired account in its place. In particular, I argue that Arnauld offers an account of possibility that has no use for possible worlds, is actualist (in that all that exists are actual things), is a modal actualist (treats modal properties as irreducible components of the actual world) and bases his account on the essences of created things. Finally, I briefly suggest that, while Leibniz has been far more influential, Arnauld actually got the better of the debate.
According to C.S. Peirce science is the sincere, passionate search for truth for its own sake. Logic, which for Peirce is to be generalized to semeiotics (the general theory of signs), is a normative discipline necessary to guide scientific inquiry. In his classic 1878 essay How to Make Our Ideas Clear he presented "the rule for attaining the third grade of clearness of apprehension" of a conception. He called this rule of logic "The Maxim of Pragmatism." Peirce later renamed it "pragmaticism," a name of which he wrote "is ugly enough to be safe from kidnappers" (EP II, p. 335). This was Peirce's way of informing readers that his pragmaticism is neither James's nor Dewey's pragmatism. The thesis of this paper is that in order to comprehend the Maxim of Pragmaticism, it is necessary to understand its close interconnections with the three major classes of arguments, namely, abduction, deduction, and induction. That highly significant claim has neither been explicated nor justified. This paper embarks on that voyage.
The launch will involve a brief examination of the 1878 statement of Peirce's maxim, a version he was repeatedly willing to use even as his semeiotics both broadened and deepened. Its application will be exemplified both by Peirce's definition of lithium and by a preliminary pragmaticistic definition of iron. The intimate relations between the Maxim of Pragmaticism and each of the summa genera of arguments will be elucidated and defended along with corresponding illustrations concerning the aforementioned pragmaticistic definition of iron.
A clear understanding of the biological term "species" is necessary for one to fully appreciate the origin, development, and reality of biodiversity. Unfortunately, the subject of species is rarely provided effectively in introductory or even advanced biology courses. Instead, an unsatisfying idea is promoted that there are a few species concepts competing for the top spot, from which we must choose the best. Yet there are many more concepts in addition to those few that have gained popularity. As a result, researchers tend to avoid the debate and choose a concept they deem most appropriate for their area of study. This has led to an entrenched view of a "species problem." However, most of the factors that maintain the problem's perceived intractability have been revealed and logically dismissed. It is time to recognize this, teach the concept of species appropriately, and relegate the species problem to history.
Most of seem to rely on intuitive moral judgments. In much academic life, we accept and dismiss moral theories by comparison with our moral intuitions. In practical life, many act frequently from moral intuitions. But is such self-trust epistemically reasonable?
I claim that the use of moral intuitions, and other justificationally impoverished moral judgment, is not epistemically problematic. Recent work in contemporary epistemology may show that justification is not always required. Entitlement theory — a.k.a. the theory of epistemic warrant - claims that we are entitled to begin trust our cognitive abilities, without proof and without argument. If we began by requiring positive accounts of the reliability our cognitive abilities, we would never be able to provide such an account, for the very construction of such arguments depends on prior trust. For example, we must begin by trusting our senses in order to construct the empirical science that can validate those senses. The only path to knowledge of any sort, says entitlement theory, is tentative self-trust.
I argue that entitlement theory extends to moral intuitions. We start empirical life by trusting our senses, and we start moral life by trusting our intuitions. Such initial epistemic generosity is not problematic; it is universal, and requisite. But that self-trust is tentative and vulnerable to future defeat. I argue that the defeasibility of our moral self-trust is significant: it shows, for example, that the methodology of corroboration and discorroboration has an important place in moral judgment.
In this presentation I will reflect on a fascinating intersection of physics, information theory, and philosophy. Some physicists (beginning with Zuse 1967; more famously Wheeler 1990) have asserted that the ultimate substance in the universe is not matter, mind, or energy, but information: all of "it" is built from "bits." Even earlier, the founder of modern-day information theory, Claude Shannon, employed the physical concept of entropy in order to sort information from noise in code strings. The proposed intersection of these fields is captured neatly in a provocative slogan: "Information theory is the thermodynamics of code strings, and thermodynamics is the information theory of particles in space" (Adriaans & van Benthem 2008). My presentation will not contain anything distinctively new or critical on the topic; this talk is more of an exploration for me, and so my aim is to be able to provide a competent and interesting overview of the topic, while pointing out possible philosophical consequences.
2:00 - 3:00
I argue that, considered through the lens of human development and capabilities approaches pioneered by Amartya Sen and Marth Nussbaum, anthropogenic climate change is a present diminishment of peace and justice for millions. This is so because it is a continuous diminishment of the moral right human beings have to certain forms of development and goods associated with the development of their capabilities. Certain human rights are being diminished and denied; yet I will not focus on the meaning of rights; but upon the meaning of the right to develop (and have developed) our capabilities of certain kinds. Anthropogenic climate change is a present and future danger in empirical and concrete terms to aspects of human development for which we are morally accountable. After making this case about the capabilities of human beings, and the demands of justice which attaches to them, I will extend the argument to nonhuman biota.
Of all the topics broached by Hume in his An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, the most space is devoted to a discussion of miracles. The argument of Section 10, "Of Miracles," takes an epistemic, experience-based approach to show that miracle reports are never reliable, and thus that positive beliefs about the phenomenon of miracles are never justified. It's influence extending to the present, Hume's epistemic approach is a common thread in negative arguments against miracles.
Here I argue, oddly enough, that Humean principles set down in Section 10 and elsewhere in the Enquiry, together with a plausible account of religious experience, lead to the conclusion that some miracles reports (i.e., testimony) are generally reliable. Since Hume's conclusion in "Of Miracles," is universal — that miracle reports are never reliable in terms of being able to establish that miracles occur, my argument suggests a flaw in Hume's reasoning — that he fails to consider the nature and prevalence of the religious experience of those he dubs "the religionists." Of course, this does nothing to show that miracles do occur; the point is that Humean-styled arguments of the sort discussed here don't properly construe a certain type of experience.
One vexing metaphysical problem for Aristotle's account of pleasure is how to explain the taking of pleasure in processes. Aristotle means to improve upon Plato's conception of pleasure by arguing that pleasure either is activity or supervenes on activity, and the pleasure does not have the metaphysical form of process. However, eating is both one of the most pleasant things we do and one of Aristotle's examples of a process. I argue that we can resolve this problem by thinking of the energeia-kinêsis distinction in a new way, a way that allows for the possibility that an action may be both a process and an activity. Thus it is wrong to think such actions are composed of two doings (Penner, et al.), or to think the status of such actions as either process or activity depends upon how we describe them (Ackrill, et al.). I argue that in eating a meal, for example, the activity we engage in consists in the exercise of our capacity for self-nourishment, and that this activity is normatively dependent upon the process form of what we are doing. The activity is unimpeded or perfected — i.e., it is pleasant — only when we are proceeding well in accordance with the standards given by the process form of the action.
Despite widespread skepticism concerning the project of defining art, philosophers and others working in aesthetics persist in developing theories that (they hope) can cover the variety of objects generally acknowledged to be art. Each of the more influential of these theories (aesthetic, institutional, and historical definitions prominent among them) faces various difficulties that have been widely rehearsed in the literature. In this paper, I examine a much less discussed theory—what I term the "Art Type Theory"—that defines an artwork in terms of belonging to an established artistic form (painting, sculpture, etc.) and then attempts to specify what criteria established forms typically satisfy. By focusing on what defines an established artistic form, rather than on what defines an artwork, this approach plausibly avoids the objections to which other more prominent definitions of art are subject.
In this paper, I show that there is an important notion of moral self-interest in Kant's moral philosophy. It is often assumed that any self-interest is entirely incompatible with acting from duty. However, I argue that such moral self-interest can be a part of acting from duty in several ways both in terms of duties to self and (more minimally) duties to others. One reason articulating this notion of moral self-interest is important is to counteract the tendency to interpret Kantian moral motivation as a rejection of the many interests that give meaning to life. The notion of moral self-interest (that is both implicit and explicit in Kant's moral philosophy) helps to dispel such an interpretation. It also provides support for the Secondary Motive Model of acting from duty—the idea that one can act from duty as secondary motive and not only as a primary motive. This implies one can act from duty in an important sense even if one's predominant motive is something other than duty. I further show how understanding the relation between moral self-interest and acting from duty (whether as a primary or secondary motive) prevents a common assumption that can undermine the entire notion of acting from duty: the assumption that any awareness of one's interests precludes one from doing what is right because it is right. I argue that once we understand the way that acting from duty both transcends selfishness and yet involves what I call moral self-interest, this psychological egoist assumption loses its force.
The debate over the experiential quality of harm, as developed by George Pitcher and Walter Glannon in the posthumous harm literature, needs to be redrawn in terms of Amartya Sen's view on position relativity and authorship invariance in regard to moral evaluations. Once this is done, we can see the problem not as a conflict between intuitions about the experiential quality of harm, but as a question of what the relevant position is that should be taken when evaluating well-being. I argue that a third-person position should be chosen because it is the only position in which we have access to all of the relevant facts needed to assess a certain state of affairs. I then argue that among competing third-person positions, a position which uses Glannon's criteria for evaluating harm cannot be accepted because it fails to maintain authorship invariance. Once the third-person position is accepted, and Glannon's version of such a position deemed untenable, Glannon's charge against Pitcher is untenable.
It is becoming increasingly common to find journals publishing articles that demonstrate psychological correlates (e.g. Adelstein, Deyong, Arvan) and biological correlates (e.g. Harris, Hsu, Stern) of various self-reported beliefs and judgments. It is perhaps most common to find articles reporting on political beliefs and judgments (e.g. Amodio, Arvan, Hatemi, Kanai, Tost). This paper sets out to show that other types of belief are also worthy of study. For example, self-reported philosophical beliefs. The hypothesis is this: variations in peoples' biology—perhaps their neurobiology in particular—could correlate with variations in one's proclivity towards or aversion to particular philosophical beliefs and judgments. In the first section of the paper, I hypothesize about what we should expect to learn about our philosophical beliefs from our biology. Before reaching the concluding remarks I mention some philosophical and methodological concerns with the suggested research, some objections to the project, and finally a case for the studying philosophical beliefs is worthwhile. While many of the conclusions reached by this study will be illuminating to philosophers, none of it should be devastating to philosophy, but it could inspire methodological reform. At the very least, for example, the suggested research will likely report findings which should motivate philosophers to reappraise their appeals to the intuitiveness of propositions. After all, these judgments are usually contingent upon biological properties more than any known truth-tracking properties.
I argue (1) that Kant has no theoretical commitment to the existence of things in themselves and (2) that the belief that we know things in themselves exist is a transcendental illusion. Regarding my first claim, the Critique of Pure Reason holds only that we can say very little about what such things would be like were they to exist. Although Kant does say that in a few passages that things in themselves affect our sensibility and that we must assume that things in themselves underlie appearances, I argue that Kant is only describing unwarranted assumptions we make. All we can definitively say about things in themselves is what they would be like were there to be any. Regarding my second claim, Kant holds that we must assume the existence of things in themselves in order to account for the affection of our sensibility and in order to provide an unconditioned to underlie the conditioned. In discussing specific things in themselves such as God, the soul, or the systematic unity of nature, Kant argues that these are unavoidable assumptions that can deceive us into thinking we know they exist when we do not. Kant says as much about things in themselves in general without ever calling the subjectively necessary assumption of their existence a transcendental illusion. But that is precisely what they must be if what he says is true.
Recent work in aesthetics has drawn on the resources of cognitive science and psychology to explain fiction's capacity for moral persuasion: the power that fiction has to change our moral beliefs, attitudes, and actions. The picture that emerges is one according to which a fiction is a set of instructions for imagining. A normal consumer makes-believe that the propositions within the fiction are true, engaging her emotions and desires. Using genre and other cultural cues, the consumer will import some of what she knows about the real world into the fiction, and she will export symmetrically some of what she imagines so that it becomes part of her genuine beliefs, attitudes, and actions.
We argue that the emerging analyses of moral persuasion are impoverished because of the comparative inattention philosophers have given to expressive works of art, and we illuminate this through a philosophical investigation into a controversial performance in 2011, artist Mike Daisey's monologue concerning the conditions at Apple factories in China. Our discussion will show that because theatrical performances are not static, and there is not a fixed concept of a normal consumer who is well placed to understand the work, consequently what is exported is not necessarily symmetrical to what is imported. Contemporary philosophical analyses of moral persuasion are thus incomplete because they have focused primarily on static works of art such as novels and films.
Joseph Butler (Fifteen Sermons) characterizes resentment as a defense mechanism. When suitably constrained, resentment is morally acceptable, and it leaves room for possibly forgiving others' wrongdoing.
However, resentment can present a barrier to forgiveness in at least two ways. First, our resentment has a tendency to be exaggerated—overestimating the harm or wrong done. We can attribute much of this to partiality toward oneself and one's "near and dear." A more impartial, or dispassionate, perspective is likely to reduce the level of resentment. Second, resentment can breed more of the same. If someone expresses anger at us for allegedly wronging them, our first response might well be to be angered by his/her (unfair) allegation. This resentment, too, may be exaggerated. However, soon the mutual exchange of animosity may have raged out of control—not only by heating up the exchange, but also by enlisting others on either side of the issue. Reconstructing what has (or has not) happened with fairness and candor may be very difficult, if not impossible.
Here we see the destructive forces of resentment at work. Butler's recommends forgiveness as a constructive response. Beginning with an analysis of Butler's two sermons, Charles L. Griswold (Forgiveness) explores the conditions that, ideally, should be met if forgiveness is warranted. However, we will argue, Griswold's conditions pose serious difficulties. Butler himself focuses more on what is needed from those who complain of wrongdoing than on conditions those to be forgiven must meet. Our discussion will address these contrasting views.