Philosophical Quarterly

The Review of Metaphysics, September 2000 | Go to article overview

Philosophical Quarterly


Vol. 50, No. 201, October 2000

Can We Infer Naturalism from Scepticism?, WARD JONES

Hume, as well as a number of more recent writers, claims that epistemological scepticism gives us reason to think that our beliefs are nonepistemically determined. Because some body of propositions that we believe are unjustifiable, the argument goes, our beliefs in those propositions must be determined by non-truth-conducive considerations. The author argues, initially, that skepticism does not, by itself, entail Humean naturalism. In the remainder of the paper the author develops an argument from skepticism to naturalism which has considerable promise. This more complex argument is built around two considerations: (i) If a subject accepts a local skeptical argument against one of her beliefs and still does not give it up, then we have very good, if not conclusive, reason to think that her belief is nonepistemically determined. (ii) It seems initially plausible that global skepticism can have no effect on the beliefs it targets, even if we were to accept it. Unfortunately, however, even this argument ultimately fails to establish any connection between skepticism and Humean naturalism.--Correspondence to: piwj@giraffe.ru.ac.za

Realism, Functionalism and the Conditional Analysis of Dispositions, WOLFGANG MALZKORN

The so-called conditional analysis of dispositions, that is, the analysis of disposition concepts in terms of conditionals, has recently been challenged by C. B. Martin's electro-fink examples. By means of those examples Martin tries to refute the project of a conditional analysis of dispositions in general and to defend, thereby, a realist account of dispositions. In replying to Martin, D. Lewis presented a new and complex conditional analysis which is not subject to Martin's counter-examples. However, according to Lewis's analysis dispositions are second-order properties and thus causally inefficacious. In this paper the author argues that dispositions are causally efficacious properties and, therefore, deserve a different analysis. The author gives such an analysis in terms of counterfactual conditionals which is also not subject to Martin's counterexamples. Moreover, the author tries to show that his analysis is by no means antirealist. To the contrary, his conceptual analysis of dispositions does not imply an ontological reduction that would deprive dispositions of their status as real properties of things.--Correspondence to: malzkorn@uni-bonn.de

The Apology Paradox, JANNA THOMPSON

Some leaders and citizens think it appropriate to apologize for the historical injustices like slavery or dispossession of indigenous people. But can we sincerely say "sorry" for the deeds of our forebears? By making an apology we are expressing regrets for what they did--we are saying that we prefer that these deeds hadn't been done. However, if these deeds hadn't been done, history would have been different, and probably we would not exist. …

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