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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Graduate Students Publish Up a Storm Recently

Posted on: July 7, 2020

Bruno-Niño, Teresa & Werner, Preston J. 2019. You Oughta Know: A Defense of Obligations to Learn, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4). DOI: 10.1080/00048402.2018.1547915

  • Most of us spend a significant portion of our lives learning, practicing, and performing a wide range of skills. Many of us also have a great amount of control over which skills we learn and develop. From choices as significant as career pursuits to those as minor as how we spend our weeknight leisure time, we exercise a great amount of agency over what we know and what we can do. In this paper we argue, using a framework first developed by Carbonell [2013], that in many real-world circumstances we have moral obligations to develop some skills rather than others.

Bruno-Niño, Teresa. 2019. Review of Happiness Explained: What Human Flourishing is and What We Can Do to Promote It by Paul Anand. Teaching Philosophy (42, 3).

de Melo, Thiago. 2019. Essence and Naturalness. The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol 69, Issue 276: 534-554.

  • According to sparse modalism, the notion of essence can be analysed in terms of necessity and naturalness. In this paper, I develop and defend a version of sparse modalism that is equipped with a non-standard, relativized conception of naturalness. According to this conception, properties and relations can be natural to different degrees relative to different kinds of things, and relations can be natural to different degrees relative to different slots. I argue that this relativized version of sparse modalism can accommodate various cases that the standard, non-relativized version can’t. The alternative version can accommodate cases where a relation is essential to a relatum but merely necessary to another, cases where a property is essential to an object but merely necessary to another, and cases where a less-than-perfectly natural property is essential to an object.

Garland, Carolyn. 2020. Grief and Composition as Identity. The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol 70, Issue 280: 464-479.

  • ‘It feels like I have lost a part of myself’ is frequently uttered by those grieving the death of a loved one. Despite the ubiquity of such utterances, and the palpable sense that they express something true, few philosophers have considered what, if anything, accounts for their truth. Here, I develop a suggestion from Donald Baxter according to which Composition as Identity provides us a means to understand the grief utterances literally. In doing so, I identify and develop a version of Leibniz's Law required for Composition as Identity to account for the truth of the grief utterances. In turn, this principle helps shed light on Composition as Identity's central claim: that the parts are identical to the whole. By considering objections to the resulting view, I construct a list of desiderata for other philosophers interested in accounting for the grief utterances.

Javier-Castellanos, Arturo. 2019. Quantifier Variance, Ontological Pluralism and Ideal Languages. The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol 69, Issue 275: 277-293.

  • Kris McDaniel has recently defended a criterion for being an ontological pluralist that classifies the quantifier variantist as one. In this paper, I argue that this is a mistake. There is an important difference between the two views, which is sometimes obscured by a common view in the metaphysics of fundamentality. According to the simple analysis, a language is ideal—it allows for a maximally metaphysically perspicuous description of reality—just in case all its primitives are perfectly natural. I argue that this analysis struggles to distinguish quantifier variance from ontological pluralism, and then I discuss various accounts that can do better. I then propose a criterion for being an ontological pluralist that does not misclassify the quantifier variantist. Finally, I discuss some additional advantages of my proposal.

Javier-Castellanos, Arturo. 2016. Duplication and Collapse. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy, 5/3: 196-202.

  • Kris McDaniel has argued that strong composition as identity entails a principle he calls the Plural Duplication Principle (PDP ), and that (PDP ) is inconsistent with the possibility of strongly emergent properties. Theodore Sider has objected that this possibility is only inconsistent with a closely analogous principle he calls the Set Duplication Principle (SDP ). According to Sider, however, the friend of strong composition as identity is under no pressure to accept (SDP ). In this paper, I argue that she has strong reason to accept either (SDP ) or a principle that is also inconsistent with the possibility of strongly emergent properties.

Looney, W. Scott. 2020. Problems for Predictive Information. Erkenntnis DOI:

  • Predictive information is a popular and promising family of information-based theories of biological communication. It is difficult to adjudicate between predictive information-based theories and influence-based theories of biological communication because the same acts seem to count as communicative on both theories. In this paper, I argue that predictive information theories and influence-based theories give importantly different descriptions of deceptive signals in some non-evolutionarily stable communicative systems by citing a novel case observed in nature. Moreover, predictive information gives a counter-intuitive description to the case while some of its rival influence-based theories do not. I argue that there are no clear ways for defenders of predictive information to respond to this apparent problem without sacrificing important virtues of their theory or deflating the difference between the rival views.

Patterson, Adam. Forthcoming. Epistemic Slurs: A Novel Explicanda & Adequacy Constraint for Slur Theories. Erkenntnis.

  • I argue that there are slurs that are distinctly derogatory insofar as they only derogate their target’s epistemic faculties or capacities qua group member. I call these slurs epistemic slurs. Given that slur theories should explain the derogatory nature of all slurs, any comprehensive slur theory should be able to explain the derogatory nature of the epistemic slurs. I argue, however, that two particular expressivist theories of slurs cannot explain their distinctive derogatory nature. The epistemic slurs thus constitute a novel explanatory problem for these expressivist slur theories. Yet I argue that a semantic theory of slurs, combinatorial externalism, can explain the distinctive derogatory nature of the epistemic slurs in which case these slurs constitute a novel explanatory advantage for combinatorial externalism. Whether the epistemic slurs constitute a novel explanatory problem or advantage for any other slur theories remains to be seen.

Runner, Jeffrey & Head, Kellan D.L. 2014. What Can Visual World Eye-Tracking Tell Us About the Binding Theory? In Christopher Piñón (ed.), Empirical Issues in Syntax and Semantics 10, Paris. CSSP– Colloque de Syntaxe et Sémantique à Paris: 269-286.

  • This paper presents the results of a visual world eye-tracking experiment that tests two claims in the literature: that the Binding Theory (BT) is a set of “linked” constraints as in the classic BT (Chomsky 1981) and HPSG’s BT (Sag, Wasow, and Bender 2003); and that the BT applies as an initial filter on processing (Nicol and Swinney 1989, Sturt 2003). Our results instead support two different claims: that the constraint on pronouns and the constraint on reflexives are separate constraints that apply differently and with different timelines, in line with “primitives of binding” theory, Reuland (2001, 2011); and that neither constraint applies as an initial filter on processing, as proposed in Badecker and Straub (2002).

Simmons, Byron. 2018. Impure Concepts and Non-Qualitative Properties. Synthese

  • Some properties such as having a beard and being a philosopher are intuitively qualitative, while other properties such as being identical to Plato and being a student of Socrates are intuitively non-qualitative. It is often assumed that, necessarily, a property is qualitative if and only if it can be designated descriptively without the aid of directly referential devices (such as demonstratives, indexicals, or proper names). I argue that this linguistic thesis fails in both directions: there might be non-qualitative properties that can be designated descriptively, and there appear to be qualitative properties that can only be designated directly. I conclude that while the linguistic thesis is ultimately untenable as stated, it can be plausibly recast as a thesis about our concepts rather than the properties they designate.