Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy


Action-Perception Matching in Human Cultural Evolution: Updates from the Cognitive Science Debate

Issue: • Author/s: Antonella Tramacere, Fabrizio Mafessoni
Topics: Cognitive science, Epistemology, Philosophy of action, Philosophy of language, Philosophy of science, Theoretical philosophy

Analyses of action-perception matching mechanisms, such as the Mirror Neuron System (MNS), have been prominent in evolutionary accounts of human cognition. Some scholars have interpreted data on the MNS to suggest that the human capacity to acquire and transmit cultural information is a learned product of cultural evolution (the Culture not Biology Account of cultural learning). Others have interpreted results related to the MNS to suggest that cultural learning in humans result from both cultural and biological evolution (the Culture per biology Account of cultural learning). In this paper, we…

Age and Self-Knowledge

Issue: • Author/s: Marianna Bergamaschi Ganapini
Topics: Epistemology, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action, Philosophy of mind

This paper proposes an analysis of some possible implications of aging focusing the effects that aging may have on one’s self-knowledge. The goal of the paper is in fact to connect research on aging with different accounts of self-knowledge and put forward the following hypothesis: (i) in the late stages of our lives we adopt a different way of looking at ourselves, and (ii) there are three main factors likely causing this change: cognitive problems (episodic memory impairment), motivational factors (coherence-seeking), and loss of a forward-looking way of structuring our…

Agency without Action: On Responsibility for Omissions

Issue: • Author/s: Sofia Bonicalzi, Mario De Caro
Topics: Ethics, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action

In the last few years, there has been a growing philosophical interest in the problem of moral responsibility for omissions. Like actions, however, omissions are not all-of-a-kind. Recently, most of the research effort in this field has been devoted to the so-called unwitting omissions. However, in some cases, people make clear-eyed, or quasi-clear-eyed, decisions about not interfering with a given course of action potentially having unethical consequences (let’s call these decisions witting omissions). In this paper, we abstract away from the epistemic concerns that typically refer to unwitting omissions to…

Charity and Altruism: Rational Requirements for Action

Issue: • Author/s: Caterina Di Maio
Topics: Epistemology, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action

This paper discusses the possibility of altruism based on the linguistic, and then practical notion of charity, to distinguish it from psychological and ethical selfishness. My starting hypothesis is, as Thomas Nagel argued, that altruism could be interpreted as a rational requirement for action. This hypothesis arises from a specific approach in analytical philosophy to the problem of explaining action, which combines the concepts of charity and altruism in a single interpretative framework about others. My aim is to present a common thread linking the thought of Willard Van Orman…

Hume on Free Will

Issue: • Author/s: Lorenzo Greco
Topics: Epistemology, Ethics, Metaphysics, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action, Theoretical philosophy

In this essay, I discuss David Hume’s reasoning on free will as he presents it in A Treatise of Human Nature and An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. I proceed by showing how Hume’s compatibilist solution acquires meaning in the light of his sentimentally based science of human nature, which conceives human beings as reasonable, social, and active creatures. Within Hume’s empiricist, naturalistic, and sceptical approach, we deal only with perceptions and never with things themselves, and human experience is structured in a causal order which allows us to organise both…

Locke on Free Will and Epistemic Responsibility

Issue: • Author/s: Samuel C. Rickless
Topics: Epistemology, Ethics, Metaethics, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action, Theoretical philosophy

This article summarizes John Locke’s considered views on freedom, explaining that freedom is a power of the mind to act in accordance with its volitions, that freedom is a power that can belong only to substances, that we have the freedom to will in many cases, including the power to hold our wills undetermined and thereby suspend the prosecution of our desires.  This is a seemingly reasonable account of how our minds work, and should work, when we make (important) decisions.  But Locke takes us to be morally responsible and…

Our Admiration for Exemplars and the Impartial Spectator Perspective: Moral Exemplarism and Adam Smith’s ‘Theory of Moral Sentiments’

Issue: • Author/s: Karsten R. Stueber
Topics: Ethics, Metaethics, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action, Philosophy of mind

This essay will discuss the philosophical viability of Linda Zagzebski’s refreshingly radical theory of moral exemplarism that attempts to elucidate the nature of human morality through an analysis of the structure of our admiration for morally exemplary individuals. After raising some systematic worries about exemplarism, I will turn to Adam Smith and his Theory of Moral Sentiments. There are indeed strands in Smith’s thoughts that contain an exemplarist flavor. Nevertheless, from the Smithian perspective that I favor, our moral concepts emerge from the everyday practice of holding each other morally…

Spinoza on Freedom, Feeling Free, and Acting for the Good

Issue: • Author/s: Leonardo Moauro
Topics: Epistemology, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action, Theoretical philosophy

In the Ethics, Spinoza famously rejects freedom of the will. He also offers an error theory for why many believe, falsely, that the will is free. Standard accounts of his arguments for these claims focus on their efficacy against incompatibilist views of free will. For Spinoza, the will cannot be free since it is determined by an infinite chain of external causes. And the pervasive belief in free will arises from a structural limitation of our self-knowledge: because we are aware of our actions but unaware of their causes, we…

Virtue, Character, and Moral Responsibility: Against the Monolithic View

Issue: • Author/s: Giulia Luvisotto, Johannes Roessler
Topics: Epistemology, Ethics, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action

A traditional tenet of virtue ethics is that a proper moral assessment of an action needs to be informed by a view of the agent; in particular, a view of their virtues or vices, as exhibited in their action. This picture has been challenged on the grounds that it is revisionary and ill-motivated. The key claim is that we are ordinarily disposed to judge the moral merits of particular actions independently of any view of the character of the agent, and that there is nothing wrong with that practice. In this paper, we identify…

Coping: A Philosophical Exploration

Issue: Issue 16 • Author/s: Federica Berdini
Topics: Ethics, Metaethics, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action

Coping is customarily understood as those thoughts and actions humans adopt while undergoing situations appraised as threatening and stressful, or when people’s sense of who they are and what they should do is significantly challenged. In these cases, coping thoughts and actions help one endure and hopefully overcome these stresses, threats, and/or challenges. Discussions of coping are common among psychologists, but nearly absent from the philosophical literature despite their importance in theories of agency and for closely related concepts like resilience. Building from psychological theories of coping, I offer a…
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