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…

Between the Proximal and the Distal: An Interpretation of Quine’s Semantics

Issue: • Author/s: Marta Maria Vilardo
Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

The debate on internalism/externalism both in semantics and in epistemology concerns the core relations between the mind and the world. I will use this dichotomy to assess whether and how optimal coordination can be worked out between the different parts of Quine’s philosophy: semantics and epistemology in his earlier development. Since Quine has emphasized that his examination of translation is epistemological and since his epistemological project is an internalist one, it should be logical to assume that his semantics proceeded in the same way. But in Word and Object it…

Decoupling Accuracy from Fitness

Issue: • Author/s: Roberto Horácio de Sá Pereira
Topics: Cognitive science, Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of mind, Theoretical philosophy

Tyler Burge (2010) provided a scathing critique of all programs for naturalizing concepts of representation, especially teleological naturalizing programs. He intended to demonstrate that “representational content” is a concept that cannot be reduced to more fundamental biological or physical ideas. According to him, since the 1970s, the concept of representational content has been firmly established in cognitive psychology as a mature science and utilized in adequate explanations. Since Dretske’s program is Burge’s primary objective, this paper concentrates on Dretske’s perspective. Following Burge’s criticisms, I concur that Dretske’s naturalizing program trivializes…

Doing, Allowing, Framing: A Case for Moral Heuristics

Issue: • Author/s: Camilla F. Colombo
Topics: Ethics, Metaethics, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action, Theoretical philosophy

Is doing harm morally worse than allowing it to occur? Our every-day intuitions, supported by a long-standing tradition in moral philosophy, suggest that this is the case. Nonetheless, the study of framing effects and cognitive biases has pointed out that our intuitions over the doing/allowing distinction are far from robust and reliable. This line of research casts doubts over the adequacy of our intuitions in grounding the moral principle “doing is worse than allowing” and seems to downplay the doing/allowing distinction as a cognitive bias or as a byproduct of…

Eliminating Race: A Philosophical Discussion

Issue: • Author/s: Ludovica Lorusso
Topics: Epistemology, Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy of Race, Philosophy of science, Theoretical philosophy

In this paper I face the issue of eliminativism about race. I suggest that a partial as opposed to a blank eliminativism is the epistemically correct philosophical position, by remarking that there are different concepts of “race” and for each of them different philosophical and scientific considerations apply. I first introduce the eliminativist position and show that different forms of eliminativism exist; I then examine how distinct kinds of eliminativism apply to the concept of “bio-genomic” and “social race”, respectively, across different scientific fields. I conclude that while the concept…

Free Will in Leibniz’s Thought

Issue: • Author/s: Gianfranco Mormino
Topics: Ethics, Metaethics, Moral Philosophy, Theoretical philosophy

Since the beginning of his activity, Leibniz considers the notion of free will as absurd; he holds this notion not only unnecessary to found moral responsibility but also as an impediment to the correct understanding of divine and human retribution. What prevents many readers to accept this view is Leibniz's insistence on contingency as a requisite of free actions: I argue that the possibility of ‘being otherwise’ in a different possible world has nothing to do with freedom, which is a perfection, but rather explains the fact that our actions…

Free Will: A Pseudo-Problem? Schlick on a Longstanding Metaphysical and Ethical Debate

Issue: • Author/s: Sofia Bonicalzi
Topics: Ethics, Metaethics, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of action, Theoretical philosophy

Free will, famously described by David Hume as “the most contentious question of metaphysics, the most contentious science”, has long been a subject of intense debate, particularly regarding its compatibility with a deterministic universe and its implications for ethical questions, notably moral responsibility. Moritz Schlick, a leading figure in the Vienna Circle and the neopositivist movement, challenges the validity of this debate, asserting that it arises from linguistic and semantic confusions surrounding terms like ‘freedom’, ‘determinism’, and ‘will’. Reflecting the neopositivist disdain for metaphysics and normative ethics, Schlick posits that…

Having Experience and Knowing Experience: A Case for Illusionism about Phenomenal Consciousness

Issue: • Author/s: Daniel Shabasson
Topics: Cognitive science, Epistemology, Philosophy of mind, Theoretical philosophy

Most philosophers think that phenomenal consciousness is real and that it has two components: an experiential component—a state that is subjectively ‘like something’ for a subject of experience; and a cognitive component—the subject’s awareness of the experiential component and knowledge of what it’s like. Illusionists, by contrast, claim that phenomenal consciousness is an illusion. It does not exist but only seems to exist (Frankish 2016). Although illusionism is highly counterintuitive, I shall claim that it is probably true. For I shall argue that phenomenal realism—the view that phenomenal consciousness is…

Hegel on Free Will

Issue: • Author/s: Thomas Meyer
Topics: Ethics, Metaethics, Metaphysics, Moral Philosophy, Theoretical philosophy

In this essay I present Hegel’s philosophy of free will. Although free will plays a crucial role in Hegel's practical philosophy, freedom is also part of his philosophy of mind, his philosophy of nature, and his Science of Logic. After examining the philosophical motivations that led Hegel to create his system of philosophy, I will outline the basic concept of free will presented in the introduction to his Elements of the Philosophy of Right. This concept, however, still allows for free will skepticism, which motivates me to reconstruct the metaphysical…

How to Eliminate Race from Human Microbiome Research

Issue: • Author/s: Abigail Nieves Delgado, Jan Baedke
Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy of Medicine, Theoretical philosophy

Recent human microbiome research has suggested that racial patterns between different groups of people can be understood as variation in how many and which microbes live in and on their bodies. Such racial classifications (from ‘Indigenous’ to ‘Black’ or ‘Caucasian’) are said to be helpful to better grasp microbiome-linked health-disparities (especially in the Global South) and diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. In this paper, we argue that this assumption is illusive. We identify four different scenarios and argumentative patterns in current human microbiome research, which state that…
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