Ergo is a general, open access philosophy journal accepting submissions on all philosophical topics and from all philosophical traditions. This includes, among other things: history of philosophy, work in both the analytic and continental traditions, as well as formal and empirically informed philosophy. Ergo is strongly committed to diversity and especially welcomes submissions from members of groups currently underrepresented in philosophy.
Submission and publication are free, and authors retain copyright under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 license. Generous support from the undergraduate departments of philosophy at the University of Toronto's St. George and Mississauga campuses and the University of Toronto's graduate department of philosophy make this arrangement possible.
Papers are published as they are accepted; there is no regular publication schedule.
Joseph Y. Halpern
I show how thinking in terms of the protocol used can help clarify problems related to anthropic reasoning and self-location, such as the Doomsday Argument and the Sleeping Beauty Problem.
In his seminal “Outline of a Theory of Truth” Kripke (1975) proposed understanding modal predicates as complex expressions defined by a suitable modal operator and a truth predicate. In the case of the alethic modality of logical or metaphysical necessity, this proposal amounts to understanding the modal predicate ‘is necessary’ as the complex predicate ‘is necessarily true’. In this piece we work out the details of Kripke’s proposal, which we label the Kripke reduction, from a proof-theoretic perspective. To this end we construct a theory for the modal predicate and a theory of truth formulated in a language with a modal operator and show that the modal predicate theory is interpretable in the theory of truth where the interpretation translates the modal predicate ‘N’ by the complex predicate ‘☐T’, the truth predicate modified by the modal operator. In addition, we show that our work can be viewed as the proof-theoretic counterpart to the semantic Kripke reduction recently carried out by Halbach and Welch (2009), which is based on Kripke’s theory of truth.
I explore an interesting but largely unappreciated logical difficulty in the attempt to identify phenomena that are prima facie different, namely that, due to problems involving regress, it may be arbitrarily difficult or impossible to explain away the differences, even for genuine identicals whose apparent differences are illusory. I show that the circumstances in which this occurs are approximated in the context of the problem of consciousness, and that this may explain why proposed identifications between mental and physical phenomena typically give rise to how-possibly questions.
This paper offers a new argument that your reasons for believing or acting need not be true. It proceeds indirectly through an account of what it takes to be happy that p. To be happy that p is for p to be among your reasons for being happy. That’s because questions about why you’re happy and what you’re happy is the case are interchangeable. But, I argue, it is possible to be happy that p even when p is false. In cases in which you believe falsely that p and sincerely assert that you are happy that p, you are still expressing happiness about something. To be happy about something is to be happy that some proposition is the case. In the cases in question, it is implausible that the proposition you are happy is the case is a proposition about the evidence or how things seem or what you believe. The only other option is that the proposition you are happy is the case is p itself. Along the way, I discuss linguistic data that seems to counter the view that you can be happy that falsehoods are true. Though initially suggesting a more principled argument that you can only be happy about truths, both the linguistic data and the principled argument can ultimately be defused. A similar principled argument for the factivity of ‘knows,’ however, remains happily untouched.
Substructural theories of truth are theories based on logics that do not include the full complement of usual structural rules. Existing substructural approaches fall into two main families: noncontractive approaches and nontransitive approaches. This paper provides a sketch of these families, and argues for two claims: first, that substructural theories are better-positioned than other theories to grapple with the truth-theoretic paradoxes, and second—more tentatively—that nontransitive approaches are in turn better-positioned than noncontractive approaches.
Why Is There Female Under-Representation among Philosophy Majors? Evidence of a Pre-University Effect
Sam Baron, Tom Dougherty, and Kristie Miller
Why does female under-representation emerge during undergraduate education? At the University of Sydney, we surveyed students before and after their first philosophy course. We failed to find any evidence that this course disproportionately discouraged female students from continuing in philosophy relative to male students. Instead, we found evidence of an interaction effect between gender and existing attitudes about philosophy coming into tertiary education that appears at least partially responsible for this poor retention. At the first lecture, disproportionately few female students intended to major. Further, at the first lecture, female students were less interested in philosophy, were less self-confident about philosophy, and were less able to imagine themselves as philosophers. Similarly, female students predicted they would feel more uncomfortable in philosophy classes than male students did. Further study with a control is warranted to determine whether this interaction effect is peculiar to philosophy, or whether it is indicative of a more general gendered trend amongst first year undergraduate students.
In a stimulating recent paper, “Violations of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (in Leibniz and Spinoza),” Michael Della Rocca argues that rationalists face a daunting dilemma: either abandon the Principle of Sufficient Reason or embrace a radical, Parmenidian-style monism. The present paper argues that neither historical nor contemporary rationalists need be afraid of Della Rocca’s dilemma. The second section reconstructs Della Rocca’s argument in five steps. The third section argues that Leibniz’s treatment of relations undermines one of those steps in particular and thus provides him—as well as contemporary rationalists—with a way out. The fourth section argues that a similar way out is available to Spinoza, and that it’s a better way out than either of the two options Della Rocca offers on Spinoza’s behalf. The essay concludes with an historically-minded suggestion for those eager to revitalize the once-again popular notion of grounding.