Ergo is an 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.

Current Issue(s)

Epistemic Exploitation

Nora Berenstain

Epistemic exploitation occurs when privileged persons compel marginalized persons to educate them about the nature of their oppression. I argue that epistemic exploitation is marked by unrecognized, uncompensated, emotionally taxing, coerced epistemic labor. The coercive and exploitative aspects of the phenomenon are exemplified by the unpaid nature of the educational labor and its associated opportunity costs, the double bind that marginalized persons must navigate when faced with the demand to educate, and the need for additional labor created by the default skepticism of the privileged. I explore the connections between epistemic exploitation and the two varieties of epistemic injustice that Fricker (2007) identifies, testimonial and hermeneutical injustice. I situate epistemic exploitation within Dotson’s (2012; 2014) framework of epistemic oppression, and I address the role that epistemic exploitation plays in maintaining active ignorance and upholding dominant epistemic frameworks.

Cabbage à la Descartes

Devin Sanchez Curry

This article offers an interpretation of Descartes’s method of doubt. It wields an examination of Descartes's pedagogy—as exemplified by The Search for Truth as well as the Meditations—to make the case for the sincerity (as opposed to artificiality) of the doubts engendered by the First Meditation. Descartes was vigilant about balancing the need to use his method of doubt to achieve absolute certainty with the need to compensate for the various foibles of his scholastic and unschooled readers. Nevertheless, Descartes endeavored to instill willful, context-independent, universal doubt across his readership. If all goes well, readers of the Meditations are like method actors; the Meditator is the character they are meant to bring to life, via the method of meditating on reasons for doubt. The article concludes with the suggestion that Descartes was the same kind of skeptic as the early Academic skeptics Arcesilaus and Carneades.

Reference Magnetism as a Solution to the Moral Twin Earth Problem

Billy Dunaway and Tristram McPherson

‘Moral Twin Earth’ thought experiments constitute a central semantic challenge to naturalistic normative realism. This paper first outlines a general framework for understanding the challenge, according to which (i) central normative terms are semantically stable in ways that contrast with many other paradigmatic descriptive terms, and (ii) realists should expect to have a unified metasemantic theory that explains the difference in stability between the normative and descriptive terms in question. The most attractive way of meeting this challenge, we argue, appeals to the idea of reference magnetism. According to this influential idea, some properties are reference magnets, which (roughly) means that they are comparatively easy to refer to. We argue that (together with other plausible assumptions) reference magnetism can provide an attractive explanation of both the general phenomenon of varying semantic stability, and the distinctive semantic stability of normative terms. We illustrate this by showing that reference magnetism can smoothly vindicate plausible judgments about Moral Twin Earth cases. We conclude by offering an alternative gloss on our account, for those wary of the metaphysical commitments we propose. The alternative account adapts our proposal to provide a debunking explanation of the apparent semantic stability of normative terms.

Origins of Life Research Does Not Rest on a Mistake

Brian Knab

I defend origins of life research against an argument, given by Roger White in 2007, that it rests on a mistake. I show how the Bayesian machinery can illuminate the rational search for alternative explanations of inexplicable, improbable data, and in particular how it can illuminate the rational search for a secular explanation of the origins of life and of the fine-tuning of the universe.

A Plea for Anti-Anti-Individualism: How Oversimple Psychology Misleads Social Policy

Alex Madva

This essay responds to the criticism that contemporary efforts to redress discrimination and inequality are overly individualistic. Critics of individualism emphasize that these systemic social ills stem not from the prejudice, irrationality, or selfishness of individuals, but from underlying structural-institutional forces. They are skeptical, therefore, of attempts to change individuals’ attitudes while leaving structural problems intact. I argue that the insistence on prioritizing structural over individual change is problematic and misleading. My view is not that we should instead prioritize individual change, but that individual changes are integral to the success of structural changes. These theorists urge a redirection of attention, claiming that we should think less about the individual and more about the social. What they should urge instead is that we think differently about the individual, and thereby think differently about the social.

Folk Intuitions about the Causal Theory of Perception

Pendaran Roberts, Keith Allen, and Kelly Ann Schmidtke

It is widely held by philosophers not only that there is a causal condition on perception but also that the causal condition is a conceptual truth about perception. One influential line of argument for this claim is based on intuitive responses to a style of thought experiment popularized by Grice. Given the significance of these thought experiments to the literature, it is important to see whether the folk in fact respond to these cases in the way that philosophers assume they should. We test folk intuitions regarding the causal theory of perception by asking our participants to what extent they agree that they would ‘see’ an object in various Gricean scenarios. We find that the intuitions of the folk do not strongly support the causal condition; they at most strongly support a ‘no blocker’ condition. We argue that this is problematic for the claim that the causal condition is a conceptual truth.

Coming Soon

Characterizing Invariance

Jack Woods

Demystifying Emergence

David Yates

Psychopaths, Ill-Will, and the Wrong-Making Features of Actions

Sean Clancy

Objectivism and Perspectivism about the Epistemic Ought

Jonathan Way and Conor McHugh

Replacing Race: Interactive Constructionism about Racialized Groups

Adam Hochman

Names, Masks, and Double Vision

Michael Olivier Rieppel

Passing as Privileged

Daniel Silvermint

Naive Validity, Internalization and Substructural Approaches to Paradox

Lucas Rosenblatt

A Dutch Book Theorem for Quantificational Credences

Benjamin Lennertz

Biased Against Debiasing: On the Role of (Institutionally Sponsored) Self-Transformation in the Struggle Against Prejudice

Alex Madva

The Logic of the Chiasm in Merleau-Ponty's Early Philosophy

Robin Muller

Leibniz on Fundamental Ontology: Idealism and Pedagogical Exoteric Writing

John Whipple

Halfhearted Action and Control

Joshua Shepherd

Bullshitting, Lying, and Indifference toward Truth

Andreas Stokke and Don Fallis

The Transitivity and Asymmetry of Actual Causation

Sander Beckers

The Epistemology and Auto-Epistemology of Temporal Self-Location and Forgetfulness

Wolfgang Spohn

Model Theory, Hume's Dictum, and the Priority of Ethical Theory

Jack Woods and Barry Maguire

Moral Worth and Moral Hobbies

Jennifer Ryan Lockhart

Shifty Contextualism About Epistemics

Caleb Perl

Utterance Understanding, Knowledge and Belief

Lars Dänzer