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.
Biased against Debiasing: On the Role of (Institutionally Sponsored) Self-Transformation in the Struggle against Prejudice
Research suggests that interventions involving extensive training or counterconditioning can reduce implicit prejudice and stereotyping, and even susceptibility to stereotype threat. This research is widely cited as providing an “existence proof” that certain entrenched social attitudes are capable of change, but is summarily dismissed—by philosophers, psychologists, and activists alike—as lacking direct, practical import for the broader struggle against prejudice, discrimination, and inequality. Criticisms of these debiasing procedures fall into three categories: concerns about empirical efficacy, about practical feasibility, and about the failure to appreciate the underlying structural-institutional nature of discrimination. I reply to these criticisms of debiasing, and argue that a comprehensive strategy for combating prejudice and discrimination should include a central role for training our biases away.
Robin M. Muller
The trajectory of Merleau-Ponty’s career is often seen as a progressive development: he begins by analyzing scientific consciousness in The Structure of Behavior, complements that account with a phenomenological analysis of behavior as lived in Phenomenology of Perception, and then overcomes the “philosophy of consciousness” to which the earlier texts are committed in the turn toward an ontology of flesh in The Visible and the Invisible. Through close readings of Merleau-Ponty’s engagements with Gestalt psychology in The Structure of Behavior, I argue that the immanent critique of Gestalt theory in that text already anticipates the chiasmic logic of flesh. This challenges the idea of a turn in Merleau-Ponty’s thinking. I begin by outlining the elemental, carnal, and reversible status of flesh. With careful attention to his source materials, I then distinguish Merleau-Ponty’s appropriations of Gestalt theoretical insights from his critical adaptations, defending three claims: (1) The Structure of Behavior borrows insights from Gestalt theorists that are undermined by their own, realistic ontology; (2) it modifies those insights to explicitly acknowledge the elemental status of nature; and (3) those modifications enable Merleau-Ponty to re-interpret Gestalt psychologists’ empirical findings, outlining how consciousness must emerge from nature as both carnal and reversible.
Cumming (2008) argues that his Masked Ball problem undermines Millianism, and that we must instead treat names as variables. However, although the Masked Ball does pose a problem for the Millian given a standard view about the meaning of ‘believes’, that view faces difficulties for independent reasons. I develop a novel “neo-Kaplanian” attitude semantics to address this problem, and go on to show that with this alternative semantics in hand, the Millian is quite capable of accounting for the Masked Ball.
Some of the things we do intentionally we do halfheartedly. I develop and defend an account of halfheartedness with respect to action on which one is halfhearted with respect to an action A if one’s overall motivation to A is weak. This requires getting clear on what it is to have some level of overall motivation with respect to an action, and on what it means to say one’s overall motivation is weak or strong. After developing this account, I defend the claim that one key functional expression of halfhearted action is the possession of impaired control over the action in question. Finally, I elucidate a puzzle that sometimes arises with respect to halfhearted action. The puzzle arises when an agent’s commitment in acting conflicts with an agent’s acceptance of poor performance.
Andreas Stokke and Don Fallis
This paper is about some of the ways in which people sometimes speak while being indifferent toward what they say. We argue that what Harry Frankfurt called ‘bullshitting’ is a mode of speech marked by indifference toward inquiry, the cooperative project of reaching truth in discourse. On this view bullshitting is characterized by indifference toward the project of advancing inquiry by making progress on specific subinquiries, represented by so-called questions under discussion. This account preserves the central insight of Frankfurt’s influential analysis of bullshitting in seeing the characteristic of bullshitting as indifference toward truth and falsity. Yet we show that speaking with indifference toward truth is a wider phenomenon than the one Frankfurt identified. The account offered in this paper thereby agrees with various critics of Frankfurt who argue that bullshitting is compatible with not being indifferent toward the truth-value of one’s assertions. Further, we argue that, while bullshitting and lying are not mutually exclusive, most lies are not instances of bullshitting. The account thereby avoids the problem that Frankfurt’s view ultimately is insufficient to adequately distinguish bullshitting and lying.
Leibniz’s views on fundamental ontology are a matter of great dispute in the secondary literature. Commentators have taken Leibniz to be committed to (1) a monadological metaphysics, (2) an ontology of corporeal substances, (3) different views at different times, and (4) inconsistent views. Monadological interpretations have been criticized for providing implausible readings of texts that seem to indicate a commitment to (2). I argue that a strong defense of (1) can be provided if we pay careful attention to Leibniz’s use of rhetorical strategies. Leibniz thinks it would be a mistake to straightforwardly present (1); he chooses instead to use pedagogical exoteric writing to gradually reveal (1) to his interlocutors. With this framework in place it is possible to provide perfectly natural monadological readings of texts that have been taken to indicate a commitment to (2).