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. This arrangement is made possible by generous support from the Syracuse University College of Arts and Sciences, the Syracuse University Libraries, the Syracuse University Philosophy Department.

Papers are published as they are accepted; there is no regular publication schedule.

Current Issues

Probabilistic Promotion and Ability

Luke Elson

We often have some reason to do actions insofar as they promote outcomes or states of affairs. But what is it to promote an outcome? I defend a new version of ‘probabilism about promotion’. According to Minimal Probabilistic Promotion, we promote some outcome when we make that outcome more likely than it would have been if we had done something (anything) else. This makes promotion easy and reasons cheap.

Group Knowledge, Questions, and the Division of Epistemic Labour

Joshua Habgood-Coote

Discussions of group knowledge typically focus on whether a group’s knowledge that p reduces to group members’ knowledge that p. Drawing on the cumulative reading of collective knowledge ascriptions and considerations about the importance of the division of epistemic labour, I argue for what I call the Fragmented Knowledge account, which allows for more complex relations between individual and collective knowledge. According to this account, a group can know an answer to a question in virtue of members of the group knowing parts of that answer, when the whole answer is available to group-level action. I argue that this account explains a swathe of central cases of group knowledge, as well as explaining some central features of group knowledge.

The Normative Challenge for Illusionist Views of Consciousness

François Kammerer

Illusionists about phenomenal consciousness claim that phenomenal consciousness does not exist but merely seems to exist. At the same time, it is quite intuitive for there to be some kind of link between phenomenality and value. For example, some situations seem good or bad in virtue of the conscious experiences they feature. Illusionist views of phenomenal consciousness then face what I call the normative challenge. They have to say where they stand regarding the idea that there is a link between phenomenality and value. If they accept that there is such a link, they might be committed to revisionary normative consequences (and some of them may prove to be uncomfortable). If they deny that there is such link, they might avoid revisionary normative consequences (without being guaranteed against them) but then they have to give reasons to deny that such link obtains, which is not a trivial task. The existence of the normative challenge does not show that illusionism is false, but it shows that illusionism might have important consequences in the normative domain, which have to be clarified.

Relaxing about Moral Truths

Christine Tiefensee

As with all other moral realists, so-called relaxed moral realists believe that there are moral truths. Unlike metaphysical moral realists, they do not take themselves to be defending a substantively metaphysical position when espousing this view, but to be putting forward a moral thesis from within moral discourse. In this paper, I employ minimalism about truth to examine whether or not there is a semantic analysis of the claim ‘There are moral truths’ which can support this moral interpretation of one of moral realism’s key theses. My results are both discouraging and encouraging: Whilst I will argue that the claim ‘There are moral truths’ cannot be shown to be both moral and capable of demarcating relaxed realism from irrealism on the basis of a convincing semantic analysis that would be compatible with relaxed commitments, the moral interpretation of moral realism can be secured by modifying our understanding of what distinguishes relaxed realism from error-theoretic irrealism. Yet, we will see that this moral interpretation of moral realism does not ‘tumble out’ of the semantics provided for its central claims. Rather, hard work needs to be done before we can fully relax.

The State of the Discipline: New Data on Women Faculty in Philosophy

Sherri Lynn Conklin, Irina Artamonova, and Nicole Hassoun

This paper presents data on the representation of women at 98 philosophy departments in the United States, which were ranked by the Philosophical Gourmet Report (PGR) in 2015 as well as all of those schools on which data from 2004 exist. The paper makes four points in providing an overview of the state of the field. First, all programs reveal a statistically significant increase in the percentage of women tenured/tenure-track faculty, since 2004. Second, out of the 98 US philosophy departments selected for evaluation by Julie Van Camp in 2004, none in 2015 has 50% women philosophy faculty overall, while one has 50% women who are tenured/tenure track. Third, as of 2015, there is a clear pyramidal shape to the discipline: Women are better represented as Assistant than Associate and as Associate than Full professors. Fourth, women philosophy faculty, especially those who are tenured/tenure track, are better represented at Non-PGR ranked programs than at PGR ranked and PGR Top-20 programs in 2015.

Consciousness Science Underdetermined

Matthias Michel

Consciousness scientists have not reached consensus on two of the most central questions in their field: first, on whether consciousness overflows reportability; second, on the physical basis of consciousness. I review the scientific literature of the 19th century to provide evidence that disagreement on these questions has been a feature of the scientific study of consciousness for a long time. Based on this historical review, I hypothesize that a unifying explanation of disagreement on these questions, up to this day, is that scientific theories of consciousness are underdetermined by the evidence, namely, that they can be preserved “come what may” in front of (seemingly) disconfirming evidence. Consciousness scientists may have to find a way of solving the persistent underdetermination of theories of consciousness to make further progress.

Hume’s Deontological Response to Scepticism

Hsueh Qu

In this paper, I offer a novel interpretation of THN 1.4.7, which sees his sceptical problem and solution in THN 1.4.7 as taking a broadly deontological structure. Briefly, I read the ‘Dangerous Dilemma’ (THN 1.4.7.6-7) as embodying a false dichotomy between two deontological extremes concerning reflection, that is, thinking carefully about our mental states and faculties. The two horns of the Dangerous Dilemma are as follows: either embracing an absolute duty to constantly and incessantly reflect (leading to excessive scepticism); or maintaining that it is not the case that we have any duty to reflect to any degree (leading to credulity). Hume thus seeks to straddle these two horns and find a deontological middle path. The resolution to this dilemma turns on Hume’s realising that we have a duty to reflect only up to a point. Beyond this threshold, there is a level of reflection that is not required of us, but which is nevertheless good; in other words, such reflection is supererogatory. However, this seems to render excessive scepticism supererogatory. This unintuitive outcome can be avoided by appealing to a suitable account of value beyond the deontological threshold that is founded on usefulness and agreeableness. In the end, Hume manages to tread a path between scepticism and credulity, while nevertheless rejecting superstition and endorsing science and philosophy.

Philosophy’s Undergraduate Gender Gaps and Early Interventions

Adam Piovarchy

Researchers have found that philosophy’s gender gap gradually increases as students progress from first year to majoring and into graduate school. By analysing enrolments in philosophy units at Australian universities from 2005 to 2017, I argue that early interventions are likely to be more effective than typically assumed. My findings are consistent with previous data but improve on previous analyses in a few ways. First, this paper quantifies women’s risk of leaving philosophy relative to men at each point throughout their studies and confirms women’s relative risk of leaving philosophy is much higher than men’s throughout all of their undergraduate studies. Second, this paper shows there is a large pool of women who leave philosophy after taking only one unit and argues studies or interventions which focus on students closer to graduating may miss this group of women. Third, this paper argues interventions aimed at this group of women could be more effective at reducing our discipline’s gender gap than later interventions, because a much lower rate of uptake is needed. Trials aimed at identifying effective interventions may also be easier to conduct than we typically assume. I also identify four kinds of interventions that are worth trying, based on evidence from studies on gender gaps in STEM fields. These include having more role models for female students, exposing girls to philosophy from a younger age, boosting female students’ sense of belonging, and expanding the scope of careers that we market to students as possible with a philosophy major.

Coming Soon

Difference Minimizing Theory

Christopher J. G. Meacham

Gun Control, the Right to Self-Defense, and Reasonable Beneficence to All

Dustin Crummett and Philip Swenson

De Se Exceptionalism and Frege Puzzles

James R. Shaw

Imagination and the Distinction between Image and Intuition in Kant

R. Brian Tracz

Anscombe on Practical Knowledge and the Good

Jennifer A. Frey

The Sunk Cost "Fallacy" Is Not a Fallacy

Ryan Doody

The Past Tense View of Counterfactuals Revisited

Moritz Schulz

A Reasonable Little Question: A Formulation of the Fine-Tuning Argument

Luke A. Barnes

Kant on Inner Sensations and the Parity between Inner and Outer Sense

Yibin Liang