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 Issues

Willing the End Means Willing the Means: An Overlooked Reading of Kant

Wooram Lee

In his Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant famously claims that it is analytic that whoever wills the end also wills the indispensably necessary means to it that is within his control. The orthodox consensus has it that the analytic proposition expresses a normative principle of practical reason. In this paper, I argue that this consensus is mistaken. On my resolute reading of Kant, he is making a descriptive point about what it is to will an end, and not making a normative claim of any sort. Kant’s argument is that when you know that some object is a necessary means to an end, you do not count as willing the end unless you also will the means, because of the distinctive content of willing: when you will an end, what you will is that you do whatever is necessary to bring about the end. I show how the resolute reading of Kant's analytic proposition explains the possibility of hypothetical imperatives and defend the resolute reading from the charge that it makes instrumental irrationality impossible.

Aquinas and Gregory the Great on the Puzzle of Petitionary Prayer

Scott Hill

I defend a solution to the puzzle of petitionary prayer based on some ideas of Aquinas, Gregory the Great, and contemporary desert theorists. I then address a series of objections. Along the way broader issues about the nature of desert, what is required for an action to have a point, and what is required for a puzzle to have a solution are discussed.


Robin Dembroff and Daniel Wodak

In this paper, we defend two main claims. The first is a moderate claim: we have a negative duty not to use binary gender-specific pronouns (he or she) to refer to genderqueer individuals. We defend this with an argument by analogy. It was gravely wrong for Mark Latham to refer to Catherine McGregor, a transgender woman, using the pronoun he; we argue that such cases of misgendering are morally analogous to referring to Angel Haze, who identifies as genderqueer, as he or she. The second is a radical claim: we have a negative duty not to use any gender-specific pronouns to refer to anyone, regardless of their gender identity. We offer three arguments in favor of this, which appeal to concerns about inegalitarianism and risk, invasions of privacy, and reinforcing essentialist ideologies (respectively). We also defend the compatibility of the the moderate and radical claim, in the face of the seemingly damning objections to the contrary. Before concluding, we examine common concerns about incorporating either they or a neologism such as ze as a third-person singular gender-neutral pronoun. These concerns, we argue, do not provide sufficient reason to reject either the moderate or radical claim.

Verbal Disputes in the Theory of Consciousness

Joseph Gottlieb

The primary aim of a theory of consciousness is to articulate existence conditions for conscious states, i.e. the conditions under which a mental state is conscious rather than unconscious. There are two main broad approaches: The Higher-Order approach and the First-Order approach. Higher-Order theories claim that a mental state is conscious only if it is the object of a suitable state of higher-order awareness. First-Order theories reject this necessary condition. However, both sides make the following claim: for any mental state M of a subject S, M is conscious iff there is something it is like for S to be in M. This is the Nagelian Conception of consciousness. Taking the Nagelian Conception as a starting point, I contend that the best rationalizing explanation for the ways in which Higher-Order and First-Order theorists contribute to their dispute is to see those contributions as consistent responses to two distinct questions.

Kant’s Revised Account of the Non-Moral Imperatives of Practical Reason

Laura Papish

Two generalizations can be made regarding Kant’s account of imperatives of skill and prudence. First, Groundwork 4:412-420 remains the locus classicus for reconstructions of Kant’s view. Second, it is widely agreed that Kant’s treatment of these imperatives is confusing, incomplete, and lacking the requisite argumentation. I agree that Groundwork 4:412-420 lacks a clear and defensible account of imperatives of skill and prudence. But while many think this spells trouble for Kant’s theory of non-moral practical imperatives more generally, and that Kant never really clarified his position, on this point I differ. Groundwork II is problematic, yet it’s not Kant’s final word on the non-moral imperatives of practical reason. In fact, there is substantial and broadly overlooked evidence that Kant later rejected much of the account he laid out in this text. This evidence is found primarily in the third Critique, and I explore this evidence and the virtues of Kant’s revised account.

Prestige Bias: An Obstacle to a Just Academic Philosophy

Helen De Cruz

This paper examines the role of prestige bias in shaping academic philosophy, with a focus on its demographics. I argue that prestige bias exacerbates the structural underrepresentation of minorities in philosophy. It works as a filter against (among others) philosophers of color, women philosophers, and philosophers of low socio-economic status. As a consequence of prestige bias our judgments of philosophical quality become distorted. I outline ways in which prestige bias in philosophy can be mitigated.

On the Very Idea of Metalinguistic Theories of Names

Aidan Gray

Metalinguistic approaches to names hold that proper names are semantically associated with name-bearing properties. I argue that metalinguistic theorists owe us an account of the metaphysics of those properties. The unique structure of the debate about names gives an issue which might look to be narrowly linguistic an important metaphysical dimension. The only plausible account of name-bearing treats name-bearing properties as a species of response-dependent property. I outline how such an account should look, drawing on forms of response-dependence identified in the literature on colour, moral properties, etc. Having done that, I show how the account can illuminate a feature of the communicative function of names which would otherwise be puzzling from the perspective of metalinguistic accounts.

A Perceptual Theory of Hope

Michael Milona and Katie Stockdale

This paper addresses the question of what the attitude of hope consists in. We argue that shortcomings in recent theories of hope have methodological roots in that they proceed with little regard for the rich body of literature on the emotions. Taking insights from work in the philosophy of emotions, we argue that hope involves a kind of normative perception. We then develop a strategy for determining the content of this perception, arguing that hope is a perception of practical reasons. Our proposal stands in contrast with familiar views on which hope is fundamentally about the good. We conclude by considering the increasingly popular idea that some hopes are non-intentional and thus, by implication, non-perceptual. We reply by arguing that our perceptual theory plausibly generalizes to these instances of hope.

Consciousness as Inner Sensation: Crusius and Kant

Jonas Jervell Indregard

What is it that makes a mental state conscious? Recent commentators have proposed that for Kant, consciousness results from differentiation: A mental state is conscious insofar as it is distinguished, by means of our conceptual capacities, from other states or things. I argue instead that Kant’s conception of state consciousness is sensory: A mental state is conscious insofar as it is accompanied by an inner sensation. Interpreting state consciousness as inner sensation reveals an underappreciated influence of Crusius on Kant’s view, solves some long-standing puzzles concerning Kant’s difficult doctrine of self-affection, and sheds light on his theory of inner experience.

Coming Soon

Implicit Bias and the Idealized Rational Self

Nora Berenstain

Does Mole’s Argument That Cognitive Processes Fail to Suffice for Attention Fail?

Kranti Saran

Our Bodies, Our Selves: Malebranche on the Feelings of Embodiment

Colin Chamberlain