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

Evidence One Does Not Possess

Jan Willem Wieland

Unpossessed evidence abounds. There is much to be seen and much to be had. Much of it will never have an impact on our epistemic standings, but some of it does. Some evidence is such that we are blameworthy for not having it, and there is a tricky question about how to delineate this class of evidence. In this paper, I address and propose a solution to the dilemma posed by lazy agents on the one hand and agents facing exceptional evidence on the other. One familiar suggestion is that agents are blameworthy when their conduct results from their vices, and I will make a proposal that further analyses such vices in terms of exceptionality facts.

Diachronic Norms for Self-Locating Beliefs

Wolfgang Schwarz

How should rational beliefs change over time? The standard Bayesian answer is: by conditionalization (a.k.a. Bayes’ Rule). But conditionalization is not an adequate rule for updating beliefs in “centred” propositions whose truth-value may itself change over time. In response, some have suggested that the objects of belief must be uncentred; others have suggested that beliefs in centred propositions are not subject to diachronic norms. I argue that these views do not offer a satisfactory account of self-locating beliefs and their dynamics. A third response is to replace conditionalization by a new norm that can deal with centred propositions. I critically survey a number of new norms that have been proposed, and defend one particular approach.

A Semantic Problem For Stage Theory

Matthew McKeever

I subject the semantic claims of stage theory to scrutiny and show that it’s unclear how to make them come out true for a simple and deep reason: the stage theorist needs tensed elements to semantically modify the denotations of referring expressions to enable us to talk about past and future stages. But in the syntax of natural language, expressions carrying tense modify verbs and adjectives and not referring expressions. This mismatch between what the stage theorist needs, and what language provides, makes it hard to see how the stage theorist’s semantic claims could be true.

The Inaccessibility of Religion Problem

Terence Cuneo

Call agents who do not have religious faith or belief but find some religious ways of life highly attractive on broadly practical grounds "religious inquirers." These agents find themselves in a difficult position. On the one hand, there are epistemic norms that enjoin us to be conscientious in our believings. Religious inquirers hold that conforming to these norms does not license having religious beliefs: there are simply too many evidential impediments to having such beliefs. On the other hand, there are norms that emanate from within the religious traditions themselves that speak against engaging in a religious way of life in order to enjoy its considerable goods by doing such things as playing the role of a believer or going through the ritualistic motions. Instead, these norms seem to call for genuine faith. These two sets of norms generate the inaccessibility of religion problem (or the "inaccessibility problem," for short). The problem is that there are goods intrinsic to the theistic religious traditions that religious inquirers find both valuable and attractive but are accessible only by flouting norms of either epistemic or religious conduct. In this essay, I propose a solution to the inaccessibility problem. I maintain that there is an attitude—receptivity to the experience of God—that enables religious inquirers to enjoy a wide range of the goods internal to a religious tradition but without violating either external epistemic norms or internal religious ones.

Phenomenal Privacy, Similarity and Communicability

Thomas Raleigh

A familiar sceptical worry about other minds is that if conscious experiences are private then I could never know whether another subject’s experiences are like mine. A somewhat different sort of worry is that I could not even understand another subject’s claims about the private features of her experience—and, conversely, that she could never understand my claims about my private features. Edward Craig (1982; 1986; 1997), taking Wittgenstein (1953) as his target, repeatedly argued that such incommunicability would not follow from the private nature of the features in question. The basic idea is that two subjects might each privately introduce predicates to describe their own private phenomenal features and these predicates might (albeit unknowably) have the same meaning, and that this could suffice for mutual understanding. After clarifying the notion of privacy at issue, I argue against this apparently plausible line of thought by showing how hard it is to make sense of the allegedly possible sameness of meaning.

Moral Worth and Moral Hobbies

Jennifer Ryan Lockhart

This paper argues that one promising recent account of moral worth, Julia Markovits’s Coincident Reasons Thesis, does not afford us the ability to draw a traditional distinction between actions that are performed from immediate inclination and actions that possess genuine moral worth (“Kant’s distinction”). I argue that a right-making reasons account of moral worth such as Markovits’s can in fact accommodate Kant’s distinction. To make this possible, we must go beyond the consideration of instrumental reasons and equip a right-making reasons account with a new, more general, sort of reason: a conditional reason. After introducing the notion of a conditional reason, I argue that one class of these reasons, hedonically conditional reasons, are crucial for understanding the reasons for which we pursue hobbies. Kant’s figure who pursues morally right action from immediate inclination might be understood as a moral hobbyist whose actions plausibly lack moral worth. This grounds an objection to Markovits’s own account as a sufficient condition on morally worthy action.

Cognitivism, Motivation, and Dual-Process Approaches to Normative Judgment

Brendan Cline

A central source of support for expressivist accounts of normative discourse is the intimate relationship between normative judgment and motivation. Expressivists argue that normative judgments must be noncognitive, desire-like states in order to be so tightly linked with motivation. Normative statements are then construed as expressions of these noncognitive states. In this paper, I draw on dual-process models in cognitive psychology to respond to this argument. According to my proposal, normative judgments are ordinary beliefs that are typically produced by two kinds of process: intuitive-affective processes and domain-general reasoning. When produced by the first kind of process, motivation and judgment tend to align. When produced by the second kind, motivation and judgment might not align. Since the first kind of process is the most common pathway of normative belief formation, normative judgments are typically accompanied by aligning motivation. This proposal enables cognitivists to explain the intimate link between normative judgment and motivation, thereby removing the major obstacle to interpreting normative statements truth-conditionally.

Coming Soon

Shifty Contextualism About Epistemics

Caleb Perl

Passing as Privileged

Daniel Silvermint