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

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.

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.

Davidsonian Causalism and Wittgensteinian Anti-Causalism: A Rapprochement

Matthieu Queloz

A longstanding debate in the philosophy of action opposes causalists to anti-causalists. Causalists claim the authority of Davidson, who offered powerful arguments to the effect that intentional explanations must be causal explanations. Anti-causalists claim the authority of Wittgenstein, who offered equally powerful arguments to the effect that reasons cannot be causes. My aim in this paper is to achieve a rapprochement between Davidsonian causalists and Wittgensteinian anti-causalists by showing how both sides can agree that reasons are not causes, but that intentional explanations are causal explanations. To this end, I first defuse Davidson’s Challenge, an argument purporting to show that intentional explanations are best made sense of as being explanatory because reasons are causes. I argue that Wittgenstein furnishes anti-causalists with the means to resist this conclusion. I then argue that this leaves the Master Argument for the claim that intentional explanations are causal explanations, but that by distinguishing between a narrow and a wide conception of causal explanation, we can resolve the stalemate between Wittgensteinian anti-causalists impressed by the thought that reasons cannot be causes and Davidsonian causalists impressed by the thought that intentional explanations must be causal explanations.

Experience and Time: Transparency and Presence

Christoph Hoerl

Philosophers frequently comment on the intimate connection there is between something’s being present in perceptual experience (call this experiential presence) and that thing’s being, or at least appearing to be, temporally present (call this temporal presence). Yet, there is relatively little existing work that goes beyond asserting such a connection and instead examines its specific nature. In this paper, I suggest that we can make progress on the latter by looking at two more specific debates that have hitherto been conducted largely in isolation from each other: one about the nature of conscious experience and one about the nature of time itself. The first concerns the extent to which the temporal properties of experience form an exception to the transparency of experience, meaning that introspection can provide support for one particular view of how experience itself is structured temporally; the second concerns the question as to whether there is something about experience that gives us grounds for thinking that the present is somehow metaphysically special. As I argue, the idea of a connection between experiential presence and temporal presence plays a key background role in each of these debates. Yet it can also, in each of them, be seen to draw one side towards making claims that are supposed to express an important truth but are at the same time, on the face of it, self-contradictory. In each case, resolving what it actually is that these claims are trying to get at turns on recognizing a distinctive feature of perceptual experience, which I refer to as its lack of temporal viewpointedness. Recognising this feature also helps in making sense of what the issues at stake actually are in the intuition of an intimate connection between experiential presence and temporal presence.

Understanding, Communication, and Consent

Joseph Millum and Danielle Bromwich

By giving consent, competent adults can permit acts that would otherwise be rights violations. In order to give valid consent a person must be capable of autonomous decision-making and her consent must be proffered voluntarily. However, competence and voluntariness are insufficient. The person who gives consent must also understand what she is authorizing. In this paper we develop an account of the understanding requirement for valid consent. We argue, contra existing accounts, that the content of the understanding requirement is minimal. Valid consent requires that the person proffering it understand just three things: (1) that she is giving consent; (2) how to exercise her right to give or refuse consent; and (3) to what she is being asked to consent. To meet the third condition, the profferer of consent must share an understanding with the recipient of consent of how the normative boundaries between them will be redrawn. This mutual understanding is achieved through successful communication. The content of what is successfully communicated can be analyzed in terms of implicatures: the overlap in utterer- and audience-implicature contains what both parties have communicated to each other and hence mutually understand.

Passing as Privileged

Daniel Silvermint

This paper rejects sweeping verdicts about passing as privileged, or attempts by members of oppressed, stigmatized, or discriminated-against groups to improve their lives by being misidentified as members of an advantaged group. Not only do many familiar arguments rely on problematic assumptions about authenticity and resistance, but they strain to accommodate the diverse identities, circumstances, and individual differences that ought to be affecting our verdicts. In this paper I examine the other-regarding and self-regarding considerations that might bear on the decision to pass. The potential other-regarding considerations are that passing involves deception, that passing reinforces stereotypes, and that passing agents opt out of the struggle to end oppression. The potential self-regarding considerations are that passing is a form of resistance, that passing is too costly for victims, and then my own position: that passing is a permissible form of self-regarding complicity. I close by hinting at ‘the ethics of looking out for yourself’, or the sort of action-guiding framework I think we need to develop in order to fully appreciate and assess strategies like passing.

Coming Soon

He/She/They/Ze

Robin Dembroff and Daniel Wodak

Aquinas and Gregory the Great on the Puzzle of Petitionary Prayer

Scott Hill

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

Wooram Lee