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Abudu, Kenneth U. , Imafidon, Elvis, . Epistemic Injustice, Disability, and Queerness in African Cultures
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 393-409
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Abstract: Perception, representations, and knowledge claims about disability and queerness vary across societies and cultures. In African cultures negative knowledge claims and representations of disability and queerness create a perception of the disabled and queer that are not only detrimental to such persons in African societies but arguably undermine the work of understanding difference and tolerance in general. These negative claims raise some epistemological questions, such as: how do Africans come to know about disability and how are such knowledge claims validated within African communities? Against this backdrop, this chapter critically examines the epistemology of disability and queerness in African traditions. It shows that the epistemic authoritarianism found in African epistemology leads to an epistemic injustice that contributes immensely to the discrimination against disabled and queer beings as reflected in many cultural practices across the continent of Africa. The chapter argues that knowledge claims about disability and queerness in Africa emerge mainly from neglect, superstition, myth, and, above all, ignorance.

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Abudu, Kenneth U., , . Language and Othering in African Contexts
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 317-329
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: Postmodern and post-analytic understanding of African thought was primarily a shift from attempts to understand African thought using Western conceptual lenses to attempt to understand African framework of thought from the conceptual scheme of the people whose thought was being studied. This paradigm shift in the study of a people’s culture championed by such scholars as Ludwig Wittgenstein – notable in his shift from the pictorial theory of language to the game theory – had and continues to have very successful results in the attempts by sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers to understand African (philosophical) thought. We recall, for instance, the insightful studies of Edward E. Evans-Pritchard, Peter Winch, and Robin Horton and the continuous records by ethnophilosophy. What stands out from this shift to conceptual scheme of a people as a means for unraveling their thought and ideas is the importance of language as a factor that cannot be ignored in understanding various aspects of the being, knowing, and acting of a people. This essay follows in this line of reasoning. It focuses on an underexplored area of the role of language in African thought: how language promotes or impedes positive and negative experiences of othering or alterity in African spaces. It argues that language is imperative to understanding the different levels of othering in African societies. It explores four areas where this is obvious: (1) the lack of competence to speak and communicate in the particular language spoken in the African community in which one dwells naturally in others such as person from the community in a manner that may be inimical to her well-being; (2) the ability to speak in a language of an African people to which one was not naturally born to promote positive relation with the self (the speaker) by the other (the community of selves) to the extent of blurring the gap between the self and the other; (3) the power of language to turn a complete stranger to a close friend when two African strangers meet in a foreign land such as in the Diaspora, a friendship formed solely on the basis of the sameness of language; and (4) the manner in which the other in an African place is conceptually represented to express the people’s understanding of and their responsibility toward the other in such a place. The essay concludes that language remains the richest source to explore and the fastest route to follow in the search for a people’s ideas about othering and difference.

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Adams, Marilyn McCord, , . Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God
1999, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
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Publisher’ Note: When confronted by horrendous evil, even the most pious believer may question not only life’s worth but also God’s power and goodness. A distinguished philosopher and a practicing minister, Marilyn McCord Adams has written a highly original work on a fundamental dilemma of Christian thought – how to reconcile faith in God with the evils that afflict human beings. Adams argues that much of the discussion in analytic philosophy of religion over the last forty years has offered too narrow an understanding of the problem. The ground rules accepted for the discussion have usually led philosophers to avert their gaze from the worst – horrendous – evils and their devastating impact on human lives. They have agreed to debate the issue on the basis of religion-neutral values, and have focused on morals, an approach that – Adams claims – is inadequate for formulating and solving the problem of horrendous evils. She emphasizes instead the fruitfulness of other evaluative categories such as purity and defilement, honor and shame, and aesthetics. If redirected, philosophical reflection on evil can, Adams’s book demonstrates, provide a valuable approach not only to theories of God and evil but also to pastoral care.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on philosophy of religion or atheism. It is most likely that this would serve as a secondary rather than primary reading, but would be particularly useful for students who feel that discussions of the problem of evil for theism are carried out at too high a level of abstraction to get to what is really central to the problem.

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Adeel, M. Ashraf, , . Evolution of Quine’s Thinking on the Thesis of Underdetermination and Scott Soames’s Accusation of Paradoxicality
2015, HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5(1): 56-69.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Abstract: Scott Soames argues that interpreted in the light of Quine’s holistic verificationism, Quine’s thesis of underdetermination leads to a contradiction. It is contended here that if we pay proper attention to the evolution of Quine’s thinking on the subject, particularly his criterion of theory individuation, Quine’s thesis of underdetermination escapes Soames’ charge of paradoxicality.

Comment: Good as a secondary reading for those who are confident with Quine’s thesis of underdetermination. Recomended for postgraduate courses in philosophy of science.

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Ahmed, Arif, , . Saul Kripke (Contemporary American Thinkers)
2007, Bloomsbury.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Introduction: Saul Kripke is one of the most important and original post-war analytic philosophers. His work has undeniably had a profound impact on the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. Yet his ideas are amongst the most challenging frequently encountered by students of philosophy. In this informative and accessible book, Arif Ahmed provides a clear and thorough account of Kripke’s philosophy, his major works and ideas, providing an ideal guide to the important and complex thought of this key philosopher. The book offers a detailed review of his two major works, Naming and Necessity and Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, and explores how Kripke’s ideas often seem to overturn widely accepted views and even perceptions of common sense. Geared towards the specific requirements of students who need to reach a sound understanding of Kripke’s thought, the book provides a cogent and reliable survey of the nature and significance of Kripke’s contribution to philosophy. This is the ideal companion to the study of this most influential and challenging of philosophers.

Comment: This would be very useful in a course on philosophy of language, the work of Saul Kripke, a course on metaphysics which dealt with essences or the necessary a posteriori, or a course dealing with Wittgenstein’s views on rule-following and private languages. There are separate chapters on names, necessity, rule-following, and private languages; so a syllabus could make use of these individually depending on need, rather than the entire book. Suitable for undergraduates and graduates.

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Akins, Kathleen, , . A bat without qualities?
1993, In Martin Davies & Glyn W. Humphreys (eds.), Consciousness: Psychological and Philosophical Essays. Blackwell. pp. 345–358.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: Discusses the alleged elusiveness of phenomenal consciousness / argues . . . that there is no way of telling ahead of time just what science will reveal to us / if we start from the thought that science can shed some light upon an alien point of view, we may well find ourselves with the intuition, nevertheless, that there is something that science must leave out / perhaps science can reveal the shape or structure of experience, but it leaves out the tone or shading / perhaps science can make plain to us the representational properties of experience, but it is silent about the phenomenal feel argues that this intuition . . . is to be resisted because it rests upon the flawed idea that we can separate the qualitative from the representational aspects of experience: the idea that it makes sense to try to imagine an experience that is qualitatively just like the visual experience that I am having now, but represents quite different objects and properties in the world

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Akins, Kathleen, , . Of sensory systems and the “aboutness” of mental states
1996, Journal of Philosophy 93(7): 337-372.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Summary: The author presents a critique of the classical conception of the senses assumed by the majority of naturalist authors who attempt to explain mental content. This critique is based on neurobiological data on the senses that suggest that they do not seem to describe objective characteristics of the world, but instead act “narcissistically”, so to speak, representing information depending on the specific interests of the organism.

Comment: This paper provides a good explanation of the integrated sensory-motor approach in philosophy of mind and how it differs from the classical conception. A good, easy to understand presentation of a challenge to the naive view that the senses give us objective information about the way the world is.

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Akins, Kathleen, , . What is it Like to Be Boring and Myopic?
1993, in Dennett and His Critics: Demystifying Mind, ed. B Dahlbom, Blackwell, 124-160.
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Summary: A response to Thomas Nagel’s famous paper “What is it Like to be a Bat?”. Akins uses neuroscientific data to argue that we can find out that bats may not actually have a point of view, and that, contrary to Nagel, this kind of objective study can bring us closer to understanding individuals’ subjective experiences, not further away.

Comment: As “What is it Like to be a Bat?” is frequently taught, this paper serves as an interesting counterpoint response to it, providing an alternative perspective. A bit technical and heavy on hard neuroscience, but full understanding of that part is not essential to grasping the basic argument.

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Alcoff, Linda Martin, , . On Judging Epistemic Credibility: Is Social Identity Relevant?
2000, In Naomi Zack (ed.), Women of Color and Philosophy: A Critical Reader. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 235-262.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by:

Abstract: In assessing the likely credibility of a claim or judgment, is it ever relevant to take into account the social identity of the person who has made the claim? There are strong reasons, political and otherwise, to argue against the epistemic relevance of social identity. However, there are instances where social identity might be deemed relevant, such as in determinations of criminal culpability where a relatively small amount of evidence is the only basis for the decision and where social prejudices can play a role in inductive reasoning. This paper explores these issues.

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Ali Mobini, Mohammed, , . Earth’s Epistemic Fruits for Harmony with God: An Islamic Theodicy
2013, in The Blackwell companion to the problem of evil (eds J. P. McBrayer and D. Howard-Snyder), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford. Chapter 20.
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Publisher’s Note: The best life is realized when all existents are in such harmony with one another that all can play their assigned roles. Suffering always comes from disharmony. The vital harmony of life is harmony between creatures and Creator; and the way in which a creature fits with the existence of the Creator is a necessary condition for the creature’s survival. Among all creatures, human beings are able to have comprehensive knowledge of God and achieve an active harmony with God in all aspects. The earth is a testing ground in which humans can prepare themselves epistemically and then practically to contribute actively to harmony with God. Since a laboratory has its own rules, we should not expect an ideal life in the earthly laboratory. After the laboratorial role that one plays in the present world, one still is on the watch and can share in the experiences of living people and develop epistemically so that one receives an epistemic safe point that is necessary for harmony with God.

Comment: A great chapter to use when teaching about theodicies, especially because it can be hard to find non-Christian theodicies in mainstream Philosophy of Religion literature. The laboratory analogy is particularly interesting, and it could be good to have a couple of seminar questions relating specifically to the strength of this analogy.

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Allen, Sophie, , . A Critical Introduction to Properties (Bloomsbury Critical Introductions to Contemporary Metaphysics)
2016, Bloomsbury
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Naomi Osorio-Kupferblum

Publisher’s Note: What do blue things have in common? Or electrons? Or planets? Distinct things appear to share properties; but what are properties and what is the best philosophical account of them? A Critical Introduction to Properties introduces different ontological accounts of properties, exploring how their formulation is shaped by the explanatory demands placed upon them.

This accessible introduction begins with a discussion of universals, tropes, sets and resemblance classes, the major objections to them and their responses, providing readers with a firm grasp on the competing ontological accounts of what (if anything) grounds similarity and difference. It then explores issues concerning the formulation and justification of property theories such as: how many properties are there? Should we accept a sparse ontology of properties, or an abundant one? Can we make a distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic properties? Do properties have their causal roles necessarily? What is the relationship between properties and other metaphysical phenomena such as causality, laws and modality? These questions get to the heart of why a coherent theory of properties is so important to metaphysics, and to philosophy more generally.

By concluding with the question of the ontological status of properties, the reader is introduced to some Carnapian and contemporary themes about the content and methodology of metaphysics. For students looking for an accessible resource and a more comprehensive understanding of contemporary metaphysics, A Critical Introduction to Properties is a valuable starting point.

Comment: This is an excellent introduction to a particularly important chapter in (first order) metaphysics. Each chapter is dedicated to a key aspect of properties (e.g. universals, tropes, grounded/ungrounded, intrinsic /extrinsic, categorical/dispositional properties, etc.) which Allen describes with great clarity. She gives plenty of references so that interested students can dig deeper easily. It is very clear in presenting arguments and counter-arguments.

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Alvarez, Maria, , . How many kinds of reasons?
2009, Philosophical Explorations: 12 (2): 181-193.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Abstract: Reasons can play a variety of roles in a variety of contexts. For instance, reasons can motivate and guide us in our actions (and omissions), in the sense that we often act in the light of reasons. And reasons can be grounds for beliefs, desires and emotions and can be used to evaluate, and sometimes to justify, all these. In addition, reasons are used in explanations: both in explanations of human actions, beliefs, desires, emotions, etc., and in explanations of a wide range of phenomena involving all sorts of animate and inanimate substances. This diversity has encouraged the thought that the term ‘reason’ is ambiguous or has different senses in different contexts. Moreover, this view often goes hand in hand with the claim that reasons of these different kinds belong to different ontological categories: to facts (or something similar) in the case of normative/justifying reasons, and to mental states in the case of motivating/explanatory reasons. In this paper I shall explore some of the main roles that reasons play and, on that basis, I shall offer a classification of kinds of reasons. As will become clear, my classification of reasons is at odds with much of the literature in several respects: first, because of my views about how we should understand the claim that reasons are classified into different kinds; second, because of the kinds into which I think reasons should be classified; and, finally, because of the consequences I think this view has for the ontology of reasons.

Comment: This paper discusses roles of reasons that they can play and whether different kinds of reasons are also ontologically different. It is a very good introductory paper on reasons, suitable for an introductory course on ethics or philosophy of action.

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Alvarez, Maria, , . Kinds of Reasons: An Essay in the Philosophy of Action
2010, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Publisher’s Note: Understanding human beings and their distinctive rational and volitional capacities is one of the central tasks of philosophy. The task requires a clear account of such things as reasons, desires, emotions and motives, and of how they combine to produce and explain human behaviour. In Kinds of Reasons, Maria Alvarez offers a fresh and incisive treatment of these issues, focusing in particular on reasons as they feature in contexts of agency. Her account builds on some important recent work in the area; but she takes her main inspiration from the tradition that receives its seminal contemporary expression in the writings of G.E.M. Anscombe, a tradition that runs counter to the broadly Humean orthodoxy that has dominated the theory of action for the past forty years. Alvarez’s conclusions are therefore likely to be controversial; and her bold and painstaking arguments will be found provocative by participants on every side of the debates with which she engages. Clear and directly written, Kinds of Reasons aims to stake out a distinctive position within one of the most hotly contested areas of contemporary philosophy.

Comment: This book is on the ontological nature of reasons for which we act carries on. The first two chapters are very good introductory readings on reasons broadly. Chapters 3 to 5 explore the connection between reasons and motivation. Topics include what motivates actions, whether desires are motivating reasons, and whether motivating reasons are belief. They are proper introductory reading material for courses on ethics, reasons and philosophy of action.

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Andersen, Holly, , Rick Grush. A Brief History of Time Consciousness: Historical Precursors to James and Husserl
2009, Journal of the History of Philosophy 47: 277-307.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simon Prosser

Abstract: William James’ Principles of Psychology, in which he made famous the ‘specious present’ doctrine of temporal experience, and Edmund Husserl’s Zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins, were giant strides in the philosophical investigation of the temporality of experience. However, an important set of precursors to these works has not been adequately investigated. In this article, we undertake this investigation. Beginning with Reid’s essay ‘Memory’ in Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, we trace out a line of development of ideas about the temporality of experience that runs through Dugald Stewart, Thomas Brown, William Hamilton, and finally the work of Shadworth Hodgson and Robert Kelly, both of whom were immediate influences on James (though James pseudonymously cites the latter as ‘E.R. Clay’). Furthermore, we argue that Hodgson, especially his Metaphysic of Experience (1898), was a significant influence on Husserl.

Comment: Background reading on temporal perception – a nice historical survey of discussions of the specious present.

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Anderson, Elizabeth, , . Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science
2015, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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Abstract: Feminist epistemology and philosophy of science studies the ways in which gender does and ought to influence our conceptions of knowledge, the knowing subject, and practices of inquiry and justification. It identifies ways in which dominant conceptions and practices of knowledge attribution, acquisition, and justification systematically disadvantage women and other subordinated groups, and strives to reform these conceptions and practices so that they serve the interests of these groups. Various practitioners of feminist epistemology and philosophy of science argue that dominant knowledge practices disadvantage women by (1) excluding them from inquiry, (2) denying them epistemic authority, (3) denigrating their ‘feminine’ cognitive styles and modes of knowledge, (4) producing theories of women that represent them as inferior, deviant, or significant only in the ways they serve male interests, (5) producing theories of social phenomena that render women’s activities and interests, or gendered power relations, invisible, and (6) producing knowledge (science and technology) that is not useful for people in subordinate positions, or that reinforces gender and other social hierarchies. Feminist epistemologists trace these failures to flawed conceptions of knowledge, knowers, objectivity, and scientific methodology. They offer diverse accounts of how to overcome these failures. They also aim to (1) explain why the entry of women and feminist scholars into different academic disciplines, especially in biology and the social sciences, has generated new questions, theories, and methods, (2) show how gender and feminist values and perspectives have played a causal role in these transformations, (3) promote theories that aid egalitarian and liberation movements, and (4) defend these developments as cognitive, not just social, advances.

Comment: A very detailed primer on feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. Covers a wide range of topics and issues, its length is such that it would probably be best to assign specific sections that are of interest rather than reading the whole thing. Useful as a preliminary introduction to the topics covered, and also offers a good summary of objections to the views presented.

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