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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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Bergqvist, Anna, , . Thick Concepts and Context Dependence
2013, Southwest Philosophy Review 29(1): 221-32.
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Added by: Graham Bex-Priestley, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper I develop my account of moral particularism, focussing on the nature of thick moral concepts. My aim is to show how the particularist can consistently uphold an non-reductive cognitivist ‘dual role’ view of thick moral concepts, even though she holds that the qualities ascribed by such concepts can vary in their moral relevance – so that to judge that something is generous or an act of integrity need not entail that the object of evaluative appraisal is good to some extent. A novel particularist account of thick concepts is proposed, in response to recent work on variance holism. The particularist rejects the holist’s attempt to preserve the idea that thick concepts are evaluative concepts by postulating a special semantic content, a contextually variable evaluative valence, as theoretically unmotivated and conceptually confused. Instead it is argued that the thick concepts have determinable evaluative content in situ only.

Comment: This paper deals with very specific issues relating to how a particularist ought to construe thick concepts. It may be useful as further reading on Jonathan Dancy’s work.

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Lloyd, Elisabeth A., , . Evolutionary Psychology: The Burdens of Proof
1999, Biology and Philosophy 14 (2):211-233.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Carl Hoefer; Patricia Rich

Abstract: I discuss two types of evidential problems with the most widely touted experiments in evolutionary psychology, those performed by Leda Cosmides and interpreted by Cosmides and John Tooby. First, and despite Cosmides and Tooby’s claims to the contrary, these experiments don’t fulfil the standards of evidence of evolutionary biology. Second Cosmides and Tooby claim to have performed a crucial experiment, and to have eliminated rival approaches. Though they claim that their results are consistent with their theory but contradictory to the leading non-evolutionary alternative, Pragmatic Reasoning Schemas theory, I argue that this claim is unsupported. In addition, some of Cosmides and Tooby’s interpretations arise from misguided and simplistic understandings of evolutionary biology. While I endorse the incorporation of evolutionary approaches into psychology, I reject the claims of Cosmides and Tooby that a modular approach is the only one supported by evolutionary biology. Lewontin’s critical examinations of the applications of adaptationist thinking provide a background of evidentiary standards against which to view the currently fashionable claims of evolutionary psychology

Comment: This paper provides important constructive criticism of the influential evolutionary psychology research program. It makes sense to discuss it together with an introduction to that program, for example ‘Evolutionary Psychology: A Primer’

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Schrader-Frechette, Kristin, , . Individualism, Holism, and Environmental Ethics
1996, Ethics and the Environment, 1 (1): 55-69.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Abstract: Neoclassical economists have been telling us for years that if we behave in egoistic, individualistic ways, the invisible hand of the market will guide us to efficient and sustainable futures. Many contemporary Greens also have been assuring us that if we behave in holistic ways, the invisible hand of ecology will guide us to health and sustainable futures. This essay argues that neither individualism nor holism will provide environmental sustainability. There is no invisible hand, either in economics or in ecology. Humans have no guaranteed tenure in the biosphere. Likewise there is no philosophical quick fix for environmental problems, either through the ethical individualism of Feinberg, Frankena, and Regan, or through the ecological holism of Callicott and Leopold. The correct path is more complex and tortuous than either of these ways. The essay argues that the best way to reach a sustainable environmental future probably is through a middle path best described as “hierarchical holism.”.

Comment: This text intervenes in the debate over holism and individualism in environmental ethics–specifically, as it concerns questions of environmental protection and conservation. It would fit well in a course on environmental ethics that discusses questions of either the metaphysics of nature or the nature of value.

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Wolf, Susan, , . Moral Psychology and the Unity of the Virtues
2007, Ratio 20 (2): 145–167.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Abstract: The ancient Greeks subscribed to the thesis of the Unity of Virtue, according to which the possession of one virtue is closely related to the possession of all the others. Yet empirical observation seems to contradict this thesis at every turn. What could the Greeks have been thinking of? The paper offers an interpretation and a tentative defence of a qualified version of the thesis. It argues that, as the Greeks recognized, virtue essentially involves knowledge – specifically, evaluative knowledge of what matters. Furthermore, such knowledge is essentially holistic. Perfect and complete possession of one virtue thus requires the knowledge that is needed for the possession of every other virtue. The enterprise of trying to reconcile the normative view embodied in this conception of virtue with empirical observation also serves as a case study for the field of moral psychology in which empirical and normative claims are often deeply and confusingly intertwined.

Comment: Useful as further reading in courses focusing on ancient and moral philosophy. Can be particularly useful in teaching on topics related to moral psychology and its relations with moral philosophy.

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Zahle, Julie, , . The individualism-holism debate on intertheoretic reduction and the argument from multiple realization.
2003, Philosophy of the Social Sciences 33.1: 77-99.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Patricia Rich

Abstract: The argument from multiple realization is currently considered the argument against intertheoretic reduction. Both Little and Kincaid have applied the argument to the individualism-holism debate in support of the antireductionist holist position. The author shows that the tenability of the argument, as applied to the individualism-holism debate, hinges on the descriptive constraints imposed on the individualist position. On a plausible formulation of the individualist position, the argument does not establish that the intertheoretic reduction of social theories is highly unlikely. Nonetheless, the reductive project may run into other potential obstacles. For this reason, it is concluded that the prospect of intertheoretic reduction is uncertain rather than unlikely.

Comment: This reading discusses one of the most important arguments in the methodological individualism / holism debate in the philosophy of social science. It is recommended for a philosophy of social science class.

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